Monthly Archives: April 2011

Apology…

Apology

Recurrent lump.

Enough.

No pain if no one feels it?

Car in garage. Duct tape.

A letter.

Please forgive.

_______________________________________________________

I wanted to take another stab at micro-fiction (less than 50 words). How few words does it really take to tell a story?  As you can see, micro-fiction has much in common with prose poetry and haiku.

Image by CIA de Foto

Advertisements

Zombie Wranglers…

Zombie Wranglers

Derek sped after the strays, driving hard around a cactus, down into an arroyo, and finally emerging onto a flat plain. Out here in the open, the strays were no match for the speed of Derek’s horse. But they split up. So Derek chose the one that looked easier to catch: a fat rancher, once.

He threw his lasso and caught the zombie around the neck. Derek knew not to pull too tightly. Out in this heat, the bogeys didn’t stay together too well. And Derek had already been docked two days’ pay for damaging stock. Boss said the venture capitalists only paid for intact zombies. Why? Derek didn’t care.

The zombie struggled fiercely at the end of the static pole Derek had attached to it’s neck. The rope was fine for catching bogeys, but only a static pole or a head shot would keep them off you at this distance.

Riding back into camp, Derek called out, “We’ll need to ride the south fence later on to catch that other stray ‘fore it gets dark.”

“What difference does it make if we lose one?” Roy asked. Being the new guy, Roy had much to learn, in Derek’s opinion. A city boy who’d chosen to come out West for the job opportunities that zombie wrangling represented. Derek had been a wrangler long before the apocalypse. Back when the herds were horses.

“Well Roy,” Derek said, “for one thing, if we lose one it’s gonna come out of our paychecks. For another thing, when we can’t account for all the bogeys in the herd, that means there is a good chance that you might one day be over behind a cactus taking a shit or playing with yourself, and that missing boy’ll come up behind you and take a nice bite out of your ass.”

“Whatever,” Roy mumbled, and walked off toward the mess wagon.

“You think he’ll ever get it?” Manny asked.  Manny was one of the best wranglers Derek had ever worked with.

“He better. Or one day he’ll get one of us killed, sure as your shit stinks.”

Derek grabbed the static pole and pushed the captive zombie into the holding pen then went to the mess wagon for a cup of coffee. He sat down next to Roy on a tan, dusty rock.

“Boy,” Derek said, “I been out in this country my whole life. You don’t even know what you don’t know yet. This country don’t give you no second chances. Them damn zombies are just one more way to die out here. You understand what I’m saying to you?”

Roy looked down at his dusty boots. “You know what I was before I came out here? An accountant. Everything nice and tidy in a spreadsheet. I liked that. Then I watched  my wife and daughter get eaten. I wished I had a gun, been prepared. I might have saved them.  After that, well, there was no reason to stay in Philly. I always wanted to be a cowboy. Get to shoot things.”

They heard Manny scream from the direction of the holding pen. “Shit! I been bit!”

Roy’s face drained white. “Bit?”

But Derek was already up and running. “Manny! That damn thing circle back here already?”

Derek saw Manny’s boots sticking out from behind a rock. He sprinted over, breathless.

Manny’s eyes were wide. He was covered in sweat.

Derek saw no sign of the zombie.

“We gotta get you out of here,” Derek said, staying alert for any movement.

“Snake,” Manny panted. “It was a rattlesnake.”

“OK. Got it.” Derek slashed the wound and started sucking the venom out.

Roy came around the corner, wild-eyed.  He saw Derek sucking on Manny’s arm and said, “Derek, what the fuck are you doing?”

Derek turned to Roy, his mouth bloody, and said, “Now, hold on son -”

Roy put a bullet in Derek’s head and another in Manny’s.

He looked down at them.

There was a shuffling noise behind him.

________________________________________________________________________

Photo by Ashley Campbell


Dummies – Nuclear Test Site, Nevada 1953…

Dummies – Nuclear Test Site, Nevada 1953

Good jobs,

Government man say.

Even children paid.

Keep house.

