In December 2008, I self published my first piece of fiction. Since then, I have published several other works including a collection of my cartoons. You can find these for purchase or to read selections from each at and the Amazon marketplace.

The End of the World Writing Party

On December 21, 2012, the Mayan calendar came to an end marking the end of all human existence. Well… not really, but that was certainly the idea, wasn’t it? There were more than a few folks who honestly thought things would come to an epic conclusion when the Mayan tablet reached its final carvings, though I was never entirely sure if it was going to be at midnight in Central America somewhere or 4:42 Greenwich time, or when the pigs take flight at 8/7 Central. It was a bit fuzzy on some of the finer apocalyptic points. One thing was certain though, it was a great topic of discussion, especially among the more creative types. The idea of what would happen, what would be the means of our destruction, how people would survive, if people would survive, or if anything would happen at all, was an exercise in creativity. Friends shared their scenarios and plans over coffee and beer. That one friend even mapped out his zombie escape route and bought a shotgun for protection. More and more apocalyptic films and books began to appear the closer we came to our “end”. Everyone seemed to have a great idea about how it would all happen, and thus, an idea struck: Why not collect an anthology of all these would be doomsday tales? The End of the World Writing Party came to be with this announcement on facebook: FRIENDS! WRITERS! IDEA-MEN! Put your creative energies into one "final" work before the robot uprising/zombie outbreak/alien attack/rapture. With the end of the world drawing near, I've been looking back at my favorite movies, books, comics, and cartoons, and this has got me in the mood to do some writing. So, I am inviting YOU, my fellow storytellers, to participate in the End of the World Writing Party! Here's the deal: In whatever style is your forte, write a story about the end of the world. A short prose, a short screenplay, a song, poem, or cartoon - ANYTHING goes! We'll collect them all here, and… I'll collect them into an anthology that will be made available to download for FREE! Thus, we will have a record of the final days of mankind, as well as a loose idea of what we all thought was going to be our undoing (or at least I favorite scenario). So, there you have it folks! Start writing! The last day to SUBMIT will be the Apocalypse itself, December, 21. Get your stories in by then, and HAVE FUN! Over the next couple of weeks, the storytellers you’ll find in this collection participated in this writing challenge, and, as promised, I have collected all the tales here for your enjoyment. It was very exciting to not only read and experience the imaginative ways mankind would experience the end of days, but it was wonderful to see those who participated. Many call themselves writers, but many do not actually write. This may have been the very last chance to spin a yarn, and these are the scribes and merrymakers who were compelled to offer one final story before going quietly and/or loudly into every after. What is collected here are stories from a variety of bards – dark and miserable tales, thoughtful and loving journeys, mature notions of the last flickers of mankind. I am honored to know so many talented and dedicated writers, and I hope as you read these stories, that you too are inspired to dust off your typewriters and put your dreams into words and to share your stories with the world, for who can truly know what time is left? So now, without further ado, sit back, kick up your feet, pour yourself a cold beverage, and please enjoy the End of the World. -- T.C. De Witt Click RIGHT HERE to head over to the FREE ebook. C'mon! Do it now! Before the World really does end!

Marvel Rebooted - Iron Man #1

Randy Lander presents: Marvel Rebooted - Iron Man #1 by T.C. De Witt. Marvel Rebooted is a fan fiction universe that reinvents the classic Marvel comics. Characters you know, but not as you know them. Perfect for fans as well as those who've never given the superhero world a chance. See what this collection of writers from all over the States does with your favorite heroes and villains. Experience a whole new Tony Stark as envisioned by yours truly. No need to know the decades of back story. This is a brand new beginning. Follow THIS LINK to read my first issue of Iron Man. And take a look around the site to find many other first issues. I recommend Strange Tales and take a look at Agents of Shield, and definitely check out the Hulk. This idea of a fan fiction site is certainly not a new one, but Marvel Rebooted is being taken very seriously by the mad genius Randy Lander, owner and proprietor of Rogues Gallery Comics and Games in Round Rock, Texas. It was conceived as a fun little project, but it has exploded into a very professional endeavor for all the writers and editors involved. If you're a fan of comics, short fiction, or superheroes in general, take some time out of your day to visit the site and read some issues. Enjoy!

Ruby and Mark's Safe Touching Rules

Announcing my newest publication! Written by Jennifer Robers and illustrated by me, "Ruby and Mark's Safe Touching Rules" is written for families to talk to children about how to keep themselves safe from inappropriate touching. Simple, direct, and easy-to-understand. This is an important discussion for every family to have with all children. Prevention is key to keeping children safe. Visit the lulu marketplace to preview the book and purchase a copy.

tcomics YEAR TWO - It's All About Timing

Hooray! It's time for me to announce the release of the second year of my online comic strip series! It's been a good year. As I've grown more and more since my injury, my illustrations have grown as well. I've really had some great fun with the comics in this edition. Clash of the TiTIMS, Inception, the A-Team, I love these strips. And now, you can love them too! Hop over to my LULU.COM Marketplace and take a gander at the book. I'm offering two versions this year: a fully colored version and a black and white one that runs a touch less expensive. Consider owning a copy, or at the very least, spread the word. I'm into YEAR THREE right now, and I have plans to keep growing. Who knows what the future holds!


From the most recent Writing Party, this is "Squeak". The criteria for this two hour challenge were: a heavy load that needs moving, a person always carrying something, shoes on a wire, a picket line, and a mad scientist. To read more of the pieces from all the writers, check out

Quinn pulled himself out of bed. There was a squeak, and he made a mental note to buy some WD40 the next time he went out. Not that he went out much anymore. He didn’t much want to really. In fact, as he looked at the date on his alarm clock, he realized that it was now six months to the day that Tiana had left him. It felt longer, and really, when he thought about it, it had been longer. She had checked out of their relationship years ago. And after he came home in March, she only stayed a little longer, and then she had packed her things, told him she couldn’t take his dark moods and gloomy attitude any longer, and had left.
Seemed to him that every time he left his Bronx fourth floor apartment, something bad happened. So, he didn’t leave unless he absolutely had to. He remembered where he was when the Towers fell, and when the apartment building on the next block over had blown up from that gas leak, and when the little girl in the park had drowned in the fountain. So many bad things he had witnessed. And then there was everything that always happened to him: mugged, ticketed for jaywalking, even hit by a damn taxi. No, he was going to stay in here where it was safe, where he could look out at the world and not be involved, not anymore. He was done with it. And it seemed to him that the world was done with him.
He had even become a bit superstitious, though some might say he was a paranoid. His sister Rachel certainly called him that. She had visited three weeks ago. She had said she was just looking for an excuse to get herself and her son Sean out of the house, but Quinn knew she was checking on him. Rachel tried to get him to go to the zoo, Central Park, even the U.N. Building all to “enlighten Sean”. Quinn didn’t buy it though. Sean’s four. He wouldn’t be anymore enlightened by the U.N. Building than by the pancake mix he had dumped on the kitchen floor.
No, Rachel was trying to get Quinn out of the apartment, but he wasn’t leaving until he was out of Campbell’s or toilet paper, and not before.
He turned into the living room and looked around. There were several unfinished projects he could busy himself with today. There was the puzzle taking up the coffee table. There was a stack of books he had been reading, fantasy novels like “Lord of the Rings” and “The Wheel of Time”. He glanced for a moment at his elliptical and sighed. No, puzzles, reading, none of it sparked his interest. He shifted over to the window that overlooked Bucket St.
The window facing Bucket was his spot. It was where he sat everyday and looked out at the world he felt less and less a part of. He knew every detail of the cracked sidewalks and the fading paint of the buildings. He even knew the inhabitants of the block that came and went constantly. There were many families with kids of varying ages. The younger ones used to like it when he played stickball with them in the vacant lot next to Roger’s Pawn Shop. One of the older kids had just bought a Camero and had been fixing it up. Quinn wasn’t sure exactly how old the boy was, but he was closer to Quinn’s age than to the other kids on the block, probably in his early twenties. The bodega directly across from Quinn’s apartment, and thus straight out of his window, was owned by Mr. Ortiz, a fat bald Puerto Rican with a quick temper and a loud bellowing voice, which he used often to shout at his brother Miguel who was his only employee. Mrs. Norris was the little old retired librarian who sat on her porch and read constantly. Some of the books lying unread next to “Lord of the Rings” were from Mrs. Norris. She had told Quinn that if he was going to lock himself in here like some old coot, he might as well expand his knowledge Quinn had thanked her, but he was annoyed to be called an old coot. He was far from old. Didn’t even have a single grey hair on his head yet, though he had found a couple of lighter colored hairs in his beard the last time he grew it out.
The garbage cans were sitting on the curbs empty, which meant it was Wednesday. Quinn looked down the block and saw the two old guys playing dominos in front of V’s. He could never tell who won or who lost. They were just far enough down the block that he knew what they were playing but not close enough to determine what happened in their seemingly endless game. Quinn didn’t even know how to play dominos correctly. All he had ever done with them was make long intricate tracks around his room as a kid. He made a mental note to do that with Sean if Rachel decided to come visit again some time soon.
He looked down the block the other direction, and he sucked in a breath.
There she was: the girl with the yellow hair, and she was carrying her bulky gym bag that was practically the same size as she was. He had seen her nearly everyday when he used to go out running. He found her in the park with a Boys and Girls Club group always playing some sport. Judging by the pair of metal bats she was swinging at her side with her free hand, today was going to be baseball. She was so pretty. He didn’t know how many times he had missed her before he had seen her for the first time last year, but he knew how often he had seen her after. He had felt a twinge of guilt every time she smiled and waved when he would jog by. He used to feel happy like that when he and Tiana had first met. Some other girl whose name he didn’t even know shouldn’t make him feel happy with just a smile. And yet, that was how it went. He never spoke to her. He never made any attempts. It was always just a smile and a wave. It was his private moment of each day to feel okay. After he had stopped running, he wondered if she noticed he was gone.
A shout drew his attention away from the back of the yellow haired girl’s head. “You’ve driven me to this, Arturo! You’ve left me no choice!”
“Miguel, you get back in there and clean up those bottles and cans before I stick my fist straight down your throat!”
“Idol threats, brother! Big talk from a little man!”
“Don’t you talk to me like that, you stubborn burro!”
Mr. Ortiz and his brother Miguel were standing in front of the bodega shouting at one another. Miguel was dripping wet, his white shirt now orange and purple, was covered in soda and juice. Mr. Ortiz had a mop in his hand.
“You have defective cans of drink! It is not my fault!”
“It is your fault,” Mr. Ortiz spat out some Spanish words, and his brother made a girlish gasp at the obvious insult. “Now, you take this mop, and you clean up every last drop!”
“This is an outrage! This is against labor laws!”
“Which labor laws! Who are you yelling to?”
A small gathering of the neighbors and some other shop owners from the couple doors down were peeking around the edges of their places to listen in on the ordeal but staying a safe distance back.
“The people must know, Arturo! You are a monster of a boss!”
Mr. Ortiz began speaking very rapidly in Spanish. Mrs. Iniguez grabbed her two little girls and pulled them away. The owner of the pizza place next to the bodega began laughing heartily. Miguel pointed his finger in his bother’s face and rattled off words just as quickly.
“That’s it!” Miguel threw up his hands. “Enough of this! I am going on strike!”
Mr. Ortiz whooped a sharp laugh. “You cannot strike! You are my only employee, you stupid ass!”
“Hell no, we won’t go! Hell no, we won’t go” Miguel began marching up and down the sidewalk in front of the bodega.
“That is not how you strike!” Mr. Ortiz’s face was turning redder by the moment.
Miguel grabbed the mop from his hands and began brandishing it like a baton as though leading a grand parade. “Hell no, we won’t go!” he repeated loudly.
“Give me my mop back so I can clean up your mess!”
The two grown men began a game of tug-o-war with the mop. Miguel kept pushing the wet dirty end of it back into Mr. Ortiz’s face. This went on for some time. The crowd grew and shrank over the afternoon as the brothers continued to argue throughout the day. At one point, Miguel found a big piece of cardboard and wrote “ON STRIKE” in red paint on it. Mr. Ortiz made a sign as well that read “Pay No Attention to the Fool With the Sign” and stuck it in his front window.

