A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes – Elysabeth Williams

BethA crescendo of the orchestra’s waltz caused her to close her eyes and tilt her head, allowing the waves of bliss wash over in pounding heartbeats and goosebumps. The prince’s warm hand on her back only added to it — the tingling excitement radiated through her limbs, up her torso and straight to her heart. She smiled, eyes still shut, unwilling to break the imaginary spell. She knew waking would be inevitable. This dream would come to pass.  Just one more moment…  Unwilling to succumb to reality, she stepped closer to him in their next dance turn, their bodies almost touching wantonly.

The prince did not seem to mind, she thought with a smile. He kept his left hand firmly positioned, hovering just above her behind — his right, clasped hers tightly as they spun around the ballroom once more. Dizziness almost overtook her, but the prince tightened his hold on her back, pressing them together even more. The song slowed, and they swayed to the gentle violins and flutes. She opened her eyes to see the prince smiling down at her. They slowly turned once again. Only because the cool night breeze brushed her shoulders did she realize they were now out a side door of the palace, away from the rest of the ball. The brisk air caused her to gasp, and the prince descended upon her mouth with a kiss before she had time to recover. Refusal wasn’t on her mind. Tonight would be everything she’d ever dreamed of.

It hadn’t started as magically as this, she recalled with a pang. She pushed the meddling thought from her mind as she ran her fingers through the prince’s hair and behind his neck. The memory of her meddling stepsisters and her cruel stepmother’s voice cracked her fragile euphoria. You cannot go to the ball! Only the most important ladies of the realm shall be privy to the invitation! You’re merely a maid. A servant! A nothing! A Nobody! Mummy said sure you can go to the ball if you finish your chores! Now make the fire, fix breakfast, wash the dishes, do the mopping! You’ll never finish in time!

But she had shown them. Able to finish the chores and restore a gown befitting to any pretty lady in the village, she’d twirled in front of the dingy mirror, with mere hopes she’d be able to stand in the ballroom near the prince, much less be greeted by him or … this…

In a blink, her mind raced with memory of her mother’s favorite gown being torn and destroyed by the two shrews. Her dreams had been dashed once more. Her sisters had burst into the room and ruined the small fire of hope she’d kindled, in uproarious cackles. Their laughter had snapped something deep inside of her mind, her soul. The two harpies pushed her to the ground and left as she cried into the heaps of faded taffeta, toile and ribbon.

She shook her head in attempt to scatter the insidious laughter and stepped away from the prince, out of breath.

“What’s amiss, my dear?” he asked – voice full of concern.

Wiping a stray tear that dared to escape, she turned away so he was unable to see. “Nothing, Your Royal Highness,” she managed, without choking on the words. “I’ve had a trying day and it’s ending so well.”

“I had hoped it wasn’t my kissing abilities that caused your tears,” he said with a chuckle.

His laughter was infectious and she found a giggle bubbling. The idea of his kiss being anything less than dreamlike was simply comical. Her entire life was based upon sorrow and longing and he negated that. The hole in her heart had been filled with the warmth of his presence. The tiny giggle turned into a full-fledged laugh. Unable to control herself, she flung herself back into his awaiting arms. The prince wrapped his arms around her and pulled her close. The warmth of his body singed the leftovers of the night’s terrible beginning.

“I was fearful my dream would end.”

“Never, my dear. I shall hold you until the end of time… you are safe here with me… you’ll never have to wake up, my love, my princess… my…

 

“Cinderella! Cinderella! You despicable, vile, evil, wretch! What have you done?”

