Tag Archives: Anthology

From Here to Infinity—SciFi, Fantasy, and Beyond, Part One

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Gentle Readers: Herein, for your enjoyment, are eleven writers of Speculative Fiction.  SpecFic is a broad term which embraces science fiction, fantasy, horror, paranormal romance, magical realism, etc.  Everything from aliens to angels, vampires to voodoo.  It can be wildly farfetched, or just a tad out of plumb, a subtle departure from what we commonly agree to be reality. ~ John B. Rosenman

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SCRATCH

 by Micki Peluso

A scratch, a scratch, upon my door
Old dog snoring, fat cat sleeps
Something out there wants, implores
Incessant racket—no relief

Alone with these ungodly sounds
I tremble as my fears unbound
Not cat, nor dog, can sense or hear
The scratches, scratching that I fear

Some otherworldly beast seeks entry
To the essence of my very soul
I, in turn, must stand as sentry
Lest spasms of fear take their toll

Scratches dig deeper, louder still
Draw me to it against my will
Tentatively, I reach for the lock
No! My mind reaches out to block

The subliminal urge to heed the call
Of the scratching, scratching at my door
Quaking, leaning back against the wall
I smell fetid odors of evil’s spoor

Lured seductively, I lift the latch
Succumbing to the horrific task
To confront a terror that knows no match
It’s two feet tall and wears a mask!

Night sky lit by blood-red moon
Face to face with an irate raccoon!
Its beady eyes reflect a glare
Unafraid, it stands tall and stares

I draw a breath, deep with relief
T’was just a critter gave me grief
Yet nights may come; how soon, how near?
When it returns to refuel my fear

And the hideous scratch upon my door

No longer animal—so much more
The coon dashes off across the lawn
Innocent creature, perhaps. . .

Mayhap, the devil’s spawn

Author BIO:

I began writing after a personal tragedy as a catharsis for my grief. This led to a first-time-out publication in Victimology: An International Magazine and a 25-year career in journalism. I’ve freelanced and been a staff writer for one major newspaper and written for two more. I have published short fiction and non-fiction, as well as slice-of-life stories in college and other magazines and in e-zine editions. My first book was published in 2012; it’s a funny family memoir of love, loss and survival, called . . . AND THE WHIPPOORWILL SANG which won the Nesta CBC silver award for writing that makes a change in the world. Two of my short horror stories have been published in an anthology called The Speed of Dark. I am presently working on a collection of short fiction, slice-of-life stories and essays in a book called DON’T PLUCK THE DUCK.   Micki Peluso at Mallie1025@aol.com

 

The Hero

by Ken Weene

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They had a big celebration, a parade to honor him: Alpha Zed Bravo Nine, the big hero.

Sure lots of folks called him a hero, but I saw him as just an android doing his thing, and that means killing Pintarians. That particular android model, the Seeker1, that specific Seeker1 android, the one they call Alpha Zed Bravo Nine, killed more Pintarians without ending up in the Saint Jackal Service Bay than any other android in the history of the wars, which didn’t entitle the guy to a tickertape parade—at least not in my book.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m as happy as the next person to see a dead Pintarian. Slimy trans-planeters. “We come in peace.” What a crock that was.

Sure, trade and friendship sounded good, especially when we needed their gorchenbock to fuel our industries. “Of course you can have an enclave.” That was reasonable. Not like they lived the same way as us. If you’re going to have peace, you have to let the other guy live his way. Live and let live. “You got your god and we got ours. No harm in that. Which one created the universe? Way beyond my paygrade if you get my drift. Maybe we just have different ideas of the same one. Who knows. You pray your way and we’ll just go on with ours.”

Where did they get off telling us we should stop making out in public? That’s like telling us to stop breathing. Sure we knew they didn’t make out. Heck, we couldn’t see what Pintarians did to reproduce, but reproduce they did—more and more and more. But it wasn’t like we could see. Not like us, they were secretive, covered up all the time. How come they didn’t want any sun on their bodies? Now, that should have been a clue.

But you know politicians. Long as their buddies could make good money trading our bean curd for Pintarian gorchenbock and as long as those buddies kept the money flowing into their pockets, too, the pols were happy to turn the other way. That was until…

It was a bloody war. We lost a lot of our people, more than we could afford, and we never did drive the Pintarians out. We ended up with a planet divided—us and them. I guess that would have been okay. I mean if they had accepted the peace, we could have lived with it. After all, gorchenbock makes the wheels go round. And, if they want to eat tofu, that’s fine with me; I never touch the stuff.

But nope. Give a Pintarian a foot and he’ll take a leg. The thing is no matter how they do it, those foreigners keep reproducing—more and more and more. What was our choice? We had to find a weapon or die.

The first robotic defender systems were a simple affair. A few chips, good programming, and basic weapons. The thing is, once you create a weapons system, you want to keep improving it. In a way you have to because the enemy will find its weaknesses. And the Pintarians are no dummies. Fierce warriors and smart, too. Willing to die; each one willing to blow himself to kingdom come if it will take one of us or disable one of our robots.

So you see we had to improve the systems, move up to androids. We had to or the Pintarians would take over—make us slaves. First it would be no more making out. Then maybe no more praying to our god. Maybe even no more of us. Maybe just make Earth another Pintar, their new world.

