Posts Tagged With: Master Class



I had just come to expect that my life would be ordinary when extraordinary things began to happen.

The day was overcast, but more gilded than washed out, a huge cloud cover with a visible ending that allowed a tiny yellow yoke drop of the sun to peek out from underneath it. That there is enough heat and solar flair in such a small sliver of sun, the size of the bottom of a child’s version of a cartoon boat, makes the fundamental into the fantastic.

There was static in the air, a tingly dance that sent my arm hairs to attention and made the back of my neck itch like the phantom of a former love was breathing heavily beside my ear. I turned the radio up and tried to funnel the energy into my lungs instead of my fingers because they were shaking as I tried to hit my cigarette and it was weird to watch and I worried I would shake out of my skin. I sang along to every damn song that played, I belted and bellowed and wiggled my ass against the seat, musically inclined primal scream therapy. It helped a little bit, except that it made my vocal volume control knobs a little wonky for the rest of the morning and I had to watch or I’d holler instead of talk and bark in lieu of laughter.

I found myself in a Wonderland of humanity as I walked through the garishly lit aisles of the supreme superstore, harsh fluorescent lighting that usually makes everyone seem like a sallow-skin covered rattly skeleton jerking along on broken strings, somehow illuminated them instead. From the inside out burst this shocking white glare that should’ve had me covering my eyes and ducking from the mushroom cloud, but instead I was basking in the brilliance and smiling into strangers faces.

The mundane had transformed into the miraculous, enlivened enlightened invigorated and energized. Follicles became individuals and the individuals a whole.


This is my free flow re-entry into the Master Class prompt. I was reading a favorite passage in On the Road and figured I would pull an amateurish Kerouac- write till I had to think about it, then I, this, was done. So it’s done 🙂

Hop over and join the Master Class, and/or go read the other entries linked up. It’s quality writing by quality people, and it’s always interesting. This week’s challenge was to use the line chosen by last week’s winner as the first line of your story.

Categories: Fiction | Tags: , , , | 9 Comments

Some Fight Left In Me

It was only a duck pond, at the back of the farm.

There was no significance to it, no dedicated bench with a quote about nature and intransient life burned into the wood-work. No special memory bank sparked to life in the mind of myself or my abductor; it was only a duck pond, at the end of a lane, far-winding behind an abandoned farm; it was nowhere, just a thing that existed.

I watched the uncut grass wave as we drove through, heard the soft scraping against the door of the truck as the rutted road curled around the property.

I quietly and insistently continued to flex and slide my wrists and forearms together, gently trying to release the tacky inside of the duct tape from my skin, even if the bondage of it still held strong.

I was making better headway with the cuff around my ankles. About a half an hour earlier I’d made it known that my bladder was at full capacity, so it wasn’t out of character to be squirming around, trying to cross and uncross my legs.

He’d made two mistakes so far, to my way of thinking. First, he’d bound my hands in front of me instead of behind, leaving me a far greater range of motion to inflict some kind of damage. Second, he’d neglected to remove my socks before wrapping my ankles. The littlest bottom edge of the tape had adhered to cotton fibers instead of skin and so was already loosening up.

So the squirming was allowed, and I think was even offering a modicum of amusement to the smelly lanky stranger a few feet away from me on the bench seat of the old pick up. I didn’t mouth off any more. That got me nothing but a back hand that hurt like a sonuvabitch and had my left eye swelling almost shut. I decided being able to see would be more beneficial than being an asshole, although not nearly as satisfying.

‘So, hopefully you can already see what your problem is,’ he stated, apropos of nothing, conversational, as if we’d been in polite debate this whole time.

‘The light of your desire to live just isn’t as strong as the light of my desire to kill you. You’re just sitting there, trying not to piss in your pretty pants. A couple smacks to the face and hope fled your eyes like drowning rats bailing on a sinking ship.’ He shrugged, slanted a sideways glance at me without turning his head, the smirk in them a palpable thing, parasites crawling over my puffy skin and trying to smarm their way into my brain.

Coldly, efficiently, my mind dismissed and repelled. This creature isn’t even human and has no place in the grand scheme of my life.

He curled the wheel to the left as we reached the sandy bank of the pond, little poofs of grit and dirt spraying up as he tapped the brakes and nudged the gearshift to park. He tipped an imaginary hat at me, all gentleman courtesy.

