This winter weather is making me crazy (ok, I didn't start from a sane baseline, but STILL!!!)
A writing contest can at least give some purpose to this madness!
The usual rules apply:
1. Write a story using 100 words or fewer.
2. Use these words in the story:
The usual rules apply:
1. Write a story using 100 words or fewer.
2. Use these words in the story:
3. You must use the whole word, but that whole word can be part of a larger word. The letters for the
prompt must appear in consecutive order. They cannot be backwards.
Thus: ice/mice is ok, but blow/below is not
4. Post the entry in the comment column of THIS blog post.
5. One entry per person. If you need a mulligan (a do-over) erase your entry and post again. It helps to work out your entry first, then post.
6. International entries are allowed, but prizes may vary for international addresses.
7. Titles count as part of the word count (you don't need a title)
8. Under no circumstances should you tweet anything about your particular entry to me. Example: "Hope you like my entry about Felix Buttonweezer!" This is grounds for disqualification.
9. It's ok to tweet about the contest generally.
Example: "I just entered the flash fiction contest on Janet's blog and I didn't even get a lousy t-shirt"
10. Please do not post anything but contest entries. (Not for example "I love Felix Buttonweezer's entry!")
11. You agree that your contest entry can remain posted on the blog for the life of the blog. In other words, you can't later ask me to delete the entry and any comments about the entry at a later date.
12. The stories must be self-contained. That is: do not include links or footnotes to explain any part of the story. Those extras will not be considered part of the story.
Contest opens: Saturday 2/27/16 9:56am
Contest closes: Sunday 2/28/16 10am
If you're wondering how much time you have before the contest closes:
How long till the contest closes?
If you'd like to see the entries that have won previous contests, there's
an .xls spread sheet here
(Thanks to Colin Smith for organizing and maintaining this!)
Questions? Tweet to me @Janet_Reid
Rats! Too late. Contest is closed.
Mentally I kicked myself as the plan seemed to blow away like a spring snow. Her death was only three more miles away but it seemed like half the population of Canada was in the way. It seemed that the chill from the ice in my veins penetrated her though. She smiled.
“I am sorry that I stole your pictures but I needed to get past my old life. I will make it up to you. Turn here.”
I turned and that road made all the difference.
Her death: her death got hungry and exploded trying to eat a gator.
Teeth chilled; jarring. I breathe out through iced lips to warm them, a whistle of colorful vapor escapes. My head aches. A momentary stabbing pain, then euphoria. I can’t wait to do it again.
The compulsion started decades ago; it was spring, I was fifteen, and the carnival came to town. Funnel cakes frying in vats of smoking oil, squeals of kids on spinning rides, and Steppenwolf’s “Magic Carpet Ride” punctuated the muggy night air and me and Eddy behind the Tilt-a-Whirl.
“Here, take a bite.”
My first bite of a grape snow cone.
The paper was soft, folded once, the ink pale. Emma’s great-aunt Alice had written ‘Springerle, Lilli’s favourite’. Emma didn’t know a Lilli; she wasn’t family. Inside, a different script, brighter ink.
Four eggs. Two lumps of butter.
A letter, woven into the recipe.
I dream about your lips now. How soft, how comforting your kiss.
Chill dough overnight.
I miss you. It was dumb, lowering myself to marry him. I was a coward.
Roll a second time with patterned roller.
I have a ticket to Montreal. See you soon. Love, Lilli.
Emma didn’t know a Lilli.
In the cave of forgotten beasts, we found among the tangled skeletons strange word paintings dated with Centuries and which speak of an Achilles and Living Dreams; Wormy tables with wiry wares called Mattress Springs for an activity called Easy Living; Contraptions that blow air for wings. We are not sure how these strange beasts came to be utterly deceased. At first we posited their demise might be this word Lies, but we were mistaken, as now we realize Lies is how they survived. Now we believe the answer lies in a word we are yet to precisely define: Nice
A chill split my spine. The lights dimmed. Onstage, the show began. An electric thrill ran through me - crackling, sparking.
He was some actor. Blown all our savings. Slammed my head on the bedsprings. Now he performed - a marionette.
Jumping, twisting, he danced on invisible wires. They’d been searching for someone to star in this little drama - a derelict killer of thirteen girls. He’d looked the part, so I filled the bill - went to the police, cooked up some tears.
Beyond the glass, he took a final bow as the current died. My eyes, dry as they pulled the curtain.
Lucky saw the luger on the table, and everything came back in hazy shades of gray. He sat up, the bed springs creaking as he pulled a ratty blanket across his shoulders against the chill. Swinging his legs out, he briefly studied the wound grazing the four aces on his bicep before walking to the window. The blowing snow barely disguised the mound out by the farmhouse.
He didn’t dare light a fire lest any patrolling Stukas notice the smoke. A half-filled tumbler of calvados sat on the rickety table. Not even any ice, he thought. Goddamn French. No fucking culture.
My stepdad beat our dog.
Mom says small men gotta compensate somehow (She’s got lotsa sayings. Says one day I’ll learn em).
Now I watch him dice the drift at the bottom of our driveway by hand, ignoring the idling snow-blower parked behind him. Maybe he’s still compensating.
Our dog never learns. Out there in the chill, beside the blower, watching like a loyal soldier.
. . .then her haunches slide. Just enough.
The blower’s footbrake releases. The machine springs forward, blades churning like hungry monster teeth.
I hear mom again: “Every dog has . . .”
Guess everybody’s learning something today.
“Ice her. Blow her away.”
“Chill, she’s just a kid.”
“You gots to have ice yer veins succeed this biz, bro. Spring to it. Do her.”
“Jeez. Was nothin’, dude. She copped a baggie of snow’s all.”
“Naw, man. C’mon.”
“Hey, girl. You know you done wrong.”
“Please. I gots no choice.”
“We all gots choices. You stiffed me for my scag. Bad choice. Now yer tickets punched.”
Slide racked. “Gone, baby, gone.”
“That was cold. This ain’t fer me, bro.”
Racked slide. One to the head.
Walking away. A shrug. “The cost of doing business.”
