Friday, January 30, 2009


watch where you step
honey bee
hills like Cambodia
got dying grasses
and Princess Diana
digging land mines
with mommy-mommy hands

the future's a fist
of dead ends
happy balloon dead ends
tied to your wrist
yellow pop pop pop

I got pieces of my feet
in jars
Princess Diana
you missed one for every step
pop pop pop
so don't step
stand right the fuck there

honey bee in the tree
don't care about my toenails
in jars
just this ruby
now tasting now
fists bloomed wide
drop cut string umbilical cords
shedding blood
more delicious than tears

I walk just fine

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Say Hello to My Little Friend

I've always believed that the quiet anchor to The Clarity of Night is photography. I'm only an amateur (as if I had to tell you that, LOL!) A wannabe. But I did go through a pretty big photography stage as a teenager, and I have to admit, that it's become another treasured creative outlet for me. Anyway, you get the picture. (Pun intended.)

So back to blogging.... My theory has been that to effectively write in this internet/blog, you really have to adopt a more multimedia approach to build interest and harness its full power. Photography, videos,'s all good. All the photos you see here are mine, except on rare occasion. I use photos to inspire me and use stories to inspire photos. Once in a great while, I even post a little bit on photography itself. (Ahem.)

If you've been with me a while, you know I often love to explore close, small subjects. Like the post just below this one. Buds, insects, frogs, flowers, etc. I like get right in there. However, I've lacked an essential tool to do it relatively well. And that's a macro lens.

For those non-photographers out there, macro lenses are specialty lenses that can achieve a subject ratio of 1:1. Basically, that means that the subject will appear to be actual size on the camera sensor. However, since photos are viewed much larger than the size of the sensor, finished photos have a magnified effect.

Why am I blathering about this? Well, without further ado, let me introduce the Nikkor AF-S Micro 105mm ED VR lens (pictured above). I treated myself for my birthday (thanks Aine!!), and snagged this baby. It's my first professional-grade lens. CAN YOU TELL I'M EXCITED?!

Another cool thing about this lens is that the focal length (105mm) makes it a good portrait and general subject lens. I'm thinking I'll get lots of use from it, although my previous workhorse lens will still be important in my landscape photography, especially when I do shots from a moving car.

Here one extra tidbit. The picture in the last post features an impossible range of focus. Macro lenses have notoriously thin fields of view. For example, here is the same shot, but with only the back of the twig in focus.

For last post's picture, I've used a technique called stacking. It's a composite picture formed from 5 different shots, each having a different part of the subject in focus. The stacking program then integrates all 5 shots by choosing only those portions in focus. The end result is a single picture with everything in focus. Pretty cool, eh?

Anyway, I don't talk photography much, so thank you for indulging me. Now and again, I get the itch.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Spring Comes in the Night

As sunlight throbs in frozen ground
Climbs celestial houses bound
Awaken the roots when love was new
Trickling in darkness as springtime grew

(Warm stirrings will be coming soon.
Are you ready? Listen as you sleep.)

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Offer

Come on, love
Sign my name
Like I do yours
No shame
    --The Offer, Cruel Black Dove

(Find Part 1, Love Story by Cruel Black Dove, HERE.)

Bar noise boiled like white water.

She listened. Detached. Part of it, and not part of it. Reveling in both.

"Hey. Could I buy you a refill there?" a man said from behind her.

She twirled the ice in her glass. Faraway and quiet. Not flirty at all.

The world flowed in the same delicious stream as that motion. Caressed by the alcohol. Almost as if the present held onto the passing seconds and mixed with a taste of the future. Wonderful and disorienting.

The cubes stopped.

"Yes," she said, facing him. "I'd love another drink."

"Great!" He motioned for the bartender, pointed down, and the man nodded. "So, um, do you work in the city?" he said.

She edged aside his discomfort. Mined deeper. Stalked through the numbness of her drink. "Actually, I do."


She felt herself tightening, coiling around his presence.

"Do you...."

His eyes were grey. Almost clear. Like having no color at all.

"Do I what?" she said.

His shoulders settled. Broadened. The discomfort drained. "I was going to ask if you come here often."

"Go ahead."

"It's just a stupid line."

She swam in her bathwater senses. Anchored by him. Why wasn't she nervous and scurrying away?

"Ridiculous really," he said.


He watched her. Something emerging. Becoming different.

"Can I tell you something?" he said.


"I think I know you," he said.


"You do?"

"Yes," he said.

"From where?"

"That's not what I meant."

Her lips parted. Just a fraction.

Curious. So curious. He seemed to be standing closer.

"Maybe you do," she said. "And maybe you don't."

He smiled. "I guess it doesn't really matter."

No. Not at all.

"Are you okay?" he said.

Excitement so primal. It shivered in her deep. Impaling on his scent. Peeling her wide.

"I don't want to be me tonight," she whispered.

In the darkness.

Her inferno screams.

"Can you do that for me?" she said.

And he smiled with his own darkness.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Under the Willows

(Earlier this year, I did something I've always wanted to do. A narrative poem in the spirit of THE HIGHWAYMAN by Alfred Noyes. Since then, Under the Willows occassionally flits back into my mind with its intense sexuality and vampire theme. It was done as a serial, so it has never appeared in its entirety before now. As our thoughts turn to spring, we remember the mysteriously warm nights and wait for our blood to race again.)

He walked with withering twilight colors
Walled in the halls of a quiet sky
And trilled the lullaby birds to silence
Alone as the daylight died

The curving road in the evening whispered
Collin, his name, on a restless wind
Under the willows the shadows deepened
And hid every trace of him

Beyond the marsh and its blackened ripples
Fenced from the forest, a lonely home
With windows flickering through the darkness
Inspiring the lost to roam

The night's first feathery rays of moonlight
Fell on the gates and the mildewed stone
He spied the graves in the nearby distance
Beside the less traveled roads

Among the monuments, Collin embraced
Purity won by the grace of death
And oftentimes he found sanctuary
A secretive place to rest

The sculpted roses and angels kneeling
Wept with a yearning for what was lost
He strangely sensed in the soil were hidden
Embraces consigned to dust

The ashen moon, his lovely companion
Painted the writing with ghostly hands
His trembling fingertips traced her name
A soul who might understand

A breeze from eastern horizons whistled
Valleys of trees turned their silver leaves
He felt the footsteps before he heard them
Malevolence shook his knees

The blackness rushed him and took his body
Ripping arms open to icy stars
The hillside blurred and the forest claimed him
His heartbeat engulfed the dark

Suspended high in the nameless shadows
Quivering toes reached for precious ground
The muscled lines of his neck extended
His groan was a trembling sound

A writhing brilliance of lust exploded
Arched and erupting he gasped and screamed
Sensations falling and flying tumbled
His soul spurted scarlet streams

The swirling hurricane winds departed
Shaking he plunged back to lonesome land
He crawled with weary and cold exhaustion
Impossible to withstand

Beneath the roots was a rotted hollow
Carved from the death of an ancient tree
He burrowed warm in the womb of soil
And boiled in tangled dreams

He tasted images pulsing hotly
Fair and retiring emerald fires
He felt her cheek on the goose down pillow
And tiptoed in her desires

A hundred lifetimes on gales he traveled
Human fragility doused the flames
For weeks he chewed on the boundless questions
And searched for his lover's name

A fox's footfalls advanced attentive
Leapt through the forest when Collin stirred
His skin was milk after leaving tattered
His clothing beneath the dirt

Deluged by torrents of new moon darkness
Soaring he swam on the living night
Against the silhouette mountains climbing
He shimmered in ghostly flight

A rustle pulled at the linen covers
Soft was the sound of his landing feet
He crept the length of the grey slate rooftop
Below they returned to sleep

He drew his slithering body liquid
Curled through the cracks where the field mice stole
His languid fingers caressed the bedpost
And tickled their breaths with cold

His aching melodies strummed the final
Withering phase of the April moon
Her lips were touched by the melting lyrics
Seduced by his nightly tune

He whispered promises sweet to spiders
Fluttering down from their shrouded feasts
In other bedrooms they wove the faces
With blankets of webby peace

A pair of delicate drops of moisture
Perched on her strangely familiar skin
He coaxed them trailing with loving fingers
His welcoming tears for Bryn

She jumped and sat with her heartbeat pounding
Seconds like earthquakes consumed the room
She tried to call to her shrouded father
Bewitched in his silken tomb

Her window shattered in howling windstorms
Ripping her gown through the broken pane
She splayed on willowy branches bending
A league down the rutted lane

He peeled himself from her heaving body
Watching her pant underneath his glare
Her legs were clawed with delicious scratches
And glowed in the moonlight bare

