This year hasn’t been good to me. I’ve been out with an illness that was supposed to be a minor nuisance but turned into nearly half a year of convalescence. I did finish “High School Dragons 3: Crowned by Fire” (more on that later) and just got it back from the editor. Getting it published asap is my highest priority. At the same time preparations for the Indie Authors’ Advent Calendar are underway (this year’s theme: dragons!), as well as the preparation of my NaNo novel. You see, I’m very, very busy.
That doesn’t stop me from participating in the Storytime Blog Hop again. This episode will also be featured in one of the two Halloween episodes of the “Alone in a Room With Invisible People” Podcast (FB page is here). Check it out, it’s awesome. So without further ado, my whimsical story for the hop. I hope you’ll like it. As always, remember to visit the other participants (list below the story).
Edda’s Second Chance
Edda didn’t want to leave the afterlife to become an invisible friend. Not even the reward, a day of being human again, excited her. She only agreed after securing another boon.
As a slave, sex toy, and food tester for a rich Roman, she hadn’t enjoyed life. Her only fond memory was of his face, as he realized she’d poisoned the wine.
Grinning at the memory, Edda slipped into a little girl’s room. Only in second grade, Suzie already was victim to severe bullying. Edda wondered how she might help.
It turned out to be easy. Suzie was still young enough to believe in her. So Edda scouted routes, kept Suzie away from the two bullies, and encouraged her to learn Judo, which did wonders for Suzie’s self-esteem.
Halloween rolled around.
Since Edda didn’t feel like having a day off, she and Suzie devised a plan. In human form, Edda hid behind trees and followed Suzie as she and her best friend collected sweets. As expected, the bullies showed up soon.
Edda jumped out of her hiding place, grabbed the boys’ bags, knocked them over hard, and pretended to attack Suzie. As discussed, Suzie grabbed her lapels, and threw her over her shoulder. Edda dropped the bags and fled. Suzie handed the boys their bags.
After that, they protected her, and Edda was assigned a new case.
James father came home drunk every night, and James prayed half the day that he’d be too tired to hit his mom. But that hardly ever happened. Edda did her best to hide the three year old, but James’ mother’s screams found him everywhere. Every night, the boy fell asleep crying, no matter what Edda tried.
One day, she hid him in the garage under the car, and James climbed into the motor compartment. Something ripped and squirted oil, so she convinced James to hide someplace else.
The next day, his father had a car accident which kept him in the hospital for months. Unfortunately that saved his life because the doctors discovered a heart problem.
During his absence, James bloomed, making friends and even laughing. His mother, too, looked healthier and happier—until the day her husband returned and the beating commenced.
A decision grew in Edda’s heart. She could barely wait for Halloween. Rising early, she hugged James and told him to hide in the garden shed at nightfall. He complied. Then, she called in her second boon.
When the moon rose, she turned into the Grim Reaper—scythe and all—and knocked at the door of James’ home.
The father opened. Already drunk, he swore and staggered. “No party here.” He lifted his meaty fist to slam it into her face. With a laugh, she lifted her head so he could look under her hood into the non-existent face.
He paled, gurgled, and clutched his chest. With his family hiding, there would be no help. Edda walked away smiling.
Maybe being an invisible friend wasn’t too bad after all.
Sometimes, we’ve got emerging writers participating that don’t (yet) have their own blog. That’s when one of the organizers or participants hosts the new writer’s story. Here’s one by Rebecca Anne Dillon, a student of Holly Lisle’s. She normally writes very long family stories. Enjoy her story.
Very Thin Line
by Rebecca Anne Dillon
In 1869 on All Hallows Eve, ten-year-old Jasper Remington is dressed in a ghost costume, and has finished trick or treating on the streets of Ohio. He carries his little hessian sack with pennies in it, heading home… but he never arrives.
A hundred and fifty years later on All Hallows Eve, he is wearing the same costume, carrying the same sack, and he’s knocking on doors, still trying to get more pennies for his sack, but no adult can see him. However, at one house he’s seen by the family dog, Lady Penelope, who begins whimpering and shivering. When he moves toward her, she hides under the chair in the hallway and refuses to come out.
In that same house, ten-year-old William Remington comes downstairs wearing an old white sheet with eye holes and a mouth hole cut out.
“Mom, here is my costume!” he says, “Can I please take Lady Penelope out trick or treating?”
His mother smiles. “Of course.”
