Image Flash #30

Image Flash #30

5 minWrote this one pretty damn quickly in an attempt to keep on track with putting these out every Friday. Posting with plenty of time leftover!


Seth was nervous.

“This is the first time I’ve ever done this.” He said.

She flashed him a comforting smile.

“It’s okay, you know. There’s nothing to be ashamed of.”

He ran his middle finger nervously over the fabric seam on the arm of the sofa. He was jittery, had a few days of facial scruff, and might have been mildly handsome if not for the dark circles under his eyes and haggard expression.

Dr.Rina was sitting across from him, in her own chair. She didn’t have a notepad, or clipboard, or anything. That surprised him. Weren’t these people supposed to take notes?

“Why don’t we start with you telling me what brought you in here? If you’re comfortable with that.”

Seth shuddered out a nod. “Sleep. I can’t sleep.”

She smiled again. “You look like you’ve been having a rough time. That’s got to be hard.”

He kept picking at the couch, watching his fingertips, not looking at her. “I want to sleep. I can even get myself to fall asleep real easy, but I can’t stay that way. Even with pills. It just doesn’t last.”

“Something keeps waking you up?”

He squinted, as if the question were a spotlight. “Dreams. I keep having the same kinda dreams. All the time.”

“Did you want to talk about them?”

He stopped picking and clenched his fist. “No, I don’t. I just want them to go away.”

She didn’t respond verbally. She raised an eyebrow at his comment and folded one leg over the other, waiting, expectant.

“I guess this doesn’t work that way though, does it?” Said Seth.

“Sure, sometimes.” She responded. “But not usually. Something is causing this and we’ll talk until we sort out what it is. That’s a good place to start, since it’s close to the problem, but we don’t have to. We can talk about your job, hobbies, or your relationships. Whatever you like. I suspect whatever we discuss will circle back around to a helpful place sooner or later.”

His expression was mopey, a sort of slack jaw-ed exhaustion that didn’t have the energy to really want anything.

“Yeah, I know. I’m just sick of seeing it. Talking about it.”

“I understand entirely.”

He resumed his picking at the seam and spoke in a monotone mutter.

“It’s foggy, but not, you know, still or quiet fog. It’s like, moving and blowing around. More like I’m inside some windy cloud than fog. It just feels, pushy, or urgent somehow. Does that make sense?”

She agreed. “Absolutely. Things in dreams can carry feelings and ideas along with the image. You recognize the attached emotion as clearly seeing the item. I understand you.”

“So, I’m in this fog, but not for long. I hear voices, but not in my language. Some other language I’ve never heard. Doesn’t sound like Spanish or Chinese or anything. Just, nonsense. But I know they’re looking for me, that they’re desperate to find me. So, I run. But, because it’s so foggy, it doesn’t feel like running. Like I’m on a treadmill. All of this, it’s pretty fast. I fall asleep, and right away I’m running from the voices. That’s when I see the light.”

Dr.Rina perked up. “A light?”

“Yeah, some guys, with those big beam flashlights, coming at me, from all around. Wherever I run, they get closer and closer, shining their flashlights in my face, yelling in that strange language. I can’t see anything, just light, in my eyes. Bright, bright light. Over and over. It never stops.”

Dr.Rina sighed, stood up, and went to her desk. Seth continued to talk.

“It’s never dark. It’s making me crazy. Sometimes, I go into the bathroom and shut the door, and put a towel along the crack at the bottom, so it’s really black, and I just stare at it. That feels kind of like my eyes are closed. At first, that helped, but now, I can see every little thing. It’s just not dark enough, and I’m too tired. I can’t keep my eyes open and…”

“I’m gonna stop you right there, Seth.” She opened a drawer in her desk.

Seth startled out of his monologue. “What?”

“Look, you don’t need a therapist. If you’ll allow me, I think I can solve your problem immediately.”

Seth was confused, but not too confused to see a potential end to his suffering.

“What are you going to do?”

She took out a pair of tweezers and stood beside him. “Tilt you head back and close your eyes. I’m going to do something to your right eyelid for a second. It’ll feel weird.”

