I’ll be better

He was humiliated. Thrown into the back of the class for being different. His classmates don’t understand how unique he is. How special he is. They all look at his flaws.

“One day, I’ll be better.” He constantly writes in his notebook.

Friends

Why do I bother?
Why should I try,
When I know any dream of us is just a hopeful lie.
Everytime I’m with you my heart skips a beat.
But what good does it do.
If you don’t feel the same about me.
God baby,
You’re all in my head.
Constantly making me wish I could pull you into my bed.
The words you say.
Are always so vague.
Trapped in my mind.
Puzzling me for days.
I wish I could tell you.
This one simple truth.
But honestly,
The chances of you.
Loving me back.
Is one to a million
An undebatable fact.
You’re out of my league.
The moment you smile.
I lose the ability to breathe.
I’ve tried to play pretend.
Fought so hard to have pure intent.
But I admit,
I’m not content.
With just sticking around.
Stuck as only a friend.

- JC
Like Tetris

A #microfiction for anyone who hates moving…

I tell myself it’s like Tetris.

Only the blocks keep changing their shape on me and refuse to fit nicely into their rows. Their keep twisting their tentacle edges out of line.

That’s what moving house feels like to me. Like the blocks that have held the shape of my life are twisting out of place and slipping between my fingers when I try to keep hold of them.

Some people will tell you that’s what you should expect when you live in a hell dimension. Certainly it doesn’t help that most of my belongings have teeth.

But I tell myself it’s like Tetris. Just on a higher difficulty level.

I keep telling myself that even as the imps I’ve keen using as space heaters begin to melt through the heavy lead packing boxes. I repeat it to myself as the toaster makes a break for freedom and needs to be subdued with the silver persuasion stick. I chant it out loud as the wide-screen demon attempts to rebel and keep chanting while I draw a binding circle and keep chanting until it is forced into packable shape.

It is just like a game of Tetris and soon it will be over and I will have the high score.

After all, even in a plane where torments stretch out for eternities, this process cannot go on forever.

After a time, I stop telling myself it’s like Tetris. I start telling myself it’s like a beat-em-up.

I gird my knuckles with silver and iron. I made a whip out of packing tape and my own claws. I armoured myself in bubble wrap and I spread my razor wings wide.

The goblins that were once my belongings sizzle in my grasp, but I show no mercy. I seal them in their crates with bees’ wax, old string and unholy runes. I laugh as I do so.

I am an angel of packing related doom. I am an angel of change and revolution. I am a literal angel.

This isn’t like Tetris. This is The Sims and I’m on cheat mode. This dimension is mine to play with.

The move is done now. I look back on it and curse my old home plane. The curses crackle in my mouth. The hellscape catches fire. It was already on fire. Now it’s on double fire.

I look around. In a fit of moving euphoria I seem to have stormed the gates of heaven and am sat in God’s own palace.

God was forced to move to a flatshare in Hackney. He goes to that cereal cafe because he’s a dick. Beneath his smile he is miserable.

Good.

Heaven is mine now.

I resolve to have a bitching housewarming.

Weekly Tales, 8 February 2016

This week I wrote a one-page story titled Eve.

Read the rest after the break!

Once upon a time there was a girl.

Except she wasn’t a girl. She was an animal.

What animal, you may ask? Why, every animal you can imagine. She could transform from a scuttering ant to a gentle elephant in the space of a second.

But the only creature she could not turn into was a human girl.

At first, this did not bother the child overmuch. She had the entire animal kingdom at her disposal, after all, each one as fun as the last, delighting in the beauty of bustling life. People pointed and laughed delightedly at the field mouse riding on the bike of the town florist as he delivered an arrangement of daisies and roses and pearls to a wedding.  Children heading to the school’s field for their baseball tournament stopped to play with the friendly dog on the corner. Farmers, exhausted from a hard day’s work, watched in amazement as a sleek lioness scared wolves away from their sheep.

But the girl could not shield herself from the darker side of man, for she saw it all. The school’s worst bully wouldn’t sleep for a week after a spider in his sheets tickled his feet. A thief attempting escape from the old librarian’s house tripped over a black cat. Men caught in fisticuffs at the local tavern were stung by a yellow jacket until pain and swollen faces made them cease.

Both good and bad, the girl eventually tired of her animals. The florist delivered his flowers and returned to his workshop. The children left the dog on the corner, running to make their game on time. The farmers had never seen a lioness, and stayed inside their houses.

Keep reading

Say You Love Me

Tell me you love me.
Even if you have to lie.
I need to hear it flowing off your lips.
The effect you have on me.
Is more potent than a drug.
Luring me closer to your body.
Making me crave more than a hug.
And maybe if I could get you to say you love me.
The words would become true.
And we could live happily ever after.
Just me and you.

- JC
Princess

A #microfiction about princes and dragons for the hopeless (but unusual) romantics among you…

She saw the handsome prince coming from a long way off. She was curled around the tallest tower of her lair, warming her scales in the sunlight, so she had an excellent view of his approach.

She saw his shining sword.

She saw his burnished (if slightly scruffy) armour.

