Evening Update–Blog Hop July 2019

I’m repurposing another older post for this month’s Hop. I had something in the works, but it didn’t come together in time. Alas.

This story was originally posted as N is for News on April 16, 2019.

Evening Update

(Music)

VoiceOver: This is Channel 12 Advantage News, your news leader, with the Eleven O’Clock report. (Music fades)

Anchor Gary Kline: Good evening, I’m Gary Kline. In breaking news tonight, residents of Westfield have been shocked by what some are calling a military incursion in their town, and what others are calling an alien invasion. Kate Sanders is in Westfield tonight with a live report. Kate?

(Live Feed)

Reporter Kate Sanders: Thanks Gary. I’m here in Westfield where residents were shaken up today. First, they say, something from the sky crashed in the hills just outside of town. Now, the military has that area cordoned off, and some people are smelling a coverup.

news-426892_1280(Run Video Package)

Reporter Kate Sanders: Westfield is a sleepy little town with one gas station, one stoplight, and a lot of heart. Residents here are like things to be reliable. Predictable. They say Westfield has been the same for over sixty years. But today, something very different happened, and residents don’t seem to like it.

Jimmy Michaels: We were out on the play ground? At school? And I looked up and saw it, like a black missile thing! It was super cool! So I pointed and my friend Billy looked, and then everybody looked. But mostly it was past by then. And then we saw the smoke? And then two fighter jets went by and Miss Connelly made us all go back inside, even though the bell didn’t ring yet. It wasn’t fair. But it was super cool!

Bob Smith: Well there was this sound, almost like a motor, but screechy, you know? So I ran out of my barber shop and into the street to see what it was. And there was a trail of smoke up in the sky, and then I could feel it when everything shook. Sumpin’ crashed out there. They say it was a jet crash. That’s why the army come out. But I don’t think so. It just don’t seem right.

Reporter Kate Sanders: Major Vance Martell held a brief news conference just after Five O’Clock this evening.

Major Vance Martell: This afternoon at approximately 1:25, a military aircraft crashed. We presume both pilots on board were lost. Those names are being withheld, pending notifications. The area surrounding the crash site will be off-limits to all but military personnel as we investigate the crash. There are concerns about fuel being released, and so to ensure the safety of the public, we have blocked off roughly a one square mile area. We understand that this may cause some concerns to the local community, but as the crash site was away from all population centers, we believe that any inconvenience to residents will be minimal.

Local police are cooperating with our operations, and we ask that members of the community follow all instructions from police and military as we work to investigate and recover the downed aircraft. That’s all I have for now.

(End Video Package)

Reporter Kate Sanders: Major Martell didn’t take any questions, Gary. But we are hoping to have new information sometime tomorrow. Meanwhile, speculation continues over what, exactly, crashed in these hills.

ufo-609602_1280Hold on. Jim—did you see that?

Gary, I’m asking Jim, my camera man, to zoom in on something. Can you see those lights? Those blue lights on the horizon just appeared. They seem to be hovering at or near the crash site, and the … Oh, wow. Oh my gosh. There seems to be something … something happening. The ground is vibrating, and all the hair on my arms just stood up. It’s like a massive static build up just … Jim, get that! Gary? Can you see that? There appears to be some kind of beam or laser coming from the light. The hovering … West … on the … Martell … tary action … coming down …

(End Live Feed)

Anchor Gary Kline: Kate? We seem to have lost communication with Kate Sanders, our reporter. Possibly some kind of electronic interference. We will get back to her just as soon as we re-establish that connection.

Until then, let’s check in with Stormin’ Stan Sylvester at the weather desk…

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Copyright Notice: Please note that I fully assert my right to be associated as the author of this story, and while it is complete, it may not be finished. This story may be subject to alteration at the author’s discretion. Please do not copy, quote, or post this story or excerpts anywhere in any format. You are, however, free to share the link with anyone who might be interested.

Links

perpetualbloghop

I hope you’ll take the time to read the other stories in this Hop. These are some great writers and wonderful people. And if you like what you read, I hope you’ll consider joining their lists too. The world is a richer place when there are more stories to tell.

Please note, if you find links that don’t work, try again later. Sometimes it takes a little time to get the gremlins worked out.

  1. Evening Update by Elizabeth McCleary  >> YOU ARE HERE <<
  2. Allies, by Eli Winfield
  3. The Salem Witch Trials and What We Can Learn From Them by Amaliz Tenner, Class 4c, by Katharina Gerlach
  4. The Fairest, by Nic Steven
  5. Something About Mary, by Bill Bush
  6. Grumpy Old Harpies, by Juneta Key
  7. The Goddess of Wine, by Vanessa Wells
  8. A Melody in A Grotto, by S S Prince
  9. Say Hello to Chris Bridges, Supporting Storytime Quarterly Blog Hop
  10. Tears and Toil, by Barbara Lund
  11. Coming Soon:, by Karen Lynn
  12. Home Repairs, by Jason Gallagher
  13. The Robot Accomplice, by Janna Willard
  14. I – The Magician, by Raven O’Fiernan

Big Enough–Blog Hop April 2019

This month–heck, this whole year–has gotten away from me without much productivity to show for it. So far.

I looked at the calendar and realized that, oops, the Blog Hop was upon me and I didn’t have a story ready and no chance at all that I’d have time to pull one together. So I went prospecting. I found this story that I wrote several years back and decided to re-use it here. It’s not available in print anywhere–it was a blog exclusive.

So here it is again.

For those who have been following me for some time, please note that I have a new email server. Only a handful of you have signed up to my new list, so if you want to get occasional updates from me in your inbox, please join me!

And please, think about clicking through to the other stories by the other writers on the hop. You might find a story that changes your life. Seriously… you never know! 😀

Big Enough

“I’m not a baby.” Dylissa muttered to herself as she stomped through the woods. “I’m seven-and-a-half years old, and I’m BIG ENOUGH!” She shouted the last two words at nobody in particular.

