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Grandma’s Stories

Fiction Fragment Friday

This week’s fiction fragment Friday is special. As of this story I have been doing these for one year. That is a big milestone for me and I’m proud to have reached it. I figured I would share some stats from that time.

  • 51 Total Stories with only one week being missed.
  • Over 40,000 words across all stories.
  • Three settings with multiple stories

I have gone through success and loss during this time. This process started when my father’s health issues gave me a reality check and motivated me to start doing something with the time I have. The first year has been about building a catalog of material on this site and pushing myself to make writing a regular part of my week. It has accomplished that.

My goals for this next year will be a bit more lofty.

  • Start submitting stories again to try and get further publishing.
  • Edit and self-published my Ricochet novel.
  • Write another novel during NaNoWriMo.
  • Continue Fiction Fragment Friday without missing a week.

  “Jenni dear, what a pleasant surprise.  Come in.”  The old woman had a genuine smile on her face that extended all the way to her eyes. 

  “Hi, grandma.”  Jenni held up a tiny paper bag.  “I just got back from China, and I have your favorite tea.”

  The old woman reached up and took the bag glancing in it.  “Oh this is so wonderful.”  She pointed a finger to the couch.  “Go ahead and sit down while I make this.  I want to hear all about your trip.”  Jenni moved to the couch and stretched out while her grandmother shuffled off to the kitchen.  She looked around the room at all the pictures on the wall of her grandmother’s own travels.  The constant need to see and experience anything was definitely a trait that she had inherited from her.

  “Grandma how many times did you go to China?”

  The older woman came back into the room with two steaming mugs of tea.  She handed one to Jenni and then sat down in her worn comfy chair.  “Oh dear, it is hard to keep track.  Let’s see I went to Hong Kong twice, I’ve seen the Great Wall, the Summer Palace, and the Three Gorges. So at least five times.”  She took a sip of the tea and let out a contented sigh.

  Jenni took a sip of her own mug.  “That is so amazing.  I bet you have so many stories from your travels.”

  “Oh I do dear.  I’ve met so many interesting people and seen so many sites in my time.  It’s never quite enough though.  You always find yourself wishing you had just a little more time.”

  “Yeah, I can see that.  When I left it felt like I had just gotten there.”

  “You remind me so much of myself at your age Jenni.  I really wonder sometimes how your father turned out the way he did.”

  “Don’t tell me you two are still fighting.”

  “Of course, not dear.  We’d have to be talking to fight.”

  “Grandma!”  She stretched the word out and there was a whining inflection to her tone.  “You need to call him.”

  “No, I don’t.  He has never forgiven me for remarrying after his father died and I can’t forgive him for the way he treated your mother.  She is a good woman, and she deserved more respect.  I raised him better than that.”

  “I’m not going to give up on you two, but I’ll let it go for now.  No need to ruin the whole visit with family drama when I have a vacation to talk about.”

  “I wholeheartedly agree.”  She sat the mug down on top of a saucer on the coffee table.  “Now tell me everything.”

  The conversation went on into the night and it was midnight before Jenni finally headed home.  She was so tired when she got home that she just collapsed in bed without checking any of her messages. Since getting back into the country her phone had synced and there were 23 new voice mails and more texts than she cared to count.   She had not adjusted back to her home time zone well and it showed the next morning when she found herself rushing to avoid being late for work.  Once she was in the office, she had two weeks’ worth of piled up work waiting for her.  Every time she looked at her phone the number of messages made her feel overwhelmed, so she put it off a little longer.

  “Grandma with all your travel how did you adjust to time differences?”  Jenni had gone from work straight over to her grandmother’s house for dinner. 

  “Oh you get used to it, or at-least you get used to not getting used to it.”  She chuckled a bit.  “Something I learned from the Europeans is take naps when you are tired.  That can really help you get through the day.”

  “That’s kind of hard to do in an office.”

  “I suppose it would be.  As a writer that was never a problem of mine.  I spent more time worrying about what male pen name I was going to use to get my books published.  It was a different time back then you know.  My agent couldn’t get my manuscript on a publisher’s desk if they didn’t think I was a man.”

  Jenni shook her head in disgust.  “I don’t know how you put up with it.”

  “Because it was more important to me that people read my work than know who I was.  It’s all about priorities dear and what is truly important to you.  Sure, it bothered me that none of my books had my own name for years, but they were being enjoyed and I was being paid.”

  “Tell me about Grandpa.  Dad always talks about him, but he died when I was too young to remember.”

  “Gerald was a wonderful man.  He was far from perfect though and had plenty of faults.  Your father puts him up on a pedestal and remembers him only through the tinted lenses of love.  That’s where he gets his pigheadedness from.  When Gerald decided he was right about something no amount of arguing or evidence would ever change his mind.  Your father is the exact same way.  Why when he was a boy…”   The night went one with Jenni’s grandmother telling her story after story about her father and grandfather.  When she finally left to head home, she felt like she understood her family much better than when she had arrived.  As much as she had been pressuring her grandmother to make up with her father, she herself had not spoken to him in over a month.  He had not supported her decision to take a job at the law-firm that he represented her mother in the divorce.  He felt like she had betrayed him, and not having his support hurt her in ways she didn’t want to admit.

