Monthly Archives: December 2013

Continuum – for the Composers for Relief; Supporting the Philippines Project

This is my contribution to the Composers for Relief; Supporting the Philippines Project.The project consists of an album of original compositions collected to raise funds and awareness for the victims of the recent storms. Thirty composers have contributed twenty eight tracks. The album is available for download on Amazon and iTunes.

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A group of authors– one for each track– have agreed to write short pieces with themes of hope and determination, as inspired by the music.

I had the privilege to write for the talented Ed Watkins’ composition, “Continuum”. It’s a stunning, moving work.

My story is also titled, “Continuum.”

 

Continuum

They told us that the war was over.
The fighting, anyway.
I don’t think any of us– not us inmates, not the Allied soldiers who came to liberate our camp, not the surrendering German troops and officers– believed that the war would ever be over.
Our liberators marched units of their defeated foes all around, searching for a building that hadn’t been destroyed to confine them in. Our camp was deemed uninhabitable, even for captured Nazis.
I and some of my fellow inmates, reduced to walking skeletons by malnutrition and hard labor, wandered in the open space outside of the camp. Others remained behind amid the corpses and the stink and the disease, having lost all conception of what it meant to be free.
I stared at the faces of our former captors as I staggered away from the camp. Confusion showed in the eyes of the officers. The expressions of the common soldiers betrayed outright relief.
The faces of the Englishmen also showed confusion, for what I suspected was a very different reason. Many a stiff upper lip was tested that day, and found wanting. Men moved through the crowd with handkerchiefs held to their noses to blunt the stench.
I no longer noticed it. It had become too much a part of me. No amount of cleansing could wash it away.
A cloud of dark smoke settled over the area. It might have extended to cover the entire world.
I stopped to rest against a battered jeep, exhausted by my first few steps as a free man, as a survivor.
Soldiers who weren’t herding Germans or standing guard over one useless pile of rubble or another rushed us as we emerged from the camp, offering food, water, and blankets.
My Brit was a young one. He couldn’t have been more than eighteen, with peach-fuzz on his grimy cheeks and pale blond whiskers on the point of his chin.
I refused the blanket and cast a skeptical eye at the food. It wasn’t that it looked bad. It was more food in one portion than I’d had in a whole month. I guzzled the water, emptying the proffered canteen in three long gulps.
I thanked him in my best English, which proved unnecessary. The boy spoke flawless German.
He took me by the elbow and led me toward the back of the jeep. We sat on the running board together.
“What is your name?” I asked.
“Middleton, sir,” he replied. “Henry Middleton. I’m with the ambulance corps.”
“Middleton,” I repeated.
“Are you sure you don’t want some food?” He again offered me the bread and cheese he’d been carrying.
It had been years since someone had asked me what I wanted. I broke off the corner of a piece of bread and chewed it as I stared back at the camp.
“What is your name, sir?”
“My name? My name is… Tommy.”
“Glad to meet you, Tommy.” He clapped me on the shoulder, just managing to cover his horror at the feel of my bones beneath his hand. “Well, if you’re ready we’ve got a truck to take you away from here.”
“I am not ready to go.”
“Don’t you want to get away from this… place?”
“More than anything. But I will not leave until I find my wife.”
Henry stood and stretched. He cast an eye at the line of former inmates waiting their turn to board the truck.
“Is she in this camp?” he asked.
“She was. I have not seen her for over a year.”
Henry nodded and looked everywhere but at me.
“She is not dead,” I said, saving him from the unpleasant task. “I would feel it.” I placed my hand on my chest. “Here.”
“What’s her name?”
“Hinde. Hinde Auttenberg.”
He thought about it for a few more seconds, then came to a decision.
“Eat,” he said, “I’ll fetch you some more water. Then we’ll go.”
“Go where?”
I saw the answer to my question on his face but wanted to hear him say the words.
“We’re going to find Hinde, Tommy, sir.”

