Gingerbread Boys

He had fallen asleep under the Christmas tree.

A tiny living doll, the lights painted him as colorful as the packages
he had curled up around. His day had been a full one, he was tucked
out. He didn't even move when his dad picked him up and carried him
to bed, carefully putting his Tigger under one pudgy arm and pulling
his Buzz Lightyear blanket up to his chin.

"I-onn-seeana" he mumbled in his sleep.

I want to see Santa, he had said.

They had spent the day making gingerbreat boys. Smaller than
gingerbread men, they didn't have jobs.

Making them, he had told stories about how they would come alive at
night and dance around the plate. They would go swimming in Santa's
milk, and Santa woudln't eat them, but would put them in his bag and
take them to the North Pole to help the elves make toys and candy.

They had ridden around the town, as they always did on Christmas Eve,
and he had gotten so excited over all the new decorations. An
airplane blinking a red light flew over head and he said, "We gotta
beat Santa home!"

Thats when he parked himself under the Christmas tree, sure that Santa
would be there any minute.

But his tiny boy biology beat him out.

Now, as he slept safely upstairs, his dad stuffed the stocking before
ploping down into his chair and absentmindedly biting the head off a
gingerbread boy while the lights on the tree blinked on and off and on
and off and......

The Poking Stick

I accepted a challenge to write a flash fiction story of 200 words or less with "Gremlins!" as my inspiration.

What I'm about to share here is the 640 word first draft, which I then had to whittle down to 200 words or less.

For some reason I dont expect to win the challenge with my much less meaty story, but take courage in the fact that everyone else had to have 200 words or less too. -smile-
Anyway, as promised, here is my ROUGH draft.



The thing in the basement made Roddy forget about his brother’s mood for a while.
It was about the size of a squirrel, greenish brown, with large eyes the color of honey. Bald, except for the stripe of coarse hair that rose down its spine, it hunched in a corner of the basement, made by boxes of his Dad’s old stroke books.

Roddy crouched down to get a better look, and the creature lifted one small, rodent-like hand up and out toward him. He was just beginning to reach back towards it when something hard and sharp stabbed him in the back, reminding him what he had been dong in the basement to begin with.

His brother, Nelson, was in a particularly evil mood today. Having gotten in trouble for failing all of his classes, he had gotten his poking stick from its hiding spot and had been tormenting Roddy all day.

“Stop Nelson!” Roddy said, but his brother only continued poking him.

The torment stopped suddenly.

“What is THAT thing,” Nelson bellowed, shoving Roddy to the side and leaning over the creature, which was trying to make itself smaller.

“Just a frog.”

“That aint a frog.” Nelson leaned closer. The creature started to shiver. “I think it’s a gremlin! It’s a gremlin, like what Granpa told us about!”

Then he raised the poking stick, and poked the creature with it.

The first gentle poke caused it to blink its eyes. The second one, a little harder, made it mewl. It sounded like a baby animal.

“Don’t do that.” Roddy said.

“You jealous?”

Nelson poked Roddy twice, hard and quickly, causing him to scoot backwards. He bumped into his Mom’s recipe boxes, and a thin dust rose around his head, causing him to sneeze.

Nelson resumed poking the gremlin. Roddy heard the creature mewl again and, between Nelson’s laughter and his own sneezes, thought he heard the thing growl.

He tried to tell Nelson to stop, but couldn’t talk for sneezing.

His eyes were mostly closed, but he saw the creature rise up on two legs, saw its coarse back hair stand up straight and sharp like a porcupine’s quills. He didn’t see it get the stick away from Nelson, or how Nelson ended up on the ground, backed into a corner of his own, but by then the sneezes had stopped.

The gremlin had the stick, and was poking Nelson. A jab here and there. Nelson had wrapped his arms around his head and buried his face. Where the skin of his arms was exposed, Roddy could see small pinpoints of blood.

He said, “Stop it.” But the creature didn’t stop, so he screamed, “STOP IT!”

It stopped, and it turned to face him.

Nelson made his escape back up the stair, crying.

Somehow, Roddy knew, the brat would get him in trouble for this.

Roddy’s back was in the corner, the gremlin between him and the stairs which were his only way to escape, but he wasn’t afraid. He and the gremlin had common enemies.

“Give me the stick!”

Looking ashamed, the gremlin shuffled forward and handed the stick to Roddy before dropping back down to all fours. It looked innocent again.

“You shouldn’t have done that.” He scolded, as he heard footsteps on the stairs. “Now shoo.”

The gremlin was gone, hidden away, by the time his mother reached him. Her face red and angry she shouted at him, “Roderick, how DARE you hurt your little brother that way. He’s bleeding, Roderick. Do you know what that means?”

