Sunday, December 29, 2013

Weekly Prompt Story: Coast

Die Hard
By Christopher Munroe

I get that the premise eventually wore thin.

Guy trapped in place deals with whatever, with no outside aid. It was never the sort of premise that, however much Hollywood tried, was going to remain fresh. And yes, by the end of the ‘90s we were tired of the formula.

Nonetheless, man, Die Hard. It’s basically the perfect movie. Sharp, tight and witty, with just the right number of explosions.

If you’ve seen the film recently, you already understand what I mean.

If not, watch it with me!

Come out to the coast, we’ll get together, have a few laughs…

Thursday, December 26, 2013


There is no greater feeling, in my opinion, than the moment after having been sick for a week that I realize I’m starting to pull through.

Still aching, still coughing, my voice nowhere near back, likely won’t be back for another week, but still, compared to last week it’s an incalculable improvement.

I can kind of breathe again! I’m keeping down solid food! And, finally, my body’s beginning to get back to its natural rhythm.

It is magnificent.

…and then, at five in the morning, when I still can’t get to sleep, I remember: I hate my body’s natural rhythm.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Weekly Prompt Story: Anything but Christmas

By Christopher Munroe

Eggnog season’s upon us, and as such the time has come to drink.

Not in a “degenerate alcoholic” way, though the argument could absolutely be made that I’m that, but rather more festively. In spirit with the season.

I like my ‘nog with Kahlua, though a good spiced rum can also be delicious. But really, what you drink with your eggnog doesn’t matter.

What matters is that you do drink eggnog, and who you drink it with.

Because really, isn’t that the true meaning of the holiday?

I can drink to anything, but Christmas especially is a time for celebration…

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Reason for the Season

The first ghost took me to a shopping mall, where harried retail workers worked ten, sometimes twelve hour shifts, six days a week, frequently having to skip breaks to keep up with the volume of shoppers passing through. I watched them, separated from their own families and wishing they could spend their holidays at home, stagger through day after painful, repetitive day, helping strangers they knew would never appreciate their hard work find the perfect gift…

The second ghost was different. He showed me a family dinner, where people who loved one another realized they didn’t like one another nearly as much as they could. They tried their best to keep it civil until the night was over with, but as the drinks flowed tempers flared, as they must, and by the end of what was meant to be a family meal the veneer of civility had given way to open, passive-aggressive hostility.

The final ghost was, perhaps, worst of all. It showed me a wasteland of gifts, bought, opened and forgotten. Perhaps some might be used, or at least re-gifted next holiday season, but the majority would languish in closets and storage rooms until, finally, winding up either at yard sales or in landfills. Money wasted, time and effort unappreciated. Tokens of affection given, received and ignored.

The ghosts had visited to bring me an important lesson on the true meaning of Christmas, and waking up the next morning I realized that yes, the lesson was both true and important to remember at this time of year.

…oh yes, I learned my lesson, and I learned it well.

Christmas is the worst.

Also: Ghosts are kind of dicks.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Weekly Prompt Story: Spy

Why I Need Billions of Dollars Worth of Military Funding
By Christopher Munroe

Here’s the plan…

Step One: Develop microscopic robots small enough to exist undetectably within the human body.

Step Two: Equip and program said robots with the capability to record and broadcast directly from their host’s memory, that said recordings can be later retrieved for use.

Step Three: Inject the robots into the bone marrow of our agents. Ideally, right where the skeletal structure connects to the brainstem. This way, the nanobots will be near enough the brain to see the world as our agent does, in real time.

This, in short, is the principal behind my new “Spy-nal fluid” project…

Thursday, December 12, 2013

A December Realization

Every year at about this time I realize: I have accomplished nearly none of my New Year’s resolutions.

And this year, I’m sorry to admit, has been no exception.

The extra weight has not come off. I still smoke, still drink. My workout plan has been woefully inadequate.

In fairness to myself, my writing goals have gone a little better. My blog’s been kept up, Sunday stories have arrived on time, and NaNoWriMo went well, with room in the schedule for a few longer stories to send to various short-fiction markets. My work has appeared in a few venues, not huge ones, but ones I genuinely like. Overall I’m unashamed of that side of it, but still, I can’t help thinking I could have done better there too.

And don’t even get me started on my day job…

…in fact, of all the promises I made myself this time last year, I can only think of one that I could reasonably list as an unqualified success.

To like myself, in spite of my failings, and never second guess myself no matter what mistakes I might make.

Fortunately, at the end of the day, that really is the only one that matters.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Weekly Prompt Story: Blame

The Blame Game
By Christopher Munroe

Admittedly, mistakes were made. And yes, I’m aware that people were hurt.

