One-Liner Story Saturday: Ghosts of Bear River

bear river massacre

Bear River, Idaho

 

As she walks across the meadow she could almost hear the voices of past lives echoing through the sparsely forested terrain; with the breeze caressing her body,  their faint howling cries icing her to the core with haunting images of despair and betrayal.

 

*Inspired by article, Site of Deadliest Native American Massacre Identified in Idaho

 

Story Sunday: The Bench

 

He stood

before the bench where he last saw her

Shadows from nearby trees nearly engulfing it

as the sun lowered in the smoke-glazed sky

She had on her gray pantsuit with a silky blouse

its’ color matched her sea-blue eyes

He set the ash-covered helmet on the wood

and as if pressed down with a heavy weight, he dropped

to one knee and bowed his head, tears trickling down his grime-stained face

Fires he could fight, but not the monstrosity he witnessed on that fateful day

One by one, his brothers fell as with the towers

Did she too?

Perhaps she’ll suddenly appear like an angel he knew her to be-

or, was she lost somewhere in the rubbles of mangled steel and crushed cement?

Time’s no man’s friend

For he was a fool to think he had plenty

and now she’s gone

 

*I created a video for this story.  It can be accessed here: The Bench

 

Story Sunday: Fire and Ash

 

 

As she stood in the entryway

staring at the black mass in the fiery sky

she wondered

what good did technology do for them

now on the brink of extinction?

Gusts of heated air whipped around her body

as the only thoughts of comfort

were of all the written journals

she’d buried in the deep caverns nearby

in the hope that those pieces of her would survive

while the rest be reduced to nothing

but hot ashes

Story Saturday: Jewel

black hooded figure

 

She hurt all over. Inside and out.

She wore no shoes against the jagged rocks on the trail, and no jacket against the skin-biting cold of the late autumn air. She had run away so quickly there was no time to grab anything.

The pain in her chest throbbed as she tried to ignore it. She hated feeling this way. It was a nagging reminder of all she had lost.

She stumbled on as she kept her back to the destruction that lay behind. Black smokes rose to the sky as the putrid smell of burnt flesh permeated her nostrils. Bile burned in her stomach as she covered her cracked lips with a dirt-streaked hand.

Images and thoughts tried to force themselves into her mind, but she shook them away. No, she couldn’t face them now. They would break her into a million of pieces, pieces that she could never put back together.

A snarled tree root suddenly snagged a foot as she tripped and fell to her knees with a whimper. The impacted skin burned, and something warm trickled down that foot.

She brushed the once golden-brown-now-mud-caked hair away from her pale face, and stared down at herself. The left pant-leg now torn which exposed her ankle completely. There was a gash on the top of her foot where blood oozed from. As she sat on the icy, hard ground, she debated with herself on whether she should bother to continue. With an injured foot, she’d either be an easy prey, or die from an infection.

Stifling back the urge to scream, she pounded the earth with both fists. Hot tears blinded her as her teeth ground together.

Life was so unfair! What had she done to deserve such a cruel fate? What?!

The snapping of nearby branches startled her as she sat up and peered ahead. All she saw was a thick canopy of dark hardwood trees. A moment later though there were several shadows moving within them.

The predators have found their prey.

“N-no!” She rolled over on her knees and stood up. She then scanned around but realized that it was too late to run. She reached down and grabbed a sharp-edged rock.

And waited.

Ignoring the burning pain, she faced the wavering shadows as they neared. Her nails dug into the rock as she fought to steady her panting.

Would death come quickly for her? Or would they take their time as they tortured her?

She tried to swallow but discovered that her mouth had become parched as she licked her chapped lips, and tasted blood.

The awning of the trees closed in as roaring filled her head. With her other hand, she pressed against her temple.

She couldn’t pass out now!

The sound of a horse’s neigh roused her back to full consciousness as she turned towards the source, and sucked in her breath.

