Those Who Do Not Know

Those Who Do Not Know

A dizzying array of multicolored buttons twinkled like stars in the darkened room. The swishing of liquid was the only sound. It was coming from a standing pod set into one of the walls. Eleven similar pods wall lay silent.

A high-pitched alarm broke the harmony of blinking lights and moving liquid, as if an unseen timer had finished its countdown. The one pod slid open, ejecting clear goo and a body to the floor. The impact forced the figure to gasp. It writhed on the floor, expelling more of the same liquid it was covered in and taking in recycled oxygen into its lungs.

Confusion. What happened? Where is the rest of the crew?

It coughed and tried its voice, but the vocal cords were new and not use yet to talking. After a few minutes of steady breathing and a run through of the vocal exercises it always instructed others to perform, the figure rasped an audible, “LIGHTS!”

The Replication Bay soon filled with soft, luminescent light, revealing the man who lie on the floor. Soft as the lights were, they were blinding to his newly replicated body. He struggled to his legs, but like the rest of him, they too were new and unused. The goo around him slowly seeped into the perforated floor. At the same time, the pod behind him slid closed with a hiss and soon was being refilled with the same clear liquid.

The man wobbled his way like an infant to a nearby display console. He suddenly recalled his instructor’s words at the academy: “It’s like being violently born.” Until he had experienced it himself, he didn’t know how true those words were.

The computer confirmed that something had gone very wrong. The station’s memory was corrupted, unable to give the current date, how much time had passed since the catastrophe, nor the nature of the event. The only functional systems were life support and artificial gravity.

Normally, the Replication Bay wasn’t supposed to be operational in a cataclysmic event, but as the Chief Replication Engineer, the man knew how to tie the Bay’s system into the emergency power systems. Always have a plan B, as his father would tell him. If his vitals flatlined, the Bay would activate and get to work gestating a new body for him with his on-file DNA and memory backups. Though highly illegal, he was now glad he took the risk.

Whatever had happened, it was after his last memory upload, because he couldn’t recall any sort of hint of catastrophe approaching the station.

No record, no communications, and no signs of life. He had to go investigate for himself.

“UNIFORM!” he yelled to the room.


Newly suited in the grey poly-fiber jumper that indicated he was a replicator, he ventured out of the Replication Bay and into the corridor. The noisy hissing of the Bay’s doors concerned him. Last he remembered, they glided noiselessly, like all the other station’s doors. It was as if they had fallen to disuse.

The red emergency lights blinked steadily like a resting heartbeat, unlike his own, as the man cautiously explored the corridors. He moved slowly, half because he was afraid of what he would find, half because his legs weren’t quite yet used to walking. Something far away hissed uncontrollably, as if a pipe had burst recently.

At every turn, the man expected to come across a gruesome scene, either someone dead or dying, but there were no signs of life, or death, anywhere. A nagging feeling in the back of his mind told him to find the escape pods and get the hell out of there. He didn’t listen to it.

As he finally reached the Bridge, he found what he had expected to find all along; he just didn’t imagine the scale of it.

The large room, usually filled with life, was littered with bodies in various pieces and forms of decay. They must have come from hundreds of people. In one far corner, there was even pile of bones, picked clean.

Everywhere he looked there were the signs of his same grey uniform. His heart beat rapidly in his chest. Every fiber in his newly-minted body told him to run, but of course he couldn’t; didn’t. It was when his eyes fell upon a nearby half-eaten face, the teeth marks clear in the flesh, that he thought to himself, “How many times have I been here? How many times did I not go to the escape pods?”

“Right on time,” said a ragged voice behind him.

It was the captain. Under his left arm, he had a makeshift crutch. In his right hand, more like a claw now, he held an energy pistol. One shot would overload the nervous system with a beam of energy, basically frying the person from the inside. His left leg was twisted, as if it had broken a long time ago and healed incorrectly. No wonder why he didn’t make it to the escape pods. You’d have to climb a set of stairs to reach them. Now, the useless leg just dragged beside him.

The captain’s uniform was in rags about him, it was hard to tell in the red emergency lights, but the Chief Replication Engineer guessed they were covered in blood. The man’s characteristically clean-shaven face now sported a long, greying beard. His eyes looked both wild and haunted.