She saw his tousled hair, his perfect dimples and his really quite attractive forearms.

He was delicious. She was smitten and resolved to enjoy eating him even more than the last prince who’d come calling.

When he arrived he threw himself against her with such enthusiasm it bordered on joy. He wrecked himself time and again upon her wall of scales and flame.

She could not bring herself to devour him.

In the coming years, he returned again and again. Each time, he left a beautiful wreck of blood, bruise and burns. She liked to think the scars were her gifts to remember him by.

Then, one year, he did not return.

She worried that perhaps she had injured him too badly this time and he lacked the strength to fight her again. This thought made her sad, so she consulted a passing wyrm that she had been known to bed on occasion and who sometimes raided near the town. He told her that the prince, long pressured by his father the King to settle down, had finally chosen a bride.

The Dragon was consumed by curiosity. It gnawed at her gut like a sickness and she determined that she must know who had won the heart of her beautifully bruised prince.

She drew the spells on her face with a glitter made from bones of dead princes. She painted her lips with the last drops of blood from their broken hearts. As the spells took effect she felt her skin tighten and her bones remould into human form. Her eyes glittered with malice and her scales still clung around her in a tight gown.

She made her way to town with a wicked smile on her face.

Meanwhile, the prince stood in his court wearing his finest, royal best. The silks and satins felt odd against him, for he was never comfortable unless wearing his slightly scruffy armour.

After ruining himself so many times fighting the glory that was the dragon, he felt uncomfortable courting someone unarmed.

In truth, he had had little time or inclination for romance as most of his waking hours were taken up training and preparing for his next trip to fight the dragon.

He never felt happy when he was not charging towards her.

He never felt dressed without a sword and shield to match the brilliance of her scales and fires.

He never felt right in his skin without one of her burns healing. He liked to think the scars were her gifts to remember him by.

But his father insisted he be married and eventually it had become impossible to delay, so now he waited.

He was still waiting when the dragon came to court. Sneaking in through the balcony, she slinked up behind him and when he heard the familiar rustle of her scales he turned.

She could tell that he recognised her at once, his eyes wide in surprise and fear.

They stood there in silence for a while, each tensed like a spring.

“So,” she said, a vision of death wrapped in scales and glitter, “I hear you’re getting married. Please, allow me to offer my congratulations to my oldest enemy and his bride. Who is she?”

At this, the prince laughed. His face creasing up in scars and wrinkles.

“Why, it’s you, of course.” He held his arms out to her awkwardly and his really somewhat dishy body looked oddly vulnerable in his flimsy silks. “When my father told me I had to get married I knew I wanted it to be my dragon princess. So I waited and I prayed.”

He smiled.

“And here you are.”

They were married that week. And the kingdom soon got used to seeing their crown prince riding across the sky on his dragon love.

They took somewhat longer to get used to the sight of the two of them beating the shit out of each other every year, but everyone had to admit, they were very happy.

You’re laying in your bed, your blankets are slowly sliding off. You yank them and turn over, shutting your eyes.

Then your blankets are gone. Someone roughly tugged them off with anger and force. They’re all on the floor. There’s the sound of fabric moving and you sit up, turn on your light and look down. A hand. A rotten moldy hand slowly pulls your blankets under the bed.

You carefully shut off your light and lay back down.

“Sorry,” says the voice of the corpse under your bed. “I’ve been cold since you stuck me in the freezer.”

Calling all writers and artists

TAME is a new independent zine for showcasing the work of upcoming artists and writers. https://www.facebook.com/tamezine/

TAME is seeking submissions for its first issue! We are looking for:
- Poems of up to 30 lines
- Short fiction of up to 750 words
- Short comics
- Black and white illustrations and photographs

The theme for this issue, to be interpreted as loosely as you want, is ‘Difference’.

Please send submissions to tamethezine@gmail.com

Email or message @virtuouspagans if you have any questions or just want to talk about the zine. I look forward to reading your submissions!

Excellent! thought Zartran the Iron-Hearted. The Doctor was right — the lion DNA is beginning to take effect! Too bad the poor fool hadn’t lived to see his creations but…no loose ends. The subjects were still docile, but that would certainly soon change. Mock him at the International Wild Animal Tamer’s Banquet, would they? Well, this new act would be sure to garner him “Tamer of the Year” for sure! Now…where did I put that raw meat?

The Girl With The Switch

I swear this ‪#‎microfiction‬ was supposed to be more cheerful than this…

Once upon a time, there was a little girl who could turn off her feelings.

The switch had grown out of her neck when she was young and she was most surprised when she flipped it for the first time and found herself wrapped in a pleasant void.

At first she would use it sparingly, when she realised her toddler tantrums were getting her nowhere and the rage became bothersome. Or in the adolescent days when she had been crying for days and was just *so* tired.

In her teen years, she would use it to take a break from particularly distracting crushes so she could actually get some work done. Sometimes she would flick it on to better endure the last five minutes of the phone call with her best friend who was also her worst enemy.

When she was grown and had learned more about the world, she discovered that she had *opinions* about said world’s state. This was when the switch came into its own, for she soon discovered those opinions were far more palatable for those around her when she was able to express them with as little expression as possible.