‘Now ma’am,’ an exaggerated drawl, the third such accented affectation he’d put on so far, ‘I reckon I’m just gonna come around and open your door for you, slide you right on out. Don’t look like you’ve got much fight left in you, but I don’t think I need remind you what happens if you try anything.’

He reached over and, grinning, tapped me right on the bridge of the nose I figured might be broken. Pain zinged through my face, but I kept it locked in a blank stare, nothing to see here folks, this girl is gone daddy gone.

As soon as he opened his door and swung around to get out, I pointed my toes down like a ballet dancer and scissored my legs, a swimmer striving for the far away surface and a deep breath. I caught a glimpse of his face in the rear view mirror as he rounded the truck bed. I strained and tugged and dug for every connected muscle in my thighs and hips to stretch my legs as far apart as they would go. A denim jacket clad arm was reaching for the door handle when I jerked up with one last vicious screaming effort, and my right foot pulled free and shot up with enough force to almost smash my knee into my chin.

I cocked the leg back and pistoned it forward, into the car door that was just starting to open, catching Mr. Tex Mex Murderface full on in the chest and face. I laughed wildly as he flailed and stumbled backwards, launching myself out of the car with no thought but to disarm and disable, systematically stomping my heel onto kneecap, groin, throat.

I stood a moment to catch my breath. I wasn’t really winded, but he was. He lay there, awkwardly scrabbling to crabwalk, gasping and choking, mumbling curses. His eyes fired with a combustible mixture of hatred and rage, a controlled fury looking for an opening, wanting to hurt me, to break me and finish his nasty business his way. What I didn’t see, yet, was the silverfish of fear swimming upstream. So I smiled, stretched the feral grin of the lion in the arena facing the unarmed slave across my face, assured victory.

‘Resourceful little bitch,’ he wheezed. Still mostly assuming he’d pull the Hail Mary for the win, but a touch of false bravado was sneaking in around the strained edges.

I skipped forward a step and brought my heel down again, once, twice, three times on his left kneecap. I felt it shift under my foot on the last shot in a way that shouldn’t be possible and felt comfortable that he wasn’t going anywhere on two legs. There was an animal snuffling escaping through his fleshy lips now, along with frothy little bubbles of spit. I leaned over until my face was right in front of his, til his heated and confused gaze locked on mine.

‘You were looking for the wrong light, Hoss,’ I told him, tapping my temple. ‘I wasn’t looking for hope. I was looking for opportunity.’

Categories: Fiction | Tags: , , | 10 Comments

Free Flow Fiction


I remember the day that the romance began. I usually see animals before I see people, and I usually see kids before I see grown ups. Don’t have much use for most adults. They hit a certain point and decide that grown up means they’ve got no more need for growth. I sensed the stirrings, faint but unmistakable, of an afternoon love.

He was a pudge ball of fur and wrinkles, ugly as only a cross bred mutt can be. His smooshed up nose came right up against my bare arm while I was sleeping. I snorted and started, scraping my back on the brick wall I was leaning against, and opened my eyes only to see his shiny happy brown ones an inch from them.

Warm dog breath panted against my whiskered chin, and a fat lazy tongue lolled out and over a severe underbite. I grinned a gummy eyed smile and lazily gave the brute some scrubbies behind his ear.

‘I’m really sorry sir,’ began a musical voice about four feet higher than my usual line of sight. ‘Bunny was pretty insistent that he wanted to say hello.’

Bunny. Bunny? Breaking my self imposed rule of not making eye contact with anyone who didn’t sleep on the street, I glanced up. And up. Glamazon here had to hit around six foot, with another foot for the poofy curls that bounced around her head.

I shaded my eyes against the lowering sun behind her. ‘Why in the hell is this dog’s name Bunny?’ At the mention of his name, the dog butted his thick skull against my hand and made happy, thick-sounding dog noises. It made me laugh, a rusty sound I’d kind of missed hearing.

Glamazon Barbie laughed, too. ‘He’s a rescue, they said they had no idea what his name was, since he was abandoned there? My husband didn’t really understand why I wanted such an ugly little monkey, so we named him Bunny. Cause they’re cute. Like when they call a big guy Little John?’

His stubby legs were jigging in a paroxysm of doggie delight, what with his name being thrown all around and the two hands I was now using to scratch his head. How could you not love this idiot?

‘He’s the happiest guy, really’, she continued. ‘Just dumb and happy to be alive.’ She smiled.

