Flash Fiction: When They Called Her Home

Written for Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenge: A Title and Two Lines

Word Count: 2,699

As I wrote I kinda strayed away from the title a bit and the ending could use more work. But it works.


The odd man remained silent, forcing a small, copper box into my hands.

I fumbled with the box, the metal warm against my cold hands.

“Hey wait!” I called into the crowd, my voice trailing off, the man had already disappeared into the crowd as quickly as he had shown up. My eyes search for some trace of him to no avail.

I was still looking when something hard slammed in my back, making me stumble.

“Don’t just stand in the middle of a busy road ya idiot!” And older woman glared at me and hitched her bag of turnips higher. I bet it was those turnips she had slammed into me. “Damn kids these days,” she muttered under her breath. She slipped into the river of people and disappeared.

I waded my way to the edge of the road, dodging several street urchins who had already learned not to try picking my pockets. They weren’t going to find anything worth stealing. I found a spot of calm next to the entrance of a spice shop, the sharp scent of cloves and pepper making my nose itch.

I let several minutes pass as I watched the people move past me. Busy people living busy lives. Always paying attention to only what was right in front of them. The next meal, the next job, the next street. It was one of the reasons I liked this city. Why I had stayed so long in one spot. Three years, three years I had lived in New Haplan. Minding my own business, just trying to make a living. And I had stayed too long.

My thumb gently stroked the top of the box, feeling out the gentle ridges and swirls of my family crest. A skull with a length of cloth coming from its mouth. A needle threaded through its eyes. A symbol that had been illegal for the past 100 years.

I gripped the box, the edges digging into my hands. I took a deep breath and looked down at the box. At the sight I was swept back into old memories. Memories of my grandmother and I sitting at her large kitchen table, the copper box sitting next to us, open and revealing several golden needles and a pair of silver scissors. The smell of lilacs surrounding us.

“Now Mina,” her voice had been soft, but I never had to strain to hear it, “You must always remember that our work is the bridge from the past to the future.” 

She said those words to me a lot. And whenever my mother wasn’t around, which was often in those days, She would teach me how to use those needles. She would teach me magic.

I fingered the latch on the front of the box.

“Make way! Make way for High Priest Lesden!” My head snapped up, my eyes finding the silver guards pushing their way through the crowded road. I jerked back to reality and quickly shoved the small box deep into a pocket of my heavy overcoat before dropping my head into a bow, fist over heart. The river of people stilled, and then rippled as everyone dropped into similar bows.

Gazing up through my lashes I watched as an ornate silver palanquin, heavily carved and hung with thick velvet to keep out the winter’s chill, bobbed above the crowd  Silver guards in their shining armor surrounded the palanquin, shoving people out of the way when they didn’t move fast enough.

I couldn’t catch a glimpse of the occupant of the palanquin. Not that I expected to. High Priest Lesden hated appearing in front of the common people. He even kept his holy day speeches to the minimum length required.

As his palanquin disappeared from view and the crowd began moving again, I let out a breath I hadn’t realized I was holding.

Pulling my coat tighter against my chest, I slipped back into the crowd going the opposite direction I should have been. I couldn’t go back to the workshop  even though my boss had a paycheck for me. Not it was time for me to leave New Haplan, and quickly.

As I walked I made a mental list of what I could bring with me. The money hidden under the floor boards, my spare set of jewelers tools, I hated to lose the set at the workshop but it couldn’t be helped. It would be too risky to go back for them.

If some strange man was able to find me who knew who else knew where I was.

I shoved my key into my lock angrily, I had grown soft, and now I would pay for it.

I slipped upstairs and into my home for the last three years. It was a small place, all my roommate and I could afford with our meager wages. Thankfully my roommate was still at her own job. My cheeks grew hot. I wouldn’t be able to say goodbye.

I slapped a hand to my cheek and grabbed my old backpack. I’d been through this before, I could do it again. Hastily and without care for the clothing I was rumbling I began shoving as much as I could into the bag. My hands hesitated over the shelf where I stored the few personal trinkets I had acquired over the years.

A small statue of Dyne, the goddess of craftsmen.  A ceramic rose given to me by a former lover. A book on astrology my roommate thought I should read. It would be better to leave them behind. I turned my back on the shelf.

I spun around my small home, taking in one last look of home. I would miss this place. And my roommate, as annoying as she could be. I would even miss her constantly trying to push the newest herbal tea blend, designed to cure all ills. I laughed a little, the last one had kept her up for three nights straight.

I brushed my hand against the box sitting in my pocket. After a moments hesitation I fished it out. Before I could talk myself out of it, I flicked my thumb and opened the small copper box. The lid snapped open revealing two small pieces of paper. Notes from my grandmother? I glanced towards the half closed window and bit my lip. I probably had time.

With a thunk I dropped my full backpack on the floor and sat myself down at our small table. I set aside the box with its needles and inspected the two notes. One was larger than the other and looked worn, as if it had been folded and refolded many times. The other was small, just a single fold and the paper was very fine. I flipped open the small note to find just two lines.

Your kingdom needs you.

Sundown, the market bridge.

I eyed the gently curving script, whoever wrote it had very nice handwriting. My brow furrowed. The man from this morning? He had been dressed in mostly nondescript clothing but his hands were soft and calloused.

Your kingdom needs you. Could he be from the king? It had to be a trap. But how did they get my grandmother’s box? Not wanting to continue that train of thought I set the note down and picked up the other one. As I picked it up I caught of whiff of something. Almost like lilacs. Unfolding the note I almost choked as I recognized my grandmother’s handwriting. Wiping away tears I read the note.

Dearest Mina,

If you are reading this I’m dead and long gone. And what’s more, King Eldride, whom I have just stitched is likely dead as well. The one who has given you this book works for the king, you can trust them. Meet with them and do the task our family has done for the past 100 generations. Don’t let the bridge between the past and the future burn.

