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This blog contains short stories and novel excerpts intended for adult audiences.

Most of the images on this blog are PG13, but occasionally there is a picture on a specific post that might be more sensual in nature.

The stories are primarily science fiction and/or romance and may have sexual themes and scenes.

Saint George and the Kraken

Saint George

I wrote this to go with Wendy Strain’s WOW555 Challenge to give us an action scene as told from the perspective of your villain. The idea is that we can fit the prompt around our NaNoWriMo (Which starts at midnight tonight!) story. I don’t usually write from the villain’s POV because I don’t often have a clear villain. But my steampunk stories do have villains…of sorts…

This scene won’t be in the novel as-is. It might not be in the novel at all. It does take place, but I might write it as an intentionally deleted scene, and only allude to this event (there are many similar) in the finished story.

Saint George and the Kraken

Saint George slithered into one of the tunnels that was much too small for the humans to follow him. He could escape…his way was clear. But that would leave the two would-be heroes to wreak even more havoc than they already had. These two were more tenacious than most, and quite clever. He had no idea how they’d gotten into the lair, but he had to get them out.

Or…

Saint George climbed up and around until he could look down on them. The woman was standing in front of the panel that controlled the merfolk’s prison doors. The man stood behind her, obviously a subordinate. Every once in a while, his hand would float towards the levers and buttons, as if he couldn’t resist touching them. She slapped his fingers repeatedly. Although he looked chagrinned, his hand returned again and again, driven by a compulsion Saint George knew all too well.

Maybe she would open the cages. Saint George had no idea what the merfolk would do if she did. They might regard her as their savior, or they might attack out of habit. That was what they were trained to do, after all. But if she did open the cages, there would be hell to pay when the good doctor found out.

He had to get rid of them. He might be able to beat one of them in a fair fight, but they had weapons that were far superior to his enhanced claws.

He flicked his tongue. Tension was in the air.

Saint George found a spot where the water was dripping, making the rock slippery, and dropped to the floor only a few meters away from them. Quickly, but not too quickly, he ran down towards the water, slipping and slithering whenever the floor was wet enough to let him slide.

“There he is!” the man said. As planned, they both took off after him.

Saint George’s familiarity with the maze of tunnels allowed him to stay ahead. He heard an ‘oof’ and glanced back to see that the man had slipped and fallen, but the woman was still hot on his heels.

He reached the edge of the pool and slipped into the water. There he lurked in the shadows, watching.

“Damn it, he gave us the slip again,” the woman said, standing at the water’s edge. “Westley…Westley?”

The woman glanced back along the way they’d come. Her male companion was still up on the balcony about thirty meters above the water, right by the big red lever.

“Westley…NO!” the woman screamed, but it was too late. His hand shook as he reached out, grasping the lever labeled ‘PULL TO RELEASE KRAKEN’. The sound of grating metal echoed off the walls. The poor fools had no idea what direction the sound was coming from, but Saint George knew.

The woman was already running back up the way she’d come, muttering curses he couldn’t quite interpret.

Saint George quickly made himself scarce.

The merfolk might be unpredictable, but he knew exactly what the kraken would do.

Moon Dragons release announcement

Lunar Chart NASA with citiesUnder Loch and Key is the blog I use to share bits of fiction…either samples of my own stories, or flash fiction/blog hops.

I haven’t been posting much lately, but that’s for a good reason! I have signed with Distinguished Press to publish a collection of short stories titled “The Cities of Luna” and I will continue to publish a short story every full moon.

If you’re interested the details of my current life-in-writing, please visit my writerly blog The Inverness Press.

I will continue to share bit of fiction here Under Loch and Key; it just won’t be as frequent as it used to be.

Thanks for visiting!

The Shadow

Today’s story is a guest post by a writer with a long, bright future ahead of her. She’s only six and a half years old, and this is her first published work. As a mother, I couldn’t be more proud!

 

Rhiannan shadow 01The Shadow by Rhiannan

Rhiannan shadow 02The Shadow

Rhiannan shadow 03Once upon a time there was a poor man. He met a nice woman. He wanted to buy one hundred things.

Rhiannan shadow 04But…he was a ghost! Dun dun DUN!