He kissed the neck she surrendered breathless
Lured by its beautiful hollows down
She ripped her buttons and arched toward him
Discarding the shredded gown

He groaned and tasted her body sighing
Piercing the swells of her maiden breasts
His cravings howled with her shameless thrashing
The shivering tree confessed

She pinned her knees to the twisted branches
Twining his hair in her fevered hands
She pulled him down to her molten rocking
And clove her red fires fanned

The Earth's primordial flavors drew him
Lashed with divinity's soaring grace
Her body wrapped to consume his hunger
And cradle his precious face

He rode the tidal waves pounding through her
Clutching to match her abandoned pace
And when her gasping eruptions thundered
He preyed on her shrieking place

The whirlwind drained from the frenzied willow
Emptiness seeping from where they flew
And where a drop of her life blood landed
A burgundy primrose grew

     (And he said: will you come if I call?
     Darkness erodes every distance
     And nighttime conquers us all.)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Winners' Announcement - "Ascension" Short Fiction Contest

After another wonderful contest experience, complete with stunning writing, new friends, and great mutual support, it's my pleasure to recognize the following writers:

1st Place--PETER DUDLEY, Sliding (#90)
[Prize: $50 Amazon gift certificate, 8 x 10 print of the "Ascension" photograph (inscribed by Jason Evans)]

2nd Place--JAMES R. TOMLINSON, If You'd Only Pay Attention (#8)
[Prize: $20 Amazon gift certificate]

3rd Place--DOTTIE CAMPTOWN, Static Ellen (#54)
[Prize: $15 Amazon gift certificate]

4th Place--VICTOR BRAVO MONCHEGO, JR., Up is Fine (#17)
[Prize: $10 Amazon gift certificate]

5th Place--ANGELIQUE H. CAFFREY, Infinity (#12)
[Prize: $5 Amazon gift certificate]

Honorable Mention--DONNA DICKSON, The List (#6)

Honorable Mention--LAUGHINGWOLF, Shafted (#28)

Honorable Mention--LAURIE X, At the Still Point of the Turning World (#40)

Honorable Mention--JANEY V, The Valentine's Date (#49)

Honorable Mention--PRECIE, Breakthrough (#62)

Honorable Mention--WAYNE SCHEER, A Balanced Life (#70)

Honorable Mention--McKOALA, That Day (#74)

Honorable Mention--JOHN McAULEY, In Blue (#112)

Honorable Mention--AERIN ROSE, Squaring Up (#118)

Honorable Mention--ESTHER AVILA, Waiting on a Miracle (#125)


Readers' Choice, 1st Place--DINA MURPHY, And the Gobstoppers Rolled Like Marbles (#60)
[Prize: $15 Amazon gift certificate, 8 x 10 print of the "Ascension" photograph (inscribed by Jason Evans)]

Readers' Choice, 2nd Place--ANGELIQUE H. CAFFREY, Infinity (#12)
[Prize: $10 Amazon gift certificate]

Readers' Choice, 3rd Place (TIE)--JOSH VOGT, Cleanup in the Food Court (#44)
[Prize: $5 Amazon gift certificate]

Readers' Choice, 3rd Place (TIE)--J. SCOTT ELLIS, The Yes Man (#83)
[Prize: $5 Amazon gift certificate]


As always, choosing was painful. You all deserve a massive round of applause. Everyone has something valuable to take away.

Just how successful was it? Your 125 entries have generated 38,813 hits from 8,495 unique visitors! I'm grateful for such a wonderful turnout.

Over the course of the next day, I will be adding comments on those entries which scored high in one or more of the judging categories. Also, I have added an asterisk next to the names of inductees into the Clarity of Night Forties Club. These entries earned a combined score of 40 or above and represent solid writing in my judgment.

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 and for all of the excellent writing. Give the winners a pat on the back for their outstanding work.

The Clarity of Night will now be powering down from contest mode and returning to normal content.

It's been great fun! Feel free to contact me anytime.

You will always find a welcoming place here.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Last Day for Readers' Choice Voting!!

The voting period for the Readers' Choice Award closes at 8:00 p.m., eastern time (U.S.) tonight. I encourage all participants to vote!

Winners Announcement tomorrow morning!!

I wanted to take a moment to talk about the after contest period. In the past, I have commented on each story about what I liked best. However, I'm not sure that feedback has been very valuable. This time, I'd like to try something different.

If you are familiar with the judging process, you know that I score each entry on the elements of pacing, entertainment value, technical skill, storytelling, and voice for a possible 45 points (the voice element only has 5 possible points because of the difficulty in establishing voice in such a short piece). For this contest, I will identify any categories in which you scored highly.

Also, after scoring 705 entries over these 10 contests, I've come to believe that any entry that scores 40 or above is a solid piece of writing, whether or not it places. For this contest, I will also be announcing the "Forties Club" for those entries which get at least a 40. If you've achieved that level, you've succeeded in my opinion. The rest is just polishing and story choice.

For those of you wanting to improve, what a great opportunity you have!! There are wonderful writers here willing to support you and give you feedback. Every one of us can do better. It's a sorry day when we decide to stop learning.

See you all tomorrow for the announcement!

Friday, January 16, 2009

5 Minutes

What a great contest, no? The participants have been incredible! You all are really reading and supporting each other wonderfully. And keep those Readers' Choice votes coming!

As always, I like to join in the spirit of the contests and share my own vision of the contest photo. See you guys back on Monday night when I'll let you know when the winners will be announced. Have a great weekend!


5 Minutes
by Jason Evans

He saw his heartbeat.

Not red like blood. A frayed white throbbing at the edge of his vision.

You have five minutes. Only five minutes.

He tripped onto the escalator. His hand smeared sweat onto the railing.

Don't hold this in your hand. Security will see you.

The urge to keep walking snaked around his throat. Squeezed. But he drifted up slowly. Already half way there.

People will congregate around the train schedules.

He puffed, trying to breathe.

Opened and closed his hands.

Shoulders aching from the weight.

Walk quickly. Don't run.

He pushed against his choking heartbeat.

Pushed against gnawing memories.

Take out the detonator only when you are there.

His brother's body. Broken mouth yawning.

Bile from his exploded father pooled on the apartment floor.

Don't hesitate. Press hard. Detonate.

The escalator delivered him. He bumped shoulders with a man. Wove around a crying child. Security faced away with their weapons tipped downward.

He remembered their bodies.

Beating his head with his hands.

Throwing himself on them as he wailed.

Choose one target. Walk straight.

In the crowd, he drew out the detonator.

The explosives under his clothes itched.

His hand shook.

Have your revenge.

But all around him, he saw his brother's dead, marble eyes.


"He didn't do it!" the van driver said.


"They captured him!"


The road beneath the tires rumbled. A white cloud billowed behind them.

The man gaped. "How? They captured him!"

"Insurance," the passenger said, tapping his watch.

Five minutes.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Ascension Guest Writer: Sarah Hina

Now, please give a warm round of applause to Sarah Hina. Clarity of Night veterans know how she crushed the last contest, "Running Wind," and walked away with a well deserved 1st Place finish. I'm immensely proud to announce that since that time, her first novel Plum Blossoms in Paris has been accepted for publication! Rock on, Sarah!

If you're already a fan of Sarah's writing over at Murmurs, then you'll understand the magnitude of what I'm about to say. YOU AIN'T SEEN NOTHING YET. Her novel is stunning. It's an intense, penetrating romance, and more. Her characters have the usual surface desires, hurts, and baggage, but that's where the usual ends. She grinds them into one another, no holds barred, and forces them to face their deepest emotional fractures. And she sets those storms of discovery and desperation against the beautiful history and art of Paris. It's a feast, I tell you. A feast that leaves you aching as much as you smile. How do I know? Aine and I have the distinct honor of having become critique partners for Sarah, and I'm hugely blessed to have Aine and Sarah as mine.

Sarah stopped over to say:

Jason's 2007 "Halo" contest was my first foray into flash fiction, and I enjoyed the feedback I received for my entry and the challenge of writing a complete, compelling story with so few words. Most of all, I was surprised, and touched, by the spirit of community at The Clarity of Night. I met people. People who have become very dear friends.

So it's a delight to return to my fifth contest on the heels of receiving a publishing contract for Plum Blossoms in Paris. As always, I've loved all your engaging stories (I'm, uh, pretty grateful not to be competing this time around). But more importantly, I've enjoyed seeing the camaraderie and support in the comments sections, and imagining all the new connections being formed, and strengthened, well past the contest's end. That's always been the real prize to be won here.

So thank you, Jason and Aine, for your friendship to me, and for shining your light on so many worthy writers! You're such wonderful hosts. And good luck, Jason, in picking the winners! You're going to need it. ;)


The Journey
by Sarah Hina

“Imagine all the time before you were born,” he said.

