Catch me, if you can.

Taurus laid a rug out on the floor for the sun to lay upon. But when it came dusk, the sun ran off with a couple of clouds instead. Something about wanting more and needing less was uttered in the escape as the three began a mild escapade of scavenger hunts for moments bright and brilliant in the day.

A couple days passed and nothing changed.
Taurus alone with a blanket and a rug.

Then Virgo came along and made some comments, mild suggestions really. But Taurus didn’t want to hear it, being bullheaded and all. So, Virgo sat cross-legged on the rug and waited.

In the morning after that afternoon, another came and gave no name in particular. Just a firm hand-shake and a gentle smile. One that indicated everything would be alright. But no discussions about solutions ushered forth from anyone’s lips. They all sat or stood just staring around that spacious room. Each one in their own mind wondering — what will come of this?

And another day passed.

The next came a fox with a wand lit and smoking from a glowing flame. The light of that orange tongue lit the room, bathed everyone’s face in a warm glow. And soon Taurus was asking “Who are you” and “How will we-” and things about trying to fix this place.

The fox was agile, though, and did not answer but painted for everyone this picture: a glowing red sun slowly turning blue and setting over purple crested mountains as grasses swayed and birds winged overhead through clouds thin like whisps of hair.

Taurus nodded, thinking the answer was understood. Virgo got up, turned, and left the room. The fox laid down to sleep. And in the night, a nightengale sang and an owl joined the party in the room lit, still, by the fox’s wand.

A single hour before dawn, the owl perked up and sang. Not a lyrical melody, but a sad song of longing. Of missed places and lost conections, of failed hunts and lonely nights, of cold and bitter winters. Of games with no winners.

And as the sun crested the flat land, the owl shoved off and flew away.
The fox didn’t stir.
Taurus didn’t know what to do, so wept unendlingly at the loss.

A new day. A new white hot sun. And another magical landscape to examine.
Across a blue grass field, a breeze, warm and clearly blowing from a summer place, blew. The window hanging half open let the fresh air in. This made the room feel a little less daunting. Cozy, even. A little safe. And Taurus, eyes dried from yesterday, laid down beside the fox and fell fast asleep.

And in that vein, another day passed.
As would all the rest.

Happy Birthday, Ors.

Disclaimer: The following are flash shorts written in the round, blind, one sentence at a time, by a table of six people. A perfect party game my fellows and I like to call “Rambling”.

The rain stopped and I looked out the window, thinking: today is my day, finally. At last, I could ignore my allergy to water and walk to the corner store. Not that they caried any cola here; only “Pepsi”, the bastards. Being raised in Atlanta meant I couldn’t even bear to speak its name.

Ignoring my past trama, I took a deep breath, summoned my courage and spoke a single word: “Furby”.

Not surprisingly and unfortunately, that one word was *not* a universal peace-maker. In fact, it just got everyone so stirred up that no-one could even count tp three before guns were out and *someone* lost a head.

I swear to god, every time I give firearms to kindergarteners, something just HAS to go wrong.

It happened in a blur – a flash of light, the unmistakable stench of gun powder and scorched hair, a splash of blood too red, and pain that started in my groin and spread — “Shit,” and then I dropped.

It was unlikely that the cat had gotten in the chimney unaided. I suspected a kindly Santa had helped spirit him up, but then, they said I was crazy.

It was only because of the incident with the leprachauns, which I still maintain was entirely Mary’s fault. After all, Mary had been the money-hungry snitch from the start and how — HOW was I to know leprachauns eat people?!

It WAS an extremely obscure aspect of the mythology, only really partly known even in Ireland. And though it was obscure, it did have a wikipedia page descriing its beautiful green wings and gleaming eyes. Someone kept deleting the vital information about its lethal venom. So when the mutated guinea pig escaped, no one could cute the bits.

The next year, everyone was sporting cowlicks and making grunting noises.

By the time the squirrel exploded, it as already too late. By the time they figured out the problem, the raccoon and the muskrat had gone too.

“Time for the explosives,” Captain called, “We’ll blow ’em out for sure!”

