Category Archives: writing

Scheduled – Flash Fiction


What a dream, those changes in the light…

There is a change in the light, but I don’t pay attention. I’m watching the news on mute while watching my phone on headphones. I’m not so much absorbing anything so much as I’m using it to prop up my mind.

Then something shakes the building, and so I jerk my eyes away from the screens. I hurry across our apartment and split the curtains to look below.

Something has landed at the intersection.

“That is a ship,” I mutter, surprised at the deadness in my own voice. “It’s a fucking ship.”

My boyfriend pulls off his headphones with a raised bushy eyebrow. He pauses the game on his phone and swallows a bite of pizza. “You okay? You look absolutely terrified.”

I glance at him. My mouth is open and I’m sure I look stoned out of my mind. I can’t even speak. I turn back to stare at the thing that’s landed on the road below our apartment. I can’t even urge myself to point. To gesture. To get his attention. I feel that I’m frozen in molasses. Everything feels slow and distant.

The ship, for it surely must be a ship, is partially translucent and crystalline. It looks like someone took one of those salt lamps, embiggened it a hundred times, then carved it into the shape of science fiction.

Marcus finally pursues his sluggish curiosity. He joins me at the window and immediately drops his phone. Then his pizza. “What. The. Shit.”

Somehow, his presence frees me of my mental prison. Slowly. I still barely nod. “Right?”

He tips his glasses so that they rest in his curly hair and digs the heels of his palms against his dark brown eyes. “Aidan. What. Do you see down there?”

I let out a bark of a laugh. “Well.” I have to swallow because suddenly my mouth feels like I’ve swallowed a desert. “I guess. It really looks like a space ship?”

“Yeah. Shit. Wow. That’s what I thought, but, hell. I wasn’t. I dunno. I didn’t trust myself.” He leans forward and takes another look. Squints. Blinking, he remembers his glasses and slips them back to his nose. His face does a slow-motion transformation into bewildering excitement. “Fucking awesome!”

My body is gradually dethawing, so I’m still in out-of-body observe-mode as the ship releases a sudden cloud of steam under one of its legs. The craft is resting on three highly-articulated limbs. They look like they could belong to an insect.

Marcus is the opposite; his reactions are going haywire with energy—a touchstone of our relationship. I, the curious one, never feel excited. He, lacking curiosity, really goes berserk when he finds something that catches his interest. Pulling on pants over his lounge-around shorts, he dances on his tiptoes. He pulls on a hoody, and then a coat. He’s slipping into socks by the time my brain finally connects actions to consequences.

“Hey, hey, hey. What are you doing?”

“Well, we gotta get down there! This is historic!”

“But, Marcus. What the hell do you think is going to happen? How do you know this is safe?” I’m feeling more nervous with each passing moment. I have an urge to start barricading our windows with plywood.

He understands my reluctance perfectly, and for that I get the stink-eye. “If you’re not going, then at least record from the window.”

“I’m not staying here alone while you go down there!”

Marcus rolls his eyes at me. “Will you make up your mind? This is either the start or the end of our future.”

I tilt my head at his statement. “Wow, how wise. So, everything we do next matters, or it doesn’t.”

His shoulders droop as he hangs his head. “Aidan.”

I grit my teeth and clench my fists. “Fine. Fine! Let’s go.” I start scrambling to find my shoes. They’re buried under some clothes maybe? We were having a long weekend and in complete lounge mode.

“Dude, dude, dude.” Marcus has his face pressed against the window. “They. Are. Coming. Out!”

My mind does a hiccup. “So, we better get this party started?”

Marcus guffaws. “Just, come on!”

We practically tumble out of the apartment while trying to use the door at the same time. I race down the stairs—still shoeless—on Marcus’ heel. My pulse is hammering. The world has decided to show the duality of time. Everything is sure as hell happening all at once and frozen in the moment. I hear a car alarm go off.

There are others in the street, but most aren’t as willing as us. Well, they aren’t as willing as Marcus. I’m just along for the ride. He leads me, holding my hand, straight to the opening spacecraft.

The opening looks like one of those hologram stickers I used to keep on a binder in school. It’s a hexagonal void that glitters and sparkles without having a surface that my mind accepts. There’s just a void in the side of the ship.

A lot of old space movies show a ramp, and some show an elevator, but this thing creates a whole damned escalator setup. It unfolds from a clump of black at the bottom of the doorway, and then there are moving stairs.

Two figures ride the escalator down to the street. They are not humanoid in any sense I understand. They look more like a combination of a camera tripod and a praying mantis—three buglike legs with probably-heads at the top.

