MICRO-FICTION







Sunday, September 11th, 2011 - 12:15PM


Guarded
By Peter O'Brien 

The other morning I was sitting in the diner around the corner from my job. I had just finished eating breakfast with a colleague of mine. He paid his check, took the rest of his bagel and left to prepare for a meeting we had that morning. I stayed behind to finish my coffee.

The light was soft in the crowded dining room. The ceiling lamps over the counter along the back of the room were turned up all the way. The rest of the dining room was lit with natural light spilling through the front windows. It was early morning and an overcast day at that, which made it darker than usual. Although the dining room was crowded and noisy, it was still too early to be considered loud. 

I had my head down, taking notes for the meeting. It wasn’t until I went to finish my last sip of coffee that I noticed everyone staring at me. Actually they were just staring in my direction. I was sitting with my back to the front window. All of a sudden my table was darkened by a shadow, blocking the meager morning light. I turned to look just in time to see a man open his mouth and coat the window with vomit. The thin yellow film flooded down the glass blocking everything beyond it. Suddenly a clear path cut through the cloudy window. The man had apparently fainted and slid down the glass head first in his own vomit.


Copyright © 2011 Peter O'Brien

(Previously Unpublished)


Sunday, May 29th, 2011 - 7:50PM
Pre-Masculine Syndrome 
By Peter O'Brien 


It started out as a tickle that turned into a drip. Jake thought it was just his allergies acting up again. He gave a hard sniff and the warm liquid was sucked back. As it passed the back of his tongue he tasted it: iron. While he tried to place the taste another line ran down the inside of his nose and collected around the rim of his nostril. It tickled and instinctively he wiped it with his right index finger. When he pulled his hand away a bloody streak was going from his knuckle to his wrist. Jake looked in horror as another line ran down his other nostril.

He scrambled for a tissue, but only found a napkin left over from lunch. Jake covered his nose, feeling the warmth of his breath and blood trapped inside. Within seconds the balled up tissue had soaked through to his fingertips. He threw the napkin away and fumbled for another one, holding his hand under his nose to catch any dripping blood.

Now his nose was leaking like a faucet. He began to feel congested and thought the blood may be coagulating, but it continued to flow. Jake unfolded the tissue, preparing to blow his nose. His fingers, nostrils and lips were all covered with blood. He took a deep breath and forced it out through his nose. At first the air just sprinkled drops of blood, then he caught it. Inside the tissue was a pink, wrinkled piece of flesh.


Copyright © 2011 Peter O'Brien

(Previously Unpublished)


Sunday, May 22nd, 2011 - 12:30PM
Hot Tub 
By Peter O'Brien 

She checked in with only one thing on her mind: a hot shower. It had been a long ride and tomorrow would be more of the same. Fourteen hours in a car without air conditioning isn’t so bad with the windows rolled down. Still, she felt like she had been coated with a light mist of glue. Everything was sticking to her skin and all she wanted was to melt it off.


She had passed several sketchy looking motels in her last hour on the road. No cars, no lights, no people. Finally she saw one that looked inviting. As she rolled through the crowded parking lot she heard the sounds of people coming from inside the rooms. Fifteen minutes later she was in her own room with the television on, stripping in the bathroom.


The water hit her with a cold shock, but warmed up quickly. The pressure felt good on her back, like being sprayed with a hose. She reached behind her to massage some of the tension out of her muscles, but felt something clumping on her back. She brought her hand around to see a white clumpy tissue resting across her fingers. She flicked her wrist, sending the tissue down into the tub. The rest of her skin was turning red and beginning to peel. Now, the water was too hot on her tender skin. She ran for the door, but it was bolted shut. She passed out, screaming, as the condensation ate away her flesh.


Copyright © 2011 Peter O'Brien


(Previously Unpublished)


Sunday, May 15th, 2011 - 3:50PM
Brain Dead 



By Peter O’Brien 


I’ve always had my suspicions that something was wrong with my boss. Well, maybe wrong isn’t the right word, but there was definitely something off. After nine months of seeing him day after day it wasn’t until today that my suspicions were confirmed. I was on my way to lunch when he stopped me in the hallway. “Greg, you got a minute?” he asked. He has always been very polite, in a passive aggressive sort of way, and occasionally quite funny.

