Wednesday, December 25, 2013

When the Shadow Comes

By Chris Milam

Lily crawled into bed, her bare feet and princess pajamas slid under her Barbie adorned blanket. She was stuck in perpetual childhood, an eleven-year old girl in a six-year old mind.   She loved toys too, especially her beloved purple stuffed unicorn.   She grabbed Annie, and pulled the toy in close, resting the plush animal against her soft cheek.

 “Annie, do you remember when mommy took us to the zoo for my eighth birthday?” Lily asked.

 “Of course I do, Lily,” Annie said “You loved the zebras, you said they looked like a horse newspaper.   Your mom laughed so hard I thought she was going to fall down.    That was one of my favorite days.”

 “Mine too,” said Lily “Or the time I scraped my elbow playing hopscotch on the sidewalk.   Do you remember that, Annie?”

 “Yes.  Your mom put a Dora The Explorer band-aid on the cut and kissed it and everything felt better again.  I won’t ever forget our adventures together.”

When the shadow appeared under her bedroom door, darkness hovering over the crack of light, Lily pulled her blanket up to her chin. The knuckles of her fragile hands whitened as she gripped the edge of the pink cover.

 “OK, Lily, it’s time for us to play our game.  What’s your favorite color?” Annie asked.

 “Purple” Lily said, barely above a whisper.

 “That’s such a pretty color.  It’s the same color as me, so I love purple too.  What’s your favorite vegetable?"


 “Mine too” said Annie.  “This is fun Lily.  What about your favorite cartoon? I know you can answer this one, it’s so easy.”

 “I don’t want to play anymore, Annie,” Lily said, her eyes staring at the ceiling.

 “Just for a few more minutes, OK?   Everything will be fine soon, let’s just play a little longer.”

The door knob turned softly and the shadow entered the room, shutting the door gently.

“What’s your favorite candy?” pleaded the purple unicorn.

 Lily continued to stare at the ceiling, thoughts of her mom flooding her mind.

 “Come on Lily, you can do this.  Is your favorite candy Smarties or Lemon Drops, I can’t remember.”

The shadow walked quietly over to the bed and grabbed Annie by her silver horn and tossed her onto the ground.

 Lily glanced at the shadow and quickly looked away, tears leaking down her pale cheeks. She saw Annie upturned on the floor, the unicorns plastic eyes staring back at her.

“Gummy Bears,” Lily whispered to her friend.

“Gummy Bears and zebras are the best things in world.”

 “See, I knew you could do it, Lily” said Annie.  “Just keeping looking at me and remember that day at the zoo, OK?”

 Lily nodded her head.  “I love you, Annie.”

 “I love you more, Lily” Annie said. “Now, can you tell me what your favorite book is?  Can you do that for me?”

 Lily went silent.   Her eyes clamped shut.   She didn’t want to play anymore.

Copyright ©2013 Chris Milam.  All rights reserved.  Do not reproduce in any form, including electronic, without the author’s express permission.



Chris Milam currently resides in Hamilton, Ohio. He enjoys writing, rooting for the Washington Nationals and he reads anything he can get his hands on. He believes everybody has a story in them that needs to be told.

Friday, November 15, 2013

**Peter Baltensperger's Far From the Leaking Stars was published on the Pink Litter site

Peter Baltensperger, whose Nocturnal Tableaux* graced this site in October 2012, has had another microstory published: Far From the Leaking Stars, on the Pink Litter site.

Stars details, in sensory-intense fashion, a woman's sexual restlessness while riding on a train with her sleeping lover.  Fans of Baltensperger's previous works won't want to miss his latest microtale.  T
his work and the site are for adults only.

Check this story out!


*Nocturnal Tableaux also appears in Baltensperger's story/vignette anthology Inside from the Outside.

**Two of my erotic poems were published on the Pink Litter site

Two of my erotic poems - Kyoto: chican and Worlds shown, worlds to come - were published on the Pink Litter site. (Big thanks to Misty Rampart, who published it!)

Kyoto: chican sketches a carnal transaction between a school girl-outfitted woman and her client in a Japanese subway-themed club.

Worlds shown, worlds to come is a four-part poem that charts the emotional and sexual journey of a longtime punk couple, from youth to middle age.

Please note that Pink Litter is an adults-only site, so if you're under the age of eighteen you may want to skip these works.

However, if you are a legal adult who appreciates (post)punky attitude, sensuality and poetry, check these poems out!


