Saturday, December 28, 2013

100 Words a Day 499

Her friends all described him as they yummy bartender. She found him rather slimy; he was constantly hitting on women her friends’ age, considerably less than his own. The prices were okay though and her friends really liked the bar, so she consented to go.

Tonight was particularly bad. The creepy bartender would not leave her alone. She felt like every drink he served her came with a leer that made her skin crawl. Taking her latest drink, she turned away as quickly as possible, pretending to scan the crowd. Her eye did notice something in that feigned glance however.

100 Words a Day 498

The alarm went off at five thirty, as it had for the past week. Jason leapt out of bed, though not perhaps, with as much enthusiasm as earlier in the week. His first thought was still the same though; maybe I’ll see her today.

The previous Monday he had seen her in the square, on his way to an early appointment, and had been rising early every morning since, hoping to see her again.

He arrived at the square, still bleary-eyed, and ordered a coffee, hoping to clear his head a little. After waiting an hour, he went home dejected.

Friday, December 27, 2013

100 Words a Day 497

Ada Hatelace walked away from the scattered bodies, whose eyes were clouded by death, and approached the pedestal. The object she sought sat serenely atop the smooth, stone stand. It was difficult to discern the details of the figurine; it glowed by some inner light that forced her to shield her eyes, weakened as they were by the darkness.

Just as the old man said, she thought to herself as she picked up the statue and placed it in her belt pouch. As she left, she was keenly aware of the weight of the luminous sculpture bouncing against her thigh.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

100 Words a Day 496

“Do you have any idea what I can do to you? Do you? David shouted at Brent. “I own computers! I own the internet! I’ll put you in every criminal database and ruin your credit. I’ll destroy you!”

“Actually,” Brent responded in a calm, measured tone, “I do know what you can do.”

David was taken aback a moment. Then he felt a sharp impact on the back of his skull, and a second when he felt his face hit the pavement.

“See, David,” Brent continued, “while you may own the internet. I have a friend and two baseball bats.”

100 Words a Day 495

The doorbell rang. She looked through the peephole; it was him. She opened the door, smiling. He had a rose. She lit up. The crimson petals matched her dress. He handed her the flower and she inhaled deeply, feeling the enchanting fragrance send shivers down her spine. Then she noticed his outfit. The white shirt he wore was fitted, showing off the work he had put into his upper body. He wore a black tie. After a moment they walked to the car. He opened the car door for her and she saw eleven more roses on the car seat.

100 Words a Day 494

She thought dinner was excellent, the lighting low, the d├ęcor tasteful, and the food exotic.

He thought it was dim, the table cluttered, and the food suspicious.

From their seats at the ballet they could see the emotion in the eyes of the dancers.

It’s people wiggling around. He thought.

After, she smiled with delight, thanked him for a wonderful evening, and gave him a peck before preparing for bed.

Despite spending an exorbitant sum on food he didn’t like and boring dancing, that smile lighting up her eyes and the lingering sensation of her lips made it worth it.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

100 Words a Day 493

Damn it, I thought. I missed the block again. I felt the sword slide through my leathers, leaving behind a new hole. I fell to my knees with a grunt. You got used to the pain, in that you knew what to expect and how much it would hurt. It always hurt as much as the time before though.

I came to at the bonfire. I was getting tired of waking up to that same view. I checked my armor. The leather had been repaired, leaving only a neat stitch to remind me I had been stabbed. I stood up.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

100 Words a Day 492

He woke upon feeling the covers move as she slipped back into bed.

“I was just throwing some logs on the fire,” she whispered in his ear.

He smiled and wrapped her up in his arms, letting the smell of her hair permeate his brain. She shut her eyes and nestled close.

Sighing, he looked out the window.

Outside, the stillness was broken only by the snow was falling in large, soft flakes. It settled on the grass, covering the ground in cool, crisp, silence. Inside the stillness was broken only by the crackling orange and red of the fire.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

100 Words a Day 491, Twenty Forgotten Words That Should be Brought Back Bonus Word

Lawrence turned over, trying to escape the light that was beginning to creep through his window. He groaned inwardly. His big presentation was today and he had been unable to sleep most of the night, finally finding himself uhtcearing as the sun rose. He had tried everything he could think of to fall asleep, but to no avail. At last he had found himself making a futile attempt to will himself to sleep, but instead was lying awake thinking about the impending day. As the light became more invasive, he realized it was hopeless and hauled himself out of bed.

You can find the original article these words were all drawn from here

100 Words a Day 490, Twenty Forgotten Words That Should be Brought Back 20/20

He was tired by eventide, having worked most of the daylight hours. He shut his computer and donned his coat, preparing to brave the winter cold while waiting for the bus. He passed by Veronica’s desk and gave it a forlorn look. That day she had worn a red and orange dress, making her a stand out like a fire in the night against the colorless walls that he inhabited. He had never spoken to her; she arrived after him, left before, and they never worked on the same project. He wished he could find some excuse to say hello.

100 Words a Day 489, Twenty Forgotten Words That Should be Brought Back 19/20

Barbigerous was the term often used to describe the guard. To a man, they cultivated long, flowing, and luxuriant beards. The two standing at the portcullis had particularly substantial examples of what a man could do if he put his mind to it. The first guard’s beard seemed to glow, so healthy was its sheen. He kept it braided and decorated it was bits of gold and silver. The second man’s beard was unkempt. It was black and prickly with a few streaks of grey. People had been known to describe him as a man walking behind an angry bush.

100 Words a Day 488, Twenty Forgotten Words That Should be Brought Back 18/20

Dene stepped through the dull metal door, leaving the sterile corridor behind and entering the ship’s nature dome. She was assaulted by a myriad of hues, bright and sharp, that were otherwise absent from the rest of her life in utilitarian passageways and workstations on The Guzzler. After several moments of being overwhelmed by the colors, her eyes adjusted and she was able to distinguish the various flora and fauna that populated the ship’s verdant oasis. Looking up at the sky, she saw several birds reaching the highest point of the welkin. Though holographic, they were still creatures of beauty.

100 Words a Day 487, Twenty Forgotten Words That Should be Brought Back 17/20

The economic troubles in America in the first half of the twenty first century caused considerable reevaluation of their political elite. Mounting catastrophes, ranging from quagmire wars to a botched attempt at universal healthcare, perpetrated through the deception of the populous or at the behest of private industry, made it obvious to the average citizen that those in charge had ceased to value the precepts upon which the country had been founded and were instead simple snollygusters.

Backlash began peacefully, but angry dissatisfaction eventually resulted in more violent protests and harsher suppression thereof. Predictably, the final outcome was violent revolution.

100 Words a Day 486, Twenty Forgotten Words That Should be Brought Back 16/20

They found their lost cow in a gory mess deep in the troll’s cave. The large monster was guttling great handfuls of the poor beast’s flesh, shoveling them into its gaping mouth as fast as it was able. They watched silently from the shadows as blood and bits of innards dripped down the troll’s bulbous face.

A loud noise from behind caused them to turn. They froze when they saw a second troll ambling down the tunnel, outlined by the cool light of the moon streaming through the cave entrance. They were suddenly quite trapped with no way to escape.

100 Words a Day 485, Twenty Forgotten Words That Should be Brought Back 15/20

When the bell rang, the bench went wild. It was their first win in years, and against last year’s champions. The players were jumping up and down, crying, hugging, simply losing it.

The afterparty was unusually lavish. There were tables piled with food and the drink flowed freely. What was normally a mutual celebration of athletic achievement and community quickly turned into a pannychis running long into the night.

By the end, most of the food was gone, either scattered about or swelling the bellies of the overindulgent. Who would have a hangover wasn’t the question, rather who would not.

100 Words a Day 484, Twenty Forgotten Words That Should be Brought Back 14/20

“You should definitely put ice on that when you get home,” John told Duane before leaving the room.

After he had left, Silvia leaned out from her cubicle, “I wouldn’t listen to Duane if I were you, John. He has a bad habit of Ultracrepidarianism. It’s cause more than a few people trouble at the office.”

“What do you mean?” John asked.

“Well, when Irene was pregnant, he kept telling her it was nonsense that she had to avoid her cat litterbox. Turns out, your baby can develop a lot of problems if it gets a particular bacteria found there.”

Monday, December 16, 2013

100 Words a Day 483, Twenty Forgotten Words That Should be Brought Back 13/20

Everyone born in given year was a nameling. This caused a variety of complications because the diversity of surnames was low. The people of the realm devised a number of ways circumvent any confusion resulting from the abundance of identically named people. The first solution parents try is a middle name. This usually works for the first few children, but tradition demands that family names are used, of which there is invariably a small number. The next solution is nicknames. There is much cultural freedom when it comes to selecting a nickname. The problem is finding one that is fitting.

100 Words a Day 482, Twenty Forgotten Words That Should be Brought Back 12/20

“You know,” the man began, addressing the auditorium full of students. “Each year, my grade school teacher told me I had to correct my uglyography this year because the next year they wouldn’t tolerate my illegible handwriting and bad spelling.”

He rolled his eyes before continuing.

“Turns out they were about as correct as all those Cubs fans who say that next year is the year.”

A chuckle ran through the crowd. Apparently there was a sizeable out of state demographic.

“I’m pretty sure they told me the same thing when I was about to enter high school, didn’t happen.”

Thursday, December 12, 2013

100 Words a Day 481, Twenty Forgotten Words That Should be Brought Back 11/20

“Mullock, that review was mullock! That’s what it was!” Jason said, slamming his beer down on the bar.

His coworkers gave murmurs of agreement.

“Yeah man, that was bullshit. You work way harder than everyone else. You get in before the director and leave last.”

“Thanks for the vote of support,” Jason said, pointing his beer at Steve before taking another swig.

“Sandra!” Jason called to the bartender, “Another beer please.”

“The same?” she asked.

“Please.”

He upended his beer and drained the dregs. By the time he was done, the next cold beer was open in front of him.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

100 Words a Day 480, Twenty Forgotten Words That Should be Brought Back 10/20

The iron door shut with a loud thud and the key made a rusty screech as it turned in the lock, leaving the boy in the dark. The only thing he could hear was the headmaster’s footsteps receding towards the basement stairs. Eventually even those faded, leaving the boy alone with his thoughts.

“How long are you going to leave the boy there this time?” The clerk asked the headmaster.

“As long as it takes to sophronize him. We can’t have hooligans like him disrupting our society.”

“Wouldn’t beating it into him be faster?”

“Perhaps, but that’s far too tiresome.”

