Tag Archives: Short Story Collections

Short Story: Aquarium

This experimental short has been rejected by a few different magazines at this point, so I’m going to go ahead and post it here.

“Why? Why do you let us go on doing such horrible atrocities to each other?! We commit genocide! We destroy the most precious of creations! The very God you serve gave us this planet and now you mean to tell me you sit and watch, and enjoy, with pleasure as we rip it apart?” The human thrashed against a darkness as it spoke.

The angelic creature paused, swirling a glass of white wine as it materialized out of the infinite. This thing projected fabrication; created for demonstrative purposes only. “I know this may be difficult for you to understand, but we are not your caretakers. Your view of “God” is all wrong. It’s from the bottom up. There are no guardian angels watching over you, for any purpose, and as far as you should be concerned, I serve no one.”

Alone in a void in the presence of an ethereal being, the human failed to notice whether or not this projection of himself included the rhythmic rising and falling of his chest.

“Your world is like one of a series of fish tanks, but this one I like best.” It walked along a sudden wall of aquariums illuminating the vibrant fish in the darkened room. “What makes humans special is that no matter how vile, how sinister, how awful, how petty any of you are, you are trying what you genuinely think is best because human lives are precious. Each moment is meaningful.”

The angel paused, its finger caressing the glass of one tank, watching the fluorescent yellow and Prussian blue fish trail their brief connection. It detached from the aquarium, returning its attention to the human and stepping away from the dissolving wall. “Immortal beings lack that.” Taking a seat at a cafe table, the creature invited the recoiling human to sit. “When humans destroy this world, we will create another. It is “old hat” as you say – a trick we have seen a million times before.”

The human gawked, but received rolled eyes from the unamused creature. “And we will see it a million times more.” In a long slow sip, its eyes flared across the table. The angel’s face relaxed, an eyebrow raised then the shoulders, before it replaced the wine glass on the table and rocked itself up from its chair, addressing the pantomiming human. “We’re waiting to be proven wrong though.”

“So what about Jesus, and Muhammad, and God… and… and the Saints?” The human reached an arm out to stop the angel as it began to saunter away.

The angel paused.

“What of heaven?” The human and angel’s eyes connected for the first time revealing piercing eyes of not one color, but a sea of ever morphing reflections of all colors known and unknown.

“What of them?” Those eyes relaxed as the human watched the most joyous and horrible of moments of his life laid out before him in blinding light and contrasting piercing darkness.

The human choked and knelt to the floor, reaching for his throat and crown as a once unencumbered mind drowned. “Believe whatever you wish. What matters is what you do with that belief.” As the angel turned around it added with a smirk, “And as for heaven, that is the mystery even I am not allowed to reveal.”

That Cheshire smile evaporated and the human’s memory grasped at the descending details of the encounter, but his attempts were for nothing. Instead he was left holding only empty palms facing upward.


Thank you so much for taking the time to read this short story today! If you enjoyed this story, didn’t enjoy this story, think I should expand it, or have any additional thoughts I would love to hear them! As always, liking, commenting, or sharing is the best way to let me know which posts my readers enjoy the most.

Stuck In Traffic: A Short Story

Content Warning: This story discusses human trafficking and pedophilia. Reader discretion is advised.

Photo by Tim Tebow Foundation on Unsplash

Post Street–
Chinese New Year Parade –
The traffic devours the patience of every San Francisco driver. A choir of horns blasts the pedestrians from the sidewalks as the barricades teeter in place.

An hour and a half after the cab ride began, fire crackers still echo off the buildings while drivers grapple for every opening in the sea of exhaust fumes, foot traffic, and non-motor vehicles. The Little Darling’s Peep Show’s lights blink in contrast to the gated and locked businesses wrapping themselves up against the cool Pacific air.

“I’ll get out here.” The suit commands, opening the door into screaming curses while his fare settles before the door slams shut. He smirks as he reaches the sidewalk – he found her.