In fact, Dylissa being big enough was, in large part, what she was proving to everybody by running away. At seven-and-a-half, Dylissa was braver than many who were twice, or even three-times, as old and as big as she was.

The problem, in her eyes, was that nobody ever let her do anything. When her brother Alpin went to sword practice, Dylissa was sent to the kitchen to help Cook make biscuits. When her sister Lexine trained on horses, Dylissa was sent to the governess to practice her reading.

Dylissa found the differences in their training hugely unfair, despite the fact that everyone told her that when Alpin and Lexine were seven-and-a half they had to do kitchen chores and lessons, too. “It’s just not fair,” she grumbled. And as she grumbled, she wandered further into the forest.

Presently, as seven-and-a-half-year-olds often do, Dylissa found that she was tired and her feet hurt. She found a nice pile of leaves beneath a tree, collapsed onto it, and felt tears sting her eyes.

She scrubbed at her cheeks, willing herself not to cry, when a great rumbling shook the woods around her. She looked around warily, wondering what could have made the noise. In the dim light of dusk, a flicker of amber light between the trees drew her gaze.

Fire? She decided she should go check; fire could destroy the entire forest. dragon-29761_1280

Hurrying towards the light, Dylissa soon found herself in a small clearing, facing the smallest dragon she could imagine. The beast shimmered a shimmery red over its green scales, and it blew small but intense flames out it’s bulbous nose. It was about the size of her father’s hunting dog.

Covering her mouth to stifle a nervous giggle, Dylissa inched closer to the fearsome creature. She couldn’t resist–it was just too cute.

When she was close enough, she reached over and gingerly patted the tiny dragon’s back. The animal turned yellow eyes toward her, causing Dylissa to take a step backwards. But as it moved towards her, she noticed that it had a limp.

A cloud of concern crossed the little girl’s face. “What’s ‘a matter?” Dylissa asked. The dragon held up a forepaw with a thorn wedged between two scaly toes. She forgot to be nervous as she quickly swooped forward and deftly pulled out the splinter.

As the sliver came free, a single drop of the dragon’s green blood smeared Dylissa’s fingers. She felt a tingle as her hand warmed. The dragon pushed it’s forehead against her arm and she was sure she could hear it… Thank you.

Just then she heard her name echoing through the forest.

“They’re coming for us,” she told her new companion. “They’re bigger than me, but I won’t let them hurt you.” She snatched up a nearby stick, held it aloft like a sword, and prepared to stand her ground against all foes.

“Dylissa!” Her father nearly ran to her, but stopped short as he noticed the weapon she held.

Frowning at her father, who was now surrounded by Alpin, Lexine, and several members of the household staff, Dylissa stood as straight as she could. “You can’t take him,” she said.

“I can’t take who?” Father’s eyes widened in shock as the mossy rock behind his youngest daughter lifted its head and blew a tiny spurt of flame in his direction.

Lexine screamed. Alpin drew his dagger. Someone collapsed in a heap; Dylissa suspected it was her governess.

“You can’t take him,” she repeated, brandishing her stick.

Father stared at her a moment, no longer looking surprised. Dylissa could tell when he decided. He got that look.

“Dylissa,” he said, “you are seven-and-a-half and I believe you’re big enough to train this beast. If you’re brave enough to try, we will call down the Beast Master and you will begin lessons next week.”

A smile split her face as she ran to her Father’s open arms, the miniature dragon on her heels.

Copyright Notice: Please note that I fully assert my right to be associated as the author of this story, and while it is complete, it may not be finished. This story may be subject to alteration at the author’s discretion. Please do not copy, quote, or post this story or excerpts anywhere in any format. You are, however, free to share the link with anyone who might be interested.

Links

perpetualbloghop

I hope you’ll take the time to read the other stories in this Hop. These are some great writers and wonderful people. And if you like what you read, I hope you’ll consider joining their lists too. The world is a richer place when there are more stories to tell.

Please note, if you find links that don’t work, try again later. Sometimes it takes a little time to get the gremlins worked out.
>> YOU ARE HERE << Big Enough by Elizabeth McCleary
Grumpy Old Demeter by Vanessa Wells
Say Please By J. Q. Rose
Provoking the Muse by Moira K. Brennan
It all Started… by Bill Bush
Zombies by Barbara Lund
Before The Dreams by Katharina Gerlach
To Wake A God by Juneta Key
The Sprite In The Well by Angela Wooldridge
Something  Different by Karen Lynn
0 – The Fool by Raven O’Fiernan

Duty–Blog Hop January 2019

This month’s story is shorter than my usual. Sci-fi this time around. I hope you like it as much as I do.

Duty

Klaxons blare. Red lights flash. The sound of running feet echoes from every direction.

Over the public address system, a gentle female voice speaks in tones completely at odds with the urgency of the alarm.

This is not a drill. The ship is under attack. All hands, please report to your designated duty stations.

I step out of the room and glance in both directions. Then I begin running, too. This is no time to be caught standing still.

This is not a drill.

At the intersection of each corridor I slow to be sure I’m not going to collide with someone, then continue running.

The ship is under attack.

My route would  seem random to someone not familiar with the ship’s architecture. Right. Left. Left. Straight. Right. Right. But I’ve been trained in the extensive security measures on this vessel, which include intentionally confusing layouts for crew quarters, work spaces, and even engineering access.

Saboteurs can’t damage what they can’t find.

All hands, please report to your designated duty stations.

After several minutes, the alarm stops sounding, though the lights continue to flash. The voice keeps repeating her message.

This is not…

I keep moving. Left. Left. Right. Straight.

…a drill. The ship…

Now I have the corridors to myself—all hands have presumably arrived at their duty stations.

Everyone but me. I am still making my way to the launch bay.

