Friday, December 14, 2012

Flash Fiction Challenge #49: The War on Christmas

broken-christmas-lightsSeems like it's been ages since I've participated in a Flash Fiction Challenge, and, actually, it has been a couple of months. I apologize for this. I have noticed that with two children, you have significantly less time on your hands than with just one... Don't get me started on all the business with Christmas! BUT, no excuses! Our Flash Fiction Challenge this week was to write about a literal war ABOUT or AGAINST Christmas. I think I’ve done that, albeit the scope is a little smaller than your typical war. Enjoy.

Jack Vs. Christmas 

“Tens of thousands of dollars in damages were accrued overnight in Greenview Terrace, where one or more parties were involved in destroying holiday decorations displayed on over twenty properties. Sergeant Will Joy was available for comment.”

“Thank you, Dana. We are searching for suspects, likely two or more, as this caliber of damage would have been quite difficult to cause on one’s own. We’ll be patrolling these and neighbouring streets diligently in the days until Christmas, and with any luck, the parties in question will be caught.”

The coffee in Jack’s trembling hand spilled over the lip, but he barely noticed. He was still running on the adrenaline of last night, of killing as much Christmas as he could.

It all started when Leanne asked him to fix the lights on the house that he had grudgingly put up. One strand had burnt out, and being the man of the house, it was his job to fix it. He found the faulty bulb, at hip height along the garage. It was loose, that’s all. She could have fixed it herself. Tighten the bulb, lights come on. Simple.

When he turned away, he slipped on ice and fell backwards into the lights. The bulb in question shattered. Blinding rage seeped into every pore of his body, and suddenly there went the light above it, the light below it. Before he knew it, all bulbs within a three-foot span were nothing more than filaments protruding from green wire, thanks to the broken brick at his feet.

Can’t afford to fix the house, but we can afford hundreds of dollars in lights, huh? Take that, Leanne. No, take THAT, Christmas, you son of a whore!

Each pop, each smash, the feeling of the glass crumbling under his force was pure euphoria. Laughing with elation, he dropped the brick and stumbled into the house.

When he stepped through the door looking like a crazed lunatic off his meds, Leanne asked what was up. He replied that kids had smashed the bulbs. She cried that they should call the police, and why was he laughing? One strand of bulbs cost them forty-dollars! Why in the hell was he laughing?

“Because it’s ironic, isn’t it? Everyone wants Christmas to come so badly every year, and then when it does, they just want it over. Kids even, going as far as trying to smash up Christmas.”

They ate in silence because all the while, he giggled. His eyes flitted to the front window. He couldn’t see his broken lights now in the darkness, but he knew they were there.

And there were so many more lights to take care of.

 

*

 

Two in the morning couldn’t come fast enough, and he found himself snickering as his wife slept. He’d already placed all the black clothes he owned in the hall washroom, ready to dress. The neighbourhood was dark at this time of morning, all but one house down the block, glittering with nauseating Christmas delight. He’d start there. That way, if anyone caught on to his scheme, he’d be closer to home with each house he hit.

Knife and hammer in tow, he was ready for war. A one-on-one battle. Jack vs. Christmas.

Jack was going to win.

Santa beheaded.

Frosty deflated.

Butane and matches meant reindeer blazed, and not metaphorically.

Any bulbs at ground level were smashed. Strings unplugged from their timers, ends of the cords sliced off. Male stubs lying limp in the snow.

He created a center point; five houses in each direction on one side and the other meant twenty houses in total. At that small point, he quietly piled decoration after decoration.

They all went up in flame, an awe-inspiring finale. He dashed down the street, just to the end of the twenty-house row he had chosen, and peered at his handy work. It would do for tonight. Christmas was weakened, and though tomorrow it might rise from the ashes, Jack was prepared to take its legs from under it.

Tonight, he had won.

 

*

 

His coffee spilled over his hand.

The newscaster returned. “Sergeant Joy and fellow officers will be making the rounds today at Sick Kids Hospital to distribute gifts that the citizens of our city have generously donated. The spirit of Christmas will surely be felt in the hearts of children who no doubt have great struggles to face in the near future. I’m Dana Spoke, for Channel 8 news… Oh, and one final message from me, personally. Whoever you are that declared this war on Christmas in Greenview Terrace, you cannot tear this magical holiday and its meaning from the hearts of our children. Busting a few bulbs and burning a few decorations is sending just one message: you are a Scrooge or a Grinch, and it pains you to see others joyful and grateful for what they have at this time of year. I have half a mind to come hunt—”

The newscaster disappeared and the news station logo splashed across the screen.

“Jack?”

He jumped so high that most of his coffee landed on the floor. He spun around to find Leanne holding his black clothes and balaclava in one hand and an empty tin of Butane in the other hand.

“I’m going to ask you just once,” she said with a face lacking emotion.

“A…Ask me what?” It was probably written all over his skin, probably evident from the sober expression that he was guilty. More than guilty.

The kids. It was the kids that would pay for his war on Christmas.

“Are you responsible for what happened last night?”