Seth swallowed, nervous. Again, he said. “What are you going to do?”

Her pleasant therapist demeanor was replaced with irritation. “Do you want to sleep again or not?”

“Yes.”

“Then tilt your head back already.”

Seth complied.

Dr.Rina roughly grabbed a hold of his eyelash and lifted. She poked the tweezers underneath and, after stabbing around for a moment, pulled a small layer of plastic circuitry from the underside of his right eyelid. She placed it on her fingertip and looked at it.

Seth’s right eye was watering from the intrusion and he rubbed at it.

“What the hell is that!” He asked.

Dr.Rina aimed at the trash can and flicked the object away. “Nothing you need to worry about.”

She opened the door to her office and indicated that he should leave. “Thank you Mr.Novak for coming in. You shouldn’t have any more problems sleeping.”

“But, what was that thing? It was in my eye!” He stood up, still rubbing his face.

“You’re very tired, Seth. Just, go get some rest.”

“But…”

She patted him on the back, ushering him out. “Pleasant dreams, Mr.Novak. Glad I could help.”

In the hall, he turned, more questions on his lips.

She shut the door in his face.


 

Image Flash #29

Image Flash #29

It’s been a 5 mingood while since I’ve written any fantasy, and specifically, anything that remotely resembles traditional or ‘high’ fantasy. I really liked this picture and how it looks sort of patchwork and lost. The arid background got me thinking of mashing a bit of South-Western vibe into some magic world. So, I tossed on some Indian flute music and this is what came out. It’s less “in the moment” than what I normally write, but hey, I mostly consider these mental warm ups.


It was not that Une’-mere Kristen, third daughter of the Due Copperkin, dust kissed and bound to the sun, did not believe in magic. Of course she did.

She had seen it often enough. When she was little she’d tumbled from the roof and broken both her legs. She remembered the terrible pain of it, the screams of her mother, and the strange way the world rolled and sky curved as they carried her through town. But she remembered those things only vaguely. The green glow, from the fingers of the healers, tendrils of energy, like twisting fronds of summer grass, glowing and curling into and out of her body. That, the magic they’d used to put her leg right, one muscle and bone fragment at a time, she remembered clearly.

She’s seen earth spirits aplenty. Unlike her older sister, she’d never caught one. But she’d never really tried to either. While many of the children would try and capture them, she was unsure what the purpose of doing so was. Some nonsense to do with finding your love.

She believed in the sacred stones that kept the wild things out of their town. She believed in blessings of earth that grew fat melons from their dry land. She believed in the ghosts that sometimes snuck from their graves and ate new foals. All of this was truth to her. It was as real as clay pot, or a textbook, or a muss of her hair from her father.

But not the Gauz. For all the warnings, Une’-mere Kristen did not believe in that.

She knew that something happened, of that she was certain. All around town were tall poles, topped with curled arms of vine that held circular protective glyphs of string, bones, feathers, and glass. A few times every year, brown-crows (called warnlings) would come and roost on them, cawing loudly. She never saw birds like them otherwise, great chestnut colored creatures with orange beaks and feet. When they arrived children were instructed to go underground, cover their heads, and await their parents while the Gauz passed. They were told that staying out was a fate worse than death. That it would pull them, bodily, into its eternal curse. And they all knew that the only thing worse than a ghost, a spirit without a body, trapped in the physical world, was a vecca; a body without a soul, trapped in the spirit world.

But she did not believe what her parents told her. They were all taught the tale, from the time they were children; a long time ago, a people not unlike themselves, sought enlightenment in the dream realm. They raised their minds together, in a great imagining, and left their bodies behind. Only they become lost. Their bodies died. Their children abandoned. They became the Gauz.

But she knew better. Whole tribes did not simply melt into the spirit world to become some ethereal creature made of mad butterflies and burning mushrooms. They did not march through the world endlessly, lonely and sad, looking for their lost children. It was a nonsense story. It was a bogey-man, meant only to frighten and cloister them from whatever the reality was.

