Friday, November 30, 2007


This post is dedicated to Church Lady.

On Wednesday, when I did my remembrance post for Margaret Roberts, Church Lady commented, "Your spirit is particularly well-tuned today. What will you do?" The question threw me for a little bit of a loop. Old timers here at the Clarity of Night have probably gleaned an undercurrent about me that although I very much like to see the poetry and beauty in things, I tend to value logic and scientific thought highest of all. I also tend not to look for powers in the universe higher than us. I prefer to hold ourselves responsible for every element and every action that makes up the world.

I'm open-minded about "signs" and higher meaning in events, but I'm highly skeptical. For example, are particular people destined to suffer, or are they the product of their own choices? Are successful people blessed, or are they being rewarded for their positive decisions?

When Church Lady challenged me to direct my spiritual energy, I really couldn't come up with an adequate response. I simply promised to listen. Maybe it just took a extra day for fate to speak. Here's what happened.

I purposefully keep my professional identity and writing/creative identity separate, but this time I'll give you a glimpse. I represent a boarding school for disadvantaged children. After a meeting yesterday, I called a cab to take me back to my center city office. When I got into the backseat of the car, the driver asked me a few questions about the institution. As we drove around the loop to the front gate, I started to answer. A couple of blocks later, I realized these weren't casual questions.

Here was a man in great pain, a man who just happened to be called by the dispatcher to pick me up at the place that was eating away at him.

He passed pictures of his children back through the divider. He told me about how it broke his heart that the mother, who has primary custody, sent them away to live at this particular boarding school because she couldn't "handle them" anymore. He saw himself as a responsible man and father and was very hurt that not only were his children not living at home, but their admission to the school was partially based on lies about his lack of support as a parent. Because of these feelings, he resisted learning anything about the school. He viewed it as an adversary.

After he shared all this with me, he looked at me in the rearview mirror. He waited to see what I would say.

So I told him the truth.

I said I understood how he felt about the mother's personal struggles and about how he ached to see his children at a boarding school. But I also explained what an amazing opportunity it was. Public education in the city leaves much to be desired, and his children were receiving a nationally-recognized education that would make a tremendous difference in their lives. The excitement and dedication at that institution is truly remarkable.

Most importantly, I told him he would be welcome there.

All I did was call for a taxi. What I got was the privilege to lighten a man's burden. Now he can see a gift where he saw only insult and resentment.

At the end of the ride, he thanked me. I told him that even though he cringed at the call, it was a good thing he came to pick me up. He said there are no such things as coincidences. Szelsofa made that point also in comments, and Kaycie used those exact words.

Are these things merely coincidences? Maybe not.

Or maybe I simply chose to help someone when I could have wrapped myself in my own problems.

Either way, I'm happy to have played my part.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Remember: Margaret Roberts

The Remembrance Series: When I walk among old graves, I think about the voices struggling to endure. Someday not even stone will protect us from being forgotten.

We can give these voices a little more life in a way they never could have imagined. So please take a moment with me to remember....

memory of
Wife of John E. Roberts
Born June 27, 1803
Died November 28, 1879
Aged 76 years, 5 months & 1 day

Adieu my friends, weep not for me. Though often times my grace you see. But raise your minds to things above. Where all is joy and peace and love.

(Note: I did not plan this, but as I finished this post, I saw that Margaret died today. If you are the type of person to find signs in things, this one is hard to ignore.)

  St. Thomas Episcopal Church, Morgantown, Pennsylvania.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Warm Hands

If I kiss you where it's sore,
Will you feel better (better, better)?
Will you feel anything at all?

--Regina Spektor, "Better"

"It's cold," she said.


"Really strange this year. The way the leaves are still around."

"Yeah. Global warming. We're all dead."

Her gaze drifted up the other hillside. "Oh well."

The grey mist blew and tickled his face.

"Sometimes I want to hop a train," he said.

"Like that one?"


"But it's not moving."

"It could. Any moment."

"It's been there a month, at least."

"I could wait."

She buttoned up her sweater. Her fingers moved like water over rocks. "So what do you want to do?"

He stared.

"I don't know."

"It doesn't have to be so hard to be happy, you know."

He shrugged his coat more tightly over his shoulders. The mist sprinkled into rain.

Without catching her eye, he took her hand. Squeezed it a little.

Despite the season, it still felt warm.

(The area pictured is just beyond the former dam of Lake Conemaugh, which breached after relentless rains in 1889. The resulting wave destroyed the city of Johnstown, Pennsylvania.)

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving Dinner Conversation

(Click on the pictures if they're too small to read.)

(To my United States readers)
Have a wonderful holiday!

(Wild turkeys, Stealthcam I230IR Trail Camera, Wayne County, Pennsylvania.)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

November's Bedside

Sit by November's bedside
Mildewed with shivery trees
Damp fingers
Surrender their suffering
Death unrumples the sheets

Darkness drips from day
Long before finality reaps
And tears from stars
Coat withering harvests
With crystalline silence deep

Monday, November 19, 2007

Winners Announcement--"Restless Dawn" Short Fiction Contest

The moment you have been waiting for has arrived! It's my pleasure to recognize the following writers:

1st Place--RAINE WEAVER, The Name of the Stone (#36)
[Prize: $25 Amazon gift certificate, 8 x 10 print of the "Restless Dawn" photograph (inscribed by Jason Evans)]

2nd Place--THE PERFECT NEUROTIC, Sunrise Faith (#29)
[Prize: $20 Amazon gift certificate]

3rd Place--LEON VAN ECK, Auscultation (#37)
[Prize: $15 Amazon gift certificate]

4th Place--DOTTIE CAMPTOWN, Dialogue Girl (#26)
[Prize: $10 Amazon gift certificate]

5th Place--PRECIE, Morning (#15)
[Prize: $5 Amazon gift certificate]

Honorable Mention--JOHN WEAGLY, Daybreak (#2)

Honorable Mention--JOSH VOGT, No Margin (#8)

Honorable Mention--ANGELIQUE H. CAFFREY, Just Another Monday Morning in Hell (#14)

Honorable Mention--SZELSOFA, Restless Dawn (#16)

Honorable Mention--JOHN MCAULEY, Rock of Ages: Sunrise (#50)


Readers' Choice--ANGELIQUE H. CAFFREY, Just Another Monday Morning in Hell (#14)
[Prize: $15 Amazon gift certificate, 8 x 10 print of the "Restless Dawn" photograph (inscribed by Jason Evans)]


What a great group of entries. The range of ideas inspired by the photo was incredible. A strong emotional impact carried throught. I like that the most.

Just how successful was it? Your 53 entries have generated 12,416 hits from 3,062 unique visitors! I'm grateful for such a wonderful turnout.

Over the course of next few days, I will be adding a comment to each entry saying what I liked best about it. If you would like constructive comments by private email, drop me a line at jevanswriter at yahoo dot com. Even if you asked me earlier, please email me separately now. It helps to keep me organized.

Don't let the community end here. I hope to see all of you back at The Clarity of Night and on your own blogs. I'd love to trade links if you're up to it!


Thanks again for a great contest experience. Give yourselves a round of applause for excellent writing, and pat the winners on the back for their outstanding work.

The Clarity of Night will now be powering down from contest mode and returning to normal content tomorrow. At this point, I'm planning to hold the next contest in mid February.

It's been great fun. Feel free to contact me anytime. You'll always find a welcoming place here.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

"Restless Dawn" Readers' Choice Voting is Closed

Okay folks, that it! Readers' Choice voting is now closed. Tune in for the winners announcement tomorrow morning.

Thank you to all the participants and all those who took the time to read, comment, and vote! You've made this one a real pleasure.

If you'd like constructive comments on your entry by private email, drop me a line at jevanswriter at yahoo dot com. Even if you asked me earlier, please email me separately. It makes it easier for me to keep organized.

Lastly, in the days following the contest, I will leave a comment on each entry letting you know what I liked best.

Have a good night and see you tomorrow!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Nami's Lullaby

(I'd never ask you to do something I wouldn't take a crack at myself! Here's my own interpretation of the "Restless Dawn" photo. In the meantime, keep those Readers' Choice votes coming!)

Nami's Lullaby
by Jason Evans

Dawn's light burned on the bedroom wall. Unable to sleep for weeks, Nami watched the embers grow.

Her body brimmed. It was a molten power, flowing from her skin. It encircled the island of her husband's breaths beside her.

The red ignited. Time to go.

She crept down the stairs, and gravity sipped her footfalls like nectar on cracked lips. Outside, dew on the grass baptized her. She spread her arms to the sky's crimson cathedral. The Earth was waking. She felt its confusion.

Her heartbeat stilled the air.

Hushed the world to....


The power roared. Exploded from her in all directions.

Behind the distortion, tree trunks corrected microscopically. The burble of streams smoothed, earthworms turned in their tunnels, and the clouds sketched perfect geometries.

She sang to the wave. The melody of Earthquakes. Lightning. Of land eroding into the sea. Across the globe, Nami's lullaby swept through bedrock and deep ocean currents. It tuned the molecules, and the ancient Earth harmonies emerged. The resonance lifted her.

Until she touched it.

An impenetrable blackness on a far off continent.

