Sunday, June 29, 2014

Saturday, June 07, 2014

As has happened before, "lit, a place for stories" is MOVING

Because the domain name for this site costs $39.95 a year now, and I'm not paying that.  So now, you can find lit at its new site by clicking here.

Thanks and see you over there!

Friday, June 06, 2014


Time for another installment of the Indie Writers Monthly blogtacular blog tour! For those of you who missed Day One, this tour is to tell you all the reasons you should be reading Indie Writers Monthly magazine and blog.  Or, to put it in a more bold-faced, underline-y, hyperbolic way:


The first day of the tour, remember, was on Sizzling Hot YA Books, and featured this reason:

1.  Reading Indie Writers Monthly will help you become a time-traveler.

And you can click here to go read that one, but first, read reason #1:

2. Reading Indie Writers Monthly Will Give You Superpowers.

Let's say you want to get superpowers but you do not have any radioactive animals or mysterious lightning bolts striking your chemistry sets or are not from Krypton.  What are you going to do?

"Of all things... I had to be bitten by a radioactive STATUE."

Here's what you're going to do:  You're going to meet Pat "PT" "Grumpy Bulldog" "How Many Nicknames Can One Guy Have" Dilloway.

PT is one of the IWM gang of five, and among his many, many, MANY accomplishments are a couple of series of superhero books. PT is the author of The Scarlet Knight series, featuring a superhero who uses a magical armor and sword combo and is helped by a ghost, and he's also completed The Girl Power Series (featuring superheroes whose gender has been swapped), along with a collection of supporting novels for both series.

OK, fine, I hear you out there saying "Well, that's all well and good for someone who wants superpowers but for crying out loud, I've got kids and the laundry is piling up and now you want me to go out and fight giant robots in Metropolis and all I really want to do is improve at writing and selling books."

"Fighting Giant Electric Pterodactyles MY BUTT. Get home NOW."

First of all, I'm not saying you have to fight the robots, but what are you going to do, let them destroy the city?

Second of all, if you just want to be a writer instead of part of the Universe Corps of Superheroes, okay, I get it.  Being able to shoot laser beams from your fingertips isn't for everyone.  (I go through a lot of keyboards on my laptop.)

What PT also brings to the table is a great deal of experience at writing and publishing.  He has written, by my informal count, about 50 -- yes, FIFTY -- books, in a variety of genres: literary fiction, romance, YA, sci-fi, and more, and he's tried out about every site you can use to sell books.  He's had his books published by traditional companies, written flash fiction anthologies, and indie publishes his books.

And he shares those tips with you, as well as an encyclopedic knowledge of books, movies, comics, and more, on the Indie Writers Monthly blog and in our magazine.  In the past month, PT has posted articles on how he created his signature character, the Scarlet Knight, the fight between Amazon and Hachette,  and how to avoid being a 'chucker.'

What's a "chucker?" Well, you'll just have to click that link and see, won't you?

Now, if you'll excuse me, I believe the Briane signal is lighting up the sky.  *dons mask, fluffs out cape* "TO THE BRI-COPTER!"

Briane Pagel: the man who successfully lobbied
to have the Justice League include
"eating lots of pizza" as a superpower.

CLICK HERE if you'd like to go read Indie Writers Monthly right now!

Or CLICK HERE to get the June issue of our magazine, which is FREE through June 6 and only $0.99 after that! It's got three great short stories, tips on coming up with titles, blog reviews, an author interview, and more!

AND don't forget: you can submit your time travel story to our anthology/contest.  The deadline is June 15, but if you ask nicely we'll give you more time.  You can win money! Details here.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Unfollowed (A #Love Stories) (Infinite Monkeys)

Giraffe by Mr Bunches
X-ray drawing by me.

Unfollowed (A #Love Stories):

.@poethuntress Thanx for favoriting my tweet!
.@poethuntress: thought you might like this story: “14 women who changed… http://tiny. ”
#FF these Tweeps are GREAT: @johnnyonthespot @14milesofbadroad @whycantiusepunctuation @poethuntress
@poethuntress I shuld have put you 1st on that list sorry
@poethuntress thought your blog post today was great, couldn’t comment bc nt a member
@poethuntress sorry about the misspelling!
I have started to write #poetry on my blog, check it out: “Crocodile tears can’t…. http://tinier.”
New #poem, come comment on it: “What it’s like… http://tiniest.”
@poethuntress congrats on getting published, like the photo! #waytogo
#FF people who can really write @poethuntress @johncheeverreincarnated @poethuntress YES she deserves to be on there twice.
@poethuntress I can’t DM you? Twitter must be broken #stupidtwitter
New poem on my blog: “Dark dark dark http://attoparsec.”
Check out what I found: awesome poetry!
I’ve started a tumblr: “Found Poetry http://lightpicosecond.”
Awesome poem by @poethuntress on her Tumblr: “And then I traveled through time…
#FF Tell them I followed you and maybe  these people will unblock me #haha @poethuntress  “That is all”—Homer Simpson
@homersmainman @poethuntress No, I didn’t realize it was the Germans who said that, not Homer.
It’s been a while since I’ve been on Twitter. Do people still use this?
Here’s what I had for breakfast today: #pictureoftoast #hashtagyourphotoinsteadofpostingit

.@gamegeekgal Thanks for the RT! I’m going to go check out your blog.
The Infinite Monkeys project is almost over.  Another two months or so.  Until I reveal what it's all about, here's a link to more Infinite Monkeys stories.

