Thursday, September 2, 2010

Close Encounter

No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get over their eyes.  Their hairless, fetal pink skin wasn’t much better, but the eyes were the worst.

At least two dozen of the things lay there, all with perfectly identical pairs of empty black eyes that gleamed like marbles.  They were like those dome covered security cameras they have at the bank; you can’t see it, but you know it’s watching your every move.

“They’re not of this world,” I muttered to Amy.

“Definitely alien,” she agreed.

Neither of us dared to look away from them, certain they would spring to life and jump us if we did.

“Okay class,” Chef Michael strode in.  “I’m glad to see that everyone survived our first week of Advanced Butchering, so we’ll begin this week with a new beast: suckling pig.  If one person from each bench will come up and pick a pig, we’ll get started.”

Amy and I looked at one another.  I threw paper.  She threw scissors.

Cursing my bad luck, I grabbed a hotel pan while Amy lay out our carving knives.

Approaching the pig pile, their unearthly plastic, alien quality became even more apparent.  They stared up at me.  I gulped.

Look at it this way, I told myself.  At least you won’t be facing it unarmed.

With that final thought in mind, I grabbed the nearest pig by its front hooves and pulled.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Marie and George: Home Alone

Bill was away for work and Tommy was spending the night with the cub scouts the night it happened.

Marie awoke to what she registered as a glass shattering as it hit the floor.  Her first though was that Tommy had woken in the middle of the night and wanted a glass of water.  Then she remembered that Tommy wasn’t home and George wasn’t able to get to the glasses, as they were safely tucked away with child proof latches on the cabinets.

Fully awake in mere moments, Marie rolled silently out of bed and slid into her slippers.  She heard more clinking and jostling coming from the dining room as she crept down the stairs, only further confirming her worst fears: someone had broken into the house.

The first thing Marie noticed as she slipped into the kitchen was the broken window in the kitchen door, its glass scattered across the tiled floor.  Then she noticed the door to the broom closet, where George slept, had been flung open. 

Feeling a sickening bout of panic rise in her, Marie quickly sidestepped the broken glass and tip toed over to the closet.  George’s bed was empty and the singed toys he neatly put away before bed each night lay scattered across the floor as if they were overturned in a panic.  


As if on cue, she heard the scrabbling of dragon claws and the clang of dragon scales against a metal cage in the living room.  The burglar was not only after the Finnegan’s fine China, but was kidnapping the family pet!

Oh no you don’t, Marie thought.  From the knife stand, she drew her largest chef’s knife.  Robbing her was bad, but stealing George?  This burglar was going to pay for that.

Creeping along the walls, she made her way towards the living room.  In the dim moonlight she could make out the back of the man stuffing the silver candle sticks that had belonged to Bill’s grandmother into a sack while a very frustrated George tried to burn a hole in the large Have-A-Heart trap the burglar had forced him into.  Enough was enough.

Marie flicked on the lights.

“Hey, you!  What do you think you’re doing?” she demanded, banishing her knife at the intruder.

The burglar started, dropping a vase Marie was particularly fond of so it smashed into hundreds of pieces.

“Hands up!  I’ve got a knife, so no sudden movements.”  Her voice was clear and unwavering.  She was in charge here, she was the one armed.

The man turned slowly, his arms raised over his head.  Between his sun burnt face and ruggedly menacing demeanor, Marie figured he was something like a construction worker on his honest days.

There was a click and Marie noticed the glint of mental in the light.

Crap, Marie thought, her bravado gone.  He has a gun.

Without a word, he motioned for Marie to put down her knife.  Slowly, Marie bent down and placed the knife on the carpet.  She never took her eyes off the gun.  She was too scared to look anywhere else.

Once the knife was down and Marie’s held her hands where he could see them, the burglar lowered the gun and reached down to pick up his bag.

That’s when George jumped in.  He sunk his jagged teeth into the burglar’s gun arm, causing the burglar to yowl in pain.  In his surprise he accidentally pulled the trigger and shot the coffee table.  The bullet went though a stack of cooking magazines Marie had been borrowing from her sister-in-law.  Marie hoped she wouldn’t mind the bullet hole.

A loud thump brought her back to the burglar.  He had sunk to the floor, his gun forgotten on the rug next to him.  He held his bitten arm to his body, his face contorted in unbearable pain.

“George, get the gun,” Marie said.  She didn’t know how George had escaped his cage, but she didn’t care.  He had saved her.

Carefully, she approached the burglar.  Now that she was standing above him, she could see that the flesh on the burglar’s arm was deteriorating in front of her eyes, as if it was being eaten away by acid.  Understanding setting in, Marie whipped around to look at the cage.  There was a large, ragged hole in the metal, the sort of hole you’d expect from acid erosion.  George stood at her feet, the gun in his mouth and his tail wagging.  He dropped the gun at her feet.  There were distinct dents where George’s teeth had clenched the barrel.

“Guard him,” Marie ordered George, pointing to the burglar.  She went into the kitchen and called the police.

The police arrived fifteen minutes later.  The burglar seemed happy to go with them, as it meant putting further distance between him and George.

Marie half expected the police to insist on taking George in, on account for his having bit someone.  To her surprise, the officer instead scratched George under the chin, earning him George’s everlasting friendship, and said, “Looking at the circumstances and seeing as it’s his first offense, we’ll just let this slide, alright?”

