Soon. Very soon.

So much has happened since I last updated.

There’ve been fires.

There’ve been earthquakes.

There’ve been hurricanes.

Has anyone checked the volcanoes? I feel like someone should check the volcanoes.

That has been a whole lot of bad news.

The good news is that, while it has taken longer for me to get my act together than I’d hoped, I am finally on the verge of getting my new collection published! Woo hoo!

I’m using 23 of the 26 stories I wrote for this year’s AtoZ blogging challenge. They’ve all been fully edited and polished to a high shine.

Plus, I wrote 3 entirely new stories to replace the ones that weren’t working for me.

Plus, I’m including a couple of stories that previously appeared on this blog that fit the watery theme.

Plus, I wrote 3 additional bonus stories, especially for this collection.

So this collection of flash fiction will be coming in at a whopping 31 stories! That’s one story a day for a month, regardless of the month!

And… I will also be putting out a print version! This will be my first title with a physical copy, so I’m pretty excited.

In conjunction with the new collection going up, I’ll also be posting my 2 previous collections at additional retailers instead of just Amazon. Nothin’ against the ‘Zon, but it hasn’t helped me to be exclusive so I taking the wide-market plunge. As soon as I have links for those, I’ll add them to my book pages. If you’ve been waiting with baited breath to buy on Nook, Kobo, iBooks or elsewhere… first, go brush your teeth. Then watch this space for information on when they’re available.

All these things should be happening within the next week or less. Potentially significantly less.

I’ll post again when it’s all out there.

New Covers, Old Books

I promised a post with the new covers I decided on for my already-published collections. With the new collection coming out I wanted to re-brand these so they look like they belong together.

Feel free to comment–I’ll be making final tweaks and uploading the new covers within the next week or so. I’d love to get your feedback. Let me know what you think!

Here are the original and the new cover for Flashes of Magic.

And here are the original and new covers for New Skin.

 

Cover Poll–Flashes of Splashes

I am finally getting to the “almost done” stage of my new flash fiction collection, and I realize I haven’t mentioned it much here.

It’s mostly based on the stories I wrote in April for the AtoZ Challenge, but everything has been edited and cleaned up, and a few of those stories have been tossed out entirely. The title I finally landed on is Flashes of Splashes, referencing the water theme running throughout the book.

Here’s where I need your help… I’ve been messing with cover designs for about 3 weeks, and I almost can’t think anymore. So, here are 6 covers currently in the running (5 that I like, one I’m less thrilled with). Please indicate which ones you love and/or which ones you hate. What would make you pick up the book? What would make you avoid it entirely and why? Feel free to give your opinions in the comments, or shoot me a private message if you don’t want to leave one publicly. Image names are beneath the images. And I just realized I didn’t update the title style on the Dancer image, so consider the two different title/subtitle styles as options on any of these, if you wish.

To inspire you, I’ll post the final-ish versions of the re-covers for New Skin and Flashes of Magic in another post.

Dancer

Mermaid

Rain Girl

Umbrella Man

Umbrella Bricks

Umbrella Yellow

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.

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A to Z 2017–N is for Noria

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

 

I’ll admit it – this is not close to the best story I’ve written this month. It’s a takeoff on the incomplete A is for Aqueduct story, it continues to be incomplete, and it’s based on a device few actually know the name of. The Noria is a water wheel run by water power (as opposed to animal power), usually for the purpose of raising water to a higher level. Here’s a video showing one working. Cool tech, actually. But this is a fairly weak story in spite of that.

I guess they can’t all be home runs. Especially when there are all too few words relating to water starting with certain letters of the alphabet. sigh

Onward!

N is for Noria

As the wheel dipped and circled, water filled the attached earthen pots and emptied them into a stone channel. The water diverted from the river flowed into the aqueduct that watered the vineyard in the vale on the other side of the ridge.

“I don’t understand,” said Sineta. “It’s so little water compared to the river. I don’t understand why such a small thing is a problem.”

Zaida shook her head. “It is not the amount of water that is the problem. It is the taking. This wheel, this noria…” she scrunched her face, measuring her words before continuing. “My people, we are the water. We give life to the water and it gives life to us. This machine, it takes the life and we are less because of it.”

Sineta frowned, trying to understand. “But we have taken water from this river forever.”

“Not forever,” countered Zaida. “For a long time, yes. But not forever.”

“But why are your people suddenly angry? What have they done with my father?” Her voice broke as tears welled in her eyes.

“When you were taking the water a little at a time, it was different. But the Noria, it takes the water faster than we can compensate for. We are made weak because it takes more life than we can afford to lose.” The fairy turned from the wheel toward Sineta. “I was with my sister trying to stop it, but we have no direct control over the things of men. I was washed down this channel to your farm.” She dropped her eyes. “My sister was less fortunate.”

