Saturday, May 18, 2013

Another excerpt from Goodbye Sunshine

Here is another excerpt from my short story, Goodbye Sunshine. The full version is here

I didn’t sleep, but I wasn’t awake either. I had no idea how much time had passed. Something crawled around inside the wall. I opened my eyes. I could make the electrical outlets in the darkness, but it was more like knowing they were there than actually seeing them.

The memory of the night before returned. In a moment of panic, I pushed against my neck, applying enough pressure to stop the bleeding. There was no pain. My skin felt moist from sweat, but the thick, congealed blood that should have been there was gone. I couldn’t even find the hole in my throat. I reached for the gash in my lip. It wasn’t even chapped.

I stirred from the bed. My heart pounded, threatening to burst forth.  I could feel the blood run through every artery in my body. I sat up slowly. Pain lanced every muscle, but the more I moved, the more the pain dissipated. The room was dark, but I knew where everything was. I couldn’t see the door, and yet I knew exactly where it was.

I heard nothing in the next room. Everything seemed brighter. Two of the young girls from the night before lay on the couch, wrapped in each other’s arms. They faced each other with their heads resting on a single cushion. Everyone else was gone.

I stepped toward them. They didn’t move. I couldn’t see their chests rise or fall with their breathing. I put a hand on the shoulder of one of them and shook her gently. She slid toward me and I caught her before she hit the floor. She looked up at me blankly. Just under her ear, I saw the inside of her throat where it had been torn open.

I jumped back, releasing her. She collapsed to the floor in a heap. The one next to her on the couch continued to stare at where the girl used to be, her eyes just as dead, and her throat ripped open at the same spot. I saw not a single bloodstain.

I charged for the door. I don’t make it two steps. Five or six pairs of hands came out of nowhere, wrapping themselves around me. They held me in place as I tried to push them away. I screamed so loud they had to have heard me in downtown. A hand went across my mouth, stifling me. They lifted me in the air and carefully set me down in a chair across from the two dead girls where I could see them clearly. They released me one by one. The one holding her hand over my mouth released me last. She whispered in my ear.

“Stop, child. You sound foolish.”

The others snickered, but she silenced them with a gesture. The girl moved around to the front of the overstuffed chair, and her eyes locked on me. I had seen her last night. She still wore capris with small shoes and a skin-tight shirt with no bra. She pushed aside a lock of her brown hair. She couldn’t have been more than sixteen. She was pretty, but nothing like Clara.

“The sun’s coming up.” She said “sun” like a curse. There are no windows in the basement, but I know she’s right. I can feel it.

She ran her hand across my forehead. “Yes, you feel it, don’t you?” She patted me on the cheek. “Rest now. Rest for tonight.”

I mumbled something at her. It took too much energy to work my tongue. I leaned forward in the chair, my arms hanging off the sides of the stuffed armrests. I wanted to sleep, but I couldn’t. I tried to stay awake, but I couldn’t do that either.

“Yes.” She stroked my cheek with the back of her hand. “Don’t sleep. Rest.”

I go into a daze, not moving, not sleeping, but not awake either. I’m aware of everything. I sensed them dragging the bodies out of the room. I could feel the rest curling up in different parts of the room. I knew I should be terrified, but I just didn’t care.  Soon, I sensed nothing as the coma overtook me.

Read more here.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Excerpt from Goodbye Sunshine

Here's an excerpt from my horror short novel, Goodbye Sunshine. Another excerpt can be found here.