The sadness in his wife’s eyes, and the deep relief that they had no children of their own to witness such a travesty, was so profound that Jack’s knees buckled. He fell into a chair and more coffee spilled onto his suit leg.

“Yes,” he whispered. “It was me.”

© Lindsay Mawson, 2012

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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Thanksgiving & Black Friday Sale ~ eBooks 50% Off Nov 22-24

 

Thanksgiving & Black Friday Sale


When

November 22-24, 2012

 

Where

Smashwords.com

 

Web Address

http://bit.lu/TRxRXg

 

 

What

50% off LINDSAY MAWSON eBooks in all eBook formats

 

COUPON CODES

Exposing Dallas (UK27M)
The Lothgoliar (YE64A)

Stolen Prey (YE29Z)

 

 

 

Visit lmawson.com for more details on Lindsay Mawson novels.

 

 

 

 

50% OFF eBOOKS

 

 

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Friday, October 5, 2012

Flash Fiction Challenge #48: Five Titles Make a Challenge

dollOur flash fiction challenge this week at Terrible Minds was to either use one of these five titles (below) or to create our own title using words of these titles, but NO EXTRA words.

“The Monkey’s Pageant.”

“Dead-Clock’s Revenge.”

“The Black Lighthouse.”

“Bright Stars Gone To Black.”

“Plastic Dreams & Doll Desires.”

I had started one with the title of Bright Stars Gone to Black but I lost interest so made up my own title called “The Plastic Dead”. I’ve had two colds over the past three weeks, so I’m a little foggy in the head. Hope you enjoy. 

 

The Plastic Dead

 

It was the dragged out, guttural mrowrrr that woke her. It was a sound so threatening that Julia felt it in her stomach. She sat up to face the dark bedroom. The cat growled.

“Bubbles,” Julia whispered. “Come on up here.”

The cat growled again, hissed.

Julia flicked on the bedside table lamp. At once, she could see the tortoiseshell cat sitting on the floor in the corner of the room, staring up at something on the dresser. She watched Bubbles’ hackles rise as she growled once more. Julia glanced up at the dresser. Other than an old plastic doll and her jewellery box, there was nothing to see.

“Is it a spider?” Julia whispered, feeling her own stomach tense. She glanced at the empty right side of the bed. She wished Jared wasn’t working nights tonight.

The cat jumped onto the dresser but kept its distance from the threat, though she maintained eye contact with it.

“It’s a doll, Bubbles. What the hell’s your problem?”

Julia climbed out of bed and stepped towards the dresser. She set her hand on the cat’s back, felt the rigidity, felt the quivering, felt the vibration of another growl. Bubbles did not acknowledge the calming pat or the stroke.

“Bubbles, look…” Julia grabbed for the plastic doll, wrapped her hand around it. She’d had it for twenty-five years, since she was a kid. She’d had the cat for ten. For God’s sake, it’s not like the doll was unfamiliar.

She picked it up, but as she carried it towards the cat, it hissed and jumped onto the bed.

“Stupid cat, look.” As she drew the doll towards the cat, her hand froze. Those eyes—there was something eerie about them in this light. They were no bigger than sunflower seeds, but they could be those of a real human being. She stared, noticing that the glassiness to them looked not as glassy as it did moist.

The cat was still hissing at the doll.

Unnerved, Julia struggled to tear her eyes away from the doll’s blue gaze. As she did, the impossible happened. Before she saw it, really registered it in her head, she felt the pain of its teeth. The doll had bit her finger. But it couldn’t have. It was still sitting in her hand as immobile as it had ever been, staring up at her with those dead eyes. Yet there was her finger, dripping blood, a chunk of skin the size of a pea gone.

Julia’s reaction was to chuck the doll across the room. It smacked against the closet door with a bang. The cat’s eyes followed it to the ground.

The baby began to cry in the next room.

Quivering, Julia watched the cat, because Bubbles seemed very aware of whatever was happening. When her eyes lifted from the doll and trained on the empty corner by the ceiling, Julia mimicked her, failing to see what Bubbles could see. Then the cat jumped off the bed and began to paw at the door.

The baby’s cries began to falter, and then he grew quiet.

Cradling her injured finger so that the blood did not soak the carpet, Julia glanced at the baby monitor to ensure that Evan had gone back to sleep. The cat was still pawing.

“Julia.”

The voice came from the baby monitor in a whisper so severe that it turned her head.

“Julia.”

The green lights illuminated to the top of the monitor, indicating that the voice was not in her head, but rather coming from the nursery. The lights disappeared, and then reappeared when the word “Evan” was spoken.

Julia dashed to the door and yanked it open, coating the handle in blood. She and the cat had the same destination in mind. When Julia thrust open the nursery door, she flicked on the light and watched the cat jump into Evan’s crib.

Nothing in the room seemed out of place.

Neither had it in her room, yet the doll had bitten her.

Julia approached the crib. Evan was wide awake, but did not look up at her when she leaned over him. Instead, he stared into the corner of the room above his crib, in the same direction that Bubbles was looking.

