Drift.

©2021 Michael Raven

The leaves danced down the abandoned asphalt street, the sound of dried, hollow bones in their wake. Logan had not wanted to be here, had not asked to have this so-called gift, had not wanted anything at all to do with the past few eons other people measured in months. But no one had bothered to ask for his opinion on the matter, had even thought to ask him. Even now, the only reason he was here was yet one more thing he could not control: love. He loved her, and so he had fallen victim to the final sordid conspiracy surrounding this whole affair. Were it not for love… No. He didn’t want to think about such things.

Logan was unsurprised to see the man who was the cause of all these problems step from the shadows of the tangled tree like something from one of those cheap matinee monster movies from his youth. Everything about Klein oozed a plastic pastiche borrowed from some kind of camp warehouse. “You came,” he said, his voice slick with oil, and this, too, was something entirely predictable for Logan.

“I did,” he said without emotion. “Where is she?”

“We’ll discuss the girl after you’ve opened the door.” In his hand, the glint of metal reflected in the light of this place between worlds. Behind the tree, then.

It could be any door, Logan knew, so he walked up to the wrought-iron cemetery gate and put his hand on the rusted metal, cold to the touch. “Give her to me,” he said.

“THE DOOR!” Klein shouted. “Open the fucking door and you get the girl! That’s the deal! You stretch this out and I’ll slit her fucking throat!”

Logan cracked the gate, letting sunshine pour into this October country. Klein flashed a toothy grin.

“Give me Klaris, or I shut you in here forever.”

“I’ll slice her…”

“You slice her and I don’t care if either of us leaves. Do it, or give her to me.”

Klein paused, considered. And then dragged her into the dim light and pushed Klaris, stumbling, towards Logan.

Klein squealed as he ran to the gate, anxious to be rid of this prison. Until Klaris tripped him and he slid on his face to Logan’s feet.

Brushing herself off as she stood, Klaris spoke. “Not so fast, you bastard. We’re not done talking yet…”


Exploration. I occasionally consider returning to a terrible, no good, very bad novel I’ve been rehashing over and over in my head since about 1996. Actually, I wrote a two-pager in 1996 and forgot all about it until I stumbled on it around 2001 and I wrote the better part of a novel in serialized format until I painted myself into a corner with the plot. It was called “Drifter” and the biggest issue it had was that I never got around to connecting that initial fragment to the story enough to justify what the character “Drifter” was all about. But it was terrible in a number of other ways, while still having some promise in fits and starts.

After I had written about half of it, I rediscovered Siouxsie and the Banshees after a long hiatus of listening to earlier albums. One of the albums I hadn’t purchased carried a track called “Drifter” and this was probably another reason why the whole story fell apart so badly — I loved the lyrics and started to model the character after the song. In fact, if I were start from scratch, I think the song would be the primary inspiration for Drifter instead of the reluctant pseudo-vampire ash cursed thing he was supposed to be originally.

Anyway, the above is improvised, working off the ghost of a scene that I might write if I went back to it.

The lyrics are:

Drifter sleepwalk, drifter sleep talk
Awake to who is following
Moving like water, moving drifting on the wind
A drifter coming in

Then I dreamt that I awoke
And all around was asleep
With eyes in the back of my head
Awake to who is following

Drifter coming in
Never touching down, never leaving ground
A twilight world in which we roam
Still we don't belong, drift on

At daybreak, we walk
At daybreak, we talk
Ready to tear up the world

Drifter sleepwalk, drifter sleep talk
Your everywhere is home yet you never take hold
Wanting to live everywhere not wanting to live anywhere
A twilight world in which you roam
Still you won't belong, drift on

Drifter... Dream on.

Tits up.

©2014, 2021 Michael Raven

I wrote this on June 4th, 2014. The file has the date right there as I loaded it up and wondered just what I would find. “2014_06_04_Fiction” was the file’s name. Very descriptive.

Imagine my surprise when I saw it looked like a gun battle scene. I have no memory of writing it, but it looks like one of those not-quite-cyberpunk-but-later-than-2030-era stories I was toying around with over the years. How do I know it is likely from some post-now cyberpunk? The big hint is that Caleb takes time to do some cursory religious thing, ‘just in case’. I always wanted to mix up post-modern tech with folks who were careful not to anger whatever god that they were kind of agnostic about more than firm adherents believers of. That, and there’s hint of a “job” that involves theft and cred. Actually, ‘cred’ was added tonight to clarify their target, but the rest whiffed of a shadowrun kind of gig. Maybe should added ‘chummer’ too, but I never wanted to come off as writing fanfic for Shadowrun, so maybe it’s best I omitted such things.

