An eclectic selection of writings that reflect the diversity of Cat Russell’s work, including science fiction, horror, humor, and parodies of Shakespeare and mythology.
Clotho inhaled, enjoying the heady aroma of roasted beans and caffeine that permeated the small coffee shop. The temptation to step inside and grab a cup was irresistable. She didn’t know if mortals could actually smell caffeine, but it gave the goddess a deep sense of satisfaction–almost like the burnt offerings humans used to offer the gods in the past. But not now. Now, if they burned her coffee? Well, she’d be pissed.
What’s the worst that could happen?
A little chime sounded on the Fate’s cell phone. In the old days, there had been an actual tiny bell that would appear and disappear, but she savored the advancements that came with the passage of time, just as she savored a good cup of joe. She also liked the little bell sound. Best of both worlds, really.
And why not? She wasn’t trapped by linear time the way mortals were, but she enjoyed watching its passage from their perspective. She sipped her coffee, sighing with pleasure. The little bell chimed again.
What’s the worst that could happen?
Long ago, she’d put a filter on the alert, only taking note of those “great ones” who tempted Fate with those fateful words. Great ones? Ha! Just another term for “more fun to mess with.” As if politicians and celebrities held more sway over the tapestry of life than she and her sisters–or even wandering beggars in the right circumstances. Just pull the right thread, snip another, and whole swathes of cloth would unravel, only to be rewoven in the pattern of their choosing.
Even the gods themselves knew not to tempt Clotho and her sisters, for while they could be generous, they also found a challenge hard to resist.
What’s the worst that could happen?
Let’s see. Buddha and Christ had both been beggars who changed the world for the better. Would she be that generous this time? She checked her notifications to see who had tempted…er, challenged her so often in the past few minutes. Upon seeing the name, she scowled and decided that perhaps this time, she and her sisters would not be kind.
She texted Atropos and Lachesis about their latest challenge. Their reply?
This will be FUN.
Clotho chuckled to herself. Two more mochaccinos suddenly appeared on the counter in front of the startled barista; the goddess grabbed the white styrofoam cups, tucked her cell back into her earth-friendly tote, and headed out the (now) automatic doors.
*originally appeared on the Catherine Russell writing blog on May 12, 2016, written for the Friday Flash writing challenge.
My last breath
crystallizes on the
Life and air and warmth
inches from my face
but an eternity away
My lungs freeze
as I float into infinity
The stars reach for me…
Supplies and air enough for one survivor.
What will you tell the rescue ship when asked
about my absence?
Will you survive the airlock
once they learn of your
My last sight –
your grim smile
as you darken
*originally appeared on the ganymeder writing blog on January 16, 2015, written for the Friday Flash writing challenge.
**The formatting is not showing up properly. I am working to rectify the problem.
So innocent looking, yet so deadly.
That was Karen’s last thought as she looked at the small, colorful gummies sitting on the counter. She had lined them up for tea, thinking they might melt and make nice sweeteners for the steaming brew. Who knew? She wasn’t posh. She wasn’t cultured. She liked her sweet tooth, and if the candy didn’t dissolve she’d still have a treat when she reached the bottom of her china cup.
However, how was she to know that the assorted soft candies left on her doorstep the night before were not from a secret admirer –but rather they were the abandoned children of a lost traveller among the stars? That the traveller’s race, though tiny, was deadly when crossed and not prone to forgiving transgressions? So when Karen unsealed the little plastic package of rainbow-colored gummies, she simply released them from their airlocked space. That was no matter; they were adaptable. But they could not, apparently, adapt to scalding liquid.
So as Karen poured the freshly brewed tea into her clean, white china cup, she was ill-prepared for the screams of agony emitted by the little orange gummy resting in its bottom. She gasped and nearly dropped the pot. Then chastising herself for her foolishness, she realized there must have been an air-pocket or something in the candy that caused the squealing noise. Oh well, it’d still taste fine.