A chaos. Destruction's womb.

She faltered.

She heard rushing. Rumbling.


The wind reversed, and the answering wave hit her. She flailed and crashed to the ground.

The perfection shook from soil and stone. The harmonies shattered. Disorder returned.

Something was down there where the Earth turned toward night.

She felt its faceless thoughts.


And its eternal resolve to stop her.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Readers' Choice Award ("Restless Dawn")

The "Restless Dawn" Short Fiction Contest is now closed.

Thank you everyone for a wonderful week in this otherwise damp and darkening season. The response, the writing, and the mutual support has been fantastic!!


But the fun is not over!

Voting for the Readers' Choice Award is now open!

This portion of the contest is open to all people who submitted an entry. Here are the rules:

  1. Contest participants are invited to vote on their top 5 favorite entries by emailing me their votes to jevanswriter at yahoo dot com.
  2. Please vote by entry number and list your votes from 1 to 5 with 1 being your top vote.
  3. I will award 5 points for your 1st vote, 4 points for your 2nd vote, 3 points for your 3rd, 2 points for your 4th, and 1 point for your 5th.
  4. You may not vote for your own entry. Please specify your entry number at the beginning of your email.
  5. At the close of Readers' Choice Award voting, I will tally the points. The winner will be the entry with the most points.
  6. I guarantee at least one Readers' Choice Award; however, depending upon the results of the contest, I reserve the right to award additional Readers' Choice Awards in the order of their rank. Additional awards, if given, may be with or without a prize.

As you read, please keep the comments coming. Feedback and appreciation is the fuel along the lonely road of writing. If you find folks whose writing moves you, visit their blogs or ask where you can find more. Enjoy your own judging, and above all, have fun!

Cast your votes before Sunday, November 18, at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time (U.S.).

Lastly, in the tradition of Clarity of Night contests, tomorrow I will share my own vision of the "Restless Dawn" photo. Have a good night!

"Restless Dawn" Short Fiction Contest


Click HERE for the winners announcement.

Click HERE for the contest announcement, prizes, rules, and judging information.

Index of Entries
Allen, Jerry, Jacob Smiles (#18)
Amusing, By Nightfall, a Pile of Rocks, in a Clearing (#22)
Anti-Wife, Frogs and Lobsters (#33)
Caffrey, Angelique H., Just Another Monday Morning in Hell (#14), Honorable Mention and Readers' Choice Award
Camptown, Dottie, Dialogue Girl (#26), 4th Place
Canterbury Soul, Staying Afloat (#39)
Chong, YL, An American Dreamscape (#43)
Church Lady, Escape? (#17)
Contestant, And I Miss Her So (#25)
Cozine, Herschel, A Fork In The Road (#6)
Dimond, Rachael, Remember Me (#3)
Douglas, Ava, "What a Beautiful Sunrise! (#35)
DyingDusk, The Belt of Venus (#52)
Edwards, Bob, He Looked Up (#31)
Ello, Manila Bay, Philippines, December 7th, 1941 (#7)
Evans, Jason, Nami's Lullaby, Your Host
Hart, Katie, French Dawn (#30)
Hina, Sarah, Homecoming (#11)
Hoodie, Sky Poacher (#44)
The Individual Voice, Last-Minute Lara (#45)
Kearney, Seamus, This Lonely Hour (#38)
Liadis, Paul, To Be The Hero Once More (#12)
Little, Karen, Morning Wash (#21)
Longoria, Aaron, Dragon Sunset (#24)
Martinez, Mike, Red Sky Morning (#27)
Maurya, Abhinav, A Tale Of Two Cities (#23)
McArthur, Donald W., Red Sky (#20)
McAuley, John, Rock of Ages: Sunrise (#50), Honorable Mention
Monchego, Jr., Victor Bravo, Blood in the Sky over Paramaribo (#53)
Mutley the Dog, Restless Dawn (#41)
Napier, Katherine, The One (#32)
Nithya N, The Clock Struck 5:00 (#49)
Nothingman, Dragonfly’s Breakfast (#1)
Perfect Neurotic, Sunrise Faith (#29), 2nd Place
Posolxstvo, Olaf’s Big Adventure (#47)
Precie, Morning (#15), 5th Place
Rakeesh, Navatha, Restless Dawn (#40)
Rowan, Rebecca, Restless Dawn (#34)
Salas, Alexander, Last Sunrise (#10)
Mr. Schprock, Witness Protection (#46)
Seamans, Sandra, Admiring The View (#5)
Seidel, Christian, Burning Witches (#28)
Simpson, Scott, My Last Cloudy Thought (#9)
Szelsofa, Restless Dawn (#16), Honorable Mention
Therese, Choice (#51)
Trexler, Roger Dale, Hidden Fire (#4)
van Eck, Leon, Auscultation (#37), 3rd Place
Vinson, Missy, Looking Back on the Road Ahead (#48)
Vogt, Josh, No Margin (#8), Honorable Mention
Wavemancali, Another Sunrise (#19)
Weagly, John, Daybreak (#2), Honorable Mention
Weaver, Raine, The Name of the Stone (#36), 1st Place
Wells, Jaye, Phoenix Rising (#13)
Witnessing Am I, The Day's End (#42)

Entry #53

Blood in the Sky over Paramaribo
by Victor Bravo Monchego, Jr.

A rooster crowed but the woman slept, sutured with boiled thread, calmed by morphine. Etienne washed his hands in a pan. He sipped on a ginger Thrill®. He was not a real doctor. He was closer to a tree surgeon. He was a logger. They came to Etienne when there was an accident in the camp.

Etienne met the woman on his first leave from the camp. Etienne paid the woman and then tipped her the rest. Her affections for him were strictly professional. He always returned to camp penniless. This woman was his weakness.

This time, he could not find the woman. He searched. Without his beautiful vice, there was nothing to do with his wages. He sat on the church steps. He despaired.

His cohorts came to him. "She needs a doctor."

Etienne handed his money to a man and said, "Get the doctor." To the other fellow he said, "Take me to her."

Etienne rushed to the house. The real doctor never came. The bad fellow stole the money.

Etienne could not wait. He set to work but the baby was born still after many hours. He bundled the lifeless boy in a shirt. The cold package sat on a plastic chair by the door. Only Etienne had seen the caudal appendage. Etienne had been born with a vestigial tail, too.

Entry #52

The Belt of Venus
by DyingDusk

I stared out the canopy and there it is; a blue night sky, a colourful dream, and suddenly I felt a gust of wind swept by. I closed my eyes, waiting for the violet satin to take me away, and as the cold pierced my skin I can feel my ember slowly freezing.

Why me? Among all the people in this world why am I chosen?

Throughout these dreadful months, litres and litres of tears poured out uncontrollably. Nothing had stopped my tears from leaking until this serene appeared beauty today. There was no beginning, and no end, but only a colourful transition was reflected upon me. I retrieved myself from the present and walked back along my memories. If I could, I would have increased the contents of this album, but all I have right now are these few precious pages, remaining always in this pristine condition. Just then, I gradually picked up the whispers of the magical twilight colours and my thirst to touch the roaring flames slowly quenched in my mind. This pinkish glow leisurely dyed the night sky, but like Robert Frost said: nothing gold can stay.

As I walked towards the edge of darkness, I waited for the light’s power to advance into the horizon. I listened and noticed that the beeping was starting to extinguish. Knowing that my time has come and that it is ready to rise, my heavy eyelids closed gently, hoping this belt of venus would embrace me eternally.

Entry #51

by Therese

I glanced up.

Words failed me when he finally reached the rendez-vous point, but the sky seemed to know exactly just what shade of red to turn. Warmth enveloped me as rolling clouds glowed. The sky appeared to know what was about to transpire and was encouraging me. I sighed, but didn't notice the sound I made. Everything I was thinking and feeling was a mirror from above. It pulsed, its changes playful and fluid, dangerous and meaningful. Black trees were friendly shadows, gently brushing him with the soft touch of the cheering wind. Even the temperature, usually too cool in the mornings this season, held a perfect crisp taste and seemed to invite choices.

He saw me run up to him, breathless and flushed in my excitement at seeing him alive. Pulling me into a fierce yet brief embrace for all its intensity, he fairly vibrated with nervousness.

"Ready to give it all up, run away with a fugitive and live abroad?" A wry, self-deprecating smile tugged at the corners of his perfect mouth. His tone changed and his hands dropped from my shoulders. "I know what you're giving up, Magritta…"

I smiled back in perfect understanding. "Yes: a reign of terror and dominance under Nazi leadership." Life without you. "Let's go."

His firm nod and my blazing smile cemented our plans. As we shot off for the unknown, heading toward mountains, my heart was heavy at the thought of what I was leaving behind. Still, my spirit sang.

Entry #50

Rock of Ages: Sunrise
by John McAuley

The fading moon was partially obscured by small clouds and tall trees, but I knew the narrow dirt path from memory. I let Billy walk behind me. Made him less nervous. Greed trumps fear in people like him.

That's why he went along with coming all the way out here with me.

"Your girlfriend mentioned you like classic rock trivia," I said.

"Yeah," Billy replied.

"Did you know Steely Dan was actually the name of a dildo in a William S. Burrough's story?" I asked.