She discovered work went much more agreeably, too, if she was able to take interruptions, implied insults and incompetent imperatives with placid acceptance. Then she would flick the switch back on and resume the work of being relentlessly *good* at things.

She found romance so much easier to navigate when she was incapable of heartbreak or disappointment.

Then, one day, she flipped the switch to turn her feelings back on and she thought that the switch must have been broken for she felt no difference.

Using a complex system of mirrors and scalpels, she investigated the space behind the switch and saw her feelings there. They had curled up into a dry, withered ball, with fragile, petrified strands reaching out from its cracked mass.

It looked for all the world like the husk of a starved plant.

She shrugged and sewed herself back up.

Things went much smoother for her from that day onwards.

Mad Scientist Journal Reopens for Fiction Stories - Pays $20/story

Mad Scientist Journal has reopened for new submissions from writers. The quarterly ezine and online website feature “mad scientist” stories written in first-person with elements of speculative fiction. Genres include fantasy, sci-fi, horror, adventure, and paranormal romance, supernatural, and pulp fiction.

The editors are currently publishing a new weekly short story for the website. Every quarter they combine the stories into a print/digital book with additional original content.

Keep reading

There’s a story told of my voice that says it was bought from a witch, the result of an occult surgery. I am said to treat it nightly with arcane oils and ointments, my real voice in a box on the witch’s mantel.

If you lift the lid, apparently, you can hear it saying everything I can’t say with this voice, the voice that sings. The witch’s bargain is that I cannot perform normal speech.

“Hunger” by Alexander Chee in the Guernica/PEN Flash series:

 http://www.pen.org/flash/hunger

Things You Can’t Do Once You’ve Dyed Your Hair

flash fiction by me


Once you’ve made the leap from some natural, boring, and often rabbit-like hair pigment to a color straight off the rainbow, the world changes a little. Suddenly, small children are confused by your existence. Passerby feel the urge to comment. There are rules that take place the exact second your dead skin cells dry in their new shade, and they are as follows:

1. Thou Shalt Not Cook Without A Hairnet

Everyone will be able to trace the hair in the casserole to you, without fail. Every single time. Don’t even try it–even your half-blind, great-great-great aunt Catherine can tell that neon pink strand is not hers.

2. Thou Shalt Embrace The Fame

Much like how people comment on the albino skunk glued to Donald Trump’s head by a vindictive Gaelic goddess or Miley Cyrus’ inventive hair styles, they will now turn their eyes to you. That grandma in the shopping mall? No more old-lady smiles for you, you fucking punk. Get off the woman’s damn lawn. Those weird teenagers at Six Flags? You’re totally, like, their inspiration, bro. And again with the small ones. Generation Z has no idea how the hell your mommy had a baby with a parrot, but they’re considering you on the same level as either the monster from Insidious 3 or Mickey Mouse. Love the attention you’re now getting. It isn’t going away.

3. Thy Struggle Shall Awaken

..And so will your washing machine. Your first nights with a newly dyed frock are often like those with a newly born baby–tentative, and you’re pretty sure you just welcomed Satan into your home. The white pillow cases are now tie-dye. Don’t sleep with your arm under your head, or you will find that you, too, are tie-dye. Towels will fail to be whatever color towels you bought. (You know the color of your towels? Fucking nerd.) This is The Struggle, and it is real.

4. Thou Shall Join A Cult

Hell yeah you will. Everyone with dyed hair is now your bro. Give them that white-person smile. They’ll totally understand why you’re looking so constipated when there isn’t even a bathroom behind them.

5. Thou Shalt Fight Thy Nature

And your nature will fight you. Within a week to a month of hair dye, the honeymoon phase has worn off. Now it’s all shared mortgage and tempting secretaries, baby. Your roots will begin to show. The bleached texture will start to shine through the layers of conditioner. Slowly but surely, dye shall fade in patches, revealing the horrendous pale yellow (or, even worse, your natural color) beneath. And also surely, you will fight back. Dye will be bought. Shades will not be matched, and your patience will fade like the color does. Eventually, you’ll realize it’s not worth it and wait a month before trying again, like Pixar coming up with original movie ideas.

Congratulations! Welcome to the hair dye club. On the bright side, you can now post as many bedhead selfies as you’d like–with colored hair, everything is ‘hipstery’ and ‘modern’ no matter how much drool is keeping it in place.

Kiss Me

I know it sounds hasty.
But baby, The idea
Of having your lips pressed to mine
Sends shivers down my spine.
If you feel the desire to push me against the wall.
You have my permission.
Just don’t let me fall.
Wrap me in your arms.
Steal my breath.
Kiss me until there is nothing left.
And if I accidentally dig my nails in your back too deep.
You’re going to have to forgive me.
It’ll be our secret to keep.
The moment I ache for.
When can I get you alone?
I’m hoping we’ll both have new marks to be shown.
Come closer to me than ever before.
I promise I will return the favor.
And if I tangle my hands through your hair.
Just know it’s because you have my heart ensnared.
When you feel the urge to trail your lips over my skin.
Don’t resist, darling.
I’m yours to binge.

-JC