Yeah, it’s a bit sweary. Sorry about that. Then again, I lived close enough to street folks (“hard cases”) over the years to know that the language is probably too tame for what they’d think and say in real life. And the title? Well, it explains Caleb’s situation perfectly: the job has gone “tit’s up”, and it seems like something a tough old bastard would say to describe his situation. “Nigel, this job’s gone tit’s up from the moment you sold me on it.”

Now that I’ve made the intro nearly as long as the tale…


Caleb checked the chambers of his revolver, still smoking from the most recent rounds fired and reloaded his Colt .45 with six fresh bullets to join their cousins already laying spent in the warmth of several corpses scattered in the warehouse. He deftly rolled the cylinder closed and briefly took aim at the next moron willing to reveal his location with the flash of a cheap 9mm muzzle. There were a few wasting their ammo shooting blindly over whatever cover they managed to garner when the shit all came down, but their bullets would never find Caleb that way; he’d almost have to have a deathwish and walk straight into their path for the bullets to connect with his flesh. Bad shots and cheap guns. He wasn’t sure what was so damn appealing about those toys they carried, but these guys must have found something appealing about carrying such worthless tools of trade.

One of his attackers forgot the standard protocol of a gunfight, stood up and shouted something about Caleb being a whoreson or some other such playground taunt just before Caleb squeezed off another round, thereby cutting off the insults before it even really had a chance to start. He crossed his forehead as a gesture of thanks to whatever god had guided his bullet home, knowing full well there was unlikely any hand of a god assisting his gunfire — one would have to be a terrible shot to miss an arcade-like target popping up in plain view outside of cover. But, as Caleb well knew, it never hurt to flatter the gods. You might need their assistance some time later on and it behooved anyone to make sure the gods looked upon you favorably.

And the clusterfuck was just beginning… Even though he’d known it would end up in such a state when this whole scheme was first proposed to him by Nigel.

“Easy peasy, lemon squeezy,” was Nigel’s assessment of the difficulty level. “Nil perspiration,” was his follow up comment. Any time Nigel was in charge of orchestrating a gig, things were likely apt to be anything but easy peasy. The boy was just too damn green, cocky and self-important to realize that planning was essential to a successful operation. Caleb preferred to not have to use his gun on a job — it was an amateur move. It was always best to get in and out before anyone knew you’d been there and if you planned it right, you’d be gone with the cred with several klicks between them and you before they knew you’d hit them. Best case, if they did discover you’d jacked them at all, would be somewhere else entirely, with several days or decades of time having passed since the dirty deed and its discovery.

“Good job, Nigel. They don’t even know what hit them due to your superior planning abilities,” Caleb said in a conversational tone to the man next to him.

“Fuck you. I had this completely planned to be as smooth as your baby ass, so someone must have fucked up and let them know we were coming.”

Caleb sighed, his breath heavy with the weight of years of training in cocky young assholes like Nigel. “It’s always someone else’s fault, ain’t it, Nigel? Someone else always responsible for shit rolling downhill, that it?” A 9mm bullet chipped away at the concrete over his head, whining as it spun off into places unknown well within the belly of the warehouse. “And watch your mouth. Show some respect for your elders. I get to curse, but you haven’t earned that right yet.”

“Whatever man,” replied Nigel as he looked for some new idiot willing to get plastic surgery with the help of a bullet. His voice was the same tough guy voice as before, but Caleb noticed he refrained from swearing at him again. Good, the boy was finally getting a fucking clue.

The Long Journey.

©2021 Michael Raven

The pools were not made for enjoyment. Not deep enough to swim in, too somber to splash in. Yet, the lack of frolic confused one of the attendants.

“Why do none play in the water?”

I respond. “These are to wash away the dust of the world, not for play.”

Having thus announced their purpose, I waded into the waters, clothed, as made sure to soak myself before exiting the pools and letting myself into the rune-covered halls of the ancients. I was dry before I passed the first arch. Such is the manner of those pools.

The attendant watched as I entered, both in awe at my audacity, and in shock because I had not been stopped either at the pools or the threshold, as had so many other pilgrims who had came and been turned away at the gates.

