SConley's picture
SConley from Texas is reading Coin Locker Babies April 19, 2013 - 9:28am

Just some dialogue, couldn't find a decent paragraph that didn't need exposition.

“You love him,” Anjelica said and she poured vodka into the sticky little syrup cup.
Janelle took the shot from her and downed it and winced, “Don’t tell him that. Wow that’s good stuff.”
Anjelica drank hers too and shook her head.
“You guys are crazy.”
“You drank more than I did last night.”
“So what. Still crazy.”
“Okay time to puke,” and Janelle was up and across the room and into Chaz’s bathroom in a few seconds.
“Are you gonna eat that taquito? She’s gonna want it when she gets back, watch.”
I looked down at it, I’d forgotten it was even there, “Ugh no. I’m not ready for food yet either.”
“Drink a shot. Come on, it’s Saturday,” she rocked the bottle back and forth in one hand at me.
“Stop,” with a smile, “Wait until the sun goes down at least a little bit.”
She set down the bottle, “So you like this boy, huh?”
“I dunno. Probably. I kind of want to go see if he’s home.”
“That’s cute. We should all go.”
Janelle re-entered the room, “Go where? I puked up all of those pancakes and now I’m hungry again.”
“To see Elijah,” Anjelica turned her head at Janelle.
“Yeah let’s do it,” then she yelled with her fists up, “Road trip!”
“It is far too early for that kind of enthusiasm,” I said, “He lives right up the street.”
“Whatever,” she sauntered to the bed, wiping her hands on her little shorts, “Ooh, is that a taquito?”

Flybywrite's picture
Flybywrite from Rocky Point, Long Island is reading The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky, by Stephen Crane May 7, 2013 - 11:20am

Great idea for a thread, Avery.  Just came out of iso after finishing a short novel called Gorilla in the Midst to the best of my ability anyway, so perfect for me.  Tanks for the idea and I'm working on succinct and here's my paragraph:

   "Finley was soon astounded by the intensity with which this high had begun passing all previous standards. He nearly went ass over tea kettle as he pulled his bright, young porn star’s CD out of his sexual training file.  Finley had purchased the green, plastic accordion file with the idea of becoming a late blooming, fascinatingly sexual man, at the age of 59, just three nights after his brutal separation in mid-October.  Divorce, from the Academy Award winning actress Rebecca Ronstun had become final on April 21st, five months after Rebecca’s confession she was two months pregnant, and by a nationally renowned championship cage fighter named Nick Testo to boot. Thank God, Finley had so often thought and also cried out on many an early morning to come, since the divorce, that The Good Princess Hayden O’Leary had gone on to become his one true love.  Hayden’s slot in the file between the letters G and F had become unoccupied following the divorce.  Finley had begun to sleep with the image from her CD case atop the pillow next to his.  He got it that this was where a breathing human head really ought to have been, but that hardly mattered.  At least she was his." 



Alex Kane's picture
Alex Kane from west-central Illinois is reading Dark Orbit May 13, 2013 - 8:30pm

From my new Dark Expanse draft-in-progress, "Liquid State":

Rotting floorboards creaked underfoot as Chimala made his way to the bar, mercury-vapor lamps flaring all around him in monochrome. He squinted against the club lighting and pyrotechnics. The room fell dark with each sudden quake of the bassline. Patrons all around craned their necks to eye the only Saurian in the place, no doubt hopeful that they’d get a chance to see some bloodshed tonight. Chimala set his repeater down on the countertop and then took a seat, tail flowing behind him. He pulled loose the railgun’s power cell, stood it up on end.

Nav Persona's picture
Nav Persona from Purgatory is reading The Babayaga May 14, 2013 - 12:05am

(can anybody join in? lol)

From a WIP: "The Sea, The Summons, And The The Serpent":

All life begins and ends with the sea. The sea nurtured life into existence, cradled it as it left home to explore new terrain, and once in a while, the sea reaches out to reclaim its wandering children. It has no heart, no sentiments, no purpose other than sustaining and taking life. The sea is where I first met Amanda, and the sea is what took her from me.


ReneeAPickup's picture
Class Facilitator
ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading Wanderers by Chuck Wendig June 5, 2013 - 4:43pm

BUMP! I love seeing this.

coscooper's picture
coscooper from Longmont, Colorado is reading Books of Blood : Volume 2 June 5, 2013 - 5:55pm

From a short story WIP: "Something Special"

Aaron knew better than to wipe saliva from his tongue using the filthy rag.  Stiff, found on the floor in a house that hadn't been lived in over a year, it crinkled with black gunk. Old kerosene tainted cloth was better than the rancid meat taste forcing his gag reflex to ebb and buck, waves convulsing his chest. Sulfur water didn't help either. Better than oily kerosene, his mouth exploded with taste his body fought to reject. Swallowing the milky rotten egg water from the old well outback, his throat constricted forcing down the liquid. Hydrate or die, his father had said on more than one occasion.

