100 POSTS! And a little more

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Photo via tookapic via Visual Hunt

WOO! THIS IS MY 100TH POST!

I started this blog last October. I’ve been blogging since 2010, and I have some interesting posts on my old blog. But I wanted something more from my blog that I couldn’t get from Blogger, so I came here. Even after a year, Google still refuses to admit this blog exists and constantly refers people back to my Blogger blog. There is a link to this one in the final post on the Blogger one, but if you want to find current information for me, you have to use a different search engine. It’s sad, given Google is the most popular search engine in the world, that you can’t rely on it to be accurate.

But I’m not here to talk about Google. I’m here to talk about me. I seem to spend a random amount of time talking about my life on here. Sometimes I talk about life on the farm, my struggles with mental illness and physical health, and my writing. Other times I just post stories. However I do it, I’m trying to get the blog posts up on a semi regular basis. I like blogging. I just never know what to post, so you get the interesting musings of my incredibly random mind.

Now, onto the writing career update. I’ve been working on a short story for a bit called “Death’s Day Off.” It’s my submission for Zombies Need Brains LLC’s The Death of All Things anthology. It’s based on the personal mythology of my fantasy world, so it’s not gong to be the usual story they’d get. At least I hope it won’t. It’s under the 7500 word count limit. I sent it off last night. I won’t know until closer to the end of February if I’ve been accepted or not, but I’m a little scared and a little excited.

I’ve completed the next draft of Into the Flames, formerly known as Fury. I’m needing to go over it one more time before sending it off to a beta reader or two. I’m currently working on Return to the FlamesItF‘s sequel. It’s going slowly as I’m having an argument with my characters over who the POV character is going to be. The woman who was the POV character in ItF wants to be the POV in RttF. But her husband makes better sense as the POV character for RttF. So we’re going to wait and see what happens.

I have an appointment with my neurologist this week. Unless something drastic comes out of it, I probably won’t talk about it any more than this. Farm life moves on. Spring will bring with it some new challenges, and as they happen, I’ll document them here along with everything else.

As a final note before heading off for the day, please come support me on Patreon. I’m going to start posting patron-only short stories and (bad) poems, blog posts that you won’t see here, and more updates on my writing career there. I’ll also be posting other random bits of things there before they hit here, so if you want the first scoop on things as they happen, please think about sponsoring me there.

Everyone have a wonderful week and I’ll see you on Wednesday!

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Fury: Winterklaas, Part Three

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Photo credit: Camera Eye Photography via Visualhunt / CC BY

(Here’s part three. Part one was posted on Monday and part two was posted on Wednesday.)

Keoni took over one of the bigger chairs. Phelix settled onto a smaller one. Fiera looked around the room before pulling a large pillow off the couch and setting herself up on the floor with her back to the wall.

You can sit on the couch,” Alena said.

Gma and Gpa need to sit down,” Fiera said. “I can sit here.”

What a polite little girl,” Marlen said.

Alena helped Eire pass the presents out. The boys tore into each package as soon as one was put into their hands. Fiera waited until all of them were set around her before she carefully opened each one. Eire watched as she slowly, with great deliberation, opened each parcel, regard what she was given with great solemnity, and then put each thing in a neat pile next to her.

Phelix let out a yelp. Eire looked over at him. Most of his presents were scattered around him in the chair and on the floor. He was clutching one of them to his chest. It was the box holding the model harvester he’d wanted, the one similar to his brother’s. “Thank you, thank you, thank you!” Phelix yelled.

You’re welcome, Phelix,” Alena said, smiling at her youngest son fondly.

Oh wow,” Keoni said, eyes sparkling as he held up a package containing a new pad. The specs on it were much higher than the ones Eire and Alena usually gave their children. “Thanks, Gpa.”

You’re very welcome, Keoni,” Pietari said, grinning.

Dad, that’s too powerful for him,” Alena said.

Yours was just as high level for the tech of its day at six,” Pietari said. “I don’t see why Keoni can’t have one too.”

Fiera gasped. Eire looked over at her. She was staring into a box that was sitting on her lap. Most of her presents were unwrapped. There were a few next to her still glittering with bright paper. Eire saw that his daughter’s eyes were filling with tears. “Fiera?” Eire asked, concern filling his voice. “Are you okay?”

