UPDATED WITH WINNER: LitReactor's Flash Fiction Smackdown: August Edition

Flash fiction: A style of fictional literature marked by extreme brevity.

How This Works

We give you something. It could be a picture or an idea or a sentence. You write a flash fiction piece, using the thing we gave you as inspiration. Put your entry in the comments section. One winner will be picked, and awarded a prize.

The Rules

  • 250 words is the limit (you can write less, but you can't write more)
  • Any genre
  • Give it a title
  • We're not exactly shy, but stay away from senseless racism or violence
  • One entry per person
  • Editing your entry after you submit it is permitted (though don't go crazy)
  • LitReactor employees can enter, but they can't win
  • All stories submitted on or before August 30 will be considered. We'll run the winner on August 31.

This Month's Prize

A copy of The Twenty-Year Death by Ariel S. Winter.

About the book: A breathtaking first novel written in the form of three separate crime novels, each set in a different decade and penned in the style of a different giant of the mystery genre. When taken together, they tell a single epic story, about an author whose life is shattered when violence and tragedy consume the people closest to him. It is an ingenious and emotionally powerful debut performance from literary detective and former bookseller Ariel S. Winter, one that establishes this talented newcomer as a storyteller of the highest caliber.

Your inspiration

And the winner is... twinkletoes3106!

This evocative story did an incredible job of staying true to the picture while taking it in a unique direction. 

Tendency

She didn’t feel like her skin fit her anymore. It was as if at any moment it would crack, splinter, shift just left of center, and then slough off to the ground. The surety of it had been growing in her belly for weeks, a premonition, an omen that was nearly tangible, but just out of reach. And so, the benign actions of hunting, eating, sleeping, and occasional carnal flights continued with the understated monotony of a carousel ride.

Freedom–she longed for it. No more games, hiding, predatory pretenses. She mused that when the time came perhaps she would disintegrate into pure energy and drift away on a snowflake or a piece of ash. It was a romantic notion, not one well-suited for an executioner.

A flash of movement to the right caught her attention and she dismissed her fantastic notions. Straight, white teeth caught the sparse light on the street corner, lips pulled back into a devil-may-care smile. The man’s movements were eased, relaxed, unaware. His girlfriend tossed back her red hair and laughed with abandon, holding her cheeks in her hands.

She watched them stroll 20 paces and then felt the telltale pinch in her abdomen indicating it was time. She exited the car, smoothed her skirt, and began following the couple down the darkened street. After stalking them for a block, she stumbled, hesitated, imagined her skin sizzling and popping, but she knew in her gut–again–it was too late to turn back.

Image of The Twenty-Year Death (Hard Case Crime)
Author: Ariel S. Winter
Price: $8.61
Publisher: Hard Case Crime (2012)
Binding: Hardcover, 700 pages

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TigerJ's picture
TigerJ August 1, 2012 - 10:21am

Dr. Psoriasauris

I was not always this way you know
Cold scaley and not much to show
I was a doctor when I was a man
Not of medicine, but science understand

Dry skin was my bane which I wanted to fix
For all humans everywhere whose skin was sick
A permanent solution was well in my grasp
I took flakes of secrets from a desert asp

The mixture was perfect but I needed a tester
I called on my college intern named Chester
Oddly he called in ill that day
At this point I felt there was no other way

The mix would only work for an hour
Then the ingredients would lose their power
Underfunded as all labs will say
I would not get this chance another day

So I did what any captain would do
Threw back my head and took a gulp or two
My skin tigtened followed by relief
That's when I noticed something wrong with my teeth

twinkletoes3106's picture
twinkletoes3106 from Phoenix, AZ is reading The Electric Michelangelo by Sarah Hall August 1, 2012 - 3:06pm

Tendency

She didn’t feel like her skin fit her anymore. It was as if at any moment it would crack, splinter, shift just left of center, and then slough off to the ground. The surety of it had been growing in her belly for weeks, a premonition, an omen that was nearly tangible, but just out of reach. And so, the benign actions of hunting, eating, sleeping, and occasional carnal flights continued with the understated monotony of a carousel ride.

Freedom–she longed for it. No more games, hiding, predatory pretenses. She mused that when the time came perhaps she would disintegrate into pure energy and drift away on a snowflake or a piece of ash. It was a romantic notion, not one well-suited for an executioner.

A flash of movement to the right caught her attention and she dismissed her fantastic notions. Straight, white teeth caught the sparse light on the street corner, lips pulled back into a devil-may-care smile. The man’s movements were eased, relaxed, unaware. His girlfriend tossed back her red hair and laughed with abandon, holding her cheeks in her hands.

She watched them stroll 20 paces and then felt the telltale pinch in her abdomen indicating it was time. She exited the car, smoothed her skirt, and began following the couple down the darkened street. After stalking them for a block, she stumbled, hesitated, imagined her skin sizzling and popping, but she knew in her gut–again–it was too late to turn back.

Serafine's picture
Serafine August 16, 2012 - 11:36pm

Fair play
 

There was the wet slapping sound of flesh being torn from bone. They had made their way into the building! James fell to the floor and crawled to the closest door. He eased it open, keeping his eyes focused on where the sounds seemed to be coming from, and slid through. He slumped against the nearest wall. Getting his breath back he looked around again, only a dark silent room. Hugging his gun to his chest and scurried to the far wall. He poked his head around the corner. His eyes made contact with large calculating yellow eyes and then some very sharp teeth. He barely had time to reach for his gun when he heard a great swooping sound, then a crunch. He didn’t need to look down as the blood was blossoming from his chest, then there was darkness and red letters saying GAME OVER.

James lifted the visor, looked at Chris and said “Man that felt real. Nearly shit my pants when I saw that thing.”

“Go again?” Chris asked.

“Shit yeah!” James replied.

