©2022 Michael Raven

He felt the telltale electric charge ionize the air of an incoming walk-in before he heard or saw anyone. Or fall-out, he supposed, because they always fell some distance, higher or lower when they came and out, well because they were leaving what they knew instead of coming home.

The hairs on his arms danced in place, twitching to the beat of arrector pili reaching out for the other side, or the charge in the air. He ignored it, the feeling had become more frustration than excitement in his time in this place as surrender settled in. The others were coming, not going and there was no leaving, no homecoming, for the likes of him as far as he could tell. So he set to drifting on, like he always did in this twilight place.

Continue reading “Fall-outs”

Tree hollow

©2022 Michael Raven

A body won’t have noticed the hollow in the tree, had they just walked by, ambling as most folks do through forests, sticking to established forest trails. No. It wasn’t something that would have drawn attention at all, and that suited Stuart just fine. It was his secret hollow, a door to other places and times, something not given to being understood, especially by the old men and women.

If you were out of school, Stuart reckoned, you earned classification as “old man” or “old women”. Most people, he reckoned, and just by observation alone, were old well before that point, someplace and when around the age of thirteen by his estimation, but his judgments and proclamations trended to wide margins of forgiveness.

Stuart was quite content with the arrangement, being just shy of eleven himself and figuring he still had a good thirty years or more before he got old. He’d made a promise to himself, he did.

And so, every afternoon he sat in that hidden tree hollow with Bernard, the small red fox who lived nearby, and Hopping Joe, the crow who seemed to live everyplace and nowhere and they listened to the secret lives of the many people walking by. Bernard and Stuart asked many questions; Hopping Joe, well he seemed to have answers for it all. Meanwhile Lucas “Fuzzy Rat”, the local squirrel would shake his head in the branches overhead and make chirping noises in disgust at Joe’s answers. Stuart thought most of it was cow-pies, but Bernard accepted what Joe said, and that seemed to be enough. Every once in a while, Hopping Joe would tire of Lucas’ chirps and chase him off, but Fuzzy Rat never stayed away too long.

Perhaps he learned something about the world from Joe, in spite of his disagreeable sounds.

Endless, the hall

©2022 Michael Raven

He walked down the halls, finger dragging the dust from divider panels and three-quarter height trim, the lawnscaped green flowing out to infinity before and behind and cheap brass plated rails leading the leftside way, oak veneer solidcore doors with window slit wire mesh peepholes accessorizing, except where privacy was desired. Those did not let in or out the secrets behind closed door and were clouded or absent to hold secrets bursting at bay.

He hummed, occasionally tip tapping out some poly-rhythm, the time of which only known to him, but the count quite accurate and on as his fingers gathered the dust greyscale on the friction ridges making up his identity, should anyone care to match it up to another mark left on the plated rail.

No one did.

No forensic teams looked to put him away, put him behind bars, as he strode without apparent purpose. At that, however, a witness would have been wrong.

He had purpose behind walking these endless halls with endless walls and countless doors, each and every locked against trespass, but oh! how they tempted him with lurid promises as he passed. Inured, he felt no succubus temptation in the vague shadows and play of light any more. He remained… disinterested.

Trip tapping, humming tuneless, he succumbed to his mission instead. And — lost in his reverie that had gone on for so very long and he stepped one foot, then another ahead — he didn’t notice an end to his hallway journey and nearly walked into the bare, unadorned wall in his path.

Puzzling, he pondered, unhummed and of bestilled tappity tap. His eyes awoke with a start and a smile and he rummaged his rumpled frock pockets made of velveteen crushed until he plundered from them a stick of char, black as ebon night and drew upon the blank before him.

With fingers darkened soot, this he carved:

Shaky-handed door on the empty blockage, devoid of anything but white. Then, he pushed at the crooked center, gave a shove, a push, a thrust and, with great groaning at injustices untold, his drawing gave way to more nearly endless paths, this time carpeted red, with doors rightwise and rail left.

Click-clucking his tongue, he stepped through and sullied his other hand with dust of grey from the other rail, humming a humming kind of jaunty tune.


