Week 2: Stories (Protagnonist with missing body part)

The Missing Eye

by: Linda M. Crate


The pirate captain was missing an eye, but she felt that her trade was worth it. Her remaining eye, her right eye, could see things that normal mortals could not. She could always tell which pirates were real and which were ghosts, she could see through ships and walls to know her enemies weaknesses, and she could always tell where the gold was buried.

She did not know what that wicked creature of the deep wanted with her eye, but she had little care as the strength of her new eye was far great enough to make up for the loss of her left eye.

She smoothed black, curly hair from her black eyes. The black woman placed one boot over the side of the ship as she gazed over the side of the boat.

Captain Cinnamon Rodgers glanced into the green-blue sea and smiled. She had loved the ocean for as long as she could remember. This day was peaceful and sunny. There were few clouds in sight that drifted past on their white trains which always reminded her of the fuzzy little tails of rabbits.

She thought of the siren’s request. It was rather strange, wasn’t it? But so what? She was given an ability that most men or women would kill for. The ability to know secrets she ought not have which always gave her an advantage in battles against other ships.

Cinnamon gave pause, however, when she saw a merman climb up the side of her ship. She glanced at the beast realizing he had a missing eye.

“I’m looking for the rest of my body. My lover said I would find it here.”

Ah, so that was what the villain who took her eye was aspiring to do with her eye. Well, there was no way she was going to lose the male version of herself. She wondered if he shared the same weaknesses as she did, but she knew it was too dangerous to check.

She could see that as he was genetically made and not born that his lungs seemed to have some weakness to them so she lifted her revolver and shot him in the chest.

The merman died or so it seemed. She wasn’t taking any chances. “Jacob, throw that fish back into the sea!”

“Aye, Captain!”

The merman bit hard into the pirate’s leg, sending him screaming. “Very well, I was hoping to get a matching eye, but I suppose this one will have to do,” he remarked, snatching the eye of Jacob without any mercy or tenderness. He didn’t damage the eye, but the damage to Jacob’s face was great.

Cinnamon gasped as he died at her feet. “You monster!”

There is no difference between you and I, my lady. In your greed you traded your eye without thinking of the consequences.” The merman put Jake’s eye in his empty eye socket. “Ah, much better.” He then hopped off the boat and back into the sea.

Cinnamon couldn’t move.


I Can’t Believe…

© 2018 Karl Voorhees Aloysius Aabingdon XXXII

(From the editor: This one runs over the word limit but because we only had three stories this week, I made an exception. Also, be aware that it contains language/subject matter that might offend some readers.)

I can’t believe he chopped my pecker off.

We were fooling around on the tenement roof where we all grew up; George, Crazy Ralph, and me. Hiding from our parents, who dutifully pretended not to know where we were and most assuredly pretended not to know what we were doing. The three of us were up there sharing a Tarryton 100 George filched from his old man’s pack and sharing a Miller High Life that Crazy Ralph lifted from the family’s beer fridge. Me? I brought the roof key and the matches.

Anyway, we were up there smoking (⅓ of a cigarette) and drinking (⅓ of a beer) and generally goofing off when Crazy Ralph decided he was one of the Three Musketeers – you know, the one that hates the Guitillermos in 5B – and breaks off one of the wires from their TV antenna. Only TV antenna on the block. Let’s them pull in all five local channels. Well, it used to. We could hear old man Guitillermo shouting and hollering from the fifth floor clear to the roof. Which was, technically, the sixth floor, the open-aire accommodations we called it back in the day. Fortunately the lock worked from the outside as well.

So, once we get bored with listenin’ to the old man going on about the tie score in the bottom of the ninth Crazy Ralph gets back on his Musketeers kick and is comin’ after me with his crazy sword, a rapier I think he called it. And he’s slashing and hacking and swinging all over, really going to town. He’s laughing and I’m laughing and dancing about trying not to get hit with the damned thing when I end up hopping up on the lip that goes around the edge of the rooftop.

We’ve all hopped on that before and, uh, whatcha call it, muscle memory takes over and I stop dead in my tracks to keep my balance; shoulders back, hips out, balancing momentum and gravity and a deep, deep desire to not dance the six floors to the pavement below. Key phrase here is ‘hips out’.

The roof gravel slides a bit throwing Crazy Ralph just the tiniest bit off balance. Being a selfish bastard and not wanting to take the express elevator to the first floor himself he reacts by, among other things, flailing his arms.

Did I mention ‘hips out’ yet?