One of them is holding a box.

Marcus stops us at the base of the escalator. He beams up at the creatures. “Hello!” He waves his arms. “Welcome to Earth!”

The two tripods twist as if facing each other. “Grbl”, says one. A subtitle—floating just under the tripod’s head—types out the word, “Shit.”

“Grbl,” says the other. Subtitle included.

The left tripod twists to face us. “Urtio la eggnz?” The subtitle offers, “You said, Earth?”

I know that tone of voice. That look. Aliens be damned, some things are universal. After all, I work for the postal service. “Where were you trying to go?”

The right tripod makes a clacking sound. All three of their legs wobble like wet noodles. “Etyu pourz ntthg ajg uiet.” The subtitle helpfully annotates, “We have a scheduled delivery for a Gregory Nassan on Truken Five.”

“Oh,” mumbles Marcus. He glances at me. “Uh.”

I grin sheepishly. “Sorry, buddy. Not on any of our maps.”

Marcus raises his hand—actually raises it. His eyes are suddenly gleaming. “Ooh, I mean, we’ll sign for it! If that’d help.”

The tripods exchange a glance. They pirouette at each other. “Vfhsdru.” The subtitle taps out, “Sure. Whatever.” Tossing us the box, both turn around without even checking to see if we catch.

Saurian Supermarket – Flash Fiction

There’s something strange, on Aisle Five.

Ah geez, I really am supposed to eat before I jump. But I really don’t want anything here.

Honestly, I never did get used to your food. Your too-cold supermarkets and their rows-upon-rows of prepackaged grains. It was like eating dust. Like chewing on stale biscuits that had been flavor-scented.

Like, if it’s got a scent maybe you won’t notice how dry they are?

Yet, you gotta fit in. So I did. I shopped, bought, and ate the same stuff your kind did. To survive.

And that’s all I thought I’d do, survive. That is, until you.

I didn’t expect it. Love. How weird I must’ve been, but you still loved me.

But, standing in front of the frozen meat, trying to decide between boneless chicken and steak, some assholes from my kingdom ruined all that. So here I am. Trying to summarize eons of history, years of hidden parts of me, seconds before I leave.

And I told myself I’d never do any serious relationship on a voicemail. But I know. You’re asleep. Damned nightshift. Gods, I hope the damned signal is strong enough for this to send.

Sorry, I know. I’m rambling. And skirting the point.

I don’t know how to start. How do I tell you that everything about me is a lie? Obviously not the important things, but. Shit. I can’t begin at the beginning. That would take too long. Definitely don’t have time for David Copperfield’s stroll through memories.

Uhm. Well. My kind.

Jeez.

Look, everyone knows about dinosaurs, right? Except, we’re not, exactly? Not the ones your fossil records have. We disappeared, right, but they didn’t, so you have their records. And then we kind of pulled magic out of your realm, so that altered everything here. Just enough to be strange. For me, at least.

And, yeah, I’ve heard the jokes. The conspiracy theories that nobody believes? Lizard people. Ooh, right? Terrifying stuff. Terrifyingly bad, anyway.

Yet. There is some element of truth?

Though, honestly, I thought I was the only one. I didn’t think anyone else would even try to get over here. Until those knuckleheads tackled me in the grocery store. Tore my favorite pair of jeans. You know, the ones you bought? Because they’re a bit snug, you said. Because you like the way they hug my calves.

But, I guess they’d look out of place anyway, over in my realm. We never really got around to the whole pants thing. Which, weird, right? You’d think? Except we evolved differently. I mean, our species were already so different, it’s not really a surprise.

Then we went and split the whole universe. Just, sealed you guys over here without looking back.

It’s a wonder that a lack of pants is one of the biggest differences in how we dress.

We do like a good jacket though.

It’s the cold-blooded thing. I am so glad you like the apartment hot. Oh, but don’t worry, we don’t shut down like our remnants do, in the cold. We evolved specialized heat-distribution organs. Better layers of fat. Everything you’d expect to happen after a few million years.

So, nights when you turned up the air conditioning, I was okay. I mean, after all, I just scooted a little closer to you. You mammals have the hottest bodies. Well, yours especially. Gods, I’m gonna miss you.

Gods. Funny, I’m already reverting. My mind is going a million meters a minute, but here I am going through changes I’ll have to make. To prevent some weird faux paus. Can you imagine. Going back to dino-earth and talking nonsense about dino-christ?

Right. I’m getting off topic again. And, sirens. I think the police are almost here. Not that they could do anything, but when do they let that stop them?

Anyway. So, here’s the deal. I have to go.

