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April 2024: Storytime Bloghop

Oh dear, how time flies. It’s already time for the #free #stories again. You’ll find mine below and several more if you follow the links at the end.

By the way, I’ve published my short story turned comic in time for Easter. Unfortunately the print version is still somewhat wonky, but the eBook is fine. If you want to check it out, here’s the link to the eBook on Amazon.

And here’s my Bloghop story:

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Automatic Transcript
Part 6

Anwesend: POLICE OFFICER Schulze, DETECTIVE BLENDINGER, KATHARINA GERLACH
 
PO SCHULZE: We’ve been at this for five hours already. Don’t you think it’s time to come clean?
DETECTIVE BLENDINGER: We know you did it.
KATHARINA GERLACH: But I did not.
DETECTIVE BLENDINGER: Then how come that the victim’s blood was found in your bathtub?
PO SCHULZE: Yes, that was disgusting. What did you have to cut him up for.
KATHARINA GERLACH: (crying) I didn’t. I’ve no idea how his blood got into my bathroom.
DETECTIVE BLENDINGER: You can’t pretend his blood wasn’t there.
(crying)
PK SCHULZE: And his DNA. You can no longer deny you killed him. Give us a confession and get it over with. Your honesty will be taken into account.
KATHARINA GERLACH: (crying) I never killed anyone, and I wouldn’t if I could.
DETECTIVE BLENDINGER: Stop lying!
(crying, loud slap on tabletop)
DETECTIVE BLENDINGER: We know you brutally murdered a man. A booklover! A father! A husband! What do you think his family is feeling, now that you killed a harmless man?
UNNAMED MALE VOICE: (loud) Harmless? Are you out of your minds?
PO SCHULZE: What the …
KATHARINA GERLACH: (voice still wobbly but with rising anger) Gregorian, get out of me, right now! You have no right to possess me.
GREGORIAN: Yes, I do. But as you command.
DETECTIVE BLENDINGER: Oh God …
(vomiting noises)
GREGORIAN: It’s in your contract on page 746 second to last paragraph where it clearly states that I may possess you if you’re in danger of losing your soul, the one you’ve promised me.
KATHARINA GERLACH: I wasn’t in danger of losing my soul!
DETECTIVE BLENDINGER: Who are you? How were you able to be inside of her? Your exit … (gagging sounds) Why isn’t she dead?
GREGORIAN: Now, that’s an interesting question, and one I haven’t managed to answer for quite a while. I’ve tried everything to collect her soul, but without success. But that’s nothing you mere mortals can help with. Leave her alone, so I can keep working on the answer to that puzzle. Aside from writing, she’s done nothing. Nothing at all to deserve this anyway.
KATHARINA GERLACH: Gregorian, what did you do?
GREGORIAN: I saved you. God forbid!
2ND UNNAMED M. V.: (bellowing) Leave my name out of this, Gregorian.
GREGORIAN: Sorry, Sir.
DETECTIVE BLENDINGER: What the hell is going on here?
KATHARINA GERLACH: I summoned a demon a while back—
GREGORIAN: To fetch dog food, so she didn’t have to leave her precious grandson and her writing. Can you imagine that?
KATHARINA GERLACH: Gregorian…
GREGORIAN: (huff)
DETECTIVE BLENDINGER: What’s that got to do with everything?
GREGORIAN: Fell in love with her writing, I did, of course. Devlishly good! And that cretin didn’t want to read even one of her books. Did you know that he beat up his wife and kids regularly?
PO SCHULZE: (whispering) That did come to light in our investigation, yes.
DETECTIVE BLENDINGER: I still don’t see a connection. We’ve ruled the family out as suspects.
GREGORIAN: I made him!
PO SCHULZE: Made him what?
GREGORIAN: Read one of her books. And you know what he said?
DETECTIVE BLENDINGER: Well, obviously something you didn’t like. Probably that her books aren’t as good as you think.
KATHARINA GERLACH: Gregorian! I’ve told you over and over again that you can’t just force someone to read my books. Not everyone likes Fantasy.
GREGORIAN: I made him read one of the historical novels. And they are truly great. Plus they’re based on True Life.
KATHARINA GERLACH: That’s not the point, Gregorian. Whatever you did to him happened in MY body!
DETECTIVE BLENDINGER: So you do admit to killing him, Mrs Gerlach?
GREGORIAN: She does no such thing. I killed that guy. His soul was so black, it already belonged to my Master anyway. So I simply extracted it. Then, I extracted the bones and dumped them somewhere in the wild. And finally, I made minced meat out of the rest and fed it to the hellhounds. She? She was lost in the planning of her next novel.
DETECTIVE BLENDINGER: In that case, I arrest you for first degree murder.
(metallic chinks, poof sound)
PO SCHULZE: Heh?
DETECTIVE BLENDINGER: Where are you? There’s no place on Earth you can hide. We’ll find you.
KATHARINA GERLACH: He’s been summoned back to hell. That happens quite often.
2ND UNNAMED M. V.: (whispering) I’m protecting him, Cat. He’ll not suffer for falling in love with books. After all, love is what’ll redeeem everyone.
KATHARINA GERLACH: Thank’s, God.
DETECTIVE BLENDINGER: Schulze, get the call out and add his description.
PK SCHULZE: Is that wise, Sir? Considering he doesn’t have a skin or clothes or hair, only horns?
DETECTIVE BLENDINGER: Who has?
PO SCHULZE: The de … (pause) I don’t remember, Sir.
DETECTIVE BLENDINGER: What are you still doing here, Mrs. Gerlach? Haven’t we dismissed you already? We’ve got a murderer to catch.
PO SCHULZE: She’ll need her discharge papers signed.
DETECTIVE BLENDINGER: Yes, of course. Interview ended.
 
CLICK
 
ONE WEEK UPDATE: no follow up reports / no conviction
ONE MONTH UPDATE: no follow up reports / no conviction
ONE YEAR UPDATE: no follow up reports / no conviction

 

Visit the others:
Working With Stan by Bill Bush
Possession by Barbara Lund
R=Lessons by T. R. Neff
The Perfect Gift by Gina Fabio
The One That Got Away by James Husum
Sneak Peek: Midlife Ghostwalker by Juneta Key

 

» Read More

February 2024: Storytime Bloghop

Since I missed out on the Bloghop in autumn for the first time ever, you’ll get not one, but two #free #stories on my blog today. You’ll find even more if you follow the links below the stories.

