Friday, December 8, 2017

2 Minutes. Go!

Hey, writer-type folks. AND PEOPLE WHO JUST WANT TO PLAY BUT DON'T IDENTIFY AS 'WRITERS' - all are welcome here! Every Friday, we do a fun free-write. For fun. And Freedom!

Write whatever you want in the 'comments' section on this blog post. Play as many times as you like. #breaktheblog! You have two minutes (give or take a few seconds ... no pressure!). Have fun. The more people who play, the more fun it is. So, tell a friend. Then send 'em here to read your 'two' and encourage them to play.

People don’t like to visit. The pelts give off an odor. The buckets full of glass eyes weird folks out. I get it, but a man has to make a living. I never wanted to work in an office. I don’t like manual labor. I never imagined I’d be the guy you bring your dead weasel to, but that’s the way it worked out.

So many heads. Deer, Elk, Moose. You name it, I’ve mounted its head on reclaimed wood. I don’t like it, but it’s peaceful work. Quiet. Until someone comes in with their pet. It happens more than you’d think.

Sometimes you do what you gotta do because money is important. But most times I draw the line. I try to be nice about it. Sometimes I want to scream. But I don’t.

But I can’t imagine it. I’ve had dogs I loved more than I love my mother, but I don’t want them staring at me, glassy-eyed, from the corner of the living room. Why would anyone want that? It makes my blood run cold. And it makes me wonder when it’s going to happen. The thing I fear the most.

“Sir, we’d like you to preserve my mother’s remains…”

#2minutesgo Tweet it! Share it! Shout it from the top of the shack you live in! I will be out most of the day, but I'll be back...


  1. Ugh. And yes, I feel ya. Or him. Or whatever. :)

    1. YIKES! That went in a different direction than I imagined, but it's wow-effective!

    2. "Yikes," is right, Leland. At first I was like, "oh, right." Then it hit me like like "OH, RIGHT!" Then it really hit me and I got all shivery and maybe even melancholy, in some fucked up way. If this sounds fucked up, too, Then it means you did a great job here, Dan.

    3. Ack and yikes! I was about to paste in the great line "I never imagined I’d be the guy you bring your dead weasel to, but that’s the way it worked out." And then I read the ending.

  2. It doesn’t feel like history when you live it, you know? I took an oath, that’s all. Defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. They were just words when I said them, when I was 19.

    I mean, I could feel their gravity, and I knew what they meant, but they were words, not action, know what I mean?

    But the words ate at me. Wouldn’t leave me alone. I swore allegiance to a piece of paper, well, the ideas on that piece of paper. Not to a king, not to a flag, not even to a country, but the Constitution.

    I didn’t sign up to be a hero. Hell, I just wanted to get enough money to go to school, maybe see a little bit of the world. And I did those things. That happened.

    I shoulda stayed away from the newspapers, and the internet, too. I kept seeing things. Things that pissed me off. If I was supposed to protect the Constitution, why the hell wasn’t he protecting it?

    And then I knew. He was the enemy. Maybe domestic, maybe foreign. But he was the enemy.

    I never killed a man before or since, and I don’t think I’m a murderer. I’m just a soldier, doing my job.

    Getting the Medal of Honor and a pardon on the same day surprised the hell out of me. Maybe I oughta run for office, though “assassin” looks kinda nice on my business card.

    1. There are no words for how much I love this.

    2. Man, the voice here is so spot on. It would have been so easy to fuck this up, and you didn't. "That happened." Just that. It's perfect.

    3. Boy, Leland, the matter-of-fact tone of this is chilling, but so REAL. As Dan noted, the "That happened," is so effective, leaving it to the reader to fill in the blanks as they will. I guess that’s the soul of flash fiction.

    4. Thanks... y'all make me proud to be in your company.

  3. I have learned secrets
    from dark places
    from quiet corners
    from candles
    fighting the night
    some battles
    are won
    some are lost
    but candles
    light other candles
    and are no less
    for the fire
    they share
    yet remember
    some dark corners
    are safe
    just as they are.

    1. I dig this. The rhythm is weirdly jarring in a good way. I can't explain it, but it works really well. This poem makes me feel like I'm in North Beach. Back when it didn't suck ass.

