Category Archives: Short Stories & Vignettes

Of course you can have more Macabre Macaroni

Lisa BurtonHi gang, welcome back for another helping of Macabre Macaroni. This week we’re trying to garner a bit of sympathy for the monster.

Maybe the determination of a monster is just your point of view. Some of us are different, and that freaks people out. It isn’t what appears on the outside as much as the inside.

I’m not saying there aren’t monsters out there, but you might have to dig under the surface to identify them. Maybe it isn’t about the way you look as much as how you think or act.

Today’s story is called Monster Spotting. How many can you find?

Monster Spotting

Cori Vincent fought back the shadows and fog. Her entire body hurt. Not the sharp biting pain of something recent, but the throbbing ache of something long term. Before she blacked back out she overheard a few words.

“Day two-hundred forty-three. Stem cells and neural dust have accelerated healing, nervous system repairs are remarkable. We have not been able to stimulate the nerves that will bring her out of the coma.

“Ms. Vincent has taught us much, and there is more to learn. Ultimately, we will have to terminate the experiment if she does not regain consciousness–”

Cori fought to hear more. This time she was able to open her eyes. It was dark in her room, and only a faint glow told her she succeeded. A thin layer of gauze covered her eyes, and she pawed at it.

She pulled the gauze away and breathed deeper. The glow came from under the door. Her left eye told her more than the right. She rubbed the right, but complete vision eluded her. The window revealed only the night outside.

Her legs felt leaden as she swung them off the bed and forced herself upright. Even this simple act caused her to gasp for air. She breathed deeply, but didn’t feel as though her lungs were processing the precious oxygen.

The voice said two-hundred forty-three days. That’s eight months. How many days had it been since she heard the voice?

She reached the door by using the bed to get to her feet, then falling forward until she could lean against the wall. Her hands fumbled at the light switch, so she used the back of her wrist to swipe it on.

The room was spartan at best. A bed, a sink in some cabinetry, and nothing else; not even a call-button for the nurse. At least the door knob was one of the handle type and not round. She used the back of her hand once more to open it. Hello! Is anyone here? Nurse? “Naawwwrrrrss!”

She recoiled at the guttural noise. That isn’t my voice. What happened to my words? Her throat immediately ached, and she coughed up phlegm. She stumbled to the sink and spit.

The building was closed. What kind of hospital closes? She stumbled into the hallway and moved toward the front of the building. A surgical suite sat off to the left, and a private office to the right. She appeared to be the only patient here; the only person here.

The office had a desk, a computer, and a chair. She needed the chair. A newspaper article pinned to a board beside the desk caught her attention. She had to close her right eye completely to focus on the letters.

The headline read, “Automobile Accident Claims Couple.” Her head reeled. Eric was driving. She was trying to keep the girls from fighting. The girls!

She pawed at the article and tore it from the board. She froze in her actions. These aren’t my hands?

Her hands were huge masculine paws, with black skin. Possibly from an industrial worker or a carpenter of some kind, judging by the calluses.

The office had a private bathroom. Cori stumbled inside and found the mirror. She was a man now. Not just any man, a gigantic black man. Surgical scars completely circled her head above the eyes and ears. Her head was balding, and her right eye permanently squinted. Palsy claimed the right side of her face, and her lip and cheek sagged. Someone had dressed her in ill-fitting grey flannel pajamas. She spun to lean against the wall, and lifted the article to her good eye. She and her husband died, and the children were given to child protective services. My babies! “Baaaaabbbaa!”

The article said she and Eric were buried together in Shady Grove. Could Eric still be somewhere in the same condition as her? It didn’t matter. Someone else had her babies. She stumbled to the front door and forced it open. Glass shattered and an alarm went off as she stumbled into the night.

A street sign at the corner indicated she was only a couple of blocks from the courthouse. Child Protective Services would know where her girls were.

She tripped on the curb when she crossed against the light and stumbled into someone’s yard, taking out three feet of picket fence along the way. They’d left their sprinkler on, and thirst overwhelmed her. She pulled the sprinkler head off and drank. Water dribbled from the damaged right side of her mouth, but she didn’t care. She tried to avoid ruining any more of the fence when she left, but knocked another section down. At least it didn’t break, and they could stand it back up.

