Sunday, August 30, 2015

KendallJaye Collard Week 165: The Last to Hope

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KendallJaye Collard’s Picture Choice: One

Title: The Last to Hope

“C’mon Jeep. I need your help, buddy. We ain’t gonna make it. I need your arms, Jeep. We gotta keep going.”

I’d already been giving him encouragement for hours.

The earthquake shook our island. It destroyed everyone’s homes. It had taken Jeep’s wife and son. It had taken my wife and two daughters. It stole entire families. It wiped out our way of life.

And now here we were, Jeep and I, trying to outrun the tsunami crash and the torrential rain that had followed. We’d been paddling for five hours. I knew if we could just get to the mainland we’d be ok.

We should have hit the mainland hours ago.

Night was about thirty minutes away.

I didn’t want to admit we were screwed.

“Jeep. Don’t you stop now. I can see the coastline.”

It was a total lie.

But I was afraid of dying.

“Jeep. Talk to me Jeep.”


I stopped paddling just long enough to turn. I could see Jeep slumped forward in the battered and waterlogged fishing boat.

Jeep was gone. Flown with his family to the After.

“Fuck, Jeep.”

I was alone.

I threw my paddle into the angry water.

I shimmied myself from the now worthless boat.

I began to swim.

And I prayed.


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KendallJaye Collard gets her kicks above the waistline, Sunshine. Wine drinker, Cancer Survivor, and protected by rocksalt. Spread the love with her at @KJCollard.


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Sarah Aisling Week 165: A Measure of Grace (Part 37): Message in a Bottle

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Sarah Aisling’s Picture Choice: 2

Title: A Measure of Grace (Part 37): Message in a Bottle

The image of a lone bottle of alcohol abandoned on the railroad tracks causes an unwelcome flutter in my gut. Before the virus, I'd think nothing of this—it probably wasn't all that uncommon—but now, all kinds of sinister scenarios bandy about in my mind. Maybe someone knows we travel past there to gather supplies. Is this a message, a warning—a threat? Gibbs, with his twisted sense of humor and fondness for tormenting others, can't be ruled out.

Max slows his steps, allowing the group to continue without us. He turns me to face him, brushing the back of his knuckles across my cheek and tucking a windblown strand of hair behind my ear. “I'm being open with you, but I don't want you to worry.”

“Are you worried?”

The corner of Max's mouth quirks into a lopsided grin. “I'd be stupid if I wasn't, but it goes with the territory.” He taps the tip of my nose with an index finger. “You're not going to let me shoulder this without an argument, are you?”

I lift a brow, shaking my head. “Not a chance.”

“Well, can we at least keep it between you, me, Eric, and Tek for now? Andrea seems twitchy enough, and I don't want to involve Ali. She's not known for playing it safe or following rules.”

I consider this for a moment before nodding. “But keep me up on what’s happening. No secrets.”

“You drive a hard bargain, cop’s daughter.” Max squints under the glare of the sun, the golden light bathing his tanned skin and setting off burnished highlights in his mussed hair. A mischievous look steals over his handsome face. He barrels forward and tosses me over his shoulder, running along the path past the others and angling across the sand toward the pounding surf.

When I manage to catch a breath, I scream and flail my arms. Max runs fast, and a dizzying mix of colors blur my vision. I finally grab him around the waist and hold on for dear life, determined if I get tossed into the water, he’s going down with me. Grace races alongside us, barking wildly.

Just before we reach the packed wet sand at the edge of the rushing waves, he slows and drops to his knees, setting me on dry sand. He leans back on his heels and smiles down at me.

Grace loses interest and lopes off.

“I can’t . . . believe you!” Crossing my arms, I glare at him.

He shrugs. “Clearly you enjoyed it—you didn’t even bother to threaten my manhood.” He winks. “Tell the truth . . .”

My glare turns into the barest hint of a smile. “Maybe a little, after I got over the initial shock of being flipped upside down.”

“Life with me will always be spontaneous, China, never dull. Sometimes that’s good, sometimes not, but this is what you get.” Max spreads his arms wide, defined pecs straining against snug cotton.

The remainder of my pique melts away, and I gaze at him with open affection. “Whatever it means, I’m all in.”

Max swallows, his Adam’s apple bobbing slowly. He doesn’t say anything, just takes my hand and holds it against his heart.

The chatter of voices nearby alerts me that the others have caught up. Ali skips over and plops down next to me. “You two are so cute!” She offers a winning smile my lips can’t resist responding to.

Max isn’t so affected and frowns at his sister. “Seriously, Ali?”

Tek saunters over, looking amused.

Eric follows with Andrea still clamped on his back, making a show of being out of breath. “Damn, girl ! Carrying you around is going to kill me.” He deposits Andrea on her feet and turns to offer support while she shakes the pins and needles from her feet and legs.

Andrea side eyes him. “I’m underweight. Doubt two of me would make you break a sweat.”

Eric spans her narrow waist with two meaty hands. “Yeah, baby, why are you so skinny? Need to fatten you up.” He leans in to kiss her neck.

I half expect Andrea to cuff him on the ear, but she looks down shyly, a soft blush rising to her pale cheeks, and swats his arm. “You . . .”

“Time to practice some ass-kickery.” Eric links their fingers and leads her down the beach.

Max stands, pulling me up and wrapping his arms around me. “I love you.” The warmth of his breath against my ear in contrast to the chilly salt air elicits a tingle across my skin.

“Love you, too.”

Ali wiggles around and beams openly at us from her spot in the sand, reminding me of an overexcited puppy.

Tek helps her up, shaking his head. “Why don’t we give your brother a break and work over there?” He points to an area opposite where Eric and Andrea are headed.

“Whatever you say, honey.” Ali goes on tiptoe and turns her face up for a kiss.

Max snorts as they walk away. “Tek might think he has her wrapped, but it’s totally the other way around.”

“It usually is.” I bite the inside of my cheek to keep from laughing.

For the next hour, we practice moves. Disabling an opponent with weapons, without weapons. How to take down someone bigger, stronger, using every advantage and weak point of the human body available. Escaping the clutches of an opponent. How to find the perfect opportunity.

Grace makes the rounds, attempting to join us in some way. Eventually, she trots along the foamy surf, getting wet up to her belly, but never strays out of sight.

We switch partners several times, weaker against stronger, taller against shorter, ending with well-matched pairs.

Ali is my last partner. After landing on my back in the sand for the umpteenth time, I stay there, staring up at the blemish-free cerulean sky. The warmth of the sun infuses me with a sense of well-being and contentment I haven't felt since long before the virus destroyed my life.

Ali flops next to me, folding dainty hands across her stomach. “Great workout!”

“You’re shorter than me, have asthma, and you kicked my ass.”

“See? Size doesn’t always matter.” She giggles and nudges me in the side with an elbow.

I laugh. “I suppose not.”

Grace wanders over and lays against my side with her head resting on my abdomen. I sift my fingers absently through her wiry fur.

“Sometimes it comes down to who has the most to lose, the strongest desire to win. Mind over matter.”


The wind kicks up, ruffling our clothes and filling my nostrils with a crisp briny scent. It's warm now, but an unmistakable chill rides on the current, promising colder temperatures. A grain of sand irritates my eye, and I rub the lid gently.

“Belief is a double-edged sword,” Ali says.

“What do you mean?”

“I beat you because my belief that I can is stronger than your belief that you can. In a life or death situation, determination often wins over brute strength. It can work the opposite, too. Take Andrea, for example. Surely you’ve noticed she still appears weak and sickly.” She waits for me to nod before going on. “She doesn’t talk much about the past, but it’s obvious something happened that’s holding her back. Guilt—or maybe someone she cared about tromped all over her self-confidence.”

“Has she confided what her circumstances were before the virus?”

“No, but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that she's punishing herself. She barely eats or sleeps, does a lot of staring into space. I think Eric is her only reason for pushing on, and even that seems to dredge up conflict. Maybe she doesn't believe she deserves happiness.”