“The solar flare fucked up everything, including the food replicators.” A sudden flash of hunger. “So many died. So many failed systems. The gas leak in sector nine saw to the other survivors. Luckily for me, you’re the only thing left I can count on,” cackled the captain.

The Chief Replicator’s last unrecorded thoughts were, “At least the gun will be quick.”



Weekly Update – “Here’s Our Next Contestant”

Weekly Update – “Here’s Our Next Contestant”

The momentum I built up last week did well to serve me this week, especially since I woke up a few mornings feeling entirely awful and plagued with migraine headaches. Despite these ailments, I still trudged on, though admittedly not at an early enough hour like I hoped. I’m very proud with myself that I’ve kept up with my daily flash fiction posts on Twitter and have also done a few more page edits on my novel, My Personable Demon.

Now, one of the downsides of being a “starving-artist” is that you’re pretty much piss-poor. Until I find some more patrons or find a publisher for my book, I have to find a way to make money with my writing. That said, I did some searching on Tuesday for writing grants and contests.

Poets & Writers is a wonderful source for both and then some. Surprisingly, there were a few short-story contests whose submission deadlines were yesterday. I settled on entering 3 of the contests, as each one averaged a $30 entry fee, and I also scrupulously made sure my submitted manuscripts met their criteria for submission.

Most contests ask for things like page numbers to be included and your name NOT to be included anywhere in your manuscripts, but some also have extra criteria to follow: a maximum and/or minimum word count for short stories; a cover page; miscellaneous document formatting; etc. One of the contests even stated that if the short stories were less than 1,500 words, I could submit up to three as one entry, as long as each one was under the specified word amount. From there, they would judge each separately. This is why you have to be very carefully with understanding everything a contest asks for. If the judges see at least one of asked criteria isn’t met, even if you’re story reads like Hemingway, you’ll be disqualified. Take the time and read the rules. Wouldn’t you kick yourself if you found your work was refused due to not double spacing? Worst yet, you’re out the $30 dollars.

Of course, just because I entered three contests doesn’t mean I’m a sure winner. One of the contests proudly announced that they were up to 691 entries so far. With those numbers, my odds are fairly-slim. But, how else will you know if you’re going to win if you’re not willing to play? That’s what writing for a living ultimately hinges on. When you’re trying to sell your book to publishers or your short story to a magazine, there’s always going to be the chance that you’ll get rejected. More often than not, you will get rejected. Better yet, entering contests help to keep your writing skills sharp, as they motivate you to create more fresh work.

In my opinion, it’s those that continue to submit their work, both learning from the rejections and refuse to stop that will ultimately win out.

Bathroom Quesadilla

There was a quesadilla in the bathroom.


A nervous boy, aged twelve and a bit too short for his age, appeared in the doorway. He often was compared to a chihuahua by his siblings.

“Yes mamá?” he said.

The middle-aged woman turned around to face her son. “Why is there a quesadilla on the bathroom floor?”

The boy wrinkled his brow, perplexed.

“Perdón, mamá?” he answered.

She narrowed her eyes down at him, as he barely came up to her chest level. Wordlessly, she stepped aside.

Low and behold, there was a quesadilla lying in front of the toilet.

“Again, why is there a perfectly good quesadilla on my freshly cleaned floor?” The woman placed her hands on her hips and studied her son’s face.

The boy was at a loss for words.

The woman tapped a chancla-clad foot impatiently. The boy became instantly terrified. Despite it, he remained silent, truly unable to account for the quesadilla’s existence.

Instead of what the boy had expected, his mother said, “Eat it.”

The boy’s jaw dropped open.

“E-eat it, mamá?”

“Don’t make me repeat myself, Martin,” said the woman. She continued to tap her foot. The boy knew better than to protest further.

“You have five minutes,” she said as brushed passed him into the hallway. Before she was out of sight, she added, “And if I hear anything like a toilet flush, you won’t be able to sit for a week.”

The boy looked down at the quesadilla. Where in Mother Marie’s name did it come from?

He walked up to it and bent his knees to get a better look. It appeared to be a perfectly normal quesadilla. Did she really expect him to eat it? He quickly answered his own question; his mother never joked.

Martin looked behind him, expecting to see either his mother, father, or any of his siblings standing there, laughing at him and enjoying the joke they were playing. Nobody was there. He looked back at the quesadilla and studied it for a time.

