Representative Fiction

From Drunken Vampire Hunting for Beginners (Novel)

With the sun behind her, the body seemed as black as the night that was slowly being pushed away. At first, Tom took this to be a trick of the light: the sudden brightness of the sun creating a silhouette from which nothing was distinguishable. It was only when he noticed that the sun didn’t seem to affect anything else about the body that he realized that she was a permanent shade of charcoal black. Her dress was a delicate, pale blue, with intricate stitching and white lace edges. Despite the charred black skin of its wearer, the dress seemed almost untouched, as if the river breezes had kept the fabric clean and new. It wasn’t only her dress that gave him the general idea that she had once been a woman. Her body—what was left of it—was slight and feather-graceful. She hanged there like a morbid kite that refused to take to the skies. With the fresh, almost pastel shade of the green dress against the almost ink black flesh that wore it, it occurred to Tom that the corpse was entirely the polar opposite of the shuddering would-be model that now wept against his squad car.

The corpse’s face had no features—only mounds and holes. Her eyes were double pools of squid ink—staring forever into a skyline that could do nothing but stare back. Even the first hesitating rays of sunlight couldn’t fill them. They grasped at the light greedily, like two celestial black holes, threatening to drink up all the light in the world. In a horror movie, her mouth would have mirrored the sentiment: a mute scream of fury or frustration or loneliness—all in defiance of a world that she loathed or ached for. But the truth frightened Tom far more. Her lips were pursed delicately, like a serene Roman statue. There was no frown and no horrifying smile. Just calm acceptance of a fate that seemed inevitable, or even favorable to the sport of life. It was almost as if her mouth didn’t exist at all.

To say that the girl in the green dress looked dead was superfluous—idiotic, even. But it was the first thing that occurred to Tom. Not even that she had once been alive and then died. But that she had never been alive in the first place. The rope that she danged from the end of was rough and coarse—the sort of rope that would turn a shrimping boat captain’s hands into spun steel. But the weight her body placed on it was nothing. The black grey of her skin was scaled and dry—like the outside of a burnt marshmallow. As Tom got closer, he could just make out two long, narrow slashes that made their way up her inner wrists and arms like twin exclamation points. What was once moist flesh that had pulled away from the even drag of a razor bristled like a desert of scales. Where thick blood should have dripped, only the dimmest motes of silt fell, barely visible but for the sun’s rays shining through them.

She had done this to herself. And it meant absolutely nothing. It opened no doors. It didn’t even crack a window.

From We Who Are About to Die (Novel)

"You are men and women of the sword," Becky says, a sudden passion and fury missiling from her lungs and rocking us back.

"You live by the sword, and you die by the sword."

Greg's hand goes up for attention, and we immediately steel ourselves for what's going to happen next. Becky reluctantly nods a chin at him, giving him permission to speak.

"That's from the New Testament," he says, rubbing his chin gently, as if he's ready to go off into a lecture. And, let's face it, he is.

"And?" Becky asks, stepping over and staring up into Greg's blue eyes. He's well over a foot taller than she is, but anyone who's betting on him to win a power struggle here is about to lose some serious cash. 

"And," he says, smiling that "not unkind, but boy howdy do I know a thing or two above you" smile of his. "If we're meant to be Roman gladiators, I think our attitude is going to have to be entirely the opposite of ancient Jews and proto-Christians, wouldn't you say? I mean, based on their preaching, the doctrine of pacifism alone would…"

And Greg's on the ground again for the second time in a month. His gauze and tape have done absolutely nothing to protect his face from Becky's wooden sword--sorry, gladius--as it sails through the air and strikes him in the middle of the nose. 

I can't make it out past his bloodied hands, but I can only imagine the wooden blade crossing a perfect letter T on the vertical split left from Emperor Todd's pummeling at our job interview… what? 3 weeks ago?

A lot can happen in 3 weeks.


From The Seagull and the Cellphone (Short Story)

Troy Jackson did not know that the phrase “as the crow flies” applied just as easily to seagulls. Or if he was aware of this fact, he certainly wasn’t acting in that manner. Indeed, as his focus on the waterfowl (and his precious technology) grew ever-distant, an outside observer might believe that Troy had never been behind the wheel of an automobile before. His tires thudded against the raised pavement of the sidewalk once at Philadephia Street, twice just outside of Market Square, and finally heaved themselves up and over at Railton Avenue, bringing the Buick belching onto the front lawn of the Free Clinic of Saint Maximillian, where it uprooted a mailbox, shredded a bush of blue violets, and bumped unpleasantly into minor local celebrity Debbie Holliday.

Troy Jackson was unaware of Debbie Holliday’s following, but he was terrified of killing a celebrity, even if he didn’t actively know it. Of course, he was afraid of killing anyone. But a generation’s worth of cartoons and People Magazine had quietly insinuated itself into his brain, and if Troy had known that Debbie Holliday sat at the Cool Kid’s Table Of Life, plowing directly into her with his car would have filled him with a gut-wrenching fear and regret known only to those miserable few who have dented the fenders of their Buicks with the faces of the pretty and unnaturally-proportioned.   As it stood, however, the fear and mascara-flecked face of Debbie Holliday was not one that he recognized, and so his panic was the more garden-variety “ohshitohshitohshitohSHIT” kind felt by so many others before him.

“OhshitohshitohshitohSHIT,” Troy shouted, dropping to his knees to check Debbie Holliday’s pulse.

When Debbie Holliday’s eyes opened, the hazy Allegheny sun was shining on her face. Absentmindedly she thanked the Lord that this neighborhood had a fondness for thick, drop-stopping Bermuda grass, and slowly opened her eyes. The dozen faces that peered down at her all wore expressions fear and worry: a solar eclipse of attention centered directly on Debbie Holliday. The attention made her quietly giddy, and she thanked the Lord a second time. Her hip ached vaguely, but that didn’t concern her so much. What concerned her was making sure that her physical and emotional rise was done with as much dignity as possible.

When the seagull landed in Debbie Holliday’s large bouffant, John Adkins screamed. Of course, he had seen seagulls before. But in this moment of startled apprehension, the waterfowl resembled nothing less than a grey-feathered demon: the ash hand of Satan himself, and a portent of ill tidings to come. So John Adkins brought his placard down on the tiny threat, and with a pronounced crack the yardstick struck Debbie Holliday right between the eyes. However, a yard stick is not a Buick. And for a long, solid moment, Debbie stared into John’s soul, and found what she saw there to be severely, profoundly lacking.

In one fluid motion, Debbie Holliday stood to her full height. And with a cry of “Judas!” swung an uppercut that caught John Adkins two inches to the left of his chin. His head pitched backwards, and suddenly it was his turn to thank the Lord for the cushion of Bermuda grass.