"Yep. And Uriah Heep is named after somebody in a book by a guy called Dickens."

"That's pretty good. I'd forgotten that."

"Did you know Paul McCartney's first wife took the pictures for Hendrix's "Electric Ladyland" album?"

"I definitely didn't know that. I'm impressed," I said, as we came to the clearing.

Billy's face was more smirk than smile, "Well you can't know everything," he said, just before he saw his girlfriend's body on the ground.

"Billy, remember that song by The Steve Miller Band?"


"The song, "Take The Money And Run." My boss says you and your little sweetheart took some money from the wrong people."

I waited just long enough for him to figure it out before I shot him.

I looked up at the reddening sky and put in my MP3 earphones.

Uriah Heep...Ken Hensley slowly brings the keyboards up to full volume...then a pause...David Byron's voice, bright and clear... "Sunrise..."

Entry #49

The Clock Struck 5:00
by Nithya N

The Clock Struck 5:00

The night curtain unveiled a passionate crimson spread over a soft blue sky. A newborn dawn. Restless. Like an eager child kicking out of a mother’s womb. Restlessness brought by the sudden transition from warm calmness to massive chaos.
The silhouette of trees and the crimson background complemented each other. Shakti smiled to welcome the day. This has been a routine since November. It gave her a strange comfort and eased her pain.

November evenings were special. She sat by the window and described the world outside to the life inside her. Dogs playing, children laughing, candyman calling out. Life was full of promises and plans for her little Nila. “Soon mamma will take you to play sweetheart” she would assure her swollen stomach. Then Rohan would join showering her tummy with gentle kisses.

Tears rolled down as she touched her perfectly flat stomach that models would kill for. She would never feel another life inside her. Little Nila had left, frightened by the cruelty of the world, longing for that familiar voice of her mother who lay unconscious in the ICU, searching for her father who was struggling for his own life in the next room.

She shuddered back to senses as the clock struck 6. The sky was a joyous blue. Birds chirped and sun shone lazily. She started for work as the thought of sweet innocent faces waiting for her at school, greeting in their sing song voice filled her with renewed energy.

Entry #48

Looking Back on the Road Ahead
by Missy Vinson

The clouds were woven like lace as the sun rose below; a brightening sky peeking through the threads. Ella thought cloudy-on-the-verge-of-clearing was far more perfect than your standard bright-and-cheerful. It hinted of mystery.

Ella was hopeful that Ash would not disappoint her with the usual tardiness, anxious to spend the next year more than a thousand miles from parents and sisters. Ash’s parents owned a two-bedroom rental near A&M, so Ella would pay less than the dorm and even have her own bathroom! Texas was not her first choice for school, but Far Away certainly was.

The SUV pulled up hesitantly, the rear-passenger door flying open instantly. Ash bounded out carrying more than she could lift almost falling into Ella’s open hatchback. Ash’s mom hopped out, puffy eyes revealing her heartbreak. Ella ran up to greet her with a big hug, while Ash continued to unload bags. Mrs. Collins shuddered, and tears began to flow. Would her mother be as heartbroken?

With perfect timing, Ella’s family spilled out of their house to say goodbye. Her mom and dad were dry-eyed and stoic, while her sisters were beyond tears long before today. Ella suspected her mom would join Mrs. Collins soon after they drove away.

After hugs and goodbyes, Ella took a deep breath and hit the gas. The waving crowd behind her shrank quickly to nothing as the cloudy veil above pulled away to reveal the road ahead. The mystery of leaving home no longer seemed so enticing.

Entry #47

Olaf’s Big Adventure
by Posolxstvo

Olaf froze as the shadow on the ground rapidly approached and passed over, swooping away into the loaming. Scanning the sky, he couldn’t see anything standing out against the murky clouds, but let’s face it – he was a domesticated rabbit. What the hell was he looking for anyway?

“Shit like this always happens to me,” he muttered, dashing for the nearest available ground cover, scanning for shadows. “I should have stayed where I was. But, noooo, I had to see what lay beyond the open door. Damn damn damn!”

Under a bush, he rested his aching side, still bruised from the four foot drop out of his hutch. He could hear the hawk’s shrill cry, but still couldn’t see anything.

“I’ll just hang out till it’s safe,” he gasped to himself.

“Like hell you will,” replied an unfriendly voice belonging to a rather unpleasant looking groundhog. “Get your own damn hiding place, housepet.”

“But…” he stammered.

“But nothing. Clear out. And if you get eaten, try not to let that beast shit all over the rest of us.” The groundhog pushed him out.

Olaf was once again in the open. He could hear the hawk again. He took off in what he thought was the other direction, mindlessly dashing this way and that.

And that’s when he felt himself being picked up off the ground. “Hey,” called a human sounding voice. “Here he is.”

Olaf had never been so happy to see that snot nosed little brat.

Entry #46

Witness Protection
by Mr. Schprock

It was supposed to be a lot like Earth, but right off you noticed the little differences, like how breathing seemed more labored, as if in a high altitude. The trees looked like trees I guess, but not the trees I grew up with. The sky always changed colors, but never the right ones.

Collins spit out the candy bar he was chewing. "No wonder no one ever eats here!" he said. "It tastes like crap now!"

"Come on" I said, laughing, "let's go talk to him."

We had finally located Henderson in a tiny village several kilometers from the entry port. People lose their identities in this place of course, but their essences remain traceable. As we approached his domicile, Henderson came out to greet us. He had been waiting and boy did he look relaxed. No vacation in the world could have given him that look.

Henderson started right in. "It was Maroney all right," he said, something we knew but couldn't prove. "The evidence is in a locker at the bus station. The autopsy should have turned up the key."


"I swallowed it, you dope."

"Right," I said. Cute.

"So did it hurt?" Collins asked him.

"Ha! I said, 'don't miss!' The expression on Maroney's face!"

"When I die," Collins told me later, "remind me to steer clear of this spot," meaning Henderson's village.

"Collins, you just worry about what kind of deal you need to cut to get into heaven," I replied with a smirk.

Entry #45

Last-Minute Lara
by The Individual Voice

"Last-Minute Lara" her mother called her. Late to school and meals. Studying for tests all night before.

So, it was no surprise that Lara waited until the night before the writing contest deadline. Two hundred and fifty words. How hard could that be? She was spewing out thousands a day for Nanowrimo.

Of course the thousands would not be read by another soul, and Jason’s contest submissions were read by everyone who was anyone in the literary blogosphere. The shorter piece required logorrhea edited down to size, hacking at adjectives, adverbs, repetitions, clarifying, specifying, condensing.

So Lara started a story about writing a story, clever, she thought, for a last minute foray into the closing contest. But hunger drove her every few minutes into the kitchen for snacks: ice cream sandwiches, cups of tea and blueberry bread to quell her anxiety.

Why did she do this to herself? Lara knew. She grew up in a rushed house, the clocks set seven minutes ahead (five would be too easy to figure out). When they went to weddings as a family, they would arrive an hour early, to beat traffic, hanging around while the immediate family took photos and the band set up. They would leave and hour early, too.

Lara munched on her blueberry bread, swallowing her anxiety, and peeked out the window. Dawn had arrived, pink and blue clouds announcing the contest deadline.

Oh, wait a minute. The deadline said PM, not AM. She still had the whole day.

Entry #44

Sky Poacher
by Hoodie

The girl watched the almost imperceptible fade from black to grey as the outline of naked branches became crisp against the sky they reached for. Beautiful. She imagined the sounds taking place around her as the forest emerged from slumber, but her ears remained shrouded in silence.

It had been a cold night. Hands of ice curled limply in her lap as her heart rose with anticipation. Could this be the morning? Her trained eyes remained vigilantly on the horizon even as her thoughts bubbled and whorled. Her last hunt.

Movement caught her peripheral vision. A rabbit? She did not risk the glance. She recalled that roast rabbit had once been a favorite of hers. Immediately she chastised herself for the brief indulgence in self-pity. Taste was not all that important. It had been the first to go.

The cloud patterns were perfect. Her pulse quickened as she realized that all was in place for the perfect shade. The hue that so few could capture was a rare commodity. It would carry a high price.

Dawn dusted the sky pink. If it was to come, it was close.

And then she saw it. With hands outstretched the girl shouted her treaty to the sky, which responded with a shattered blast. She fell to the ground.

Praises poured from her lips as she gathered the earthen jug that now housed the precious color. With tentative steps the girl groped and tripped through the forest, gingerly carrying salvation to her village.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Entry #43

An American Dreamscape
by YL Chong

Hopeful orange, yellow and red in the background, fronted by dark blue and purple and sardonic blacks, a bit gloomy. It is sunset in Oklahoma, but it may well pass off as sunrise back home.

Mei Lee said she was only leaving for a short sabbatical on a scholarship gifted her on the basis of a thesis I helped her craft. She swore she would be back in Singapore "in less than eighteen months", and we will then talk "wedding bells".

As I look out at this mystical landscape, I was looking forward towards an enchanting candle-light dinner. Until an hour ago -- and her excited voice still echoes in my ear: "My internship has been extended by another six months. Honey, I will be delayed a little tonight, seeya!"

