Special 5MF NaNoWriMo Edition – Week 2

Winning Entry (TIED with Jeff Pfaller)

Prompt: Your Main Character finds a painting of himself/herself.


Penelope Price stopped dead in her tracks.  The echo of her heels coming to an abrupt halt, much to the relief of the visitors around her.

Having almost an unlimited source of money and a black hole where her scruples were supposed to sit, makes for an interesting time traveler.

The plans she had made were all working quite well, thank you very much.

It was the little things–the unexpected things—that were a direct result of her meddling with the fabric of time/space that always shocked her.

She stared at her discovery.

She was meeting her contact with a line into Mussolini’s new government.  Penelope was about to close a deal to sell the 20th century dictator microchip technology.  

“It must have been a side journey,” she thought.

The little Italian weasel of a go-between–Carducci—had insisted on meeting somewhere public.

Three years ago, she thought.  That mistake with the time settings.  She though she’d left before anyone noticed.

But obviously not.  She began to laugh.

The Sistine Chapel in Rome was as public a place as any.

And there, on the ceiling, was a perfect representation of Penelope…in her 1930’s costume.


“Michelangelo, you old dog!” she said.

The Word Count Podcast Halloween Special



Welcome ghouls and ghosts to episode 4 of The Word Count Podcast!

This week’s entry is my first Halloween special featuring shorts and even a song that will scare the pants off of you.

And if the pants DO come off do NOT send me pictures this time! 🙂

Links to the show are off to the left.  Enjoy!


And keep the lights on.


Our fiendish guests:


Emmett is a guy from Sydney who spends every free second that he’s not at work writing stories. It was Angel turning evil on Buffy that did it. That was the moment that the fanfiction started and the need to create stories became a compulsion rather than a hobby. Ten years of honing his craft yielded the first story that was actually worth the time and effort and constant swearing – Old Haunts: A London City Novel. He hopes you’ll read it.

Website: http://alondoncityblog.blogspot.com/

Twitter: @OldHauntsAuthor



denred-resizedDIANE NELSON

After a thirty year career as an analytical chemist and technical writer, Diane Nelson turned to writing fiction full time.  Her first novel, Dragon Academy, was released in June 2010, followed by Dancing in the Dark which she edited and contributed a short story, Dance Macabre, and Mounted Exercises in July 2010.  She edited another anthology, Flashes Through Time, out now in eBook format and slated for print release Fall 2010.  Diane also writes as Nya Rawlyns.  Her novella, Sculpting David, will appear under the Red Sage imprint.  Shadow of This World, written in collaboration with Denyse Bridger, Chris Ledbetter and Joann Hamann-Buchanan, will be released by XoXo Publishing.

Websites: www.idancewithwords.com , www.romancingwords.com , www.dancinginthedarkanthology.weebly.com

Twitter:  @Diane_Nelson



Bill Kirton has been a university lecturer, presented TV programmes, written and performed songs and sketches at the Edinburgh Festival, and had many radio plays broadcast by the BBC and the Australian BC. He’s written three books on study and writing skills in Pearson’s ‘Brilliant’ series and his crime novels, Material Evidence, Rough Justice, The Darkness and the historical novel The Figurehead, set in Aberdeen in 1840, have been published in the UK and USA. His short stories have appeared in several anthologies and Love Hurts was chosen for the Mammoth Book of Best British Crime 2010.

Website: http://www.bill-kirton.co.uk 

Blog:  http://livingwritingandotherstuff.blogspot.com/



Matthew wrote his first work of fiction at the age of 9 – a full 8 pages in length (with pictures) – and is currently languishing somewhere in his parents’ loft. He sincerely hopes the rest of his work doesn’t go the same way. He lives in the south-east of England and is searching for a publisher for his first, full-length novel, Fall From Grace, as well as writing his second one, currently untitled. He hasn’t got much time for anything else, as he feels like he is trying to live three lives already.

Website: www.writeordie.co.uk

Blog: http://vikingbay.blogspot.com/ 

Twitter: @mnwjm1981



What Soooz says about herself: “I write books. Some people even think I know how the hell to do it.”

Blog: http://sooozsaysstuff.blogspot.com

Twitter: @ pursoot


jeremyphotoJEREMY C. SHIPP

Jeremy C. Shipp is the Bram Stoker nominated author of Cursed, Vacation, and Sheep and Wolves. His shorter tales have appeared or are forthcoming in over 50 publications, the likes of Cemetery Dance, ChiZine, Withersin, Pseudopod, and Shroud Magazine. Jeremy enjoys living in Southern California in a moderately haunted Victorian farmhouse called Rose Cottage. He lives there with his wife, Lisa, a couple of pygmy tigers, and a legion of yard gnomes. The gnomes like him. The clowns living in his attic–not so much. 