Keep new furniture.

Love children.

Love life.

_____________

Momma go out?

No.

Momma go out?

No.

M –

__________________________________________________

Image by Mark Holloway


The Cathedral of the Immigrants…

the cathedral of the immigrants

The Cathedral of the Immigrants

Dan McKee looked at the sparse array of food on his plate. It was hard enough to be this hungry himself. But the vacant stares of his children were the real reason for his barren spirit.

He could feel Marianne looking at him across the table. She said, “You children finish up now and get off to bed. Your father and I need to talk. Privately.”

When the kids were gone, Marianne said, “Dan, you can’t go there tonight. What if there’s some kind of violence?”

“Violence? Isn’t there already violence?” A vein stood out ropelike on his forehead. “Where are all the jobs, Mare? Since the slugs came – “

“Do not use that word in this house.” Marianne leveled her eyes at her husband. An index finger raised in warning.

“It’s my house too. The slugs – the green slime, the immigrants – whatever you want to call them, they need to go back where they came from. This planet isn’t big enough for all of us.”

“They’re living beings. They have rights, Dan.”

“Don’t we?”

Through the open kitchen window, they heard angry shouts and breaking glass.

Dan got up, put on his jacket and said, “I need to go. The union says we gotta stick together on this. This is for our future, Mare. Can’t you see that?”

“If our future depends on burning that church down, then maybe we shouldn’t have one.”

The door closed and he was gone.

As Dan emerged onto the street, the surging crowd shoved him into the brick façade of his apartment building.

Faces contorted by rage stampeded by him. Children ran by carrying guns and hammers, screaming death to the slugs.

Dan was swept into the current and carried to the church.

He choked on thick smoke and stumbled to the front of the crowd. People were throwing rocks at the church; he saw shattered stained glass on the sidewalk.

Dan found Frank Silverman, a senior steward in the union.

“Frank, what’s the situation?”

Silverman said, “They’ve locked themselves in. They have nowhere to go now.”

Dan looked around. People held signs reading ‘Earth for humans!’ and ‘Kill All Slugs!’. There were guns, axes, baseball bats, and metal pipes.

Suddenly, the street in front of the church was bathed in a deep green luminescence. The crowd’s energy was suspended and Dan heard only a few dying murmurs.

The enormous door to the church opened. Dan saw the immigrant slide out. It was eight or nine feet long, green with black stripes running down either side. It had no arms or legs.

Silence.

The thing rose up, supported by its coiled tail. It surveyed the crowd.

Silence.

Then the creature shook its head violently from side to side and thumped the steps of the church with its thick tail. It breathed in and out with great, loud chuffs. And then it started to shriek. The wailing echoed off the buildings up and down the street. Dan pushed his hands against his ears along with everyone else.

Then it stopped. Silence again.

Frank Silverman came up behind Dan and pushed a Molotov cocktail into his hand. He whispered in Dan’s ear, “Light it and throw it on my signal.”

Dan looked at the immigrant. It was quaking. With hatred or fear, Dan couldn’t say.

The bottle felt cool and heavy in his hand.

________________________________________________________________

For many years now, I have had a recurring dream. I’m on an airplane and we land on a deserted street in a large city. For some reason, it feels like Philadelphia, though why that is I can’t say. At any rate, I’m the only person on the flight. We land on this deserted street and keep rolling. We roll all the way to the ghetto. It’s dark. The plane stops in front of this enormous cathedral. I get off and go up to the steps leading to this ancient carved oaken door. I can see old newspapers blowing in the wind across the stone steps. The door opens and a hooded monk appears holding a lantern. I ask, “What is this place?”. The monk replies, “This is the Cathedral of the Immigrants. ” Then I awaken. I should point out the dream is not frightening to me at all.

Image above by Toshihiro Oimatsu


Lucy on the Floor…

Lucy on the Floor

I’ll never forget that first time. Stay put. I’ll tell you all about it.

Chet – he’s my ex –  he’d been gone for months and I couldn’t stand the thought of spending another Friday night at home staring at the baby monitor. Waiting for something.

