Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Defiance Chosen

It wasn’t the first time Chelik had seen fire fall from the sky. It bid fair, however, to be the last time he saw it. The alien insectoid Cholgachi overlords had come to exact their tribute from his people. The tribute was always the same…twenty of the clan’s strongest and most healthy young adults.

In anticipation of their arrival, Chelik had known better than to journey too far away. As one of his peoples’ most-skilled hunters, it was not unusual for him to spend days, if not longer, away from his home. Not all of that time was spent satisfying the need for game. Instead, he spent considerable time in the Tainted Lands…there where his clan had, most unsuccessfully, risen in resistance so very long ago. Though legends held the land was so virulently-poisoned as to spell certain death to anyone, experience had shown him this was no longer true.

While he did suffer headaches and nausea for days after departing the Tainted Lands, he was obviously still alive. He considered it an acceptable trade for what he found there. The shards of metal, he surmised, could only be of alien origin as his own people had no such skill in metalworking. Regardless, they provided him arrowheads of such surpassing strength and quality they might well serve his needs.

With every step closer to home, dread was replaced by resolve and an unwavering sense of purpose. He would not…could not allow himself to submit to the will of such beings as held his future….his very life in their unfeeling claws. Consequences and doubt must be set aside. No other option remained to him.

Crouched in the brush on a promontory overlooking the village, Chelik knew he was at long albeit effective range for his bow. His consciousness faded as he devolved into hunter mode. The villagers…the aliens…all else mattered not a whit. His target became all as he nocked his first special arrow and aimed…not at the invaders but at their ship.

Certainly, that which flamed when it came down from the sky could obviously be made to burn by other means. His star-metal arrow hissed downward, piercing the shell of the craft and a slow but steady stream of greenish fluid flowed from the breach. Dipping his second arrow into the coals he had kindled at his side, he set the shaft aflame and sent it after the first only seconds later.

He had no more than tossed himself face down when an explosion shook the ground violently. Burning debris rained down narrowly missing the young man. Without rising, he already knew he had destroyed not only the ship but its crew. With two arrows, he had possibly sealed the fate of his entire planet but he could not find it within him to regret his decision.

If he and his kind were to die, was it not best to do so with backs straight, heads up and eyes wide open? No man should ever die upon his knees…ever.

This story was written for the weekly Finish That Thought flash fiction challenge. 

Monday, March 31, 2014

Rainbow Concoction

Rotting produce, discarded cans, and assorted detritus made no difference as he lay looking up into the night sky. 

He had no idea whose chemical expertise had devised the Rainbow Concoction but it sure as anything made life a lot more manageable.

This story was written for the Gargleblaster flash fiction writing challenge. The challenge was to write a story of exactly 42 words based on the question, "What's so amazing that keeps us stargazing?" This is my response. 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Finding a Voice - Sale Continues

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #37,022 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
#48 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Literary Fiction > Short Stories

Finding A Voice is the material realization of one writer's quest to find his place, to establish his identity, to find his niche in the ever-expanding world of independently-published literary offerings. With 18 offerings in 8 different genres, this book provides something of interest to almost any reader.

Thanks to the love and support of readers (and the Countdown option from Kindle Select) this book has soared in popularity in just two days. Thanks to all those who have purchased a copy. For just .99 cents, you too may find what has attracted so many to take a shot at this book. Go on...get it. I suspect it will be the most enjoyable single item you purchase today for under a dollar. 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Nature Call

Copyright - John Nixon

Benjamin followed the irresistible pull of a power he found both unavoidable and irresistible. It spoke to him in his dreams…in his mind through a disjointed language of images and formless concepts.

He trudged on, sensing the end of his long journey. As if by proximity, the indistinct nature of the communication vanished and the voice in his head was clear and calm.

“I have been known as Yggdrasil…the Tree of Knowledge…and so very many, many other names. The future of you and all of your kind is threatened in a way only you can avert...with my help, of course."

This story is written for the weekly Friday Fictioneers flash fiction photo prompt. 

Adieu to Friends

Scrap trotted along beside the Big One, uncertain why they had gone so far from home out here into the spooky woods he had never before been allowed to enter. The terse, emotionless expression on the face of his guide made it, patently, clear he did not wish to discuss the matter with the puppy.

The Big One had become very quiet and moody of late and nothing Scrap could do seemed to drag him out of his dolorous mood and back to the carefree days of the not-so-distant past.

At length, the Big One stopped and fixed his small friend with a steely glare, before informing him their…association was at an end and Scrap would need to make alternative arrangements for his future.

Scrap stood in stunned disbelief as the Big One took wing and sailed away, unwilling…unable to believe a dragon and a puppy could simply not be lifetime companions.

