“Jacob’s Ladder” – Song Lyric Story Saturday prompt from Naomi Harvey!

This week, the lovely Naomi Harvey of So I want to be an author… created an intriguing new flash fiction challenge! Called Song Lyric Story Saturday, the idea is a fun one – Naomi posts a random lyric or two from a song, and our job is to create a story in 1500 words or less inspired by that lyric. It doesn’t have to use the actual words of the lyric, but the story should be clearly influenced by it. I thought this was a fantastically fun idea, and couldn’t wait to throw my hat into the challenge.

This week’s lyric?

When the end has come and buildings falling down fast, when we’ve spoilt the land and dried up all the sea…

So here, at 1500 words, is “Jacob’s Ladder”

“Your persistence is admirable, I’ll give you that,” said the man in the impeccable suit, “but really, Jacob…don’t you think it’s time to call it quits?”

Jacob sighed, and put down the binoculars. He turned to look at the man in the suit, the man that had no name. The man that wasn’t actually there.

“Shut the fuck up,” Jacob snarled. He reached down for his canteen, shook it. Empty. He turned his gaze back to the horizon.

Up ahead, he could just see through the haze of heat and dust the remnants of an old office building. It swayed in the never ceasing wind like some sort of giant, manmade reed, and even here, from so long a distance, he could hear it creak and moan.

Fuck. There was supposed to be a lake here! He looked down to his tactical bag, opened it, dug through the pockets and pulled out an old, worn map. His fingers, grimy with dry, thick dust, scanned across the lines and creases, trying to determine which was which. The groan of steel, bitterly complaining about its burden, filled the air.

“Fuck,” he said aloud. It was getting harder and harder to find water. This place, this building, should have been on the edge of a large lake. He looked through the binoculars again and for a moment, the dust cleared just enough for him to see a long, deep hollow beyond the tortured high-rise, its surface cracked and crumbling. And dry. Bone dry.

The impeccable man chuckled.

“I told you there wouldn’t be anything there,” he chided, “but would you listen?”

“I said, shut the fuck up.”

“Is that what you really want, Jacob? Honestly? Because I think you might regret saying that later.”

Jacob pulled the binoculars from his eyes, squeezed them tight, and rubbed them hard. He blinked several times, then turned back. The man was still there. The impossible man. Wind and dirt and grime blew all around him, but his suit remained clean. Perfect. Unruffled by wind, untouched by dirt.


He couldn’t quite remember when the man had first appeared. He had vague recollections of it being after he had wakened from a fevered dream. His eyes fluttering, his head throbbing, and then, there he was. The impeccable man.

A rollercoaster of emotions swept through Jacob at that moment. First, fear, panic. It had been a long damned time since he’d seen another human being, and that had not been a pleasant encounter. His side still ached from the memory of the club that had probably broken a rib or two. Then, befuddlement; the man’s incredibly fine, tailored clothes were incredibly jarring in the post-Fall world, where one scavenged what one could, regardless of cut or style or fit. And last…relief. Much as he hated to admit it, he was relieve to see another human being, to have someone to talk to, argue with, listen to. Even if he was a figment of his mind.

Jacob remained silent.

The man nodded, sagely. Jacob wished he could smack him. Instead, he tucked the binoculars away, pulled his worn, old scarf up over his face to block the dust, and began walking towards the building.

“What are you doing?”

He nodded towards the building.

“Could be something left inside. I need water, and a lot of buildings were only looted on the lower levels after the Fall. That one’s tall enough, there could be an old water cooler tank or case of bottled water or something.”

The man frowned. Even his frown was perfect, balanced, symmetrical.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea. Doesn’t look very safe.”

“What do you care? You’re imaginary.”

The man stopped.

“Perhaps I am. Perhaps I’m not. Either way, and end to you could mean an end to me. Shouldn’t I get a choice?”

“Sure,” Jacob said with a huff, “Let’s thumb wrestle for it.”

The man’s face went cold. Jacob felt inwardly pleased at calling him on his lack of physical form.

“You know what? Do it. Go in there. I don’t have to go. I can make the choice not to. So go, get yourself killed. As I said, maybe it’s time to call it quits.”

“Maybe it is.”


Jacob looked again. The man was gone. Not unusual, entirely. There were plenty of times he’d vanished in the past. He’d be back, no doubt, to gloat if Jacob found nothing or to sulk if he scored big.

Time to find out which.


