Short Stories

Dangerous

DISCLAIMER:

This short story includes some instances of violence. Reader discretion is advised.


~Ashi~

 

And exhale.

The transfer was complete.

Another body, another land. Anywhere but home.

Now began the hard part – suppressing the mind and dominating the body I had borrowed.

Groggy and disorientated, I finally waded out of the storm of transference and felt able to take control. Electric tendrils of consciousness spread throughout; it was mine. I would win the mental battle, like every time before. It wasn’t even a challenge now, I’d lost count of how many minds had shattered, retreating into the recesses of their own bodies. Bittersweet; my own, a burnt cripple only able to shit itself, lay comatose wasting away wherever. Not that I cared. I want to live.

Like a beacon of fragility, this mind called out. And yet, despite summoning me, inside he fought with everything, resisting every breath I seized with his lungs. Too late.

And exhale.

Eyes opened and a blurred world emerged, a flicker of the host’s thoughts betrayed victory at the petty attempt to stop me. But I had control. A moment later a rough wooden bed came into focus, cramped up into the corner of a cluttered bedroom. I frowned. It felt more like a cupboard. To one side threadbare curtains were drawn closed but hung loose, barely hiding the deep orange sky. With caution I took a step closer, unveiling the raging inferno outside. There, looming in the sky like a stray balloon, was a meteor. I froze, I could not survive another transfer so soon. A cold sadness emanated from the man. His world was going to end. He wanted his family by his side and for it to be over. A mind so desperate to escape, no wonder it had been calling out.

We were the same.

Caelan?” A female voice yelled. Caelan’s wife, Idella.

I stepped to the doorway. In the hall bustled a woman, teary brown eyes snapped to mine with a face streaked of anger.

That woman has returned.”

Behind stood another woman, a loose braid of auburn hair fell from the side of her head, and grey eyes watched my every move. I glanced down to see dull layered leather covering her torso, blanketed with a long sky blue jacket.

Ivie,’ Caelan’s thoughts whispered. ‘She’s devious. Stay away from her.’

Why?’

There you are,” she smiled. “I have returned as promised, I am here for my answer.”

He won’t go with you, he belongs here—”

I’m asking Caelan,” Ivie snapped, cutting Idella off. “Not you.”

The floor wobbled as I lost control for a second, Caelan fought back while my mind floundered with my choices. Rough hands gripped the doorframe sending splinters into the tough skin. Both women watched with concern.

It’s futile, stop fighting me. What does she want, Caelan?’

I’ll never stop, this is my body. Your moments are limited, intruder.’

I focussed harder, prying into Caelan’s mind. Ivie wanted to take him to a new world. If I made him go I could switch to another body. It was an easy decision.

You are not dying today, neither am I.’

No! I don’t want it. My place is here with my wife.’

I will go with you,” I managed, forcing Caelan to silence.

Idella shrieked, begging him not to leave, but I closed my mind to it. My focus was on Ivie. If she could take me away from this doomed world then so be it.

A white hot fury rose from the depths of Caelan’s mind assaulting my every fibre. I would not bend or break. I was in control. There was no stopping me.

Idella. Don’t make me leave her.’

Very well,” Ivie smiled, stepping close and taking Caelan’s free hand. “Hold tight, or you’ll die.”

Caelan? Please don’t leave me. Please, Caelan. I love you. I need you here.”

Idella’s pleading drowned away as all vision faded, replaced by a choking darkness. In the moment between worlds, all I could feel was Ivie’s hand. The temptation to desert Caelan in the nothingness and search another body eked, but curiosity stopped me. I had never known of anyone moving worlds, and Ivie seemed more than adept; it was fascinating and yet terrifying. And so was she.

A swathe of emerald sky beckoned, the new world was much brighter and the crisp air chilled around me. Slushed snow gathered in clumps, melting as a far away sun blinked on the horizon. Despite the cold beauty, I could tell something rancid lingered in the air. An acrid smell, like rotting meat.

The second sun will rise soon, and when it does the attack will continue.”

I stared at Ivie. Her boots pounded on the stone tiles, my own stuck as I tried and failed to avoid crimson patches littering the floor. With each step the stench intensified. A cold shiver ran through me – I knew that smell too well. The courtyard ahead was stained red with drying blood, and as I hurried on the source became clear. To one side sprawled dead bodies burning. Vomit started to rise in my chest, I clenched my eyes, there was nowhere free of the bloodbath.

I lost many soldiers yesterday. We can’t even bury them, it’s too dangerous.”

How?” I spluttered out, repulsed. My eyes met hers, a dangerous glint stared back.

When Ancha rises, you’ll understand. We must head inside now, for our safety.”

I told you to stay away from her…’

Ignoring Caelan, I hurried after Ivie into a building as bloody as the floor. Inside seemed the opposite; flickering lights shared charcoaled walls coated in dust. It was not homely at all. Nothing here seemed to be. We stopped outside a plain door; Ivie unlocked it and entered. I followed with caution, wondering why I wasn’t running far from her. The click of a lamp lit the windowless room, revealing a dark wooden desk covered in drawings and plans. I eyed them with curiosity.

I suppose you are wondering why someone like me would need your help?” Ivie smiled and inched closer, her breath tickling my face. “I need something from you.”

Shivers rolled over me as Ivie’s hand stroked up my arm. Long fingers wound around my wrist. Glancing down, her other hand joined the first, snapping a bracelet around my skin. A jolt surged through me. I gasped for breath.

Now, Caelan, feel free to regain some control. They cannot silence you now.”

I… uh?”

The words were not mine. Control had vanished. And I was now relegated to what—an observer?

I floundered, sinking in a sea of Caelan’s soul; every ebb of the waves pulled me under.

Panic seized my mind and left me breathless.

Once again, I was helpless.

“… Thank you?”

You’re welcome,” Ivie said, shadowed grey eyes piercing straight through Caelan, to me. “What is their name? Where do they come from?”

No! How can this be? Nothing should stop me… It doesn’t make sense…’

Well?’ Caelan growled.

…Ashi.’

It couldn’t be the end, I would not believe it. I sent an onslaught of mental probes, but met with iron walls.

They call themselves Ashi. But I don’t understand what is going on—”

Your body was a vessel for another mind. I made you irresistible and they took the bait. I will have to find other ways to thank you… But for now, let’s get rid of the audience.”

I watched through Caelan’s eyes as Ivie bent down beside the desk to retrieve a glass jar from a small cupboard. She placed it down with care, alongside a silver pipe which glinted in the lamplight. Caelan showed curiosity, but I knew exactly what this was. Ivie hoped to separate us. I had fought against this before, and won. I would do it again. The trick was timing and strength – thankfully I knew what I was doing now, having hopped around many heads.

Caelan flinched as the silver pipe pierced his skin, slipping into a vein. Pulses of magic jolted through Caelan’s body trying to disconnect me from his mind. Instead I dug deeper, my consciousness clawing onto anything it could, clinging to every fibre, grasping at every corner.

Natou porufo telemi,” Ivie called, reaching to hold the bracelet.

Despite everything, I could feel parts of my mind slipping away, being dragged from hiding. With my last ounce of strength I held on… and failed.

Ivie’s voice echoed sweetly as my senses dulled, “you and I have seen the end. Now it’s time to show you…”

 


~Ivie~

Ancha burned overhead with unyielding power, forcing soldiers from both sides to seek shelter or be baked in their blood-soaked armour. Its midday position killed any who dared to oppose it. Keid, the first sun, brought light. Zosma, the third, gave peace from Ancha’s ferocity. Light, death, peace. The cycle of the day bore great similarity to life itself.

My finger hovered over a button, one press and today’s skirmish could be won. Not that it would help in the overall war. The enemy had hundreds of soldiers lined up for the slaughter. Their will was almost as great as my own.

I would not bow before anyone.

All my years of discovery and patience turned them against me. Hatred clouded their minds, fuelled their war against me.

And yet I would win, or I would destroy everyone.

Click.

Quick explosions shattered windows and collapsed the ceilings of surrounding buildings. Ancha’s relentless intensity bore down and men wailed in agony.

Silence broke through as each life was snuffed.

Too easy.

A gleeful smile curled at my lips. I turned away from the floor-length window and returned to my desk. Twinkling in a jar sat Ashi – helpless, alone, and mine. Things were finally falling into place. Behind me, Lumi struggled to carry a large sleek ball. I helped her place it down and marvelled at our contraption. It was perfect.

Is it over?” Lumi asked, coiled brown hair falling from the ribbon at her crown; dark eyes darted to the rising smoke outside full of worry.

Yes,” I replied running my fingers along a panel edge. “Ancha provides, once again.”

Good. Now we can concentrate on soldier numbers. We are getting dangerously close to breaking point… Is the next batch ready?”

Not yet. Give me until Ancha has set,” I said, my frown deepening; my stomach had barely changed shape.

Lumi lingered a moment before continuing, “it’s getting harder, isn’t it?”

I didn’t answer. It was shameful. I was regenerating my body enough after each time, it should be working; after all procreating was the main function of a human body.

Perhaps I could—”

No,” I stopped her. “It would take too long to sequence your data. Only mine can ensure our survival now.”

What about the golem? Perhaps it could be placed as a guard for now while you make more soldiers.”

It’ll be useful soon enough, Lumi. You don’t need to worry about guards. As soon as we have word where it needs to go, it’ll be sent. I want to kill the bastards and end this war now. Our prototype ensured this will work.” My eyes rested on the jar, “this one is enough. They have the strength we require.”

I’m sorry, I just worry too much. I mean it’s been so long and all the blood is just so…”

Messy?” I took Lumi’s hand and squeezed it, “I know you hate it, but it will be over soon. You are key to our survival, I can’t process the soldiers without you. And once it is done—”

I’ll be getting as far away from this place as I can. Another world, if you’d take me. I’ve had more than enough of my share of death,” Lumi said pulling from my grasp. “Everyone around us keeps dying.”

