Category Archives: Writing

Flash Fiction: The Bar of the Afterlife reserved for rulers

There is an afterlife. There are many of them, but that is not germane to this story.

In the lounge of the afterlife reserved for those who lead states and nations, Ramesses II, former Pharaoh of Egypt, sat at the bar, alone. The television was not turned to a dead channel, rather, it was, as always , showing the doing of current world leaders. Ramesses has watched his successors, Roman Emperors, Chinese rulers, Mongol Khans and more have paraded over the gigantic screen.

After all, it pays to know who will be joining you in that afterlife one day. No one admitted who created the thing, but it was older than him.

On screen today was Donald J Trump, President Elect of the United States (and what was that, electing their rulers? Weren’t they tired of that yet?) spouting lies and half truths. Part of the screen showed his running twitter feed. That was full of lies and half truths, too.

“Amateur!” Ramesses muttered into his beer. Hopefully Jadwiga would be up and about soon. She owed him a game of chess.

The unexpected Candidate

Marion, IA

“We don’t have a candidate.” Brown said, wiggling his fingers like bait on a hook. “With Howard lying in that hospital bed, we just don’t have a prayer.”

“End of the road for all of us. One little heart attack, in a healthy young man.” Green said, pursing his lips. “End of the gravy train, and we only had just begun. We spent all this money in advance, and for nothing. Nothing.” He threw a paper coffee cup at a wastebasket, missed. He didn’t retrieve the misfired missile.

“We could try and put someone else out there.” Brown said. “Might as well. Would help us all get on our feet while we look for other campaigns to jump ship into. Practice, if nothing else.”
“A sacrificial goat” Victoria said. “But who? Is the local theater company looking for work?”

“I’ve seen that movie. That’s not a good idea.” Brown said.

“What else have we got?” Green said. “One of *us*? It just has to be for a few weeks, right?”

In the corner, with a laptop in front of him, Ned looked up. This was the moment, the moment he had seen in the dream, when the winged figure told him that his sins were forgiven, that his fortunes were going to change, that he was blessed by the Lord. The angel had told him that the way would be made for him, opportunity for him to bring the Word to America, and restore it, in his Name. And she had called him by his real name, his birth name. That’s how he knew it was real. He hadn’t even thought of it in years.

The staffers for Congressman Howard’s campaign all looked at each other. A half dozen people, none of them willing to act. It was a sign, a signal. Ned could see it.

“I should.” Ned rose from the chair as he began to speak., He could feel the power within him. He could see it in their eyes. “I should be the one to carry on Mr. Hornsback’s campaign. We’ve got the money already spent, we might as well not let it go to waste. I’ll go out and talk to the people. I can bring them to us. Make them see the need for change.”

The stammer, the shyness were gone. The dark years, of alcohol and violence, were definitely gone. The angel had taken them all away, just as she promised, and left something strong, and pure. The room of consultants looked at him, rapt.

“We’ll change the banners tomorrow. We should start planning more events in this area, beyond the slate we already had up for Mr. Hornsback. Cedar Rapids tomorrow. Collegeville on Thursday. The Amana colonies next week. Eat up the counties, and march on Des Moines when we’re ready. And then the rest of the nation.”

“We’re with you Ned!” Victoria cheered. Ned saw desire in her eyes. He had always wanted her, and now he would have her. But he would do it properly. He would marry her, first, of course. And she would.

“Knock em dead, Ned” Green said, swinging a fist like a drunken boxer. “Hey, there could be your slogan!”

“My name is not Ned” the man said, walking past Brown, through the side door and onto the stage. And, quieter, to himself, “Not anymore”

Fifty people were sitting at the tables of the Pizza Ranch, puzzled by the appearance of the dark haired young man instead of the older Congressman. But it was his eyes, and his voice that mesmerized them, and held them. And mesmerized the 500 people who livestreamed the event. And the fifteen thousand who watched it when the video went to youtube. And when the video went viral, twenty times that heard his words, and his call.

“I am here to tell you that America can become the blessed and holy and sacred place it once was. A place where the liberals and the gays and the Muslims and the social justice warriors and Morlocks no longer can tell you how to live, who to love, and who is a sinner. A place that is devoted to our faith and is devoted to our God, not the false gods who those sinners hold in their hearts and corrupt our country. For they are sinners, my friends, spreading their sin, blackening and fouling this country. Our once blessed nation is nearly lost—but despair not! I am here to help end that sin, to purge it from this once great nation. But I need your help. I cannot do it alone. I hope you will stand with me and help me in the greatest project of all—the reconsecration of the United States of America.”