He’d spent at least an hour looking for any other way up but the fire escape, and failed. The ground floor had been, predictably, well looted, but he guessed from the look of the barricaded stairwells that there may well still be something worth having on the upper floors. Plus, it wasn’t like he had much of a choice. He was already getting a little woozy from dehydration.

That fire escape, though. Rusted, rickety, swaying in the breeze. He could see how it pulled away from the wall every so often as it wobbled. And the ladder was so far up. Still, he might have a chance. He opened his pack again, rummaged around, and pulled out his rope and the makeshift grappling hook inside. It was ugly, pieced together from old car parts, but it worked. He tested the weight, gave it a few spins, and sent it sailing.

It hit with a clatter. A quick tug confirmed that it had caught, and he began heaving it towards him. The metal groaned, low and loud at first, then a higher shriek as the rust began to give way to the relentless tug of his rope. Then, with a final desperate shriek, the escape ladder shuddered and surrendered, crashing down with a bang. Jacob coiled his rope, and walked over to the ladder. He gave it a few shakes, gingerly set a foot on the first rung, then the second, and bounced a few times. It held. Good.

He went up, up, up. The first three floors were completely inaccessible, the windows completely boarded up. Further still, then. The same for the fourth, the fifth. By now, he could feel the sway of the building with every gust of dust-laden wind, and once, the fire escape pulled away from the side of the building entirely, leaving him grasping the ladder with knuckles gone white with stress and pressure. But then the building swayed again, and the rickety old ladder smashed against the side of the building with a bone rattling clank. Jacob had to catch his breath. His heart pounded ferociously beneath his chest, and for a moment, he wondered if the impeccable man had not been right after all.p

“Of course I was right,” the man said, sitting calmly on the platform just above Jacob.

“I thought you weren’t going to come,” Jacob growled, but he couldn’t fully hide the gladness he felt at not being alone.

“I couldn’t leave you here, Jacob. Not alone. Not so far up from the world below. How far are we now, Jacob?”

He’d lost count. Jacob looked down, and saw only swirling clouds of dust and ruin, the microscopic remnants of the spoiled land below. The building teetered. He looked up, and saw the fire escape climb and climb, only to disappear into another cloud of dust, the dehydrated remains of a sea bed now gone. God, he was so thirsty.

“I think you’ve gone far enough, Jacob,” the man said, but this time, the edge to it, the sarcasm was gone and in its place, something more akin to…concern? Tenderness?

“Can’t stop,” Jacob said, gritting his teeth as the ladder swayed again, “Gotta find a way in. Find water. I’ll die otherwise.”

The impeccable man stared at him for a long while, silent. His eyes, a strange, watery blue, seemed fit to burst with tears, but none escaped. He just sat there, watching Jacob, who clung to the ladder and could not find the strength or courage to move against the swaying, blowing storm. Finally, he nodded.

“Very well. I can do no more this time. Good bye Jacob.”

He stood, walked to the edge of the platform, and leapt.

“NO!” screamed Jacob, and he instinctually shot out a hand to grab for the man who wasn’t there. As he did, his body weight shifted, and a horrible, deep cry shook through the entire building. Timbers creaked and snapped in thundering cracks, as brick began to crumble. Jacob cried out, but his voice was lost in the tumultuous crash of the high rise.


“We were close this time, Phillip. We almost had him free.”

Phillip turned to the impeccably dressed man, and nodded.

“Perhaps next time, Doctor Jennings? Perhaps next time, we can bring him back to the real world, and out of this fantasy he’s built.”

Jennings, dressed impeccably, looked in at Jacob as he thrashed against the padded wall. His watery blue eyes swelled with tears.


“Be Careful What You Wish For” – Turn-A-Trope #6, #WOEGTTT

After a hell of a week, I have finally gotten a chance to write something. I tell ya, it’s a huge relief. I had not realized how much I’ve come to enjoy venting a little fiction into the blogosphere, and how much it would aggravate me when I miss getting to do it. Hopefully, this story, my late entry for last week’s Turn-A-Trope Tuesday challenge, Make A Wish, will get me back on track.

Be careful what you wish for.

I use to find myself wishing for something more. Something bigger, something better, something different than who I am. A real life Walter Mitty, I guess, lost in day dreams about what might have been had I been fitter, sexier, richer. Or born in another era, where my prodigious talents would have been truly appreciated for what they were. Or where I could show off my knowledge of ancient skills and histories and brilliant intelligence and have those things impress instead of finding scorn.

