Sunday, May 30, 2010

One Artist

Using only song names from ONE ARTIST, cleverly answer these questions. Try not to repeat a song title. It's harder than you think. Let's hear some of yours!

Your Artist: Bon Jovi

Are you male or female: Good Guys Don't Always Wear White

Describe yourself: It's Just Me

How do you feel about yourself: Just Older

Describe where you currently live: I Love This Town

The first thing you think of when you wake up: I'll Sleep When I'm Dead

If you could go anywhere, where would you go: Destination Anywhere

Your favorite form of transportation: Mystery Train

Your best friend is: Captain Crash and the Beauty Queen From Mars

Your favorite color is: Blaze of Glory

What's the weather like: Dry County

If your life were a TV show, what would it be called: Outlaws of Love

What is life to you: It's My Life

What is the best advice you have to give: Dyin Ain't Much of a Living

If you could change your name, what would it be: Joey

Your favorite food is: Too Much Of A Good Thing

How I would like to die: Last Man Standing

My soul's present condition: Right Side Of Wrong

How would you describe your love life: I Got The Girl

What are you going to post this as: Lost Highway

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Another 20 Minute Story

This one comes from my friend Suzi, who writes two pretty cool blogs herself. Check them out here and here. Suzi had a pretty tough combination to work with here, but I think she pulled it off very well!

Character: a priest who's lost his faith
Conflict: digging up the wrong grave
Location: a mall

Father Joe sat in the food court, pushing his food from one side of
the tray to the other. He hadn't said grace before eating. What was
the point? What was the point of anything?

He slipped his hand into his pocket and let his fingers slide over the
cool shape of the trowel in his pocket. The only point left was this
one last job. When he was done with that-well, he didn't know what.
Death? Arrest? Possibly. He refused to think about the future held
after tonight. He imagined that an atheist must feel this way all the

The activity in the mall was winding down as it closer to closing.
Father Joe stood and dumped his untouched dinner in the trash can and
then made his way to the public restroom at the back of the food
court. With a little luck, though he no longer believed in luck, he'd
be able to stay in the mall the rest of the night. The trowel banged
against his hip, reminding him of his duty for the night.

Having safely evaded the janitor and the security guard (neither of
which seemed devoted to their jobs) he stopped up to the planter in
the middle of the mall. Why, why had Father Clemons passed this to
him? Why did he feel the need to fulfill the dying priest's last

Father Joe knelt before the largest stone in the planter. Almost, from
habit, he crossed himself, but pulled his hand down after the opening
gesture. He dug in the dirt, one ear listening for the guard who might
suddenly feel a need to do his duty. No footsteps echoed to him, but
he did hear the clink of the trowel on something, just as Father
Clemons had promised.

His hand trembled a little, as he reached into the makeshift grave.
There was no better word for it. Grave. Father Joe couldn't lie to
himself anymore. He knew that Father Clemons had done something
terrible and hidden the evidence here.

When Father Joe pulled out the little tin he opened it up and threw
his fist into his mouth to stifle the howl that wanted to burst
through him. It wasn't the hand and rosary that Father Clemons had
told him he'd find here. This was a set of teeth and fingernails and a
religious medal of another priest.

It was the wrong grave.


20 Minute Stories

Some writer friends of mine and I got together for a little fun. The idea was, can you write a complete story in twenty minutes, no matter how ridiculous the subject? We pulled our inspirations from the proverbial hat and tried to make it all work. We each received a character, a setting, and a conflict, sometimes creating pretty outlandish combinations, and then had twenty minutes to craft a story out of those elements. Here is one of mine from that evening and remember, it went from idae to story in twenty minutes:

SETTING: A Biker Bar
CHARACTER: Trash Collector
CONFLICT: Good vs. Evil

The dumpster behind the Piston Ring Bar was always overflowing and if Randy was in a playful mood he’s sometimes engage in a little dumpster diving before slipping the forks in and tilting the whole mess into the back of his truck. He’d found dozens of skin mags and a few pornos. Sometimes there were drugs and twice he’d found a handgun. Nothing ever really surprised him any more. Or so he thought. But when he lifted the lid and saw the glowing red eyes of the Demon Strum starting up at him he got the shock of his life.

A wide grin stretched the beasts black cracked lips and it climbed menacingly out of the trash and into Randy's gaping mouth.

The Demon took control of his body and after a few wobbly, tentative steps, pulled open the back door and entered the dim, dark, biker bar.

“What are you doing in here?” growled one of the bikers. Strum reached out a finger form the trash man’s hand and touched the biker’s forehead. Said biker burst into an orange flame and suddenly collapsed into a smoldering pile of gray ash.

“Who’s next?” Strum hissed, ready for a good fight.

“I am.” Came a high pitched voice from the ice maker behind the bar. The door slipped open and from behind the ice cubes came a blinding light as the anti-demon Cord leapt out. He looked around quickly and wriggled his way up the left nostril of the bartender.

After falling into the bottles behind the bar and sending them crashing to the ground, he found his footing and leapt over the bar.

“I can’t let you leave here.” Cord said, in a voice that sounded like angels singing.

“Try and stop me.” The demon Strum said in a voice that sounded like every politician you’ve ever heard.

They leapt at each other and the battle raged, sending the bikers running into the street.

For nearly a month the fight inside the Piston Ring could be heard from the street and every night the bikers waited to see who would emerge.

