Chuwa’s Judgment

I took a stone from my pocket. It was meaningless, the kind of pretty thing she would have liked. It was also a life. I put the first of many on the shelf upon which we had laid Chuwa’s necklace of stones and shells.

I lifted his head, heedless of the greasy blood matting it, dragging him to the cliff’s edge as he struggled.

“Please! I have done nothing!”

“This isn’t about you!” In my anger, I threw him to the ground, and for a second it looked like he’d go over. He clawed at the rock and managed to hold himself back from the edge. “This is about Chuwa. Your tribe’s raid took everything from her. Her beauty. Her innocence! Her life.”

“But Chuwa is–”

I cut him off with a stomp on his fingertips. “A child’s name?” I had a flash of cruel inspiration, and saw a way to hurt him. That’s right. Your people ruined a child. They cut her face, beat her. That was how they began.”

Even through the blood smearing his face, I could see him pale in horror. Good. I knelt on his head, pinning him against the stone – not that he had anywhere to go – as I described the horrors to him. I didn’t realize I was twisting his hair in rage until a bloody clump tore free.

“But that’s not me! All of our tribes raid! I am a farmer, I’ve nothing to do with what our warriors–!”

As he spoke, I stood, and I felt bone give as I kicked him in the jaw. I had to raise my voice over his screams to be heard. “It doesn’t matter! I will end your clan. I’ll come back again and again, until there is nobody left!” Another kick, then another, and then he was sliding, tumbling past the brink. Then he stopped screaming.

I turned to walk away from the cliffside. “I killed him, Chuwa. The first of many. Judge him.”

Chills overcame me, then. I had killed a man. I staggered, unconcerned with being strong as my stomach twisted. I almost made it to the treeline before I threw up. Then again and again, as if my very spirit had swallowed poison.

My wife greeted me as I returned home. I had washed my mouth out, washed the blood away. I had even managed to bring meat home, crossing paths with a boar on the way. “Gavos. You brought meat!” She took it from me, and I watched her as some was cut away for dinner, the rest taken to preserve for later. I spent a moment admiring her shape, her curves. Then there was the swell of her belly. I wasn’t sure how I felt about that.

“I killed one.”

Her stirring halted, her shoulders stiffened. “You… aren’t talking about the meat.”

My expression didn’t change. My emotions were exhausted, and I had no masks left to show her. “No.”

I took a stone from my pocket. It was meaningless, the kind of pretty thing she would have liked. It was also a life. I put the first of many on the shelf upon which we had laid Chuwa’s necklace of stones and shells.

She watched this, quiet, but only for a moment. Then her stirring resumed, and her dull, dark eyes turned away. “And now?”

“I rest, and prepare myself for more. I go back and take another, and another. I kill until they are gone.”

She glared up at me then, and I saw hate in her brilliantly blue eyes. “Good. Let every one of them know how it feels to lose…to lose–!”

She never finished telling me what loss they should know, but I understood. Her face crumpled, and she howled in grief, throwing herself at my chest. I held her through her sobbing and her crying, my chest growing wet under her eyes. She needed strength, but I was so tired. I relied on exhaustion instead, and stirred her pot as I held her.

Finally, she seemed to quiet. “This child, too, will be our revenge. A Sawaku child given to us, and we will–.”


She looked up at me in confusion, clearly expecting me to want that revenge as much as she did.

“We do not hurt the innocent. We do not raise our child a slave. It is not Sawaku. It is born to the Talam tribe, raised to the Talam ways. This is our child, a Talam child. Promise me, Sasua.”

So many expressions crossed her face, then. Guilt, hate for the Sawaku, shame, hate for me, disgust, love for a husband, grudging affection for her unborn child. She had always been so expressive. “But…it’s…”

“It did not hurt you. You can’t hurt them this way.” An idea came, a motive her injured heart might understand. “Hurt them by raising it to hate them. Steal this child’s love from them. ”

She nodded, tears falling down her cheeks quietly. “I’ll try. ”

“Good. You work on that, I’ll kill them all, and together we will end them, my love. But first…is this burning?”

