Short Story-Mixmaw’s Intergalactic Travelling Bazaar

The spaceship dropped out of the clear blue sky above Marigold street.

John Sutter, kneeling to adjust the carburetor on his gas-powered lawn mower, noticed the flicker of shadow that crossed his half-trimmed lawn. He looked up, and the screwdriver fell unnoticed from his fingers.

Across the street, Margaret Wilson dropped her laundry basket and screamed. Soon, the entire neighborhood was watching, people pouring like ants out of their tidy suburban homes and gaping up at the sky. Dogs barked. Babies cried.

The ship looked insect-like, all strange angles and bulges, descending at a stately pace with no wings or rotors or jets.

The people gathered around in a wide, ragged circle as the craft hovered lower. It extruded a set of landing legs and settled down in the middle of Marigold street, hissing and venting gasses and steam.

A pregnant pause followed. The residents of Marigold Street began to talk in hushed tones, “Is it dangerous? Shouldn’t we call someone? How in the world…”

The alien craft shuddered, and the crowd once again fell silent. Then, as they all watched, it began to…unfold. Hatches hinged open, panels slid away, irises irised. Out came racks, shelves, tables, display cases, stuffed full of strange and wondrous objects.

From somewhere, jolly organ music began playing.

A door opened, and out stepped the alien: a six legged, bug-eyed, chitinous horror. Wearing a top-hat.

“Gentlebeings all, welcome to Mixmaw’s intergalactic travelling bazaar! I bring you unique and remarkable merchandise from around the universe, from the nomadic tribes of Kafazz, to the factories of Kranth. Wonders such as your eyes have never seen!

The alien stepped in front of the racks of clothing. He pointed at Margaret Wilson with two of his segmented arms. “You there, transporting your soiled garments. Never do laundry again!” With a segmented arm it held out a sky-blue blouse. “With your clothes made of hand woven Chiksa silk, the dirt slides right off! And it’s smooth as the underside of a Ganwellian cloud plant.”

Margaret ran her fingers along the cloth, sighed dreamily, and passed out with a smile on her face.

“And you sir, using that primitive machine to trim your photosynthetic ground cover! Try one of these, instead!” A boxy wheeled robot crawled out of a hatch in the spaceship and trundled towards the half-mowed lawn. “A tirelesss yard sentry, the Karvallian trim-bot never needs batteries, never stops working, and…it uses advanced Karvallian technology to convert your grass clippings into gold coins.” The little robot tore into the grassy yard with fervor, leaving a trail of shiny golden droppings behind.

“And that’s not all,” said the alien, pulling open a cabinet. “I have spices from the far mountains of Flandoor, the likes of which your terrestrial taste buds have never dreamed! Try this, sir, it’s a Taltanian garlic from the lowlands of Skrife.” He shook out a sample into John Sutter’s hand.

John cautiously tasted the powder. He gasped and fell to his knees, weeping uncontrollably. “It is the single most beautiful thing I’ve ever experienced!” he cried. “My greatest regret is that I’ve gone my entire life without tasting this, the perfect ambrosia, the nectar of the very gods themselves! I’ll never again enjoy lesser foods. My life is ruined.”

“Quite right, sir.” Said Mixmaw. “And this is only a small sampling of my wares. Find true love! Defeat your enemies! Cure diseases and live forever! That’s right, the finest and most unique wares in the wide universe are available to you, right now, at low, low prices.”

“Well good God, man, how much!” screamed John Sutter. “I’ll pay anything. Anything!”

“I’m not a greedy being. I provide these wonders practically at cost, for the simple joy of bringing fine products to the far corners of the universe. The spices begin at a price of only twelve Chaburi.”

“What’s a Chaburi?” asked Martha.

“You don’t have Chaburi? Oh, my mistake. I also take payment in Megars, Tandillos, or Kawillian trade certificates.”

“But we don’t have any of those things!” said John. “We only have dollars.”

“What’s a dollar?” said Mixmaw.

“Or, or pounds! Euros! Pesos! Loonies! Yen, baht, rupees, gold, whatever you want!”

“I’m…I’m afraid I don’t take those. And why would I want gold? I have a lawnmower that shits gold. Are you sure this planet doesn’t even deal in Klavix? The exchange rate is terrible, but I suppose it’s better than nothing.”

“No,” answered Margaret,  “we don’t even know what those are.”

“Does anyone even have a credit account with the trans-galactic trust bank?” Met with blank stares, Mixmaw held his hat in his hands, sheepishly. “I’m afraid I’ve made a terrible mistake. Really must update these travel atlases. How embarassing. My mistake, of course. All my fault. Terribly sorry.”