She snatched the stick away and threw it into a corner, and slapped him hard across the face.

A small greenish brown hand reach out and sweep up the poking stick.

Naughty little gremlin, he thought, but secretly, he smiled. Their time to be the bullies would come soon enough.

Disordered (NaNoWriMo Novel) part 1

We met in June and it wasn’t love at first sight. This is not a love story.

My head was full of sick people and tragic diseases that start in the brain but kill from the outside in.

Being a neophyte in this psychiatric world I didn’t know if he was a doctor or a patient and if I should be flattered, worried or outraged when he said to me, “You have the cutest face. You look like a chubby little cherub.”

That night I went home and ate an entire frozen pizza, 2 corn-dogs and 4 pudding cups. Afterwards I vomited as much of it as I could before scrubbing the toilet with bleach.

Otherwise it mildews.

No, that wasn’t the beginning, or the middle, or the end, but it was around that time that I started going to AA meetings for moral support.

I never stood up and said, “Hi, my name is Amy Winters and I’m an alcoholic. Mostly I just sat in the back and listened.

I wasn’t really an alcoholic and the meetings never really helped much. I kept going maily to please my doctor. She had read about the AA thing in some medical journal and wanted it to be the miracle treatment that cured her patient.

I quit going to the meetings after I got my first sobriety pin.

I felt like a hypocrite because I had no intentions of ever giving up my alcohol.

Vodka was my liquid womb.

Before AA, before Horace, he of the mid-June chubby cheeked cherub comment, before bleach battles with mildew over the ownership of the toilet, there was a brief time when I wasn’t disordered.

Stranger in the Dark

In the darkness her eyes flew open, scanning into the shadowed corners where she coudln't actually see, but she didn't have to see to know.

He was back. The murders, the rapist, the monster, the child killer.

He was back. He was with her.

She had to get rid of him. Now. Once and for all.

She didn't turn on the light. She didn't want to frighten him away. Rolling slowly over in the bed, she groped on her nightstand to find he weapon. Her fingers touched her alarm clock, her bedtime glass of water and the base of her lamp, but not what she was looking for.

She had left it in the kitchen then, on the counter while she was washing dishes. Just in case he came then.

Since last time she had sworn to never be unprepaired, and until tonight she never had been. Of course, that was when he came.

She would have to go after it then, and hope he didn't notice that she had noticed him, before she got to it.

In the dark her house was a stranger, but she slid her feet along the capet, her fingers along the wall. Kitchen was there, at the end of the hall. The small light over the stove had been left on. She hoped it woudln't be too much.

The hallway seemed to strech forever, as she struggled to stay calm and quiet. She wanted him to still be there when she got her hands on her weapon. SHE wanted to be the one to do him in finally, and not have him go away on his own.

Finally, she was there, the kitchen, and her tool on the counter, between the coffee pot and the empty cup waiting on her first morning cup.

She nearly dashed the rest of the way, grabbing the handheld recorder and pushing the proper button. She began to speak.

"Her eyes flew open in the darkness," she said, "and she knew she wasn't alone. She struggled to see the shadows in the shadows that might hide someone, but it was useless. Still. She knew he was there, the one that had been in the news. The one they called the Monster."

Smiling now, because she had finally caught him, the writer contiuned to tell his story as she pushed the button that would start her coffee.

She had him in her grasp. There would be no more sleep tonight.

Room With a View

The wind breathed fire, brushing invisible lounges of flame across her
face as she stood on the balcony and looked down at the highway.

The apartment was an expensive one, advertised especially for its
"beautiful view." In this case having a beautiful view meant it had a
very large window and a very large balcony that looked out over a busy
highway that led in and out of a busy city.

Her idea of a beautiful view would have involved trees and a lake and
maybe some mountains in the distance.

This was here though, and the apartment was nice.

She closed her eyes, turned her face toward the sun, let the dragon's
breath of summer blow across her sweaty brow, where it was almost
cool, almost a comfort.

"Well, what do you think?" the realtor said from behind her, in the bedroom.

"I hate the view." she said, then turned and walked back inside.

He was sitting on the edge of the bed, trying to slip his sensible
shoe on over his sensible brown sock. His toupee had come off and he
hadn't bothered to put it back on. The top of his bald head was red
from the exertion.

"And it smells like bad sex in here," she said. "Keep the panties. I
don't want them anymore."

She left him sitting there, his soft and pudgy face open in surprise
as she walked out of the apartment.

She took the stairs down, because no one ever took the stairs. Her
footsteps followed her down.

It was hot in here too. Hotter, because even the hot wind didn't
reach the inner caverns of the apartment building. There were no
small balconies with beautiful views of hurried commuters.

