After a few weeks of stories of tragic loss and murderous monsters, I'd like to see some positive stories.  I know some of our dear writers will subvert the prompt anyway, and that's okay too. Show us what you've got!

The Judge

This week's judge is the winner from two weeks ago.  She's recently taken the Flash Fiction circuit by storm.

Rebekah Postupak is a writer, teacher, executive assistant, and believer that coffee is a moral imperative.

The Prompt

It gets better, you know.

The Rules


6/4/2012 03:08:00 am

“It gets better, you know.” Cob said, stroking the young cow’s hair. “I know it hurts now, but it will fade. Remember before? Remember how good that felt? It will all feel that good next time,” he promised. Their keeper, Cora, watched from a distance, silently observing.

Her tears stemmed and her breathing evened out. “It will?”

He kissed the top of her head, his groin stirring at her scent. “Absolutely. As your mother or sisters. Didn’t they tell you the same.”

She nodded, sniffling the last of the moisture away. “I should go. You have many more cows to see, and you’re ready for the next.”

Cob tightened his hold on her, hugging her to his chest. “They can wait another minute. I don’t want you to go in pain.” He ran his hands over her back, fingertips brushing her spine. She shivered at the sensation and took a deep breath.

As she exhaled, cob felt the tension of pain release from her, felt her breasts rub against his chest, the points forming again. He turned his head to kiss her neck and shoulder, touching lower, still gently. His length was pinned between them, but he shifted his legs to brush it against her tender skin.

Her nails dug into his shoulder and he stopped moving, kissing her more instead. “Pain?” he asked quietly.

“No,” she answered in wonder. “It is better.”

233 words

6/4/2012 04:09:56 am

“It gets better, you know.” that’s what people keep telling me; platitudes that do not ease my pain. My heart pumps blood, my lungs fill with air and the sun still comes out; inside I feel dead, shrivelled and decayed like leaves that turn black and mouldy before winter. The pain is immense like all my nerve ends are frayed. Bill is gone and I am here, adrift without a rudder to steer me to my life’s course.
What is life without him? How can I go on without him?
The sun cannot even warm me; I feel tiny icicles form inside me. I will never be warm again. Life goes on days go on. I go about my life, doing all the things I did before, but it is not the same. I do not have him to share my day and hear his trials of the day.
It does not get better even as months go by, all I know is the emptiness I feel. I reach for him at night in the dark and find my bed empty. My flesh cries out for his touch but it is not rewarded. I feel cold and hollow, substance with no real form, inside an empty mold.
I go out only because my friend makes me and I meet him Robert. I find myself listening to his soft voice, drawn to it like a moth to a flame. It is almost lyrical in its beauty. Robert is dynamic and cheerful. How does he do that after losing his wife? Robert speaks of her with passion and love. Robert sees my pain and he tells me
“It gets better, you know.”
And I believe it, as my insides start to get warm and the room's light gets brighter. I dream of my Bill that night and he says
“Move on and be happy. You have a great life ahead of you.”
I answer the phone ringing, waking me from the dream, it’s Robert asking me out on a date .I find myself saying yes. Years go by and Robert and I are married. We have three beautiful children, two boys and a girl. We haven’t forgotten our spouses Bill and Angela are still in our hearts. We know they share our joy.
I am now old and will soon die, I haven’t long. Robert has promised to put on my tombstone “It gets better you know.”
Life has been good. My children are safe with spouses of their own. I can go in peace. I will soon see my Bill and one day Robert will see his Angela. I face an adventure of the unknown, but I go in peace existence, after death can only be a journey of exploration to continue this venture called life. My cup runneth over.
469 words

6/4/2012 04:11:49 am

(Ok, I wrote this before I noticed the happy story part...and my muse refuses to let me rewrite this.)

By Lisa McCourt Hollar

“It gets better you know.”

I glanced over my shoulder, glaring daggers at my partner before turning back towards the dumpster and leaving the rest of my breakfast on the ground. When I was finished I stood and took the wet wipe she offered me, wiping my mouth and breathing in the clean, lemony scent. For the first time in the month I’d been with her, I appreciated her ODC tendency. My last partner was a slob and our patrol car was often littered with pop cans and donut boxes. Glenda tore into me the only time I tried bringing food into “her” cruiser and made me vacuum the seat and floor, then wipe everything down with the wipes she kept in the glove compartment.

