When I was a kid, our television broke. My dad replaced it by reading good books aloud. He cultivated my appetite for stories of adventure and intrigue, of life and love. I now write stories I think he would enjoy, if he were here.
The Goddess and the Minotaur
Water washed across the bow of the Ketch Me If You Can at the bottom of a dark trough. A light sprinkling of rain pattered on the canvas dodger, and a handful of hailstones danced across the deck. The sturdy sailboat rebounded and ascended to the next crest almost faster than she had descended. At the top, Iona Hull cast resolute eyes at the storm clouds that had sprung up to the northwest.
The UN-expected Vault
The UN-expected Vault I screwed my eyes shut and scrutinized the panorama displayed on the backs of my eyelids. An alarmingly stark landscape lay before me. Nothing lay behind me, not even the shambles of what had once been. I approached the single identifiable feature that stood out among the nondescript monochromatic lumps littering the central plain of my imagination. It was a vault, a formidable-looking vault as big as—well, it was big. Warehouse-big.
The Worst Best Christmas Gift
Moira finished stretching and stood, avoiding looking at any of the mirrors placed strategically around Brookfield Feminine Fitness. She didn't want to be reminded of her red, puffy eyes. Adjusting her charcoal and cranberry leotard, she stepped onto the treadmill farthest from the holly-bedecked front window-wall. It took her a moment to blink away tears and focus on the treadmill's panoramic touchscreen. She logged in and connected her Bluetooth earbuds. They only partially blocked out the gym's cheesy, repetitive holiday playlist.
The Death Assignment
Unbroken thunder rolled in the distance as heavy artillery continued to hammer defensive positions across the river in the eastern suburbs. Bethany watched the destruction from her family's fourth floor apartment, flinching with each major concussion. The adolescent brunette caught her dim, moist-eyed reflection gazing back at her as though from the blazing orange sky beyond the window. All of her most-loved places were being destroyed: her school, her favorite park, and the neighborhood just behind it, where her best friend lived. Used to live. Bethany couldn't bring herself to look toward that particular plume, the one that billowed upward from Eastwood Estates.
Scream All You Want
"Nobody can hear a scream in the vacuum of space, or so they say," Major Thomas McPherson sneered at the figure gesturing wildly outside the airlock's operator station window. He waggled his head and continued his monologue. "At the very least, I can't, because I've muted the intercom. But I can watch you scream, and that's very satisfying. Scream all you want, you worthless dreg, you irredeemable excrement, because no one can hear you."
The Recluse Reclaimed
Leonard Weidman's rope-drawn red Radio Flyer wagon squeaked to a stop against his calf. He had interrupted the long walk home across the street from the entrance to the Piney Woods Community Chapel parking lot. Leonard removed a worn camo ball cap with one lean hand and raked the fingers of his other hand through unevenly-cut gray hair. His expression became wistful as he read the chapel's marquee. His eye is on the sparrow. Leonard sighed.