Hot off the Press

An Untoward Exchange

This was originally posted elsewhere, under a different title. Written for spoken word poetry. 


Inside my head where the lies we believe thrive:


 

 

I make a difference.

 

Prove it.

 

I influence others?

 

You do? Like I said, prove it.

 

Well, I have a community. I belong.

 

You only kinda have a community. Would they even notice if you were gone? 

 

Well, I did have one at least, back where I used to live. 

 

Key words: You. Did. They’ve moved on.

 

Well, I’m interesting–I think. Pretty? 

 

Keep telling yourself that, babe.

 

Dang it. It gives me shivers–I’m totally going to fail at, well, everything this year. 

 

Don’t have to work hard to prove that one!

 

Ugh! Why do I even try?!

 

That’s right. Why do you even care about having a meaningful life?

 

A meaningful life? I guess that is it, that’s what I want. I want my life to be worth something; for me to be worth something. If I only . . .

 

It’s all such crap. Meaningful, shityful. 

 

Shut up, you’re kinda a jerk.

 

 

Where’d you go?

 

 

Hey, you know, I do have a meaningful life. Even if I don’t do anything. I do have some self-worth.

 

 

And I don’t have to be afraid of failure. I’ll just learn from it; I’ll just call that success. . . don’t you think?

 

Humph.

 

You’re back?

 

Who said I ever left?

 

Maybe I am just afraid of being lonely. You know, besides that whole failure thing. 

 

Oh, that is so right. You are so alone. Lonely and Failure sitting in the tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G . . .

 

Hey!

 

First comes spite, then they disparage, then out YOU come in their baby carriage!

 

That is so  . . . morose. Surely I’m not born of failure and loneliness!

 

Prove it.

 

Well. . . I guess I can’t. . . Wait a minute! Who are you to tell me–

 

Oh, and, by the way, you can’t change the world either.

 

Who said I was even trying?

 

You said you were trying! It’s written all over . . . well, all over your everything! 

 

You know I can’t stand the evil in this world. And the indifference and misguidance as a response to it. Then there is the oppression and hate–

 

Like I said, you can’t stand to believe your life has no meaning.

 

Are you saying I have a savior complex?

 

I’m saying you have an identity complex. Which then manifests itself as a savior complex. So, yes, I am telling you that. You have all the complexes. You are way too far down that rabbit hole. I can’t believe you’re still even able to breathe. 

 

That can’t, that can’t be true.

 

I’m telling you, that is who you are!

 

I am so more than that! Why am I even listening to you? Just shut up for a minute so I can think!

 

 

You went away again. Whew. You are so LOUD.

 

 

I am more than that. I don’t need others to tell me who I am. Let alone you! I am valuable simply because I am.

 

 

Right?

 

You’re asking me again?  Of course you have no value!  You are a persistent failure and no one gets you. You’re a dog who never gives up even though the bone is clearly out of reach. You are worthless.

 

Sounds like you are complementing me on my persistence and audacity.

 

Trust me, I wasn’t. W.O.R.T.H.L.E.S.S.

 

Okay, that’s it. You are nothing–nothing but lies.

 

I am so the truth.

 

No you are not! Your voice is hate. You are the evil in the world. I think you need to be quiet now.

 

 

Did you hear me? Go away!

 

 

Are you gone?

 

Eeep!

 

Uh-uh. Nope. Hear me loud and clear: I don’t ever want to catch you whispering your antagonizing, conniving, disparaging, snide and venomous lies of hate ever again. And–so help me God–you are forever exiled out of my head and will continually be tenaciously guarded against. Capiche?

 

 

I said die monster, die!  

 

beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep —————————————————–

 

There. That is so much better. Now let’s find the truth.

 


 

Forward Rewind Forward

This story is based on the following image and writing prompt: 

Frosted Tamaracks flash fiction writing prompt by KS Brooks ALL RIGHTS RESERVED122911 peek
Photo copyright K. S. Brooks.

They wanted to rough it. There would be no phones, no computers, no contact with the outside world.