“Thanks,” I mumbled, pushing the towel into my pocket and watching her cringe as I did so.

“There’s a dumpster right behind you. Do you know how many germs you have crawling on your clothes right now?”

“I’ll live,” I said, turning back towards the cause of my illness. The girl was barely a teenager. She’d been cut open from her belly to her throat. Spilling out onto the ground were her intestines and other body parts that were supposed to remain inside. Her breasts had been cut off too, but those were nowhere to be found.

“Damn shame,” Glenda said. “A girl that young should have been home in bed, not on the street at four in the morning.”

“I think the killer fucked up this time,” I said, bending to look closer at the girl. The stench of blood assaulted my nose and I tried not to breathe, afraid of contaminating the body. “Look there,” I said, pointing to something inside the open wound. “It looks like a button. The Slasher has never left anything behind before.”

Glenda looked closer, sucking in her breath. I saw the look of surprise and grinned, mentally chalking up a point for me. I may be the new kid in homicide, but I’d been with the department for five years. I wasn’t quite the nube she made me out to be.

“I’ll go call it in,” I said.

“Grab the camera too.” Something in her voice sounding strange. It almost sounded as though the ice queen was going to crack.

Radioing the murder in I popped open the trunk to retrieve the camera. The space was a bloody mess, literally.

“What the hell,” I said, picking up a clear plastic bag. Inside were a pair of breasts.

“I wish you hadn’t seen that button, but I suppose it’s better this way. At least now I don’t have to do away with the M.E. Easier if I tell them the killer was still here when we stumbled onto the scene. We fought, I got cut, bad enough that no one will be suspicious. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to save you. ”

I turned and looked at my partner, not understanding, until I saw the knife in her hand.

Word Count: 500

6/4/2012 05:09:11 am

“It gets better, you know.”

Clara’s eyes opened and fell upon her mother, who hadn’t left her side for the past twelve hours. It was, however, the first time the woman had spoken since Clara had been admitted to the hospital the night before. There wasn’t much that could be said at such a time, of course. What could possibly be said to a sixteen year old girl that had attempted to take her own life at the very peak of her teenage years?

On the outside, Clara had it all: she had the clothes that everyone envied, the brand new car that was given in celebration of her sixteenth birthday, and the friends that parted crowds when walking through the school. Deep down, there was something that remained to be seen. It definitely wasn’t something worthy of jealousy, nor was it something that she wanted people to know about. It could only be described with one word: anguish. Some days, it physically hurt to be Clara and to even exist in her own mind. And she had become tired of feeling that constant pain.

Clara shifted in bed, the thick bandages on her wrist rubbing against the scratchy bed sheets. “How can you be so sure?” she asked her mother, who had reached over to take the uninjured hand into hers. “You don’t know how much this hurts, Mom. You can’t know.”

Tears blurred her mother’s vision as she took in a deep breath, then proceeded to let go of her daughter’s hand before unclasping her watch. Clara’s mouth dropped open slightly when her mother showed her own wrist to her. “I do know,” her mom whispered, her gaze unwavering. “I know the pain. And I also know that yes, it does get better. If you need help, sweetheart, you need only ask.”

Clara felt her lower lip tremble as her eyes shifted from her mother’s wrists back to her face. “I want help,” she whispered. While softly spoken, the three hope-filled words seemed to echo throughout the small room. “I want it to get better.”

Her mother smiled, then took her hand into hers once more. “Then we’ll do it together.”

