Shouts and steel rang through the inn. A barrel bounced down the stairs, spilling beer as it went. A moment later a man came tumbling after, beer mixing with blood from a gash on his face. The barrel, which had come to rest against the wall, groaned in tandem with the man as he crashed into it, leaving them both battered in a pool of beer and blood. The fight in the kitchen had upset the cooking fire, sending embers and ash about. Unnoticed in the melee, a coal landed in a burlap sack and grew into a full flame.
Wednesday, May 25, 2016
The bronze sentinel towered over the bridge, one giant foot planted firmly on either side. Its armored head stared forward, eyes, if it had them, concealed beneath a polished visor. It reflected the light of the twin suns, a beacon to travelers for miles. In its great metal hands it held a giant ax, bound with spidery runes that crackled with power during the frequent storms that wracked the region. It called to terrible lightning, protecting the bridge by absorbing and storing the heavenly blasts in some ancient battery concealed within the thing’s body by the wizard-engineer that built it.
Monday, May 23, 2016
The wizard’s lab was destroyed. She lay in a corner, a bloody pulp flung by the knotty monster. It rummaged through the wreck, feeling that it was close. Its roots ran over the floor, feeling for any hidden panels while its vines roamed the shelves. It sounded like a tree swaying in the breeze. With a triumphant grunt, it tore a scroll from the wall and stuffed it down its jagged maw. It made its approximation of a smile; it was almost whole again. It strode forth from the wizard’s tower, moving unerringly towards the next fragment of its body.
Sunday, May 22, 2016
The fat sparrow with the ice-blue breast landed on the red icona tree, grabbing one of its long branches with four-taloned feet. It hopped across the branch, causing the tea flowers to shake and release their sweet-smelling perfume. The sparrow stopped near the tree trunk and waited, its bright blue breast blazing against the red of the scented flowers. A long, haunting chirping caused the bird to turn its head. A few moments later, a red sparrow appeared, landing on the same branch that the other sparrow previously disturbed. The blue-breasted sparrow hopped towards the newcomer, echoing her ghostly melody.
Friday, May 20, 2016
The whirring fan whined, as though it was as uncomfortable in the heat as we were. The single working fan labored to exchange the heat in the lecture hall with the hot air from outside, with minimal success. It seemed as though it would die at any moment. I drew my arm across my forehead and wiped the sheen of sweat I collected on my pant leg. Lifting my water bottle to my mouth, I discovered it was empty. I undulated my face muscles, running my tongue around my mouth, and collected enough saliva to swallow and moisten my throat.
Tuesday, May 17, 2016
“I’m sorry,” the small man behind the counter said, smug smile sliding down his nose. “That’s just not institution policy.”
I closed my eyes and exhaled slowly to control my emotions, but five trips to this temple of bureaucracy was too much. I vomited wrath at the paper pushing priest.
“You useless panjandrum! You told me last week to bring this piece of paper,” I shoved the document towards him, “with this stupid stamp.” The sheets of paper shook like thunder as I struck the red stamp with a rigid finger.
The diminutive man examined the paper with his spectacles.
Monday, May 16, 2016
I hardly noticed the computer’s weight as I hurled it through the window. Nor did I notice the sound of the glass shattering. The wide eyes and slack mouths of my coworkers were the first indicators that something was wrong. Suddenly, the sound of a car alarm drifted through the hole left by the computer’s flight. As one, we ran to the window and looked down. The tower had crashed through the windshield of an expensive looking car. The sidewalk around it was clear of pedestrians, who had all stopped to stare up and find the source of the computer.
I remember the hot sun on a summer day. It would beat down on me as I walked down my street. And make me squint as it reflected off the glittering cement. I was on that same street today. Now there are tall apartments looming over little storefronts, places with names like Bouchic. They look well put together, and families come to shop on the weekends. Their strollers match their yoga pants and they sip their coffee. But they rarely acknowledge each other. It’s not the street I grew up on. It’s a cold street now, sunlight never reaches it.
Saturday, May 14, 2016
Most of the old guards resented the assignment, a small fort on a strategically unremarkable hill. Far from the front lines. Garu liked it though. He limped from an old wound and the faces of the men he had slain were always over his shoulder.
War was in the north, and the cold made his joints hurt. It was always warm at the little fort, in the south, and the sun on his face made him smile. When he wasn’t patrolling he liked to lay under a large tree and smell the fragrance of the flowers on the warm wind.
Friday, May 13, 2016
The itinerate parked his wagon with its clockwork steed on the village green. Strings of shells, bells, and chimes hung on the eve of the thing’s roof, sounding with the wind. When they had heard the clinking, the children had dropped their chores and rushed to meet the wagon. They buzzed as they waited for the occupant to emerge. When the children’s eagerness was making them bounce up and down, the rear door opened. A large, billowing cloak the color of shadow emerged, causing the children to gasp. The cloak threw back its hood, revealing the face of an elf.
Thursday, May 12, 2016
The color of the land was mud. The viscous stuff at the bottom of the trench sucked at their moldy boots the way a child sucks on their favorite candy. It made traveling the miles of earthworks exhausting. Occasionally, a soldier’s fatigue would overcome their commonsense and they would scamper across the top of the line. Some of their bodies had yet to be retrieved. The dead-eyed soldiers had little time for corpses. Like their living comrades, they were uniformed by heavy mud. Those who were corpses rather than asleep were only distinguished from the living by the pecking buzzards.
