Thursday, September 30, 2010

Demon Days

Patience - 266 Words
Lindsey Thompson

I’m sitting outside the blanket, watching you breathe slowly and with much exhaustion hidden in the seams, and I smile despite myself. You sleep so peacefully, like there is no demand, no demon waiting to seize your time and mind when you wake. The bed creaks when I leave, but you continue to wander in dark slumber. I grab my things and begin the journey back to my town, my life, leaving ours behind with you in the bed. Two-year-old ghosts sing false melodies to me, promising me that I can escape, change course, turn this god-forsaken car around and…

…I don’t know. Continue pretending until it isn’t pretend anymore.

I’m still driving straight, frantically flipping through the radio stations, looking for something foreign and safe. Just something to get me to my life, my post, my job. Something until I can get busy and I get things done. Set my mind to motion and design and I’ll make it to the end of the day.

I just want to be home. I want to know where home is. I don’t want to be stuck sitting on a wooden bench in a concert hall listening to possibilities from pianos and your whispers over and over like the cries of a dog I’m leaving behind. I’m tired of maybes; I don’t have the patience to eat and drink and be merry acting like we’ll never see a day where we never see each other again, knowing that that day is bearing down on us with bared teeth and a menacing grin.

Why can’t you be home?

Back Broke - The Swell Season

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Wednesday Night Schedule

Schedule - 401
Sarah Van Name

1:15: I lie awake.

1:17: My roommate is quiet. She rarely moves, stretched out long and thin under her sheets, and I can’t even hear her breath – just the smooth hum of the fan, the blinds clicking in rhythm with wind, and the rain outside.

1:18: Music plays out on dark walls, shadows shift and speak. At the end, it blurs, stutters, and begins again. It’s a record that I have played so many times it makes me physically sick to hear it. Acid cuts and recuts itself inside my stomach. The scene pauses, begins again.

1:30: I am shaking, saltwater threatening to overrun the sideways canyons of my eye sockets, but too tired to scratch or bite, to turn sadness, worry, to fury. I don’t have the drive to hate myself for this.

1:44: The rain talks to me in Morse code and click language. It tells me a riddle: there are three answers to a question. One is impossible, one unfathomable, and the last is perfect. This question will answer itself, but you have to wait. You can’t answer this question. So what will you do while you wait?

2:02: The linoleum of the bathroom is cold and wet in places, rain or overzealous sinks having spread water in continent-shaped swathes across the floor. Here, I can hear more clearly the way the rain is hitting the leaves outside, the stone, the pavement, the distinct sound and echo of each. I swear I can hear it as it exits the sky. The light is pale, and my bruises stand out stark and sickly on my skin. I go back to my room.

2:04: I tuck my knees up to my chest and stare at my computer.

2:20: I get back in bed. Take the needle off the record. It is magnetically attracted to the disaster it prophesizes, tries to reach down and make me cry again. But I don’t let it. I make a deal and say, if you stop now, you can start again later, hurt me, yes, but later.

2:25: I wait.

2:48: I sleep.

That night I dream of morning, the world still swathed in the dark winter blue of an approaching storm. When I wake up, I am surprised to find the sky a mild grey, and the girls with their rain boots still walking through puddles like the downpour of last night meant nothing.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Backdoor (it's always in the kitchen)

Hostage - 377

Ben Azevedo

With a deft flick of his wrist, Vito tossed the bag of coins in the air. At the same time, he flicked the knife on his wrist into his hand and underhanded it at the guard captain. Brakus ducked in time, but the guard behind him wasn’t so lucky. The coins slammed into the second guard, distracting him. Vito whipped around and dove towards the kitchen.

“DAMMIT!” Brakus roared. He raced towards the kitchen after Vito.

The two guards recovered and followed suit. Unfortunately, the guard who had taken the knife underestimated the poison Vito used. He became slightly less recovered.

Vito vaulted a cart and slid past a row of chefs. He nearly lost his footing in a puddle, rolled, and recovered. Finally he found what he was looking for; a small grate in the corner of the kitchen. He kicked aside an empty crate, pulled the grate up, and dove feet first into the black.

Brakus burst into the kitchen and barreled through the cart. He slid around the corner just in time to see Vito’s cloak slip through the black hole in the floor.

Brakus cursed and punched a cabinet hard enough to leave a sizeable dent.

“You and Tiron follow him and…” Brakus turned to finish his statement. The single guard stared back. He sighed. “I guess it’s just you and I then, Veriticus.”