     I sipped my coffee while staring at the half-eaten muffin in front of me. I didn’t recall the name of the coffee shop. I only knew it wasn’t a Starbucks. Out the window, I could see the Crossroads Theater.
     Earlier she pulled me into the front seat and stuffed the body into the back. She ripped off the cowling around the steering column and hotwired the car like a pro. After driving us here, she had the car taken away for disposal by one of the men in suits back at our home.
     Our home, I thought. It’d only been the second night and I was starting to think like them.
     I couldn’t tell if I was drinking coffee or dirty water, and the muffin went down like wet cardboard. I shoved it aside, only to have Clara shove it back.
     “No.” Her voice was firm but quiet. “Finish it, my love. It’s necessary now, but in time you will no longer need it.”
     “How much time?”
     She tilted her head to the side slightly. “Two weeks, maybe less. But you’ll get used to it all in a week.”
     I swallowed the pasty mix of muffin and coffee. I remembered getting out of the car and feeling the blood spread throughout my body, filling every organ, and even spreading into my limbs. The hunger disappeared into the background of my mind, diminished but not forgotten.
     She sat across from me in the coffee shop, looking spectacular. The blood at the corner of her mouth was gone and she had buttoned up her blouse once more, though I didn’t remember when she did that. She adjusted my clothes and wiped something off my lips as if she were my mother.
     I looked around. It wasn’t quite midnight yet, and we were the only ones there. A pimply faced kid sat on a stool behind the counter, dozing.
     “What are you anyway?”
     “We,” she said. “What are we?”
     I waited quietly for her to answer. I’d had enough drama and wanted to tell her off. Then I remembered the broken car door and decided silence was the better part of sarcasm. After a moment, she answered, her voice barely over a whisper.
     The word sounded familiar. I uttered it aloud, but it didn’t feel right. I knew the word, at least I thought I did, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. It was like trying to define verisimilitude or some other ridiculously large word. I knew it, but I also didn’t.
     She sensed my confusion. “Creatures of legend. We drink the blood of the living.”
     Her explanation rang a bell, but… “I don’t get it. I should know what you’re saying but—”
     “But you’ve forgotten,” she said. “Tell me, do you know where you live?”
     “Yeah, over on….” I pointed in some random direction, but I couldn’t be sure if it was the right way. I could see the street. I could see the building I lived in for the past five years, but I didn’t know the address. I couldn’t rattle off the nearest intersection to save my life.
     I started to rise. A fight-or-flight urge rose up in me and I wanted out of there fast. She didn’t give me the chance. Before I was halfway out of my seat, she pointed a finger at me and glanced at the dozing kid on the other side of the counter. She made a motion across her throat. Now it wasn’t just me on the line, but the kid as well. I sat down, forcing the panic away.
     She sat watching me for a moment. She gave me a small smile and then stood, sending her chair back a couple of feet. The kid behind the counter still didn’t react.
     “I will see you back home.”
     I panicked again. As much as I hated her, watching her walk out the door was too much to bear. “You’re leaving?”
     Her laugh was playful. “You think you’ll never see me again? We have forever to get to know each other.”
     “What if I run?”
     She narrowed her eyes. “You know better.”
     “Do I? I can’t seem to remember where I live, so I’m pretty sure I’ll forget where you live.”
     She looked at the college boy behind the counter once more. He didn’t react. He was either staring at his blackberry or catching up on the sleep that college students constantly missed.
     “You will know.” She leaned over the table. “In two weeks, you will forget everything, even this conversation. You will be a blank slate for me to write upon.” Her voice dropped to a whisper no human could hear, but I could. “But you will always know home.”
     She left, reaching the door so fast I almost didn’t see her. A bell chimed as she opened it, sending the college boy into a minor fit that nearly knocked him off his stool. She watched me out of the corner of her eye for a moment before disappearing into the Denver night.
     Even at my age, I still called Dad for advice. He seemed to know everything. I bet he didn’t know about this, and I didn’t think he would know what to do. I could still remember the phone number. I didn’t have my cell, but I could find a phone somewhere and call him collect.
     And that’s when I finally understood. This was all real. I knew in the car, but I didn’t accept it until that moment. It all sank in as I sat in a coffee shop whose name I could not recall when I realized I also could not recall my father’s name.

Read more here.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Beginning of "Season of Bliss"

The following is the beginning of my short novel, Season of Bliss. The full novel can be found here.

You can also find excerpts here and here.