She started, whirling, and took the pot off the heat. “Sorry! Sorry. You were killing for me, for Chuwa, and I can’t even have a proper dinner for you.”

“Hush. Let’s eat.”

“You should let me cook something else.”

“Sasua. Sit with me. Eat with me. I won’t put your work to waste. Besides, everything you make is good.”

She wiped her eyes, shaking her head. “Liar.”

I leaned over her, touching my lips to her brow.

The stew was dry, and had too much salt. When I was done, I scraped the last drops out of my bowl with my spoon, before letting her take it. She smiled at me as she took the bowl, and I knew she saw right through me. She saw the blood that I’d washed off my hands, and still, she smiled at me. It was the first smile I’d seen from her in a while.

I ran my hands through her soft, clean hair, a contrast to the bloody mat I’d gripped while killing a man. It felt cleansing, almost, in the same way that sheathing a knife quelled the urge to kill with it. For her, I’d bloody my hands. For her, I’d even remember to be human again.

My Kindness in Return

Write a three-paragraph story, starting every paragraph with the same sentence.

Photography by David Graham at .

He is so kind. Before I broke, before the accident. He bought me flowers, he had a necklace for me — I still have it — and we went to a fancy restaurant. It was so uncomfortable for a girl who grew up with nothing, that we left and went to a hole-in-the-wall Italian restaurant. The tablecloths were plastic. The food was greasy. I loved it.
He is so kind. Even when he found me spattered with blood. He ignored every evidence of my guilt, he would have testified self-defense from a break-in, despite the handcuffs, despite the surgical scalpels. I had to tell him, then. He cried, he pleaded, begged me to get help. But I knew there was no help for me. He helped me bury his body. It was lucky that he caught me, in a way. The man was three times my weight.
He is so kind. He loved me, even knowing what I did. He learned how to rent a warehouse through a shell corporation for me. He insisted we buy all my tools that way, too. He protected me well. Even now, on the table, he begs for the chance to forgive me. But when it is time, it is time. He knows it, I see it in his eyes as I kiss his brow, as I tell him that I’ll meet him soon.
He was so kind.

The Poop Train

Through a series of events, I somehow committed myself to writing a story titled “The Poop Train.”

I leaned against the observation glass and looked down at the bands of Jupiter from low orbit.  After a moment, I pointed.  “There.  Right there.  See it?  Find that storm, the swirl on the equator; it’s just passing left of it.”

“What . . . that little ripple?”  Maya looked disappointed.  I’d promised to show her monsters, after all.

“Wait for it.  There’s only one reason they come so close to the surface.  Any minute now.”

We watched, and we waited.  The bands bulged and tore as the gas serpent breached the atmosphere.  It twisted and lashed, flinging an enormous crystal from its tail, with a motion like the crack of a whip.  Bracing myself into a seat, I pulled a laptop over to me on its swivel mount, programming a drone to intercept the crystal.

“That was … but the storms!  They’re supposed to be huge!  How big was that thing?”

“That one?  There’s no guessing how long, it’s rare to see the whole thing break cover at once.  It looked to be a couple of dozen kilometers across, so maybe seven, eight hundred–”

“Eight hundred?!”

“–Kilometers long . . . they get pretty big.”

“But we’re safe up here?”

“Oh, yeah.  It can’t breach a thousandth of the distance it’d take to reach us.  That’s a lot of gravity down there.”  I pushed out of the chair, floating to her, and folded her in my arms.  As I caught her, our mismatched momentum started us spinning.  I touched a toe to the window briefly, to steady the spin; a lifetime working in space, and such things were natural to me.