The screams of the haggard woman didn’t faze the wide-eyed girl in the floor, rocking back and forth. Blood trickled out of the stone fireplace to the matron’s right, and crept closer to her leather shoes. She sidestepped away from it, screeching anew as she focused on the blood’s origin. Two bodies of her daughters were flickering in the flame’s glow, their faces contorted in horror. A ribbon sash was tied around one’s throat, complete with a garish bow tied at her chin. The other sister dangled from a rafter, having been hanged with corset cord. Cinderella clutched the tattered remnants of the dress before her and smiled. “A dream is a wish your heart makes…”

~~~~~

 

Elysabeth Williams is an author and writer of romance, paranormal, steampunk, fantasy and probably more things later if the mood strikes her. She enjoys coffee, dancing to embarrass her kids, and being snarky online. She lives with her family in Georgia.

For more information about Elysabeth and available books, visit her website at www.elysabethwilliams.com – follow her on Twitter @ElysabethW or stalk her on Facebook

Side Effect – Jordan Drew

Jordan The flashing blue lights invaded her living room, making it impossible for her to watch her show. So, she stood at the window, trying to stay out of the way as people waltzed in and out of her house like they owned the place. They no longer bothered to knock, or ask permission. She guessed it was okay. The house was no longer her own anyway. Not really. Not after it was attacked by a monster she used to call her husband. No, this house now belonged to them. The cops and the flashing blue lights.

Her neighbors stood outside on their front porches and in the streets, watching intently with meddlesome expressions, asking anyone who walked by if they knew what was going on. She hated them. She wished they would mind their own business, but in the same vein, she knew if one of their husbands went rabid and killed his son for dropping a gallon of milk, she’d be on her porch or in the middle of the street too. She hated them, but she didn’t blame them.

“Sandra?” A pretty little officer called her name. She was young, and not from around there.

“I don’t know what happened,” she repeated for the fiftieth time that night. “He went mad. One minute he was standing at the mirror asking me to look at his eyes. He had a bad case of pink eye, and he thought it looked worse. Then we heard a crash downstairs. Now, my son is dead, and my husband did it. I don’t know why. He loved Sean, and he was a good dad.”

“Did your husband have a drug problem? Meth, maybe?”

Sandra couldn’t help but laugh. There was nobody more straight-laced than Mac Reynolds. He was the top salesman at the only used car lot in town. He attended church three times a week, volunteered at the animal shelter, and was a longstanding member of the Rotary Club. Mac was extremely vocal on his beliefs that drugs were a waste of brain power, and he never drank anything with more of a kick to it than coffee, except maybe a strawberry wine cooler on a hot, summer day. He didn’t even like taking aspirin, and hated the fact that he had to take pain medicine for his rheumatoid arthritis. The idea he was taking meth was not only ludicrous, but impossible. Mac Reynolds wouldn’t know how to ask a gas station attendant for a pack of cigarettes. Where would he get his hands on Meth? “No. He was on a trial pain medication for his arthritis, but he took less than the recommended dosage.” She handed a large green prescription bottle to the officer, who lifted it up for closer inspection.

“Were there side effects?” she asked.

Sandra shrugged. “Sure, ones they knew about – or told us about, I guess would be more appropriate. Lately, he’d been a bit quick to … well, I wouldn’t really even call it anger. He’s always been a gentle soul, my Mac. RED is a trial pain medication. Cuts off the pain sensors, and he went in twice a week to discuss side effects with the lab techs. He mentioned to me how wonderful it was to feel no pain. He said he felt like he was a kid again. A few weeks ago, there was an accident at work while he was helping decorate for Independence Day. You know how they love to put up all those flags and balloons. Well, anyway, he was helping Gerald put them up, and one of the poles they tie those ridiculous flags on to slipped from Gerald’s hand while he was on the ladder. It hit Mac in the cheek. Sliced him right open. Twenty stitches down his face, and he didn’t want, nor need, anesthetic when they stitched it. So short of the no pain thing, and