The Write Photo #slackwritingprompt

We are going to start a weekly photo prompt for writers just starting out all the way to the seasoned word smith. Here is the challenge: using the photograph below write a haiku that’s 5/7/5 (syllables) or a 55 word short story. Both of these writing formats have improved my writing by 100 percent. By all means have some fun…

Tattooed Birch

Please link what you have written in the comment box below so we can enjoy what each of you have written.

Zeus #atozchallenge #fiction

“That year, Zeus runs in the United States. Franks being a half-assed trainer, shows mediocre results. Finished eleventh two weeks earlier. Zeus is going to run at Bellemont. He makes the second race, and wins by four lengths and pays one-hundred and sixteen dollars. Ol’ Cash heads for the fifty-dollar window at the clubhouse. He has fifteen hundred dollars in win tickets, plus six hundred dollars to show. He walks away with eighty-thousand dollars in winnings.”

“If I were a betting man, I’d bet that Justine Calloway and Ziggy Franks made a killin’ making an off-track bet,” Orrin said.

“That’s my point. If Tripod is a dead-ringer to Cash’s horse. He could collect another mountain of money off the insurance company, but only if Tripod dies.”

“Then I reckon I better get a little surprise ready for them when they come,” Orrin said, with a grin.

Later, Orrin takes Tripod’s horse blanket and dusts a powder from the Stinging Tree branches and leaves. Orrin knows it will enrage the horse. But he has to do that to save his life.

Two nights later, Cash shows up to the stable in a truck, pulling a horse trailer. Ziggy Franks is behind the wheel.

“I’ve been thinking about that horse I sold you a couple of years back. I’ll tell you true, I’ve been missing that horse. I’ll pay you fifty dollars to get that horse back,” Cash said.

“He’s not for sale,” Orrin said.

“Maybe this will help change your mind,” Cash said, producing a revolver. “The only reason that horse is still alive is that he has value to me. I can’t say the same for you.”

Ziggy Franks entered Tripod’s stall, and placed the bridle in his mouth. Backing him out, leading him out of the barn into the trailer. Cash wadded the money into a ball and threw it into Orrin’s face.

“If you don’t keep your mouth shut, you’ll end up in the same dog food processing plant as your horse.”

“If you’re going to transport him in a trailer, put on his blanket…keeps him from getting fussy,” Orrin said offhandedly.

Cash slipped the revolver into his coat pocket, grabbed the horse blanket and headed for the trailer. Thirty seconds after he threw the blanket on Tripod’s back, he bucked when the shock of the hairs embedding themselves in his back. The more it hurt, the more he fought. It took less than ten seconds for Tripod to kick Cash and Ziggy to death.

Part 1 Your Horse is Mine

This has been a month long journey with the A to Z challenge. Each day the letter is the prompt for my short stories themed: “Thirty Ways to Kill …”

And keep on the lookout for my upcoming novel – “Lifeblood of the Dragon.” Lifeblood is set in the seedy alleys of post-war Los Angeles. The morgue is full more often than not. Cameo appearances by the well known gangster Mickey Cohen and his goons.

Thanks to each of you for your input. This has helped us (friends of Steve) in our decision making as we publish and also put some of his stories in TV or radio series. He thanks each of you!!

Your Horse is Mine #fiction #atozchallenge

Orrin Crear worked as a stable hand at a ranch that produced champions. He had a gift for choosing winners. Bookies paid him money for tips on horses.

 “Crear was always right.” They said.

Cash Dakuten was a breeder who travelled the world looking for the best. One foal in his stable was born with a deformed rear foot. He ordered Orrin to put him down. Instead, Orrin signed paper and paid two-dollars for the cripple. Orrin named the colt Tripod. Each day he would walk Tripod then after cooling him down he’d massage his foot and rub Hyjonda Conqueror’s root on his leg. At night he would pray to Saint Lazarus.

“Don’t you worry none, just let Saint Lazarus do his work,” Orrin purred.