Fiera lifted the gift out of the container perched on her legs. There was a set of the tightly fitting fighter’s gloves you saw on several of the martial artists in Lochsea. A uniform came out next. Finally, a small data chip sealed in a clear plastic case was drawn from the bottom.

Eire grabbed a pad with a reader attached and put the chip in. “What is it, Eire?” Alena asked.

It’s a class schedule,” Eire said. “With one specific one highlighted.”

This is how we kept Lanre out of trouble,” Marlen said. “Fiera’s temper is worse than his, but we figure this might give her an outlet for some of that energy.”

Fiera looked at her grandparents. “Thank you,” she said. She suddenly stood up and threw herself into their arms. “Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.”

Eire sighed and shook his head. “You’re welcome, sweetling,” Pietari said, ruffling her hair.

Fiera, finish opening your presents so we can all have breakfast,” Alena said, giving her parents a dark look.

Okay.” Fiera returned to her spot. Eire had a funny feeling that this class would only be the first of many to tame his furious little girl.

Fury: Winterklaas, Part Two

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Photo credit: aaronlobo via Visual Hunt / CC BY-NC-SA

(Here’s part two. Check out part one, posted on Monday.)

So are they behaving themselves?” Alena asked as he came back downstairs.

Yes,” Eire said. “Fiera’s even trying to read Phelix the story of the first Winterklaas celebration, though she did add one little thing to it.” He explained about her addition.

Alena giggled. “I can remember Lanre doing something similar to me when he told me the story. Only he was much older than she is.”

Your brother has always been a little odd,” Eire said, snickering. Alena giggled again, nodding.

When dinner was ready, Eire ran upstairs and grabbed his children. They all came downstairs and ate. Alena cleaned the kitchen while Eire and Keoni pulled all the totes out of storage. The twins sat on the couch watching a holiday e-vid while they waited.

The first thing to go up was the wire framework in the shape of a spiral. “Okay,” Alena said, turning off the e-vid. “Time to decorate.”

The spiral was soon covered in lights, garlands of shimmering fabric and glass encased liquid metal, sparkling baubles, and whatever other odds and ends they could find to fill it. When it was done, Eire got a ladder and started pinning lights to the upper edge of the wall. Keoni held them while he tacked everything up. Eire felt the familiar rush of happiness. He’d never liked Winterklaas growing up, mostly because of the demands of his parents. But now, seeing the smiles and hearing the laughter of his children, Winterklaas was his favorite holiday.

While Eire and Keoni worked on the lights, Alena took the twins and set out the cookie dough she’d made earlier in the day. She rolled it out thin and handed the twins a huge container of cookie cutters. The twins enjoyed themselves as they cut random shapes out of the stiff dough. The cookies were put on baking sheets and popped into the oven. When they came out, they were put on cooling racks.

Eire put on another e-vid and the family gathered around to watch one of their best loved holiday shows. It ended and Alena checked the cookies. She pulled out containers of colored frosting and set them on the counter. She went back to her family and watched another short e-vid. “Are the cookies ready?” Eire asked.

The cookies and frosting are all ready for decorating,” Alena said. All three of the children sat down at the table. The little sugary treats, the frostings, and several offset spatulas were set up. Each one of them took a cookie and a spatula and set to work decorating.

When they were done, Alena took the twins upstairs for a quick shower and then to put them to bed while Eire cleaned up and Keoni “helped.” Alena came back down. She chased Keoni into his bed. She rejoined Eire as he settled in to watch a more adult oriented e-vid.

Any trouble getting them down?” Eire asked.

No,” Alena said. “I just threatened to not let them have their presents if they didn’t go to sleep immediately.”

Eire laughed. “That’ll do it.” The couple watched the e-vid. When it ended, they went to bed.

The next morning Eire and Alena were woken up by shrieks of delight. They smiled and pulled on their clothes before joining their children. “Go get dressed,” Eire said as he laughed at his children. “As soon as Gma and Gpa get here, you can open your presents.”

The children scrambled back up the stairs and into their rooms. Fifteen minutes later, all three of them came down in their nicest outfits. They reached the bottom step just as someone knocked on the door. It swung open before Alena could get to it. A stocky man with dark brown hair walked in, followed by a woman with dark auburn hair. Both were dressed in brightly colored clothes covered by heavy coats and the man was carrying a large bag.

