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King for a Day

Like an animal, the adolescent boy was destined to be slaughtered, and like an animal, his blood and flesh sacrifice was a gesture to please the eternal forces that sustained his people. The hungry gods that accepted the gift of young carved flesh would be satiated for the time being, and in turn, would protect the kingdom until it came time again to offer up more sustenance.
To make their gift special, the boy whose blood was to pay for prosperity was anointed king for a day.
Ceremonies, feasts, and gifts made for a spectacular climax to a relatively short life. The dizzying experience and sense of duty were opiates that dulled the boy’s suppressed dread of the main event.
By nightfall, the boy was laying on an altar, stripped of the kingly robes and ceremonial ornaments of power. The real king had returned to take it all back. The boy’s tear filed eyes were staring up at the point of a dagger clutched in the hands of a high priest.
This last moment was the longest of his life.  The …

The Living Dead

As we advance in years, we find time has made some people superfluous to us or has made us unnecessary to other people. To us, as to them, we become for all intents and purposes the living dead. There is a particular frustration character to grieving our living breathing losses. They are present but forever absent. It is a state that is not so final but quite as devoid of any hope.
In the past, it seemed these souls were destined to accompany us through life, but then gradually or somehow without warning, they’re lost to us forever. Their memory becomes an abstract figment of dreams.
The living dead. They are our friends, our family, our lovers, physically they still exist but are always separated by the unbridgable and ever yawning gape of time.

Black Hole

"What's inside the black hole?" The seven-year-old Grace asked the rest of the breakfast table before taking a sip orange juice.
The adults at the table were caught off guard by the question. Eric, Grace's father, froze up as he was about to take a bit of his avocado toast. The slice of bread lingered in his hand before his gaping mouth. His eyes shifted to the big casement windows that peered into the sky above lake Michigan. It was as if he'd forgotten, but there it was the roaming portal to oblivion hanging in the sky just beside the sun. The irresistible force of this fissure in the fabric of existence was devouring earth's life-giving star, slowly draining it from the sky into its eternal gullet.
"Well, no one knows for sure," Grace's mother Meridith interjected.
"My teacher says it's going to suck up the whole world," Grace said with a dramatic gesture of her hands.
"I was an engineer at a start-up that was trying to des…

A Girl can Dream

Sophie lay in bed, staring up at the ceiling of her cell. Her vacant eyes seldom blinking. She silently counted the number of new webs the spiders wove over the night. The morning sunlight pouring through the solitary window cut into the stone wall cast the gently swaying silhouette of a corpse over Sophie's bed.
The body was left hanging from a tree just outside the window by Sophie's brother, the sovereign. He left it close enough for her to reach out and touch. It dangled in the pine needles like a Christmas ornament its state of decay, another reminder to Sophie of how long she'd been confined to the convent.
With clockwork precision, Sophie's attendant Maria started pushing open the heavy wooden door to Sophie's room. The elderly Maria moved slowly but with a preserved poise of grace.
"Good morning, archduchess," she greeted Sophie.
Sophie blinked in response.
Sophie stood limp and motionless while Maria undid the ties on her nightgown. Dressing the …

Gentrify

It had been three days since the nine-year-old James had fallen with fever. By the end of the first day, the boy's family was resigning themselves to the inevitable but oft-repeated tragedy of losing a child.
The sick child was being tended to by his mother and two older sisters. His mother's care was comforting if detached. She soothed the boy's fever, baked flesh with cold water and the soothing touch of her hand, and did so without a word. Even when Jame's would call for her. His glazed-over eyes now too distant to see her there. She didn't answer. Her sole responsibility to James at this point was to try and mitigate the physical agony of death.
James was too weak to stand, and he couldn't move much. Still, his burning body was frequently ravaged by tremors that resembled grand-mal seizures often accompanied by vague and mystifying rambles. For some of Jame's, more lived family members recognized the terrified disordered speech of the dying.
It is prob…