“Sure, what’s going on?”

We stepped to the side of the hall so the office traffic could continue. He began speaking to me about contributing to some kind of report for the corporate office. He always spoke with a smile, even when he was listening. It was intended to give the sense that everything was okay, but usually made the situation awkward.

Three sentences into his request I got distracted. A small black object fell down from his head, landed on his collar and then fell down his shirt. At first I thought nothing of it and tried to go back to the conversation, but then it happened again, only this time the speck crawled up his collar before continuing down his shirt. Reading the look of concern on my face he reached up to rub his earlobe. As his head turned I saw a cluster of tiny insects just outside his ear canal. About a dozen more fell down his shirt, the rest retreated back into his ear.


Copyright © 2011 Peter O'Brien

(Previously Unpublished)


Sunday, May 8th, 2011 - 12:25PM
Happy Mother’s Day 
By Peter O'Brien 


The sky was blue, the birds were chirping and the breeze was blowing. It was the beginning of a perfect day. It was wonderful weather to go for a walk, which was already on the agenda, but first, breakfast.

Margaret had awoken before anyone else, as usual, and made her way to the kitchen. Within minutes the curtains were open, filling the house with pure, natural light that reflected off every wall. She had called down to her son who had promised to go to the bakery for fresh rolls that morning. There was no response. After setting up the coffee pot she descended the stairs to his apartment.

There was nobody in the room, but his blinds and windows were wide open. She figured he must have left already.

Upstairs the aroma of coffee was filling the house. Margaret went to the cabinet to get mugs, but there were none on the shelf. She looked down at the dishwasher and saw that the light was on, indicating that the cycle was done. She hadn’t remembered putting on last night.

She lifted the latch to open the door. It was only open a crack when a pungent odor of rot and freshness crept out from the machine. The dishwasher door fell open all the way. Chunky liquid and utensils spilled out of the machine onto the floor. Through the steam that was escaping she could see the figure of a body sitting on the dish rack. It was her son.


Copyright © 2011 Peter O'Brien
(Except for image: Copyright © 2010 Zabberwocky)


(Previously Unpublished)



Sunday, May 1st, 2011 - 12:21PM
Just Deserts 
By Peter O'Brien 


Everything was prepared to perfection. The courses were lined up and ready to serve. There would be no delay between them. The salad came first and was the coldest of all the dishes. Everything else had varying degrees of seasoning that would disguise the symptoms until it was too late. She laid the first plate in front of him and watched patiently as he ate.

When dinner was done she cleared the table, put on her gloves, and began to scrub. The oil was still lining the bowl. She rinsed it, always careful not to spill it. Once everything was clean she removed her gloves and dropped them in the trash.

She sat across from him in the living room waiting for the reaction. Gradually she could see his discomfort begin to grow.

“Hon,” he said, “could you fix me a cup of tea?”

She smiled at the request, thinking he would never ask.

After the first sip he turned to her and asked, “Was there something different in the meal tonight?”

“I tried something new,” she said.

“With the seasoning,” he asked after another sip.

“No, with the salad.”

“I thought there was something different. What was it?”

“Urushiol,” she said plainly.

“Why does that sound familiar?”

“It’s the oil that coats poison ivy.”

He stared at her in shock and disbelief.

“I hear you’re not supposed to put hot water on it because it opens the pores and helps with absorption.”

The cup fell out of his hand and tea began to soak into the carpet.

“Don’t worry dear, I’ll clean it.”


Copyright © 2011 Peter O'Brien

(Previously Unpublished)


Sunday, April 24th, 2011 - 1:38PM







Prey 
By Peter O'Brien 


The church was quiet and virtually empty except for a lone figure sitting on the front pew. His hands were clasped together resting across his lap. The tension was so hard that his wrists began to shake. Tears from his hanging head splashed on his right knuckle and ran down the back of his hand. He was fighting the urge to cry, to scream, to lash out when the sound of approaching footsteps began to echo through the hall. He looked over his shoulder to see a young blonde walking up the aisle. She couldn’t have been more than twenty-five years old.