The antenna wire whips by so fast and so close that it slices a couple of buttons off my shirt and I can feel the damned thing shave my stomach. A look of shock, then horror passes over Crazy Ralph’s face, then he leans over the edge and upchucks while looking down over the side. I lean over, too, so I can see what’s so fascinating.

Apparently, we’re watching some piece of roof trash fall onto the street in front of a dump truck and a city bus. The truck straddles the trash but the bus immediately behind is pulling over for the 112th street stop there on the corner and flattens it, the flattens it again.

“Direct hit!” I yell joyously. Bomber pilot is a favorite game, especially during summer rush hours when the streets are full and drivers are too busy dodging pedestrians and each other to stop and try to see who’s dropping crap on them from the rooftops. This was an almost unheard of, legendary ‘double splat’!

“Oh, God it hurts!”

Father Vido will get nothing from me for using the Lord’s name in vain. There was nothing vain about it. I hurt and I wanted relief now, and I wasn’t above asking the Big Guy. Unfortunately, it seems He was out golfing with some rich guys across the river because I hurt until the ambulance showed up and the boys knocked me out with some kind of a shot.

I woke in a haze in a hospital ward where a cute, fresh-faced nurse was ministering to me and blushing furiously. When she realized I had come to she turned beet red and practically ran out the door. Poor thing.

Have you ever had your pecker chopped off by a TV antenna wire? I don’t recommend it. Really, I don’t. They told me I was really lucky about the way it happened. I guess the veins and arteries got all stretched out and then knotted themselves back up when, well, you know, and that’s why I didn’t bleed to death up there on that stupid roof.

Then after a bunch of operations, including bringing in some new kind of plastic surgeon for some experimental surgery, they told me it was just bad luck the way it happened because the veins and arteries got all stretched out and then knotted themselves back up when, well, you know, and they couldn’t figure out how to keep anything down there alive without a proper blood supply. And wouldn’t you know I couldn’t get the original equipment reattached because guess what the “Direct hit!” was that the bus ran over…

So now and forever I sit for everything, facing the wall when I need to pee, facing away when, well, you know, and mopping up after when I need to do both. Trust me. Mopping is definitely the lesser evil.

Crazy Ralph has been on Broadway, off Broadway, and near Broadway for going on 8 years now playing Zorro. Rumor has it he had that antenna wire made into Zorro’s sword. He visits me often. I’ve never asked.

And George, poor George. George never fully recovered from the trauma of that summer evening. His sweet virgin sister is now my sweet virgin wife, and she talked about it one time. Only that once. It seems George felt incredibly guilty about the whole event. Seems he’d been in a fight with old man Guitillermo earlier that day and had put the TV antenna bit as a bug in Crazy Ralph’s ear. She said he blamed himself completely which I never believed until I heard the story of how he died.

He’d been depressed and nearly deranged for years, ever since that fateful night. One day ‘nearly’ took a left turn and become ‘completely’ and he stood at the kitchen table, placed his manhood squarely on a cutting board, and ruined a genuine Böker carving knife brought over by his great-great-great-etc-etc-grandfather from Germany back sometime in the 1800s by using said family heirloom to hack off his own pecker.

Because of the clean cut – would you believe that that thing was still sharp enough to shave with? – there was none of my vessel mangling and poor George bled out on the kitchen floor in about three minutes. Although some experts argue it was more like about seven or eight, after you factored in shock, the fact that blood pressure and volume outflow would drop while the bleedout occurred, and that since he ended up lying on his back on the floor gravity played no appreciable role.

George’s death by appen-dick-tomy still gets a group of coroners and police detectives goin’ at it when the subject comes up. I’ve been known to stroll by their tables at various events and just toss in George’s name and a random bleedout time and walk away. It’s always fun to watch, like chummin’ sharks.

And because no bus happened along through his kitchen before the ambulance boys got there, ol’ Deranged George got buried in one piece.



The Fare
Tiffany Key

Michael was driving his friend’s cab with a hack license ever since the company let him go. Insurance liability, was the excuse they gave, didn’t matter that it was not his fault, that he had been the injured party. He had worked out the deal with Hasem where Michael had to give him all of Saturdays’ fares and tips and Hasem could stay home and study. It was hard every week when he calculated how much he had brought in but his injury meant that he had little choice.

It was on a Saturday evening when Michael had a celebrity fare, a professional-athlete-turned-talk-show-host. The celebrity was on two phones when he settled in Michael’s backseat, talking on one with it wedged between his shoulder and left ear, and texting with both oversized thumbs on the other. He shouted his destination at Michael who in turn pulled into traffic and made a U-turn at the light. The celebrity somehow managed to light a cigarette, not an electronic one, but an old-fashioned paper and leaf cigarette. In doing so he ignored the multiple signs that Hasem had affixed to the windows and seat-backs, declaring that his cab was a non-smoking vehicle. Celebrities, Michael thought, and cracked the windows.