Her small-town courthouse was closed for the night. She battered the door open and went inside. Child Protective Services was simple enough to figure out. A sequence of locked file cabinets in alphabetical order. She found the drawer where V might be, tossed the wet and rumpled newspaper article from her hand, and ripped the cabinet apart like someone peeling an orange.

The girls went to two different foster families. How could they? They just lost their parents, now they have to endure losing each other. She screamed into the night, but it sounded more like an animalistic roar.

This was a small town. Her small town. She was alive, somehow, and these were still her children. They would figure out something.

She plodded along Cedar Avenue with the faint flashing of police lights behind her. They responded to the alarm at whatever facility she escaped from.

She lurched down the street until she came to the first house shortly after sunrise. A simple craftsman style, with a yard-full of toys. A purple tricycle, some multi-colored plastic construction blocks, and a small plastic slide.

The door opened and she slid behind a tree. Emily looked beautiful in her summer dress, if a bit sad. “Driveway only honey. No tricycle on the sidewalk or street. Remember?”

“Yes, Mommie.”

Mommie? I’m her mommie. It’s me honey. Everything is going to be just fine. “Hhhhoonn Maaaaam.”

Emily screamed.

The door opened.

A woman came out, scooped Emily up, and ran back inside. The woman peeked out a window, and held a cell phone to her ear.

Cori glanced left and right, then faded into the shadows of a nearby alley. This woman cared. Emily was safe for the time being. The police, or her attorney could sort it all out later. She needed to see her other daughter. Dawn was older, and might have deeper understanding of her parent’s death. She needed to know Dawn was alright too.

Cori trudged her way across town. She stopped frequently for rest and water, hiding occasionally as police cruisers combed through the neighborhoods. She cut through an industrial area and the police presence faded.

A chain-link fence prevented her from leaving the industrial park. She tried to tear through it, but it just pulled loose from the poles. She rampaged at being tangled, but managed to crawl over the wiring and out the other side. After crossing a dry irrigation ditch, she wound up in the right neighborhood.

The doublewide sat back from the street. It was at least twenty years old and in need of serious repairs. Tall trees cast deep shade across the yard. A yard cluttered by old appliances and plastic garbage bags.

She flailed at a swarm of flies as she lumbered toward the sound of voices in back.

“I told you to clean up that dog kennel! What do I have to do to get it through your thick head?”

Cori quickened her pace.

A man in his late twenties backhanded Dawn and sent her sprawling to the ground. Her second hand jeans looked like they had never been washed, and someone had cut all of her beautiful hair until she looked like a boy.

“Your mother’s going to be pissed when she gets off shift.”

“She isn’t my mother!”

The man kicked her with his boot.

Cori charged in, but it was more of a rolling act of desperation. Don’t touch her, you bastard! “Bassssttaaa!”

The man looked up and his eyes went white.

Cori swung both arms at him by turning her chest and popping her hips. They didn’t work very well, but made heavy clubs. She knocked the man to the ground and moved forward.

Dawn screamed.

Someone’s voice caught Cori’s attention. “…that’s right officer. The Lawrence place again. Send someone quick. It looks like one of his drug deals went bad. I’m going to film it…”

The man got up, made a kick at Dawn. “Get in the house.”

Cori grabbed him around the neck. Her hands only moderately functioned, so she used the crook of her elbow. She stomped the man’s foot and jerked upward.

The man’s neck broke with a sickening sound.

She flung him across the yard like one of the bags of garbage. He hit an old washing machine and knocked it over. It’s alright now, honey. Mommie’s here. “Mmaaaaam.”

She lumbered to the door as the police car skidded to a stop with lights flashing. Two officers bailed out, and drew their pistols.

Cori gestured toward the officers with her arms outstretched. Thank God you’re here officers. This man was beating my daughter. “Daaaaghhhhrrr!”

“Turn around. On your knees. Lace your fingers together on top of your head.”

You don’t understand officers. My daughter needs your help. She could be injured. “Jurrrrddd!” Cori took a step toward the policemen.