Marie was not one to argue with an officer of the law (at least not when he’d just done her and George a favor).

Once the police left, Marie went back to the kitchen to sweep up the glass, tape over the huge hole in her door, and tuck George back into bed.  Only George had other ideas.

After helping her find far flung pieces of glass, he waddled into his closet, grabbed his asbestos lined doggy bed loaded with his favorite toys, and dragged the whole lot into up the stairs.  When Marie entered her bedroom, George was already there waiting for her.  He glanced between her and the bed, his request obvious.

“Oh, alright. I guess you’ve earned it.  But just this once, okay?”  George gave a little nod and waited patiently as Marie heaved his asbestos coated doggy bed and toys up onto Bill’s side of the comforter.  With practiced ease, he sprung up and onto his bed, fluttering his wings excitedly.  He circled around his bed a few times before settling down to face Marie as she climbed onto her own side.

Marie smiled and gently stroked the top of his head.  “Good night, George,” she whispered.

George heaved a content sigh and fell fast asleep.

Thursday, July 29, 2010


 Maire and George are back again with a quick little view into their hectic lives.  To meet the entire Finnegan family and witness George's hatching, please read Marie & George: The Beginning
Marie secretly hated taking George for his daily walks, but she liked her house in its (minimally) un-charred state too much to risk not taking him.  It wasn’t the walking itself that bothered her – George’s walking skills had improved to the point that her being entangled in his leash was a weekly rather than daily occurrence – but the questions that she got from passers by.  They were always the same.

“How old is he?”
“Nine months.”
“Where did you get him?”
“My son found him in the woods somewhere.”
“Will he get much bigger?”
“I certainly hope not.”
“Can I pet him?”
“Only if you want a bite marks full of sulfuric acid.”

The last answer, probably the one Marie used the most, was an exaggeration.  George was exceedingly friendly (she only knew about the acid was thanks to a burglary attempt a few months back) but Marie felt there was no need to run the risk of some idiot kid – or adult, for that matter – doing something stupid, getting hurt, and then blaming George for it.  As far are Marie was concerned, people should know better not to bother animals.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Plant Whisperer

A quick and fun not-so-Friday-flash based on the Writer’s Digest prompt “You wake up one day with an unusual super power that seems pretty worthless—until you are caught in a situation that requires that specific ‘talent.’”

Sun sun sun! Shine shine shhiiine! A small, merry voice hummed.

What in the – I thought as I woke.  I squinted at the rays of sunlight that crept through the gaps in my venetian shades.  Leaning on an elbow, I looked around my room, trying to locate the source of the voice.  No one was there.  I could hear the pattering of water from the showing in the adjacent bathroom.  My roommate was up, but it couldn’t have been her.

Glancing back at my window, the African violet my mother had given me caught my eye.  The bud it sprouted a few days ago had finally bloomed.  Its violet face seemed to smile as its velvety leaves bathed in the light.  I grinned back at it and reached into its pot to test the soil moisture.

Water, the voice had returned. Please? it added.

I pulled my finger back from the soil like it was going to bite me.  Was that…what I thought it was?

Tentatively, I stroked one of the leaves.

Tickles! The voice giggled.

Great.  I’m hearing plants talk.


By the end of the week I’d gotten use to hearing plant chatter whenever I went outside.  The grass would whisper, the flowers boasted about their blooms, and my potted herbs would sing to me whenever I watered them – in harmony no less.

It could get annoying, though.  I use to enjoy the quiet walks through the park, but now my walks were invaded by the passing thoughts of every blade of grass, every shrub, and every tree.  It was no longer a quiet walk.  The only way I could get away from the noise was to plug myself into my ipod and blast Dragonforce.

On one such walk I was minding my own business, power metal buzzing in my ears, when a young girl and her untrained puppy jogged past; her parents walked behind them at a more leisurely pace.  Actually , it was more like the puppy was walking the girl and in its excitement it pulled the leash free of her hands.

“No!  Mr. Snuffles!  Come baaaaack!”

He bounded into the woods edging the park and without a second though the girl ran in after him. 

“Nora! Nora, get back here right now!” her mother cried, running up to the edge of the woods, but it was too late.  The girl and puppy were gone.

People began to stop and gather around the wailing mother and frantic father.  Cell phones were out en mass as everyone started calling 911 and the news stations.   I paused my music and popped out my earbuds.  My plant senses were tingling. 

By the edge of the forest where the puppy had bounded off, a faint groan rose from the plants whose stems had been bent or torn.  That gave me an idea.  Maybe I could put this new, slightly annoying new “talent” to good use.

I strode past the crowd and right up to the parents.  “I’ll go find them,” I said and before they could reply I stepped into the woods.

As the chatter of the crowd gave way to the murmur of the undergrowth, I knelt and listened for the pain ridden moans of damaged plants.  Sure enough, there was a whole line of them bearing to my right.  Doing my best not to add to their pain, I followed the string of complaints deeper into the woods.

A half an hour later, I found a sweaty Nora holding onto the dirty leash of Mr. Snuffles who had paused to relieve himself on a nearby oak.