So my fiancée wants to campaign for a candidate aspiring to become the first female president, can I begrudge her? The colours on the horizon seem forebodingly darker now.

The handphone intones a message. "Sorry, missed my flight. See you tomorrow moUrn!" She even forgot to end with our XoXo signature!

I feel the initial tear-drops warming my cheeks. I reach out for Reception, wanting to book the next flight home.

Just then the door-bell rings. I open the door, and there she is -- Mei Lee resplendent in a short-skirted dress in sexy red.

"The sms just now, you..." I mumble.

"American humour I picked up along the by-ways," she intones, pressing her dreamscape XoXo on my lips.

Entry #42

The Day's End
by Witnessing Am I

We had been mortal enemies since elementary school. By high school, Erik was handsome, popular, an athlete, a good student. I was popular, but in theatre. We would vehemently stare at each other in the hallway, always aware of the other’s every move. We were as different as Cain and Abel.

Years later, I fell in love with Erik’s ex-wife. She was lovely and gentle but had grown tired of Erik’s listlessness, his anger. One morning, as we sipped coffee, Katrina mentioned that Erik had invited me to spend the day with him. It’ll do him good, she said, make him feel better, remind him of his youth, better days.

An hour later, as he bent at the waist, getting out of his truck, I noticed a pistol stuffed in the waistband of his jeans. My mind raced. Years of hatred, disappointment, abuse, an ex-wife and me. He’s going to kill me, I thought. As we walked into the woods, I kept my distance, aware of his every move, just as I always had. Suddenly he stopped and faced me. “You must be asking yourself why I wanted to see you,” he said with a smile. I did not respond. He reached back and grabbed the pistol and held it towards me. “My life is for shit,” he said softly, “It’s always been shit. Don’t let this happen to you.” And he pushed the barrel against his temple and squeezed the trigger, the gunshot echoing into the fiery red sky.

Entry #41

Restless Dawn
by Mutley the Dog

In the cold the cattle stirred snorting steam in gusts into the morning air, as he walked up through the fields as he had done many times before. The animals packed against the bottom field fences as expected. Hungry after the cold autumn night they were waiting for their feed – cattle nuts soft like dead grass, bovine jaws moving, dripping saliva as they waited in anticipation. Some by the troughs, water splashing on the ground. Others spread out by the great green hedge that marks the ancient boundary between Lathe Bottom and Lathe Ridge Farms.

The man strode down the boundary scanning the skies, looking for the first signs. The cattle were disturbed, still snorting and steaming, rubbing on the fences and on each other. The pungent smell of cattle, mud and sweat all around. The hedge a cathedral of life, bare branches forming a tracery –framing the ochre filling the sky. Beneath his feet soft mud – above the sky reflecting the dancing flames, and through the branches, across the curve of the field the roar of fire and the great suck of the flames. Around the Foot and Mouth Fire pyre the white-clad scientists who administered the lethal injections made way for the abattoir workers to watch the conflagration, and then looked up the hill where the man was standing. Lathe Bottom done, then onto Lathe Ridge. Staring at him and checking the clipboards, the hedges would provide no protection now. And overhead the blood filled sky.

Entry #40

Restless Dawn
by Navatha Rakeesh

Megan walked listlessly into the night. She was dressed in white and her hands clenched something - also in white. She knew no one would come looking for her. The big maple tree invited her with open arms. She squatted low as her thighs touched her chest, her back resting against the trunk. Her palms slowly unfolded and revealed a slender paper-roll. Paper-roll? At least that was her first impression. Double her finger’s length and a brown skirting at the bottom. Her grandma always said, white is the symbol of ‘purity’. Somehow, this thing seemed anything but pure.

How she longed to have a normal mother like all her friends? Sometimes she wished for a life as short as that paper roll. Her mother however, seemed much more calmer and apologetic after her smoke. Sometimes she hugged her, but always went on to inhale more of that cancer. Megan hated her mother, and hated herself for hating her. She knew she was not doing the right thing, considering her age. But who cared? Not her mother.

She did not remember when she fell asleep, almost as if unconscious. When she opened her eyes next, an amazing blend of colours in the sky unveiled in front of her; as though God was dabbling with his newly bought crayons on the canvas of a dawn. So many colours, yet forming a rigid pattern! They were trying to say something to her. Her mother will quit smoking today or she will die. Maybe..

Entry #39

Staying Afloat
by Canterbury Soul

A gunshot echoed the last scream in the chilly daybreak. The fighting had finally ceased. Daisuke ambled about from the house, spitting betel and pulling up his pants.

“Bitch!” He turned, raised his rifle and pulled the trigger again. “Bitch!”

I should have become numb since D-Day. I shut my eyes, attempting desperately to dispel all the grisly images.

Blood. Decapitation. Blown-up bodies. Dead naked women. Gore.

I honestly believed God had called me into the army to serve the emperor and his nation so that I could bear His witness and advance His kingdom.

But it had gone atrociously wrong since we walked into Shōnantō. Daisuke had started body-counting, and was pompous in proclaiming his twentieth victim. The rest of them were the same – bloodthirsty creatures who wouldn’t stop. They taunted me to follow suit as I struggled hanging on to my piety.

“Fumitake!” I could hardly hear my platoon commander as I laboured staying afloat in my tears not shed.

“Fumitake!” I feebly stood to attention.

“Yes, Sir!” The rest came close, smirking.

“Take this!” There was a baby of barely a month old in his hands. I was shivering.

“Kill it! This is an order!” I saw this coming, but I wasn’t ready. With trembling fingers, I fixed the bayonet to my rifle.

"May I?" Daisuke sneered, took the baby and tossed it high up into the sky. As I was taking aim with my bayonet, He appeared from the backdrop of dull red-tinted clouds.

Entry #38

This Lonely Hour
by Seamus Kearney

I suddenly notice how tightly my hands grip the wheel, and how my foot feels as if it might actually push through and touch the road. My body and mind are saying, ‘How could you be so dumb again?’

The word then changes to numb. That’s what I feel as the wind comes in through the windows and tries to cleanse me on my long journey home.

My body and mind don’t understand the hope I refuse to let go of, that some day I might not have to drive home through the pain of these red early mornings, the remains of nights cut open and left to bleed.

It’s often my own fault. Hell, the one last night even told me before we left the bar that I shouldn’t expect breakfast. I asked if I had to go before his kids got up. Before his wife returned. He stopped laughing.

I did end up slipping out before he stirred, to avoid any painful silences.

So, exactly how many times have I driven home at this lonely hour, having failed to actually pass over into someone else’s daytime? As always, I tell myself it’s over. Never again. No matter how charming. No matter how much I see in the eyes.

But later, after sleep has repaired me, I know there will no doubt be more red dawns. After all, it’s the heart that’s carrying all this hope, that’s leading me in all of this.

Entry #37

by Leon van Eck

And I really thought I was fine until I vomited up all that blood into the basin in the public restroom in Edgecombe Park. The guy standing at the closest urinal zipped up and walked out without a word. Something was broken inside of me, after all.

I met a man on a bridge yesterday. I was looking into the muddy water, that inviting swirl, feeling its inexorable influence over my body. He pulled me back from the railing, saved me from myself, the person I had decided to become. I went with him, willingly. We were explorers after that. It was uncharted territory for me, this rhythm of the universe beating in every capillary in my brain. Only if it is turned off would you notice a sound that you’d been hearing your whole life. The scars on his back were a roadmap of his past. I touched them in the dark, wishing I had been responsible for those traces, that they were my doing; a shared history. He fucked me with a hushed urgency. We never spoke: I felt as if our whole encounter was taking place underwater.

At dawn we lay there, with him restless like the throbbing November sky, and I impassive as the tree outside his window, waiting for the inevitable. The rain of blows began as the first drops blurred on the glass. I took them all, willingly. He thought he had fixed me, but something was broken inside of me, after all.

Entry #36

The Name of the Stone
by Raine Weaver

My father is a tyrant.

If I remember nothing else, I shall always remember that.

Once again he keeps me before the hearth, reciting tedious verse. As if I hadn’t said the words every day. As if anyone still cared about them after all this time. I ached for a few moments outside, to feel the last of this day’s sun before the clouds sour to gray and bend to bruise the earth.



“Recite it again!”

“The rock roared, disemboweling itself upon the belly of its birth. The land spewed venom as the sky shed black tears for the multitudes lost. Even the clouds flamed, feverish for the lost light.”


He had never been young, had never been anything but this old man in worn, sooty clothing. “The west is wasteland. But we must never forget that cities, libraries, and history are preserved beneath the ash.”

His eyes were desperate. Determined. “Tell me the name of the stone.”

I stubbornly held my tongue. In two years I could wed and erase these lessons from my mind, never inflict them on my children as he had.

His hand cut across my face. “The name of the stone. The sprawling beauty that became the beast. The name of the stone, that those to come may know where the volcano slumbered and be prepared!”

Shadows seeped across the floor and cooled my burning cheek. “Yellow. The rock was called Yellowstone.”

“Well enough,” he grunted. “Tomorrow we begin again.”

Monday, November 12, 2007

Entry #35

"What a Beautiful Sunrise!
by Ava Douglas

I think it's?.... the sun?... something is wrong.
The clock; the chickens crowing?
Lights, oout.
Dogs restless.
The sky is red. Something..."
       "Train com,ing,,, listen."

