Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Winners Announcement - "Elemental"

Whoa. I really don't remember such a high percentage of Forties Club inductees in a contest! I also don't remember so many super high scores. I think that overall, this contest had the STRONGEST WRITING of my (now) fourteen contests!! EVERYONE has reason to feel proud.

Also, we have a first. We have a tie for Readers' Choice Award!! I know, you say, well, use some method as a tie-breaker.... So, Aine and I moved to the next statistic, and guess what? Tie again! I feel that the only fair solution is to double the award prize money. So there.

The folks I'm about to recognize coupled great writing with a super creative idea and/or amazingly effective delivery. Great respect and congratulations to them!

(Drum roll please). Now, without further ado, I would like to recognize the following writers:


1st Place--DARBY KRENSHAW, RIF (#48) [Prize: $50 Amazon gift certificate]

2nd Place--LOREN EATON, Golem (#26) [Prize: $35 Amazon gift certificate]

3rd Place--PETER DAVIDSON, The Wall (#86) [Prize: $30 Amazon gift certificate]

4th Place--JANA ANDREWS, Voices (#21) [Prize: $25 Amazon gift certificate]

5th Place--CRAIG SCOTT, Consequences (#7) [Prize: $20 Amazon gift certificate]

(In order of entry number)

Honorable Mention--JOSH VOGT, Outside the Lines (#15)

Honorable Mention--PEGGY McFARLAND, Not Today (#40)

Honorable Mention--JAMES R. TOMLINSON, The Day I Helped Günter Rhodes Find His Way, I Found Myself (#46)

Honorable Mention--ROCKY WING, Weightier Things (#49)

Honorable Mention--SONBERG C. LARSON, Samsara (#55)

Honorable Mention--C. JOOS, Publish or Perish (#66)

Honorable Mention--SIMON KEWIN, I Saw Hearts But You Saw Skulls (#77)

Honorable Mention--WENDY RUSS, The True Story of How Casey Tilson Became a Vegan (#89)

Honorable Mention--GUILIE CASTILLO-ORIARD, Mercury Charms (#97)

Honorable Mention--HILARY ROBERTSHAW, On the Breeze (#101)


Readers' Choice--AERIN ROSE, The Fire Blessing (#70) [Prize: $40 Amazon gift certificate]

Readers' Choice--LOREN EATON, Golem (#26) [Prize: $40 Amazon gift certificate]


Again, a tough, tough competition.

Just how successful was it? Your 102 entries have generated 28,531 hits, and 10,228 visitors!

Escoring at least 40 out of 45 in my scoring system are inducted into The Forties Club. In my judgment, these writers have done their job excellently. Their strong, skilled writing brought their stories to life. Asterisks have been added to those names in the contest index who are inducted into the Forties Club.

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. Link to each other and give your insights and gifts freely. If you'd like, I will definitely trade links and visit you on your own blogs.

Lastly, I will be adding a brief comment to each entry saying what I liked best about the story.


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.

After I finish posting my comments, The Clarity of Night will be returning to normal content.

Feel free to contact me anytime. You will always find a welcoming place here.

"Elemental" Short Fiction Contest


Click HERE for Contest Rules and Announcement

Click HERE for the Winners Announcement

*Aerin Rose, The Fire Blessing (#70) READERS' CHOICE
*Allinotte, Chris, After (#65)
*Ainsworth, M.G., Revenge of the Jellybeans (#36)
*Andrews, Jana, Voices (#21) 4TH PLACE
Arens, Andrew, False Exit (#95)
Artstein, Rachel, Surviving (#38)
*Barron, Lee A., Emblazoned (#14)
*Barton, Cath, Mine, All Mine (#6)
*Bergstresser, Ellis, Gravida (#59)
*Biswas, D., No One Would Catch Fire (#90)
Blackwater, Jade Leone, Solarrivum (#12)
*Bhatia, Amrita, Art-Ache (#4)
*Bury, Col, Till Death Do Us Part (#82)
*Castillo-Oriard, Guilie, Mercury Charms (#97) HONORABLE MENTION
*Choco, Won't You Come? (#51)
*Conor, Kilian, The Answer (#3)
*Cormier, Sandra, The Palace (#60)
*CW, The Gaze (#35)
*Davidson, Peter, The Wall (#86) 3RD PLACE
*Dhanke, Prashant, Demon (#85)
Diwakar, Manasi, Benedictio in Operto (#100)
*Domingo, J., The Crossing (#56)
Dudley, Peter, Shadows On Concrete (#50)
*Eaton, Loren, Golem (#26) 2ND PLACE & READERS' CHOICE
*Ellis, Susan, Reconciliation (#27)
Evans, Jason, Re-Creation YOUR HOST
*Fox, Gef, Dante's Descent (#42)
*Four Dinners, Bastet (#47)
Frasier, Anne (Theresa Weir), Blood Moon GUEST WRITER
*Friz, Aidan, Antimatter Roses (#80)
*Gillian, Claire, The Karmic Mobius (#29)
*Green, Lisa Gail, The Road To Hell (#18)
Greenberg, KJ Hannah, Elementary (#5)
*Haws, Joni, All We Are (#23)
*Hickman, Michelle, Parting Ways (#11)
Hina, Sarah, The Prime Mover GUEST WRITER
*JaneyV, Instinct (#83)
*Job, Rebecca, The Five (#16)
*Joos, C., Publish or Perish (#66) HONORABLE MENTION
*Joyce, Thomas, Don’t Play With Me... (#78)
Kansas Bob, The Day My Heart Went Nova (#22)
*Kewin, Simon, I Saw Hearts But You Saw Skulls (#77) HONORABLE MENTION
*Krenshaw, Darby, RIF (#48) 1ST PLACE
*Krunal, Comfortably Cold (#32)
*Kunjal, The Last Shot (#8)
*Laine, Aimee, Twisted Fairytale (#2)
*Langridge, Gina, The Right Choice (#9)
Lapham, Bill, An Innocent Sun (#13)
*Larson, C. Sonberg, Samsara (#55) HONORABLE MENTION
*Levangie, Richard, Bait (#75)
*Liadis, Paul, It’s Getting Hot In Here (#39)
MacArthur, Jodi, Der Morgenstern (#54)
*McFarland, Peggy, Not Today (#40) HONORABLE MENTION
Mitchell, Christopher, Shed (#67)
*Morse, Michael, The Ball (#53)
*Mukherjee, Mithun, Revelation (#72)
Mullen, Wills, The Seventh Bowl (#25)
Murty, Yamini, Cheating Death (#69)
*Mystico, A Study in Scarlet (#73)
Nagel, B., Flame, At a Distance, Over Water (#94)
O'Connor, Brigid, Muslin-Shrouded Boy (#93)
*Odhner, Melanie, Don’t Touch the Fire (#20)
Parrish, Stephen, Seven Stories GUEST WRITER
Pelle, Adina, Deviation of Time and Space (#19)
Phatichar, Red Herring? (#92)
*Precie, Oleander (#24)
Proctor, Elizabeth, Exit (#98)
Quin, Matthew, Aspire (#45)
Ranganathan, Sivasankari, I Obsess You (#99)
*Robertshaw, Hilary, On the Breeze (#101) HONORABLE MENTION
Rohan, Graduation Day (#68)
*Rosser, J. Ryan, Deliverance (#81)
Roush, Bruce, Sanziene (#57)
*Russ, Wendy, The True Story of How Casey Tilson Became a Vegan (#89) HONORABLE MENTION
*Ryan-Harper, Linda, Georgia Finds Nirvana (#71)
Sagri, Margaret, The Command from Above (#52)
*Salas, Alexander, The Mark (#76)
Scheer, Wayne, Seeing the Light (#31)
*Scott, Apple Ardent, Nanosecond (#64)
*Scott, Craig, Consequences (#7) 5TH PLACE
Sheila, Annabel, Destiny (#10)
Simpson, Scott, The Fire (#74)
*Smith, Rita L., Shadow and Light (#17)
*Smythe, Debbie, Heart of God (#91)
Solender, Michael J., Troubled Mind (#84)
Speedwing, L.A., The Calling (#96)
*Swafford, Bethany, Fever (#44)
SzélsőFa, Light (#33)
Tan, Francis, Your Mother (#88)
*Tanay, Karla, Heart Breaker, Life Taker (#58)
Taylor, Dottie, Soul Survivor (#61)
Thakkar, Aniket, Quest (#43)
*Thurston, Jay R., Big Bang (#79)
*Tomlinson, Katherine, The Singularity of Orlando T. Baker (#1)
*Tomlinson, James R., The Day I Helped Günter Rhodes Find His Way, I Found Myself (#46) HONORABLE MENTION
*Trexler, Roger Dale, The Burn (#63)
Vibert, Catherine, Hope Unplugged (#28)
*Vogt, Josh, Outside the Lines (#15) HONORABLE MENTION
*Wade, Phil, Wilruf the Plunderer (#62)
*Wavemancali, H E Double Hockey Sticks (#34)
*Watters, Charlene, Death Day (#37)
Whittle, Margaret D., The Queues (87)
*Wilson, Juliet, Escape the Burning Earth (#102)
*Wing, Rocky, Weightier Things (#49) HONORABLE MENTION
*Zobair, J.A., The Ugly American’s Guide to the Care and Feeding of Mothers (#30)
*Zugnoni, Michele N., Blank Canvas (#41)

(*Denotes Forties Club entries: those scoring at least 40 out of 45.)