Smelly, it whined as the urine seeped through its bark.  I felt sorry for it.

“Hello, there," I smiled a the girl.  "You must be Nora.”

The girl nodded and Mr. Snuffles finished doing his business.

“Are you ready to get out of here?”

She nodded again and took my hand.  I retraced our steps, whispering my apologies to the plants as we stepped on them, again, and Mr. Snuffles frolicked over previously undamaged growth.  I apologized to those plants too.

When we emerged from the woods, we were greeted by ambulance sirens, TV cameras, and cold drinks.  I took a bottle of water while Nora shyly told her story to an overly made-up news anchor.

“And how exactly did you find her?” the anchor asked, shoving her microphone in my face mid-sip.

I took my time swallowing my water before saying, “Oh, a little oak tree tipped me off.”

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Rottin' Job: Tape 2

After a month hiatus, we're back with part 2 of the serial Rottin' Jobs!  This is my part of my challenge to mari over at mari's randomities to write a story involving a zombified dragon.  Make sure you follow her serial, starting with It's Coming.

I'm trying yet another approach to this story to to make it understandable while letting the characters...uniqueness shine through.  Let me know what you think. Thanks for your patience, everyone, and enjoy!


Montague Mansion Log
Butler in residence: James Butler III
June 4, 2021

This is a continuing account of the “incident” in the primary underground vault that required the hiring of Mr. Timothy “Teeth” O’Mally and his crew of zombie hunters – or as they call themselves, “undead pest exterminators.”   I left Mr. O’Mally and team at the entrance of the vault at precisely 11:23 am on Monday June 3, 2021.  The following is my own account of the incident with aid from the audio and video recordings made by the vault’s security cameras that morning.

“What the ‘ell is that?!” exclaimed the leather clad twenty-something, his nail studded, blood stained baseball bat slung over his broad shoulders.

“I think…it’s a dragon,” murmured the red-headed teenager.  Slung over his bony back was a bag near as tall and twice as wide as himself, it’s contents leaking in odd patches through the rough canvas.  I can see him quiet literally shaking in his too large boots in the video.  He holds his remaining arm behind his back, as if hiding it will keep it safe.

“Stop talkin’ crazy, Nom!  Dragons ain’t real!” the angry man shouted.  He used his bat to point at what was clearly a dragon, “’E’s probably just an ‘uge zom-bay-fyed lizard!”

“’Ush up, Brady!” Mr. O’Mally hissed at the angry man, presumably his son by their shared resemblance.  “I don’t care what it is, but ‘elp me gods if you should wake it up.”

Indeed, Mr. O’Mally judged the situation wisely.  The graying dragon had made itself at home, going so far as to sweep all of Mr. Montague’s treasures up into one pile around the 1/3 scale model of the Parthenon.  At that moment he was fast asleep on roof of the half buried monument, using a gilded treasure chest as a pillow.  With every snore he emitted greenish puffs of rotten air from his nostrils.  His scales, red turning to gray-black with mold on the edges, were sliding off on his sides, neck, and tail to expose the rotting flesh beneath.  I dare not recall the stench of the vault for risk of having to rush off to the lavatory.  Again.  How they could stand being in the same room with it…But I digress.

“What’s our move, Teeth?” The man in a broad rimmed hat and shaggy beard asked.  He was tugging on the hat’s brim with one hand, the other resting upon the hilt of his machete.

“Standard procedure, me thinks,” Mr. O’Mally replied while tucking his necklace of human teeth strung like pearls under his worn t-shirt. “Wes goin’ fer the ‘ead, boys.”  To illustrate his point, he drew his thumb across his neck. 

“But first, doe-vide ‘n con-core.*  Me ‘n Jake will go round the back ta sneak up on ‘im.  Brady, you ‘n Nom go round the front.  If the beast-ay wakes up, distract ‘im.  Use the bait first, ya hear?  I don’t want ya ta go chargin’ in there on yer own. Keep ‘im still fer Jake ‘n his machete.  Are ya listenin’ ta me, Brady?”

“Yeah, yeah,” Brady said waving him off.  “Wes can ‘andle it, Da.  No need to Mam** us ta death!”

“Ya want us ta get closer,” Nom gulped, his knees knocking more violently than before, “ta ‘im?” 

“No, ‘e wants ya ta go back up the stairs ‘n tell Montague ‘e’s a nutter.”  Brady slapped Nom upside the head, “O’ course we’re gettin’ closer, ya dummy!”

The dragon gave a little snort in reply to Brady’s yell as it echoed through the room.  The entire team went still, readying their respective weapons.  When the dragon turned over, sending a cascade of rotting scales sliding down the side of the treasure pile, it was still asleep.  They all breathed a visible sigh of relief.

“I’ve read ‘bout these monster types,” Nom insisted in a whisper.  “Theys got these super senses so theys can tell when ya gets too close ta their fancies.  Wes’ll wake it up fer shore if wes gets closer!”

“You ‘n your readin’!” Brady whispered fiercely, bending down to get in Nom’s face. “If I could knock off a zom-bay ‘ead fer every time ya say ‘I’ve read,’ I’d be the best ‘unter in the world!”


Nom snapped to attention while Brady gave his father an annoyed look.  “Will ya shut your bloody gobs ‘n get a move on?!”

