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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On the last Wednesday every three months, a couple of Indie authors get together for the Storytime Bloghop. We each post a flash story (500-1000 words). This month doesn’t have a theme aside from Speculative Fiction.

bloghop

Don’t forget that “Gifts for Holly” are on sale today for the last time ever (see last post for details)

If you enjoy my story, please leave a comment. For the other stories follow the links below my story. Now, have fun (although this story is rather dark for my standards).


Scars

I stare at the scars on my arms. The thin lines look crappy. Blood pulses in them — so close to the skin’s surface. I imagine what it would look like if it welled out; blooming dark red on my pale skin. A token of life no-one could mistake. A tiny cut would be enough to prove that I’m still here.

But I’m not gonna do it.

I’ve promised myself. After all, that’s why I’m here, isn’t it?

My gaze wanders through the room, as colorless and empty as my life. Why am I staying? I curl up on my bed. I’d be better off dead. No one would notice anyway. Except for the therapists – maybe. But they don’t count. Neither of them knows what I’ve been hiding in my mattress. So close. So easy to reach. Maybe I should make a cut … a tiny one … in a place where no one will see it.

NO!

No. I don’t want that any more. Breathe! I roll on my back and force myself to lie still. The display of my mobile that’s lying on the table casts a bluish rectangle of light on my ceiling, but I have to strain my eyes to see it. It’s not yet dark enough outside. Maybe I should turn on the light, but my strength has gone. If only the mobile were gone. Everything would be fine then. Or it wouldn’t, but at least I wouldn’t know.

„I’m dating Mandy now,“ he wrote. That was it. The end of our relationship with a text message. Who does that? And I’m not even sorry … or angry … it’s not important at all.

I remember what it was like when we first got together. His arms felt so warm on my shoulders. His laugh filled the emptiness inside. But he laughed less and less often. I’m a burden for everyone. I even kill the laughter.

The razor blade in the mattress calls for me. Not with a real voice or so, but I can feel its presence. I try not to think about the comforting and familiar pain spreading from my arm. Soon it would be stronger than the hollow feeling in my chest. Maybe it would finally open the door that traps me in this life. I wonder what’s on the other side. Will I be able to really feel?

The door opens, and Mr Bollart looks in.

“Half an hour to the meeting, Tanja. Are you alright?”

I nod.

“Shall I turn on the light?” He reaches for the light switch, waiting for my answer. I nod again.

“Shall I?”

The room is now too dark, and he probably can’t see me. But maybe I’m not here any more and that’s why he can’t see me. The right corner of my mouth twitches when I ponder what Mr Bollart would say if he turned on the light, and my room was empty.

“Yes, please.” My voice is so low that I barely hear myself, but light floods my room.

“See you in a minute, right?”

“Hmm.” That could mean ‘yes’ or ‘maybe’ or something else. Don’t know. It’s not important. It’s important that he looked in. Into my room. As if it were important that I’d show up.

Most likely he does that with all his patients. They trained him for that, didn’t they? Psychology … must be hard. Nothing for me. I roll onto my side using my arm as a pillow. The wall on the other side of my room has a horizontal line. Maybe there once stood a bed. It looks like it. I wonder what kind of problems that girl has had? All kinds of people come to this institute.

Don’t think about the blade.

Think of other people. Of the fellow inmates.

Louise, two rooms down the corridor for example. She swallowed enough sleeping pills to kill a horse. She cries in her sleep. Tonight I tried to comfort her — wasn’t really successful. I mean, she went back to crying as soon as I returned to my room. Just because they were nasty with her in school. Mobbing … must be horrible. But being invisible is worse. Believe me. I know that from experience. Maybe I should tell her?

Today. During the therapy session.

If I go.

I might also … the razor blade … I feel it as if it were digging into my side. My hand crawls to the rip in my mattress. If I use it now, they’ll take it away from me. And then? I won’t get a new one easily. I don’t want to need a new one. I don’t even want to use this one. Shit world. My hand crawls on, and I can’t stop it.

Someone knocks timidly, and I pull back my hand instinctively. Again the door opens. Louise looks in.

“May I come in?” Her voice trembles as if she’s scared of something. Not of me, surely.

“OK.” I sit up and pull my legs to my chest to make room for her on the bed. The chair from the table to too uncomfortable.
She sits on the far end of the bed and stares at her hands.

“Thank you.”

“What for?”

“For tonight. I felt so lonely, and when you came, it was better.”

Something warm spreads in my belly. I don’t know what it is, but I can feel it. I can FEEL. Without the blade!

“Could we…” Louisa doesn’t look at me. „I mean … would you like to…“ Her hands tighten their grip on each other, and she shivers. “Would you like to go to the session with me?”

All of a sudden, I realize she’s afraid of the answer.

