Over James Henry Wilcox’s Dead Body – Blog Hop October 2016

Over James Henry Wilcox’s Dead Body

key-252231_1280The large brass circle of keys clattered against the door as Daiyu locked the shop on the edge of China Town. None would come for her herbs tonight. In truth, none came much anymore since her YeYe was gone. Grandfather brought her across the ocean. He taught her his trade. But he couldn’t keep from the drink, and he left her little legacy but his debt. If she couldn’t do this, she would lose both shop and home.

Turning, she settled a heavy cloak across her shoulders. The San Francisco fog and her destination tonight meant she would be more comfortable if she stayed covered. She paused for a moment to breathe deeply. The evening’s wood fires and the familiar scent of spices that reminded her of home mingled with the city’s salt air. Daiyu squared her shoulders and strode up the street.

The click of her low, wood-soled shoes on the cobblestones echoed between the dark buildings that surrounded her. Most people avoided the alleys and byways where Daiyu spent the majority of her time. But she would never fear the dark—she was named for black jade. The dark was a friend that kept her secrets.

Tonight, the dark hid her form as she passed by banks and businesses that would not welcome her in the daylight.

After a quick, twenty-minute walk, Daiyu pulled open the ornate wrought iron gate. Brambles tugged at her wide, silk trousers as she stepped lightly between the shadowed stones. She muttered apologies to the departed. She would never understand this lack of respect for the dead. Then again, what did westerners know about venerating the deceased? Would their dead even care about nettles and vines? Those buried here were not the ancestors who would be called on for guidance.

Most were not.

Finding the grave she sought, Daiyu retrieved a small box of sulfur matches from the folds of her cloak. She cleared a small patch of earth in front of the stone in which she placed a few dry leaves, then struck a match. When the flame rose, she added herbs from a small clay jar and spoke, her brittle words sounding loud in the gathering fog.

“James Henry Wilcox, I call you forth by rightful charge. You will come and give me the answers I seek.”

Her skin prickled and a shiver ran through her. She tugged at her cloak, now stirring in a sudden wind, and repeated her call.

As she spoke the words for a third time, the small fire she had ignited blinked out, leaving only a curl of white smoke against the night’s darkness. “I am here,” said a voice. “Why do you disturb me.”

“I am resuming our negotiation,” she said. A cold smile slid across Daiyu’s features. “I told you, you owe me answers,” she said. “I promised I would haunt you. Here I am.”

The ghost of James Henry Wilcox faded into view like a reflection on imperfect glass. “I thought ghosts were meant to do the haunting,” he said.

“You’d think that, but I’m the one with the unfinished business,” Daiyu replied, crossing her arms. “Where will I find it?”

A suggestion of a scowl crossed his non-corporeal countenance. “Where will you find what?”

“The deed. You promised a guarantee of my home.” She crossed her arms as another chill gust swirled around her.

Daiyu jumped as the ghost of James Henry Wilcox laughed. This was not what she expected, but it made her smile. She liked a ghost with some spirit.

The ghost circled her once and then spoke again. “As far as I’m concerned, you got me killed. I think that makes us even.”

“I took you to where you wanted to go and you got yourself killed. You still owe me what was promised.”

“Over my dead body,” said James.

Daiyu clicked her tongue. “And here we are.”

“Yes,” he said. “Here we are. There’s nothing left that I need. You have nothing to negotiate with.”

“Except,” said Daiyu, “maybe I do.” Her fingers closed on another item hidden within her cloak.

A blurring caused by the shake of a head obscured the ghost’s features momentarily. “How could you?” he said. “I’m dead. I followed you into that den, and now I’m dead.”

“But your sister… she is still alive.” Daiyu finally drew out a photograph showing a sad-looking young woman with vacant eyes. James Henry Wilcox reached right through the picture before remembering he could not take it. “Give me what you promised,” Daiyu said, “and I will take care of her.”

“Take care of?” Worry creased Wilcox’s transparent features.

chinese-998917_1280“I will rescue her. Train her. Teach her what I know. She will be able to summon spirits.” Daiyu paused as realization dawned on the specter’s features, then continued. “She will be able to summon you.”

“I’d be able to see her again? I had hoped,” he said, “but I never thought…”

“You never expected I could actually help you.’

“The opium? Can your skills really overcome that?”

Daiyu stared at him for a moment then nodded. “I can break its spell. You will have what we agreed on after all.”

“Then it is decided,” James said. “I’ll help you get the deed to your building, and you’ll get my sister out of that viper’s hands.”

“Good,” said Daiyu. “It is decided.”

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: The links should finally be all sorted out. If you find any errors, please let me know!

  1. Elizabeth McCleary – Over James Henry Wilcox’s Dead Body **YOU ARE HERE**
  2. Canis Lupus The Picture
  3. Peg Fisher All In the Fall, a Fractured Fairytale
  4. Bill Bush Trapped
  5. Crystal Collier Emily’s Ghost
  6. Viola Fury 911
  7. Benjamin Thomas Autumn Cascade
  8. C. Lee McKenzie Beautiful
  9. Erica Damon Penance’
  10. J. Q. Rose Sorry
  11. Elise VanCise Lady In The Woods
  12. Barbara Lund Spooky Space
  13. Angela Wooldridge Quiet Neighbours
  14. Katharina Gerlach Australian Dream
  15. Karen Lynn The Waves at Midnight
  16. Sherri Conway Ants

 

 

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Update on my procrastination skills, and other events of note

alarm-clock-590383_1280Yeah, so, procrastination.

About that.

It’s still a thing that I do. (For evidence, note that here it is something like 3 weeks after saying I’d post an update in a week. Ha!)

