Bartering Life

Hello lovely readers!

My story Bartering Life was selected for the Spring Issue of Sleet Magazine. Go check it out!

It starts out as a large bag of other people’s garbage, meticulously found over a week’s time. It is then sorted between plastics and other. The other he trades to Tim for chicken meat. The plastic is further sorted between color and clear for washing, but first he has to give two sacs to Nijari to access her water source.

Then, the washing begins. His soggy hands crack and bleed due to years of overuse, a cost of business that stings as he dips them once again in soap.

Finish here!


Carry On

Photo Credit: Paul Townsend via CC.

Photo Credit: Paul Townsend via CC.

“Carry everything you own,” the Announcement had said, posted on every door in the city.

Later, we learned that we had to take it all on our backs. When possessions are reduced to that, it’s easy to pick and choose what’s important. I was shocked how quickly the gadgets fell away to leave room for journals and photo albums.

Now the rain falls on our ten-by-ten shelter, the neighbors encroach on our borders but under the orange tint of the tent, we’ve found home.

My mother strokes my hair as I let the rain soothe me. I drift in and out of sleep as life continues on.

Written for Micro Bookends

Living Forest

I cannot see. I feel the cold, wet, air on my skin. The heavy taste of it chokes in my throat. I hear the rustling of the things nearby – predators, prey, maybe the wind; but I cannot see.

The ground gives under my feet, the mud encloses me with each step. It wants to pull me into its grips, it wants to take me and suck out every bit of nutrient within my body for its nearby roots. This forest is alive, every forest is alive, and anyone who thinks otherwise is vulnerable.

I am walking to the Tree. It is a journey we all take. If we fail we die; if we succeed, we are welcomed back as Grown. I want to be Grown, then I’ll receive a similarly Grown partner and we will be assigned a family unit and –

My ankle curls and I reach out into the darkness to stop from falling but there is nothing to brace myself against. I hit the mud. It curls around my hands and knees. I blink away the tears and struggle against the sinking. Fear sparks and it races my thoughts, this creeping fear can take over my focus and cloud my judgment. Then, I’ll be lost.

“The Tree is located in a straight line from here,” the Grown had told me. My direction must stay the same even as I flail against the mud.

I lunge left, then right. Then, finally, my hand finds the root of a tree. Not the Tree but something in the darkness that I can pull against. I pull too hard, though. I flip over the root and land on my back. I am facing a different direction now. I know this, just as I know I cannot distinguish which way I was before. The mud is creeping again, crawling over my neck and into my ears, up my nose. I am sinking.

I close my eyes. I see the family plot and my very own partner and she is reaching for me. I close my eyes to see better, to see and feel and –

Use this three-word phrase in any part of your story:

“this creeping fear”

Anthropomorphic Roots

By the Victors

Written for this past week’s Flash!Friday

Warning: Violence

I know all about humanity’s stupidity; I am a historian. Yet, I have fallen all the same.

They came into our home through the backyard. A simple shadow that grew into an entire platoon and by then it was too late. Every warning, every caution to flee, every hole in my own security – they all flashed through my mind as the butt of a gun smashed the sliding glass door. Then they killed my dog and time sped up.

“Get down!” A man in body armor yelled. I could see the blood spilling from my Labrador’s side, his paw shaking in its last movement. His face morphed into my son’s.

“Search the house!”

I struggled against the knee on my back, trying to turn my face towards the soldier as he pressed, cutting off each breath. “My son – daughter –”

He lifted my head by my hair and slammed my face to the ground.

Another shot somewhere down the hall my children slept – my wife. I screamed.

Blood, so much blood and I couldn’t tell if it’s mine or my pup’s or my children or wife’s. My eyes blurred.

A head lowered towards my ear. It hissed like a snake. “Hello Professor, remember me? We’ve come to collect your books. Your version of history just lost the war.”

Riot Police. CC2.0 photo by Thomas Hawk.

Riot Police. CC2.0 photo by Thomas Hawk.

Character: Historian; Conflict: Man v. Society


“I remember color, but it’s a blur.  Like all memories you can’t quite remember,” Ay told her sister Bee as she picked at a loose thread unraveling from the gray circle rug. They were sitting in the middle of their main room, waiting for the truck to deliver dinner.

“We still have prescribed “Vibrant Zones”; there’s plenty of color there.” Bee reminded Ay.

Ay knows about the Vibrant Zones, where you walk in and are handed a shirt at random – she liked the yellow ones the best but for some reason they always handed her red.

It is probably because of her hair color. The same hair she’s supposed to start dying this year. Entering the workplace requires monochrome.

“What was it like when there was color everywhere?”

The memories are a blur of people on buses, purple next to gold next to brown next to orange. “It was beautiful.”

“But distracting,” Bee supplied, dutifully.

Ay nods in agreement because she should, because together, nodding, they are both the same.

underwater Millenium-walkway movie_stills6

Written for Blog Propellant’s Picture Prompt #15