It's almost time for the 2014 "30 Days, 30 Stories" Project!

Look for details for this year's project soon!

Last year's project was great! We had a fabulous selection of work. To read (or reread), click HERE for the first story.

And remember to leave a comment! We *LOVE* comments!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

30 Days: "Master of Masters" by Mattie Noall


Master of All Masters
By Mattie Noall

Prologue

He was doomed.  There was no way around it.  As Kenneth hunkered in the roots of a large tree a million thoughts tumbled around in his head.  He should not be in this situation.  It had been a mistake.  One big stupid mistake.  He was the very best spy the king had.  He knew how to get out of situations that no one else could get out of; they didn't give him the nickname of Speed for nothing.  Yet here he was.  He was trapped.  Eventually the enemy would find him, they would torture him to try and win his secrets.  He couldn't give them to them.  No matter what they did to him he could not give those things to them.  He knew too much.  He could hear enemy soldiers closing in on him.  They had dogs.  He had only managed to evade dogs a few times.  It usually ended up with him rolling in some unmentionable substance.  He had looked for some means of escape.  He had tried to find something to use.  This was the cleanest and smallest grove of trees he had ever seen.  It was the only thing this close to the enemy castle.  And he had had to hurry too much.  He'd been sloppy.  He should not have gotten into this mess.  He had gotten a tip from an informant.  He had trusted the informant only because he was recommended by another well trusted informant.  When the price was too steep and the timing all wrong he should have seen it.  But he had trusted too far and he was getting too old for this stuff.  He knew better but now he was going to be caught and he was sure that the two informants were going to have a big fat purse for this.  He should have trusted his gut like he usually did.  So much for well-laid plans.  

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

30 Days: "The Cold" by Caitlyn Byers


The Cold: A Sonnet
By Caitlyn Byers

I hope I survive the alternating
runny and stuffed up nose, the red, sore nose,
the brain that can’t focus on anything,
thanks to the pills in the bottle that shows

a claim to be non-drowsy but it LIES!
And still my head is all stuffed up and I’m
falling asleep, dreaming of the demise
of whoever’s made my brain think “Bed time!”

So I cough and I hack and I choke as
I try to breath in but the catch in my
throat that is an uninvited guest says
“I’m here to stay” no matter what I try.

and plot what will happen when I take hold
of the idiot who gave me this cold.

Monday, April 21, 2014

30 Days: "The Gun" by B Y Rogers


The Gun
B Y Rogers

“I remembered the day you were born, mostly because you were my first grandchild. I had been out of state for several weeks, traveling for my job. You were almost two months old before I finally got to hold you. Your Mom had you all wrapped up in a pink blanket Grandma had made. I cried.

“The world was turning sour back in those days. Before you were born, I remember hearing of the occasional shooting, if that is the correct and proper way to define what was happening back then. I don’t remember much, not really, but I do recall that once or twice a year some disgruntled man, it was never a woman, would lash out at their family or co-workers, killing as many as he could. Most times, it was only a half dozen; even one was too many. But like everybody else, I had a life to live and I moved on.

“Columbine High School buried the most in the beginning. I remember that one because it shocked everybody, even me. Then there was a Baptist Church killing in Texas somewhere. There were others. The popular term that was spread around was that someone had gone postal. It was happening more and more.

“Of course, eventually, the big political killing of 2001 climbed to top. I guess you learned about those when you were growing up. While that was the worst, it was really impersonal for most Americans. Oh, we did get all fired up and blamed whomever and bickered between ourselves, but still, unless it happened to you, it was this far away massacre that was soon forgotten unless you went on a plane ride.

“The little ones got to me. Every couple of years you would hear of one. Then, just a year or so before you were born there was a whole litter of them. And it wasn’t just in the schools or at local factory. These crazies would go off the deep end and kill at home and then they would go to the mall or high school, all armed up with weapons they had stolen from their parents or grandparents. Sometimes they would plan the shooting for months, hoarding their ammo like it was food in a famine.

