Author Archive for Kaine Andrews


Writing Prompt: Deep Blue

Deep Blue had been successful… mostly. It had made it 800 meters before showing any strain, and 850 before they’d had to pull out. They had samples galore; frill sharks, dumbo octopuses, krill and plankton that somehow managed to get by down there. All of it instantly cryogenically frozen so they could actually get a look at it before it exploded on the way back up.

All that, and one odd thing. A relic of some kind. They’d found it at the midpoint of the dive, something metallic being piked up by the sensors. With a careful robotic arm, they’d retrieved it, kept it in storage with the rest, though it hadn’t needed the cryogenics to survive the trip.

It had turned out to be a small statue, not quite a meter tall, made of something the eggheads couldn’t identify. Some kind of metal alloy, they said, but nothing they could pinpoint. Probably some kind of siderite or a chunk of a meteor, or both, they said.

It depicted something that had a vaguely human shape, but instead of arms there were long tentacles, wrapped around the figure’s body like a straightjacket. The face, if you could call it that, was also obscured by tentacles, seeming to emerge from the lower jaw and raise upwards to cover the head.

Some of the researchers had joked that they’d found Cthulhu. Until they started dying. Then they weren’t joking.


Writing Prompt: Cats

Everyone avoided the house at the corner of Palm and 24th.

Stories as to why were varied, but the one that had the most traction – and the most whispers in the schoolyard, leading inevitably to dares, leading inevitably to children running away from the house like their pants were on fire – was that the previous tenant had spent the twenty years leading up to his death torturing animals. Specifically, cats.

The man, Eldon Withers by name, supposedly hated them. Didn’t have a single bone in his body that found them fluffy, cute, adorable, or loving. They were just nuisances to him, and the fact that the neighborhood had plenty of strays and outdoor pets drove him mad. So he took matters into his own hands, and started, in his terms, “cleaning up the neighborhood.”

Nobody knows how many he disposed of. Nobody knows what he did or how he did it. They just know that after twenty years, everyone kept their cats indoors and there were no strays. Then Eldon died. Heart attack, most say. Vengeance of the cats, the more superstitious townsfolk were prone to saying.

When the EMTs and cops searched the place, they found thousands of bones in the basement. They couldn’t determine just how many animals the bones belonged to, but just by sheer number, it was “a lot.”

That’s not where it ended, though; sometimes people would hear cats yowling in the night, or sounds of cats fighting. The sounds always came from the house, but those brave enough to enter never found any live animals… though a lot of them came out claiming they had felt watched, or with weird scratches on them that they swear weren’t there before they went in.

Some have claimed a hobo or two has tried squatting in the house. Police reports back it up; at least one body of an unidentified male was found in the house after calls complaining of a horrible stench were logged. The reports claim the body had been scratched, clawed and bitten in over a hundred places. Heart attack was the official story; died by fright was the claim of whisperers.

Nobody goes near the house, except kids on dares and the cops when the place starts stinking again or the yowls get too loud. Nobody knows what’s in there, but the kids on the schoolyard say it’s the spirit of all those murdered cats, pissed off and hungry for blood… and content to take it from anyone who trespasses on their domain.



I’m ill. Not just my physical and mental issues – though it’s not helping those, either – but ill with worry.

With the current situation, and the stories being released by the FBI, I feel that myself and people I know and care about are in very real danger, and there’s nothing to be done about it except wait, cross my fingers, and hope.

I don’t take well to those things.

Of course, the individuals who may do me or mine harm would probably say I’m right to be afraid, that I’m an enemy of democracy and should be executed as a traitor. That seems to be their rhetoric as regards anyone who doesn’t agree with them or doesn’t believe their story about a stolen election. They’re not exactly big-brain types with much capacity to argue their point. I suspect most of the big words they know – like “sedition” – they picked up from Q or some other idiot conspiracy site.

I don’t know what’s going to happen, and feel like I’m going to live through the next four years walking on eggshells and waiting for a bomb to drop. Part of me wishes if the little snots intend to do something, that they just do it and get it over with. I’d rather know, instead of be waiting.

That sounds like I want some kind of Civil War, that I want the imagined danger to become real, which isn’t the case at all. I just want not to be waiting, to be holding my breath and expecting the shoe to drop at any moment. I want to not have to spend the day refreshing the news websites. I want to be able to sleep right again.