“It’s been three minutes,” his mother’s voice carried to him.

He picked up the quesadilla with both hands. To his surprise, it was still warm. The boy brought it up to his noise and smelled it. The quesadilla was perhaps the best thing he’d ever smelled. Suddenly, he became aware of how hungry he really was.

He took a bite.

Instantly, his tastes buds flooded with flavor. It was if the Pope had ordained it; as if God himself had cooked it in Heaven’s kitchen.

Soon, the whole thing was gone. The boy patted his belly. It was the most satisfying thing he had ever eaten. A light tingle ran up his body. It was a pleasant feeling.

As he stood up, his mother appeared back in the doorway. “Okay,” she said. “Let’s see.”

She checked his pockets, the cabinets, even behind the toilet. Satisfied that the quesadilla had been eaten, she looked down at her son, when she noticed the top of his head was almost to her chin now.

“Martin, have you grown?” she said.

The boy smiled, feeling and looking perfectly at ease. “I’m a growing boy, mamá.”

Ever since that day, Martin always checked the bathroom first thing in the morning, but he never again found another mysterious bathroom quesadilla.


Creative Momentum

Creative Momentum

This post is part of a weekly update I will be making consistently available to my patrons on Patreon. I will still post some updates here to my blog from time to time, but will most likely be focusing on the flash fictions and short stories predominantly. If you want to see what I’ve been working on lately, check out my Patreon page at

One positive thing can be said about forcing yourself to work; it creates momentum.

It’s not the same as forcing yourself out of bed and on your way to the typical 9-5 job; not to me, anyway. With writing, the eventual temporary curse is doubt. Doubt of your work’s value, doubt that you can write anything good again, doubt that it all matters. Consistently writing, namely creative writing, builds a momentum that propels you forward, often breaking the brick walls of doubt and writer’s block that seemingly jump onto the tracks. An eventual and wonderful side-effect of this momentum is walking up, eager to jump back behind the keyboard and get back to creating. Fuck doubt.

The best I can equate it to is the same kind of high gym rats get after a good workout session. The first few workouts, or probably more accurately the first few dozen, will feel like Hell, leaving one drained and asking themselves: Why did I want to do this again? But then, it gets better.

I’m quite happy with the momentum that I’ve built this week. It allowed me to get up first thing yesterday morning and get straight to work on a flash fiction idea that had been eating at me for a couple days, after which I then went right back to working on my novel. Momentum makes you hungry for more.

The flash fiction I wrote is called When You Don’t Learn. It’s a sci-fi work that plays with feelings of isolation and disconnectedness. Flash fiction works for this type of story, as the cap on words already makes the story a microcosm compared to short stories. It’ll post both on my blog ( and Patreon page (

As for my novel, My Personable Demon, I’m still reworking the very first chapter. Subsequent re-readings always come up with more “flaws” that I need to address before I am thoroughly satisfied and can move on. It’s true that the real work comes in the editing process.

Otherwise, I’ve also been investing a sizeable amount of energy into the YouTube channel my friends and I created; Call of the Nerd. Overall, it’s a silly labor, but still fun all the while. As of right now, it has us playing video games and capturing our reactions. I hope to someday soon get into producing skits. For now, I do all the editing and posting of the videos on Call of the Nerd, so I’ve felt pulled every which way this week with work. Yet again, it’s wonderful as it has both given me a break from writing, while still feeding my creative momentum.

The weekend will really be the test of whether I can keep this movement going. Lend your well wishes in that I still can propel forward with the speed of a flying spaghetti monster. Don’t give way to doubt. Fuck it.

A Date with Midnight

A Date with Midnight

-Reports are coming in that the Midnight Murderer’s latest victim has just passed away. Seventeen-year-old Geil Naiman of nearby King County was found in the early hours of April 9th, one week from today. Miss Naiman is now the serial killer’s sixth known victim and only one yet found alive upon discovery. After being rushed to Saint Frances de Sales Hospital, doctors swiftly placed her into an induced coma due to her extensive injuries. The death of Miss Naiman is a hard blow to the Midnight Murderer investigation, as officers had hoped she could offer the first description of the serial killer once she regained consciousness. The only facts currently known about the killer is that he targets women aged seventeen to nineteen, brutally mangles their bodies with what investigators believe to be consistent with an everyday gardening trowel, and leaves their bodies at secluded areas around midni-

Bright-pink tipped fingers switched off the mustang’s radio with a decisive “click.”

“What’d you do that for?” said the girl’s date. He tried his best at a reassuring smile, only to achieve with what amounted to be awkwardness. “I was listening to that.”

The eighteen-year-old rolled her eyes and kept ignoring him from the passenger seat. To her, the passing scenery of darkness and open road was more thrilling than this date. More accurately, she was lost in her own thoughts. Why did she ever agree to this blind date to begin with?

Oh right. She was told he had a body built like a rock and a car to die for. The signs of a bad boy, and boy did she ever love her bad boys. To her horror, when he pulled up in his cherry-red Mustang GT, he was wearing a tan cardigan sweater and had a bouquet of flowers for her. Total nerd!

“Again, I’m very glad you agreed to go out with me,” he said for the umpteenth time as they drove through the night. “It’s hard these days to find a good girl, you know?” She didn’t respond. He licked his dry lips and continued. “My mama, y-you know, always told me to find a good girl, by golly.”

She swore she would just about gag if she had to listen to much more of this. Just keep your yap shut, she kept thinking to herself. After all, they were in the middle of nowhere and she would rather not thumb it home, what with killers on the loose and all.

She glanced at her watch. A quarter to midnight. Date almost over. Just got to make it home. Thank God.

To other girls, the night wouldn’t have been regarded as “bad.” In fact, they might have found his awkwardness charming. However, as she recounted the night’s proceeding, she saw nothing but an utter snore fest.

First, he took her to eat at a standard diner just outside of town. She didn’t know a single person there and vice-versa, but at the time she thought that was a good thing. He opened the door for her and everything. What a dweeb. He even pulled her chair out for her! Ugh!

The conversation was dull as dirt too. All he did was go on and on about himself and his is own life. What about her? Was she just chopped liver or something? His dad had just recently passed away, a car accident or something. Don’t get her wrong, it was sad and all, but still, not first date conversation. He continued on with how he was an only child, so he inherited everything! Wouldn’t have to work again a day in his life it seemed like; lucky bastard. His mom it seemed also died, years ago or something. He hardly could shut up about her, how she had tried to teach him gardening and cooking and other junk before she croaked.

Second, he insisted on taking her to see that new Robert Redford movie, Barefoot in the Park at the drive-in theatre ten-miles out of town. The movie was extremely boring. Her date didn’t even try anything, the goody-goody.

She started to think there was hope yet when he offered her a drink from a plaid-colored thermos, but it turned out to be plain old water! And for the absolute finisher, he was a complete nervous wreck during the entire film. The intimate atmosphere of the two of them sitting in his Mustang was obviously too much for him. The most he would do was hold her hand, and even that had him trembling. To remember those clammy hands…

The driver cleared his throat several times, wanting to say something but finding it difficult. Finally, he croaked, “I’d love to see you again. When are you free next?”

His date’s eyes bulged.


“Uh, what?”

“I need water, please,” said the girl. It was the only thing she should think of to say.

“Oh. Oh! Right. Sorry, one second.”

He fumbled with the cap one handed while he continued to drive. Finally, cap successfully off, he handed her the thermos, just as the Mustang hit probably the only pothole for miles.

“The FUCK!” screamed the girl as the contents of the plaid thermos spilled all over her.

“I’m s-so sorry!” said her date.

He pulled over to the side of the road and killed the engine. The only lights around were the stars and the Mustang’s headlights.

If the girl hadn’t been so furious, she would have regarded the darkened shrubbery that surrounded them; that lined the empty and silent road. Then, her thoughts would have led her to the unknown things that could possibly be lying in wait, ready to gobble up little girls, good or bad. They tasted the same either way. Finally, she would have apologized to her date and begged him to continue down the road. Happy endings and bubble gum. But, she was furious, and so none of those things ever came to pass.

The boy said he’d get out and get her a rag from the trunk.

“You know,” he began as he popped the trunk, “good girls like you shouldn’t swear. My mama always told me that.”

Drenched, in the middle of nowhere, and sick of her company, the girl couldn’t stop herself any longer.