The high stature of the animal clopped towards her. Its brown coat shiny with sweat and rain water. A figure sat on it, draped in a long, black coat. Her eyes moved up the muddied black boots, black pants, and finally to the face which stayed hidden behind the hood.

“State your name.” A deep male voice spoke.

Her body began to tremble, but she forced herself to stand tall and steady. “I’m called Traviata.” Her words barely came out in a hoarse whisper. Her hand gripped the rock tighter.

The hooded figure turned its head towards the smoke-laden sky above her. “State your crime.”

“Crime?” Vivid memories of her past life filled her mind. “The only crime I’ve committed is by being born!” She couldn’t hold the pain and rage back any longer as she threw the rock, and it smashed against the back of the black figure. The explosive movement caused her to fall forward as she landed hard on her knees and hands. There she stayed as she allowed the tears to flow freely down her face.

Unmoved, the low voice asked again, “Your crime?”

Without raising her head, Traviata answered, “For being me. That’s my crime.”

“You were forced out of your home?”

“Yes, by my own family!” Her chest heaved. “A-abandoned. They burned the house and my cats!” She needed to get it all out. “Why? For what? For not being like them, normal? For choosing my own path and not theirs?” She shook her head. “Why? I don’t know why — they couldn’t accept me as me. And somehow that became my crime.”

Several moments of silence passed as she continued to stare down at the gray earth. She expected pain to come at any time. She prayed that the end would be swift.

The leather from the saddle creaked, and then a loud thud sounded when a pair of boots hit the hard ground.

“Traviata.” The tone now soft, kinder.

She hesitated before glancing up. The figure now stood before her, exposed. The golden-brown eyes that adorned a youthful face squinted as a smile spread across his lips. He held out a hand to her. “Stand, please.”

Traviata exhaled and then reached for the hand. The man pulled her gently up.

“You are a jewel. Rare and precious.” His face radiated benevolence behind the smile as he continued to hold her hand. “Come with me and leave your old life behind.”

She blinked at him, and then smiled back.

(first published with Piker Press December 15th, 2014)

Story Sunday: The Pocket Watch (Flash Fiction)

the-pocket-watch

 

Rob gripped the steering wheel as he watched a brown leaf roll across the gray hood. His haggard face covered with salt and pepper beard helped conceal the white scar across his right cheek. He stared ahead as he half-listened to the car radio.

“The President is expected to address the nation tonight for the final time.” The radio garbled. “Before leaving with his family to an undisclosed location.”

He leaned over and changed the stations.

“CDC still have no answers as to what is causing the flu-like pandemic, nor are they any closer to an effective vaccine or treatment…”

Another station.

“With the death toll skyrocketing across the country and hospitals completely overwhelmed with the sick, medical personnel are urging everyone to stay indoors in hope of slowing down the spread…”

Yet another.

“Ten more police officers gunned down by looters as they struggle to protect the civilians still in the downtown area…”

The radio went silent when Rob opened the door. He didn’t bother to close it as he staggered into the expansive cemetery. Shadows lurked everywhere yet his own moved with each faltered step. His shoulders slumped forward as he buried both hands deep in the pockets of the ragged trench coat.

He passed rows and rows of old and broken stones until he approached a mangled oak tree. He stooped over a particular headstone, half-buried in yellowed grass. He pulled his right hand out and pressed it on top of the cold stone.

Julie Lerne
Born March 3, 1972-Died November 12, 2010

Craig Lerne
Born April 15, 2008-Died November 10, 2010

He bowed his head, eyes closed. “Jules…three years, Jules.”

He stood still for several moments. A dark lock of hair fell over his left eye as his lips quivered. Rob then deliberately reached into the right pocket, and pulled out a pistol.

“I’m so tired of just surviving.” He mumbled as he shifted the weapon to his left and then back to the right hand. “Everyone’s gone.” He pressed the trigger back. “I don’t want to be alone anymore.” And raised the gun towards his temple.