Monday, July 25, 2011

That's It, Voting is Now Closed!!

What a blazing contest! Thanks everyone!! The entries are superb, the commenting and community building are stellar...what more could we ask for??

Oh, right.

The results.

I have a final group to score and judge, so I'm going to commit to posting results some time on Wednesday. If I hit a snag and need a little more time, I'll let you know.

For those new to my contests, I will announce the placements of First through Fifth and the Readers' Choice Award winner. I will also name a number of honorable mentions. Finally, I will list this contest's inductees into the Forties Club. Those are the entries that scored at least 40 out of 45 in my scoring system (flip back to the contest announcement if you have no idea what's I'm talking about).

Now, while we're waiting, can anyone guess what the contest photo really is??

More Fun and Readers' Choice Voting!

The entry period for the "Elemental" Contest is now closed. I will be posting final entries as soon as I can get them up. But the fun is not over!

First, we will be having three heavy-hitting guest writers share their visions of the contest photo and join the excitement. Also, in keeping with Clarity contest tradition, I will share mine. (I may even challenge you to identify just what the heck the contest photo is!) But the REAL fun of this time is Readers' Choice voting. Keep reading!

Voting for the Readers' Choice Award is now open.

This portion of the contest is open to everyone who entered. Here are the rules:

  1. Contest participants are invited to vote for their top 5 favorite entries by emailing their votes to jevanswriter at yahoo dot com.
  2. Please identify yourself 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. If you submit fewer than 5 votes, I'll award the least number of votes possible for each choice (for example, if you vote for only 2 entries, I'll award 2 and 1 points, respectively).
  4. You may not vote for your own entry.
  5. At the close of Readers' Choice Award voting, Aine will tally the points. The winner will be the entry with the most points.
  6. I reserve the right to award additional Readers' Choice Awards with or without prizes.

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, please visit their blogs or ask where you can find more. Enjoy your own judging, and above all, have fun!

Cast your votes before Monday, July 25th, at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time (U.S.). At that time, I will let you know when the winners will be announced.

Stay tuned for the guest writers over the next couple of days!!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Host Story: Re-Creation

by Jason Evans

"You've returned."


"It has been long."


"And the spark from the hands of the creator shall raise the pillars of the world."

"I remember the words. And I did raise the world."

"But then you slept."

"I've awakened."

"Yes, I thought I felt a change in the world. What have you done?"

"First, I sought the heart of the oceans. I dove inside the woman of the waters."

"Ah! She taught you tides and the reach of mighty Tsunami. She taught you the cycles and the flows of the world."

"I drowned her in her waters."

"I see."

"Then, I soared to the palace of sky and called to the man of winds."

"Ah! He taught you the movements of the unseen and the invisible strength of air."

"I held him still. And his movements left him."

"I see."

"Then, I sought for the firmament of earth. But I found it to be nothing but the curve of your hands."

"True. The creator is the foundation. That upon which all else is built."

"So I last sought the cleansing hunger of fire."

"Did you learn to quench her?"

"No. And creation shall kindle the fire that will one day burn away the world."

"I remember the words."

"Fire is mine. It has always been mine."

"Creation always was equal parts destruction. You hold the fire in your hands?"

"Are you ready father?"

"No, a thing can never fully contemplate its own end."

"Are you ready?"

"Open them."

Friday, July 22, 2011

Guest Writer - Theresa Weir (aka Anne Frasier)

So, our final guest writer is a widely published author under both her real name, Theresa Weir, and her thriller/horror/mystery pen name, Anne Frasier. When I was new to blogging back in 2005, I happened upon Anne's blog, Monkey with a Pen. That day, she happened to be featuring some spooky old medical equipment on a post, and I thought, damn, there's a kindred spirit (I'm fascinated, in a creeped out way, by old medical equipment).

I feel like we shared some of the glory days of blogging and have maintained a friendship ever since. I'll let her say something about her current projects, but I have to say, as if being a best selling author wasn't enough, her upcoming memoir, The Orchard, has stirred up a ton of excitement in the publishing industry. It's going to be a major release, my friends.


Jason, does time ever fly! I still remember what a blast it was to co-host one of your contests back in (oh Jesus) 2006. That featured my novel Pale Immortal. You had a cool picture of a moonlight sky.

Blogs were the cool place to be in those days, and I remember the contest was (and still is) an exciting place to be. Fast forward to now, and I have two books coming out in September. Of course, the first, Deadly Treats involves you! It was really a blast to put together a Halloween anthology. The guest list includes so many fantastic writers (Jason Evans!). The Orchard is also being released at the same time. I'm going to have a busy fall!

Thanks so much for letting me guest write again. I know I was drawn into the contest fun on more than one occassion. ;)


Blood Moon
by Anne Frasier/Theresa Weir

I was born under a blood moon. At least that’s what my grammie always tells me.

“Girl, you came shootin’ out like you couldn’t wait to start raisin’ hell,” is what she says. And then her face darkens and she reaches for the bottle.

It ain’t easy knowing your birth killed your own ma. And not a day goes by but Gram doesn’t remind me that I’m a murderer. And not a day goes by that I don’t wish I could turn back the clock and be unborn. But it don’t work that way, and when the townspeople come to the swamp to have their fortunes told, I cling to their soft, perfumed hands longer than I should because I want to feel something besides my life with Gram. And even if I sense bad things, I don’t tell the customers. I look for the positive and happy. I want to see their shoulders relax in relief. I want to see them smile. And it don’t hurt that they tip more for good news.

Once they leave, I take the money to Gram and she puts it in a jar and we sit down by the bed, one on each side. And just like we’ve done for the past sixteen years, Gram rubs olive oil on my mother’s leathery arms and legs while I brush our dead darling’s hair, lightly, barely touching so I won’t do any more damage.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Guest Writer - Stephen Parrish

Our second gracious author to join us is Stephen Parrish.

It's hard for me to describe, but Stephen is a kind of anchor to an entire sphere of the writing community. But in a quiet, unassuming way. I think it has something to do with his very grounded and honest nature. That mixed a vulnerability that he's not afraid to show.

I invited Stephen to co-host my last contest to celebrate the release of his debut novel, The Tavernier Stones. Again, if you haven't read it, get to it! One of the most striking things about it is that it doesn't pander to the superficial conventions of thrillers. Although it's packed with action, it really wrestles with important questions of the human spirit. It has a rich depth and intelligence to it.

I now give the floor to Stephen himself. I think he shows why he's the anchor that he is.


My Better Half

I want to thank Jason for giving me yet another opportunity to quake with fear as I expose my writing skills before such a talented group. Flash fiction is indeed the vehicle for exposing them---or for revealing their absence. It's uncanny how a 250 word limit can make a writer feel so naked.

But as he and others like to remind us, writing a piece for the contest is only half the experience. The other half, arguably the more valuable half, is participating in the Clarity of Night community: the sharing, the networking, the support. My writing friends, some of whom I met here, help me at every stage, from conceiving an idea to landing a review. Some locate my book in the stores and either turn it face-out or surreptitiously ferry it to a spotlight table. Some even buy it. They take care of me.

They're my community. Without them I'm only half a writer.

It means, though, that I must spend a significant part of my time helping them in return, and often in advance. You know the old saying, "Ask not what your critique partner can do for you . . ."

To the newcomers here, to any aspiring writers who feel isolated, the rule of thumb---that you get out of your community what you put into it---isn't really true. In writing communities such as this one, you get a lot more.


Seven Stories
by Stephen Parrish

It wasn't the man's choice to jump that struck Stephanie as odd. It was the way he did it; that he seemed to be trying to swim. She watched from across the street as he stepped onto the ledge of a seventh story hotel window, raised his arms, pressed his palms together. And leapt. He flailed and kicked fruitlessly in a calm but unmerciful sea of air.

For an instant it looked as if his strokes might support him. Then he plunged, dog-paddling, to the deck of the pool below. He broke the wooden planks of the deck and one or two pieces of outdoor furniture and most of the bones in his body, which would never leap or swim or plunge or do anything, ever, again.

The next day Stephanie climbed to the seventh floor of the hotel, found the room, ducked under the crime scene tape, and went to the window, where the screen, pushed out to make room for a hasty exit, still jutted foolishly into indifferent space. She looked down.

The soft cobalt blue of the swimming pool swirled into a cadmium vortex, an alluring crucible, a womb. It was what the man had seen, what they all saw when they willingly climbed seven stories.

"Don't wait for me," she said to no one in particular. No one heard her. Not the crucible, nor the dandelions she'd picked as a little girl, nor the lightning bugs she'd captured in jars. "I never learned to swim."

(One of the contestants has graciously acknowledged me for critiquing her entry, and I'd like to continue---and encourage---the tradition: Thank you Aerin Bender-Stone and Wendy Russ.)

Guest Writer - Sarah Hina

Our first of three guest writers to show us how it is done is Sarah Hina.