The androids had to be improved and improved again. Had to be faster, braver, and smarter. Had to be able to fight on their own.

Engineering is a wonderful thing. The Seeker1 is the best yet. Dr. Sieger is downright amazing. What he’s created!

The only thing is that parade.

They marched through the city with Alpha Zed Bravo Nine in the lead. Everyone was yelling and whooping and waving, and the Seeker1s didn’t look left or right, up or down, they just marched through the city—not to the government house, not to the president’s palace, but to Sieger’s lab. That’s where they stood and waited until he came out.

They shouted, “Huzzah! Huzzah!”

That’s when I knew we were in real trouble.

 

Author BIO:
Ken Weene is one of the editors of The Write Room Blog, co-host of It Matters Radio, and of course a writer. Find more at http://www.kennethweene.com

 

TUESDAY NIGHT SPECIALS

 by Sal Buttaci

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 Yosef’s favorite day was Tuesday: Family Night. He could feast and feast, fill his belly without a care or concern for what he would eat in the next three or four days. After the gorging, somewhere in the barn he could stretch his body atop a hay bale and dream Technicolor scenes of his rite of passage, that feverish night on his deathbed and that subsequent first bite from Uncle Aleksei.

Long absent in time and space from the homestead in Kiev and from his hospitable but eccentric uncle, Josef dreamed of the before-and-after days which at first he treasured but now too often despised. Had he died centuries ago, he would have found peace, but Uncle Aleksei, pitying his dying nephew, had bitten his shoulder. Since then, as in Kiev, Yosef hid in the woods of everywhere, currently Central Park, from where he ventured forth at nightfall looking for some fast food. A hapless sheep, a snarling dog, a malodorous swine––whatever was expedient to satisfy ravishing nighttime hunger.

And sometimes life was bearable, especially on Tuesday, the night of Big Deals at McDonald’s, Popeyes, Burger King, Chuckie Cheese––Josef loved Tuesdays. It was Family Night out.

Under cover beyond the fast food lights, he let his eyes first stalk them, then distending razor-sharp claws and restraining his victory howl, he loped quick hooves towards them in the dark parking lot. Confronting his happy meal, he released the howl from his throat. A family: two adults and a rather chubby boy.  Or one adult, two teens. An obese mother and plump daughter. Recurring experiences of digestive uneasiness had led him to adamantly decline old seniors. It served as his only culinary departure, a habit worth keeping.

Family Night Tuesdays kept Yosef’s regrets at bay. He wore his wolfdom like an amulet to ward off the enemy’s silver as he feasted away. No leisure time for nostalgic meditation. With his mouth full, he stifled the voice of his thoughts. He would not for the millionth time dredge those memories of his younger self lying good as dead there in a blazing fever, his dodomu, his home in Ukraine, a picture postcard of happy family ties. Josef would dwell in the here-and-now of this long good life Uncle Aleksei had so richly gifted him.

Now, set back on his haunches, Josef licked the long human bones so clean he could clearly see his hairy snout in their mirrored whiteness. His dark eyes twinkled in the light of the Tuesday-night moon.

 

Author BIO:
Retired teacher and professor, Sal Buttaci, writes everyday. His poems, stories, letters, and articles have appeared in The New York Times, Cats Magazine, The Writer, Writer’s Digest, The National Enquirer, and many other publications. His books Flashing My Shorts and 200 Shorts are both published by All Things That Matter Press, and are available at Amazon.com. Buttaci lives happily ever after with his wife Sharon in West Virginia.

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=dp_byline_sr_ebooks_1?ie=UTF8&text=Sal+Buttaci&search-alias=digital-text&field-author=Sal+Buttaci&sort=relevancerank

 

Hooks in Behind the Red Door by Clayton C. Bye

Behindthereddoorebook
The following three excerpts are from my recent release of short stories in Behind the Red Door. The purpose here is to show the importance of “hooks” in writing fiction, especially short stories.  A hook is defined as an interesting beginning to a story, something that hooks the reader and pulls him in. Note: should you find yourself hooked by any of these story excerpts, you can purchase Behind the Red Door at Amazon.com

 

The Speed of Dark

Richard Bartholomew’s little brother sat on the bottom stair and studied the line bisecting the rock walled basement.

“What’s the speed of dark?” he asked.

Trying to ignore the sudden knot of pain in his stomach, Richard answered. “Doesn’t have a speed, Tim,” he said. “Darkness is just the absence of light.”

Shadows, almost lifelike in their furtive movement, crawled a few more inches away from the walls. Richard pretended not to see them.

“Light moves fast?” Tim asked.

“Nothing’s faster,” Richard said.

Small windows atop the western wall glowed with that special golden light which always seems to be reserved for crisp, autumn evenings. These tiny glass squares of life cast beams of airy gold into the spreading gloom. Billowing ribbons of dust danced along the slender rays, entertaining the watching boys, distracting them until the darkness closed in, until the colour of the light changed and took on the hue of blood.

Suddenly, Richard heard his mother’s voice within his head. “Somebody’s got to go.” She’d stood as a rock in the middle of the hall, blocking the way out to the world. Had taken her purse up before speaking and dug out the keys to the old Motor Cart. Then, casually, as if instructing him to do something as mundane as washing the breakfast dishes, she’d made her wishes clear. “You decide,” she’d said. “But I want somebody gone by dark.”

