Front Porch

It was a hot day in July when I witnessed the murder. I was laid up on my front porch that day on account of being a cat. With nothing else to do, I decided to keep an eye on the neighborhood. I was just dozing off when I saw a flash of orange across the street. It turned out to be the bully cat, Scat, who lived in the loud house across the street. He always tried to catch the birds from my yard. Often times, my servants were forced to chase him away making noises loud enough to raise the dead.

Today, however, he was on the run from his captors, Zed and Caliban. Those two were always sure to be bad news. They smoked like chimneys and if I didn’t know better, I’d say they were growing something illegal like catnip. I kept my eye open in case Scat tried anything funny. When I was sure he was on his way to the pond, I finally settled back in for a nap.


I was just starting to see mice on the back of my eyelids when suddenly,

Clang, Bang, Bounce!

The school boys down the hill were always tinkering with something. If there weren’t things to fix, then their favorite pastime was basketball. I craned my neck to get a glimpse of their action. One boy was playing basketball, but the other two were out of sight. Then there was a silence like I had never heard before in this neighborhood. I waited to hear hammering or a car racing up the hill.


A flock of every kind of bird flew out of the trees across the street. Like straight out of The Birds, I feared for my life (that movie was not what I thought it would be). Each winged creature sang a different song, but each just as terrifying as the next. They flew with all their might as I checked my blanket to make sure I hadn’t emptied my bladder.

Clang, Band, Bounce!

The boys were at it again.


My servant finally arrived to give me a well needed massage and I told her about all the crazy things happening in the neighborhood.

“Nothing good will come from spying,” she warned. Boy, was she right. She made me some tuna and then left me to my own devices.

I knew I should be resting since I wouldn’t be able to nap for a least another hour, but I couldn’t pull myself away from the action. The pesky squirrel was back on the tree. He was an addict. He discovered the hummingbird feeder this spring and it was downhill from there. Whenever he came around, he rubbed his little paws together as he sat jonesin’ for a fix. The other critters veered away from him fearing he would go nuts at any moment.

I kindly told him we didn’t have what he was looking for, but he insisted on sticking around in hope that we might put a new feeder out for him. Every chipmunk, dove, and woodpecker promptly turned around when they saw the guy. I was ready to go out there myself and take care of the problem when suddenly,


The squirrel ran and the sky darkened above as if night had fallen. Where the poor addict had been just seconds before was a scene I could barely believe.

A murder had landed before my very eyes. Savage and brutal, the black mass filled the yard. A cacophony of screams and caws made my blood run cold. I called to my servants,

“More seed out front!” The gang cawed in agreement and with the hope that they would be hungry nevermore.

I finally settled back in for a long needed rest, but I knew I would never forget this hot July day when I saw a murder from my front porch.

© Autumn and Emilita Siders 2016
Front Porch

Share your knowledge and the power of the sea will return what was lost

On the Rocks

A copy of Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea was cracked open on the desk. The hardbound copy was aged from the salty air, just like Harvey. He sat sipping his morning coffee and smoking a cigarette, the only things that seemed to warm his bones on this brisk fall morning. The soothing sound of the waves crashing on the rocks made him feel like he wasn’t as alone as he truly was.

It had been three months since Harv had talked to another human. At first he thought he had found heaven, but he missed the company now. He and Sam always had such good conversations. He seemed like such a good guy at first, but the solitude must have driven him crazy. Or maybe Harv drove him mad?

He shrugged the thought away as he thought about the more important things he had to do today. A storm was on its way and his supplies were running low. A chopper was supposed to arrive tomorrow, but most likely the winds would make delivery impossible. Sure there was more food since he had a supply for two, but he smoked more than enough to make up for the lack of a colleague… a colleague.

Was that all Sam was to him?

The two had survived on this rock for over a year together. They were both too old to go to ‘Nam and too young to go to their graves, so why not take a job where they could disappear? Just like society wanted them to.

Now, Sam really had disappeared. Harv knew that was a foolish explanation given where they were, but he had no other logic to combat the theory. One minute he was there, the next he was gone. He knew he should have called it in to the mainland, but deep down he kept thinking that one day Sam would just show up and they could go back to how things were.