Not her, though.  She was clumsy in space and had gotten caught floating without a handhold in reach more than once.  The first time she had come on board, she leaped into the cockpit like she was diving into a pool, and struck her head on the navigation console.  Now she was timid and ready to panic until I steadied us.

“What is that stuff?  Why do they throw it like that?”

“It’s fuel for the tunneling drive, purer than any synthetic process can produce.  It’s poison to them and can break down violently under pressure, so they get rid of it.  They do a better job preserving their habitat than humans do.”

“So . . . it’s poop?”

“It’s Heisenium seven.”

“Yeah, but Heisenium seven is poop.”

“It’s not . . . alright.  Yes.  It’s poop.  I’m the conductor of the poop train, all right?”

She giggled, her hands flattening against my chest.  “Sorry I teased you.”

I could never stay angry at her.  My eyes softened at her caress, and I was about to make a few interesting suggestions on how to spend our time in orbit when an orange star caught my eye, hardening my expression.  I braced my back against the glass, pushed her towards her seat. “Strap in.” Continue reading “The Poop Train”

Gentle Death

A quick little story about dating an agent of death.

I saw her, again.  Every day, riding the 45T.  I normally got off at the tracks, the last stop inside the city.

Today, I was curious.  She never spoke and was always alone.  I couldn’t tell why.  She was cute, with short black hair, blue eyes, and adorable freckles, a little on the slender side.  She might have been in her early thirties, a little on the slim side.

I didn’t care.  Today, I didn’t get off on my stop.  The bus was almost empty at this point, just me and her.  “Do you mind if I sit?”

She didn’t respond, just looked out the window.

“Ah, miss?”

She seemed to start, and looked around, not meeting my eyes.  Only after she realized the bus was empty did she look at me.  She seemed surprised to find me looking straight at her.  “Are you speaking to me?”

“Well, yeah.”

“But … well … okay.”

I took my seat beside her, and looked out the window with her, watching the countryside.  “Do you like the country?”

“It’s quieter.  I’m not comfortable around a lot of people.  Nobody likes to make room for me.  Oh, but you’re okay.  You don’t have to move.”

“How about tomorrow, before the bus leaves town, I take you to coffee?  The shop won’t be crowded late in the day.  They have some overstuffed chairs for us to use.”

She looked up at me, her lips upturned. “It’ll be nice to take to someone who can listen.”

I wasn’t sure what to say to that, so I just nodded.  I got off at the next stop, and waited for the next bus in the opposite direction, to take me back home

The next day, as we approached the tracks, I stood by her seat.  “Ready?”

She rose without a word.  We walked to the door, and she paused to lean over an old woman sitting by the door, touching her cheek.  “Don’t be afraid.”

She brushed past me and I followed her off the bus, glancing back at the old woman for a moment.  “What was that about?”

“She has a big trip to make.”  She turned, her skirt flaring as she spun, and her eyes turned up to mine. With her eyes upturned and beaming at me, I forgot all about the oddness of the previous moment.  I went to the coffee shop, and we had coffee together.

She liked her coffee without sugar, and her chocolate dark and bitter.  Her nose wrinkled when she laughed, and her eyes brightened every time she saw me.  After a couple of days getting coffee, she started wearing a flower in her hair.  It was almost a week before she let me take her on a real date, shyly agreeing to see a movie with me.

The next morning, I found her in my bed beside me.  We showered together, luxuriating in both the heat of the water and the heat of each other.  I made her breakfast, and it was then that she touched my cheek, and said those words to me.  “Don’t be afraid.”

“You said that to someone when we met.  You dodged the question then.  What’s that about?”

“I told you, she had a big trip.  It’s scary.  You have a trip to make, too.  But don’t be afraid.”