Mother had locked them down—as she always did when going out. The rumble of the engine as she eased along their gravelled drive reminded Richard of distant thunder. A cold shiver walked up and down his spine. Bile rose in his throat.

Richard wiped the memory from his mind and joined his brother on the steps. He could feel the younger boy tremble. The cool, dry basement air was sour with the scent of Tim’s fear. A centipede scurried across the floor, its serpentine movements and glossy red skin the perfect harbingers of this night.

This multiple award-winning story opens with the question “What’s the speed of dark?” Questions make great hooks. Did you not want to know the answer to young Tim’s question? But it doesn’t stop there. The entire excerpt forms another hook that poses the question “What’s going on here?” You, as reader, are pulled forward, suspecting something terrible is about to happen, but you aren’t sure as to “Why does one of them have to go?” or “Where will he be going?” or “How will he get out of the locked basement?” These kinds of questions are purposefully created by the author as a way to engage readers.

 

Retrovirus

Retroviruses make up 8% of human DNA. This includes the Ebola type strain.

The wind screeched over the desolate land, and the men huddled close against it. One of them, a stranger, marked the time with a quick glance at the moon. And because it was what he did, what he lived for and how he lived, the man said, “There’s just time for a story.” Then he waited for someone to speak up. They always did.

“You know the one about the end times?” an older man eventually asked. His hands were curled with arthritis, and he didn’t turn his gaze from the flames of their small fire as he spoke to the stranger. “About he who was the first,” he said. Not a question this time …

In this introduction a question is also used. The bard intimates he has stories to tell, and as the reader wonders about what those might be, one of the group asks “You know the one about the end times?” What end times? Is this a post-apocalyptic story? Who is the “first” that the man asks about? And there you go—you’re into the story.

 

The Last Unicorn

I DON’T SUPPOSE I’ll ever know where she came from or what she really was, but the summer day I found the unicorn on my grandfather’s farm my life was changed forever. She was black, about 16 hands tall and had one conical horn sprouting from her forehead. That was when she wanted to be her version of a horse.

She was often a man about my age who was interested in learning English and all else she could study. I named her/him Bobbie because that was as close as I could come to pronouncing her name in Unicornese.

Since she was a shape shifter, Bobbie could become just about anything she wanted to be …

The Last Unicorn doesn’t seem to use questions in the early paragraphs, either overt or suggested. But it does use them.  First, the author uses the novelty of the story subject (a unicorn shapeshifter) to draw you in and, second, he counts on you to ask yourself questions suggested by the comment, “my life was changed forever.” Why did the Unicorn’s visit change his life? How did she change his life? Is it for the better or does she make his life worse? Why is she here? Why him?

 

Questions are one of the most powerful tools a writer has. Why? Because once a question is posed, our minds are programmed to find the answers—it’s an automatic response. Where best do you find questions posed by a story? In the story. And so you read on.

 

Author BIO:

Clayton Bye is a writer, copywriter, editor and publisher. He has authored 11 books, as many ghostwrites, hundreds of reviews and is the publisher of three award-winning anthologies of short stories by other talented authors. You can find his collected works at http://shop.claytonbye.com/

 

Kali

by Stuart Carruther 
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Many years ago, I made a promise that I would never lie to my grandchildren. I wanted to be the straight talking grandmother. No bullshit for my youngsters! I’d let their parents do the fibbing as they saw fit. So one day, when the youngest asked me if I believed in faeries and pixies and other mythological small people, I had to explain that it wasn’t a matter of belief: I knew small people existed and lived amongst us.

Of course, they’re not called Borrowers, Lilliputians, Hobbits or any other fictional name you’ll have heard. To me they were the Eten. But more specifically they were Kali and Lilith and I miss them as much today as I did 60 years ago when they died. There are other Eten of course, but they hide in the shadows, in plain sight in towns and cities around the world under your feet enjoying the same lives we lead but at a different scale. But Kali and Lilith were the protoplasts.

There is amongst the Eten, a mythology which explains how they came to be, but, as with all mythologies, that tale has become warped and distorted to such an extent that it no longer even resembles the true facts.

On the first day a bright light shone, and out of the darkness came Kali and Lilith. Trapped in cages, giants pricked and probed them for 40 days and 40 nights. One night after their torturers left them unguarded, Kali and Lilith escaped to a place called Bricks Town where they found refuge amongst the waste and detritus of the giants. In this new and frightening world they fought and tamed giant rodents, riding on their backs to fight off the cats that sought to devour them. Having purged their new home of felines, Kali and Lilith settled down and gave birth to the Eten.”

The truth, as they say, is a little more prosaic. Let me explain.

BioPrint was the first desktop 3D cellular printer, and in my lab we used it to produce new organs for patients that needed parts of them replaced. You can imagine the sort of thing: heart valves, intestinal tracts, retinas, basically anything that could replace worn out pieces of a person’s anatomy. One night, after a particularly lively Christmas party, someone decided to print an entire human body.

I didn’t know about this until I walked into work on Monday morning and I saw blood on the inside of the BioPrint’s clear Perspex door. As I got closer and peered in beyond the plastic, I saw what looked like a naked plastic doll sitting there with his head in his hands gently sobbing.