I would wish every night, upon the same star in the sky. Of course, it probably wasn’t a star. It was probably Venus, or hell, something even less sexy. A satellite. Star light, star bright, first star I see at night, probably a Sputnik in low orbit flight. Still, every night, I’d go up to the roof and lay on my back and stare at the cosmos above and just wish, more than anything, to be something different. And every day, I’d awake, the same, old, boring me. And most of all, alone.

It was the loneliness, I think, that made me look for the first time at the space between those sparkling points of light. That emptiness, that black and unchanging void that screamed as much in its solitude as did my soul in its own loneliness. When all was sparkling and bright around it, it was empty. Black. Wanting. I wanted, too. I stared into that void, and wished. No light, just night, nothing sparkling clean and bright, I wish I may, I wish I might, have the wish I wish…I suddenly felt very foolish. I think may actually have blushed at that moment, embarrassed by my own silliness. I sighed, hard, and for a moment had to fight back a welling wetness from within my eyes.

Fuck wishes. I think I said that aloud too. But seriously, fuck them. I’ve wished a million, billion things and never once have they come true. And the insidious thing about wishing is that the very act seems to drain you of ambition. I’d make a wish, and the part of me that wanted it was somehow a little more satisfied that at least I’d done something, right? And then I’d do nothing. Because I’d wished. Look at that star, or Venus, or Sputnik, and say “I wish I were in better shape” instead of just getting off my ass and going to the gym. And in my head, that part of me that was tired of being doughy and soft would smile at my effort, and the yearning would fade. I’d never get to the gym. I didn’t need to. I had wishes.

I swallowed the sadness that had lumped in my throat, wiped away the tears in my eyes. I got up off that dusty old roof, brushed my pants off, and started to walk back to the dormer window that brought me out to my nightly wishing spot. As I reached the window, I looked back, realizing that it was over. I was not ever going to do this again. I was done with wishes.


I looked to that spot, that void, and I made my final wish.

“I will not wish ever again,” I said, low but heavy with shame and anger, “I will not ever ask another thing, so these are my last. I wish, how I wish, that this wasn’t my life, that I were someone, anyone else, somewhere, anywhere else. I wish that wishing stars weren’t absolute bullshit, and that tomorrow I could wake up and be anyone but me. I wish…”

I paused, fighting back the tears, the lump in my throat, the wetness coming again to my eyes.
“I wish I wasn’t alone.”

And then…I swear, the patch had been empty, black. But I saw a twinkle there. Bright, dancing, sparkling in the night. I laughed, hollowly. My void had been nothing more than a cloud obscuring a star. A star just like all the other junk in space. Brilliant and wishless. I went inside, locked the window, and found my way to bed. Sleep came to me, heavy and burdened. Fitful. I tossed and turned all night, struggling with my self-conscious that didn’t want to accept a world without wishes.

And then I woke.

And I was not in my bed. I was not in my home. I was not in my clothes. All around me, a world of strange and alien sights, strange and alien smells, sounds. I leapt up to my feet, pinched myself. I looked to the sky, and saw darkness filled with points of light, all in patterns I’d never seen. Elation washed over me! My wish! Oh could it be? Had I gotten my wish?

And then, shock. Realization. Numbness, as I began to fully understand.

I was not smart, here. My talents were nothing, here. My knowledge, useless, here. It was like I was someone else entirely. Chills washed down my spine. God, what was I going to do?

And then…oh god, then. I heard it. Out there, far, but getting closer. A horrifying, shrieking sound that reminded my of the last part of my wish.

Because it’d come true. All of it. I wasn’t me here – the me of my world was gone. My world was gone. The stars weren’t bullshit. I had awaken someplace else, someone else.

The shriek was closer now, angry, hungry sounding.

I was not alone.

And the stars above me twinkled and laughed.

“Bad Parents” – Chuck Wendig’s Weekly Flash Fiction Challenge. TRIGGER WARNING

Just in under the deadline, here is my story for Chuck Wendig’s challenge from this past week. A story about “Bad Parents”, 1000 words or less.

This is not the story I originally intended to tell. That one I wrote, rewrote, rewrote again, and then finally deleted. I’m not ready to tell that one yet.

This one is dark, very dark. I give you fair warning now that it is about child abuse, murder, and such like things. If this is the kind of thing that upsets you, skip this one.

No one ever tells you about the smell. The movies, the shows, they make it look almost…glamorous, when you shoot someone. A bang, a puff of smoke, a bright light, a splatter of pretty crimson that paints the wall like that abstract painter guy…Jackson-something. Mom always liked his stuff. I didn’t get it. The smell is terrible. Like copper and shit and sewage. Maybe it’s different if you shoot them somewhere other than the balls and lower stomach?

