Misc, Stories

Short Story: The Other Foot

I was going to write an intro explaining how I wrote this story, the aches and pains of sitting down to write after a long hiatus (it’s terrible!), but decided to just post the story. I’d love to know your thoughts, and if you do have questions about it or the process, I’d love to hear those too. 


The Other Foot


I owed Dax my life, yet I was the one who would ultimately kill him. Guilt the size of my pocket communicator burned a hole in my heart. I could barely look at him, and I couldn’t believe how calm he looked sitting beside the fire whittling a chunk of wood, as though he hadn’t a care in the world. Maybe that serenity in the face of danger was why my father had chosen the reformed convict as my protector and teacher. Regardless, I trusted Dax. My father may have been naïve about the Zees, but when it came to judging a person’s character he was as reliable as a compass. I went where Dax went. Except this time. This time was different.

“It’ll be fine,” he said, still whittling away. “I taught you everything you need to know to survive in the woods.”

“Yeah, that’s what you said.” My backpack was stuffed with gear: fire-making tools, blanket, pots for cooking and boiling water, maps, and a few other necessities. “I think I remember most of it.”

“You’d better. If you fail, or the Zees get you, this is all for nothing. Remember that.”

I shuddered. The Zees took adults and every young person on the verge of adulthood they could find. No one knew why or what was done to them. All we did know was that they were never seen again.


He set down the unfinished piece and stared at the sky. I looked up, too. Nothing stirred. There were few stars and no moon. How different to that night nine months ago when it had been aflame with alien lights, aroar with alien engines, the cacophony whipping humankind into a frenzy. The chaos had killed my father, along with millions of others.

“I’m sorry. I really am.”

He snorted and rolled onto his side, his back towards me. “I should have known it was just a matter of time. Teenagers are all the same: sneaky and unreliable. I just hope your excursion was worth it.”

My cheeks flamed red. Luckily, they weren’t visible in the dark. “It wasn’t, especially now. If I could take it back, I would.”

“Well, I guess there’s that.”

He rolled over to face me, firelight reflecting in the whites of his eyes. Then he shook his head, the angle of his down-turned face almost hiding a sad smile. “You still haven’t figured it out, have you? I promised your father I’d get you to the safe zone, remember? Everything I’ve done was to keep that promise. Was I tough on you? Yes. Were you allowed to do what you wanted? No. But, as we came to see, it was necessary because you never could see more than the step ahead.” He ran a hand through his tousled black hair. “Why couldn’t Sero have saddled me with a dog? At least you can train dogs.”

“I said I was sorry, okay?” It wasn’t enough, not nearly, but I had to say something. “Dax, I really didn’t think they’d trace the call or follow me. I did shake them though.”

“Well they did, and now our cover’s blown. Shaking them only gained us a few hours. We’ll be lucky if they wait until tomorrow to pay us a visit. You’d better be gone before then.” Dax lay back and sighed. I knew what that meant. He didn’t want me around when they came for him. Probably didn’t think I could handle it. “Look, Sid,” he went on, “what’s done is done. No point laboring the matter. Get some sleep.”

“How can you be so–?”

“I said, go to sleep. I’m done talking.” A minute later, he started to snore, definitively ending the discussion.

Typical! Adults never listen!

“You’re angry.”

“Yes, dammit!” I threw back. “And you scared the hell out of me. I thought you were sleeping.”

“Nerves, I guess. What are you upset about?”

“Everyone’s making decisions for me! I should have a say in what’s going on, don’t you think?”

He laughed, but it was tired. “When I’m gone, you can do what you want. You’d just better make sure it includes getting to that safe zone in the mountains. That was the plan your father set in motion before the Zee’s got him, and that’s still the plan. Got that?”

I looked away. He talked big and complained, but he expected me to come through. My survival meant sticking it to the aliens. But more importantly to me, it meant honoring the two men who had risked everything for my sake. I had no choice but to live. Even if it was without them.

I curled into my blanket. The ground was cold, the sticks and tree roots making it impossible to find a comfortable position. Truth was, I also talked a big game. All that blathering about having a say, but honestly, what the hell did I know? The world was messed up and the rules had changed. Life was a jostled board game, humans the displaced pieces.

When I awoke the next morning, Dax was gone. At first, I thought the Zees had come for him during the night, but a quick look around revealed only his footsteps. And a gift left beside my pallet.

I packed slowly, picking up Dax’s gift last and placing it in my pocket.

Soon after, I heard the howls of the Zee’s dog-like tracking beasts in the woods. Just as Dax had taught me, I was on my feet in a flash, pouring water into the dirt and covering my shoes with mud. It would mask my scent for a while, at least until I got to the stream.

Once there, I jumped in and slogged through the current, heading north towards the mountains. The birds were awake and trilling their morning songs. I put a hand to my breast pocket. My palm curved over the bump of Dax’s souvenir: the completed carving of a mother bird shielding its young under its wing.

Upstream, I exited the water. The mountains loomed in the distance. It would be a long, difficult walk but Dax had prepared me for it. I listened for the Zees dogs, and when I heard nothing but the songs of birds in the trees, disappeared into the brush.



Copyright @2017 by Dyane Forde



Book Review: Re-Wired by Greg Dragon

Re-WiredRe-Wired by Greg Dragon

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


He created the perfect woman but will he lose his soul in the process?

Robotics student Brad Barkley has created the perfect woman. The only problem is she’s an android, and her creator realizes too late he may have made her too perfect. After Brad’s ultimate failure with women nearly consumes him, he discovers Tricia, his android, may be able to rescue him from a life of loneliness, if he and the human race are willing to pay the price.


Re-Wired tells the story of a lonely, disillusioned young man who tries to set right the wrongs in his life by creating the perfect android woman. Of course, things don’t go as planned and Brad must face reality and the consequences of his actions.

