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The Wait – a short story

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It drifted, waiting.  For what it was waiting, its purpose for being, it didn’t know.  It knew only two things: that it existed, and that it would know when the time came for its wait to be over.

It viewed its surroundings impassively, seeing without understanding what it saw, studying the sparkling points of lights, the thick pulsating cable that vanished into the vague darkness above it, and the glowering crimson-hued disc of churning vapors that floated beneath.  Occasionally, a larger, brighter light would flash before it, momentarily startling it from its state of quiet waiting.  It always returned to this state, content to merely abide for now.

It had no sense of the passage of time; all it knew was the wait, but after a while, gradually, it became aware of a difference, of a disturbance, a ripple of subtle change in its environment.

Its anticipation rose.  It knew its birth was imminent.  The time was nearing for its wait to be over.  Soon it would know for what it had waited, the why of its being, its reason for existing.

More points of light flickered into being around it, pulsing with colors, growing brighter and brighter, filling its entire space with brilliance.  And suddenly, it knew its purpose and that its wait was, at last, coming to an end, and it was filled with delight for its purpose was truly wondrous.

It was born with a suddenness that elicited a cry of surprise, relief, and joy from its parent.  It burst forth with a dazzling flash and was quickly written into a manuscript, becoming the story that was the result of the idea, the brainchild that had incubated and waited in the recesses of the mind of the writer.

End

Elliot needed his fix and he was broke. But, he had a gun…and an easy mark…

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Elliot followed the mark in the Armani business suit carrying the expensive briefcase, strolling casually down the busy street.  He needed his fix: this was his ticket.

He stayed back so he wouldn’t be noticed until too late.

When the guy turned into a side alley, Elliot thought, smugly, He’s making it almost too easy.

The alley was a dead-end.  If he hurried, he’d catch him before he got inside the one real door there.  Even if he did, it led to a stairwell that only went up, and he’d catch him before he got to one of the upper floors.

The other door there didn’t lead anywhere.  He’d once opened it out of curiosity, and there was only an old brick wall behind it.  Whatever had been there, somebody had decided it wasn’t needed and had built the wall, leaving the door in place.

He turned into the alley to see the man open one of the doors and disappear.

Musta got my doors mixed, he thought.

He could’ve sworn the one the man went into was the one with the brick wall.  He went over and opened it quietly, expecting to see a flight of stairs and instead peered into what seemed to be a large, dimly lit storage room.  The mark was nowhere in sight.

Baffled, he stepped across the alley and opened the other door.  A flight of stairs.  He shrugged.  Somebody must’ve removed the wall.

He went back, stealing into the room, silently closing the door behind him.  It was dim but not dark. The man had to be there.  Maybe he’d gone through to another room.

He looked around.  No other doors.  He scratched his head.  What the Hell? Where was the guy?  He heard a sound from the back.

Ha! he thought. Gotcha!

Staying in the shadows, he crept stealthily to the back pulling out his snub nosed .32…and his head exploded, sending him into darkness.

Gradually, he came to, his head full of pain.

Muthafucker musta seen me, he thought groggily as his mind cleared.

He sat up, his hand hitting his gun lying beside him.

Fool didn’t even take my piece.

But he knew he had to leave before the guy came back with cops.  He stood, and his heart began to pound.

The storage room was gone. There was a tall, wrought iron gate before him, and staring malevolently out at him, were an assortment of hellish, slobbering, obviously hungry, creatures.

He swallowed hard and backed slowly away, glad the gate had a prominent padlock on it.  He heard a click.  The gate slowly began to open, the creatures poured out.

Elliot turned and ran.

As the sound of his shrieks and gunfire died away, the clock in the tower inside the gate began to strike.  Then, except for sounds of chewing and crunching, all was silent.

The man in the Armani suit smiled as he watched from a window in the tower.  Again, his pets had been well fed.

 

End

His Heart’s Desire – a short myth

Destined for immortality…

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Bazyli knew his destiny from birth, learned from his mother, who, upon gazing into his newborn face exclaimed, “My son will live forever!”

His father, who was a secretary in the royal palace, knew also, giving him the kingly name of “Bazyli” and schooling him in courtly manners.

