The Breakening

An Expressions of Madness crossover. Long story short: I took a break from catching up on Nightmare Fuel when…


“Damnit…” I muttered. My throat and stomach were tight. Unlike the writing on my laptop which was lose and flaccid. Both, pathetic. I sighed. My spouse had filled the house with the reek of freshly-made lasagna. Not having had breakfast yet, the stench was overwhelming and more than a little distracting. But did they make breakfast? No. Of course not. Would they make breakfast? Never. Apparently on the pain of death.

I sighed, again, and set my laptop aside. I didn’t even know what I wanted. Just something quick and easy, I guess. Nothing was really appealing to me. Not even the lasagna, which was cooling on the counter. Hunger without a specific craving was so annoying. I spied an old box of cereal on the counter. There better be enough left in there… I shook the box. Just barely enough.

I was still looking at the box while I groped in the cabinet. The sudden explosion of white around me catching me completely by surprise. Flakes of ceramic of all sizes spread and drifted all around me like a demented Christmas snowfall. The sound, out of place, reached my conscious brain a moment later… the sharp chatter of fractured reality ringing around me like a bell. Above me, the volume of cereal bowls had been reduced by a third. Below and at level, God’s dandruff spread in an infinite field of albedo and broken jagged patterns.

“Are you alright?” they asked from the bathroom.

I stood in the dingy, stinking kitchen surrounded by the shattered remains of two dollar store cereal bowls.


Nightmare Fuel 2019, Day 6

Pre-prompt submission.

Expressions of Madness: Strange Road

I’ve seen bumper stickers with logos and graphics where it is clear that the creator and user mean them to be recognized, but they simply aren’t unless you are already familiar with them.

But there is a special level of that kind of thing. Today I saw one. It was a large sticker looking something like a police or construction tape with the yellow and black but oversized. It was on an ordinary white vehicle, something like a Ford Fusion, with no other particular labels or markings. The tape on the back read, “VEHICLE SPEED MONITORED BY GPS.”

This tape was also clearly placed over another similar label that clearly had different words on it but which could no longer be read.

My road experience was then followed by me driving behind an incredibly slow driving motorcylist who kept looking left, right, down, and into his mirrors. This gentlemen appeared to be in his 40s and the visible part of his face had the pouty, chiseled look of RoboCop.

Things seem strange on the road today.

Update: Soon after I wrote this, I was pulling out of a parking space when I noticed a car behind me pulling out of his parking spot across from me too close to me for comfort. Turns out, he was driving out of the perfectly good spot he was already parked in, to park in mine and make sure the other guy in the pickup truck couldn’t get the spot first.

Expressions of Madness: End of a Dream

An Expressions of Madness/Nightmare Fuel crossover.


Someone once told me that reality is just what we observe. That we determine what is real. And when I say somebody, I don’t really mean someONE, right? I mean those friends that maybe smoke a little much, or are a little too New Agey, or maybe this or that guru’s documentary or some such.

And if they aren’t talking about that in a general way, or maybe they get the vibe you’re not into the spiritual stuff, maybe they start to talk about quantum this or that, about human observation, and about infinite universes based on different choices we make.

I’ve always found this kind of talk far too anthropocentric for my taste, not that I care for it at all.

But I suppose you never know.

Maybe, just maybe, we are just a flock of crows pretending to be human and we’ll just change our minds and fly away someday.

Nightmare Fuel, Day 13

To Rule the Earth

When I was a kid I used to love a documentary called Planet of Life. I think it was from the Discovery Channel. I had it on VHS and I would watch it over and over and over again.

From that series, I’d learned that one of vertebrate’s oldest enemies was the long forgotten Anomalocaris. This beast would have been large enough to frighten human swimmers today, as it undulated and flapped through the water and reached out with its stubby claspers. Since it could bite through a trilobite, I’d imagine it could leave a nasty little wound on a swimmer, maybe nip off a toe if it wanted.

I’d also learned that little cells making oxygen and photosynthesis effectively destroyed the world and replaced it with a new one filled with creatures that had mutated to survive in a new toxic atmosphere. To this day, Earth’s original inhabitants are confined to the anaerobic layers of water, soil, mud… and animal bowels.

I discovered that even before that, some of those inhabitants had been absorbed into others… enslaved, or merged over time as over-dependent parasites or symbiotes.