She stepped on the escalator, listening.

“Now imagine all the time after you die.”

She struggled with her heels. A kid giant-stepped the descending escalator, as the screech of subway brakes tore through the tunnel.

He turned to her.

“I’m trying, but—”

“I know,” he said. “Impossible. But that’s kind of the point.”


“So what we have—what our whole lives are—is this amazing gift, right? But tiny. Precious. Like,” he brushed his finger across her face, “an eyelash on the cheek.”

He showed her the lash. Instinctively, she blew. When her eyes opened, he was leaning in. Staring.

She swallowed.

“What did you wish for?” he said.

Blood rushed her neck, her ears. Swelling shy capillaries.


Their ride was almost up. His eyes grew bright.

“My point is—”

Before she could react, he slung a leg over the rail and sailed backwards. Building killer momentum. Riders snatched their hands away in quick succession.

Her mouth gaped. He answered with a blurry smile. And landed.

The escalator peeled her off, and she worked for balance.

“Are you fucking CRAZY?” she exploded, ignoring the dirty looks.

His laughter warmed the vast, empty space. “WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?”

She traced the burn of her cheek, considering. She could take the down escalator. The normal way. Or not. Either way, her destination remained the same.

She smiled, as her fingers fell to her side. Hitching her skirt.

Ascension Guest Writer: Jaye Wells

Jaye holds a very special place at The Clarity of Night and these contests. Beyond being a great friend, Jaye earned esteemed recognition for her story "I Can Dig It" in the immensely competitive "Lonely Moon" Short Fiction Contest. This spring (I can't wait!!), Jaye will be celebrating the major release of her first novel Red-Headed Stepchild. Here's the juice:

In a world where being of mixed-blood is a major liability, Sabina Kane has the only profession fit for an outcast: assassin. But, her latest mission threatens the fragile peace between the vampire and mage races and Sabina must scramble to figure out which side she's on. She's never brought her work home with her---until now.

The idea for the story was sparked by her entry!! I'm so very honored to host a forum for that sort of creative energy. Thank you, Jaye, for all that you've done, and all the support you continue to give. We wish you all success!

(Catch Jaye over at her website and The League of Reluctant Adults.)


Some of Us Are Looking at the Stars
by Jaye Wells

The hangover of Soviet Russia still pulses here despite the infusion of Western luxuries like toilet paper and fresh bread. Irena clings to her baguette and tries to ignore the stale scent of urine. The smell intensifies as the escalator descends and mingles with another odor—the grey scent of despair.

Irena is smiling. Her red lips are unnaturally chromatic in this drab underworld. She fingers the badges of honor on her neck, remembering the pleasure-pain of penetration. She shifts and revels in the secret sting between her thighs. Her body is descending into Moscow's bowels, but inside she's flying.

A Babushka bumps Irena on her way down the steel steps. She mutters about young people with their heads in the clouds. Irena wonders if the old woman ever felt this quickening in her belly, this divine anticipation. She shakes her head. Babushkas would rather stare at their sensible black shoes than revel in the promise of stars.

A whistle screeches through the tunnels. Irena reaches the bottom of the escalator and blends into the muddy puddle of humanity pooling there. Their heads hang as they shuffle toward the train's hungry mouths.

Irena surrenders herself to the tide. She knows she will say yes to him. Say yes to an eternity of nights spiced with copper. The blood will be troublesome, of course. But when you've spent your life surrounded by grey, a world soaked in red sounds like heaven.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Readers' Choice Award ("Ascension")

The "Ascension" Short Fiction Contest is now closed.

Thank you everyone for a wonderful week! The response, the writing, and the mutual support has been stunning!!

But we have WAY more fun in store!

Voting for the Readers' Choice Award is now open!

This portion of the contest is open to everyone who submitted an entry (and guest writers). 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 three Readers' Choice Awards; 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 Monday, January 19th, at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time (U.S.). At that time, I will let you know when the winners will be announced.


We have two very special guest writers joining us. Both have rocked Clarity of Night contest wins before, and both are well on their way to seeing their first novels hit the bookshelves! Stay tuned tomorrow for some "Ascension" of their own!!

And finally, in the tradition of Clarity of Night contests, on Friday I will share my own vision of the "Ascension" photo.

Have a great night!

"Ascension" Short Fiction Contest


Click HERE for the winners announcement.

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

Index of Entries
Aerin Rose*, Squaring Up (#118) HONORABLE MENTION
Andrews, Jana, Karma (#96)
Anks, The Interview (#43)
Ansari, Sameera*, Reassurance (#33)
Avila, Esther*, Waiting on a Miracle (#125) HONORABLE MENTION
Arjun, Escalating Life (#75)
BernardL, Crush (#1)
Bhatia, Amrita, The Last Realization (#101)
Caffrey, Angelique H.*, Infinity (#12) 5TH PLACE
Camptown, Dottie*, Static Ellen (#54) 3RD PLACE
Canterbury Soul*, 2009 (#41)
Ceedy, Nirvana (#65)
Clarke, Susan, The Co-Conspirator (#113)
Collins, Patsy, Going Down (#37)
Coughlin, Frank, The Empress Ascends (#122)
Courtland, Linda, So What if She Has No Feet? (#30)
Cozine, Herschel, The Long Climb (#23)
Cranmer, David, Flight of the Grievous Angel (#93)
Davidson, Peter, The Heights (#4)
Day, Terry, My Hero (#97)
DeCarlo, Renee, Range of View (#45)
Deepsat, Ascension (#85)
Deshmukh, Harshad*, A Bullet With My Name (#34)
de vivre, Joie, Zero Feeling (#108)
Dhanke, Prashant*, Life Is Beautiful (#84)
Dickson, Donna*, The List (#6) HONORABLE MENTION
D’Souza, Elvira, Weighing Options (#76)
Dudley, Peter*, Sliding (#90) 1ST PLACE
Ellis, J. Scott, The Yes Man (#83)
Ello, From Dark to Light (#59)
Emeraldcite*, Up (#16)
Ennis, Scott, Resurrection Blue (#107)
Evans, Jason, 5 Minutes YOUR HOST
Faris, Jenn, Arrival (#46)
Geraldine, The Gift (#5)
Gilbert, K. Lawson*, The Baptizer (#124)
Goodall, Stuart*, Ascension (#119)
Gordon, Betty, Escalating Fear (#22)
Green, Rachel*, Underlater (#9)
Greenberg, KJ Hannah, Reflexing Upward (#10)
Griswold-Ford, Val, One Step (#91)
Gupta, Manan, Good Times, Bad Times (#36)
Hina, Sarah, The Journey GUEST WRITER
Hiren, Emotional Atyachaar (#98)
Hogue, Kristy, (Electric) Stairway to Heaven (#24)
Jakobsen, Mette, Falling (#21)
Janey V*, The Valentine’s Date (#49) HONORABLE MENTION
Jennifer*, Translation (#81)
Johnson, Peggy L., Treadmill (#11)
Joujan, Anna G., Baggage Claim, Up One Level (#63)
Karen, You Have No Right (#53)
King, Tiffany, The Lottery Winner (#105)
Kubuitsile, Lauri, Perks of the Job (#69)
Kunal, P, I Can’t Live Without You (#100)
Kunjal, Ascension (#78)
Laughingwolf*, Shafted (#28) HONORABLE MENTION
Laurie X*, At the Still Point of the Turning World (#40) HONORABLE MENTION
Lena, Getting Free (#7)
Liadis, Paul, Reversal (#26)
Lissa, The Long Ride (#15)
Livesey, Rebecca*, Purgatory (#68)
L’uragano, The Letter (#114)
Mandar S, Entry #116
McAuley, John*, In Blue (#112) HONORABLE MENTION
McKoala*, That day (#74) HONORABLE MENTION
Monchego, Jr., Victor Bravo*, Up is Fine (#17) 4TH PLACE
Montgomery, J.C.*, Enlightened (#66)
Morocco-Clarke, Ayodele, At The World’s Feet (#89)
Murphy, Dina, And the Gobstoppers Rolled Like Marbles (#60)
Murty, Yamini, Antithesis (#95)
Mukta, I Am Not Shallow (#103)
Mystico, Going Up (#19)
Nagel, B., Further Up, Further In (#31)
Nash, Sara*, Vertigo (#52)
Nicholds, Sherri, Momentum (#58)
Nicolson, Ewen, Stand Right (#48)
Nothingman*, A Thousand And One Years (#72)
Parker, Scott D.*, The Truth Behind Boot-cut Jeans (#120)
Pelc, Michael, Second Floor: Housewares, Ladies' Fashions, and Lingerie (#71)
Peralta, Poch, Genius Suicides (#79)
Pires, Vic, Ascension (#35)
Pisku*, A Hot Cuppa in Heaven (#55)
Plouffe, Lauren*, Freedom (#67)
Posolxstvo, Climacophobia (#73)
The Preacherman, Uncle Cyril (#80)
Precie*, Breakthrough (#62) HONORABLE MENTION
Preston, Emily, Icarus (#61)
Rachel D.*, Your Time Has Come (#42)
Rajeswari, Dusk To Dawn (#92)
Rao, A.*, Alone (#123)
Rashi V, Till Death Do Us Part (#77)
Ravindranath, Vinay, Living For Our Dream (#56)
Reid, Rebecca*, The Reunion (#110)
Riddell, C.A., Escape (#99)
Rightmyer, Bobbi, Jade’s Ascension (#82)
RiverSoul, A Promise Kept (#86)
Robertshaw, Hilary*, Mind the Gap (#47)
Robinson, Kevin, When You Stand on an Escalator and Don't Let People Pass (#117)
Rosario, Blany Ashwin Francis, Three Escalators to Hope (#88)
Ruinwen, Forgotten (#2)
Sagri, Margaret, The Struggle (#106)
Salas, Alexander, Last Escalator Ride (#29)
Sandford, Kate, Moving On (#32)
Sawan, Anil, From Earth to Heaven (#13)
Scheer, Wayne*, A Balanced Life (#70) HONORABLE MENTION
Seamans, Sandra, Stalker (#20)
Senorita, Walk in the clouds (#50)
Sergent, Selma, Little Wing (#64)
Sharma, Richa, Ascension (#111)
Silvestri, A., Reality Check (#57)
Slatter, Stephen L., Bottom (#25)
The Solitary Writer, 6:30pm (#109)
Sullivan, Meghan*, The Long Ride Up (#121)
Suren, I Was About Half Way Through (#115)
Tan, Now, I Move Up (#87)
Thakkar, Aniket, Flashpoint (#18)
Tina M, Early Morning Train Rush (#94)
Tomlinson, James R.*, If You’d Only Pay Attention (#8) 2ND PLACE
Tysdaddy, Thin Air (#102)
Vee, Jimmie, Then the Piper Will Lead Us to Reason (#104)
Vesper, Ascension (#27)
Vibert, Catherine*, Son Games Mother (#3)
Vogt, Josh, Cleanup in the Food Court (#44)
Wagner, Sarah*, Going Up (#38)
Watters, Charlene, It’s Not Like It Is In The Movies (#51)
Watters, Kim, Ascension (#14)
Wavemancali, Back In The Garden (#39)
Wells, Jaye, Some of Us Are Looking at the Stars GUEST WRITER