“So you're saying her physical condition isn't the issue? Because she doesn't look much healthier than when we first met.”

“Exactly. Something appears to be consuming her from the inside.”

Max’s familiar baritone chimes in. “I agree. Take it from someone intimately acquainted with soul-eroding guilt.”

Grace lifts her head to look his way but remains next to me.

He stands to Ali’s left, arms crossed, staring over the choppy water. Sympathy rises within me, knowing what he did to protect Ali, what he wants to do to protect me.

I sit up, brushing sand from my hair and clothes. The sun hovers low over the ocean, still round and golden like a sunny-side-up egg. Lengthening shadows creep over the upper part of the deserted beach. “Where is everyone?”

“Andrea was tired. Tek went with them because Eric needs to go back to the compound tonight.” His eyes are tight.

There’s more to it, but I promised not to grill him in front of Ali.

“Hope she’s all right.” I stand and dust my pants off. “We should probably get started on dinner.”

Max helps Ali up. Grace barks and runs circles around us with renewed vigor as we make our way back to the trail.

After dinner, we play poker. The card game elicits a sense of fun and lightheartedness that almost allows me to forget for a time. Tek puts out beer and snacks. Max wears his “lucky” baseball cap and gnaws on a toothpick; I’m fascinated by the way he manipulates it with lips and tongue, never in danger of losing it even when he talks and laughs. Andrea folds after a few hands, claiming fatigue. She’s not a strong player, and it’s clear she feels lost without Eric.

Ali makes a remark about upping the stakes. Max slaps his cards down and leans over the table before she can go on. “Hell to the no. I have no desire to see your unmentionables, and you sure as fuck aren’t seeing mine!”

She shrugs, looking around innocently. “I didn’t mention strip poker specifically, did I?”

“You were headed there.”

Tek smirks, remaining quiet.

“Whatever, Connor.”

We play for a few more hours before falling into bed, exhausted from the day. Grace curls into a ball on an extra comforter Max laid in the corner for her, snoring softly after a few minutes.

Max folds me in his arms and kisses my forehead. We lay quietly for a time, and I enjoy snuggling against his warm body.

I’m just starting to drift off when a wandering hand slips inside my shirt to cup a bare breast. Max hooks a leg over me and shifts around, sighing contentedly.

“Um . . .”

He laughs softly and kisses my temple. “I want to sleep like this, okay?” He gives my boob a gentle squeeze.

“Sure.” I yawn, smiling sleepily.

My slumber is dreamless and peaceful.


It’s late morning before I remember Max’s strained expression yesterday when he mentioned Eric returning to the alliance.

We’re walking the perimeter, checking traps. Max must feel we’re fairly safe if he brought me with him.

He crouches next to the fence bordering the industrial park. “Looks good, no tampering.”

I tug my jacket closed, rubbing gloved hands up and down my arms. The temperature is at least twenty degrees lower than yesterday, the chill compounded by the clouds and fog that rolled in overnight. Beads of mist hover, suspended in the humid air, coating our faces and hair.

Max scoops some wayward strands off his forehead as he rises and starts moving toward the next area. I hurry to keep up with his long strides.

“Max, can I ask you something?”

He slows, allowing me to catch up. “Sure.”

“What’s going on with Eric? I got the feeling, yesterday was about more than a routine return to base.”

Max stops walking and rubs the back of his neck. “You don’t miss much, do you?”

I lean one shoulder against the fence. “I try not to. I didn’t say anything at the beach because Ali was there, and then I forgot later on.”

He sighs, scrubbing a hand across his face. “Okay, but I don’t want you to freak out.”

“All right.”

“Another bottle was left on the tracks.”

My pulse skips. “And?” I croak out.

“Don’t know yet. We thought it best to monitor the area, see if we can figure out who it is, where they might be hiding. They could be watching, hoping to follow us.”


“Yeah. I’m supposed to meet up with Eric in a few hours, but keep that to yourself.”

“I’m coming with you.”

“I don’t know if that’s wise.”

“I’m going.”

He shakes his head in defeat. “I’m surrounded by stubborn chicks.”

“You love that about me.” I grin.

“The sad thing is, I do. You can come. We’re meeting on the cliff where I first found you. From there, we’ll have a bird’s eye view if anyone tries to sneak up on us.”

Max checks a few more traps, finding them untouched, and nods, satisfied. “Done. Let’s go back to the plant and grab some lunch before we go.”

The rain starts when we’re halfway up the cliff path to meet Eric and progresses quickly from a drizzle to a driving rain. I’m thankful for the hood on my jacket. My boots slip in the mud a few times, and Max helps steady me.

The fog thickens as we climb, the flat top of the cliff almost completely shrouded from view, and we pick our way carefully across the rocky surface.

Eric’s hulking figure morphs out of the fog, huddled next to a boulder, hands deep in his jacket pockets. He starts toward us. “Nice weather we’re having!”

Max’s posture is rigid, and he keeps looking around. “You find out anything?”

Eric glances at me and back to Max. “You’re not going to like what I have to say, man.”

“Spill.” Max swipes moisture from his face, new droplets replacing them quickly. He pulls me close, sharing warmth.

Eric leans in closer, talking over the patter of rain on rocks and in puddles. “I spent a cold fucking night hanging out in trees with night vision goggles. Big fat zero. No movement, no sign anyone’s been in the area. As I was moving around, I heard the hum of machinery. Sound travels out there, you know?”

“Yeah, yeah . . .” Max gestures impatiently.

“Damnedest thing. Turned out to be a generator behind some immediate care clinic. I went in and looked around, but the place was deserted. Creepy as fuck. The emergency lights were on, and shit’s still posted on the bulletin board—as if anyone is going to show up to their flu clinics now!” He lets out a booming laugh and slaps his thigh.

Max isn’t amused. “Did you find anything?”

“Not there. It bears watching, though. Somebody started that gennie.”

I shiver, not sure if it’s from being cold and wet, scared, or both.

“What about the bottle on the tracks? Did you get it?”

Eric hesitates, glancing at me again, and my stomach rolls. “Yeah, man. Sure you want to talk about this now?”

“We don’t have secrets—just say it.”

“There was something in the bottom of the bottle this time. A key.”

“What kind of key?”

“The kind that opens collars.”


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Sarah Aisling hails from the East Coast of the US and loves living by the ocean with her incredibly indulgent husband and precocious daughter. She’s currently editing her upcoming novel, The Weight of Roses. When Sarah isn’t being enslaved by her characters, she can be found with her nose in a book, obsessing over nail polish or anything leopard, biking, hiking, camping, and spending time with friends and family. Twitter: @SarahAisling Facebook

Monday, August 24, 2015

SJ Maylee Week 165: The Rooster’s Crow

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SJ Maylee’s’ Choice: 2

Title: The Rooster’s Crow

Jenny left her house, letting the screen door slam closed to consume the void where her husband would have reminded her to be careful on her morning walk. Her days were mostly filled with quiet now. All those seemingly dull conversations were no longer an option, unless she spoke to the ghost that haunted her.

She made her way down the country road to the little stream. The smell of wet dirt filled the air and the soft ground squished under her old tennis shoes. She kept going until she could see the water.

The sounds of a rooster crowing brought her attention further down the embankment. A single hen and her rooster stood along the water’s edge. Pressure built in her chest and at the backs of her eyes. Years ago, this was the place where her Charlie had forced her to promise him she’d go on after he’d past. He never intended for her to stay on at the farm and keep their life going. He’d made her promise that she’d move along and rebuild her life.

“Damn you, Charlie, for leaving me!” she shouted. Emptiness walled her in and gave her nowhere to go. All she wanted was for the love of her life not to be dead. She had no desire to build something that he’d never see.

The rooster crowed again and her tears flowed anew.


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SJ Maylee believes hearts are meant to come together and find love. As a writer she has a tendency to break hearts, but she always glues them back together. You can follow her at @SJMaylee,


Sunday, August 23, 2015

Miranda Kate Week 164: Ebbing

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Miranda Kate’s Picture Choice: One

Title: Ebbing

Douglas had finally reached the tree. He crawled up to it on his belly and scraped his fingers down the bark. He heard the rustle of dried wood and felt the pieces of bark crumble off in his hand. It was dead.