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

100 Words a Day 479, Twenty Forgotten Words That Should be Brought Back 9/20

“We’re gonna starrify!” Victoria exclaimed, throwing her young, thin arms into the air.

“Starrify, what’s that?” Jenna, her babysitter, asked with the enthused confusion that one often assumes when dealing with the antics of young children.

“It’s when you put stars on things, duh!” the small girl replied in exasperation, once again amazed that an adult would be so ignorant of such a simple thing.

“What are we going to starrify?”

“My school notebook, Ms. Medved said we have to decorate them over the weekend. We need to go to the store and get some stickers.”

“Get your coat then.”

Monday, December 9, 2013

100 Words a Day 478, Twenty Forgotten Words That Should be Brought Back 8/20

Rachel fidgeted in the examination room, wondering when the doctor would arrive, and held her shivering infant. She did her best to comfort the sick baby.

The doctor entered the room and engaged in the standard courtesies of bedside manner, to put the mother at ease, before proceeding to the examination. When queried, the mother revealed that the infant had not showed any other signs of illness and the fever onset had been sudden. Some basic tests were performed to rule out common illnesses and diseases. Once those results showed negative, the probable cause was ruled as simply a febricula.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

100 Words a Day 477, Twenty Forgotten Words That Should be Brought Back 7/20

The Librocubicularist. It was a bar for people like him. Instead of stools and crappy bar lamps, there were small beds with reading lights. The place was so quiet you could hear the beer coming out of the tap. Aside from whispered conversation between the servers and the patrons, everyone was silent. There were no groups of friends having a beer after work. There were no TVs showing sporting events. There were no bros hitting on girls. Everyone was reading. That was the whole point of the bar, to give people a little booze and a place to read quietly.

100 Words a Day 476, Twenty Forgotten Words That Should be Brought Back 6/20

It was raining, and that was awesome. Chad didn’t really care one way or another, but girls did. He hadn’t met one yet that wasn’t a pluviophile, (yeah that’s a big word, and not totally a word even, but chicks dig a big vocabulary).

He whipped out his phone and dialed Brittney. Chad often described her as not being the smartest tool in the shed, but she was pretty hot. She answered after a few rings, and after a brief conversation he’d convinced her to have him over, to hang out.

He grabbed some sugary, shitty booze on his way.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

100 Words a Day 475, Twenty Forgotten Words That Should be Brought Back 5/20

The conversation of a couple of teenagers, dressed in black accented with generic, edgy band tees and buttons, cut through the general noise of the bus: “It doesn’t matter anyways. Even if she likes me, she won’t eventually and then I won’t have anyone again. I may as well just be sad.”

Neil rolled his eyes and looked at Clint. “I am so sick of such blithering emo bullshit.”

“I hear ya, man. Maybe if they cut their bangs so they could see, they could see all the exciting things that life has to offer. Like your mom for example.”

100 Words a Day 474, Twenty Forgotten Words That Should be Brought Back 4/20

“Once, twice, thrice, and presto!” the old teacher said, waving his wand back and forth with each count before tapping his top hat. A puff of smoke shot out of the well-used thing, quickly followed by the emergence of a rabbit. The white hare looked around in confusion for a moment before settling down next to the hat.

“Now you try,” he said to his young pupil

“Once, twice, thrice, presto,” the boy said, giving his wand a lackluster wave and slamming it against his hat. The force of his blow upset the hat, which emitted neither smoke nor rabbit.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

100 Words a Day 473, Twenty Forgotten Words that Should be Brought Back 3/20

The menu, much like the ingredients in the majority of the dishes, can only be described as a gallimaufry. They describe themselves as a fusion restaurant, and most hipster foodies will say something similar. If they would take their noses out of the air, maybe they would be able to taste what they are eating. Simply smashing two genres of food together as hard as possible and seeing what comes out does not make one an innovative chef. It usually does not even produce anything edible, let alone good. Nowhere is the proof more obviously in the pudding than here.

100 Words a Day 472, Twenty Forgotten Words that Should be Brought Back 2/20

“I won’t stand for your scurrilous accusations!” Hugo shouted, pointing an imperious finger at Victor. The senate turned as one towards Hugo’s opponent, who wore a black, silk suit.

“Scurrilous? Me?” Victor responded, leaning away from Hugo and pointing at himself with long, pale fingers. After a moment he leaned forward and bared his teeth, showing a pair of long, white fangs, “There’s nothing scurrilous about them!”

One of the black-clad men in the senate spoke up in a deep, slow voice, “And what evidence do you have to present, Victor?”

“I’m glad you asked. I summon my first witness.”

Monday, December 2, 2013

100 Words a Day 471, Twenty Forgotten Words that Should be Brought Back 1/20

“Is Huey coming tonight?” Tamara asked.

“No, he said he said his cousin Mabone was in town and his mom is making him hang out with him, “Chadwick replied.

There were several nods and grunts of understanding. Except for Anitra, she wore an expression of judgmental disbelief.

“Cousin Mabone is his bunbury,” she said.

“What the heck is a bunbury?” Kendra asked, her incredulousness overwhelming the empty-headed expression she normally wore.

Anitra rolled her eyes. “Haven’t you read The Importance of Being Ernest?”

She looked around the table, amazed at the blank stares she was receiving from all her friends.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

100 Words a Day 470

He was in the library a lot that summer, though he was rarely reading. Usually he was trying to find an excuse to talk to Veronica, the librarian’s assistant. Mostly he asked her for recommendations. He read all her favorite books that summer, as fast as he could. For the first month he simply read as fast as possible so he would have an excuse to talk to her again. One day she asked him what he thought of the last book he read. The realization that he could ask her what she thought of a book left him dumbstruck.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

100 Words a Day 469

He dropped the mash and ran. Barney’s sirens were getting closer. They would destroy the still, but it was more important that he got away. As he ran, Patrick wondered what had tipped them off. Was it Daniel? That damned waxy! He had always had it out for Patrick.

Patrick sprinted down the hill, losing himself in the dark woods. Thorns and branches scratched his face and grabbed at his loose clothing. When he finally emerged into the clearing he was bleeding and covered with sweat.

He stopped short when he saw his getaway car. Several Barneys had it surrounded.

Friday, November 29, 2013

100 Words a Day 468

He hung his head in the back of the squad car. The cold and uncaring handcuffs cut into his wrists, slowly bringing a tingle to his fingertips. He watched the cops speaking to the line of patrons, interviewing them for details about the fight. Shifting in the leather seat, he was able to see the other man lying down on a stretcher with a paramedic holding ice over the black eye the man had received. A police officer supervised the process. He did not regret what happened; the man was harassing several people at the bar. He had it coming.

100 Words a Day 467

The hospital was a frightening place. The sterile, white walls were unwelcoming, not like the warm tones used in his doctor’s office or his classroom. The waiting room was full of strangers. A few of them looked normal, but others had strange bandages, wounds that made him shake, or were making noises that he had only heard before in the depth of nightmare.

He felt his eyes grow big and his heart pound as he imagined what horrible things they would do to him. Looking at his mother only confirmed his fears; she was fidgeting and clearly worried about something.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

100 Words a Day 466

“Damn it,” he said, his lips scrunching with mild irritation.

He put his boot on the corpse, steadying himself so he did not slip on the fluids, and yanked on his sword. It came out a few inches, but remained lodged in Garak’s final opponent. The small man had been the last of dozens and his skill was not particularly good. Consequently, Garak had not swung with full commitment and failed to split the man from shoulder to hip as he had with done his other opponents.

“Guess I’m getting old and lazy,” he said to no one in particular.

100 Words a Day 465

The red brick was faded. Years of staring into the sun had left its exposed face bleached. The cement holding it in place was crumbling, leaving part of the unfaded top visible. The porous skin was weather-beaten and water-damaged, evidence of a long life spent outdoors. The brick stood stoic no more. What was once solid and unbreakable had become stiff and fragile, slowly crumbling under the heavy tread of the onward march of time. No one ever saw the brick change; they would simply take the time to look at it one day and notice how it was different.

100 Words a Day 464

It was several days before he noticed anything wrong and several weeks before he was able to perceive the problems in the organization, obscured as his vision was by a heady haze of idealism.

He had grown up on stories of the greatness of the company; how they were the best in the business, heralds of innovation. He was coming to realize the truth was quite different. They may have been innovative, but now they were indolent. Their hires were screened most stringently, but even the most qualified candidates were assigned entry-level tasks where their genius quickly turned to boredom.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

100 Words a Day 463

The chest groaned as he forced it open with the crowbar. One of the rusty hinges actually broke off, having long ago fused in place. As he pushed the lid back, an eerie azure glow lit the chamber. He lifted the luminous thing out of the chest, leaving it empty, and held it close to his face so he could inspect it. It was a white skull with glowing blue eyes, just like the old man had said it would be. He was mesmerized by those glowing eyes for a moment, then remembered what else the old man had said.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Check Out My Article On Seven Wonders

Here

100 Words a Day 462

She arrived at work with tired feet that left a heavy tread, so reluctant was her step. She did the gallows-walk to her cubicle and sat down at her neutral-colored desk and stared at her neutral-colored walls. Not even the pictures of her family or her signed Blind Guardian poster could brighten her day. She turned to the one thing, resting in the far corner of the cubicle, that could bring some color into her neutral world. It was her bunny. She was every color her workplace was not, a riot of vibrant colors, the whole spectrum of the rainbow.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

100 Words a Day 461

The worst part of the hospital was being unable to move, forced to watch whatever telenovela was showing on the two channels that actually came in. People complain about the food, but the day he was able to feed himself that wretched slop was one of the happiest of his life. Now, he looked forward to every meal, stuffing his gob with foul-smelling, tasteless slop, masticating until he had a good bolus before swallowing. Each day he felt stronger, but the novelas were starting to make just a bit too much sense. He really needed to get out of there.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

100 Words a Day 460

He stumbled out of the bar and staggered down the street. Meandering down the road, he attracted the attention of some of the more unsavory elements in the neighborhood. Two of them peeled off the dingy wall of the corner liquor store and began following the teeter tottering man. He led them down several side streets, each more empty than the last.

They gave each other matching shark-smiles and closed in. As they were preparing to brain the drunkard, he spun around. Neither of them had time to react as he stabbed them each several times with a short knife.

Monday, November 18, 2013

100 Words a Day 459

The intruders tromped down the tunnel, their heavy footfalls echoing through the underground. She watched them track their surface world dirt across the floor of the sacred catacombs, leaving a trail of blasphemous filth in their wake. The light of their torch made her squint in her hiding place.