365 Words

6/4/2012 05:31:33 am

“It gets better you know.”
Everyone said it. Her mother had held her hand as she did, her father had patted her shoulder as he did and everyone else had shuffled awkwardly as they uttered those same words like a memorized script.
It gets better you know.
Exit stage left.
But no one said when.
And without knowing when, what use was the platitude? It was like saying it’d be sunny soon, but she couldn’t plan a picnic if she didn’t know when the weather would permit it.
Andrea was thinking those thoughts days after her husband’s funeral. She hadn’t yet changed out of her mourning dress, afraid that if she did it would show her acceptance. An acceptance that she was wasn’t willing to feel just yet.
In the garden her daughter was playing with her mother. At first she’d hated the idea of being taken care of, as if she’d reverted back to childhood. She glanced out of the window at the cloud streaked sky . . . she was glad for the help now, knowing that she wasn’t in a good state to do anything.
Not even cry.
Her eyes burned from the constant tears of the previous day and her throat had never felt so dry before. Her mind was an entirely different matter, shot into chaos without a hope of return.
Lord, but it hurt to think and even not to think.
She hung her head in her hands and Matthew was sat next to him. He said nothing but she recognized the masculine scent of his body.
Still in silence, he sighed and showing no hesitation, pulled her against his shoulder. The two had become closer since the death.
She had lost a husband and he had lost a brother.
She kept her eyes closed and imagined just for her a moment that Matthew was her husband, holding her as he used to but the memory twisted and contorted her wishes and all she saw was his mangled corpse in the car.
A sob threatened to burst through her mouth and Matthew shushed her, rubbing her back with slow warming movements.
“Andrea?” he asked so tenderly.
“Don’t tell me it gets better,” she choked, still not opening her eyes.
His hand tightened on her shoulder, just a little. But it was enough to let her know she wasn’t alone. “I wouldn’t dream of it.”
Andrea felt the truth in his voice. Neither cared for lies and coaxing words but company was a different matter even if it wasn’t an optimistic sort.
“Thank you, Matthew,” she whispered.
“Don’t thank me yet. I’m going to need you much more than you’ll need me,” he said, trying to lend a little lightness to the words.
And she loved him all the more for it.

467 words


6/4/2012 06:44:54 am

“It gets better, you know,” he says, and strokes her cheek.

She nods with a smile, and discreetly covers her body.

“It’s fine,” she says, and attempts a smile, that doesn’t quite reach her eyes.
She’s hurting, and every time she moves, pain shoots through her stomach.

His eyebrows narrows in concern, and he strokes her cheek again.

“I’m sorry it wasn’t good for you,” he says.

He needs to apologize, he is a man, and it had been very good for him – but he can see that she is hurting.

“It was good,” she says, and swiftly dries her tears.
“For a first time, you did real well,” he compliments, hoping it will soothe her.

He loves her so, from the bottom of his heart to the edge of his soul, and he will never hurt her. She loves him too, though a more innocent love - and she will do anything to please him.

“We will try again in a couple of days, I promise I’ll be gentle,” he says.

She nods again, and eventually smiles, as the pain start to lessen.

“I’m proud of you, honey, I really am. No one has a wife like mine,” he whispers, and draws her close and kisses her cheek.
“One day, I’ll be like the women in my novels,” she says, and her eyes shine as she speaks.

He laughs heartily, and kisses her again, as they enjoy the morning breeze.

Word count: 241

6/4/2012 06:56:00 am

“It gets better, you know.”

His words drifted over my shoulder.

I felt unexpectedly vulnerable having him in my bedroom. My personal space seemed smaller with him here. His scent stood out, wild and appealing, among those so familiar I barely noted them anymore.

“Better?” I rasped.

“Mmhmm,” he hummed. “Emotionally, mentally, physically.”

A shiver rippled through me at the words and the warm touch of his breath. I jolted at his nearness just as his arms banded hard around me and lost my breath at the feel of tall, lean, and hard male pressed against me from shoulder to thigh.

“Every time we touch, we are closer than the last time,” he said, head bowed to place the words right against my ear. “Every time, I know you better.”

A soft moan escaped me and the low growl of his approval vibrated through me.

“I know better how to make you come apart with my hands.”

His left arm trapped my arms at my sides, the long fingers wrapped tight around my right bicep. His right hand splayed over my belly, his thumb between my breasts, his pinky teasing my navel beneath the cotton of my tank top.

“With my mouth.”

His lips touched the bare skin of my shoulder, the gentle nip of his teeth setting every nerve ending on fire, a visceral reminder of the fierce pleasure he could give. I shifted in his hold.

“Better how to make you forget everything but me.”

“Better might just kill me.”

“La petit mort, n’est-ce pas?” he murmured. “I will be here to revive you, love.”

He stretched his little finger farther to slip just inside the waist of my jeans, drifting lazily over the sensitive skin.

“I want to touch you.” His voice grew rougher with arousal.

“If this isn’t touching, I think we’re doing something wrong.”

He chuckled and turned me free enough to get his hands beneath my shirt. “I want your skin. Your heat.”

He pulled the cotton up and over my head. I lifted my arms, but he maneuvered the fabric down behind me, leaving it banded around my biceps. I started to work my way free, but he stalked me backward and down to the bed. My weight trapped the shirt, and my arms. He crawled over me, braced on his hands and knees above me. His eyes roamed over me, a blend of contentment and restrained desire playing across his face. The unexpected mix hit me hard and I closed my eyes, fearing everything I felt could be seen in them.