Quinn sipped the tomato soup off his large spoon and leaned back on the couch, He took a deep breath as the afternoon breeze, warm from the sun, blew through the apartment and brought with it the aroma of fresh bread from somewhere in the neighborhood. He felt an urge to go to the kitchen and get some of his own bread. He craned his neck around and looked back at the cupboard. It was too far for the hassle, so he grabbed the remote instead.
The TV clicked on and the DVD player started up where it had been playing last. A singing puppet was dancing around the screen. Quinn smirked at it. It was the video that Sean had watched over and over again his whole time here. It was an educational show for toddlers, but it wasn’t as annoying as some of the stuff Quinn had remembered seeing on PBS. Of course, it wasn’t as wonderful as Sesame Street. Nothing could beat those Muppets.
“—and now, I shall use what I have learned to complete my dastardly science experiment! MU-HA-HA!”
The puppet was an evil scientist with wild white hair and an even wilder mustache. He was holding up a jar with water in it. Behind him was a creature he was making out of things he found outside in the yard. The whole thing was showing kids the fun there can be outside. Quinn found it silly. The flapping mouth and the flailing arms. And the monster that was coming up soon was the height of silliness.
His attention was drawn to the window by a shrill chirping. He scowled. It was loud and steady and sounded like it was right on the sill. He turned the volume up on the TV, but even the final number the mad scientist was singing didn’t drown out the high-pitched chirp. Quinn grumbled, pulled himself off the couch, and went over to his window.
Just to the right of Quinn’s window was one of the only trees on Bucket Street. It wasn’t a very large tree, but its top most branches were even with the fourth floor. And perched on one of the top branches was a small brown bird. Its head was titling back and forth and it was emitting the quick and piercing chirp. Quinn glared at the thing. “Hey,” he said at it. “That’s really annoying. Cut it out.” But the bird paused just enough to look at him and then chirped on.

He was woken up the next morning by the chirping. It was steady and seemed louder and louder with each one. It was becoming some sort of Chinese torture test to Quinn. And as he made his way from the bedroom to the window, he looked back and forth for something, anything he could throw at the damn thing.
Before he reached the sill, there was a loud yell and the bird flew away. Quinn looked down at the bodega and gave a “here we go” sort of shake of the head.
“What have you done to my sidewalk?” Mr. Ortiz was beside himself in fury. He was standing over great big red letters painted onto the pavement. Miguel, hands red and balled up on his hips, smirked haughtily at his brother. The message read “Ortiz Is Unfiar”.
“Now the whole city will know that you are a cheat and a bad boss!” Miguel said triumphantly.
“You stupid ass!” Mr. Ortiz exploded. “Not only have you ruined my sidewalk, but you ruined it with poor spelling!”
Miguel opened his mouth and then closed it. He looked at the pavement.
Mr. Ortiz thundered on, “Unfair is spelled U-N-F-A-I-R no I-A-R! you worthless ass!”
They began shouting at one another in Spanish and Quinn laughed at them. He glanced around the neighborhood. Plenty of neighbors were enjoying the show as well. Mrs. Norris gave him a wave from her porch, and he waved in return. He heard a crack of wood and guessed that the boys were playing stickball in the vacant lot. He wished he could go join them and suddenly sad, decided to fill his stomach with some breakfast.

That night, Quinn dreamed he was running. His feet fell one in front of the other in perfect rhythm as he sprinted through the city. Each step felt like a warm embrace. Each kick of his leg felt like he was plunging into cool water. It was a sensation of pure joy. He didn’t know where he was running to, but it didn’t matter. He was practically possessed by the run. He felt pulled and pushed at the same time and he thought of nothing but the continued motion of his legs and feet and –
The chirping snapped him back to his bedroom. He exhaled and stared up at the ceiling. The dream drifted away, and the more he dwelled upon it, the less he remembered, until all that remained was the longing.

“Come here,” Quinn cooed at the bird. “Tastes good. Mm-mmm.” He put some of the sunflower seeds in his mouth and licked his lips. “Oh yes, these are the best seeds I’ve ever tasted.”
Out on the branch, the bird tilted its head back and forth looking at the strange man eating sunflower seeds from a bowl.
Quinn set the bowl on the sill and sprinkled a few of the seeds around the dish. He pushed himself away and backed into the room and beside the couch and waited. He locked his eyes upon the bowl and he waited for his nemesis to appear. In his lap, he had a tennis ball, a few magazines, and stale loaf of bread.
He waited with side eyes.
The chirping had ceased.
He swallowed.
And then it appeared. The little brown bird hopped next to the bowl and surveyed it with the tilting of its head back and forth. It eyed the meal, and finally, it pecked at a seed.
Quinn launched the tennis ball at the thing. The bowl of seeds exploded as the ball hit it, and the bird, instead of flying out into the sky, zipped directly into the room. Quinn screamed and began whipping the magazines as hard as he could. “BAAAH! You little – AAAA!” The loaf of bread smashed over the top of the TV sending the small dying plant, several pictures of Rachel and Sean, and the DVD case for the mad puppet scientist into the air. The bird ricocheted all over the room. Quinn threw himself forward with the final magazine and fell face first onto the floor near the elliptical. “Damn you! Damn you effing bird!” He screamed.
On the floor, he grabbed for anything in his reach: the remote, the DVD case, and finally, his running shoes, dusty from disuse. He threw the shoes as hard as he could and they chased after the bird as it flew straight out the window.
Quinn’s breath came in gasps. He was sweating, and there were tears in his eyes, tears of frustration, tears of anger and hate and loathing. He lied there until his heart was resting and his face was no longer as warm, but the anger was still there. He wondered where his shoes were, but then realized he didn’t care.

He flicked the last sunflower seed away with his finger and looked down at the street. Miguel was still there, but he was leaning, his head drooping, against the front window of the bodega. He had nodded off in the hot afternoon sun, and now that it was settling behind the buildings, he had fallen asleep. Mr. Ortiz came waddling out of the store with a garden hose. He aimed it at his younger brother for a moment, but then pointed it at the sidewalk and began spraying away the red letters. Mrs. Norris’s porch chair was empty and the dominos were packed away for the night. Quinn heard one of the mothers calling to her kids for dinner. And dangling from the telephone wire that ran from the pole to the apartment building, Quinn’s shoes swayed in the summer wind. He looked at them and he thought about his dream, and he thought about the yellow haired girl and the park, and he thought about his bad luck, and he sighed sadly and pushed away from the window.

He made his way to the window with no energy left for this battle. The living room was still a mess from yesterday’s assault. He was admitting defeat. He would just have to learn how to deal with this tiny monster.
And then he saw it.
The little brown thing was standing on his windowsill looking at him with something dangling from its beak. Quinn didn’t move any closer, but he could see what it was. It was a piece of shoelace. It was a piece of his shoelace.
The little thing tilted its head back and forth and then set the lace on the sill. It looked at Quinn and chirped one last time. And then it flew away.
Quinn sat at the window for a long while. He held the lace between his fingers and stared up at the blue and white sky. He looked down as Miguel lifted crates of soda off a pallet that had been dropped off before sunrise in front of the bodega. He watched Mrs. Norris walk down to the old men playing dominos and sit with them. And he saw the yellow haired girl carrying her big bag walking toward the park. He drew in a long breath, held it, and then let it slide out. He turned and headed out of his apartment. As he glided down the hall to the elevator, his wheelchair squeaked, and he remembered he needed to get some WD40.

The Bland Angel

To read more of the works created at the Two-Hour Writing Party, visit and enjoy!

