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Call it what you will

The twenty-four day old Olivia Bennet made her family debut at her grandmother’s funeral. Nothing unites people like a common enemy and death certainly is the one thing we all have in common.  There were three generations of people milling around the cold corpse of a woman many of them never met more than once or in Olivia’s case not at all.

Olivia’s mother, the bereaved and beloved daughter of the deceased, Charlotte Bennet stood by her mother’s casket, cradling her newborn while accepting condolences. Her husband stood stiffly by her side, his eyes cast down, and his hands folded in front of him but still looking a bit unsure of how sad he should appear to me.

“That’s just the proper amount of mourning,” she assured her confused husband.

“She’ll always live on in our memories,” was a recurring sentiment. Charlotte wanted to ask them “Her own granddaughter will never even meet her, whose memories is she going to live on in?”

Charlotte decided against having that outburst as cathartic…

Never Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth

Karnot propped up his tired old body with his cane and quietly watched as a group of parents showed their children how to dig a small irrigation ditch. On most days a sight such as that would be enough to move the otherwise stalwart man to tears.  The 66-year-old Karnot had lost his only child, and now it was far too late for him to have another. For a man in his twilight years, it was a very lonely apocalypse. It would all die with him. But this time watching the process of one generation passing on knowledge to the next quelled his sadness. The old pioneer may not have carried his genes into the cosmos, but he could be sure he was leaving a hard fought for legacy. The survival of any species is never more than a numbers game. Life, especially in it’s more complex forms is exceedingly fragile. Matter will only take on consciousness for the briefest of periods before entropy tears the physical form apart and scatters the pieces into oblivion. Make as many copies as you can as quickly a…

Yahweh

It was a serenely quiet morning. Adam sat at the marble kitchen island, charging his phone, and occasionally glancing at the morning’s paper. The autumn sun poured through the glass patio doors into the toy-filled living room. The pool of light illuminated most of the downstairs area, so there was no reason to turn on any of the electric fixtures.
Adam picked up a mug of hot coffee, he held it just below his chin and let the aromatic steam gently rise to his nose. He took a sip. When he put the ceramic mug back on the counter that was the loudest noise anywhere in the house. Adam savored the silence.
The paper was more engaging than usual. Adam couldn’t remember the last time he was able to read through a full article without any interruptions. Adam was a man keen on making the most of these sporadic times of almost meditative stillness. Career and family made them quite rare.
He was nearing the end of the sports section when the doorbell rang. Adam was reluctant to stand up, but then…

Jack the Corgi

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In the predawn hours, when the soft light of the rising morning sun defuses through the sky coloring the inky black of night with diluted hues of orange and purple a procession of four police cars and a black Rolls Royce were speeding through a lamp-lit street of London.
The convoy stopped in front of a modest row house. The police units quickly sprang from their cars and formed a perimeter around the house.
The driver of the Rolls-Royce stepped out of the car to open the door for his esteemed passenger. A long and slender figured in a pinstriped suit emerged from the back. He adjusted his wire-frame glasses and tie as he walked into the house.
“Inspector Claremont,” a burly man with thinning red hair and a bushy mustache greeted the lanky sophisticate with an outstretched hand.
“Andrew Melbourne,”
“I take it you’re the one from the palace then?” The barrel-chested officer said.
“Yes, that would be me. Now, where is Jack?”
Claremont’s face took on a grim composure, and he silently po…

The Hotel Ascendancy

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Max didn’t remember stumbling into his room or falling face first across his bed. He was at a party, he blinked, and suddenly it was morning. His parched tongue was like a sponge that had absorbed and retained all the vile flavors of the festivities. His brain felt like it pulsing against the inside of his skull, and he clenched his eyes shut to try and alleviate the pain.
Rays of split across the blinds covering the balcony door. The sounds of mingling voices and splashing water drifted up from the courtyard pool. Max reached for the phone on the nightstand and dialed the front desk.
A soft-spoken woman immediately answered. “Asdenecy front desk, this is Jane how can I help you?”
“Hi, this is room 520. Could you have them send up my Suboxone please?” Max mumbled.
“Absolutely, I’ll notify the pharmacy right away!” Jane said dutifully.
It was another day in paradise, but for Max, it was his last day.
In the official pamphlet, the Ascendency described itself as a “wellness resort.” The…

Heroes

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Weeks had been spent converting the vast space inside an industrial warehouse into a carefully reconstructed microcosm of the battlefield. The floor was layered with soil and pockmarked with meticulously hand dug craters.  The entire back wall was painted with a mural of parallel barbed wire wrapped trenches that stretched off into the horizon and disappeared into the darkness spreading under a descending sun.
Soma, a dreamy teenage soldier on this mock battlefield, watched with quiet resignation as stagehands dressed as soldiers scattered themselves in the in front of an unloaded machine gun. The other three men in Soma’s make-believe unit were all about the same age, but more importantly, they were the same height and had similar physiques. They hadn’t seen any action, but few others in the whole of the imperial army wore the uniform so well.
Soma’s country had been at war for the last three years. His brother died as a hero defending the frontiers of their ancestral home. Soma spe…

