The Book

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There is a book. It is written not in English or Spanish, Greek or Latin, Hebrew or Arabic, but in the wordless language of Creation. It is a series of divine utterances, a wellspring of stars, energy and life.

Once, it was passed from one keeper to the next, an unbroken succession rooted not in blood or prestige, but honest merit. It was a cosmic secret to be guarded, and it was never to be opened. But thousands of years ago, the last keeper tried to violate this rule. He was slain, and the book went missing. Those who remembered it had children, grandchildren, then died. The book passed from memory to legend, and from legend it was forgotten.

Like an ocean swell, civilizations rose, civilizations fell. All the while, the book hid beyond the shadows, watching, waiting for its next keeper, someone worthy of its secrets, someone who would at last be allowed to open its dusty weather-worn pages, for it so longed to be read.

Now, it sits upon a humble library shelf.

Today it spies Garrett, a child of ten, who happens to be at the very same library. The book gazes down at him, peers into his soul, sees that he is worthy. It drops from the shelf into the boy’s backpack, and the boy, unknowing, carries it home with him. He does his homework. Watches TV. Eats dinner. Prepares for bed.

Meanwhile, the book finds its way onto Garrett’s mattress, and there it waits beneath the covers.

After Garrett climbs into bed, after the winds of sleep have begun to carry him away to secret lands, the book nudges his shoulder.

Garrett wakes.

Half asleep, he reaches out, taps the ancient leather spine with his fingers. He opens his eyes. Fully awake, he rises to a sitting position, reaches into the sheets and pulls the book out into the open. Where did this come from, he wonders. He opens it. A warm light shines on his face.

Garrett flips through empty weathered pages, and a universe springs to life.

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Labyrinth

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A thick fog surrounded Gerald, billowing like smoke. The world beyond the Labyrinth lay bare before him, pale and insubstantial, faded like an old photograph. He’d navigated the Labyrinth’s perilous depths for centuries, a towering ancient structure of stone, iron, and magic. All the while he’d labored under the promise that someday, when he’d reached the end, he would be released.

Now he knew the truth.

He could see the world outside, only it was a mute shadow of the place he’d known before he was captured. It would be forever out of reach.

His conquerors had said the Labyrinth was a Purgatory, that at the end he would find pardon and peace. But the Labyrinth was not a Purgatory, it was a Hell. Its purpose had not been to redeem him but to break him.

Head hung low, shoulders hunched in defeat, he turned to go back the way he’d come.

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Last Man Standing

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Amos sat in front of a plate of sizzling sisig. He gazed out the window of a tiny hole-in-the-wall resto, watched the erratic traffic patterns of the Philippines that were still so foreign to him even after all these years.

He sighed. It was a heavy, dusty sigh. A sigh of resignation. A sigh of loss.

Forced into hiding by a life-long enemy, he’d fled all the way to the other side of the world. He was all that was left of his line; the rest of his family was dead. A decade ago, he’d spent what was left of his life’s savings on a plane ticket, entered the country on a tourist visa and hadn’t been able to afford an extension. Now he was an illegal alien. If he tried to leave the country for some place new, the BI would detain him, fine him and deport him back to the States, where his life would be endangered again.

A shadow passed over his table, and he looked up. A figure stood at the entrance, a silhouette against the bloated late-afternoon sun. A man. Something about him tickled the periphery of Amos’s memory, but he couldn’t have said why. The man walked in, ordered the tapsilog and sat down at an empty table across from him.

Every now and then, Amos saw him casting furtive glances in his direction. It wasn’t unusual for foreigners in small towns to draw attention, so why did the man’s looks cause him so much anxiety?

As if replying to the unspoken question, a thought that was not his own hit him in the head like a dart.

He’s coming.

The man looked up once, peered into Amos’s eyes, held his gaze. Amos caught sight of the tattoo on his right upper arm, a coiled snake with its mouth open, baring two sharp fangs. The insignia of his enemy’s inner circle. He was certain the man had meant for him to see it.

Amos’s pulse quickened.

So, he’d been found. Amos wasn’t surprised. In fact, he’d never truly expected to get away, only to buy himself some extra time. He had nowhere to go, nowhere else to hide. It would be a showdown, then. Would he be the last man standing? He didn’t know, but he had nothing left to lose. What kind of life had he managed to enjoy, so far from home with none of his kith or kin, anyway?