She sat on the opposite side of the aisle near the middle of the church. As she did they made eye contact. She smiled at him and he at her. There was an instant connection. He turned his head back around and the tension in his hands eased and relaxed. After a moment the footsteps began again, they were getting closer.

“Excuse me, Father,” she said. “I saw your collar when you turned. I was wondering if I could have a confession.”

“My child, you can always count on forgiveness here. I’ll be with you in a moment.”

She turned and walked towards the booths off to the side. Once her door was closed he stood, looked at the altar, and smiled. Reaching into his pockets he took out a small rag and doused it with some fresh chloroform, then entered the same booth as the young lady.


Copyright © 2011 Peter O'Brien

(Previously Unpublished)


Sunday, April 17th, 2011 - 1:20PM
Closing the Book 







By Peter O'Brien 


The last chapter is written and I’m standing before it. One by one the people who have contributed to the story go up to put periods at the end of their final sentences. None of them seem ready, but they do their best to keep it short and to the point. A final summation of events in an epilogue held for the sake of closure by and for those who cared about the main character.

When it’s my turn I go up quietly. I am at the end of the line. I have the burden of eternity staring me in the face, for I know that when I’m done this story is really over. A part of me considers staying here forever, but I know that is impossible. Instead of the end I think about the beginning. Although I missed the first chapter there hasn’t been one since that I didn’t contribute to in some way.

Everyday there was a new page and I made it onto most of them. It’s one hell of a narrative that no one will ever completely know. Only fragments will live on, but in the end that’s all anyone cares about anyway. They don’t need a day by day or play by play, just the highlights.

The cover is closed now and I get a quick flash of all the adventures that will never happen. My best friend is dead and they’re just going to file him away like a book on a shelf.


Copyright © 2011 Peter O'Brien

(Previously Unpublished)


Sunday, April 10th, 2011 - 12:30PM









Ace in the Hole
By Peter O'Brien



She thought she had an ace in the hole. Something that would stop anyone in their tracks. A self-defense instructor had told her if she couldn’t defend against an attacker physically then she should just try to enjoy it. That was when she came up with her bluff. If she couldn’t defeat them physically, she’d do it intellectually.

Now, as she was pinned to the ground, gravel scraping the small of her back, she fought to recall what it was she had planned for this unfortunate incident. Nobody ever plans to find them self in this kind of position. The first thing she had to be overcome were her instincts: fighting, resisting, screaming, panicking. These reactions only made it worse. The deranged brute on top of her had only two goals, and the second one was to not get caught. Five times he brought his hand across her face before driving it into her stomach taking all of the wind and fight out of her.

In that moment of clarity she remembered what it was she would tell him. The man pulled down her jeans. The moonlight was reflecting off the blood flowing down her forehead and lips. He rolled her over, straddling her constricted legs and pinning her arms to the ground. “Wait,” she said, “I have AIDS.”

The man paused for a moment as she repeated the words with each accelerated breath. He leaned down to her ear and in a cold, toneless voice responded, “So do I.”


Copyright © 2011 Peter O'Brien

(Previously Unpublished)


Sunday, April 3rd, 2011 - 1:38PM










Ruptured
By Peter O'Brien 


Davy was riding his bike home from his friend’s house. They had just finished an exhausting game of tag and it was closing in on dinnertime. He was halfway home when he noticed something at the end of someone’s lawn causing the grass to move. It looked like a hose that was backed up with water. He skidded to a halt and dropped his bike in the middle of the road.

Across the street was an undeveloped plot of land. Davy walked over and picked up some rocks. He started to throw them at the rumbling black and green hose. One direct hit caused the hose to rupture; only instead of water something else came pouring out. Hundreds of snakes in all different sizes spilled out into the street. Davy’s eyes widened and he froze in shock, until the snakes started coming towards him. He ran to his bike that was lying in the middle of the street.

The snakes were already at his back tire when he began to pedal back to his friend’s house. He glanced over his shoulder and saw a wavy sea of serpents flowing down the street. He followed the trail all the way to his back tire where smaller snakes were trying to strike at his feet. When he got to his friend’s house Davy was out of breath. He fell off his bike and dragged himself down the driveway. His legs were covered in bloody little cuts but there was nothing behind him.