She was three years from becoming stone kissed and bound to the moon, but she was serious for her age. She was certain she was more adult than most everyone she knew. She’d decided that the next time the warnlings came, when they were told to cower in the basements, fearing a passing nightmare, that she would sneak out.

One way or another, she would see the truth of this lie for herself.

Image Flash #28

Image Flash #28

10 minI haven’t written an Image Flash in a while since I’ve been far too busy work, and writing Mark of the Cloven, and lots of distractions.

This one got a little longer than most. I really felt the image had a lot of story to tell and the scene came to me in its entirety. Feels good to be back at it!


Candice Jane sat on a wooden stool with a shotgun across her lap and facing the front door. There was a rocking chair in the corner that was far more comfortable, but she didn’t trust herself not to fall asleep in it. It had happened before. Most often when she was quilting and not when she was as high strung and alert as she was tonight. But still, the cost of comfort was too high when added to the chance of failure.

She pinched her cheeks and shook her head.

The cabin was nice, by frontier standards. Davis had built it up against a stone embankment and mined out a shallow larder, a warm alcove for the bed, and built the fireplace right into the rock. Low embers warmed the room, but the oil lamp on the table lit it. The wood shed covered the Western wall and was accessible from inside as well as out. Opposite, large windows let in the morning light. They were barred with metal and had shutters to seal them against both invader and cold. Candace had done so in the occurrence of one and anticipation of another. It was a good defensible home. The only easy way in or out was through the front door.

Candice listened to the blowing wind, laden with approaching winter storm, and waited. Trouble was on its way. While she’d had no direct confirmation that they were coming tonight, she’d dealt the cards and read them, just like she did every night. The tarot said they would come with the snow. Probably figuring her for an easy target. A lone widow on a rich claim, a dead husband, and weather fierce enough to kill a deer. She could see their plan clearly enough; drag her into the cold and leave her. Let nature run its course. Later, they could return and ‘discover’ the tragedy. The land would become available. Somebody’d get rich.

But she knew they were coming, had Davis’ gun, and was ready. If she were lucky, she wouldn’t die tonight. The snow started to fall, fat and thick. Soon now.

Everything in the tarot read told her it was coming tonight. Her grandmother had taught her the cards and she was an able hand at deciphering them. It was easy to see some things, but not so easy to see everything. She’d known full well on the morning she sent Davis off to his dig that he’d strike it rich that day. But in the excitement of the good cards, she’d missed the full weight of the Five of Cups. They always carried gloom, but the Sun had shone too brightly on the reading. She’d missed the full implication. The very rocks that tumbled away to reveal the bright future crushed the life from Davis.

She knew she wasn’t seeing everything clearly tonight either and her mind kept going over the read, over and over, afraid that she was missing something. It was that Ten of Wands that kept giving her the most trouble. Why was that there? So much fire for a cold night. She stood and went to the table, looking over the spread again. Still, she could not see the significance, especially where it was positioned in the past, near her lost husband. Did it mean that warmth was in the past? Her attackers would succeed?

She heard the squeal of an engine and white slivers of light slid around the room from approaching headlights. At least three cars. This was worse than she’d thought. Two or three men, she could hold off with a shotgun. More, was out of the question. She heard shouting outside, over the storm, and then a loud knock on the door.

A voice shouted over the wind. “Hello? We need help. Our autos can’t move in this storm. We need shelter!”

A predictable ruse. She had to decide, quick, what to do. She wanted to kill these murderous thieves. It made her angry that they thought she was weak and stupid and easy to get rid of. But, more than that, she was infuriated by the possibility that it seemed to be the case. Fighting them all didn’t seem as possible as it had before they’d arrived.

“We’ve got nothing to help! Move down to Hargraves! He’s got a barn for you and your autos!” She yelled back.

“Can’t do it, widow! Now open up!” He punctuated his demand with a fist on the hardwood. She responded with a pair of blasts to the mantle above the door.

“Get off my property!”