Before he leaves her Foster care, Sara cradled him once more; a court order, he's going home, now. Twice the social worker attempted to coax him, but he clung tighter.
Sara uncurled his small fingers from her sweater as his mournful cry tore through her soul.
"Call you soon- got three girls coming on Thursday!" The social worker carried him out to her car, his little body hiccupping soft sobs. Blowing snow chilled the early spring air.
"Okay," Sara murmured, closing the door.
It took less than ten minutes to say goodbye.
He won't remember. But she won't forget.
She pulled her chinchilla coat closer. "Are you sure he's dead? He came back before."
"He is now. The shadblow is blooming. That's a sure sign. I told you it was safe to come out."
"That would be nice. I'm ready for sunshine and flowers." She sneezed, cursing the cold and looked up at the snowy blossoms. White fluff drifted around her, kissing her cheek. She frowned.
Winter leapt out of the tree, covering her with snow.
Spring screamed and fled, arms flailing.
"Really, Winter? Did you have to do that? Now she won't come back for weeks."
Slippery as hell our winter chilled our souls.
Not for sissies, this iced plateau of hurts, spring-loaded with insults.
Our winter left an imprint. But
We agreed to part as friends
Making our way into the world separately.
And then his bitterness
Gained momentum and he guaranteed retribution for
Every mythical offense that
Danced in his delusional head,
Deliriously blown out of proportion.
Only the ice on the steps
Necessitated a change in plans.
“You got any blow?” Jennae found him in the bathroom, picking a scab on his chin.
“Chill,” said Jimmy, meeting her eyes in the reflection, “It’ll be here. Randy’s on his way.”
“Ugh, yeah right. That’ll be hours,” she said, kicking the doorstop and watching it spring back to position.
Jimmy sighed and examined another blemish, “I’ve got some ice on the table by the bed.”
Before she could comment, she felt a hand squeeze her on the backside.
“You miss me, baby?” Randy dangled a baggie.
“Only if you’re going to make it snow,” she said, snatching it.
It seemed to happen in slow motion.
The car. The ice patch.
Jill. Her groceries.
Our steaks. My favorite wine.
The rose-colored snow.
A chill wind blowing through my veins.
White knuckles around the steering wheel.
Spring bouquet on the seat beside me.
Surprise! I’m taking the rest of the day off.
There're whispers now behind me. A sob, low and muffled, escapes my mouth before the organ moans its first note. The clasp ring in my hand burns memories into my heart.
He loved gnocchi, llamas, and baseball; I loved him more than life.
"Can I walk home, mom?"
My heart said no, but he was ten. I couldn't baby him forever.
I tousled his hair. "Careful crossing the streets."
He smiled, joined friends.
When sirens pierced the late afternoon, I knew.
I added more spices to dinner. A moment of hope, of reprieve, before reality set in.
“My house doesn’t have rats, it has mice,” said Ian.
“But that one over there’s dead and rotting … it reeks!” responded Ian’s visiting neighbor.
Ian won’t blow a dime on anything; case in point: his ceiling is bowed inward due to a heavy spring snowfall but it hasn’t fallen to the living room floor yet so, “It’s chill.”
“But Ian, see those maggots in that carcass? That’s as ghetto as it gets. You need an exterminator before you catch some kinda rat virus.”
“Mouse, not rat.”
“Stupid-ass cheapskate, not smart guy.”
I once loved a woman. Welp, that’s what I thought it was.
Met at a Bob Dylan concert. A daggone magical first date.
She smiles now and chills snake down my arms. “Kiss me, Bill?” she croons. Sarcastic, ‘cause she knows I know.
“Ain’t no use c-calling out my name, gal,” I voice. It’s a lie. My heart’s cracking.
She springs. I point the umbrella at that rictus. Custom made, blowtorch ‘n’ all. Don’t think twice, soothes my practical side. It’s all right.
I mean, she ain’t a woman, exactly.
I gave her my heart, but she wanted my brain.
My lips brush her forehead. “Yes, Nanna. It’s Shelly.” I frown a little at the lipstick I’ve left behind. I plunk my carnations into a vase and adjust the card. Her bedsprings creak behind me.
“Ssnow-ice,” she forces out, hands fluttering.
“They are nice, aren’t they?” I hope this isn’t going to be one of those chatty days.
I sigh and fetch a blanket from the cupboard.
As I wrap it around her thin shoulders, she lurches forward. I blink at the knife stuck in my belly.
I fall. She intones, clear as a bell:
“You never listen.”
Hand at ten, hook at two. Joseph drove, phone in lap.
“Hey Joe, whaddaya know?” Erica said.
“Got primo snow."
“80 degrees outside, fam.”
“Watch for ice.” Joseph's hook speared a drumstick.
“Got somethin’s gonna blow your mind.” Joseph parked. Put a baggie with the chicken, hot, greasy, fulla love.
Joseph left the RV, spring in step. First on the right.
“Wait, someone’s at the door.” Open sesame.
Joseph hung up. Handed over the chicken.
“Would you like to purchase some cocaine?”
Erica grinned around a wing already in her mouth.
“Why dincha say so? Netflix and chill?”
We see them on the stage, their faces red,
Those blowhards who know only how to blow
A soul-destroying wind of fear and dread
That buries reason in a bitter snow.
Can moderators ever moderate
The raging storm? Can anyone entice
A warming trend to elevate debate?
Will nothing ever stop the heartless ice?
All meaning disappears in arctic frost.
The shouting just crescendos, loud and shrill.
All thought of governing or leading's lost.
Can there be anything to end this chill?
One day there'll be a victor in the ring,
And in November there may come a spring.
At night, the head zookeeper turned the ignition in the zoo go-kart and sped through the dim habitats. Sometimes her bosses would spring questions on her: Why do you stay? Aren't your talents wasted here?
She said: I like it.
Why's the go-kart's gas tank always only half full?
She answered in a chilly tone. Because we're on budget.
But she'd never name the real reason: blowing past sleeping cages at 40mph and yelling at the shadows to play nice, when her responsibilities stopped snowing her in and she could howl into the darkness, the last king of the jungle.