  Jenni went to her grandmother’s house each night that week.  They shared tea and stories.  Jenni would tell her grandmother about work and the few trips she had taken.  When she finished grandma would share stories of the family.  It made Jenni feel closer to her family than she had felt since her parent’s divorce and she cherished the feeling.  She was starting to understand herself more through the stories as well.  She saw herself in her grandmother, father, and even learned a few things about her own mother.  Finally on the fourth night she got up the courage to listen to her messages.  She started with her friends, but finally hit play on the first message from her father.

  “Hi Jenni, it’s dad.  Give me a call when you get this, I’m afraid I have some bad news for you.”  She started to get worried as she hit the next message.  “Hey Jenni, it’s dad again.  I don’t know if you are screening your calls or what, but I really need to talk to you.  It’s about your grandmother.”  She hit the last message from a week ago.  “Jenni, I didn’t want to do this on a message, but you aren’t giving me any choice.  Your grandmother had a heart attack. She passed away in her sleep.  I’ll text you the funeral arrangements.”  Jenni switched over to her text messages and found not just details, but a link to her grandmother’s obituary on the funeral home website.  The funeral was the day before she came home from China. 

  Confused she left work early to head to her grandmother’s house.  Jenni had her own key and let herself into the house.  It was quieter than she could ever remember.  As she wandered from room to room she found boxes everywhere with her grandmother’s personal items.  Some were labeled to donate, but others had the names of family members.  One box had her name on it.  Jenni nervously sat down and opened the box.  Inside were collections of photographs from her grandmothers’ travels, a travel journal, and various trinkets she had always liked as a kid.  She felt the tear run down her cheek. 

  “I hope I picked the right things for you.”  Jenni was startled by the sound of her dad’s voice from the door.  She rushed to him and hugged him tightly.  The tears turned to sobs as he patted her back.  “There, there baby.  I’m so sorry.  I know you two were close.”

  In her head she heard the words her grandma had spoken again with new light.  “You always find yourself wishing you had just a little more time.” 

  Jenni looked up at her father’s face and could see the pain in it.  He didn’t want to admit how much he was hurting.  “You feel guilty for not patching things up, don’t you?”

  He fought to keep control of his expressions.  “You always think you have more time.  That you can fix things later.  Remember this baby-girl, you don’t always have a later.”

     Jenni pulled away and went into the kitchen.  The plain paper bag of tea was still on the counter and when she opened it, she found that only enough was gone for the portions she had drunk.  She got to work and soon walked back into the living room with two mugs of steaming tea.    She handed him a mug and sat down on the chair.  He sat on the couch in her grandmother’s spot. “Ok dad, I think we have some things we need to talk about.” 

One Bad Morning

Fiction Fragment Friday

This week’s story can be read entirely on it’s own, but it is a sequel to the previous Fiction Fragment Friday Monster Hunters which is noteworthy because it was the very first Fiction Fragment Friday. Next week it will have been a year since I started doing these. I did not set out to write a sequel to that story when I sat down to write this one, but after I got a few paragraphs in I decided that was the direction I wanted to go in.

I plan to proved a year in review post next week with some stats, updates, and plans. I will want to do something special for the story as well, but I have not decided what yet. For this week enjoy One Bad Morning.


  I woke up gasping for air in a state of complete panic.  Pressure pushed against my eyes and ears from inside my head.  With great effort I dragged myself out of bead and stumbled to the bathroom.  Opening the medicine cabinet, I fumbled with the boxes and dropped the one I needed into the sink.  With a frustrated sigh I picked it up and grabbed a pill swallowing it without any drink.  Sinuses, allergies, and recurring nightmares are not a good combination for a restful night’s sleep.  Unfortunately, I had quite a bit of experience dealing with this combination.  The sinuses and allergies I had struggled with my whole life, but the nightmares were a recent development.

  Normally I remember my dreams, but these nightmares fade quickly.  I had a sense that it was the same dream recurring every night, but the only thing I could recall after the panic subsided each morning was a number.  The first night the number was seven and each night after it lowered by one like a countdown.  That morning as I looked in the mirror at a tired miserable looking reflection, I didn’t get a number.  Instead as my thoughts cleared, I got a strong sense of the word today.  While the panic had faded with the adrenaline the general anxiety was only growing. 

  Throughout the morning a headache grew that pain killers couldn’t seem to touch.  It started as the pressure behind my eyes migrating to a low throbbing sensation in the front of my head.  As the hours passed the throbbing became a stabbing pain coming in waves of increasing intensity.  My coffee mug fell to the floor and shattered into tiny pieces as a particularly intense wave hit me.  I found myself doubled over on the floor as the pain ebbed and decided it was time to go to an Urgent Care.  With the waves coming faster I didn’t feel that it would be safe to drive myself, so I started downloading a ride sharing app to my phone while cleaning up the mess.  That was when the strongest wave yet hit me and I lost all sense of time as I hit my kitchen floor.