Most of the crew, though obliging, were nowhere near sure of that, however, and they dragged their heels over setting the charges. They adorned the looming contrete curve, the placid lake, and the cheap electricity. But something had to give.

What should have been expected but somehow missed was the fact the old damn was in poor shape. It simply couldn’t handle the spawning salmon. They way their dead fishy eyes gaped after coitus was enough to give anyone the heebie-jeebies.

So, everyone had a shower, they quietly agreed to burn the evidence, and as the sun set, the flames raged, history was erased, and they all thought — now what?

Sadly, my week began with a surprise. Not a happy someone-gave-me-a-secret-present kind of surpise; oh no! It was more of a “hey look, some asshole thre a tennis-ball through your sun-room ceiling and a nest of wasps has taken up permanent residence” sort of surprise. Which was my favorite sort – the kind I had brought my attack swan to deal with.

People laugh at my swan until they find themselves with a broken tibia. Not the femer, not the fibia, not any other bone, just the tibia shattered into a million pieces. The doctors later gave it a zero chance to save it, though that was ignored successfully.

Death – Grandma Rose used to say – is natural, and when we all collectively remembered that, murder just sounded that much…well, funnier really. So we took turns poisoning, stabbing, and shooting each other until we stopped laughing for good — well, everyone except for Grandma, who is probably still laughing. Bless her.

“Happy fucking birthday,” he screamed to no-one in particular.

“It’s not my birthday!” about six uncreative or idiotically gullable passer-bys said back.

It was these morons we were after, so as son as they spoke, we bagged them over the head, tazed them, and tossed them in the back of the van.

We all agreed it was for the best; no one could stand those Scottish accents of theirs. They took all the whiskey with them, just to spite us. The bastard shit heels were too drunk or dumb to realize we’d meet again. Meet again in a darkened bar with a crowbar and a shattered skull to seal the deal.

Langon wasn’t about to take this sketchy message seriously, and crumpled the paper it was on. Fate, however, was against Langon – had been since day one – and so, of course, the inevtiable did happen: the sun went super-nova and obliterated the earth.
Oh well.

He knew instantly when the dolphin-harnessing plan went terribly wrong. To have loved a sea mammal, Flit thought, was to have gone down Road Failure at high speed.

But, could you really call it a mammal? What even really were the scientific distinctions between a fish and a mammal? Fur and fins, live births and fertilized eggs, lungs and gills all mixed up..

“Hell is other people,” so its said, but Kafka never worked in a rendering plant.

THe feeling of fatty animal ghosts clung to her for days no matter how she washed. By the third day, her only options appeared to be a full bath of lysol or a sandblaster. Lysol was for germophobes, so sandblaster is was.

And the sandblaster seemed actually strangely successful!

I believed in love, hope, and basic human goodness — then I made my first friend. Sonja, bitch goddess of passive/aggressive words and actions. Too many notes, too many misunderstandings, too much bullshit for one octopus to handle.

“Everything’s hattah unda de watah” What kind of tripe is that? It thought as it dropped the mallets and unceremoniously ditched out. Literally just ran its bleeding little heart out, and that’s no metaphor because it actually ran unti it died; no joke. And it was also literally bleeding all over the goddamn carpet.

“OMG – BOOD EVERYWHERE,” the report would read later.

Lazy journalists and taking the Lord’s Name in vain piss me off endlessly; I would not read it.

“Fuck me Jesus that was one hell of a book.”

We blotted ten napiks worth of grease off of that pizza, and it wasn’t even an extra-large. Not even five minutes later, our bicylces were again squeek fere and ready to charge off into the unknown.

The pack of feral dogs proved to be far more problematic to our group. They stalked us for days until Jorge finally collapsed from dehydration.

I said we could have solved the problem much sooner with a well-placed bullet or two, but no-one was having that. So, I picked up my bullets out of the grin I’d drawn in the sand, kicked the grid in, and told everyone to get stuffed in my meanest voice.

Honestly? Probably sounded more like a whiney/angsty teen or something, but I tried. Like, omg, I tried. Why do people have to be such lazy dogs about everything?

The sun caught Tallow in the eyes just as the bike crested the last hill. It was enough of a beautiful distraction to cause one of the wheels to snag a particularly gnarly root and destroy the careful balance, tipping the ride towards a tumble. In slow motion they fell, and yet they felt in their heart, they couldn’t take their eyes off the glorious view.

Wanting to see a live volcano had been their dream – just not like this.

Kayla took a deep breath and began to summon her water spirit, but it was too late. By then, the flames had overtaken her entire regiment. “To hell with this,” with a middle finger to the fire, because she was over it – all of it.

“I need to fly to Antarctica or something. Get away from all this,” she thought.

So, fleeing the warmth and never-ending Bellingham Blue Skies, off she went to meet her icy doom.

“Oh my god Becky, enough of your bullshit,” I had sen this movie before. Becky was always full of bullshit, so I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I was. So as she kept piling and piling it on me, my mouth just kept getting bigger and my eyes wider.

When she finally stopped, god! thought I’d die, and then she gets out a knife and begins sharpening it with no expression at al. Two could play at this game, I thought, and put the kettle on; AT her.

She smirked and started taking my Nana’s best china down, and from the cream pot choice, I knew she was going to serve tea – badly. So she did, dropping every cup, saucer, and sugar pot until the table resembled a badly fractured glacier.

Everyone stopped and stared in the silence after the final crash. One person tried to clap: everyone just shook their heads dissapprovingly until it stopped.

The concrete heaved, buckled, and cracked, revealing something better left buried. The stench seared all five sense in unforgettable ways.

“God dammit, Buck,” I muttered, “wash the dishes already.”

Butck, being a moose-head on the wall, predictably had nothing to say. So, the call was made, in came the moose-head collectors – you know the type: never shot a gun, don’t-know-how-to-hunt crazies who just stuff their walls full of this shit – and Buck was never “heard from” again.

Mags didn’t want that to be true and within a week of the disappearance had made a pretty strong self-declaration to find Buck. They packed a bag with the usual supplies: rope, knife, lighter, tarp, sleeping bag and a half dead squirerl. The basic consensus was it wasn’t camping without a first night of Brunswick Stew. Of course, none of them lived to dawn, so that only mattered to me.

Have you ever considered,” Stella asked thoughtfully between bites of spaghetti, “that you might actually be a fish-man?”

“That would explain the smell I can’t get rid of,” Julie said with a sigh.

“Yeah,” I said, still holding the exstinguisher, “Tires burn great at the land fill but the home hearth if a poor choice.”

And though the smoke was thick and black, the pizza came out alright with only the faintest hint of rubber. Really, if you added enough of the “oregano” they’d scrounged up, you wouldn’t really tast it at all.

Like the time we mistook poison hemlock for wild carots – we seasoned that shit so well it was delicious. Gravnted, our memories of what poison hemlock actually *tasted* like are understandably fuzzy.

Without wasting time, I pulled out my edible plant book from my bag, fumbled, and dropped it into the puddle. “Fine!” shaking my fist at the universe determined to fuck me over. “I’ll just starve.”

How houses haunt

The game had no rules, but cheating was an inevitable conclusion. Everyone knew it.

Draw six cards, cheat. Lay down, cheat. Win the game, cheat.

It was funny since it was so obvious. Everyone laughing, saying, “Oh I’m playing underhanded, aren’t you?” Giggling and smoking and drinking and just getting fucked up. Dipping fingers in each other’s pots. In each other’s pants. In each other’s hearts.

No-one knew the exact moment it went too far, but it was more obvious than the cheating. Crack like a bone snapping under pressure. And seconds afterward, the whole room collectively got this wave of nausea in guts or ears or heads. “That’s your body telling you something irrepariably wrong.” Someone sprawled on the back couch said. It was curldled yellow and torn to shreds, stuffing at angles that felt like rot. “Or,” someone across the room called, “like it’s sayin’ we can fix this — but hey, well, it’s gonna be a while my friend.”

Someone half-undressed on the rug laughed. The pole dancer kept drinking straight from a bottle of gin. The two cross-dressed strippers, still fully dressed, just stared.

