William and the Clockwork Devil

Something in the dark was breathing. William opened his eyes. Two figures stood at the foot of his bed. Long, thin faces like white knives. The rustle of heavy cloth as black hands reached down for his face. His screams echoed through the house, but there was no one there to hear him. He was alone and helpless.

The figures vanished. Somewhere in the dark, a door opened and slammed shut. The streetlight shone through his window, illuminating an empty room. He climbed out of bed slowly, cautiously, lest a hand reached out from the closet or under the bed. But there was nothing. He flipped the switch on the wall and the lights came on, shining behind their pointed, white shades.

“Just a nightmare. Nothing more… nothing more.”


The morning marked two weeks since his mother’s death. William had completely run out of space in the refrigerator. For some reason, any time a friend or family member heard the news, their first reaction was to bring over food.

“Sorry your mom died. Here’s a casserole.”

“I know it’s hard being nineteen and all alone in the world. Here’s some banana bread.”

“Must have been horrifying to find her swinging from the rafters in the attic. Have some scalloped potatoes.” Read more…

Captain Whistler Goes Down

Loreley had survived storms, fires, and even being shot by cannons, but a bomb was more than she could take. Captain Marshall Whistler pulled ropes until he found the one that unfurled her sails. He rushed to the helm, wrestling with the wheel. The cargo hold was taking on water rapidly, but for the moment, the ice blue clipper ship was still afloat.

Other than the cabin boy, Alex, Marshall was sailing the ship alone. The young lad was brave, and good with a pistol, but he was a newcomer to sailing. There was little he could do to help, so he simply waited, watching silently. Despite his bulky, gray sweater, he was shivering.

“There is an island about a hundred yards to the west,” Marshall called. “Our only chance is to run her aground.” The wind rose and carried the ship across the water. “At least, I think we have a chance,” he thought. “I wish I knew for sure. …I wish I knew much of anything about sailing, really.”

As the island rapidly approached, they knew they were in for a rough landing. Alex wrapped his arms around the mast and closed his eyes.
Read more…

The “No Wizards” Rule

“Let me guess,” Greg said, looking at the petite blonde girl who had just walked into his shop, “a butterfly on your lower back. Am I right?” He was tall, in his early thirties, slightly paunchy but with some muscle left over from his college football days. Like most tattoo shop owners, he was heavily illustrated. From the neck down, he was covered in intricate black and gray artwork, much of it drawn by his own hand.

“I told her you were a nice guy,” Ricky said. “Don’t make me a liar.” Ricky was Greg’s apprentice, and about ten years his junior. Greg’s tattoos were subdued and elegant, like poetry, but Ricky’s work was flamboyant and garish, like poetry shouted through a bullhorn. Ricky’s hair was just as showy, dyed neon colors and moussed into spikes, like electrocuted cotton candy.

Rachel let out a breath she hadn’t realized she was holding. “No butterflies,” she said. “And no dolphins or roses or other girly shit like that. I want a tree down my left side… I brought a photo… It was outside my window while I was growing up. Whenever my parents grounded me, which was a lot, I would just climb down the branches and go wherever I wanted. That tree was my freedom, you know?”

“Oh, you’re the tree girl!” Greg said, slapping his forehead. “I remember now. Yeah, Ricky emailed me your photo. I’ve been looking forward to doing this one. I worked up a design I think you’ll like…” Read more…

The First Chain Mail

Thou hast been sent the Accursed Chain Mail! Thou must wear this armor in one battle, and one battle only, after which thou must forward this chain mail to other valiant warriors!

If thou art wondering if the curse is true, I say yea verily!

  • A Persian refused to forward the chain mail, and had his head removed with a battle axe.
  • A Roman who did not forward the chain mail had it ripped from him by the claws of a dragon.
  • A Norman was also foolhardy enough to ignore my warnings, and was cursed with the “French disease”. His masculine parts hence rotted like a barrel of oranges after a long ocean voyage.

To forward this chain mail, thou must have the local blacksmith make five copies, which then thou must give to a page or errand boy to carry to five villages beyond the horizon. If thou dost not complete this task, thou shalt be cursed with the pox! A pox upon thee, I say!

So someone took a book from me…

So someone took a book from me. This wasn’t like the time I fell asleep on the bus and someone swiped my copy of “Hitchhiker’s Guide”, oh no. This was much, much worse.

Every once in a while, I Google the titles of my stories, just to see if anyone is talking about my work. (Spoiler alert: they aren’t.) I was doing this the other day, and I decided to search for the name of a creepy poem I wrote, “Holding Back The Dark”. I found out someone had plagiarized it.