  My doorbell echoed through the house.  I briefly wondered why no one was answering the door before remembering that I lived alone.  The pain was too intense to get to my feet, so I just lay there curled up in the fetal position.  A loud crack came from the living room as my front door was kicked open.  I hoped that whoever it was would pay for the repairs because I didn’t have enough money saved for a new door.  A woman with green hair wearing some sort of brown work jumpsuit strolled into my house.  Behind her came a tall dark-haired man.  They each held what looked to me like a 1950s inspired ray gun in one hand.  The woman also held a tablet of some sort in her left hand. 

  “Alright James the strongest readings are in the kitchen and the bedroom.  I’ll take the bedroom you take the kitchen.”

  The man nodded and headed towards me.  “So help me Lilly if I end up covered in green goo again I’m picking the missions from now on.”

  “Quit your whining, it’s not my fault you waited too long to shower last time.”

  The man whose name was apparently James finally saw me on the kitchen floor and rushed to my side.  My vision was blurring from the pain, but I could hear him muttering, “Please let me be in time for once.” I felt a needle press into my arm.  “Stay with me.  Focus on my voice.”  I tried to do what he said but the pain was so intense.  It felt like my head was going to explode.  “Lilly get in here his head is about to burst.”

  I heard the female voice from my bedroom.  “It’s a nightmare parasite.  Came in through his dreams.”

  “Hold on just a little longer.”  I could feel him squeezing my hand.  “I need that frequency, Lilly.”

  “I’m working on it.  Ok, got it.  7.48325 wavelength so frequency of 41.2”

  I could just barely make out the man standing and pointing his ray gun at me. The pain was too intense for my fear to take the form of words, but a part of me was just grateful that it was about to stop.  A wave of heat washed over my head and I let out an involuntary scream.  Something wet was leaking from my ears and I wondered if my brain had been liquefied.  “Die you bastard,” was the last thing I heard before everything went dark and I once again slipped into unconsciousness.

     Sunlight burned my eyes as I struggled to open them.  My throat felt raw like it would the day after a really good concert when I was younger.  While my head was sore it was a minor pain.  As always, my sinuses and allergies meant that waking up was going to be a miserable process.  Still, I forced myself up and into the bathroom to go through my daily routine.  By the time I made my way to the kitchen I was convinced it had all been a dream.  That was when I stepped in a slippery green goo on my tile floor.  I found myself painfully planted on my floor with my head turned towards my front door.  It was broken and just sat in place at a slight angle to block the entryway.  “I really hope my homeowner’s insurance covers that,” I said to myself.  As I lay rubbed my now sore back, I couldn’t help but notice that where the green good touched my bare foot it was starting to itch.    

The Music of Life

Fiction Fragment Friday

Music used to be such a big part of my life. In my teens and into my early twenties I was always listing to music and looking for meaning. I poured over lyrics and tried to apply them to the things going on in my own head. I had songs that were tied to people or events. Seeing a band live was more than just entertainment. I can point to so many life defining events that happened because of concerts during those few years.

These days I don’t listen to music. I found that while driving I needed something that I couldn’t tune out. Something that would occupy my subconscious mind more and keep it from wondering into dangerous territory for someone with anxiety disorder. That is how I got into podcasts and audiobooks. Even so when I hear a song it can bring me back to moments in my life like nothing else can.

For today’s Fiction Fragment Friday I decided to write something inspired by music. I was going to pick a song that spoke to me when I was younger and use the first line to start the story. Quickly I found that there were so many songs and listening to each brought back memories. The writing exercise then became writing something with the first line of each paragraph being a different song from a different band.

I limited myself to songs that actually meant something to me and had some sort of impact on my life. There were some that really deserved to be on here, but either the first line just didn’t fit or it wouldn’t flow with the developing story. The songs chosen though all have meaning and while it pains me that I couldn’t get one specific song in there I did base the whole exercise on the other song that was one of the more impactful of that time.

The Songs in order:


I’d give up forever to touch you.  That is not a minor sacrifice.  My life has spanned thousands of years simultaneously being among mortals and also apart from them.  Empires have risen and fallen in what to me seems like the blink of an eye.  My thoughts are in centuries not years or mere moments.  In all that time no human has ever been more than a subject to document or a catalyst to aim in the direction history needs it to go.  Why then are you so different?  I know even though I walk invisible to the eye that you can feel me somehow.  You occasionally look straight at me from a distance, or stop when I whisper your name.   

  You are so close no matter how far.  I can feel you like a an extra sense always knowing exactly where you are and when you are in danger.  A normal person has life threatening events a handful of times during their existence.  You have almost been killed twelve times in the last six months and always I was there.  Acting in secret without you even knowing you were in danger.  It doesn’t matter what I am doing when I feel you need me I come.  Nothing else matters.  Why would a simple human hold so much sway when I have watched billions born and die without ever caring.  I feel that something else is out there working against me. 

  How long?  How long will I slide?  I have a duty to be impartial, but moments with you mean centuries to me.  The time line depends on me to ensure certain events happen.   This the most crucial decade of all history and I know your survival is not one of those events I am here to ensure.  You were meant to die on the plane you never boarded because of a flat tire.  Letting the air out of your tire was the first time I violated my mission, but it would be far from the last.  Missing keys, thugs knocked unconscious in an alley, and a contagious patient tripping before they could cough on you are all examples of ways I have overstepped for you.  How long can this go on without my mission being a complete failure?  I want to tell you all this, but once you know you can never go back.