Sarah is a First Place and Readers' Choice Award winner of Clarity contests. She is the debut author of Plum Blossoms in Paris. As Publishers Weekly astutely recognizes (as if there were any question), Sarah's style weaves "a fantastical quality to the dreamer's idyll of a romantic tryst with an artistic Frenchman in Paris." If you haven't read it, do it. I gave you the link and everything.

So I now give Sarah the floor. She wanted to share some thoughts on what kind of people writers are and why opportunities like this one to come together and challenge ourselves are important.


Writers show up.

Quietly and faithfully, without bellyaching or grandstanding, they grab a pen or a laptop, and invite doubt and vulnerability into their lives. Day after day, with an obstinacy that defies financial reward or mercurial praise. And over the years, what begins as a bit of a gamble is honed into nothing less than the assertion of a human will and soul.

So that maybe, on the fortune-kissed days, the words grow so pliant that they follow us into our dreams at night, only to fall like rain from our fingertips at dawn.

These happen to be the days in which I feel the most alive.

Jason Evans makes people want to show up. A Clarity of Night contest is both the wind in a beginner’s sails and a proving ground for veterans. I started blogging because of these contests. They coax art and economy from every writer, and they have had a lasting impact on my writing.

I know “Elemental” will do the same for many of you.

Thank you for being here and for all your incredible stories. And thank you to our talented host for working so hard to make this a trusted, supportive venue.


The Prime Mover
by Sarah Hina

To the fetus, the heartbeat was time, a lullaby, the low and high tides. A nuclear furnace, the lungs of the stars.

“She likes chocolate best. Starts squirming like a fish if I so much as look at it.”

Suspended in her soup, the words didn’t catch. But she knew the voice, disguised as waves, and the voice was God’s.

“So Mama would call you ‘Snickers.’ And my vote’s for ‘Alice.’ What say you, Pumpkin?”

This voice belonged to the Other; it tickled to the bone.

“We ain’t exactly Wonderland, Jimmy.”

“She kicked! Did you feel that, Gracie? She knows her daddy already!”

Her cheek turned toward the warmth. The heartbeat flared.

“All right. You got what you wanted. Now off to work with you.”

“This shift’ll be the death of me.”

“Yeah? Try pregnancy sometime."

An elbow jerked at the door’s hard close.

“Hush, you.”

The heartbeat was a piston, churning with acid. She stuck out her tongue, lapping up the last of the sweetness.

“Fuck, fuck, fuck. Pick. Up. Please, God. Pick up.”

Like a fist around a shell, the walls squeezed down again. Fewer heartbeats separated this cycle from the last.

“Clay. You there? I don't know what to—she’s coming, you hear? He thinks I’m only eight months, but it’s well past nine and—nine, Clay. Do you hear what I’m telling you?”

The eyes opened.

The heartbeat grew faint under the bowel’s whale song.

At the surface, a scar of light glimmered. The child blinked.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Entry #102

Escape the Burning Earth
by Juliet Wilson

The earth was burning, horizon to horizon.

Jessica held out her hand to shield her eyes from the glare. She was one of the lucky ones who had won a place on the last spaceship to leave earth. Well, they were lucky to escape but had nowhere yet to go. The spaceship dipped down for yet another orbit, drawn like a moth to the flames.

Jessica was bored. She had read all the books she had brought with her. She had stopped keeping her journal. Conversation with the others in the spaceship had ground to a halt. What was there to say? The earth was a ball of fire. Space was vast and empty. The future was unknown and hopeless.

Then she looked out of the window. She rubbed her eyes in disbelief.

“Look!” she said to Tracey, who was sitting beside her. “What's that?”

Tracey looked to where Jessica pointed. Two red phoenixes were flying from the earth, carrying a glowing ball of matter.

“It's a new baby earth!” said Tracey. “That could be our new home!”

She and Jessica smiled at each other. Soon they were surrounded by everyone else on the ship. There was a ripple of excitement. A champagne cork popped discreetly.

Outside the glowing ball grew larger between the phoenixes.

Entry #101

On the Breeze
by Hilary Robertshaw

The wind whipped at their clothes as they sat on the bench looking out to sea. Her hands clasped in her lap told of a distance between them. He watched her profile, fascinated by the pulse in her neck. He wanted to touch it, to press his lips against it and feel the life force within her.
“I want to make love with you.” Her voice a whisper. He willed her to look at him but her gaze was firmly fixed on the setting sun.
“You can't want that.”
She bit her lip and he thought she was going to cry. “But I do.”
She turned to him the full force of her desire written on her face. He looked back until he could stand the torture no longer then he closed his eyes against her.

The memories flooded back, furtive hand holding, stolen moments in the back of his car, secret lunches, then the final consummation on white sheets, the sea breeze, this sea breeze, toying with the curtains and cooling their bodies.
“We got our fingers burnt so badly,” he said lifting her hand and lacing their fingers together. Her other hand touched his face making him return his gaze to hers.
“It's different now. We kept our promises, we denied each other but we're free now.”
“But so very old.” A smile sparkled in her eyes. Forty years had been kind to him.
“Yes, my love, but we're not dead yet.”

Entry #100

Benedictio in Operto
by Manasi Diwakar

“Part Passion, Part symbol” Jane interpreted.

“How do you mean it?” Mia wanted to know.

“That hand it symbolizes brand, his brand.”

“Could be. I bet it’s one of his many moods, this one’s incandescent obsession.”

“..And his colossal control over himself. You can’t see it unless he wants you to”

“…And you have seen it all?” Mia smiled.

“Aye, he’s good” Jane snorted.
The kid on her hip became fussy “Mamma, I can draw this. But I got small hands. I make a small one, in pink and white. ”

At a distance, Shane rolled his tongue over his teeth recalling that kiss gone wild. Her creamy skin wrapped around him & her feline bites nipping at his restrain, which had left him gasping for completion. With the final stroke he had stamped accidently on the wet watercolor, to hold them both from falling. He winced inwardly at exiguity of his control when it came to Mia, his bully pulpit.

He’d like to believe his work was good and adulterating it with pleasure once in a while was turning out to be a bonus. He mused at the dexterous perceptions his Elemental was receiving, he loved his admirers for that. Cerebration can be humorous to someone with time to enjoy it and his profession allowed him some.

He loved kids, innocent-playful types. But the smart-pesky ones, he loved them more! Twirling his sour grapes, squaring his shoulders he dived into the crowd.

Entry #99

I Obsess You
by Sivasankari Ranganathan

The crazy mind,
Has a mind of its own,
It's on its way,
to an enchanting pathway,
Devoid of instructions.

The darkness is bewitching,
I can neither stop myself,
From drowning further,
Nor allow my mind to be engulfed,
By the bewitching darkness.

As i step in deeper,
My heart flutters,
And beats crazy,
Forcing a breath after the other.

The charmed eyes,
Is hungry for more,
It looks for your charm,
Through the colossal web.

All this noise around us,
Makes me wish i had your hand in mine,
Ignoring all the delirium around us,
With the haunting melody you make.

My feet taps,
When you sing,
My desire heightens,
When i catch your bewitched tunes.

My lips quiver at your mention,
The intemperance is bewildering.

I sometimes wish,
Silence was as bewitching as the darkness.

This bewitched mind is on its way to you,
In the bewitched darkness.

Entry #98

by Elizabeth Proctor

There are things I don’t want illuminated. Rifts I don’t want reopened. This is too much for me to think about and seeing it racing toward me, demanding I look at it—well, it makes me want to run away. Sometimes, that is the best choice, running away and NOT facing it. But this thing burns, reminding me that it will never really go away.

Can I really escape its grasp? Avoid going through the rift and dealing with what is on the other side? Can I just say “NO”?

Sometimes life hands me things that are well beyond my ability to handle and I can only do my best to NOT handle them. But they keep coming back, more fiery and painful than before. They stare me down, each time like an open rift--a baleful eye--daring me to say “no” yet again.

It flares up in my dreams, flashes in my windshield causing a blind spot, blinks in the corners of my consciousness—not quite clear, but always there; always mocking my attempts to get rid of it, pretending it isn’t there.

Sometimes, I wonder what would happen if I DID let it catch up to me. Would I shine as it does? Would I become as baleful as it appears to be? Or would I burn up with the knowledge that I really am NOT able to deal with it? I must decide if I will let it will catch me. I only have one week.

Entry #97

Mercury Charms
by Guilie Castillo-Oriard

“… And, be angered, puffs away from this, turning his back on the dew-dropping sun.”

The applause was thunderous. Mercutio was James’s favorite, Shakespeare’s masterpiece of wit, careless bravery, and utter disdain for convention. James sauntered through the theater after-party as if the sword was still strapped to his waist, as if he wore tights and puffed sleeves instead of slacks and shirt of purple satin.

He abandoned the pretty thing, starstruck at his panache and the credits he’d shamelessly dropped, and went in search of drinks. Women bored him; they had nothing to say. People in general bored him, actually.

At the bar he saw him. He was surrounded by enthralled listeners, the women arching their backs, the men posturing, striving for camaraderie. He wasn’t familiar; must be a newcomer.

James approached the circle, taking as his due the parting of the crowd, until he stood at the stranger’s elbow. His studied boredom faltered, then evaporated; the voice of the stranger was compelling, his gestures hypnotizing. A sun among lightless planets spinning senselessly. James could not stay away.

