Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge : 2018/01/28

Marty took the pill, washed it down with his whiskey. Kept drinking the whiskey until it burned. “Ah, yeah!” He closed his eyes, and waited, even though he knew, when he closed his eyes, his mind wandered. And he thought of things. Things he kept trying to forget. Like the rent payment. The car payment. The credit card payment. The power payment. The grocery bill. The list was endless. “Fuck, they’ll charge you to breathe before you know it.”

Sometimes, Marty thought about what he was doing. Washing down an unknown, undefined chemical concoction he bought with his last $10 bill, with the contents of his last bottle of whiskey. “Pills and whiskey never mix, right?”

It was OK, though. It was OK. Because. The whiskey burned on the way down. It gave him something to focus on, standing up to the burn. Seeing how much he could take. The first time he’d tried, he managed one swallow, and almost choked. Now, he could drain almost half a bottle in one shot.

“Lord, kill me now,” he thought for the billionth time. “Just kill me, and set me free.” His eyes still closed, he tried to detect the change in his feelings, in the things he felt, the whiskey and drug would bring. It only took a minute. Maybe two. Before he felt that flush, that sudden rush, like every nerve in his skin had come to life. Like he could feel the wind blowing, the sun shining on his face, the heat of the concrete sidewalk through his shoes.

Instead of being numb. Instead of wishing the ache in his head would stop. That ache nothing could ever kill. Except the whiskey and the pills. Instead of feeling empty, like he was waiting for his body to die, so he could stop worrying about everything.

Instead of feeling like his guts were twisting around a pole wrapped in barbed wire, as he bit his tongue so hard he drew blood again, so he didn’t say anything to the boss. As he nodded, and lied, “I’m on it.” As he did whatever he had to do to hang on to his job. “I’ll stay here until it’s done.”

Gods, he hated those words. That meant he’d be there hours. Sometimes all night. Getting the work done. Doing what he had to do to keep his job. Calling home and telling his wife, “I’ve got to work late.” Listening to her bitch and moan about it. Funny how she didn’t care about anything but the money he made. Take away her house, her car, and she’d leave him.

Everything was money. Everything was that damn job.

Marty knew he was a walking dead man. One with no dreams. No hopes. No laughter. Only pain. Only emptiness. Like the guy at work who died in the car wreck. Marty worked next to him for six years. Then one day, he was dead. A week later, someone else was working next to Marty. Just another human resource. Another person who’d do whatever it took to hang on to the job.

“Enough thinking,” Marty opened his eyes. It was time to enjoy the escape. The precious moments of time where he would be free from everything.

“Woah, dude…” He almost lost his balance. Everything was wavy. The street wasn’t flat. It looked more like corrugated cardboard. The buildings too. And the cars. And the people. “This is so cool.”

He slowly walked along the sidewalk, careful not to bump into anyone. Not to step off the curb, into the street. The distraction was exactly what he needed. He knew, as long as it lasted, he wouldn’t think about anything, feel anything. All the shit in life would stay away from him.

Until it faded.

Until he needed another pill, and another shot of whiskey. To escape the hell of life once more. “Maybe one day I’ll get lucky. And this will kill me.” He knew he wouldn’t mind being dead. At least he’d be free.

670 words
@mysoulstears


Miranda Kate‘s weekly short fiction challenge is in it’s 39th week. You can read about her small fiction challenge here. This week, I knew what I wanted to say. Don’t know if I said it, but at least I tried. Please, go read Miranda’s short tale this week, and any others that showed up. The tales are always little works of art, crafted with words, meant to be shared, and enjoyed. And many of them are amazing.

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#ThursThreads Week 300 : You Should Come With A Warning Sound

“AR-15s.” I almost chuckled. “Bet they don’t know how to use them effectively.” It was mostly white men, walking around after dark, in armed groups. “Looking for me, aren’t you boys.” They always showed up, with their guns, to take back their neighborhood, or town, and make it safe again. “Perhaps I should show them the hatred they breed.”

I went to Samantha’s home knowing what I’d find. It was in flames. No fire alarms, no emergency services. A gang of white men congratulating themselves. “Little bitch brought nothing but shame and destruction to our town! We’ll show her! Drive them out of town! Make them leave, and go somewhere else! Where we can be safe!”

I recorded every name, and face. I wondered how they would react to the destruction of their homes. “Don’t understand war at all.” I moved on, knowing I had more information to gather.

