Category Archives: Effete Fiction


Left it right here, I swear

Every time I go back to the apartment, I feel like someone’s watching me.

My husband tells me it’s just paranoia, but when the sunset lengthens the shadows, my skin always begins to crawl. I can feel them, over that way, watching and waiting for something.

All in my head, my husband insists. The only thing “out there” is the Pacific Ocean, uninterrupted for at least five thousand miles. Who do you think is watching, exactly?


The whales had been watching humans develop in downtown San Francisco just before the tsunami arrived.

…It was there just a moment ago…

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100 words. Inspired by this week’s Friday Fictioneers prompt:



“Come on then, Jones, it’s your turn to give us a tale, mate.”

Jones had planned his tale during the previous traveler’s story and sat up on his robomule, ready to begin.

“Quite so. My lords and ladies, during my travels I have been many places and seen much. The tale I offer today is tragic, and true. It’s about a lady I met in the Lesser Magellanic who had more than forty thousand children.”

“Protraxilone is a frontier colony, and it would be idyllic if it were located elsewhere. Because it’s in the Cloud and its primary is part of an x-ray binary system, the local background radiation is enormous. Genetic damage is inevitable, and the birth defect rate is nothing short of tragic. For years, the Protraxan mothers had relied on IVF using imported ova, because of the risk.

That is, until Rothchild Zaggerty and his family arrived. Doctor Zaggerty set up a carefully shielded genetics laboratory and took on new patients immediately. He offered a new process, artificial oogenesis, the creation of new and healthy ova using the mother’s natural genes present in any tissue sample. Since the DNA came from healthy cells of the mature mother, he claimed, the new ova were free of damage from ionizing radition and could be stored in shielded containment until needed.

Protraxian mothers were thrilled, naturally. For the next fifteen years, ‘Zaggerty Eggs’ were involved in the majority of all childbirth. Not coincidentally, Doctor Zaggerty’s clinic made him a fortune, until genetic testing eventually revealed the disturbing truth. An entire generation, just about forty thousand children, all had the same mother.

Zaggerty’s process wasn’t anything like what he claimed. He’d actually harvested tens of thousands of immature ovum in the dictyate stage from his own pre-pubescent daughter. These oocytes were thereafter artificially maturated and produced as ‘miraculous Zaggerty Eggs’ whenever necessary. He took an enormous shortcut, completely unethical in every way. Thousands of Protraxan ‘natural’ mothers are unrelated to their children.

Doctor Zaggerty’s eventual fate was, well, ugly.

His youngest daughter Eva turned out to be uninvolved in the conspiracy. Eva is now the all-mother, oddly venerated by Protraxan society, yet has never given birth herself. Not her fault her dad was the most hated man of an entire world.

She enjoys fruity cocktails, you know.”

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385 words. Inspired by this week’s Flash! Friday prompt. It’s a Canterbury Tale, of sorts.

(I actually went to sleep last night without an idea, and sat up in bed well after midnight with a dream–so I missed the deadline, but had a story.)

These write-it-before-midnight challenges just don’t seem to work the same way my subconscious does. That’s okay, it’s almost double the desired length anyway.

Nor am I an expert human geneticist. To do this tale right, I’d need to interview one, get the details right, and reproduce this tale at short-story or novella length.

And Party Every Day

Some religions said it was inevitable I’d find myself here. They just didn’t get much else right.

All of the descriptions of “here” vary wildly, of course. I never would have recognized the afterlife from any description I’d ever heard. For a few minutes, I didn’t even recognize where I was.

I looked found myself in surroundings that were so ordinary, the interior of a vaguely industrial-styled building. I’ve feel like I’ve been here before. Everything looks familiar: the echoing halls, lockers, and stairs. I can’t quite… This is my high school!

The obvious first hypothesis arrived in a flash. It’s a dream. Why else would I be inside a building I last saw more than thirty years ago? There’s the trophy case, and the photo of the ’79 Division Champions team with goofy-looking seventeen year old me in the second row.

That didn’t explain the surfacing memories of the ambulance, two EMT’s, the gurney, the searing pain… Oh, please no no, not another stroke.

I rocked my forehead against the cool glass of the trophy case. Annie, I’m so sorry. Dwelling on the opportunities lost forever, feeling sorry for myself, feeling lost and confused and frightened. Swimming circles in an emotional whirlpool, for subjective centuries.


She stood at the bottom of the stairs. She was wearing the ubiquitous Levis, red sweater, carrying schoolbooks, her blonde hair crimped in a style from the 70s. Déjà vu, I knew this face, once upon a time…

“You don’t remember me, do you?” She grinned. “That’s okay. I didn’t remember you either, until I got the assignment. We had a brief thing thirty years ago. Think sophomore year. I’m Terri.”