The younger officer opened fire.

Cori stumbled forward.

The older officer joined his partner, and they poured rounds into Cori’s chest.

The bullets hurt, but not like she expected. Much of her body was without feeling. She felt the impact more than anything, but any remaining strength left her and her legs buckled.

The officers stood and approached with guns pointed at her. Cori lay still.

Before she lost consciousness forever, she over heard the neighbor. “I told you the Lawrences were awful people. Look what they brought to our neighborhood. They should never have been given a child either.”

“Go back inside, ma’am. It may not be safe yet. I don’t think the girl will be staying here any longer.”

***

Lisa again, Craig tells me I’ve been a bit remis on these posts. I need to point out that if you enjoy micro-fiction, Craig has plenty of it available. They are bundled together with some short stories into two Experimental Notebooks. There is a third collection called The Enhanced League and the stories there tell an overarching story. Many of the micros in Enhanced League are in the form of second person point of view “anthems.” You know how Craig likes to experiment. You can pick up any one of them for 99¢, just click on the covers.

The Experimental Notebook of C. S. BoyackThe Experimental Notebook of C. S. Boyack IIThe Enhanced League

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Order up! Macabre Macaroni

Lisa BurtonLisa Burton here with another serving of Macabre Macaroni. I try to avoid the dark side of technology, being a robot myself. Even I have to admit it can be misused.

Technology is wonderful, but it should be used with caution. This week, Craig takes kind of an extreme approach to some future advancements in the medical field… or are they already here?

***

Monitors

Mrs. Levine sat beside the hospital bed and held her husband’s hand. It had been three days this time, and only a few lucid moments passed between them.

She held on to something through her faith, but another part of her explored the value of their home, what might be left of their finances, and even the possibility of going back to work. One day per week at the library was all she’d found, so far.

They both knew one or the other would go first. After fifty-seven years of marriage, it was inevitable.

The doctor came into the room and placed a hand on her shoulder. “How’s he doing today?”

“About the same. He’s been pretty quiet.”

“Why don’t I have Nurse Silvio take you to the cafeteria for a nice cup of coffee? I want to check his vitals, and get someone to change the bedding today.”

“You’re too good to me doctor. You need to get some rest too.”

“I’ll be fine, don’t you worry. I have an intern helping today. She can do the heavy lifting.”

The doctor walked her to the nurse’s station and handed her off to Nurse Silvio before returning to his patient.

***

He waited for the intern, then closed the door. “Take some notes, Parkins. The Accounting Office needs this data.” He lifted the face off the patient monitor. The false data kept reporting even as he set the cover aside.

The real monitor revealed different data. “Looks like he has about two-hundred thousand, eight-hundred heartbeats left,” he said.

Parkins asked, “What’s that put it at, Tuesday morning?”

“Seems about right. I’ll be in surgery that day. The old woman is all yours.”

“Gee, thanks.”

“It’s part of the job. You’ll have to get used to it.”

“Isn’t there anything else we can do for him?”

“Look at this number. His bank account will run out just about the time his heart fails.”

“The third graph shows his insurance is still strong.”

“Doesn’t matter. If he can’t pay his deductible, the hospital gets stung for that part. Accounting keeps this hospital in the black and I, for one, want it to stay that way. Our new monitors are really helping. They allow us to do everything possible while the patient can afford it. This bed needs to go to someone who can pay.”

“I don’t know, I mean it isn’t like Accounting has to talk to the grieving widow.”

“The accountants are in charge, no doubt. I think they may be a bit more generous in the wage department this year. The new monitors are allowing us to detect all kinds of surgical options. Just the other day, insurance authorized the removal of a gall bladder for a patient who’d had a motorcycle accident. Insurance paid full price for the surgery even though we already had her open to treat internal bleeding.”

“That’s a blessing, I suppose. My parents bought me a Camaro before I headed for college. That was nine years ago, and I’m still driving it. The passenger window is held up by duct tape now.”

“Tell you what, I’ll let you notify the mortuary. They pay a nice referral fee and you can keep it. It won’t replace your car, but it might let you fix the window.”

“I really appreciate it.”