As to my writing, I haven’t done any aside from this short story. However, I have turned one of my short stories into a comic. It’ll still take a little while but I’ll be publishing it soon, hopefully before Easter. After all, it’s about the Easter Hare. I’m contemplating publishing it as a bilingual comic with the original short stories added. If this sounds like a good idea to you, please let me know in the comments.

And here’s my story:

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What If

“What if there really were dragons?” Sitting on the ground in front of her French windows, Jane looked into the summer sky that dwarfed the grassy plain beneath where her father’s horses grazed. The sun was sinking rapidly. Another day nearly over. She sighed and tried to focus on something else. “Would they come and eat our horses?”

“Of course.” Her older brother Tom lifted his hands over his head, curling his fingers into claws. “And they’d eat you too!” He raked her back with his claws. They didn’t draw blood but they still hurt.

Jane knew better than to cry, but she couldn’t suppress a moan.

“Oh, little sissy, did that hurt?” Tom kicked her. His shoes were hard and they touched old bruises.

Jane fought her tears valiantly and didn’t make another sound. She watched Tom strode through her big pink and green room. The friendly floral wallpaper, the white feathery light fixture hanging from the ceiling, and the meticulously made bed were such a contrast to his nastiness.

Tom went to her writing desk, grabbed her diary, and grinned. “One day I’m gonna add something that gets you into real trouble with Dad.”

As if she’d ever put anything into that diary that didn’t align with Mom’s and Dad’s rules. And she’d trained herself to write so sloppy that he hadn’t yet figured out how to emulate her writing. So that rendered his threat useless.

For now.

Jane lowered her gaze, blinking away tears. Staring at the fluffy white circular carpet on the parquet floor with a sad expression often convinced him she was sufficiently subdued. Today too.

With her diary in his hands he turned to leave. “Room control is in ten minutes. I’d clean up if I were you.”

The door slammed behind him, and Jane looked around in panic. Was anything wrong? Did he bring in dirt? There wasn’t even a grain on the ground, so that wasn’t it. But there had to be something. She got up and searched the room in greater detail. Her heart raced as she examined every square millimeter of the room. Why couldn’t it be smaller? What had he hidden that didn’t belong?

When she lay on the ground, she saw two red lights in the darkness under the bed and let out a relieved sigh. He’d brought one of his robots. Well, she’d put it into the corridor and leave it there. That way he wouldn’t get her into trouble. Mom and Dad didn’t ever scold him for being untidy.

She shimmied forward and reached for the red eyed thing under her bed.

It hissed. Keep your fingers away from me or I’ll bite them off.

The voice sounded right inside her mind. Jane sat up and bumped her head on the bedframe. “Outch.”

Her gaze shot to the door. Had someone heard? Despite her fear of whatever sat under her bed, she peeked again. “Look,” she whispered, trying to add urgency to her voice. “I don’t care who or what you are. You need to leave right now. My parents will inspect my room in just a few minutes.”

So? They can’t hurt me. The voice sounded sullen and a little defensive.

“But me.” Jane forced the words out. Of course it wouldn’t mean anything to the creature under her bed. After all, they weren’t friends and only friends stood up for their friends, she’d heard. She couldn’t tell. She’d never had friends.

Well, it’s not like I want to be in a human’s dwelling. The scratching of claws on wood seemed to fill the room with a noise so loud that surely her parents would hear. Only inches away from her face, an emerald snout with countless gleaming white teeth grew out of the dark. It was big but not scarily so, and the red eyes seemed to look at her without malice. And Jane was good at detecting malice.

Someone chucked my egg under this, the head jerked toward the bed, so I hatched here. Are you stuck too?

“In a way.” Jane heard voices coming up the stairs and looked around frantically. “You need to hide.”

I need to leave.

“Good idea.” She jumped to her feet and ran to the French doors. They were a little hard to operate in summer, but they’d allow the creature, whatever it was, to flee before her parents reached her room. She pulled with all her strength and the right hand wing slowly eased open.

The creature was roughly the size of a grownup. A scale covered lizard with a tail, a teeth studded snout, four stumpy and clawed legs, and skin dangling from its shoulders. It rushed past her, spread emerald wings, and took off into the last rays of the sunset, just as the door to her room opened.

Had that really been a dragon? A real dragon? Jane’s heart thumped in her chest, as much from the surprise as from the knowledge that there was no way she could explain that to anyone. Least of all to her parents.

“Why is it so dark in here?” Despite her words, Mom didn’t switch on the lights. She seemed to be in a bad mood. A bruise had formed on her forehead. The usual. “And who said you could open the window?”

“I guess, you need some disciplining.” The belt slipped from Dad’s trousers with a swish that made her legs wobble. Not again. She stepped away from the open glass door as he stepped forward, rolling most of the belt around his hand, leaving the buckle to dangle.

“I just needed some fresh air,” she whispered, knowing fully well that there was no way she’d be able to escape his wrath. Already tears were running over her face.

“Don’t you remember the rules?” Mom pointed to Dad. “You have to ask your father for permission!”

Dad took another step forward, and Jane backed away some more, crying silently the whole time. “Please. I didn’t mean to. I just … I’m sorry, Dad. Please don’t hit me.” Sometimes, if she cried badly enough and begged enough, he stopped before she passed out.

Something dark shot through the open door, low to the ground and as black as night. Dad screamed as the shadow flew over his body with barely a hand-width of space between them.

The belt fell to the ground and the air suddenly smelled of urine and rust.

A bright flame shot into the air, catching the ceiling right where the light was. The feathers caught and a few seconds later, the whole ceiling was beginning to burn.

The shadow circled gracefully around Mom and came at Jane from behind. She closed her eyes, waiting for the end.

Spread your legs, the voice in her head said. Hurry. Or do you want to burn?

Although extremely surprised, Jane did as she was told. As she spread her legs, something warm and smooth and scaled slipped between them, lifting her off the ground. She opened her eyes, just as the dragon turned toward the open window. The fire was eating rapidly into the house’s wood. Tom stood in the door, staring at her and the dragon like he’d seen a ghost. Mom was dragging Dad toward safety. He seemed too stunned to realize his arm was badly mangled. Blood dropped from the hand that hung limp at his side and his trousers were wet, but he was walking.

As the dragon carried her into the mild summer night, Jane was sure her family would get out before the whole house burned down. She had no idea what the future would bring, especially with a dragon as a rescuer—or friend—but she was more than ready to face whatever the world had to offer, It couldn’t be worse that what she’d lived through already.

She did not look back.