But it’s a ghost costume… and when Lady Penelope sees it, she goes back under the chair in the hallway, and stays there until William leaves with his jack ‘o lantern candy basket. She refuses to go with him. So William leaves alone, and trick-or-treats alone.
He has just left one front door with more candy when he sees a kid in a ghost costume like his with a little burlap sack sitting on the sidewalk crying. William asks the kid, “Why are you crying?”
The boy says, “No one opens the door when I knock. And dogs bark at me, or run and hide. Like your dog. When she saw me, she ran under a chair in your hallway.”
William sits on the sidewalk next to the boy so he can talk to him. He asks, “What’s your name?”
And the boy answers, “Jasper Remington.”
William says, “My name is William Remington. I wonder if we’re related?” And suddenly he realizes that he can see a bit of the sidewalk right through Jasper. The more he looks, the more he can see through the other boy. He whispers, “Grown-ups can’t see you, and Penelope is afraid of you, because you’re a real ghost…”
Jasper gets very angry. He doesn’t want to be a real ghost. But he’s happy that this one boy can see him. Can talk to him. Because the more he looks at William, the more Jasper realizes that he can see through William, too.
Jasper pushes up against William, and both boys blend.
Jasper can feel himself breath in for the first time in forever. He shouts, “I’m alive!” And he locks William way down deep, so deep he’ll never escape.
Because on All Hallow’s Eve, life calls to death, and blood calls to blood. And on All Hallows Eve, the very thin line between life and death merges.
Whoosh … there went the time and it’s summer already. I did manage to get most of the final volume of the High School Trilogy written and translated and hope to finish the end this month. If all goes as planned, the release will be some time in early autumn.
But now, it’s time for the Storytime Blog Hop again. Don’t forget to visit the other participants (the list is below my story).
The Salem Witch Trials and what we can learn from them
by Amalia Tenner, class 4c
Witches have always been hunted and killed without good reason. In Europe the main time for killing witches was from 1550 to 1650, but America did not kill witches before the Salem Witch Trials – well, not many that is.
It seems that the people who initi started the trails didn’t want women to ride brooms and go to parties with men they didn’t know, in particular the deivl. They thought that atrocious, and I’ve often wondered why that led to the torture of 55 people and the killing of 20 supposed witches, mostly women.
So here comes my reasoning.
I’ve heard Pa tell Mom that he’d like her to ride his broom again, and she blushed and giggled. So it probably was something I wasn’t meant to hear. After some research, I found that “riding a broom” sometimes refers to the sexual act. Which is kinda strange because, you know, it also refers to using a broom to clean the house and to go flying through the air on an oldfashioend broom with a wooden brush.
So I think that during the Witch Trials, women and men were talking about different things. Men didn’t want their wives and daughters to have sex, especially not with people they didn’t know. But women wanted to clean their houses. After all, a dirty house isn’t very nice, especially if you wanted to invite neighbors for a party.
Conclusion (what we can learn):
We can learn that we should always be very clear about what we’re talking about. Misunderstandings lead to arguing and that can easily go bad fast. So better be careful what you say, or else…
Sandra Tenner put down her daughter’s homework, wiping tears of laughter from her eyes. Then she pointed at the stapled sheets and spoke a Word of Command. The piece of lined paper with the round writing obediently vanished and reappeared in Amalia’s school bag beside the table in class.
As you can see I forgot to post again. I’m currently working on the final volume of the High School Dragon trilogy while also trying to keep the garden (some 1800 square yards) from getting overgrown with plants I don’t want. At the same time I’m so longing to drive my motorbike again which has been waiting patiently in my garage for years(!). The weather is wonderful and calls me outside. Instead I’m sitting here, writing (which I love btw, but still …).
So yes, it’s that time again, the Storytime Blog Hop is upon us. I know there’s a new logo around but I like this one too much to give it up any time soon. Have fun with my story and don’t forget to visit the other participants.
Before the Dreams
Shadows crept across the wall, it grew dark. The orange wallpaper turned grey except for a sliver of light that would turn into an arch soon. Jude pressed his eyes close trying to fall asleep, but no matter how much he had romped around during the day, he wasn’t tired enough.
He curled up into a ball. From below his covers, he peaked at the wall beside the door. A glowing line appeared and widened to an arch.
Clonk, clonk – the central heating rumbled. Now, his last chance of sleeping was gone. Soft steps came closer, and Jude did his best to feign slumber. He didn’t need to look at the monster. His memory from the fist encounter was still vivid. The fanged beast with the green fur had begged him for three nights to follow it. If only it didn’t look so dangerous.