Anger boiled in her as she watched the thieves approach the altar, their greed evident even in the way they walked. Thoroughly distracted, their covetous fingers caressing the sacred gemstones, they were oblivious as she crept closer, flitting from shadow to shadow as a dark smudge in the flickering torch light.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

100 Words a Day 458

His back ached from sitting in the same position for so long . His eyes hurt from staring at the candle. And his mind hurt from imagining the flame going out. He continued to do all three of those things though, Camaroth told him he had to.

He wanted what Camaroth had, power. Those villagers hated him for his appearance, but they feared what the man could do so they’d let him be.

Shifting slightly, the boy refocused his mind on the candle, willing the flame to go out. He didn’t understand why it was important, but he wanted power.

100 Words a Day 457

“I hate you!” he screamed, storming out and leaving a “You’re ruining my life,” in his wake.

She heard his door slam some moments later and flinched, as much from the pain of hearing those familiar words as from the sudden noise. It hurt that their relationship was deteriorating and she was beginning to understand how her mother must have felt.

She comforted herself with the knowledge that her decision was in his best interests, hopefully one day he would understand, and that she and her mother had reconciled eventually.

She let him be, knowing it was what he needed.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Check Out My Article On Three Kings Day

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100 Words a Day 456

Zel Moria watched the rickety craft descend at an alarming rate. It wasn’t unusual to see them crash; the technology was unreliable. The ship struck the earth and crumpled, sending wood and metal flying.

He shrugged his lopsided shoulders and ambled towards the wreck, maybe there would be some parts he could use. Digging through the remains of the ship, Zel Moria found broken bits of machine, splinted boards, frayed rope, and body parts. Most of them were too smashed to be of any use, even the smaller organs. He was about to give up when he heard a moan.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

100 Words a Day 455

A chorus of demonic howls shattered the silence, sending echoes of terror through the village, like shards of broken glass hitting the cold ground. In their fragile huts, the inhabitants held each other close and pictured the beasts’ advance. The muscular, purple-fleshed monsters ran on all fours, their three-toed feet rending chunks out of the frozen earth. Another round of shrieks rent the air, let loose from the toothy maws, dripping with spittle, that occupied much of the space on the fiends’ face below their large, looming eyes. They closed on the village, eager to feast on the souls within.

100 Words a Day 454

He sat in the waiting room. His twitching foot created a regular rattle as his laces banged against his old, black shoes. The only other indication of his nervousness was how hard he gripped the armrest. Even that was subtle and anyone looking at him would have thought him bored. His breath was related and his heart rate was low, but he could feel it pound with worry. She had been in with the doctor for a while. There was nothing he could do, and he accepted that, but it did not stop him from wishing fervently that he could.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

100 Words a Day 453

“Praise the Sun!” the lizardman priest said, raising his arms to welcome the dawn.

The adventurers looked down from their cage, wondering if the monstrous humanoids would eat them raw or cook them first.

Adulations complete, the priest turned and addressed the guards. “Bring the humans down.”

The guards ascended, their scaly feet making the structure shake with every heavy step. They opened the door and gestured. The adventurers filed out, their trepidation evident on their faces.

When they reached the bottom, the priest turned to the assembled congregation of lizardmen. They stood as one and stalked towards the adventurers.

Monday, November 11, 2013

100 Words a Day 452

Clicker placed his pack on the ground and rubbed his hands together.

“Let’s see here,” he said, running his sensitive hands over the ancient door. He did this for several moments while his companions watched in silence. They were used to this scene, Clicker lost in examination of some ancient mechanical device and oblivious to the world around him.

After several moments, Clicker returned to his pack and removed several small cases of tools. Carefully opening them, he removed several strange apparatuses from each and returned to the door. He prodded points, seemingly at random, on the heavy, stone barrier.

100 Words a Day 451

The snow was coming down hard. Last night’s blizzard had slackened somewhat, but the flakes were coming down fast and furious.

Chip had his nose glued to the window. His breathe left the cold glass foggy. Finally, he tore his gaze away from the white blanket forming on the ground and rushed back to his room. He pulled on his snow gear and grabbed his sled from the front closet.

Once outside, he ran towards The Hill as fast as his short legs would carry him. When he got there, he saw Ross was already careening down the steep slope.

100 Words a Day 450

“I just don’t get it. Why is she mad? I sent her a text explaining everything.”

Brad showed Jeff his phone.

Jeff read the message, his brow furrowing as he slogged through the poorly worded text.

“Dude,” Jeff said. “I don’t get how you don’t get why she’s mad. Look at this!”

Jeff and Brad went back and forth for several minutes while Jeff tried to figure out what Brad was trying to say. Eventually everything was made clear.

“See dude, it makes perfect sense.”

“No way man, if it only makes sense to you, it doesn’t make any sense.”

Sunday, November 10, 2013

100 Words a Day 449

His leather jacket fit snug and wearing it was like walking with an old friend. He received several compliments as he traversed the unfamiliar landscape of the posh neighborhood. It grated on him that those same types of people would have said he looked like a thug a few years ago. A woman with a black, leather bag decorated with studs asked him if he had gotten the jacket at Sam Gutoski.

“No, I didn’t get this fucking jacket at some chain boutique bullshit. I got it at a motherfucking garage sale and put the motherfucking spikes on it myself.”

100 Words a Day 448

They had finished packing their camp and were preparing to make the blood sacrifice. The dogmen gathered round the small alter, kneeling in a semicircle, and the shaman was preparing to speaking.

Suddenly, the shaft of an arrow protruded from his chest. The pack turned as one, seeing the human warband, their metal armor shinning in the sun, descending upon them. The children fled away from the marauders, screaming. The older members of the tribe followed while the warriors formed up and prepared to face the raiders. There were a few steel weapons among them, the rest readied crude spears.

100 Words a Day 447

She practically stumbled out of the building, exhausted from a long day of classes. She wanted nothing more than to rush home and have some wine. Then she saw him walking down the street in the opposite direction.

He wore black jeans and a black t-shirt bearing an image she didn’t recognize, but it looked pretty nerdy, and she liked that. She could tell by his strong gait that he worked out, probably a lot, and she definitely wanted to see what he looked like. But the thing that made her want to talk to him the most, his Mohawk.

100 Words a Day 446

He strolled down the alley, chest puffed up and sure of his safety. He was quite surprised when he found himself on the floor, leg throbbing in agony. It was several moments before he was able to collect himself enough to raise his arms to ward off the blows raining down on him.

The beating stopped and he cringed on the ground, moaning softly.

“Frank, can you hear me?”

Frank didn’t respond at first. After a few more whacks from the bat, he nodded weakly.

“I don’t want to ever hear about you bullying Amanda at school again, got it?”

100 Words a Day 445

He had pointed ears and angular features typical of elves, with brown hair that he wore swept back. He strode down the one road running through the town, head held high and turning back and forth. His robe swayed aggressively as he walked. It was black with red trim and was decorated with strange symbols picked out in gold thread. He entered the inn, shoving the door open so that it banged against the wall and scanned the interior of the main room, a hint of a sneer on his face.

A man in the back started walking towards him.

Monday, November 4, 2013

100 Words a Day 444

My heart was pounding. I sat up. I looked around. I was back in my room, the familiar shapes outlined by the soft nightlight. Sighing, I lay back in my bed and pulled the covers up to my chin. I closed my eyes and tried to relax. I felt a slight movement at the foot of the bed. My eyes shot open, but it was just Fireball, my cat.

“Hey Fireball,” I said. He sauntered over to me.

He looked me square in the eye, with an unnatural intelligence and said, “do you think this is a motherfucking game?”

Sunday, November 3, 2013

100 Words a Day 443

I emerged from the dark tunnel, the lands of the Soot-men far behind me, and found myself on the under-surface. It was rocky and barren. I saw neither plants nor animals. Accustomed as I was to the over-surface, the lack of other visible life was disconcerting. It was not nearly as disconcerting though, as looking “up” and seeing the bottoms of the other floating continents.

I continued to crane my neck, fascinated by this new perspective. I recognized a few of the under-surfaces of other continents, but not all of them. I was also able to see the iron world-core.

100 Words a Day 442

In contrast to his master’s library, which occupied a small, cluttered corner of his hut, the Eastwind Mage’s library was massive, well-organized, and occupied an entire building on the small estate of the powerful wizard. Calidos wandered among the ordered shelves. There were a few other apprentices there, on ladders dusting shelves. They looked down at him with scorn. No doubt news of his arrival and origin had spread quickly through the small compound. He passed them without looking up, feeling their stares on his back as he slunk down the silent hall to the door. He eased it open.

100 Words a Day 441

“Johnson, we’re making layoffs and we need a way to soften the blow.”

“Well, we could feed them pizza.”

“What? But that costs money, and it would have to come out of my lunchtime hot stone massage budget.”

“Well, yes sir, but you can make that back up with the increased productivity from feeding them. They’ll be so happy with the pizza that they won’t care about the people we fire.”

He considered it a moment.

“That’s a great idea Johnson. I’ll have my secretary write up the email. That way all those drones will know who their benefactor is.”

100 Words a Day 440

“Man” John began. “Work was fucking horrible today.” The damn A/C went out so it was 82 degrees all day, and it’s thirty out!”

“That’s rough, dude” Jeremy said.

John took a swig of his beer, finishing it off. “Yeah, and the damn project mangers keep changing the damn project requirements.”

“That could be the clients.”

“Well fuck them then too!”

Jeremy cracked open another beer and handed it to John. John continued. “The damn chair is uncomfortable and is ruining my posture and my boss is an idiot. What a fucking tool.”

“Well, at least no one got stabbed.”

100 Words a Day 439

“Well, I think that’s about everything,” he said, standing up. I stood as well, smoothing my new suit unconsciously as I did so.

He gave me a fairly bland smile. “We’ll be in touch if we decide to move forward Mr. Skaggs. If you think of any other questions, shoot me an email.” He held out a card.

I reached out and accepted the proffered card. As I was putting it away, I noticed the edging. Smiling, I extended my hand, thumb and forefinger held far apart. He lit up and met my hand in kind.

“Can you start Monday?”

100 Words a Day 438

Night watch was lonely and boring. Seth liked it though. Nothing ever happened and the only sound was his own footfalls. They echoed through the large factory, like the memory of the noise the machines made during the day.

It was always a little colder in the building, which made him feel alive. When he inhaled, the chilly air made his nose tingle and sent sparks down into his lungs.

He let the feeling go when he realized his feet had taken him to his favorite part of the watch. He was in the gallery that encircled the shop floor.

