2023 has been a blur of a year. I have been on shift work for nearly half of it, devoting half of each shift day to work, to the splitting of atoms, to the grasping adherence of exacting standards. I have pushed people to hold to discipline and to hardship because terrible technologies do not forgive the erring ways of humanity. I have spent very little time writing and very little time looking at this site, and despite my time away, nothing has changed. Each and every time I looked at this undisturbed digital pond, it had no ripples. I have written to the ether, to the silence. This work reaches no audience.
Language is a meaningless amalgamation of symbols and throaty undulations when it fails to reach a receiver capable of understanding what those symbols and sounds do mean. Without another person to hear and see, the sayings and writings of any person are without meaning.
I write in spite of myself, and I hold this website solely as an inventory of those stories I have written. It holds meaning so long as I alone live, but not one day longer.
I write to myself and to silence. Simply the way it has always been.
Here’s a little story I enjoyed writing, a fable by the name of “Semuul and Clycestra”. The idea came to me as I was falling asleep, when I had the image of a giant bird snatching a person who was plummeting in the sky. I crawled out of bed to write a paraphrased version of it, and here is the final cut: Semuul and Clycestra
Very pleased to announce that my short story, “Planet H-13” is published in this October’s issue of Five on the Fifth and is available at the following link: “Planet H-13”.
This story is a piece of a larger idea I’ve been working on, which I hope to get other parts/pieces published to let the short stories and flash fictions interweave to set the stage for the big picture. We’ll see. Please take the time to read and enjoy.
Not sure what’s going on with the website, been working on it, but I haven’t been able to update the Flash Fiction menu for two new additions. I’ll fix it when I can, but in the meantime, two new flash fictions published.
One, “A Bacterium’s Life” on 365tomorrows.com (linky link here). I wondered what the perspective would be of bacteria gone sentient. Never mind that it’s impossible.
I’ll be honest – I have zero memory of what inspired/prompted/fed into the idea for the newest short story posted here. I don’t. I can say it was influenced by an episode of Ash vs the Evil Dead, a blurred mental mosaic of middle-aged detective stereotypes from the 80’s, and probably having a hard time falling asleep. From some seed of sleeplessness came this fiasco, or, shall I say, fandango? So what’s it about? Flying, irrational beings and two to three parts murder. I had fun writing it, so I hope you have fun reading it. If you don’t – hey, at least it was free.
“There Is No Reasoning With Fairies”, link to the right, or link to it right here.
[Fun fact: Titles always come last with me. Stumped with this one, eventually I landed on “Killer Fairies From Inner Space” and thought, man, that’s a slick, slick title. Took a few weeks before I realized why it sounded sorta familiar. And so, not to impose on the classic Killer Clowns From Outer Space, I changed it, because I can’t afford to screw stuff like that up.]
I had a train of thought develop on the way home from work, another variation on the “world-ending collision” theme. I tried addressing how our perception of time skews the way we see events taking shape in the universe in an unpublished flash fic, “The Secret is Perception”. I think there is more tweaking to do to it to really draw out what I was trying to communicate. In any case, I exorcised the theme temporarily while considering the possibility that maybe what seems like a random, chartable cosmic phenomenon is some much more patient intelligence’s idea. “On Time and Intent” is now available at 365tomorrows.com. Enjoy.
Depending on who’s publishing, a “flash fiction” can be any story that’s less than 600 words, or less than 1,000, or less than 1,200 words. I’ll say this. Tonight, May 26th, I’ll be inconsistent. Every flash fiction I’ve done to date has been shared on this site via a post. For stories >1,000 words, I’ve made separate pages with an associated post to just say, here it is.
Scrolling down, I don’t like having flash fictions embedded as full-fledged posts. There’s a side menu to ease navigation, and if you want to read something random in the feed, great, and I don’t think you should have to hurdle nearly-thousand-word pieces just to satisfy your curiosity.
Not that I’m convinced there’s a lot of people curious out there to be honest. If this site is nothing more than a silent mausoleum of my imagination, then at least when I’ve forgotten it all, I’ll be able to return here.
In any case,Schrift’s Tunnel of Love is now up. Just shy of 1,000 words, I feel it’s a Twilight Zone-style piece. Hope you enjoy, wherever you are.
Not a whole lot to say with regards to this story. I had an image in my head, probably very much inspired by the cover art to Muse’s Absolution album. I thought of spirits flying away. At the same time, I was listening to an audiobook, which one exactly I don’t remember right now. It could have been Brian Greene’s The Hidden Reality or the Great Courses lecture Mysteries of Modern Physics: Time by Sean Carroll. Side note, I find it much easier to pay attention to what I’m reading if I narrate it in my head using Sean Carroll’s tenor and articulation. Very handy. Also, he’s written some very extremely interesting things, but I’m getting off track. The point is, I was considering how the Earth is in a constant orbit around the sun, which is constantly orbiting the Milky Way, which is in its own motion. Now, if something, anything, leaving Earth were to have nothing attaching it to the planet and no means to self-propel, it would be left behind. What if we were continuously leaving something behind? What if the reason no scientist, no energy detector of any sort can find the spirits of the departed that people are wont to believe? What if the reason is simply that gravity has no effect on the deceased?
The thought came with its own peculiar terror, but that’s not what I dwelled on. I tried to exorcise it through type, and thus we have “That the Stars Do Shine“.
Note: This story was originally inspired by my dog, Gunner, who developed a type of oral cancer that developed into a tumor which loosened his teeth, made his tongue swell, and otherwise ruined his health. Unlike this story, we had no supreme technology to beat it. Wished we did, but I can’t regret knowing his suffering is over. Included, a picture of him from his better years.
