Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge : 2020/10/18 (Week 170)

I suppose it’s what I deserved, for looking in the mirror. Even though I knew what I’d see, I looked anyway. I saw all that was left of me. Not my body. Not my skin, hair, clothes. None of what people look in a mirror to see.

I saw a dead, rotting, wasteland. Dead trees reached to the sky, their long dead trunks covered in molds and lichens, their leaves, in a thick layer on the ground that was slowly turning to dirt.

It was silent. Dead silent. I couldn’t hear anything. No birds, animals, even water in a stream, or leaves rustling on the ground. There was no wind, no clouds, no life at all. It was all dead. Dead, and rotting, turning back to the dirt it came from.

It wasn’t easy to look, especially since I knew what I was looking at. My brain knew, and heard my own words, echoing endlessly. “There’s nothing left of me. Nothing but the fire. Nothing but the anger, the rage. Everything else has been lost.”

It was my soul, in that mirror. My heart. All of it, dead. Everything I’d been, everything we are when we’re born, every dream we have, ever hope, ever feeling, laughter, sorrow, pain, joy, smiles, tears, all of it. Gone. Dead. And turning back into the dirt it had come from.

“You know, I did try to explain to them. I tried to tell them. I even said, more than once, there are parts of me that are gone, and I don’t care who you are, those parts aren’t coming back. They’re gone.”

“Anger destroys everything.” I seriously considered throwing something hard, and heavy, at that mirror, shattering it into a million bits of glass. I didn’t. I knew. That would only be another image of what was left of me. Tiny shards of glass, scattered everywhere, waiting to cut up the bare feet that walked across them, waiting to sink into the fingers that tried to gather them up, and make the ground safe to walk on once again.

“Anger destroys everything.” I couldn’t even remember where I’d read those words.

That’s when I told the mirror, “It’s all I had. This world,” I looked around, even glanced out the window, “there was no other way I could be.”

Perhaps another man would have cried, mourned for the loss of his soul, felt the emptiness of the shell that was his body. But that wasn’t me. I’d mourned decades ago, when I realized I couldn’t survive in this world, that this world would drive me, little by little, day after day, into insanity.

“Well. At least I did my best with what I did have. At least I tried to do something positive, something good.”

There was an old phrase I’d learned, over 30 years ago, “Even doing the right thing, for the wrong reasons, is wrong.”

I still didn’t know how to respond to that thought. Was it wrong to take rage, anger, hatred, and do something positive with them? All because rage, anger, and hatred were wrong to start with?

“Wonder if I’ll ever learn an answer to that?” I asked the desolation in that mirror. “Or is it not possible for a destroyed soul to learn anything?”

546 words

Written in response to the prompt for week 170 of Miranda Kate‘s Mid-Week Challenge. You can learn about Miranda’s challenge here. The stories people share for the weekly challenge are always little works of art, crafted with words, meant to be shared, and enjoyed. Please go read them all.


#ThursThreads Week 221 : Who Bought It?

It is somewhat disconcerting the first time someone still living walks through you. It’s also a good clue that you’re dead, dead, dead. That, and looking down at your body with a big ass hole where your forehead used to be, and seeing the shredded remains of your brain.

Getting walked through was my fault, really. I was too busy staring at the mush inside my head to notice Freddy when he walked up, his gun still smoking, and looked down at my dead body. Lenny stood a few yards behind him, “See if he’s got anything in his wallet.”

Freddy laughed, and put his gun back in its holster, under his left arm. He straightened out his jacket. “Who bought it?” He looked at Lenny. “Who bought the farm?”

Lenny giggled, and pointed at my remains, “He did!”

Freddy grinned at my remains, “You should’ve known better, Billy boy. You should’ve known not to bang Mr. King’s daughter.” He bowed his head. “You had potential, you did. But you crossed a line in the sand, and Mr. King said to me, ‘Freddy, Freddy, Freddy. Make sure Lenny buys the farm tonight.’ And you know I do what Mr. King tells me.”

Lenny giggled again, “Who bought it? Billy bought it!”

The two of them shook their heads, and walked out of my bedroom, leaving me to stare at my dead body, and wonder, “What the heck do I do now?”

