Ryan Chani

come into my world and take a look around

The Great Woods

My ears perked up at the sound. Not quite animal, not quite human, but all too intriguing. I flipped my brim back down, lowered my rifle and took my next step. Making sure to give the sticks and leaves a little push before planting my foot. Can’t be too loud, the hunted have good hearing.

The more they stay out on their own, the more at one they become with their surroundings. Hell, if I snapped a branch I bet they’d feel it.

Since the Exile they haven’t affected us “norms” much, but knowing what they’ve done and that they’re still breathing the same air, assuming they breathe, just irks me.

I don’t want to share. Not with the likes of them. Not after everything that’d gone on for far too long.

It still boggles my mind to think about all the wasted lives throughout the years that could have been saved if we saw these... “things” for what they truly were sooner. But no. Because they came into this world the same way we did, they were thought to be human. We gave them so many chances. Too many chances. But they would just spit it all right back in our faces and keep doing what they do.

Rape, murder, mutilation, assault (if you were lucky), the list goes on and my stomach weakens with every example. They didn’t care if you were man, woman, child, infant, elderly, dying due to natural causes (or their causes) they’d treat your body like the most fucked up carnival ride you could imagine.

I read each report, the play by play of how the forensic teams determined how each attack went down. Horrible.

But you never really grasp the extent of it until it happens to your family. Your loved ones. People that you’ve held close in times of need, both yours and theirs. The people whose presence alone provided comfort.

No time to go down that path. Been down there far too many times. Can’t get my usual out of body experience. Not while on the hunt.

Have to concentrate on my steps. Scanning the woods for figures. They can sneak right up on you if you’re not careful.

After so many cases of attacks being reported, authorities knew they had to step in. Really it was more the fact the Attorney General’s wife was added to the body count about four years ago.

They left her sprawled out on the hood of his Benz. Used the hood ornament to destroy all her holes and then each had a go themselves. There were five assailants. They usually travel in packs. Group play is more fun for them.

Groceries all over the driveway. A whole rotisserie chicken crammed into her mouth. A quart of milk in her ass. You can look at that as the stamp of approval for the Segregation Law that was passed shortly after.

People can only be pushed so far before their instincts that got them through evolution kick in. The will to survive and only the strong survive. But since we couldn’t fight back physically, we fought back legally. With these “people” taking out a whole slew of loved ones, I’m surprised they weren’t all put to death. I guess they were in a way.

To avoid wasting the tax dollars of the people that had been stripped of their family members, the public thought it best to forgo the prisons.

What was put into place was a gathering for a cleanse. All individuals found guilty of brutal crimes were placed under arrest, charged and shipped off to The Great Woods.

There they stay, away from society, until hunting season starts.

Then for a small fee of $2,000 you can get a weekend pass to hunt as many degenerates as your heart desires. Small price to pay for redemption.

So now I’m here, making my way through The Great Woods looking for anything that reminds me of my losses, so I can get a win.

This is my fourth weekend of the season. Nothing keeping me home anymore. Got rid of the house and moved into a small one bedroom apartment. The money I got from the sale will keep my weekends active for some time. Also, got me my trusty Betty Boom Boom, she’s my gun. Was drunk off the good stuff and etched that into the barrel. Not the best name, but I’ll stick to my decisions. Drunk or sober, I follow through on my choices.

A few sheets to the wind right now as a matter of fact. But that’s not what got me out of bed. Nothing could keep me away from this heaven.

With whiskey on my breathe and hate in my heart I push on.

Haven’t come across my true kill yet. 5’6”, 185 lbs., dirty blonde shaggy hair, brown left eye and a green right. I’ll know him when I see him. They say none of the “others” recall their kills. No remembrance of the faces they attack or care for the families they affect. But they remember the feeling of the act, and that’s what drives them.

When I find my ultimate trophy I’ll make the memories come back. I want to see its recollection of what happened when I snub out its thoughts for good.

For an extra $1,500 you can bring a head home as a souvenir. They have cheaper options too. Finger or toe keychains $100, teeth necklace $150, eyeball paperweight $50, meat from the body $25/lb.

I think I’ll take the head, the eyes (of course) and 50 lbs of meat. Will cook it all at once, make a plate for my wife and son too. This will be the replacement for all the holiday meals I’ll never have with them again.

Kill count is up to 15, five for each outing. But haven’t gotten my Moby Dick. I know he’s still out there. I always check kill logs and nothing has mentioned the eyes. They wouldn’t leave that detail out.

I can feel him in the air. My body knows it has unfinished business.

This week I’m exploring a new section of The Great Woods. Decided to jump to Quadrant 8. Been through Quadrants 1, 3 and 5 so far. Judging by the kills, those quadrants are for the freshly shipped.

Colder here in Q8, different than the other places. Each Quadrant has a different level of difficulty, I guess you could say. They move through the ranks of survival. My Everest has been in here for the full three and a half years. It’s most likely adapted. Stronger, more in tune with its surroundings. More comfortable with kills.

Only downfall of these “people” is they don’t kill each other. They don’t fear death and the smell of fear is the main ingredient for their drive.


I go still. Noise came from my 6 o’clock. Haven’t checked behind me in some time. Stupid.