HOWEVER, that is not to say there has been no movement on that front.

I did do a little bit o’ plotting. Not much. Not enough. But some.

Blog Hopperpetualbloghop

Also, I wrote a flash story – one that I really like! I’m participating in the Story Time Blog Hop again this month. It’s a quarterly thing, and being October, all the stories will probably be leaning toward ghost stories, Halloween, paranormal… typical haunted fare.

But these are my friends, so don’t expect ordinary. Never expect ordinary. 😉

Expect to see that story as well as links to the others on October 26 at 6PM. (We are a global group, so we try to make things drop right at Midnight UTC. I’m in the -6 timezone, so I post 6 hours early.)

Advent CalendarKat's Advent Calendar

I’m also planning to participate in my friend Cat’s Advent Calendar again this year. I’ve done this a couple of times in the past, and it has always been a lot of fun.

As soon as I have sign-up info for that, I’ll post it here. To get the stories, you’ll need to join a mailing list… but it’s a list ONLY for the Advent Calendar and Cat never spams.

For that collection of stories, the theme this year is Winter (but not necessarily Christmas). As usual, most of the authors participating will likely have some kind of bonus in the form of an additional story, a traditional recipe, a fun desktop background… something unique. You won’t want to miss out!

NaNoWriMonanowrimo_2016_webbadge_participant-200

Between the Blog Hop and the Advent Calendar, is the annual event known as NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month.  For those who haven’t heard of it, writers (anyone, really) are invited to try to write 50,000 words in November. That works out to an average of 1667 words every day.

50,000 might be a short novel, but by most classifications, it’s a novel. A whole novel (or maybe a good start on one) in 30 days is a pretty significant challenge. With my afore mentioned habit of procrastination, I have never managed to hit that 50,000-word goal. But I’m giving it a shot again this year. (My username there is pearannoyed, so if you’re participating too, feel free to connect!)

The story I’m planning is actually an extension of what I wrote for the Blog Hop. So if you drop back by on the 27th and read that story, you might have motivation to cheer me on for NaNo. Maybe. If you like it.

 

That is, I think, all I have on the table at the moment. If anything else comes up, I’ll let you know.

I’m Published! (Again)

Well, I didn’t get a story up on Friday. For that I apologize. I wanted to, but I was swamped with a couple of non-writing related projects that didn’t leave me time to toss off a story for you. Hopefully I’ll have one this week.

Flashes-of-MagicIn better news, I did manage to finish my edits and formatting and get my new collection published on Amazon! I still need to get accounts set up at B&N, iBooks, and other places. But Amazon is obviously the big dog, so I’m glad to have my stories there at least.

I hope you consider buying a copy. Most (but not all – there is one that is brand-new) of these stories found their first incarnations on this blog, so I’ll understand if you don’t want to purchase the revisions. But I guarantee that the current iteration on most of them is significantly better than what you read for free here.

As always, if you like what you read I’d love for you to leave me a review or send me some feedback here. Which stories are your favorite? What do you want more of? Inquiring minds want to know!

So, enoy! I’m currently considering what my next project will be, and I’ll post as soon as I know.

Friday Fiction – Apothecary

Rest in peace? Hmmph. Not likely. I growl, a low rumble in the back of my throat. It’s a good thing I can’t be heard. Incorporeal growling tends to unsettle people.

Then again, some people deserve to be unsettled.

I’m not sure how long I’ve been dead. A few weeks. Maybe months. Time passes differently, in-between. I figure that’s to my advantage. I have all the time I want to get back at my charming, cheating wife; her and that so-called clerk she hired to run my shop.

I watch as she spends her time mooning over that boy behind the counter. By the Gods, woman. He might be young enough to be our son. He does know his herbals, though. Doing a damn fine job running my business when he isn’t busy being fondled by my wife.

He has brought in some unorthodox compounds. Goldbud for stomach ailments and lost appetite. Dragon flower for skin problems. Bat bones for weak eyesight.

The Goldbud isn’t likely to work. Maybe the bat bones though.

mortar-89048_640He prepares to grind the lightweight bones and I realize I’m frustrated. I don’t want to like him.

In my irritation, I flail my invisible arms through my workspace. His workspace.

To my surprise, the bones are strewn across the countertop.

I watch as he jumps back. His shoulders crawl up to his ears. A visible shiver passes through him. His dark eyes scan the table, the wall, the room. Does his gaze linger on my invisible form a moment too long? Certainly not. He is simply staring in the direction of the scattered bones.

I stare at the bones too. They moved. I moved them. I reach in again, more deliberately this time, and discover I can easily slide the thin white sticks across the table.

My replacement watches for a moment longer, then squares his shoulders and reaches. He picks up the bone, and his movements tug at my hand. For a brief moment, my hand moves with his, then his with mine.

We separate but the sensation still tingles where I have no right to feel anything.

He rubs his offended hand and his gaze lingers on the space I occupy. “I know you’re there,” he says. “I’m not the one who killed you. It was her. She told me there were rats. I told her how to kill them.” He paused then said, “I didn’t know she meant you. I’m sorry.”

I consider his words as he proceeds to pulverize the bones to a fine powder.

I wonder if it’s unusual for the dead to not know they were murdered. It makes sense to me now. Afterwards, the infidelity was obvious. My death and its cause are not things I can see, but the evidence is there.

He fills a glazed pot with the bone powder and speaks again, interrupting my reverie. “I know how to bring you back.” A dark smile plays across his face.

Copyright Notice: Please note that this is mostly unedited, raw writing. I fully assert my right to be associated as the author of this story. Please do not copy, quote, or post anywhere in any format. You are, however, free to share the link with anyone who might be interested.