Harv picked up his cigarettes and threw on his coat. He hadn’t set foot in the keeper’s quarters above the boathouse since Sam’s disappearance. With the storm coming though, he had to board up a broken window. As he walked across the rocks he could feel the salty breeze on his face. He had always liked the sound of the ocean. It always seemed to be whispering secrets just out of his reach. Today the sound calmed him as he focused his attention to crossing the slick rocks.

Harvey,” a voice rang clear amidst the crashing of waves. He stopped dead in his tracks and saw Sam standing twenty yards ahead. He took a step forward and his foot slid out from underneath him. He fell quickly but still tried to break his fall with his hands. Unfortunately, his forehead ended up taking the brunt of it. He staggered to his feet and looked back where Sam had been. There was no one there.

“Sam!?” he called out to the ocean. He looked back down at the rock now stained with his blood. If he was seeing things before he hit his head, what would he see now?

He made it across the rocks without any more damage and stood a safe distance away from the boathouse. Just staring into the vacant house gave him the creeps. He would go upstairs, fix the window and get back to the lighthouse. Climbing the creaky stairs gave him a sense of familiarity the combined with the dread of a terrible nightmare. When he got to the top, the place looked disheveled. Papers were strewn across the floor and the stench of rotted food wafted through the air. Across the room the damp curtains blew around in a violent frenzy. Shards of red glass occupied the floor beneath the broken window. One large piece still remained in the frame, this one a lighter shade of pink.

Harvey took a deep breath and crossed the battlefield into the kitchen. The stench in there was more overpowering as the fresh air hadn’t helped that room. He grabbed a toolbox from the cabinet and then removed the door. It was slightly bigger than the window and seemed strong enough to withstand the winds that were on their way.

The last screw from the hinge hit the ground, its metallic trail bouncing out of the kitchen. Harv set the door down on the counter and followed after it. Instead of picking it up, he stared at the window that was already covered. He looked back in the kitchen to where he had set the cabinet door, but it was no longer there. He stumbled backwards into the doorframe. He saw the toolbox was still there, its handle covered in blood. He panicked, and then remembered about his fall on the rocks. It was his blood on the toolbox. He needed to tend to his wound.

With his back to the wall, he inched towards the bathroom. As soon as he made it in, he slammed the door behind him. He reached for the matches to light the lamp on the counter. After a few strikes, the match burst to life but before he could bring the flame to the lamp, he saw the dried crimson that coated the counter and sink. He dropped the match as it burned his fingers and he was out of there before the flame extinguished.

Heavy raindrops fell all around him. The storm was getting closer. The rain helped wash away most of his own blood and he quickly determined that his wound had stopped bleeding. There was a reason he hadn’t been in there since Sam left. Sam was gone.

His head throbbed, but there was no way he was going back and he couldn’t stay outside much longer. Back to the lighthouse was his only option at this point. Back across the rocks he had seen Sam on earlier.

The wind was really picking up, but he managed to light a cigarette as he crawled back over the jagged land. His lungs burned with each puff, but it warmed him inside. The waves were crashing down just feet away from him and one wrong step would drag him out to the ocean. That is if he survived the rocks all around him. He just had to make it back to the lighthouse and survive until the helicopter made it tomorrow. He would tell them about Sam and now that he was injured, they wouldn’t leave him out there alone. He would get off this rock and never come back.

By the time he reached the lighthouse, he was soaking wet. He climbed the stairs and threw off his jacket. The wet mass pounded the floor as Harv reached for a dry blanket. Wrapping it around his shoulders, he reached in his front pocket for a smoke.

“Shit!” The entire pack was drenched. He went for his secret stash in the desk and noticed his book was closed. A shiver ran through him, but not because of the damp cold. He picked up the book and flipped through it. A photo fell to the floor. Fingers shaking, he picked up the faded picture. The print on the back read, Sam & Harvey 1969 Midway Lighthouse. He flipped it over and immediately jumped back, hitting the desk. It was the picture they had taken when they arrived at the lighthouse but Harvey’s face had been scratched out and the grin on Sam’s face seemed bigger than he remembered.

With the book still in his hand, he ran downstairs almost losing his footing. He burst out of the lighthouse and the wind blew him back. He pushed forward as the rain pounded against him and he realized he had nowhere to go.