Christ. I can hear him still. I wish he’d die but I don’t have the stomach or the will to shoot him again. And maybe…maybe I kind of want him to suffer, even if each groan that escapes his lips makes me feel like vomiting. Even through the door, I can hear him dragging himself across the floor croaking a strange, strangled, gurgling noise like some sort of sick frog. Disgusting. Bleeding and shitting all over the floor, no doubt. Mom is going to be so pissed off.

After all, he is…was…her husband.

I look down at the gun in my hand and I wonder how many bullets I have left. I never really learned about them. I mean, I knew the basics, but I didn’t even know how to load or reload or whatever you are supposed to do with them. I do know you point the dangerous end and you flip the safety thing and you pull the trigger. And not the button that makes the bullet-thingy fall out. I guess TV is good for something after all, huh? There’s always that ditzy girl who points the gun and presses the wrong button. Or gets reminded the safety is on. Dumb!

I wonder if I should shoot her too. Mom, I mean. Part of me screams at the idea, revolts. Another…not so much.

She let it happen, after all. She had to have known. No…she did know. I can’t make excuses for her. She knew. I told her. I told her what he was doing, how he was touching me…there. I feel sick again, just thinking about it. Have to force myself to stop. She knew, but she didn’t do anything about it. He was husband number three, after all, and she wasn’t getting any younger. She said that all the time.

So she put up with the shit. The laziness. The yelling. The name calling. The slaps, the punches, the bruises. The way he looked at me, her daughter. She listened when he lied and when he locked himself in my room she bought that the door must have “accidently” locked itself. When I would find any excuse I could to be with her, she said I was just too clingy. Seperation Anxiety? Really Mom?

I didn’t tell her at first. I was scared. Scared that he’d hurt me worse, hurt her worse. He threatened that he would. Said that if I told he would beat the shit out of her, break her, make sure no other man would ever want to be with her again. Did I want that? Huh, sweetie? You want your mom to have to earn her living lying on her back for ten dollars a pop, cause she sure as hell wouldn’t make more than that when he got finished with her.

But then one day she found me. Crying. Rocking. She took me in her arms and she rocked with me and she asked me.

“Cass, sweety? Is there something wrong?”
And I felt warm. Safe. I told her.

I still feel the sting of her hand. The bruises have faded but I still feel each punch. My hair still hurts when it remembers her dragging me through the hall, screaming and calling me a liar, a whore, a filthy little tempter. It was my fault, see. I shouldn’t dress like such a slut. She burned my makeup and my music and most of my heart that day.


What’s left of my heart plummets. He moans out again.


He stops, coughing. I hear something thick and wet splatter against the wood floor, and something in me snaps.

I open the door.

He’s right there. The smell is even worse now. The floor doesn’t look like a pretty painting. It looks horrible. Dark. Brownish. I gag. He looks up at me. Kind of looks like one of those monsters, zombies. I don’t know…I don’t like those shows. Too gory. He reaches out his hand.


There is a pop, a shockingly loud pop and a ringing in my ears before I even realize I’ve shot him. There is a strange, gurgling rattle, and then he’s quiet. The only sound is the ringing in my ears.

I close the door. I cry. I can’t help it. God, what am I going to do? I sit there, at the door. I sit there for a long time.

And then I hear it. Keys in the lock. Mom is home. I look down. How many bullets are left?

I don’t know.

Maybe just one.

My hands tremble. I am so fucked. So, so fucked. The door begins to open. For a moment, it really is just like the movies. Everything is slow, deliberate. I look at the gun and I think, yes, maybe there’s just one more bullet left.

I raise my arm. The gun is so, so heavy. Heavier than I thought it would be. The door swings wider. I sit straighter. Proper. Ladylike. She walks in all fake smiles and empty cheer and an arm full of crap. She looks at me.

“Cass, sweetie? Is there something wrong?”

I smile. I press the gun beneath my chin, and I wonder.

Will she believe me now?

“Hell Hath No Fury” – my entry for Turn-a-trope Tueday #2!

Finishing just before the deadline (though it’s posting a bit late) is my own entry for my Turn-a-trope Tuesday challenge, Unwanted Revival. 1000 words on the nose!