History Final Exam
First 6am. Sonny sings “I got you babe.”
Chill wind blows snow. Rains in California.
Phil sees no shadow. Spring.
Second 6am. Sonny sings “I got you babe.”
Cubs win World Series.
Phil sees shadow. No spring.
Third 6am. Sonny sings “I got you babe.”
Cable guy arrives.
Phil loses shadow. Never spring.
Fourth 6am. Sonny sings “I got you babe.”
Dena's novel publishes.
Phil chips ice from Satan's pitchfork.
Fifth 6am. Sonny finishes “I got you babe.”
Ford and Arthur board Heart of Gold.
Q1: Today's date?
Q2: What happens next?
Q3: Ultimate answer?
She was such a pig. Rude, self-centered, with a glare that had its own windchill. But I saw through it all and loved her anyway. I was hers. Now, I’m not perfect either. But if I could find a way, why couldn’t she love me, warts and all?
How did I blow it? I thought I could move on. Tried other men, disasters one and all. Animal, weirdo, even that grouch from down the street. I pick up the phone. I just need to hear his voice.
My heart does handsprings. “Kermie?”
Radiating from the fang-shaped puncture in his arm, the poison snaked through his veins. As the warming sensation spread, Mahmoud remembered the wind blowing across the dunes of his beloved Sahara and the cool springwater at the oasis. He turned toward his enemy, the infidel man-serpent responsible for the wound, and spoke softly.
“You’ve killed me without understanding. The bomb…my destiny…Allah—”
The sand turned to snow, the water to ice, as Mahmoud felt the final chill of the toxic cocktail.
“Time of death 12:17 a.m.,” the executioner said. “May God have mercy on your soul.”
Sawdust fairgrounds, popcorn in the air, lights a-twinkle.
“Place your bets now!” Me, the carnival barker, unrecognizable to my former hometown heroes.
“This blows.” The typical recalcitrant teen.
“Can’t you just be nice?” The mother, head cheerleader. “Honey, you don’t have to do this.” A test of strength. Strike the springboard hard enough to ring the bell.
“It’s no big deal.” The father was once solid muscle, class of ‘00, all-star quarterback. Locker room terror. Chills spark down my spine as he two-hands the mallet over his head, slams it down.
If the bell rang, the explosion drowned it out.
“I’ve always loved the cold and snow,” Cortana whispered into Sergei’s ear as she grabbed his hand and led him beneath the pines.
The normally stoic Russian stalked along after his apple cheeked leader, the fierce wind blowing from the north. He paid no attention to the chill around them since the fire inside burned bright hot.
The giant man’s hand crushed the more petite as he pulled her roughly to him, desire overcoming reason. Panic raced across Cortana’s face as the she caught his gaze; there was nothing but ice behind it. They would not find her until spring.
Brrrr, that spiced daiquiri has chilled my sinus so bad, snow would spring forth if were to blow my nose. The water looks inviting, think I'll chance a dip to cool off later, if that scorching sand isn't too hot for my tender feet.
The old man eyed me when I stumbled, lost, into his gold diggings shanty, “You alone?”
“Yeah,” I nodded, as snow slid off me, onto his tools.
“Helluva blow, ice your bones. Have some soup.”
I slurped soup while he rambled the room. His back turned, I grabbed the shovel, swung it up into his skull. Blood flew but there’s no stink in the chill of winter.
I dragged the body out, weighted it with scrap iron from his yard, slid it into the river.
He wouldn’t be found until spring.
I would be long gone with the gold.
All night, rain pounded overhead.
Dampness seeped into the dirt around them.
Huddled together in the dark, they whispered.
“It’s now, I tell you.”
“Are you sure? Maybe if we climb low, look for ice.”
“I don’t know where you blew in from, but here in Texas, it’s time."
First one, and then the other, bravely poked a head out into the chilly, spring air.
Sun filled them with warmth.
A leaf unfolds.
Her sharp tongue sculpted ice words into the air between them. She stung him with articulacy; his frostbitten ears beamed with each syllable's cold precision. He wished he could warm her wintry spite, but castrated by the chill of criticism, the boy retreated to the garden.
The surprise of the spring sunshine on his face reminded him of what he was. He would find his own peace.
Blowing hot air through his lips now, he drew a songbird from the sky, then two... three... until a flock of sweet sounds drowned out sour notes, to become a kind of silence.
She was only fourteen.
Came in with four others, all DOA, on a snowless February night.
“It’s difficult, but you have considered organ donation?”
We placed her on life support. Such beautiful red hair.
Her mother held her chill hand.
“Can I stay ‘till the end? Please?” Nice lady.
“I love you, sweetie. I love you so much.” The machines whirred. Tears dropped onto streaks of blood.
Then the girl squeezed her hand.
“Good God!” gasped the doctor.
We knew that to be true. Our minds are blown and hope springs.
She is only fourteen.
Snow was everywhere.
The whole room covered in it.
And six dead bodies on ice.
“Fuck,” Agent Schilling said. “Roof’s blown to smithereens.”
Like Agent Royce’s marriage.
“Assholes spent more this Spring’n I’ve made in twenty-six years,” Royce scoffed.
Schilling grabbed a fistful of snow. “What’s it worth?”
“A fortune. But money alone’s no excuse for murder.” Royce unclipped his sidearm. “Saw my wife yesterday.”
“Yeah?” Schilling offered, back turned.
“At the Lonely Cactus Motel… With you.”
“You don’t think…” Schilling’s DEA jacket made it halfway around, incredulous, as he prognosticated,
Chilled with fever, his cracked lips bleeding, Kali waited all day at the edge of the market. Under the fiery spring sunshine, vendors kept a watchful eye on their goods, shooing other street devils away. At dusk, he stole from his hiding spot and claimed a few coins from an easy mark.
Did he dare nick a handful of juicy iced snow berries?
A second of indecision cost him a blow to the head. The taste of dust and scalding blood, then nothing. He awoke to cool sheets, but terror pinched every nerve. Heaven, or a worse form of Hell?