They told me it’d all be over in November, everything would be fine then. I said “I don’t think so.” They told me everything would be fine on January 6th. I said “I don’t think so.” Now they say everything will be fine after the 20th, and I still don’t think so. I don’t know that we’ll ever be “fine” again.

I could keep going, but I’d just be chasing my tail. I’m scared, I’m sick with it, I’m worried about myself and my friends, even the ones I haven’t talked to in years. I’m worried about anyone who currently lives or works in or around capitol cities.


Writing Prompt: Sleep

I don’t sleep anymore. Not since they brought me back. None of us do.

They don’t know why; they run tests, they poke and prod, they try to put us under the hard way with drugs and electric shocks and sometimes concussions. None of it works. We just don’t sleep. At all. We’re always running at maximum power, always awake, alert, ready for… whatever.

Some people think that makes us freaks, that we’re something that shouldn’t exist. Of course, plenty of people thought that even before they found out we don’t sleep. Tampering with the dead, bringing them back to life, that tends to set people on edge even if it does mean the keys to immortality are in their hands.

That’s what we were, you know. Dead. Suicides and cancer patients, mostly. Those who still had enough of their vital components to try resuscitating them. I think that’s why we don’t sleep. Had enough of it while we were out of the game.

There’s downsides, though. How to fill the time, for one thing. You never realize how useful sleeping is as a method to just speed up the clock a notch until you can’t do it anymore. It means you have too much time to sit and think. Thinking isn’t as good as you believe it is, not really; when you have nothing but time to think, no break from it, no chance to actually process what you’re thinking, well… it leads some pretty dark places.

Places like “What if no one had to sleep anymore?” Sure, sounds great. Until you realize the only way to do that is to make sure they all take the big nap first. Some of them aren’t going to wake up from that, of course. Someone’s going to get too roughed up, a liver or spleen ruptured here, a giant hole in their head over there. But you start thinking of that as collateral damage, as acceptable losses. After all, things will be so much better when everyone is like you.

That’s what’s running through my mind as I crouch behind the couch of what used to be my wife, thinking and waiting for her to come home. I say “was” because she decided she didn’t want to be married to some “unsleeping zombie freak” as she called me. She’ll see. She’ll understand when she’s like me and doesn’t have to sleep anymore, doesn’t have to worry about nightmares. When she knows what it’s like.


Tabletop Troubles

I love table top RPGs. They’re a vice that I literally can’t get enough of, but that I never get to indulge. Dungeons and Dragons, World of Darkness, GURPS, you name it, I’ve probably played it (or at least own the books.)

I was lucky enough to be involved in a D&D campaign (Storm King’s Thunder) for the last few months, but progress had been slow due to some folks not showing up or blowing it off constantly. Yesterday I was delivered the news that the campaign was over. No more game.

It was the first game I’d had in a while, and I was really hoping to finish it; it scratched that itch, even though it wasn’t my first love (I will always be drawn back to World of Darkness, especially Vampire, Demon, and Wraith) and wasn’t quite the style of campaign I like best – I much prefer role-playing to roll-playing, and D&D isn’t particularly conductive to that. It was still the chance to game, and I will always jump at that.

But now it’s gone, and I am left bereft and broken. I don’t even know where to start looking for a new game – there aren’t many players in my area, and most of the ones I’ve seen online either want a DM or are privated invite only affairs.

I’m sure I’m not the only roleplayer out there; what do my fellow tabletop addicts do when the game dries up and they’re not getting their fix? Anyone know a good Vampire game online that’s looking for players? Let me know down below.


Writing Prompt: Bleed

It’s easy. The pen is the scalpel, the page the wrist. The words, best of all, are the lifeblood.

It starts slow. A slash here, a droplet of blood there. Single words without much meaning, blossoming on the page. Another cut, deeper this time, the bloodstains begin to merge together, giving birth to clauses, sentences, eventually paragraphs.

That’s not enough. Never enough. Cut again, tear through the flesh and expose the beating heart beneath. The arterial blood is what we need, what we will have before the day is through, staining the whole page red. The white space will be killed. Writing is not an act of peace; it is an act of war and violence, altering perception by shattering it. Leave your mark on the world in the splatters of blood that tell your story.

Eventually, however, the blood runs out. There’s no more left. Either the patient has died, or needs time to recuperate. The pen is put away, the bleeding allowed to stop.

But tomorrow, a fresh page will be waiting, clean flesh to hack into the design you choose.

Don’t keep it waiting too long.


Pushing Through

“I don’t wanna.” “I don’t feel like it.” “I don’t think I can.”