I’m from another realm. It’s literally right here, a hair’s width away from your realm. A micron. A proton’s distance from a neutron.

I ran away because they were going to kill me. There’s this whole clan of mages that wanted me dead, and I did sort of kill their sacred eddafae. Uhm, it’s a giant insect thing with potent poisonous secretions that- You know what, doesn’t matter.

I stole their shit, and they tried to kill me. It started a bit of war, and so I escaped to ape-earth. The spell was always theoretical, but also illegal, but I figured that I was already kind of toast as far the law was concerned. Let me tell you, the Eddafanian Society is deep in bed with law enforcement.

Now, I guess they sent people after me. You’ll probably see it on the news, huh? I wouldn’t be surprised. You’re gonna see some crazy video. There are at least six cameras on this aisle. So, they’ll get a good view of the siekel and nafaller that came to pick me up. I’m sure people will freak.

Oh, siekel are like, a moose-sized ape-earth human, except imagine they’re descended from a stegosaurus? And nafaller are tiny pipsqueaks, a meter tall at most, though honestly they can be traced back to the diplodocus so don’t ask me how that worked out. What it really means is that they’re not like me, they can’t pass for human. And they weren’t very good with their totems anyway.

Whatever, it was madness, pure madness. People just cleared out of here. So, I had a little bit of time. Which is why I wanted to record something. Send you something.

Before I leave. I mean.

Shit.

I don’t want to go. I love you, Collin.

It’s so stupid, I mean, not us. But this. This is so stupid.

I have to go though. If I don’t, they’ll send more bounty-hunters over here. I don’t know if they recreated my spell, or if someone else already had it, but now there’s bound to be more. I have to go put up a counter-ward to keep them from breaking through.

I can’t imagine what would happen if one of the arch-wizards comes through. With their blood-purity shit? No way.

Not letting that happen.

But, alright.

I really have to go now.

The portal is collapsing, and the cops are right outside.

I’m serious. I love you Collin.

And uh, I guess, my real name is Eylandris. Landon was close enough, right?

Oh, shit. Don’t shoot! Look! I’m unarmed, I’m unarmed!

Shit. Guess they’ll get video of me disappearing. Bye, Collin. I’ll miss you.

Effassi, coletanna pes!

Flash: Shifting Priorities

Sometimes rain could feel good, could feel right, even during the wildest storms. Yet, that was when everything was at its best. When Jess was at her best. When there weren’t salty tears mixing on her cheek.

She wiped her face with the back of an arm to clear stray hair, rain, and tears. The rain wasn’t just unwelcome, it was a symbol of every obstruction in her life. Every drop was another flash of annoyance and discomfort. She hurried down the sidewalk wishing for an umbrella or an overhang or something to shield her from the deluge.

Cars splashed by with whirring engines and mirrored-in passengers. Overflowing gutters turned streets into rising rivers. Clouds were getting darker, and noon would be darker than dawn.

She glared at her phone as she walked. Her unanswered stream of messages stared back at her.

‘Has Gloria contacted you about my time off?
‘Did you tie up the boat?’
‘Is anyone going to check on the boat before the storm?’
‘Damien? What the hell. Answer your phone!’

She was halfway through a new message, ‘Do you know if-‘ when the phone went dead. The battery had been hanging on, but it finally gave up its battle. “Jesus. Fucking. Christ.” She growled each word while smacking the side of her phone. “One thing, and then everything.”

She stuffed her hands, phone too, in her jacket pockets and hunched against a sudden gust. The winds were picking up as she neared the bay. It probably wasn’t the best of times to head to the marina, but she had no choice. She had signed for the boat before taking time off, and she would be responsible if anything got damaged.

The water was ankle-deep as she jogged through the crosswalk. The cold wet soaked through her shoes and the bottoms of her jeans went soggy. A few cautious cars slid to a stop as she ran in front of their headlights. The AI systems beeped, or flashed warning lights, but she paid them no mind. She was too irritated to wait for permission from the intersection’s bright
green man.

Her feet thumped on the boardwalk as she continued at a slow jog. She slid on the slick wood several times, but managed to steady herself with the railing. A voice in her head urged caution, told her to be safe, but she ignored that too. It sounded too much like Emma to want to listen.

She wished she could kill that voice, wished she could forget its tone and subtle moments of gravel. Jess hated that there was a grieving period. She hated that relationships lingered, even if it had hardly been hours since saying goodbye.

Beneath her, the water sloshed and frothed at the edges of the boardwalk. It was higher than ever, had been rising for years, and it wouldn’t be long before the marina’s locks failed to control that rise.