 

Visit the others:
First Real Assignment by Bill Bush
A Whole New World by Barbara Lund
Eye of the Beholder by Chris Makowski
Subject: If You Don’t Hear From Me Again by Gina Fabio
Percival’s Bane: The Demon and The Void by Juneta Key
Rabble Rouser by James Husum

 

» Read More

February 2024: Storytime Bloghop
Chris Makowski – fellow author

Since I missed out on the Bloghop in autumn for the first time ever, you’ll get not one, but two #free #stories on my blog today. You’ll find even more if you follow the links below the stories.

Chris Makowski is a family man with more on his plate than he should have. It’s a wonder he can still find time to write. He’s currently revising a story in several volumes that he amicably refers to as “The Bricks”. Truth be told, I can barely wait to read them. Here’s his short story (same universe):

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Eye of the Beholder

“It’s not like there’s ever a dull moment in the PGPD.” I pour Seamus another shot of the good stuff. “Last week started with a bunch of attic B&Es, the guy claims he’s making sure bats aren’t being abused. It ended with a cat ringing doorbells. Honestly, this sounds like a prank waiting for a punchline.”

“Nae, this is beyond the Port Goode Police, Arthur, more than a cat or someone busting into attics.” One swallow, and my informant’s hand shakily begs another. “I tell ye true. Go there. It nae be a prank, and if ye don’ stop it, then…” His head slowly lowers to the table and snores emerge.

I drop two bills on the table and nod at Jake. The bar’s safe enough.

Stolen: one pallet of fertilizer, a display of charcoal briquettes, every piece of chalk out of every school in Port Goode. The whole shebang landed on my desk because my partner is out on medical leave.

Lucky me.

Then again, how do you tell a straight-laced, hard-nosed detective from the great state of Washington there’s a reason we hang horseshoes over our doors?

I spin my keys and drive.

One stop for coffee, and I’m watching a warehouse only held up by old paint and rust. All the windows are broken and the sign has smeared to illegibility.

New gate lock though.

Maybe Seamus is right.

I check my piece. Wrong phase of the moon for silver.

Switch to the iron hollow points.

Near sundown, a rental truck pulls up. A short guy with a red stocking cap pops out and unlocks the gate. Hard to miss the cleaver on his belt. When he pulls in, two more guys – same cap, more sharp objects – jump out and start unloading. Red posterboard. Red cellophane.

When the warehouse door opens, my fingers tingle from all the magic leaking out, none of it good.

I’ve got the right place.

I cross the street, slip in the front door – lock’s broken anyway – call the cavalry …

Radio’s dead. Have to do this alone.

“Hey!”

Sure enough, a pallet of poop, a pile of coal, a pile of chalk, and startled redcaps looking at me – six of them, seventeen rounds means almost three each. I sight on the nearest. “As Paladin of the Pact between the Fae and the Folk, I hereby—“

Out of the shadows she flows, tall as me, with gray skin from toe to end of the leathery wings extending from her back and down her arms. A fire of red hair wraps around her, silver mail protecting her everywhere it isn’t. Her animalistic fur-covered face is a snub nose, long ears coming to a point, and a grin filled with sharp and hungry. The air crackles as her hand finds the barbed whip at her waist.

Redcaps I can handle. A Daughter of the Furies?

“—call for parley.” I quickly hold up my piece and place it on a dusty table. “Arthur Lane, Paladin of the Pact, Detective, Port Goode Police Department.” I swallow, remembering Seamus’ words. “Son of Emma Adelaide Harper and Asher James Lane.”

She hisses but waves the redcaps back. “Melantha, Daughter of Megaera. My father is unimportant.” Her whip sweeps the ground. “Amuse me, Paladin of the Pact.”

I gesture at the piles. “I don’t understand, your Magnificence—“

“Magnificence?” Her head tilts back with a cackle. “I am done with hiding behind glamour. I tire of you humans celebrating sticky romance and love conquers all – I watch your movies, read your books, all of it lies and nothing but!” She gestures to her redcaps. Three are forming heart-shaped boxes of cardboard and cellophane, and three are making candy out of chalk, charcoal, and – bile hits my mouth. “This time, your people will eat ordure, chew tastelessness, and know your shallow truth. Love is a lie. You are hereby judged and found wanting.”

“The Pact states—“

“He was human!” She spits acid. “He spurned me at a look, for all his words! I gave him the truth and he fled screaming!”

Hellfire and Roses – think Arthur, think – you can’t fight her, you can’t …

No, you can’t. But you know who can. “By the Pact, I call for Trial.”

The whip snaps. “You think to best me in combat?”

“Trial Veritas.” I keep my hands still. “You claim judgment on your evidence. I claim it to be in error.” When she comes close, I’m nodding. “Tomorrow. Jake’s. In a private room.”

“Not. You.” Her talon hovers near my nose. “A human. Unprepared, unspelled, nothing but what he is. Breakfast. When you fail, Paladin, you and yours will destroy Cupid’s Day alongside me.”

“Agreed.” I hold out a hand. Her grip nearly splinters my bones.

Outside, I find a pay phone. “Brian? Lane here. You know that guy we have in lockup?”

***

“It’ll be fine, Remy.”

He’s shaking. “I – I don’t people. People don’t – they don’t…” We gussied him up, but he still exudes nerd, dork, and geek.

I put a hand on his shoulder. “It’s this or a year for breaking and entering.”

Then she is there, covered in a long, brown cloak with two bodyguards wearing red berets.

I rise. “Melantha, your date. Remy Hebert. Remy, Melantha.”

She sniffs the air, but there’s no magic here that wasn’t here in the first place. “Let us finish this, Arthur Lane.”

The cloak falls away. She wears nothing but herself. Bat woman.

Remy’s jaw hits the floor. “You…”

Her lips curl back.

“You – you’re – you’re beautiful … much like Diphylla ecaudata? You must be, I mean…” Stumbling, he pulls her chair out, his eyes glued to her face. “Can I? I mean, you must, but…” Blushing furiously and babbling like a schoolboy, Remy makes an absolute potato of himself, offering her this then that while filling her glass with the fine red wine I chose.

I see myself out.

***

“No idea, Chief. All the stuff is in the warehouse. No. Cash rental. Chalk it up to a prank.” I hang up the phone and make a final note in the case file.

“Send a thief to catch a thief.”

Then I change the first “thief” to “chiropterologist”.