  I’ve been sitting here trying to find myself.  Searching for who I was before the first time I saw you and examining who I am becoming.  Which is the real me?  Am I a man dedicated to his mission, but slowly losing his way?  Am I really a caring man who has buried his emotions deep down so they don’t interfere with his mission?  I could never have allowed the horrors of the past to have occurred if I wasn’t impartial.  Knowing and not interfering is part of the job.  It is not like I have never been tempted to step in and stop the worst atrocities man has to offer, but those have always been minor urges that I could suppress.  Everything is different now.  Knowing what is coming and what you will have to go through I don’t know if I can just sit by and watch it.  Which man am I? 

I don’t know where I’m going, but I sure know where I’ve been.  I’ve seen the worst of humanity and let it happen for the future.  I never questioned it.  Maybe my future isn’t the one that should survive though.  If I do this and stop the coming disaster, then the future I come from will no longer exist.  Without my future as time readjusts it will catch up with me.  My changes will survive but from that moment on I won’t.  It is hard to explain the way time works and sometimes it just doesn’t make logical sense.  That is because it is alive in it’s own way and doesn’t like to be changed.  I can’t put this off any longer and still be able to make a difference.  I might be on my own, but I know what it means to be alone against the world.  I said I would give up forever to touch you and I meant it.  When this is done, I will be back.  I will talk to you before time catches up with me.  I don’t expect anything from you. I just want you to know who I am. 

March Update 2021

It has been too long since I’ve done an update on various projects and creative endeavors. For now I’m keeping this focused on creative work and not things in my personal life.

Fear the Boot Game Notes

With this weeks release the weekly podcast that I record, edit, and release for patreon backers of Fear the Boot has reached one year old. I am proud to say that it has released on time every week without missing an episode no matter what was going on at the time. This is something I’m very proud of and plan to keep this track record going.

Fiction Fragment Fridays

I am enjoying writing these flash fictions and trying to stretch myself creatively. Some of these hold real potential to be developed into something much larger. Perhaps I should consolidate and edit them for release or submit final drafts of them. Now that I have plenty of content on this site I will be submitting Flash Fictions online to various markets. This was one of my goals with creating the site to begin with. I wanted one place I could point people back to when I have things published.

Ricochet

My NaNoWriMo novel editing process has not started and I need to fix that. I have focused on other projects and not given this the attention it deserves. That is going to change this month. I am going to be setting editing goals for myself and will provide updates here on the site on my progress.

Skies of Glass

On Valentines Day we released the third beta of the Skies of Glass Roleplaying game rules. Since then we have been getting good feedback and have defined the areas we want to work on. I will continue working with the other two creators on that project hoping to get to a releasable product soon. I would like to spend some time editing the Skies of Glass: Metropolis novel that I wrote as a serial fiction. I have the framework of a short story in that setting as well. I think it would be good to have additional Skies of Glass products available to release in support of the roleplaying game system.

Other Creative Endeavors

I am organizing an online D&D game and have been putting quite a bit of thought and writing into the setting. You may see some of this content adapted into future Fiction Fragment Fridays. Even though I have a face for podcasting I still have been debating on doing something on Youtube. Lego, Transformers, or comic books are all high on my list. I have debated on blog based reviews as well. I have a couple domains that I don’t currently use because the pandemic killed the concepts for them at the moment. I am trying to keep these urges to take on new projects clamped down for now because I want to see more completed before I start anything new.

The Spiral

Fiction Fragment Friday

Last week I did not post a Fiction Fragment Friday. It was a very difficult week personally and I just did not have the energy or the time. It is something I have beaten myself up over a bit, but all we can do when we stumble is to acknowledge it and move on trying to be better. I have creative goals and the only way I will achieve them is if I don’t let setbacks destroy the progress I have made.

I’m not particularly happy with this story and I think it lacks any form of subtlety. It is far from one of my best for these, but it speaks very much to my headspace. It would be nice if the things that hold us back and try to beat us down were external physical things to be fought, but that just isn’t always the case. Sometimes our greatest critics live in our own heads.


  I lay there on the couch struggling to get up, but my body had no energy.  The blanket wrapped around me felt like I was surrounded by a warm cloud making the world feel somehow unreal.  My eyelids fought my commands trying to shut and pull me back into sleep.  I thought about all the things that I needed to get done and with each task that crossed my mind it felt like there was a heavier weight on my chest holding me down.  The desire to just give in and stay there forever was almost overwhelming.

  “Why bother getting up?  It’s not like anything you do matters.”  I heard the familiar voice, but this time it didn’t seem to just be in my head.  It echoed throughout the room with whispers coming from every direction.  A warm breath ran across my face and into my ear bringing with it an odor that smelled like something had died and was rotting away. 

  Shadows ran over me and gathered into a solid figure.  It had a dark crimson skin with yellow glowing eyes.  Two horns came from the top of it’s head and a pointed tail was flipping around behind it.  I couldn’t help but compare the creature to demonic imps I had seen in video games and fantasy art.  Opening my mouth to scream I found that I couldn’t make a sound and even worse the pressure on my chest was making it extremely hard to breath.  All the while it continued to whisper all of my failures in my ear flicking it’s tongue against my ear. 