The ancients like to see gaudy trappings, to remind them of who they once were. We humor them; they’d be content with rough-hewn cabins and furniture, if only we quit spoiling them. They’d be happy knowing we were keeping them alive — the grandiose nature of their dwelling is just icing on a dry, crumbling cake.

I entered the great hall and there stood Old Grim, with his wolves, his birds, and his spear. He could find use for thrones when it suited, but he knew such glamours were unimpressive to me. “You finally found your way here,” he said without a hint of surprise.

“It was only a matter of time,” I replied.

“It won’t last,” he informed me, deadpan. Information only, and mostly useless knowledge at that. “You’ll have to find this place again. It will not be in the place you found it before.”

“Such is the ways of the dreaming,” I replied with a shrug, and he nodded.

“You are finally catching on,” he replied. One bird, then the second, laughed. It was meant to humble me, mock me, but I’ve grown used to their laughter and I smiled. My smile cut them off, as they quickly saw there would be no sport with me at this time.

“Here,” he said, handling me his spear. “You’ll need this. There will be eyes you must pierce before you can see.” He grinned. “Just don’t pierce the wrong eyes, boy, or you might be apt to walk off the edge of the precipice.”

His laughter filled the air, wolves joining in with loud howls at they took to nipping my heels and the birds exploded in a flurry of feathers. Somewhere in the chaos, I’d lost sight of Grim and his companions, and found myself teetering on the edge of a cliff. Wind-milling my arms, one holding a spear, I stumbled back away from the edge and landing on my ass in the dirt.

The pools and the temple were gone, as was Old Grim, his companions and the spear, save for the fading remnants of his laughter and a warmth in my hand where I’d recently held the wood shaft.

I stood up, brushed myself off and peered over the edge. Below was the city I’d come from with a disused path leading to it. I walked the path downwards, knowing the hill I’d just been on was fading behind me. The warmth grew in my palm and I found myself curious as to what talisman would appear there once it had set.

Clocktower.

A bit of fiction from 2012. Not the best and very loosely based on the world of a MMO that I played at the time. I scrubbed references for the game in my minor edits below. A few reworked passages, a few spelling errors, but the tale is largely as-written. I think I imagined a novella at the time, but probably got distracted. I have no firm memory of what the intent was aside from this bit of writing; however, it was labelled “Prelude”. Also, the larger piece was titled “Dancing the Ghost”.


Tick.

Tock.

Tick.

Tock.

Lucretia flipped her cloak over her head. She knew that doing so would be largely ineffective, as the cloak was little more than a scrap of oiled cloth and provided very little in the way of disguise, but the largely symbolic act couldn’t hurt either. She risked peeking out between the folds of her cloak, hoping the small, furtive motion would not drawn any attention to the place where she hid.

Tick.

Tock.

Tick.

Her pursuer burst into the room, a nervous ferret glancing around the unkempt room, seeking his prey. Lucretia started, almost revealing herself, as his fierce eyes fell upon the door she’d left ajar to check on who may follow. She forced herself to remain still, her only motion being to reach for the hilt of the dagger on her hip, her hand masked by the shadows, floating dust motes, and her upturned cloak.

Tock.

Tick.

Tock.

“Girly,” he said, as he looked closer at the crack. “C’mon out and play, Girly. Ol’, Berund was only kidding about beating the shit out of you. What’s a few coppers, lass, eh? Nothing to get angry about, right?”

He looked around the room, ear bent to the silence, waiting for an answer. Lucretia let out her breath silently. He’d not discovered her yet, there was still hope it wouldn’t come to blood. And if he intended to beat her, she didn’t plan to take the beating without extracting some blood in return.

Tick.

Tock.

Tick.

Tock.

Something about the cubby door held his attention, though, and Berund started towards her, the air kicking up the thick dust of the room in its wake, but his roaming eyes belied his ignorance of her whereabouts. She gripped the dagger’s hilt tighter, knowing the sorry blade would only likely serve more to surprise more than injure her hunter, and she likewise hoped the surprise and pain would be enough for her to scramble away to the next hidey hole she could think of. Stupid, stupid, stupid, she scolded silently. It had been a dumb move to choose a hiding place without an exit, but she hadn’t had much choice.

Tick.

Berund’s hand reached for the edge of the the door.

Tock.

Lucretia tensed, readied herself to pounce, blade quietly slipping free of the sheath.

TIck.

