Collage 38

Collage 38

“Use what talents you possess…The woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those who sung best.” Henry Van Dyke

A misfit among misfits, that’s what they said she’d be.

Dyson never fit in anywhere in any way. In a world of singers, she was tone deaf. In a world of dancers, she had two left feet. In a world of gardeners, her green thumb was brown.

She didn’t believe in the right God, the right politics, or the right social causes. Her fashion sense was beyond appalling, and what she called music sounded like crashing cymbals and sour trumpet notes to everyone else.

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They Will Run You Down in the Dark


Icelandic band Kaleo

Oh, father tell me, do we get what we deserve?
Oh, we get what we deserve

From the song “Way Down We Go”
Songwriters: Daníel Kristjánsson Davíð Antonsson Jökull Júlíusson Rubin Pollock
Performed by Icelandic rock band “Kaleo”

The Eighth Chapter in the Undead Life of Sean Becker

It was said that Colton Boudreaux could trace his line all the way back to Cardinal Armand Jean du Plessis, more commonly known as Cardinal Richelieu. Of course this couldn’t be literal as the famous (or infamous) 17th century French Cardinal had no offspring, at least as history records. However, Richelieu did have those young men and women he favored (though he himself was favored by few) and he did strongly support the colonization of New France (in what is modern-day Canada).

Boudreaux more factually could claim a line to the descendants of Acadian exiles—French-speakers from L’Acadie in what are now the Maritimes of Eastern Canada. These were from the French colonists who settled in Acadia during the 17th and 18th centuries, some of whom are also descended from the Indigenous peoples of the region.

He was proudly Cajun, ostensibly Catholic, and secretly the head of one of the sects of the Van Helsing religious order, vampire hunters.

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Shadows in the Cellar


Photo credit: mariyaolshevska

Mom decided last September that eleven-year-old Bethany was old enough to stay home alone after school until she got off work, but sometimes Mom didn’t get home until six or later. That wasn’t so much of a problem last fall when it stayed light longer in the evenings, but now the sun went down just after five. That meant the McPherson School sixth-grader was alone more than two hours after dark.

Bethany made herself a snack when she got home, surfed the web, watched videos, got around to doing her homework, and nuked frozen burritos or made fried won tons on the stove for dinner.

She actually wouldn’t have been so bothered about being alone except for the shadows in the cellar.

It wasn’t the shadows that Bethany first noticed, though. It was the noises.

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Image: Business Insider

The Seventh Chapter in the Undead Life of Sean Becker

The sigil left in his place made no sense.

Raquel was the first to see it amid the rubble. Even the firefighters and arson investigators hadn’t been able to get down to this level yet.

Clearly the carved sign had been substituted for the vampire Antonie, but it was in the shape of an inverted pentagram accompanied by a number of other symbols. She only recognized the “all-seeing eye” which is found on the dollar bill and she had no idea how to read the Latin.

The sigil was etched into the concrete floor below what Antonie had once called his throne. Raquel hadn’t known a time when he hadn’t been the cult leader of a group of vampires inhabiting the lowest level of what had once been an abandoned warehouse on the San Francisco waterfront.

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deus ex machina


People assumed he saw everything all at once, but if that were true, clearly the sensory overload would have driven him crazy the first half-second he’d been connected. The only reason it was possible at all was because of his unusual brain structure, specifically a complex network of interconnections that “shadowed” the typical systemic neurology everybody else uses for sensory processing. His “extra” processing system was ideally suited for managing massive amounts of digital information.

So Kelly Elliott agreed to become a guinea pig and let the eggheads at the Conceptius Institute on the University of Washington campus hook his brain directly to the internet.

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Resolution by Time Travel

the time tunnel

Concept art for the 1966 television show “The Time Tunnel”.

“We cannot start over, but we can begin now and make a new ending.” -Zig Ziglar

Operation Tic-Toc physicist Dr. Anthony Newman couldn’t let Senator Leroy Clark shut down the Time Tunnel project. He’d devoted five years of his life working with an elite team of scientists and engineers to perfect time travel, but that was less important to him than the main reason he had struggled so hard to be selected to work here.

He’d lost both of his parents, his Mom to a car accident in 1940 and his Dad nearly eighteen months later on December 7, 1941 during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. He’d been raised by his Mom’s sister June Landers in New Jersey but there was nothing she could ever do to fill the enormous gap torn in his seven-year-old life.

He’d been recruited by the government while still at MIT. The brilliant scholarship student who graduated with a doctorate in Temporal Mechanics was first assigned to a think tank outside of Arlington in what he thought was a project involving theoretical mathematics applied to the uncertainty principle and expressed in five dimensions. In other words, science for its own sake with no practical use.

Then on this twenty-eighth birthday, he received classified orders to report to a top secret government facility buried beneath a remote desert region of Arizona: Operation Tic-Toc. Time travel was real. Now he had to help make it practical.

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Spectacular in Flaming Gold

New Year's Eve San Diego

San Diego – New Year’s Eve fireworks – Found at

Mila’s gown sparkled in effervescent gold as she entered the ballroom that was hosting the midnight gala. She held a glass of champagne in her hand as if she were royalty. From somewhere to her left, a flautist and guitarist were playing Schubert’s Ständchen. It was one of her favorites so he must have arranged it.

