Friday Flash (Revisited): Space-time to Travel


When Hector invented his time machine, he did not concern himself with aesthetics. He had never valued beauty over functionality, and he assumed the judges of the 54th-century’s multiversal scientific competition would share his opinion.

His chest swelled as he viewed his entry in the ‘Time-Machine of the Century’ contest, humanity’s valiant effort to embrace the insanity they had brought upon themselves. Such an event was obviously a complicated affair, but Hector knew the intricacies of traveling the multiverse. Space-travel was by definition time travel, and he crossed light-years like other fellows crossed a room.

Of course, time-travel had been around for centuries in Earth standard years, with all the predictable complications such journeying involved. After all, there’s only so many times men and women can either off their own ancestors or become their own parents before humanity’s family tree is hopelessly skewered beyond recognition. And once humanity spread beyond its own paltry region of space, cross-breeding with the debatably-intelligent life found elsewhere in the multiverse only added to their genetic confusion.

Confounded, humanity had decided their hopelessly tangled timelines (multiverse, after all) should be monitored and adjusted accordingly. Agencies had been set up, destroyed, the parents of the agencies’ founders murdered, born in alternative timelines to be transferred and mated (then murdered) again, before humanity as a whole threw up their collective hands and thought, To hell with it all, let’s just go with the flow.

And thus, Hector had found himself abducted from the distant past due to one of genetically-mangled humanity’s misguided efforts to reintroduce old-blood back into its gene-pool. The upside for Hector was that they made their scientific knowledge available to all their abductees. After being fit with a transmitter for selective telepathy, he could communicate effectively and integrated himself into future (his future) society. He was excited about his entry into this year’s contest.

You’ve been disqualified.

What? What are you talking about! I followed the rules to the letter! Color flushed Hector’s cheeks as he gazed at the little grey-green judge with the clipboard.

The judge, Bob, gazed levelly at him with bulbous eyes. He really had no choice, since his eyelids were clear. Bob was unaware of his familial connection to Hector, though he would not have been surprised; almost everyone was related to everyone else.

Well? repeated Hector. He bent down to peer into Bob’s oval face.

Bob reached out with elongated, bony fingers to hold the tentacle of his wife of three light-years, Judy Trudy. He paled at the sight of the glowering man in denim and found his plaid shirt terrifying. Judy nudged Bob encouragingly, and the little judge responded.

After the unsettling squelching and sucking sounds were over, Bob cleared his throat and thought, It does not meet the specifications, sir, for human-compatibility.

What the heck you talking ‘bout? Hector sat in the driver’s seat of the modified Chevy and activated the force-seals. I know there’s been certain errr…modifications to the species since my days, but humans still have certain basics in common, right?

That is true, thought Bob. He squeezed Judy’s tentacle, which oozed reassuringly in his bony hand.

Well, most have two hands, right? reasoned Hector, demonstrating how his hands used the steering-wheel. He made a point of not meeting Judy’s gaze.

Yes, and many have three or six, answered Bob.

Two feet is pretty common, right? Hector stepped on various pedals.

Two seems to be the preferred number of ambulatory appendages, agreed Bob.

I installed seat belts, per regulations. They would be useable by the bulk of humanity – regardless of, er, complications to their family, uh…

The seatbelts are satisfactory, agreed Bob, noting that the ancient human had not “buckled in” for safety. He climbed into the vehicle and sat in the passenger seat.

Hector’s brow furrowed as he asked the question he’d been dreading. It’s not a question of style, is it? He had not been tuned-in to the fashions of his own time and place, nevermind 54th century Camelot 470.

Bob negated this notion.

Well then, what’s the problem? He took a chance and gave Judy Trudy a worried look. She squelched at him.

This is the problem, thought Bob and sighed. Sliding into the driver’s seat, Bob bumped Hector unceremoniously out the open door and onto the floor. Hector watched Bob wiggle his tiny grey toes at least a foot above the starter pedal. In most space-timelines, thought the judge at the mystified man, the majority of humanity is my height.

*This was originally written for the six minute story site, but I cheated and edited the piece after six minutes. Also, due to life happenings (such as getting the flu for two weeks among other things), I have not created a fresh flash for this week. I felt guilty for not updating the blog, so I hope you enjoyed my humble repost from my old (and now defunct) writing blog. Have a lovely week!

