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The Shatterer

ShattererJade smiled with self-satisfaction to see Lara in the crowd. Not on the stage, not in the make-up room, not in any entourage, but in the crowd alongside all the rabble who blended together as faces in the crowd, unimportant individually. It had only taken a few words spoken in the right ear to shatter Lara’s career.

It serves her right, to think she can share the stage with me.

Lara hadn’t been the first aspiring diva to learn her lesson the hard way. They called Jade the shatterer for a reason. Not only could her voice shatter fine crystal, but she’d shattered records as she rocketed to the height of celebrity in not only the world of classical music, but modern pop as well. Once she’d reached those heights, she didn’t hesitate to shatter the hopes and dreams of anyone she viewed as a threat to her sublime position.

Only the most accomplished and respected entertainers were invited to perform at the Universal Station’s Grand Ballroom. The ceiling was a lovely facsimile of the starry void…as if the ballroom actually had a view of the stars, instead of being buried somewhere inside the vast and intricate orbital station.

Jade opened her performance, as usual, with a few of her cheekier numbers in the low end of her range. She absorbed the adoration of the crowd, consuming it like oxygen. She segued into one of the classical pieces, stretching her voice easily into a range most sopranos found challenging. The awe the audience exuded was palpable, giving her the energy she needed to reach the climax.

During the brief intermission, she stood while three attendants dressed her in the dark angel costume she’d wear for the second half of her performance. The wings were annoying, but spectacular.

The song began with her voice piercing the inky blackness, the ballroom lit only by the very realistic starscape above. As the spotlight found her, she rose on the floating pedestal, the special effects perfectly complimenting the gradual rise of her voice as she transitioned from one key to another.

Her sycophantic congregation gave her everything she craved. She almost felt that her wings could carry her away, buoyed on the praises of the crowd. She hit the high note in a blaze of glory, holding it for a record-shattering span.

When she finally let go, expecting a moment of stunned silence followed by thundering applause, her ears were confused by a cacophony of sound. She peered into the darkness below, shielding her eyes from the spotlights, but she couldn’t see anything other than a mass of churning bodies.

They were screaming in terror.

And then she heard it. The crack. Jade looked up, seeing the spiderweb of fractures in what she had thought was an artificial viewdome.

The whoosh of air was instant, the glass fell away from her. She followed, carried by her angelic wings. In another instant, there was silence, and absolute cold. She soared to the heavens, attaining heights she’d never dreamed possible.

For a moment, just one fleeting moment, she felt regret. Not for the cruel way she’d treated so many people, but for the fact that the note she’d projected hadn’t even been her highest or most powerful. And now…now the crowd below— some of them joining her in the icy void— would never get to hear it.

I needed a writing warm-up tonight, and I recalled that Jade, a friend from high school, had asked to be killed off. I hope I have done so in a spectacularly satisfactory way.


This scene is the first I wrote in the Victoria Pontifex series. This book turned out to be the third out of the five. It is not yet published…but check my author blog and hopefully someday it will be.

You can see the picture that inspired Daisy here.

Logo AB Nessie submarineDaisy peered into one porthole after another, ignoring the startled looks from the submarine’s crew. In the first place, merfolk were usually polite enough not to peep into people’s windows either on land or at sea. Secondly, Daisy was the daughter of a duke, and should really behave with a greater sense of propriety.

Then again, her father had been made a duke by Her Royal Highness Victoria Pontifex only three years ago. Daisy was neither accustomed to the mannerisms of the nobs nor did she particularly care.

Damn his infernal soul to hell… I know he’s seeing another woman, some milk-and-water missy from Galicia with icewater in her veins…

Daisy continued to swim from one porthole to another until she came to a large window. She’d only been on board the H.M.S. Tortuga once, but she surmised that the room must be something important to have such a huge piece of glass. The Tortuga, although equipped for defense, was not a battleship. It was a diplomatic vessel, or rather, a set of vessels, fitting together seamlessly as a whole, whose primary function was to look really impressive.

She casually floated in front of the window, not caring who saw her. One officer had his head wrapped in a huge towel, cucumber slices over his eyes and some greenish mud on his face. Another officer lay face down on a padded table, his own personal padding jiggling with the percussion of a masseur’s chops.

The object of Daisy’s affection and ire was sitting with his feet propped up, being attended by a woman whose skirt was much too short for decency by anyone’s standards.

Getting his nails done, of course. I should have known.

No one had noticed her yet. The swim-tail she’d selected that morning was the same color as the coral formations behind her. There was a school of tsipouras following her, and the occasional octopus. She was in the shadow of the vessel, and the salon was well lit.