As a yearling, Orrin started trotting Tripod. In another three months, Tripod was cantering. At By the end of the season, he was ready to run on the track.

“He rides like the wind. I shouldn’t say anything, but your hoarse is the spitting image of the one Cash Dakuten’s got. He finds out you got him, he’ll be down here to steal him from you,” Phil the jockey warned.

“I bought him fair and square from Mr. Dakuten for two dollars on the barrel head. I got a bill of sale signed by him. He can think what he wants. Tripod ain’t for sale!” Orrin said.

“I heard last year he goes down to Brazil and buys two horses different from salt and pepper. Zeus is four years old and won no race he’s been in. He earned seven hundred and change the first year he runs. I hear Cash buys him for twelve hundred dollars. The other horse he buys named Jupiter, a world-class sprinter. A winner of seven out of eight this year. He lost by a nose to Starlight, the Pan American Champion his last time out. He plunks down eighty-five thousand dollars and has both shipped back here. The thing most people find odd is those horses are identical.”

That night Cash was on a ship headed to New York. He sent a cable to Ziggy Franks, a has-been trainer who gets a Western Union Check for Ten thousand dollars. Franks hooks up with a multi-millionaire named Justine Calloway, who lives in Bayshore, NJ. He arranges the sale, sight unseen for two-hundred and fifty thousand bucks. They shipped both horses to Calloway’s farm. The night both horses arrive, Jupiter dies of croup. Before they report it to the insurance company, they whisked away Jupiter to the dog food factory. Calloway collects on a two-hundred-thousand-dollar insurance policy.”

What happened to the other horse… Zeus?” Orrin asked.

Part two of story tomorrow: Zeus

This is a month long journey with the A to Z challenge. Each day the letter is the prompt for my short stories themed: “Thirty Ways to Kill …”

And keep on the lookout for my upcoming novel – “Lifeblood of the Dragon.” Lifeblood is set in the seedy alleys of post-war Los Angeles. The morgue is full more often than not. Cameo appearances by the well known gangster Mickey Cohen and his goons.

Vegas #atozchallenge #fiction

I’m Andy Kali. I work as a bartender on the strip. I like my job; tips are great and the people are mostly…

 To the right of my station is the Craps table. If you like people watching, Craps is solid entertainment. It’s a simple game – really. You put down money it goes away; you play it safe you may come away with some bills in your wallet. If you’re an adrenaline junkie, you can make all the crazy bets you want. And if you think you can win, you might be right, but the gods of luck rarely make that happen.

There are customers who play hard and make bets that would bankrupt small countries. One such gambler is Texas oilman Johnny Quinn. He’s a giant of a man at six foot seven He makes bets, throws the bones and wins. He whoops and hollers. He hits us for over hundred-grand a week. I’ve learned that the fastest way to get the attention at the casino is by being a Johnny Quinn.

One girl who works here is a floor server who fills in at the coat-check. She’s the most beautiful girl I have ever seen. Her name is Jayna Lau.  Her coal-black, straight hair cascades down her back and her dark brown eyes are captivating.

One night she stopped by my bar on her break to pick up a coke. I was glued on the action at the table.

“Hey! Who does a girl have to kill around here to get a coke?” She snapped.

“Sorry, I said. I guess I get caught up in the tables,” I was caught off guard.

“I’d keep my eye on that shit-kicker if I were you.” She pointed to the big guy.


“He’s too lucky. He’s hit sevens on his first toss of the bones every time. There’s a 6.2 to 1 odd that he’s going to hit a seven. He hits a seven every time on his first toss,” she said.

“I don’t know enough to know what to look for. Where’d you learn so much about the game?” I asked.

“China. I used to work at the Big Six casino in Macau. I dealt the Baccarat and Craps tables. In China, if they suspect your cheating, they take you into a back room and mark your face or cut a couple of fingers off. If they catch you cheating, they’ll take you on a tour of the South China Sea and toss you overboard.” She smiled.

