my woods


I grew up on the edge of woods. It was extensive and I spent a lot of time in it. When I headed off to college, my parents left their empty nest and moved to the city. I didn’t revisit my beloved woods for years.

Out of school, I went to work. I had ideas. I made a lot of money. Three-hundred billion dollars, in fact, which is… a lot of money.

When I finally returned to my woods, I found a subdivision. Average price of the midwestern homes in it, three-hundred thousand dollars. That is, one thousand homes per billion dollars.

Over a decade, I bought thirty-billion worth, thirty thousand homes. I built a twelve-foot wall around them. Removed the homes and built one for myself.

With the tracts for about forty-four homes per acre, the wall enclosed about one hundred and fifty thousand acres, or two hundred and twenty square miles. In the portions of the wall facing still-existing woods, I added portals that could be opened from sunset to sunrise, for the wildlife.

I had a new forest planted, and added a plank path that ran through it.

Now, in my dotage, I ride a golf cart out into my domain every morning.


Photo: Mike Vor
For Sunday Photo Fiction

Blue Serpent

It’s difficult to train a snake but it can be done. I’ve spent years at the task. My efforts eventually brought me to the final round of the Snake Olympics.

My prize competitor, my greatest training accomplishment, and if I may say so, my friend, Blue Serpent, versus the great Russian speedster, черный гигант (Chernyy Gigant, or Black Giant).

Of course, Blue was a massive underdog, or undersnake, to the multiple-race winner. How is a humble Coluber constrictor to beat a Dendroaspis polylepis, fastest snake on the planet?

Training is key. Your snake has to know what’s at stake. Your snake has to want it and want it bad.

The training involves accustoming your animal to the ways of race tracks and ensuring that he or she is sufficiently hungry. You must also know just which prey will be most attractive to your charge, which prey, waiting there at the finish line. Note: Training a snake that prefers other snakes for dinner is never a good idea, as they race side-by-side.

Blue has a taste for mice of a certain size and color.

To keep the competitor on a straight line, light electric shocks are employed during training.

Blue Serpent learned quickly. Off the track, he was adorable. Snuggly. On race days, hungry, he grew still, composing his mind.

Did I mention that Blue is a blue racer. Sure, mambas are supposedly the world’s fastest snake, but with money on the line (no mouse for Blue if he loses), not all ophidians have the heart to triumph, especially after competing in multiple heats to reach that final challenge.

Black Giant had the heart, the will to win, of course. Blue and Black knew each other well. Black 0wned Blue when Blue first came up. That was before I took over Blue’s training. Now Black was confident, proud, perhaps a little hubristic.

The start was clean. At the other end of the course, Blue’s mouse and Black’s yellow-spotted rock hyrax waited in fear. The black viper sprang out to a quick lead. Most snakes can use lateral undulation, rectilinear movement, concertina movement, and  sidewinding, sometimes two-at-a-time in different parts of the body. Competitors must learn which mode(s) of locomotion are most effective in their particular race.

Blue maintained contact through the first half of the race, then began to move up. At the crucial moment in the final stretch, Black’s trainer shouted from the pit the traditional “STOP! STOP!” at Blue. This is allowed, as the snakes must ignore crowd noise. I then shouted “стоп! стоп!” and because I had been practicing the commanding tone of Putin ordering his minions around, (a famous soundbite in Russia), Black hesitated for a fraction of a second, just enough time for Blue to grab the lead and, soon thereafter, the mouse.

The glow of the victory has endured, even now, after Blue has been put out to stud.


For Flash Fiction Challenge

to the stars



settle for

just one star

at first, not for life

on other planets or the ten lost tribes

or god himself or herself or itself greeting me from a golden throne


For Daily Post

Suggested by The Abject Muse‘s example


“Welcome to Morvis High School, Freshman Class. Per adua ad astra. Through hard work to the stars. Ok? Per aspera ad astra. Hardships. Difficulties. You aren’t kids anymore. Per audacia ad astra. Be bold. Quam celerrime ad astra. You won’t be here forever. You’re only young once. Apply yourselves. Sic itur ad astra. That’s how you succeed. Ignore the wiseguy sophomores who tell you Ad astra per alas porci and our highly religious students who tell you Ad astra per alas fideles. Non lucror, exposita scientia, ad astra, knowledge for knowledge’s sake…”

“Jeez, he does go on.”

“Yeah and I couldn’t care less. Forget the stars. Tell me how to get to the astral plane.”


For Daily Post