Web: www.jeremycshipp.com 

Twitter: @JeremyCShipp




Is a caffeinated stay-at-home mom, artist, writer, composer and eccentric. Her debut novel Must Love Dragons is coming out through Hunt Press September 2010. She writes a column on obesity in America for Frum Forum ( http://www.frumforum.com/ )  and draws/writes webcomics for the company she co-created: Tangent Artists  (http://www.tangentartists.com/). Monica lives in the D.C. Metro area with her very supportive husband. 


Blog: http://monicamarier.blogspot.com/

Webcomics: http://www.tangentartists.com/

Twitter: @lil_monmon





Sessha turned to writing full time two years ago after a twenty year stint in video production editing, scripting and creating motion graphics.  Her first novel Strength of Will was released in November 2009.  Her short story Wintersong is included in Dancing in the Dark: An Anthology of Erotica. Her latest offering, Shinobi, is currently out on query. 

Web: http://www.sesshabattousai.com

Twitter: @sesshabatto



jeff_pfaller_picJEFF PFALLER

Jeff dabbles in novels, short stories, poetry, screenplays, plays, comic books, traditional and digital advertising copy. His current gigs include writing multiple on-going comic series and acting as creative director for Saint James Comics. For a day job, he’s a content strategist at Arc Worldwide, using the power of content to convince consumers to get in bed with products. Jeff currently lives in his own personal zoo in Des Plaines, Illinois with his wife, two children, dog and cat. 

Web: http://jeffpfaller.com 

Twitter: @pfallerj

A Scam Grows in Scotland

loch-ness-monster-fakeIt was the smell that drew Aiden Fairweather to the shore that day. He was at his old pub at five in the morning, the usual time since he’d had to let the cleaning lady go a few months back.

At first the old man thought someone had dumped a load of rubbish into the water. Wouldn’t have been the first time.

But as he approached the murky blackness he noticed a shape lying on the water’s edge. It was a twenty foot long mass of tissue. It was nothing he’d ever seen before. And it was most certainly dead

It stank to high heaven.

Covering his nose with a handkerchief, he hurried back to the pub as fast as his old legs would take him. Aiden fumbled with the keys for a moment or two–damned arthritis–and finally got the door unlooked.

He threw the light switch and entered. The place smelled like cheap cigarettes and stale beer. The smell comforted him.

He shuffled around the large oak bar and grabbed the phone.

“You’ra up a bit early Aiden,” a croaky female voice said on the other line.

“Ya Breda,” he said, slightly out of breath,” Listen love, could ye put me through to Doc MacAllister?”

“Old Rex finally ready to be put down?” Breda coughed. Aiden could practically see the fag dangling from the phone operator’s mouth.

“Bite yer tongue, lass,” Aiden said. “That pooch will outlive us all.”

She laughed. It was a disgusting, phlegm-laden sound.

“Hold on hon. I’ll get the Doc for ye. And tell ‘im my granddaughter is still available. Twenty-two and no man in her life to be seen.”

Aiden waited a moment before a young, sleepy voice came on the line.


“Doc, it’s Aiden Fairweather.”

“Ya Aiden, Breda told me,” he said through a yawn. “Rex again?”

“Nah. The old boy’s fine, Doc. Something’s washed up on shore. You should come see it.”

“Gotta be at the Montgomery’s’ in a couple hours. New foal’s due.”

“It’s twenty feet long, Doc.”

Aiden waited. “Doc?”

“You’ve got to be mistaken.”

“My eyes aren’t as good as they once were, but I’d swear to it in Parliament. Twenty feet.”

Aiden waited again.

“I’ll be there in twenty minutes.”

* * *

The doc’s 1927 Morris Cowley pulled up to Aiden’s pub around six, sputtering and wheezing as it came to a jerky halt.

“Damn piece of shite,” MacAllister grumbled as he hoisted himself out of his car. “Only five years old and already falling apart.”

“Good horse’ll last you ten. Make less noise too. But you’d know that bein’ a vet an’ all,” said Aiden crewing on his pipe. “Coulda had the whole pub cleaned by the time it took ye to get here.”

The Doc tried to feign a look of disgust at the old man. Both men burst out laughing at the attempt.

“C’mon inside Doc. Kettle’s on and I’ve got a fire goin’. A good cuppa will sort out your carriage problems.”

MacAllister shock his head. “Would love to Aiden, but have to make me rounds. Let’s see this twenty foot beastie of yours.”