Henry and I spent the rest of that day searching for my wife.
He allowed me to do the searching, walking beside me, holding me up when I stumbled. He carried me when my strength failed.
We looked inside every building, went into each fenced-off lot, talked with each collection of dazed inmates.
Henry could not conceal his horror as we traversed the camp. The bodies. The vermin. Our living conditions. The open mass graves.
“I refuse to search the graves,” I said.
Henry wanted to object. I felt his inner struggle, the hope struggling against the enormity of the abomination he saw before him.
“She is alive,” I insisted.
We searched until dark, then continued to work by torchlight.
After several more hours, Henry and I left the camp by the same gate we’d entered it and stopped to share a canteen of water.
“Do you have any children?” he asked.
“No. Hinde was pregnant with our first when they came for us. She lost the baby in camp, thank God.”
Henry knew better than to reply.
“Middleton!”
It was a booming voice. The tall, broad man who wielded it was just as impressive.
“Captain,” said Henry.
“What the devil are you doing, Middleton?”
“I’ve been helping this fellow find his wife.”
“Have you found her?”
Henry looked to me.
“No,” I said. “Not yet.”
“Not in the camp, eh? Well, we’ve already sent four truckloads out. We’ve commandeered a warehouse. It’s not pretty but it’s a damned sight better than this place.”

We did not find Hinde at the warehouse.
Middleton and I walked together, his arm around my shoulders, down row upon row of silent human ruins. The only sounds we heard, apart from our footsteps on the hardwood floor, were an occasional quiet cough and the settling of bodies in uncomfortable sleep.
I met people I knew, both from camp and before. None of them had seen Hinde.
Henry gave me space as we stepped out of the warehouse. The smoke from cooking fires cut thin white spirals in the night blue sky.
“She is alive,” I said, more to myself than anyone else.
Henry placed a hand on my shoulder.
“We will find her, Tommy, sir.”
We walked back toward his ambulance in silence.
A breathless corporal intercepted us. He looked far too young to be in the war– until you looked into his eyes.
“You’re looking for survivors from the camp?” he choked out.
“That’s right, son,” I said. “My wife. She isn’t here.”
“Well, sir,” he continued, “we’re full up, see? Started diverting trucks to the new campsite due east of here.”
Henry and I were not there to hear the rest. He hustled me to his ambulance, then tore off into the night.

Hinde and I had a son two years later.
We named him Henry.

Mid-Week Blues-Buster Week 42

Welcome to the Mid-Week Blues-Buster Flash Fiction Challenge, Week 42!

 

*NOTE THE NEW END TIME– 9PM Pacific*

This is a flash fiction challenge.  The prompt is a song.  You are not required to write about or even mention the song.  It’s there only to get the ideas moving around in your brain pan.  If you want to write about the song (or the video- it’s all good here) go for it but don’t feel like you have to.

The rules;

500 words, but it’s a slushy 500, meaning you can go up to 700 or as low as 300.

Post your entry right in the comments section of this post.

MAKE SURE TO PUT YOUR TWITTER HANDLE NEXT TO YOUR WORD COUNT AT THE BOTTOM OF YOUR POST.  IF YOU’RE NOT ON TWITTER GIVE ME AN EMAIL ADDRESS OR SOME OTHER WAY TO GET A HOLD OF YOU!

The challenge starts whenever I post this on Tuesday and ends at 9:00PM Pacific Time on Friday.  You read that right.  Pacific Time.

This week’s song prompt comes to us courtesy of the great Tom Waits.

The tune is… “Make It Rain”. Here’s the link; http://youtu.be/qZS-B1Afc1c

This week’s Judge is none other than the Book Hipster herself… Stephanie Fuller!

The challenge starts the moment you read this post and runs through 9PM Pacific Time on Friday January 3rd.

Now…. Go write!!!

Mid-Week Blues-Buster Week 41 WINNERS

…and just like that, Week 41 of the Mid-Week Blues-Buster is in the books.

