A real man would…

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He remembered quietly leaving his seat, pretending the next stop was his. He remembered wanting to be subtle. Not wanting it to seem to the young mother as if he was offering his seat her. He didn’t want the attention. Especially since the young mother’s husband -or boyfriend- called out all men on the train for not giving his wife and daughter their seat. Didn’t want it to seem he gave up the seat on account of the guy.

He left the conference room.

He wanted to speak freely.

Nosey coworkers lurking.

“Is it a man’s responsibility?” He asked Marcey over the phone.

How old’s the child?” Marcey asked.

“About five,” He replied.

Hmmmm… I’d give them the seat,” Marcey declared.

He clasped his eyes.

“Hold on a sec,” He lowered his phone and walked further up the hall.

He was hungry and felt a headache forming.

He hadn’t gotten a break since he sat down to log into his desktop. It was the day of the Christmas party. He wondered how the hell he got caught up in coordinating the event. Especially before he drank his morning coffee. Sure, it was nice to be away from his work, even though he knew dam well it was all piling up as he decorated the cheese and cracker tray. But being away from his desk didn’t mean he was away from hard labor. All so his coworkers could show up, eat, and leave him and a few others to clean up the mess.

He yawned.

He was just cranky. And tired from the six miles he ran that morning. From the Wing Chun class the night prior. And he was even crankier and more tired on the train. He needed the seat, but he gave it up to the woman and child anyway.

“I don’t know that I would,” He told Marcey. “Is that bad? I guess if the kid can’t stand on their own. What do you think?”

What do you think?” Marcey asked.

“I don’t know,” He replied. “The woman’s guy declared men should stand for mothers.”

Okay,” Marcey said.

“Makes sense right?” He said “Women have the children. Its the least a man can do.”

I guess.” Marcey sounded uncertain. “Eat anything?”

“I’ll eat something at the party,” He replied.

“Okay dear… Talk later?” Marcey said .

“Sure, talk later,” He ended the call.

He wondered…  Does or should a real man give up his seat for a woman with a child? A woman with child? An older woman. He would. He should. As long as he could. But is that something he should do as a man? Or is it a societal construct weaved into basic human decency. Or was he thinking too much?

He rejoined his coworkers in the conference room.

More work to be done. An hour until party time. He decided he’d have to ponder the idea of what it meant to be a man later. After coffee. Whence cleaned up after his adult coworkers.




Fiction Under 500 #2

He quietly shut Marcey’s door before proceeding downstairs to the kitchen with his laptop.

His woman was tired. She had a long day. Was referring to Marcey as his woman sexist? He thought before quickly digressing the thought.

He opened his word processor…

“Just write whatever,” He urged himself before he started typing. “Something about a guy approaching a bright cavern.”

He approached the large, illuminated cavern but paused before crossing into the light.

He wanted to return. To reverse through the darkness and hopefully to his dog and his cool apartment. And his rare 32 bit game system where he started, but never finished, several classic role playing games.

The light was warm. Inviting. Intoxicating. He felt himself being drawn into it.

“You seem troubled,” His guide’s voice said.

“I change my mind,” He said.

His winged Guide revealed itself in the darkness. A silhouette with wings with only his bright, blue green piercing the darkness.

Guide only revealed himself to nag or chastise.

“Nothing back there for you,” His Guide said.

He reached his hand into the light.

His hand disappeared before the light quickly spread up his arm and to his face. He could feel himself disappearing. Assimilating into the light.

He used all his strength he could must to free his arm from the light.

He managed to free himself, but it felt as if a piece of remained within the white void.

“What happens in the white place?” He asked.

“I don’t know,” His guide replied. “Guides aren’t allowed to cross.”

“Why don’t you know?” I asked.

No answer from the guide. Even after several seconds of silence no answer.

He was disappointed. And annoyed.

“We’ve been traveling for centuries,” He said.

“Minutes,” Guide answered.

“What?” He asked, flabbergasted by Guide’s reply.

“You’ve only been here minutes,” Guide said.

“Impossible,” He said. “What about… the…”

He lost his train of thought. He knew he had something important to say. Something important to remember about where they were and how far they travelled.

He took a step back from the light.

“No,” He said as he staggered away from the light. “Can’t.”

“The longer you wait, the more you’ll fade,” Guide said. “You’ll cease to exist.”

“I’ll take my chances,” He said.