The alien climbed into his spaceship. The stalls and shelves and racks and displays neatly folded themselves back into the ship. Irises irised. Panels slid shut. Hatches hinged closed. The ship lifted off the ground, up, up and away, and disappeared into the baby blue sky.

Six Word Fiction Day

Inspired by a few other bloggers, also too lazy to write a full blog post today, I’m gonna try out this whole six word fiction thing. Here goes nothin’…

***

Then the world exploded. The end.

***

“Shouldn’t have left the baby there…”

***

“My love is the sea. And heroin.”

Author’s note: Oops, this is seven words. Let me try that again.

“My lover is the sea. Lion.”

***

“Cut the red wire, right?” Boom.

***

The applause turned to horrified screams.

***

He spread his wings and died.

***

“Oh my God he ate it.”

***

“You’re bluffing.”

“Afraid not.”

“Well, shit.”

***

“I wasn’t completely honest with you…”

***

“But flipping off cops is legal!”

THE DEVIL’S MOUTH Update: Soon.

Well hello there, reader! Just a quick update on the progress of my soon-to-be-released book, The Devil’s Mouth

But first I’d like to say, “soon” is one of those words that quickly loses all meaning when you read it too many times. Soon. Soon. Soon soon soon. Soooooon….

Okay, anyway. I’ve just received the first proof of the Kindle version of The Devil’s Mouth, (My soon-to-be-released supernatural action-horror novel) and I must say it’s looking sharp. If I hadn’t already read it like ten thousand times at this point, I would definitely want to buy it.

So, I’m reading through it one more time, making sure the formatting is okay. And I’m also making a list of blogs and websites that review this sort of thing, in anticipation of its Kindle release, which will likely be later this month. Exciting!

If anybody would like to suggest a book review blog or website, (of which there are a bewildering variety) please let me know down in the comments or shoot me an email. And if any of my loyal readers are interested in an advance copy for review, that could possibly be arranged…

 

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Oh baby, you look so good to me right now…

What’s wrong with pulp? Nothing, that’s what.

The Brothers Karamazov broke me. It straight-up broke my will.

Before that point, in my early community college days, I fancied myself as a young literati in the making. This was years before I ever had the courage to put pen to paper and transfer stories from my brain to a physical medium, but I still had this vision of myself as a man of letters, a cultured, educated person, with a deep understanding of Shakespeare, able to quote Montaigne or Kafka, sitting in some corner cafe and sipping a cappuccino while I read Sartre. Then that artsy girl sitting over by the wall would notice me, dammit!

This is why I thought I needed to read The Brothers Karamazov. I mean, I was smart. I was a reader. I’d gotten through the unabridged Hunchback of Notre Dame. I’d read Celine and Conrad and Heller and Huxley. I gritted my teeth and finished Dostoevesky’s other much-celebrated wall of text, Crime and Punishment. Surely, I would enjoy this famous, well-known, important book, right? Wrong. Good god. I gave it a try, I really did. But I’ve read more engaging soil-science textbooks.

The funny thing is, as a writer, I never wanted to be great. I’d like to be good, sure. I’d like to be entertaining. But it’s never been my goal to be profound or brilliant. Tough talking detectives. Dangerous dames. Vampires, zombies, spaceships. Dinosaurs. Vampires fighting zombie dinosaurs in spaceships. My inner world has always been sleazy and pulpy. Adventure and escapism was what sparked my love for reading in the first place. So why, now, was I turning my back on my first love for this stodgy old bitch of a novel?

And that’s the thing I realized, sitting on that bench outside the library at the community college, as I slogged through page after page of Fyodor Dostoevski’s seminal doorstop. I realized, I’m not enjoying this at all. I realized I wasn’t doing it because I liked it. I wasn’t doing it because I was gaining knowledge or insight or context or appreciation of the world. I was doing it to feed my ego. So I could be that smart guy. So I could look down on the uneducated rabble and laugh snootily. “What’s that you’re reading, Stephen King? Oh my word, how very jejune…”

That same day, I dropped The Brothers Karamazov, with a weighty thump, into the library’s book return. And I checked out a dog-eared paperback copy of Stephen King’s The Stand.

Since then, my primary judgement of “good book” or “bad book” are the simple questions: Do I give a shit? Do I care what happens next? Do I want to turn the page?

