Calvin #FlashFiction -2 minute read

http://www.garwood365.com/


The Crawling Prisoner Swims
     Today is July 11 and I am so frustrated I could spit. I am so fed up with trying to do so many things that don’t pay off in the end. I want something to pay off for once. 
     I close my eyes for a second and take a deep breath. Black heat rises off the asphalt and stinks like tar. I can still see the sun burning through my eyelids. I hold my hand up to my eyes and open them real slow. That old rusty water tower behind the strip mall looks like it’s gonna fall down any minute.
     Man, I need to do something daring. Maybe climb up the tower and jump. Throw myself from the top like a little bawling baby and see what it feels like to sail the zero-point-five second drop and make a big splat onto the parking lot.   
     Bells jingle and a big guy walks out of that little bakery in the strip mall I used to work in. Yeah, I worked in that bakery but I wasn’t any good at it and every time something fell on the floor I ate it, slathered with butter. Man, did a lot of bread fall on the floor, piping hot out of the oven.
     I peek in the bakery window. The girl behind the counter is alone. Boy, she’s in for it coz today’s the day I’m gonna do something daring. Now, I’m not a criminal. I’m probably not any good at it but I can get up some guts and I watch enough TV to know how it’s done.
     And I got a gun from my daddy’s gun room. No, I never shot a gun before. I didn’t even check to see if the thing was loaded before I stuck it in my belt. He got some Asian things, too, like num chucks and that metal whip thing with the point on the end. I have scars on my back from that. He used probably every one of those weapons on me. 
     He got lots of swords, too. I pull out the little shiny one from its sheath and it feels nice and light in my hands. The metal glistens in the hot sun. No, I never swung a sword before and I’m probably not any good at it but it feels nice in my hands. I slide the sword back in the sheath hanging from my belt.
     So I feel like I’m going to a showdown when I walk into the bakery, my sword swaying at my side. The girl behind the counter starts to laugh at me.
     “Who the hell you think you are? Robin Hood?” she says.
     “Robin Hood used a bow and arrow,” I say.
     “Well you know what I mean.” She turns and rummages in her bag.
     I pull out the sword slow and it makes this cool tinny sound. “Give me the money out of the register or I’m gonna cut cha.”
     She laughs again. “Stupid, you wouldn’t cut me for this amount of money. I think I have about 50 dollars in here.” She slips around the counter and pushes on by me. The door jingles as she opens it. She steps outside and lights a cigarette. 
     I look behind the counter then walk back towards the restrooms. I peek around the corner where I know the office is. The door to the office is closed. Papers shuffle and a man coughs. That’s where they keep all the money. I’m having some of that, dammit.
     The office door swings open and The Owner stands there, a cigarette hanging from his lips. “Good God, boy, you scared the living piss out of me,” he says.
     I stick my sword under his nose, just a millimeter away from his upper lip. I could shave him with this thing, I bet. No, I don’t shave yet. I don’t know if I’ll be any good at it coz my daddy isn’t and always bleeds like a stuck pig. 
     We just stand there like that for a second or two. The door behind me jingles again.
     “Don’t move or this guy gets it,” I call over my shoulder. 
     “That’s what they say on TV,” The Owner says.
     “That’s why I said it,” I say.
     “Je-suss,” the girl says. “You dope. Get the fuck out of here or I’m calling the police.”
     I turn and fly towards her. My face is burning from the heat. I pull the gun from my belt. She turns and runs out of the bakery into the parking lot. 
     “Don’t fuck with me,” I say to her. She just runs and runs. Pull the trigger pull the trigger pull the trigger
     The recoil makes me stagger like daddy does and I spin around, trying to stay on my feet. The Owner just stands in the doorway like a dumb old ox. I look up at the stupid water tower. Maybe I should have climbed up there. Jumped off. I shield my eyes from the sun and point the gun at the tower. 
     Pull the trigger pull the trigger pull the trigger. The recoil sends me flying through the air. I fall back onto the boiling hot asphalt. I shake my head like a dog and get on my hands and knees. Something sounds like thunder rumbling over my head. Metal scrapes against metal. I look up, real slo-mo, just like TV. The tower comes at me, slo-mo, too. Slop, slop, slop, water pours out the top and zishes on the asphalt. I choke, swallowing lots of that metally water. 
     Bawling and choking is all I can hear under water. My head bobs up and I hear sirens. Bawling and choking. Gagging now, too. Sirens. Feet splashing in the water. Someone pulls the gun out of my hand. I think he broke my finger. I try to paddle away. The crawling prisoner swims.