Rhiannan shadow 05Woman: “Ahhhhhhhhhh!”

He was scary! He was terrifying!

The End

 

 

What She Wished For

Model John Quinlan as Brendt.

Model John Quinlan as Brendt.

Marjorie didn’t want to go down the stairs.

He was there.

He was what she’d wished for, what she’d told her parents over and over again she wanted. He was what she’d bragged to her friends at school about.

She never, not once in a million years, thought he’d actually show up.

Brendt wasn’t wearing a tuxedo, but his suit was sharp and his shirt matched the blue flowers in the dress mom had found at the vintage clothing store. It wasn’t a real Prom dress, but she loved it.

The dress was just one in a long list of challenges she’d overcome in her quest for Prom.

First, there were the understated murmurings of “Special Needs kids shouldn’t go to the normal kids’ Prom.”

Second, the cost of the tickets which, although not terribly expensive, were more than she’d usually ask her parents for.

Third, the fact that Prom was going to be at a fancy hotel in the city, twenty minutes away, and Dad needed the only car for work that night.

Brendt drove a Corvette, and it was a convertible. Marjorie had watched from her parents’ bedroom window as he arrived. She’d heard the other kids bragging about renting limos or borrowing their parents’ cars. She wondered what they’d think when she arrived in the sports car, escorted by a gorgeous man fifteen years older than the graduating seniors.

Brendt looked up. Marjorie froze. It had been five years since he’d seen her. Would he recognize her?

Did he still love her?

Brendt’s face gradually softened, and his mouth curved just barely into a smile.

“Wow,” he said. Their mother was standing behind him, going through an entire box of tissues and trying unsuccessfully to hide her sniffles and sobs. “Little sis, you are all grown up!”

Marjorie looked down at her feet. She was wearing high heels for the first time, and they weren’t as easy to walk in as she’d thought.

But it didn’t matter. Because no matter how unsteady she felt, no matter what the other kids might say about her, her big brother had come home.

Because it was what she’d wished for.

I first used John‘s picture back in 2011 for a story called Postcard. At that time, he was just a gorgeous guy with photos attached to a creative commons license on Wikimedia Commons. Then he contacted me, I interviewed him, and we became friends. I eventually used him for several others, including my serial SciFi Synaesthesia. Later, he teamed up with Claudia McKinney of Phatpuppy Art to create some fantastic cover art for authors to purchase. I don’t have a novel published yet, but both John and Claudia graciously let me use a low-res copy of Siren Song to mock up a cover for my 2013 3-Day-Novel story Siren’s Web.

This Saturday, John will be in my area for the NPC (National Physique Commitee) Vermont Championships. Maybe we’ll finally get to meet in person!

Someone Else’s Wedding

It was someone else’s wedding.

It was always someone else’s wedding.

But this one was different. Not just because the bride and groom were combining several faith-traditions into a ceremony that made them both happy, but because this time, Beth was not alone.

It was a brief, beautiful ceremony, in a picnic shelter at the park, followed by a reception in the same shelter. After going through the line of pot-luck dishes the friends had all brought, Beth found Fredrick over in the corner. She leaned against him, comfortable in that stance even though there were still several seats left on the picnic benches.

It was a new… she hesitated to call it love. Love was special. Love was enduring. Love was something you said to someone who meant something more than a passing friendship.

She’d never said it to him, even though he’d said it to her.

He’d taken all the risks in the relationship. He’d asked her out. He’d kissed her…although he chose a time when their friends’ kids were climbing all over them so that, if he was wrong, Beth couldn’t slap him.

He wasn’t wrong.

But a kiss has to be mutual. Saying “I love you” does not. Fredrick had said the words to her, and it weighed on her that she refused to say them back.

Then she watched the bride and groom. They were happy. They were really, and truly happy.

She could be happy too.

Beth turned in Fredrick’s arms, and looked up into his eyes. “I love you,” she said softly, and at first he seemed not to believe his ears.

Then he said it back. “I love you too.”

Their kiss was somewhat inappropriate for an afternoon in the park between two people who were not the bride and groom. It prompted all their friends to cheerfully catcall “Get a room!”

That kiss, and that “I love you” were repeated many times through the years.

And now, twenty years later, the kisses and endearments mean everything and more.

