Old growth.

©2019-2021 Michael Raven

Photo by Francesco Ungaro on Pexels.com

Through the tangled skein of grandeval forest undergrowth, soft with moss and grasping at ankles, we crawled in the gloaming cast by the canopy of tall sentinels: oak and ash tangled in the ancient embrace of warring wood over some forgotten transgression obfuscated by the fog of time. And still, those trees struggled as we writhed to traverse the corpses of their fallen compatriots from the aeons before.

“The map,” said Lucy, her hand opening and closing for its surrender to her possession.

Olivia sighted and pulled it out of her breast pocket, lines and symbols showing where the old road was said to be viewable inside the plastic zip-closed bag. I leaned against one of the ancient trunks and smoked as Lucy sorted it all out.

In my amateur estimation, the map seemed more deception than truth. But nobody thought to ask me and I didn’t bother to offer up an opinion that would be sneered and snorted away. Instead, I drank stale, warm water from my canteen while Lucy examined our progress, or lack thereof.

After several moments of careful scrutiny, Lucy let her hand hold the map drop to her side as she scanned the dense forest.

“I’m afraid,” she said softy, “I’ve managed to get us lost.”

While the admission was a surprise, being lost was not.


Yet another FB flashfict from 2019. Light editing, per usual. Still file under: new weird.

Firebrand.

©2019-2021 Michael Raven

“I wakened him from his slumber to bring forth a more teleiotic, a more verdant world, to ameliorate this flawed, fetid cesspit of humankind — to free the Earth and all her children from the shackles of humanity!”

He raged from the mound of wood built around his emaciated body, dressed in little more than rags and ribbons of cloth, exposed flesh crossed with angry red marks sketched on his skin by the rocks thrown by both guttersnipes and more than a few people normally thought to be above such things.

“You may eradicate me from the plane, but I walk with the master!” he shouted, voice ragged from doing this all night. “Yea, I walk with the master and he will repay me by snatching me from this realm and placing me in another as a reward for my actions! You cannot kill me, for the master watches over me and protects me! Y’AI’NG’NGAH YOG-SOTHOTH H’EE-L’GEB F’AI THRODOG UAAAH!”

The torchbearer, at the signal of the mayor, started the slow processional to the man tied to the stake, flames licking the air in anticipation of the feast it was about to consume.


I was apparently a busy guy during this period of 2019, trying to get folks to read my writing on FB and getting mostly crickets. There’s probably a lesson to be learned, but I’m too stupid to pick up on it, so you get to re-read a lightly edited version of the story two years later, to the day. File under: Cthulhu Mythos.

Sitting geometries.

©2019-2021 Michael Raven

More than the alchemical formula he’d found pressed between the leaves of a leather-bound book he’d picked up at an estate sale; more than the elaborate eldritch diagrams he’d cast in salt and pigeons’ blood on the otherwise austere cupula of the otherwise abandoned mansion filled to the bring in the lower levels with needles, addicts, and angst he’d broken into along 4th Street; more than the incense and the words — it was the demands on his sitzfleisch, in his patient sitting as he fell into the world between worlds. Journeys such as these could never be rushed, but merely endured as one watched the geometries align and the universe suddenly fall away on either side.


More social media flash fiction from 2019; another attempt at the “new weird” genre. Lightly edited this time around. OED word of the day used for inspiration was sitzfleisch, which essentially means “buttocks”. It doesn’t fit well, but I kept it in all the same to express the challenges with using the OED word of the day for a prompt.

Stronk.

©2019-2021 Michael Raven

“This day is so full of stronk! I can’t believe this is happening to me.”

Lee kicked the crate full of tribbles threatening to explode in the cargo bay.

“Full of what?” Ted asked, shaking his head in confusion.

“Stronk.”

“Is that even a word?”

Lee forgot about the exploding tribble population for the time being, for he reveled in those times he could show off his superior knowledge of vocabulary. This was one of those precious opportunities presenting itself and he was not about to let it go to waste.

“Of course. I get daily words waved to my cabin every morning and that was the word of the day just yesterday.”

Ted was unconvinced.

“I still don’t think you’re using it right. Nobody says something like, ‘this day is full of stronk’. I mean ever.”