They slowed down for the caution light and came to a halt. A man crossed in front of them, a man who was noticeably disheveled, even at a distance. He appeared to be having a private conversation and was pounding his clenched fists against his thighs when he looked straight into the cab and yelled, “Fuck you, you crippled freak”. It surprised Michael that the man saw Michael’s truth so easily but what was more surprising was how agitated the celebrity had become.

“Fuck you, fuck you? Do you even know who I am, you motherfucker? You just messed with the wrong fucking superstar, calling me a cripple. I ain’t no cripple, you shittard. I had one little accident, off-court, and it was a long fucking time again. No, fuck this, I am not going to get into this with you, a simple-minded, motherfucking cabbie. No, that is why I have a lawyer on retainer.” It was at this point that Michael realized the misapprehension.

He had been afraid of being found out, of repulsing his customers, but never of being accused of insulting someone. He pulled up alongside the curb per the celebrity’s request.

“Turn your face this way, man, let me take your picture. Ain’t nobody going to get away with that bullshit. I’ll make sure you go viral.” Michael obeyed and just as the celebrity touched the shutter button, Michael opened his mouth wide.

Later, when the celebrity sent the picture to his social media manager, he noticed that there was something wrong with the cabbie’s face but he couldn’t immediately identify what it was. It unsettled him. He studied the picture until he realized that the cabbie’s mouth was just a gaping cavity.
No teeth, no tongue.

Prompt Nº 2

Hello and welcome to week 2. 

This week’s prompt is a little more specific:

Your protagonist is missing a body part. 

Perhaps it is a toe or an eye or a torso. Those decisions are up to you.

Remember, 500 words due by Thursday to mercurialstories@gmail.com. 
All readable submissions will be posted on Friday. Any format is fine. 

I look forward to seeing what you come up with. Happy writing!

Week One: NYE 2018

The Ribcage Breaks Its Resolution To Stay Monogamous
Jesse Bradley


You get bored saying the same name (legal, pet) again and again. You count the minutes until he leaves your apartment after you finish him. You sometimes create an excuse to keep him coming through your door (work in the morning, a doctor’s appointment). You refuse to imagine him aged and useless.


The Day After       
by deb y felio

Pledges are made in late evening drinking

of all the improvements just one step makes

tomorrow a new day a new me I’m thinking

and all the missteps that lead to mistakes

Pleasures forsaken for future rewards

committed tonight to a disciplined life

not guaranteed but completely assured

first thing in the morning I’ll tell the wife

Well maybe I’ll wait til late afternoon

Pride after all does come before falling

It wouldn’t be prudent to brag too soon

It could appear that I’m merely stalling

So once and for all I’ll not let this fail

I’ll do it next year, right now I need bail.


What’s the Hurry?

By Alex Carrigan


This might be the first year that I don’t actually need a New Year’s Resolution. Of course, I don’t feel any better because of this, mostly due to societal dictates. “New Year, New Me,” right?

Personally, I hate making promises and commitments I will inevitably break. Sure, I could stand to lose about fifty pounds (sixty? seventy? When was the last time I weighed myself?), but lord knows I’ll probably choose to cheat on any diet or exercise schedule I’ll make.

I could resolve to write more or to work on new projects, but my laptop desktop is a graveyard of unfinished writing projects and shoujo manga series outlines. Sure, I could try to work those into American fiction, but that turns out to be really hard when you have to account for cultural differences between America and Japan. All those do is make the project unsustainable due to the sheer amount of rewrites needed. For example, if arranged marriages and marriage meetings were a thing in America like they were in Japan, my coming-of-age manga series “Reluctant Fiance” wouldn’t need a ton of rewrites. It could probably go straight to press.

Besides, I have projects that are closer to completion and should work on those first. That is, if I remember to and don’t come to immediately hate them while working on them like so many NaNoWriMo projects of years past.

But I guess I’m doing okay. Unlike last year, I have a job I like, I have trips I want to take later this year, and I have an actual desire to keep some status quo in my life. Hell, it’s the second day of the year and I’m writing something like this. That’s already a step up from last January when I was broke, unemployed, and dealing with massive anxiety.

If I need to resolve something, I think I have time to think about what that is. I can always diet or try online dating when the mood strikes and not attach it to some cultural movement that has the cliche of failure stapled to its forehead. There are 365 days in a year, after all.  

