Tuesday, April 30, 2013

100 Words a Day 255

“Ours is a fractured, divided land. The many peoples make war on their neighbors with the frequency of waves crashing on the shore.”

“What are waves?”

“When the water meets the land, it laps at it the way a dog laps at puddle.”


“The law extends only as far as a man’s sword arm and is only as strong as the steel the sword is made of.”

“Everyone, from the lowliest farmer to the highest lord, must learn the art of combat to defend themselves. Bandits abound and great beasts prey on the unwary, be they man or livestock.”

Monday, April 29, 2013

100 Words a Day 254

“Ah shit,” he said. The words were lost in the wind. His parachute didn’t open.

After a moment, he realized he was calm. He found it strange. Here he was, plunging to his death, no possibility of help, and all he could do was cogitate on his state of mind.

Objects on the ground grew larger as he fell. He marveled at what he saw as the details came into focus. Despite being thousands of feet up in the air, it was as though he could see every leaf on every tree.

The ground continued to get closer and closer.

100 Words a Day 253

His feet hurt. He continued walking. His feet were sweaty and the broken blisters pained him with each step.

He did the best to ignore the pain and focus on reaching help.

He wanted to run, but that would tire him out and slow him down, better to keep a steady pace.

The trail wound on, the foliage unchanging. The only indication that he was making any progress was his ragged breathing.

He wiped his brow without slowing. He summoned up what saliva he could, thick and gummy, and swallowed it. He let out a loud exhale and struggled on.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

100 Words a Day 252

The knife entered silently, but its course was altered slightly when it glanced off a rib.

She smiled when she saw the grimace of pain on her victim’s face and heard the gasp, of both surprise and pain, when the blade penetrated the woman’s flesh.

The victim pawed at her assailant, her weakened hands unable to find purchase. Her strength continued to fail her and her arms finally fell to her sides before she collapsed against her desk.

The knife-wielder pushed the body to the floor, leafed through a stack of exams and, upon finding hers, gave herself an A.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

100 Words a Day 251

The circumference of the tree was enormous. It’s height unimaginable. The young man stood in the shade of the tree, amazed that there was a town sheltered beneath the gentle shade its leaves provided.

“I planted this seed,” the aged man standing beside him said.

“You planted this?” he responded incredulously.

“Yes, when I was but a young whelp, hardly aware of the world, let alone the universe.”

“Did you bring me here to show me this? To teach me something?” the young man asked.

“No. I care not for this tree, but the inn makes a fine, red ale.”

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

100 Words a Day 250

The last box had been put on the truck. The master bedroom was half-empty and the upstairs one was bare.

The house was empty but for one. Tears streamed down her eyes. It had been necessary, but the pain overwhelmed her universe all the same.

She wanted to run outside and tell them she had changed her mind, but she knew it would be a mistake.

She had tried to get them to understand, but she wasn’t able to get through to them. Maybe it was her fault for not trying harder, maybe it wasn’t. Either way, they were gone.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

100 Words a Day 249

He put the onions in the pan and let them simmer in the olive oil. They noise they made told him the temperature was correct.

When they had turned translucent and soft, he added the garlic. After a few moments, the smell of the cooking garlic began to permeate the room.

Before he threw the peppers in, he turned the temperature up. When they hit the oil they began to crackle; it was music to his ears.

The final ingredient was the meat. He turned the heat back down so it wouldn’t burn as it cooked.

The doorbell chimed pleasantly.

Monday, April 22, 2013

100 Words a Day 248

He hit the Drop Call button, hanging up the phone. He scratched his head, dislodging his headset slightly.

A spiral cord ran from the headset to the phone, a chain made of wires covered in grey plastic. It kept him bound to the desk, a slave to the repetitive task of dialing. In some sense, it was like being chained to a loom in a sweatshop. The work wasn’t as arduous, but it was broiling.

The neutral colors were oppressive, stifling any positivity he felt. How he longed for a vibrant red or an oceanic blue to lift him up.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

100 Words a Day 247

He felt his heart racing. It beat so hard, it was as though it wanted to burst forth from his chest and flee of its own accord from whatever stalked him. His lungs burned, but he struggled to hold his breath, not wanting to make a sound.

His mouth went dry. He dared not swallow, afraid that even that small sound would give him away. His eyes were closed. Keeping them shut meant he wouldn’t have to blink to keep them lubricated.

Eventually it became too much. In one wild moment, he blinked, swallowed and fled, screaming into the night.

100 Words a Day 246

The castle was resplendent in the warm dawn. There was a light breeze that made the red and orange pennants snap like twigs in a fire.

The guards atop the walls could smell the cooking fires of the besieging army. The early morning light cast the land in a pale, blue tint, making the bright fires stand out like stars at twilight. The smoke drifted upwards, dispersing among the eddies and currents of the wind.

As the soldiers finished their meals, the wind brought with it a different smell. It was the smell of disease, brought on by total war.