"The Bland Angel"
By H.L. Anthanoose

There was nothing special about her, except the way that she walked. She could not dance, and he was certain that she could not sing, but she was exactly what he needed this night. He moved through the dance floor past the other costumed partygoers – Superman, the giant M&M – Ignoring them all. She was the one he needed, her in her disturbingly accurate 1986 Phil Collins costume. Her hair was long and wispy thin. Head down, her bald spot reflected the multi-colored lights, causing him to squint at the momentary brightness. Her brown, suede vest and hairless chest heaved with each coarsely drawn breath, her long furry arms swung at her sides listlessly. Sweating profusely, she was the worst looking woman at the party. She was hideous.
He smiled, but his smile fell, for the pain in his heart swelled again when he realized that even when he tried to be imperfect, he did it perfectly.
His steps shortened. He turned to the noise coming from the karaoke stage. The inane dolt wearing the “This is My Costume” t-shirt singing Power of Love at the karaoke machine stumbled on the words and he wanted to vomit, but he stayed the course. This woman in the Phil Collins costume. Here. Now.
But why was he here tonight? He was here to have a moment that would remind him of what it meant to be Huey Lewis. Huey. Lewis. He needed some excessively mundane being to remind him that it’s okay to be Huey Lewis, because the alternative is being Phil Collins. He had come down from the lonely perfection of his mansion to be among the fans – the creatures he had only known as the countless masses that filled the coliseums he had graced with his existence – the throngs of bodies and faces whose ears he had gifted with his music, eyes he had gifted with his visage, and mouths he had gifted with his sweat. He was among them now disguised as that character he played from that movie he was in where sixteen cameras had shattered in electronic duress attempting to capture and contain his image.
He did it to stay sane, to remain grounded, to overcome the ennui of being a living god.
He looked upon her and she smiled. As usual, he had entranced her. Eyes half closed, she fell forward into his chest, his arms reflexively encircling her, catching her sweat-moistened frame. Her lower lip quivered as their faces neared. The moment was upon him. This was it. She would give him everything he’d been searching for; banality, imperfection, humanity. She would bring him down from his gilded perch in the heavens and inform him of what it was like to be flawed. He came out tonight to slum with these normals, and this was the culmination of the evening’s efforts.
Inches away from her thin lips, he pulled away. His own lips would never know – not could never, but would never, for there is nothing he could not do. He would kiss nothing but the rich full lips of gods and goddesses and unequaled beauties from around the world, men and women alike. He would not bring himself to sully his perfect mouth upon this garbage. His palms were not sweaty. His heart had skipped no beats (it remained keeping perfect four-four time) His penis remained untwitchingly flaccid.
His head turned, his cheek grazed her own. He graced her inner ear with the near inaudible yet no less powerful whisper, for even whispers from his lips are like the endless chorus of God’s heavenly choir singing Crusin’– whispering to her, “Thank you.” Her eyes flicked open and longingly gazed up into his, her chin quivered as if to ask “Why?” But he continued without prompting, “You’ve shown me how it feels to be average.” He turned to march out into the night.
She shouted a wheezing protest, but he did not hear her desperate words. He was ready to be alone again.
As though a weight had been lifted from his pain-ridden heart, he floated past a skinny Hurly from that predictable show Lost and a vomiting Mickey Mouse and reached the exit. Then, his ears perked as the opening notes of It’s All Right echoed through the hall. But it was not all right. He turned sharply.
On the stage, his bland angel, the woman in the disturbingly accurate 1986 Phil Collins costume was decimating his hit song, each word spat out with vengeance and figurative bile and literal bile that dribbled down her stubbled chin and was quickly soaking the already stained orange foam of the discount microphone in her meaty fist.
He rushed to the stage and demanded to know why? Why was she doing this to these innocents: he and his song.
And then it all became clear. She became clear to him as he looked upon her fully for the first time. She was not an ugly woman in a disturbingly accurate 1986 Phil Collins costume. She was Phil Collins. Phil! Collins!
And Phil Collins was laughing in mad glee as It’s All Right became less and less all right. As it became all wrong.
Huey leapt to the stage and forced Phil aside. He needed to show Phil the pain of hearing his own song destroyed. He looked upon the karaoke machine – a machine that displayed the words to the songs being sung. He had no need for such a contraption, as he knew the words to every song that mattered. But he was grateful now to have such a contraption as he thumbed through the catalogue to the Phil Collins page. He glanced down upon the list of songs. “Another Day in Paradise” caught his eye. Yes, that would do.
He began.
But he could not sing it poorly. He could not. He did not have the ability to sing it any other way than perfect.
The room fell to its knees. Batman, Cleopatra, a giant hotdog fell to the ground in gasps. Wonder Woman, a fat Wolverine, a clown – who dresses as a clown? – a fully white President Obama fell to their knees and began chanting the only words that could ever cause Huey Lewis to stop short in distress and suddenly feel as though he had somehow slipped into a world he no longer understood. This was truly a land of confusion. The gathered fallen chanted “Phil. Collins. Phil. Collins.” They turned and approached the disgusting man, and Huey was pushed to the wayside. He watched in utter horror as they raised Phil Collins upon their shoulders.
It was then and there that Huey Lewis had brought the world to a unified belief in a one true lord under the anthem of Another Night in Paradise not knowing that it was he, Huey Lewis who had sung it, but knowing only that Phil Collins had written it. They paraded Phil Collins, their new Lord – their new drug - out into the street – to the world – to the fall of man at the feet of this anti-Christ – nay, this Anti-Lewis.
Huey wept.

The Clean Scar

Here is the February entry for the Two-Hour Writing Party. I'm very happy with this one. Yhough we're not really supposed to have notions in mind going into the game (I feel it should really be spontaneous), I did come to the table this month knowing I wanted to write a female POV story. This tale is dealing with a pretty heavy subject matter from an innocent perspective.

To read more of the Writing Party entries (and why wouldn't you want to?), visit and check them all out.

"The Clean Scar"

Sarah’s mama had a scar across her face that was deep and forever pink; her left hand was missing the smallest two fingers, but she was not frightening to look upon. She had a kindness about her that was more constant and more powerful. Sarah did not fear her, and no one in their small village had an unkind word to say about her.
She had gotten the scar and lost the fingers when Sarah was five years old. When Mr. Cohen had lost control of his plow, it rolled directly into their barn as Mama was hanging laundry across the line. The manic plow tore the wooden structure to shreds with her in it. The whole village went into an immediate uproar at the injury, and they went after Cohen. But Mama came to, Sarah weeping at her side and uncertain what would be underneath all the bloody bandages, Mama stood, pushed passed the doctor, and strode into the town square to tell everyone that Cohen was not to be blamed. He was a good man, and she did not blame him.
Sarah loved her mother, for her heart was so big. No one bothered Mr. Cohen after Mama said not to. And no one said anything about the scars.
The pounding on the door woke Sarah abruptly. She was eight now. She leaned over the edge of her bed and peered down at the center room as Mama shuffled in her nightdress to the door. “I’m coming. I’m coming,” Mama shouted and then muttered, “At this hour. Who would be out?” She opened the door and a man fell face down at her feet. She yelped in surprise. Sarah sat bolt upright in her bed.
Mama held up her full hand and waved her young daughter back. “It’s okay, dear. Stay up there.”
The man did not move. He seemed to lie there motionless, and Sarah wondered how he had ever managed to pound on the door. He looked dead now, not that she had ever seen such a thing.
“Help…” he moaned from the floor.
Mama fell to her knees and pushed the man over onto his back.
Sarah could see this mysterious visitor now. He was in some sort of uniform. She had frequently seen other men dressed like him in the village over the past months. The uniform was an ugly brownish-grey, and around the right arm was a red badge of sorts with a white circle and a strange crooked black cross in the center. Sarah had asked Mama what the men were, but Mama would never say. She would just smile and say, “They are just passing through, my little mouse. They are nothing.”
“Help,” the soldier moaned again. He had red all over his chest and neck, and Sarah knew it was blood, blood like from the plow and the barn.
Mama dragged the man carefully into the entry and grabbed a blanket off the chair by the fireplace. “What is your name, son?” she said softly. “My dear,” she spoke to Sarah now, “bring me the pitcher and some rags.”
“Is he dying?” Sarah asked quietly as she slid off her bed and moved to the ladder. She kept her eyes upon the man; he was breathing loudly, a rattling in his throat.
“Bring me the water, Sarah.”
The man coughed, and crimson came from his lips. He moaned and clutched at the wound in his chest. A pool of blood formed at his throat and dribbled to the floor. “That… that’s…” he was looking to the window were the menorah had three lit candles flickering gently. “That…”
Mama moved so that she was over him and looking down into his face. “Tell me your name,” she said.
His eyes seemed to roll in and out of focus but came to rest upon the pink scar. He took a sharp breath of surprise and then coughed. He looked away. “L-lionel,” he muttered. “Karr.”
“You just relax, Mr. Karr. You just lay there, and I’ll take care of this.”
Sarah set down the pitcher of water and the rags and then stepped back. Her toes curled under her feet and she thought about going up to her slippers. It was winter, December, and the floor was very chilled in the night. She wondered if she should add a log to the dwindling fire. She wondered if the man would want food. She kept wondering about anything other than the blood dripping to the floor underneath the man.
Finally, she crept to the fire and set another log upon it. She did not look back at the visitor anymore.
“Sarah,” Mama said after a long time. “He’s resting now. The man had a blanket over his body and his eyes were tightly closed. He was breathing slowly, and looked very peaceful. Rising, Mama moved to her. Sarah had crawled up onto the chair facing the fire and was hugging her knees. “Will you keep an eye on our friend? I need to go ask Doc Walsh for something for the wound.”
“I can go,” Sarah said quickly. She moved to stand, but Mama put her hands softly upon her shoulders and kept her in the chair. “Just look after him. He’ll sleep.”
Sarah was alone at the fire now.
The soldier groaned in his sleep and Sarah turned to look at him. He moved slightly and touched his bandage. His eyes flickered open and Sarah looked at his face completely, for the first time.
He was young. His skin was smooth, but he had purple under his eyes, which were odd to her. One was brown and one was green. She had never seen such a thing. Their eyes held, but then he drifted back to sleep and she was left staring once more at his young face. She moved to the fire and without realizing it, she fell asleep.
“You know you saved my life?” the soldier’s voice came in the darkness behind Sarah’s eyes as she came out of her deep slumber. Mama’s voice came, “You were hurt. What else would anyone have done?”
Peeking through her lids, Sarah did not open her eyes fully nor move suddenly to let them know she was waking.
“Others… would have let a person like me--”
“Others do not know the blackness that can be put upon the soul by simple acts,” Mama said. “He looks down on us always.”
The man thought a moment and then said quietly, so quietly, Sarah had to hold her breath to hear him over the crackle of the fire next to her. “I don’t believe in that fantasy.”
She could hear the smile in Mama’s words, “No one is asking you to, Mr. Karr.”
He did not say anything else.
“Do you want any more water?”
He must have nodded because he was slurping then.
Sarah kept her eyes closed, and soon fell asleep once again.
The man with the different colored eyes was gone when Sarah awoke to the warm sun cast upon her face the next morning. She stirred and a blanket that had been draped over her fell to the floor. She looked around to the kitchen and found Mama, her back to her, at the stove. Sarah stood and then pulled the blanket back over her shoulders. Though the sun was warm, it was still winter and the cold snuck into the cottage easily.
In the kitchen, she stood alongside Mama and rested her head into Mama’s arm. Mama lifted her arm about, and, still stirring the breakfast porridge, stoked Sarah’s dark hair with her three-fingered hand. They did not speak about the man who had fallen through their door.
Some time came and went, a soon Sarah had grown many inches and Mama’s hair had become a little more white than any of her blonde. They were walking from market when Sarah saw a crowd gathered around Mr. Cohen’s shop. They were all laughing and some even clapping. Mr. Cohen was standing a top his display and stomping carelessly over his tomatoes while shouting at two men in the ugly soldier’s uniforms. They had rifles slung over their shoulders, but they were not using them.
“You tell your master he has no place here! You tell your god forsaken devil of a master that he will burn for what he is doing!” Cohen was screaming louder and more franticly as he avoided the grasps of the soldiers, though they did not seem to be trying too hard to capture him. Cohen went on, shouting to the gathered crowd now, “They’re going to take us all away, you hear me? They are going to take us to those structures they’ve raised and we’ll never be seen again! They have machines there! They have contraptions that – that take the souls out of people! They have machines and death and – and we’ll all be destroyed! Do you not hear me? Their soulless, unclean devil master is – is coming down like – like a dragon!” The crowd laughed at the crazed man as he kicked squashed tomatoes at the two men.
Sarah looked confusedly at her mother, and then moved to get a closer look, but Mama held her hand. “No, let’s not be involved. We have shopping to do.”
“But,” Sarah began to protest.
“We have shopping,” and Mama walked them the other direction. Sarah could still hear Cohen screaming and the crowd laughing at the odd scene.
It was winter again, and the wind was biting. It sliced into the house and Sarah’s teeth chattered ever waking moment. She was nearly twelve now. She waited for the clock to chime so that she could put another log down, when a heavy pounding sounded at the door. Mama was out, so Sarah moved to answer the door.
“Open up!” a deep guttural shout ordered from the other side of the door.
Sarah hesitated. “Who…?” she began, but the door tore open with a snap of wood at the bolt. She screamed in horror and stumbled back.
A man in the strange military uniform stepped swiftly into her home and was followed by two more men with guns in their hands. The lead man shouted angrily at Sarah, and in her fright, she did not hear a word. He grabbed her around the wrist and she screamed loudly. She did not know where her mother was. She could not think. She could not feel her feet as the man pulled her into the snowy yard and toward the market. He kept yelling at her and the other men. She could feel the edges of her nightgown growing damp and she knew her feet were covered in mud now.
The market was full of people, everyone for the village it seemed. And they were all shouting and crying, and they were all so confused. Sarah was screaming for her mother, but she was crying too hard to know if the words were even escaping her throat. She was thrown into the muddy snow at the feet of so many, and tears were in her eyes. And she thought she could hear her mother shouting over the chaos.
“You will let me pass, sir! My daughter is alone in there, and you will let me pass!
Sarah got to her feet with the help of some hands and she could see a parting in the crowd before her. It was her mother she heard. The soldiers were moving into a half circle facing the villagers, and Mama was before them forcing them back. She was raising here voice, and it was an unfamiliar sound; it was something none of them had ever heard. Sarah’s mama was shouting.
“You get back! You all get back! Now! All of you!” Mama carried on. She had tomatoes in her basket, and she was now throwing them at the men, and it was not funny like when Mr. Cohen had been doing it. No one was laughing now. It was quiet and only the wind now dared hiss in the village square.
The man who had dragged Sarah from her warm home, who had dragged her from the warmth and safety of the fire stepped forward and raised his pistol to Mama, and he sneered with yellow teeth.
“WAS IS LOS!” a voice boomed and the soldier turned sharply along with the other men in the uniforms. “What is this!” the voiced repeated and a man stepped through the ranks. The strange uniformed men all seemed to snap into a straight posture and looked forward with rigid stares. This man was in a different uniform, cleaner and more warmly dressed. He had a thick black beard that covered the bottom of his face, but it did not soften his yell. He marched over to the man pointing the pistol at Mama and barked at him, “What is the meaning of this scene?”
“The woman,” the yellow-toothed soldier said. “She was…”
“Then you end it!” the other barked viciously. He snatched the pistol and walked closer to Mama. He looked down at her and raised his arm straight.
Sarah screamed in horror and shoved her way out of the silent crowd. She flung herself over her mother and put herself between the gun and its target. The man shouted and waved his flinching soldiers back. “Nein!” He moved to the mother and the child and pulled Sarah off Mama. Sarah looked up at the man defiantly, unblinking.
And she knew that he would not kill them.
The beard had grown thick over his once young face and there were cracks at the edges of his eyes, one brown and one green. He stood motionless over them, the gun pointed at the snow and mud.
“Sir…” the other soldier said.
“We received orders from an imposter,” Karr said sharply though still remained staring down at Mama and Sarah. “A saboteur.”
“S-sir?” the other said.
Karr turned sharply and faced the man and all the men. He shouted again in a very authoritative voice, “This saboteur is believed to be English, and he is on the move East. We must track him down before he can destabilize anymore of our missions. We must move NOW if we are to capture this man.”
The men hesitated for only an instant, and then all of them moved every which way with purpose. They grabbed up crates and filled up their vehicles. They moved in organization without ever looking back once for any more orders.
Karr looked down upon Mama and Sarah; he looked up at the shocked yet still silent village. He said nothing. He looked into Mama’s scarred face one last time and then turned on his heels and stomped away.
Before the sun could warm into Spring, the village was empty. Mr. Cohen’s field was overgrown and thick with tomatoes, but he was not there to pick them. Sarah heard that the buildings in the North that had the contraptions that took people’s souls were getting bigger and there were tales of more of them, but she did not listen to the tales. She laughed with the others and smiled with her Mama as they moved further and further from the village. She never asked questions. No one did, that she ever heard.

