short stories

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Tuesday Teaser: Curious Incidents

Published August 8, 2017 by admin

So I haven’t been completely nonexistent during this past stretch of self-reflection. I’m way late on this, but hey, promo is promo, amiright? So one of the projects I had the challenge of working on is a paranormal Sherlock Holmes anthology called Curious Incidents: More Improbable Adventures.

 This was not the easiest story for me to write – I hadn’t read Sherlock since Jr. High, when I’d binged as much as possible during free time during homeroom, a trait that obviously made me insanely popular and all the cute dudes in my class fall at my feet. Obviously, I had to be careful, because the pure power in that knowledge is obviously very potent, so I kept it locked away for a long time.

And if you’re new to this blog, welcome to the sarcastic portion of the evening.

Anywho, I’ve seen the show, but was warned against doing anything too close to that. Besides, these were alternate universe adventures – put Sherlock and Watson in another time period, place, get them out of the comfort zone, anything but Victorian England, please!

And because I am an editor’s nightmare, I put Sherlock on a futuristic space station after the end of planet earth, and just to be a brat I added in a lot of Victorian England via holodecks.

Also, Sherlock is an AI. Kinda. And there’s a new medic character named Jane that has her own mystery to solve. And a monster shows up murdering people in the holodeck nightclubs because it’s me, so of course it does.

So it’s out and there are a lot of fantastic authors in this one. It’s gotten some great reviews, and I’m admittedly pretty proud of my contribution, which is titled Reborn.  And because I love you all and don’t feel like thinking up original content, here’s an excerpt:

curious incidents

The halls of the space station Reborn were pristine and bright, a maze of metal and plastic sterility. They were in sharp contrast to the illusion gardens in the various sectors, of which Clapham was one. Though it was late, enough people were still enjoying the night’s entertainment. The theme was Old England, so couples enjoyed quaint hologram theater shows and others, like Lucy Scaleton and Alsop Addison, soaked up the unusual experience of walking nighttime streets.

“Let’s move away from the urchins. I know they make things realistic, but they’re creepy,” Lucy murmured. “We need to find the exit before things shut down and the security mechs scan for the night.”

Alsop nodded and they increased their pace. “I’m almost glad we don’t have to deal with streets. The hall layouts are much simpler.” She hissed when her foot brushed through the long skirt, sending ripples through the false image that revealed her jumpsuit underneath. “Clothes today are easier, too.”

“It’s all so realistic, though. Especially with all the scents and sounds piped in, never mind the temp changes. Holo-tech has come such a long way.” Lucy took hold of her friend’s arm with a sheepish expression. “I know we’re safe, but…”

“Let’s get home before they turn everything off for the night and ruin the fun!” Alsop tugged her down an alley. “I think this shortcuts to the exit.” She trailed frowned when they hit a dead end.

“Al—”

“I could’ve sworn this was an exit.”

“’Scuse me, miss, but spare a quid on a cold night?”

The pair jumped, then shared an exasperated look. Alsop turned to address the fellow behind them, tossing her blonde curls. “Stupid programming,” she grumbled before addressing the image. “It’s late and we need to get home.” The looming form didn’t budge or disappear. “Hey, I mean it. Bugger off or we’ll just go through you!” The shadowed gentleman’s shoulders bobbed in a silent laugh.

“This isn’t Jack the Ripper night, is it?” Lucy whispered, hand clenched tight on her friend’s arm.

“Don’t be silly. It can’t hurt you. It’s just another damn hologram!” Alsop snapped and strode right into the moving shadow.

Silver flashed and rippled. The blonde jerked with the impact, her holo-costume fading away to reveal her slashed jumpsuit. She stared at the ripped fabric, dumbfounded. “What on earth?” The concept of actual danger was so foreign. Instinctively, still expecting the shadowed mass to dissolve into static and code, she struck at it and felt her stomach drop when it touched real fabric and something warm underneath.