“What to Do With One’s Best Friend”
By Brian C. Mahon
Microfiber pores puff lavender plumes as I flop into the chaise lounge’s cozy arms. I love the scent of lavender. It is such a good idea that she scents her furniture.
“So, where would you like to start?” Amy asks, clicking her pen. According to her office door, she is Dr. Amy Hegel, PhD, but she was fine with Amy.
“Truth be told,” I begin, “Nothing is the same. I know sometimes that’s for the best, but for me, and Jarred I guess, it isn’t. I mean, I’m glad we did it, don’t get me wrong. We just weren’t ready for the changes.”
“Some changes take us away from where we are comfortable, and it’s natural to be bothered more by changes that are forced on you. Can you tell me more about what happened between you two?”
“Well, his disease was so abrupt and so… well, it was all we could think about. Taking care of him became our life. We thought maybe he ate something in the backyard, a dead animal, a plant, something rotten. At first his drooling didn’t stop. Then his face got bigger. Then we found a tumor growing under his teeth, like pushing them out of his gums, and the poor guy couldn’t keep his tongue in his mouth anymore. He got really lethargic. You could see how miserable he was, but he was still the same, still our dog.”
Amy mm-hmm’s toward the corner.
“So, I mean we called the vet, y’know, one of the corporately sponsored ones with the proprietary nano-medicines. We weren’t going to just pretend some outdated chemical treatment would be at all as effective as nanos. I mean, if we’re paying thousands on treatment, why not go nano, right?”
“Right, of course.”
“As soon as treatment started, like by the second day, the swelling went down, his gums were a healthy pink again, and he could keep his tongue back in his mouth. But just as he got healthy, he started behaving differently. We thought it was a side effect of the new nano-blend we signed for or maybe the emotional shock of being that sick. I mean being that sick, close to death? That’s just as mentally scarring to dogs as for people. We’re all mammals after all.”
“I agree. Studies have shown anim- other mammals are just as emotional as humans. What happened after that?”
“Probably, oh, last month? Sometime last month, how much he changed really sank in. Bowie refused to sit on the couch with me. Even when I offered him treats or put his doggie bed next to me. What really did it was when Doggid Bowie looked me in the eye and said,
‘It’s over, Katlyn. These conditions are disgraceful. For one, it’s insufferable that I only relieve myself when you allow it, and, two, didn’t you consider just once, Kat, that maybe feeding me the same processed food for every meal might have led to my condition? Did you think that was healthy? You nearly sent me to the grave!’ Something like that. I think that’s pretty word for word.”
“That must have been quite a surprise for you.”
“Surprising and hurtful! He used such a hurtful tone! I didn’t know what to say, so I called him a bad dog and kenneled him for the rest of the night. All night long he kept yelling about ‘misguided homocentric ideologies’ and how ‘lack of common communication is not tantamount to inferiority’. His words, not mine.”
“Wow. It sounds like he made you really upset.”
“He did. I went to bed early that night just to get away from him. Jarred was still at work. The next morning I told Jarred I’d take Bowie to a corporate shelter because they knew how to handle bad nanos, and, like, his constant comparing of people to other primates was really getting to my self-esteem.”
“That’s understandable. There are both constructive and deconstructive ways to share how we feel, and the way we choose our words and tone can determine how our feedback and our perspective is perceived,” Amy quietly says to the corner.
“Yeah, I just had it, y’know, and I think Bowie heard me talking with Jarred. Bowie was so quiet in the car, and we were halfway there when I realized, like, he is still my dog, y’know? So, I turned into the first parking lot I could, and we talked through things, agreed to a few things. He sits in my lap in the evenings now when Jarred’s at work, and I make sure there’s a third plate at the dinner table. He pees in the tub whenever he needs as long as he rinses it down, and I think that’s fair.”
“Has the change in dynamics between you two been helpful for your relationship?”
“It’s been okay so far, but he tenses up every time I touch his fur.” I look over my shoulder and back to Amy, mumbling, “It’s not the same.”
“Thank you for sharing, Katlyn. Mr. Bowie, how do you feel?”
Doggid Bowie complained during the whole car ride here of speciesism. I see him on the corner cushion roll his eyes and mutter, “Woof.”
“Is that really what you want to say?” Amy asks, tapping her pen against her clipboard.
“Bark. Bark bark. Ruff.”
“That isn’t very helpful, Mr. Bowie.”
“I want her to take it back!” He huffs, sitting up.
“Take what back, Mr. Bowie?” Amy looks at me, like I know what he means.
“Tell her that caring about my quality of life does not make me a villain!”
“Katlyn? Do you understand why he’s upset?”
I do. I knew it when I kenneled him that one night, the way he walked in with his tail between his legs. “I’m sorry, Bowie. I didn’t mean it. You are my good boy, forever and ever.”
His nose raises to the air with a huff, but his tail sweep says it’s what he wanted all along.
Long distance night driving on an empty road can cause the mind to wander. Sometimes when the only company you have are the lane dividers passing under the reflection of headlights, the best you got for entertainment is music and imagination. Listening to Sponge’s “Giants” (Rotting Pinata album), a cinematic montage would come to mind during the chorus. Scenes of giants falling, killed by one means or another, and in my mind, I saw it playing out in backgrounds of different colors, places, tones. And I would think, imagine if it wasn’t all just killing “monsters” per se. It’s been in my head a while, and I decided to exorcise it by print. “How Dangerous We May Be”, a short story of giants falling down. Down, down, yeah yeah yeah. And not all of them happen to be monsters, per se.
Hope you enjoy, and if you do, spread the word, leave a like. A little encouragement goes a long way. Link is below and in the short list to the right.