The idea and accompanying social commentary (human beings’ relationship to technology, mistrust of robots/androids/AI) are not new as we’ve seen them before in other stories, TV shows, and movies. I won’t go into a discussion on those issues, but I will say I appreciated that the novel raised them as I did consider points of view I hadn’t before.
The strengths of the novel are in the relationship between Priscilla and Brad (which is also where the story gets most interesting), and when Tricia (android) has the narrative floor to herself. In the latter case, it was a pleasure to see her process human behaviour and draw her own conclusions, sometimes as a slave to her programming and others times as an enlightened, self-directed entity. Tricia is both a child and a woman, and she comes off as vulnerable, victimized, gentle, caring, confused and, eventually, strong. Priscilla is a dynamic character who lifts and drives the novel’s energy. In fact, I enjoyed reading these characters more than of Brad himself, who I found not overly interesting or sympathetic, and his dialogue often felt unnatural.

I also enjoyed the ‘twist’ in the story, though I did see it coming. It took the novel from a straight forward science-fiction story to something that bordered on fantasy. The only issue I had is that the blurred lines between reality and fantasy (psychosis) aren’t fully resolved so that I finished the story feeling confused.
Lastly, the story felt short and, for a science-fiction story, it needed more detail both about the technology as well as the world in which it takes place. There is an epilogue that explains the social context and history, but it would have been better to have woven those details into the narrative so that the reader has a more immersive experience. I wanted a closer inspection of the devices, programming and materials which make Tricia appear real enough to pass as a human. Playing up the contrast between her android and human self would have added another dimension to the character as well as the psychological dilemma Brad faces.

Thanks to Mr. Dragon for providing a copy of the book to review.

View all my reviews


View From the Sea: Story Prompt

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything new, so I decided to jump back on board with a story prompt from a writing site; it’s a little experimental but that’s part of the fun. I’ll leave the actual prompt undisclosed; if you read, read for fun and see what the story says to you. 🙂

View from the Open Sea

Our dreams are but crystal drops falling from eyes tearing with joy or sorrow; their pings can be heard for miles around; their echoes bounce back to bless or to haunt. One droplet, the best droplet, shone as a white flare for a moment in time; smiles frozen on celluloid; romantic poses pasted into a sticky album and boxed away for latter days…It was just a tiny, liquid drop of youthful expectation collected in a bucket yet it promised the biggest prize. Of all those constrained in my little sea, on that cornerstone I fashioned my house knowing that, one day, I could look back and see it still shining like a beacon amongst the millions of other drops that had since collected.

I am older now. Yet, not so old; I sneak a look back now. My eyes are aflame with the whiteness of silk and chiffon, skin brushed by lace so carefully chosen; it had meant so much to me, then. There was a waltz when I floated in arms so strong—a man in penguin white and black, and me nestled in expensive soufflé. The songs of strings and woodwinds carried us to the heavens; elevated us beyond the mountain-tops until we touched the essence the clouds. But, as with all aspirations too golden, too pure, we soared too high–nearly kissed the sun. And wax melts. It becomes slippery, elusive, trickling through trembling fingers until we can only fumble with the broken pieces of our once brilliant wings and, like ash, our blackened bodies fall, careening side by side to predetermined doom.

Time…It flies.

I am adrift in a tiny raft, staring at the bucket’s broken walls. They lied. Once, they had promised shelter, encircling this unsteady pool like a womb. But I have learned that walls, no matter how high or how thick, are destined to come down and that its stones crush those below who foolishly staked their peace in them…

The empty space beside me has long grown cold; the invisible imprint remains. Occasionally, a new form lies in its place. Different, it is cut from another cloth and yet I find it fits, perfectly. Will I be damned for tearing down the walls of my cage with my own two hands? Or will the light of that elusive sun at last touch this sallow face?

I will drift.

And I will wonder.

I will drift again.

And I will wonder some more.

But right now, as I bounce upon the lilting waters, the whole world appears as a limitless sea…

Copyright @2014 Dyane Forde




Disgruntled-flash fiction

This is an old piece of flash fiction, based on a twist on a prompt where the idea was to tell a story from the 2nd person POV…


Bet you never stopped to consider the consequences, did you? Clicking down the hall in sky-high stilettos, got everyone convinced you’re the cat’s meow. Tall and slender, gorgeous in every way. You smile for them, you have time for them. They always get your best.

“Oh, Daniel, I’m sorry I didn’t text you back. Had a late night. Must have slipped my mind.”

Of course.

Your eyes shifting with discomfort, finally looking away to grasp at invisible excuses. “Daniel! I’m sorry, but…I’m not free tonight. Or…any other night.”

You didn’t consider the consequences.

You didn’t think of me.

But you will.

D.Forde May 2013


The Wanderer-Poem

So last night I wrote about staring the Poetry Nemesis in the face and wrestling it to the ground. Well, the result was only so-so. But I did it! Today, I had the chance to rework it after getting some great help and direction (and yes, support) from a fellow writer (Hi, Genius!). Which means I feel a little less awkward in presenting my first poem in roughly 10 years. 🙂
The Wanderer
Beyond the Blue Horizon
there is nothing, only the
A landscape bare
where shifting winds
tear at the
Lost and the Lonely.
Swaddled in the
oppressive haze,
these stolen souls
Rendered deaf.
Soon to be pulled
There is where you will find
swallowed whole.
Buried alive and left to rot
in this filthy, acidic
Blue sky, untouchable.
I am brought so low.
So far beneath the surface.
growing old.
I am gone.
I ran away from you.
There is no going back
this, I accept.
I am still going.
Drifting miles apart from the
me I once knew.
D. Forde