Nate was as young as his candidate, but all spring had gone out of his step. “Trump hasn’t a snowball’s chance in hell,” he’d assured the Florida team last summer. Now Marco was sweating bullets during the debates, and trailing in his home state.
Tap-water ice melted washy brown into his lukewarm tea, Nate mulled blown opportunities to attack the mogul hard in the early going.
He recalled the time he’d been a guest at Mar-a-Lago, purging toxins in the sauna center when chilly staffers came and cleared the area in anticipation of the Donald’s arrival.
Perspiration, desperation, déjà vu.
It blows unremitting as if God himself is determined to keep us from our destination.
Trapped, we await Spring at Starved Camp, ice covered, chilled.
We are but bones!
Boiling rawhide only stirs our hunger, yet even the weakest remain immersed in forlorn hope.
When the dead tempt, we ask each other, is it so wicked to want to survive?
We wait, repulsed by ghastly urgings, until we can wait no more.
We commence on Jay Fosdick.
We cannot look at one another.
When First Relief arrives, they hardly dare look at us either.
We survivors of hell.
Spring blows in like a boxer,
knocks me out.
Winter’s chill replaced by searing heat,
T-shirts and flip-flops,
ice cream cones that mock me with their
staining the sidewalks
with strawberry blood.
Nothing for the likes of us here.
Summer’s no place for a snowman.
Ren clutched her thin sweater close against the chill.
At least it wasn't snowing. Yet.
She shuffled down the street by the park, waiflike as possible. Pretty and lost.
Two circuits so far, eliciting unwanted offers of help, of money. They weren't her prey.
One more circuit. Two? Spring was coming, and hunting season would be over.
A van pulled up. Gray. Unassuming. It had passed twice already.
"Hey, need a lift?"
Ren smiled at the balding man in the driver's seat. Cheri would've trusted him.
Ren's feet were cold, her heart was ice, and her Glock was ready.
There’s no way I’m going in there. It’ll just make him angrier.
I tell myself this: maybe … they’ll just talk this time. Maybe little Theo can say he’s sorry enough – well enough – to make that hellish fury blow over.
My husband can be reasonable. Sometimes.
I stand, my hands clenching the rim of the sink – a precipice. I lean into it.
I hear Theo’s voice turn desperate: Please! I’m sorry! Dad!
A chill goes down me. I stare at a wet steak knife, willing myself to spring into action, to run toward that room. To do something.
Snow? What snow? While Easterners whined about their horrible winter, here in Montana even the most stubborn patches of ice were nearly gone. Later, the wind would blow, but the chill was a small price to pay for an early spring while newborn calves were slithering into the world, slimy and wobbling on their stick legs.
I leaned against the barn and absorbed the sunshine, pushing away visions of dry, cracked earth and shriveled hay fields. Sixty in February? Downright unnatural. Might as well enjoy it, though, and deal with the consequences later if the critical moisture never came.
“Jim Winter, King of Creams.”
I shake his hand. Like the clothes he wears, it’s wrinkled and stained.
We discuss his most famous creations: Watergate Melon (top-secret recipe with an implosion of peach). Chernobyl Cherry (dotted with glow-in-the-dark maraschinos). Alzheimer’s Dream (tutti-frutti ice mixed with chocolate old people and lots of nuts).
“AARP gave that one a chilly review,” he chuckles.
“What about Blowfish Bubblegum?”
“It killed several people.”
His eyes spring wide. “It was clearly labeled! ‘Consume At Your Own Risk.’”
I strap down his snow-white head and flip the switch. “Guess the FDA didn’t agree.”
A cold wind blows across the tundra. The Explorer barely notices inside his heated suit. He looks at the glowing screen in his hands, sighs. The chill air of the Ice Wastes was draining his mapping tablet’s battery. Can't have that, not when a good ten percent of his cartographical data hasn't backed up. He should find a thermal spring to charge his battery and replenish his heat source. He keeps walking. Is it just in his head, or is it getting colder inside the suit? Maybe a little rest to run diagnostics. Just for a minute. So much snow.
Blowing sparks, he lit his pipe. “Weight loss is a sign. I like girls with meat.”
She scratched under an arm, claws gleaming. “You got skinny, I didn’t complain.”
He grabbed his scarf. “You never get out of bed.”
“You liked that.” She bared her teeth, coquette’s smile.
He adjusted his hat, hiding glittering black eyes. “Heading north. Ice in the veins, baby.”
She sniffed for chill winds. All she could smell was snowmelt, spring. Love can warm the coldest heart, but nothing stops April thaw. Such snowcrossed lovers. Grizzly Mama and the Snowman, Tundra Romeo and his Yukon Juliette.
Snow flurries tickled frozen glass, ice seared the already dead to the floors of bombed-out ruins. As the sirens slumbered, a few hardy souls braved the chill, dragged their latest losses to the communal pits, recited the briefest of prayers.
Dmitri had suffered the heaviest blow and was now burying the last of his family. But he could not leave. She was his little girl and he could not abandon her. Instead he crept down by her side and wrapped his arms around her. Together they would wait for spring to come to Leningrad.
Overwhelming debt, and the chill of loneliness, had me heading north during a 100 year ice storm.
Go the way you know, they say in Maine. It’s easy to get lost, easy to become stranded, easy to be forgotten, especially if there is no one to remember you.
I took a shortcut.
“Gas tank empty.”
Tracks in the snow and the memory of who I was - blown away.
Bleak beyond belief.
My will to live Shawshanked my want to die.
I am warm, far-away free and new.
I’ve never seen snow
I imagine it fluttering
like cherry blossoms
amid California’s autumn leaves
and spring flowers.
We go to Wyoming to see a true winter,
with brown-packed slush, and bitter chill.
My wet boot collapses through the ice,
and not one speck of white falls from the sky.
We return, and our neighbors show us pictures.
Flutters of California snow, while we were gone.
A centennial rarity.
It was night or early morning. Lucy was running.
Earlier, it had snowed and a thin powder covered the ground. She’d already slipped once on the ice, been unable to stop a sideways lurch, ill-timed, into a cold flowing spring.
She needed to be more careful. They were behind her still, too close.
Pushing herself, she ran faster, away from them.