“Sounds like a rough game. I’d like to get a spot at the table as the dealer. But I don’t know enough about it yet,” I said.

“You rake in more money in tips as a bartender. If you tell me your name, maybe I can teach you craps, and you can teach me how to make a drink,” she winked.


“Jayna, she thrust out her hand and gave me a smile that made me melt. What’s your schedule look like?”

“Mornings free, Saturday is my night off.”

“Me too. I’m a full-time student at UNLV.  I’m on holiday break. Let’s hang out on Saturday,”

“I’m all in,” I smiled. “What’s your major?”



“Close, insects. I’m fascinated with arachnids and scorpions.”

“Promise me you won’t bring any of your specimens on Saturday.”

“Most of them aren’t any near as dangerous as you think. A scorpion only uses venom to capture food. The venom neutralizes prey and starts the digestion process. ”

“If it’s all the same, I’ll carry my Benadryl.” 

“There are spiders and scorpions that are so toxic, you’ll croak before you can take your Benadryl,” she smiled. “Here’s my phone number.” She walked away.

I watched her glide across the floor. She glanced back and caught me watching her.

Saturday took long coming. Jayna showed up at my door and looked great.

“You told me you wanted to learn how to play Craps.”

“I do. I think being a dealer at the table would be exciting.”

“The excitement wears off somewhere around the hundredth game. Then it’s just a job. I can teach you in a couple of weeks.”

“Sounds like I have a lot to learn.”

“I’ve been watching your friend play. He cheats.”

“How does he do it?”

“Not every player cheats alone. I think the dealer is in collusion with him. Every time he wins by throwing a seven. He cheats one time after thirty throws. That’s when he makes big bets.”

part 2: Winning Throw

This is a month long journey with the A to Z challenge. Each day the letter is the prompt for my short stories themed: “Thirty Ways to Kill …”

And keep on the lookout for my upcoming novel – “Lifeblood of the Dragon.” Lifeblood is set in the seedy alleys of post-war Los Angeles. The morgue is full more often than not. Cameo appearances by the well known gangster Mickey Cohen and his goons.

many thanks to my editor: Leslie Moon aka Moondustwriter

Bouquet of Unfaithfulness #atozchallenge #fiction

 Dolores had been married to William Fletcher for ten years. She seldom lost her temper but her rage once resurrected was like the fury of a Scottish ghost. William was a reserved man exhibiting occasional spells of passion. This lack of real love was annoying, but Dolores never complained.

 Dolores, out of boredom and in want of a child, would take long walks in the countryside. One bright sunny day, she saw William picking a bouquet of wildflowers. She blushed and ran home hoping that it might lead to an afternoon lovemaking. Willian returned to the cabin several hours later, exhausted, and ambled off to bed.

 Two weeks later, Dolores watched William picking another bouquet of wildflowers. He seemed to have a cheery disposition and a spring in his step. Staying out of sight, she followed him up the lane to a widow’s cottage. The widow accepted the flowers, wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him.

Dolores sat on a log heartbroken, trying to think about what she was going to do. The more she thought, the angrier she became. She called her childhood friend Molly Figgins, who still lived in Scotland.

 “Hello,” a mild, high-pitched voice came over the receiver.

 “Molly, this is Dolores in America.”

 “Is anything wrong?” Molly asked.

             “I need to hear a friend’s voice from home.”

 “Is William well?” She asked.

 Dolores could feel the heat of anger boiling in her blood.

 “Aye, he and his mistress are just fine.”

   “A scoundrel!” Molly spat.

 “Aye, I discovered his indiscretion today.”

 “What can I do to help?”

 “Remember when we were girls and we used to read the poetry of David Mallet?”

 “Yes, I do. I remembered you were always fond of William and Margaret.”

 “Aye, I remember too. I must admit missing Corn Cockle the most.”   

 “Do you have a garden?”

  “Aye, a bonny one. If I say so myself.”