“I do remember one, the same year you were born in fact, where an Amish school was attacked by some asshole. He killed some kids and that one got to me cause you were so tiny, just a few months old and I remember holding you one day and fighting back the tears, wondering what I would do if someone came into your school and killed you and nobody was there to protect you.

“I don’t like guns, never had. My father had several, all rifles. I don’t remember seeing a revolver in the house growing up, just rifles. I did go hunting with my father when I was about fifteen. I got sick. Not from the hunt; hell, I was raised on a small farm and did my share of separating chickens from their heads. That never bothered me. I got sick from breathing the exhaust from my father’s old Willey Jeep. It was much older than I was and had rotting floorboards. I had to sit in the way back, over the exhaust pipe so the men could sit in the seats. I threw up a lot that morning.“I remember firing a 22 rifle in Scouts when I was about thirteen or so. I fired it maybe five times. Somewhere along the line, for who knows what reason, I just never felt an affinity with guns. I wasn’t against them mind you, just never had an interest.

“Then suddenly the shootings got closer to home. When you were about a year old, there was one in a mall, in the city. I think four or five were killed in that one. A couple of months later, a big one happened at a university in Virginia. By now, I was getting inured to it all.

“Then, when you were in kindergarten, another school shooting changed my mind. That was a terrible year, that year. Time after time, almost every month, somebody somewhere, a mall, a theater, a cafĂ©, someone was shot to death. It was horrific. Then, there was this case in New York. Over two dozen children in a kindergarten class were murdered. They were your age. I snapped then, it was too much.

“I bought a handgun a few months later, a Smith and Wesson .40. I hate guns. I really do not like them. Still don’t like them. While I did not have nightmares of you being killed while dressed up as a ham in a school play or shopping for candy for Halloween, I worried, God how I worried. In my daytime I could see you lying on the floor at school, or on the grass in the park, dead because somebody went postal and I was not there to protect you. I felt helpless.

“So I got the handgun and a concealed weapon permit and practiced, practiced, practiced. I was never that good, but I wasn’t bad either.

“While I was practicing to protect you, I lost you. We all did. By the time you were in high school and I was getting better at shooting paper targets, you ran away. Your parents nearly bankrupt themselves trying to help you, but you would not be helped. By the time you were fifteen, you had seen more time in juvenile detention each year than at home.

“The world became crazy while you were gone. I suspect you knew more of it than I did. I gave up. I turned off the television finally and the radio. I didn’t read the newspapers any more. I canceled the Internet. I just read my books and wrote in my journal. I think the world got really bad the older I got.

“We lost track of you. You left home before you were eighteen and where you have been, I had no idea. Grandma died while you were gone. I don’t know if you knew that or not. I live alone now. I miss her something terrible. Your mother wants me to come live with her and your father, but I’m still able to take care of myself most of the time. I haven’t told them no. I haven’t said yes either. Now, I guess, they won’t have to worry about it.

“I’m old. I feel it every time I move. I am sitting here, on the driveway, in the dark. The concrete feels as cold as I do. My butt can’t take this kind of sitting anymore. A cop gently pulled my hands behind my back and put handcuffs around my wrists a few minutes ago. He apologized, said he hated doing it but times, such as they are, it was policy and I had to sit down. So I sat down on the driveway. I don’t care anymore. I’m not scared.

“You are still just inside the doorway. I can see your feet from here. The lights from the cop cars are dancing over the sheet they put over you. I can see the soles of your shoes. What am I going to say to your mother?

“I hate guns. I never wanted to pull mine on anyone. I never have had to. But when I heard someone at the door after I had gone to bed, trying to get it, I got scared. Whomever you were with must have put their shoulder to it and hit the door pretty hard. I don’t know. By the time the door tore from the hinges, I had the gun that I brought so many years ago to protect you and was aiming at the first person that came in.

