Archive | Fiction

Short stories, flash fiction and other free scribblings from Mark’s work.

I Have Not Lingered In European Monasteries

Spiral staircase at Tomar, Portugal
by Leonard Cohen

I Have Not Lingered In European Monasteries
and discovered among the tall grasses tombs of knights
who fell as beautifully as their ballads tell;
I have not parted the grasses
or purposefully left them thatched.

I have not held my breath
so that I might hear the breathing of God
or tamed my heartbeat with an exercise,
or starved for visions.
Although I have watched him often
I have not become the heron,
leaving my body on the shore,
and I have not become the luminous trout,
leaving my body in the air.

I have not worshipped wounds and relics,
or combs of iron,
or bodies wrapped and burnt in scrolls.

I have not been unhappy for ten thousand years.
During the day I laugh and during the night I sleep.
My favourite cooks prepare my meals,
my body cleans and repairs itself,
and all my work goes well.

from The Spice-Box of Earth

The Ruins — a new flash fiction at the Caesura Letters

Cottage ruins, County Kerry, Ireland

I have a new flash fiction up this week at the Caesura Letters called The Ruins. It’s a different kind of piece — a meditation on the nature of Stoicism (though to be fair, it has a dash of existentialism in it.)

If you haven’t already checked out the Caesura Letters, you really should. It’s “a magazine for critical thinkers, mindful contemplatives, and life-long learners.” And it’s rich with philosophy. I’m grateful to the editor and founder, James Shelley, for including fiction in the mix now too. The digital subscription is only $4.99 a month — an insanely good deal.

Photo by Keith Ewing via Flickr

At the GruntWerx Board of Directors Meeting

fb-dream

As you know, GruntWerx is the premier human relations solution provider to the world. Our products and services help the globe’s most influential companies maintain, improve and oversee their workforces.

As CEO, my personal mission has been to bring ridiculous value to the shareholders. And I have.

Before I reveal our latest plans, let’s step back, and see how I’ve accomplished this wonderful increase in the worth of our shares.

Over the past decade, we’ve seen a general decline in the privacy protections of the average consumer and worker: This has been helpful to our corporate mission. Concurrently, GruntWerx scientists and developers have created new technologies that have earned GruntWerxgeometric share value growth since we went public three years ago.

Share value doubled when we unveiled our patented SocialWerx software. For those of you too busy to read the executive summary, let me explain. SocialWerx enables our corporate clients to crawl through every bit of personal data on the Internet and social networks, regardless of TOS contracts, to identify hiring risks, and problem employees.

Share value doubled again when we implemented our FaceWerx technology – a patented system that combines facial recognition software with the SocialWerx engine, enabling corporations to use imaging from any photographs or video posted online to identify hiring risks, difficult employees, and importantly, worker behaviors that are deemed problematic. We have the computing power to spider the Net in almost real time.

The best thing about FaceWerx? It does not rely on the vagaries of social media and virality. FaceWerx catches all behaviours deemed undesirable by our corporate clients.

It’s not up to us to decide what behaviours our corporate clients target. It’s up to them. It’s theirright to decide. If they want to fire someone for behaving like a sexist idiot, they can. Same goes if they don’t like someone’s politics, or religion, or the weird flash fictions they write online. We just provide the tools.

Last year, we introduced the OptionWerx system, which allows wealthy individuals the opportunity to be omitted from our searches. We have set this premium so high that only the wealthiest of executives can afford to pay, and so, our overall products are unaffected. (And I hope you enjoy your complimentary membership in OptionWerx, you scamps.)

But onto the future of GruntWerx. Our R&D has yielded results again.

It is my great pleasure to introduce to you, for the first time, our new ThoughtWerx line of products. Yes, now we can read the thoughts and intentions of consumers and workers everywhere. Can you imagine how much our clients will be willing to pay for that? And the share value?

Investors are going to lose their minds.

The End

Note: This was a commissioned flash fiction. I was asked to write something about the cases of the two sexist boneheads who recently got fired and disciplined in Ontario. One was fired for yelling really offensive things at a female reporter, and the other disciplined for being equally douchy to a comedian at an industry awards banquet. I had no desire to write a commentary about this, but Jason Winders, the editor of the Western News, was open to a fiction piece.

You can find the original At the GruntWerx Board of Directors Meeting here.

Alltop enjoys a good grunt.

How Landon, Ontario got its name

The Thames River, London, ON

Here’s a little snippet that didn’t make it into The Fridgularity. I cut the description of Landon, Ontario’s founding because it doesn’t really add much to the story, though it’s fun for anyone who lives in the real place, London, Ontario. Folks who have lived in London, Ontario (known to some as the Forest City, and others as the “For Rest” City), or even anyone who’s spent a bit of time visiting will probably enjoy trying to spot the various locations in the city. Most of the places are fictionalized — like the founder of Landon — but they’re based on reality.

Maltley Village in Landon, Ontario
The neighborhood wasn’t as architecturally interesting as Old North Landon, but Maltley had been consistently ranked in the top ten neighborhoods to live in Canada. Of course, only residents of Maltley were aware of this fact. Blake … arrived at the village itself, two blocks of storefronts, most of which he had never been in as they were either hair salons or little knick-knacky gift shoppes. (Definitely shoppes, not shops.) … Past the village, Blake walked down a steep cobblestone pathway to a park that ran along the river. Native Ojibwa called it the Askunessippi, or ‘antlered river’, but Blake thought the early French explorers had captured its essence a bit better in naming it La Tranche, or The Ditch — the river was barely navigable by canoe, being so shallow.

The discoverer of Landon, Jeremy Tombes Landon, dubbed the river the Medway, after the river that ran through his home town of Rochester, England. Landon actually wanted to name the town Rochester, but that had already been used in New York State, and Landon still had hard feelings about the American revolution, so he’d graciously agreed to name it after himself instead. Blake always thought that was real big of Landon. The park was one of many that wound itself through the city along the Medway River, and even if it was a bit muddy, it was pretty in the morning sunshine, lined with bright red and gold maples, amber ash, and rusty oak. It would have been perfect if not for the raven that stalked him.

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You can get The Fridgularity on Amazon, on Kindle, and now on all other ebook formats via Smashwords.

Alltop stalks humor. Photo by Chen Vision via Flickr. Originally published November, 2012.