I’ve only been onboard for a week.

…is under attack.

I run, my breathing heavy. Up two decks. Through an access tube. Left. Right. Right.

All hands, please…

Crews are getting ready for multiple launches. They are preparing a return assault on enemy vessels.

…report to your…

I board a small ship. A shuttle, not a fighter. This vehicle was never meant for battle.

It doesn’t matter. I may as well be invisible for all the attention I get. They only see their own jobs.

…designated duty stations.

I’m in the silence of space when it happens–my shuttle suddenly surrounded by debris when an explosion tears a hole in the command module of the ship I’ve just evacuated.

Mission accomplished.

But I… I am still running. Back toward my designated duty station.

Running back home.

 

Copyright Notice: Please note that I fully assert my right to be associated as the author of this story, and while it is complete, it may not be finished. This story may be subject to alteration at the author’s discretion. Please do not copy, quote, or post this story or excerpts anywhere in any format. You are, however, free to share the link with anyone who might be interested.

Links

perpetualbloghop

I hope you’ll take the time to read the other stories in this Hop. These are some great writers and wonderful people. And if you like what you read, I hope you’ll consider joining their lists too. The world is a richer place when there are more stories to tell.

Please note, if you find links that don’t work, try again later. Sometimes it takes a little time to get the gremlins worked out.

  1. Duty, by Elizabeth McCleary **YOU ARE HERE**
  2. The Footnote, Karen Lynn
  3. The Monster Under The Bed, by Nic Steven
  4. Field Trip to the UFO Museum, by Bill Bush
  5. Scary Monsters and Other Friends, by Lisa Stapp
  6. Morning Has Broken, by Katharina Gerlach
  7. Good Honest Work, by Chris Wight
  8. Bad For Business, by Gina Fabio
  9. The Last Friday, by Raven O’Fiernan
  10. Lost And Found, by Angela Wooldridge
  11. Bia Trevi’s Worldly Eats, by Barbara Lund
  12. Hunting Bob, Vanessa Wells
  13. Don’t Drink The Water, by Juneta Key

 

The Ghost in My Yard–Blog Hop October 2018

Who doesn’t love a good, spooky story? I remember being a kid at sleepovers, trying to tell scary stories, but mostly just dissolving into giggles.

So for this installment of the Blog Hop, happening on Halloween, no less, it absolutely had to be something a little on the spooky side.

Lucky for me, I just submitted a story for Holly Lisle and Rebecca Galardo’s podcast, Alone In A Room With Invisible People. They took flash story submissions that had to be Halloween themed and 500 words, max. The two of them, plus Holly’s son, Mark, have recorded the best they received, as many as they could fit into a podcast episode. If the Halloween episode isn’t live yet, do check back. I’m expecting there to be some great stories there.

For your reading pleasure and chills, here’s the story I submitted. You’ll have to listen to see if it was selected, but you should probably listen anyway because it’s an awesome podcast!

 

The Ghost In My Yard

I first seen it when I was eight-years-old. It was after Mama got sick and died.

I was sitting on the front porch swing at Granny’s house and there it just was, over by the camellia bushes. There weren’t no camellias at the time, being that it was the cold days after the new year. That’s where it was all the same, looking grey and dim and tattered around the edges.

I didn’t know then what it was. Wouldn’t for a long time.

I sat there with a hole in my heart and a heaviness just about pulling me over. Somehow it got my attention so as I just couldn’t look away. I was sure it was my Mama come back to say goodbye.

After that, things got bad. Me and Daddy, we moved in with Granny since Daddy needed someone to watch me and Granny had extra rooms.

We was only supposed to be there for a little while; just until Daddy quit his sadness about Mama. I guess he kinda did that after Miss Natalie moved in with us, but she wasn’t no help. She and Daddy shared a taste for the sour mash, and when they was drinkin’ it, things was a whole lot worse.

 

I seen it again when I was eleven, a little clearer than the first time. I was standing in my room looking out at those same camellia bushes after Daddy and Miss Natalie wrecked the truck. We couldn’t have no proper funeral on account of they were pretty smashed up, but the minister said some words at the church.

I knew it couldn’t be Mama that time ‘cause Mama was long since gone. I went down to get a closer look, but it left before I found it. I just stood in the yard and smelled the camellias. Their scent hung in the cool spring air like a cloud.

 

The year I finished high school, Granny was old and tired. I was doing more for her than she was for me, by then. But it seemed right, somehow.

When I got home late from working at the filling station, I saw it again, hovering white and clear by those same bushes. The humidity didn’t break despite the dark, and the camellias smelled almost sickly sweet. Their scent followed me into the house where I found Granny. When they took away her body, they told me her heart failed.

 

Now the chill of the hallows is setting in and I finally understand.

The porch swing is old, it’s once white paint grey and chipped. I can still see the camellias from here, but they’re already turning brown.

I finally recognize what I always missed before. It’s there, by the bushes, near as bright as silver and wearing the face I see in the mirror every day.

My ghost is finally come to claim me.

Its’ no surprise. Not really.

I been dead inside a long time.

 

 

Copyright Notice: Please note that I fully assert my right to be associated as the author of this story, and while it is complete, it may not be finished. This story may be subject to alteration at the author’s discretion. Please do not copy, quote, or post this story or excerpts anywhere in any format. You are, however, free to share the link with anyone who might be interested.

Links

perpetualbloghop

I hope you’ll take the time to read the other stories in this Hop. These are some great writers and wonderful people. And if you like what you read, I hope you’ll consider joining their lists too. The world is a richer place when there are more stories to tell.

Please note, if you find links that don’t work, try again later. Sometimes it takes a little time to get the gremlins worked out.