“Yessir,” they both mumbled.  Brady, swaggering like a bulldog, took the lead with Nom trailing behind.  Nom riffled through his bag, pulling out a handful of plastic bags that seemed to contain various animal parts.  “Chicken livers, sheep brains, or cow ‘arts?” he murmured to himself in a distracted way.

O’Mally shook his head as he and Jake watched them walk off.  “What are wes gonna do with ‘em, Jakie?”

“Ya worry too much, Teeth.  They’ll be fine.  Brady’ll keep Nom safe ‘n Nom will stop Brady from doin’ somat stupid.”

“Wes can only hope.” Mr. O’Mally gave his head a final shake.  He shifted his taser gun, a monstrosity I’d heard him refer to as “Mr. T” earlier that afternoon, from one shoulder to the other and said, “Well, there’s no need fer us ta be lolly-gaggin’ ‘ere.  It’s you’re show, Jakie.”

Mr. O’Mally took a step back to allow Jake to take the lead.  “Knock ‘im dead.”

“’N take ‘is head!” Jake finished.  “Slice 'n dice, brotha," he held out his fist and Mr. O’Mally knocked it with his own.  My nephew has told me this is called a “fist pound.”  Where they come up with these things…

And thus, they headed towards the far edge of the vault by the dragon’s tail just as Brady and Nom disappeared behind the mess of toppled terracotta soldiers closer to the dragon’s head.

So ends tape 2.  I will continue this account with tape 3 after Mr. Montague finishes his afternoon tea.

*I believe he was trying to say “divide and conquer.”
**Perhaps “Mam” is some reference to mothering?

Friday, June 4, 2010

Rottin' Job: Part 1

I got a call one mornin’ from a fancy talkin’ man askin’ for O’Mally’s Exterminators: Slayin’ Undead Pests, Formerly ‘Uman or Otherwise, since 1820.  Said ‘e ‘ad a large infestation ‘n would pay double for a quick fix.

So, I rounded up me team: Bloody Jake, me cousin ‘n best friend (‘e specializes in beheadin’ zom-bays.  ‘Is record is forty ‘n one night); Shady Brady, me youngest son (‘e’s a numbskull, but ‘as a way with a bat); Nom, our bag ‘n bait boy (‘e was only the bait ‘imself that one time where ‘e lost ‘is arm.  Called ‘im Nom ever since); and meself, Timothy “Teeth” O’Mally, sporttin’ me zom-bay taser, Mr. T (‘e can fry a zom-bay nervous system t’a crisp from an ‘undred paces).  We jumped inta the van ‘n ‘alf ‘n ‘our later we rolled up ta this big ol’ ‘ouse, all stone ‘n glass.  Missin’ was the normal evidence of an infestation: no torn up lawn, no smashed ‘n windows, no screams or cries fo’ mercy.

“Where the zom-bays at?” Jake asked, peerin’ out the shotgun window.  ‘E was pullin’ on the brim of ‘is pride ‘n joy of an ‘at, like ‘e always do when ‘e’s a readin’ the lay ‘o the land before a raid.

“Don’t look like no thin’s happenin’.  No broken glass or nuttin’,” Brady drawled from the back seat, pickin’ flesh stuck onta the nails drilled inta ‘is bat ‘n droppin’ ‘em onta the floor.

“Dang it, Brady, ‘ow many times do I have ta tell ya, don’t pick at yer soddin’ bat in the van!” I shouted back at ‘im.  ‘E shruged ‘n kept pickin’.

Poor Nom was ‘unched next ta Brady, doin’ the breathin’ exercises the doc told ‘im ta do before a job.  Somethin’ ‘bout visualizin’ ta keep ‘is nerves together.

“Let’s bag us some zom-bys, boys!” I hollered ‘n kicked me door open.  Jake ‘n Brady whooped in agreement as they piled out ‘o the van.  Nom, ‘is cheeks still puffin’ in ‘n out, fell in behind.

When we got up all the stairs, Brady rang the doorbell with ‘is bat.  Nom began a twitchin’ again, ‘is knuckles white from clutchin’ the bait bag ‘n ‘is watery eyes bulgin’ out like saucers.  Jake gave ‘im a little slap ‘round the ‘ead to calm ‘im down.  Works most o’ the time.  It managed ta calm down a notch as a starch ‘n pressed butler answered the door.

“You must be the exterminators,” ‘e said, steppin’ back ta let us in.  “The master is waiting for you in his study.  If you’ll follow me?”

“Don’t mind if I do,” Brady said, pushin’ ahead o’ Jake and Nom. ‘E was lookin’ at all the fanciness ‘long the walls in a way that made me weary.  Brady’s a simpilton, but ‘e has an eye for fine thin’s.  ‘E’s tried to lift thin’s on other jobs and I didn’t want no trouble.

We were led all the way to the back o’ the house ‘n inta a ‘uge room full o’ books where this thin ol’ man sat behind a ‘umongous desk. ‘E introduced ‘imself as Mr. Montague ‘n got right ta business.

“Mr. O’Mally, what I have is a…unique situation.”

“Well, whatever it is, we can ‘andle it,” I assured ‘im.  “O’Mally’s Exterminators been dealin’ with unique situations for over two ‘undred years now.”