The looming figure that was now too real, too threatening, too substantial pounced again. The shadowed figure grabbed the blonde and silver lashed out, sending crimson spraying right through the false images of the ancient London alleyway, spattering the metal projection walls underneath. The holograms couldn’t fully form with the intrusion, making the length of the alley a flickering, macabre trap. Alsop’s painful scream tore through the nighttime sounds and distant music.

Her friend screamed with her, the sound shrill and useless against the assailant. “No, no! Let her go, this isn’t supposed to happen! Security!” Lucy panicked as she struggled with her the other girl’s falling body, frantically looking for the cameras and police units. Unhindered, the thing shoved Alsop away. The gasping blonde fell back into her friend, sending them both to the floor, revealing metal underneath the cobblestones. Cold laughter prompted them to look up and when they did, the alley was nothing but screams and blue fire.

***

Want to find out more? How about stories where Sherlock and Watson deal with vampires or find themselves in other time periods? You can find all of that in Curious Incidents, available here on kindle or here in print!

Season’s Readings: Holly and Ivy

Published December 13, 2015 by admin

NewSGBlog

And of course, it wouldn’t be the holiday season without a magical Christmas/fantasy mashup with a hint of sweet romance. Not that I’m biased or anything, ahem…

This title is a little atypical for me, but it combines a lot of elements that I love about the holidays: natural settings, family, friendships, the folklore elements of the stories I love. However, it also adds in a real-world element. Not all holidays are going to turn out perfect or even completely happy. I’ve been there, and I wanted to reflect that in this story. The romance aspect is mostly alluded to, but you do get some cute scenes that you’d probably never believe I could write. Plus you get to find out what happens when you inadvertently get a dryad with your Christmas tree…

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After losing her job and her boyfriend, Holly returns to her parents’ farm. Embarrassed and hopeless, she doesn’t expect to bump into a forgotten childhood friend that wasn’t supposed to exist. Ivy is not only a dryad, but she lives in the pine trees Holly’s family grows to sell at Christmas. As the old friends reconnect, Ivy not only shares her strong oninions, but gives Holly a charm that will change both their lives. As days melt into weeks and the seasons change, Holly’s life magically turns around. Christmas not only brings surprises, but a choice for the human woman. What’s more important: stability, success, and love, or keepinga promise to an old friend?

***

She paused and took a long breath, much longer than I or any other human could possibly inhale. Before my eyes her skin became greener, infused by the crisp clean air. “You need to be in the trees, Holly. Mortals refuse to understand that they must live where things grow. Now that you’re home, let’s play!” She leapt over my head and landed effortlessly beside her home tree, staring at me expectantly.

Maybe it was being back home or maybe it was just being back in the good fresh air, but her suggestion made me giddy. It suddenly sounded like the exact prescription I needed, the one thing I’d been missing through all those frustrating years. My fragile mind and heart demanded an escape. They couldn’t take any more disappointment, any more expectations or responsibility, and they especially couldn’t take any more reality. I nodded and tucked the strange clover deep in my pocket. The breeze had dried my tears and the heavenly scent of grass and pine put the sudden urge to run in my feet. Suddenly the heavy air and the blazing sun didn’t matter so much and my anxieties were willing to take a momentary backseat to the chance to goof off for an afternoon.  “Are you sure you’ll be okay?” I hesitated, hand still at my pocket.

Ivy flashed a bold grin and stretched up on her toes; her fingers wiggled over her head, making her resemble an odd, scrawny plant. “With you here? Of course! Just remember to come look after my tree when the murderers come around the winter harvest time. You can even help me choose which tree will be my final home so you’ll know where I’ll be.” The words were no sooner out of her mouth when she tore off, dodging branches and bark as quick and swift as a deer. I groaned as I pulled myself to my feet and tumbled after her, muscles screaming at the sudden exercise. Still, I found myself laughing the entire time.

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Excerpt: The Guru

Published September 14, 2015 by admin

I know, it’s a new week, but I’m probably sleeping the convention off, and I feel like giving you guys something to entertain yourselves with. We’ll get back to rants and weirdness soon enough, I swear.