  1. The Ghost in My Yard, by Elizabeth McCleary **YOU ARE HERE**
  2. Her Majesty, by Katharina Gerlach
  3. A Show Of Support (No story, just the links, but go say hello anyway!) Chris
  4. Black Moon, by Lauren M. Catherine
  5. Poe’s Heart, by J. Q. Rose
  6. Hanks A Lot, by Joe Bouchard
  7. In The Gray Lake, by Karen Lynn
  8. The Right Honorable Brotherhood of Spirits, Poltergeists and Ghosts, by Vanessa Wells
  9. Life of a Pumpkin, by Bill Bush
  10. Why Should I?, by Gina Fabio
  11. Reaper, by Juneta Key
  12. Snow White Tabloid Style, by Fannie Suto
  13. Starving Artist, by Samantha Bryant
  14. Halloween Dance, by Barbara Lund

Summer Siren–Blog Hop July 2018

I think I cut this one just a little too close for comfort. As of Monday afternoon, I had no story and no ideas. So I picked a title which became my prompt. Here’s the product of my last-minute, mad dash to complete a story.

I hope you like it.

Summer Siren

Halia scowled as dark clouds gathered over her island home. It was summer, and she wanted to be on the cliffs, watching as beautiful men on their beautiful sailing vessels skirted the reefs that ran below the surface of the deep blue water. In her dreams a sailor with golden hair, ruddy skin, and deep blue eyes beckoned to her. He sang songs of the sea and told tales of distant lands.

Halia watched for him.

Longed for him.

She knew he would come to her. She knew.

Neso did not approve. The matters of men are their own affair. The love of men leads only to despair. The rhyme was her sister’s mantra. Halia didn’t care. She saw the ships and their sailors and she was drawn to them, certain that their journeys would take them to exotic destinations far away. She liked to imagine what it would be like to go on an adventure across the sea.

“Maybe,” she had mused to herself on more than one occasion, “my blue-eyed sailor might some day come share tales from across the water. Maybe I could go with him. Maybe he could love me.” Desire bordering on desperation filled her soul.

She knew it was an empty wish.

Still, she watched the waves.

This day, what she saw surprised her.

It was not a sailing ship large enough to carry cargoes of silks and spices and wine. It was a smaller boat, a mere skiff by the looks of it. Not a vessel fit to be traveling this far out to sea.

Halia ran along the strand of sandy soil to a rocky outcropping. From that vantage point she would be able to see the boat more clearly.

More importantly, anyone on the boat would be more likely to see her. With the wind beginning to whip, she knew the tumbled boulders of her shoreline would be all but invisible. A ship large enough for fifty men would easily be grounded on those rocks. This tiny boat could be smashed to kindling.

She climbed until she could haul herself onto a broad, flat ledge. The heat of the stone soaked into her bare skin in spite of the storm that now threatened. A wall of grey rain loomed in the distance.

And there it was. A tiny white boat bobbed between waves that revealed and hid it in turn.

On its deck a single man worked to control the bobbing vessel. She could see his golden hair and his ruddy skin. And despite the wind, she could hear a deep, baritone voice ringing out clear and piercing.

Come to me, my bonnie lass
Come across the sea
For though I sail ten thousand leagues
Ever I’ll return to thee, my love
Ever I’ll return to thee

She knew in her heart that, could she see his face, she would fall right into his deep blue eyes.

Her toes curled against warm granite as the rain began. “I’m coming, my love. You have found me!” Her heart leapt and Halia followed.

***

“Halia? Halia!” Neso cried out for her sister as she picked her way along the rocky beach. Tears welled in her eyes as she chased a faint hope that her foolish sibling might have taken shelter in a grotto against the morning’s storm. She’d heard the song herself, so she knew. Her sister was lost forever.

Halia had answered the call of the siren.

 

Copyright Notice: Please note that I fully assert my right to be associated as the author of this story, and while it is complete, it may not be finished. This story may be subject to alteration at the author’s discretion. Please do not copy, quote, or post this story or excerpts anywhere in any format. You are, however, free to share the link with anyone who might be interested.

Links

perpetualbloghop

I hope you’ll take the time to read the other stories in this Hop. These are some great writers and wonderful people. And if you like what you read, I hope you’ll consider joining their lists too. The world is a richer place when there are more stories to tell.

Please note, if you find links that don’t work, try again later. Sometimes it takes a little time to get the gremlins worked out.

    1. Summer Siren, by Elizabeth McCleary **YOU ARE HERE**
    2. The Birch Tree, by Juneta Key
    3. The Zoning Zone, by Vanessa Wells
    4. Secrets, by Elizabeth Winfield
    5. Team Building Exercise, by Samantha Bryant
    6. Another Time, by J. Q. Rose
    7. Suds and Sclaes, by Eileen Mueller
    8. Beginning Again, by Karen Lynn
    9. Under the Bridge, by Katharina Gerlach
    10. Black and White, by Bill Bush

Hare–Blog Hop April 2018

Welcome, once again, to the Story Time Blog Hop. I hope you enjoy this round’s offering. Don’t forget to check out the links to the additional stories below!

Hare

Clementine changed as quickly as she could and slipped out the back of her hut. It wasn’t the best night to be out, what with the rain and all. A definite chill hung in the air despite the coming of Spring. Fortunately, the fur that now cloaked her would protect from the elements. Besides, the Elemental that sought her, a vengeful wood sprite, would never recognize her as a hare.

She honestly didn’t even know what that sprite was so upset about. There were plenty of trees. How was she to know that particular tree was so important? Sprites don’t hang out shingles to announce their presence. All Clementine knew was that it was old and gnarled and looked like it would make fine firewood.

It had, too. She was right about that.

She supposed her own home might as well be firewood now, too. That sprite, nasty fairy, had called on the wind to circle her house. Near enough knocked the blessed thing down. Near enough destroyed or swept away all her notes and papers. Near enough dashed Clementine’s hopes of ever being more than a simple shape shifter.

