Reflected – Blog Hop January 2017

“I want this. I can do this. Nobody can stop me.” She stared at unblinking eyes. Hard eyes. Dark eyes. She focused so intently on those eyes that everything else seemed to fade.

The effect was ruined as a grin crept across that face.

Alice leaned toward her own reflection. “You’ve got this,” she reassured herself one more time.

She’d always known if she played her cards right she’d be in a position to make changes. Now here she was.

She squared her shoulders as she turned from the mirror, then flicked off the light and left.

rainy womanAlice took the number 10 cross-town bus and walked the remaining six blocks to her destination. She was glad for a few minutes in the rain-washed air—her confidence had slipped a little as she bounced along on the less-than-pristine city bus. Staring at her own bulbous reflection in the driver’s security mirror had her questioning reality.

Her thoughts tumbled end over end as she walked, and she wished she didn’t feel like shrinking. But fear didn’t stop her. Her glossy Oxfords swung out rhythmically, followed closely by the pin stripes of her trousers. The slight reflection in the wet pavement of the sidewalk followed her precisely, clicking along at an identical energetic gait.

When she reached 1832 Duchess Avenue, she paused to again check her image in the wide brass trim beside the door. She looked warped around the edges, but not overly flushed from her walk. Good.

Alice tugged at the heavy glass entry and stepped inside. Mr. White nodded absently from behind the security desk as he tucked away his pocket watch. The affectation didn’t seem out of place considering the man’s tidy whiskers.

A green light dinged on, and she took a deep breath as she boarded the elevator. She counted the floors as they passed like a school girl reciting her lessons.

The plush carpeting of the 14th floor absorbed the sound of her footfalls when she stepped out toward T & T Enterprises. The silence tried to make her feel insubstantial, but she shook off the sensation as she approached the receptionist.

“He’s expecting me.” She didn’t wait for an answer from the mousy woman, merely turned toward the gilt-framed mirror on the wall.

She swallowed her nervousness as she eyed her reflection. There would be no going back. She turned when the door opened.

“Alice,” Lewis greeted her with a warm handshake. “You’re early.”

“I’ve made my decision,” she said as he led her past the heavy walnut door into his office.

Once they were alone she spoke in a rush, fearing that any delay might cause her to lose her nerve. “Tell Mr. Hatter I’m going, Lewis,” she said. “Through the Looking Glass. Into Wonderland. I can’t just see the other side and not act.”

From the corner of her eye, she thought she saw him smile.

“I won’t let that woman win. I need to take down the Red Queen.”

 

 

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.

  1. Reflected by Elizabeth McCleary **YOU ARE HERE**
  2. Veronica by Jessica Kruppa
  3. Last Stop by Erica Damon
  4. Jesse and Tyler by Bill Bush
  5. The Poisoner of Time by Karen Lynn
  6. New Stork Inc. by Katharina Gerlach
  7. Pocket Heart by Juneta Key
  8. Oh Baby! by J. Q. Rose

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The Door – Storytime Blog Hop

door-5316_1280Jeremy knew it wasn’t going to work, not this time, but he had to try something.

The door had given him everything he wanted—everything he needed—for years. All he had to do was ask… imagine… believe… and then go to the door. He had no idea how it worked; magic he supposed. But that part didn’t really matter. What mattered was that it worked. Whatever he wished for, if he really, really meant it, when he opened the door, there it was.

He smiled as he remembered his grandpa showing him the door for the first time. Make a wish he said. All your dreams will be fulfilled. But even then, it wasn’t exactly true.

At ten, he had the best bike on the block; the envy of the neighborhood. That bike was cool. It sparkled in the sunlight with its red paint and blue flames. Nobody had a bike that looked like that.

And it was fast. Seriously fast. He could beat even most of the highschoolers, racing around the neighborhood.

That bike made him awesome. Even now, the memory made him smile.

But not everything he wished through that door was so cool. He learned quickly why grandpa told him never to wish for anything alive. He cried for weeks about that puppy, and even now the thought of it sent chills down his spine.

No. The door had limitations.

But the door also lived up to his expectations is so many ways. The guitar he wished for when he was 16 was directly responsible for his career. He played that thing for hours, shredding his fingers as he learned to play shredding leads.

