Monday, August 28, 2006

Screaming Through The Night

The Michigan Horror Writers group, which is a splinter from the now defunct Michigan chapter of Horror Writers of America (the people who give us the Bram Stoker awards) meets once a month in a Knights of Columbus house on Dequinder by Twelve Mile. Of course those of you outside Michigan will shrug and say "So?"

I mention this group here for those people who may be is the link for their site:

If you live anywhere in the Detroit Metro area and have an interest in things horrific, you might want to drop by for the Halloween party being planned, which will begin with a community scavenger hunt. I'll post more on that later.

To be honest, I sort of steer clear of most of the social functions and fundraising activities the group puts together, and instead I focus on the writing activites. It is, after all, a writers' group.

Sunday, August 27, 2006


House of Sternberg

I don't write flash fiction. I find it too restrictive and for the most part, few markets want anything under a thousand words. Most of the flash fiction I write is done out of boredom, mostly as a limbering exercise before the real writing begins.

Still, that doesn't mean that there isn't a place for extremely short work and perhaps we should drop the phrase "flash fiction" here and now and adopt the old term "short shorts". The master of that form was, of course, Frederick Brown. Still, I've read shorts by Bradbury, Asimov, and even H.P. Lovecraft. Maybe some of the shorts are over a thousand words, but not by much.

Anyway, below is another of my "short shorts". Under five hundred words.

DARK HORSE by stewart sternberg

"Are you ready to live up to your part of the bargain?"

The voice took the newly elected President of the United States by surprise. He sucked in his breath and slowly turned around. Eyes red-rimmed, mouth a pale line of concern, he studied the visitor from a lawyer’s perspective.

"I didn't think to see you so soon," said the President. "I've only been sworn in for forty-eight hours."

"I'm sorry," Satan said with a self-conscious grin.

The Devil looked around the oval office and made some appreciative sounds with tongue against his cheek. "You may find this hard to believe, but you’re my first president, at least of the United States.”
The Chief Executive raised an eyebrow and scoffed.
“Oh, I've had tons of elected officials,” said Satan. “I’ve had clergy by the gross, and so many CEO's that I quite frankly had to stop dealing in them. But you...I don't know why I waited so long."

The president's shoulders sagged in shame. Satan shook his head and leaned forward. When he spoke again, his voice was as soothing as money. "Now, now, let's try and cheer up. You're making me feel bad, and this is a time when we should both be celebrating. Heavens, it could be worse, the independents could have won. Think of the gridlock."

The president experienced a fleeting moment of courage, something rare for a man so skilled at politics. It took him a second to recognize it.

"What if I won't do what you ask?" he said.

Satan studied him and then shook his head. "Oh, you'll live up to the bargain. I've had enough sense to take out an insurance policy. The Vice President would look very nice behind that desk."

The President tried to summon a rejoinder, but only sputtered.

Satan looked disappointed. "Now, let's finish this."

The president nodded gravely and turned to the piece of paper he knew he would find waiting for him on his desk. He read through it twice, sadly unable to find any loopholes, and reluctantly scribbled his name at the bottom. Satan immediately snatched the document and read it through with delight.

"I can't tell you how good this feels," cried Satan, real tears squeezing from the corners of his eyes.
"That piece of paper won't do you any good," said the President. "A Presidential Pardon is only good inside the boundaries of the United States."

Satan grinned. "Perhaps, but it's a start, Mr. President. Let's hope it's the beginning of a trend."

Friday, August 25, 2006

House of Sternberg: HOUSE OF STERNBERG

House of Sternberg: HOUSE OF STERNBERG

This assignment was given at a writer’s group. Working with six to seven words having to do with the sea and sailing, we were then given fifteen minutes to use those words in something that nothing to do with the sea and sailing.

ROADKILL by stewart sternberg

At seventy five miles per hour his mind drifted and he imagined the weight of a parrot on his shoulder. He automatically ruddered from one lane to the other and clapped a hand over one eye.

"Are ye mad?" he asked out loud, yanking his mouth up on one side and growling. "Harr, harr."

At ninety miles per hour the parrot answered him. "Where ye be goin’ thar, Jack?"

Jack looked ahead at the pavement, rising and falling like waves. The question took away the fun and the weight of the parrot on his shoulder became the weight of despair. It crested.

He was crying now, imagining the lightness of his passing. He blocked out the truth; it didn’t count anymore. Nothing outside this car mattered.

At one hundred miles per hour a police car dropped in behind him.

"We’re about to be boarded!" he yelled raucously.

"Where are ye going, Jack?" asked the parrot.

"There," he cried. "There’s me treasure and X marks the spot."

Saying that, he sharply spun the wheel and turned into the concrete divider.

Thursday, August 24, 2006


Writer, Editor, Proof-reader, Educator, and overall mench.

Stewart Sternberg is a Michigan author currently marketing three novels and several short stories. Married and a resident of the small town of Algonac he moves through life trying to live a simple and productive existence.

"I once sat on a porch and looked down the hill toward Lake Huron. It was one of those lazy summer nights and the fireflies flitted about. It occured to me how once those fireflies were taken by the imagination of others and confused with faeries. I realized I saw only fireflies and at that moment made a decision to rediscover the wonder that keeps us childlike without being childish. I decided to reach into my spirit and to search for faeries and the magick that makes warm summer nights and crisp autumn days so special.