Bee-lieve, a Fantastical Submission

Happy New Year! Let’s wish for wonders amid the angst that 2020 C.E. will no doubt bring. I would like to make a tiny offering of writer humor.


Dear Editor,

Enclosed are approximately 600 bees, which will perform an interpretative dance titled “Bee-lieve” for your consideration. My submission takes little over a minute to watch.

My pollinators have been previously shared on YouSnuze and Intergalactic Meditate Show. One of my dances received last year’s Tap Dancing Penguin Award.

Also enclosed is a self-addressed, stamped package for my bees and your reply. Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,
The Royal Choreographer

Publication: “Better Latte” in Dark Moments

I’ve been trying to figure out deadlines in and out of writing lately, which is difficult even when the deadline isn’t for how much time loved ones or I have left in life. Too often, I hobble around in an exhausted daze, wondering who I’ve disappointed and when I should next eat.

More uplifting news: “Better Latte Than Never’s” is scheduled to appear Tuesday, September 3, in Black Hare Press’s Dark Moments. This is my first sale of microfiction as A.L. Blacklyn.

Update: “Better Latte Than Never’s” has posted. You may read the story now!


The release date was corrected.

Beating Dead Horses

My birth father left me a leather switch. It’s the kind used for striking livestock. I think he used it on my grandfather’s ranch.

That man moved me and Dad, us alone, away from the ranch without a partner or genetic parent. When I think of the move, I hate his switch. It’s a horrible heirloom. Is that brick-red discoloration on the leather knots dried blood from a broken animal? Why give me a tool from a place I’m no longer allowed to go?

Other times, I’m only angry with our big city neighbors. Those nosy no-goods tsk at Dad when he goes out to date, which is an ordeal with enough drama on the San Antonio singles scene.

On flaring hot days are when I hold the switch tight in my fist, tensing against the useless judgement of near strangers.

I relax as the switch raises over my head. I take in the snapping force of its fall. The feeling helps to stop thinking about them all.


This story has been revised since its first appearance, in Ad Hoc Fiction Issue 169.

Mourns She

The girl clutched locks of long hair to the top seams of the moss green linen of her dress. Her free hair streamed sunset above a white fog cloak. She flew against blustering sighs of wind above the hills to her mortal clan.

I am Siren, she thought. The mortal folk will hear my song.

This time, she concentrated not on the music but her words. The mortals never understood her music.

They will hear my words. All my heart will go in them!

“There!” a voice called. A lad by a whitewashed cottage on the hill pointed up to her. “T’is a keening woman!”

“She mourns before the death. Pop’s end is near.”

Stinging tears slipped past Siren’s russet lashes. Hear my song of life, not death. Do you not hear my words?

Owl © 4924546

OwW1

I checked the robotic mouse that was waiting on an X taped on the floor.

Okay, my owlish friend, time for the test. I said, “Catch the mouse.”

The larger robot on her perch turned her head to blink unevenly at me with yellow eyes. Her beak opened into a shrill “Whyyy?”

“What?” I asked. “Go hunt!”

“Whyyy?”

English responses to commands wasn’t in her code. I scanned the project’s access log on my tablet then shot my chair across the floor to the desk where I could better view our 3D data projections.

“Huuunt?” Her beak clicked at the end of the word.

“Yeah.”

Limbs of feathery plastic fluttered.

Her talons clenched around my head.


Happy Saturday thoughts from a science fiction literary convention. Be safe!

Humanoid

Text: "They attacked us in our dreams. No one had expected humans capable of invading minds."

How
monstrous
we might appear
to any sentient life that
misread our tendencies.


Content on this page was previously posted, August 2017.

 

chocolate cake with curly, lit candles

End to the Creepy Game

Cali scrunched in the dark closet with her head against a box of Fruit O’s.

Is this mean? she wondered. I’ve won the last three–oh, ha!–the last four times. Even if he hasn’t stopped playing, he’s not going to like me using food against him.

Her thoughts made way for the sound of her cousin’s soft, halting footsteps. She held her breath, as much as to keep herself from giggling as to keep from giving away her position.

He stopped in front of her door so close she had to move her head to see through the slats at horizontal stripes of a black shirt and blue pants. His head moved on the other side. Through the slats: purple hair, pierced ear, smooth cheek. She could see these details. With the kitchen light, helping cover her in the closet’s shadow, could he see any part of her?

She half closed her eyelids to cover her whites.

The door creaked open.

She sprung up and yelled inches from Hayden’s face. “Boo!”

“Holy–” He jumped back, twisting, hitting his side on the island counter. Grimacing, he slid to the tile floor.

Cali threw herself beside him. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry! Did I hurt you this time?”

“My breakfast!” he cried.

