INTELLIGENT STORIES FOR SMART READERS

Homepage of the Author Katharina Gerlach
for children, young adults, and the young at heart

Willkommen, Welcome (Englisch), Fàilte (Gaelic), Bienvenue (Französisch), Djin dobre (Polnish)*.

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“Don’t you miss work?” I asked Melinda.

“I like living here with you alone.” My daughter set aside another darned sock. “Not to forget that the inquisition will never find us here.”

I smiled at her to show her how much I love her, but in secret I longed for something more important to do than making a living. I sighed and went back to my spinning. The regular rhythm and Melinda’s breathing relaxed me and the internal unrest subsided until the peace of our evening routine was disturbed, when something heavy thunked against the window of our little cottage. Since it was dark outside we couldn’t exactly see what it was. My fingers stopped turning the spindle, and we both held our breath, fearing the same. But there was no screaming, no pitchforks, and most of all no fire. Slightly relieved but still wary, I called. “Who’s there?”

“Sh-sh-l ivri” The voice sounded muffled, as if it held something in its mouth and was trying to talk around it. Melinda looked at me, and I looked at Melinda.

“I know someone who talks that way,” I whispered. “But this is a different voice.”

Whoever was outside the window bumped against the delicate pane that kept out the winds. If it broke, winter would send its icy fingers into our home, so I got to the door and opened. But not without stopping at the hearth and picking up the biggest knife we owned. I dropped it the minute the door swung open and revealed a roughly human sized dragon with red scales and a bundle of cloth hanging from its maw. When he saw Melinda standing behind me, he took the bundle out of his mouth and moved his jaw from side to side to loosen the muscles.

“I don’t understand why the boss insists on carrying it in my mouth,” he said and handed the bundle to her. “Special delivery for you. New Stork Inc. sends their congratulations. You’ll find a welcome bonus packed right in.”

With shaking fingers Melinda opened the bundle.

“It’s a boy,” the dragon said needlessly. “Plus a few nappies.”

Melissa’s face mirrored the shock that kept me rooted to the spot. I had to clear my throat several times before I managed to speak. “Why’s Stork sending us a baby? We never ordered one.”

“New policy.” The dragon smiled, displaying more teeth that I was currently happy with. I swallowed, and he smiled some more. “We’ve got a few remnants that need old-style distribution. Your daughter was one of the candidates the boss chose.”

“Remnants? Come in and explain.” I stepped aside. I’d been one of Stork’s helpers for as long as I remembered, learning the midwife’s trade from my mother and passing on my knowledge to Melinda. However, since the inquisition started burning midwifes as witches, we’d gone into hiding. So far successful.

The dragon curled up in front of the hearth, enjoying the warmth of the fire. He puffed a few happy smoke curls before he got to the point. “Stork lost a lot of his delivery crew when the inquisition decided stork deliveries were not real and anyone believing in it was superstitious and needed to be punished. People actually started shooting storks then, I guess because they’re hungry.” He stared into the flames for a while, and I took up my spindle again. He sighed contently. “Well, as I said, Stork lost a lot of his crew that way, so he decided to go direct with a delivery system designed to work without stork transportation. I helped him set up the system. It took quite a lot of magic to get it working properly, believe me.”

“Direct?” My mind whirred. “Stork-free delivery?”

“Well, the seeds get harvested when they’re still in single cell state, and a magical tube shoots them directly into the mother’s belly. It’s a marvel. It really is.” He preened his claws and looked smug. “And I was a major part in developing that system if I may point that out.”

How could Stork send babies straight to the mothers? Into their bellies if I hadn’t misheard. My eyes widened when I realized what that meant. “If he sends the parcel into the mother, it must come back out at some point, right?”

“Yup, and that’s why he’s inviting you to an advanced training in what he calls ‘birth’. That’s short for ‘binary inter-rump transfer holistics’, the name of the new technique. The participants of this course will have to spread the word.”

Suddenly I saw my life stretching out in front of me – always traveling, helping women through ‘birth’ and teaching Stork’s new deliver method throughout the country as best I could while evading inquisition. Ever so often I’d visit Melinda who had to stay behind to take care of her son. Suddenly, Life was exciting again.

Here are the links to the other participants of the Bloghop:
Pocket Heart by Juneta Key
Oh Baby! by J. Q. Rose
Reflected by Elizabeth McCleary
Veronica by Jessica Kruppa
Last Stop by Erica Damon
Jesse and Tyler by Bill Bush
The Poisoner of Time by Karen Lynn

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Naturally we didn’t throw him, that’d be a bad idea. 😀

Niklas is my first ever grandchild, and my daughter didn’t even know she was pregnant (or didn’t want to know). Tuesday morning we went to see a doctor to find out why she’d gained so much weight, and 6 1/2 hours later, my daughter was slender as a young birch and our grandson Niklas greeted us with his screams.

We’re absolutely delighted, turning like mad to get everything we’ll need before the two leave the hospital, and slowly adjusting to the idea of grandparenthood. Of course that does add an additional challenge to my goal of 52 short stories incl. translations, but I won’t give up so easily. We’ll see how it goes. For now, I’ll enjoy having a baby in the house once again.

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Have a wonderful 2017 everyone.

My year will be extremely busy, and here’s why: I’m planning on writing 52 short stories this year. I know this sounds crazy, but after the scare with my father’s breast cancer I need a fun challenge, and I love writing short stories. I know I’ll probably not be able to write one short story per week, translate it into German, and post it here on my blog, but I pledge to at least try. My goal is to write enough of them to fill 4 or 5 anthologies. Should you have cool ideas for story prompts, you’re welcome to eMail them to me through the contact form on this site. If it’s a good suggestion, I’ll take it.

To give you an impression on the scope of this challenge, let’s dive into a couple of numbers (strangely enough I love numbers nearly as much as words). A good sized crime novel has between 50 and 75 thousand words, an epic fantasy between 100 and 250 thousand. If I assume an average short story length of 3,000 words, I’m facing 156,000 words plus the same in translations plus the ca. 100K words I need to finish the novella I’m currently writing, the ending of Scotland’s guardians part 2, and another installment of my fairy tale novellas. That makes 412,000 words in total for 2017 (not to forget the publications that need to be done).

Now let’s have a look at my stats from last year: I managed to write and translate a total of 304,574 words. Had I been writing every single day (even on weekends and holidays) that would have been a mere 835 words per day. Taking off weekends and the times my children were not in school, I think I wrote more than twice that amount per day. To make my goal in 2017, I’ll have to write 2,200 words per day. I call that a real challenge, and I won’t bereave myself should I fail. However, my ambition is to make it through the year reaching all my goals.

Wish me luck (and enough writing time)! I will start posting on January 26 when it’s time for the next Story Time Bloghop.

P.S.: If you want to read more than the beginning (the first 100-250 words) of the short stories I manage to write, you will have to be fast (the full version will be available for a few days after posting only) or wait for 2018 when I’ll publish them all in bundles of 5-6 stories.

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