Devon Robbins's picture
Devon Robbins from Utah is reading The Least Of My Scars by Stephen Graham Jones June 6, 2013 - 6:23am

Sensory deprivation. Gloom. Silence. The room; as dark and empty as his mind is. His fingers walk across the moist carpet, searching for the bottle, the lighter. Cigarette perched between his lips, Fin lies flat on the bed. He sucks the mildewed air through the filter. Sweet taste of pre-cancer tobacco. Water falls from the faucet in the bathroom, each drop echoing throughout the empty house. Fingernails scrape the glass and he pulls the bottle onto his chest. The glass sucks in any stray bits of light and reflects them back at him. Warm gin as an emotional catalyst. His memories are in there. His anger. Sorrow. But most of all, in there is the feeling of having one foot chained to the floor.
Consequences. Damages. Permanence bound to single actions. The grind of a straight razor carving a notch in your cheekbone. The sound of your ribs breaking under the swing of a baseball bat. These are the memories that need to be kept alive, fundamentals in decision making. A way to gauge their worth.

Bob Pastorella's picture
Bob Pastorella from Groves, Texas is reading murder books trying to stay hip, I'm thinking of you, and you're out there so Say your prayers, Say your prayers, Say your prayers June 6, 2013 - 6:58am

This is the first paragraph from another WIP: 


There’s a movie poster of Nosferatu in Kurt’s bedroom on the ceiling over his bed. He says Max Schreck, the actor portraying the vampire, is the closest anyone’s ever came to capturing the creature’s essence on film. Kurt’s probably seen the movie about hundred times. His vampire film collection is exhausting. Below the poster on the ceiling is another poster on the wall next bed, this one of Lon Chaney in London After Midnight, a film famous for the fact that no known print exists in the world, lost forever. The movie is really about a hypnotist, not a vampire, but Kurt doesn’t care, he just likes the poster. London After Midnight is one of Kurt’s white whales for his film collection. Books shelves line his walls, filled with dog-eared paperbacks with bloody fangs on the covers, necks ripped open, haunting eyes peering back at the reader, beckoning entrance to the masquerade of death. 

ReneeAPickup's picture
Class Facilitator
ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading Wanderers by Chuck Wendig June 6, 2013 - 10:09am

He twisted the lapel pin on his shirt and she disappeared. Without looking at the spot on the couch where she had been, he walked into the kitchen and brought out a bottle of middle shelf whiskey. Hand shaking, he pulled a short tumbler from the cabinet and filled it. He drained the glass and poured another, still standing against the counter. Eyes tight, he brought his hand to his chest again, and pressed down hard on the lumpy, welted skin. He took a swig straight from the bottle and let himself cry.

Shannon Barber's picture
Shannon Barber from Seattle is reading Paradoxia: A Predators Diary by Lydia Lunch June 6, 2013 - 4:23pm

She guides me into the promised love and immortality with those hands.
I died gasping, gape mouthed and in love with my God. As she kissed my
last breath away I entered her and to live inside her sweet mouth

Devon Robbins's picture
Devon Robbins from Utah is reading The Least Of My Scars by Stephen Graham Jones June 10, 2013 - 1:40pm

Moths. Fucking moths are everywhere. Like flying cockroaches. Seven of them take turns pinging off the bare lightbulb in a whirlwind ballet. I'm choking on my anxiousness and I don't know if I should puke or bang my head into the wall. Already, I'm wishing I didn't pour out the rest of the bottle.
After further inspection of the facility, I decide to shower with my socks on. Lather my whole body with dog shampoo and get out as quick as possible. Rifle through the backpack and pull clean underwear and semi-clean shirt onto my dripping wet frame. Jerry Springer crackles from the TV in the living room. Anxiousness is now full blown nausea. I fight on a pair of jeans and stick my middle finger to the back of my throat to initiate the purge.

Kelby Losack's picture
Kelby Losack from Texas is reading Muerte Con Carne; The Summer Job; Bizarro Bizarro June 10, 2013 - 8:29pm

The door opens. Grace takes the final drag of a cigarette and sprinkles a micro meteor shower onto my shoe. I stomp out the embers and kick-sweep the ashes down the stairs.

Grace slumps against the door frame and lights up another, nodding to the living room to welcome me in.

The couch creaks when I sit. A naked spring bounces like a slinky. I try not to think of the origins of the stains.

'Spare some skag?' I cringe at how my voice screeches.

'I’ll get my gear,' Grace says.

She closes the door and drags her leather heels down the hall. A gold Rolex sits on the coffee table. I watch it tick until Grace returns with a worn case, which she drops on the bar.

'Hey,' I say, 'Maybe we can have breakfast first.'

'I’m out of peach yogurt,' she says, setting two baggie-sealed syringes marked GRACE and TOMMY on the bar.

'That’s fine. I can make toast. That’s all I can make, but I think I’ve perfected the butter-to-jam ratio. It’s pretty good.'

She sets a bag of cotton balls on the bar. She points to an ironed men’s suit hanging on a ceramic unicorn’s horn. She says, 'I’m returning some clothes. I’ll have to take a hit and go.'