As I looked up at her, I was struck by an unusual realization. She was being genuine. She wasn’t some do-gooder earning karma points by talking to the homeless guy. She wasn’t acting normal while she felt uncomfortable inside. She just followed her dumb happy dog on his dumb happy path, and seemed to let her judgment ride with Bunny’s.

I reached up, held out a hand. Without hesitation she clasped it, shook, and introduced herself as Marlena.

‘Will,’ I provided, and released her hand. ‘I’m around here most afternoons, so if you go out for a walk around here again I wouldn’t mind saying hello every once in a while. I like your dog, he’s got good taste.’

She laughed. ‘You can be sure. It was nice to have met you, Will.’ She tugged on Bunny’s leash, and after a last ear flapping rub, he trotted after her with all the grace of a drunken hippopotamus.

I leaned back against the wall again, and let my eyes drift shut.

* * * * *
I’ve been out of the Master Class game for a while, writing in general too actually. Life, work, busted laptop blah blah blah. Writers gotta write, so none of those things are an excuse. So here’s me, trying to get back in the saddle, typing this whole thing out on my phone 🙂

The inestimable Troy www.aslongasimsinging.wordpress.comwas chosen as the premiere student in the last class and came up with a line from The Christmas Story, in bold above. The sentence had to be used in the fifth place and neither begin nor end the story.

Check out the other submissions at Prof Sam’s place

Categories: Fiction | Tags: , , , | 8 Comments



She was in a middling sized valley sitting on the bank of a river that was really more of a trickling stream. The sun bounced rays with abandon, off of amber lenses and scabby knees.

“I’m so pale,” she murmured. “I’m porcelain.”

She took off her glasses and squinted at the white hot sky, vaguely wondering if it was already on its way.

She looked back down at her naked self, dusted a palm down a long white leg. Fine fissures appeared, running from ankle to calf. She beamed at the trees. “I’m coming undone,” she told them proudly. The breeze blew, scooped up a leaf on a lazy draft and kissed her rounded cheek with its edges.

The tiny lips of flesh that were peeling back seeped a golden incandescence that drew glyphs on her body that she couldn’t decipher. It was a tale from a time before words were needed to tell a story; what leaked from her now was pure, and it was ecstasy.

The fissures played a merry game of chase across the expanse of nerve endings that had been her skin, was still her skin, but cracking open and sloughing off to the ground around her. She was a hatchling, her body the egg broken out of, useful but no longer necessary.

Something was staying behind to shape itself into a new figure altogether. Maybe this one will have wings, she laughed. The noise dripped into the air like liquid, stretched out and elongated, a melted candlewax of sound.

She slid, glided and schmoozed her way toward the water, a whirling dervish not quite in control of her dervish. Idly she wondered what life might be like as water nymph.


The soundtrack to this short story is Skrillex, because nothing is more life affirming than music that makes you want to move.

There was a moment of inspiration in the comments section of a favorite blog yesterday. The author isn’t having the best of times at the moment, and the commenter left a really thoughtful and insightful comment that ended with the question: “What color are your wings?” For some reason it really stuck with me.

I got to pick the Master Class prompt line this week, as I obviously bribed the teacher or she’s just a silly bugger, so I went with Clive Barker’s The Great and Secret Show: She took off her glasses and squinted at the white hot sky, vaguely wondering if it was already on its way. The prompt had to be used in the middle of the story this week, which was tricky but worked okay for me because my paragraphs are short as shit.

If there is anybody who happens to read this that isn’t already playing and wanted to jump in on the Master Class game, it really is a blast. Each week a different line from a different place in a different novel is picked by a different person to use in a different way. Just go check out SAM at, we would love to have you.

Categories: Fiction | Tags: , , , | 13 Comments

Not Enough Me

Storch-Badge-MasterA story for Master Class that is more disjointed than usual…


“But it’s not enough,” I whisper. My fingers twist together, twining and untwining like restless snakes, held before my heart. I feel its thud, too heavy, squeezing in all the beats skipped in the past; it is a pulse point the size of a planet.

“When the dreamer wakes, the dream is not done it is undone. That’s all I remember.”

His watery blue shrink eyes try to bore over the tips of studiously steepled hands held in front of his chin but fail to hit their mark. It is a look that speaks of being practiced in a mirror: this should be your super serious face.

I arch an eyebrow back at him, a look that I freely admit to having practiced in a mirror. Silence does not make me feel awkward or prone to chatter. Silence is my default setting. I’d often wished that I had a mind with a criminal bent, simply to test my demeanor against their interrogation. There’s still some time, I suppose.