Heart thundering, Julia followed their gazes.

Clasping to the walls with two hands and back to the ceiling, leaning over the crib and panting, was a black shape, little more than a dense fog. Yet she could see what resembled eyes, wild and shifting. She could see the shape swiftly rising and dropping, as though panting. Julia’s words caught in her throat, she could only feel for Evan and grasp his six-week-old arm.

The cat hissed.

The shape, suddenly reminiscent of a young girl, extended from the wall nearly four feet so that what could be a face was only inches away from the cat’s. It emitted a sound like a scream heard through static, so loud that Julia had to cover her ears. Evan began to wail. The cat jumped out of the crib and scrambled out of the bedroom.

The shape turned to Julia, uttered a shorter scream, and leapt from the wall towards the window. It sifted through the joints of the sliding panes and disappeared into the black of night.

Julia grabbed Evan so quickly that she forgot to cradle his head, and backed from the room, shaking so badly that she knew she would have to put the baby down to avoid dropping him.

He was still crying, screaming, inconsolable. She tried to whisper soothing words as she retreated to the kitchen and flicked on the bright fluorescent lights.

“It’s okay,” she whispered. “It’s gone now, okay. Shhh.”

That was when the patio door, the window, the living room windows—every window in the house—exploded. The sound of shattering glass was ear piercing. The only thing Julia could do was hunch over her son and pray they avoided any flying shards.

Cowering on the floor now, listening to the thick silence that had overcome them, feeling the cool air sift into the house, Julia shuddered, holding Evan close to her, so close that maybe he couldn’t breathe.

The phone rang. She let it. The machine answered, her cheery voice expressing that the caller had reached the Walton residence and that they should leave a message.

At three fifteen in the morning, she didn’t know who she expected to be on the other end of the line—maybe Jared?—but she had not expected the dry, raspy voice.

Like a little girl singing a song, it came, “…The plastic dead, we’re in your head, and red in the bed is the blood that you shed, where only we tread, we shred. We are the dead…

 

© Lindsay Mawson, 2012

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Friday, September 28, 2012

Flash Fiction Challenge #47: The Epic Game of Aspects Redux

Spanish-Sparrow-flock-05-70Our flash fiction challenge this week at Terrible Minds was another game of aspects, so basically had to randomly choose (from a random number generator) a subgenre, a conflict, and an element to include. I got magic realism, haunted by the past, and hologram. Strange mixture, but here you go. Yay, I kept it under 1000 words, too!

The Sparrow Debt 

Each of us has a story, and some a past from which they’re trying to escape. Up until two years ago, mine wasn’t so bad, but then I found myself running drugs to save my life. I owed a loan shark, Rudy, fifteen thousand dollars, borrowed for an investment in a restaurant that never opened. When I couldn’t pay him as fast as he wanted, he gave me a job transporting massive quantities of cocaine across the country. That’s risky in itself, but more so because I might as well have had a beacon over my head with all those sparrows following my Toyota down freeway after freeway.

I don’t know how, but I managed to complete the first job, worth only five hundred dollars to the loan shark. By the time I’d reached my destination, my nerves were shot, and I walked away. I set up a life in New York City. I knew that was risky, too, but I had no one but Rudy back in San Diego waiting for me to return, so New York was as good as anywhere.

For two years, I managed to remain hidden.

Last week, I found the sparrows sitting on my window ledge. They’ve been there every day since.

When I wake up each morning, the ledge is the first place I look. The birds are crammed on there as though desperately awaiting food. Some push others off the ledge, and then the banished come back to land on top of their banishers. The cycle continues until I leave for work. Then, they follow me.

The sparrows work for Rudy, but not every criminal mastermind chooses to employ the birds, mainly because while loyal and efficient, they can become erratic when conditions aren’t perfect. Some criminals choose to stick with using humans for their dirty work. That costs more. If they can afford it, good for them. Rudy uses the sparrows because they are a finger pointing directly to my location, and his local guys can find me. Saves him money so he can lend more to the next sorry, desperate sap.

This morning, the birds are still there, now piled on top of my ledge nearly a foot high, and I know it’s just a matter of time before someone notices them. I rush to the window, open it, and try to shoo the birds away with my hands. Sometimes it works. Today it doesn’t. I grab the bucket of water sitting on the dresser and douse the birds. Most of them fly away, but I know this will be in vain.

I leave for work by the back entrance, through the storage room of the apartment building. I can travel the alleyways for half a city block before I’m forced onto the street, where everyone can see the cloud of birds following me just thirty feet up. When it occurs to passersby who the birds are following, everyone gives me a wide berth. It’s common knowledge that sparrows are only used by criminals. No one wants to be associated with me.

I hail a cab before the driver can notice the flock.

I have a job that barely pays the rent. If Rudy finds me, I’ll have only a mere two thousand dollars to offer him, but if I quit my job and run, I’ll be living like this forever.

There’re also the birds.

“Magnetic fields,” the cabbie suddenly said. He was glancing in the rear view mirror.

“What’s that?” I ask.

