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In trying to get back into the swing of writing, Flash Fiction Challenges are very useful. Here’s my entry for LitStack’s Flash Fiction Challenge 4, http://litstack.com/?p=4983, in response to the following image.
Observation Mission 436, Incident Log
We move out of the narrow space slowly, the humid, chemical laden air of this metropolis making it challenging to retain a shape that is inconspicuous to the native bipeds. Water droplets slice into the fragile force field that mimics that expected outer layer of damp hair that would cover this small, agile quadruped we choose as a form.
This world is facing away from its star, but there is little impact of night, even among such a primitive civilization. What they lack in weather control to stop the infernal rain, this species seems to have a surprising array of light sources from across the mid-wavelength spectrum that shine into the wet darkness. We debate within, whether this is a sign of progress or unhealthy perversion, but no consensus is reached before the next mincing step is required from the creature we embody. The thin, slick surface on which we balance would be treacherous for the creature we resemble, but it is the rain which threatens our integrity more than the lack of available friction. Nevertheless, we imitate the appearance of crouching down to lie upon the metal beneath us, and open wide all receptors to maximum input.
The chemical traces in the air are full of noxious substances that will require intense filtration from each unit upon returning to Mother. It is evident why these bipeds do not survive more than a hundred cycles of their star. Each of the slow-moving transports that pass underneath our position emit a foul cloud that wafts up through the wet atmosphere and clogs every receptor and makes each unit distinctly long for the comforts of home. We are unanimous in our nostalgia for the dry, sweet warmth of Mother.
But it is the auditory receptors that prove most interesting with their findings. In between the sounds of the pummeling rain and the crass noise of internal combustion engines, there is a fascinating interplay between complex orchestration, primitive rhythm and dynamic improvisation in the sounds emanating from the buildings surrounding our position. It is the most compelling evidence so far of true advancement for the bipeds. With some insignificant complaints from certain subgroups, we decide to stay at our position to acquire more data.
But alas, our mission is thoroughly compromised as the interesting frequencies become overwhelmed by a different set of sounds, which we interpret as emissions of distress, warning and anger. A series of loud cracks echoes through the thick air and our form is compromised by a high speed projectile – most likely some kind of weapon. We fly apart, a thousand units unable to handle the data processing required for decision making, and emergency protocols send us flashing back to Mother.
It is clear that despite some potential, this planet is not ready for open contact. We will return to observe again in another galactic cycle – should the bipeds survive that long.
I’ve been having a lot of fun on my blog tour this month, with visits to many excellent destinations, including Scribal Love, Starla Kaye, Moonlight Lace and Mayhem,and Deborah Melanie, with more to come soon, including a radio interview with Desmond Haas. But the big news is of course the release of Magic Eights!
A casual wish by a frustratingly horny wife results in a most unexpected bit of magic…
Susanna walks into her kitchen to see two copies of her husband of eight years, William. When they both seduce her, she’s helpless to resist. Who would want to? When another copy walks in and makes love to her, and another, she ceases to ask why, only, how much can she take?
Seven copies, one original, and all of them want to push her to the very brink. Can she handle them all? Sinful satisfaction is the best anniversary present, and eight is Susanna’s lucky number.
I had so much fun writing the world of Magic Eights that I’ve been extending it into two more books which followed the story of Esme Morgan, the witch who gives Susanna Wong the Magic Eight ball that starts all the fun in Magic Eights.
To give you a taste of the next book in the series, here’s a taste of my work in progress, an urban fantasy tentatively titled “Memory Lapse”
Anton Boroi whistled softly under his breath, hands in the pockets of his wool trousers, not once noticing that in his long-sleeved shirt, waistcoat and tie he was not dressed for the steamy weather of Mexico City. He practically skipped from one patch of shadow to the next, a man who’d made a decision and was engaged in preparation for follow-through, without another care in the world.
He didn’t notice the once brightly painted buildings, or the bars on the windows, or the potential danger of a neighborhood that held no interest and no danger for him. He had his last appointment with a buyer, and then he was done with the hunting business. Finito. Isprăvit. Flown the coop.
Gone courting, finally.
He took a shortcut through a market, always an excellent place to find enough shade. The scents of spices and sweat, old cilantro and mildly rancid frying lard were foul, but not unappetizing. With the exception of the more subtle breeds of alcohol, he had little interest in the tastes of humans. The din of the football match on the radio, the listless mariachi players half a block away and the thousand sounds of dispirited hawkers making half-hearted attempts to garner business in the late afternoon were merely a background noise to the thoughts in his head, contemplating his next great project.
Given the man’s intense focus, it was rather remarkable that he was distracted by a patch of soft color in the odd mix of dusty brown and garnish fluorescent that made up the cheap wares of this Mercado. He turned his head, and at a clothing booth saw a rustic blouse in a rich butter yellow, the exact shade she wore when she first sat by his side in a chemistry lecture in 1889.
Cynthiniel. How he missed her.