100 Words a Day 437

Adam was surprised by the dark dwarf’s appearance. He was squat and wide with large eyes, as expected, but its skin was the palest he had ever seen. His outfit was made of heavy cloth, leaving only his face and hands bare. The dwarf watched the goblins unloading his wagon with disdain.

The wagon was hitched to beast that Adam didn’t recognize; no doubt it was native to the subterranean lands the dwarf called home. It had a knobby hide that reminded Adam of stone. Its large eyes were covered by a black, leather hood that matched its strange harness.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

100 Words a Day 436

“I ain’t no pilgrim,” I said in my best John Wayne voice as I approached the stall doors.

Selecting one that was ajar, I imagined I was the Duke kicking the saloon door open, and gave it a taste of my sneaker-shod heel.

It connected with a loud smack and caused the door to swing violently inward. I had only a moment to register the pair of feet and legs in what I had thought was an empty stall before hearing “Ow!”

Embarrassed, I said nothing and walked into the next stall and closed the door.

Eventually the man left.

100 Words a Day 435

“Die you little freak!”

The roving blade charged forward, intent upon the boy.

The young man backed away until he hit a wall. Looking around, he saw no escape; the townspeople had formed an impenetrable ring around him and the swordsman.

He turned back to the bravo in time to see the jeweled sword whip towards him. He raised his arms reflexively to ward off the blow, expecting a hot flash of pain. Instead, he heard a loud thunk and felt a heavy bump against the hard chitin of his crustacean arm. The sword had glanced off, leaving him unharmed.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

100 Words a Day 424

Kain felt for his next handhold, acutely aware of the need for stealth and speed, as well as the fatal drop beneath him.

After both his hands were anchored, he detached his foot from the wall. The dislodging of a small stone made him imagine the path it took as it tumbled through the abyss below. When his foot was again situated he pushed upward, feeling his rope weighing on him. Finding another foothold took longer than expected and he could feel his limbs begin to burn as his searching became frantic. He sighed with relief upon finding a toehold.

100 Words a Day 423

The last syllable faded away, plunging the room into darkness. After a moment, the circle of runes on the floor glowed a ghastly green, illuminating the chamber with a ghoulish light. The space inside the circle wavered and churned before spitting a small demon out. It raged at the old man, who ignored it, having heard it all before.

He whispered a phrase and the fiend was frozen. With a wave of the wizard’s hand, he caused the demon to float to the stout worktable, which shackled the beast. The old man selected a wicked-looking implement, and began to operate.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

100 Words a Day 422

He hit the button and was slammed back by the force of the seat ejecting. Moments later his fighter exploded, sending his chair tumbling erratically through space. Eventually he was able to stabilize himself using the maneuvering jets. The battle continued to rage around him as he floated helplessly, serenely, through space. The exchange of laser fire and explosions reminded him of a fireworks show his mother had taken him to when he was younger, before the alien attack.

Those memories came flooding back to him. He was a young boy playing in the twilight, on the Fourth of July.

100 Words a Day 421

He sat amid the destruction and said to himself: “Well, that could have been worse.”

Breaking up was certainly hard to do, but in the case of Viviana, it was also expensive. His posters were shredded on the floor; he was going to miss those. There was a hole in his wall with one of his weights hanging out of it. Shards of his mirror littered the floor, scattered among the piles of his less-breakable possessions that she had thrown or upended while raging.

As her screams faded down the block, he collected himself and started picking up the pieces.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Published in the Sun Times

I had another article published online: http://specialsections.suntimes.com/lifestyle/23274811-555/from-bored-to-board-dig-up-settlers-of-catan-for-your-next-game-night.html

100 Words a Day 420

He didn’t see any other choice; his forearm was hanging by a thread of flesh. Grimacing, he tightened a tourniquet around his arm. Finding a stick, he pulled his satchel over, extracting a saw, a needle, and some thread. After locating a suitable corpse, it was an orc, he grabbed the saw and severed the corpse’s forearm, then lined it up with the bloody stump where his own had been. He stuffed a dirty swatch of cloth into his mouth and began to sew the cooling, green flesh to his own warm, pale skin. Eventually his grisly task was complete.

100 Words a Day 419

“But they did it out of a sense of loyalty to their coach!” John said.

“Yeah and they betrayed their school and all their fans!” Jeff responded.

“So,” Veronica said, rolling her eyes before continuing. “The idea of betrayal is inherent in the concept of loyalty. Much as virtue never tested is no virtue at all, a person who never has to choose between two things isn’t loyal to anything. Basically, you guys are criticizing or praising them for making a choice in a situation where they are forced to hurt someone. I’m sure no one is happy with it.”

100 Words a Day 418

As night fell, he called upon his Shadowsight. He slipped past the guards, who huddled near their fire, unable to see as he could. Leaving them in their oasis of light in the sea of darkness, he crept up to the gate. Whispering a mystic phrase, he breached the Threshold and entered the Shadowworld. It took his vision a moment to adjust to the bizarre perspective of that parallel reality. After he had oriented himself, he slid towards the shadowform of the gate, and passed through without issue, returning to the physical world on the other side before continuing on.

100 Words a Day 417

I watched as he stood against my horde alone. Everyone else had fled, leaving the man alone to face me. He leaned upon his sword and waited for the charge of my army.

I could see from my position in the front lines that he was breathing heavy, tired from days of fighting and numerous, grave wounds.

I admired his courage, his tenacity, to stand there against insurmountable odds with nothing but determination in his eye.

I felt a twinge of regret when I ordered the charge. The death of such a man would be a loss to the world.

100 Words a Day 416

He awoke as she slipped from the bed, continuing to lay there as she prepared for her day. The process always fascinated him, that slow transformation from naked to madeup and dressed. It involved so many pieces of clothing that were alien to him and the manner of their donning strange.

That was the least of it. After using some arcane system to determine what sort of yoga getting dressed should require that day, she went into the bathroom and covered her face with an array of alchemical powders and things he didn’t have a word for before emerging transformed.

100 Words a Day 415

He looked down at his robotic leg, the latest of his cybernetic enhancements. He willed the joints through their full range of motion. They felt good, responding in a timely fashion. There were no “pain” signals that would indicate a malfunction. It wasn’t nearly as strange as his first replacement had been.

Aside from the radical alternation to his natural capabilities, which took considerable getting used to, he had felt like he had lost some of his humanity, and that was unexpected.

What surprised him this time was how he hardly felt like he had lost any humanity at all.

100 Words a Day 414

The captain entered the room where the ancestral treasure had been kept. The guards inside the chamber were dead in pools of blood, swords undrawn. The traps around the pedestal were untriggered, and he knew the guards in the mechanism room had been undisturbed the whole night. The guards outside the room had reported no problems either. The room was at the top of a tower designed to be unclimbable and there were no windows in the room. Pulling on his chin, he looked up at the ceiling, full of decorative carvings. They looked like they would make great handholds…

Monday, October 21, 2013

100 Words a Day 413

He felt a slap on his back and turned away from the bar, finding Paul before him.

“Hey man, what’s up?” Paul asked.

“Nothing,” John said, sipping at his beer. “When did you guys get here?”

“We’ve been here awhile. We saw you come in. With a girl,” Paul said with a smile. “Who’s that lady?”

“Who’s that lady,” their friend Jeff sang.

John rolled his eyes, “she’s not my girlfriend, if that’s what you are asking.”

“I wasn’t asking, but I’ll keep that in mind. She’s pretty cute.”

John rolled his eyes. “I see what you’re trying to do.”

Thursday, October 17, 2013

100 Words a Day 412

Charlie awoke early. He leapt eagerly out of his warm bed, hardly noticing the chilly air, and quickly donned his jacket and snow pants. The news had said it would snow last nigh. Sure he would have the day off, Charlie didn’t want to waste any of it inside. He careened down the hallway and nearly fell while going down the stairs two at a time before arriving at the front door where his snow boots waited. After struggling to put them on, he opened the door and was shocked to see the brown grass of his family’s expansive lawn.

100 Words a Day 411

The other two packed the camp with practiced efficiency. Ryan fumbled while trying to stow the cookware, sending a resounding clang into the night.

The others froze, listening for movement. After a moment they turned to him and glared hot daggers.

Ryan spent their night march kicking himself for what happened. How could he be such a screw up? All he had to do was pack the pans in the backpack without making noise. He was the valedictorian of his year. He’d done an internship at the most prestigious genetics lab in the country, as a senior in high school!

100 Words a Day 410

She raced down the street, dodging almost everyone, those that she didn’t, she left shaking a fist and yelling at her as she was speeding towards the corner. She was breathing hard and her feet hurt. Fortunately she had worn athletic shoes that day. She rounded the corner and the shop was in sight. She charged on, oblivious to the crowd of people shuffling along, eager to make it to the store before it closed. She caught the time on the old train station clock out of the corner of her eye as she ran by, still one minute left.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

100 Words a Day 409

The bridge groaned before giving out. Joan grabbed the rusty, metal frame, cutting her hands, but managing to hold on as it slammed into the side of the building. She spent a moment collecting herself before attempting to ascend.

Her blood-slick hands slipped and she plummeted towards the nightmares below, catching herself at the last moment on a metal bar.

She heard a frenzy in the darkness underneath that reminded her of sharks in chummed water. Blood ran down her arm, dripping silently into the blackness.

As she struggled to climb, she felt something grab her foot, with sharp teeth.

100 Words a Day 408

Rachel pulled the bloody ax out of the man’s skull, sending a spatter of gore onto the stacks of gold coins, dulling their sheen. She turned to his companions and raised her ax, holding it poised, waiting in stillness, while brain matter dripped from the blade.

They hesitated, Rachel did not. She danced among them, a whirling dervish, separating limb from body as a woodcutter hews branches from a tree.

When it was done, Rachel was panting. The floor was slick with blood. Ruined limbs and organs mixed with the disarray of gold that had been scattered during the fight.

Monday, October 14, 2013

100 Words a Day 407

The man drew a gun from his tattered fatigue jacket.

He pointed it at me.

His demands fell on deaf ears.

I was too busy trying to decide if his gun was loaded. Bullets had become rare since The Day, but it wasn’t outside the realm of possibility that he would have a few.

“Well?” the man asked.

I narrowed my eyes and said nothing.

He pulled the hammer back; it made a loud click as it locked into place.

I slowly reached down and grasped the hilt of my fighting knife. I drew the rusty, jagged blade and smiled.