I paused. Her words stung, but I would not let the hurt spread. She would just be another who abandoned me. Like everyone else.

You may do as you wish.”

The eerie silence suited my foul mood. Ancha had set hours ago and finally I was ready to bring forth the newest soldiers. My boots thumped along the tiled corridor as I passed empty rooms; it was only me and Lumi left now to man the laboratory. There were rooms filled with the men I had saved, ones who helped to provide what was required for more soldiers, but given the chance they’d flee. I didn’t care what happened now, there would be no need for them once the war ended. Their data, however, was much more valuable. From that I could spawn the perfect humans needed for my tasks; children who grew up to adulthood in days and lived for years. A smile crept on my face. It would be glorious.

Ivie?”

I paused to turn. Caelan walked from the doorway. His brown dishevelled hair had been combed backwards and a new life seemed to glow in him; gone was the slightly hunched overworked farmer. Caelan’s green eyes sought mine.

Ah, Caelan, you are looking good. I trust you are well since I plucked out your invader?”

Well? My body feels like it is twenty years old again…” his smile faded as his words turned bitter. “But I don’t care. I didn’t want to survive, I wanted to be left alone on my world with my family. I had accepted my fate, but now I am here.”

Surely here isn’t too bad. You have as much as I can give during the midst of war and I only ask—”

I will give you no more, Ivie. What have you done with the other children you have taken from me?”

Furious, I hissed, “I am creating an army. We are under attack and our only survival is to keep taking down their soldiers and removing their leaders. I even changed my data to make the perfect fighters to combat loss of life. I have taken nothing; in fact, you have given a lot to my cause.”

You take my children and send them to die; you tricked me.”

I paused. It was true, in some strange way; their data did come from him and could be called his children. He didn’t understand though. They were needed, expendable. Nothing but more data. The other men were becoming unusable and Caelan’s body wouldn’t last much longer. I needed more. I was, after all, fanatical about exploring how to make the perfect data, and the perfect soldiers. I could make bodies free of illness or defects, give them keen eyesight and night sight. My soldiers battled on until the very end; my own data within them ensured loyalty.

You may believe that, but they protect me, protect us. Without them I would be dead right now.”

And so would I, as I wanted.”

Enough,” I snapped. “Please return to your quarters. I have work to do.”

My prison, don’t you mean? As I’m sure you want to keep me here,” he growled, stomping closer. “Hide all you like from me Ivie, one day you’ll realise the morality of your actions.”

Tearing my eyes from the fury in his, I hurried onwards, hoping he didn’t follow. The door slammed behind me and I keyed in the code to lock the door. Nobody was getting inside. The incubating room had the best defences of all the rooms in our location. One disturbance could halt the production and cause catastrophe, it couldn’t be allowed. Especially now. Tanks filled every space from floor to ceiling. Processed amniotic fluid, mixed with artificial waters, provided a womb until each soldier had reached maturity. As they grew, memories collected and passed on from others before them were placed into their minds. Each soldier stronger than the one before.

Lumi perched in a corner assessing their progress; she knew how every machine worked and created them herself. I moved towards one and sighed. Would I even survive the process this time? I lifted my shirt, my rounded belly now fitting perfectly into the concave portion of the machine, though it had taken much longer than I planned. One press of a button and the whirring began, suctioning my belly until it formed a perfect seal.

I counted; one, two, three.

Biting back a squeal, a sharp pain seared through my body. From the newly created hole the children were removed and sent to tanks.

Each transference was harder.

Black spots clouded my vision, I could feel myself fading away.

The whirring slowed as the machine gently freed me. The hole closed with neat, perfect stitches, another for my collection of silvery scars. With heavy steps, I found my way to a chair and fell into it.

The golem is ready for setup, when you have recovered,” Lumi said, passing me a foul drink to heal.

Perhaps those children would be the last I created; any more and my death was certain. My eyes flicked across the desk to my newest creation, charging its batteries. It would be our saviour. It had to be.

 


 

~Ashi~

 

Natou athimise.”

Unfamiliar eyes opened, sharing a detailed view of the world. Colours more vibrant, very clear and focussed. A face moved into view and stared back, grey eyes and chestnut hair in a side braid. I knew her, she—

A black hatch opened at my new chest revealing circuit boards and tubes; slender fingers pushed an ignition capsule inside. I wasn’t sure how I knew that. New thoughts circulated, routes planned, a destination set.

Her eyes lit up with fervent lust, “do you hear the fire burning? It will call your name. Bring me a new tomorrow… Win my war.”

I opened my mouth to speak… no words came forth. Eyes moved downwards, catching the light glimmering off the glossy black exterior. What had I become? This wasn’t human…

Grey eyes found mine once again, pink lips whispered, “and remember, you are dangerous… but so am I. Now go.”

Dawn’s light sent streaks of yellow through the sky, illuminating a path to my enemy. I remember now. My name is Ashi. I should be far away from this place. Instead, I fought the mechanical contraption which held me, travelling towards her enemy. The clacking of metallic footsteps kept calling my name.

Ashi.

Ashi.

Ashi.

To what end?

Dangerous.

You and I have seen the end…

Ivie’s words burned in my mind. This prison would be my last.

I glanced around with robotic eyes, assessing each detail that passed me. Being inside a machine was different, everything more streamlined and fluid. I thought jump and the machine soared high in the air, but it only worked if it forwarded us to the destination. I had tried to override it all. There was nothing my consciousness could attack; no circuits, no code. As with our arrival to this world, I believed it to be magic.

Fire littered the ground slick with oils; columns of smoke billowed to the green sky. Every detail now shone in my eyes, life given to every last thing. We – the machine prison and myself – searched for something, perhaps someone; this whole land was foreign to me. All night we’d been propelled forwards, sneaking into vents away from armoured soldiers hacking each other to death. Now we had reached a new area, grass grew high in the places fire hadn’t touched. Upwards we’d climbed walls of polished stone, our shared eyes taking in a view of a war-torn land. And yet, we continued. Fire became the cover, roaring to our drum beat. I could feel the end now.

Nimble legs pulled us down a pipe, navigating the tubes with expertise. I looked down at the prison I inhabited: sleek and black, with short armoured legs which now tucked into the round machine. A purposeful design. This was made for war. I almost looked like…

I need to get out!

New voices echoed along the pipework, we stopped and the machine churned faster.

Ashi. Ashi. Ashi.

Plates moved, folded inwards to spikes; the core began to heat and bubble. One last push and we fell to the ground. For a second, faces of horror filled my vision as metal projected throughout the room.

And then they were gone.

None left but me.

Paralyzed, unable to free myself of the machine which now didn’t exist. Tethered to nothingness. I couldn’t fight, there was nothing to battle.

All I could do was be.

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31
Short Stories

To Haunt Or Not To Haunt

I scoff at my friend. It’s Halloween, and he just dared me to go into the haunted Roxbee Manor and stay there until midnight. Everyone knows that it’s decorated especially for Halloween every year. It’s not really haunted.

I grin at him and head towards the house. Through the wrought iron gates and up the gravel driveway, I feel a slight shiver down my spine as I step onto the porch and the steps groan under me, but I brush it aside. Still, I slip a hand in my pocket to reassure myself that my knife is there. In case I get bored and decide to whittle, I tell myself.

I push the door open and stifle a yell at the sight of the ghastly green figure looming in front of me. Psssh, it’s just a trick with gas and lights. I grit my teeth and walk right through it, and it fades away with a keening wail. Just a trick with gas and lights, I tell myself, feeling smug.

The Roxbee Manor is huge, so I decide I might as well explore. Where to start? Well, if I’m going to do this logically, it makes sense to do the downstairs and then go upstairs. So I close the door most of the way, making sure to wedge a brick in it so it can’t close on me. I’m not an idiot, after all.

There’s another ghost in the entryway and I walk right through it as well, and again there’s a wail as it evaporates. I try the doors that line the paneled hall and find that the first eight are locked, but the ninth is not. I shrug and go in.

A swarm of hornets buzz angrily, and fly in a tornado shaped mass around the room. I drop to the floor and slither across the room, jump up and open the window. A rush of frigid October air comes in, and within a few minutes, the hornets are flying to the floor, too chilled to fly. I smirk as I shut the window and walk out of the room, careful to shut the door behind me.

The next unlocked door opens to the kitchen. A couple skeletons are merrily salting and peppering a pot on the huge old wood fire, and when I go over and peer in, I’m horrified to see a little kid struggling in the water. It’s just starting to get hot. The skeletons ignore me until I go to lift the kid out. Then, they rattle their bones angrily and jab me in the ribs with their spoons. One of them grabs a knife. I back away, hands raised, and look at the room. I have to do something, but what? The skeletons rattle their bones again and go back to seasoning the pot, and it dawns on me. Bone. You can burn bone.

I go to the woodstove and open the door that feeds the firebox. The skeletons ignore me, and the kid is starting to cry. I grab the skeleton closest to the knife, and shake it hard so it falls into a few pieces, then I scoop the bones up and stuff it into the firebox. Rinse and repeat with the second, slam the door, and grab the kid out of the pot. As soon as I set him on the table and take my hands off him so I can take off my hoodie and wrap him up, he disappears. There’s a whisper in the room, a little kid’s voice saying, “Thank you, Mister.”

“You’re welcome.” I find myself saying, then facepalm. It’s all just a bunch of tricks. Nothing here is real.

I look around the kitchen, but everything seems in order, so I leave. The last door leads to the back lawn and I decide to check that out later.

Back down the hall to the entry I go. Yet another ghost. “Come on, guys. This is getting boring.” I roll my eyes and walk through it, and up the stairs.