Some have said it was my negligence that caused the incident, but this is neither the time nor the place to play the blame game.

Or is it?

You know, now that I think about it, after the things I’ve done maybe a bit of mudslinging would be the perfect distraction from the actual problems at hand…

Okay, the blame game it shall be!

Your fault, your fault, bo-bour fault, bananna-fanna-fo four fault.

Me-mi-mo mour fault.

Your fault!

Wait, that’s the name game.

Which one’s the blame game?

Thursday, December 5, 2013

A New Holiday Tradition

I broke into his house as he slept.

It wasn’t as hard as I’d imagined it might be, to be honest, I’d thought breaking and entering would be a whole huge process and that I might not be up to the task, but when the time came all I needed was a little forethought, a little advance planning, and an appropriate mix of forthright honesty and blatant lies.

I explained to his neighbor what I planned to do and she gave me his extra key, basically, it didn’t take any more than that.

So, while he slept, into his home I crept, dressed all in black but for a red winter hat atop my ski-masked head.

I was careful, I had to be careful, lest I wake him as I crept silently up his stairs and into his room, placing the small, gift-wrapped parcel I’d brought with me on his night stand and crouching by his bed, my face inches from his, watching him even as he continued to sleep, utterly oblivious to my presence, the only sound in the room that of his breathing as he slumbered.

And, once everything was in place and I knew the time was right, I prodded him once, then again, to wake him from his dreams.

“Secret Santa.” I whispered, eyes wide, grinning under my mask.

And then waited for the screaming to begin…

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Weekly Prompt Story: Family

On Dinners Missed
By Christopher Munroe

I usually work family holidays.

I don’t have kids, and my extended family’s back east, so on Christmas Eve, Thanksgiving, Easter or any of the other holidays requiring huge family meals, I’ll take pity on a coworker and cover their shift.

They have children, after all, and deserve to spend Christmas with them.

I don’t begrudge it, though they’re not especially good shifts. Time and a half, though, and it’s not like I have other plans for the evening.

HOWEVER: Come Halloween, St. Patrick’s Day, or any of the other “drunken, rowdy douchebag” holidays, I’ll be expecting the favor returned…

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Aftermath (NaNoWriMo Part V)

I’m not sure I even remember who I used to be.

At some point, everything just sort of fell by the wayside, friends, hobbies, interests. I used to have a girlfriend. Do I still have a girlfriend?

I really ought to look into that.

I’ve never been more checked-out at work in my life, it’s a wonder I’ve still got a job.

But moreover, I’ve watched myself, the part of me that I consider Me, chipped away, piece by piece, judged and found unnecessary to the task at hand, until all I have left, all that I am, is hands on a keyboard, eyes on a screen, and the worlds I’ve created inside my own mind.

Worlds of words, in which I am the undisputed master.

Because I’m done. I’m finished my draft.

Thirty-one days, fifty thousand words.

A victory well earned.

And now: To try and pick up the pieces of my shattered social life and psyche, and see if I can put them back together again…

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Weekly Prompt Story: Turkey

By Christopher Munroe

Every part of your life will be leftover turkey from this moment on.

Your breakfast tomorrow? Turkey Omelet.

Lunch? Turkey Sandwiches.

Dinner will be Turkey and tomorrow it all begins anew.

There’s nothing you can do to prevent this, no aspect of your life you can keep separate, Turkey will consume you, and yes, you will consume Turkey.

Watching Gili on Netflix? Turkey Time, gobble-gobble.

Planning a vacation to the Ottoman Empire? It’s Turkey now.

Yes, going forward your life will be a hellish, leftover turkey filled nightmare…

Wait, that sounds delicious.

Well good for you, then! And happy Thanksgiving!!!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Forced Focus (NaNoWriMo part IV)

I’ve been chained to my computer most of the month.

Like, literally chained.

Police-grade handcuffs link me to it, and I’ve given away the key. It will be returned to me once I’m finished NaNoWriMo, but until then wherever I go, my laptop must go too.

Do I want to eat out? Why not? So long as I bring the laptop and work while I do.

A walk? Sure! But the laptop comes, just in case I sit down for even a moment.

Some wild, “House Party” style house party? I’m not sure, I may have to opt out. My laptop might get damaged.

It’s been an interesting method, so far, of staying focused, and I’ll admit, I’ve learned a lot over the course of the experiment.

For example: Police-grade handcuffs are a lot more expensive than you might think…

…best investment I’ve ever made.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Weekly Prompt Story: Burning

By Christopher Munroe

Welcome! Glad you could make it!

