Friday, February 26, 2010

#fridayflash: Writer's Block

Writer's Block
by Eric J. Krause

He sat staring at his computer, not sure what to type. The word processing program laughed at him, taunting him to try writing something, anything. His fingers chose not to obey.

"C'mon, Jerry, think. If you can't get this done, how are you going to accomplish anything?"

His pep-talk didn't work. The blinking cursor made him realize how hopeless he really was. Maybe his wife was right to leave him. Maybe his friends were wise in giving up on him. Maybe the world would be a better place if he just guzzled dozens of pills, jumped off a high building, or picked up a wicked razor.

Tears gurgled up out of his eyes, and he didn't bother blinking them back. The warm tracks they left down his cheeks didn't make him feel better, but they snapped something awake in his brain. His right index finger pushed the "m" key.

Could he work with that? Another minute passed. No inspiration. The first sob erupted from deep within as he moved his hand to hit the backspace button.

But wait. With a clumsy slip, he hit the "i" key, and everything stopped. He couldn't breathe. Yes, this would do. Though the sobs didn't subside, at least now they were pouring out in happiness.

"Milk, eggs, butter, bread."

He smiled, maneuvered the mouse to the print button, and stood up to get his shoes.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Writing Prompt #5

Here is this week's speculative fiction prompt. I'm labeling it as fantasy, but as always, you can take it whatever direction you so choose. Have fun with it!

The local zoo displays a real unicorn.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

#fridayflash--Little Ghost

Little Ghost
by Eric J. Krause

Little Lisa zipped down the stairs, a white sheet draped over her entire body. Jenna sighed and hoped she hadn't cut eye holes in it. The only white sheets in the linen closet were the expensive Egyptian cotton ones. Why couldn't she have decided to be a pink ghost? Those sheets were from the discount bin at some department store.

"Boo, Mommy!"

"Wow, you sure are a scary little ghost." Thank goodness. No eye holes.

"Yeah, we both are."

Both? Since when did Lisa get an imaginary friend? "Who are you playing with, sweetie?"

Lisa's head tilted to the side, and if Jenna could see her face, it'd probably be scrunched up in concentration. "I don't know her name."

Jenna suppressed a chuckle. That was her daughter. An imaginary friend, maybe, but not a whole lot of imagination behind it. "Make sure you're careful with that sheet."

"Yes, Mommy."

Lisa ran back upstairs, and Jenna forgot all about it. Lisa always behaved so well that there was no doubt the sheet would be fine. In fact, she'd probably be playing something else soon enough.

That's why, a half-hour later, Jenna was shocked when she saw something small and white streak by in her peripheral vision. Damn it, that sheet had to be getting wrecked by now, no matter how careful Lisa was.

Jenna searched all around downstairs, but couldn't find her daughter. Strange. There hadn't been enough time for her to get back to the stairs. Jenna would have seen.

"Sweetie?" she called up the stairs. "Where are you?"

Lisa's voice came from her room. "In here, Mommy."

As Jenna reached the second floor, she saw the sheet folded next to the linen closet. There was no way she'd have had time to race upstairs and do that. Though Jenna would need to refold it properly, it was a pretty good job for a four-year-old.

She stuck her head into Lisa's room and found her having a tea party with two of her stuffed animals. "Were they playing ghosts with you earlier?"

Lisa gave Jenna a look like she was insane. "No, that was my new friend." She pointed to her bedroom door, and a small figure walked past in the hall. Jenna's blood ran cold, and all the hair on her arms stood up.

"Who was that?"

"My new friend. She didn't want to tell me her name. She's very sad. She can't find her mommy."

Jenna darted into the hallway, but there was no sign of this mystery girl. She ducked her head into each room, but no luck. The little girl, whatever she was, had disappeared.

"She likes to go into your sewing room. That's where she last saw her mommy."

Jenna looked over at that closed door. The little girl couldn't be in there. The door's hinges squeaked pretty loud when it opened or closed, and she hadn't heard anything. Why, then, was her arm shaking as she reached for the doorknob?