The stairs creak on every tread, no matter where I set my foot. I set my teeth and just go up.

There’s a suit of armor at the top of the stairs, and as I walk by, it swings the huge battle ax at me. I duck away and kick it in the back of the knee, and it wobbles, tumbles down the stairs and lands with a crash at the bottom. “Take that.” I scoff, brushing a cobweb off my shoulder.

The upstairs rooms are mostly open. The first couple are bedrooms, empty except for ghosts. I walk through the ghosts, just for the heck of it. This is actually kinda fun. I just have to remind myself that nothing is real, it’s all just tricks, and then it’s easy.

I enter another room and it’s a library. Huge. It smells dusty, and a bit like mildew. I groan, and then I freeze, because a creature has just walked into a beam of moonlight coming through the window. Half man, half wolf, and rapidly becoming more like a wolf. It snarls and growls, and I grab my knife and clutch it tightly. It hasn’t seen me yet. I slip into the shadows and lean against the bookshelf to catch my breath and breathe quietly, and the shelf tips, books slide off, and it lands with a heavy thud. The werewolf howls and I realize that the bookshelf has landed on it. I get up and run out of the room, through a ghost, slam the door, and run down the hall to the next room.

It’s nearly midnight, I realize, as I stare at the clock on the wall. That’s all there is in this room. A clock.

Ticking.

Ticking.

Ticking.

Ticking.

I can’t stand it anymore and I turn to leave, just as the clock strikes midnight. In front of me, blocking the door, are a dozen ghosts, a swarm of hornets in the shape of a curvy woman, two skeletons and a little boy, a werewolf, and a suit of armor with it’s helmet on backwards. I shudder, then I grab tighter onto reality and remind myself that it’s just a trick. I reach out and turn the helmet around so it’s on straight.

The visor clicks open and I’m staring into angry green eyes that slowly calm. “Thank you, sir.” It bows and walks past me, towards the clock. The clock grows larger and the suit of armor just walks into it and disappears. The ghosts are next, each one solidifying into a woman in a maid’s uniform. They curtsy and go past me, into the clock and disappear, one by one.

The hornets morph into a richly dressed woman with sharp features. She gives me a curt nod. “Thank you. I am glad to be released.” She stalks past me and into the clock. The skeletons grow flesh and skin and take on the form of a couple in cook’s uniforms, and they take the little boy’s hands and walk by, smiling at me. The little boy giggles at me.

The werewolf is the last. He shifts to a man with gray hair, and nods to me. “Thank you.”

I nod back. “You’re welcome. I think. What was that all about?”

He sighs. “We were trapped in the forms that we really are. I am – was – a werewolf, attractive on the outside and a monster on the inside. My wife was bitter and angry like a nest of hornets. The maids were absent and neglectful of their duties and the cook and his wife did not love their son. The butler was too strict and cold. It has taken one hundred and sixty four years for us to learn the lesson and now we are freed. Thank you.” He nods again and walks to the clock, and disappears.

The clock shrinks back to normal size and resumes ticking. It’s 12:01. I go downstairs slowly and outside, down the gravel driveway and out the wrought iron gates, past my friend, and home.

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11
Short Stories

Heart of the Dragon

“We have to help him!” the child exclaimed.

“We can’t,” was her mother’s stern response. “Now come!” She took the girl’s hand and pulled her.

“No!” the girl cried. She pulled hard enough to free herself from her mother’s grasp and ran over to the boy on the side of the road, taking hold of his arm and not letting go. “I won’t leave him!”

The child she had latched herself to was small and frail. He was covered in mud from head to toe. He was only half-conscious, gazing at them uncertainly. He was young, too. Close to the girl’s five years of age, to be sure.

“Amice!” her mother cried, turning and giving her a stern glare. “Come. Now.”

“No!”

Her mother sighed and rolled her eyes. Amice’s own brown eyes were defiant as she stubbornly sat in the mud beside the boy.

“You horrid creature,” her mother said. “Fine!” She stepped over to them.

Amice gasped. “Really?” she asked, her eyes brightening.

“Yes,” her mother sighed. She took the boy in her arms as he finally passed out. “The last thing we need is another mouth to feed,” she said. Nonetheless, she began walking with the boy towards home, Amice refusing to release his hand the whole way.


Ten Years Later

“Blake!” Amice called as she raced up the path towards him. “Wait!”

The tall young man paused and turned to see the teenaged girl approaching. She was carrying an empty wicker basket. He grinned at her and waited. “Going to the market?” he asked when she had caught up.

“Yes,” she said as they fell into step together. “Mary needs more vegetables for dinner tonight. What about you?”

“We just need something for dinner,” he replied with a chuckle. He glanced over at her and admired her long, brown hair. It was braided front to back and tied up to keep it all out of her way as she worked. She looked over at him curiously.

“What is it?” she asked, reaching up to feel her braids. “Do I have something in my hair?”

“No,” he said quickly. “Sorry. I was just thinking.” He shook his head. What was that feeling he’d just had?

“Oh,” she said, relieved. She brought her hand back down. “About what?”

Shoot. He ran his fingers through his ashy-black hair as a stall as he thought. “What to get for dinner,” he lied. “Miss Leah told me to get whatever I wanted, so long as it was affordable.”

She grinned. “You’re so lucky the blacksmith and his wife are so kind to you,” she said.

“Yes, I am,” he agreed with a matching grin. “But no one will ever compare to your kindness.”

She shook her head. “All I did was ask Sir Byron to give you a job.”

“You took me in when I was sick and alone and you nursed me back to health,” he pointed out. “Then you begged Sir Byron to give me a job.”

“I was young,” she said.

“Are you saying your heart of gold has withered?” he teased.

She laughed. “If only,” she said. “It still gets me into far too much trouble.”

“Trouble?” he asked. “You? Nah.” He laughed.

She laughed and lightly punched his shoulder. “I’m lucky Lady Byron is just as kind as I am,” she replied.

“Almost as kind,” he corrected her. “I do remember her telling you ‘no’ once in awhile.”

“Only because she cares about everyone in the house. I still have to learn…about that…” She shifted her eyes to the side as she confessed.

“You will,” he said with a shrug. “It takes time.”

She gave him a sidelong glance. “And how exactly would you know?” she asked.

He shrugged. “Just seems to me like something experience teaches you.”

She laughed. “Like you’ve had so much experience?”

“More than you.”

“In your dreams.”

They shared a laugh together as they arrived at the marketplace and wove through the merchants and artisans selling their goods. The two stayed together as they bought the food they needed, chatting about this and that. When Amice’s basket was quite full, he asked, “Can I carry that for you?”

She scoffed. “I’m not some–”

She was interrupted by a commotion going on not far off. Looking over, the two soon discovered the cause.

A dragon.

The white dragon was breathing fire as it began to fly in circles all too close to the marketplace. People ran, but the fire didn’t actually catch on anything.

“Blake!”

Blake tore himself away from glaring at the white dragon to look at his frightened friend, pulling on his arm. He obliged her, struggling to act scared as he followed her in search of cover.

The event only lasted a few minutes. As suddenly as the dragon had come, it left. There was silence in its wake. The marketplace occupants afraid to say or move too much in case it might bring the dragon back.

Blake was the first to move. Certainly, nothing they did now would make the dragon come back. It had been a warning, nothing else.

He took Amice’s basket that still rested upon her arm. Gladly, some of the vegetables were still inside it. “Let’s hurry home,” he said gently. Wide-eyed, Amice nodded. She clung to his free arm as he walked her back to Sir Byron’s castle.

“Stay inside,” he told her as he left her at the door. He turned.

“Where are you going!?” she asked breathlessly.

“I’ve gotta go check on Carl and Leah,” he said over his shoulder.

“No!”

That made him pause and look over at her.

“Come inside,” she told him. “Now. Please.”

He grinned and faced her fully. “I’ll be fine,” he said. “Don’t worry.” Before she could respond, he turned and raced away. She called his name, but he didn’t even hesitate. She took a step out of the doorway.

“Amice!” her mother cried, grabbing her arm. “Inside, now! There’s a dragon!”

“But–”

“NOW!”


The dragons stared each other down. The pure white dragon with golden talons against the black dragon with ashen-grey talons. It felt like an eternity later when the white one finally spoke.

“You are far too young to claim an entire town as your own. And it’s not like you’re doing anything with it. These people are thriving.”

“It doesn’t matter what I do with my town or how young I am,” the black one argued. “It is mine and I demand you leave. Now.”

“Sorry, boy,” she replied, “but I will do nothing of the sort. This is my town, now, and I shall do as I please. Now shoo, child. I need my rest.”

“No,” he replied. “You will leave.”

Now the white dragon was growing angry. Smoke drifted up from her lips as she stood tall. “Leave my dwelling!” she cried, blowing fire at him. He had no choice but to leap into the air and fly off. He was no match for this dragon. He needed to think of something else.


The townspeople gathered in the square. Lady Byron was usually the one to manage the town in her husband’s stead, but Bishop Cooper beat her to the square. He stood at the raised dais, holding his hands out to calm the crowd. “I have heard the word of God,” the Bishop cried. The people gathered began to quiet and listen. “The Lord our Father has spoken to me,” he said again. “This dragon has been sent by Satan himself. We must atone for our sins by killing it. Gather all the metals you own! We must make weapons!”

“No!” came a young woman’s cry. Everyone’s head turned to stare at meek little Amice. Despite her nervousness at the attention, she spoke strong and loud. “The dragon has not hurt anyone else yet, has it? Perhaps it just…I don’t know! Maybe it’s hurt or scared. We should try to see what it–”

“She speaks lies!” the Bishop cried. The heads swiveled back to him. “She must be working with the Devil! Do not listen to her!”

“But I–”

“Speak no more, witch! Or you shall be burned at the stake!”