Copyright © 2011 Peter O'Brien

(Previously Unpublished)




Sunday, March 27th, 2011 - 1:20PM











Filling
By Peter O'Brien 


Dillon had spotted it from the bus window on their way to school that morning. Joey had turned just in time to see it. A debate had erupted about its contents during recess and continued into lunch. The only thing that they resolved was to not let anyone else know about it. It was their secret treasure. The boys got off the bus at the first stop and raced back to its location.

The box was lying on the grass by the side of the road. It was an old wooden crate, which is what made it so appealing. Even if it was empty they could find a use for it. The wood was blackened all around the outside, as though it had been burned. White goo was seeping out of the bottom into the wet grass. The boys kneeled down to get a closer look when they caught the sweet scent. Dillon swiped his finger in the goo and tasted it. “Marshmallows,” he exclaimed.

They wasted no time breaking open the crate. Inside they found one gigantic marshmallow that had been melted together from several smaller ones. Both boys dug right in, shoveling gooey goodness into their mouths. Dillon noticed it first. A long blond hair was leading from Joey’s mouth to the center of the container where the white mallow was beginning to turn pink. He pulled the strand from Joey’s mouth and the head of a small girl came out from the center of the melted mallow.


Copyright © 2011 Peter O'Brien

(Previously Unpublished)


Sunday, March 20th, 2011 - 1:25PM











Road Hazards
By Peter O'Brien


It was getting dark and Jennings had just gotten off the highway and was driving home. As he approached the corner, a car in the opposite lane seized the opportunity and turned left, cutting Jennings off. His tires screeched to a halt and before he could smell the burnt rubber the other car was gone.

Jennings paused for a second and looked behind him. He had come to a complete stop in the middle of the road. Without hesitating he flipped his right turn signal on and began to follow the car. The driver was oblivious to Jennings pursuit. He followed closely and saw a silhouette of a baseball cap with a hand held to the right ear and knew that it was a guy on his cell phone.

Jennings followed him right into his driveway. The man remained in his car for a moment, looking in his rearview mirror. He raised his hands in a questioning manner.

Jennings reached to his backseat before getting out of his truck. Once his door opened he moved quickly. The driver began to get out of his car but before he could stand up Jennings had buried the pointed end of a fire axe into his chest. The man fell back into his car and free from the axe. Jennings tucked the man’s body neatly into his car and switched on the man’s hazards with the handle of the axe. He closed the door and then got in his truck and drove home.


Copyright © 2011 Peter O'Brien

(Previously Unpublished)


Sunday, March 13th, 2011 - 4:30PM











The Leg end of Sam 
By Peter O'Brien


The sun was exceptionally hot that day, but with rain scheduled for the next three to four days Sam didn’t have a choice, he had to mow the lawn. The air was heavy with humidity as he pushed the twin blade engine along the length of his property. His cut ran vertical from the street to his house and at each end he would pivot the mower and add another stripe. The monotony of the act combined with the drowning roar of the engines put Sam into a reflective trance while he walked back and forth along his property.

Pivot. Memories of cutting his parents lawn when he was a young man came floating back to his mind. It was an act he didn’t miss for the twenty years his own children earned their keep. Now he relished the act, anything to get out of the house echoing voices of the past. Pivot.

The wife he used to have, the children who used to laugh, relationships that used to grow. The only thing that grew now was the grass, and that too had to be cut short. There was always work to be done, no matter what the situation, that was never his problem. Pivot. Squash. As Sam turned at the edge of his lawn an SUV came racing down the street crushing the back of his right ankle. Had he not been pushing the lawn mower forward the truck would have hit him straight on, cutting his life short.


Copyright © 2011 Peter O'Brien

(Previously Unpublished)



Sunday, March 6th, 2011 - 7:04PM

Splash Guard 
By Peter O'Brien

It wasn’t until he began to move that Ricky felt particularly sick. The doorway he had slept in the previous evening had shielded him from the elements, but there was no boundary to blockade the noise of the morning. Five feet from where he sat, huddled in a fetal ball of grimy flesh and smelly rags, pedestrians were filling the sidewalk on their way to work, or school, or breakfast meetings. Around the corner from where he sat was a diner.

Just before he got up a young man in a suit came out of the diner. As he passed Ricky the young man looked down and dropped a half eaten cream cheese bagel next to him. The young man didn’t look down, or back, he just kept on moving. Ricky watched as he disappeared down street and then picked up the bagel. He took a few bites as he slid his back up the brick wall.

Once he stepped onto the sidewalk a gust of cold air blew through Ricky’s coat, chilling his torso. Quickly, he pulled his coat closed, but his body wasn’t prepared for that kind of shock. Without warning Ricky turned and vomited chunky yellow bile all over the front window of the diner. It sprayed out like a fire hose and ran down the glass, coating it in a cloudy film. Inside, the horrified patrons stared at the window as a stringy black mop slid down the middle of the mess and then suddenly vanished.


Copyright © 2011 Peter O'Brien

(Previously Unpublished)


Sunday, February 27, 2011 - 1:45PM











Crude Awakening
By Peter O'Brien


The back of his throat had been itching him all night. He did his best to ignore it but when the morning came his stomach began to ache, too. The last thing Ben needed was to get sick. He sat up and felt something slide down the back of his throat. As he stood up the pain in his stomach began to stab him. He was freezing and only wanted to wrap himself in his blankets. Feeling another wad of mucus dislodging he raced to the bathroom.

Without looking Ben coughed the wad into his mouth and spit it into the running water. On top of the toilet was a box of tissues. He grabbed one and cleaned out his nose, two clear blows through each nostril. The itch had already left his throat and he was feeling much better. As he pulled the tissue away from his face Ben noticed something dark inside the white wrapper. Upon closer inspection he saw that it had legs. Quickly he turned on the light and examined his tissue. A brown and red house spider, coated in white strands of mucus, was curled up inside.

Suddenly his stomach pain came stabbing back. He dropped the tissue on the counter and lifted the lid of the toilet, pulling down his underpants with his free hand. He felt a quick release followed by the sound of several small splashes. Peeking between his legs, Ben saw a cluster of spiders floating around a giant webbed cocoon.


Copyright © 2011 Peter O'Brien

(Previously Unpublished)



Sunday, February 20, 2011 - 4:30PM

Blanket of Innocence 
By Peter O'Brien 

At first glance there appears to be nothing out there. Just a white blanket lying across the landscape, stretching out as far as the eye can see. In the distance natural boundaries create a boarder on the edge of humanity. A ring of trees circles the area like a stockade fence as mountains loom over the top of them like a waves about to break. Anyone would have to come at least this far to even have a clue.

In the sky darkening clouds begin to billow. Suddenly thousands of cotton balls are gravitating towards the earth, adding another layer to the great white blanket. The blowing wind fills in all the tracks, erasing any trace of disturbance. The field looks like a smooth sheet covering some fantastic surprise. Nature has provided one of the largest canvases for the imagination to fill. Inspiration would fill anyone who passes it. Yet nothing could be as vivid as the truth lying beneath it.

When winter warms to spring the thaw will wash away any remaining evidence into the softening soil. Before long the critters, hungry from hibernation, will come to feed. The returning growth of the field will wind through the rest, pulling the remains deeper into the earth. In the end they will lay in a mattress of dead grass waiting for another blanket of snow to cover them up. What can’t be seen can’t be told, and what can’t be told can’t be believed, so I believe I am innocent.


Copyright © 2011 Peter O'Brien

(Previously Unpublished)



Sunday, February 13, 2011 - 12:30PM











Goodnight Kiss 
By Peter O’Brien


She had the most beautiful smile I had ever seen. Her lips were so full and inviting, as though they could speak without moving. I would often imagine what it would feel like to press against them, warm, moist, soft. Everyday I would watch her: talking, laughing, smiling; and every night I would dream about her: kissing, licking, and nibbling her lips. They were calling to me, whether she knew it or not.

