Boredom tormented his active intelligence while he lay there remembering. So he left the bed and moved towards the window to see what his little portion of the world might be up to. He called it his, even though he wasn’t a part of it. It was the only thing outside of this room he ever saw.

The family had been up here while he slept and had left more of their junk on the floor. As he made his way towards the window, he stumbled over a small plastic castle surrounded by miniature knight-shaped caltrops. He cursed aloud before he could stop himself and froze in panic. Fear of discovery gripped him. After listening intently for a time to be certain the family wasn’t reacting, he breathed a sigh of relief and continued to the window. He desperately longed to be out there exploring the wild chaos on the outside. If only he had the courage to leave the safety of this room. But he knew that would never happen. Therein lay the tragedy of his existence.

Later, he lay in his safe place again. He hid there during the hours when the brightness of the day made everything dim. This was his time of fear, when he curled up in a ball of terror to protect himself from the dangers of the world he couldn’t see. Once, those of his kind ruled and all went in fear of them. But that time had past long ago, and the few who remained hid as he did in otherwise unused corners of reality. Alone and hopeless he waited for the sun to go down, and the fear to lessen somewhat.

Through the floorboards he could hear the family talking below in their brightly lit feeding room. The little one, hardly over a decade old, spoke with such excitement he seemed barely able to contain it. Its parent spoke in a distracted, mildly condescending voice.

“How was your night?” she asked in a habitual way.

“I heard the ghost again mom.”

“Are you sure its a ghost?”

“”Well, maybe it’s a monster or bogyman.”

“Oh,” she said in her half listening voice, “what was he doing?”

“He was bumping around in my room and cursing.”

“Nothing you shouldn’t hear I hope.”

“I couldn’t actually hear what he said. Anyway, I already learned all those words at school.”

“Is that what they teach these days.”

The creature who dwelt under the bed covered his ears with his paws and tried not to listen.


With eyes drained of life, I watched the tub drain suck down the ink blackened water. Much like my imagination, the water had cooled to a tepid disappointment. The soggy remains of my manuscript floated upon the surface. I had cast each page to the waves after reading it, despondent that I had not found the transcendental wisdom within them that I had felt during the writing process. Half a roll of ribbon wasted on virginal sheets undeserving of what I had done to them. Let them be washed clean.

The single bare bulb hanging from a solitary wire cast a light too harsh for the cramped porcelain tiled bathroom. My failure was too plain to see.

The door opened with a soft snick and she stood languidly in the doorway. From where I sat drooped in the tub, my eyes followed those long legs up until they disappeared under her black dress just above her knees. Then came the shapely hips, well presented by the form enhancing snugness of her dress. There was more, but the mocking smile on top of it all just made it a waste.

“Who let you in?” I hastily reached for a towel.

“I come and go as I please. You should know that by now.”

I stood up, dripping and ink stained, doing what I could with the towel for modesty’s sake. My bathrobe hung on the door, but that was too close to her, so I picked up the pants draped across the sink and pulled them over my wet legs. The last of the water gurgled past the sodden mess of paper pulp that had gathered around the tub drain.

“I hope those aren’t my pages,” she said,knowing full well that they were. “I would hate to have to unleash Micky and Bruce just to get things done.” The playful tone failed to hide the menace behind her words.

“I’ve still got time. The deadline is not until midnight.”

“That gives you three hours. And it better be funny this time, or else your Underwood will be looking at a mouthful of broken keys.” She flashed me a malevolent smile and walked out. I didn’t relax until I heard the hotel door close behind her.

I thought of her former clients. They had all had brief meteoric careers, shooting to the top for a glorious moment, then quickly disappearing without any trace other than their typing machine found on some scrap heap.

When Lucy had first walked in to my life I was a hack with nothing but a screenplay representing two years of work. To have an agent of her caliber (.45 as it turned out) represent me was a dream come true. I signed the contract with barely a glance. It was only later I learned that Lucy was short for Lucifer. But never mind that. I only have three hours to write the next episode for “Eight Cats are Enough,” or my contract will be enforced.

Hi Ho, Hi Ho

Gray the sky was for the clouds did hang low shrouding the world in gloom when I set forth ‘ere the breaking of dawn. My errand was urgent and I dared not tarry even for a bite of bread. The alarm had cried out in its urgency that I must away without delay. ‘Twas many a mile I traveled ere I broke my fast. I didst halt upon a moment at the son of Donald’s house, for my need to call upon the jakes was manifestly imminent. Whilst there I acquired the elixir of wakefulness and ate of the empty calories. Progressing then further upon my Journey, I didst enter the great city.

Throughout ages antediluvian, the wild men who lived amongst these hills gathered upon the banks of the river in due season. In idyllic style, they fished its waters and hunted the antelope, dwelling in rude shelters made from the hides of slain beasts.

But no more.

In centuries past, invading hosts wielding seeds and plow swept them away, building constructs of wood, stone, and steel. They opened the way for the following hoards to swarm across the land. Iron bridges were flung across the river. Roadways they built, and verily, they were wide, for horses a score abreast could pass unhindered. Yet, still the swarms overflowed their capacity.

Into this maelstrom didst I enter. Hordes didst throng about me in the Diem’s chariot race of death. Thrice was my flank assailed. Thrice didst I dodge the threat, though it was a near thing each time. Vied we, one with the other, and each alone against all, placing our very lives in deadly peril to steal a moment’s lead from our rivals. My progress was cut off of a sudden by Darrell Du Plumber, whose need for haste manifestly outweighed my own, though his life seemed of much lesser value.