Pretty Spry for a Dead Guy's picture
Pretty Spry for... from I'd prefer it if you didn't know. So would you, only you don't know it. is reading whatever he makes time for this week August 7, 2012 - 5:25am

The Hunt

The creature fled between trees. Hunters pursued.

Their footfalls were muffled drumbeats, the flutter of wings. The creature never glanced back at them, only barreled headlong along a trail visible to it alone. Its misshapen feet weaved zigzags among the undergrowth.

One hunter charged ahead of the rest. He almost had the creature when the ground beneath gave way and he disappeared. Some who leapt over the pit saw he still breathed despite the wooden spikes that skewered his neck and abdomen. They hadn’t time to offer mercy or marvel at the trap. They ran with renewed vigor.

Their calls echoed throughout the forest, causing the creature to stumble. It had nearly reached the river when members of another tribe blocked its way. These murmured in harsh tones as the hunters barred retreat.

The creature regarded its pursuers with odd, darting eyes. It shuffled from foot to foot, its long hair swaying about its shoulders.

Finally, the leader of the other tribe ventured a question. “Arrrrrr?”

“Skrrrr skrrr,” answered one of the hunters.

“Gkkkkkkkkk glddddd?” asked the leader.

“Rrrrrrrrrrrrr,” said a hunter.

“Raaaaaaawrr ra rurrrrrrrrrr,” said his tribesman.

“Screee! Screeeeeeeeee!” said another.

Other hunters growled in agreement. The creature pivoted, searching for an escape route.

It found none.

The leader of the other tribe stepped forward, his scaly tail swinging with excitement.

The hunters raised their hook-clawed toes. They roared.

The raptors fell upon the human and tore her limb from limb.

Jairo Arana's picture
Jairo Arana is reading Perdido Street Station by China Mielville and The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu August 19, 2012 - 5:11pm

Fossil

It wasn’t so bad, with the tropical breezes, brushing against his face. The rustling of the trees were cool enough and he took a deep breathe, but, in his mind, the memories still lingered. He could see the volcano, which was not far. He heard it was active. Sometimes he wished it would erupt and just end it.

They had gathered around the massive stone slab, made of flint, in their uniformed grey skins and their cold stares on him. It was the one at the end of the large desk who, after gulping a few pistachio nuts and guzzling water from his glass, stared from the corner of his eyes, snarled and said the words, which would be etched in his memory:
“You’re nothing but a fossil. A thing of the past. We... we are the future.”
After he’d founded the company and led them through the tough times, which almost made them extinct in their industry, made them huge profits, they’d bought him out of his shares and kicked him out of the board of directors.

He sat in the old villa, practiced his Spanish and took walks in the village. Sometimes his long walks led him him near the volcano.
“Ungrateful bastards. What have I to live for, now?”
The earth trembled.
Ashes fell.
He felt nauseated.
It hadn’t even been a real wish. Just bitterness. Regretful of his dark thoughts, he realized, then, there was much more to life. 

Shawn I.'s picture
Shawn I. from New York is reading Important Things That Don't Matter August 2, 2012 - 10:44am

It’s Lonely At The Top of the Food Chain
Why do they always run away?
Is it the ever-malevolent look in my eyes? These slash mark pupils are impossible to soften.
Is it my razor sharp teeth that are menacing even when I smile? You try gnawing through the skin of a triceratops.
Is it the points at the end of my fingers more suited to impale than to embrace? I promise I’ll be careful.
Is it my hot, acrid breath when I say hello? A protein heavy diet will do that to you.
Is it my upturned snout at the end of my nose? It doesn’t mean I think any less of you.
Is it my insatiable appetite? I’ll bring my own snacks.
Please! No! Don’t run away! I just want to play!
Get back here or I’ll fucking eat you.
 

MaSmylie's picture
MaSmylie from London, England is reading Haunted August 2, 2012 - 11:18am

Velociraptor, he’s gonna find ya.

Chuck and Taylor are sat, hands shaking, feet turned nervously inwards, over the disjointed, dirtied and desecrated (etchings of ‘Bad Boi Velociraptor!’ across the top) table. They are sat inside the ‘Fozil’ bar, post-modernistic images of 3-D dinosaurs, curvaceous cavewomen and Jurassic period, worn, illustrations dotted across the ad-hoc furniture and patrons.

Chuck is wearing a snapback cap (YOLO, emblazoned in cartoonish scrawling across the brim), a red chequered shirt over a t depicting a scantily clad, buxom woman, and with denim cut off shorts. Taylor’s wearing a black hoody, zipped up, over straight cut, dark blue denim jeans. Both are wearing chunky trainers, kicks pumped and laces strewn out onto the floor.

Chuck quickly takes a drink from the beer in front of him (‘CreTa-cious’) and looks around to the bar staff. One of them, young twenties, scowling, outfitted in full ‘Fozil’ regalia (including carnivore mask and extraneous t-rex arms, hanging just below his regular human arms) spits at Chuck. Chuck hurriedly turns back around to Taylor, who is staring downwards, into his lap.

“When do you think he’s goanna get here?”
Taylor continues to stare into his lap.
“Taylor.”
An electronica beat of a dinosaur roar, (presumably spinosaurus) erupts from the worn, ‘50s jukebox in the corner. Taylor jumps, his hands slapping, palms open, onto the table.

The bar goes silent. All eyes are turned towards the door, at which stands a large figure, imposing, legs and arms spindled and menacing. Velociraptor.