“WHAT DO YOU WANT, SAM? WHERE ARE YOU? SAM?” Harv screamed at the top of his lungs but the roar of the ocean and the wind made it hard to even hear his own voice. His head throbbed and he closed his eyes crouching down between the rocks. On the back of his eyelids, his memories flashed.

Sam was in standing in front of him. They were arguing.

I love you,” Sam protested. The words burned into Harv’s mind. “You don’t feel it too?” Sam took a step towards Harv.

Get away!” Harv shoved him and watched as he fell backwards. He heard the glass shatter.

The waves were pummeling against him. He could barely keep his balance nestled between the ocean and the shore.

help..” Sam’s voice was weak and blood poured out of his chest. Harvey looked at him. There was nothing he could do. He picked up his feet and a scream filled the humid, sticky air. He tipped him backwards until he fell out the window. Crunch. Blood stained the rocks below.

“No!” Harv screamed, “That is not what happened! Sam!”

He dragged the body to the boathouse and went back upstairs to board up the window. There was blood everywhere. He tried to wash it off his hands as the sink became a red pool.

He could see something stuck between the rocks in front of him.

“Sam!” he slid closer using this hands and feet to climb down.

He didn’t know what to do with the body. It was hot and he wouldn’t last long in the boathouse. He went back down to move him. Sam was gone. Sam disappeared.

“I killed you. I killed you, Sam.” The words left Harvey’s mouth so quietly that the ocean soaked them in before they could go anywhere. He grabbed the lump he had been moving towards and stumbled forward hitting his head again. He fell into the water next to the mass and as he was pulled under he looked into Sam’s lifeless eyes. Then everything faded to black as he the ocean pulled a blanket over him.

Mark was not happy about having to bring supplies out to Midway, but at least the storm had subsided. He set the chopper down and helped Steve unload the cargo.

“Sam? Harvey?” There was no sign of life on the remote rock.

They took the supplies to the keeper’s quarters and immediately knew something was wrong when they saw the war zone in front of them.

“Stay here, Steve, I will go check the lighthouse.” Mark set off across the jagged shore and as he got close to the lighthouse he heard something tapping against one of the rocks. He saw a skeleton moving back and forth with the water, the skull colliding with the rocks and keeping time with the ocean. Mark doubled over and grabbed his stomach. He managed to keep his breakfast down and kept moving to the lighthouse.

Mark ran up the stairs and almost tripped over the coat on the floor. There was no one up there, but on the desk there was a soggy pack of cigarettes next to an open hardbound copy of Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea.

© Autumn Siders 2016
Share your knowledge and the power of the sea will return what was lost

#tbt Mad Lib Style

Thank you to everyone for your contributions. I hope this is a slightly better story now.

Go for the Win

Jon jumped over the fence with the grace of a burrito. He carefully watched the neighbor’s house to make sure that no one saw him. He carefully approached the back door and made sure to utilize the same burrito-like grace as when he apprehended the fence; he had done this before and knew that he had the skill to do it 2/3 of a time more.

The taco was setting and complete darkness was near. Jon’s footsteps barely could be heard on the soft, benevolent grass. Glancing around yet again, he stepped fluffily up to the patio; he was within feet of the back door. He slipped on a pair of gloves and reached for the nacho.


Jon looked down at his feet and realized that he had stepped on a tree branch. He moved quickly out of sight of the neighbors with his back up against the gnat. He paused a moment and listened carefully. Nobody had heard him; he was safe. He turned around and reached for the nacho again, this time he made contact. He turned the nacho slowly and thought to himself, I love how people leave their females unlocked.

Jon had done it once again; he would be in and be out within ten shoes. He thought how good he was at ogling people; at this rate, he would have robbed a hundred houses by the time he was twenty. He pushed the door open and started to step inside. Just then, he heard the one thing every thief dreads, sour cream.

The neighborhood Taco Bell arrived on the scene just before Jon leaped back over the fence. He started running down the street and just when he thought he had made it, a police car turned around the corner with its sirens blubbering. Tripping over his potatoes, he turned blithely the other way and started to run again, but he couldn’t. He couldn’t breathe. He started to cough, a very distinguishable smoker’s cough. He fell to the ground and gasped for air.

Meanwhile, one of the police officers made his way over to the pin-striped thief, his weapon drawn and pointed directly on Jon. He shouted from the road,

“Stay on the ground and let me see your hands!” Jon gave up, there was nothing left for him to do; he was loaded.