He pondered if he should come to her door with a gift, and his mind pictured her in this blouse, her hair swirling around her like a cloak of honey gold, her green eyes smiling at him as her presented her with a bouquet of wildflowers in return for a kiss.
Bah. He was a sentimental fool.
The scream of a child and the chitter of a howler monkey meshed together in to a cacophony that sounded like a threat, and he turned his head, grey eyes turning red and tension evident in his pose. The smell of blood rose thick in the heady air and he salivated. Once again, a flash of memory, this time the red of Cyn’s blood dripping down her arms as she struggled against the iron manicals restraining her magic, her eyes lit with fire as she fought for their lives, the silver-robed priest droning on between them, ready to sacrifice them both.
Pushing the monster back down, he stalked down the aisle, where the stall owner was gripping the arm of the victim and yelling at the inquisitive little girl with pain in her eyes who was sucking her bitten finger.
Looming over the little man, Anton smiled tightly. His Spanish was probably too influenced by his years hiding in Galicia to be any good in a barrio, but he did his best. “Perhaps if your cages were cleaner, your animals wouldn’t be so libel to bite potential clients.”
The man blinked up at his six foot two and gave an ingratiating smile. “Oh, Senor, are you interested in exotic animals?”
The girl made good the opportunity to escape. He always did like clever children. Perhaps because he couldn’t have any of his own.
He would have rudely turned around and stalked off, his typical solution to sticky situations, but again a patch of color caught his eye. He turned his head, and in a tiny, cramped cage in the darkness of the stall, there was a rodent sleeping in a little ball, long green fur sticking up at all angles.
In his experience, most mammals didn’t come in green. At least not in this reality.
Perfect present for his Cyn. She’d adore it.
The Best Damn Creative Writing Blog issued the following challenge:
Use the picture below to guide you in your story’s theme or setting, but you must include the following:
Post your story–500 words or fewer–on your blog or someplace you’d like the rest of us to visit. Then drop a link in the comments here, and we’ll include a round-up of entries with the next challenge.
Here’s your prompt:
It had seemed a good idea. Drive away from her life, far away from her dead-end mail room job and her student loans and her alcoholic mother. Drive until she found some idyllic small town, somewhere in the heart of America. Find a waitress job, serve people coffee and pie and listen to a thousand stories and then write that best seller and maybe some screenplays and make all her dreams come true.
But there was nothing in Kansas but corn and Walmarts. Highway 70 was one straight road across a state flatter than a pancake. After she’d passed Abilene, she just kept turning on smaller and smaller roads, determined to find that slice of Americana that suited her dreams. Now she was lost somewhere between Beverly, population 199, and Tescott, population 319, according to her GPS when she’d last had a signal. Now, her car was out of gas. And she was surrounded by nothing but corn.
After spending an uncomfortable night cramped in the back seat of her Neon, haunted by the complete absence of city noises and the loud sound of her own heartbeat, she figured that it would be better to try to walk somewhere, anywhere, no matter what the weather.
It was the end of September, and it should still be hot as hell, but it was cold, bone-chillingly cold in the pre-dawn light. The corn reached up above her head toward a grey sky swirling with dark clouds. She wondered if it would rain, if life could throw another boulder in her path. She’d started driving straight from her office in no-name suburban Chicago. All she had was her purse, her gym bag full of sweaty clothes, and half a bottle of Diet Pepsi. Pulling the scrunchie off the turn signal, she tied back her frizzy black hair. She unzipped the grey gym bag and took out the lime green athletic shoes that had never seen anything but the steps of an elliptical. Changing her sensible black pumps for her garish but comfortable sneakers, she stuffed her purse into the gym bag, clutched the Diet Pepsi like an Olympic runner would her torch, and stepped out of the car. She didn’t even bother to lock it, deciding it was easier not to give a damn.
She walked determinedly down the pebbled road. Maybe some hot farm boy would pull up to her in a dusty blue pickup and sweep her off her feet to a life of baking apple pies and milking cows. Maybe some lone serial killer would slash her to ribbons in the corn rows and they’d find her body with her ovaries tied in a neat bow. Maybe a van stuffed full of Mexican migrants would pull up and take pity on her and offer her a ride into some kind of civilization.
It wasn’t even dawn, and the day seemed endless.
But it least she wasn’t back in that damned office. At least today, something was different.
I love writing to prompts! If you have one, feel free to tickle my fancy with it!
I’ve been sick and stressed, so I haven’t gotten much writing done, but I’ll post a short snippet from my Hawaiian Magi book that I’m working on now. Set in 1888, Emelia is a baker in Waimea, on the Big Island, and her brother-in-law, Mateo, is trying to woo her after her husband has died in an accident. Mateo was meant for her all along.
From “Seduce the Soul”
Her skin smelled sweet, like flour and sugar and the hot honeyed perfume of plumeria, almost too sweet to stand, until he reached out his tongue to taste that skin and the salt of her sweat made it bearable, more than bearable – it was divine. It was magic. She shuddered under his touch, like a bird trapped in his hand, and he wanted to draw her song from her, make her sing at his pleasure.