Judge Marisa Ames has spoken;

As I sat down and read the submissions, I was impressed by the sheer talent and the diversity of voice. Beautiful pieces, all of them. I found myself drawn to two factors: beautiful, flowing prose, and a deviation into the unexpected. If the author could pack more than one story into the piece, I was doubly impressed.

The song calls up the sorrow of a lost love. When authors took that lost love and moved past the sorrow, I was hooked. They told why the love was lost, or perhaps the explained that it never really was a love. Or they admitted that the love should never have happened, but it still left a hollow place. Or the narrator admitted that they had thrown the love away.

All of these factors combined created stunning pieces.

First place:

New @BrewedBohemian

Within three sentences, we know that this piece is packed with story. Within those three sentences, we’re wanting more. We want to know why Jan’s eyes burned, and anticipate that it hast to do with her heart. But as we’re thrown into a scene within a spaceship, we can’t dwell on her misery. We see Jan’s wonder and anticipation, her drive, as we feel her emotions. And we keep reading to wonder why. At the end, we know more of her heart’s story, and we anticipate the rest. Did her ambition steal away her love and her life? What did those blips indicate? Though we’re left with a cliffhanger, it’s satisfying.

Second Place:

Drmagoo

This story was different from the start. “I held the postcard that was never written and never sent…” Those first few words drew me in as I wondered why. Then I read that she’d been killed, and in Russia. Different, again. Because it wasn’t a stereotypical story of tainted love, I continued on, intrigued. I then found out that it wasn’t truly a love story, at least not traditionally. It involved love, loss, and moving on, but without the standard romance that we would expect. Yet I don’t feel cheated by this; I feel fulfilled. I cheer for the narrator as he moves on.

Third Place:

A Lonely Place Miss Bliss

With poetic prose, this story tells of a poisoned love, the kind that inspires soap operas and Hollywood romances. The kind that people wish they could have… until they actually do. Many who read this piece recognize that love, perhaps even admit that they have lonely places in their hearts from those months or years of chaos. We connect to the narrator, and we feel what she feels. And, at the end, we acknowledge that she has moved on as we have. Or as we are trying to. Or as we intend to, someday.

Honorable Mention:

The Sultan’s Star @BryantheTinker

Different… this one was absolutely different. Diverging well away from the romantic theme, it brought you into a caper. You feel the glitz, the glamour. The intrigue begins a few paragraphs in. I really like the amount of story that is put in this piece, and how the cliffhanger at the end leaves you wondering… Who put that bloody feather there? Was it Max? Was he framed? This story lacked two things that I savored from the other winners: the poetic prose, and the double story. I would have liked to feel the intrigue at the first, as Max enters the bar and hears the lovers sing, instead of waiting until halfway through to feel it. Still, it’s a great start of a story that I would love to see expanded, since the small taste of it was delightful.

Mazel tov to all of our Winners & Writers.

Jenn– here’s the Winner’s Badge.

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Thanks to all of our writers and readers… and thanks to Judge Marisa Ames.

See you on Tuesday for another exciting episode of… The Mid-Week Blues-Buster!

Mid-Week Blues-Buster Week 41

Welcome to the Mid-Week Blues-Buster Flash Fiction Challenge, Week 41!

*NOTE THE NEW END TIME– 9PM Pacific*

 

This is a flash fiction challenge.  The prompt is a song.  You are not required to write about or even mention the song.  It’s there only to get the ideas moving around in your brain pan.  If you want to write about the song (or the video- it’s all good here) go for it but don’t feel like you have to.

 The rules;

500 words, but it’s a slushy 500, meaning you can go up to 700 or as low as 300.

Post your entry right in the comments section of this post.

 MAKE SURE TO PUT YOUR TWITTER HANDLE NEXT TO YOUR WORD COUNT AT THE BOTTOM OF YOUR POST.  IF YOU’RE NOT ON TWITTER GIVE ME AN EMAIL ADDRESS OR SOME OTHER WAY TO GET A HOLD OF YOU!