*image courtesy of


Friday Flash: Blind Date Night Out


The strikingly beautiful brunette grinned at her reflection in the magic mirror.  The low cut black dress was flattering without being too revealing; she adjusted her sheer shawl over bare white shoulders and quickly headed out the door.

She saw her target waiting in the downstairs bar, a glass of fine whisky in his hand as he looked at the crowd swaying to the slow steady rhythm of a blues ballad. He eyed the many women in the undulating mass, a gradual smile spread his lips slightly, a predator selecting his prey. Taking a sip from his drink, he stood up and turned into the brunette beauty, spilling whisky down his crisp new suit and nearly falling in the process.

“Hey, handsome,” she said, the predatory smile on her own face a perfect reflection of his own. “Oh, I’m sorry. Let me get that for you.” She ran one long, slender finger up his front; her red nail made a zipping sound as it scratched against the suddenly dry fabric. “That better?”

“Now, that you’re here, hon’,” he said, recovering quickly, “everything’s better.”

“Really? You sure? You wouldn’t rather go after that sweet young thing over there?” She gestured disdainfully at the woman he had been watching the moment before.

“No, of course not,” he said. “I thought she might be a good match for Hermes, because, you know–”

She shushed him with one red painted nail to his lips. “Hon’, no talk about the kids on ‘date night,’ remember?”

“Oh,” he said, then breathed, “you truly are a goddess.” He ogled her sleek form all the way up to her large brown eyes and full red lips. “See what you do to me? I lose my head when I’m around you.”

His wife’s smile was secretive and seductive. “So, handsome,” she purred, “let me get you another drink.” A glass of champagne suddenly appeared from nowhere. She offered him the glass with one hand, her own pina colada in the other, and they entwined arms before sipping from their drinks. “Now, where were we?”


*Image courtesy of
*I’ll admit, Hera has been on my mind a lot, ever since completing my 2016 NaNoWriMo, so I thought it’d be fun for them to have a date night where Zeus has to pick up Hera at a bar. I think she was tempted to impersonate a mortal to catch him in a dalliance, but she resisted on the advice of their marriage counselor.

Books Read in 2016



In the interest of reflection, I am posting a list of the books I read in the past year. Included in my list are ebooks, audiobooks, paperbacks, and graphic novels. I do not discriminate due to the amount of pages or words in any given work, whether fiction or nonfiction.

If you read my list from last year, you will note that I read fewer books than the year before–eighty-nine versus fifty-eight, which I attribute to consuming more poetry and less graphic novels. I also read a few paperbacks, which tend to take more time than ebooks, primarily because I usually forget to take them with me. Mainly though, I take more time when I read poetry, because I don’t usually feel I’ve gotten the full meaning and impact of a poem with just one reading.

Also, I’ve created this handy little color code, to make things easier:

Ebooks (novels, non fiction, & graphic novels): Red

Audiobooks: Blue

Physical books: Black

Because the list is long, I’m not going to comment on each book. You’re welcome.

  1. The Autobiography of James T. Kirk

  by David A. Goodman (ebook via Overdrive)

  1. Mort(e) by Robert Repino (audiobook via Overdrive)

–a truly unique scifi story about a revolution where all the animals become sentient and (many) humanoid to overthrow the human race. In the midst of all this chaos, one sentient cat is searching for his best friend, the neighbor’s dog.

  1. Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk  (ebook via Overdrive)
  1. Make Room! Make Room! by Harry Harrison (paperback)

–the book that Soylent Green was based on, though the movie bears very little resemblance to the novel. Harrison wrote this novel as a warning about unchecked population growth.

  1. Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett (ebook via Overdrive)
  1. Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett (ebook via Overdrive)
  1. Planet of the Damned by Harry Harrison (ebook via, read using the Overdrive app)

–one of my favorite books, a man-versus-environment adventure that demonstrates the necessity of understanding versus a brute force approach to environmental and social problems. I know that description doesn’t sound exciting, but trust me. The entire book is filled with life and death struggles, assassination attempts, poison, you name it. If you haven’t read this yet, check it out NOW.

  1. Winter (The Lunar Chronicles) by Marissa Meyer (audiobooks via  audible)
  1. Doctor Horrible by various (graphic novel via my Barnes &  Noble gift card)
  1. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Primary Phase (audiobook via Audible),  by Douglas Adams
  1. Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein (ebook via Overdrive)

–a scifi book that takes place almost entirely on Earth from the point of view of a human raised by Martians. What else is there to say?