I love you,

Your Grandmother Sania

The note shook in my hands. My grandmother had stitched the King? But their magic was outlawed by the Church. How could she have been there 20 years ago when the old king died? Although it was right around the time she had disappeared….No. I shook my head. Not possible. There’s no way the Silver Guard would have allowed my grandmother to get anywhere near the king.

Carefully I folded the note and put it back in the box before tucking the box deep into my pocket. I stared at the other note, debating before shoving it into my pocket with the box. Better to not let anyone find it.

I grabbed my backpack and with one final look around the place, I left. Outside the sun was just beginning to set. I eyed the road, if I went straight there I could make it to the Market Bridge by sundown. I shook the thought away, I wasn’t tempting fate tonight. I turned in the opposite direction from the bridge.

The road was a lot clearer now. Most people were at work still or at home, eating with their families. I headed towards the Northern entrance to the town, the road would take me to Lisbenth. I’d stayed there several years ago, it was a good enough city, not as big as New Haplan but it would do for awhile.

As she walked down the road she couldn’t help but glance behind her every once in awhile, back down the road towards the Market Bridge. What if grandmother’s note was true? Could she stitch one mans memories to another’s, stitching the wisdom and knowledge of the past to another’s soul? She’d watched her grandmother do it in secret when she was younger. She remembered her grandmother did it to her old dog and a new puppy once. And after the new puppy already knew all of the trained commands the old dog knew.

Don’t let the bridge between the past and the future burn

 “Damn it all,” I clutched my backpack and spun around almost running down the street towards the Market Bridge. The sun had set a few minutes ago, would they wait? I was out of breath as I come upon the bridge, my breath coming in gasps in the cold air.

I slowed, looking around for anyone waiting, I walked towards one of the large bridge posts.

“I hoped you would come.” I almost shrieked at the sound of a voice, barely managing to clap a hand over my mouth to stop the sound.

I turned to find the odd man from that morning stepping out from the shadows below the bridge. He bowed low as he came into the light. He was still dressed in the same nondescript clothing as before now but now I could see that his beard was carefully trimmed and oiled, and his cloak was finely woven. And what was more, it was pinned with the golden eagle of the the Royal house of Ascalander.

“My name is Sir Jorin Fremin. I presume that you are the grandaughter of Sania Weviner, Mina Weviner?” I nodded, still out of breath. “Excellent, his highness will be pleased. Please, follow me.”

He strode into the night towards the other side of the market, leaving me with nothing to do but follow him. He led her to an old shop that used to be a booksellers but had closed town several months ago. I could still smell the scent of old books inside.

The front of the store was dark but a light burned in the back room. The man, Jorin Fremin, knocked softly at the door in a complicated rhythm. “Your Highness, I’ve returned and I’ve brought Miss Mina Weviner with me.” The door opened, light pooling in the dark shop. The man gestured for me to enter the room.

I grimaced and clutched the straps of my backpack. This was probably a bad idea. But for some reason I stepped forward, into the light of the room.

The room was small, only big enough for two men in leather armor and a man sitting at a small table. A large box sat on the table next to him. Jorin closed the door behind me, shutting me in the room with the other men.

The man stood as I entered the room. “Welcome Miss Weviner, I am truly glad you came.” He smiled softly and gestured for me to sit on the other chair. I stayed standing. I recognized the man, anyone would. He was Prince Gladde, the heir to the throne of Ascalander. When he saw I wasn’t going to sit he sighed and sat back down. Clasping his hands together he looked up at me, his eyes serious.

“I’ll get right to the point then, I am Prince Gladde as I am sure you are aware. However tomorrow I am to be crowned King.”

“King Eldride is dead?” I thought back to my grandmother’s note. She was right. 

 “Yes, he passed away early this morning.” The prince’s eyes were sad and he glanced at the box on the table. “Before my father died he put certain plans into place, plans to be executed at the moment of his death. Plans to find you and have you work your families magic on myself. I want you to stitch my father’s memories into my own.”

“You can’t be serious,” I sputtered. I glanced at the box on the table. I could now detect another smell under the scent of musty books. The scent of death. “I don’t know what you’re talking about you highness, magic has been outlawed for the past 100 years. There is no more magic.”

“Your grandmother warned us that you would likely deny what you could do, I’m surprised you even showed up. But I know who you are, and what you can do and despite what the church says I’m not about to let over 100 generations of knowledge be lost because it scares some priests!” His fist slammed on the table, making me jump.

“I’m sorry,” he said sheepishly, his pale cheeks coloring. “My father never allowed the priests to shove their prejudices into my head when I was young. Something I am extremely thankful for. Now then, I know you must be scared, and rightly so. But your country needs to. We can’t lose the past this way.”

Don’t let the bridge between the past and the future burn

 My grandmother’s words spun through my head.

“Your grandmother left instructions on how this works.” The prince stood up and grabbed the lid of the box. “It must be done within 24 hours, The hair, fresh from the scale is all that’s required. The body itself isn’t necessary.” He lifted the lid to the box, revealing the severed head of King Eldride. “I hate to think what the priests will say when they embalm his body but he insisted this would be the best way. Can you do it?” The prince looked up at me, hope and fear in his eyes. He wasn’t that much younger than I was.

Don’t let the bridge between the past and the future burn

 I pulled the box from my pocket and flipped open the lid. “Let’s do this then.”

I plucked a hair from the severed head, and threaded my needle.

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Flash Fiction: Lady Spidermail and Nancy: Part One

Originally this was supposed to be for one of Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenges but life got in the way and I didn’t finish it in time. Oh well, here it is in all it’s glory anyway. My first try at comedy.


