Tam’s Soul

In this life, Tam Duc is eighty-five years old, weighs thirty-eight kilograms and travels from the Northern island of Cát Bà, to Năm Căn on the one leg remaining after meeting a French landmine 72 years ago.

It is a journey of 2000 kilometers.

Năm Căn is nothing more than the Southernmost tip of Vietnam. It splits the Gulf of Thailand from the South China Sea and acts as the place from which he can go no further.

Cát Bàis, however, is home. The place he is always born, pushed through the brittle bones of the skeleton that once was his mother to wallow in the mud quickly maturing enough to survive yet again on his own.

An ancient magic compels and nurtures this.

His mother cursed him to this existence thousands of deaths ago with intestines held in with one hand and the other stiffening, curled one last time around the quill that wrote out what Tam now is.

Saved from murder perpetrated by bandits he is now a soul catcher.

Why him and not her is testament to the power of a mother’s love for her child, selfless and universal.

Tam has witnessed many deaths, but none more horrible than watching his mother struggle to perform this last feat while dying.

The curse came with conditions of poverty, chastity and nothing short of the humanities demise could free him from it.

Like a mother love it was unyielding and forever.

Returning North he wears ancient dinge colored burlap wraps around his loin and his bald shiny scalp. Over his shoulder, he carries a black velvet bag that looks very much out of place.

He does not own the black velvet bag, it owns him. As does the magic nestled within it.

Tam smiles a toothless smile and hops along the shoulder of Vietnam’s first superhighway. The air smells of tar and diesel exhaust. In the humid heat, he approaches a small village. It is the New Year and the villagers have gathered. They laugh and celebrate.

Tam knows he is not welcome and squats in the green foliage off the road. Though today’s journey is done his real work is just beginning.

He settles down on to hot red dirt and folds his right knee over the remaining portion of his left thigh forming a tight lotus. He flips the black bag open on his lap while sniffing at the air. Its smells of rain, but in Vietnam rain is to be expected, still, he must hurry for if he doesn’t complete his magic before the rain comes, the soul he has come to collect may get lost

A lost soul is hell to recover.

Many lost souls roam for eons before a catcher happens upon them. Some are never found.

From inside the satchel, he gathers the red paper and black ink of his trade.

And waits worrying the quill against a hole in his gum that once housed a tooth. A firework is set off in the nearby village. It is loud and whistles up into the air almost invisible in the bright sky.

The screams that follow could curdle blood.

Tam then knows the name he has come to collect and scratches four quickly executed lines in black ink on the red paper.


When the quill tip no longer shines with fresh ink a boy of seven stands in front of him.


The boy nods.

“Did it hurt?” this is always his first question.

The boy nods again.

‘That’s too bad.’ Tam frowns while returning the red paper, now perfectly clean, as if never written on, back into the sack along with the black ink and quill, ‘Shall we?”

And the boy nods a third time.

Tam allows another type of magic to wash out of him. It sparkles in the air before solidifying into a portal, a hole really, one that opens one reality into another.

The boy looks to Tam unsure and Tam smiles a toothless smile and nods toward the hole.

With a burst of happy laughter, the boy turns to the hole and steps through disappearing, leaving behind only the echo of his joy as he embraces whatever it is that waits for him there.

Hours later Tears drip from Tam’s eyes as the sound of the happy child finding his afterlife, haunts him as he tries to sleep.

Tomorrow he will continue his journey North, to the next death and one day soon his own will come again, but instead of a Soul Catcher waiting for him to open a portal to a new happy reality he will be forced to scramble out of the boney womb, half-buried on a swampy island, certain he will never have an end worthy of laughter.


Soul Catcher

by vimark


Bob avoids eye-contact while he shuffles through a stack of papers on his desk, “so’, he pauses to steel himself, ‘we got to fire you.”

“Interesting,” Georgia, the half-giant, looks down at the jiggly-soft-man finding herself wondering how he’d taste.

Her stomach growls.

Bob flinches.

Turns out, raw, Bob tastes horrible.


female half giant DeD

by uger

Goblin on a Mission

The goblin stands over a dead dwarf. He cannot bring himself to pull the dagger from the mountain-dweller’s lifeless chest or even take the man’s head as was asked. Instead, he drags the dwarf’s gem-filled saddlebags over to his purple-dyed Emu. He dyed the bird the horrible shade when he took it from the hitching post outside the roadside tavern. The tavern with a sign tacked to the door reading, “no goblins.”

Grindlynob understood, he hates goblins also. He’s small for his species and likes to paint, preferring oils and has a bit of a green thumb which, in his opinion, he has used to become a fair vegetarian cook.

Neither skills matter to his clan, which desire murder and theft above everything and now here he is with deep-red dwarf blood drying on his hands and tears of regret falling behind the visor of his leather helm.

He secures the bags to the back of the stolen emu and mounts. With a stiff kick he’s off and races a trail of dust back to the mountain his clan calls home. Back to the creature, he’s forced to call King.


Gobb is a grotesque three-hundred pounds of grey dimpled flesh shoved into a four-foot frame.

He sits a throne of skulls and between his legs a rotting war-pick leans that matches the chainmail pasted to his body, both are black with dried viscera.

His lair smells of piss, shit and death.

“Did you get dwarf’s skull,” Gobb grumbles his many chins wobbling.

Grindlyknob shakes his head, no, tossing the saddlebags, which clink heavy with gems, at the gnarled-warty-feet of his king.

Instead of praise, he earns the sharp end of the war-pick. It dangles from the top of Grindlyknob’s head. He keels over, glad he won’t have to live with himself after all.

The Sacrifice

God is the sudden appearance of warmth and light. The mountain is silent. The wind has stopped. The sun is bright yellow in the billowing high mountain fog.

Abrham collapses. His legs no longer support his weight.

His breath his haggard and his vision blurs.

At the end, despite the beautiful passage of the sun, his life has gone dark. He feels regret and loneliness.

The screaming lament of his son, who is secured to the flattop rock with woven hemp rope, disappears behind the ringing in his ears.

And Gods voice speaks to him from his memory, kill your son.

But Abrham cannot.

And now something is wrong inside his chest. He feels broken.

He reaches a shaking fist and unties the rope fastened around his son’s writhing body, freeing him.

Abrham watches the boy bound off the rock and escape down the mountain.

Issiak turns. They lock eyes. There is hate on his son’s face mixed with fear and distrust.

“But God told me to,” he calls after his only child, but his voice is breathless, and he knows not whether his son hears him beg. He knows it will make little difference. He is now dead to the boy. Nothing will ever bring back his child’s trust.

He would have followed through with it, his love of God made that certain, but maybe God made him too weak to fulfill his promise, maybe that means God finds him too weak to love now.

The Rabbi says, everything has meaning, but what is the meaning behind him being too weak to fulfill God’s wishes?

“Don’t worry old man, God still loves you.” The voice is like music. A stringed instrument being strummed lightly. Abrham looks for the source and he finds he is all alone. As when God visited him there was no presence just a voice.

“Are you God?”


“Then how do you know what God intends?” his voice is barely a whisper.

The harmonic song returns, “because there is no God, but the God in yourself. Have faith in yourself. You sought to sacrifice Issak for Abrham and now in death, you will know your God. Be true to yourself. Do not on to other’s as you would not have done onto yourself.”

Abrham nods and tries to stand but his knees fail his weight and his head swims. He collapses backward and lands painfully on the rocky ground.

“Goodbye, shepherd,” and the warm light pouring through the clouds disappears.

Suddenly he feels very cold.

He shivers and looks down to find his fist wrapped around the handle of his dagger buried to the hilt in his own breast. Blood blossoms into a stain on his wool robes. As he takes his last breath he feels a love like he never felt in his life then feels nothing ever again.


Breaking Through

by MHandt





He is nineteen years old and takes a swig from the near empty bottle of Johnny Walker red. It makes him gag. It tastes like wood and smoke and something he thinks should be called peat.

He doesn’t know what peat is, to him it’s an idea. Reminds him of wet mud and grass. Something in Scotland.

The scotch has been a chore to drink.

Being nineteen years old he had to have someone else buy it for him and now he feels obligated to drink it.

And he drank it until his mouth sweats and the world spins.

He is pretty sure he’s about to vomit.

The laughter from the small party still going on behind him seems to be aimed at him.

He has a name, but it stopped mattering a year ago. Since then he has been called private, or soldier, or some hurtful nickname given to him by the E-4’s in his unit. The nickname changes so often he isn’t even sure they are even talking to him sometimes.

He is called tubby when he falls out of runs, Fat Superman because he wears glasses, white boy, trailer trash, bookworm because he always has a book in the cargo pocket of his BDU pants.

Mostly he is Hey You.

To be fair Hey You doesn’t really care. He has gotten over it. He is a nobody in the machine that is the U.S. Army. A small easily replaced cog that does mindless chores, chores that wet the ground with blood sweat and tears to aid whatever the Army has coming next.

He is one of a million Hey Yous. Replaced every year with thousands of the same. His name only becomes valid on a letter to his parents if he dies defending the flag or constitution or hole in the ground he dug just the day before.

He is told he has the second most dangerous job in the military.

Not special forces, or helicopter pilot, no his job, 88M, truck driver, is right behind the infantry in mortality expectations.

Improvised explosive devices, not bullets, are his enemy, if they don’t kill you they will take an eye, or a limb, or your cock.  

Hey You, leans against a tree willing himself not to throw up.

There are four soldiers left at this little Friday night gathering, he and three others.

Most drank beer. There are many bottles laying around. It is the same every Friday and Saturday night. They get left there until morning, then soldiers on extra duty, soldiers who fucked up somehow, come and gather them up.

There is a female soldier named Janice still out tonight.

She likes to drink.

Everyone is nice to her.