Sometimes a story comes from a deep emotional place, and a lot of these times that’s a great big fat well of frustration. I can’t remember the situation this stemmed from, but I felt overwhelmed, trapped in a role. I tend to be fairly protective of those around me, and sometimes I probably overdo it, and sometimes I’m sure this gets exploited…or at the very least, people don’t realized that I’m like any other person and get exhausted. It’s also probably true that I try too hard and allow myself to get exhausted. Anyway, I was going through one of those times and suddenly this character of a little old man doomed to listen to other people’s inane questions when he really just wants to be left alone in the quiet and go swimming or something popped into my head, and off I went. this is just a piece of the story, and oddly I remember finding it a little hilarious, just so ridiculous after I wrote it. I have different emotions about this piece depending on how I feel at any given time, which is still really intriguing to me. Plus, I felt it was important to write this because as a reader, I want to know that I’m not alone in my very human feelings. If I can give that empathy and feeling of not being alone to anyone else, I’ve done my job.

I also admittedly wanted humanize the character of the mystic, because I refuse to believe that a person can’t feel negative emotions at some point in their life.

***

 Down the narrow path to the marketplace he goes, feet treading carefully on loose stones. A mishap could very well make a morning excursion his last habitual task on earth. Yet he always arrives safely in the village below, always goes to the market where he sits on the reed-wood chair. It is the only sign of his status. His wrinkled, dried-fig face could be that of any old man, his worn and ragged robe that of any beggar. He is much more, though his wealth is all inside his head. His appearance and carriage are only proof of his reclusive tendencies, not of who he is.

With slow purpose and movement that resembles a trembling leaf, he sits on his designated chair and waits for the people to come. They will not stop coming all day, even when he leaves to go back to his seclusion. From within each brain, from behind each set of lips pour out questions. Some inventive, but most he hears regularly.

From newly married couples: “What do I do so he doesn’t leave me?” or “Why does she nag me so?”

Young hearts that yearn for their first romance: “What must I do to interest him?” “How shall I keep her?” “What do I do so I do not to interest him too much? Does he love me? How can I make him love me?”

Young parents: “What do I do for colic?” “How do I get him to stop cying?”

Older parents: “Why won’t my child speak to me? How shall I get him to talk?”

Parents who are quite old: “How do I get him to leave my house?”

“What do I do with my life? Who should I be?” ask the young and filled with fear.

“Where do I go now?” ask those who are just afraid. There are the old who want to be proud of their years yet are feeble and filled with questions, for they have nothing left but to think of them. “How can I care for myself now? How can I love, how can I live?”

And there are always the ones that everyone wishes to know. “What is life about? Why is man here? Where do we go next?”

They come from everywhere. New faces show up every day, yet they quickly become old faces with new questions once they learn how accurate he is. He supposes having answers is an addiction, but it is his calling to provide what knowledge he can.

All day long he continues to sit and think and answer. He remembers how as a boy he used to be able to waste a day swimming in the river or walking through the forest. That was before his great gift was discovered. He has desires, too, though no one knows of them. He longs to travel the world, to see cities with tall buildings and deserts where living things have to spend their entire lifetimes surviving. He wants to see deep oceans, lush jungles where there are chirping birds, chittering insects, and the screams of predators. As long as there are no questions, he wants to go there. Silence is what he hopes for most.

At dusk he hobbles up the crooked path, his footsteps swaying between the little trees that try to grow between the rocks. As he flees in his dignified manner the questions of those not content to wait for tomorrow float up behind him, fading to a dull whisper the higher he goes.

“What about the harvest?”

“Am I mad or am I sick?”

“Should I kill my neighbor’s dog if it attacks my cows?”

“Will there be the heavy storms this year?”

Temptation strokes his balding head. “Lie to them,” it whispers in its throaty, beguiling voice. “Make it up and let them fail, then they will leave you be!” Frustration tugs his cottony beard that whispers to his knees. “Tell them where to go! Don’t go down the mountain tomorrow!”

But he is a decent man and casts his eyes to heaven for forgiveness. His throat is too tired to pray.

His hut welcomes him as do his goats. Their irritated cries lift to greet him and even their tone is questioning when he most wants to retreat to his solitude.