 

The challenge starts whenever I post this on Tuesday and ends at 9:00PM Pacific Time on Friday.  You read that right.  Pacific Time.

This week’s tune comes to us from the kings of college radio, The Smithereens.

The tune is… “In a Lonely Place”. Here’s the link; http://youtu.be/mlOVlqUcB8A

This week’s Judge is author & all-around great person… Marissa Ames!

The challenge opens the moment you read this post and runs until 9PM PACIFIC TIME.

Now go write!!!!

 

Mid-Week Blues-Buster Week 40 WINNERS

Ahoy, mateys.

Week 40 of the Mid-Week Blues-Buster is in the books.

Judge Nick Johns did a thorough job for us… so let’s get to it!

  • Thanks everyone for another wide variety of tales and to both Jeff and Calexico for a great song prompt.

    Folly of the Follower by Charles W Short Love the sense of inevitability about the MC’s position and the circularity of his situation. It tied it nicely to the title.

    Untitled by Mark Etheridge The device of using the song as both a soundtrack to and a kind of justification for the argument was very original and the dialogue was great..

    Fool’s Gold by BryantheTinker A great, arresting opening and a solid ‘noir western’ tone to the tale. It had just the kind of morality tale inevitability that suited this story so well.

    Spill the Beans by Zevonesque A western tragedy. It was no wonder her never saw the end coming, his eyes were probably still watering from the atmosphere inside the cave!

    Nuggets by Ruth Long A strong, bitter, world weary protagonist with a mission and a man. Not a gal to cross!

    When by Kim Jorgensen Gane A well woven little fantasy tale with strong elements that led the reader along to a satisfying conclusion. A little confused by the use of a prompt from another challenge. I would like more of this story.

    Gold Dust by Ceridwen Wales I liked the way you captured the teen voice perfectly and the casual dismissiveness of the teenager. The biter bit!

    Manual Labor by Rebekah Postupak If this is this gal’s recipe for a drink, I’m glad I don’t have to eat her Christmas dinner! I loved both the character and the situation and wanted more of both.

    The winner is:- Fool’s Gold by @BryantheTinker. This man was doomed from the start, as the reader knew but the sense of seeing it unfold worked very well with the tone and style of the piece. Runner up:- Nuggets by @bullishink. This tale had a feel of a great rolling western saga that Sam Peckinpah could have directed. When you sell the movie rights, choosing a director is crucial.

    If Jeff is OK with that, I would like to award special Christmas honourable mentions to all participants! Happy Christmas and a prolific New Year!

    Mazel tov to all of our Winners & writers.

    Bryan, here’s the Winner’s Badge;

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    Thanks to all of our writers, readers, & to Judge Nick Johns.

    See you all on Tuesday for another exciting edition of… The Mid-Week Blues-Buster!

Stocking Stuffer – a Bad Santa Blog Hop Story

Written for Ruth Long’s Bad Santa Blog Hop, 2013 Edition

http://www.bullishink.com/2013/12/09/bad-santa-blog-hop-2013/

Stocking Stuffer

Late night, Christmas Eve.

Business was slow at the Stocking Stuffer Lounge, one of those nights without enough smoke in the air nor beer on the floor to cover the scent of industrial-strength cleaning products.

The five customers in the main room divided their attention between the stripper in nothing but a Santa hat and the topless bartender with Lemmy Kilmister’s face tattooed over her right breast.

Deafening, bass-heavy dance music bounced around the place.

The big, bearded man in the Champagne Room let fly with a jolly, somewhat inebriated, laugh. He shifted in the leather recliner to make room for Candy.

Candy, a curvaceous redhead in a red bra and g-string and matching sandals, smiled and moved to a Barry White tune.

The big man cupped her bare ass in his pudgy hands, lifting her onto his lap.

She spun to face him.

“Ooh,” she said, “your hands are cold, Santa, baby. I’m gonna have to warm you up.” She gasped, then grinned. “Is that a lump of coal in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?”