“They fuck with the birds’ compasses or something. Attach a scrambler to your car. It sends out a wave they can’t follow. Might buy you some time.”

I feel a smile cross my face. “Dude, thanks. Where do I get one?”

The cabbie, a fat, dirty man with a toothpick between his teeth, says, “They ain’t gonna sell you one at Wal-Mart, I guarantee ya that.” He glanced back and flicked me a business card. “Call this guy. Owns a gun shop in the Upper East Side. He’ll set you up.”

I accepted the card and read the name. Bill Buxworth. “You’re a lifesaver.”

“Don’t mention it. Here you are.”

I nod thanks, pay the guy, and hop out of the cab for Eddie’s Pizzeria, skipping around customers to the back. I put on my apron. Today is payday, so once my shift is done, I’ll take the cash that’s owed to me and head out to see this Buxworth guy.

At lunch, my boss tells me I have a call. My stomach drops. “Hang up on them.”

But by that point, he’s already set the phone on Hologram setting. Before me appears a three-dimensional rendering of the man I’ve spent two years running from.

“Well, well, well,” Rudy says. “We finally caught you.”

I merely stare, at a loss for words.

“You owe me twenty-eight thousand dollars if I’ve got my math right,” Rudy said. “You gonna pay up or do I have to make you?”

“If I had that kind money, Rudy—”

Ruddy nodded and crossed his arms. “Looks like we’re going to have to do this the hard way.”

“If you just give me some time—”

“Don’t you know that line is so cliché it makes me sick? Give me some time, give me some time. You’ve run out of time, you’ve run out on me, and I don’t put up with that kind of behaviour, my friend.”

“I’ll call the cops,” I say, “put an end to your whole drug running operation.”

Rudy smiles. “I’d love to see you try.” He picks up a cell phone and dials.

A telephone rings to my left, in the direction of the back door. I spin that way and see Merek, a henchman I’m quite familiar with, answer his own cell phone. “Do it?”

To my right, I hear Rudy’s voice say, “Take him out.”

I haven’t turned back to Merek before I hear the gunshot. 

 

 

© Lindsay Mawson 2012

 

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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Flash Fiction Challenge #46: A Novice Revenges the Rhythm

bu-classroom3Our Flash Fiction challenge at Terrible Minds this week was to use this sentence “A novice revenges the rhythm” somewhere in our story. A little longer than the 1000 words. Hope you enjoy. Kinda creeps me out and I wrote it…

I a Novice

 

“I a novice.”

“No. You are a novice.”

“I are a novice.”

“No, it’s ‘I am a novice’.”

Mike wiped the sweat from his forehead with the back of his wrist. Something had to give and soon. T654, or Jason, as his new identification would read, was one of the most difficult cases they had had in recent history. He was in his fourth year of learning to speak, and it came more difficult to him than it might for a two-year-old.

Jason furrowed his brow at the correction and jumped from the chair to his feet. The chair fell backwards. “Me no like… schedule. No. Me no like… beat. Rhythm.”

“Music?” Mike asked. “You don’t like music?”

“No!” Jason exclaimed. He was pacing back and forth now like a frustrated child. He jammed his fingers through his hair. “Schedule! Time! Rhythm! Me no like this!”

“You don’t like the rhythm of your day?”

“No,” Jason spat. Finally understood, he meandered towards the window, which was not a window at all but a cleverly disguised LED television. On the screen was the same scene—the rolling hills under a bright sky, an apple orchard in the distance. Rarely did the scene ever change. Sometimes, if someone fucked up, the video on loop would stop, and live feed of the actual orchard—day or night, rain or shine—would appear, and that required hours of explanation to the students. They did not yet know the difference between night and day. Time was a subject that the educators purposely delayed towards the end so that the students did not count the days they were trapped here. Weather was a subject on an entirely different plane. The students only went outside for the first time on the days they left the facility for good.

Students they were, but far from the typical. These were grown men and women who had undergone brain transplants. Or body transplants. It depended on the way you looked at it. The trauma of such an operation caused such a regression in ninety-eight percent of cases that almost complete re-education had to take place. On occasion, perhaps two percent of the time, a brain failed to completely embrace its new body. When novices (they were called novices because despite their possible brain age, these people were novices in life again) began to question why their body did not feel like their own, began to hurt themselves, they had to be eliminated. This was usually done as lethal injection disguised as just another flu shot.

There were other reasons for being marked for death, but this was the most common.

The brain-body transplants began as a way for those with failing bodies to survive much longer than they were destined to. The bodies would be harvested from brain-dead patients, those in comas, on life support. Then, the elderly began to use the process as a means of staying young, having a second go at life. Within ten years of the process, “Medical Reincarnation” or MR, as it was being called, existing, people began hiring hitmen to ‘take out’ young twenty-somethings. They weren’t being killed, but weapons equipped with not tranquilizers but a formula that could ensure permanent brain damage were the new norm in the underworld. Mike had heard that some people would “Terminate Brain Activity”, or simply TBA for short, for less than twenty thousand dollars these days.