“…Boys.”
 

saintkeeley's picture
saintkeeley from Baltimore is reading Either/Or August 4, 2012 - 4:10am

It’s only a Dinosaur

I take a deep breath when it starts, when the dinosaur takes my small hand it sticks it on his chest, rubbing my flesh on stiff leathery skin, bristling hair.  It can’t last long, please God don’t let it last long.  Dry wrinkled scales, I pet the dinosaur that purrs but grabs me tight enough to leave bruises, but its ok because I can stop the gagging and shut my eyes so I can’t see the tall old dinosaur with a thick white smile.  Tears falls on the loose and cracked skin of its thick brown thigh, and the nausea and burning in my chest that makes me angry when he pries one of my eyes open with his free hand because he’s drunk on whiskey and this dinosaur wants to look me in the eye when I pet him.  But the teeth stop smiling and the skin is dry and dinosaurs are great hunters, they are powerful and strong preying on the weaker and would even consume their own because they couldn’t help it and please I just want to go home and don’t like dinosaurs anymore and just want to go home but mom dropped me off and everyone’s asleep like I was before the dinosaur started roaring and put his hands around my throat.

Chris Olson's picture
Chris Olson August 4, 2012 - 6:54pm

The raptor sniffed the air.  Her prey was close.  She couldn’t see it, but she knew the furry little rodent had to be cowering somewhere in the underbrush near her clawed feet.  The raptor’s keen eyes scrutinized every inch of the forest floor, seeking out the tiniest movement.  She was about to give up the pursuit, when suddenly she heard the sound of a leaf rustling to her left.  She turned her head toward the sound, and spotted a thick clutch of bushes, the lowest branches of which were swaying ever so slightly.  The raptor dropped to a crouch.  The muscles of her legs grew taut, and a triumphant growl rumbled deep in her throat.  She crept stealthily toward the bushes, her nostrils flaring as she sniffed at the air.  Hunger gnawed at her belly, and it took everything she had not to bolt forward and snatch the little mammal up in her jaws.  The raptor reached the bushes, and pushed aside the branches with one of her fore claws.  Instead of a frightened rodent, she was greeted by a loud bang and a sudden flash of light, followed by pain and an encroaching darkness.  As the raptor lay there dying, a strange creature strode over and crouched down next to her.  It slung something across its back, and tenderly touched her neck.  It made noises in its throat, and though she couldn’t understand them, it sounded like, “Target is down.  Activate retrieval unit.”  Then the darkness closed in.

Michelle Brooks's picture
Michelle Brooks from Bay area, CA is reading Outliers, The Magicians, Bleaker August 4, 2012 - 8:24pm

Laverne put her head down on her desk the moment the last candidate closed the door.  Such a dud, she thought, and couldn't wait to get out of her tiny office at the Department of Temporary Labor.  She had only a moment to lament, before a scratchy knock sounded on her door.  She invited the next candidate in, and nearly choked on the gulp of Diet Coke she had taken.  She glanced down at the file of she was holding, and cleared her throat, "Um, hello, Mister... Tor?  Have a seat, please."
The candidate sat, but first said, "It's Raptor, Joe Raptor.  And thanks."
The candidate sat down, finding a position that allowed his thick tail to slide into the hole between the back and seat of the chair.  He adjusted his glasses, and sat politely, with his sharply clawed hands in his lap.
"Uh, tell me a bit about yourself, Mister Raptor.  What's your background?"
"Well, I have quite a few years of clerical work under my belt, I'm well-versed in the entire Microsoft suite, and I can type one hun-"  Laverne cut him off sharply, giving him a sideways glance as she did.  "I meant more, your... personal background."
"I don't think you are allowed to ask me that." Joe said indignantly.
Laverne back-pedaled, but the damage was done. He stood up and said, shaking his large head as he went through the door, "post-racial society, my ass."

Callum Thomas Ford's picture
Callum Thomas Ford August 5, 2012 - 12:40pm
Moi?

"Cela n'a pas de sens vraiment n'est-ce pas?" the Raptor said, its voice raspy yet very articulated. Jenny just froze. The funny thing about panicking, is that you head doesn't exactly work like you would expect it to. In the her flurried mind, she wasn't at first thinking, what the hell is a dinosaur doing in the middle of Centre Parcs or why the thing could even talk. She even momentarily forgot her worrying over the fact that she had been lost for days in the wilderness of the forests here, not being able to find her way back onto the path that she had strayed from, surviving only on rather large bottles of Mountain Dew and multi packets of Lion Bars that she had bought from her local pound shop. No. What Jenny thought first and foremost was; Damn it, I don't know any French!

Dino Parenti's picture
Dino Parenti from Los Angeles is reading Everything He Gets His Hands On August 9, 2012 - 9:23am

Extinction

          Seventh year in the stir, and all that I own are the figures perched on the sill of my little cell window and across the bolted sliver of poly allotted for books and postcards; tokens my boy wrapped diligently beforehand in gunny and twine on all those hazy Sunday visits before his schooling ensued in Junes and Januaries. His plastic and rubber testaments for all the things he loves and idolizes and hopes, and even those things he fears though he doesn’t know yet why, like the lonely soldiers, and the lonelier superheroes, and the ill-fated T-Rex’s and saber-tooth’s which sometimes, when the sun runs ornery and wallops a hole in the clouds, pour through my tiny porthole to etch themselves upon my concrete world as life-sized fossil-tributes to Plato’s allegory. But that penance is my own, and not my kid’s and not his mother’s, that redheaded girl who took to me better than I could take myself, and who asked me to bring steaming and crying into the world this infant I know hales not from my faulty genes, though his mama thinks he does. But I play the part because she still looks at me through the glass like no other ever has or will again—like I’m an extinct, fantastical creature spun from the ether to someday bear upon its shoulders again the boy I would gladly heft till this diorama gets refashioned by the next runaway bug or fiery pebble from the cosmos.

gotMEwrong's picture
gotMEwrong from Charleston, SC is reading "American Gods" August 22, 2012 - 5:45am

The (Future) Museum Exhibit

Time can get away from you…clichéd, I know, but true. I feel like I’ve accomplished nothing really meaningful in my life. What happened to my plans and goals? When exactly did they fade away? I look to the sky, shielding my eyes from the noon sun, like everyone else in my neighborhood. We’re all just standing outside, watching and waiting as we mentally prepare for the asteroid to hit and end life as we know it. According to the news, we should see the instrument of our collective doom any minute now. Guess it’s a little late to chase those unrealized dreams.