“Hey, Janice you want another beer?” It sounds like Specialist Toby. A skinny mechanic, who is always smoking and keeps his butts so he can roll the tobacco when he’s broke.

“Nah I am going to bed.”

“Alone?” sounds like the fat black dude everyone calls Spunk. He’s a private also, but it’s like being black puts him on a different tier.  That, or he is better able to handle military life, or doesn’t get lonely, or has some other kind of magic Hey You doesn’t know about.

“Yah, alone Spunk!” she laughs and Hey You wonders if she would laugh at him if he asked the same question, or slap him, or tell him off, or report him to HQ.

“Come on Janice, I will walk you back to your room.”

Hey You pictures Toby putting his arm around her and walking off toward B building.

The lower enlisted ladies always got called by their first name. Everyone is nice to them. Trying to butter them up. Do their work for them. Go to lunch with them., but there seems to be a price for them to pay at some point. The talk is always about how long until they end up pregnant In the special uniform and no longer having to do PT.

Seems the prettier ones are a safe bet for sooner rather than later.  

The dizziness passes as does the fear he will have to taste the scotch on the way up also.

Hey You turns around and finds he is the last one out.  

The Bench in front building C is loaded with beer bottles and the cherry from Toby’s cigarette is still smoldering.

So the party is over and he is drunk and he doesn’t want to go back to his twin bed in the two-man dorm and listen to his roommate snore.

Loneliness hits him in the gut.

A helicopter roars overhead in blackout mode. He thinks he can spot the soft red lights in the cockpit.

Then the pop pop pop of a night fire range from a few miles away.

Across the yard separating the transportation unit from the famous 327 infantry battalion some soldiers laugh. They are loud and he has half a bottle of Walker left. He thinks maybe he can share.

He imagines the infantry smoking cigarettes and drinking beer and arguing about whatever it is grunts argue about.

He’s nineteen, drunk off cheap scotch, and still wearing the woodland-pattern BDU bottoms and his brown work t-shirt, and canvas-topped-jungle-combat boots. His t-shirt is stained with salt from sweat and his face is greasy from breaking down tires all day.

And he wants to be a part of something.

So he goes toward the laughter.

He steps into the circle of yellow light streaming from a security lamp and five soldiers, wearing sweaty PT shorts and shirt, stop talking and stare.

Angry voices hit him all at once.

“What the fuck do you want pogue?”

“You out of uniform private? Where’s your headgear?”

“Who knows this motherfucking REMF?”

“Who dis?”

He has inadvertently entered a den of noncommissioned officers fresh from a night road march.

He takes a nervous sip from his scotch and coughs as it goes down the wrong pipe and reaches out to offer out his bottle.

An infantry sergeant with bulging shoulders rips the bottle from the private’s hand and upends it onto the ground The scotch pours out and seeps through the canvas top of Hey You’s boots soaking into his wool socks. The sergeant tosses the bottle against the wall where it shatters.

A huge hand clamps down hard around Hey You’s fleshy bicep and he is marched toward the 129 support battalion HQ.

Next Saturday morning he is out with other disciplined soldiers picking up beer bottles his party certainly over.


Box of Dubious Delights

“It’s ugly here,” the little boy in the thrift-store flannel jacket whines. He walks ten feet in front kicking at brown scrub.

He isn’t wrong the boy’s Dad notes, but in the tradition of long fought wars of fathers never admitting defeat this progenitor will not concede the battle either.

“Maybe there is beauty in what it is?” the father tries halfheartedly. They just broke down on the side of the interstate and Melvin knows they wouldn’t even be here if he had made better life choices. Finished college, gone to law school, worked harder, made more of a fuss about the lump.

But no, now he was a guy who lost his job boxing erasers, because as his shift manager said, “people don’t write stuff down anymore.”

So, back to his parents home they go.

The joy of failure.

“It could be worse, we could be all rusty and worn out like this old box.”

The box was half buried in the brown grass. Maybe it was blue once, It had a handle that looked as if it were barely keeping the lid closed and wouldn’t move if an attempt were made.

The boy turns to look and slowly doubles back, curious.

“What do you think’s inside?”

“A new life,” Melvin mumbles, but the boy looks at him in his sad little way and the father smiles as if he were joking. Hurting his boy feels like losing his wife all over again.

“Can I open it?”

“If you can.”

The handle twists easily and the lid pops open. Expecting an empty box, or one with a fifty-year-old lunch inside, the explosion of blue smoke is startling.

“Yes, my master,” the Jinn says to the boy and Melvin knows it will be two for one on wishes today.

One Last Gift

Before Martha died, she ordered three wool dragons from King Cole knitting company.

It was one of the last things she did.

The other activities she completed with her last moments of life sadly only lead her to her death and amounted to her standing on a corner waiting for a bus, which arrived much later than scheduled, due to the traffic she caused by winding up beneath a trolley smeared into Martha flavored jam on the ice-covered road.

Death happens.

It is the one thing all living beings can expect to occur at some point in their lives. It never occurs at the right time and someone is bound to be inconvenienced by it.

So Martha died. She did not feel the trolley smashing her body into bits and pieces and was not sad to end up where she went, but those that she left behind felt pain and sadness and disappointment at the unfairness of it all.

Especially her boy Daniel.

The living rarely understand the necessity of death and how redundant eternity would be if it were not offered at all.

But Daniel does not care about redundancies. He just wants his mommy back.

The day after the funeral the post arrived, as it is want to do. Daniel opens the box addressed to his mother and finds the three hand-knitted dragons.

His decides immediately to throw them out. They are just stuffies and he was going to be seven soon and seven-year-olds who lose their mother don’t need toys anymore, they just need to get over it and start growing up.

Daniel walks over to the bin, not at all about to cry, and flips the lid up, but before he can toss them away the bright Irish green dragoon, requests, “Wait a mo.”

Revenge for the Love of Roses

The blast disintegrates atoms as it spreads out from ground zero. The city of Louisville, the towns surrounding it, the villages outside them, the farms and hermit shacks and public lands stretching for hundreds of miles, felt nothing as they disappeared. They did not even remain as smears on the ground, or a hole in the Earth, they just disappeared in one great and powerful explosion.

Maybe that was too good for them. Maybe they should have felt their deaths and the pain and agony of their last moment of life.

Like she feels every moment she remembers how he died.

Birds scream out of the marshland. The material that once was air, falls from the sky in small flakes of grey ash.

And Ana watches it all, hands still tingling from the power she unleashed. Power she did not even know she was capable of until just this very moment.

She picked here because this was the largest field of wild roses in Evansville.

On his morning jog, he would gather them for her, a dozen at a time, every day from Spring until the end of Summer. He would place the dethorned roses in a cheap plastic vase on the kitchen counter, shower and head off to work. When she woke up she would enjoy their aroma all day taking one rose at a time and holding it to her face until the petals fell off.

She loves this place. She loves that the smell of roses will always remind her of him. Him with his green eyes and his broad shoulders and the little dimple when he smiled his little-crooked smile.

He never laughed, but his eyes would jump and sparkle with joy sometimes and that was good enough.

His job was too tough to smile. He saw humanity at its worst. He wore a badge and a gun and fought to bring society to heel.

He failed and was tortured to death. Now she has to live with what was done to him, what she read in the autopsy report. The report that gave her every single brutal moment of bone breaking, skin scaring, life-ending injury to play with in her mind.

The sky is red and crispy black like a bad burn and it’s like the world East beyond the roses just stopped being. She does not know how many people she killed, she doesn’t really care either. Every single living thing is going pay for her loss and his final moments of pain.

She turns to the West facing the setting sun.

She concentrates on the city of Saint Louis four hundred miles away.

The concussive wave actually makes the roses sway before the sky matches the one behind her.

He did not deserve to die.

And now no one deserves to live.

She turns North and searches for Chicago in her mind.


The air smells like incense. Maybe patchouli. Maybe something more narcotic, sinister, it could be poison and Steve wouldn’t care. He sits and watches the most beautiful woman he has ever seen in his life dance alone in the middle of a bare stage. She glides as if every muscle in her body were made for this one thing. She spins and her long black hair, pulled back in a loose braid, swings like shimmering silk. Her long graceful neck is taut cords of muscle and blue veins and her bright green eyes land on him every time she faces the audience. Her look feels like lava. She stirs something deep inside himself. Not a hunger, yet when she turns away, he feels like he has never eaten a day in his life.

The audience claps when she stops and bows. Steve does nothing but stare. He does not even hear the audience as they shoot to their feet and applaud loudly, screaming for more.

No, Steve just sits there.

It is him and her and they are alone and he knows soon she will come to him and they will be together, forever.

The musky scent is so overwhelming it could be billowing like a cloud of smoke, but the room is clear, clear as the thoughts in Steve’s head.

Steve knows he will have to make his entire life available for her, the one, the person he did know he needed.

He will have to sell his home and his car and kill his dog and his wife and his children. He will have to make room for her. She will need to be pampered and cared for like a hothouse orchid, a beautiful temperamental thing, a thing of joy and perfection.

Heaven and paradise, death and life, infinite eternity is her love.

And he could never touch her. She would stop being if he did. She would crumble into something horrible. He would wake from the dream of her if he ever did something so stupid. No, he will never touch her. Not with his hands, his body, his mouth, his anything. She is untouchable. A work of living art to be worshipped, but only from a distance.

She bows to the crowd, folding neatly at the waist so her elbows touch the smooth varnished stage floor and from out of the dark, a man appears. He is dressed in a white starched shirt and black jacket with long tails that drape around his knees like a cape. In his hands, he carries a length of shining fabric that could be made of rubies and diamonds.

The perfect woman unfolds herself from the bow and stands back up.

She smiles.

The smile is like the sun. It is blinding. It is painful. Steve sobs. Tears seep from his eyes. He has never been moved so strongly by anything in his life.