Glorious Winterklaas,” Pietari Rezouac, Alena’s aging father, said, pulling off his coat and hanging it up.

Good morning Eire. Good morning Alena,” Marlen Rezouac, Alena’s plump and cheerful mother, said as she handed her coat to her husband. She hugged her daughter and son-in-law before moving to embrace her grandchildren.

Gma!” Keoni hugged her tight, followed by Phelix and then Fiera. Pietari was only a few seconds behind his wife.

So, are you three ready for your presents?” Pietari said, pulling a stack of boxes out of the bag and piling them in with the ones Alena and Eire had placed in one corner of their living room.

Presents! Presents! Presents!” the children chanted.

Sit down and we’ll start passing them out,” Eire said.

Fury: Winterklaas, Part One

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Photo via staand via Visual hunt

(As it’s the holiday season, I’m writing stories celebrating winter holidays in several of my worlds. This is the world of Into the Flames/Return to the Flames. Eire and Alena are the parents of my MC in both of those stories, and here’s when my MC is a little girl.)

Eire looked out at the frost covered ground. There was no snow on Sorus. That was something he missed about being on Bouarus. Winter had been his favorite season. The sports that came with the ever present frozen water that came in the coldest months were one of the things he truly enjoyed, and not having access to them out here was difficult.

You’re brooding, Eire,” Alena said, coming over next to him. “What’s wrong?”

Eire smiled fondly at his wife. The two of them had already been married for a few years, but it still felt like they were on their honeymoon. “I was just missing the winters I grew up with,” he said. “I loved snow sports and there aren’t any here.”

I haven’t seen snow in years,” Alena said. “Not since we moved off Icrtara. Sometimes I miss it too.”

Mama, pick me up?” Phelix, Eire’s four year old son, ran towards his parents. He tripped and fell. He was stunned for a moment and then began to howl.

Alena sighed. “Phelix, you’re okay,” she said, walking over and scooping her four year old son. “Was there something you want?”

Presents?”

Eire and Alena laughed. “Tomorrow, bratling,” Eire said. “You have to be patient.”

Are we going to decorate?” Phelix asked.

After dinner,” Alena said. “We’ll all help make the house look pretty.” Phelix squealed happily and then squirmed to be put down. Alena set him back on the floor and he took off running, most likely heading for his room to tell his twin sister the news.

Are your parents coming for the disemboweling of the gifts?” Eire asked.

Eire, that’s a horrible way to put it,” Alena asked, still laughing. “Though rather appropriate, given Keoni and Phelix’s way of opening their packages. Yes, they said they’d be here at 0830.”

Then we’ll have to keep the bratlings entertained until they get here. You know they’ll be up long before that,” Eire said.

I picked up three holiday e-vids for them. Hopefully those will be enough to hold their attention,” Alena said. She glanced at the time. “I need to go start dinner.”

Do you want some help?”

No, I can manage. Why don’t you go see what kind of mischief the three of them are getting into?”

Eire laughed as he headed upstairs. He loved his children. Keoni, an active six year old, took a great deal of pleasure in tormenting his younger siblings, though it was all in fun. Phelix was a loving little boy who adored his twin sister and idolized his brother. Fiera, Phelix’s twin sister, was a feisty little thing who often had fits of temper as wild as anything Eire had ever seen. But she was also a sweet and loving little girl, and to be honest, she was Eire’s favorite out of the three.

Eire got upstairs and poked his head into Keoni’s room. His oldest was quietly building a model of a solar wind passenger liner. It was one of his birthday gifts from earlier in the year, given to him by his grandparents. He’d been working on building it for several months and was making real progress on it.

Keoni looked up and grinned. “Phelix already told me when we’re decorating.”

Dinner should be ready soon,” Eire said.

Okay.” Keoni went back to work.

Eire went to the twins’ room. The twins were sitting on the bottom bunk, Fiera’s bed, and were holding a pad between them. Fiera was reading slowly, sounding out words she didn’t recognize. Eire realized that she was telling Phelix the story of Winterklaas. He listened for a moment as she stumbled over some of the longer words as she explained about the earliest settlers in the Duyelia sector and how they’d been eager to celebrate their first winter on their new world. A huge party had been thrown, even though the planet was covered in snow, and all the children were given lots of presents. Eire choked back his laughter. That part was definitely added by his daughter. He didn’t want to disturb them just yet, and continued listening.