    2. Ah, Kerouac and Ginsberg's haunts... you compliment me too kindly. Thank you.

    3. This speaks to this poet, Leland. Tight, dreamy and laser-guided right to my heart.

    4. Thank you kindly. I admire your work, Joseph, and cherish your praise.

    5. Love it. The softness, like the words are tiptoeing up on you.

  4. He snapped. There’s no other way of putting it. I don’t mean he went crazy. He’d been that all along. I was looking at him when it happened, and his face, his face was transformed. It was like something else took control of his face.

    At first, it looked like he was at peace. Then it looked like a fight was going on under his cheeks and around his eyes. I said nothing. Hoping whatever it was would pass.
    And then it did. And he smiled. Not the happy, skys-are-so-blue smile he had when he was a kid. This was pure evil. Like his teeth had rearranged themselves, gotten sharper, maybe longer.

    I said I had to leave. Errands. Groceries. Hell, I don’t remember what I said, I just wanted out of there. He moved between me and the door.

    “I think you can stay a while. I’m sure of it,” he said. “In fact, I’d like to have you for dinner.”

    I was right. His teeth were sharper.

    1. Interesting. You melded genre and reality really well here. Once in my life have I seen someone "snap" and it was exactly you completely nailed the effect.

      Obviously, when I saw it there were no vampires. ;) But I have seen someone go from placid to insane in one second and you subtly caught that.

    2. *exactly like that. You completely... ;)

    3. Thanks! I've seen it happen, too, and it's startling... the physical changes are alarming... and there are always vampires... sometimes they are invisible, and sometimes they wear human costumes.

  5. “You know what Santa does with his elves after Christmas?” the older boy said in a matter of fact voice.

    The five-year-old me shook his head.

    “He eats them. Then he and Mrs. Claus make new ones for the next Christmas. They say elves taste like chicken.”


    I cried all the way home, and Mama, bless her heart, had to tell me then that there was no Santa Claus, so there was no eating of elves.

    I still don’t know which was worse, the idea of a cannibal Santa or finding out that there was no Santa.

    The boy who told me that grew up to be a politician. Bullies liked him. And it surprised me how many bullies there are. Enough to elect a president, it seems.

    Recipe? Oh, you like it? It’s just something I made up on the spur of the moment. A little cayenne, a little sage, and the biggest pork butt you can find. Eat up! I’m sure there will be more next year. I call it L’Enfant Donald Terrible. No, darling, you have to say it with a French accent. Otherwise it’s just another piece of meat.

    1. You're on a roll today. I dig it.

    2. Man, that last paragraph! Hot damn.

    3. I’m just happy to latch onto your stream of consciousness today, Leland. The courage and imagination are exciting. The talent and skill are a given.

  6. “You’re better off here with me.”

    “What’s that?” Jacob half-turned from his position by the window. There were snow-flakes pasted to the outside of the glass and his breath had fogged an oval in line with where his face had been.

    I got up and reached for his shoulders, curving myself about his hip as I always did. “I said ‘You’ll be better off here with me’. You know it’s true.”

    “But…the others? We always go in December. It’s like a tradition. This’ll be the first time I’ve missed since high school. What’ll everybody say?”

    I laid my cheek against his back, sensing his warmth, pressing myself ever closer.

    “They’ll say you’ve grown up. They’ll say you’ve become the man they wished they were. An adult…with responsibilities.”

    If I closed my eyes, I could feel it now. A packet of life, growing larger. It was time we began to draw together more. To concentrate on being a family, instead of a man and a woman who’d discovered how love could shake up their lives in an instant. We would have to begin to make changes; there’d be no better time than now. This fishing trip could be a new start for all of us. Maybe he could take our son fishing when he was old enough – it’d be a bonding experience for them both.

    Jacob turned and moved away from the window, his eyes cool but resigned.

    “I guess,” he said, cradling me in his arms. “I guess.”

    1. Ouch. That, I imagine, hits it right on the nose. Well done, as usual, Mark.

    2. Well done, indeed. This could grow into something much larger... you've given us poignancy, a little bit of a controlling spouse, and a little bit of regret and and a little bit of hope...

    3. You've mentioned finding your voice several times recently. Or something to that effect. I see balance. The right amount of detail in the right places. Dialogue? Hypnotic. Don't tell anyone, but the word "craft" annoys me usually, but you're proving that it is real. You're honing the blade to a razor edge, friend.

    4. Thank you all, folks. I truly appreciate these comments. And yes, I definitely feel I'm beginning to bring everything together much better now.