Others, those specializing in the TBAs of high-profile people, charged millions. In many cases, after transporting the body to a secret location, private and not-necessarily-MR-licensed surgeons would be used to perform the operation, and the public would be none the wiser. This high-profile person would disappear to re-education facilities like the one Mike worked at, and within a year, they’d be back in the public eye—if that’s what the owner of the brain had wanted. Suddenly, said high-profile subject was acting differently, speaking differently. This was due to the re-education process, however, not so much the new brain’s different personality.

Because despite the brain not belonging to the body, the MR operation essentially provided a clean slate.

Those that opted for MR didn’t know this was the result. Therefore, neither did their family members, friends, or anyone outside the medical world. Why the secrecy? Because the government was behind the whole operation and wanted to keep the money flowing. Each MR cost close to half a million dollars, and surgeons received substantially less to participate. Two hundred people a day in the United States alone underwent legal MR. And who was doing the re-education? People like Mike. Free labour.

The government had taken to prisons to find their re-educators with the threat that under non-compliance, prisoners would see their sentence altered to that of lethal injection. Comply, and prisoners were promised shorter sentences. It was in one’s best interest to comply. Inmates were put through a stringent series of tests to find the best possible re-educators who were then transferred to a private facility. Half of it was a prison, half of it was a re-education center. Each day, Mike punched in for work, and he punched back out to retire to his cell.

It pissed him off that this numbskull, Jason, went back to a cushy bedroom with all the comforts of home. But considering Mike was in for third degree murder, hitting and killing a pedestrian while texting, he figured he had gotten off easy with this re-education gig, his sentence reduced from fifteen years to five, and he’d already served three. But for God’s sake, Jason was just driving him around the bend.

And now, it seemed, Jason was as frustrated as his third re-educator.

He turned back from the LED window. “Why I here?”

“I’ve told you,” Mike said. “You had a severe accident. This is a rehabilitation center. You need to re-learn everything you once knew.”

Jason shook his head. “No. Bad. Not… good. Not… right. Me not happy here. A lot of rhythm.”

“Are you saying you’re not happy with your daily routine?”

Jason eagerly nodded his head. “Not happy.”

Mike looked at his watch. His shift ended in just under an hour. He knew what he had to do—they had reached the height of their capabilities—but he really didn’t want to have to do it now. By the time he got authorization, it would be close to five o’clock. Dinner. He could do it tomorrow, but once novices began to question, they didn’t stop, and by nine tomorrow morning, he could have gleaned more information, dangerous information, from his more learned counterparts.

Jason stepped towards Mike with fire in his new thirty-year-old eyes. In his hand was a pair of scissors. Mike had seen this look before, in other inmates, in those that had murdered intentionally. He stood from his chair and approached the door, intent on locking Jason in the room while he went to get approval for the euthanasia. His family would be told he had suffered a severe seizure as a result of the transplant.

As Mike reached the door, he felt a body slam into his, crushing his face into the tiny window that allowed them to see into the hallway.

“I a novice, yes?” Jason hissed into Mike’s ear.

Mike glanced down at his neck to find that the scissor points were digging into it. Trying to keep his cool, having been in enough prison scraps to know how, he nodded. “Yes, you’re a novice.” He turned further to see his attacker’s face.

Jason smiled. “Today…” He paused to think.

“Today what?”

“…a novice revenges the rhythm.”

© Lindsay Mawson 2012

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Saturday, September 15, 2012

Flash Fiction Challenge #45: A Second Game of Aspects

smileyBeen a while since I participated in a flash fiction challenge, what with having another kid and all, but I'm back. This was kind of a difficult challenge to take on because it required us to choose from a genre, a setting, and an element to include. I chose 'superhero', 'Wal-Mart', and 'Tattoo'. The story is a bit longer than usual, but it is what it is.

Super in Vain

Most have never met a true hero. They see them on the news or read about them in newspapers, maybe even hear about them at the bus stop or water cooler. And I bet you those that have met a hero have never met a superhero.

Until five years ago, they didn’t exist. Sure, we had the comic books, the movies that have been redone again and again but with better special effects and new actors, we had Comic Con, the TV shows, the lunch boxes, and action figures.

But superheroes didn’t really exist. Again, not until five years ago.

That was when I woke up floating three feet above the bed, the sheet I had been sharing with whatshername draped over my body but barely touching the mattress. As I clung desperately to that flimsy sheet, trying to find a way down, I realized that the girl I’d spent the night with was dreaming of being trapped in a hurricane while trying to get away from me. The wind kept pushing her back.

I don’t know for sure, but I don’t think most regular heroes have tattoos. I haven’t done the research. I know a hero can be anyone, but is the average hero a guy that was locked up for five years for an attempted robbery, a robbery that would never have been necessary had his grandfather had the money to keep a roof over his head?