Finally on the thirtieth night, the war ended, and while nearly a hundred bikers waited at the front door, the fight's winner slipped out the back, down the ally and disappeared.


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Clowns and Vampires

My good friend Kim and I continuosly challenge each other to write short stories about absurd things that wouldn't normally go together, our first was vikings and butterflies, and if you'd like to read some of those, check out Kim's blog. Our latest challenge was to write a story about Clowns and Vampires. Stories have to be at least 1,000 words. Here is mine. Feel free to give it a try if you like.

Bill Wilbur

The world had moved on. Darkness and decay became the norm, where once there was hope.

At the beginning only small towns fell, and then cities and states, and eventually, as the darkness grew to unimaginable power, entire countries succumbed until the world finally became united. World wars no longer mattered when every day was a war of survival for those who remained. Of course, his father had seen it coming. He’d called it. Long before the rest of them recognized the apocalypse for what it was, his dad had pronounced the end times’ arrival and he’d been silenced for it.

But he’d been right. And Stanley supposed the joke was finally on those who claimed power. They were dead now too, or worse and all that remained was the daily fight for survival.

Stanley meandered through his fortress, feeling the weight of the new world, allowing himself a few moments of self-pity before moving on. They’d lived here once, he and Penelope, and they’d been happy. An uneasy laugh escaped him in the darkness of the room. Happiness was such a foreign and distant concept now that the word itself held no meaning.

He found himself in the bathroom doorway, staring at his reflection in the mirror. Christ he’d gotten old in a hurry. As near as he could remember, he’d turned thirty-two a couple of months ago. He looked fifty-two. Deep lines spread out from the corners of his eyes and his forehead held deep fissures created by worry and sorrow. Fighting vampires could do that to you.

He was still alive because they hadn’t known who he was or how to find him. He’d been careful to conceal his identity, traveling only on sunny days.

But somehow they’d found him.

He’d hidden his face every time he’d gone outside. Survivors soon discovered that the vamps shared a single consciousness. If one knew something, then they all knew it. That was one thing the movies and books he’d seen as a boy had never mentioned. Stanley smilled grimly. A boy, he thought. That had been a lifetime ago, when the monsters stayed at the back of the closet or tucked neatly beneath the bed.

He’d met Penelope after spending countless weeks alone. Back then, when he’d still allowed himself to hope, he’d stayed on the move. Every day he started at dawn and walked until late afternoon searching for normalcy, for a world he recognized, but that world was gone. Still he kept going, his search now focused on finding other survivors. After nearly a month, he’d discovered Penelope looting what was left of a convenience store.
They’d been cautious of each other from the start, circling one another like warriors seeking an uneasy alliance. Somehow they’d found a way to trust long enough to become friends, and over time, lovers.

Travelling together, they’d found others and soon had a mobile community, but when their numbers topped twenty it was time to settle down in one spot. Others would find them eventually and they’d soon have a small town full of people...real people.

Hope began to return.

It wasn’t long before a group of Vampires found them. The demons travelled in packs, another surprise the movies never mentioned. They moved fast and they were smart. Half our population was wiped out that first week and we learned to start hiding better and disguising ourselves. In our war paint we went out in teams and hunted them during the day. It was slow, disgusting work and it drained us both mentally and physically.

Penelope was like a machine in those days. She had more kills than anyone and Stan soon began to worry that she was enjoying the work a little too much. Her hatred grew and eventually blossomed into a mushroom cloud and all he could do was get out of the way.

Three months ago the Vampires took her. Stanley didn’t know how they’d found her, but early one morning she went out on a recon mission and never came back. They’d searched for days but nobody expected to find her. Stanley only hoped she’d died quickly and without pain but he doubted it. The vamps enjoyed causing pain.

And now they’d come for him. For all of them really.

Sometime in the night, he’d awoken to deliberate scratching at his front door. The heavy oak had been infused with garlic juice and splashed with holy water, and whatever creature scraped the words there endured considerable pain to do it.

Tonight, the crudely etched message read, bring them all. Paradise.

The Paradise, he thought. A run-down strip club in its best of days, now a pit so dark that vamps could sit inside and watch the street. Stanley opened up his makeup kit and grabbed the whiteface. He sighed deeply. What did it matter anymore? Why bother to conceal his identity now that they knew who he was? Closing his eyes, he applied the white to his already pale skin. The makeup was symbolic now more than anything. One day other survivors would come and they’d recognize the fight that he and his small group endured.

This morning at the town hall meeting he could see it in their eyes. They were tired, ready to fight or die and he suspected most didn’t care much one way or the other. Fight or die? Breathe or feed? Every man and woman in the room agreed to a single winner-take-all battle. A rumble from hell. A few of them even thought they could win.

Ringing his sad, bloodshot eyes with a bright, cheerful red makeup, he started to cry. Luckily for him the colors were waterproof. There was no hope left inside him and his body convulsed with the sobs that overtook him. When finally he’d regained control, he put on the finishing touches but he refused to redden his lips. No painted red smiles for him anymore. It looked too much like blood.

There was a knock at the door and he could see through the window the rest of the clowns standing and waiting. They all carried a shoulder bag filled with wooden stakes, but most had accentuated their arsenal with knives and swords as well.

Stanley slipped his bag strap over his head and picked up his shotgun. It couldn’t kill them, but it sure as hell slowed them down some. With a last glance in the mirror, he opened the front door and headed for Paradise.

It would be good to see Penelope one last time.