Scientists claim an asteroid strike is probably what wiped out the dinosaurs. I hope I’m excavated from the ground by whatever intelligent life forms exist on Earth millions and millions of years from now. Who knows, I could become part of an exhibit in one of their museums. I won’t be anywhere near as interesting as a dinosaur but these future beings might be impressed with my bones anyway. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll get a name as cool as “Velociraptor.”

“There it is!” my neighbor shrieks. We’re getting front row seats to our impending demise, awesome. Many panic, some pray but not me. I just take a huge swig of my beer and wonder if this is the same view the dinosaurs had at the beginning of their end. I smile, mutter “so be it,” to nobody in particular, and close my eyes as I wait for impact.

shabai44's picture
shabai44 from Spring Hope, NC is reading na August 8, 2012 - 11:14am

Two Man Suit


Joe got all the attention.  Crowds were transfixed by subtle emotions he displayed in the foam rubber, with just a pull of his finger or a twist of his hand.  That was easy. He controlled the face and eyes – the parts of the suit that drew all the attention.

  
Joe, Puppeteer Extraordinaire, was clueless to the challenges Richard faced at the bottom. Despite the harness and frame, Richard’s legs held them both up. Joe may have been small, but he grew heavier as each day dragged on. Richard’s aching legs and back kept him awake at night.


Joe probably slept like a baby. Why not? He sat comfortably on Richard’s shoulders - beside the ice pack – excitedly dazzling the kids while Richard, beneath him, sweated like a horse and strained like a mule.


Richard’s performance was world class, too - even if no one noticed. He determined how gracefully they lumbered through the park on the big spongy talons. And the tail? It was his wiggling hips that breathed life into the serpentine extension.


Yeah.


Humiliating - plain and simple. He was a dinosaur’s ass.


It was on a Saturday – the biggest day of the season – when the children saw the spectacle. The monster folded in the middle – its upper torso drooping to the ground like reptilian taffy. Strange, muffled voices came from inside. The kids watched, spellbound, as the lizard jumped up and down on its own flimsy head.


Flatulence is where Richard drew the line.

Sheba50's picture
Sheba50 from North Carolina is reading Stephanie Plum Series August 11, 2012 - 3:10pm

Too Close
                                   


The pungent smell of mating permeated the air along with the loud squawks associated with copulation. “Almost as loud as the sounds the human creatures make with their weapons.” Thought Crook’d Lip.

Crook’d Lip had cared for their eggs diligently, day and night.  A feeling of pride swelled her chest each time she looked at them.  Her protective mode took over when she heard the commotion near her nest and a look of concern sprang upon her face.

She felt her concern quickly turn into fear and then degenerate into raw animal rage.  She recognized those smells and those high pitched squawks. –It was her mate!  Raptors were to mate for life.

Such blatant disregard for his linage revealed an unacceptable trait to Crook’d Lip…stupidity.  “We all know what stupid breeds.”  And she knew what she needed to do.  Now she busied herself with trying to remember where she had seen the hunters.

Upon approaching his nest, Sawtooth’s eyes enlarged with horror.  His nest was nasty with strewn cracked shells and the soft mucus covered body parts of his offspring—murdered—stomped out of existence.   His chest felt as if his heart was ripped out. He emitted painful loud screeches that echoed through the forest, screeches that stopped only when the crack of rifles completed the melody.   Crook’d Lip had been a very busy girl that afternoon.

“It was my duty to clean the gene pool.” She thought with a righteous little smile creeping up her snout.

cshultz81's picture
cshultz81 from Oklahoma is reading Best Horror of the Year Volume 8 August 8, 2012 - 5:52pm

Killer Defense

 

The papers gave me an inaccurate name.

They said I’m cold-blooded. Merciless. The kind of creature that would eat its young. For these reasons, they dubbed me the Raptor.

First of all, my blood is warm. It doesn't matter that I've spilled men’s blood and known their warmth too. It’s instinctual. No one understands the need. To lacerate. To disembowel.

Second, I have shown mercy. Nobody deserves what I do. But the last one… I just let him go. Dropped him somewhere near the bar where we met--eyes blindfolded, clothes destroyed by my blade. Bleeding in places, but alive.

He cried, he begged. Like they all did. There was no reason for it, but I showed mercy.

Third, I have no children, and I never will. My mother and I didn’t get along. I’ve made it a point to be her antithesis, so I won’t accept a man’s fertilizer into my womb. Though if I did have kids, I certainly wouldn’t eat them.

See, everyone thinks I’m like the fiend in that big Hollywood movie: a conniving, man-sized reptile wreaking carnivorous havoc on innocent lives. But that’s fiction. In reality, the velociraptor was about the size of a beagle and covered in feathers. Like a bird. “Experts” still assume they were vicious, but what do we really know about extinct animals anyway? They did what they did to survive.

I’m no monster. I’m just an animal. Acting on instinct.