Daisy swam up to the glass. With her upper body pressed against the window, several heads suddenly snapped in her direction.

She waved.

Daisy made eye-contact with the towel girl. The color drained from the poor thing’s face and her mouth formed a silent scream. A series of unfortunate events followed as the scream startled a pedicurist, who must have twisted her tool into a rather unpleasant position because the officer receiving the pedicure kicked violently, sending a tray of implements sailing across the room. As each implement found their mark, the wounded personnel turned first to each other, and then to the window.

With the notable exception of Commodore VonStrakkebroek.

Her wayward lover didn’t wave back. He just idly nodded in her general direction as if she was no more important to him than the tsipouras who formed her entourage.

Daisy felt the blood rush to her face, and she lurched away from the window before any of the officers could see her turn purple.

“Bastard! Bastard! Bastard!” she chanted, and the tsipouras scattered. “So he chose a shiny new ship and a complacent dirt-footed lady over me?”

Scanning the surface of the water, she identified the hull of the Death’s Embrace.  She knew the captain well, and the small ship would suit her needs perfectly.

Daisy gathered speed, launching herself out of the water and grabbing the edge of an opening on the gun deck where she knew there would be no gun.

Hefting herself up in preparation for shifting her body onto the deck, she found herself nose to nose with a smooth-jawed, heavy-lidded pirate. One hank of oily black hair hung down, covering his right eye as effectively as any eye-patch.

“Daisy, I have a confession to make…” he began, but she didn’t hear the rest. She lost her grip and splashed right back into the water. A tsipoura laughed at her, then turned tail and exited the vicinity as quickly as possible when she threatened to have him fried.

Émile, the captain of the Death’s Embrace, always had a confession to make. If confession truly was good for the soul, Émile would be wearing a halo. Unfortunately, the reason he always had a confession to make was that there was always a list of infractions he’d committed against the crown, the sea, or one of the many wenches who were inexplicably attracted to him.

Daisy tried again to board the ship, this time holding herself just below the gunport for a moment. “Émile, could I have just a bit of room please?” she asked.

He stepped back, looking sour and sad as always. His tight pants hugged his bony hips; his black boots were scuffed and pocked with holes. Daisy flipped herself inside and fiddled with the clasps along the lower edge of her corset. As the light skirt unfurled she deftly rolled the thin fabric of her swim tail down her legs. She squeezed the last drops of moisture from it, then folded and tucked it until it resembled a very respectable reticule.

“Émile, I need you to fire on the Tortuga,” she said, storming up the steep steps to the upper deck.

“You want me to attack the H.M.S. Tortuga?” Émile asked, his head cocked to one side, even more hair spilling over his heavily outlined eyes.

“Yes! Post haste. The bastard thinks he can ignore me…” her voice trailed off into an incomprehensible ranting mumble as she made her way to the lower decks.

Daisy grunted with un-ladylike satisfaction when she saw that Émile had kept the furnace stoked. The steam engines had more than enough power for what she wanted. Without waiting for the captain, she commandeered the Death’s Embrace and began to pull the various levers that would turn the ship in the right direction.

Émile appeared, frowning. “Well, all right, but I don’t think they’ll like it.” He said and reached around Daisy, flipping up the levers she’d flipped down and yanking a rather intimidating handle from right to eft with a loud clank followed by a rattle and whistle.

“They’re not far. You just have to turn so the cannons are aimed the right way.” Daisy put her eyes to the belowscope, spinning it until she sighted the large submarine resting on the sea floor. It was an easy target.

Soon the Death’s Embrace was creeping slowly out to deeper waters. “Oh, about the canons…” Émile said.

“What about the cannons?”

“Well, the crown confiscated all my powder. I can’t fire a single shot. Not even in self-defense.” Émile was the perpetual victim of life. Nothing was ever actually his fault.

Daisy seethed, and ran below to see if he had indeed been relieved of all his gun powder. There was not a single barrel in sight. Her gills flapped angrily, trying to take in oxygen from the air. Daisy resisted the urge to dive back into the familiar water from which she could gather all the oxygen she needed. Her great-grandparents had been land-dwellers, her body had not forgotten that. She calmed herself, then returned to the upper deck.

“How close can you get?” she asked.

“Well, I’m directly over them now…” Émile explained, looking through the belowscope. It sounded like an apology.

Daisy’s lips curled in a devious smile. “Perfect. Now come help me…”


man-falling-down-mdShe’s gonna blow…”

“No…no no nonono…” Emmet chanted, his eyes on the same tourist they both all watching.

“She’s about to…. oh, there she goes,” Raven said, unnecessarily booting Emmet in the rump. It was his turn.

