short story

Word Magic, narrated by Mariah Avix of 600 Second Saga

cool word

Word Magic is a short story prequel to a larger piece of fiction I’m working on about language and its power to shape the world. I love Mariah’s work — she brings magic to my stories and to those of other writers. Please visit her site and subscribe to her work. In the meantime, enjoy this story and follow along with the text below. Word Magic “But I hate that name!” The boy tried to squirrel away from his teacher. “I didn’t ask for your opinion before assigning it to you, Acolyte Will. Names are bestowed based on a quality of need, not emotional preference.” “But you said the best words fire up emotion–” “Your name will do so… in time. Now, you have to get back to work. How many words have you discovered today, Acolyte Will?” The boy stopped squirming and settled down. He looked excited to share his lexical discoveries; it must have been a productive morning. Seeing the boy’s enthusiasm, the teacher settled down next to him. The boy had real word magic talent. It was true that he was lazy and unpredictable with it yet, but he was only a few years old still. In…

Accidental Horror Story

In the name of the People

About a year and a half ago, I wrote a short story. The idea came to me upon seeing some blog post on how “I Love Lucy” and “Honeymooners” and “M.A.S.H.” are just some of the first shows aliens on a distant planet will watch as part of first contact with Earth. What would those people think of us? Will the humor, dark or slapstick, be lost on them? Would they see us as “good people”? First impressions matter… So I envisioned a world full of pacifists who devise a scheme to protect their planet from hostile aliens by creating content designed especially to scare off visitors from other worlds. It turned out to be a fun short story and I submitted it to one of my favorite publishers: Mariah Axiz of 600 Second Saga. Mariah is a connoisseur of the strange and wonderful; she had published several of my stories in the past; I love her work… I hit submit and waited…and waited. A few days later I got an email back: “This is NOT my kind of story. I don’t do horror…” Horror? What? I don’t write horror stories…well, I did write “The FATOFF Conspiracy”…and “Pigeon” has aspects…

600 Second Saga: The Test

The Test

It was beside me on the bed when I woke up — the little bag to pack my most cherished belongings before leaving to take the test. Our dorm has eight living in one great room and none of us heard anything in the night. No one ever does. This is the second time this week. The other bed is still empty. The news of my test spreads like lightning. People are differential, but mostly avoiding me. What can they say? “Good on your test, bud. Wish it was my turn…not.” We live for the test. Years go by, sometimes, before a person gets visited in the night by the bag messenger. We’ve all heard stories of people spending their entire lives without taking the test. That’s the worse fate, I guess. But it’s not mine. I’ll take mine today. I have a whole day to myself to say goodbye to my friends and teachers, to the only family I’ve ever known, to the only place I remember ever living. I don’t have much to pack. We are all issued identical uniforms and supplies. That’s why the bag is so little — I can only take a memento or two…

Another Wave of Refugees

Refugees

“Another wave of refugees is arriving,” the TV news announcer said in a grave voice. George Tiggleson, the news anchor for XWTZ Christian Voice of Americas, has been practicing this voice — deep, resonant, with a slight lamenting quality — for almost twenty years. This voice got him this job. “Are we as a nation ready to take responsibility for thousands of new souls? Can we feed them? House them? Educate them in our ways?” He paused for dramatic effect. His viewers were 90 percent against accepting more refugees. He’s been hammering home the message of astronomical costs of dealing with them. And it’s been working. “But we can’t just turn them away, George,” said George’s News Hour guest, Dr. Varsaad Volhard. “Where will they go? It’s a death sentence–” “Hold on there, Dr. Volhard.” George didn’t let her finish. His viewers hated her “hollering”. The more he put Dr. Volhard down, the higher his ratings got. “We’ve accepted into our bosom almost twenty-five thousands souls so far. That’s more than any other country in the world. Haven’t we done our share? Why do American people have lay out their hard-earned money over and over again? Where would this end?”…

Flight #008: Miss

Miss

“Sir. Sir.” “What?” I am having a hard time opening my eyes. I always take a sleeping pill before getting on a plane. I’m a light sleeper, and Tokyo to San Francisco is an impossible flight for me without a little pharmaceutical assist. My throat hurts too — dehydration. “Miss,” I try to wave off the insistent flight attendant. “Do you mind bringing me a glass of water please? I’m feeling a bit off.” “Sir?” she tries again. I make myself pay attention to her. “Water?” I make my face and voice communicate the urgency of my request. “Unfortunately, sir, I can’t do that right now.” “Oh.” I rub my eyes clean of the sleeping gunk and look at the woman. She doesn’t look familiar. I usually make it a point when I fly to get to know the flight attendants in my area of the plane. It’s just a polite thing to do. And then I take my pill, and off to the lullaby land for me. “Sir? Unfortunately, I can’t give you water right now. But I do need to do a few basic neurological tests–” “What?!” Well, I’m up now. I fly all the time on business;…

600 Second Saga: Toy Maker

warrior queen toy

I am very happy to share a performance by Mariah Avix of one my short stories, Toy Maker. Mariah is an author and reader — her voice adds an amazing dimension to the telling of a tale. I feel like she brought my characters to life. I hope you enjoy her performance as much as I did. And please listen to her other readings of science fiction and fantasy — 10 minutes per week to listen, yet enough joy to last much much longer. *** This story is dedicated to little Ian — may you grow up strong, smart, and perceptive.