“Six weeks to feel not so broken. Ten weeks stuck in one position. A couple of months crying over lost projects and lost moments and lost picturesque scenes in lovely dresses fanning in the wind.”
That was the room’s poet. Blue-grey feather in a black wide-brimmed hat, collar so close it looked like it was chocking. A dry cough after this line said it probably was.

The rest of the party sort of went on. Everyone got out sun hats and sunglasses. Everyone put them on to hide, took them off, and traded hands. When it all ended in another couple hours, everyone would lie about which ones were theirs. But why? Only to make each other feel bad. Only to make it sting when a friend slowly slipped away with your belongings. Only to make it burn when twos and threes drifted off, connected in triangles and tangents no-one had suspected.

Whoever was last in the room in the early morning bluing light had the best view of the trappinngs left behind. Mostly, it was discarded clothes and trash that no-one wanted. Mostly, it was things no-one would miss. Hysterical mmoments and hyperbolic mistakes that look better in shadows than in light. Like bruises and scrapes.

And every once in a while, something of value. Like a heart or a cast someone removed in the night, stripping someone else naked for the first time in years.

Those snapshots never yellow and those ghosts never fade. And about once a year, an exorcist comes through to blow faith around the room and make like the place is better. It’s not true, but religion has bad receptors for this kind of thing.

Ramblings

“Holy moly! Me oh my! You’re the apple of my eye. Ain’t nobody please me more than you.”
Edward Sharp looked at the apple of his eye and wished he didn’t have problems with digesting fructose. He was torn; he didn’t know what to do. He wished she was a carrot. So he could eat her…eat her out…take her down and…aw fuck.

Embarrased, he tried to hide the small wet stain. But, the flow gre ever stronger and impossible to hide. The flow. The unity of life overcame them. Surrendered and soft.

Tensile sat up from sleeping, arleady screaming. But despite completely emptying their lungs, not a sound escaped their lips. Fear gripped their innards like a fist as they stood in terror. They were frozen — they couldn’t even scream.

“My healthy insurance will never cover this!”

All the dcotors they visited aabout it agreed within moments. So, they sold everything, bought train tickets and went to Oregon — where assisted suicide was just legalized.

Fable said “goodnight” and through to head to bed, but was interrupted.

“Wait, Fable, beore you sleep…I need to tell you something,” Crimson whispered.

In the distance, under the stars and street lights, a dog barked and a plastic bag rattled in the breeze. We found our peace, our paradise. So we decided to stick a flag in it and call it “ours” and scare anyone away who said otherwise. But a lot of people said “otherwise” and they said it didn’t make any sense. That didn’t stop the plan though, so the bombs were loaded up. It was going to be the longest drive.

“Today is THE day I turn over a new leaf,” said Bitter.

So Bitter flipped through their collection, picked the shiniest, the greenest, and turned it over.

A new orld? Yes, Bitter had stumbled into a magical new world. Bitter felt that this new world had given them a new fantastic point of view, one where capitalism was but a figment of a dream.

Stunned, Bitter said, “How can we make this on Earth?”

“With chemicals and mass deception of the public, you shit,” Blue barked.

This job was probably not going to work out.

In a galaxy far, far away, a badass black woman kicked in the door. Boom! SPLOSION!!!

It was such an amazing explosion that all of the people watching the film stood up and cheered! The theater, naturally, had planned for this and unloaded twenty gallons of confetti on the people.

Andrew, who is, as everyone knows, allergic to paper and paper products immediately broke out in hives.

I shouted, “I have my WFR, I’ll get the benydril! Does anyone have an eppi pen?”

I have my eppi pen! What should I do with it? It echoed into the silence. And so it goes. So it goes.

The ship was sailing in gail force winds…when Pirate Pete grit his teeth and grabbed his blade. Teeth aside, the blade whipped through the air, slicing and dicing.

The blood flow from that alone was uncomfortably thick, but Gate didn’t stop. They just had to know how many licks it takes to get to the middle of the hemoglobin jaw breaker. They took a deep breath and glared at the bloody thing and stuck out their tongue! It was going to be a long day.

And it was a long day.