On the stairs that led from the 3rd floor to the second her sin caught
up with her.

He grabbed her arm, swung her around, screamed in her face. "You
bitch. You rotten, rotten bitch!" His eyes bulged out, his faced
turned an alarming shade of crimson. She could picture steam coming
out of his ears, his nose popping off like a pressure release valve.

She giggled.

He slapped her.

For a moment there was silence. They stared at each other, each
angry, aghast at what the other had done.

A door opened, closed. Footsteps approached.

"You left your hair in the bedroom" she told him, and turned her back again.

This time she made it outside without him and the dry heat wrapped its
arms around her like a willing lover, a sooting mother, a soul
cleansing sauna without the humidity.

She would cry later, while the children were doing their homework and
she cooked their supper. Her husband might would notice that the soup
was a little salty, but he wouldn't know why.

Eventually she would leave him.

"I looked at a very nice apartment," she would tell him. "I'm moving
out on Wednesday. I will do ever other week with the kids, if you
insist, but they better not mess up my place.

Yes, eventually she would leave him, when she finally found the perfect place.

Perhaps I'm using the wrong real estate agents, she thought. Maybe I
should use a woman next time.

Things Yet to Happen

She woke up and knew it hadn't happened yet.

That knowledge gave her no peace.

It would happen. It would happen that day. Nothing could stop it.

Nothing could change it. It was coming.

She could only wait.

She got out of bed and got dressed, smiled at her mother, kissed herfathers cheek when he went to work.

Then she went to school.

It still hadn't happened, but it was going to. Its future happening buzzed in her head until she thought she was going to go crazy.

For once she was glad to have been branded a freak, to be friendless.If she had friends she would be tempted to tell them.

Telling them woudln't change anything.

Then it happened.

She felt it when she happend. The buzzing in her head suddenly stopped. Her stomach dropped. Her heart screamed.

The secretary called her to the guidance counclers office at 10 after10 that morning.

"I'm sorry, Ivy." they told her. "It was an accident. A horribleaccident. No one could have seen it coming. Nothing could have stopped it."

"I know." she told them. "I know."

And she did know. She always knew, and it always happened.

Dirty Feather

I found a feather in the mud,
took it in and washed it up.
Stuck the feather in my hat,
would you have a look at that.

Birdie feather, bright and blue,
no more mud, as good a new.
Much like people that we know,
clean them up and they will glow.

High Beams

She sat where she was, looking down at her hands folded serenely on lap. She wasn’t looking ahead, but she could still see the high beams headed toward her. They were still distant.

"I can see you," she thought, "but you can’t see me."

It felt ironic to her. Her very invisibility to the world was what had brought her there.

The lights came closer.

She hummed a song.

A warm breeze stirred, making the dry dirt of the road beside the tracks dance in a dirt dirvish.

"I should feel something," she though.

She felt nothing at all.

The high beams were almost blinding now, even though she still couldn’t see them. The train blared its angry horn at her.

She waited for them.

So Sorry

I’m sorry I was not sad enough to please you.
I’ll try harder next time
to squeeze out crocodile tears.

I’m sorry if I did not mourn
the millions I did not know.
I must have an evil soul.

I’m sorry I am not happy
like you are happy
with the life I was dealt.

I’m sorry I put my own suffering
before I put the suffering of strangers
in must have a rotten mind.

I’m sorry I did not cry for them,
but not sorry that you will not cry for me
when I’m gone.

Insignificant Thing

It has lived in the darkness for years. Flitting from mind to mind. It giggles hysterically at it's play things.Its a small thing, insignificant mostly.

It plays with your head,alters your memories, fills that space behind your eyes with imigianedslights and faults.

Some minds are not right for it, will not harbor it, and soon it iscast out to flit and flitter its way to a new mind, a new chance totake root.

Occasionally it finds a home. A perfect match. A mind already fullof rot, a soul ready for suggestion.

Then it begins.

The nightmares, the visions, the pain. It never ends.

Sometimes there is insanity. Sometimes there is murder, but alwaysthere is the thing, small and mostly insignificant, unless it finds the right host.

Season of Harvest

When autumn finally arrived, the towns children were buzzing with excitement.

In their evenings they no longer played video games or watched television. They all gathered in the gazebo at the town square and stuffed the scarecrows.

There wasn't any laughter, not any joking and very little talking. The air was full of the sound of corn husks and the tangy and almost unpleasant smell of the same.

To the few people who were strangers who passed though that little town square, the children looked somber, not excited. But the townies knew better.

The adults watched their children, with small smiles on their faces. Some of the children’s relaxed enthusiasm rubbed off on them.