The Old Wound

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The Old Wound
H. L. Anthanoose

His eye caught the picture hanging on the wall next to him. It was of a beautiful man’s face, if it could be called a face, for other faces pale in comparison to this one true face – a face that caused other, at the sight of it, to refer to their own faces as “mugs” or “eye holders” or even “head condoms”… No, no condoms, they would think, we’re raw dogging this one. The face in the portrait looking – glancing even, to the right with high cheekbones, a face like the love child of the devil and an angel; a face that could only be described as celestial; a face that could only be named Huey. It was amazing, gorgeous even; a portrait of Huey Lewis looking his absolute best, and then, his heart leaping high from his freshly shorn chest, hairless and glistening, he realized it was not a portrait at all. It was in fact a mirror, and he was Huey. Lewis. And he was the best at what he does. The Best. And that was writing amazing smash songs instantly entered into the annals of musical history – nay, World History – songs like Hip To Be Square, one of the greatest songs he had ever heard. And others. He had known people to collapse in quivering ecstasy and spontaneous orgasms having heard it. His heart hurt thinking about what his talent had wrought and what it had given him, Huey Lewis. Huey Lewis. It was an old injury, his heartache, his cardiac empathy – an injury that flared up every time he realized just how much money he had and what a problem it was. He had to write a new hit. He pressed his pen to paper, and suddenly, transcending, as often happened when inspiration flushed from his brain, the splendid, endless circuitry of his neural galaxy that was more of a holy light behind his smoldering face. Another gift to the world ejaculated from his soul and when he regained his senses, he looked down upon the page before him and his heart thumped and the old injury returned to him. “No!” he cursed aloud in the voice that makes God jealous. “Another masterwork of genius. Another greatest song of all time.” He hesitated wondering if the defenseless world was ready to have their ears penetrated by a ineffable aria. Again. Another reason-to-live for the musical world to both curse the name Huey Lewis whilst simultaneously wishing they could feel his lips upon theirs, men and women alike. The title and tune rang from his holy light within his face and he mouthed the words in awe: “I Want a New Drug”. God it was incredible being Huey Lewis. Huey. Lewis. Fucking incredible.

The picture smiled.


Here is another Writing Party entry. The criteria this time was the following:

Money problems
A character whose the best at what they do
A new drug
Important picture or painting
An Old Injury

This is the first entry of mine that I'm not satisfied with. I had to rush to meet the two hour time limit, and I think my ending suffered. I'm considering doing a second pass on this for when the Parties are collected, but for now, I present it as it was originally written in two hours.

And, if you would like to read more of the Writing Party short stories, then get on over to and read, read read! There are some really great pieces over there!