“Dude… While you are jacking off to girly magazines in your bunk, I’m taking that same time to better myself every morning. You don’t have the authority to judge my knowledge of the English language.”

Ted was about to reply when the crate exploded and filled the cargo bay with love and pink fur.


Yet another social media flash fiction piece originally penned two years ago today and modestly re-edited for this post. For the record, “stronk” was the OED word of the day and I intentionally had Lee misuse it because, as I noted in the original post, my day “needs more cowbell”. The word, according to several sources, is a humorous and unintentional slang misspelling of the word “strong”. Thank you internets.

Formulae.

©2019-2021 Michael Raven

“Why is it that medicine men always choose to live so damned far away from the villages they serve?” Harlow muttered under his breath.

He was tired of the jungle trying to eat him while he walked through it, whether it was bugs, large cats, snakes or tiny fish in the river’s waters with teeth much bigger than made any kind of sense at all.

“Not medicine man,” Alejo replied in his rough English. “Is brujo.”

Harlow’s translator and guide had come highly recommended by the University, but he’d found the man barely adequate and hardly fluent in English. Harlow couldn’t wait to get back to civilization so he could have a real conversation with someone less… subhuman.

“Whatever — the man we who has the formulation I need.”

Alejo nodded briskly. “He have. They all say.” Harlow couldn’t help but think he sensed that his guide wanted to be quit of him as well and was moderately offended by the realization. He let it pass. Alejo would be a distant memory soon.

“Well, let’s hope he’ll trade for it. I’ve waited long enough to explore the realms Alhazred mentions in his damnable book. I grow weary of these false leads.”

“This brujo has; they all say,” insisted the guide. “You dream-walk when we get back to Santarem, you want. Soon.”

“I’ll damned well dream-walk tonight back at the village if I want.”

Alejo stopped and shook his head vigorously, aghast at the idea.

“You do that, the villagers will kill you. They no want you to bring back the hounds when you are done and they think you die in dream-walk, the hounds not come. Santarem is better. There, they not know dream-walk or hounds…”


Another bit of social media flashfict, originally posted two years ago today. I took a heavier hand in editing this time around, as I felt a few things needed more clarification. Please note: while I employed some racial stereotyping from the age of weird fiction (1920s-1950s) in terms of Alejo’s pidgin English, it was an intentional artistic decision based on emulating the feel of that genre, not an actually held bias on my part. As you can tell from these social media flashfict stories, I was writing a lot of pieces at the time that were inspired by weird fiction from the likes of Lovecraft, Howard, Ashton Smith, Machen, etc. In many ways, I feel my weird fiction attempts are largely more successful than my fantasy fiction efforts. I should probably stick to weird or what I call “vignette” short fiction, which I consider to be more “Polaroid” snapshots of daily life — I have not posted many of those types of stories here.

Gateway.

©2019-2021 Michael Raven

He’d barely turned the key when the chimeric visions fell in layered veils over his sight, already hinting at what lay beyond the liminal threshold he was about to cross The gut wretch, a fellifluous and acid burning of the lower chakras, as the tumbler turned and the scribed door swung away from Llew.

He had second thoughts, but knew it was well beyond the time for second thoughts. So he crammed those fears into that place deep within where they could shriek in the silence within, unheard.

The gateway yawned before him, multicoloured and writhing, the angles turning in on themselves.

Llew didn’t believe in Heaven, but he feared his next step would confirm his suspicions about Hell.

Again, it was too late to reconsider. To walk away now would leave this door open and, eventually, something from the other side would notice and come forth. And, tethered as he was to the portal now that he’d opened it, that something would follow that gossamer-thin thread to him and his life forfeit. The price to close the door once opened was passage. So he stepped forth, letting the door slam behind him as he fell in space to wherever he might land.


Yet another social media flash fict effort published two years ago today, with minimal editing once transcribed here. OED word of the day used as trigger was “fellifluous”.

Recharging.

©2019-2021 Michael Raven

The tea kettle had stopped knocking and rattling, an indication that it would begin its high-pitched shriek that would break the early evening quiet, which meant it was the perfect temperature for Kori’s needs and she removed it from the propane flame. The water inside protested the disturbance as it slopped against the sides of the tin, sputtering and cursing at her. Kori ignored the noise and poured some over the dark green tea leaves and watched their writing as they unfolded in the bath of hot water. After steeping her tea for several minutes, she remove the strainer and turned her attention back to her bowl of kombu, white miso and matchstick-cut vegetables, and poured the remaining water into the bowl, stirring the contents with a pair of chopsticks.