100 Words a Day 406

He watched the small hut burn from atop the rocky ledge. The mob of villagers had set it alight when they saw the contents, weird and otherworldly, while beating the hermit. The myriad of strange things gave the smoke vivid colors and bizarre smells, driving the mob back. The old man’s body was inside, his misshapen corpse being consumed by the blaze. The wind shifted, moving the billowing pillar and sending the villagers scurrying away. A few got caught in the sparking blue smoke. They fell to the ground writhing. Their skin began to pulse and wiggle, slowly changing color.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

100 Words a Day 405

His run was ungainly. He still wasn’t used to having a large claw in place of a hand and it pulled him to the left. He tried to correct his gait as the villagers didn’t seem to be slowing. He threw a look over his shoulder and determined, they were in fact, gaining on him.

Looking ahead, he saw he was coming to the end of the island. There was nowhere for him to go but into the Void. Shrugging to himself, he prepared to leap. Maybe he would land on another island. Without looking back, he sailed into nothingness.

100 Words a Day 404

The emerald tablet lay on the desk next to a stack of ancient tomes and a sheaf of parchment covered in a mess of careless handwriting and cross-outs. I hardly noticed the books or the parchment though, so enchanted was I by the strange artifact.

It was a vivid, living green that seemed to shimmer in the torchlight. I had never seen, never imagined, anything like it. I ran my fingers over the gemstone tablet; it was cool to the touch and seemed to pulse with life. It was engraved with a serpentine script that was completely unknown to me.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

100 Words a Day 403

He slowly came to. The last thing he remembered was the frantic cries of the gnomes and the terrible rending of the airship breaking apart in the sky, but he was definitely somewhere else. Turning his head to one side he saw a workbench dotted with curiously shaped jars filled with liquids of colors he had never seen. One was the color of the blue flowers his mother grew, but it sparkled like impure stone. Another, the color of the morning sun, bubbled over a small flame. Each bottle was labeled in an angular script that he did not recognize.

100 Words a Day 402

There was a gnawing in his stomach and he was dizzy. His gut was bloated from hunger. The food ran out two days ago and he hadn’t seen game or forage since. He focused on putting one foot in front of the other. New Chadds Ford couldn’t be far.

He plodded along the derelict highway, through sunset and into the night. As the hours wore on, he teetered more and more before finally collapsing in the road, overcome by exhaustion. When he came to, the sun was high. He rolled over, starting when his burned neck touched the hot road.

100 Words a Day 401

He shoved the clutch in and shifted down. He felt it catch as he lifted his foot, while pushing down on the accelerator. The engine roared and the car shot forward.

They pulled alongside the black SUV they were chasing. He looked over at the other driver and saw his face of fear. Shifting up, he matched the SUV’s speed. He heard the rear window roll down and a moment later he heard several gunshots. The SUV swerved, banging off the guardrail, and slowed down. He didn’t look back as he continued down the road, merely upshifted and floored it.

100 Words a Day 400

He sat. He was unable to move. His hands were stretched out in front of him. His wrists ached. The incessant poking of his fingertips sent jolts of pain up his arm. There wasn’t space for his legs. They bent uncomfortably and no amount of shifting brought relief. About the only movement he could effect was to turn his head and see the row of similarly stooped beings that were seated in identical devices. Over it all presided a man. He gazed down on their misery hour after hour and cared not.

It was a typical day at the office.

100 Words a Day 399

Goggles secured and respirator in place, he plunged his head under the water. He could see a reef teeming with fish below him and, looking straight ahead, his vision extended far into the aqueous ether before terminating in a wall of blue. Looking back at the reef, he watched the colorful fish flit among the crevasses of the brilliant coral.

There was a flash of movement followed by utter stillness, broken only by the shimmering sunlight filtering through the clear water. He furrowed his eyebrows and looked around, finding a dark mass was slowly materializing out of the blue void.

100 Words a Day 398

The rest stop parking lot was crowded with cars of all types. Zack maneuvered their old Civic through the tangle of vehicles before parking between a sickly, tan RV and a green pickup. They all got out, Zack and Michelle to get sandwiches and Mike to look at the map. He was stepping into the road when a car roared by. He leapt back like a startled deer, landing between a black sedan and an old, white convertible. He watched as the oblivious driver screeched into a recently vacated parking spot, their bumper crunching as it hit the concrete barrier.

Friday, September 27, 2013

100 Words a Day 397

They heard a branch snap in the darkness. The quiet voices around the fire ceased and they stared into the suddenly menacing night.

Greg quietly doused the fire while Anna and Rachel picked up the spears. They positioned themselves on opposite sides of where the fire had been and scanned the darkness. Greg hunkered low near the pile of wet logs. He clutched a knife in one sweaty hand and strained to hear for movement in the night over the pounding of blood in his ears. His vision swam with fear, making it appear that the shadows were closing in.

100 Words a Day 396

Larry hauled the old mower into the hot sun and dragged it squeaking onto the lawn. He yanked on the starter cord repeatedly, building up a sweat by the time the engine sputtered to life. He engaged the blades, causing an uncomfortable vibration to run up his arms, and trudged through the heat, pushing the heavy mower before him over the bumpy lawn. The grass was hard to cut and he often had to run the dull blades over the same spot more than once. He was panting from the heat and dripping with sweat by the time he finished.

100 Words a Day 395

Her lungs were burning, but she continued running towards the storm drain; it wouldn’t be able to follow her through the small opening. As the black void of safety grew larger before her, the footfalls of the beast chasing her grew louder. Its steps pounded in her ears as she dove for the narrow opening, praying she would get though. She cleared the opening, but felt a lance of pain spike up her leg. She crashed into the side of the tunnel and was stunned for a moment. Looking back, she saw the beast clawing at her through the barrier.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

100 Words a Day 394

Jack and Sara strained their ears, trying to hear the click of the beast’s claws on the tile of the former hospital. It was stalking the hall, pausing sometimes to investigate the deteriorating rooms. They occasionally lost the rhythmic tick of its feet in the rain coming through the broken glass, but refused to move. To do so at the wrong moment meant death; so they crouched behind some rusty equipment and tried to keep from shivering as the rain soaked their backs and the gruesome creature came ever closer.

It stopped outside their room and snuffled at the door.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

100 Words a Day 393

They sat around the crackling fire, sunk deep into a pit so the light wouldn’t give them away, and passed around a few growlers someone had brought.

Frank looked across the fire at Sara, head in his hands, a sigh on his face. She was talking to Rick. She laughed and put her hand on his arm. Frank’s shoulders sagged as the air left his lungs. He wanted to tell her how he felt, but he didn’t want to interrupt her good time. That’s what he told himself anyways. It was easier than facing the fact that he was terrified.

Monday, September 23, 2013

100 Words a Day 392

Dear Boss:

Please accept this letter as my formal notification that I am leaving my position at Acme Corp as of January 1st. I would love to say thank you for the opportunities you provided me during my time at the company. But the truth is, this company is terrible, one of the worse I have ever worked at, and I was only here because I needed the money.

Now however, I have a much better job that pays me enough money that I don’t have to worry about how I will buy groceries nor pay my rent.

Sincerely,

Employee

100 Words a Day 391

The keys clacked in rapid succession, spelling out the Facebook status:

Well, I thought I was tenacious. I thought I worked hard. I thought I could break my fast on misery and sup on sorrow. I was wrong.

Acme Corp. You’ve broken me. My lease is up and I’m moving home. I’ve put in my two weeks and I hope I never see you again. You’re such a house of anguish. I’d rather spend the next year working in food service and living at home while looking for a better job than spend another moment in your halls of agony.

100 Words a Day 390

“Tickle this motherfucker!” Elmo screamed before piledriving the boy.

Having finished with the most annoying child he turned to the next and kicked her in the face, sending her head over heels, blood exploding from her ruined nose. He reached out with his crimson hands for another of the little bastards, seizing a chubby boy whom he lifted wriggling into his black void of a mouth. He bit off the boy’s head and one arm.

Anyone observing would have noted that the combination of Elmo’s eyes and the boys decapitated, mutilated body were reminiscent of Saturno devorando a su hijo.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

100 Words a Day 389

The credits rolled and that unmistakable 90s JRPG music crackled through the crappy speakers in his laptop. He had finally beaten it.

He felt an almost physical shift inside his chest, leaving him feeling somehow empty. He couldn’t articulate why, except that it was linked to him beating the game.

It was something he had been trying to do for fifteen years, a goal of his since he was little, a project he always intended to complete.

Now that it was done, it was as though a star was gone from the night sky. Things would never be the same.

100 Words a Day 388

I awoke to the smell of burning food. I jumped out of bed and rushed into the kitchen, my feet cold upon the floor.

It was like an army of children had been trying to cook. There were several mixing bowls placed haphazardly throughout, filled with unknown things. The counter was covered with flour, spatterings of some kind of batter, and what looked like chocolate chips.

On the table was a plate piled with pancakes, some were burnt and some looked mostly raw.

Over all of that chaos presided my boyfriend. When he noticed me, he smiled, saying, “Birthday breakfast?”

100 Words a Day 387

The iron bar clanked as it hit the rubber mat. Josh exhaled and flexed in the mirror, looking at his muscles ripple. They moved under his skin, forming into bulky masses. He smiled to himself, changing postures and flexing anew. His body undulated to a form, equally chiseled.

He noticed a few girls form one of the group classes looking at him as he flexed. They looked at each other, put their hands over their mouths and giggled, making Josh puff up even more. Unbeknownst to him, they were laughing about how silly he looked, admiring himself in the mirror.

100 Words a Day 386

The distant rumble warned of the imminent danger. The husband and wife looked up the hill, ski poles in hand, and watched the white wave begin to slide down the mountain. Looking back, the snowboarder saw the avalanche beginning to form and he pointed his board down the hill, hoping to escape. The ski patrol team rushed to their snowmobiles, anticipating the frantic search for survivors they would soon be engaged in. The cook stood at his grill and watched it silently. Over all of it presided the man who started the avalanche, watching from his vantage point with binoculars.

100 Words a Day 385

Suddenly I found a space had opened around me. I was surrounded by men from both armies. They stood and looked at me and the other man in the circle. He was before me as a pillar of iron, so encased in metal was his figure. Hefting his sword, as long as a normal man was tall, he strode towards me. As he neared I saw the details of his armor. All the pieces matched, colored black with bare iron trim. The chest plate was shaped like a strange beast’s head with a mouth covered in gore from previous opponents.