(*Members of the Clarity of Night Forties Club. Entries which scored at least a 40 out of 45.)

Entry #125

Waiting on a Miracle
by Esther Avila

Jack watched the television, his mouth open at the scene unfolding at Fashion Point Mall -- police tape, metal, skin, and chaos.

“Unbelievable!” he said to himself as the phone rang.

“Hey, are you watching the news?” Kyle asked. “Can you believe it?”

Just the day before, Jack and Kyle met for dinner -- and a few drinks.

“Stop being such a baby. If I were in that wheelchair, I wouldn’t be such a whiner,” Kyle had said.

“I dare you to spend the whole evening in a wheelchair.”

The deal was on. Heading to the mall, Kyle obtained a chair and proceeded to maneuver around the shops.

“Nothing to it,” he said. “I bet my grandma could do this blindfolded.”

“Tell me that after you take the stairs.”

Kyle headed to the escalator, ignoring the warning: Strollers and Wheelchairs Prohibited.

“Don’t do it Kyle. I was kidding.”

Too late.

Jack felt helpless as he watched his best friend tumble to the bottom of the s

Laughing, Kyle stood, thankful for the beers that cushioned the fall.

A concerned crowd had gathered around him.

“I can walk,” Kyle yelled as he stood and pushed away the chair. “It’s a miracle!”

Jack’s attention turned back to the pretty reporter on the news

“…..two people are in critical condition and four others in serious condition after they rolled their wheelchairs down the escalator, apparently looking for a miracle. A man in his mid 20s was miraculously healed yesterday …..”

Entry #124

The Baptizer
by K. Lawson Gilbert

The old woman blessed herself when she saw the young man’s Sacred Heart of Jesus tattoo. Blood flowed from the nearly life-sized heart and ran in inky rivulets from his muscular bicep to his elbow.

Who would have a tattoo like that? She mused, as she searched her coat pockets for a tissue, shifting from one foot to the other on the grooved step of the escalator. Isn’t that sacrilegious or something? She blew her bulbous nose.

Her eyes found the tattoo again. “A flaming heart - shining with divine light, a bleeding lance-wound, surrounded by a crown of thorns, surmounted by a cross,” she whispered aloud, quietly and slowly, as she studied the image closely.

“OH! OH! Ohhhh! She cried, stumbling headfirst into the young man, as he stepped off the escalator. The old woman had been close on his heels, inspecting the image.

“Are you okay?” He asked, genuinely concerned.

“I might have been killed!” She blurted out, adjusting her babushka.

As he helped her up from the floor, her left hand touched the Sacred Heart of Jesus tattoo.

“Let’s sit here,” he said, as he led her to a nearby bench and sat down with her.

The woman looked in the palm of her left hand. It was wet with dark, red blood. She looked quizzically into the face of the young man.

“You have been baptized in the blood of Jesus, Anaya. “Go to the Father now,” he smiled and whispered, as she closed her eyes.

Entry #123

by A. Rao

Why am I still here? Everyone else has left, I am left behind. This place, once so bright and vivid, has been reduced to monochromatic hues. Indecision both pushes forward and stops me in my tracks, for once I go forward, it will be too late to change anything I did in the past.

Oftentimes, life is so complicated, with hundreds choices stretching out, each leading to different points. Even when you have an end point in mind, it is impossible to end up exactly where you think you will. Because roads loop back and forth, diverging and intersecting, and it is impossible to find your way through.

That is what I am trying to find now; a compass, or something to guide me in the right direction. Indecision is worse than moving, even if I should happen to be moving in the wrong direction. But though I can take any path I want, it might not be possible to return for gates close behind you as you move forward.

Will I wish I’d gone a different way? Everyone else has turned away. No one has laid down the path for me.

I step forward, and the gate to the past slams shut.

(The "A" in A. Rao is short for something, obviously. He's 12. His interests include music, soccer, chess, and reading.)

Entry #122

The Empress Ascends
by Frank Coughlin

The Empress sat in her throne wondering and waiting. She liked the throne which is what her son Michael called her chair. It was small like her and over the years she had worn her own personal groove into its padding. It fit her.

She thought of Michael, remembering the day he changed her name from Queen (actually Queen Bitch) to Empress.

“I am giving you a promotion,” he said, “you deserve it for putting up with me.”

A tear came to her eye. A mother should never outlive her child. A mother should never hold her dying son in her arms. But that was years ago and time should help you forget. Only now she want to remember, now she wanted some reason to go on. Her body ached constantly a combination of sciatica, arthritis, and bone loss. She could not sleep anymore and only this chair gave her relief.

Her eyes slowly closed, her breathing slowed and there was a deep quiet in the house. When she opened them again, he was there, sitting on the couch gazing at her. He got up and moved toward her, extending his hand.

“Let me help you,” he said. The Empress wore a dazed expression but did not speak. Instead, she let him help her out of the chair.

As if by some miracle, her steps became easier and by the time they reached the escalator, she could walk on her own.

“Thank you, Michael,” she said as she ascended.

Entry #121

The Long Ride Up
by Meghan Sullivan

I hoped the escalator ride would never end. When you’re on an escalator, it’s like being in limbo. Up you go, the world falling away, your destination hazy and distant. As long as you stay on it, nothing is expected of you. Maybe that’s why I wanted the escalator to just keep going, to rise endlessly so that I didn’t have to do anything.

As we ascended I looked down at the stair in front of me, its metal lines of destiny glowing like pale moonlight. How could something as mundane as an escalator stair be so otherworldly? I tried to ponder that mystery, but my eyes drifted to Kanji’s heels instead. I watched as he shifted his weight from right to left, the metal creaking underneath his leather boots. Was he uneasy? Was he bored? Did he not want to be there? With me?

What if I did take his hand? But suddenly I could hear his voice, harsh and full of alarm. “The hell are you doing!?” And like that our friendship would end. I loved him too much to risk that. Which is strange. I mean, there is something ironic about losing someone you love just because you make the mistake of saying “I love you.” So I kept my hands to myself and stayed silent, and prayed our journey would never end.