I’m just trying to survive.

mamewhit's picture
mamewhit August 9, 2012 - 1:19pm

 

"the hollow earth between the devil and the deep blue sea"

the storm was raging pummeling the ship like predator.  a derecho  pushed waves to a

turbulent trough.  i had been sucked down and had a vision. a dystopian dream!   was it real?! 

like a lucid dream  i had been caught in a water spout and  popped up in a cave.  a curious

phrase kept running through my head “it seems i had been caught "between the devil and the

deep blue sea". the walls of the underwater cave were visible as sound waves were causing a

constant sonoluminescence.  the glow was blinding. as my eyes adjusted I saw the

chasm.  a tropical jungle. the ground shook and i heard the roar of a great beast, a raptor

finishing his meal. my first instinct was to hide, i found cover in the underbrush. , "There he

is!" pointing at me i was quickly surrounded by what were hybrid humans." get him behind the

rock wall" shouted one of the men dressed in scy-fy suits. i remember  being examined,  i

waited for my opportunity to run. suddenly i heard the most harmonic mesmerizing sound.   a

loop that played continuously like a mobius strip. they started heading off

in one direction. this was my time.  music reverberated through the hollow earth. i locked

eyes  with that terrible lizard. it chased me back to the frigid waters.  i was sucked to the

surface and spit back near the ship,  known as the tyrant,   somewhere between the devil and

the deep blue sea.

Mr. INC's picture
Mr. INC from Springfield, MO is reading Cosmopolis by Don DeLillo August 11, 2012 - 8:54am

                                                     Lunch Meeting

“No Mike, you can’t eat the head of the dinosaur.”
“You said it wasn’t-“
“It’s not. It’s not a dinosaur, but the research tag was all numbers.”
“Boring.”
“Right, so we’ll say dinosaur. You got it upside down anyway, you want to eat the heart.”
“To get the...? Right. Eat the heart to get the strength of nature’s perfect death machine. I always mix that one up.”
 

They look out the barricaded corner office at Dan Wasserman, CFO of Pendulum Biotech. His heels are barely on the floor, his back arched and the weight on his shoulders slowly driving him into the desk of a copyrighter. He’s pinned by its left leg, two claws coming from on top of the foot and reaching over his chest, coming to the hooks of talons just over his shoulders. The desk’s finish scratched, Wasserman looks ready to die, curious only why the thing is mauve.
 

Mikey scribbles in red Sharpie. James tells him to hold the sign against the glass.
 

                                                 $7.24 Per Share
                                                   Final Offer
 

Mike’s still pissed.
“Man, sealing the building with US inside? Mallik is such an ass. So you taped the bomb to the back of its neck?”
“Yep.”
“So when we get out of here?”
“We kill Mallik.”
“Cool. Do you think we’d get fired if I grabbed the dead dinosaur head and used it to go all Pac Man on him.”
“I wouldn’t fire us after that.”
“I wouldn’t make us negotiate any more takeovers either.”

Mitchopolis's picture
Mitchopolis from Covington, LA is reading A Clash of Kings: A Song of Fire and Ice Book Two August 12, 2012 - 7:04am
Mesozoic Revelations

“Who’s that dinosaur on the mountain stirring up all the others?” Grrl motioned.

Rwwr looked up from his meal. “Don’t know.” He stretched his long neck and sniffed deeply toward the arm-flailing and head-bobbing dinosaur that had the others stomping, growling and tail pounding. “He’s too far away to smell, but he looks like…  Nah, can’t be him.”

“Can’t be who?”

“Well, he looks like that dinosaur that created a stir several moons ago,” Rwwr related.

“You mean that crazy white and brown dinosaur, who claimed to be the hatchling of the Grand Rex?” Grrl squinted at the dinosaur on the mount.

“Yes, that one, but I thought he said he was the Grand Rex. Either way it can’t be him,” Rwwr conveyed.

“Sure does look like him though.”

“Unless he can come back from the boneyard, that ain’t him, Grrl. The Komodo Council executed him for dinoheterodoxy?”

“Let’s move closer, Rwwr. I want to taste his scent. I remember his smell distinctly.  It made me feel, I don’t know, at peace.”

“You’re right. He smelled like contentment, but I’m telling you that isn’t him,” Rwwr contended.

The two dinosaurs lumbered across the plains. Some of the reptiles who had been listening to the one on the mount suddenly bolted across the plains.

“Whoa, look at that,” Grrl communicated.

Rwwr followed his companion’s gaze to streaks of fire falling from the sky, and distant vibrations rattled the earth beneath their claws. “That can’t be good.  I’m going home.”

Cat.luree.Moore's picture
Cat.luree.Moore from Iowa is reading Heartsick August 12, 2012 - 6:43pm

The Teacher

"The only thing that I ever did meaningful in my life was teaching elementary school science class." Hearing this verbalized reflection was almost more depressing than hiding in this glorified outhouse of a bomb shelter. And all these people that I'm with, they're just staring at me with eager faces.

"What's everyone looking at?" My uncomfortable fidgeting was starting to get on my own nerves.
"You're a science teacher? That means you know how to handle those things?" This coming from a little gal named Gwen.
In what reality did being a science teacher, mean I knew how to fight or tame dinosaurs?
"Well if what you mean by handle that I know all the different species and how to sing rhyming verses so that eight year olds can remember them too, then yes I know how to handle them." I couldn't help but smile at this last part.
"No, what I mean to say," Gwen said, "is that you could lead us somewhere safe because you know their likes and dislikes."
Mulling this over I thought that it might be worth it, dying out there would be at least better than dying in here. "Okay I have an idea. Is there anything in here that could make us smell less like a tasty meat snack and more like an acid-y stale leaf stalk?"
While watching these people slather themselves in chemicals I thought yes, maybe being a science teacher is the most meaningful part of my life.

Michael Siemens's picture
Michael Siemens from Victoria, BC is reading Infinite Jest - David Foster Wallace August 12, 2012 - 7:10pm

Tequila and Driver

Me and my boys called them "Raptors".  Desperate women who were too old to be properly classified as cougars, and too young to be dead.  Every third Saturday of the month, me and my boys would go to local dive bars and wait for the inevitable Raptor to come in, her face slathered in borderline-clown makeup and almost breaking apart at the saggy seams.  Tequila shots would be ordered until someone gave up and took the Raptor home. 

   Raptors never said no.