  1. Deathworld by Harry Harrison (paperback)
  1. Bossypants by Tina Fey (audiobook via Overdrive)
  1. Deathworld 2 by Harry Harrison (ebook via Overdrive)
  1. Doctor Who: Peacemaker by James Swallow (ebook via Overdrive)
  1. Leonard by William Shatner  (audiobook via Overdrive)
  1. Against the Fall of Night by Arthur C. Clarke (ebook via Overdrive)
  1. Doctor Who: Autonomy by Daniel Blythe (audiobook via Overdrive)
  1. Flow my tears, the Policeman said by Philip K. Dick (ebook via Overdrive)
  1.  UBIK by Philip K. Dick (audiobook via Overdrive)

–in this world created by PKD, people communicate (via technology) with the dead for a limited period of time after passing. Also, humans regularly travel to the moon, and there’s anti-psychics and conspiracies.

  1. The Trouble with Poetry by Billy Collins (ebook via Overdrive)
  1. The Forever War by Joe Haldeman  (ebook via Overdrive)
  1. Fool by Christopher Moore (ebook via Overdrive)
  1. The Walking Dead: No Turning Back (paperback graphic novel) by various authors
  1. Poetry on the Fly: 3WW by Tony Noland (ebook via Overdrive)
  1. Investigating Lois Lane by Tim Hanley (ebook via Overdrive)
  1. Aimless Love by Billy Collins (poetry) (ebook via Overdrive)
  1. Confessions of a Buddhist Atheist by Stephen Batchelor (audiobook via Overdrive)
  1. Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck (audiobook via Overdrive)
  1. The Places We Find Ourselves by Diane Kendig (paperback)
  1. And a Pencil to Write Your Name: poems from the Nicaraguan Poetry Workshop, translated by Diane Kendig (paperback)
  1.  I, Iago by Nicole Galland (ebook via Overdrive)
  1. Quantum Lyrics (poems) by Van Jordan (paperback)
  1. The Wasteland and Other Poems by TS Eliot (ebook via Overdrive)
  1. The Serpent of Venice by Christopher Moore (ebook via Overdrive)
  1. Geek Wisdom: the Sacred Teachings of Nerd Culture by Stephen H. Segal (ebook via Overdrive)
  1.  Crisis on Infinite Earths (graphic novel via Hoopla) by Marv Wolfman and George Perez
  1. Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss (paperback)
  1. Darth Plagueis by James Luceno (audiobook dvd)
  1.  Poets’ Corner compiled by John Lithgow (ebook and audiobook)
  1. Renascence and Other Poems by Edna St. Vincent Millay  (ebook via
  1. A Few Figs from Thistles by Edna St. Vincent Millay (ebook via
  1. The Geek Feminist Revolution by Kameron Hurley (ebook via Overdrive)
  1. Yes Please by Amy Poehler (ebook and audiobook via Overdrive)

45.The Absolutely true diary of a part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie (ebook via Overdrive)

  1. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (audiobook via Overdrive)
  1. BLINK by Larry Koller  (beta–pdf)
  1. Confessions of a Crazy Cat Lady by Sandra Gurvis (paperback)
  1. Phantasmagoria and Other Poems by Lewis Carroll  (ebook via
  1. The Walking Dead,  volume 25 (graphic novel via Hoopla)
  1. The Walking Dead, volume 26 (graphic novel via Hoopla)
  1. Crafting with Feminism by Bonnie Burton (ebook via Overdrive)
  1. On Writing by Stephen King (audiobook via Overdrive)
  1. The Geeky Chef by Cassandra Reeder (ebook via Hoopla)
  1. The Art of Peace by Morihei Ueshiba (audiobook via Hoopla)
  1. The Art of War by Sun Tzu  (ebook via Hoopla) (audiobook via Overdrive)
  1. Horoscopes for the Dead by Billy Collins (ebook via Overdrive)
  1.  Selected Poems of Langston Hughes, poetry collection by Langston Hughes (ebook via Overdrive)


I did notice that some books are easier to consume as audiobooks, depending on the skill of the reader. For instance, Mort(e) was an incredible audiobook; however, if I’d just read the text, I would have missed the reader’s insight and humor. On the other hand, I think I would have enjoyed Winter, the last installment of the Lunar Chronicles, much more as pure text. The voices the reader chose to give the characters didn’t necessarily fit, and sometimes I just found them annoying.