Flash again, got it. “Terri Jenkins, right?”

“I was once. But I went by my married name, Crenshaw, when I died.”

I really didn’t remember all that much about Terri. Thirty years, lost track after graduation, and I was never one for reunions and such. She was a KISS fan in a very big way; she gave me a Peter Criss poster once. I gave her a half-dozen guitar lessons. Just a few other impressions, most of the details long lost after thirty years. I’d heard she married a banker and became a kid’s fiction writer, but that part might be wrong.

I have the green dragon of envy about that one, if it’s true. I’m not sure anyone would call me a “writer” posthumously.

“What sort of assignment?”

“Wondered when you’d pick up on that. Follow me.”

Terri led me upstairs and around the auditorium, through the stage entrance, and onto stage behind the curtains. My favorite Les Paul sat at center stage on a guitar stand.

She gave me a short hug and whispered, “Play Black Diamond for me,” and stepped off stage right.

The curtain parted, and I saw a handful of older versions of my graduating class, and mostly empty seats. The spotlight came up, I bowed to the audience, and I began picking the intro.


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Wrote this one for fun, because the challenge intrigued me. It’s semi-biographical so…run now.

Story requirements: (from a challenge issued to Chris Milam)

Love Makes You Do Funny Things

Under normal circumstances, I’d be glad that someone killed my captor. That’s par for the psychosis—under normal circumstances, I’m glad to see nearly anyone die.

Have you ever heard of a Chelsea Grin? Take a mouth and slice a two-inch gash outward from either corner. Now torture your victim until they scream. Your victim’s screaming tears open more flesh, leaving him with a very permanent “grin.” Heath Ledger’s Joker had a Chelsea Grin. Nurse Rosetta says my grin is most disturbing whenever I’m thinking about someone dying.

Nurse Rosetta needs to live.

Disinfectant pervades the entire Institute. That inescapable “hospital” odor clings to every surface and lives in every fabric seat cover, every gown and lab coat. The smell of urinal cake and sharp, acrid artificial pine trails behind each of the orderlies on their rounds.

The buzz and flicker of ancient fluorescents struggle to keep the hallways dimly lit. Shadows lurk in every corner, and only the harsh spotlight glare of the nurse’s station lamp separates shape from void in the farthest limits of the hall. Closed doors badged with corroded brass numbers face each other across the corridor every thirty feet. I know that all of them are empty, save mine.

Each night I hear Nurse Rosetta’s heels click clicking up and down the tile of that hallway several times, on some unknowable Nurse Rounds mission. At the end of every night, she stops in and checks on me, inspects my chart, and takes careful notes. Each night my eyes lock on the swell of her breasts, dive into the hollow of that glorious cleavage, just the briefest flash when she stoops to replace the clipboard.

Those uniform, sharp creases are perfectly starched and ironed with the attention to detail that no one but a Nurse still takes. I want to lick her nylon seams. I’d cut those clinical buttons free and tear at the garters that hold the nylons hugging those perfect thighs. My tumescence rages and I moan against the gag, imagining those proud nipples freed from the pushup bra. My limbs lock against the restraints, and the leather creaks with my need.

Nurse Rosetta only pats my cheek, and her eyes sparkle at my helplessness and my hopeless, helpless, impossible longing. Some nights she rewards me with extra hip-sway when she leaves the room, I am certain. I know that she knows.

The procedure is only hours away now. Nanobot brain surgery, infinitesimal machines seeking out my “harmful” thoughts and “dangerous” emotions, eradicating the nodes and areas where they are born.

The court mandated this treatment after Millie’s husband. Never again will I seek out an ex-lover’s new spouse, slice him up and seal him in baggies. The tortured memories of that night will have to go. Too bad, I liked Donald. Millie’s already had her treatment; she drools and doesn’t remember me.

Nurse Rosetta will remember me, won’t you Rosie? Just one night, away from the institute, I promise you will.

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498 words. For this week’s Finish That Thought prompt. Also inspired by a number of other sources, including Nurse Ratched, and lyrics from From the Inside, “Nurse Rosetta” and Millie and Billie.

Peace Begins with a Smile, not a Beak

“So you brought me another olive branch? Where do you even find an olive tree in Manhattan, Harry?”

“I just find them,” he mumbled. “I know, I know, our nest already has so many of the bloody things. Olive branches are supposed to be a symbol of peace. So how come we always have to fight about them?”

“We’re peace symbols,” Sally said. “I’m pretty sure the olive branch is just a stick. All from that Noah story, olive branches just indicate that land is somewhere close. Like a symbolic ‘Land Ho’ for boys on the big boat doing the flood control refugee number.”