“Ain’t no sugarplum, honey.”

She laughed and reached behind her back. The bra hit the floor.

“How ’bout these sugarplums?”

“Darlin’, that’s an image that’ll be dancing in my head for months.”

She brushed his beard with her nipples.

“You really need this, don’t you?”

“Do you see the beard and the red suit? Know what that means? Three hundred sixty-four days a year I see nothing but elves and reindeer ass.”

“What about Mrs. Claus, Santa, baby?”

“Mrs. Claus? News flash! North fucking Pole! Think she ever gets out of that mu-mu or those Uggs? She could’ve grown a dick down there for all I know.”

“Well,” she replied, “I’m gonna take good care of you. But… shouldn’t you be out spreading joy and delivering toys and all that?”

He winked.

“I got a guy. Hired my brother-in-law, Vince. He’s out there right now, and–”

A cellphone rang– “Baby Got Back”, cut into the Barry White tune.

“Would you, babe? Right hip pocket.”

She grinned as she fished the phone out and handed it to him.

“Vince?” he barked. “You’re not lost. I told you. Let Rudolph do the work. He knows.”

She ran her fingers up his thigh.

“Oh no, you did not just ask, ‘Which one’s Rudolph?’” He covered the phone with his hand, rolling his eyes. “Last time I hire a fucking in-law. What’s that Vince? Look– how you get down the chimney is your problem. Just get it done. And Vince? You fuck this up… I’ll know.”

He chucked the phone over his shoulder.

“You’re really Santa, aren’t you?

“Mailbu Barbie with the Kung Fu Grip. You were nine.”

She gasped, wide-eyed. “How did you…?”

“Okay, baby,” he growled. “Where were we? Saint Nick needs a happy ending!”

Mid-Week Blues-Buster Week 40

Welcome to the Mid-Week Blues-Buster Flash Fiction Challenge, Week 40!

This is a flash fiction challenge.  The prompt is a song.  You are not required to write about or even mention the song.  It’s there only to get the ideas moving around in your brain pan.  If you want to write about the song (or the video- it’s all good here) go for it but don’t feel like you have to.

The rules;

500 words, but it’s a slushy 500, meaning you can go up to 700 or as low as 300.

Post your entry right in the comments section of this post.

MAKE SURE TO PUT YOUR TWITTER HANDLE NEXT TO YOUR WORD COUNT AT THE BOTTOM OF YOUR POST.  IF YOU’RE NOT ON TWITTER GIVE ME AN EMAIL ADDRESS OR SOME OTHER WAY TO GET A HOLD OF YOU!

The challenge starts whenever I post this on Tuesday and ends at 4:30PM Pacific Time on Friday.  You read that right.  Pacific Time.

This week’s tune comes to us from those quirky purveyors of, “desert noir,” Calexico.

The tune is… “The Ballad of Cable”. Here’s the link; http://youtu.be/w89r74jAG30

This week’s Judge steps into the chair fresh off of last week’s big win… Nick Johns!

The challenge begins at the moment you read this post and runs until 4:30PM PACIFIC time on Friday December 20th.

Now go write!!!!!!

 

Mid-Week Blues-Buster Week 39 WINNERS

Week 39 of the Mid-Week Blues-Buster is in the books…

We had a great turnout this week… Thanks for coming by to write!

Judge Jenn Monty had a hard job… she has spoken;

Loved this song and was excited to see what everyone would come up with given the darker nature of the tune.

First Place goes to @nickjohns999 – ZOMBIES! very creative and unexpected while still fitting the song perfectly. The descriptions of the disease spreading through the MC were excellent. Great job. And I just want to add – always double tap!

Second goes to @Bullishink – Another unexpected piece demonstrating how love takes us to dark places. I did like that this piece was between brother and sister instead of a romantic love. And as always, Lady Bullish delivers dialogue that rings in your ears.

Third goes to @LastKrystallos – I’m a sucker for a good ghost story. The descriptions from the ghost’s POV were nicely done. I could see this piece becoming a nice short story.

