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Schroedinger’s Gift

Schroedinger’s Gift

I wrote this is for the Advent Ghosts 2018 at I Saw Lightning Fall. Our challenge was to write short snippets of 100 words.

Once upon a time a troll gave me a gift.

“The day you die, you will open this box,” she said.

I cast it into a nearby stream and watched it float away.

It was waiting for me the next morning in my childhood closet.

I nearly opened it at University the night of my first true heartbreak.

…and after our first real fight (it met the wood-burning stove that night).

…and when I lost my job.

…and when I lost her.

My lonely, arthritic hands tremble as I chuck it into the bin on this cold Christmas morn.

Not today.

Fiction: A Chapter 7

Fiction: A Chapter 7

Note: this is a bit of a story I wrote for a writing contest. I’m posting it here for posterity.

Chapter 7

Johnny pulled the shotgun away from his head and ran to the cabin door, still clutching the weapon in his right hand. In one swift motion he opened the old cabin door, herded Scott inside and locked the door behind.   The two boys stood silently staring at each other, neither one quite sure how to react. Scott felt an urge to punch Johnny in the face, but decided against it when he remembered Johnny was still holding a loaded shotgun.

As the emotion of the past few days became too much for him, Johnny began to sob uncontrollably. “You have to believe me that I didn’t know they were going to kill him,” said Johnny in between tears. “My brother told me he just wanted to embarrass Sam, like he always embarrassed Mike,” said Johnny.  “You know I could never say no to my brother.  He scares me too much.”

Johnny’s brother, Mike, and Sam had been rivals for years.  Both boys competed for the starting quarterback position in high school as well as the affections of the prettiest girl in school.  Sam always seemed to be a little better than Mike, though, and he was the one who led the team to the playoffs senior year and took the Homecoming Queen to the prom.  After high school, Mike’s life took a turn for the worse and Sam always seemed to be there to catch him.

“Why didn’t you tell me Johnny?” said Scott, still struggling with the idea of his best friend being an accomplice in his brother’s murder.  “You were my best friend.”

“I would’ve told you, but I didn’t know what to say,” said Johnny as he stared at the faded wooden floor of the cabin. “I don’t know what went wrong.  Mike must have been using me as a diversion to keep Sam off his tail while they killed that guy Sam found in the woods.”

Scott was not entirely sure he could trust Johnny’s story and doubted he could ever forgive him for what happened to his brother.  However, he also knew he could not make it out of the woods alive without Johnny’s help. Whether he liked it or not, his fate was now tied to Johnny’s fate.  Scott knew he had to make it out of the woods alive. Otherwise his brother’s murder would go unpunished.

“We need to get out here as fast as we can and tell the police what happened,” said Scott.  “Sooner or later your brother is going to come back here and they’re probably going to kill me.  Do you think you can hot wire the truck?”

“I’m sure I could, but why would I need to do that?” answered Johnny, grinning as he pulled the keys of the truck out of his pants pocket.

“Here’s what we’ll do then,” said Scott. “Let’s make a run for the truck and drive as fast as we can away from here.”

“That will never work,” said Johnny. “Mike and Bill can’t be that far away.  They could be in the truck right now waiting for you.  I’ll stay behind and distract them while you drive away. They’ll trust me.”

“But they’ll kill you,” said Scott.

“If one of us doesn’t distract them, they’ll kill us both,” said Johnny. “At least I have a chance with my brother.”

“Let’s do it then,” said Scott as he extended his right hand toward Johnny.  Both boys shook hands, not knowing if they would ever see each other again.

Johnny and Scott ran out of the cabin in opposite directions, Scott toward the truck and Johnny far away from it.

As Scott sped west down the trail, dust clouds following behind, he heard a loud shotgun blast.  A tear ran down Scott’s cheek as he realized he would never see his friend Johnny again.

Fiction: To Be The Man

Fiction: To Be The Man

To Be The Man



“Are you really going to eat that?”

“This? Yeah, that was my plan. Why?”

“I don’t know. It’s just a little *whistles*”

“Are you saying my breakfast choice is gay?”

“A little, yeah.”

“It’s a croissant.”

“I KNOW. And don’t say it like that. There’s a ‘t’ in there at the end. Pronounce it like an American.”

“I just never knew a pastry could have a sexual orientation.”

“Well, it does. And yours is playing for the wrong team.”

“Have you ever tried one? Put a little butter on there and you’re good to go. They go excellent with tea.”

“Dude you’re embarrassing me. Do you have to hold out your pinkie like that? There’s some hot waitresses here.”

“I hadn’t noticed.”

“Well there are. People are gonna think we’re a couple or something. You can sabotage it for yourself, but don’t ruin it for me too.”

“Don’t you think about anything other than picking up women?  Anyway, what’s so manly about that monstrosity you ordered?”

“Are you kidding me? Death by Omelet? You got five eggs, half a pound of bacon, three cups of cheddar cheese, ham, onion, and whatever else they could find. Fried! Better than that, if you finish it in an hour you get half off your next meal.”

“That’s not breakfast, that’s a cry for help.”

“And it only cost me six bucks. I won’t have to eat the rest of the day.”

“That’s because you’ll be dead, big man.”

“Whatever. Dude, put that pinky finger down and check this chick out. I think she’s headed our way.”

“Hey.  I was sitting over there and couldn’t help but notice we ordered the exact same thing. Don’t they have the best croissants here? Flaky, but not too dry. I love how they practically melt in my mouth.”

“Um, yeah.  Goes well with a nice cup of tea too.”

“Totally. Have you seen some of the other stuff on the menu, though? I’d hate to see the person who would order that omelet thing. Disgusting.”


“ Oh. Sorry.”

