DEATH at a Preschool Christmas Party


In the mirror, I attach the fake ears and tug the hat onto my head.

“It’s the wealthiest Preschool in St. Peter,” K had said, “they’ll pay you a boatload to just stand around as an elf for their Christmas party.”

I sigh now, as I did then, resigned.

I wash my hands and step out into the hall. The Babushka rolls up to me. Her rock-face is polished. Her eyes are onyx.

She points. I nod. I follow her directions to a door inundated with Christmas joy. I go through.

The room is vast, a gymnasium almost. It is crowded with all manner of Christmas. Bells float through the air, jingling. Ropes of ornament-covered pine snake along the walls. A fat tree absorbs the center of it all.

Children wander about the place. None are more than five or six years old. They are dressed almost exclusively in argyle. A snowman in the corner is telling a story as a small blonde girl discreetly stuffs bits of his backside into her mouth. On the other side of the room, Santa Claus is red-faced as he picks up a small boy. A red-nosed reindeer stands calmly next to him, chewing on the inside of its own mouth.

Santa places the boy on the red-nosed reindeer. The boy begins to wail. A woman in a black sweater runs over and pulls the child down. The boy runs off across the room. I see him slide on his belly down a thin layer of ice. A young woman in a blue dress stands beside it. She claps.

A fair-haired little girl walks up to me. Not dressed like the rest. A simple black dress.

“You got a cigarette?” she asks.


She sighs, “you got a cigarette?”


“I’m not a child.”

“Oh…are you a midg—uh I mean– a dwarf?”

She giggles.

“I’m DEATH. And, I want a cigarette.”

I’m not sure whether or not to laugh.

“What do you mean you’re DEATH?”

“I’m not sure what else I could mean. That polished rock turd out there hired me to be here so…”

DEATH shrugged, “I’m often in Russia this time of year anyway.”

I continue to stare at the frail-looking girl. She winks. “Just between you and me,” she lowers her voice, “I never go anywhere I’m not needed. Even for the kind of scratch, this place shells out.”

“Right,” I manage.

“So, you got a cigarette or not?”

I nod.

“Let’s go have one then. Take my hand, everyone thinks I’m a child anyways. Pretend you’re taking me to the bathroom.”

She holds out her hand. I take it hesitantly. Suddenly she grabs it tight, very tight.

“Your time has come!” DEATH says, her eyes go black. I panic and jerk my hand away. My heart stops.

She bursts out laughing. She holds her stomach and bends over, a joyful tear falling from her eye. “You should see your face,” she gasps.

I feel like vomiting.

“Oh, that never gets old,” she says, catching her breath, “but, seriously, let’s go.” She holds out her hand again, her eyes back to blue. I don’t take it. She steps forward and grabs my hand anyway.

“Don’t be a pansy,” she says. She leads me out the door.

The fear in my legs has subsided by the time we get to our destination, a closet. Inside I light up two cigarettes. She takes one. She smokes through her nose. I can’t wipe the frown off my face. It’s beginning to hurt.

“So, what are you doing here?” DEATH says through the cloud that’s sprouted up between us.

“Uh, I am an actor.”

She snorts. “Bummer.”


We finish our cigarettes in silence.

“We better go back,” DEATH says, holding out her hand again.

I take it this time, apprehensively. Before we leave, I can’t help asking,

“What did you mean that you never go anywhere you’re not needed?”

DEATH smiles up at me and shrugs, innocently.

Continue the story at

As Good a Time as Any


On the day immortality was invented, my grandfather threw himself off a fifteen story building. I was there, we all were there. Mom was crying.

He sat on the edge off the roof. He gave us a long speech about life that I don’t remember much of. I do remember that mom was crying and at the end of his speech, she asked only, “why?”

My Grandfather, who moved well for his age, stood up and sighed. “Honestly, I was just waiting for all the assholes to die,” his eyes lingered on my step-father for a noticeable moment. Then, he sighed again. “But,” he continued, “it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen, now.”