One day I finally had enough. The torment was too much to handle. I wanted those lips. I followed her home, intent on laying my cards on the table. I must have rehearsed the scene in my head a hundred times, planning what I would say and choreographing my actions so as not to alarm her. I caught up to her just before she opened the front door to her house. “Excuse me,” I said from the moonlit walkway. She turned to face me and there was that smile, inviting me up the stairs.

That evening I no longer had to dream. I lied in my bed with my head resting on a pillow of contentment. She had given me what I wanted and every night from then on would be just as satisfying. I reached under my pillow to the ice filled bag. They were no longer as warm as I imagined, but just as soft. I pressed them against my lips as I have every night since. “Goodnight,” I say, and put them back away.


Copyright © 2011 Peter O'Brien

(Previously Unpublished)



Sunday, February 6, 2011 - 1:50PM

The Lost Child 
By Peter O'Brien 

I finally decided to go for a walk. My wife insisted that the fresh air would do me good. It was an average fall day, which made it seem all the more appropriate. The leaves covered the cold ground like a blanket. The vibrant colors cloaked the landscape from its seasonal grimness. For three hours I walked up and down the same streets I’d explored by myself as a child. There was nothing but isolated memories of familiarity everywhere I turned. Ultimately I wound up at the playground of my elementary school.

The sky was full of grey clouds, some darker than others. I made my way over to the swings that I had learned to enjoy on my own. There was no one to push me around then either. I sat on my favorite one, third in from the left, facing the baseball diamond. There was a parent and child playing a game of Wiffle ball. He was teaching the boy how to bat. This was another thing I never experienced growing up and now never will.

When I got home from the playground my wife told me that my mother had just called. She wanted to know if Thursday would be good for me. All at once everything that had just been thoughts that afternoon suddenly became real. I clutched my wife who froze stiff, like a fire pole. At that point I slid down, dropping to my knees, and cried like the lost child I’ve always been.


Copyright © 2009 Peter O'Brien

(Previously Unpublished)


Sunday, January 30, 2011 - 2:25PM











The Cool Night Air 
By Peter O’Brien 


The woods were cold that night. I stood with my ankles covered in wet leaves. The blazing fire quickly spreading throughout the cabin. Sparks shot out of the windows like fireworks into the nearby trees. I stood there watching; listening to the cracking of splitting wood.

I had begun the blaze on the back porch. It was dark back there, so nobody would see me approach. They kept the firewood stockpile on the enclosed porch. I squirted lighter fluid through the tiny holes of the surrounding screen. This caused the flammable liquid to spray in all directions; like a child’s sprinkler, covering more ground.

The sulfur scent shot up my nose, temporarily over powering everything. The fluid instantly ignited, tearing through the screen like old fabric. I lit the rest of the pack and threw it through the hole, igniting the stack of firewood. The fluid had sprayed all over and collected on the little carpet they had by the door.

As I watched from the front yard I heard screams coming from inside. Screams that sounded like they didn’t know why they were screaming but soon found out. Just as quick the screams stopped, outdone by the breaking windows. One person threw them self out of the upstairs window, taking in more oxygen fuel as it broke. The body, completely roasted, fell at the front door. The cool night air carried the scent of leaves, flesh, and lighter fluid. I turned up the long, dark driveway, never looking back.


Copyright © 2009 Peter O'Brien

(Previously Unpublished)


Sunday, January 23, 2011 - 2:45PM











Crawl Space
By Peter O'Brien

Aaron had to clean out the space under the stairs. It was time to rotate the inventory of his life and start making room for his not yet expendable belongings. He was planning a big yard sale at the end of the month and began sorting, organizing and tagging items over the last three weeks. He began in the attic and worked his way through the top floor and was now in the basement. Aaron was in purge mode and his house was getting a certified colonic treatment.

The attic was his biggest challenge and greatest accomplishment. He had to unload the entire thing by himself while balancing on the unsecured boards that made up the floor and watching he didn’t knock his head on the beams and nails from the roof. The only items that remained were the Christmas ornaments and his train set from his childhood.

In the basement Aaron was sliding boxes out from under the stairs. He slid them to the door and then pushed them out like a train of cardboard cars. When he moved the last box a house centipede became startled and charged towards him. Its many legs and antenna fluctuating in rapid motion caught Aaron off guard. He stood up with out thinking and punctured his skull on a stray nail coming through the floorboards. Dazed, he fell to his knees and began to crawl towards the door but because of the boxes there was not enough space for him to escape.