Entry #120

The Truth Behind Boot-cut Jeans
by Scott D. Parker

Without a doubt, the worst thing about being a teenaged faun is you can’t wear shorts. You can’t go swimming, you have to get exempted from PE, and playing any sports is simply out of the question.

And how do you hide your cloven hooves? Boot-cut jeans. The best invention for the faun community since those hidden gated ranches that dot the country.

So what do teenaged fauns do for fun? The mall. That’s all there is. You go to the mall, you walk about, and shop. Boring as hell after the first few months.

I was wandering listlessly at the mall that day when I saw those jeans. It was the same brand as mine, same style, same distinctive curvature at the base. My heart palpitated and my horns tingled as I adjusted my ball cap. I drew in her fragrance. She was a faun.

Almost at the top, I reached out to touch her, get her attention. Somehow, still don’t know, I lost my balance. I bumped her and her hoof slid on the escalator step. She righted herself but the cuff of her jeans caught in the narrow slit where the steps disappear. Her jeans ripped, exposing her beautiful, downy legs.

Women screamed, babies cried, men stood with mouths agape. The police took her away. They found our community and rounded us up.

I am an outcast here in the camps. But at least I can wear shorts now. I really hated jeans.

Entry #119

by Stuart Goodall

The worn rubber of the handrail feels rough. My nails dig in easily. Chunks fall away to their deaths in the ruts of the metal steps. The eyelets on my shoes look on. No laces to blind them.

I am rising up: escalating.

So many people here. Wasting precious seconds. Scowling, frowning and maintaining blank mannequin faces. Wearing clothes they think they chose. Speaking with weight they think they measured. They swallow up the world and then regurgitate it under the mistaken impression that they are contributing something other than another monotone voice in a sea of monotone voices screeching from the cookie stalls and coffee shops and retail outlets that frantically try and keep them from realising that all their choices are hopelessly limited and that nothing they say or do or wear or eat has not been said or done or worn or eaten a thousand times before.

My shoes are dirty.

The steps are closing in on each other. Now they have gone and we are at the escalation apex. The rubber corpses have nowhere to hide. They catch in the grate. I step beyond them. So many people. I can hear my pulse in my ears. To take something is to make it yours. I must choose.

A girl.

She is looking over the balcony.

My shoes squeak as I run.

Entry #118

Squaring Up
by Aerin Rose

“I need boxers,” I say to my mother hopefully. Mostly Sean gets everything new, and I get passed-down jeans with ripped pockets and shirts with armpit stains. I draw the line at underwear.

“We’ll see if anything’s on sale after I look at ties.” She heads off.

That was easy. Mom must be in a sentimental mood. UNLV’s been courting Sean with a full basketball scholarship since he won the championship last year. There’s just the formality of the interview, which is why we’re at the mall after practice, buying suits we can’t afford.

On the thinly carpeted floors in the hallway of the men’s dressing room, I stretch out my legs, turn up the volume on the iPod I worked all summer to buy. Ten minutes later, I peer under the cheap particleboard partitions to see if Sean’s done. My brother’s sitting, still in his own clothes, staring at a piece of paper.

“Sean? What’s up?” He doesn’t stop me when I open the door, reach down to grab the note.

The words stay low, stuck in his throat. “I’m off the team. Coach said it’s lucky I’m not expelled.” I tower over him. I’d kept his secret, but now. He’s in deep.

“Tell Mom I’m going to look at boxers.” I drop the paper.

I trip out of the dressing room, walk down the hall, through the men’s department, onto the escalator, up, high, higher.

(Aerin is a mom, a theologian, and a Facebook addict. Come join the 2009 Writing Challenge!)

Entry #117

When You Stand on an Escalator and Don't Let People Pass
by Kevin Robinson

“I swear to God, I’m going to punch these people in the back of the head!” she whispered to herself. It wasn’t really their fault. They could no more move than she could. This was the problem with escalators. Too many of those escalating, feel entitled to just stand and let the machine do all the goddamn work.

“MOVE DUMB ASSES!!” She screamed in her thoughts. The sheep in front of her, passively ascending, paid her no mind. “Why do we tolerate this?” she asked herself. “We could all be climbing to endless slaughter here and I doubt these fools would bat a fucking eyelash.”

She shifted uncomfortably from foot to foot and struggled to resist the urge to shove the people in front of her. This close to her breaking point, but she was finally nearing the top of the escalator. She could see people just a few steps in front of her stepping off. Then the people directly in front of her stepped off. Finally, it was her turn. She leapt off the escalator, racing towards the mall bathroom.

Entry #116

by Mandar S

25yrs. Without riding escalotor!


Hold on, let first tell you about the situation:

Name: Maddy

Gender: Male

Age: 25

Height: 5’2

Additional features: locomotion disability; can’t walk without leg braces and crutches in my shoulders. If this isn’t makes it hard, I’ve got escalaphobia: fear of climbing an escalators.

Today, me and my conscious decided to end this. Kathy was waiting at other end.

A 6yr old kid was enjoying the ride.

“Look it can’t be that hard, look at that KID” a voice inside my head (must be my conscious)

I went closer to escalator.

Steps were raising form ground. My hearth began pounding.

“This’ll good time to try ‘changing mental “constructs” and think positively’ method of your shrink ” my conscious. Loud and clear.

Took long breath. Lifted my crutches and put them on rising step. It was going up at steady pace.
“Have to act quickly” my conscious. Firmly.

I squeezed my eyes and leaned on my shoulders, lifted my legs, when put them down: a base was felt.

Small relief.

I slowly opened eyes.

Panic griped me.

Ground started to look far away.

Escalator’s steady pace, felt very slow. Few second passed.


I was sweating, holding tightly on crutches.

“POSITIVE THINKING” voice grew louder inside my head.

End was near.

Hearth was drumming. I was wet.

“POSITIVE THINKING, just couple of steps..” a tired voice.

Final step: I jumped off the escalator on to top floor.

I looked at Kathy, she was smiling.

Entry #115

I Was About Half Way Through
by Suren

The voices from below are quite audible. Though backed by different thought processes, the voices tried to convince me to stop moving ahead and come down. Some cited that it is not a normal practice to do things the way I was doing and discourage me, while others sounded caution by detailing the impending perils, if something goes wrong during the pursuit. Amongst these voices, I was able to see those handful of people who were behind me in this act and sporting appreciation in their faces.

This isn't the first time I am hearing such comments. Situations vary but the essence remains the same. Some see me as abnormal, some felt that I do risky things in life, to name a few. May be I am not averse to taking a risk and exploring things.

Suddenly I realized that I lost pace and decided to step up things failing which I risk going back to square one. Moments later I could see the top.

As I approached the top, I could see a host of people standing there and the grim and stern looks on their faces said it all. They also seemed to share the same view about what I had just done but nobody can now discourage me. I recollected how it all started with the challenge of a friend "can you climb to the next floor in a descending escalator?".

Entry #114

The Letter
by L’uragano

Stella walked into the empty house letting the backpack slide off her shoulder and slip onto the floor. Eventually, she would hang it on the coat rack, its proper “home,” to avoid upsetting her mom.

She went to fetch the mail, a chore she found somewhat fascinating, like history. “Mail is for old people,” Stella once told her mom. “Young people text or email. Even emails are kind’uv. . .tired,” she said.

She rapid-fire flipped through the bills, grocery circulars, charity pleas and then stopped so short a pizza postcard sliced her outer baby finger.

“Owww. Shit,” she spat out, proud of how the swear word rolled from her mouth strong, natural.

Stella stared at the generic envelope that bore her name--written in messy cursive. The writer penned a small star above the “a.” No return address. She ran to her bedroom and even though alone, she locked her door.

Minutes later, a scream ripped from Stella so raw, so piercing that every animal within several blocks raised their ears in alert.

Before the two cans of cheese ravioli—i.e. dinner—fell from the grocery bag onto the backpack and rolled onto the kitchen floor, Rina knew her house was empty.

“Stella? Stella!” Her pleas bounced off the walls as the rest of the bag’s contents tumbled from her arms.

Just then, across town, Stella let the escalator carry her up and up to a waiting train. A train leading somewhere. Where he was. Waiting.

Entry #113

The Co-Conspirator
by Susan Clarke

Hatred. Pure and Simple. Nothing else could describe Jonathan’s feeling towards Otis. Everyday as he patrolled the mall, he could feel Otis watching him; mocking him, laughing at him. Left to him, there would be no Otis. He could not understand why people did not feel the same way and blamed their adoration on their lazy habits.

His walkie-talkie crackled to life, “Come in Jonathan, there is a shoplifter making his way to the south exit from the Comet store. Suspect is about Five feet Eight inches tall and is wearing a green hooded parka with light blue jeans and...