Whispers began circulating around her as her face went red with embarrassment. She heard the word ‘witch’ more than once. She covered her face and ran.

“Amice!” She recognized Blake’s voice, but she didn’t stop. She couldn’t bear to face him. She couldn’t face anyone.

Hours later, he found her at the ruins just outside of the town’s borders that they used to play in all the time as children. Only they knew of their existence. He approached her where she sat hugging her legs and crying into her knees.

“Amice…” he said softly, kneeling down beside her. The wild honeysuckle vines entangled themselves within her hair and limbs. She looked so much a part of the scene that Blake had to remember that this was real. That this was his friend. And she needed him.

“I’m not a witch,” she choked out, her voice barely audible.

“I know,” he said. Without thinking, he reached out and took her into his arms. “I know.”


“What are we going to do?”

“Sir Byron is out to war. There are no knights nearby!”

“We’re doomed!”

The people of the town crowded into Lord Byron’s castle. It was the safest place anyone could think of with its tall, stone walls and barricades. Their weapons had been useless against the fierce dragon. Seven people had died. Amice and the other servants struggled to accommodate everyone while Lady Byron tried to calm them.

“Ladies and gentlemen, please!” she called from the doorway. She weaved her way to the center of the room. “Ladies and gentlemen!”

Blake searched the crowd for Amice, not really sure why it was such a big deal to him to see her. Though, they were very close friends. That was probably why. Things like this never happened much.

He paused when he saw Lady Byron in the center of the room, sighing in frustration before trying to call everyone’s attention once again. He blinked and looked down at the sword he was carrying. He didn’t exactly know how to use a sword, but he had figured it would be best to bring. Just in case. And now, it looked like it was needed to be used in a non-typical way.

He gazed around the room. Sir Byron always had–There! He went to a corner of the room and approached the suit of armor. He stepped up on its raised dais and drew his sword, slamming it against the suit. The suit smashed and banged to the floor.

The noise sounded like it lasted for an hour. But when it finally stopped, everyone was silent and staring at him.

“Lady Byron wishes to say a few words!” he announced to the crowd. Obediently, the townspeople turned their heads to see and listen to their Lady.

She let out a breath. “Thank you, Blake,” she said with a nod to the teenaged boy. “Ladies and gentlemen,” she went on. “Please remain calm. We will decide how to combat this issue of the white dragon. In the meantime, please feel welcome in the castle where it is safest.”

“We need a maiden!” a man cried.

“Yes, a maiden!” another one called.

“An offering!”

“Please,” Lady Byron said. “I will discuss the issue with the other leaders of the town in my husband’s absence. Bishop Cooper, Father Took, please come with me.”

The crowd began to mumble with each other and settle in as Lady Byron and the two religious men left the room.

“Blake!” Blake blinked and looked over to see Amice approaching. He gave a small grin and stepped off the dais, sheathing his sword. “That was brave!” she told him.

“What, knocking that down?” he asked, looking down at the suit of armor’s clattered remains. “I was just helping Lady Byron is all.”

She grinned at him. “Well, thank you,” she said. “It’s been hard since everyone started showing up.”

He nodded. “I’m sure,” he said. “What can I do to help?”

Blake fell back into his old role as another servant in the house as he helped his old colleagues settle the townspeople in. After supper, Lady Byron and the men still had not come out, and everyone was on edge.

“You don’t really think they’ll offer up a maiden, do you?” Amice asked Blake as they rolled out cots. She had tried to sound casual, but he could hear the edge in her voice. The nervousness.

“Lady Byron would never allow it,” he replied. “That never works.”

She gave a small grin. “You’re right,” she said. “I just–”

She stopped when the door to the room Lady Byron and the men had shut themselves away in opened. The room felt silent and the tension grew as the men walked out, heads high and looking quite proud of themselves. Lady Byron came out last, downcast. Blake and Amice gazed at each other, fearing the worst, as the men made their way to the center of the ballroom. Lady Byron, however, stayed by the door.

“Ladies and gentlemen!” the Bishop called out, though it was so quiet that all his voice did was echo throughout the room. “We have come to a decision. –The dragon is undoubtedly in need of a maiden tribute!”

There were a few gasps in the crowd. Amice was one of them. She held her hands to her mouth. This couldn’t be happening.

“We must offer it a maiden with the purest of souls!” he went on. He pointed a finger in the air. “And we know exactly which one!” His arm came down, his finger pointing directly in Amice’s direction. Blake held his breath. “The servant of this house, Amice!”

“NO!” Both Blake and Lady Byron called out against this choice.

“You did not clear this with me!” Lady Byron cried.

“We did not need to!” the Bishop called back to her. “You are but a woman and know nothing of these things!”

“We can’t sacrifice her!” Blake cried.

The Bishop turned to glare daggers at the insolent young man. “And why not!?” he demanded.

“Sacrificing maidens never works!” he called. “Dragons don’t care about them! It’ll eat her and keep up with whatever it’s doing here!”

The Bishop walked over to him, standing tall. He and Blake were the same height. “And what makes you think you know so much about dragons?” he asked quietly.

Blake faltered. After a moment, he let out a breath and stuck his hand out to the side protectively, knowing she was standing right there. “I won’t let you take her,” he said.

“I must go,” came her soft voice. Again, Blake faltered. He looked over to see her with her head down, hands clasped in front of her.

“Amice–”

“It’s worth a try!” she said, looking up at him. There were tears upon her cheeks. Fear behind the determination in her eyes. “If it’s for the safety of everyone, I’ll be glad to do it.”

Blake frowned and looked over at the Bishop. “What made you think she’s the one to be offered, anyway? Why not someone else?”

“Because ‘twas the word of God,” the Bishop said. “He spoke to me as we discussed the issue in the other room. He told me she would make the dragon quite happy.”

“You–”

“Take her!” someone cried.

“Hold him back!” another person called.

The crowd surged. They grabbed at Amice and pushed Blake away. Someone even managed to get his sword away from him.

He had the power to save her. Had the strength to knock them all down and take his friend and bring her to safety. But it would just cause more problems. More unnecessary deaths. He needed to be smart about this.

Amice allowed herself to be taken by the crowd. To be pulled and pushed through the ballroom. There was nothing she could do to stop this fate of hers she did not choose. But if it could possibly be of any help to the townspeople, she was glad to do it. She hoped Blake was wrong. She prayed that her sacrifice wouldn’t be in vain.

They wasted no time. Two big, burly men–local farmers–took hold of each of her arms and half led, half dragged her out of the castle. The entire town followed as she was taken away from her home, her family, out of the town. They took her to an open field quite a distance from town that contained but one tree and a view of the mountains not far off. She gazed about the crowd as they tied her to the lone tree. She couldn’t see Blake in the sea of faces. She wasn’t sure if this made her disappointed that he had given up on his fight for her so easily, or relieved that he wasn’t going to see her tied up so. Like a witch.

The Bishop gave Amice her Last Rites. He and Father Took performed a short ceremony before the sun began to set. As the darkness began to settle in, people began splintering off and going home.

Lady Byron, the Bishop, and Father Took were the last ones to leave.

“Go on, gentlemen,” Lady Byron said. “I would like a word alone with my servant girl.”

“I’m sorry, My Lady,” the Father said, “but we cannot leave you. We cannot risk your freeing her.”

“And where would she go!?” the woman demanded. All she got in response was silence as the men refused to leave. Finally, she let out a sigh and stepped close to Amice.

“I wish I could stop all of this,” she told the girl softly. “I’m so sorry.”

“I do not hold any anger or resentment towards you, My Lady,” the teenaged girl informed her with a soft grin. Lady Byron blinked and lifted her head, looking the girl in the eye for the first time since she had been condemned. “I know how much you want things to be done another way,” she went on. “I will watch over you from heaven.”

She couldn’t help herself. Lady Byron began to tear up. Which made Amice’s eyes begin to well with tears. The woman reached out and embraced the servant girl. Both were openly weeping by the time she pulled away.

“Come,” Father Took said with a bow. “The dragon will be here soon.”

There was nothing else to say. So Lady Byron wiped her tears as the Father led her away.

The Bishop stayed behind, lighting the torches that the townspeople had stuck into the ground. When all of them were lit, he approached Amice.

“You filthy witch,” he said, his voice low. “Your sympathy for the dragon is now your downfall. Do you really think this foul creature will spare your life?”

“I don’t know,” she said simply. “But I’m going to try to reason with it, yes.”

His face went dark. “May God have mercy on your soul.” With that, he turned and left her. She was now completely and utterly alone.


The white dragon sought the black one out that evening. She found him in a cave in the mountains, pacing. She approached him with an arrogant grin. “I saw the child being tied to the tree,” she informed him. “It seems they are offering me a little snack before I terrorize them. How sweet.”

“Leave her alone,” he growled, only just now turning to face her.

“Why?” she asked. “Is she special to you? How ridiculous. A dragon caring for humans.”

“Ridiculous or not, she’s on my land. So she’s mine to care or not care about as I please.” He hated to think of anyone–especially Amice–as a piece of property he owned. But it was the way dragons were. At least, the way they were with humans and other animals.
She merely grinned at him. “Then I suggest you just try to stop me from taking her.” Before he could respond, she turned and flew out of the cave.

“Dammit,” he muttered as he extended his wings and flew after her.


She was sure she dozed off every now and then. It felt like she was standing there forever. She thought she was dreaming when she heard the pounding of the dragon’s wings approaching. She blinked her weary eyes and looked up, seeing the stark white against the midnight sky. The dragon was here.

The dragon landed in front of her, its golden eyes staring at her. Amice couldn’t help herself. She was too scared to speak. She could see the malice in those eyes. She closed her own and braced herself as the dragon let out a cry.

Then there was another cry.

And a growl.

But still, she had not been touched by tooth or talon.