Poetry, in general, I prefer to consume in paperback form in order to preserve the formatting. However, some poetry books were either only available as ebooks or simply easier to acquire in digital form. Overdrive, the library checkout program I use, has a system in place for some poetry so that minimal formatting is lost.

If you’d like to discuss any of the books in my list, feel free to comment below or contact me through Twitter or FaceBook. In the meantime, have a lovely week!

POEM: New Year’s Eve


“New Year’s Eve”


About as far from Earth Day

as you can get,

a time many choose to hydrate

with alcohol instead of h20

-if that is even possible-

and try to see the road ahead

more clearly

-apparently while driving drunk

(This is a metaphor of course I would never advocate drinking and driving, always use a designated driver, please don’t sue me).

Couples kiss when the ball drops

(speaking of metaphors)

at Midnight,

beneath a brilliant, hearty neon ad

for the sponsor of

Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve.


Mimes, those urban pariahs, skulk along the sidelines

hoping to catch the cameras

even as they mock the celebrations

with their silence.

Arty? Perhaps,

but head over heels couples

-once stirred from their warm embraces-

apply the phrase literally

to the nearby mimes,

-the mockers of their mirth,

pretenders of their passion,

kissy-faced buffoons-

and throw them in the nearest waste receptacle

(a fitting resting place for those white-painted imitators)


the next day

in the bright light of dawn

they are extracted by local garbagemen

-and women

and removed with the rest of the refuse.


A lone reveler,

awakened, bleary-eyed,

by the sun’s brilliant beams,

yawns and quips,

“He had a little too much to drink, Ossifer!”

Then, seeming to shrug off the previous night’s intoxication,

looks at the yard

-the ripped streamers,

broken discarded bottles,

and dropped foodstuffs now feeding the local pigeons-

and bends to pick up his first bit of trash.



*image courtesy of

** This is a repost from my old blog that I thought would be fun to share again today. It was written during April of 2015 for National Poetry month and inspired by one of the daily prompts posted by the Cuyahoga County Public Library system.

Friday Flash: The Eve After Christmas


The two moons illuminated the battlefield through the cloudless night. Five minutes had passed since the cease fire ended, yet no one fired. The enemy would move soon. She was ready, and they would not be allowed to pass the defenses.

The impromptu truce of the previous day had caught both sides by surprise. The enemies had met, face to face, for the first time since hostilities began and mingled, awkwardly at first, and then more easily as the hours passed. But the holiday was over now, a short twenty-six hour hiatus in this bitter, bloody war, an intermezzo in the great symphony of death.

One of the enemy soldiers, Antoine, had shared his rations with her. She’d done her best, under the circumstances, to look pleased with the pickled lizard he’d offered. He returned the courtesy when she gave him a tin of baked beans. They’d smiled, each thanked the other, and they forked the rations into their mouths, grins still plastered unconvincingly across their faces. Soon they were choking violently and spitting everything out. When they reached for the canteen at the same time, they’d looked at each other in alarm before bursting out laughing.

Rations were low on both sides, yet they’d giggled together nonstop for quite awhile. Feeling guilty for the wasted food, she’d glanced across the battlefield to see other groups of enemies and friends similarly disposed.

They’d talked, hesitatingly at first, and he’d played his harmonica. She told him about learning to play the keyboard, pounding out terrible off key melodies but proud of her accomplishment just the same. He’d shown her holos of his sons, boys that he might never see again, and she’d shared stories of her children at home. It turned out that they had a lot in common.

The temporary truce was over. No one had fired, but it was only a matter of time. The men would try to overrun their defenses, and they would be forced to defend themselves. They needed to hold the line, to maintain position against Antoine and his brothers in arms.

Against the enemy.

She was a soldier, and soldiers obeyed orders. Thinking too much got you dead fast. There must be no hesitation.

Vague shapes moved on the battleground, inching forward. Crouching low to peer through the heavy shadows, she guessed they were using wreckage from the mothership as makeshift shields. They crept closer. Still no one fired. It was too dark to make out clear targets.

They were the enemy. The poker games and camaraderie of fellow soldiers were distractions when battle was imminent. It was dangerous to form friendships with the opposition. It clouded your judgement. A soldier needed a clear head to survive.