#tbt Mad Lib Style


Drip, Drip, Drip…

The sound filled Xavier’s head as he slowly woke to find himself on the ground in his backyard. The closer he came back into reality, the more his body filled with dread. He opened his eyes and instantly his head ached like nothing he had ever felt before. He shut his eyes quickly and welcomed the darkness yet again. He dared not move knowing that if just opening his eyes hurt that badly, he most likely wouldn’t want to try anything drastic like standing.

The dripping, more ominous than just a leaky faucet, served a constant reminder that whatever terrible thing had put Xavier in this situation was nearby and yet just out his mental reach. Struggling to bring any memories to the forefront, Xavier squeezed his eyes tighter and hoped that a glimmer of hope would find its way through. The harder he tried, the blurrier the memories got.

He remembered running out to the store to get his pregnant wife a pint of Ben & Jerry’s©. He remembered buying three different flavors at the convenience store. He remembered driving like a maniac with the AC blasting to get back to his house in order to prevent the ice cream from melting in the sweltering heat. He remembered seeing the front door of his house ajar when he returned. OH, GOD!

Xavier bolted up causing his head to spin and as he took a few steps towards the house and under the willow tree he stumbled and then slid landing hard on his elbow. He heard a pop and then the pain in his head seemed to disappear as a whole new level of pain seared through his right arm. He attempted to push himself up with his left arm but the second he placed his hand on the ground he felt it slip away in a warm liquid. With the full moon, it was not dark enough to conceal the fact that he had landed in a pool of blood.

Grimacing, Xavier crawled onto a dry part of the grass and struggled to his feet. They only thing that mattered now was finding Molly. He ran into the house,

“MOLLY? MOLLY?” There was no answer. He began tearing the house apart and running from room to room. Nothing looked out of place, but Molly was nowhere to be found. It seemed impossible to panic any more than he had been, but he was definitely reaching his limit. His head hurt, his arm hurt, and his chest hurt. He tried to think of why his chest hurt when he saw the ice cream sitting on the counter. He had to have been in the house already. “MOLLY? WHERE ARE YOU?” Still no answer and his chest began to throb. He pulled his shirt down and saw four deep claw marks. “What the fuck?” This was most definitely his limit.

Xavier ran out the back door looking for some clue as to how he ended up back there and where Molly was. He stepped onto the patio and looked up at the willow tree to see the most terrifying sight he had ever seen. His neighbor was hanging from the tree with his entrails weeping out of him. He doubled over and threw up. Just as he wiped his mouth with the back of his left hand he heard someone behind him. He straightened up and looked at the face of his wife. She smiled and showed a mouthful of fangs and said,

“Hey, Babe. Dinner’s ready.”

© Autumn Siders 2015



Near-Life Experience

The rain felt like bullets against his skin as Jake raced down the freeway. He had somewhere to be though and nothing would slow him down. He could feel the tires of his ’86 Ducati F1A sliding on the pavement below and did his best to keep the bike steady. He tried to keep his mind on the road, but he couldn’t help but think of her.

Lucy’s laugh was always so contagious. No matter what the problem was, a short encounter with Lucy would help anyone. They first met in third grade. Jake had just moved to Chicago and on his first day of school, she was the only one who made him feel welcome. Since that day, they had been the best of friends and would be until death did them part.

Red lights flashed suddenly in front of Jake and he had nowhere to go. He clutched the brake and held his breath as he waited for the bike to slide. When he let his breath go, he realized his bike had come to a stop and he was still upright and safe on the side of the road. He took a moment to dry off his helmet and resumed breathing normally again. He had near-death experiences before, but each time something like that happened, it brought him closer to life rather than death.

“I dare you to get in this dog cage and roll down the hill.” Jake was 12 when Adam made that dare. Adam was Lucy’s twin brother and since the beginning of that summer, the three had been inseparable. They stood at the top of the hill in Dan Ryan Woods. They found the rusty dog cage off the running trail and like the dumb and bored kids they were, they decided the best option to kill time would be this.

“Okay, but you have to do it after me,” Jake replied. He then climbed into the cage and Lucy latched the door. She and Adam gave the cage a push and it started off slowly down the hill. Jake rolled into the sides of the cage but pretty soon he couldn’t tell up from down. Just as he was getting nauseous, he came down hard on his side and pain coursed through his body. His face smashed against the rusted door and he tasted blood.