The old man shrugged his shoulders. Knocking his pipe against the side of the barrel he’d been sitting on, he stood, grabbed his cane and without another word started toward the shore.

The day had brightened from a charcoal black to a dull grey. The stinking mass on the shoreline was much more visible now than when Aiden had first ventured toward the water.

The old man wrinkled his nose. “That’s not gonna be helpful for business,” he said. MacAllister grunted.

The creature was a blackish grey. The vet could see a bloated torso with four large fins. A long tail curled into the water and the head of the creature lay at the end of an equally long neck that bobbed in harmony with the small waves.

The vet slowly made his way around the corpse.

Finally, he looked up at Aiden. “N’er seen anything like it. But I can tell you what killed it.”

“Oh?” said Aiden, raising one eyebrow.

“Trash. Its gut has been torn open and the wee beastie’s gut is filled with garbage. Whether it be poison or some sort of blockage’ll have to wait until I do a more in-depth exam and autopsy.” MacAllister was speaking rapidly in excitement.

The vet started back up the hill when Aiden blocked his way with his cane.

“Hold on laddie. Let’s think about this for a mo’,” he said.

“What’s there to think about? This is a great discovery…”

“Mmm. Maybe. But gutting and stuffing this beast isn’t the answer.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, folks around here have been hurting for a while as you well know, Doc.” The old man said thoughtfully. “You go and announce this to the world and sure a few people will come to take a look. Five years from now, that poor creature will be gathering dust in a museum somewhere.”

“What’s your point Aiden?”

“This poor creature is a passing fancy. Now legends, that’s where real money can be made.”


“Think about it doc. People have been talking about a beast in these waters since St. Columba and that was thirteen hundred years ago.”

MacAllister rubbed at the stubble on his chin. “But that legend hasn’t helped folks here very much,” he said slowly.

“Like any good idea, all it takes is a little press. Maybe a blurry photograph or two. A few folks scared outta their wits by ‘Somethin’ in the water.’ Trust me, we could make this into a full-time business that will help everyone around here.”

The vet looked back at the sad creature slowly decaying on the shoreline.

“What’s a more fitting legacy then? ‘Monster killed by trash’ or ‘The Legend of the Monster at Loch Ness?’ Come up to the pub and have that cuppa and we can chat about it a little more…”

Episode 3 of The Word Count is LIVE!

The Word Count Episode Three entitled “A Writer’s Showcase” is now LIVE!

This week’s double-length show features a dozen writers who work in various genres. We have poetry, excerpts from novels, short stories and a non-fiction essay for your enjoyment.  

The iTunes Link can be found HERE

The Direct RSS Feed is HERE.



A quick show note from episode two of The Word Count.  JAYM GATES and ERIKA HOLT’S anthology, RIGOR AMORTIS has now been released and is available for purchase at AMAZON.

Follow THIS LINK to pick up your copy!




Episode Three Artists in order of appearence:

 – Robert James Russell co-founded the indie comic book publisher Saint James Comics in 2009 (www.WhoisSaintJames.com). He is a member of Year Zero Writers, and has had work featured by Like Birds Lit, Greatest Lakes Review, The Legendary, and is currently working on his debut novel, excerpts of which appear on his website (www.robertjamesrussell.com). He recently edited his first anthology, entitled Sex Scene: An Anthology, which is available as a free download. Robert lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.


Web: www.robertjamesrussell.com




denred-resizedDIANE NELSON – After a thirty year career as an analytical chemist and technical writer, Diane Nelson turned to writing fiction full time.  Her first novel, Dragon Academy, was released in June 2010, followed by Dancing in the Dark which she edited and contributed a short story, Dance Macabre, and Mounted Exercises in July 2010.  She edited another anthology, Flashes Through Time, out now in eBook format and slated for print release Fall 2010.  Diane also writes as Nya Rawlyns.  Her novella, Sculpting David, will appear under the Red Sage imprint.  Shadow of This World, written in collaboration with Denyse Bridger, Chris Ledbetter and Joann Hamann-Buchanan, will be released by XoXo Publishing.