Quick publishing history:

Kyoto: chican was originally published on the Erotica Readers & Writers Association site in November 2012.

The second section of Worlds shown. .., titled Worlds to come (terra incognito), and its third section - Our world, pink & black - were also originally published on the Erotica Readers & Writers Association site in September 2001. 

Our world, pink & black was republished on the now-defunct site in February 2002.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

**One of my poems, Habit rip (Abel Ferrara mix), was republished in Smashed Cat

One of my abstract, nervier poems, Habit rip (Abel Ferrara mix), was republished on the Smashed Cat site on September 17th, 2013. (Big thanks to E.S. Wynn, who published it!)

Visually speaking, Habit rip isn't one of my better pieces, but it's different and experimental (for me, anyway) - and it was inspired by the cinematic works of director Abel Ferrara.

Check this poem out!


This poem originally appeared in one of my single-author anthologies, Almost there: poems (which can be purchased via Lulu and Amazon).

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

**Peter Baltensperger's Fugue for Numerous Violins was published in Black Heart Magazine

Peter Baltensperger, whose Nocturnal Tableaux* graced this site in October 2012, has had another microstory published: Fugue for Numerous Violins, in Black Heart Magazine.

Fugue details a late autumn, perhaps winter, day in a busy, windy park.

Check this story out!


*Nocturnal Tableaux also appears in Baltensperger's story/vignette anthology Inside from the Outside.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

**Book review: Inside from the Outside: A Journey in Sudden Fiction, by Peter Baltensperger

(pb; 2013: microstory anthology)

From the back cover:

"Dealing with the basic elements that make us human, the short stories contained in Inside from the Outside represent explorations of various aspects of human nature in all its complexity and variety.  Author Peter Baltensperger has incorporated elements of experimental, surrealistic, and bizarre short fiction in the development of his themes."

Overall review:

Inside is not an anthology for mainstream genre readers looking for easy and obvious thrills; such readers may be disappointed  - underwhelmed or overwhelmed - by the sixty-four stand-alone, cerebral and symbol-laden vignettes and microstories in this collection.  The reason for this is that Baltensperger favors a psychologically-intense approach that loosely links these elements: the works Carl Jung and Sǿren Kierkegaard; nature appreciation; mirrors; circuses and parades; romance and sexuality; and (often) quiet reflective realizations.  

Normally, I wouldn't read such work - I'm largely a fiction-genre (crime, horror, etc.) junkie.  But Baltensperger's intriguing word pairings, his sublime and often poetic language and images, and skillful juggling of the aforementioned themes made Inside a wow-worthy anthology that stands out from others' mood-linked volumes that strive for such sublimations/realizations, but so often fall short.

Of course, not every piece in this sixty-four tale book completely thrilled me - a relative few felt superfluous, due to their too-similar elements which did little or nothing to further the concepts and emotions of preceding tales.  The occasional "lapse" tale is a given, of course (at least for this reader), in a collection with this many pieces, so it's a minor nit at worst.

Beyond that inevitable complaint, I found something - a character, a mating of choice words, an image - to enjoy in almost all of the mood stories represented here.  I should also note that this is a slow burn, read-a-few-tales-a-day work, a compilation to be read, analyzed and savored over a prolonged period of time.  (It took me two months to read this - a worthwhile endeavor, in my estimation.)

Worth owning, this - if you're looking for a romantic, cerebral and mood-suffusive anthology.

Standout stories:

1.)  "Through Disarticulations": Surreal, beautiful and romantic nature- and music-based piece.  Excellent.

2.)  "Snippets in a Hot Afternoon":  I especially enjoyed the effective, full-circle finish of this microstory.

3.)  "Equine Afternoons":  Dream-like microtale about a "woman with beautiful breasts", horses and squirrels.

4.)  "Dilemma for Rain":  Especially striking imagery in this one (e.g., "a herd of snails").

5.)  "Fusions and Diffusions":  A woman and an artist hook up.  Romantic, effective - I love the line: "Hunter took her to his apartment and painted a fragmented sentence for her, flashing colors splashed over a large canvass. . ."

6.)  "Under Uncertain Skies":  A storm brings together two carnival performers (a wolfman and a bearded lady).  Sweet work.

7.)  "Blind Eyes in a Dark Jungle":  Timely vignette about a shopping mall-traumatized woman.

8.)  "Rain Games":  Two temperamentally different brothers attend a party.  Effective, stripped-down tale of familial vengeance, in its various forms.