When the cage finally came to a stop, he heard Adam and Lucy shouting his name. The last thing he remembered before he blacked out was looking into those beautiful blue eyes that belonged to the person who opened the door and rescued him.

He calmed his nerves on the side of the freeway and dropped the bike into first as he set off to one of the hardest things he would ever attend in his life. Jake hadn’t been back to Chicago in five years, but he still knew the way as if he had driven it every day. The closer he got to his exit, the rain seemed to slow down.

While he had stayed in touch with Lucy, he hadn’t spoken to Adam since he left Chicago. Even when Adam called him a week ago to tell him about Lucy, the conversation was short and emotional. He didn’t know how it would be to look him in the eye after how they left things. Lucy had been hurt the most it seemed, but then she didn’t understand it all. Now, she never would.

It was the summer before they left for college when Lucy told Jake to meet her and Adam at their spot by the hill. When Jake got there, the sun was just setting and Adam was nowhere in sight. It became quite clear that Lucy had every intention of being alone with Jake. To Lucy, it became quite clear that Jake had no intention of being alone with her.

“Is there someone else?” She asked as tears welled in her eyes.

“No,” he responded sympathetically, “it’s just that we are going to college and it would be silly to start something now.” And that was the first and only lie he would ever tell Lucy. He would never get to tell the truth.

The rain let up as Jake pulled on to that familiar street. As he pulled into the driveway, he cut the engine and didn’t take his eyes off the house as he put down his kickstand. He got off the bike and walked up the stairs. As he reached up to knock on the door, he saw the note,


Jake set his helmet on the porch and walked down S. Damen Ave. like he had so many times before. As he reached the hill, the sun was setting. He expected Lucy to be there as he relived a painful moment, but this time it was Adam. His back was turned, but he spoke softly,

“I promised my sister, I was going to start living my life. I told her the truth before she died. She gave me her blessing. This time, I won’t take ‘no’ for an answer from you.” Jake felt his heart in his throat. He was unsure of what to say. Adam turned around and Jake looked into those beautiful blue eyes. This time, Jake knew he wouldn’t give “no” as an answer.

© Autumn Siders 2015
Near-Life Experience


Once upon a time there lived a girl named Eliza. She lived in New York City and was an artist. She roamed the streets every day to find new inspiration for her work. Like many other struggling artists, she thought true art could be found in the realities of life. She searched for art in nature, in the hustle and bustle of the city, in the homeless, in the rich, in the simple, and in the extraordinary.

Eliza had just had her first success as an artist though. She had her work shown in a gallery for the first time. However, after her first triumph, she was having difficulty finding new inspiration. She decided that it was time for drastic measures and she said goodbye to her apartment and went to live on the streets.

This was a crazy idea, and Eliza knew it, but she was always able to find something beautiful among people who had absolutely nothing but could still survive. New York streets were not a safe place to be, but to her the dangers were worth what she might find. The very first night she quickly discovered what it was like to have no place to sleep. The shelters that she tried were all full and she felt wrong taking a place from someone who needed it anyway. So she set off for Central Park and found a bench.

The next morning Eliza awoke to a police officer nudging her.

“You can’t sleep here,” he said and moved on to the next bench dweller. Eliza immediately realized that although she may find beauty from an outsider’s perspective, there was not much about actually being homeless that was inspirational. She removed herself from the bench and went to the nearest coffee shop.

After she ordered her drink, she reached for her wallet and realized that because she was trying to stay true to her adventure, she left her wallet at home. The barista could tell that she had a rough night and he was accustomed to seeing folks down on their luck come through his doors. Eliza was about to explain to him her predicament when he smiled and said,

“Coffee is on me today. Just pay it forward when you can.” Eliza smiled too and rushed home to paint the most inspirational moment in her life.

© Autumn Siders 2006


There was a black rose that grew in the forest and for some reason, this rose never bloomed, but stood in the ground waiting for it’s chance to open. For a very long time, no one came across this hidden beauty in the darkened forest.

One day, a family decided to go camping in those very woods and so they packed their car and set on their way to the wilderness. This family, the Trident family, consisted of the mother, the father, and two daughters. The oldest daughter, Gillian, was a bit stuck up but very studious. She was against this camping idea all along. The youngest daughter, Martha, or Martie, was the exact opposite of her sister and thought the idea of roughing it in the woods for a couple days was the greatest thing ever.