I’m not sure what my first emotions were as I stood there stunned, staring through the blood-stained screen for what felt like an age. In time, I slowly opened the door of the printer, reaching in with my palms open so as not to scare whatever it was that was crying. Removing his head from his hands, this naked miniature human slowly stood and warily looked up at me whilst all the time trying to back farther into the corner. Ever so slowly, he began edging towards my open palms, and with my heart beating ever faster, I waited for this creature to come towards me.

“Ouch! The fucker bit me!” I exclaimed to the empty room as I withdrew my sore hand and slammed down the printer’s door.

In time, and with the aid of my lunchtime sandwich, I coaxed him into a small cat carrier which, with its plaid rug, was slightly more comfortable than the plastic floor of the printer. I took the day off work and carried him home. Later in the day, I went to the nearest toy shop and bought some doll’s furniture and clothes, and transferred him into a bigger cage where he would be more at home. Don’t look like that. I didn’t know what to do with him. I didn’t know what he was at the time. Making a stand from some bulldog clips, I sat him down in front of a cellphone playing nonstop YouTube channels. He was a quick learner and within just a few weeks, had a full vocabulary and was able to communicate his wishes and have a conversation.

Within weeks, he made it clear that he was lonely and needed a companion his own size and asked that I provide one, because as much as I looked after him and treated him with kindness, I never treated him as an equal but more like a pet. His brain was that of an adult human, though, and he matured far faster than a child.

With no more drunken parties coming up, creating Lilith took much more time and many surreptitious late nights. It worked well: a perfect miniature woman with her own personality was born. But she and Kali hated each other and despite my protestations they put me under pressure to create another person. I couldn’t keep using the work machine, so I borrowed a lot of money and bought my own and created Eve. It was a much better match, but still they wanted more people.

So there you have it. I had my own little Eten factory, churning out new models every couple of days, getting DNA samples from any unsuspecting person in the street as I stole hair samples, coffee cups, or recently disposed food. I was a god! Although they were wise enough to know I was just a bigger, less intelligent version of themselves.

But like all gods, I didn’t create angels, I created monsters, and they forced me to pack my things, take my cat, and leave our home in Brixton forever.

I never saw them again. Except the once. I was in Brixton visiting a friend near my old apartment and I stood on the street corner, wistfully looking up at my previous home, and I swear I caught a glimpse of one of them through a gap in the curtains.

 

Author BIO:

Stuart Carruthers is an anti-theist, pseudo geek and frog herder. Having escaped British winters he now lives in Taiwan where he shares his house with his wife and two kids.

 

A Sketch in Time

by Monica Brinkman

7

The clickety-click of wheels turned from irritation to peaceful serenity, rather a chant of sorts. It brought Franklin a tranquility no other sound could replicate.

He’d tried to achieve the same sense of freedom via aircraft and car but found their movements jerky and unpredictable. Nothing could substitute for train travel. It was the perfect background for creativity.

He scanned the compartment, his eyes focusing on the pot-bellied, middle-aged man to his left who was shifting his weight in an attempt to find a comfortable position in tight quarters. The man settled in, unfolded a newspaper and set it against the back of the seat in front of him. The rustle of paper sounded with each page turn.

Franklin heard the distant cry of an infant and the faint shush of a mother’s quieting voice. His eyes caught sight of a young woman sitting beside a guitar case. Her hair flowed free with the exception of a thin braid running down one side. Specks of sunlight glistened against her face and auburn hair. The girl sat staring, at what he had no idea, simply a blank stare, perhaps of boredom or loneliness.

His creative juices stirred to capture the look in her eyes and exquisite beauty. He drew the sketchpad out of his briefcase, took a pencil from his pocket and began the process of drawing. Surely, this woman knew he was catching her essence, yet she did not stir. Those blue eyes piercing and blank contained a stare of emptiness. Franklin was lost in each moment. The shading and variety of grays produced subtle darkness and light until the sketch became the person and not a mere caricature. Yes, he had brought her to life with his mastery.

Franklin rose and approached the girl. He bent over to speak with her and show her the drawing.

“Miss, if I may be so bold. I took the liberty of capturing your beauty.”

Her trance-like state now broken, the young woman looked at the sketch. She raised her head, gazed into Franklin’s eyes, and smiled.

“Why, it is beautifully done. Sir, you have quite a gift.”

Franklin grinned with pride.

“Thank you Miss. If you don’t mind, I must give it a name.”

She paused a moment. “I suppose it won’t do any harm. As they say, strangers on a train.  My name is Audrey.”

Franklin felt a grasp on his shoulder then hands grabbed his arms and pulled him toward the exit door. He caught sight of the conductor’s badge. It read, STRATTON. The man seized the sketch from his hand and tore it into shreds.

“Look, I didn’t think anyone would mind. It’s only a drawing.”

The trains’ wheels shrieked to a stop. He resisted but could not fight the force. A final push and he found himself in the dust and dirt. He heard his valise’s thud against the platform.

Then it hit him. How stupid. The paper’s headlines! Double Homicide. Police Seek Daughter, Audrey Stratton For Questioning.