Jonathan cursed under his breath as he dashed between shoppers, heading towards the south exit. He caught sight of the shoplifter at the precise moment the shoplifter saw him and changed direction. He was now headed for the Princes Road exit. Jonathan gave chase and saw him heading in Otis’s direction.

The man in the hood got on the escalator and raced up. Once at the top, he turned back to Jonathan and gave him the one finger salute before disappearing out of the doors and blending in with the crowd on Princes Road.

Frustrated, Jonathan looked at the treacherous escalator with its Otis sign pasted at the top and kicked it in anger. Otis had conspired against him once again. He felt the escalator’s mocking gaze follow him as he marched off to face his supervisor and knew that this time he was definitely going to get the sack.

Entry #112

In Blue
by John McAuley

Highway To Hell was too easy a title to use on the first bastard I killed. Tangled Up In Blue worked better. It's a Dylan tune. I like Bob Dylan. Some of his songs are about justice.

Second bastard I killed, I called him Blood On The Tracks. Yeah, A Dylan album. Albums are longer than songs-- and that son of a bitch had a long time to think before the train cut off the parts of him I hadn't already broken.

Third one was the hardest. Couldn't get him by himself. I tailed him to the mall and got behind him on the escalator. I tapped him on the shoulder, introduced myself when he turned around, then shot him in the face. But not before fear turned his lips gray.

I'm well known around town. Figured I was I.D.'d before anyone even looked at the mall camera video.

They'll probably send SWAT. And my partner too. I hope they can't find him. I hope he went out for a beer after he got off duty.

I look at the picture of my daughter, taken the day before those three got her. She'll never see seventeen.

She'll be forever young. Just like the song.

Cars are pulling into my driveway... I turn up the volume to Knockin' On Heavens Door and hope for the best...

Entry #111

by Richa Sharma

At an airport’s escalator..

Automatically rising up

Levels of floor.. or of my being? I am split into the real and its metaphor..

Have to be most careful when at start n finish, where to put the foot.. Like in everything we do?

Unaware of what lies on the top floor.. or my destination?

Looking around as I rise.. is always beautiful..

Thinking of climbing as I rise, but then think of being lazy and enjoy the ride.. Like I want to enjoy breathing..

Hands have to be loose enough to let the railing slide by.. and then my heart enjoys love..

Commotion on the ground, peace only on the escalator, peace in knowing your rising, peace in knowing I’l be in my flight in less time..

I get down a few stairs and smile, I am a kid, playing..

The phone rings, pulls an adult out of the kid, with a focus, reaching the top..

Games become intolerable.. responsible mind takes over a happy heart..

Hold on the luggage becomes firm, brain shoots out the flight number like a computer, I’m proud of..

Now as I place my foot rightly on the last concrete step.. I am there, part of the commotion increasing it pushing around..

I completely would have forgotten and this miniature of living a life, would have gone by un noticed..

Had I not participated in “Ascension”.. climbing up an escalator wont be the same again for me or the readers!!


Entry #110

The Reunion
by Rebecca Reid

“Hey, there’s Daddy!” She tugged my arm.

I saw his head first. His right arm rested on the railing, calm, waiting. No pressure, no anxiety.

I exhaled.

One foot before the other and he was before me. I tried to focus on his eyes, his face. I searched for words to speak.

“Hi.” His body leaned toward mine and I felt his kiss on my forehead. His arm grasped my shoulder and then he released me.


The child was chattering. And bouncing around us. His free arm rested on her shoulder. We walked. People bumped me as they passed.

I heard him speak. First to our girl. Then to a man near us as we reached for the suitcase.

We walked again. I stopped and zipped the girl’s coat, despite her protests. And then he was driving and she was babbling about princesses. I sat beside him.

A right turn. A stop sign. The highway. We were moving. He grasped my hand. He wouldn’t let go.

“I …” I couldn’t speak; I was dry. I had done my crying alone when I realized the baby was lost.

He glanced at me, and I saw his eyes were wet. He spoke, the corners of his mouth turned in a half-smile.

“I love you.”

The flood overwhelmed me as it had two nights before. But this time I was hopeful, for we could still go on.

Entry #109

by The Solitary Writer

It was 5:59 pm as I stared my watch. The diamonds on the dial sparkled as it struck 6.It was not the first time, I was waiting for her. She was my wife Nikita. Nikita was pregnant when I left her. She expected me to come back home, but I was blinded. But now I miss her and my daughter. I want them back.

Ketu may be one of the unluckiest souls on earth who had never seen her dad. I wanted to see Ketu.I called Nikita again to inform her that I was waiting for her, but no reply. I was waiting for her at the same place where I proposed her. It was near the escalator of a shopping mall that our lips locked for the first time with hundred souls watching us. Since then we never had time to interact due to our busy schedule. This was one reason why we broke up. I was happy as I was going to see my daughter for the first time. But maybe I wouldn’t be lucky enough as I believed that Nikita was still angry on me.

”Will she permit me to see my daughter Ketu”? , the question buzzed my ears.

I called Nikita once again as it was getting late. I almost left the place.

“Daddy wait,” a soft voice beheld me.It was 6:30 pm and I could see Nikita and Ketu on the escalator.

Entry #108

Zero Feeling
by Joie de vivre

There was no sign of sleep in her eyes, she tried to close them and found a horrible remark from the other end. Stella couldn't concentrate on anything, any activity of daily routine. It became difficult for her to figure out actually what was troubling her so much. Stella wasn't happy, and had no reason; a sign of nothingness was appearing. A feeling of zero was killing her mind-set inside, felt diseased and broken. It wasn't the virtual world it was something that was happening to her, some kind of virus or a psychological disorder of some kind.

She no longer interest left in making insurance policies and hence abandoned her office. She started reading books on different topics, watched movies some jazz and rock music just to evoke something or any damn thing. Stella went to see a doctor, but it was of no help. She admitted the same sensation after the treatment.

Gradually, her health declined and she was restricted to bed. In the last days of her life, Nick (her ex-husband) went to see her, kissed her gently and said, "Happiness is meant to be shared, in fact it's one of the best ways to explore yourself. You wanted to live alone and that's it you are alone. I have no idea till what time I would be able to see you here but I missed you in my life and I will."

Nick walked away through the elevator and Stella died the next day.

Entry #107

Resurrection Blue
by Scott Ennis

I see the Blue reflected in the rise
of interwoven memories of steel,
which carries me to places I despise,
yet guards me from the gravity I feel.
I wear the simple wrinkles of the Blue
as simply as the shadows I ignore.
When darkness frays, the light comes shining through
and drags itself across the rising floor.
Anticipation glides in noiseless dreams,
like deus ex machina, oiled well.
Ascension into heaven fades and seems
to only rise above the Blue of hell.
There’s no one left below, no turning back
to where the Blue has faded now to black.

Entry #106

The Struggle
by Margaret Sagri

"John, please, for our sake, don't give up"

John looked up, his heart heavy. Blank eyes stared into Peggy's pleading eyes. All life gone out of him, he felt drained, washed out. How on earth could he go on.

Was it really only two days since his world had been taken from under his feet? Until then he'd been a normal guy, husband and father, living a normal life, then...

He felt Peggy's hands on his shoulders, gently but firmly shaking him, her face close to his. He couldn't look at her. Gentle hands cupped his face. His eye's filled with tears, blurring his vision. He let the tears flow.

"John, look at me. It's going to be alright. We'll fight it together. We've been down before and we've always managed to rise up again. You, me and Sammy. We'll challenge it with every fibre in our bodies, with all our strength. We'll win John, believe me".

John slowly lifted his head, starred at this incredible woman. The love he felt for her at that moment caused his heart to overflow with affection and admiration. This strong being, who had been told that she's dying of incurable cancer.

John's glance fell on his beloved son, playing at his feet. Lifting Sammy he put his arm around his wife. This was his life and he wasn't going to lose it without a fight. He realized it was going to be a long, hard struggle, but they would get to the top.

Entry #105

The Lottery Winner
by Tiffany King

Ben leaned heavily on the handrail of the escalator as he rode to the second floor jewelry department. A woman’s voice crooned “Silver Bells” over the sound system, mixing with the hollow clang of the Salvation Army bell. The thought rushed into his mind that this could be his last Christmas.

He slammed his fist onto the handrail, causing the woman in front of him to jump. Why did he have to leave behind all his hopes and plans? How could he ask Karen to marry him when his future was so uncertain? All for some war half way around the world, which he didn’t even understand. When he watched the television broadcast of the draft lottery a few nights ago, he knew he would see his own birth date drawn out, but when it was the first date called he felt it like a blow to his chest. The air rushed out of his lungs and he hadn’t been able to fill them since.

