Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Flash... The Surgeon

by Michael Seese

To whet your appetite for Halloween, here is a spook tale courtesy of Indies Unlimited. The photo prompt (it's a little hard to see) is a jack-'o-lantern. 


And here is "The Surgeon."

Shhhh!” I whispered. “Lie still, or he'll hear you.”

No need to say who he was. He was “The Surgeon.” The bogeyman that we as children talked about, and our parents tried to play down, for fear we would find out the truth.

That he is real.

The legends varied, though they contained common threads. Around this time every year, The Surgeon would come, searching for victims to whisk away to his operating theater, where he would…

Footsteps crunched through the leaves. I held my breath, terrified and blind beneath the moonless sky.




A-ha!” cackled the maniacal voice. “I've found you.”

I didn't feel the blade. But I heard it slice the air.

Help! Help me!” I screamed as he dragged me away. No one moved.

I must have passed out. When I awoke, bright lights warmed me. I felt good. For a moment. Then...


The knife cut into the top of my head. There was no pain. Just an uncomfortable tug as he began sawing. Up and down, around and around.

Then his hand dove in and began yanking out my insides.


They landed in a bucket below him.

Yum! Tasty,” he said.

What kind of sick animal is he? I wondered.

The knife then dug into my face. My eyes. My mouth.

I now had them. It ended when he stuck a lighted candle inside me.

Kids!” he called out. “All done. Let’s get it on the porch, and then roast some seeds.”

What scares you on Halloween?

And remember, vote HERE tomorrow (Wednesday) between 5:00 - 8:00 p.m. EST.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Flash! Friday: "Moonbeam"

by Michael Seese

At the risk of being immodest, I'm pretty darned happy with this week's Flash! Friday effort. Last week, you may recall, the photo prompt was two men playing chess. But the winning entry -- a VERY good story -- had nothing at all to do with chess, save for a reference to photos of grandmasters on the wall.

But I didn't even come close to thinking "That's cheating. He really didn't use the prompt." Instead, I saw it as an opportunity to use the photo truly as inspiration -- a launching point -- for a story. I made a conscious effort to do that this week.

So with that out of the way, this is the photo.


We also had to include "bankruptcy." Below is "Moonbeam."

Stop it!” I yelled. “You’re hurting Moonbeam!”

The soldiers ignored me. Papa stood still, like a statue. His face was red. He’s been looking like that a lot lately, ever since the soldiers came to live in our town. I don’t think Papa likes them. But I think they’re nice. I see them doing nice things, like helping people get to the trains.

Papa said der F├╝hrer is morally bankrupt. I had to look up that word. It means you have no money. Maybe that’s why he took our bakery.

My brothers and I used to play guns. Once the soldiers came, Papa told us to stop.

But what’s wrong with playing war?” I asked. “Nobody gets hurt.”

He patted my head. “Then perhaps they should put you in charge of all wars”

Ja,” said one of them. We can use the horse. We have no need for the children.”

That was the first time I heard Papa scream.

What do you think?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Castle: "Child's Play"

by Michael Seese

I don't have a lot to say about this episode. It wasn't my favorite. I give the writers an A for effort though. But overall, I was lukewarm to "Child's Play."

I think the main problem was that since Castle and Beckett had to divide and conquer, there wasn't as much "mind melding" going on.

Still, I did have a lot of little "loves."

- I loved the concept of potato chip fudge ice cream. (Which does exist, by the way.) 

- Also loved Beckett's face when Castle fed her some.

- I loved the way when the skeptical kids literally perked up when Castle said, "If you can tell a story, you can write a story."

- And, who couldn't love Castle and Emily's fairy tea party? 

I only wrote down two lines of note:

Castle: "Being 95% kid myself."

Castle: "Neat trick," said to Mrs. Ruiz when she said "Class," and they all sat down.

OK a few nitpicks...

- Castle was a surprise visitor to the school. So I'm hard pressed to imagine that Jason's father really talked about Richard Castle and that his books "suck."

- Likewise, I find it hard to believe that the clerk at the mailbox store actually memoried Anton's P.O. Box.

Oh well. Looking forward to next week.

Tell me what you thought about "Child's Play."

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Indies Unlimited: Fall Fire

by Michael Seese

Quick aside... so far my "October Insanity" is going swimmingly. Thank you for asking. As part of that effort, I'm getting contributing weekly (though hopefully not weakly) to three different flash fiction contests. If it's Monday (as I write this) it must be Indies Unlimited.

This week we had to work off a nice fall picture.

This is (the not so nice) "Fall Fire."

Damn those stupid municipal ordinances. Especially those that outlaw perfectly reasonable activities, like burning leaves.

“Fall foliage.” The words roll off the tongue so much more smoothly than “autumn arboriage.” Who among us does not maintain a little alcove in our special warm place for memories of fall, and all the crispy, colorful beauty associated with it?

As we get older, Christmas begins to lose its wondrous and magical appeal. But fall remains pure, unsullied by crass commercialism.

I grew up surrounded by acres of woodlands. So many Saturday mornings were devoted to the ritual of raking leaves. Collect them on a huge blue tarp. Drag it to the back of the lot. Repeat, until the yard was clean. Sprinkle a bit of gasoline. Ignite. And enjoy.

Year after year after year.

My father could have asked the landscapers to do it. But he wanted me to.

“It’s good exercise.”
“It builds character.”
“You have to work for everything in life.” (Even though he didn’t; he inherited his fortune from Grandpa.)

Yes, how ironic that my father believed you had to earn everything.

Even love.

That’s probably why Mom left him, and all that money, behind. I wasn’t willing to do that.