They felt the joy of the coming of autumn, but sadness as well, because they knew that the scarecrows were not for the fields.

By the time the last of the leaves fell from the trees, hundreds of scarecrows were in the gazebo, and surrounding it. Even the gazebo's roof was covered with the stuffy men.

Autumn was easing into winter, and the night had come.

Bonfire night.

The children stood in a huge circle around the scarecrow filled gazebo, gazing at it with hungry smiles in their eyes, as the youngest of them walked up and was handed the gift of a burning stick.

Fire. Most days of their lives they were told to never play with it. On this night they got to use it.

The youngest would touch it to the foot of the nearest stuffy, and soon they all lit up.

When the fire was nearing its peak all the children were sent to their homes, but the adults would stay by the fire.

The children never complained, never tried to stay, because the fire, once large, frightened them, as did the screams they sometimes thought they heard as they lay in their beds, trying to sleep while shadows from the stuffy bonfire danced on the walls and ceilings of their rooms.

Life has four seasons, they are taught.

Spring is the newborn babies, fresh and new.

Summer is the children, still young with plenty of time left in their year, but no longer fresh, no longer new.

Fall is for the adults, aging, fading, growing dry and discolored like the leaves on the trees.

And then there is winter, when you die.

When fall finally arrives, winter soon follows.

Every night, after the stuffy fire, the children watch their parents sweep up the ash and rebuild the gazebo, already preparing for next years harvest of those in the winter of their lives.

Nothing had changed....

Nothing had changed, except for everything.

The misty morning sunset wasn't as romantic as it ought to have been.

"I'm sick of the whole lot of it," she said, waiving her hand to indicate the whole English cottagy feel of it.

The mailman was perplexed, but she didn't feel like explaining it to him.

"Finnigan has his reasons, of course he does," she said, then turned and walked back inside leaving the cat to explain it for her.

They were beginning to call her queer.

Quite right, she thought. Rather queer than eccentric anyway. Eccentric is only one step away from crazy. Queer is just unique.

Unique just like the whole of the world is supposed to have been, but had forgotten to be.

"I suppose I'd best be going now," she told her petunias. "I'll leave the luggage. You can use it as you wish."

She paused for a moment to look down in the basement.

So thats where I left me, she though. Oughtn't leave the door open, but its too late now.

The golden ladder was in the closet where she had left it, and as she climbed her only regret was that she had forgotten to feed Finnigan before she left.

The Uninvited Guest

"You know him?"

"Nope. I ain't never even seen him before. When I got up this morning he was there, just like that."

"He's got a black eye."

"Yep. I noticed that."

"I wonder where he come from?"

"I wonder that too. Thats why I called you, you know. I thought maybe you could do somethin
about it."

"Don't know what it is I could do about him."

"But he ain't supposed to be here. Ain't there sumthing you do with these wanderers?"

"Yep, there is, but I dont rightly know if I want that to happen to him. He looks like he's lived a hard one."

"So just wake him up and send him on his way."

"I can't rightly do that either. If he stuck around, caused any trouble like, it would be on my shoulders, you know?"

"Yeah, I know. I know. But what am I gonna do."

"You thought about keepin him?"

"Keeping him? What on earth could I do with him. He looks damn near useless."

"He does. He does. But ain't your Thelma been wanting one?"

"Well, I guess she has at that."

"Seems to me that it was meant to be. Now you got one without all the added expense, you
know. What do you think."

"Well, I think maybe I will keep him. I'm sorry I called you out here for nothing."

"If you call Thelma out so I can see the look on her face when you show him to her, I'll call us even."

"Alright. I think I can do that. THELMA! Come look at this cute little kitten I found sleepin in my truck this morning!"

Gift of the Heart

He was sitting on her throne, and had a box in his lap.

"What is the meaning of this," she demanded.

He leapt to his feet, smiling unapologetic, and his eyes danced with a delicious wickedness. "For you." He told her, lifting the box.

"For you always. For us. For him, if you prefer."

He held the box toward her, wanting her to reach for it, for him. When she didn't he turned and sat the box down on her husbands seat. Then he moved past her.

He paused just before leaving and said, "Open it. Know what your heart knows."

When he was gone she relaxed. That man had a way of unnerving her.

So did that box.

It shimmered, even in the dark room. It radiated emotion, intriguing, unreal.

Somehow she had crossed the room and had the box. One hand clutched it, her other traced around the lip of the top.

She could crack it open, peek inside. No one could know.


She wanted to throw the box, but didn't. Throwing it would open it, opening it would show what she should never know.

It was hers now.

Hers to keep, to hide, to suffer.