Engagement PhotoThis one is memoir. Yes, I kinda changed the names…

Today is hubby’s and my 19th anniversary. It’s been almost twenty years since that first “I love you” and I expect to have twenty more twice over again and then some.

Apophenia

Jacobs_Dream_James_TissotStatic.

Clarice listened. It was there. She had faith it was there.

Of course, faith was something that, as a scientist, she hid from the world. No one would take her seriously if she admitted that, sometimes, the reason she found the missing puzzle piece or the reason she leaped from a point of stability to a point of chaos that turned out to be a serendipitous insight into a whole new path of discovery was, simply, faith.

Bum dada bum, bum, bum… Bum dada bum, bum, bum…

The voice was not in the static. The voice was Apophenia. At least, that’s what she called herself…

It was an odd name, but Apophenia was an odd creature. Non-corporeal, like an angel or demon. Not that Clarice believed in angels or demons…

You should believe in angels and demons. They’re just not what you think they are, Apophenia said, her voice like wind-chimes in Clarice’s mind.

“Really?” Clarice spoke out loud, heavy with sarcasm. “Care to enlighten me?”

It amused Apophenia to be acknowledged in such a way. She hugged her Beloved host. Sure! she said, then shared her vision.

Clarice’s jaw dropped. The bum dada bum, bum bum in her head suddenly made sense as she saw the glowing creatures ascending and descending a ladder…no…it wasn’t a ladder…that wasn’t the right word. For one thing, they weren’t going up, they were going further. Not farther, but further. And they weren’t creatures…they were…

Clarice had no words. She was torn between the utter clarity she was experiencing as the sounds, vision, and a synaesthetic sense she could not harness battled with her sense of reason that strove to put her experience into terms that she could understand. Terms she could communicate to the scientific community.

No words.

No evidence.

Nothing to cite, nothing to reference.

But perfect clarity.

Clarice was at once blessed and cursed. Apophenia covered Clarice’s eyes again. The symbiote danced around her host, bobbing up and down, worried that she had gone too far.

Clarice? Clarice? I’m sorry…you weren’t ready? Was it too much?

Clarice shook her head. “Oh…it was too much. It was too much…” she gazed off where the vision had been, trying to capture it again. She listened to the static, but even the bum dada bum, bum, bum was lost to her. “But it was wonderful!”

Clarice had never before used the term ‘wonderful’ in it’s truest sense. What she’d experienced was full of wonder. It was far more than a synonym for ‘good.’ It carried with it the essence of astonishment, of rapture.

Rapture. Was that what it meant? Clarice walked to where she had seen the creatures ascending and descending the ladder. She discarded her headphones, straining with every human sense to discover again what she’d seen. She closed her eyes, like Luke did at the end of A New Hope, trying to access her Jedi powers. She opened her eyes, channeling how Cumberbatch’s version of Sherlock would approach the puzzle. She looked behind her, thinking she heard the groans of a TARDIS landing and wishing a raggedy man with a bow-tie and fez would step out and enlighten her.

She prayed. She spoke to God in earnest, without any insincere apologies for her very human doubt.

I don’t think it’s time yet, said Apophenia.

“Let me see it again! If I could only see it again…”

Apophenia stroked her hair and patted her back. We’ll have a nice dream time together tonight. I can show you more when you’re asleep. I’m sorry Clarice, I’m sorry I showed you before you were ready…

“I’m ready! I can handle this! Please!”

Apophenia yawned. Clarice yawned to, unable to help herself.

You’ve been working for almost fourteen hours now.

“I have been working a lot…”

We should go home.

“I really should go home.”

So they went home. And they dreamed. And Clarice understood.

Until she awoke again to unreasonable reason.

I had to write this story because this week’s episode of Mind Games  (Starring Christian Slater) uses Apophenia to help heal a relationship between a father and son. I’ve been out of the writing habit for a couple of weeks because I was sick and then I had to put my energy into making up other life commitments. My short story The Genesis of the Incorporeum appears in the Garden of Eden anthology from Garden Gnome Publications, and I need to finish my story The Remorse of the Incorporeum to submit to the next anthology. Apophenia is an incorporeum…a non-corporeal creature who lives symbiotically and benevolently with multiple human hosts throughout time. This story is a good warm-up to get back into the swing of things.