She quickly reloaded, half expecting them to bust in. They didn’t. She heard shouting, a few of them laughing. Minutes ticked by. Nothing. She thought she heard them rummaging around in the wood shed, but the noise didn’t last long. The headlights turned off on all but one of the vehicles. There was a thump as something struck the side of the house, then the sound of a man on the roof. There was another quick knock on the door.

“Last chance, widow. Open up.”

Why were they on the roof? They couldn’t be so stupid as to think they could send a man down the chimney. But they could…

She dropped her shotgun and rushed for the flue lever. Even as she did, sticks, wrapped in hay, started to fall down into her fireplace. Ten of them landed onto the hot coals before she got it closed. She didn’t miss the significance of that. She grabbed the hearth shovel to drag them out before they caught and smoked her out. But the entirety of their plan hadn’t completed.

Gasoline poured down the chimney, around the flue, and ignited her fireplace in an explosive splash.

Candice’s sleeve caught on fire. She backed away from the blaze, patting out the flames on her arm. The room was quickly filling with smoke. There was a crash and her front door slammed open. The man who’d knocked it down fell forward onto the floor. She ran for her gun. A second man followed the first, barging in. She got to the shotgun, raised it, and fired as he swung his arm at her, knocking the shot wide. He grabbed the barrel and shoved it upwards. She fired again, and he hit her in the face.

She fell backwards and scurried toward the stone wall. Figure after figure, dark silhouettes in the lantern haze, entered her home. She heard a gun cock.

“No.” Said a voice. “No bullets, you idiot.”

“Dead is dead.”

The man nearest her was pulled back and shoved toward the door. “Hardly. Now put that away and go get the ropes. Bag her. And somebody open that damn flue!”

They came for her. She punched, and kicked, to no avail. She counted eight of them and knew there were no more outside. She’d seen the Eight of Swords. They rolled her over onto her belly, put a sack on her head, and bound her hands. All around her she heard boots on the floor, stomping and creaking. She hadn’t realized how big of a find Davis must have made if it warranted this kind of attention.

“You two know what to do. Make sure she’s not too hard to find, maybe out by their dig, then come back here. We’ll spend the night then double check it’s done in the morning.”

Rough hands picked her up and carried her out into the bluster. Without her coat, in just her dress, the wind was brutal. They dragged her out past the stream, up through the boulder strewn trail and across a small footbridge. One of the men stopped.

“I’m freezing. Let’s just put her here, under the bridge. People will think she slipped or somethin’.”

“We were supposed to go further.” He gave her a rough tug, trying to get them moving again.

“We were supposed to leave her in a good spot. This is better. It makes more sense. Maybe she was coming down here for some water, tripped, fell down.”

The second man acquiesced. “Fine, you drag her down there.”

She stumbled down the embankment with him. She slipped on the smooth ice of the frozen stream and fell. He didn’t bother righting her and just tied the extra rope they’d left dangling from her wrist bindings to one of the support legs of the bridge.

“Just go to sleep, lady. Think of your husband.” He patted her on the shoulder and scrambled back up the incline. They re-crossed the bridge and she heard the snow crunching as they left her.

As she lay there, muscles twitching with cold, freezing to death, she found that she wasn’t really afraid; she was angry. That patronizing touch at the end, like comforting an irrational child, kept playing in her head. Is that what she was to them? As small an obstacle as some weak, unintelligent, youngster? Evidently.

She thrashed against her bindings. She managed to wiggle free of the bag on her head an almost instantly regretted it. At very least, it had been keeping her face warm. Now the wind froze her frustrated tears on her cheeks.

She tried righting herself on the ice but kept slipping. She rolled onto her back and looked up at the dark sky, the underside of the bridge, and the falling snow. She’d be damned if she died this way. There had to be a way out of it. She just had to see it. Whatever she needed to do was in those cards she’d read earlier. She just had to remember them, to interpret it right. She ignored the biting cold and tried to focus.

It was those wands. She had to comprehend their meaning. Now that she’d seen the ten kindling bundles that fell, their meaning changed. That fire, while it proved her undoing, wasn’t enough for something positioned so prominently in the read. So near to her husband. It signified a bigger blaze, something more. There had to be a connection between her husband and the flames.