AND HEY, why don't you write a Time Travel story for the IWM anthology and win money! Details here

Monday, June 02, 2014

June Bugs!

Featuring not 1,
                        not 2,

                                 but THREE amazing stories
from our writers, as well as tips on coming up with titles, AND how hard it is to write a bad story AND the IWM interview of Andrew Leon, "June Bugs" is a deal and even MORE so given that it's FREE from Monday, June 2 through to Friday, June 6.


Saturday, May 31, 2014

Higgs Boson’s adventures in space: Episode 37 (250=1)

Higgs Boson’s adventures in space: Episode 37:

With a single tentacle-slap, Zith-Gar had managed to disarm Higgs.

The situation looked bleak.

“The situation looks bleak,” Higgs said to Zith-Gar, “But I’m not worried.”

“How can you NOT worry, Higgs?” asked Zith-Gar incredulously. “You are unarmed. I have three of my feet on your throat.  Your precious Earth 2.0 is already 50% disintegrated! And you and I know, Higgs, that there is no coming back from that level of disintegration.”

“You’re going to stop all this, and release me,” Higgs said.

“I… never!  Why would I ever do that?!” demanded Zith-Gar.

“Because,” Higgs said, “You’ll never kill your son-in-law.”

Zith-Gar looked down, all three of his eyes goggling. Both mouths gaped in awe.

“You DIDN’T!” it said.

“Look at my hand,” Higgs said. “No, the other one.  You’ll see the wedding ring right there.”

“But, I thought… we’re not even the same species… and anyway, our mating rituals,” Zith-Gar muttered, warily looking down with his focusing eye at Higgs’ left hand. “It would kill you…”

There was no ring.

Zith-Gar straightened back up and saw that he was staring at the business end of a ray gun pointed directly at his central life organs.  It looked powerful enough to pierce his pneumothorax.

“How…” it said.

“Simple,” Higgs said. “I’m Higgs Boson.” And he blasted Zith-Gar into trillions of pieces which somehow missed hitting him and left his uniform spotless.  “And you never had a daughter,” he told the remnants of Zith-Gar.


It was in the 1950s that Richard Nixon said "you won't have any stories that are exactly 250 words long counting the title to kick around anymore," but he was wrong.  WAY wrong, because 250=1 stories are JUST THAT.  So there, 1950s Richard... hey, what's that strange glow? How are you teleporting in here, 1950s Richard Nixon? Why are there so many of you? AIEEEEE!!!!! HELP ME...

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Our Time-O-Scope Shows That All Of The Kids At The Science Fair Will Go On To Do Great Things, Except For Tommy, Who Will Die Horribly By The End Of This Fair. (Infinite Monkeys)

Our Time-O-Scope Shows That All Of The Kids At The Science Fair Will Go On To Do Great Things, Except For Tommy, Who Will Die Horribly By The End Of This Fair.