“Do you have to be so long?” their baahs seem to say, eyes hard as their foreheads. “Is it dinner time yet? Where were you, Old One, and why do you leave us all day?” He takes the time to milk and feed them. Slowly, tediously he does his chores and it is well beyond twilight when he is finished. He could take on a young boy as a helper or apprentice, send for someone to look after him, but he fears those who would take advantage of a position or the innocent questions of a young and hungry mind.

He eats a simple meal and curls upon his sleeping mat with resignation. He wants so badly to complain and tell someone about his fears, his desires, his pain of knowing

If he only had the courage and callousness to tell those fools to be curious! How he wishes he could tell them to find things out on their own, to learn and be happy with the learning and the knowing! But he is a gentle man graced with a large mind, but a small voice and timid disposition. He has no one to talk to. Not his departed, blessed wife; not his parents who instilled his curious nature; no teacher or friend or mentor.

***

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Various Speculative Genres/Short Fiction: Flash, Complete Shorts, Horror, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, and others

Journey with authors Selah Janel and S.H. Roddey to a world where every idea is a possibility and every genre an invitation.

In this collection of forty-seven short stories, lines blur and worlds collide in strange and wonderful new ways.

Get lost with the authors as they wander among fantasy, horror, science fiction, and other speculative musings.

Shadows can’t hurt you, and sometimes it’s all right to venture off the path.

WeWriWa: The Other Man (or the return of Mrs. Lederhosen)

Published September 13, 2015 by admin

I feel like I’ve done a lot of genre fiction excerpts this week, so for Weekend Writing Warriors let’s briefly revisit one of my literary pieces, The Other Man! One of the things that got me through such a heavy piece was that I included some hilarious interaction with Andrew’s two children…not that I ever acted like this when I was sent to my room at that age ever…no, not me, not at aaaall…

For more short bits of stories, be sure to check out Weekend Writing Warriors!

***

“Hellooooooo!” Both adults turned at a very high-pitched voice and stared as Miranda sauntered into the living room. She was clothed in three dress-up dresses of contrasting patterns and colors, long evening gloves, a pair of Andrew’s old sunglasses, and her Sunday shoes. A wide-brimmed straw hat that had seen better days wobbled on the little girl’s fair head.

Bethany blinked and looked as if she was struggling to remember which parenting manual dealt with the particular situation. “Miranda, what are you–”

“Oh I’m not Miranda,” the little girl laughed in what was supposed to be a grown up voice. “I’m Mrs. Lederhosen! I don’t know how I got into that silly room, but I just had to get out! If it’s all right with you, I’ll go play with Miranda’s toys!”

Andrew dimly wondered whether he was having an out of body experience.

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contemporary/drama

All Andrew wanted was the typical American dream: a good career, a nice house, and a loving family. Instead, he has a dead-end job, a cramped apartment, and children who remind him of creatures out of a sci-fi movie. He’s also well aware that he’s not the only man who inhabits his wife’s thoughts and daily life. How can he put up a fight when he’s reminded of the competition every time Bethany turns on the CD player? After one eventful evening meal when expectations, disappointments, and secrets collide, life will never be the same.

Excerpt: Mooner (or vampires and lumberjacks rock my world)

Published September 11, 2015 by admin

Today, I feel like vampires. So vampires it shall be. Well…lumberjacks that run into vampires, because in my world that combination is a beautiful thing and it’s still my birthday week, so there you go. This bit is from Mooner, an e-book title of mine that combines my love of pioneer history with my love of wrecking pioneer history…and also vampires. Because they’re awesome. Basically all you need to know is a group of lumberjacks walk into a bar on their night off, and things spiral downward from there…

***

Nancy shook her head. “I ain’t scared of you and your boys, John, and neither should you be,” she added to Bill. Her rolling eyes were framed by laugh lines, though at the moment her face was stern and cold as a sudden blizzard. “I know how you boys are and don’t think for a minute I approve of you trying to put your ways on a nice young lad like him.”