 

Visit the others:
First Real Assignment by Bill Bush
A Whole New World by Barbara Lund
What If by Katharina Gerlach
Subject: If You Don’t Hear From Me Again by Gina Fabio
Percival’s Bane: The Demon and The Void by Juneta Key
Rabble Rouser by James Husum

 

» Read More

July 2023: Storytime Bloghop
Chris Makowski – fellow author

Surprise, surprise. Today, you’ll get not one, but two #free #stories on my blog. You’ll find even more if you follow the links below. Please do visit the other participants, and please leave comments. There’s nothing more rewarding that hearing from you. It means the world to us.

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The Covenant

Covenant-coverAs the gate closed, shutting the maelstrom on the other side, Rupe counted quickly. Of the hundred that had set out, only three – Pista, Caram, Edda – remained, near death but determined.

In his hand, the kiehr glowed with the lives of those who had been lost. Everything else – tools, weapons, everything but the clothes on their backs was gone.

But they lived.

And wherever they were, it was raining. The forest around them remained dark and forbidding. But nothing was trying to kill them.

Yet.

“Quickly!” The others roused, their movements stiff and pained. “We must find shelter!”

He wanted to use the orb to find it. But the cost, the energy of those who had passed, would be irreplaceable. At least until they found a home here.

Randomly, he pointed. “This way!”

***

The manor was large and well-lit, even with the torrential rains falling. The three others had used tiny magics, barely enough to keep themselves dry. Even so, he felt the loss.

A flag waved forlornly on a post before the door. Thirty-seven stars on a blue field, then red and white alternating stripes.

A last hope. “We will bargain fairly, but dearly. And we will not suffer again, no matter the cost.”

Grimly, the little party marched to the front door. His fingers touched the kiehr.

I am sorry, he whispered as he took just enough magic to glamour them into finery.

Even so, he felt memories die.

***

When the door opened, a large man in stiff clothes with a face to match looked down on them. “The governor is…”

“We were called.” Rupe let his hood fall back enough to reveal his face, eyes glaring into the servant’s head. Believe me!

The man staggered. “Yes. Right this way.”

They stepped in, their spell keeping the rain and wet outdoors.

He gasped. “You – you’re not…”

“We were called,” Rupe repeated, the others pulling back their hoods, the glamour covering their shabby appearances.

His face gone white, the servant opened a double sliding door, surprising the other two men in there – one in a fine suit, the other in military garb with a sword on his hip.

Ambush? Terrified, Rupe strode in, looking from man to man. Neither had the sharp features of the Alfar. The sword remained undrawn.

“We were called. We came.” His eyes set on the soldier. “Name your bargain.”

“You?” A glass filled with amber liquid swished off the table and emptied into the man’s mouth. “I called you?”

Pista stepped forwards and put her fingers over the glass: it filled with a pale-yellow liquid. Rupe prayed none noticed the liquid came from her sleeve.

“Magic?” The soldier snatched up the glass. “Williams, close the doors.”

The servant, wide-eyed, had to be told twice before the doors shut.

And latched.

The – General? Colonel? – took a sip. “I’ve never tasted the like.”

“Bogyberry brandy,” Rupe announced. “Is your bargain for this?”

“No!” The other man circled slowly, taking in all four. In turn, each removed their cloak, allowing the full impact of the glamour to fill the room: two women of incredible beauty, two men of incalculable power.

Not four desperate people with next to nothing to their name.

“A moment.” Without an answer, the two stepped back towards the fireplace, anxiety and greed on their faces.

The papers! Edda’s voice sounded in his skull. A moment of looking at the table – papers, legal papers, and a map!

A chance.

“Power.” The two returned, avarice dripping from every pore. “We want power, power over our enemies, and power above all men!”

Might as well ask for the stars above.

Rupe turned his gaze on the soldier. “Four of us, four terms each.” Then he planted his finger onto the map, at the crux of an L-shaped land. “There. You will make there ours. You will set it aside as its own place, ruled by itself. And you will make this gift a secret from all others.”

The soldier sucked on his cheeks, but the other one nodded. “Easily done.”

Rupe waited, saying nothing.

The soldier spoke first. “I want power – political power.”

Rupe nodded.

“And power over the souls of a nation!”

Another nod.

“And I want–“

“You had your turn,” frowning, the suited man rapped the table. “I wish for my enemies to suffer. And I wish for Reconstruction to go on as planned.”

Rupe mumbled under his breath, then nodded. “Four and Four, as agreed. As best as we can provide, you will have what you ask when your part of the bargain is done.”

From nothing, a parchment with faint writing appeared. “Sign your names there. We shall make our marks.”

Too quickly, both scribbled names at the bottom. Solemnly, the four added theirs.

The parchment vanished. “The Covenant is sealed.”

As one, all four recloaked and turned toward the doors.

They passed out into the night, and it was as though they had never been.

***

“On this day, the fifteenth of March of 1870, Legislative Act 102 is hereby passed.” There was no applause. It was just another act of the Louisiana legislature, creating a new parish clawed from the parishes of Calcasieu and Vermilion. Few if any gave it more than a cursory read, forged as it was by the Governor himself, ostensibly as a favor to his friend, a paroled Colonel of the Confederacy.

Even fewer noted the asterisk in the act itself. And none paused to consider the few extra pages inserted due to that single symbol.

***

In the swamp on their land, their house built itself. Strange trees spread deep roots, their branches growing foreign fruit. Fresh water springs appeared.

His people would live.

Reverently, Rupe put the kiehr at the highest point, the better for it to pull from this land so nothing inside would be lost.

And on a wall, he hung the agreement, a thin pane of clear sap protecting it yet allowing any to read. And it was with an unsavory smile he read through the whole.

“Four and four,” he muttered to himself. “These people cannot count. And they never read the fine print.”

 

Visit the others:
Autonomous Militarized by Gina Fabio
Pipes by Barbara Lund
From Bad To Worse by Bill Bush
Under Surface Of The Stars: A Story Poem by Juneta Key
Un-Nefer’s Triumph by Kate Flint
Super Jill by Vanessa Wells
Timeless by T. R. Neff
Desire by Katharina Gerlach

 

» Read More

July 2023: Storytime Bloghop

This time my story for the blog hop found me, but read for yourself. Along with my #free #story, there are plenty more. BTW, the story about the Easter Hare and BB Wolf from the last Bloghop is currently getting turned into a comic. I can barely wait to show you. But for this hop, I wrote about a nightmare you’ve all had. I very much hope you’ll like it, and let me know if you “got it”.

Remember to visit the other participants to read their stories, and please leave comments. There’s nothing more rewarding that hearing from you. It means the world to us.

 

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Desire

The scent alerted me and drew me to her. Hot blooded innocence woke my craving so bad, my stomach grumbled. Imagine my surprise when I found the window unprotected; unprotected and wide open, like an invitation!