 

I do need to give two honorable mentions…

@PurpleQueenNL – I was waiting for a murder but all I got was sweetness; well done.

@drmagoo – I loved the beginning of this piece; the one word repeating over and over. Brilliant start.

 

A HUGE thank you to our host, Jeff. MWBB is my favorite weekly flash prompt. I love putting words to music and you always provide such interesting songs and artists. Plus, I now have about 4 bands I follow and a trip to Holland thanks to you!

Congratulations to all of our Winners & all of our writers.

Nick, here’s the Winner’s Badge for your collection;

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Thanks to all of our writers & readers and thanks to Judge Jenn Monty.

See you all on Tuesday for another exciting episode of the Mid-Week Blues Buster!

Mid-Week Blues-Buster Week 39

Welcome to the Mid-Week Blues-Buster Flash Fiction Challenge, Week 39!

This is a flash fiction challenge.  The prompt is a song.  You are not required to write about or even mention the song.  It’s there only to get the ideas moving around in your brain pan.  If you want to write about the song (or the video- it’s all good here) go for it but don’t feel like you have to.

The rules;

500 words, but it’s a slushy 500, meaning you can go up to 700 or as low as 300.

Post your entry right in the comments section of this post.

MAKE SURE TO PUT YOUR TWITTER HANDLE NEXT TO YOUR WORD COUNT AT THE BOTTOM OF YOUR POST.  IF YOU’RE NOT ON TWITTER GIVE ME AN EMAIL ADDRESS OR SOME OTHER WAY TO GET A HOLD OF YOU!

The challenge starts whenever I post this on Tuesday and ends at 4:30PM Pacific Time on Friday.  You read that right.  Pacific Time.

This Week’s tune comes to us from the always interesting Florence + the Machine.

The song is… “Heavy in Your Arms”. Here’s the link; http://youtu.be/SK6U4FiAoAs

This Week’s Judge is the Brewed Bohemian… Jenn Monty!

The challenge runs from the second you read this post until 4:30PM on Friday December 13th.

Now… Go write!!!

Mid-Week Blues-Buster Week 38 WINNERS

So… we matched our all-time low number of entries this week but, man, did we get four quality stories, as noted by Judge Eric Martell…

Only four entries this week, but four powerful ones. These craftspeople worked inspiration from the same song into stories of heartbreak, redemption, hope, and despair.

LurchMunster – You surprised me at the beginning, trapping the POV character in a dumpster, where he couldn’t be an actor in his own story, but you really made it work. The darkness of the lives he saw end or continue in depravity would make almost anyone’s life desirable. Vivid imagery and a strong story.

Stephanie Fuller – A “lighter” story, if someone losing their job can be considered light, but in this grouping it certainly was. A nice exploration of the redemptive and healing power of music. Looks like Louise might not find a solution to losing her job today, and she might wake up in the morning a bit worse for the wear, but it might not be a bad night overall.

Miranda Kate – I’m pretty sure I don’t want to know what he asked his children to do, and their lives will forever be harder and less wonderful after the injuries they suffered, but part of me did want you to keep telling me about them, as hard as it would be to read. I liked the phrase “coming into teenage.”

Ruth Long – The staccato shortness of the sentences you used acted as a great storytelling device, the brutal intensity of the language mirroring the brutality of Detective Martinez’ thoughts. Good men can be beaten down by a hard life, and he’s had one, but it’s not over for him, not when he reaches beyond himself and discovers that the world still has surprises in store for him.

Runner-up – LurchMunster. I felt like I spent that night in the dumpster, too. Wonderful story.

Winner – Ruth Long. I just loved this story. Exceptional writing.

Congratulations to all of our writers.

Ruth– here’s the Winner’s Badge, for your collection;

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Thanks to all of our writers, readers, and to Judge Eric.

See you all– and hopefully some of our long, lost friends too– on Tuesday for another edition of… The Mid-Week Blues-Buster…