This story was written for the weekly Five Sentence Fiction flash fiction prompt: companion.  

All Jacked Up

Head bowed and shoulders hunched, he seemed oblivious to the worsening weather. Fat flakes of snow began to waft downward as evening gave way to night on the streets of Whitechapel.

In truth, he sought to both exercise and exorcise the voices whispering and gibbering in his mind. He took to the streets hoping to walk so long and so far they would be banished when he, at length, found it expedient to return to his home and the solace of exhausted sleep.

The demons murmured consolation the inclement weather would dissuade all but the most dedicated of the local constabulary from their rounds. They assured him, though, the conditions would not deter those sullied flowers of womanhood who peddled their flesh to the lecherous.

They chided it was his duty…his obligation to sweep such refuse from the streets. With a sigh and a nod, he acquiesced to their demands.

This story was written for the weekly Visual Dare flash fiction photo and phrase prompt: covert. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Finding A Voice - On Sale

Published by: Visionary Press Collaborative Edited by Blaze McRob 
and featuring cover art by: Thomas Arensberg

Available electronically for Kindle  

Finding A Voice is the material realization of one writer's quest to find his place, to establish his identity, to find his niche in the ever-expanding world of independently-published literary offerings. 

With 18 pieces covering 8 genres the collection contains as wide a spectrum of short fiction pieces as one is liable to find in any single-author collection available. Help keep this writer's dream and vision alive by adding a copy to your personal library.

To get my book into the hands of as many readers as possible, I am offering it for the price of just .99 cents for the next 3 days. If you believe in supporting independent authors in their quest to achieve critical and financial success then I guarantee Finding a Voice is an excellent investment. 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Angel of Enlightenment

He lay in the muggy darkness of the night, trying to center himself to no avail. Sighing deeply, he swung his legs over the side of the uncomfortable bed and sat, in silence, waiting for the waves of disorientation to pass.

A trembling hand snagged the brown prescription bottle off the nightstand and he shook it, listening to the rattle of the shiny capsules contained therein. Whatever surcease he might find from his internal unrest, he knew the pills were, most definitely, incapable of providing such. They placed him into a false, contrived state of mind where he was incapable of forming original or coherent thoughts. Most disturbing of all was the manner by which they denied him the ability to hear Her voice.

She had first spoken to him while he was still a prisoner of the State. Though he was required to participate in counselling and submit to the doctors and psychologists, they could not accomplish what only She could. Her’s was the voice of hope, of encouragement, of self-worth and purpose. She was the bastion of stability and sanity he so desperately needed.

He was convinced She was an angel. Whether a servant of Allah, or the Almighty, of the Buddha or of Vishnu he could not say, for She spoke from all of their precepts. She whispered he must do as the doctors required, must say that which they wished to hear, and must act as they intended if he were to ever be free to pursue any sort of life. Thus, he had done as She asked when he felt no compunction to comply with the voice of any other.

His freedom had been achieved and perhaps that was worse than his physical imprisonment, he mused. Friendless, adrift, devoid of focus, he despaired. It was during those first dark days, when he needed her most, his angel had not spoken to him. He discovered it was the damnable pills that silenced her and so, despite his promises to the contrary, he had ceased to take them. Four long and agonizing days later, his system was purged enough of the medicinal poisons for him to again hear Her.

In the intervening weeks, he listened to Her every word, hanging on the concepts and ideas she spun forth for him. Enthralled…enraptured by the truth and the clarity of her words, he could do little else. She had spoken to him of the purpose only alluded to during his imprisonment and tonight he was to achieve that purpose. She crooned comforting words into his jumbled mind that set him to rights at last. An hour later, he walked the gritty streets on a quest of enlightenment and fulfillment to make Her proud of his progress towards perfection.

The bar was crowded on this particular night. Soulful music emanated from the stage as the band played to the masses. Taking a seat in the darkened comfort of the corner, he set his backpack on the floor beneath the table. Drinking from the beer he was constrained to purchase, his eyes scanned the motley assemblage of humanity that filled the room. They were every bit as damaged, imperfect and unsound as the world told him he was and yet, they had companionship, acceptance, and approbation. It was…wrong for things to be so.

Their souls were dark. Their souls were grimy and their minds filled with evil and unwholesome influences. Their abhorrent natures might be concealed by toned and tattooed flesh encased in designer clothing and contrived costumes but the truth could not be so easily disguised. These were the pretenders…the defilers…the diseased and discordant. She spoke in his mind of what he must do to free them…to empower them to be more than they were.

Nodding in agreement to Her, he reached into his backpack and depressed the large button on the side of the device he had constructed with her guidance. The timer lit up and began to count backwards from 300. Sitting in that noisesome place, surrounded by that repellant mass of flawed beings, he heard nothing but Her voice singing to him as he awaited the end of their lives and the beginning of whatever came after….this.

