Life Lessons in a Death Trap

When Sensei said there would be a final test, I was hoping for something multiple choice. Maybe even true/false, if I was lucky. Instead they grabbed me in the middle of the night and stuck me here.

I am alone in a hallway lined with stark white doors. There are hundreds of them and above each, the glowing number 12. I have a small, cold feeling deep down that I will probably not survive this.

My heart is pounding, and sweat is dripping in my eyes. I’m looking for scuff marks, fingerprint smears, anything to will make one stand out.

I spot one with what looks like a slight discoloration above the handle. I open it.

A brick wall stands behind it, taunting me in a stony sort of way.

In unison, the numbers above the doors all change to 11.

Sensei is a great one for thinking outside the box, or hallway in this case. I know I’m missing something, but I’ve already tried to pry up the floor tiles and even tried climbing up through the ceiling.

He’s probably watching me somewhere by camera, laughing at my confusion as he lounges around in his dirty robe and drinks his wretched chamomile tea, which is half honey and milk. I’ll bet Sensei is not even his real name.

I open another door at random.

10.

Crap.

9.

8.

7.

Crap crap crap.

This is probably some sort of life lesson, something about a myriad of choices not equaling opportunity or some such garbage. I try to reach the end of the hallway but I’m pretty sure it curves around slowly to form a loop.

6.

5.

4.

Crap crap crap crap crap.

Uh, how about this one?

3.

This one?

2.

At this point, I don’t even care. Sensei can have his little test. I’m not playing anymore. I open another door.

1.

Nope, I don’t care a bit. Here’s goes.

0.

I was wrong. I care a lot.

A siren begins to blare. Without thinking, I slam myself against the brick wall behind the final door. It collapses in a parody of a real wall. There’s no mortar between the bricks.

“You took long enough,” I hear a voice say. It’s Sensei bending over me.

“Are these even real bricks?” I ask.

“I got them at Toys ‘R’ Us,” he says. “What did you learn?”

“Don’t let perceived obstacles stop you,” I say, trying to keep the question mark out of my voice.

He reaches down and whacks me across the back of the head. “Yes, and don’t be ruled by desperation.” He walks away.

“So did I pass?” I ask.

He stops and takes a long drink of chamomile tea. “Maybe,” he says. “Try it again tomorrow and we’ll see.”

Great, I thought. Just enough time for him to put mortar between all the bricks.


Why Writing a Novel Is Like the AK-47 Rifle

David Stewart:

“Perfection is the enemy of good enough” is a great line. This post talks about writers demanding perfection during the rough draft phase and how damaging that can be, but I was struck by perfection at the other end. I mentioned to my wife today that I was starting the 9th draft of my current novel and she said I should call it done and get it published. I, however, want to give it one more go to polish it up. What do you think? How do you know when a piece of writing is done and when it could still use more work?

Originally posted on A Writer's Path:

ak-47-872500_1280

Several years ago, I wrote a non-fiction bookabout the AK-47 rifle. It was not a gun book, per se, but a history about how this ubiquitous weapon changed the world, certainly the world of war. For those of you who never watch television, read the web or see a magazine, the AK-47 is ‘the gun’ that you see everywhere. It’s what we think an automatic weapon should look like with its distinctive banana-shaped magazine (the part that holds bullets).

View original 716 more words


Busting out Putin

Note: this story is not political, only silly.

Busting out Putin

What does Vladimir Putin eat? That was the topic of debate after my friend Antonio got his new batch of miniature clones (or mi-clo’s) in the mail from Thailand.

All the others were eating. Antonio squatted over the holding pen’s grated top, rolled up a pancake and pushed it through the bars. Mi-clo Mother Theresa and Pierre Trudeau ran and snatched it up. Putin didn’t move, just shook his Lilliputian fist at us and jabbered away in Thai (a sure sign of a knock-off).

“Do you think he only eats Russian food?” Antonio asked.

“You’d have better luck with pad thai, probably,” I said.

“Well, I only know how to make pancakes,” Antonio said. “He can eat them or starve, I guess. I only got him because he came free with the Freddy Mercury I wanted.”

Over the next few days, Putin still refused to eat. He was getting thinner and his 1-foot tall frame soon looked bony. I was getting worried but Antonio only shrugged.