The men turned a cold shoulder to her like usual. She was only of use to them if she was carrying a loaded tray. Only Bill shot her a sympathetic glance. The older woman tucked a graying curl under her hat and strode off to deliver drinks to the tables. “Don’t you let him get you full, boy. The last thing you need is to depend on them to get you back when you’re dead drunk.”

“Bah, what does she know? C’mon, lad, drink up!” John urged, and his more naïve companion steeled himself before knocking back the firewater. “There you go, Bill! Let’s have another!” he laughed, inhaling his own whiskey before presenting his empty to Red. “To a lucky son of a bitch!” he roared, clapping the younger man across the back so hard the youth bent over the bar top. “You boys won’t believe it, but Bill here has the biggest string of luck you ever saw! I don’t know how many times I’ve looked up and thought he was a goner, almost catching his foot on a tree root running from a falling fir! And don’t get me started on the time I thought he’d fallen to his death while limbing out!”

The boy shrugged with embarrassment and ran a hand through sandy hair. “Either luck or a higher power’s been with me. All I want is enough to send back to Ma and settle down.”

A few of the others sprawled along the bar muttered in disdain. “Don’t have time for no dunghisters,” a craggy-faced logger croaked into his glass, practically spitting the derogatory term for farmer.

For a brief moment a snide glitter crept into Big John’s eyes as he glanced towards the sack clenched tightly in Bill’s fist.

“Settle down! Luck or no, it isn’t a bad idea to be careful,” Red advised, fully knowing that there were plenty who’d take the boy’s decision as an insult to the profession. He was quick to replenish glasses and change the subject. “Besides, it’s not spring yet. Your pal Joe closed the door and ended up a resident of the undertaker’s down the road last Saturday.”

For once John blanched and set his drink back on the bar. “I thought he just went out to get his teeth fixed!”

Red rolled his eyes. “A man would have to be desperate to travel ten miles to the nearest girl house in this kind of cold.”

Bill’s shock reached him through the warm haze of the whiskey. “Was he sluiced?”

“Well he didn’t just drop dead!” The barkeep shook his head and snapped his fingers at the youth employed to keep the peace. “Jack, you missed one! Lars has his caulks on and I don’t want no cases of smallpox in my saloon, you hear me?”

They watched as the local youth encouraged the sawyer out the door. After a few moments the Norwegian returned, sans his spiked boots, cursing the air blue.

“They don’t know what got him,” Red mumbled. “He was found outside last Saturday night after I closed, blood all over the snow.”

“Caulks don’t do that,” Bill offered for lack of something better to say.

“Boy, a knife couldn’t even do that. Catcher’s ax, maybe. Half his chest was ripped out and strung from one end of the street to the other.”

Bill shuddered in the heavy warmth of his bright green mackinaw and grabbed for the glass that John had shoved towards him. “What the devil could do that to a man?” he murmured, the alcohol slowly warming the chill of fear away.

“Don’t worry about it. I’ve seen a lot in my time, and it’s probably a fluke. Can’t be helped, at any rate.” John’s mutter was dark as he scanned the room in search of some new amusement. His younger friend’s gaze drifted as well, and he rested his sack on the bar to keep it in sight.

For a moment Bill thought he was imagining things or was having a particularly bad reaction to the rotgut. Blinking a few times refocused his tired gaze and proved that there was, indeed, a moving pile of…something at a table close to the other end of the bar.

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Like many young men at the end of the 1800s, Bill signed on to work in a logging camp. The work is brutal, but it promised a fast paycheck with which he can start his life. Unfortunately, his role model is Big John. Not only is he the camp’s hero, but he’s known for spending his pay as fast as he makes it. On a cold Saturday night they enter Red’s Saloon to forget the work that takes the sweat and lives of so many men their age. Red may have plans for their whiskey money, but something else lurks in the shadows. It watches and badly wants a drink that has nothing to do with alcohol. Can Bill make it back out the shabby door, or does someone else have their own plans for his future?

Wanna talk vampires with me? I’m in Louisville all weekend at the Imaginarium Convention!

