Retro Thursday 5-6-2021


How Do you Kill a Monster without Becoming One….


It ain’t easy.  That much is for sure.  Been a long time since I killed anything but back in the day….. yeah…. back in the day…..

It came for me when I was 15.  Thought I was tough then, I did.  Big swagger as I walked down the street.   Tough words.  Angry words.  Ugly words.  Funny how when you’re young you think those things make you tough.  Don’t take me wrong.  I was a scrapper.  I’d been in any number of street fights.  All my life.  Thought that made me tough, too.  How little I knew.

It came on a Monday.  I was home.  Had to be.  My little sister was there.  Didn’t like to leave her alone at night.  Not if I could help it.  We had day-old hot dogs for dinner.  A dented can of baked beans.  Marshmellow fluff. 

Lived in a series of rooms. Used to be offices when the building was a warehouse. One central room with a hotplate, couple broke-back chairs. A table. A radio. Another room with two mattresses on the floor. A bathroom that worked. Barely. But enough for water to clean and cook. I’d installed locks on the doors. Kept us safe so far. Then again, I wasn’t asleep yet.

Been years now. Too many. Never did find my little sister. I looked for her sometimes. All the times. That face in the crowd. A voice across a street. A dream of before I’d become a monster. But now… now I am old. Haven’t killed in years.

Weren’t killing that’d made me a monster. No. Abandoning her did. Ran when the Government people finally tracked us down. Gonna take us into the system. Foster homes. Schools. The ‘right’ life. Couldn’t take that. And so I ran.

She screamed. Begged. Tears. Never did forget that. Never did forget the sound of tears. Sound rang in my ears the rest of my days. Still there now. But it’s gonna be gone soon.

Soon. Another breath. Two. Another tear. I’ll no longer be a monster.

JSW 4-19-2021

The JSW Challenge is open to anybody who wishes to participate. Using the writing prompt, write a flash fiction no longer than 500 words and post to your page. The Challenge starts on Monday and runs through Sunday each week. Please remember to link your story back to this post so everyone can read your entry.

Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers 4-10-2017



This week’s photo prompt is provided by Yarnspinner. 

Guide for Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers

1. A prompt photo will be provided each Tuesday to be used as a base to your story. Please include photo prompt with your story.

2. Linking for this challenge begins on Tuesday and runs to the following Monday evening.

3. Please credit photo to photographer.

4. The story word limit is 100 – 150 words (+ – 25 words). Please try to stay within this limit.

The thing had to have come from here, according to Becky, and what better place to birth a monster? The lingering scent of smoke filled his nostrils, fire out but not forgotten.

Did he believe in monsters? No, not really. All the monsters he’d ever feared had been childhood monstosities under his bed or inside his closet.

Did he want to be here? No. The wildfire had come too close, something of which he needed no reminder.

But here he was. He could tell her he’d come, looked around and seen nothing. Ease her mind. Have a hotdog. Watch the game.

Maybe, one day, she’d get over her fear of monsters. That usually happened, right, at the end of childhood?

Ever hopeful, he headed home, already thinking of the game.

Dark crept out of ash behind him, a gnarled grotesque thing, the smell of fire and smoke swirling around the door as he went inside. Tendrils, like fingers, seeping in.

Quote For The Day 5-31-2016

“The monster behind the wall stirred. I’d come to think of it as a monster, but it was just me. Or the darker part of me, at least. You probably think it would be creepy to have a real monster hiding inside of you, but trust me – it’s far, far worse when the monster is really just your own mind. Calling it a monster seemed to distance it a little, which made me feel better about it. Not much better, but I take what I can get.”
Dan Wells, I Am Not A Serial Killer

Do Monsters Make War or Does War Make Monsters?

I’ve always believed that, to start a war, one must be a monster. That, however, was before I realized the worse monsters wore the best human faces. Don’t give me the Wolfman, Frankenstein, the monsters in the closet or under the bed. They are mild compared to those whose faces have contorted into human form. Hitler. Lenin. Papa Doc. We all know now what they were. They never hid the monster. Were they were monsters from the first, born monsters?