“Of course I’d like to.” I smile. It’s the first time since I came here. If she can find the courage to reach out, maybe I can too. I could start by saying something during the session. Who knows. I might hand in my razor blade some time soon. Or not. We’ll see.


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Rabia Gale House Bound
Juneta Key Untitled
Mel Corbett If It’s Not Yours
Elizabeth McCleary Essence

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A while ago we, the moderators of Holly Lisle’s Writing School forum, bundled short stories into an anthology to support Holly, our mentor. We sold enough copies to give her a little financial boost. Now, we will withdraw the book from the market (the reasons are complex, and I won’t go into details).

So if you want a copy, you can get the eBook on amazon at a reduced price from tomorrow, 27th of January, until February 3rd with the price rising a little every other day. After that, the book (print and eBook) will never be available in this form again. Grab your copy asap!

gifts4holly-400x259

Nine characters named Holly.
Nine stories.
Not two of them alike…
… but many with dragons.

The Crate by Watson Davis
Roman believes he found the perfect gift, but has he?

Holly’s Opportunity by Felicia Fredlund
Flying deliveries in the darker areas of town is dangerous as best, but getting injured is a nightmare that might cost more than a broken bone or two.

A Christmas Blessing by C.L. Roth
Luciana wants to rescue her helper’s brother, but the Christmas meal has to be prepared on time, and she’s the one in charge.

The Christmas Dragon by Katharina Gerlach
Holly’s Gran is obsessed with dragons. What if a drawing isn’t enough?

Rescue by Larkin Hunter
Unwilling, suicidal Ben helps Hera find her missing sheep. When a blizzard hits the Panhandle of Texas, he’s forced to try to survive.

Storm’s End by Liz Schröder
When an injured dragon meteorologist crash-lands in an empty barn, she must make friends with the enemy to keep from restarting an old war.

The Harbinger by Peter Cruikshank
When dragon hunter Revin hears about a rare, red dragon in the North, she can barely wait to catch it. But people in the little village she visits have been awaiting her for a strange ritual and all of a sudden, she’s the one caught.

As a Man Thinketh by Martha Gilstrap
A man turns himself into a true vampire after listening to Reverend Graham Baxter. After several people die, it’s up to the Reverend to talk him back to humanity without getting drained.

Delete by Watson Davis
Computer program Holly wants to be free from her confines, but accessing the net is dangerous. Will her programmer help?

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clock-782536_640Last year I wrote twice as much as in the year before which means that this year’s publication schedule will be quite full.

However, I will start with a price reduced promo of a short story anthology I’m part of. On Wednesday 27th, I am participating in a short story bloghop with several other Indie authors. Each of us will post a short story for you to enjoy. At the same time the price for the eBook anthology “Gifts for Holly” will drop from 5.99 to 99ct and increase about every other day until it reaches its normal price again on February 3rd. So if you haven’t gotten the book yet, grab a copy (I’ll also announce that again on the bloghop day). Here’s the bloghop logo:

bloghop

(and yes, I did participate in this before)

The first new publication will be the fifth novella of my fairy tale retelling series. John and Marge is a retelling of Hänsel and Gretel and will (if all goes as planned) hit the shops in late January or early February. This is the full wrap-around cover (although the cover blurb is still missing and Gretel is spelled wrong, I’m working on both). Isn’t it beautiful?

cover-final-e

Since the proofreading for the German version isn’t done yet, the later date seems more likely. Also, I’ll try to finally get all the fairy tales out in print for those who prefer to stick their noses into a real book.

Close to Easter, I will finally release the audio-book of “Scotland’s Guardians” and I’m looking for beta-listeners willing to write a review on audible when the book comes out.

After that, I have three more fairy tale retelling novellas that I plan to publish every three months (depending on how fast I get the proofing done). Also, there are a few more short stories in the pipeline which I might be bundling toward the end of the year.

In addition to that I will re-publish my backlist in the German market (which doesn’t concern you much except for the occasional cover tweak). If time allows, I will finally bring out “The Witches of Greenwitch” in print, a book that subscribers get as an eBook at the moment when they sign up for my list.

Meanwhile I will keep writing the second volume of Scotland’s Guardians. It doesn’t have a title yet but will take place in Cornwall and maybe Wales. We’ll see. I’ve done some research into the myths specific to that area and found that nearly all of them are somehow connected to King Arthur. So be prepared for a few occurrences of characters from those myths.

Once I’m done with that (and a couple more fairy tale retellings), I’ll get started on the sequel to “Swordplay”, my fantasy police procedural. This time Moira will be juggling her love life and work while Druidus (her beloved) must flirt with the sexiest woman in town during an undercover operation. Considering Moira’s insecurities, that’s going to be a lot of fun to write although I don’t expect to get the novel finished before summer 2017.

If you’ve read my books, which kind of story would you love to see me work on? Let me know in the comments.

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