She brought him to mind, rolled their happy memories together, looked for the clue. It didn’t take her long to find it. Once she had it, a plan formed in her head. She didn’t know if she’d survive the night, but she certainly knew now that she had a chance at revenge, if only she could unbind herself.

She raised her legs up and brought her boot heels down onto the ice. Over and over, she smashed the into the frozen stream. It was thick enough to bear her weight, but not a good pummeling. Her feet broke through to the freezing water. She slid into it, shimmying her body down until her hands and wrists were submerged. It was near unbearable, but once she was there, she rocked left and right, splashing wildly.

The thin rope used to bind her dragged back and forth across the edge of the ice, fraying and weakening it. She threw her weight against it; not enough. Back into the water to try again. She repeated the process, working the rope furiously, and on the second time it snapped. Her hands came free. Dripping, barely able to walk, she climbed back up the embankment and made her way into the woods.

Despite the dark and the snow, she had no trouble finding her husbands grave. She couldn’t feel her hands as she dug into the earth. She was freezing cold, but the work, digging, hunched over, warmed her some. Where once she’d felt ashamed that she hadn’t been able to bury him very deep on her own, or now she felt gratitude. After a time, she struck his belt buckle. She didn’t clear him off completely, just the area around his groin. She dug a hand into his pocket and pulled out a lighter.

Trembling, she flipped the lid up and clicked it. A warm yellow flame sprung to life.

For the first time that night she smiled. The read, the whole tarot read, finally made sense to her.

The Chariot sat before the Eight of Swords. She would put a car in neutral and barricade the door of her cabin with the eight men inside.

Below the Chariot was the Ace of Cups. She would do as they had, drain the gasoline. Only it wouldn’t be a bucket. She’d drain all three cars and douse the entire cabin.

The Tower, the card of destruction, violent change, and trouble, was the one that had warned her of their coming, that she was in danger. But now she now realized was not for her.

They would all burn. Her home would burn. Her past would burn.

She would stay warm in the glow.

Image Flash #27

Image Flash #27

It’s summertime and I was really wishing I lived somewhere near where I could do some snorkeling.
5 min

 


 

“What time did he go out?” Asked Brian.

“He was due back for lunch.”

It was nearly two. The look of concern on Shauna’s face was justified.

“Do you know where he was headed?” She nodded, crossed the cabin, and pulled out a map of the shoals.

“He’d been moving in a grid pattern, like you suggested. Today he was supposed to search this area.” She poked the map with her finger. Brian looked.

“Yeah, that’s too shallow for us. He took the zodiac?”

She nodded. Brian didn’t really have a choice. If Burns was missing, they had to find him. Quickly. “We’ll move as close as we can, suit up, and then Marcos and I will paddle in on one of the smaller rafts. From there we’ll look around.”

It was all they could do and Shauna knew it. Brian went up top and gave the directions to move the ship. By the time they’d dressed in their wetsuits, inflated the bright yellow raft, and found paddles they’d arrived. They took a flare gun, box of flares, and an emergency tool kit.

“I’m sure it’s just a mechanical issue with the outboard. We’ll have him back in no time.” Brian told Shauna.

But he also brought the trauma kit.

The entire bay was massive and shallow. They could see the coast in the distance, much further than they’d normally have to weigh anchor. The lagoon looked like normal water but the bottom was a series of sand bar ridges held in place by sea-grass. It was a maze that varied from being knee deep to over forty feet deep in some places. It had claimed many ships in the past. It was exactly why they were out there, hunting wrecks. They wouldn’t make the same mistake.

The wind was at their back and helped move them quickly. Marcos spotted the zodiac first. It bobbed, unmanned, on it’s short anchor rope. Brian strapped a bungee between the two and Marcos boarded the empty vessel. He gave a quick look at the engine and shrugged.

“Looks fine.”

Brian pulled on his mask and adjusted it. “You stay here, in case he comes back. He probably lost track of time. Maybe found something. I’ll go down and have a look about.”