100 Words a Day 384

Jose had grown up poor; his dirty white pants and shirt hung loosely on his slight frame. They were spattered with color from the various houses he had painted. There were fresh splotches, pastel green, from his latest job. The speckles on his face stained his thick moustache and contrasted sharply with his dark skin.

He sat on the sidewalk and ate his lunch. The white bag was stained with grease coming off the contents. There were three tacos in the bag, filled with grilled meats, topped with bright bits of tomato and lettuce, and accented with onion and cilantro.

100 Words a Day 383

“Ladies and gentlemen, from Chicago Illinois: It’s Narrative Imperative!”

The spotlight on the announcer went down and the stage lights went up.

The roar of the crowd was a cacophony, rivaling the volume of the bright, crisp chords that rang out from the amplifiers as the band charged into their first song.

The first verse blazed through the crowd, sending them into a frenzy. When the chorus started, they transformed from a mass of bodies to a singular entity, singing about how Catcher in the Rye wasn’t good.

The song ended on a Five-One, which the band let ring out.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Settler of Catan: A Game in a Rose-Colored Box

“I just played this amazing game that you’ve probably never heard of,” is what I would have said about Settlers of Catan after I first played it, if hipsters had existed in 1997. Like many people, it was my first Euro Game. I remember being enchanted by its complexity compared to games like Sorry or Life. It certainly lacked the convolution of Monopoly, but who really knows how to play that anyway? I rediscovered it in college and it was still a great game. Piles of Euro Games and sixteen years later though, I have come to the conclusion that it is in fact not the amazing game I thought it was.

Settlers has a number of mechanics that the majority of people are already familiar with, making it easy to learn. The most obvious is dice rolling. We are exposed to dice games throughout our lives, whether it be through Monopoly, Craps, or Clue, and everyone understands that when certain combinations come up, specific things happen. Placing towns and road segments down is essentially betting that the given numbers will come up with enough significance to allow you to win, as in gambling. Most are also familiar with the idea of attempting to acquire specific combinations of cards, as in poker, and using probability or trading to get them. Everyone who went to a school with a basketball court is familiar with the scoring system in Catan, first to a given number.

Catan, and Euro Games in general, really shine when it comes to negotiating. Generally speaking, the ability to wheel and deal is essential. If you can make and break alliances effectively, you can stall out other players while advancing your own cause, just like in high school. Negotiating is an activity that everyone has engaged in since they were able to, and as such, doing so in Catan comes naturally.

While these features of Catan make it extremely accessible to people new to Euro Games, there are several features that hurt the game’s playability. The random distribution of tiles can create situations where low-probability numbers saturate a given resource, making the game run long. There is a setup in the rules that is balanced. I have never seen, or even heard, of anyone using it though. The die mechanic further exacerbates the randomness, which increases game length and unpredictability. This can increase the playtime dramatically. When I mentioned how I was discussing the flaws of Catan to a friend of mine, the first thing they said was that it takes a million years to play. During a given round of play, there is one player active at a time, except for the trading phase. If each player spends time pondering their moves, which they must since the board changes from turn to turn and there is negotiating to consider, it can cause the game to lag. Finally, in three player games, invariably one will fall behind and have no chance of winning. At that point, whoever they support will win.

Settlers of Catan offers players an introduction to Euro Games that is replete with known mechanics that make gameplay easy to learn. They are familiar to anyone who grew up playing games like Sorry, Go Fish, or Monopoly. Though these mechanics make a wonderful stepping stone into Euro Games, they do not create a gameplay experience that is of the caliber of other such games. The numerous randomizing factors can have a deleterious effect of balance, increasing game length and reducing enjoyment. While Catan is a useful tool for introducing new players to more sophisticated board games, it quickly shows its age.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

I was published on the Chicago Suntimes website

http://specialsections.suntimes.com/sports/22525427-555/chicago-wushu-redefines-martial-arts.html

100 Words a Day 382

“Miles to go before I sleep.”

“Miles to go before I sleep.”

He ceased his mantra and placed his palm against a tree, hunching over and panting. Recovering his breath, he tried a new strategy. Adopting his best baritone, he began singing Marry Ellen Carter. Invigorated, he began trudging again. He continued on through the cold, snowy night. They found his frozen corpse the next day where he had fallen.

Since then, people walking along the roads on cold nights have claimed to have heard a man’s eerie singing. The voice accompanies them a ways before fading into the night.

100 Words a Day 381

“Yes!” Jack cried, his exuberance sending his keyboard flying.

“No!” Blake screamed, throwing his keyboard to the floor.

A moment later, the realization that the match was ended brought the crowd to their feet, roaring.

The two young men made their way to the main stage where the shoutcaster waited, Jack giddy with elation, Blake folded practically in half.

Wow!” The shoutcaster exclaimed. “Wow! What a finish, huh?” He paused while the audience again came to life for the second time.

“Well, Jack,” the announcer said. “How does it feel to be the first winner of the First Galactic Championship?”

100 Words a Day 380

Dinner was in the oven. He was en route. Her friends had talked up her cooking all week. Her makeup was a little smoky and her outfit was sharp. Her hair smelled great; she was brimming with confidence.

She answered the door, beaming. He complimented her outfit; she glanced away, smiling, before saying he looked great too. She led him to the dining room, bouncing her hair so the smell trailed her. She sat him and went to get dinner.

There was no rush of heat when the door opened and she realized she’d forgotten to turn the oven on.

100 Words a Day 379

“Master, why are we going to the Laughing Dragon? Surely a hero of noble character would never frequent such a place,” the servant whined.

“Good men can be found among rogues,” his master said before opening the shabby door.

The interior of the teahouse was thick with the smell of unwashed bodies and cheap wine. There was a smoky haze that obscured the far wall of the dingy, dark place. The buzz of conversation ceased when the master stepped through the door. The patrons considered him briefly before returning to their drinks. Taking no notice, the master found a table.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Tan Tui: A Complete System in 24 Lines

Tan Tui is one of the most famous Chinese martial arts styles that most people have never heard of. Especially popular in China’s Muslim community and immortalized as part of the curriculum of Jing Mo, it has been incorporated into many different systems and has numerous variations. Generally taught to beginners, it consists of eight to twelve rows of single person techniques and eight to twelve rows of two person techniques. Each move has a variety of applications, some more obvious than others.

There are several reasons Tan Tui has proliferated to such a large degree. Unlike many systems, Tan Tui is a series of linear forms or techniques, often called roads. This allows a large number of people to learn them at the same time. When combined with the large number of repetitions of each technique, it makes memorizing them easier than a form with fifty different moves. Even the order of the lines is purposeful; lines that are similar are never practiced back to back to ensure one of the lines isn’t accidentally lost. Despite the varied applications that can be derived from the system, the actual number of gross movements is fairly limited. For example, Tan Tui has only five stances: Horse, Bow, Resting, Empty, and Crouch. These five stances, but primarily Horse and Bow, support all the hand techniques of the system.

There is no wasted space in Tan Tui. Each technique has a variety of applications. Enough of them are obvious that a beginner has a body of techniques they can practice without becoming bored, but as the practitioner invests more sweat equity and spends more time thinking about each move, it pays dividends in new applications. A number of the lines are variations on ones that came before, automatically forcing the practitioner to think about recombining the moves, if for no other reason than to practice the lines correctly.

The two person lines build on the skills learned in the single person lines, while adding in things like timing and spacing. Of particular note though, is the frequency with which forearm conditioning is evinced. The forearm is a major striking point within the system, as it can cause greater damage when used in lieu of a hand chop or similar technique. The large, sweeping movements of many of the forearm conditioning techniques also teach the practitioner to connect the upper and lower body and generate a crushing blow. The two person lines also enhance the practitioner’s understanding of the system by elucidating particular applications from the single person form or presenting the techniques with a new twist.

The fundamental skills included in Tan Tui are universally applicable to all Chinese martial arts and mindful time invested in it is never wasted. Each technique has numerous applications that can be discovered through training, giving it value even for the experienced practitioner. While the system lacks some of the advanced techniques, or even stances, of other martial arts, it is a gateway system that is used to give students a strong set of fundamentals. Training Tan Tui, especially for the beginner, may not seem that glamorous, much in the same way that doing fundamentals drills in sports is generally considered boring. Just as those drills improve your overall game in sports though, Tan Tui improves your overall martial arts skill.

100 Words a Day 378

It had been an innocent remark, nothing more than jest. But its impact was tremendous, sending him spiraling into a deep melancholy.

A man’s ego can be a fragile thing, but it is as the most delicate glass figurine in the hands of a woman he respects. Her power to hold it up and make it sparkle in the light or smash it at her feet is perhaps greater than she knows.

This was the case with Sara, who had no idea the number of pieces Zack was trying to pick up off the floor, with hands slippery from tears.

100 Words a Day 377

Biff laughed as he ran off, leaving Carter in a puddle. His books had spilled out of his hands and into the water and were soaking.

Having long ago resigned himself to such a fate, Carter didn’t even sigh, merely searched for his glasses. They appeared before him. Putting them on, he saw a hand. Following it up the attached arm, he realized it was Veronica’s hand.

“Thanks, Veronica!” he said, beaming.

She pulled him to his feet, smiling when their hands touched. As she helped him pick up his books, he thought it was like a dream come true.

100 Words a Day 376

“Ugh,” Ross thought, “Chad.”

Chad was the one person in Ross’ circle of friends that he could not stand. Ross wasn’t friends with him; Chad always tagged along with Max whenever they all went somewhere.

“Guys,” Chad said. “We should play this new board game I found. It’s so new you’ve probably never heard of it.” He twirled his moustache as he spoke the last sentence.

“It’s called,” he paused for dramatic effect, “Settlers of Catan.”

That was all Ross could take: “Motherfucker” he exclaimed. “I’ve been playing that game for fifteen fucking years. Haven’t heard of it my ass!”

100 Words a Day 375

Jessica glided through the kitchen, her feet floating across the cool tiles as she danced from task to task. She hummed her mood as she chopped the broccoli. Finishing, she dropped it in the pot on the stove. The water boiled cheerfully, and she knew it would turn out great.

She plopped down on the couch and waited for dinner to finish. She had timed it so each dish would finish at the same time.

After draining the broccoli, she selected a spice shaker, giving the tender greens several generous shakes before she realized she had picked up the cinnamon.

100 Words a Day 374

The furious impact jarred the sword from his cold, stiff fingers and nearly made him lose his footing on the narrow ice-bridge. The blade sailed silently through the ether before plummeting into the still abyss beneath the two fighters.

The other man smiled and stalked towards his unarmed opponent, eager to finish the young challenger and return to the fire crackling in his tent.