My aunt, unmoved, grunted. “Childish,” she muttered. My Grandfather hugged her anyways. He hugged everyone. He came to me last, the youngest. He didn’t hug me, he looked down.

“Whatever comes next for you, it isn’t life,” he told me. He walked to the edge, turned and looked around at all of us.

“Oh well,” he said, and jumped–the best an old man can jump. It was enough. He fell even as my aunt cried “don’t!”

I couldn’t hear him hit the pavement.

By the time we ran and looked down, he was already there, a crowd was forming. A little girl stood over him, she looked up. She didn’t seem too bothered.

In fact, no one did.

The Safest Summer Camp in the World 3


*Part 3/7 of The Safest Summer Camp in the World. If you haven’t caught up, click HERE.

Sunlight on a lake puts everyone in a good mood; kids, doubly so. There are about fifty of them, My Mother used to sing a song when we’d go to the beach as a kid:


We’re going to the beach!

I love the beach- weee…

She was a lawyer. A group of kids have a Frisbee. The tell me in Russian that it is called “Flying Plate.”

I play a bit. A few of them are doing gymnastics on the side. We are beside a horse farm, occasionally the Frisbee will go over. One kid or another chases after it to the tune of “Oh come on!”

They duck under the fence. There is a sign with a lightning bolt on it, something written in Finnish. The kids are allowed to swim in shifts. Eventually the Frisbee players are called into the water. I walk to the shore. S is splashing about among them with a floating Go-Pro.

“Come!” he calls.

I shake my head. He gives me a disappointed look. He rallies the kids until all are chanting for me to get in. I sigh, take of my shirt and walk over to where S is standing.

“Yay,” I say–toneless and shivering.

I splash about a bit, go under. It feels nice. Then, someone cries out. I turn to find all of the kids holding each other under, one by one. I look at S, he is coming toward me, arms outstretched, smiling.

“You’re turn,” he says. His hands are on my shoulders. The body of a kid named Misha floats by.

“Wait–no!” but it’s too late, he has me under. I struggle and manage to get loose. I come up, choking. S is advancing.

“Oh–fucking wait!”

He looks confused–a bit sad.



“But, didn’t K tell you?”

I don’t respond.

“So you must?” he says. I sigh and don’t move. He takes it as a sign and comes closer. I am under for forty-five seconds–it’s hell. Then, I’m being pulled up. The water is blurring my eyes. I hack up a bunch of water. S is still holding my arms.

“Sorry–” he says, “but what is this called?”


“This.” he pushes me back under the water, then pulls me up.

I claw at his arms and back away. “Drowning! it’s called freaking drowning, man.”

S smiles. “Ah! I like that word.”

He comes closer. I hold up my hand.

“No! Hell no,” I start walking to shore, nudging the corpse of Misha out of my way. S calls after me. “Wait! We have to.”

I turn with some pretty dark language loaded into my tongue. But, from behind S, one of the other councilors dunks him under. I watch him die, shaking my head. I walk back to the kids playing Frisbee. It’s a group that have all died already. They are looking at me, disapproving. No one throws me the Frisbee. So, I go and stand beside the horse pasture. One of the younger students, a girl with glasses named Dasha, comes up beside me.

“Why didn’t you–” she points at the lake. I sigh.

“I just don’t like it,” I say, controlling my tone.

She frowns. “You’re not a fun teacher, are you?”

She walks away before I can respond. I feel somehow guilty. I look at the fence–the kids, the fence.

“Dasha?” I call. She turns.

“Check this out then,” I say, managing a small smile.

I grab the fence.

I am dead in seconds.


No Smoking!


N and I stand outside a bar called Bukowski. It is across from our apartment. A girl plods on past. She is crying; her whole body is crying. She is wearing rainbow socks. I pass N my cigarette. He takes a couple drags.

“Do you need a cigarette?” someone asks N. We turn. A man with two dark eyes is holding his pack out to N. N holds up his hand, politely.

“I’m trying to quit.”

The dark eyed man frowns.