Eventually plants filled the seas and the land, and on land they lead the mutants with them.

And when the corpses of plants burned, nearly all the mutants died.
Later, when the mutants had recovered and grown too big, the plants changed themselves into new forms. Flowers bloomed, deciduous trees replaced conifers and some of the largest of those beasts went extinct.

But the plants had a purpose for many of the survivors. They shaped them into sexual vehicles, into caregivers and vehicles.

Was it a coincidence that the last of those great beasts died as they started to adapted to eating the new forms?

Is it a coincidence that man happens to be a species that responds so well to the nutrition, scent, sight, and flavor of so so many of the new forms?

I read recently that scientists are now working on getting plants to grow in Lunar and Martian soils.

Nightmare Fuel 2017, Day 7

When We Make Our Own Traps

Instead of whining about how I don’t have a better tablet, I finally decided to sit down and just start using my cheapo Windows 10 tablet for art.

Isn’t it funny how we tell ourselves we need this or that special thing and if only we had that we would suddenly become more talented? I think most of us realize that, but it is easy to slip into that kind of thinking and just wallow and whine instead of actually getting better at something.

SPOILER ALERT: I’m totally guilty of this all the time.

It’s a huge time waster, self-confidence destroyer, and wallet-emptier.

I promise myself to let it go. At least a little bit.

headshot of young blue dragon, digital art

Robots don’t care

I find it pretty much impossible to think about robots without thinking about AI and about all the speculations about the Singularity or this and that. Of course, we are all familiar with ideas of robots and AI either being unfeeling, uncaring, human-destroying psychopaths or the benevolent and servile to humanity AI. But these both seem to imply some sort of thought process based in our own biology.

What if intelligence that isn’t backed by billions of years of reproductive and self-preservation instinct just doesn’t care at all if it lives or dies or has a purpose or not?


Based mostly on a true story. This is an Expressions of Madness and Nightmare Fuel crossover.

I’m not a paranoid sort of person. Sure, I joke sometimes about that kind of thing, or make exaggerated conspiracy claims for fun… but I’m not really paranoid. That first time I received an anonymous gift on my back step, I thought it was probably just the one neighbor I had talked to the other day across the street. We don’t talk much, but, every once in awhile we have an interaction about growing hops, or the one time I tried to rescue a juvenile grackle that had fallen and hurt itself in the driveway. That sort of thing.

I mean it was weird. After all, it had been days later and there was just this little mason jar on my back step, with some little flowers in it… bee balm, I think, but I don’t know much about flowers. I never went across the street to ask about it… they are across the street and one house down so it always seemed a little out of the way and awkward to ask. I just imagined myself, BANG BANG BANG on the door, “Hello! HELLO! DID YOU LEAVE THESE FLOWERS HERE?!” That’s not what people normally do, right? I’m pretty sure those are the neighbors that left the polite, anonymous, note complaining about my dog barking in the morning in the mailbox.

The neighbors on either side of me knew nothing. The rear neighbor, notoriously reclusive.

A year passed. Maybe two years. Hard to say for sure.

I was leaving for work, but as I was pulling out of the driveway I thought it would be a good idea to throw out some of the drink bottles and food wrappers from the car before they really started to accumulate. So, I stopped and opened the can. Someone had put a bunch of kitty litter pails in there. Since I moved in about 8 years ago I had noticed from time to time that someone was putting their garbage in my bin, but I never really caught them at it. Well, in any case, they are very neat and polite about it. If they had asked I wouldn’t have said no anyway.

Once, I saw an old man poking around in one of my neighbor’s garbages. It was years ago, back when I first moved in and didn’t know anyone or anything about the area. I didn’t take a particular note of it, but just enough to remember it. Not sure who the man was. I didn’t take note of his face, really. Maybe the man in the corner house, the one across from the one that collects old ambulances and plays horseshoes on the opposite side of the fence from his yard.

I don’t go out often. So I don’t see or speak to these people much.

The other day, I pulled out of my driveway and stopped because there was something I saw on my front step. I was already running late, but it was raining so I felt I needed to investigate what was on the porch. A little ceramic vase. The kind your grandmother might own, white with gold trim and red flowers. Full of the night’s rainwater, of course.

I wondered if perhaps it was a present from the old man using my garbage can. I usually fill up our can all the way to the top so he probably didn’t have much opportunity to use it lately. Maybe he leaves gifts and I never noticed before, never made the connection. But then, I can’t imagine he’s only used my garbage only twice?

The mysterious reclusive rear neighbor had since scolded me because, as it turns out, she enjoys staring out the window and our yards and my storage of old landscaping supplies behind the garage finally became unbearable. I became more reclusive myself… who wants to sit in their own backyard knowing that an angry old woman is staring at them at all hours of the day?

I had wanted to plant lilacs in the back, but a tall, unruly privacy hedge seems more and more attractive.

I wonder if I should bring the vase in. I never removed it from the step. Every day when I come home I make a note of it, scanning for any evidence that someone might have touched it. As if someone would just turn it this way or that. I fancied that it looks at me, too. That any day I would come home and it would be there, turned to face me. Eagerly awaiting me, like a doll in the leaves.


Nightmare Fuel 2016, Day 11

Selective Burn

I decided that today is a stuffed jalapeño day. While scraping out their innards, a prodigious amount of juice arched over my glasses and went into my eyes. In terror, I willed my eyes to water and cry to flush out the invading liquid to no avail. I waited for the burning to start. And waited.

And waited.


I was confused. Should I be upset that my jalapeños were not sufficiently spicy or relieved that I have been spared an eye burning fate? I pondered this question while I continued to prep food.

A cut near my fingernail started to sting.

By the time I was done with the food and dishes both hands were aflame. Washing dishes became unbearable. I mentally whipped myself to finish as much as I could. One question was resolved… I did not have to be upset that I got “bum” peppers.

However, my eyes have yet to burn.

The Tale of the Sweet Potato Pie that Wasn’t Meant to Be and May Not Ever Be

Rushing. Being distracted. The kid demanding yet another slice of bread with nutty topping.

You know what I mean.

Today was a day of sweet potato tragedy. First, was the discovery that many of my sweet potatoes had been sitting for a bit too long in unfavorable conditions. The merely wrinkly could be overlooked but those whose squishy liquid innards sloshed and churned in my hand could not. I convinced myself the remainder were acceptable. After all, I was more concerned with testing my new Instant Pot than with the results themselves or their quantity.

But soon I was in a quandary. As they cooked, I wondered what the end result of the sweet potatoes should be. A quick meander on the internet proposed sweet potato pie. After a simple process of finding a recipe that contained only ingredients I had (in other words, excluding evaporated milk and no more than 2 eggs), I began the preparations.

First disaster occurred during my first use of my new Oster Versa blender. I had purchased the unit with the food processor attachment. The pie crust initially formed as it should then suddenly was paste. It would not be until near the end of this adventure that I would realize I had the blender set to the wrong speed and perhaps added a tad too much water. Regardless, I shrugged off the malformed and sticky crust as irrelevant. This is not a dish for a restaurant, just a use for some sweet potatoes on the cusp of decoporealization.

Then, for the batter. I had placed every single ingredient into the Versa blending jar, including solid instead of melted butter in the trust that the blender would assist me with my little “solids” problem. I grabbed the carton of eggs from the fridge, opening them and promptly hurling the last two eggs to the floor.

I started at the gooey mess oozing into the tracks of my sliding door in a state of numb shock. Deep and penetrating questions filled my mind. Is this potato pie meant to be? Followed by What deity controls pies?

Do pies have meaning?

Do I have meaning?

What is meaning?

Questions then quickly deemed unresolvable and the pie deemed a failure, I began to clean up the mess. As it turns out, sticky raw egg possesses some phenomenal properties in regards to eliminating stubborn grunge built up in sliding door tracks.

Slowly this discovery bolstered my confidence. I was able to recall that there are vegan substitutes for eggs. Once the door was cleaned I examined several options online. I opted for a bit of flour and a couple small handfuls of tofu.

It blended into something smooth and creamy in the Versa. I poured the beautiful silky mixture into my lumpy and craggy pie shell and placed it in the oven, setting the timer soon after.

I don’t know what is happening there in the oven.

I only know something either beautiful or unspeakable awaits… For me.

The stare

The sky was so cloudy it was impossible to tell it was cloudy. It was simply a solid sheet of dark grey and black, except for one spot where the moon was visible. The wisps of cloud formed a harsh scowling face that glared down at me with the luminous cylopsian eye of an angry god.

That was my morning.