The young man looked around. Finding nothing of value, the bridge was free of anything that could be used as a weapon, he began retreating from the doom that awaited him in the old man’s hands.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

100 Words a Day 373

The realtor opened the door to the apartment.

Her heels echoed on the hardwood floors as she entered behind him. When they had passed into the living room he rattled off the features of the place: “It’s two bedrooms, two baths, and a balcony.”

“I like the flooring,” she said, drifting around the room, peeking into the kitchen and living room.

“Can I see the balcony?”

“Of course. I think it’s through here,” he said, leading the way towards the back of the apartment, through the master bedroom and onto the large balcony.

“The view is something else,” she said.

100 Words a Day 372

“Let me tell you how I really feel,” he said, pointing a finger at the man behind the large desk of Brazilian wood. “If this whole building was a smoldering crater when I got to work in the morning, I’d be happy. I wouldn’t care who’d been in it. The building could be a smoldering ruin that had been full of babies destined to bring World Peace, end Hunger, cure cancer, and other good things, but I’d still be happy I didn’t have to work. I’d just be sad I’d gotten all the way down her before I found out.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Spoiling Chrono Trigger without Chrono

My friend and I recently beat Chrono Trigger without Chrono, and it is quite nearly the best ending of any video game I have played, marred only by what I would call a generational genre convention and the need to keep little kids from crying.

My first complaint about the ending stems from its place in the, if I may wax academic for a moment, historical context in which it was created. Chrono Trigger is an SNES JRPG, and like most iconic games that can be classified in such a fashion, there are moments designed to make the player chuckle. Normally this adds a nice bit of flavor to the story. In this case it dilutes the impact of the ending, in which the main character of the story is dead.

The sudden reappearance of the entire cast on a quest to revive Chrono when a gate opens, after Gasper had just explained that the gates were going to close forever, undermines the definitiveness of Chrono’s death, as established at the End of Time. I have heard two possible explanations for such a scene in the ending. The first was that the designers wanted to establish that there was a way to bring Chrono back, if the player had not already figured it out. The emphasis placed on the Time Egg earlier, it seems to me, did a nice job of that. The second explanation was that they wanted to keep kids from being sad that Chrono died.

Accounting for the preceding design decisions, the ending presents us with one of, if not the, saddest ending I have ever seen in an RPG. After defeating Lavos, the characters are returned to the End of Time. At the moment of their elation, their greatest triumph, the saving of everything on the planet that ever was or will be, they are informed that the gates are closing. The magnitude of their success is forgotten in a mad rush to return to their appropriate times, and various commitments, like Kino and Queen Leene. Marle pleads with her friends to help her save Chrono, but her words fall on callous ears. As the gates slowly close, even she must bow her head and return to her own time as Lucca provides her with the cold comfort of science, informing her that everyone dies eventually. We are left with the Guru of Time, alone, about to be stranded in the End of Time, when he discovers the C. Trigger, abandoned in everyone’s frenzied haste to return to the correct era.

When Marle returns to Guardia, the Millennium Fair is in full swing. This scene is familiar, though notable for its lack of any of the other characters. The standard fanfare and dialogues are present, until you find Chrono’s mom. She has the same sort of line as when you visit her in her house after Chrono dies; she wants to know where Chrono is. It’s fairly mundane, until the moment in which you realize that, after the curtain closes, someone will have to tell her that her only son, and only child, is not only dead, but was obliterated, making her a woman who has lost not only the father of her only child, but has outlived the child in question. After the credits, the game leaves us with Marle, sitting under a tree with the silhouette of Chrono walking endlessly within the moon, a mere shade and living on only in memory.

The final image of the ending leaves us with a singular emotion that sums up the previous scenes, loneliness. After saving the world, the party is shattered; torn apart by the compulsion to return to their own times. Not even Lucca, who shares an era with Marle, has any comfort to offer the princess. Even the celebratory atmosphere of the Millennium Fair is spoiled by our knowledge that Marle is doomed to tell Chrono’s mom of his destruction. The closing of the game, Marle sitting under the tree, is actually the moment when she is closer to Chrono than she has been during the entire ending. Sadly, she is sharing the screen with Chrono’s shadow, showing us that despite this moment of proximity, Marle is still alone. As the ending finishes, we too are left with that same loneliness of Marle, acutely feeling Chrono’s absence.

100 Words a Day 371

“You only YOLO once, after all,” he said to himself, gripping the microphone nervously. The eight bar intro started and he swallowed. It did a poor job of moistening his throat.

“I should have had another drink,” he thought. “Actually, I guess it was the drink that got me into this in the first place.”

The words came on the screen and he opened his mouth to sing, but his throat issued only a rasp. He tried to summon up enough saliva to swallow again, but his mouth was stone dry.

It made him think of that George Thorogood song.

100 Words a Day 370

That hand. His gaze was inexorably drawn to it; so close was it to his own. He was at once pulled to and repulsed by it, that lovely, alien thing. His fingers inched towards it of their own accord even as his heart raced with anxiety at what would happen if he touched it. His eyes darted back and forth between her hand and her face, desperate to see if she had noticed what was going on. Her eyes were on the movie and she appeared oblivious to the titanic, epic struggle going on between his hand and his brain.

100 Words of Day 369

I started awake when I felt a jolt. I was on a bed in an unfamiliar place. Wandering, and seeing no evidence of another member of humanity, I eventually found the exterior deck of what I realized was a ship. The jolt must have been caused when we struck the land that extended out as far as the eye could see in either direction. The land, like the ship, was lifeless as far as I could tell. An eerie silence pervaded the air, broken only by the lapping of the waves on the queer shore, but I was strangely calm.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

100 Words a Day 368

He heard the unmistakable sound when he opened the door. The aliens shoes, occupying the space normally reserved for his, made him certain. Unthinking, he shut the door, retreated back down the lonely hall, finally taking refuge in the elevator. He was benumbed as he descended, arriving on the first floor with a shudder running through his body just as the elevator ground to a halt.

He had suspected for some time. Hearing the confirmation was more than he could take.

When he stepped out into the cold, January weather he was shocked by how it contrasted with the steamy apartment.

100 Words a Day 367

He crept from the bed, careful to keep the covers undisturbed. She shifted slightly as he stood, but did not wake.

He went about preparing for his day in a silence broken only by the sizzling of breakfast. He perused the paper as he ate. After, he deposited the dishes in the sink when he finished, being sure to give them a quick rinse.

Before leaving, he returned to the bedroom. Bending over, he gave her lips a kiss that was as light and warm as the sunbeams that were just beginning to stream through the cracks in the blinds.

100 Words a Day 366

Felix’s business was very successful. He retained many practices that had fallen out of favor with other pharmacists. Whenever possible he mixed children’s medicine in lollipops or sweet lozenges for example. It was a little more expensive, but parents appreciated how much easier it was to get their kids to take medicine. He also knew all of his customers, and their children, by name. From when he was young, his father taught him the importance of things like that.

He had inherited the practice from his father when he retired, just like his father had inherited it from his grandfather.

100 Words a Day 365

I felt my lips part in a smile that reflected hers, coy and knowing. Her eyes, normally reflective pools of beauty, were luminous, and my breath fled. I felt my heart’s anxious beat as our lips drifted closer, tension tightening my chest. Her smile widened as our noses touched, I saw a flash of a giggle in her eyes. Our noses caressed for another moment before we moved even closer. Staring into each other’s eyes, we dared one another to move. When our lips finally met, it was an instant between two moments and the whole world ceased to exist.

100 Words a Day 364

We locked eyes when I looked up, driven by an unaccountable urge. She smiled at me and I returned it before going back to making notes. The bus jolted, wrenching my pen from my hands, and casting at her feet. She returned it with a shy smile that I again reciprocated. She must have felt emboldened, because she asked me what I was writing.

“It’s an outline for a novel,” I replied.

“That’s so cool!” she exclaimed. “What’s it about?

I related the plot with some trepidation, assuming she would find it uninteresting. Her interest was evident in her eyes.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

100 Words a Day 363

The coffee cascaded out of the pot and filled the plain, white mug, splashing off the bottom before settling in a warm, brown pool. It failed to recover from being unceremoniously agitated as it was again disturbed by a breath of cool air that caused a fresh ripple across its surface. The coffee eventually settled, the only movement the aromatic steam, floating silently upwards, that the coffee released as it cooled. After an indeterminate amount of time, the coffee was hoisted into the air, its vessel upended so that it could flow down the lightless throat of the sleepy maker.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

100 Words a Day 362

Greg deposited the check at the ATM. At the end of the transaction it spit out a receipt with a balance greater than he had ever had. He’d quit his desk job that morning, told them not to bother scheduling him for the next two weeks even. Then he had called his friend’s mom. She’d helped him out a lot when he had needed it; so he invited her to dinner to thank her. Obligations completed, he decided to splurge. Unfortunately for the reader, after being as poor as Greg had been, splurging involved buying a new pair of pants.

100 Words a Day 361

He walked out of the office with a light step, knowing he would never have to walk back in. His lack of a next job caused trepidation to rise within. He could find temp work though. Words like hate, loathing, repugnance, and asco pushed that worry back down, before settling themselves in the pit of his stomach.

The need for rent and food provided him the incentive he needed to get up in the morning and look for a job, though he hated looking. The bile that rose when he thought of his old job sustained him when he flagged.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

100 Words a Day 360

As you can see, I’m nearing 365 entries. I would say rapidly, but things have really been stuttering. Because of that, if you haven’t seen it, I made a Twitter account, @darthkwandoh, in case getting a tweet about updates is easier than checking the blog every so often.

The plan is to move back to daily updates, but I don’t expect that until October, which is when I will have internet.

Also, someone commented that they wanted to see a full story made out of entry number 234, so that will be the basis for my NaNoWriMo entry this year.

100 Words a Day 359

“I can’t believe you read that text!” she exclaimed, her face turning red from laughter and embarrassment.

“You asked me a question, and when I turned it was right there,” he replied.

She rolled over to the far side of the bed, hiding her face with her body and cradling it in her hands.

“You weren’t supposed to see that.” She was again overcome by laughter and, shaking, rolled off the bed, hitting the floor with a thump.

He sat in a stunned silence, not sure what to do.

A hand appeared, and after a moment, a voice. “I’m okay.”

100 Words a Day 358

The sound of water running through the pipes in the wall woke me and I knew my mother was preparing breakfast. Stretching, I came more fully awake, blinking and running my tongue around my mouth before swallowing and dispelling the dryness that had accumulated there in the night. I threw the covers aside and leapt out of bed. Tearing into the kitchen, I saw my mother adding something to the big pot she always made breakfast in.