N shrugs. “Death?” he wonders, taking a couple more drags off of my cigarette. The dark eyed man looks around the street. He laughs.

“What else is there to do in this city but die!” he says, suddenly. “All these people saying quit, quit, quit!”

He spits. “Why don’t they leave us alone. Everything here will kill you here; the roads, the cars, the water, the air, your neighbors. hell! Dennis killed all his neighbors with a base guitar.”

He motions to the man beside him. He has a patchy beard and glass eyes. He nods.

I smile, nervously. N takes another drag from my cigarette. The dark eyed man crosses both his arms, cigarette hanging from the corner of his mouth.

“You know, people always saying; no smoking, no smoking, NO SMOKING! You know, the other day I was in the park and I saw a man smoking. And, you know you can’t smoke in the park.”

N nods. I shrug.

“Well, he was smoking. So, just to see what it feels like, I went right up to him and said ‘you know buddy–I even said buddy–I said, buddy, there is no smoking in the park,’ I told him. You know, just to see what it would feel like.”

He puffs away.

“And?” I ask.

“And what do you think! I felt awful, terrible! The man just looked at me; saw straight through to my asshole, which is what I was, an asshole. I threw up all over the poor man.”

N makes a face. The dark-eyed man is all worked up. His face is red. His glass-eyed friend pats him on the back, comforting.

“Asshole,” his friend says, softly, motherly. The dark eyed man looks about to cry.

N finishes my cigarette.


The Border Guards End


Part 2 of 2. For part one, click here

On this night the leaders of Fad and Mar met in the old capitol of Jun in the middle of the  Fines Desert, the neutral zone. The government of Mar had invented a machine that would create a completely self sufficient farm. During that period of time Fad had come across a mine filled with the materials needed to power this machine. Each side decided that a truce should be made that would re-establish Fadmar as a unified nation. And so, after many hours of argument, everyone agreed, God had no genitals.

Each side sent out a homing pigeon to the booths on either side of the border informing them of the truce and ordering them to make amends.

Each note read:

“The war is over, make amends, return home.”

It took an entire day until the Homing Pigeons arrived at the booths. It was dusk and Mok and Flum were in their respective positions of worship. The first pigeon landed on the head of Mok while he prayed from his roof. He quickly unhooked the message and shooed the pigeon away before Flum looked up.

He jumped down, went inside, reset the trip wire and closed the window.

Flum then felt the second pigeon land on the back of his head. He quickly removed the message and ran into his booth, reset the string on the axe and closed the window.

Unfortunately, Homing Pigeons are color blind. Each man opened the other’s message.

Mok, believing he had intercepted a message for Flum attempted to decode the message. The word for “Over” in Flum’s language was the same as ‘death’ in Mok’s.  Believing this to be an order for his own demise, he grabbed his knife and began to plot.

Flum, believing he intercepted a message meant for Mok, attempted to decode it.  A similar miscommunication occurred. He grabbed his knife and began to plot.

It began to storm as night was reaching its darkest point. Both men snuck out of their booths and crossed the wall, not noticing the other through the dark and deafening downpour. Each crawled into the others window and felt the bed, finding the other gone. Both men assumed the other was onto their plan.

Mok saw the axe tied to the ceiling of Flum’s booth. He retied the string to the door, just in case Flum returned, then left through the window.

Flum, realizing Mok had departed, saw the trip wire at the door. He decided to reset the trap in case Mok returned and left through the window.

As they passed each other in the dark, their hands brushed. Mok panicked, tried to run, and slipped, knocking his head on the wall and falling face first into the mud.

Flum, hearing Mok’s cry, turned, his knife held high, ready to strike. At that moment a bolt of lightening came out of the sky hitting the point of the blade and stopping Flum’s heart. He fell onto the unconscious body Mok, forcing his face deeper into mud.





Tom sat watching the television, pencil in one hand, notebook on the knee.


He wrote at the top of the page in big block letters. He looked back at the screen. The version of himself trod along the street listening to something in his headphones.

The Tom on the couch turned up the volume. The song became more clear.