 

Of Ladies and Lore

by Monica Brinkman

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“Ahhh,” a sharp, hot jolt of pain radiated knee to ankle. Lincoln panted and shifted his weight from left to right. The shackles molded to the metal table held him secure, allowing a mere fraction of an inch movement on either side.

His limbs held in place, his eyes bound, his auditory perception on alert, he heard the nearing scurry of rodents and the rustle of cloth echoing throughout the space.

“You Bastard,” rang out yet the rat stood its place and continued nibbling at his forefinger. Lincoln felt the warm liquid ooze from the tip and heard the faint drip, drip of blood hit the concrete floor. He flipped his fingers to fend off the offending creature, feeling repulsed at the touch of grimy coarse hair against his hand.

“Nooo.” He clenched his teeth when fang met bone, this time careful to make no movement.

The throb turned into agony. Small nibbles at his ankle grew to large bites of flesh. With one last groan, Lincoln gave into the merciful darkness of unconsciousness.

Lady Lynn jumped from the window perch, certain Lincoln could no longer sense her perfume or hear her rapid heartbeat.

Shame, she thought while walking all around his long, lean body. He did have a brilliant smile, pleasing laugh, and heavenly violet-blue eyes. Nevertheless, she’d been watching his dalliances for months, hiding her presence in the blackness of alleys and darkness of shadow, seeking the perfect time to act.

This night she’d walked boldly past him. He’d leaped upon her and pulled her frail body next to his. How shocked his face when this helpless lady punched his groin and grabbed the knife from his hand.

The second kick to his manhood took his breath away. Lady Lynn giggled at how easy it was to manipulate his large body. She’d leaned it on her own as she walked two blocks and brought him through the cellar door.

One last glance before she’d leave him to his destiny. The stench of blood filled the air and rodents covered the table. Lady smiled.

Jack Lincoln, you’ve ripped your last woman.

 

Author BIO:

Monica M. Brinkman believes in ‘giving it forward’; reflected by her writing and radio show. A firm believer that open communication is the most powerful tool to make positive change in the world; she expresses this in her books, The Turn of the Karmic Wheel, The Wheel’s Final Turn and in her weekly broadcast of It Matters Radio.

An avid writer who has been proclaimed a true storyteller, she has been published in several anthologies and wrote a weekly column for over two years at Authorsinfo. Her works can be found at various sites throughout the internet. Visit her blog @ http://itmattersradio.wix.com/on-the-brink

Monica resides in the Midwest with her husband, two dogs and five cats. 

 

Dallas

by John B. Rosenman 

9

            When Lee Harvey Oswald looked through his telescopic sight and pulled the trigger, nothing happened.  Just a dull click.

“I thought I saw someone up here!”

He spun to see a policeman pointing a gun at him.

“Freeze right there, Mister!”

Oswald debated only an instant, then threw his weapon, striking the officer’s arm.  He rose and the two men grappled, struggling for the gun, which pointed out the window.

There was a shot, then two more before he was subdued.  In the street below someone started to scream.

Ninety yards away, President Nixon turned in a convertible, which was part of a motorcade honoring him.  Seeing a Secret Service man leap protectively onto the car, he opened his mouth in astonishment.

It was not for some seconds that he discovered his right earlobe was missing.

 

This Poem

by John B. Rosenman

This poem is hypnotic.
Watch these words.
Your eyes are getting heavy.
You are getting sleepy.
You are beginning to feel at peace
with yourself.
Now your thoughts are a child’s.
Now you are inanimate,
a leaf on an iron wind.
Now you are the first thought
you ever had
closing like a bud in snow.

Now I am this poem,
each word a reflection
in your eye.
You are my reader
getting sleepy
beginning to feel at peace
with yourself.
Ready to join me
in my poem.

Author BIO:
A retired English professor from Norfolk State University in Norfolk, Va., John has published three hundred stories in The Speed of Dark, Weird Tales, Whitley Strieber’s Aliens, Galaxy, The Age of Wonders, and elsewhere. He is the author of The Turtan Trilogy, the first three novels of his Scifi-Adventure series, available at lrd.to/Turtan-Trilogy /

 

* * * End of Part One * * *

About Love…

Love – Ah the joy of it. But also the cruel vicissitudes love brings to our lives. I have invited some of the Write Room log members to join me in celebrating love, its joys and its pains.           –Kenneth Weene

 

Another Kind of Love (and Betrayal)                                                                                                                                                by Bryan Murphy

 

People say that you stay with your bank longer than your spouse. Yet for many an Englishman, the strongest bond of all is with his local soccer team. In England, you do not choose a soccer team to support; it chooses you. “It” is your home-town team, however small, and life-long commitment is demanded. You may also follow better-known teams, but such dalliances are flirtations that keep a marriage going, rather than signs that divorce is called for. It is your local team to which you pledge your heart, for ever, irrespective of success or failure, logic or reason.

When an uncle took me to our small town’s soccer ground, between the river, the gasworks and the railway junction, he initiated me into an English ritual that has colonized my imagination for over 50 years. In Laos, Luanda, Lisbon, London, I have experienced the power of soccer to overcome cultural barriers and provide shared enjoyment. We fans might not understand each other’s languages, but we understand the power of unconditional, blind love.