Since I suppose I’m the first superhero, at least that I know of, I guess I set the precedent for tattoos. The yellow smiley-face on my right bicep? The one that doesn’t look so yellow anymore? Yeah, that’s the Wal-Mart mascot. I lost my virginity in the locked break room at the local Wal-Mart. My girl at the time and I hadn’t even worked there. We’d simply seen an opportunity and gone for it. The name of the store doesn’t cross my mind without bringing memories of that day.

My left arm possesses a half-sleeve of intertwined quotes or sayings I’d found inspirational while serving time in prison. One day, I plan to extend it further, maybe add some superhero sayings.

No one ever told me I was a superhero. I dubbed myself one. A guy that can fly, a guy that can read minds, that’s super enough. It’s the hero part I’ve been working on. While my intentions are generally good, I have to work on the selfless thing. Would I risk my life to save someone else’s? Not so sure about that. And how would I even pull off the superhero look? I’m covered in tats. Who would take me seriously? There’s no way I’m putting on tights and a cape to convince anyone I’m there to help.

Since I’ve told no one of my abilities, I’ve continued to keep a low profile. I’ve been off probation for years, so it’s not the law I’m afraid of. It’s the people and their opinions, judgment, rejection. The regular people. The people that shop at Wal-Mart.

Where I’m standing now.

The air feels too thin, too circulated, and the lights are too bright. I’ve been standing in the same spot for ten minutes, in a main aisle, just listening. People are wondering if I’m dangerous, or crazy. I’m probably some of both.

Sometimes I wish I didn’t care what they thought, but I do. If I’m going to earn their trust, I have to care.

I’ve spent the last five years trying to figure out how I acquired the powers I did that night with the stranger from the bar. I tried tracking her down to find out if she’d noticed anything funny that night. Never succeeded.

So I started honing my new abilities. I also started working out at the gym three or four hours a day so that if I did have to put my powers to work, I’d actually have some kind of advantage in strength. The guys at work (I’m in construction) think I’m trying to take my mind off something, but they can’t figure out what. They think I’m clinging to the memories of some lost love.

A woman about my age passes by. She checks me out. Thinks that if she weren’t in a relationship with her current boyfriend who’s just okay looking, she’d totally advance on me. Then she thinks that, being thirty-three years old, she doesn’t have time to waste by throwing away a good man for looks.

I guess that’s one advantage I have. If nothing else, I can attract solely by appearance. People tend to trust good looking people, don’t they?

I haven’t trusted anyone in a long time. I’m always picking away at brains, thoughts, dreams, to find that criminal that will make me. Maybe once I’m dubbed a superhero, my life will again have purpose.

I can’t hear enough on ground level so I close my eyes to concentrate. I feel the ground disappear beneath my feet. My face feels more circulating air, which means I’m directly beneath a fan in the ceiling.

At first no one sees what I’ve done. No one tends to look up while shopping in a store with twenty-four-foot ceilings. It gives me a chance to listen to those across the building. The customer service manager passing along the back wall is thinking about how he’s going to tell his boyfriend he’s been cheating on him. The woman working behind the counter in electronics in worrying about her doctor’s results. The kid standing in the candy aisle is pondering how easy it would be to stuff a box of Hot Tamales in his pocket. He walks away without doing it.

And then I hear it. Everyone hears it. A gunshot. Screams.

I knew there had to be a reason I was drawn here today.

A shout erupts from one of the check-out tills. “—all the fucking money, bitch!”

A girl begins to babble incoherently, but she’s thinking she’s about to die. She’s thinking that her hands are shaking so badly that the robber is going to notice and kill her for it.

Do you want to die, bitch?

She cries out in terror.

I listen for the robber’s thoughts. There are none. I don’t understand why.

Now! Empty the fucking till!

Before I know it, I’ve managed to cross half the store at ceiling level, not by flying, like Superman, not by swinging on a line of web like Spiderman, but by simply thinking about being there. I’ve tried filming myself ‘flying’ in the air, but to this day I can’t tell if I simply move too fast for camera, of if I’m actually teleporting.

Either way, I know this is going to be my big break, the chance for everyone to know that I exist.

I plan to drop down on top of the robber, force him to the ground, and snatch away his gun. But I somehow miss my mark and drop down on the counter between him and the girl. The robber is startled by my sudden appearance and shoots.

I should have expected that.

Before I feel the pain, I see the blood gushing from my stomach. I manage to swing a weak punch at the robber’s stunned face, and another man tackles him from behind. As they fall to the floor, the gun slides away.

I fall off the counter as pain paralyzes me.

It wasn’t supposed to happen this way.

I can hear the thoughts of bystanders as my vision grows dark. Some wonder if it’s a joke, if this was all staged. After all, how could I have been hanging from the ceiling at the exact moment a man tried to rob the till beneath me? Unless I myself had planned to rob it as well. Some wonder how I’d gotten up to the ceiling in the first place. Others wonder how I had the strength to cross the beams. The last few minds wonder how I managed to survive the jump, and how ironic that I should only to succumb to a bullet wound moments later.

I, too, wonder why, but I know I’ll never receive an answer.