“If the widow gives you a hard time, hook her up to a monitor. Maybe she has something insurance will cover in full.”

“Hope so, we already know she doesn’t have anything for the deductible.”

“You’re going to make a fine doctor one day, Parkins.”

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Fresh from the oven, it’s Macabre Macaroni

Lisa Burton
Welcome to Macabre Macaroni, 2017. I’m Lisa Burton, the robot girl, and I’m going to host the stories this year. I posted my new image full size this time, because some of you collect them. I’ll tone it down in the following weeks.

Macabre Macaroni will post every Tuesday in October, and it’s a collection of micro-fiction from my author C. S. Boyack. Today’s story explores the special relationship between parents and children. Some things are a bit confusing here, but that’s on purpose. It all becomes clear in the end.

Oh, and try not to cry, it’s bad for your circuits and messes up your cool Halloween mascara.

Life in the Shadows

Mindy folded a corner on the book she was reading. Something called an Experimental Notebook of some sort. She looked up at her daughter, Olivia, running around the playground.

Mindy decided to read another short story. Olivia seemed to be enjoying herself and it was such a nice day. Flowers bloomed, and the scent from the municipal rose garden made it all so much more lovely. She turned back to her book, when a man caught her attention.

He was only in her peripheral vision, and looked so tired and lonesome. He watched Olivia as she went down the slide. Mindy panicked and walked over to her daughter. The man was nowhere to be seen. “Time to go, honey. I still need to fix dinner. Your father’s working late again tonight.”

She buckled Olivia into her booster seat and drove three miles to her apartment. Olivia never fussed and always did what she was asked, the perfect child.

At the apartment, she sorted through the mail, then started cooking. “Honey, can you set the table for me? Then you can run upstairs and get into bed. I’ll heat up your bottle and be right up.”

“Yes, Momma.”

Mindy tested the formula on her inner wrist before heading upstairs. Olivia was so cute. Six pounds, three ounces, perfect size for holding in the rocker while she ate. Ten little fingers and toes. She sucked at the bottle and her eyes grew heavy.

Olivia’s father was missing too much. They needed the extra income, but sometimes it would be nice if he could share in all this.

She ate her meal alone at the table, while Olivia slept. She caught a vision of the man again, from the corner of her eye. She snapped her head around, but no one was there. She went through the house and tested all the locks before checking on Olivia.

The next morning Mindy yelled up the stairs. “Olivia, you’d better hurry up, or you’ll miss your bus.”

Olivia ran into the kitchen, wearing her cheerleader uniform. She grabbed a breakfast bar from the pantry, and picked up her backpack. “Chill out, Mom. I’ve got time. I won’t be home until after the game. Can you pick me up around nine?”

“Sure, honey. Have a nice day.”

She spent the morning reading, and cleaning. In the afternoon she colored the Easter Eggs, and wrapped all the Christmas Presents. Olivia was going to be so excited. The bicycle she bought for Olivia’s birthday was exactly the one she talked about all summer.

On the way to the gym, she spotted the man again on a street corner. He seemed to be crying and watched her drive by. When she looked back, he was gone.

Olivia looked so pretty, arm and arm with the handsome basketball player. She never protested when Mindy honked the horn, and came straight to the car.

The drive home was uneventful, and the man never appeared again. “I made all your favorites for supper. I waited for you. Get changed and we’ll eat together.”

Mindy sat the table like a gracious hostess and waited nervously for Olivia. When she finally came out, Mindy placed her hands over her heart and teared up. Olivia’s hair had been cut short, her three-piece business suit looked perfectly tailored, the huge diamond on her left hand sparkled under the lights. “Oh, honey, you look so beautiful.”

“Thanks, Mom. You really are the best, but we need to talk.”

“I don’t want to talk about that now. We have so much to do tomorrow.”

“I’ll bet it’s all wonderful too, but I’m not supposed to be here. You aren’t supposed to be here either.”

“Oh, nonsense. We have a perfect life together.”

“Life isn’t supposed to be perfect. It has struggles and imperfections. We have to accept some of that and move on. It’s time for you to move on too.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“It’s called Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.” Olivia reached across the table and took her mother’s hand. “It happens, and none of it’s your fault. You need to forgive yourself and get on with your life. I need to get along too.”