     Sasha shivered as she tugged at the thin gown. Why did examination rooms always have to be cold?
     “Ms. Merigole.” Doctors excelled at giving grim news. She assumed they had a lot of practice. Her doctor gestured at a series of lines on a monitor, as if she could understand what they meant. Things weren’t good, but she’d known that for a while.
     The thin bed mattress adjusted itself as she shifted. In theory, the automatic adjustments made a patient more comfortable, but she hadn’t felt comfortable for a long time.
     “We’ve been over this,” he said. He was concerned. If only she shared the feeling.
     “I know, Doctor.” They’d had this conversation before.
     He chewed his lip for a minute.
     “I’m extending your prescription,” he said at last. “You should continue taking them, even while blissing.”
     “Doctor, I won’t be—”
     “Sasha.” In the almost six years she had been his patient, he’d never called her by her first name. “The damage to your heart is considerable but not irreversible.”
     She nodded. “I’ll take the pills.”
     “The pills keep the pain to a minimum, but they won’t save you. The damage is too extensive.” He clicked off the monitor. “You need to bliss.”
     Bliss. Sasha hated that word. “That won’t happen, Doctor.”
     “If you don’t, you probably won’t survive.”
     Her shoulders sagged. What could she do? Without Andrew, there could be no bliss.
     The doctor tapped his tablet and sent the prescription to Sasha’s own tablet, which beeped inside her purse.
     “I also want to give you this.” Her tablet beeped again. “It’s an address to a blissing center.”
     She closed her eyes, trying to control her irritation. “Doctor…”
     “Sasha.” He tapped his tablet with his pen. He was older. His last bliss must have been years before. So was Sasha’s, for that matter, but for different reasons.
     “It’s not far from where you live. Just stop by. Please?”
     Sasha stood. “I’ll take the pills.”
     “We have had this discussion. What you are going through is normal. Others—”
     “Thank you, Doctor.”
     Sasha waited for him to continue to protest. Instead, he just nodded. “Contact me if you have any questions.”
     He left the examination room so she could change back into her clothes.
     Once the door closed, she picked up the tablet. She didn’t bother looking at the address before deleting it.


     The wet grass soaked Sasha’s dress as she knelt. She brushed the leaves from the stone. The rain had stopped just as she arrived. The city superstructure loomed above, without overshadowing the graveyard.      Thunder reverberated in the distance.
     This would be her third bliss without him. During the last bliss, two years ago, paramedics found her in her apartment after her tablet notified them of her distress. She recalled begging them to leave her, but they wouldn’t. The woman stroked Sasha’s forehead, telling her it would be okay. Both she and the man with her were on the edge of tears, and Sasha remembered they held hands at one point. They looked older. They probably hadn’t blissed in some time, but remained bound together until death. Watching them made her feel worse.
     She had stood to leave when her tablet chimed. She looked at the ID and smiled as she answered. “Hi, Kay.”
     The background behind Kay bounced as she walked while staring at her tablet. From the looks of it, she was in the prime minister’s home. “Oh God, have you seen the news?”
     Sasha smiled. Kay was never one for small talk. “I’m fine, Kay. How are you?”
     “Sorry, but you need to see this.” Kay spoke to someone off camera, but Sasha couldn’t hear what she said. “We’ll catch up later. Oh, and the boss wants to hire you.”
     “Me? Why?”
     “The paper you published in school. Remember?”
     Sasha had written a number of papers, but only one caught widespread notice. “Not…”
     “Yes, girl, that one.”
     “But… but that one was about what if someone from a lost human colony visited us.”
     Sasha looked up. Along the sidewalk near the graveyard, a young man in an expensive suit held a tablet tightly, as if he were afraid it would get away from him. Several others crowded around him, entranced by whatever it was they watched. On the other side of the street, an elderly couple held hands as they watched their own tablet. Even from that distance, Sasha could tell they looked grim.
Sasha looked back at Kay’s image. “What’s going on?”
     “Like I said, watch the news.” Kay disconnected. She always had a flare for the dramatic, even as a schoolgirl. For her, everything was an emotional uproar, blown out of proportion.
     But something different was under Kay’s playful tone, similar to when Andrew died.
     Sasha brought up the news. Less than a minute later, she knew nothing would be the same.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Probably legit

I just got this email. Maybe one of my characters from Beyond the Sky sent it.