“Why are you following me?”

They were in the mens’ room. James lowered his eyes to the lather on his hands.

“Hey. I’m talking to you. Stop following me, creep.”

James was fast; he was at the door first, and the stranger’s look of annoyance melted into confusion then something else as he saw the thin blade in James’s hand.

Never turn your back, not on the dew-dropping sun.

Entry #96

The Calling
by L.A Speedwing

She walks on the asphalt. Hard, hot, black.
People stares.
Toward the blond sand. Grainy. Soft. Lukewarm. Malleable.
It is better.
She smiles.
Towards the sea. Blue. Fluid. Cool.
People still stares.
She is naked after all.
She enters his realm.
He is lifting her up at long last.
He surrounds her. Caresses her. Every inch of her body. Then holds her still just for a moment.
A low groan comes from his throat.
Then he pushes her away.
Then pulls her in.
He plays.
She knows.
Come, he begs. Are you with me YET?
She breathes in. Her pores, her eyes, her lungs slowly fill with the fluid.
Her body exults. Her chest begins to expand. The fog in her mind clears.
She explodes outward.
I am now.
My love.

The Deep once more.

(L.A Speedwing runs a blog where she writes about Arts to provide a relief to her overheated brain otherwise busy writing a fantasy novel for young adults. The book is altogether proving to be stubborn and won’t finish itself. Still, she is determined to win this battle.)

Entry #95

False Exit
by Andrew Arens

She woke up gasping for air. Something was covering her face, not letting her breathe. The cold sounds of machines filled the room. She clawed at the thing on her face and flung it off.

The room was the size of a high school gymnasium filled with rows of stainless steel tables. Most were empty but some had crumpled sheets lying in the middle of them. The translucent walls were lined by large nondescript machines covered in blinking lights. She looked down and saw the dirty leather straps securing her legs to the table she laid on.

She released her feet and stood, wrapping the sheet around her body. The ice cold floor burned her bare feet. She ran towards a door she spotted on the far wall, crying out when her hip hit one of the sharp metal corners of a table. She searched the door for a handle or a knob with her hands. A shout filtered through beneath the door and she pounded with both hands screaming. Finally she noticed a green button in the wall, slightly behind one of the machines.

As soon as the button pushed in, the room behind the door turned blood red and a hand pressed against the wall. And then another hand could be seen through the wall, and another. The door swung open and she realized in terror as the hands reached out this wasn’t an exit but the entrance to something much worse.

Entry #94

Flame, At a Distance, Over Water
by B. Nagel

I’m on my back step, having a last pipe with the pigs, watching the sun fall into the bay. Inside, my Kay is packing her pipe to join us. Everything settled and domestic since I hung straight-edged Kantir above the door. The sun on the water flickers like flame and reminds me of Saychal and Harris-blades. That was an ugly campaign.

A boy on the main island stirring up the natives. Says he knows a passage away from the empire. That kind usually comes to a bad end of themselves.

This boy though. He was the pure penny. Committed. Something had to be done.

As a soldier, I did the needful myself.

As a man, I watched in shock while my men overran the island, using the newest weaponry to chew through ‘hostiles’. Everything dragged into the ocean: men, women, children, pets and lumber. We salted the ground, then set the grass on fire. As we sailed away in the night, the flames shot high with flashes of blue and green.

I sank the weapons in our wake. Such power doesn’t belong in the hands of angry men. I deserted. Then I met Kay. Together, we bought a piece of poor land with a view.

The sound of the Harris-blade scatters the pigs. The sching and grind pulls out the foundations from the earth and rivulets of pain course through my ears and back along my spine.

Kay leans close to whisper, “He was my little brother.”

Entry #93

Muslin-Shrouded Boy
by Brigid O'Connor

Past a moor, north as the crow flies, you will find an old ruin crumbling into decay, windows long gone.

At sunset, people of a certain temperament feel drawn towards the ruin which lies beneath the bleeding sun. Their hands reach towards it, they seek heat to warm their bones.

Here is where lies their folly, heat has centuries ago leaked from this ivy covered ruin, all that's left now is the unrelenting cold of the otherworld. Those brave enough to feel the chill of the time after the flat line of life echoes no more, enter through the doors.

If you stand still in the great hall close to dusk, you will see the muslin-shrouded image of a boy aged seventeen.

Look closely if you dare and see the blonde lock of hair sweep over his black eyelashed, sapphire blue, eyes.

By his side a girl of maybe sixteen holds his ghostly hand, black ringlets cascade down her back.

She leans into him, always.

He was rumoured to be a fine soldier, but not brave enough to defy the generations of his family who had chosen his bride.

On the eve of his wedding he used his favourite sword to remove him and his true love to another realm.

Only the living cried.

The boy and his love would rather have faced eternity than live a living death in this world, where a boy could not marry a serving girl.

Listen hard enough, and you will sense them smile.

Entry #92

Red Herring?
by Phatichar

Sub-inspector Rao was thoughtful. His constable, Nagaraj, however wasn't. Not that he was thoughtful anytime.

"Sir, what do you think?"

Rao grunted and motioned Nagaraj to quiet down.

But Nagaraj went on, "Sir, that bullet wound..."

"Shut up Nagu," Rao said. He frowned and tilted his head.

"Sir, the hand, the bullet wound, and all that …that red, maybe blood.. all of it somehow doesn’t..."

Rao lost it now. He turned to Nagaraj. "Ok, Sherlock holmes. The hand? The bullet wound? What next? The pistol?"

Nagaraj chuckled nervously. "No sir, I was just trying to help you out..."

"I don't need any. I'm just trying to figure out what this could mean."

"You mean, like a clue or something, sir?"

Rao nodded.

The curator's assistant appeared behind Rao. "Excellent choice, sir. It's a classic painting by our very own Maya Batliwaala. An original. It's called "escape to eternity"."

Rao looked at Nagaraj (who made a sour face), and then at the assistant.

"Escape to eternity through what - a bullet wound? No thanks, we'll pick up the pre-ordered “white horse”. After all, it's not for me, but for my boss, the police commissioner."

The assistant looked puzzled. He shrugged and left. Rao shook his head, smiled and looked at Nagaraj. "Escape to eternity, Nagu, escape to eternity. That's what it meant."

"You're a genius, sir."

Entry #91

Heart of God
by Debbie Smythe

The heart of god teetered on the mountain ledge. I held my breath, like my panting from twenty feet above might actually blow our prize over the edge. Gravel rain fell hissing into the ravine, but the heart held.

Jak frowned at Teela, who clung to the mountainside halfway to the heart. I'd often wished he'd study me the way he did her, but with his face a-streak with the blood of dead outlanders and Trial-kin alike he wasn't so pretty.

I inched nearer the edge. Nothing dislodged, but it was the lower ledge, and the crumbling rock-face between here and there turned my dirt and blood palms to sweaty rue. "Teela, come back."

"No." Jak blew her a kiss. "You can do it."

She nodded, and she climbed spider-like down the rock-face. Only spiders didn't tremble with exhaustion. Stone fractured. She gasped, hung one-handed and grabbed the heart. A dust-cloud erupted.


She coughed through the grit and stowed our salvation between her breasts. "Safe."

A wooden echo—spears on stone—said otherwise. Teela climbed, a dust-gray mote spiraling upward, but shale crumbled time and again. Spears drummed closer.

"Throw it," said Jak.

"Screw the heart. Screw Trial." I dropped to my stomach and reached down. "Climb."

Spears hammered. Teela tossed me the heart. And fell.

"Power's drained," I said. "Fifteen dead for nothing."

"Fifteen dead in Trial. Elder can shrink the perimeter field and we won't be outcast, nobody'll be outcast. We passed Trial."

Spear-thunder closed in.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Entry #90

No One Would Catch Fire
by D. Biswas

I love it when you run.

It gives me something different to do. You know how this constant stream of lectures, seminars, papers, bore me. A thousand times I’ve told you, you’re my protégé’. I’m the mentor, you the mentee. There is no escape.

I teach your body, mind, and soul, and while I teach your body, you enjoy it—all those tricks to please a man, that you need to learn if you want to come up in the world. You’re a girl, remember that.

You’re like the sun, you said to me, the first time I tore up your petals, and the room reeled with your woman smell. I feel as if I’ve burned up and dissolved, you said.

Too much poetry, I said as I gathered clothes back to my wrinkled body, you’ll learn.

But now I know you were right.

I had melted you that first time, those first months. Should have kept you that way, molten, burning with ‘passion’, ‘poetry’. Instead, I let you harden, catch your own fire. You have nightmares, you told me, where I’m a black hand, reaching towards you, closing in.

You have become your own sun, and you want to set the world on fire. I see that.
But you have to learn one last lesson: our insignificance. Nothing matters. No one would catch fire.

But you will burn.

I’m too old to give chase, put out the fire. But I can wait in ambush.

Entry #89

The True Story of How Casey Tilson Became a Vegan
by Wendy Russ

Earl and Arthur sat on the veranda of 351 Poplar Street in the same spots they’d sat for the last 63 years. They stared across the street at Casey Tilson working a yellow-handled hoe in her garden.

