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Twin – An apocalyptic short story

Source: Twin – An apocalyptic short story

Donald was in the process of fixing dinner, or rather, he was opening cans and dumping the contents out onto the two plates sitting on the small table.  The light from the battery powered lamp threw dim shadows on the walls.

“When do you suppose this will end?” asked Lacey trying to see out the small opaque, round window.  It was pointless, though.  The window filter wasn’t made to be opened.  “It’s already gone on longer than before.”  It had lingered for a week previously, then stopped for two days before coming back worse than ever.

Donald eyed her.   “Since it’s lasted this long, you know the score as well as I.  Come on, eat your dinner.  It’s time for the daily broadcast.  Maybe there’ll be some news.”  He clicked on the radio.

Lacey settled at the table and they picked at their food in silence, listening to the government announcer.  Neither had an appetite.

“We’re now in day twenty of the crisis,” came the generic male voice of the announcer.  “Again, no one should go outside unless entirely necessary, and all filters should be kept in place.  According to Dr. Horton Sullivan of the Department of Meteorology at the Miller Institute, there is some disagreement among scientists as to how long this will persist.  It is agreed though, that if all citizens follow the directives, they will remain safe and unharmed until the danger is over.”

The radio went silent.  The broadcasts were never long but this was the shortest and the most useless message they’d gotten to date.  Disgusted, Donald reached over and turned it off.

The two meteorologists stared at each other.

“We need to look,” said Lacey, quietly.  Donald agreed.

They got up from the table and went to the door.  Donald gripped the top edge of the filter and when Lacey nodded, he pulled it open.

Lacey stuck her head out, stared up and quickly drew it back in.  Tears coursed down her cheeks, leaving tracks in the sooty film covering her face.  She wiped her burning eyes with a sleeve, smearing the residue.  She held her breath against the foul air being admitted.  Donald looked intently at the sky then hurriedly slammed the filter shut.  He and Lacey stared at each other again, dirty faces ashen.

Some few days had been better than others.  More light, less smog, and easier breathing.  But no more.  With the filters in place, the air conditioning inside their smog survival capsule would sustain them for a while longer, and they had plenty of canned food.  But to what purpose?  The hazy, silvery orb in the darkened, roiling skies told them what they already knew in their hearts: the danger would never be over.  The inversion was worsening, becoming permanent.  It wasn’t clearing.  The moon was gone, and soon, the sun would not be visible either.

And it never would be seen again, as all life expired in a man-made heat death, and Earth became a twin to Venus.


Sources for Story Ideas



I write science fiction and fantasy – sometimes a combination of both in the form of scifantasy. I also write the occasional short horror story.  The first time I was asked from where I got ideas, I’d never really thought about it.  I would just get one and off I’d go writing.

I guess I kind of figured I was pulling them all out of thin air.  Until I stopped to think about it.  Though I admit that there has been the occasion when an image has appeared in my head for no reason I can see and nagged me until I wrote a story about it, most of my ideas didn’t just hit me up side my head from out of nowhere. Nope, once I thought about it, I saw they were coming from a number of places.  Of course, an idea for a story can come from just about anywhere but here is a list of the most common sources for me (and, so far, I’ve never run out of ideas).


It can be just a snippet.  The first book I wrote, “Boucher’s World: Emergent”, (science fiction dealing with the interactions between a group of humans, cats, dogs, and a race of giant aliens, all with psychic abilities and trapped together for two thousand years) came about because of a dream.

What was the dream?  Well, it was about a girl, or young woman, who worked for a pest company, and her partner was a cat.  They lived in a city covered by a dome.  That was it (don’t ask me why I’d dream something like that! I’ve had even stranger ones!).  The rest of the story sort of worked its way from there.

It was actually supposed to be one book but by the time I got through I had a whole series, which consists of a trilogy, a novel, two novellas, two novelettes, and a short story, and it’s a series because as I wrote, I realized it was becoming ‘way too long for one book.


Everyday life, especially recent or current events, is always good fodder for a nice yarn.  I’ve written a number of drabbles (a story written in exactly one hundred words), and some are based on an actual event, such as “Once Upon a Spider”, taken from an encounter with an orb weaver by one of my daughters.  Or the time I opened my washing machine and found I’d forgotten to check my jean pockets, resulting in another drabble, “Tatters”.