The door bellowed out a long, drawn-out screech as she pushed it open. Her breath streamed out in clouds as she stepped inside. Damn, it was cold enough to chill Jell-O in there. A quick glance around didn't turn up any strange girl. Before she could turn her attention to the frigid air, a strange voice, which she wasn't sure if was real or in her head, assaulted her.

"Mommy, Mommy. Where's my mommy? Mommy, Mommy. Where's my mommy?" Over and over again.

Jenna turned and found a little girl, glowing white, standing in the corner. The girl looked up at her with dead, glazed over eyes, and Jenna lost it. She let out an ear-splitting scream, which caused Lisa to run sobbing from the room. She wanted to chase after her baby girl, but her legs wouldn't obey. She couldn't tear herself away from the dead girl's stare.

"Mommy, Mommy. Where's my mommy?"

The girl stepped forward and spread out her arms. Jenna wanted nothing more than to get out of there and never come back, but her feet might as well have been nailed to the floor. When the ghost girl's arms touched her, they were so cold they actually burned. The girl embraced her, and the room spun and went black.

Almost immediately, everything stopped. The room had a dingy gray film over everything. She looked down and saw her body lying on the floor, an unearthly grimace etched on her face. The little girl, now more real than anything else in the room, smiled up at her. "You're my mommy now?"

Jenna thought about it for a second. She already had a little girl who called her mommy. Didn't she? Lisa? Lila? No, she was remembering wrong. She smiled down at this little girl, her little girl, and nodded.

"Of course, sweetie. I'm your mommy."

Monday, February 15, 2010

Writing Prompt #4

Here is this week's speculative fiction prompt. I'm labeling it as horror, but as always, you can take it whatever direction you so choose. Have fun with it!

There is a monster inside your mattress.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Valentine's Day Horror Story

Soft Whispers Magazine created a flash fiction anthology for Valentine's Day horror stories, and one of my tales graces its pages. It's free to view, so go check it out:
Deadly Love, Be Mine Valentine's Day Anthology.

My story, "Between the Strobes," starts on page 20. I'd love it if you check it out and let me know what you think. Don't just look at mine and leave, though. Check out the other great authors in the collection. It's all flash fiction (and a couple of poems), so it won't take too much of your time. I hope you enjoy the collection!

Friday, February 12, 2010

#fridayflash--Love's a Myth

Love's a Myth
by Eric J. Krause

"Let me tell you something. Listen up because this is important. Love doesn't exist. It's a lie developed by greeting card companies, the flower shops, and the candy industry to push product. Human beings aren’t wired to be monogamous, to spend all their time pining on a single person.

"I'd been taken into this lie myself. Her name was Stephanie Beth Donaldson. Usually I called her Steph, but when I had my groove on, she was Stephy-Beffy. Sick, right? That's the depths this so called love will drag you down to.

"I wined her, I dined her, and all that B.S. I brought her little trinkets just because and big presents on her birthdays and Christmas. And even though I didn't have a pot to piss in, I did the girl up on Valentine's Day. No one in the neighborhood had a better February 14th than Stephy-Beffy Donaldson.

"After three years of exclusive dating, I knew it was time. I was head over heels for this girl. I couldn't afford much of a ring, but managed to scrape enough together to buy her a respectable one. She accepted without hesitation as soon as I dropped to one knee. Three weeks later, she was Stephanie Beth McGee.

"Since money was tight, she got a job as a secretary to supplement our income. At first, everything was great. Not only did she bring in enough money to help us afford a house in a nicer section of town, but she still managed to get home in time to have supper on the table for me. And I don't want to brag, but our sex life was fantastic.

"After a few months, though, everything started to sour. She came home later and later each passing week. It got to the point where I had to learn to heat up my own beans and franks, and grill up my own toasted cheese sandwiches. What kind of husband should have to do that? And while she brought in more money, the fun in the bedroom dried up. She was either too tired or had a pounding headache.

"This was too much. I could deal with having to cook my own supper, but I had needs and urges. Because I quote-unquote loved this woman, I couldn't get some strange on the side, so I did what I found necessary. One afternoon, I marched over to her work and barged in. The receptionist tried to keep me out of the boss's office, but I was a man possessed.