“I think that’s one of the nicest hoes I’ve seen,” said Earl. “She’s one them vegans, you know.”

Arthur spit into a paper cup and grunted, “Ayep.”

“Them vegans, they got ideas,” added Earl.


“Heard tell it’s due to a childhood trauma – it was that year Maisy Treece tried to shoot Elmer’s pecker off with a BB gun.”

“She was a feisty one,” Arthur admitted.

“That summer Casey was cracking eggs on the sidewalk to see if they’d cook,” Earl continued.

“Seems like a waste of good eggs to me.”

“Turned out one of them eggs was fertilized and when she cracked it out on the sidewalk it was all golden yolk and bloody red mucus and a black chick eye and it commenced to bubble on the hot pavement as if to be flappin like it was still alive.

“And Casey went to screaming down the street bellowing like a scared calf, ‘THERE’S A CHICK IN MY EGG!’”

“What’d she think was in there,” asked Arthur.

After careful consideration Earl said, “I don’t rightly know.”

They sat and rocked a long while and watched Casey Tilson work.

Finally, Arthur broke the silence. He spit in his cup and said, “I reckon you’re right about that hoe.”

Entry #88

Your Mother
by Francis Tan

Your mother grew up in a family of traditions. She learnt things the hard way, the way only a stern old man knew and executed. Regulations ruled with no room for tenderness and mistakes.

But she always knew her shell couldn't contain the free spirit within. Not when the influence of the modern city surrounding her family had an upper hand over her father. Before long, she was out away from home.

She got into sales and learnt the trades from an oldhand. She did pretty well before knowing that she had been conned. There began a series of disillusioned career paths, one after another.

She had no luck with love too. A young dude beat her up; a married man took her money; and a failed businessman killed himself.

By chance, we met at the pub. I was singing with my guitar. She came up to me, drunk in her sorrows. That night, she poured out her life.

She came back to the pub the following night, and the night after......

We got married in my hometown. I told her I couldn't give her much. She said it's ok 'cos I told her I'd be the first person she could always run to.

We talked, we listened; we laughed, we cried; we worked, we played. We were each other's elemental need.

And then we had you.

My fingers run on your face. You look like your mother. I wish you could meet her, little baby.

(Francis is a trader who loves music and reading.)

Entry #87

The Queues
by Margaret D. Whittle

The moving sidewalks kept the two parallel lines orderly. No pushing or shoving allowed. I looked around for a familiar face but as the queues stretched before and aft for what seemed eternity, I had no luck.

Letting my mind wander to the events that had brought me to this place, I smiled. Justice had been served for all parties involved. I had welded the axe high and hard into Jacks' head and he would never abuse anyone again. The state had welded its gavel just as sure and swift to satisfy the blood thirsty throngs outside the courthouse. The blind lady's scale remained even. With a sigh, I thought to myself, "Oh my".

Where we were headed was anyone's guess, but I could see on the horizon a fork in the road where the sidewalks seemed to peel away from one another. Looking to my right, at a parallel traveler, who seemed content and at peace, I raised my eyebrows in a questioning manner. She shrugged her shoulders as if to say. “Who knows?". I nodded back, “Oh well".

The sidewalks began to split apart and looking over my shoulder I waved a farewell to the quiet women who had traveled by my side. Facing towards our destination, I could make out the light in the distance and noticed that the surrounding atmosphere was starting to warm up considerately. A sliver of fear stabbed my heart and shivering in spite of the heat, I thought to myself, “Oh Hell."

Entry #86

The Wall
by Peter Davidson

She drew on the thin hand-rolled cigarette, watching as the tip flared incandescent. The room glowed. It was best seen this way, she decided; briefly and from the light of a cigarette. A borrowed apartment, undecorated, uncared for. It meant nothing. This was about enjoying a secret pleasure, a one-time indulgence, a needed satisfaction. Her hand rested against the wall, illuminated blood-red from the thin, burning erection held stiff between her fingers. It was impossible not to think in those terms. She could still feel that heat, that other glow, deep between her thighs. Nearby on the bed, she knew he was watching. Within soft monochrome shadows lay the outline of his body, resting, sated. Drawing hard on the cigarette, she watched as his eyes caught and threw back the sudden flare. Glittering points of fire in the darkness. There had been no time for words, for gentle kisses. No time for her to run, to change her mind, to talk, to doubt. Pressed against the wall, its cold hardness biting into her skin, the heat of him, his hardness pressing into her, she embraced abandonment and surrender. Her legs encircled his waist, drawing him into her even as he held her impaled, her hands pinned high above her head, his mouth smothering her cries. She ground the cigarette into the wall, watching the embers flare and cascade to the floor, the flame extinguished. It was time to return to the those watching eyes, and the fire within.

Entry #85

by Prashant Dhanke

Yesterday as the room service lady delivered the laundry to my room, I hesitated, “This bra is not mine”.

“Of course not, sir.” She slammed the door on her way back.

It’s a regular bra; black, 32B. Clara is bigger.

A copy of the laundry receipt has already gone to the company accountant; and she will talk. Clara will throw me out.

Sales Manager, 45, on a business trip, is getting lingerie washed at company’s expense while his faithful wife tends to the household chores and their 15 year old son.

That 15 year old was recently caught watching porn by his mother.

“You must talk to Harry.” Clara repeats.

Yeah right. Harry, read your books and please don’t jerk off!

And who am I to preach? The man who sleeps with a bra by his side. And how many times have my hands caressed the sin? A million.

Such fine shit. Who’s to blame? I didn’t put the fucking thing in my bag. Stupid laundry guys must have messed up.

Well, I better call Clara before the word reaches her. But she won’t believe me.

Maybe I should call Cynthia. Bless her for staying over with us for the month. She will explain it real nice to Clara, face to face.

My phone is ringing. Oh dear! It’s Clara.

“Clara, my angel, I miss you.”

“That’s alright honey, but you must talk to Harry first thing you are back.”

“What did he do now?”

“Cynthia’s bra is missing.”

Entry #84

Troubled Mind
by Michael J. Solender

After two days of trying, Alicia was finally able to open her eyes. Swollen shut from earlier trauma, her first view since the “accident” was streaked scarlet like a Caribbean sunset. The tropics were far from her mind though as she strained to make out the familiar shape that beckoned her closer. She tried to rise from the bed that was her prison to follow its call, but was stopped by the nurse.

“There now Miss,” the nurse was perfunctory, yet detached, feigning a pleasing tone she employed dozens of times per day, “Just rest now.”

The nurse tightened the restraints on her troubled charge. Alicia was too medicated to realize she was bound to the bed, unable to do anything other than sleep. At least it resembled sleep. Those with the keys to the locked ward where she resided knew however that the medically induced stupor only temporarily hid the self inflicted horrors awaiting Alicia.

Gently stroking her check, the warm hand gently awakened Alicia. She saw it clearly now, but could not make out its owner, the red haze persisted. She saw only a detached arm caressing her, petting her, mothering her. Succor hers for a moment, she drifted back to sleep.

The residents were puzzled as they peered over Alicia with their charts. Sound asleep, they spoke freely.

“Why would she cut off her own arm?” The first year resident asked no one in particular.

In unison, the rest simply shook their heads.

Entry #83

by JaneyV

“Stop pushing!”

“It’s not me. I’m being squished every which way. Feels like this whole place is coming in.”

The boy thought for a moment. The tremors had stopped but he knew they would begin again. He stared below. He could see a shard of light; a golden sliver in the pink glow of their shaking home. The boy reached his tiny hand out to see how far away it was but drew it quickly back into his chest as another quake started.

“Brother I’m scared.”

“Don’t worry, I’ve found the way out. It’s going to be a squeeze but I reckon I can wriggle through and then you can follow.”

“Are you sure?”

“No… yes. I-I’m not sure why, but this feels right and we’ll die if we stay here.”

Another ferocious quake propelled the boy headlong toward the light. He thought his head would crack as the walls closed in. He twisted to free his shoulder and struggled and squirmed to reach the light. As he did, huge warm hands dragged him out. Air rushed into his lungs, cold and violent. He screamed his sister’s name. Everything was horrible and bright and hurt. The hands pulled and prodded him. Where was she?

“SISTER!” He drew another breath. Then she answered.


Then she was beside him. As they reached for each other a voice said, “Congratulations. Mama. It’s twins - a boy and a girl. And they both have fine healthy lungs.”

Entry #82

Till Death Do Us Part
by Col Bury

PC Loram didn’t register the bullet that killed him, until it pinged off the pylon bar behind. The spurts from his gaping throat made his erection instantly flaccid. The prostitute on her knees expected a shower, but not of blood. Loram hit the deck before she screamed.

Halfway up the pylon, electricity crackled above. Confused, his weightless tranquillity was broken by piercing shrieks below.

A blood-soaked woman stumbled around like a pissed-up zombie. Another woman, brandishing a handgun, smiled manically.

“Till death do us part…”

Brenda… the bitch! Panic-stricken, Loram gazed at his ‘spectral body’.

Vibrations made him pivot. A black pin-prick grew in the parting clouds. Rushing upward, darkness engulfed him. Zooming forward, a distant white dot rapidly closed in.

Bathed in a brilliant whiteness, he was soothed by profound love.

