MicroFiction #08

MicroFictionCHOICE (99 words)

Tchusin watched, horrified, as first one then another Xurthu battle cruiser winked into existence around Thiele, the blue sun of his home world Taleen. He raised his first appendage and scratched his eye-ridge anxiously. He knew his duty. The enemy hadn’t detected him yet because of his cloaking device, but using his tight-beam to jump to Taleen orbit would dispel the shield and leave him defenseless.
He could do nothing.
Wait for the Xurthu to leave.
But when they were gone, Taleen would be gone too.
Game over.
Exhaling noisily, he extended his third appendage to the tight-beam node.

Short short story post-

shortstory2WHITE ROOM

A man in a white lab coat pushes a steel cart down a white painted corridor, his feet making no sound on the dark grey industrial carpeting. The cart has two large trays. One of them holds covered steel containers that steam gently. The other tray is open, filled an assortment of medications, syringes and bottles of all sizes. Doors, painted white, stand closed at regular intervals. The man passes them all, going down to the end of the corridor, which ends in another door, also white and also closed. On the door a small metal frame holds a cardboard tag that reads Holmes, David. The man pauses at the door and fumbles in the pocket of his coat, fitting a large key into the lock.

***

David Holmes squeezes the white pebbled stone parapet hard, his grip so tight that the muscles under his skin ripple with the tension. He has powerful athletic arms; the muscles defined and curved under sunburned skin. He looks out over the low balustrade towards white flecked breakers flopping over lazily on the shore below. A vagrant breeze lifts a lock of his hair and whips it across his face. Absently he raises one hand and pushes the errant strand back into place, keeping his eyes fixed on the surf below. A single wisp of cloud hovers overhead in an otherwise azure sky and he smiles as his eye catches the glitter of the noonday sun on the rising crest of a breaker. It’s a perfect day on Hidden Cove Bay. Perfect for sailing. He relishes the prospect, imagining the feel of the wind whipping his hair into a tangle and hear the crack of the canvas sails as they gather the breeze.
Sailing is David’s passion, the only time he really feels alive. He loves the motion of the waves rocking the planks beneath his feet, the salty taste of spray on his lips, yelling nonsensical pirate phrases into the wind knowing no one can hear him. Sometimes he drops anchor in the middle of the bay, strips of his clothes and lies naked on the deck, luxuriating in the warmth of the sun on his skin, feeling the sweat pop out on his brow, the red haze hot against his eyelids as his upturned face catches the sun’s oblique rays.
Maybe today he’ll go swimming instead. The water looks inviting; deep turquoise blue, sprinkled with shimmering translucent wavelets that break up and catch the sunlight in endless tiny fragments. The motion of the waves is hypnotic, lulling him into a trance. His mind reels in a well worn memory.
Once, floating on his back a hundred yards from his boat, a flying sailfish, Parexocoetus brachypterus, flew right over him, fins spread, leaping over him like an inconsequential hurdle, the diamond like shards of its watery wake creating a rainbow of refracted colors through his half closed eyelids. He turned over then, rolling on the surface, trying to follow the path of the fish as it re-entered the water, but it was too fast for him. All he saw were the shadows of the wave ripples on the sea floor. It was August, the water so clear he could to see all the way to the bottom, almost forty five feet below; everything enhanced and clarified by the light, making the water so transparent he felt as if he was lying on a pane of glass.
Right now, his mouth feels dry. His body is sticky, remembering the liquid coolness; the sensuous embrace, like a lover, like being in a warm fluid cocoon, welcoming him in, arousing his lust, stroking him with the feathery touch of vagrant breezes on his skin. The water calls him with an indefinable urge, a visceral yearning his body responds to on a molecular level.
Today he must stay longer. He is tired of this place, trapped in this building even though it affords him a daily view of the sea he loves.

