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Monthly Archives: January 2015

Fiction: Death (100 words)

They didn’t know how to deal with losing him.  They were both very intelligent and logical people, and therefore were perfectly aware of the way that life and death worked, but neither of them could wrap their head around the fact that he wasn’t going to walk through the front door at any minute, or that he wouldn’t be calling to apologize for his tardiness.  They were never going to see his smile again.  They weren’t going to hear his voice again.  He was dead. That’s it.

They had to comfort themselves, and each other, but they didn’t know how.

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Posted by on January 31, 2015 in Stories

 

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Fiction: Meeting the Brother’s Family (150 words)

“Are you nervous?”  Henry asked, looking at the passenger seat where Lot hadn’t even unbuckled her seatbelt yet.

She turned to look back at him with wide eyes.  “What if they hate me?” she asked quietly. She looked so scared and sweet and he choked back the instinct to say Oh, Honey.

“I promise, Lot, they aren’t going to hate you.  They are loud though—so good luck with that.  And Andrew will probably ask you something inappropriate because he’s at the ‘testing boundaries’ stage or whatever it is Sally called it, so feel free to just tell him that’s not a good question to ask and don’t answer if you want to.” She nodded, but still didn’t undo her seat belt.  “Are you ready to go in, or do you just want to sit here a moment?”

“No, no I’m good.”  Lot reached down and pressed the button, “Let’s do this.”

 
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Posted by on January 30, 2015 in Stories

 

Fiction: Taking a Choice (834 words)

Conlyn knelt along with the other men in his row.  His bed was made, his place was set, and everything was exactly to specifications, not above nor below even a smidge. That’s how Conlyn was planning to get through the next three months—to blow through without being noticed on one side or the other.  Then, when The Queen was off the street, Conlyn would go back, check on his mom, and see where he could get himself into the hierarchy again.  Many people would be happy to see her go, and maybe his hand, however indirect, might help him up the ladder some.  That would be nice.

The woman paced.  She was the gossip of the town, a girl who wandered down from the Sisterlands and took the tests with no formal training, a big deal, everyone wanted to be noticed by her, be promoted to her ranks.  Conlyn just wanted to be ignored.

“Upton, you’ll stay. The rest, dismissed for yard training.”  Conlyn flinched as those around him moved, gathering their stuff to head out to the next part of their training.  Eventually, there was silence, all that was left was Conlyn kneeling, still starting a spot on the floor about a foot in front of him, and this girl, this legend, this may or may not be real solider, standing somewhere on the other side of the room.  “Conlyn Upton, son of Tara of Hardston Row.  You were with the Mercs last year, weren’t you?  Questioned after the death at Donner’s corner?”

“Yes Ma’am.  I was told my past would be forgiven when I joined the guard.”  Conlyn didn’t look up, holding the kneeling salute. He didn’t know what he had done to earn her attention, but maybe if he just made it through the interview he could go back to his basic training in peace.

“Oh yes, of course.  I would never dare judge you for your past.  What I will judge you by is what I have seen others in your position do.”  Conlyn looked up, and was surprised to see her up close, standing only a foot away. She offered him a hand up, and pulled her to his feet.  This legend looked perfectly reasonable, if not a bit simple, up close.  But the look on her face was still stern, was intimidating, was—in a weird way—inspiring.  “The Queen is on her way out, and I know that will come as no surprise to you.  When she’s gone, you can be whoever you want to be in the new ranks of the Mercs, especially with the basic training from the guard. It’d be a pretty sweet deal.”  She pushed a stray piece of hair behind her ears.  Conlyn said nothing.  He wouldn’t deny it so that in the future he looked like a turncoat. He wouldn’t confirm it because he wasn’t sure what she would do to him if he admitted he just wanted to leave. He just stood and let her size him up.  She did, and her opinion seemed to be positive.  “I’ve got a good spot on my squad, Upton. And you’re good. I’ve heard an awful lot about your potential. I’d love to add you to my team.  But—I don’t want to give that place to someone who is going to turn around and dump me.  Between you and me, I need you to be honest with me.  Are you sticking around after The Queen is off the streets?”