Twitter: @Diane_Nelson

Web: www.idancewithwords.com, www.romancingwords.com, and www.dancinginthedarkanthology.weebly.com

JeffkimJEFF SINCLAIR & KIM JEWELL – Jeff Sinclair has been writing dark fiction since his encounter with a dark force as a boy. His first novel, No Heaven, will be published in the Kindle store this fall. His current obsessions include post-apocalyptic theories, geography, and botany. Find him on Twitter as @undeniablyjeff and his blog at darkimaginarium.wordpress.com  Kim Jewell is a marketing executive and has worked in advertising, marketing and public relations for more than fifteen years – both at the corporate level and also in the agency arena.  She is currently the Director of Development for a regional law firm in Evansville, Indiana where she manages the business development and marketing campaigns. She writes YA fiction.
Twitter:  JEFF- @undeniablyjeff  KIM- @kimjewell
Web:  JEFF- http://darkimaginarium.wordpress.com/  KIM – http://www.kimjewell.wordpress.com

MERCEDES M. YARDLEY – Mercedes M. Yardley wears red lipstick and poisonous flowers in her hair.  She had been published in  The Pedestal Magazine ,A Cup of Comfort for Parents of Children with Special Needs, John Skipp’s Werewolves and Shape Shifters: Encounters With the Beast Within, and the upcoming  Hint Fiction anthology.  She works for Shock Totem magazine and is represented by Jason Yarn of Paradigm.

Twitter: @mercedesmy

Web: www.abrokenlaptop.com


TLTysonTL TYSON – T.L Tyson is a non-drinking, non-smoking, vegan from Canada. Her hermit-like existence allows her to delve into her writing without worrying about someone knocking at her door. Sleep is a rarity for her and she spends the night hours conjuring up new characters and thickening plots. She is constantly being lead in new directions by demanding personas and quirky ideas. Her writings cover a broad range of themes and genres, from YA urban fantasy to sea-faring historical fiction. If you catch her without her laptop, you may find her curled up reading a book or expanding her music knowledge.

Twitter: @TL_Tyson

Web: http://tltyson.weebly.com






MATTHEW MUNSON – Matthew wrote his first work of fiction at the age of 9 – a full 8 pages in length (with pictures) – and is currently languishing somewhere in his parents’ loft. He sincerely hopes the rest of his work doesn’t go the same way. He lives in the south-east of England and is searching for a publisher for his first, full-length novel, Fall From Grace, as well as writing his second one, currently untitled. He hasn’t got much time for anything else, as he feels like he is trying to live three lives already.

Twitter: @mnwjm1981

Web: www.writeordie.co.uk, blog http://vikingbay.blogspot.com/


aaronsmallerAARON POLSON – Aaron Polson currently lives in Lawrence, Kansas with his wife, two sons, and a tattooed rabbit.  To pay the bills, Aaron attempts to teach high school students the difference between irony and coincidence.  His stories have featured magic goldfish, monstrous beetles, and a book of lullabies for baby vampires.  Several new stories are forthcoming in Shimmer, Shock Totem, and Space and Time, and other publications.  The Saints are Dead, a collection of weird fiction, magical realism, and the kitchen sink, is due from Aqueous Press in 2011. 

Twitter: @aaronpolson   Web: aaronpolson.blogspot.com




PENELOPE FLETCHER – In her own words: I want to write something worth remembering. I have a suspicion it will take most of my life, but I’m okay with that. I write fantasy, which to date has fallen into the young adult readership. I listen more than I speak, and skip from one thought to the other quite fast. My writing reflects this and given me a style, but at some point I know someone is going to get mad about it. I love to smile, and my favorite thing to do in the whole world is to read.

Twitter: @Miss_Fletcher

Web: fictionfierce.blogspot.com




MARK SOUZA –  Mark Souza lives in a small town in Western Washington with his wife and two children. His horror short stories can be found online at Amazon and Pill Hill Press. He is currently working on a novel.

Twitter: @souzawrites

Web: www.marksouza.com






MONICA MARIER – Monica Marier is a caffeinated stay-at-home mom, artist, writer, composer and eccentric. Her debut novel Must Love Dragons is coming out through Hunt Press September 2010. She writes a column on obesity in America for Frum Forum (http://www.frumforum.com/)  and draws/writes webcomics for the company she co-created: Tangent Artists (http://www.tangentartists.com/) . Monica lives in the D.C. Metro area with her very supportive husband. 

Twitter: @lil_monmon

Web: monicamarier.blogspot.com




SESSHA BATTO – Sessha turned to writing full time two years ago after a twenty year stint in video production editing, scripting and creating motion graphics.  Her first novel Strength of Will was released in November 2009.  Her short story Wintersong is included in Dancing in the Dark: An Anthology of Erotica. Her latest offering, Shinobi, is currently out on query. More information and sample chapters can be found on her website.

Twitter: @SesshaBatto

Web: http://www.sesshabattousai.com


Chris_BlanchardCHRISTOPHER BLANCHARD – He’s a 36 year old husband and father from San Diego who has decided to really get serious about becoming a published author. My blog is an attempt to further my skills in my chosen craft.