9.)  "By Fractured Continuations":  Effective mood piece about a woman wrestling with her sense of time and being.

10.)  "Whispers from the Rain":  Nighttime precipitation holds a special allure for a curious woman.  Sweet-toned offering.

11.)  "Spring Thaw":  Wintry thoughts negate a possible love match.

12.)  "Points of Diffusion":  A couple come together between corporate meetings and a placid lakeside.

13.)  "What Is and Can Be":  A man and woman conquer winter and  a mountain.

14.)  "For a Crescendo":  Music, insects and desire bring lovers together.

15.)  "Anatomy of a Treadmill Runner":  A runner goes through his circular routines.  The story structure reflects this.

16.)  "Inside a Puzzle":  An artist struggles to hold onto joyous moments.

17.)  "Parenthesis for a Liberation":  I love the images of this microtale, in which a fanciful woman exercises while her thoughts may or may not run wild.

18.)  "Tremolando for Rain":  Two lovers meet and celebrate during a rainstorm.  One of my favorite works in this collection.

19.)  "Performance Art in a Meadow":  A circus troupe perform and live their oddly relatable lives on a rainy day.

20.)  "Through Viscous Hours":  Gregory Bergman, a night-restless man, encounters a personalized source of terror while walking his dog.

21.)  "Going By Rivers":  Two lovers join each other on a river.  Romantic-effective work.

22.)  "Notes on a Journey":  A man revisits his hometown. Effective dovetail finish to this one.

23.)  "Dilemmas of Empty Spaces":  A woman ponders her strange sense of fulfillment, while nature works its own animalistic magic.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

**Richard Cody's microstory Unidentified Flying Object was published in issue 7 of Vine Leaves Journal

Richard Cody, whose mini-tales – Alice and Lisa - appeared on this site, has published another microstory, Unidentified Flying Object, in issue #7 of Vine Leaves Journal.  (You can read this charming tale on page 8.) 

Check this microstory out!

**Peter Baltensperger's The Call of the Loon was published on Siren

Peter Baltensperger, whose Nocturnal Tableaux* graced this site in October 2012, has had another microstory published: The Call of the Loon, on Siren.

Loon, an atmospheric, occasionally hallucinatory work, details the carnal joining of a man and woman (a recurring theme in Baltensperger's oeuvre).  For this reason, this is an 'eighteen years and older' piece.

Check this story out!


*Nocturnal Tableaux also appears in Baltensperger's story/vignette anthology Inside from the Outside.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Friday, June 21, 2013

**One of my poems, Noir pan: road house, was published in Pink Litter

One of my mainstream-though-racy poems, Noir pan: road house, was published on the Pink Litter site. (Big thanks to Misty Rampart, who published it!)

Noir pan was inspired by actress/director
Ida Lupino (1918 - 1995), specifically her work in the 1948 film Road House.

Please note that Pink Litter is a for-mature-readers site, so if you're under the age of eighteen you may want to skip this one.

However, if you are a legal adult who appreciates older films, sensuality and poetry,
check this out!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

**Peter Baltensperger's Ambiguities in Black was published in Apocrypha Abstractions

Peter Baltensperger, whose Nocturnal Tableaux* graced this site in October 2012, has had another mainstream story published: Ambiguities in Black, in June 2013 issue of Apocrypha Abstractions.

Ambiguities, an atmospheric work, concerns a man searching for something - certain meanings, which relate to himself - on a particularly tumultuous night.

Check this story out!


*Nocturnal Tableaux also appears in Baltensperger's story/vignette anthology Inside from the Outside.

Monday, May 13, 2013

**Peter Baltensperger's Ethereal Differentiations was published in Pink Litter

Peter Baltensperger, whose Nocturnal Tableaux* graced this site in October 2012, has had another story published: Ethereal Differentiations, in the fifth issue of Pink Litter.

It should be noted that this story, as well as this site, are for "mature readers" only - meaning: adults, eighteen years old and older.

Check this story out!


*Nocturnal Tableaux also appears in Baltensperger's story/vignette anthology Inside from the Outside.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

**Book review: The Owl, Alvin G. Burstein

(pb; 2012: novelette)


When college professor Lou Meade is accosted by a talking owl - a familiar of the Greek deity Athena, "goddess of wisdom, the practical arts, and warfare, and the protectress of cities"* - it's the first moment in his new life phase, an era that will lead him further into the works of author
C.S. Lewis and intellectual warfare against Eris, the wily Greek goddess of discord.