Now I’m not saying that there isn’t great literature out there to be had. Steinbeck and Hemingway were both writers who will practically bash you over the head with their brilliance, yet their stories are entirely readable. I want to turn that page. And even popular authors have gems of wisdom and insight hidden within their pulpy adventure stories. It’s like they can’t help it. The greatness just oozes out, somehow. Nelson DeMille is a perfect example. His bread and butter is writing airport-bookstore paperbacks about terrorists blowing up New York or whatever, and yet if you read The Gold Coast or Up Country, you’ll see soul-baring storytelling that approaches brilliance. The same with Philip K. Dick. It’s like he was trying to write pulp sci-fi, but somehow wound up with philosophy. Dashiell Hammet and Raymond Chandler, in their day, were considered cheap trash writers. And now they’re classics.

Now, don’t let me stop you from trying out Dostoevski. He is still in print after 150 years, and I guess that has to mean something. Just because it wasn’t for me, doesn’t mean it won’t be for you. The point is, you don’t owe a book a damned thing. If you don’t feel like it’s grabbing you, if you don’t give a shit and you have no desire to turn the page, kick it to the curb and go find something you do like. Even if I wrote it. Even if you’d be embarrassed if that artsy girl in the cafe saw you reading it.

 

Short Story-Space Kitten

“What is it?” said Karen, staring at the blips on the radar screen.

“I don’t know,” Tom responded, the color draining from his face. “Some kind of deep-space radiation storm. But not like any I’ve ever seen.”

Boots, the new ship’s cat, jumped up onto the navigation console and strutted between Karen and the screen. She batted at the moving radar blips with her tiny paws. “Not now, Bootsie,” Karen scooped the cat up and deposited her on the ground. To Tom, she said, “Can we divert?”

Boots, insulted, sat and licked her paws.

“It’s too big and moving too fast. It’s coming right at us.” Tom read the displays for another second, scrolling through the data with one finger. Boots jumped back onto the console and rubbed her whiskers against Tom’s finger, closing her eyes and purring madly.

Tom shoved the cat out of his way. “Karen, I need to you go to the engine room and shut off all the manual breakers, so maybe this thing won’t fry our electronics. If it doesn’t kill us, at least we’ll have a functioning space ship.”

“I’m on it.” Karen rose up out of her seat and sprinted towards the cockpit door—and nearly tripped on the kitten that twined between her legs. She stumbled, stepping over the cat, and ran down the corridor.

The cat trotted behind her. “Meowp? Mroop? Mewp?”

Karen wrenched the breaker box open, ignoring the lid that clattered to the floor, making Boots jump. She frantically threw switches and pulled fuses out of their sockets. The fuses littered the floor of the engine room. One by one the ship’s systems shut down. The lights went out. The vent fans went quiet.

Boots batted a fuse down the corridor, then, after a butt-wiggling pause, chased after it.

One final breaker, and the artificial gravity shut off. Karen’s feet rose off the floor. Bootsie twisted around as she floated, still trying to get at the fuse.

“Here it comes!” Tom yelled down the corridor. “Hold on!”

The ship rocked violently. Green lightning shot across the engine room, showering sparks wherever it touched the metal bulkheads. There was a sound like the crackle of high-voltage wires. The overhead lights lit up of their own accord and pulsed a pale green. One of the lighting panels shattered and showered Karen with clear plastic shards.

Tiny green bolts of lightning shot from Karen’s fingers. Her teeth ached. She felt a rising warmth in her chest. The very air seemed to glow green. She screamed.

Boots howled.

In the cockpit, Tom hunched over, holding his belly, and gritted his teeth. his hair stood on end.

One more brilliant flash of green lightning, and it was over. The ship was quiet.

Karen replaced the fuse in the gravity system and sank gently to the floor as she eased the slider up to one g. She turned on a few more essential systems, then stumbled up to the cockpit while Boots, looking dazed, followed along behind her. “Are you okay?” she said to Tom.

“I think so,” he said, scrolling through the system diagnostics. “It’s crazy, but it seems like that storm…it seems like it didn’t do anything at all!”

Boots jumped up onto the console. The cat said, “You know, I’m actually not so sure about that.”

 

Unbridled Florp-a love scene written with made-up words

A little while ago, I had a conversation with my good friend about the difficulty of writing love scenes. I said that word selection was tough, because the choice was often between the overly clinical or the overly juvenile. She said, “Well, luckily you can just make up your own words.”

I responded, “You fool, you have no idea what you’ve done, giving me a crazy idea like that.

And so I present a passionate love scene, populated with nouns and verbs (and a few adjectives) of my creation. I apologize in advance.

Please, read no further unless you have a filthy mind and a twisted sense of humor.

Oh my god, I can’t believe I’m actually posting this.

Continue reading

Short Story-The God Seed

By Matt Kincade

 

Our people’s history began when the God-Seed fell.

Before that, time was a wheel, endless cycles, uncountable, none different from the last.