The trunk was cramped, as most trunks feel when a person is stuffed inside of them against their will. Really though, a person isn’t meant to be inside the trunk of a car, so willing or not to get into one and shut it, it will tend to feel cramped. I suppose you could lower the seat back and stretch out, but even then, there isn’t sufficient enough cushioning, and the plastic pieces and metal will dig and prod and be generally uncomfortable. Being thrown into a trunk, though, particularly when it’s a sudden and unplanned event, will maximize discomfort, as there is very little time to arrange the items within and plan an optimal position. So, yes, it was cramped.
Emmett tried to move his shoulder so that it was not pushing so severely into the spare tire and he wondered why the spare wasn’t underneath the flooring. He would have to ask about that when the car stopped.
As though reading his mind, a highly unlikely event as it is a known fact that cars cannot read minds, the car came to a stop. There was the opening and closing of the two front doors and a scrapping of feet rounding the vehicle. Metal on metal grunted as the key entered the lock and a POP! followed and light splashed into his deep blue eyes blinding him momentarily.
Two men looked down into the trunk and sneered. The first one was a tall dark man with a well-trimmed beard that lined his jaw. The second was a bit shorter and had a face like a rat; his mustache even appeared to be sticking out from his face like whiskers.
The first growled, “Grab him.”
“Why do I have to grab him? He bit me before,” the second held up his arm and pointed and the reddened patch of skin just past his elbow.
“There’s a sock in his mouth, he won’t bite you again. Now, quite being a little bitch and grab him!”
Emmett waited until the fat hands were clasped around the ropes binding him, and then he pushed the sock out of his mouth and bit the man’s arm again, this time jerking his head to the side to try and rip flesh.
Emmett was halfway out of the trunk when he was let go. He fell out, hit the bumped with his shoulder and went face first into the hard ground. He forced himself over immediately and said, “Why don’t people ever do that? Push the gag out? It’s easy if you just move your tongue like this.” He swished his tongue back and forth showing the two men. “It’s the easiest thing, really. People are always struggling or whatever, when really it’s just,” he did it again.
Put your tongue away or I’ll cut it out!” The first man barked, bent down, and yanked Emmett to his feet. He threw him back against the car and pointed at him. “You’re going to…”
“YOU SON OF A BITCH!” The second man was still hopping mad and made to swing his meaty fist at Emmett, but the first snapped at him.
“ENOUGH!” He pointed back at Emmett, “You are going to stop talking, you got me? I’ve had just about enough of your constant yammering, and I’m seriously considering cutting your throat. So, shut up. You got me?”
Emmett considered the finger waving just an inch from his nose, but decided he had had enough sweaty thug today and looked up at the man. “Sure, no more biting.”
“Who said anything about biting? I said no talking!”
“How are we going to get anywhere if we don’t talk?” Emmett asked. It was of course a logical question. Emmett certainly didn’t know sign language, and he was certain neither of these men knew it either, though if they did, it would make no difference, as he, as mentioned, did not know it.
“WE will be talking! YOU will be shutting the hell up!”
“So, you do want more biting, because I wouldn’t want to, but if you’re saying biting is okay and talking is not, I’ll bite, bite, bite away, to make you happy of course. I aim to please.”
“Don’t let him bite me again, Lincoln,” the fat one whimpered and nursed his arm, blood flowing from the gash.
“NO! No more fucking biting!”
“Biting out. Got it,” Emmett agreed that the matter was closed. “Now, what do you guys want to talk about?”
“For the love of – Come’ere!” The first man, Lincoln now, grabbed the front of Emmett’s shirt and pulled him hard. They began walking away from the car.
Emmett took a look around him. He had not taken in the scene up until now, possibly because he was suffering the effects of cannibalism, which some say causes issues with focus, but come to think of it, Emmett hadn’t swallowed any of the fat man’s skin, so there was no chance he was suffering disillusionment due to cannibalism. So, really, it was just a lack of observation that was only now allowing him to take in the location of this ongoing kidnapping.
They were in some sort of forest. There were tall trees all around them so thick that he could not see any signs of civilization. There was most likely nonhuman civilization out there in the trees, bear colonies and obviously a great number of insects, but no human civilization in sight. There was only the dirt path they had driven up on, the small clearing where the car was parked, and, just ahead, their destination: a cabin.
“Nice cabin. What is that? Maple? I’ve never actually seen a log cabin before. I mean, I had Lincoln’s Logs when I was little, but that can hardly be called a log cabin once constructed.”
“Did you just say ‘Lincoln’s Logs? Isn’t it Lincoln Logs?” The fat one asked.
“Is it?”
“Bagman, shut your fat face,” Lincoln jerked Emmett roughly and continued them on toward the cabin.
“I’ve just never heard anyone call it that before. I could swear it’s Lincoln,” Bagman waddled quickly to keep pace.
“I’m pretty sure it’s Lincoln’s Logs,” Emmett said with certainty. “Possessive. They’re his logs.”
“Weren’t you just saying they were your logs? You had them right? I mean, you’d say they were your logs, not Lincoln’s, unless he owned them. So, Lincoln here, he could say his Lincoln Logs were Lincoln’s Logs, but only ‘cause they were in fact his.”
Lincoln growled miserably.
“But that would be talking in the third person. He’d just say ‘My Logs’, right?”
Bagman considered this and then nodded. “Good point.
“That’s assuming he owned any in the first place. Did you ever own any, Lincoln’s Logs, Lincoln?” Emmett asked.
“Yes,” Lincoln said through his teeth and pushed Emmett onto the porch of the cabin.
“Ah!” Emmett exclaimed, “So, when you think about it, Lincoln here had, in fact, Lincoln’s Lincoln’s Logs!”
Bagman smiled with his eyes closed nodding, but then stopped, his mouth hanging open. “This is hurting my brain.”
“No doubt,” Emmett said smartly.
“YOU BOTH ARE GIVING ME A HEADACHE! NOW SHUT UP!” Lincoln banged on the door.
From inside came a sweet woman’s voice, “Come in.”
Lincoln shoved the door open and yanked Emmett inside forcefully. Bagman followed.
The cabin instantly reminded Emmett of his grandmother’s house. She too had been fond of flower-patterned things. Like his Nana, the couch here was covered in roses, stitched meticulously over every inch. There were velvet paintings on the walls, long stemmed plastic flowers in flower painted vases on top of flower shaped doilies on wooden tables and shelves craved decoratively with flowers. He considered the repercussions of this many actual flowers on someone who had allergies. Certainly, there would be many boxes of tissues necessary to contain all of the fluids. It would be quite a snotty mess.
“Ah, our appraiser is here. How wonderful,” the old woman sitting in a high-backed red chair patterned with daisies smiled sweetly up at the three of them. In her hands were two long needles which she was using to stitch with yarn. She had perfect white perfectly straight teeth that could only be dentures; no one has teeth so perfect at the age she so obviously was; easily in her eighties. She set aside the embroidering she holding and flattened out her dress. “Come, come,” she said and waved to them. “Come closer, so I can have a look at you.”
Lincoln shoved Emmett and held tight to the back of his shirt. He presented him to the woman.
“Now, now, Linn,” the woman said in a sugary voice, “Don’t be so rough with our guest.”
“Yeah, Linn,” Emmett said out of the corner of his mouth, and Lincoln clenched his jaw at the nickname.
“Why don’t you untie our friend?” the woman said and looked to Lincoln waiting.
“But,” he began but was cut short by her wide pale eyes, which looked at him unblinking.
Emmett felt the ropes loosen. It was an incredible relief to feel his wrists again, like coming out of a sweltering hot day and sliding into a cool bath. He touched each wrist and flexed his fingers. He looked back at the two men and then at the awful decor on the walls that he decided now wouldn’t have been up to his Nana’s standards. Too tacky, she would say. Then, he looked at the embroidery that the woman had been working on, a flower, surprise, surprise. Then, he looked down at the woman before him. Her face appeared to have been carved from wood; it was covered in deeply etched cracks from her advanced years. If he had to guess a wood type though, he would not. Aside from the fact that the only wood he could identify was maple, and that was from growing up in the city where the only tree for miles that wasn’t made a plastic or metal was the maple tree in the courtyard of his apartment complex, people aren’t generally made from wood, except Pinocchio, and he was a real boy, or rather, would be a real boy, if that was a tale based on fact, which surely it wasn’t. Or was it?
Someone cleared their throat, and Emmett snapped back to the moment. He smiled. “This is some place you got here,” he said. “I’ve never actually seen a log cabin before, except the ones I made with my Lincoln’s Logs when I was--”
“Sit down, dear,” the woman instructed with a smile, but there was something very powerful within the words, and Emmett sat immediately on the couch next to her, his lips tight.
Bagman moved closer and began serving tea to the woman. His hands were shaking and caused the glass to chatter as he poured. The liquid was scalding hot, and Bagman winced occasionally. He had pulled the sleeve of his shirt down over his wound, but a drop of blood had appeared on the fabric. He went to move away, but the woman clicked her tongue. “Now, now, Lenny. Don’t be rude. Our guest too, please.”
“Oh thanks,” Emmett said. “I need to get the taste of fat man out of my mouth. Two helpings today.” He winked at Bagman who sneered in return, but said nothing.
“Linn,” the woman looked to Lincoln,” Were is the item?”
Lincoln moved out of the room momentarily and reappeared with a large painting in an ornate frame. It was interestingly not a painting of flowers. There was a man in the painting looking out at Emmett with deep blue eyes and a thick brow that hung low. He had a disapproving frown that made Emmett look away in an odd shame. Lincoln held it up for the woman so that she could look it over.
“Very nice. Very nice,” she said in a singsong manner and beckoned Lincoln to hand it to her. “Now, let’s get down to business, shall we? The matter for which you have been brought her today, young man.” She looked at Emmett with her smile, which more and more, Emmett was beginning to feel resembled a sneer rather than anything remotely warm. She held up the painting. It was roughly three feet by three feet, and she disappeared behind it, though her voice continued through it. “This is the final piece by famed artist Ludovico Rienheart. After a career of wildly popular pieces – pieces that to this day the well to-do’s all over the world spend millions of dollars to own – Ludovico Reinheart ceased to paint for nearly two decades. And then, on his deathbed, he decided to paint one final piece as a tribute to all who would come after him,” she giggled girlishly to herself and went on, “as though this piece would be an inspiration to his descendents, none of which have ever become known for anything important whatsoever. It has no value. It is literally priceless.”
Lifting the piece over her head so that she could look into Emmett’s eyes for an instant. She then smashed the painting to the floor. The frame splintered in half and the backing tore revealing a pair of plastic baggies duct taped to the back of the piece. The woman folded her hands in her lap and continued to look at Emmett with her grey eyes.
Lincoln kicked aside the pieces of the painting and picked up the two baggies that they could all now see were filled with round pale pink beads. Lincoln handed them to the woman.
“Do you know what this is?” she asked Emmett.
“Oh sure,” Emmett said with a wide grin.
She waited. He did not go on. “And?” she asked.
“And what? I thought it was a rhetorical question, like when someone asks you how you’re doing. They don’t really want to hear a long explanation about the ins and outs of your week and why you’ve been sleeping poorly and what your boss has been putting you through. They just want a quick, I’m fine, and move along. I didn’t think you actually didn’t know what that stuff is. I thought you were just trying to move this conversation along. I mean, you smashed open that priceless work of art like you knew you’d find two bags in the back of it, so I just assumed that you knew that inside those bags was nearly two million dollars worth of Cas-M, and you weren’t actually asking me to tell you.”
He finished and she continued to smile her cold dead smile. “A simple yes, ma’am will do fine next time.”
“He’s been babbling like an idiot like that since we grabbed him,” Lincoln growled.
“Thought for sure someone would hear him and knick us,” Bagman said.
“When I want to hear from you two, I will speak to you two,” she said to them without looking, and they both snapped their mouths shut after mumbling, Yes, ma’am.
Emmett touched the tea cup that had been poured for him, but the woman’s icy hand reached up and pressed the top of his. It felt like the wax from a candle that had been blown out that hand not quite gone solid yet. It was unsettling and gross and Emmett pulled his hand back trying not to show on his face that touching the old lady had been “icky”.
The woman spoke dreamily and sipped her own tea. “I would like you to tell me how much this will make my lovely boys on the market. I would like you to assure me that this is the finest product available, and I would like you to assure me that you will make more.” She set her cup down on her plate and then looked at him, “Then you may have your tea.”
“What makes you think that I know anything about this stuff?”
“Other than the fact that you identified it without hesitation?”
“Lucky guess?” Emmett smiled.
“Lincoln, dear?”
“Yes, ma’am.”
She said while looking at Emmett, “Break or friend’s arm, please.”
Lincoln stepped once, and Emmett jerked back into the couch. He was not in the mood to have his arm broken, though how often is anyone really in the mood to have a limb broken? Emmett began quickly to stop the advancing man, “I’ll tell you! I can tell you. No need to break arms! I broke my leg once – right across the femur. It was awful. Had to wear a cast all summer. I still have a limp. Makes me nuts in the winter. There are pins in there and the get cold from the inside. It’s terrible. I don’t want another broken anything, so yes, yes I’ll tell you all about that shit.”
The woman waved Lincoln back. He did not hide his disappointment.
She handed Emmett one of the bags. “Tell me what you know about this wonderful substance,” she smiled, and Emmett decided once and for all that it was the most mirthless smile he’d ever seen, and that was say a lot. He had gone to Catholic school where nuns were forbidden to show joy, so that when they did, it was not pleasant. Plus he had an instant of happiness to have an appropriate use for the word mirthless.
“Cas-M is the most powerful drug ever created. It is a hallucinogen that allows the user to lucid dream without any brain damage. It is a painkiller that could put an elephant down. It is so many things.” Emmett described in detail the many qualities of the substance – qualities so complex and interesting that any user of heavy drugs would be foaming at the mouth reading the details – details so elicit they cannot be put to written word, thus making those hoping to read the details sorely let down and wishing they were in the room with Emmet, the woman, Lincoln and Bagman.
“How do you know all that?” Bagman asked suddenly after Emmett had ended his long explanation.
I created it,” Emmett replied as the woman shot a look at the fat man. “I heard there was money to be made in the drug business, and I wasn’t exactly rich by any stretch of the imagination. You should see the student loans I’m paying back. The degrees I have in medicine and chemistry, I’ll tell you what. So I made it my life goal to come up with an item so good, so unbelievable, that there wouldn’t be a drug lord out there who wouldn’t want my stuff. And ultimately, I could get to the biggest and nastiest kingpins – I could get to the top of any cartel I wanted. Including the one that smuggles their supplies into this country using artwork and artifacts museums would murder for.”
The woman’s eyes narrowed on him. “An awful lot of work, for such a little loudmouth. Your talents – your efforts could surely have been put to better use in this world.”
Emmett shrugged, “But then I never would have gotten the last of my collection.”
It happened in an instant, and everything that followed happened even faster. Emmett gave a casual glance past the old woman’s legs and to the painting on the floor. She saw him do this, and her mouth cracked open in realization. Emmett grabbed the two large knitting needles and in one move, thrust them into the woman’s chest. He grabbed the tea pot and whipped it wide sending the contents into both Lincoln’s and Bagman’s faces. Bagman, receiving the majority of the hot tea screamed and collapsed. Lincoln reached into his coat and before he could remove his knife, Emmett was on him. Emmett’s hands clasped tightly and quickly around Lincoln’s thick neck killing him with a swinging snap.
Emmett was hardly winded. He took a long breath and looked down at Lincoln, then to the old woman, both dead. He looked over at Bagman, who was crying and moaning on the floor. Emmett took one of the bags from the lifeless waxy hands of the woman and tossed it to the floor near Bagman. “That’s mostly aspirin,” Emmett said. “Extra strength, so it’ll help a bit while you gat it together enough to get help.”
Emmett then looked at the painting on the floor. He carefully picked it up and tenderly rolled it. He touched it to his lips in a thankful way and sighed.
Emmett pushed open Lincoln’s jacket with the tip of his show and bent down to remove the car keys. He walked over to the door and looked back one last time. “By the way, it is Lincoln Logs. I was just messing with you.” Bagman moaned loudly not hearing him. “Just thought you’d like to know.”
The engine came to life, and Emmett rolled down the forest path and toward the highway many miles away. It was going to be a long ride home, but it would be worth it. He knew exactly where his grandfather’s painting was going to go.