“Ahhh! Thats the ticket right there!” Lady Spidermail slammed her now empty white wine spritzer on the formica bar. “Another, good waiter!” She called out. Almost immediately one scantily clad waiter dropped off a sixth white wine spritzer, earning him a hearty slap on his leather thong clad ass.

“Now that you’ve had your spritzers Lady Chainmail, can we return to my problem?” Asked the dark clad necromancer. He sighed and waited while his companion eyed the waiters retreating buttocks, a hand print glowing bright red on his right cheek.

“What was that Nancy?” she asked once the thrice mentioned butt retreated from view. The necromancer sighed again.

“Can we please return to my problem now? The one I’m paying you for?” He took a sip of his own spritzer. At least the bar, while dirtier than he would like, made excellent spritzers.

“Ah, getting your goat back from your ex right?” The warrior said with a laugh.

“Yes!” He slammed hand down on the Formica  “She is a very special goat! No other necromancer has been ale to raise a goat so completely that it can make milk! If I can commercialize the technique I can make millions!” The necromancer’s eyes grew bright and his cheeks flushed as he spoke about his goat. But that might have also been the spritzer. Navy was a bit of a lightweight.

“On undead goat milk.” Lady Spidermail gave a shudder. She hated goat milk.

“Yes! But I can’t continue my research without Nelly!”

“Who?”

“My goat!”

“Ah, right. Nelly.”

“Yes! The sooner we find her the sooner I can continue my research!”

“Well then!” She shouted before slamming back her seventh white wine spritzer and stood up, her chair squeaking on the dirty floor. “Let’s get going! We’re losing daylight!” Lo’Quesh the fire owl hooted in agreement and flew down from where he had been perched in the rafters.

Several patrons of the bar squealed in protest and slammed at the sparks that drifted from the fire owls’ feathers.

“Yes!” Nancy exclaimed gleefully. He left up from his chair in excitement on ly to crash backwards on the floor.

Lady Spidermail leaned over and inspected her companion.

“It’s okay guys! He’s just passed out!” she called back to the other people in the bar who proceeded to ignore the spidermail clad woman and her odd companion. Hoping beyond hope that they would leave soon.

“Well Lo’Questh,” she said to her fire own, oblivious to the mood of the bar. “I knew the guy was a light weight but I didn’t know he was that weak.”

With a gentle heave of her prodigious muscles, she dragged the drunk necromancer out of the bar and onto his horse.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

He awoke sometime later as he started to slide to one side of his horse.

“Whaaa???” He grumbled, and he blinking sleepy eyes. His head was killing him. Too much white wine spritzer. He tired to right himself but found himself tired rather tightly to his saddle.

“Lady Spidermail! Help!” He yellowed as he slipped even father to the side. His head was getting dangerously close to the ground.

“Ah, good! You’re awake!” Lady Spidermail rode her horse back towards the necromancer, her fire owl perched on the saddle-horn. She gripped the necromancers dark cloak and heaved him upright. “There you go.”

“Can you untie me now?” He pleased. His hands were starting to get that uncomfortable tingly feeling in them. And he desperately needed to get to his wet wipes. He could just feel the dried sweat beginning to clog his pores. As he was pleading he swore he saw that damn fire owl laughing at him. That bird never respected him.

“Oh yeah, that might be good.” The warrior woman snapped her fingers twice and, to the necromancers shock, the rope began untying itself. Coiling into a neat circle in Lady Spidermail’s hand.

“Angorian Self-Untying Rope,” she said smugly. “Never leave home without it. Now then, since you were passed out I didn’t actually get to ask you where it this ex of yours?” I’ve just been riding in circles waiting for you to wake up.”

“It was in the letter I sent you!” Nancy screeched as he rubbed his tingly fingers. He reached into his cloak and pulled out his hand packet of wet wipes. He furiously began scrubbing the sweat and dirt from his hands and face. He would have to pay for a bath at the next town they came to.

“Oh, that. I didn’t read it.” She said with a shrug.

Nancy huffed and straightened his robes. “Well, if you had,” He shot her a glare. “You would know Cynthia’s lab in Acitip.”

“Isn’t Acitip that weird scholar town?” Lady Spidermail scrunched her nose. She didn’t like the scholarly types. They used too many big words like, ‘Antidisestablishmentarianism’ and cholesterol.” She only put up with Nancy because he was able to get the ice mice Lo’Quesh liked.

“Yes! Acitip!” Nancy’s eyes began to glaze over. “The great seat of learning. Scholars from all over Nauro gather there, it’s a beautiful place.”

“So why don’t you live there?”

The necromancer grew scarlet. “The rent is high there,” he choked. “But once I patent Nelly, I will have finally show those losers— I mean, I will be able to afford rent. Necromancy only pays so much these days.” He coughed, ” Taxes, you know?”

“Right, taxes.” There he goes again with one of his big words.

Nancy’s failed to notice that Lady Spidermail was no longer paying attention. “Her lab is towards the edge of the city. It should be a fairly simple matter to break in and steal back Nelly.”

“Whatever you say Nancy, it’s take us at least two days on the road to get there.” Two days of listening to the necromancer babble on about undead this, undead that. Not her idea of a good time. But he was paying her at least this time.

“Excellent. Hopefully Cynthia won’t have changed Nelly too much.”

The necromancer continued to babble on about his goat when the fire owl gave out a loud screech and rose high into the air.

“By Zanadu! Bandits!” Lady Spidermail let out a whoops when she spotted the unkempt looking men charging towards them. She unsheathed her battleaxe and let out a loud war cry before charging forward.

TO BE CONTINUED

Flash Fiction: Vampire for President

For Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenge
 “Vampire for President
1,821 words

I ran my knife across the short length of wood slowly. There was no need to rush.

