Wednesday, January 30, 2013

You Damned Kids by Steve Ormosi

I've always been fascinated with dark carnival stories.  Thought I'd try my hand at a short one.  Turns out I like being able to come up with a few characters and just be able to plop them in some sort of situation that just makes no sense... and then giving them a really shitty guide through it.


We drank black wine and mumbled obscenities to each other as the day slunk away and the night blossomed.  Darius smoked a clove cigarette while we stood, the wisps of smoke curling away over our heads like escaping spirits.  Anka and Obsidia tittered amongst themselves, black makeup coating their faces.  And I.  I smiled the whole time.  Knowing what I knew, I couldn’t help it.  It was the carnival of sin, the carnival of souls, of death, of destruction.  It was darkness made real.  And though I did not know which of my friends might emerge whole, I could be sure we’d all understand each other better by the end.

The night began in earnest as we rushed through the gates, skillfully decorated to ward off the pure.  A midget dressed in a deep purple vest and top hat greeted us with vigor.

“Step right through, you lost, you damned,” he said, “The carnival begins tonight, and who knows how long it will be in town?”

We all but ignored the small man’s screeching and headed straight for the fun house.  Of all my friends, I was the only one who had been to the last carnival and they knew that I would be there to guide them.  What they could not know was that one cannot be guided through the carnival any more than one can be guided through their own soul.  I had tried to warn them, but I knew that they would not understand.  I didn’t begrudge them for their ignorance.  I’d been the same as them once.

Anka drew close to me as we neared the fun house, “What’s in there?” she asked with some trepidation.

I pointed to her chest and replied, “What’s in there?”

She withdrew coldly and linked arms with Darius, whispering to him, as they followed me through the inner threshold.

Obsidia was at the rear and I looked back at her, “Don’t stay there.  The back is always the worst.”

She quietly moved up next to me and slid her arm around mine.  That was not what I’d intended by the comment but I could not say that I didn’t enjoy the sensation of feeling her warmth on my side.  She looked up at me innocently and I returned the gesture, though I knew it was empty.

As we got to the mirrors, the world seemed to shift.  Things became gray and hazy, as though we had entered a fog.  Obsidia and I looked into the mirror before us as one, I can only imagine what she saw.  As for me, that image of us swallowing each other, Ouroboros-like, scrawled itself into my brain.  I tried to turn away, but the mirror would not let me.  Not until I heard the scream. 

At first I thought, it must be Anka, but I looked behind me and it was Darius on the ground clawing his way backwards, away from the mirror, eyes fixed on the place his reflection had been.  He was still letting out a glass-shattering scream, “TAKE HER, NOT ME!  NEVER AGAIN!” He was pointing at Anka.  Tears began to roll down her cheeks as she stared at him.

“What’s wrong with him?” Anka asked, “What did he see?”

“I don’t know,” I replied honestly.  “And I don’t think he’s going to tell us.”

Darius had finally scratched his way to the back wall and had gone fetal.  Anka walked up to me, “I don’t like this place,” she said, “We need to leave.”

“You’re being tested,” I told her, “We’re all being tested.”

I expected Obsidia to back Anka up, but she was conspicuously quiet.  She had let go of my arm and was simply staring into our mirror.  Her slack jawed expression reminded me of a mental patient in the grips of her medication.  I reached up to hold her, but her hand snatched mine from the air.

“Don’t touch me.”  She said quietly.  “Don’t ever touch me.”

I snatched my hand back, alarmed at first, but that swiftly turned into knowing acceptance.  Then I turned back to Anka, “See?  Obsidia understands.”  I put my arm around Anka’s shoulder’s gently, “Come on, let’s look together.”  I heard Darius softly weeping in the corner, but I ignored it.  He would be ok or he would not.  There was nothing I could do for him now.

Anka allowed me to guide her back to the mirror, but as soon as she pulled her chin up to look, she turned away.

“Look at it,” I whispered in her ear, “How will you see who you are if you don’t look?”

“I don’t want to know who I am anymore.” She protested.  “I want to go home.  Obsidia, let’s get out of here.”

“No,” Obsidia said, “I’m not going anywhere.  It’s my test.”

“Jenn,” Anka said, reverting to Obsidia’s mundane given name, “I’m scared.  Please.”