  “After a travesty like the one you just experienced, nothing will set you straight faster than a reminder of Scotland. I’ll pop a package in the mail. It should be there within a week.”

  “I appreciate your friendship as always.”

  “It’s the least I can do to cheer up my best friend.”

 A week later, a small parcel arrived at Dolores’s door. She opened it and found a bag of dark seeds and a pair of rubber gloves. An hour later, she had mixed the seeds with a large bag of birdseed, and poured the mixture into the feeder.

Springtime arrived. A new aqua marine wildflower no one had ever seen bloomed in the grassy fields around the cottage.

  It wasn’t long before William noticed the beautiful blossoms growing along the path to his mistress’s bedroom. William plucked an enormous bouquet and presented them to his lover. That night, Willian did not return home. On his second day missing, Dolores reported his absence to the Constables. Four days later, the postal delivery officer described a foul smell coming from his mistress’ hut. The patrolman found the two of them lying in each other’s arms. The Detectives believed it was a suicide pact between the two lovers. No one noticed the garland of Corn Cockle in the vase on the nightstand next to the bed. As sure as the grim ghost came from the east of Scotland, the birds ate the birdseed and deposited the seeds in the fields. Agrostemma Githago was the most poisonous wildflower in Scotland. Human contact with the stems, leave, or flowers would cause imminent death.

This is a month long journey with the A to Z challenge. Each day the letter is the prompt for my short stories themed: “Thirty Ways to Kill …”

And keep on the lookout for my upcoming novel – “Lifeblood of the Dragon.” Lifeblood is set in the seedy alleys of post-war Los Angeles. The morgue is full more often than not. Cameo appearances by the well known gangster Mickey Cohen and his goons.

many thanks to my editor: Leslie Moon aka Moondustwriter

Murder at Ping Fan #atozchallenge #fiction #M

On Monday, I checked the mailbox and to my surprise the thing I most coveted had arrived. During the Covid-19 pandemic, I had volunteered for an experimental procedure, a method to convert my body into a virus-proof machine. There were only two downsides that the doctors could think of:

First, there were no guarantees that it would protect me from the virus. I was okay with that. The second issue was also the most controversial. There was a certainty that the procedure would alter my DNA. This procedure was so radical it was going to reshuffle the helix of my DNA, making me hyper-resistant to any disease.  Dr. Wendel Fulbright was the master-mind; I would have to report to his lab in Lima, Peru. Where he could conduct the tests away from the prying eyes of the FDA or the AMA. 

The Doctor said there were going to be some notable changes in my body because of the procedure. First, I would appear to be younger by approximately fifteen years. Testing on lab animals (which is now what they are doing to me) showed that I was going to be healthier and younger. Even my fingerprints were going to change. It was like a snake molting an old skin.

Anticipating the procedure, I had a pint of blood removed from my body. It was put in a special vault (in Peru) so there was no way to lose or tamper with it. I had special plans for this liquid.

Next, I had to find the whereabouts of the man I abhorred more than any other, Dr. Ishii Shiro. Dr. Shiro was the Joseph Mengele of the Pacific Theater during World War Two. This monster murdered many prisoners of war including my father. I found out by searching through freedom of information documents that my father was a prisoner held by Shiro in Unit 731. This I discovered was the Japanese Bacterial Factory at a place called Ping Fan, Manchukuo.

On testimony from Japanese doctors, my father was exposed to bubonic plague. He was the subject of many experiments on Biological Weapons conducted at the camp. He was more than murdered; it’s as if he was pulled apart one strand of DNA at a time. All evidence of the lengthy atrocities was destroyed in the camp crematorium.

This is a month long journey with the A to Z challenge. Each day the letter is the prompt for my short stories themed: “Thirty Ways to Kill …”

And keep on the lookout for my upcoming novel – “Lifeblood of the Dragon.” Lifeblood is set in the seedy alleys of post-war Los Angeles. The morgue is full more often than not. Cameo appearances by the well known gangster Mickey Cohen and his goons.