    5. Oh, I really enjoyed this. And I wanted to know more about these people.

  7. They don’t think I know. That’s the funny thing. They lounge around the apartment looking innocent – some worse for wear. Missing eyes, twisted arms. Some used to have eyes that closed when they were horizontal. Those eyes don’t close anymore. To most people, including the little ones, they are benevolent decorations. Playthings. Friends, even.

    I know the truth.

    I know what Rainbow Brite does while we’re sleeping.

    Up until yesterday, it had been innocent. Socks gone missing in the laundry … my keys gone from where I left them. They were always messing with my fishing shit. But it was innocent.

    I woke up covered in blood.

    I wasn’t injured. No one was. Emotionally, I guess. Emotionally, I was destroyed, but there were no cuts, no abrasions… It wasn’t just the blood on me. There was a puddle on the carpet. Tiny red hand prints leading up the wall to the window latch.

    Everyone tried to come up with reasonable explanations. Even the cops. A wild animal? That’s because they didn’t see the look in her eyes. The look that said: Go ahead and sleep, human.

    We’re coming for you next.

    1. I'm sooooo glad I read this this morning instead of last night... tiny red hand prints... that was the terrifying part. Good stuff.

    2. Oh, man. I knew they were trouble. Love it.

  8. I wanted it all gone. All of it. Every scrap. Every bit of memory tied to some artificial piece of emotional baggage. Rip the metaphorical tags off. Throw it all in a pile in the yard. I wasn’t thinking straight.

    Or I was thinking straighter than I ever had.

    I don’t know.

    I was tired. Tired of coming across old letters that opened old wounds. Tired of finding pictures that made me think about how time steals from us. Tired of questioning old decisions because I was forced to. There was no dignity in it.

    So, I gathered it all up. The books she’d bought me. My favorite jacket – an old gift. Countless pictures and notes and silly trifles. I piled them high. Then, I poured kerosene on the pile and threw a match. I watched the fire for a few minutes. It only burned for a few minutes. Paper goes quick. The jacket lasted the longest.

    And then I felt free. I felt clean. I went inside to tell the world of my triumph. And that’s when I remembered.

    You can’t burn the internet.

    1. ouch, and that's true! even when we delete, the internet never forgets... but it is a liberating feeling to rid one's self of some of the ephemera of pain...

  9. If I could sleep forever, I would. Not in any kind of emo way. I don’t want to be dead. I don’t think the darkness would bring some kind of profound peace. I just like to sleep. And I’d want to wake up every once in a while – just long enough to realize I get to sleep forever. Crack a nice little smile before going back to the dream world.

    Then, there are times that I never want to sleep again. Times when I can almost convince myself that it would be a good thing. Sleep is the time-stealer. Maybe if I drank enough coffee... Maybe if I became a vegetarian, I’d need less sleep... Think how much I could accomplish!

    But I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t accomplish shit. I’d love to be one of those people who need five hours of sleep and wake up fresh as a daisy. In theory. In reality? I don’t know what I’d do with all the time.

    And I like being the guy that wakes up after a solid eight hours with pillow creases on his face, wondering why my third grade teacher wants to come back from the space station. Why?

    When we were having so much fun in zero gravity. And the space pizza was just about to be delivered…

    1. I like this... an homage to sleep! and sleep is good... it lets the subconscious mind create, uninterrupted by our neurotic conscious mind... Now, I wonder how you work the tip for the pizza delivery guy through the airlock...

  10. Roosting in the Dark and the Din

    The pigeons swoop up,
    gliding into the gray,
    disappearing as if
    swallowed whole
    in the sunless underside
    of right to left.
    As I race beneath them,
    their roosts rumble
    like summer thunder
    without end, with no
    burst of lightning
    save for the flash.

    With that glance
    I see birds burst forth
    from beneath the dark
    underside of that bridge
    traversing The Avenue.
    Beneath that expanse
    of rock and metal rest
    soft spots of straw and down,
    where fluttering heartbeats
    ignore the din of the semis
    roaring through their nursery,
    hauling sunlight on their backs
    like starlings at noon.

    1. ah, this is wonderful... and the last line reminds me of the photo that David Antrobus shared on his timeline and blog of the starlings taking off en masse.