“No,” Obsidia said again.

“Well I’m leaving,” said Anka tearing herself out of my arms.  With that she ran out.  I never saw her again.  She wasn’t worthy of me.  Of us.

Obsidia remained glued to her mirror and I picked a new one to stare into for the rest of the night.

By the next morning we sprawled on the ground stone faced and exhausted from the previous night’s visions.  We picked ourselves up and walked out of the fun house with Darius in tow, mumbling obscenities only to himself now, barely audible and completely unintelligible.  The carnival workers were packing up, as though this whole production had been only for us and now that we had seen what we’d come to see, there was no reason for them to stay.

They took Darius to an asylum a few days later, when it was clear he’d had a breakdown.  Obsidia and I have spoken every day since, but never of what we saw in those mirrors.  Life has become increasingly boring.  These days all I can do is brood and wait for the next carnival.  

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Road Tripper by Steve Ormosi

This was a story I wrote shortly after watching Natural Born Killers.  Obviously I'm not Tarantino, but I liked this story and it throws a twist on the classic two people running from the law formula.  I think I named the characters the way I did for the one joke in the 4th paragraph.  If the story was a little bit longer and I'd had more time to think about it, I might have changed that, but on a fresh read through, I don't think I mind it much.  It's important to have some fun with your characters, right?


We’d left three days previous with no idea where to go, but a burning need to get there.  Jill, Jack and me, Johnny, we were quite a threesome.  In those first days we stopped everywhere we could, taking pictures like mad while we hopped, hummingbird-like, from place to place.  It was an adventure that was admittedly grim in origin, but we were determined to have fun.

Road trip “largests” from the first three days:
Ball of rubber bands
Pizza (twice, in two different spots)
Dog (Jack said he’s seen bigger)
Stretch of road between bathrooms (unofficial, but I’m calling Guinness)

Eventually we broke down and coughed up the money for a hotel room.  That was last night, now we’re picking up and getting ready to get on the road again.

Jack and Jill go up the hill to fetch a pack of cigarettes while I wait in the car with the window down staring into the sun, daring it to blind me.  Eventually, I relent and throw my sunglasses on and light a joint.  Through the large, blue amoeba in my vision, I see a man approaching me.

“Howdy,” he says as he nears.

“’Lo,” I shoot back, “Nice day, huh?”

“Always a nice day when you’re making money.” He says as the image of him resolves a bit more.  Then I notice he is pulling a gun from his waistband. 

I become hyper-aware of every detail around me.  How had I let my guard down so horrendously?  I bite down on the jay and reach for my own gun but it’s a bit too far and he says, “Hey, hey, hey.  Slow it down there, Dirty Harry.  Just pass me your wallet and we won’t have any brains on the dash.”  Wisps of smoke tickle my nostrils as I reach for my pocket, slowly, and try not to audibly breathe my sigh of relief.  Only a hold up, I think to myself.  Thank god.

As I’m handing the would-be-robber my wallet, there is a bang.  Time slows down in situations like this.  One has time to take in all of the details of one’s environment.  Brain is on my lips.  I taste the blood and gray matter of the man robbing me.  His hand remains for a moment, comically outstretched, to receive my wallet, though a glance at his face shows, with no question, that his lights are out.  By the time he starts to slump, I’ve ducked and kicked myself to the other side of the car, desperately reaching for my gun.  I know it is under the seat, but it’s strapped in.  After what seems like eternity but is probably in the range of three to four seconds, the strap relents and the gun falls into my hand.  I pull it out and whirl to the window where I see…

…Jill with her gun pointed back at me.  I put my arms down at my side and laugh.  She winks at me and says, “We better get going, Daytripper.  I’m sure someone heard that one and we can’t be long for the fuzz.”

“Who says ‘fuzz’ anymore?”  Jack asks, climbing into the driver’s seat, “Get in, slowpoke.”

“Shut up, Jackie.”  Jill spits back as she opens the door and enters the car.

I’m still laying on the ground giggling to myself, almost out of breath, “Took you long enough,” I manage to get out between spasms.

“They didn’t have my brand,” Jill says as Jack puts the car into reverse.  We pull out of the parking lot and set back out on the highway.