***

The sound of a key grating in the lock intrudes upon the stillness of the room, and a stark white door swings inwards to rest against an equally stark white wall. The room’s decor is Spartan, almost minimalist. Everything is white, from the linens to the furniture, unrelieved by even a picture on the wall. The man in the white lab coat enters, wheeling a steel cart loaded with two trays. One of them holds covered steel containers that steam gently. The other tray is open, filled an assortment of medications, syringes and bottles of all sizes.
Sunlight streams in through open French doors, the intensity of the light washing out any color in the room. The French doors open out onto a broad uncovered balcony where a hunched form is visible, leaning forward in a wheelchair, hands gripping the balustrade. A blanket covers the occupant’s thighs but beneath the edge of the fabric a pair of withered uncovered legs are visible. A flicker of sympathy crosses the lab coated man’s face as he notices the faraway expression on the patient’s face. David Holmes was a champion sailor once, but he will never walk again.
“Hello David,” he says, gently breaking into the others reverie. “Thinking of the sea again? It’s time for your medicine, you know.”

Gaia Dreaming

Gaia DreamingGAIA DREAMING

The river instinctively seeks the bay.
The bay has worn many faces.
Faces altered over eons by the relentless water.
Water that was not always here either.
Either it whispered in subterranean tunnels.
Or tunneled into vast still reservoirs.
The reservoirs are older; they were here before the bay and the river.
And the river doesn’t remember its form in different times.
Time is both its friend and its enemy.
An enemy that will eventually break its liquid heart.
For the heart of the river is also the Earth’s.
And the Earth’s heart does not beat forever.

Bryan Knower 2013

Short short story post-

shortstory2Captured

I wake up groggy trying to blink my eyes open, and then scream from the flashing pain in my head. There’s a migraine raging through my skull and I don’t know where I am but I dare not open my eyes again just yet. I shuttle in and out of consciousness, finally summoning the will to crack my eyelids open a fraction. They shut almost immediately of their own volition. My heart, suddenly accelerated, thumps in my chest. It isn’t the pain; it’s what is lying on the table in front of me that stresses me out.

My mind seems irrationally calmly logical. Must be a neat freak who laid this out, I think, wondering if I should just go ahead and panic. The implements on the table are shiny, most of them pointed; many with rows of wicked looking teeth or flat clamping surfaces that make my sensitive parts cringe. There’s a perverse order to the madness, with the smallest ones to my left, increasing alarmingly in size and cruelty as they progress across the surface. I’m standing upright, manacled at wrists and ankles. When I try to turn my head to get a look around the room, a metal band securing my head in place scrapes against my forehead, giving new meaning to the phrase “stars in my eyes.”

I must have passed out again, for when I open my eyes a second time it’s a lot easier. Time is dulling my headache, but time is not my friend here. As far as I can see, I’m alone in the room and I can only conclude that these cold shiny instruments are there for my benefit.

I’m cold. I have not even a scrap of clothing to preserve my dignity and a cold draught plays across the room, shriveling my genitals. Using my eyes without moving my head, I can see a doorway across from me, with a high narrow window a few paces to the right of it, open to the elements. It seems dark in the window slit, darker than the fitful illumination in the room. It must be night outside. At least four hours have passed since the late afternoon when I sneaked away from our group, tiptoeing up the stairs of abandoned “Macbeth” tower in the roped off section of the castle we were exploring. I remember stepping on a crumbling stone step and plunging into blackness, screaming. Now this.

Goodrich castle in Herefordshire is supposedly uninhabited; a decaying ruin that somehow draws visitors because of its association with Wordsworth’s poem “We are Seven.” At the moment, I am one, alone and Wordsworth’s little maid might soon add me to her list of two dead that so bothered the poem’s narrator. The silence is uncanny. I always assumed castles were noisy places, but an almost unbearable stillness fills the room, a musty expectance, as if awaiting a familiar presence. Unbidden some lines from the poem come to mind;

Then did the little Maid reply,
“Seven boys and girls are we;
Two of us in the church-yard lie,
Beneath the church-yard tree.”

The hair on the back of my neck and arms rises as I contemplate this, and at the risk of wringing my own neck I scrunch my head into my shoulders, trying to wriggle out of the restricting band about my head. It hurts like crazy, and I can’t free myself from the constraint, but the grip on my head loosens as my head slips an inch down in the ring. I can turn my head a little now, and see almost all of the room.