Slowly, she peeked open one eye.

There was another dragon! And it was…fighting the white one? This new dragon was so dark that it almost melted into the sky. Sometimes she could only tell where it was by its silver talons. No, not silver. More like grey.

The black dragon was also much smaller than the white one. But it fought ferociously. And…Amice realized there was something familiar about it.

She had never seen a dragon in her life until the white one had shown up. How could he–for she knew from the feeling of familiarity that the black dragon was male–possibly be familiar to her?

Soon enough, the white dragon found an opening and took it, charging right at her. The black dragon let out a cry and shot for it, positioning itself between the white dragon and Amice. Was he…protecting her?

The dragons stared at each other, a growl emanating from one or the other’s snout every now and then. Smoke curled out of the black dragon’s nostrils and began surrounding the area.

Wait… Were they… Communicating? Something about the intensity in the air–or perhaps they way they were standing and looking at each other. It seemed that there were words being exchanged that she could not hear.

Eventually, the smoke began to burn Amice’s eyes, and she had to close them. She prayed and prayed for her life as she waited to see what would happen. She could feel the smoke growing thicker and thicker. But she realized that somehow she was not choking on it. For that, she was very grateful.

Then she heard the white dragon give another cry.

And she felt her bonds being cut.

She tried to open her eyes, but the smoke was far too thick. She covered her face with her arms to save her burning eyes as she stumbled about. She had to get out of this smoke!

She gasped as she felt sharp talons enclose around her waist. But they did not puncture her skin. The grip was gentle, though strong. She was lifted into the air as a voice in her head begged her not to scream.

Why wouldn’t she scream?

But she didn’t.

As her captor flew through the air, the wind forced her to still keep her eyes closed. Her hair whipped out of its braids as the parts of her dress not held by the talons threatened to rip off. Luckily, the flight wasn’t long. Just as suddenly as it had begun, the flight ended. She could feel the wind slow to a stop and she was gently placed back on the ground.

Finally, she was able to open her eyes. In front of her, the black dragon was setting its feet on the ground and folding in its wings, facing her. He gazed at her with his silver eyes. Those warm, inviting, familiar silver eyes.

She reached up for him and he brought his face down, allowing her to cradle his head in her tiny, little hands. She rested her forehead between his nostrils. She could see it in his eyes. He wasn’t going to hurt her.

“You saved me,” she whispered to him. “Thank you.” She gazed up into his eyes again. The drew her in. All she could do was stare. They seemed to be searching for something in her. Then she saw the hope inside them rise. Before she realized it, she was no longer holding a dragon’s snout. Rather, it was Blake’s face in her gentle grasp. She gasped.

“Please don’t be afraid,” he said, quickly bringing his hands up to hold hers to his face. But his touch was not forceful or demanding.

She just grinned at him. “I’m not,” she said softly. “I always knew there was something special about you.”

The grin he gave her was one of relief and pure joy.

“We can’t go back,” he said somberly. “The ruins are nearby. They’re far enough from the white dragon’s territory that she shouldn’t find us,” he said. “And my smell is much fainter when I’m human. So that should throw her off our trail.”

“You’re coming with me?” she asked, eyes wide.

“I could never be anywhere without you,” he replied.

She gave a smile that brightened her entire face. He loved that smile. She lifted her face and brought his closer. Their lips touched. Their kiss was deep and passionate. They both knew, now, that everything was going to be just fine.

The End

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Flash Fiction, Prose

The India Incident

“It’s kind of a funny story, but…” I let my voice trail off, giggling nervously as I tapped my nails on the dark wood of my dining room table. I’d invited Nirali over for lunch so we could talk about her wedding. HER WEDDING! How could I tell my best friend I wouldn’t be going to her wedding? That I physically COULDN’T go?

“But what?” Nirali asked.

“But.” I groaned and buried my face in my hands.

“Angel, what is going on with you today?”

“Oh, the hell with it. Nirali, I love you, and I love Taj, and I am so happy for both of you, BUT,” I took a deep breath, “I can’t come to the wedding, I’m sorry.”

“Wait, what?”

“I can’t come to the wedding.”

“What do you mean you can’t come to the wedding? Angel you are my best friend. You HAVE to be there.”

“Well I can’t be. Trust me, I wish I could be, but I literally cannot be there.”

“What the hell are you talking about?”

“Well like I said it’s a funny story.”

“Angel, there is NOTHING funny about you blowing off my wedding. We’re paying for your airfare and you are staying with my family. They love you and… and… What the fuck is going on with you?”

“It isn’t about the money Nirali, and I am NOT blowing off your wedding.”

“Then why the hell are you doing this to me?”

Watching Nirali tear up was agonizing. We’d been best friends for years, but I never considered what that might eventually mean. “Nirali, it isn’t about you. I just can’t go to India.”

“What? Why? That doesn’t make any sense. You have a passport and…”

“And I am legally not allowed to set foot in India.” I interrupted.

“You’re what?”

“I am banned from traveling to India. If I set foot on Indian soil, I’ll spend no less than twenty years in the Parappana Agrahara Prison.”

“Angel, that’s really not funny. You shouldn’t even kind of joke about being sent there.”

“I’m not joking. I am literally banned from the country for life.”

“How is that even possible?”

I groaned again. I hated telling this story, but I really had no choice. “So remember I told you about my trip around the world?”

“That tour you took in college?”

“Yeah that one. Well, something happened at the very end of our time in India, I kind of assaulted someone.”

“YOU WHAT?”

“It was an accident, I swear!”

I knew I’d have to start at the beginning so I just started telling Nirali my tale. The yearlong tour had been going well. It was set up so that we had a home base for a month in various areas of the world. In Europe we’d stayed in Paris while we were touring Western Europe and then Bucharest for Eastern Europe. From there we went to Cairo to tour Northwestern Africa and then Accra for Northeastern Africa. We spent our fifth month in Cape Town before heading to Dubai and then New Delhi.

Everywhere we stopped, we spent four days a week volunteering at schools for underprivileged children, and then the other three days we would spend either resting at home base or out on various excursions. At the end of our time in India, our last major excursion was to Mumbai so we could visit the Gateway to India, the Siddhivinayak Temple, and the Elephanta Caves.

Once we were done, we were supposed to take a train from Mumbai back to home base in New Delhi so we could catch our flight to Bangkok for the East Asia leg of our trip. The train ride typically took around 24 hours, and even though we pulled out of the station late on Thursday morning there was still more than enough time to catch our flight the following night… or so we thought.

The train ride was a mess. There was no food. People were packed in tighter than sardines in a can. The limited bathrooms on the train were not working, and even if they had been, the overcrowding would have prevented anyone from getting to them. Our group had taken to trying to hop off the train at stops to use the restrooms when we could, which seemed like a great plan… until four of us were left behind during a bathroom break. We ended up having to take a taxi to the next station.

Now, most taxis in rural India are a LOT smaller than they are in the States. With my 250-pound frame squished in the back with two other people, one next to me and one lying across our laps, the trip to the next station was not easy. The three of us were pretty jealous of the petite redhead that was allowed to ride up front. We barely caught the train before it pulled out of the station and collectively vowed that everyone from the group would just need to remain together for the rest of the trip. We were only about eight hours from New Delhi, we could hold it that long. That’s what we thought, anyway.

About an hour or two after we left the station, the train came to a stop in the middle of nowhere. There were a couple of cows on the tracks. It took nearly four hours until we were going again. At that point we knew we were going to be late. One of our tour guides let us know we’d have to head right to the airport at this point, so at the next station she hopped off the train just long enough to phone home base and ask them to grab our things and take them to the airport. It’s a good thing I’d thought to pack before heading to Mumbai. We all started to get a little anxious at how long the trip was taking. We really didn’t want to miss our flight.

As we waited to head out, we started to notice that it seemed as though it was taking awhile for us to leave the station. Most of our group was starting to get concerned. I watched as several people checked the time every few minutes. Something was wrong. Again. We’d been sitting there for nearly an hour when our tour guides suddenly ordered us all off the train. Another train traveling ahead of us had broken down so ours would not be able to move until the rails ahead were opened again. We needed a new plan.

The rail company, having heard our plight, offered us a bus for the last leg of the trip. The fifty or so of us were ushered out of the station, where we found a rather old tour bus idling. We knew there was no time to waste, so everyone hopped on. The bus was old enough to not have a working air-conditioner, but since the bus had a bathroom, we figured we could just keep sucking down bottles of water to stay cool.

Boy were we wrong.

We’d been on the road for barely an hour before the small toilet in the bathroom broke. All of three people had a chance to use it and the smell emanating from the back of the bus was atrocious. We’d only been able to get about a third of the windows on the bus wedged open. So now we had to sit on this hot, stinking bus for the next seven hours. We couldn’t drink water, we couldn’t go pee, all we could do was wait to get to the airport. The entire ride was just miserable.

We’d hit all kinds of traffic on the way in to the airport. The seven-hour drive took closer to ten. We were officially going to be late. Luckily, we were one of two tour groups that had booked the flight, there were no other waiting passengers. The other group was from Japan and they were on their way to Bangkok to catch a connecting flight to Osaka. That flight had just been cancelled due to weather, so their group didn’t mind our tardiness. Since everyone was fine with waiting, our tour guides that were with the folks at the airport were able to convince Air India to hold the flight.

When we got to the airport, we had to RUN for the plane. Running… not my thing. By the time we got to our gate, I felt like I was going to die. I knew I wasn’t actually going to die, but I certainly wasn’t in the best shape as I wedged myself into the tiny airplane seat.

Apparently one of the flight attendants noticed, and she graciously handed me an ice cold bottle of water. She was the tiniest little thing I’d ever seen, not even five feet tall, and probably weighing in well under a hundred pounds soaking wet, even in her heavy black and red sari. I thanked her profusely and downed the entire bottle in one shot. not even thinking about the consequences of having not seen a restroom for half the day. I regretted my decision almost instantly as we started taxiing to the runway. I really needed, no, I desperately needed to pee.