‘E smiled, “I assure you, sir, this is a situation like none you’ve ever faced.”  Before Jake could open ‘is mouth ta cuss ‘im out, ‘e added, “However, two hundred years of experience is nothing to sneeze at and you are the best in the area.  All I need from you, sir, is to promise that you won’t be spreading any rumors about what you see here.”

I looked at me team, getting’ nods from Jake ‘n Nom.  I ‘ad to give Brady the ol’ stink eye before ‘e shrugged ‘n mumble, “Whatever, man.”

“You ‘as our word,” I said ‘n shook ol’ Mr. Montague’s ‘and.

“Excellent,” ‘e said.  “If you would sign this, Mr. O’Mally?  Then I’ll have James show you and your men downstairs to the underground vault.”

Brady perked up at the mention o’ “the underground vault.”  I saw Jake give ‘im a nudge with ‘is machete out o’ the corner o’ me eye as I signed the papers.  Nom, on the other ‘and, started a twitchin’ at the phrase.
 “Basements.  Why’s it always basements?” ‘e muttered as ‘e rummaged round ‘is pack for ‘is night goggles.  ‘E’d like a ‘ead lamp, but it’d attract the zom-bays like moths t’a flame – not very sneaky like.

With the papers signed, James opened a panel in the study wall ‘n gestured for us ta follow ‘im.  ‘E led us inta a narrow ‘all that ran all along the ‘ouse walls ‘n down twisted staircases.  We were pretty deep inta the ground I reckoned from the cold damp air, when Nom whispered, “W-w-what’s that s-s-s-smell?”

I ‘ad been ignorin’ the smell, figurin’ it was normal.  T’was somat like a dumpster ‘ad been soaked ‘n pool water then left out ta dry on a ‘ot ‘n ‘umid day.  It didn’t stink like zom-bays – they ‘ave a rotty, moldy smell ta ‘em.

“That would be the beast,” James said, stoppin’ short o’ a vault door nearly twice ‘is size.  ‘E ‘ad to turn the combination lock with both ‘ands ‘n even then ‘e struggled.  There was a “click” ‘n the door creaked open.

“Well, gentlemen, I’ll leave you to your work.  Press this bell,” ‘e pointed to a button next ta the door, “when you are finished.  Good luck.”  With that, he walked back the way we’d come.

I unloaded Mr. T from me back ‘n pulled back on the safety ta charge ‘im up.  Jake already ‘ad his macheties out, ‘is ‘at tipped back.  Nom fumbled with ‘is plastic bags o’ chicken livers ‘n sheep brains, tryin’ ta guess what these zom-bay might like.

“Let’s get this par-tay started!” Brady roared, reachin’ out ‘n pulling the vault door wide open, ‘is bat slung over ‘is shoulder.

I couldn’t believe me eyes.  None of us could.  There, asleep on top o’ pile of golden treasures (impressive on its own) was the biggest Beastie of ‘em all: a rottin’ zom-bay dragon.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Closed for the Holiday

There will be no flash fiction from me this week.  I was really pushing myself to get something posted this week but in the end I don't feel like what I've written is ready for any of you fine people to read it.  I got a little too carried away with voice to the point where I'm having a hard time understanding my own characters (who are hilarious, btw; but I could just be bias) when they speak.  Also, I've been running around getting ready to go to NY to visit my grandparents for the long weekend (it's Memorial Day Monday for those who may not be from the US). 

*Sigh* it'll just have to wait for next week.  I was really excited too, because mariblaser and I were going to do two different stories based on a wicked awesome theme.  Stop by next week to see what it is!  It's likely both our stories will be serialized (mine in 2 parts) so hope you will like it!


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Marie & George: Putting Out Fires

When Marie got home from work Thursday, there were scorch marks on the couch.  They were so fresh they were still smoking.  It was the third time that week and Marie wasn’t sure she had another box of baking soda in the pantry.  She felt a distinct snap somewhere in her chest.  That was it.


At the far end of the smoldering couch, Marie could see George’s snout poking out, smoke curling from his budding nostrils.  He still thought he was tiny and could fit behind the couch the way he use to.  He always forgot to account for his elongated snout.

“Get your spiny little dragon butt over here RIGHT now!” Marie demanded, pointing to the patch of rug by her feet.

The nostrils quivered; he had been spotted!  George tried to shimmy back further behind the couch, but it was a tight fit that was only becoming tighter.  At this rate Marie would have to come pull him out and George didn’t want that.  He didn’t like her face when she had to fish him out of trouble.  It was scary.

Gingerly, he wiggled forward, first pulling his shoulders out from the narrow space between the back of the couch and the wall followed by his long torso and narrower hips.  His tail came last, but it was a long, thin whip of a tail, so he had no trouble with it.  Once he was free, he shook out his disproportionately small wings that perched on the middle of his back right behind his shoulders.  He couldn’t fly very high, but high enough to get into trouble without intention.  With his head hung low, he waddled up to Marie and stopped precisely where she pointed.

“What have we discussed about setting furniture on fire?  A burning couch can lead to a burning house.  A burning house is bad,” she emphasized the word “bad,” though she probably didn’t need to.  To everyone’s surprise, George displayed an almost uncanny ability to understand human speech.  Therefore, Marie often talked to him as if he was Tommy.

