Hospitality

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A single foot, fur-clad against the outside elements, crossed the threshold.

The second foot, likewise insulated against the frozen ground, hesitated to cross the boundary.

Snow pressed around the bundled figure in the doorway, blowing into the hearth-room of the ancient keep.  The brutal winter wind teased the glowering flames in the fireplace, setting spidery shadows dancing along the thick stone walls, yet the gale blowing at her back was nothing compared to the dire stories being shouted at her from the dim hall.

Slowly, deliberately, she slid her recalcitrant limb through the doorway at the urging of a tiny form of indeterminate gender, waiting to slam the heavy wood door against the raging blizzard.

**THUD**

With the surcease of howling storm winds and punishing ice crystals, she stood, dripping slush, and listened to the stones of the hearth.  They spoke eloquently (as only stones can) of the recent past they had witnessed.

It sang to her ears only, using the tongues of flame burning solemnly above the grate.  As it whispered its dark tale, it highlighted the scattered bits of evidence around the room using the shadows cast –  a filament of iron embedded in the hard-backed chair.  The faint outline of a hastily-scrubbed pool of fluid on the flagstones.  Flakes of ash, not of wooden origin, scattered about the floor.  As damning as these small vignettes were – they paled in comparison to the single spot of scarlet overlooked on the hearthstone itself.

A chair, to the opposite end of the hall, it’s seat enshrouded in shadow the flames light feared to touch, took a deep breath, speaking the ancient rite in the Master’s own thin, reedy voice…

“Enter and be well by my fire on this miserable night, stranger.”

Frigg dropped her snow-covered cloak on the flagstones, preparing for her ‘work.’  The stains of false Hospitality would be cleansed by fire and blood.

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My Stuff – Flash Fiction

Greg at Almost Iowa offered up a challenge on his post the other day…pick an object, and write an essay or a bit of flash fiction about it.

Rose lineup Flash Fiction

Greg…ya had me at Flash Fiction 😀

Sooooo…live and in living color, straight from my work desk to your screen…I present you with:

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The Smurf and the Wookie…

…A love story

A story by Peyton

A very long time ago, in an office far, far away, a little girl sat, eating her happy meal, trying very hard not to look at the toy.  It was brown and horrible-looking, and, worst of all…it was the toy given to the boys at McDonalds, not the girls.

But Mommy had promised to fix it after work, IF she was good…so she ruthlessly shoved a few more french fries into her mouth, and tried very hard not to look at the boring plastic shape.

 

“Maybe,” she thought, chewing through her last bite of hamburger, “the nice lady by the front phones will talk to me?”  So, looking carefully around the cubicle wall for Mommy, she darted across the hall and up to the front desk, boring brown plastic shape still clutched firmly in a fistful of ketchup-stained fries.

Today, the nice lady was in Daddy’s office with Mommy, talking about boring things.

AH!

On the nice lady’s desk, perched proudly next to the plastic cup of paper-clips, a little form in blue and white.

“Well…that Smurf is a LOT prettier than this old brown thing…”

So, up on the nice lady’s chair she went…

The Smurf and the Wookie had a glorious time that Wednesday afternoon at Mommy’s office – they danced on the nice lady’s desk, they played hide & seek in the file cabinet, they squished the french fries because they were really, REALLY big worms.  AND…the best part was when the smurf tied the Wookie in a big chain of paper clips.

After all that – the little girl decided the Wookie couldn’t go home with her and leave his best play-friend behind… (and, besides, Mommy said she’d fix it, so she was getting a new toy!)  With the logic of youth, the Wookie had to stay, happy and proud to be on the nice lady’s desk with his buddy the Smurf.

And the nice lady said she could play with the both of them anytime she had to come with Mommy to the office.

 

 

To this day, the Smurf and the Wookie hang out on my desk, smelling slightly of that epic, long ago french fry/gigantic worm ketchup-smothered battle.