Cover Reveal! #historicalfiction

The Soldier’s Return

Book 2 in the Heaven’s Pond Trilogy

Germany, 1626

A senseless war rips through parts of Germany. Ongoing animosity between the Catholics and the Protestants has turned into an excuse to destroy much of the landscape in the territories situated between France, Italy and Denmark. But reliSoldiersReturn 700kgion only plays a minor role in this very lucrative business of war. What better way to wage war than with underpaid, starving, sick, desperate mercenary soldiers?

Direct in the path of these marauding mercenaries lies the once-idyllic farm called Sichardtshof. The master and the maid have lived here the last ten years in a semblance of peace but teetering on the edge of destruction. The attacks are more frequent and the soldiers are more brutal than before. With the soldiers come disease, the plague. And Franconia has found scapegoats to blame for all this misfortune. Witch hunts and executions are more prevalent than ever.

The Soldier’s Return, Book 2 in the Heaven’s Pond trilogy, revisits Katarina and Isabeau and their journey of survival in the lawless German countryside of the early 17th century.

The Soldier’s Return-to be released in December 2016! 

#Fantasy #FlashFiction-2 Minute Read

Deer Mouse

          Protective Plague

     From the overlord’s house came a quiet but vicious argument. The other houses circling the town square stood quiet: my sister’s red wooden house built up on stilts after that last flood; the iron workers’ blue housing complex and their adjoining workshop also built on stilts; the dark-brown community building, windows tightly shuttered.
     The fountain in the square bubbled behind me. A mouse scurried around its stone base. The door of the overlord’s house slid upwards. He appeared on the step of the stately, tiered structure decorated with ornate wooden carvings. A woman’s sobs came from inside the house. He raised his nose to the sky and sniffed at the air, his wiry hair standing on end. He approached me by the fountain.
     “The weather has changed,” the overlord said. His heavy black cape fluttered behind him.
     “You notice such things, Master? Today is the Turn of the Season. Coupled with the full moon,” I said.
     “Oh, that’s why you tie those wreaths of herbs. Silly old traditions,” he said.
     “We will burn them at sunset on the Field of Fruition. These old traditions give the people comfort.”
     “This year we will initiate my new ritual,” he said. “Your traditions have no power. A deity is not appeased with burning herbs.”
     “With what then, Master? Burning flesh?”
     I heard a door slide open and turned suddenly. My sister appeared in her doorway, carrying a spray of reeds. Her two daughters, one head redder than the other, followed behind her. They carried baskets overloaded with sage and wormwood. Their door slid shut.
     “Good day, Master,” she said, dropping her reeds at my feet.
     I gathered three in my hands and began to braid their stalks. Her daughters set the baskets down on the stone steps of the fountain. My sister pulled both girls to her side.
     “Why is the workshop so still?” I asked her.
     “The men have crossed the ford to the settlement beyond the Never-Dying Forest. They’ve taken our surplus of food and hope to trade. Years ago the forest villagers made fabrics.”
     The overlord chuckled. “Those foolish men. No one lives beyond the water and the forest but barbarians. They don’t trade, they take.”