So, I’d asked Mrs. Sawicki to watch the baby because I was going out. I was sick of drinking wine from a fucking box. I needed some people around. But not to talk to, you know? And something good and strong to numb the rage. Fucking Chet and his little whore.

My friends of course had been trying to get me to go out with them for weeks. I was not in the mood to hear their cute stories about the dumbass things their husbands did all week. They stopped asking after a while.

So I went down to Lucky Sevens. There’d be no one I knew there. First time in, I felt at home instantly. Low lights. Cigarette smoke. Boozy smell from the carpet. Not much talking. Just men staring down at their glasses. Jukebox tunes. What was that? Vic Damone, I think. Sad.

The bartender. That old fuck with warts all over his face? Willie, that’s it. He tells me he got just the thing for a woman with my…problems.

So he turns some bottles over into a big sixteen-ounce glass. I see tequila. And blackberry brandy. I’m thinking I’m gonna be on my ass after a few tugs of this.

He brings it to me and I take a pull. It’s fruity. A little. After a few more sips, I got this warm glow dancing up and down my thighs and forearms. I feel stupendous. Happy. But more than anything else, I feel powerful. I ain’t scared no more. That drink made me feel like it’s my turn to run things.

Well, I get up on the parquet floor and start dancing. Real sexy dancing. Those drunks take a peek. Willie says there was enough booze in that drink to kill a rhino. But me? I’m out on the floor. Swinging my ass to Tony Bennet. I feel like Xena. A warrior. Not to be fucked with. For once in my life.

That night, right then and there, Willie named that drink the Lucy on the Floor.

Because of the dancing. Not what you were probably thinking, love.

And I killed my first loser that night. Right in this basement.

Don’t strain so hard, baby. You’ll hurt your wrists. Too tight?

Oh, I’ve met lots of losers, just like you, at the Lucky Sevens. And other places too.

Nothing like a little dancing to put some lead in the pencil, right? And absolutely nothing like a Lucy on the Floor to keep you quiet.

I’m gonna go to the kitchen. Get my tools and another drink.

Don’t worry, hon,  I’ll be back down on the floor with you.

We’re gonna fly to the moon.

Well, at least I am.

____________________________________________________________\

This story was submitted to Chuck Wendig’s site, for the terribleminds flash fiction challenge.  So the challenge was to write a story with a cocktail as the title. Limit: 500 words.  I looked around online. I passed up Satan’s Whiskers, and  The Purple Pimp. Finally “Lucy on the Floor” spoke to me and the story you just read (hopefully) was born.  By the way, if you like any of the stories you find here, check out Chuck Wendig’s site. It is not, however, for anyone with, shall we say, delicate sensibilities. Enjoy!

Oh, one last thing: the ingredients for the real Lucy on the Floor:

1 shot After Shock Blue

2 shots Blackberry Brandy

3 shots white tequila

¼ orange juice

¼ cranberry juice

Image above by centralasian.


Blue…

Blue

Getting cold now.

The only noise the constant hum of the CO2 scrubbers. How long they’ll last is anyone’s guess.

Hinchman has killed the rest of the crew I think . Don’t know exactly where he is right now but that man has blown a major fuse.

Could be cabin fever. I don’t know, something that got missed on the pre-mission psych eval. Too late now to do anything about that.

I need to get to the galley, get some food. So hungry now.

Trouble is, these corridors just call out for an ambush. That’ll just make my day to have Hinchman float up behind me with that wild look on his face. I’ve seen his handiwork on the others. No thank you.

Got to think. But so hungry, and breathing getting difficult. Scrubbers getting wasted.

Valerie and the kids are probably putting up Easter decorations. Told them I’d be home.

This will be tough on Jenna, especially. She takes being the eldest so seriously.

Commlinks are all disabled, thank you Major Hinchman. They won’t get a rescue party here in time to make a difference.

Over the subcontinent right now. How I’d love to be able to transport down, and get some good spicy food. A nice cold Kingfisher Ale.