I move Betty up to my eye. Using the dentist mirror attached to my scope I can see a figure approaching. Low to the ground.

60 yards away. Not close enough for visual confirmation.

This quadrant is definitely more advanced. Never had to deal with a bogey on my back before.

I’m up for the challenge. Feels good to be hunted. I’m sure it’s kill count is higher than any other I’ve faced yet.

50 yards away. Need to hold.

Teeth are filled down to points. Tongue bitten out, no need to talk when you just want to kill. No last words for this villain, just death.

Still can’t see eyes behind its hair. The Great Woods must not have barbers. I hold my position as it approaches. Still believing it has the upper hand.

Need to see those eyes before acting. It’s not getting off with just a bullet hole if it’s my Everest.

45 yards away. Hold.

Foam fresh around its mouth. The face doesn’t look as human as it had before The Exile.

30 yards away. Hold.

Deep breath in... 3... 2... 1... Both Brown.

Turning, exhaling as I do. Moving closer to the ground. One shot. Right between the wrong colored eyes.

I begin to make my way to the freshly made mess, slinging Betty over my shoulder. I’ll take his teeth, “human” shark necklace is in my future. How could I pass that up?

Leaning over the lump on the ground I unsheath my blade. Bone blade. Perfect for cutting through my problems.

I start to scalp baby brownie when I feel a hit. Came from my right. Clever girl. Betty goes flying.

I’m on my back and it’s atop me. Snarling and grabbing for my throat. There is blood in my eyes from the hit, but I can see it’s face. Looks like bark. Lips chapped with chunks bitten off. Teeth chomping towards my face, spit dangling over me. Breath like a heater blowing out of a porta potty. Knotted hair covering its eyes.

A flashback blinds me. The faces of my wife and son. We are on the dock during our lake vacation. Both smiling up at me. FLASH. Their faces go bloodied.

I come to, losing hold of its right hand and it jams its fingertips into my side. Each nail sharp enough to penetrate my hunting jacket. The feeling of pressure on my kidney is intense. This one knows what it’s doing.

I lay there, starting to get weak.

It pulls its hand away with a fist full of me. The pain is excruciating.

I lose hold completely and it starts to claw at my body like a dog trying to dig a hole for its brand new bone.

The only thought flooding my mind is that I now know how my wife and son felt at their last moments.

As the darkness starts to take over my vision our pupils make contact. Then I see its eyes. Left brown, right, green. It seems to recognize my expression and its feast-hole twists into what looks like a smirk.

Its face shoots down towards mine. “I’ve been waiting for you. Time for a family reunion.” It whispers in my ear. Then sinks its teeth into my jugular.

I guess there are memories behind those eyes after all.


Short Stories to Get the Mind Going #7 - "Head Voice"

Well well well, here we are again, starting a post off with me saying I should have done this earlier, but my schedule has prevented me.  I'm sick of this song and dance... let's just not set expectations here, agree?  I'll put my stuff out when I do and you come enjoy it when you can. 

ok, happy we got that outta the way.

now onto this story! 

This free write was an interesting one for me.  i really liked the concept as it was coming out of me during the session, then the end came and i thought it really came together nicely! 

The artist I reached out to collaborate with me is sensational, Mr. Joe Karg, out of Atlanta caught my eye due to his stellar work on comedy posters.  After we connected on Twitter i was able to see more of his work and was completely blown away by the talent he has.  Please take the time to check out his Website and lose yourself in the world he creates every time he puts pen to paper.  You can also check out Joe on his Instagram


The phone wouldn't stop ringing.  

At this time of night i bet it’s someone just trying to sell me something or get my opinion on some hard hitting topics, like if taxis were sports cars, would i be more likely to use them over Uber?  I’ll let it go to voicemail.  

-5 minutes later-

i cant believe it’s still ringing… whats up with my voicemail!?!  “FINE! HELLO!!”  I screamed into the receiver while put it to my ear. 

“Hey…”  says a stranger.  

“Hello?”  their tone is very off putting for these types of calls.  “Hey…”  they say again, “wake up…”

within an instant i was brought back to reality,  sitting up in my bed.  wait… i start to feel around… ya, my bed.  i let out a sigh as i realize its only 4:30am, “that was a weird dream…”

“You can say that again” came the same voice that was my REM wake up call.  startled, i look around to find who’s intruding in my room.  no one…

“Who’s…” i say with a little crack in my voice, showing my nervousness.  clearing my throat, “Who’s there?”  that came out deeper then i anticipated, but i think it was effective.

“No one” came the voice again.

“What? Where are you!?!” still scanning the room for any shapes that could be the source of the voice.  I flip on my nightstand lamp… still nothing.

“I’m right here” the voice says smugly


“OK… look in the mirror.”  

“I don’t have time for games!  I'm getting my gun if you don't come out!”

“No need to do that.  Just do what I'm saying.  look in the mirror.”  

I turn to the mirror which takes up a majority of the wall next to my bed. looking in the mirror I only see a dumbfounded yours truly…  No sign of anyone else.

“Look real hard” the voice continues.  “Look yourself in the eyes.  Don't blink.  Don’t lose sight of your retinas.  Concentrate on the darkest part of your cornea.”

Staring, for what felt like hours, i finally say, “i don't see anything.  just me.”

“Exactly! That’s all i really am.”