Also, don’t forget to enter the Night Owl Reviews summer scavenger hunt…the hidden word on my blog miiiight be under one of the links at the top of the page.

Excerpt: Across the Universe

Published September 10, 2015 by admin

Today’s excerpt is again from Lost in the Shadows, and it’s one of those stories where the idea hit me hard but it took me a while to give myself permission to write it. I’m not a hard sci-fi writer by any means, but I love the more emotional and literary work of Ray Bradbury. Plus, when I heard a radio report about how the song Across the Universe had been beamed into space, well, I couldn’t not write this. This is also one of those stories that prompted Susan to ask what the hell was going on in my head at any given moment, heh. This is only a small part of the story, but it’s very much a love letter to one of my favorite authors as well as my deep connection to music. In the story a group of select criminals with a generations-old grudge set out to obliterate a certain planet, but run into a rather odd communication signal in the meantime.

***

“Excellent,” Spaulding purred. “I don’t need to remind you all how important this is. Failure is unacceptable. If you fail the Coordinators attempt for any reason and live, I have permission to execute you myself.” It wasn’t an empty threat. Her own strength was that she’d come from a long line of murderers. While that wasn’t particularly atypical on Planet 1312, the Spaulding line had turned it into an art form. It wasn’t that she was sadistic, although she could be, or brutal, though she had been. It was that she knew when to use her gift and how to use it to the fullest ability.

That was the trait every one of them shared. They were the experts the inhabitants of Planet 1312 strived to be. After all, in a society populated entirely by descendants of criminals, it was still important to take pride in one’s worth and strive to be the very best.

Long ago, when Earth had just begun to get a handle on long-range space travel, its first uses hadn’t been for exploration or discovery, but exploitation. With NASA’s influence fading, private corporations had funded the technology in hopes of opening up a new vacation industry, not to mention the opportunities colonization could bring.

First, though, the shuttles had to be tested. Times being what they were, they had ben filled with the overflow from prisons, homeless shelters, and even a few of the more vocal dissident groups had been plucked off the streets to fill space along with a handful of daring, clueless scientists. Family members and friends had simply disappeared from their lives and work one day. Some of their relations had never found out that they weren’t dead, but in a stark metal box hurtling through space.

After a good year of travel, the shuttle landed on Planet 1312. It was further than the shuttle should have traveled, but those that had volunteered (or had been volunteered) to lead the expedition were well-aware that kinks in the system still had to be worked out. It wasn’t until they tried to arrange their return flight that they realized there wasn’t enough fuel to get back to Earth and thesupply logs had been doctored. Only then was the full scope of the plan realized by those stranded on the planet.

They were well out of reach of communication, but the planet was fortuitously habitable if one didn’t mind reverting back to primal instincts. Many died in the following centuries. Those that didn’t never forgot their hardened roots or their betrayal. Miraculously, through luck and sheer force of will, the little society adapted and evolved, eventually regaining some semblance of technology and standard of living. Now, nearly a thousand years later, their descendants were returning home to deliver a long-overdue thank you gift.

The captain smiled a cruel little grin, the only admission of pleasure she’d allow herself during such a serious mission. “And you’re certain we shall meet with no retaliation?”

“We shouldn’t. Our communications and data retrieval are slow, to be sure, but reports over the past ten years indicate that attention is focused inward. All surrounding colonies have been called back to help with the war that’s been going on,” Natalo replied, her lovely face turned stern as she focused on the readouts glowing across her screen.

“If they’re so desperate to destroy themselves, we’ll be happy to help them out,” Kirksan quipped. The others snickered and although the lack of focus irritated Spaulding, she allowed it. It wasn’t like there would be time for celebration afterwards if things went according to plan.

As expected, everyone went right back to what they were doing after their mirth was spent. There wasn’t time for wasted emotions. Anger and a long-taught need for vengeance had followed them all their lives. The story of their civilization and how they would make Earth pay was one of the first bedtime stories they all heard, the first school lessons, even the first Sunday School lessons. There was no room for empathy or titillation, just as it was too dangerous to get too angry or caught up in their eventual upper hand. Their entire planet had only the one ship, the one bomb, the one chance.