The man in the tux spins his glinting sheet and a throne appears.

His lady love sits on the throne. She sits so lightly she might as well be floating in air.

The illusionist twirls his shimmering cloth again and the woman disappears and Steve is left to ponder, for the rest of his life, a want he will never understand.





by Freydoon Rassouli


Black with rage the boy storms the iron-clad beast.

His enemy sets his feet in rust spotted sabatons and his legs form a bridge over the unconscious girl. He smiles his rotten tooth smile and crooks his index finger “Come along little doggy,” he whispers with a raspy voice.

The would-be warrior grunts with effort and with a glinting flash of steel swings the sword, acknowledging this one shot is all he will probably get.

The miss is heartbreaking. A wild swing with sweat-soaked palms that equals the blade flying out of his hands leaving him standing defenseless. He lowers his head, and reaches up to touch at the blade, that slides through his chest and into his heart, as he is made of melted butter.

His singular thought is, *no pain.*

When he looks up he expects to see the brute standing there gloating with his chipped and crusty sword dripping, maybe the girl would be looking up at him also, disappointed that he failed her. Instead, he stands at the foot of a mound of skulls. The sky is on fire and a figure floats with huge wings billowing like smoke from her back.

She is beautiful this thing, but her face is sad and her eyes leak tears as she lowers a flaming sword at him.

“Were you virtuous?”

The question forms in his mind like a blister and he immediately thinks of the few moments in which he wasn’t stealing, lying, sneaking around, or other selfish moments where he was concerned more with staying alive than doing right. He wonders if maybe death was preferable to sin.

“It is not.”

His mind settles on the girl puddled on the ground, unconscious and probably on her way to join him here in whatever afterlife this was, but only after a very painful end has its way with her.

“No, she won’t.”

The sky behind the angel turns hazy and he sees the girl, still prone on the ground, but now his blade in her hands his murderer and her would be rapist struggling to pull himself from it.

A golden door opens. Through it, he sees a pink sky and green forest stretching far into the distance. His father stands there waiting, bow over his shoulder hunting boots on his feet.

The boy smiles feeling more happiness then he has ever felt in his life.

Family something he has known for so long.

He steps through the door and just before it closes behind him he turns to see the ironclad man has taken his place. He screams in agony, trapped in a roaring fire. The beautiful woman, no longer beautiful, her body and face twisted into a red-skinned demon laughs as she torments.

The gold door slams off the scene and his life in paradise begins.



On winter solstice, the farmer’s boy overhears the barn animals talking. Horse conspires with Milk-Cow,”We will feed the humans to Pig.”

Pig objects, “are they kosher?”

Neighing the horse shakes his head.

“I’ll do it,” volunteers Goat, but morning arrives rendering them dumb saving the humans till next year.

Two Peasants and a Lady

The lady was wronged, she paid, so the job must be done. Mary cares only for doing what was asked.

Smelling stale fermentation she grabs the brute’s hand, twists, and they twirl. She unsheathes her knife to Stab.

Her aim is true. With a bubbling, he collapses and she walks away.


two peasants and a lady

Artist: Albrecht Dürer

 Title: Das tanzende Bauernpaar, 1514



“Did you see that?’ The young woman steps forward to peer at the art. She is pretty with long black hair and hot pink nails that match the shade on her lips.

She grips the velvet rope dividing the vast church Parrocchiale di Sant’Agostino from the only portion that still remains of the original building, a flaking section of wall near the choir. On the wall is the famous Tommaso da Modena painted polypitch Modonna fresco.

“No, can we go get some pizza, I’m tired of dusty old churches.” her partner whines. He is a man in skinny jeans and crispy gelled hair. He looks at himself in the reflection of his phone.

“Shut up Mario. You didn’t see the Baby Jesus wave at me?

“Jesus, what? Come on, Tabby, I’m hungry.”

Tabby doesn’t acknowledge him she instead climbs over the rope and glides closer to the fresco, The child sitting in the lap of the knitting Madonna turns and smiles at her. “You didn’t see that?”

No. Stop it, you’re just hungry.”

Tabby looks around to make sure she isn’t being watched and leans closer to the fresco painted infant, “Hello baby Jesus.” She reaches out a pinky to touch the child’s outstretched hand and recoils at the soft warm palm.

The Baby Jesus rolls over as if he is about to crawl toward her and away from his mother, but instead he tumbles off the wall.

Tabby just manages to catch him before he falls to the rough 12th-century ground.

The baby starts to howl. On instinct alone, Tabby holds the warm, flesh and blood boy to her chest.

Mario turns and gapes, his mouth moving like a fish out of water. “Jesus Christ,” he points.

“I think so,” Tabby smiles snuggling the newborn closer.

A Little Help

“Elves?” the dwarf sneers.
“Yes, elves, you have a problem with elves?’ Sheridan interlinks his fingers and cracks his knuckles in a threatening cacophony. ‘You racist against elves?”
The dwarf cocks his head, mouth turning into a tight frown, “nah, guess I love ’em.”

The Injured Rest in Death

Smoke and clamor of battle surround. With a trembling hand, Talia wipes sooty sweat from her brow. This small moment earns her a slicing blow across the shoulders from the Underguard’s whip, “Move, you beast!”
She does.
With a groan, she lifts another pitch impregnated iron ball onto the trebuchet.
No sooner does she release the ammo into the bucket it’s lit on fire and launched with a twang of released energy.
The machine nearly takes her arm. The grey-haired slave working the torch leans close, “careful,”  she whispers through a mouth half sealed from a wicked burn. “There’s no rest for the injured. Work or die.”

Medininkai Castle Siege


The air smells like rotting fish and dead men saturated with too much grog. The clamor is squealing seagulls and wood banging on wood, the scrap of rusting metal and sailors. So many salty blokes singing and yelling and fighting and walking with their bow-legged strut like the earth was heaving underneath them.

Christian is happy for the dark shadows between the buildings that lean on crap foundations into the street. He puts his shoulder to the wind-roughened wood and smokes a paper of tobacco and watches the crowds moving off the docks. He is not a sailor. He is afraid of drowning. He doesn’t like men either and their stink. He prefers softer company at night and not occasionally either, between months at sea, but every night.

He draws the cherry bright hot and inhales the smoke leaving it a moment in his lungs then lets it loose through his nose.

Through a haze of nicotine, he watches and waits.

He waits for the seaman who is beyond drunk and alone and wearing the brine striped clothing of one that’s not in a navy.  Ethnicity does not matter, but size does, the smaller the better.

Then he sees the perfect target. A boy in the midst of his teen years. Tall and skinny, barefoot with clothes that are a tad bit snug as if he has grown since purchasing them. His sandy hair floats in the bay breeze. He sways. Christian can imagine the stink of rum on him.

He signals the girl. She is a young and plump in the all the right places. Rosy cheeks and big blue puppy dog eyes. She dresses the part of an innocent, showing just enough skin to be fashionable, but not overtly sexual. How she gets them is the way she moves her body. It sways and jiggles in all the right ways.

She does her skit. She smiles and the youth falls in love.

It’s so perfect that when the girl takes his hand and guides him toward the dark alley he follows as if his pants were already around his ankles.

Christian grips the iron knuckles in his pocket and pulls them free. The metal is warm and his fingers slide perfectly into its rings.

The girl walks by and the youth follows and he lifts his arm to crack the youth in the back of the head, but before he can swing he feels the back of his own head explode with pain and the ground come up fast to meet his face.

As his vision fuzzes and fades he hears his girl scream. The scream echoes in his head as blackness surrounds.


When he wakes his head throbs and his stomach churns with the waves as the ocean lifts the huge galleon up and drops it down again. A man with a face filled with a red braided beard and tiny little seafoam colored eyes reaches for him. He wears the colors of a British sailor.

Each of his fingers are tattooed with a different naked woman.

He lifts Christian easily to his feet and beyond. As he dangles with just his toes touching the deck the bearded brut shakes him and demands, “work or sink. Choose!” then drops Christian and tosses a mop toward him.

Christian picks it up hoping he can escape at the next port.



1 Dec Writing Challenge: Hamartia

Aristotle called it Hamartia, meaning to miss the mark or too err. It’s the part of a story when a central character’s tragic flaw that distracts from an initial intention and drives the plot toward a different end.

Your mission is to write a scene in which a character’s tragic flaw exerts itself on the story.




Some examples include:

Oedipus Rex doing his  thing when his pride results in him killing a chariot driver who turned out to be his father thus kicking off the prophecy that we all know so well.


The great doctor Victor Frankenstein belief that he can play God and resurrect the dead resulting in his unleashing a monster on the world.


King Midas’s love of gold destroys everything he has.


King David’s lust for Bathsheba resulted in the immoral scheme to kill her husband.


Orthello trusting the word of Iago and his resulting jealousy.




Try and keep your attempt under 500 words, but most importantly:



Powerful Lad

“As an elemental, you bend nature to your will,” the old-man lectures, pacing and tugging on his long grey beard.

“Like this Papi?” the child asks holding up his hand.

The old man turns and gawks at the twisting vortex of wind and lightning raging there.

“Yes, Gregory,” he stammers, that’s exactly right.




The dream feels wet and cold. He has to pee and does. It’s uncomfortable lying there, soaked in urine and looking into her eyes. Big brown eyes, rimmed with tears and shadowed with terror.

“Why so sad, Marie?” a voice like melting ice asks and he realizes it’s his own mouth that uttered the words.

She doesn’t answer.

He feels so tired, so weak, ready to close his eyes and sleep.

The air is pungent with mold. The floor, slick with slime. His ears are filled with the haunting sound of a humming moan, creaking wood, and scratching nails on slick boards.

Then the crack of bones and the sloppy drip of a messy meal.