“OK!  FUCK YOU!  COME ON OUT DAMN IT!”  i had enough.  so happy my voice didn't crack for that…

“I know this is a hard thing for you to understand.  Because i am you.  I’m all your real thoughts and feelings.  The parts of you that you repress so you can float through your daily life with a smile on your face.  Figured its about time we met.”

“…this…wha…this is a little much… what…”  i thought hard trying to formulate the right words.

“you don't need to find the right words.  (crunch… crunch) i already know what you’re feeling about the situation.  (crunch) save your breath.”  says the voice.

“Are you eating?  Better yet… how are you eating?”  each crunch echoes louder in my head.  

“Just (crunch) found (crunch) some stuff (crunch)…”


“…laying around…(crunch)”  the voice continued.  

my jaw hurts…

“you going to eat that? (crunch)”  said the voice.  a little softer this time.  the crunching seems to be affecting my ability to hear.

“i dont know what you’re asking about… are you pointing at something?  i cant see you”  my vision begins to blur.

“that, right over… ahhh screw it.  if you don't know what i’m talking about, then you wont miss it.”  (Crunch!)

“AHHHH!  what was that!?!”  the pain came with a quick stab, then faded to a dull throb.  

“Oh nothing” (Crunch!)

“AHHHHH!  Stop!”  that time was sharper.  bringing the feeling to a peak of almost unbearable proportions.  

“See (crunch) the reason I'm finally able to communicate with you (crunch) is the fact you have been pushing so much of your actual feelings down (crunch) that i’ve grown.”

the pain has almost paralyzed me.  i lay in the fetal position on my bed squeezing my temples as if I'm trying to pop the top of my head like a pimple.  hoping to spew the agony puss out.  

(Crunch) “Once i was big enough to communicate.  i realized that if i held off, then you would continue your repression (crunch) causing me to grow even more (crunch).  My hopes were to eventually take over your consciousness then i could repress you and begin my life.”

The crunching pain is increasing.  every one fills my head.  i begin to try and think of a way out. if the voice is actually a part of me then… (crunch!)

the thought was gone… i see white… then the room begins to appear slowly… i see my hand thats now pulled away from my face… its red…

“i don’t believe you…”  i feel the vibrations in my mouth as the words come out, but i don't know if i actually got the right phrases off my tongue.  

“No use in trying to think now (crunch) its too late.  Where was i? (crunch) oh yes! after i started to devise the plan to take over.  I figured out that all your memories are just these little chips (crunch) waiting for you to store them somewhere.  If the chip is good, you place it in your mental “bag” thats kept in your memory pantry for later use (crunch)  However, if the chip is bad, you threw it into your mental “trash bin”.  This should be taken out at least once every few years.  If not, then you could attract rats (crunch)”

my left eye is useless now… my ears are ringings like a fire alarm was tripped…

“i’m that rat… i’ve eaten all your trash thoughts.  (crunch) now I'm looking for the good chips.”

are my legs there?  i cant feel them…  id take my hands off my head to try and touch them, but my arms aren't reacting the way i want them too.

“the unfortunate part is i wont be able to take over your body once this is done.  i’ve grown too hungry to care about differentiating what parts of your brain i should eat (crunch) i figure id go down with the ship. like the noble captain i would of been.”

it doesn't even feel like I'm breathing anymore…  

“i’ve been trapped in your head for most of your life now.  stuck there watching you second guess every decision, question every detail.  it’s an incarceration i was never going to get out of.   i guess we can look at this as my last meal.”



Short Stories to Get the Mind Going #6 - "Bag-A-Bond"

Well... I'm a little late for the month of March, but at least I am still putting one out!  That's right!  i still have these GD stories to put out there and artists that are willing to use their talents for this madness. 

With this story, I have to admit, I cheated the initial format... please don't hold that against me.  See with all the other stories that have been placed out thus far, I have just sat, wrote one sentence off the top of my head, then wrote a story where I had no idea how the ending was going to come about (that being said, please don't judge the grammar or anything English 101 oriented)

For this installment i reached out to an artist/comedian that, regrettably, i was not as familiar with in comedy as others in the past.  What had happened is another artist mentioned that i should check out his stuff and i really enjoyed his Instagram (which i highly recommend if you like this story) after i wrote this story, and that is Boston's Killian AcAssey . after seeing his art i couldn't have thought of a better person to try and get this story across visually.



the wind is harsh.  something ill never get used to, even with 11 years of it stalking me on the streets under my belt.  

this night was one for the books.  not only is it the 5 year anniversary of my heart breaking, but its the anniversary of my sobriety too.  one thing that pushes me towards the bottle, and one that keeps me away.  sobriety… I'm probably the only beggar on these streets not taking my “earnings” to the corner store for a 40oz.  

sitting here, shaking in the wind, minimal change in my cup jingling together like a Styrofoam maraca.  my head is down, just staring at the mind numbing amount of shoes scurrying by.  all pointed in better directions then i took.  

time to warm up the hand.  I place my currency chalice on the ground so it is still available to the 1 out of 20 people that decide they can spare some legal tender.  it sits there, staring back at me.  every now and then the metal catches the headlights of passing cars just right so it glimmers in my eyes.  the same feeling i got as a child, staring into the wishing well i used to throw my fathers change into.  these days my wish would be to have all that change back.

not blinking… remembering… CRASH!!!

a freshly polished black shoe appears in my vision as it quickly kicks the cup holding my livelihood for the night.  the shoe is on a foot, attached to a dapper gentleman in a tux, who is attached to an even better looking female in an all red, tight, knee length dress, covered by a crop top style mink.  they laugh as they stumble by, not even noticing the money they just strewn about the sidewalk.  

their laughs echo in my psyche while they continue on their merry way...

