The Afterlife: theory 01

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In the afterlife you’ll be forced to repeat the events your life. Everything will be sorted by category rather than occurring in chronological order. You’ll proceed alphabetically through a customized list, from “Aardvark appreciation” to “Zima consumption,” until every box has been checked. You’ll peel 6,000 bananas in a row. Change 7,000 diapers. Eat 6,000 hotdogs. Sleep for 9,125 days. Burp for 182 hours. etc. etc.

This is punishment for thinking life is too short.

A Jagged Remnant

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A conflagration births a spark
Bursting hot from the source
Glorious in the moment
Burning without remorse

A jagged remnant

Particles end a fervid dance
Torn away from the whole
Separate from meaning
Suffering through the cold

Their fate imminent

Trapped within a frigid spin
The fire of creation
Ignites only to die
Spared pain and elation

Mourn the sentient

New Novella: NAUTILUS GALAXY

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Whenever Henry put his hands on his laptop he felt possessed–stories spilled out of his mind faster than his fingers could transcribe them. Well-aware of the bloated word-count of his latest novel, he began culling a myriad of subplots. After “killing his darlings” the battle-hardened prose of the surviving 500 pages seemed indispensable.

Henry’s last two interstellar epics had been deemed unmarketable by every major publisher, but despite a lack of interest or income he never stopped writing. His jobs waiting tables and cleaning carpets kept a roof over his head, but took up valuable hours he’d rather devote to expanding his fictional universe. The lives of his characters resonated with a vitality long-absent from his own.

Henry wasn’t driven by the desire to succeed as a writer, but the necessity of escapism. Nearly three years had passed since the night a Ford Aerostar van drifted out of its lane on Interstate 84 and struck Henry’s sedan. When he awoke from his injuries a month later, an investigator told him the car had careened through a guard-rail and rolled several times down an icy slope. The hospital staff assured him that his wife and son had died instantly, as if it would come as some sort of comfort.

Everything Henry cared about had been taken away in a flash, and the bills resulting from his stay in Sacred General soon took everything else. With his finances depleted and his marketing job lost, it was only a matter of time before the mortgage company came calling. Despondent at first, he eventually felt relieved to freed from the memories of Molly and Adam scarring the townhouse’s hollow spaces: chipped molding in the hallway from impromptu soccer matches; bits of tape on the windows leftover from tissue paper art projects; flecks of pancake batter trapped in the grout of the kitchen tile; a red thread stuck in the carpet from a bedraggled teddy bear. Away from the house it became easier to avoid being ambushed by remnants from his past life. The few mementos he couldn’t bear to part with were locked in the coat closet of his new apartment, only to be viewed on his terms.

Cheap liquor served to dull Henry’s pain when he couldn’t retreat into his imagination. He took risky sips of whiskey from his pocket flask at both of his menial jobs–behind the carpet warehouse’s dusty steel racks or inside the diner’s walk-in freezer–fuzzing the hard edges of reality until he could return to his fictional obsessions.

Writing was the only distraction potent enough to shield Henry from his grief when he was left alone each night in his cramped, studio apartment. As time progressed his torment lessened, but he was reluctant to examine the depths of his emotional well-being. Anguish had been the one emotion he could rely on–without it, he feared he’d be left nothing but an empty shell.

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NAUTILUS GALAXY

CHAPTER 12: Reunion

Only three pills remained in Anslin’s bandolier—enough explosives to free General Haslo, Kritt and her father. Even with the aid of repuslor lift boots, searching for her surviving squadmates through the ten kilometer-long Pilan frigate had proved taxing. The map unit of her scarab suit had been damaged during her initial raid and was rebooting at a snail’s pace. Come on, dammit, I need to know where they are!

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THE DELINQUENT AND THE DAMNED (horror short story)

WARNING: Graphic Content

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“Martin, I told you not to let me fall asleep! I always get a headache when I sleep in a car,” complained Pauline, rubbing her temples in frustration.

“This is an ’84 Chevy Silverado, not a car,” countered Martin.

Pauline glared at her brother. “Shut up.”

“I was hoping you might be less cranky if you got some rest,” said Martin. “I expected you to be a little more chipper after being rescued. You’re just lucky I was making a drop-off in Redmond.”

“Chipper? Really?” Pauline took a deep breath. “I do appreciate you coming to get me, I just…hey, where the hell are we?” she asked, seeing no hint of civilization as she peered out the window of the truck.

“It’s getting late. I pulled off the highway for a minute to look for somewhere to crash. Sometimes my job requires me to drive across the entire state, or states, in a single night so I–”

“Wait…what’s your job now?” interrupted Pauline. “Delivery boy, right?”

“I’m a courier for Northwest Bio-med,” replied Martin with a sigh. “I shuttle coolers full of blood samples and organs between facilities in Oregon and Washington. Mostly research samples not worth the expense of putting on a plane but too delicate to be shipped by parcel.”

“Gross,” said Pauline, sticking out her tongue, “and boring.”

“Shut up. I never see what’s inside the coolers. Sometimes I don’t even know what I’m carrying…anyway, the money’s decent.”

Pauline looked over her shoulder. A stainless-steel lockbox and a refrigerated cooler were next to each other in the bed of the truck. “So, do you have a brain back there?”

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