Fiera, what do you want for Winterklaas?” Phelix asked.

Presents,” Fiera said. “I don’t know what I want exactly. I just want presents.”

Me too,” Phelix said. “But I do want one thing.”

What’s that?” Fiera asked.

A harvester,” Phelix said. “A little one, like what Keoni has.”

The one he won’t let you play with?” Fiera asked. Phelix nodded. “Maybe Mama and Dada got one for you.”

I hope so.”

So, are you two ready for tomorrow?” Eire said, stepping into the room. The pad went onto the bed and Fiera threw herself into her father’s arms. Eire scooped her up and kissed her on the cheek. “Mama is cooking dinner now. Gma and Gpa are coming in the morning to see you open presents. So I hope you’re all excited.”

Uh huh,” Fiera said. “I like presents.”

I haven’t met a child yet who doesn’t like gifts,” Eire said. “Dinner should be ready soon. Are you hungry?”

Phelix nodded. “My tummy is rumbling.”

Eire laughed. “Then it’s definitely time for food. You two go ahead and keep playing until it’s time to eat. We’ll come and get you.” He set Fiera down, ruffled Phelix’s hair, and left the room.

Coming home

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Photo via Mariamichelle via Visual hunt

Sorcha huddled in her cloak, watching for any sign of land as the ship glided through the choppy sea. There was nothing but mist in every direction. She reached up and clasped the medallion around her neck and sent a silent prayer to the Goddess, asking for a sign to lead them to their new home.

“You shouldn’t put your trust in the gods, little sister.” Sorcha looked over at her brother. Eamon crouched near her, a hand resting lightly on the hilt of his sword. He never released it unless he slept, and even then there was a blade close to him. He didn’t trust anyone, not since their village had been attacked by the Emperor’s Chosen.

Sorcha didn’t know what made the Emperor send his elite soldiers against her village. They’d had little warning; only the sounds of the hooves of the horses told them something was coming. It was enough to send the women and children running into the forest while the men prepared to defend their home.

Bandits were common in the areas where the Palenkiri had their villages, so the women expected it to be nothing more than another incursion. The men would fight them off and come and get them. They waited, well hidden in trees and under bushes, the youngest children kept silent by sweets or being allowed to suckle their mother’s breasts.

When the men didn’t come, the women grew worried. A few whispered that they should go back to the village and see what had happened, but the elders among them overrode that and they continued hiding. Finally, at sunset, a small handful of men – no more than ten – staggered into the forest. They called the women out.

Several of the women and children remained hidden while the elders slipped out of their spots and approached them. The men collapsed and bolts of energy struck the women, incinerating them. Men in blood colored uniforms flooded the forest, stabbing swords into the underbrush. Men and women in robes embroidered with strange designs set the forest ablaze.

Still, several women and children escaped to meet up with a straggling band of injured men who’d played dead until the soldiers had gone after the rest of them. They fled to the nearby coast and bought passage on the first ship they could find leaving Lytharia. It was setting off, at the Emperor’s desire, to put settlers on an island that had recently been discovered. The survivors all agreed it was far enough away to hide them from his wrath.

“Let her keep her faith, Eamon,” Gerrick said. “It’s probably the only thing keeping her going right now.” He put a hand on Sorcha’s shoulder. “We’ll be there soon, Sorcha.”

Sorcha nodded, and sent another prayer to the Goddess as the ship bucked again. She steadied herself by bracing against the cargo she leaned against. Suddenly, the wind, which had been swirling around them and holding the fog in place, changed direction. The sails billowed out and the fog was blown away.

Several people cried out. Before them, an island jutted out of the sea. Snow topped the mountains, but the lower areas were green and full of trees. They could dimly see something that looked to be a shimmering snake, which those knowledgeable took to be a river. “There’s our new home,” Eamon said.

“Home,” Sorcha said breathlessly. Months of fear and uncertainty melted away. She felt her medallion warm under her chilled fingers. “We’re home.”

Even books will last

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Photo via Visual hunt

Sora pushed the plaster and wood out of the way. “This place is ancient,” she said.

“I told you,” Kapi said, heaving the large chunks of brick and mortar to the side.

“How did you find it?” Sora asked, slipping in through the gap.