Love or Eros – It all spells Death #kissofdeath #atozchallenge

My name is Lassiter, I’m a detective Sergeant for the LAPD. There’s no shortage of weird in Hollywood, California.  I’ve witnessed satanic, ritualistic killings and religious slayings of every type. This case happened on Valentine’s Day, 2014. The detectives that are familiar with the case call it: “The Death of the Kiss.”

The body was a Caucasian female with no I.D., naked, found dead in a Hollywood Cemetery on St. Valentine’s Day, amidst several statues of Cupid. The coroner identified superficial burns on the lips and pads of the fingertips.

“Do you think this is a body dump?”

“I’ve never seen marks like this. It will be interesting to find out how they were made.” The coroner said.

“Phone for you detective.” Someone called down the hall.

“Detective Lassiter?”

“Yes, how may I help you?”

“My name is Cardinal Shamus Murray. I may have some information about the death that happened last night.”

“You know where Norm’s is?”


“Good, I’ll see you there at two o’clock.”

I called the coroner to see how the identification was progressing.

“We still don’t know who she is. We didn’t find any tattoos, piercings or prints.”

“Any idea how she died?”

“All seems normal, other than that her heart was missing, we didn’t find anything that was conclusive. We’ll see what toxicology finds.”

“Missing? You mean like gone, without an incision. How’d that happen?”

“No clue.”

I met with Cardinal Murray.

“What I am about to tell you will be a little unsettling.”

“I’m in the unsettling business.” I had my pen and pad ready.

“Throughout history things like this have happened on St. Valentine’s Day.”

“You are saying this has happened before?

“I have studied several pieces of late Roman art that involves the God of desire: Eros, Amor or Cupid.”

“I hope you understand that we’re talking about a murder here, not a painting.”

“Let me explain. Psyche is the Greek word for soul.   In the 15th century, scholars found in the Cabala the theme of the mors osculi “The Death of the Kiss”, the final rapture in which the soul is united with the divine.”

“If I understand correctly, you’re telling me that a deity killed our victim?”

“Precisely, and they have been doing it for thousands of years. Leone Ebreo’s Dialoghi d’ Amore deals with the union and copulation with God. Historic records document the ecstatic union with the God, which was experienced by the neophyte, as an initiation unto death.”

“Who do you think she kissed?”

“Eros or Cupid comes to mind first.”

“Why radiation burns on the body?”

“There are volumes that I have examined at the Vatican and in Museum of Natural History in London. There are Bible quotations from Ecclesiastes and Isaiah that indicate your victim was kissed by an angel; the burns were caused by the extraction of her spirit. She gave her heart to god.”

“Do you have any information that may lead to her identity?”

“Unfortunately, no. But I will say that she has a very strong likeness of Athene, the Greek Goddess.”

I left the meeting with more questions than I came with.

The case is still marked ‘unsolved.’ We were never able to identify the victim or who her killer was. In my mind, the case was on the south side of strange.

This is a month long journey with the A to Z challenge. Each day the letter is the prompt for my short stories themed: “Thirty Ways to Kill …”

And keep on the lookout for my upcoming novel – “Lifeblood of the Dragon.” Lifeblood is set in the seedy alleys of post-war Los Angeles. The morgue is full more often than not. Cameo appearances by the well known gangster Mickey Cohen and his goons.

Jumper #atozchallenge #fiction

I was trying to take notes. I just finished writing S.P.I.T in my notebook.

“Does that happen often?”

“More frequently than it used to. We have a generation of the population who need a psychiatrist more than a band-aid. The clinics and hospitals over medicate for everything, then push them out-the-door. After a while, psychotropic drugs rot brain function. After taking that crap for most of their sorry lives, they abandon all hope. A large percentage of them end up committing suicide.”

Three beeps on the radio. I felt adrenalin shoot through my body.

“Sam-7, and any available unit that can back, a jumper on the roof of Craft & Fertig, break, the fire department is responding, your call is code-3.”

