Saturday, May 18, 2019

It's Alive!

by Michael Seese

From Twitter last week:

I don't know much about Bakka-Phoenix books, other than they are "Canada's oldest Speculative Fiction bookstore, founded in 1972."

But they are now my second favorite book store, behind the Fireside

So The Extraordinary eTab Of Julian Newcomber is now officially for sale in Canada. The U.S. release date is early June.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Janet Flash: Cleanup On Aisle 3

by Michael Seese

Trying to accentuate the positive, I suppose...

Friday, Janet Reid lamented a pending public works project.

My normal subway is the L.
The L goes under the East River.
The tunnels were damaged during Hurricane Sandy.

Now they're going to fix them.
And that leaves 300,000 people in a fix.
Cause how the HELL are we going to get to work?

Looking for a silver lining, she turned it to a positive, with one of her flash fiction contest. Write 100 words using:


I wanted to find a good way to break up sandy into something fun. That led me to "Cleanup On Aisle 3."

As a child, Tony the Tiger scared the hell out of me. Ferocious beasts should snarl, not wax poetic about glorified Corn Flakes. And don't get me started on Cap'n Crunch, whose eyebrows weren't affixed to his head, but rather, hovered mysteriously in front of his hat. But I dealt with it.

Until that bird ogled me with its googly toucan eyes.

I snapped.

Grabbing my official Red Ryder air rifle, I took aim and Pollocked the kitchen walls with its flavor-bursting reds, oranges, and yellows.

Thus began my runaway train ride into the dark tunnel known as cereal killing.

Yes, it's the word bad joke, ever. But I thought it might brighten her day.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Janet Flash: "Pearls"

by Michael Seese

So I was busy, or lazy, or something and didn't get a chance to post this a few weeks back...

Earlier this month, Janet Reid blog regular Julie Wearhers posted:

I dreamed about Janet last night. It involved sending her a strange, but awesome gift. And now she gives us a strange, but awesome, gift.


"You did what?" Virginia gasped. If she'd had pearls, she would have been clutching them."

 Janet loved the "pearl" sentence so much, she built a contest around it. Contrary to the use-these-five-words format, she asked us to write story around the gist of the line. I came up with "Pearls."

“Always marry for love. But it's just as easy to love a rich fella.”

Young me clutched Mama's pearls of wisdom like a drowning rat clinging to a chunk of driftwood.

Mama sure played that matrimonial maxim into a winning hand, trolling the casinos, all tits and eyelashes. Poor Henry. Never knew what hit him.

I do.

Ball-peen hammer.

At least she considered me worthy of living in “her” house.

Another Mama maxim comes to mind.

“If you can't beat ’em, join ’em.”

I'm going to miss Mama.

But this string of pearls sure goes with her favorite blue dress.

It didn't win. But it did get a shout out:

It says absolutely nothing good about me that I laughed out loud with this from Michael Seese
Poor Henry. Never knew what hit him.
I do.
Ball-peen hammer.

And she posted a new contest yesterday, so expect to see something here tomorrow.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Janet Flash: Tilted **

by Michael Seese

Another week, another contest.

After two unsuccessful attempts to foil the brilliant Steve Forti, Janet is crying uncle, throwing in the towel, going belly up, and giving us a "normal" contest, the "slightly uneven, off kilter, write your way back to normal flash fiction contest."

She challenged us to use:


in a 100-word story. Wishing to do something fun with "kilter," I came up with Tilted**

“Hey, MacLeod! Your balls are showing. You ought to get a better slip.”


Kilters always hate it when you insult their tartans. 

Sure, my trolling bordered on juvenile. But I needed him off his game. Rumor had it a buyer was coming. 

Then she walked in. I nearly flipped. A definite A-lister.

“Nice,” she cooed, touching me, pressing all the right buttons, ringing my bells. “Very clean. I'll...”

She saw him and lit up. Like we did, once.

“Funhouse may be a classic. But Highlander was my favorite. I spent hours playing it. Sold.”

Story of my life.