Twitter: @BlanchardAuthor

Web: 1storyaweek.blogspot.com

The Young Practitioner – PROLOGUE



North Africa, November, 1942 – 45km west of Tunis


The M4 Sherman tank ground to a halt with a sick sputter from its Continental R975 C1 engine.

“C’mon baby!” begged Captain Ronald “Snowman” Winters as he caressed the turret of the metal beast from his lookout position atop the war machine.

The sputtering continued for another thirty seconds or so, then stopped with a metallic grinding. The beast was dead. Again.

“FUBAR!” drawled a southern voice below the captain from the belly of the beast.

“J.T., It’s the second time that damn engine has died in the last hour. Can you fix it or not, sergeant?”

“Ain’t been a machine I couldn’t fix, Snowman. You have yourself a genuine Kansas farm boy here! We kin fix anythin’ that runs!” replied the happy-go-lucky Sergeant, Jonathan “J.T.” Tompkins. Captain Winters rolled his eyes. Would he ever get used to the eternal optimism of this boy?

It was over a hundred degrees already and it was only eight o’clock in the morning. The tank had been a part of a larger American First Armored Division racing Eastbound to join Montgomery and the British for a push toward Tunis. The five-man crew had been told to leave their tank when the engine faltered due to the desert sand, but the crew stubbornly refused to give up their home.

Now they were on their own, at least an hour behind the rest of the convoy.

“Damn it,” muttered Winters, as he wiped the sweat that poured into his eyes. The General was gonna have his ass and he new it.

He opened his canteen and took a long swig. The water was hot, but at least it was wet. After Pearl Harbor, he’d known the country was going to be at war. He wanted a shot at the Japanese for what they did in Hawaii. Instead he’d been shipped to North Africa and been put in command of a metal hotbox in the middle of the desert.

“Damn it all to Hell,” he said.

He sighed and climbed out of his command seat lifting his binoculars to his eyes. He took a quick look around. Nothing but a series of dunes in front of them.

“All right boys,” he called back into the tank. “Might as well get out of there while the sergeant works his miracle to get us running again.”

The Captain climbed the rest of the way out and jumped to the ground. A loud scrambling was heard as the two drivers and gunner tried to climb over themselves to reach the hatch first.

Corporal David Bernstein was first. The Jew from Brooklyn hopped out with ease and practically had his Lucky Strike lit before he reached the ground. Privates Erik Engel from Holland and Frank Wilson from California were next. All boys around the age of eighteen.

“J.T., you better get us movin’ again or we’re gonna thump ya,” said the blonde man from Massachusetts.

“Yeah!” said Wilson, pounding his fist on the outside of the tank. The man was so big Winters thought he might’ve left a dent in the armor.

“Which one of you rubes has the radio?” asked the Captain. The three men all looked at each other in a mild panic.

“Engel, go get it will you? Jesus H. Christ, boy!”

Winters didn’t like having a foreigner under his command, especially one with such a German sounding name, but he was under orders so he dealt with it. By making Private Engel do all the dirty work.

“Yes sir!” said the Private and hopped back into the Sherman without another word.

“Cap’t, can we have him dig a latrine for us when he get’s back?” asked Wilson. “K-ration’s doin’ things to my gut you wouldn’t believe.”

Before he could answer, a sharp pain came from his chest. Both Wilson and Bernstein were staring at him wide-eyed.

Winters tried to say ‘what are you two assholes lookin’ at?’ but all that came out was a gurgling sound.

The last thing the Captain saw was a large red stain on his chest. He was dead before he hit the ground.

“Snipers!” screamed Bernstein in his thick Brooklyn accent. “Take cover behind…”

A red spray flew from the man’s head and a bloody, still lit cigarette bounced off Wilson’s shoulder.

“Holy Shit!” He said diving to his right just as a ricochet sounded behind him.

Crawling on the ground, he made his way to the back of the tank. Dirt kicked up around him as sniper fire tracked his movements.

“You okay Cap’t?” called Engel from inside the tank.

“Cap’s dead and so’s the Jew!” Wilson screamed back.

“Where the SOB’s shootin’ from?” Engel called back.

“Hundred yards, behind that dune off to the right I think!”

Another shot kicked up sand near Wilson’s boot. He drew his legs in close.

“Do something!” He shouted.

The big tank shuttered as the turret spun in the direction Wilson had thought the shots had come from.

There were a couple of clicking sounds, then nothing.

“Damn you Engel…!” began Wilson.

The 75mm canon roared and a second or two later there was a muffled explosion. Wilson put his hands over his ears and closed his eyes.

* * *

Ten minutes later, Engel and J.T. emerged from their steal foxhole. They found Wilson shaking and lying in the fetal position at the back of the tank. The man had pissed himself.