And then… the din of metal upon metal descended on them both. cacophonous and painful. Berund quickly covered his ears and roared in pain as he stumbled to the door by which he’d entered this room, cursing at the noise filling the room.

It was noon in Ravenswatch and Lucretia had, in classic mockery of the phrase, been saved by the bell. Her cloak draped over her head did little to deaden the noise of the bell above, and neither did her hands after she had let the dagger slide back into it’s sheath and covered her ears — but she endured, hoping the disruption would give her a chance to escape to a better hiding place until Berund calmed down. Sure, it had been but a few coppers, but coppers all the same. Berund hated to lose even one, and she’d abandoned nineteen when the guard asked for her begging papers, which she’d not renewed for lack of funds. That alone would have been easy to hide, but for that damn Mouse who’d made sure to tell Berund about the coin she’d left behind. They’d been close once, but now he seemed determined to torment her.

She’d have to hide for several days before Berund’s demeanor would revert to merely perpetually surly. What had been lost was a full evening’s worth of drink, by Lucretia’s estimate. Until he’d gotten his alcohol levels back to normal, it was best to avoid Berund unless she wanted a broken arm, or worse.

She huddled there in the darkness of the shadows once the bells ceased…. watching….. waiting.

Tick.

Tock.

But Berund didn’t venture back, probably thinking she’d not survived the clamor with her senses intact and that’d be punishment enough; or he’d thought to look for her in less noisy places.

Tick.

Either way, Lucretia deemed it was safe after a spell and snuck out to find a spot to hide near the farms of Landenshire, perhaps the caves she’d explored when the city became too oppressive to her, as it had on more than one occasion.

Tock.

The sound of the clocktower counting away the seconds faded as she made her way to the main gate of the Watch. Yes, she told herself, she was overdue for a vacation. Staying the shadows on her way to the gate, she left her problems behind her, like an old shirt or a trinket, of which she’d grown weary. Lucretia kept her face hidden under the hood of her cloak, avoiding any attention from the guards as she slipped past the tall doors leading to the farmland beyond the city walls, unaware she was being watched from shadows darker than those she’d used to her advantage.


Mouse took note of where ol’ Lucky went, fairly certain of her final destination. When they were younger the two of them, along with some of the other guttersnipes, often went to the small cave just outside of the Watch to play monsters and warrior as break from the normal begging and petty theft that filled the rest of their lives. As they grew older, the guild expected them to contribute more to the common coffers, leaving scant time for puerile heroic games, but Mouse had watched Lucky follow the same worn path they had used to reach their childhood sanctuary more times than he cared to remember and it didn’t take many brain cells to figure out this was where she’d go again.

He followed her as far as Landenshire to be certain and, having convinced himself his assumptions were correct, he contemplated how much Berund might be willing to pay to learn this news. Considering he was still likely enraged about his lost coin, Berund would probably pay at least as much as he’d lost in exchange, possibly more. Worst case, Mouse would still be a couple of coppers richer and his prestige with the guild would increase.

Turning back towards the city din, Mouse smiled at his fortune. As far as he could see it, it was a win-win situation for everyone involved — everyone except for Lucky, and she ranked low in his hierarchy of the world. Collateral damage.

She shouldn’t have left him behind years ago.


© Michael Raven

Big. Empty.

He pulled off into the gravel shoulder of the two-lane highway somewhere in the never-ending flatlands of North Dakota and stared out at the road before him, one that terminated as the vanishing point just beyond the horizon without deviating from the straight line it made dividing the swaying amber fields of wheat. Then he reviewed the the same in the rearview mirror, an infinite-seeming tether back to a lucrative job (golden cuffs, he’d heard it called), house, wife, and something just shy of the average 2.43 kids common to most families in the Upper Midwest. He should go back, he told himself; Valerie would be worried and the kids, well, they’d sense something was wrong once she started worrying about him and follow suit.

He loved them, right?

He did.

But the thought of the forty-hour workweek, the home repairs, a love-life centered around a birthday and an anniversary, and the inevitable soccer practices and music lessons —

He put the car back into drive and on the asphalt and followed the sunset while the radio faded in and out as it played a song by the Stone Temple Pilots somewhere left of the dial.

© Michael Raven

Juxtaposition.

He’d decided he was going to seize the tiger by its tail today. Instead of waiting for his bus on the one-way road between the skyscrapers of downtown like he did every day, looking up to catch a glimpse of the woman from his dreams as she crossed the skyway above his head, he had decided to miss his bus to try and meet her there.