Amos finished his sisig, pushed the metal plate aside and walked out into the humid afternoon.

It was time to prepare.

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Video Flash Fiction #4: A Web of Ink and Paper

If you want to follow along with the text, you can find it here.

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Video Flash Fiction #1: An Immortal in Exile

A few weeks ago, I started posting videos on Facebook of me narrating my flash fiction. It was an experiment, and people seemed to like it, so I’ve decided to make it a weekly feature. For now, all I have is my webcam and my laptop’s internal microphone, so neither the video nor the audio are very good. However, when I go back home to the States toward the end of November, I’ll have access to a boom mic and a much nicer camera, so stay tuned!

I’m posting my first video here on the blog as an introduction, but if you want to watch #2 and #3, you can find them on my YouTube channel. Please subscribe if you like them 🙂

From this point forward, I’ll be posting here weekly as well as on Facebook.

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GPS Signal Lost

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“Turn left on Miraloma Avenue.” It wasn’t the synthesized voice of Google Maps, but that of a genuine human female.

Richard obeyed and turned left. He no longer questioned the GPS’s choices.

“In one point two miles, turn right onto North Kraemer Boulevard.”

According to his phone, he was only ten minutes away. Sweat popped from his forehead in tiny pearl sequins. He hoped he wouldn’t be late. No, he didn’t think so. That was the damndest thing. He was always right on time. Right on time to prevent a fire, to stop a crime, to save a life. Richard had no idea where the benevolent voice in his GPS had come from, only that whenever it manifested with vague destinations like “Flood,” “Robbery” or “Suicide,” it always pointed him to a dangerous event that was about to occur.

Once he’d determined it wasn’t just a sick prank being played on him by one of his techie friends, he’d ignored it, driven in the opposite direction from wherever it was trying to lead him. But then he’d watched buildings burn to the ground and people die on the news, and soon his conscience had gotten the better of him. Someone, somehow, had set him on a mission, and his heart wouldn’t allow him to abandon it.

“Turn right.”

Richard turned right. Seven minutes. He stepped on the gas.

He wasn’t typically so anxious. Maybe at first, but the GPS had never steered him wrong. It always delivered him right where he needed to be at just the right time. But today was different. Today, the destination printed at the bottom of the screen said “Wife.”

What was going to happen to Katy? God, they’d only been married three years and had a baby on the way. He had to reach her.

“GPS signal lost.”

What? Richard slammed on his brakes. A car behind him whaled on the horn and flashed its brights, but Richard didn’t move.

“What do you mean, ‘GPS signal lost?'” Richard shouted. He sat staring at the phone mounted to the dash, dumbfounded.

Silence. The phone’s display now displayed a red banner with the text “Searching…”

Nonono! He had to get to Katy. Maybe if the area were more familiar, he might have guessed where the phone was trying to take him. But instead he’d been routed to a dingy, rundown quarter of Anaheim that he wasn’t at all familiar with. Why was she so far from home?

“Tell me,” Richard shouted. “Tell me where to find Katy!”

As if in reply, the phone repeated its previous statement: “GPS signal lost.”

The car behind him had swerved into the other lane, honking repeatedly until it was out of sight. Other cars were doing likewise, but Richard wasn’t paying attention. Instead, he yelled. Bucked. Screamed. Banged the steering wheel with balled fists. Threw the phone against the door.

“GPS signal lost.”

“No,” said Richard, weeping now. “No, tell me, goddamn you!”

He drove for more than an hour, frantic, almost hitting three other cars as he cut corners at over sixty miles per hour, scouring the streets for signs of his wife.

He’d just pulled over to the side of the road, desperate and lost, when his phone rang. The sound startled him and filled him with an unexpected terror. What did this mean? He reached for the device with hands that were now shaking and looked down at the display. He didn’t recognize the number.

Slowly, as if dreaming, he answered the call.

“Hello?”

“Hello, this is the Anaheim Police Department. Are you related to Katy Aimes?”

A stone sank in his stomach. In a dull voice, he answered, “Yes. I’m her husband.”

There was a sigh at the other end. “Mr. Aimes, I’m very sorry, but we have bad news about your wife.”

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