“Aren’t you happy here, Honey?”

“It’s been great. You had so many plans for me, so many hopes and dreams, but none of this is real. A birthday every month, trick or treating every week.”

“But you’re so cute in your little princess outfit.”

“I really would have been, but it never happened. Daddy is worried sick about you. He spends every night in your hospital room, reading to you. Your coma has lasted seven months now. He can’t afford the long term care any longer, and you have to help him out.”

“But you’re my only daughter.”

“I’m your first child. You can have others, and what happened to me isn’t likely to happen again. I know you’re aware of him. I’ve seen him too. Always there in the fringes. He’s so sad.”

“He’s a grown man. He can take care of himself for a little longer.”

“This conversation always comes back to a little longer. He’s there right now. I know you can see him.”

Mindy looked, and the man was there on the edge of her vision. His rumpled suit looked like he’d been wearing it for days.

Like wind-blown leaves, a voice whispered, “Please come back to me, Mindy.”

Mindy’s blood ran cold and she straightened up in her chair.

“I heard him too, Mom. He’s at his wits end, and his financial end. His work is suffering and he could lose his job. You can’t help me, but you can help him. You can help yourself too.”

Mindy’s eyes blinked, and tears flowed. The dining room faded, along with Olivia. A plain white room took form over the elaborate dining table.

The voice of her husband came across loud and clear. “Please, Mindy, I’m begging you. I’ll do anything. I miss you, and I want you back in my life.”

Like a whisper, Olivia’s voice barely came through. “I love you, Mom. Try again, and stay away from those sleeping pills.”

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Out my window again

I took this picture at work today. Looks like the thaw, combined with the rain brought us another piece of junk. I hate it when people drop things in our waterways. Still, one man’s junk is another man’s story prompt.

junk

Fishing was lousy. Seven turns of the glass at least, and it rained the whole time. The scarf I used to cover my head was soaked before I cast out my first shrimp. One sand dab wouldn’t feed my sisters, let alone me and ma. Logs drifted past on their way to the bay, and I imagined the fish hid under them to get out of the rain. Then one came by that didn’t float right. It rode low in the water, and barely broke the surface. It had square corners too.

It rode until it lodged in the sand. I dropped my stringer and pole on the shore and ran after it. Maybe someone tipped a wagon upriver, and dumped something valuable in the water. Whatever it was broke loose and drifted again, but not far. The snag of a tree root grabbed it and anchored it until I could catch up.

Its lid was gone by now, and I looked inside. Something looked back.

A skull, not bleached and white like a proper skull, but muddy and covered with sand from upstream somewhere. I approached on tip toes. I’m not superstitious, mind you, but this isn’t something a kid finds everyday.

It was a casket. Nothing fancy, just a wooden box, and the person inside not more than a skeleton but for a few bits and pieces. Those pieces were covered with crabs, and none of ’em were big enough to cook. I looked at the poor skull, and it wore a big tricorn hat. The head rolled toward the sea, and revealed the fellow’s broken neck bones. “So it’s the sea you want, is it?”

I flipped the crabs into the bay. Sometimes people gets buried with coins and such. He didn’t need ’em, and my ma could sure use ’em. I patted down his rags, and found iron shackles around his wrists. I poked and prodded, but turned up nowt.

I looked around his eye holes, ’cause sometimes that’s where the coins goes, but there weren’t any. His hat was oily and stiff, but nothing was tucked inside. I tossed it on the shore. He wore better leather boots than I did, and be damned I decided to take ’em.

They were tall and fine, and turned over at the knee to make a large cuff. I tossed ’em beside the hat, and decided to push the box toward the sea. Better the sea than  another hole in the ground for this one. When the water reached my belly, I let him go. He rode higher in the waves somehow, like a small boat. Almost like he appreciated me setting him on his way.

I wrung the hat out first, and it weren’t in bad shape. Maybe after it dried, I could make some use of it. I poured another crab out of the first boot, and knocked the boot against a rock to make sure there wasn’t any more.