the pink eye that showed up this morning, he never mentioned any adverse side effects to me.” Sandra smoothed down her skirt and tugged her pale cardigan tighter around her, hugging herself with her arms against the chill in the room. A strange chill she found odd on such a blistering Southern summer evening. She let go of her arms and put them on her hips as she lifted her eyebrows and gave the police officer a harsh, knowing nod. “I am, however, pretty sure going rabid and killing your seventeen year old son isn’t something the lab is going to want the public to know anything about,” she spat. “Look, I’m tired of talking. I don’t know what happened. Please leave me alone.”

The pretty blonde reached out, sympathetically, to touch Sandra’s shoulder, but immediately withdrew her hand as soon as it made contact with her sweater. Her hand was covered in blood, and she was staring at it like she’d been bitten. Sandra knew the polite thing to do was offer her a towel, but really, she just wanted them gone. The officer pulled Sandra’s cardigan from her shoulder and gasped. “Did he hurt you? You’re bleeding, Sandra. Someone should take a look at it. I’ll call the EMT.”

Sandra jerked her arm away. “No!” She’d already seen her shoulder, and it wasn’t bad enough to make such a fuss. It certainly didn’t hurt. And Mac hadn’t hit her anyway. When she found him on the floor beating Sean in the head with the hand mixer, she’d went Amazonian on him, and shoved him away from the empty cavity that used to be Sean’s face. Mac went crazy. He grabbed her and bit her. That was when she stabbed him. She really hadn’t known what else to do. She probably shouldn’t have stabbed him in the face, but really, what was she supposed to do? “No,” she said, softening her voice. “Thank you. I’m fine. I need to be alone right now.” She hadn’t mean to yell, and she certainly hadn’t meant to startle the young officer. She did, however, want them to understand how important it was to her to have some space and time to finish her show … No. To grieve. Yes, that was it. “I don’t feel well, and I want you to get out, do you hear me? Get out of this house!”

She’d only barely touched the younger woman, and the gunshot took her by surprise. It burned, but wasn’t as painful as she imagined getting shot would be. She didn’t understand why anyone would shoot her. She looked at her attacker, who seemed afraid, which made her laugh. She weighed 105 pounds sopping wet. Her husband was the monster, not her. She heard a thud to her left, and turned to see the pretty blonde flat on the floor. Curious, she leaned down to investigate. Little miss pretty had a rather large hole in her neck. “Well, isn’t that strange?” Sandra asked. Another shot rang out, and Sandra lost her balance. She fell to the floor, confused as to what tripped her.

“What happened?” she heard.

“She killed Sergeant Mason!” someone else screamed. “She ripped her throat out!”

Sandra looked around the room wondering who “she” was, and why anyone would want to kill that poor officer, even if she was a bit pushy. “My, my!” Sandra explained. She tried to get up, but three more officers pulled their guns on her and warned her to stay put. She wouldn’t do it. She wasn’t about to sit in her white pants on the floor next to a bleeding police officer. The dry cleaning cost would be outrageous. Sandra shook her head and used the couch to help herself up. Shots rang out. She held up her hand. “Now you boys stop with the noise! My neighbors are already having a heyday talking about my husband and son. I don’t need you people in here stirring up more fodder for the rumor mill!” she fussed. Still feeling a bit lightheaded, she turned and headed for the kitchen, using the walls to keep her steady. Maybe some tea would calm them down. A louder sound rang out, deafening her, and she clinched her fists, annoyed because her words went unheard, which was no wonder with the amount of unnecessary gunfire going on inside her home. She turned and glared at the five people standing in her living room. “I said be quiet!” she screamed.

“Mrs. Reynolds?” an older officer said. He was staring at her, wide-eyed, but not at her face. Sandra looked down at the mint green shirt she’d put on only a few minutes before Mac killed their son. The hole in her stomach wasn’t nearly as frustrating as the deep red blood oozing from the middle of her brand new shirt.

This was going to be far more work to clean than the few drops from her shoulder. Her rage was instantaneous. “What have you done to my shirt?” she screamed.