©2019-2022 michael raven

“Oh, please,” she sighed, breathing heavily from the effort of running madblind before she faceplanted in the palm of hand filthy with whatever gives an aptrgangr their ‘blood’. The mess it left on her face mattered only slightly. Considering the swarm’s collective vital fluids had splashed out and covered them both in gore when the rune-carved statue had flattened the undead, what was a little bit more on her cheek?

“Please do not tell me you MacGyvered a trap out of these ancient relics. I mean — what if they were valuable?”

Ben turned to her with a scowl. “What the hell, Frances? These ‘valuable’ relics of your wouldn’t have been much value to either of us if those undead bastards had caught up and given us both a bit of a munch, now would they?”

He stood up, wiping the muck from his shirt.

“You can thank me, by the way, for pulling you off to the side instead of letting you trip the trap. A little gratitude… would it kill ya?”

Another one of those 2019 flash fiction bits. Word of the Day, OED was “MacGyver”. File under grimdark with a pinch of black humor. Minor edits for clarity.

When stars are stars

©2019-2022 michael raven

“If you value both of your eyes,” said the old hag with her cataract-cloud gaze. “I would not seek the wisdom of ash, oak and thorn. I would go back to your woman, give her a lusty life with children and laughter. The path you seek to walk leads only to despair, for that is all the gift this kind of knowledge brings.”

She sat there, one gnarled and wrinkled hand folded into the other, waiting.

He rapped the head of his staff on the table in a sudden pique of rage, causing the soil cast in intricate patterns of geomancy to dance on its surface.

“Damn your caution, spell-singer,” his voice rough with the fatigue of months traveling here. “I’ll give both eyes if this gives my people the means to battle the Rime.”

He caught his breath, tamed the fire within.

“I beg forgiveness. Please, now tell me how to find those answers I seek.”

She shook her head. So young. So arrogant. So stupid.

“You must die afore you get your answers, boy. And an eye you shall surrender. Pray it is all that you lose.”

She leaned over to the map he carried that was wrong in every manner but the most essential and poked a boney finger, skin translucent with age, at the place where his answers would lie. Or the door to where he’d find his answers. She thought to mention his journey has just begun, but the door was already slamming behind his receding footsteps up the path away from her hut without a word of thanks or by-your-leave. Impatient bastard. She hoped they took both eyes for his having risked speaking it into being.

Another flash fiction from 2019, this one based on the prompt: geomancy. Minor edits. More in vein of high fantasy, but I’d probably go the grimdark route if I took it any further.

Letter found between walls

©2019-2022 michael raven

“I knowe thy markings makes ye outcaste and beyone pale, me callyd sonn — yet stande ye fast and soothe, afore the wynters come and ye will have those who wyll harme ye fall to foot and beg mercy when they see yr true myte…”

— scrap of parchment found behind a false panel between the walls of an old homestead in a ghost-town, Upstate New York. The remainder of the the document was consumed by vermin. There are no records as to the reasons the town was abandoned.

Another flash fiction bit from 2019, slightly modified. Prompt was the OED Word of the Day: callid. File under New Weird.

Certain sacrifices must be made

©2019-2022 michael raven

“I awakened him from is slumber to bring on a more teleiotic, verdant world! To ameliorate this flawed, fetid cesspit of humankind! To free the Earth and all of her children from the shackles of humanity!”

He continued to rage from the mound of wood built around his emaciated body, dressed in little more than rags and ribbons of cloth, the exposed flesh crossed with angry red marks from jagged rocks thrown by the local guttersnipes. More than a few of the rock-throwers were persons thought to have a better sense of decorum.

“You might eradicate me from this plane, but be forewarned: I have the favor of the Master!” he shouted, voice ragged from raging all night. “Yea, I walk with the Master and He will repay me for my deeds, snatch me from this real and set me to work in the next! Y’AI’NG’NGAH YOG-SOTHOTH H’EE-L’GEB F’AI THRODOG UAAAH!”

Father Murphy sensed the man had spoken enough and nodded to the torchbearer, who started the slow processional to the man tied to the stake, flames from the torch licking the air in anticipation of the imminent feast.