“Sir…should we tend to Tiron?”

“No…Vito’s no fool. Tiron is long gone.” Brakus sighed again, then pulled a battered transmitter out of his cloak.

“Sir, we lost him again. Got another drain to mark on the map.” Brakus waited.

The crackling voice that returned over the transmitter was deep and commanding.

“Mark it Brakus. Then return to the hunt. Remember, I need Vito as a hostage. I don’t care what it takes. Bring him to me.” The transmitter fell silent.

Brakus shook his head.

“That fool’s going to waste the entire security force on this. And for what? A scrawny street punk who runs cash for the gangs?”

Veriticus looked around the devastated kitchen, and noticed the now empty bar. “Maybe there is more to this than we know, sir. I think we should get out of here and find more men.”

“Let’s take care of Tiron,” Brakus replied.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Help - 68 words
Lindsey Thompson

A year ago, I walked into a pub on a Sunday evening, ordered a whiskey sour, and sat down at the bar next to a man, simply dressed, nursing a glass of wine. I told him God wouldn’t forgive him drinking on Sunday, even wine. He shrugged, whispered, “What if I am God?” I laughed, asked why he was drinking alone. “No one wanted My help,” he said.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Dancing Girl

Without - 92 words
Sarah Van Name

in the smoke of Friday night
you move with the motion of water from a backyard spigot.
your skin is lace, through which I note
the silk slip of your blood. red your lips.
flushed your cheeks.

you are rooted to the center of the earth,
smoke moves between the tall grass
of your eyelashes.

and the drums pound and sway,
hold out empty hands – empty, eager for you
to fill. but your secrets are your own,
the things without which, like fire
and oxygen, you would be unable
to draw breath.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Dangerous Situations

Becomes - 100

Ben Azevedo

Chapter 5

Vito twirled with the rough hand and slid to the opposite end of his corner bench, his hands raised. He smiled his most winning grin.

“Brakus, so nice to see you,” he drawled, “I really thought we were past all this…” Vito made a pouch of gold materialize and dangled it enticingly at the guards. He stood.

Brakus scowled deeper and advanced towards Vito, moving his hand to his sword. Vito was displeased. This was becoming a dangerous situation.

“You think that little sack can make up for all the times you’ve caused me TROUBLE?!”

Vito shrugged, “I hope so.”

Thursday, September 16, 2010


Involved - 266 Words
Lindsey Thompson

She told me not to get involved. She warned me, pleaded with me, to just drop it. She could handle it, she said.

She should know that I never listen.

It’s in my nature to pursue leads, find secrets, uncover agendas, and bring the scum out of the shadows and into the limelight. I’m no hero for justice; don’t get me wrong there. I’m no do-gooder, no cop, no detective…well, not a legal one anyway. It’s about the challenge, about the game. I’m in it for the hunt, for the kill, for the thrill of the metaphoric blood on my hypothetical fangs. That these villains chose my girlfriend as a target is just icing on the cake, an unfortunate addition to my haste and the fury of my vengeance.

It starts with some basic internet searches, for vague outlines, scanning for screaming details of motive. They are easy enough to find; three clicks and I’m staring at the pixilated photograph of two of her former coworkers. Bingo. These two look just sleazy enough to frame her for larceny and grab the credit for her breakthrough discovery, and yet just professional enough that no one would question their ability to produce real results. I smile and crack my knuckles, then go to work.

In minutes I’ve secured connections to their personal email addresses. In a couple of hours, I have hacked into their personal computers (Windows, what a joke). The communications are there, the files, her data, even a couple of pictures pre-editing. They were stupid to keep those. I cannot wait to make their lives hell.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


chuckles - 94 words
Kevin Foster

In the second year of his collegiate career, he finally accepted and even embraced the uncomplimentary nickname that had haunted him since boyhood – Chuckles. Despite repeated assurance that the moniker was not, in fact, an insulting understatement of his excessively boisterous, who-the-fuck-is-that-guy laugh but a celebration of the pure joy it conveyed. Plus, something about Chuckles implies child-like fatness, and maybe a little bitty mustache. And he was obese and when he laughed his face undulated percussively, his cheeks increasingly flushed, altogether not unlike a double batch of strawberry jell-o freed of its bowl.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Punch - 310

Sarah Van Name

A woman sings in the renovated church. Her hands are folded in front of her, and her skinny chest is the bearer of a voice that made its premier just after the Great Depression – low, rich, and mournful.