  My body wasn’t moving, but I could feel myself being pulled down like I was sinking into quicksand.  I thought back over my life and found myself focusing on the things I had accomplished.  I felt overwhelmed, but I also could feel my will gathering.  I have always been stubborn and while I might beat myself up I wasn’t about to let someone else do it.  “NO.”  I gasped out.  My right hand shot up and wrapped around the imps throat.  My eyes opened wide and I met it’s surprised gaze.

  “Noooo.”  It hissed at me.  “This is not possible.  You were mine.”

  My left hand joined my right wrapped around it’s throat.  I squeezed as hard as I could pulling it off me and to the side.  I rolled over on top if the imp and looked it in the eyes.  “The things that live in my head are far scarier than you could ever hope to be.”  As it stopped struggling the imp faded evaporated into a red cloud that flowed into me.  I collapsed on the bed, but I felt stronger somehow. 

     I curled back into my blanket and slept more soundly than I had in weeks.  When I woke up I felt truly rested.  Sitting up I looked around for any sign that the demon had been real, but there was nothing.  I couldn’t help but wonder if it had all just been a dream.  Real or not I felt renewed and went about the rest of my day productively.  I found myself staring in the mirror that night ready for bed.  Looking at my face my eyes flashed to a yellow glow before turning back to their usual blue.     

New Year

Fiction Fragment Friday

It is the start of a New Year and I have quite a bit I want to accomplish creatively. For today though I want to look back on 2020. It was not a good year for the world in general and there were some very difficult aspects for me personally. On the other hand creatively it shaped up to be quite a year for accomplishments though many of those came at the end of the year.

  • I launched this website to have a single place to point people for getting updates on my projects and finding my work
  • I launched a weekly Patreon exclusive podcast for Fear the Boot called Fear the Boot: Game Notes that has had 43 episodes released to date.
  • Two beta rules released of the Skies of Glass RPG
  • Helped organize and run Fear the Conline 2 an online Roleplaying game convention
  • Took part in Big Twenty, and ETU streams
  • Completed NaNoWriMo successfully
  • Released 15 Fiction Fragment Friday’s on this feed
  • Had a flash fiction published in an Anthology(You can find the link on my Published Works tab)

2020 was the year I restarted my creative endeavors and I expect much more out of 2021 now that I am back on track with it. Expect submissions, rejections, self-publishing, topic blogging, and much much more in the coming year.

For this weeks Fiction Fragment Friday I have returned to the setting I created for my Thanksgiving post. The first mission to Mars and specifically dealing with being away for the holidays.


  I floated in my cabin thinking over the past year.  Does the measurement of a year even mean anything when you aren’t on a planet?  I frequently asked myself questions like that but found there was no real point to answering them.  Mission control was still on Earth and it measured time.  So was my family and they were counting the days I had been away.  It only made sense for us to do the same even though we were not orbiting the sun.  Thinking about the questions just made me feel further away and the journey down that path led to madness.  I was starting to wonder if some of my crew mates had already started down that road.

  My coms notification beeped on my tablet indicating that a message had arrived from earth.  Floating over I grabbed the tablet from it’s velcro secured charging station on the wall and flipped it on.  It was a video message from my wife Bernice.  I did the math in my head and figured that with the delay a message of this type was probably sent over an hour ago and that didn’t account for the time to relay it through NASA and their content screening.  They say they don’t screen our messages but we all know that is a lie.  They keep quite a bit of what is happening back on Earth from us.  Since we can’t do anything about it that’s probably for the best but it still doesn’t sit right in my mind. 

  I hit the play button and found my wife on the couch with our kids asleep around her.  “Hey hon,  happy new year.  The little ones didn’t quite make it to midnight.  This has been a hard year with you gone, but I wanted to make sure you knew that we are so proud of you and what you are doing out there.  It’s just so hard to believe that we won’t see you this year at all.”  I could see that tears were fighting to come out, but she was staying strong for me.  “Be safe out there and come back home to us.  We need your name in the history books for the right reasons.”  The image cut off. 

  I floated there thinking about the message.  I don’t know if there is a right message to send to a loved one on their way to Mars, but these were getting harder and harder to watch.  It was nice having a reminder of what was waiting at home, but as supportive as she was trying to be each message was just another reminder that I left them back there while I went off to be one of the first humans on Mars.  Instead of energizing me each time I watched on it felt like a knife was being twisted.  I put the tablet back on the charger.  I knew I needed to reply but it could wait for a while. 

  I made my way to the galley and found mission commander Norton and doctor Samuels sipping on champagne in pouches.  Commander Norton smiled at me and I could see by the expression on her face that she was already at very least tipsy.  Doc Samuels was much better at holding his alcohol and didn’t seem phased at all.  I greeted them both, “Celebrating the New Year?”

  “By trying to forget the old one,” commander Norton said as she held up her bag.  There was a sadness in her eyes that I had not seen before.

  “Are you Ok Genevieve?”  It wasn’t often that I used her first name, but I was asking the woman and not the commander.  On a mission like this differences like that seemed to matter more than ever before.  We needed to be more than crew we needed to be friends, family, and a support network.