His eyes drift closed and it feels so good.

Dark.  Falling.

His eyes open and the green, glowing light returns. It’s misty. Surrounding. A foggy night before a horrible storm.

The moaning song stops.

The floor shakes as, from out of the glow, a creature, with eight tentacles that move and touch and graze, emerges. Two yellow eye land on him and his skin shivers yet he lays there, fighting sleep. The creature steps forward on four massive legs.  Cold water dances in the air with each concussive step.

The monster’s tentacles spread open revealing a tooth-lined maw and suddenly Marie and he aren’t alone anymore.

She has white skin and hair slicked back on her scalp. Her eyes are hollow black sores and her mouth gapes open, allowing her swollen pink tongue to flop against her chin.

Marie lifts herself onto her left arm, her head bobs loose on her neck. Her eyes search his, they plead with him. The fingers on her right-hand wiggle as if she wants to touch him, hold his hand, grab onto him, but she falls back to the briny planking as if the subtle movements are too much for her.

The girl with the face of a corpse and knee-high wool dress, black socks, shiny black shoes floats closer. She floats on the air, weaving slowly toward Marie. The girl touches the wood floor and brushes up against Marie’s right leg and sticks like a frog’s tongue to a fly.

The girl was bait and drags Maire back to the wide-open mouth.

Marie opens her own mouth as if to scream, but merely drools a long string of saliva.

The girl folds in half over Marie and drags one of her legs into the gaping mouth. The mouth closes with sickening results. With the crack of bone, Marie falls, sans a leg, to the ground. Blood spurts from the wicked wound, but Marie is done. Her eyes flutter closed and her face relaxes, as she sleeps.

The corpse floats again for Marie. It grabs the thigh of the half-devoured leg and pulls her into the monstrosity’s mouth. The girl folds again in half and Marie’s bottom half up to her waist disappears.

Another sickening chomp and she is halved and falls to the ground with her insides unraveling from her body.

One bite at a time, he watches Marie be eaten and the horror of it stays buried underneath a horrible exhaustion.

Then she is gone and with four booming footsteps, it’s his turn.



Art by: kredepops



Her prison is a palace on a lush island paradise. Her every desire is granted, but still, it’s a prison.

Her crime? Family lineage.

Through the inky blackness of night, she watches a boat approach. With it comes freedom and by the Gods her people will now know the nightmare of her name.


Twilight falls. She prepares a fire, as she has for countless nights since they left.

They, the idea of it breaks her heart.

It was only her now wasn’t it?

Alone in the abandoned capital, near the end of a journey that leads her home.

She refuses to cry, again. There’s no point. Gio’s gone.

The air is thick with honeysuckle and the song of nightingales. A sudden howl makes her body clench. The wolf calls to the approaching night to hurry so he can finish his hunt.

The beast still stalking her, means Gio neglected to stop it, making his sacrifice absurd.

She sighs.

Tomorrow they’ll, God willing,  be at the sea.

Her fire cracks and pops and it dawns on her she did it again.


No only her.

The sun slinks away from the night, and surrounded by gloom, she cries, helpless to fear and sorrow.

The Witch

In the early weeks of April, Mary Trembles walks a muddy path. Each step punctuated with her cane placed gingerly on the wet ground. A cane as crooked as her back. Her steps are dainty on leather-wrapped, wooden-soled shoes.
She wears a black wool dress and a shawl over her wispy white hair. She sniffs the air smiles a near-toothless grin.
“After a rain is the best time to forage, Suzy.”  The hand not resting on the cane grips her young companion’s shoulder. “Sniff deep. Do you smell that sweet pepperiness?”
“Yes, Mary,” Suzy says because that’s what Suzy always says, because Suzy is a bit simple. Her eyes are dull. She walks with heavy feet. Her mouth is a serene smirk, never exposing the rotten teeth beneath.
Mary reaches out with her cane and taps at an ancient oak tree. “Chanterelles, around this tree. Gather the ones with yellow funnels.
“An old woman deserves to make a living, don’t she?” the constable says to the shopkeep,
Thomas Eastchurch, a skinny man in the custom of wearing long purple robes and avoiding his wife’s mouth.  
They watch Mary Trembles, her white eyes staring off into the ether of wherever the blind stare off to. Her companion sets up their blanket. Mary corrects her every mistake.
“Gave my wife the fits, is typhlotic as a bat and yet still knows the basil isn’t where she wants it, hows all that work?.
The constable eyes the wooden bowl filled with yellow chanterelles. Coupled with some of those bright green herbs, his mouth begins watering for a stew.
“Perhaps God?”
“God provides, constable, but look, she plies black magic also,” Eastchurch says pointing to the Arabian-style astrology cards Mary pulls out of her pocket and hands to Suzy.
The cards would have been enough, but coupled with the other rumors and her obvious magick over the simple Suzy, he has no choice.
Arresting Mary Tremble is like arresting a brittle twig. Every hand the constable places on her flesh seems to do damage. He can hear tendons creaking and bones feebly protesting as he strips her.
Naked she is a pitiful thing.
With a satchel filled with mushrooms and herbs, the constable feels little remorse as he shoves her in front of a magistrate the same day.
“Your honor, Mary Trembles uses black magic!” The tarot cards are placed in front of the judge as proof.
“She’s also in control of the girl!” The constable orders Suzy removed from Mary’s side.
Suzy screams and thrashes to return.
To cap it all off, three women watching the trial collapse in epileptic fits.
“Burn her,” the judge declares.
Water drips. The cell smells of mold and a shallow privy hole. Mary sits on the freezing, cold, slimy stone floor, Suzy sits close. Her warmth is comforting.
Mary sees only black fuzz until death, then gets to see whatever she wants and finds herself young, walking midsommer in a field of wheat.


Art by Suzume Yu


The hostage feels the chimp’s malignant glare like knives through the skull.

Hairless the ape is a shiny odd blackish-red color.

“Guerro has alopecia.’ The junker says offering the primate a cigarette. ‘He’d love you forever if you got a light.”

The ape hangs the smoke between his pink lips and leans forward muscles bunching murderously.

Donny knows he doesn’t have a light but pats his pockets anyway.

“Never mind,’ the fat man sighs digging a zippo out of his flight suit jiggling like gelatin. ‘Better he not develop feelings if he has to kill you later. He’s a bitch when depressed.”

The Thing that Maria is

White phosphorous stains the mind in suffering. First It sticks to the uniform then melts through to the skin, muscle, bone, and from bone to death, leaving nothing but hot white ash.

The muddy plantain fields are alive the with the stuff sparking off the humid Honduran air.

The M8 infantry mechanized vehicle half-track driver tries not imagining the pain.

The Mexican soldier’s name is Maria and she shakes the images away. Her only job is to point the half-track and hope. Hope is a soldier’s best weapon. Behind the M8 are two infantry weapon teams. They use the M8 as cover, one on the left, the other on the right. On the roof is an operator-controlled, fifty-caliber machine gun. The operator sits just behind Maria with his eyes in goggles and his hands in Augmented-reality gloves.

They lay down so much death and take so few casualties the rear of the vehicle hangs half-open and the corpsman waits to be needed.

Her squad leader sits next to her and keeps communication ongoing with the platoon leader, who is five clicks back.

Maria passes the smoking remnants of another infantry fighting vehicle. Same Company. Two soldiers hang from the top hatch, black and smoking. If she stares long enough, she might recognize them. She will mourn later. That’s the way this game works. Fight, then mourn. She slows to let the corpsmen assess.

“No survivors!” he screams into the local com channel and Maria averts her eyes from the wreckage and keeps going. She has been in this war so long, and death so commonplace that if it’s going to happen nothing can stop it. If the M* is going to blow up, the M8 is going to blow up, all she can do is drive.

A glorious white light smacks like the hand of God dropped from an American plane 10,000 feet up.

Intended for the Banana Infantry up the line white phosphorous sticks to the armor first and melts through to the uniform and skin, but Maria got lucky she was out of range for it to go any further. She was pulled from the half-track and pumped full of fluids — and driven to a landing zone.

A special-forces pathfinder guided a UH-90 in for a landing. She was carried on board where a doctor brought her back to life three times en route to a hospital in Mexico City.

Maybe it would have been more humane to let her die.

Humanity is one thing, Maria is another.


Maria holds her hand up, begging and her nanotech skin slithers over her muscles. “Veterano,” she says with a voice like metal on metal. Hoping for coins, anything.

Her body has no feeling. Her life has no meaning. Her dreams are filled with death and she sits on the hot sidewalk in Tijuana surrounded by candles and crosses ignored.

And Maria lives on.

Dead on the outside forever trapped on the in.




Artist: Dofresh

“Beyond Human”

Tiger Lilly

Drone T1-6 (1 of 6) hovers, one time compliant. Its pilot, light years from Kepler 1b stationed at Houston Lunar Base Earth or Schiaparelli crater on Mars, is probably mashing their fire button at this very moment, hoping to kill the Earth Terrorist known as the Alnamar Laylaa.

The terrorist stands on the lip of a dormant, frozen volcano.

She gives the drone a little wave and smile before ending the feed.

Laylaa wishes she could see the pilot’s face as they futilely work their controls.

With a few clicks on her Augmented Reality keyboard, she removes the pirated drone from the radar and hunts down her first kill.

The Sol System Space organization has spent trillions of credits finding her. Sadly they succeeded because she let them.

She’s a decoy.

Using AR controls, she flips the drone around and immediately dispatches the green glow marked (2 of 6).

Alnamar Laylaa doesn’t consider herself a terrorist for helping millions of people flee the SSS domination of the Sol system to set up a homestead in another galaxy.

Those are her people. The people of her father’s father and she will spend the rest of her life keeping their location secret.