Marcos nodded and Brian rolled overboard into the water.

The first moments were always stunning. What looked like rolling hills of grass spread out beneath him, blowing in the current. He felt a little like he was flying. Everything pulsed with the rhythm of the waves. He felt the hairs on the back of his hands moving with the same languid motions as the grass below. He was instantly a part of it. Something else.

He didn’t let it distract him. He kicked out with his flippers, looking for Burns. The man was an excellent diver; athletic, Jamaican born, and he’d been raised on the water. Brian really wasn’t ready to entertain the possibility he was in trouble. Not without any clear sign of it. The lagoon was calm, the sky was clear, and the local black tip sharks weren’t known to be a problem.

He decided to follow the path of least resistance. Burns hadn’t been to this area before. That meant he’d likely keep to the deepest channels first, looking for water with enough depth to conceal a wreck. After that he’d expand out. So Brian did the same.

He kept his breathing paced and paired it with his kicking. Slow and steady, he moved along with his arms at his sides. He kept tipping his head up to look for other snorkelers on the surface, but it was unnatural feeling. It was better to lead with the top of his head and scan the bottom with his eyes. It was morbid, but if there was a problem, that’s where he should be looking.

He rounded a curve in the bank and saw a flicker of light beneath him. At first he thought it might be a reflection, but he realized it was a small part of something larger. A long, flat, concrete structure was built into the ground. It was covered with algae, green, and there was a single spot where it had been wiped away. Light came from out of it and he realized he was looking down at a window. He took a deep breath and dove down to get a closer look.

It had been wiped away by a hand, recently. He peered in. It was a leaky room, with puddles on the cement floor. Light bulbs were strung along the ceiling and most of them were blown. There were enough windows that, even with the algae turning the entire room green, that the interior could be seen.

There were banks of old cabinet sized computer machines with over-sized spools. What looked like a trio of operating tables, trays, and instruments. There was various other crap littered around.

He could also make out, faintly, a pair of wet footprints crossing the room.

So Burns had discovered something after all! And he’d found his way inside it. He was immediately relieved that his friend wasn’t dead. As intriguing as the strange room was, his lungs were beginning to spasm. He needed to go up for another breath of air.

He was about to push off to the surface when he saw the second trail; long and black streaked, like someone dragging an oil soaked mop.

Whatever had made them were fresher than Burns’ tracks; following him.

Image Flash #26

Image Flash #26

5 min

It pushed, dropped, and popped his ears.

Then it was done.

“Excuse me, do you have any gum?” He asked.

She opened her purse and rummaged. It was a slick red thing. The flat sort of purse you brought on a date. It didn’t have a strap, just one of those little loopy bits meant to wrap around your wrist and dangle.

“No.” She answered.

“Thanks anyway.” She nodded and looked out the window. Harper was in the aisle seat, next to her. He supposed he could have moved to a window too, but he didn’t want to. It would seem strange. Of course, it was already strange.

He twisted toward the back of the plane, looking for the stewardess. Nothing. He tapped his finger on the arm rest. They were still ascending, not even as high as the clouds yet. It had only been a few minutes since liftoff and he couldn’t take it. He turned to the woman next to him.

“It’s not just me. This is really weird, right?”

She turned from her view outside to look at the cabin. They were the only two passengers on board. Row after row of empty seats filled the plane.

“I guess people don’t want to go where we’re going.”

“Then why’d they take off? I mean, they wouldn’t fly all the way for just a pair of tickets. That doesn’t make sense.”

She shrugged. “Maybe. Or maybe one of us is very important.”

He wasn’t buying it. There had to be a good reason. Maybe the plane had to get back for servicing or something. He couldn’t imagine what sort of servicing it couldn’t have gotten in New York, but that had to be it. That made some amount of sense. Maybe it was a scheduling thing.

“Well, anyway, I guess our seat assignments don’t really matter with all these empty seats.” He unbuckled his belt and started to get up. “I’ll give you your space.”

“Look.” She said, pointing out the window.