'Oh. Okay.'

She uses a pot and Bunsen burner to cook up for both of us.

'I don’t think I ever thanked you,' she says, 'for introducing me to this stuff.'

I grimace, watch the brown sugar melt in the citric acid. I wonder why no one calls heroin gravy. 'Don’t mention it,' I say, 'please.'

--Toxic Garbage. 

More than a paragraph, I know, but it's kind of a bunch of small sentences to set up a scene, so I hope I'm not overkilling my post in this thread. Anyway, this is from my debut novel I'm nearly finished with after 3 drafts and close to a hundred revisions. Revising is brutal, but it's largely due to this site and the community on it that I've endured. Thanks everyone. I love reading your stuff on here.


Kelby Losack's picture
Kelby Losack from Texas is reading Muerte Con Carne; The Summer Job; Bizarro Bizarro June 10, 2013 - 8:30pm

I don't know what happened with the formatting of my post. Sorry about that. 

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated June 14, 2013 - 1:50am

Penni had a good heart, and believed in herself, and lots of other people had a lot of faith in her. She was a good kid from what I can gather. I want to tell you a story of a glorious battle, of her being an amazing warrior who bought time for others to escape, hurt Slaughter enough that we could take advantage of it. At least gave an amazing effort. Something. But that isn’t what happened. What happened is that when push came to shove, she wasn’t the real deal. And no amount of anything will make you what you aren’t. I mean for the love of Pete, how could a little girl think she was King Arthur? Which reminds me, yeah I know Merlin told her she was, but it turns out Merlin is kind of an idiot.

Fritz's picture
Fritz June 22, 2013 - 11:07am

Long time peeps - thought I'd throw down a diddy from one of the pieces I'm scratching on.

     Henry walked a tight circle on the dirt floor of his rackety cabin out in the woods. It was all woods out where he lived in the middle of nowhere. And he hated the woods. So, he walked his circle on the floor. He walked it until his leather shod feet cut a pattern into the hard packed dirt floor.

Nav Persona's picture
Nav Persona from Purgatory is reading The Babayaga June 22, 2013 - 11:25am

There's an extraordinary, although deceitful peace offered by the lullabye song of the shushing and lapping water against the hull of a small boat. The sea whispers its songs, and an occasional gull joins in a passing refrain while the tide rocks and soothes the intrepid soul who dares to face the depths alone. Every sailor understands that surviving the sea is purely by the sea's mercy.

WIP-"The Sea, The Summons, The Serpent"

Devon Robbins's picture
Devon Robbins from Utah is reading The Least Of My Scars by Stephen Graham Jones July 3, 2013 - 10:02am

God's fist splits my head in half with a single blow. Hummingbird wings flutter through the burnt pages of equivocal memories and I'm standing in the ashes with the Devil on my back, grinding my teeth into dust. I don't notice the vicious static that is tearing my ears apart until it stops. And the silence wraps itself around me like a noose made of thorns.
A malignant heartbeat cries out, somewhere out of reach. The second hand on the clock ticks once. I say her name softly and take a step forward, easy, as if walking across clouds. Stay-away-from-me, flows out of her mouth as a single word.

Michael.Eric.Snyder's picture
Michael.Eric.Snyder July 4, 2013 - 6:58pm

So like the goof I am, I wrote a story based on a battle prompt, and I wasn't even part of the battle. Nice! Anyway, I sent it to JR. He was nice enough to want to read it anyways, and he told me when reading the following paragraph he lost a bit of his Corona all over his computer monitor. (I hope he doesn't mind me revealing his solitary spit-take.) I thought it might be nice to add a bit of VULGAR spice to this thread. Read at your own risk... although it may be this passage needs the context of the preceding story to go with it:

In a nutshell, Jury was confused. But what he DID know was INDEED General Dot lorded above him in her magical stilettos, gun hung, stiff and pendulous between the V of her legs like a petrified cock, but fleetingly so, illusory, now just an instrument of death, not unlike her smelly, legendary grab-bag crotch. A god-damned superpower, that hotbox. Even here in the jungle, in this miasmic orgy of natural putrescence, her cunt squiffed a rarified scent. She was a fucking villain, General Dot, she fucking was

Devon Robbins's picture
Devon Robbins from Utah is reading The Least Of My Scars by Stephen Graham Jones July 4, 2013 - 7:46pm


Nav Persona's picture
Nav Persona from Purgatory is reading The Babayaga July 4, 2013 - 7:46pm

(A clandestine meeting in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico -Jeremy discovered that the love of his life is.. not all she seems, and Daddy doesn't like her going out with humans...)

"Just as she went over the side, the boat shattered into splinters. The impact heaved my body several yards into the air, and the fall sent me several feet below the surface. I foundered in the hazy silt stirred up by an angry father, and grabbed my thigh where blood misted out into the water. My muted scream rose in uneven bubbles as I pulled a foot-long splinter of wood from my leg. I rose into the surface, expelling water from my lungs, and welcoming the sea into my body through an open vein. My brain sparked with fire."