I’m looking for some con-crit though…

Did I overdo the ellipses? Or were they appropriate for my voice? (As an author…not the voice of Apophenia!)

Is the POV too vague? Does it feel like head-hopping? I thought I could get away with it since both characters are sort-of in the same head.

Purpose

Photo courtesy of Unsplash

Photo courtesy of Unsplash

They were there on purpose. But whether they were placed there or left there was unknown. Had there once been a forest of trees, these few left simply for…for what? Or had it always been a grassy plain, with these dozen trees carefully tended until they could survive on their own?

It had been a long walk to find the place. The journey was made longer because she had no idea where the end was, or how far the journey would be.

The sky was monochrome. She couldn’t tell if it was consistently overcast, or if it was clear and this was simply the color of the sky in this place.

The air was thin. It had been uphill, all the way, even to the bitter end.

The trees marked the horizon perfectly. The trunks met the ground precisely where the ground met the sky. It must be some kind of optical illusion, because they stayed that way even when she was finally among them. She looked to the right. The line of trees met the horizon. She looked to the left and saw the same. No sea, no vast landscape, no gently sloping path leading her down into the next…

There was nothing. She looked back the way she had come. It was open to her, yet there was no going back. That was the path she had taken. It was not meant to be retraced. It was not meant to be regretted.

Ahead of her, the unknown. The undefined.

And so she leapt.

With purpose.

This story was written for the Write On Edge week 10 prompt that was the picture. I ignored the quote. It did not speak to me.

This one turned out much more poetic than most of my stuff, but it intrigues me… what do you think?

Concrit is welcome!

 

Real

Melissa Surreal

They weren’t real.

Not yet, anyway…

Lissa nurtured the tiny beings, shaping their lives, balancing their needs, their wants, their desires with what was plausible.

She had not created a fairyland.

Not this time…

A thousand years earlier, she had created a fairyland…a place with magic and dragons and wishes that came true…

A place that did not stand the test of time.

A place where the threads of reality were hopelessly frayed, the paradox of its very existence tearing apart the world from within.

Having created that fairyland, though it failed, it had given her a new possibility. New tools to make something…not better. Nothing was better than the world she’d loved and lived in for a millennia. To make something… stable. Lasting. Self perpetuating.

It was safe.

Lissa scried, spying on her creation. She desperately wanted all to be right in their world, but that was simply not possible.

All was right in the fairyland… a thousand years ago. Then it frayed.

Her new world could not fray. She imbued it with permanence.

She gave them free will.

She laughed at the irony that her creation did not believe she existed. For soon, she would not.

Lissa reached out to her little ones, her beloveds, those she had created. Those she had allowed to suffer and overcome and rejoice and do it all over again a million times.

These…she would make real.

The light from the scrying glass lit her face.

She was glad they did not believe in her.

She did not want them to mourn her.

Slowly, she gave herself to them.

She exchanged her own reality for theirs, until she herself was nothing but a fable, a character to live on in legend, as fiction.

And they lived on.

This story was totally inspired by the picture. My friend Melissa recently posted it on facebook, even though it’s a couple of years old now.

Melissa is a true writer’s friend. In particular, every once in a while I have a weird question that requires some research, and she jumps on it, searching out weird facts for me to weave into my stories.

Thanks Melissa!

WWHBThis story isn’t related to any others I’ve done, but Lissa reminds me somewhat of Jane, the sorceress in What Would Have Been, the serial I posted on the blog back in 2012.

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Rozloučení

Schar Dress LunaScharona wasn’t sure what to wear. In the end she chose a soft, somber dress. It let her show a lot of cleavage and hid some of the extra curvature she’d accumulated since moving into government housing. Besides, it had been sitting in her closet for six months with the tags still on it. She’d explained to her mother she didn’t really need dresses, she just needed navy blue pants to go with her work shirts. The rest of her life could be spent in sweats or pajamas. But Mama’nica insisted. Her daughter was going to have a few nice things, even if she was embarrassingly poor.