She stands at the corner waiting; peahen struts in her heels, suit, and buttercream silk blouse. The man glances at a business card from his pocket, then returns it. He found Her.

Her face never fabricates a smile for him, but she leads him past the iron gate into what looks like an old hotel. She opens a door to an office with a black leather lounger where she motions for him to sit.

“Who gave you my card?” Her lips fall into a pout as she sits on the large oak desk, averting her eyes from his face; playing with her manicured nails.

“I’m looking for a young woman.” He states without answering. “Thin. No stretch marks. Underdeveloped. Small.” He smiles and leans back, crossing his hands over his stomach.

The woman nods, then picks up her phone from the desk, texting someone. A knock at the door reveals a tiny late-adolescent with deep umber hair and fawn skin of no more than five feet tall in heels and a shimmering club dress.

“She will do.” The man stands, then turning toward the desk pulls a wad of cash from a money clip. “Thank you.”

The door slams, leaving the woman alone in the room, vomiting into a trash can. A hidden door in the wall opens, revealing a man with a cloud of hair wafting from his scalp. “Not a fan of this one?”

“I hate his kind.” She snarls, wiping her mouth. “And I hate tiny women.”

The white haired man sprawls on the lounger and laughs. “Why? Men are attracted to small, delicate, vulnerable creatures. It’s instinctual.”

“They’re attracted to them because they’re pedophiles.” She spits.

“Then why hate the women?” The man sits up and cocks his head. “You’re jealous,” he mocks. Her eyebrows attempt to narrow in response; instead only her mouth frowns. “Men are allowed to like what they like. Besides, you’re just doing your job.” Standing, he walks over, wrapping his arms around her shoulders from behind, kissing her neck. “Try not to hate yourself because you’re not one of them anymore.”

Closing her eyes, she sees herself grab the letter opener from the pen cup and stab him in the neck. His eyes bulge out as red arterial blood pulses out onto the Persian rug adorning the floor, ruining her silk shirt he bought not long ago. He collapses onto the desk as she grabs his keys to the safe in the hidden room, grabbing enough of the cash to be free of him forever. Running down the old steps and out of the building into the chaos of San Francisco during Chinese New Year.

He cups her breasts from behind as she opens her eyes. “Where is the money he handed you?” He whispers in her ear.

She hands him the roll of hundreds over her shoulder, then stands, re-buttoning her blouse.

“Good work.” He oozes as she approaches the door.

The sounds in the hallway follow her; remind her; haunt her as she walks down the steps, wondering if now is the time to step outside.


If you found yourself moved, please consider liking, commenting, and/or sharing it with others. Truly, I am grateful for the time you spent reading my work. While you’re here, if you want to learn more about what you can do to help those impacted by human trafficking, or if you are impacted by human trafficking please check out http://humantraffickinghotline.org/.

If you are in need of immediate help and are located in the United States please call 1 (888) 373-7888 or text 233733 (Text “HELP” or “INFO”) 24/7/365

The Hundredth Post! Excerpts From “Timber” And Short Story Collection

This is my hundredth post! As of yesterday, you all have blessed me with 2,000 visitors to this website in 2020. Because of this, I figured I would let my readers choose the content of my hundredth post, so I held a poll to let everyone decide what this post should be and the option selected by popular opinion was an excerpt from a work in progress. I have multiple works in progress, so I decided to include a scene from Timber and one of the short stories, Moving On, from my upcoming collection to be released at the end of this year.

For some context, Timber is a book that follows the main character, Sarah, through her divorce, loss of her existing friendships, and change of identity as her perceptions of reality are challenged and reconciled. The scene I picked is from the middle of the book.

Enjoy!

Photo by Hisu lee on Unsplash

Excerpt From “Timber”

Charity smiled sweetly as her large pale blue eyes with opalescent pupils caught Sarah off guard. She never noticed Charity’s eyes before, or the eyes of any other zombie for that matter. Her extremely pale skin, a deeper blue at the tips of her fingers, had been rarely this visible. She rolled up her sleeves and lovingly arranged baskets filled with children’s books and miniature prints of famous art.