Thursday in the Spring

Another Writing Party has come and gone, and once more, I present to you all my submission to the Game. Enjoy, and feel free to check out the rest of the gang playing along at And VOTE too if you feel so inclined.

(Oh, and apologies to my mother for the foul language in this one. It was the character, not me. Don't be too ashamed of me.)

a bouquet of dead roses
grizzled veteran
a race
theme of accomplishing goals

“Thursday in the Spring”

“Just give them to her.”
“I can’t give them to her. They’ve been in that box for like, a week. I don’t even know what they’ll look like.”
“Then open the damn box!”
“Shut up.”
“Don’t tell me to shut up. Open the damn box and look at the fucking things.”
“Chad! I heard that!” From the back of the store, Deanna shouted. She was restocking the shelves of the returned movies since there was little else to do.
Chad and Ethan were sitting on the carpet next to the drop box. Ethan had the scanner in his hand and whenever the occasional DVD fell in with a snap of the metal return guard, he ran the red laser over the barcode. Chad had his shoe and tanned white sock off and was picking his toenails with a staple.
Chad inspected a rather large brown piece of whatever closely and then flicked it away. He blew through his lips. “Deanna, this store is a ghost town. Saying fuck at the top of my lungs doesn’t matter. I could be murdering a vagrant next to the kids movies and no one have a clue.”
“No cursing, or I’ll write you up,” Deanna’s voice came from the new releases along the back wall.
Chad gave her the finger.
“That counts,” she said from the back.
Chad snorted.
Ethan set the scanner down and leaned over to his backpack, the long box from Aiello’s that he’d been carrying around for a week was sticking out of the top. The corner was bent and there was a black scuff along the exposed side from when he had been waiting at the bus stop on Thursday and the Navy Guy had bothered him for change. Ethan had politely stepped away but bumped the side of the shelter thus the black mark.
The flowers inside were roses, and there was a very good chance that the smell he had kept experiencing these past few days – the rotting smell like that of the lower bin in his fridge with the old fruit his roommate always bought but never ate – there was a very good chance that the smell was the roses, dead.
He sighed and leaned against the cupboard.
A metallic groan.
A snap.
Chad lunged and grabbed the returned DVD of Inside Man. “Mine!”
Ethan snatched the scanner. “Nope.”
“Fuck you! I grabbed it! Gimme the gun.”
“Chad!” Deanna scolding.
Ethan rolled away and hopped up to his feet. He aimed the red laser at Chad’s hand and attempted to scan the barcode.
“Hell no!” Chad moved fast for a fat guy and the barcode escaped. Ethan bent and moved to aim again, but just as he did, Chad grabbed the spiral black cord of the scanner and yanked it hard. Ethan fell forward and the gun flew from his fingers.
There were a couple of crashes: Ethan falling into Chad and the two of them falling out of the checkout island into the display for the more than likely stale foot-long gummi snakes no one ever buys. As they crushed that display, the scanning gun whipped back at the register and sent the keyboard toppling off the counter. Crash. Crashier.
“What the fuck, guys!?” Deanna came running over with a stack of ten DVD cases still in her hands.
Chad looked up at her with mock shock. “Deanna! No cursing!”

Ethan was sitting on the counter top by the video game discs. His feet dangled letting his heels bang against the cabinet underneath him. To his right was a garbage bin, the stems of dead roses poking out and a crumpled box on top. In Ethan’s hands was a notebook. He was scribbling something. He would look at the few words, his face twisted in thought, and then he’d flip his pencil over and scribble out the words. Then he’d tap his eraser against his lips feeling the warmth from friction and look up at the ceiling.
Deanna came over to him. She was actually a year younger than Ethan, but she appeared older. She was overweight but did not care. She dressed in tight clothes showing off her large breasts and even larger ass. Ethan had no physical attraction to her whatsoever, but she was kind, and he like her because of her kindness. She pushed her freshly highlighted blonde hair away from her eyes and leaned on the counter next to Ethan, her arm just touching his knee, an intentional gesture. “Whatchu writing there, hun?”
Ethan adjusted himself so he could look at her, but really he moved so that his leg was no longer in contact with her arm. “Nothing.”
“Aw, come on. What is it?” She playfully tried to peer down at the notepad. “Looks like a song or something.
Ethan hopped off the counter folding the notebook closed. “It’s just homework.”
“Come on!” Deanna laughed and reached for him.”
Forget it.” He stepped off the island and moved around the checkout. “I’m going to go see what Chad’s doing.
Deanna pouted and stuck out her tongue attempting to appear cute. “You’re no fun anymore.”
Ethan shrugged with an innocent smile to hide his annoyance. “Sorry, dude. I’ll work on it.”
Outside, he found Chad along the side of the video store by the dumpster. He had arranged the gummi snakes along the lip of the large metal container evenly spaced. He was using a piece of string to link them all together.
“You were supposed to just toss those things,” Ethan walked closer. “What the hell are you doing?”
Chad grinned proudly lifting his furry chin and displaying his teeth. He looked like a mental case. “I am laying a trap.”
Ethan rolled his eyes. “Oh yeah? And what exactly are you laying a trap for, you freak show?”
“That homeless guys who’re always coming around here. I see them picking through the trash all the time. Next time one of ‘em comes here, he’s gonna have a little surprise waiting. Heh-heh.”
Ethan raised an eyebrow.
Chad went on. “He’ll come over here,” he acted it out in exaggerated movements like Daffy Duck explaining something. “He’ll be all >sniff sniff “Dost?”
“Why…” Chad leaned close to a gummi snake, a red and white one, “Why ‘tis food! A meal ripe for the plucking!” He lifted his fingers close and moved them greedily like a puppeteer with a marionette. “Why a meal I shall have this night, verily!” Chad laughed and looked at his friend. “And then he’ll grab one and SNAP! Like a mouse trap.”
Ethan shrugged. “I don’t get it.”
“What’s not to get?” Chad sneered at the stupidity. “It snaps down on him.
Ethan shook his head. “But how?”
Chad grunted and grasped one of the snakes. “Like this, retard.” And the top of the dumpster came smashing down on Chad’s head nearly knocking him off his feet.
“Oh,” Ethan attempted to hide his amusement.
“Godammit! You did that on purpose!” Chad complained and rubbed his head gingerly. “Now I gotta set it all up again.”
“Come on,” Ethan said. “Let’s see if Deanna will let up go get lunch early. There hasn’t been a customer in an hour.” And he turned to walk off.
“What do we have here?” Chad suddenly snatched the notebook from the back of Ethan’s pants.
“Ah-ah! No touchy, E! Sexual harassment!”
“Give it back, Chad!”
“What is this? What is this? Poems? HA HA! You are so gay!”
The two of them were running around the parking lot, Chad moving swiftly for a larger guy, Ethan too scrawny to get his book back. Chad had a page open and read aloud, “Oh Victoria how I dream of your touch. When our eyes are locked, I feel you so much. Dude! This is shit!”
Ethan picked up an empty McDonald’s cup and whipped it at the other. “Stop it, dude!”
Chad read on, “Your skin so soft and I long for your embrace. I want to put my lips on your face. Oh my Christ it’s a good thing you’re a math major. This is garbage.”
Ethan’s face was red with anger and embarrassment. “Give it back, fat ass.”
Chad jumped up on the bed of his pick-up truck and read proclaiming loudly, “Sweet Victoria, I know we do not know one another very well, but I think you are the most incredible soul. I cherish our time, albeit short, with one another, and I often wonder if we could ever spend time away from the walls of this accursed video store.”
Ethan stood defeated on the ground and looked up at Chad. “Whatever,” was all he could mumble.
Chad looked down on him and started to say with honesty, “Dude, this last one is really sweet,” but he stopped short on the last word. His face drained. Ethan turned around expecting to see Deanna ready to scream at them for screwing around.
At the edge of the sidewalk only a few feet away was a slender girl with pitch black hair that hung to her shoulders. She had a thin stripe pf bright blue in her bangs. Her freckled skin made her appear both pale and tan at the same time, and her features were odd in a wonderful way. She was not white, that was obvious. She was most likely Asian. She was very pretty, and she did not know it. She was holding a pair of DVDs ready for return, but she was staring at Ethan. They stood without speaking for - what it felt like to him – forever.
“Dude,” Chad muttered apologetically.
Victoria held out the movies and said, “I just wanted to return these.”
Ethan somehow managed to step forward and take the two cases.
“They were very good. Thanks for recommending them.”
Ethan may have said something in return, but he didn’t remember. Victoria gave a polite smile and blushed slightly. She walked away without another word.
Ethan stood there.

“—and a number seven,” Chad said reluctantly. “Can’t believe we gotta buy Deanna’s lunch too. Like she could use another hamburger.”
Ethan was staring at the menu. He wasn’t really hungry.
“See me?” Chad patted his belly. “I know how to wear my weight. I’m like a big sexy bear – like a Kodiak bear with sexiness.”
Ethan looked at the kid behind the register and then decided he wasn’t hungry. He shook his head.
Chad paid for the meal and took the receipt.
“Sorry about that, man.” Chad said seriously. He hung his head. He really did feel bad. “I was just fucking around.”
“Yeah,” Ethan said. “I know.”
“Hey, buck up lil’ buddy,” Chad attempted and punched Ethan’s shoulder. “I was thinking before, you know Inside Man could really be the alternate porn title for a porn version of Inside Man? You wouldn’t have to change the title. Just: Inside MAN. Get it?”
Ethan nodded. He said with a little spirit, “It’s all in the delivery. Like, INSIDE Man doesn’t sound dirty--”
Chad finished, “But Inside MAN totally does.”
There was a woman with a small boy in a booth nearby. She was scowling at the pair. Ethan looked away with wide eyes and a silent “oops”, but Chad simply looked back, “Pfft! You like it.”

