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25 Aug. 2011

« Moderator’s Pick

l One Response

784  (July 2014)

The Contactors – One Answer to the Fermi Paradox

People wonder: If there’s alien life, why have we never heard from them?  Maybe there’s a good reason. 

2 pages

945 words

5.8 Flesch-Kincaid

Jennifer 'laieanna' Brown

Southwest Michigan

18 June 2009

ll Two Responses

1065 (July 2014)

The Veteran

On a bench, staring into space, sat a veteran of the psychic wars – at least that’s what his uniform claimed.  Austin said that there had never been such a thing, but I wondered…   

2¼ pages

1367 words

4.2 Flesch-Kincaid

Johan Jartelius

Stockholm, Sweden

Thomas Buchanan

Cardiff? Liverpool?

Gwenivere Stephan


Mar. 2006

l One Response

1256 (July 2014)


My 1st story to break 1000 views

The Butcher of Del Mar Rae

A war criminal or a desperate hero?  The interview or interrogation, whichever one preferred to call it, would tell. 

4 ½ pages

1331 words

4.2 Flesch-Kincaid

Scott Ryan Schmidt

Columbia College, Missouri

13 Sept. 2011

l One Response

614 (July 2014)

Pretty Quiet around Here

Something peculiar was going on around the mountain farm he was trying to buy.  People were afraid – but why? 

2¾ pages

1849 words

4.1 Flesch-Kincaid

Patricia M. D´Angelo



876 (July 2014)

The End of the Journey

Even if any residents of Rookers had been out before breakfast in the cold clear air of the mountain heights, it is doubtful they would have seen the Flier.  He held his distance as he examined their city, holding onto the aluminum bars of his manglider with thick, furred mittens.  The rattling and flapping of the glider was loud enough to him, even through his thick leather helmet, also fur-lined, but he knew it would be inaudible below.  He scrutinized the city through goggles, which kept his tears from freezing on his eyes.  He had a mission here. 

2½ pages

1154 words

5.7 Flesch-Kincaid

No comments yet

16 June 2011

596 (July 2014)

Descending the Ladder

A probe from Earth brought our culture.  It helped a distant race overcome the problems of an extremely difficult climate.  But can culture be transplanted?  What would long-term effects would our culture have on an entirely non-human civilization?

3¼ pages

2182 words

5.1 Flesch-Kincaid

No comments yet

31 July 2011

571 (July 2014)

Five Years is Almost Forever

Five years after she had run out on him, she was standing on his porch.  He thought he would never see her again.  Maybe he shouldn’t have.  He knew he couldn't let her in...  knew he must not. 

3 pages

1175 words

2.6 Flesch-Kincaid

No comments yet

9 Sept. 2011

l One Response

548 views (July 2014)

In a Rustwreck

He left the security of the Abbey, an enclave of enormous and highly intelligent beings.  Now he lived with the streetlings.  As long as none of them knew where he had come from, he could be part of the crew, but if they ever found out…

6 pages

2900 words

5.1 Flesch-Kincaid

Patricia M. D´Angelo


30 Nov 2012

253 (July 2014)

No Sign of Industrial Activity

Mix a young pilot newly assigned to a remote airfield, an attractive but lonely commander, and a routine surveillance mission.  On a world in which human genes have become mixed with animal, what could go wrong? 


3740 words

5.0 Flesch-Kincaid

No comments yet



1 Oct 2012

246 views (July 2014)

We Don’t Use that Word in this House  

Wilson sighed.    It was too late in the evening for this type of conversation.  Like all adults of the colony, he was acutely aware of his ambassador’s depth of perception.  It would never know what conversations he had in the morning.  He was at liberty to blow off a little steam then.  In the afternoon, it could be dodgy.  He tended to watch what he said.  But in the evening?  Why couldn’t the boy use any sense?  When the ambassador connected to his brain that night, it would know. 



2½ pages

1394 words

5.7 Flesch-Kincaid

No comments yet

28 Dec 2012

206  (July 2014)

Strange Folk

They were strange folk, no doubt.  Still, they seemed good people, willing to share a meal and a roof with a traveler. They had slowed their truck down as they passed him on a dirt road between two farms, way off the highway.  He remembered there had been horses in the field to the left, fenced in with barbed wire strung between ancient posts.  On the right had been a high hedgerow.  His eyes, however, were on the back of the truck where the three daughters, enchantingly beautiful, held out their eager hands to help him aboard. 

2 pages

1494 words

4.3 Flesch-Kincaid




No comments yet

 27 Sept 2012

191 views (July 2014)

After Dark

I’ve never been tactful – just not in my skill set.  Neither was asking for help.  But after I had seen the thing all night and most of the day, out of the corner of my eyes, in dark recesses of unlit rooms, I went to Angelia for help.  I leaned toward her as she washed the dishes, grinning until I had her attention, then said, “Last night Mark and me went out to seek the voices.”

Yeah.  Not cool, not tactful.  And I said it with as straight a face as anything.. 