Alas, when Bazyli was a youth of twelve, his father was killed when the city was attacked, and he and his mother were taken captive and sold into slavery.

His mother became concubine to their new master and because she pleased him, her son was not sent to work in the quarries as were the other boy slaves his age, where most lived a hard and short life.  Instead, he was given the task of minding the master’s sheep.

Conceitedly believing his station was only temporary, he did not strive to be a good shepherd.  After losing several sheep, he was beaten but again saved from the quarries when his mother pleaded for him.  He was sent to work in the master’s fields but warned: if he did not perform adequately, there would be no other such reprieves.

So, though he knew it was beneath him, but having no choice, Bazyli worked the fields. He was not good at this either, but did well enough to avoid the quarries.

His hair and beard grew long over the years and he fancied himself quite a regal figure.  He would go to visit his mother and she would comb and groom him, remarking on what a fine man he was, telling him his time would come.  She counselled him to remember what his father had taught him, and to refrain from marrying one of the slave women as he was destined for better.  So, he dallied but he never took one to wife, though, occasionally, he dallied with someone else’s wife.

Bazyli was not well liked amongst the slaves due to his arrogant air of superiority, so it was not surprising that, one night, having had enough of his insufferable attitude and of taking up his slack in the fields because his mother was still a favorite of the master’s, not to mention he’d dallied with one wife too many, several fellow slaves cold-cocked him and rolled him down a steep hill.

When he regained his senses, he found himself beside the river.  Indignant, he gathered himself up and prepared to storm back up the hill and demand punishment for his assailants.  Suddenly, the waters of the river roiled and an imposing figure emerged.

“Bazyli,” said the river god – for that was what it was – “We have been watching you, and have decided to grant your heart’s desire.  Speak it, and it shall be yours.”

Bazyli was overjoyed.  At last, his time had come.  He drew himself up and said, grandly, “I am destined for immortality! Make it so!”

The god looked at him sharply.  “Are you certain?”

“Yes!” cried Bazyli, haughtily.

The god nodded – and turned him into a statue for all time.

End

I must say that this is a good book.  Because I read book two first (at the time I didn’t realize there was a book one), I thought this one would be anticlimactic.  However, I was wrong.  It does answer one major question I had while reading book two, but this is an entertaining story that stands quite well on its own.

The protagonist, a most unlikable man – a telepathic serial killer with paranormal powers – is in prison awaiting trial for his crimes.  He’s bent on causing disruption, both in prison and in court, and “going out with a bang” but is thwarted in his efforts by the Friar of a secretive order of the Catholic Church when he is pressed into service to stop a living legend from the Bible who’s working to bring about the Apocalypse.

It’s a case of fighting fire with fire (or evil with evil) that begins a little slow but twists its way to an unusual, action packed, conclusion.

As I discovered with book two, it is well written with few errors in a style that is easy to read and understand, and I’m looking forward to book three.

I think anyone who’s a fan of paranormal/supernatural fiction that has a Biblical bent, will enjoy this story.

The Desire – a short horror story

A chance sighting on a dark sidewalk leads to a desire…

the desire wp

 

The Desire

 

I tried.  I did not succeed but truly, I did try.

When I saw the man striding past, tight anger showing on his face and in the way he carried his body, I turned away, determined not to follow.  But the aura of maleness emanating from him would not allow me to ignore him.  It drew me in.

I slid from the doorway in the alley, slipped out onto the pavement and fell into step behind him.  He was fast but not fast enough, and soon, I had nearly caught up to him.  I was silent but he must have sensed something, intuited that someone was behind him, for he slowed, swung his head around, and peering cautiously into the growing shadows, spotted me.  I did not appear to be a threat to him, a small woman, not very tall, and him a large man of more than average height.  He stopped.

“Are you following me?” he asked, his voice hard edged with annoyance.

“Yes,” I said.  There seemed no point in lying.

He frowned and looked down at me.  “Well stop it!  I’m not in need of what you’re offering!” he snapped, turning to continue on his path down the darkening sidewalk.

I stood there watching him recede into the dimness.  I tried again to turn away, and may well have succeeded, but the man slowed, stopped, and turned.  He stood there for a moment, then, as if coming to some decision, he returned to where I still stood gazing after him.