In some ways I miss those days. I suppose I'll miss my father some day, too.

Damn those stupid municipal ordinances. Especially those that outlaw perfectly reasonable activities, like burning leaves.

It sure will take a long time to dispose of a body in the fireplace.

Happy raking!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Castle: "Clear & Present Danger"

by Michael Seese

Last week I proclaimed Castle to be back. This week, the humor returned. "Clear & Present Danger" represented a return to the Scooby-gang mysteries which I personally find to be so much fun. 

For reference, see "Undead Again" or "Secret Santa." Like those episodes, Castle posits an improbable theory which Beckett refutes. Of course, once she has some "hands-on" experience with the Invisible Man, she changes her tune a bit.

(Picky aside: I can appreciate that being choked by an invisible entity would freak her out. Still, she's a cop. She's trained to kick, punch, whatever it takes to get out of a chokehold.)

And this week we had not one, but two characters say the victim had been acting strangely.

"Recently, he started hanging out in Brooklyn," according to Fats Shepherd, the owner / manager / player at Chelsea Billards.

"Will started acting paranoid last week," said Donna Brooks.

Hmmm. Wonder why?

As expected, lots of funny lines.

Beckett: "Anyway, back to the real world." (After Castle's gaming conversation with Henry Wright.)

Beckett: "That's not creepy. That's probable cause."

Beckett: "The only place we're going to find the devil is in the details."

Castle: "You collapsed the foam."

Castle: "And you thought zombie apocalypse survival training campe was a waste of time."
Beckett: "You just kind of made nerdy sexy."

"Henry: "We both realized I had become Frodo.

"Castle: "I missed our mind melds."

And this week, not so much "looks" as good physical humor. Of note:

- Castle leaning for support against the cop guarding the crime scene.
- Castle's air karate moves after their encounter with the Invisble Man.

What did you think of "Clear & Present Danger?"

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Flash! Friday "Checkmate"

by Michael Seese

Another Friday, another Flash! Friday. Writing is a funny thing. I thought my entry for last week was pretty strong. And yet, it didn't even receive a mention. I point this out not in a whiny sense; I'm always just amazed at how much variation there is among readers' personal tastes.

Let's hope I fair better this week.

This week, this was the magic photo:


And this is "Checkmate."

Have you contemplated how proof of extraterrestrial life would impact Christianity?” he said, felling a bishop with his pawn.

They’d been playing this game so long, he knew the next move. The next hundred, in fact.

Faith, like all living organisms, adapts,” the old man replied, countering with a knight.

He also knew which buttons to push.

That sounds suspiciously like, dare I say, evolution.”

You choose your words. I’ll choose mine.”

But the elder’s confident voice betrayed a slight catch. He knew the game was drawing to a close. Even so, he could not resign. Too much was at stake.

And what of Jesus Christ? Admission to heaven requires belief in Him. Are we to assume He lived, preached on countless other worlds?”

Enough!” the old man snapped, sweeping an arm across the board. The pieces scattered, then one by one returned to their respective, necessary places. Science looked at his age-old adversary Religion, and smiled. Knowingly.


Feel free to comment on "Checkmate."

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Castle: Montreal

by Michael Seese

Sorry for the late post; our TV was out of commission last week. But I FIXED IT! Enough boasting.

Richard Castle is back, and I don't mean only from Canada. (The birthplace of Nathan Fillion, in case you didn't know.) No, he's back from his two-month mystery hiatus, back to solving crimes, and back to himself, now that he has a partial explanation of what happened. (Or does he... Personally, I think my theory still is in the running.)

As you might suspect from the previous paragraph, SPOILERS will be everywhere. Proceed at your own risk.

I thought "Montreal"was a pretty good episode. The mystery behind the murder seemed to get stranger and stranger as it went on. But I found the resolution to be plausible, as was the explanation as to why the victim could not go to the police.

(Oh, and true to Castle form, the victim's wife noted that "these last few weeks he had been having a hard time.")

Meanwhile, Castle was freelancing, trying to solve his own crime.

In fact, I thought the "split" near the end -- two minutes of Beckett and the boys on the case, two minutes of Castle in Canada -- was very effective.

And lots of humor. Some great lines:

Castle: "To find a needle in a haystack, do we not first need a haystack?"

Castle: "A tactical smooch is just one weapon in my arsenal."

Quick aside: That "tactical smooch" was out of character and, IMHO, one sign that my theory may be right.

Castle: "You picked up a man at grief counseling?"

Castle: "Tell me again how you got my phone number."
Crazy Guy: "I work for the phone company."
Castle: "Of course you do."

Castle: "Natalie went all Glenn Close on him."

Castle: "Need I remind you I'm a grown man. I don't need to ask your permission. That being said, please, please, please can I go?"

And the looks...

Captain Gate's complete surprise at the "tactical smooch."

And was it just me, or did the bank manager seem a little guilty when Castle asked, "Do I look familiar?"

Funny aside: When Beckett confronted the warehouse manager, "Mac," he bolted. In real life, would someone who (ostensibly) is not a career criminal do that? I mean, the cops know who you are, and probably where you live. Unless you have cash in the Cayman Islands, and a suitcase with your passport in your car, really, do you think you're going to get away?

Picky aside: I thought it strange that when castle returned to Montreal alone, and entered the (apparently) abandoned building where he recorded the goodbye messages, the faux Henry Jenkins just happened to be there waiting for him. That guy needs a life. Of his own, that is. I'm just sayin'.

With any luck, we'll get to "Clear & Present Danger" (which looks hilarious, BTW) tonight or tomorrow.

Let's hear your thoughts on "Montreal."