He suddenly paused midway when the branches of the nearby tree swayed and creaked. A breeze swept over his thin body as his hazel eyes searched each and every stone.

“Jules?” His voice shook.

Everything grew still. Including the shadows.

Rob sucked in a trembling breath as he extended the free hand into the left pocket, and extracted a tarnished, gold-colored pocket watch. He used the thumb to flip the lid open.

“7:15.” He whispered.

He blinked several times. There was something engraved in the lid as he continued to stare at it.

Safe haven
79 S 30 W

A smile slowly spread across his lips. “Dad, you son of a b–” He chuckled as he snapped the lid shut, and dropped the watch back into the pocket.

Rob leaned against the headstone as he pushed the trigger back down.

“There’s something I need to do, Jules.” He muttered with excitement. “I’ll be back to…” His voice trailed off when he turned around.

Crack!

A piece of wood slammed against the side of his head, and he instantly slumped to the ground. As he lied in a heap, his eyes remained open.

They saw nothing.

A murky shadow moved across the earth and enveloped the body, and lifted the watch out of the pocket.

“Whatcha got, Jim?” A scrawny girl in a tattered dress appeared next to the corpse.

The male teen’s crooked smile revealed two missing front teeth as he grasped the ticking object in his grimy hand. “Lunch!”

 

(First published with Asylum Ink on April, 11th 2014)

Writing: How Short Is “Too” Short?

Here’s a question I posed on Twitter the other day:

“Thinking out loud. Is it possible to write bite-sized and still make the kinds of impacts as the longer ones?

I tend to get myself into trouble when I think too much.  🙂

So, is it possible to write short-short stories (for instance, less than 100 words) that can be just as satisfying to read as the longer ones?

 

Two Writing Contests (Deadline is less than three days away!)

coffee-and-writing

Why I Write  

Submit a 250-word essay or a poem on why do you write.

Top three finishers will have a choice of seeing their essay/poem featured on A Writer and Her Adolescent Muse blog , or be interviewed for the same blog (Purpose? More exposure!)

Interested?  Click here.

spooky-halloween-pic  Super Short Halloween  

In honor of the upcoming frightful holiday, write a super short horror story (100 words max).

Story should be no more than PG-13. Think like Hitchcock…be creative and don’t rely on gore to scare the pants off your readers.

Interested in this one?  Click here.

Enjoy!                                                                                                                                   w

The Pocket Watch

A flash fiction I wrote that was published with Asylum Ink. Enjoy!

Only The Lonely Press & Media

the pocket watch

Rob gripped the steering wheel as he watched a brown leaf roll across the gray hood. His haggard face covered with salt and pepper beard helped conceal the white scar across his right cheek. He stared ahead as he half-listened to the car radio.

“The President is expected to address the nation tonight for the final time.” The radio garbled. “Before leaving with his family to an undisclosed location.”

He leaned over and changed the stations.

“CDC still have no answers as to what is causing the flu-like pandemic, nor are they any closer to an effective vaccine or treatment…”

Another station.

“With the death toll skyrocketing across the country and hospitals completely overwhelmed with the sick, medical personnel are urging everyone to stay indoors in hope of slowing down the spread…”

Yet another.

“Ten more police officers gunned down by looters as they struggle to protect the civilians still…

View original post 460 more words

The Dying Civilization

bare land

Gray clouds hung low in the sky as a group of teenagers clambered down the street littered with rusted and mangled vehicular bodies.   Houses on both sides of the disintegrating asphalt stood in various wretched shapes.   Woods warped.  Windows smashed or missing. Vinyl sidings bent like painful hang-nails.

The group turned down a graveled pathway which led to a large, crumbling brick-laid building that stood three-stories tall.  A sign stretched across the middle of the structure with words etched in the marble slab: Esmond High

As soon as they crossed the threshold, they turned right and entered into a large room.  Inside, several long tables spread across the dusty tile flooring, each partnered with two deformed metallic chairs.   Large windows lined the far wall of the room, and like the others, many were either missing or broken.  They also provided the only source of lighting.