“I was looking for fossils,” Kapi said. She adjusted her face mask and turned up her oxygen. “You’re going to want to kick up your O2. This place is kind of dusty.”

Sora did as her sister suggested. She pulled out her small hand light and activated it. Bright light flooded the room. An old table and chairs, made fragile by extreme age, sat in the middle of the room. “What is that?” Sora asked, pointing to a strange device made of metal. It had handles on the front and was divided into two pieces.

“Let me check,” Kapi said. Her eyes flickered from side to side as she accessed the compendium of ancient devices. “It’s a refrigerator and a freezer. They stored cold foods in it.”

“Interesting,” Sora said.

Kapi pointed. “That’s a stove. They cooked on it. The door below it is an oven. They made bread and cakes and cookies in that. That’s a sink. Those are cupboards. This must be a kitchen.”

They moved on. Kapi identified each room they entered, pointing out the different bits of furniture and appliances. They reached a room that was empty except for a set of shelves with strange looking objects on them. “What are those?” Sora asked.

Kapi frowned. “I’m not sure.”

They got closer and pulled one off the shelf. It was very brittle. The outside was made of some kind of a kind of composite material with ancient writing on it. It covered something and the girls carefully lifted it. Inside were sheets of something filled with pictures and more of the ancient writing.

“This is odd,” Sora said.

Kapi scanned it. “A book. This is a book.” She was excited. “It’s how they shared information and stories in the old days. Do you know how much collectors would pay for these things?”

“We need to get them out of here without the Antiquities Office learning about it,” Sora said.

Kapi pulled out the preservation bags. “That’s why I came prepared.” They loaded the fragile books into the bags and headed out. Sora smiled. The books would pay for the girls to finally get out of the slums and into their own apartment, maybe even put them in jobs where they could afford the rent on it. It would be nice to have a good life again instead of being a pariah after their father’s less than popular opinions on how nuclear war created the issues they faced.

An apple for the teacher

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Photo via Visualhunt.com

Sophie looked at her mother and sighed. “Mom, I’m in college. You don’t give your professors apples.”

“Why not?” Emmeline asked. “You never know. It might do you some good.”

“Mom, apples for teachers went out of favor years before I even got to elementary school.”

“Just trust me. Give it a try.”

Sophie took the bag of apples from her mother. “Fine. I’ll do it your way.”

“Don’t eat any of them yourself. Or give them to your friends. They’re only for your professors.”

Sophie rolled her eyes. “I hate apples, and most of my friends do too. So you don’t have to worry about that.”

“Good. Now, enjoy your day, sweetheart.” Emmeline kissed her daughter on the cheek and shooed her out the door.

Sophie climbed into her car and headed towards the university. This was her first day as an incoming Freshman and she was nervous. High school had been hard enough for her. If her mother hadn’t insisted on it, she wouldn’t even have applied for the scholarships and grants. Surprisingly, she’d gotten a full ride scholarship to the local university, and two grants which were enough to pay for her books and various lab fees.

Sophie got to the university and put up her parking pass before heading into the private parking lot. She found one near the front of the lot and slid into place. She got out and grabbed her backpack. She hesitated, looking at the bag of apples. With a sigh, she snagged them and closed and locked her car.

Her first class was Biology. She hated science, but she needed twelve credits in science as one of the graduation requirements. She settled into a seat near the front of the room and waited. The rest of the class drifted in and then the professor came in. She seemed to be an irritable woman with a nervous twitch.

The class didn’t start for another ten minutes. Sophie got up and pulled out one of the apples. She walked up to the professor. “I know this might be weird, but I have these fresh apples and I thought you might like one.”

The professor stared at her and the apple for a moment before taking it from her. “Apples are a healthy snack. I can use one right now.” She took a bite. She smiled. “This is really good.” Sophie smiled and returned to her seat.

The class began on time. The professor’s attitude completely turned around. She seemed to enjoy the lesson and engaged the class in conversation. When the class was dismissed, Sophie headed off to her next class, bemused at the shift in personality.

The rest of the day, as she gave out apples, all of her professors seemed much happier after they were eaten. Sophie began to have her suspicions as she headed home. Emmeline greeted her with a smile. “How was your first day?”

“Mom, what did you do to these apples?” Sophie asked.

“Just a little charm to make your day a little easier,” Emmeline asked. “I know how hard the first day is on everyone. Don’t worry about it. It’ll wear off by the end of today. And tomorrow, your professors will enjoy their day as well.”