Wilke flipped on the overhead lights. The tires squealed in protest as we banged a Youie.

Wilkie snatched the microphone off the clip and in a calm voice “Roger dispatch, Sam-7… put me out code 6 on the call. Any description on the jumper?”

“Sam-7 roger, code-6 on the jumper,” Dispatch acknowledged. “No available description the RP is there now.”

Wilkie flipped on the siren and punched it. The surge from the big V-8 engine pushed me back in the seat. My heart was beating out of my chest.

“When you get to a jumper call always park your car on the corner of the next block. Walk across the street to the scene.”

“Why a block away?” I asked.

“You don’t want the jumper to land on the roof of your car. You’ll be here all night doing the reports. Besides, you want the ambulance, or the coroner’s van to be able to pull up and get close.”

“This isn’t your first rodeo.”

“You guessed it. My first was a two-hundred-and-forty-pound hype strung out nine days on meth. I was a rookie. The first unit was on scene. That fat son-of-a-bitch jumped off the hardware store roof and landed right through my windscreen. I damn near died of a heart attack. The jumper made a mess that not even Mr. Clean could handle.”

   We pulled up and jumped out of the patrol car. Walking towards the address, we monitored the pedestrians on the sidewalk.

  “Sometimes the jumper carry’s a gun, and if he loses his nerve, he might decide to commit ‘suicide by cop’,’ If you come charging into the scene, he might panic and start blasting. That’s why we get there quick, but move carefully.”

             We checked the facade looking for our jumper, ducked into the store to contact the reporting party.

  “Did anyone call the Sheriff?” Wiley asked.

  “It’s Fred again. I caught him huffing paint in the back. I tried to stop him, but he made it to the roof—”

     I heard a noise, like someone had dropped a bucket of water off the roof. I saw on the sidewalk that the bucket of water was wearing a dirty red wife beater and a tattered pair of coveralls.

  “Sam-7 to dispatch, please expedite coroner, he just jumped.”

 We charged out to the body. The jumper looked ruptured, bleeding out of every tare. The eyes had collapsed. Blood streamed out of his fractured skull. Before the paramedics arrived, he’d achieved release from his torment. The Paramedic brought out a blanket and covered the body. Bile rushed into my throat. I was going to die before I puked.  I was encircling the area with yellow crime scene tape, trying to keep the gawkers away when I saw it.

  An antique city ordinance sign with bold letters: “To spit on the sidewalk, is illegal, city ordnance 121a.”

I saw the Irony.

Digging Your Grave … #fiction #atozchallenge

Yasser Abd Ramallah sat in an exclusive lounge in London, drinking a double Scotch.

Ali Akbar Rashmi had made promises and alliances and was put in Ramallah’s seat on the board of OPEC.

“It may take some time, but as sure as the sun rises in the east, I will have my revenge.” Ramallah’s face registered rage.

Rashmi had financial backing but the relationships were fragile; he also had a fetish for German prostitutes, opium, and rare honey.

A Middle-Eastern man sat on a divan across from Ramallah.

“The National Cricket team looks good this year.” He got up to introduce himself.” I’m Khalil Rajoub.”

After four hours, Ramallah discovered Rajoub was a BBC journalist. They agreed to have dinner the next night.

During dinner, Rajoub made a telephone call.

“There’s someone I’d like you to meet.” A man called Mr. Barkstar greeted the two men. “Mr. Barkstar is a consultant who represents Brittan’s financial interests.”

“I remember you from Cambridge—.” Barkstar tried to form a common ground.

“Forgive me, Mr. Barkstar. If I am not mistaken, you are with intelligence services.”

“It is in the interests of Her Majesty’s government to have you involved with OPEC and the Oslo accords. Rashmi has strong ties with people with no scruples. I have amassed a dossier on our friend. Enough to blackmail him with.” Barkstar responded.

“If the Government of Saudi Arabia gets wind of this encounter, it will not bid well for me.”

