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…

Wheelbarrows and Women

My friend came to me with an unusual claim.
“Wheelbarrows and women are completely the same!
They work in the garden, they hold bags of dirt.
Some are quite prudish, the others are flirts.

They both have some legs and they both have a wheel,
And neither will mind if you give them a feel.
Sure, one’s made of flesh and the other of wood,
But I can’t tell the difference – I’m sure nobody could!”

But wheelbarrows and women are not the same thing.
Keep one in a shed, give the other a ring.
A barrow will serve you the rest of your life,
But a woman’s the one that you make your wife.

Now, fella, don’t you get the two confused.
Try to load up a woman, you might be refused.
But barrows will carry the things that you’ve piled.
They’ll carry it all, except for a child.

He said, “But barrows and women both love romance,
And they both like to kiss, and they both love to dance.
You might be correct, you might be on the mark,
But wheelbarrow or woman, who cares in the dark?”

House of 1,000 Doors

House of a Thousand Doors

This wasn’t how this was supposed to go. The ring had become a chain around his neck. She was supposed to be this grand gift from the universe, this reward to make up for a lifetime of pain, and she almost was. But now, he was being dragged somewhere he’d never intended to go.

Veronica was kind and sweet and never criticized. She was the first woman Kurt had ever dated who didn’t accuse him of having Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder because he liked to keep his life running smoothly. “But she has someone else…” The words echoed in his mind as he snapped the empty ring box open and closed. How could she expect a man to share his fiancée?

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Art for Art’s Sake

Art for Art’s Sake

When the doctor told Jack he was going to lose his sight, his first thought was “I should have become a podiatrist. Even blind, it’s easy to find someone’s feet. They’re usually at the end that’s not talking. But, no, I just had to be an artist…” Jack was a painter. For a little while longer, at least. He would have six more weeks with good vision, possibly less. And then the world would slowly vanish, taking his art career with it. Without sight, it is very difficult to tell if the meadow you are painting is full of red flowers, blue flowers, or ferrets smoking cigars. Read more…

On a Mission from God

One of the best ways to deal with writer’s block is “free writing”. Just putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and letting it flow, without editing, reservations, or judgment can be a great way to recharge your creative batteries. Sometimes, you will produce gibberish. Sometimes, you will produce the seeds of a great story idea. And sometimes, you will produce… Something else.


On a Mission from God

I get home from work, and there is a message from God. First of all, who gave God my number? Damn it, I’m unlisted for a reason. God’s been bothering me ever since we first met. He was sitting outside of Burger King, begging for change. I didn’t have any coins, so I gave him a tenner. Ever since then, he’s asked me for a favor every time we’ve talked. I guess he thinks I’m a pushover. I guess I kind of am.
Read more…

Strange Google searches

Strange things from Google Analytics

Every once in a while, I check Google Analytics to see what people are searching for when they come to my site.   Sometimes it shows me people are looking for my content but can’t find it, sometimes it gives me story ideas, and sometimes… it just creeps me out.

Here are some of the stranger Google searches that brought people to my site: Read more…

Calvin & Hobbes 25th Anniversary Today!

Calvin & Hobbes 25th Anniversary Today!

Today, my favorite comic strip is 25 years old. Created by Bill Watterson on November 18, 1985, “Calvin and Hobbes” is the only newspaper comic strip to ever elevate the medium to an art form. I was the same age as Calvin when the strip premiered, and the older I get, the more I appreciate it.

Calvin’s imagination transformed his world.  His mind could take him from a dull, dreary classroom to a strange, alien world.  People might see him as an ordinary child, but he could become a space explorer, a super hero, a detective, or even a dinosaur.  A cardboard box could be a time machine, a cloning device, or a transmogrifier, depending on which side was up.  Calvin constantly inspires me to be creative, to imagine, and remake my world.  And isn’t that what all writers want to do?

Now that I’m (just a little) older, I admire Calvin’s dad.  We never really see this in the strips, but I believe his fantastic, crazy explanations for the way the world works are actually a great educational tool.  Once Calvin discovered that his dad was only joking, his curiosity would be peaked and he would search for the answers on his own. Discovering things for yourself is the best way to learn.  As an adult, Calvin would have learned a healthy skepticism that would prevent him from just passively accepting what he was told. Independent thought is the best gift any parent can give a child. Read more…

The Snake Charmer and the Human Unicorn

The Snake Charmer and the Human Unicorn

A Love Story


or one week in summer, red cloth and steel polls transformed a vacant lot into another world. Strange creatures danced like demons, beautiful women tamed wild beasts, and ordinary men demonstrated a host of supernatural powers. The sideshow had come to town. The sideshow! The bastard child of the circus and the absolute bottom rung of the theatrical ladder. In the days before television swallowed the world, the sideshow was the ultimate in voyeurism. You could ride every rollercoaster, play every game, eat every delicious treat the carnival had to offer, but it would be the sideshow you would remember forever. Some memories fade like the dawn, but others are destined to die with you.