Subject: (No Subject)

I am a spell caster from the Dark hole of African. Come tell me
what are you passing through in life or any type of your
problems is and I will have a solution to that problem.
We specialized in the followings
_____ marriage spell
______ exams spell
_____ divorce spell
_______ success spell
_______ job spell
_______ good health spell
______ love spell
_______ protection spell
________ prosperity spell
______ lottery spell
______ magic spell
_______ travel spell
______ money making spell
______ ex back spell

Magic spell seems kind of vague. Don't they all fall under that? And ex back spell? Wish they had an ex-go-away spell.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Excerpt from "Season of Bliss"

Here's another excerpt from my short novel, Season of Bliss:

     She had just gotten the bread out of the refrigerator when she heard the scratching. Her first thought was the neighbor’s car outside her door, but then someone knocked on the door. Her heart thumped. She put a dab of lotion on her hands and headed for the door, checking her hair in the hall mirror first.
     Jester stood there without the usual security. Presumably, they were downstairs waiting. His smile lit up his face. “Your court jester is here.” He bowed ridiculously low.
     She snickered and returned his bow with an old-fashioned curtsey. “My lord.”
     “You look wonderful.”
     She’d decided blue would be best. “Thank you.”
     She gestured for him to come in. Before closing the door, she took a quick look up and down the hall. Nothing.
     “Is there a problem?” he asked.
     “No, I just thought I heard something scratching at the door.”
     He grimaced. “Ah, that was me. It’s a custom on my world to scratch at a door. I did it before I remembered your people prefer knocking.”
     “Oh.” She allowed herself a moment to take him in. He wore the suit she’d bought him as if born in it, and his hair matched local styles. As amazing as it was, he really was more handsome than when she first met him.
     “Look what they gave me.” He held up a tablet. “I’ve been using it to watch the news and some entertainment.” He looked at the tablet screen. “Very, uh, interesting.”
     “Oh no. I hope you’re not judging us based off that.”
     “Well, I’ll admit some of the shows seem confusing.” He folded up the tablet and put it in his jacket pocket. “Actually, they’re similar to what we have back home. Especially the news. There’s very little difference, really. From what I’ve read back home, all human civilizations seem to have something similar to journalism.”
     “I’m sorry to hear that.”
     He gave a short laugh. “Yeah, me too.”
     She watched him smile, feeling her heartbeat grow faster. She could watch him all day. “So how is life on the base?”
     He shrugged. “Takes getting used to.”
     “I’m sure.”
     “Your people do everything public, don’t they?” he asked. “Shower, shave, uh… bathroom.”
     “We normally do that in private, but we aren’t offended by shared ones, so long as they’re divided by gender.”
     “Interesting. Back home we had a lot more privacy about such things. It just takes getting used to, I imagine.” He scratched his head. “I do have a question, if you don’t mind.”
     “Not at all.”
     “What exactly is a sandwich?”
     It was a sensible question, but she still couldn’t suppress her giggle. She feared she’d insulted him, but he only smiled at her reaction as he stood watching her with his hands in his pockets. It reminded her of how Andrew looked at her on their first date. The thought of Andrew brought back the last dream she had of him two weeks prior. The dream troubled her even then. It was as if Andrew were saying good-bye forever. She hadn’t dreamed about him since.
     “Did I say something wrong?”
     She forced herself to smile again. “No, it’s not that, it’s…” She hesitated. It was not time to relive the past. “I’m still making them—the sandwiches, I mean. I can show you.”
     He followed her into the kitchen, looking at every piece of furniture they passed as if it were all new to him. It probably was.
     She had everything laid out. “Here, you can help me.” She pointed at the bread. “Take two slices and put them on a plate.”
     He did so, examining each slice as he did. She showed him how to stack everything properly. He seemed to recognize the ham, cheese, and lettuce, but other items confused him.
     “Tomato? What’s that like?”
     “You’ll have to wait and see, won’t you?”
     “I know what that is.” He pointed at the mustard jar, which was almost empty. He sniffed at the mayonnaise. “But not this. What is it like? Wait. Let me guess: I’ll have to wait and see?”
     “You got it.” Sasha reached for the mayonnaise and stopped. Something occurred to her. “Can you have mayonnaise?”