A soft paw caressed his cheek. “Please, Jude, come. I promise you’ll be back before morning.” The monster sounded like a singing angel. “You’re the only one who can help me free the queen.”
Jude thought. Here was his chance to be a hero. Was he to chicken to help just because the one asking was a monster? He gathered his courage, got out of bed (eyes still closed), and followed the monster through the arch. Everything faded.
Not much to say but that I’m very tired and extremely busy. Some things leech more strength than I had anticipated, mostly due to stupid people. So I dug out this old writing exercise for you. I still quite like it despite its obvious flaws. Have fun, and don’t forget to visit the other participants.
Morning has broken
I kicked the pebbles and watched them fly into the gently breaking waves. In the distance, the sea sparkled but close to the beach, its sheen seemed dull. I should have known she wouldn’t come. Not only didn’t she talk to boys, ever, also this part of the beach smelled like rotting garbage, and the water carried brown sludge from Dad’s sewage factory. His slogan still rang in my ears.
‘Synbatec – Cleanliness everyone can afford ‘
Hah! I dug my bare feet into the sand, cooling grains mixed with water squeezed through my toes. I loved this feeling but hated the effort of rubbing them clean later. The sun burned my face and helped me suppress my tears. I had wanted her to come more than anything in the world. I needed her to see what Dad really did when he “cleaned” the waste water. She would have known what to do. After all, she and her father featured eminently in the news—him being a famous actor and an environmental activist. They surely could negotiate something that would keep Dad out of jail and end the pollution.
With my eyes still closed, I strained my ears for footsteps, but not even seagulls came to this godforsaken place. I sighed, opened my eyes, and gagged on a foul taste. A hairy hand pressed a wet, sweet smelling cloth to my mouth. My vision blurred, but I recognized the butterfly tattoo on the man’s forearm. Every Wastopaneer Environmentalist wore it. I relaxed and sucked in the sweet odor of the sleeping drug. If they had to kidnap me to stop Dad’s toxic waste, I wouldn’t put up a fight.
From the corner of my eyes, I saw her. She smiled at me, and her smile stayed with me when darkness claimed me.
It is already time again for the quarterly Blog Hop. My, how time flies! My grandson has started to crawl, still on his belly, and two teeth are already out. Slowly my days are finding a new rhythm, so I’m writing again. I hope you’ll enjoy this snippet which is based very, very loosely on my experience of becoming a grandmother rather unexpectedly. As usual, you’ll find the links to the other participants below my story.
“Well, you could come in today but only the male doctor will be there,” the gynecologist’s receptionist said. I knew that wouldn’t do. My daughter would never see a man – not when it was her first visit to a gynecologist. I told the receptionist, just as I had told her about the low but persistent abdominal pain Shelly was experiencing. It wasn’t urgent but it definitely needed someone looking at it.
“Well Dr. Paulsen won’t be in before tomorrow. I’ve got a free slot at 9am.”
I smiled and sent a sliver of pleasurable magic through the phone for the woman. “That’s splendid. We’ll be there on time.”
The next morning, my daughter – a little grumpy from getting up this early – and I climbed the two floors to the gynecologist. After the usual paperwork, the receptionist left us in a room with a desk and the gynecological chair. Her smile was meant to be reassuring. “The doctor will be with you in a few minutes.”
Shelly looked at me with a frown. “I won’t sit on that one.” She nodded to the chair.
Before I could answer, the doctor came in. She was a petite woman with brown hair, a white lab coat and tired eyes. “Welcome.” She shook our hands and smiled at my daughter. “It looks as if it’s coming soon. Who’s your regular gynecologist?”
My jaw dropped and for the first time in a long, long while I didn’t know what to say. My daughter’s face must have mirrored my surprise because the doctor said, “Don’t tell me you didn’t know.”
There was no answer to that, but my daughter was too shocked to make a fuss when the doctor examined her. I didn’t even need my magic to soothe her.
“Dear me.” Dr. Paulsen’s eyes widened. “It’s coming right now!” She nearly fled the room to call an ambulance.
While we waited, Shelly’s contractions intensified. She moaned with pain, and my heart hurt in sympathy. At least I now knew her sudden gain in weight hadn’t been due to obsessive eating or cancer or any of the other diseases I had feared. Still, I suffered with her every time the contractions hit. She squeezed my hand as if she meant to crush every single bone to pulp, and it took all my strength not to use a calming spell on her. According to my own mother that would interfere with the baby’s own magic should it have some.