“What will the children do with the baskets?” Sarah asked as Charity’s careful and loving movements prepared each basket.

“They’ll eat them and become smarter. It will help their brains develop and they will better be able to communicate with the world around them.” Charity responded with a hint of exhaustion at having to explain.

“Why not just give the children adult books. Wouldn’t that be faster and better?” Sarah inquired while reaching for her own stack of baskets to begin filling.

“You can’t just give a child a book at a higher reading level! Our brains develop similarly to humans – the solid foundations for learning must exist before we can advance. When a child tries to eat books more advanced than they can handle they get very stressed and sometimes sick. Sure, they might regurgitate the material, but they could end up confused with disjointed information because they couldn’t digest it properly.” Charity handed a stack of children’s books to Sarah.

“So, zombies eat in order to learn?”

Charity stopped filling the baskets and looked up at Sarah, her direct eye contact forcing Sarah to shift weight between her feet. “We do not call ourselves ‘zombies’. Humans came up with that term and forced us to take it with the addition of bad literature and even worse movies.” Charity cleared her throat, took a deep breath, and continued. “And yes, we must physically consume material to learn new information.”

“What do you call yourselves?” Sarah asked, apologetically. Momentary silence stretched into an eternity between tics of the wall clock’s second hand.

“Phagoneurites” Charity sighed. “Individuals are Phagonuers.” She paused and pointed to fabric basket covers. “Hand me the wraps, will you? These are ready to be sent to families.” She indicated to the full baskets now covering the table.

Sarah grabbed the wrap and started helping Charity enclose each basket. “If Phagoneurites learn information so efficiently, why aren’t more in higher paying jobs?”

Charity paused in silent contemplation as her posture and face saddened. “Take that question to your politicians, your judges, your lawyers, and your education system.” She tightened her jaw with a deep seething breath, “The way things are now, we can’t. There are policies against us everywhere, both written and unspoken. The written ones are carefully worded as to prevent us from challenging them. So, we have our own universities, but most businesses refuse to accept degrees from them. The human education system refuses to give our programs accreditations.” Charity began picking up baskets from the table and shifting them into the large bins labelled “outgoing”.

Sarah chewed her mouth, trying to understand her desire to argue with Charity’s words. She’d learned her whole life that the policies were ‘anti-discrimination’ and that it was a choice not to attend human schools. Her brain tried to understand the words Charity said while she kept silent. “I’m sorry,” Sarah managed to say before she even realized she spoke.

“You’re here. That’s a start.” Charity looked at the cleared table and opened a box of books labeled ‘Young Adult’, grabbing more baskets. Her blue lips pursed as she closed her large eyes, appearing to be weighed down by the long white eyelashes. “What was your favorite book as a kid?”


Moving On

The crisp fall air ebbs with the emerging early winter’s night, whipping my hair into my face. It is too cold to meander lost in thought, but too comfortable to be set on edge. The familiar streets twist and turn while the sidewalk cracks etch their places under the moonlight. Hands in my pockets, I fiddle with the once broken necklace. I trace my path with the motion­ sensor front porch lights and barking dogs from across the brick-paved streets.

She loved this walk. Sunday mornings, we dabbled in conversation. She beamed, with those golden curls framing that face – emerald eyes the hidden gems beneath. Her shoes clipped those cracks; she faltered and tripped. Calling herself clumsy, she would hit herself if she stumbled. If she didn’t catch herself, I tried my best to be the arms where she fell. Each time her face reddened: rosy cheeks and the embarrassed grimace. She glossed over that fluttering heart against my chest by enveloping me in a desperate hug. So many surprises emerged from her square, youthful features. I somehow forgot she stood two inches taller. Then again, in those days, I never stopped smiling like an idiot.