I mean, if I wanted to really commit to something right away, it’d probably just be a commitment to have a regular sleeping schedule which, come on, who keeps those nowadays?


New Year’s Eve in the Mani

By Theresa Stoker

(I’m on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Theresa-Stoker-222595801612565/ and I’m also podcasting as Write Club the Podcast at https://www.facebook.com/writeclubthepodcast/ and https://audioboom.com/channels/4936828)


We’ll just go back to the old ways.’ The young man giving us a lift is talking about the crisis. ‘Here in the Mani we’ve always been bandits and pirates. I have guns at my house, I’ll defend what’s mine. I’ve got a Kalashnikov.’

            I remember the restored war tower we visited a few days ago. With its polished wood floors, safety banisters and no furniture, it lacked atmosphere. I tried hard to imagine what it must have been like when five or six families crammed in, besieged and at war with their neighbours. ‘Luckily we don’t fight so much these days,’ our guide said. ‘Because now we all have Kalashnikovs.’

            I am glad to be out of the car. A huge moon is rising and there is a smell of wood smoke beckoning. In the kafeneio the stove is glowing. A TV game show competes with loud voices. We drink the large tumblers of wine known locally as ‘grandads’. A teenage girl is playing cards with some older men. She is giving them hell. My Greek is not good enough to know if she thinks they’ve been cheating, but whatever it is, she’s not putting up with it. At the next table a more serious game of backgammon is being played. Outside boys of all ages throw bangers at the ground and jeer at anyone who jumps. Some children in Santa hats come in to sing the monotonous Kalanda song. Everyone pays attention. The biggest boy carries an olive branch taller than himself, which keeps straying into his three-year-old sister’s face. She gamely continues dinging her triangle and shouting the words. Everyone applauds and gives them money.

            By nine o’clock the older men are getting up, leaving behind their contribution to the smoky atmosphere. The TV is off and Greek party music is being played through a laptop. By eleven it’s a younger, livelier crowd. At twelve we all stand outside to watch the fireworks going off in the churchyard. Someone fires a shotgun. It is passed around the men, and boys as young as twelve are given instruction and allowed to shoot it. Then I hear rapid fire beside me. I have no expertise, but surely that is an automatic weapon? Time to go inside.

            ‘Kali ChroniaChronia Polla!’ We kiss and exchange wishes for a good year and many of them. The partying moves into top gear. Young women in high-heeled boots dance the Hasabikos with virtuosity and increasing speed in the tiny space between the tables. The shots of raki keep coming and everyone must take their turn on the dance floor. When not dancing, those who know the words sing along and everyone claps in time.

            By three o’clock I am defeated. Music and laughter trail behind us as we stumble down the little alley, kicking through shotgun cartridges and dead fireworks, the smell of gunpowder haunting our footsteps.


Promises to Keep

by Anthony Morales Jr


I’ve spent the better part of my life behind metal doors painted light blue to trick you into believing everything was good. It’s a lie like everything else. If you chip the paint,  it’s red underneath anyway. That’s the real color, that’s the real feeling; anger and hate. You just get used to it. I got so used to the clinking and clanking of key rings against the guard’s belt smacking against their hip that it put me to sleep every night. It was like a blanket covering me from the cold.

But this time it’s gonna be different. I’m not gonna be comfortable with it anymore and I’m not gonna make the same stupid mistake as last time. I’m not coming back. When I get out my friend’s gonna give me three hundred dollars and I’m gonna buy myself some new clothes ‘cause the clothes they give you when you leave here is garbage. If you get out when it rains the blue from the jeans runs out and turns your goddamn skin blue like one of them little smurfs. You can’t go nowhere with that ‘cause they’ll know exactly where you just came from.  

The last time I was out there I got caught ‘cause I was stupid. They caught me ‘cause I was hanging out with these guys that were always getting into something. I was good for a while, you know, I was makin’ my money and takin’ care of my baby girl but I was stupid and didn’t out-run ‘em. They knew where I lived anyway. But my baby girl, I haven’t seen her in over a year. Her moms is keepin’ her from me and I kind’a don’t blame her. I don’t want my baby girl to see me like this, where I’m at now. But imma be out soon and it’s gonna be different.

I can’t make no money, not enough at some regular job to pay for a place for myself and give my baby girl the money she’s gonna need for school and clothes and stuff. I’m gonna go back with my girl, we’re gonna work it out and then I’m gonna sell some stuff again, make some money real quick, and then I’ll be out. I don’t know what I’m gonna do yet but I know I gotta make money quick, that’s what I know I gotta do. You can’t do anything without money. Then I’ll go to school for like a mechanic, ‘cause that’s what I like. It’ll work this time, it’ll be better.