“Changed my mind,” he snarled.  He reached out and roughly caught my small hand in his large one.  “Come on.  That alley down there will do nicely.”  He indicated the one I had been in when he passed by.

There seemed to be no help for it, then.  I nodded and he strode back down the sidewalk practically dragging me along.

He turned into the alley, pulling me with him to the rear.  He pushed me against the brick wall and began unbuckling his belt, pulling down his zipper.

“How much is this going to cost me?” he asked as he fumbled one hand into his pants to pull himself out.  With his other, he reached to lift my skirt.  Had he not done that, I may still have been able to back away, to resist what I lusted for with my entire body and also what I had no wish to do, but now it was too late.

I raised my face to his, and his eyes narrowed as I said nothing, just stared at him.

“Well?  How much?” he repeated, massaging himself, preparing to thrust as he pushed aside my undergarment.

“Your life,” I murmured quietly as I unleashed myself, rising to my full height and size – which was much greater than his – and I engulfed him before he could scream, my sharp teeth tearing into his soft, succulent, indescribably delicious flesh.

did try.  In the end, as usual, desire won.

End

The Tech – a sci-fi short story

Fixing an outage…simple enough for an electronics tech…right?

the tech watpad

The Tech

Lyda hovered over the darkened sector and extended her ships sensors.  She played the lights across the pillars and towers making them fluoresce in shades of blue when struck.

The tallest and biggest edifice, its large round column rising straight up, towered over the rest before bourgeoning out at the top to form the familiar mushroom shape.  It looked odd.  She increased magnification and immediately saw why.  One of the Lyon pillars at the top appeared to have broken off.

“Going down to the central unit, Rad,” she sent to her controller in Headquarters. “I’ve scanned the area and it looks like we have a broken Lyon.”

“Okay, Lyda, but be careful.  Repairing one of those can be very dangerous.  Wouldn’t want anything to happen to our top tech.”

“No worries, Rad.  Done this before, and I’m always careful.  I’ll be fine.”

She began her descent, reaching the central unit and maneuvering around the spires and intact Lyon pillar to land beside the broken one.  She stepped into the airlock, wriggled into her crawl suit, checked to make sure her tanks and seals were working properly, attached her tools, and hopped out of the ship.

And found right off why the Lyon was broken.

A cryot came rushing around the side of the left-hand spire, sailed over the debris from the crumpled pillar and slammed into her side.  She shrieked as she flew sideways toward the edge of the column but had the presence of mind to activate her grappler, catching herself on a nearby spire.

She could hear Rad shouting in her ear but didn’t have time to answer as the cryot was trying its best to follow up on its initial attack.  She reached into her tool belt, pulled out her torch, aimed at the oncoming assailant and slammed the “on” switch.

The white-hot beam streaked out hitting the cryot in its head as it leaped.  It crashed down two feet away from her and lay there smoking, one of its outstretched claws giving a final twitch as it expired.

“I’m okay, Rad,” she told her frantic controller as she carefully checked the area for more of the metallic creatures.  “Cryot trouble. Don’t see any others but I need to wrap this up fast.”

She set up a detector so she wouldn’t be taken by surprise again, laid out her tools and went to work on the broken Lyon.  One piece was beyond use so she hefted up the defunct cryot, shoved it into the space and tacked it in.  She smiled.  Served it right.  It would also serve as a warning to any others that showed up.

The grid lit up nicely and Rad verified all systems were restored, there was no further damage, so Lyda lifted off and headed for the enlargement chambers.

Rad was waiting for her when she came out restored to her proper size.  He grabbed her and held her tight.  She was their best nano tech, but she was also his wife.

End

A Moment in Time – A short sci-fi story

A small inaccuracy can lead to a big hitch…

 

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A Moment in Time

Gerald Lansing’s job was making sure all parts were to specs.  Unable to get one piece to calibrate, he looked up the original calculations and found an error, or at least an anomaly.  He made a print-out and went to Prof. Willard, the head of the project who’d made the computations.

“Sir, there’s something I think you should take a look at,” he said pointing to the suspected problem.  “I’m not getting the specified results.  Perhaps someone has made a change?”

“What? Let me see,” said Prof. Willard.  He took the paper.