I’m very familiar with these mantras; I hear them often enough from my own lips. But sometimes you can shove them aside and find something worthwhile in doing the work regardless of whether you feel like it or not. The almost 8,000 words written on assorted writing prompts in the last week and a half or so says that’s the case, anyway.

Still, sometimes it’s hard to do it. When your body and brain don’t want to let you, when everything seems stacked against it, when it seems pointless do to. But this last week I pushed through that, and made progress, and feel like I should be proud of that.

There’s not going to be a second writing prompt tonight – getting too late in the day and I have other things I must do – but at least I know I still can do it even when I feel like I don’t want to, and there’s plenty more to come. After all, I’m only about 1/26th of the way through the goal of a writing prompt a day for a whole year.

Thinking about it that way makes it seem worse, somehow. Makes me feel like there’s so many to go instead of being satisfied with what I’ve managed already and the knowledge that I can keep going. “Eyes on the prize” is probably a phrase I need to remove from my vocabulary; thinking about the end from the beginning is just disheartening to me.

What keeps you out there going when the going gets tough? What to you say to yourself when your inner voice says “I don’t wanna”? Let us know down below.


Writing Prompt: Tree

“The ground here is sour,” Ezekiel said, staring at the blackened earth beneath his feet. Surrounding him were the long-dead stumps of trees that had been cleared long before he’d come here. In front of him stood the sole survivor, a twisted looking oak that had only a dusting of leaves despite it being summer. Only one branch of any significance jutted out from it, the bark worn away in the middle as though something – or several somethings – had rubbed against it harshly for long hours.

He looked up, towards the three others in the clearing with him. Josiah and Abelforth, both members of his flock, stood on either side of Harold, their hands clamped on Harold’s wrists and elbows. Harold drooped lazily between them, blood running from his temple and dripping on the ground below. The ground drank of this offering with greed, leaving no trace it had ever fallen.

“Sour indeed. The Indians knew it. It’s why they cut all these trees down.”

Ezekiel moved to stand in front of the withered oak, laying one hand against the trunk and caressing it like a lover.

“But not you, old friend. Not you. You they left, and we thank God and all the saints for that, can you say ‘hallelujah’?”

Josiah and Abelforth both gave a murmured “hallelujah” in response. Harold remained silent.

“And you know why they left this one,” Ezekiel asked. He received no answer, but hadn’t expected one. He was sermonizing, and those who were in his flock knew his tone.

He knelt before the tree and picked up the coil of rope he’d laid there. His fingers began the work of knotting it, leaving a loop just slightly bigger than a man’s head and a strong slipknot. He rose, tossing the long end of the rope over that solitary branch. He was pleased when it landed perfectly on the worn spot. He’d been casting his rope there for a long time.

“Because the ground is also hungry. It is very hungry, brothers, and must be fed.”

He gestured to the others, and Josiah and Abelforth moved towards him, carrying Harold to a spot just beneath the dangling noose.

Ezekiel slipped the noose over Harold’s head, and cinched it against the man’s neck.

“Witness, and be not afraid.” With another gesture from Ezekiel, Josiah released Harold, letting Abelforth hold the man alone, and moved to grab hold of the long end of the rope. Putting force against it, he pulled it taut. Once he had the weight, Abelforth did the same.

“Now go, lost sheep. Feed the tree. Feed the earth. Feed the flock.”

Ezekiel pulled out a weathered hunting knife, and ran it across Harold’s neck. At the same time, with practiced motions, Abelforth and Josiah yanked, hoisting Harold into the air. Harold began to dance, gurgling and thrashing against the trunk of the tree as his blood rained down onto the ground below.

The miracle came quickly. Ezekiel’s weathered face was splattered with the lifeblood of his sacrifice, and the years were washed clean from it. Crow’s feet disappeared, rheumy eyes saw clear, and hair that had beginning to go white became a thick and lustrous black once again.

The tree, too, saw improvement; small branches began to burst forth on all sides, and fresh foliage bloomed. A rain of acorns dropped, pelting all three of the men below, and Ezekiel made note of where each landed. They would fetch them once it was done. Not for planting, of course; God, no. There must always be only one tree. The power of the sacrifice would be in them, though, and his flock was just as hungry as the ground.

In a few moments, it was over. Harold was no longer dancing, and no more blood ran from him. He was a limp doll swinging slightly in the breeze that had come up. Ezekiel nodded.

“Bring him down and bury him as the Good Book says. Then hurry to the church. Sacrament will be at noon.”