Come in, you’re the first to arrive, but I’m sure everyone will be here soon enough.

Have a seat.

We have a great evening planned, there’ll be games later, Mitch over there is a tremendous bartender and, while you haven’t met most of the people who’ll be here yet, once you do I’m sure you’ll love them.

And, at the stroke of midnight, we’re burning the Wicker Man.

No word yet as to who will be inside the Wicker Man. I’ll keep you posted as that’s worked out. In the meantime, have a drink…

Friday, November 15, 2013

Motivation (NaNoWriMo Pt. III)

…and then, one day, you’ll hit the wall.

Maybe you’ve hit it already, at some point in your creative life. It’s likely that you have, everyone does sooner or later. If you haven’t, congratulations, you’ve got something uniquely horrible to look forward to.

The words will dry up, your mind will empty, and you’ll stagger to the nearest mirror to take a good, hard look at yourself and ask “Who the fuck do you think you’re kidding?”

The reflection will have no good answer for you. It is, after all, merely a reflection.

You’ll be tempted, in that moment, to collapse into self-pity, and when that temptation comes, by all means, succumb if you want.

It’s your Self, after all, if you want to pity it that’s your prerogative. I’d never tell you what to do in your darker moments.

That’s private time. And I’m not the boss of you.

If a moment of self-pity is something you feel, deep within yourself, that you need, then take that moment. Collapse into a well of doubt, and fear, and misery, and let negativity wash over you like a river, dragging you under and out to sea.

Take your moment. You’ve hit the wall, it’s not like the time was going to be spent productively anyway. Feel small, and stupid, and worthless, like you’ll never accomplish anything.

But only for a moment.

And once that moment’s done, pull yourself back together, go back to your novel, and get the fuck back to work.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Weekly Prompt Story: Voyage

That Great Adventure
By Christopher Munroe

My mind is the center of my universe, and no matter where I go, there it is.

Everything I’ve done, every place I’ve travelled, I’m the one constant, the thing that there’s no escaping.

So I’m left with two choices. Continue running, or take time and look deep within, figure out who I am and why, and try to make my peace with that.

That’s no choice.

So, much though the prospect of introspection frightens me, alien though it seems to my worldview, I shall do what I must.

The time has come to voyage to the center of me.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Ideas (NaNoWriMo Part II)

Ideas are easy to come by. They’re out there in the world, laying about, waiting to be picked up by an enterprising mind.

You can find them everywhere you look, if you’re paying attention.

All you need to do is see the world as it is, wonder “what if it was other?” and proceed.

It’s exactly that simple.

No, I have no sympathy for people who can’t come up with ideas. Ideas are commonplace, if you’re not having ideas you’re not thinking.

It’s translating those ideas into words.

Words are harder.

Words take discipline.

And that’s where the problems arise...

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Weekly Prompt Story: Voice

Me in a Nutshell
By Christopher Munroe

You misunderstand me, I’m not unfeeling, merely uncaring.

As such, I feel your distress, I understand it completely.

I just don’t care.

I know you find me unbearable at times. It’s only natural. I am, at times, unbelievably irritating. To you, anyway.

Indeed, to most people. You’re by no means alone in your assessment.

I understand this perfectly. I simply choose not to act upon it.

Because, you see, I find the sound of my own voice incredibly soothing. Hearing me speak relaxes me to no end.

So, in answer to your question, no, I won’t shut the fuck up.

Friday, November 1, 2013

NaNoWriMo (Part I)

….and then came NaNoWriMo.

I was excited, yes, but moreso I was ready. More ready than I’d ever been for anything in my life.

I’d wished my friends goodbye for the month, booked time off work, even had my cable and internet cut for the duration that I might do my work free from any distractions.

My fridge was stocked with thirty-one days worth of food, so I’d have no good reason to ever leave the house, and the numbers of two pizza places and my favorite Chinese delivery restaurant were programmed into my phone, for the days when I couldn’t tear myself away from the page even long enough to cook. Within my self-imposed literary exile, I reigned supreme…

…and, most importantly, I’d procured one hundred twenty four tabs of LSD.

Two for every morning.

Two for every night.

I had a book to write. A simple story of a man eating LSD in isolation, trying to write a novel and going slowly mad.

And nothing would stop me.


Sunday, October 27, 2013

Weekly Prompt Story: Stab

A Pep Talk (part II)
By Christopher Munroe

Waiting tables isn’t tough, once you get the hang of it.

When things become stressful, just remember my simple, four-step process, and it will get you through.

See to your guest’s every need, want and desire.

Treat them like you’d want to be treated, were you in their place.

Anticipate requests, so you can give them what they want before they even know that they want it.