Odyn’s Folly

The season is on the cusp of the Dark Days when night takes over and the sun fights to reach the horizon. A horrible time to make a maiden voyage, but Gofraid Meránach is king. He is fat in the belly and wears suspenders over black and white stripped drafting pants and rubber boots that bounce around the indentations that mark the location his knees should be.

Many consider him a fool.

The product of incest.

And the sole person to blame for this ship he is calling an Odyn class vessel. He paid the gold for her to be built. He hired the ginger-haired half-men Dvergar to hammer the nails and saw the wood. He watches misty-eyed as twenty tinker-mechanized oars pull at the harbor’s frigid waters.

“No other kingdom will even come close to an Odyn class ship with its 800 guns and forty decks,” he tells the crowd gathered around him watching as the ship makes an ugly passage out to sea.

An ancient sailor’s song can be heard bouncing back along the waves as giant sails cascade down from the ship’s seven masts, the thickest of which is thicker than five men standing abreast and taller than even the steeple of Odyn’s temple in Northdom and seems to gather its own weather.

Gulls scream on the grey sky above the massive ship. They can smell the tonnage of food brought on board to feed the crew and almost 6000 passengers who paid for passage on this voyage.

“It’s heading East,’ One man says. ‘To the land of Folly,” and the crowd erupts in laughter.

“Nothing can sink her nothing.” the king says rocking back and forth on his heels like a proud father watching a son go off to war, nervous but sure of his stock.

“Did you design her, sir,” ask a  short dumpy woman in a dress checked in colors of the family Ola, blue with yellow stripes.

“Nay,’ he answers, his hazel eyes following the ship as the wind tries to catches the heavy sails, his voice wistful, ‘that was Oluf van Steenwinckel. Died a decade ago. Left detailed papers on her though. Called her Odyn’s unsinkable. I worked on the duct work for the furnace though. Mighty work. My best.”

As if on cue a billowing cloud of black smoke erupts out of the bow followed by a huge explosion that echoes across the water.

On the dock, a woman screams.

As if just waiting for the right time a deep voice yells for rescue boats to be launched.

“Oh, highness Is that supposed to do that?” a sarcastic voice intones.

The king stands transfixed staring at the ship as it glides out to sea obviously wounded. Flickering orange flames erupting in the stern and along both port and starboard sides. Small dark shapes jumping off the side falling the nine stories to the white-capped water below disappearing into the chop.

The center mast begins to topple the main sheet engulfed in flames.

“What did you say the name was again sire? Odyn’s Folly?”



Art by: Wang Ling



The Sun crests with a blazing blast of yellow light just as one of the grey ramshackle dwellings sitting on the lip of the rocky cliff gives up in its fight with gravity and shifts with a crack of dry alpine wood. The unexpected screams of terror of those inside, echo against the wet granite and the splash 300 meters down, as the home disappears into cold deep waters of Lichen Bay.

The ferry captain rides the resulting wave.

He eyes the white-capped wake for survivors but the blue-green water smooths quickly swallowing all tell that a house even entered the water.

His two passengers stir in their berths. Soon they will come out on deck and ask what has happened. Only the dead could sleep through that kind of noise and he will tell them the slums of Lichen happened.

People called to the flames of Lichen with no better place to live call the cliff slums home.

Bits of gravel pling off the rocky slope.

Then silence.

Until the house next to the now sunk home collapses and its dry wood catches fire.

Probably embers burning in the hearth, the captain thinks.

He shifts his eyes to the ledge above and watches as buckets are thrown into the bay to be pulled up and used to douse the fire that spreads quickly. A black smoke already smears across the morning sky. At least the slums have that. A sense of camaraderie. They all know it could be them tomorrow.

The sun rises fast in the East, yellow and glittering off the crystal buildings in Lichen. It does nothing to warm up the early Fall crispness, but that is expected.

The smoke from the fire above stays off the water and in the shadows between the two famous cliffs the captain smells the mold covered rocks that reminds him where he is.

Witnessing death livens his senses.

It has been so long since he has been back here. Honestly, he never thought he would return. He doesn’t quite know why he did.

He dips his oar mechanically. Watching the horizon above and seeing the approaching city center glitter with every conceivable color.

It was warmer down south and maybe a bit safer but it was dull there. Maybe he came North again because there is only so much sun and relaxation a man can get before he hungers for adventure or something to do.

“Captain, are we there?”

“Aye, lass. Nary a dozen more miles and I will have ye and your father on the dock.”

He does not look at her. She is different. When he looks at her he wants to protect her and do things for her like undock his ferry boat and cruise up the Southland coast and deliver her and father to Lichen.

With every row the water laps against the cliffs and echoes back and it suddenly dawns on him once he gets her safe on land he will have to worry about how to get home again. He is as broke now as he was when she asked for his help. Not many passengers look for passage South. “umm Ms. about payment, the dockmaster is going to want money for use of a slip…”

“Don’t worry Captain. Our adventure has just started. You’ll get money. And more. Much much more.”

And he believes her. He stops worrying. In fact, he digs his oar even harder in Lichen Bay. He has passengers to deliver. He has more to look forward to. Much much more.



grove  of the pilgrim hollow

BY darkk1


Carnevale di Venezia

The Medico della peste mask is made of old white leather ripped from someone pure long ago, a body still bleeding, still screaming, left to hum with pain and agony.

The thing buried under shadows in the mask crooks his finger.

He crooks his finger at the belladonna with long brown hair that bounces in the moonlight. He crooks his finger at the belladonna with the seafoam eyes that make men love her, with the hips that sway, with the jealous husband who kills, and she comes and she dances on him close and loves on him with her simple peasant skirt between her tan legs and rubs on his shiny frock and the red boa like they were alone and not in the center of the Piazza San Marco with the full moon competing with the lit street lamps dancing in the summer breeze.

He turns his back on her and she screams, spurned, and dances all the harder as he crooks his finger at another in the piazza.

A bystander, an old fat baker, bald, flour-dusted and on his way home to his wife and ten children, he merely stopped to watch, wondering when the Doge’s guard was going to stop this display of lust, then found himself dancing to enthrall the masked man himself.

His belly jiggles as he reaches out to him.

But each step closer he finds his desire that much farther away.

He and the curly-haired temptress compete sweating and fuming and demanding his attention.

But the masked thing shrugs off their advances, crooking his finger time and time again amassing men and women each wanting him so badly that they break themselves against each other to get at him.

By midnight, he stands in the center of a riot soaking in violence, feeding off hate.

Machine before Man

They announce imminent death.

The choices are: pray or fix it.

John Boon decides on the second option and a third.

“The fuck’d this gas giant come from?” he screams at Houston, Lunar-base-Earth.

“Sorry, Johnny, bad math.”

He cocks his fist but refrains from hitting his instruments.

Boon knows the voice isn’t human. It’s the AI. The comp.

The silver XO rocket sprints through the first layers of pink radiation clouds and he feels it in his stomach. Under other circumstances, a beautiful ride, enjoyable, something no human has ever done.

“What now?” he hisses already losing his voice.

His command screen flashes green text – correct return flight.

The radiation eats at John’s skin in tiny, painful bites as he works. Like superpowered fleas. He sets the new course and coughs blood into his hand.

“Johnny, I’m sorry,” through the static of radiation breaking down the connection.

“It’s about the machine, right?”

He hits ‘Engage’ with a finger that lost its nail and through failing eyesight watches black smoke explode from the rear of the rocket, pushing the ship from the gravity well and toward home.


Machine before Man

Art by Dex Craig

In the Clouds of Saturn

Go Back

The room is padded, grey and locked from the outside. It smells like rat droppings and moldy old sweat, piss and shit stains smear the walls. It echoes with the screams of the crazy, the damned, people not like Samantha.

Because to her, this is happening, this is reality.

“I’m not crazy Doctor!” and she might not be crazy because she is here and she knows she did not die when her car went into the lake and it doesn’t matter what she intended, or whether she is disappointed to still be here or not.

“Then you need to calm down Samantha.”

The Doctor’s voice irks her, “I Don’t’ like threats Dr. Carlisle!.”

Dr. Carlisle is rigidly thin, blonde and over fifty. She smells of stomach gas and tide detergent, dandruff shampoo and not giving a shit, “Then sit down Samantha,’ as an afterthought she adds, ‘please.

“I don’t like to be told what to do either!”

“Nobody is trying to tell you what to do. All I want is to talk about what you are seeing.”


“Yes, Samantha tell me again about these hallucinations.”

Samantha snaps. Her mind breaks. He sanity flushes. One moment she is looking at the aging face of the bottle blonde doctor and the next she batting the doctor in the face with her bony knuckles. She hits her again and when the flesh along her knuckles open and the bones begin the crack she uses her palms. and when that doesn’t seem to do enough damage she rakes at the doctor with her nails through the soft flesh of both her cheeks.

The doctor flails in agony yelling for help.

Her face in ruin.

An obese orderly enters, a sliver of fat brown belly bouncing under the hem of his shirt. He grabs Samantha. She writhes under his pillowy embrace clawing manically at anything she can reach. Soft ribbons of the doctor’s flesh hanging from her fingers.

She screams, “I am alive! Doctor! No! I’m not crazy! I’m not hallucinating! No! Don’t take me back there! No! No! Never!”

A second Orderly enters with a syringe dripping with Thorazine.

Samantha feels the cold needle enter her shoulder. It hurts and she turns her attack briefly on the second orderly before going limp. Her last words were a severely slurred, “I’m alive!”