“My name is Nehemiah Scudder.”

Supernumerary, self abnegation, suicidal tendencies and such

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Two new stories today, from the talented Marissa Lingen, got me to thinking about being supernumeary again.

Yes, I know each voice and every person is different and that is value in and of itself.

And yet! I am a white single heterosexual male in my 40’s. Not exactly an underrepresented class in any of the artistic endeavors that I participate in. And I am not even stellar in doing so. (A Hugo nomination for podcasting notwithstanding). The stellar voices–those are okay no matter what they look like, believe or who they are. Average voices like mine from the mayonnaise majority–who needs them?

So, why should I bother? There are women’s voices, POC voices, voices from LBGTQ people. Those voices have been historically undervalued, underrepresented, under seen. White men like myself have gotten more play and still get more play. There are venues which do a good job in balancing things out, but its still a tilted playing field.

Are any of my efforts crowding out *their* efforts? Marissa is getting published, but am I making it slightly harder for equally worthy people to have their work seen, read, enjoyed? People whose work who hasn’t been seen, and should? Diverse voices unjustly not heard?

This all goes to my fear and secret wish–that my withdrawal would make the world a better place (yes, this also goes to suicidal tendencies). The thought that the world would be improved by my absence. That my efforts hinder others.

That it would be better if I not only did not exert my efforts…but that I *never* did. That the Marissa Lingens of the world would have a better time of it without me crowding the field or trying to. Or the Elizabeth May and Dallas Nagata Whites of photography, to give a different example.

As I have said before, if Metatron came to me and said: “I erase you from existence, backwards and forwards, and the world is improved”– I take that deal, no hesitation.

…like a vampire sorceress scorned

It had been 14 days since a caravan had come up the Silk and Steel road. We were running out of salt and powdered griffin bone for the wards, and the Sultana knew it. If nothing changed, her undead forces would soon come over the walls of Jheren. The inhabitants would be slaughtered.

And I? If she was merciful, she would kill me, her former lover. If she wasn’t, she’d subject me to the painful process she had undergone, putting me into a monstrance, and transforming me into something like her, and bound to her.

I hoped for death. But I would not receive it.

Hell hath no fury like a vampire sorceress scorned.

Fermentation (Ficlet)

Marissa chatted about Earth and alcohol. as her friend chewed the grain slowly. He took stalks of the ripe wheat from the bowl and chewed them one by one, letting his flat eyes watch Marissa as he listened. He tapped one of his hooves against the tile floor as if keeping time to music.
What a strange biology, she thought, as she sipped her glass of water and tried to explain Prohibition to him. Domlas wasn’t buying or understanding the idea. It was incomprehensible to his species. How could you enforce it? But, then, she could barely understand how the United States of America ever expected to enforce it, either. Was that why it had fallen? She was admittedly fuzzy on the timeline of history.
It would take the better part of a week of the grain he was eating to turn into alcohol, and then be absorbed into his system. Benefits, and disadvantages, of a two stomach biology, Marissa thought.

Reardonism Ficlet

RBC News, London, August 18
Reardonist Sympathizers claim responsibility for explosion at warehouse of supplies for victims of Hurricane Isis.
Reardonist Sympathizers have claimed responsibility for the destruction of a temporary warehouse set up for victims of Hurricane Isis in the American state of Carolina. Minor injuries are reported, but thousands of dollars of relief supplies were destroyed.
A spokesman for the Reardonist movement praised the action in an interview with RBC News:
“This sends a message to the Federal Government that the American people do not want their tax dollars being used for moochers and collectivist actions.” Ann Randolph said. “The purpose of the government in our view is only to ensure property rights. It is not to waste taxpayer money on those who were foolish enough not to prepare for natural disasters such as this.”
Senator Taggart of the state of Franklin in a statement said that while she did not condone the incident, “This sends a message that the government needs to reassess its priorities. Americans do not want to spend their tax money on bailing out people. It is UnAmerican and Collectivist to expect hard working Americans to pay for other people’s problems.”
Senator Taggart is a co-sponsor of the effort, with Senator Enderby of Deseret, of an Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would devolve law enforcement within U.S. borders entirely to private entities.
[Sidebar: The history of Reardonism]
[Sidebar: Tax Rates in the United States versus other nations]