Toasted bread vs. breaded toast

I frowned down at the menu. “Breaded toast?” I read aloud.

The waiter, a skinny, animated little fellow who bounced around like he physically couldn’t stand still, smiled at me. Or rather, he flashed his teeth at me. It seemed almost like a rictus instead of a true smile.

“Indeed, sir. It’s available as a side dish with any item, or included with many of our entrees.”

“Yes, but… what is it?” I asked. “I mean, you can toast bread, but what’s breaded toast?” Continue reading

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Running.

He stepped out into the mist, watching the swirls coalesce around him. He drew a deep breath into his lungs, tasting the moisture, the hint of decay that drifted from the massive trunks around him, craggy bark rising up into the sky to occlude the stars.

He stepped forward, blinking his eyes. All around him, the trees rose up – but out in front of him, a clearing opened up, pale moonlight shining down through the hole in the canopy. The dim light painted the scene in black and white and innumerable shades of gray, a monochromatic masterpiece.

The boy sighed, feeling tension ebb from his limbs. No one else knew about this clearing but him. He nodded when the elders warned him not to venture out too far beyond the limits of the village, not to stray into the darkness.

He nodded – but inside his head, he clung fiercely to this place, this private retreat.

His field. Continue reading

[AGttA] Chapter 9.1: The Climb (haven’t we done this before?)

Continued from Chapter 9.0, here.

Read it from the beginning, starting here.

Axiom 9: Don’t lose hope.

Although this really, really didn’t seem like the time for introspection, I couldn’t help but reflect, as I ran through what seemed to be Heaven’s equivalent of a loading dock, on how I ended up here.

Just a little while ago (days? weeks? months?), I’d been living a totally ordinary life, headed out to the mall to pick up another pair of jeans from Gap.  Next thing I knew, the Apocalypse hit, I’d been plunged into living like a hermit in a Starbucks, and I had no idea what, if anything, would exist in my future.

And then, first Alice stumbled into my life, and then Eremiel.  Somehow, even though I’d only known the two of them for a few days, I found myself intensely attached to them, barely able to consider the idea of living without either of them filling my life with irritation and adventure. Continue reading

Let me sell you this pen…

Sir, sir, don’t go walking by! Oh boy, it’s your lucky day – I’ve got a hell of an opportunity for you!

Yes, I knew that you’d stop. I see it in your eyes – you have that drive, that desire to be the best. You, sir, are a man of great taste, of conscious fashion, of wanting to have all the best things in life – but not be over the top about it, no sir. Am I right in my assessment of you? Do I have the right man?

Yes, I see that glint in your eye. You are a man who will succeed! And that’s why you need this. Continue reading

On the first day of the honeymoon…

At first, when I heard the thudding of feet running by outside our cabin, I tried to squeeze my eyes shut and ignore the little bloom of irritation in my mind. It was early morning, I had Sarah beside me, and I didn’t have to get up until…

There they were again! With a grunt of frustration, I sat up, pushing the covers off of me.

“David, honey, just ignore it,” Sarah murmured beside me, not opening her eyes as a slender hand slid out from beneath the blankets to pat me on my bare chest. “It’s probably just some kids.”

“Well, they still shouldn’t be running around outside our suite – we paid good money for the full honeymoon package on this cruise,” I replied, although I smiled as I looked down at Sarah. Continue reading

[AGttA] Chapter 9.0: Please stand clear of the portal. The portal is opening.

Continued from Chapter 8.4, here.

Read it from the beginning, starting here.

Axiom 9: Don’t lose hope.

The first thing I saw, after stepping through the portal at the top of Mount Megiddo, was a very surprised looking angel.  I barely even had time to notice that he appeared to be wearing a bright orange safety vest with reflective stripes over his white robe, and holding a pair of light-up orange cones, before I instinctively lashed out.

“Hey, what are you-” the angel began before I hit him with Eremiel’s sword.

Unfortunately – or perhaps fortunately – I wasn’t holding the sword firmly, and the blade didn’t cut forward.  Instead, however, I smacked the angel in the face with the flat of the blade, knocking him back and probably leaving a nasty welt on his face.

Gripping the sword with both hands, I spun around in a circle, desperately trying to get my bearings.  Judging from the fact that I’d just hit an angel, I dared to hope that I was in Heaven – but what I might encounter here, I didn’t know. Continue reading

The Convent

“Do you ever wonder, Sister?”

Blanchard didn’t take her eyes off of the dusty distance. She held her breath, not wanting her vision to jump, watching the faint dust cloud. If movement, dark figures, were visible inside…

The cloud blew past, leaving no residue behind, and she sighed. Her hand, tight on the heavy rifle, loosened enough for the sight to drop down. She glanced over at the nun who stood beside her, hands folded into voluminous sleeves.

“Wonder about what?” she asked. Continue reading

Lucifer needs a favor.

When I walked into my office break room, I’d been hoping that there’d still be a half-full pot of coffee sitting in the machine, maybe a couple extra donuts left over from the day’s lunch meeting. If I got unlucky, I figured that I might see Doris sitting at the flimsy Formica table on one of her many “breaks”, poring over the newspaper as if it contained more of the gossip that she loved sharing around the office.

What I wasn’t expecting to see, however, was a man in an elegant suit of pure blackness, sitting with his feet propped up on the table and a cell phone in his hand.

“Um, can I help you?” I asked, feeling strangely uncertain. Normally, I didn’t need to even try in order to project an aura of composure and competence – it just came naturally to me, I suppose. But in this moment, all of that ability seemed to desert me.

The man looked up at me, and grinned. “Ah, Alex. Good to see you.” Continue reading

[AGttA] Chapter 8.4: The Summit

Continued from Chapter 8.3, here.

Read it from the beginning, starting here.

Axiom 8: Adapt to setbacks.  

I stood on the top of Mount Megiddo, the fabled ground zero of the Apocalypse, the mountain foretold in Biblical legend.  The wind whipped around me, pulling at my tattered clothes, cutting through the layers of insulation and hitting like knives against my bare skin.

“Now what?” I asked out loud, even though the words were stolen away by the ever-blowing wind.

A little part of me had hoped that, when I got to the top of the mountain (the real summit, not the false one), I’d find a sign of some sort.  Of course, I was thinking more of a circle of stones with crackling energy swirling inside of it, although I would have happily settled even for a real life sign, maybe one that said something like “Click your heels together three times to go to Heaven”.  

But instead, I saw nothing but rocks and desolation, the mountain sloping down and away from me in all directions. Continue reading

Just Like The Others

XR-378 trundled along, its treads crushing dried clods of dirt into powder as it rumbled along the rough, badly maintained track.

Once, this track had been paved with smooth asphalt, a road flat enough for XR-378’s wheeled brethren to glide along. Now, however, that asphalt had long since cracked and been crushed down by the bots with treads, and those with wheels could no longer traverse this way.

XR-378 moved along without concern, however, one large claw held up to protect the item it had gathered. Its protocols gave clear instructions on what to do next, and it couldn’t think of anything but obeying. Continue reading