An angelic form of pulsating mini-prisms, a stunning backdrop like ocean mist, distant chimes echoing.

The ‘Being’ touched him.

Images appeared…

… Loram beating a prisoner … with each punch, Loram felt the criminal’s despair…

… A drug-dealer giving Loram an envelope… addicts injecting heroin… their hopelessness swamping his soul…

… Brenda, crying into her pillow, spilled tablets across the bed… he felt her misery…

“Enough!” Loram turned away.

“What have you learned from this?”

“…That’s life.”

“Then, you’re in the wrong place…” The ‘Being’ dispersed.

Loram swivelled, a fiery hole emerging beside him. Two white doves transformed into squawking, red-eyed crows.

Holding out a pleading hand, the abyss mercilessly sucked him in, with a growl of malevolence.

Entry #81

by J. Ryan Rosser

Push. He was alone, save for the muted voices echoing around the cavern; the screams and repetition. Push. He wanted to pull. Push. He was being pulled. Every issuance brought him closer to the cavern’s opening. Push. Blood rushed to his ears. He wanted to scream but could find no breath.

Push! His world was crashing, constricting, contracting. There was no going back, only forward. The thought made him cringe. Push! The opening was larger, he realized. No. Not larger. Closer. Push! He breeched the red tide, briefly, by wedging himself into the bloodied river bed. Push! It slowed his ebb, but not the flow, and he flushed toward the cavern’s gaping mouth once more.

PUSH! The walls enclosed around him. Tight. Tighter. They came alive with each breath; gripping his soft, fleshy skin. PUSH! The walls pulsed and forced him forward, forever closing any hope of return. The darkness behind cast shadow on the light ahead. PUSH! Through the hole lay a world of bright noise and tears.

PUSH! His head crested through the opening, followed by his body. The river rushed past him, below him, as he was carried swiftly to a cushioned pillow of skin. He screamed, at last, and opened his eyes. No longer surrounded by darkness, he saw tears and smiles. He felt touch for the first time and it warmed him. This woman, his woman, pressed something into his mouth. He sucked on life; slept and dreamed.

(J. Ryan Rosser is a Professional Storyteller and Children’s Pastor in Kansas City, MO.)

Entry #80

Antimatter Roses
by Aidan Fritz

Ella swiped her badge against the security plate. Today was the day. Her palms sweated, they hadn't done that since her interview at the supercollider lab.

He had to love her. He was her mirror, positive and negatives switched. Her mother would scoff at their relationship. She'd ask, how could Ella know love if she'd never met the man? It was the dance of decaying particles.

Ella wasn't sure how long she'd stood there. The security plate blinked red. Access denied. She swiped her badge a second time. Blasted door, picking today to fail. The clock ticked.

Entering Director Allegheny's paper-strewn office, Ella said, "Something's wrong with my badge."

"Nothing is wrong."

"I can't access the supercollider core."

"You have worked too hard. Take some time off."

Bosses never understood. "Are you firing me?"


"I need access to the collisions." Her passage required alignment.

"No." Allegheny approached awkwardly like test tubes in an earthquake. "The psychological models predicted your actions. You must abandon this line of inquiry. The world consists primarily of antimatter. You believe in a mirage."

Ella slammed the director's door. Allegheny was an apparatchik, caring more about the dollars in grants that would disappear. A life waited for her.

It was easier than Ella expected. A custodian left his cart and badge outside the restroom. The security plate blinked green.

Accelerated particles streamed to strike the plate. Scared, she stepped into the beam. A flame-limned hand stretched to meet her. Her lover.

Today was the day.

Entry #79

Big Bang
by Jay R. Thurston

A clock rested, silent and still.

Dual glows emerged against a black backdrop. A silhouette of fingers in orange light flickered across the young faces of their wielders.

“It worked,” Eve spoke.

“I had no doubt,” her twin Dawn responded.

“What now?”

“Let’s combine them.”

Eve offered her fiery sphere.

Dawn rejected. “Not like that. Let’s give it some spark. Have them meet mid-air.”

“You’re crazy. That’ll kill us.”

“Stop being overdramatic. One quick flash and it will be over.”

“It’s going to backlash, Dawn.”

“Nothing will be destroyed.” Dawn’s giggle diminished as she stepped backwards. Her fireball shrunk in Eve’s eye. “Make space if you’re worried about backlash.”

“Let’s do this. It’s getting hot to hold.” Eve shifted her weight. Her sister mimicked a reflection across the dark expanse.


“I’ve been ready.”


Both girls thrust their glowing spheres towards the other; their visages claimed in trailing blackness. The projectiles soared through the empty void, closer and closer.


Light bleached the heavens. A roaring explosion of epic magnitude sent embers awry in every direction. Particles of light sped outward, toward oblivion. Deafening rumbles subsided, until the contact point rid itself of smoke and the last debris.

The ultimate silence gave way to a quick and steady repetition of sound.

Tick… Tick… Tick…

Entry #78

Don’t Play With Me...
by Thomas Joyce

‘Do I have your attention now Mr....Purso? Can I call you Evan?’ said the more talkative of the two as he looked through Evan’s wallet. Evan said nothing. He only sat and watched as the other man, the quiet one, held the waitress by the arm. It was hard to believe that only moments ago he had been sitting in his booth, flirting with the waitress and believing that the only other people in the bar, the two men watching the television above the bar, had been minding their own business.

‘Don’t play with me, Evan,’ said the talker, urgently pressing the point of his blade between two of his ribs. ‘That was more than a magic trick.’

The “trick” he was referring to had been Evan’s idea of impressing the waitress, making the flame on top of the candle dance with just his mind and an outstretched hand, causing the uncomfortably hot sensation in his head and allowing the two men to make their move. But now it was Evan’s turn. The speed of his movement surprised the men as he gripped both of their wrists and inhaled sharply. Every candle in the room lost its flame as he sucked them up, merging them within and expanding the flame until he could feel the heat spreading down his arms. He was relieved to see the waitress take cover behind the bar as the three men were engulfed.

You should not have played with me.’

Entry #77

I Saw Hearts But You Saw Skulls
by Simon Kewin

‘The sky is full of hearts, Jen! Come see.’

I’ve come out for the newspaper, groggy with sleep, and there they are, filling the bright morning air. Not aorta and blood hearts, but stylised hearts, symbolic hearts, flitting around like butterflies. Beautiful.

‘What the hell you shouting about now, Dan?’ says Jen from somewhere inside.

I step into the street, one hand holding my robe closed. People stand around, looking upwards, amazed. Cars too, drivers’ heads peering out of lowered windows.

‘Hey, Dan, you see them?’ Mrs. Green from next door. ‘The angels? Is it the end of the world, Dan? You think that’s it?’

‘They’re not angels, ma,’ says Grace, her daughter. ‘They’re fairies. You can see their wings.’

I walk up to Bud. He’s reaching up into the air, trying to grab them. They flit out of the way each time.

‘Eyes,’ he says. ‘Like, demonic eyes. Red. What are they doing there?’

‘Beats me.’

I suddenly have to know what Jen sees. Mrs. Green’s head is full of the gospel while Grace spends her days playing fairies. Bud sure has his demons. And I see hearts, because of Jen. Despite everything.

I find her out in the yard, the same open-mouthed expression as she stares upwards. I put my arm around her.

‘You see them?’

She shrugs herself free. Like she does these days. Since him.


‘What, Jen? The hearts?’

‘Hearts? No, they’re skulls aren’t they? Like, death’s-heads. Dan, the sky. It’s full of skulls.’

Entry #76

The Mark
by Alexander Salas

Its red fiery eye scanned the mark on her shaking left palm. Though It showed no mouth Its eye gleamed a smile. It approved.

She received the mark the day they reached an agreement.

Not guilty. The jury had spoken. She’d be free to roam the rest of her days on earth. It had kept Its end of the bargain.

She tried to breach the deal by confessing to the murder of her baby girl on her death bed. But the mark superseded her feeble attempt to break their contract. A ‘confession is good for one’s soul’ if one had a soul.

“Welcome home.” A disembodied voice snickered.

Entry #75

by Richard Levangie

It began with sweetness and light. A soft, subtle symphony like crystal brooks that I leaned closer to hear.

Then she had me. I was drunk on her beauty, yes, by the scent and taste of her. With each electric tryst, small waves of lust deluged and darkened my mind. With each intense, unhurried pleasuring, I found more of her, and less of me.

Now submerged both sinew and soul, I was helpless. Such perfection of feeling, like I was newly-born. I had never known anyone else before, would never know anyone again. I was oblivious to the cascade, knowing only the delight, rushing like water.

I have always thought myself honorable and unchanging, as constant as the Nile. What a wicked game, seeking that sunken jewel. Before I saw the truth, I had been swept away. I had lost my handhold, my self.

Now, was it my idea? I really can’t say. I can parrot our pillow talk like lines from a play, and my heart still floods with release. But when was the kernel planted? It matters not. Mine is the voyage of damned. If she led me to it, she found no barricades of my making.

So I made plans both rational and unholy; my genius was unleashed. I laid strangling snares, baited silver hooks. In other circumstances, I would have pitied him. But now, he was in my way.

Yes, he would die. And I would kill him.