Maybe it was the fact that Harlowe seemed to be an honest woman, and it was hard to lie to an honest person.  Maybe it was because her accent did make her seem different from the rest of the guard. Maybe it was something else altogether. “No. I’m here because it keeps me safe while The Guard uses the information I gave them to get the Queen off the street.  I’m not guard material, and I know what my life is supposed to be.”

“Hmm.”  Harlowe considered him a moment longer.  “I’ll make you a deal. You give me five days—Five days on my guard with my training to prove to you that this is something that you can do and that life isn’t necessarily what you thought it would be.  If after five days, you still want out after The Queen is off the street, I will sign the discharge papers that assure a year’s salary from the day you leave.  A year’s good money versus five days of extra training. I think it’s a pretty good deal.”

Conlyn thought there was something in there, a trick, or a something, but he couldn’t find it.  It seemed too good to be true. But, if there was a trick, Conlyn was sure that he could find a way to trick Harlowe back into getting that money he promised. “Okay.”  Conlyn nodded.

“Excellent,” a look crossed Harlowe’s face that Conlyn couldn’t quite place, “We’ll have your stuff moved.  Take the rest of the day off, everything starts tomorrow.”

 
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Posted by on January 29, 2015 in Stories

 

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Fiction: Tratiors and Filicide (884 words)

“Hey guys.”

Thomas and Dora turned to face Irma quickly, neither of them liking the tone in her voice.  Even Ciara stopped short behind Irma with concern, and she was not a woman who concerned easily.  For Irma’s part, she rubbed her hand along the back of her neck and tried to look like she wasn’t in pain. “I’m not feeling so good.  I–um–I think that something might be wrong. I–” she made a vague gesture towards Thomas. Thankfully, some instinct kicked in for Thomas when he saw it, because he rushed forward to catch her as she fainted, half holding her, half lowering her to the ground.  He looked up at the other women with wide eyes.

Dora looked panicked.  Thankfully Ciara knew how to take charge.  She hated moments like this, but she had been through enough of them to know what to do.  “Dora, go get Brian and tell him to meet us at the sick ward.”  Dora took off running down the hall before Ciara could even get out the last word. Ciara knelt down next to Thomas and the collapsed Irma, feeling for a pulse, resting a hand against her forehead, seeing if she could rouse Irma at all.  “Thomas, do you think you can carry her?”

“Yeah. Help hold up her head so I can pick her up.”  Ciara and Thomas played a strange ‘juggle your sister-in-law’ game until Thomas could get arms securely under Irma’s knees and shoulders and lift her up.  Progress towards the sick ward went as quickly as Thomas thought was rational.  Knowing his brother, knowing that if this was Nessa that Brian was carrying, he’d want him to make an all-out sprint to the doctors, but Thomas also know that if he sprinted and tripped or took a corner too sharply, that would be bad for all those involved, so he kept his pace to a quick walk.

They could feel it the moment that Dora reached Brian. Since they weren’t at the sick ward yet, Brian’s magic was thin, spread out across the complex in an attempt to make sure to hit them, the cooling calming presence of generic healing magic. It put an extra little pep in Thomas’s step.

When they got to the sick ward, Thomas headed straight to an open cot.  Brian was there, standing a few feet away from the bed, Dora at his side.  Thomas felt his brother’s magic slide off him, like he pulled a hoodie over his shoulders and threw it away.  It was all concentrated on Irma now.  That was the way it should be.

The doctors got to work. Brian, being as powerful as he was, just stood back, casting what he could to keep her stable, slowing her deterioration, so the doctor could keep their attentions on trying to stop whatever was causing the pain and unconsciousness.   But, no matter what they did, Irma wasn’t waking up.  Her fever was climbing. She began to convulse. Brian stepped forward to the end of Irma’s bed, tracing small symbols with his finger on the skin of her ankle.  She stopped convulsing, but otherwise got no better.

“What is this? What is going on?” Brian asked, looking at the head doctors, not even faulting in the symbols he traced on his wife’s ankle.

“I don’t know,” the head doctor said, staring at Brian in befuddlement.  He looked around at Thomas and Ciara and Dora, but was met with equally blank stares.  “By all accounts something should be working, even a little, or at least making her worse in a different way.  It’s like nothing we do has any effect on her.”