They’re still best buddies.

toys at the bar

This Chick Walks into a Bar…

Book 2

The Arcanum Infernata says:

“Those who encounter daemon, Those scored by tooth or claw, Those fortunate enough to walk from the beast, Those burdened of stolen magics, forevermore.”

For those of you not fluent in cryptic Grimoire-speak – it means:  You survive a fight with a demon, and you get their powers.  Do not sell your soul to Satan, Do not die & work your way up the Hell Ranks…just go directly to power.  Do not pass Go…and do not collect $200.

Cool, huh?   How could a girl resist?

What the damned Arcanum failed to mention was the damned thing you stole powers from would chase you to the damned ends of the damn Earth to regain it’s damned abilities. That’s a hell of a catch there.  A rather important bit of a codicil to the ole’ contract conveniently penciled in extremely fine print in an unreadable font.

Trust me on this one…you do NOT want an extremely pissed-off demon dogging your every move.

I see you squirming on your barstool.  Rethinking that pick-up line?

Rose lineup Flash Fiction

Flash Fiction-Pyromaniac

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I’m back to digging through some of the older Flash Fiction pieces again.  This week, I’ve been reminiscing over fire.

As it’s been cold up here in Frosty Wisconsin, is there any wonder why my thoughts were turning to extreme heat sources?

The flash piece below was my offering for Flash! Friday’s 2014 anniversary celebration…and was the 2nd piece I officially submitted to their weekly frenzy.  I have to admit – I was shocked senseless when my entry was chosen as one of the 12 semi-finalists.  Now, I don’t have access to the original photograph, but it was stunning.  A small building (think: cabin in the deep woods) fully engulfed in flame in the dead of night.   I do remember they had a strict word count on this one (150 words on the nose…no more, no less) and the usual 24 hour time period to submit.

I can’t believe I never slipped this up on the T&T – it’s one of my favorite pieces of flash.

And, accompanying the piece is not my usual flash banner – the image is one I got a mind-shot of when someone on Google+ shared a picture of a close up of the front grille of a pot-bellied stove.  I just had to create something in ‘Shop to bring that vision to life.  One of my first attempts at actual drawing in ‘shop.  I think it turned out well 🙂

 

Pyromaniac

150 words

Flame.

Orange against black. Subtle licks of cerulean, scarlet, saffron and emerald flare into being to vanish in an instant without a trace. Elongated fingers of incandescence stretch into the void to momentarily paint their essence onto the obsidian night sky.

Inferno.
It is alive with movement – sliding, shifting, waving, weaving – its hypnotic, primal dance both beautiful and terrible as it crafts a timeless, mesmerizing, elemental ballet of destruction.

Blaze.
The voice of combustion, a low, throaty growling howl of clean air transformed to sweltering luminescence, whispering secret desires into the ears of those who worship it.

Immolation.
They listen, comprehending the flare’s song in that most primitive portion of the brain. They stare, glassy-eyed and slack-jawed, into the complex twisting leap and swirl of the living flame. They are powerless to resist the compelling demands of spark, ember, pyre.

Intentional.
Some men just need to watch the world burn.

Flash Fiction – Calling all Cars!

 

Rose lineup Flash Fiction

I sometimes miss the old Flash Fiction website – it was a vibrant online community of semi- (and not so semi-) hobby writers, who gathered at least once a week to be challenged to produce a small piece of original fiction.  Inspired by the photo prompt or directed requirements – we operated on a tight timeline to pop out a tiny slice of creative wordplay.

I’m sharing this piece again – as it was one of my favorite flash pieces, and, well, ’tis the season 😀

 

 

 

Calling All Cars!

157 words

“Calling all cars!  Calling all cars!”

Every year, we get the call.  Every year, we respond.  Every year, our department fails to close this decades-old case.

“Person of interest male, white, late 70’s, portly.  Full facial hair, white.  Last seen wearing bright red suit and hat with white fringe, black belt, black knee-boots.”

