Wednesday, June 30, 2010

2 Short Stories to Listen To

This week I decided to list two stories on podcasts. Check them out at the links I give for each story, or go to iTunes and search the name of the podcasts and find the episode for each. They're entertaining stories, and well worth the listen.

The first story is Ep. 176: The Blessed Days by Mike Allen from the horror podcast PsuedoPod. This one is pretty bloody, with the premise being that every time anyone falls asleep, they wake up covered from head to toe in their own blood. They're not hurt, but the blood seeps out of their pores at each sleep. The main character has learned how to control his dreams using the power of lucid dreams, but ever since the blood has come, no one, including him, can remember dreaming. The real weirdness (and violence) happens when the dreams start up again for him. Be warned, this is a pretty violent story, not for the squeamish, and I'm not even talking about the blood that drips from people each night. I enjoyed it though, so if you don't mind horror, give this one a listen.

The second story this week comes from the podcast, The Drabblecast. It is Ep. 146: Teddy Bears and Tea Parties by S. Boyd Taylor. This is a very strange, somewhat disturbing story about when the magic returns to the world, animating everything. It features killer teddy bears who bleed tasty jelly blood, from concord grape, to strawberry, to apple. A little girl must survive the new world where everything needs to eat by killing teddy bears so she can thrive on their blood. I recommend this on simply because it's so darn strange. Give it a listen!

I hope you get a chance to check one or both of these stories out. As usual, I'm getting nothing from either podcast or author or anyone to give these story links out. I'm doing it because I enjoyed the stories and would like to pass them along. Enjoy them, and until next time, keep reading and/or writing!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Writing Prompt #23

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!

Someone (or something) is following you, but you can't see them.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

My Writing--June28-July 4

So I finished my novel early in the week, opening up some time to write other things. I wrote a flash fiction story about a birthday for one writing contest, and I'm currently working on a flash about zombie romance for another. I viewed last week as successful.

This coming week, I plan on writing an adult horror story that I hope will turn out to be of novella length (25,000 words or so), but I have no clue what the final outcome will be, lengthwise. The plan is to go without an outline, something I don't normally do for longer works, so it'll be interesting to see how it goes. I'm giving myself the same word count goal as last week--10,000 words--but I don't know if I'll meet it or not. With no outline, I may be sitting at the computer thinking about what comes next, so the words might not flow as freely. We'll see. Personally, I'm interested in how it'll all come out myself.

I also plan to get my completed YA (Young Adult) novel out to a couple of more agents. I'll hopefully also have time to submit some short fiction to various magazines. I have a few I like that are currently sitting on the hard drive twiddling their thumbs.

As for the blog, the schedule is the same as last week:

Monday: Speculative Fiction Writing Prompt #23. I have no idea at this time what it'll be, but hopefully some people out there will find it helpful no matter what it is.

Wednesday: Two short story recommendations. I have one read and ready. It's from the podcast PsuedoPod. I may do another podcast story since I have a few backed up on my iPod and make it the Wednesday of podcast stories. You'll see what my final decision is on Wednesday.

Friday: #fridayflash. I have my fingers crossed that I'll finish my zombie romance story and post that, though I see the contest runs until July 10th, so if I'm not pleased with how it's polished, I may hold onto it until the following week. I have other stories backed up that I can polish up and publish if need be. I'm sure (hopefully!) readers will enjoy whatever story I end up posting.

Sunday: Another one of these posts to keep me honest.

That's what I hope to accomplish next week. I hope you enjoyed this insight into my writing life, and until next time, keep reading and/or writing!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

#fridayflash -- Parchment of Love

Parchment of Love
by Eric J. Krause

It was here. It was finally here. After four long weeks (the advertisement said it could've taken six), he had it. He stood staring at the postal envelope, now nervous that it was actually in his hands.

What if it didn't work? What if he used it wrong? He only had one chance, and he wasn't sure how clear the instructions were.