“Approaching now. Shall I bring us out of lightspeed, captain?” Godren asked.

“Go ahead,” she replied, her grey eyes as sharp and severe as the rest of her. “Weapons?”

“Locked and loaded,” Kirkan said.

“Any resistance detected?”

“None so far, but I’ll have a better idea in a few minutes when we slow down,” Natalo soothed.

“They’re too wrapped up in their own drama,” Godren muttered under his breath.

“Be that as it may, we cannot assume anything,” Kardra reminded them. They meant well, but they required a firm hand to keep total focus. Luckily she had always had an unwavering hand, whether it was holding a knife to someone’s throat or poisoning the water supply of the neighboring community when they’d kidnapped her brother over a supply battle. “Our systems are barely up to what we remember from Earth’s capabilities ages ago.”

“If they’re so advanced, then why weren’t we spotted and dealt with yet?” Kirkan pointed out.

It was a fair question. Captain Spaulding would have loved to come up on the planet, guns blazing, but a stealth approach was necessary. All they had was the one bomb, some basic laser cannons, and their ramshackle shields. Their speed was still not as advanced as the intel they’d gleamed on Earth’s fighter crafts eight years ago. She’d love to believe the whole planet was not paying attention, that the lunar and martian colonies were truly vacant and unable to warn the arrogant fools. She wouldn’t bet on it, though. The tendency for caution had not only kept her alive, but made her successful. It’s good to expect the other shoe to drop, she reminded herself.

A light on the console flashed and something pinged a tinny, sing-song of a noise. It was a quietly mocking noise.
I knew it, Karda thought, and her fist clenched, her mind swept up in black clouds.

Everyone’s breath in the little cabin caught and stopped.

The console pinged again.

“What is it?” the captain barked, straining to keep the tension out of her voice. Coolness and calm. You are the leader. Though if their whole society had worked so hard and so long only for them to be shot down now…
“It’s just a comm message,” Natalo reassured them. As one, the crew of the unnamed ship exhaled. “It’s that transmission we intercepted a while back. It’s finally coming through on our hunk of junk system.” She paused, scrolled through the readout, and hit a few keys. “Would you like me to play it? It looks fairly antiquated.”

Spaulding paused and considered. It would take their system a few minutes to fully slow and get into attack position and even antiquated information could prove useful. “Ready the obliterator. Lock in the coordinates and continue deceleration,” she ordered before addressing Natalo. “Go ahead. At the very least it will give us something to listen to while the obliterator is primed.” The crew followed her commands with utmost precision.

She was proud that her voice sounded as composed as it did. In less than thirty minutes, we’ll be dead and our names will be sung in future war anthems. Our faces will be painted in the Hall of the Brave in the capital. She said nothing of this or the sudden rush of violence and pleasure that their long-awaited victory gave her. If only I had time to spill blood one last time before the end…that would make it all perfect. The calloused fingertips that had strangled their share of the opposition felt fuzzy and awkward from the rush of adrenaline. Looking around the cramped space proved that although her crew was trying to keep poker faces in place, they were squirming and fidgeting from their own excitement. Although they kept on task their faces held the same hungry, feral feeling Captain Karda Spaulding felt echoing through her.

Natalo opened the comm frequency and cued up the signal they’d recorded while still in deep space. For a moment there was silence, then static. “I don’t know how great the quality will be,” she admitted. “It’s ancient and our systems aren’t the best—oh,” she breathed, then snapped her pouting lips shut tight. Her shoulders hitched and chest heaved a few times before she reigned herself back in check.

Patyn and Kirksan sat up straight with sharp intakes of breath. Even Godren drew himself to attention, as grizzled by hard living as he was. Spaulding herself let out a sharp gasp, as though the sound was a dagger blade that sliced straight into her soul.

Music. Of all the things to intercept, it was music.