     “Why couldn’t I?”
     “Well,” she said, “your biology is different. I’d think you’d be unable to eat at least some foods.”
     “Not so far.” Jester put his hand on his chest. “I have internal nano-machines that can break down anything I digest. I could probably eat foods you could never touch.”
     She smiled. “Are you bragging?”
     He shrugged. “Maybe.”
     In no time, the sandwiches were ready. She put them in plastic containers and placed everything else back in the refrigerator. She removed the two thermoses of tea she made earlier and set them on the counter. The refrigerator shifted to the side a little when she shut it.
     “Is that common?”
     “Is what common?”
     He pointed at wheels at the base of the refrigerator. “Do you move these often?” He gestured at the pantry. “This has them too.”
     She placed the thermoses in the basket. “Oh yes. That’s normal.”
     “It looks like they’ve been there for a while.”
     She looked at the cobwebs that had gathered. The last time she moved them was the last time she blissed, when Andrew was last with her. “Yes, it has been.”
     He nodded and looked back at the sandwiches in their containers. “I can’t wait to taste this.”
     She was thankful he always managed to avoid asking questions about what bothered her. “You don’t have sandwiches on your world?”
     “No picnics either.”
     That made her feel sad. “That’s too bad.”
     “I never thought about it before.”
     She pulled out a stylus from its holder on the side of the refrigerator. “I didn’t mean anything.”
     “I know.”
     “Well, I hope you like it. The sandwich and the picnic.” She wrote a note on the refrigerator to buy more mustard. “I’ve always loved sandwiches.”
     He nodded, but he didn’t seem to be listening. “What are you doing?”
     “Leaving myself a note.” She tapped the message with her finger to save it. “If I don’t, I’ll forget it.”
     “May I try?”
     She shrugged and handed him the stylus. “You don’t have anything like this back home?”
     He shook his head and wrote something down. His handwriting was poor, but legible. I like sandwiches.
     “Do you now?”
     He gestured at the message with the stylus. “Well, I’m trying to think positively.”
     “So you think you might not like it?”
     “No, of course not, I just…” He trailed off and stared at where he’d written. “Where’d it go?”
     She tried to suppress a smile. “You have to save it.”
     “Save it?”
     “Here.” She took the stylus and wrote. You better like the sandwiches. She touched it with her finger. “Like that.”
     “I see.” He ran his hand across the words. “Why doesn’t it save it automatically?”
     “Well, it can, but if I touch it to save it, it helps me remember I wrote down a message in the first place.”
     “So it’s a reminder that you have a reminder.”
     She narrowed her eyes at him but couldn’t suppress her grin. “Yes. You have a problem with that?”
     He held up his hands. “Oh no. Of course not.” He gestured at her note. “So, what if I don’t like it?”
     “What, my reminders?”
     “No. I meant the sandwich.”
     She shook her head at him. “You sure you want an answer to that? You helped make them, after all.”
     “Oh, so if I don’t like them, it would be my fault.”
     She nodded, wagging the stylus at him. He took it from her and wrote under her note. I claim only partial responsibility for any potential like or dislike of said sandwiches.
     “You mean, of course, full responsibility.”
     “That depends if I like the sandwiches.”
     She put her hands on your hips. “Oh, I see. So if you like them you take full responsibility, and if you don’t, I take responsibility.”
     “No, only partial responsibility.”
     She tried—and failed—to keep the grin off her face. “Not acceptable.”
     “Well, it’s permanent, so you’ll have to…” He stared at what he’d written—or, at least, where it used to be. He’d forgotten to touch it and save it. “Well, that does take some getting used to.”
She took the stylus from him. “We’re going to be late.” She replaced it in its holder and reached for the picnic basket.
     “The park’s not going anywhere.” He reached for the stylus, and she held it out of reach. “What, I can’t have the last word?”
     “No.” She reached for the picnic basket. “You want your sandwich or not?”
     “Only if I like it.”
     She slapped him on the arm. “You will like it.”
     “Or else?”
     She tried to frown, but it came out a grin. “Or else.”
     “Does that mean you’re taking full responsibility, then?”
     Her jaw tightened. “Let’s go.”
     She gripped the basket tightly as they left her apartment. He couldn’t stop snickering, even when they were in the car.

The full story is available here.