    2. Dang! Leland took my answer! ;)

  11. Stille Nacht, 1914

    Liebe Mama, the letter began when she opened its mud spattered paper, unfinished, like the life that penned it. On the other side of The Channel it read Dearest Mum. And then their stories began of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day when the guns ceased their booming bursts for that time and young men peeked over the mole-run, rat-hole front lines with no fear of dying without a head to send with their bodies, home to Liebe Mama and Dearest Mum.

    They told of going over the top clutching tobacco and biscuits, candy and sausages, instead of Enfields or Mausers, to trade season’s greetings instead of death. And carols were heard instead of the screams of the shells, the wails of the wounded, unanswered calls to Mama and Mum.

    But these were mud soldiers, the ones whose bodies would fertilize the poppies one day, perhaps, when church bells would ring for Christmas services and not to bury mein junge or my boy.

    It’s said the clean uniforms at the rear called a cease to the cease fires in later years, because such fraternization was not in keeping with victory for King and Country.

    And so barely again did boys in Khaki or Grau join hands in the brotherhood of men who all looked alike when covered in the mud of Flanders or to the addressees of these, their last letters home. For after the final strains of Stille Nacht, there’d come no more silent nights except where now poppies grow, between the crosses, row on row.

    (An oldie, but I’m dying to get in the spirit. Almost literally)

    1. It's beautiful... and sad.... and painful... Do you know the song by Garth Brooks called Belleau Wood? He sings of those unauthorized truces, and now you and he have given me an idea for a story. Thank you for the beauty of this.

    2. Wow, man. This is some epic writing.

  12. He missed the old days, the old wars. They moved slow enough that the soldiers on opposite sides could develop some kind of relationship, even respect for each other.
    Nowadays, someone in Florida watched on video, and then pushed a button to kill the enemy. Nice, tidy, clean. Heartless.

    There was that time, in World War I, when the soldiers themselves called a truce, exchanging wine, and singing Christmas songs together. That was when war was noble.

    Of course, men still died. Horrible deaths, lingering deaths, but they had time to know they were dying. And they knew and could tell people how horrible war was, and why it must be prevented.

    Now, now it was all so quick. All so easy. And so horrible that the soldiers didn’t like to talk about it. And so politicians made more wars. More expensive than football, but it gave the populace something to cheer about, even when they didn’t know where on the map the war was being fought.

    He waxed nostalgic. He wept. He missed the old days. It’s not easy now, being the god of war.

    1. "...they had time to know they were dying." - that phrase keeps ringing in my ears. Well played, amigo.

  13. It was larger than I’d imagined it would be, but then I’d never truly believed they existed. It was like a square box or a cube; its sides roughly equal and its texture slightly roughened. It could have been made from anything; wood, ivory, metal or any combination of those. It could have been covered in leather – it had a disquieting fleshiness to it if you closed your eyes – but it was not what I’d expected. Not at all.

    “So,” I said. “You’re sure it’s not a hoax?” I gave it a shake, hoping to hear something inside it moving; a mechanism or an item that could be removed. “It could just be a fake, made by someone with access to unusual materials. Like a copy of a dream made real.”

    Winston shook his head. “And why would they do that? The legends all say they disappear once they’ve been used. Why would anyone make this and then put it on a shelf? What’s the use of that? Everyone who’s received one has used it – that’s the point of them. They change the world forever but make the user pay a price for what he receives.”

    “That’s what they say. Personally, I think it’s hogwash.” I spun the cube on its corners, squinting at it and watching the plaques blurring as it turned. It had a lozenge-shaped piece of sheet metal tacked onto three of the six sides; the identifier plate on the top, the guide-plate on the bottom and the number-plate on the front; each of them flush with the material they were attached to and covered with engravings which had been inked for clarity. This one was a subtractor cube, the plate on the top of the box bearing a minus sign. There were four others – or so the legends said – but this was one of the most powerful; the question-mark cube being the one that topped this one for potential. Nobody had ever seen a question-mark cube; there were only the plates on the bases of the others that hinted at its existence. The legends said that it was the master cube; the one that could change anything and everything its user desired. It was the mythical equivalent of an atom bomb but could create just as easily as it could destroy.