"Now, I am sitting here, on the cold driveway, crying, wishing the cops would give me my gun back."

-------------------------------------------------
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Saturday, April 19, 2014

30 Days: "The Dawn of Easter" and "Happy Easter" by Mary Ann Duke


The Dawn of Easter
by Mary Ann Duke

Early morn, Easter dawn
Sunlight breaks, streaking pinks 
over prairie, mountain and sea
My eyes flutter open. I snuggle under covers and wonder
what it was like that first Easter morn to see
the risen Christ walking, speaking,
being near.
A miracle then,
And a miracle now.
I scarce can comprehend. But I am thankful
that He gave his life for you and for me
And for all mankind.
I’ll be grateful eternally.


Happy Easter
by Mary Ann Duke

Bunnies, chicks, colored eggs and candy
Bonnets and bows, frilly dresses and suits
Who will find the most at our egg hunt?
What prize will the Prize Egg bring?
These are but ten of my favorite things.
Happy Easter.

Friday, April 18, 2014

30 Days: "Miss Mazi is Missing" by Lori V Bulloch





Miss Mazi is Missing
by Lori V. Bulloch

Miss Mazi is missing.
Oh, where could she be?
She's never, ever been
Far away from me.

A tortoise so little –
She couldn't be far.
Please, please, Lord, don't let her
Get hit by a car!

Miss Mazi is making
Me worry and wait.
She's making me check each
Nook, cranny and grate.

With neighborhood knocking
And signs taped on post,
Empty hands clasped in prayer
Assure me the most.

Miss Mazi's appearing
(Done all on her own?)
Crawling out from the vines
Of her own backyard home.

How did she do that?
Hide out for so long?
And what does it matter?
I'll sing a glad song...

Miss Mazi is HOME now.
She's safe at long last!
My three weeks of wond'ring
All now in the past.

I've learned this one lesson:
No matter how low,
We are in the Lord's hands
Wherever we go.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

30 Days: "O'Malley's Flower" by Jeff Hargett


O'Malley's Flower
by Jeff Hargett

With his heart all black and his soul bankrupt
He raged and howled with a will corrupt
Never had men seen not even in dream
The evil unmatched about to erupt

The day then came, with snowfall dark
For ash and lava rendered countryside stark
Beneath his disdain did nothing remain
Not swallow nor eagle not sparrow nor lark

His sights he set on the people's queen
Thirsting for power and aims unclean
He came and set siege against serf and liege
Laid waste to woods and homes and all between

The king arose, valiant and strong
His heart intent on righting the wrong
Both regal and proud, he rallied the crowd
And led his men with trumpets and song

For days they marched through blinding snow
With ice and frost did the north wind blow
Bearing omens ill and the glint of steel
Under clouds of gray no mercy did it show

For the queen, his love, he journeyed there
Daring the evil's perilous snare
Over peak and valley came King O'Malley
Till he chanced upon the enormous lair

Of power and magic and wrath and hate
Came spell and curse to doom their fate
O'Malley so brave, but naught could he save
For the beast rained fury in a fatal spate

One by one the king's men fell
Where they'd stood no man could tell
Swordsman and spear, with no time to fear
Became the echo in death's sad knell

The man, the beast were one in the same
Mage was his title and Jerrok his name
It was none other, the king's own brother
Who smote them down their flesh aflame

Out from the lair where kin's blood flowed
Into the city along the king's road
King O'Malley's head, all battered and red
Hung on a pike for all to behold

Jerrok announced his vile demand
To wed the queen in fashion grand
He yelled and he swore, refusal meant war
And havoc he'd wreak throughout the land

But the queen was armed and didn't cower
For in her womb grew O'Malley's flower
Jerrok couldn't know the strength they would show
But what love births is life's greatest power

And in that moment when Jerrok started
The princess countered and his heart she parted
Love potent and pure, life's ultimate cure
Rended his soul with the mercy imparted

Though King O'Malley would never be there
His flower would grow, a beauty so fair
His memory dear, sung to calm men's fear
By queen and princess with love so rare



- Jeff

When this world doesn’t suit you, write a world that does.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

30 Days: "Jonny Forget Your Gun" by Randall McNair


By Randall McNair


Jonny loved his staple gun.