He let out an exhausted scream, and slumped to the ground.

The heat of the day began to ebb now the sun was sinking below the horizon. It lit the sky in spectacular colours, but no one was left to watch – except Douglas.

From his prone position he could do nothing else; his eyes followed its descent, taking in the golden hues. He wanted to admire it, but belly cramps from the lack of sustenance, and panic from his struggle to swallow consumed him. The tree had been his last hope of water – and of life.

As the sun slipped further away, so did Douglas’ life force. The skeleton of the tree stood as a reflection of his future. There weren’t going to be any last minute miracles, or divine interventions. There was only going to be an extinction of a species that took too much for granted.


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You can read more of my writing on my blog - Finding Clarity - at or join me on Twitter @PurpleQueenNL


Michael Wombat Week 164: A Rescue

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Michael Wombat’s Picture Choice: Both

Title: A Rescue

I pushed aside some cow parsley and peered at the compound. The fence looked flimsy enough to cut through, but it was still broad daylight. This job would have been far easier under cover of darkness, but I didn’t have that luxury. I had been given a strict deadline. Five hours, they had said. It would take five hours for the Nazi’s chief interrogator, known ominously as Der Schmerzbringer, to reach the compound. Roads and rail had been bombed earlier, specifically to slow the torturer’s arrival, but he would certainly get here by sunset. After that, the Professor would be subjected to the most intensely painful agonies. He would soon break down, and he would hand the Germans a secret about British defence capabilities that would win the war for the Axis Powers. Even then the Professor’s suffering would not cease. Der Schmerzbringer took joy in his torture and would continue simply for the pleasure he took from it. Some said he saw it as an art form. Others that he was just a sadistic, sick bastard.

I could not concern myself with that. I also had no idea what the big secret was, and to be honest, I didn’t much care. I had my orders and I would follow them – get to the Professor before sunset and save him from the horrors that Der Schmerzbringer intended to inflict upon him.

I wriggled backwards further into the undergrowth at the sound of an engine approaching. The honeywagon, come to take away the barrels full of shit from the military latrines. No such hygienic arrangement existed for the prisoners, of course, who had to empty their own soil by hand, distributing it onto nearby fields.

The filthy grey lorry halted before the gates, engine idling, while the driver’s papers were checked. I rolled, swift as sixpence, into the deep shadow beneath the truck and pulled myself up. When the driver got the all clear, the truck bounced into the compound, taking me with it. It halted by a row of barrels that sat in a trench running behind the latrine block. Brimming with a week’s worth of shite from a score of Wehrmacht soldiers, they stank worse than a hundred rotting corpses.

I dropped and rolled into the noisome filth that had slopped out of the barrels into the bottom of the trench. The malodorous filth made it easy to worm on my back to the far end of the ditch. I slipped my fingers between the metal bars of a slimy grating in the ground. A simple pull revealed a hole just large enough for me to slide down. I fell perhaps three feet, turned quickly, and replaced the drain grid over the hole. The entire manoeuvre had taken no more than thirty seconds. The honeywagon driver had not yet climbed out of his cab.

I wiped my shit-stained hands down the back of my trousers, then drew a small torch from my waterproof pocket. The plans I had been shown were accurate. A low, rough passageway led to the south, towards the main detention cells. Letters scrawled on a rock proclaimed that I was not the first person to come down here. The inscription was old, however, perhaps scratched there by a foolish prisoner attempting to escape. I need not fear discovery.

Five minutes later I was beneath another grating. The stains beneath this one, however, were from a different bodily fluid to that which I had crawled through. These blotches were the darker brown-black left by blood. A faint sobbing emanated from the room above.

I pushed up on the grating. It did not move. I squirmed around and kicked it up into the air. It fell to the stone floor with a clatter. The voice above broke into a terrified, meaningless gibber. They had been right. The Professor would not last a minute in the hands of Der Schmerzbringer.

I clambered out of the hole. A grey-haired old man lay on a filthy campbed in a dark corner of the small cell, hands and feet tied to the frame. He stared at me, wild-eyed. I put my finger to my lips – sssh – and crossed to his side.

“Professor Cherry?” I asked. It would not do to save the wrong man from the torturer’s art.

“Yes, sir. Yes, I am. You’ve... you’ve come for me?” he gasped, the light of hope entering his weary, rheumy eyes as he gazed up at his saviour. I nodded.

“Indeed I have, Professor. We would never allow you to be tortured by the Nazi bastards.”

“You smell appallingly, young man,” he smiled, “yet I am overjoyed to see you.”

I took out my knife, and he looked up, pulling his scrawny right hand away from the metal framework so that I might easily cut his bonds. I placed the sharp edge of my blade against his neck just below the ear. With a swift movement, and a twist so that the neck muscles would not interfere, I sliced through his carotid artery. His blood splashed over my face. I twisted his head, ignoring the bewildered, pleading look in his eyes, and severed the artery on the other side. Blood fountained up the wall and drenched my hair. He gurgled, gasped, and fell into unconsciousness, his brain starved of oxygen. He would be dead within three minutes.

I turned to slide back down the hole in the floor. The precious British secret was safe.


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Michael Wombat has published several books - search for him on Amazon, or go talk to him on Twitter where he is @wombat37.


Friday, August 21, 2015

Mark Ethridge Week 164: Armor 17 : A Sunday In The Park

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Mark Ethridge’s Picture Choice: One

Title: Armor 17 : A Sunday In The Park

Tony, Bill and Axle sat behind the gazebo, waiting for Vince to arrive. They sat silently, hidden so Marla, the curvy redhead, wouldn't see them when Vince brought her to the gazebo. Tony had the gag, Bill and Axle had the handcuffs. Vince had the drugs. It was a quiet, Sunday evening, no one was around. No one would see what happened. No one would know. They’d all have some fun. Well, maybe Marla wouldn’t, but that would be her problem. They’d make certain she wouldn’t tell anyone.

I watched from the edge of the trees, maybe ten feet from them. I waited. When the time was right, I was going to interrupt their fun.

In another time, I would have walked through the park, stopped on the bridge, enjoyed the colors and fragrances of the flowers, watched the ducks and geese on the lake. I would have sat on the bench in the gazebo, and dreamed of happy times, holding hands with someone I loved.

Those days died years ago.

I watched Vince and Marla walk across the bridge. He carried a lunch box, big enough for two drinks and a few things to eat. She held his hand, smiled a lot, pointed at the ducks, geese, and flowers. Vince nodded, feigned interest, said the right things.

“It’s beautiful here! I love the flowers, especially the red ones,” Marla pointed at the flowers beside the bridge.

Vince politely looked at the red flowers, smiled, “Oh, how gorgeous. I hadn’t noticed them before.” He squeezed Marla’s hand, “Thank you for pointing them out.”

They slowly made their way to the gazebo. “Here we are. Watch your step.” He stopped, pointed at the step up into the gazebo. Marla had a pretty smile, and pretty green eyes to go with her red hair.

I waited. It wasn’t time.

They sat on the bench, he opened the lunchbox, pulled out the drinks. I focused on the containers, had the armor’s sensors scan them. His was normal iced tea. Hers iced tea had a kick. GHB. I had the sensors record the information.

It wasn’t long before Marla was practically unconscious from the GHB. The sensors showed her pulse and blood pressure were dangerously low. It seemed Vince had used a lot of GHB. She leaned against him on the bench, and a few minutes later, he slid off the bench, and left her prone on it. “OK, guys, it’s time.”

Tony, Bill and Axle were obviously practiced at what they did. Tony rapidly gagged Marla, while Bill and Axle handcuffed her. They stripped her, placed her face down on the gazebo floor.

“You’re the ass man, Axle, have some fun.”

Before they’d finished the sentence, Axle had his fingers in Marla’s ass. “Oh, she’s a good one!”