“They make perfectly serviceable nesting material.”

“When you have too many they only make the whole nest smell of olive oil. We need something lighter and fresher. Could you look around for some citrus branches, maybe some nice pine or evergreen, Harry?”

“Where am I going to find citrus in Manhattan?”

Sally pointedly pecked at the latest olive branch, and at Harry.

“Okay, okay, I promise I will look around for something else. It’s harder to find anything good down there these days. Everything is so empty and overgrown.”

“I know. I really miss humans, sometimes.”

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200 words. Inspired by this week’s Sunday Photo Fiction prompt:

August 16th 2015 Pair of loved up doves

It’s Always the Quiet Ones

“It’s pistachio, your favorite. Happy birthday, Sara!”

As expected, the bait worked beautifully. My ex-wife could never resist ice cream for her birthday.

You’re probably not familiar with plasmids and lateral transfer. A plasmid is a ring of DNA that can live within an existing cell and can replicate independently. The fascinating bit is they can pass genetic information between hosts, even between species, via lateral transfer.

Targeted viral weapon loads, wave of the future. Pick up stock in your favorite genegineer firm today. It would be a wise investment for your portfolio.

Sara now hosts a y-chromosome linked plasmid carrying genetic information from Staphylococcus aureus. It’s probably quite difficult to pass, requiring sexual contact with a male, possibly several such contacts. My ex-wife Sara has a brand new venereal disease. She’s now a twenty-first century Typhoid Mary.

I hope her latest lover enjoys his genital necrotizing fasciitis.

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148 words. Inspired by this week’s Flash! Friday competition. Themes: man vs. society, jealous husband, obsession

Die in a Fire

As I sit and watch in the dark, the moths are fluttering. Into and out of the light from my computer screen they spin. They bang against the LCD screen, attracted to the bright light from a browser page that I left open.

I contemplate for a moment how alike we are. A blank page fascinates me as well. I flit and hover ever closer, waiting for the bug-zapper of inspiration to strike or the crash against the glass that warns me to change directions.

Immolation is my distant fluttering hope, to burn in the bright, hot fire of recognition.

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100 words. Inspired by this week’s Friday Fictioneers prompt:

PHOTO PROMPT – © Madison Woods

Great white what did you say?

I first laid eyes on Lono in a dockside dive, an immense Pacific Islander sporting an impressive tat collection. He was nursing his beer perched atop a barstool like a rhino balanced on a stork’s leg. As it happened, he was generous in both conversation and rounds. And we had come to the dock for the same purpose, seeking work.

Lono knew a guy who knew a guy, and we soon arrived on the deck of a multi-masted sailing vessel with employment paperwork in our hands. We turned to see the peg-legged captain of the vessel thumping in our direction, hefting a harpoon.

“Good luck to you, Lono.” I hurried back down the gangway and got off that ship. “But I’ve totally read this book.”

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125 words. Inspired by this week’s Sunday Photo Fiction prompt:


My delicious frozen dinner doesn’t invoke much enthusiasm, but it breaks up the monotony. On the view screen, as usual, is a display of the nearby stars, lost against the backdrop of the Milky Way. Helpful icons feature range and closing data for the nearest ten. The numbers aren’t exactly scrolling by. Most shifts, you consider yourself lucky if a single digit changes.

I’m in a bussard ramjet. It’s blasting out of the local arm at a steady 0.08 G in the general direction of 3 Sagittarii, toward galactic center. Our current speed is just about 0.8C, still slowly climbing but ultimately limited to 1.0.

In the cargo bay is my frozen wife and daughter, and an enormous stock of frozen seeds and embryos. They saved everything they could, but I don’t know if we’ll ever arrive anywhere livable. The computer still hasn’t selected a specific target; it hasn’t scanned any promising “possible habitables” yet, if it ever does. I need to get back in the freezer. The system only awakens me every dozen years for status checks.

It was magnanimous of the invaders to let a few of us go. It just sucks to be among the refugees.

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199 words. Inspired by this week’s Picture It & Write prompt:

Just a Stone’s Throw

Two stone monoliths gather moss in the English countryside.

They aren’t calendar constructions. Ancient, hairy druids didn’t erect them for inscrutable purposes of archaeoastronomy. They aren’t puzzling, iconic heads on Easter Island. No aliens buried them to deliver a mysterious message when light struck them at sunrise.

They’re just a couple of big, eroded blocks of granite. It’s likely that the last glacier that passed through this area rudely dropped them off. The closeness of the smaller stone is just bad fortune for the larger of the menhirs.

You just can’t ditch an irritating little brother who’s always tagging along.

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100 words. Inspired by this week’s Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers prompt: