WEP April 2021 contest piece

I’m not exactly sure what inspired my piece for this month’s WEP contest. However, given the chosen picture early WWII inception date I figured the theme of war was a natural starting point. Which of course led to multitude of questions but, two floated to the top of this pool of curiosity. The first being, ‘What event would cause a conflict on a global scale?’. Leaving the other inquiry to be, ‘How could I take this unknown event and take it to an irrational extreme, that forces things to take a downward spiral?’.

By answering those questions, I started drafting what would end up becoming this piece’s conclusion. Then I began to work backwards to craft a plausible starting point. Which led to inadvertent dash of social commentary on modern globalization and the dangers of instant gratification. Along with showing the strength and value of community. Intertwining that quartet of ideas to craft a rather grim and often blunt take on the inherent hubris of humanity. I humbly present, “The Fall and Rise of Hope.”

I was born into a world struggling for life support. A planet made fragile from the inherent hubris of humans. Yet, not all humanity contained such a potent pride but a select few poisoned by greedy corporations and capitalist agendas. The goverment was transformed long ago into a morally bankrupt machine. A machine where the average person’s value steadily declined until those in power became transfixed by money. However, that obsession with greed caused them to overlook an increasing threat to all the ultrarich held dear. A danger brought about enslaving people to the simple but addictive nature of instant gratification. Unfortunately, that dependence quickly spiraled to a point where everything necessary to live became scarce. People began to hoard anything and everything they could, frequently trading with their neighbors to maintain a stout community.

That stability was considerably more fragile than it appeared from the outside. After six months of unease within the community, growing tensions forced its collective resolve to shatter. It was tearing families apart as survival became a fight for desperation. The growing anguish brought about the death of hope and the rapid expansion of fear. That distress quickly expanded over the world. It disregarded ethnicity, geography, or wealth while the struggle for resources intensified. That growing challenge hit a point where countries argued over matters beyond their control until a global war was no longer an idle threat. Following a complete disbarring of the UN, any chance of avoiding the danger of a vast conflict died. That left mighty nations to gather limited resources at their disposal to prepare for a return to economic isolation and the increased chance of full-scale planetary war. The wealthy elite attempted to build bridges back to a more united global. They possessed more resources than the average person and the network to apply them everywhere they wished.

Despite having noble intentions, the ultrarich only delayed the inevitable first strike. Missiles flew across the sky within a month of the UN negations failed, tearing the world asunder. The country responsible for the barrage of rockets is a trivial matter compared to the aftermath they unleashed. Once the artillery landed, the unstable powder keg of global tensions decimated any chance the world had at obtaining peace. In only one brief instance, reconciliation died in a fiery blaze. That flame plunged Earth into a terrifying new era of chaos, destruction, and violence, the likes of which humanity hasn’t seen since the second world war.


After decades of an endless violent war that nearly decimated the planet, leaving a few million people left alive on the ruined surface. Now that the threat of humanity’s extinction weighs heavily on everyone’s minds. It forced the warmongers to drop their armaments and attempt to start discussing peace for the human race’s salvation. For the first time in my memory, hope’s seeds begin to outgrow the fields of terror that have been rooted in my heart since I was a child. Will the temporary ceasefire bring about the dawn of a new age, free of rapid death and destruction? Can humanity endure much longer if this chain of violence remains intact?

Critique: Comment Only Word count: 525

WEP October 2020 entry piece

With the unexpectedly positive reception for my previous entries, and the cliff hanger I ended the second piece I knew I had to conclude the historical fiction narrative. Yet, given the “Grave Mistakes,” theme I realized that it was oddly fitting to create epilogues for both interconnected stories. Even though I had to break the word limit to do so. Along with showcasing the transition that the main character undergoes while pursuing this predatory species, that I hinted at in the second piece. Expanding upon that idea in this entry by forcing him to make a decision on who he wants to be.

First piece: Man or Monster?

Second piece: A Royal Request

For those who desire a refresher, or are new to the WEP contest my early entries can be found at the links above. Without any further ado, I present, The Price of Home and Humanity.

The Price of Home and Humanity

Here I sit waiting, in her majesty’s private court. Gas fueled lanterns cast out a dim light through planes of uncleaned glass. Assisting these brass lights from above was an iron chandelier. Each candle mounted within the metal was ablaze, bolstering the restricted glow the lanterns provided. Yet, there was enough illumination to give a limited perspective of this chamber. My hands and feet clamped in irons that were secured to an uncomfortable metal chair. Constable Redding had possessed many roles for this evening, but he was my lone guard for the moment. Both of us averting the others’ gaze, for we were not friends, nor were we enemies.

The gas-powered lamps flickered between light and darkness for several extensive moments. An unseen door creaked open from somewhere within the confines of this stone chamber. Strolling out of this entrance was at least three people, judging from the uneven pattern of footsteps. I suspected this unidentified trio was present to act as a makeshift court for my actions.

The lights had ceased their blinking, mere moments after the sound of footfalls flattened. Standing near the front of the chamber was the queen and two figures, whose’ faces were obscured by a black facial shroud. Both masked persons were covered in formal military garb, complete with decorative medals pinned to their torsos.

Queen Victoria commented, “My people are fleeing the streets in terror, screaming out for the blood of Jack the Ripper. Yet, your atrocious crimes served a purpose that spared England from an even worse, unimaginable nightmare. While Constable Redding relyed a condensed version of those events, it is exceedingly apparent the critical role you played that evening. Having a public execution would muffle their outcry, but I fear what your death may unleash on this world if these demons reappear. Others’ may argue that sparing your life is an erroneous mistake. Fortunately, the decision is not in their hands. By my right as queen, I exile you from these lands and any colonies held by imperial rule, Walter Craigmore. “

Once again, I return to her majesty’s palace with Constable Redding as my company. Unlike my previous visit, my hands and feet were not clad in heavy, uncomfortable irons. Yet, that weight was replaced by an internal sense of guilt that we had failed to completely decimate the unborn. If we had missed even one egg, our collective efforts would be for naught. Our focus was concentrated on the adult stage rather than the embryonic state as we rushed to eliminate the predatory species. Hopefully, that arrogance will not prove itself to be a lethal mistake.