"I'm guessing you can already see where this is going. I found my wife, Stephy-Beffy McGee, formerly Donaldson, nude on her knees in front of her pantsless boss. I gasped, he gasped, and she turned and gasped. I wish I could say that I said something witty and clever that cut them right in two, but in my grief, I could only slam the door and stumble home.

"That night she tried to explain, but I'd hear none of it. I gathered up my things and never stepped foot in that house again. I saw her only one more time, at the divorce proceedings. She tried to make everything right between us, but judging by the fancy jewelry she wore, which she'd never be able to afford on her salary, I knew she was just trying to clear her conscious.

"And that, my boy, is why I am not, nor never will be, in love. It doesn't exist. Love's a myth. I think it would do you good to remember that."

"Wait, Uncle Phil. Are you saying I shouldn't ask Melody Daniels to the 6th Grade Valentine's Mixer?"

Monday, February 8, 2010

Writing Prompt #3

Here is this week's speculative fiction prompt. I'm labeling it as fantasy, but as always, you can take it whatever direction you so choose. Have fun with it!

A dragon is spotted flying over a distant farm.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

#fridayflash--The Forest Mountain Troll

The Forest Mountain Troll
by Eric J. Krause

There once was a Mountain Troll who wished he were a Forest Troll. I can guess what you're thinking: What's the difference? A troll's a troll. That, friend, is where you're wrong. And if a troll, either from the mountains or a forest, heard you say that, you had better hope you can outdistance him in a hurry.

This Mountain Troll, called Cogburr by his peers--though when he wasn't around, the names they used often made even the most hardened troll matron blush--would stand at the edge of his cave and look wistfully down to the forest below. When he was picking the ripest rocks for the nightly feast, he'd regale his fellow harvesters with the sights and sounds from the green patch he considered heaven. At said feasts, he'd ask endless questions of the elders and hunters about the Land of Trees and the troll inhabitants.

Cogburr's behavior continued season after season, from the dark blizzard nights of winter to the bright burning days of summer. His peers, the hunters, the elders, even the younglings, asked him to stop and be a proud Mountain Troll. He couldn't; that green canopy simply held too much mystery, too much excitement.

One fateful night, during a feast, Cogburr proclaimed he would leave in the morning to visit the forest and the Forest Trolls. He ignored all of the warnings and curses and retired to his cave to get a good night's sleep. Said sleep, however, didn't last long. A dozen of the more burly Mountain Trolls grabbed him by his limbs and dragged him to the lip of his cave. They hurled him off the side of the mountain towards his beloved forest far below.

The moral, you may ask? Simple. Mountain Trolls fucking hate Forest Trolls.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Wednesday Poetry--A Couple of Short Poems

I've never much been one for poetry, but a few things have made me want to try my hand at the art form. First, on Twitter I follow a bunch of writers who are either poets or who make poetry a part of their writing. Second, In researching children magazines, I enjoyed the simplicity but playfulness in many of the poems I read. They looked like they were a lot of fun to create. Third, I thought it might be a nice way to stretch my writing chops.

Will my poetry be any good? I don't know. I'm taking some time to work on it, so I guess we'll see. I decided to post my poetry on my blog each Wednesday to hopefully get some feedback (and to give myself the motivation to get going on some poems). These first few weeks will be old ones that I wrote about eight years ago when I was in a creative writing class. I decided I liked them well enough to share with the world. Plus it'll give me a few weeks to get into the swing of writing in this difficult (and different) genre.

This week, in what I'm dubbing Wednesday Poetry hear on my writing spot, I'll feature two short poems from all those years ago. I hope you enjoy them.

The Crowd

The crowd rocks.
The crowd sways.
The crowd grooves.

A field of
tall grass blowing
in the wind.

A Single Ray of Light on a Cloudy Afternoon in a Downtown Bookstore

He spots her
across the room
and throws
a suggestive smile.

She shyly catches it
and can't help
tossing one back.
Coffee for two?

I hope you enjoyed these two pieces. I'll post more next Wednesday.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Writing Prompt #2

Here is this week's speculative fiction writing prompt. I'm labeling it as science fiction, but you can, of course, take it in any direction you please. I hope it inspires some great ideas and stories!

A shooting star just changed directions.