There hadn’t been any further shots as far as they knew. Engel had put a couple additional shells into the various dunes just in case.

While J.T. checked on Wilson, Engel went over to the two bodies lying next to the tank. Captain Winters and Corporal Bernstein were both very dead.

“J.T.,” said Engel. “I’ll get on the radio and get us some help. See if you can get Wilson back into the tank.”

Engel could tell that the good ol’ Southern Boy didn’t like taking orders from him, but technically, as gunner, he outranked him.

After a fleeting look of annoyance, J.T. nodded and said, “You got it Erik.”

The Dutch man radioed in his position and situation. He was told to sit tight. Someone would come for them. Eventually.

J.T. was tending to a shell-shocked Wilson inside the Sherman. Engel had found the dead Captain’s binoculars and–after wiping off a bit of the late commander’s blood– scoped out the sand dunes ahead.

He took it as a good sign that he was still breathing. Maybe he’d killed the damn Huns he thought hopefully.

As he scanned the dunes, his eyes picked up something unusual near where the shells had landed. It looked like metal of some sort imbedded in the dune.

“Hey J.T.,” He called out. “I am going scout up ahead. Take care of Wilson and keep your head down.”

“You too Erik. Put your helmet on!” the Southerner called back.

Despite the desert heat and with a wary glance at what was left of Bernstein’s head, Engel slapped on his helmet.

Cautiously and using whatever cover he could find, it took all of twenty minutes for the soldier to make it to the blast crater.

The dune itself was about twenty feet long and five feet high. When he got closer he saw that it was about five feet deep as well.

Scattered behind the crater–when he’d finally got enough nerve up to look over the top–he saw what was left of two dead men. It wasn’t until he found half of a German helmet with the stylized eagle on it that he’d confirmed who’d been killed.

“Serves you guys right,” he spat. “Damn Krauts.”

He took out the glasses again and swept the area. There was nothing else to see.

With a sigh of relief, he started to make his way back to the Sherman, when he caught sight of the metal piece that had brought him out here in the first place.

Sticking out of the dune was a heavy plate of lead. It was roughly two feet square and bent from the blast damage where a 75mm shell had dislodged it.

“What the Hell is that?” he mumbled to himself. The sweat was pouring off him like a river and he’d left his canteen back with the remaining members of his crew.

The impact crater seemed deeper then he’d thought. He stumbled through the sand toward the gaping hole.

The shell had torn a gash in what looked like a large lead box running the length of the sand dune. Curiosity overriding dehydration, Engel poked his head into the box.

He recoiled in shock.

Half running, half stumbling through the sand, he made his way back to the tank.

J.T. who’d hand enough of the stench inside the Sherman, had poked his head out of the turret hatch. He watched as Engel made a beeline toward him.

“What is it Erik? More Nazi’s?” he yelled.

Engel clamored onto the tank, completely out of breath.

“Here, hold on a minute,” said J.T. He reached down into the tank and brought out a canteen.

Engel gulped down the contents.

“Jesus Erik, you’re as white as a ghost,” J.T. said nervously. “What’s wrong with you?”

“My…my shot killed the snipers,” Engel stuttered. “But it blew a hole in this big metal box.”

“Yeah, so?”

“There’s a body in it,” said Engel, still breathing heavy.

“It’s war, Erik,” said J.T. as he pointed to the late Captain, still lying where he fell. “Bodies happen.”

“No, you don’t understand,” Engel said. “It looks like a man, but it cannot be. It’d be a man about twenty feet tall!”

“Heat’s got to you boy,” said J.T. shaking his head.

“Come see for yourself,” Engel said, panic now being replaced with annoyance at his crewmember’s disbelief.

“What, and get shot? No thanks,” said J.T.

“I killed the Krauts with the first shot. Come see for yourself, or are you-how do you Americans say-chicken?” said Engel.

The jibe worked. Without another word, J.T. jumped down from the turret and he marched purposely toward the dune. Engel hurried to catch up.

“It’s gotta be fake,” J.T. exclaimed a few minutes later.

“It is not. It is some sort of monster,” Engel said. “And it must have been buried here a long time.”

“How the Hell do you know that?” J.T. said dubiously.

“Look at the bandages,” Engel replied. “It is like one of the Egyptian mummies I have seen in the movies.”

“What is it doing out here all by itself?” J.T. asked.

“It is not by itself, J.T.” said Engel quietly, pointing. “Look.”

J.T. stood and looked where Erik had indicated. There were hundreds of mounds exactly the same size and shape of the giant’s tomb.