Ciara took a step up toward the edge of the bed. “Can I—I have a far-fetched hunch, can I check something?”

The doctor kept his bug-eyed look as he shrugged. Brian sighed, “Do what you need to, Ciara. Just, don’t break my connection to her.”

“All right.” Ciara moved up to her friend’s, her sister-in-law’s, shoulder.  She undid the top few buttons of her blouse and pulled the left sleeve down.  On the curve of her shoulder, there was her birth mark, three dark brown moles that made an equilateral triangle. Except, they weren’t brown moles anymore—they looked a sickly pea soup green color.

“What is that? What would make her birthmarks change color?” Thomas asked, stepping closer to have a closer look.

“If I had to venture a guess, they aren’t birthmarks,” Ciara offered, pressing her finger against one of the marks gently.  “She was tattooed.  Young enough that she couldn’t remember not having the marks. Whoever it was who tattooed her knew it was their only in.”

“Her father,” Brian said, in a voice so calm that could only mean that rage was brewing under the surface. “Her father marked her as an infant as a failsafe, in case she ever turned against him.”  He swallowed hard, and out of instinct Thomas and Ciara both took a step back.  You didn’t want to be near Brian when he was that angry. “He’s realized he’s lost.  He’s poisoning her through the tattoo as his last attempt of taking her down with him.”

Everyone in the room turned to look at the three green dots on Irma’s shoulder. What were they supposed to do now?

 
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Posted by on January 28, 2015 in Stories

 

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Fiction: New Timeline (598 words)

“You can’t tell me anything, Aden.”  I brushed a piece of his bangs away from his forehead, “I know I’m going to be curious, and I’m going to ask you a bunch of questions, and get really annoyed when you don’t answer me—but you can’t tell me. You have to be the Aden I knew, okay?”

Even as Aden smiled at me, he started to cry.  “I’m not sure I know how to do that, Bren.  Everything that’s happening, I can’t be that same man anymore.”

“Well, you’ll have been gone a couple years—you can use that.  I’ll forgive you a lot for that. Stress from the missing months, or whatever.”  I told myself I couldn’t cry.  If I started to cry, it was a slippery slope to sobbing. I knew he wouldn’t go through with it if I started to sob, and he had to go through with it.

“Okay,” Aden gave me a smile that I knew was braver than he was feeling, “Okay. I can do anything for you.”

“When the world changes–Demi and I will be stuck here, but–I need you to promise me you won’t worry about that, okay? Demi and I can take care of ourselves, and you’ll have the changed Brennan and the changed Demi to worry about. So, focus on them.  We’ll keep your connection until we’re sure the changes have finally gone through, and then we’ll break the connection.”

Aden nodded, turning to lay back on the table.  Demi slipped a pillow under his head, even though we both knew he wouldn’t know the difference once we started the connection.  It’d make us feel better to think he looked comfortable.   Demi kissed him on the forehead, and then got to work putting together all the different little things she’d need.  I slipped my fingers into his, and brought the back of his hand up to my lips.  “I love you, Aden.”

“I love you, Brennan.” He winced as Demi put an IV in his empty hand.  I tried not to think about needles.  “I’m going to miss you so much.”

“You’ll see me soon,” I assured him, “Sooner than you think.  Remember–keep the secret. Go to sleep now.”

Aden fought it for a while, determined not to look away from my eyes, but the Drugs Demi gave him were stronger.  I watched him sleep and held his hand while Demi messed with her machines and her needles, until she finally turned to me and smiled.  “He’s there.  He’ll do it. He has to.” I put his hand down on the table, and leaned in to kiss him once more.  “Do you think he’ll be able to keep it a secret from you?” Demi asked skeptically, “I mean really?”

I laughed, and it felt strange.  “No. No of course not.  Even if he could keep it a secret from me–you know him too well. He’ll tell us both within the year.”

Demi laughed too, and from the look on her face, it seemed just as strange to her as it did to me.  We’d have to learn how to do everything again without Aden. I looked to his side, where Demi had thankfully covered the tubes and needles going into Aden’s side with some kind of gauze.  “Do you think we should have warned him?”  Demi asked, pulling me out of my reprieve.