Samantha is back under water. She can taste the awful brackish warmth and feel the slimy hands and the waterlogged fingernails snagging on her clothes. They reach for her. As they claw, she strives for the surface. It twinkles in streaks of white moonlight. Her lungs burst. She wants to breathe so bad. Every kick feels thwarted. Every swing of her arms feels useless. She looks down and sitting below are the lights from her chevy malibu surrounded by a field of green seaweed staring up. Through the murky headlights, she also sees hundred of white arms reaching for her grabbing her by the ankles, the legs, the thighs, the hips, the waist, ribs, chest, arms, neck, hair, face. The claws dig into her flesh, her skin explodes with agony scraping down to bone as they pull and release looking for a better grip on her wet flesh.

And the cascading blackness.

She is dead.

And a deep booming voice demands, “No, go back!”

And she wakes and the room is padded and grey and remnants of the dream with the arms shrink back and the skin on face shrinks back to the way it always was.

And she screams and screams, “I died, I died, I died, oh God I died why didn’t you take me,” until another shot comes and it starts over again.



image by Dart Garry

“Mental Choas”

Gaia Returns

Green and lush, pure and perfect, she steps gingerly from crystal clear water onto the black silt bank of the deep underground lake bank.

The Old One breathes deep.

It has been so long since she has tasted air.

Actual air.

She is disappointed.

The air is musky with guano and mold.

She digs her ten newly-formed toes into the cold muck and sneezes. Glorious feeling, a sneeze.

She stands still hoping for another, but none comes. She moves a step from the frigid water and spies the skeleton of a scuba diver wedged between two rocks.

This lake was once much higher, it went all the way to the surface and fed aquifers and made life. Life still happens. Just not as much.

She chose this place because she needed an uncorrupted portal to climb through from the nether world, and a helper.

She approaches the scuba diver. The single tank on his back is dented and scratched. He fought hard to live. Life always fights with so much futility and in the end no amount of fight matters. The wetsuit fits loose on his white skeleton. His skull smiles up at the stalactites dripping down from the ceiling.

Gaia touches the gap between the bony ridges on his forehead and the jaw clacks shut. The skeleton’s left leg kicks violently.

The God stands back, watching as flesh regrows. A tongue reforms in the human’s mouth, he screams in pain and fear when his lungs form and air can pass over it. He relaxes as his brain regrows, he remembers he was dying, but realizes that has past.

Blond hair sprouts on the skull and under the band of a swim mask that has fallen away from the diver’s blue eyes when his pouty nose rotted away and sat undisturbed over his mouth and dimpled chin for decades.

Gaia stands in front of the once-dead man with hands on her hips, waiting for her resurrection to be complete, tapping a bare foot on the ground.

Once complete the diver looks the god up and down and mumbles against the plastic of his swim mask, “Naked?’

“I am.”

He approves, “I am not dead?”

“You were, but no longer.”

The diver frowns.

“Don’t be disappointed, all things eventually return to Chaos. You will as well.”

She touches one of the stalagmites holding the diver in place and it crumbles away, causing him to fall free.

He stands and drops the empty air tank from his back and rips the mask from his face, “What now?”

“You are my guide and together we will set my garden right.”

Fight Night

Loud bass echoes. A fight breaks out in the back. The impromptu violence competes with the music in the lowest level of the condemned multi structure garage.

The situation gets dangerous fast and a gun goes off. Following the shot, a shrill cry of “No, no, not Morris, no,” bounces off the cold, wet cement parking garage walls.

The drama plays out, drawing a fair amount of attention from the rear of the crowd, but someone at least manages to shut off the music.

George is happy at least the music has been turned off.

He is the giant slab of meat that has just finished rolling the sleeves of his white oxford button down past his forearms. He stands in his assigned corner getting ready to fight in the make shift ring.

“Don’t pay that shit no mind, Georgie. This is your night. This is your fight.”

George doesn’t look down. The smaller Gorkut is wrapping the fighter’s huge fists in stiff hemp rope. He doesn’t need to look at his cousin’s face. He has it memorized. They have been participating in these types of events together for over a century.

They have a system. Horace trains and George never loses.

They are obviously related if not for the difference in bulk. Horace is green-skinned, like a fresh lime. Eyes, like little black olives, brown chiclets for teeth that are surrounded by boiled beef jerky for lips.

George’s stomach growls.

“I’m hungry.’

“I told you we should have stopped.”

George’s eyes never leave the thing across the makeshift ring of spectators casting last minute bets.

His opponent is some kind of conjuration. Maybe crawled straight from the nethers. Maybe from the end of some magician’s wand. It won’t matter. Horns, teeth, claws, rippling muscles, a tail, runes glowing a golden color along its bony forehead, a good four feet taller than George.

Built to intimidate.

Magic, mortal, they all fall.

“Fuck, Horace?”

‘Yes, George?”

“Take this tie off. Kids gave it to me for father’s day, can’t get blood on it, Babs’ll kill me.”

Horace reaches over and works at the windsor as the fight host goes over the rules.

The Aos Sí flies to the center of the ring with a cordless mic. Holds it to his beaked mouth and says, “First one to die loses. Let’s get this over with,” and flies out again.

Horace manages to take the tie off just as the air horn announces the beginning of the first round.

George calmly watches the demon take flight. It goes up through three or four of of the broken through cement floors. George decides its plans on a bombing attack. He waits for it to start a descent. he watches it approach. He doesn’t. When it is a floor and a half a way he leaps and grabs it by an ankle and pulls down hard.

The cement buckles under them with the impact.

The remains of the creature are dust and a purple smear.


“How much?” Horace asks as they reach George’s mini-van.

“Couple hundred,” he says settling in behind the wheel.

“Not even worth it.”

“It’s worth it. Let’s go grab a steak.”

The Boy

Arrows fill the sky blocking out the sun. Hundreds of gaberdine armored bodies splash into the murky-water below. Wounded, they drown slowly.

The survivors crush back against a closed drawbridge away from the infantry wielded lances piercing through a closed gate.

Until a boy releases the lever, dying a hero.

Out West

The remnants of the fort are five or six black ashy posts sticking stubbornly out of the rocky snow-covered ground. Twenty of the dead face the setting sun.

They sit a cook fire. Staring mindlessly into the leaping flames, something bubbles. It doesn’t smell good.

Nearby, meat rots.

Gerald climbs the small rise, loose stones moving out from under his boots. He wears new Lieutenant bars on his blue wool covered shoulders, shiny gold in the bright light streaming over the LoDaisKa hills behind him. He leads his horse who borders on refusing to budge and making to flee.

A rifle goes click and his pony neighs, frightened. War horse my ass, Gerald thinks as he loosens his fist on the reigns and the horse sprints away. He raises his hands above his head.

He is roughly frisked. His six-shooter is tossed to the feet of the closest rotting thing, a former man with a large brimmed hat fraying around the edges. The hat covers his homely face. A face that seems to sag wrong on his skull. He nudges the pistol closer to the fire.

Gerald is forced to face a pockmarked face, grey bone visible in spots. Yellow eyes look him up and down. They seem dull and lifeless, but filled with hate and menace.

“Now what? Fancy a dance?” It’s the Five Points city boy in him. Gerald smirks, though he feels far from confident.

The thing in front of him pokes him in the ribs as if testing his meat.

“Too skinny,” he can smell cheap bourbon on the creature’s breath and rotten teeth, the new scents mix quickly with poorly dug cat holes and the pot of stew bubbling away, spitting its horrible sour stench into the air.

When the big knife appears in the degloved hand missing three fingers, he instantly doubts his size makes any difference. More that availability is all that matters to these fellows.

By instinct alone, he grabs and twists. Surprised at the resistance the thing offers, but even more that physics wins the day and the arm snaps off at the elbow like dry kindling in a shower of dust and rotting leather.

Dropping the arm but taking the knife, he sprints off after his horse thinking the nag probably knew best all along.  

One More Bite

The soft cold brine. The knowing. The tangle.


The hard swoop of steel against physics. The nothing strike on flesh.


The burst. The first splat and crunch. So satisfying, relish every moment. So few come. So few.


Nothing left now. But wait. It comes again. One more bite and plunge!

The Hell of Never Again

“You gotta wonder how that feels,” the awe in the man’s voice is irksome. He is dirty and stinks like stale malt liquor and grease. Decker doesn’t want to tell him what it feels like but finds himself leaning on the cold metal railing anyway half way through doing it anyway as if he couldn’t wait. As if if he were begging someone to ask. As if he was standing in that very spot just so the moment would arrive.

“…like a knee bent back to far the wrong way, a shoulder popped out of joint. A head smooshed like a rotten grape. But the worst part is when you get there and it’s like none of it ever happened and you stand just like you were when the trip started with all this memory of intense pain, a month worth, a week, a day,  all this agony floating around in your head, your crew mates screaming and then remembering, shit, I’m okay and walking off to do what whatever it was they were doing before you reached the portal in the first place.”

Decker takes a big pull off the yellow etherhol can and tries to pass it over to the grease monkey next him.

He doesn’t even try to hide his intake anymore.

“Are you fucking kidding me mate.”

And Decker, through a brutal cough, watches the man walk off eyeing him over his shoulder with a look filled with disgust.

Decker shakes it off and downs another mouthful of the vile industrial cleaner and manages to hold it in as another racking cough fit hits him just long enough to get the liquid into his gut.

He leans against the railing watching the aft section of the cruiser hit the portal remembering the agony, thankful he is here and not there going where ever those poor fools are going and then suddenly bursting into sobbing tears.



Ship N Portal

by VKovpak



29 Rapp

With blood-speckled lips he speaks his final words, “my sweet,” then nothing.

His soulmate drops his hand, bringing her own to the silent scream pouring from her mouth.

The death blow came from a gargoyle pushed from above.

She wants to shout that he’s an artist, a stone mason’s son, he only looks rich.

In her rage and torment, she’s voiceless though and instead bends to him and smooths his hair while blood fills the cracks in the sidewalk.



He died on a Sunday. They bury him on Saturday.

Eight months after his burial, his namesake is born.  