The constable and I were escorted into the queen’s court. Light poured through the stained-glass windows. Each window depicted various iconic events of English history through a cornucopia of colors that tainted the sunlight’s hue. Queen Victoria sat on the throne, waiting for our arrival. Standing around her majesty was her a battalion of royal guards, clothed in bright red uniforms and black bearskin hats. Each protector ready to act if necessary, as sabar clad in an ebony sheath rested at their left hip. A holstered revolver sat on the opposite hip. Magistrates and nobles were stationed around the room, all watching us in solemn silence. This was not the celebratory welcoming I believed would be waiting for us.

Queen Victoria inquired, “I was informed that eggs of this unknown species were found during the exploration of these monsters’ nest. Were they destroyed in the underground explosion as well, gentlemen?”

I replied, “Possibly, your majesty. There remains a vacancy of knowledge regarding the lifecycles of these predatory creatures. The startling presence of eggs provides a testament to that.”

Constable Redding commented, “The initial explosives used to cripple any access to the nest should have wounded anything inside. However, given the additional Orsini bombs you provided to us, anything that would attempt to enter or escape will be eliminated. I hope that after a few weeks, these sensitive weapons can be removed from underneath the streets of England.”

Queen Victoria remarked, “That is not sufficient, gentlemen, the threat posed by these abominations must render the species extinct. Any supplies required to do so will be given. Until you possess absolute certainty that the eggs are destroyed, you are not permitted to return here.”

Constable Redding and I exchanged a wary glance before reluctantly departing the palace. Neither one us eager return to the underground nest, as her majesty demands.

It took us about eight days to return to the ruins of this creatures’ hive. Following three days of nearly continuous digging with assistance from others present in the lair’s initial penetration, we were close to opening the nest from above. Using spades to remove the last mixture of dirt and rock sheltering the hive from the human eye. Being vigilant to muffle our actions from anything that could be listening below. With the ground cleared in multiple places, we could begin digging through the final layer using augers. The modified farmer’s auger should create an opening wide enough to get us a glimpse inside the monsters’ charred nest.

It took a few hours before four cavities were bored out of the earth. With the augers moved aside, our strange company peered into the underground. The shadowy nature of the underground prevented us from discovering anything without an illuminating aid. Forced by the limitations of the human eye, we deposited slow-burning red flares into the crevice. Watching in tension as the attached small balloon slowed the downward descent. As the light lowered, the carnage of our past actions was prevalent, bathing in the reddish light. Corpses blackened by flame and torn asunder from the explosive force littered the cavern. The eggs did not appear to be spared from these forces. If that was true of most eggs, I could not tell, but I hoped it was indeed. For even one intact pod could unleash a nightmare upon England and prove the grievous nature of my own unwitting mistake.

Constable Redding inquired, “Does the light dispel enough of the darkness to reveal if the eggs remain viable or, must we deposit additional incendiary devices beneath our feet?”

I replied, “The later I fear,” stepping back some. “Adjust the timers attached to the combustible devices carefully. Early detonation could prove to be disastrous,” aware that my return home hinged on making this predator extinct. Yet, I had to wonder, did my hand in this action cost me something grander than my native land, my soul? Is that a price I would pay upon my deathbed?

Critique level: Full Word count: 1100

WEP August 2020 Contest Entry

Given the unexpected positive reception from my July piece for the WEP contest, I realized the “Long Shadows” theme would fit a follow-up piece of flash fiction. If you did not read my previous entry it can be found here. I continued to employ and explore the narrow line that separates man from monster in this sequel piece. Compounding on that principal, by challenging the necessity of violence when it comes to the greater good. While I had to shorten some aspects of the narrative to get within the 1,000 word limit, I feel that it still gives the reader some degree of closure. I humbly present, A Royal Request.


Five years have passed since my imposed exile began, following the vanquishing of the real monster that was terrorizing England’s streets. With reluctance, I come home, at the behest of a cryptic letter sent by her majesty. Trying to avoid any unwarranted attention, I walked upon familiar roads. The streetlights cast about elongated, distorted shadows of the few people I passed, who stood in the alley by the necessity to survive. Occasionally, I saw twisted, glistening phantoms of those who had fallen victim to the predator I became, to eliminate an even worse monster. I made a hastened decision to seek the shelter of a nearby tavern, somewhat annoyed that one of the queen’s many emissaries had yet to greet me.

Navigating my way through the crowd of mumbling drunks, and tired workers, seeking a once familiar balcony. I became somewhat dumbstruck when I discovered a stranger resided in my preferred seat. It would be a trivial task to eliminate this unknown personage, but it would likely summon about unwanted attention.

Taking the seat to the stranger’s left, I remarked, “I fear you have procured my chair, stranger. A most unwise decision that I would suggest you alter in haste for even my gentlemanly demeanor has limits.”

This unnamed person commented, “Then I would suggest you keep your blades under control. For killing me would be an erroneous decision,” his voice possessed an air of familiarity to its tone. “After all, you would not be amongst the living if not for my actions.”

I inquired, “Cheif Constable Redding?”

The man responded, “I did carry that particular title years ago, but how the times have changed since those bygone days. About six months ago, a monstrously brutal slaughter shattered the calm that controlled the streets. Twenty-four people had their lives torn asunder that night in a manner that defies any rational explanation. There have been almost a hundred additional horrific deaths since that particular evening. The queen is extending to you a unique opportunity to serve your native land. If you can help eliminate the source of these gruesome deaths, you will be allowed to return home permanently fully pardoned.”

I remarked, “That does explain the cryptic text of her majesty’s letter. Fear is a potent motivator for everyone, regardless of class or birth. However, the quantities of victims hint at a good-sized nest lurking underneath England’s roads. In the process of revitalizing England into a modern country, someone could have accidentally broken the slumber of these unknown monsters. If I could get access to the cadavers, and examine them privately, determining the culprit is possible.”

Constable Redding commented, “That shouldn’t be a problem, since you will have access to any resources necessary to exterminate the source of these deaths. Your examination of the corpses should be performed with haste, for the shadows of the evening are growing short,” standing up from his chair and walking away. My choice forcibly made to follow the lawman’s lead.

After examining multiple cadavers, and the accompanying information the police had previously gathered, I was reluctant to disclose what may responsible for the heinous acts. If my educated guess was accurate, my actions only dealt with one of the abominations that awakened prematurely five years ago. Which meant I now felt a metaphorical hangman’s noose of guilt coiled upon my neck. The truth of my failure must remain hidden from the world, for I have become wary of traveling the globe.

It took six weeks of precisely made underground explosions to eliminate the smaller nests that resided in the outlying areas of England. A tactical decision that forced any surviving monsters to flee to the large hive underneath the streets of Whitechapel. There rest an inherent cost for those acts, but the consensus was that the greater good outweighed the few lost. Despite the increased quantity of monsters in the localized area, men of the empire had ensured that retreat for the creatures was an impossibility.

With only a singular point of access remaining, we descended into the bowels of Whitechapel. The shadows were protruding from the multiple lanterns we carried, twisting our shadows into menacing inhuman shapes. Yet, it seemed the divines smiled upon us, allowing each member of this party to maintain their composure. Each one of us tense, but filled with a faithful certainty that our actions tonight were necessary.

It didn’t take long for us to find the massive underground nest. Somehow the creatures had excavated a cavernous area underneath the city without attracting notice from the people above. The terrifying creatures were circling their encampment, protecting something beyond the lantern’s flame. Based on the remains discovered in the vacant nest, I inferred the abominations were likely protecting the unusual eggs they bore to reproduce. The natural, vile, aroma of the sewers masking our presence. If we could remain hidden, this plan may merit success. Spreading out, in teams of four, we began to deposit explosives on the ground above the hive. Trying to maintain our collective anonymity unless our shadowed-hand was detected, to ensure we departed the tunnels with our lives intact.

Our good luck remained strong until we recollected as a group. With the explosives in place, the retreat could begin. All of us aware that we had fifteen minutes to depart the tunnels before the timers reached zero. , Unleashing a torrent of stone, metal, and fire upon the unknown lethal predator that posed a considerable danger to the citizenry of England.

The underground explosion forced the streets to tremble underfoot, releasing billowing smoke erupted from every nearby tunnel cover. With firearms at the ready, we watched the sewer entrances waiting to eliminate any fleeing stranglers.

Following several ridiculously prolonged moments of uneasy tense silence, I began to suspect the plan merited success. The bomb was successful in decimating the creatures and their eggs, meaning I could finally return home unburdened by the weight of my past.

Word Count: 992 Critique level: Full

June 2020 WEP Contest piece

With the Urban Nightmare chosen for June’s Write…Edit…Publish…challenge, I had a few different ideas. Before realizing I could alter the un-submitted piece from February’s challenge, to fit the current theme. Deriving inspiration out of fiction and reality alike. Employing a fictional version of a notorious late 19th century serial killer, Jack the Ripper. Combining that with elements of Gothic fiction, and a hodge-podge mix of mythology to craft a monster that stalks the cobblestone streets and alleys of Whitechapel. Inadvertently giving rise an age old question, which inspired the title for this entry. I humbly present, Man or Monster?


The sudden creak of the door behind being pushed open revealed my guest had surprisingly agreed to this unusual evening meeting. In silence, I waited for him to take the seat to my left. While I waited, I took advantage of the opportunity to pour two glasses of whiskey from a nearby bottle. I let him seize one of the pewter glasses, allowing him a moment to gather the doubts and questions that filled his mind since my letter was delivered.

Watching him swallow some liquor before commenting, “I most admit your letter gave me a start if your claim of identity isn’t a falsehood. Your chosen spot for this meeting is a strange, perplexing, curiosity.”

I remarked, “You speak true, on both accounts, Cheif Constable Redding. I am indeed the man the newspapers have dubbed Jack the Ripper. Yet, I would not be so quick to summon your fellow officers that lurk inside this bordello,” taking a moment to alter my mask to partake a subtle sip of this spirituous liquid. “I have studied your history enough to know that you pursue the truth, even if that answer is impossible. That inquisitive nature has bequeathed you a peculiar air, given your impressive rank. I press upon a startling revelation that those I have butchered carry a deadly gift besides possessing potent feminine charms and striking beauty. A troublesome and dangerous gift that burdens them with an insatiable lust for blood.”

Constable Redding commented, “The mortician did find some abnormalities that were left undocumented. Despite the focus the papers have on your murders, there have been additional deaths of an even more unusual nature. Oddly enough, they have decreased some since the demise of Mary Nichlos. Supposes I believe that your killings have some unforeseen benefits to the citizenry at large, proving that to others would be troublesome, neigh impossible affair. I should place you in shackles, to ensure that the murders of alley girls cease. Yet, I will grant you one to chance to offer proof of something paranormal stalking the cobblestone streets.”

I had to repress a manic grin at the constable’s expected response. “Then let us meet again at the catacombs of St. Mary’s church just before sunset,” emptying my cup and placing it beside the bottle. “I would suggest you come prepared with the blade you carried in your youth while serving the empire. What the two of us will hunt is an entity born without mercy. Till then, Constable Redding,” parting myself from the lawmen’s company, to finish the necessary preparations.


Dusk had barely past over this sacred place by the time Constable Redding arrived alone. The pale glow was emitting from a lantern casting out a soft orange hue, revealing the handle of a sheathed saber at his left hip. Suppressing a smile, I lit a second lantern with a swift strike of a matchhead. I placed the aflame torch on a weathered tombstone to reveal an almost undetectable trail of dried blood speckled amongst the dirt and stone. The stone path leads to a broad set of doors decorated with religious symbols, rust, and additional dried blood. A pungent stench of decay and ammonia poured out from within the narrow crack between the two doors. Using my right hand, I adjusted my temporary facial covering to mask the rancid odor.

I commented, “You’re auspiciously late constable. However, fortune smiles upon us as this monstrosity remains inside its crypt,” hearing a sudden, short, inhuman growl fill the air. “Prepare yourself without delay. It has awakened,” quickly unsheathing the pair of kukris resting at my hips.

Observing something burst forth from inside, nearly removing the doors from their hinges. This entity refused to spare me a glance, charging immediately at the constable. By divine grace, the lawman managed to raise his blade to parry the creatures menacing black talons. I took advantage of the monster’s distraction to sprint forward. Observing how fluidly this abomination moved, it’s pale skin somehow reflecting the moonlight. Close enough to strike at the creature, I sliced horizontally at the demon’s left thigh. In response, it howled out, ignoring the viscous black substance that was flowing down its leg. Constable Redding took swift advantage of its exposed chest, cutting a large, horizontal wound across its lower abdomen. The monster swatted the lawmen with the back of its left hand, forcing him off his feet. The beast altered its focus to me and began to stare at with hollow, burning red eyes. It was opening its jaw to reveal two rows of sharpened teeth before running towards me. Somehow oblivious of the blackened blood escaping the large wound on his chest. Bracing to defend myself, I raised my curved daggers, hoping my crusade would not end here.

Suddenly a deafening cracking sound brought the creature to a complete stop. Only then did I smell the distinctive odor of gunpowder hanging in the air. The loud noise repeated itself in quick succession, enhancing the scent of powder that clung to the atmosphere. I approached the creature keeping an attentive gaze for any sudden moves, taking note of the three circular wounds on the creature’s left breast. One, or perhaps all of the bullets must have pierced the monster’s heart. In its final moment, the beast released a thunderous roar, before falling to the ground.

Stepping around the fallen demon, I walked towards the constable. Taking immediate notice of the smoking revolver clutched in both hands.

Constable Redding asked, “Is that paranormal monstrosity the end of the strange deaths, and your killings?”

I replied, “Perhaps lawmen. Have the mortician burn the body, before rumors of its appearance can spread further. Only time will tell if this nightmare is truly over, or if its the beginning of something far more horrifying,” departing the constable’s company. Hoping that this was indeed the end, for I have more than quenched my thirst for death.

Word Count: 987 Critique level: Full

WEP April 2020 Challenge

Reluctantly I missed the February, as a result of having considerable sinus problems. Fulfilling a promise I made to myself to return for the April challenge. Having some initial trouble with “Antique Vase” theme, before realizing I was over-complicating the idea. Realizing I could use the vase idea as an element of the narrative, and build a story around how it could be used. Coming up with a few different ideas before settling with the tale below. A tale I call, “A Rite of Rebirth.”

Writer’s note: A golok is a type of machete used on tropical islands in the Indian Ocean.

On a moonless, humid evening, I peered into the ancestral grove of my family. Purple, oval petaled moon-flowers blossomed on moss-covered rocks. A shallow structure of stone and plant held in place three linked pits of collected rain-water. Even the stars refused to bloom in the overhead sky. I hoped that was not an unfortunate omen that would shadow over the rite I had to perform tonight, on the eve of my sixteenth year. Only on that particular evening could this powerful ritual of rebirth and cleansing be performed.

Using my family’s ceremonial golok, I pushed aside a series of broad, ovular leaves. I left the ancient metal blade in place while taking my first step onto the sacred ground. Hearing the leaves return to their position, the moment I relocated the golok to my side. A strange mixture of fear and excitement rushed through my body. Taking another step towards the pits of water, I began to feel an unexpected warmth at the center of my back. The heat somehow being focused around an old clay vase, I had strapped to my back. Removing the ancient urn from my shoulders with the utmost care, I began to prepare every facet of myself to undergo this transformative ritual.

I allowed several moments to pass by, before stepping into the first pit of blessed water. The liquid began to ripple outward at the unwelcome presence of my feet. To my astonishment, the water retained a sense of warmth that defied anything I believed possible without a living flame resting underneath it. Listening to the natural symphony of jungle bugs, I placed my family’s urn inside the water. The clay was softening while the liquid flowed into the vase’s interior.

Patiently, I let it fill approximately half-way, before lifting it out of the water. The music of the jungle falling silent, being replaced by an eerie barrage of distorted whispers. Struggling to ignore the voices, I lifted the antique vessel over my head. Confident I could maintain the urn’s position, I began to tilt the vase. The contents were slowly trickling down my face and proceeding across the rest of my being. My meager garments absorbing a small amount of the water, yet a chill didn’t rush over my body. Nor did my strength falter in the lengthy process of emptying my family’s ancient urn. Returning the jar to my side, I entered the next deposit of sacred water. A tremor rushed up the entirety of my body, the moment my foot hit the collected water. The sensation was something I struggled to understand what changed the water from the first pit to the second. Aware that I wouldn’t be welcomed back to my village without completing the ritual, I persevered.

Balancing out my standing position before, I began to refill the old clay pot. Fearing being banished from my home, I let the cold water rush between my fingers, forcing my fingers to tighten their grip on jar’s weathered smooth surface. The tremors continued to push themselves forcibly through my body; to a point, it almost shattered my concentration and my family’s sacred vase. Hoping I had collected enough of the holy water, I carefully and slowly lifted the container. Feeling my fingers begin to loosen up, the very moment I removed from the liquid. I began to take a few deep breaths, believing it would steady my body long enough to empty the jar. I could feel my nerves strengthen, and the eerie shakes leave my body. More than eager to begin the third and final part of the ritual, I spilled the vase’s contents over my body. The water clung to my skin and garments, forcing my hair to blind my eyes temporarily.

With my clothes and skin now cleansed by the blessed liquid, I stepped into the last deposit of collected water. Howling-out in surprise, at the water’s scorching warmth. Any remaining shakes, vanished instantly, being replaced by heat more potent than the sun itself. Aware of how my damp fingers stuck to the vase, I dipped them cautiously inside the sacred fluid. I had to fight back an urge to scream out in pain, as the blessed water entered the jar’s interior. The heat of the liquid, pushing itself outward through the vase’s surface, almost burning the tips of my fingers. Believing I could not endure this pain much longer, I began to elevate the jar over my head. My muscles were screaming out, inside my head, making every movement agony. Confident, the tepid vase was resting over my head, beginning to empty it over my person. I managed to withstand the blistering heat long enough to drain the holy water over my being. The sacred liquids were blending with the remains of the previous two pools and enveloping my entire being in an unexplainable embrace. A penetrative sensation that burned through my clothes and skin until it reached the depths of my soul.

Only then did I observe a single speck of intense ethereal blue figure inside my mind. In a disjointed but collective whisper, it said, “Your rebirth is complete my child. Return to my people, son,” the lone spot of disappearing immediately afterward.

Stepping out from the sacred pools, I began to strap my family’s ancient jar to my back once more. Leaving the holy grove behind, feeling I had left my youth behind and was returning home a man born anew.

Word Count: 908 Critique level: Comment Only

WEP December 2019 “Footprints” challenge piece

The “footprints” theme for this challenge proved more difficult than I originally thought it would be. Initially, I considered writing a narrative focused on the pursuit of a dangerous monster into the ancient woods it calls home. Telling the tale from the perspective of hunter, as he tracks the creature using the impressions left behind in the snow. Which after I wrote the introduction paragraphs, I realized that it wasn’t a feasible option despite how it catered to the theme. Building on that idea, I pondered transforming it into the story of serial killer fleeing the police. Unfortunately, I ran into the same problems as the previous idea.

Erasing the metaphorical idea board, I starred at blank page uninspired. Managing to discover an idea from a place I overlooked without much thought. My imagination channeling my love of Punk Rock, and its ideologies into something I could shape to fit the theme. Taking inspiration from the songs of various bands and musicians including Beans on Toast, Chuck Ragan, Against Me, Frank Turner, and many more. Telling a tale of a musician who lives on the road and on the stage, acting as a pilgrim of music. Along with taking slight lyrical insight from Frank Turner’s song The Road, which can be listened to below. Underneath that, I humbly present the tale I titled, A Pilgrim of Punk.


A Pilgrim of Punk

The rain bombarded the bus window, creating a faint melody with each drop that landed against the tinted glass. In silence, I watched from my seat at the passing of the blurred city-scape. Noticing how close we were to the town, I removed my earbuds before casually placing them into my jacket pocket. The screen of my phone brightening as a reaction, allowing me a moment to see it was just past three a.m. Rubbing my thumb and forefinger over my eyes, I glanced around the sparsely full overnight bus. My six fellow passengers strangers following their invisible roads of fate on this gloomy night. All of us would soon depart this bus, leaving behind a ghost of our current selves.

Just before dawn, the Uber pulled into the familiar motel parking lot. The driver popped the trunk before, stepping out to unload the single, worn suitcase that accompanied me when I traveled. In silence, I exited the vehicle with my time-tested guitar bag in hand. I thanked the driver for his assistance in unloading my luggage. I wrapped my hand around the short handle of my duffle bag before, making my way towards the hotel’s front desk after walking through the set of automatic doors. Sitting behind the hotel counter was well-dressed women in a dark red blazer, with the miniaturized version of the hotel logo on the left breast pocket.

She stared up at me through wireframe glasses, asking, “Can I help you, sir?”

I responded, “I’m here to check-in to my room. The reservation is under the name Skibba.”

She nodded and typed the name into the computer that rested in front of her. The blue light from the screen was reflecting into her glasses, casting a brief silence between the two of us. A short ding erupted from unseen speakers, likely built into the monitor.

She said, “I found your reservation, sir,” digging something out from within the desk, handing me an unsealed vanilla envelope, with a few pieces of laminated papers protruding from it. “You are in room number 212. Take the stairs to your left and then turn right. Is there anything else I can do for you, sir?”

I responded, “That should be all for now,” grabbing the envelope and tucking it inside my empty jacket pocket.

The woman nodded, dismissing me with a simple gesture. I walked away before heading up the split-level staircase, following her unneeded directions. I traced the footprints of memory, while I made my way towards my room for some much-needed sleep.


Squashing the dying remains of a cigarette under my boot backstage, a habitual ritual I performed every time before, stepping onto that evening’s stage. I starred out at the audience, aware that I was retracing the footprints of a forgone youth. Grabbing the microphone, I said, “This isn’t the first time I have played this familiar stage,” strumming softly on my guitar. “I see some familiar faces, and some unfamiliar faces here tonight. Hopefully, all you enjoy have enjoyed this evening so far and will continue to,” starting to play the intro for Shackles and putting every fiber of emotion into the song, belting out the lyrics.

I refuse to imprison myself in your shackles.

Instead, I choose to follow my own path traveling the road to unknown places.

Playing overcrowded pubs and undersold stages alike, tracing footsteps that aren’t my own.

Having drinks with strangers in dive bars the world over, understanding that living on the road was the key to my freedom.

Creating new paths in cities familiar and mysterious, traveling the road a pilgrim of music all my own.

Watching the crowd near the stage start to stir, jump, scream, mosh, and dance around, creating a simple, primitive display of musical jubilance. In my several hundred, if not thousands of times playing this song, the meaning of the tune had transformed over time. When I wrote the lyrics for the first time, it was about the horrible terms of the unfair contract and how the legality of it controlled my art and life. Now, it represented something more than that, standing for the roller-coaster, nomadic lifestyle of a musician. I continued to play, moving my fingers about the nickel-plated strings of my guitar without a thought. The individual strings of my guitar acting like an old friend that brought me a constant stream of pleasure and pain. Each chord I played a cathartic release of raw emotion, that metaphorically left me exposed to the world. Yet, I found myself reinvigorated by the relentless energy of the frenzied crowd. That ethereal sustenance a spring of strength I used to perform each night.