Emmet launched himself through the crowd, vacuum in hand, followed closely by a herd of cleaning bots, maneuvering expertly in the microgravity.

“Allow me to assist you,” he said to the green-faced woman.

“Mmm…” was all she could mumble, looking like she might throw up again.

He set the vacuum to its task and placed one arm around the woman’s back while placing a barf bag near her face, activating the oxy flow. “Place this over your mouth. It will help you breathe, and contain any more regurgitation.”

Fortunately, she did as she was told. Some people resisted, insisting they were fine and then proceeding to make an even bigger mess.

A couple of rubberneckers almost missed the turn, but Raven launched out and politely nudged them back into position. The flow of tourists and commuters continued to move through the space, being gently pushed along by the bumpers. Emmet carefully maneuvered the woman out of the flow and over to the aid station. “Just put your legs through here…” he said, guiding her to the rails. “It’s just like you’re sitting down…there…”

Once she was settled, Emmet turned back to see if the bots had finished what they needed to do. The vacuum had returned to its station, emptying and cleaning itself. Raven was spraying the mist that would trap any remaining bits as they floated to the filter intake.

Just beyond Raven, there was a disturbance in the pedestrian flow. A largish man was trying to get back through the crowd, pushing people out of the way as he bounced along the corridor.

“Sir!” Emmet called out to him. “Please go with the traffic. There is a U-turn about twenty meters ahead if you need to come back this way.”

The man looked angry, and he was focused on Emmet. “You!” he yelled, followed by something unintelligible.

Emmet looked left and right, but the man was definitely focused on him.

“Sir, you must move with the flow of traffic,” Raven called out, helping the people who had been pushed away from the bumpers back into the flow. It would be disastrous if they ended up with a jam. A large ship had just docked, and people needed to get from one place to another.

Emmet punched his security call button, and the bumpers automatically slowed to half speed. A confused murmur echoed through the crowd as they adjusted to the slower movement. “Sir? Sir!” Emmet dodged as the man launched himself directly at him. The man yelled something in a language Emmet didn’t understand, but it was obvious he was outraged at something Emmet had done.

“Security! Help!” Emmet called, abandoning protocol in an effort to escape. He watched in horror as the man put his hands on the sick woman, attempting to pull her away from the aid station.

Rubberneckers were causing a pileup as more people missed the turnoff, floating away from the bumpers. Raven, who would usually have swept in and nudged them along, turned turbo and launched herself at the angry man. She latched onto his back, then sprayed a mist directly at his face. “Here, sir,” she said, her voice dripping with sarcastic triumph. “This will help you breathe.”

The bumpers stopped, and a soothing computer voice instructed everyone to remain calm in several languages. The angry man slumped, not quite unconscious, but no longer struggling or fighting.

A security detail zipped in on turbo, and Raven handed the groggy offender off to them.

The sick woman called out something in a language Emmet didn’t understand, struggling to extricate her legs from the rails at the aid station. She floated out and Emmet extended a hand to her. She pulled herself to him, then pushed away, directly toward the security detail.

“Husband!” she said, gently grabbing the man in custody. “Idiot,” she said apologetically.

The security detail nodded, and carried her along with them as they removed him from the area and the bumpers started up again.

Emmet let out the breath he hadn’t realized he was holding. Raven came over and slapped his back, sending him spinning.

“You should get hazard pay for that one!” she joked.

“That’ll be the day,” Emmet mumbled, righting himself so he could look down the corridor at the oncoming traffic. A small boy, being held tightly by his mother, was holding his hands over his mouth. “Just promise me you’ll get the next one.”

I fell off the writing wagon a few weeks ago and needed to shake things up a bit to get back in the swing. This is just a random, off the cuff story. I hope you enjoyed it.

Valentines-Day-Ribbon“Flashing can so be romantic!” Marty protested, tying his robe again. Muriel had no sense of fun anymore.

“Flopping that thing around while I’m making waffles is neither romantic, nor sanitary,” she protested, opening the waffle iron and prying the pastry out. Marty sat down just as their youngest boy came bounding down the stairs.

Scott kissed his mother on the cheek. “I don’t have time for…wait…did you make waffles?”

Muriel handed the boy a plate with three heart-shaped waffles, each with half a strawberry on top, drizzled with chocolate syrup. “Uh… I can eat fast!” he said, then sat down at the table.

Muriel put another plate with three waffles, strawberries, and chocolate syrup in front of Marty, then kissed him on the top of his head. It wasn’t the kind of affection he’d been hoping for, but it would do. Besides, it came with food.