   So, I became addicted.  After about six shots (and several beers before those) had turned my throat into scorched Russian tundra, I would lurch forward, my face glistening with sweat and my drunken friends shouting slurred jeers behind me.  Smiling and nodding and whispering all the right compliments in the sad old lady’s wrinkled ear, I would grasp her by the loose arm-fat and take her to my sparse studio apartment and fuck her.

   Raptors never said stop.

   They would grab at the stretch marks on my back that never went away no matter how much I worked out.  They would call me by their dead husband’s name, or – if they hadn’t had a husband – they would call me Rock Hudson.  Finally, the Raptor would collapse in orgasm and I’d beat her head in with a battered 460cc driver and shove her in my trunk and dispose of her body in the river and then bleach my apartment plus car and then cry and sleep.

   Nobody misses Raptors.

JamieM's picture
JamieM from Scotland August 13, 2012 - 9:20am

Days at Office

CSIs scour behind cordoned off police tape. A crime. Rookie cops white faced. Vet cops tremble. A bad crime. Blood and blood and guts and limbs. Victim was a hobo. Last victim was a teacher. First victim was a little girl. Only her legs found. A bad crime. Serial killer on rampage. Perhaps. No motive behind killings, no rhyme nor reason. Just blood, guts, limbs. A guarantee of future nightmares. CSI’s scour. A vet cop pukes behind shrub.

A junkie nutjob hauled in. A witness to one of the killings. Little left recognisable of victim in question. Junkie claims some animal did it. Some big hissing animal. Crazy junkie nutjob. Blood spatter on his shirt. On shoes. In his hair. Junkie had tried to clean it off, tried to bleach it off. Nutjob can’t fool forensics. Nutjob arrested, bound. Off to the chair with him. Crime solved. Case closed.

Cops paid salary, meagre pat on back. Cops go home. Home to partners weary. To children distant. To whores who don’t ask questions, don’t bother trying to understand. Blood and guts and limbs burned onto retinas. Sleepless nights and popping pills. And that stench; that lingering, reeking, rancid stench. Last glass didn’t help any, maybe next one will. Fill ‘er up. Down the hatch. Repeat till done.

Tomorrow the junkie fries. The morning will find the remains of a woman. Torn. Disembowelled. Blood. Guts. Limbs. Call the police. Bring out the CSIs. Cordon off the crime scene. Let’s get to work.

 
 

Kelby Losack's picture
Kelby Losack from Texas is reading Muerte Con Carne; The Summer Job; Bizarro Bizarro August 14, 2012 - 8:20pm

Under the Skin

She almost spits out her red wine when I tell her I haven't been taking the injections. 

 

She whispers, "Are you trying to destroy us?" 

 

Everyone at this dinner party has flawless skin, flawless everything, save for the track marks hidden beneath flesh tone consealant. I haven't touched the needle in days, and now she notices the crow's feet. The forehead wrinkles. The scars. She says, "How dare you" and storms off.

 

One week later, I'm peeling off chunks of flesh in the mirror waiting for the agents in hazmat suits to arrive in their shiny black van.

 

When they handcuff me, throw a sack over my head and toss me in the back of the van, she wants to cry, but her eyeliner isn't waterproof.

 

When they pull the sack off my head, taking the rest of my face and hair with it, the city is miles of desert behind us. I ask where we are. One of the masked agents says, "A place where you can freely shed your skin." 

 

The doors open. The moonlight burns my new raw flesh. A black boot kicks me into a hole in the ground. The moonlight disappears. Behind the steel cellar door, there's the distant sound of tires squealing. 

 

A match strikes. My eyes take a second to adjust. In the faint orange glow, a leathery-skinned creature smiles with razor-sharp teeth, looks at me with cat-like eyes, and sees the same thing I see. 

 

"Welcome back to humanity," the creature says. 

La Emme Nikita's picture
Class Facilitator
La Emme Nikita from Los Angeles is reading Pandemonium by Daryl Gregory August 16, 2012 - 8:48am

Relocation

The automated mister program started with a hiss, rousing the Gardener from her thoughts. She lolled her head in great circles, easing the muscles in her tired neck, and glanced down at the console.

Supplemental scans were still running, but the first team had been sent to the surface four hours ago. When initial scans had revealed liquid water, a temperate climate and the right percentages of nitrogen and oxygen the atmosphere on the ship had turned from somber and weary to rejoicing in an instant. Even the usually reclusive Gardener had left her post in the oxygen forest to join in the festivities last night.

She ambled through her precious forest, shrouded in mist, wondering what would become of it when they landed. She’d prepared seedlings in the eventuality that this day would come, but what of the established trees? One of the small striped feeder deer crossed her path, stopping to watch her before moving on. She was no threat, not like the Hunters that harvested them.

The viewport shield opened with a touch of her three-fingered hand and she looked down at the planet below. Blue and green, illuminated by its yellow dwarf, so similar to the home she’d fled years ago when the asteroid came. All their technology lost, save this ship. She thought she would die onboard without ever setting foot on terrestrial earth again, old as she was. Her tail swished pensively.

The comm buzzed a message: “Gardener, they are ready for you.”

 
 
Kevin Maddox's picture
Kevin Maddox from Melstrand, Mi is reading Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut August 17, 2012 - 6:51am

REPTILE MIND

 

 

     The leaves shiver. It can smell me. Step light. Just warming up my stealth. Smelling the fresh shit from the hairy swine makes me wonder, how close can I get before it runs?

     Approximately ten feet.

     I stomp the pork-chop into the ground, piercing its skull with my toe-claw. The blood and guts falling away from my talons feels like an empowering massage.

     I leave this one for the little birds watching in the trees above. Now that the blood is flowing, it's time for the big game.

     I stalk through the overgrown foliage. Nearest to silence as can be.

     I feel the ground rumble,sensing something three times my size...