Because of that guitar, he started a band.

Because of that band, he met a girl.

Because of that girl… that beautiful, perfect girl…

Jeremy scrubbed tears from his cheeks as he remembered the way Melissa’s eyes lit up when she saw that ring. He thought that might have been the best thing he’d ever wished for. The best thing the door had ever given him.

Because of that ring, he got the girl. That beautiful, perfect girl.

Then she got sick. Cancer.

Melissa always wanted kids. She would have been such a good mother. But the surgery stole that from her, and still it didn’t stop the disease. Jeremy sat by her side as months slid by and his beautiful girl disappeared before his eyes.

It didn’t occur to him until the end how much he had been looking forward to making wishes with his children. Their children.

Now there would be no more bikes. No more guitars. No more perfect rings for perfect girls.

Jeremy stared at the door, Melissa’s ring held tight in his fist.

He knew what he wanted.

He didn’t know if it would work, but he had to try something.

He wished harder than he had ever wished, for all the things that would never be.

Then he opened the door, and walked through.

bloghopI hope you enjoyed this! I certainly enjoyed writing it.
If you aren’t yet on my mailing list, please consider joining to receive a free short story.

Also, please take some time to visit the other stories that are part of this Blog Hop, and if you enjoy their stories, join their lists too. 🙂

Dale Cozort: Two Letters In A Fireproof Box
Katharina Gerlach: Canned Food
Rabia Gale: Spark
K. A. Petentler: The Twisted Tale of Isabel
Shana Blueming: Paper & Glue
Amy Keeley: To Be Prepared For Chocolate
Cherie “Jade” Arbuckle: After I Died
Karen Lynn: The Family Book
Angela Wooldridge: An Alternative to Frog
Thea van Diepen: Are You Sure It’s That Way?
Paula de Carvalho: Body Double
Kris Bowser: Tantrums
Virginia McClain: Rakko’s Storm
Grace Robinette: Georg Grembl

Friday Fiction – Rain

I feel like I’m in hell.

I stare out my window, watching the water as it falls, splatters, then floods down the street outside. It’s heavy today. Not quite a torrent, but more than a downpour. I’m guessing they’ll call it a deluge on the news. But I think I heard someone say it’s supposed to be a drizzle this weekend. He was talking about taking his kids to the beach.

Last week one of my coworkers spent 20 minutes talking about how beautiful it was to watch the rain just fall. She talked about the way water drips off leaves, and the rhythmic sound of rain pelting the roof. Me? I think she’s crazy. I can’t say it out loud because nobody would understand, but I hate the rain.

I read in the checkout line that some people believe there are places with very little rain at all. It has to be lies. It said some places go weeks without any rain at all. Stupid, I know. But I couldn’t help it. I bought the magazine. I’ve already read the article 6 times.

I dream of it being true. I just want the rain to stop.raining-690930_1280

The weekend comes, and this damn rain is coming down as hard as ever. I guess that guy didn’t take his kids to the beach. Or maybe he did. You never know.

I look at the magazine again, the one that speculates that not rain actually exists somewhere, and I decide I can’t take it anymore. I don’t grab anything but my keys. I go out to my car, and I leave. I have no intention of coming back.

The rain is driving. I’m driving. Traffic is backing up along the coast. Maybe people really do go to the beach in this. But I’m not getting anywhere—everything is going too slowly.

I exit when I can and drive across the city instead. If I can’t find not rain on the coast, maybe I’ll find it in the mountains. Anyway, at least I can keep moving.

I’m not sure how long I’ve been driving, probably hours. I’m high in the mountains now, and virtual rivers are rushing past me at the sides of the road. I’ve gotten away from the cars, but I don’t think there’s anywhere I can get away from the rain. It leaves everything wet … saturated. The rubber blades that thwack across my windshield can’t keep pace with the cursed downpour that seems never to relent or subside.

I feel a pang of anger, even hatred, for this never-ending rain. Without thought, I crush the gas pedal and feel my tires slip unsteadily on the wet pavement. I round several turns as the road narrows, but I rush on.

I feel my car lose all sense of traction as I turn my steering wheel. My car continues forward to where the mountain falls away below me. I guess I’m really not returning home.