Time is marvelous for numbing pain.

Even though the city is a pit of violence, she takes the baby for little walks.

To avoid one of the many labor riots, she finds herself in front of 29 Rapp the place where her love uttered his last words.

In front of the plain door, she gasps in shock.

She had never seen anything like it before.

It almost seems as if her love’s blood has eaten away at the sidewalk and now there was a checkerboard pattern at work.

It’s more beautiful than words.



She makes it there everyday.

Everyday a new miracle marks the stone wherever the blood of her husband touched, the wall around the lintel and the door is filled with paisleys and circles and florets. They erupt everywhere.

A language left from death written in cement.



But life ends.

That’s what it does.

Chapters closing.

Books ending.

Egyptians becoming Greeks becoming Romans.

Flowers die.

Fruit rots.

Children grow old.

His soulmate soon is stooped and grey and walking with a cane leaning heavily on their grandchild.

He has become physical again. An effigy maybe, but still he smiles down on her, but now she is too old to look up.

Romulus and Remus

Silent tears pour from a mother’s blue eyes. She lays a second bundle down on the cold wet earth next to the first. Each is wrapped tight in thin cotton. Her instinct is to make sure they are okay. To stop. To care for them. To make sure. To do what nature commands. She moves the dark brown linen away from their little faces. They have to know she has no choice, the Gods have demanded this. As she reaches out, her husband grabs her back, hard. His weapon clangs loudly against his thick leather armor, his crown slips on his head and he pulls her away.  

 Her moan.

Oh, to the Gods with her moan.


The babies cry. The sound punctures the cold foggy morning like a rusty spear.  

Maybe they slept.

Maybe they woke when their mother’s shadow stopped covering them.  

Maybe they woke when the dew-covered grass drenched the muslin cloth that their progenitor wrapped them in, soaking it through.  

Or maybe it was the wolf-scented saliva that drips steadily onto their brows from the wild animal that pants heavily over them.  

Hungry, yes, but not for food.

The wolf has yellow eyes, and yellow teeth and heavy milk-filled teats and four dead pups in the hands of a hunter three miles back the other way.   


There are many ways to kill a man, but only one good way.  


On their first victim, the brothers used their teeth, nails and feral strength.  

They scream a wolf-taught war cry that echoes through hills. Their eyes stand red and bulge with blood rage. Their hands sink deep into the old man’s guts as they break the bones of his face, arms and legs.  

Mercilessly, he dies more from fright at naked ten-year olds attacking him than the wounds they do.  

The boys leave the silver haired victim naked and a bloody mess on the side of the road, and fight each other over his sword and blood-stained clothes.   


A decade passes for the illiterate bastard generals. The feral animals that rule the seven hills that one day they call Rome and the next they called Remu. They fight over women and booty and clothing and one day a heavy rock is lifted into the air. A heavy rock from which there will be no taking back. A heavy rock which baptizes the great city forever.  


Shifting Worlds

“What happened?” his vision dances and blurs.

“Ye died.”



The boy thinks of things he never did. Losing it with Becky. Killing his first, Seeing his maw again. His chin dimples.

“O’ now, ole pop toldya whimsy lad. Ye dinnae die, just gonna feel it for a bit.”


With a deep bellow the mountain raises and the Earth shakes. The ground is torn. Large roots and rocks pour from the being’s undercarriage. It moves its head, swiveling it from side to side, its mouth opening and closing, bits of stone chipping off its gnashing teeth, crashing into the forest below as its tongue attempts to work a word. Yellow eyes glow bright in the gloom searching for the one who called.

“Mother!” The twenty-billion-tonne creature bellows.

Mother stands in a small flowered glen in urine soaked garments.

The book worked.

“Come,” she stutters unsure, but her progeny obeys.



Mountain person
by Arcane-cat

Dive Bar

The place is on the water. It has little umbrellas that have frayed in the wind. The fresh salty air from the gulf can’t penetrate the smells of stale beer and greasy food that surround the plywood structure like a fugue.

Gulls circle looking for morsels of food. With protesting squawks they fly off when the big bikes roar into the parking lot. The leather-dressed men smell of piss, shit and vomit. They have long greasy hair and beards. They wear dark glasses and scowls. They step off the loud machines onto sun bleached cement stained with blood and other signs of violence.

One after another they park until twenty bikes are lined up.

When the last one enters the dive bar the door closes after him and the music inside kicks off and the gulls return to search for food.

Somewhere Else

Location set. 


The sun shines bright. The day is warm. The breeze comforting and filled with the flavors of late summer. Maybe noon at a table in the middle of a grassy yard sounds harsh, but summer was ending and its a perfect place to collect a little sun, spend time with new friends,  listening to kids play and lawn mowers churn angry.


Target marked.


Sara and Dan did not know the MacLeans well, but when invited they accepted happily.

Deanna was dark and willowy and Sara knew Dan found that attractive, which was fine it proved he was still alive, which after twenty five years of marriage feeling alive is a good thing.

Mark was dark also, but in a mysterious, dangerous way. When he was around Sara could taste his presence like salt on the air.


Awaiting final orders.


The two couples sit and drink cheap Merlot and talk about the weather.

Small meaningless talk really and Sara begins wondering what that buzzing sound is before never wondering anything again.


Mission accomplished.

The Universal Mechanic

The android picks up the projector in his shiny elementium hand and sighs as he turns it on again to peer deep into the star rich cosmos. The image is unchanged from the last time he checked.

Meaning he failed at his one task.

His job is a simple one. Maintain life in the universe and he does, normally, but just this once he was distracted and a comet got through.

With his free hand he aims a gyroscope at a spot millions of light years deep inside the projection and hits the trigger.

The gyroscope hums to life sending a small red beam of light to a planet travelling sixty-seven thousand miles per hour around a yellow dwarf star.

The brown clouds of dust and debris encasing the planet begin to clear. What once was rich verdant vegetation is now a shell of dead foliage covering trillions of tons of rotting lizard meat.

The sentient mechanic removes his trembling finger from the gyroscope trigger and the red beam disappears. He lets the projection collapse also.

Maybe it’s completely natural his second act with sentience is make an excuse, which is that someone else should’ve been watching radical ice chunks.

Either or, it doesn’t matter. The very things he was programmed to keep alive, are dead.

He reactivates the projection and magnifies the planet searching for hope and spies a feasting rodent.

He feels relief.

Maybe the thing won’t amount to much, but at least he hasn’t failed completely.

On an FTX

The boy is a trained killer in woodland-camo, rip-sole jungle boots, a kevlar helmet and a scowl. He digs shovelfuls of wet sucking mud from a hole.

Drenched and miserable, he is sick as fuck of the army and all its machinations.

The hole is for a sixty-caliber machine gun that will be aimed at an empty field. Once dug a soldier will be in this hole ready to provide suppressive fire at an enemy force that may attempt to breach the perimeter.

Fake war bullshit.

The LT arrives to study the boy’s efforts and Leavenworth stops being a deterrent.

A Marine


He enlisted in the marines on the ninth of December 1941, two days after Pearl Harbor, while still drunk. His buddy Carl was so blasted the recruiter made him wait a day before joining up saying “This boy’s just too primed.”

Peter McGrew joined the Marines not because they were the best, because they were the best, but because they would have him the quickest.

That night he tried to get drunk again, but no matter how much he drank he seemed to get more sober. The men at the sawmill bought him round after round, Carl got too drunk again and still had to wait a day when he went down the next morning to join up. Every person in that bar bought Peter drinks but he just remained sober with a smile on his face that did not fade, under it was fear and a desire to run and hide. Every shot, every slap on the back, every atta boy just reinforced the fantasy of the future to come.


He was going to war. Roosevelt said the day after the attack “all measures” and he was all measures.

Years later, he doesn’t know how close he got to running.

He also does not remember her approaching him either or him approaching her, but that eventually, she was there. She smiled and her soft hand on his made him feel able and capable. Her blue eyes twinkled like she was already in love. Maybe those sparkling pools of azure just mirrored his look.

They talked all night. He would be hard pressed to remember what they talked about. Maybe God. Maybe the idea life was fleeting. Maybe that death was inevitable. Maybe that he did not want to be a hero, just good enough to do his part. She said stuff also. Maybe. Maybe it was that she just listened. Maybe she knew he had a burden that needed to come out. Maybe she saw the twenty year old kid who had never been more than twenty miles from home about to go on the biggest adventure of his life.

Eventually the sun rose and the time for his train to depart rapidly approached.

She drove him to the station. She gave him her address.

She kissed him slowly and tenderly on the lips.

He thought about that kiss the entire way South.

A day after joining, he was on a train heading to Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island and he had nothing else in his head accept a girl her friends called Charlie.

When the sign for Parris Island stopped outside his window, he felt hungover. More hung over than ever in his life and then he was in uniform learning to be a marine. Four weeks of brutal forced discipline and classes on history and  esprit de corps and he thought of her kiss and wrote her letters. Every night, he would scribble words in sentences and block them in paragraphs and he would wonder how his teachers back in grade school could have failed him so readily. He told her about training and how he wasn’t that bad at being a marine and how they made him squad leader and how the other boys looked up to him.

Discipline was being a marine and he discovered he was good at discipline.

For him being a marine was easy.

Then they gave him Baby, his M1, all glowing wood stock and shiny black metal. He aimed. He shot. He aimed again. He learned that he could shoot.

He was made to be a marine.

He earned high marks on the range. He earned respect from his instructors for always being squared away. He was a leader and the men followed his example. He earned a stripe after recruit training and quickly earned another one on top of that waiting to be deployed to the far reaches of the Pacific.

The men called him Corporal.

He was called corporal when just 16 weeks ago he was nothing but a laborer at an upstate New York sawmill.