She heard a man’s amplified voice, a blow to her ears. Felt a hard pull from behind.
"We have our winner! Team ‘Lucky Lucy’ for their third Iditarod win!”
Hearing her name, Lucy wagged her tail.
Oran sat cross legged on the linoleum floor, fixated on the oracle in front of him.
The eye of the machine, shaped like the mouth of a blow-up doll, consumed him. It kept his mind focused and stopped him from thinking about the car crash that turned his brain to soggy rice.
Outside, snow coated the windows like the THC on Oran’s lungs.
He thought it was spring.
Weed had always been his achilles heel.
I lay between flannel sheets, under a down comforter, chilled to my decaying, cancerous bones.
I would be dead by spring.
A nor'easter predicted.
The wind would blow the snow into drifts, tree limbs would wear a thick coating of ice.
I lay in a white room, gazing at the white storm through rime-encrusted windows.
I lay in a cold, white emptiness. It filled my mind. It saturated my spirit.
White skies turned blue, snow to dead grass and mud.
The wind ripped and tore the first daffodils.
The pain ripped and tore my body apart.
They took my boy and made him a (murderer) martyr. They chopped off his hair, propped his jellied legs with dynamite, and chained him to the supports of a skyscraper office. He didn’t wear his new red coat; he wore a trench, ill fitted over the wires, boxes, and springs.
The snow (ash) falls. The wind blows it away.
Not a single soul escaped. Judges 16:30.
His ‘brothers’ honor him with celebration. I scour the ‘net for a kind of recipe to bring. Vengeance is mine, sayeth the mother.
It'll be a blast.
What ever happened to Delilah, anyway?
Waves shred into Christmas trees when the gales of March howl.
When winter snow blows a chill and ice, spring is a distant memory.
Dead peer at newly painted hulls and wonder.
Remains cold enough to stay?
"Go blow it out your ass!" She ended the call with an angry finger.
A warm breeze off the Gulf of Mexico danced across her still pale skin. She shuddered at the thought of snow in New York City.
When was her last real vacation? Spring 2012? He had asked her to cut that one short, too.
She stirred the ice in her vodka tonic with an elegant pinky then slid it in and out of her mouth.
She dialed the phone.
He was sullen.
“Chill, Sam. I’ll be there. But the price has doubled.”
Snow was only an excuse to not attend the school planning meeting. True, after multi-tasking with the snow shovel, it bit the big one. But that wasn't why.
Sickened by repeatedly listening to Danny's blow of know-it-all tidbits, it was all I could do to not chill him on ice then and there. And let's not forget his predilection to luring young girls to take a spin in his red man-part sports car. Maggot.
Nope, snow wasn't the reason for avoiding people. I just didn't want to be there when the questions began.
Let the spring thaw reveal the answers.
I once told you that I hated winter. You told me that there was nothing wrong with a little cold, and that without it, we couldn’t have snow. Then I told you I hated that too. The thing is, I had nothing but my coat to protect me from the wind’s blow. My fingers turning to ice without the warmth of your touch.
I wanted the chill I always felt when you held me. I wanted you to bring me back to those days when I had you. But now you are someone else’s spring.
The homeless woman slumps on the park bench, mutters through lips cracked by winter's chill. She scratches her head with both hands. Lice scurry. Skin flakes fall like snow on her ratty fur coat. Her stink blows Travis sideways.
Pickings are usually slim. Travis grins. Not today. He rifles through her cart for stuff to sell.
Something warm, wet gulps his hand. A tongue, all pulse and sinew, winds around his wrist, an asp ringing its prey. Teeth strip his fingers' flesh, crunch the bones. Travis screams. Those, too, are swallowed.
Pickings are usually slim. The woman grins. Not today.
Blood drips like those cherry snow cones we shared as kids. Back when life was simple. Before Mom’s death and Dad’s addiction. Before my fuck-ups and our big blow-up. “You made your choice,” he said when I hit bottom, cutting ties.
Now he’s the esteemed judge, and I’m an elusive hitman. But once we were equals, just brothers slurping down slush.
I got the call after the verdict.
“All you had to do was take the bribe and spring the guy. You made your choice.”
Chillingly familiar eyes plead with me. I look away and finish the job.
I tightly grip my suitcase as I peer out the window.
The fence has concealed the huge white mound for months, but time is running out. Warmer temperatures will soon make the ground thaw.
Luck was with me this winter. Record breaking snowfalls were my best friend.
He shouldn’t have crossed me.
The pick went into his skull almost too easily. I knew ice sculpting was a good hobby.
The chilly March wind blows, caressing my face as I close the door behind me.
Spring will soon breathe life into everything.
What a surprise the landlord will have.
Eighty years of life I had.
But take back one for her silhouette seen through snow-flecked hair and nothing said.
Take back five for patient kindness met with taunting blows.
Take back ten for cowardice only she knows.
Take back fifteen for wilting achilleas on our wedding day.
Take back twenty for a child born in spring whom I never saw.
I regret it all.
My beautiful squandered life.
My legs walk me to the front of the room.
Judy winces. Uh oh. Maybe this is a bad idea.
“Ahem. Anytime the snow would blow, the ice would chill his thing. I mean spring.”
What? How could the ice chill anyone’s spring? What am I even talking about? Clearly I should not have dropped acid before this poetry reading. It further occurs that I have no business attempting a poetry reading in the first place.
But that’s where Judy is every Tuesday. Not the first time I’ve tried to win her back. Smart money says it’s not my last.
I celebrate Halloween with a loaded gun hiding beneath the treats, waiting for the doorbell.
Ring. A ghost. Candy.
Ring. Sexy vampire. A condom.
Ring. Elsa and Anna from Frozen. Candy.
Ring. Rob Lowe mask. Candy-flavored condom.
Ring. Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Coffee Crisp.
Ring. A semi-sexy witch. I'll be safe and go with condom.
Ring. Lord Voldemort. A Chocolate Frog. And a condom.
(Do we really need more villains running around town?)
Ring. My stalker, as himself. Restraining order.
Ring. My stalker, again. A slammed door.
Ring. My stalker, persistently.
The time is now.