The people she sings of are the orphaned children of fast-running rivers and soil, grown up in the tall grass having buried their love like dead birds in shoeboxes deep underground. They bear children who are themselves orphaned, cut open and educated by the greening expanse of the tornado sky. They understand the feel of both goose feathers and shattered beer bottles.

The day her song was written went something like this:

Edward woke up shirtless and sweating, his pillow crushed underneath him. The air was white and wavered with heat like a woman about to faint. He spent the morning playing marbles with the other boys in a cleared circle of dirt.

At noon, his mother was too busy to make him lunch and he too lazy, so when Anna Mae Richardson walked by, there was already something twisting in his stomach. She smoothed her dress and sat down on the porch steps.

She’d been watching for a while, chin resting in her hands, when Billy Tull got up from the circle and sat down next to her. She placed her head on his shoulder with the same careful precision with which one might move a chess piece for checkmate.

The evening drew on, and when the dinner bell rang Anna Mae kissed Billy on the cheek and walked away down the road. Billy turned to the group with a smile on his face loud as the bell itself, and Edward punched him.

And in this way, on this day, Edward learned about love, broken teeth, and the power of human hunger. This was the song I heard the woman sing.

The Cave - Mumford and Sons

Friday, September 10, 2010

Like a Pufferfish Bouncyball

Horses - 363
Ben Azevedo

The ship itself was a gleaming shard of metal in the hangar. Odd fins and wings stuck out all across the hull, giving the overall impression of a rather unbalanced puffer fish. There were no visible windows, exhaust, or breaks in the metal exterior, but as Miles approached, a door in the side slid open with a hiss.

Jonesy gave one last sigh and darted into the dark portal. Miles shrugged and followed suit. Inside, Jonesy was strapping himself into a heavily padded seat facing a large bank of displays. He gestured to a second seat.

“How does this thing fly anyway?” Miles asked.

“Well, the basic principle is…it doesn’t.” Miles shrugged.

“That’s reassuring. So how does it work?”

“The fins on the outside are completely mobile. The onboard computer uses them to sort of…steer. I modified them to absorb the electrical currents within the storms, and increase efficiency while reducing danger. The ship senses directional currents in the wind and manipulates the fins to increase the likelihood that we reach our destination.”

“Wait, ‘increase the likelihood?!’”

“Yeah well, nothing is certain in these conditions. A simple jet engine would waste too much fuel fighting the wind currents, so we have to use them. They’re obviously uncontrollable, so we basically float around like a seed on the wind until we get there.”

“A seed. On the wind. A seed…” Miles just stared at Jonesy.

“Well, more like a bouncy ball with a rocket strapped to it, but yeah.” Jonesy smiled at the look on Miles’ face. He continued, “That’s why you’re strapped in so tight, and why the inside of this ship is padded. The Geo Grounding system will keep us from crashing into anything, and will do its best to keep the ship oriented properly. I went ahead and overrode priority to destination though, since you’re in a hurry.”

“So…we may be upside down?” Miles’ face was pale.

“Almost certainly.” Jonesy was nearly giggling with glee.

“I’m moving back to the Plains after this,” groaned Miles, “at least they just ride damn horses there. I’d take a smelly old horse over this any day.”

Jonesy flipped a switch and started the ship.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Cat-and-Hats Lady

Hats - 196 Words
Lindsey Thompson

Mrs. Everson had a strange habit, as most middle-aged-nearing-old-aged women do who live alone with three dogs and a kitten. And, as is the case with most habit-ridden older women, it was a collection. With each morning, she would feed her dogs, cuddle with her kitten, try to call her son and daughter-in-law (who would pretend to be too busy or not awake yet but who had one child in kindergarten so they really should answer the phone when grandma calls because she knows they are awake and both work from home), and then grab a hat and be out the door.

Now, none of this seems strange, until you watched her grab her hat. For Mrs. Everson owned no less than 137 hats. Her spare bedroom was a monument to her collection, with three hat stands filled and hangers on the wall for her prized pieces. Her hats were not cheap, either. One of them was Charlie Chaplain’s back-up hat (just as prestigious, she argues, but much less expensive), and another was the fifth fedora ever produced. Make fun of her hats, and you would never again receive a tasty, barely-legal gingerbread cookies.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Stroller - 42 words
Sarah Van Name

This summer, my neighbor, the one closest to me in age, got married. Soon she will be a beautiful and worried mother wheeling a double stroller. We used to make snowmen together, so this growing up seems too sudden, an unseasonable storm.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Bucket o' Bolts

Discuss - 271
Ben Azevedo

Jonesy knew this was the end of the discussion. With a reluctant sigh he punched the button for the lift on the wall. It arrived a few moments later, and the pair began their descent.

