Archive for the ‘Short Story’ Category

Snap Sci-Fi: Rejuvenation   3 comments

Credit: 1st edition of John Jakes’ novel The Asylum World (1969)

If ever there were a time for rejuvenation, this was it.

Philippa gazed at herself in the mirror. Twelve years on and she still managed to cling to the hope that her youth was endless. The evidence, reflected before her, proved otherwise.

But something deep within her began to change. She struggled to make sense of it.

A boring ex-wife, doomed to a midlife divorce and a minimum wage job. No hopes, no dreams, no anything. Each day she arose confirming this self-inventory, and every night she struggled to sleep, haunted by her personal truths.

But today, she noticed something not visible: her memory. She recognized the face in the mirror, but not its purpose. Philippa’s hands traced the contours of her cheeks, her neck, even pinching the flesh to examine its authenticity. Nothing. She turned away and walked the interior of her home seeking clues, feeling reassured that her mother’s artwork hung from the walls, last night’s leftovers expected to become today’s lunch, and Sunday’s crossword needed a few more clues to be solved.

What changed?

She opened a small drawer in her nightstand. Crumpled behind the junk that naturally accumulates within it hid a piece of paper. She unfolded it and read it out:

My Testimony

Be it said by me, Philippa Jrzowski, that no longer shall I exist. Instead, my soul will be inhabited by unknowns. My thoughts shall be those of indeterminate usefulness. I shall wrest whatever I can from what ever I become, if for no other reason than to live. And I mean, LIVE.

Enough, thought Philippa, enough. She smoothed out the paper and lay it on the comforter.

She returned to the mirror, gazing hard at the image before her. This time, however, a woman appeared more fierce than before. Philippa reached towards it and clutched its edges, bringing it closer, blurring her focus. She smiled.

“Exactly,” said Philippa. “And now, I mean to do just that.”


Writer’s Blah   Leave a comment


I think we can all agree that life sucks on occasion.

Right now, I’m feeling about as grey as the picture above, my inspiration gone out with the tide. For reasons I won’t go into, once again, I find myself in a situation I hadn’t expected. As Nora Ephram’s mother famously told her, “Everything is copy,” That only works if you can turn that situation into a script.

So far, no dice. I can’t seem to wrest any collection of words from my brain.

Is it writer’s block? Absolutely not. I’d say it’s more like writer’s blah. I just can’t get excited about writing these days. And it’s killing me.

But hey, I’m coming up with some words for this now, aren’t I?

The other day, a writer pal I hadn’t heard from in quite some time dropped me a line. Asked what’s up and all that. Without going into all the boring details, I recited a washed-over summary of the dreariness invading my mental turf.  Gave the Gloomy Gus routine. Then I was set straight. That pal’s father had been killed recently and attached a newspaper article regarding his death.

Words failed me, but this time it was out of shock, sadness for my friend…and perspective.

Pal said the best therapy lies in the ability to wash out the living world and replace it with the fresh canvas a writer creates. It’s a place one easily loses oneself, especially when life’s events spin out of control. Those words are who we choose to be. There’s good company in the characters, even if you’re spinning their plot. They do appreciate it and will reward you with a story, if you stick around long enough.

And it’s not like I haven’t tried. I entered two short stories in a flash fiction contest. I thought they were brilliant. The editors believed otherwise. I didn’t win. But as every writer knows, rejections are a badge of honor. No one’s legit unless they pile up a a moving van’s worth. Receiving those cheered me up some. Now I had something to talk about…but not write.

So this weekend my sister and I planned to sell boxes of ungifted gifts my late mother never seemed to give. That, and the millions of other doodads she felt too compelled to keep over the span of her eighty-four years. We’d do Saturday and Sunday at the busy flea market nearby. Went to bed early and rose to a nasty storm with gale-force winds. The prospect of expecting to sell anything, including the idea of getting dressed and hawking in that misery, evaporated.