~~~~~

Jordan Drew has decided she cannot compete with Austin Malone’s bio, so she isn’t even going to try. (Thooooough she does have an About Page up at the top of the site you can look at if you really want to know more about her. ;) )

Tintagel Ruins – Moxley Bugg

MoxleyFrom the Tintagel information center, Lydia watched the Greyhound bus drive away. She had to walk the rest of the way to the hostel. The trek was suited to backpackers and Lydia’s life would never be that simple. Still she hoisted her over-flowing tote onto her shoulder and dragged her suitcase down the vacant main street. It appeared the small coastal town had tucked in for the evening, despite the hour or so of daylight left. Only the black feathered jackdaws witnessed her arrival.

She turned onto a gravel road and found fog creeping across the countryside. It obscured her view of the path’s end where she hoped the hostel hid. She hesitated but the rushing sea veiled behind the indistinct gray cheered her onward. She followed the path as it stretched its arms out wide before a faint light and the shadowy outline of a roof.

She approached and a door opened to frame a wrinkled couple in warm light. They bustled Lydia inside, settling her into an overstuffed chair with a cup of tea before she could tell them her name. They introduced themselves as the Jensons and informed her that she was their only guest for the evening. The Jensons occupied the sofa across from her and gave Lydia the full measure of their busybodyness.

“What brings you to Tintagel?”

“Will you be visiting the castle ruins?”

“You can’t come all this way without exploring the castle.” Their heads nodded in unison.

“It’s on my list . . .” Lydia felt dazed by their rapid-fire questions

“You should go tomorrow.”

“The weather will be perfect.”

“Go in the morning.”

“Yes, the morning is the best time.”

Lydia’s head bobbed in time with their nodding. Hypnotic. Exhausting. She agreed with all their suggestions just for the chance to escape into her room.

The next morning, Lydia walked along the coastal path lining the cliffs overlooking the sea. The waters whispered to her like a lover, encouraging her footfalls toward the ruins. The path veered inland around the base of a high stone wall, and then opened up to the lower mainland courtyard. Its drunken walls looked in danger of toppling into the sea. The dark stones were covered in yellow-green moss. Jackdaws flew through narrow windows and perched on crumbling towers. They ruled the castle.

Lydia wandered up the approach to find a large group of French teenagers milling about the courtyard as part of some school trip. They were loud and energetic like all teenagers everywhere, so Lydia gave them a wide berth, choosing to follow the winding haphazard stairs down to the sole connection between the mainland and castle island. She crossed the narrow bridge and climbed the ancient, stony slabs that curved upward. Halfway up Lydia stopped to look down on the lower courtyard. She felt completely cut off from the mainland. Beneath her, the sea threw itself against the cliff face of the island. With each lunge, the waves seemed to crest higher as if trying to reach for her. All that separated Lydia from the sea was a rickety wooden fence. Insubstantial really. She leaned against the fence into the pull of the sea. A child squealed, jarring Lydia up-right. A father and two young boys bounded up the steps below. she turned away from the churning waters and continued toward the upper courtyard.

With the morning spent exploring the island and its crumbling remains of an ancient civilization, Lydia came upon a group of picnickers on the cliffs. They reminded her of her own empty stomach. As she traced her steps back to the island courtyard, she passed the father laughing as his boys sang “I’m the king of the castle” taunts.

Lydia walked through the teetering archway marking the only way off the island. She had already started down the stairs when she noticed the fog creeping up the them. It had swallowed up the bridge, cutting off the island from the mainland. Dismayed, she returned to the courtyard. Her emergency preparedness had not included what to do when stranded on an island due to fog. Lydia decided to track down the other visitors; she had to warn them and maybe one of them had prepared for just such a situation.

Circling the small island but finding no one, she couldn’t understand how the picnickers and the family had disappeared. The fog continued to rise. Thick white clouds blanketed everything on the mainland and lapped at the cliffs of the island. Lydia was on a sinking ship. She headed inland, hoping to find the tourists bunker-ed down amongst the ruins. She wound her way through the low walls of a former garden and the shell of a chapel; she called out as she went but no one answered.

The fog tightened the circuit Lydia traveled until there was no where left to run. She pressed herself into a corner of the garden and tried to remain calm, as the fog smothered her. Something like music penetrated her blindness, she held her breath and listened. The faint sounds of a woman singing and the strumming of some foreign instrument stirred somewhere on her right. Lydia chased after the music as quickly as she dared. The song grew louder. The singer had to be close so she cried out for help. No one answered her and more alarming the music stopped. “Please, don’t leave. I need help. Please!”