“What? About the Baby?”  I asked, looking at her. She nodded, a cheeky grin on her face.  “Nah. I’d never deny the other me the chance to see that look on his face. It was a good one.”

 
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Posted by on January 27, 2015 in Stories

 

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Fiction: Waking Up (224 words)

“Hey you.”  Hana sat up a little straighter, “My very own big honorable Kings Guard.  They say you brought me home. Saved my life they say.”

“I wouldn’t have had to save you if I hadn’t left you in the first place.  You can’t save someone from a danger you caused.”  Conlyn answered smoothly.

Hana half scoffed, half laughed, and Conlyn thought it was actually the best sound that he’d ever heard in his entire life. “If you had been with me when it happened, we both would have been hurt and we would have died out there with no way to get back.  It’s a very good thing you weren’t there, Conlyn.”

“Have you been talking to Harlowe?”

“No. I haven’t seen her since I woke up. Why?”

“It’s just–she said something very similar to me earlier.”

“Well, we are both very intelligent women.  It is possible that we came to the same correct conclusion independently of each other.  We do have that ability you know.”

Conlyn smiled, and sat carefully at the edge of the couch, making sure to avoid her feet.  “Well, I’m just glad to see you up again, Hana.  You really had us worried there for a while.”

“Don’t you worry, Conlyn. I’ll be around to annoy you for ages to come yet.  And I’m making that a promise.”

 
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Posted by on January 26, 2015 in Stories

 

Fiction: The Life of Roberta “Bobbi” Anne (1487 words)

Bobbi never knew her father.  She was raised with the dedication and care of a twenty-one year old mother who had been abandoned by her lover the second he learned she was with child.  But, she learned how to take care of herself pretty well, pretty quickly.  It wasn’t that her mother couldn’t take care of her–she just didn’t want to put extra pressure on her mother if she could help it.  It was a nice balance, because it allowed her mother to go out and fall in love again.  When Bobbi was 16, her mother asked her if she wouldn’t mind adding her new love to the family, and Bobbi was the maid of honor at her mother’s wedding.  It was a good thing that she agreed to it, because Bobbi’s mother got married already two and half months pregnant, and gave birth to a beautiful baby boy, Bobbi’s half-Brother Charles.  They all took the last name Johnston.

Perhaps it was teenage rebellion, perhaps it was underlying sibling jealousy following the birth of Charles, or perhaps it was just who Bobbi was, but on the day her little brother turned three weeks old, Bobbi realized that she was pregnant herself.

Unlike her mother’s luck, Bobbi’s boyfriend, a Sebastian Blaine, was delighted to find out she was pregnant. He wanted to marry her right away.  He made plans with her mother and new step farther, he got to know little Charlie as best as one could get to know a newborn.  And throughout it all, everything moved so quickly that Bobbi was walking down the aisle in a white dress before she even had time to process if this was the kind of thing that she wanted to do.  So, less than a year after she changed her name to Johnston, she changed it to Blaine.

At first, Sebastian seemed great.  Since they were only sixteen and seventeen, they continued to live with Bobbi’s mother and stepfather.  Bobbi’s first son, Henry, shared a nursery with his Uncle Charlie. Two years later, she gave birth to Sebastian’s second son, Martin. They moved out into their own place. Bobbi knew it was less than ideal, but she thought that maybe she could turn this little family into something to be proud of.

Bobbi didn’t that kind of luck.  It wasn’t long before she started to suspect Sebastian of having affairs. When she gathered evidence, and tried to talk to him in the way an open and honest married couple should, Sebastian freaked out.  He accused her of cheating instead.  He argued that Martin looked nothing like him, and that he wasn’t sure that he was actually his son.  He threaten to just take Henry and leave in the middle of the night, to take the only family he knew for sure was his.

Faced with losing her son, and knowing that Sebastian was the kind of man who could disappear without a trace, Bobbi shut up.  She didn’t complain about Sebastian’s affairs.  She reminded her sons every day that she loved them, just in case.