I frowned.  She was beautiful, but the crazy ones often were.  I stood up, wary. “Look, I don’t know what you think you … what you … think”  The words weren’t coming to me.  Everything was on the tip of my tongue, but I couldn’t catch the words.  I looked up, and everything was askew.  I realized that it was because I was falling, just before my head struck the tile. “Stroke … nine … nine one … “

She crouched beside me, caressing my face. “Before you go … thank you.  Nobody ever sees me.  You’re different, somehow.  It made me remember what it was like, when I was alive.”  I felt her lips on my brow.  “Go on ahead of me.  I’ll meet you there.”

I was so dizzy the room seemed to spin around me, despite how still I lay.  The room darkened more and more, and then I was gone.


My last body could see infrared and ultraviolet, but I can’t decide what to get next.

“I have no idea.  But I’m going civilian, and I can’t keep the law-enforcement upgrades.  They said they’d cover half of the switch to a civilian model.”

Doctor Ferraz was small and always smiling, but her cheer didn’t ring false.  She seemed genuinely excited about her job.  Of course, she also had pointed ears, naturally shimmering blue hair, and a bone structure entirely too elfin to be a coincidence.  It was obvious she had some enthusiasm for body modification, almost beyond the bounds of professionalism.  It was easy for me to overlook – I wouldn’t want a tattoo from an artist that had no tattoos, and I wouldn’t want a body mod from a doctor who’d never used one.

“So you just built for the job?”

“Biocapacitors charged one Taser shock a week from the hands.  Muscle mass, tendon strength, and bone density beyond the civilian limits.  Infra-red and ultraviolet vision.  I can see where people were sitting, if a car was recently driven, people moving in the dark.  Ultraviolet showed me clues.  Blood traces . . . among other things.”

Doctor Ferraz looked up at me, eyes wide and curious at my sudden vagueness.  “Other things?”

“Don’t ask.”

She blinked, then realized what I meant.  I was glad I didn’t have to explain.  The world that ultraviolet revealed was not a clean place.  “Okay . . . so your job picked your last mods, or you picked them for the job.  What job would you like?  There are so many new mods out!  There are deep-water mods with gills.  The mines and the research on the ocean floor require them.  If you got mods like that, you’d never hurt for work.  And then the orbital shipyard’s going up.”  She looked up at me, an impish grin crossing her expression.  “They’re looking for a new chief of security.  They told me to flag them if anybody mods for hard vacuum, and you were a cop, right?”

“I was a detective.”  There was mischief in her smile, and I suspected I knew just what was on her mind.  I focused my mind on the subject at hand, instead.  “How does it look?  I don’t want to be a space-squid.  Leave the exotic stuff for the people who want to be a spaceship.”

Her grin broadened, and she picked up a slate from the waiting room table.  With a few taps, she opened up a list of mods and swiped through them until she found one.  She held the slate between us, watching my expression from the other side of the holographic display.

I took the slate from her – I couldn’t focus with her eyes on the other side of the display – and examined it.  Hardening the eyes against vacuum.  A bonded layer over the skin, to maintain external pressure.  Valves in the ears and nose, multi-chambered lungs, to get every bit of air out of a breath, and with modifications with withstand vacuum.  There was no exhalation cycle; a custom-built organ diverted carbon into solid waste, instead.  And the body looked human.  I could be handsome in the classic sense.  Call me old-fashioned, but I wouldn’t give that up.

The list of warnings was long; the custom lungs and Co₂ processing had their own set of risks, but I didn’t see anything that was a dealbreaker.  I was moving into a cloned body so I could abandon any degenerative condition with another move.  The rare eyesight problems were a problem for a chief of security, but I’d worn glasses before.  No common neurological or psychological issues.

“You said they want a chief and wanted to know about people with these mods.  Will they help cover them?  This costs an arm and a leg AND a kidney.  The department only wants to cover half, and that was for a civilian model.  They won’t want anything to do with this.”

“I think for the right candidate, I could convince them to spring for it.  I’ll flash them a message if you’re interested.”

