Never the Bride

There he stands, by the preacher, oceanside. Immaculate tuxedo and perfect blond hair glowing with sunlight.

White dress. White gloves. Lanolin smooth skin. Her cherry lips quiver. Today they would tie the knot on the shores of this island paradise. My revenge on her will be black as its sands, treacherous as its tides.

How green his eyes! Like the hills of the Emerald Isle. We were so young and innocent, he and I. Together we kindled a flame that burns my heart like the devil’s brand.

Struggle all you want; the knot won’t come untied. No one can hear you. A shame to stain red such a lovely dress, but honey, you can’t have him. He’s mine.

Written for Flash! Friday vol. 3-45, whose theme was Moby Dick. This story is set on an island, and includes an overall theme of revenge. Image is Naufragos/Shipwrecked. CC2.0 photo by Luis Marina.

Snow White and Red All Over

Once upon a time, I had it all. My parents were royalty: their kingdom was great, and I was their world. Then an evil witch cursed them, and they died. That alone was insufficient for her, so she cursed me, too. I felt my life spiraling into tragedy, until my Prince Charming found me.

He still calls me “Snow White”. When he found me, he says, he had never seen skin so white, nor lips so red as mine. Not to mention my long, flowing mane of dark hair.

This, our wedding day, is our one-month anniversary. It was a fairy tale wedding. That evil witch stared down from the tower dungeon, powerless. The King and Queen were so happy to see their Prince Charming settle down. His frequent hunting expeditions into the forest delighted the nobles, but terrified his parents.

Now I wait for new husband in our royal bedchamber. As I brush my hair, the mirror catches the reflection of two wolf-pelts hung on the wall. The brilliant light of the full moon shines through the castle window. I hear Prince Charming entering the room.

Part of me knows it wasn’t his fault. He never knew those two wolves were my parents. Another part of me, a snarling canine force within, cries out for vengeance. My prince embraces me. I wrap my arms around him and know what is to come.

My fangs elongate. My fur grows out. I let loose a primal howl at the man who killed my parents while they were under the witch’s curse. Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf?

A second story for Flash! Friday vol. 3-40, where the prompt was Grimms’ Fairy Tales. This one was rushed in before the deadline and a little disorganized. (Also, I think I mixed up Snow White and Sleeping Beauty — inexcusable for someone with two young daughters!)

Image is still Three Sisters (Die drei Schwester). Public domain in the U.S.; artwork by Alexander Zick (1845-1907).

The Curse of the Manor

Ghosts danced across the stone walls: red spectres cast from the crackling fireplace. Dr. Aldous Haskell, retired, gripped the syringe shakily. “Mnemoline,” he verified the drug label. “What dosage?”

“Two milliliters, intravenous,” his robodoc replied dispassionately.

The aged doctor sighed heavily as the drug entered his vein. “My apologies, James,” he suddenly remembered his visitor. “I find I’ve developed a tolerance for mnemoline. I need more and more.”

“Is this healthy, Aldous?” asked the man sitting in the plush armchair, half in shadow.

“In controlled doses, it keeps my mind sharp,” Haskell reassured. “I need be cautious, though. Too much causes vivid hallucinations, even death. Too little, and the curse may claim me.”


“The curse of the manor, my friend. Every inheritor has died within a fortnight of entering these walls.”

“Indeed? Then why stay? This curse does not frighten you?”

“It terrifies me, old friend.” Haskell quickly glanced over his shoulder. “But imagine. What force could be behind this superstition?”

The robodoc stuttered. “I am not programmed with that data. My role is medical diagnosis and–”

“Quiet, you obsolescent pile of memristors,” Haskell snapped at the device. “I wasn’t talking to you!” Dr. Haskell turned again toward his friend, but found the armchair empty. “James? Where did you go?”

The robodoc spoke again. “Dr. James Bunbury died on your operating table, Doctor. Five years ago.”

Dr. Aldous Haskell, retired, stared at the empty syringe in his hand. The curse of the manor had perpetuated itself once more.

A “Hound of the Baskervilles” inspired story written for Flash! Friday vol. 3-35. Photo prompt is Lyme Park House & Estate. CC2.0 photo by Purpura Mare Asinus.

Matinee of Torment at the Theater of Lamech

Written for Flash! Friday vol. 3-27. The mandatory setting was a theater, along with the public domain photo shown.

“We lit up Tinseltown onscreen and off.” Humphrey hefted the body over the bridge railing. A blood-covered hand wiped a tear from bloodshot eyes. “Alas, you were the better acting talent. I never suspected.” His wife’s paramour, that B-movie ham, made his final splash in Hollywood moments later.

As Humphrey drove back to town, the theater marquee caught his eye: a matinee of their final movie together. One ticket. One popcorn. One soda. As the lights dimmed, Humphrey’s pupils widened. His murdered Delilah loomed larger than life on the silver screen. He knew the words by heart — his and hers — but something was amiss. This soundtrack was too ominous for a romance.