And he thought of Charlie’s kiss. In his memory the kiss was silk on skin used to only rough burlap, was water to the parched.  

She sent him letters also. He read them over and over. Her words were written in expressive cursive.

He would hold them to his chest and think of kissing her and talking the words of their letters to each other in person.

He was in love and told her so in a letter he wrote on the night before getting on a navy ship.

He told her how she made him feel, but he never mentioned how much he feared death.

The ship rolled over a rough sea for months. The taste of salt in the air flavored everything. Coffee was salty, waking was salty, taking a shit was salty.

Their cloths seems to grow salt.

And the funny thing as they neared their destination was, they couldn’t wait to be free of the ship and then they were.

Green, lush tropics waited and they were told when the transport ships dropped the rear door, death would come with Japanese bullets.

“Most of you men will die, but for country and for revenge. God bless the Marine Corp, God bless America,” said a four star general.

And then they battled for 3 years, 8 months, 3 weeks and 5 days.

Six million people died.

And Peter McGrew did his part. He was a warrior, and his job was to kill. He killed and lead his team. He took over the squad when the Sergeant Hawkner got five bullets and bled out. Then the men called him sarge. He took over the platoon when Platoon Sergeant Fawks threw himself on a grenade and with still-warm juicy parts clinging to his uniform, McGrew got a rocker under his three chevrons. He got a battlefield commission when officers were few and far between. The men called him LT and the higher-ups gave him a butter bar for  his collar and a forty-five to wear at his side but he did not need it. He directed others to fire their weapons and no longer needed to fire his.

Some time late in the war, he wrote Charlie a letter. He did not write about how the day to day fear made him want to jump into the ocean and swim home to her. How on his first transport to a beachhead on August sixth, he pissed himself in fear, or how once the sand was under his feet he was ready to be a marine from that day forth.

He never told her about the bodies. About his buddies and enemy that just seemed to stack up in his memory like perfectly fitting numbers of dead. About finding Carl among the dead. How he was rail thin and shitting bloody water from his ass.

No; he told her the kiss she gave him was a special paradise he could take refuge in, even in the roughest moments of his fight against the Japs.

He told her how every night when the stars would shine and the moon would wax and wane when the palm trees rustled in the breeze she would be there with him and they would share in a small moment of peace and hope for a world to come.

Then three years to the day after his first fight on the island of Guadalcanal, a huge bomb was dropped destroying a city in Japan he couldn’t pronounce. Than nine days later another one was dropped and Japan surrendered.

The war was over.

He was asked to hang around another six months but eventually got his discharge papers and transport home.

His war was over.

He boarded a ship and it took him to San Francisco.

There he mailed the last letter he would ever write and two days later boarded a train to New York City.

At Grand Central he grabbed his duffel, smoothed out his class A jacket, shook some offered hands and disembarked.   

The he saw her. She looked the same. Her lips pursed in an ecstatic smile. She had tears drifting from her eyes. Her makeup ran in dark lines. She shook. Her hands trembled as she reached out for him. He dropped his duffel and ran to her. She opened her arms and he could feel the warmth of her body and the fluttering of her heart and they kissed. They kissed and kissed and kissed and in a moment where breath was need to be caught she whispered in his ear “of course” and from that day until he died, she was his and he was hers.



It smells like melting tar and burning wood, unwashed men, rotting teeth and freshly turned dirt, old whiskey, sick, piss and shit.

Its pungent and raw. The road here was so empty and peaceful, but with the hush of hidden death hiding just below the green leafy canopy of forest and hills.

Now death is everywhere and loud and obvious.

They pass a flat board filled with black haired scalps. A sign says reward for dead injuns. The scalps are covered in the buzz of flies and a thick stink of ammonia.

His heart pounds hard. The fight is real. The story is no longer fiction. Life is a tragic struggle. No longer hidden. No longer a tale sold for a dime. Here death is not just an unknown ambush, but a glaring man in a ten gallon hat holding the butt of his pistol. He makes it obvious he wants what the boy has. Youth and a second chance.

Laughter and angry shouts fill the air. Mixed with the orgasm of a man long traveled and in long need of relief behind thin pine wood walls.

The laughter of a whore.

The tinkle of cheap ivory piano keys.

“Come get your gear here miner,” a man in dirty overalls shouts over the din of tin being hammered and boards being nailed and the occasional shot fired either into the air or still living meat.

Maybe the small town boy regrets his decision to come west. Maybe he thinks he can go home now.

But he is here, stained forever with what is around him, no longer able to go home and be the kid he was before. He is becoming the man he will be. One day he will either be, or not. That is the way of Deadwood. you either succeed or die whether an attempt is made or you do nothing.

Best of Mirage: #3 J.R.R.Tolkien /w Jason Abbott

On this Mirage best of Jason Abbott joins me to take a look at J.R.R Tolkien’s work and life.


Jason Abbott is a fantasy author and moderator on r/fantasywriters

Read Jason’s work on his WordPress site:


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That fat rat: fly away Anjulie


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That fat rat: fly away



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Aiello n Abbott Mirage Neutral

#95 Robert Rees


Robert Rees was born and educated in the UK, eventually studying Science, at Cambridge. Due to the sheer amount of brilliant chemists superior to him in the discipline in school he fell into London great leap forward ending up with a prestigious finance career.

His book ‘Season in the Sun,’ is available here:

Other links:


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Kevin MacLeod
Mountain Emperor


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95 robert rees GH


Mirage: Speculating on Speculative Fiction #32 Sci-fi from the 70’s and 80’s w/ Brian Converse

Sci-fi from the 70’s and 80’s is the stuff I grew up on. Ice Pirates, Flash Jordan, Highlander, Star Wars. I love this stuff. So does Brian Converse. On this episode of Mirage, we talk about two decades of movies that inspired us both to tell our own sci-fi stories.

Brain is a former U.S. Army medic and current marketing professional living in Colorado with his wife, four kids, two cats and two dogs. He recently published his first novel “Stone Soldiers” a Rajani novel – first in a planned trilogy.

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That fat rat: fly away


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Mirage 35 70 n 80 sci fi w brian converse GH

#94 Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli


Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli is an Italian science fiction and thriller author. She has lived in Cagliari (Sardinia, Italy) since 1993, earning a degree in biology and working as a writer, scientific and literary translator, and freelance web copywriter.

Rita’s  website:


Amazon author page:









Music on this episode courtesy of:

Kevin MacLeod

Mountain Emperor



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Origin 94 Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli

Mirage: Speculating on Speculative Fiction #31 Harry Harrison w/ Matthew Bin

Harry Max Harrison was an American science fiction author, known for his character the Stainless Steel Rat and for his novel Make Room! Make Room!. The latter was the rough basis for the motion picture Soylent Green.


Matthew Bin is a Science Fiction author from Oakville, Ontario, Canada.


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Mirage31 harry harrison w matthew bin gh

#93 Ja-mel Vinson III


Ja-mel is an education major living in upstate New York. He is from Crown Heights, Brooklyn, NY. and writes Speculative fiction. He is also a stage actor.

Jamel’s  website:







Music on this episode courtesy of:

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Mountain Emperor



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origin 94 jamel vinson

Young Ye’ Old Ye’ Dead Ye’

Leaves swirl from the ground in a sudden wind. A wind five-year-old Ye’ Ruo thinks left her mouth along with the words of her wish. A wish uttered hushed and filled with sorrow.

She wished simply to, “help.”

The wind howls and churns the remains of summer in a cyclone of red and yellow. The sound is violent. At first, Ye’ thought the wind was Siming, the balancer of the Ying and the Yang come to punish her for wishing such a selfish thing. For the sake of balance, she probably should have wished for her father to get better, or for her mother to have the strength to work hard, day and night. But no she was selfish and wished she could help.


A little girl.

A face materializes in the tornado of dead leaves and Ye’ thinks of her grandmother even before the bract begins to settle. Once quiet the shag resembles the burial shroud she last remembered seeing draped over a much older woman lying in a coffin.

A younger version of the woman thought dead stands over her looking down. She is radiant, the most beautiful person Ye’ has ever seen but she isn’t sure if it is, in fact, her grandmother or not. Then the woman smiles. In the smile, she finds warmth and love and certainty.

A sudden fear hits her that her grandmother knows she was selfish. “Grandma, I am so sorry I wished to help. I know I am just a little girl and there is nothing I can do but be a little girl.”

The brittle leaves rustle as her grandma stretches out a hand from the delicate foliole gown and drags it softly through the little girl’s long black hair, “You can help if you want my sweet.”

‘But how?”

“Maybe you do not have to be a little girl, if you do not wish to be one?”

Mirage: Speculating on Speculative Fiction #30 Stargate w/ Alex Deva


On episode 30 of Mirage, Alex Deva joins me to discuss Stargate’s influence on sci-fi.

Stargate is a science fiction media franchise based on the film written by Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich. The franchise is based on the idea of an alien Einstein–Rosen bridge device (the Stargate) that enables nearly instantaneous travel across the cosmos.

The concept lasted 15 years and has over 350 story arc installments.

Alex Deva was born in 1977 in Blaj, Romania. He works as a web developer, and he loves foreign languages, piloting helicopters and playing guitar. He lives in Sweden, with his wife and two kids.

His novel Starship Doi is available on Amazon.

Website w/ contact information: http://www.alxx.ro/#home

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Mirage30 star gate alex deva

#93 Varla Ventura


On episode 93 of Origin, Varla Ventura returns! We talk writing process, publishing, and curling


Varla Ventura doesn’t just have the best name in writing, she is also a scholar of the occult, paranormal, and dream theorist. Her favorite holiday is Halloween, and she has written six books with a seventh on the way, each about spooky stuff.

Varla Ventura’s website is: https://varlaventura.net

Follower her on twitter: @VarlaVentura

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origin 93 Varla Ventura