I saw the prompt for this week’s #ThursThreads challenge, and this strange idea just kinda popped into my brain cells, so I wrote it. It’s for week 221 of Siobhan Muir‘s #ThursThreads. Please go read all the entries in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are always fun to read.

A Tale Of Wrath : Stand Your Ground

“Take your gun with you. And a couple of spare clips.” I’d never forget Mom’s words, just like I’d never forget that day, when I changed forever.

I wanted to listen to a public speech by Diane Harris, the feminist. Mom tried to talk me out of it. “Son. There are nasty people in the world who try to stamp out what they don’t understand, what they are afraid of. They will be there, and they will try to stop her from talking.”

“I know, Mom. But I need to go. I need to show I support the free expression of thought. Besides, I like the things she says. She makes sense. I want to help her change the world.”

When she knew she couldn’t talk me out of it, she changed to Mother Hen mode, and started trying to protect me. “Take your gun with you.” She insisted on walking me to the front door, and watched me get in my car. “Be careful. Be safe.”

Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if she said, “Come home tonight.” I wouldn’t be surprised if she prayed, “God, bring my baby home safely.”

Everybody knew about the gun threats. “If Diane Harris gets to speak, there will be a massacre. We’ll kill everyone there.” It was one of those men’s groups. You know the type. “Men are superior. Women are subservient to men.” That kind of shit. Another group declared, “All you women, show up! We’ll take your picture, and hunt you down, and show you what women are for!”

Tommy, my best friend said he had to go. His girlfriend was going, and he had to try to keep her safe. Frank and Jimmy said the same thing. And my Dad told me, “You need to stand for something. Pick a side. Pick a cause. Pick something to believe in. And stand up for it.”

Yeah. I pretty much had to show up.

I patted my gun, under my jacket. Concealed, of course. Everyone had a concealed carry permit anymore. I’d never needed it. Never had to use it. But it made me feel safer knowing it was there, and I could defend myself if I needed to.

“Only an idiot would come here to shoot people,” I chuckled. With the Stand Your Ground law, everyone would probably be armed. If someone drew a gun, a dozen other guns would show up ready to shoot him.

And that’s exactly what happened.

First, one guy drew a gun. He shot the girl next to him. Of course, people pulled out their guns, to shoot him, and save themselves. He shot one of them, then another, They started shooting back. Yeah, they got him, and three or four people near him.

Then, a second guy drew his gun. And a third guy. I figure there were a dozen of them in the crowd, pulling guns, shooting at everyone. A guy in the row in front of me pulled out a friggin’ cannon. He pulled the trigger, and started mowing down everyone he saw, shooting merrily away.

So, I drew my gun. And the guy behind me shot me. In the back. “He’s got a gun too!”

It was hell on Earth. Bullets flew everywhere. People panicked. People ran. People died. Everybody screamed. It sounded like something out of a bad movie.

I don’t know how I’m still alive.

They tell me I was in the ICU for a week, no one knew if I’d wake up. They told me what happened. 56 people died. Yeah. 56. 109 wounded. I was one of the 109. Tommy and his girl were part of the 56. Jimmy was another part of the 109. He was recovering, but he’d lost his left arm. Got shot, fell down, got trampled. They couldn’t save it.

They tell me, with a little more technological advancement, I might learn to walk in a few years. Got shot in the back, remember. Spinal cord damage. My legs don’t work anymore. Oh, they’re alive. Blood flows through them just fine. But they don’t feel a damn thing, and I can’t wiggle my toes.

Mom cries every time she visits.

Dad tells me how proud he is, “You stood up for something you believed in! You’re a real man!”

Thanks Dad. Did I mention, I can’t feel my toes?

I keep hearing the numbers. 56 dead. 109 wounded.

The neighbors all sent get well cards. I hate them. Every card. I hate them. “Thank you for standing up for free speech!” “Get well soon!”

I keep thinking I should have gone to the beach instead of the speech. I’d have watched almost naked women in their tiny bikinis, and soaked up the sun. And maybe one of almost naked women would have asked me to spend the night with her. In her place. In her bed. With no clothes on. And I could have banged her.

Instead, I went to that damn speech.

A couple of police officers stopped by after I woke up. They asked me what happened. I told them. I asked them what happened. “It’s under investigation.” That’s all they said.