Hell was not what James thought it would be. There was no lake of burning fire. No devils with forks to torment him, no endless hills and great boulders to push up them. Hell was simply…empty. The only thing there was the lack of everything. No feeling of anything, save for the feeling of longing. It was like hungering but never being able to sate it. Thirsting, but no water able to quench it. Absolute fatigue, with no sleep abating it. Longing with no possible relief. He could not imagine anything worse, because even that was robbed of him; he could literally not imagine. Hell was not some describable torture. Hell was primal, eternal boredom.

When the first tug came, when he actually felt something calling to him, he lunged for it, unable to resist. Oh, the sensation of it! He felt himself moving, felt it! Faster, pulling away from that infernal darkness. A wind that existed only in his mind kissed his form, and he reveled in its caress, Needed it! Reached for it, and felt his own movements!

Images, oh God, colors! Light coming together, slowly at first and then quickening. Shapes formed in the darkness, filled with color, grew into forms that he started to recognize. Pillows. Candles. Flames, flickering back and forth. Even so dull a light as theirs was near blinding to his sight-hungry eyes, but at least they were blinding! He could feel the pain, the delightful pain of their light within his eyes!

Smells, glorious, powerful smells! Burning sage, the hint of something warm and coppery. Sweet perfumes, so foreign already to his smell-starved mind, and yet somehow familiar. Heavy, earthen scents, like freshly dug soil. The smell of burning wax, of sulfur. God, how had he never noticed how good sulfur could smell? How could he ever have gagged at such a thing?

It was all real. A desperate need for air filled him, and he breathed in deep, harsh, gasping breaths. Pure, cool air filled his lungs, and he felt every wonderful bit of it. He became aware, finally, of sound. The crackle of flames overshadowed by a soft, low chant. Voices! His mind registered voices, softly whispering some language he didn’t know, but voices nonetheless.

He tried to sit up, aware that he was laying down. Something stopped him, and a strange, metallic clanking registered in his ears. Clanking? He looked towards his wrists, found them bound in heavy iron manacles.

“Wha…” his voice croaked, his brain remembering how to process speech, but a figure stepped forward from the chanters and laid a finger across his lips, silencing him. He looked up, confused, but comprehending, as the figure slipped back the hood that covered her head and hid her face in shadows.

“Cheryl?” James asked, incredulity in his voice. His wife, Cheryl, smiled, her glossy red lips parting to show her perfect teeth. The smile never reached her eyes.

“Yes, James. It’s  me, Cheryl. Do you remember what happened to you James?”

He blinked several times, confused, but a moment later, memory began to flood back to him. He remembered a car, his car, driving too fast down a dark country road. He remembered the road looked wet where it had not rained. He remembered his car skidding out beneath him. He remembered the squeal of tires, the smell of burning rubber, the shock of breaking glass. Instinctually, he tried to cover his face with his hands as memory of the glass shards flooded his brain, but the manacles prevented that.

Cheryl smiled knowingly.

“It was a terrible accident, James. Poor, poor James, speeding back home. But from where, James?”

He felt his face drain of color, a numbness go over her body. Could she know? How?

“It was from my place, Cheryl,” another woman’s voice chimed in. James felt his stomach flop. No…no, it couldn’t be!

It was. Anna, his mistress. Well, one of his mistresses.

“Imagine my surprise, lover boy, when I found out you were married,” Anna said. Her voice was pleasant but there was a hint of ice to it, a chilliness that terrified him.

“Or mine,” a third voice said. Fuck, not Ellie too.

“Or mine.”

“Or mine.”

God, no. James felt himself awash with panic. How could this be? How could they all have found each other? Cheryl, Anna, Ellie, Laura, Michelle, Saundra. All of his women. All his little toys. All he had lied to for so long.

“A funeral is a funny thing,” Cheryl said. “Sometimes, it brings people together you never would guess had a connection.”

“And sometimes, with their combined heartbreak, those people can do great things, discover talents they never knew they had,” Saundra said with a bit of bitter mirth to her voice.

His vision finally fully cleared, and James stared around the room in growing horror. His body, shackled to the floor, smelled of embalming fluid and soil. Around him, drawn on the floor in blood, a pentagram. At every point, a brazier filled with burning herbs. Sage, perhaps. And gathered there in a circle, every woman he had lied to. Cheated on, cheated with. Every lover he had taken to bed in the past six years of his marriage.

“We know what hell is like,” Laura said.

“We couldn’t bear the thought of you not feeling anything,” Ellie said.

“So we brought you back,” Cheryl said, her voice like ice, “We brought you back to make you feel.”

James screamed as the knife found his thigh, and upwards to his root. He writhed in agony as Cheryl twisted the blade there, at the pure, shattering pain of it.

