Nothing to Show–Blog Hop April 2020

Wow. I say this too often, but it’s been a long time since I posted. I really ought to be writing more often. sigh

I wrote this story to go in a collection that’s being put together to give people a reason to smile during these troubled times. Once that anthology is available I’ll let you know. In the meantime, enjoy my story (and the others in the hop!).

Nothing to Show

Honestly, I didn’t know there was a problem until it was too late, and by then I’d already lost the baby.

But, wait… I know. Start at the beginning.

So, the beginning. It was just like any other project I’d started.

How could I have even anticipated that some simple research could have gone so wrong anyway? I mean, it’s not like I was doing bio-weapons research for the Pentagon again. I learned my lesson on that last time. Leaving the blood on someone else’s hands is fine with me.

And I wasn’t working with one of the major known contagions. All those annoying and hard to follow protocols. Why does meaningful research have to be so hard? So much bureaucracy.

So I started my own project just working on some simple gene therapy. Elementary stuff, really. I used a proto-virus as a carrier and a little bit—just a tiny segment, really—of insectoid DNA.

And I didn’t use any unwilling subjects who didn’t understand the science. In fact, I only used myself. Again with the paperwork and all those government hoops to jump through. It should have been perfect. I’m healthy. I’m willing. And it would have been awesome—I would have been awesome—if it worked. Real life superhero stuff. Seriously.

What was the goal? I have to tell you that, too? But my proprietary research… I…

What?

Fine. I know. I’ll tell you.

I wanted to add a higher level of chromatic discrimination–to create tetrachromats. I wanted my subjects… well, myself… to see what nobody else could by adding the ultraviolet spectrum to visual perception. You can imagine what a boon that would be. What an advantage.

I thought I’d failed. It was a huge disappointment, but not entirely unexpected. Most genetic research can’t even manage to alter the ears on a mouse, so this was really a shot in the dark, so to speak. Because, you know, if it worked like it was supposed to, I’d never really be in the dark again.

I spent months developing the gene therapy protocol. I couldn’t do any animal testing. Paperwork. You know. But the theory was solid, so I decided, what the heck.

I stayed in the lab for a month to monitor my progress, and nothing. No clinical changes. No functional changes. It was a complete dud.

Finally I gave up. Went home. And, let me tell you, the wife? She was not too happy with me. I tried to give her a kiss. Hadn’t seen her for a month after all. But she slapped me, shoved the baby, Cooper, into my arms and walked out. Said she’d be back in a month or so and just left. Not that I really blame her with Cooper fussy and teething and a little bit feverish because of it.

What do you mean, what did I do to him? You can’t be accusing me of… well… nothing happened. I held him and bathed him and changed him. And held him some more because have you ever been around a fussy, teething baby? Nothing makes them happy.

But then he finally fell asleep. And so did I.

And when I woke up, he was gone.

Right. Gone.

Except not.

It took a minute for me to realize it while I was searching, but he wasn’t gone. I just couldn’t see him. Oh, he was still there, squirming in his crib. I just didn’t recognize what I was seeing because I was expecting a baby. A whole, entire, visible baby.

Instead I had a giggling void wearing a diaper. I suspected his tooth finally got through because he was happy again. I proved it when he bit me hard enough to draw blood.

The wife, though. She still is not one bit happy. Can’t take a picture for the baby book of that new tooth. Can’t take Cooper to his grandma’s which apparently was planned for weeks. My mother-in-law would definitely not be understanding about this. She already doesn’t like me.

Oh, right… the science. Well. I can’t really say for sure. There’s been no time to develop an adequate UV scanning system to observe what’s going on at a cellular level, especially when you won’t even let me in my lab. But I think the DNA I used must have mutated somehow. Created some kind of ultraviolet refraction. Rather than adding to the visual spectrum, it interfered with the normal reflection of light from the baby.

Yes, I know it’s weird.

No, I don’t know what the mechanism was that caused it.

Yes, it obviously affects children in early development differently than adults.

No, I absolutely did not do this on purpose.

No, I did not intentionally release this into the community. I suspect that my wife picked up enough to become a carrier when she handed off Cooper to me that first day. She visited her sister and Amelia. Amelia went to day care.

How could I have known it would be contagious?

Why is it my fault that we now have at least 340 invisible children under the age of two? What? 392? Since yesterday?

It’s not my fault!

I didn’t plan this! And where is the sympathy for me? It’s my failed research, and now I’ll probably never qualify for another grant! All those years of hard work and nothing to show.

Literally.