While he waited, he glanced out the winter-frosted glass panes and watched the pedestrians below, and there he saw the woman of his dreams climbing aboard the bus he rode every day.

© Michael Raven

Acquiesce.

He awoke.

His eyes opened and gave way to ice-flows aquamarine green ghosting through the waters, Moon and her attendants sparklescattered, waiting for his arrival. She spoke nothing, which spoke volumes and he sighed, slitherstomped through the powered waste of white down the only path that remained in the ocean full of tears. She waited and, as far as he was concerned, she could damn well continue to wait — he’d not chosen to come here, but she’d drawn him to this place full of drifting white snow that stung needles into his flesh as he walked, driving him on. But she didn’t know that pain made living more easy to endure, so he rushed not, letting the pain punish him so he could feel alive.

He started to speak to the polar bear, but the old man shook his head. While Shadow was willing to try the Mistress’s patience, Bear was in no such mood. Old Man Bear pointed to his eye and then to the Moon; Shadow followed the path and nodded, knowing what he would do. The beast had told him the cost and Shadow had long since known it would come to this eventually. Moon was a harsh and cold mistress. She would have her due.

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Trade.

“You have something I haven’t been able to find,” Steven said with the air of conspiracy. “And I have something you will want when you see it. I think a trade is in order.”

Steve was the kind of guy you half-ignored. It didn’t matter what he talked about with you, it always sounded slightly off — not crazy, but starting to eclipse crazy. I responded with a noncommittal grunt.

He pointed to the pentagram on my chest. “I want to trade for that. Can’t find one like that ’round here.”

“I’m a bit partial to it,” I replied. “No trade.”

“But you don’t know what I have.”

I sighed. “I’ll still say no, but whatcha got Steve?”

He reached into his backpack and pulled out a wicker basket, grinning ear to ear.

“Well?” I asked, getting impatient with the man.

He opened it and inside was a raven skull, boiled clean and intact.

“Found this by the beach, though he had a little more meat on him when I did. Cleaned it up for you, pretty sure you’d like a raven to add to your sacred tools.” He held it closer. “Big bastard, too.”

I held onto the pendant I wore, contemplating.

“Fine,” I said taking off my pentagram and handing it over to him. “Apparently we both have something the other wants. “Deal”.

He slipped the satin cord over his head and handed me the basket, a shit-eating grin on his face. “I know things, Mick. I knew I had something you couldn’t resist.” And then he skipped down the street to the waterfront, making me wonder if there was something else I owned that he coveted.


© Michael Raven

I’ll keep this short.

This was largely a true exchange. The actual conversation mostly lost to time and memory, but “Steve” was an incredibly short man I knew when I lived in Seattle, someone who had also befriended a recovering heroin addict (that really should have had a support group more than me and “Steve”, as she thought her teenage boys’ love was what would keep her off smack — boys that saw her for one whole mandated day — hours really — a month and refused to talk to her on the phone). Anyway, I met him through the addict that I at first found attractive, but then just liked her as a friend, especially when the depth of her addiction became apparent. We rarely hung out as a trio, but he found out the cafe I hung out at when I wasn’t cutting hair or dancing myself to exhaustion at the fetish club. He was a bit “off” and claimed he was both gypsy and Cherokee, which may have been the truth. He also barely reached my shoulders in height (though not showing signs of being one of the little people) and always had a wild look in his eyes like he had done a shit-tonne of coke before he bumped into me at the cafe. When he saw the dead raven, he knew he would more than likely be able to trade me for the pentagram I wore that he apparently coveted. It was a simple welded silver wire piece, nothing special — but that was the thing… You could only find medallion or fancy/fussy-looking ones around Seattle at the time. I could vouch for that. And it seemed right on him, once he slipped it over his head.

I still have the skull.

Wheels on fire.

She hurried.

She was going to run away.

Again.

It was what she did. She ran whenever she got that spark that traveled from ass to neck like ice on a winter morning, clitter-clack and five fingers of shudders creeping crawling. Only it was summer this time, and she couldn’t begin to explain it away, force herself to stay, like she’d promised him she would, like she promised everyone before — men, grandmotherly old ladies, families who’d made her part of their own. She always promised to stay and she always broke that promise, no matter how intent she had been to keep it when it was made.

And here she was. Running. Again.

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