“P…please,” he gasped, “D…d…don’t….”

“Don’t worry? Oh, we won’t, love boy,” Anna laughed. “We can bring you back as often as we want, whole as can be, healthy, fine, full of life.”

“And we will,” Michelle added, “Until we think you’ve truly felt the pain we’ve felt.”

The knife cut. James screamed. And soon, darkness returned.

For now.

#FFC52 – 2014 Flash Fiction Challenge Week 24 – “Big Trouble”


It’s that time again kiddos! This week, the lovely Thain in Vain challenges us with a prompt that took me a while to play with. However, I’m very happy with the following, a tale of big trouble, coming in at a neat 500 words on the nose.


My slap caught Little Bob square on his face, and for a second, his gibbering ceased.

“Calm yourself,” I growled, wiping my hand across my shirt. Little Bob about as greasy as a guy could get without qualifying for an EPA cleanup. His eyes darted back towards the basement door, which moments before, he’d crashed through and slammed in a panic.

So unprofessional. His pappy, Big Bob, was gonna be pissed. That was him, on the back of our jumpsuits, smiling with two cartoonish thumbs thrust in the air, surrounded by the words “Big Bob’s Big Bug Busters.” I’d been with the five B’s for around five years, which was about four years (and 9/10’s) longer than I had intended. But the pay was alright, and Big B was a pretty laid back guy to work for. Plus, I like killing bugs. Creepy little bastards. I turned my attention back on the Little B, Big B’s near-worthless man-child of a son. I had the pleasure of training him in the old man’s footsteps. It was going to take work. A lot of it.

“Now, why’d you come running up those stairs like that and slamming the door?” I asked.

“I saw one, Chuck.”

“Saw one?”

“A roach. A roach!”

My eyes could not have rolled faster.

“Well no shit, Sherlock. We’re fucking exterminators. That’s what we’re here for.”

“This one was different,” he whimpered, “Huge.”

I sighed. Every fucking bug was huge to Little B. Last week, it was the Case of the Monster Roly-Poly. That thing had to have been, what, 3/4 of an inch? The week before, the Case of the Enormous Mosquito. Maybe a quarter of an inch. I was getting the impression that Little B just wasn’t cut out for the family business.

“Look, you stay up here, ok? Spray the cabinets or something. I’ll hit the basement.”

His skin turned an ashy white, but he just nodded. Whatever. I opened the door, and descended the steps.

The lights were out. Great. I reached up, flipped on my head lamp, and looked around for the telltale scurry of the common german cockroach.

Then I saw it.

It was a good thing I was wearing a headlamp, or I’d have dropped the light. As it was, I stood, paralyzed.

Little B was right. I’d seen some big ones in my time, but this one…..this one was huge. It had to be the size of a good sized dog, though all flat and low to the ground. I swear I heard its antennae creak as they waved about in the air. My breath, which had fled the moment I’d caught it in the light, finally came back, and I began to slowly back towards the stairs.

That’s when I heard the scream. Little B.

Oh, shit.

Big B’s first rule of cockroaches popped into my head.

For every roach you see, there’s a hundred more in the walls, waiting for dinner.

The walls began to creak.


“People F#cking Suck” – from 1,000 Awesome Writing Prompts by Ryan Andrew Kinder… (NSFW, AC, TRIGGER WARNING)

It’s time once more for a prompt from 1,000 Awesome Writing Prompts by Ryan Andrew Kinder…

This week’s prompt is a darker one, indeed.

#814. Write from the perspective of a people trafficker.

 I’m giving myself 20 minutes to write this. Wish me luck.

**Done with 8 seconds to spare. Thank God. I feel more than a little slimy after writing this.**


Don’t say you weren’t warned.

“People F#cking Suck”

Most people would call me a monster. I don’t know, though. I’ve seen monsters. Real ones. Guys that do things that make even the most hardened badass in some Central American backwater prison have nightmares about. Heavy shit, man. Fucking crazy shit. Me? I just traffic people. Move em from point A to point B, pick up a little green (both the spending kind and the smoking kind) and that’s that.

Yeah, yeah, oh my god, don’t I realize they’re people? Yeah, of course the fuck I realize they’re people. That’s why the job pays so well, isn’t it? Thing is, you live long enough in this world, long enough in my world, and you begin to realize something. People fucking suck. They do. All of them. You, me, and the trembling little girls in the back of my van. We all suck.