  She sighed before starting and I could tell it was difficult to share.  “I got an e-mail from my fiance Lisa back on Earth.  The New Year got her thinking about her life and how she didn’t want to keep putting it on hold.  She found someone new.  Didn’t even dump me over over video, just sent me a text message.  Worst part is I can’t even blame her.  Twenty-one months is a long time to wait for someone.” 

  “Yeah it is.” She was voicing the deep dark concern that lived in my head whispering to me at my darked moments. 

  “Bullshit,”  the doc barked out.  “Sacrifice and dedication are just part of what you sign up when you are with us.  They all knew what they were getting into.  If they can’t handle it they are weak and we don’t need them in our lives.” 

  I felt like there was a story in what Doc was saying, but even after all this time I didn’t know him very well.  I didn’t know if he had anyone back home or not and I realized I wasn’t even sure where home was for him other than Earth.  He tossed me a bag of champagne and it floated into my hands.  He lifted his up.  “Enough of this self pity.  It is a new year and this is the year that we are going to make history.  Our names will be remembered forever and that is something to drink to.”

     I nodded and sucked a drink of champagne out of my bag.  I knew that he was right, but it felt like we were all on the edge of some sort of breaking point and I found myself just hoping we made history for the right reasons.

Sleepless Night

Fiction Fragment Friday

No major updates this week. I have started the editing process on my NaNoWriMo Novel Ricochet and returned to working on the Skies of Glass roleplaying game beta rules. Of course I am preparing for Christmas as well.

For this week I have a brand new short work for you. This one strikes a bit closer to reality than I care to admit.


  My arms flail, desperately trying to find anything to break my fall.  There is nothing, so I hit the floor hard.  I am lying on the side of my bed, grateful that I have missed my nightstand on the way down to the floor.  There is no blood this time, only the bruises that I can feel forming.  This is the worst way to wake up, but it is far from the first time I have experienced it. 

  Looking up over the edge of the queen sized bed, I see my Labrador Jack stretched out across the entire bed.  The feet that pushed me hanging over the edge.  The loud crashing sound of my plummet to the floor seems to have woken him because his tail is smacking the bed with a rhythmic thud.  As much as I want to be mad, he is just too adorable to stay upset with.  I reach down, rub his tummy, and give him a kiss on the head. 

     I move to my living room and settle into my recliner.  It is actually fairly comfortable and I can fall asleep easily in it.  As soon as I get comfortable, I hear the telltale sound of paws hitting the floor.  I sigh as forty pounds of dog leap through the air and land on my lap.  He is too big to be a lap dog, especially on a small recliner, but no matter how many times I tell him he just does not believe it.  As he curls up into a ball on my lap, I accept that this will be one of those nights where very little sleep will happen.  I pet my dog and settle into a long night.     

A Choice

Fiction Fragment Friday

First as a quick update I successfully won NaNoWriMo. I wrote a 50,000 word novel in November with a day to spare. That leaves me a lot of editing work, but this novel will be self published in 2021. Future novels I will shop around and try for a publisher, but Richocet will always be self published.

This weeks Fiction Fragment Friday is a Flash Fiction I just wrote. I am trying to do more of these just to improve my writing. I also have purchased Pro Writing Aid Premium and am using it to improve on my editing. So far I am impressed with the tool, but I have only used it a few time including on this story.


 I pulled into the intersection, not knowing that this one act would change my life forever.  The sun was shining, and the temperature was just perfect.  It was the type of morning that makes you regret not having the day off to spend outside.  I didn’t have the day off though, so I was driving in to work like every other weekday.  The intersection was the last one before the work parking lot, and by this point I was on autopilot.  It was just a typical Monday until I glanced over and saw the large pickup truck running a red light taking up my entire driver’s side window.  It was then that time froze.  

 When I say that time froze, I don’t mean that as a metaphor or some sort of cliche about my life flashing before my eyes.  Time literally froze.  Neither the truck nor my car was moving.  I looked out the front windshield and saw that the birds in the sky were just hanging there instead of flying.  A man on the sidewalk was staring at the wreck that was about to happen with wide eyes open.  He had dropped the fountain soda he had been holding, and it was hanging in midair.  I opened my door to get out of the car and the silence was staggering.  I had never experienced a true lack of sound before.  

 A bright blue light coming from the sky blinded me.  As it lowered approaching me, I could make out a man with a flowing blue cape at the center.  He glided down and landed effortlessly on the ground in front of me.  With the glow fading, I could make out a mostly scarlet red costume with a blue belt, boots, and cape.  There was a symbol of some sort on his chest, but I couldn’t figure out what it was trying to represent.  The man was larger than life, and I could feel the energy coming off of him in waves that nearly drove me back.  I said the first thing that came to mind.  “Are you an Angel?”

 The man laughed, but it didn’t sound like a pleasant laugh.  “I am no angel.”  He pointed to the truck.  “I’m the drunk driver behind the wheel of that vehicle.”

 “I don’t understand.” 

 “Your death is something I have never forgiven myself for.  The guilt drove me to be a better person and when I gained powers, it was the action I dedicated my life to redeeming.  Now I’m left with a dilemma I don’t feel I can decide.  I can stop this and save you, but if I do, all the people I have saved since getting my powers will die.  I need you to understand.”