For twenty years, I’d been on the force.  It showed you the best and worst of men.  Did I really want another job policing?  On the other hand, administration was a different business, and it was a chance to go into space.  Space was still expensive to visit, and it would be a long time before the launch platform paid back its cost, and travel became cheap.  And it meant a new, unusual set of capabilities to explore, which wasn’t without its allure.

I opened a small case with a few sets of data chips; I pulled one out of the set to the far left.  My generic law-enforcement resume. “Send them that, and ask if they’d like to talk.”


It was a week before I heard back from them.  In the meantime, I visited the Corporeal Boutique a few more times, considering a number of modifications for a number of careers.  I learned more about Doctor Ferraz, too.  Her first name was Reina.  Her pointy ears were enticingly sensitive.  She liked creamy food, modern classical music, and having her hair stroked while she fell asleep.  We were eating breakfast at my apartment when the call came in.

“How do I look?”  I straightened my tie, fussing over my appearance.  Luckily I had already dressed to interview.

“Stop fussing.  You look fine.  Face forward for when the call connects.  Don’t let mid-fidget be their first impression.”

I obeyed, and turned to the screen, waiting.  A woman with her hair pulled back in a severe bun faced me as the image snapped to life.  A framed portrait on the wall.  I recognized the haggard, slightly overwhelmed look on her face.  Stacks of folders lay on the desk.  One of them laid open, but the angle was so shallow I couldn’t read anything from the forms inside.

“Detective Thomas Jameson?”

“You can call me Tom.”

“Tom.  We thank you for your interest, and your willingness to undergo modification for the job.  However, we’re seeking a candidate with more administrative experience.”  I felt the disappointment crease my features.  Then I frowned, looking at the folders on her desk.  I couldn’t read her papers, but I recognized the form layout.  Witness statements, and a lot of them.  “We don’t feel that the challenges faced in a community of this size are best served by an investigator’s level of–”

“I mean no disrespect, miss, but that’s bullshit.”  Reina choked on her coffee across the table, and waved her hands, trying to warn me off.  I ignored her, setting my elbows on the table, and folding my hands in front of my chin.  My thinking pose. “You think you need an administrator because your staff is untrained for what you’ve encountered.  You want someone to put a structure in place that will make everything make sense.  And –” In for a penny, in for a pound.  I threw the dice. “–If your chief of security were still alive, he’d know that your security team didn’t need more procedure.  They need to learn to examine, question, and think.  You saw my resume, you know I’m not incapable of administration, and I have every skill your staff needs to learn.”

We stared at each other for a long, nerve-wracking moment.  I steeled myself, hardened my eyes and waited.  Across the display, Reina was staring at me with wide, shocked eyes.

“. . . . Tell me what you know, and I might reconsider.”

“I know that you have a big stack of witness statements in front of you,” She quickly closed the open folder, “and if every one of those folders is the same, that’s a lot of statements.  Your current Chief of Security isn’t sitting in on this interview, meaning that he’s either not worth his title, or he’s incapacitated, or . . . ” I let my words trail off, before picking up again. “That many witnesses means a big canvas, and something big enough that everybody saw it.  But you’re still hiring for administration.  Another clue that your Chief is down for the count.  And I know nothing about this was in the research I did on your company, so you’re keeping it quiet.  Was it a design flaw that killed people?  Sabotage?”  Her flinch confirmed that theory.  “Sabotage, then.  The last thing you need is to push paper more effectively.”

Her face soured, and she regarded me for another long few moments.  “We’ll be in touch.”

Then the screen vanished, and I was left looking at Reina across the table, watching me in shock. “Do you think . . . ”

“They’ll call.  Not right away, though.  First, they have to pretend to be in control.”

Reina jumped out of her chair and into my lap, and her lips were on mine, fierce. “Tom, that was . . . damn, that was hot!  You know what you did? You just spanked a rejection call until they hired you!”

I rose, lifting her to sit on the table, and ran my fingers through her hair, the strands shimmering blue in the light.  “Reina . . . if I get this job, you know what it means.”