Where is he?

Do I force a confrontation and hope for the best? If I don’t, I’ll just starve here. Maybe pass out.

I step out into the corridor. Just the hum of the scrubbers still.

It’s dark. Emergency LED’s are on but they don’t shed much light on anything.

Shadows everywhere. Hum.

It’s nearly black as space in here.

I feel so alone.

I’m terrified.

I’ll just look out this port for a while.

The Earth is such a beautiful blue.

________________________________________________________

I’ve always been fascinated by the sense of isolation astronauts must feel out in the immensity of space, dwarfed by the earth. And I have a recurring image that pops into my head every now and then of a darkened space station with only two living people (or things) on it. There’s isolation, conflict, and longing for the blueness of home. Family. Just decided to put myself there for a few minutes. “Blue” was the result.

Photo by Bruce Irving


Hearts and Minds…

Hearts and Minds

Personal journal and camera found in vest pocket of deceased male.

Body discovered in Tondo, Manila 13 April 1983.

Preliminary cause of death: Multiple gunshot wounds to the head.

Film evidence developed: one photo as noted above.

My Dear Maribeth,

Manila is beautiful, but so crowded! Getting around here is worse than Hong Kong and Bangkok.

The scams started right at the airport, with people vying for my dollars:

Need ride, Joe?

Change money, Joe?

Want girls, Joe?

It was all a bit of a whirlwind. No one from the mission came to pick me up so I had to cab it into the compound.

The sights and sounds remain imprinted on my brain: the diesel exhaust everywhere, the salty, fishy open markets with a million flies, the endless honking of horns from the Jeepneys.

I made it to the compound- Lord be praised – and immediately sought out Reverend Bailey, who apologized effusively for the oversight in not sending a car for me.

God has his ways, I told him. To let him off the hook.

Of course, now that I am here to assume administrative control of the mission, things like this little mishap will not recur.

I’m sure you’ll agree that my organizational skills at home have been a boon and a blessing to our family life.

At any rate, I must unpack and get settled. There is much work to be done and I feel that the Lord has chosen wisely in sending someone with my skills to this mission which is in total disarray.

______________________________________________________

It has been five days since I last wrote.

Reverend Bailey and I have had some harsh words, I’m afraid.

As you know, despite my superlative efficiency, I have an unfortunate lack of patience in the face of tasks set before me. And, my dear, as you know, I feel it is more important to state one’s opinion clearly without resorting to the obfuscation of diplomacy.

Reverend Bailey has reminded me time and again that it is essential to get to know everyone before attempting to institute any far-reaching changes in how things are done here in the compound.

I fail to see the utility in this.

For instance, the good Reverend allows the street urchins full run of the compound. I am sure they are stealing some of the equipment sent out here by the hardworking and good-hearted people of the parish.

I have taken it upon myself, despite protestations from Bailey, to inform these urchins they are no longer welcome in the compound.

My air of authority, my size, and, yes, my dear, my whiteness should be enough to win them over to my way of thinking.

I believe Reverend Bailey has it all wrong: Get to know them?

When in God’s name would we find time to help them?

________________________________________________________

Ten days later now, my pet.

I have confronted the cretins running wild in the compound and, not only that, I have had their ‘handler’ arrested. A man clearly using these innocents for less than Godly deeds.

Now that these unfortunate boys have seen the light and accepted Jesus as their savior (and me as their taskmaster), I think that the compound will be safer, more efficiently run, and the lives of these former miscreants will have turned a corner onto a new life, lit and warmed by the grace of our Merciful Redeemer.

I am going out right now to meet the boys down in the barrio. They have invited me to the feast of a local saint.  Old Bailey should see me now. All these people need is a firm hand. I am going to bring my camera so you can  see how their faces, once shadowed by the darkness of ignorance, now shine with the love of the one true God.

Yours in Christ,

Devlin S. Periore

First Deacon

United Baptist Church

Enid, Oklahoma


____________________________________________________________

Photo by Eric Molina


%d bloggers like this: