#FlashMobWrites 1×38 : Up In Flames

There was a time I needed those books, depended on them, used them. Before everything ended, burned to the ground, turned to ash. “You work for something, fight for it, build it, protect it, grow it.” I remembered the lost nights, tearing the contents of the books apart. How TCP/IP worked. Securing data files generated by applications using libssh to encrypt them in memory, before storing them to files. How to configure network firewalls using iptables, and when to use a whitelist or a blacklist.

And in one day, it all ended.

I hadn’t touched those books in over five years, and I knew I’d never touch them again. They’d been collecting dust on my bookshelves all that time. Once, I’d had a use for them, needed them. They were part of how I survived in my job, the work I once did. The work I’d loved so much.

Until the day everything burned.

A simple sentence, “They don’t want you to come back.” That’s all it took. That was the end of everything. People I’d worked with for over a decade were gone when those words were spoken. The fires erupted that day, I couldn’t think, couldn’t talk, couldn’t sit still, couldn’t focus on anything. It was like creeping along the edge of a cliff, knowing one slip would send me plummeting to the ground, hundreds or thousands of feet below. One slip, and I was dead. Creeping on the edge of that cliff, all I could do was watch the fire burn. And pray. Pray it didn’t reach me, it stopped, and left me a strip of ground, bare rock, by the cliff.

A few days later, I knew the fire wouldn’t stop, with another simple sentence, “No contact with any of the people you worked with.” I was in free-fall, the fire pushed me off the edge.

I’d put every book on a shelf. And never touched them for five years.

Until now. The first time I’d put a fire in the fireplace. It had been expensive, we’d had to have a chimney sweep out to clean it. We had to put in a grate, and screen, and add tools, then buy a cord of wood.

She’d gone to work, like she always did. I had Wednesdays off, didn’t work. It was snowing outside, the weather report said the temperature was in the teens. “Stay inside if you can.” I could.

That’s when I decided to do something about the books from the life I’d had. The leftovers. I’d gone outside, got some wood, and started a fire. And I watched the books burn, one book at a time.

And finally, I was free.

447 Words

I wrote this for #FlashMobWrites 1×38, hosted by Ruth Long and Cara Michaels.  Please, go read all the stories for #FlashMobWrites 1×38. You might find something you like. But if you don’t read them, how will you ever know?


#55WordChallenge : The Fence – Part 33

I watched the monitors, I saw the fence, mile after mile of it. I saw a wolf, an eagle, a dog, a cat. It was true. Animals watched the fence. I saw the old trucks on one monitor, and a couple of the guard repairing a piece the fence. I’d seen those trucks countless times.

55 words

This is Part 33 of the serial story I’m working on for Lisa McCourt Hollar‘s #55WordChallenge flash fiction challenge. Please, go read all the other entries in the challenge this week.

The entire story, from Part 33 to Part 1, is located here.

#ThursThreads Week 194 : Tonight She Is Forced To Say Goodbye

Rose stood beside the ocean, staring at the horizon as she wondered if she’d ever see Sword again. It had been nearly two years since his mother, Queen Oceana had left the note, and sword became King. “I wish you could hear me.”

Sunshine watched her sister stand beside the ocean. It broke her heart to see her sister so alone. Rose and Sword belonged together, and they always had. Since the day Mystica brought him to the lake, when he was six. She remembered Sword made his first journey from the ocean to the lake that same year, to visit Rose, with the blessings of his mother.

The two of them had camped in the woods many times as they’d grown up. Sword visited every few months. In the days before the war with the people from the stars, Sword fought beside Rose and her sisters, to protect the villages in the forest.

But, in the two years since he’d become King, he hadn’t visited her, hadn’t even spoke with her.

Now, Sunshine watched Rose stand beside the Ocean, “Tonight, she is forced to say goodbye. And move on.” As Sunshine watched and her heart ached for her sister, a cold, bitter rain began to fall. Rose knew it was her sister who caused the rain, but it was OK. The rain told Rose how much her sister cared.

The two of them stood beside the ocean and waited for the dawn.

243 Words

I wrote this for Siobhan Muir‘s #ThursThreads, Week 194. Please go read all the entries in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are good reading.

Why I Won’t Vote For A Republican.

Time I was blunt. Here’s why I won’t vote for ANY of the Republican candidates for President of the US. And why I don’t vote for Republican candidates at local and state levels where I live.
1. I don’t want to put troops on the ground in the Middle East. I firmly believe any Republican candidate would do so, if elected.
2. I don’t want to my country to have open conflict with Iran, that may well escalate into an open war with Iran.
3. I don’t believe we should build a wall from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean, top it with oceans of razor wire, and shoot anyone who crosses a line in the sand.
4. I don’t believe we should pack all the “Mexicans” and ship them home.
5. I don’t believe we need to add another 10 Trillion dollars to the US National Debt. I do believe, if a Republican candidate should become President, the National Debt will see explosive growth.
6. I don’t believe we should axe Medicare and Social Security. Wouldn’t doing so be the same as saying anyone who has to retire from work deserves to die?
7. I do believe Mental Illness is REAL, and not something made up by the pharmaceutical industry so they can make more money by selling more pills.
8. I do believe homosexuals, bisexuals, and transsexuals are human beings, and deserve the same rights, privileges, protections, and treatments white men receive, both under the law, and within the judicial system.
9. I do believe physical disabilities are a real thing. I do not believe people born with such disabilities, or enduring such disabilities as a result of events in this life, deserve to die because their disabilities make them unable to pay their own way in the economic system.
10. I do NOT believe every family can afford to send their children to private schools. Neither do I believe those schools provide a better education than public schools. In fact, I believe many private schools also teach racism, religious zealotry, bigotry, misogyny, that women are inferior to men, and many other things best left in the 1800s.
11. I do believe the current Republican candidates do not care at all if someone can’t afford medical health insurance, and as a result, can’t obtain the medical care they need. Please note, there is a growing body count of people (human beings such as each of us) who are dying from treatable physical illnesses because they can not afford medical insurance in Republican controlled states. (Check the numbers in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, etc.)
12. I believe the literacy rate in the US will decline if any of the Republican candidates becomes President. I also believe the collective education level of the US population will decline if any of the Republican candidates becomes President.
For me, it’s not a simple black and white question, “Does the candidate stand against abortion, or not?” It is more a series of questions including, “How many people will die because of this candidate’s policies? How many people will live on the street because of this candidate’s policies? How many people will end up jailed, for mental health reasons, such as Major Depressive Disorder, Workplace Anxiety, and Social Behavior Disorder, because of this candidate’s policies?”
To those who say, “You vote for someone who is Pro Abortion, and you aren’t a Christian.”
If that’s what you believe defines a Christian, then I am not a Christian.
So be it.

