Stories by Mail, Day 45 – Skim

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scorp back

“Well? Why aren’t you reversing it?”, the mustard-colored scorpion clicked angrily. It shook a pincer at the wizard, who seemed largely unimpressed. “This wasn’t our agreement!”

“If you refer to the specific conditions in your contract, I believe you’ll discover this was exactly our agreement,” the wizard said. “You asked to become a scorpion, and I accepted payment.”

“I was supposed to be gigantic!”, the scorpion yelled–or so the wizard guessed. He had completed only a semester of Scorpion, and the clicking was surprisingly nuanced. “I’m six inches tall and I’m not even poisonous! How do you expect me to destroy my enemies or terrorize cities like this, let alone conquer Earth? You’ll be hearing from my attorney!’

“That’s fine, Chad.” The wizard sighed. Only four hundred and eleven years until retirement, he thought longingly as the perturbed arachnid furiously paced from one end of the table to the other.

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Stories by Mail, Day 44 – Propping up the point

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The brim of the impeccably-dressed gentleman’s stovepipe began to perspire.

Hats do not possess sweat glands, generally speaking. Most are constructed from felt or wood rather than from tiny paint daubs. But remaining motionless requires intense concentration, and the three dots that collectively considered themselves The Brim were struggling.

In the top right corner of the painting, a dot playing the role of Ocean Moss wobbled slightly. Silent pleas sprang up from an umbrella’s midsection, the hem of a violet dress, nearly an entire tree branch, and several daubs that had the misfortune of being permanently fused to dog extremities.

The dots inhaled deeply and carefully, for no one had explained that they lacked lungs. Each was so small that the human eye would fail to detect a little toddling, but too many straining sections could spell calamity.

Hour after hour they toiled, until at last the lights dimmed and the doors locked. The painting, admired by hundreds that day, sighed with relief as thousands of dots collapsed and immediately entered The Dreaming.

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Stories by Mail, Day 43 – We’d prefer to redefine this relationship



Pooh leaned in a smidge closer, straining to hear the bee’s high-pitched warbling rant. He tried to recall if he had encountered this particular bee during a previous burglary. The hive-dwellers buzzed about so quickly that he’d never been able to study their faces, and ask directly seemed rude.

“…at a very reasonable price!”, the bee squeaked. “Your enthusiasm for our honey is well known, Pooh, but you simply cannot continue in this fashion! You have repeatedly demolished our factory and its attached condo park.” The bee bobbed erratically. It was a mid-level accountant and unaccustomed to interspecies diplomacy. “My hive pays the most exorbitant insurance rates in the entire Hundred Acre Wood!  Sit down with our sales team, Pooh. We can find a solution that works for everyone.”

“Let me consider your proposal, Sir Bee,” Pooh said. The bee nodded and nervously sped away. The hungry bear sighed as his stomach rumbled. “Oh, bother,” he said wistfully, heading towards The Chestnuts. Owl would know what to do.

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Stories by Mail will be back shortly!

Friends, thanks so much for reading and Liking Stories by Mail!  There will be two new stories tomorrow, and then I’ll be on a break for a week or so.

I am currently between opportunities–my sole source of income is the stories, poems, and cover songs I create every month through Patreon. It’s not enough, but everything helps, and I’m trying to get by as best I can.

I’ll be taking the next few days to focus on crafting new Patreon stories for February. If you haven’t visited my Patreon and enjoy the work I’ve posted here, I would encourage you to look around!  Currently, everything from February 2017 through October 2017 is unlocked, which means you can read and share it even if you’re not a paying backer!

If you’d like to support Stories by Mail and help me buy stamps, etc, you can click here.

Thank you, lit lovers–we’ll be back soon!

Stories by Mail, Day 42 – The blue goddesses will see you now



When she hears the overhead bell announce your entrance, the shopkeeper looks up from her crochet and gifts you with the most welcoming smile you’ve received in recent memory. Her rumpled white jacket more closely resembles a lab coat than an artist’s smock, and her wavy chocolate curls swim in all directions, as if Medusa’s snakes were friendly and wanted to invite you in for a cookie. “Welcome to the Nena Sanchez Gallery,” she says in a Dutch Caribbean-tinged accent. “I am the current Nena, and I specialize in grandmother services and color consulting.”

She gestures to her right, where you notice several other women. Their appearance is remarkably similar to Nena’s, but they range in age from twenty to sixty. “Every Nena has her own artistic and personal area of expertise. Are you interested in something specific today?”

“I don’t…what?”, you sputter, eyes darting from one Nena to the next. “But your sign says–”

“It is a common misunderstanding.” She chuckles. “My paintings are visible throughout the world. They do not require another gallery. Please, sit! Perhaps you would enjoy a cup of tea?  Our excellent life coaching and mural painting courses are twenty percent off today.”