My hands I left to their familiar task while my eyes watched the television flicker. The announcer droned on.

“And that, ladies and gentlemen, was the lovely candidate Candice Rosewin!”

The TV grew loud with applause. Everyone liked Candice. She was a pretty enough young woman I thought. Carefully dress and with the kind of open face that made people trust her. Reminded me of a girlfriend I once had. Nice girl. Great lay.

“And now we will hear from our next presidential candidate–”

I leaned in closer to the TV and licked my dry lips.

“Harold Sangor!”

The applause was not as loud this time. Sangor was not as well liked as Candice. But those who did clap, did so fervently.

The man who began speaking in a quiet voice, so different from Candice’s lively once, looked sickly. He was old, pale and had perpetual bloodshot eyes.

I barely listened to what He had to say. I didn’t care what the unnatural thing claimed to support. By tomorrow morning he would be dead. I glanced at the flyer on the table next to me. It advertised and event featuring both candidates early the next morning. The location was a park near home. It was the perfect opportunity. I grinned at the thought. It would be something, in the hunter community, to boast that I killed a vampire trying to be president.

I planned and prepared my stakes late into the night, snatching a couple hours of sleep before dawn. The next day was heavily overcast as it usually was this time of year. The vampire probably planned around it to avoid the sun’s burning rays. I stowed away the gear I would need in my heavy overcoat. The sunless sky giving me a good excuse to wear it.

A large crowd had already started to form when I arrived even though the event was hours away. The crowd split into two very distinct groups  Once side, obviously for Candice was full of younger people milling around excitedly. Candice’s platform was all about government reform and bringing the focus back to the home, to education.

Sangor’s group was night to Candice’s day. They were mostly older generations, by their clothing they had month to throw around. They were far more subdued than the other group and most looked as if they would rather be anywhere else. Like sleeping the day away.

That there were a few vampires among them as well, I had no doubt. But that would come later. I wanted the big one first. The small fry could wait.

I shuffled my way towards the front of the crowd. I stuck closer to Candice’s group  figuring they were less likely to look at me too closely. many were dressed just as oddly as I way. I passed one couple who looked like they dressed themselves from and 80’s thrift shop.

I drew close to the small stage that had been set up, it was covered in red, white, and blue ribbons, security was already present, preventing anyone from getting too close.

The stage was attached to a small community storage room with a door set in the back of the room. The room wasn’t used that often, mostly used to store supplies for summer BBQ’s and children’s’ plays.

I didn’t worry about them too much. They would be too distracted when the time came. My thoughts drifted to the small bomb I had hidden in a nearby tree two days ago. A glance as I walked by earlier confirmed that it hadn’t been found.

Small town like this, security would be minimal. No extremist presidential assassins in  this podunk town. Just one very good vampire hunter.

Shortly before the event was due to start, several black SUVs drove up to the side road, vomiting several security guards dressed as black as the cars. There were a few more security than I was expecting but no matter, my plan was still sound.

The crowd roared once they spotted Candice and Sangor get out of their cars.

I waited until the two candidates were on the stage before hitting the button hidden in one pocket. A small boom shook the park as a large oak tree exploded.

There was instant panic as the crowd began to run in all directions. Security immediately started ushering the candidates into the small community room at the back of the stage.

Seizing my chance, I stripped off my overcoat revealing a suit exactly like the ones security was wearing, complete with ear piece. In the confusion, not one realized I wasn’t one of them. They didn’t notice when I started darting all of the security with a very strong sleeping potion I bought off a witch. Very handy stuff, could take out an ox and keep him down for several hours.

The few still up did notice when I shut and barred the door behind me though. Muffled shouts and pounding thudded on the door. But the door was solid. Bear’s roamed through the park sometimes and the community didn’t want them getting to their burger buns.

“Hey! Who are you–” called a security man but down he went with a dart to the neck. One more short of my dark gun and the last of the security guys were down, leaving me with the two political candidates.

They both stared at me with shock. Candice’s large hat had been shifted askew so it hung sideways on her head. Sangor’s flabby mouth hung wide open.

“I say who are you!” Said Sangor, coming to his senses first, his face grew red and he took a menacing step towards me.

“I’m the hunter who’s going to kill you! Undead scum!” Cheesy I know, but I couldn’t resist. I pulled a freshly sharped stake from inside my jacket and lept towards the man.

The point of my stake was inches from his heart with a pale, delicate hand gripped my wrist with a surprising amount of strength. Sangor dropped to the ground in a dead faint. I regrettably let out a squeak and tried to pull my hand away to no avail.

“I’ll let you go if you promise not to stab me with that stake of yours.” came a cool voice.

I looked over in shock, first at the small hand holding on to mine with such strength and then up to Candice’s smiling face. “May I let go?” I nodded dumbly. “Excellent.”

I rubbed my wrist where she hand gripped it, there were red mark there now in the perfect shape of her fingers. They would purple into bruises later I was sure.

“Now then, I don’t think we have much time before my security gets through that door.” Now that she mentioned it, the banging had gotten a lot louder, as if they were using something ram the bear-proof door. I had a minute, maybe more before they got in there and found me. My original plan had been to kill the vampire, knock Candice out and escape through a small hatch I knew was on the roof before blending in to the security again on my way out. But that plan was out the window now.

Candice stood straight, hands crossed in front of her and looked over at me with a amused look on my face. “I’m going to assume you’re one of the hunters I was told about and that you thought Harold was a vampire.” I nodded again. She gave a satisfied nod and looked down at Sangor, still passed out on the floor. “Can’t say I can’t see where you got that Idea from. He is a right bloodsucker and he does look the part, but sadly he is very much human. He fairly reeks of humanity. Although that might also be death, I’m still figuring out these new senses.” She gave a little sigh and nudged Sangor with her foots. He gave a little moan but showed no signs of getting up soon.

