Winter Haiku

Winter, vile winter

White snowflakes falling down now

Become filthy slush

Winter’s cold bullet

Tears me in fractured pieces

Only spring can heal

I see the dead trees

Life hides while their souls slumber

Waiting out the freeze

Winter’s bitter chill

Freezes me inside and out

Makes me want to shout

Ice cracks, bitter chill

Cold prints on my windowsill

Winter shatter me

Flash Fiction – “The Pilot”

Gray winds bruise the plains and blush his cheeks to a burn. His eyes and mouth covered, the relentless cold air remains painful. How did he wind up in this barren wasteland, full of ghostly skeletons? A dirty white monster approaches on four massive paws and huffs, its breath steaming. A polar bear? It rushes, knocks him down, and then drags him by the collar of a thick jacket. The creature’s breath is rancid, but the man refuses to panic. The creature enters a cave and releases him. The man looks up to see a woman standing before him.

“Hello William. It’s good to see you.” She turns to the bear. “Thank you, Sunny.” The massive mammal shudders and woofs, then pads out of the cave.

“Do I know you?” William struggles to his feet, the cold and shock dulling all senses. His memory is foggy. He recalls air taxiing to the arctic desert, fully supplied and prepared to camp for a week, photographing and writing about the national park. A late summer storm gifted frigid temperatures and strong, blinding winds. He got lost and stumbled around until Sunny.

“I was the pilot of the plane who brought you here.” She shoots a concerned glance his way, then beckons a retreat deeper into the cave. William follows until a new room is unveiled with a fire and roasting meat on spits.

“I don’t recognize you. I didn’t even realize my pilot was female.”

“I’ll forgive that. It must have been the short hair, headphones, and glasses. ” She motions a hand in way of offering a seat on a long, thick log.

“I thought I would die out there. How did you find me?”

“Sunny and I are good trackers. To be honest, you were also tagged, so it was easy. I’m Casey, and I’ll get straight to the point. You’re here as a replacement. The plane you traveled in? She needs a new pilot.”

“What? Are you crazy? I’m not a pilot.” He is in a situation. The person in the room, cave, whatever, with him is likely psychotic with a pet who could bite his head off without chipping a tooth. Also, his way home.

“Calm down, William. You’ll learn to operate the plane. She practically runs on auto pilot.” Casey chuckles. William detects a trace of bitterness in the laugh.

“What if I say no? You have to realize you sound like a lunatic. And how do you have a monster bear that doesn’t maul you to death?”

“She comes with the plane. Sunny will be your monster bear soon. When I go, she’ll obey you.” Casey hands him a piece of hot, steaming meat. William reluctantly accepts it and eats. He is famished. Humoring this female might be his only way of escape.

“What did you mean when you said I was tagged?” He chews the meat, which is tasteless, while the fire warms his face.

“You’re my replacement. I knew how to find you. Let’s leave it at that. I have done the job for a long time, William, and I’m tired. I’ve given enough for her. She won’t let me go until I find a replacement. There is always a pilot. You are next.”

“But I am not a pilot.” He insists. There is no reasoning, and he is becoming scared for his life. Is he a prisoner? Is she a serial killer? Friends and family were informed of his whereabouts, but the park is huge. People get lost and die in the wilderness all the time. He won’t be found. He might have to resort to overpowering her.

“I see your mind churning, William. Don’t bother. If you try to harm me, Sunny will take you down. She won’t kill you. She’ll incapacitate you. You’ll wake up and we’ll start again. Over and over until you agree. The job isn’t so bad. The plane requires no fuel or maintenance. She’ll never break down.”

William shakes his head and laughs. “What is it, a ghost plane?” Casey looks at him. They stare at each other in silence while seconds tick by. Sunny lumbers in and sits next to Casey, licking her face. They both flicker before regaining solidity. “What just happened? You both flared out, like you were about to disappear or something. I’m in shock. That must be it.” He looks down at himself and notices the flickering happening to his own body. “What is happening to me?” He looks at Casey.