Then, in the third moon of the birthing season, it happened. The God-Seed came out of the sky.

 It began as a new star. Then it grew brighter and brighter until it was a fire in the sky. A great roaring sound filled the air. We cowered in terror, believing that our destruction was at hand.

It fell with a crash, and all of the land shook. When the dust had settled, there stood the God-seed. We had no words for what it was. A tree? A mountain? It stood, stuck in the earth, towering over the plains, made of a strange, hard material. Our stone axes shattered upon it.

The tribes gathered from all corners of the land to observe this strange new phenomenon, to decide what should be done.

Even as we gathered, the God-Seed began to change. It sprouted things like the leaves of a tree, but hard and reflective. And roots, that travelled across the ground away from it. Each of these roots began to swell, to grow, and a bulb appeared on it’s end. The bulb grew larger and larger, until it was larger than the largest of our roundhouses. Still it grew. Segments of it became transparent like water, and we could see strange things happening inside.

There was another world inside the god-seed. Strange grasses grew. Lakes appeared, and bizarre creatures flickered below the surface. We build huge scaffolds leaning against the structure so we could see inside, but still, our best tools wouldn’t leave a scratch on it’s surface.

Something grew that looked like a door, but we could not open it, nor would it burn. A strange thing appeared next to the door, a cluster of nine square knobs, and above it a glowing rectangle with these strange symbols: ENTER ACCESS CODE

The greatest scholars from all over our world gathered at the god seed. They discovered many, many more of the strange symbols, mapped out every inch of the thing. They catalogued every group of symbols. ATMOSPHERIC SENSOR PACKAGE, GAS VENT 3B, ANTENNA CLUSTER.

The elders stayed up late, sitting around the campfire, smoking Djatt out of long pipes and scratching the strange symbols in the dirt, debating their meaning long into the night. A city grew up around the god-seed.

Inside it was another world, green, lush, teeming with life. An oasis in the middle of our hot, dry land. Two legged things strutted around, pecking at the fertile earth with their hard, pointed mouths.

One day the scholar Kanak, a young male from the far continent, arrived. He sat for many hours, smoking Djatt, observing the symbols, running his hand softly over the keypad. He went out into the desert for a day and a night. When he returned, without a word, he pushed four of the strange knobs. The knobs lit up. There was a whistle like the call of a Knarud, and the door slid open. Cool, wet air poured out.

It was a bounty as we had never known. We knew then that it was truly a gift from the gods. We had solved the riddle and proved ourselves worthy. The God-Seed was large enough to fit all of us within. There were plants and animals there, more delicious than we could have imagined. Enough fresh water to fill an ocean. We thrived in that place. Our scholars long having studied the God’s symbols, soon mastered the knowledge machines found within the god-seed. From there we learned of math, of astronomy, of medicine, of Shakespeare and Homer. We learned the history of the mythical creator beings, the humans.

And then one day another star appeared in the sky. Was it another God-Seed? The gods themselves, come to reveal greater knowledge and greater truths? We huddled inside the God-Seed, deep in prayer, awaiting whatever bounty the gods might bestow.

High above planet XR-44211, the colony ship Sojourner flickered out of foldspace and entered a high orbit. Fresh from twenty years of cryosleep, captain Brillan, her long auburn hair still wet from her first shower in decades, stepped onto the Sojourner’s spartan bridge. Her dark-blue uniform was crisp and freshly ironed, and her knee high boots polished to a mirror shine. She returned the officer’s salutes and stepped up to the window. XR-44211 turned slowly outside the viewing window, a broad marbled sphere of reds and oranges and yellows, with wisps of white clouds roiling across its surface.

“There it is,” she said, “our new home. Not much to look at, is it?”

“It has what we need.” said the tech officer. “The hab modules arrived safely, and have fully deployed. Once we get settled in, we can start the terraforming— wait a minute.”

“What is it?”

“We’re getting some strange signals from habitat five. It looks like…it looks like the door seal is broken. We’ve got a bit of an infestation.”

“Do we have a visual?”

“Just a second,” said the tech officer. He hit a button and the viewscreen filled with video of hordes of furry six-legged creatures running amok in the habitat, chewing the corn, slaughtering the chickens, plucking the Tilapia from the lake, lounging on the genetically engineered carbon-sequestering grass.

Brillan made a disgusted face. “God, what a mess.”

The tech officer tapped a few more buttons. “Sensors indicate they’re carbon based, largely water-based chemistry, standard oxygen-carbon dioxide respiration cycle. Not that much different from Earth fauna.”

“Okay,” said Captain Brillan, “Let’s get ’em out of there. Let’s try piping a broad spectrum nerve poison through the fire suppression system.”