“Don’t mind him. He’s under the impression that women are only impressed by men that eat large quantities animal products.”

“Yeah, not so much. Hey, do you come here often? Crap, that sounded lame. I just thought maybe we could hang out sometime. I mean, they have that two for one deal on Tuesdays.”

“That sounds nice.”

“Great.  Here’s my cell number.”


“Well, I gotta go. My gymnastics coach will kill me if I’m late for practice. Have to get my stretching in. You know how bad traffic is on campus.”

“Yeah, it sure is…terrible. Nice meeting you.”

“Nice meeting you too. Don’t forget to call me. Oh, and you might want to check on your friend. He doesn’t look so well. Too many eggs maybe?”

“I’m sure he’ll be fine in a day or two. Once all the grease makes its way through his system.”

“Dude, do not look at me like that. I swear I’ll punch that smirk right off your face.”

“I wouldn’t do that. You better conserve your energy if you plan on eating that whole thing.”

“You know what? She probably gave you a fake phone number. She wasn’t that hot, either.”

“I think I’ll take my chances. Hey, why don’t you let me get you a croissant? Looks like you could use a little more to eat.”

“Ugh. I think I’m gonna be sick.”

Story Fragment from 2011

Story Fragment from 2011

This is a fragment of a story I submitted as part of a writing contest for a local newspaper. It didn’t get selected, but I enjoyed writing.

“…I’m gonna have to go into the office,” said Brad.

“But Daddy, what about ice skating?” said Clara, herself now on the verge of tears.

“Maybe Grandma can take you?” answered Brad. “I’m sorry but I really have to go in to work.”

“But she can’t skate backwards like you can Daddy,” said Clara.

“I think Grandma will do a fine job,” said Brad. He knew it wasn’t really about skating, just like it wasn’t really about him going to work during the week. Ever since her mother went to Afghanistan, he couldn’t leave the house without Clara putting up a fight. He just could not convince her that he would not be going away like mommy had.

“It will be fun, sweetheart,” said Martha, putting her arm around Clara. “We can even stop at the Creamery afterward.”

“Okay,” said Clara with a sniffle.

After a swift goodbye, Brad was out the door and into his car. He turned onto Stony Batter and then onto Axemann Road, the Logan Branch his only companion on his way to Pleasant Gap.  He couldn’t believe he had to go to work on yet another Saturday, and yet he knew he shouldn’t be surprised.  The company’s web server was being held together using his digital equivalent of spit and duct tape. It needed replaced.

Brad knew that wouldn’t happen any time soon, though.  The company had recently instated in the office such cost cutting measures such as the “bring your own roll” program in the restrooms.  If they lacked the funds for toilet paper it was doubtful they were going to spring for a new server. With the company’s growing online sales, however, the bean counters would eventually have to do something. He hoped that didn’t mean outsourcing IT.

Brad jiggled the cord on his satellite radio receiver. It too had outlived its lifespan and needed replaced, and just like his company he lacked the funds to do so. Brad looked up just in time to see her, standing in the middle of the road.  He applied his brakes hard, turning the wheel slightly toward the side of the road, forcing himself against the wheel. Had he looked up one second later, he would not have been able to stop in time.

After taking a moment to compose himself, Brad switched on his 4-way flashers and exited his car. “Are you okay?” he said, baffled why somebody would be standing in the middle of the road.  The girl, well now that he got a closer look, woman, still did not look up from the pavement.

He had expected someone younger, perhaps with ear buds dangling from their ears, oblivious to the outside world, as the youth so often seemed.  Instead he found a woman about his age, clearly disheveled from living, at least recently, a hard life. He couldn’t help notice, however, that she had a strikingly pretty face, and eyes that seemed oddly familiar.

“Let’s walk over here,” he said, ever so lightly nudging her to the side of the road, taking care not to scare her even further into harm’s way. To his relief she complied.

He had never picked up a hitchhiker before but couldn’t just leave her there on the side of the road. She would surely wander into traffic again, and who knows if the next driver would notice in time.  She would have to come with him. “Are you hungry?” he asked.

Without raising her head, the woman nodded.

“Okay, good,” said Brad. “There’s a little diner just up the road. If you get in the car, I can take you there.”

The woman didn’t answer, but started for the car.  It was good enough for him.

Brad attempted to introduce himself to her as they drove past his office on their way to the restaurant, but she did not answer. Midway through the drive, he rolled down his window ever so slightly and discreetly. She had clearly not showered in some time.

As Brad pulled into the parking lot of the diner, he wasn’t sure what his next move would be and he struggled to remember where he had seen those eyes before.

Gnash Liven – A Character That Never Got a Story (yet?)

Gnash Liven – A Character That Never Got a Story (yet?)

A while back, Author Chuck Wendig  posted a flash fiction challenge to create a character in 250 words or less. This one was mine.

Gnash Liven had a molten and unrelenting hatred in her heart, a wooden spike strapped to her thigh, and a scar, about a quarter-centimeter thick, tracing from the tear duct of her left eye to just below her earlobe. And, occasionally, Jim Nightblade’s balls in her hand.

Gnash also had case of lager in the fridge (those college boys can shove that hoppy bullshit straight up their collective asses), and her legs propped on her desk. Her rage burned on.

It’s a good day to die, she thought, polishing the blade of her silver long-sword. It was a Tuesday after all, and Tuesdays are bullshit, lacking the stones to go full-on Monday and too damned far away from Friday. Nobody hates Tuesday and that’s a problem because it’s just as awful as the rest.

What she didn’t have is one of those sparkly undead bastards at the end of her blade or impaled on her spike. And that was a problem. That was everyone’s problem. That was humanity’s problem.