“You didn’t make it, William.” She sighs. “Your body is still out there, on the ground. But your spirit is here. That’s why you’re perfect to fly the plane. Now I can move on. Finally.” She smiles, reaches out and takes his hand, squeezing it. Sunny walks away from her and sits next to him. “All it takes to operate her is to issue commands like ‘off, on, slower, faster, up, down.’ You have to pilot enough souls to satisfy her before you can pick a replacement. The number is different for everyone. You’ll know when it’s time. Thank you, William, and good luck.” She smiles and fades, leaving him alone with the bear, staring into the fire.

On Being Fat

A lumpy potato with spots, folds, and flappy bulging flops

Stretch marks roam across my breasts and under my arms

I do not wear sleeveless shirts or a bathing suit

Pools and hot tubs elude me

No one is looking because I am invisible

But just in case they are, I hide my body

I do not dare put my body on display

No skiing or horseback riding or anything that requires me to

Squeeze my unruly form into something that might not fit

I would rather die than be called out on it

I never fly if I have a choice

If I do not, then I fold myself up as small as I can be

So no one has a chance to say I’m taking up more

Space than I should be — disdainfully side-eyeing me

If I have to eat in public, I make sure to eat something

Appropriate for large women to eat

Salads, grilled chicken, vegetables, water, and napkins

Cover my mouth to make my presence tidy since my body isn’t

Every angle is unflattering; double chins, wrinkled flesh

I avoid bright lights; direct sunlight is not my friend

I do not like being photographed

I do not like family gatherings or being scrutinized

Doctor visits and the scales they make you stand on each time

Clothes shopping is a chore and I desire no more

Accessories to drape from my undesirable form

I feel obliged to hug the wall when passing someone

I feel compelled to give up as much space as I can

To help others around me fill up as much as I can give up,

Which is never enough being fat

My bulges and lumps are offensive

Pizza, French fries, cheeseburgers, soda,

Doughnuts, cake, chips are not food for the fat

We learn this from thin society; we learn it from jokes,

Movies, books and all forms of communication

Our respite is one another

Flash Fiction – “Crisis”

Cognizant of the bristling fact she remained in breach of Reform for two years, Bestie perched uncomfortably on the examining table while the doctor scowled at her medical record. The Crisis of 2050 had the population screaming for Reform. It was now 2058 and Government persisted in cracking down on citizens refusing to follow weight mandates.

Bestie’s physician glanced up from perusal of her file. “Ms. Forward, I don’t think you will be surprised at what I am about to say.” Bestie said nothing. “You previously received three warnings for obesity. You are forty pounds over the forty-pound leniency threshold. By law, I’m afraid I can’t treat you any longer. Also, you haven’t paid the fines.”

“I can’t afford the damn fines!” Bestie retorted, exasperated.

“And yet you are able to afford your obesity somehow.”

“Healthy food is astronomically expensive. If I can’t afford to pay fines, how am I supposed to afford food you approve of?”

“Lab nutrition is affordable and available at every food-selling store.”

“It tastes like cardboard.”

“Sacrifices must be made. You, apparently, have not made any in the past year.”

“Well, I’ve maintained my weight and didn’t gain any. Please just give me the waiver and I’ll try the lab food this time.”

“Unfortunately, there is no prize for maintaining obesity. You have placed yourself in an unfortunate situation, Ms. Forward. There are no more waivers. There are no more fines. You have exhausted all band-aids available to you.”

“What does that mean? Are you threatening me?”

“No threats, Ms. Forward. I have already notified the local chapter of Healthcare Examiners for Licensed Liberty about your case. They should arrive shortly.”

“HELL is on their way? Please. I can lose the weight. I admit, I could have tried harder. I’ve been…lazy. I can change. I will change.”

“I’m sorry, Ms. Forward. I gave you every opportunity to follow the Program. This Great Nation cannot afford further gluttonous drains on healthcare. This was preventable.”