 

© Lindsay Mawson 2012

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Friday, September 14, 2012

How Soon You Forget… An Update on My Life

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You can prepare all you want for the second kid. You think you know what you’re doing, you remember how taxing it is on your physical being… But you really don’t. At least, I didn’t. Neither did my husband.

I remembered the late-night feedings with Zoe, but I didn’t really REMEMBER them. I didn’t remember the zombie-like drunken feeling you get at 2am, woken up by frantic baby cries for food or a new diaper. I’ve already walked into the footboard of my bed four or five times, the wall at least twice, and the ajar door more than a couple of times. Sometimes I walk into the door as I’m opening it. Yes, I’m that talented.

Then you actually have to feed the baby, burp the baby, get the baby back to sleep. For the first few weeks this was almost brutal because of Ciaran’s (pronounce K-ear-an) colicky nature. Things seem to be getting better on that front, but he’s not opposed to a spontaneous crying fit now and again.

I forgot how to prepare bottles. And how heavy a baby in a car seat is! And this little guy is not so little. Born at 8lbs 2oz and 20.5” long (5 days late), I thought my daughter, Zoe, was big. Well, Ciaran was 8lbs 14oz, 21.25”, and he was 8 days early! I’m not a big person – 5’1” – imagine if he’d come 5 days late like his big sister!!

Things you learn from having a second child:

1) balancing your time between two kids and somehow bathing yourself
2) your first child may be jealous and act up, but when they think you’re not looking, they show that baby as much love as you could hope for
3) it’s a lot harder getting around while holding a toddler’s hand in your left, and carrying an infant car seat in your right
4) you’ll probably need a bigger vehicle if you’re driving a mid-sized sedan like we were
5) somehow, you make more room in your heart for the new baby, even though it already seemed full
6) no ‘tired’ feels like the kind of tiredness you experience when you’re up 4 or 5 times feeding one child and the other child is getting up to pee twice (yes, Zoe is finally potty-trained at 2.5 yrs! woo!!!)… until your hubby goes back to work and you’re doing it all and running the household yourself all day…
7) you thought you had some form of organization mastered by now (whilst a 2.5 yr old is running around causing destruction at every turn), and then you add all the baby crap. What’s organized again?
8) what works for the first kid doesn’t always work with the second. Zoe was such an easy baby – we were spoiled with her. Ciaran’s a little fussier, a little higher maintenance, so we’re still learning what works and what doesn’t
9) somehow, even though you’ve only added one wee baby to the mix, dirty laundry has tripled…

I’m sure there’re a TON of other things I’ll learn about having two children, but one I do love is this: when you’re a new parent, you finally feel like you’re a part of ‘the club’… Yet when you have two kids, suddenly you feel like you’re not only in the club, but you’re on the committee. You look at those with one child like they’re they’re the initiates. The initiation process? Pound as much fear and advice into the new parents’ brains as they can handle. I promise to try not to do that. I know how annoying it is to be on the receiving end of unsolicited advice.

Since I’ve had to not only give Zoe a bath, but also comfort Ciaran about 5 or 6 times as well as changed his diaper twice while writing this post, I’m not sure how great or focused my next few flash fiction short stories will be. It’ll be some work getting back into the swing of things, but I’m going to try! I’m also going to try to clean my house at some point. And pick up my guitars. And maybe even attempt a sketch here or there (www.lmawson.com/graphiteportraits).

But so far, I love being a mother of two sweet kids!

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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Still Awaiting My 2nd Protégé

mother-lion-and-cubIt seems like it’s been forever since I posted here about anything. That’s probably because besides lacking all creative energy in my 38th week of pregnancy, my entire life has been a bit bombarded by anything and everything BABY.

That includes driving over the Canadian/US border at 8pm to buy a Fisher Price baby swing when the store only had 2 left and we’d discovered our old one was fried (and prices in Canada are at least 30% more)… Setting up cribs, setting up cradles, cleaning the nursery out and replacing our daughter’s things with our future son’s… Potty training our 2.5 year old, Zoe… Lots of work!

I am eagerly awaiting the end of this pregnancy for many reasons and am excited to get back to normal – a new normal. Or at least get my body back!

So, I now have about a week and a half until my due date. Certain people in my life have specific due dates for me to strive for, which I’m perfectly happy with – August 20, namely, because of the birthday of my late grandfather. I just have to train my mind to trigger my body to do what it wants, I guess! (We’ll see how well that works, not doing so well so far)…

So, at some point I promise I’ll be on here more regularly, posting short stories and pictures of the new baby (if you care), and in the meantime will be lounged in this recliner playing a lot of Spider Solitaire because it’s all my mind can really focus on for longer than 30 seconds.

And, I’ve gotten really good at it.

In other news, Exposing Dallas is now in most eBook stores. I’m still waiting for it to arrive in Kobo and Sony, but you can find it with all the other big names now, like Kindle, Nook, Apple, and others.

So, take it easy, folks. I’ll report in soon, hopefully sooner than later!

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Saturday, July 21, 2012

Flash Fiction Challenge #44: Must Love Time Travel

5941055498_c2335bcdd1_zOur flash fiction challenge this week from Terrible Minds was 1000 word short story somehow featuring time travel. Part of this is loosely based on true events, but what parts, I'll let you figure out... Enjoy.