The nurses explained. No one got charged with anything. Except the first guy with a gun. He was dead, of course, but they’d charged him with instigating a riot. Everything that happened after he started firing was normal self-defense. No one got charged with anything. Even the guy that shot me in the back. “No hard feelings,” the nurses said, “He was only defending himself, standing his ground. It was just bad luck.”

Bad luck. He shot me in the back. I wasn’t looking at him. He drew his gun, and shot me. Crippled me. And he didn’t do anything wrong in the eyes of the law. Stand Your Ground, they call it. Defend yourself, and the people around you. Good, sensible law, ain’t it?

Did I mention I can’t wiggle my toes? I wonder sometimes. Do they itch?

The truth? Everyone went nuts. Everyone went crazy. And just started shooting. And they didn’t stop until they ran out of bullets. Yes, we defended ourselves. And we shot a lot of people defending ourselves. Most of them weren’t the bad guys. Most of them didn’t deserve to get shot.

I sure as hell didn’t.

Did I mention I can’t wiggle my toes? Hell, I can’t even reach the bottoms of my feet. For all I know, the nurses could have painted the blue.

56 dead. 109 wounded.

But we protected our right to free speech. And our right to bear arms. We defended ourselves. Yeah. We sure did that.

I wonder. If my toes itch, but I can’t feel them, do they still need to be scratched?

#55WordChallenge, Week 47 – The Fence, Part 5

A standard guardian base of two brick buildings was on the village’s southern end. The buildings’ windows were broken. Something was wrong. I searched each building. Eight dead guardians were inside. Their guns had been fired. They died fighting something. Outside, I found tracks through the grass. I drew my gun, and followed them.

This is the 5th part of the serial story I’m working on for Lisa McCourt Hollar‘s weekly #55WordChallenge flash fiction challenge. Please, go read all the other entries in the challenge this week. I find it amazing what gifted writers can say in just 55 words.

Bring The Rain

Why are you afraid of pain?
Why are you afraid of being hurt?
Of feeling sad.
Of crying tears.

Why are you afraid
That your heart will ache?
Of your soul’s tears?

Don’t you know?
Don’t you understand?
That’s a part of life.
Without it
We don’t grow.
We don’t change.
We don’t become
Who we are meant to be.

We become like the desert.

What would happen
If it never rained?
If there were never clouds
In the sky above?
If every day
Was the same?
A perfect summer day.

What would that be like?
Wouldn’t that get old?
Wouldn’t that become
A barren wasteland?
Devoid of anything
But sand?

Do you stay inside
When it’s cold?
When it snows?
Because it’s no fun at all
To be stuck outside
In the ice and snow.
It’s just damn cold.

Do you stay inside
When it rains?
So you don’t get wet.
Don’t get soaked
To the bone?

Does it bother you
When someone does not smile?
When someone around you
Or even cries?

Is the only thing you want
In your entire life
Sunny days,
And perfect skies?

Does it seem to you
That bad days never end?
Do they seem so awful
You find yourself doing
Anything you can
To avoid another one of them?

What are you afraid of?

It’s just a feeling.
Feeling sad.
Feeling hurt.
Feeling bad.
A feeling.
Nothing more.

Your heart still beats.
You can still breathe.

All you need
Is patience.
For if you wait
What you feel
Will change.

It always has.
It always will.

After the events I endured
Two years ago.
I know things change.
That no two days
Are ever quite the same.

Some days are beautiful.
Filled with sunshine,
And blue skies.
Other days are dark.
The sun hidden
By gray clouds,
And rain.

Is filled with change.

Is that what you’re afraid of?

I only ask because
I know that I once was.

But I’ve learned
That without change.
I’d become trapped.
In a dead-end life.
In a cold, dead world.
Where nothing mattered to me
Any more.

I’m not afraid of change

Bring the sunshine,
Because it’s a beautiful thing.
But also.
Bring the rain.

I want to live a whole life.
A full life.
I want to grow.
I want to change.
To become
Who I’m meant to be.

I don’t want a life
That never changes.
I’ve already had one of those.
I want a life that evolves.
A life that grows.
A life that makes me
Feel alive.

Not trapped
In a desert world.
Where every day’s
The same.
And nothing ever changes.

That’s why I say,
Bring the rain.