Covewriter's picture
Covewriter from Nashville, Tennessee is reading & Sons July 5, 2013 - 7:32pm

This is the beginning of a story from a writing prompt out there now. Any feedback welcome: 

There must have been thousands of people standing in the rain that day. Everyone cloaked in plastic rain coats and panchos, sipping energy drinks, eating bannannas, stretching, waiting for the rain to stop. I pull my phone from my waist pouch and text

" Im here. Where r u?" 

Usually I could spot Anne Marie in a crowd. She was tall, and her deep red hair, the color of Georgia clay flowing down a creek bed, singled her out. Today though, her hair would be covered with a rain hat. 

DING. " At marker 63." 

I look up and see I am at 71, so I nudge my way through the crowd. 

I didn't find Anne Marie until the end of the race, and by that time I knew in my heart I'd lost her for good.


Devon Robbins's picture
Devon Robbins from Utah is reading The Least Of My Scars by Stephen Graham Jones July 10, 2013 - 7:21pm

And now I'm drifting toward the light like a dandelion floret. The light moves as it grows brighter. It's alive like a frying pan full of maggots. Ten foot flames blanket the surface and I draw in a lungful of fire, the most meaningful breath of my life.
Seductive fingers. Hundreds of them, like cold black leeches. They weave under my collarbone, through the veins in my throat, hauling me back into the abyss. And the pain is reborn. Gross clash of teeth against teeth. A headache heroin can't cure. It's as if war-born rottweilers are extracting my incisors, one at a time, breaking them off at the roots. My chest is a cage of splintered boards and bent nails. Each breath pierces through my organs and a death rattle blows out of my scorched throat as a black cloud of ash.

Kidneys full of shattered glass. A newborn tumor in my throat, but no tears.

Close your eyes.
Pray it's malignant.

Brandon's picture
Brandon from KCMO is reading Made to Break July 10, 2013 - 8:04pm

“Who wouldn’t want to drink what the son of God does?” Coke’s CEO said.
Other heads of companies concurred with that line of logic, and so it wasn’t long before Jesus started cropping up in other ads: for Mercedes, for Nintendo and Kellogg’s.  Gigantic ads would be slapped on the faces of buildings of thy Lord and Savior wearing no shirt, Guess? jeans, his abs: rippled and cubed with some seventeen-year-old model submerging her fingers below his waistline.  Sometimes he did runway for Versace or Prada; the designers would take advantage of his legendary skills by having him model on water instead of wood or panes of glass.  He drank Voss and Grey Goose, both under contract.  These products and others were eventually branded with a prominent “” symbol to advertise the endorsement of thy Lord and Savior to the public.  They said: “The official sports drink of Jesus Christ” or “Son of God Jeans.”


Covewriter's picture
Covewriter from Nashville, Tennessee is reading & Sons July 11, 2013 - 8:43pm

Just read Brandon and Devon's. Good work guys. Im reading from the bottom up. 

Eddie McNamara's picture
Eddie McNamara from NYC is reading High as the Horse's Bridles July 13, 2013 - 4:58pm

 His head is leaning over the toilet bowl; I squat above him, the shiny black latex skirt is hiked up to my hipbone. Without warning: I piss on his face. I’m wearing a swastika armband, a peaked SS cap, and my toilet boy happens to be a Hasidic Jew in his mid 40s—a Chabad rabbi, naked from the waist down. He smells like an open can of chicken soup; feigning horror as he begs me to do whatever I want to him, as long as I spare his wife and daughter from the gas chamber. I shout shtok, which means shut up in Hebrew and he’s visibly aroused. Oddly, the sight of his curly tendrils floating in the water reminded me of being a little girl in school, and like all other little schoolgirls, I tell my teacher that I want to be a marine biologist when I grow up, but my English isn’t quite there yet and I can only manage marine biolog. What would 11-year-old me think of how things turned out? And what happened to that entire generation of girls who wanted to work with dolphins? How many of them realized their dream?

Devon Robbins's picture
Devon Robbins from Utah is reading The Least Of My Scars by Stephen Graham Jones July 29, 2013 - 8:35am

I'm thinking of the stars. My first sleep-over at Fin's house. He's trying to show me the stars that expand The Big Dipper into Ursa Major. And I'm thinking about Karen, about Fin reading books to her. The kind that have pictures that pop up off the pages. And I can see my mother, planting flowers that she could never get to bloom. She's in her light blue sundress that she only wore on Saturdays. Hair pulled back and held in place with a green headband. And she grabs my face with her soiled hands, tells me she loves me and kisses my nose.

The blade is so sharp that the pain is delayed. I feel the warmth of the blood before the pain of the cut. My whole body hurts from boots and screws and fists, so really, it makes no difference. Fin makes the second cut and this time I feel it. A scolding line of severed tissue that starts near my earlobe and dips down toward my jaw, then inches over to the crook of my lips.