Spring seemed so far away with the chill of the winter’s snow and ice. Kila wished it would end, but was glad for time alone with George at the cabin. She was waiting for his return with supplies for their get away. Kila put another log on the fire and went about preparing for his arrival. She neglected to replace the safety screen. A scarf hung too low, on the mantle, and caught. The cabin went ablaze. Kila perished, never knowing, George was in the back seat of his charger with another woman’s face in his lap.
Orangel Brown hated me because I arrested her son three weeks ago, despite her pleadings. I told her, “Ma’am, I uphold the laws.”
Now, I investigate a gang-related homicide--LeMon Brown, a blow to the head.
As she clutches his chilling body in the street, Orangel wails to the universe, “Why ain’t nobody doin’ nothing?!”
The others investigators make noises about calling it an accident--a fatal slip on the ice. I kneel by her and lay a hand on her arm. “Ma’am, you know I uphold the laws. All of them.”
Softness springs in her eyes.
Outside, the wind howls, snow masks the yard light a mere ten feet from the front door. My infant daughter squirms in my arms, blowing a raspberry. Clear tubing trails back to the oxygen compressor that keeps her alive. If ice builds up on the power lines, she's in trouble. We have a generator, but it means a cold walk to the garage. The window whistles and a chill shoots up my spine. Hugging my daughter closer as the lights flicker, I look at the countdown calendar our oldest daughter made in school: twenty-five days til spring.
For the first time since ACHILLes died, Mort had a SPRING in his step. Not wanting to hear his mom BLOW more smoke about Achilles being in a better place, he’d snuck out while she doctored her ICEd tea.
One shadow instead of two. A familiar walked turned lonely. He reached the overlook and stared at the waves pounding the rocks below.
Achilles loved coming here. Fetching sticks, chasing shorebirds, biting waveS. NO Way was he in ‘better place’. This was Achilles’ favorite spot.
Same for Mort. He climbed over the rail and smiled, then took one more step.
The sun finally appeared after a long absence, coating me in a warm glow. After a week of constant snow it was invigorating. Oh how I longed for spring. I savored one last look at my home before trudging to the waiting car out front. I slid in the back seat, not making eye contact with the driver. The blowing wind shutting my door for me. A chill ran through me not only from the weather but at the thought of what I was agreeing to. Ice filled my veins but it was too late to turn back now.
His now-famous words, designed to entice the angry, the fearful, the aggrieved to spring into action, might end up his Achilles heel. The quiet blowback, hailed around the world, “Instead—build bridges.” gives him pause for a moment.
Was he wrong?
Did he miscalculate?
Should he change his message?
Those closest to him shake their heads.
“Not at all!”
Grinning, he dons his hat and steps to the mic.
“Now it will be: Ten. Feet. Taller!”
And the crowd roars…
I’ve always believed in magic. I once put a hat on Frosty’s bald head. When he didn’t immediately dance around, I assumed it was due to some secret snowman code. Surely, he would do it later, probably at night, when no humans could see.
Hospice. That’s the place they send you to die. I’ve always kept hope that this disease will magically blow away. But alas, believing in magic always was my Achilles heel. And I’m left with nothing more than Frosty’s useless hat on my own bald head. I guess it really can’t spring anyone to life after all.
Defiant, I celebrate memories of Spring: shoots of a bulb low to the ground, buds now unfurling, intrepid bright flowers, on this remote epic hill where he abandoned me.
I stopped walking, shivering an hour ago. Or was it yesterday?
Chilled by sub-zero temps, I punch through the ice layer, burrow into soft snow.
Eyelashes frozen together. Too bright to open eyes anyway.
Sun on my face. So warm.
Remove hat and gloves. Tropical breeze blows hair. Sifted white sand soothes fingers. Like our honeymoon.
Fumble with zipper. Discard jacket.
My winter is over.
Ah, Spring, I've missed you. Welcome.
You’re a good dog, they’d say between scratches.
Come, here—the dinner plate’s all yours now. Come, look—your favorite spot on their bed.
Hold on, boy, they’d warn between leash tugs. Hold on, come back! The scent blows too strong.
Stop, wait. The spring in your step slows now. Stop, sit. There’s a chill in your bones.
Who’s this old boy? they say between glances. Home? No. You’ve been astray too long.
Stay, no—leave him outside, dear. Down, there—a nice spot of yard.
You wait by the back door.
You were once a good dog.
Now is the winter of our discontent… Richard the Third,
but we are not entertained by actors in dramatic scenes.
Now the acrimony is caused by the voice
and persona of Donald Trump, filthy rich,
ill-gotten though the money was,
and vox populi certified. His raves and rants
with that rabble rasp-ringing blab
lowered his credibility to the nadir
among people who think
while adoring groundlings,
who for the most part are capable
of nothing but inexplicable dumb shows
and noise, flock like sheep to his camp.
Day 253. At least today, with two feet of snow, I’m not the only one trapped inside.
As a child I loved playing in the snow, the wind blowing flakes into my mouth as I danced across the yard. My mom made snow ice cream for our dinner.
Then He moved in.
I drop my head between my knees, list my favorite books, count the days until spring. Repeat my mantra: he’s not here. I’m in control.
Clean white light escapes the curtains and warms the carpet despite the wind’s chilly blast.
Struggling to breathe, I reach for the door.
It’s not the cold that kills you, but the thaw.
You lie frozen, accepting winter’s chill kiss, forgetting you ever yearned toward the sun. Snow blows across the sky, trailed by ghosts singing of never and was.
You capture a fragment of their tune and hold it close, a talisman against the night. You would sing, but your throat is dust. You would dance, but your bones are ice.
Nothing aches, at least.
You wonder at the lateness of the season. Spring is patient and unkind.
The wind whispers: Winter will keep you warm.
The frigid bite of cold did nothing to chill the burn of her anger. Her rage was white hot—hotter than the icy air could ever hope to soothe. Only the puff and blow of nicotine rich smoke soothed the beast inside. She curled her fingers lovingly around the last dregs of her cigarette.