After a pointless minute of this strange stare off, he clears his throat and adjusts his bony ass on the leather chair with a whisking sound that makes me flinch. Wings, silky wings and gossamer wings and broken dirty and decaying wings, beating around my face, floating my hair in a nimbus of static. I flinch and stand abruptly.

“I’m going to leave now,” I begin, holding up my hand when he makes as if to speak. “This isn’t a break up, there’s no give and take, so please just shhh.” I hadn’t brought anything up here with me and I head for the door unhindered, unencumbered. I don’t want to tell this man anymore about my dream.

As I close the door behind me I hear him start to speak. “Well, what the fuck…” The door clicks, coolness and blessed silence on the other side, finally alone, finally enough oxygen so I do not have to share my deep breath.

Down to the sidewalk, cross the street, my car barely squeaked in before a No Parking sign standing sentry of nothing but an expanse of concrete curb. I tilt my head up, let the afternoon sun beat a staccato tattoo of warmth against my eyelids, let the sweat drip down my back unheeded.

The icy breath of the dream that was not a dream, the dream that is not yet undone, gusts around me, billowing linen pant legs out like little parachutes. My eyes are open wider than they’ve ever been and still sight escapes me, the world of heat and sun, the world where my hand clamps on my door handle, an anchor for my feet, my reality.

The man had come to me while I slept. It was a good sleep, a deep sleep, the sleep where you wake in the exact same position with a little puddle of drool on your pillow because your body has given itself over completely to its own natural machinations and you wake feeling like someone slipped you a Xanax in the night. Blasphemous, to intrude on this type of sleep.

He whispered in my head. He whispered that he had things to show me, and asked did I want to see. I want to see all there is to see, and how could I not? The whispers turned into skitters that reached groping fingers and I was enveloped in the dream.

I had thought it just a dream and while the dangers of dreams are well known I had counted on my thorny and threatening roving gang of thoughts to keep me safe from intruders.

He insisted. He cajoled. Against my wishes, he delivered his messages and he showed me what he wanted to show me. He showed me all of it, the end of it. The end of me. And there isn’t enough time. There isn’t enough me.


For this weeks Master Class, Professor SAM ( chose Tara to head up our class because she wrote a piece about a father taking justice into his own hands that delivered a punch to the gut (  Tara chose Christopher Moore’s Lamb for her prompt this week:

That’s all I remember.

Categories: Fiction | Tags: , , , , | 8 Comments

The Marauders

A Master Class tale….

Dunkirk had been overrun in the night.  The Marauders wore masks; some said it was to hide their lack of humanity, but he figured it was because the stench they left in their wake was so foul that even they at their animal best could not stand to marinate in it.

Jensen didn’t wear a mask.  The others, huddled in the corner and scrunched into tiny balls of quivering skin and watering eyes, had wrapped whatever they could find around their noses, their mouths.  He breathed in the death, the burning flesh and singed hair, opened his ears wide to the screams and the pleas, the grating laughter and raucous cat calls that erupted in the night around them.

You cannot overcome an enemy that you will not face.  You cannot triumph over an evil that you refuse to comprehend.

He sighed, and locked away the corner of himself that wanted to weep for the rest of his days, the weak willed human side that wanted to quiver to jelly with the rest of them.  He wasn’t even sure how he had ended up with this gaggle of geese traipsing after him; he certainly hadn’t intended to gather a flock as he had sped, hunched over and silent as a hunting cat, behind the Marauder’s line of fire and into the basement of a gutted house on the outskirts of town.

Yet here they were. Four men and three women, one holding an infant the size of a loaf of bread against her chest, muffling its whimpers as she soothed and murmured into its ear.  He shrugged his broad shoulders, rolled them forward and back, trying to loosen the weight of them that dragged like a yoke around his neck.  There was nothing for it.  Desperation had given him authority.

He crouched down to eye level with the rest of them and pitched his voice so low they had to guess at some of the words.

“They’ve already been here, this is where they started.  Chances are they’ll do another sweep through before they leave, but it’ll be cursory at best.  They wanna get back home, start their feast.”  The woman with the baby shuddered so violently that the child let out a wail, quickly stifled under Jensen’s calloused palm.  He swore, quiet but vicious, and stared the woman in her fear-stupid eyes.

“Yeah, I get it.  Their feast is our flesh.  Maybe someone you love was taken, right in front of you.  Maybe you lost one, but you saved another.  Now you keep yourself still and you keep that baby quiet, or I will throw you both out that front door without a second thought.  If you understand what I’m saying, shut the fuck up.”