Welcome, everyone, to the 14th annual Bronson LaFollette 8th Grade Science Fair, where this year for the first time we will be judging the entries not just on originality, completeness, and scientific accuracy, but also on how much today’s performance in the science fair impacts your little darling’s future performance in society, thanks to the Time-O-Scope that Mr. Ott has finally perfected, and the patent for which he has generously granted to the school after using it to realize that the three children born to his marriage would actually be the result of an affair his wife is having with his brother, one which started, ironically, at the same time he began to devote himself to inventing the Time-O-Scope!  Could’ve used this little number before you actually invented it, eh, Mr. Ott? Live and learn, live and learn.”
“We’ve already actually spent a little time – heh, heh – sorting through the preliminary entries, and while we’d like to think the future is malleable, Mr. Ott has definitively proven that it isn’t, and so we can announce that each of you kids, the best and brightest our Advanced Placement Science Program has to offer, are destined for great and wonderful contributions to the human race, except for you, Tommy. You won’t live out the day.
“And while we’d like to reward everyone with a prize package, life doesn’t work that way. Don’t worry – 13 of the 14 of you will have long, fascinating lives in which you will receive fame and fortune and help out your brethren on this planet, so even if you don’t get a gift certificate to Mel’s Pizzeria today, you are all, each and every one of you, winners. Yes, even you, Tommy, but it won’t do you much good.”
“No, please don’t stand so close to me, Tommy. It won’t matter, in the end, but I’d rather not get soot and ashes on my suit. Just had it dry-cleaned! As long as you’re here, though, I can give you your prize: Third Place, for your entry ‘Solar Powered Submersibles Can Explore The Sea Efficiently!” Your model of a submarine and the tether that lets it run on solar power even when it is hundreds of fathoms underwater is truly ingenious, and we have no doubt you’d have gone on to do even greater things in oceanography if it wasn’t for the fact that you’re a goner within the next hour.”
“Sorry – 45 minutes. Didn’t realize it was so late!”
“Second Place goes to Ellie, for her – not now, Tommy, this is really Ellie’s moment—for her entry “Soil Replacements Will End Crop Rotation.” Ellie, this kind of idea will revolutionize… why are you crying, sweetie? He’s your best friend? Well, that is very sad.  Give him a hug, quick! And then maybe think about the Radley boy. He’s going to win the Heisman Trophy in seven years! … and, don’t forget this! It’s a red ribbon, and as second place you get $10 worth of free play at Ned’s Arcade! Don’t spend it all on Pac Man! Heh, heh!”
“Tommy! Please, try to be a bit of a man about this.  I promise you that it won’t hurt, if that’s any consolation.  At least not for long. And everyone will be amazed by how your… well, I shouldn’t say too much.  That’s the danger of the Time-O-Scope! While it can give us a clear look at a future that is set in as rigid a pattern as the crystalline latticework of our first prize winner, sometimes the knowledge would be better off not known! Just ask Mr. Ott! Or Tommy!”
“Or ask Nelson, who of course grew those crystals that can serve as superconductors for ultra-thin computers, and not only earned himself early admission at the magnet high school for science careers, but a $25 gift certificate to The Hobby Lobby!  Nelson, despite my general dsire to not tell everyone all that I now know about your futures, I don’t mind telling you that when you spend that $25 on electromagnets, it’s going to help you use these crystals to create a way to nearly instantaneously catalog and sequence DNA, so even though it takes you 10 years to do that, it’s well worth it, Mr. Nobel Prize Winner, 2030! Come up here, son, and shake my hand.  You’ll also want to be well away from Tommy, of course.”

“There you go, son! Congratulations, again, and let’s have a big round of applause for all our young scientists and engineers, the future leaders of tomorrow, except for Tommy, whose only remaining mark on the earth will be a bench erected on the spot where he’s sitting now.  Can we get Tommy’s parents to load his project up in their station wagon? No sense leaving these things to the last minute.  Now, with that, I’ve got to go and figure out who it is Mr. Ott shoots a month from now. I can’t stop it, but I might want to be first at the estate sale.”


Thursday, May 22, 2014

Some Zombie Stories, 6 (250=1)

Some Zombie Stories, 6:

At the zombie carnival, every spring, nobody eats anyone’s brains, nobody shuffles in a horrifying manner while moaning, and almost nobody pushes their hands up through the dirt in a terrifying metaphor or prelude to the next film.

Instead, there are games of chance and skill. Zombies toss their hands, fingers circled into an "O", and try to land them on pegs to win withered stuffed animals, or throw an eyeball into a set of goldfish bowls containing zombie goldfish, the fish circling lazily and occasionally blowing bubbles. The bubbles are not breath. They are escaping gases from the decomposing tiny pets that will not (unlike the ones you bring home) die the next day.  They are already dead.

There are rides, too, and though they are assembled by zombie carnies and not very safe, the zombies ride them without fear.  Once, the Zoomer Coaster collapsed but it didn’t make headlines; the 20 zombies just calmly put themselves back together and went to get some cotton candy. 

The cotton candy is fresh.

We all go watch the zombie carnival. We can’t get in. There’s a sign out front says "You Must Be This Dead To Enter," so we just look, and wonder what it’d be like to hang out with the zombies and watch them guess our weights through mouths with almost no teeth left, to go through the Funny House with them and watch the mirrors make them look alive again, for just a moment.

In 250=1 I write stories that are exactly 250 words long, including the title. Here's a list of all of them.  


Sunday, May 18, 2014

A Work In Progress, 2: (Infinite Monkeys)

A Work In Progress, 2:

two guys talking about football while each slowly comes to the realization that the other does not understand the game’


Infinite Monkeys stories are part of a project I'm working on.  You can find a list of them -- many of which have far more words than this -- by clicking here.  

COMING ON THE FOURTH OF JULY, it's the first-ever anthology of stories by indie writers to bear the INDIE WRITERS MONTHLY stamp of approval*, and we want YOU to be a part of it.