Humphrey gripped his armrest and watched in horror as his character crept down a hallway. “This wasn’t in the script,” Humphrey muttered. A woman in the audience shot him an icy glare. His heartbeat raced like the soundtrack. The bedroom door creaked open. Within, telltale giggles turned to shrieks. In extreme close-up, Delilah’s face closed in around Humphrey, pleading for her life.

“Don’t do it, Humphrey!” Popcorn flew at the screen. A brutal murder scene flashed in his eyes. “No!” Delilah’s anguished screams resounded throughout the theater — but why did the audience stare at him?


Written for Warmup Wednesday. (PD photo by Skitterphoto.)

My song is meant for only one. Faceless tourists pass, preoccupied with sights, not sounds.

Drawn by my melodic tones (or hourglass figure), he cannot help but linger. My fingers dance upon the strings: he dances unselfconscious to the mellifluous melody. He chances to ask my name, prattling as a schoolboy to his crush. Hand in hand, we twirl, dizzy with anticipation, drunk on music, we laugh and spin ever upward — excelsior! — in a breathless bellaroundaballadine… then collapse (he, never to rise again).

Black widow-like, I weave my melody. My song is meant for only one.

A Ritual at Nighttide

Another Warmup Wednesday! This time, the prompt is to end with the word peace, along with this image.

Not far from the glimmering coastline of humanity, I and my partner stood stationed at the ship’s bow. Though outwardly confident, a glance at the dark churning waters of the harbor made me hesitate. What unseen horrors might lurk in our future?

The stars were in alignment. Candles flickered. The cleric, in ritual vestments, opened the aged tome in which was written the text of the rite. I stood fixated next to my partner. The man in black recited the ancient words. Sweat beaded on my brow: for here approached the crucial phrase.

“…speak now, or forever hold your peace.”

Black and White Winter

Written for Flash! Friday vol. 2-46. The prompt is bankruptcy, along with the photo prompt shown.

Title: Mr. Hydrick, county supervisor, and Mr. Melody Tillery examining mouth and teeth of his mare, which has mule colt. Pike County, near Tray, Alabama. Public domain photo by Marion Post Walcott.

All of us at the H-Bar Stables were riding high until that Thursday. Even now, I don’t know how much money the stables lost. Some of the Wall Street suits back east leapt from their office windows. Our accountant was less dramatic, but when the East River swept his car away, all our financial records went with him.

For a while, I tried to keep up appearances: a lot of men work the stables, and most have mouths to feed back home. Every morning, I’d trot Mister Tillery out around the grounds for the usual dog and pony show: grooming, exercise, and such.

As the frigid winter set in, though, I found the cupboard increasingly bare. Water soup and hardtack crumbs only stretch so far. It was a bitter December morning, with the wind blowing through my dark coat, that I knew I had to sacrifice Mister Tillery.

He was a good trainer, but we horses have to eat.

Grave Robber’s Sea


Written for Chuck Wendig’s Random Title challenge. The randomly-generated title of this story is, of course, “Grave Robber’s Sea”.

Warning: This story may contain disturbing imagery of death, zombies, gore, and other horrific stuff, and is not suitable for anyone. Reader discretion is advised.

Though she knew he was coming, Aimee shrieked as the serial killer burst out from behind the half-rotted pine log. A blade slashed past her face. She turned away instinctively, knowing what came next. Jack plunged the hunting knife into his victim’s abdomen.

The grip on Aimee’s wrist weakened. She fell to the muddy earth, sobbing. She turned away from Jack and his latest kill, trying to ignore the sounds and smells of blood and viscera spilling out of what had recently been a policeman, onto the swampy ground.

“This is how you do it,” said Jack. “No hesitation, no mercy. Just nature.” She heard his knife strike bone; ribs, she knew. “Aimee Dyer, are you paying attention?”
Continue reading “Grave Robber’s Sea”

Standing before the Public Thing

A submission for Flash Friday volume 2-7. (This story got an honorable mention.)

Wind moaned through the empty streets. City plaza stood empty, except for the two newcomers — and her. She was an imposing figure, chiseled in stone in an era past.

“Why are we here?” asked Walker. “Who was she?”

Zed stood unfazed by the blustery winter wind despite his tattered jacket and threadbare clothing.

“She was a goddess. Or… a memorial to greatness.” Zed surveyed the empty ruins of the city. “These people obsessed over greatness. Believed in manifest destiny. Aspired to do great things. They never understood… their fate was the same as everything else. Simply, their only destiny was to die.”

The duo admired the towering goddess: her stoic face, gilded robe, and crumbling beauty. Zed scratched the peeling skin behind his neck, then grinned.

“Everything dies. In a way, we are Destiny incarnate.”

Walker laughed. “The Undead Republic.”

“Come,” Zed patted Walker’s bony shoulder. “Let’s find something to eat.”