“Horseshit!” she yelled. “I’ve just had about enough of your good-manners and your mama!”

Angrily, she grabbed at the glove compartment in front of her, hoping to find a handkerchief or tissue or something to dab herself with. As the compartment dropped open, a gardening trowel toppled out and to the floor of the Mustang. It was caked with something red.

The blood in her veins froze as if touched by the invisible hand of death. Her eyes grew wide with terror. Slowly, silently, she turned her head towards her date.

The chipper smile and the awkwardness was gone. Instead, steely eyes pierced through her. A sudden image of the trowel flashed through the girl’s mind. She became acutely aware just then of his size; of the muscles that bulged just beneath the cardigan.

“I really wish you had been a good girl,” he said with slow, deliberate words. He looked down at the gardening tool and continued. “Like my mama said, it’s hard to find a good girl, right mama?”



It’s not easy to be another person’s rock. It’s a great deal of responsibility. Here’s a whole other living, breathing person now to worry about; someone who is depending on you. Now, imagine having to be their rock, even when you yourself are on unsure, bumpy waters.

I know I’m fortunate compared to some others. I do. When the winds kick up and the waters of life kick my ass, I have a supportive family and a guaranteed place to lay my head at night. Oh, and a cat. Most importantly, a cat. He’s terrific.

My boyfriend, now he’s a different tale. He had a life before me. A novel concept, I know, that there’s life before someone starts to date you. He had the “American dream” sort of life. He had a husband, a house, a well-paying job and friends. He was quite content with that life. Most would be. Then, just like that, job gone, husband dead of cancer, and house taken by the husband’s surviving family. This is the person who I am became that rock for.

Life is scary when you’re adrift at sea. I get it. Especially when you’re use to safe harbors. Your feet are on firmly planted on land and life is grand. Then, without warning, a storm approaches and tears and your boat away. You somehow survive the torrential winds and rains with your boat intact. But, where is my harbor? Where is everything familiar and safe? It’s gone, and instead of comfort, there is now fear; fear and uncertainty. Again, I get it.

What I also get, after being in a relationship with him, is how that storm of change and uncertainty also changes you in turn. It can harden you like a seasoned sailor or transform you into the sort of person who would drink salt water out of desperation. Either way, you will be broken during the journey. The difference is if you have the strength and will power to build yourself back up. I fell in love with the salt water drinker.

What I don’t get are the lengths one will take to achieve some semblance of safety, without really any thought of safety for who they’re hitching themselves to. Did you notice me because of my quaint charms, or because I appear to be seemingly better compared to the flakes and junkies you’ve come to know? Did my relative stability impress you, or did it remind you that you’re not getting any older? I’ve thought about all of those things, thought about them all as I tried to assure myself I’m not being used; that he does love me deep down, but can’t stop himself. Surprise! I can’t handle your baggage and mine too. I can’t keep finding out that you never really got off the drugs you ran to and that you sleep with other people just to get those drugs. “I don’t love any of them,” won’t make things better. Something’s got to give or else we’re both going down, baby.

Lastly, I also get that at this point I’m doing this to myself. But, I can’t cast off his anchor. I just don’t have the strength to fight anymore. I’m choking on the salt water and I can’t stop myself. The last time I confronted him, he said he wanted to kill himself. Ultimately, I couldn’t live with myself if he did. Is it so bad, though, that part of me doesn’t care? I know that he’s all talk. I’ve seen and heard it all time and again. Still, there’s a fed up, tired part of me, numb from the cold water that is just willing to hand him over a knife and just say, “Prove it. Do it. Cut yourself away from me.”

What kind of rock does that make me? What kind of person have I become where a part of me welcomes the icy waters?

INTERVIEW: NSFW and Spoilers – Eisner Nominated Jason Shiga Talks About “Demon”

INTERVIEW: NSFW and Spoilers – Eisner Nominated Jason Shiga Talks About “Demon”

DEMONvol1RGBHilarious in execution, serious in subject matter, irreverent to human life, and an homage to various science fiction tropes; This only scratches the surface of what comprises Demon. Broken up into four books, this lengthy comic by writer and artist Jason Shiga and published by First Second touches on everything from scientific imaginings to questions of morality, all with a pinch of “Quentin Tarantino-esque” violence. The violent work that is Demon has been nominated for an Eisner award at next week’s San Diego Comic-Con. In a recent interview with Jason Shiga, who just last year moved from the states to France, I couldn’t hold back my plethora of questions regarding his work. Warning for all you readers, mature subject matter and spoilers ahead!