The younger version of adults sat at the three front tables, and waited in silence.

Moments later, a man shuffled into the room.  Long, wispy white hair hung from his head.  White-black beard partially covered his face, its bottom touched the ragged red and black plaid shirt.

“Good morning, class.”  His voice crackled as he slowly hobbled to the front where a small wooden desk stood.

“Good morning, Mr. Pike.” The teens replied in unison.

He gingerly set down a plastic bag on the desk which wobbled with the weight being pressed on it.  Mr. Pike groaned as he turned his cataract-riddled, hazel eyes to the classroom before him.

“It seems our number is ever growing smaller.” He sniffed.

“Marge’s parents have married her off to the Mableton’s clan so she won’t be coming back.” The sole female in the room spoke in a quiet voice.

“Ethan, Sam, and Levi have been recruited to the front line.” The dark-haired male at the center table said.

“Sal was killed with his parents  by thieves last night.” The smallish boy next to the brunette female muttered.

“Madness.” The old man whispered as he rapped his arthritic knuckles on the wood.  “This is what we’ve been reduced to.  Constant warring with one another.  Servitude and slavery.  Mockery and misery all around us.  All due to stupidity.  Stupidity.”

“Mr. Pike?”  The girl’s voice drifted to his ears.  “Are you alright?”

He shook his head hard and blinked several times as he struggled to regain his focus on the remaining kids.

“Yes, yes of course I’m alright!” He snapped as his hands gripped the plastic bag.  “It’s a bit disconcerting when I see our future being ripped from us, that’s all.”

“What’s in the bag, Mr. Pike?” A petite oriental boy from the table directly in front of him asked.

The elder released his grip on the bag and began to pat it. “Ah, yes.  The bag.  I discovered the content last evening when I was rummaging through a building that was once a library.”

“What’s a library?” The girl asked.

“My dear Oona.” He smiled. “A library was used to house what we called books.  Books were once the foundation of which we built a great civilization. Books were what brought us out of the last Dark Ages.  They enabled us to become highly advanced and educated and enlightened.   They were the glue that held us together.”

“What happened?” The small boy next to Oona asked.

“Man grew stupid, Darrin. “He answered. “We grew so enamored with technology and all our wonderful advances, and decided to get rid of books, which contained everything, to rely solely on digital machines.”

He glanced across the room and saw that all eyes and ears were completely attuned to him, and continued. “Then the storm happened and wiped out all the technology, and with it our heart and soul as a specie.” He raised a hand into the air. “Hence, you see the result all around us.”

“So…” Mr. Pike reached a hand inside the bag. “For the next few weeks, we’ll be reading two of the greatest books ever written, in my humble opinion, by man.”  And pulled out two heavily worn hard-covered books. “Moby Dick and War and Peace.”

“Could we take turns reading them?” Oona breathlessly asked.

“I don’t read too well.”  The oriental boy moaned.

“Don’t worry, Mai, I’ll help you.” She smiled.

Reading Preference (Poll)

 

Published! The Pocket Watch-Flash Fiction

Francisco-Goya-4  The Pocket Watch

Is there hope in a world that’s lost?

Several months ago, I decided to try my hands at writing flash fiction again (the first time I tried to I sucked big time).  It took me a while to condense this down to as  few  words as I could without abandoning the “showing” part and resort to “telling.”  What helped me this time?

Screenwriting.

That’s right.  I initially wrote this in a script format using only dialogues and action sequences.  When I went back to re-write it, I added the prose portion.   Then,  I submitted the story to Jason Gerringer from the Weary Writer site for his one-on-one workshop to critique it, and received some very helpful feedback.

The result is that I found a home for it and the story was published with Asylum Ink.

Have you ever used any non-traditional technique when writing a story?