I raise up.  knees/back cracking into position. 

now i follow.

3 blocks go by and they have been like a pair of gutter balls in a lane with bumpers.  zig zagging from store front to curb.  maintaining the level of laughter they came into my life with.  

she fumbles with her purse for a moment while the gentleman bounces slightly off a light post.  i see something fall. 

when i get to the drop zone its looking at me like an invitation.  their hotel room key card.  

the Wynn Hotel.  high rollers i presume.  going to be a better payoff then just satisfaction at this point.  I cant help but smirk.

now that i know their destination i can hang back even further.  the blatant difference between life styles cant go unnoticed forever.

they arrive at the hotel.  i enter shortly after.  the woman is looking through her purse, presumably for the key, still laughing. 

i don't even want to know what the joke was at this point…

“Baby… oh nooooooo… sad face (which she said verbally) i cant find the key”

“Hahahaha no worries lets go get another one.” the gentleman responds while whipping away tears of pure life happiness

“How can i help you?” the hotel desk attendant says as they drop their elbows on the counter and place their hands under their chins.

“we seem to have misplaced our door key good sir!” the gentleman says with a pointed finger thrusting to the stars to emphasizes the “good sir”

“lost or stolen?” says the desk man.

“oh baby” the woman says as she gives a playful slap to the gentleman’s shoulder “we must of given it to Bev and her husband so they can join us tomorrow.”

“great memory hun! you might as well just make a duplicate for us so our other halves don't lose access to room 4682.” says the gentleman

“as you wish” remarks the desk help as he swipes a fresh card and hands it over.

they stumble their way through the lobby and into the elevator.  Once the door shut I made my move, keeping my eye on the floor count to see where they land.  No time, i need to start climbing. 

While walking by the front desk i can hear the clerk tell the bellhop, “Things might get pretty frisky for the guests in 4682.”  As they laugh i cant help but mutter, “Frisky is one way to put it…”

I make my way to the stairwell to begin my ascent.  With every floor my eagerness grew.  There hasn't been anything in my life to look forward to the past 5 years, but now floor 46 is calling me.

I get to floor 19 and decide to take the elevator from here.  The walk should of provided our sloshed love birds enough time to get into some sort of compromising position.  

Floor 46, my Graceland.  Now to find room 4682…  Bingo.

I press my ear to the door.  minor giggles can be heard.  sounds like they are away from the door.  Sliding the card in with held breathe the click of the latch is quiet.  the room is dark by the door, but the bed area is illuminated.  The giggles sound childish in a way…  Rounding the corner of the entrance way i see a shape standing in the corner, staring, then black…

waking up to strange situations is something you get used to when you’re on the streets.  You’re instincts get your body ready before you even have to open your eyes.  But as i start coming to my instincts were telling me to never wake up.

with my first glimpse of light my eyes start to focus.  bright lights.  two silhouette lean in.  trying to move my lips, i cant feel anything.  then the first slap.  felt that…

“HELLLLLOOOOO!!!!” the shapes say in a high pitched unison.

My eyes focus on their leaned in faces, or at least what they wanted to be faces for now.  The one on the right had what looked to be the unstuffed head of a teddie bear, the fur hanging their like stretched out skin.  The friend to the left enjoyed looking at me through the crotch hole in a pair of tighty whities to which they had sharpied the face of a sad clown on.  

now the second slap.  also in unison… for some reason it wasn’t as painful.

“What, (cough, cough) What’s going on (cough) here?” i manage to get out before slap three lands. Less pain...

“Nothing much!  just having a slap happy time of a time here!”  giggles teddie.

slap four.  Numb…

“Who are you? Why is this happening?”

“Whhhhhy is this happeninggggggg?” mocked the crotch clown as he pretends to wipe tears and make baby noises.  “You’re just mad because we beat you to the PUNCH!?!” slap five.  Giggles fill the room after this.  I assume because of the play with words/actions…

“What are you talking about?…” i say as my eyes get back into focus.  

“Here, let us jog your memory.”  they both place their hands on top of their heads, then pull off their fun faces.  It’s the couple from the street.  the reason i am in 4682 to begin with.  

“Oh, he’s surprised to see us!  that is great!” **giggles** “so you thought you could just waltz on in here.  catch US (pointing back and forth) off guard.  then have your way with us!?! be it sexual/mental/harmful.  (looking back at his female companion) i bet it would of been sexual” they nod and giggle at one another.

“You two are fucked up! (cough cough) do what you want.  i have nothing to live for.”

Teddie lights up at this, “well that’s perfect!”  Leaning in, touching her lips to my ear she whispers, “we are actually in the market to give you something to live for.”

stab one.