     It approaches, unaware of my presence. Smelling its thick musk, I know it's one of those brown furry animals, with two huge teeth sticking out the front of its face.

     Remain silent. Allow it to nearly pass by...

     If it noticed me, it assumed I was merely a harmless herbivore. Part of the game. The pleasure of the hunt. Know the preys next move, but let them think they're safe for as long as possible.

     The beast is so stupid, it doesn't have a clue what's coming next.

     Springing from the ground onto its back, digging my claws deep into the flesh. I'm taken for a ride.

     We don't get far before my teeth are sunk in and around the neck of my breakfast. Severing vital arteries and grinding through spine bones. The warm blood washes over my face as the wooly beast drops and slides into a dusty grave.

    Overwhelmed by the excitement of the kill, I shred and fling hairy flesh and stinking organs as I devour, leaving many scraps that shall be picked clean later by all forms of scavengers and parasites.

     

Naomi Mesbur's picture
Naomi Mesbur from Toronto, Ontario, Canada is reading Burn Baby Burn Baby by Kevin T. Craig August 20, 2012 - 6:20pm

A New Friend

It was small and round and plump, and it opened its mouth to mimic the sound of water rushing over large, smooth stones. Two small front teeth protruded from its bright, pink gums. Fur sprouted from the top of its fruit-shaped head.  Its eyes were the colour of the sky, and they sparkled in the daylight.

Larger ones of its kind formed a pack to surround the one holding it. They had covered their own fur with the fur of other animals. The pack reeked of rotting carcasses, mouldy tree roots and fear.   But the little one smelled of flowers, sweet feces, and sunshine.  It pointed a rounded claw from its paw towards the Creature’s yellow eyes, and continued to make its gurgling sound.

The Creature huffed through its nose. The creases near its mouth began to curve upward.  The fat, little animal screeched, and then imitated the Creature’s mouth movements.

The Creature extended its neck forward, tilted its head to one side, and moved its face close to the little one. The large one holding the little one tightened its embrace. The little one wriggled to escape the large one’s grip, reaching its paws towards the Creature’s nose.

The larger pack members lifted sticks into the air. The Creature stood tall and lumbered away. After a few steps, the Creature halted. It turned its ear to listen to the gurgles, and saw the little one wave its paw.

Jonathan Riley's picture
Jonathan Riley from Memphis, Tennessee is reading Flashover by Gordon Highland January 27, 2013 - 6:10pm

Removed

Jacob Good's picture
Jacob Good from Idaho is reading Asimov on Chemistry August 21, 2012 - 5:30pm

Extinctual

He knew nothing about dinosaurs except that they once existed but were now extinct, and he was locked into a race of creatures that were temporarily the opposite. He couldn’t find any interest in the terrible lizards. He found them boring and not interesting at all, except as the stimuli of other children whom he studied intently.

He was never the boy who played with toys. Psychology was his specialty, and practicing it while on the playground suited him better than running around with injection-molded green plastic. He often opined that only monsters could find motivation from playing with monsters.

During recess, when the collective of children ran in mindless paths across trampled grass, he preferred to sit calmly in the corner in order to watch the chaos of unbridled youth. On the rare occasion that another child would see him sitting alone with his thoughts and, feeling bad for him, would come over to say hello, he would be startled by their unintended gibberish. They wrongly assumed that he required friendship amidst the throng of addle-brains, and within seconds of trying to help him they realized this fact from the befuddled scowl on his face. They would inevitably leave to continue whatever they were doing.

Alone again in his own mind, the only place where his utopia could be found, he closed his eyes and imagined an asteroid taking him away. He smirked and realized that he actually did find interest in dinosaurs—through hatred.

He was jealous.

James Dougherty's picture
James Dougherty from Liverpool, England is reading God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater August 22, 2012 - 1:14pm

Apex Predators

 

It’s just one of those things you have to experience for yourself, you know? That sense of dread. Fear, in its purest and most base form. Your heart stops for a second, before trying to punch through your ribcage, sending gallons of blood swirling and thumping around your skull. Everything in sharp focus. It’s that moment, when you first lock eyes, that all of your training is squeezed out of your head and into a crumpled heap on the floor.

You can see all of his muscles are tensed and primed. Kinetic energy stored and ready to combust. He’s done this before. It’s become instinct for him, and his choice is made. You have to make yours. Do you attack?

Or do you run?

You know if you run that you have to turn your back on him. This means you are dead. You know there is no use in trying to call his bluff. Surrender is not in his repertoire. But your feet remain rooted in the leaf litter. You know the odds are stacked against you. This is a fight that you likely won’t walk away from.

A flock of birds penetrate the silence, and before you know it, you’ve both made your moves. Muscle memory kicks in. He raises his weapon. You protract your claws. There’s a burst of light, and a rush of air pushing past your head. Your body becomes taut as you launch off the ground, tail rigid. Fangs bared.

Paul D Brazill's picture
Paul D Brazill from England is reading Ask The Dice by Ed Lynskey August 23, 2012 - 12:14pm

Meeting Mr Cornflakes.

Mr Cornflakes eased the two Lidl carrier bags onto the wet pavement and wiggled his fingers. He took a deep breath, picked them up and waddled on down the high street.


He’d changed somewhat over the last twenty years. His psoriasis, which had earned him his nick name, looked like it was under control but his skinny neck seemed elongated to snapping point and his eyes were yellow, bulging. He was completely bald now, too. He looked like one of those dinosaurs, a raptor, I think they’re called. I’m sure that’s what the kids would call him now, if he was still teaching. Still making kids’ lives a misery.


I drove slowly past him replaying all the humiliations that I’d endured at his hands. The times I'd wanted to smash his skull in. Jab a fountain pen in his eye. Thought about how easy it would be the ram my car into him and drive off. Crush those bent legs.