Wednesday, May 11, 2016
“It’s all your fault this happened to me!” the boy shouted. “Why couldn’t you let me die?” he rolled to face away from the old man and tried to cry quietly into the wall.
The old man stood in the doorway, feeling a twinge in his heart, something a child had never elicited from him before. He didn’t regret saving the boy, but he lamented what it had cost.
There was nothing to be done. The decision had been made. The boy should accept things the way they are and get on with life. There was nothing else to do.
Tuesday, May 10, 2016
The previous night’s storm had been unremarkable until midnight, when a barrage of lightning woke the occupants of the house. The booming thunder deafened them and shocked them upright in their beds. When they were again able to close their eyes, the afterimages crafted by the lightning followed them into their dreams. The next morning they rushed outside one by one, still in their pajamas and without their morning coffees. The large tree, whose truck, when it was upright, they couldn’t have encircled by joining hands around it, was uprooted and lying dead on its side, its charred roots exposed.
Monday, May 9, 2016
A crash drew my attention to the other side of the bar. Two men stood facing each other. One man was pointing his big finger at the other, nearly touching his chest. His chin was thrust forward. The other man took a step back and raised his hands, palms forward. I could see his mouth moving as a circle cleared around them. While he spoke I noticed his chin tucked slightly and he leaned forward just a hair. The man with the finger stepped forward. The other man launched himself forward, brushing the pointing finger aside as he did so.
Sunday, May 8, 2016
The canyon wound through the dirty red landscape, as a snake leaving a trail through the desert sand. It was deep like an old man’s wrinkles and had been cut wide by a trickling stream that had rushed and run in its youth. Like a snake, the canyon walls had shed their skin as they grew, exposing the red veins of rock that ran underneath. The river used to carry the stony scales away, whether in large chunks or bits of dust, but had found lately that the boulders that occasionally fell from above were too much for its current.
Saturday, May 7, 2016
I played with my Styrofoam cup and looked around the coffee shop. An older woman sipped tea while reading a conservative paper. I tried to make out the front page headline when a man walking outside caught my eye. His tie was loud, and his big watch sparkled offensively. It made me squint. I turned away from the light. The sound of the door chime drew my already turning head behind me. A short man in a Hawaiian shirt entered. He wasn’t the man I was looking for, so I didn’t take the time to notice anything else about him.
Friday, May 6, 2016
With a tired, satisfied sigh, Aaron closed his laptop. The presentation was reviewed and sent. He rubbed his eyelids with the pads of his fingertips. Their cool touch soothed his hot, aching eyeballs. After, he interlaced his fingers and stretched his arms behind his head, inhaling at the same time to expand his chest. Letting his arms fall, he deflated. The air issued from his mouth with a slow hiss and he sank into his office chair. He was about to stand up when the loose objects on his desk began to vibrate. It was his phone. It was ringing.
Thursday, May 5, 2016
My eyes burst open. I heard a rough inhale as my lungs filling with air that scratched my throat. I bolted up and found myself staring at a dark stone wall covered in strange symbols. I looked down at my chest. It was bare of both clothing and hair. There was a large incision running down where my ribs came together. The edges were inflamed, the sides closed by uneven stitches. A dark, viscous fluid dribbled out of the wound. I lifted my hands, turning them over before my eyes. Their backs had matching tattoos of symbols I didn’t recognize.
The noise of the engines drowned out the sound of wind whipping by. None of the cars were wholly original, or even stock, anymore. As pieces wore out or were damaged, the sunburnt raiders replaced them with whatever was on hand. Sometimes they did things like welding the back half of one car to the front half of another. To these Frankenstein autos they then added reinforcing plates and spikes scavenged from the scrap scattered across the spent landscape. Sometimes there was nothing on hand to make repairs. Those unfortunate drivers were usually left to die alone in the sun.
Tuesday, May 3, 2016
The morning air was crisp, the rising sun turned the land a cold gray. Two lines of men stared at each other, one behind fresh earthworks and the other atop a mossy stone wall, a muddy field between them. The sounds of cicadas filled the air. The battle lines were quiet, the only human sounds were prayer, crying, and vomiting. A man appeared behind the line of bodies manning the earthworks. He began slowly banging his sword on his shield. The cadence quickly moved down the whole line, overwhelming the noise of the cicadas and the sounds of human fear.
Monday, May 2, 2016
It’s a warm summer night, with still air. The sort where sound travels forever, but the sole sound is a symphony of woodnotes. The only movement in the night is a breeze so faint the only indication of its presence is the scent of verdant gardens below. Once the lights in the town below go out, looking into the night is as looking into the abyss. The remains of your late-night snack are on the table: olive pits, cheese rind, and a glass with a lick of wine dried at the bottom. A small bird lands on the narrow guardrail.
Sunday, May 1, 2016
The letter was folded neatly on my desk, there was no envelop. My heartbeat quickened and I could feel my blood pump through my temples. The paper sounded like thunder, shaking in my hands. I undid the careful folds. It was to the point. I was fired. They didn’t even have the decency to tell me to my face. I found little relief in the certainty of my situation. Instead I was overcome by a great lethargy. I moved as a sloth, gathering my few possessions in a cardboard box and dragged my feet towards the office door, head bowed.