“You won’t make it in time,” Guide warned. “You wo-”

Guide’s voice vanished. And so did its winged silhouette and glowing green eyes. And so did the illuminated cavern.

Everything vanished. Everything including a piece of himself that was taken by the white void. He could see that he was still whole but didn’t at all feel like he was.

And he was alone, once again, in the dark cavern.

Those video games better be worth it, he thought. He wasn’t ready to travel back since he felt his existence starting to fade, but what other choice did he have. The guide got him there, and he wasn’t confident he had the strength of aptitude to find a way back to his dog, cool apartment, and video games. And Chinese food. He’d miss Chinese too much.

“I’m sorry,” He called out to the guide and he started to head back in the direction from whence he came.




Fiction Under 500 #1

He had no idea where the story was going. Or what it was going to be about. Or whether it was going to be good. Or readable. But he was going to write it before he reached work.  He needed to write it. 

He entered crowded train. Took first available seat. Drew his notebook.

No pre-planned characters or plots. No direction in mind. He was just gonna make up shit as he went along. Should be interesting, he thought. 

He penned his first words.

Train pulled into station. Dozens squeezed themselves into packed train. A dozen stops until work.

He looked forward to reading whatever literary chaos ended up on his notepad.

Five hundred words or less, he thought. Here we go….

She mashed her heel into its chest. Used the leverage to remove her devine spear from the Demon’s belly.

She could hear the Scale Lord’s breaths. Shallow but still in existence. Gargantuan body rising and falling beneath her heel. Long, shattered wings flapping wildly as if trying to escape the demon’s expiring body.

She exhaled.

Cold smoky breath.

Her childhood spent preparing to avert the prophecy. One more strike to the heart and she will defeat fate. She can return home to her love. One more strike and she’s free of her cosmic shackles.

“Prophecy’s false,” She said. “I’m alive.”

The Scale Lord cackled. Coughed. Spat a purple oily substance at her feet.

“The battle’s won,” The Scale Lord replied. “Long ago.. its won.”

She drew her sickle. Beheaded Scale Lord before it could further speak.

She staggered off the Scale Lord’s corpse. Collapsed to her knees.

“Thank you, Ele’ees,” She said, praising her goddess.

The Scale Lord’s body quickly deteriorated to dust.

Its done.

Daylight through the window. Warmth of the sunrise through the prison bars and cracks in the stone walls. Birds chirping.

Ele’ees gave her strength. Weapons. The will to defeat the prophecy. Proof that divine power existed. That the universe was fair. That mortals like her can shed their cosmic shackles. Live the way they choose. She would spend the rest of her days praising her Goddess. Spreading her gospel. Loving Alex.

She walked to the shattered stain-glass window.

She  bathed in spreading sunlight. Inhaled the smell of grass. Goosebumps from the clean air breeze on her skin.

I’m going home, she thought. There was plenty of sunlight and grass home.  I’m going home to see him, she thought. To murder him… and everyone in my vil-… 

She felt rage. Felt joy. Felt bloodlust.

None were her thoughts. Her feelings.

“Isn’t me,” She tried to convince herself.

“But it is,” Scale Lord replied.

Power… she thought. Tried to chase the evil thoughts away but couldn’t. Felt like her own mind being silenced. Crushed. Replaced by another voice. Kill them all, she thought. Fuck the gods…

Skin tingling.

She rolled up her sleeve.

“I told you,” The Scale Lord said. “The battle was already won.”

She drew her spear. Twirled around the room looking for the owner of the voice.

She checked her arm.

Black scales. Up her arms and across her collar bone. She felt organs shifting. Expanding. Transforming.

“No… Alex,” She cried.

She cried so hard she was blind.

“Alex… I failed” She said as she released her spear. “I’m sor-”

She jerked forward. Landed on all fours.

They tore through her flesh. Her shoulder blades. Large black wings.

Such pain.

She cried. Tears of pain. Tears of sadness. Tears of laughter.

No escaping fate, she thought. Prophecy prevailed as it should. She embraced what she’s meant to become… The Queen of Scale. World devourer. Her true self.

“Alex… I’m coming home,” She said with a smirk.

Odd story, he thought.

He reached his stop.

He wondered why all of his endings were tragic and hopeless. Was that him? Was that a reflection of his soul? Was he the Scale Lord of his own lore? Or was he just a strange, odd, awkward son of a bitch?

He put his notebook away and exited the train car.

Probably the latter, he concluded. Strange, odd, awkward… Maybe a little broody.