Another flash fiction from 2019 based on an OED word of the day prompt, which I believe was “teleiotic”. More of my experimentation with New Weird, in case the Yog-Sothoth didn’t give it away. The story is almost exactly as it originally appeared elsewhere, with minor word restructuring.

At all costs

©2019-2022 michael raven

Doctor Lamb watched the multitude of lights, sliding bars of color, numbers in red flashing like myriad blinking blind eyes belonging to Sauron and sighed.

“She’s dying, isn’t she?” asked Lamb’s assistant, Gary.

The doctor nodded, weary to the bone.

“I was hoping it wouldn’t come to this,” he said. “But I suppose we need to act now or risk losing the mother. There’s still a chance she can carry on, but only if we pull the trigger and act immediately.”

“Does anyone with higher authority know? Shouldn’t we get authorization before acting?”

Lamb shook his head. “They’d just delay the inevitable with their arguments. It would take too long to see reason and we don’t have time for their bureaucracy. By the time they that it is the only reasonable course of action, it could very well be too late.”

Without waiting for Gary’s counterargument, Lamb keyed in a command line into the computer console that only he knew. Milliseconds after the the enter key was pressed on the keyboard, the caches he’d hidden around the globe released their contents into the air, nanobots attuned exclusively to homo sapiens. They miniscule bots were designed to enter a person and disrupt key protein strands within the brain and nervous system. Importantly: no one but Gary knew of their existence.

Six months later, the bots would self-destruct and free Gaia from the bondage of humankind for the first time in aeons.

Another, slightly modified flash fiction piece from 2019 using the OED word of the day: Gaia. File under: grimdark post-humanist.

Crawlspace worlds

©2019-2022 michael raven

Morgan stared through the cubby door opening after Mark stood aside.

“Tell me, mate… Why is it that everyone but me seems to have a real kif bedroom, while I seem to be doomed for as mundane of one as the universe can muster on my behalf?”

Beyond the threshold, there were pine trees and underbrush, the will-o-wisp of flurries dancing between forest branches. Morgan could see a lamppost casting a circle of light in a clearing a bit down a narrow path leading away from the door, a beacon against the night within. Cold air washed into Mark’s room, giving relief from the hot, humid Minnesota summer.

“Dunno. Your luck must be real horsepoo,” Mark said, shrugging. “But we’re friends now, ain’t we?”

Morgan nodded.

“Well, then, almost as good as having a door like this of your own. Say — why don’t we go see if Queen Jadis has any good treats on hand, yeah? She’s a little stern, but her treats are to die for.”

Without waiting for a reply, Mark stepped into the forest inside the cubby and Morgan followed close behind.

More flash fiction from 2019, modified a bit more than usual. “Kif” was the prompt via OED. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that every time I opened the crawlspace cubby door in my room if I didn’t hope, beyond hope, that I’d see a street lamp in the middle of a forest beyond. My parents didn’t think I needed a wardrobe.

Troubles with stronk

©2019-2022 michael raven

“This day is so full of stronk!”

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

“Full of what?!?!?” Ted asked


Ted was skeptical. “Is stronk even a word?”

Lee forgot about his troubles with tribbles for a moment, for he reveled in those moment in which he could show off his superior grasp of vocabulary whenever an opportunity presented itself.

“Of course. I get daily words waved to my cabin every morning. Y’know, those waves where you increase your language skills… That was the word of the day yesterday.”

Ted remained unconvinced.

“I don’t think you’re using it right, if it’s even a real word.”

“Dude, while you are tossing off to girly mags in your bunk, I am bettering myself. If you doubt me, go ask Lucas. Otherwise shut the hell up and help me deal w–“

Lee never finished his sentence. The crate exploded and filled the room with love and pink fur.

Another in the series of flash fictions I wrote on a different site in 2019, some modifications, all minor. For the record, “stronk” is a real word; at least OED thinks it is. It doesn’t mean anything close to how Lee uses it, but he’s too busy to talk about it at the moment. Also, file under “warped drive”.