If not, how did they become monsters? The Wolfman was bitten by another werewolf; Frankenstein was built by a mad scientist; monsters in the closet and under the bed came from the darkest reaches of a child’s imagination. Or, at least, from the darkest reaches of man’s imagination. I don’t believe children dreamed these monsters. They came from somewhere else, from millions of years of human consciousness, from endless darkness outside the warm circle of a fire.

Are monsters just those who are more closely connected to this vast well of  memory? Was Hitler born a monster or did he become one? How about Jeffrey Dahmer? Could a child be born with the need to destroy, to eat flesh, to degrade another person to nothing? Can a child be born a dictator?

Or were all the wars this world has seen the prologue to the monsters to come? Did the hate and bitterness and rage from time unmentioned predispose some children to be born with emptiness in their souls?

What of the Grinch?  How did he come into his grinchiness? Birth? Nature? Nurture? And wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could stand in a circle, holding hands, singing joy and love and peace to alter the heart of the coldest monster? To fill their souls with that same joy and love and peace.

But we can’t. It doesn’t work that way. The Grinch is made-up. Fiction. A story to teach us joy and love and peace overcome all evil. But I don’t think they do, not in the real world. The world is getting darker and harder when one would think the opposite should be true. Shouldn’t our growing knowledge of the universe – the increases in food and medicine and all things human – make the world better? Shouldn’t we care about global warming and starving children? Don’t we realize that it is our world we are killing? Or are we all born with something of the monster inside? Are monsters god’s dice toss, watching to see which way we go? Or are wars and monsters just fragments of a collected dream?

So which do you think comes first? The monster or the war?

Or are we all both?

Monsters In My World

When I was a child, I believed in monsters: the great slobbering crocodile-like creature lurking under my bed; nameless somethings prowling in the woods around our house; and the dark shadow things living in the basement.  Where these monsters came from, I don’t know.  Was I born with them engraved onto my infant’s mind or did they somehow infiltrate my consciousness as I was thrust into the world from the womb?  Are my monsters like your monsters, the same as some child elsewhere in the world born the same day and time?  At the time, I believed these dark shapes were mine alone, something that haunted only me.

As I grew, my monsters began to conform to the world around me, to the stories I read and the TV I watched, monsters like Bigfoot and Nessie and the Yeti.  I believed in them because they were exciting and out of my world.  I was safe behind my book or the TV.  Not likely that I’d travel to Loch Ness or Washington State or the Himalayan Mountains.  I was fascinated with the mystery of them, the possibility of how these monsters might intersect with all the parallel worlds in my mind.

I began to learn about real monsters, men and women who committed unspeakable deeds.  How could anybody do such horrible things?  And yet, I was secretly fascinated by them, always hoping that I might be able to open their heads to discover the reasons inside.  There had to be reasons; no one would do such unspeakable acts just because.  The idea of a sociopath was so foreign that I didn’t even speak the language.  And yet, as a writer, I kept looking, kept tunneling into the horrors in the hope of understanding.  I wanted to understand; I wanted to peer into their lives and see their truth.  I wanted to know that I wasn’t a monster, too.

As I grew even older, I found other kinds of monsters.  Men or women who stand before you with a smile on their face, saying everything you want to hear, all they while their actions are tearing away the foundations of your world.  Can there be any worse monster than one who says ‘I love you,’ while acting like you are nothing?

I have come to terms with most of my monsters, those fears that came from who-knows-where, hidden in the darkness of childhood.  With the crocodile creature under my bed, I learned to stand on the bed and jump as far as possible.  He, like most monsters, couldn’t come out from his hiding place. I learned not to go past the edge of the lawn after dark, not to turn my back on the night woods.  To trust my instinct and if I felt something out in the dark, to run.  Fast.  And never look back.

Today I am comfortably happy believing in Bigfoot and Nessie and Yeti.  I believe in them because I’ve chosen to believe, because their mystery adds something to my world.  I never want to be terrified of a monster again, but I do want to know that out there, somewhere, dark mysterious creatures exist in this scientific world, a little bit of magic left from a far distant past.