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Barrel Of Horror

Ever wonder what life is like inside the Barrel Of Monkeys? Neither did I, before. Now I have. Sorry. New story.
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It all started when she had friends over. It started out normally, we were all arm in arm, kids laughing, us reds doing our best to beat the blues. You know. Then they started laughing, the kids did. I got tossed, landed on an edge and bounced into drawer, I think. She pushed stuff into the drawer when cleaning up and was pushed towards the back. There was a crack in the back of the drawer and eventually I fell out, stuck in the darkness under the chest of drawers. Just me, alone. ... more »

Promises To Keep

Hmm. I wrote a short zombie story. Flash fiction for/of the brain dead. Because, you know, zombies.
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She lined up the shot with the sight, felt the weight of the cold barrel in her hand and the press of the stock against her shoulder, and squeezed a bit on the trigger. The memory stutters and halts at times like these. Sure, there are the jeans, his dumb-ass sneakers and most of the torn sweatshirt he was wearing, but beyond that it’s all guesswork and subliminal pattern recognition. But the mind weaves it all together, eventually, assembles the jigsaw puzzle that is the horror-show heading her direction, and parades the last few weeks of highlights in front of her. ... more »

The Mites Of Time

New short story about catatonia. What if you could get inside the head of the person suffering from catatonia?
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She checked the mirror before heading to breakfast. She could see it, the time lost. A wrinkle just beneath her eyes, subtle, not deep. Still, it wasn’t there before. Kreiger had stolen more of her time. The mites hadn’t completely settled, the floaters a bit too numerous. There was a cost to her impatience and that cost reflected back at her from the mirror. ... more »

Rearranging Worlds

The rain only knows that it must fall. It has no intent. It seeks no path. But on the ground, well, that is another matter. Raindrops form puddles, congregate together and await the jumps of little girls, and the chance to fall again.
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Lilith sucked in air, held her breath, squatted and jumped for all she was worth. A few feet later she landed – SPLASH! – two-footed in a small puddle. She giggled. ... more »

The Place Where Hope Goes

We each define our own reality. You can think me twisted or bent – unfortunate, maybe – but don’t pity me. I have something many don’t. New short fiction.
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A note, a silk flower, memories. These are all I have left now. But who knows how real they are. Oh, the note and silk flower are real enough, tactile. But the memories associated with them are nebulous, filtered through fog, viewed through frosted glass. They are mine, but I can’t say for certain that I own them, yet. At best, I am their caretaker. ... more »

I Am Monster

There is a greater game at play here. One at odds with itself, one with a long history of stripping individuals of significance, of tossing them aside and into the fires in a gesture of appeasement.
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In the distance explosions light up the night sky, their light exposing silhouetted buildings and the smoke and airborne debris from previous bombs that hang suspended in the air. ... more »

The Slant Of Sunlight

A grasshopper landed on my windowpane and stayed there. He seemed to me to be a happy grasshopper. His left front leg was bent in a way that made it appear as if he were waving hello.
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A grasshopper landed on my windowpane and stayed there. He seemed to me to be a happy grasshopper. His left front leg was bent in a way that made it appear as if he were waving hello. He peered into my place with big eyes. I imagined he was wondering what was going on, what I was doing. How could he get in through the window to be a part of things on the other side? ... more »

The Slant Of Sunlight

All good artists must find a way to work through their own limitations and quell their demons and find their truth.
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A grasshopper landed on my windowpane and stayed there. He seemed to me to be a happy grasshopper. His left front leg was bent in a way that made it appear as if he were waving hello. He peered into my place with big eyes. I imagined he was wondering what was going on, what I was doing. How could he get in through the window to be a part of things on the other side? ... more »