This story was written for the weekly Mid-Week Blues Buster flash fiction challenge and is loosely-based on the song Put Your Light On

Leaving the Nest

While Cecily had, certainly, not expected to receive her parents’ full support for her decision to move out, she had been quite unprepared for the unbridled anger and fury they manifested. They seemed well-prepared with an impressive litany of objections, oppositions and challenges to her choice.

No, she agreed, she did not know the best type of tree for her and Gordon to build their first nest in. True, she had not determined whether there would be a readily-available source of insects, worms and such for the young couple to survive on.

When her parents had, at length, ranted and raved at her beyond her ability to take even a single second more of it, she decided she had naught to lose as she took wing and flew away until she could no longer hear their disapproving voices at all.

This story was written for the weekly Five Sentence Fiction flash fiction photo and word prompt: furious.

Winter Getaway

Looking out the window that morning at the thick coat of snow, Frank knew he had to find a gentler climate to wait out winter.

Sitting at the center of the twists and turns of the vast labyrinth he realized he should have focused his powers on something more definite than “someplace warm” before teleporting.

This story was written for the weekly 55 Word Challenge flash fiction challenge and includes all three of the prompt photos.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Not Quite Undercover

The sea, which had been glassy only an hour before, now raged with an unholy vengeance upon the small ship. Onboard, Captain Mathias Tennant awaited a signal he was becoming increasingly convinced he would never receive. From below decks he heard the faint chime of the ship’s clock…four bells. Unable to imagine the vessel had been at anchor so long, he confirmed the time with his pocket watch. It was distressingly accurate. He replaced the watch and buttoned his coarse canvas coat against the chill of the night.

He should have known better than to entrust a mission of such dire consequence to an operative with precious little field experience…a female operative at that. In the six years since the war began he had never lost an undercover agent and she would, most certainly, not be the one to tarnish his unblemished record.

An agonizingly-long half hour later, he beached the skiff, turning it about to face the sea. Having been blessed with a keen sense of direction, he had no doubt he was within a mile of the fishing village that had been her objective.
He ghosted through the night quickly and unerringly. Patchy clouds scuttled across the sky making for tenuous, but sufficient, illumination. He found no sign of the girl…woman at the makeshift camp she had set up and so he turned toward the village. He had gone, scarcely, more than a few hundred further yards before he heard the unmistakable sounds of a scuffle. Hoarse, albeit muted, cries and the clash of blades left no doubt of that. Given the hour and the likely location, he had every reason to believe he had found his missing operative.

Coming over a low rise he saw her. Dressed in high boots, homespun shirt and patched galligaskins, she was, nevertheless, quite obviously a woman. Beset by a pair of attackers, she was holding her own, if barely. He winced as a clumsy riposte on her part left little doubt the saber she wielded was a much longer and heavier blade than she was accustomed to using. Unwilling to trust to her swordcraft, as soon as he was close enough to feel confident of his marksmanship, he fired his pistol. He had to thank divine providence when the man’s head exploded and he dropped lifeless to the sand.

So embroiled was the second man with his opponent he spared no thought for his partner. Instead, he redoubled his efforts to finish off the young woman. Tennant broke into a dead run, drawing a long knife as he ran. He feared she would not last long enough for him to reach her in time.

As if sensing the same thing, she made a desperate play to turn the tide of the battle in her flavor. Reaching to the laces of her tunic, she ripped the cheap cloth away, exposing undeniable proof of her femininity. It had the desired effect and her attacker was sufficiently flummoxed to provide her the momentary opening she so-desperately needed. She lunged, burying her blade in the man’s chest and bore him down to the ground. He died quickly.

Flopping down next to the body, she fought to catch her breath. Making no effort to cover her nakedness, she glanced up as Tennant arrived and favored him with a saucy grin. “Here now, don’t suppose you have a spare shirt with you, Cap’n?”

Doffing his coat, he handed it over with a smile of his own. He had a feeling this particular operative might just have what it took to become a very efficient agent after all.

This story was written for the weekly Finish That Thought flash fiction phrase prompt. 

Friday, February 21, 2014


Derek stood in the cool darkness of the night and waited. He had spent weeks mining every fan site, music news program, entertainment magazine with even the vaguest hint to her whereabouts. All of that time and effort led to him finding himself here in the light rain and thick fog of the San Francisco suburbs.

He knew no sane man would be doing what he proposed tonight. He knew no normal, everyday well-adjusted observer of pop culture would be so easily ensnared by all of the hype and hyperbole attendant with being a star of her caliber. What he knew was one thing while what he felt for her was an entirely different matter. He was no longer capable of denying his feelings and tonight he would transcend the ranks of those who merely fancied her and ascend to the level of prominence in her life he truly deserved.