Devon Robbins's picture
Devon Robbins from Utah is reading The Least Of My Scars by Stephen Graham Jones August 6, 2013 - 1:05pm

The sunrise trickles down the hallway from the kitchen windows. For a moment, I don't know where I am. Don't know who's hand I'm holding. I lift the hand to my face and squint to clear my vision. The tips of the nails are painted with a line of black. Rings on every finger.
Lauren turns her head into my chest. And I feel awkward and serene and guilty all at the same time. Both of us are cramped on the sour couch, legs sweating together. Her hair smells like exotic fruit should smell and it makes me feel worse. She seems to be doing well for herself and I have first-hand experience with ruining people.

L.W. Flouisa's picture
L.W. Flouisa from Tennessee is reading More Murakami August 7, 2013 - 9:49am

I'm going to be posting eventually anyway, so whatever.:P And yes, I tend to do smallar paragraphs. Word count is a weakness.

This is for my experimental short story:

They call it dream space. Jacked into a chair --- the maintenance crew monitored the computer --- I drifted into a long sleep, with probes plugged into my brain, the sleep aids were kicking in --- a long tunnel --- the pink world, it was bubbled. I slowly fell into the customers dream work factory. I watched the customer as a ghost --- he was shopping for ground beef and bacon on the grocery shelf.

I'm presently in the middle of rewriting the whole thing.

Kelby Losack's picture
Kelby Losack from Texas is reading Muerte Con Carne; The Summer Job; Bizarro Bizarro August 7, 2013 - 1:22pm

I lift my shirt and run a wet, red finger along the pink stretch marks under my belly button. When I told my mother I’d lost my precious little bastard, the second thing she told me was at least my hips are where they belong. At least my thighs and ass and stomach don’t make me look like a tiger’s mutilated victim.
She said all of this to me, and the first thing she said was she already knew. Dawn told her. Then she wanted to know, why did it take me three days to call?
The two stretch marks I do have, I color them red with my finger. The blood oozing from my forehead runs down to my chin, drips on the concrete floor.
I interlace my fingers and hold my stupid flat stomach. The girl in the mirror with her shattered face does the same.

--my debut novel, TOXIC GARBAGE. I'm hoping to finally finish this week!

@Brandon--your paragraph made me laugh. So awesome. Adding your book to my "To Buy" list. 

Jose F. Diaz's picture
Jose F. Diaz from Boston is reading Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel August 8, 2013 - 8:14pm

"Suicide becomes an option when imagination and reality collide in war. It’s all stories until you recover from an IED blast with a third leg. It’s not actually your third leg; it’s your best friend’s leg. You know it’s his because of the tattoo of a koi fish around the calf. At least part of the koi fish is still there. The rest has been disintegrated to fish chum. The bloody stump with a boot at the end is just there lying in your lap. The screams begin to become audible. This is when the real horror starts."


A story from the drawer that is getting another glance. This is the opening paragraph. 

Andrea Guldin's picture
Andrea Guldin from Northern British Columbia, Canada is reading Blood, Bones & Butter August 18, 2013 - 8:16pm

It's so inspiring to see everyone's work - beautiful.

Here is a paragraph from the middle of a chapter of my novel - the protagonist is attempting to fight off an assault in a lonely bar.

" My whole body thrashing to get away, he hardly seemed to notice.  Reaching down, he pulled up the hem of my skirt, and had it bunched firmly around my waist.  My mind was blank, thinking only of the immediacy of his rough touch as he quickly explored the exposed expanse of my thighs, skipping over the rough bandage without question.  His hands slipped between my knees as my legs opened to beat against him, as effective as a fly against a window, struggling to get outside.  He squeezed me tighter as I fought, dragging his fingers lightly up and down my thighs with his free hand, inching higher with each slow stroke.  He was strong.  I relaxed my body, readying myself as I anticipated my chance to escape.  He lowered his hand from my face and biting firmly into my lip, I chewed it as I pushed against his chest.  The arm holding me flexed in reaction, incapacitating as the breath was squeezed from my lungs.  I sucked in a shaky breath and released it as he groped my chest.  Gripping my breast, he explored the flesh with his whole hand, rough fingertips biting into my skin as I tried to pry away.
     “Relax, pet” he hissed, resting his hot palm firmly above the peeling bandage, high on my bare thigh.  I bent my head away from him, escaping his scent.  His mouth, shaped into an obscene smile, mocked me.  Lips curled back from his pale gums, his tongue slid slowly across the tips of his white teeth, resting to push hard against a sharp incisor."

ReneeAPickup's picture
Class Facilitator
ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading Wanderers by Chuck Wendig August 18, 2013 - 9:16pm

From the same WIP I've been posting from, getitng close to the end of the first draft... :


He could smell the vomit on the floor, the stink of his own sweat on the sheets. His side of the bed was cold and wet, he lay on his side and looked at the side of the bed where Holly used to sleep, the blankets pulled away and twisted, pillow discarded on the floor. He reached his hand across the bed and ran it gently over the cool, dry sheets, trying to remember what her hair smelled like when it would end up in a mess over his face in the night.

Andrea Guldin's picture
Andrea Guldin from Northern British Columbia, Canada is reading Blood, Bones & Butter August 18, 2013 - 9:59pm

@Renee - love this, he can't bring himself to move away from his own filth to soil her side of the bed, where it'd be a lot more comfortable for him.

avery of the dead's picture
avery of the dead from Kentucky is reading Cipher Sisters August 20, 2013 - 8:16am

Something isn’t right.  There’s a moist feeling to my shirt, as if the steam from the pot dampened it.  I look down and see two silver dollar sized wet patches soaking through my tee shirt.  I’m leaking.  All this fuss and commotion and breast pumps that don’t work, and here I am in the kitchen warming a bottle of formula while my breasts leak their goddamn precious wholesome milk into the cotton of my shirt.  

Sound's picture
Sound from Azusa, CA is reading Greener Pastures by Michael Wehunt August 20, 2013 - 8:54pm


Wind blew from the window, blowing dust from the curtains across the room. Dust kissed her lips, her nose. She wanted—needed— to sneeze, but in that moment, in that moment of sheer terror, she knew, just knew, if she made any sound the woman’s grin would turn to a gaping maw of teeth, and Lisbeth, unable to move, her sleeping bag restricting around her body tighter and tighter as she struggled would be succumb to those teeth. The grinning woman would have her, open her up, eat at the soft of her belly and lick at her juices. Mark, next to her, still would not wake.

She could not speak, the only sound would be the sound of the woman’s eating, as the shadows moved in all around her, coming to the feast. And when the words finally came to her, as the shadows danced all around her, enlivened by her life, her blood, the words came out in whispers:

I hate you. I love you, but I hate you.

Nav Persona's picture
Nav Persona from Purgatory is reading The Babayaga August 20, 2013 - 9:38pm

The dark is where people do things they don't want other people to see. It's where they can do the shameful in the open, in front of other partakers of darkness, and celebrate how shameless they are. Ronnie's Bar and Grill slouched behind a parking lot on the corner of Stanton and Swanson, and the regulars there religiously celebrated the lack of light in the place. On the dance floor, the smell of sweat, cheap beer, and cheaper cologne pulsed in time with the woofers pounding the air. All night long, Clarence Carter was strokin', Sir Mix-a-Lot declared his admiration for big butts, and Trent Reznor wanted to fuck you like an animal. An occasional conversation attempted to rise above the throbbing bass line, and it either ended with a slap in the face, or a quick walk outside to the back seat of a car. Or  both. If the parties involved were in a really big hurry, a bathroom stall provided just enough privacy and plenty of close walls against which to brace an arm, a leg, a backside.Cloudy glasses held cloudy beer for the dancers in a cloud of smoke. Bodies offered themsleves to the darkness, drank of the darkness, and the darkness loved them back.

Devon Robbins's picture
Devon Robbins from Utah is reading The Least Of My Scars by Stephen Graham Jones August 21, 2013 - 6:56am

I smoke cigarettes until it hurts to breathe, watching the sky shift through shades of black. The blades of a helicopter chop violently at the air in the distance, its white beam of light crashing over the buildings downtown, through the windows of the residential areas.
The stars of Orion's belt are barely visible through the holes in the clouds. And I stare up at them, wondering if they are already dead, if they haven't been dead since before I was born. I take the last grape from my cigarette pack and dust the tobacco off. I hold it above my face between my thumb and middle finger, wondering if I put too much faith in things that don't exist.

Bobby Dee's picture
Bobby Dee from Sudbury Ontario is reading Joyland August 30, 2013 - 11:10am

Fuck, Eddie thought. This was not the way he did business. His customers were mostly weekend warriors, guys who worked nine to five gigs and wanted to blow their brains out on their days off. Most of them liked to go the bar on a Friday night, have a few beers and then sneak into a bathroom stall, snort some powder and feel like a rock star. It might not have been exactly healthy, but generally everybody lived. People in places like this considered snorting cocaine a waste of time, preferring to inject or smoke it instead. They lived to get high, and most of them were literally dying for their high, too. Some were dying faster than others, some had diseases the others didn’t, but they all shared a common sickness as deep and as sad as their souls.

jyh's picture
jyh from VA is reading whatever he feels like August 30, 2013 - 11:22am

I’m the sort of guy who still has a paper calendar hanging on the wall. I’m not attached to them, but I’ve always had them, so, even though I’m cool with computers, I keep one there by the office door. 2013′s calendar features sexy, safe-for-work comic-book paintings of fairy-tale characters. May was Little Bo Peep. The last time I looked at her standing there in the greener-than-green field, bent over slightly but plenty, sheep and wolf alike ogling her curves, I noticed there were a few square holes cut into the picture. I was going to flip back to April when I saw that several days in May had been cut out. So I took the thing off the wall and sure enough there were days cut out of every month of the year, before this day and after, all the way up to the end of the year. August had the fewest removed, February the most. Whoever did it left New Year’s Eve on the schedule. I looked around and discovered no major holidays had been excised.


