We Remain

I was ghostwriting a nonfiction book for most of February, so I didn’t have much time to work on my own stuff. Here is something I wrote a while back and just dusted off. It’s a dialogue inspired by Europe After the Rain II by Max Ernst. I hope the formatting holds up here!


“We Remain” – by Lori Laleh Goshert


You’re real!

Are you? I didn’t think…

I haven’t seen anyone in three days! I mean, you know, not alive…

Me neither. I thought I was the only one.

Me too.

Everyone is gone…

I know.

How did you survive?

My brother pushed me into the basement when they came. Then I heard him… I heard him… he didn’t even sound human when they were… when they… killed him. I passed out. When I woke up, the house was torn apart and everyone was dead. I had fallen behind a pile of boxes. They missed me.

I was fixing the crawl space. Somehow they overlooked it. I wish…I wish…

That they killed you too?


I know. I should have gone to help my brother.

You couldn’t have saved him.

I know. But…

Um… can you… ?


I’m sorry. But can you hold me? Just for a second.

Of course, come here.

Thank you.

Seems I needed it too. I can’t believe they’re gone…


So many bodies! Bodies without…

I think they took all the heads with them.

But why?

I don’t know.

Do they eat them?

Maybe. Or experiments. On our brains?

Ugh! I don’t want to think about it. Did you see them?

Not up close, only from the window before my brother…

I saw them. One came close to the opening but didn’t see me.

Those devil horns! That’s all I remember.

Yes, they had to be at least two feet long. Their skin looked thick and rough like an elephant’s, only slate blue. And they had red eyes, sharp claws, and teeth like crocodiles, and…

And what?

They were intelligent. I don’t understand how monsters that disgusting could plan such a thing. They exterminated us like rats. Like rats!

What do you think they were looking for? What did they want here?

I don’t know. They took the… the heads. The human heads, I mean.

I didn’t see many dead animals, did you? They just wanted us.

You saw what they did to those mountains, right?

They tore them up. As if they were cardboard.


Were they looking for something? Metals?

That could be. Maybe they’re in short supply where they come from.

Where’s that though; Mars? Hell?

Well, not Earth. Their ships… so advanced! So strange-looking! But…are they coming back?

It doesn’t seem like it. They didn’t leave anything behind. Not a trace. I think they got what they wanted, whatever it was.

I hope you’re right. Not that it matters much, really.

Do you think there’s anyone else left?

I don’t know. There’s no phone signal, no Wi-Fi, no radio, nothing is working.

We were watching the news, just an hour before… before they came. There was a broadcast from Japan. They talked about UFO sightings, and said there were reports of some strange creatures on Hokkaido, but then there was a huge crash and the program cut off. The reporters must be dead. Our TV stopped working about ten minutes later.

So it’s not just here then.

No. But can it really have happened everywhere? The whole world, like this?

Maybe. How can we know?

We have to get away from here. We can’t bury all of them and there will be diseases.

Yes, and I bet the dogs will go mad. They will be dangerous.

Did they destroy all the mountains?

Not all of them. I passed a few that were untouched. You were probably right about the metals.

I suppose we have to go there then.

Yes. Hopefully the water will be clean, at least.

We can take a truck, fill it with food… should we look for anyone else?

We’ll look on the way, but I don’t think we can wait any longer to get out of here.

We need guns. Because of the dogs. And the wolves. Whatever the hell else.

We’ll take some. Do you know how to shoot one?


I do. I’ll show you.

And then what?

What do you mean?

Should we try to rebuild?

For what? For us?

Maybe we’ll be able to find more people. In a few months, or years.

It’s possible, but do you think it’s worth the effort after this?

Well… probably not. No, I don’t think so.

Me neither.

Humanity can just end with us.

Good idea.  

*Image courtesy of WikiArt

From the Ashes


From the Ashes (excerpt from my short story)

Zora felt the hot pressure flood behind her eyes again and willed the images away. The taxi would arrive soon and there was no time to redo her makeup.

The sound of a news broadcast caught Zora’s attention as she waited in the lobby. “His life is pretty well ruined.” The TV screen displayed the curly-headed and chinless face of Brock Turner, round eyes staring blankly into the camera. “Those who say, ‘Oh, he’s not really being punished,’ it seems to me, are missing the point.” Zora frowned and dug her short fingernails into the underside of her arm and shuddered as the action awoke a stray memory of other fingers clutching that same arm. A flash of yellow from outside pulled her back and she hurried out the door.

As the taxi crawled through the traffic toward Midtown Atlanta, Zora gazed out the windows, taking in her surroundings. She filed each image away like a keepsake in her mind, inwardly preparing answers to questions no one would care enough to ask her. Zora saw glossy-leafed magnolias in full bloom, the silver of ultra-modern condominiums, banks, and hotels, red stone churches, a wall plastered with concert posters – one of them depicting a woman in chains…

Zora willed herself to stay focused, and looked out the other window. “I’ll see you later tonight,” she whispered to herself as the car glided past the Fox theatre.