Walking back across the plaza, Chad was eating Deanna’s burger with Ethan was silently weighing his options. On the one hand, Victoria could’ve missed the fact that all of that was about her. She probably only heard the last little bit… Of course, her name was in it… but that could be anyone – another Victoria! And Chad was reading it, so maybe it was about…
But he couldn’t kid himself. He knew it had been written all over his face. He had no choice. She knew he liked her, so he was just going to have to quit Family Video and go to college out of state next year in Zimbabwe or Madagascar or the moon. Yeah, the moon.
There was a commotion at the front of the store. They couldn’t see what was going on at first, but they could hear it, a loud gravely shouting. “I didn’t fucking loose my eye in the godamn Pacific to let you fuckers just take over! I didn’t!”
“The hell?” Chad frowned.
“I killed more of you fuckers than you got us, and my arm says – my arm says we fucking won! You hear me?”
“P-please, I – I don’t know what you want,” came a quiet plea.
Leaving Chad behind, Ethan sprinted away and up to the store and skidded to a halt.
It was the Navy Guy. He was a war veteran who wandered the plaza constantly. He had a blue jacket on with patches all over it. It was faded and ripped and had many, many stains. His pants were Green Bay Packer sweatpants with holes in both knees and a gross browned stain on the ass. They hung off his hips sickly showing more ass crack than not. He wore Velcro tennis shoes that had holes as well. His left eye was pointed severely out of place and he smelled of piss and shit. On his head was a hat too small that was covered in pins from every branch of the US military, POW, MIA, and foreign war badges. It was well known that the Navy Guy had been in Vietnam. It was something that he spoke about while walking the sidewalks. He muttered to himself in a thick drunkard lisp and people tended to avoid him. He came around the parking lot in front of the video store once in awhile, but he hadn’t been around lately.
Now, there he was, shouting in broken sentences and waving his one hand about while pulling the door to the store tightly closed. Deanna was inside pounding on the glass furiously. He had her trapped in. Pinned to the wall opposite of him, just out of reach was Victoria. She had tears streaming down her face. The Navy Guy spewed hateful words at her. “You slanty eyes don’t belong here! You don’t – you got no place in my America the Beautiful!” In his waving fist was a small guitar which narrowly avoided being smashed on the wall or door with each erratic swing of his arm. “Bitches took my friends! Took eyes! Get out! Get out! One race here! One race and it’s ain’t you!”
Victoria whimpered painfully, “I just want my – my ukulele back.”
Ethan rushed forward and smashed shoulder first into the insane old man. The Navy guy stumbled, but he did not let go of the door. Deanna screamed from within, “Ethan! Stop!” but he did not. He stepped swiftly between the Navy Guy and Victoria. He shouted over the madman’s ranting, “That is enough!”
The old guy spat hard, but the gob missed Ethan. “You protect this? She’s not the race!”
Ethan shouted on. He stood firmly. “You have ten seconds! I won’t ask again. Let go of the door, hand that back and get the fuck outta here!”
The Navy Guy didn’t hear him. He reeked of cheap booze and stale gummi snake. He lashed out. Ethan dodged the lumbering blow and kicked out his foot as hard as he could into the Green Bay Packers sweat pants. He connected with a meaty knee, and the old man howled in pain.
Navy Guy fell forward fast and toward Ethan. With a quick snatch, the ukulele was safely in Ethan’s hands. The old man went face first into the sidewalk and blood popped from underneath his mouth.
It had all happened so fast. Chad was then on top of the old man yanking him into the parking lot and away from the door. Deanna rushed out and was slapping the downed drunk, the phone in her hand connected to 9-1-1.
Ethan looked at Victoria and said gently, “Are you okay?”
She was crying softly. She nodded.
Ethan touched her cheek and smoothly wiped a tear away. “Hey,” he lifted her chin. “You okay?”
She hugged him and cried some more, but she was not scared anymore. Ethan hesitated a moment. His heart was still thumping with a rush of adrenaline. He looked at the small guitar in his hand. Hugging Victoria back with his free hand he asked, “What’s this?” She looked up. He smiled tenderly. “This is a really tiny guitar. Did you mug a midget?” She laughed a little.

Inside, they sat on the bench near the 2-for-1 section. There was an open pack of peanut M&M’s between them. Ethan picked out all of the blues and Victoria ate the rest. She was looking at his notebook and smirking.
“What?” Ethan blushed.
Victoria looked at him with an apologetic smile. “These are terrible.”
Ethan groaned and covered his face with his hands.
She laughed at him sweetly. “But,” she said. Lifting her ukulele, she strummed it up and down. Ethan peeked through his fingers as she sang to the guitar:
“I am a boy,
and you are a girl.
What more do we need to know?
I like movies
And you do too.
So let’s see where this can go.”
And Victoria leaned over and gently pecked Ethan on the cheek.
From outside, Chad shouted through the glass with his fists pumping over his head, “Fuck yeah, dude!” and Deanna smacked him across the back of the head, “Chad!”

tcomics - Year One: They CAN All Be Winners

Here we go folks, three editions for you to choose from of the first year of tcomics.

Edition One: FULL COLOR comics and WITH commentary on each strip - $20.90

Edition Two: FULL COLOR comics, but no commentary - $17.50

Edition Three: black and white comics WITH commentary - $10.00

Check out my lulu marketplace to purchase your copy today.

The Brothers Key

Round two on the 2-hour Writing Game. Having survived the first, I felt a little more prepared this time around. The first time, keeping to the two hours the first time around was tough. Thinking up an idea and rolling with it confidently was a challenge. But this time, I let the wheels turn and my hands go, and I'm pretty proud of this one. I may just use it as the backstory for another piece I have been working on with Jason.

I present this like the other, unedited.

CRITERIA:Deployed Airbag
A key that unlocks any door
Starkweather Lake
Things that go bump in the night
A long lost family member is found

“The Brothers Key”

He awoke in the night as he did every night. He awoke suddenly and with fear. His eyes were wide, yet he could not see a thing in the darkness of his room. As he lay motionless – motionless so that he would appear to still be sleeping, though the deep gasps of breath would fool no one who would be watching him there. His eyes scanned the room rapidly and his breath continued to come in short yet heavy gusts. There were tears in his eyes, but from where, he could not say. The nightmares? The memories?
Scooting back under his comforter, he leaned into the wall behind him. It was cold against his bare back. Slowly, he began to make out the shapes of his bookshelves and his unlit lamp and the closet. The shapes of his room became easier to recognize, and his heart slowed.
I am awake again, he thought.
He pressed his watch and the indiglo showed the black digital numbers 3:17.
Three in the morning, he groaned and pressed both hands to his sweaty face.
The clouded memories of the dream that woke him flickered in his mind’s eye and he tried to recall the details. But they faded.
I know that Colin was in it. I know that. He is always there. He is always calling out to me.
Hmph, he grunted. He didn’t call out. There was maybe a shocked gasp, but he never said my name. He just…
His heart thumped harder.
These memories haunted him like the demons of a horror movie.
But this was no horror movie.
His hand fumbled to the nightstand, and he pulled the lamp on with a click-click.
Time to wake up.
It’s time.
Rising from the bed, the comforter fell off his bare chest. He slipped his slippers on and with a stretch – his arms over his head He walked across the room to his cluttered workbench.
Seated there, he looked down at the electronics, wires and metal that lay haphazardly across the long raised table. His left slipper fell off, his feet dangling off the stool.
He touched the key.
It’s time.
He pushed the switch on the desk lamp and the lamp flickered momentarily sleepily not wanting to wake either.
I should change that bulb soon, he thought.
With both hands, he lifted the small metal key off the table and closer to the desk lamp. He turned it in his hands and gently plucked it off his palm. Holding it close to his face, he squinted at the strange device.
It was not a simple key. It was thick like five house keys pushed together. The welding lines were barely visible. The tiny hole at the base where the ring would normally be inserted was more like a headset jack like on the side of a computer.
He turned in his stool and faced the door to the hall. It was closed, the lock pushed in.
He rose and without looking, reached back on the workbench and snatched a small battery pack with a one-inch chord come off of it – a chord like the end of a headphone.
The lock made a loud click as he turned the knob and opened the door.
The hall was empty.
On the wall, he could make out the faint shape of the picture frame – he and Colin at the lake.
The lake.
He turned on the spot, faced the open door, and pulled it shut, pressing the lock on the inside just before the door slamed shut, his hand nearly caught in the doorframe.
Complete darkness.
In the black, he took the end of the battery pack – the chord – and pushed it into the base of the key.
There was a whine, high pitched, practically inaudible.
He tested the knob.
The door was locked.
Carefully, he raised the key.
No, I’m ready.
The key entered the lock. The whining from the device grew sharp and then is so high, he could not hear it anymore.
The door unlocked.
He pushed it open only a fraction.
He realized he is holding his breath.
It will work.
He pushed it open.

The light was blinding.
It was the sun.
Standing in the doorframe, he waited a moment in amazement.
It worked.
Carefully, he stepped into the grass with both feet. He walked from the door and without looking shut it behind himself. He looked about in excitement.
I’m here. I’m…
He felt the dampness on his left toes. He never put his slipper back on. Turning to kick his right slipper back into the hall he gasped.
The door was gone. There were only the oak trees and their lush branches.
Left and right he looks, but the door had vanished.
Damn, he thought.
But it was a momentary displeasure. A whiff of the water, and an anxious smile crawled over his face.
The lake.
Turning quickly, he ran through the trees attempting to slap branches aside, but his hand seemed to miss each one and they whapped against him anyhow.
He didn’t care.
Breaking through the trees, he saw it.
My god.
As perfect as he had always remembered it from the summers there: Starkweather Lake.
Lined with trees nearly up every shore, the lake was like some hidden oasis in the north country. A boat with a loud motor was rumbling somewhere in the distance around some bend in the shore. It sounded like it was speeding along probably towing some skier.
Stepping out into the sand, he grinned wide.
I made it.
He looked down at the key.
I knew it was ready.
“Jake! Jake!” Some small child squealed to his right.
Turning, he inhaled sharply in shock.
Running across the sand were two small boys. The smaller one was shouting after the taller, “Jake, come on! Mom said you have to wait!”
“Keep up you little turd,” the older boy chided and splashed full speed into the water.
“My god,” he said again and watched the little boy follow the other.
They were brothers, and they were ghosts of his past.
The little one was Colin. He was the older one.
Tears formed.
There’s time.
“Hey,” the younger Jake said quietly and leaned close to the little Colin. “You wanna learn something cool?”
It was the summer of Colin’s seventh birthday – the summer he taught him how to open his eyes under water.
“No way!” Colin squealed with a laugh, “I’ll get a fish in my eyeball!”
Little Jake laughed.
The older smiled tenderly, two tears dripped off his chin.
I can’t take this from him.
There’s still time.
“Ready? One… two…”
“Three!” Colin shouted and dove into the clear water. A whole two seconds later he splashed out wildly. “I did it! I opened my eyes!”
The brothers laughed wildly, and slapped water into each other’s faces.
He watched them and stepped back.
No, I can’t take this from him.
I have to wait.
He walked up the shore toward the cabin. It looked so new. The paint still glistened in the sunlight not haven faded yet. He knew his parent would be around the back barbequing. He wouldn’t disturb them. He needed to go.
On the porch, he touched the front door knob. It turned in his hand. Taking a moment, he pushed it open a foot and peered within.
There it all was. There was kitchen table he and Colin would play cards at until Colin got better at Texas Hold ‘em. There was the couch he was going to leave his little brother and the Eldridge girl on – Colin’s first kiss watching Shaun of the Dead. There was the fireplace they would burn marshmallows within.
Clearer than any dream ever allowed them to be.
He locked the door and pulled it shut.
Taking the key, he pressed it into the hole and turned it.
“Hun? Did I hear the door close?” his mother’s voice from the side of the house.
Had she heard?
Quickly, he turned the knob and moved through the door. He shut it swiftly and as quietly as he could.