Trevor could see the glaring flaw in that plan now. Zack started having acute abdominal pain last night. This morning he was feverish and almost unresponsive. Whatever it was, they needed to get him to a hospital and quickly.

They crafted a makeshift stretcher to carry Zack several miles back to the trail head. When they got there, the car was gone…


The old Jeep must have exploded into a billion, microscopic, god-forsaken pieces. Trevor cursed, wishing for the eightieth time he’d brought his sat phone. “Well, bud, looks like I’m hiking for help.”

“I always knew it would end like this,” Zack whispered.

“Say what?” Trevor leaned close, ignoring his shaking hands–must be adrenaline.

“I’ve dreamt this a thousand times, bringing us here. I must die.”

The stress made Trevor feel pissed. “No, you must NOT die. We survived Iraq, we’ll survive this.”

“I’ve been here, seen this. I just didn’t believe it’d really happen. She’s gotta live…”

“Calm yourself, man. Just a little SNAFU. Do you remember how far to the nearest settlement?” Trevor hefted the stretcher, sweat congealing under his gear.

“She loves you,” Zack coughed. “I’ll sacrifice, to save her.”

“Shut up–you’re going home.”

Trevor’s terror subsided when Zack finally quieted. He fixated on pacing himself. Trevor doubted rescuers came by often, but he’d get Zack to safety.

But then Zack had to speak. “Be good to her. Like you’ve been good to me– Thanks, dude.”

“No goodbyes!” Trevor roared, plowing onward. But the stretcher jerked while Zack’s scream embedded shrapnel into Trevor’s bones.

Suddenly, Trevor noticed the keening began in his own throat, not Zack’s. And he was saturated by frost. Pine needles bored into him from below, concern plastering the familiar faces hovering above. Zack crouched besides his friend, his hand heating Trevor’s shoulder. “Dude, it’s all cool. We fight the same demon.”


Thank you, veterans, for your courage to look death in the eye and tell it to go fight someone its own size.

Originally written for the Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction Challenge.

Also, attribution goes to the article, From “Irritable Heart” to “Shellshock”: How Post-Traumatic Stress Became a Disease, which influenced this post.

Muted Medieval Equity

“Every time you visit, I’m undone.”

“I don’t want you to be bewitched. I want to speak at the Table! And do stop stroking my ear–you know I despise it.”

“But I love the way it curves up into a point.”

“Sir, the counsel? Please, be my escort?”

“Oh, don’t put your coat on. Although you’re ravishing in scarlet, the more ivory skin to espy, the better.”

“Now you are just being vulgar.”

“Have I ever mentioned I love your rosebud lips?”

“Stop stalling! My poetry is what you love, and that is all. Now I’m out of patience.”

“I don’t believe it. You could never be anything less than perfect.”

“Please, I must rest my case. We need justice.”

“Your other striking virtues will cause the knights to drool more than your lovely logic.”

“What’s the point of being fae if my womanhood leaves me unheard?”

“Yet I ask, why be the Enchantress, unless to enchant us?”


Written For Flash! Friday Flash Fiction

Procrustean Homage

A late morning brilliance glimmered off his wings–A World War II bomber, its broken hull rewound outside time, repaired into strength defined.

 

The ace swooped low, approaching from the side; his attack narrowly missing the fountain’s spray and the top-hats of harried penguin- men.

 

But the streetwise urchins still held the fort, despite it being erected by neutral parties.

 

He warbled in harmony with the vibrating engine, revving its power. His proud mama had prepared him from day one for this. He’d already begun the victory song.

 

Zooming again, he plummeted straight for the square. The Sky Warrior aimed true. Ladies shrieked, felines’ pelts burned, and the pigeons shrilled, clamoring from their prime scrap-squirreling territory.
Advancing up the steps, the young ace somberly clawed the family name onto the memorial. Then rightfully taking his place mirroring the commemorative statue, the Sky Warrior stretched wide his wings, demanding veneration.

The Jungle of Long Island

Mrs. Gray, they said, didn’t play the field well. This was unfortunate, as the Felines maintained that summer in the Hamptons should be a spectacular jest.