After the Eclipse – Excerpt from Chapter 2

Here’s another excerpt from my novella, After the Eclipse (I might change the title). I’m still in the rough draft stages and plan to do the revisions this month.


It was just getting dark when Victoria returned to the hotel. She tossed her bag onto the bed and flopped down after it, not bothering to turn on the light. She closed her eyes and rubbed her temples for a few moments. Looking up and seeing the open curtains, she rose to close them and froze. Two feet from the glass stood a tall man with long, pale hair and very white skin. His crystal blue eyes bore into hers and fixed her in place. Victoria felt as if her bones were turning to ice. She stared back at him. He had elliptical pupils, like a cat’s. They expanded as he gazed at her, the black overtaking the aquamarine. Victoria shook herself and reached for her phone. The moonlight glinted off something round, blue, and shiny that hung from a chain around his neck. The stranger’s cape and tunic whipped in the wind as he turned. Another figure emerged from the shadows and they strode away together.

Victoria sank back onto the bed as the police came on the line.

* Image courtesy of Viktor Titov; check out more of his work here: https://www.artstation.com/artwork/scary-forest

After the Eclipse – Part 1

Happy Halloween! This started out as a Coursera assignment, but I’ve joined NaNoWriMo to finish it. Here’s the beginning:


After the Eclipse – Part 1

Victoria West peered over the edge of the boat into the inky water below. The muddy smell of lake and gasoline filled her nose as she beamed the flashlight in a slow arc. Nothing unusual broke the surface or disturbed the ripples from their wake. The underwater cameras only showed waving pondweed.

William Green appeared at her side. “I wish I knew what to look for.”

“You and me both.” Victoria sighed and reviewed the facts up until that night:

The half-devoured swan that had washed up on Mr. Jones’s property on Big Barbee Lake, prompting him to call Green. The sudden drop in the fish population of the intricate chain of glacier lakes surrounding Big Barbee. A fisherman was reported missing by his elderly mother after his boat had been found the day before – with gashes in it that looked as if they’d been made by long, sharp teeth. And, just because the situation – and this town – wasn’t weird enough already, a peculiar-looking man had been hanging around. Mr. Jones’s neighbor had observed him walking straight into the lake until the water closed over his head.

Hearing a splash, Victoria looked up and lifted her flashlight. A small ripple; must have been a fish jumping. Sweat trickled down her back. Even this late at night, the air was sticky. An otherworldly buzzing indicated a nearby group of frogs vocalizing in unison.

As the hardest-working research biologist in the Indianapolis DNR, she was called in after the fishing boat had washed up. Green and the other conservation officers were stumped. The giant tooth marks in the swan carcass and the boat did not match up with any of the local predators – none of them were that big, for one thing, and there wasn’t anything larger than pike or snapping turtles in the lake itself. But there had also been traces of venom. Victoria was hoping to see something, anything, on the lake that would give her a clue as to what had attacked the boat and consumed the swan, and done – what? – to the missing fisherman.

“Maybe it’s Al Capone.”

Victoria turned to face Jeff, who was driving the boat. He leered at her, cigarette dangling from his lips. He raised his eyebrows and the light reflected off his blond beard stubble. She was used to men noticing her ass long before her brain, but they were usually less obvious about it.


“The strange guy that’s been hanging around. You do know that Al Capone haunts the Barbee Hotel, right? He sits at the bar, and people also see cigar smoke coming from the room he used to stay in.”

Green whirled around. “Oh please, Jeff. I don’t give a flock about some idiot wandering into the lake. I just want to know what ate the swan and the fish, and it wasn’t Al Capone or any other of your ghosts.”

“Well, Green, you can just –”

A jolt knocked Victoria and Green off their feet, and made Jeff drop his cigarette into his lap and howl.

“What the hell was that?” Green shot up and looked over the edge. A mass of shiny blue scales was disappearing beneath the surface. Victoria stared at the underwater camera. Undulating gracefully away from them was a snakelike figure, at least 15 feet long and as wide as a refrigerator. Pointed scutes adorned its midnight blue back, and delicate fins fanned out from its lighter underside. Its tail waved left and right as its silhouette dwindled.

“No, no, no. That can’t be real.”

“No,” Victoria agreed with a shiver. “Someone must’ve made it. And very well. But…the bites?”

Green’s phone was ringing, but he stood, transfixed.

“You might want to answer that.”

He flinched. “Jeff, it’s moving towards Little Barbee. Follow it! Hello? Y-yes? We’ll be right there.”

Green’s form was rigid against the dark sky. “Victoria. They found Bob.”