At the end of the road, a park hides among an old orchard once part of a larger estate. I approach it as my thoughts flash pleasant autumn days against my will. Under that tall one. They pull me, pointing. The one with the spread branches and the old board nailed to the trunk. My imagination carefully fills in the apple load that weighed down the branches. The scene bleeds memories. The apples from that tree tasted best. She stole apples. I stole a kiss.

I roll the memory around on my tongue. Her eyelashes caressed against my cheekbones. The sound of her soft breath and the rapid beating of her heart against my own as they synchronized: everything I wanted, presented to me with a button nose.

She smiled with such serenity. I boosted her into the tree. Her necklace, the little gold filigree cross pendant on a delicate chain, snagged on a branch, breaking the clasp. In a surprise, she slipped, and I caught her. Through her tears, I held her promising to retrieve and repair it.

Under that tree, in the darkness, I pull the necklace out of my pocket, tracing my fingers along the charm’s sides. Looking up to the branch, I see the stars on the other side of the barren branches.

The pendant was a gift from her parents. While repairing the necklace, I stared. I longed to meet them every time she chose never to invite me to join her at a family dinner or event. I sought out pictures to prove to myself that they looked like her. I fantasized about which bits of her personality she inherited from whom. I wondered if they ever knew my name.

I lost my taste for apples. She disappeared. She never really loved you. Answering machine messages blinked in and out of existence without response. Notes I left under her door sat in my mind, their words echoing my insecurities from inside their sealed envelopes. Why did you ever think you were deserving of love? Why did you think you’d be more than someone’s phase or experiment? Removing the repaired necklace from my pocket, I kiss the pendant one last time. I loop it on a tree branch and turn to leave – following the brick road to a home of boxes and goodbyes. In my periphery – my mind playing tricks – I glimpse her walking our path alone.


Thank you so much for taking the time to read this hundredth post. If it speaks to you, please let me know by liking, commenting, or sharing. This helps me know which posts my readers like best.

Book Promotion! "And Then We Vanish" by D. H. Schleicher

Hi Everyone! While I finish up working on another book review, I’m going to post something a little bit different. As some may recall, in October 2019 I read D. H. Schleicher‘s book “Then Came Darkness” and loved it. I had the pleasure of beta reading a couple short stories for Schleicher’s new collection “And Then We Vanish“. In exchange I received an ARC. I feel it would be unethical for me to call anything I write a “review” given I helped with feedback. That said, I like the author’s writing style and attention to detail. They are one of the authors that helped me develop my rating scale. I genuinely enjoy the stories and as an unpaid favor I want to support their book here.

I did have the chance to chat with Schleicher about the process behind putting together a collection of short stories. The stories in “And Then We Vanish” are everything from petrifying to hilarious, but they all share a common theme: disappearing. Using a theme, he narrowed down which stories to include and edit for the collection from the vast collection of short stories authors accumulate over the years.

For beta reading, I read “Upon The Unfortunate News Of My Death” and “Blue Heather”. While I loved them both, particularly the latter, I will focus on the former because it is incredibly relevant. There’s also something poetic about having the opportunity to harpoon one’s metaphorical white whale. My teaser:

In the digital age information can get misconstrued. Between all of the likes, comments, and shares when does real action need to take place beyond the armchair activism? What if we get it all wrong? As if poor Kayla Spaulding hasn’t dealt with enough insanity in her life, here’s one more fire to put out. At least we can enjoy some sadistic revenge.

I hope you consider picking up a copy of “And Then We Vanish” to read about Kayla Spaulding and the ten other stories. Did I mention that these stories are inclusive of a variety of well-researched and presented diverse characters?

There is a story in this book that opens with a school shooting. Please don’t let that deter you from reading the story and instead act as a content warning. It is one of the most moving stories in the entire collection in my opinion and is a reminder that Schleicher is talented at painting emotions onto pages with words. I am glad I had to wait to read it.

Thanks for reading and check back soon for another book review. As a friendly reminder, wash your hands and call your loved ones.