My computer often accompanies me, though I don’t always use it. It’s like a security blanket, ready, willing and able to help me get on with my writing, should I be up for the mission. My sister knew those typing fingers of mine seemed stuck in neutral, unable to rev up to speed. Over breakfast, as she dug into her oatmeal, she said between munches, “Why don’t you write today? Can’t do much of anything else. Too miserable.”

Oh, sounds so pleasing, so simple, so…so…oh, what’s the word again?

I opened the laptop and scanned the pages of my second novel that’s well in the works. Been so long, though, since I mustered up the strength to write I pretty much forgot half the plot. Once I got into it, though, the characters shook off their dust, revived their motives and jumped back into action. Pretty soon, I changed a word here, tightened up a sentence there, and before you know it, I ended up at the end…of where I left off. The wind lashed at the window and howled like crazy, but none of that distracted me. I managed to squeeze out at least four good pages before dinner.

At the crack of black undawn, my sister and I threw ourselves into the car and headed out to the flea market. The storm passed, so we headed out. Managed to wrestle two splintered grey tables (just like my moods of late) and set up shop. A parade of plot lines passed by, any one of them the makings for good stories. Even the guy next to us told good copy. If nothing else, flea markets are fodder for inspiration. Literally one of everything strolls down the lanes. Between 7:30 – 8:30 am, a Native American chatted to the person’s table across from us, a corpulent sixty-ish woman with stringy long auburn hair and stars tattooed to her browline remarked over a crucifix we had for sale, a Jimi Hendrix lookalike wandered over with his entourage of equally interesting partners, several dogs in baby strollers pushed by “parents,” and a persistent Chinese woman insisting on paying $1 for a lead crystal vase selling for $10 (she didn’t get it). And more, of course, but you get the idea.

When I came home, I sat and opened my computer, intending to pick up where I left off. For some odd reason, none of the four pages I wrote saved. I dropped my head in my hands, cursing. I sighed, shook my head and laughed. Typical.

Once more, I began to write. And this time, it was good.

Gone – Flash Sci-Fi   Leave a comment



I struggle to find the words as my chilled body shakes.


Hardly a whisper filters through these naked trees, unless one counts the soft murmur of the rill snaking along the rocks. Yet I find myself beaten and stabbed, alone here, but not without reason or purpose.

If only I hadn’t.

Funny, now, how a small attempt at pleasure erupted into violence. She neither presented no indication nor imparted any suspicion of her true nature. Yet I submitted myself to her attentions. A flirt, a taste, a wisp was all it took.

And now, look at me.

Of course, I’m less than innocent. I knew what I wanted. How to get it. Didn’t take much. All I needed was the will. All else’d follow. I heard the siren call, the claim of fulfillment, no judgment, only satisfaction.


I’d never known such happiness. Beauty. The world and all its charms. I had it all solved, all squared, done up in a bow and sealed with a kiss. Power and glory, all mine for real.


Until it wasn’t, and by that I mean there’s a price for all that goodness. Gets steeper by the week, day, minute. Doesn’t take long to discover the beauty you had’s now the the demon you dread.


Got to conquer the beast. Can’t let it get into my head. But wait. No, I said now. Can’t. Oh yes you can. You will. And if you can’t, then get gone.


So I watched, bided my time. Dove in the cold water, expecting to swim. Discovered it’s easier to drown. Over my head in a flash. Two counted my days until they ran out.

And done.

That short journey took forever. Still, my hopeful self denied it’d ever happen. If the flesh didn’t do it, then certainly the steel’s finishing the job. My time is over, folks. The chilled air’s getting thin, and the light of day’s faded.


Owen McQueen – Flash Sci-Fi   Leave a comment



My name is Owen McQueen, and I have the vast fortune to be poor. Dreadfully poor.

You see, it is my fate to have been born with an affliction that renders me useless in most forms of employ. Some call me idiot, insane. My shape is round, my eyes appear half-awake, my speech childlike, at best.

But my mind! Thoughts so rich and rewarding, trapped in a doomed cell from which escape is hopeless. Yet its optimism never eases. Even as I gaze at the mother who pulls her child to her breast as she passes before me, I smile. For my hope is not lost, merely tucked in a safe place, for that time when I dare retrieve it.