I shook my head, finally coming to my senses. “You’re a vampire!” I blurted out.

She looked at me, on perfectly sculpted eye brow arched. “Well yes, I thought that was obvious by now. Turned a couple weeks ago, bad night to go slumming for some good Greek food. Food I’ll never have again,” she sighed and leaned her head against one hand before continuing. “My campaign manager thought I should drop out of the race. I told him no of course. I was too close! I wasn’t going to let a little thing like being a vampire stop me from running for president. And before you ask all the blood I drink comes from blood banks, I’m never drunk from a human, nor do I plan to.”

“But you go outside! In the sun!” Just last week she had visited a children’s park for story time.

She gave a little smile. “Large hats and very good moisturizing sunscreen do amazing things.”

I could only stare at her in shock, much to my embarrassment. Never would I have thought she was a vampire. She seemed so… human.

“Now then, I can’t have you killing me, so why don’t I hire you instead? I could use a good bodyguard who could protect me from other hunters.” Her eyes became thoughtful and she tapped one finger against her bright red lips. “Yes, I think that would be an excellent plan.”

“I can’t work for you! I should kill you!” I sputtered trying to regain control of the situation.

“What? And let Harold win? You weren’t planning on voting for him were you?” She peered at me, her eyes intense. I looked away.

“Well no, of course not. Obviously.” I muttered. I shifted my feet and looked around, trying to find a way out of this mess. The room was sadly bare after being unused for most of winter.

“And do you have a plan on how you’re going to get out of here with out the many security men outside tackling you and putting you where you won’t see the sun for many many years? Almost like a vampire yourself?” She laughed at her little joke. Dammit, she was cute.

“Not yet but–”

“Then it’s settled. I’ll tell the men outside you were my undercover bodyguard and you managed to thwart off an assassination attempt by…” She pointed, “Johnson over there. He’s and ass and always staring at my tits.”

Before he could say anything she had moved to the door, unlatched it, and flung it wide open. “Coming?” She called back to me.

“I…guess?” I walked slowly towards the door, Candice was already explaining the fake story she had come up with, using quick tears to great effect while I stood behind her, still in shock. What the hell just happened?

Flash Fiction: Sidereal

For Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenge
 “Sidereal
1,056 words

The sky above me is bright with the light of the stars, their light gentle and cold on the snowy ground. The light guided my path, illuminating the trees around me, if I had left on a cloudy night I would have never found my way.

I pull my arms tighter around myself, my breath coming out in puffs of white. I wished the stars were kind enough to lend their heat as well, but the stars were cold and so was I.

The snow crunched under my feet. I cursed the recent snowfall that would show my path to any who might find it. Not that it would matter if they didn’t find me in time.

I fell into a kind of trance as I walked, trusting my feet to find their footing as my eyes watched the stars. It wouldn’t be long now I guessed.

All too soon, I reached the bottom of the witch kill, almost stumbling into it. I dropped my gaze to the small hill before me, a tiny hut perched on top like a crown. A light glowed in one of the windows like a guiding star, the barest traces of smoke curled form the chimney.

My sure feet found the path and I began my ascent up the hill. The stars gathered more closely here, arranged in a bright pool, bathing the little hut in their light.

When I reached the top, she was waiting for me. Standing in her doorway, the inviting light and warmth beckoning me behind me.

“I guessed you would come this night,” Her voice was quiet and had the harshness of one who has breathed in many winters.

“Then you know why I’ve come?” My own voice came out in a croak.

The witch nodded and turned towards the light. “Come, I have prepared tea, you must be frozen after walking so far.”

I hesitate on the doorstep, the dividing line between the cold light of the stars and the warm light of the witches fire. I was suddenly struck with doubts, was this the right thing to do?

I looked up at the stars again, and watched as they seemed to glow brighter than before. I took that as a sign and stepped into the small hut.

The warmth came over me like a wave and immediately sent pins and needles inot my fingers and toes.

The witch guided me to a chair neat the fire and pushed a mug of steaming tea sweetened with honey into my hands.

I sipped the hot liquid gratefully, feeling it’s warmth slowly spread.

I gazed around the small hut, it was more lavishly furnished than I had expected. A heavy trundle bed, it’s wood lovingly carved and painted with spring flowers took up one wall. Bundles of dried herbs hung from the ceiling, their earthy scent filling the room.

The sound of hooting drew my gaze up to the rafters where a pair of snowy white owns nested, their golden eyes watching us.

“They’re names are Marya and Houdin. They’ve been with me for a very long time.” The witch sank into a chair across from me, her old bones creaking with the effort.

I sipped my tea and studied the witch. I’d seen her before, when she would come into the village to trade for supplies.

She had always looked exactly the same, year after year ever since I was a young child. Old and ragged, like she could die at any time.

But here, in her hut under the stars, the witch seemed younger, stronger. Her white hair was pulled back in an intricate braid and she wore a finely woven shawl embroidered with roses.

And her eyes, I ‘d never seen such a pale blue, light a pair of twin stars shining from her face.

“So, she began when I had finished my tea, “you’ve lost someone close to you, yes?”

I nodded, clutching the empty mug, trying to absorb any lingering warmth.

“And so you’ve heart the stories, that I am and witch and I can do things?”

I nodded once more, feeling stronger now.

“And you have payment?”

I nodded a third time. I reached aching fingers into my fur coat, finding the small pocket hidden deep inside. I pulled out a small bag and set it in the witches outstretched hand.

She weighed the small bag thoughtfully. I held my breath and hoped the stories I had grown up with were true.

“Yes, this will do.” I let out my held breath with a soft sigh. The witch quickly hid away the small bag.