Finally, I decided to get him out of there. The next day, when Antonio went to the bathroom, I lowered a rope down. Putin grabbed it but was too weak to hold on. I unlatched the door and dropped down into the pen.

Bad move. Tony Blair and Cher jumped at me but I shook them off. I seized Putin and jumped out of danger right before the rest of them swarmed to attack me.

“Let’s go get you some food,” I said. “You like tacos? Burgers?”

He said something I couldn’t understand but it didn’t sound like either tacos or burgers. “Let’s try tacos,” I said and ran for the door.

I didn’t know what we’d eat and I didn’t know how this would end, but I was certain that I was going to save this little guy if I possibly could.

Epilogue: Putin turned out to love Popeye’s spicy chicken sandwiches. He soon returned to health and is now living happily in an abandoned dog house in the woods behind Walmart.


Grave Orientation

To all my friends in CIE. You know who you are.

copyright Claire Fuller (is it cheating to use it for a non-FF story?)

copyright Claire Fuller (is it cheating to use it for a non-FF story?)

Grave Orientation

“Welcome to Death,” I say. The morgue is full of the new arrivals, shuffling incorporeally through the gurneys and equipment. They’re a motley group, from the peacefully departed to the violently wrenched. There’s no fear among them, just mild confusion.

I, however, am a nervous wreck.

I cough. “I’m here for your orientation. There are going to be several sessions, from the dos and don’ts of haunting to astral plane immigration policies. If you’ll all look at the screen on the wall—”

They’re not listening. Most are wandering away. One is inexplicably sleeping. I start to panic. I am not even supposed to be here. My boss Larry always did these, until he died last week, somewhat ironically. I wonder briefly who did his orientation and if he found it helpful.

Specters are disappearing through the walls. It’s my neck if they get away without some basic training. What’s worse, they’ll all be haunting my office the first time a graveyard bully crosses their path. I’m sweating and scrambling frantically for what to say.

Who you going to call?” I scream suddenly.

Every eye swivels slowly until the whole, ethereal crowd is looking at me, real fear evident in their wraithish eyes. Then they trundle towards me.

“Good,” I say. “Now, let’s get started.” I click the remote. “Slide 1: proper mausoleum maintenance—”


The Submariner’s Dream

Let me tell you the account of trying to bring light to a Friday Fictioneers story this week. I had an idea I liked and wrote the story this evening. It came out to 119 words and I couldn’t reduce it without sacrificing vital parts of the story. So I wrote another one, which I liked even better. That one came out at 128 words and again, I didn’t want to sacrifice any of it. So I wrote a third story, which luckily came out to 100 words. That’s the one below, but if you want to read the other two, I’m going to post them on my blog tomorrow and Saturday. This week’s picture is thanks to Claire Fuller, the author of the award-winning novel, Our Endless Numbered Days.

copyright Claire Fuller

copyright Claire Fuller

The Submariner’s Dream

I dream the alarms sounded. I ran to battle stations, shoving past fear-sweating men in claustrophobic hallways.

I dream they waited for me at the missile room door. I had the keys. Buttons were pushed, codes entered, access granted: all perfect protocol.

I dream the Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine” lilted around us as we shot our world-ending payload out into the frosty Arctic night, leaving us empty, spent.

I awake, feeling hollow. I go to the bridge.

“Any contact yet?”

The captain shakes his head, despair in his eyes.

I take two more pills and sleep.

I dream the alarms sounded . . .


Orca’s Den

I know I’ve said this before, but this story is a little weird. Let me know what you think.

copyright C.E. Ayr

copyright C.E. Ayr

Orca’s Den

Orca's Den 1

Orca's Den 2

Orca's Den 3

Orca's Den 4

Orca's Den 5

Orca's Den 6

Orca's Den 7

Orca's Den 8

Orca's Den 9


Verdant (Weekly Vocabulary #1)

David Stewart:

This is from my work blog, for my university English program.

Originally posted on Upper Iowa University Intensive English Program:

Verdantgreenwithvegetation;coveredwithgrowingplantsorgrass

1 - Verdant 1

1 - Verdant 2

1 - Verdant 3

View original


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