The ambulance took its time and even my spell couldn’t make it faster. All I could do was prevent the gynecologist from panicking. Waves of soothing magic flowed through the rooms, arduously avoiding Shelly. But once the ambulance arrived, everything went fast. Shelly was carried downstairs on a stretcher, and I followed with knees too shaky to manage the stairs without clinging to the handrail. The ambulance headed to the nearby motorway with flashing lights and siren, while my daughter screamed in pain, still clinging to my hand. I tried to make myself as small as possible to not obstruct the doctor and his helpers. The baby arrived soundlessly three minutes before we reached the hospital.
“That doesn’t look good.” The doctor’s face was grim as he cut the cord. My heart seemed to stop beating. I barely dared to look at the rather bluish looking limp body in his hands. “Oxygen. And a tenth of a unit …”
I ignored the doctor’s gobbledygook and concentrated on my daughter. I closed my hands around her wide eyed face. Finally I could help. My magic tugged at her worry, smoothing it out and adding a little hope here and there. “Keep breathing. There’s nothing we can do but hope.” We closed our eyes and ignored the clattering of instruments and the babbling of the paramedic. If we lost the baby, I’d probably never be able to create a bubble of hope again. So we clung to our own little bubble. It was all I could do to keep it up. Shelly’s heart beat the same fearful-hopeful rhythm as mine.
The ambulance screeched to a stop.
“We’ve got her!” The relief in the doctor’s voice was palatable. Very gently he placed the wrapped baby into Shelly’s arms. A content, pink face with the bluest eyes anyone had ever seen stared at us, and a wave of happiness hit me. The baby was magical, and breathing, and moving her tiny fingers, already weaving her spell on us. As I hobbled after the stretcher that was wheeled to a lift, my smile couldn’t have been wider. I whispered to my daughter, “I guess it’s time to think about a name for her.”
It’s time again for the quarterly Storytime Bloghop. This time I did something a little different. Easter, my brothers (I’ve got three) and I were fooling around with a new gadget one of them had gotten. We took some really crazy pictures. So I included one of those at the end of the story. Since it is the punchline, you might want to not look at it until you read the story first. 😀
The Day I was Clever
When I arrived in our kitchen that morning, staring bleary eyed at the wood furniture and the stone counter, Dad gave me NewReality™ glasses.
“It’s time for you to see the world a little differently”, he said and vanished. I think he might have left for work, although his vanishing did feel slightly spooky to me.
Due to too little sleep (I’d played with my 3D virtual reality game half the night), my brain wasn’t working yet so I put them on, and the world changed. Now I stood in a kitchen made of white marble and chrome. Where my bowl of cereal had stood, a plate with artfully decorated pancakes waited for me. I dug in, slightly disappointed that they still tasted like my cereal.
The way to school had changed too. The bus had turned into a sleek limousine, my classmates were wearing spiffy suits or skirts and blouses, and everyone wore a tie. When they saw me, they smiled like friends. I knew they weren’t, so the roaring laughter in the background made sense somehow. I just didn’t know what they were laughing about.
At school, I sank into the seat beside my best friend who grinned at me.
“My, do you look strange,” he said. “If you’d brought your mobile, we could’ve taken pictures.”
“They’re just my new glasses.” I answered. They couldn’t be that bad, could they?
Only when the teacher arrived did I realize that I’d forgotten to bring my books. At least I’d brought my homework so I didn’t get a black mark, but everybody was laughing about me. And when I say everybody, I mean everybody.
As I passed through the hall on my way to my next class, people I’d never met more than in passing came to me to shake my hand. As long as I was looking at them, they just smiled, but as soon as they moved on to pass me to the next person, they burst out laughing – even the teachers snickered when they walked past me. I didn’t see it but I heard them.
After the second break, I had enough. Knowing I’d be in big trouble later, I still sneaked off the school grounds and set out to walk home, staring at the ground to keep others from seeing my face. What were the new glasses doing to it that everyone was laughing so hard?
I turned a corner and stopped in surprise. I’d accidentally walked in the wrong direction. Heat surged into my cheeks as I turned around again. I had barely reached the gates of the school when a car pulled up beside me. To me it looked like a beautiful convertible, but it sounded like a robot with asthma. The tinted driver window rolled down, and my mother’s face smiled at me. She looked like an angel in a flowing blue evening dress, so I smiled back involuntarily.