He had first seen her in a music video while channel-surfing in the wee hours of a sleepless night. From that moment, she was not some pretty face and passable voice to him. She was…a goddess…an icon…the altar upon which he would sacrifice anyone and anything to never have to live a single day for the rest of his life without some semblance of her in it.

His home media library included ever known recording of her music. He had each of the five cinematic appearances she had made in every known format in which they had been released. The Internet provided him clips of her interviews, awards- ceremony speeches, public service announcements and, even, the dozen or so commercials for various products she had done in Japan when her quest for exposure had been at its greatest.

He had scrapbooks filled with every print interview, newspaper story, magazine photo spread or material of any sort found in any other hardcopy source with even a scintilla of a connection to her. Those books were shelved next to the ones containing the ticket stubs and programs from each and every one of the 27 concert appearances of hers he had attended on three continents.

He had, of course…of necessity, written her many a letter extolling not only the depths of his reverence for her but his heartfelt certainty they were destined to be together. While he was well aware, with her schedule and commitments, it would be difficult for her to respond to him in as timely a manner as he might wish, he was entirely unprepared for the stark reality of her response when, at length, it arrived.

Said response took the form of an unctuous man, considerably lacking in any understanding of social graces, who returned to him each and every one of his missives along with a cease-and-desist order admonishing him to write no further letters. The man left no room for doubt further legal actions of a much less passive nature would be brought to bear if he saw fit to disregard the gentle prodding of the order.

Rather than constituting the voice of reason…the ice-cold water in the face of reality, the order had ignited with Derek a raging inferno. He realized he would never be able to overcome the arbitrary obstacles placed between him and the potential love of his life.

Across the street, he saw movement and was galvanized into action. He knew she would be accompanied by her two omnipresent bodyguards and had planned appropriately. The firearms he had chosen offered the maximum rate of fire and damage possible. They fell in a hail of bullets offering no obstacle to him whatsoever.

He focused his attention and the remainder of his ammunition on her. Tears streamed down his face as he watched his beloved jerk and spasm in the bloody dance of death that guaranteed, quite irrevocably, that if she were never to be his to love then she would never be loved by anyone else either.

This story was written for the weekly Mid-Week Blues-Buster flash fiction challenge and is loosely based on the song Images of Heaven by Peter Godwin.

Doctrine Be Damned

Parachutist @ Ft. Lewis. Public Domain Image

Conventional special operations doctrine held doing a covert insertion was best done under cover of darkness. The preferred method a HALO (High Altitude Low Opening) drop. Such a method greatly decreased the odds of the delivery aircraft being detected as well as providing the paratrooper maximum opportunity to select a secure landing site. So much for conventional doctrine, Zed mused as he bailed out of the door.

When he’d been tapped for this mission, the briefing had made it clear there was no time for delay. The eco-terrorists at the logging camp had no interest in negotiating their demands. They could and would shed blood if their demands were not met by the deadline.

Thus, Zed would be deploying in broad daylight with no backup…no on-ground assets. His mission? Exterminate the threat with extreme prejudice and free the hostages.

Spiraling in for his landing, he allowed himself a wry chuckle. Yeah, he was definitely getting too old for this stuff.

This story was written for the weekly Flash! Friday Fiction flash fiction photo prompt and special word prompt: aging.

Live Bait

Copyright - David Stewart
Kane eyed the deserted schoolyard with a jaundiced eye. The buildings he saw had potential. There were windows to barricade and way too many points of entry, but that meant an equal number of escape routes if…no when things went south. With the undead hordes growing in numbers daily it was only a matter of time.

He eyed the school bell knowing the noise it made would draw out any of the Shamblers who lurked in the area. He supposed he could have delegated the task but that wasn’t his way. Sighing, he slipped out to do what needed done.

This story was written for the weekly Friday Fictioneers flash fiction photo prompt. 

With a Single Step

Thanks to the new-millennium tools of telecommuting, virtual baking, online bill payment and such Eldon had felt no pressing need to leave his home since the beginning of summer.

Despite what his therapist had said of his need to get out, to walk, to lose his anxiety in physical exertion he had found it beyond him to follow that plan. The cool, quiet darkness of his home was so much more inviting and so much less intimidating. When the errant sunbeam broke through the cover of the trees surrounding his home that morning, he realized he must go out and embrace the light or condemn himself to a non-existence of darkness and isolation forever.

Squaring his shoulders, marshalling his will and trying desperately to tamp down the trepidation coursing through him, he opened the door and took his first tentative steps on the perilous journey to wellness.

This story was written for the weekly Five Sentence Fiction flash fiction photo/word prompt: sunshine.