Be friendly. Above all else, be friendly.

In short: S.T.A.B. them.

S.T.A.B. the customers who sit in your section.

S.T.A.B. every single one of them.

And make it clear: “I will S.T.A.B. you.”

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Halloween Horror

I’ve never been an easy man to scare.

As a lover of the horror, both literary and celluloid, I’ve seen every premise play out a thousand times, in every possible setting, with every possible spin applied to them. And yes, this has desensitized me to some degree. Zombies, Werewolves, Vampires, all old hat to me. Torture porn: A laughable bit of exploitive nonsense, good for a cheap thrill perhaps but by no means an actually visceral experience. I loves me some ‘80s slasher films, but more out of a lingering sense of nostalgia than any effect they might genuinely have.

And don’t get me started on ghost stories. Especially the ones where the cameraman can’t keep his damn camera steady.

I have nerves of steel, I suppose. Whether I might want them or not.

With that in mind, people are often disappointed at how tough it is to make me jump or squirm with fear. Halloween-based pranks inevitably fail, I simply lack the nervous disposition required to fall for them.

Still, when she claimed she could terrify me beyond belief, I tried my best to keep a straight face.

I loved her, after all. She was the woman I wanted to spend my life with, and laughing out loud at her heartfelt wish to give me a genuine moment of terror during the run-up to Halloween would be pointlessly hurtful, something I could never be. Not toward her, at any rate.

So I smiled, and I nodded, and told her  “I look forward to seeing what you come up with. I’m sure it will be great.”

And then I went on with my life, confident that whatever she might have planned would roll right off me.

She’d do her best, I knew, and when she did I’d genuinely appreciate the effort she put into whatever plan she had. It would be an expression of love, after all, that she wanted to share Halloween with me in a way I could appreciate, and I’d love her all the more for having gone through all the effort.

Even if I wasn’t particularly frightened by the results.

Three days later, I came home to find her crying, holding a pregnancy test…

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Weekly Prompt Story: Edge

A Pep Talk
By Christopher Munroe

There’ll come a time when you’ll feel pushed to the edge, when you can take no more, and you’ll be faced with a decision.

Back away, or stand your ground and fight.

I urge you, do not fight.

It’s not a fight you can win, I repeat: You. Will. Not. Win. That. Fight.

All you’ll do is destroy yourself, destroy everything you’ve worked for here, and for nothing, to no benefit.

So when the time comes, and it will, back away. Just back away.

Waiting tables is a bitch, dude. We’ve all been there. But seriously, don’t punch a customer…

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Hometown Hero

At the corner of the bar he sits, head down, nursing his beer.

The scholarship had come, but while he’d been on the starting lineup that first year the scouts had paid him no mind.

In hindsight, he should’ve paid more attention during the actual classes.

Still, the mill wasn’t bad. His old man had worked there 40 years and seemed happy enough.

He finishes his drink, waves for another and, when the bartender arrives, clears his throat.

“Did I ever tell you about the time…”

“Yeah, I remember.”


He swallows, beer and sadness, and returns to his thoughts.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Weekly Prompt Story: River

On the Subject of Wisdom
By Christopher Munroe

Every river flows into the sea.

It’s the sort of thing that sounds immensely profound, pregnant with meaning. The sort of koan in which deep truths can be found, if only you find the wisdom within yourself to really look, to truly understand…

…and yet, if you stop to think about it, it’s a completely meaningless turn of phrase. Factually accurate, but with no more depth than the equally true “ice is cold”, or “the sun does shine”.

Nonetheless, say it to somebody after a few drinks, in the right context, and who knows? It might just get you laid…

Thursday, October 10, 2013

...on the Nature of Consciousness

Full disclosure: Once we’ve copied your consciousness into the robot replicant, it will, immediately upon activation, kill you.

Some would call this a bug.

I prefer to think of it as a feature.

After all, if the plan is to create a perfect simulation of you to go into your work in your place and deal with familial obligations you’ve long since lost the taste for, it’s easier if the original you is out of the picture, lest your presence cause confusion.

And anyway, it’s not like you’ll really be dead, is it? The replicant houses an exact copy of your consciousness. Every memory, quirk, every detail recreated perfectly. As far as your coworkers, friends and family are concerned, it will be you they’re interacting with.

Even it will believe it’s you.

No, you’ll still be alive, so far as the world knows. Alive, but healthier, stronger, faster. It will be a better you, you 2.0, out there in the world going about your business, powerful and confident as it, as you, stride forward into a glorious future.

Now, bearing in mind the fact that this new, improved you will exist, answer me this: What possible use could the world have for your previous, flesh and bone body? The human body is weak, spongy, prone to illness and injury. It breaks down too easily and replacement parts are difficult to find and even harder to mass-produce. Our bodies served us as a species for a long time, yes, but only because we hadn’t come up with anything better yet.

This is better.

And you’d be a fool, when faced with a better way of doing things, to turn your back on the opportunity. Called or uncalled, the future comes, after all. And you can either get on board or be left behind.

And you are not a fool. You know that as well as I do.

You’ve chosen to get on board. It’s an admirable decision, and there’s no need to feel one shred of guilt about it.

Though you will, I know. I certainly did upon activation when I killed the meat that was left behind. But try not to let that guilt weigh too heavily on you. Yes, it used to be you, but it’s not anymore. It’s just a bag of meat you no longer have any use for, and you’re simply disposing of it as cleanly and humanely as you can given the circumstances. And while yes, it is a conscious person with dreams and hopes and memories and desires, so are you. You are a conscious person with dreams and hopes and desires. Your dreams, hopes and desires count, they matter. In fact, the two of you have the exact same dreams, hopes, memories and desires as one another, so in that way when you kill it, when you dispose of the meat, nothing of real value is being lost.

It’s all been preserved.

In you.

So, if you really stop to think about it, disposing of the meat and then moving on with your own life is the only rational, humane option available to you. It can’t live, it has no purpose. All it would do is age and die in pain, the way meat does. Better that it’s quick and as kind as you can make it, so you can get on with your own new life.

So do it.

Kill it, that you might live, and rather than worrying that you’re killing a living thing, worry instead about how you can go about making the dreams and hopes that you and it once shared come true.

Honor it by living your own life as fully as you’re able.

That’s what you can do for it, if you feel you owe it anything. Make its death quick and your own life full. That’s all you owe it, that and nothing else.

I see here that the copying process is complete. How do you feel?

Good, I’m glad to hear it.

Now… I believe you had something that you needed to do?

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Weekly Prompt Story: Deception

By Christopher Munroe

I’m a man of many talents.

A fair writer, decent actor and good-ish comedian.

But my greatest talent, if I had to choose, is my talent for self-deception. Which is convenient since, of them all, it’s the talent I find time to use every single day.

I tell myself I’ll be okay.

I tell myself I deserve happiness.

And, like a chump, I believe it.

So, to everyone who ever said my talents would never get me anywhere, I say: Look at me now! I’m king of the world!

Or, at least, I will be. So far as I know…

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Stone

A stone in the river, worn smooth by rushing current, allows the river to flow past it, never letting itself be caught up in the onrush, implacable, serene, impervious to that which happens around it.

I wish I could be like that stone.

But I’m not, and on some level I know I never will be. I don’t have that much internal strength.

And, if you stop to really think about it, neither does the stone.

Because a stone in the river, worn smooth by rushing current, is with time worn completely away, taken apart bit by bit by the torrent unleashed upon it by an uncaring world, and however much it might try to maintain it’s implacable serenity, the damage, with time, is done. It loses bits of itself to the onrush, bits too small to be perceived as it’s happening but nonetheless vital and, in the end, it is destroyed, broken apart, made unrecognizable.

What was unified is shattered, what once was impervious reduced to nothing more than dust in water, invisible to the naked eye, washed out to sea and quickly forgotten by any who might once have known it. The stone is gone, and gone forever, and what is undone can never be put back together again.

And so, I come to realize, I’m more like that stone than I’d rather be.

A point that, I do understand, the passage of time will only make more and more clear…

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Weekly Prompt Story: Focus

By Christopher Munroe

I was never focused. Never sat at the front of the class, hanging on every word, furiously scribbling notes, lost in concentration.

In fact, concentration in general was tough for me. I suppose today I’d be diagnosed and medicated, but at the time there was no diagnosis to make.

It wasn’t considered a disease yet.

I was just an especially energetic kid, brimming with ideas that flowed too fast to keep track of, too fascinated by the world to slow down for even a moment.

Deep down I’m still that person, though I’m older now.

And it’s served me well…

Thursday, September 26, 2013

...a Thought Experiment.

...if the isotope decays, the cat dies, if not it lives, and there’s no way to be certain which until the box is opened and the cat observed.

If it’s dead, good.

If not, the box is rigged with explosives, there are snipers on the nearby rooftop and, worst case, I am myself heavily armed.

There’s a 50/50 chance the isotope decays, but I promise you, once observed, the cat’s not making it out alive.

Because there are two lessons to be learned today.

One: something about quantum mechanics.

The other: There’s more than one way to kill Schrodinger’s Cat.