She froze, all but the hand stroking the baby’s back.  The kid’s solemn brown eyes studied Jensen’s pale green ones as he took his hand away from the red rosebud of a mouth.  Please, peanut, Jensen silently prayed, just shut up shut up shut up…

There was a sound of breaking glass from the floor above them, muffled footsteps.  A thin scream escaped the woman with the broken mind.  Sensing its mothers distress, the infant’s lips quivered, its brow puckered.  Before it could draw breath to squall, ever again, Jensen shut off his humanity for good and stretched his hand out towards that tiny face once again.  Only desperation could bestow this kind of authority.


For this week’s Master Class, I disturbed myself…

Prof SAM (  jumped back in the saddle and had last class’s star pupil Renee ( turn to page 152 of her chosen book and use the 2nd line of the last paragraph for our story prompt.  She chose T.H.White’s The Once and Future King:  Desperation had given him authority.


Categories: Fiction | Tags: , , , | 8 Comments

Behind a Podium

Storch-Badge-MasterThe past cannot be cured.”

His hands gripped the sides of the podium and he forced a slow exhalation, relaxed them. He had requested the positioning of the spotlight so that he wouldn’t be able to make out specific faces in the audience, but a few shadowy visages eeked through.

“You are here tonight to hear what I have to say on the causality of decision making on potential futures. As a re-incarnate, and one bound outside the circle of seclusion, I have a unique perspective on the concept of past and present. I still, however, am not able to gaze into a crystal ball and tell your future.” There was a polite murmur of laughter. That would end soon enough. This next bit had a tendency to annoy his new listeners.

“People agonize over decision making. They fear and desire the option that they didn’t choose. At unhappy moments they pore over their memories, which, as an aside, are rarely as accurate as they believe, and try to pinpoint an exact moment, an exact choice, that they made incorrectly. I am going to tell you an unadulterated truth that I have discovered over the past six lifetimes. The majority of your choices will make no appreciable difference on the outcome of your life.”

He paused, not for dramatic effect, but to let the scoffing and the outrage wash over the crowd. People hated this bit. Their determined ignorance was growing to annoy him and he stifled the urge to explain to them that he wasn’t taking their money to tell them what they wanted to hear. If that was what they wanted then they could go find a fortune teller with a crystal ball. He was here to tell them what he knew.

“It’s true,” he began, raising his voice over the protests that were thrown back at him. “Just listen for a minute. Listen. Most days, whether you choose to wear a white shirt or a black shirt it isn’t going to affect your day. However, if you choose a white shirt, and then you also choose to buy a latte and it spills down your front while you’re running late on your way to work, it can affect your day. It can alter your mood, which in turn can alter your decision making, your interactions with others, even your sense of self if your sense of self is tied into your appearance. Now, this is an important bit. What would you have done differently, if you had known you would spill that latte? Picked a black shirt? Maybe you got a white chocolate mocha instead and the whipped cream would stain your shirt. Spend thirty minutes in your closet, attempting to think through every possible outfit collaboration available for the least likely to show a stain? Life, and chance, will thwart you at every turn.”

“This is not the bleak outlook it may seem to be on the surface. One lifetime, I made my choices based on the heart. One, I followed my head. One life I let chance take the wheel. One I lived for a desire of power. The fifth I lived only for beauty. And the sixth? I choose honestly. I am honest with myself about what I want, and with others about who I am.”

“In every single life that I have lived, I have felt pain and heartbreak, I have felt joy. I’ve laughed and loved, made love and fucked like a bunny. I’ve been happy and sad, gotten and lost things that I wanted, lost arguments and won fights. It didn’t matter what color shirt I had chosen that day, I was either going to spill something on it or I wasn’t. There was no lifetime that I ‘got right’, forgive the air quotes. No matter what I did, I didn’t ever get through one life without making wrong choices. I didn’t attain enlightenment or perfection; I hurt others, mostly by accident, lost my temper sometimes. But I lived. I made choices and abided by them and didn’t look back. The only things that changed were my surroundings, my trappings, my details.”

“I have learned that life should just be lived. This is a messy, arduous and beautiful process. Stop agonizing yourselves into anxiety attacks, stop wondering if you should or shouldn’t. Stop preparing. It doesn’t matter all that much in the long run. Tomorrow morning, instead of dithering around about this or that, remember that, already? You have entered the winter of your life.”