“Dad, why is there a ribbon on your willie?” Scott asked, shoving half a waffle into his mouth and looking down through the glass table. His phone was in one hand. Fortunately, Scott had the common sense not to take penis pics at the kitchen table. At least, Marty hoped he did. He shut his knees together and pulled the sides of his robe together.

“It’s a romantic gesture,” Marty explained. The day was not yet lost. Scott would be gone soon, and he and Muriel would have the house to themselves.

“Romantic? If I did that for my girlfriend, she’d fall off her chair laughing.”

“Well, your father tries, you have to give him that,” Muriel said. “After all, it is Valentine’s Day.”

“Valentine’s Day?” Scott asked, punching and swiping at his phone. “Oh no.” He shoved the last waffle into his mouth and pushed himself away from the table. “Now I’m not only late, I’m in trouble. Bye Mom. Dad.”

Scott grabbed his jacket and ran out the door, trying to get his arms in the sleeves as he was walking down the porch stairs. Muriel walked over to the door and shut it the rest of the way.

Marty let his robe fall open again. He grabbed the can of whipped cream, squirted a generous amount on his waffles, thought a minute, then squirted a perfect spiral right above the ribbon.

Muriel turned around, then did a double-take. She rolled her eyes and turned back to the waffle iron. “You should be careful. You know how Baxter is about whipped cream.”

Upon hearing his name, the dog’s ears perked up. Marty used his napkin to clean off the cream.

“I’m amazed we were able to raise such gentlemanly boys, with the example you set,” Muriel said.

The front door crashed open, and Scott ran through to the stairs. “Dad, do you have any more of that ribbon?” he yelled.

Muriel ignored the smug look he gave her. Scott was definitely his boy.

“In the middle drawer,” he shouted, getting up from the table. “And take the whipped cream too.”

This week, Wendy challenged us to write something with romance for WOW555.

Naptime to the Rescue

For this week, write a story in which sleep plays a specific role.

napAustin glazed at the donuts. His sugary gaze fell over the box of treats until they were all coated with unfulfilled desires and the glittering promise of a quick rush of energy.

He couldn’t. He wanted to, but he couldn’t.

“Does every meeting on this planet have to start with donuts?” he grumbled as he found a chair.

“Yes, and I’m not complaining,” said Sirgie, helping himself.

Austin needed the sugar rush. A shot of caffeine would be even better, but even more dangerous.

He couldn’t endanger his nap.

“Excuse me,” Austin said, stepping out to the hall and splashing some cold water on his face. A few natives raised an eyebrow, but politely did not comment.

He hated the planet, and it wasn’t just because of the sugary carbohydrates. People were loud. He didn’t understand the local humor, and he was tired of being labeled a sourpuss because of it.

Worst of all, the days were unnaturally short. All right…unnatural wasn’t the right word. There was nothing unnatural about the planet’s rotation; it was simply faster than he was accustomed to. He never got enough sleep. He was always tired.

Fortunately, the donuts were gone within the first few minutes of the meeting. It was mind-numbingly boring, but somehow Austin managed to stay awake through the whole thing.

In a sadly short amount of time, his business associates were winding down for the night. Austin was just getting his second wind.

It didn’t feel right to eat dinner. It was too early. But, when in Rome… he managed to choke it down, even though he wasn’t hungry.

His hotel was quiet. His room was dark. The bed was warm and the air was cool, perfect for sleeping. Yet, as tired as he was, he could not convince himself it was bedtime yet. It was much too early.

Austin looked at the clock. He had an unreasonably short time before he had to be awake and back at work.

“What time is it back home?” he said out loud, although he was the only one in the room. “Oh look! It’s the middle of the afternoon.” He hoped his body was paying attention. This was important. “You know what that means?”

He paused, as if waiting for his body to answer.

“It’s the perfect time for a nice little nap.”

Ah! His body answered. Naptime! We understand naptime.

“Doesn’t this bed look comfy?”

Ooh… comfy…

“Why don’t we just lie down for a bit?”

His body was buying it. His brain resisted. What? Nap? Isn’t everyone else in this time zone going to bed for the night now?

“Hush! Hush…” Austin told himself. “We’re just going to take a little nap. It’s not like we’re retiring for the night…it’s too early…”

Naps were the only sleep Austin got for his entire three week trip. Every sunrise his body asked what the heck he was thinking about getting up already, and every morning he promised his body it could take a ‘nap’ later.

It worked.


Genie of the Neti Pot

neti purpleFrances used the palm of her hand to cover the large opening of the little plastic neti-pot and she put a finger over the spout. Gently, so as not to disturb her aching head, she shook it so the little packet of salt would dissolve. Carefully, she leaned over the sink, tilted her head, and inserted the spout into her right nostril.