They needed to accomplish their mission.

She wondered if the other soldiers felt as she did. She hoped it wouldn’t affect the battle. The defense of their home, the fight against oppression or even for their own freedom dwindled now in the face of their own personal survival. She wondered if she’d ever see her little ones again.

The thought of her children helped her to focus. They would see their mother again. The shadows loomed closer. On her left she heard a twig snap. She wheeled to see a man’s shadow running towards her. He held something in his hand. She fired, and he fell.

The spell broken, the silence ended, her fellow soldiers shouted and shot. Men fell, and the battlefield rang once more with screams of terror and agony. It lasted an eternity longer than any of the battles before, the ones where the enemy was a nameless, faceless evil.

Eternity ended, and silence fell once again like the blade of a guillotine. She finally turned to look at the man who had fallen so near her, her first kill. He held something small, probably a grenade, but that wasn’t what chilled her soul more than the wind and biting cold.

Antoine’s face was turned toward her. She looked away at the battlefield, where the fresh blood shown like the crimson ornaments of a holiday tree.


*Due to the holidays and other life issues, I’m posting this a little early. It’s a (mildly edited) repost of a story I wrote several years ago. I hope you liked it.

**originally posted for #fridayflash  on January 1, 2010. This story was inspired by the impromptu Xmas truces of previous wars.

***image courtesy of

Update: 2016-12-08


Yes, I know…Exciting title, right?

Now that the mayhem of NaNoWriMo is over, I have begun taking the advice given at the Cuyahoga Library’s recent Indie Authors’ Conference. To that end, I have created a separate author site and separate social media accounts for my author presence. If you’d like to check them out, the new page is at

On the new site, you will find some prose and poetry writing samples. I tried to include a diverse selection, so odds are there will be something there you like! My other social media accounts are @THECatRussell on Twitter and also Cat Russell on FaceBook. I don’t have much going on the social media accounts yet, though the website content is fairly filled out. Now, I just need to work on the look.

Anyway, if you get a chance to check them out, I hope you like them. They are works in progress, so you’ve been warned. Don’t forget to prepare for the coming apocalypse, and–in the meantime–have a lovely week.


On Writing: Life After NaNoWriMo


Now that the November madness of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is over, many marathon wordsmiths experience post-coital letdowns from the month-long literary high. After writing so many words, crafting stories, getting sidetracked into other plots and misbehaving characters, what’s next? If you’ve “won,” you’ve already proved you have the chops to keep with a crazy writing schedule and complete the task you set for yourself. And if you didn’t hit 50,000 words? You still won–because you wrote something you wouldn’t have otherwise done. In the immortal words of Hamlet, “Words, words, words.” You wrote a hell of a lot of them last month; what will you do now?

You have several choices.

  1. Do nothing.

Take a well-deserved break, work on something else or nothing else, and just enjoy the holiday season. Maybe bake yourself a treat like cookies or a nice chocolate cake.

  1. Edit your Nano novel.

If you are that gung-ho, by all means you can start editing right away. You can try to keep your November momentum going into the new year. And I wish you all the best of luck. But you would benefit from distancing yourself from what you wrote before you attempt to edit.

If you take the month off, you can look at your manuscript with fresh eyes; misspellings and typos will jump out at you, making the entire editing process go more smoothly.

  1. Work on something else.

Did you have another writing project that you postponed until after November? Now is the time to pick it up. You can still cash in on some of your residual writing energy by creating an entirely new story, blogging, or doing some other creative endeavour such as podcasting. One of the greatest things about participating in NaNoWriMo is that you get a fresh infusion of inspiration and energy that often spills over into other aspects of your life. I’ve found that during November, even though I’m racing to write more words, I also have more energy to do things like housework. I’m happier and don’t mind other chores so much. Who would have thought that writing 50,000 words in a month would result in cleaner dishes and a more organized craft room?

So, those are your basic choices. Nothing earth-shattering, I know, but sometimes it helps to have the obvious stated in clear and simple terms. Remember, you’ve written a rough draft novel!  Sometimes I let things sit for awhile, sometimes I work on other things, and sometimes I try something new. My last NaNo-novel I converted into a weekly serial on my blog before editing it back into a single book. The point is, do whatever feels right for you and makes you happy. Life is too short to waste being anything else.

Thanks for visiting, and have a lovely week!