As more white men went stupid, the police got out of the way and let them. I recorded the names and faces of each man as they destroyed the apartments Michelle and Julia once lived in. They tore down the walls, broke the windows, pulled the cabinets off the walls, and burned the furniture in the street. “Boys, boys, boys. You should come with a warning sound.” I could imagine it, “Run for your lives, the white guys are coming!”

It happened all over town. I recorded every name, and ever face. “Gonna be a busy couple of days.”

248 Words
@mysoulstears


Yet another part of the ongoing Armor 17 story. It’s Week 300 of #ThursThreads, hosted by Siobhan Muir. Please go read all the entries in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are always fun to read. And there are some great writers who turn out weekly.

Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge : 2018/01/21

This used to be an island, you know. Yep. Less than 24 hours ago. About ninety miles off the coast of Florida. I know. This is my home. You look at it now, and you can’t believe anything was ever here. Houses, roads, boats, piers, and even two restaurants, and a small hotel.

This used to be an island. My house used to be here, where I’m standing. Next to this damn chair. The clothes I’m wearing, and the chair are all I have left. I don’t know where anything else is. Where it went. Other than eastward somewhere.

What happened? The wave. That’s what happened. The wave. The whacko scientist types, they warned us about the wave. “If the side of the La Palma island breaks away and slides into the ocean, it’s gonna be bad!” That’s what they said. “A disaster for the entire East Coast of the United States, and for Europe.” That’s what they said.

So we kept building along the east coast, and on the islands. Because. Insane scientists. Mad scientists. Hell, we even ran computer simulations of the collapse, to see what would happen, and all the simulations said was, “rough surf on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.” So, we all ignored the insane warning.

Until a wall of water 150 feet high crossed the island. Damn thing was over three times as tall as my house. Three times!

Washed everything away. I mean everything. Even the hills, and the dunes, and the trees. All of it, gone. If I stand here, next to my chair and carefully look around, I can see a few things sticking out of the water. Like the top of a mast from Julians sailboat. About three feet of it. Sticking up out of the water.

Who knew a freaking wave could wash away an entire island?

I’ve been looking around a lot. Trying to see if anyone’s left. If anything’s left. I can remember it was about 3:30 in the morning. Still pitch black dark outside. No one on the island ran lights at night. We didn’t need them. 3:30 is when Julian banged on my room window. He punched right through it, actually. Made a hell of a mess, and woke me up. “Julian! What the fuck?”

“It’s happened, Tom! It’s happened!”

I remember I stared at him like he’d lost his mind. “What’s happened.”

“The side of La Palma. It came off.”

“You want me to join you on the beach, to watch the waves?”

Julian held up his cell phone, and turned the volume to max. “…tional Weather Service emergency bulletin! Ocean sensors off the East Coast all indicate a tidal wave is heading inland. The wave is moving at approximately 460 knots, with a twenty foot swell. When it reaches land, it’s expected to crest at 135 feet. If at all possible, get to high ground, get to a boat, or get inland. The wave is expected to reach the coastline at 04:01 this morning. I repeat…”

Julian was shaking like a leaf, “Tom! We’re 90 miles off the coast! That wave will be here in a few minutes!”

I remember standing there. Empty. Unable to think of anything. Except, perhaps, “Oh, God! Oh, God! We’re all gonna die!”

“Get to the pier! Get your boat. Get to the open water! Now, Tom! Now!”

The swell wasn’t so bad. My little boat, with it’s little motor, went right over it. It was dark as hell. I couldn’t see anything. Except an arch of white where the island was. I didn’t hear anything, but a roar, like water in a big pipe. Then, dead silence.

After the sun came up, I decided to head back to the pier.

I never did find it. I had to drop anchor. Left my boat a couple hundred feet from here.

I have no idea why the only thing left is that damn chair. Sticking up out of the water. Everything else is gone. All of it. Gone.

662 Words
@mysoulstears


Miranda Kate‘s weekly short fiction challenge is in it’s 38th week. You can read about her small fiction challenge here. As usual, when I started writing, I had no idea what would happen next. Please, go read Miranda’s short tale this week, and any others that showed up. The tales are always little works of art, crafted with words, meant to be shared, and enjoyed. And many of them are amazing.

Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge : 2018/01/14

I looked at my frozen phone, “No chance of snow my ass!” Then I heaved that sucker hard as I could, sending it through the trees to be lost forever in the fucking ocean of snow that was everywhere. “And they call you a smartphone!”

If the damn thing had been useful, I could have tried to connect to the network, and get a map of where I was, and guidance on how to get back. But, no. Thing had been frozen solid. Screen had cracked. Covered in frost. Memory card fell right out of it. Even if the thing could have powered on, with the damage to the screen, it would have been useless. Wasn’t insured either.

“Son of a bitch!” I stomped my boot covered feet on the ground, compacting the snow I was standing on. Of course, since that snow was on big damn rocks, after a couple of stamps, it turned slicker than wet glass, and down I went, face first into the snow.

It was one of those moments where I tried to scream, but had forgotten how my voice worked, so when I did scream, no sound came out. And I thought, “You want a piece of me! You want a fucking piece of me!” and made a snow angel. Flapped my arms and legs while I was face down on the rocks. “I’ll show you! Take that, you… You…” And I screamed without sound again, scooped up snow in my ice cold hands, packed it into snowballs, and threw that at the trees.

All I knew was it was umpteen miles to my car. Umpteen miles on a path I couldn’t see anymore, because of the snow that was everywhere.

“Why don’t you go to the little cabin in the woods, hon?” That’s what she’d asked. “I know you need to get away. Relax. Escape work, and everything. It’s OK. I won’t mind. So, why don’t you go?”

“It’s fucking January, that’s why!” I had these visions of me being trapped in a tiny 10 by 10 room, with no fireplace, a rinky-dink kerosene powered heater, a mini flashlight that fit on my key-chain, and no extra batteries for it. With the whole thing under 85 feet of show, unable to leave. “I’ll get snowed in, and freeze to death!”

“No, dear. You won’t. See?” She’d brought up the weather map. It had been perfect. 0% chance of snow. Temp in the high 20s at night, and in the low 50s during the day. “I think the trip would be perfect for you.”

I had to admit she was right. I knew getting away from everything for a weekend would be perfect. No phone calls. No TV. No fucking news. My god, the news. Almost wanted to take a couple of Lorazepam just to watch that. And wash them down with half a bottle of Jack Black. “Fucking news.”

Work had gone to hell. They’d laid off a third of everybody. Everyone I had eaten lunch with was gone. I’d tried to cheer them up. “It could have been me, you know. Just the luck of the draw.”

They all came back and said, “No. They won’t ever lay you off. You know that.”

It sucked, to see so many people go. And to have to work extra every day, to make up the slack, and meet the deadlines.

And the news. God, the news. I just knew that fucking idiot they’d elected President was gonna get us all blown to hell, nothing left but glowing, radioactive embers for 10,000 years.

So, she talked me into it. I’d got home Friday afternoon, threw my bag in my car, drove the to parking lot, and hiked to the cabin. At least, we called it the cabin. It had been a beautiful hike. Quiet. I could hear the water from the stream that went past the cabin, all night. No birds, though. It was winter. They’d flown south.

Not one snowflake when I went to sleep.

I woke up nine hours later, and found inches of frozen, fluffy, white water piled everywhere. Tree limbs were down. The path was blocked by them, and by limbs that hung all the way to the ground.

“Hell.” There wasn’t much I could do. Except go back to the cabin, and hope it warmed up enough the snow melted before I ran out of potato chips and beer. I hadn’t exactly packed for being trapped.

“Fucking snow!”

I wondered, “If I can find my way to the car, will I even be able to move it?”

It was going to be a long day.

770 Words
@mysoulstears


Miranda Kate‘s weekly short fiction challenge is in it’s 37th week. You can read about her small fiction challenge here. As usual, when I started writing, I had no idea what would happen next. Please, go read Miranda’s short tale this week, and any others that showed up. The tales are always little works of art, crafted with words, meant to be shared, and enjoyed. And many of them are amazing.

#ThursThreads Week 298 : Come On, Smile

After the incident with Julia, and the ensuing arrests of damn near everyone who knew her, I knew it was time to visit the city jail. “Where they’ve put everyone for safe keeping. Right.” I started by locating Samantha and her family. They’d isolated Samantha from her parents. Of course, her parents were kept in separate, gender based areas.

Four officers of the law entered the men’s holding cell, found Samantha’s father, promptly broke four of his ribs, and bruised several of his internal organs, and declared he shouldn’t have put up a fight, then drug him off.