In her first turn as Professor, SAM changed things up in the Master Class. To keep things interesting, last weeks chosen winners each had to pick the first line of a book for us to both begin and end our story with. Michael of Innocents and Accidents, Hints and Allegations chose Winter Journal by Auster You have entered the winter of your life and Tina from Not Just Another Mother Blogger chose Shadow of the Night by Deborah Harkness The past cannot be cured (I’m not familiar with this book but I really like the line)

Categories: Fiction | Tags: , , , | 8 Comments

You Never Know

Storch-Badge-MasterShe sat cross legged on the bed, facing his face and watching his eyes. “I know that you’re going to think I’m being insensitive, but I’m going to say this anyway.”

He held up a hand to stall her, to stop the words prepared to fall from her lips and pepper him like little bullets. “I know that I’ve been having kind of a pity party for myself these past few weeks, and I’m sorry, I really am. I’m just so tired of feeling like a piece of shit all the time.”

“Then don’t let yourself act like one,” thought the cold and unemotional side of her brain. She always listened to this side of her brain, because it was honest and never wrong. Her compassionate brain weighed the words and determined a palatable way to get the same point across. These are the things that she has trained herself to do for the few people that she cares about.

Now that he had called her out on her mood, demanded to be told what was wrong, everything that had crossed her mind and every what if that had made her sad over the past few days turned into fat tears that swam into her eyes and blurred her vision. She didn’t swipe them away or blink them back. Her tears were always honest; she didn’t cry to manipulate or dodge responsibility, she cried when she felt and for that she would never be ashamed.

“Baby, don’t cry,” he said quietly. He leaned forward until his head nestled under her chin, cheek over her heartbeat, and she held him. So much love there, it was like drowning in syrup, slow and thick and golden. She let herself breathe, feel it, slow breaths to draw it in and savor it.

“I’m worried that you lost your way,” she whispered into the hair that tickled under her chin. “I’m worried that you’ve lost your way to finding joy in life and you’re not even trying to get it back. I want to be excited about things again, I want to wake up in the morning and feel something. I can’t take these days of spinning in a hamster wheel anymore, I feel like I have no fucking idea where the past three years have gone.”

She felt his head nod against her chest. “I know,” he mumbled, “I know.” He heaved in his own deep breath. “I still feel happiness. I’m happy about you and us, about the kid. I love you guys, more than I could ever figure out how to say. I just, being laid off and being in pain all the time, lying in bed on a heating pad all day just to be able to get up for a few hours, it’s killing me. I don’t ever want to be a burden to you and right now it feels like that’s all I am.”

She knows how much these words cost him, this lovely sad man wrapped in her arms. He speaks from the heart, always, but to admit out loud his weaknesses, to point them out for her to examine as he does, this is hard for anyone.

“There will never come a time when life will slow down and allow you that one perfect moment to springboard into change. You keep waiting for this to happen or that to happen, like there will be a magic day where every problem will be held at bay so you can make a conscious decision to not be defined by your troubles anymore. Sometimes, you just have to stop right in the middle of the chaos and make your choice, grab onto one tiny thread and start from there to remember who you really are.”

She framed his face with her hands and lifted it for a kiss. “Maybe that’s the way it’s supposed to be.”



The rules for Master Class this week got another change up (wheeeee!) where we had to use the line of a published work to end our story with instead of beginning it. It was interesting, as you kind of had to have your whole story line in mind already before you even began instead of just starting somewhere and running with it.

Voters choice had the winner last week as Carrie from The Muse Unleashed ( who decided to go with Tiger Eyes, by Judy Blume – Maybe that’s the way it’s supposed to be

Master Class is the brainchild of Eric Storch at – go read him, the man knows his way around words…

Categories: Fiction | Tags: , , , , | 14 Comments

The Culling (The Lark Council)

We slept in what had once been the gymnasium. Huddled together as one clan, as we had been on the outside, only now so many fewer.

I scratched absently at the stubble growing in on my head. My one vanity, my thick and shiny auburn hair, had been shaved off and thrown in the trash.

Along with Vera’s unborn baby; she had been deemed unfit to carry.  A dreamy odd thought had drifted through my mind as I watched them drop handful after handful of my locks into the can, that the baby girl lying in there would at least be surrounded by something warm and soft. She deserved at least that little courtesy, in a world so cruel some might think she was better off. Vera was inconsolable. I saw them take her, dragging her from the room.