For a while, I entered in a short story writing contest where the five-hundred-word-or-less story has to be written around a given image.  It was quite an enjoyable exercise (only won once, a second place win, “A Moment in Time” but it was fun doing them).  And, you don’t have to enter a contest to use visual prompts, any image will do.  For instance, I  got the idea for my “Cady and Sam” werewolf series from seeing a picture of my house juxtaposed with one of a large, wolfish dog.


The drabble, “Noise”, is based on the fact that I have tinnitus, though I suppose that could also be considered a life event.


The drabble, “Martin’s Café”, came about from the delicious aroma of bacon wafting up to my room one morning when my daughter was cooking breakfast (nuff said!).


(Which could also be considered a life event but I kind of separate the two when the event was a very long time ago.) In the case of the series on which I’m currently working, the idea came from a memory.  No, I don’t remember having been a dragon (but wouldn’t it be totally cool if I did?), but I’ve found that sometimes a little of myself gets into my stories. I remembered being three years old (I know I was that age because I asked my mother about it once, and she verified my age at the time), and having a bad case of eczema. I spent some time looking as though I was covered in scales.  Added to that was a period a time during which I felt alienated from everyone (for reasons I won’t go into here) and ran away from home when I was twelve (hmm…someday I might get around to writing my autobiography…nah, writing fiction is much more fun!).  Anyway, from those memories came the idea of the Spaceships and Magic series, the first book being  “Turner: Bitter Change”, the story of Juri Turner, the human-born dragon (I’ve written four books in the series and at the moment I’m working on book five).


The thing is, story ideas can come from anywhere and these are six examples of from where some of mine have come.  Always try to keep a pencil and pad handy.  That way, when an idea hauls off and slaps you in the face, you’ll be ready.  Believe me, there’s nothing sadder – or more frustrating – than knowing you had a good idea for a story but now you can’t remember it and you didn’t write it down.

They don’t always pan out (sometimes it’s a really bad idea) but all the same, it doesn’t hurt to write it down.

Just in case.

Sower – post apocalyptic



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I walk into the quiet dark house.  “Hello!” I call, flipping the light switch by the door. “Where’s everybody?”

No answer.  I walk to the kitchen.  The back door is open but nobody’s in the moonlit backyard.  I’m puzzled.  Gracie wouldn’t go off and leave the door open.  I feel uneasy.

I haul my cell out to see if maybe I’ve missed a call.  It’s not showing any, so I shove it back into my pocket.

I look around and see something on the floor by the counter.  I look closer.  There’s an overturned container on the counter and the contents have spilled out.  I glance around the kitchen.  One chair is pushed back from the table.  There’s an odd odor lingering in the air.

I start next door to see if our friend, Marcie, has seen her and the kids, but I know something’s wrong.  Gracie wouldn’t leave a mess in the kitchen.

As I cross the lawn, I catch a motion in the shadows near the back.  A large figure is sprinting toward the trees at the edge of the property.  My heartbeat quickens.  I grab the rake leaning against the house and follow.

“Hey!” I yell, “What’re you doing in my yard!”

It’s fast but I’m faster, and I’m catching up when a moonbeam illuminates the loping form.  I fall back gasping, almost dropping my makeshift weapon.  It’s a monster!  Suddenly I see drag marks in the grass and fear strikes my heart.  I resume pursuit, knowing it’s taken my family, and tackle the monster before it reaches the trees.  I turn it over, its face is horrible.

“Where’s my family?” I scream, sitting astride it.

It’s big but I’m strong, and I hold the rake handle against its throat.  Its hideous eyes are wide, staring up at me.  I scream again and it manages to point toward the woods.  I bash its head to knock it out, and I take off.

I find a strange aircraft and approach the open door.  I peer in.  I hear a noise, a soft whimper.  I go in, and find my wife and two kids stuffed into a cage!

They’re groggy but okay.  Relieved, I release them.  We return to the monster lying unmoving in the grass.  We can plainly see the thing, because, now, both moons have risen and are full.  They shine full on its dreadful, one-tone, pallid face.  I must have hit it too hard because its ghastly blue eyes stare sightlessly at the sky.