The devil is in the details.

Entry #74

The Fire
by Scott Simpson

When Evan stood before fire he felt the shame of three generations.

There glowed his father’s shame- the grey hotness- like embers of a burnt-down house.

There danced his own shame- the gas-soaked burning of couches and curtains.

And there… there wafted the future shame that would cling to his young son, permeating all nearby good things like the befouling odor of burning-garbage smoke.

When Evan looked at fire he saw far too much red- anger from within was a fire that desperately needed out.

When Evan looked at fire re re-saw raw burning flesh that fried like common bacon with its fat feeding the larger flame ala candle wax, tossing out pennants of pure yellows and oranges.

When Evan got near fire he’d raise a shielding hand, warding off the implications fire imposed, protecting himself from its raw and puerile honesty.

Fire could destroy pain if it were hot enough.

Fire could act as an elemental cleanser.

Transmutation occurred by immersion in a great fire.

Fire was the final judgment.

An adolescent angry hand had lit the fire that burnt it all away and a repentant hand desired often to reach into the flames and pull out the father who once beat Evan so badly his bruises melded with old bruises until all history of every hand-strike became unreadable on the torso and face.

“You weren’t supposed to be home,” Evan chanted, cried.

If he could reach back into the flames…

The memory was hot enough to sizzle.

Entry #73

A Study in Scarlet
by Mystico

“More wine?”

He raised his eyebrows at me across the room. “What’s with that tone, son? Afraid I can’t take it?” He smirked, and traced his finger about the rim of the empty glass, the ring both a request and a reminder.

“Of course not. Right away.” Waving to Sybil, I bade her to collect one of our best bottles. After all, the fact that Dad would even deign to make the effort to visit me down at my place was a rare occasion in itself, and I hardly wanted to fall out again over a small issue such as drinks over dinner.

“You’ve acquired…quite a few more wrinkles since the last time we met, if you do pardon me saying so. Busy times at work?”

He raised a hand to his face with just a hint of self-consciousness. “Really?” I felt rather than heard my father’s sigh. “Oh well. Old age does that, I guess. I mean, what with global warming, crashing economies, and the crazy things world leaders get up to these days.” He glared over the glass at me. “No thanks to you, of course.”

I smirked, opening a window to look at the live feed from Libya, seeing the flashes of falling bombs, rifle reports, hearing the screams of the innocent. Placed my hand against the glass, a black patch against the crimson skies.

“I thought you loved them.” I whispered.

“Not enough to interfere.”

“Then…can I?”

“Come on. I’m not that old yet.”

Entry #72

by Mithun Mukherjee

Neon red. Fat colour to use as bulbs in a pub.

Two losers like us in the seediest of pubs, hoping to get laid.

Laid. Such a fuckin’ Word!

The music is like a steam engine from two centuries ago, starting up and thumping inside my head.

“We will do everything together”.

Except we can’t.

“Who’s in there? I gotta go!”

‘Buzz off...find another room!’

The guy goes away leaving Will to what he is doing inside the four by three capsule. I can only imagine.

And hope I get a turn too.

“Hey, that your friend inside with Martha?”

The guy doesn’t look like he is gonna slug me. Or want a turn.


“Thought I would tell you...cuz’ you look like a nice guy.”

I see his lips move but hear the whump whump whump of the bass and the sound of a breaking bottle come out of his mouth. You could blow up a nuke here and get away with it.

“Whaa?” I try again. Not that it would be critically important or anything. A Mars settlement disclosure or a Microsoft social networking platform announcement were the last things you could expect here.

‘I was saying’...he screams, trying to rise above the mock-industrial clatter, ‘that she is not Martha!’

A hand slaps right above my head, emerging out of the red fog inside the toilet. Will, you Titanic-esque bastard.

“Who is she then?” I scream back.

“A He!” he corrects,


Entry #71

Georgia Finds Nirvana
by Linda Ryan-Harper

My name is Georgia. I was named for an intrusive thought—a melody—that lodged itself in the brain of my mentally ill mother while she carried me. Were she catatonic, would my name be Stupor? On this day, just before my eighth birthday, the wind pushes hard against me. My skirt becomes a bellows; alternately filling with air then deflating and wrapping around my legs. The sun mocks the cold with its brilliance. I stoop down to hold the yellow head of a daffodil between my fingers, the smell of sweet earth rises up. I snap the daffodil's neck.

On the sidewalk, I measure my steps to avoid cracks or break my mother's back. I leave the minefield and enter my house. Inside it is silent and cold; the heater has gone out. My mother sleeps as the wind rattles the window over her head. I place the daffodil beside her: Its vibrancy stirs remorse that I stole it from its place in the sun, the wind, the rain.

I light a piece of paper and throw it into the firebox of the heater. The heater grumbles moodily then belches a foul diesel smell before it ignites. I burrow beneath a blanket and read to allow other voices inside my head until I , like my mother, slip into welcomed unconsciousness.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Entry #70

The Fire Blessing
by Aerin Rose

Shadows of the fire wards shimmered gold and crimson in the flames of Lillith’s hair. Firebird, salamander, dragon - we’d bonded during the infinite expanses of time I’d spent tangled in bed with Lillith. Now they peered out, one by one, in silent goodbyes. I avoided looking at her as I worked my earthen features into the shapes Yahweh suggested.

"I guess it could have been Undine.” Lillith’s voice was lukewarm.

“The water elemental as mother of humanity?”

“I guess not. Nor Sylph, either.”

“We’ve been through this, Lil. I’m going. Help me with my torso.”

She slid her hands beneath my arms and lifted. Although I’d melted into her heat countless times, that lava skin now felt acidic against mine. As my waist lengthened, ribs grew to support my new frame.

“You shouldn’t have to change for this animal.”

“Adam. His name is Adam. What do you want me to do? Who should go instead?”

The words kindled between us; we both knew Yahweh had asked for the fire elemental. For her. She was the first to turn away.

“I’ve already received the blessings of air and water,” I said. “Now the fire blessing.”

The incandescent salamander appeared in a burst of sparks on my hand. His bright tail gripped as he bit my finger, flint to touchstone, fire scorching my blood.

“I will always love you.” I raised my eyes to hers a final time. “But I can’t forgive you.”

My lover whispered, “Eve,” and I was gone.

(Aerin Rose: With thanks to Fritz.)

Entry #69

Cheating Death
by Yamini Murty

“You are steering through me.”

“Yes. I am supposed to do that.”

“Through my flesh!! Ouch!”


“Who are you?”

“I am Grim Reaper”

“You are here to take my soul away, aren’t you?”

“You have to wait and watch.”

“Hahahaa. I think you’ll have to wait forever and watch. And watch. And watch…”

“I am grabbing it.”

“That isn’t what you are looking for, Mr. Reaper, leave it.”

“I think so too.”


“Where’s your soul?”

“Find it, and take it”

“I am not here for a ruthless end. You have to die. Where’s your soul?”

“It is not in me anymore”

“Strange! I got to take you there. You see that... That’s the eternal light.”

“I see zilch. No radiance, No darkness. Nothing”


“It’s pancreatic cancer. You wouldn’t even know when it will kill you”

“Wow. So I take that as a no-pain-death, right Doc?”

“You will know it. I don’t want to scare you.”

“What’s death doctor? What is it like?”

“Death is the end of the physical being. Your soul survives.”

“And who am I? A face, these hands, my pancreas, this body? Or am I a soul, a spirit?”

“You are a spirit. Your heart stops functioning and you die, medically. Your spirit lives forever.”

“Keep my heart going; I don’t care about the spirit.”

“That’s impracticable”

“Make it possible”

“Are you threatening me?”


“Cheers to the new entrant in the club of The Immortal Beings. Finally, Death bows to thee too.”

Entry #68

Graduation Day
by Rohan

Munna lied chest down beside a car and reached out to a half-eaten bun under it. He got up, pocketed the day's meal and wiped his greasy hands against his threadbare vest. Life on the streets had sucked out of him what the more privileged called 'childhood'.

Munna's average work day was no different than most kids around him: petty thefts, pick pocketing, gambling...the usual. In a year or two, serious career choices would have to be made: the local bootlegging ring or pimping, for instance.

Abandoned at birth and now twelve, Munna made his way to his spot near the garbage dump. On his way, he passed the pot-bellied constable Shankar who had roughed him up two days back for breaking into a fight with a fruit vendor who had captured his corner.

'Filthy bastards like you should be fed to vultures!' shouted Shankar, glaring at Munna.

Munna smiled and started to hum a sleazy Bollywood number. Shankar would not touch him till he paid his weekly dues for his spot.

Unless of course, he got a better offer.

Munna turned back and ran as fast as the thought that came to his mind. He grabbed a knife stuck on a ripe watermelon and slit the vendor's throat.

Shankar was a mere witness to the murder. He saw Munna as a new recruit to the city's largest contract killing business and a means to a fat commission.

Munna had just graduated elementary school.

Entry #67

by Christopher Mitchell

It is finished.

The form lay under the sheet and I was responsible. Resurrecting life already gone. And it had all been done it all under the watching eyes. That was what was so delicious. All the activity took place with the blacked out vans and cameras posted, keeping vigilance over the captive flock.