Marie sighed, squatting down.  George looked up, hopefully; the base of his right wing was starting to itch.  But Marie wasn’t done.

“Look, I know being indoors all the time is hard on you, but soon enough the village idiots will see that you need space and Bill and Tommy will be able to finish the kennel for you.  So be good, okay?  No more burning things inside the house.”

George nodded to show he understood.  Marie knew it was very likely she would come home to another piece of charred furniture, but she’d let the issue slide for now.  She was ultimately more upset with the Department of Building and Zoning (referred to as “the village idiots” in the Finnegan household) than she was with George.  Soon after Bill had started building George’s kennel, an inspector had shown up to inform them that they couldn’t build a kennel for a dragon because it would be too close to their property line and put their neighbor’s houses at risk.  Marie and Bill were currently going back and forth with the town about building the kennel, so until then George was stick inside and confined to his fenced, ceramic tiled closet and asbestos lined doggy bed.  Not that he didn’t escape on a regular basis.

George wiggled his itchy wing, inviting Marie to scratch him.  She did so with her fingernails, causing George to hum happily.  His lidded eyes half closed, he curved into the scratch.  Marie couldn’t help but smile.  George always showed his appreciation when given attention.

The back door slammed open, followed by rushing footsteps and, “GEORGE!  MOMMY! I’M HOME!”

Marie stopped scratching and George started, as if awakened from a blissful dream.  He was instantly alert.  His tail wagged, snapping like a sail in the wind at every turn, and his short lizard tongue lolled between his jagged teeth.  His favorite playmate was home!

Tommy came rushing in, his backpack half off and shoes still on, and he threw himself at George.  George returned his enthusiasm by leaping into Tommy’s lap, his wings outstreatched as far as they would go.

“Tommy, shoes!” Bill called from the door.  Marie could hear him hopping to take his own shoes off and shut the door at the same time.

“I’m going outside with George!” Tommy called back.  “We can go, right, Mommy?” Tommy asked Marie, both his and George’s eyes pleading.

Marie smiled and nodded, “Just be back in for dinner in an hour.”

“Alright!” Tommy shouted, dropping his backpack on the living room floor and making a dash for the sliding glass door that lead to the backyard.  George bounded after him, gliding a foot or so off the ground with every leap.

Marie didn’t bother calling after Tommy about leaving his backpack on the floor.  There was no point.  Instead, she picked it up and went to check the pantry for baking powder.

[*Bill had named the dragon – a boy as far as they could tell - in the end.  Originally, Tommy had wanted to name him Sammy or Max as if he was a dog.  But then Bill told him the story of St. George and the Dragon and Tommy changed his mind.

“His name will be George,” he decided, stroking the humming dragon – now named George.  “Our George is much smaller than the dragon in the story.  I think St. George would have liked him,” he reasoned.]

 Hope you enjoyed this week's vignette from Marie & George.  For the first adventure, please read Marie & George: The beginning.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Marie & George: The Beginning

Marie didn’t object when her son brought home what he claimed was a dragon egg.

“That’s nice, sweetie.  Now go wash your hands.  Dinner will be in a few minutes,” was all she had said, patting Tommy on the head and sending him on his way with his egg shaped rock in tow.

It wasn’t until a week later, when the waft of lighting fluid and charcoal greeted her as she walked into the kitchen with a load of groceries, that she gave Tommy’s “dragon egg” a second thought.

Tommy was out on the porch squeezing a second bottle of lighting fluid onto the grill (the first lay discarded at his feet) with eager gusto.  Sitting on the grates was his “dragon egg,” its dark surface splattered with the flammable substance.

“Thomas Cassidy Finnegan!  What in the world do you think you are doing?!”

Tommy shook the bottle to get every last drop of fluid from the bottle before he looked up. “Oh, hi, Mommy,” he said and then reached for a third bottle of lighting fluid.

“Give me that!” his mother snatched the bottle away from him.  “Are you trying to set the house on fire?!”  She was livid.  In all her years as a mother, almost eight now, she had never been so angry or scared for Tommy’s safety.

“No, I’m going to hatch my egg,” he said calmly, like he was talking to a younger child who just couldn’t understand the simple facts of life, let alone dragon husbandry, yet.

“Why do you need the grill?”

“My book on dragons says that the egg won’t hatch unless its mother breaths fire on it, so I’m gonna set it on fire.  Our grill will be its surrogate mother!” Tommy was very proud of himself for knowing the word “surrogate.”  Between knowing a very big word and hatching his first dragon egg, he felt very grown up.

Marie sighed.  She’d been having a hard week at work and her son trying to light a rock on fire was the last thing she needed.  She hoped there was enough Tylenol in the house to alleviate the throbbing headache forming behind her temples.  At this point, Marie would say anything to get Tommy to end his harebrained plan.  “That’s fine, sweetie, but can’t this wait until Daddy gets home?”

“Good idea!  Daddy will love this!” he exclaimed, dropping the empty bottle of lighting fluid before running into the house.

“Hey!  What do we do with empty bottles?!” Marie called after him, but he was already gone.  Heaving another sigh, Marie stooped over to pick up the empty bottle and headed into the house herself.