“I know I shouldn’t have,” she cried, “but I realized I could fit and you couldn’t, and–I’m sorry. Are you alright? I’ll get an ice pack.”

One bare foot sank into soft object halfway across the kitchen. She lifted her foot to see the mutilated remains of a cheesecake slice.

“Great, Cali. Making me drop it wasn’t enough?” Hayden grunted with the effort of standing. “My boyfriend made that for me, you know.”

Cali hopped the remaining distance to the freezer on the foot not coated in ick. “You were eating cheesecake for breakfast? What’s wrong with you? You’d hit a sugar low by your second class.” She pulled the freezer door open to grab their ice pack.

He took the chilled pack out of her hands. “You can clean up the mess. I’ll get something to eat on campus. Like ibuprofen and caffeine.”

She yelled another apology to his back as he headed for the front door. He left without any good-bye.

* * *

Hayden returned after dark.

Cali set her history textbook beside her on the sofa. “I sent you messages.”

“I saw.” His book bag hit the floor with a thunk. After his shoes were off, he picked up his bag with a grunt.

“How’s your back?” she asked.

His expression showed as much comfort as a thunderstorm. “Fine.”

“Hey-day, I won’t sneak around the house anymore. The game is over. ”

The sofa creaked from his weight as he leaned against the back. Some of the dark energy in his face and voice escaped in a sigh. “I don’t see the point anymore. You can obviously wake up in time to get to classes. So can I. Wasn’t that the point of creeping each other out?”

“Yep.”

Months ago, he had snuck into her bedroom to shake her out of sleep. The anticipation that one of them would scare the other each morning encouraged them to wake earlier and earlier until they were no longer arriving on campus either late or un-groomed.

“But I owe you one, Cali-girl.”

“I know.”

* * *

Mornings passed with as much anticipation as before, at least for Cali. Whenever she entered her bedroom or the bathroom, she locked the door. She padded through the house attentive to sounds of movement and the smell of aftershave. Every time Hayden turned a corner, she couldn’t help but jump. He smiled and acted like nothing bothered him.

And why shouldn’t he? He didn’t have to worry about her popping out of strange places.

The biggest concern for her was in how the old rules were no longer in play. Hayden’s attack could come at any time from anywhere. Pleading to set rules hadn’t help. He refused to say when or how he’d end her debt.

On the third week, she gave in. Doors stayed unlocked, and she turned her back to them as she studied. Other times, she wandered through the house with the hope of entering a trap.

Nothing happened.

Hayden struck on the fourth week.

* * *

Coming home from a particularly long day on campus, she hauled the front door opened.

“Surprise!” In the living room, about a dozen friends and classmates threw their hands in the air.

Hayden strode from the group to give her a hug. “Happy birthday, Cali-girl.”

Cali glanced over her shoulder at every smiling face. “That’s on Sunday.”

“It’s also today.” He gave her a warm smile. “Surprise.”

At the sight, tears welled in her eyes. A month of waiting and he’d scared her with kindness. “Hey-day, I’m sorry. I never imagined you’d do this for me. Are we even?”

His smile widened. “Just get some cake.”

She grinned in return and drifted to the dining table wait for a piece. The cake made her mouth water. Layers of gooey chocolate dripped onto each plate. She watched each guest who wanted a slice accept a plate.

Her chemistry partner handed her the last piece. “You’re supposed to get the first piece, but you were busy.”

Shiny fudge filling jiggled on her plate. “Thanks for saving me one. May I have a spoon?”

Someone tapped Cali’s shoulder. She turned.

“BOO!”

Too late, she remembered the slippery condition of her cake.

Chocolatey goodness lay on the floor as ick.

Hayden leaned on her shoulder and grinned. “Now we’re even. We both can clean up the mess.”

chocolate cake with curly, lit candles
© diapicard

The above story has been revised from a story first published on Cristi Craig’s now-defunct blog. (She has created a new blog.) Cristi challenged me to write flash fiction inspired by a word prompt of “creep”. The result was a contemporary story about cousins living together for college.


Read about another creepy game in “Jungle Jump”.

Jungle landscape

Jungle Jump

Prey approached.

The monster held his breath and moved nothing but his eyes. The human would get no warning.

A vine of green satin pressed down on his shoulder, heavy, but the monster waited. He counted within the shadows. On the twentieth second, he leapt.

Shirts flew alongside him, adding drama to his ambush. The human screamed.

“Sam! Get out of my room!” She flung a large rock.

He roared in hideous laughter. The rock felt as light as a pillow.

From beyond the jungle, a meddler shouted over him. “Samuel, go to your own room. Leave your sister alone.”


Revised from “Hunting Boredom” (originally posted 2010).