     “Then that will be our petition tonight at the bonfire,” I said. “The safety of all villagers involved, whether they come from Forest Village or Field Village.”
     “There will be no bonfire tonight.”
     By silent command, the double doors on the community building slid upwards. A group of leather-clad men, heavily armed with glinting steel, took two steps forward. Five young woman draped with dirty white shifts, hands and mouths bound, knelt behind their ranks.
     “My new Turn of the Season tradition starts today.” The overlord nodded to the troop. The men grabbed each of the young women under the arms and dragged them into the square. They were forced to kneel on the stone steps by the fountain. The overlord’s daughter was among them.
     “These women will be taken against their will on the Field of Fruition. The Mighty Deity will come and take the eggs as soon as they are fertilized. They belong to him. I will summon him. He will raise them in his glorious mountain realm.”
     I threw my reeds aside. “Our traditions and petitions are based on protecting our villagers, not sacrificing them.”
     “These women are ripe. We have prodded them all. The One True Deity will have his sacrifice.”
     “Men cannot enter the Field of Fruition at the Turn of the Season. It could bring us harm so close to the coming winter.”
     “Your foolish traditions cannot keep the furies of winter at bay. Harm will only come if one of these women becomes pregnant. She will be executed.”
     The midwife let out a shriek behind her gag. The barrel maker’s wife sniffed. The overlord stroked his daughter’s matted hair. 
     “If she becomes pregnant,” he said, “we will know she enjoyed the act. She will have defied the Mighty Deity. Women cannot become pregnant when taken against their will.”
     He took two steps forward, his face a breath away from mine. “These women can be saved. You give me the names of four others to take their places. You will be the fifth.” 
     He turned with a swish of his cape and, followed by his armed mob, disappeared into the community house. 
     My sister and I gathered our wreaths and we walked out of the square towards the fields. The sky was overcast and the rains threatened. Two women and their children bundled straw and had piled it neatly on a cart. Two other women whacked the lazy ox and the cart jerked into movement.
     In the middle of the Field of Fruition, wooden planks leaned on each other like an inverted cone. They came from the old demolished barn. In its place stood a new one. Since the great flood, our village had prospered. Mice scurried under my feet. We had enough grain that even the mice could multiply.  
     “The moon is coming up over the trees. We will start the fire now.” I said.
     My sister scraped her knife on her stone and sparks flew into a pile of straw. She convinced the fire to burn and we fed the flames until the dried planks ignited as well. I raised my wreath of braided reeds over my head. Mice scurried out from under the burning planks.
     My peaceful but protective petition rang silent in my thoughts. I threw the reeds on the fire. Sparks flew into the low storm clouds.  Mice scurried over my feet. I looked down and the Field of Fruition was no longer autumn-green, but mouse-grey. A layer of mice had formed, completely covering the Field. Well, this was not what I had in mind, but it would do. No one would enter this field tonight. 
 