I watched as four officers entered the women’s holding cell, found Samantha’s mother, and drug her off.

Samantha and two officers were in a locked questioning room, while four officers watched the video feed from that room. I watched as they threw Samantha against the wall, broke her jaw, and nose, and busted her lips, before stripping her, and proceeding to whip her with their belts. “Tell us what we want to know!”
I imagine they were a touch confused when the door to the room exploded inward, and a voice said, “Come on, smile for the news feed,” and something invisible broke the neck of one, and the back of the other. Those watching the video feed were surprised when, seconds later, they suffered similar fates.

I found the father being beaten, and the mother being raped. More officers breathed their last breaths.

“I warned you.”

245 Words
@mysoulstears


Yet another part of the ongoing Armor 17 story. It’s Week 298 of #ThursThreads, hosted by Siobhan Muir. Please go read all the entries in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are always fun to read.

Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge : 2018/01/07

Willie stood in the rain, and stared at the rose bloom. He wished everyone could see his smile, and could look at the rose, the perfect shade of red, the perfect velvet petals, and the exquisite drops of water that decorated them.

“No one takes the time anymore, do they?” He sadly shook his head, took a deep breath, sighed, and stared at the rose once more. “They never look. Except in perfect weather.”

He remembered the words of so many others. People he’d once respected. People he still perhaps respected. But people who were, he knew, lost. Consumed by things they couldn’t even see.

“Rob told me not to care.” Willie smiled at the flower. He didn’t touch it. That would have disturbed the water patterns on the petals. He wanted it to remain perfect, like it was. “You can’t afford to care, Willie.” Then, he almost laughed, “Can’t afford to care? My God, Rob? Aren’t we still humans? Isn’t caring what we do? Isn’t that how friends feel about each other?”

The rain had soaked through his shirt long ago, leaving it stuck to his body. It held all the water it could, and all the water being added forced water off the ends of the sleeves, and off the bottom, onto his pants. Which were also soaked. When he moved, his shoes and socks squished.

Willie spoke to the perfect rose, “I used to do this, a long time ago. When I was a kid, you know. Walk in the rain. Play in the rain.” He looked around, watched the rain fall from the sky, watched the drops make their individual splashes in the puddles that had formed. Listened to the drops rustle the leaves in the garden. “I used to love standing in the rain, to see how it washed the dust, and dirt, away. And made everything clean again.” He spoke to the rose again, “But, somewhere, somehow, I lost all that.”

It was true, he knew. “It’s this world we’ve made, isn’t it. A world of money, and possessions. Of supply and demand.” He nodded at the rose. “Where what we feel isn’t real anymore. And all that matters is what we do. Who we are. How much we make. Who we know.”

Willie watched the water drip from the rose, he tracked drops as they fell, all the way to the ground. He found it fascinating how the mind worked. How he moved his eyes, to stay focused on the drops, and how the background moved, but the drops didn’t.

“What happened to us?” He asked, though he knew. He knew too well. Success is what happened. Own your own home. Your own car. Your own boat. Televisions, radios, stereos, books, computers, all of it. Own everything you could ever want. That’s what it was all about. That’s what everyone learned. What everyone taught. “My parents taught me. Their parents taught them.”

And there he was. Standing in the rain. In a rose garden. Staring at a perfect red velvet rose, decorated with tiny drops of water. Talking to it, no less. Like he’d done when he was a child, fifty years ago.

“We’ve forgotten how to live, haven’t we?”

Willie heard Rob’s voice, “You can’t afford to care!”

“When did we stop being human, Rob? What happened to us? When did our hearts turn to stone?”

He stood in the rain, and watched the rose until the rain stopped. Because. He knew he’d never get another chance to see that rose bloom, in the rain again. He wanted to remember it forever. To never forget it.

He wanted to remember what it meant to be alive.

614 words
@mysoulstears


Miranda Kate‘s weekly short fiction challenge is in it’s 36th week. I’ve missed a few weeks. November and December was not kind to me. But, I’m recovering now.

You can read about her small fiction challenge here. I sat down to write, not knowing what would happen. I’m glad I gave myself the chance to find some words. Please, go read Miranda’s short tale this week, and any others that showed up. The tales are always little works of art, crafted with words, meant to be shared, and enjoyed. And many of them are amazing.