“What is it?” asks Gracie.

“It’s ugly!” exclaims Ellen, our six-year-old.

Four-year-old Bill stares, mouth agape.  My neighbors have heard the commotion and are running over, concerned.  They stop and stare, horrified.

I regard the beautiful green, white, and purple faces of my family, with perfect, round, red noses, generous red lips, and sharp, white teeth.  I smile, thankful I’ve saved them from whatever kind of monster this was.  I pull out my cell and call the authorities.


SELIA's Promise: A Short Story by [McMullen, Christina]

I chose this story to read because it’s short and I don’t have a lot of time at the moment. Besides, I’ve enjoyed other of this author’s books and figured I’d find a laugh or two in it. And, believe it or not considering the dark premise, I did.

I can’t say a lot without giving too much away because, after all, it IS a shortie, but this I can say: it’s the best apocalyptic story I’ve read in recent years. It is dark and clever and it grabbed me from the beginning. I went through the highs and lows – and more highs and lows – along with the protagonist, and could not see what the end would be – until the very end. And it was perfect.

It is well written (as is usual for Christina McMullen) and I’m so glad she wrote it!

Bea’s Books

Boucher’s World series:

  Raven and C'elie: A Love Story - A Boucher's World prequel (novelette)   Moving Day - A Boucher's World prequel (short story)

Boucher's World: Emergent Book 1 of the Boucher's World trilogy  Boucher's World: Encounters - Book 3 of the Boucher's World trilogy

Cady and Sam werewolf series:

050413_0018_FREEBOOKS2.jpg 050413_0018_FREEBOOKS3.jpg A Blankie for Baby 1 Trilogy of Quiet SW the-other-shoe-6

Un-serialized books:

eyesfirst012a shaniqua4 Adams and Eves2 

Spaceships and Magic series:

Bitter Change15 Bitter Change bc change23 

All available at these and other ebook sites: SmashwordsAmazonB&NKobo Apple, Inktera.  Also available at  Scribd subscription site.  Reviews at any of these sites are welcomed.

(All novels, novelettes, and novellas available as paperbacks; the first three books of the Cady and Sam werewolf series available in A Short Trilogy of Quiet as a paperback – see at Amazon, B&N, Createspace, etc.)

Yep, it’s that time of year again! Click here (or on the image below) and download all of my books for either a deep discount or absolutely FREE thru March 11th. (Novels are $1, all others are FREE. (Coupon RAE75 also appears on the listing for each ebook; just key it in on the checkout page to receive the discount.)



(Note: the novel, Turner: Bitter Change is also FREE with the coupon. Boucher’s World: Emergent and Interruptions are permafree and do not need the coupon)

(The novellas, Seed, Swallow and Dove, and the novelette, Raven and C’elie, contain some scenes of sexually explicit material which some may find offensive and which is not appropriate for a young audience.)


Click on this image to browse ALL discounted and FREE books for Read an Ebook Week at Smashwords!



Zenzoris Returns (The Sophie Radcliffe Series Book 1) by [Burnley, Jenny]

Buy links: and


Sophie Radcliffe is a gutsy and brilliant (and somewhat foul-mouthed) computer scientist from Texas. She’s also a ten-year veteran of the Intergalactic Law Enforcement Agency. She and her two human partners captured a Drogg criminal named Zenzoris and locked him up forever.

Zenzoris, a particularly ruthless and nasty bad guy, made a promise to exact revenge against Sophie and her planet, and he’s also determined to destroy the Intergalactic Council and seize control of the galaxy.

When Sophie hears he has escaped from his prison pod to instigate his nefarious mission, her job is to recapture him and throw him back in the slammer.

The story is well written with a good plot and surprisingly well developed characters for being so short, and the author also manages to throw in a rather startling twist. The story has aliens, secret portals, computer coding, wormholes, spaceships, stuff blowing up, plenty of action, and some moments that really had me chuckling.

I enjoyed this quick read and I think that anyone who likes science fiction – and space opera in particular – will get a kick out of it.

I give it five stars.

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