Green opened his mouth, closed it, and shook his head.


* Image courtesy of: http://www.ontariopics.com/Cranberry-Lake/Cranberry-Lake-at-Night-1109.html

The Eternal Problem of Colors

This was written from the POV of Vincent Van Gogh, with the help of his letters to get an idea of how he spoke (at least in translation). The title comes directly from one of his letters and the last line was his last words.


The Eternal Problem of Colors

En plein air
Let’s plant our easels
Together against the wind!
Migrated to the south to find
My Japanese dream in Provence
Raving mad oleanders shadowed by
A funereal cypress under a yellow sky
We mad wretches delight in our eyesight
Play Wagner in Louis XV green and malachite
Wheat fields, golden to red and smelling of thyme
Olive trees shift from silver-grey to blue, now black.
The power to create is greater than my life,
To make my jealous pictures speak!
The night you left is a blank in my mind
All painters are mad but the doctor
Is more ill than the artist.
The sadness will last forever.

Image is Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh, found at: https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=25498286

Cut and Dried

Spring in Sarajevo 021

Cut and Dried (excerpt from the beginning)

I opened my body to the sun one morning. Warm, emerald life pulsed through me and the morning dew dried on my skin. In our birthplace, we are cared for every day. Humans in hats make sure we have enough water and that there are no green insects devouring our flesh. My only worry is that I often hear sharp cries as our comrades down the line are severed and taken. This cold, silver “snip” invades my dreams at night, shivering me until the sun caresses me awake.

I am told that we’re often portrayed as the paramours of nightingales, but I have never seen one. The only birds that come here are pigeons and they, no devotees of beauty, ignore us. The bee is a much more likely candidate, although he doesn’t sing well. Bees are pleasant company and gentle as they take what they need, but afterward they just fly off, tipsy, buzzing their goodbyes as they return to their queen.

Misophonia – in five voices

This is a ghostwriting exercise in which I attempted to write an article using the voices of five famous people or characters – one for each paragraph. The voices are those of Christiane Amanpour, Whoopi Goldberg, Stephen Colbert, Alex Jones (yes, I went there), and Bernard Black. Can you match the voices with their paragraphs?

pjimage (1)

Let’s talk about misophonia. No, it doesn’t mean eating miso soup while talking on the telephone – but that would really annoy someone with misophonia. The word misophonia comes from Greek and means “hatred of sound.” It’s also called “sound-rage,” which coincidentally was the name of my metal band in college. A person with misophonia has intense emotional and physical reactions when they hear certain trigger sounds. Doctors aren’t sure what causes it, and it’s difficult to diagnose because it’s a mental problem and not a hearing problem – a person with misophonia has normal hearing, but sounds affect their brain or nervous system differently. It was officially recognized in 2001 – before that, it was just called being a social curmudgeon.

People suffering from misophonia are triggered by many different noises. Roughly 80% of triggers are mouth noises, such as gum chewing, slurping, crunching, talking with one’s mouth full, sucking and loud breathing. Repetition is also a factor, and people with misophonia often develop visual triggers as well – merely seeing someone pacing, chewing silently, fidgeting or bouncing their legs may trigger a reaction. Reactions are both emotional and physical, and can include intense rage, anxiety or panic, a desire to cause physical harm, disgust or hatred, leaving the room or dinner table and even suicidal thoughts.

If someone you love has misophonia, know that they really do mean it when they say a noise bothers them. Their emotions are valid, and their needs are valid. If they ask to eat in another room, be sympathetic. It’s not that they don’t love you; it’s just that the trigger noises are too much for them and they might be afraid of acting on the emotions that come up and going crazy in front of you. Don’t take it personal – they don’t see it that way. Remember they will have to deal with thoughtless people every day who won’t take them seriously, so make sure you’re not one of them. Even though more people are becoming aware of this disorder, lots of people still respond like this:

“We live in a world of trigger warnings. They’ve got these millennials all coddled with their safe spaces, and microaggressions, and PC jargon. That’s the old news. The new news is that just eating your dinner could be a trigger for some people. Misophonia, they say. What is misophonia? It’s an excuse for so-called sufferers to whine about everyone else. What’s next, a war on chewing gum like Singapore? This laundry list of phony disorders is just the beginning. Next we’ll have people claiming disability just because they can’t cope with real life. Total bull! The doctors who diagnose all this crap are puppets of the government, and what they want is a dumbed-down population that can be easily controlled.”

Ignore rubbish like this. You need a pair of noise-cancelling headphones and a place where people will leave you alone. There is no cure for misophonia, but you can live a perfectly normal life if you stay away from filthy monsters who eat crisps in your space. Some clinics have developed programs like counseling, sound therapy and exposure therapy. Join social media support groups so you can complain about your triggers without actually having to go out among people. If you need any medication, just ask your therapist – or the local pub.