He scrutinized the figures, crumpled the page and handed it back, frowning.  “I don’t see a problem, and nothing has been changed.  Look, you’re not supposed to be going over these figures.  You’re just a technician.  This type of math is too complicated for you to properly comprehend.  Just do your job and leave the temporal calculations to those of us who’re experts.”  He stalked off.

Gerald sighed.  He’d felt he had to say something, but the professor saw him as only a pair of hands, a servant expected to do exactly as told.  He knew going to any others in the lab would do no good: they never questioned Prof. Willard.  He shrugged, tossed the balled paper into a nearby can, and went back to work trying to set the experimental temporal shifter as specified, finally getting it to more or less agree with the schematics.

The big day arrived.  Gerald’s qualms were allayed by the preliminary trials.  They had gone well.  The temporal shifter worked perfectly, first going back several minutes, then a day, and finally to the previous month.  The lab animals returned unharmed, and the head tech who’d volunteered to do the last test came back satisfied.  He’d landed exactly where he was supposed to on the desired date.

Prof. Willard entered the cubicle and settled himself at the console.  The place and time was set for an uninhabited, open plain in the western United States two hundred years ago.  He started up and watched his instruments.  When the counter stopped, he opened the door, stepping out – and realized something was wrong.

He stared at the landscape, horrified.  Rushing toward him through what appeared to be tall palm trees was a horde of different kinds of dinosaurs.  He dove back in and hit the return switch.  Nothing happened.  The vehicle shook as the animals thundered past on either side.  The sounds diminished and he reopened the door.  A very small animal, the size of a chicken scurried by.

It was hot, the sky a fiery orange.  He looked up and the air was streaked with flashes of light as the rocks kicked up by the giant meteorite strike fell back to Earth.  The destruction that helped wipe out eighty percent of all surface life sixty-five million years ago fell around him.  The last thing he saw was a palm tree silhouetted in front of a huge ball of fire coming straight at him.

End

Masked – a short horror story

A trip to the museum can have unexpected consequences…

 

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Masked

 

“When, exactly, did you begin seeing this dark face?” asked Dr. Huntley, his washed out blue eyes peering through his round glasses at me.

I was reluctant to talk about it, but it had become so disturbing that I had to tell somebody.  It had to be a hallucination so who better to tell than my shrink?  I shifted on the couch, the stiff leather crackling as I moved to cross my legs at the ankles.  I stared at the ceiling.

“It resembles a mask more than a face, Doc.  It showed up a month ago, after my trip to the museum.”

He perked up.  “What did you see at the museum, what exhibits?”

I didn’t want to say it; I knew what he would think, but… “I looked at paintings, and saw the African crafts display.”

“Ah, and what was in the display?”

“Carvings of animals, people, examples of homespun cloth, that sort of thing.  No masks if that’s what you’re thinking.”

He stared at me, then looked down at his notes.  He cleared his throat.

“This…mask, how does it behave when you see it?”

“It just stares, Doc.  It doesn’t do anything.”

“Well, Gerald, I know you’ve been disturbed ever since your accident, so I’m going to give you a prescription for something that will calm your nerves.  Let’s try it for a while, see if it helps.”

I was dubious but I nodded, and he called the prescription in.  I picked it up on the way home from work.

Later, the mask stared at me from the darkened entry hall at home, disappearing when I hit the light switch.  I eyed the medicine bottle.  Take two tablets twice a day with water.  Okay.  I popped two into my mouth, upended the water glass and swallowed.

After a half-hour of TV, I glanced around the room seeing no sign of the mask lurking in any of the dimly lit corners.  The knot in my stomach uncoiled, and I went to bed.

Of course, I’d lied to the doctor.  There were masks in the African exhibit, but I couldn’t tell him about the one that had looked at me, could I?  The dark, elongated one with slits for eyes that seemed to watch me as I stood there; that had smiled at me with a cruel twist to its full lips that had sent a spear of ice down my spine.  I’d fled the museum, relieved once I was outside in bright, cloudless, daylight.  Short-lived relief, because, afterwards, the thing loomed in every unlit spot, every shadow.

Now, a sound awakens me.  Oddly, I can’t move.  I realize I’m in the museum, in the African exhibit room.  A man stands before me.  He looks familiar: he’s my doppelgänger.  Raking me with his cold eyes, he smiles wickedly, knowingly, and exits the room.