Alas, nothing lasts for ever. My love of soccer is heading for a shipwreck on the reefs of reality. It turns out that there is, after all, a greater love abroad in the world: that of a fast buck.

The advantage of soccer over, say, Shakespeare, is that you do not know from the start how a soccer match will end. Make that past tense. The evidence of match-fixing in soccer is now so overwhelming that even we fans can no longer deny it. That corruption reduces sport to mere bad acting.

Rich fans have always tried to buy success for their club, usually legally. The latest scandals around the world are about illegal betting syndicates buying players to do something previously unheard-of: deliberately play to lose. What love could survive such betrayal?

I used to imagine my team was too small and insignificant to be involved. But now, million-dollar bets have reportedly been laid on matches at even lower levels, and players at our level have been charged with fixing.

The betting syndicates are not going to abandon soccer for tiddlywinks, and nor can I. If Tonbridge Angels FC turn out to be tainted by corruption, it will be over between me and “the beautiful game” as a whole. Whatever will I do on Saturday afternoons? Maybe give Shakespeare another try.

 

Bryan Murphy is a British author who actually has a wonderful normal love-life.

A couple of his short e-books, Linehan’s Trip and Linehan Saves, feature a corrupt international soccer official who is tempted to become good. You can find them here: http://bit.ly/19vt7Ts

Bryan welcomes visitors to his website, http://www.bryanmurphy.eu/ where he regales them with poetry, stories, articles and more.

 

 

 Sal

TRUE LOVE NEVER FAILS

by Salvatore Buttaci

 

Define “lost.” In these secular times when love relationships rarely last, divorces and co-habitations abound, perhaps we should say love “thrown away” instead of love “lost.”

While we all agree that love begins with romantic attraction, too often it never progresses beyond it, and for that reason lovers become dissatisfied. The magnetic pull of love is simply not pulling as when the two first met, which now opens the way for “the roving eye” to distract one or both from strengthening their relationship. They find someone else they consider more alluring, more loving, more everything than what they have been accustomed to. “You only live once,” they say in their defense. “Why should I stay with someone I do not love?” Or after having declared undying love, they suddenly arrive at this common epiphany: “I never really loved you at all.”

Then there are those who kid themselves into thinking they are in love. Mark Twain once wrote, “He imagined that he was in love with her, whereas I think she did the imagining for him.”

Why then does love fail? Perhaps it is not taken seriously enough. “If it doesn’t work out, I’ll walk out” reflects a rather poor attitude, but one heard even moments before wedding ceremonies!

Another reason why love remains for too many a passing delight could be their unwillingness to add to romantic love the love of friendship. They go hand in hand. If lovers treated one another as best friends, they would sacrifice, compromise, and make vows that would endure.

Never to have loved is certainly a sad admission, but to have repeatedly loved frivolously, halfheartedly, selfishly –– what kind of love is that? An old Sicilian proverb teaches us, “It is better to walk alone than badly accompanied.”

#

Salvatore Buttaci is a retired teacher and professor whose work has appeared in The Writer, The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, and elsewhere here and abroad. He was the 2007 recipient of the $500 Cyber-wit Poetry Award.

His recent flash collection, 200 Shorts, published by All Things That Matter Press, is  available at  http://www.amazon.com/200-Shorts-ebook/dp/B004YWKI8O/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1369920397&sr=1-2&keywords=200+Shorts

He lives with his loving wife Sharon in West Virginia.

 

 

 Trish

BETTER TO HAVE LOVED AND LOST

by Trish Jackson

One day I visited my neighbor Hilary. She was sitting at her desk sobbing. “What’s wrong?” I handed her a tissue from my purse.

When she finally stopped crying, Hilary told me her story.

“When I was a teenager I got pregnant. My Dad had died when I was twelve, leaving my mom with a heap of debts.  She worked two jobs and still didn’t really earn enough to cover the cost of raising me and my three younger siblings.

“The father of my child was a married man. When I told him I was pregnant, he begged me not to tell and said he would deny it if I did.

“Mom said I would have to give up the baby for adoption as there was no way she could afford another child in the family.  I had just turned sixteen and had promised to get a summer job. Instead, almost due, I pent the summer hidden away in the house.

“Mom was so kind to me. She never complained about the pregnancy. Even though I didn’t want to give up my baby, I knew she was right. I had to give up my baby for Mom.

“When my little girl was born, she was perfect. ‘Please let me hold her just once.’ I begged and I cried and I cried when they took her from me. What made it worse was knowing that adoption records were sealed and that I would never be able to obtain the information that might lead me back to her.”

Hillary stopped for a moment, gulped a breath, and wiped her eyes again.

“Years passed. I married and had two sons, but I never forgot my beautiful baby girl. I often wondered if she was happy. And of course where she was?

“Then the Internet changed things. I found a site where adopted children could try to find their birth mothers. My hands trembled as I typed the only things I knew about my daughter—her date and place of birth. Time passed. I almost gave up hope. Then the email came. ‘I think I am your daughter.’

“The site offered verification services. We sent strands of our hair so our DNA could be tested. Anxious is not strong enough to describe the waiting. Could it be? We emailed one another constantly and swapped pictures. Yes, there was a resemblance; but? Finally, the results: Yes, Angela is my daughter.