I hear the auctioneer speak my name. Folks gather around me, curious. One reaches over the chain to touch my vest as if to examine the fabric’s wear. Another notices several holes in my stockings and frowns. Two men stare at my face. “The devil surely rejected this one,” I hear. To this I laugh, causing the pair to recoil in surprise.

How did I come to be in such a position at this station of my life? For as long as God had placed me upon this Earth, I’ve been the ward of the Overseer. His duties of office require him to auction not only myself, but others who find themselves in this wretched state. Though fault of soul or circumstance, we chosen few are placed in his control.

Every April, paupers such as us are required to report to the Overseer, who then assesses our condition. He makes note of our general health, the condition of what few articles of clothing we possess, and anything else of note, such as lameness. A scribe carefully records these observations, as well as the value of our upkeep. We are then told to clean ourselves as though we were to attend Sunday services. If we present well, two slices of black bread and a slab of cheese are given us as a reward.

“Owen McQueen is a loyal soul, hardworking and docile. His clothing is in good repair. He’ll give you no trouble and the cost of his keep is merely four pounds per year,” said the auctioneer. “Who’ll take him?”

At first, no one answers his call. I show the crowd a hopeful face.

“Certainly someone treasures a bargain. There are none today cheaper,” offers the auctioneer.

“I’ll take him,” says a man with a grey beard. “He’s bound to be of use to an old man.”

The Overseer takes the money from grey-bearded man and I’m given a push towards him. I expect nothing. After 50 years of Aprils, each one spent at auction, my life has never been my own, and as a pauper, it never will.





The Stone Wall – A Short Attention Span Sci-Fi Story   1 comment


It was generally considered good form by the people of the village to engage in proper manners, especially in public. Therefore, when Mrs. Cottilard accidentally trod upon Mrs. Heflig’s front garden lavender, she made it a point to walk the winding slate path to her front door, knock twice, and apologize.

“I’m quite sorry,” Mrs. Cottilard said to Mrs. Heflig, “but it seems I lost my footing on the way to the grocer’s and stepped on the lavender blooms. They appear quite crushed, but this happened without malice. I merely tripped and could not catch myself in time to stop. If I could erase the harm I caused to your garden, I will.” Her humble glance underscored her sincerity in the matter.

“Of course I forgive you,” said Mrs. Heflig. “After all, it was me who neglected to wish you a happy birthday last October.”

“True,” said Mrs. Cottilard. “And we are dear, dear friends.”

For this transgression, however innocent, her gesture was considered, duly noted…and forgiven.

On those occasions upon which a person committed an act that might cause offense, and did not offer either an apology or restitution, one was compelled to find a stone proportionate with the size of the offense. The offender would then inscribe the act on it and place upon the Great Girthing Wall, a long stone wall that ran the perimeter of the village. No name was required, but this offered a venue for admission without guilt.

After many years, the stone wall grew long and high. Activity varied. Of course, it depended upon workplace issues, marital happiness, friendships, good grades in school, heath, security and general welfare. During times of strife, the wall tended to grow at a rapid pace. When all went well, fewer stones contributed to the wall’s girth. It seemed a fine solution for those experiencing difficulties speaking their mind and clearing the air. At least one could come clean with his or her troubles and sins, and no one would be the wiser.

Of course, many were able to determine by the size of the rock and the freshness of the paint who did what to whom. Yet no one ever accused anybody of anything. Better to carry the pain than to make a clean breast of it.

So it came to be that on a Wednesday morning, well before dawn, Mr. West strolled out of his house and selected a rock. Round, grey, with a touch of lichen, he squatted down to lift it from its resting place near the swamp.

“This will suit me,” he said. “I upset someone close to me, but not sure exactly how I did it. I can tell they’re not happy. Perhaps they’ll see this rock. They’ll see it’s become a weight on my soul. Apart from that, what can I do?”