"I wish I...; could understand....
Wake up! Something is wrong.."

       "I heard a train..."

"Wake up; clocks are...? No power.
Sky is ALL red; everywhere All around."

       "Roosters crow. Dreaming that...
       What time? 'YaGramdma's Morbier' struck two;
       and I heard a train long long whistle?
       Smoke? it's not fire....

       All electronics shot; watch dead; car's shot.
       Jeep may run? The mantle clock and Morbier, OK."

"I'm frightened!

       "Get your shoes, we're OK,
       let's go outside and watch;
       it..... is..... beautiful...

       No stars;
       and red above the clouds?"

"We are, all alone. I wish the kids were here and the little ones.
Is this one of your precious! GRBs?

Classified? secrets!?
700? 153? Or whatever!?"

       "Give me' second.

       Yes, I believe that it is. But we are, OK.
       It is far away, very far away.
       And not classified NOW!

       We should go check the neighbors.
       I'll check the Jeep; you pack something to eat..."

"We stay togeeeether...
First the Jeep...
Then food."

       "Great, the Jeeeeepe runs;
       also 'traceeetor'.
       Mac the Ham.... we'll hike up 'taMac's while talking';

       Backpacks, flashlights, matches, water......


       Eleven signals beamed at Earth... from 700 to 86,000... light years out;
       '53,000' WAS..... opposite our sun 53,000 years ago?

       All indicated '53' would 'sacrifice'?....

       .....synchronized but different and beaming just arrived in 2004?

[The author writes under the pen name Ava Douglas and collaborates on several projects including The Little Toe.]

Entry #34

Restless Dawn
by Rebecca Rowan

4:00 a.m. Sarah knew what the clock would say even before she looked at it. She squinted across the expansive king sized bed, empty except for the small white cat curled on Alex’s pillow.

Sighing, she tossed back the blanket, knowing from past experience, the futility of any effort at returning to sleep. She crawled from the warm nest she had created, spending the chilly night huddled in a fetal position to conserve warmth. She never realized how much heat Alex created, a veritable private furnace in bed - and not just sexually, although there was that too, she admitted. Now, cold seeped from the void space, and throughout the night she edged closer to the opposite side of the mattress, trying to escape its icy grasp.

But every morning she awoke, restless, the dawn reaching into her subconscious and nudging her from sleep. There was no good reason for it, this early waking. In truth, she might be happiest if she never woke at all, if she drifted quietly into nothingness sometime during the dead of night.

She stumbled from the bedroom to the living room, and opened the blinds. A rising sun greeted her, bleeding through the waning clouds, and sending them skittering on their way. “There you are,” it seemed to say. “I’ve been waiting for you.”

There was this, at least, she thought, settling into her favorite chair -this sun in the morning, her one companion through the restless dawn.

Entry #33

Frogs and Lobsters
by Anti-Wife

The cloud in the middle looks like a frog sitting upside down on the sky or maybe a lobster.

She laughed at the absurdity of the thought knowing pain causes odd reactions and exhaustion can intensify them. Though too tired to cry any more, tears formed as she gazed at the hint of sunrise.

Red sky at night, sailors delight. Red sky in the morning, sailors take warning. It’s going to be another lousy day, she thought grasping the small object tightly.

It may indicate bad weather, but the sky is beautiful. This would be a perfect day to snuggle on the couch with you and a good book; maybe take a nice long nap. But you’re not here anymore. Now you’re just a sweet memory.

They were supposed to have three to six months but then the doctor called about the second cancer. Two or three weeks weren’t enough time, but they were also interminable – every minute an emotional leech. Waiting for the end was incredibly painful and then the emergency room at 4 a.m. and it was over.

I want to go quickly – no time to think about it or worry, just boom and gone. It’ll be less painful for those I leave behind.

Slowly her hand opened and as she looked at the small collar a tear fell on the heart shaped name tag – “Rosie”.

Entry #32

The One
by Katherine Napier

My body is so numb I can barely tell I'm awake when I see the house.

The satchel has hung from my neck all night, as if the fraying fibers were tied to my soul. When my parachute first caught this tree my arms instinctively grasped the bag to my chest, but now my arms are swollen and dangling from the harness, no longer able to help my neck bear the weight. What was 35 pounds might as well be a ton now that the sun is rising, but with the light comes hope. There is a house.

A man opens the front door, scans the morning sky and, just before he sees me, turns back into the house. He returns with what I am sure are binoculars and I know I will be saved. I try to call out, manage only a bird startling croak, and as I watch the man he watches the bird fly toward the day. He raises what I now see is a camera and captures this restless dawn at the moment I realize I have succeeded.

The words of the prophecy cry out in my head, and I know this is the man Jason. Soon, he will stumble upon his destiny as The One, and she shall live again.

Entry #31

He Looked Up
by Bob Edwards

Jason looked up. Seemingly for the very first time since Amy passed away. The sky seemed to be a strange mix of blues and pinks. Jason wondered what the new day would bring. The forecast was for sunny skies but Jason had long given up on the notion of sunny days. He was wounded beyond repair and ached to his soul.

Jason’s thoughts wandered back to brighter days before he married Amy. Oh, how his heart rushed with joy as he remember those times when they ran on the beach ... when they first held hands ... oh, how he loved her laugh. He began to cry ... he started to pray ... it all seemed so devastating ... dear God how could he go on ... how could anything ever makes sense again?

Jason looked up and caught sight of a nest in the tree closest to his deck. It reminded him of that bible passage where Jesus spoke of how God takes care of the birds. He wondered how God could have allowed that truck to hit Amy on her morning bicycle ride ... he agonized as he remembered that he slept in that morning instead of riding with her. He cried some more.

Jason looked up again. The clouds were beginning to clear ... the sun was dawning ... a bird was singing. A small voice inside of him assured him that things would get better. Jason arose to take on the day.

Entry #30

French Dawn
by Katie Hart

The dawn would break his cover. Alain knew he must move now, before any hope of rescuing them disappeared. Nice and slow. He didn’t want creaking old joints or cracking branches to alert the guard.

The soldier’s gangly limbs bespoke youthfulness, but his prisoners were far younger – annoying girls with flighty ways and little sense.

Pink stained the sky as Alain crept closer. The penknife he used to trim his vines cut their bonds easily. Yet only demi-sommeil seemed to embrace the German. Two teenagers could not outrun a gun.

Using the forest’s diminishing camouflage, Alain stole to the other side of the camp, where the Boche dozed by a dying campfire. Once there, he deliberately stepped on a dry twig.

The German awoke with a shout. Alain began to run. Zohn, his Jewish charges had called him. They should see the old man now.

He shouted insults as he ran, taunting the soldier to follow him so the girls could escape. Heavy breathing and the crackle of dry brush satisfied his wondering. He forced his tired legs further.

The sky brightened as the woods thinned. No cover. A gun’s report sounded and hot metal slugged him in the back, twisting him around and down. He hit the ground as the fiery pain consumed him.

On his back, he struggled for breath and prayed his girls got away. For a second he saw their impish faces in the treacherous dawn-filled clouds above him. One zohn was a fair exchange.

Entry #29

Sunrise Faith
by The Perfect Neurotic

5:25 AM. Twenty minutes until sunrise. I pull on my sneakers and head out. First, the five minute warm-up, preparing my legs for the run. Down past Main Street, the clock reads 5:37. If I keep pushing up this slope, I’ll see the mountains right before the sun begins to rise.

My husband never understands this need. All his lectures on safety. Last night, exasperated, I told him, “At 5:30, the only thing I ever see are deer.”

“And most of them are lying dead on the side of the road. Just be safe,” he scolded.

There is no way to show him the wonder of dawn. The dark cold surrendering to the warm rays of sunlight. Forests and fields of animals trading shifts for the new day.

Up this last steep incline, straight up, I’ve trained myself to look a foot ahead at the ground, concentrating on the steps and not the burning in my thighs. I begin my countdown from 30, exactly how long it’ll take before being greeted by the sun.

29, 28, 27 … the sounds of hooves clicking. ‘Eyes straight ahead,’ I remind myself.

26, 25. The driver on the other side sees the deer in her path.

22, 21. A scraping noise. My body is numb.

19, 18. My lungs gurgle. A woman is kneeling over me. I try to tell her politely she’s blocking the sunrise, but cough instead. Red paint splatters her shirt. I am so cold and confused. I’ve lost count.

Entry #28

Burning Witches
by Christian Seidel

They were waiting for us. Soldiers and armed men were hiding behind trees, surrounding the clearing by the sacred stone. All were we detained without trial. Bonfires were built, to be lit at dawn.

They are lighting the fires, burning us in the name of their god, whom they claim to be just and merciful. I know that can’t be right.

I stare at the blood-red clouds reflecting the flames of the fires. I cannot force myself to look at the fires; I cannot look at the others. The air is thick with the stench of burning flesh.

I hear the panicking screams. I hear the cheering crowd. I have to keep staring at the flame-lit skies. What I see with closed eyes is so much worse.