Copyright © 2009 Peter O'Brien

(Previously Unpublished)



Sunday, January 16, 2011 - 3:18PM











Fluid Writing
By Peter O'Brien


Franklin had decided the only way to get anything done was by eliminating the distractions of his daily life. No more television, video games, telephone, or family and friends bothering him. He would spend every morning in the library, and that would be his job. He would take his notebooks and laptop with him, but that was it. He wouldn’t even accept their Internet connection.

The first morning he tried this plan he was met with a great feeling of accomplishment. He woke up early, ate breakfast, took a shower, packed up his material and gotten to the library just minutes after they opened. After a few scouting loops he settled on a table near an electrical socket. There was a heads up penny resting there and he took it as a sign for good luck. He unpacked his belongings and set to work for the day. In no time he was clicking away on his keyboard, building what he hoped would be a novel.

By noon he had become restless. The hours of swallowing his saliva had finally filled his bladder. Reluctant to pack up and use the toilet he reached for his water bottle, drank the remaining ounces, and slipped it under his table to relieve himself. He didn’t realize how loud the act would be because he had been wearing his headphones all morning and thought the music would drown out the sound of him draining himself. That was the last day Franklin spent in the library.


Copyright © 2009 Peter O'Brien

(Previously Unpublished)


Sunday, January 9, 2011 - 1:23PM











Trick or Treat
By Peter O'Brien


I love this time of year. Sure, it’s cold, and only getting colder. But there’s a warm feeling that awakens inside of me during this time of year. I think it comes from my childhood and the thrill of all the festivities involved. You can’t compare it to Christmas, because Christmas is so devoutly biased. At least on Halloween everybody gets candy.

The blind generosity of our culture, when it comes to Halloween, can’t be beat. Sure there are some folks who don’t answer their door, but people usually follow suit. That’s how I’ve been able to survive part of my adult life on the streets. Obviously I can’t go a whole year on one day’s collection, but it certainly does help.

Eventually people stopped buying the adult hobo costume and began refusing me my share. Then one year, nobody shared at all. Its ironic, people in this country will feed wealthy children things to make them lazy adults, but just as soon feed diseased vermin than a lazy adult. It was that night I discovered a much easier method of collection.

I was on my way across town, when I heard them coming, two children, no more than ten years old. I reached into my sack; they must have thought I was a neighborhood adult. They stopped and said, “Trick or Treat.” I removed my hand and said “Trick,” bringing the hammer down, claw end first, into each of their skulls. From that night on treats never tasted sweeter.


Copyright © 2007 Peter O'Brien

(Originally appeared in In Foot We Trust - Literary Blog 2008)


Sunday, January 2, 2011 - 3:30PM











"Think about it."
By Peter O'Brien


Douglas was walking back to his apartment after Psychohistory class on Tuesday evening. It was still early in the fall semester and the sun had not yet set. Along the way he passed by a group of, what he deemed to be, several unsavory characters. They were boasting, out loud, about their immoral, degenerate behavior. These were typical background conversations to overhear on his campus. As Douglas passed by he made every effort to mask his contempt for them.

That night Douglas was sitting in front of his computer. He had just finished typing up something and it was now working its way out of his printer. In the meantime, Douglas reached down to the bottom draw of his desk and opened it. He removed a box of hand gun bullets and opened it. As the piece of paper finished printing he reached over to the printer and removed that as well.

The next morning, as Douglas was walking towards his class, he crossed paths with two of the loud mouth characters from the previous day. As he approached, Douglas reached into the pocket of his coat, and as they drew near he removed his hand. When the two were within three feet of Douglas he extended his hand and flicked a single bullet at each of them with his thumb. Startled, they caught the bullets as Douglas kept on walking. Taped along the side of each bullet was a tiny piece of paper which only read “Think about it.”


Copyright © 2007 Peter O'Brien

(Originally appeared in Crossing the Line: A Square World Anthology - Purchase College 2008)