Watching the energy of the crowd wax and wane throughout my two-hour set and short encore. My callused fingers playing the last few chords, while the stage lights began to dim, the speakers echoing out the final note of the evening to an exhausted audience. I was carrying my guitar backstage, walking along a well-traveled invisible path. Ready to create more footprints on the endless road that was my lover and life-long friend.


Word Count: 853 Critique level: Full

WEP August 2019 entry piece

I struggled with the theme for this month’s contest/challenge. The “Red Wheelbarrow,” wasn’t something that was particularly inspiring to me. Stalling my creative energies for a few days, attempting to craft something that was centralized around the theme. Initially, coming up with the idea of a farmhand who is uncaught serial killer, who uses a red wheelbarrow to dispose of his victims. Realizing rather quickly, that I would break the word limit, or be forced to craft an unsatisfying ending. Taking the dark, violent atmosphere from that idea and shifting gears some to something grim and apocalyptic. Mixing it with some other elements of that story to create a piece of flash fiction, I titled Stained Red.


My father’s old black wheelbarrow was no longer the farm tool it once was. For years it had been filled various types of vegetables, hay, and manure. Now it was an instrument of horrible design, used to hull the corpses of those inflicted with a horrific virus. The infected were willing participants of experimental surgeries, that left bodies a mash of experimental surgical incisions. Even wrapped in thin black garbage bags, the cadavers leaked their bodily fluids pooling on the plastic shell. They were unintentionally leaving behind growing spots of dried blood that left sizeable spots of red on the black casing. With each hull of corpses, the patches of dried blood grew in both quantity and size. With one swift, strong lift, I deposited the bodies in the snow-covered trench. Hearing the snow crackle under the combined weight of the corpses. The almost endless winter was doing its best to hinder the decomposing process and the accompanying animals that fed on them.

The distinct sound of approaching footfalls audible in this frozen hellscape. Balancing out the old wheelbarrow on its small tire and rusting iron supports, before turning around. Their face obscured by wrap-around trapper hat, that revealed only their goggle covered eyes. Only a few of the scientists remaining here were bold enough to look upon the remnants of their failed research. A bright red cylindrical metal gas can visible in their right hand gripped between the fingers of heavy-duty black gloves. The figure was taking a stand a few steps away on my left side. Making a slight glance over at me in silence, that only served to amplify the empty tension between the two of us.

“Burn them,” the figure said, their voice being gargled and muffled to a point those were the only two words I understood. Setting the gas can onto the ground before walking away, leaving me to do the dirty work.

I was sighing some in annoyance, creating a small cloud of exhaled breath that was visible in the air. The distinct smell of petrol immediately hitting my nose while I lifted the gas can by the cold steel handle. My other hand was angling the gas-can to begin pouring the contents of the gas-can onto the trench while holding in a deep breath. I was doing my best not to inhale the fumes, listening to the gasoline weaving its way through the mass of wrapped cadavers. The noise was conjuring up memories of the babbling brooks and streams from my youth, creating vivid images of my father using the wheelbarrow to haul bushels of hay across the field. I could feel the smile spreading across my face at the thought.

The distinct aroma of gasoline whiffing itself into my nose shattering the picturesque memory, and forcing me to return to this grim reality. Hurling the empty fuel cannister across the trench, before taking one last look upon the covered up cadavers. Pondering some pseudo-religious sounding words to say aloud, that would act as improvised final rites for them regardless of their faith. I was fully aware the words would fall on deaf ears, but some things are sacred and traditional. Not wanting my words to become muffled, I pulled my facial covering down with three fingers. With one swift pull, I yanked the fabric down to my neck, enjoying the refreshing feeling of cold air rush over my unshaven face.

“No one asked for this plague to spread across this land, let alone be an unfortunate victim of the accompanying sickness. Your noble sacrifice in pursuing a cure for all of humanity will be etched into history for all to remember. Anything you left behind for your loved ones will be given to them when the time is right. God rest your souls, and may he have mercy on the survivors,” I said.

I turned and grabbed my father’s old wheelbarrow, now stained red with dried blood. Grabbing the warped wooden handles with one hand apiece, before, going a few short, quick pushes. Knowing this would have to be a quick goodbye to my father’s now bloodstained red wheelbarrow, and forcing the farm tool into the trench. Feeling some regret about destroying something my father bequeathed me, but understanding it was a bitter necessity of containing this infection. With only a few of us left untainted by the virus, it was only a matter of time before the search for a cure ended.

Taking an old, cheap, butane lighter out of my pocket, I rolled the spark wheel with care, having to repeat the motion a few times before, getting a small flame to appear. With the lighter now aflame, I hurled lighter into the trench, keeping a close eye on where it landed. Mere moments later, the corpses were beginning to burn. Watching some in awe, believing I had given a proper sendoff to my father’s now red wheelbarrow, and the dead. Turning around and beginning to stroll forward, doing my best to push the trickle of tears away. Becoming increasingly aware with each step I took, that this was indeed the end of the world.


Word count: 856 Critique Level: Full

WEP June Challenge 2019 Entry

Being considerably occupied with Z Publishing House pieces when last months challenge was going on, I choose not to participate in the April challenge to concentrate my creative energies on those pieces. Knowing I would return for the June challenge instead.

With the challenging theme for this month being “Caged Bird,” I realized I could interrupt that in either a metaphorical way, a literal way, or a combination of them. That being stated, I quickly disregarded my first thought of doing a Faustian style story where the demon acts as the bird. Switching gears to something more imaginative and partly inspired by love of old fashioned science fiction, where unexplored alien worlds are common. Modifying that idea with some more modern thinking shaped by problems like climate change and resource depletion. Crafting a piece of flash fiction I hope you enjoy, titled Hope’s Fragility.