I shiver from the cold sweat of fear. The fires roar in the chilling wind. I hear the cheer rise as another fire is lit. Soon it is my turn; soon they will celebrate my death too.

My eyes are fixed at the blazing sky. I can see the moon between the clouds, I stutter a desperate prayer. I pray to the Mother Goddess.

The stink of burning bodies is unbearable. The smoke is dense. The cheering is now ecstatic. I can sense their manic lust for blood. The smoke is burning in my throat and my lungs; I feel the fiery heat of flames. I scream.

Entry #27

Red Sky Morning
by Mike Martinez

The sky is beautiful this morning, like garnets cast across the sky and it’s horrible too. I remember a time when a red sky in the morning meant it was going to be a bad day for sailors. Now, it’s a bad day for everyone. All those years of a president with his head in the sand about the global climate change has finally cost us.

The fires first started in the west just like always, sure they were worse than ever before, but no one cared- at first. When they began to erupt in Europe and Australia people began to worry. When the Amazon and Congo began to erupt as well there was global panic.

Those of us in the cities never worried too much, it was always out there someplace not in our own streets. Then it happened, Tulsa and Paris exploded on the same day shortly after dawn. We at last began to understand that our atmosphere had finally lost the battle to keep balance. Now any reflective surface was a potential hot spot where the fires could begin.

The glowing red dawn used to mean hot days and high winds at sea, now it carries the smell of char and devastation. The sun sweeps in, and the star that once gave us life now gives us death. Maybe it is only trying to stop humanity and return the Earth back into the natural garden it was meant to be. Or maybe, this is finally our end.

[Mike Martinez is an aspiring writer and resident of Chicago. Recently he became the Lead Member of the Scheduling Team for the Twilight Tales Reading series, which has been meeting weekly since 1993.]

Entry #26

Dialogue Girl
by Dottie Camptown

Megan and I met running lines at Loubelle’s 24-Hour Actors Studio in Culver City. After the 3:00 am workshop she took me to a park and silently led me to the bottom of a ravine. She skipped the kissing.

“Chassie’s got those boys cooped up like a pair of jackrabbits, Ethel,” she says in a sickly voice, unbuttoning her shirt to expose lovely breasts.

The Royal Tennebaums?” It’s a lucky guess. She seems the type to quote movies about genius.

Light begins to take hold of the sky. We’ve already had sex twice in less than an hour, so the fact Megan still interests me is significant. The blanket we are lying on is itchy on my bare back. I turn over, propping myself on my elbows to study her. She really might make it in the movies.

“Lovers talking at sunrise is a cinematic cliché,” I say. “I like you, Megan.”

She adopts a high-class drawl, “The thing with Dickie - it's like the sun shines on you and it's glorious, then he forgets you, and it's very, very cold.

The Talented Mr. Ripley. I could love you.”

“I can't imagine you would ever have had any interest in me, except as an amusingly cranky eccentric curiosity.”

Ghost World.” And she is probably right.

She pushes herself off the ground and straddles me. Her shoulders become one more form to hold the warmth of the emergent sun.

I find it refreshing she has nothing at all original to say.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Entry #25

And I Miss Her So
by Contestant

It’s been 3 days since I last heard from her. I knew that keeping myself away from her had been the right thing to do. I wouldn’t be able to face Alfred otherwise. But the more I look at the reddish clouds above, the more I missed her.

Why did we even rekindle this relationship that shouldn’t be? If only Alfred did not need to go away to Connecticut to close that deal, I wouldn’t have to drive over to Claire’s and I wouldn’t have to keep her company and find that we still share something that no one else in the world would be able to understand.

The images of that particular weekend would be forever etched in my mind. How she gently sauntered to my side as I sat beside the fireplace. As she lowered her head slowly to rest on my inner thigh, eyes looking straight into mine, she seemed to be telling me that she too missed the times that we had spend together.

As I gently caress her golden silky hair, her body quivered and she let off a sigh. Immediately, I knew she missed my touch. How could I have decide then that Alfred would be the better person to take good care of her when deep in my heart, I knew that she would have preferred me over him?

Claire had been given to me on our first wedding anniversary and we have been raising her since she was a puppy that was less than 3 months old. Though I had been closer to Claire throughout the last 7 years, I knew that Alfred had taken the divorce badly and it would be cruel of me to take away what he considered his only family left.

Entry #24

Dragon Sunset
by Aaron Longoria

Licking blood stained, razor sharp canines with his slender, forked tongue, Bargoth lifted powerful jaws from the carcass of his fresh kill. Soft-green eyes blinked at the fur of the large, hoofed animal, stained a deep crimson from torn, exposed muscle.

Blood seeped along the beast’s belly and into the grass; some of the scarlet liquid trickling between Bargoth’s long, clawed toes. Bargoth pulled back the upper skin around his muzzle and hissed softly, rubbing his paws together. That sensation always made him giggle.

His appetite had been sated for the moment. There was still plenty of beast left to devour, but Bargoth wasn’t a glutton, contrary to popular myth about his kind. Teeth and claws were blood soaked resembling the heavens above.

Bargoth stared at the sky, the wide patches of thick, billowing clouds absorbing the waning rays of the setting sun with a crimson hue heralding the end of another day of prosperous health and vigorous spirit.

Powerful chest scales expanding, Bargoth released a concentrated burst of fire aimed directly at the clouds. Crimson and blue combined spiraled into the sky propelled by mighty breath.

The spiral sailed higher, slowly dissipating in integrity the farther it soared, brilliant flames losing their strength, their vibrant colors fading into the ether.


Bargoth snorted sharply as formidable paws carried his great, reptilian bulk through the wide dirt path of the surrounding forest. Dry, fallen leaves crunched loudly, echoing through the woods.

Bargoth hissed again; the dry leaves tickling his paws.

Entry #23

A Tale Of Two Cities
by Abhinav Maurya

It is dusk in this city Imtiyaz calls his own. He looks unblinkingly at the rouge horizon as if searching for something, a lost jewel perhaps.

‘Brother, brother… Say something.’

‘Nafasat, Bombay is as much my city as Venice is abbu’s. Why does abbu not come here once in a while? Or maybe for the rest of his days? This is after all the city of his childhood.’

‘You know he won’t leave Venice. Besides do you not have any affection for the place that you grew up in?’

‘Listen Nafa, I have stayed here too long to think of moving anyplace else.’

‘I understand. But think about abbu. He is dying, Imtiyaz.’

Startled, Imtiyaz turns around to face his sister. ‘What do you mean?’

‘He is ailing. He did not want me to tell you this, but I have to. Come away Imtiyaz. Don’t hold such a long grudge against your own father. He has not been able to live in peace. Let him die in peace by forgiving him.’

‘If this is what you want, I will come.’

‘I’ll call abbu and tell him this. He will be very happy.’ Nafasat walks inside, leaving Imtiyaz alone.

Imtiyaz fails to comprehend the measure of his despondency. He just watches the bleak autumn sunset for a long time. That is all he can do right now.

Perched above him, the piqued brainfever bird looks down upon him with haughty smugness and flies to another bough, another abode, and another story.

Entry #22

By Nightfall, a Pile of Rocks, in a Clearing
by Amusing

I still don’t understand why.

The birds began to sing some time ago, when the first light cracked the darkness. I sit alone with so many questions.

Why me?

Was I unkind?

Was I so very strange to them?

Why did the others go along?

Is love some kind of enchantment? I did not encourage his attentions. Nothing for me to gain. And now I have lost everything.

I hear movement on the road. A horse and wagon. Voices in the distance. A shout.

Will they let the girls watch? Will he be there? Will a crowd stand and pray that I will end their troubles, as they end mine?

I have only helped. I have healed. I have worked.

And yet they accuse me.

They killed my dog. They called him the devil. And then they came for me.

They called that a trial and yet left so many questions unanswered.

The girls pointed at me, and the others believed.

They are coming now. I hear them. Soon the door will open, and the weak light of dawn will shine full on me. They will bind my hands. They will follow the cart, spitting, hurling their own forgivable curses. They call me a witch, yet do not hold themselves accountable for their own actions against the word of god.

Will I be afraid then? I am a little afraid now.

The stones will press.

I will take one last breath.

And that will be all.

Entry #21

Morning Wash
by Karen Little

Morning wash was the part she hated most of all. They would wake up at four, cover their overalls with pink plastic aprons and head for the wards.

It wasn't the washing she minded so much as what lay in the beds. Those who could walk were issued a bar of industrial soap and shown the showers. Some tottered and tumbled as their legs, too puny for their allocated task, failed them halfway. Others managed only to stand before the force of gravity overwhelmed their parasite-laden bowels. These sat gibbering and shivering, waiting for her to come and rescue them from their waste.

She washed those left in bed. Some were tied to the bars of their cots, and they moaned and struggled against their bonds. Some perched on the edge of this world, and although they registered no physical response to her scrubbing, she feared the firm application of soap to their bodies would incite their souls to take flight.

The ones she hated most were those that, when nudged, were cold and stiff. She still washed them, but afterwards, instead of tucking them in under starched linens and government-issue blankets, they would be wrapped in a sheet of white plastic, with a space left open at the top so the doctor could come and shine a light in their eyes and confirm their death.