2½ pgs,

1553 words

 3.3 Flesch-Kincaid




No comments yet

26 February 2014

151 Views  (July 2014)


Morning Departure

When Brentz put on his coat in the morning, he said, “I’d like to think that when I come home tonight, you’ll still be here.” 

“I’ll be here forever and ever,” Fae said, “as long as you never bring anyone home nor ever talk about me outside this house.” 

Brentz momentary forgot that his right arm was moving through his sleeve, searching for the cuff-hole.  He froze.  He knew what her request meant: She was an Intruder, a stowaway, a refugee from their dying homeworld.   

1 page

337 words

5.4 Flesch-Kincaid




No comments yet

7 November 2013

113 Views  (July 2014)

The Spider Arrived on Meerce Street

Sometime in the night or early morning while I slept, Republican forces advanced to Twenty-Eighth Street without my knowledge.  I took a moment to reflect on how odd that was: Had the military advance occurred in the Seventeenth or Eighteenth Century, it would have been made with mounted cavalry followed by foot soldiers, which I still might not have heard, because I was a little drunk; but had it occurred in the Nineteenth or early Twentieth Century, it would have been proclaimed with artillery, and I hadn’t been that drunk; while an advance in the late Twentieth or early Twenty-first Century would have been loudest of all, with explosives dropped from jets followed by columns of tanks, which would have wakened all but the comatose.  Last night’s military advance was the mere electronic reassignment of a robotic kill zone.  Since I had turned off my radio, I had missed the notification.  I slept through it.    

4 pages

2000 words

5.0 Flesch-Kincaid

No comments yet


In the works:



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 Antarctic House

People that come to Antarctica tend to be maladjusts of one sort or another.  Think about it: What type of personality is attracted to the idea of being shut indoors with a small team of people, unable to escape for months at a time? 

Hansel was, of course, an exception.  He was gone now, taken off to Oslo.  The Norwegian team found him sitting comfortably in front of his house, dead and desiccated.  One of them described him as an upright-walking rhinoceros with three-fingered hands, (all of them opposable thumbs), but in spite of this, Hansel was quite unrelated to rhinos, mammals, vertebrates, or even turnips.  He was unquestionably, undeniably alien.  The Oslo Center, which had given him the nickname, had determined that he was not DNA-based.  Neither was his body built up of cells.  Instead, microscopically, his tissues consisted of bundles of sticks.  The investigators believed that the sticks grew at both ends until they broke in the middle, then they sloughed off just as dead skin did.  But this is not about Hansel.  It’s about his house.  Or more correctly, the mystery of his house.  It was cleverly built, but not beyond the skills of a Neolithic human; yet Hansel, clearly capable of interplanetary travel (and more likely interstellar travel), had been living alone in this simple stone house in Antarctica’s Dry Valley.  Why? 





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I know what they did because I jumped a brainjack when I was fifteen.  My own mother did me.  She was planning on leaving my father, and she wanted a clean start, she said, cut all the former strings – a new life, y’know?  I was mad as Hell that she wanted to make me go through all that, but I didn’t let on.  Right then and there I planned to backup my memories on a hard stick and hide it in my schoolwork.  When I accessed the memories after the jack, I got my first memory cracks.  I’ve had leaks ever since. 





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Mayoral Duties

She had been the mayor of that small town year after year, and although she was a career politician, she had done only one corrupt act in her life.  Several years ago, in the autumn, the police had caught a young man cooking crank in a tiny apartment.  She had arranged that he go free.  She had no regard for him – he was a lowlife scumbag.  However, she had to protect the community.  It was a tourist town, and the economy was already bad.  This sort of news could just kill them.  She called one of the sheriff’s deputies to her house late in the evening and arranged that if the young man would take a bus ride to Arizona and not return, they would drop the charges against him.  In the years since, however, she had begun to wonder if that boy had ever made it to the bus station.  Might a sheriff’s deputy – just maybe, could he have made that boy disappear forever? 





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The Scars of the Ordinary

Ordinary people are covered in scars.  From the things we’ve done to ourselves.  That’s normal.  Take Michael for example.  OK, maybe Michael’s an extreme case since he lost an eye, but his scars are nothing beyond normal. 

On one side of his face, it’s clear that both lips had been torn and healed back and not quite right neither.  That was from a fight on the beach.  I was there.  This other guy picked up an old can and did his lip, but Michael did him in the end.  His left brow and temple and cheekbone are covered in ropey, white grow-back stuff from some sliding when his motorcycle went down.  The eye is from when he left the road and slid into the sticks. 

So that’s what I’m saying.  It’s what’s normal.  I myself am missing my left pinky and ring finger, and there’s a chunk above my ear where no hair will ever grow.  The scars on my face are smaller, but people have done stuff to me where it doesn’t show.  It’s normal.  Life’s not like it was back in the twenty-teens or twenty-twenties, when people grew up all nice on some farm or something.  It’s twenty-thirty-six for cripe’s sake. 

That’s what made her weird.  She just didn’t have any scars.  We figured her parents were in some weird cult - Protestants I heard.  When Nina was smaller, they actually made her wear dresses.  Now she’s older, and she still wears them.   She listens to folk music.  I’m telling you, there’s something really wrong here. 