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. Nothing To Show by Elizabeth McCleary (You are here!)
  2. Super Grammy (Radioactive Breakfast Cereal) by Vanessa Wells
  3. Bone Killer by Juneta Key
  4. One More Time by Karen Lynn
  5. Trail Of Carnage by Jemma Weir
  6. A Phoenix In Hell by Sabrina Rosen
  7. Friends Of The Deep by G. Craddock
  8. Collateral Damage by Nic Steven
  9. A Ghost’s Life by Barbara Lund
  10. A Startling Revelation by Bill Bush
  11. A Hiding Place by Gina Fabio
  12. A Family Reunion by Katharina Gerlach
  13. Better Off Alone by V. S. Stark
  14. A Day In The Life by James Husum

The Road–Blog Hop October 2019

I should be posting more often, but at least the Blog Hop is a reminder to post once in a while. sigh

This month’s story comes to you via Holly Lisle’s very excellent podcast, Alone In A Room With Invisible People. Last year, Holly and Becca did a Halloween episode and invited their listeners to submit spooky flash stories of no more than 500 words. It was such a success that this year they did it again!

Apparently, mildly disturbing, atmospheric ghost stories are a thing for me. Here’s the one I wrote last year.

And here’s this year’s offering.

The Road

“Mia, don’t go.”

Mia stared, unblinking. “You know it’s not about you, right? You know I have to go. He’s been gone so long.”

“I don’t think it’s about me. It’s totally about you. It always is. I just…” Kit shifted to avoid her sister’s blank gaze.

The town clock struck it’s rattling gong. Eleven o’clock. It wouldn’t be long now, one way or another.

Stilling a shudder that threatened to climb her spine, Kit spoke again. “I need you. I don’t want you to go.”

“I know. But I have to. He’s expecting me.”

A deflating sigh escaped Kit. This wasn’t right. It wasn’t what she wanted. But this was her only sister and Mia was stubborn. Her decision wouldn’t change. “I’m going with you,” she said.

“Kit, you can’t…”

“Just as far as the road, Mia. I at least want to say goodbye when he comes for you.”

The two stared at each other for a moment, then Mia nodded. “Only to the road. But we have to go now—there’s no more time to spare.”

*

Chill, damp night seeped through Kit’s sweater as they walked along the darkened street. Only hours ago the laughter of children filled the air, but not now. Now the town was utterly still. Wan light from a few windows did little to dispel the gloom, the flicker of dying jack-o-lanterns even less. Though there was a full moon this Hallow’s Eve, deepening clouds hid it’s silvered surface.

Kit could barely keep up with her sister. The black of Mia’s jeans, her jacket, and her hair almost disappeared in the dark making her almost ghostly. Hard to follow.

“Slow down,” she said, racing to catch up. “Or are you trying to leave me behind before we even get there?”

“He’s coming and if I’m not there… I can’t miss him, Kit. I won’t take that chance.”

“You’re always taking chances,” Kit muttered. “Why not that one?”

Mia didn’t answer, but Kit thought her pace slowed just a bit. Her sister’s hand, chill as death, took hold of hers as they walked.

“Kit, I’m sorry. Thank you for coming with me.”

“I’m your sister,” said Kit. “I’d never let you go alone.”

*

When they reached the edge of the old road, Mia stopped. “This is as far as you can come,” she said. “Stay here.”

Tears spilled from Kit’s eyes as she folded her arms around her sister, hoping to hold her back.

“I love you, Kit.” Mia said, then pulled away and stepped onto the road.
The rustle of leaves announced a stirring of wind that stabbed with icy fingers and parted the clouds. Silver light slipped from between the trees just as midnight began to sound in the distance.

“Mia,” Kit whispered one last time, “don’t go.”

Her sister didn’t hear. Couldn’t hear. She was drifting down the old ghost road, finally reunited with her lost love.

Kit ran to collapse on the mound that was once her sister and wept.

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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.

As a reminder, many of these stories, and a bunch more spooky tales, can be heard on Holly’s podcast: Alone In A Room With Invisible People.

  1. The Road by Elizabeth McCleary (YOU ARE HERE!)
  2. Storytime Blog Hop by C. T. Bridges
  3. Storytime Blog Hop by Warp World Books
  4. Family Time by Bonnie Burns
  5. The Exception by Vanessa Wells
  6. Number 99 by Juneta Key
  7. Edda’s Second Chance by Katharina Gerlach
  8. Very Thin Line by Rebecca Anne Dillon
  9. Henry Moves House by Nic Steven
  10. For The Ghost The Bell Tolls by James Husum
  11. Never Alone by Melanie Drake
  12. The Neighbor by Meghan Collins
  13. Storytime Blog Hop by Raven O’Fiernan
  14. Loney Lucy by Bill Bush
  15. The Traveler by Barbara Lund
  16. Evening by Karen Lynn
  17. Man Of Your Dreams by Gina Fabio
  18. The Undertaker’s Daughter by J. Q. Rose

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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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.