Now, people have plagiarized my work before. I’ve even had students in writing classes ask me if they submit my stories for their homework assignments. (No, you can’t.) If the plagiarist is posting to a site they don’t own, like a Tumblr, it’s usually pretty easy to get my work removed. But this guy went a bit farther than just signing his name to something I wrote. He took a whole stack of my stories, put them together in a novel-length book, and started selling it.

This book was on Amazon. It was on Smashwords. Like herpes at Burning Man, it was all over the place. I started sending out emails asking for it to be taken down, with links to the original on my site. I don’t date the posts on my website, mostly because that would make it obvious how lazy I am about posting updates, but there are comments on “Holding Back The Dark” and other stories with dates more than a year earlier than the stolen book was published. Read more…

“A Few Of My Favorite Tweets” illustrates one of my jokes

The Tumblr “These Are A Few Of My Favorite Tweets” illustrated one of my jokes! Neat!

My Google search history

“How to get away with murder”

“I mean the TV show. I don’t actually want to kill anybody.”

“Except maybe my boss jk”

“Please don’t arrest me”

“Oh god oh god oh god”

“How to make a prison shank”

Sudo Shutdown Everything

“So, what did you do this weekend?” Frank asked, unwrapping a blueberry muffin.

“I destroyed the universe,” Johnathan said. He pulled off his leather jacket and tossed it over the back of the chair.

Frank checked the coffee shop window – the parking lot, trees, and sky were all there as usual. “Well, I’m sorry to say, but you seem to have done a mighty poor job of it. If I was a super villain and hired someone to destroy the universe, and this was the quality of work they did, I would demand my money back.”

Johnathan sighed. “I should probably start at the beginning.” He tore open half a dozen sugar packets and dumped them all into his espresso, his third that morning.

“Sure, let’s hear it.” Read more…

Searching The Internet For Writing Jobs

I want to be a writer! I’m going to search this job board for “writing”.

Search Results:

  • Insurance office needs someone with 10 years experience writing sales reports
  • Web developer needed – Must have experience writing HTML, PHP, CSS, BBQ
  • Office intern needed – Must enjoy writing lunch orders!

Well, crap. Maybe I’ll search for “writing articles”?

Search Results:

  • Make upwards of $2.00 a day writing articles for Sweatshop Magazine!
  • Help our SEO team with writing articles about popular search terms! Huge income potential because we share our ad revenue with you! If your article gets eleven billion hits, you get $2.00!
  • Earn big money writing articles! Conjunctions! Prepositions! You’ll use all the parts of speech working at our insurance office writing sales reports!

Crap! That doesn’t work, either. Maybe I’ll search for “creative writing”.

Search Results:

  • Like creative writing? Then you’ll LOVE working at our insurance office writing sales reports!

Craaaaap.

Color All Your Days

T

he UFO extruded a long, mechanical arm and yanked a confused cow from the field below. On board the spaceship, a green-skinned man in an apron lit a charcoal grill, his antennas waving excitedly.

Sighing, Greg turned his sketchpad around so his customer could see the drawing. “Something like this?”

The man laughed. “That’s great, bro! But make my apron say something funny.”

“Fine, whatever.” Greg wrote “Something Funny” on the apron and handed the man the caricature. “That’ll be twenty dollars. And if you’re interested, I also have some actual art for sale.” He gestured to a large, wooden screen covered with watercolor portraits and nature scenes.

“Nah, bro.” The man folded the caricature in quarters and shoved it in his jacket pocket.

“Somehow, I didn’t think so.” As the man walked away, Greg stood up, stretched his legs, and wiped the dust off his paintings. “I might not be selling any art, but on the plus side, I haven’t had to buy paint for over a year.”

The beach had been chilly and windy all morning. The boardwalk was mostly empty, but he had managed to make just enough money to cover gas and lunch. On warmer days, the area attracted hundreds of beach goers and tourists, but even then, they weren’t exactly in the market for fine art.

His section of boardwalk was between a retired couple who made turquoise jewelry and a homeless surfer who sold seashells. Of course, the beach was covered in thousands of seashells, but these were special. They had plastic googly eyes glued to them. On the other side of the boardwalk, about twenty feet away, stood a long row of candy machines, soda machines, souvenir penny makers, and other mechanical money-wasters.

Two women walked quickly up the boardwalk, high heels clacking on the wooden planks. The first looked to be in her early forties. She was wearing a waitress’s uniform and a dingy sweater missing most of its buttons. Her friend was ten or fifteen years her junior. She had on tights under her dress and a scarf around her shoulders, but was still shivering in the cold.

“What’s that?” the waitress asked, pointing at a glass booth. It looked something like a cross between a ticket counter and a vending machine. Inside the booth stood a mannequin dressed like a gypsy woman in an old horror movie. The mannequin was staring down at a large crystal ball surrounded by tarot carts. Its lips were parted slightly, as if it were just about to speak. Read more…