Week Eight Winning Entry

Prompt: command4769308007_92f2b99375

Thaddeus Crowe was restless tonight.

I was trying to catch up on my latest short story submission–a steampunk genre Civil War piece–when the moaning and clanking started again for the third time.

See, Thaddeus was my very own ghost in the attic.

I shut down the project as well as the laptop; giving writing up as a bad job for the night.

“I guess I’d better see what’s bothering the old coot,” I muttered to myself.

Climbing the creaky stairs, I was surprised when my black and white cat, Max, hissed at me and ran off.

“Max!” I called after him. “It’s just the ol’ man! C’mon back!”

Be he was gone. I loved cats, specifically because– like me–they never obeyed any commands. But the fur ball liked any opportunity to harass Thaddeus. Something was definitely up. I shook my head as I climbed the rest of the stairs to the attic.

I opened the door to the large, unfinished space to find the shimmering, pale form of Thaddeus, dressed as always in what looked like an 18th century military uniform, staring mournfully out of the half-moon window overlooking the grounds.

“Sir!” I said smartly. “Permission to enter?” He usually liked it when I asked to come into “his” attic.

Thaddeus turned his gaze from the window and looked me over. I couldn’t actually see him do it, as the apparitions’ eyes were nothing more then hollowed-out sockets. It was just a feeling I got whenever I arrived in his attic space and ‘looked’ toward me.

“Oh, why not. Enter” the ghost said in a melancholy voice.

I furrowed my brow at the lack his usual barked command of either “Come Hither, mortal!” or “Granted Soldier!” Something was definitely troubling the ghost.

I climbed into the attic, ducking a little to avoid whacking my head on one of the rafters, and let the door close behind me. I joined Thaddeus at the window, ignoring the chill that always caused my skin to crawl when I got too close to him.

After a moment of awkward silence, I cleared my throat.

“Sir, permission to speak candidly?”

“Go on then,” said the ghost in the same bored voice.

“What seems to be the trouble, Sir?” I asked hesitantly. I’d seen the ghost get upset only once in my four years in the house. It wasn’t pleasant and I didn’t want to experience it again.

“Mmph,” Thaddeus said. “It’s a bad night, soldier. A bad night.”

“And why is that sir?” I asked relieved. Looks like I’d be spared a ‘poltergeist incident.’

“Time for new recruits. I hate training new recruits.” Said the old ghost dejectedly.

The thought of another ghost in the house quite frankly annoyed me. I was already behind on my deadline. But I was also curious.

“New recruits?” I asked. “Wouldn’t you like company, sir?” I asked.

“Sure,” said Thaddeus. “But there is always the denial and the whining before acceptance. I hate that part. That, and the speech. I hate that blasted speech.”

Ok, I thought. I’ll bite. “What speech?”

The ghost sighed. “Welcome to the spectral plane, newly departed. You are here because the afterlife wouldn’t have you. You are condemned to haunt this world in ghostly fashion until the end of time.”

“That doesn’t sound so bad,” I said.

“Yes,” said the ghost seemingly more depressed. “It is. See, I can only say those words to a new ghost. Now I’ll have to deal with the shock and the denial…” his voice faded away and he went back to staring out the window.

“But it can’t be….wait.” I said.

“Here it comes.” Thaddeus mumbled.

“No! I’m not dead…!” I screamed.

“Shouldn’t have shoved all that white powder up your nose to write tonight, kid.”



Week Nine Winning Entry

Prompt: inefficient 


I don’t like sleeping very much. Well, that’s not entirely true. Sleep, I like.

It’s the dreams that come every time I shut my eyes.

They always start the same. I’m in a big city. New York, maybe. It’s a beautiful day and I’m walking along the street taking in the hustle and bustle of city life. Relishing the chaos as I walk through the man-made canyons.

At some point, the dream changes. I’m at the top of a large building, overlooking the city. The view is breathtaking. That’s when I see it.

A plane, flying fast– heading straight for me. There is an explosion and a sense of falling.

Before I hit the ground, the scene changes. I’m in a field somewhere. The smells of grass and of farms permeate my senses. I’m happy.

I look up when I hear a noise. Once again I see a plane, this time it’s heading straight for the ground. In my head I can hear people scream as the large jet impales itself in the once beautiful field at my feet.

Once more the scene jumps. I’m in a building wearing a military uniform…

A noise, one less dramatic, startles me. I’d nodded off again, damn it. The cold sweat dribbled down my back and a wave of helplessness almost overwhelms me.

I see the door open and two men enter. One, I know all too well. The other is dressed in a suit and a tie. I don’t recognize him. It is this unknown man who speaks first.

“And this one?” He says in almost a bored voice.