"Only one way to find out," Rich said as he ripped the envelope open.

A single sheet of paper greeted him. A very old sheet. But not just paper. Parchment. Its silky feel caressed his fingers and thumb.

He poured over the sheet, anxious to see if his thousand dollars was well spent. If it won Giselle away from Johnny, it certainly would be.

"Read this poem in the presence of your would-be beloved. Within seconds of the final syllable, you will have your true love. But be wary. The object of your desire will want to be by your side only. Be positive your love is a lifetime commitment."

Underneath came the poem. Rich didn't read it in case it diluted the power. He'd only recite it to Giselle. Nothing would stop him from saving her from the biggest mistake of her life. If he couldn't have her, fine, but he wouldn't let her waste her time with that scumbag Johnny. A thousand dollars for a powerful love charm was worth every penny to get that guy away from her. Plus, she'd finally see him as more than just a friend. So what if it wasn't genuine? She was his everything.

Earlier in the week, Johnny had bragged that he was taking her to the latest gross-out horror flick down at the Super 36 Cinema. Rage had bubbled almost to the surface when Rich heard that, and it still simmered. Giselle loved rom-coms, not scary stuff. Johnny didn't know her at all. Not like he did.

But fine. Two could play at this. He'd ruin Johnny's date; he'd ruin it good. He'd buy a ticket to each showing (he didn't know when they'd get there, and he didn't want to chance getting tossed), and when they arrived, he'd read her the poem. Johnny would be helpless to stop it.

He sat in the lobby all day, mulling over his plan. It'd work. It had to. She'd be his right after the poem, and there was no way Johnny'd make too much of a scene in a crowded theater lobby.

When they walked in, Rich gasped. Giselle, his beautiful Giselle, wore a tight red dress that rose two-thirds of the way up her thighs and practically exposed her perfect breasts. Sure, she looked good, no great, but it also made her look like a common street tramp. How could she do this? Especially for Johnny?

He stomped over to them, the parchment in hand. Giselle smiled as he approached, but Johnny scowled. To his dismay, her arm remained wrapped around Johnny's waist.

"Hi, Richard," she said. "What are you doing here?"

"Yeah, Dick. Come to see the new kiddie flick?"

Giselle laughed at that, and it was all Rich could do to keep himself from lashing out at Johnny. Verbally, of course. Instead, he looked Giselle dead in the eyes and said, "No. I have something to read you."

When he lifted the parchment, Johnny's smile grew bigger, almost breaking his concentration. Yeah, yuck it up, you big ape. You'll be sorry in a minute.

He read the poem, proud of himself for not stumbling over any of the words. He usually had to rehearse poetry to get it sounding smooth, but this came out so beautifully that he might have written it himself.

When he finished, he looked up and smirked at Johnny, whose smile hadn't faltered. He chanced a glance at Giselle, hopeful she'd chose to express her new love by leaping into his arms. Wouldn't that put Johnny in his place? Instead, she nodded and said, "That's lovely, Richard. Almost as nice as the one Johnny read me. Who did you write it for?"

He stared back at her, his heart plummeting into his stomach. He tried to speak, to say anything, but words wouldn't come. Maybe the spell took a minute, but he had a sinking suspicion it hadn't worked.

"Yeah, Dick, who's it for?" The taunting laughter showed behind Johnny's eyes. "Tell you what, I'll give you a little poetic advice. Excuse us, sweet cheeks." He dragged Rich away, and in a low voice, said, "Here's your advice, twerp. Make sure you always purchase the upgrade. Lesser spells'll never override it." He reached into his pocket and pulled out a piece of parchment of his own. "Too bad you only get one shot."

Rich could only watch as Johnny led Giselle to the theater. Before they went inside, Johnny looked back, winked, and spun her around for a deep, disgusting tongue kiss. Right out in public.