Now he stepped off the escalator and found himself looking into a case of gold lockets. A heart shaped locket with filigree etched into the gold caught his eye. It would be something for Karen to remember him by. A morbid thought.

“May I help you?” a young woman asked.

Ben wavered a second before asking, “May I see the engagement rings?” He couldn’t leave for Vietnam without knowing Karen loved him enough to wait. Her promise would give him the will to survive.

Entry #104

Then the Piper Will Lead Us to Reason
by Jimmie Vee

I was meandering about midtown when I came upon a curious scene on the plaza at 53rd and 3rd. A sandwich sign there advertised in bold chalk,

Stairway to Heaven
Today Only

A bulldozer - watching the spectacle unfurl - sat off to one side idling at the ready. A crowd was gathered around an escalator on the sidewalk, the peak just visible from street level. Prompted by a fat man in an ominous red coat and beard, hundreds of people were offering their money and climbing up the unmoving stairs, each claiming a vacant step in turn. Once completely full, the fat man slung a velvet theatre rope across the first tread and released a lever that set the escalator in motion.

Upwards the people went in a steady stream, grinning with delight at one another. After about two seconds the first one fell onto the cement at the center of the plaza from above with a scream and a resounding thud. And then fell the next. As the escalator continued to rise they continued to fall in rhythm, each one arriving no less noisily on the growing heap below until the last landed and then the escalator was empty once again. The crowd stood transfixed as the bulldozer roared to life and began pushing the accumulated pile off to one side.

The fat man unchained the velvet rope once more, smiling devilishly. The waiting line already had reached around the corner. I put my dollar away.

Entry #103

I Am Not Shallow
by Mukta

See? I know I know I don’t picture that well…What? Look closer. Loser. The L.E.F.T corner… See me now?

Cool eh?! No my timing wasn’t off. It isn’t easy taking your own photo when you’re a shadow! And try using my moronic Steve!

Shallow? Me? You’re always crazy about winning Imprints contests, what’s up with that? I bet you weigh your human, probably force him to eat more so you can siphon off more power for the Imprints…

Am not shallow!

Zeihh. Sorry, ok, I take that back. Don’t tell mom, please?


I know. We’re not supposed to be vain. I do. I do respect our codes… No I didn’t mess with him-Promise.

It took all my concentration (and more; I sucked some of his) to get it together for a few precious seconds…

I was at it all morning, in the park. I almost got him to click twice. First time I got a bit confused, instead of moving his finger I ended up making him sneeze. Then, his mind mixed up the signals, he farted. Tricky stuff.

By the time I could focus again, he was back inside packing the camera. Had to do it then, he wasn’t going to remember that instinct to take a photo of his shadow any time soon after that.

So, here I am!

I just, I dunno. We just transcend when they die, you know and…it’s not fair. No one will ever know I was here. I wanted to capture me.

Entry #102

Thin Air
by Tysdaddy(The Cheek of God)

“Can we ride it again, Pappy?”

His expectant plea sounded a cavernous echo inside the hood of the woman’s teal Atmosuit. Through the tinted visor she gave the child a wink and then returned her gaze to the dawning horizon.

In the distance rose the Downtown dome, a bulbous skyline nestled like a skull in a desert plateau. The Helibus glided over smaller domes directly below, thriving hives of humanity dotting the shores of the arid Minnesota riverbed, once a verdant topography, now bathed in shades of honey gold by a mustard yellow sun.

The child gripped her hand tightly as they docked at the main entrance of the Mall of America and alighted upon a conveyor leading into the airlock bay. Quickly stowing their Atmosuits, they donned blue jeans and cotton sweatshirts smelling of manufactured lilacs and industrialized country breezes, then ran past the guard, bound for the escalator.

It rose before them, an ancient three-story staircase of motion and steel. Airlifts were the thing nowadays, but these relics remained, awaiting the arrival of those nostalgic for the days of old. On this floor children played with Legos, an homage to the creative spirit of their ancestors. At the top awaited Stadium 16 where classics such as The Sound of Music, or 3D, CGI nature retrospectives ran on the hour and visitors could witness a world uncluttered and alive, before the air turned thin.


She and the child turned their gaze downward and stepped slowly and deliberately aboard.

Entry #101

The Last Realization
by Amrita Bhatia

“Jack look out!”

He was running as fast as he could to save himself from another one of her bouts of aggression.

He woke up, sweat trickling down his forehead.

Why did he get the same dream every single night? For once he wanted a good night’s sleep.

As he groped around in the dark he toppled over his toys lying on the floor.

“What’s wrong Jack?? You alright??”

“I’m fine”

“You are sweating Jack; tell me did you get that dream again?”


“Everything’s going to be alright, don’t you worry”

He cuddled in his mothers’ arms, trying to get together the pieces of what seemed like a jigsaw puzzle.

“Tell me why mother? You know it, don’t you?” he said, tears streaming down his cheeks

She finally gave in, “It was a bad day Jack, and you were throwing one of your tantrums, running all around the house and you somehow managed to get out of the front door.

It all came back to him. He was running across the garden lawn, and before he knew it a car’s shrill horn rang through his ears. Then, it was darkness that engulfed him.

“I can see a bright light, mother” he could feel himself rising towards it, and he could see his mother crying and smiling at the same time.

“Now you know Jack, and that’s why I was here waiting for this day so you could finally rest in peace”

If only he had eaten the vegetables……

Entry #100

I Can’t Live Without You
by P Kunal

‘I will never come back’. A home of love and forgiveness turned into a graveyard of memory; it didn’t behave the old way. Two people madly in love have become complete strangers.

How long can a man live with a stranger? Not longer than a train journey.

His mind loathed strangers. He took a break from the journey to nowhere.

On the escalator, he looked up, his mind looked back. He heard from the crowd. ‘I can’t live without you’. An answer to a question he forgot to ask himself from the time she was declared a patient of amnesia.

‘I am sorry!’ His heart meant apology and love. He looked up. He felt as though he stood on a path to ascension, back into her arms.

He took a train back. He couldn’t avoid grinning at her beautiful smile. Good memories are bad news for Time.

He flung open the door. Her name filled the air.

He sensed her disappointment in the room upstairs.

His trembling hands creak opened the door.

Thud!!! He fell down.

Her beautiful eyes were popped out. Her tongue apologetically hung.

Many hours later, damp eyes took notice of a letter on the bed.

‘ Before I forget how much I love you, how much trouble and pain I cause you everyday, before I forget that you have left me, before you come back and stop me from doing it. My ascension can’t erase you from my heart. I know I can’t be without you’.

Entry #99

by C.A. Riddell

What is it with women and shopping? I'd rather be home, watching the game. But here I am, trekking round town. Behind her. Again.

Where to now? Who knows? Who cares?

Another revolving door. Another slow moving, metal ascent. So many feet. Arms and legs superfluous Except...

“Here, take these.”

Bags. Heavy bags. First floor, ladies lingerie. More conveyor belt culture...

Rising... Rising... Regret.

"Hey, watch it, Mister!" She shouts. I cringe.

Bullying me is one thing, but ...

So, Schwarzenegger's cousin elbowed her in the ribs. But, if she thinks I'm ....

Besides, the man's in a hurry.

Hey, isn't that..?

"Pete! I don't believe it.”


"You know this guy?" The wife sucks in her cheeks. Yellow, wrinkled apple, past its sell-by...


"Sure. Pete and I are mates."

A slapping of backs, a mutual grin, the wife grabs my plastic. She's off..

"What's happening, Pete? It's been a while. This is the last place I'd expect... “

“Well, Hal, I'm on the run.”

"You're kidding."

“No. In fact...”

He takes me to an exit, leading to a bridge. Police are down below. I hear a siren. Recall...

Breaking and entering, fraud... Pete was quite a lad, as I remember. I won't be an accessory, and yet...

“I can trust you, can't I, Hal? I recognise that shady look.

“Sure, Pete. Always could.”

“Well, see that pub over there? Don't tell the missus...”

I've gone.

Entry #98

Emotional Atyachaar
by Hiren

"Don’t ... I said Do NOT. Dare you step on the escalator!!!" shouted Karla at the top of her voice.

"Why are you doing this to me? You very well know that I have to get to her in time ... she ain’t going to wait for me even a minute after 9:30." I tried to plead with her while hopping on to the escalator.

"You have to make a choice today ... its her or me this time ... either you get down from the escalator or you don’t see me again..." she shouted beating her previous decibels record and ensuring that all nearby eyes gave me obtrusive glances.

"arggghhhhh .... GOD save this world from the emotional blackmail power of girls ..." I mumbled beneath my breath as I reached the first floor and got off the escalator only to take an about turn to the flight of stairs going down...