I scream, too loud to try and give it justice in narrative form.  They giggle.

slap six.  “Shhhhhhhhh” as Teddie grabs my face and squeezes my mouth shut.  “please be quiet, there is nothing to scream about”

That’s when i realized there was no pain.  The butcher’s knife sticking straight out of my thigh and there is no pain… is this real?  

“I bet you’re thinking if this is real or not” says Crotch Clown. “You can think this little beauty right here,” he says, pulling out a small vile of clear liquid.  “strongest pain killer you can find.”

she comes from the side.  stab two.

“that’s right.  no pain.” stab three.  “we aren’t looking to cause you pain.  we want you attentive and lively during our fun.”  she says as she take the knife out of my leg and wipes the blood on my jacket.

“We want you to be able to watch.”  he takes off my boot and sock.  “watch us take your body apart one little limb at a time.”  he slices down on my toe.  stab four.  the joint separates from my foot like he was pruning a leaf.  

“You said you have nothing left to live for.  We see that in a different way.”  stab five. coming from Teddie.  the next metatarsal loses its home.  “you know how many people would kill to have a fully functional body.”  stab six.  bye bye little piggy…

“And here you are.” 

stab seven. this time at the ankle.  “letting it go to waste.  sitting around, waiting for hand outs!”  he holds up what is left of my foot to show me.  Tossing it over his shoulder while keeping eye contact.  just lost about a pound of my body.

The pounds flew off like a savage weight lose program. the sound of the stabs became soothing and the lose of blood was immense… As my sight went to black, all i could see was their faces… giggling…


Short Stories to Get the Mind Going #5 - "Personal Storm"

Hello!  Back again with another short free write to get the juices flowing. 

This time around is a very short one.  It came out while i had some time to kill between shows and I guess I had some thoughts surrounding the complexities of our personal lives getting so chaotic that is brings down the world around us.  Living a life style that pulls you in every direction at all times can be daunting, not only for you but the people that care about you... 

The artist that assisted with this piece was the infamous Katie Baker.  She is a slave to the arts, going to an abundance of comedy shows to sketch each comic that goes on stage.  Which, if you've ever been to an open mic, is a large task.  Katie's view of the world is very intriguing and when this story popped out I knew she'd be the perfect one to add a little pizazz to it!  Make sure and check out her art on Instagram at SnappyBakes and you can follow her on Twitter as well.

Now without further ado... my story.  hope you enjoy!


took longer to get ready then originally anticipated.

my cereal even went soggy.  

decisions. decisions…  no telling what the day might have in store for me.  is it a blue jean day?  maybe a khaki?  definitely a sweater day.  the wind howling outside the window is a not so friendly reminder of the hell I’ll have to encounter before I can begin my stint in purgatory for the 9 hours that follow.  

then back out into the storm…  the never ending storm.  its been following me around for the past 5 years.  everywhere i go…  my own personal pet tornado.  constant destruction in a 10 yard radius around me…unless I'm inside.  then its a 10 yards away from the structure housing me.  

no idea what caused this…  went to bed on April 26, 2010, when I woke up, the weather had already changed for the worst.  now I don't have anything, cant go anywhere.  only two places in my life.  my house and work.  nowhere is possible, most forms of transportation get swept away.  that’s why I had to move to the desert.

that first day was the worst.  20 dead, $26 million in damages, all in 18 hours.  of those 20, 3 were my family.  now no-one will come near me.  afraid my storm might rub off on them…

thinking back to my life without the wind I wish I did more… I wish I took advantage of the time in the calm.  I remember a day my sister came home early, she tried to come in my room to see how my day had been going.  instead of greeting her with a smile and returning the intrigue into her life, I shunned her.  didn't even take my headphones off before I started yelling to get out.  

I envied her… she had everything going in the right direction.  her only fault was being related to me.  she wouldn't of changed that for the world.  

when i close my eyes I can still see them dying.  

time moves forward, memories stay in the past, and the present… well… it feels endless.  what I would give for a few seconds of piece and quiet.  

knowing how unstable I am is a really grounding thing.


Short Stories to Get the Mind Going #4 - "The Price You Pay for Shoes"

Another month, another free written story for your entertainment. 

This tale was the first completed when I started this project.  I wrote that first line, having no plan to take it in the direction it ended up going.  But when that final line came out, it was clear, this is how the story was supposed to go. 

The illustrations were done by Comedian/Artist/All around great man, Etrane Martinez.  His art captures this kind of child's view that was exactly what this story asked for in my opinion.  Check out his whimsical perspective on Instagram ArtInstagram Personal, and Twitter,

Let's kick 2017 off right!  Hope you enjoy!


the grass feels good.

as I lay here my eyes flutter.  the sun is a harsh beast.  makes me appreciate the acorn that dropped here hundreds of years ago.  this tree is a life saver.  

well… wish it really was…  

Laying there, looking up, the pain of my loss still fresh.  this was my first day out wearing shoes I never should of had.  Air Jordan 11 Blackout.  worth around $5,500… a piece. they were a “thank you” gift for all the support I've given to my wife while she worked her ass off to make partner at her firm.  

see, I used to be a shoe designer, with my concentration being sneakers.  My designs were sought out by all the brands, for years, the biggest being Nike.  but I hadn't come up with a new idea for quite some time.  my wife, Becky, got notice she was going to be looked at for a high profile case. that’s when my passions were put on the back burner.  

we have 2 kids.  a son and daughter, 7 and 4 respectively. in my eyes they are the meaning of life.  they are also autistic.  requiring attention around the clock.  queue back burner.

that’s in the past.  no regrets.  well besides making the call to say screw it and wear my new kicks out.  that and the short cut down the path through the park I told Becky and the kids never to use.  