Rich was going to be sick.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Two Short Stories To Read

I haven't done this in a while, but I recently heard that when I did, it was appreciated, so I figured I should start up again. Each week (or at least most weeks), I'll highlight two short stories that are in various free ezines or podcasts. I do this for two reasons: one, it gets me reading short fiction, which I've been lax on lately (the only short stories I seem to read anymore are #fridayflash stories, which are great, but I need to expand my horizons), and, two, I want to introduce others to stories they might not have seen. These won't be reviews, per say, but usually just a sentence or two on why I liked the story, or why you should read it. And as I said above, some of the stories are from free podcasts, so when I add those, I'll list both the URL from the podcast's web site, as well as how to find it on iTunes. I hope you enjoy these stories I'm sharing with you. And, no, I'm getting nothing from any of the ezines, podcasts, or authors. I'm doing this just to highlight short fiction I've enjoyed.

The first story this week comes from The Absent Willow Review. It's called Dust by Allison M. Dickson. This was an apocalyptic tale of killer moon dust that's brought back to Earth by the newly reopened lunar landing projects. I would have recommended this one simply because it was an excellent premise that was well executed by Ms. Dickson, but what sealed the deal was that there were a number of great lines throughout the story. I'm sure you'll find your favorite, but mine was: "The whole government threw down a steel curtain on Minos, and that left the news channels to do what they do best in the absence of facts: confuse and scare the living shit out of everyone." Love it! Check this one out.

The second story for this week is a podcast. It's from Escape Pod, and it's Episode 233: Union Dues - The Threnody of Johnny Turuko by Jeffery R. DeRego. You can also find it on iTunes. Search for Escape Pod, and download Episode 233. This one is from an ongoing superhero world created by Mr. DeRego, but it's not necessary to listen to what came before to get into this story. I've heard none of the others, and I enjoyed this one with no problems. It's about a group of teenage superheros who have actual powers, but also star in a TV series based on their lives. The main character of this episode is Johnny Turuko, the ladies man of the group. In real life, however, Johnny has a secret he wants no one to know: he's actually gay and in love with his male teammate. This story shows how this secret gets out, and some of the implications it means for Johnny and his team. Give it a listen!

I hope you take the time to check these out. And when you're there, check out the other stories in these great fiction depositories. You won't be disappointed. Until next time, keep reading and/or writing!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Writing Prompt #22

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 fair maiden must rescue the dashing knight.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

My Writing--June 21-27

For this week, Monday, June 21 through Sunday, June 27, my main focus is going to be on my current novel. I'm just about done with the first draft, and I'm hoping to finish this week. My goal for the week is 10,000 words, which should get it done. I'm not going to hurry it, though, so if I find some neat tangent to take my story on, I'll follow it. I'm more worried about writing the 10K words and doing a good job than rushing to finish the story.

I'll also be working on a first draft of a flash story that I plan to use in two weeks for the Fourth of July weekend here in the states--Yes, I know it's the July 4th weekend everywhere, but it's a big deal here. ;-) I'll also be choosing which flash fiction draft I want to clean up for this week's #fridayflash.

As for this here blog, I'm going to be in my new schedule, which I hope I keep for awhile. I may even add more content, but for now, I'm happy with four postings a week.

Blog Schedule:

Monday: Speculative Fiction Writing Prompt #22: This one will likely be a fantasy prompt. Check back at some point tomorrow to find out what it is. I'll either have it up before 9AM Pacific Daylight Time, or sometime in the afternoon (Pacific time).

Wednesday: I'll have the links to two short stories that are currently available to read for free on two different ezines (one might be from a podcast--not sure yet). I won't be doing a review of the stories, per say, but mainly giving a couple of sentences about why I liked the stories. I'll, of course, also be supplying the link so you can check it out, too. Spreading online reading material is my goal here.

Friday: Fridays, of course, are for #fridayflash. As I said earlier, I'm not sure what you'll be seeing from me this week, but I'll do my best to make sure it's a winner. It'll likely be posted on late Thursday night (Pacific time).