Of course I didn’t hesitate. I flew with economic wing beats to where the aroma came from. I could taste the tangy, metallic blood, pulsating under her skin already.

Naturally cautious, I circled the room once, twice, three times, but there was nothing remotely dangerous for me. So I closed in on her, looking for the best place to land.

Her hand shot out, and I jerked back. Thankful for my fast reflexes, I flew higher. Was she still awake? Had she just lured me in to kill me? I gazed down at her.

She moaned and stirred, so I gave her more room and settled in the shadow above her wardrobe. Waiting for the right moment, I observed her.

With the summer night’s heat, she was wearing a nightshirt so thin, it was more revealing than hiding anything. Fighting the urge to strike immediately, I longed for her to fall into deep sleep.

Her breath slowed.

Her blood called, driving me insane.

Again I flew.

Closer and closer. She barely moved.

Gently, I landed, touching the skin of her throat ever so lightly.

So close. Her blood pounded, only a thin layer of skin away. With one swift, determined move, I pushed my mouthparts through the outer layer. Sweet blood shot into me as I released saliva to keep it from congealing and sucked greedily.

Soon, I’d leave and she’d have no memory of my bite except for a small, itchy swelling.

I most definitely will be back tomorrow!

 

Visit the others:
The Covenant by Chris Makowski
Autonomous Militarized by Gina Fabio
Pipes by Barbara Lund
From Bad To Worse by Bill Bush
Under Surface Of The Stars: A Story Poem by Juneta Key
Un-Nefer’s Triumph by Kate Flint
Super Jill by Vanessa Wells
Timeless by T. R. Neff

 

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April 2023: Storytime Bloghop

Again it’s time for a blog hop with #free #stories. There’s so much been going on in my life (my father was run over by a car, my husband totaled our car, visits from the kids, Easter, a nasty head-cold twice) that I didn’t write anything at all for the longest time. I’m all the more thankful for the challenge because it forces me to get back into my writing routine. This time I wrote a really silly story (my editor said it needs to be an animated cartoon) and very much hope you’ll like it.

Remember to visit the other participants to read their stories, and please leave comments. There’s nothing more rewarding that hearing from you. It means the world to us.

 

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The Big Bad Wolf and the Easter Hare

The minute I saw her silhouette through the milk-glass-window in my office door, I knew she spelled trouble. Trouble for me. Those long, sinuous curves of her ears made me want to chase her, and not just for a night.

I managed to shove my bourbon glass and the bottle into the cabinet under my massive oak desk before she finished knocking.

“Come in.” I held my breath as I watched her enter.

“Are you B.B. Wolve?”

“The one and only.”

She sank into the black leather chair, a beam of light playing on her lovely white fur. I found it hard to speak, so I didn’t.

“The Easter Bunny vanished. If you find him, I’ll pay you three more.” She bent forward and placed three golden eggs on the table—more than I’d make in whole year in my business. I told you she’d be trouble. But with that kind of payment I was ready to face anything the world could throw at me.

“When? And where was he last seen?” Of course I still had a few questions, but the next one was to satisfy my own curiosity. “Are you related?”

“The Color Hens were the last to see him. They said he picked up the eggs for the Americas but didn’t show up for the Northern Europe load.” She crossed her looooong, slim legs, and I found it hard to concentrate on her voice, regardless of how sexy it sounded. “I’ve organized a couple of rabbits to take over his route, but they are only a temporary solution. We need him. Especially in Germany people insist on an Easter Hare, an Osterhase.”

Speaking past the lump in my throat without giving away how much she’d got me off balance was hard, so I kept it short. “Deal!”

***

The Color Hens weren’t very happy to see me, but they gave me a hint to follow. “After the last Easter, he let himself go,” their leader said. “Insisted that next to no one was interested in an Easter Hare any more and that it’d be much better to leave Easter to the bunnies. Stayed in bed most of the time. We sent him to the White Lady for counseling and it worked like a charm. He was full of energy when the time came this year.”

I knew it would be no use to talk to the White Lady. She never answered questions, claiming customer confidentiality. I’d need to have a letter from the king to make her divulge information. But the sweet little bunny in her front office was a different matter altogether. She’d helped me out more than once. So I called her.

“Oh, it’s you.” She sounded sheepish. “Sorry to say, but I’m no longer interested in our hunts. I got engaged just before Easter.” If she were a cat, I swear she’d have been purring.

“Caliwandalous.” I forced myself to smile. She deserved to be happy. “Could you give me a hint or two about where I could find the Easter Hare? Please, Sally.”

A long silence.

Then, “Have you talked to the pigs?” and a click that ended the call. Wow. That was weird. But all in all, talking to the pigs was a good idea. If they didn’t know where the hare was, no one would.

***

“Hi hon, come for some huffin’ ‘n puffin’?” Mother Sow grunted as she closed the gate to their part of the city behind me. Wriggling her rear, she led me along the trampled earth path to the Arena, an auditorium for the daring and the lewd. “Long time no see, B.B.”

I shuddered at the mountain of flesh in front of me. How could she have become even fatter? Still, my voice didn’t shake. “Nope, I just came to talk to Junior.”

“He’d be in his house.” She pointed to a poorly-built brick house at the end of the path, overlooking the Arena, and a few heartbeats later the door closed behind me. The single room smelled of pig—what else—and had food piled up in one corner, straw in another.

“Ah, Big Bad!” Junior rolled off the straw and walked toward me with outstretched arms. “What can I do for you this time? I’ve got some really nice bunnies for a sensual hunt, and a little mouse in a teapot for blowing exercises.”

I shook my head. I’d told him three years ago when I’d opened my agency that I was no longer interested in such activities. “I just want to know where the Easter Hare is.”

“Never seen him. Isn’t he still on duty?” He smiled as innocently as a piglet, and I was ready to leave again—when my gaze fell on the food.

“Oh, haven’t you?” I pointed to a colorful egg half hidden in the tower of food. “How about you tell me where he is, and I’ll not tell anyone he’s been here? After all, he’s quite a prominent figure at this time of year with lots of journalists clamoring for an interview.” I left the threat hanging, satisfied that Junior paled to a slightly dirty pink.

“He went to the Big Forest.”

“Why?” I held up my hand. “No, better tell me what you said to make him go there.”

“He wanted to know where Orion set up his bear traps.”

My jaw dropped and it took me a while to recover from the shock. “He’s that suicidal?”

Junior shrugged, but I no longer cared. I nearly ripped the door off its hinges and started running. Time was of essence.