The anthology is going to be a collection of stories about Time Travel, and here is HOW YOU CAN GET IN ON THIS:

A. Have a story about time travel, or write one.
2.  Submit that story to us, by June 15, 2014.  (send submissions to litaplaceforstories[at]** and label them "IWM TIME TRAVEL ANNUAL" or something like that.)
THIS IS IMPORTANT: paste the story directly into the of the email.  

III. Make sure you have the rights to the stories and it'd be nice if it hadn't been published somewhere else.  

Word limits? Who do you think you're talking to, here? Because there'll only be a few weeks to read them, shoot for somewhere between 1 and 1,000 words, but if you go longer, by all means, go longer.

Still reading?  Good.  Here is WHY you want to get in on this!

8(a)2.: The stories we like the best will get put into the anthology and you'll be a published writer! 

C: There are prizes! Specifically, the story picked as best by the IWM gang will win a $15 Amazon Gift Card and the Runner Up will get a $10 Amazon Gift Card.

So there you have it!  I look forward to getting those stories.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

What Happens When The Symbolism Of McDonald’s Cheeseburgers Is Questioned. (250=1)

What Happens When The Symbolism Of McDonald’s Cheeseburgers Is Questioned.

AJ is afraid all the time but not in an overtly-crippling way.  AJ fears he is too happy about some things, and not happy enough about others.  He confides this one day to Tiana.  Tiana serves (in her mind) as a de facto therapist but stands (in AJ’s mind) as a potential love interest in the story that would be his life if AJ ever gets around to writing that autobiography.

“An autobiography of nothing,” Tiana thinks, taking  AJ’s coupon from him.  AJ has a coupon every day.

“Why do you come here every day?” Tiana asks AJ.

“Would you like to go out sometime?” AJ responds.

“This isn’t even good food,” Tiana whispers back to him.

“It’s the best food,” AJ says, “In that it’s unique.  Anyone can make a burger.  Nobody can make a McDonald’s Cheeseburger except McDonald’s.”

“Why do you want to go out with me?” Tiana asks.

“I think it would make me just the right amount of happy,” AJ responds.  “And I’ve asked you out now 14 times. So you should say yes.”

“You like unique stuff, huh?” Tiana asks him.


“I’m a twin, you know.”

AJ has to think about that.

“And,” Tiana says, “Every McDonald’s cheeseburger is like every other McDonald’s cheeseburger.”

AJ looks down at his tray.

“So nothing,” Tiana says, “Is less unique than a McDonald’s cheeseburger.”

AJ does not know where to fit this new idea into his life.

There'll be new stories coming, too, but as with before, this one appeared on another blog and now is appearing here, and so you can read it again or for the first time.  250=1 stories are stories that have exactly 250 words including the title, and I've got a whole lot more of them here.


INDIE WRITERS MONTHLY is looking for your time-travel stories for our first ever anthology.  There are prizes, but there is also a deadline. Click here for details

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Everyone in the world is copying me in advance. (250=1)

Everyone in the world is copying me in advance.

It made you uncomfortable to be alone with him in the subway car, not just because he was mumbling loudly enough to seem he was trying to talk to you, complaining about how everyone knew his thoughts and did the stuff before he could.

“And the waffle iron? I came up with that!” he suddenly said ferociously, and you got off the car at the next stop because that little fleck of spittle in the corner of his mouth seemed too wild to want to deal with at 3:00 in the afternoon.

The job interview didn’t go well. You were still unnerved by the whole incident, and you were pretty sure that the waffle iron was older than the subway nut. The interviewer never called.
Later on, even Gina’s encouragement (why don’t you just go ahead with that idea you had?) wasn’t enough to help you sleep and in your dreams you saw him again.

“EVERYBODY IN THE WORLD IS COPYING ME IN ADVANCE!” he yelled in your head, and it didn’t help that in the dream he was an extra on the set of Ocean Girl.

And you had to take the F train, two days later, to yet another job interview. He was there, of course, and he said “I’m going to invent an app that will scan the ears of small children and see if there is an ear infection.”

But that was your idea.

Six months ago.

250=1 stories are stories that are exactly 250 words long.  This one originally appeared on another blog, too. I'm just rerunning it, but if you didn't see it before, you didn't even need to know that and if you did see it before, then you already knew that.  Basically this whole paragraph was pointless.  Sorry.

Here's a list of all the 250=1 stories, ever.

Other announcements:

Don't forget that lit pays for stories. Click the "We Pay for Stories" tab up top there.

And Indie Writers Monthly needs your short time-travel stories! There's a prize and publication possible.  Details here.  

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Children's Magazines Are Full Of Lies (250=1)

Children's Magazines Are Full Of Lies.

For the 74th time, on his 37th beach vacation, Kincaid walked the shore just after the tide went out. Alone on the beach, sand sifting into his sandals wetly, he shuffled along knowing he would not find what he was looking for.

Somewhere, in the past, which in his thoughts was a country he’d never visit no matter how many travelogues of it he watched, a little boy lay on the floor, a magazine spread out before him showing a glossy photo of a sea urchin and a crab in a tiny pool of water, trapped in the rocks after the tide went out. It was a private ocean, and Kincaid, like that little boy from the other country would, eventually, too, had spent his life looking for one.

Later today, he’d take Olivia to ride on roller-coasters. They would stop for pizza at that restaurant. But for now, Kincaid simply walked by himself, the taste of corn flakes on his breath. When he saw rocky outcroppings he climbed on them, carefully, watching where he put his hands and his feet, each time to no avail.

“Why do you get up so early?” Claudia asked him once on vacation. He’d shrugged. “I like to not waste time on vacation,” he’d said.

“Next year, maybe, we’ll go to the mountains,” Kincaid told the surf. But he knew it wasn’t true. There are 217,490 miles of coastline in the world, and he was not getting younger.

Some of you may have seen this story before; it's a reprint that originally appeared on my blog Thinking The Lions.  In 250=1, I write stories that are exactly 250 words long, including the title.  Here's a link to more of them, if you liked this one.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Call for story submissions!

Announcing the first ever

COMING ON THE FOURTH OF JULY, it's the first-ever anthology of stories by indie writers to bear the INDIE WRITERS MONTHLY stamp of approval*, and we want YOU to be a part of it.

The anthology is going to be a collection of stories about Time Travel, and here is HOW YOU CAN GET IN ON THIS:

A. Have a story about time travel, or write one.
2.  Submit that story to us, by June 15, 2014.  (send submissions to litaplaceforstories[at]** and label them "IWM TIME TRAVEL ANNUAL" or something like that.)
THIS IS IMPORTANT: paste the story directly into the of the email.  

III. Make sure you have the rights to the stories and it'd be nice if it hadn't been published somewhere else.  

Word limits? Who do you think you're talking to, here? Because there'll only be a few weeks to read them, shoot for somewhere between 1 and 1,000 words, but if you go longer, by all means, go longer.

Still reading?  Good.  Here is WHY you want to get in on this!

8(a)2.: The stories we like the best will get put into the anthology and you'll be a published writer! 

C: There are prizes! Specifically, the story picked as best by the IWM gang will win a $15 Amazon Gift Card and the Runner Up will get a $10 Amazon Gift Card.

So there you have it!  I look forward to getting those stories.
PSST? Want to read some of my own time-travel stories? Check out 

HEADLINE: “Time Travel Is Only Possible In One Direction, Scientists Say.” Subhead: “Balderdash,” Tim says.

And here's a link to five 250-word time travel stories (and an essay on another one) 


*no actual stamp will be created.  It is a metaphor.

**while this is an IWM and not a lit venture I need to keep my regular gmail unclogged up and I assume there will be 100,000s of stories coming in.  

Thursday, May 08, 2014

From The People Who Brought You "Indie Writers Monthly: April, 2014" Comes The New Smash Hit...

... INDIE WRITERS MONTHLY ISSUE 3: MAY FLOWERS is on the stands now! Well, no, it's not. It's only available electronically because: trees.  But it's free! From now until May 13 get the latest issue absolutely free, and be treated to a new story from Sandra Ulbrich Almazan, author of the "Twinned Universes" saga, an interview with superhero/sci fi writer P.T. Dilloway, tips on how to get ideas for writing, and stories of how indie writers got started.

It's all available just by clicking RIGHT HERE.

Sunday, May 04, 2014

A story in which the main characters are a dinosaur and a baseball player but they never meet and may not, in fact, have anything to do with each other at all, depending on how much you think about it. (Short Stories With Long Titles)

This is a Short Story With Long Title. No time to read it? I have helpfully provided a link for you to download a .pdf and take it with you to read while you are, say, waiting on line at the grocer's.

They say that dinosaurs are extinct, and Piatnitzkysaurus figures they are probably right, depending on what the word means.

Word meanings were important, Piatnitzkysaurus knew, because you could say a lot with words if you knew what they meant, and people especially were really really good with words, even if the words they used when they saw Piatnitzkysaurus were mostly words like



Piatnitzkysaurus wondered what those words meant.  Once he tried imitating one of the words that he heard someone say.  He had been watching two people sitting around the glowing things they made, called fires he was pretty sure, and he'd heard them doing the thing they called talking, which Piatnitzkysaurus had used to do with his own buddies.

The human with the longer hair had said it was cold.

The human with the shorter hair and the little packet of paper in its hands had offered to go get a blank-ette.

The longer-haired human had invited the shorter-haired one to put down the buque and "cuddle" and Piatnitzkysaurus had turned that word over and over in his mouth, feeling the strangeness of it echo through his crests.  Cuddlecuddlecuddle it kind of feels when he says it like chewing on something soft, no bones to crunch through.

Then he saw the humans looking scared and he tried to tell them no, I was just trying out your word but they pointed and stared and ran away in their metal thing.

They left behind the fire and some chocolate.  Of all the things humans had, Piatnitzkysaurus loved chocolate the most.  In order of favorite things, Piatnitzkysaurus figured it was:

1.  Chocolate.
2.  The Cretaceous period because it had been warmer then.
3.  Humans.  But not to eat.  Well, not always, but sometimes Piatnitzkysaurus got hungry.


"I call this one 'Casey at the Bat'," Mooch said to the guy next to him.  He fanned out the cards and held them up for Tim to take one.

Tim glanced over.

"Don't you even watch the games?" he said.

Mooch shrugged, blew a bubble, and popped it loudly, sucking the gum back in.

"Sometimes," he said, and held the cards up, waggling them encouragingly.  Off in the distance, there was a crack! and the crowd sounds got louder and Tim absently took a card from Mooch as the center-fielder, Jack, jogged out underneath the lazy fly ball, caught it, and hurled it towards the second baseman.  He waved at Mooch and Tim and the other relief pitchers in the bullpen.

"You've got to look at it," said Mooch.

"What if the cameras are on us?" Tim said, and glanced down at the card.

"It's 10-2," Mooch told him.  "The cameras aren't looking at us."

"Do you know what your card is?" he asked, after a second.

"Yeah," Tim said. "Ace of spades."

"No, don't tell it to me," Mooch sighed.  He took the card back and shuffled them in.  "That's not the trick."

"How do you think these things up?" Tim asked him, taking a card from the now reshuffled pack.

"Can't tell you," Mooch said, and even if he wanted to, he couldn't have.  Casey At The Bat had come to him, full-fledged, in a dream.  He'd watched in his dream  as he himself had done the trick for himself, the dream just him and himself sitting at the old kitchen table in his apartment in Brooklyn where he lived in the off-season, with Louisa.   Louisa loved card tricks, so he was surprised that he hadn't been showing her in the dream, but he hadn't: he'd been showing himself.

Tim had handed back his card to Mooch, who had set it down on the bench between them.

"OK, watch," he said, echoing himself in his dream.  "You've got the bases loaded," and he laid three cards out into a diamond.  "There's two outs," he said, putting two cards in between the three bases.  Tim watched him.  "And Casey's up to bat."  Mooch picked a card off the top of the deck and laid it face up where home plate would be on the diamond.

"That's my card!" Tim said, appreciatively.  It was the 7 of hearts.  

"Yes, it is," Mooch said.  Just like in my dream.  "OK, you're a pitcher, what pitch do you throw Casey?" This was the trick part of it: don't tell the person what the pitch means.

"Um.  Slider," said Tim.  

"Slider," Mooch said.  "1-2-3," he counted out cards, laying them on top of the card at home plate, the 7 of hearts, and then flipped them around.  "Strike one," he said, winking at Tim.

"Strike one?" Tim said.  

"Yeah," Mooch said.  "OK, count 0-1, and the runner on first is leading off."  He flipped the first-base card over and Tim said:

"Hey, that's my card!"  

The 7 of hearts sat at first base.

"How 'bout that," Mooch grinned.

The crowd in the stadium groaned.  Neither of them looked up.

"Alright, what pitch you throwing next?" Mooch asked.

"Um.  Not a slider.  Not again.  Curve."

Mooch nodded.  "Curve it is.  Curve.  1-2-3-4" he counted out cards, and laid them on home plate, flipped all the cards upside down and said "Strike two."

Tim laughed.  "My curve is great."

"OK," Mooch told him.  "2 out. 0-2 count.  Bottom of the 9th.  Runners got to take a big lead.  Guys on 1st and 2nd get a couple of steps," and he flipped the 2nd-base card.  

It was the 7 of hearts.

"Nice," Tim said.

"So.  0-2.  What do you throw?"  Mooch looked at Tim, who looked him straight in the eye, as Mooch had looked himself in the eye in his dream.

"The heat.  Fastball," Tim said.

"Fastball.  1-2-3," Mooch said, laying out three cards, flipping the 7 of hearts over, and looking up at Tim.

"Think you got him?" 

Tim stared down at the cards.

"Did I?" he asked.

"Let's see," Mooch said, and flipped the card over at third base:  "Runners are going before you throw!"

The 7 of hearts was at third base.

"How..." Tim said.

"You better look him back," Mooch said.  "Here, take your card, put it in the deck."  He picked up the 7 of hearts, and handed it to Tim.  Tim looked at it, flipping it back and forth, checking it out.  He shrugged and handed it to Mooch, who shook his head.

"You have to do it.  You're the pitcher.  Look him back."  So Tim tucked the card into the deck and Mooch picked up all the cards on the bench, shuffling them in as he talked.

"OK, runner back on third, and you're on the mound.  2 outs.  0-2 count.  Bottom of the 9th.  You're throwing the heat, and Casey's at the plate." As he talked he laid out cards in the diamond shape, 1st-2nd-3rd-and home plate.

"OH," Mooch said.  "Mighty Casey has struck out." He flipped the card over at home plate. 

It was the 7 of hearts.

Mooch breathed a sigh of relief.  He hadn't known for sure if the trick would work.


Piatnitzkysaurus knew it shouldn't go too near humans, but it couldn't help itself.  They were endlessly fascinating.  He remembered when he'd first seen mammals, a billion years ago or maybe it was a million.  Piatnitzkysaurus wasn't much for counting.  That was another thing, like words, that was really hard but he'd had enough time, sometimes he felt, that he ought to get it by now.  If humans could do it when they were only a few years old and still soft and pink and hardly able to walk, how could he not count, or do words?

He walked down the side street just away from the street lights, past the shoe repair shop that looked deserted but it wasn't really, he knew.  Once, he'd hidden behind the dumpster in the alley all day long and watched as the person who worked in the shoe repair shop had come up to the door in the morning, pulled a key out, and opened the front door.  Piatnitzkysaurus had pulled his long tail in to hide it better and kept a wary eye out for others as he'd watched the front blinds be pulled up, the neon sign that said 


had been lit up, its neon glow seeming to slowly fade as the day grew brighter.

All day long Piatnitzkysaurus had watched and nobody had come in our out of the shop and at the end of the day the man had left the shop, turning off the


sign and walking away.

Tonight,  Piatnitzkysaurus stood outside the shop and then curiously walked slowly down the street towards the "main drag," as Piatnitzkysaurus had heard it called.  His head was slightly taller than most of the buildings on this little side road; had he wanted to he could have stood up straighter and looked onto their roofs but Piatnitzkysaurus knew from experience that there wasn't much to see up there, just some little chairs and bottles that were long empty and sometimes some old clothing or shoes, never chocolate.

At the corner, Piatnitzkysaurus looked left and right.  There were street lights, all along both sides, but it was late enough that nobody was out.  Piatnitzkysaurus did not know how to tell time and wasn't truly a nocturnal dinosaur; he much preferred the lushly-leaved forests of South America, the heat of the day stifling unless you were cold-blooded, in which case you welcomed it because it gave you energy to get up and eat, hunting down smaller animals and stopping to eat some carrion if you came across it, and occasionally fighting over a mate, roaring and gnashing teeth and clawing at your opponent with your giant feet and trying to get a good grip on the back of his neck so that you could tear his spine out and leave it there as a sign of your prowess.

Good times.

But now he was here and needed to come out mostly at night because if you wanted to see the town you had to come at night, as humans thought Piatnitzkysaurus was extinct and were scared whenever he tried to talk to them.  It's not like he was going to bite them, not always, because they were a lot of work for a small meal, and bony.

Piatnitzkysaurus turned right and strode along the sidewalk, glancing into the windows.  A used-clothing store caught his eye and made him flinch until he realized the people in the clothing in the window weren't people at all, didn't have faced, and he leaned first his right eye up against the window and then his left, looking at the blank mannequins and wondering why they didn't have eyes themselves.  He wouldn't want to hang around a bunch of pale-skinned faceless piatnitzkysauri, wouldn't find that fun at all, and he figured the dummies were there to scare others off.

A little ways down, he looked at a food store, the window stocked with breads and rolls and other brown, small round things.  The taste haunted his nostrils as he sniffed for a hint of chocolate.  He did not like the smell, at all.

He remembered once when he and two others had come across a half-rotten brachytrachelopan and they had gorged themselves, for days, there on the hot plains so far away from the jungle.  The others had thought him crazy mostly, but he'd found that corpse and it had kept him full for a long time.

He hadn't like the plains otherwise.  The other dinosaurs could see him coming too easily, and he wasn't fast enough to chase them down.  He'd ended his exploratory trip early.

At the end of the street was a set of small metal boxes.  In it, although he couldn't read, a newspaper told anyone who cared to looks that the Reds had won the World Series that day.


"So you get to stay in bed all day?" Louisa asked him.

"If I want," Mooch said.  "Season's over, and I don't even have to report for a few days."

"Do you get one of the rings?"

"Yeah.  I guess."  He shrugged, a move that didn't quite come across when he was lying down.  She wasn't looking at him, anyway.  The shrug was more for himself.

"But you didn't pitch in any of the games."

Mooch tried not to sound defensive.

"Not in the Series, no, but I helped get us there.  I pitched in the season."

"I didn't mean it like that."

Mooch knew he would never wear the ring, though.  Because everyone would say that, or think it, or he would imagine they were thinking it but not saying that.

"A five-letter word for separate," she said, pronouncing it like the adjective, not the verb.  

"What's it start with?" he asked.