Sophie shook her head. “Mom, you can’t go around changing people’s personalities. It’s not safe. Not to mention against the Witches’ Codex.”

“What they don’t know won’t hurt them,” Emmeline said. “Now, stop your fussing and help me fix dinner.”

Sophie rolled her eyes. “Yes mom.”

Like father, like son

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Photo via Visual Hunt

“Okay dad, what is this?” Scott asked, looking over his father’s latest acquisition.

“It’s your grandad’s oldest car,” Michael said.

“What is it?” Scott asked.

“It’s a 1921 Hudson Phaeton,” Michael said. “It’s a classic.”

“I figured that,” Scott said with an amused smile. “What are you going to do with it?”

“I haven’t decided yet,” Michael said. “Your grandad left it to me in his will. Your damn uncle has been fighting me over it for the last two years. The judge finally told him to go fuck himself, in proper legalese of course, and I got it. As well as everything else left to me.”

Scott sighed. The animosity between Michael and his brother-in-law, Scott’s Uncle Nick, had been ongoing since the day Scott’s Aunt Sandra brought him home to meet her family nearly twenty five years earlier. “What did Uncle Nick have to say about that?”

“Nothing, though your aunt was begging me to give it all to her anyway,” Michael said. “I told her no, that she’d made her choice and had to live with it. She called me selfish and walked off with that asshole. I just signed the paperwork. The sheriff and several deputies went out yesterday and collected the physical stuff while all the bank accounts and other financial assets were remanded to me this morning.”

“Grandad will be happy,” Scott said.

“Yeah, he will,” Michael said, smiling softly. “You think he’ll come visit tonight?”

“It’s his birthday, isn’t it? He usually pops by to make sure we’re still celebrating it,” Scott said.

“Your mom should be by soon too. Our anniversary is in two weeks. What do you think I should do for that?” Michael asked.

“I don’t know. It’s hard to judge anymore with her,” Scott said. “She’s gotten so picky over the last five years.”

“That car crash really rattled her brains,” Michael said.

“It’s too bad she didn’t survive it. I think she’d have been amused by Uncle Nick’s stupidity,” Scott said.

Michael looked at him. “Do you realize how crazy we sound right now? Talking about your grandad and Elaine like they’re still alive?”

“Yeah, well, it’s your fault you know,” Scott said.

“How is it my fault?” Michael asked.

“You’re the one who inherited grandma’s ability to see and talk to the dead. You passed it along to me. Now we’re stuck with the ghosts of our family hanging around to keep us company for the rest of our lives,” Scott said.

“How are you going to explain that to your wife and kids?” Michael asked with a grin.

“How did you explain it to mom?” Scott countered, grinning back.

“I used that trick I taught you to make my mom visible to her so she could meet her,” Michael said, laughing.

“Then I guess I’ll do that with mom and my potential wife,” Scott said. “If she doesn’t run screaming I’ll know I’ve picked the right one.” Father and son laughed and went back to polishing the beautiful old car.

Window to the soul

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Photo via Visual Hunt

“Sam, your cat’s creeping me out again.”

Samantha Harper – called Sam by everyone who knew her – stuck her head out of the kitchen in her tiny apartment. Sure enough, her emerald eyed Ghost was staring at her current boyfriend. She’d rescued Ghost from a pack of teenage bullies who were bent on killing the tiny kitten he’d been. After bringing him home to nurse him back to health, he’d never left.

She shook her head as her boyfriend started pulling away from Ghost. Tom Williams was a weird one. She’d met him one night after work and he’d attached himself to her. He was a sweet guy, if a little dense at times. But he was fun to be with and she liked his sense of humor.

She sighed. “Did you pet him?”

“No. I sat down and he jumped up next to me. He hasn’t blinked in the last five minutes,” Tom said.

“Ghost, come here, baby,” Sam called, clicking her tongue on the roof of her mouth. Ghost blinked but didn’t move. “Ghost, do you want some tuna?” Sam returned to the kitchen and got out one of the cans of tuna fish she kept for her cat. She hated the stuff but Ghost loved it.

She put a few spoonfuls on a saucer and sealed the rest up in a dish and put it in the fridge. She set it out in the dining room. Ghost continued staring at Tom. “I don’t think he’s interested,” Tom said.