I wipe the insides of my attacker off of my face and pull myself up onto the seat, picking the joint up from where it has fallen on the floor as I go.  We’re on our way again, back into the great beyond.

Days pass and we avoid hotels from then on.  The stick up was a wakeup call to us.  We need to be more careful.  Sleeping in the car is uncomfortable, but it definitely beats a double tap to the temple.  We keep up our site seeing though.

Road trip “Bests” eaten along the way:
Waffles (This might’ve even been true)
Hot Dogs
Egg Salad
Pizza (Not even close)

This is the sixth night of our little road trip and I'm on the lookout.

I stare off into the darkness from my perch on the hood of the car.  I hear Jack snoring away inside and grimace.  It is about an hour until his shift and I am counting every minute.  The passenger side door opens and Jill steps out.

“Hey, Johnny, how’s it going out here?”

I turn to her, “Slow.  What are you doing up?”

“Can’t sleep,” Jill says, “You figure out where we’re going yet?  You know we have to find a way across the border.”

“Yeah, I know.  That border is Swiss cheese, it won’t be a problem.”

She nods, “Think they’ll stop looking for us when we get there?”

“No idea,” I say, “Let’s just get there first.”

Something stops me.  “Did you hear that?” I ask.

“Hear wha…” Jill twists left and yells out in pain.

I jump behind the car and pound on the door, “Jack, wake the hell up.  We’re in it.  Get down and grab your gun.”  I grip my own gun and slowly peek my head out.  A bullet ricochets off the ground feet from my head and I jump back behind cover.

“Jill, you alright, girl?” I ask.

“Pretty fuckin far from alright, Johnny,” she moans.

Then we hear a yell, “Johnny!  I know you’re out there.  Might as well give yourselves up.  You’re surrounded.”

So this is how it ends, me and the gang going out blasting.  Well, we’re sure as hell gonna take as many of these bastards with us as we can.

Road trip scenic landmarks:
Mount Rushmore
Grand Canyon
Four Corners
Pueblo Ruins
Site of the famous last stand of Johnny, Jack and Jill.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

My Christmas Toast

I wanted to have this readily available, if I ever need to reference it again.  This seems like as good a place as any.

A Christmas Toast by Steven Ormosi

A toast! A toast!
To Christmas time cheer
A toast to the world!
A toast to the here!

A toast to the hostess
And hostees, and host!
A toast to the one who
Eats fastest and most!

A toast to the hors d’oeuvres!
A toast to the booze!
A toast to the dinner!
And post dinner snooze!

A toast to us cousins!
And the rest of you too,
Who raised us and taught us
Not to toast without you!

A toast to the wall!
A toast to the floor!
A toast to the fire!
A toast to the door!

A toast to the Earth!
And the sun and the stars in the sky!
A toast to the present, the past and the pie!

And the future too!

A toast to the jetpacks!
A toast to the wormholes!
A toast to the unwritten beauty
This life holds!

Yes!  Raise up your glass!
Raise up your chalice!
And toast to my
Lexicographical prowess!

I may be getting off topic here…You see
When I combine
In real and slant rhyme
I tend to regress
To an incomprehensible mess
Half-poet at best
I’ve found that I’ve always been better at Chess
…I digress

A toast!

A toast to our love!
A toast to our lives!
A toast to this toast
Not seeming contrived!

A toast for all those
No longer here
Remembering you
Always keeps you near.

A toast to this day!
With family and friends!
A toast to tradition!
Beginnings and ends!

A toast to us braving
The miles and the weather!
It’s always worth toasting
When we toast together!

Cold and Hot by Steve Ormosi

Challenge week 6 was about coming up with some flash fic about cryogenic freezing. I went about this one in a very top-down way.  This is kind of a full on overview of all of the events that the perfection of cryogenic freezing led to.  You know, in my crazy head.  I hope you like.


In the wake of the perfection of cryogenic freezing, science came under a barrage of criticism that divided the nation and eventually, the world.  A large swath of the population believed that freezing was morally abhorrent.  It was mocking death, the ultimate equalizer.  They called themselves the Naturals.  