100 Words a Day 245

She didn’t know how long she’d been in the basement. The years of isolation with only the Mahjong set to entertain her had shattered her.

Mahjong was a four player game; she became four people. One was her original personality, well, original as possible. The second was a young girl who played impulsively. The third was an old woman who played slow and sly. She usually won. The final player was a middle aged woman who was new to the game.

They played the game day in and day out, breaking only to eat the food that appeared from nowhere.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

100 Words a Day 244

“There’s no such thing as objective reality!” Seth insisted. “Look man, I’ve written like, four papers on this. You can’t know what’s real.”

Without preamble, John pulled back and slugged Seth as hard as he could in the gut. Seth doubled over, falling to the floor, and was still for several minutes.

Eventually Seth staggered to his feet. A few moments later he looked at John and said, “What the hell did you do that for?”

“What are you talking about?” John replied, “I didn’t do anything. You must have just created the illusion of getting punched in the gut.”

100 Words a Day 243

His labored breath was coming in shallower and shallower gasps and his vision was fading. He finally abandoned his attempts to keep his eyes open and allowed them to shut.

They opened unexpectedly and he found himself looking on a world that was drab and grey, lacking the vibrant colors of a moment before. The chaos of the battlefield was preserved in a frozen, colorless moment.

He tried to move his head, but found he had no strength, just as a moment before. In the distance he saw a figure moving towards him, swaying slowly in a flowing, black cloak.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

100 Words a Day 242

A void opened up in the middle of the field. The two men strode towards each other, one holding a sword before him, the other with empty hands.

The sword-bearer raised his blade above his head and shouted, “I stand on the shoulders of the warriors who came before me. My technique has been refined by thousands of warriors through generations uncounted. I am unstoppable!”

The man with no weapon replied: “I stand not upon shoulders, but piles of corpses, each composed of friends and enemies unnumbered. My technique too was refined over generations uncounted, but only by the survivors.

Monday, April 15, 2013

100 Words a Day 241

He hadn’t seen anyone fire a bullet in years. You couldn’t even bluff someone with a gun anymore; they didn’t even make good bludgeons. The failing of modern weaponry was the rebirth of classical fighting arts. It wasn’t a renaissance, too much had been lost during the ascendency of the gun, but the martial arts of antiquity were slowly reemerging.

No one really thought about them as arts. Art was a luxury people practiced in their free time. Now they were more like a craft. That is to say, a useful skill that can have creative expression layered over it.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

100 Words a Day 240

There was a reason the killer hid the key under the lamp. She just had to figure out why.

The five lights, which were on articulated arms, were reminiscent of medusa’s hair from Clash of the Titans, and were fixed atop a tall, narrow pole. The base of the lamp was matte grey.

The underside of the base was black, but coated with a sticky substance that had tentatively been identified as blood. The bronze key had been taped to the underside and was stained red. She would have to check, but she was fairly sure it opened the basement.

100 Words a Day 239

The engine roared between his thighs as he cranked the throttle, sending him hurtling down the arrow-straight road. He took one hand off the handlebars and changed up using a suicide shifter.

It was dangerous for a biker, especially for one in his profession, but the threat of death from even the smallest action kept him sharp.

The desert wind was muffled by his helmet, but it buffeted him as he scanned the horizon and checked his mirrors for signs of pursuit.

Eventually something began to rise up in the distance, a single distinguishing feature on an otherwise featureless landscape.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

100 Words a Day 238

The heavy doors opened and the arctic wind rushed into the subterranean caverns, eagerly seeking to syphon the warmth from the base’s inhabitants. The guards shivered and covered their eyes against the sharp ice crystals that accompanied the wind.

A single man stumbled in, his form dwarfed by the massive cave entrance. As he passed the threshold, three figures clad head to toe in fur, their eyes projected by heavy goggles, rushed forward and caught him as he fell.

They carried the new arrival deeper into the cavern, eventually arriving at a side passage lined with thick mounds of bedding.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

100 Words a Day 237

The judge’s seat was atop the pillar, which curved like an elephant’s tusk. The lawyers and the accused were on a crude, wooden platform. The teeming, filthy masses undulated below in silence.

“Your Honor,” the prosecutor began. “We are here to discuss not the guilt of the accused, but his fate.” As he spoke, his face contorted with rage. He looked at the white-clad man, who stood silently.

“This man,” he exclaimed, pointing with trembling finger. “He is the worst kind of criminal, a heretic, and a terrorist. He is,” the prosecutor paused, choking on his rage, “a free thinker.”

Monday, April 8, 2013

100 Words a Day 236

So, my hard drive has had a catastrophic problem and now it needs to be replaced. As a result, I have very limited access to a computer for the next week or two. Thus, regrettably, you can expect sporadic updates for the time being. In the meantime, if anyone would like to contribute a 100 Word post, you can reach me at Google’s email service. My handle is darthkwandoh. As I said, hopefully things will be up and running again in a week. It would be a tragedy if this was the last 100 Words post for longer than that.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

100 Words a Day 235

He strode about the stage, head held high and chest full of imperious youth. His gestures were emphatic and his words, which rang out in his pure voice, were just what people wanted to hear.