“We immediately made plans to meet. She lived on another continent, but nothing was going to keep us apart. I couldn’t contain my excitement.

Then everything changed. Her mother, the woman who had adopted her, raised her, and, I am sure, loves her, doesn’t want her to meet me. She is probably afraid of losing Angela’s love.

I could argue, but I know how important a child is to a mother. I have to give my baby up again. ”

We sat in silence. From time to time Hilary dabbed at her eyes or sniffed. Finally, tears clogging her voice, she said,  “I’m not sorry I found her though. It’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”

Trish Jackson writes emotive romantic suspense focusing on small towns, country folk and their animals. www.trishjax.com

 

 

 Micki

Sometimes

by Micki Peluso

 Sometimes we seem at different poles
Northwinds blow across a frozen heart
While southern breezes boil the blood
Yet we are ever joined as one

Combustible, angry, confused and hurt
Feeling wrenching loss of familial love

Sometimes hurt festers like a canker sore
It wants to heal and yet it won’t
Too much has happened to recant
Guilt picks away at closing scabs

And healing, coveted, will not be heeded
However much wanted and needed

Sometimes, so many sometimes
We yearn for days of yore
Life was simple, love unconditional
And trust as sweet as apple pie

Sometimes our lives seem to normalize
Until leaves wafting on uncertain winds
Drift away, leaving distrust behind
And the vicious cycle begins again

Sometimes I reminisce those days
And my heart quickens with yearning
An optimistic, eternal soul
Sees that love again reborn

And I can almost see it myself . . . sometimes

 

Micki Peluso started writing as a response to grief. . . .AND THE WHIPPOORWILL SANG, which won the Nesta CBC silver award for writing that makes a change in the world, shares the story of her daughter’s death and the family’s movement towards recovery. Since then Micki has written humor, horror, and much more. Read more about her at http://

 

 

 Mary

A MESSAGE FROM THE GRAVE

By

Mary Firmin

Chloe had been in love three times. When she married her first husband, Tom, she was in love; but after ten years they divorced. Then there was Bob. They were married for thirty-five years, most of them happy. Sadly, a heart attack took Bob in his sleep.

But the first and only true love of Chloe’s life was her test pilot, Mike. She had met him when she was twenty-two years old and she had fallen hard. However a commitment was never made. When Mike was finally ready, she wasn’t. Then, one day, he came to her job and asked her to marry him. Sadly, Chloe, still gun-shy of Mikes promises, had already met her first husband. She refused to break her engagement to Tom, not for what she thought was her test pilot’s whim.

For the next ten years they had no contact.

When her marriage to Tom broke up, the first thing Chloe did was try to find her test pilot. He was living on his yacht in the Greek Islands. She knew where to find him because they had planned that life together. When he retired from flying, the plan was to buy a large sail boat and sail around the world, the only criteria being the weather had to be warm enough to wear only a bathing suit on deck.

They made contact, but they never actually spoke. Mike had given her his Western Union account and told her to wire him when and where they could meet. The account was “Camelot,” the name of his boat. He told her if he did not hear from her he would go on with his life just as he had before. It was his turn to be gun-shy.

After the divorce was final, Chloe sent her Western Union message. For the first time in years she felt alive, excited, eager to see him again.

There was no answer. Deeply disappointed, she wired again, and again, and again. She thought about buying a ticket and flying to Greece; then thought better of it. Maybe he had changed his mind. Maybe he had found someone else. She gave up.

Years later and alone, Chloe met and married her handsome, gentle husband, Bob, whom she loved profoundly for thirty-five years—but not with the same unbearable passion she had for her that dreamed of test pilot.

When Bob passed away, Chloe Googled her one and only true love. One more time she would try to find him–but not in this life: Mike had passed away a few years earlier. But written in the same newspaper article she found her answer—why she had been unable to contact him.

Throughout the last years of his life Mike had bemoaned, to all who would listen, that he had spelled the name of his boat wrong. He had spelled it Camalot. Not the correct spelling, Camelot, which Chloe had been using to send her telegrams. Tears streamed from her eyes as she read those words, and her heart ached with loss for what might have been.

Was this Mike’s final message to Chloe?

A message from the grave.

 

Educated in England and Canada, Mary Firmin has enjoyed several careers. After many years as a ballroom dancer, she settled in Santa Monica, California, raised her family, and sold Real Estate while attending many writing classes and seminars at U.C.L.A. Ms. Firmin wrote a society column for the Palm Canyon Times, and is past President of the Palm Springs Writers Guild. She is a long-time member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and the Romance Writers of America,. Mary has three grown children and presently resides in Laguna Woods, California. See Mary’s blog:  http://maryfirmin.blogspot.com

 

 

 index

Here, the reality of the dark—in its most powerful form, death—can’t keep love from blossoming in its growing shadow. Hence:

Don’t Be Sad

 by Clayton Clifford Bye

The crying beauty of the rose
always fades and dies;
so too the blush of youth.

Yet the searing passion we had
melts in deep comfort
to the full grace of love.

Clayton Bye is an author, editor and publisher. He also offers a wide range of writing services, including small business management for writers. Please visit http://www.claytonbye.com

 

 

 

Tis better to have loved and lost
Than to have never loved at all.

by James Secor

Tennyson.