***

It was already getting dark in the Big Forest. Thankfully my nose was still as good as it’s always been. Keeping it close to the ground allowed me to easily follow the hare’s scent, and soon I caught him staring at a piece of the path. Half hidden under twigs, I could make out a big metal oval with teeth and a central metal disk—the trigger.

“Don’t!” I gasped for air. “Don’t kill yourself.” I’d love to grab him and pull him away, but I’m so winded and he so ready to throw himself onto the trigger, I’m worried I’ll kill him accidentally.

His gaze fell on me. “It’s egg shaped,” he whispered. “Why does it have to be egg shaped of all things?”

“No clue.” I fell onto the grass, breathing hard. “What about Sally?” It was a long shot, but I was quite sure he was her fiancee.

“She’ll find someone else.” He looked at me with despair in his eyes. “Can’t you just eat me?”

“Not my cuppa any more.” I sat up again. I’d fought with wild boars, bears, elk, and even a wolverine. But his black cloud was worse than anything I’d ever encountered. I inched closer whenever he wasn’t looking at me. “An extremely beautiful white doe asked me to find you, and I’m loath to disappoint.”

“My sis Ruby. She’s such a bully.” He sighed and turned back to the trap. “For all I care, she can run my business, but no. The Easter Hare has to be male. And he can’t be a bunny. What a ridiculous notion.”

He was quite good at imitating the white doe’s voice.

“That’s still no reason to throw away your life like this.”

He harrumphed and jumped.

I grabbed his shoulders and jerked him back, twisting around to get him as far away from the trap as possible.

SNAP—the trap’s jaws closed and pain shot through my rear end.

My tail!

I howled in pain but didn’t let go, no matter how much the hare struggleds.

“There they are.”

A full medic team surrounded us, but I recognized Ruby’s voice. She must have followed me the whole time and I hadn’t even noticed. What a woman! I glanced at her while the paramedics tried to free my tail from the trap. She’d even brought Sally.

“Come home, honey.” Sally’s voice was low and meant only for the hare. “The Lady says she can help you if you let her.”

“I hate my life.” The hare sounded no better. “And Ruby insists on keeping up traditions.”

“I’m sorry.” Ruby’s voice wobbled. “I didn’t think it was this serious. We’ll find a way to change how things are handled. I promise.”

I cleared my throat. “And I’ll help. If I can learn to live with half a tail, surely the Germans will get used to an Easter Bunny. It’s not as if most still know the difference between a rabbit and a hare anyway.”

Everybody laughed at that, and the tiniest of smiles made the hare’s lips twitch. I was sure that with the available help and a few changes in management, he’d recover.

Smiling most beguiling, I turned to his sister. “Would you agree to a date with the owner of six golden eggs?”

 

Visit the others:

Royal Assassin by Vanessa Finaughty

Earthquake Aftermath by Bill Bush

The Gynnos Seeker Project by Juneta Key

Cursed by Barbara Lund

A Different Kind of Raise by Amy Keeley

Night At The Museum by Vanessa Wells

Flowers For Angela by Curtis Phills

Ninea by Chris Makowski

Archive by Gina Fabio
 

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January 2023: Storytime Bloghop
(plus a tiny bit about the kickstarter)

I’m slowly getting back into the swing of things. The kickstarter is such a great motivation to get back to writing (it’s in its final throes … ehm week, and I think we might even get to the last stretch goal yet). Also, I settled into my new flat just fine. My story for the Storytime Bloghop is the first one I did using dictation, and although it needed some revising, it turned out better than I’d feared. And writing it went much faster than typing. I’ll try dictation on my novel next.

For now, I hope you’ll like this blog hop’s #free #story. Remember to visit the other participants too. And please leave comments for us. We love to hear from you. It cheers us up and means the world to us.

 

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Fetching Water

I went to fetch water like Mom had ordered me to. It was Saturday and the whole family wanted to take a bath. For that we’d need a lot of water. I already hated carrying the heavy buckets, and I hadn’t even reached the river yet.

The sun shone through the gaps in the forest’s canopy and sweat ran down my neck, despite the cold of the winter morning. When I neared the river, the trees ended and the sky spread blue and endless toward the distant mountains. It was the perfect day for an adventure but none was forthcoming, and Mom had made it pretty clear what she thought of the make-believe adventures I’d played yesterday.

A flight of dragons was flying overhead, returning to the mountains with two Aurochs, and there seemed to be another group further in the distance. Since they didn’t eat much it meant that they’d have their annual maturity-feast soon.

I envied them their strength. If I were a dragon, I could carry enough water for a whole week of baths in no time. Angry with Mom—punishment was one thing but why had she ordered me to do this without any help at all?—I kicked a new stone, the size of my dog. Where had this come from all by itself anyway?

“Ouch.” The stone turned a scaly snout toward me.

Holy cow. It was a dragon, not a stone. Judging by its mottled dark blue scales, it was a male youngling. Since I’d never seen a dragon this close, I just stood and stared.

“What did you do that for?”

I apologized and then asked him why he was here.

“Well,” he said, “I’m trying to find out how to start my fire. I’ve experimented with so many things already. I ate coals, drank my parents’ fire, I even participated in a weird ritual, but nothing helped. I still can’t breathe fire.”

He seemed friendly enough, so I sat down beside him and pondered his problem, although what could I, a mere human, do to help him? Still, I couldn’t just leave a baby dragon without helping him, could I? My mind wandered to the way Mum made fire when my little brother forgot to feed the embers again. Tentatively, I said, “What if your fire only starts with something that hasn’t got to do anything with fire at all?”

The dragon managed to look skeptical despite his scales. His breath condensed in the cold air, and he cocked his head as if questioning my sanity.

“I’m not kidding. Mom starts our fire with two stones. She hits them together, sparks fall onto the tinder, and set the wooden splinters on fire. Maybe you’re missing those stones. Have you tried eating some?” An idea crossed my mind. “Of course they would need to be the right kind of stones. If you help me carry home enough water for my family’s bath, I’ll give you one of our sets.”

“Deal.” He went to the river and began sucking up nearly as much water as I used to fill my buckets. I was quite glad that dragons had an interim stomach for transporting liquids. Imagine having to bathe in the half digested foodstuff in his real stomach. I shuddered involuntarily.

Side-by-side we walked to my village, a circle of wooden houses surrounded by a wooden palisade. Since most people stayed inside on a chilly day like this, no one noticed us slipping past the houses. Not that my people feared dragons, but none had ever visited the village before, and I worried they might politely ask him to leave. After all, an accidental hiccup would set the whole village ablaze, and they didn’t know my friend couldn’t do that yet. So I made doubly sure no one saw him.