Josiah and Abelforth nodded, and began their work. Ezekiel paid them no mind. Instead he caressed the tree again, the old hangman’s tree that he had fed for over a hundred years.

“Sleep well, old friend. Another sacrifice soon.”


Writing Prompt: Bag

Benjamin had lifted the backpack right off the old dude without even trying. It had been easy, almost too easy, and he couldn’t wait to find out what was inside. It felt pretty heavy; if he was lucky, there’d be a laptop or a tablet inside. Something Lucas could leech personal info off of, anyway; it’d make the paycheck bigger.

He swept the assorted detritus off the top of his father’s workbench, not caring that one or two of the little wooden figurines his dad liked to carve hit the ground and cracked, sending splinters into the air. Giggling a little to himself, already imagining all the things Lucas’ money could buy, he upended the bag and let the contents spill out.

His giggles were cut short when he saw his supposed treasure. Meaningless bric-a-brac, trinkets and doodads galore. No laptop. No tablet. Not even a cell phone. Just a bunch of junk.

He swept through the pile, scattering it a bit, hoping to see the gleam of black metal or hear the chime of a mistreated bit of electronic wizardry, but no luck. All he saw were inhalers, empty pill bottles, a switchblade, ticket stubs, a bag of marbles. More crap.

There was a bang on the shed’s door. Benjamin jumped, but paid it no mind, his hands still rummaging in the treasure pile for something actually of value. At the second bang he glanced over his shoulder, irritated.

“I’ll be out in a minute, Dad! I’m busy!”

There was silence from outside for a moment. Then a third bang, but this time it wasn’t knocking. It was the door being blasted inward with what must have been a massive amount of force. Standing on the other side was the old man Benjamin had lifted the bag from in the first place. He recognized him from the ugly orange jacket and the battered fedora the old guy was wearing; no sane person would wear that kind of getup in a Floridian summer.

“You have something of mine,” he said, his voice cracked and weary with age. “I’m going to have it back.”

Benjamin snorted. “What? This crap? Fine, take it, you old fuck.”

Benjamin swept his hand across the worktable again, scattering the items and causing more than one to hit the floor. The old man winced as he heard something crack, as though it caused him actual, physical pain. He moved forward, into the shed, bending over his treasures.

Benjamin saw his chance. The old bastard was right there, right below him. His hand crept out and picked up his dad’s hammer. The expression of surprise on his face when he tried to bring it down and couldn’t move, couldn’t even command himself to take a breath, would have been comical if it wasn’t also terrible.

Blood began to run down his chin, staining his Slipknot t-shirt. The old man had picked up the switchblade and without batting an eye or giving Benjamin any time to react, had driven it into the boy’s stomach.

The old man stood, pulling the knife out in a motion that spoke of years of practice. He folded the blade and set it gently on the table. Then his fingers pulled the hammer from the boy’s hand and set that aside as well.

“Glug,” said Benjamin, then repeated the syllable a couple more times as if for emphasis.

“Glug, indeed,” said the old guy, as he wrapped one of his gnarled hands around the boy’s throat and began to squeeze.

When it was done, the body safely tucked in the corner, a grisly present for the boy’s father to find later, perhaps, the old man bent over and began putting his treasures back into the bag. After he had accounted for each and every one, whispering to them as though they were lost children, he stopped, considering.

Slowly and carefully, he picked up one of the wooden figurines from the floor. This one was of a swan, or would have been, had it been finished. The general shape was there, but details were still hard to pick out.

“Benjamin,” the old man whispered to it, stroking its splintered backside. “Welcome to the menagerie.”

He added the wooden swan to his bag, before shouldering the pack, and walking away.


Feeling Ill

Woke up this morning with a hell of a headache, lungs cinched in a vice lock and with everything painted gray.

I don’t know that I can write like this. Of course, there’s always the “if you don’t, you’ll feel worse” aspect, which is true, but the “if you do, you’ll write crap you can’t stand to look at and will feel worse” aspect is also true.

Part of me feels bad taking a day off, but that part will be quiet for a while. Technically I’m ahead on my prompts as it is, so missing one won’t kill me… besides, I might feel better later and come back.

But if anyone was waiting with baited breath for the customary 4AM post of prompt #1 on any given day, I’m sorry. It just ain’t happenin’.

Fellow writers out there, how do you write when you feel at your worst? Is there a secret trick to powering through? Feel free to share it with the class. I can’t be the only one who’d love to know.

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