“Come now, we must do this quickly, dawn is already on it’s way.” The witch hustled about the hut, putting away the tea cups and trading her embroidered shawl for one lined with tiny silver bells that chimed as she moved.

I moved more slowly, my bones still not recovered from the hike to the witch.

Eventually the witch led me outside, back into the starlight.

She led me to a small clearing behind her hut. Standing stones, none higher than my waist, made a large circle.

The witch motioned for me to stand in the center of the circle.

“What was their name child?” The witches voice was clearer now, the years falling away.

“Geralt, Geralt Bloom.” I whispered the name of my husband, slain two months prior when warriors from another village attacked.

“Look up then and see him.” The witch pointed one long finger up to the stairs clustered over the hut.

“See how bright he shines for you.”

My eyes wide, I searched the stars. There, one star looked brighter than the rest, it’s light pulsing gently, like a heartbeat. I could feel tears streak down my cheeks, warm before freezing in the cold air.

“Keep your eyes on him.” The witch commanded. I didn’t even dare to blink.

The witch began to chant in a low hum, moving around the rings of stone, the bells on her shawl ringing in my eyes.

As she changed I could feel myself getting lighter, the starts growing larger and brighter until they were all I could see.

I couldn’t hear the witches bells anymore. Nor was I cold. I was warm, finally warm with my Geralt at my side.

Stars aren’t cold after all.

Flash Fiction: The Deal

For Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenge
 “The Deal
2,054 words

“Who are you?”

A shadow stalks around her. The only light coming from the burning ember of a cigarette hanging from where the shadows mouth should be.

“I’m the one who’s going to change your fate”

“Why you?” She gulped in the darkness. She would have thought she would be cold in the darkness, but instead she was warm, too warm. Sweat trickled down her cheek.

“Why me? Why not me?” A chair squeals across the floor, sending echoes ringing. The shadow seemed to drop into it. The cigarette bobbles in the darkness. “Because this is what I do, my job, so to speak. A job I have been doing for a very, very long time.”

She heard a sound, like a deep drawing of breath, the cigarette ember glowing brighter. She could just make out a form behind the cigarette. The shadow blew out the smoke, sending it billowing out around her. The smoke smelled strangely sweet.

Suddenly a bright light shot down in a spot light around her.

She cried out and threw an arm over her eyes.

Sorry about that,” came the shadows voice.

Slowly her eyes adjusted to the bright light. She was in a pool of light extending a few feet out from her chair, the rest of the room was still in total darkness.

Movement across from her, the shadow leaned forward, coming into the light just enough to reveal red eyes, red hair and the face of a young woman.

“Now then, why don’t you start at the beginning?”

The beginning? She thought back over the past couple weeks, to the blood, the sweat, the pain.

It all began at the fighting club, she decided. She needed the money to pay her brothers debt and it was the fastest way she know to get cash. She had fought. She had been good, very good. She made enough to cover her brothers debts and then some. But then she got greedy.

She found herself pouring the whole story out to this shadow woman. The metal chair becoming slick with sweat under her. She couldn’t look away from the shadow woman’s eyes. They were red, a deep red, the color of the red stones, garnets, her pupils were lit with a fire. Maybe the heat in the room was coming from her eyes, the shone so bright.

She spoke about how she made the fight master make the battles harder, the stakes higher. And she kept winning. Until her last fight.

The fight club had one rule.

Her opponent was huge, easily twice her size. What’s more, he knew how to use his size, and how to push her buttons.

Do not kill.

He had said something, she didn’t even know what it was anymore. She just remembered the white hot rage. When she came too he was dead. His throat smashed into meat.

The crowds were silent, until they began to scream with rage. All knew the rule, all kept the rule, until she broke it.

She ran then, breaking the lock on the fighting cage and taking off through the crowd, hands trying to grab on to her, her shirt tore, She lost some hair too probably. There were gunshots as well, pain. She gripped her arm where it throbbed dully with pain where a bullet had grazed her. It was clean and bandaged now. When did that happen?

She faltered, what happened next? Shew couldn’t remember, just running and then darkness, and warmth. And then she woke up in the chair.

She opened her eyes as her voice faded. Her gaze dropped to her hands where they lay curled in her lap. The knuckles cut and bruised from fighting. But the blood, Gerik’s blood, was gone. Washed away without her knowing.

“Hmmm…” The shadow woman leaned back in her chair, cigarette perched between two fingers. She was all in black, black business suit, black gloves, black shirt.

She lifted her gaze to the woman. There, a tiny spot of color among the black. A round jewel that glimmered like ice, changing colors from blue, to purple, to white, hung surrounded by what looked like a large heavy chain link.

“Do you know who owned that fight club who’s rule you broke?”

Her gaze snapped back up to meet the shadow woman’s. Her face was neutral.

“I don’t know, some underground boss I think.” The shadow woman’s gaze intensified, as if she was looking into her soul. She was burning under that gaze, she could die under that gaze.

And just like that the flames were banked and she could look away, gasping for air. She hadn’t realized she had been holding her breath.

She carefully looked back at the woman and flinched, the shadow woman was smiling now, a soft smile, interest and something else shimmering in those eyes.

“My name is Myris Black, I own the club you fought in.”

She gripped the sides of the chair and gulped. She knew that name. Myris Black owned half of the Seattle underground. She was very good at what she did and was also very secretive. NO one had seen her face and lived to tell about it.

“Are you going to kill me?” she whispered, her voice shaking.

Myris laughed, it was a sharp laugh that snapped and echoed through the room. The woman leaned forward.

Her eyes noticed the cigarette still dangling from Myris’ hand. Despite the time she was sure was passing, the cigarette hadn’t burned down any farther.