Sunday: You'll see another one of these posts about what I'm working on next week.

That's it for this post. You get a tiny glimpse into my writing life with it, and I hope you enjoyed it. Until next time (tomorrow with the writing prompt), keep reading and/or writing!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

#fridayflash--Final Exit

Final Exit
by Eric J. Krause

Conner sat clutching her hand. The heart monitor beeped on, though he knew her strength was waning. The nurses occasionally poked their heads in, but with the status quo flowing on, they had no need to linger. For that he was grateful. They may ask uncomfortable questions as to the nature of his relationship with this woman. He had no answer for that. He didn't even know her name. He was just there to feel her die.

He learned of the phenomena when his grandfather passed. In the summer when Conner moved from elementary school to junior high, Grandpa's heart gave out. The paramedics revived him, but he never left the ICU. Mom kept Conner from the hospital at first, most likely wishing to keep his innocence intact. But he'd been close with Grandpa and begged to see him. On that fateful afternoon, she relented. He sat with his hand in Grandpa's, listening to the beeping machine. Mom had left to grab them a snack, so she hadn't been there when the beeps went erratic and turned to a solid hum. Right before the chaos of nurses and doctors invaded the room, an energy flowed from Grandpa's hand into his own. It moved up his arm and through his body before escaping. It left Conner with a glow of peace he'd never before felt.

He didn't say anything for minutes afterwards. Mom figured it was shock, but that wasn't it. He reveled in the afterglow. He now knew what a glorious drug dying was, and he wanted that feeling again.

All through junior high and most of high school, he experimented with as many drugs as he could get his hands on. Anything from sniffing glue and huffing aerosol cans to alcohol to the heavy stuff--heroine, cocaine, and everything else. Nothing gave him the same feeling as a soul leaving this world through him. He figured this out his senior year when he clutched Grandma's hand as she died. It was the catalyst he needed to clean himself up.

For the next few years he waited for another family member to get sick, to die. No luck, especially since he had only his mom's side, which was a small pool to draw from. His father, whoever that guy was, had lit out all those years ago when Mom informed him she was pregnant.

Then tragedy struck. Halfway through college, a drunk driver struck Mom as she strolled down a sidewalk on her way home from work. She held on to the fragile string of life long enough for him to get to the hospital. He grabbed her hand, and she departed, sending euphoria though his body.

The high lasted only a short time before the reality of the situation came crashing down around him. He couldn't deal with a life without his mother, so he began frequenting hospitals, finding those on the verge of death, and sitting with them. A surprising number of the dying had no friends or family visiting. He learned quickly that if he walked in with purpose and acted as if he belonged, no one would question him. And with hospitals brimming with death, he stayed high almost constantly.

Which brought him to the here and now. Her respirator gargled, and the heart monitor buzzed. Her soul, her energy, made its way through him, firing his synapses with joy. He leaned back and accepted it, sighing contently.

But like with all drugs, his tolerance kicked in. The wonderful high mellowed before the nurses even entered the room. As they fiddled with the woman--he wasn't sure if they were trying to bring her back or simply confirming her passing--he snuck out. They'd never miss him.

His drive home had been a sea of thoughts on how he could prolong the feeling. It wasn't until he arrived that the answer struck him. If other deaths brought him so much joy, what about his own? He ran a hot bath and fetched an Exacto knife from the tool kit. His final exit would be the ultimate high.


This story was inspired by the writing prompt, "Write about leaving," as well as the song, "Final Exit" by Fear Factory.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

My Thoughts on Twilight

For the longest time, I had no wish to read Stephenie Meyer's Twilight. I heard that, instead of disintegrating or being otherwise incapacitated by sunlight, the vampires sparkled. Sparkled? Nope. I'm out. It wasn't that I felt hate for the book or anything like that (anything that gets teens reading is A-OK with me); I just knew it wasn't my cup of tea.