L.W. Flouisa's picture
L.W. Flouisa from Tennessee is reading More Murakami August 30, 2013 - 12:42pm

I walked into the office. It was clean, sterile enough, and neatly contained. It was like a surgical table, barely sterilized by the cleaning staff to be able to make it clean enough to make incisions in order to perform an operation. The time was seven o’clock in the evening, and I was working all night to perform my duties.

Linda's picture
Linda from Sweden is reading Fearful Symmetries August 30, 2013 - 12:16pm

“Hi there, little man,” Kelly said, using his best puppy voice. “Look at you, left to stew in this goddam tin can.”
The dog held his gaze with melancholy black eyes. At first it made the animal seem wise, mysterious even, but that impression gave way as the seconds passed without the dog ever blinking.
“Well, that just ain’t right,” he said, reaching an arm inside the car and pulling back the lock. “Your fat mama sucking up beer and talking dirty while you sit out here, whining, and with that rain deer-dumb look on your face.”
He leaned across the driver's seat and scooped up the dog, which neither struggled nor appeared particularly enthusiastic to be rescued. The name Mr Costner was engraved on a silver plaque dangling from its pink collar.  
Kelly shook his head. “Ain’t right.”
He closed the door carefully and relocked the car.
“You’ve been a bad dog, Mr Costner. Jumping out the window like that. These woods here,“ he gestured beyond the parking lot and the highway and towards the dense pine tree forest, “they’re just full of mean pooch munchers that’d be more than happy to chew down on a sweet little piece of poodle such as yourself.”
Mr Costner let out a halfhearted whine. Kelly scratched him behind the ear.
“Wouldn’t surprise me at all if that’s what happened here.”

ReneeAPickup's picture
Class Facilitator
ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading Wanderers by Chuck Wendig August 31, 2013 - 9:35am

JYH-- I love that because I still buy a paper calendar every year. No one's ever cut any days out of mine though.

Everyone else-- I say goddamn! I love this thread. I want to hug it and squeeze it.


Here's something (also I'm cheating and posting 2. I'm justifying this by saying they're short):


The blaring of the alarm pulled Aaron into semi consciousness. Fumbling for the alarm clock on the nightstand, his first thought was that it couldn’t be morning, because everything was pitch black. After smacking the clock with his open hand a few times, it quieted, and before falling back to sleep he entertained the thought of wiring some kind of system into the house that would wake him with sunrise, and go on snooze with a voice command. He wondered why he had never thought of this before, and rolled over, twisting the sheets in his legs.
When he woke again the house was still impossibly dark for daytime, but he couldn’t fall back to sleep. He reached for the pills on the nightstand, counting out three. Three pills were enough to keep the dreams away. He chewed them dry and laid back, waiting for sleep to take him over. Sunday came and went this way until Monday morning, when he woke to find the prescription bottle empty, the house still dark, the doorbell buzzing.


h. l. nelson's picture
h. l. nelson from Austin, TX is reading Carlos Castaneda August 31, 2013 - 4:32pm

When the floods started, all of the country’s available funds were sunk into the Ark. It was backed by banks, by the rich. They devised a “lottery” to make it fair for poor singles, couples, and families. Everyone who could do so bought tickets, for all members of their families. But only the rich were let in. And their servants. Those were the lucky poor. I was there when they embarked, at night, to keep the rioting at bay. I saw. So many well-dressed people: adults, children, elderly, even exotic pets were let in. They were so quiet, as if they feared us outsiders. When the big porthole was closed and sealed, I could see party lights inside. They were leaving us to die.

The Ark has been floating ever since. It’s anchored by massive steel-reinforced ropes, but is a boat and can move if they want it to. The outer dome is translucent, to let in light like a terrarium, and the inside edges are all tropical forest, for miles. I think about this forest. I start to hatch a plan.

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated September 11, 2013 - 8:02am

Standing was tough, so I laid back down. On the floor, but for the record it was a choice, not falling down like the viscous little minx, the nurse, told the orderlies as she had them put me back in bed. Normally I’d have destroyed her for daring to oppose my will, but her hair of flame had me captivated!

Shannon Barber's picture
Shannon Barber from Seattle is reading Paradoxia: A Predators Diary by Lydia Lunch September 13, 2013 - 4:13pm

I'm supposed to be doing a final edit on a piece (where my deadline is Sunday awesome) I'm doing this instead:

I think back to how many nights I had to hustle. When I was still stripping it was always so much work. The wigs, the prancy video ho persona I used. I spent so many hours bouncing my butt cheeks in the faces of white middle class businessmen who wanted to feel like 50 cent for five minutes; once I quit I almost never wanted to see a white man in a tie ever again.