“Tell me what you need, and it will be provided,” Kahlil gave him a card.

“I will get the list.” Ramallah said.

“Your cooperation with the Crown is appreciated.” Barkstar stated.

“Your offer is noted.”

The next week Kahlil flew to the Saricayir Valley, Turkey. Acting as a straw purchaser a shell company was formed

 The company proceeded to lease the Colca Canyon Mine in Peru. The reason given was for deep-space habitation. The mine was 10,730 feet below ground level.

A British engineering company developed a chamber that was temperate, humid, and pressure-controlled to match the mine shaft at Saricayir Valley. No one knew what Ramallah had planned…

Have a look at the bloggers with the A to Z challenge in April

In Your Eye #atozchallenge #flashfiction “E”

My name is Bertram Gallagher, my friends call me boring. I’m a biology nerd and I live in the Keys. Life isn’t great:  I’m confined to a wheelchair, my mother died of cancer when I was in high school and my sister drowned a few weeks later.

The police said it was an accident, the drowning I mean. Sis was messing around in a pool with her boyfriend, Roarke Banner.  Roarke pushed my sister hard enough to break her neck, never making an attempt to save her. He was too busy high-fiving his swim- team buddies. I could do nothing but watch her body float in the pool.

One of the things that I have obsessed about since that day was drowning Roark Banner. Like that’s going to happen in my lifetime. He’s an all-state champion in swimming, diving, and water polo. He was even being considered for a position on the Olympic Swim Team.  I mean, it’s not like I’m a member of SEAL Team six or anything.

 I still want payback no matter the obstacles.

In University, my major was Biology. I excelled in robotics and with my degree as a nurse practitioner have been on a team using robotics in brain injury surgeries. Though Roarke Banner is off my radar, I still dream of his drowning.

I started studying a worm named Spinohordodes tellinii, commonly known as the Hairworm. This bad boy’s aparasitic worm that goes at the host. Once inside, they begin to grow into adulthood. Things are pretty good for the Hairworm. As it matures, it needs to find a mate. So, it starts to release a protein that alters the host’s central nervous system. It’s able to convince the host to immerse itself in water. Thereby drowning the host.  The Hairworm then abandons the host, exits the body to find a mate. That night I lay awake, trying to figure out a way to get to Roark Banner.

The luckiest day of my life arrived in July. One of the nurses told me that my old school chum Roark Banner had injured his spine in a diving accident. I went to intensive care to see him. He was wearing a halo cage to immobilize his spine. He was scheduled for surgery over the next two months.  I went to the lab and removed a test-tube of microscopic larvae from the Hairworm. Judging by their tiny size, I estimated I purloined over seven million, parasitic larvae. My plan was simple: deliver the larvae to Roark’s brain.  The larvae would follow their genetic programming, destroying his brain in the process.

 How I was going to deliver a few million larvae into his brain without drilling a hole through his skull. The doctors tend to notice that kind of thing. The next day I was scheduled to assist in surgery where the patient had a damaged optic nerve. The surgeon removed the eye from the socket to relieve pressure on the optic nerve. I realized that I found a vector via the optic nerve that led directly to the brain and Roark’s end.

The next day, I came in to check on Roark. He was heavily sedated. I removed his left eye and irrigated his orbit with several million parasitic larvae, the whole time he watched. I replaced the eye, and I told him he was getting along nicely. I guaranteed him that he’d be back in the water soon.

Months later, he left the hospital. Over the fourth of July weekend, he went to the pool where he had taken my sis. He didn’t see what was happening until it was too late.

This post is part of a month long journey with the A to Z challenge. Each day the letter is the prompt for my short stories themed: “Thirty Ways to Kill or die …”

And keep on the lookout for my upcoming novel – “Lifeblood of the Dragon.” Lifeblood is set in the seedy alleys of post-war Los Angeles. The morgue is full more often than not. Cameo appearances by the well known gangster Mickey Cohen and his goons.

check out other great writers at the 2022 A to Z challenge