A copy of the book was passed around between family members, and when everyone interested was done with it, it found its way to me. I kept it in the off chance that I'd be interested someday, but I had no idea if or when. Besides, it fit just fine on my bookshelf, so no big deal. It could wait there indefinitely.

My latest project is a YA (young adult) paranormal story. The protagonist is a 16 year old junior in high school who due to his supernatural powers has found his soulmate. (She's not a ghost, but a new girl in school who has the same powers as him.) The little information I'd garnered from Twilight made me think it was in the same ballpark as my story, so maybe I should give it a shot. It's such an intensely popular book that it might give me some ideas that'd help broaden my project. If not, heck, it's always good to read what's out there in the same or similar genres.

I started reading, and something disturbed me right away. The story pulled me in. I had no problem with others enjoying it, but I didn't want to myself. The damn vampires sparkled! (Though I hadn't yet got to that part.) I had expected to not give a damn one way or the other about Bella because of the actress who plays her in the movie (unfair of me, I know), but I found her to be a likeable enough character. Edward Cullen's intense seeming hatred of her in the beginning also drew me in. True, because of my normal taste in books, this story wasn't so good that I'd have been missing anything if I'd never picked it up, but since I was using it for study purposes, it was nice to be lightly entertained. I hadn't expected that.

To be brutally honest, nothing much happens in this story until the very end. If I was reading for pleasure, that would've driven me nuts, but for my purposes, it was perfect. I'm confident in my abilities as an author to bring the action, bring the scare, bring the pain, so I was more hoping to see the teenage interactions and see how Meyer handled the relationship between Bella and Edward. This book is so popular with the teen crowd that she must know what she's doing. That's the aspect of this story I opened the book for, and in that area, I think I actually picked up some pretty good pointers.

Now on to the vampires, the topic that intrigued me most as a horror writer. They did have their good points to go along with the silliness of the sparkles in sunlight (and I still giggle at the goofiness of that). These vampires actually have all the tools to be big players in the horror genre. In Joss Whedon's hands, for example, Buffy might have had some real challenges. (Instead, these vampires wait for a thunderstorm and go out to play baseball. Wait. What? Yeah, you heard me. On a dark and stormy night, they go out and play baseball.) The vampires are superhumanly strong, lightning quick, and harder to kill than a simple stake in the heart. I also liked the fact that they didn't need to sleep. Since the sun didn't hurt them (it just made them FABULOUS! Oh brother . . .) that made a lot of sense. Some of them had miscellaneous powers, such as Edward's ability to read thoughts or Alice's ability to see the future. From what I got out of it, these powers were holdovers from their human self that are amplified by their vampireness. (Yes, I just said vampireness as if it was an actual word.) That bit made the world of this novel seem a bit cooler in my opinion. I'd like to see a story where "live" people use these powers. As for how humans are changed into vampires, it's really quite vicious. If the person survives the feeding, the vampire's bite has venom that works through the victim's system until it gets to the heart. This can take days depending on how much blood was drained, and the entire time the person is in constant agony. Of course, it's also hilariously emo, but it fits in with the rest of the story, which is heavily marketed at Hot Topic (i.e. Emos R' Us) for a reason.

So did reading Twilight help me as a writer? Yes, I believe it did. I wasn't sure about some of the pacing, some of the character interactions, in my project, and after reading this, I feel confident I'm on the right track. Besides, it's always a good idea to read the uber-popular books in the genre you're writing to get an idea of what the readers are looking for. Do I suggest reading Twilight and going from there if you want to write speculative fiction for the YA crowd? Yes, as long as you don't stop there. I suggest reading a wide variety of YA books to get an idea of what's out there. Read in similar genres in adult books. Read different genres in both YA and adult books to get a broader view. It's all a big tapestry that comes together for the greater good.