“Well, that is up to you. You see, I have no killing rule for an important reason. I don’t like killing. It’s a waste and most often unnecessary. In that mind, I would rather not kill you if I don’t have to. So, like I told you in the beginning, I am going to decided your fate. I want you to work for me, Danica Wynn Henry.”

“Wait what?” She couldn’t have heard right. Did Myris Black just offer her a job? The sweat chilled on her skin, was it suddenly cooler in the room?

Myris took a deep drag of her cigarette, the embers climbing down the shaft, climbing almost to her lips. The smoke she blew out had that same sweet scent as before. She snapped her fingers and suddenly the rest of the lights in the room came on, chasing away the shadows. She was in a small room. The walls were covered in some dark wood, the same wood that covered the floor. There were no windows but she could see a large heavy door behind the shadow woman. She couldn’t help but keep calling her that, it seemed, fitting. Even in the light.

“I want you to work for me. There are some odd jobs I would like you to handle for me. I don’t get out much otherwise I would handle them myself. I will, of course, pay you well for your services.”

“You want me to be a assassin?” She mumbled incredulously.

Myris raised an eyebrow. “No, nothing I ask you to do would be morally wrong. Illegal yes. So what do you say Miss Henry?”

“Just Wynn works.” She heard herself say. Her brain was having troubles figuring out just what was going on. “Why would you offer me a job?” She asked finally.

The shadow woman rested her elbows on her knees and her chin on her clasped hands. Where did the cigarette go? She look at the ground but saw no abandoned butt.

“I have several reasons why I want to hire you. 1, you’re a very good fighter. I watched most of your fights. Your strength in particular is most impressive. 2, your reasons for fighting were noble. Trying to pay off your brothers debts. I liked that.” Myris cocked her head. “Despite what happened after you paid your brothers debts. 3, like I said before I don’t like killing because it is unnecessary, and wasteful. I think you could be very useful to me. You’re less useful dead.”

“How do you know I won’t betray you? Go to the cops with what you look like? They might reward me for that. And how do I know you won’t just kill me later? Or use me to do horrible things? I’ve heard the stories about you.” She was halfway out of the chair by now, her eyes flicking to the door behind the other woman. Was it locked? She might be able to break it down.

“Somehow I don’t think you’ll go to the police, not with a warrant out for your arrest, there were many angry witnesses at the club. But I can make that go away.”

“You have connections in the police?”

“Obviously. I wouldn’t be much of a ‘underground boss’ if I didn’t.”

She shifted in her chair. “And the other part? About asking me to do things I wouldn’t want to do?”

Myris smiled, an amused smile. “You’ll just have to trust me that I won’t. So, do we have a deal?”

“I don’t have much of a choice do I?” She clasped her hands together tightly, tight enough to make the cuts on her knuckles split open. She focused on the pain.

“You do have a choice. I did offer you one.”

“Oh yeah, working for you or death, that’s a great couple choices there.” Wynn snorted and clenched her arms around her body. There was no choice, she thought to herself angrily.

Myris shrugged. “A choice is still a choice. I know some who would choose death over working for me.”

“Then I guess I say yes.” She felt defeated. All she wanted to do was pay off her brother’s debts. How could it come to this?

“I had a hunch you might. Now take my hand and we can seal the deal.” The shadow woman removed one of her gloves, revealing a oddly dainty white hand. She held it out to Wynn.

Wynn stared at the small hand, the nails perfectly manicured, the hand perfectly still. She felt silly to feel so threatened by a hand like that. But she was.

She reach out her own scarred and now bleeding hand and grasped the shadow woman’s hand. The shadow woman squeezed and she felt a burst of heat that ran from her head to her toes. She snatched her hand back as soon as she could. She stared at her hand, there was no burn. There wasn’t any blood either.

“What was that?” She whispered as she turned over her hand. The cuts were still there, the bruises too. But the cuts were closed again, all trace of blood gone.

“That was me putting my mark on you.” said the shadow woman as she pulled her glove back on. “No need to worry, it isn’t a physical one. But it will all me to find you easily and act as a warning to others who can see it.”

“Your mark? Like some kinda brand?” Like she owns me, Wynn thought to herself.

“Not a brand, you are person, not cattle. Like of it like you’re wearing an invisible uniform shirt.” Myris stood and straightened her jacket.

“One I can’t take off,” she muttered under her breath. She stared at her hand again, she look up at Myris, the other woman stood behind the other chair, back straight, hands clasped behind her back. She seemed to be studying Wynn. “What are you?” she said softly. Myris smiled, that soft, and intense smile.

“I don’t think you’re quite ready for that yet. I’ll be leaving now, I have other matters to attend to, outside this room you’ll find a driver, Tomas. He will take you where ever you need to go, he has a package for you, take it.”

Wynn grunted and slowly stood up, surprised her muscles didn’t scream at her.

“I will see you again Wynn. I look forward to our partnership.” Myris Black left the small room, a room that suddenly became very cold.

Wynn left the room slowly, Myris was gone when she came out into a hallway. A man stood next to the door, Tomas she guessed. He held a package in his hands.

“Welcome.” He nodded.

“Take me home please?” she said in a weak voice. She need a still drink. Or five.


Life Update

So technically I have two blogs through wordpress. This one was intended just for my fiction and another for my general blog posts. But then I realized that was a silly idea. So I’m going to forget about my other blog (jakbebop) and instead just post to this one.

So then, this is an update to this post about my new years resolutions.

Now that we are almost three months into the year, and about a month and a half since I made my goals I thought I would post an update as to how my goals were going. So, without further adieu :

Goal 1: To Read More

My goal for this year is to read 35 books, lower than last years goal of 50 (which I didn’t make). So far I’ve read 10 books this year, which puts me 4 books head of schedule according to goodreads.

