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Category: Fiction (page 4 of 6)

18 – The Girl on the Subway

A Mexican girl on the subway flitted through inexpertly taken photos of herself on her little red camera as she stood in front of a taxi cab in her ill-fitting black dress, her features erased by overpowering flash.  A child stared out the window as the train passed over the bridge, the city glowing indistinctly in the distance, hazy, uncertain.  A sleeping man’s head bobbed as the train shook but failed to wake him.  Something was eating away at my stomach, a memory trying to push its way through, a half forgotten shame that I felt but did not recall, and my mouth tasted like cigarettes and wine.  

The descending major third told me that it was time to get off the train out into the night sky sickly orange with failing street lights.  I told a man I did not have any money for him.  A dog barked in the distance.  I felt my pockets to make sure I had my wallet, my phone, my keys.  I checked my phone for messages, but there were none.  I realized I was hungry but there was no money in my wallet and no food at home.  My hands ached.  One eye was blurry and I thought I should clean my lenses in boston rewetting drops when I got home.  Couples were sitting at tables in front of a restaurant chatting merrily, eating, loving each other, a rise in their cheeks a prelude.  One woman made eye contact with me and quickly turned away.  I told her I was sorry.  She didn’t reply. Read more

17 – Goodbye, Arturo

Is it wrong to feel so little when so many people are mourning?  If it had been me, would these people be feeling the same things?  Would it be fewer people balling their eyes out?  More?  None at all?  If the tables were turned, as they say, and I was the one laying in the casket, grisly, grey, dead, would anyone care at all?  Would they be glad to have Arturo back?  I suppose they would never have known if I was the one up there and he was sitting here, but would they trade me for him?  Many of them seem like they would give anything, anything at all, to have their precious, handsome, gifted, kind, loving, wonderful Arturo back.  Well, he’s not coming back, guys, so get used to it. Read more

16 – This Is A Process

Look.

This is a process.

I know that.  I understand that.  This is all about letting go, about learning about myself.  

I’ve lived for a long time in not exactly the healthiest manner, but everyone makes mistakes, right?  I mean, you’ve made mistakes before, right?  Don’t answer.  Everyone has.  It’s really ok.  This is about me, not you.  Well, it’s about you, but to a lesser extent.  You’re incidental.  I’m the main character here.  Don’t worry.  Everyone has to have supporting roles once in a while.

God damn, this feels really good.  No, no.  This feels great.  Talking about this after so long, after so much deception is like taking your jacket off when you get home on one of those autumn days that is much too warm for a jacket but you’ve worn it all day and you’re sweaty but your hands are full and you can just hold the damn thing right now and you’re suffocating because you didn’t check the weather before leaving the house.  Or, you know, like lifting a weight, but that’s boring.

Have you ever had a moment when you felt quite as alive as I feel right now? Read more

15 – Dust Settled

Dust settled on my jacket while I waited for the Mexicans in the rocks on either side of the pass to put away their rifles.  They thought I couldn’t see them, and I couldn’t.  That didn’t stop me from knowing they were there, rifles trained on me, sweat on their brows, finger twitching with fear on the trigger, one false move away from oblivion.  My horse swayed and stepped uneasily beneath me.  He sensed that something was wrong, but how could I convince him that 6 untrained Mexican farm boys hiding in the rocks with second-hand rifles pointed at me were no match?  He would just have to wait until the smoke cleared.  Or the paunchy middle aged man who seemed to be their leader came to his senses and called off his boys.  I didn’t mind spilling some blood that day, but it would slow me down and I needed to be on my way.  Someone was expecting me, and she wouldn’t take kindly to being made to wait.  Men had died for less.

My hands held the reins, my rifle strapped to the side of the horse, my pistols in their belt.  None of them were loaded.  No need to carry the extra weight. Read more

13 – Trapped In Space

847 days.  

847 fucking days.  

847 fucking days alone on this fucking spaceship with no one to talk to except the fucking computer.  With nothing to do and the rest of the crew in stasis, Shinji swayed wildly between mania and depression.  Most of the tasks that a mere human could perform on this motherfucking fancy boat flying through fucking space going God knows where were automated so that the scientists aboard could spend their valuable time performing research and testing shit and jacking it to net porn.  Fucking fuckers.  But, at this seemingly interminable part of the voyage into what the fucking politicians called “the great unknown”.  Bullshit.  We knew what was out there: fucking stars and dark matter and planets and giant gas clouds and about 100 gazillion other things that would kill you if you so much as got slightly too close.  Those assholes and their fucking ties and perfect teeth and lying.  Shinji never had understood what draws a man or woman to public office.  They all seemed like patently false charlatans to him.  But that was nothing worth worrying about since 847 days ago they had stuck him and 12 other of the finest minds of their human generation into this glorified metal tube and shot them deep into space to “broaden the scope of human knowledge of the deepest reaches of our universe”.  In other, less stupid words, they were picking up space rocks and space dust. Read more

12 – Mr. Spider

We were driving down a dusty country road when I noticed that a spider had made a web inside the car.  It had to have happened sometime during the night, for what spider in its right mind would climb inside a car to build a web during the daytime?  None I’d ever met.  

But I was worried about this little spider.  I didn’t want him to get hurt as we drove along.  We badly needed food for our little house in the woods.  I’m sure the spider was thinking the same thing when he climbed inside the car.  I wasn’t going to punish him for trying to get a bite to eat.  There certainly were plenty of flies around for an enterprising spider like him to catch and feast upon.  One less fly in the world wouldn’t bother me.  

I was also afraid that my friend, no friend of spiders indeed, would kill the little guy so I gently cupped him in my hands and said, “Mr. Spider, I know you’re afraid, but I’m not going to hurt you.  You just have to be still for a little while.” Read more

11 – The Death Ray

With a faint hum and static crack like the breaking of a mechanical bone, the alien death ray shot a blue colored beam across the field, narrowly missing his brother Ellis and setting a tree alight.  Phil didn’t intend to miss the next shot.  

“Phil, what’re you doin’?!  Y’damn near hit me!” Ellis yelled.  

“Yup,” Phil said.

“You put that thing down now, you hear!  It ain’t safe!”

“No, I guess it ain’t,” he replied and lined his brother up in the sights along the barrel of the strange weapon they’d found in the crater up on the mountain while checking their grouse traps.  Ellis hadn’t wanted to touch it, but Phil knew better.  He recognized it immediately from the pulp novels he read in secret when mama was in town.  She didn’t like him reading them, said they were the Devil’s work, so he had to be pretty sneaky about it. Read more

10 – Headache? What headache?

Finally.  Her head felt so much better now she could hardly believe it.  Standing there, amidst the corpses of fifty or so slaughtered bandits, mages, and rogues, she felt the curtain of discomfort lift from behind her eyes and the world come in to sharp focus.  Perhaps it was just her berserker rage dissipating, but she really felt clear headed.  Of course, who wouldn’t feel clear headed drenched in blood, axe still humming from cleaving through the spines of her enemies?  No one she knew, that’s for certain.  None of the witch’s poultices or concoctions or potions had the same affect.  She didn’t know a single thing in all the multiverse that she found more relaxing than the wholesale murder of bad guys.  And, sometimes, good guys.  Depends on who’s paying.  Mostly bad guys though.  She didn’t always feel good about storming into a monastery and killing a bunch of priests or monks or whatever, unless they were those monks that could fight.  She had to admit that she did enjoy that.  Taking the head off a man who is trying to fight you with his bare hands and crazy dancing with an axe was just too wonderful. Read more