A couple of bones poured out of the second one. Could be I tugged too hard getting it off, but these boots were mine now, by right of salvage. At least that’s what I told myself. I reached inside to make sure there weren’t more pieces. I pulled out a soaked piece of parchment.

The parchment had some kind of writing on it, but it made no sense to me. There was a drawing of the local area too. I recognized the old West Road, and Barrow Point, but not much more. That and a big drawing of a skull, with an X to mark something north of Barrow Point. Maybe ma could read it after it dries out some. She used to know the letters, and maybe she could remember some of ’em. Might be it’d tell who he was, and I could make him a little marker of some kind.

***

Okay, so my favorite Superbowl ad was the one for the new pirate movie. Somebody needs to come haul their junk out of the stream.

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News and vignette

I got up late today and procrastinated with various forms of social media. I always flip through them before starting a writing day, but I lingered long enough to know I was goofing off. I still managed about 2800 words of The Yak Guy Project.

Yak Guy is the one where I’m trying to use the Major Arcana of the tarot as my story structure. I’ve had to meld some characters, and take a few out of order. Several things go on at once, and it doesn’t make sense to take them one at a time. For instance, the Empress character is also one of The Lovers. This overlaps the training of the Heirophont. I already had some of The Lovers, so I kind of moved faster on this section. It’s time for Strength, The Hermit, and the Wheel of Fortune. I may take some of these out of order, because it makes more sense to my story. I kind of want The Hanged Man before the Wheel. Right now I need to dwell on it some.

In other news, I woke up with a character and setting again. I don’t particularly want to dwell on her for weeks, and sometimes writing a vignette will get them out of my head. Here goes nothing, and remember I’m free writing this one:

Barbi Baronski awoke with a ringing in her ears. It was dark and dusty, and every muscle in her body ached. She stretched and her hands touched concrete overhead.

She’d driven into the city to model a new line of fitness wear, but couldn’t remember if she was going to the shoot or driving home. Daylight was visible if she looked along the ground above her head. She tried to rollover and crawl, but it was too tight in here. She slid along on her back using a kind of frog kick with her legs.

The ringing faded a bit, and Siri’s voice asked, “What can I help you with? What can I help you… What can I… What?, What?, What?…” Barbi kept sliding. Her back became a slow motion road rash of cuts and dirt.

Fresh air seemed like a wonderful thought, but it was dust, smoke, and grime. The sky above was brilliant blue, but there were no contrails, birds, or even trees. She pulled herself out of the rubble and sat upright.

The remains of her tattered top fell on her lap. Her $200 jeans were mostly threads, but clung together by some miracle. The entire world was silent except for the ringing in her ears. She covered herself with her right arm and stood up tentatively. There was nobody around. The place looked like a gravel pit, except for a twisted streetlight that snaked through the rubble.

She always drove home on 76, and thought she recognized some of its outline. Thank God her trainers survived. She walked for miles through the rubble. Pieces of automobiles dotted the landscape, and tiny bits of building foundations started appearing. The farther she walked, the more the rubble started to look like something. She stopped covering herself, because nobody was around at all.

By mid afternoon, her stomach reminded her that she was starving. She spotted a few walls and veered off her path to investigate. It turned out to be a family restaurant of some kind. A shard of mirror showed her that nearly six inches of her brunette hair had been singed away. A copper pipe produced a small blue flame at the end. The gas lines were still on out here.

She dug through the rubble and found a single can of refried beans, a tiny frying pan, and a bent chef’s knife. She used the heel of the knife to chop the can open enough to get it in the pan, then held it over the open flame until it smelled edible.

She kicked through the rubble and turned over a small table. A piece of concrete served as a chair. She managed to bend the tines of an old fork into a relatively useful position and ate in silence. Hardly health food, but it was food and that’s all that mattered now.

Across from her on a piece of remaining wall were three huge frames. Two were missing everything, but the third one appeared to be the dinner menu. It read:

  • Meatloaf $6
  • Prime Rib $13
  • Rack of Ribs $11
  • Sides…

The rest was torn away and it appeared to be cloth of some kind. Threads dangled in the breeze. She finished her beans, and used the bent knife to cut away most of her fancy jeans. $200 custom cutoffs? She split the pants legs and used some electrical wire to make them into a purse of sorts. She placed the pan and the old fork inside.