It isn’t large, and the walls curve around, making me think that I am still in the tower. But this tower is not ruined. The walls are made of solid stone blocks, undecorated and gray to match the gloom that fills the space. What little light there is comes from a sputtering torch mounted to one side and now burnt almost to an ember. My eyes adjust to the dimness and now I can see that a faint stream of smoke trails from the wall and creeps under the door. The door. I haven’t paid any attention to it until now, but there it stands, massive beams of wood banded with rusted metal, worn almost the color of the walls. I stare at it intently, trying to discern a lock or key when, to my horror it begins to swing slowly open, making the torch sputter wildly and go out. In the extreme darkness that follows, I can’t see what comes through the door, but somehow, I know that I am no longer alone in the room.

MicroFiction #07

MicroFictionDog Days (99 words)

It’s August, the water on Buzzard Bay so translucent it feels like I’m lying on a pane of glass. Trying not to splash, I roll over on my back just as a sailfish flies directly over me, fins spread, like a jeweled aquatic hurdler. The diamond shards of his watery wake create a rainbow of refracted colors through my half closed eyelids and I turn over again, trying to follow the quicksilver flash as he re-enters the water. He’s gone, like an apparition. All I see are the shadows of waves rippling on the sea floor thirty feet below.

MicroFiction #06

fuction under 100 wordsRun Rabbit run (98 words)

Rabbit ran as hard as he could, running for his life. Muddy swamp water filled his sneakers and sucked malevolently at his feet, slowing him down. His breath steamed in the frosty night, coming in great gasps, but he pumped his arms harder, forcing more air into his tortured lungs. Behind him, the baying dogs sounded closer. The ground hindered them less than it did him. Underfoot, the squelching stopped suddenly and his feet gained traction. Ahead, through the thinning trees, a swath of silvery grass ended in a lighted ribbon of asphalt.
There was no going back.

MicroFiction #05

fuction under 100 words

Jumper (90 words)

Lewis felt strangely peaceful, almost blissful in the final moments. In eerie silence the wind wrapped his body in her invisible blanket; peeling his lips back in an intimate kiss and folding his cheeks like a Shar-Pei’s face. He surrendered willingly, exulting as he spread his arms to embrace her. Below, the upturned gawking cartoon faces, a voyeur’s gallery of fools, expanded in his vision field like an image zoomed in a telephoto lens. In the grand scheme of things, Lewis had just one regret. He should have jumped sooner.

MicroFiction #04

Fiction under 100 words

KIDNAPPED (92 words)

In the other room, a wheezing cough grew in intensity, then stopped abruptly. Robert hoped the sufferer had died. He was lying on his side in complete darkness, his hands and feet bound.
Stay quiet, they’d warned. He complied. There was no arguing with the two armed men who pushed him into the back seat of his Chevy at the gas station. Hours later, the soft-spoken one left, leaving behind the fat wheezing one who seemed on the permanent verge of violence.
Robert hoped it wouldn’t come to that. He wasn’t rich.

Farewell To A Hero

FAREWELL TO A HERO

Bright burns the hero’s flaming pyre
A beacon fair on the twilight sea
Whose darkling waters reflect there
The pinpoint sparks of embers free

Each mote of light a badge that bears
The high honor of help in need
That helped those taken unawares
And in that noble cause did bleed

For in the face of overwhelming odds
Did uphold the unspoken pact
To defend hearth and home and gods
With visage grim and honor intact

On torch-lit shore stand those who mourn
Yet joyfully praise the hero’s path
For freedom they still hold their own
Is this warrior’s due in no small part

So farewell brave brother in arms
Who held life dear but honor more
That those who stand do so in hope
Of reunion on Elysium’s distant shore

Bryan Knower 2013

Microfiction #03

microfiction2RIVER RUNS DEEP (95 words)
On day three hundred of a fruitless job search, Andrew Manzes paused on the corner of Fifth and Main, staring at the river of traffic rushing by him. The red lights dwindling into the distance seemed to mock his fading hopes, highlighting the ephemeral nature of his dreams; dreams that once lighted his path, but now served only to illuminate the concrete bank of this surging river.
The river beckoned him, urging him to lose himself in its seductive flow. The pull was irresistible. Smiling, he closed his eyes and stepped out into the traffic.