“You have no right to sit there with self-righteous arrogance and tell me what I should weigh. What kind of doctor are you?”

“We are past philosophy and activism, Ms. Forward. The Crisis of 2050 changed everything, and to answer your question, I am a doctor who follows Reform.”

“When did this country become a fucking tyranny?” Bestie wished she had paid attention to the news about Reform. She kept to herself and only saw her doctor when she needed her anti-depressant refill. She preferred not to listen to political vidcasts and didn’t read e-news. “But my blood pressure has always been great, and I rarely get sick. I only take medication for depression.”

“Your blood pressure is what got you the waivers. Studies show that exercise can help with depression. When was the last time you exercised, Ms. Forward? Do you exercise?”

“This is harassment.”

“As I thought. I’m afraid the Government is no longer providing medication to citizens who refuse to comply with Reform.”

“Are you kidding me?”

A woman entered the room with a name tag that read Dr. Eva Cross, Healthcare Examiners for Licensed Liberty. She gave her colleague a pointed look, then turned to Bestie.

“Ms. Bestie Forward. Your license for liberty is hereby revoked due to failure of assimilation to Reform. Here are your options: One, sign a waiver for gastric banding surgery. Two, sign a waiver for the weight loss work program. Three, euthanasia.”

“This is insane. I’m leaving.” Bestie slid off the table and stalked toward the door. A pair of tall, muscled men blocked her way, and Bestie felt the sting of a needle jabbed into her arm. Dr. Cross depressed the plunger quickly and stepped out of the way.

“Ms. Forward, which option do you choose? You have thirty seconds until unconsciousness, giving me control over your advance directive rights.”

Bestie was already groggy. Whatever medication the evil bitch had administered was fast-acting. Who would inform her daughter, Roni? As a nurse, would she agree with this perversion of justice? Ironically, Roni had voiced her concerns about the inevitable consequences and Bestie had brushed her worries aside. Freedom had vacated the building while Bestie had lingered in quiet denial.

Bestie couldn’t handle the work program: a brutal two-year commitment of toiling in factories and farming communities for twelve-hour shifts. Most of the job was spent standing with strict ten-minute breaks every two hours. Meals consisted of lab nutrition. She might survive the gastric banding surgery. She opened her mouth to reveal her decision, but warbled nonsense found its way out. Bestie’s eyes bulged in horror as paralysis overcame her. Now Dr. Bitch would have final control over her life. How had it come to this? The darkness took her.

Dr. Cross held another syringe up and wiggled it back and forth. “I guess she won’t be needing the antidote. Time of death is 15:37. Since the work camps are overfull and surgery requires an unhealthy drain on precious resources, this was the best outcome for all.” She walked out. The two men placed Bestie in a body bag, then transferred her to a hospital bed and wheeled her out to a waiting ambulance.

Bestie’s physician rose and departed the examining room. He passed a nurse preparing to tidy up for the next patient. The doctor whistled a happy tune and meandered down the hall to another room. He knocked briefly, entered, greeted his next patient, and closed the door.

(Image by Foundry Co at Pixabay)

About Me

I’m Shelly Redfern. I started out reviewing books at Goodreads, then I created a blog to post reviews of books, write about mental illness, movies, and a few other interests. This is the next phase of my writing adventure: a blog to post my creative pieces. As I am still a work in progress, so is this site. Thank you for joining me (or at least for reading this).

I have a short poetry collection published as Shelly Mersinger that is available for free at Smashwords called “Heart Full of Skeletons.”

I am working on a vampire book, a memoir, and a collection of stories about Morpheus, the God of Dreams. Most of his stories will come from a group project at inthepantheon.com where writers voice Greek Gods and tell their adventures.

My Twitter handle is @msshellywrites.

I am a single mother (and cat mom) with depression. I am an LGBTQIA and mental illness ally. I’m a liberal and partial to the Simulation Theory.