 

Flash Fiction #mondayblogs

 

The River 
by Laura Libricz

 

     Calvin heard Old Man Hayes cough and cuss. A screen door slammed followed by the shot from a .22. Calvin knew he was in for it this time. He ran blind towards the sound of rushing water, the smell of rotting fish directing his steps. The recent rains had swelled the river up over its banks. Calvin stopped, wiped the bangs from his sweating brow and tried to find the trail that would lead him to the bridge.
     “Stop, ya little bastard! I’m right on yer tail,” Old Mann Hayes shouted.
     Calvin turned his head right and left like a nervous sparrow. He picked a precarious path through the stinging nettles. His foot slipped on some wet leaves and a branch snapped as he fell. A high-pitched shriek involuntarily escaped his lips. Another shot rang out.
     “I’m gonna get cha. I’m right behind ya!”
     Dull, thudding footfalls thumped through the underbrush. Old Man Hayes was so close that Calvin imagined he could smell the cheap bourbon that his father’s best friend always drank. Calvin was supposed to call him Uncle Frank, but to Calvin he would always be Old Man Hayes.
     Summoning all of his faculties, Calvin got back on his feet and shot forward, not caring which direction he was running in. He never saw the steep slope. He only felt himself rolling out of control, somersaulting down through the stinging nettles. He was then surrounded by a muffled silence, suspended in a cold watery womb, swept away by some unearthly current.
     He wanted to penetrate the water’s surface with his face, his lungs desperate for air. His hands flayed about, splashing cold droplets into his eyes. His feet thrashed as the rushing river carried him downstream. He thought he saw the bridge out of the corner of his eye. The water was shallow there, maybe he could stand. His feet touched the rocky river bottom. He tried to slow himself down when something slammed into his face. It pulled him under the water.
     Calvin threw his whole body into a furious motion. Something grabbed at the nape of his neck and had a hold of his sopping-wet jeans jacket. He kicked and screeched like a little girl. Old Man Hayes always made fun of his high-pitched voice and teased him about being a ball-less brat. That’s why Calvin set those snares around his barn. He wanted to watch ‘Uncle Frank’ Hayes fall flat on his drunken snoot. He didn’t really want to break that window when he threw the rock. It just happened. 
     Calvin heard Old Man Hayes scolding as his face was forced back under the water. He fought with all his might to get out of the old man’s grip. He broke the water’s surface and gulped some air. His face was forced back under. Bubbles escaped his nose. He was done for. Again he rose for another gulp of air. 
     “Would ya stop fighting me and let me get cha outtahere?” Old Man Hayes said.
     Calvin felt a sharp slap on his cheek.
     ***
     “Goddamit boy, don’t be so thick,” Frank Hayes said. He waded towards the rocks under the bridge, with a limp Calvin in tow.  He pulled him up the softly sloping river bank and deposited the boy next to his .22.  
     “Nearly drowned, ya damn fool,” he said.
     He turned Calvin onto his back and remembered a trick he’d learned in the army during the war. He’d fished a few buddies out of that goddamn foreign ocean. Pumped the water out of their lungs, he did. He placed both hands over Calvin’s ribcage and pressed his bear-weight down onto the boy. A rib cracked, then another. 
     “Ball-less brat. Shoulda been a girl,” he said. 
     He moved his hands over Calvin’s stomach and pressed down again. There shouldn’t be any bones there. Calvin spluttered and coughed. The equivalent of a tablespoon of water tricked from his lips. He helped Calvin sit upright. He noticed how much Calvin resembled his father. A good man, Calvin’s father, trying to raise this devil’s child by himself. Always in trouble, this Calvin. Skipping school, robbing houses. A good slap, that would fix him up.
     “Got cha outtathere in time, boy. The whirlpool is just beyond the bend there.”
     Calvin coughed.
     “You ok, now? Do ya think ya can stand up?”
     Calvin looked at the old man. Frank Hayes sniggered. The boy had eyes like a cornered squirrel.
     “Yeah, I think so,” Calvin said and coughed again.
     Frank Hayes stood, grabbed his rifle and pulled Calvin to his feet. He put two fingers under Calvin’s chin and pulled his face up. Their eyes met. He summoned as much anger behind that gaze as he could.
     “Fine,” Frank Hayes said. “Now just wait til I get cha home to yer father!”

 