But he just looked pathetic now, in his worn suit, with his arthritic hands. And I thought about how much I’d achieved, my expensive cars, homes around the world, and how living well really was the best revenge.


For the most part, anyway, I thought, as I turned the car, sped up and splashed through a puddle, soaking Mr Cornflakes.Sometimes, it’s the little things that make a day.

Attani's picture
Attani from California is reading Somewhere Beneath Those Waves August 23, 2012 - 3:37pm

Petz

I like animals.

Animals are better than people. They’re real, not phony, two-faced or superficial. They’re just themselves, take it or leave it, now feed me.

I had a Rott for a while. For ten years she was my baby. Her name was Tasha and she was the smartest dog ever. But she got sick and died as purebred dogs tend to do. Cracked my heart wide open.

Afterwards, I got some kittens. Couldn’t bring myself to get another dog. They seemed kinda silly at first but they grew into excellent mouse catchers. That’s important where I live out here on my own, south of town. Ain’t no one around for miles. Hidden by some hills, my property affords me the privacy I like and yes, I do have a gun to protect that privacy.

Weird crap happens out in the world; people do stupid things. Can’t leave well enough alone. I don’t like none of it.

One day I hear this snuffling sound round the back door. I opened it and saw what I had never seen before. Well, not in person, so to speak. No bigger than me and green with the widest mouth. It didn’t belong. Not in this part of the world, not in this millennium times one hundred thousand. But some idiot brought it back into this world. Probably wants to experiment on it. Just a baby, really.

That’s when I noticed the cats were missing. Have to get more. Mice won’t be enough.

Sam Rennie's picture
Sam Rennie August 25, 2012 - 7:33am

A Reaction.

The dinosaur head lies propped on his hand, peaking from the foot of her bed. A cardboard jungle backdrop sits inches behind, resting on a table.

‘Rawr! I hope there aren’t any sad girls in this room,’ he growls, flapping his fingers to make the dinosaur talk. Crouching, he looks up at his raised arm, making sure it doesn’t poke out from the neck.

She stares.

‘You seem guilty! Now watch. I’ll stop you from being sad…I…I…will…hospitals? It…more like hospboring! No wonder they call you patients.’

She blinks.

‘Because…’ His rough voice weakens. ‘Because you’re always waiting for something to do.’

She coughs, her hair jumping with it.

‘Oh, come on, won’t you laugh? At least smile?'

He shuffles. His foot hits the table and the backdrop collapses.

When he flips it back up his arm reveals itself.

‘No no no.’

He stands, plucks the dinosaur from his hand and lets it slap onto the floor.

Now he’s into his carrier bag.

After changing he turns, a green wig sloping down the top of his head and a blue nose smothering the centre of his face.

‘Really? No? Nothing?’

He slumps forward, exhausted. The wig falls and puffs on the ground.

A chair squeaks as he sits down beside her.

‘Not even…’ He plucks the blue circle from his nose and clips it onto hers.

‘Why so blue?’ he adds, desperately.

Her face crinkles as her mouth bends into a smile.

lspieller's picture
lspieller from Los Angeles is reading LEVIATHAN August 25, 2012 - 10:18pm

Harold Learns a Lesson

 

Harold sniffed the air, his eyes wide. Bacon? he thought, On a Friday?

He ducked his head down, embarassed by his own presumptuousness. Aviva always said he was too judgemental -- maybe she was right. 

Harold crashed through a low palm and waded out into the river, careful not to get stuck in the muddy bank. He had to clean up before the sabbath. 

 

 

Frnkl's picture
Frnkl from Brescia, Italy is reading The Stand by Stephen King August 28, 2012 - 1:27am

Don’t let your body decide


“You’re going to be inserted into a velociraptor’s body,” said the captain.
“I know,” Dottri said as he got into the capsule.
“You’re going to move and see things as a raptor does.” The captain’s hand moved on a red button.
“I know.”

It was a weird sensation, Dottri thought; the human mind was not used to deal with such a powerful body: so nimble, so fast… so predator.
In the deep forest, Dottri’s new legs moved rapidly and silently. Then Dottri saw a human, ten feet from him. He stopped behind a tree.
The poor man was walking slowly and clumsily through the forest, a gun in his hands, completely unaware that a velociraptor was staring at him, preparing the fatal attack.


Dottri threw himself against the man, talons clicked open, but as he was right behind him, the man turned abruptly.
Dottri froze. How could the man notice his presence?
Then Dottri saw the man’s glance. Completely fearless. Something in the man’s eyes flickered.
The man smiled at him. It was a strange smile, as if that mouth had been used to completely different kind of teeth.
Instinctively, Dottri looked around.


In the deep forest, many other men were looking right at him, the same smile upon their faces.
Finally, Dottri understood. They were velociraptors inside human bodies.

La Emme Nikita's picture
Class Facilitator
La Emme Nikita from Los Angeles is reading Pandemonium by Daryl Gregory August 31, 2012 - 6:42am

Congratulations! Great job!

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Dino Parenti from Los Angeles is reading Everything He Gets His Hands On August 31, 2012 - 10:05am

Congrats twinkletoes3106!

CStodd's picture
CStodd from NY is reading Annie Prouxl's Fine Just the Way It Is August 31, 2012 - 1:50pm

twinkletoes, gettin it done! Nice job. 

Jonathan Riley's picture
Jonathan Riley from Memphis, Tennessee is reading Flashover by Gordon Highland August 31, 2012 - 5:54pm

Way to go Twinkletoes!

twinkletoes3106's picture
twinkletoes3106 from Phoenix, AZ is reading The Electric Michelangelo by Sarah Hall September 2, 2012 - 10:03am

Thank you so much! I'm on vacation and just saw this. What a beautiful morning. Thank you for the support, guys. Very much appreciated!