Legs

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(The sketch was done by Tabitha Rose. You can check out her work here)

The icy corridors of Chicago had been thawed out by the warm air of spring. As the cold receded and the clouds heavy with snow dissipated allowing the rays of the sun to illuminate the streets life began to reemerge out from under winter's heavy hand. Chicago is a hive of concrete and steel. It is an ecosystem carved out by the people who run through its concrete channels like a river. The arrival of spring as it does for many animals awakes that one powerful instinct that is second only to self-preservation, the overwhelming desire for procreation. The people arranged their appearances much the same way a peacock arranges its display of feathers and headed for their urban watering holes. Matt Summers was walking down Clark Street in Wrigleyville, perhaps the city's busiest mating grounds. He was walking against the human stampede fueled by alcohol and hormones. He observed the gel…

Sink-hole

The Imperial city was a sprawling metropolis that had been spreading out as steadily as cancer. The creeping growth paved the landscape with eviscerated human remains.  The concrete was a composite mashed from a million bodies. Proud towers were built with the bones,  that were carefully sanded and polished until they shined like ivory.
The hordes converged on the helpless capital. The banners of the armies were united under a single flag, a fluttering tribute to death. The city’s defenses were levies against the flood. It was only a matter of time before they spilled over the top in a torrent of blood.
Desperate people tried to escape with their families, but the noose was already too tight. The black-clad death squads descended on the fleeing women and children like a ravenous swarm. Bleating like lambs they were enveloped and when the black mass dispersed there was nothing left but heaps of flesh.
Just when annihilation seemed imminent, the marauders vanished. The citizens were ela…

We're The Chrononeers!

"sometimes it seems like life is just a far too intricately conceived web of indignities and mutually reinforcing torments for some kind of intelligent designer not to be involved." 
-Doctor Johannes Vortenburger

Man had finally freed itself from the clutches of the once immutable force of time, sort of. The development of time travel was much like space exploration had been conducted by baby steps.

Still being selected as a time traveler, or a chrononeers as they liked to be called was indeed an exceptional honor and David’s parents never tired of talking about their son the time traveler. He had always gotten such good grades!

David had undergone the rigors of time travel training and was finally ready for his first expedition into the future. Precisely one year one day and 7 hours into the future. Destroying the very fabric of existence was a risk inherent in time travel. Some questioned taking such a reckless gamble for the sake of intellectual curiosity, but the machine …

Movie Night

Author's note:  "The Death of Stalin," I've been depicted Stalin's infamous movie nights with his inner circle. I haven't seen the film, but as you've probably guessed the similarities are not coincidental.
I read Khrushchev's memoirs and he goes into great detail about these gatherings, and I always found his accounts of Stalin's mean girl antics amusing in a macabre sort of way. Since writing, historical fiction would have required me to go look up relevant names and dates, and I figured it would be more fun just to write a very loosely based depiction that I hope you enjoyed.

Bojanko lit a cigarette and sunk his head into the collar of his long winter coat.  He was the only one standing on the windswept street. A cruel and persistent winter left the city feeling as desolate and empty as the starless night. Bojanko held the smoke in his lungs until he could feel his head begin to lighten. He puffed a small cloud of smoke and a plume of freezing …
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I'd like to express my most heartfelt gratitude to Zimbell House Publishing for including my piece, "Eternity's Waiting Room" in their latest anthology "I'm Dead?" We're all going to die someday. Yes, that includes you, and you'll be dead a very long time, forever goes the thinking. "I'm Dead?" explores this grim reality through a series of short stories that will make you laugh, cringe, and think about that fast approaching inevitability. Get your copy today!

Acceptance

Todd turned off the car, unclicked his seatbelt, and stared out through the windshield. The only sounds were raindrops tapping on the hood and his restless leg bumping against the steering wheel. He reached for his phone charging on the dashboard.
“It’s too late to back out now,” he muttered to himself. He dialed a number and held the phone up to his ear. The call to a slightly longer than usual to connect and the first ring startled Todd.
“Todd is that you? Where are you?” A breathless female voice answered.
Todd was silent for a moment.
“Todd please..please just tell me where he s,” she sobbed.
“Meet me at Queen of angels cemetery in 20 minutes. Come alone, or I’ll kill him,” Todd said calmly.
“Todd, please don’t hurt him,” she begged.
“Just meet me at the cemetery,” Todd repeated.
“Where?” she asked.
“You know where,” Todd replied flatly.
“Please Todd just give him back to me I wo-”
Todd ended the call and dropped his phone on the floor.
He took a tissue from his jacket and dabbed …