                                                           Year of the Pig
                                                             Tiffany Key

He introduced himself as Bub. A nickname, he added with a shy smile. He was hunched over in the way that tall guys usually are, bent forward like an overgrown sunflower. She noticed his pig before she saw that what appeared to be his coat was actually a pair of wings. The pig was on a leash and seemed content to lay next to Bub’s feet, ignoring the bits of food that the partygoers had littered on the floor.
When she asked why he had brought a pig, he answered that 2019 would be the year of the pig.
“Did you bring a dog last year?”, she asked.
“Yes, I did”, he answered with a straight-face. “But you were not here last year”. She noticed that his cheeks were scarlet.
“Are you hot?”, she asked. “We could go outside if you like. Or maybe get a drink?”
“You are very kind. Thank you but I am just always a little overheated. But if you want another drink…? What is this, a martini?” Without waiting for her answer, he exchanged the pig’s leash for her empty glass. He returned frowning. “They had just run out of gin so this one is vodka. I’m really sorry. You would think in a palace like this…”
The house belonged to the CEO of the tech company they both worked for. Most of the rooms appeared to be modeled after Versailles, gold-trimmed and gaudy. The room they were standing in was minimal though they had to be careful of the koi-filled stream, winding through to the backyard. There it emptied into a pool where the koi mingled with a pair of dolphins. She watched the aquatic couple tossing a beach ball back and forth and sipped her martini, trying not to grimace.

“Yes, it is strange that they ran out of gin so early in the evening. It’s not even nine yet.” “Actually”, he said softly, “it’s almost midnight”.
She noticed a crowd gathering on the back lawn.
“Shall we?”, she asked.
“If you like. Or perhaps we could go someplace where they make a proper drink?”
She nodded and they walked out the front door, their pinky fingers intertwined.
“We could take my car, oh, but maybe it’s too small”, she said, looking at his wings that trailed behind him like a wedding dress’ train.
“If you like, I could fly.”
“No, I am way too heavy for you, besides you would have to carry me and the pig. Two pigs.”, she joked awkwardly.
“Susan can find her own way home. Besides, you probably weigh less than a child.” She blushed, pleased he had guessed so generously.
They took off at the same time as the fireworks. When she looked down, it was hard to see her coworkers through all the smoke.

Prompt № 1

Happy New Year’s and welcome to the first week of Mercurial Stories. In order to respect your hangover/anxieties about that list of resolutions that experts say you will forsake in just two weeks, I am giving us all an easy one.

New Year’s Eve 2018

With the holiday still fresh in your mind, with all those hopes for the next 365 days bubbling, write a story in 500 words or less. Then submit it to mercurialstories@gmail.com by Thursday morning.

Submissions should include: a title, author’s name (or indicate if you want to remain anonymous), and website/social media handle if you wish. Writers retain all the rights to their work.

I will go through the submissions, check for readability, then post the stories on Friday.

Okay? Well, good luck and happy writing.

Hello and welcome.

It is hard to be a writer. It is lonely work, thankless work. It is work that gets sidelined as we age, forsaken for more pressing matters but always rocking back and forth on the bench, trying to get our attention. Not writing leaves us guilt-ridden but time accelerates at such a pace that our intentions are easily outpaced. All those stories decaying within us as we postpone their release for a more opportune occasion, be it the weekend, or summer vacation, after retirement, or in our next incarnation.

I know this because I have been procrastinating writing forever. At least most of this lifetime and probably a few before. If you know my biography (summary: working, somewhat single mother raising four kids overseas), then you know that I have rather valid excuses for not writing. And yet that is never a solution: my frustrated imagination will fester and infect my mind with a toxicity that generates anxiety and depression. I do not simply want to write: I have to write. I know I am not alone in this so I decided to start a new project for this new year. Mercurial Stories.

Starting next Monday, a writing prompt will be posted. Those writers who wish to use it and stay within the five hundred word limit can submit their completed stories by Thursday at 8 am EST (mercurialstories@gmail.com). Stories that are readable will be posted on Friday. And then the cycle repeats itself.

Mondays: new prompts are posted
Thursdays: deadline for submissions
Fridays: stories are posted

There is no fee to submit and no payment for those stories posted. This is a project designed to get writers writing. And with any luck, giving us all some good weekend reading. If you have any questions, please feel free to write to me either in the comments or via the email address above.

Please check in next Monday, January 1st for the new prompt. And in the meantime, enjoy your last days of 2017.

See you next year.

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