Burstein's writing is straightforward, smart and exciting in a dry-humored way, which serves this atypical, Lewisesque work well. 

Readers of Lewis and gentler, clean cut-to-it readers of fantasy would do well to own this 70-page "neo-Pagan Fantasy" (as Burstein subtitles this intriguing work).  Don't expect the epic bombast and graphic grimness of George R.R. Martin's A Game of Thrones, but do expect to be entertained in a cerebral, sometimes phantasmagorical manner.

Worth owning, this.  You can purchase it

The Free]

[This review was originally published on the Reading and Writing By Pub Light site.]


Burstein's earlier, much-shorter work  - The crawfish boil - graced this site on January 11, 2012.  If you haven't read this story,
check it out!

Monday, March 4, 2013

**Two of my short sex-pulp works were published last week

The Amoses: Molly and Chris was published on the Erotica Readers & Writers Association [ERWA] site, by-lined under the name Nikki Isaak. It will appear on the site through March 2013.

The Amoses incorporates a previously published microstory, Lithe undead (ERWA/October 2002), and, in loose link fashion, tells the offbeat tale of a death-resurrected woman, her scientist husband, a blackmailing IRS agent, and a famous horror movie house.
Corporate Roach Facility, 1999 – c**krocked was published in issue #5 of the online magazine, Pink Litter.

Corporate is a Sapphic fluff piece with darkish overtones, involving a scientist, a security guard, hentai, BDSM and an insectile soundtrack.
Check these stories out, if you're a legal adult and so inclined!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

**Book review: Eros For Various Voices, by Peter Baltensperger

(pb; 2006: erotic story anthology)

Overall review:

The sexually diverse stories in this anthology favor a intellectualized, cosmic mindset that often pushes Nature to the forefront of these romantic, sometimes experimental works.

I read this collection the same way I enjoy any other story anthology: I read a few tales a day, set the book down and mentally digested the works.  Eros is not meant to be read straight through, without breaks - though one clearly can, given its reiterated themes, experimentation and (possible) character links.

The themes of these twenty-four stories run along these lines - there's the Nature-reverent works, many of them scene-sketch pieces (e.g., "Forest Secrets", "Moonrise Over the Ocean", "Woman as a Landscape" and "Nocturne"), woman or man recounts their sex partner-history (e.g., "Just Another Birthday", "Waiting with Julia" and "The Black Widow") and pushing the narrative boundaries (e.g., "Thinking of Breasts", which made me think of
Chuck Palahniuk's analytical, page-bound tendencies, or "Bus Stop", which describes an impromptu stranger-bang, without giving any backstory, or what life consequences may have resulted from the encounter).

In the past, these sketch pieces would have caused my editorial sensibilities to recoil, but Baltensperger makes them work - another example of before you break or bend the rules, know the rules. . . which this author clearly does, making said sketch pieces succeed.

This classy anthology - shot through with loving, larger-than-us sentiments - is worth owning, if you, as a reader, are willing to think beyond the usual sex story clichés and limited focus of many of those genre works.

Standout stories:

1.)  "A Matter of Time": A divorced couple (Mick and Sylvia) mentally process their relatively new life changes.  Excellent, in its emotional potency and restraint.

2.)  "Small Favors":  A woman (Rose Miller) blossoms in a sexually diverse way via a succession of lovers, before discovering a less ephemeral, equally carnal veracity to satisfy her.

3.)  "Expectations":  A cautionary tale about two lovers (Bernice and Conrad), whose carnal time together may be supervened by their life choices.  Exemplary story, more emotionally complex than most lustworks I've read in a long while.

4.)  "The Mechanic":  Hank, a repairman-inventor, gets a job at a private mechanized sex club (Ecstasy House) and revels in his work.

5.)  "A Quick and Easy Death":  A death fetishist details another lover's end-of-life cycle, while preparing himself for her gentle physical demise.

While this story will definitely prove squickable - disturbing - to some mainstream erotica readers, Baltensperger imbues this work with a dark, almost Gothic romanticism that makes "Quick" not entirely disturbing for this reader.  Bravo.

[This review was originally published on the Reading and Writing By Pub Light site.]


Also: this site - Microstory A Week - published one of Baltensperger's mainstream/non-erotic tales ("Nocturnal Tableaux") on October 31, 2012.  If you haven't read this atmospheric work, check it out.