To love is so wonderful, isn’t it? The warmth. Arms and legs thrumming and trembling. Eye-widening eye candy. Touch explosion. Sex or no sex. Even unrequited.

How many times, then, have you loved? And worth it every time, no? Lots of loving and knowing that if you hadn’t loved you’d never have known that passion and that splendor. Like a drug, once you’ve had it you keep wanting more.

But is this everyday love the love Tennyson is talking about?

Lord Tennyson was not mainstream or status quo. Lord Tennyson was an innovator. Lord Tennyson didn’t do the nice and expected and safe. Lord Tennyson was reviled by the critics–until he became Victoria’s Poet Laureate.

So, what kind of love was he speaking of?

The poem is “In Memoriam AHH Obit MDCCCXXXIII 27 Arthur Henry Hallam.”

The original title was “The Way of the Soul.”

It took 17 years to write.

It is 133 cantos long. About 3000 lines. The quote is the last two lines.

Just your everyday love? The kind that opens your eyes, flares your nostrils, takes your breath away, titillates your being and settles into comfort. Or complacency. Or passes away until the next time.

Or is it the everybody-love Buddhists froth about?

Nah.

Tennyson is speaking to total commitment. Unconditional. The kind, we are told, a mother makes to her infant. No sluice gates. No defenses. All or nothing. If the baby dies or is taken away there is devastation; devastation because entanglement is severed. This is the end of the world.

I had my child taken from me and I never saw him again. I wanted him to begin with; she did not. I took care of him; she put up with him while I was at work. I was the working mother. But she took him and I was damned. I searched. I wrote letters. Last year (2013) I discovered that he died in 2012. I was listed in the obit as kin. My family, knowing where I was and how to contact me, did not tell me. Double the hell.

Forty-three years of desert and desolation.

This same unfettered, all or nothing, defenseless love was also mine in my third marriage. It was, in fact, physically explosive; but it was much more and much more importantly it was a psychic connection. A knowing and communication that went across a partying room and down the road 35 miles. It was always being together.  It was touching the dome of heaven. I made up for a youthful mistake: I had learned. It was my time to live. . .until the face of the social-climbing traitor blew away the ground of my being. Disbelief. Depression so deep there was no sight of my soul. Not being able to live with nothing, suicide was much preferable to a life without connection, entanglement, love that was lifeblood.

I have written about this woman–and none too kindly. But I also never can forget the wondrous beauty, the fullness of life of that entanglement. That love is alive in me still. I know I have loved deeper than the universe. I know love. And I would rather the memory and knowledge, the experience–

Twenty-seven years after, I still cry. I’m not whole any more. But I’d not know it without having loved the woman. Many say this. . .and then go out and find another. Psychologists tut-tut and splutter about selfishness.

Now that I know, how could I have ever have convinced myself I had lived a full life?

The difference is the difference between being told the pot is hot and believing it without question, and touching it to see if it indeed is hot. By touching it you know. For real.

I call it up easily because it’s memory is inside my body, inside my brain, inside my soul and yet I cannot find the words for it.

It took Tennyson 17 years to find the words.

Not your everyday, literary, poetic, romance, religious love and loving. 

 

James L. Secor, activist, world traveler, author of Det. Lupée: The Impossible Cases available through the publisher at ccbye@shaw.com or the distributor, Ingram; B&N and Hastings list the book. Also, Linkedin and http://labelleotero.wordpress.com.

 

 

 

ROMEO MONTECCHI

by Salvatore Buttaci

Verona, city noted, centuries now,

For love? What madness! Say instead for crimes

Against the heart: true lovers judged unfit

To consummate a marriage blessed by God.

My Giulietta, wife, my queen, asleep

Forever! Why? A feud between

Two houses –– hers and mine –– preferred the death

Of both their children. Peace would come too late.

The Capuleti ordered now to lay

Down hatred towards my family would grieve

Together. Future sons and daughters? Love

Would breathe without the fear that once we knew.

 

Un ultimo bacio“: my final words

To Giulietta. “Kiss me one last time.”

How could I know that truth escaped these lips?

I only meant to say “Until the morrow.”

A sleeping draught the friar gave to her,

Unknown to me; it stopped her heart. A death

Before my eyes was merely sleep. I mourned

Her passing, cried my tears to God’s heaven,

Then took the sip that chokes the breath, in hopes

The two of us would reunite beyond

This vale of grief, two lovers greeted there

By hymns of angels waving palms of peace.

 

When Giulietta woke from her feigned sleep

And saw me lying dead upon the floor,

“Oh, wherefore liest thou, my Romeo?”

She might have said, but who can say the why?

A ruse that failed. A plan that went awry.

Two bodies still as stone. No breath to speak

Again of love undying. Fate, how cruel!

A love to set the world aflame now ash,

Not heaven. Angels sang no hymns. I walk

The circled rings of hell in search of her:

A punishment for suicide, we roam

The nether world beside the lakes of fire

And call each other’s name to no avail.

 

Salvatore Buttaci lives with his loving wife Sharon in West Virginia.  Follow him n Twitter at www.twitter.com/sambpoet

 

Kenneth Weene, a novelist, short story writer, and poet, is one of the editors of The Write Room Blog. You can find more about him at http://ww w.kennethweene.com