Scharona had never had a rozloučení. Then again, she’d never had a relationship that warranted a parting ceremony. The closest she’d come was when she ditched final exams to spend the weekend with Kevin, stupidly thinking he was going to propose. He was…to someone else. Or rather, they proposed to him shortly thereafter. But Kevin hadn’t called that last weekend together a rozloučení. The ceremony was only for people who were in a real relationship. Whatever they had didn’t count.

Scharona didn’t think the relationship she had with the other rozloučení guests counted either. She was definitely part of the group…or rather, the two groups. She was somewhere in the middle. The purpose of the rozloučení was for the two groups to separate amicably, letting each other know that they were still cherished, but that they had chosen to go this way or that way.

Scharona had no idea whether she was going ‘this’ way or ‘that’ way. She didn’t particularly care, either. Since discovering that she’d never actually had a relationship with Kevin, she’d been trying to get on with her life, both professionally (since she’d screwed up college after ditching her final exams then spending a semester wallowing in self pity) and personally.

Technically speaking, ‘this’ way was with Dade, and ‘that’ way was with Lorenzo. Scharona had never actually been on a date with Lorenzo…unless she counted the times they all sat around the Step-Up house’s common room and watched old movies. She’d been on a couple of group dates that included Dade, but mostly because Jamie brought her along.

Scharona had been fastidious about preparing for the ceremony. Some of her friends had been talking about the possibility of making love one last time before they parted. Of course, that wasn’t unusual for a rozloučení, especially for one where a large group was splitting into two smaller groups. But Scharona hadn’t had sex with any of them. She hadn’t had sex at all since Kevin left her. Or, rather, since Kevin decided to no longer occasionally give her a booty call, because he was getting serious with another group, and there was no place for her there.

There was a certain irony that a rozloučení might mean her first sexual encounter with her boyfriends and girlfriends, not her last. Hopefully, no one would mention it. She was a considerate lover. She had a lot to offer. This rozloučení was going to be the start of something wonderful, she just knew it. Which kind of wonderful, she wasn’t sure. But it would be wonderful either way.

Scharona took the transit to the Companion House they’d booked for the rozloučení. She was greeted by a professional hostess who kindly kept her company for a half hour since she was the first to arrive. The others trickled in, each greeting her and the others with a kiss and embrace. Seleste was crying already. Scharona wasn’t sure which way she was choosing. They rozloučení had been planned a month ago. That gave everyone time to think and talk about which way they wanted to go, and deliberate “if so-and-so is going ‘that’ way, so am I” or “whichever way he goes, I’ll go the other.”

When they were all present, the hostess gave a lovely speech about parting ways and appreciating the love that was shared along one’s journey. Seleste wasn’t the only one crying. A duo of guitarists began to play, and the hostess handed out a dozen or so delicate floral strands to each of them. “As you say your parting words, give your cariad a strand as a token of your continued respect and deep regard,” the hostess explained. Scharona took hers and tried not to make eye contact with anyone. She didn’t really want to leave any of them.

They all stood, and the mingling began. Scharona wiped away a tear, seeing how emotional some of them were getting. Three of them broke off from the group and went over to an alcove. Soon they were cooing and kissing and, Scharona expected, much more.

She felt a hand on her shoulder and turned. Damian smiled at her and placed a strand of delicate purple blooms around her neck. “Scharona, you are a sweet and loving person. I will miss you, and I hope that when we do see each other, you will greet me as a friend.”

“Thank you Damian,” she said, hugging him. “Of course I will always think of you as a friend.” She placed a strand around his neck and kissed him goodbye.

So it was decided. Her first goodbye. She was fond of Damian, but didn’t feel any particular connection to him. It would be easy to stay friends. The problem was, she didn’t know whether he was going ‘this’ way or ‘that’ way.

She mingled through the room. Everyone else seemed to be hugging or talking. Another couple had retreated to an alcove, leaving no doubt as to what manner of goodbye they were enjoying. Scharona watched for just a minute. She’d seen other people make love before; the bonfire tradition the counselors had at camp was to divide up for some amorous recreation for the night. But this was more intimate, and more meaningful. This was two lovers saying goodbye for the last time.

Scharona looked up to see Eloisa approaching her, her eyes red with tears. She was already holding up a strand of flowers. They each said a few words, exchanged strands, and kissed each other goodbye.