The tech officer hit a few more buttons. “I can do that.”

Deep in prayer, we waited for the will of the gods to be revealed to us. When the water began to fall from the sky, we wondered, what new gift will our benevolent gods bestow upon us?

I got my new cover proofs, and I’m super excited

I might have mentioned once or twice that my upcoming novel, The Devil’s Mouth, is creeping ever closer to publication. Okay, I might have mentioned it more than once or twice.

The blog experts (blogsperts? blogthorities?) tell me that I should maintain a 1:10 ratio of self-promotion versus other content, so that my blog is entertaining and informative and doesn’t seem like a blatant commercial. But dammit, I’m really really excited, so I just have to break the rules.

The_Devil_s_Mouth_eCover(1)

This is what I’ve got so far. Pretty cool, right? I love the Fear-And-Loathing vibe, and I think the tone fits just right, conveying the pulpy action vibe, letting you know that it’s certainly not YA fiction, but it’s not all that damned serious, either. It lets you know right up front that it’s about a guy in a cowboy hat who kills vampires with a samurai sword, and if that’s not your bag, you should probably go and read some other book. It’s a strange and pretty cool experience to see my own bizarre imagination interpreted through somebody else’s eyes.

All the stuff on the back cover is filler, so don’t bother reading all that. Just marvel in the glory. Marvel, I say! Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000039_00021]

I’ve been working with Jake Clark at http://www.jcalebdesign.com to put a cover together, and he’s been an absolute joy to work with. If anybody out there reading this is looking for a cover designer, I’d highly recommend checking him out.

What do you guys think? Questions, comments? Shameless flattery? Leave a comment down below!

Short story-The Guardians

By Matt Kincade

The young buck approached an ancient forest clearing. Tentatively, his ears swivelling this way and that, he stepped forward. His dark eyes, wide with fear, searched the moonlit night for danger.

Still, an ancient calling pulled him forward. His hooves sunk into the soft carpet of pine needles. Delicately, he perked his head up and scented the air.

Stands Proudly,” said a voice that seemed to come from everywhere and nowhere, speaking the buck’s secret name.

Stands Proudly stood, rooted in terror.

Stands Proudly, step forward.”

Then he saw her. The doe was pure white. Her eyes were pink. Standing in the clearing, surrounded by a perfect circle of pine trees, she glowed with an inner light.

Grandmother,” said Stands Proudly, bowing his head until the velvety tips of his young antlers scraped the ground.

My child,” said the old doe,you have been chosen.”

the young buck snorted in frustration and pawed at the ground. His eyes rolled as if searching for an escape. “By why me?” he cried, “I have so many summers ahead!”

I am sorry, young one. I do not choose. I am only a messenger. A conduit. I wish that it could be otherwise.”

After a moment, Stands Proudly nodded. “I know, grandmother. You are wise. I do not question you. I only wish…I wish I could have had a little longer.”

As do I. You deserve many more summers. Many mates, and mighty antlers spread like the branches of an ancient oak. Alas, it is not to be. Our mission is too important.”

“But why must it be this way?”

The old forest gods have chosen our kind, young one. It is our eternal task to keep the balance. To maintain harmony. When the earth’s energies are out of tune, then we must act. It is our duty. This is known.”

Yes, grandmother.” The buck sighed again and bowed his head, accepting his fate. “What is my mission?”

A man approaches,” said the old doe. “The fate of universes hinge upon his actions. He is as innocent, as blameless as you. Yet another pawn of the cosmic dance. But his son, should he be born…” Grandmother closed her eyes then, and Stands Proudly saw a vision in his head. Liquid death raining from the sky, a wave of fire rolling across the land, slaughter and sorrow and pain.

Stands Proudly’s eyes widened. “All that, from one man?”

Grandmother nodded sadly. “Some beings are as a rock balancing upon a hilltop. The slightest push may cause a landslide. Untold destruction from only the smallest breeze. We must prevent this. He must be stopped. It is our ancient duty.”

I will not fail you, grandmother.”

I know, Stands Proudly. I know. You are of a noble line. Your ancestors have served me well, from the very beginning.” The white doe’s ears perked up. “He approaches! Go now! Quickly!”

Stands Proudly dashed through the forest, leaping fallen logs, splashing across a stream bed. He hurried down the embankment and felt the hard, smooth surface under his hooves. “If I die, I die standing proudly,” he whispered.

The young buck held his head high and bravely stared down the headlights as they rushed around the bend in the road.

 

Author’s note: This odd little story was written in response to the question, “Why are these stupid kamikaze deer always jumping out in front of my car like it’s their job?”