It was time.

I entered the gazebo with the armor in full cloak. I kicked Axle in the throat, and left him on his back, desperately trying to breathe through the remains of his throat.

Tony froze, like he’d seen the gates of hell, and was too petrified to breathe. I planted a knee in his groin, lifted him clear off the ground. I assisted his face first plunge to the floor of the gazebo, and observed his head bounce twice from the impact.

Bill’s scream suddenly went silent as I put my armored fist into his neck. I heard bones break.

Vince ran. He didn’t get far. I followed, and caught him halfway across the bridge. I redirected his forward momentum to the side, and guided his head into the bridge railing. He’d already stopped breathing by the time I walked back to the gazebo.

I fished the handcuff keys off of the bodies of Axle and Bill, and released Marlaa. I helped her dress. I’m certain she found it strange how her clothing almost put itself on. I put a manila office document folder on the bench, next to her. “Give this to the police when they arrive.”

The armor called 911 to report four dead bodies at the gazebo in the park.

I walked away.

The newspaper headlines the next morning reported four dead men, apparently killed by vigilantes, who’d left pictures of them sexually assaulting four women.

I smiled. Four more predators removed from existence. The world was a touch safer. I’d done my job. I’d brought the violence.

I’m Armor 17. I am the violence.

And I have so many stories to share.


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Mark woke up in 2010, and has been exploring life since then. All his doctors agree. He needs to write.


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Denise Callaway Week 164: The 5th Car

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Denise Callaway’s Picture Choice: 2

Title: The 5th Car

Mel pushed past the other passengers and found a seat where she could face the front and look out the window. Kess would choose a train as their mode of transportation. She wouldn’t even be joining her until the next stop. Putting on her headphones, she tried to tune out the chaos as passengers took their seats. The conductor’s voice boomed overhead. “All aboard?” Tickets were checked. With a hiss of the brakes releasing and a jerk of motion, they slowly gained momentum.

Mel escaped into a world of daydreams that insulated her from the world around her. As the landscape began to rush past her vision, she was already lost in a landscape of her own design. The music she chose seemed to meld with the idea of the dream. She imagined Mr. Tall Dark and Handsome walking up to her and asking for the seat across from her. Aaaaah, romantic illusions, she thought subconsciously.

“Excuse me, Miss.” A tap on her shoulder pulled her from her reverie.

“Umm, yes?”

“Do you mind if I take this seat?”

She studied him a moment. He wasn’t exactly the man of her dreams. He probably wasn’t any taller than her sister. His face held a bit of scruff and his dress was a pair of khaki cargo shorts and t-shirt rather than the suit she imagined. Still, she nodded and he settled in across from her. Turning back to the window, she tried to recapture the remnants of her daydream.

“Hi, my name is Mark.”

Great, a talker, she thought. Doesn’t he know that headphones are a signal to be left alone? Pasting on a practiced smile, she responded, “Melinda.”

“Oh? That’s my aunt’s name. Small world. Where are you from?”

She hoped the eyeroll in her mind wasn’t visible outwardly. “Oh, I’m from downstate.” Maybe if I leave polite question response, he’ll figure it out.

“Nice. I come from Dorset, myself. I don’t usually come this far upstate.”

Mel smiled tolerantly, trying not to show teeth, and turned her eyes towards the window.

“I love farm country,” he continued, remarking on the view. “My parents own an apple orchard and we worked the farm from sun up to sun down during the summer as I grew up.”

Again, Mel smiled tolerantly and nodded. I wonder if my smile is strained, she thought, running through the list of socially acceptable constraints.

“Did you live in the country or town?”

She reviewed the responses she could give. She could tell him about the lovely town with shutters on the windows and delightful mimosa trees that would drop pink puff balls to the ground.

She could tell him that she grew up in town and that her dad was a mechanic, her mom ran a diner, and that she and her sister worked as waitresses from the time they were 15 until they graduated. Instead she responded, “In town.” Maybe he’ll get a clue, she thought.

“I loved being in town, too. I had an aunt and uncle that lived in town. We’d go and hang out with my cousins, meaning me and my brothers.” She winced at the grammar slip. “So I take it that you live in the city, now?”

She sighed, “I think...this is getting a little too personal. Perhaps…” She signaled with a nod of her head that he should move on. He tightened his lips and stood up as the train began to pull into the next station. Motion began to shift passengers and the conductor called out transitions. Mark disappeared in the flow of traffic and likely exited the train.

Mel was shaking her head when her sister plopped into the seat across from her. “Hey, sis, what’s wrong?”

“Oh, this guy just wouldn’t shut up and kept rattling on about what is my name, where I’m from, where I live...I finally suggested he move on.”

Her sister went still. “Ummm, I hope you didn’t give him any information.”

Laughing dryly, Mel responded, “Of course not. You know I don’t like talking to people I don’t know.”

“Well it could save your life. Look at this.” Kess shoved a newspaper into her sister’s hand. The headlines read Another Dead Body Attributed to the Railway Stalker.

“Oh, wow. Do they have a picture?”

“There is a sketch at the bottom of the page.” Looking down the page, Mel paled as she lifted her eyes to meet her sisters. “You need to call the cops! Did you tell him anything?”

“I--I don’t think so. But yeah, just in case…”


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Denise finds herself lost in a field of dandelions. With one blow, her dandelion dreams transform into the words on a page. Some of those dreams have found their way to her website:


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Lizzie Koch Week 164: The Tracks

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Lizzie Koch’s Picture Choice: 2

Title: The Tracks

Get to the tracks!

Follow the tracks!

And you’ll be safe.

Free from the hunters.

The words tumbled around Walter’s head as he blindly stumbled upon the tracks, sweat dripping down his pallid face. Barely able to lift his feet, he stumbled and fell, his hands hitting the jagged stones and splintered wood, cutting into his skin.

A surprised laugh escaped his cracked lips as he slid his bloodied hands along the rails.

The tracks.

He’d reached the tracks.

Safety was his.

He’d survived.

He stood, inhaling deeply and began to walk, allowing himself to relax. They said he’d never make it, would die trying or they’d catch him.

He laughed again, This time a full belly laugh as he knew he’d outwitted the hunters, out ran the men who judged him, who sentenced him. Now he was free.

He carried on walking along the deserted tracks, wondering when they would end, where they would end as they stretched out as far as he could see.

Glancing behind him, he saw the hills he had scrambled over and hurled himself down. On the ridge stood the hunters. They didn’t move. Walter could feel their gaze upon him but he laughed.

He’d beaten them. He, Walter the hunted had beaten the hunters. The first to do so.

“I beat you!” he shouted, punching the air. “I beat you! All of you!”

His head swam with thoughts of his freedom, with what he could do. They’d never find him, always two steps behind him, mopping up his grisly mess, his mass of victims providing trophies that spurred him on. He would become the hunter again.

Wrapped up in his success, he didn’t see the tracks disappear until his feet began to sink. His head spun, looking for something to grab hold of, grabbing at the dirt. It ran through his fingers like air. Deeper he sank, up to his waist.

He turned to the hills. The hunters stood and watched as Walter sank deeper, up to his chest, squeezing his ribs like a vice, crushing his lungs as he gasped for air.

Then they were gone.

Sand filled Walter’s mouth, his nose, his lungs bursting to breathe.

Surrounded in darkness, Walter slipped beneath the earth, his hunting days extinguished under the still sands of the abandoned railway track.


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I dream of sharing my work with the big wide world one day as a published author. Right now, I share flash fiction with a wonderful community of writers and friends. If you liked this story, then why not visit my blog at for more. Thank you. Love Lizzie x


Sunday, August 16, 2015

Laura James Week 163: Initiation

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Laura James’s Picture Choice: 1

Title: Initiation

Cuts and abrasions covered every inch of his body yet still Darren ran, the men hunting him were close enough to smell. Spurred on by the knowledge that the clearing and altar had to be close, he found a burst of speed from deep within. Crashing through the boundary line he collapsed at the feet of the elder with just enough breath to stutter "I give myself to you" and then lay panting as four men barrelled through after him.

Silence descended on the group waiting with the elder, everyone had seen Darren's success, he had survived the first test, he was one step closer to joining the pack.

"You have survived the first test, are you prepared to continue?"

Darren struggled to his feet and looked the elder in the eyes, "I am ready."

The elder nodded and stepped to the side. Darren removed his clothes, climbed onto the stone altar and lay down. At a signal from the elder each member surrounded him, leant forward and one after the other bit into his exposed flesh drawing blood. It took all his will to lie quietly and let this happen, as even at this stage he could show no weakness nor fear. When it was over Darren was soaked in blood, bite marks clearly visible all over his body. Body trembling he managed to move off the altar and onto the blood soaked ground just before the change took over.

He felt his bones crushing and reshaping within his skin, fur started to sprout from his exposed flesh, his teeth grew cutting the inside of his mouth and tongue adding to the pain he was experiencing. Then it was over and he was still alive. He was no longer human, but a werewolf with a pack to call his own.


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Based in Dunfermline, Scotland, Laura is obsessed with all things horror and spends her time writing flash fiction which she hopes, on occasion, really scares her readers. Feel free to stalk her on twitter, @lejamez


Saturday, August 15, 2015

KendallJaye Collard Week 163: The Dual Breed

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KendallJaye Collard’s Picture Choice: Both

Title: The Dual Breed

from the journal of Aubrey Heughan

If the preliminary testing is to be believed, tonight’s full moon will no longer bring the change. Even as I sit here at my desk, my hands are shaking at the thought of once again being normal. Being able to visit a beach that isn’t blackened by sunless skies. Being able to taste food. Being able to feel the burn in my lungs from sprinting. So many things I miss.

When the Wolf and Pyre started their battle on my doorstep, I had no idea what was to come. One howling and vicious. One bloodthirsty and enraged. I opened my door to discover the source of the commotion only to be the target of them both. With a creature drawing blood from each side of my neck, I was instantly changed into something else. Suffering the traits of each. All of the strengths. All of the weaknesses. And somehow the perfect amalgamation of both supernatural creatures.

When the Pyre had had his fill, he turned to flee. The Wolf gave chase. I was left on my front step bleeding to death. The last thing I remember from that night was staring at the full of the moon as my eyes glazed over from death.

I woke in a lavender field at sunrise with the scorch of the sun. Naked, I fled for cover in a nearby cave. I had no memory of how I came to be that field. But the metallic taste of blood filled in more detail that I cared to remember. I waited until sunset to head back to my cottage.

I was told all the stories of folklore from my mother. I thought they were meant to frighten children into good behavior. Now I knew they were true. My father had been a skilled surgeon before war called him away. When he came home, he gave me all of his tools and jumped from The Crags to his death. Mother followed him three years later. I used her stories and his tools to start crafting a way to return to human immediately.

And so it seemed that my imperfect parents were indeed perfectly preparing me for a future I could never have predicted.

Three years of changing with moons to drink blood.

No more.

I’ve administered the injection. My left arm feels like it’s filled with bees. The sensation is starting to cross into my chest.

It’s hard to concentrate.

I hope [ILLEGIBLE] tomorrow.

I am afraid.

I am alone.

I pray no one reads [ILLEGIBLE TO END]


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KendallJaye Collard gets her kicks above the waistline, Sunshine. Wine drinker, Cancer Survivor, and protected by rocksalt. Spread the love with her at @KJCollard.


Thursday, August 13, 2015

Sarah Asling Week 163: A Measure of Grace (Part 36): Ties that Bind

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Sarah Aisling’s Picture Choice: 1

Title: A Measure of Grace (Part 36): Ties that Bind

Max leads me from the room, and I willingly follow without shame, amid murmured comments and Eric’s good-natured laughter. I don’t even pay attention to their words, my gaze trained on the broad shoulders in front of me and the inked biceps bulging beneath Max’s T-shirt. My mind is still focused on the hunger in his eyes from a few moments ago.

Anticipation tightens my chest on the walk to our room. He releases my hand and holds the door as I walk in ahead of him. We share a space now. My belongings co-mingle with his. I’m welcome in his world, part of the family. Pride and desire swell inside me.

The lamp Max gave me emits soft, muted light from atop the scarred dresser. The drawing he did of me is still affixed to the wall. I glance at that Marie, the mix of apprehension and hope in her eyes, and wonder how I’d look if he drew me now. How have the experiences of the past several months seasoned and changed me?

The door closes firmly, a muffled thump following as Max leans against it and watches me with a hooded expression. There was a time the fathomless intensity in his sea-glass eyes would have caused an insecure panic to well inside me, but now my heart races, injecting a heady shot of adrenaline into my bloodstream.

“Come here.” Max’s voice is gentle with a rough edge. He reaches out, keeping his back to the door.

I go to him, and he pulls me close, lowering his head until our lips are a hair’s breadth apart. Our gazes connect, unspoken sentiments passing between us.

“You know I’d do anything for you.”

It’s a statement, not a question, but I nod anyway because I <i>do</i> know. A sense of love and belonging causes goosebumps to race up my arms. Max doesn’t love easily. His loyalty can’t be bought—it must be won.

He cups my cheek and closes the distance, kissing me slowly. We cling to one another until he pushes me away for a moment to yank the T-shirt over his head and toss it to the floor, reeling me right back in.

My lids slip closed as I lean into him, one palm braced on the hot skin of his abs. His lips find mine again, no longer soft, the passion between us burning hot. We shuffle across the room, fumbling with fabric and buttons and zippers until we land on the bed.

Max lifts up to shed his jeans and boxer briefs before running calloused hands lovingly over my exposed skin and removing what’s left of my clothing. Then he rises over me, braced on both arms.

“You’re beautiful,” he says with words, eyes, lips.

I blush from head to foot, warm radiance flooding through me. Why these two words affect me so deeply, I’m not sure. Tears spring to my eyes, catching me off guard, and I blink fast in an attempt to ward them away.

“Max.” I swallow, my throat aching, his name a strained syllable.

He lays a finger against my mouth, eyes glinting in the low light. “I know, baby. You don’t have to say anything. I feel it.”

I nod, slipping my fingers into his soft hair, so much longer now than when we met. A fringe of unruly strands falls across his forehead, lending a boyish look to one so lethal. Knowing he’d do anything for me makes me feel like the most special woman in the world.

Leaning on one elbow, Max lowers his mouth to mine, kissing me deeply. His free hand explores my wanting skin. He stops to ask if I’m okay before going further, my body singing for the return of his touch.

“You don’t need to ask. I’m yours, Max. Always.”

He doesn’t speak aloud, but it’s all there in his eyes—how much my trust in him means, how much my love for him means, the last vestiges of resistance burning away to leave his heart tender and vulnerable, open.

This time is different from the others. Max’s lips whisper over my skin as he enters me. He pauses a moment and groans softly, his hot breath searing the side of my neck. I slide my hands around his body, cupping his backside before running questing fingers over the muscled planes of his back to his broad, flexing shoulders. He takes me slow and worshipful, intense passion overtaking us both.

Afterward, Max cradles me in his arms, keeping my ear pressed to his heart, his strong fingers stroking my back. Every so often, he drops a kiss in my hair. But we don’t talk about the obvious shift in our relationship. Words seem inadequate, insignificant compared to the energy flowing between us.

Something has come to life inside me, and once and for all, I understand what Katie meant on the long ago night of my engagement party. Max takes my breath away; he challenges me to grow; his touch burns my skin. And when we’re together, all rational thoughts depart. He takes me higher than I ever hoped or expected to go.

I shift around and burrow against his broad chest, getting comfortable before closing my eyes. As sleep persuades me to enter its mysterious realm, one thought remains with me to color my dreams: Even if I don’t survive in this new world, I have lived, loved, made a difference—Katie may not have survived long enough to find the love of her existence, but my intention is to live that dream for us both.


I join Ali and Andrea in the supply room midmorning, after I’ve taken a long hot shower with Max. “Saves on resources,” he deadpanned when suggesting it, only the slightest twitch of his lips giving away the fact he wasn’t concerned about conserving anything.

The women—one short, petite, and brunette, the other tall, willowy, and blond—stand in one corner, working side by side. Ali’s bubbly laughter rises in response to something Andrea says.

The two made fast friends in the weeks since Eric carried a half-dead Andrea into the power plant. The friendship and respect they have for each other was clear at dinner last night.

I knock on a wooden board propped against the wall. “Hey.”

They turn.

“Morning, Marie.” Andrea smiles shyly, still uncomfortable around me if her posture is any indication.

Ali grins at me, a hint of mischief in her eyes. “Good almost-afternoon. My brother kept you up late last night—and probably pretty busy this morning.” Her unrepentant eyes widen as she presses a hand over her mouth. “How inappropriate of me.”

Andrea’s mouth rounds in an “O” of surprise as she glances back and forth between us.

Max would go nuclear if he were here. My cheeks flush with color, but I can’t find it in myself to be cross with Ali. I wave dismissively. “It’s okay.”

Ali raises a brow and nods, as if confirming something. “We’re sorting through some toiletries Eric brought in, putting like products together and organizing by expiration date.” She beckons me over and gives me a box packed with over-the-counter medications. “Can you sort these and put them in the bins on that shelf? They should be separated by type and date.”


We work in silence for a while, the mindlessness of the tasks a therapeutic balm washing away the residual awkwardness of our trio. My back eventually grows stiff from bending over, so I straighten up and stretch.

Ali claps. “Well, girls, I say we finish the boxes we’re on and take a break, make some lunch for the boys. Tuna wraps and fruit sound good?”

Andrea brushes dusty hands on her jeans and nods. “I’m in.” The translucent skin of her face seems paler than it did last night, the bluish circles beneath her eyes almost bruise-like.

It seems Max was right about Ali; she seems to have a sixth sense, bordering on psychic. She realized Andrea is pushing herself to keep going for fear of disappointing us, maybe as payment for her place here.

For no apparent reason, I recall the day Ali had an asthma attack, and I rushed to her room to find an inhaler. There were drawings in her dresser, obviously done by Max. One of a younger Ali and the other of a Hispanic man.

I wait until Ali and I are making wraps at the kitchen counter while Andrea sets the table.

“Can I ask you something?”

“Of course.” She continues spooning tuna on a lettuce-lined wrap and begins rolling it.

“Remember the day you had that horrific asthma attack, and I went to find your inhaler?”


“When I opened your dresser, a few sketches fell out. One of them was a young Hispanic man with a scar by his right eye . . .” My words drift off awkwardly.

Ali places the completed sandwich on a plate and lays out another wheat wrap. “That’s Hector. Alejandro Diaz sent him. I used to call him Hector the Protector—that really pissed him off.” She pauses, looking into space with a fond smile. “I had <i>such</i> a thug crush, but he wouldn’t lay a hand on me—against the rules, he’d say with this little sneer.”

“Were you in love with him?”

"Infatuated.” She bumps her shoulder against mine. “I used to have a weakness for bad boys.”

“Oh.” I don’t tell her Max already said as much.

“Now Tek, he’s the kind of man a girl like me falls in love with.” The accompanying smile could light up the room. “Every mistake I ever made seemed to fall away the first time I looked into his gentle eyes.”

“You guys seem really happy.”

“We are.” She frowns. “I pray Hector makes it, pray for him every day. There’s a softness under that lump of coal he calls a heart.”

“Is he still alive?”

“Yes. He continued to protect me as society crumbled. We parted ways when I insisted on finding Connor. Hector thought it was dangerous and foolish, but I couldn’t leave without my brother.”

“Do you know where Hector is?”

“No idea, but I haven’t given up the thought we may meet again. He mentioned Viper business before he left—a plan formulated as soon as they found out about the virus.”

I lower my voice so Andrea won’t hear. “You know Eric’s a Viper?”

Ali nods. “That’s what saved Connor’s bacon. Connor saved Eric’s life, not knowing he was a fellow Viper. After Eric spotted my brother’s tattoo and flashed his own, he vowed to help us.”

“Does Max or Eric know the Vipers’ plan?”

“No, the information was restricted to a core group of long-time gang members.”

A commotion erupts in the hall outside the kitchen, a mix of laughter, catcalls, and barks. Max, Tek, and Eric fight each other to be the first through the door. Grace pushes past the tangle of legs and trots in, tail wagging. Tek definitely loses out to Max and Eric; due to his lanky build, he’s no match for their brawn.

I drop into a crouch to pet Grace and receive an overdue tongue bath. “Who’s a good girl? Did you miss me?”

Her answer is a resounding yes, offered in the form of soft whines and kisses.

The guys are still laughing and shoving each other. Tek slips away from them to sweep Ali into his arms and spin her around the kitchen. Her delighted giggles distract Max, and Eric takes the opportunity to knock him on his duff.

“Score!” Eric yells, arms in the air.

Max glares at him. “What are you so happy about? Cheater.”

“Never become distracted or underestimate your opponent.”

“Whatever.” His lips twitch. “How is it you don’t come with a warning label?”

“I do.” Eric grins and flashes his Viper tattoo.

Max sobers at the sight. “Yeah, where the hell are they now?”

From my spot on the floor, I have a fair view of everyone. Ali is no longer laughing. She still smiles and hangs onto Tek, but her concerned gaze is trained on Max, worry wrinkling her brow. I think of what she told me earlier about Hector and the Vipers and wonder if she knows something Max doesn’t.

“Dude, they saved our asses—even after the fact,” Eric says with a pointed look. He helps Max to his feet, and they pat each other on the back.

“You’re right, man.”

Tek sets Ali on her feet and steps between the guys, slinging an arm over each of their shoulders. “What you failed to notice is that our lovely women made us lunch.”

Multiple exclamations of “Food!” and “Starving!” and “Last one to the table is a toothless Viper!” ring out as they cluster around the table and descend on lunch.

Grace barks and joins in the fray, her nails scrabbling on the floor as she tries to decide which of them to jump on first.

Once Ali admonishes them for acting like savages, the six of us crowd at the small table and eat together. There’s no conversation until we’re almost done eating.

“So, boys, what were you up to this fine morning?” Ali asks.

Tek and Eric look to Max.

“Checking and setting traps.” Max wipes his mouth and swallows a bite of fruit. “I don’t want anyone to panic, but there are signs of activity where we store shit after supply runs.”

Everyone starts talking at once, and Max holds his hands up.

“Whoa! There’s evidence someone was poking around a few of the front buildings, but the shed we use has not been compromised. It seems like one or two people, not an official search party.”

I freeze as our eyes meet. “What are you thinking? Gibbs?” Just saying his name leaves me breathless.

His expression is grim. “Possibly, but it’s dangerous to make assumptions. Tek set up a few cameras out there. We’ll retrieve them in a few days and see what we see.”

Andrea digs her nails into Eric’s arm. “They won’t find us, will they? We’re safe here?” Her voice holds a hysterical edge.

Eric slings an arm around her. “Don’t worry, baby. Nobody is getting through us. Our contingency plans have contingency plans. Right, boys?”

“That’s right.” Max squeezes my knee. “I don’t want anyone to worry. We have the advantage. Regardless, all of us should keep up with combat training, stay sharp.”

“Connor’s right. Everything will be fine.” Ali nods sagely then wiggles in her seat. “What else do you have planned?”

The only one who doesn’t look surprised is Max. He simply smiles. “It’s very mild out, lots of sunshine. How about a relaxing hike to the beach? We can do combat training out there today.”

An hour later, we exit the power plant from an alternate location I’m unfamiliar with that puts us on the other side of the cliff, closer to beach access. The sky is brilliant blue with abundant sunshine and devoid of clouds. The trail is rock-strewn and sandy but easily traveled. Ali and I hold hands with Tek and Max; Eric carries Andrea piggyback style since she’s still frail; and Grace lopes ahead, doubling back through the scrubby brush every so often to make sure we’re still there.