My sympathy for the cause came after seeing the torture chambers and crematory. I knew where most of the disappeared had ended up. Of course, the money helped as well. It began with an escape plot. But It had become so much more. It was a risky, cutting edge project unlike any the world had seen. But nothing ever was gained without pushing taboos. This storage shed worked well. It blended in with the woods and was never noticed from the road. The authorities were going to be given their due.

The smell of chemicals hung heavy in the air. With a rumble the glowing hand rises from the lava. The cobalt shirt radiates across the room and his flashing beard sparkles. The ashes fall from him in his magnificence. Lion roars issue from his throat. It is time for the final test. Pressing the start button, I step back slightly. The head rises towards the blood moon as the words scream out:

“Billy Mays here for the Purgatory Cafe!”

Entry #66

Publish or Perish
by C. Joos

"Anthony, stop acting like a twit." It was the closest my mother came to swearing.

I peeked from behind the banister. Deflated tulips scattered over the soggy carpet. Jagged spiderwebs across the television screen. My father, crunching broken glass and conjugating cuss words as he paced.

I knew some: fuck, fucking, fucked, fucker. Others were strange, all corners and edges: tenure review, distorted data, retracted publications. Mortgage. What now?

As a member of the peanut gallery, I could help; I knew this scene by heart.

Cue words of comfort: "What were you thinking? How could you do something so-" Her eyes met mine and she sighed. "I'm not doing this in front of our child." She dropped shards of glass into the fold of her apron.

The distance between them disappeared. My father yanked her to her feet. His hand drew back. "And who the hell are you? You can't even hold down a job."

"Twelve years of marriage," my mother said, wrenching free, "and you're going to start hitting me now?" It was time for him to leave, before he did something "regrettable."

Cue a bonfire in the backyard: The car squealed out of the driveway. In the trunk was a canister of gasoline for "just-in-case."

After she fixed herself a scotch, my mother sat down next to me on the porch steps. I curled into her embrace. "He's just cooling his heels," she said. "Don't worry."

In the distance, the alarm at the firehouse began to clang.

Entry #65

by Chris Allinotte

Grace jerked awake, gasping for air. In her dream, she'd been trapped in a burning house and acrid smoke had choked off her breath.

She started coughing. Coughing became retching. The air in the living room was a stinking red miasma, swirling along the floor in unwholesome eddies. It smelled of metal, and something else – something familiar.

Cupping a hand to her mouth, Grace took a tiny sip of air. Again her body rejected the vapour as useless. Her chest began to throb. It was like being under water with no view to the surface. The fog was oppressively humid, but she was shivering.

The ceiling track lights had become hectic yellow beacons in the mist. Grace stood up on the sofa, following their glow. The cloud was a little thinner away from the floor.

She inhaled again, coughed again. Still no good. Her lungs were a throbbing blue agony. Grey and purple sparks danced before her eyes. Up ahead, the living room door swam into view. With lurching, desperate steps, Grace charged for the blackness.

She stumbled through the door and the mist was gone. With a single, painful whoop, Grace filled her lungs. The swampy, fetid air tasted awful, and wonderful.

When she looked back into the room, through its curtain of red, the air escaped her in rush.

Memories flooded in to take its place: Alan, accusations, tears,
screaming, and finally, the shotgun.

After one final moment, Grace turned, and stepped gratefully into the welcoming dark.

Entry #64

by Apple Ardent Scott

Alabaster blindness, so bright as to render useless any barrier, flared, then froze in time. Douglas Martin Hoover’s finger lay clenched upon the trigger. The bullet peeked past the misty end of the muzzle and pressed into the flesh of the genihyoid muscle, poised for its invasion through tongue, upper palate, spacious nasal cavities, then into soft, creamy brain matter. Doug’s thoughts anticipated oblivion, even as his creamy brain matter exploded into a Chinese New Year of lit fuses and racing sparks. Every neuron fired its brightest, vying for Doug’s last nanosecond of attention. He saw the handlebars on his first three-gear bike and felt the sweaty grips under his hands. He saw his fifth grade teacher, a southern mammy, moved from the plantation to the classroom, keeping them chillens in line and teaching them their 1-2-3’s. Mrs. Barnes was the greatest math teacher in Potters Hollow, or at least to any fifth grade student. Doug especially remembered the day she took him aside and told him that she knew his secret. She knew he was really smart. Doug’s face hid any agreement he may have entertained, but he knew she was right and it scared him.

He lived life at arms' length behind a brick wall of fear. Fear of success, fear of failure, fear of ridicule, fear of glory. This day he took arms against his troubles and rode the bullet train through the fear and reached toward the light. He would be free at last.

Entry #63

The Burn
by Roger Dale Trexler

I see it burning in the distance. A warm, red, inviting glow. It is always there, just out of reach. I reach for it anyway. I have no choice. Not to reach would be tantamount to surrender, and I am not ready to surrender.

Not yet.

Not ever.

But I have been burned by it before. It is the worst kind of burn; a burn that does not heal. A burn that leaves a scar on your soul. A damage that cannot be repaired.

I reach for it again.

I must.

I long for nothing more than to draw it close to my heart, nestle it until it becomes a part of me. Only then will I feel whole.

I turn away, afraid. But I must be strong. I need to be strong. I look back. It burns. It burns with warmth beyond heat. It is so alluring, so desirable. It is something that everyone longs for, but so few ever achieve. I want to achieve it. I want to be the exception. Can I please be the exception, God?


I reach out. It is so close now. So terribly, terribly close. Electricity dances through me as I draw near.

I am afraid.

Will it be right this time? Or will it be just another burn on my heart?

I don’t know, and that is the hell of it.

It is love and I must reach for it.

….Even if it burns.

Entry #62

Wilruf the Plunderer
by Phil Wade

They find the old dragon, that scourge of Mercia, near the river, at least two furlongs from its cave. The nine men, wearing skillfully made cloaks, hide among the trees—four archers, five swordsmen with spears and shields for all. But Wilruf thinks four swordsmen will suffice. He is closest to its lair, so when the archers launch their first volley and a shocked roar replies, he sprints for the old devil’s cave.

He hears vomiting fire behind him, brave shouts and the beast’s choking cries.

“Villian! You have met your match!” Egbert, their leader, shouts. Wilruf laughs quietly, scampering around boulders.

He stumbles over the rubble which the dragon has scraped from the cave mouth. Inside, the darkness devours him. Do gold and diamonds not gleam a bit? He sees nothing, hastily groping the floor. Every scorching breath burns his lungs with a stench of refuse and carcass. He crawls farther, but nothing his sweating hands touch feels like a coin or a crown. How far back is the beast’s hoard?

A hot gust brushes his left hand, and turning he sees a golden shimmer several yards away, a luminescent ring shining on a glittering bed of gold.

“Ha, ha!” He has found it! But the glistening ring blinks. In a belch of flame, he sees the calm, gleaming eye and sleek, golden scales of a dragon raising herself above a nest of eggs. Again darkness devours him.

Entry #61

Soul Survivor
by Dottie Taylor

Marco held his hand against the steaming glass, searing the flesh but it would heal. He was still alive.

The sun burned relentlessly those first days. He survived the blast by the grace of the unholy, confined as he was. His hunger spiked.

At three weeks, hunger made him take what he had never before, but the blood was warm. How long could he survive this way? How long before he was forced to seek the humanity he hoped had survived?

At two months, he could no longer stand the confinement. His blood stores long depleted, not even garbage rats scurried from their holes. His mind broken from starvation, the bloodlust rode him now.

As one sun fell below the horizon, the other burned, given birth by the blast. It held him in it's fiery flame. He kept to the shadows, slinking through the rumble, seeking movement of the living. Was he the last of any kind?

At five months, nothing was left of the thing he once was. Every expedition into the night scorched his skin. He no longer healed, feeding from his own body. Insanity and inhumanity were his only friends. He waited for the night when he no longer rose.
At one year, his skeletal body no longer cared if his flesh peeled away. He roamed endlessly, despairingly, yet undyingly.

At two years, the Earth was reborn with the first bud of life.

There weren't any eyes left to see it. He had plucked his out.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Entry #60

The Palace
by Sandra Cormier

The palace was once pink; now it was red.

Pink like the Princess’s sari, glittering like her diamond earrings.

Niya had often graced the covers of magazines, posing with heads of state and polo champions. Now she pressed her bejeweled hand against the glass of her prison while flames reflected the rage of some faceless entity that no longer believed in royalty.

Smoke, the color of Niya’s eye shadow, curled around the magazine covers which her daughter had lovingly framed and arranged along Niya’s bedroom wall.

Her daughter had treasured the pictures almost as much as her pony drawing which had likely already turned to ashes along with her school books and toys.

Her adopted son – her heir – was away at school and would never see his video game collection turn to molten lumps of plastic.

Niya’s almond eyes glittered with tears, which evaporated almost instantly in the dry air. Tears of sadness but not remorse. Tears of love but not guilt.

She heard sirens in the distance. Soon, flashing red lights tore through the gates, like eyes seeking out the flames.

She pressed harder on the glass. It buckled.

Someone loves me, she thought as her pink sari sailed behind her like a comet’s tail.

The palace had once been pink, but now it was red.