"Okay miss drama queen, happy now??" I teased her after sauntering down to the mezzanine floor where she was standing with a triumphant smirk on her otherwise innocent face.

"Darling, you are such a sweet heart!!!" she said restoring back her innocent smile.

"Anything for you dear; so which stupid hindi movie are we going for?" I mocked her again whilst thinking about the aftermath of missing the last Metra train to my town... 40 dollars cab fare to AMC, 50 dollars to drop her home, 100 dollars to reach my home :-(

Entry #97

Once Upon A Time
by Terry Day

“Seven,” he counted. One for each year of his private misery. Eyes closed this time, he imagined himself a brave knight, his shiny steed racing to the mountaintop where fiery dragon awaited him. Reality slapped him with a hard tumble at the top.

Eyes open, he adjusted his loosened lace, so it hung even lower, dangling like fresh bait over the snapping metal jaws; his last hope. Making his seventh descent, he breathed a long, sad sigh. He was no knight in shining armor. He, in fact, was the one who needed rescued.

“Cinderfella,” his friends taunted when, inevitably, he had to stay home to do chores and care for two younger half-brothers. Every bleak day seemed like the one before and the one after. In nightmares, he ate soggy Fruity O’s as the sky pelted him with mounds of dirty diapers. At thirteen, he realized no magic on Earth could save him from feeling worthless and alone.

Almost noon! He had time for one more try. He was hoping for at least a cast on his leg. Then, maybe someone would finally take care of him, for a change.

Too soon, his watch beeped twelve. He saw his mother beckoning, the two trolls by her side. Time for Cinderfella to leave the mall. He knew there would be another day, another opportunity. Reaching his mother, he smiled quietly. He knew the secret passed down the ages—One shoe can, indeed, change your life.

Entry #96

by Jana Andrews


“You heard me. It’s over.”

The clamor of the busy shoppers faded into the background as she was swept into this new reality with those few words.

“You prick,” she resolved through clenched teeth.

“Listen, I have my football career to think about now. It’s not every day a guy gets an opportunity like this. Besides, I’m not gonna be just another one of those teen parent statistics.”

“You are twenty.”

“Whatever. Just take one of those pills and be done with it already.”

“Should have thought of that six months ago, fool.” Hot tears rolled down her hardened jaw and splashed onto her swollen belly.

“Yeah, well, a guy’s gotta look out for himself.”

With that, Jackson turned and walked away. Stepping onto the escalator, he fixed his eyes forward in the ascent and smiled at his cleverness to end it in a crowded mall. No scene.

And then his body jolted forward at the top of the ride.

Jackson realized two truths in that moment: the escalator stopped, and the teeth of the step greedily gnawed at the hem of his jeans. He tried to disentangle himself by jerking his leg up, but his pants wouldn’t budge.

“Help!!” he screamed in panic.

Body flailing in all directions, Jackson felt something give, and then he fell forward, bare skin slapping onto the cold marble floor.

If only he had slipped on a pair of boxers – or anything – under his jeans that day.

Entry #95

by Yamini Murty

It seemed like an eternity, flying in the sky. His impatience was reaching the acme as he craved to breathe the fresh air of his homeland. He peeped outside the window thinking about his folks, desperately waiting to see them. He slipped into a Utopian fantasy imagining the wonderful times that were in store. Raj's face lit up as he heard the announcement. His lashes were wet with joy as he waited intently for the jet to land...

She tried to hold back the tears as she parked her car in the parking lot. She'd never felt so helpless in her life. She walked towards the foyer and wished that she'd disappear for a moment. She moved towards the escalator with all the strength she had.

Meera felt numb as the crowd rushed hurriedly towards the entrance. She realized that the flight had landed.

Raj walked towards the exit and scrutinized all the faces, trying to spot a known one. He eagerly waited for someone to rise up the escalator.

As the escalator moved up, Meera relived all the moments of terror, bloodshed and shock. The dead, wounded faces of Raj’s parents sent a chill through her spine.

She saw Raj walking towards her. She couldn’t hold back her tears as she saw him wave elatedly.

He held her close, pressing her cheeks with his wet ones. Tears were inexorable.

He looked deep in her eyes and she wondered what to say..

They cried together - for different reasons…

Entry #94

Early Morning Train Rush
by Tina M

The train reached its final station and everyone on both sides of the platform waited anxiously for the doors to open. For those on the outside, it's to get in and secure a seat, for us on the inside to just get to our next destination.

My watch told me that I have twenty minutes until my first class. If I get to the next train within five minutes, I can probably get to class on time. It's a close call, but I can make it.

There was a whoosh as the doors slid open, and I pushed my way out with the rest of the passengers. It frustrates me to no end that people can't understand that it would be easier if they let the people inside the train go out first before pushing their way in. Once I was free, I walked to the nearest escalator, stepped on it and waited for it to bring me to the top.

Other people from the train got on the escalator and past me, walking up the escalator like it's the stairs. I frowned slightly at their hurry; this is an escalator, not a set of stairs. Surely they can wait for it to bring us all up.

There was a tap on my shoulder. I turned and saw a guy, probably another student, standing behind me. I raised an eyebrow at him. He gave me a slightly embarrassed smile and pointed upwards.

"Miss, the escalator is broken."

Entry #93

Flight of the Grievous Angel
by David Cranmer

Sixteen years and life was over because of Heather Nicks...

We had been enemies since kindergarten when I had the upper-hand because of my intellect. In middle school, I learned a hard fact of life: boys preferred tits over brains and Heather’s double Ds stole Spoon away from me. With him went my self-confidence.

Daddy had given me money for the mall to take his “angel’s mind off boy troubles,” but, as the escalator rose carrying me to the second floor, my heart sank deeper.

There they were, smiling, coming toward me on the down escalator. Heather wrapped an arm around her trophy, grabbing his package in a signal of victory, and Spoon sheepishly lapped up the attention. My heart leapt back up into my throat, choking me.

When we were evenly matched, our eyes locked—Heather winked. A volcano of fury erupted in me.

I scaled over the handrails to the other side, descending into rage. Car keys extended, I plunged them into Spoon's neck and pulled them out in a swift motion. Blood gushed freely; the three of us tumbled to the bottom. I began wildly digging at Heather’s face with bare hands.


I’ve been in juvenile detention for a year now. Spoon survived, but he’ll think twice before crossing another girl. As for Heather, she will be reminded of me every time she looks in the mirror.

Sadly, Daddy thought he was helping that day, but instead, this grievous angel settled a score and took flight.

Entry #92

Dusk To Dawn
by Rajeswari(Scrawler)

With a broken heart and clouded eyes...
He walked through the shore...
where the lullabies of waves,
The gentle touch of breeze...
Assuage his tenebrous mind.

Lollingly he gazed.
Starry gestures of the
Sparkling stars sprinkled light
On his quiescent cheeks.
Lusture,fragrance and
Fondness of the nature
Soothened his eyes...
But not his obscure heart.

Slowly he opened the pages of life,
Unveiled the emotions of..
Love,hatred,anger and compassion
Wrapped beneath his mind.
The lost love and hopes,
Knitted and shattered dreams,
Smashed his tender heart.
The thorns of memories
haunted his mind ..
which made him bewail.

Upon hearing his wail
The waves made a pause!
The breeze stopped for a while!
Stars appeared as loom!
They heeded to the
threnody of his mind,
Saw his fluttered heart,
grasped his mystic ecstasy.

Azure starry sky,
Vast wavy sea and the breeze,
Resieged to cuddle him.
And he found solace and warmth
in their fondling.

Alluring nature
kept him in swoon
from dusk to dawn.
Caught cuckoo's tune
Felt the glow around.

He stood up and walked...
towards his sunny days ahead..

Entry #91

One Step
by Val Griswold-Ford

One step.

Just one. But I have to step alone for the first time.

I’ve never stepped alone – you’ve always been beside me, holding my hand, a devil-may-care grin lighting our way, putting the fluorescent lights above us to shame. Now all I have is the uncaring glow of inanimate bulbs and my way is shadowed, dim, cold.

My hand reaches out automatically, as always, and a painful spasm cramps my knuckles as I grasp nothing but air. My eyes blur – a single tear wets my cheek. Even my sorrow is singular now.

Once again, I look up, look forward, but all I see are stairs mounting into an unknowable future. No one stops to help me; I may as well be invisible, immobile, a vase or a rock, unmoving and unnoticed.

And then, as I hesitate, something warm wraps around me, a quick breath that wipes the tear from my skin and kisses my lips. The same kind of fleeting kiss you always gave when I faltered, when you had to turn back to help me.

“One step,” the breeze whispers in my ear. “One step towards me. You can do it.”

One step. I shift my weight, ready to move.

After all, you won’t wait forever.