He turned around and sighed. He was back in his room. The workbench bulb had finally given out and was no longer lit. The bedside lamp glowed softly.
Too soon.
I have to go further – have to… to…
The light closed in around him.
He blacked out.

He awoke suddenly. He was in his bed, the comforter over his bare chest. A bead of moisture rolled over his temple and dripped to the pillow.
Sweat? Tear?
Where was he…
“Colin!” he screamed – he screamed loud. “GAAAAAA!” His chest hurt so much.
He is lost.
No! I can fix this!
He screamed again.
His heart throbbed.
The nightmare haunted him still.
I can fix it.
Where is...
He slid out from under the blanket and stood in his dark room. He turned on the lamp and walked to his workbench.
The key sat there, the battery pack still connected.
He shook himself.
Stop screaming like an idiot, he berated himself. The neighbors will wonder…
No, no they wouldn’t. They knew his pain. The Youngs had lost someone too. Robin had died not a month ago.
Scream your head off. They understand.
Back to the mission.
He did not want memories
No, I won’t scream.
He grabbed the key and pack and moved to the door. Opening it, he walked into the hall and to the bathroom. He yanked the door closed and touched the knob. The door opened again.
No, he snorted and pressed the lock and pulled the door closed again, locked this time.
The key was inserted. There was a click.
The whining began and vanished as before.
He did not hesitate this time. He pushed open the door and exited into the woods once again.

The trees were different now.
They were thicker. The leaves hung differently. There was a smell of metal in his nostrils.
The development.
He pushed through the trees.
He knew when it was. It had to be the summer of –
“You knew what I wanted, Jake! You damn well knew! And you did it anyway!”
“Bite me, you shit. I don’t care what you want. It doesn’t even matter anymore!”
There they were, the brothers once more. Colin had his stupid blonde goatee, and the younger version of himself had on the jean jacket with the patches all over it.
They were teenager. Colin was fifteen.
He looked from the boys to the lake. It was different now. The lush forest was more open now. Houses had been built. Decks and docks lined the shores now. It was no longer their hidden adventure place. It was a getaway for many families now.
“It was my car to have. You can’t buy it out from under me!” Jake shouted angrily at his little brother.
“I’ve wanted dad’s car since I was ten!”
“And I’m a year older, so I got it now – paid him for it and everything.”
Their parent’s had separated. Dad had played favorites. He loved the older Jake. Colin was always the afterthought.
“How could you do this to me?”
He watched his younger self scoff and walk off.
So much heartbreak.
Colin was weeping in frustration. “I wanted that car, Jake!”
But the older brother walked down the beach throwing stones and ignoring the please.
Colin stood in defeat and cried.
From this distance, he could see Colin’s body tremble. He was so hurt.
He won’t know for a year.
He had bought the car before Dad could junk it. He bought it for Colin. A gift for his sixteenth.
Go to him, he told himself silently. Comfort the kid. He will hate you for this.
Here could be the divergence. What would he miss? The pain of a whole year apart? The pain of Mom remarrying?
The joy of the car.
God, the car.
It was the car.
But Sydney? College? The master’s program at Harvard?
He has to have those.
There is still time. It is ten years from now. There’s still time.
He ran up the hill toward the house. The rocks beneath him seemed to jostle under each hard step.
One moved fully.
Colin turned and looked at it.
He froze – ceased running.
Colin looked right at him.
He swallowed, ready to say something.
But Colin did not see him. He could not see him.
His younger brother looked down at the rock that had suddenly moved on its own.
He looked about curiously.
He could not see him.
How am I going to…
Was all this fruitless.
Colin picked up the rock.
No, the rock moved. You can do this. Go, there is still time.
On the porch, he shoved the key in the lock and forced the door open. As he turned to shut it, he could see Colin staring up at the cabin in wonderment. “Jake?” he asked aloud.
The door slammed shut.

“NOOOOO!” he jolted up in his bed. He lashed out and his hand smashed against the lamp hard sending it to the floor. Leaping up, he thrashed over to the workbench and grabbed the key. Stumbling wildly into the hall, he rushed to the closet next to the front door. He locked it and fell inside. He gasped and felt out in the darkness for the knob.
The key slipped in.
The whine.
He turned.

There was a horn blaring somewhere. The woods tossed the sound around and it seemed to come from everywhere.
The horn was the one from his nightmares.
The day.
It is now!
He whipped about and catapulted himself through the wood. Each branch whipped against his bare chest and cut him again and again. His feet were sliced open from the dead twigs below, but he did not stop. He ran with all his might.
Time is up.
It is now.
Too late.
There’s time.
The horn.
Exploding from the trees, he was on the shore.
He looked left – only the back side of the Wal-Mart.
He looked right.
His heart stopped.
The car. Dad’s car.
The water was bubbling as the nose of the car sank furthering into the lake. Smoke rose from the sides. The horn blared.
“NO!” He screamed and ran toward the drowning car. He screamed again, “Colin!”
How did it happen?
They were laughing.
He was engaged.
They were happy.
I don’t remember.
How did it happen?
Doesn’t matter.
Time is up!
He dove into the cold water. The whole front end was submerged. Water was already in the backseat. They were drowning.
He swam to the driver’s side.
His eyes fell upon himself face first into the airbag, a hole forcing air into his face – keeping him alive.
He swam frantically over the hood. He looked into the passenger’s side.
Too late.
Colin was hanging limply.
Too late.
Too late.
He screamed under water.
Colin’s head bobbed. His eyes opened.
He stopped mid-scream.
Colin looked him swimming there, and then at Jake in the airbag.
The car shifted and sank further.
Colin shook his head slowly and gently lifted his arm to Jake.
Colin was surrounded by it.
He shook his head and mouthed, “Go.”
And he died right there.
Too late.
He wanted to cry, but underwater, he could not. He swam close and shuddered. The dashboard had broken open. It had cut his little brother in half.
He was dead, his final moment used to place his hand on Jake’s in the diver’s seat.
It was over.
He was gone.

On the shore, Jake pulled his double onto the sand. There were sirens approaching.
Too late.
He cried hard. His chest heaved.
He couldn’t save him. Leaving the unconscious Jake on the beach, he ran to the cabin. It was in shambles now. They had not been there for a long, long time. Mom had stopped coming too.
Slamming into the door, he fell into the darkness again.
He was in his room.
He screamed in rage.
He had lost him.
He pounded his fists into the ground.
Everywhere, pain.
He cried.
He felt himself blacking out.
“You look so stupid right now, you know that?”
He froze. He held his breath and lay face down on his carpet.
“Seriously, it’s kinda funny.”
He jolted up.
“My god…” he gasped, his face wet.
He looked at the man and he would not believe it. He could not. He pushed away and against the bed. “It’s – it’s not possible…”
“Hey, Jake,” Colin smiled his boyish smile.
“You – you died,” he whimpered like a child. His whole body was shaking. “I – I saw it. You died. You’re dead…”
“Yeah,” Colin nodded with a shrug. “I am.”
“You’re dead!” he gasped from the floor.
“Yes, I am. But you’re not, brother.”
He felt himself blacking out again.
“No you don’t,” Colin said and knelt closely. “I only have a moment, brother. I need you to stay with me.”
He reached up with shaking hands to his brother’s smooth face. Colin smiled as the hand passed through his cheek.
“Sorry, Jake.”
His hand trembled as he recoiled.
“You’re dead,” he said again. “Lost…”
“I was lost a long time ago,” Colin smiled on warmly. “It’s time for you to let go.”
“But –“
“But no! I just found you!”
“Jake!” Colin’s voice was stern, but his face retained its comforting kindness and he repeated softly, “Jake.”
“I tried,” he began to weep again. “I tried so hard, Colin. I tried to get you back, but I couldn’t – Couldn’t take away everything that made you who you are. I waited too long. I tried, but –but I failed you.” He sobbed into his knees.
“It’s time to move on, brother. You have work to do.”
“You can do something truly incredible with your time now. You have created a way to change everything.”
“I couldn’t change this,” he said.
“And you won’t,” Colin said plainly. “This time has passed.”
Too late.
“Stop it, Jake,” Colin said in his authoritative sternness. You have work to do. My time was up, but yours it just beginning.”
He looked up at his ghostly little brother. “I love you, Colin.”
“I love you too, Jake.” He stood and stepped backwards, darkness enveloping him. “I have to go now.”
“What do I do now?” he whimpered.
“You have the key. You can do anything.”
And he was gone.
Jake wept into his arms.
But only briefly.
When the tears stopped, he felt a wave of relief wash over him.
He closed his eyes and he fell asleep.

The sun woke him the next day.
He stood and yawned – stretched his arms high over his head.
He showered.
He shaved.
He dressed in a button down shirt and jeans.
Walking to the front door, he opened it and stepped into the hall. Closing his door, he walked to the neighbor’s and touched the knob. It was locked.
He placed his key into the knob.
The click.
The whine.

A young woman was bent over a broken down Toyota Corolla. Smoke was crawling out from underneath it. She exhaled sharply and slammed the hood. “Shit,” she said.
“Looks like you threw a rod.”
She looked up at the sudden voice.
Walking down the desert highway was a man in a white button down shirt and jeans. He was handsome, but she only noticed that for a moment. They were in the middle of the desert.
“Um… where did you come from?” she asked cautiously.
“Oh, I’ve just been walking along. You looked like you could use a hand.
She looked him over as he approached closer. For a moment, he seemed to flicker, but that was surely the heat playing trick with her eyes.
“Let me take a look here,” he said and popped the hood.
They stood side-by-side looking at the smoky engine.
“Hm, this doesn’t look good,” he said plainly.
“Ha,” she smiled. “That your expert opinion?”
He looked at her with a warm grin. “How about we just call for a tow?”
“Great idea,” she rolled her eyes.
“I’ll hang out with you while you wait, if that’s all right with you.”
She looked him over again. He really had a kind look about him.
“Name’s Jake,” he extended his hand.
“Robin,” she took his hand and shook is. “Robin Young.”