When Bill got home, she pulled him aside and told him about Tommy’s “dragon egg” rock he’d found at school a week ago and his scheme to hatch it using their grill.  To her horror, her husband just smiled and said, “What’s the harm in letting him try, Marie?  If it’s a rock, nothing’s going to happen.  It’ll just char.”

She frowned, “You say that like there’s a chance it isn’t a rock.”

He shrugged nonchalantly, but there was a brightness to his eyes. “Who knows?”

“Alright, alright,” she gave in.  “So long as you supervise him.  I want nothing to do with this.” And with that, Marie went to heat up the freezer to oven lasagna she kept for those nights when she couldn’t do more than turn on the oven and set the table.

That evening, Marie watched Tommy and Bill flit around the grill, excitedly watching the rock and feeding the flames that now licked its surface.  Marie was certain she was just imagining that the rock’s surface had changed from flinty gray to shiny obsidian.  The boys covered the grill overnight, letting the dragon egg sit in the smoldering coals.

 *  *  *


Marie jerked awake.  The house was on fire.  She knew it.

“Marie!  You have to come see this!”

That was Bill.  He sounded more excited than alarmed.  Grumbling, Marie grabbed her bathrobe and shuffled downstairs to see what all the excitement was about.

Bill and Tommy were outside, hovering over the grill, giggling like giddy school girls.  Marie was about to give them a piece of her mind for waking her so suddenly over a charred rock until she saw what sat in the grill.  Her jaw dropped.

On the ashy remnants of charcoal and lighter fluid sat the rock, chipped open at the top and then split like a chicken egg.  But instead of a chicken a small, spindly dragon sat in the egg.  It was a dark, reddish brown, its spine lined with spiked scales.  It blinked at her and then coughed, emitting a puff of sulfury smoke.

“Can we keep it?” Tommy asked, his ash smeared face bright.  The dragon purred as Tommy stroked its nose.

“I need to sit down,” Marie said, plopping into the nearest plastic chair.

“reeeaaa,” screeched the dragon.  Then it settled down in the warm ash for a quick nap.

edit: I changed the name of this story from Marie's Dragon to Marie & George: The Beginning because I hope to write at least one other flash fiction based on this family and their unusual pet.  In case you haven't figured it out, George is what the dragon will eventually be named.  More details on that to come!

Marie and George (c) Lena S. 5/15/10

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Battle of Lexington

 This is for my hometown.

The stomping of many feet woke Benjamin Smith with a start.  With one eye open, he let his head rise up just enough so he could peer above the cool ground that was his soul’s final resting place.  Promptly, someone stepped on and through his ghostly head.  Now fully awake, he rose quickly and saw that his assailants were Colonials dressed in full militia gear, their muskets raised as they advanced in line up the gentle hills of what is now knows as Tower Park.

It was that time of year again.  A cool breeze damp with drizzle swept through him.  If he closed his eyes, he almost felt like he was back in his body on the day he died.  While it was a day he never would relish, it was the only time he could remember feeling truly alive.  He opened his eyes again, to remind himself of his reality.  He was not alive and time had marched on without him.  The only way anyone remembered the day that he still felt deep within his bones, though his true bones had decayed some two hundred years ago, was through these silly “reenactments.” He had heard the term some dozen years ago and it had stayed with him.  With nothing else to do, Benjamin followed the motley line of colonial minutemen, muttering quietly to himself all the way.

“Is their commander not blind?  Two of his men are one step behind while another is two steps ahead.  And you , sir, stop thy jabbering and pay attention!   You do the Colonies a disservice!” He scolded the minuteman who had stopped to chat with another colonial soldier who lay on the ground playing dead.

Benjamin’s line stopped abruptly, positioning to shot at the line of Regulars in front of them who were poised to do the same.  Benjamin swept in front of them, adjusting the position of each musket with his light touch to insure their musket balls shot true.  It wasn’t until they fired a volley right through him that he remembered that soldiers no longer used musket balls, just gunpowder.

“A waste of gunpowder,” he complained to the commander.  But the commander did not hear him and continued to issue orders that Benjamin thought poor.

His patience running thin, he turned away from the minute men and their inane “battle” and floated up towards the crowd that watched them as if they were a spectacle in some traveling show.  He frowned deeply at them and their brightly colored coats made of some slick material he couldn’t name.  His frown deepened further when he saw several farmers’ wives standing at the edge of the battle in their warm woolen cloaks and thin cotton skirts.  They should have been tending to the wounded – even if the wounded were only pretending to be so.  Instead, they chatted with bystanders, pointing at the battle as if they understood the proceedings.   As far as Benjamin was concerned, women never understood war and therefore should not be discussing it.

The crowd stood silent, almost as if bored, which infuriated Benjamin even more.  A revolution was not meant to be taken mildly, like one would take their morning meal.  It was meant to be riveting; both frightening and exciting at the same time.  A revolution was meant to bring change!  The Revolutionary War was fought to bring freedom!  Did these people standing here like they were watching cattle being herded – which they nearly were – understand that?  If they did, why were they not excited by it?  Why didn’t they pick up arms and join in the fray?!

“Dad!  Hey, Dad!” a boy’s voice doused Benjamin’s internal fervor like a bucket of iced water.  He looked down to see he was hovering next to a young boy, no older than ten.  He recognized the expression on the boy’s face: it was reverence.