At least she was still that. The angry sprite had surely meant to kill her. There was fire in her eyes—never a good sign on a wood sprite, touchy as they could be about fire near their trees. So before the sprite’s wind could catch her scent, Clementine had shifted to a jackrabbit. Low and fast, she’d slipped out and watched from nearby bushes as her house collapsed and was torn apart.

She nibbled on a sprig of ivy and pondered what to do.

A rustle in the nearby underbrush caught her attention, putting her on high alert. She paused only long enough to sense movement before she began to run for her life. A fox darted after her and was close on her heals.

Bare moments passed before Clementine started to feel the fatigue of the chase. Taking the form of a rabbit didn’t give her the speed or stamina of the creature. She’d been a hare numerous times, but never for long enough to build the proper muscles.

Lucky for her, she had enough of her own human wits about her to head for a nearby clearing. As soon as the open sky hung above her, she leapt. Strong, feathered wings spread to her sides and she flapped moonward.

Her transformation happened none too soon; she felt the fox’s breath on her feet as her eagle’s body lifted into the sky.

Strong.

Free.

And vengeful. In this guise, she resented the fox that wanted to eat her. She looked down and saw it with her enhanced vision, still skulking warily at the edges of the thicket. It probably wondered where it’s meal went.

With another screech, she dove toward the little fox that had seemed so large just moments before. She got closer and reached, but her talons just missed catching her hunter-turned-prey. She climbed toward the moon again as the russet fox disappeared back into the shadows. No fresh meat for this eagle. Not this night.

She rose above the trees, now, enjoying her flight. It was easy, as a bird, to forget the troubles below.

Before long, though, she needed to return to the ground. Human life called back to her and she knew if she didn’t answer soon, human sense would escape her and she’d be left in this form. Clementine circled once again, closing in on the location of her own secluded homestead. She spotted an opening in the trees and descended, alighting with surprising grace beside a fallen log.

As she began to change back to human form, recognition came. Not a fallen log, after all. Cut. A tree she herself had felled.

The tree belonging to…

Oh no!

She felt the magic a moment too late to avoid the wood sprite’s trap.

“You!” The sprite, appearing from the surrounding darkness, approached her frozen form. “Witch! You destroyed my home!”

Clementine struggled against invisible bonds, to no avail. “And you, Sprite, have surely returned the favor. Let me go!”

“It’s my duty to protect these woods, witch.” A dark smile spread across the wood sprite’s pale face as she stepped closer. “Today, they are protected from you.”

 

Copyright Notice: Please note that I fully assert my right to be associated as the author of this story, and while it is complete, it may not be finished. This story may be subject to alteration at the author’s discretion. Please do not copy, quote, or post this story or excerpts anywhere in any format. You are, however, free to share the link with anyone who might be interested.

Links

perpetualbloghop

I hope you’ll take the time to read the other stories in this Hop. These are some great writers and wonderful people. And if you like what you read, I hope you’ll consider joining their lists too. The world is a richer place when there are more stories to tell.

Please note, if you find links that don’t work, try again later. Sometimes it takes a little time to get the gremlins worked out.

Hare, by Elizabeth McCleary YOU ARE HERE
The Widow, by Vanessa Wells
A Snow White Morning, by Katharina Gerlach
The Letter, by Juneta Key
Trick or Treacle, by Angela Wooldridge
Sugar in the Raw, by Karen Lynn
Inferno, by Fanni Soto
Tae, by Barbara Lund
Interstellar Student Exchange, by Raven O’Fiernan
The Ghost Fighter, by Bill Bush

Grandma’s Legacy–Blog Hop January 2018

Grandma’s Legacy

I pull down the garland from over the door and coil it into a box. Sighing, I glance around the old shop. That seems to be the last of the Christmas decorations.

I’d been counting on a holiday boost to get caught up on the bills. Unfortunately between the online deals people were getting and the blizzard that shut down the city the last three days before Christmas… well, let’s just say that I didn’t have my happiest holiday.

I flip to door sign to open and turn the brass lock with a click. Tuesdays aren’t big sales days, but I can’t afford to miss out on even one potential customer. Not if I’m going to keep Grandma’s Legacy, the antique shop I’d inherited from my grandmother, alive for another year. No crowds come rushing in to greet me.

Then I pick up the box of decorations, same ones grandma used when this was her shop, and head for the store room. I’ll get it up to the storage loft later. For now I just need to have it out of the way. As I’m tucking it into a corner, the bell out front jangles. Probably a tourist still here from Christmas. Maybe they’re looking for a souvenir.

“Hello?” I hurry back out to the front of the store and don’t see anyone at first.

“Mornin’, lass!” The voice comes from near the door and as I approach I realize there’s a man standing there. He can’t be more than three feet tall. A holdover elf, maybe?

I almost giggle, then falter and catch myself. I wouldn’t want him to think I was laughing at him. “Can I help you find something? We have some great memorabilia from good ole Walter Falls.”

He takes a step closer and looks around the shop, then leans to look past me towards the back. “Actually, I was hoping to find Edna. Is she around?”

Grandma.

“Oh. I’m so sorry to tell you this. She passed away a couple of years ago.” I thought I was over the loss, but the disappointment on his face makes my breath hitch. “I guess you knew her?”

He took a deep breath before talking. “A bit. I promised her I’d be back one day. I guess I’m too late.”

“I really am sorry. Can I get you some tea? Grandma always taught me to keep the water hot.” I motioned to an antique armchair where he could sit, though he had to climb up to settle himself. “Constant Comment or Irish Breakfast?”

“Irish, if you please. Milk and sugar if you have it.”

I nodded and stepped to the side board where I kept an electric kettle on. He continued talking.

“I met Edna fifty years ago. Mistook me for an elf, almost.” He chuckled and I relaxed a little. “I suppose I can’t blame her, allowing for my short stature. And it was Christmas, after all.”

I brought over my best English Rose tea service and set it on a small table. The man paused to put three lumps of sugar in his cup which I then filled with tea. When he put up a hand I stopped pouring and he topped it off with milk.

“Thank you, young lady. So many these days forget the niceties of life.” He sipped at the cup and smiled. “Perfect.”

“Where did you meet Grandma?” Not a suitor. She’d have been long married to Grandpa by then.

“Why, right here in this shop. It looked a shade different then. Just bobbins and noggins, of course. Folks didn’t bother much with collecting antiques back then.” He waved his hand as if to clear his thoughts. “That doesn’t matter though,” he said. “What matters is that she saw me and, bright lass that she was, recognized the difference right away. No, not my size. I’m telling you, Edna had the rare gift of really knowing folks. Folks of all kinds.

“Though many call me elf, she saw the right of it straight away. Had me dead to rights, she did. But me? I tricked her. Wicked as I am, I did. Told her I’d be back with what I owed. Gave me word. People always forget to ask the time up front.” He seemed to be staring right into the past as he tipped back the last of his tea.

“I’m confused,” I said, squatting next to the chair so we could talk at eye level. “If you’d just met, what could you have owed her? Did you break something in the shop? I’m sure that was forgiven long ….”

He waved his hand. “No, lass. This is a deeper kind of owing.”He looked right in my eyes and nodded as if that made sense. “Most disappear in fifty years, but she’s still here.”

I frown at that. Did he forget?

“I don’t forget, girl,” he said as if he heard my thoughts. “None of the details nor my obligations.” He scooted off the chair and looked up, again catching my eyes. “Edna is right here in the heart and hands of her rightful heir. Consider my debt now paid.”

He handed me his empty cup. I smiled back. Paid his obligation by drinking my best tea. I put the cup on its tray. When I turned back, the man was gone.

“Sir?” I stood from squatting and walked around the shop, looking. He can’t have left. The bell didn’t chime. And yet… I walked all the way around the counter and when I got back where I started I noticed a small chest on the floor by the chair.

That definitely wasn’t one of mine. Something that beautiful would have sold right away, no matter how slow business was.

I tried to lift it, but it felt nailed to the floor so I lifted the lid instead. My knees buckled and I sat hard on the floor when I saw the gold coins inside. A note lay across the treasure.

Lass,
I gave my word and a Leprechaun always keeps his word.
My apologies for the delay in fulfillment, but it seems to me that these things always happen just when they should. Pardon the lack of a pot. Chests are a mite more convenient.
Blessings be yours, and may the luck of the Irish follow all your days.

I guess Grandma’s legacy is safe after all.

Copyright Notice: Please note that I fully assert my right to be associated as the author of this story, and while it is complete, it may not be finished. This story may be subject to alteration at the author’s discretion. Please do not copy, quote, or post this story or excerpts anywhere in any format. You are, however, free to share the link with anyone who might be interested.

Links

perpetualbloghop

I hope you’ll take the time to read the other stories in this Hop. These are some great writers and wonderful people. And if you like what you read, I hope you’ll consider joining their lists too. The world is a richer place when there are more stories to tell.

Please note, if you find links that don’t work, try again later. Sometimes it takes a little time to get the gremlins worked out.

  1. Grandma’s Legacy by Elizabeth McCleary **YOU ARE HERE**
  2. Dragonslayer by Barbara Lund
  3. Megan’s Virus by Karen Lynn
  4. Studenting by Chris Makowski
  5. I, The Magician by Raven O’Fiernan
  6. Growth Spurt by Bill Bush
  7. Mystical Manatee Park by J. Q. Rose
  8. Phased Out by Kami Bataya
  9. Snow White (17) MURDERED by K. M. Flint
  10. A Character Profile by Juneta Key
  11. Monstrous Monday by Fanni Soto

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Sanctuary–Blog Hop October 2017

I actually wrote this story a couple of years ago. I had intended to find somewhere to submit it, but never did. So here it is for your creepy enjoyment.

Fair warning… it is considerably darker than my usual fare and some may find it unpleasant or offensive. It’s horror, after all. Sue me. 😉

Sanctuary

He pushed through the entryway, his face hot with exertion and fear. Dear God, he was getting too old for this. Already exhausted, he blinked sweat from his eyes as he struggled to swing the heavy oaken door closed behind him. The grate of the hinges belied the frequency with which the door’s mass was moved. When he finally turned the lock, he allowed himself to collapse against its reassuring, worn surface. His breath came in ragged gasps.

The dark of the night is when the affliction of this city was illuminated most clearly, the unholy dead rising from their graves. And he—he alone—must hold them at bay.

“Bishop?” His heart raced at the voice. He hadn’t realized he wasn’t alone. “Father, is something wrong?” The Abbess had always unsettled him, more so since the creatures had come. He wished he understood why.

He took a moment to compose himself; tugged his frock into place, wiped at his forehead before noticing the grime on his sleeve. “All is well.” He couldn’t bring himself to say more. Despite his unnatural dislike for the woman, he had no intention of subjecting her to his terrors. God gave him this burden. The visitation. The instruction. He would continue to bear it alone. He knew in his heart the dead could not harm him. Surely God would protect his chosen? He only wished his experience… well…. He shook his head. These past months had been a nightly trial.

And yet he stood. That was something.

She rose, gliding toward him across the ancient stones of the floor. “Come,” she said. “I will bear you up.” She maneuvered to his side. “My lord has strengthened me.” She gave him her arm which he accepted without thought, relaxing slightly onto her surprisingly sturdy form. She smelled of soap and orange blossoms, but that was overlaid with something more foul. The creatures, he thought. Have they followed me here? But, no. It had always been safe here.