Game of Aspects #flashfiction


A Wierd Tale
     The waning moon hung in a clear, black sky. Smoke rose from the chimney of the wood-planked farm house. Four crows sat on the sagging roof. One ruffled his feathers and its caw echoed in the chilly night air. Inside the house, Farmer Jones passed through the kitchen illuminated with one single oil lamp.
     Calliope music bobbed over the hedgerow towards me, along with the smell of popcorn. A bell clang- clang– clanged three times and a child cried. This was the last night of the carnival. They always headed out of town on the first of November.
     Driveway gravel crunched under tires, but not the four tires of a car and no headlights shined. A bike chain squeaked in cadence with labored breathing and then it stopped. Light footsteps approached the house. A figure stopped by the corner of the house and a woman’s face illuminated as she lit her cigarette. On tip-toes she peered into one darkened window, then sneaked on to the next. The crows cawed and flew from the roof, landing on my shoulders.
     One crow perched on my hat. I shivered and tried to shake it off. I unhooked my left sleeve from the wooden post, heard straw halms snapping as I bent my elbow and whacked at that bird. He squawked and flew off.  The woman had pulled the squeaky back door opened, looked over her shoulder left and right and silently entered the house, leaving the door open.
     An electric light came on in the kitchen. The woman’s voice demanded and reprimanded Farmer Jones. He stood silent.
     She gesticulated wildly and raised her voice. “I’ll go to the press, then I’ll go to the police,” she said. “Unless…”
     “You brought this all on yourself,” Farmer Jones said, his voice barely audible from where I hung.
     “I need more money. I’ll sue you for slander. What have you been telling the neighbors? You should hear the things they’ve been saying to me this weekend at the carnival.”
     “I haven’t told them anything. You gave them enough stuff to talk about!” Farmer Jones said. “First you broke up Harry’s marriage and moved into his wife’s bed, then you ran away with the carnival! Harry’s wife was your best friend.”
     “Harry’s wife is a deadbeat. It’s her fault that I moved in there.”
     I bent my head forward and the nail securing my neck to the wooden post pulled free. I unhooked my right arm and my upper half slumped forward. Caw, caw a whoosh of crows flew off the hedgerow and landed in the vegetable garden at my feet. The weight of my upper body loosened the nails holding my boots to the post and I fell into a pile of rotting tomatoes. Crow wings flapped and tickled my face as they noisily soared up to the roof.
     Inside the house, a door slammed. Glass shattered. Furniture overturned.
     “I don’t care if you’re my father. I’ll take what I want from you and you won’t stop me,” she screamed.
     “I don’t have any money. I used the rest to pay my apple-pickers.”
     “When I sue you, you’ll pay big. You just wait. When I’m done here with you, I’m going to see Harry’s wife. I’ll give her a piece of my mind.”
     “You hurt that family enough. Just go back on the road with your carnies,” Farmer Jones said.
     “You all hurt me and it’s time you all paid,” she said, her voice a high-pitched hysteria.
     Next to the fish pond, the migrant apple-pickers ignited a bonfire. They sang a song in their native tongue. The crows cawed along, a slow budding piece blooming into full crescendo. The veil between this world and my world was as thin as it would get this year. Spirit rose into my legs and I could kneel. I felt a glow in my belly and I could stand. Heard the wind in my ears and I could walk. Sensed the mad rage that had engulfed Farmer Jones’s daughter and I opened my arms. He came running out of the house with the crazed woman behind him.
     I closed myself around his shaking body and she stuck my straw-filled body again and again with a blunt, sharp object. I felt no pain, but deflation and spirit draining. She heaved and huffed, stabbing and spitting vile words. Chanted cawing rose to override even her most poisoned profanity.
     With the force of a gale wind, flapping wings threw us all to the ground. The crows squabbled, wrangled and pecked. The stabbing stopped. So did that woman’s breathing. The crows devoured in an inky-black frenzy. 
     A wispy cloud slid over the waning moon. After three clangs from the bell, the calliope wound up a melody. Farmer Jones crawled out from under what was left of my tattered burlap body and scattered straw stuffing. He shook himself once, went into the kitchen and poured himself a whisky.

The Ordered World #mondayblogs

Pieter Lastmann-1614- Susanne und die beiden Alten

Today’s Guest Blogger:

Pieter van Diemen, Amsterdam 1616
Mercenary Soldier, Seaman and Poet
Translated into English by Sebald Tucher

The Ordered World

Faith is a rope swinging from a point unseen
Grab hold and climb always risking a fall
Ambition, a droning motion grinding forward
Fueled by faith—the swinging rope.
Hope—like a pin prick of light that flickers
And dies at the mere touch
Only to repeat elsewhere on the horizon
Never reaching full sheen.

I’d let you in this time
Fool I am, I’m drowning deep
‘Tis you who’ll pay, ‘tis your crime
You will pay
Your crime this time

Evil lives in a hole in the wall
The eyes are green with envy
The claws are grey with mud
The breathe of Evil smells of rot
Of death and desecration

Happiness doesn’t need a metaphor because it doesn’t exist
A wispy ghost
Appearing usually when you’re not looking
You see it first when it’s gone
I know you know
I see your face
You look
I wretch
I’m reeling
I’m up
I’m out
Get dressed
Go home
You suck me dry, you’re stealing

Fear–locks frozen on an age old door
Rusty, unused, paralyzing fear

Freedom is the talent of fight
Freedom is the ability of flight
Awarded to a heavy stone statue after years of service
Death granted to the chronically ill.
Loss is what appears when I open my eyes in the morning
And my dream world recedes.