The books I’ve read are:

  • The Dragon’s Path by Daniel Abraham
  • Theft of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan
  • Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson
  • Rise of Empire by Michael J. Sullivan
  • Heir of Novron by Michael J. Sullivan
  • Iron & Blood by Gail Z Martin
  • Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer
  • Melting Stones by Tamora Pierce
  • The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan
  • Battle Magic by Tamora Pierce

So far I’m off to a really good start, but then again I always read more in the beginning of the year. My to-read stack is still pretty large, but there’s also Dragon Quest VIII. So hopefully I’ll keep it up. There are a lot of books I really want to read.

Goal 2:  To Write More

My goal for this was to write 500 words a week. And while I’m not sure if I’ve actually hit 500 words a week, I have been writing every week. I’ve managed three new short stories through Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenges. I’ve also written up the beginnings of another story that I haven’t posted online. Plus I’ve written up a couple of old story ideas. Getting them out of my old notebook and into my Evernote account. So that counts right? Either way, I’ve written a lot more in the past two months than I have… since ever I think. Outside of NaNoWriMo. It’s becoming a habit, wanting to write and actually going out and doing it, rather than thinking about it. And that…makes me really happy. And with everything else going on, I need that.

Goal 3: Bake More

This has been going pretty well. I’ve almost mastered Merry Berry’s Lemon Drizzle Cake which makes me very excited. And I made a recipe that’s been sitting in my queue for a long time, Chewy Honey Cookies. Oh man, they were so good! Like a cross between a sugar cookie and a shortbread cookie but with the flavor of honey. I could not stop eating them. Makes me really glad I can bring most of this stuff to my DnD group and have them eat it, otherwise I would put on so much weight!

I also made the best biscuits of my life for breakfast one week. They were perfectly flaky and soft and buttery. The layers! I wish I had taken a picture of them. The layers were so beautiful.

A couple other things I made didn’t turn out as great, but they were learning experiences so I’ll count that as a win.


 

So in Conclusion: I’m doing pretty well, I think. But the beginning is the easy part. Following through is the hard part. I’ll post more updates as the year continues.

 

Flash Fiction: The Wellspring

For Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenge
“The Wellspring”
Doing a good thing sometimes means being evil
775 words, a little short but I didn’t feel like it needed to be longer

 

She was going to be damned for this.

People would curse her name for this.

Nevertheless she persisted.

Her fingers ached where they gripped the rock, bleeding where slivers of rock cut into them. Still she climbed.

The wind threatened to pull her from the cliff face, she gripped harder.

She looked above her, the top was close, it wouldn’t be long now. Her mind was blank, focused on putting one hand above the other. And avoiding what she was about to do.

After what seemed an eternity, she reached the top. The wind was weaker here, ad if it realized there would be no stopping her.

Her eyes grew large with wonder as she gazed upon the scene before her. Where the cliff and the hills surrounding it were dirt covered and barren, the top was teeming with life.

Greenery filled her vision. Flowers, bushes, fruit trees of every kind fought for space; growing around each other and even through each other. The air was scented with the perfume of hundreds of flowers.

And the power, it thrummed against her skin. she gulped and felt her knees go weak. What it would be to lay down and simply bask in the pure power that was the wellspring. The Source of magic.

A loud boom broke her from her trance. She looked behind, back to the lights she had come from. The bright colors of another magic powered explosion spread across the sky. They seemed small and dim from so far away. Dull compared to the green surrounding the riot of color surrounding the wellspring.

Her hand reached fro the small packet inside her coat pocket. So small, seemingly benign. But she knew the destruction it would create.

She walked into the greenery, her palms sweaty.

The leaves and wines seemed to caress her, welcome her into their domain, unaware of her task. The greenery should have a talk with the wind.

She didn’t have far to walk, which was good, her legs already shook with exhaustion from the hike and then the climb.

There it was, it was smaller than she thought it would be. No more than three feet across. Closer to a puddle. It’s waters shimmered in a rainbow of colors, it glowed slightly.

Small mushrooms grew around it’s edges. Vibrant in colors nature never intended  Infected by the magic of the wellspring.

She knelt by the waters edge, careful not to smash any of the mushrooms.

She reached a hand out, over the water. Tendrils of magic smoke rose up from the water, twisting towards her fingers. Just as it was about to reach her she snatched her hand away, afraid of what would happen if the smoke touched her.

She licked dry lips and reached a shaking hand into her pocket and pulled out the tiny packet of powder. Powder made from the heart of a murdered person. She tried not to think about who had to die to make this powder.

She stared down at the packet and thought of the words her brother hand told her before she left on the mission.

“Doing a good thing sometimes being evil Evvy,” He had said. His voice had been sad, but sure.

“Are we doing a good thing?” I had asked.

“This is the most good thing. People will die, yes. Lots of people. But the wars will stop. They have to, once there is nothing left to fight for. And that will save so many more people.”

“Yes brother.”

I closed by eyes, unwilling to think about what happened next. His soft sigh as her knife slid into his neck.

The water ripped as her tears fell, changing colors, from deep red, to blue, to green.

She would not fail her brother, her world.

Before she could think, she flicked the paper open and scattered the powder over the surface of the pool.

The effect was immediate  The bright colors disappeared in an instant, the water turning black and beginning to bubble.

The mushrooms crumbled and turned to dust ad the blackness, the death reached them.

All around her a ring of death grew. Leaves turned black and shrived as the magic sustaining them died. Fruit rotted and dropped to the ground in wet plops. Trees crashed over, their trucks rotted through.

The perfume of flowers turned into the stench of decay.

The death would spread, traveling from the wellspring down into all of the le lines converged under it. In less than a day all the magic int he world would be dead. And with it the wars that had plagued the world for centuries.

So she hoped.