“Huh, that’s weird. He’s always come running when there was tuna on the line,” Sam said. She ducked back into the kitchen as the pot of pasta she was cooking started to boil over. “Just ignore him. He’ll get bored and wander off eventually.”

She didn’t hear his footsteps, but he was suddenly behind her. “Want some help?” Tom asked, way too close for her personal comfort.

“No, I don’t need it. Besides, the kitchen is too small for both of us,” Sam said, trying to back up. Tom stayed with her until she was pressed up against the fridge. “Why don’t you go sit down in the living room? Food will be ready soon.”

“I might just want something more than food,” Tom said. As he reached for her, he let out a blood curdling scream and jumped back.

Ghost was attached to his leg, teeth and claws gouging his flesh. A gun dropped out of Tom’s pocket. “What the fuck?” Sam kicked the gun under the fridge and slammed a fist into Tom’s face. Tom dropped like a rock. Ghost didn’t let go. “Ghost, baby, let him go now.” Ghost growled as she reached down to move him. “Okay then. You stay there while I call the cops.” She grabbed her cell phone and dialed 911.

When the police collected him, one of them told her that “Tom” had no less than seventeen warrants out for his arrest for sexual assault, battery, and attempted murder. “You were very lucky, ma’am,” he said. “What gave him away?”

Sam, who was holding Ghost in her arms, snuggled him closer. “My cat. He knew something was up and protected me.”

“Animals will do that, ma’am. They’re sometimes smarter than people,” the officer said. “Lock your doors up tight and take care.”

Sam carried Ghost back in the house. He was purring and rubbing up against her face. She took him into the bathroom and washed the blood from his face and paws. He stayed calm and collected for it. She took him back into the living room and cuddled with him on the couch. She looked into his emerald green eyes. “Thanks, Ghost. I owe you one.”

She could have sworn a soft voice said in the back of her mind, You saved me. Now I’ve saved you.

A storm is coming

silhouette-of-trees-and-lightning-in-dark-sky-during-thunderstorm

Photo via Visualhunt

Esther stood on the front porch, watching the storm as it rolled in. The sun had already gone down and there was only a sliver of the once peaceful summer day visible on the horizon.

“Essie, you should come inside.” The querulous notes of her aging mother’s voice irritated her.

“Mother, I’ve told you not to call me Essie. That was cute when I was five, but I’m thirty seven. Use my given name. And I don’t see the reason I should come in. The storm hasn’t even started yet.”

“Don’t argue with me. You may think you’re all grown up, but you’re still my child and I’ll turn you over my knee if you don’t listen,” her mother said.

Esther snorted. Christine Phillips hadn’t been able to do that in more than twenty five years, once Esther’s height had started catching up to her father rather than her petite mother. Esther’s mother had hated the fact that Esther wasn’t the delicately shaped doll that she wanted.

Esther’s father sighed. Samuel Phillips was a respectable old country doctor who’d long since retired. He was in the rocking chair next to Esther on the porch. “You should listen to her, Esther. Respect your mother, even if she is a screeching harpy.”

“She never let me watch storms out here when I was a kid. I’m not missing this one,” Esther said stubbornly.

“The day a woman doesn’t listen to her mother means the world is ending,” Christine said, her voice going up an octave.

“Mother, I haven’t listened to you in years. The world hasn’t ended yet,” Esther called. Samuel shook his head and puffed on his pipe.

“Sam, don’t you be smoking that nasty stuff with a young lady next to you,” Christine snapped from just inside the door. Samuel dutifully put out the pipe. “Esther Leigh Phillips, you get in this house right now.”

“I’m watching the storm, Mother,” Esther said.

There was a crack of thunder and lightning split the sky. Rain started pouring as if someone had burst a dam. The porch was wet in seconds. Samuel got up quickly and he and Esther hurried inside, both of them drenched.

“I told you this was a bad idea. Look at you. Covered in blood,” Christine said. “Now you’re getting it all over my nice, clean carpet. What is wrong with you two?”

Esther and Samuel looked at each other in confusion, turning to horror when they each took in what they saw. Blood dripped down their faces and their hair, soaked into their clothing, leaving dark red rivulets on the ground behind them.

“What the hell?” Samuel asked.

“The world comes to an end when a daughter doesn’t listen to her mother,” Christine said.