The Lark Council had begun the culling within a few days of stomping down their gangway towards us, all wide eyed benevolence; they came bearing relief, they said, from the drought and the hunger that plagued our remote town. Our Elders had been so relieved at the thought of rescue that they hadn’t looked past the friendly words to see into the hard eyes that never changed. We saw through them, we saw and we whispered amongst ourselves. It happened so quickly though, we thought that we would have more time to speak our piece, to keep our own peace. Not so.

In their crisp and clean uniforms, the Council first culled out all of those who had been touched by the Roiling, and those who had nursed them. These unfortunates, with their scars that looked like melted wax dripped over and into their flesh, their sad and crazy eyes that spoke of untold pain, were corralled into our church. The doors were barred, guards were posted, and that was that. Those who resisted were shot without warning; those who protested were given one.

Next came the pregnant women, Vera shuffling in the middle of the herd, hands covering her swollen belly as she was jostled forward. I never heard what the Lark’s criteria were for choosing who was allowed to carry a child; there didn’t seem to be a connecting thread to the women who came back to us with gratitude and fear fighting for control of their face. They were named Inviolate. There would be no other procreation without permission. Any infractions would be cause for the execution of both parents and any existing children, immediately.

The worst part of all of this, the most insidiously terrifying thing, was that we had no idea why. We didn’t know what the Lark Council’s purpose was, we didn’t know what they wanted. Sometimes a seemingly random soldier would step forward with a proclamation, some rule or other we were expected to follow without hesitation upon penalty of death. They wouldn’t answer questions, they wouldn’t address anyone directly, and I saw Jaim take a loaded thruster stock to the temple for attempting to step in front of a grizzled man that was trying to leave the building.

As they locked us into the gymnasium night after night, a slow burn fired in my belly. It was obvious that there was no rescue or relief for us, but our town was falling into disrepair as well. The soldiers on the ground didn’t bother digging jacks and the smell was quickly becoming overpowering. They let their garbage fall where it would, bonfires that had been kept burning without fail for months were pissed on and kicked over.

If they weren’t taking care of the town it was because they weren’t planning on staying. They wouldn’t bother turning us into a matched and malleable set of players if they were going to leave us here to rot. This meant that they plan on leaving. They plan on taking us with them. Somehow I don’t think that we will have pride of place within this regime.

I fear that they mean to enslave.


the chosen winner of last weeks Master Class entries was the cringe inducing creepy tale Weightless (  Angela chose Margret Atwood’s ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ for this weeks prompt:  We slept in what had once been the gymnasium

i introduced the Lark Council in the very first Master Class, and visited it once after that, and now this one makes three.  it’s not a cohesive continuation yet, just snippets that pop into my head.  one day i’ll figure out how to link and tab and all that fun stuff so i can make it easy for anyone who wanted to maybe go back and read other stuff…one day…. 🙂Storch-Badge-Master

Categories: Fiction, The Lark Council | Tags: , , , , | 18 Comments

Five Means Alive

Storch-Badge-MasterToday I’m five. I don’t wanna get out of my bed, though, ‘cause as soon as I swing my legs over the side the monsters under the bed can grab my feet. Can’t even let a toe peek out of the covers, ‘cause they can bite it.

The light fairies are sneaking in, sweeping the dark away from the corners, but the inbetweeners who live in the shadowy places are still there. I can hear them, ‘cause they laugh as soon as they know I’m awake. They know I know they’re there, and they don’t even care. They know Mom and Dad don’t listen to me when I try to tell them. Mom and Dad don’t believe there are little things that look like spiders but with people eyes that look red in the dark, even though I’ve seen them. I see them every night.

I don’t know what lives under my bed. I can’t look, even in the day time when I know it’s sleeping, ‘cause I’m too scared. I know it’s bigger than the little spider people, and I know it wants to eat me all up, feet first til nothing is left but my head, ‘cause it’s too big for it to swallow but it’ll keep it around anyway. Maybe it has a whole wall full of little girl heads with bloody bitten necks, like trophies, so it can remember every single one it got to eat up. I bet their moms and dads didn’t listen to them either.

Today I’m five and that means tomorrow they can’t come back anymore, so they want me to get out of bed, right now, so they can drag me under and no one will ever know what happened to me. I don’t want people to be sad I disappeared. They should’ve listened to me though, I’m not a baby, I know what I see when they turn the lights off.