His lips touched my eyelids in turn.

“Look at me.”

Unable to resist, I obeyed. For a long moment, we just watched each other, until I knew I could find his face in any crowd. He leaned closer so our lips just touched.

“I am exactly where I want to be,” he said softly. “And you are exactly who I want to be with. Understand?”


“Better and better,” he whispered.

500 words

6/4/2012 06:59:28 am

“It gets better, you know.”

“What?” Chayse looked up, startled. Lady Aislynn assessed him from across her desk. She leaned back in her chair, presenting him with a delightful view of her creamy breasts.

“The addiction. The longer you’re away from her, the better it gets.”

Chayse narrowed his eyes as he stared at her chin. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Aislynn offered him a sad half-smile. “Not all of us actively choose to enslave our lovers, Officer Wolffe. Some of us try not to ensnare anyone.” She tipped her head and swept her hand around the room. “That’s why I built this BDSM club. I can take sips of every sexual encounter in my club without harming anyone. It sustains me and hurts no one.”

Chayse felt this blood leave his face as his stomach curdled. “You feed from everyone?”

“I have to survive, Officer Wolffe. I’d much rather do it without killing anyone, and this is the best solution.” She gave him the sad smile again. “It also ensures I don’t allow anyone to become addicted to me.”

“Holy shit, you were addicted to a succubus?” Nik gripped the arms of the chair. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

Chayse heard the hurt and anger in his brother’s voice. “Celine was the succubus. It was why I couldn’t share her with you. I was this close to killing you for wanting to touch her.” Chayse gritted his teeth and looked down at his fists. “In my lucid moments, I realized what she was doing to me and had to keep you safe from her.”

Nik stared at him with eyes burning in betrayed disbelief.

“How did you free yourself from her grip?” Lady Aislynn’s voice held a note of admiration.

Fury ripped through Chayse and he raised his gaze to her chin as he flashed her an angry grimace.

“I didn’t. A Morukai healer found me, sick and jonesing, took me in, and helped me detox.” Rage seethed like a living thing beneath his skin, increasing his heartbeat and making him sweat. “He helped me reclaim myself from the succubus. He taught me how to identify your kind and avoid them. I don’t know why I’m allowing myself to be anywhere near such a monster as you, but I’m here, and I’m strong enough to withstand your machinations.”

“I see one of my kind have hurt you, badly.” She didn’t smile. He scented honest sadness coming from her, but he refused to be drawn in. <i>That’s how they get you, the bitches.</i> “I cannot change what I am, but I can change how I choose to get my sustenance. I choose to take a little from everyone, rather than killing my lovers.”

Aislynn leaned forward. “I’ll let you in on a little secret, Officer Wolffe. The deaths still haunt me, and I wish I’d been smart enough to prevent them. This club is my solution. If you have a better one, I’m all ears.”

“You could die,” Chayse snarled.

496 #WIP500 words

6/4/2012 07:01:46 am

Uplifting Support...

“It gets better, you know.”

She choked back a tear. Her blue eyes appeared electric. Nervously, she brushed her blond hair behind her shoulder. I could see the determination in her eyes. The pain she had to endure would only make her stronger—such a trite statement but true.

“I don’t think I’ll ever be able to do it.”

“Have faith, I do and I know you will be able to do this,” I said as I reached my hand out to help her up. “You’ve practiced, you know what to do. You can do anything you set your mind to. You just have to believe.”

A smile slowly stretched across her face as she started believing. “Is it that easy, just believe and it will be?” she thought. She stood next to me and I could feel the confidence rise in her, the power of believing in herself exuding from her pores. This was her moment to shine and show the world who she was.

She would be our savior after-all. She would be the one to deliver us from this unjust prison. I nodded at the men standing ready at the gate. They pulled back the latch and moved quickly away from the opening that appeared at the opposite side.

I glanced back to where she stood but she was no longer there. I quickly scanned the room. Where had she gone? A bright glow caught my eye above me. She floated in a bright blue orb of light near the ceiling. She was more magnificent than I dreamed.

The gate spread further open allowing us to see the promise land across the deadly threshold. I have waited a lifetime to see what was beyond that wooden barrier again. Without her, we would not be able to look at it without perishing. Her being protects even me. It was a godsend for me to find her. The poor lost girl, unaware of who and what she was.