My hands curl around the steering wheel, mentally preparing for the yearly bloodbath.

“Suspect get-away vehicle tiny sleigh pulled by 8 animals of reindeer origin.  No plates evident.”

My partner and I lock eyes, knowing …HATING… what’s coming.

“Ocular trauma to multiple victims.  Eyes replaced with charcoal briquettes.”

I yank a cigarette from the pack on the dash.  “Shoulda been nice…” I whisper, even as my partner mutters  “It’s always the naughty ones…”

“Suspect 3.75 inches tall.  Last known locations… “

A string of addresses follow, blanketing the car in a wall of sound.

“Public Enemy number one…” I growl, flipping on the siren.

Flash Fiction – What does a Statue Think?

Rose lineup Flash Fiction

I’m digging through my old flash fiction files again – I just happened to come across this gem.  I know exactly why I didn’t post this one out here when I first created it – the first 2 paragraphs had far too many abstract concepts in them, and the flow just wasn’t there.

I’ve touched it up, and I think it hints quite well about how I feel about this year’s Presidential Dog & Pony.  The near future will tell if the rest of the world agrees with the thoughts I’ve imagined in Liberty’s head.  Until then – enjoy this little bit of Flash.

In Lady Liberty’s Head

217 Words

I say: the ink used to record human history is no more than fluid prejudice. Like all ‘lofty’ Human notions – Truth is an abstract now honored with empty lip service – a Utopian ideal moldering in a dumpster of forgotten debris.

Thus do the records of wholesale tragedy and individual accomplishment become a collection of fiction slowly crumbling into dust.

I stand, as I have stood for centuries, atop this granite pedestal built on Liberty Island, torch aloft and tablet proudly clasped to my breast – my face turned away from the land I symbolize. There are many who say I attend the eastern waves to welcome new visitors, proudly lighting the way to a new country which will “take in the tired, and take in the poor, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.”

I now watch across the waves as the rest of the world scorns this land of plenty – overflowing with the degenerates and predators wielding that prejudicial liquid in a final, mad attempt to paint themselves in a more favorable light.  An effort to cover the filth-buried truth with a final coating of pretty lies.

The world has seen through this poisoned ink, and comes en-masse to sterilize the festering wound.

I turn my back, so as not to watch the final defeat.

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Flash Fiction – Five of the clock

Rose lineup Flash Fiction

I’ve been digging through my old stuff again – and found another flash fiction piece I wrote up about a year ago.  Why it never ended up in the published list is a question best left to sages and those gurus who own time.

It IS a good piece of situational flash  –  so I’m sharing it now.  Enjoy!

 

Five O’Clock

Story Elements:  Conflict and Character

242 words

Too much alcohol.

Too little sleep.

Too much of whatever that white-ish sludge I found in the bottom of my whiskey glass was…

 

He wanted me quiescent.  Immobilized.  But conscious.  As much as I would like the reality of this room to fade away into my comfortable library, it stubbornly sticks to reality.

His boots scrape along the concrete floor, his off-key whistling echoing weirdly from the steel rafters.  Like a cobra strike, his face pops into my field of view.

“Ahhhh…” the word a long, slow exhalation, punctuated with garlic and tobacco smoke.   “No introductions necessary, I assume?”

They’re not, and he knows it.  His face and his escape have been plastered all over the news and social media since ‘The Butcher’ performed his vanishing act from his not-so-cozy cell a week ago.

Those stories amplified as he resumed his grizzly … work.

“It’s five o’clock somewhere,” he says sardonically, his face inches from my own, his breath forcing trickles of tears from my watering eyes.  “Have you ever heard the term?  It’s an excuse.  A cop out.  A clever way to say I’d rather go fill my gullet with alcohol than to do a competent job.”

A finger of ice traces it’s delicate way down my spine.

“You said that, your Honor, the day you sentenced me to life without the possibility of parole.”

He slowly draws a very shiny, very sharp knife between our faces.

“It’s time for my drink.”