I just binged on all four of the Demon books. My first thought after my brain finished processing what I had just read were, “…Wow…”, followed by, “How did the author get anyone to publish this comic-insanity?” I guess my first real question is, what was it like, this journey from conception, to comic, to book?

Shiga: I assumed out of the gate that Demon would likely never be published. But instead of trying to make it “more-friendly” to publishers, I wanted to double down and make something even more unpublishable in both form and content. This includes varying issue sizes, from 4 pages to 60 pages, having an all-black issue and of course the depraved content which we’ll talk about later. The plan was that I’d release it as a series of self-printed minicomics over the course of 2 years, then call it a day.

How long did it take until all four books were finally out?

Shiga: It took 5 years all together to write pencil and draw but I don’t like keeping folks waiting for too long. I always think about that time between Eightball 19 and 20 when that bullet was just floating in the air for a year. The minicomics were monthly over a two-year period. The First Second collections come out every 4 months so it’s literally just a year to get all 4 volumes.

How did it come about that First Second would publish Demon? Did they have specific stipulations regarding the comic?

Shiga: None! Everyone at First Second was eager to follow me down this dark path. It’s still hard for me to believe that Demon is being put out by the publishers of Zita Space Girl. But it happened.

Jason Shiga: Artist and Author of “Demon”

In what was basically the forward of the first book, you warned readers of the craziness that they would soon find. What was your motivation for the insane amounts of bloodshed and dark humor, sprinkled with “cum-knives” and camel sex.

Shiga: I like to think it isn’t all just shock for shock sake. I really did want to suggest a serious a philosophical theory about what makes for a meaningful life. It just so happened that I felt the hedonic treadmill was best represented visually by camel sex.

Did you find yourself going nearly as crazy as your main character during this project?

Shiga: I don’t think Jimmy is crazy in the story. I think everything he does is based on bedrock priors followed by airtight logical deductions. Even the cum knife.

I would really love to know what some of your influences have been, on this project and your other work.

Shiga: I’m a bit of a pop culture junkie, especially when it comes to sci-fi paperbacks. The observant reader will notice everything from Rudy Rucker to HF Saint’s “Memoirs of an Invisible Man” worked its way into the story. Of course, in terms of comics the biggest influence would be Death Note.

The art style definitely helped to remind that none of the book was to be taken seriously. Was it a choice made particularly for the comic or just your style in general?

Shiga: I’d like to say it was intentional, but that’s just the way I draw.

Last year you moved to France. How has the transition been for you and your family?

Shiga: It’s been wonderful! I was invited by the “Maison Des Auteurs” for a yearlong residency to work on whatever I wanted with complete freedom!!! It was very liberating to just forget about what publishers or even readers would want and work on a complete moonshot comic. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity for me.

What prompted you to write about issues like suicide, mass homicide, demon possession, and mathematics?

Shiga: Well they say write what you know.
What reactions have you gotten over Demon?

Shiga: I’ve been abroad for the year so I’ve really only talked with my French readers. If France is any indication though, I think the reaction has been good so far.

How does it feel to be nominated for an Eisner Award at San Diego Comic-Con?

Shiga: It’s a great honor! I’m sad I won’t be able to attend the awards this year mostly because I would have loved to meet the other cartoonists in my category such as Charles Burns, Dame Darcey, Dylan Horrocks and Tom Hart who were some of my biggest influences when I was starting out.

What can you possible do next to top Demon?

Shiga: I’m working on a 600-page interactive comic with an automated memory system that unfolds into a cube.

Any regrets over things you wished you included or didn’t include in the comic?

Shiga: I wish there was some way to include all the crazy letters pages from the mini comics (like the one from a guy who said he tried to create his own cum knife but it didn’t work), but I guess that’s part of the ephemeral beauty of reading the story in minicomic form.

It’s too bad you weren’t able to attend Comic-Con this year, but good luck at the Eisners!

Shiga: Thanks! I’m returning to the States July 23, literally the final day of Comic-Con! Rotten timing but happy to have the extra time in France.