I persevered, employing all my will and dexterity towards forward progress. At last, my goal came in sight; my journey neared its end. Yet, even now my quest was stalled at the very brink of fulfillment. My very brethren stood arrayed against my entrance. Sticks and placards were in their hands. Girt with righteousness, they stood before my vehicle in their ranks.

Deploying the appropriate electronic command, I didst cause my sinister visibility shield to descend. One of these compatriots leaned towards the opening. I addressed him thusly:

“What’s up?”

To which he didst reply, “The union called it. We’re on strike.”

Flashed Fiction

This is my entry for Chuck Wendig’s writing contest using the following five words in a story under 1000 words: figure, dusk, flirt, mobile phone, and wig. In contests like this I try not to use more than four of the five words in the first sentence.

At dusk, the familiar figure in a bad wig appeared once again to flirt with my imagination. She is my muse, and just in time to interrupt my work on chapter two. She speaks in a voice, soft and sultry.

 “The five words for today’s flash fiction contest have just been texted to your mobile phone. Don’t you want to see what you can do with them?”

I sighed. The challenge was difficult to resist. And it certainly stimulated my imagination. But it seems like they were interrupting my novel too much. Six months and I’m still struggling through the second chapter. Yet I’ve managed to produce a flash fiction piece everyday. But no one buys those. I’m lucky to get them posted for free on obscure websites. It was time to demand answers.

Lying is not exactly a muse’s nature. It is more a matter of wrapping the truth up in layers of myth. But if you demand the truth, they have to give it to you.

“Why are these contests so important to you? Wouldn’t it be better for me to finish a significant work like my novel? As my muse, I would think your efforts would be better spent helping me finish that.”

She smiled at me sadly. “Oh, my poor writer. I am a muse, not your muse. Frankly, your writing is crap and I’m doing my best to keep it from happening.”

If My Opinions Were Humble I Wouldn’t Be Giving Them

About writer’s block: all it is is not knowing how to start. I start anywhere and see where it takes me. Writing is habit forming. Once I get going, I just keep going.

I write because I think about things. I am constantly exploring the world around me with my mind, and writing is a way to make these thoughts tangible. It translates them from a passing fancy into a physical product, often crude and ill-formed at first, but capable of refinement. By rewriting and possibly researching these ideas, I am able to get closer to the truth. I gain a better understanding of the universe around me.

To me, fiction is the language of mythology. Mythology is a way of understanding a basic truth without empirical proof. In the New Testament, they were called parables, but they are the same thing. Jesus told a fictional tale to illustrate an underlying truth. I like to think that by constantly trying to understand the world around me and the people who inhabit it, I have gained some wisdom thereby. If I can pass some of this on to others in an entertaining way, then I have become greater than myself. I have become an active participant in this dance we call life.

I’m afraid I got a little sidetracked. What was the question?


As an indie author I have been interviewed for quite a number of periodicals and websites. I have also read quite a few interviews with other authors. Most of these interviews follow a similar script. And while it may be interesting to know how every writer deals with writers’ block and where they get their ideas from, I would like to see some more probing questions. Let’s get below the surface and try to find some deeper truths. After all, isn’t that what good literature is about?

Here are a few examples of the kind of questions I would like to see asked once in a while:
What makes your writing unique from anything else on the market?
What life lessons do you incorporate into your stories and how?
What message are you trying to impart?
How do you hope readers will be enriched by reading your works?
What can you tell us about your writing that will make the readers of this interview go out and buy your books?

Learning about the writing process of authors can be interesting and helpful, but I would like to hear a little about the reason for writing as well.

What about you dear reader? Do you find interviews fascinating and unique or minor variations on a theme? What about blogs? Did this one interest you or is it time for me to get off my high horse and get back to writing real stories?

Join us next time as I interview myself.

The Orphan Hero

The orphan is a popular archetype. It embodies want, need, desperation, but most importantly, someone without any societal value. Once upon a time this meant rags and hunger, and probably an early death unless their innate goodness melted the hearts of some rich buggers who raised the poor little blighter as their own.

In these modern times, starvation isn’t much of an issue. And while the clothes are hand me downs, they usually aren’t actual rags. Those are worn by the children in third world countries who make the clothes. Finding a sense of self worth, however, is every bit as difficult as it always has been. What is the value of someone who nobody loves, who is never hugged, who is not wanted anywhere, who is surplus to requirement? How can such a child find value in himself?

To complicate matters even further, orphans are typically raised apart from what might be considered normal society. There is no family model. All aspects of their daily lives are governed by a school based system. Discipline is of primary importance. Love often doesn’t make the list. Sometimes these orphanages (which are never called that, but rather something like “The Happy Valley Children’s Home1) have their own schools right on the premises which means the orphans never even associate with children who are not themselves orphans. What then are the child’s options?

Rebellion. That is how the orphans soul survives. Oliver is traded in for the Artful Dodger. By rejecting the values of a society that has rejected him, he re-calibrates his self worth to a new paradigm with himself as the model. His importance is increased exponentially. Because he is outside the norm he becomes more important than anyone else. By extrapolation, great things lay in his future. Events will congeal around him. He becomes the hero of the tale. But for every hero, a thousand orphans die in the streets. The truth of Charles Dickens is not found in “A Christmas Carol,” but in “The Old Curiosity Shop.”