Monday, September 24, 2012


               I'm turning forty.  How the hell did that happen?
               At forty, I thought I would weigh less and earn more.  I'd hoped that I would have children and own a home.     
               The thing about a life is that you only get one of them.  I've tried to live my life with that in mind, but I just seem to wind up forever starting over.  I think when I turn sixty, I'll still be resolving to get my life started.
               Goddamned milestone birthdays.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Random Piece from Subliminal Debris (working title)

            In her dreams, Lyla always ran on all fours.
            What did it say about her that she could sit at a desk all day, pay a mortgage, embrace monogamy, and aspire to 2.5 children, but in her subconscious, she was clearly still an animal?
            Lyla suspected that all of the trappings of civilization were just that -- trappings.  Underneath, man was still as primal as he once was.
            She contemplated the primal nature of man as she navigated the frozen food aisles of the grocery store.  The absurdity of this was not lost upon her.  She would have been hard pressed to think of a more sterile activity; the teeth had been thoroughly pulled out of the process of food acquisition.  But man was still a predator.  A carnivore is still a carnivore even if he distances himself from the kill of the animal by buying its meat wrapped up in neat little packages. 
            One could cloak a nasty truth in pretty finery -- fine clothes, face powder, perfume.  But putting a ball gown on a rhinoceros doesn't make it any less a rhinoceros. 
            If an animal denies its instincts long enough, will they simply go away?
            Evidently not, Lyla thought.  After all, at night, she walked like a gorilla, and she ran like a wolf.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

5 Minute Fiction Challenge

I'll be guest judging Nicole Wolverton's 5 Minute Fiction Contest this week.  The winner of the competition will receive an e-copy of Daydreams of Seppuku.  The contest begins at 8:30 EST tonight.  :)  For more information, check out the following link:

Monday, September 17, 2012

Mortal Ink - short story part 2

            Mortal Ink (part 2)

Alisha Adkins, 2012

The brothers froze the upper half of one man and the lower half of the other.  The following morning, they set to work on the remaining halves;  Michael began with an upper body and Matthew started with a lower. 
            Initially, drawing and inking went smoothly for the brothers.  The tattoos they created on that first day were works of rare beauty, for they had found that applying vibrant ink to dead skin created colors that popped brilliantly against grey flesh.  However, by that evening, they had already begun to experience some complications due to the deceased nature of their clients.
            "The bleed is different."  Michael noted with some frustration.
            The ink was developing an increasing large spread area when applied to the dead skin, making precision difficult to achieve.
            "Compensate.  Adjust for it.  Adapt to accommodate the media, brother -- it's a dynamic canvas."
            Michael sighed.  "That's a nice way to say it's getting more and more rotten."
            "Mmmhmm." Matthew agreed, scratching his beard.  "But there must be suffering for art."
            "Absolutely, brother.  But nobody said the suffering had to be the artists'." Michael said with a smile.
            In all, it took three days for the pair to complete the work on their respective halves.  The works of both siblings were beautifully intricate, belying the siblings' artistic maturation.   Each had adorned his half in his own unique style.  Matthew had tattooed elaborate, interlaced abstract patterns around the legs of his client body.  Michael had drawn detailed mythological figures, depicting gods of death and passage to the afterlife. 
            "You tattooed coins on his eyelids?" Matthew asked, surveying his brother's work.
            Michael nodded, unable to conceal a little smile of pride in his work.
            "Nice touch!" he said approvingly.
            Michael felt that this body, rife with symbolism, could now comfortably pass out of the world of the living.  He was very pleased.
            "Expression is paramount." he said.
            "It's really a shame that we can't display our masterpieces." Matthew lamented, running his fingers over the designs he had etched into his own client body.
            "I do feel that this piece is worthy of framing." Michael concurred wistfully.
            Struck with an idea, Matthew bounded into the back room and returned with his camera.
            "Artist's pride will be our downfall, of course." he said, as he began to frame a shot.
            "Oh, that's perfect! " Michael exclaimed, naturally picking up his brother's train of thought.  "As long as they are close ups, nobody has to know the tats are on dead people.  We can put the photographs all along that wall." he suggested, gesturing.
            Matthew was already beginning to shoot details of his own work.  "Such a shame.  I did some really elaborate patterns there. " he muttered to himself as he adjusted his shot to exclude some areas that were growing off-color.
            After he had taken a few dozen photos, he moved over to his brother.
            "Photograph the less decayed bits." Michael instructed.  "Zoom out as much as you can there -- lose the rotting details.  That bit is too green and slimy." he said, pointing.
            Once they were done, they set out the other halves to thaw.  They were disappointed by the length of time it took for these portions of the bodies to grow malleable.  Time was ticking away, delaying their grand opening.  The gore had all been cleaned away, the equipment was arranged, the photos of their work were hung, but the doors had to remain closed while there were partial bodies resting in their client chairs.  They were determined to finish their flesh masterpieces.  It had become a rite of passage.
            When the two remaining halves were mostly thawed, they made their next disheartening discovery.  Both halves were littered with patches of freezer burn, rendering large portions of skin too unsightly to use.  Once they began to work on the bodies, they also found that the consistency of the flesh had been changed by freezing.  The skin no longer adhered well to the muscle it cloaked and was more flimsy and fragile.  Even gently applying a needle to it invariably was producing tears.
            "Damned rancid skin, tearing as I ink..." Michael grumbled as he worked. 
            "It is delicate work, that's for sure." Matthew said.  "It requires a gentle hand.  I must say though, we are going to come away from this experience more skilled than any regular old tattoo artists of the living."
            Michael chuckled.  "We ought to open a tattoo shop just for the dead... We could call it After Images." 
            " Post-Mortem Ink." Matthew suggested.
            "Afterlife-Ready Designs?"
            "Ah, pipedreams, brother." Matthew sighed.
            "If only this were ancient Egypt, I bet we could actually market the idea." Michael said.  "I have always loved tattoos as an art form because the art becomes part of self-concept, a piece of the tableau of a person's life journey.  But now I'm beginning to think that preparing men for their final journeys may be the highest form of art of all."
            "It does indeed take special skill, an artistic vision and a steady, careful hand to send men to their makers adorned with a message."
            "Even bloating as they are now -- they may be growing ripe, but they are rife with symbolism." Michael murmured, the eyes of the big man growing wet from emotion.
            "And the dead are really ideal clients -- they don't move or whine or complain. "  Matthew pointed out.
            "Or even bleed."
            "Yes.  If only there was money in this..."
            Then the brothers fell into silence. 
            They worked carefully upon their masterpieces until they were complete, then photographed for display the areas that looked least necrotic  and disposed of the bodies.  After spending the next couple of days on efforts to freshen the air in the shop, they opened their doors. 
            But it was as if inking the dead had tainted their dreams.  Matthew and Michael were finally creating their art for a living and working for themselves, but neither brother was able to find joy in achieving his former dream.  Each day, they inked the images their clients requested, secretly dissatisfied forevermore with the confines of living flesh.  

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Mortal Ink - short story part 1