By the time morning wash was over, the sun had risen. She was grateful that it was time to go home.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Entry #20

Red Sky
by Donald W. McArthur

“Do they have sunsets like this?”

Sgt. Jim Taylor had orders for a second tour in Iraq. He thought the sunsets there the only memorable part of a drab and barren land.


He would leave the next day.

Saddle up, people!” bellowed Lieutenant Tomason. Taylor had been staring at the reddened sky. “Come on, Sergeant.”

Taylor climbed behind the wheel of the Humvee, Lt. Tomason to his right, Corporal Rodriguez standing in the gun port behind them. They pulled out in the gathering dusk.

Twenty minutes later came the pock-pock-pock of small arms fire. A shaken voice radioed from the tail Humvee, “We're taking fire back here!”

The Lieutenant yelled, “Step it up, Sergeant, get us out of here!” Taylor careened around a corner, his headlights limning the figures of a dozen Iraqi children, dazed and frozen at the sudden onrushing vehicle. Taylor made to pull to the right and Tomason, sensing the danger, yelled, “Fuck those Hajis, floor it, straight!”

Taylor instead had turned down an empty rutted street. The first IED exploded on the left, the Humvee filling with the bright red mist that had been Rodriguez. Then a blast from the right, so close and loud it was felt, not heard. The Humvee corkscrewed into the air in slow motion, smashing down on its left side. Taylor didn't feel the fire that consumed his fingers, his face, but he thought he saw red, in the sky maybe, it's all he can see, red sky.

Entry #19

Another Sunrise
by Wavemancali

"Red sky in morning, sailors take warning", that was the saying wasn't it?

Michael had been watching the sunrise each day for exactly 366 days now. He looked down at the circular groove etched into his left palm in a hard callus. Today it was painful. It would take a few weeks until a new one formed. He massaged it with his right thumb, wincing a little.

Any amount of pain was preferable to surrender though. You own the pain. Once you surrender everyone else gets some. Sarah had gotten more than her fair share.

It used to be her that watched the sunrise in the mornings. She'd walk out to the porch in the pre-dawn mists dressed in her housecoat, coffee in hand, humming lightly.

A sob crawled unbidden through his throat, escaping to assault the formerly peaceful morning.

Restless in the encroaching dawn, he pawed for the card in his wallet, the warning phrase singing in his mind, "Red sky in morning..."

He gripped his one year chip even tighter. The metal edge cut into his hand, a couple of feeble drops of blood fell to the carpet as he reentered the cabin and dialed the phone.


"Dan, it's Mike. I need a drink. I don't know what to do."

"Today's no different Mike. You have to last through to another sunrise. Can you do that for me? For you... for her?"

"For her, yeah. I owe her that at least. Thanks Dan, I owe you too."

Entry #18

Jacob Smiles
by Jerry Allen

“I can’t believe the night that I just had”, thought Jacob as he walked from the woods behind his house. “Six women, eight men. That is a new record for me, I do believe”.

As his thoughts trailed off, he could hear the sirens wailing. He turned to look and could almost make out the silhouette of his last victim as she lay motionless on the grass behind her house. The sirens gave him an instant sense of satisfaction on a job well done.

He watched from the concealment of the trees as the detectives placed crime scene tape around the body.

“GOD, I love this shit” he thought to himself. “Nothing better than watching a good murder mystery play out right in front of me.”

Making his way home, Jacob was in no hurry. He walked slowly, almost a stroll. He was not the least bit shaken by the presence of the police in his neighborhood. Jacob was at peace. He was content with himself and his new personal best of fourteen men and women killed. This was a good night for him. He got revenge on fourteen people who had crossed him in the past and he was proud of himself.

As he walked home, he noticed the blood red sky that was appearing above him. It made him think of the blood of his victims.

Jacob walked into the back door of his house, took one more glance at that sky, and smiled brightly.

[Jerry Allen is a self proclaimed "Writing Noob". You can check out his blog HERE.]

Entry #17

by Church Lady

The boy scoots inside the rusty recess of a car because Papa has told him to hide. He counts breaths and waits. He waits and sleeps and eventually he wakes. The boy has learned to be a good listener. He lifts the trunk the length of his ear. No pop-popping of a worn-out knee. No wet, phlegm coughs. No hushed murmurs of love and dreams and life and skies.

Where are you, Papa?

The boy hears beyond Papa’s silence. The familiar wind loops around the desert brush. Aimless feet shuffle in the distance. His own heart struggles beneath his breath. He is scared and curious and hungry and alive.

He opens the trunk and scrambles out. The brown sky is pushing into the brown earth. His hand fumbles for the sky-paper and upon contact, comforts him.

“Hey! You there!” A Gatekeeper sees him.

The boy walks faster.

Where are you, Papa?

I’ll help you as long as I can. Remember what we talked about. Focus on the gate.

I’m scared, Papa.

Focus on the gate.


The boy runs. The gate is near and the Gatekeeper is near.

“I said, HALT!” The Gatekeeper fires a warning shot.

The boy is a good listener. He knows he will get no further warnings. Whether he stops or not.

I’m focusing, Papa. I’m trying real hard.

You’re close. The earth, the sky. You have a right to them. You have a right.

Will I see the sky, Papa? Will I make it?

Entry #16

Restless Dawn
by Szelsofa

The clock went off fifteen minutes before its due time for a school day. Sage needed time. She walked up to the window, as if in search.

Ragged, smudgy clouds overwhelmed the late autumn sky. Now where was the Sun? The light to peek into the new day and wash away those pink shreds?

Sage opened up her case and reached for a small, oblong paper box. Her hands trembled as she took out the description. She looked at the words again, for one last time.

Her mind did not perceive the phrases; words collided and jumbled; but she had read the text in the previous day to the effect of knowing it by heart.

Taking a long, deep breath, she let the white plastic slip into her pockets.

The knob on her door turned without a squeak.

Her parents have been up, but she sneaked into the bathroom without being heard.

What if Momma finds out what Baby’s up to, Sage wondered, almost managing a smile, but the mirror reflected a rather clumsy and tortured grin instead.

She lowered herself on the toilet, holding the cup she had prepared the night before in one hand. It was quite hard to suppress laughter. So she laughed some and then cried.

Minutes passed to no avail.

Finally there it was; her pee in the cup.

She fished her pocket for the plastic and immersed it into the warmth of the liquid.

Two more minutes for the Sun to be up.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Entry #15

by Precie

“Morning, Mommy!”

The 3-yr-old’s voice chirped through the baby monitor. Paul pulled the down comforter over his head to block out the increasing brightness. Only a little kid could be that happy this early in the morning. Although Mikey had outgrown the need for a monitor, his early morning sing-song made the best alarm clock.

“Ooh are my sunsine. My onny sunsine. Ooh make me happeeee when sky-y gway.”

He could hear Mikey’s little feet pit-pat around the room, probably sorting through books and toys, looking for today’s can’t- live- without. All he wanted was to go back to sleep.

Suddenly, a sharp “Daddy!” bellowed through the monitor and the walls. Again. Louder. He forced himself out of bed and shrugged into a sweatshirt from the pile by the nightstand.

“Still sleepy time, buddy. It’s too early. Let’s get you back in bed.”

“Daddy!” A short blonde rocket launched at him from the rocking chair in the corner. “I saw Mommy!”

“You did? In our picture, right? There she is. Like we talked about.”

“No!” Mikey went and pointed out the window. “Right up dere!”

“Those are clouds, sweetheart.”

“Mommy was right dere. Mommy waved. Mommy flied in da sky.” Mikey’s round face pressed against the glass.

He couldn’t help it. Kneeling, he pressed his own face against the glass and stared in same direction.

“Don’ cry, Daddy. All gone.” Mikey spread his hands wide like a magician's flourish at the reveal. “Mommy all gone now. ‘kay?”

Entry #14

Just Another Monday Morning in Hell
by Angelique H. Caffrey

The flames were high and the clouds blood-red as Satan drove his hybrid to work.

“Any news, Mabel?” he asked his wiry, red-haired assistant after putting away his trident.

“Nope,” she announced. “But you do have a ten o’clock with Stalin.”

“Damn.” Satan sighed. “He’s a pain in the ass.”

Mabel nodded, idly fingering her demon-themed earrings, last year’s Secretary’s Day gifts. “Yeah. But what are you gonna do?”

Satan grinned and shrugged. He liked Mabel. She had slaughtered three husbands and one repairman by using kitchen utensils. A blender here, a cheese grater there. Mabel was one of the few people he trusted.

“Has Lizzie returned my calls?” he asked.

“Naw.” Mabel rolled her green eyes. “What a bitch. I wish you’d give her ‘the axe’.” She smiled wickedly.

Satan roared with laughter. “Mabel, you’re such a ‘cut up’!” His piercing eyes danced with joy.

They howled.

A persistent rapping at the door interrupted their delight. Satan and Mabel exchanged quick glances. “Stalin,” they said in unison.

“Shit.” Satan desperately needed a skinny latte, not a dialogue with the washed-up dictator. “Mabel, tell Stalin I’ll see him tomorrow. I can’t deal with him today.”

“Gladly,” she said. “And if case he gets pissy, I always have this…”

The newly-polished corkscrew gleamed under the fiery sky.