She popped the little orange gummy, now flattened and mushy, onto her waiting tongue, bit down, and swallowed. The squealing stopped.
But Orangie’s brothers and sisters started, and soon she lay bleeding on the floor from a thousand small bites. They were insanely fast. As she watched the rainbow assortment of gummies advance on her prone figure, she realized that Orangie was the lucky one.
He had been consumed in a single bite.
*originally appeared on Catherine Russell writing blog on August 13, 2015, written for the Friday Flash writing challenge.
Just another horror
arms limp, lifeless
fall on deaf ears.
I leisurely grab the crowbar,
its steel feels good in my hand,
Not like this thing,
one more monstrosity
–hungry for my flesh.
Its own hangs
like tattered clothing
off its broken and bruised bare body,
menacing in its nakedness.
The crowbar feels cool in my hand,
Not like this thing
that could kill me with the slightest scratch,
as far from right as possible
–as wrong as the absence of feeling
as I cut it down
–so ordinary, so commonplace,
like swatting a fly.
I am clothed from head to foot,
armored against this plague:
proof against pity.
The numbness in my soul
**poem originally appeared on Catherine Russell writing blog on July 29, 2016, written for the Friday Flash writing challenge.
“Is it not strange that cat guts should hail souls out of men’s bodies?” mused the red-bearded Benedict, eying the musician and his companions with disdain. Despite this odd-seeming praise for the violinist’s musical prowess, Benedict hid in the bushes studiously avoiding the man, though the other humans strained closer as he sang and played. They were evidently pleased with his performance.
However, sitting quietly behind the bearded Benedict, Edgar the cat was not pleased. Violinists may hail souls from men’s bodies with their melodies, but the melody of Edgar’s fellow felines must have been less than pleasing when their own souls were ripped to make the strings that Balthasar now played. He may not have gutted the cats themselves, yet he harvested the fruits of their slaughter with his lonely, lovely notes. He represented all of cat-kind’s dearest foes. The cat’s yellow eyes narrowed, he unsheathed his claws, readying himself to avenge his fellows.
The song ended, and as the other humans gathered round, the musician clothed himself in false modesty by feebly fending off their praise. However, the red-bearded fellow before Edgar mumbled to himself, “Or was that sheep’s guts? I can never remember.”
Disgusted with himself for falling for this fool’s idiotic chatter, an unholy hissing erupted from Edgar’s disparaged soul as he leapt into the air, landing on the back of the unsuspecting Benedict. The man batted wildly at the maddened feline, raving about hanging dogs that howled too much or some such nonsense, but – although insulting dogs never hurt – it was too late. Edgar would have none of it. He sank teeth and claws into the cowering Italian, making an altogether more pleasing music to his own furry ears.
*originally appeared on Catherine Russell writing blog on September 11, 2015, written for the Friday Flash writing challenge and inspired by Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.
“Ode to the Mighty Onion”
What other root
can make a grown man cry?
Not by taste, but
the mere smell
brings a tear to his eye.
Not a single tear, no-
that’s not true!
-but unleashes a flood
down his frowning visage,
reddens those dewey orbs –
now swollen and stinging,
and wracks his unsuspecting nostrils
with unwelcome liquids streaming.
why should cooks chance such discomfort
merely for the sake of taste?
A bite with bite,
for in taste alone is not this veggie’s strength
but also texture,
that succulent crunch between the teeth
that bites and cools
The perfect layer of a sandwich.
The perfect metaphor as well-
for people and this mighty produce have this in common:
The more you get under their skin,
the more likely it is that someone is going to cry.
I only hope, dear reader,
for your sake,
that you avoid these tears
by taking the advice of many a sage
and first soaking them in water.
This works better on onions than people.
*originally appeared on the ganymeder writing blog on April 5, 2015, written for Cuyahoga Library’s 30 Days of Poetry writing challenge.
*image courtesy of BigFoto.com