By the time we were in the air I could swear everything on the plane had a yellow tint to it. I needed the restroom NOW.

Unfortunately so did everyone else. The second the fasten seat belt sign came on, everyone from the bus ride rushed for the bathroom. I had a choice to make, fight the crowds and do the potty dance in the aisles or sit tight and wait for everyone to finish. I painfully chose the latter. The thought of peeing myself in the aisle of a 747 somewhere over the Bay of Bengal was just too much to bear, so I waited, and waited, and waited.

I felt like I was going to explode. When the aisles finally cleared. I raced to the back of the plane trying not to bump into anyone or anything along the way. I am sure I failed horribly, but I did not pay attention, I just barreled down the aisle.

Two minutes in the restroom and I felt like the longest day of my life was finally coming to an end. Nothing else could possibly go wrong at this point. I was so ready to just land in Bangkok and head to our new home base for a shower and some much needed rest.

As I finished up. I reached down to pull up my pants and, of course, at that exact second, the plane hit some sort of turbulence. The plane lurched to one side, sending me flying face first toward the rickety cantilever door. I reactively threw my hands out to stop myself but they landed on the door in such a way that instead of stopping, I unintentionally popped the door open launching myself face first out the door, bare assed to the world.

You would think being launched out of an airplane bathroom naked from your waist to your ankles would be embarrassing enough but no, the fates are much crueler than that. Just outside the door was the same flight attendant that has so graciously offered me water at the start of the trip. She was preparing drink service and was standing there with a fresh pot of coffee in each hand. As I flew out the door toward her, she stretched out her arms in an attempt to catch me. As you can imagine, a ninety pound woman trying to catch me must have looked like a mouse trying to catch a moose. I landed flat on top of her as the two scalding hot pots of coffee dumped all over us both.

I know I had to have looked like a beached whale as I frantically tried to scamper back into the bathroom. I was mortified. I sobbed as I tried to dry off. My skin was scaled and tender from the hot coffee, a huge section of my jeans was just completely soaked through. Everything was a mess.

I got myself cleaned up as best I could and exited the restroom to find all of the flight attendants on the plane helping the small woman up. I begged them to let me help but it was met with sneers and a firm “NO!” accompanied with orders to return to my seat.

I did as they requested. My walk of coffee-drenched shame was met with giggles from the Japanese tour group who were all seated in the back of the plane. Several people were pointing at their cameras and giving me a thumbs up. I even overheard the name Yamamotoyama, the current star sumo wrestler in Japan, pop up in excited conversation. His biggest claim to fame was being the heaviest recruit ever and he was wildly popular. As soon as I realized they were comparing me to him, any desire I’d had to go on the sumo excursion during the Japan leg of our trip evaporated.

I rushed to my seat and hid there, desperately wishing to become invisible. Twenty minutes later the same flight attendant I’d just flattened walked by with her partner serving drinks. I declined their offer of refreshments much to their visible relief.

The rest of the flight to Bangkok was uneventful aside from the occasional person asking what smelled like coffee. I’ve never been so embarrassed in my life.

As I was finishing the story Nirali jumped in. “Wait that was YOU?” she asked with a giggle. “That story was on the news for weeks.”

I groaned. “I had no idea it made the news.”

“Oh it did. My grandma was laughing about it for months. Holy shit Angel. I cannot believe you were the one, that is just too ironic. We HAVE to tell Gran when we see her. Do you know you broke that flight attendants arm?”

“Her wrist actually, but it was really more of a minor fracture. She was able to work the rest of the flight.”

“How did you find out about her wrist?”

“Well, when we landed they took down all of my contact info in case the airline wanted to speak with me further on the incident.” I replied, emphasizing ‘the incident’ with air quotes and an eyeroll. “It turns out that because her wrist was broken they had to report it to the Indian authorities. With the climate post 9/11 any violence on an airplane, even accidental, can be considered a crime.”

“But this really was an accident; they can’t blame you for that. It’s not like you were actually trying to hurt someone.”

“Yeah well, tell that to the very nasty man I spoke with at the Indian Consulate in Bangkok the following day.”

“Wait, what?”

“Yeah. The next morning while we were filling out an incident report with the tour about the whole thing, someone showed up to summon me to the Consulate of India. There I was told, in not so uncertain terms, that if I were to ever return to India I would be charged with assaulting and Indian citizen and thrown in the Parappana Agrahara Prison immediately. I still have the paperwork I was forced to fill out if you want to see it.”

Nirali just stared at me. “You really aren’t kidding, are you?”

“Not in the slightest.”

“Well I guess I need to talk to Taj and our parents about moving the wedding to the States.”

“Nirali, you really don’t have to do that just because of me. Both of your families live there and they will want you to have the wedding at home in Mumbai.”

“We’ll see, but Taj and I both really want you to be there. We wouldn’t even know each other if you hadn’t introduced us.”

We finished our lunch and tried our best to stay away from the topic of the wedding for the rest of the afternoon. We weren’t sure what was going to happen with it so we just avoided the subject. Nirali asked about the other parts of the tour and I was happy to reminisce about all the great experiences I’d had that year. Of course I didn’t discuss the fallout from the “India Incident” and how it affected my grad school internship in Tokyo that would be a story for another day.  

As Nirali was leaving to go home and tell Taj about the situation I’d inadvertently put them in, she suddenly burst out laughing.

“What’s so funny?” I asked as I hugged her to say goodbye.

“Oh nothing,” she said as she gave me a hug back. “I just realized that now I finally know the real reason you hate coffee so much.”

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Short Stories

Hollow Hearts

Her eyes flickered from corner to corner, taking in the empty space that seemed to surround her. No one ever seemed to notice the girl in the back of her room with scars up her arms and books hugged to her chest. They didn’t notice her unless they wanted to taunt her. They didn’t make her feel welcome unless they wanted to get in her pants to see just how far up her thighs the scars went. They wouldn’t talk to a freak like her. Not unless they wanted something she had that they didn’t. A girl would ask for a pencil or her life, it just depended upon the day. A boy would ask for her eraser or her virginity, and that just depended on who he was. Everyone would ask for her sanity, snapping bits and pieces off until there was nothing more than a whisper of what once was. The cry of what once was the best thing about her. Her brains were something she was exceedingly proud of, if she wasn’t wanting to kill herself at the moment. She was slinking away from the world of the living, quicker and quicker was her descent, but no one would acknowledge it. She had brains and beauty, but who were any of her classmates to notice? They kept on pushing her further and further to the edge of madness, where she clung on for dear life. Then, suddenly, she was falling. Her heart began to spiral into madness, her brain fell long before the rest of her body knew what was happening. At home her mother would look sullen, her face sunken in as if she had been through hardship, and she had. Her daughter was fading away, disappearing before her wary eyes.

“Mom, I don’t know how to handle living like this. I can feel parts of me falling beyond my grasp. I feel broken and trampled, and I can’t seem to find the glue that will put me back together. Mom, help.” But she knew deep inside that her mother wouldn’t–couldn’t–help, because she too was fading faster and faster from everything she knew. She would stay at home more and hide away in her room, falling into a depression that no one seemed to know the cause of.

“Sweetheart, you’re just fading away. Find someone who can color you back in so you can hold on a little longer.” The mother spoke with a short, clipped tone. She didn’t care how her daughter would end up, as long as she didn’t have to deal with her too much longer.

Her long forgotten brain clicked on at this statement. Why did someone else have to color her in? Why couldn’t she pick up a pen herself and change everything? The scars on her wrists and thighs were still there, but instead of taking her razor to them, she made art. She drew her story across the lines on her skin. She slowly found the pieces of her sanity that had been scattered in the wind. The people at her school stopped asking her for her life or her virginity. Instead, they started to see who she was behind the books and behind the scars. They began to take in the colors that danced across her skin and in her heart. She was no longer fading to gray, instead she started to fade from her old self. She started to blossom out of who she once was. Instead of dying, she was finally living.

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Short Stories

Ultimate Pot

Allen Hovland was a predictable man and always had been he was a little boy. He went to school on a regular basis, maintained a C+ average, and wasn’t one for sports, more into chess club and playing the piano. He listened to his mother when she told him to brush his teeth and take a bath. He always listened to what his mother told him and he made it through life nice and simple. When he was 18 he graduated from high school with all the other kids his age and went to college. When he was 22 he met his wife and they got married. When they finished college together, Allen got a job as a kindergarten teacher and his wife got a job working for a high school class. They had a child 3 years later, whom they sent to boarding school shortly after Allen found out his wife had cancer. Allen was left in a pickle, since his happy life was changed to a sad and unpredictable rollercoaster.

With all that had happened, it wasn’t expected that there would be new changes that would happen next in Allen’s short and predictable life. Allen had no idea what to do now that he was no longer young. His life was so predictable before but now it wasn’t.  He had no choice when it came to his next step in life, that involved take his wife to her appointments and therapy sessions. There seemed no way out of this spiralling down lifestyle, and he wanted an answer of what way he should go next. Then from somewhere in the sky a flyer flew onto his feet and he saw an ad for a support group for spouses who were going through the same thing. The doctor had told Allen before to go looking for a support group. He took this as a sign and planned to go to the meeting on his next available night which happened to be a Thursday night.

Allen called up his wife’s friends early on that Thursday and invited them over to have a nice shindig and watch over his wife while he went to this meeting. The wife’s friends arrived right in time, for him to get ready and go to this support group. When all her friends arrived and all the questions were met Allen went off to his meeting in hopes things would be good while he was gone. He got into his car and put on some hits from the 70’s the music his mother used to listen too. He liked the oldies when he was nervous or going to try new things, though usually the two fell under the same category. Allen drove off, heading downtown to the street, hoping to find the building on the first try so he doesn’t have to drive around the block a few times.  With luck on his side he found the building and a parking spot upfront. Allen thought to himself that luck was on his side.