Enough distance plays out between the couples for Max and me to speak privately.

“What did you see out there? Do you think it’s him?”

Max shrugs. “It could be anybody. A few buildings were ransacked, probably someone looking for supplies. I spent time clearing those buildings of anything valuable when I started using that place. Your average scavenger will give up after a few empties.”

“What else? Something’s bothering you.”

His fingers tighten almost imperceptibly on mine. “You remember the railroad tracks we passed during the supply run?”

“Yeah.” Unease slithers through me.

“Eric found a bottle of alcohol out there, set on a railroad tie. The glass was clean, not dusty, and there were a few inches of liquor left in it.”


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Sarah Aisling hails from the East Coast of the US and loves living by the ocean with her incredibly indulgent husband and precocious daughter. She’s currently editing her upcoming novel, The Weight of Roses. When Sarah isn’t being enslaved by her characters, she can be found with her nose in a book, obsessing over nail polish or anything leopard, biking, hiking, camping, and spending time with friends and family. Twitter: @SarahAisling Facebook

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Kimberly Gould Week 163: Emergence

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Kimberly Gould’s Picture Choice: Emergence

Title: Both

Theresa ran through the garden as she did every morning. The blooms were bright and vibrant, just like her. Their aroma was stirred by the air as she ran past, her long blond hair trailing behind her. She didn’t stop to smell the roses, rather continued to her waiting place. She had sat under this branch every morning until her mother came to call her inside. The green chrysalis was her passion, waiting to see what the caterpillar inside would become.

Both hands covered the round o of her mouth when she say the broken leaf shape, nothing inside any longer. Curious, Theresa ran through the garden again, looking for the precious winged insect that had emerged.

Her mother often chided her for behaving childishly, especially as she was nearly a woman at sixteen. Theresa didn’t care, didn’t listen. She loved the enjoyment little wonders gave her and pitied the adult that had lost that perspective. Her mother would never look into a pond and marvel at the tiny fish, tadpoles and surface water bugs, never wonder how they stayed on the surface or how the two similar shapes turned into such completely different creatures.

Creatures like her butterfly, transformed completely. She saw it now, orange and black. The wings opened and closed once before it launched itself off and up over the old wooden gate that kept Theresa locked safely inside the garden.

She could open that latch at any time, though she had been warned not to do it. Outside were all kinds of dangers, hazards, and that was why her parents kept her occupied inside the garden, the library, the sewing room. There was so much she could do that she hadn’t even considered venturing outside. A child doesn’t leave her mother, after all.

Perhaps it was time for her to be the woman her mother wanted. Perhaps it was time to grow up. Without another thought, she put her hand on the iron latch and emerged into a new world, in which she would be a new creature.

“Bye, bye, butterfly,” she told herself.


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Kimberly Gould is the author of Cargon: Honour and Privilege, and it's sequel Duty and Sacrifice. She can be found most places as Kimmydonn, including


Monday, August 10, 2015

SJ Maylee Week 163: Decision Time

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SJ Maylee’s’ Choice: Both

Title: Decision Time

“Michael!” Carey hollered to her husband. “We need to make a final decision on this vacation. I’ve got everything on the table. Get your cute butt in here.”

Michael came in from the garage and she pointed to the sink, knowing full well his rag wouldn’t get all the grease off his hands. “Do you think we’re capable of making this decision?”

“Absolutely” She positioned pictures of her top pick and Michael’s in the center of the table. “It’s now or it’s not going to happen and I’m not waiting another year to take a trip.” The water facet turned off and she braced herself for his reaction.

“What the…” He stepped in next to her and picked up the picture of the beach he wanted to visit. “What the hell did you do to this picture?”

“Oh, come on.” She nudged his ribs lightly. “We’ve been to that beach already and look how magical Scotland looks by comparison. Let’s do it. Let’s go on an adventure.”

“Woman, you’ve lost your mind.” He laughed out loud. “Only you would make a beach look this unattractive.”

“I know. It’s kind of brilliant isn’t it? I mean, just look at these two pictures. Where do you really want to go, another beach or the romantic highlands?” She held her breath.

He turned to her and pulled her in close. “You really want this don’t you?”

She wrapped her arms around his neck. “I really do, please.” She pushed her breasts into his chests.

“Okay, we’ll go to Scotland.” He tightened his hold. “Thank you, thank you.” She squealed. “You’re going to have such a good time.”

“Oh, I know I will because my appreciative wife will need to make sure I do.” He grabbed her ass. “I wish I had thought of this sooner.”

He sealed their decision with a delicious kiss.


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SJ Maylee believes hearts are meant to come together and find love. As a writer she has a tendency to break hearts, but she always glues them back together. You can follow her at @SJMaylee,


Sunday, August 9, 2015

Miranda Kate Week 162: Pick-Up

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Miranda Kate’s Picture Choice: Both

Title: Pick-Up

When he saw the baskets, Fredrickson knew he’d found the right place. He pulled up in front of the white picket fence they were hanging from and left the old battered Chevrolet running while he jumped out.

No-one had told him which one to look in, so he took a cursory walk along the row trying to look nonchalant in this backwater town – although town was stretching it a little far really, there couldn’t be more than a couple hundred folks living here.

The higgledy-piggledy way the baskets had been slung across the fence made the concealed goods hard to spot at a quick glance, so Fredrickson strolled back again, this time catching a glimpse of white and paused, looking harder and seeing a rectangle.

Adrenaline pumped round his system and he glanced around, making sure the coast was clear. But nothing moved in this sun-baked corner of town, so he dipped a hand in and snatched up the package, walking away fast, back to the safety of his waiting car.

He climbed in, ignoring the grunts of the old vehicle, and the slight sputter as the rocking motion jolted the slow, rasping turnover of the engine. He stripped a piece of the wrapping back to expose the tight packed white brick, flicking open a pen knife he grabbed from the compartment next to the cigarette lighter, and scraping a line. He touched it to his lip to test it, and the familiar tingle was quick and strong, indicating high quality.

Fredrickson sat back and smiled to himself; this was going to give him the pay off he needed to finally get out of hock with the Grayson Brothers, and break free from the families once and for all. His dream of life on the islands just came a step closer; he could almost smell the sea air.

But he reminded himself to slow down. This was just stage one. First he had to make the deal and have it go smoothly.

Fredrickson packed the brick back into its wrapping and stuffed it gently into the recently cleaned glove compartment. Taking a deep breath he gunned the engine slightly, causing a burp from the exhaust, and pulled away from the curb. He was keen to leave this sleeping town and move onto the next stage. His thoughts were already thinking through the next rendezvous, this would be the ultimate test of his negotiation skills.


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You can read more of my writing on my blog - Finding Clarity - at or join me on Twitter @PurpleQueenNL


Friday, August 7, 2015

Michael Wombat Week 162: Alert

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Michael Wombat’s Picture Choice: Both

Title: Alert

Since I was seven years old, I have been able to see things that no one else can: the weeping shades in the graveyard; the dancing fires of the forest; and sometimes, looking down, I see ghoulish faces in the Earth, contorted in agony. These visions hold no fear for me, yet no prize in the universe would convince me to again glance upwards on a starry and cloudless night.

How long ago was that midnight when my eyes were drawn to the stars by an unnatural curl of movement? A flicker only, it was, but a motion so, well, wrong that it turned my stomach. Six months or so, was it? Maybe. It’s hard to keep track of time way up here, now that the signals have stopped.

No one believed me when I told them what I had seen that night. That was hardly surprising, since disbelief had been the one constant reaction every time I reported the strange things that I saw. Over the years I had learned to keep quiet about my visions, to avoid rocking the boat and frightening people away.

That night, however, what I saw was so terrifying, so horrific, that I had contacted the police, the army, politicians, priests and reporters. Even the National Enquirer laughed me away. I decided then that if I could not save humanity, I might at least save myself.