The world was still as if the snow blanketed it in silence. It was beautiful—a beautiful ice-like tomb that hid her debut masterpiece. Spring would soon bloom, and with it the unveiling of a new brand of terror—terror fit for a dark queen.
They say it’s haunted.
I don’t know why.
I’ve been here forever.
I never see a soul.
Things have changed. When I look in the mirror
I think about how
it was: perfect.
I welcome memories, especially of
that beautiful day.
Barely spring, snow blowing, slipping on ice, falling; water so cold it chilled bones.
That beautiful day.
I welcome memories, especially of
It was perfect.
I think about how
things have changed. When I look in the mirror,
I never see a soul.
I’ve been here forever.
I don’t know why
they say it’s haunted.
March, where are you keeping our spring?
Don’t you know we are chilly?
We would love for the ice and snow to melt away.
Feel the warm breeze on our faces and blow bubbles and fly kites in the air.
How we miss those days…
So please let the lion stay in his den and bring out the lamb.
I offer an apology, a sacrifice. Instead of forgiveness, she freaks. So finicky.
I’ve been kind to the furniture for weeks now. Stayed off her keyboard. When’s the last time I puked on her rug?
One indiscretion and she tosses me out. I’m no fool. Spring’s not blowin’ in the wind yet. Humans are so quick to judge.
Should I put a chinchilla at the foot of her bed next time instead of a mouse? Of course, there won’t be a next time. I have eight more lives. She doesn’t.
Enjoy your final moments before I gnaw these electrical wires.
A chill courses down my spine as the door creaks open.
The mattress springs creak beneath his weight. I don’t dare turn to look at him.
My mouth goes dry, and I can’t answer.
But a slap to the back of my head makes me gasp.
Outside the window, big snowflakes fall. I wish I was out there. Anywhere but here.
He touches my arm. Softer now. With hands cold as ice.
He’s going to ask for a blow.
And I’m going to give it.
Just not the kind he expects.
Thanks to a whistleblower, I needed to clear out of this solar system. I sourced a new identity, and my partner in crime offered a getaway outfit. Wearing clashing colors topped with worn-out overalls made me feel like a daltonic hillbilly, but no one could recognize me.
After hopping a spatial springboard across the galaxy, I played it cool on arrival.
"You're under arrest," an officer said.
Impossible — my cover was as pure as Martian snow!
Then my heart froze in my chest. My partner had sent me straight to the strictest authorities in the galaxy — the fashion police.
Ice-cold beer in Jerry’s garage after work.
“Old lady home?”
Jerry shook his head. “Nah. She’s out.”
Life couldn’t get any better.
I pointed at the machine. “Whaddya got this thing out for?”
Jerry shrugged. “It’s stuck.”
“Where the spring connects the rotating augers.”
“I see. Looks like a stick or something.”
“Help me get it out.”
I sat my beer next to some buckets of red paint on a plastic sheet.
Jerry nodded. “Something like that.”
I pulled out the limb. Looked just like a –
A sudden chill.
Why was Jerry running his snowblower in the summer?
On a rustic hill by a windblown tree stood a desolate cabin, ringed by ice, hidden by snow, and within, a wretch, ill at the thought of winter's chill forever stalling spring's goodwill.
Summer's flight was the wretch's plight, a sleight gone wrong, an unsung song, a tear to mend, to fix, to end, to bring the warmth of spring again.
The wretch prayed to the hidden sun, 'O let my treason come undone, and end this season I've begun.'
Ice had filled the wretch's veins and when the spring appeared again, the wretch himself came to an end.
He glances through the window. The children are watching a movie.
He moves to the door. Unlocked as promised.
Stepping inside he hears the queen sing, “The snow doesn’t bother me anyway.”
He shakes his head, then blows the hair out of his eyes. He heads upstairs, lifting the lid of the cooler.
When he comes down later, he has a spring in his step.
A troll tells the princess, “There is ice in your heart.”
He giggles quietly, unheard by the children.
Upstairs their mom lies chilling on the bed, his special frozen knife melting at her side.
“Leave me alone!”
“Why would you want to be alone?” asks the young intruder into my empty hospice room. “Watch, I’ll wind it, mister.” She cranks the mainspring tight and lets go.
The music box plays “It’s now or never,” and I’m back behind the counter, seventy years ago. The girl in black argues about price. This time I notice her red eyes, pay the difference, and carry the food to the funeral.
“Watch, I’ll wind it, Great Grandpa.” The music plays. I smile at the girl, blow a kiss to the old woman in black, and let go.
The glass clinked as she placed it next to the ice bucket. Cheers, she said, holding the neck of the bottle to her lips and allowing a measure of Barefoot Moscato to moisten her parched gums. Droplets of condensation splashed her freckled cleavage where his chill fingers had scrabbled and slowed. Thought you could waltz in late, make excuses? Ask for a tip and buy blow with a Snowbird’s cash? Well, Asshole, spring on my safety catch must have slipped. She fished in the glass and pulled the Polident from the bag. Walgreens delivery wasn’t what it used to be.
11:11. A brisk spring nightfall. Drunken ghoul, sometimes cruel. Assumed he would take the car. I drove.
12:46. Waited, motor faded. Dirty bastard. Pants down, throaty moans, pouty burgundy lips, getting blown. Fuck this, I headed home.
3:29. Pounded at the door. Eyes wide, pacing, blinds disturbed. Drip drop, drip drip drop. Stains screamed red, leftovers of the dead.
4:17 Sleep, it called. Snowy sheets answered. Yes, he dreamt.
5:22. Snuck out, there it was. Jagged edge reflected moonlight. Goose flesh covered arms, chilled.
6:05 Debated. Ice within the soul, nerves steady. 9-1-1.
Snow lay heavy on the treetops, floated through the chill air, transformed the world into my ice palace. Dancing in snowshoes may not be the most graceful, but my ecstasy could not be contained.
Snow had always been my favorite. Covering over the muck with a gleaming layer of white. Even the ugliest neighborhood with the dirtiest, crumbliest sidewalk.
Snow wasn’t always appreciated, though. The ungrateful emerged, bundled until they bumbled even the simplest of task, fighting the inevitable with their blowers and shovels. Some hibernated, waiting for spring.