 He touched my head and my mind filled with a lifetime of memories.  I saw the wreck from his eyes and witnessed my death.  Two years in prison filled my mind with moments of horror and moments of education.  He jumped from a bridge trying to kill himself and an alien energy bonded with him, both saving his life and turning him into the man that stood before me. His daughter had drawn the symbol he wore on his chest.  I saw ten years of lives being saved from disasters and violence, with an alien mind providing every face in crystal clarity.  I could feel their gratitude and love.  Complete understanding of the role he would play in the world was more than I could comprehend, but just what I could grasp was enough.  I felt his thoughts and knew that it had all happened because of guilt over my death.

 “Now you understand.  If you step over to the sidewalk you will live, but I will cease to be.  If you get back in the car, you will die.  The choice is yours because it is your life that would be forfeit.”

 Without hesitation, I got in my car and closed the door, pulling on my seatbelt.  My hands came up and gripped the steering wheel tightly, trying to fight off the shaking.  In my mind, I heard his voice one final time.  “I knew I chose correctly.”  A bright blue glow surrounded me as time flowed again.  I felt the impact of the truck and watched as my car wrapped around the front of it.  My windshield shattered, and it filled the inside of my car with glass.  The whole time the blue light surrounded me.  As the car came to a rest, I found myself with a car twisted around me but not a single scratch.  I felt the alien presence in my mind.  “With your willingness to sacrifice yourself, you will be an even greater hero than he was.”  My perception of the world was now filled with more colors, sounds, and smells then I could have ever imagined and I knew that my life would never be the same.    

Updates, Updates, Updates

Fiction Fragment Friday

I’m so happy to report that I am currently at 31,592 words on my Ricochet NaNoWriMo project. It has been an interesting experience just pushing myself to get the story out there. There will be a lot of edits and rewrites to come, but I think this might be a new method of writing for me. Plan, Outline, and then sprint my way to a first very rough draft just to have something to work with. It is exciting times for me.

Another announcement is that a Kickstarter has just gone live for a flash fiction project that I am included in. It is called Worth 1,000 Words and my story in it is based on one of my Skies of Glass: Metropolis characters that I created when I did serial fiction for a while. It works as a purely stand alone story with no setting needed, but adds some depth if you have read that. You can find and support it at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/brickcommajason/worth-1000-words-a-flash-fiction-anthology

With my announcements out of the way time for Fiction Fragment Friday. I struggled to pick something for this week. I didn’t want to just keep grabbing out of context parts of the Ricochet novel because I don’t want to share spoilers and it really will need some rewriting when it is done. So instead I’ve picked out a small section from the very first time I tried NaNoWriMo. I was in the middle of a datacenter move that year and failed miserably. The backstory here is that an event has occurred overnight that unleashed an EMP like effect killing all electronics in a small rural down.


There was only one grocery store in Silverton Missouri.  The town was far too small to attract a chain of any kind and most people didn’t mind driving the 20 miles to the next town over to shop.  Well, that isn’t entirely true, but there really wasn’t anything they could do about it so they at least accepted it.  The one store they did have was really nothing more than a convenience if you ran out of something at the last minute.  In fact, if it wasn’t for beer, cigarettes and lottery tickets it would have gone out of business years ago.  Even that couldn’t keep it open much longer.  In the entire store’s history, it had never had over five customers in it at any given time.  The middle-aged clerk certainly wasn’t ready for a line stretching down the street waiting for her to open.

“Sorry I’m late everyone, my car wouldn’t start this morning.  Just give me a few minutes to get set up and then I’ll unlock the doors.”  Jan tried to hide the fear in her voice.  She had never dealt with a crowd of this size and just kept wondering why they were all here.  The fact that the power was out in the store just made her even more nervous.  “Great, not only do I have a line from here to New York, but I have to check each one out by hand without the register.  I knew when my car didn’t start that I should have just stayed home this morning.”

Jan unlocked the door, and a flood of people came rushing in.  She was knocked back into a pyramid of soda cases and hit her shoulder on the way down.  “This morning just keeps getting better and better.”  The swarm of people continued to enter the store until there was barely enough room to turn around.  People were bumping into each other and the tensions just seemed to be growing.

“Everyone please just calm down!  I don’t know what is going on here, but this is still my store and I won’t have this kind of behavior in it.”  Jan rubbed her sore shoulder.  “We have seen our share of power outages around here before and you’ve never acted like this.”

One of the customers came over to help Jan up.  “You don’t understand.  All those times we were able to drive into Augustus and get supplies.  None of our cars are working this time.  Well, I have seen a few old, rusted trucks and Luke’s 69 Charger go by, but other than them nothing is on the road.  I don’t even know how that’s possible.” 

A young girl came over with her cell phone in her hand.  “Even weirder than that, everyone I’ve talked to has a dead cell phone.  Not like it isn’t picking up a signal, but like the batteries are dead.  It’s really weird and everyone is all freaked out.”  Suddenly a loud crash came from the bottled water isle.  “No way, Principal Anderson just decked Mr. Brown.”