He understood their problems, and he provided simple solutions with conviction. The troubled times made people want to believe him, so they did.

As his speech continued, he railed against the perceived evils of their world, just like he had the night before.

Each night it was the same speech in a different town. He made his way across the country, gathering followers and momentum.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

100 Words a Day 234

“I wonder if things will ever return to normal,” David said, staring into the crackling fire.

“It won’t man. Don’t think about stuff like that. How could it possibly go back to the way it was? Even if it did go back, things would still be different.” Jason replied, warming his hands and letting his gaze stray into the inky blackness that surrounded their fire, their dot of light in a world of darkness.

A rustle preceded the emergence of their companion, Sara, from the darkness.

“You’d better lose the homesickness. There’s something out there, and it’s heading this way.

Friday, April 5, 2013

100 Words a Day 233: Into The Uncanny Valley, a Review

In a near-post apocalyptic world, ITUV is the dark Sci-Fi tale of Alanna’s attempt to download her sister into an android. The play presents two androids: Puppytron, an adorable dog, and Alanna’s sister, Majel, expertly played by several puppeteers and the most memorable character I’ve seen in a while. Majel’s triple voice, feet that don’t quite touch the floor, and minimalist appearance combine with her not-quite perfect A.I. personality to create a character that can only be described as unnerving.

Fans of dark Sci-Fi, puppetry, and the generally weird should not miss this unique presentation of a classic genre tale.

You can catch Into The Uncanny Valley at 1333 Milwaukee in Chicago this weekend. For more info: http://roughhousetheater.com/

Thursday, April 4, 2013

100 Words a Day 232

“Ugh, he tried to carry my books again. It’s so annoying!”

“I don’t know, I think it’s kind of cute. No one has ever offered to carry my books. Usually it’s just a cheesy line.”

“That would get him further. He’s such a try-hard bear.”

“Aw, don’t call him that!”

“He is though! If it isn’t my books, he’s inviting me to some thing because he heard once that I liked it, and wouldn’t it be fun? I wish he’d leave me alone.”

“I don’t know what you are talking about. The whole situation is beyond adorable. I’m team him.”

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

100 Words a Day 231

He pushed open the doors and entered the well-appointed lobby.

“Can I help you?” the receptionist said, smiling.

“Uh, my name is Jake. I start today.”

“Hi Jake, I’m Cassie. Have a seat; I’ll let David know you’re here.”

“Thanks,” he replied, sitting down.

His sweaty palms betrayed his nervousness, along with his fidgeting foot.

The minutes ticked by, making him wonder if he had somehow arrived early. He checked the email on his phone. Nope, it was the correct time.

He turned sharply when he heard a door open.

“Hey Jake, good to see you again. How’s it goin’?”

100 Words a Day 230

“What’s the celebration?” the bartender asked.

“The phones were broken at work, so they gave us each twenty bucks to make calls with our cellphones!” one of them exclaimed.

The annoyance of the phone system breaking had been forgotten upon the realization that the twenty dollars would fund a midweek bar visit, all while staying in budget.

The bartender watched them load on and was sad. His father had told him stories about miners when he was younger. Men would come in whenever they had two dimes to rub together and drink them, never saving, never thinking beyond their barstool.

Monday, April 1, 2013

100 Words a Day 229

Driving into San Francisco from Oakland Airport isn’t anything like entering a city in the Midwest. After you pass by downtown, which is rather small, you come to a series of hills. Unlike the flat, sprawling grid of tall apartments in places like Chicago, the hills of San Francisco are crisscrossed with roads that often seem to stop and start at random and are covered with houses. The houses are a riot of colors and designs, no tw¬o looking exactly alike. ¬¬From a distance and in the sun the houses shine, but up close they can appear a bit dingy.

100 Words a Day 228

It wasn’t the taxing, dull pain of love lost, nor the silent, sad pain of love unrequited. The feeling was like having a chisel driven into his heart, except without the relief that comes from having the hammer drawn back. The unrelenting pain didn’t leave him depressed; it left him mournful.

His day to day life seemed unaffected. He still disliked his job, went out for drinks, but none of it had the same flavor as before. Plunging ahead seemed the only option. There wasn’t much he could do about his feelings, but he could try for a better job.

100 Words a Day 227

The teacher stood in front of his students, who looked at him with eager eyes.

“We are dinosaurs, apex predators being hunted,” he began, “our skills are out of place in a world laden with firearms and weapons of mass destruction.”

The students were confused, and it showed on their faces.

“People aren’t interested in spending years eating bitter just so they can learn to reverse breathe and live a long time and then die suddenly with no lingering illness. They would rather learn to sport fight under some rule set for a few years before their body falls apart.