He leaned over, to see what she was pointing at. He was acutely aware of how close this brought him to her body and he studiously avoided looking at her. She was beautiful; a petite woman with deep red hair that was almost brown. She had circular black framed glasses with bright eyes behind them. It came across as an intentional attempt to make her look older. She was no child, but attractiveness is often associated with the young. He suspected the glasses, and her classy dress and purse, were intended to convey competency. She didn’t want to be judged on her looks. He discovered that he was doing his best to meet her unspoken desire even though they’d never met. He didn’t look at her body. He looked where she wanted.

The sun was setting. It was a massive orange orb on the horizon. At this altitude, it seemed impossibly big. Distortions from the window glass caused amber streaks of light to prism in his vision. Black dots. Blind spots.

“It’s pretty.”

She kept looking at it. “Is it? You don’t have to move. I don’t mind the company.”

This surprised him. “Well, all right then. I certainly wouldn’t mind it either.”

She didn’t say anything else. He reached into the fold in the seat in front of him and pulled out the in-flight magazine. It was almost entirely adds for resorts and luggage. There was a article on Georgia peanuts. As if the planes served peanuts anymore. He looked up and down the aisle again, looking for a stewardess. Still nothing. He hadn’t seen one since he’d boarded.

“If we ever get somebody to come around we could get a drink.” He said.

“Don’t do that.”

“Do what?” He asked.

“Ruin it.”

He cringed inside. He was suddenly aware of how he’d been mentally hoping for a fiction, acting in a way that wouldn’t eliminate the possibility, even though it was a ridiculous speculation. He didn’t like being reminded that it was all up to her. God damn it, he knew he was the supplicant. He didn’t need reminders. His temper rose a tiny bit.

“Then how about you talk.”

She shifted to face him. She looked over her glasses at him and he felt like she was really looking him over for the first time.

“I said I didn’t mind company. Since when is that the same thing as talking?”

“I just thought…”

She blew out a deep sigh. “I’m sure. It’s just not how I was hoping to spend my last trip. I’d hoped to enjoy the view, and the quiet, and perhaps to know I wasn’t alone doing it.”

“Last trip? You’re planning on staying forever, are you?”

She squinted at him. “We both are.”

He shook his head. “No, not me. I’m only going for a short trip.”

Her expression shifted into incredulity. “Do you not know where you’re going?”

“Of course I do.”

She challenged his assertion. “Where?”

Harper racked his brain. Where the hell was he going? He couldn’t for the life of him remember. She continued.

“I know exactly where I’m going and why. Maybe you should sit somewhere else after all. Perhaps think about why you’re here.”

She turned back to look at the sun. It looked even bigger, almost filling up the entire compartment, casting orange light in shafts across the cabin.

“I’m sorry.” He said.

Then he did what she wanted and moved to another seat. He sat there, looking at the back of her head, thinking, wishing things were different.

The stewardess never came. The light got brighter and brighter as they descended.

And descended.

And descended.

And descended.

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Don’t forget that I’m still looking for feedback on which serial novel I’m going to start this summer. I need your feedback! Check out my update HERE and let me know which novel you want to read. Thanks!

Image Flash #25

Image Flash #25

This was an image I’ve had for a long time and really wanted to use for an Image Flash but, no matter how long I looked at it, I couldn’t decide what to do. After a while I came to feel that the line of the cut was the most solid thing in the image. It was there, like a solid, tangible, impossible thing. The rest was just picking a genre and rolling with that idea.
5 min


“Did you know that the sun is four hundred times the size of the moon? But, because the sun is four hundred times as far away, they appear the same size. Do you know what the odds of that are? Being so exactly proportioned and distanced so that two things that are massively different appear to be relatively the same?”

She swirled the straw in her soda and shrugged. “Nope.”

If he noticed she was uninterested it didn’t deter him. Michael continued. “It’s virtually zero. Just like the odds of life even happening at all. There’s just too much coincidence. Too much improbability. There’s got to be something to it. This all can’t be just chance.”

Oh shit, she thought. He’s religious. “You mean God.”