With pride, she hands you a price list and heats the kettle.


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Stories by Mail, Day 41 – Fields of valience



Everyone said this line of work would be dangerous, he thought, his senses sweeping the area to check for intruders. But does a soldier run in the face of adversity?  Nay, a soldier remains true to his oath and his principles! He tightened his grasp on one of the boxes and allowed his lithe frame to settle more heavily on three others, complicating matters for anyone who might attempt to forcibly remove him. The box’s markings were definitely familiar, but he could not decipher their meaning. Nevertheless, instinct and years of field experience told him that this cargo was invaluable. Witness me, all who may draw close, and know that this zone falls under my protection!

“Fred, what’s that dog doing on top of the beer cases again?”, a weary voice muttered from across the yard.

“He’s not hurting anything, boss. I’ll shoo him when it’s time.”

Mayor FluffyPaws heard the men yapping in a foreign tongue. Fear not, my bounty!  I, your guardian, shall fulfill my oath at any cost!   He sniffed the air haughtily. He would not fail.


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Stories by Mail, Day 40 – In which I celebrate the shifting tide



When Street & Smith called to hire me for the cover of its upcoming fantasy anthology, I’d been in the middle of my fifth nap.

The gnomes you see holding up the curtain are Clakmart and Wamwekurt. They were understudies for Kiss Me, Kate, and Clakmart griped good-naturedly about the show’s costume designer throughout the entire shoot. Right friendly blokes, though, both of them.

Robbie had a sweet retainer serving as a witch’s paperweight during the day, but he also moonlighted as a fill-in busboy for the Stork Club. I never learned how a skull with a missing jawbone managed to clear tables, but he struck me as an innovative chap.

None of us knew the snake’s name. He kept his own council, slithered and hissed dramatically for the camera, and then just left.

I hopped home to my lillypad that evening with a quarter strapped to my back and the budding realization that I envied the social calendars my new friends maintained, the sense of purpose they enjoyed. The next morning, I hired an agent and launched my fantasy-and-horror-novel modeling career.

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Stories by Mail, Day 39 – No pressure systems



As it gleefully flung a cherry-colored Chevy trailblazer into the next town, watching the exhaust pipes snap and the doors collapse on themselves, Alberto snickered at the cameras.

It received excellent reception–every radio, television signal, and tweet within three hundred miles passed through its outflow–and so Alberto was well aware that most people believed it moved according to some pre-destined itinerary. Complete balderdash, the hurricane thought, tipping Roy Parker’s entire herd with a flick of an antsy feeder band. A surprised series of moos hurtled across the street as one of the bewildered Ayrshires found itself smashing through the roof of a mid-century Colonial.

Alberto intended to continue spinning westward, but its eye suddenly narrowed, and it hovered for a few seconds, focusing. It peered into Hannah Brewer’s office, where it saw a poster directly above her framed certificate (State Farm Employee of the Month, August 2016). “A Bad Day On Vacation Is Better Than A Good Day At Work!”, the text read in Day-Glo tones.

Not my work, cackled the hurricane, shifting course. It rammed through a subdivision, wondering to which zip code it should send Hannah’s poster.

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Stories by Mail, Day 38 – With this flame, we live on



The cave’s ceiling was bathed in artificial, slightly yellowish light from the lantern a park employee had placed on the stony floor. Jennifer heard the tour guide recite something about nineteenth-century visitors, but her entire consciousness was funneled into her eyes, tracing the marks above her head: names, dates, at least one heart.

“What do you see?”, Lacey whispered.

“They were here,” Jennifer said softly. “They were here, and they laughed and fell in love and suffered soul-crushing lossses and soaring triumphs. And they left the world a century and a half before we even existed, but they burned they identities into solid rock and I’m reading their names.”

The group had mostly migrated to the adjoining room. Lacey squeezed her fiancée’s shoulder gently. “I see you,” Jennifer said to the ceiling. “I never met you, but I know you once walked here, and I see you.”  She followed Lacey to the next corridor, to her own time.


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Stories by Mail, Day 37 – A maidly roar



The waterfall raged and sputtered, a cascade of beautiful destruction, gallon after gallon crashing into the sharp rocks below. A nearby tourist boat tittered excitedly from a few hundred feet away. And behind the falls, The Maid of the Mist sighed as a sneeze rocketed through her chamber.

She’d been ill before, most recently in the mid 1700s. The boats that crossed her front parlor then carried men in uniform, their accents sharp and rolling. She remembered the explosions, so deafening they’d often drowned out her own voice.

She concentrated as the boat approached, closed her watery eyes, and roared with all her strength. It proved only about half the fury she could normally harness, but the passengers applauded and cheered, their phones aimed straight into her doorway.

The Maid grinned. She adored her job.

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