"I don't know," she said.  "I haven't gotten any of the clues yet.  And I'm all the way up to seven across.  I might as well give up.  I don't even know why I do these things."

She stood up, wearing just a t-shirt that didn't even come down to her waist.  He looked at her naked lower half, the shapely legs tapering up to her waist, and secretly tried sucking in his stomach a little.

"Want to go get breakfast?" she asked.

"I'm not sure I want to get mobbed by people this morning," he said.

"..." Louisa said, and then shook her head.  "We can order in," she suggested.

Mooch wondered if she'd been going to say Nobody's going to mob you.  Sometimes Louisa said stuff before she thought about it.

But then, so did he.

He wondered if she would accept his proposal this time.  Maybe if he used the Series ring?

"Let's just go out," he said, and sat up.


Piatnitzkysaurus ran and ran and ran, the sounds of the alarm still ringing in his ears as loudly as if he was still standing in the store itself.  He hadn't known about alarms and hadn't known about glass and how it broke, and hadn't known that the humans could use their metal things to get there so quickly.

All he'd wanted was some chocolate.  And they had so much of it.

The grocery store was closed; he'd known that. Because it was dark and nobody was in it, which meant closed, he'd gathered, and so he'd not paid it much attention but a tiny glimpse out of the corner of his eye had shown him a giant stack of chocolate, piles and piles of it all wrapped up and ready to eat just colorful and delicious and he couldn't resist.

He'd tried to just walk into the chocolate and get it, regretting that the chocolate had the skins on it, those little flimsy shells or whatever that humans wrapped chocolate in.  He didn't like the taste of those, Piatnitzkysaurus didn't, but it was worth it to eat them to get the chocolate.  Sometimes you had to eat some scales or bones or whatnot to get the good parts of the prey, and that included chocolate.

Something had blocked him, glass, the see-through stuff that humans have everywhere, but he couldn't bear it, not tonight.  So much disappointment today, the deer that got away and his reflection in the swamp scaring him with how old he was getting and then the chocolate was behind glass, and Piatnitzkysaurus had leaned up against the glass and despaired, pressing his large crests and nose up against it, willing it to come to him as he nearly cried with the sadness of so much chocolate not his, and he pressed too hard and the glass shattered and he'd been inside the store.

The bells had started clanging and whirling and that as much as the sound of the glass breaking had scared him half to death but he was on top of the chocolate, it was falling around him and the scent intoxicated him, so he just began eating, pieces and pieces of it, feeling the skins tear under his teeth and swallowing some whole, the rivulets of chocolate and saliva dribbling down onto his hands as he repeatedly dug his face into the pile and grabbed more more more, his stomach swelling with the feast.

And then there they were, humans, in their metal with their own flashing lights and yelling their words "Ohmygodwhatisthat" and "weregonnaneedbackup" and "Forgodssakeshootthatdamnthing" and he first tried to talk to them but all they said back was meaningless things like "Cantyouhearitroaring" and "Keepfiring" and then one of their things they were aiming at him flared light and he felt a sting on his chest and looked down and saw he was bleeding so he ran forward to get back out of the store, crashing through another glass and holding one final pack of chocolate in his tiny hands and they kept hitting him with those things that made him bleed it was like he was being bitten by invisible things how did they do that so he ran, and didn't try talking to them anymore.

They followed him at first, but he knew the town pretty well and he took off into alleys, hearing their sirens after him "Wooowooowooowooo" and he dodged away from the sound.  He wasn't used to running, had probably only had to flee something 1, 2 maybe 3 times if he was being honest with himself, remember that pterodactyl?, and so he wasn't sure how to do this, but he kept heading for the forest and he made it there, under the trees, where he ran far enough in to know he could get the better of them if they came after him.  

He watched the rest of the night from the forest, as their lights came close but not too close.  Once, something flew overhead with a terrible noise, shining lights into the trees but he hid underneath some branches.  As the sun came up, he headed to his cave and went far far back into it, scrambling over fallen rocks to hide in the cool depths where the heat never came.  It would be hard for him to wake up, he thought, but he would and later that day or the next he would have to come out in the sun to warm up and then begin to find a new place to live.  He didn't want humans always looking around for him.  As much as he wanted to be friends, he knew they didn't, always, and so he would have to move again.

He took the packet of chocolate and packed it against his chest, already sleepy from the cold of the cave.  He would eat it when he woke up.


"Wonder what happened there?" Mooch pointed at the grocery store across the street from the bakery.  Louisa looked up from the crossword puzzle, squinted in the early morning sun at the police cars parked across the lot, cops walking in and out of the broken front windows, newspaper photographers snapping away.

"Probably some kind of drunk driver," she said.  "What's a seven-letter word for bullfighter?"

Mooch sipped his coffee and shrugged.  "Toreador?" he guessed.

Louisa shook her head.  "Too many letters."

"Let me see the sports page," Mooch told her.