“Sloane Peterson,” says the man in white. “Thirty One. Showed promise, but her mind snapped during the last trials. Keeps going on about planes and buildings.”

“All right. I’ll let the President know.”

“The President?” I said, my voice croaky, while trying to stand. This man has the ear of the President! “Please sir! I need to speak with President Bush right away! Something terrible is about to happen…planes….attack…” I struggled to get to him. I had to tell him!

“See?” Said the man in white, ignoring me.

The suited man looked at me dispassionately. “Young lady,” he said. “There is no President Bush.” Turning to the other man, he said, “President Nixon will be watching the moon landing this evening. I’ll let him know the future viewing program is a complete failure and an inefficient use of taxpayer money. Keep her locked in here until we cure her or she dies. We don’t want word about her crazy rantings scaring the public, now do we?”

Week 18 Winning Entry

They called it a ‘smart virus.’
A variation of herpes that could target specific DNA types. Read: races.
Once unleashed, it could wipe out an entire ‘targeted group’ within a generation. Maybe two.
It was the ultimate biological weapon with a one hundred percent mortality rate.
“A new sexually transmitted disease,” they said.
“Abstinence is the best way to avoid contracting the always fatal ‘super bug,” they also said.
‘They,’ apparently, were never horny teenagers.
Condoms were useless. Any sort of sexual contact. Kissing, blow jobs–even hand jobs would spread the virus. It didn’t matter.
They must have giggled to themselves when they’d first created it. Then screamed in frustration at their inability to control it.
See, what ‘they’ didn’t realize is that they’d created a real ‘smart bug.’ By smart I mean intelligent. Self-propagating. And self-aware.
They’d created the fucking Einstein of STDs.
Then ‘they’ declared war on the uber-herpes. Uber-herpes declared war back.
In three months it was all over.
As I look down from the International Space Station as the last surviving member of the human race, I try to find fitting last words. The oxygen is in the red now.
I think of Neil Armstrong and his “One small step” speech. What bullshit.
As the last tank goes dry, all I can think to say is “They…were a bunch of assholes.”

Some of my other stuff…

I have a short story called “Orange You Glad the Doctor’s In” in the Orange Karen:Tribute to a Warrior anthology:


To Purchase:


Amazon Paperback

Amazon Kindle eBook






I have a funny haiku called Bat-Mite’s Refrain in a collection of Superhero Poems.  I Blame Shira for her awesomeness and a bit of Rum…


To Purchase:









5MinuteFiction Winning Entries:

        Week Eight Entry (Winner)

        Week Nine Entry (Winner)

        Week Eighteen Entry (Winner)

        Special NaNoWriMo Edition – Week 2

        Week Thirty Entry (Winner)

        Week Thirty-Three Entry (Winner)

        Week Forty Entry (Winner)

A Scam Grows in Scotland 


Chapter One Snippet


Present Day

The old lady next to me in the window seat died somewhere over the Atlantic. I know because she told me.

“Symon Bryson.”

The husky voice surprised me. I hadn’t spoken to anyone either at Dublin airport or on the flight. I first looked to my right the see the well-built, mustached man sleeping next to me. By the number of empty little bottles of vodka on his tray table, I guessed that his sleep wasn’t due to exhaustion.

“Symon Bryson. Look at me.”

I turned slowly to look at the old lady. She was staring at me through milky-white eyes, smiling.

“Who are you?” I asked cautiously.

Most people would freak out if a corpse suddenly reanimated and wanted to have a nice chat with them. Not me.

I’d seen worse.

“Who I am matters not,” croaked the old woman.

“Yoda?” I said. No one in the supernatural world of Heaven and Hell—the Shadow-world—gets pop culture references. It’s a sad commentary on the priorities of the Shadow-world.

“I have a warning for you. Fortunately this body died so I could use it to speak with you.”

“Oh goodie,” I said, sighing. “Lay it on me then.”

“Your return to Boston at this time is not happenstance.”

“Look, dead lady,” I snarled, pulling a scrap of paper from my pocket. “I’m going to see the Monsignor, find out what this telegram he sent is all about, and get the Hell back to Dublin as soon as humanly possible. Who the Hell sends a telegram in this day and age anyway?”

“You must not give in to your powers, Symon,” the creepy dead lady said. “You are the strongest Practitioner of this age. But you are undisciplined and dangerous.”

“I don’t plan on using any magic,” I said.

“You never plan it, Symon. That is your biggest problem. Let me show you what you could be.”

With that, she put a cold, dead hand on my arm and the vision began…

The Prodigal’s Foole  — Available Now!

Writer of Things. Podcaster.