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Findings of the Diomedes Team

“Alanson and I were the last of the Diomedes team after the creatures destroyed the base.  And now Alanson’s dead.  So, no: I have no proof, but the tale I tell is true.”  

“And you no longer have the samples.” 

“No – unfortunately all of the biological samples were lost.  But we did extract them, and Dr. Alanson analyzed them with the equipment he brought.  They were without doubt DNA-based.” 

Several professors in the lecture hall stood and began shouting. 

The chair hammered and hammered. 

Order restored itself quickly.  It was, after all, a room full of scientific drudges. 

“If the samples were DNA-based, that can only mean that they originated from Earth,” Said Dr. Killips, “as no alien life has ever been found that was DNA-based.  Either your team contaminated the samples, or a previous expedition infected the planet.” 

Dr. Wistholm stood.  “That’s impossible –no earlier craft could have reached as far as the Diomedes team!” 

The chair called for order again.  “We will hear your testimony.” 

Khaskovo began.  

“We were sent to drill.  Some professor had gotten the idea that there might be life under the ice.”   





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The Third Wish

We were led to believe that the first two wishes went horribly astray, but that the third wish cured all ills.  Perhaps there was more to that third wish than we knew. 





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“My parents were preppers – took us out to a cabin on the edge of the woods to wait for an economic collapse that never happened.  They got integration instead.  What’s your story?” 

“Amish –my family never had TV or any such thing going back generations.” 

“Hmm – I wonder how many people still human are from the Amish.” 

“Probably a lot.  I mean, everybody else in had their faces cemented to a TV screen or computer monitor, or their ear attached to a cell phone, didn’t they?” 

“Yup – and look what it got them: integrated.” 





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I Know there are White Spirits

I found the first piece of him stuck between the pages of an old book in our high school library. 

I thought at first it was an apple stem, left behind by some careless reader munching years ago, but it was bent, with a little knuckle connecting.  So maybe a twig.  I flicked at it with my fingernail.  It skittered across the book’s paper and onto the desk of the carrel, bounced off the carrel’s back wall.  That’s when I saw the fingers. 





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Metal-faced punks are living in the house of J.R.R. Tolkien. 

Ah, well – maybe punks isn’t’ right: perhaps they’re Goths, emus, hooligans, or whatever.  They tell me I’d know the difference if I read some modern fantasy – kissy-kissy vampires and that stuff.  I won’t.  Vampires should bite.  If the heroine isn’t terrified, trash it.  I mean, I heard he sparkles.  What the F.  He sounds like a fairy.  I’m right about the metal-faced though.  I’ve seen them.  Pieces of metal stuck all over themselves.  That house should be a national treasure and they’ve got a Megadeth poster on the wall of one of the upstairs rooms. 





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I let the horse rest for a while and graze, and in the meantime I had a serious talk that Ball of Light. 





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“She’s got a spell on her.” 

“Everybody’s got a spell on them these days.” 

“Hers is interesting.  Do you want to hear?” 


“Her rival gave her a necklace as a wedding present.  The rival was a Spanish woman, and bitter that she had lost the man that was to become Elizabeth’s husband.” 

“This Elizabeth was a fool to accept it.” 

“Ah, but she did.  And once she put it on, she was under its power.  She cannot take it off, or her husband will die.” 

“I suppose there is a consequence for leaving it on as well?” 

“Of course: As long as she wears it, she will have nightmares every night.”  

“That doesn’t seem so bad.” 

“And sleepwalking.” 

“Still, could be worse.” 

“It is.”



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The Mancart

In the cool hours after a oppressive and sticky August day, hours after the drunks had staggered home but still before the early morning workers trudged off to their daily labor freshly imbibed with coffee, the cart rolled into town.  Although no one saw it with their eyes, there were many witnesses.  An old man lay on his bed and heard it creaking across the pavement.  He and others commented later that the sound kept them mesmerized, staring at their bedroom ceilings.  The old man said afterwards that it struck him that it did not create a single continuous noise, but rather a forward creaking, creaking.  One woman described it as slithering, like an enormous snake moving across paving stones covered lightly with wet sand.  Others thought that went a little too far.  No one heard the sound of hooves, neither of a large animal such as a horse or donkey, nor of a goat.  The cart noises were too large to be a dogcart, so it was agreed upon in the morning that it was a hand cart, or, as some called it, a man cart. 






Three older pieces:




Christopher and November

They had met before.  Would their pasts keep them apart? 

Once, this was the beginning of a novel; now, it’s a moderately long story in six parts. 

The first part, under the title “Chimo”, won Lake Superior State University’s first annual short story writing contest.  The contest was judged by Sue Harrison, New York Times’ best-selling author of Mother Earth, Father Sky. 

25 pages

7,895 words



Grandpa and the Groundhog

On a visit to his backwoods relations, a city boy sees a dog fight a groundhog. 

2 pgs

814 words




A reminisce sparked by missing items

1½ pages

468 words























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