For those of you who aren't writers in the YA field (or writers at all), do I recommend Twilight? Not heartily. But if you're still on the fence about it, go ahead and pick it up, if for no other reason than to see what all the hoopla is about. Heh, betcha that won't make the cover blurb on the next reprint.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

More Posts Each Week

I decided I should make an effort to post more than just my normal two times a week, with extras if I get something published. I figured four times a week, with those extra posts here and there, would be a good number. My goal is to keep Mondays for the writing prompts (I'm thrilled some of you have gotten use out of them), and Fridays (technically late on Thursday nights, but I'm calling it Fridays) for, of course, #fridayflash.

The new posts will go up on Sundays and Wednesdays. On Sundays, I plan on giving a schedule for the week, both on the blog and on my writing in general, to give you an insight into what I'm working on, but more importantly to keep me honest with my work. Wednesdays will be the days I introduce (usually) two short stories from various on-line magazines around the Internet or on podcast zines. This will serve two purposes: one, it'll get me back to reading some short stories--the only shorts I've read recently on a regular basis are #fridayflash stories and other postings by #fridayflash authors, and two, to hopefully get some of you reading and supporting the on-line zines. The short story highlight posts will begin next week.

There is a good chance I will also make the occasional post having to do with pop-culture and writing. Maybe this will replace a Wednesday short story post if I haven't had time to read enough that week, or, if I've done my homework, I'll post it on a different day of the week. Actually, tomorrow will be my first pop culture post on the book, Twilight. I bet you can't wait to hear what I say about it (spoiler alert: I liked it in a way).

So check back often to see something new--definitely on Sundays, Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. I'd tease my #fridayflash for this week, but I'm not sure which one I'm going to use. I have two that are almost ready, but I'm not sure which one I'll use yet. One is about a mysterious eyeball in a neighboring house, while the other is based on a Fear Factory song called Final Exit (I'm being imaginative and calling the story that, too) and a writing prompt stating, "Write about leaving." You'll have to wait until Friday to see which one I feel is ready for prime time.

Any questions for me about any of the topics I discussed above--or anything else--feel free to ask in the comment section. So until next time (tomorrow), keep reading and/or writing!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Writing Prompt #21

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!

You find yourself on a "Wanted: Dead or Alive" poster.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

#fridayflash--Waterbed Dreams

Ronald was almost giddy as bedtime approached. He'd had to wait two whole days, but his mom and dad gave him the thumbs up for tonight. Finally his brand-new waterbed was warm enough to sleep on.

He'd been on boats of all sizes with his dad, in all different types of weather. The rocking never made him sick, only comforted him. For this reason, his parents decided a waterbed would be best.

Sleep rarely came easy for Ronald. Most nights were a combination of him struggling to fall under the Sandman's spell and being jolted awake by nightmares and horrible dreamscapes. But the thoughts of the soothing rocking and nowhere for the underbed phantom creatures to hide meant restful nights ahead.

It worked at first. Ronald drifted off into a nice slumber minutes after his mother tucked him in. The dreams that did invade his sleep were nice, comforting epics.

Something pushed into his back. His eyes stayed shut, but he felt something else brush past underneath him. It was like a fish dancing about inside the liquid mattress. That thought brought out a smile. Fish in there would actually be pretty cool. He wouldn't just be sleeping on a waterbed; he'd be sleeping on a lake or the ocean.

As he waited for the fish to come near again, he noticed the scent in the air. It reminded him of the deep sea fishing expeditions he'd gone on with his dad. In addition, warmth bathed over him. The salty air, warm sun, and rocking of the waves pulled him back down into sleep.

Ronald awoke refreshed, though he kept his eyes shut. Morning could start in a few minutes. He stretched, feeling the rolling water beneath him. When was the last time he'd slept so peacefully? He imagined his grades improving, and he wouldn't be so quick to lash out at others when they annoyed him. Why hadn't he insisted on a waterbed long ago?

Wait. He could still smell the sea air and feel the sun beating down on him. His eyes flashed open and he found himself on a raft in the middle of the ocean. To make matters worse, two dorsal fins circled around him, not ten feet away.