The linen of her sleeve was rough against his fingertips—his long years had calloused neither heart nor hands. She brushed his hand with her own—he was glad to note he was not trembling overmuch as she guided him into the Nave, tracing steps he had taken countless times before. She guided him toward one of the long, hard pews that would be filled with supplicants come morning.

Discomfort pricked at him. Has God not set me apart? A voice full of certainty whispered in his mind, insisting that he must not acquiesce to this woman, no matter how slight the circumstances.

She grimaced as he dropped her hand and took a step back. “Not here!” he said too forcefully. He saw something in her eyes then that increased his disquiet. Frustration? Anger? His own anger flared then. After all his years of sacrifice, he would not be judged so casually. He pulled back his shoulders and stepped aside. If he could face the non-living, he could face this lone woman. “Give me the strength, Lord.” He whispered it quietly, not wanting her to hear his weakness.

A chill ran through him. The Presence. I still walk in favor. But what kind of favor leaves me battling the dead?

She smiled at him, but he did not return it. Was there falsehood in her meekness? His own uncertainty rankled as much as anything. He drew a breath, flinching at the fetid scent that still lingered, and walked past her toward the front of the cathedral. Her footsteps echoed a few paces behind. Reaching the dais, he paused, not trusting his strength, but unwilling to be weak. He did manage the stairs, albeit slowly.

He trailed a finger along the edge of  the altar—the place he’d sacrificed so much. Finally he turned, leaning on the cold marble, and stared at the Abbess. She climbed toward him until she, too, leaned on his sacred table.

“Woman!” He gasped at her brazenness. “You presume too much.”

The corners of her mouth played into a cold smile. “You,” she said, “have no idea what you are dealing with.”

He growled. “You are the one who doesn’t know!”

“I know dead men walk.” She leaned closer. “I know not every resurrection is sacred.”

His head spun as realization crashed in on him. How long had she known? His prayers were what was important. His dedication. His authority. He would not tolerate her insolence.

“I WILL NOT BE OVERCOME!” he shouted. Spittle foamed at the corners of his mouth; his eyes wide. Wild. Staring.

He felt every one of his endless years in that moment. Tearing his eyes from her, he let his vision stray to the image of Adam holding an apple, the serpent coiled at the feet of his temptress.

He knew, then, the truth of it.

“You.” He jabbed a finger toward her even as his voice lowered. “You caused this. You brought in this evil.” The bitter taste of bile rose in his throat. Oh, God! Why did you not reveal your path sooner? A single bark of laughter escaped him, the sound entirely without mirth. “I will send you to settle your own kind.”

“Good.” The smile the Abbess showed him chilled him to the bone, even as he rounded the altar to settle his hands at her throat. “My Master will be happy to see us both.”

Insensate, he tightened his grip around her slender neck. Choked laughter rolled out of her.

The Bishop’s screams echoed in what was once his sanctuary.

Copyright Notice: Please note that I fully assert my right to be associated as the author of this story, and while it is complete, it may not be finished. This story may be subject to alteration at the author’s discretion. Please do not copy, quote, or post this story or excerpts anywhere in any format. You are, however, free to share the link with anyone who might be interested.

Links

perpetualbloghop

I hope you’ll take the time to read the other stories in this Hop. These are some great writers and wonderful people. And if you like what you read, I hope you’ll consider joining their lists too. The world is a richer place when there are more stories to tell.

Please note, if you find links that don’t work, try again later. Sometimes it takes a little time to get the gremlins worked out.

  1. Sanctuary by Elizabeth McCleary **YOU ARE HERE**
  2. Till Death Us by Fanni Sütő
  3. The Cloud by Karen Lynn
  4. Data Corruption by Barbara Lund
  5. Wish Granted by Kami Bataya
  6. The Witch of Wall Street by J. Q. Rose
  7. Grim Reapers on a Field Trip by J Lenni Dorner
  8. Unwelcome Vistors by Bill Bush
  9. A Writer’s Morning by Katharina Gerlach
  10. Unverified by Erica Damon
  11. Tito’s to the Max by Chris Makowski
  12. The Boon by Juneta Key
  13. Recommended Reading @ Raven O’Fiernan

 

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Freeman–Blog Hop July 2017

It’s that time again! I hope you enjoy not just my story, but the stories of the other writers involved in the hop!

Freeman

Martin sat peeling the jenfruit, silently waiting for whatever would come next. People he didn’t know had been coming and going. He heard the commotion elsewhere in the house. He was told to wait.

He’d only been a freeman for a short time, but it was enough to know how these things worked. He wouldn’t interfere. He would only wait.

“Go outside. Take a walk.” Charel’s voice sounded stern, but her face held traces of a smile. “You do no good just sitting here. Your nerves may as well be poison in the air. Go. Go…”

Martin stood, gathered the sections of purple jenfruit, and went without a word. He knew better than to argue with Charel, even though he had no place to go.

Outside, Martin paused in front of the building. Charel told him to go, but as a bondman he’d never had the right to simply wander. Finally he chose a direction and began to walk, eating wedges of fruit as he did.

As he passed the park he heard children laughing. The sound drew him closer. He’d never been around children—not since the collective anyway, and that was not the same. It was so strange to see these little ones running and playing, their mothers watching close by.

A little one in a red romper ran up to him and squealed. At a nod from his mother, Martin handed over the last of his jenfruit. The boy stuck it in his mouth as he ran off, purple juices dripping down his chin.

They live their freedom not having earned it. I paid for mine, yet still I’m bound.

He started walking again, so caught in his own thoughts that he didn’t realize where he was until he looked up.

His bond yard looked as it always had. Bondmen lifted and worked and hurried. Some he recognized, but none paid him any attention. No bondman would look at a freeman unbidden. Certainly not during a laboring day.

Martin was surprised to feel emotion rising in his chest. He did not miss this labor. Those men were no longer his brothers. And yet…

He leaned forward, hands on the fence, as he watched a pair of grimy hands cutting a board held in place by strong arms dripping with sweat. Martin had known who he was in the bond yard.