There was only fog and the grumblings of the sea. She almost confused it for the sound of men yelling from her left side. It seemed like a large group of them ran past her. She heard the strange rhythmic clanging of metal on metal accompanying their footfalls but saw nothing. She hazarded falling to run after them but their cadence continued to diminish until the sound melted under the raging waves. Their thundering confused her thoughts and muffled her hearing. Lydia stumbled to her knees and covered her ears.

She stayed huddled with her hands over her ears and tears slipping from clinched-shut eyes for what felt like forever. Then the air around her stirred and something brushed against her. She opened her eyes and lowered her hands to find two rows of shadowy figures marching at her sides. They each held a glowing blue lantern and wore long, hooded, black robes. They chanted in some language Lydia didn’t recognize. She jumped to her feet and grabbed the nearest figure, begging for help. It didn’t respond but leaned over her. The others formed a wide circle around her. Fear crept a long Lydia’s spine and she loosened her grip on the figure. “Please, help me,” she whispered. The hood cocked to the side – the quick, jerky movements of a bird. Then one of the figures behind her made a harsh sound like a caw, and jackdaws flew out of all their hoods. They descended on Lydia with sharp claws ready. She ducked and covered her head with her arms as she ran.

The jackdaws continued to dog her. Their claws tore into the flesh of her arms, while their beaks snatched out chunks of her hair. She tripped and tumbled down a sharp incline. Lydia reached out to stop herself, as her body slid over the cliff. She managed to wrap her arms around a small boulder. Her muscles ached and trembled from the strain. She kicked her legs searching for purchase to hoist her lower body back onto solid ground but there was only air and the hungry sea growling far below. The jackdaws flew around her head, mocking her with their cries. They landed on her boulder, staring down at her. “Please,” Lydia cried helplessly. All their beaks dug into her arms. The shock of the pain caused Lydia to lose her grip and then she was free falling.

She twisted her body to face the sea that would be her death. She expected to see tumultuous waves and jagged rocks, instead she found a pink throat and several sharp rows of yellow teeth spread wide to greet her. Lydia’s scream was drowned out by a bellow and a crunch.

Finished with her meal, the beast slid back in the ocean.

The fog cleared immediately. The father rounded up his boys to leave. The picnickers lounged on the soft grass, full from their meal.

“Well, that was efficiently done.” Mrs. Jenson announced as she and her husband surveyed Castle Island. “How long do you suppose we have?”