Those that opposed them were known as the Lifers (a shortening of the Long Lifers).  The Lifers were constantly protecting their equipment from Natural attack and even though they had smaller numbers, they tended to have, procure, or even create more advanced and effective technology.

One day a Natural managed to break into a cryo facility and shut down the power to the whole building.  Twelve frozen Lifers died from inadequate life support, including a revered scientist and former leader of the Lifer movement. The gauntlet was considered thrown.

At first there were small skirmishes, mostly centered around scientific facilities, but eventually the Lifers decided to go on the offensive.  On Sunday, April 5th of that first year, there were 12 simultaneous explosions throughout the United States, all churches.  200 people were killed and almost 1000 injured as the blasts were timed to go off during Mass.  The government tried to impose military peacekeeping laws, but since both sides of the blossoming hostilities were spread throughout the country, it was of almost no use at all.

Natural leadership prepared to respond to the church bombings.  They arranged for suicide bombings in several key locations.  The first strike hit a rally that was campaigning for further education on the virtues of cryogenic freezing and stem cell organ replacement.  The rally ended in a shower of body parts that left 12 dead and 25 more in the hospital.  A second bombing happened that same day at an abortion clinic, three young women, two of whom were carrying unborn children, were killed along with a doctor.  A week later, a 23 year old public relations professional was caught trying to gain entrance to the largest cryo lab in the US with five pounds of C-4 strapped to her chest.  When she was discovered at the gate outside, she tried to detonate her payload, however, she was shot and killed by one of the guards before she was able to.

The leader of the Lifers, a man named Salvatore Desario, refused to back down, saying in a speech the day after the failed cryo lab bombing, “The Church’s power comes at the cost of knowledge for its citizens.  Let others believe that ignorance is bliss.  Soon they will know that ignorance bears its own price.  Soon they will understand the cost of civilization.”  This thinly veiled threat would manifest itself in short order.

A string of seemingly isolated beatings happened outside of a series of churches in the Midwest in July.  Eventually a pattern emerged that, when viewed on a map, seemed to create a picture of the radiation symbol.  At first, authorities believed this to be a threat of the use of nuclear weapons.  It would later turn out that the Lifers were simply using it as the symbol of their cause.

That realization would not sink in until after a government raid of a warehouse, in which they believed the Lifers to be storing nuclear material.  Everyone in the warehouse, most of whom were not involved in either side of the hostilities, was killed.  This information has not been public until very recently due to a high level classification surrounding the raid.  Even now, almost 70 years later, the government still has not released all the details of that day.

The Lifers railed against the dangerous Church theocracy.  The Naturals (who were quick to point out that they weren’t all Christians) spoke of the dangers of tampering with the laws of death.  Publically, the Vatican decried the events and all but declared a new Holy War against the unbelievers.  Droves of atheists across Europe attended rallies of various levels of violence.  Those of a more Natural bent found ways to insert themselves into several of the rallies and released anthrax into statistically significant portion of the Lifer population.  The resulting terror led many to stay home from work for weeks, nearly crippling the Euro.

These events later led to an all out war between the two sides.  Governments were completely inefficient at stifling the battles and often times even chose sides, leading to a larger, and more sustainable, conflict.  Then, in the third year, a new Natural leader named Jeremiah First finally signed a peace treaty with the Lifers.  This led to a stand down between warring countries as well.  In the religious community, the man was hailed as the second coming of Jesus Christ.  The peace that he was able to broker has stood the test of time and there have been no further hostilities to this day.

First was a great man, the world has never seen his equal.  That was never more proven than when he decided that the best way to end the petty hatreds that were still perpetuated at the end of the war was to sacrifice himself.  He left specific instructions on how to carry on and instill hope in our neighbors and the world around us, but was silent on matters pertaining to his own demise.  The next day with the whole world watching, he held a press conference with Salvatore Desario and a man few knew before then, but is a household name now, Peter Hale. Before anyone knew what was happening, Hale, a scientist and lifelong friend of First’s, had begun the freezing process.  We now know that Hale left specific instructions to have First unfrozen 68 years later, that being the longest frozen period that the technology of the time would safely allow. 

The day has finally arrived, and we are almost finished with preparations to unfreeze our Savior.  Jeremiah is coming back to us.  Ladies and gentlemen, prepare yourselves for the Third Coming.