“She looked up at me, soberly, her excitement subdued.  “We both knew when we started that it might not last long. With you living in orbit . . . ”

I tucked her head into my chest, under my chin.  She burrowed against me, and I held her.  My mind was spinning though.  Maybe if I had any control over hiring?  No, HR would be intermediate.  I couldn’t offer jobs to anybody I liked.  If we had a sham marriage to help me get her to orbit, they might decide not to hire me.  I’d cost twice as much water and air to hire.  Maybe as a doctor . . .

“Their medical team didn’t list a body-mod specialist.  Did you see the list of warnings regarding the lungs on that mod?  It’d really benefit them if they hired a specialist.”

Reina looked up, her eyes a little reddened, her eyes searching my face.  “Tom . . . we both started this thinking it might last a week.  I didn’t mean to get this serious.  But if I take a job in space . . . I need to know you’re serious, too.  It’s hard to know what you’re thinking.”

I didn’t reply right away.  How serious was I?  I’d known her a week.  I knew she liked to be gentle, that she was quick as a whip and smarter than anybody I knew.  Myself included.  I knew she got mean when she was angry, and I knew that she hated herself afterward and needed to be forgiven before she could be comforted.  I knew that she qualified everything she said unless she was certain of herself, and didn’t mind being wrong – almost delighted in new understandings, usually.  On the other hand, I’d had girlfriends for months that I didn’t know half as well.  I felt the familiar tug of intuition, that force I’d trusted all my career and all my life, and decided to take a leap.

“I know it’s taking a risk.  But I’m deciding to take this seriously.  If you can get up there with me, you can count on me.  I’ll let them know how much I’d appreciate a specialist’s presence.”

“You’re ‘deciding to be serious?’  ‘I can count on you?’ I don’t need someone to water my plants!  I need you to need me!”  The table rocked as she pushed me, and she stood up, pushing me again. “I need you to care!”

“Of course I care.”  I cupped her cheeks, and laid my brow to hers, closing my eyes. “But caring isn’t enough.  Before I rip you away, I need to believe we can work.  I made a decision based on evidence that you and I can make it.  I want you to come with me.  Nothing so flimsy as feelings, Reina, there is bedrock to build on.  Come with me.”

She smiled and looked guilty all at the same time.  “Now I feel bad about yelling at you.”

I folded her in my arms, and tucked her head under my chin, squeezing her. “It’s okay.  All is forgiven.  You know that.”

She burrowed into my chest, the tension easing from her shoulders. “I like to hear it, though.””Will you look strange to me, when I see you?”

“You know I’ll try something new.  But it won’t be too strange, I promise.  You’ll know my face.  There’s a new one for zero-g.  I’ll be able to swim in the air.”

“Like a mermaid?”

She giggled. “Nothing so silly.  More like being able to spread wings from my hands and feet.  And put them away, too, don’t worry.”

“I wouldn’t mind a little strangeness.  Just remember to be human, too.”  The holographic display lit up again, trilling to signal an incoming call.  It was the Orbital Authority again, calling me back.  “That was sooner than expected.  Either they’re still rejecting me, or they’re desperate.”

Reina hopped out of my lap and smiled at me. “You tell them how it is.  You already spanked them once.  Don’t hesitate.  I’ll get up there.  If not with the specialist job, then something else.  You just get on your own way.”

I smiled at the encouragement and game myself a moment to imagine a future with her.  I hadn’t permitted myself that before.  I was so sure this would end.  It still might.  But waking up with her in my arms . . . I turned to face the display, and whatever the future held.

The Stench of the Hunt

What is that smell? And why are you wearing that?

“What is that smell?”

I wrestled the hip-waders off on the step, then peeled my socks off. Maya came to the open door. She was a head shorter than me, and considered plain by some. But the sparkle in her eyes and her questing mind made her shine. She came to the door now, and looked at me, watching me discard the protective gear, the poncho, the rubber gloves.