“Not sure. She gets hungry much sooner of late.” At his wife’s worried look, Mr. Jenson slipped a comforting arm around her waist and led her back to the hostel. “Just to be safe, I booked a whole family for next month.” He winked at her.

~~~~~

Moxley Bugg would like you to know that Tintagel is a real – and breathtaking – place that you should visit before you die but mayhaps it should be the last item on your bucket list.

Moxley Bugg always wanted a life full of wonder and in recent years has opened her eyes to the wondrous all around her. When she’s not frozen in awe, Moxley organizes a writing club, prepares for her upcoming move to England, and works on that young adult novel she started two years ago. You can find more of her fiction mingled with details of her past and future adventures on her blog: http://moxleybugg.blogspot.com/. If you are interested in her writing club, you can learn more on the club’s page: www.facebook.com/groups/WritersbytheRiver/

Blindman’s Bellows – Mikey Hope

Mikey“Aren’t you lonely?” The Chorus asked. Blood or something else pounded in his head.

“That’s what it said on the stupid tracts in the men’s room.” A wave of nausea hit. He tasted bile. The truffles from earlier were disagreeing with him. Debating. Debasing. De basement. What was that music? Something pounding. Rumbling.

“Did you eat them?”

“What?”

“Did you read them?”

“Oh. Hah! Yeah but they didn’t-” He gulped. “Whew. Feel sick. Head hurts. I hear moaning. Singing? What is that?”

“You don’t have to be alone. You don’t have to hide. Come to Mother.”

“Mother…Hubbard? Hah! Who’s that? Who’s crying? Who is this?

“The Mother beckons you.”

“Okay. Whew. Those ‘shrooms were good, but they upset my-” He winced. “My foot’s asleep…leg hurts…why do my legs hurt?”

“Because you are struggling with your isolation. Relax. Let us welcome you.”

“No, I stepped on something…a…devil’s snuffbox. It popped open and dust or something came out.”

His feet were astonishingly bare, covered in tannish-brown dust (or something) with tiny bumps like the sprinkles on those flat chocolates no one ever bought at the movies. The droning became pounding, moaning, wailing. The light was too sharp. The air was too bright. Who’d he do those ‘shrooms with? Why were they in the men’s room? And where?

“When you are welcomed into The Chorus there will be no isolation. Let go. Let it happen. We welcome you.”

His mouth was dry in spite of all that kombucha tea he’d drunk with… whoever. Remembering who was like trying to talk to someone in a dream. They changed into other people when you looked away. The tea was weird but it at least it was cold. Now the ground was cold, weird and rough under his hands. Rough, grey, hard, gritty. The pounding wouldn’t stop. A vast swooshing sound bore down on him like the sky was trying to iron the wrinkles out of him. So loud.

“Are you roofies? Am I drugged? Where the hell am I? Why can’t I move?”

“You are moving…to a new level of consciousness.”

“Moving on up!” He tittered. “Oh, no. I sound crazy.” He held his hands to his face as if they had answers on their palms. Instead, they had beige spots and a dusting of whitish powder.

A pall of smoke washed over him. He thought he saw dozens of hurrying legs within it. He heard a rhythmic wailing. Car alarms? Sirens. The whoosh pushed him down again, his face ground into the rough… pavement. He was in the road. He watched ants scurrying across the bumps in the asphalt. They were carrying stringy white somethings on their heads. They processed in a long spiral that wound inward until they disappeared down a crack in the sidewalk. Squinting through the haze he saw crowds of people, many running, making a horrible racket, but some walking along, seemingly unperturbed.

“Something. Not right. Can’t walk. Can’t open mouth.”

“There is no need for those things. We hear you. We know you. You are exactly where you need to be.”

He realized he’d been picking absentmindedly at something in his eye. Focusing his vision down at his own cheek, he could see a whitish filament sticking up in front of it. He gave it a tug. It didn’t take much to pull loose. It didn’t hurt like a hair or eyelash would have. He examined it between his finger and thumb. It had a tiny dark pinhead of some kind on one end. It wasn’t a hair, but something fibrous. Suddenly it curled like a fern frond. He grunted in shock, dropping it.

An acrid breeze dispersed the smoke. The feet hurried by in their shoes and boots and sandals, the legs, the pants and skirts, the arms carrying purses, canes and shopping bags. A brown dog flailed in the street nearby, covered in those fibers. It labored, thrashing like it couldn’t get to its feet, either. The droning-moaning resumed.

“Where are the phones? All these people. Walking.”

“No one needs a phone once they are welcomed. Let us welcome you.”

The ground shook – a huge rumbling blast like in the movies. A wave of hot atmosphere blew over his sprawling form. He strained to focus on the distance, saw flames, little ants crawling down the sides of the buildings. Falling, not crawling. His eyes wouldn’t stay trained on anything that distant. He looked back at the dog. The throng walking around went about their business. He realized he was naked.