He shook his head vehemently. “No, no. Absolutely not. Religion is simple misapplications of pattern recognition without the full picture. I’m talking about seeing it all, the whole pattern, and then understanding what’s behind it. Understanding it enough to utilize it.”

“Utilize the size of the moon?”

“Kinda. No, not exactly. It’s hard to explain. It’s like this…” He grabbed her silverware and spread it out; knife fork and spoon into a triangle. Then he did the same to his own.

“Okay, these two triangles are the universe. They’re in balance. The odds of that happening if I’d just tossed that silverware onto the table is impossible. Couldn’t happen. But here it is, in balance, and we know it because we see it. There is something at play here. Now, what happens when I do this?” He plucked out  coffee creamer from the dish and put it inside the left triangle.

“Imbalance?”

“Kind of. It either means that somehow, another creamer is going to show up in that triangle, or else somewhere, there’s another set of triangles, one with a creamer, that we don’t see . A bigger pattern.”

“But there’s no other creamer. I don’t get it.”

“Right, not now.  But if there’s some sort of larger symmetry at play then what goes where isn’t accidental. There’s something intentional behind it. Understanding that, would allow you to move something, in such a way, that you could control the outcome, because you knew how things were going to balance out.”

Sara liked weird guys. Weird ideas were fun. A lot less dull than normal guys. But this was pushing it. “So, if not God, what? Aliens?”

He scoffed. “No, that’s absurd. If aliens exist they’d be bound by the same rules. It’s just something else. Like God, but not. It’s what’s behind all this; the universe, our world, us.”

“But you don’t know what?”

“No.” He leaned back in the booth and smiled. “But I know where.”

She raised an eyebrow. “Oh?”

“You up for a little road trip? Out to the woods?” He certainly was more interesting than the last date she’d been on. If it was a pick up line, it certainly was creative.

“You’re not going to rape me and leave me in a ditch somewhere are you?” She asked.

He put his hand up. “Scouts honor. I’ve just got an idea and wouldn’t mind some company. It’s not too far off the beaten path.”

“Fine. I’m game.”

He paid the bill. She noticed that he arranged the coins for the tip into a snowflake pattern before they left.

_____________________

Michael took his shirt off as soon as they were out of sight of the car and headed down the trail. It surprised her some, but it was warm enough out (despite being early fall) that it didn’t seem too strange. He tucked it into his jeans muttering something about not wanting to get all sweaty.

He was attractive and she realized that she wouldn’t be tolerating such behavior from a less handsome man. The thought made her a little nervous, but she had her cell phone and had just texted a friend where she was headed on the ride over. She let Michael know it too. He didn’t seem like he was up to no good, and she was far too free spirited to say no to adventure, but she was taking at least a couple precautions.

He walked ahead of her, leading the way through the woods. The wind in the trees, with the hum of insects and infrequent bird, was relaxing. It was all very pretty. Tall straight trunks of dark wood rising up to the sky. Their leaves hadn’t started turning yet, but some of the ground plants had. It was like walking in a color scale picture going from orange to green to blue; ground to trees to sky.

Michael stopped dead.

“It’s here.”

The spot didn’t look any different than anywhere else. “What’s here?”

“Like I said, I don’t know. But it does things to people.”

He didn’t turn to face her has he spoke and his voice had taken on a reverential tone.

“What sort of things?” She asked.

“Amazing things.”

A gash appeared across Michael’s back and along into the tree next to him. It was flat, geometric, and appeared without warning. It trickled blood.

“What the…”

She felt a searing pain across her chest and a red line appeared in her flesh. It extended into the tree to her right, some half dozen feet away.

“Ah! Fuck!”

There was another pain, cutting across the back of her knees, hobbling her. She fell to the ground. At her side, a long horizontal line appeared in a log. She was bleeding badly and when she tried to get up, it stung like crazy and she fell over.

“Michael! Help me!”

He turned and she saw his front for the first time. It was covered with a lattice of perfectly layered scars on his chest. He smiled.

“I don’t know why, but whatever it is, it seems to like women more.”