Mortal Ink

(part 1)
Alisha Adkins, 2012

Both brothers had done some freelance work as tattoo artists in the past, but now their dream was about to come true at last.  Having finally managed to scrape together just enough money to open a shop together, they were now on the verge of going into business for themselves.  
            The brothers were nervous and excited, almost giddy with anticipation.  It was quite late, but they were still in their shop unpacking and setting up.  They were anxious for their shop to be ready and hoped to be able to open their doors in the next week.
            Although they were not yet open to the public, Matthew had left the shop's front door unlocked in order to transport equipment from his car.  While he and his brother Michael were moving one of their new padded leather client chairs,  two men burst into the shop brandishing guns. 
            Two slightly built men in rumpled "business casual" attire had simply walked into their shop, slamming the door behind them as they waved pistols and loudly began demanding money. Both of the men sported greasy hair and wiry mustaches, were nearly a foot shorter than the brothers (who were both six foot three and a half), and were positively wispy compared to the brothers' broad, muscular frames.  One of them was wearing a bolo tie.  
            Michael and Matthew, still clutching the chair they had been arranging, looked at each other with bewilderment.
            One of the men strode over to them, his chest puffed out confrontationally, and unceremoniously struck Michael in the face with the butt of his revolver. 
            These hoodlums seemed intent upon intimidating, beating, and robbing them. Matthew and Michael both released their grasp of the chair and began to back away from the men. Michael clutched his bleeding face as he backpedaled. 
            "Guys, we don't have any cash because our business isn't open yet." Matthew tried to explain. 
            "Yeah, I'm afraid that we have nothing to give you guys." Michael echoed, punctuating his statement by spitting some blood from his mouth. 
            "Your equipment looks expensive." the man with the bolo tie said.  "What is that, a tattoo gun?  I bet all this junk would bring us some good money." 
            "Please don't do that." Matthew implored the men.
            "Please just spare us and leave the equipment." Michael pleaded, alarm rising in his voice.
            They both knew that, if their equipment was stolen, they wouldn't be able to get together enough money to replace it.  It would mean the end of their dream. 
            But the brothers' pleas fell on deaf ears; the robbers resolved to take their gear and set about examining a nearby tattoo gun.  Having backed all the way to the wall, Matthew looked behind him to the ceremonial katanas that they had meticulously displayed there just earlier that day.  While their assailants were still engrossed in appraising their equipment, he took one from where it hung on the wall, handed it to Michael, and then took the other for himself.  As if in synchronization, the two slashed their would-be attackers in unison, each cleaving his chosen foe in half. 
            The resulting mess was phenomenal. The clean up was going to add days to their projected grand opening date.  So much blood to mop up...
            And then there was the matter of the bodies.   If they reported the attempted robbery, they would undoubtedly come under scrutiny for protecting themselves and dispatching these criminals.  More importantly, the shop would become a crime scene.  That could easily add an extra month before they would be able to open and was bound to generally cause an immense amount of hassle.
            "You know, I doubt that anyone knows they were planning to come here and rob us." Matthew said as they stood over the halved bodies.  "I don't think they planned it; it was a crime of opportunity.  A door open late at night.  Nobody can tie these guys to us."
            Michael nodded.  The brothers were frequently of a single mind.  Thus, they quickly were able to reach a consensus on reporting the events of the evening.
            "Let's not." they agreed.
            "So what should we do with the bodies? " Michael inquired.
            "Well, for the time being, I guess we could freeze them.  I have a nice chest freezer."
            "Yeah, that'll prevent stink until we decide how to dispose of them.  Good idea." Michael nodded.
            Having determined a course of action, the two brothers began to peel off the bloody clothes that clung to the upper and lower halves of the bodies and then wrap them in plastic wrap. However, Matthew soon paused, an idea beginning to take shape in his mind.
            "Are you thinking what I'm thinking, Brother?" he asked.
            "I think I might be, Brother." Michael responded, a smile beginning to curl at the corners of his mouth.
            "There is a remarkable lack of tattoos on these two." Matthew said, a grin breaking across his face.
            "Not one tattoo on either of them." Michael concurred.
            "So much empty space." Matthew said solemnly.
            "It's a waste." Michael nodded.
            "Like throwing away a blank canvas." Matthew sighed.
            "You know, Matthew, we both could probably use a little more practice before we open to the public." Michael said somberly.
            "They would make ideal practice dummies for tattoo artists in training, wouldn't they?" Matthew thought aloud, a hint of excitement beginning to creep into his voice.
            "It's rare that a tattoo artist gets the opportunity to tat someone from head to toe." Michael said.
            "Let alone choose the subject of the art himself!" Matthew added.
            "It's an opportunity." Michael intoned emphatically.
            "It would be a crime to waste so much empty skin."
            "We would be remiss to squander this chance."
            "Then it's settled?"

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Absence Makes the Heart Indifferent

I haven't posted in a while.  Insidious politics at work have thrown me into a funk, and we evacuated for Hurricane Isaac.  I'll be back into the routine shortly armed with lots of demented short stories that are waiting impatiently to be turned loose upon the world.