“The Mother Truffle lives in the earth and the water and the air. Now she lives in the meat. The meat is welcome. The meat will never be alone. The meat will not go to waste.”

“No…you. You are not. You’re not a church. Those tracts in the – NO! I won’t…we won’t let you…”

“The Chorus welcomes all meat. The meat will sing as one. Never alone. The Mother Truffle permeates.”

“Screw your ‘Mother’! No! I won’t! I’ll. I will get up…I’m going to open my mouth. Right now. And yell. Right now. Show you. Going to yell.”

He shook with terrible effort as he raised his head, pushing his body up to rest on one hip. His trailing legs were numb, useless. He took in the deepest breath he could manage but it didn’t feel that deep. He forced his jaw to move, splitting his fused lips open with a moist squelch like stepping on a rotten peach. With all the breath he could muster he squawked drily, “Stop…You.” He fell back, exhausted.

If the dirt of the field, the fallen leaves of the trees, the moss-covered stones, the fairy circles in the woods, the worms in ground and grave, and every creeping, crawling thing possessed one united voice — that voice was in his head, and it laughed now.

“Look at yourself.  Look at where you are.  Do you see something you can stop?

He looked down at his trembling arms, covered in little round fruiting bodies of white, beige, and brown.

“We are part of the soil, the water and air. We have always been part of you. You have eaten us and made us part of your Corpus. We now make you part of our Chorus.”

“N-I will fight you…We- people, will fight you.” He strained to use words. “You can’t. Have us.”

The rush of walking, running legs suddenly ceased as every living being that he could see stopped as if on cue. Deliberately, all heads turned toward him, gazing with impassive, implacable eyes. The sudden hush made distant sounds emerge. Screams. Gunshots. Cars accelerating, crashing. Alarms. The elevated train screeched to a halt where no station stood.

A guttering, baritone vocalization from behind him set his hair on end. He turned to see it was coming from the stricken dog. The howl crescendoed, leaping an octave as it mutated into a gargling caterwaul like a sad, strangled goose.

The dog, now covered in a forest of wispy dew-covered tendrils, began to thrash, its eyes askew, shocking white as foam slopped from its mouth. The caterwaul turned into a ragged, resonating shriek. A bulge the size of a medicine ball swelled up from its abdomen – livid, moist, and taut. The dog’s thrashing slowed to an enfeebled pantomime. From the unmoving throng, a woman in grey slacks stepped off the curb, directly onto the dog’s ballooning belly. Her strap-sandaled foot plunged straight through. The pressure rushed out with a sharp, powdery pop! A billow of white bloomed out like someone sneezing into the flour. The dog’s body shriveled with a dry crackle, then lay silent and still. The ivory dust gathered into a swirl on the breeze, wafting down the street, a ghost late for an appointment.

The swoosh returned. He craned his neck to follow as it roared overhead. A slim, dark triangle spun like a cast-off leaf before clipping the corner of a skyscraper, bursting apart into a blossom of flame. The conflagration ejected smoking metal chunks onto the pavement below.

“Can’t have you? How is it that you think we’ve been talking this whole time?”

Another careening sliver soon followed– this one trailing a white line of smoke as it arced past the buildings toward the river in a way that he could tell it shouldn’t. It came down with a tremendous WHUMP! and a plume of spray. Both were quickly swallowed by the cold, dirty water.

He turned his head back, his eyes imploring the tableau on the sidewalk. Every being spoke simultaneously, including himself, his bloody jaw working robotically, a strangled voice croaking helplessly along with them.

“We’ve already eaten each other.”

The Meat’s field of vision filled with the curling fibers from under its eyelids. It took in a sharp, ragged breath.  Its shoulders shrugged then fell, wracked with useless sobs. A mournful gargling filled its ears but its head was filled with the harmony of The Chorus. All chanted together in fellowship.

“Welcome.

Welcome.

Welcome.”

~~~~~

Mikey Hope lived in and around Atlanta, Georgia for many a moon, providing art and massages to all the people of the land until one day, he got a wild hair somewhere a wild hair ought not to be and he moved to New York City.  This came as a great surprise to everyone, but especially New York City.

Now he awaits the activation of his clone army so that each may fully pursue one of his interests including: writing genre fiction, exploring his new stomping grounds, tabletop role-playing, creating digital art, teaching and performing massage, and making music.

While his writing has largely been confined to tabletop and play-by-email RPG settings thus far, he hopes to inflict it upon an unsuspecting public soon.  Very soon.  Perhaps even now, his nefarious plan springs into action upon an unsuspecting internet!

On a related note, his artwork may be viewed at his DeviantART page: http://preternatch.deviantart.com/