Midnight Road

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Jason has been running another short fiction competition. My apologies, as I should have posted about it earlier, but I am quite sure he will run another one soon. There really are some startling, original, clever and well-written entries, so I suggest you take some time to read through them. For those curious, you can find my effort here.


If a quantum falls in the universe.....

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from Sagittarius and the Penguin, by jenn see

I started this blog for mostly self-serving reasons. That in and of itself is a imperfectly human thing to do. I hoped it would in some sense prove cathartic, and in another be a validation for the belief I had in my writing, which at that time was dangling by the shadow of a thread. If strangers visited and commented and perhaps even mentioned that they liked it, it would be an end to my doubt-tinged procrastination.
I never for one moment expected the remarkable people that I would encounter. Yet I did. And I would find an answer to a question that grows in relevance as the boundaries of the world shrink. Bonds of friendship can transcend the need for physical expression. Communities can rise up from seemingly random bits of binary code. One quickly grows used to the thought of being greeted every week by a smart turn of phrase, a delicious slice of wit, an achingly honest recollection of intensely personal events. If it is possible to laugh together whilst miles apart, I have done that. If it is possible to admire thoughts and ideas as a replication of a person, I have done that. If it is possible to draw inspiration from, hope from, passion from......no, not draw. Be injected with, imbued with, the joy of living of creating of being who we are meant to be, no disguises and no masks. If it is possible to find all these things within a world of pixels and bytes, then I have found that. And not just once, but many times over.
And I never, for one second, imagined that any of these people would one day not be there.
Jenn, I have no idea what made you linger here a moment longer then you might have, and I have no idea what made you return many times, but thank you.
I do know what made me follow some fish, and I know that as much as the truth to be found there, it was the welcome that made me return, and I thank you.
For Mysfit, for Oldben and for your family, I can find a sliver of hope in the knowledge that because you were such a....well, because you were, the ones you loved will find a way through this.
When I found out that my wife and I would be having a little girl, and as we find ourselves so close to seeing another life enter this world, I have a thought that passed through my mind months back, and that passes through my mind now. I don't know how appropriate a thought it is, just that it is a true one. And smiling when I think of your penchant for revealing yourself to us as a pair of eyes, the thought is this:
If my daughter grows up to have anything resembling the mind behind those eyes, their irrepressible spark and love for life, I would be thankful beyond measure.
I too, wish you peace.


Design flaws travel in groups.....

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This has been around for a while, and most of you have probably seen it before, but anything that keeps me clicking the refresh button for a solid half hour must be worth sharing.

Further Evil (Advice for the Evil Empress):
Sex is certainly a weapon at my disposal, but then so is a blaster. If it is not clear which weapon I should be using, I will opt for the blaster.
Advice for the Evil Overlord:
If the hero claims he wishes to confess in public or to me personally, I will remind him that a notarized deposition will serve just as well.
Advice for the Hero:
I will employ some manner of surveillance so that when I leave a room and a traitorous comrade gives me the Malicious Scowl or Wicked Leer to my back, I will have ample warning of his impending betrayal.
Advice for the Bad Auxiliary Character (Legion of Doom Troops):
Before performing guard duty, familiarize yourself with the sound of a tossed pebble, and learn to avoid being distracted by it.
Further Evil (Advice for the Evil Empress):
The internet is my friend. Using body doubles, I can inspire loyalty with www.EvilEmpress.boudoir. live.com, fear with www.EvilEmpress.pit-of-despair.live.com, and utter slavish obedience with www.EvilEmpress.strict-discipline.live.com. I can also sell t-shirts and other Evil Empress [tm] merchandise.


Thoughts of a dying atheist

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The weather did not change that quickly; not even during winter. When they'd started the trail shortly after 12am, the blazing March sun had left shadow's scurrying for cover. Now, a quiet chill had settled along the mountain. Grant hadn't expected to see more than a handful of hikers, as Thursday's were an odd time for hiking, but it was odd that they hadn't seen anyone for almost two hours now.
Granted, Skeleton Gorge wasn't for the faint of heart, yet still he couldn't shake a peculiar sensation, as if the witching hour had badly misjudged it's arrival. He'd read the Earthsea novels, was familiar with the concept of secret names and hidden power; and what a great fictional concept. But the mountain whispered gossamer words to the sea, and as she birthed a thick, swirling mist in answer, Grant found himself wondering just how imagined the concept was.
Thankfully, they were on the way down and he hoped the mist would only prove a hindrance in driving home. It seemed as if they'd barely walked another ten paces, when the mist claimed them both; a playful lover at first, but with intentions too alien to comprehend.
Then, the sound of feet slipping, a petrified scream, and desperate scrabbling as the safety rope attached to Keegan dragged Grant over the edge.
Moonlight prised unwilling eyelids apart. As his eyes adjusted to the gloom, three things became numbingly apparent. A piece of his shin bone had sliced through his skin and something sticky pasted his shirt to his side, but he lay on something more sickening then either. Keegan had broken his fall. And his own neck. They...shit, he.....how does one describe two bodies, one alive and one dead? He..........he seemed to be in a deep fissure. Large enough to see a brightly lit sky, and large enough to swallow up his cries for help before they'd even left his lips. Grant should have been in agony, but a part of his brain was convinced this was all a dream, and pain didn't exist in dreams. At least, not the physical kind.
Slowly at first, and then with increasing ferocity, the pain did come. He'd been able to keep it at bay long enough to move away from the body, long enough to strip Keegan of his jacket....but he couldn't bring himself to do it. Not the shame, but the fear that if he tried to, Keegan's cold hands would reach out for him. So instead he lay shivering in another corner, laughing at the broken pieces of the cellphone in his hand. Instinct almost got the better of him and he barely managed to stop himself from forming a prayer in his mind. Old habits did not die hard; they just loitered around, waiting to make fun of the weak.
He could hear his mother's voice, warning of a fiery place, happy to welcome him for eternity should he not repent. It wasn't that she'd been unkind or cruel, she genuinely believed she had his best interests at heart. What grated him far more then her constant insistence, was her blunt acceptance in damning the wicked to a ceaseless flame. Did she, did any of them have the slightest concept, a fraction of the ability to conceive of just what eternity meant? Without end. The entire span of history a loose pebble on a mountain.
He felt sleepy, but strangely no longer cold. He knew he should be fighting to stay awake, but could no longer remember why. Grant closed his eyes. After all, it was only forever.


A Pefect Match

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When she wasn't around, Alfred Grimmer liked to fantasize about the call. Ideally, he'd have passed a fretful hour or two wondering where she was, his nascent concern somewhat quelled by the flickering television.
He'd be scraping the last vestiges of supper(a lasagne or a cottage pie perhaps) into the dustbin, when the phone would ring.
"We're terribly sorry to inform you, Mr Grimmer, that your wife has been killed."
No, wait. He'd be sipping his nightly glass of Merlot, and then the phone. That seemed a better ambience for receiving the news.
So he'd politely thank them for informing him, and with a perfectly rehearsed quiver in his voice, the plan would unfurl. Alfred had been born to play the grieving husband. Where most could only dream of a life as devoid of sorrow as his, Alfred had convinced himself that he required but one, truly tragic moment to be set free. He couldn't be certain of the precise instant he'd decided that moment should revolve around the demise of his wife, as he loved her no less then when he'd first married her, yet somehow it seemed appropriate. It never occurred to him that loving someone and wanting them dead could be seen as a rather obvious conflict of interests; he'd even pronounced in his vows that she was his equal in every way, that she even thought like he did. That was precisely why it had to be her. No one would react in the way he hoped if it wasn't.
Alfred had lived her funeral a hundred times, who would be there, what he'd say to each one. He'd chosen flowers, endlessly debated the right time of day, though he was as yet undecided on the catering for the wake. His eulogy would be moving, tender; it would have just the right touch of humour, yet also conjure the image of a desolate, broken man. Friends would visit for weeks, just to make sure he was okay. Family would suddenly forget the fallouts of the past, and the pity of his enemies would extend for years to come. After seven months and four days (a date far less random then it might appear), he would reappear like a butterfly from a hurricane, stronger then ever before. The world would be at his feet, he would be irresistible. His was a power that could never run dry.....
The phone rang, and the future became as lucid as the black-and-white check of the kitchen floor. Could this be it? A thought that had been screaming at him for the past half-hour finally broke through. Why couldn't he move his legs? Or his arms for that matter? And more importantly, why could he not lift his cheek from the kitchen floor, a floor that now seemed far grayer then he'd thought a moment ago? A shattered glass bled wine a foot or so away from him, and still the phone rang. He tried to speak, but his tongue felt cold and dead. A pair of black high-heels moved across his vision, and the incessant ring was at last interrupted by a voice.
"Why yes Jillian, Alfie's feeling a little under the weather, so it will just be me joining you for drinks tonight."
She really did think like him.


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