Looking through this self-tinting glass screen, I looked out at this alien landscape. Strange double helix looking trees covered in magenta colored bark, and having deep purple ellipse shaped leaves rested on the western horizon. Their roots obscured by layers of a pale tan soil, that darkened in color as it descended the ragged broken-toothed cliff. Breaking black waves from the adjacent dark sea bombarded the base of the cliff.

I was beginning to slowly stagger forward with caution, attempting to get a sense of any injuries from my forced crash landing on XR-ELP8. The probes I had been sent to retrieve indicated this celestial body had the potential for successful terraforming barring there was a vacancy of sentient, intelligent life. Any proven signs of civilization would cause an uproar in the media if we attempted terraforming in complete disregards to them. While only a few truly understand how our home, had slowly transformed into a rotting cage of increasingly toxic air, corporate control, and rapidly depleting resources.

I was ceasing to move when a high-pitched wail filled my airtight helmet. The noise was immediately drawing my attention to the flexible computer on my right arm that displayed the data it was processing from the endless array of sensors built into my spacesuit. Looking down at the dark screen, I saw that my less than smooth landing had torn three holes in my suit. I was cursing under my breath at my astounding ill fortune, quickly trying to repressurize my spacesuit. Knowing how important it was to maintain a constant internal equilibrium to minimize any changes my body would go through as I adapted between various shifts in gravity in my journey throughout the cosmos.

I managed to temporarily stabilize my suit before heading towards the wreckage of my ship. Stumbling forward into the smoldering crater hoping I had bought enough time to salvage the communication system and send an SOS signal back home. Gravity forcing me to slide downward for a few seconds before I forcibly stopped myself by placing my hands outward. Emitting a brief grunt between my teeth in my pain, as I stood up, stepping over a few pieces of blackened metal alloy plates that slashed through the foreign soil leaving tiny grooves behind.

Feeling briefly grateful when I noticed that the communication panel was still fully intact, and appeared to be in working order. With all the strange circumstances behind the crash, fortune had given me some leeway, giving me some chance I had a way home. Carefully stepping into my seat before connecting my suit’s computer into the ship’s mainframe and running a quick diagnostic to confirm that communications were still operational. Forced to wait in tense silence for a few minutes, thoughts of desperation, panic, and the chance this mission had become suicidal raced through my head. Hearing the steady pulse of my heartbeat begin to accelerate, thumping away in my head like a thousand bass drums being played at four hundred beats a second. Forcing a seemingly infinite amount to pump through my skin and soak my face and armpits.

What felt like a few hours passed but, it was likely it was only a few minutes before three short beeps emitted from the ship’s small onboard speaker. Taking multiple breathes before I looked down at the screen of my suit’s computer. It seems my worst, darkest nightmare had quickly overtaken and consumed any optimism I had left, filling me with a depressing sense of dread. With the primary communication antenna missing and presumed to be in an unknown distant location, I resigned to myself to a grim fate. My protective spacesuit was quickly transforming itself into a doomed cage of nylon, spandex, and synthetic polymers. The high-pitched wailing returning indicating I had inadvertently created more tears in the outer layer of suit. Compromising it beyond any repairs, I could do without proper assistance.

It left this mission that once gave hope to a dying world, into a task that could cost humanity its future. This planet was becoming one elaborate reluctant cage for an Earth-man who only wanted to serve the world. That was my last thought as this alien world fell dark around me.

Critique level: Full Word Count: 705

WEP 2018 December Contest

With the contest theme being Ribbons and Candles for the final challenge of the year, I wasn’t confident about what I wanted to do.  I considered doing a Victorian-inspired holiday celebration with a steam-punk aesthetic. Upon researching some Christmas/Yuletide traditions from the time, I realized it may not have been the best idea to attempt with this particular theme. Clearing the slate so to speak, I also consider doing a small town inspired Christmas through the eyes of a time traveler.  Which I thought would work well but after six-hundred words realized ending the idea without revealing the main character’s secret was impractical. There were just too many questions left unanswered for the ending to feel complete.  Trying to find something that would work within the festive theme,  I stopped thinking about the idea for a couple of days. 

Somehow that managed to shake an idea from my head. Using the 1920’s to imagine a world where jazz filled the airwaves, and the mob ruled entire cities. With that atmosphere in mind, I considered a few ideas before settling on the idea that would become my contest entry which I present below. 

The winter chill had filled the air the snow by the time I entered the speakeasy. Mr. Domino had renovated the place since my last visit. Art Deco laminate tile ran through the entire floor, giving it a hexagonal black and white pattern that reminded me of a piano. Vaulted stone painted white decorated the ceiling. Brass chandeliers hung by silver steel chains were dropped from the ceiling. Bright red and blue ribbons hung across the bottom of every light. The strong scent of tobacco and homemade moonshine filled the air. Brass-heavy jazz was playing from some unseen musicians intertwined with the aromas. Several young flappers were dancing to the music with their fellas.

Weaving my way through the crowd of dancers, I made my way to the bar. A burly bartender in a tailored three-piece grey suit stood behind the bar. Slicked back greasy black hair stopped at the man’s ear, adding to his clean-shaven face. Deep brown eyes watched the dancers for a few moments before glancing at me.

Asking me “Watcha drinkin tonight,” while his gaze hinted a silent message; either get your drink or leave.

Glancing around at the few other patrons who were standing at the bar, before responding “A Manhattan but first a message for the owner. Tell him Mr. Keys has arrived, he will know who I am.”

The bartender nodded before going to make my drink. My suspicious nature was forcing me to glance around. Looking for associates of the man I was looking forward to seeing. The iron in my pocket was feeling heavy as several men in all black tailored suits began approaching me. A gold domino lapel pin rested on the right side of the jacket of the suit. Black fedoras were tilted just enough to obscure their faces from view. Tommy guns with wooden stocks pressed against their shoulders.