Lost - 400x600

Kindle        Amazon Paperback      B&N Paperback

Various Speculative Genres/Short Fiction: Flash, Complete Shorts, Horror, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, and others

Journey with authors Selah Janel and S.H. Roddey to a world where every idea is a possibility and every genre an invitation.

In this collection of forty-seven short stories, lines blur and worlds collide in strange and wonderful new ways.

Get lost with the authors as they wander among fantasy, horror, science fiction, and other speculative musings.

Shadows can’t hurt you, and sometimes it’s all right to venture off the path.

***

Reminder: I’ll be at the Imaginarium Convention all this weekend, so come on out to Louisville to meet me and some other amazing authors! I’ll even sign Lost in the Shadows for you right there!

Also, you have until Sept 17 to enter the Night Owl Book Reviews contest – be sure to check around my blog for a hidden entry word…(pssst, go look at my books!)

Short: September Children

Published September 9, 2015 by admin

Since today is my birthday (feel free to leave your gratuitous praise and adoration in the comments), I figured I’d post something appropriate. Since it’s a con week, I am going to be lazy and totally pimp my excerpts all this week because I am old and I can.

It is a known fact that people born in September are the best. They just are. No argument. Any argument just means you’re jealous. Other September babies have read this and totally agree with me, so we win. Granted, I find this month interesting because it can straddle summer and fall, though I identify more with the fall side. Without getting into the whole myth and legend of the birthing of SJ, here is a little short from Lost in the Shadows, all about my feelings on September.

You should totally buy the book, by the way. Since it’s my birthday and all.

***

September children are full of the light of the harvest moon. They are permeated by the sweet acrid musk of the smoke from burning leaves and the last of the barbecues. A child born in September acknowledges summer, relaxes in winter, but knows the real magic of the year comes with the falling of leaves and planting of pumpkins. They feel the pressure to like the start of school and they do for a week. But the distractions of the colors, the impending crisp air are enough to drive a true September child away from the books to walk down little side streets and paths in the woods to search for the remaining chipmunks and squirrels.

A September child always feels a little cheated that their mothers couldn’t keep them in the womb till October, but feel blessed that they came before the disappointment of November, the end of the real magic time of year. The winter may have its holidays, but it relies on marketing and icons to make it inviting.

A September child’s lips are kissed with cider and their cheeks are made for stuffing away doughnuts and sugary cookies. Their hair smells like deep sapphire sky no matter what the color and they haunt apple orchards, cemeteries, and destroy piles of leaves left carelessly to be crunched under their delighted feet.

September children are broody, stuck in a transition month with no real holidays. Labor Day and Grandparents Day pale in comparison to Halloween or Christmas. Being part summer and part autumn have made them determined. They watch for opportunity and adventure in their introverted hideaways in backyards. They feel no apologies for their month ending summer freedom and only a little jealousy at the months to come. But a smile from a September child means promise of things lurking in the future. They get things done. You can see possibility and fall sky in their open, wide eyes. They’re overlooked like so many others, but it helps their dreams and plottings for everyone else to be so distracted.

Their wrath is the lick of trash-burning flames, laughter the incoming of crows, their pleasure that of children playing tag on the way home from the first lazy week of school before the work really starts. September children are often ignored but full of possibility, the inhalation of breath before the year continues on, the thoughts and empty space before meditation. September children know how to live, most of all

Lost - 400x600

Kindle        Amazon Paperback      B&N Paperback

Various Speculative Genres/Short Fiction: Flash, Complete Shorts, Horror, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, and others

Journey with authors Selah Janel and S.H. Roddey to a world where every idea is a possibility and every genre an invitation.

In this collection of forty-seven short stories, lines blur and worlds collide in strange and wonderful new ways.

Get lost with the authors as they wander among fantasy, horror, science fiction, and other speculative musings.

Shadows can’t hurt you, and sometimes it’s all right to venture off the path.

***

In the Louisville area this weekend? Come see me at Imaginarium Convention and get a signed copy of Lost in the Shadows for your very own!

Also, be sure to go hunting for the hidden word on my blog and enter the Night Owl Reviews scavenger hunt before Sept 17! (hint: go look through the links at the top of the page…)