 

A rock smashed the remaining glass from the menu and she removed the cloth, cut a hole for her head and used more wire to stitch the sides closed. She looked down at her new shirt which now read:

 

Prime

Rack

 

Barbi tucked the bent knife into her belt and headed into the setting sun. Home was important, but if it wasn’t there any longer, she would head west until she found a new place to call home.

 

***

I have no idea what caused the disaster, aliens, war, the refried bean festival. I also have no intention of finishing Barbi’s story, but something may come to me in the future. These vignettes are a way of retiring some of the ideas I get. Sometimes it works, and sometimes I have to revisit them even years later.

There was more too it, like a dried up river, and talking to a snake. The snake represented an ancient survivor, and Barbi drew a parallel to herself as a survivor. I figured the post was long enough, and maybe Barbi could go on her adventure without me.

How about it you writers? Do you ever wake up having been visited by the muse? Do you make notes, forget about it, start another project? I can’t write all of mine. Barbi could be a good character, she’s obviously strong. Maybe she can be a side character one day, or maybe her story will come to me later.

It appears my muse is getting back into shape. Back to the paycheck job tomorrow.

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A few loose things

I watched old movies, played with an app, and wrote another short piece. I also ordered some promotional material that I can use during some future promotions. I’ll address all of them in sections.

The new app simply allows me to take a photo and add text to it. All of the ones I’ve tried so far are kind of burdensome to use. This one is even worse, because it doesn’t allow me to squeeze it into a vertical shape, it simply flows beyond the box and doesn’t show everything I typed. I have other apps that work better.

Sometimes it’s nice to make up an image for a pinned tweet and get a few more words by making them part of the photo. Still, I made this and it might give some of you a chuckle.

I spent some time with my old mentor, Sir Alfred Hitchcock today. Since Halloween is on a Monday, they decided today was a good day for a film festival. I caught some of Vertigo, watched all of Psycho, and turned it off when The Birds came on. I think The Birds had a great concept, but failed to deliver. No doubt there are people who disagree with me, but that’s my opinion. I wish one of these outfits would rediscover Rope, I loved that one.

Psycho was ground breaking in its day. It was the first one that showed murder so brutally. Hitchcock was known as the master of suspense, but he drifted into horror territory with this one. (Aside: I could sure see Jamie Leigh Curtis’ face in some images of her mother.)

Psycho started kind of an arms race. Prior to this, monsters lumbered, howled, and threatened. I believe this was the catalyst of all the gore that’s come to be expected in the horror genre, and I think that’s what eventually killed it off. If Psycho were to be made today, Bates would have had sex with Janet Leigh’s corpse before dismembering it (Requiring power tools that are deafeningly loud), and possibly eating the evidence.

I kind of wish we could go back and erase all the blood and gore from this genre. That’s why I try to include a bit of suspense, but leave the rest out.

I broke down and used a coupon to order some promotional stuff for the next time I decided to do a push. Maybe people don’t want another gift card or ebook, but something unique will garner more attention. Maybe not, but I’m going to find out.

Finally, I wrote this thing. I don’t exactly know what to call it, but I’m calling them anthems. I am looking for input as to what they actually are called. They are from a narrator’s POV and use second person perspective.

I had another of my crazy thoughts, and intend to include them in my collection of short stories called The Enhanced League (TEL). They have nothing to do with the stories, but they might be fun to break things up. I like the idea of between three and half a dozen of them. TEL will be about a futuristic baseball league. Some characters will recur in the stories and some are one shot wonders.

Anyway, I don’t know how to solicit your input without sharing one, so here goes nothing. It’s draft material, but will give you the idea. Let me know if it’s too crazy to live, or has some merit.

Anthem #2

The Hardest Day

 

You took the wife and kids to the ballpark more religiously than most folks go to church. For you, it was church. Didn’t matter if it was blazing sun, or frosty nights, you were there.