HUrtling through space, the spaceship began to catch fire. The stores were out of water from drinking too much and not pissing enough, so the crew decided to open the juice packs.

“I can’t stand this juice,” the first mate bellowed.

“I only have lemons and when a person has lemons, what do they do?” asked the captain.

And God, Lord of Lords, Kind of Kings thundered back, “Suck them dry.”

And so we did, and it was disturbingly gross. Why did we do that?

Sally walked slowly home one clear evening. While she was walking, she stopped and stared.

“Why am I here? Why is anything here?” she wondered.

“These are hard questions to be pondering,” said the Raven.

And the massive black bird would have flown away at that, but a gun shot sounded and its head blew off. All that remained was a cloud of smoke and feathers and a meal for one. The skin was crunchy and delish; a worthwhile decision.

Pondering the depths of a murky pond, the frog quietly swam under a lilly pad. What he found there was astonishing. When he saw it, he said, “Welp, I’m out on this round…no, like for real.”

“We can’t just lose a teammate this far in! You’ve got to stay!”

But she had made up her mind; this threesome wasn’t working out. So, she resolved to try again Tuesday and fake it til you make it. Or not.

Tuesday rolled around…she still hadn’t made it. Faking wasn’t working. She needed a new stragegy.

From the dark wood emerged the last of its kind. Lonely, they stared at the edge of the forest and watched for compatible creatures. When they saw one, they went up to it and said, “Is this my house? Is this my beautiful wife?”

Watching the days go by.

‘Yeah, Talking Heads was such a great band,’ the passerby thought. ‘Sarcasm, you jack ass,’ the passerby wanted to stop and clarify — but it had only been a thought, so. You know how it goes.

Closing the door, the bartender was finally able to head home and get some sleep. That would have been true, but the door kicked back open with a crash. In the doorway stood his worst nightmare — the one, the only: Big Bird.

Standing tall and brilliantly yellow, the large bird began to speak. “Today’s letter is N, for NIGHTMARE.”

Suddenly, everything went black and the bird let out a scream!

“Don’t act like you know me. You *don’t* know me.”

Everyone around got really quiet at that.
Five, four, three, two, one, zero.

Flash fiction written sentence-by-sentence by the Gingerbread House and friends.

Snatched

A: Here. Take my hand. Run.

B: Run? As in Re-run?

A: No. As in legs pumping faster than a casual stroll. Heart hammering against your ribs. Sweat in your eyes. Arms swinging to a steady rhythm. Body leaned gracefully forward.

B: Oh. I’d rather rewind myself and start again.

A: We can’t do that.

C: Yes, we can.

A: Shit. It’s too late.

B: What do you mean?

C: Come with me.

B: Do I have to run?

C: No.

A: But you should.

C: Don’t listen to that. It’s an alarm bot. I’m your friend.

A: I don’t know about hat.

B: I think I’ll trust you. Looks like a bot. Let’s go.

B goes with C to a van. B gets in. The van is marked “HOLDING + INTERROGATIONS. K-9 ON DUTY”

C: Comfy?

B: No, umm, the door’s locked?

C: Observant aren’t you. Sit tight. I’m taking you in for questioning.

B: What?! Why?

C: Being in the vicinity. This is a high security area. Sit tight.

B: Shit.

A: That’s always how it goes. Try to warn them and they fall for it every time.

C: Ok k-9-bot. A job well done. Power down.

A: Powering down.

C: Off to the office!

Pieces of

Toward the end of dinner, I was bored with my date and didn’t have enough money for our check. She seemed expectant that I pick up the tab regardless as to how it was going. It was time to play the old “I forgot my wallet” line. Hands out in front of me, completely open, totally innocent. It was a good act and it seemed to be working. So I never said anything and let them think they knew me.

I knew somebody had rank the last of my orange juice and put it back in the fridge. THat’s why *I* ate the last of the ice cream. I knew if I didn’t take such immediate action, you’d have done the same. I would have done it better than you. You were always just too unfocused, too self absorbed to get it right. After I said that, our band broke up, and the cover band of us kept playing.