Over the lake a loon laughed at her as she brought the tea to her lips and sipped. Bliss crept to the corners of her mouth, pulling it into a faint grin.

She’d always preferred a simple meal after the hard work of burying the dead. It was hot work under the floorboards of her northwoods cabin — and she found that the combination of the heat of exertion and lingering spell of the dead tended to ruin her appetite but knew she’d need her energy to finish what she’d started.


Another one of my social media flash fictions, posted on this day in 2019. Per usual, light editing was performed for clarification, cleanup or obvious errors, but the core story is unchanged. The OED word of the day used for my trigger was “kombu”.

Let there be light.

©2019-2021 Michael Raven

“And so we’re supposed to just be okay with the abeyance of civil law? How long will you suspend our rights? For a week? Until your little concocted ’emergency’ passes? Or is this a permanent state you plan for us to endure?”

James strained against the firm grasp of his handlers, but the days of confinement in squalid conditions, being forced to neither stand nor sit had taken its toll and the men in the camouflaged fatigues didn’t have to exert much effort to restrain him. The Usurper, as James thought of the man these days, stared out the high tower winders of The Castle, his back to him.

An eternity passed.

“Because you were a trusted friend once,” the Usurper said in the voice of the dying, “I won’t take your head. I’ll even give you a fighting chance…”

“But,” he continued, turning to face James, raising a finger to stop the man from speaking. “If I ever see you again, know that the deep well of my mercy has gone dry.”

The Usurper turned to one of the guards. “Send him beyond the Pale. Give him food and a gun. If he can survive the Wolves’ justice, he is free to live as he might as long as he never returns. If he does come back…,” He turned back to James and held his gaze with eyes of steel. “…Kill him on sight.”

The guard snapped a salute when it was clear the Usurper was done and ran off to make preparations for James’ leave-taking as the others started to drag him away.

James screamed as the men hauled him off, legs pinwheeling, barely touching the ground as they carried him off.

“I’m coming back, Cord! This is not what we agreed to when we it all started! Cord? Do you hear me? I’m going to kill you for what you’ve done!”

The doors closed and the Usurper listened to James’ voice as it trailed away, down the long corridors of the Castle. He walked to the window to look down at the city, saddened to have had to put yet another quarter to the flame, watching as the fire consumed the place he’d once loved for all of its flaws. Loved with a passion before all of… this.

And now, the loss of his closest advisor, the one person who he’d thought understood that plans sometimes need to change.


Another Facebook flash fiction piece written on this day in 2019. This one was handed a heavier hand in editing, mostly for clarity, but a few changes to better explain the world it takes place within. The OED word of the day was “abeyant”, the word used for the story trigger.

Double Yolk.

©2019-2021 Michael Raven

“The interesting thing,” he said, holding the leathery pod with his blue nitrile-ensconced fingers and examining the brown, reptilian flesh of the egg, remaining Lauren of an overripe avocado. “…is the sheer aggressiveness of the species.”

“Occasionally, you get a double-yolker and, unlike other species where survival is unlikely for both egg-mates due to limited resources, or where the offspring view for those resources after hatching — snarklings attack their egg-mate as soon as their initial hooks form and, well, woe to the slow-developing twin.”

“The stronger kills the weaker to secure the limited resources?” Lauren asked.

“Worse,” Professor Yang replied. “They kill and consume the less-fortunate twin while still within the egg. That makes it really interesting, of course, when there is a triple-yolker… but, that’s extremely rare.”

Professor Yang stared off at nothing in particular, then added with a shudder, “Thankfully.”


Another FB story post from 2019. I had a few typos in this one, so I transcribed it this time and added minor clarifications to what the characters were saying for context. Still, minimal edits to the flash fiction itself. The OED word of the day was “yolker”, which was the inspiration for this piece.

Flashfict from FB

©2019-2021 Michael Raven

I posted this bit of flash fiction on FB two years ago today as a “story”, which converts it to a picture. Sad, but true. The word of the day I used for the purposes of inspiration was “doggo”. No changes were made, this is a straight copypasta.