Jan’s face had a look of fear as she watched what was unfolding in front of her.  “The police office is two blocks down; somebody get the sheriff now!”  She screamed as loudly as she could, but no one seemed to be listening.  Even if she would have been willing to leave her store the front door was blocked and the crowd was between her and the back door.  The screaming and shoving seemed to be intensifying by the second.  Jan turned to the man and the teen girl that had come over to help her.  “Look you two seem to be the only sane people around here right now.  If we don’t do something quickly to calm this crowd down that fight is going to turn into a riot and people are going to get hurt.”

The man who had helped Jan rushed behind the counter and grabbed the fire extinguisher from the wall.  Before Jan realized what was happening, he had unleashed a burst of it above the heads of the unruly crowd.  The deafening sound and falling white cloud shocked the crowd into attention.  “Look at yourselves.   We have been without power for less than a day and you are already going crazy.  Principal Anderson, how would you treat your students if they were behaving like this?  How would all of you treat your kids?  I know there are some strange things happening here, but this is unacceptable.  Look we don’t even know how widespread this is.  Now I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m going to head over to City Hall and try to come up with a plan to find out just what is going on and how far it reaches.” 

The crowd parted as he walked towards the doors.  He paused only long enough to hand Jan back her fire extinguisher and then he was on his way.   Jan watched in shock as half the crowd followed the stranger out the door and down the street.  She certainly didn’t envy the mayor, but at least he had the police force in the same building.  The remaining crowd rushed in to fill the vacuum created by those that left.  Jan realized that the crowd was far more than she could handle by herself.  She turned to the teenage girl still standing besides her.  “So what is your name?”

“Samantha”

“Hi Samantha, I’m Jan Williams.  How would you like a part time job?”

Fountain Drink

Fiction Fragment Friday

Hey everyone. Today will be day 13 of NaNoWriMo and I am currently at approximately 20,000 words. I have no doubt I will hit my word count today and continue to be on track to complete the challenge. I have been very happy with the story as it has developed and I can’t wait to get rewriting and editing. I’m sure some of these snippets I share for Fiction Fragment Friday will be shared again in an edited form months down the line. I wanted to share a scene today that is a bit more action oriented.


               I sat perched on the corner of a building looking down a convenience store.  I really wanted a fountain drink but this costume didn’t have pockets for money.  I was just about to give up on the idea when I saw a man step out of the alley and pull on a ski mask.  He was heading right for the front door of the store.  I smiled under my mask.  “Time to get to work.”

               The man stepped into the store and pulled his gun out of his pocket.  He aimed it right at the clerk.  “Empty the register now and if you reach for anything else I’ll blow your brains out.”

               Leaping from the roof my mind was racing trying to come up with something witty to say to announce myself.  I slipped in the door trying to be as quiet as possible.  I wanted to and make a memorable entrance.  It didn’t matter if there were only two people to witness it I needed the practice if I was going to be a big time hero.  What I didn’t know was that the door had one of those chimes on it so the moment it opened the robber spun around and leveled his gun on me.  I leapt on instinct and just barely missed being shot as the bullet shattered the glass front door.  I did a twisting somersault and landed behind the gunman facing his back.  As he turned I grabbed his gun arm with my left hand to keep it facing away and then punched him in the face with my right fist.  He flew through the air and smashed into a spinning rack of potato chips destroying it.  His gun clattered on the floor next to me.

               It was hard to make out his words when he spoke,  “You bastard.  I think you broke my nose.”  He went to get up, but I did a spinning kick and hit him in the stomach.  Grabbing the chip rack I bent it around him as a restraint. 

               I looked back at the clerk who was wide eyed.  “Uhm thanks, but did you have to break the door and rack?  Do you know how much that will cost?”

               “Oh come on insurance has to cover that and the door is totally his fault.”

               “Yeah but I bet they will raise the premiums.  Still he could have shot me so I guess I do owe you.  Any way I can say thanks?”

               “Oh yeah, a 32oz Dr. Pepper would be the perfect thank you.”

               “Oh, uhm sure go ahead.  You do know that’s just something people say to be polite.  They don’t actually expect you to take them up on it.”

        I grabbed a cup and started filling it with the crushed ice.  I moved it to the Dr. Pepper spout.  “Hey you offered.  Don’t go offering if you don’t mean it.”  I stuck the straw in and pulled the cup up to take a drink.  The straw poked into my mask instead of going in my mouth.  “Aw damn.  Ok, I think you got this from here,  I gotta bounce.”

               “You are just going to leave me here with him until the police get here?”

               “What can I say,  I’m thirsty.”  I stepped through the broken front door without opening it and leapt up to the roof.  I found my perch on the corner, lifted my mask so I could drink, and kept a watch over the store until the police got there.  As they were loading him into the car my straw started making the annoying slurping sound of an empty cup.  “Ahhh.  A drink well earned.”  I tossed the cup off the roof at a trashcan and was kind of surprised when it actually went in on the first try.  “Oh yeah three point shot.”  I jumped around making cheering sounds.   

               As I started home I found myself singing.  The theme song from the Gummi Bears, or at least it’s chorus, had somehow gotten into my head so I made a theme song for myself out of it.   

“Ricochet
Bouncing here and there and everywhere
Super hero beyond compare
He is the Ricochet”

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