Time Travel in a Peterbilt

“I think I’m going crazy,” my brother said to me over the crackled cell phone connection.

“Why? Where are you?”

“Home now,” he replied. He cleared his throat and was quiet for a few moments.

Worried by his silence, I urged him to continue. “What happened? Why do you think you’re going crazy?”

“I think… I think I went… fell back in time.”

At my stunned silence, he took a deep breath and began to explain.

My brother had left a rest stop in his Peterbilt around eleven o’clock at night, taking the night shift while his partner slept. He was equipped with a thermos of coffee and snacks to keep him alert. He had music set at a level just audible to him, but not loud enough to wake his coworker.

“It was a nice, decent, quiet drive,” he said.

I was trying not to laugh as he continued.

“Remember that area where I saw the UFO a few months ago?” he asked.

I did laugh now. “You mean the area near the army base where you saw something flying in the sky that was most likely a government contraption and not an alien? Yeah.”

“No,” he said. “I told you, I swear on my wife’s life that it was a UFO—I was only like thirty feet away from it. I know what I saw.”

Anyway,” I said, “yes, I remember.”

“Well, I remember looking at the clock,” he replied, “because I guess I wanted to be able to document a time in case I saw the UFO again. You know how many people have seen UFOs in that area?”

“Why the hell would a UFO keep showing up in the same place, huh?” I demanded. “Do the aliens have a cottage in the area? Doesn’t it make more sense that residents of the area are seeing some flying thing that the military is testing again and again? Think about it.”

My brother cleared his throat again and said, “Uh, no. I’ve never seen anything like this in my life. There’s no way this thing could be made by humans. It was like a cylinder with a spinning thing in the middle, and port holes, and just… there’s no way it could be human. Anyway, are you going to listen or what?”

“Uh huh,” I grumbled.

He explained again that he looked at the clock so that if he did see this UFO again, he’d have a precise time. It was two forty-three in the morning. When he saw no signs of UFOs in the sky, he passed through the area and stopped to fill up his coffee thermos at a local twenty-four hour coffee shop.

“I remember stopping there, because there was another trucker in there, carrying a load of timber back to the Toronto area. He was a big guy, and I remember him because he had a jolly face like Santa Claus. I was bitching about having to drive in the middle of the night just to make next to minimum wage. He told me I was working for the wrong guy if I was making so little. I remember looking around me to make sure my partner hadn’t woken up and followed me inside to hear our conversation.”

His partner was his employer.

“Fair enough,” I said.

He said he went back to the truck, checked the time again. Three twenty-five in the morning.

“I got driving again. You know how when you’re driving the same roads, you can kind of go into a daze?”

“Yup,” I replied. My drive to work had been much like that. Straight roads, ridiculously slow highway speeds, and nothing of interest to look at. “I know.”

“Well, that’s what happened. I wasn’t sleeping or tired or anything, but I was just like… on autopilot.”

“Okay.”

The song ‘I Believe in Miracles’ had been playing on the radio.

“Suddenly there was a flash,” my brother said, “like someone had gone past with their high-beams on, but way brighter. And then that song wasn’t playing anymore.”

“What do you mean?”

“It just stopped in the middle of the chorus and some Bee Gees song was playing, part way through already. As if it was all one track.”

“What song?”

Stayin’ Alive.”

“So? Maybe there was a glitch.”

My brother was quiet, and I could almost hear him shaking his head. “No,” he replied after a few more moments of silence. “I had already heard that song earlier. Just as I was heading into that UFO area, where the military base is.”

“A glitch.”

“No, that’s when I saw the sign for the turn off for the base.”

I furrowed my brow with skepticism. “Uh, what?”

“Yeah, I was an hour further from my destination than what I had been. I was entering the base area again. The snack wrappers I’d thrown out at the coffee shop were sitting beside me again. My thermos was empty.”

He explained being totally confused, and it being the middle of the night, he couldn’t be sure if he had been dreaming everything up or in a fog or what. He looked at the clock again.

“What did it say? I asked. “Had to be almost four in the morning.”

“No,” he replied, “it was two forty-three again.”

An unexpected chill coursed my body. “Yeah, right. That makes no sense.”

“Uh… how do you think I feel? I went back in time almost an hour. I don’t even know if there’s another me somewhere in the future just an hour ahead of me or what? Or are there two of me right now occupying this same time and space?”

“Where are you?”

“Home.”

“If there were two of you, where would the other you be?”

“Home, I guess.”

“So there’s probably just one of you, or else you’d have run into him by now.”

My brother sighed. “I guess.”

“Does that mean I went back in time, too, but I just don’t know it because I was sleeping?” I asked, allowing my brother’s crazy ranting to infect my rational just a little.

“I don’t know,” he said, “but all I know is that when I passed that exit for the military base, I looked in the opposite direction this time, and I saw the UFO again…”

© Lindsay Mawson 2012

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