Shoot. The waterbed hadn't worked after all. True, he'd fallen asleep easy enough, but he was still plagued by nightmares. He looked in every direction, but could see nothing but the sky meeting the bluish-green waters. And now those dorsal fins were less than five feet from his raft.

This would be an excellent time to wake up. Why wasn't he waking up?

He wasn't waking up.

My Book of Short Stories: Kindle Edition

The Breath of Life and Other Stories (click on the title for the link), my book of short stories, is now available on Amazon as a Kindle Edition. Check it out, and if you choose to buy it, I hope you enjoy it!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Writing Prompt #20

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!

Every path leads to certain death.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

#fridayflash--Liquid Time

Liquid Time
by Eric J. Krause

Nothing was as boring as waiting when he forgot to bring anything to do. Most waiting areas had magazines, but never what he wanted to read. And the television was always set on daytime crap. No thanks. Yet here he was, at the dealership, getting new front and rear brakes, with the book he'd meant to bring sitting on the kitchen counter at home. Someone left that morning's paper, so he at least got to check out the sports and comics, but after that he had nothing. Less than nothing, really, as the Wilber Montegue Show blasted on the boob tube. What could be worse than listening to trailer trash whores argue with their baby-daddies about his half-dozen other baby-mamas? Pathetic.

He was so bored he found himself wandering over to the vending machines. Usually he avoided these peddlers of over-sugared carbonated drinks and stale, too salty snack "treats," but desperate times called for desperate measures. Besides, he wasn't going to buy, just browse a bit.

Just as he suspected. Junk. Nothing but junk. But wait. What was that between the raspberry soda and the lemon flavored sports drink? Liquid Time? Was that one of those energy drinks that the kids were so crazy about? He glanced around to make sure he wasn't blocking anybody's way, then put his attention back on the can.

"Is there never enough time in your day? Are you constantly wishing for an extra hour or two? Then just a sip will do you right. Liquid Time!"

He never fell for snazzy advertising. Not usually. Maybe today it was because he was bored. Or maybe he simply met his match. Did he believe the claim, even for a second? No, of course not, but he had to admit it was great ad copy.

His hand slid into his pocket, found the five necessary quarters, and slid them home. The mechanical ledge rose, accepted the can, and tipped it to the delivery door. He reached in and grasped his prize.

He turned the can over in his hand. No further writing was on it except one line on the back. "Warning: Drink no more than a sip at a time."

Laying it on a little thick, weren't they? He chuckled and popped the top. Was that glittery steam that rose from the inside? Nah, he was seeing things. He sniffed the liquid and found it had a citrusy odor. Smelled good.

He took a sip. Nothing spectacular, but it wasn't without its charm. He looked around to see how he'd pass some more time, and gasped. Everything in the waiting room had stopped. The television looked like it had been paused, the hands of the big clock on the far wall had quit, and all the people looked like they were competing in an intense game of freeze tag.

A quick tour through the rest of the building proved it wasn't only the waiting room. Nothing and nobody shifted to even take a breath. He unconsciously took another sip of his Liquid Time.

Wait! He reread the can. It wasn't just clever copy. It actually worked! And if what it said was correct, each sip stopped time for an hour or two. And he'd taken two sips.

Ah, crap! He was already bored out of his skull, and now the time warp wouldn't catch up with him for another two to four hours. It could be helpful in other situations, that was for sure, but not right now. He sighed and wandered back over to the vending machines. Maybe they had a package of time accelerating cheese doodles.

My Story for American Week

Cathy Olliffe, who runs the blog Life on the Muskoka River, is running American Week to showcase a few of the American authors in the #fridayflash crowd. I was lucky enough to have her select me as one of the representatives. My story, The High Noon Showdown (click on the story title to get to the page), is on there now. Go over, check it out, and leave a comment about my story, Cathy's write-up of me, or any of the other goodies.

Thanks, Cathy!