I didn't hear them coming.  assuming there were more then one, just to make myself feel better.  they came behind me and bang.  one smack over the back of the head and I lay there under my new timber friend.  the hit was good, didn't completely go out though.  I felt them flip me over, quickly discussing how they couldn't believe I had the Jordans.  

they fumbled around for awhile trying to pull them off.  struggling with something not expected.  the strongest double knot they would ever encounter.  something any parent of a mentally handicapped child is familiar with.  

since it was the middle of the day they really didn't have time to battle these laces.  the pain was sharp.  then black…

$11,000 gone, however the feet that stayed inside them… priceless.  Now I lay here, bleeding out. under a tree that has seen more time pass in the world then I could ever imagine.  maybe it will get the chance to see my kids grow up…


Short Stories to Get the Mind Going #3 - "Female Shadow"

Merry Christmas (and happy Holidays to anyone that got offended by that) what better way to celebrate then by releasing another short story!

This piece came out of me and I was taken back by it.  Not sure how my mind went down this path during a free write, but I was pleasantly surprised with the outcome.  My plan was always to release it on Christmas.  The Holiday of Holidays! 

The art that was done for this story, I really couldn't of asked for a better visual aid.  Once this project was put into action the artist that created this masterpiece came to mind instantly.  For this story in particular.  The artist I speak of is local comedian/artist Lisa Lang.  You can catch her comedy all around Boston and you can see her art through multiple medias such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

Again, please disregard any writing errors due to this being a free write to get the gears turning. Open your hearts/minds to the concept and ENJOY!


Female Shadow

Her eyes were like looking in a blue sea without a bottom.

No matter how long I kept eye contact, I’d never find their true depth.  I blink first, every time…

“you make me blush” I say to her as I break our gaze and look at the ground.  I cant even look at her feet sometimes.  “how’d I get so lucky…” quickly glancing back up, then down.  “I know you hate when I talk like that, but I will never understand the answer.”

“do you need anything?” I continue while starting to get up, stopping in that awkward squat position.  “oh, never mind you’re all set.”  sitting back down. “sorry…  just want everything to be perfect. hahaha…  even after all these years I still ask when it’s clear you’re fine.”  looking away again. “I’m sorry.”  

Artist - Lisa Lang

Artist - Lisa Lang

there’s a chill coming from the window cill.  the hairs on my arm stand straight up.  she doesn’t flinch.  “you must be cold.  let me get your sweater.”  hurrying over to the coat rack, I fumble with soft fabric while tugging it off the plush hanger I placed it on earlier.  

as I put the cashmere on her body, my fingers caress her shoulders.  the breathe leaves me.  the feeling I get when my skin makes contact with her body is something only a poet would understand.  she stays still.

I inhale.  Close my eyes.  I can feel the scent of her being rushing down my esophagus, filling up my lungs.  Exhale.  she stays still.

“please forgive me for lingering.  It’s just…” a soft breeze fills the room again.  “looks like the weather might be turning for the worse.”  i say, changing the subject.  she stays still.

Artist - Lisa Lang

Artist - Lisa Lang

“The funniest thing happened the other day.  I don't think I told you”  my hands slide off her shoulders and move seamlessly into flamboyant hand jesters, indicating an inthralling story.  “I was walking down the street, in a hurry, attempting to catch the bus.  When all of a sudden I hear a beggar say “excuse me, mister, excuse me” a beggar!  talking to me!”  my eyes are wide as I tell this story, pacing the room, hands keeping the beat so my words can follow.  “well, I’ll be, I thought to my self.  this beggar must see a weakness in me that would trigger her to think I would actually take time out of my day to give her my attention.  This intrigued me, so I obliged.  “yes, ma’am” I responded to her” even remembering this moment tenses me up, my right hard balled as tight as possible, nails digging into the skin of my palm.  she stays still.  

“The beggar then responded, “would you happen to have some change for a poor old woman, just trying to make enough to feed herself to last the night?” as she was saying this she started to stretch her hands out, palms up, while making eye contact and coming closer with subtle shuffles.  I couldn't believe it, she just wanted ME to hand her MY earnings.  for what reason?  due to her poor decisions I should make some of my own and just hand out my money?”  she stays still.

Artist - Lisa Lang

Artist - Lisa Lang

“Kenneth!”  is heard from the hallway.  

“excuse me just one second my dear.”  I walk to the door, crack it open.  “Yes MOTHER!?!” she stays still.

“It’s time for dinner honey!  I made your favorite!  Liver and onions baby!  come on down before the Liver starts to coagulate!”  my mother yells from the kitchen.  she stays still.

“Just a minute mother!  I don't mind if the blood starts to turn!  as a matter of fact, I prefer it!”  Kenneth shuts the door, turns to his companion.  “I’m sorry for the interruption.  my mother may lack etiquette, but please understand her intentions were well.  Now where was I?  oh the peasant… you know what?  this isn't proper conversation before we dine.”  Kenneth takes a seat back on his bed.  She stays still.

KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK “Kenneth, you should come down now please.  we are waiting for you to start honey.”  She stays still.

“JUST A MINUTE MOTHER!  you can start without me.”  She stays still.

Artist - Gabe Stoddard

Artist - Gabe Stoddard

“What are you doing in there Kenneth?”  his mother says while turning the knob.  She stays still.

Kenneth jumps to get across the room before his mother can enter, but is tripped up due to how tightly he had crossed his legs while sitting.  The door opens and Mrs. Kenneth’s Mother has a clear view of the room.  She stays still.

Her eyes widen and hand raises to catch the gasp as it leaves her mouth.  On the floor next to his bed lay Kenneth, but in the seat across the rug sits a taxidermi mess wearing her clothes…  

“What the hell is that Kenneth!?!  What have you done!?!”  Kenneth’s mother screams as tears start streaming down her cheeks and she collapses to her knees.  

The heaping pill of decay, donning his mother’s clothes, is a mosaic of discarded road kill that Kenneth has meticulously sown together, forming a new bread of beast that resembles the physic of a woman.  

“Please leave mother… there is no way to explain love…”



Short Stories to Get the Mind Going #2 - "Pizza Man"

Pizza Man

Artist - Gabe Stoddard

Artist - Gabe Stoddard

Just one more piece and ill be done.

Artist - Gabe Stoddard

Artist - Gabe Stoddard

I think I’ve been saying that for the last few slices.  This pizza should be a sin it’s so damn good.

Artist - Gabe Stoddard

Artist - Gabe Stoddard

No one else to blame but myself.  Probably shouldn’t of ordered 5 larges, but how can you pass up a deal as good as 4 large pizzas, any toppings, and the 5th is free?  I’d be an idiot not to take advantage.  its surprising they are still in business with that bargain.

This is the 6th time in the past 2 weeks I’ve taken Pino Pizzeria up on this.  no telling when they’ll realize how much they’re losing out on and get rid of it.  

Artist - Gabe Stoddard

Artist - Gabe Stoddard

that one did it.  “another notch on the ol’ belt.” hahaha…  that joke never gets old.  even if I've lost the ability to wear a belt.  thats right!  graduated to rope!  Tried bungee cord at first, but the little hooks kept cutting up my love handles.  

sitting back I push the empty pizza box to the floor.  allowing it to join the many that came before it.  my own personal collection of cardboard trophies from my oral accomplishments.  their smell permeates the room.  


that cleared some room.  the thought of a fresh slice taking over my mental.  nope!  I'm going to be stronger then he urge this time.  maybe the TV will help.


Artist - Gabe Stoddard

Artist - Gabe Stoddard

“Oven fresh to order every single time.”  figures… the visual of that sweet, saucy, circle makes my mouth and eyes water… “Nope, no!”  I tell myself as i flick to the next channel.

Artist - Gabe Stoddard

Artist - Gabe Stoddard

“When pizzas on a bagel, you can have…” I turn the channel before it can finish.  

Artist - Gabe Stoddard

Artist - Gabe Stoddard

the screen flickers, a man’s back fills the over priced rectangle in front of me.  “don’t move a muscle.”  he says as the camera begins to pan out.  “put the remote down.”  his head is tilted slightly down as it comes into frame.

Artist - Gabe Stoddard

Artist - Gabe Stoddard

I keep the remote in my hand.

“I said… put the remote down”  his head starts to raise up.  “I’m talking to you, the fat fuck with all the pizza stains on his barely kept together shirt.”

my hand trembles as I drop the remote to the ground.  

“good.  I’ve been watching you for some time now.”  the camera moved far enough back now that the whole shape of the individual talking is all I can see.  the figure starts to turn around.  “and I have to say… you disgust me.”  his face becomes visible. 

he appears to be some type of important person.  black slicked back hair, tailored black suit, piercing eyes that match.  “how can you just sit there and… grow?”

Artist - Gabe Stoddard

Artist - Gabe Stoddard

he smirk taking over the lower half of his face after this statement is like an ice pick to my self esteem.  granted I have little of that left, but it still feels the fresh chip being taken off.

“who… who are you?”  is all I’m able to get out as I can feel my heart start to race.  The man is now approaching the camera.

“I’m your saving grace.  you might call me your… guardian angel.”  there's that smirk again.  “I’ve decided to make my presence known, in an effort to correct your ways.”

Artist - Gabe Stoddard

Artist - Gabe Stoddard

with this his foot comes through my TV screen, planting firmly in an open pizza box.  the rest of him follows without hesitation.  “That’s better.”  his nose perks.  “Good God!  the smell is wretched.”  he kicks a few boxes around.  taking out his pocket square, he covers his nose and mouth.  

“what do you want?”  my heart is beating faster and faster.  

“I’ll get to that soon. You really cant smell that?  your tolerance for filth must be high.  I’ll have to make this quick.”  the dark stranger reaches in his pocket for something.  “I hope you’re ready.  this will change everything for you.”

as his hand starts to crest out of the top of his pocket my left arm goes numb.  “ahhhh!!”  my right hand shoots up to my chest.  the pain is ruthless.  