He bounced his knee as he watched. It was sudden, as it sometimes is. The version of himself on the television looked up, then, he was flatten. The sound reverberated around Tom’s living room. Tom turned down the volume. He stared at the body of himself, his chest under one wheel. He looked around on the screen for any more clues. He hurried to write BLUE MINI-VAN before the screen went back to home.

“No Potential deaths,” it informed him. He sighed and leaned back into the couch. He closed his eyes a moment before snapping up. He looked at his watch. He picked up his phone. He dialed.


“Yes?” his wife answered.

“You’re late.”

She sighed on the other end. “I’m often late Tom, I’m a lawyer, we do things.”

“Did you watch your channel this morning?”

His wife breathed into the other end of the phone, frustrated.


“Did you watch it?”

“I’m hanging up Tom.”

“Carol, how—“ Tom tried, but the line went dead. Tom stood up, fuming.

“Idiot,” he growled to himself. He tried calling a few more times, but Carol didn’t pick up. He texted her: You have to watch it. If you don’t, who knows what could happen. Please, do it for me.

Tom’s phone lit up, ringing. He answered.


“Tom, seriously? You are texting me while I am driving around to nag me about not checking if I’ll die. That is such hypocrisy!”

“I just want you to be careful,” Tom moaned.

“Look, I’m not going to spend every day obsessing over this, they are possibilities Tom, it says it on the damn box. Just, please, let me have a relaxing drive home bef—AHH!”

Tom’s heart froze. His face went numb.



“No, no, no,” Tom groaned, “Carol?”

Carol started breathing into the other end of the phone.

“Tom,” she whispered.

“Carol, oh god, are you okay?”

“I’m messing with you Tom, get a grip, please. I’ll be home in five minutes.”

The line went dead. Tom stared at his phone a moment before throwing it across the room. Not angry, revolted. He turned to the TV.

“One New Potential Death,” It told him. Tom hesitated. Then, he picked up the pencil and notebook and sat down.

He took up the remote, he sighed, he hit play.



The Clockmaker’s Son: Part II

DEATH took The Old Star-gazer and led him by the hand. The Clockmaker’s son followed into the nothing. There, Time sat on a pile of broken things, humming. She pulled a clock hand from one of her wings and spun it between her fingers.

“Good luck!” DEATH called to him.

The Clockmaker’s son approached Time. She smiled, her eyes clicked as the gears turned.


“I demand you stop all this nonsense!” The Clockmaker’s son cried.

Time sighed. “Okay,” she said. She dropped the clock hand into the pile of broken things at her feet and smiled.

“What next?”

The clockmaker’s son frowned.

“I need you to stop,” he said.

Time frowned. “I just have.” She motioned to the clock hand.

“No, stop time, stop moving.”

Time stood very still. “Like this?” she muttered through tight lips.

The Clockmaker’s son glared.

“That isn’t funny. I am in love! Do you not understand? You have taken my love from me!”

Time looked around herself and sighed.

“Okay, what would you like me to do?”

“Stop, for me.”

Time giggled.

“That is the simplest thing in the world.” She picked the clock hand off the ground and held it out to the boy.

“There, there, put this in your throat, or,” Time screwed up her face, “your heart? Anywhere really, there are so many spots, I forget.”

She smiled.

“I do not wish to die.”

Time frowned. “You’re confusing.”

“I want you to stop for love.”

“What is love?” Time asked.

The clockmaker’s son grew red.

“It is all that matters! It is the reason why we are put on this earth, the reason we live!”

Time smiled, wide. She began nodding.

The Clockmaker’s son waited. Time stopped nodding.

“So, love is food? Okay, I will find you some food.”

Time spread her wings and flew off into the nothing.

The Clockmaker’s son stood and wept. He sat among the broken things and waited. But, Time did not return. Soon, DEATH came strolling by leading a large man in a red soon.

“Sit right over there.” DEATH told the man. She seemed in high spirits. She smiled at the clockmaker’s son.