I look through the opening in the wall and see him standing there. He glares at me, eyes full of lightning. I smile back.

“I told you I would return and you would not be able to stop me. I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time.”

“You cannot cross those gates.”

“Can’t I?” I said and started toward the opening in the wall.

I look above and see her hovering over me but her expression changed. I pick up my pace for fear that she has remembered who she is. I hear the sound of electricity beginning to surge around me. I start to run. I hear her at my back, then she passes me and crosses the threshold. I expect the gate to shut before I make its line but it does not. Ahead of me, I see a bright flash of light.

She stands in front of me.

“He banished me because I would not lie with him.”

I look and see that he is gone.


500 words

6/4/2012 07:04:49 am

No matter how I tried to think Hallmark Movies I couldn't get there.

6/4/2012 09:50:31 am

“It gets better, you know,” I say to her. Though I know she thinks it’s a lie. From where she sits, it doesn’t get better. The fear of the unknown is all consuming right now. I get that. I’ve been there.

“It gets better,” I say again, this time in a soft whisper. She doesn’t believe me. She rolls her eyes. I catch the movement and try not to smile in response. She’d be so mad at me if I smiled right now.

I glance at the clock – it's time. I’ve allowed her to delay long enough. Taking her plate from the table and dropping it in the sink, I turn back to face her. Head hanging down so her hair covers her face, hands in her lap, she is the picture of defeat. And the day has only just begun. My heart clenches for her.

“Come on, its time.”

She grudgingly gets up, scraping the chair legs across the floor – probably on purpose to punish me. As if this is my fault. Again, I struggle to stifle a smile because I know she doesn’t find any of this funny.

I follow her to the front door, grabbing my purse and keys. I notice her bag on the stairs, even as she passes it and heads outside. She’s trying to be stubborn, but I know she’ll regret leaving it, regardless of what she thinks now. With a roll of my eyes, I pick it up and sling it over my shoulder, not missing the irony of the two of us rolling our eyes at each other all morning. We’re so similar.

The car ride is silent and tense. I wish I could help her understand that this isn’t the end of the world. But nothing I can say will change her mind, so I shut up. When we pull up out front, I reach over and squeeze her hand. She squeezes back, but still doesn’t say a word.

She slowly gets out of the car, drawing out each movement to make the minutes drag on. With a sad smile and a wave goodbye, she closes the door and turns away from me.

“It will get better,” I whisper one last time, though she’s already out of hearing range.

As she walks up the steps, a tear drops from my eye. My baby is starting High School. It will get better for her, but my heart breaks with each step she takes away from me.

414 words

Phoenix Lavan
6/4/2012 01:24:05 pm

Excerpt from The Empty World
June campnano novel 2012

“It gets better, you know?” A child’s voice startles me from my thoughts. I spin in circles with rapid jumps to locate the source. The sandstorm subsides, revealing a half-buried house. In the window sits a doll, staring into the abyssal sands.

I have forgotten much over the millennia, but I know dolls can’t speak. I scurry to the window and stand upright, placing my lank claws against it. The darkness is thick. I am unable to see anything beyond the doll. Maybe it has a speaker? I swivel my head to the mahogany door like an insect. Maybe the woman stopped here?

The doorknob turns with a little finagling. A gentle push and the door swings open, eerily silent. When I step inside, patches of my skin illuminate, another transformation out of necessity. The soft blue light reveals not a house, but a large room. It is full of toys. “We are not toys.” I drop to my stomach at the child’s voice. It came from the window where the doll sits.

“We are the essence of childhood,” The silk laden porcelain figure tells me. The lace hat and brown curls bounce when I delicately lift her from the sill. “We grow weary, though.” The doll is unmoving, but the voice is coming from her. Or rather, from within her.

“Before the dark star came, we had offspring to fill with hopes and dreams. Now, there is nothing. A great nothing,” I wipe away her invisible tears. “Even the woman who came before was full of the emptiness of sadness. We tried to communicate, but she was unable to hear.” So, the woman was here?

“But, you heard us. You even gave the storm pause. There must be a dream, or hope, within you, even if you did almost abandon it.” I feel the doll embracing me. “It will get better. We won’t abandon you if you don’t abandon us.” The voice vanishes, leaving in its wake a familiar sound. A music box.

335 words

6/4/2012 03:30:41 pm

“It gets better, you know,” Kerri slid Oliver a mug of hot coffee.