But she was no bird to be caged. His brother had tried, and his brother had broken both their hearts instead. The tip of his tongue drew down the center of her spine, and underneath he could feel her awareness, the careful control that she expended not to move, to barely breathe. It was that which gave her away. She didn’t have the laxity of the sleeper, the deep even breathing, and she didn’t have the skill to fake sleep convincingly, especially from his power. He knew that she was soaking up his touch, wrapping it in the feigned innocence of sleep and gifting him with the sweet indulgent delight of a stolen caress.
Magic Eights has been accepted for publication with Ellora’s Cave. I’ll have more info soon. For now, here’s a snippet of my latest work in progress, a Steampunk short for a Steampunk Shakespeare anthology:
Solar Roses: Sonnet Seven
Lo! in the orient when the gracious light
Lifts up his burning head, each under eye
Doth homage to his new-appearing sight,
Serving with looks his sacred majesty;
Sammy saw the storm coming in the distance, the sand blowing in swirls and eddies that were almost beautiful as they bridged between the sky and the dunes outside the farm. She squinted up at the sun, just over the horizon and not yet so bright that it could send a flare of pain straight through her skull. Her headache was already fearsome, and didn’t need any aid to progress to rabid. Cursing herself for a stupid fool to be dazzled by the most dangerous things in the desert, the sun and the sand, Sammy snapped her smoked goggles over her eyes and wrapped the length of embroidered blue silk over her frizzy auburn hair and round face. Her mother always had wanted her to wear hijab. Now she had no choice, or the sand would scratch chunks out of her skin.
Batzorig was waiting peacefully, as always, the rapid flicking of one ear the only sign that he was nervous about the encroaching storm. A steppe fox snorted at her from a nearby rock, clearing announcing her stupidity for not making her escape and she had a ridiculous desire to stick her tongue out at the wry little face. But she was a decade past the age when such behavior was acceptable as anything but a waste of much valued water. That was the entire point of this madcap endeavor. She was definitely not a child any longer.
She turned to look at her farm, at the dozen crescents that smiled or frowned at the dawn. There was no blinding light from them, not now when they were encased in undyed ivory silk, waiting for the oncoming assault. Her beloved mirrors would not produce any water today, not with the sandstorm coming. Perhaps, if she was very lucky, she’d get a few curious boys or brave girls from Turpan village to help her remove her precious silks and reveal the coppery glow of her own personal horde.
She couldn’t wait any longer, but she wasn’t about to try to ride for the dubious safety of her mud brick hovel. It wasn’t any kind of place to wait out a storm, and as it was she’d have to shake the sand out of her blankets for a week before she’d be able to sleep without skritching. And there certainly wasn’t enough room for Batzorig in the tiny structure, and she didn’t have the heart to leave him out to be pummeled.
With one long last look at her mirrors, and a lip-biting assessment of the stability of her latest base welds, she pulled up the hatch lever at her feet and revealed her own little sanctuary. It wasn’t near done yet, not enough to sleep in regular like, but it was broad and deep, carved out of the dry desert soil by her own hands and any curious youngsters she could bribe to help. The walls and the floor were covered with scrap metal flooring, and most of a rusted out box car that she’d refinished with finesse. It was large enough for herself, and once she got the plumbing working and the air vented rigged up to the lower level, she would…they would…have plenty of space.
Now, the only “they” she had to worry about was her own sorry bulk and the lackadaisical takhi horse that would no doubt try to eat her trousers if the storm lasted much more than an hour. Next time she planned on being stuck with Batty in an enclosed space, she’d better remember some hay.
Too late now. She pushed Batty down the carved out steps and with some distinctly displeased brays and much gnashing of teeth from both woman and horse, both of them were firmly enclosed in the echoing dark. She shut the hatch behind her just as the distinct howling of the storm seemed to crash against the thick bottle glass window she’d poured herself only a few days ago.
Skirting past Batty in the now-pitch dark, Sammy managed to locate on a shelf two tallow candles and her strike lighter, after having knocked over only a full canteen, a tin cup full of calligraphy brushes, a small statue of Hanuman, and her favorite glass scoring knife.
Once the two candles were lit and their greasy smell began to fill the little box cave, Sammy made a firm resolution to improve her system of organization, and to make herself a couple of decent oil lanterns as soon as possible.
She contemplated working on said project now, while she was stuck underground with a takhi horse snuffling at her elbow and nothing better to do than worry about the state of her mirrors. But her body, up since the first storm warning drums in the pre-dawn, had firm plans. As if reading her mind, Batty lay down on his side, his exposed flank beckoning like a soft feather bed. She lay down and curled into the soft warm of her horse, and slept within the span of two deep breaths of dusty horsehair against her cheek.
Her dreams were full of the sun, reflected around her in all his glory, yet always dancing just out of her reach.