When Mr. Gray began busying himself in the City, they welcomed Mrs. Gray into their pack. She didn’t do much besides toddle behind them, though, and definitely not with their poise and alluring swagger.

They were fools, those who mistook these cougars for delicate kittens, lounging in their high-cut swimming stripes, meticulous curls licked into place. More than one gentleman would fall prey throughout these golden days.

It was an irony that Mrs. Gray–of all of the Felines–had been accused of indiscretions. When Mr. Gray arrived at the mansion in a possessive rage, like a typical pawn, she didn’t discern who was really behind the damning missive. Her brutal stabbing was simply a triumphant checkmate in a game of societal entertainment.


Written for Flash! Friday flash fiction

A Misguided Spade

Caspious was digging his weapon of choice into the earth. “Are you at war with those buggers again?” Istar teased, looking past him, her angelic figure sauntering up the path.

“Aren’t I always fighting one vile enemy or another?” Caspious spat at the ground. But when he faced her, Caspious softened adoringly; innocently. “I hope you get used this . . . er, to me I mean.”

He was tan, scientific and kind. Istar sighed. If only he was a smidgen more . . . obliging. When Caspious cared, his royal magic pierced all barriers; everything he caressed bloomed.

Everything not hidden by her facade, at least.  

Istar scanned the treeline nervously. She couldn’t delay. “Sweet, the Syscans, surely you’ve heard. Without assistance they’ll die. Although they’re few, however distant and lowly, they’re still your subjects! You’re needed now!” I need you now! But that last sentence never actually left Istar’s tongue.

Caspious was glad he turned from her mesmerizing eyes, resenting that Istar had opened this Pandora’s Box again. It had almost been their honeymoon’s undoing months ago. Wait–that was only months ago, right?

The Heir shelved his lovely bride’s humming into its own compartment, focusing on the soil sifting through his fingers. He crunched what was left in his palm, imagining it was the worms he despised.

Istar watched Caspious wane as she pleaded one last time. Maybe if he knew the truth of her past, he would reconsider his indifference.

As Caspious often said (one of his gardening maxims), “One can’t unhinge the fly from the web.” And neither could she release her tongue from its curse, so frigidly bestowed on her, when torn from her family, discharged to the Castle by the Syscan Reds.

The Reds had spent their patience.

In a rare moment of honesty, Istar breathed “I love you,” startling Capious from his vegetation. But then she turned away quickly, hearing only the thump, rather than seeing his head roll too, as it joined his trowel on the garden plot.


Written for Flash! Friday Fiction

Stay Behind the Glass

Baxville strapped her twin pistols into her shoulder harness, whistling for her hounds. They tore from behind the Westward Factory, which was taller than night itself, but less illustrious than the competition–Southbend Incorporate–sitting pristinely on the corner.

The Hound of BakersvillesWithin seconds, sulfur and wet appreciative tongues descended on Baxville, but she pushed her adoring canines aside, striding across the fog- laden street, crimson under the Westward’s lighting. Baxville thudded on Southbend’s chiseled grand entrance like she was representing hell itself. “Lyon, we are going to duel this out once and for all!”

A girl in a white waistcoat peered through an angled window.

Baxville continued, “Your granddaddy cheated on that deal. You know it! Southbend is mine!”

“Well your daddy cheated on his wife, coming to the sweeter side.” The impeccable duchess smiled back coldly.

Baxville growled and her dogs assaulted the window; Lyon could be seen falling back–hard–onto the checkered tile. While Lyon recovered inside, Baxville pulled out a pistol and aimed at her own mirrored reflection.

Lyon was still muffled behind the glass: “Just because I get your inheritance too, doesn’t mean you get mine.”

“If you only knew what came with Westward,” Baxville sneered, “then you wouldn’t be so keen to take all.”

Lyon glared. “Oh, I know what comes with Westward: irrationality, daddy’s bones and loads of money.”

As always, Baxville fired at the diamond glass with a resounding crack, then turned back towards the factory, the Westward’s hounds behind her. Baxville only performed this defeating ritual hoping to force her half-sister’s salvation.


This was written for Flash! Friday Fiction