“What? Being a mass murderer?” Her gorgeous guest stared glumly into his coffee.

“No, life,” Kerri sat across the breakfast table from him with her orange juice. “You sure you don’t want cream or sugar?”

Oliver responded with his sharp singular laugh. One day Kerri was determined to hear him laugh like he meant it, instead of like he’d been punched in the gut.


Kerri quietly bit her thumbnail as she watched Oliver drink the coffee. His hair framed his face like it was helping keep his secrets, his features sharp and strong, his broad shoulders and big hands… He lowered the mug back to the table and looked out the side window.

Did he like the coffee? Kerri had no idea how to work the coffee maker, but there was no way in hell she was going to trust her heartthrob’s coffee to Frank the Flesh Golem. So she’d asked The Professor to help her design a spell to make coffee—not much better than Frank, but at least she was involved.

She finally had a cute guy in her home and no monsters in sight. This was a one in a million opportunity, and Kerri was not going to waste it!

“I’m a monster.” Oliver cupped his hands around the mug.

“What?!” Kerri jumped.

“I’m a monster,” His amber eyes locked with hers. “What I turn into, the things I’ve done… I should be destroyed.”

Kerri sighed; of course that’s what he was talking about. Oliver was a werewolf, not a telepath.

“Everyone has a right to live. Including you. I can help you get control of your changes.”

“That’s what Isabella said too…”

All of Oliver’s pain shone through his eyes. Seeing it right there across the breakfast nook was too intense for the young sorceress. Kerri wanted to look away, but refused to be the first. It felt like his pain was killing her, but if maybe her eyes were giving him some sort of comfort…

She hoped she could heal him. Actually, she hoped they could heal each other.

358 words

6/4/2012 05:15:55 pm

“It gets better, you know,” Goldberg says, getting into the car “That’s what they say in these stupid classes, but it’s a lie. Eat right, exercise and join a support group, they say. What’s the point? We're all dying and anybody who says different is selling something.”

Carlson noses the cruiser into traffic. “I don't think you appreciate the gravity of your situation.”

Goldberg looks out the window. “You want gravity? How about this. I am thirty-nine years old, I have a brain tumor that will probably kill me the next time I look twice at a curvaceous woman and I got no next of kin. That grave enough for you, partner?”

“Look, can you be serious for a minute? I don’t think you ought to fill out that medical notification just yet. This job is about the only thing you have to live for and if they take that away, well, what would you have left?”

“I been doing a little thinking about that, and here’s what I come up with. I’m gonna ask that sweet little firecracker down in the evidence locker if she wants to get a drink or something after work.”

Carlson downs the rest of his coffee before asking, “Are you going to tell her?”

“Tell her what, Joe? That I been fantasizing about her for six months but was too ambivalent to do anything about it until now? Nah, you want to know if I’m going to tell her I got a time bomb lodged in my skull, don't you? Nope. I’m not gonna to tell her on account of if I want a second date, I don’t want it to be out of pity. I want it to be because she can’t stop thinking about me. About how I brought her flowers and held the door for her and made her laugh. About how I kissed her goodnight on the cheek and called her the next day just like I said I would.”

“Sounds like you have it all planned out,” says Carlson, eying a motorcycle weaving in and out of traffic.

“Yep. I marked the ‘cremation’ checkbox soon as I got to class this morning and that gave me forty-four minutes to daydream."

The dispatch radio crackles to life. “Possible two eleven at Parker’s Liquor. Suspect driving a red motorcycle.”

Carlson looks at Goldberg. “I’m not going to respond until I have your word you won’t do something crazy like try to take a bullet for me like you did last week.”

“Fine. You have my word. Got my priorities straightened out. See, I’m not gonna croak until I found out firsthand whether that strawberry lipgloss tastes as good as it looks.”

Carlon chuckles. “Whatever gets you though the day, partner.”

“Hey, want to grab a bite after we catch this idiot? The meds should have tapered off by then and I’ll have an appetite. But let’s eat something healthy. I want to look fit for Miss July.”

- - - - - - - - -
(496 words)

6/4/2012 10:16:14 pm

“It gets better, you know. The taste? Trust me, I been eating that since when I was kid. I hated it, but now I eat like it’s nothing.”

Tripp eyed the guide suspiciously and continued chewing the cooked fern fronds, bite after bite resisting the urge to gag. How could anyone eat this stuff on a daily basis?