Most of the buildings in New Chicago had large underground facilities, as very little could be built at ground level without risk to it being blown down. The parking garage was one such facility. It spanned a rough rectangle beneath the arch, and consisted of ten floors of vehicle storage. Jonesy’s ship, Tracy, was considered an airborne transport, so it was housed on the fifth subfloor.

They stepped out of the lift and began to walk. After a few minutes Jonesy came to a stop.

Miles whistled quietly. The sound reverberated through the massive chamber.

“Damn Jonesy, I though you said she was getting old.”

“Well I’ve been making…upgrades…along the way.” He smirked.

Miles raised an eyebrow and glanced at Jonesy, but decided he didn’t need to know about Tracy’s “upgrades”. They walked to the boarding ramp.

Tracy was an EMG craft, which meant that she operated primarily through electromagnetic power. The “G” stood for “Geo-Grounding”. This allowed the ship to maintain a relative position to the ground no matter how much it was thrown around. Miles suddenly realized Jonesy was talking.

“…which basically means she can take a hit from a lightning bolt, and…”

“Wait, what?” Miles interrupted.

“I was saying I modified the Electromagnetic pulse engine to absorb and convert the electricity from a lightning bolt. Tracy will actually attract bolts from the storm as we fly, and absorb them to power our flight.”

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Interview Number 13

Lively - 210 Words
Lindsey Thompson

I don’t have a lot to say about Kathleen. I mean, yes, we went to the same school since kindergarten, and she seemed like a normal kid. She was…lively, that’s the word. She was full to bursting with perfect childlike wonder and energy. She was a magnet for the downtrodden people of elementary school. I was a fairly average kid, with my own group of friends and few hard times, so I was rarely around her.

There was this one moment, in the third grade, when I had just found out that my parents were getting a divorce. I was crying, and a couple other boys were making fun of me, and one of them punched me in the eye. Suddenly there was Kathleen, big as a mother bear and angrier than I’d ever seen her. Chided, the boys moved off to other victims, and she wiped the tears from my eyes. All the pain from the punch was gone, and there was never any swelling. I asked her how she did it, and she grinned mischievously and whispered, “I’m an angel. But don’t tell!” Then she skipped away. I didn’t really speak to her much after that. Still regret it.

Everyone at her funeral had a story like that.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


Weight - 386 words
Kevin Foster



Oh god, what’s wrong now?

Do you just assume that every time I call, something’s wrong?

Yes, yes I do. Because every time you call, something is wrong.

Oh come on, no need to exaggerate.

Fine. What’s going on?

There’s something I needed to talk to you about.

Jesus Christ.

He got very tired of these phone calls. Though he prided himself on the quality of his friendships, his loyalty and sacrificial instincts, he became conditioned to cringe when she called, let her small problems lose steam against the formality of his voicemail, not necessarily with the intent to screen her phone call but just weed out the small stuff, and certainly not because he didn’t like to hear her voice as it still had the mystical effect of making him very hungry and slightly nauseous and for some reason he liked this feeling. Despite that, he still got very tired of these phone calls.

I don’t exactly remember how it all happened, honestly. God it sounds so stupid but we had just met and were dancing and he was charming – I, I think it was his teeth – and next thing I know the music was far away, just faint vibrations in the floor – it must have been his teeth, I’m a sucker for teeth, you know - God I know I shouldn’t make light like that but… Well, know that his teeth changed and he wasn’t smiling anymore, not charming at all, but I guess he didn’t need charm at that point. There was nothing I could do.


I’m sorry.

No. Don’t be sorry.

Well I am.

You can’t say anything. It happened at the end of last semester. It’s been too long.

He’s a really nice guy, otherwise, you know – I avoid him now, mostly, but he wasn’t like as malicious as you would think.


What can I do?

Well. I guess, nothing. I just needed to tell you.

Anyway, I’ve got to run. It’s Sara’s birthday, we’re going out, just the girls tonight. I’ll see you over the holidays, huh?

Yeah, sure. See ya.

And feeling a little more weight than he did when he answered the phone, not knowing exactly what else to do, he hung up the phone and got back to work.