Dad got tired the other night when he turned on my nightlight and I begged him to leave the door open and the hallway light on. “Don’t be a baby, Sally,” he said. That hurt my feelings so bad I didn’t even say good night, and he just walked away. They came out then, right away, as soon as he closed the door. They laughed. They whispered at me, “Baby baby baby baby”, until I threw my pillow at the corner and screamed at them to go away. Daddy came back and yelled at me, and I cried myself to sleep. I’m not a baby. Just because I don’t wanna get eaten up doesn’t mean I’m a baby.

The light fairies fight the shadowy people. They whisper to me sometimes too, when they come with their little sparkly brooms to sweep the dark away. Their whispers sound like bells, they tinkle and tickle my ears ‘cause they sit right on them when they whisper, they’re so tiny. They say that five means alive, that if I can be okay til five on the day I turn five I get to stay alive. The darkens can only take you when you’re little and five is too big. They can’t fight five year olds ‘cause they’re too chicken.

Right now my light up clock says it’s four-thirty, in the morning. No one else is up yet, but it doesn’t matter ‘cause they couldn’t help me anyway. One more half hour and I’m safe and sound and I can sleep in the summer time without a blanket ‘cause it won’t matter if my feet hang off the side of the bed. Even though I could do that, I don’t think I wanna. I don’t think I can sleep with my feet off the bed ever. What if there are just different monsters that come when you’re older? Just ‘cause these ones have to go away doesn’t mean others won’t come.

The light fairies are lining up on the windowsill now and their brooms aren’t sparkly, ‘cause they can’t sweep up the dark yet, it’s still too early. I know they want me to make it, which is nice, to have someone on your side.

I’m starting to get a little more scared ‘cause if the monsters are running out of time I think that’ll make them fight harder to get me. I’m gonna sit in a tiny little ball, the smallest tiniest little ball I can make, right in the middle of my bed. Those kids who cover their heads with the blankets are crazy because I don’t want bad guy teeth or claws or tentacles or anything to grab me by surprise. I think they would win, if they surprised me, ‘cause I wouldn’t be ready to fight or be smart, I’d just be screaming and crying and gone.

Four forty-seven. I keep sniffling ‘cause I feel like I’m gonna cry, but it’s not because I’m a baby. I think a grown up would cry too, if they knew something wanted to eat them, ‘cause it would be scary and sad, to not wake up and get to be five, or twenty-five. That would always be scary and sad, it doesn’t matter if you’re a kid. That wouldn’t make you a baby.

They’re starting to creep out of the shadows. I can see them, like stupid bugs on skitter legs, they’re smiling with their big teeth and their dumb scary red eyes aren’t blinking, ‘cause they don’t wanna lose me if I try to sneak away. Something is moving under my bed and it sounds like snakes, and I can’t help it if I scream a little.

The fairies are all standing up now, they’re holding their brooms like swords and they’re making noises. I think they’re trying to yell, trying to help me scare away the scary, but they’re so small it just sounds like mice when they squeak. It’s nice, though, that they’re trying. There’s an arm but it’s like a shadow, coming from under my bed, and it’s reaching up and trying to find me in the middle. One of the fairies jumps out of line, it flitters at the shadow, and it swings its broom right through it. There’s a growl and my bed shakes and the shadow poofs away into ribbons. The fairy’s already back in line and they all look alike, so I smile at all of them and whisper thank you. I don’t wanna give away where I am if the shadow thing comes back.

The clock says four fifty-nine. It feels like my whole room is holding its breath and I am too. There’s bubbles in the darkness, like when Dad didn’t let the paint dry on the bathroom wall all the way and Mom said the steam got into it when he took a shower. They keep popping and spilling more dark but even while it’s spreading, the light is growing brighter. The fairies brooms are sparking like fireworks and they start flying in circles around my head, and now I can laugh because the clock says five o’clock!

I throw off my blankets and jump out of bed. I jump as far away from it as I can ‘cause even though they’re gone I still don’t wanna be anywhere near the underneath part. “Today I’m five!”


Does anyone else remember how terrifying your bedroom in the dark could be when you were five, or is that just me?

The always engaging Eric Storch’s brainchild Master Class ( was prompted this week by the first line from Room by Emma Donoghue, chosen by last weeks winner

Marian from Runaway Sentence ( – she writes some really fantastic poetry, by the by…

Written to the soundtrack of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, who sometimes sounds as if he is the scary thing hiding under your bed…

Categories: Fiction | Tags: , , , , , | 18 Comments

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