National Treasures

Something missing from our treasure trove today are the heroes who carry our country on their backs and blaze a unique trail for the rest of us to follow. They are the stuff of ticker tape parades and universal admiration.
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Ask any man or woman on the street to name a national treasure – something so far removed from the public psyche that many will stutter or stumble over their own words – and you are likely to hear things like the Grand Canyon, Lincoln Memorial and Disney World. All are important cultural places, to be sure. The Grand Canyon is one of the few spaces in nature that still inspires and moves us collectively. No small feat in our CGI world. The Lincoln Memorial, with its hulking size, marble edifice and piercing gaze, reminds us of a difficult past that is still unifying and fracturing our nation in its own perspective-dependent way. And what would our world be like without the genius of Disney and those who have helped sculpt generations of imagination. ... more »

Take A Walk On The Wild Side

Cincinnati’s Over The Rhine. Then. A convergence of the grind and grit of life with the surreal.
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Cincinnati’s Over The Rhine. Then. A convergence of the grind and grit of life with the surreal. Over The Rhine in 1980 was considered one of the country’s worst and most dangerous urban areas. But it wasn’t always like that. Nor is it today. The Over The Rhine area of Cincinnati began its life as the place to be in town. High end apartments and homes, clubs and live music. Some of the best urban architecture anywhere in the United States – including Art Deco, Italianate, and Gothic buildings, and Music Hall’s Venetian Gothic – can be found in the neighborhood. The mostly red brick buildings were built by German immigrants in the mid-1800s, who also named the place and helped define its character ... more »

New Car Smell

I love the Apple ecosystem, the fluid ownership, and the fact that I can have my applications, files and settings immediately transferred to a new device. And I hate it.
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My daughter often laments the fact that I have mostly forsaken books composed of wood pulp and glue for their electronic brothers. Like many, she believes there is something to be gained from turning actual pages and holding in her hands something with a bit of heft and density. A forest of binary numbers, translated to their representative letters, spaces and punctuation marks and projected through a screen of glass, lack a sense of permanence for her, somehow aren’t as real. She shares this perspective with others who still have a foot firmly planted in a past that is quickly receding in our collective rear-view mirror. ... more »

It Isn't 42

The problem with our search for meaning is that we are attempting to place a pin on a map and beat a path to a fixed destination. But there is no map. And where we are going is anyone’s guess. But, still, just a guess.
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One truism consistently reveals itself to us in all parts of life: the simple answer is usually the accurate answer. Fabricating complex reasons for something – anything – using circular logic and impossible leaps of reason isn’t the simple answer. There has to be something else. ... more »

Loss Of Innocence

It’s not the woods that have changed. It’s more that the freedom I experienced as a youth – that letting go and just being – always ends up in shackles, dragging the weight of time behind it
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Our favorite thing to do everywhere in the woods was to turn over the large stones and fallen branches and look at the things living beneath them. We wanted to know what was underneath. A few minutes along the path and at the bottom of a hill was a creek. In the creek it was even more true about turning over rocks, except there we were looking for crawdads. Sometimes we would capture them, sometimes not. It was more about the hunt. ... more »

Uncle Bill Is Everywhere

My uncle spent his energy trying to convince us that he was actually the real life Archie Bunker
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As a kid, I thought my uncle’s basement was filled with wonders. Neon signs from local bars hung on the walls. And then there were the mechanical toys. My uncle was known for keeping a crazy collection of battery controlled animals and cars. These were before wireless control and plastic injection molding. Most of the things had metal under pinnings and cloth hand-sewn around them. Each was programmed to do one specific thing. Everyone’s favorite was a monkey – complete with a red and white striped jockey suit – that would bang two symbols together when turned on. It was utterly obnoxious and loud. And its painted on mouth had a permanent smile that looked more like a scream, especially once you had heard its symbol banging madness. Yet, something about it got everyone laughing and smiling. ... more »

To My Daughter Upon Graduating High School

I have many expectations of you, not the least of which is this: I expect you to fail. A lot, and often. I don’t say this because I am angry or doubtful of your future. Quite the opposite.
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Our models of work and career are no longer relevant. They are no longer capable of feeding us, either literally or spiritually. Let me explain. Your world is the world of revolution and change. It is the world of connectedness and empowerment. It is the world of your own individual making. And you are - if you choose - the leader of this world. ... more »

Copyright © Jack McDaniel