I won’t lie, I used to have empathy for them. Most of them. But a lot of these girls? They come from places that would make you vomit just to walk a hundred yards from, let alone live in. These girls aren’t random kidnap victims, enslaved brutally like the movies would have you believe. Ok, well, most of them aren’t. Most of the girls I move were sold to us by their own families. Their own fucking families. You get that? Their own mothers or fathers or siblings or aunts or uncles or fucking grandparents brought them to my employer, who paid a ridiculously small amount of money, and then gave them to me. To move.

You know why they sold them? Two things, usually. One, simple greed. People fucking suck, remember? And greed runs the world, buddy. Greed runs the world. You wouldn’t believe it, but the highest call for these little packages are to some of the richest bastards in the wealthiest, most “civilized” countries. They fucking suck too. So much god damned money they sometimes literally wipe their ass with it. They get bored. They can have anything, so the get anything. Including fresh young girls to play with, till they get bored with them too, and then bam, back in the van, and off to the next dude who can’t quite afford first pick. Sick, sucky people.

Reason two? The place they came from was such a god awful hell hole that there literally was nothing better in the world for them than being sold into slavery for sex. Their families believed, no, fuck that, knew that the only chance they had for a better life was one spent on their back in some foreign city, carted around by some fuckwad like me and staying just a step ahead of the authorities. Sure, some girls get scared. Some find ways to get loose, escape, get to the cops wherever the fuck we are. They ruin things for the rest of em. We have to pack up quick then. Get em on the van and move before we all get fucking hung.

Thing is, that one girl, that one stupid selfish girl who had to run off? You know what she did for her “sisters”? She fucked em, royally. See, when we set up someplace new, when there’s no feds or government types sniffing up our asses, we have the time to vet some of the customers. Not all of them, mind you – go back to reason one if you want to know why – but a lot of em. Enough that the girls we set up don’t have it all that bad. Sure, they gotta spread their legs at someone else’s whim, but fuck, how’s that any different from marriage in the fucking warzone they came from? At least with us, they get cleaned up. They see docs. Gotta keep the good healthy, after all.

But when a girl gets loose, we gotta pull stakes. Yank the other girls from whatever situation they are in, some of them pretty cozy. We gotta hit the road, and more often than not, ditch the merchandise at the first chance we get. That can go one of two ways too. Either we sell them to some cheap fucking pimp who’s gonna use em, abuse em, and then ditch them when they are too broken, bruised, or diseased to be of use. Or we kill them. Simple as that. Take them out in a desert and just leave them in a locked van. It’s easier that way.

So that girl, the one that got away? She fucking sucks. The pimps? Fucking suck. The johns? Fucking suck. The families? Fucking suck?

But me? I’m just a guy who drives a van.

And yeah. I fucking suck.

2014 Flash Fiction Challenge, Week 20 – “Carrion Carriage”


Ok, so it may seem a little strange to post to weeks worth of challenge responses in a row, but I found Thain in Vain’s current prompt to be very inspiring. Here’s hoping my darker dreamings are as entertaining as the lighter fare…

Here we go, with “Carrion Carriage”

“What a morbid piece,” Janey said, shuddering.

“Carrion Carriage,” Doug said, reading the nameplate. “Appropriately named.”

The canvas was almost black. In the center was an old-fashioned horse and buggy. Both were black, but with a strange, sickly green aura effect that allowed them to stand out on the dark canvas. The horse was nearly skeletal, bones showing through tattered skin, its eye sockets hollow. On the driver’s bench, a skeleton clad in a heavy cloak, a fine top hat perched upon its bony brow.

“It’s actually kind of stunning,” Doug said, staring closer at the piece. “The amount of detail is amazing, considering it’s all painted in black and that kind of yellow-green. The shading is impeccable, all fine lines mixed with hatching to give the illusion of depth.”

“Enough of the art critique, Doug. I don’t like it.”

“Look!” Doug exclaimed, ignoring her protests, “There’s even a passenger in the carriage. The lines are so faint as to be barely visible but…”

Doug stopped, pulled back. Drew closer again, and stared.

“Holy shit, Janey, it looks just like you!”

“Stop it, Doug!”

“No, really! Ha! That’s why you don’t like it, isn’t it? Christ, Janey, it’s just a coincidence. This thing’s like a hundred years old.”

“Can we go now?” Janey said with a sniff. Doug relented, with a last glance back at the painting as they left the gallery.