A surly teenager boarded the bus with a lollipop. There were no seats and it was summer. They stood in the back next to the door so they could leave whenever they wanted. “I’m feeling pretty pretty sketched out, wanna ditch?” Maze said, sidling out.
“No way, we’re in this Stack,” said the queen of Hearts to her son Jack who was too busy messing with the tarts to listen.

Drunk and in love, I made a regretable error. I chose the Celine Dion song one too many times on the bar jukebox. This big muscle-armed kid — I mean like eleven or twelve — came up and punched me in the face for it. And, sure, it hurt a little, but mostly I was just struck by how stupid that was. In hindsight, I knew it was stupid, but I was yound and didn’t care. No one would ever speak of it again.

My silence burns your eyes.
“Did it hurt?” she asked “When you fell fom heaven?”
“IT was more like a float than a fall.”
In this way, they were able to watch everything for a while before it landed. When it did, the wind blew so hard it felt like the earth shook, but it was only the grass sweeping around.

“Sip your coffee and shut the hell up about it,” the server barked.
The customer’s eyes widened and their mouth hung slackly open.
It was one of those restaurants where you were allowed to break dishes if you paid a cover charge. A popular spot for Greek weddings and deep pocketed assholes. It was also the sight where Aphrodite smote Goliath. I mean, that’s what the tour guide claimed, but who believes those assholes anyhow?

In the center of the field, the kids sat in a circle, slowly burning the last fragments of their pasts.
“If anyone tells,” said Max, “we throw you in and burn you, too.”
THere was no doubt they were serious. So we hired a clown to help lighten the mood. When the hired entertainment arrived, no-one believed how ugly the cheap wig was. When it fell off, everyone just aobut died laughing.

The path we took lead to the water. In the water, a crockodile sat. Nothin was visible but his eyes. That’s when she took their game of peek-a-boo one step further and disappeared. The police searched for days with no luck and no leads. Then, the call from a so-called anonymous informant came in, but everyone knew it — it was the whistle-blower, Sipper.

A dog was digging a hole in my yard. I’d had enough of that, so I got papi’s gun and blew its head off. It wasn’t a clean “off”; it was more of a scattered mess of blood + bone. They swept it up and hopped in a car, a dustbin of gore, and raced to the hospital. Maggie, near blind from the cut in her scalp, felt to check if she still had two eyes. She did not — one had fallen off, the other had sunk into her brain.

Sally from the shoe shop was not feeling her best. She went to the baker for some smile cookies to make her feel better. The door jingled as it opened. And then, the knot that help the bells on came loose, and they jingled to the floor.
“Oh no,” Jimmy cried, “I didn’t get to jingle all the way!”
Christy scowled, “Paper money is better any time.”
“That’s why I throw pennies at homeless people.”

Flash fiction written half-blind, sentence-by-sentence, in the round by 5 writers.

May + Gait

Make a prize appear in the brightest sunlight / Close yr doors and windows carefully / Stain yr witches’ clothes bright red / Speak beneath trees.
May woke and licked her lips, first thing, tasting salt on her tongue and tasting yellow in her eyes. The sheet was slipped between her big toe and her little ones. She pulled it straight and crumpled out of the snow-like layers to stand tenderly on the cold and rough wood floor.

I’m calling out/ You don’t, can’t hear it / These timbers sing in alternating timbres / We hear only ever what we want.
Gait was feeling grey upon waking. Nothing like the morning before yesterday. Blue auras had filled the library to the brim. Gait was going to have to sift through the troubles of others until the first sopranos came in for the morning lessons. Would the room even be clear by then?

There was never a way to be sure. Gait lifted the lid of the box of music and selected a few poems to practice. Maybe teach, if it seemed like the kind of thing others would be into.

Gait opened the windows to let light and air in. An unexpected moth fluttered in, wafted above the age eaten books, drifted through the door jamb, and settled inside the kitchen on the rim of a jar of plum jam. As if cuing the rest of the day to occur, just then, the door opened and in came the sopranos, first and seconds together.

Gait was ill-prepared.

A micro-flash fiction written by Ori + Rei over the span of, possibly, five minutes.