    1. You can't just stop! ;) This is super intriguing. Definitely makes me want more.

  14. A two-parter...

    Part 1

    Everyone else had turned in and he stayed in the living room, bathed in the glow of the white lights on the tree while the wind chimes outside the window, tuned to play pleasant, angelic notes, sang their soothing chorus. Or, it was advertised to be soothing. That’s what he got for his $19.99 on the home shopping channel. He still felt the pain behind his eyes, the tension in his shoulders, and no amount of Fox News or chamomile tea had helped him. In his frustration he’d taken one of the pills his secretary had offered. About an hour later it made him sleepy enough to think about going to bed, to the point where he’d even lay upon the mattress, but real sleep eluded him. Now he considered that the dosage had been inadequate. Nobody knew jack shit around here. For a man his size, with his vitality, surely he should have been told to take two. Groaning, he hoisted his bulk from the sofa and took three for good measure, chasing them down with what was left of a warm Diet Coke, and went to bed.

    Still, nothing. Thoughts raced around his head, but like toy cars spitting out of a traffic circle, eventually the traffic slowed and a kind of fuzz filled not just his mind but the entire room.

    And then a voice, or maybe one of the wind chime angels, feathered through the clouds. “Wake up...”


    “Mr. President...wake up.”

    “Mmmpfh. Tired.”

    “Mr. President. There’s a situation.”

    “Then take care of it. Izzat what I pay you for? Tired. So tired.”

    “No, Mr. President. You’re the situation.”

    “Of course I am.” He smacked his lips and grinned. “They can’t get enough of me. Lock her up.”

    “Mr. President, the FBI is here.”

    “Fake news.” He pulled the pillow over his head. “Change the channel.”

    There were two voices now. Two wind chimes, in different keys, going in and out like they were all under water.

    Maybe if he wished hard enough, they would all go away. It had worked before. But they were still talking. In his head he went to his happy place. A fast food restaurant full of pretty girls, no waiting. Where he was king. King of the Happy Meal. With a fistful of hamburgers and a real gold crown...

    “Mr. President, we really need you to focus now. You’ve done some things...”

  15. Part 2...

    “Didn’t do ’em,” he muttered. “Baseless allegations...” He rolled back, and he tried to open his eyes, but the lids were like lead. So heavy...

    One of the voices sighed. “Get the device ready,” it said.

    Don’t like this TV show...

    Then his fingertips were vibrating and a sound like a wet pop! filled his ears. Blood raced through his body and his shoulders jerked and he sat up as if some unseen puppeteer had yanked his strings. “What? What? Fake news. Little Mario. What is it?”

    “Oh, thank God,” the voice said. The face began to swim into focus. It looked like a potato with lipstick and brown hair. “Mr. President. Did you sign this?”

    “Wha...what?” A big piece of paper came closer. The words...they were all so big. But that looked like his signature. “That?”

    “Yes, sir.”

    “Was it something Obama liked?”

    “Yes, sir.”

    “Well, then I signed it. Is that it? Because I’m really so very very tired...”

    “Mr. President. Donald. You deported Chicago.”

    “Of course I did. That was one of my campaign promises. To wipe out crime there.”

    “By...deporting everyone in it?”

    “That’ll stop the crime, won’t it?”

    “Mr. President. The FBI says you can’t do that.”

    “Like hell I can’t! They’re always trying to tell me what I can’t do. I’m the president; I can do anything. I can levitate. I can make flames shoot out my eyes. Just watch!” He focused all his strength into the paper. Nothing happened. Damn it. He had to see a doctor about that.

    There was more muttering that he didn’t understand. He wished they would stop. But that didn’t work either. “Yeah,” one of them said. “I think you’re right. I think it’s time.”

    “Is my favorite show on? Is that what time it is?”

    Someone who looked like a man in a black suit swam up next to the potato woman. “Yes, Mr. President. That’s what time it is. Now, you’re going to feel just a little pinch on your arm, and then count backwards from a hundred and we’ll take you to your happy place...”

    “What? Happy meals? I... ouch. One hundred... ninety-two... lock her up...”

    The wind chimes sang then, sounding like a chorus of angels, like the biggest crowd he’d ever seen, everyone cheering his name.

    1. That is soooo plausible, and gorgeous, and full of hope... well done!

    2. we are all going to have SO much fun together in Guantanamo....

    3. Wow. I'm sort of amused and sort of terrified and sort of anxious. This is a really interesting piece. It does so many things.

      This: King of the Happy Meal.

      This needs to be the name of the collection of these you write. If you go to Gauntanamo, we'll probably all be there already. ;)


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