Our bathhouse was attached to the side of the house and had a separate entrance. Mom had insisted on it to keep the water’s vapor out of the main house. She’d set up the the tub already, lined it with a white cloth, set the soap on the only stool in the room, and started a fire in the open hearth. The cauldron sat beside it, ready to heat the water I brought.

I hung it over the fire and emptied my buckets into it. It looked like I hadn’t fetched any water at all. This would take a while, even with the dragon’s help. I sighed.

The dragon peaked over the rim, opened his mouth, and emptied his interim stomach. But what was that? The water flowed from his mouth, and it flowed and flowed and flowed. He filled the whole cauldron with water. And my buckets as well. When he still couldn’t stop, he vomited water into the bathtub until he finally managed to close his lips. The stream of water stopped, and he stared at me with wide eyes.

I stared at him with wide eyes too. Could it be? It wasn’t impossible just highly unlikely. I mean when was the last time a dragon had been like him? Still, I voiced my thought. “You’re a water dragon.”

“There hasn’t been a water dragon in centuries.” His voice trembled, and he shivered.

Remembering my grandmother’s adventurous tales of the Mighty Waterdragon, I said. “You’ll get used to being special.” My grin went from ear to ear, I could feel it. “Would you let me join your adventures? Anything will be better than carrying water for a bath.”

“Well, that’ll be quite the surprise for my tribe.” The dragon visibly braced himself. “By the way, my name is Dracobert. If you want to be my partner in adventure, you’d better come to my maturity feast.”

I laughed. The bath would come in handy after all.

 

Visit the others:
Cataclysmic Disaster by Bill Bush
Fiddle of Gold by Barbara Lund Author
The Origin of a Reluctant Supervillain by Vanessa Wells
Help Wanted by Juneta Key
Fishing Expedition by Laurie Hicks
The Deed by Chris Makowski

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November 2022:
Storytime Bloghop

Behind the scenes, I’ve been very busy the last three months. I’m nearly finished writing an Urban Fantasy novel set in Hamburg, and the Indie Author’s Advent Calendar 2022 is ready. I hope many of you will join in the fun tomorrow. There are truly lovely stories in it this year.

To shorten the waiting time, here’s the Storytime Bloghop (a month later than usual, but everyone was too busy to notice, so please forgive us. Better late then never, right?) I hope you’ll like this blog hop’s #free #story. Remember to visit the other participants too. And please leave comments for us. We love to hear from you. It cheers us up and means the world to us.

 

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Ark-Ship One

“Ark-Ship One, Longoustine. Report to base.” The voice from the loudspeaker crackled. The solitary bluish-gray crustacean on the bridge sighed. Luckily the search for a new home was nearly over, so he needn’t worry about repairing it any longer. His long-range sensors had already caught the data stream of a suitable planet.

“Longoustine reporting. Possible planet found. Commencing scouting endeavor. Requesting full weapon access.”

“The use of all weapons has been approved. Good luck, Longoustine.”

A few seconds later the vessel slowed and found a place in the orbit of the planet. The globe looked promising with its wide expanse of water. A little terraforming would easily submerge most of the land masses.

Longoustine observed the planet from above for four days. They were the hardest days of his voyage since he had to remain on high alert due to space junk. When his data scan was finally complete, he marveled at the results. The planet was perfect except for one minor detail. It held a semi-intelligent species, some kind of ape-like creature walking on two legs, mostly warring against each other. Naturally, their weaponry would not suffice to stop an invading army from his home planet.

Longoustine decided it was time for a peek. Since the planet’s atmosphere was too thin for his breathing organs, he ordered the ship’s transporter to deposit him in the middle of the biggest ocean. What was that? Why couldn’t he breathe? His handheld scanner showed that he was surrounded by water. He should not have difficulties like this. Still his intake valves seemed to be clogged. He used up eight of the ten time intervals he could hold his breath to clean the valves and grab a water sample. Then he reprogrammed the transporter to deposit him in a different ocean. Thankfully he sucked in oxygen.

A strange undercurrent caught him unaware and pulled him along. The more he tried to escape the current, the faster it got. More and more crustaceans appeared around him. Although they were a lot smaller than him they resembled his species strongly. Just when he realized that the tiny creatures around him were not intelligent, they were lifted out of the water and dumped onto a big metal surface.

“Oh look, we caught a lobster!” His universal translator managed to make sense of the garbled noises of the ape-man. “Finally something better to eat then shrimps.”

Longoustine froze. These creatures ate crustaceans? What kind of world was this? Where there more predators specialized on cracking exoskeletons? With a small sound Longoustine activated the transporter and returned to his ship, the ape-man’s perplexed stare burned into his memory. What if there were more dangers on this world than he’d anticipated?

During the next three hours he set up a new scan with very specific parameters. It took the ship a whole week to complete.

The perfect planet he thought he had found was infested with creatures hunting and eating crustaceans. Conservative estimates showed that even if they eliminated the worst species for good, the whole ecosystem would change for the worst. With the ape-men gone and the continent’s submerged, other species would thrive … and most would eat crustaceans. And even if their society could keep the threats in check, the ecosystem was so precariously balanced, all of his computer models predicted its complete breakdown.

Defeated, Longoustine reported his failure, set course to the next planet, and began to repair the loudspeaker.

 

Visit the others:
Midnight At Christmas by Juneta Key
I Do Believe In Faeries by Vanessa Wells
Summoning Spell by Jacquilyn Walker
Passing The Buck by Bill Bush
A Halloween Costume by Jodie Nahornoff
 

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July 2022:
Bloghop

Somehow time seems to get faster the older I get. It’s depressing to see the end of my life less far away than the start. Add in a good amount of Corona bad news, the frightening developments in the two biggest countries worldwide, and the climate crisis, and you might understand why I find it hard to do regular blog updates or eMail letters. It all seems so pointless.

But then I see my grandson. I revel in the way he enjoys every day, accepts every person as is, loves learning new things without a thought about what will come tomorrow. And I have hope. Hope that things might still change for the better. That’s what always gets me back to writing something.

I hope you’ll like this blog hop’s #free #story. Remember to visit the other participants too. And leave us comments. We love to hear from you. It cheers us up no matter what, because it means someone reads what we write. And that’s worth so much in times like these!