** the reason I added asterisks is, much like last week, all too late I realized I goofed. Last week was a missing dash, which she forgave me (and others) for. This week, I didn't quite nail the ending. The now all-too-obvious last line should have been "Tilted again," a play on "Jilted Again."


We'll see what happens tomorrow.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Janet Flash: Day One

by Michael Seese

If you were here last week, you read that Janet Reid crafted a contest specifically to foil her word-play nemesis, Steve Forti. His entry, clearly, shot her out of the sky. So what did she do this week?

After being summarily vanquished last week, you'd think I'd retire from the field.

But NO!

So we were tasked with putting the following words:

get-go **

into a 100-word piece.

I really wanted to come up with something that played with the words like a previous one I wrote, "Against The Lawn." But an opening line I could not resist entered my head, and "Day One" fell out of my fingers.

The GetGo 99-cent breakfast burrito trampolining in my gut threatened to pogo back up to the pavement. The super-sized slug of vodka fortifying the Slush Puppie didn't help. I trudged onward, officeward, my wake reeking of regret. Inexplicably, my shoes had gained a few pounds since last night. Beneath them, the sidewalk sighed, saddled with the weight of my world.

I arrived to find the switchboard lit up like the heavens, and pushed the button blinking the loudest. A shaky voice beseeched.

“Hello? God?”

A far gone conclusion. My first day on the job would be less than divine.

As my friend Bill used to say, "Don't stand too near me. He might just send one lightning bolt to get both of us."

** We'll have to see how it goes, as after I had copied the word list, she added  "Yes, you need the hyphen."

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Janet Flash: The Battle

by Michael Seese

If you regularly visit Janet Reid's blog during a flash fiction contest, you may have caught onto a subtle undercurrent. One the the "Reiders," Steve Forti, delights in taking the key words and spreading them out across the most unusual combinations. As Janet said this week.

He is my nemesis.
He has more lives than a litter of kittens.
He is Roadrunner

In her quest to cry "Havoc!" and let loose the dogs of war, she came up with the "The Stymie Steve Forti Flash Fiction Contest." Use


in a 100-word short story. I thought about how to split up (Forti-ize??) "havoc," and came up with "Ha! Vocational school?" I did write a nice little piece based on that, a story of a ten-year-reunion conversation gone south. But I couldn't get a few of the words in easily. Then I remembered a story I'd outlined a few months back, one using war imagery. That became "The Battle."

If you're like me — if dieting is more than a hobby, an amateurish avocation — you'll understand.

Pain equals success.

Each pang, each ignored cry from my empty belly, each gut-wrenching twist of my viscera represents one step closer to the end game.

Pants that feel loose.

It's a constant battle. A war. And the enemy is my own body.

The mirror wants to please me, as I look at myself through a beaten dog's sunken eyes.

They say beauty is skin deep. My beauty is in there.



But I will find it.

Even if it kills me

Dieting sucks, doesn't it? (Speaking as someone who lost 30 pounds last year.)

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Janet Flash: Unlatched

by Michael Seese

Janet Reid, like many of us in the US, has been hunkered down during winter's wild ride of late. Or, as she commented, "I was ensconced with Her Grace the Duchess of Yowl for three weeks, and then with Intern Ty for this past week."

You need to frequent her blog to fully understand the cast of characters.

In honor of Ty, this week's contest had a decidedly feline theme. Use:


in a 100-word story. 

Since I didn't want to use "hork" as is, I immediately sought to break it up. My first thought (which I wound up using) as "latch or key." But I also considered "crotch or knee," which would have worked for some kind of street fight story. But sticking with the former, I came up with "Unlatched."

His lips moved. But the words bounced off my eardrums.

My head had room only for silence, undercut by the gentle “purr” of the adjacent freeway. Transfixed by the hypnotic drone of countless steel carcasses, piloted by empty souls who snore through the commute as they catapult toward drudgery, I could imagine the allure it held for a child.

His final question clawed me back to the here and now.

“Sorry?” I mumbled. On several levels.

“The question was, latch or key? How was the gate secured?”

“Key,” I lied, squeezing my wife's hand. I couldn't bear losing her too.

What have you done during the polar vortex of late?