OtterMan's picture
OtterMan from New Jersey, near Philadelphia USA is reading Ringworlds Children September 14, 2013 - 4:01am

Greetings! I am Raal, Raal Anhinga, a small cormorant. My iridescent black feathers glimmer in the early morning sun as I hurry north. My wings gather gulps of air and compress them against the glassy smooth surface of the river. Tiny bulls-eyes ripple out where my wing tips touch the surface, dot, dot, dot behind me. The turbid grey-green water rushes by inches below my belly, appealing shimmers of sun on the silver sides of the smelt beckon. I note the location carefully for future reference, but press urgently on. For I have news this day, great and most wondrous news! A dream, dreamt many times for many years is just now only a full moon’s rising from reaching fruition.

My head pans from side to side, eyes take note of every tree and bush along the banks. There, just around a gentle bend, an island to the left, the white bark of a birch half fallen into the current makes gentle swirls. I rise and begin to call out, “Rae! Rae! Rae!!” No answer. The birch passes to my right as I search again. She said we would meet here, where is she? A ripple below the creek mouth and a head appears from below the surface. It can only be her! The unmistakable lithe curve of her neck and the way the water beads then falls instantly from her delicate feathers.

“Rae! Rae! Answer me, answer me.”

“What? I can hear you, the whole river can hear you. What do you want?”

Wendy Hammer's picture
Wendy Hammer from Indiana is reading One Night in Sixes September 14, 2013 - 12:23pm

Lots of awesome stuff in this thread! It's quite inspiring. 

This story has been kicking my ass. Let's see if participating helps me to conquer it. 

Opening shot:  

McCormick Carver O'Dowd knew a thing or two. He knew ketchup had no goddamn business near a hot dog, that 105 years was nothing to a true fan, and any pizza worth eating should weigh at least four pounds. He knew that Chicago was the best city in the world, and the only place he ever wanted to be. 

If he'd any other choice, he wouldn't be on the highway headed south, out to the ass-end of nowhere. But his duty was clear. 

He knew that too. 


Devon Robbins's picture
Devon Robbins from Utah is reading The Least Of My Scars by Stephen Graham Jones September 15, 2013 - 11:20am

I poke my dead limb through the darkness, prodding. The sleepy fingers can't tell the difference between wood and plastic, metal and glass. It's like some sick game and I'm Hellen Keller, navigating through a funhouse. The cinnamon in the air makes me tired, reminds me of home. The air is warm in my lungs but the wet clothes won't let me feel it. Feelers. Limp tentacles. The dead fingers only send back distances to my brain and I try to create three dimensional images with the information. Curves and corners. Flats and voids.

PattonJr_87's picture
PattonJr_87 from Rock Hill, SC is reading The Old Man and the Sea September 17, 2013 - 11:30pm

   I was laying there on a hospital bed that reeked of disease, death, and despair, waiting for the nurse to make her usual midnight rounds.  Sleeping in the ICU was nearly impossible because of the regularity in which the nurses pay you and all the other patients a visit, not to mention the lights being on 24 hours a day, so staying awake until it was unbearable and delirium causes you to passout involuntarily.  The circular clock on the wall read five til midnight, but I, being confined to my death bed, concentrated all my attention on the seconds hand.  Tick.  Tick.  BOOM!  The sudden sound of a 12 gauge shotgun echoed out in the hallway, but my eyes remained on the seconds hand.  Tick.  Tick.  BOOM!  Every two seconds the thunderous blasts moved closer and closer to my room along with the screams from the nurses and doctors rushing by in a franctic state of panic.  Tick.  Tick.  BOOM!  Down goes a nurse right in front of my room, splattering blood through the doorway with some of the warm spray landing on my right side.  There wasn't much more I could do, but lay there, patiently awaiting the shooter to peer into my room, shotgun aimed and ready to kill.    

Bill Tucker's picture
Bill Tucker from Austin, Texas is reading Grimm's Fairy Tales (1st Edition) September 16, 2013 - 8:50pm

This is from a story I literaally have 400 words on and have wanted to write for two years.  It's called Three Years In Nebraska.  And yes, it's a touch more than a paragraph.  But then again, I write very short paragraphs:


"Pa looked back to the evening with a sigh caught in his chest.  Purple was dancing with inky blackness as the final rays of light tucked into the back country wilderness.  The first coyote let out a mournful howl.  Pa knew how he felt.  Knew who was coming.  Knew how it would all shake down.

Pa swallowed the sigh and said, “Yes mamn.  I can see him just fine.”

Pa cocked his hand back, squinted and fired the knife end over end into the blackness.  The last splinter of sunlight caught the edge of the arcing blade as it cut through the cool spring night.  It flew out and over and completely out of view.  Never made a sound.

Ma nodded, propped the gun against the doorway and walked back inside.  When the white noise of tap water started up, Pa looked out and released his pent up breath.  As he closed his eyes, he thought of the sweetness of not being able to see that far off peak.  Normal eyes in a normal skull blissfully oblivious to the four door sedan cruising down a tiny mountain pass.  He was coming and there was nothing anything on earth could do to stop what was now in motion.  In the past, he had wished he’d never see him again.  For his sake."