Or, as they had before, they would drive away more property owners to accept more of the sea’s expansion. Even now, there were shadowy ghosts of buildings from ten years prior. They sat, preserved bits of old lives, right below the waves.

Some still glowed with light, tourist-trap underwater hotels or dive destinations that used to be dive bars. It seemed that the past always lingered after all.

Jess rushed overhead that sunken past, glad of the grip of her sturdy boots. It was hard enough to stay upright in the wet and weariness, even with good shoes. But then she arrived at the marina entrance and pulled on the gate. Its handle didn’t budge.

“Fuck!” Her frustration vented out in the vulgar screech. Locked. She hadn’t been scheduled to work today, hadn’t been at work the whole week past, so she didn’t have the key. “Fuck, fuck, fuck.”

This is exactly what Emma had warned would happen. Emma hadn’t wanted her to leave, even after the fight. She cared, despite everything. Despite everything Jess had done.

The cold steel of the gate seemed to stick to Jess’ fingertips. She shivered. Her clothes were getting more soaked with every moment of hesitation. Looking up, she eyed barbed-wire lining the top of the fence. She wedged a foot in the gap between hinge and post and hiked herself onto the handle.

Worry of getting caught was non-existent. The docks were empty. Marina workers were gone. Security was gone. Everyone else had gone home after the first surge warnings. They were smart, not like her. She clenched her eyes shut as her fingers slipped on the gate’s ironwork. She felt stupid for so many things, and her mistake with the boat was just more proof.

She inched her way up the gate. Her feet, wedged just so, held enough to push her way to the top. Getting over the barbed wire was another problem. She hooked her hands over the top of the gate and glanced at the rows of rusted deterrent. There were three rows of the wire, angled out to prevent climbers like her, but the barbs weren’t perfectly offset.

Trusting her jacket for protection, she reached up and wrapped an arm over a bare patch of the steel wire. Rocking her hips back, she kicked one leg up and swung the lower-half of her body toward the top. Her foot cleared the wire, and then she managed to hook on with her heel.

A pinch of pain buried into her ankle. Her sock, and her jeans, were keeping anything from breaking skin so far, but it still hurt. Cursing everything under her breath, she strained her way to the top of the gate. Her whole body felt like it was shaking at the end, but she managed to claw her way to the other side.

Then Jess scraped her wrist on one of the barbs. She yelped, lost her grip, and tumbled the last way over the gate.

She landed on the slick wooden dock with a thump.

The rain hadn’t paused for a moment in its deluge, and lying in a heap chased away Jess’ last reserves of dry clothing. Her chest heaved as she fought back the panicked adrenaline surge from her fall. Her joints hurt. She’d fallen on her shoulder, and it was terribly sore. Blood trickled from the shallow gash on her wrist. “Fuck,” she grumbled.

Despite the weather, despite the twisted heap she’d landed in, lying there for hours momentarily felt like a viable decision. She considered the idea while closing her eyes. She felt the gradual dampness along her back seep toward being completely soaked.

Someone banged on the gate with a rapid urgency. “Jess!? Jess, is that you!? Are you okay!?”

She rolled onto her back and raised her head with a raised brow. “Ugh?” She blinked several times. “Emma, what?”

Her girlfriend, ex-girlfriend, clenched a fist around one of the gate’s bars. “Oh, thank goodness! Holy shit, Jess, what are you doing out here?”

Jess sat up with a wince. She really hoped she hadn’t dislocated her shoulder. “Uh, trying to secure the boat.”

“Oh for fuck’s sake, really? This whole marina is gonna get washed out to sea!”

“Did you-” Jess guffawed at the absurdity of the moment. “Did you drive all the way down? For that? To scold me about this stupid boat?”

“Really, that’s what you think? Do you-” Emma tried the gate’s handle before shaking it with frustration. “Damnit, would you just open this thing? I’ll help you with the fucking boat.”

Jess bit her lip. “Shit,” she whispered. She pushed herself off the ground. Walking to the gate, she pushed it open with a hiss of pain. Yeah, her shoulder felt wrong. Maybe it was dislocated. “You were that worried about me?”

“Oh, fuck you, Jess.” Emma pulled the gate the rest of the way open and slammed into a hug with Jess. “Fucking hell, fuck you.”

They kissed, but only for a moment, because Jess’ knees started to give. “Shoulder,” she murmured. “Maybe dislocated.” She fought for consciousness. “Ugh, fuck the stupid boat.”

She wasn’t sure if it was the pain, Emma’s presence, or the rain, but maybe she could be okay with some shifting priorities.