The sneeze came out of nowhere. With the intake she sucked saline into places it should not be, and the blast made bubbles in the neti-pot. Coughing and sputtering, Frances held onto the counter for dear life as she wiped at her face.

“I wish I was over this cold already,” she grumbled to herself.

“Your wish is my command!” came a voice directly behind her.

She whirled to see a heavily muscled man in a turban and silk vest standing in her bathtub. Well, he wasn’t actually standing… his yellow pants ended in golden smoke that never seemed to dissipate.

Frances gasped, then realized that her nasal passages were perfectly clear. She took a few deep breaths. Her head didn’t hurt anymore. The snot was gone, as was the urge to cough. “I can breathe!” she exclaimed.

“You are over your cold!” the strange man, whom she assumed was a product of her fevered brain, said. “You have two wishes left.”

“Wishes?” she looked him up and down. “You’re a genie?” Genies were dangerous. Every story (well, all but the Disney ones) she’d ever read about genies had them causing more trouble than blessings with their wish-granting.

She’d have to be careful. If it was real…which it probably wasn’t…but…

“Where’d you come from?” she asked, wondering whether her clarity was the result of her newly-mucus-free head or some dream psychosis. Nyquil didn’t usually give her that bad a hangover…

“You have freed me from my prison! For that, you have my eternal gratitude, and three wishes.” He put his finger against his cheek. “Two wishes, now that you are over your cold.”

Frances looked around the bathroom. She did have a few very old perfume bottles, but they were sitting on the shelf with a heavy layer of dust. “What prison?” she asked.

The genie gestured to the neti-pot with a flourish.

“The neti-pot?” Frances asked, picking it up. It still had some saline and snot floating around. “But…it doesn’t have a lid! How could you have been trapped? And it’s not that old. It was probably manufactured in the last year.”

“Never mind that,” the genie said. “It’s magic. It doesn’t have to be logical.”

“Well, gee, in that case…” Frances decided it was worth making a simple wish. The worst that could happen would be that she’d wake up and find herself buried in blankets with three cats trapping her in. “I wish my whole house was clean.”

The genie snapped his fingers. Suddenly, the bathroom seemed a little brighter. The grime that had accumulated on the light fixture was gone. Frances stepped out of the bathroom. The stains that had been in the hallway rug when she bought the house six years ago were gone.

The genie followed her out. His legs were looking slightly more human, but his feet were still nothing but smoke.

Frances sat down at the computer. She had to google ‘how to outwit a genie’ before making her final wish.

Her dating profile was still on the screen. There were three messages from men she was trying to politely ignore, and three more messages from strangers she’d had yet to check out. “I wish one of these would turn out to be a decent guy,” she muttered, then quickly clamped her hand over her mouth.

The genie was gone. She checked every corner of her immaculate house, but there was no sign of the fairy-tale being. Frances picked up the neti-pot. She rubbed it. Nothing happened. She cleaned it out with hot, soapy water, then rubbed it again. Nothing. She mixed up the saline again, put it in her nose, and blew.

She just made a mess.

Shaking her head, Frances sat down at the computer again. She clicked the first message and instantly hit Report/Block as the image of a rather hairy and ungroomed penis stared at her. She took a deep breath, then clicked the second message. It started off well enough, but the words ‘…pretty, for someone your size’ and ‘You know what you should do?’ led her to relegate that particular match to the ‘ignore until you’re really desperate’ file.

There was one left. Frances clicked. She assumed that he was the scruffy-looking man standing between the guy in the Batman mask and the man dressed up as Superman. Scruffy-looking she could accept, embrace even. She would even hug a nerf-herder if he remembered to put the toilet seat down and didn’t say ‘what?’ every time she spoke to him.

The next picture showed him looking much more cleaned up, sitting behind a table on a stage with several people who looked familiar. She looked more closely. One of those faces belonged to the writer on one of her favorite shows. ‘My sister told me I had to get all dressed up if I was going to be on the panel,’ he said. ‘I don’t usually look like this.’

At least it didn’t say ‘my mother.’ She looked at his profile. He was a grip for the show, as well as being an avid blogger who rated and reported on everything zombie.

Frances closed her eyes for a moment. When she opened them, her head was still clear, her house was still clean, and the seemingly perfect dating profile was still up on the screen.

“Well…” she said to the cat, who had just wandered in. “What’s the worst that could happen?” she asked, and clicked ‘reply.’


Sometimes, before writing, I need to warm up. Sometimes, I need to get some silly idea out of my head before I sit down to write the ‘real’ stuff. This was fun to write! And my neti-pot does say ‘genie-style.’


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.


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!