So I Googled ‘northernmost inhabited place in the world’, cashed in my life savings and took a train up to foggy Vancouver. From there my remaining money bought me a flight to Alert, Canada, way above Greenland and just 800 klicks from the North Pole. I harboured some hope that we might go unnoticed this far North.

I became Alert’s only permanent resident, tolerated by the rotating military and scientific personnel as long as I pitched in and helped. Or at least the personnel had rotated until a week ago, when the scheduled flight had failed to appear. All communications had ceased, suddenly, and the military signals intelligence radio receiving facility had fallen silent. Then we knew. Then the other personnel slowly began to take my warnings seriously, and they too stopped looking up at the night sky. Not that that stops them, you understand. All that it achieves is to slow down their inexorable advance, to force them into methods other than mind control. Methods more... visceral.

Two days ago the GAW atmosphere monitoring laboratory suddenly went haywire, giving impossible readings from the troposphere. So now we know. We know that it is not possible to escape this fate, no matter how far North we are. The invaders will infest the entire globe. They will find every single living creature and devour it from the inside out. The Earth will become a festering, noisome midden bubbling with countless bubo-covered pus-oozing maggot-rats, all scurrying to kill and maim their neighbours while fat fleas dig into their filthy flesh and drink their fetid blood.


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Michael Wombat has published several books - search for him on Amazon, or go talk to him on Twitter where he is @wombat37.


Thursday, August 6, 2015

Mark Ethridge Week 162: Invisible

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Mark Ethridge’s Picture Choice: Two

Title: Invisible

The leaf landed softly on the grass, beads of dew shined on its surface. It was fall, time for the trees to show their colors, for the leaves to die, and fall, as the world prepared for the time of rest winter brought.

The water on the leaf spoke with the grass with the ground. Both spoke with the air, and the air returned their words to the oceans, the life blood of the world.

“We are no longer pure,” the water cried. “The chemicals of man, the toxins of their machines, their fossil fuels, their manufactured goods, touch everything.”

The ground whispered back, “I know,” as it remembered the countless forests man had burned, the millions of acres of ground they had destroyed, killing everything living. Every worm, mole, rabbit. Even the tiny microbes. “They poison the ground.”

The water knew. It had seen, from the skies, watched, as men hacked down the trees. Thousands, millions, billions of them. Then plowed the ground, flattened hills, raised runoffs, buried concrete, iron, and plastic pipes in the ground, to drain water away, dump it in the rivers, and the ocean, instead of let it soak into the ground. “They believe they rule the Earth.”

The ground knew otherwise. “Soon, they will learn.”

Men separated water from dirt, and what lived in both water and dirt, slowly died. The ground grew hard and dry. And then, they dumped chemicals in it. “Pest control” they called it. The ground, the water, trees, grass, worms, and even the tiny microbes knew the truth. Anti-life they called it. Another wedge in the circle of life, another break in the cycle of nature.

The frogs, lizards, salamanders, and other amphibians paid the price. The water and the ground cried for the loss of so many kinds of life. Gone. Wiped from the face of the world. Murdered. By men.

Their tears, their sorrow touched the sky, who carried it to the oceans, where he set it free.

And the oceans slowly stirred.

The water, ground and sky all knew. The oceans would act. Sooner or later, the oceans would do what they had to, to protect life. Soon, the oceans would bring down man. Then, the world would heal. The cycle of life would be restored.

And Earth would be whole once more.

The air whispered to the ground, “Patience, dear friend. Patience. The blood of life has spoken, and the changes have begun.”

The ground and water both rejoiced. Soon. Soon, they would no longer be separated. The wall man had placed between them would fall.

And Earth would be whole once more.


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Mark woke up in 2010, and has been exploring life since then. All his doctors agree. He needs to write.


Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Denise Callaway Week 162: Telephone “Marge, did you hear the news?”

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Denise Callaway’s Picture Choice: 1st

Title: Telephone

“Marge, did you hear the news?”

“No, what’s up, Connie?”

“Cathy bought a new stud horse. Should be seeing some colts come out of that barn, soon.”

“Sounds exciting.”


“Emily, I just heard something interesting about Cathy. She picked up a new stud. Can’t wait to see those new colts.


“Suze! Guess what! Cathy hired a new stud named Colt. I hear there will be some little ones soon.”


“Addison, Cathy is preggers! She’s expecting a boy. I think she is naming him Colt.”

“Who’s the daddy?”

“I heard she hired him. I didn’t know you could do that.”


“Cathy, we are so excited about your news!”

“The new stud, Addie?”

“Well, ummm, yes. I didn’t know you could hire those services.”

“Well, a mare needs to get her colt someway.”

“Is that how you chose the name?”

“The name? I don’t…”

“Oh, well, the news was that you are naming your baby Colt.”

(laughter) “I’m not having a baby! I did hire a stud horse for breeding on the ranch. Remember, I’m in the horse business?”


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Denise finds herself lost in a field of dandelions. With one blow, her dandelion dreams transform into the words on a page. Some of those dreams have found their way to her website:


Monday, August 3, 2015

Lizzie Koch Week 162: Finding Me

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Lizzie Koch’s Picture Choice: 2

Title: Finding Me

Twenty years I’ve wasted. Twenty years thinking what we had was love. Twenty years of smiling at your crappy jokes, drinking in your shabby local every Saturday night. Twenty years of cheap holidays to Southend because you were too scared to fly. I didn’t mind Southend really. It was you. Took me long enough to figure it out. You and your lack of ambition, your lack of emotion, your lack of energy and excitement for new experiences.

I can count on one hand the times you said you loved me and meant it, actually meant it. And that was well over fifteen years ago. The rot set in and you didn’t even notice. You never batted an eyelid when my girls nights out ended later and later. Then I stayed out all night and still you never commented. Just as long as I was there to cook your breakfast and fetch you the daily paper which you buried your head in for most of the day.

And now, when I tell you I’ve had enough and am leaving you, you sit in front of me with your puppy dog look and beg me to stay, telling me you love me with all your heart. Well, you can keep your miserable, shrivelled, empty heart because I’m leaving.

I closed the front door behind and inhaled deeply. The sun’s rays enveloped me, kissing my skin, banishing my dreary existence. I felt alive.

A horn sounded and my heart swelled when I saw you, the one who captured my heart and unlocked it. The one who rescued me and let me find me.


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I dream of sharing my work with the big wide world one day as a published author. Right now, I share flash fiction with a wonderful community of writers and friends. If you liked this story, then why not visit my blog at for more. Thank you. Love Lizzie x


Sunday, August 2, 2015

Laura James Week 161: Death

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Laura James’s Picture Choice: 1

Title: Death

Death was always around, maybe not in person but never far away. He existed only in the moment, no past and no future. He chose his moments of existence carefully. Standing at the end of a bed he waited until he was called upon to do his duty.

She was near death and knew it. Opening her eyes she was sure that she saw him, standing waiting for her. With the last of her strength she raised her arm and reached for him, oblivious to the crying of the relatives around her.

Death took her hand and helped her from the bed. They stood in companionable silence, hands clasped together like old friends, and waited for the room to catch up. "Do I have to leave now?" She asked. Death let go of her hand in answer, confident that she would find her own path when the time came.

Death walked down the aisle of the plane gently touching the odd hunched shoulder until he entered the cockpit. Standing between the pilot and co-pilot he watched as the ocean came ever nearer.

He knew that this was a possibility but he always thought he would have more time. The speed they were travelling at meant that hitting the water would be like hitting concrete. At least he would feel no pain.

Death took his hand and they drifted skyward, the plane breaking into sections as it was swallowed by the water. "What happens now?" He asked. Death held his hand until he was no longer.

The world provided many opportunities for Death to walk his chosen path. No past. No future. Just living moment by moment.


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Based in Dunfermline, Scotland, Laura is obsessed with all things horror and spends her time writing flash fiction which she hopes, on occasion, really scares her readers. Feel free to stalk her on twitter, @lejamez