“Dad!” he said again, louder.  He earned himself several glares from other on lookers.

“Yeah, Ben?” a man answered, startling Benjamin.  He thought for a moment the man was addressing him.  Instead, the man was looking down at his young son.  Benjamin though of his own son for a moment, but quickly pushed those painful memories away.

“The minute men were heroes, weren’t they?” It was a statement, but one looking for confirmation.

His father smiled.  “They were, Ben.  They were the first heroes of the United States.  Don’t forget that.”

“I won’t,” Ben said quietly, turning his attention back to the battle.

For several minutes Benjamin forgot about the mock battle behind him and observed Ben.  Watching his expressions change, both excited and respectful, Benjamin felt his mood soften.

“Well, mayhap there are worse ways to be remembered,” he said to himself, smiling a little.

And with that, he drifted up to sit on a nearby umbrella where he watched the rest of the reenactment without complaint.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Bonus: Taxi Cab

Something I wrote ages ago based on a prompt.  Enjoy!

“You don’t have to go just yet.” I said. Damn, did that sound to needy?
She laughed, “No, I don’t, but I should.  I have a meeting first thing tomorrow.  What? It’s not like you won’t see me tomorrow anyway.”
“I know, it’s just…” I want you to stay.
“Besides, where would I sleep?  On the couch?”
“We could build a couch fort,” I replied, hopeful.
She shook her head, smiling, “No, I really can’t.  Nice try, though.”
The cab chose then to arrive.  Stupid cab.
“Well,” she hugged me, “Thanks for dinner.  It was great.” She kissed my cheek.
I hesitated a moment, standing on the edge between decision and indecision.  She opened the cab door.
She paused, one foot in the cab, and turned to look at me.  God, I love the way her hair just sweeps her shoulders.
“I…Goodnight, Grace.”
“Goodnight, John,” she smiled, her lips curving into cupid’s bow, and slid into the cab.  I closed the door for her. 
As the cab pulled away from the curb, I waved and smiled like the idiot I was.

Friday, April 30, 2010

The Trouble with Mermaids

"Are all merpeople as conceited as you?"  Miriam demanded.
"They only wish they were," Thalassa replied, checking her reflection again in the small compact mirror she made Miriam go out and purchase for her.  She rubbed her teeth with her forefinger and flashed herself a smile.  Unsatisfied with the result, she vigorously rubbed her teeth again.  She grimaced with effort.
Miriam rolled her eyes.  Not once, in all her twenty-four years, had she ever cared about her looks.  Her untamed locks and mismatched socks were a testament to that.  Since becoming Thalassa's caretaker, she had become more and more grateful for her lack of fashion sense.  The way Thalassa went about her beauty routine made keeping up appearances look like too much work.
"There, that's more like it!" Thalassa exclaimed, finally satisfied that her pearl teeth shone.  Then her face scrunched up again as she noticed her sea weed top.  "Does this brown look dull to you?  I think it does nothing for my complexion."
“It’s fine, Thalassa.  Please, can we go now?  I’m late for work and my boss has all ready made it clear he’s that close to firing me,” she held her forefinger and thumb so close together, the ratty edges of her chewed off finger tips almost touched.
“All right, all right!  Who put squid ink in your fish flakes this morning?” She propped the compact mirror onto her lap and quickly pinched her cheeks, smoothed her hair and checked her teeth again before snapping the mirror shut.  “There.  I’m ready.”
“Finally!” Miriam snatched the compact from Thalassa before she could find something else to fix and ran to grab her purse.  She remembered that someone had once said that finding a mermaid was good luck.  Whoever it was, Miriam wanted to sit them down and give them a firm talking to.  Or hand Thalassa over to them and see how lucky they felt after a few days with her.
When she returned to the bathroom, Thalassa had all ready hoisted herself out of the bathtub.  She had managed to balance herself in a standing position, so as to lean on Miriams’s pedestal sink and use the bathroom mirror.
“You know, these light bulbs totally mess up colors.  You really should replace them with white, non-florescent bulbs.
“Nit pick at my light bulbs later!  Where do you even learn these things, anyway?”
“Beauty Magazine, obviously.”
“How do you get,” Miriam glanced at her watch.  It was 9:00.  She was dead to her boss.  “Ach, whatever!  Let’s go!” Miriam shouted, throwing up her hands in frustration.
“Okay, okay.  Jeeze, what is it with humans and needing to be places?” Thalassa asked, rolling her eyes.  Gripping the sink with one hand, she lowered herself until the other hand was an inch away from the tiled floor.  Miriam marveled at how graceless Thalassa was without water to support her.
Thalassa glared up at Miriam’s amused expression as she lay on the floor like a seal.
“Stop smiling at me like that.  I’d like to see you get around dry land with no legs.”
“After you, my lady,” Miriam swept a bow as she stepped out of Thalassa’s way, still smirking.
With her head held high and her nose even higher, Thalassa waddled out of the bathroom with all the dignity she could muster.

An Awkward Intro

Hi.  A few minutes ago I learned about #fridayflash.  I wanted in.  Friday is halfway though, so I threw this blog together, title and all.  Now I need something to write about.