I feel heat on my skin and pry my eyes open to a near-blinding light against a clear blue backdrop. It takes a moment to realize it’s the sky.

“It’s not raining,” I say to myself.

A voice responds from nearby. “Rain? It never rains here. Never. Welcome to hell.”

I shudder with a laughter that shakes my entire body.

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.

Friday Fiction – Shadowman

“I should just go.” Ciar stared toward the hallway.

man-164217_1280“No. You shouldn’t.”

“Why not?”

“Because I don’t want you dragged away from me? That’s why not. Haven’t we been over this, like, a thousand times?” Lon hovered near his friend, managing to loom even darker than their surroundings.

“Well, yeah. But I don’t get it. The hallway is the same right now as it is in pitch darkness. Why shouldn’t I go?”

Lon growled, his black eyes hard as glass pebbles. “You should not go because when you step into the light, I will lose my best friend. Imagine the guilt. Imagine my shame. Imagine…” He cut off as Ciar drifted closer to the light.

“I just… I want to know what it’s like.”

“Dude. You’re crazy. Seriously. I think you need help.”

“I don’t need help. I just need something different.” He edged even closer to where the beam cut through the darkness. “I want adventure. Something other than just the endless darkness.”

Lon stretched himself thin, allowing a tendril of grey mist to merge with his friend. “Don’t go,” he said. “I need you. You’re all I got.”

“Come with me. Come to the light with me.” His voice sounded excited for the first time in a long time. “We can go together. Think of it – the two of us. Out there.”

Ciar brightened which made his friend shudder and pull back. “Oh, come on. You used to dream with me. Now you’re just like everyone else. Afraid of the light.”

“Wisdom looks like fear to idiots, man. It’s one thing to wonder. It’s one thing to dream.” He drifted deeper into the shadow behind him. “But I remember what happened to Isra.” There was sadness in his voice. “She’s still out there.”

“Don’t go there.” Ciar sounded angry, but he moved closer to the shadow with Lon. “I am not Isra.”

“Of course you aren’t. She didn’t know the danger. You do. You’re much stupider than Isra.”

“I hope you get washed out.” There was genuine anger in his voice. “She was supposed to shadow me. ME! And she just… left.” He turned back towards the hallway.

“Without her what’s the point of staying?”

“Putting yourself out there won’t change anything,” Lon said, his voice soft and full of regret. “Until her carrier gets out of the light, she’s trapped. And even then, she has to want to come back.”

Ciar pressed himself to the far wall, spilling down onto the shag carpet below. He couldn’t escape Lon’s words. “She’s not free. Hasn’t been for a long time. And if you go out there, you won’t be free either.”

“I’m not free now,” Ciar said. “I miss her too much.”

“I know.”

“No. You don’t.” Ciar sighed. “Nobody knows. Nobody understands.”

Lon flinched at the desperation in Ciar’s tone. “Hey… come with me. We’ll talk about it. Maybe I’ll come with you tomorrow.”

“No. I think… I think I’m going now.”

Lon stood helpless as the other shadowman moved into the bright hallway and instantly attached to a man walking past. The man’s shadow deepened and Lon watched his friend carried out of sight.

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.

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.

Friday Fiction – The Gift

Kelsey held her head, hoping the throbbing would stop soon. The headaches were getting worse. Excruciating.

Her grandpa Mike had migraines. He died of an aneurism at 57. She only remembered him from pictures, but everyone said she was just like him. She didn’t have thirty years on her time clock though. Not according to the oncologist.

She picked up the phone and dialed. After two rings a click told her someone answered.

“Ray. My head is going to explode,” she said, tears streaming down her cheeks. “It’s time. ” She pressed her forehead against her hand, wishing she could stop the pain.

“Come tonight.” The voice on the line was raspy. Male. African-American? Maybe. They only spoke once before.Old Man (Imagicity 854)

“I’ll be there at 10.” A faint grunt of assent followed by a click and a dead line ended the call.

She dropped the phone back on its cradle then opened a bottle of pills and swallowed two, knowing they wouldn’t help.

At nine-thirty-nine, Kelsey pulled her car into a parking lot, killed the engine, and turned off the headlights. She gave herself a more-than-ample window for driving. The migraine made it difficult to see—she experienced a lot of visual aura with her headaches—but she managed to get to her destination early. A low, white building stretched out in front of her.