Then, I see the mask staring woodenly at me.  It’s a reflection from a mirror on the opposite wall.

If I could scream, I would.

 

The Dance – A short sci-fi horror story

Performing before a judge can be a harrowing experience…

 

the dance

The Dance

Alarac watches us.  It is impossible to see any expression on his face as it is hidden behind the full mask that protects him from the noxious fumes whirling around.  He is dressed in full regalia, his drag rope looped over his shoulder.  He is seated on the containers that hold our remaining dry rations.

It is hard for me to keep my eyes away from the oil lamp on the case beside him.  He will only place the colored powder on the flame when he makes his choice.

I do a pirouette, rising up on my toes, then I go into a plié.  There is no applause, no cheering – we do not dance to entertain.

My skin is itching; soon it will start to burn, but we are required to dance in only our threadbare undergarments and bare feet.  We dance on the only patch of ground that does not smoke, but even so, my feet already sting.  Alarac will make his decision before it gets so difficult that we must withdraw into the cave.

I leap and go into a fast run and somersault over Brin who is down on one knee as part of his routine.  I pray I do not lose my thin respirator, the only breathing apparatus allowed during the dance.  I am beginning to tire but I must continue.

We know that of the four of us dancing, only three will prevail.  Whoever Alarac decides against will not be given further consideration.

I only succeeded the last time because Sheila lost her balance and fell.  Until then, she had been dancing beautifully whereas I had sustained two stumbles that were sure to get my color thrown into the lamp.

I try not to notice how well Brin is moving.  He is stronger than I, though none of us are as strong as Alarac, so his leaps are higher, his rhythms purer.

Once, the dance was to determine who acquired a share of the meat Alarac brought in, and who got only dry rations and wild carrots, but as time went on, meat became scarce and the rations became depleted, the root vegetables were dying out too, and now the dance has a different purpose.

The itch in my skin begins to burn, my legs to shake, and I see Alarac’s gloved hand reaching to sprinkle the powder on the fire.  The lamp flares blue.  Shuddering, I drop exhausted to the ground, and watch as Alarac rises and quickly trusses up Simone, who collapsed when she saw her color.  She cries out but is too weak to struggle, and as Alarac’s knife flashes, our group goes down to fifteen.  Her bones will join Sheila’s on the bare and stony escarp where I saw them last week when we went out to search for the few, stunted wild carrots that remain on the rocky and poisonous hillside.

Brin, Derick, and I, will live to dance again in two weeks.  Tonight, Simone is food.

 

End

A Review of “Stenson Blues” by Freddie Silva

 

                          Enter once again into the world of the Seven Kingdoms, where war and political intrigue reign.  In this second book of The Kingdom of Haven series, we meet a most unlikely player, Olaf the younger, sometimes called the unlucky, nephew of the founder of the Kingdom of Haven, Olaf the elder who was exiled from his home some years ago.

 

Nephew Olaf, having been crippled at an early age, is treated as a servant by his family (his last job was shoveling pig sh—er, um, pig stuff), and he is considered to be worthless for anything else.  However, once the family learns of his uncle’s rise in power at having obtained his own kingdom, they decide to send the nephew, along with an insufferably arrogant cousin, to try and curry favor with the uncle since he’s now a royal and they’re hoping some of it will rub off on them.

 

This story is told from the POV of the nephew, and is, in one sense, a coming of age story.  I enjoyed getting inside his head, knowing his thoughts and feelings, seeing his insecurities, watching him grow, and I know this is his story, however, I kind of missed interacting with Olaf the uncle, who’s story was told in the first book (The Order of the Wolf) from his POV.  I would have enjoyed seeing him having had more of a presence.  Just my opinion, though, probably because Olaf the nephew is so young, and the uncle is older – and so am I.

 

Still, it was quite an enjoyable read (I read it in one sitting because every time I tried to put it down, it sort of wouldn’t let me!), one that can be enjoyed by just about any age group.  Though there is not as much action as is in the first one (though there is some), the sense of the adventure of a different, less high-tech world is still there, and there is tons of intrigue.  And, yeah, as soon as the next one is out, I will run right out (or to my nearest internet device) and buy it too!

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