“Get in the car,” she said, and I obeyed wordlessly.
In our new kitchen, she ordered me to sit on a chair, prepared a hot cocoa for me and a mug of coffee for herself. My stomach turned to ice. I know I was in trouble now. Still, she kept smiling – or were the glasses just changing her expression like they’d changed the kitchen?
“How often have I told you not to turn night into day with your gaming?” Her voice sounded cold and distant, but I felt her anger underneath. I lowered my head and apologized, but it was no good. “And now you’re even wearing gaming glasses to school! Don’t you know how ridiculous that looks?”
“Dad gave me those this morning,” I protested.
“That isn’t possible.” Now, Mom sounded more annoyed than angry. “He left for a business trip to Paris last week. Don’t you ever listen to anything I tell you?”
I had to admit that listening wasn’t my strongest trait.
“Now, give me those glasses and go to bed.” Resignation filled her tone although the face I saw was still smiling. “I’ll write an explanation for your teacher. But no more gaming this week.”
I groaned and took of the glasses. Immediately, my mother’s blue dress turned back into the faded jeans and oversized T-shirt she always wore. I yawned and handed her the glasses reluctantly.
“Let me show you how stupid you look with these,” she said and put them on. “Gosh. How did you manage not to run into things with these? Everything’s completely blurry.”
Although I wondered about her last remark, I burst out laughing when I saw her face with the glasses.
This is how clever Mom looked. I still wonder about me.
That was my story. I hope you liked it. And her are the links to the bloghop’s other participants. If it is anything like the last hops, you’ll find many great stories. Go and read them:
Today is the 4th of December and silly me forgot to let you know that the annual Indie Authors’ Advent Calendar has opened its doors again. If you love a surprise story every day, it’s THE place to bookmark. And if you sign up for the alert, you’ll get a bonus every day (a picture, a poem, a recipe or another story), and the eBook with all stories and bonuses on Christmas Day.
Yes, it’s that time again. Here’s the Storytime Bloghop for June. This time we have 12 participants (including me) and their stories. Enjoy. Here’s mine
“Lobster One. Report to base.” The voice from the loudspeaker crackled. The lonely bluish gray crustacean on the bridge sighed. Luckily the trip 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.
“Lobster One reporting. Possible planet found. Commencing scouting endeavor. Requesting full weapon access.”
“The use of all weapons has been approved. Good luck, Lobster One.”
A few seconds later the vessel slowed and found a place in the orbit of the planet. It looked promising with its wide expanse of water. With a little terraforming it would surely not be a problem to submerge most of the land masses.
Lobster One 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 is data scan was finally complete, he marvelled 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. Their weaponry would not suffice to stop an invading army from his home planet.
Lobster One decided it was time for a peek. Since the planet’s atmosphere was too thin for his breathing organs he ordered the ships transporter to deposit him in the middle off 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 breathing. 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 each other 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.”
Lobster One froze. These creatures ate crustaceans? What kind of world was this? Where there more predators specialized on cracking exoskeletons? With small sound that the ape-man didn’t even notice Lobster One activated the transporter and returned to his ship.
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. Commercial calculations showed that even if they eliminated the worst few species the whole ecosystem would collapse. Defeated, Lobster One reported his failure, set course to the next planet, and began to repair the loudspeaker.
Here are the links to the other stories. Enjoy them and please leave comments. We can only improve our craft if you let us know what works and what doesn’t. Thanks for reading.
Yes, it’s that time again. Remember that my story will only be up for a limited time (let’s say until May 2nd). So if you want to read it, hurry up. 😀
There are many more participants in this bloghop who are listed at the end of the story. Make sure you check out their stories too. Now, have fun:
The coarse fabric of the chaise longue itches under my fingers as I lay there with my eyes closed. Why do I have to lie anyway? It isn’t as if I’m ill or so … (a little while ago the rest of the story was still here. Yoon you’ll be able to get it as an eBook)
Remember that here are more stories for you to read:
P.S.: I’ve got a promotion scheduled for “Juma’s Rain” (a YA Fantasy Romance) on the 7th and 8th of May. The price will drop from $4.99 to $0.99 those days. You can’t have it cheaper than that. So bookmark this link where you’ll find my eBook and 150+ on the 7th and 8th of May.