I can see through the tears welling in my eyes that the man takes a step closer.

my body goes straight in the recliner.  spit is forming around my mouth.

“I guess you wont be needing my assistance after all.”  the stranger turns.  lifting his foot up and back through the screen of the TV.  

Artist - Gabe Stoddard

Artist - Gabe Stoddard


my fingers are clenching my chest so hard that the nails break the skin.

once his body is fully back into my entertainment box, the screen goes black.  

followed by everything else. 


Short Stories to Get the Mind Going #1 - "The Can"

The Can

“How old is this?  I haven't opened this closet in years so it must be expired by now, if it can even expire.” thinks Paul.  “There’s isn’t a label so no telling what’s inside.  However, all signs would point to it being something that could fit into a regular tin can.”

(holding the can to his ear, Paul shakes the metallic wonder holder)

“Doesn't sound like theres much in there.  not even liquid sloshing.”  The can itself is pretty light too.  “I'm not the weakest man in the world, but even a can of Cambell’s Chunky Soup can be a heavy item.” Paul continues mentally.

“No time to waste pondering on this, I’ll try and get to the bottom of that later.”  Paul places the can on the miniature kitchen table.  The table that has hosted many lonely, single serving, dinners.  Once placed on the table Paul retreats back to his pantry cleaning project.  

Hours pass, filling plastic bags with rotted vegetables, raw spaghetti broken to pieces, dog treats used to train Paul’s companion (who died 2 years ago), chipped collectors mugs, unused coupons, etc.  The bottom of each shelf looked as though it had been a breading ground for fungal chia pets.  These disgraces just fueled his cleaning adrenaline.  

The task was a daunting one, but very self satisfying once the end was in sight.  After bringing out one of the last bags needed to call this an accomplishment, Paul’s eye caught a glimpse of the mystery can on the counter.  It looks as if it’s just been watching me as I sweat.  Walking to the counter Paul questions his memory of placing the can on the kitchen table.  

“Did I move this during my genocide on scum?” he thought to himself while reaching out to pick the can up.  His hand grasps the tin cylinder and attempted to move it upwards.  No dice…  The can felt stuck…  “What the hell?  Are my counters sticky now?  just when you think a job is done…”  Paul turns, entering the pantry to retrieve cleaning items to tackle this new task before he loses his motivation.  

Bending down to pick up his Pine Sol he heard a hard thud behind him, that was followed by the sound of something bowling ball-esk begin to roll.  Looking out Paul could see the can come into sight, rolling until it was in full view from the pantry.  At that point the can halts…

Artist - Owen Linders

Artist - Owen Linders

Paul stares in bewilderment.  With a hesitant breathe he lifts his right foot to begin a slow exit from the closet.  Paul’s foot touches the floor board, as his body weight shifts it causes his motion to become audible with a creak.

Before Paul can make his next move the can begins to spin.  Its’ rotations start off slow, but quickly begin to speed up, a sound similar to nails on a chalk board fills Paul’s eardrums.  As the can’s speed increases a light flickers where the can and floor meet.  This is a short lived union, as the rotations become blurry with vigor and the can starts to raise from the linoleum.

Paul, dumbfounded, on the verge of peeing his pants, jumps back into the closet slamming the door shut.  Dropping to the floor, Paul’s eyes are fixated on the space between the floor and bottom of the door.  The light intensifies.  Brighter then anything Pauls seen before.  

He cant take his eyes off the lights.  The white keeps getting larger and larger through the crack of the door.  Paul is unable to look away.  His vision starts to get smokey, the smell of something burning is caught in his nose.  That’s the smell of his eyes cooking…

Artist - Owen Linders

Artist - Owen Linders

Paul’s vision goes black.  The sound the can created while spinning stops.  Now Paul can hear the can rolling towards the door.  Tin on wood alerts him to its arrival.  A slow creak, signaling the opening of the pantry door sends shivers down Paul’s spine, as well as a stream of warm liquid down his leg.  

“Who’s there!?!  What do you want!?!” Paul yells at the darkness.  

No response…

Paul hears the can roll into the closet.  A tiny nudge on the bottom of his shoes makes Paul aware the can has reached him.  “Don’t touch me!!! GET AWAY!!!” Paul begins to kick while weeping.  Between his sniveling he can hear metal ripping.  The lid must be opening…

Paul quiets down.  Through the slow sound of metal taring Paul pleads one last time, “p-p-p-please… I don't know what’s happening… I can’t see… I’ll help you in anyway I can… just…”  the noise stops and the lid taps the floor.

Air starts to rush by Paul.  Towards the pantry door.  Towards the now open can…

As if hands formed from the shelves, Paul rises up off the floor.  Tilting forward he is shot like a cannon ball right into nothingness.  Paul floats, still blind, only darkness. 

Artist - Owen Linders

Artist - Owen Linders

Paul tries to move his lips, they part, but nothing comes out.  Paul floats on…

The space surrounding him feels like gelatin.  Paul floats on…

The can lay on the floor of the freshly cleaned pantry.  Its’ lid reattached.  Paul floats on…

Located on the side of the tin there are words.  “Expiration: 10/10/16”.  Today’s date.  Paul floats on…

Artist - Owen Linders

Artist - Owen Linders