“Did you get your answers?”

The clockmaker’s son looked up at her bleary eyed.

“I don’t understand,” he said.

DEATH sighed. “You’re not meant to. Go home.”

She waved her hand and The clockmaker’s son fell from the nothing. He stood in the Star-gazer’s empty room. He made his way back to the village where he found the troupe had departed. He went to his father’s shop. His father stood outside.

“My boy!” He cried to his approaching son. He ran to the boy and grabbed him by the shoulders.

“It is a miracle!” He cried and began dragging the boy toward the house.

Inside the clockmaker’s son looked around at the mass of various foods that had arranged themselves along every inch of floor and wall; dried meats, grain, seeds, bread of all sizes. The Clockmaker’s son jumped slightly as a cow mooed from the corner.

“Isn’t it wonderful! We could feed the whole village for a year with all this,” his father cried.

And his son stood there and wept.



The Clockmaker’s Son: Part I

Once there was a clockmaker who had a son born with a love-sick heart.

In adolescence he fell so deep in love with the Baker’s daughter that he cried for three whole years when a prince rode through town and took her away.

One day, a troupe arrived in the village. One of the performers, Vasilisa, owned the hearts of all men.

She kept them just inside her right eye-lid so that when she winked, they leapt. None leapt higher than the clockmaker’s son. And when Vasilisa saw pure love in his eyes, she too, fell in love. They hid away in her tent. For three days and nights they spent there. On the fourth day Vasilisa wept.

“Why do you cry?” The clockmaker’s son asked.

“Tomorrow the troupe is leaving, and I must go with them.”

And upon hearing this, the clockmaker’s son too, wept. “Is there nothing I can do?” he asked.

Vasilisa smiled. “I am afraid time is the consumer of all things, even love.”

The clockmaker’s son grew angry and his tears dried.

“Then I shall stop time,” he told her. And with that, Vasilisa laughed.

“I am the most beautiful creature in the world. Yet, I will grow old and my beauty will fade. If time will not stop for me, it will surely not stop for you.”

But the Clockmaker’s Son would not be deterred. “I will return only when I have found a way.”

He left her and went to his father’s shop.

“Father” he said “I need to stop time; it is for love.”

His father peered over his glasses at the boy. “Love you say? What is love? I am the Clockmaker. I have spent my life in the service of time. And now soon I will die. If time will not stop for me, it will surely not stop for you.”

“But I must!” cried the Clockmaker’s Son. His father loved the boy very much and did not want to see him hurt again. He decided a distraction might be just what the boy needed.

“I have a very old friend. A scientist who watches the stars. He is over in the next village. Perhaps he will be able to help you.”

So, the Clockmaker’s son set out for the next village. He found the old star-gazer asleep in his bed, ill. He woke him.

“How dare you wake me in this state! Who are you and what is your reason for such rudeness?” demanded the old star-gazer.

“I am The Clockmaker’s Son. I have come to ask you to tell me how to stop time, it is for love.”

The old astronomer laughed until he was coughing. The Clockmaker’s son waited, annoyed.

“Boy, time does not stop for something as silly as love. I have spent my life studying every known star in the universe. I have a lifetime of work, of genius that will now be unfinished because of my frailty. If time will not stop for me, it will surely not stop for you.”

“But I must!” Demanded the Clockmaker’s Son. The Astronomer only laughed. He laughed himself dead. When DEATH came into the room to take him away the Clockmaker’s Son confronted her.

“You must tell me. You must tell me how I can stop time. I must, it is for love!”

DEATH giggled.

“Silly boy,” she sighed. She looked long at the boy. “Time is a dearest friend of mine, yet, even for me, she will not stop. And frieсщдndship is far more powerful than love.”

At this the clockmaker’s son grew angry.

“If time is your dearest friend then you must take me to her!” he demanded.

DEATH laughed, loud. Then, shrugged.

“Oh well. If you must, who am I to stand in your way?”

So, DEATH took the old star-gazer by the hand and motioned for the Clockmaker’s son to follow.