They would wait forever as I danced in my paradise.
It's in weather like this on Minamen's Pond that we blow a hole in the ice and evening's chill reminds me that one of us could end up dead under the snow. Springtime tragedies. They're everywhere. Carp floating motionless in their fat-suits. Micah flipping 'em, fins and all, through Dad's chipper. The old Briggs & Stratton creaks under its load. It knows cold, that engine, those fish. That's how I see it, anyway, when my little brother's reaching stupidly to grab something back out, and when it's me lobbing the leftover M-80, eyes closed tight against the blast.
Great artists can paint a gaze that follows you around.
However, the old Masters were on another plane altogether.
Mona’s enigmatic smile springs to mind, perfected by her eyes.
Cleopatra’s blown ambition, Joan’s chilling betrayal, and Nefertiti’s elegance…once again, by their eyes.
Then, I met her, a thousand finely placed strokes of beauty.
Eyes you could lose yourself in.
As good as me? Well, almost.
But Hallward was mortal, and he left a tell.
I noticed the tiniest guilt of loneliness in her smile, that her eyes, unwittingly confessed.
She’s now my critic.
We compare portraits.
My ageless Mrs. Grey.
Rime and Punishment
I told them my diagram would explain Triple Point, that anomalous behavior of water.
Water existing as ice, liquid and vapor simultaneously.
Let me show you;
Human are 60% water, I said, it is why we see these Arctic phantoms.
They are not icy wraiths wrought from carving winds.
Spring is months away.
No one listened.
I hear crystal ice calling; clanging carillons of chill.
My breath is blowing snow. My lungs refrigerate.
Hoarfrost floes beneath my skin.
I feel my essence sublimating.
Humans are 60% water.
I told them so
“He was iced? Whaddya mean, ‘iced’? This isn't Goodfellas, Mahoney. He was murdered, is what happened.”
The younger cop blushed. “Sorry, sir.”
“Just take me to the body, willya?” Callaghan mopped his brow. Damn, this was no weather to be on the job. Low 90s today. If this was spring, he didn’t want to see summer.
The vic lay in the chilly air of the freezer room. His head almost obliterated by the giant block of the murder weapon, now melting in the heat that came through the door.
“Well, I’ll be… You were right, Mahoney. Poor bastard was iced.”
“Something gored the bastard,” the coroner said.
Blood gleamed red in the snow in familiar verse above the dead judge’s head.
“Same as the others?” Agent Reyes asked.
“I’ll crush you bits, body, and bone,” the coroner read. “Judge is troll number eight.”
“Find his bridge,” Reyes ordered. They found bodies buried by the spring.
“What we got?” the DA demanded.
“Remains of seven missing children,” Reyes said.
“This vigilante must be stopped.”
“Judges and politicians never pay for their crimes.” Such ill intent surprised Reyes. “A goat sliced open a troll. I won’t blow any sleep over this one.”
Every spring there'd be a last blow from old man winter. After that all the snow would melt and the river ice would break up. Then we would run a corpse dog behind the cabins.
You couldn't take anyone's word about what happened to their mate. They usually said that they had snowshoed out. The dogs always told the truth.
“Hey, Charlie. You can skip my brother's cabin. Save you and Sadie some time.”
“I thought he stayed the whole winter.”
“He caught a chill and snowshoed out right after New Years.”
"...yayo, nose candy, snowjob, blow, the chilly two. You get the idea. Imagine that being magically compressed and put into this bottle right here! And once you have it, there is no limit but your imagination as to what you can do. Have some ugly skin sores? This little wonder will disguise them like no other. Kid's projects you say? The best substitute for snow in a winter wonderland diorama! Hung over? Use this and add some spring to your step now. Just call....Um....Uh...."
"Cut! Cut!" shouts the director. "Did you actually forget the number?"
"Yeah, I forgot. It's not 911 right?"
Twin sisters, two queens
Battled in a blizzard of rage.
She froze me out.
I built a moon where no winds blow,
where sand is mistaken for hard-packed snow,
born from the chill inside.
They keep records no more
ashamed of stabbing my back.
Betrayal embitters my heart, even yet.
Now apathy has melted my deeds,
as ice in the sun,
dripped remembrance into history’s swelling stream.
Stratagems offer the only gate,
to save my city despite its guilt,
even against its will.
Their ignorance will by my spring.
It's snowing again. Outside, only silence, save for the blowing wind.
Sitting by the fireplace, a glass of cabernet in my hand, I couldn't help but miss her.
No Internet. No phone service. This cabin seemed like the ideal place to rekindle our relationship. Instead, her outlook quickly degraded from chilly to frigid. The minute the door closed she lit into me.
“Is this your idea of a joke? Because I'm not laughing.” “I'm freezing my ass off.”
They won't find her until spring, when the ice has grown weary of her, too. And by then, I'll be long gone.
Fumbling the precious specimen down the lab drain, Meridian knew there was no way she could stay with her research team. She felt panic each time she had to prep one of these samples.
Demoted one lab lower each time she blundered, Meridian found herself an outcast in the chilled basement lab.
She settled into packing metal cylinders for shipping mineral samples. Certain containers needed the spring set in the lid’s secret compartment to hide the emeralds. Only a dozen of these left, always to the same address, then no more debt. Relief breaths appeared as little vapor clouds.
With 15 minutes to go can I really get an entry in? I had such a good idea for an evil Olaf Snowman story. Not to blow my own trumpet but it woulda given you chills. I was too busy eating ice cream last night to write it though. Maybe I'll get my act together by spring!
He’d had the Springfield 1903 since Mogadishu. An intimate lover, smooth as silk at a thousand yards.
A light snow draped the night in an ethereal silence. He snicked off the safety. The round sliced inexorably like an insatiable beast, careening mercilessly at 2740 feet per second.
Antonov’s spinal cord was severed, blown out at the hip. A perfect surgical strike.Flynn spun in his wheelchair. Drunk drivers he spat, welcome to my world.
He thought of the poem Doc Hill. They would all love him in death. Once she understood even Em would come from behind the Oak tree.
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