Sineta’s eyes opened wide as she struggled for words. “I wasn’t… I don’t… Was she killed?” The last came out as a whisper.

“Not killed, no. But her life magic, so much of it was scooped out of her.”

“Can she be healed?”

“She can be restored,” said the fairy. “But none has the strength to do so while the noria is disrupting our flow.”

“Then we have to stop it.” Sineta’s voice was firm, even as her face drooped. “Except I don’t know how. With my father gone…”

“It is settled, then.” Zaida clapped her tiny hands as a grin crossed her face. “I will help you recover your father. You will help me restore my sister.”

“And then maybe,” said Sineta, “we can find a way to get water to the vineyard that won’t hurt your people.”

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.

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A to Z 2017–A is for Aqueduct

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

 

Welcome to my first post for the A to Z blogging challenge for 2017.

Those of you who have played along with me before probably have some clue of what I’m trying to do here. For those of you who haven’t, you can check out my post where I talk about it, or check out the A to Z website for full details. And if you are interested, you can participate too… it’s not too late to jump into the fray!

Those who have followed my blog the last two years know that I’m trying to write flash fictions corresponding to the letters of the alphabet. And to add to my level of difficulty this year, I decided I want to try to make all my stories somehow fit with a water-related theme.

You might also recognize that, in grand form, I have a bad habit of writing scenes or story starters instead of true flash fiction. But because I’m on a schedule, it is what it is. The stories that spark something for me will probably get revisited at some point. Some may never get completed. Some probably need to be cannibalized and completely rewritten from the ground up. Just, ya know, don’t hold your breath. Although, I do love feedback. So if there’s a flash fiction (or story fragment) that you particularly like, let me know. I might tag it to get looked at again sooner rather than later. 😀

And now, without further ado, today’s installment.

A Is For Aqueduct

“Idiot girl! Can’t you do anything right?”Sineta hung her head and let the tirade flow over her. She knew her mother would apologize in the morning, but that didn’t change the hurt from her words tonight.

Sineta hung her head and let the tirade flow over her. She knew her mother would apologize in the morning, but that didn’t change the hurt from her words tonight.

She wanted to explain, to describe the being she had seen. The thing that startled her and made her drop the basket.  The thing that seemed to giggle and hide as soon as anyone else came near. But she knew her mother would not listen. Her mother never listened, especially when her mother had been drinking her father’s strong, fortified wine. So Sineta kept her head down and her mouth closed.

The wine had been disappearing faster than usual lately. Her father had gone down the mountain to the coast with a cartful of barrels. He was supposed to return before the spring pruning. That was six weeks ago and father still hadn’t returned. The vineyard looked wild and unkempt. Their laborers had been ready to work, but mother would not let them touch the vines without father’s assessment. So the vines were unruly, the laborers had gone by ones and twos to find employment elsewhere, and Sineta was left alone to be shouted at by her drunken mother.

Sineta didn’t notice that her mother was done yelling until she heard the bedroom door slam. That meant peace, at least for the rest of the evening.

She stooped to retrieve the basket she dropped earlier, picking up the produce that had scattered across the kitchen’s plank floor.

As she placed it in the center of their round table where it could not fall again, she froze. Though the window was closed and latched against the evening breeze, the bright blue curtain rippled distinctly in the corner of her vision.

Heart thudding, Sineta turned. “Is someone there?” Her voice was barely audible in the still evening.

Had she still been holding the basket it surely would have fallen again when a tiny face with delicate features peeked out from behind the rough-spun cloth. When a voice like tiny bells spoke, Sineta’s own legs could not hold her and she sat down hard on the floor.

* * *

“I didn’t mean to startle you,” the voice said as Sineta opened her eyes. Small brown eyes surrounded by a wild cascade of black hair inserted themselves into her view of the ceiling. “I’m sorry you fell.” Tiny hands tugged with surprising strength to help Sineta back to sitting instead of sprawled, haphazard, across the age-worn planks of the floor.

“Who are you? I saw you before, didn’t I?”

The tiny woman—not a child, Sineta could tell that much—nodded. “I’m what you might call a water fairy,” she said. “I wouldn’t call me that, but you couldn’t pronounce what I would call me, so that will have to do.”

Sineta blinked. A fairy?

“I need your help,” the fairy continued. “I was accidentally brought here by the aqueduct that supplies your vineyard.”

“Oh no. I’m so sorry!” Sineta was genuinely concerned for her.

The fairy shook her head. “I’m alright,” she said. “But my people are not pleased.” A frown marred the smooth skin of her forehead.

“I fear that they may have disrupted your father’s return.”

**Find a followup to this story in N is for Noria.

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.

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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.