She bore it all alone, and in silence.  She didn’t tell her mother or step father because she was afraid of Sebastian’s wrath if he found out. She couldn’t tell her brother, because he was still practically a child himself, this was not something he was equipped to deal with. So–Bobbi did it alone, holding together as much as she could, making sure her children always knew that they were loved, and making sure that her husband’s mistress-es knew when to stop, to not put it in his head to run away with them.

Until she met Grant. Grant was tall, beautiful, kind. He was everything that she’d always hoped her husband might be, instead of the terrible one she ended up with. And he was nice to her.  He was only in town every now and then, but when he was, they made sure to meet up.  It started just as the occasional coffee, and then dinners and movies on the other side of town, and eventually to hours locked away in his motel room, getting as much of each other as they could manage.  She tried to be as careful as possible, but either through her passion filled carelessness, or potentially sabotage by Sebastian who wanted to prove that she was doing to him what he’d been doing to her for years, Bobbi became pregnant again.  She hadn’t slept with her husband in over a year when she took the positive pregnancy test–and apparently the double standard was too much for him to bear.  He announced to sixteen year old Henry and fourteen year old Martin that their mother was a slut, and that he wouldn’t stay around to be cuckolded by her.  He was gone within the hour. That was the moment that her two sons began to turn against her.

Grant didn’t take it much better.  He was married himself, and had never wanted kids.  He accused her of being intentionally lax with her birth control, to try to trap him into paying child support or something of that nature, accused her of having a child to be nothing more than a get rich quick scheme.  Bobbi discovered that she really knew how to pick them, and let Grant leave without a word to stop him.

Her mother had done this, of course she could too.  Her mom tried to offer some comfort and ease, at the very least allowing the boys to have sleepovers with Charlie every other weekend or so that Bobbi could have a night to herself.  Charlie offered her part of his paycheck in an attempt to help counteract the loss of Sebastian’s pay check. She declined, but made a mental note to make sure to spend more time with her brother, whenever she could find a minute.

The baby was a girl.  She named her Charlotte, in her own way for her little brother, and found that she couldn’t help but love that little girl in spite of the changes her conception had caused in her life.   She struggled to balance raising the new kid with giving her attention to Henry and the increasingly hostile Martin. Even though he still looked just like her, through his actions more and more Bobbi could see his father in Martin, and she feared what he might one day grow into if he didn’t watch himself.  She tried to steer him in the right direction, but she never knew if her thoughts and messages got through to him.  He was such an angry young man.

Just before Charlotte turned four years old, two days after Martin’s 18th birthday, her boys approached her with bags packed.

They told her they were leaving, both now legal adults, and both already having dropped out of their respective schools, and were going to stay with some friends up the coast.  They said they were leaving because they didn’t like that she’d chased their father away, and they were going to try to track him down if they could.  Bobbi may have lost her temper, and said something’s that she seriously came to regret in the morning. Her boys didn’t pull their punches either.  Their fighting eventually woke up Charlotte, who began to scream and cry, afraid because everyone was yelling downstairs. Bobbi went to reassure her that everything was alright, but by the time she made it back down the stairs, her sons were gone.

Bobbi was heartbroken, but angry, so she let them stay gone.  She promised Charlotte to always take care of her, especially since now it was just the two of them.  And while she still loved her sons with all her heart, she hoped that Charlotte, without the poisonous effect of Sebastian in her blood line, might turn out to be okay.  Might be the kind of child a mother could be proud of.

With her stepfather’s permission (and blessing) Bobbi and Charlotte both changed their last names to Johnston again.  They moved into the apartment over the garage.  Her uncle Charlie was a big brother to Charlotte, and she remained a relatively happy girl in spite of all the strife that surrounded her early life.
Charlotte was 20 when Bobbi was diagnosed with Stage 3 Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer.  Although Bobbi was now in causal contact with her sons, she decided not to mention it to them.  She didn’t want them to believe that she’d only rekindled with them out of dying guilt.

So her only sons, the boys from her only marriage learned about her death through the uncle who had spent most of his life growing up with those boys, and most of his adult life trying to get them all to rekindle their familial relationships.  After sixteen years, they returned home for the first time in order to attend their mother’s wake. And that’s where our story begins

 
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Posted by on January 25, 2015 in Stories

 

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