#ThursThreads Week 193 : The Clock Is Running Out

Dr. Marcia Marie watched the endless motion of the second-hand on the old-fashioned clock on the wall of the lab. She’d insisted on that clock, with hour, minute, and second hands, forever going in circles. The endless motion added a sense of urgency to everything.

Her mind raced through countless images of plants and animals that used to exist. “Who knows how many are gone?” The second-hand moved from 45 to 46. “Is another species gone?”

She couldn’t focus on her work any longer. She had to take a break, rest her mind, feed her body, close her eyes for a little while, so she could continue her work. She already knew her body would shut down and get the rest it needed without her permission if she kept working. She knew she was human, mortal, unable to do the physically impossible.

She ground her teeth together, more out of habit and for stress relief than anything else. She’d broken a tooth last month, ground her teeth together so hard, it split down the middle. She’d had to take time off to have it fixed. She’d lost precious time.

The world, every human on it, every breathing, living person, needed what she and the others were working on. The mass extinction was happening, and without artificial food, no one would survive it.

She set the alarm on her watch for one hour from now, and rested her head on her desk. “The clock is running out.”

244 Words

I wrote this for Siobhan Muir‘s #ThursThreads, Week 193. Please go read all the entries in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are good reading.

#55WordChallenge : The Fence – Part 32

“The fence?” Taran waved dismissively, “Follow me, and I’ll show you.”

He led me back through the underground hallway, then through the greenhouse, to the streets outside, to an old church. Inside were several large monitors with live video feeds on them. “The animals monitor the fence, and call us when the Wraiths show up.”

This is Part 32 of the serial story I’m working on for Lisa McCourt Hollar‘s #55WordChallenge flash fiction challenge. Please, go read all the other entries in the challenge this week.

The entire story, from Part 32 to Part 1, is located here.

#FlashMobWrites Week 1×36 : Fanfare

You think I’m broken, wounded, bitter. All I ever say is negative, hard to hear. I know this. I’ve heard your words, the things you say when you think I’m not listening, when you think I can’t hear you.

“He’s so negative. Why do I bother to ask him anything?”

But, you don’t know. There are things I don’t speak of, don’t share, hide. Things I keep locked away from the world, so the world can’t reach them, can’t hurt them, can’t tear them apart, can’t rip them from my heart.

Like how I never got married. Yeah, I know, I’ve heard it all. I’ve heard them talk among themselves, “All he needs is to get laid.” What the fuck does that even mean? Does anybody know what that means? “All he needs is a woman,” like that says anything different. Like a woman would tame me, make me into a normal person.

I never got married for a reason. See. I never found her, never found who I’m looking for. You don’t know it, no one does. But it’s there, inside me. A dream I have of her.

I never got married, because I’m holding out for a dream I’ll never have. A dream of a woman whose hand I can hold. Whose magic laughter chases away the demons haunting me. The same demons that haunt those people who say “He just needs to get laid.” I know it’s the same demons. I can see those demons in them, in their eyes. Hear them in their voices, that fear of someone knowing too much, getting too close, finding out who you really are. Learning something about you they can use against you, they can manipulate you with.

Except for her.

That dream woman knows when I’m wounded, angry, frightened, frustrated from the events of my day. The stress of deadlines, of bosses demanding the impossible. She knows to put her hand on my shoulder, to whisper in my ear, “It’s OK. It’s OK.” She knows to show me I’m not alone, to remind me she’s there. To let me know it’s OK to feel everything, to feel trapped at my job, to feel angry about my work, and the silly deadlines, and the politics that happen there. To feel endlessly frustrated, because the misery never ends. She’s the one on whose shoulder I can cry. She’ll be my friend, my companion.

Why is everything always about sex? What is it with people? “He just needs to get laid.” Ha! That’s all wrong. I just need to find her.

And it works both ways, you know. She’ll be the dream woman I can hold when she’s wounded, when her heart aches, bleeds from the wounds this life carves into her soul. One I can carry when she’s too damaged by this world, this life, to walk on her own. To let her know she’s not alone. I’ll let her know it’s OK to feel everything. And I’ll be there when she needs me. I’ll be the one on whose shoulder she cries.

That’s why I never married.

I never found her.

But I haven’t given up. I’m still holding out for that dream. My dream. I know it’s every guy’s dream. To find that one person, that one friend. To find her. She’s out there, somewhere. All I can do until I find her is keep looking. And keep holding out, and dreaming.

I tried to write this for #FlashMobWrites 1×36, hosted by Ruth Long and Cara Michaels. But I couldn’t find the words, or the way to get them on the page in time. But not that I managed to find some of the words, and a way to get those few words on the page, I’m sharing it. Now, please, go read all the stories in for #FlashMobWrites 1×36. You might find something you like. But if you don’t read them, how will you ever know?