A month later, Janey was dead. The sniff at the gallery had turned into a terrible congestion, the congestion into a nasty cough, the cough into a raging fever…and then it was over. It rained at her funeral. A week of sun before, sky clear as it could be, then storm clouds the morning of, thick, roiling, black, angry things, filling the sky and blotting out the sun.

Doug stood in the rain for a long time after. Everyone else was gone. His parents, her parents. Friends. Family. Just him, the rain, and her muddy grave. He’d long since lost track of the wetness on his face, which drops were tears, which were rain. Suddenly, he felt himself struck by the urge to run. Soaked to the bone, wearing his wool suit, he ran, breath ragged, heart pounding. He had no idea where he was going, he just felt the need to go.

And there it was. The gallery. His heart sank, then his anger pulsed. It was the painting, the god damned painting! He rushed through the gallery door, straight to the canvas. He ran up, wanting, needing to see her face again.

It wasn’t there. The carriage was empty.

The cold of the gallery began to seep through his clothes. He shivered, sighed, then turned away to leave. He must have imagined it. He must have. As he slouched towards the door, another young man walked past him, looking at the painting.

“Huh!” the young man exclaimed, “Mister, did you notice? The passenger looks just like you!”

Doug sniffed, coughed, and shivered.

Another prompt from 1,000 Awesome Writing Prompts by Ryan Andrew Kinder…

#848. Reincarnation is a reality; you’re on your tenth reincarnation and remember all your previous lives. You realize that in each body, you’ve been murdered.

“Serial Murdered”

I guess he fucked up this time. Sure, he pushed me off the roof, but I got lucky in the fall. Parts of me are broken, badly, but I’m alive. And more important than alive…I remember.

It must have been the knock I took to the head when I landed. I remember before it, the shock of horror, the rush of the ground as I flew towards it, and then…so much more. Memories flooding my mind, like simultaneously watching nine different movies ut being able to understand and comprehend every single one. And the star of the movies? Me.

Sort of.

You see, I recognize myself in every image, every memory, even though every image is from a different person. In this one, I’m a pilot in some war…WWI perhaps? I keep thinking “the Great War” when I see them, so it must be. In that one, I’m an escaped slave, I think. That’d explain the broken chain and the shackles. In another, a…well, let’s just say a lady of the evening. I won’t explain how I know that one.

All different people. All me. All with different lives, with one thing that ties them all together. I get murdered, every time.

I wonder if it’s the same for him, the guy who shoved me off the roof. I’ve seen him wear ten different faces, but just the same, I can tell it’s the same guy. We share that, I can tell. This strange connection, this cosmic magnetism that draws us together and always ends violently. Does he consciously know why he’s doing it? In some of my memories, it is clear that what he intended. The vile bounty hunter, taking my head in a dark swamp in the heat of a Georgia summer. The wicked cowboy with his hands around my throat as I struggle to scream. In others, he is more dispassionate. The German ace on the wing, his guns sputtering out a hail of death, nobly saluting as my life flees my body. The cop whose barrel still smokes as he cuts me down for the crime of stealing a piece of candy – maybe he thought it was a weapon? It doesn’t matter. Every one ends the same. Him, the murderer. Me, the murdered. Every time a clean, if brutal death.

Not this time, though. This time, something changed. I don’t know how I survived the fall, but I did. I can hear the sirens coming, and somehow, I know he’s fled. He won’t stick around to gloat. That’s never been his style. I didn’t even see his face this time, he fled so quickly.

But I live. I do…and now I know what I have to do. I have to stop this cycle. This is my one chance, my one hope to get him before he gets me, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to waste it! This time, I’ll win. I’ll kill him, I’ll make him feel the way every death has felt to me. Make him live with the pain, the horror, the guilt, everything.

God, I fucking hurt, though. Can’t move, but I feel. I’ll be on my feet soon enough, and then I’ll end this. The ambulance is pulling up now. Just in time…my vision is fading. I must have jarred an ocular nerve or something. No matter. Even blind men can have revenge.

I smile when they lift me on to the stretcher. I try to laugh, but it comes out as painful coughing, as they put me in the back of their truck. I feel the engine start, hear the sirens wail. They’ll have me patched up good as new soon, I know it.

“This is going to hurt.”

A woman’s voice. Strange. Dispassionate.

I feel a sharp burn as a needle pierces my arm. A hot pain suddenly shooting through my veins. My eyes flutter, my sight returns.

Oh God.

It’s him. Except, he’s her. But no…no! The pusher? The guy on the roof? It has to be…


Her finger touches my lips.

This is new. This has never happened.

In his/her face…mercy.

Next time…





(Link to the book!)