He turned and walked quickly back the way he had come. He no longer belonged in this place. He suddenly wanted to be no place but back in that kitchen Charel had shooed him from.

He didn’t run. Freemen don’t run. But he wasted no time. If he was told to go again, he would refuse—that was his right, now.

The door opened to a silent room. It surprised him considering the earlier activity. Is something wrong, he wondered. He stood frozen, not knowing what to do.

Then Charel was there, tugging at his sleeve. “Where have you been, Martin? Gemma is asking for you.” The woman smiled now, showing every crease in her worn face. “It’s time for you to go in.”

Martin let himself be led to his wife and freeborn son.

Copyright Notice: Please note that I fully assert my right to be associated as the author of this story, and while it is complete, it may not be finished. This story may be subject to alteration at the author’s discretion. Please do not copy, quote, or post this story or excerpts anywhere in any format. You are, however, free to share the link with anyone who might be interested.

Links

perpetualbloghop

I hope you’ll take the time to read the other stories in this Hop. These are some great writers and wonderful people. And if you like what you read, I hope you’ll consider joining their lists too. The world is a richer place when there are more stories to tell.

Please note, if you find links that don’t work, try again later. Sometimes it takes a little time to get the gremlins worked out.

  1. Freeman by Elizabeth McCleary **YOU ARE HERE**
  2. Hell’s Play by Juneta Key
  3. The Token by Eli Winfield
  4. Moshe by Chris Makowski
  5. To The Moon And Beyond by Fanni Sütő
  6. Surprise by Katharinia Gerlach
  7. In A Picture by Erica Damon
  8. The Past Tastes Better by Karen Lynn
  9. Revealing Space by Barbara Lund
  10. The Rose Tender by Raven O’Fiernan
  11. The Last Sleeping Beauty by Tamara Ruth

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A to Z 2017–Z is for Zamboni

[Edit: September 21, 2017. This story didn’t make the cut for my collection, Flashes of Splashes, so I’m leaving it here in its original form.]

 

In just barely under the wire. This was a fun month and I even like most of the stories I got. Woot! I hope you enjoy this final installment in the 2017 A to Z Blogging Challenge.

Z is for Zamboni

Clean smooth ice is a thing of beauty. Nothing finer in all the world.

And there was no finer machine to properly groom a sheet of ice than a Zamboni Ice Resurfacer.

That’s what Frank knew. His daddy not only passed down the family trade of Professional Zamboni Ice Technician, he also named his only son after the man who invented the machine that bore his name—Frank J. Zamboni.

The world never knew a prouder Professional Zamboni Ice Technician than Frank Zamboni Ignazio.

Frank arrived well in advance of the day’s activities at the Smith Valley Ice Rink. There was no finer time to resurface ice than at the crack of dawn. No finer place than Smith Valley.

Well, maybe the Johnsonville Ice Arena. Calvin Bigalow did not deserve such a prestigious ice grooming position. The man didn’t understand the true beauty and importance of the job.

Frank shook off the thought. He didn’t need to get himself upset over things he couldn’t control. Today marked his 3rd year as the sole Ice Technician for Smith Valley, and he planned to celebrate with an extra lap around the rink and maybe a Slurpee later in the afternoon.

A few minutes before 5:30 AM, Frank let himself in through the back entrance of the rink. After switching on the overhead lighting he opened the storage room that held his beloved Zamboni.

After filling the ice making tank with clean water, he started the machine and headed toward the main ice.

Normally, he would have started an immediate counter-clockwise circuit of ice resurfacing. This morning, however, he found his way blocked. A small man in a red suit with a black vest and red bowler hat was standing on the ice in black and white wing-tipped shoes.

“Excuse me,” Frank said. “Sir? You can’t be in here. The rink doesn’t open until Nine. And you can’t be on the ice with street shoes. Only proper ice skates are allowed.”

“Son of fire,” the man in red intoned. “You have violated your calling.”

Frank huffed. The man wasn’t moving off his ice. “Sir? I really need you to step aside.”

The man didn’t move. “Frank Ignazio,” he said, “crystalline water maker. Your true identity lies elsewhere.”

Frank started to get irritated. Checking that his Zamboni was properly braked, he climbed down to confront the man directly. “Mr. Uh… do you have a name?” He didn’t wait for an answer. “You have to go. I have a job to do and you are in my way.”

“Frank Zamboni Ignazio.”

It finally dawned on Frank that this guy knew his name. “Do I know you?” he asked.

“You are the chosen. The son of fire.” The man’s voice seemed to resonate over the ice. “Come with me and meet your destiny.”

“My destiny? I’m living that already,” Frank said, his voice emphatic. “Since I was six-years-old I never wanted nothing but to drive this here rig and make the ice as smooth as glass. Now, step aside before I decide to call law enforcement.”

Frank swung his arm towards the man in a dismissive fashion. He was shocked and dismayed when the man in the red suit seemed to flare into flame before melting into the ice, leaving a deep, uneven hole in the rink’s otherwise uniform surface.

“Well, damn,” he said, staring at the hole. “Now I’m gonna have to patch that.” He shook his head. “You’d think those demons would learn to leave me alone by now. I can’t think of one single thing that would make me want to go somewhere as hot as they want to take me.”

Frank Zamboni Ignazio, the Son of Fire, climbed onto his Zamboni and set to grooming his ice.

 

Copyright Notice: Please note that I fully assert my right to be associated as the author of this story, and while it is complete, it may not be finished. This story may be subject to alteration at the author’s discretion. Please do not copy, quote, or post this story or excerpts anywhere in any format. You are, however, free to share the link with anyone who might be interested.

 Enjoying this post? Join my mailing list to get content as a weekly digest in your email, plus extras that you won’t find on my blog!