 

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New Stork

“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 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.” 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, holistical’, the name of the new technique. We put the holistical at the end because the acronym reads better that way. Stork expects the participants of this course 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 delivery method as best I could while evading the inquisition. Ever so often I’d visit Melinda who had to stay behind to take care of her son.

I laughed out loud. Suddenly, life was exciting again.

 

Visit the others:
First Contact by Barbara Lund

Who Can Blame Him by Bill Bush

The Stuff of Nightmares by Sue Abrie

Regarding Dragons by Vanessa Wells

Midlife Ghostwalker: Katje Storm Episodes 1 thru 10 by Juneta Key

 

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April 2022:
Bloghop

This was a close one. I wrote the story in one sitting on the 25th (links were due on the 22nd, but I know the organizer :D).

My next goal is to write up an idea and a reading sample for a semi-open call of a German publisher before the end of May. We’ll see how that will go. I’ll try to keep you posted.

Now, enjoy the story and remember to visit the other participants’ websites too. And leave a comment!

 

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Coming Out

“Are you coming to the dance club tonight?”, Elsbeth asked Vinny as they sat cross-legged on the flowery duvet on Vinny’s bed. “It’s going to be girls night, and you so love to dance.”

“I’d be all alone.” Vinny shuddered. She’d never gone anywhere without at least one family member around. The very idea scared her. What if the others didn’t like her? What if she needed help? Safety lay in numbers.

Elsbeth laughed. “It’s an evening of dance and merriment. There’s nothing to be afraid of.”

Vinny lay back and stared at the white ceiling of her room with her heart thundering in her chest. Elsbeth had gone so many times already, but whenever asked, Vinny had declined. Somehow it seemed her duty to agree this time, but that didn’t make the decision any easier. Even the green and yellow wallpaper didn’t calm her nerves like it normally did.

“Can’t Joe come along?” She knew Elsbeth liked Joe.

“He’s got two left feet.” Elsbeth slipped off the bed and opened the wardrobe. “You could finally wear your new dress.” She pulled out a white dress with black polka dots. The body fitting top and the wide skirt with its seven layers of underskirts were Vinny’s pride and she’d never had a chance to put it on so far.

Breathing deeply, Vinny nodded. “Okay. I’ll come. But promise you won’t leave me alone.”

“I swear.” Elsbeth grinned from one ear to the next, and her teeth gleamed in the sunlight falling through the yellow curtains.

***

The dance hall smelled strongly of straw which was no wonder since it used to be a barn. The familiar scent calmed Vinny’s nerves somewhat.

“See, it’s not as bad as you thought.” Elsbeth dragged her deeper into the throng of people. “Let’s show off your dress.”

Vinny found it hard to follow her. Too many people milled around, and soon Elsbeth was lost in the sea of faces. The full moon was already up, and the music was loud enough to wake the dead, and everyone seemed to be determined to move to the rhythm one way or the other. Aside from the DJ’s table and a hastily constructed counter where drinks were sold, the room was bare. As far as Vinny could tell, it was better that way. Hundreds of teens her age swayed on the dance floor—although Vinny wasn’t sure how they could tell the area for dancing from the area for socializing.

“Hello. Beauty.” Warm breath caressed her ear. “All by yourself on a lovely night like this?”

She flinched and turned, finding herself nose to nose with a young man slightly older than her. Jared was the head of her school’s soccer team, and she’d dreamed of him for at least two years. His eyes held a glitter that made her already wobbly legs shake. His smile created dimples in his long, handsome face. Vinny’s heart raced, even though the scent of dog, drifting off of him, didn’t suit him at all.

“My friend …” She tried to look around, but the young man had already grabbed her arm.

“I’ll show you the ropes until he shows up.” Jared nodded toward the bar. “Care for a drink?”

“No, I—”

Ignoring her answer, he pulled her along, waved at the barkeeper, and handed her a cocktail glass with something that smelled of lemon with a tangy note to it.

Vinny closed her eyes for a moment and let his flirting wash over her. It felt so good. If it hadn’t been for her exceptional sense of smell, she could have fallen for him. But so … this had gone on long enough. She opened her eyes again, breathed deeply to gather her resolve, and said. “Sorry, but I don’t drink anything but plain water. I will leave now.”

The smile on Jared’s face faltered, but then returned full force. “Naturally I will accompany you, lovely lady.” Grabbing Vinny’s arm, he headed for the rear exit, a small door set into the wall behind the counter. His fingers dug into her arm.

Vinny allowed him to pull her along and used the time to scan the dance floor for Elsbeth but she was nowhere in sight. She should have known better than to trust her promises. Elsbeth always meant well but she just didn’t understand how hard it was for Vinny and her family in a town of were-wolves.

Once through the door, Jared turned and pushed her against the barn’s wall. One arm raised over her head, the other still holding her arm, his face closed in on Vinny.

Albeit reluctantly, she turned her head sideways to evade his kiss. “I’m quite sorry,” she said. “But I am not interested in dating a wolf.”

“Not even an alpha?” His eyes grew darker. “You’re beautiful and your smell is so enticing.”

His pheromones hung in the air like a heady perfume. Vinny’s heart raced and she wanted nothing more than to throw herself into his arms.

“I can feel that you’re a were too.” He stared into her eyes without coming any closer. “Don’t you feel it too?”

Vinny couldn’t answer. Her blood roared in her ears and the need to share the night with another were, burned in her blood. If only it hadn’t been full moon.

“Be mine tonight,” Jared’s whisper filled her senses. “And I’ll be yours forever.”

Vinny didn’t manage to speak. The change she had suppressed for so many years finally had overcome her. A loud moan escaped her lips as her bones melted and reorganized themselves.

Jared stood back, his eyes wide with wonder. “You’re a …”

“A were-cow, yes.” Elsbeth stepped out of the door, aiming a handgun at him. “And if you harm even a single hair on her body, I’ll pump a round of silver bullets into you.”

“Why would I harm her?” Jared didn’t even look at Elsbeth. “She’s perfect. Beautiful and perfect.”

Vinny saw the adoration on his face and for the first time ever, she felt she might belong after all.

He groaned as the change came over him, too.

Vinny’s heart danced as his body settled into that of a strong, healthy bull. Side by side, they walked away into the night, leaving behind a girl with a gun and an open mouth.

 

Visit the others:
Rabid Rabbits Revenge by Jemma Weir
Dragon’s Tale by S. R. Olson
Jory’s Gamble by Juneta Key
The Ballad of Jamie Stewart by Vanessa Wells
Tribute by Lyssa Medana
Moon Flower by Melanie J. Drake
Battlefield by Barbara Lund

 

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Liebster Blog Award 2011