The night streets of downtown were a different place. Some might compare it to the difference between the stages of a family’s new guard dog, with the city being the family and the people being the dogs. When the day is young the people are vibrant, excited and full of life much like that of a young puppy coming to his home for the first time. But when the night falls, that’s a totally different story. The dog is full grown now and is ready to defend its master, and not always in a conventional way. This is one of the lessons that Allen was about to learn.  Allen got out of his car and went to the door of the building. To his surprise, the door was locked. Allen didn’t bother to think that maybe there was another door to enter the building for the meeting like the flyer said, but he wouldn’t have known that because he didn’t bother to read the full ad anyway.

From the alleyway next to the building a short woman whiten the shadows of the night with dark brown hair and a baseball cap emerged from the alleyway was standing, decided and called Allen over. Allen was worried, not knowing what to expect but hoping that this was in some way connected to the support group that seems to be non-existent. By this time Allen was upset and scared and had no idea what path to travel on, but he never could say no to a woman and followed her around the alley where he was met by two thugs,  who then turned to the girl and talked in their street business code. Allen then got even more worried. He knew then that he was just about to feel the bite of the night time street, and this was the bark.

A third thug came forth from the shadows and started yelling at the girl and the thugs something about this not being the guy that they were waiting for, and that the guy knew who they were waiting for because he had met the man at the hardware store two days before. The four of them huddled and talked about what to do about Allen. They thought about it for a minute, then the man they were waiting for showed up. The man told them to back off from Allen, that their fight was not with Allen, and that if Allen had no idea what is going on to let him go. The head thug was not impressed that some guy he met at a hardware store was telling him what to do and how to run his business. The head thug then pulled out a pocket knife and pointed it at Allen and told the rest to back off. The thugs didn’t think they should listen to some hardware store man’s opinion.  Allen’s memory became foggy. After this all he could remember was after he woke up was that he was in his car passenger side with the hardware man driving.

Allen turned to the hardware man and asked him about what had happened and the man told him, “The less you know the better.” So, Allen kept his mouth shut and was thankful to be alive. Still upset about the support group was not there, he thought he would just call them in the morning and ask for more info. Allen then saw the hardware man light up a joint. Allen wasn’t impressed and explained that this was a non smoking car. The hardware man told him in a stern voice that he was driving and not Allen, and that the less Allen spoke now the better. Then the hardware man told him that his name was Josh and asked for direction to Allen’s place so he could drive him home.

It was a long trip home for Allen. Sure, it was only a twenty minute drive from his home to downtown, but the way Josh drove it took about another two hours. It wasn’t because Josh was driving slow, it was because he had about 10 places to stop at before he left the downtown area. Josh was a very fast driver in and out of the city, but it was because he knew the roads and was actually a very safe driver. His driving record was bad only because others didn’t share his point of view on the subject. Josh would drive so fast on the highway it impressed some people a lot; he had a history of making a forty-five minute trip in fifteen minutes. With the trip taking so long, it gave Allen and Josh some time to exchange small talk.

When they were for sure leaving the downtown area and going to Allen’s home, Josh took the new joint he had in his mouth and offered it to Allen. Allen had never done any form of drugs in his life and didn’t believe in the use of them. He wasn’t going to start today no matter how tempting it may have seemed. Josh was very surprised that Allen had never done drugs in his life. The only people Josh had met that had never done drugs was his parents, and even that was questionable. Allen didn’t like that Josh was smoking pot in his car, but he thought since Josh probably saved his life he wouldn’t bother him about the pot for a little while.

When Josh drove up to Allen’s house. Allen thanked Josh for all he had done and invited him into his house for coffee and food. Josh kindly accepted and followed Allen into the house where he met Allen’s wife and the wife’s friends. Josh liked a few and hit on them a bit in a joking matter. The women were surprised at how a mature looking thirty-two year old man was still using jokes and pick-up lines like a twenty-four year old. Eventually, Josh did get one of the girls’ numbers. Allen made a late dinner and they all sat around. When dinner was done, Josh got a ride with one of the girls and they all left together.

That night Allen had a dream about Josh and the pot. In the dream a black cooking pot appeared and the marijuana hopped into the cooking pot and grew till the cooking pot could not hold it any longer. Then the marijuana exploded out of the cooking pot for as far as the eyes could see. Then Josh appeared looking in surprise and joy, rolling and tossing the pot all into the air. He smoked a few joints till he was good and stoned and then, in the dark, a creepy voice that was not his own started to speak. He looked at Allen and said, “Thanks, this is exactly what I needed.” Then Josh’s face turned into a skull and grew till it was big enough to swallow Allen whole.

Allen awoke from his dream, huffing and puffing, freaked out. He had no idea what that dream meant, but he hoped it was a good thing because if what to come was worse than the dream he just had, he didn’t know what to do. Allen couldn’t sleep for the rest of the night.

The next day Allen called the support group’s number and asked what happened to the meeting last night. The leader of the group said there was a meeting but you’re supposed to enter thou the door on the side, opposite to the side where he had met Josh. Allen was relieved to find out that the support group was not a hoax and he then agreed to meet them next Thursday. This time there would be a sign out for all to see. Allen was happy now, and this time he just knew things would work out okay.

Allen was bored and getting lonely. He needed someone to talk to, so he called Josh. He wanted to make sure Josh got home safely last night, and maybe they could talk and become friends. Josh was very surprised that someone wanted to be his friend, especially someone like Allen. There was nothing wrong with Allen and Josh being friends, it was just that they came from two different worlds. Allen’s quite predictable life and Josh’s were quite different. Josh’s life never made sense to him, he just knew to keep going because he had no other way to get out of it. His life was full of pot, the streets, gang fights and prison. Josh was a kind guy, but he was born on the wrong side of the tracks. Not just wrong as in the unsafe side, but wrong as in the wrong side for him. Josh did need a friend, as did Allen. So Josh accepted Allen’s invitation to be his friend, and Allen became Josh’s first real friend.

The two men talked for a few hours on the phone. They enjoyed getting to know each other a bit more. Allen decided before they got off the phone to make the next step in their relationship and asked if Josh would like to go get a few drinks at a nearby bar. Josh only drank beer on very rare occasions but he took the offer anyway. After all, bars don’t just serve alcoholic beverages. Allen was happy to have a friend now. He had someone to tell his pain to and get his mind off the troubles at home. Allen and Josh both looked forward to this new found friendship and hoped for the best.

The next few days for Allen were very long, with taking care of his wife and trying to stay on top of his job. He hated taking his wife to her doctor appointments as it was very depressing for him, and he hated to see his wife who he loved for so many years in pain now. All Allen could do was pray and hope things worked out for the best, because he couldn’t imagine life without her.  Allen wished there was a cure, but sadly there wasn’t one yet. All he could hope for was his wife’s cancer got better and for all of this to be over soon.

The night soon came when Allen and Josh would go out. In the evening, before nightfall, Josh came and picked Allen up in his new black 4×4. Josh took Allen to the local pool hall where they played a few rounds of pool and had a few drinks of soda. They talked and relaxed together, this was something they both needed. During the time they spent at the pool hall they talked about work and their current and childhood lives. As much as Allen was surprised to hear about Josh’s world that was full of neglect, bad grades, multiple cities and pot, Josh was just as surprised to hear about Allen’s loving family, college, good grades and no pot or drugs what so ever. Josh was amazed there was actually someone who had never tried pot before. Josh knew of people who tried it a few times, didn’t like and only did it on occasion, but for someone who never tried it the thought just blew his mind. Later. when they left the bar, Josh thought the only nice thing he could really do was offer Allen some pot, just to try. Allen turned him down not to be mean, but because he was nervous and wasn’t sure if he should. Josh understood and didn’t really care if Allen said yes or no to the toke. Allen decided to tell Josh about his dream he had. Josh laughed and said dreams don’t mean anything, then he asked him if he was sure he had never done any drugs before. Allen just laughed at the remark and didn’t mention it again.

On the way driving home Allen and Josh were tired and their conversation started to get thin, so Josh thought it would be fun to tell Allen a story that he heard of years ago called “ultimate Pot”.

There is an old story that says when the moon hits three-quarters at the end of the month, when the earth’s balance is thrown off by a star ship’s rock, there will be a red sky and it will get slightly warmer on the earth. A rogue man from a long forgotten culture well receive the last ingredient to make the soil just right so he can plant the last two seeds of the best marijuana left in the world. These seeds were of the five mother plants that were here when the world was formed, and were believed to be all smoked up. The reason the seeds can’t be planted just anywhere is because when the world was new, its element was different and this blend of marijuana needs a very delicate lighting and rare soil that is no longer allowed to be used. But once the plant’s first buds show, you can grow it anywhere.

The story kind of creeped Allen out, but then again he knew nothing of that world and how any of that stuff worked; he barely knew marijuana was a plant. He thought marijuana was just a thing that appeared out of nowhere, probably made somewhere and then sold on the streets. It was not something he thought would grow on a plant and when the plant was ready you would have to pick and groom the plant down to get the good stuff. So for Allen, hanging out with Josh was turning out to be an educational experience. Not the kind of education you’d ever learn in a school or textbook, but the kind that is the most famous and well known. The kind that has saved and preserved many things in history. That is the method storytelling, and that is how a lot of knowledge is spread.

As they arrived at Allen’s house, he thanked Josh for the night out. Josh wasn’t the kind of guy who was used to compliments, so he just brushed it off and drove on home. Allen took his coat off and gave his wife her night time meds, and he told her how his night was. Allen always told his wife everything he did and so did she; they had a good marriage when it came to communication. He always tried to be a really good husband, because he loved his wife and only wanted the best for her.

