Free fiction by me: Infinite Tiny Lives, Infinitely Small at Flash Fiction Online

This is a reprint, but if you missed it the first time around, Infinite Tiny Lives, Infinitely Small is available in this month’s Flash Fiction Online!

Grandma kept her civilizations on a shelf in the living room. She always let me dust them.

(If you’ve already read that one, or if you read it just now and feel like you need more, you can find an original flash story by me in this month’s Fantasy Magazine!)

Quote Monday is a Card Shark

Alex: “I just got a damn good card!”
Where’d he learn that from???

Evelyn: “I’m gonna give [this card] to Alex.”
Alex: “I have a cuteness that makes people donate to me.”

<Oliver, freaking out because I came within a mile of his camera>
Shane: “Sweetheart, they can’t see me, and even if they could, they are aware you have parents.”

Ah the joys of remote school!

Oliver: “One good thing about covid is I don’t have to clean the food off my face because I’m wearing a mask!”

New Story by me in this month’s Fantasy Magazine!

Just out today, check out a new flash story by me in this month’s Fantasy Magazine!

Although I primarily publish Science Fiction these days, as I reader I was always more of a Fantasy guy. So I am very excited to grace the pages of Fantasy magazine!

So. Fucking. Metal.

by SHANE HALBACH

Baron Samedi pounds the drums and the whole floor shakes. That’s his thing, earthquakes. I heard the Skull Suckers played Santa Monica and the Baron literally brought the whole place down during a blistering solo of “The Devil May Ride.”

Hopefully you know me well enough by now to know that the story has more heart than it first appears!

I believe the story will be available online later this month, but if you can’t wait that long to get it into your hot little hands (or if you just enjoy great content from a great magazine, you can subscribe here!

Thinking about Death today, Part 2

I was recently reminded of this post I made last April 1st, nearly 1 year ago today. In it, I was contemplating the mind boggling death toll of Covid-19, and comparing them to the deaths from various wars. It was a shock then, and it is a shock now as I realize we have now had more deaths than I had predicted, even in my wildest dreams. Specifically, at that time I said:

The most current, much more conservative estimates (which include social distancing measures), still have the US exceeding 93k deaths. That’s nearly twice the US death total from the Vietnam war (56k), and almost 3 times the death total from the Korean War (36k).

It does not take much imagination to think we might exceed the US death total from World War I (116k).

And, of course, we do not need to imagine exceeding the US death total from World War I, since we have exceeded it many times over. And of course, I went on to say:

WWII was ~400k, so we may or may not get there, but it’s just….wow.

We are currently sitting at 510,000 deaths from Covid-19, just 6,000 shy of the US death total of WWI and WWII combined. Given that we are adding about 2,000+ deaths per day in the US, we will hit that total in just a few days.

We will exceed the death total of WWI and WWII combined. I just…can’t comprehend it. When I think of mental weight of either of those two wars, and how much they still drag on us mentally today, and then I think we are currently experience something that is bigger than the both of them combined! I don’t even know what to do with that.

For the first 2/3rds of this, I thought we were doing okay. We didn’t get Covid (yet!), for starters. We didn’t lose our jobs. There have been ups and downs, but we have made a lot of good memories as a family, and spent time that we wouldn’t have otherwise spent with each other.

However, in the past month or so I have really started to realize that, although things could be worse, things are definitely not okay. The kids are anxious and depressed in a way that I’ve never seen them be. I’m too close to my own mental state to fully understand how it is affecting me, but I think, based on the behavior changes I’ve seen in them, that it’s probably affecting me more than I realize too. Ollie’s coming up on his second quarantine birthday. The kids are coming up on the 1 year anniversary of the last time they were at school, with their friends.

Think about the psychological effects from the Vietnam war, with 56,000 deaths. Imagine something TEN TIMES more impactful.

I think it’s safe to say that we are only at the beginning of the long, long shadow this is going to lay on this generation.

Death From Above

As you might know, we have been experiencing some cold and snow here in Chicago (as in, weeks of below freezing temperatures combined with the snowiest 3 week stretch in the last 40 years). That, combined with some leaking gutters on the neighboring apartment building has lead to some truly staggering ice stalactites hanging over our walkway.

Now inevitably those ice chunks start to melt, and when they do, they fall. And when they fall, it pretty much sounds like the end of the world. If you got hit by one of those, you would ABSOLUTELY be utterly destroyed.

This is not the first year that we have dealt with hovering death hanging over our heads; it’s not unusual for us to hear them smashing down this time of year. When they come rocketing down they take some significant chunks out of our fence, which is why we had to replace the wooden fence with wrought iron last year. In fact, it has already happened twice this week, destroying the last remaining section of wooden fence, and breaking a few of the points off of a section of wrought iron.

However, nothing prepared us for the entire thing coming down at once! Just a giant pillar of ice and death, toppling into our yard at 1:30 am!

Now, so far, it doesn’t look like much. However, allow Sara to lead you on a tour through our backyard…

Some of the ice chunks were too big for me to lift. I can’t stress enough how much this would have killed me if I had been outside!

As you can see, it took out the internet and (unused) phone cable. I don’t know how it managed to not take down the electric cable; it must be made of sterner stuff! But I did call the electric company anyway, and it turns out it was, in fact, damaged, so it’s a good thing I called them! (they already came out and fixed it up)

So long porch that was just redone 2 years ago! So long compost bin! So long walking casually down the walkway without a care in the world, not even thinking about a casual smiting from above!

See below for some of the gory details:

You can see here that the downspout was completely packed full up with ice.