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The Morning Sun Revealed the Horror

The morning sun revealed the horror.
The soft yellow glow reached across the battlefield, everything it touched, every shredded body, every disembodied corpse, every smear of blood that was once a human being spasmed with a new vibrancy.
The stench of decay is an enticing aroma to some. Flocks of squawking birds and buzzing clouds of bloated flies swarmed the killing fields in a gluttonous frenzy.
There were too many for every man to get his own hole in the dirt. A heard of rumbling bulldozers shoveled the human remains into a pit. They could hear men whimpering underneath the growing mound of bodies, but they were buried far too deep in the putridity.
The men who dug the ditch where their brothers, comrades, and friends would be spending eternity could see the bugs writhing in the blood-soaked dirt ready to devour their blessed bounty of flesh.
The corpse-filled fissure was covered over with dirt, and the decomposing men became the fertilizer out of which a field of grass and crucifi…

Pretender

The plane started its sharp descent the over-eager prince imperial stared out through the small window and watched the moving masses of green and brown sharpen into distinct geographical features. The green stretches became fields and hills and the dirt colored patches outlined into well-defined plots of farmland. After more than thirty years Prince Alexander was not only reclaiming a lost throne he was returning home.
“Beautiful isn’t she?
Alexander turned his gaze. The elderly Colonel Fritz Hohellensburg was looking at the prince imperial the old man’s darkened eyes gleamed with tears, that spilled onto his wrinkled cheeks.
“I am eternally grateful I’ll get to see her one more time.’ Hohellensburg pinned.
The Colonel’s emotional display made Alexander regain a more formal composure.
“Should God see fit to make me Emperor today it would only be because he owes you a favor,” Alexander smiled warmly.
Alexander Brattenwolff was the only son of Ferdinand Brattenwolff who himself had been…

Carrion (My Wayward Son)

The bits of necrotic flesh shedding from the carcasses of great beasts flutters in the cold, sunless depths of the sea like flakes of snow. An array of lights float through the darkness like stars in a midnight sky devouring every bit of the precipitating flesh they possibly can.
The mammoth bones sink to the bottom to settle into a quiet eternity on the ocean floor, their skeletons become a refuge for the creatures hiding from the roaming lights before time and pressure inevitably grind the mighty structures down into minute particles consumed by the Earth itself. In the opaque water just like in the void of space there are no horizons.
The creatures down below that sustain themselves on what comes from above will never cross any barrier between the two realms that are traversed only by the dead. The carrion that sustains life is merely a mysterious gift from the unknown.

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Beneficiaries

Alan McCabe was born into the funeral business. His grandfather was the founder of Serene Pastures funeral home. The old man left the care of his legacy to his son, Martin. The twenty-seven years Martin ran Serene Pastures were steady, and upon his death, he passed the family business onto his son Allan.

Martin saw to it Alan was well versed in the trade. He taught his son and protege to be a capable mortician and businessman. His dutiful wife Elizabeth was a dependable and competent administrator between the two of them they were able to run a tight ship. Unfortunately, circumstances didn’t always remain so favorable.

Death is a steady business to be sure but the area Serene Pastures serviced became less and less lucrative over the years. The elderly died debt-ladened and abandoned by their kin in local morgues. No one had money to spring for grandma and grandpas memorial services. Heroin overdoses kept a trickle of business flowing, but these were more often than not very modest aff…

The Luddites

It was a typical Midwestern fall day. The dower grey sky had dimmed into a cloudy starless night illuminated only by the swelling stream of headlights from rush hour traffic. Ryan was standing on a street corner watching the oncoming cars hoping the next pair of lights might be his ride.
A low and gentle breeze stirred the dry leaves and styrofoam cups covering the sidewalk. Ryan clenched his cold fists in the pockets of his coat and lowered his head presaging the icy gust of air that followed.
“C’mon, C'mon,” he muttered.
He saw a black Prius break away from the current of commuters and slowly approached the curb.
“Finally.”
He acknowledged the driver with a wave and the car came to a stop. Ryan slid in the back seat and greeted the driver.
“Hey, how are ya?” He asked.
“Good,” she replied. “And you?”
“Fine fine,” Ryan said.
The driver looked at the GPS receiver mounted on the windshield.
“So let’s see we’re going to 4453 south whatever,” her voice trailed as she finished reading …

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…

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

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

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

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

(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 …