Allen had a hard time sleeping that night. He couldn’t stop thinking about the story that Josh told him. He wondered how true the story was or if it was just a pothead dream. The story of the ultimate pot did catch his interest. He hoped that if the story was true, it would happen soon so his friend could have all the pot he wanted.  Josh didn’t fall asleep until he was too tired to keep his eyes open. It was more like he passed out then fell asleep.

The next day after work, Allen went over to Josh’s house. Josh was on the phone. Allen wanted to explain to Josh that he was having a bad day. He waited patiently for the Josh to be done with his call. Josh called them up and told them that he paid extra last month because he knew he would not be working for the winter. The phone company noticed the mistake and said that they noticed there was a credit on his account and mailed him a check for the credit so they didn’t use it for this month’s payment. Josh was so mad at them, he said some crude words and hung up the phone. Josh also was not having a good day. His car broke down and his pot dealer ripped him off and gave him crap stuff on top of that. If he would have known the phone company was going to do that to him he would have taken at least some or all of the money he spent on pot and used it on his phone bill. Allen felt bad and would have offered him the money to pay for his phone bill, but his wife was just put on new meds so he didn’t have any extra cash this month. So he did the thing any good friend would do instead and he offered him to use his phone until this whole mess was over with. Josh was nervous and unsure if he should, but he did have important people he needed to call so he agreed.

Allen felt bad when Josh told him about his dealer ripping him off. It made Allen feel like he needed to help him. Since Josh wouldn’t tell him where his dealer lived, so Allen went looking for the next best thing. He went out looking for a new dealer for better quality pot. But the next thing was where in the world you would go to find a pot dealer. He worked at an elementary school, so it wasn’t like he could ask one of the kids for a connection. Even if he could, it would not be ethical for a teacher to ask a student for pot. So he did the next idea that came into his head: go to the bookstore and look for any books about pot, or drug addict’s books. He thought if he could find a story about a drug addict or a recovering addict, he could see where they say they got their fix.

The next thing that happened to Allen was quite unexpected to him but predictable for others. He went to the counter with his stack of five books. Then guy at the counter rang up his books, though looking at the titles he laughed and asked him if he was trying to start a grow house or something.  Allen had no idea what he was talking about. He just wanted these books and to get out. It didn’t take the guy long to realize that Allen had no idea what he was doing so he asked the next big question: ‘so you looking to buy pot?’

Allen was shocked at the guy’s bluntness and froze for a second. The guy laughed and told him then that his name was Steven and told him that if he wanted some pot he could go on coffee break and sell him some for a discounted rate. Allen was surprised and decided not to take any and told him it was for a friend and that he would talk it over with him before he came back. The guy laughed and he then said ‘it’s always for a friend.’ Allen then tensed up and paid for his book and left.

He wanted to help out Josh and help him be happy, not because he supported his lifestyle but because he couldn’t help his wife. Allen felt helpless when it came to helping his wife with her cancer and all he wanted to do was make her happy, but that was getting harder and harder to do as the cancer inside her spread. So he thought if he couldn’t keep his wife happy, he could at least keep Josh, someone else who was close to him, happy. Even though he met Josh only a few weeks ago, he had become the closest friend Allen had in years.

Yes, Allen did have friends, but they were mostly other teachers he knew at work. He didn’t mean to keep his personal and business life separate, it just seemed to fall that way. He liked having friends; they kept him distracted from the stress of the world at that time. He would hang out now with Josh once or twice a week, even though he did see Josh every day. He and his wife saw Josh at least once a day, but that was to use the phone and that was going to stop in about a week, when the phone company reconnected him. Allen and his wife liked having Josh around. He was a very pleasant man.

It took Allen a few days to get the courage to tell Josh about what had happened at the bookstore. Josh was surprised Allen would think of something like that. He was impressed that Allen thought so highly of him as a friend to think of helping him get some new pot. Josh didn’t want to be rude, so he asked where this new dealer was. He told Josh all the info he knew about the bookstore guy. Josh thought about it for a moment and then he looked at Allen and smiled. He explained that he had met Steven before, that he had crap stuff, and that it wasn’t anywhere near as good as the stuff he was already getting that was crap. Allen laughed and felt better now for walking out on the guy.

The following day there was a sighting of a comet heading straight for Earth. The scientists were worried that if this comet hit the Earth it would throw off the balance of the planet and increase the effects of global warming. They spent a few days working on the plans of how to stop it from hitting the Earth. They thought of one plan to stop the comet and that was to build a rocket and aim it at the comet, knocking it off course and saving Earth. The government liked the idea but they didn’t like the price and refused to pay, saying that they don’t care, and that the global warming effects are not going to get that bad. So the scientists opened their ideas up to the public asking, for donations. They had 3 weeks to get this rocket built and sent up into space. The amount of money that came from the people of the world was countless and the rocket was going to be built without any problems.

Allen and Josh heard about the comet and both thought it was stupid and didn’t care. All Josh hoped was that if the comet did hit the Earth, it wouldn’t interfere with his new job coming up. He managed to get hired in the potash mine bulldozing, and the comet was set to hit the Earth the same day as he would be going to work. It was a far away job, so Josh would be saying goodbye to Allen for about six months before heading back to his place. When he told Allen this he was upset for a few days, but he did know that this was going to happen one day and was happy Josh was finally going out to do something he loved.

The days went by slowly; the rocket was almost complete, and Josh was doing last minute things. It was the third week of the month and Josh was still using the phone at Allen’s house. Even though it was last month he started using Allen’s phone and the phone company issues were all cleared up. when Josh got the job offer he decided to pay the remaining balance that needed to be paid and just disconnected his. He was really enjoying hanging out with Allen, and he was glad to have a true friend for once in his life. Even if things weren’t going good for Allen and his wife, these past months were probably the best in Allen’s and Josh’s life.

The day finally came where Josh was leaving to go to work. Allen and his wife said their goodbyes to Josh and hoped all went and that they would see him again in 6 months. The day Josh was leaving also happened to be the day the rocket to save the earth from extreme global warming was being launched. When it was time, Josh got into his truck and drove off. He tried to get a hold of his dealer before he left the city because he forgot to refill his pot before he was leaving, and he wasn’t sure if he would get a pot connection where he was going. He had been cutting back on pot now that he had friends. Somehow Allen distracted him. Josh couldn’t get a hold of his dealer and was pissed. He didn’t want to leave the city without anything. So he decided to go to the bookstore and see if that guy Steven was working. In this case crap pot was better than no pot. He went into the bookstore and Steven was working. Luckily he asked him about buying some pot and he took Josh out back saying that he had the best stuff in town.

Later on, the rocket was launched and all was set to go according to plan. For some reason though, the rocket just lightly hit the comet, aiming the comet more towards Earth and sending the rocket into the moon. This threw the whole Earth off balance and somehow the global warming was avoided,but instead the Earth was in for an extreme global cooling. The earth was still warm but everything was colder by about three degrees and the ice caps were coming back. With the elements off balance, the planets were off; for the first time in recorded history the earth hit a three quarter moon on the last day of the month. But not everything about the earth’s new pattern affected the climate it also healed most of the cancer patients, including Allen’s wife.

Over the next few weeks, the climate change helped in some way and not in others. For example, the marijuana plants started to grow more. They grew so much soon that cities all over were overflowing with pot. There was so much pot the cops and the government could not stop or even control it anymore. The cops tried their hardest to find the source but every lead they got was a dead end, untill one night they got an anonymous tip.

The cops took the tip they had gotten, and went to the location they were given. The place looked like it was an old abandoned house from the outside. When the cops entered the house, they couldn’t believe it was the same house. The house was modern, up to date, and very clean. There was not a speck of dirt anywhere. The cops searched the house and looked up and down, They were about to give up their search until one of the cops noticed a loose floorboard. They lifted the boards and saw a ladder going into a dirt basement of some sort. The cops went down and found a table covered in bags of marijuana and scales. One cop went searching around the rest of the rooms in the dugout basement. Even though there was everything else they would normally find in a grow house, they couldn’t find any plants until one cop went in further and found what he thought was a person sitting in a chair, waiting to be found. The cop grasped his gun and pulled the string on the light. To his horror it was a person, but they weren’t waiting. They were dead and the source of all the pot. With a closer look it turned out that where this man use to have hands and feet there were now bunches of Mary Jane and the same with his eyes and mouth. The cop soon called all the other cops to the room, where they were mortified at what they saw.

They called for backup and called the coroner to help with the removal of the body. They did an autopsy to investigate. It was determined that the plants were in fact growing out of his body and roots were intact within it. It took a long time before they figured out who the body was. It turned out that the remains were of no other then one Josh Hoffman.

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Short Stories

Anna

“Master Leonardo…” The young man tapped on the open door and stepped into the room.

“Eh, what? Hello, lad. What do you want? The great Leonardo cannot paint anymore, and his head is too fuddled to invent things.”

“I have a question, Master. Just one question.”

The old man grumbled and stirred from his chair by the fireplace. “Well, speak quickly now. The aged have little time for stammers and foolery.”

“Who is she?”

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Children's, Short Stories

The Shadow-Swallowers

In the curves of the trees, in the places hidden from the sun’s harsh rays and within leaping distance to the refreshing coolness of the bubbling creek, live the Shadow Swallowers. They are so called because they seem to live off of nothing but shadows. But within their own race, they are simply called Beings.

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Flash Fiction

Dining Dangerously

We slid into opposite sides of the booth, drawing little notice. Men wearing black shirts and slacks and boots are not that much of an outlier and Shirley hadn’t changed. A quick glance at the menu later and I announced, “I know what I’m having!”

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