She watched Marcelo descend the stairway and then stop at the bottom, his eyes were enchanting like the invitation for a kiss. Mila finished her wine and nonchalantly placed it on the tray of a passing server. She approached him as one approaches a dream or fantasy.

“I knew you would be here waiting for me, Marcelo.”

“Naturally. Otherwise you wouldn’t have come. You hate these garish affairs.”

“But you love them.”

“I love spectacle and this one will be my greatest.”

“Our greatest, my dear. Is your car waiting outside?”

“Of course, angel. I just called for it to be brought to the door.”

“Then it’s time to leave, Marcelo.”

“I quite agree, Mila.”

She took his arm and he guided her way through the crowd and out of the main doors of the Hilton San Diego Bayfront. A valet was just stepping out of the driver’s side of an ebony Ferrari LaFerrari Aperta with crimson trim. Marcelo reached inside his tuxedo jacket and extracting his wallet, tipped the young man more than he could hope to earn in three months.

“Thank you, sir. Thank you very much. Happy New Year.”

Ignoring the grateful valet, Marcelo opened the passenger door for Mila and once she had secured herself, he got in behind the wheel and slowly drove away.

In the first minutes of the New Year, they were racing north on Interstate 5 near La Jolla, a gigantic celebratory fireworks display illuminating the sky behind them, when a brilliant and devastating explosion reduced the Bayfront Hilton to flaming, iridescent rubble and debris. Nearly six-hundred people were killed in just a few moments. Marcelo and Mila would watch the golden spectacle he had created later on the news. This was the first of their astounding mass murders but certainly not their last.

I wrote this for the Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie “Bonus” Wordle for “New Years”. The idea is to use at least ten of the twelve words posted, or some variation of them, in the body of a poem or story. I used eleven only omitting Chanel No. 5. Click the link above to find the full list and to see if anyone else responded to the prompt.

A few things. I did a Google search for “Largest New Years Gala” and quite a few came up in the results. I picked San Diego because it was high on the list and for no other reason.

I chose a flautist and guitarist duet because that was who provided the music for my wife’s and my wedding over thirty years ago and I found it quite beautiful. I don’t remember what specific pieces they played and selected Schubert’s Ständchen because it’s what came up in another Google search.

Marcelo must be exceptionally wealthy because his Ferrari LaFerrari Aperta costs $2.2 million. I thought I’d give him an extravagant getaway car.

Yes, I suppose I could have written a more optimistic “Happy New Year” story, but I’m sure just about everyone else will be or has already done that, so I chose a more sinister theme. At least it’s not vampires this time.

Happy New Year. No, seriously. I mean it this time.

The Troublesome Princess

princess in a tree

Created by Warwick Goble (1862-1943)

“I will not marry you, Prince Abo. Go away.”

“You cannot stay in your tree forever, Princess Yasuko. You are of age now and our parents betrothed us to each other in our seventh year.”

“I don’t care. You are a pig. I will stay in the Empress Tree until I die if you don’t go away.”

“Oh my dear Yasuko. I have called the wood-cutter. Look, he approaches.”

It was true. Tradition required that once they were bonded by the arrangement of both their parents, Yasuko must marry Abo upon reaching her eighteenth year. She had been dreading this day since her Mother the Queen gave her the news eleven years ago.

She had grown up with Abo and knew him all too well. He was pampered and spoiled, demanded that his every whim be catered to immediately. Worse, he was cruel to animals, catching birds only to deprive them of their feathers and then freeing them in the courtyard as helpless prey for the cats.

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The Raven Queen

snow white huntman queen

© Jeff Simpson

The Raven Queen was ancient, perhaps as old as the Flood of Noah or even older. She had possessed many names and many guises over the long millennia depending on which people she chose to bless or curse, their languages, traditions, and the like. She had her favorite identities so when apart from the places of men, she would adopt one that pleased her.

She was also very moody. She could create, deceive, protect whole nations, or murder Kings. It was just a matter of which side of the celestial and metaphorical bed she woke up on in any given age.

“What shall we do today, Kutkh?”

“Call me Ishmael,” the archetype perched upon her shoulder replied.

“You jest certainly. Quoting a work of man again? Melville won’t write that line for centuries.”

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Double Take


A representation of the constellation Gemini

“Who are you?” Kas hated that the first thought that popped into his head when he answered the door had to do with looking into a mirror.

“May I come in?” The man looked exactly like Kas except for the clothes which were a hell of a lot more expensive than he could possibly afford.

“What do you want?” Kas had just moved from Newport News, Virginia to Seattle a month ago for a new job and he knew almost no one except a few people at work. He expected to spend Christmas alone but now he had to face it with his doppelgänger.

“My name is Pol. I promise I mean you no harm. I’ll only stay a minute, but I have some presents for you. May I come in please?”

Kas looked down at Pol’s gloved hands and saw he was holding two small wrapped boxes each with a tiny red bow on top.

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