“And why are you wearing that?” Continue reading “The Stench of the Hunt”

Dire Gifts

The elf queen, hearing that yet another young hero was slain during a heroic monologue, decides she’s had enough. She gives her last magical weapon to the grizzled, no-nonsense human guard and says it’s up to him to slay the great evil.

Dire Gifts


“Dammit! Damn it all, another man dead while bragging to the enemy! Another blade lost! What do these idiots think dire blades are, Efran?”

I had not moved during her tirade. She would blow herself out and calm down. She never spoke to me, though. She spoke to her guards all the time, but never to Kirin, or Efran. I was surprised that she knew my name. “I don’t know, grace. But really, what are they? They’re not a birthright or a destiny. Just a rare and powerful tool.”

In her frustration, and being alone, she had laid across her throne. Her head laid on one arm, her knees hooked over the other. Now though, she flipped over, kneeling in the seat with her hands on the arm, and her ocean-blue eyes on mine. Her gaze was uncomfortably intense. Continue reading “Dire Gifts”

Gentle Slayer

The Brave Knight has been kidnapped against his will by the Beautiful Princess, now it’s up to the Scary Dragon to go rescue him.


I awoke in bonds, hanging from my wrists. I lifted my head, taking my bearings; the inside of a cabin, perhaps a peasant dwelling. No tapestries, no trophies, no portraits, the furniture all made of unadorned wood. The wood wasn’t local, and though plain, the craftsmanship very good. A silver cross on the wall. Perhaps not a peasant’s home, but a tradesman’s, or a priest’s. Simple, but not poor.

My armor, which I had been wearing while out riding, lay piled on the table along with my sword belt. I twisted to look behind me – I had been tied to a support column, and there were cuffs of metal on my wrists, secured by a tightly fastened bolt. I could cry out, but would anybody hear me? I heard no horses or carriages, no sounds of human civilization.

Best not to alert my captor yet, if I could help it. I crouched, bracing my feet on the floor, and pushed back against the support column as hard as I could; perhaps I could break it. I strained against it with no luck, then lifted away, and slammed my back against it. “Don’t bother dear, the house is very sturdy.” I snapped my head up, and a familiar face came out from deeper within the house.

“Princess Ravencort? Karina? What the hell is going on here? Quickly, get over here and loose these shackles.”

She looked at me, a little surprised, then giggled, a sound like pure crystal. “Oh, Prince. Don’t fear. I kidnapped you.”

Continue reading “Gentle Slayer”

Shooting Stars

You live in a world where you have three names printed on your wrist – your one true friend, one true love, and one true enemy. But only one name is printed on your wrist.


This is the first story in what I call the ‘Soul’ series, based on artwork by Kleg.(DeviantArt)

Artwork: City Lights, by Kleg. (DeviantArt)


I picked up speed down the gentle incline, leaning into the wind as the skateboard carried me faster and faster. At his hour there were few pedestrians out, and I slalomed back and forth, weaving past them. A shout, a curse, a whimpery gasp of fear as I whipped by pedestrians. I ignored them.

My hair streamed in the wind. The air tasted like freedom. And my mastery over the board under my feet, the hard-won affinity for this extension of my body, that tasted even better.

Then I was there. I pivoted my board and slid until I reached a full stop. I kicked the nose up and lifted it, slipped it through the cargo netting on my pack.  My other hand raised the camera from my hip, holding it before me.

I took a moment and absorbed my surroundings. Behind me, cars whizzed up and down the overpass.  The sun was setting, and I stood in the single place from which I could see the entire city.  From this angle, I could see fragments of the city beyond and around every high-rise and office building.

Headlights crawled up and down the roads, and the building lights shone, turning on and off.  There was not a single cloud, and the wind off the mountain had swept away the smog, leaving only a faint halo around each bright city light. I was not going to get a better shot.

Continue reading “Expression”