Eloisa went to Lorenzo, clinging to him but not saying goodbye. That didn’t surprise Sharona. She’d been pretty sure Eloisa would stay with Lorenzo.

That put her into Dade’s group. Scharona brightened, and took a deep breath. She liked Dade. He was the kind of guy who was sweet to everyone. He was also the choice of Jamie, who was the one person Scharona was closest to in the group.

Jamie, who was currently flat on her back with her legs in the air.

Scharona knew that most of the others had been lovers, but she didn’t realize just…to what extent that relationship went. She’d thought that there had been a few random pairings and trios etcetera, but not the close, intimate, extended entanglement it seemed to be.

Scharona exchanged a few more strands and said her goodbyes, then counted the flowers around her neck. She had eight…and there were fifteen people in the room, including her. She wondered if someone in Dade’s group had given her a strand by mistake. That would be awkward, but they could laugh about it later.

Two more friends gave her strands. She mumbled something appropriate with each, then surreptitiously removed a few strands from her neck and returned them to her hand. Maybe no one would notice, but it seemed somehow wrong that she have ten strands when there were only fourteen other people to give them to her.

Scharona was glad that so many others were crying. Tears were welling up in her eyes as she realized what was happening. Unless the groups were splitting into three…not just two.

Hopefully, she cast her eyes around the room. Only a few people were still exchanging strands. One entanglement that looked like four people was buried in a pile of cushions in an alcove.

She felt a hand on her back and turned. Dade and Osima. They each placed a strand around her neck and embraced her together. Tears streaked her makeup down her face, and Osima handed her a box of tissues, helping her to clean her cheeks. Osima had a sweet, melancholy smile, but there was nothing in her expression that showed she held any particular affection for Scharona. Osima was just being kind.

Scharona glanced around nervously. A few people were already gathering coats, and there seemed to be two distinct groups forming in the room. She was part of neither, and there were only two strands left.

Lorenzo embraced her, hugging her hard and long. “You, Scharona, I think I will miss most of all!” The sincerity in his voice was insulting, but the others looked on, some of them embracing her again and saying goodbye.

Jamie hadn’t even bothered to put her clothes back on after her sexual performance. She wore her flowers naked, like a fairy queen. “We’ll still have ice cream together on trivia nights!” she said, as if it was some great promise of friendship. Scharona accepted Jamie’s strand, and gave her one of her own. She wasn’t sure whether it was one of the ones she had taken off already, and she hoped no one would notice that she was wearing more strands than anyone in spite of having taken some off.

The others lingered, as if reluctant to take that final step of leaving the Companion House, admitting that some relationships were ending, even though other relationships were continuing and growing stronger.

Scharona didn’t linger. She didn’t say any more goodbyes, or even tell her friends she was leaving. She slipped out quietly, pulling her hood up over her head as she headed back to the trans, and back to her tiny, lonely room.

Logo Castle Celt Nessie 2This story is a ‘deleted scene’ from Under the Radar, the story in my Kingdom Come series that I recently took off the shelf to re-write. I call it a ‘deleted scene’ even though I just wrote it tonight and never had any intention of putting it in the story. It takes place…but it’s not important to the overall plot. The only character from this entire story who is mentioned at all in the actual novel is Scharona, the main character. In the novel, I mention the fact that Scharona once had a rozloučení with a group of cariads (boyfriends/girlfriends/people who’ve been dating) and everyone but her ended up in a loving relationship.

The Kingdom Come series takes place on a world where committed polyamory is the social norm. A traditional marriage consists of several men and several women. I came up with the idea of a rozloučení as a mature way for people to part kindly with one or more romantic partners, whether or not they’re sexually intimate. Dating on Kingdom Come is usually a group outing, and when the group becomes large and complicated, they usually break up into smaller, more defined groups. To come up with the right word, I put the word “parting” into google translate, and started clicking languages. Czech turned out to have the word I liked best. ‘Rose LOW chen ee’ is the best I can do to sound it out.

I’d love to hear people psychoanalyze Scharona based on this one scene. This very much symbolizes who she is (at least in the beginning of the story.) She is someone who always ‘flies under the radar’ and hopes that she won’t be noticed. She believes if she is just nice to everybody and always acts conservatively and quietly, everything will work out right.