I asked, “Escorting me to see Mr. Domino gentlemen?”

The men nodded in unison before directing the black barrels of their Tommy Guns up. I have enough odd jobs to know what that meant. Giving me little time to stand up before beginning to walk away. Raising myself from the stool, I followed them ignoring the chaos of dancers moving to the music.

The music had grown steadily quieter by the time Mr. Domino’s goons led me his office. They motioned for me to enter the door before taking a watching spot by the door. Finding Mr. Domino was waiting for me, tapping a cigarette between his thumb and forefinger of his right hand. A polished silver Colt M1911A1 was resting on his antique wooden desk, within arms reach if necessary.

Mr. Domino asked, “Is the deed done Mr. Keys?”

I nodded, before producing a vanilla envelope from my pocket. Placing the container down by the gun, knowing the envelope’s contents would sway Mr. Domino’s immeasurable appreciation. Mr. Domino spilled the envelope’s content onto his desk. Ten severed ring fingers rolled onto his office, with their gold rings still attached. Each finger belonged to Mr. Domino’s competition.

Mr. Domino began to grin before commenting, “You have done well, Mr. Keys. These rings will make fantastic trophies for me to inspire fear from anyone else foolish enough to challenge me. As much as I would prefer to keep you around, I’m not foolish enough to cross my sister,” opening his desk and pulling out a small cloth bag. “Take this and my blessing to marry my sister,” standing and grabbing me the collar of my shirt. “Break her heart, and I will break you,” letting go of my collar.

“I know,” grabbing the cloth bag as I remarked.

Mr. Domino nodded once, before allowing me to leave his office. Shoving the money bag inside my pocket, trying my best to hide it from everyone. This money was my way of starting something new with my beloved Margaret. She knew the full extent of my past and didn’t care. Hoping between my reputation and her being the sister of Mr. Domino would be enough to scare any enemies away.


A few hours later I arrived at Margaret’s house, the bag still hidden inside my pocket. She opened the door with a smile before I could knock. Leading me to her kitchen table, where a vibrant red unlit candle sat on a silver tray. A box of matches rested beside it, two of them poking out of it.

Margaret commented “Let’s light this candle and begin our new life together,” handing me a match with a smile spread across her face.

Smiling as I took the match, more than ready to start our new life together.

Word count: 774 Critique level: Full

WEP October 2018 Contest Entry

Struggling to create something for this month’s contest, I considered skipping and rejoining in December. Challenging myself to write something that was a fit for the themes of Deja Vu or Voodoo. Writing a few different ideas but failing to get past a couple of paragraphs with each idea. Which honestly, was incredibly frustrating and annoying for me. Yet, apparently, the pressure from an encroaching deadline was the key to turning the spigot of inspiration on. Inspiring this Tesla-punk themed atmosphere of voodoo and science. Oddly enough the title came easily enough to me, entitling the piece Mad Science.

With thunder and rain making a symphony against the cracked window, I glanced at the massive machine that constructed in the middle of my empty red brick warehouse. Spheres of pure copper rested on top of ten-foot-tall copper wrapped steel beams. The positions of the poles, even the warehouse itself was carefully determined by occultist Aleister Crowley. Ancient and powerful runes etched into the ground around the machine. Etch dusted with copper shavings and white chalk. Bringing in Nikola Tesla himself to design and construct unique Tesla Coils for this project. Making sure the two never knew the plans true aim. This project more akin to technological voodoo. Then it was to either science or the occult. If this worked, I would be reborn into out of this body riddled with a fatal sickness. It didn’t matter if it failed, death would be claiming me soon enough.

Hobbling down the iron staircase, descending with my hand tightly wrapped around the rail. Setting the bottom of my cane on the ground to aid me, before taking my last step off the stairs. Knowing how much I had come to rely on the simple device to move in the past few months. Planning each action on the cement floor with great care, knowing how fragile my ailing body was becoming. Limping to the large steel encased control panel that was parallel to the lowest stairs. Pulling down on the lever to activate the many Tesla Coils simultaneously. Hearing a slight hum as the machines started to warm up. Moments later pure white lightning crackled throughout the warehouse. Striking the ground with growing frequency making the lights glow steadily brighter.

Unsteadily walking into the middle of the machine, the few hairs I had left standing on end. The iron chair I had bolted to the floor waiting for me. Polished copper restraints were attached to the chair, waiting to secure me into the chair. Lowering myself into the chair, letting the cold metal force me entirely into the chair. Watching the lights flicker out as a storm of white lightning strengthened around the machine. Focusing itself around the runes, forcing the copper dust and chalk mixture to glow faintly. The glow was steadily getting brighter, while I watched unwilling to move from the storm’s center. Lightning was beginning to strike the chair at random. Feeling the electrical energy work its way through my chest. A sharp and intense pain started to wrap around my body. Screaming into the air, as the frequency of the lightning strikes increased. Within minutes the pain was unbearable, forcing my conscious to fade away slowly.

Looking down on my empty shell of a crippled body, somehow no longer bound to it. My spiritual form forcibly contained to the area by the mixture of science and the occult. Observing helplessly, as the lightning produced the by Tesla Coils rapidly struck at my body. Feeling a slight tremor even though I was no longer attached to my physical body. The quivers were steadily getting stronger, waiting for the machines to finish discharging their energy.

It could have been a few minutes or a couple of hours before the remaining discharge struck my body simultaneously. The final release was powerful enough to forcibly recall my spirit into my physical body in a union of technology and voodoo. My body was tingling slightly as the metal restraints opened. Being filled with a feeling of robustness that I haven’t possessed since my youth. Tossing my cane across the warehouse testing out this new body before standing. Walking out of the mechanization created by creating a union of occultism and science. My once frail body reborn strengthened with the aid of mad science. Eager to not have to deal with constant hospital visits and doctors that restrained so much of my life. With a new-found spring in my step, I was ready to take on the world.

Critque level: Full

Word Count: 653