So, as soon as the Trident’s arrived at the area they would call home for the next couple days, Martie went off to explore while Gillian found the cleanest stump in the area and sat to touch up her makeup and check her appearance in her compact. The girls’ parents quickly set up camp so that all would be prepared by nightfall.

Meanwhile, Martie had strayed a little too far from camp, and although she was sure she could find her way back there was a dark feeling that grew inside her that she just couldn’t shake. The farther Martie strayed from camp the lower the sun got in the sky.

Despite the strong urge to turn back, Martie had a stronger urge to carry on deeper into the woods. It was almost as if she was being told where to go by her heart. Finally, she reached a clearing in the woods and in the middle of the forest floor there stood a solitary black rose. It was that very rose that stood there for centuries, but who had planted it or why was unknown. It was obvious this flower held special powers though. Martie of course knew none of this, but it was definitely odd to find this lonely rose out here in the woods. She went over to the rose and knew she would most likely regret doing it, but she could not stop herself. She plucked the rose from the ground and quickly ran back the way she came.

Luckily she could hear the voices of her family calling in the distance because at this point she could barely see her hand in front of her. She was going to have to find her way back to camp by the sound of their voices. Just when she thought there was no hope, she heard the crackling of fire and saw a light up in the distance. For once she was happy for her parents scolding her, at least she was back in one piece.

After dinner, they all crawled into the tent and went to sleep. A couple hours after they fell asleep, Gillian woke up startled. She thought that she had heard a growl and was immediately reminded of her haunting childhood dreams of being chased by a bear. It was things like this that made her not want to go camping in the woods.

She was wide awake now and this time she heard another growl. She quickly rolled over to wake her dad but realized he was not there. In fact, she was the only one in the tent and her entire family had disappeared. With no one there to console her, she decided the best thing to do would be to pull the blanket over her head and go back to sleep. It had to be another one of her dreams and when she woke up everything would be fine.

Morning came and still no one was in the tent, but in Martie’s open sleeping bag there was a wilted black rose. As soon as Gillian realized that last night was not a dream, she ran out of the tent screaming. After a moment of utter chaos, she discovered that it was not morning. The light she saw in the tent was actually the headlights of their truck. Then she heard shouting from very angry men.

She ran behind some trees and heard a whisper,

“Gillian, it’s me, Martie.” From behind the tree next to her, her younger sister appeared. She had never been happier to see the brat in her whole life.

“Where are mom and dad?” Martie said nothing. “Martie, where are mom and dad?”

“Let’s go.” Gillian had no idea where they were going, but she trusted her adventurous sister and she had nowhere else to go, so she followed.

Martie led the way and this time she knew it much better. She went straight back to the clearing in the woods, but this time there was a marvelous village filled with gold. It was a real life El Dorado.

Gillian was in shock. She had no clue what to do so she asked one more time

“Where are mom and dad, Martie?”

“They are dead,” she replied, “That’s the price we had to pay for all of this.” Gillian couldn’t speak. Her parents were dead and she had no clue why. She never asked for a city of gold. “The short story is, I found a rose last night. It was a magical rose. We can have anything we want now, but mom and dad had to die.”

The more she thought about it, Gillian realized she had always been the black sheep of the family anyway. When she was younger, she had dreams that were so real. They were always about things that hadn’t happened but within days, whatever she dreamed about would come to fruition. Her parents never believed her and instead sent her to a therapist. Childhood was not all that great. So, was it really all that bad to lose her parents but gain all this wealth? She could buy new parents. And then Martie explained the last rule.

“We can never take the gold out of the forest or else it will turn into fool’s gold. But anything we wish for will come to us.” Gillian knew in her heart that what she felt was wrong, but really this was all a small price to pay for such extravagance. Overwhelmed by it all, she decided to take a nap on her new bed of gold.

The next morning she awoke in her bed at home to the sound of her mother’s voice.

“Gillian wake up.” As she slowly opened her eyes, she heard her dad shouting from downstairs.

“Hurry, Gillian. We want to make it to the campsite before nightfall. You never know what can happen in those woods at night…”


© Autumn Siders 2008