She gave me a radiant smile. “Good morning,” she said with the unfettered love that only a mother of a young child knows.

100 Words a Day 357

We were seated at the dinner table, the long one with the leaves, eating with the Jeffersons from down the street. My parents had been friends with them for years. I was forced me to sit across from their daughter, Stephanie. She was about my age and I couldn’t stand her. At least, that’s how dinner started. We traded barbs across the table and received strange expressions from the adults. Unlike in the past, neither of us were reprimanded. As the night wore on, I found her comments more infuriating, but discovered I wanted her approval rather than her scorn.

100 Words a Day 356

“Alex we need to talk,” Jessica said, filling the air with tension.

“Okay,” he said, oblivious to the aforementioned tension.

“I want to stop sleeping together.”

“Oh,” Alex replied, a look of confusion, with a hint of pain, visible on his face for an instant. “Why?”

“You’re a lot of fun to hang out with and all. And playtime is a lot fun, but I’m just not feeling it anymore.”

“Oh…Why?”

“I don’t know exactly. I’m just not,” she replied, the lack of surety heavy in her voice.

“I thought we were having a great time. What’s changed?” he asked.

100 Words a Day 355

“Look Diane, I think we should cool things down a little. I’m feeling like things are getting too serious.”

“What do you mean?”

“About which?”

“Both.”

“I think we should stop sleeping together. It’s feeling too much like a relationship and I want to be unattached and I don’t want you to get hurt.”

“I’ll be fine Jack.”

“I want to believe you, but I would feel terrible if something happened. I just think it’d be for the best.”

“How is it like a relationship, Jack? What do we do that is remotely couple-like?”

“Well, like, kissing goodbye and stuff.”

100 Words a Day 354

The telephone woke him, the high-pitched tone rattling his brain. He struggled out of his bed sheets, reaching his phone in time to miss it. He set the phone down as a wave of nausea undulated through his abdomen. He staggered back into the soft mattress.

After a moment he realized she was gone.

He sat up, fighting to keep the room still. He couldn’t find her. After a moment he noticed his TV was missing. Confused, he looked around, several things were gone. His roving eye eventually found his clock. If correct, he had been asleep for several days.

100 Words a Day 353

They lay in bed with the TV on, neither speaking. They ignored the rerun, lost as they were in their own insecurities.

He felt unsatisfactory, inadequate, failed. It wasn’t that he wasn’t enjoying himself; he just didn’t have that same urge to go the distance and so worried she was unsatisfied.

She was worried she wasn’t pretty, or that she was doing something wrong. She was satisfied, but felt like he wasn’t and she didn’t know what to do about it.

So they both laid there, personally satisfied with the experience, but terrified they had left the other person wanting.

100 Words a Day 352

He pushed the cart slowly down the aisle until he could serve the first passengers. He quickly became absorbed by the process, remembering drink orders only long enough to dispense them.

The cart trundled along, Steve almost unaware of the drinks and pleasantries he was serving. An angry man broke his trance:

“There’s too much ice in this. You guys charge an arm and a leg for a ticket and then stiff on the drinks!”

“I’m sorry, sir” Steve replied. “If you want I can give you a glass with less ice or I can give you the whole can.”

100 Words a Day 351

The office gave polite applause when they announced who had received the promotion. Anyone familiar with the group would have noticed the strained undertones. No one liked Thad. A silent groan had reverberated through the office when his named was announced. He was hard enough to work with as a colleague; everyone was dreading having him as a boss. No doubt his abrasive attitude would grow coarser and his tendency to be demeaning more pronounced. When the director ended the floor meeting his voice was replaced by the agitated hum created by numerous discussions of the implications of the promotion.

100 Words a Day 350

Jessica sat on the porch, head in hands, rocking in her grandmother’s squeaky chair, and stared down the lane. The humidity made her outfit cling with an insidious stickiness that defied all escape attempts. She wanted to be at work. It was air conditioned and her friends would be there. Maybe Vlad, the new boy with the unusual accent, would be there. Instead she was stuck on the porch, waiting for a package. It was the last day they would try to deliver it before returning it to the sender, so she had no choice but to sit and wait.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

100 Words a Day 349

“Get the blasphemer!” was all I heard before my eyes were blinded by pain. After a moment my vision returned. I felt a throb at the back of my head. Probing with my fingers, I discovered a tender lump and a small gash. Turning I saw a pack of Grellists advancing towards me with a determined stride. I stood frozen, idly noticing a bloody rock a few feet in front of me. As they neared, I saw their faces twisted in bestial fury. My eyes widened and I sucked in a breath, turned, and fled as fast as I could.

100 Words a Day 348

“How do you like the potatoes?” Neil asked Veronica.

“Oh, they’re good,” she replied absently, not noticing how he leaned forward and seemed to hold onto her every word.

She went back to the conversation she had been having with Courtney, and ignored Neil. He waited another moment to see if she would say anything before leaving.

“Neil has the same pride in those simple potatoes that people from a small town have for their incidental participation in a historical event of minor importance,” Amelia remarked to John with a hint of sadness just below the surface of her expression.

100 Words a Day 347

He held off believing until the check cleared. Once the money was in his account he allowed it to hit him. When he saw the amount, the elation made him almost lose his seat. As the sensation faded, it was replaced by the heavy realization of what he had agreed to. It was what he wanted to do, but the possibility of failure weighed heavily on him. That turned to determination, to succeed and never wake up hating the coming day again. He finally settled on happiness. It was a happiness so intense he not only cried, but became nauseous.

100 Words a Day 346

“The whole thing was pretty weird,” Lawrence told Danny.

“How’s that?”

“Well, we got back to her place and she offered me a drink.”

“Okay.”

“Then she goes, ‘let me slip into something more comfortable,’ disappears and comes back in a lacy number and asks me what I think.”

“Sounds awesome, dude.”

“I don’t know man. It was hot or whatever, but it seemed weirdly scripted, like she’d gotten it out of a textbook or something. Anyway, the whole night felt like that. Even when I was leaving the next day, it was like being in a movie or something.

100 Words a Day 345

She made an elaborate breakfast the next day. People didn’t do that in his experience. As he was eating, he realized she must love making breakfast. Pancakes and hash browns he asked for, and that was what he received. She even made the pancakes from scratch without making a mess.

After breakfast she invited him, coyly, to stay, but he had things to take care of. Someone owed him some money, and he meant to collect. His demeanor changed as he reached the sidewalk. The look of contentment was replaced by one of cruel determination. He seemed a different person.

100 Words a Day 344

When I was a boy learning to kill, they told me to thrust my sword deep into my enemy’s bowels. I’ve since learned you shouldn’t unless you can cleave the man in two. I learned that lesson in my first raid.

I was facing another youth who, in retrospect, had the same lanky, awkward movements as myself. His first thrust was ungainly and I sidestepped easily before burying my blade deep in his innards, where it lodged in the bone.

I had my foot on his chest, pulling furiously, when I saw an ax preparing to descend on my skull.

100 Words a Day 343

A wide circle formed around the man, greater than a step and a sword length, and I was impressed. A man who could inspire such caution, or fear, in troops so covered with death must be an adversary of worthy proportions indeed. He was so drenched in gore I could not make out even the color of his skin where it was left bare by his leathers. He sprang forward like a jackrabbit, closing with one of the men and lashing out like a scorpion with his cruelly barbed sword. The man cried out as the sword stung his neck.

Monday, August 5, 2013

100 Words a Day 342

The road was smooth and straight. The car’s wheels hugged the asphalt and the driver watched the featureless desert scream by. The interior of the car was quiet; the only sounds were the radio, playing the Eagles, and the air conditioning, blowing cool air on the driver’s face and legs. One hand rested on the lowest point of the steering wheel. The other was placed on the shifter, not because she was preparing to change gear, simply out of habit. Her foot stayed steady on the accelerator, cruise control was for wimps, as she reached forward and moved the dial.

100 Words a Day 341

The voice on the radio faded. It got quieter and quieter until it was barely a whisper. Then the battery died and there was silence. The silence was then replaced with the terror of utter solitude.

The sound of water dripping from a leak in the pipes filled his ears, blocking out the noises of the urban wild that filtered through the small window. That regular sound, the drip-drip of the water, would have gone unnoticed in the bustling workshop that had been here before.

John was totally alone. The broadcast had been recorded, but it was better than nothing.

100 Words a Day 340

The trees were just hazy shapes emerging from the heavy fog.

“Wow! It looks just like LotR!”

I turned to my little brother and rolled my eyes: “you are such a nerd sometimes.”

“What?” he exclaimed. “It does!”

I shook my head and we lapsed into silence. As we sat, the fog rolled slowly forward, engulfing the shadowy trees. It worked its way up the hill, creeping forward as though hoping to avoid notice.

Eventually it reached the deck we were standing on. We looked down at it as it swallowed up the posts supporting floor, its tendrils twining upwards.

100 Words a Day 339

He finally screwed up his courage and walked towards her. His heart knocked out several hard reps for each unsteady step. His legs were shaking. The other sounds in the room faded, drowned out by his footfalls, which echoed loudly in his ears. He felt like a condemned man walking towards the gallows.

She was standing alone, the friends she was with having gone to the bathroom. He tried to go quickly, but ended up hurrying, bumping into several people. Untangling and apologizing, he found himself next to her. It was his chance. He opened his mouth and began speaking.

100 Words a Day 338

He awoke on the verge of vomiting. Staggering out of bed, he dragged his doubled-over torso to the bathroom. Hands on knees, he stood over the toilet as his stomach coiled and twisted. The sensation of imminent vomiting slowly faded and he sighed with relief. Straightening up, he stumbled back to his bedroom to turn off his alarm, which was blaring. Still dizzy, he leaned against the wall while his head settled and his shallow breathing normalized. Thinking back, he wondered what he had eaten. After a moment it hit him. It was Monday; he had to go to work.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

100 Words a Day 337

I shifted for the umpteenth time, sending a restless creak through the quiet hall.

I cursed the old, uncomfortable chair as an assortment of eyes turned towards me, again. I could feel a variety of emotions being born on those stares, irritation, indignance, anger. I endured it all with my gaze averted, a look of discomfort on my face.

The Chant Leader stopped his drone and the choir followed suit. Before long I could feel everyone’s eyes on me. The old man leading the chant raised a wizened hand, pointed a boney finger at me, and parted his cracking lips.