Satan hugged her warmly, singeing her eyebrows. “You’re the best.”

Mabel pushed him away. “Get to work, you devil!” She turned her radio up.

“Stairway to Heaven”. Again.

Just another Monday morning in Hell.

Entry #13

Phoenix Rising
by Jaye Wells

I am pinned to the ground. My hands and feet throb, but the stake through my heart burns like hellfire. I lift my head, watching the sky gradually lighten. My nemesis, the sun, spreads its pink wings across the horizon. Already, my eyes water and my skin feels coated in acid.

How the villagers trapped me remains a mystery. One minute, I feasted on the sweet blood of a virgin. The next, an angry horde carried me through the town and into the forest. Torchlight glinted off pitchforks and cruel faces as they gave me the vampire stigmata.

Now, I am alone, save the celestial demon rising in the east. Each second, the sky morphs from calming black into deadly blue. The skin on my face is dissolving. I grit my fangs and plan my revenge.

Intense heat consumes me in a burst of pleasure-pain. My soul breaks free and rises into the ether. Now, I am a bloodthirsty phoenix. I soar toward the ball of fire and taunt its impotent rays.

To the villagers, the scorched carcass below will be a prize. They will feast this day and on into the night. Virgins will feel safe again, and their mothers will sing to the gods.

Foolish mortals. They’ll soon learn the scorched pile of bone is naught but a memento mori.

Tonight, I shall make my home in the nubile body of one of those virgins. Then, the villagers will finally know the true meaning of terror.

Entry #12

To Be The Hero Once More
by Paul Liadis

I should’ve listened to my wife.

She had told me, begged me really, to sit this one out, to stay at home with her and the baby ,to not try to be the hero. She knew this about me. I always have to be the hero.

She told me I’m not a kid any more, that I have responsibilities now. “What if you got hurt”, she asked. We both knew we couldn’t afford for me to miss any time at work, but I assured her that I’d be fine, that there’s no way “Sweet Feet” was coming home injured. She rolled her eyes.

Sure they were all at least twelve years younger than I, and most of them faster and stronger. And sure, at the last minute they had decided we were going to play tackle rather than touch. I was going to be Quarterback; all of the glory without having to do much running or even get hit.

I’m not sure what came over me. Watched too many Steeler games? All those girls in the stands, cheering us on? It’s nice to know you still got it, right?

It was fourth down, we were at the goal-line, and the game was on the line. In retrospect, maybe I shouldn’t have dove, but it felt right at the time.

And so, I find myself staring at the beautiful Fall Pennsylvania sky, with a headache and possibly a few less teeth. Was it worth it? Depends. Did I get in?

Entry #11

by Sarah Hina

I was meant to fall in love that night.

Homecoming Dance was my shabby canvas, a Zuckerman twin my silkier muse. Chloe Z., who claimed to be a reincarnated goddess, rubbing henna onto her hands, her hair, her calico “art.” I condoned this crazy for lissome legs and musical ankles, which, granted, I’d only peeped through shredded stockings and the eyelets of combat boots. The skin underneath? As wanton as a waning moon, winking across the crowded night.

I gunned the Firebird down the country road, cursing myself for being late on such a night, for such a girl. Her corsage, a weak carnation, quivered on the passenger seat, along with empty bottles and a box of rubbers.

It was autumn. The leaves were cheap confetti, tumbling through the air.

Rounding a curve, something darted across my path. I slammed on my brakes, tires skidding, until the hood smacked something (white) and shuddered into silence.

I stepped out of the car.

Afterward, I stepped back in.

Rumors followed that Chloe was pissed. I couldn’t care. High school was a fucking fairy tale by then, without the tra-la-la ending. I drove on, down other roads.

But sprawled under this calico sky, I remember another harvest dawn. And how I shivered atop the stiffening grass, dully absorbing that autumn is Nature’s last ejaculate, before the rigor mortis of winter, and spring’s rebirth.

I was meant to fall in love that night.

But for those tumbling, tumbling leaves.

Stained henna, stained with blood.

Entry #10

Last Sunrise
by Alexander Salas

I treasure the imbedded memory of my last sunrise. It's the only remembrance I've recalled from my time on earth. A beautiful still, painted inside my brain, hung alone for only me to enjoy.

Thirty-three years of existence stripped from my mind. Eternal damnation was my sentence. Suicide sealed my fate.

I know I killed myself. I don't know how or why.

My family, my friends, the good times, the bad and my whole life erased forever from the chalkboard of being.

Engulfed by unimaginable pain and suffering, my last sunrise has become my personal Hell. I've grown to hate it. I shed a tear.

Entry #9

My Last Cloudy Thought
by Scott Simpson

My last dying thought eludes me like an open sky. Moribund am I and soaked in medicine and morphine. They can pickle me and jar my organs if they so desire. They can treat me like the fatuous fat man I‘ve become and the fraudulent fighter I know I am.

They can assume all they want about me in their deranged and helpful hearts. My desire to live, for example. My desire to die.

But they can’t take from me my knowledge of what my last thought came to be.

I own that knowledge as my last refuge.

I wait for it.

I try and steer myself away from memories.

“She was an evil cunt with a slim waste and an eye for a wad of cash. “

“You were a father steeped in tradition and as cold as a block of ice.”

“My daughter. You brought this on yourself. “

“Oh, my brother! How could you have done this to your flesh and blood?”

I try.

“There is a stream that runs about the back of the barn. There you will find the tiny steelhead, and the water-skippers and the svelte tree frogs.”

“The sky there opens up at night, and rumbles and shoots stars.”

“The nature there is solace in a cloudy afternoon… The storms of our souls may wrestle there.”

“I have wet myself again.”

“Good God, please don’t let that thought be it!”

Entry #8

No Margin
by Josh Vogt

The plastic filter muffles the elder’s heavy breathing. His pale eyes are thumbprint smudges behind the glass panes of his mask.

“I remember when sunsets meant romance, not retribution,” he says, vocal cords creaking from acid-clawed scars.

I am disoriented by how organic everything is beyond the threshold. Mold instead of plastic. Dirt instead of steel. Bones instead of fiber optic cables.

“The trees grew green,” the elder says. “Not black. You could have sex without spending two weeks in a decontamination center afterwards. Swimming in a lake didn’t sizzle your fat like bacon.”

He shoves me outside, far enough so it’s useless to try and fight my way back in.

“Birds sang. They didn’t scream.” He gives me a last, baleful glare from within the airlock. “I ache for the world, but not for you.”

The door irises shut, hissing as it seals. It will not open for me again.

I press a hand to my stomach, noticeably swollen beneath the orange webbing of my biohazard suit—new life within me, waking to a dead world.

Unplanned. Unacceptable. Unforgiven.

I watch the sky burn, and wonder how far I can chase the sunset before the oxygen tank runs out.

Entry #7

Manila Bay, Philippines
December 7th, 1941
by Ello

The soldier walked in the cooling sands of Manila Bay. He marveled at the warm water lapping at his ankles, so different from the icy cold spray of the Atlantic Ocean. The golden sun hung low and large over a luminous sea. Sunlight and water fused together to send up a burst of joyous color in layered shades of red and orange lightening up into the darkening sky overhead whose blue had turned a deep indigo purple. The sun rose and set differently here in the Philippines.

As he stood alone on the soft white sand, he felt a comfortable inconsequence of being amongst all of nature’s beauties. The vastness of the sky and sea was overpowering to a young farm boy. He was a mere ripple in the ocean blue. A few months ago, he’d been sitting on his porch listening to the sounds of a waking farm under a docile dawn sky. Colors at home were muted pastels, pretty and soft. Here, life was vibrant and sharp with rich details.

The soldier waited peacefully, soaking in the last embers of fading light. As the sun set lower into the sea, its setting rays outlined the ominous black silhouettes of the U.S. naval ships lurking in the bay, leaving the farm boy turned soldier with an indelible imprint of beauty and danger. Evening enveloped him suddenly, as if a vast curtain had been dropped over the sky. Leaving him chilled and strangely frightened in the completeness of the dark.

Entry #6

A Fork In The Road
by Herschel Cozine

The clouds scudded overhead in a mindless race to—where? The rising sun painted them a brilliant pink, red and orange. Nora would have loved it. And so, at one time, would I.

But today I cared nothing about them as I drove down the deserted country road. My old car, barely surviving the morning chill, chugged with an asthmatic growl, bringing me closer to my destination.

Destination? Like the roiling clouds above, I had no destination. I stared through the soiled windshield, straining to see the road ahead in the surreal light of dawn.

I came to a fork in the road, one I had traversed thousands of times before. I braked the car to a shuddering halt. The south road led to Centralville, the largest town in the county, a pleasant if ordinary town that only the locals knew about. The north road led to—nowhere really. A deserted rock quarry. A miner’s shack, long abandoned. A dead-end road. No one ever used it anymore. No one except those who had despaired of life and found refuge in the solace of silence and aloneness. And death.

I looked at the magnificent clouds with awareness for the first time. They were as breathtaking as a Rembrandt masterpiece. If only Nora were here to share the beauty. Now, the clouds were only bleak reminders of better times. Nevertheless I would follow them as they careened across the sky.