CACHUNK

He bought it at a yard sale from the old lady next door.

CACHUNK

Where a little cripple boy sold lemonade from his wheelchair.

CACHUNK

Jonny named his new gun Buckshot.

CACHUNK

Every time he added a new bass to his collection.

CACHUNK

Buckshot got another notch.

CACHUNK

It didn't take long

CACHUNK

before Jonny had almost every kind of bass in the world

CACHUNK

pinned to the wall

CACHUNK

of his barn.

CACHUNK CACHUNK

and his collection was world famous.

            People the world over would come to Rustburg and shovel a nickel from their pocket to be allowed past the giant red barn doors. Inside it was dark as tar except for a hundred pin pricks of light coming through the slats and nail holes in the ceiling.

            When the barn was full, Jonny would collect his jar spilling over with nickels, and close the big doors.

            It took a few moments, with only the soft slits of sunlight falling down like a thousand stars. Then, one by one, each observer would gasp as his or her eyes adjusted, revealing the monument of fish stapled before them.

            Filled with wonder and amazement the crowds would whistle, holler and stamp their feet.

            "Bravo! Incredible! Encore!" would ring inevitable exclamations. Their excitement drifting for miles across gold and green hills. Scarcely could Jonny bow, or open the doors before he was swept up on the shoulders of the passionate crowd.

            It didn't take long before every person on the planet, it seemed, had come and come again to see Jonny's extravaganza of bass and come away a better person for it.

            Every person on the planet that is, except Jimmy. The little boy who lived next door.

            Jimmy was too weak to leave his small little bed up in the attic room of his grandmother's farm home. Although she would have liked to very much, Jimmy's grandmother was too old and frail to carry her grandson the scanty yards from where he lay, over to Jonny's bass barn.

            So every day Jimmy watched.

            Week after month he watched Jonny carry bass into the barn, would catch glint of the sun reflecting from Jonny's staple gun, and if the wind blew just right, he might hear a distant but resolute:

            Cachunk.

            Day after day he cheered and waved at Jonny as the ecstatic masses burst from the red barn doors; but Jonny, caught up in glory, never saw the frail little ghost of a boy, smiling at him from the window.

           He never saw how day after month after year, that smile never faded, even as the little waving arm grew weaker and weaker.

             Then one day, just one, nobody knows how or why, no one came to see Jonny's barn.

            No one dropped a nickel in Jonny's jar or came to lift Jonny on their shoulders. Everything was so still: so quiet, that one could almost hear the sound of the peanuts growing in their fields.

            As he sat on his milk stool in front of his barn; as Jonny looked out over the empty horizon, he saw the farmhouse next door, where a yard sale sign had once stood years before.
He noticed a little attic window again for the first time, and in that window a smiling little face.

            Slowly he walked across the yard, then through the back porch into the old woman's home, up the stairs, and without knocking, softly turned the knob of the boys attic room. Jonny looked down and smiled at the boy he'd not seen since the year he'd brought home his first bass.     Where had each of those days gone?

            Taking Buckshot from its holster, Jonny handed it to Jimmy. Then carefully he picked up the frail, broken body and without a word carried Jimmy down the stairs, and out to his barn.

            Reaching into his own pocket Jonny picked out one of his own nickels and dropped it in the jar.

            His whole soul alive with wonder Jimmy was layed in the fresh new straw, clutching buckshot in his lap, While Jonny closed the doors.

            Pin-pricks of light poured down all around filling the barn with heavenly light.

Then,

as Jimmy's eyes adjusted to the darkness

each fish,

one by one

turned their head towards the light,

and began to sing.