Better an empty office park than a crowded mall lot. She knew this one had no security cameras. Her eyes drifted shut as she waited.

A tap on the window jerked her forward causing renewed the agony in her head. She blinked back tears and swallowed hard against the bile that threatened to rise.

 

After composing herself, she turned her head toward the man who stood next to her car. She thought about rolling down the window, but she owed him more than that. She fumbled for the door handle and climbed out of her car.

The man was thinner that she expected. Gaunt. “You don’t look well,” Kelsey said. “Are you sure about this?”

He smiled, his teeth oddly bright against his dark skin. “I’m not well. That’s why I’m here.”

She stared into his eyes a moment longer, then nodded. “I’m ready if you are.”

“I’ve been ready since my wife passed. Seven years.” His voice caught as he said it.

He lifted a bony hand and pushed a stray strand of hair away from Kelsey’s face. He twined his fingers in her hair, leaned forward, and pressed his lips to hers. They were dry, but gentle. She leaned into him and caught his free hand in hers.

It only lasted moments. Kelsey looked up and realized the pain was gone.

“Live well,” he said. “And thank you. I’ve missed my Mary too long.”

A smile brightened his face as the light left his eyes. Kelsey eased his frail body to the ground.

“Cancer free. You have your whole life ahead of you.”

Kelsey smiled at her doctor’s report. “Thank you, Ray.”

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.

Friday Fiction – Rainy Night

This is more of a scene than a flash fiction. Raw writing inspired by the storms that blew through during the night.

raining-690930_1280Thunder rattled the windows as the rain hammered a tattoo against the roof. The dog whimpered and pressed against my leg for reassurance.

“Grandma used to call a storm like this a gully washer.” I scratched idly at his ears as I talked. My voice along with the physical contact seemed to calm him. A little. Maybe. “I remember when I was a kid and we sat out on the porch watching the rain. It was kind of amazing.”

I smiled down at Old Gus and patted at his side. “You probably wouldn’t have liked it, but I thought it was pretty cool. We sat in those rocking chairs and just watched the storm. It was almost like it was something alive.”

Gus settled at my feet and started snoring lightly. It was hard to say whether it was my narrative or the fact that the storm was letting up that finally helped him settle.

I woke with a start, disoriented; sure that the storm was picking back up. But no, Gus wasn’t back to whining, and there was no tell-tale patter of rain on the roof.

I wondered what had woken me, and realized it must be the crick I got in my neck from falling asleep sitting up on the sofa. I stood and stretched, careful not to disturb the still-sleeping hound at my feet.

I headed toward the kitchen to warm up a cup of coffee when I heard it. A scraping, tapping sound coming from the front window. A bird maybe? Something had gotten trapped out in the deluge.

I flicked the switch and opened the front door. Warm, humid air assaulted me, heavy with the loamy smell of wet earth. I looked left and right, hunting for what might have been the source of that odd sound. There was nothing obvious.

After a moment of hesitation, I stepped out to do a more thorough search. Something might be hurt out here. I’d feel bad if I found a dead animal in the morning that I might have been able to save tonight.

I walked the length of the long veranda, briefly pausing to push on the very chair I’d sat in with grandma all those years ago. The memory made me smile.

It was clear there was nothing on the porch, so I stepped down the wide stairs to look behind the bushes. A flashlight would have helped, but I didn’t want to go dig one out of the kitchen junk drawer.

Just as I was prepared to write the whole thing off to my imagination, I heard it. Something was definitely there, behind the rhododendrons.

I pushed the bush to one side to try and get a better look. Whatever it was must have been hurt. It didn’t dart out when I disturbed it’s hiding place.

“Great,” I said to myself. “It’s probably going to eat me.” I leaned in anyway, certain now that I could see what appeared to be a small furry animal, cowering.

“That may not be wise.” I jumped, yelping, and managed to get thwapped by the wet bushes as they sprang back into position. “I fear my … ah … pet may not appreciate your ministrations. He is not fond of this planet’s weather.”

I felt myself go weak in the knees as I struggled to comprehend the small body, large eyes, and green flesh of the being that stood before me.

He flashed what I assumed was a smile. “I fear the rain has disrupted our travel plans.”

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.