the raid

The open sky stretched from sand to horizon and the riders advanced on the oasis.

“pops, i have to use the bathroom.”
“we’re almost there. once we’ve pillaged the place, you can use their restroom.”
“i can’t wait. i’ll stop here and go behind a sand dune.”
“son, this is your first raid. man up. you can hold it. we’ll kill everyone quick. you’ll see.”
“i can’t swing my scimitar like this. i’ll have an accident. their last sight will be the stains on my black robe.”
“can you do your business on your mount? while we ride along?”
“eww, are you kidding?”
“all right, go. but if we’re done before you get there, you won’t get one of the girls we spare.”
“will i still get a boy, to be my slave?”

for First Line Friday

a visit

Jaime spent the whole day browsing the antique store and left with just one thing.

that’s all I have to go on. a fifteen-word voicemail. to produce an exoneration in a felony prosecution.

by “the entire day” did hassan mean the daylight hours, which here in the north span the time between ten in the morning and two in the afternoon? or did he mean the time that jaime was awake; that is, from him getting out of bed until the time he goes to bed again? he gets out of bed, gets dressed, goes to the store, browses, buys or steals, goes home. puts on his winter pjs and goes to bed. i’ll add in time for food and bathroom breaks. and a bath and shower. and some time for him to deal with that thing. wrap it as a gift or bury it or whatever. Another thing is, english is hassan’s second or third language. does he understand the nuances of the word browse? does he understand that in this situation, browse jaime would be looking over things for sale in a leisurely and casual way? maybe jaime wasn’t leisurely and casual. maybe he was furtive. does hassan even know what furtive means? probably. he knows a lot more big words than i do and that’s only counting english. who knows how many words he knows in those other languages? he’s rather well-off as well. i can picture him browsing … One more drink and I’ll go to bed and think this whole thing over.

for First Line Friday

poem of the sea


most spoke
of the low but omnipresent
rumble of water
or its dulcet lap against a hull
but that was not
how he missed the sea
it was the oysters
he could not get enough of
and the clams too
the mussels not so much
he could take or leave the mussels

for First Line Friday


Carson pulled at his necktie as the air became heavy with organ music and she approached clouded in white. Sweat ran into his eyes.

Carson wanted the marriage. So did Chloe. But they were two souls caught in a different sort of indicision. Neither was clear about their gender identity.

Carson had a hunch he should identify as a woman, Chloe the opposite. What was she (Carson) doing here, standing in a tux? Why was Chloe trussed up in that wedding dress? And yet.. and yet…

Neither was quite sure, either, which gender they were physically attracted to. Both? Neither? Confusion.

They flipped a coin on the suit/dress conundrum. They used their birth names for the ceremony. They could handle the wedding, but the honeymoon was looming!

for First Line Friday

future stumps

The woods waited for her, everyday she passed the ancient sickly trunks, she felt the wind still with their bated breath.

But hang on, she said to herself. The trees are waiting in great suspense, very anxiously or excitedly? Day after day? No wonder they’re sickly.

Also, she continued internally, the wind consists of their joint breath? If the wind is still, then the trees are holding their breath? Shouldn’t they be breathing rapidly? Hard to hold your breath for days when you’re anxious and excited.

She stopped to inspect a trunk. Uh oh. Borer larvae. These trees weren’t waiting for her and their breath wasn’t bated. They were waiting for a careless campfire to put them out of their misery.

for First Line Friday

The 13th Floor

The elevator stopped on the thirteenth floor with a lurch.

The elevator didn’t want to stop. The lurch was the elevator tugging on the reins. Mr. Noving ignored its wishes and stepped out.

Prior to Mr. Noving, nobody had wanted to stop on the thirteenth floor. For years nobody had. All the other floors were sparkling. Modern. Equipped with stairs that circumvented the thirteenth floor. The twelfth and fourteenth floors ignored the thirteenth’s existence.

This was a city with serious superstition issues.

Mr. Noving brought with him great wealth and energy. He renovated the thirteenth. He introduced top businesses to it. He made it chic. The place to be. And then he extended his wealth and power to the floors above and below it. In time, the building became the business showplace of the city.

With the exception of the seventh floor, that is. Mr. Noving had a problem with the number seven. As shown in the photo above, the seventh floor descended into rack and ruin.

There is a moral here somewhere

for First Line Friday

I liked the rush…

“I liked the rush, I liked the crunch. Never did look back at the fallout.”

Theme for our course on human history, a quote from the last human left.

Note the landscape in the photo above. Humans left very little behind when they were finished with their planet.

Note, in the mirror, evidence that in end times they carried a little habitat called a “trailer” behind them, in which they could abide in the wasteland they had created. They lived like death turtles.

Ironically, the final humans did not need to look back at the fallout. It caught up with them.

for First Line Fridays


The capitol grew rank in the summer heat, the humid streets clogged with sweating tourists and rats.

Striding down the sidewalk, Jon Abramson soaked through his finest summer suit. In court he would make his final arguments before a dripping jury, wilted.

Heun Su pushed her baby’s pram toward the park, she and her daughter dehydrating along the way. Su, spending quality time with her child before heading to the hospital to perform afternoon brain surgery. A nurse would sponge her brow to keep her eyes clear while she worked.

Meanwhile, the rats on the streets, sensing something seriously wrong with the climate, were heading as one out of town, due north.

for First Line Fridays.

The words blurred into one another…

The words blurred into one another, every yellowed page like the one before.

“What does it say?”

“I can’t tell. The words are blurred one into another.”

“Two-by-two? Can you…?”

“No, all the words on the page are one big blur.”

“How can a word at the beginning of the page blur into a word at the end of the page?”

“It’s just one big blur, ok? Maybe each word blurs into the next. One into another. Maybe each word is just sitting there blurred by itself. All I know is, you can’t read anything. Not a single word. All blurred into one another.”

“Seems like if they all… Never mind. Try the next page.”

“The next page is yellowed too. It’s like the one before.”

“Try the page after that.”

“Every page is like the one before.”

“So what you’re telling me is, the thing is one big blur.”

“Probably got wet. A long time ago.”

“So we’ve got no idea what it’s about? It could be about anything. It’s a worthless book.”

“Well, it’s not the only book. There’s a pile of them.”

“Have you checked the others or just this one?”

“Every one is like the one before.”


For Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie