The Nun and the Gambist

The dancers whirl around the fire to the strains of strings and drums, and after a brief pause, the music starts back up. But this song… I know this song. I swear, I’ve heard it before. But where? It’s trying to tell me something.

My legs slow down in their dance, my arms fall to my sides. There — the smell of wind from the ocean, sun on a porch, I’m almost there… but before I can place it, a glimmer shifts through my body like a lightning strike. My legs give way like tulip stems in a rainstorm, and then the ground is rising up to embrace me with its black-nothing arms.

When I wake back to reality, I’m seated on a huge stump, away from the revelry. My beautiful granddaughter Ayna sits next to me, with a worried brow, putting a smooth hand on my forehead, and I know I’ll have to explain. “Grandma, you just fell! While we were dancing just now, you fell! Do you feel okay? Should I call for the barber?”

“I’m okay,” I lie, “I just need to sit here for a moment, dear. How long was I out?”

“Long enough to scare us. I’m so glad you’re okay.” She wraps a thin arm around me, and the warmth is soothing.

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Genesis (Rough 1)

I wrote this for you…

I live in more than one world. Sometimes straddling the space between them stretches my mind too far. And I forget where I am. Is this the one where I’m happy? Is this the one where I’m sad? Is this the one where I’m safe? I’ve lost track. In fact, I’ve lost myself.

Maybe parts of me are stuck in each of the worlds. Maybe I’m not really me anymore. Now that I think of it, I think I lost my self somewhere along the way.

Anyway… I walk through a door and then another door and then another. This is how it always is. I shed versions of my self along the way.

A high-pitched whistle coming from above.

I look to the sky and track a streak of white light that vanished in a flash. Where is this? The trajectory burned into my eyes, I trace it to the ground. Something fell from the sky. It’s there. I know it is. I know it’s there somewhere.

I am alone. Always alone.

No one else is outside. Why would they be? It’s nearly 2 A.M. On a Thursday night.Why am I outside? Why am I awake? Good questions.

I listen to the crickets. The ones near me fall silent as I walk. The others stir. Frogs from the pond are mostly asleep and a gentle warm breeze slides softly through the air. I can hear the rustling of the tall grass. Blades crashing into blades. Such a pleasant, soothing sound. It almost sounds like rain trying to wash away my pain.

Good luck.

Thinking back. Just minutes ago I was looking out my bedroom window into the soft, moon-lit night. Then I was in my backyard. Now I am in a field and something on the ground nearby is smoldering. Little orange embers sizzle softly on the tall grass. Little strips peeled off now curled and charred. Beneath them a glowing rock. Or meteor. Or whatever thing just streaked down from the sky.

I kneel down and look at it. I want to take it. But it looks too hot. Actually, I can feel the heat. I decide to wait. I sit next to it and study the pattern that winds around it. It’s like an inside out amethyst. No. It’s not. Now its smooth. It just changed.

What the fuck? What is this? I want to run away. But I don’t. Curiosity over fear. Always.

I’m not sure what I’m looking at. The shape keeps shifting. Now it looks like it’s on fire. Purplish fire. What the hell? What the hell world am I in now?

Back to just waiting. I decide to lay back and look at the stars. From this distance they don’t appear to change. But everything else does. Like life. That changes. In fact, everything changes.

Everything. All the time.

All is flux.

I will wait for this clever stone to cool down and stop morphing around. Shit. I just heard a sound.


Other voices, not my own. They’re getting louder. Oh no! They’re coming for the stone. I look at it and wish it were cooler. I want to pick it up. It’s too hot and it looks too heavy. Now I’m mad. What was I planning to do, roll it home?

A crack and hiss.

It opened up. Like an egg, two halves split. Hovering inside is another stone. Smaller. Almost an arrowhead. Slender, pointy, and a little like a triangle. It’s decorated. With symbols. Symbols? What the fuck is this thing? Stones don’t hover.

Voices growing louder. I hear three people. I grab the little hovering stone and run.

I run all the way home.


The Price of Loyalty


“Well guys, and gal,” the speaker winked at the woman in the blue suit, “I gotta say we need to stand the line here. You’re all doing a terrific job. Just terrific, and I called you all together to talk about our future. I want to hear your ideas, your thoughts on what happens next”

Bob sat at the too glossy, wet looking table in the overheated, windowless room trying not to drift off; the self-congratulatory voices over-lapping each other, making a droning insect sound, yet he felt pretty good, actually he’d worked hard to be here and damn if he wasn’t feeling terrific. He wasn’t sure why he’d been asked to be part of this focus group but he liked it, being part of the in crowd, the leaders, the movers & shakers of the leadership. He smiled to himself and looked around, he was definitely one of the younger ones, up and coming,

“…more questions are coming that’s true, including the question of whether I actually won.”

Bob jerked to attention-what? -the silence like sleet chilled him, draped over him and the others, it let him know that he had actually heard what he thought he heard.

“I’m sorry sir, what are you saying?” Theo the man next to Bob asked in a plaintive voice rising high.

“I’m not saying anything, I’m just suggesting that people have questioned the process, and I don’t know all the ins & outs of this, I’m new to leadership. I have no idea what may or may not have happened.” At this the speaker looked around the room locking eyes on each person, Bob controlled his desire to look away. “As far as I’m concerned, and as far as you all are concerned, I won. We all won. We are all here because of my winning and me. We all stay here as long as we keep winning.”

Bob stared at him-what? -his mind asked again-he looked around at the others, half of who were also checking out the expressions of the others. There were a variety: the older, lifetime electors looking smug and knowing, or blank, devoid of readable thoughts; the newer, younger ones unsure, shocked but trying not to be. The woman was frozen’ staring at the commander-in-chief. Maybe she thought it was a test. Bob also hoped it was a test, but he knew in the pit of his stomach, he now knew why he was chosen, he knew and he was angry.

His state had been close, but he won strong, his people liked him. Both sides respected him, although he embraced the right. He had been raised conservative and catholic, good morals but open to accepting others and helping them find their way-hopefully to his point of view but if not then to a respectful meeting ground.

He stared at the table now, over finished like resin, a plastic mahogany table.

“I trust all of you to work with me, to stay strong, to help me continue winning.”

The woman raised her hand.

“Loraine? You can just talk, we don’t stand on formalities here.”

“I am just curious about why you said you may have lost? Is there something we should know? Something we need to look into?”

The speaker slammed his hand on the table, “I never said I lost. Never! Get that out of your head woman!” she shrank back, looking startled. “Lenore, I’m sorry. I just don’t want that rumor even started. Everyone is talking about Russia, I know nothing about Russia. I like Russia, they have good sausage, but there is nothing else there to talk about. If anything comes up, we all need to ignore it and talk about the facts, talk about the crime in this country, talk about what we can do to create jobs. That’s it. You all are my inner circle, I need you and you need me. We are in this together, for the party.”

Now Bob was furious, the room was taking on a rosy glow. He’d never understood the term seeing red but here it was. How dare he ask this kind of loyalty? Bob had worked so hard to get to this place. He was lower middle class his whole life and he studied and worked his whole youth to get here to be someone respectable, and now he was asked to lie for someone who was given everything, who hadn’t had to work if he didn’t want to, for someone who had failed famously but still ended up in the big chair.

“I’m not asking anyone to lie. There is nothing to lie about, I won. The numbers are in so there is no need for any investigation, no need to anything but press ahead to the future.”

Could he read minds? Bob wondered his fingers turning white as they interlocked in a pose he thought looked scholarly. He stared at his hands as silence descended again, looking up he saw everyone eyeing him,   “What.” He tried to make it a question but it was a statement, a flat word.

“I asked what you were thinking about Bob?” And he stared at him.

“I was considering how we would ever be in a situation where your election would be questioned.”

“And what did you decide?”

“It would only happen if we listen to outsiders and break ranks,” here he paused and hundred of faces flashed in his mind, people who believed in him, in what he stood for, people who signed his first nomination papers, his mother -the pride in her eyes when he won his first council position, how his dad looked at him and shook his hand, saying ‘never thought I’d raise a politician but I believe you can change things around here’; how his first love who dumped him for the bank owners son hugged him, breasts pressed against his chest, panting a bit with the excitement of his mayoral win, whispered ‘call me’, he never did, but he carried her number in his wallet even now as a reminder of the temptation of power; his wife and their six-year-old daughter who was so excited to come to Washington, to see the giant man statue in the chair, these people who made him, these people who believed in him…yet the country believed in the president, he had the same litany of supporters, of family and more-he had millions more counting on him and who was Bob? Who was he? But he always envisioned himself as a white hat, as a good guy, the one who stepped in front of the punch and then got up again. Here he was being asked to stand in front of a train for the people, but which people? Who would believe? What was he even asking himself, leaking? No one said leaking. There was no evidence there was nothing, he could proclaim innocence but no. Not anymore, just being in this room made him part of whatever lie there was, if there was one, but there had to be otherwise why even have this meeting? We are now all complicit; all sixteen of us in this room bonded together come what may. My party, my equals, my people. Yet most of these people came from money, from families that formed them, from corporations that bought their positions. These are not my priority. Why did I even accept the invitation to be on this committee? I thought I had really made it, but every rung is harder to climb, Party or the People? The Party or my people?”

“As you said, there is nothing to question.”



The news ticker at the bottom of the TV shows someone’s confused question.

@radleyboo: so you’re saying there are lots of aliens??? why haven’t we seen them, losh?

And the bronze-skinned, beautiful man on the screen smiles broadly as he reads the question aloud. “Why haven’t we seen them? Two good questions, actually.” He pauses, makes a little nod at the camera that somehow conveys an ocean of kindness, and then warmly begins to explain. “Yes, there are plenty of civilizations under the tier two banner. I’ll tell some stories of the different kinds tonight, and you’ll grow to understand more about how it works over time. As for why we didn’t see them until now? Well, those ‘grays’ we supposedly saw weren’t real aliens. But in a way, those dreams predicted the waking day. Today.”

He pauses for dramatic effect, smiling into the camera. “The real aliens just got here, really and truly. Believe me; everyone is equally surprised every time a new kind of human is added to the cacophony of souls.”

The man smiles wider. “Here’s one of my new friends, so you can get a glimpse into what I mean.” The camera zooms out and a spiky, spiraling form floats into the room near him. It looks like a lionfish if it were made out of shiny metal spikes, but it somehow manages to radiate the same calm as Losh as it does an intricate little bowing dance towards him. “People of Earth, this is Saviton, who hails from a star pretty close by in our arm of the Milky Way. His people are from a gas giant originally, but now they have the tech to hang out anywhere. Heya Sav!”

The slowly bobbing amalgam of silvered spikes makes a nod-like motion, and in a strange twinkling accent, a voice says, “Hello Losh, and hello Earthlings! Haha.”

Losh laughs broadly. “Oh, I feel lucky to be here right now. Let’s answer some of your questions on social media, folks!”

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(warning: this story may not be work safe in some workplaces but it’s still pretty dang tame because I am not a romance writer ok bye)

You’ve been on some pretty weird dates before, but never with a zombie. Honestly, this Tinder thing has turned out some decent guys and some better-than-average sex. But when this particular guy passes the menu back to the waiter after ordering, reaches across the table and tries to take your hands in his, you draw back instinctively. (Not right away on the first date. Jeez, dude. Red flag.) He draws back his hands, tries to play it off, and brushes the hair out of his face. When he looks in your eyes, you get a tiny earthquake in your stomach, but you’re really and truly not prepared for the words that come staggering out next.

“I have to admit something.” Oh, good. What is it this time? Wife? Kids? Disease? Fucked-up fetish? “I’m a zombie.” Your mind goes blank. “This is, err, kind of rough, but I’m trying to get it out there early.” His big blue eyes dart around, scanning your face. “You know, early.”

“Uhh.” Your brain just goes into some kind of frozen mode, and all that comes out is a confused “Uhh.” Nice. Real smooth, girl. Your stupid tongue follows that neanderthal grunt up with a flat “What.”

“Oh, uhh.” His eyes flick around and he retracts his hands awkwardly, turning to the side like your words are going to slap him. He looks like a dog that got yelled at for eating its own puke. Full of remorse, but compelled to keep going. “I mean, I’m a philosophical zombie. Not the brain-eating kind.”

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