A clear, blue Monday morning, opening day. The crowds attacked the carnival grounds like an angry swarm of locusts. Across from the row of rides was a long tent, purple and crimson, with a rickety, wooden stage near the entrance. A man in a white pinstriped suit and Panama hat stepped onto the stage and lifted a megaphone to his lips. Bentley, the sideshow talker. The bally had begun. “Ladies and gentleman,” he bellowed, “have I got a treat for you. This is, bar none, the greatest show in the galaxy. We’ve got beautiful, Hawaiian hula dancers, Marco the Magician, and Vesuvius the fire breather! We’ve got a cow with two heads! Guaranteed born alive, or we’ll hand you a crisp, clean hundred dollar bill! Come see the show, folks! We’ve got more thrills than a fish has gills! See Jade the sword swallower! When she swallows a light bulb, you can see it shine in her belly! Now, have I got a treat for you today! Come a little closer, and enjoy a free show! That’s right, free! Free as the air you breathe!”

At these words, a tall, curvaceous woman in a tiger print leotard climbed onto the stage. Wrapped around her shoulders was an immense, black and gold python. “Ladies and gentlemen,” Bentley continued, “this is one of the stars of our show, Sabrina the Snake Charmer! Show ’em what you do, honey!” Sabrina lifted the snake from her shoulders and, arms outstretched, presented it to the crowd. The women shrieked and moved back. A few men told their wives they were moving in closer to look at Sabrina’s snake but, instead, they helped themselves to an eyeful of Sabrina. Suddenly, Sabrina lifted the snake over her head and slowly lowered its head into her mouth. The crowd gasped. She opened her mouth and released the snake, kissing it gently. “Isn’t that great, folks?” Bentley said. “Of course it is! And that’s just one of ten acts you can see, all for fifteen cents. That’s less than a penny each! Still not convinced? Here’s Marco the Magician!”

Marco quickly donned his top hat and cape and boarded the stage while Sabrina rushed into the tent to get ready for the real show. She brushed past a tall man in a blue denim shirt, ignoring his hellos. The man in the blue shirt was entirely unremarkable, save for the fourteen-inch horn protruding from the center of his forehead. The Human Unicorn watched Sabrina hurry to her stage and deposit the snake in a large, bamboo basket. The Unicorn trudged back to his stage and waited for Bentley to “turn the tip,” or bring the crowd inside. Suddenly, Marco flew past him, holding onto his top hat with both hands.

“They’re on their way!” he shouted. “Get ready, Unicorn!”

Read more…

The Not-So-Great Porter

The Not-So-Great Porter


t’s a new world out there,” Mr. Heisenberg said. “There is no sense of wonder anymore. Magic is dead, killed by science long ago.”

“Give me another chance,” the white-haired magician said. “If I can’t pack the house, I’ll never darken the door of your theater again.”

“You’d better wow me, old man.”

“So it’s come to this,” Porter thought, “begging this morbidly obese simpleton for a few moments on his stage. But he’ll see! In my jacket are the blueprints for a miracle. Tonight, I’ll show him magic still lives and breathes!”

Showtime. Porter’s assistant, a raven-haired beauty in a white gown, came to center stage. “I need a dozen volunteers,” Porter said. “Please form a circle around this lovely, young lady. Join hands. Let nothing touch her.”

Moving to the edge of the stage, The Great Porter gestured mysteriously, and the woman began to rise. With the ring of people around her, there couldn’t have been any wires but, somehow, she was floating. She rose gently, twelve feet in the air, like a leaf falling in reverse. The illusion was perfect, beautiful. Truly, this was a miracle. But then, the audience began to mumble and groan. And then they stood and simply walked out.

Stunned, Porter followed the crowd out the door. “Where are you going?” he cried. “What’s wrong?” But the audience ignored him. Grumbling about the lousy show, they slipped on their helmets, strapped on their jetpacks, and flew off into the night. Porter sighed, exhausted. “Heisenberg was right. It’s a new world out there!”