“You want to eat beans or something? Something from our supplies?”

Tripp shook his head and swallowed the awful mess in his mouth. “No,” he uttered. “I don’t want to use them up. We still have, what, two more days of hiking?”

“Yes, at least two.”

The guide was a younger man with dark skin and darker hair. He claimed to be Cham, but so did a lot of people in Vietnam. The Cham people were few and far between though, and this guy, Awara Asal, could have been Hmong. Still, he seemed to know the area well enough.

Tripp checked his GPS against his map. They were ten kilometers west of Duy Phu where the famous Champa My Son temples were located. According to Awara though, there were even more temples deep in the remote part of the Vietnamese jungle.

They packed up and resumed their journey. Several times Tripp thought he saw remnants of the war, but nature was deceptive out here, and so he couldn’t say for certain whether they were just trees that had knotted and gnarled naturally as they grew or if their cause was something far more sinister.

“Awara, you’re certain there are no mines?”

The guide turned back, smiled, and spit something foul onto a huge leaf off to his right. “Nah, man. No mines. No reason to mine out here. Only thing is missile.”
“Missile? What missile?”

“Come, I show you.”

They continued trudging through the jungle growth for a few hundred more meters when the guide stopped abruptly.

“Here it is. Missile from the U-S-of-A.”

Tripp did not see it at first, and Awara grew impatient and stomped. The loud sound of hard metal stunned Tripp’s ears, and he instantly took several steps back. They were standing on it!

“What is this?” he asked incredulously.

“American missile. From the war.”

Tripp bent down and began scraping the brush and dirt from the side. Mines were one thing, but a missile? As he furiously began to clear the aged metal, he saw an odd and yet familiar marking in black and yellow. Delicately pulling off vines and other vegetation, he nearly collapsed when he realized what he’d uncovered: a single black dot with three outward black pie pieces—the international insignia of an atomic bomb.

441 words

6/4/2012 11:11:31 pm

“It gets better, you know.”

Those were the words that her grandmother gave Chartrusel as she left her only home after being kicked out. It was easy for her to say, the older pixie had been taken on by a nice mage and got to see the world, learns all sorts of things.

Char? Got left in a desert by Bud and found by a werewolf who didn’t eat her, yet.

She sat on the table, dipping her hand into a small cup of honey and licking it off her fingers as she stared around the small cabin. “Some adventure. Rescued by a werewolf.”

“You make it sound like a bad thing.” The wolfie in question sat down with a mug big enough for her to swim in.

She glowered at him, flipping the non-honey covered hand at him, tossing the purple bangs out of her eye. “You don’t understand. I’ve been kicked out. Left to go on my own. And I’m still punching Bud. No one is keeping me from doing that. And by the mother forest, I will have my vengenance.” She got up and pumped her fist into the air, tightening her lips.

He stared at her before covering his mouth with a hand but she saw the corners of his lips curl up. A small ‘snerk’, the start of a laugh.

“You think I’m joking, big puppy?”

“Oh no, no. I’m quite aware that you seemed determined. But you have honey running down your arm.” One finger pointed at the slow drizzle down her arm. “And the name is Sebastian, not puppy.”

“Oh.” Char dropped it to lick honey off her elbow. “What is that anyway?” She pointed to the mug.

“Coffee. Helps wake a person up.”

“Cough-eee.” Char rolled it around her mouth before wandering over and standing on tip toes to peer into the mug. “It’s black.”

“I like it strong. You can add milk or sugar to it as well.”

Her eyes lit up. “I like milk and sugar.”

Sebastian’s lips twitched again and he got up, coming back with a thimble and poured some of the cough-eeee into it, pushing it towards her. “Try it and we can see if you should have milk and sugar.”

She glowered at him, getting the feeling that he was laughing at her. Well, she would show that big overgrown hairball. She sniffed and picked up the heavy thimble before taking a sip. Her face scrunched up at how awful it tasted. It was burnt. He did it wrong. Another glance and he was watching her with that small smirk again. Hmmmph. She drank from the thimble again, wings buzzing as she leaned over to help keep her balance before she downed the awful stuff and belched. “Sorry.”

“What do you think?”

“Tastes burnt.” Her whole body shook with hiccups. Another hiccup and she felt funny and he jerked back from the table.

“Uh-oh.” She looked at her hands and then the table. She got big.

500 words


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