So he picked up the rock to tote it to the Great Girthing Wall surrounding the village. His arms grew weary. His fingers grew numb. Still, he traveled a good distance but noticed no wall.

“Surely I’ve been walking in the right direction,” he said, dropping the stone to rest his weary limbs. “Where did it go? Perhaps in the darkness I’ve lost my way. I’ll wait until the first rays break the darkness. Then I’ll see it.”

Before long, several rosy beams reached above the horizon, illuminating the sky. Mr. West smiled, relieved. “That wall ought to be very close,” he said.

It wasn’t.

Without warning, Mr. West felt his legs give way beneath him. The earth had disappeared and it was only at the last moment he caught himself from tumbling into the long, circular crevasse that replaced the spot where the Great Girthing Wall had formerly stood.

Several minutes passed as he caught his breath and collected his senses. His legs dangled over the edges as a few bits of earth crumbled into it. “My God,” he said, “Where did it disappear to? How can it simply vanish?”

An old crone bearing a rock soon came close and inspected the place where the Great Girthing Wall once ringed the village. “I see it finally happened,” said she.

“What?” said Mr. West

“Somebody admitted the truth.”

“What do you mean? People do that every day,” said Mr. West.

The old crone let out a crooked laugh. “How do you think the Great Girthing Wall came to be? Those rocks – all here to take away the guilt, shame or even intention of offenses. All lies and excuses, growing heavier with each passing day.”

“Yes, but that’s the wall’s intention,” Mr. West said.

“That wall held us prisoner,” said the old crone. “Now at last, we’ve been set free.”

Posted September 9, 2016 by seleneymoon in Sci-Fi, Short Story, Writing

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The Prediction – A Short Attention Span Sci-Fi Story   Leave a comment

Cloud 2


I gazed at the mirror and saw only clouds.

That morning, a late August Monday, seemed perfect from the start. A light fog grazed the valley, but soon dissipated after the the sun’s rays reached over the low hills. As usual, I threw on my robe and went outside, plucking the newspaper from the edge of the driveway. As was my custom, I opened it to its centerfold, usually the section where the comics and the horoscopes could be found.

For some, placing the horoscopes next to Calvin and Hobbes made perfect sense. Hobbes came to life because Calvin believed in him. My horoscope might have come true, if I put enough faith in it. Since I trust logic over lunacy, I never believed in those predictions, nor understood how anyone could. Aren’t we supposed to be the leaders of our own destiny? We, as humans, have choices. And while we can become victims of circumstance, our decisions, not the random words of a stranger, should govern our lives.

Still, the temptation to read Aquarius that morning was strong. My gaze shifted to the one-star rating it listed for that Monday. Ah well, it’s the start of a new workweek…why should it be glowing and cheerful? I thought. It said,

Elusive illusions obscure your ability to remonstrate. Proceed with circumspection.

Heh? I’d have to break out a dictionary before I’d be able to figure that one out. No wonder these things aren’t worth the newspaper they’re printed on. I closed up the paper and went in my house, dropping the paper on the kitchen table.

I jumped in the shower, steamy and hot. As the soapy water slithered down my flesh, my thoughts drifted to the ridiculous horoscope. Isn’t an illusion obscure and elusive by nature? How do you argue with something that’s not there? Be wary of proceeding…with what?

That’s when I pulled open the shower door and noticed the bathroom mirror clouded over. Sure, steam’ll do that. I glanced out the window but it, too, had fogged over. I wiped the window with my damp towel and noticed the odd curls the clouds formed in the sky, sort of like my hair on a humid day. By now, the fog had cleared in the bathroom and I saw my face in the mirror.

As much as I wanted to believe I’d never age, the grey at the temples, the crow’s feet near my eyes, the little sag under the chin – I never much noticed them. Until now.

And then it hit me.

The horoscope was completely accurate.

I’m aging, I can’t argue that, and if life mattered to me, I’d better look out.

Because if I don’t, I’m going to lose it in the fog. And like the curled cloud, I’ll fade.

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