Your wife was the life of the party. Everyone knew her, and she always seemed to draw the television camera the way she stood and led cheers. You wound up on the kiss camera more times than you were comfortable with.

You named your son after a Golden Glove winning shortstop. When the team travelled, the two of you played catch in the backyard and practiced that shovel toss to second base.

The kids grew up, and your wife passed away. Some of your old buddies from the trucking company bought your seats for a game or two when you didn’t have someone to take you. It wasn’t much, but the money helped pay for your meds.

Your son took you to a few games, until his own kids started playing sports. Now they spend most of their time kicking soccer balls around. Your daughter and her new husband took you once, but it felt like meeting your new step-parent.

Finally, the day arrived. You offered up your seats and sold them for five figures. The guys from the trucking company were pissed, but they couldn’t pay going rate.

You thought you were going to have a stroke. You sold out, Buddy. You sold a piece of your soul that day. You worried that you might have cursed the team somehow.

You wanted to give them to your kids, but they couldn’t have cared less. Your son-in-law would have sold them too and used the money to bet on horses.

So here you are, in assisted living with no family around. You bought the league pass and get every game on your new big-screen television. The old farts come around to watch, and they seem to be enjoying the team as much as you do. You finally admit the air conditioning doesn’t ruin the experience.

You’ve seen more games this year than the last three combined. Your doctor even approved a beer, provided you only have one. You never told him about the hotdogs Mrs. Corrigan brings. A hotdog never killed anyone anyway.

It was the worst day of your life, the day you sold the seats, but none of this would be possible if you hadn’t.

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Last scoop of Macabre Macaroni this year

The Zombie Fighters

We stood back to back in the old basement. Joey held his sword off to his left, and I held mine up with the blade in front of my face. We made a deadly team, but the zombie horde upstairs would be the biggest one we’d ever faced.

Joey turned his San Diego Padres cap around backwards. “Ready?”

“As I’ll ever be.” I rushed the stairway with Joey at my heels.

The zombies almost looked surprised. I probably imagined it, because they don’t have any emotions or feelings. They’d already eaten half the families in town, and I recognized a few of them as having been local people. I stepped into the shell of the burned out house and made sure to move far enough that Joey could support me.

I lowered my sword and thrust through the face of the first one, making sure to slice on the draw so my blade wouldn’t get stuck. He fell in a heap of stinking rotten flesh, and I swung at one to my right.

Joey gave a masterful stroke, slicing completely through one Zombie and into the skull of the one beside it. “That was my Tony Gwynn swing, you bastards.”

“Looks like you hit a double. There’s home runs waiting in the other room.”

We worked our way through the sooty kitchen and into the living room. Seventeen of the damned things greeted us there.

The fight was long and bloody. Joey went to his knees, but I rescued him before he got bitten. That only left the upstairs bedrooms to clear. Should be a breeze after what we’d already accomplished.

Joey led the way up this staircase, and we took care to avoid the ledge. The fire destroyed the railing and it was a long drop.

We kicked open doors and slashed our way room by room until we were the only things left standing.

The last room looked like it must have been the master bedroom. The fire damaged it more than the others. Even the exterior wall and roof were gone.

I tested the floor with each step. No sense surviving the zombies and falling through a crumbling floor. I looked out towards town, and everything was quiet as the sun dipped behind a ridge. More zombies moved though the forest, and they were coming our way.

Joey grabbed a ruined pillowcase and hung it from a nail.

“What’s that for?”

“It’s our flag. This is where we make our stand. If we get split up, we meet back here.”

“Good idea. This can be our fort.” I dropped my stick-sword onto the sooty floor. “Only we’ll have to defend it tomorrow.”

“But they’re almost here.”

I wrapped an arm around my brother’s shoulder. “The street lights came on. You know how mom gets if we don’t go home right away. Schools out now, we have all summer to defend our fort.”

***

This is my reminder that I have two books of short stories and micro-fiction available. There are plenty of Halloween suitable stories among these pages.

The best news is they are only 99¢ each. If you enjoyed Macabre Macaroni this year, maybe these books are what you’re looking for.

Book one

Book two

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Filed under Short Stories & Vignettes