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the trees

Harriet did not like trees. There was something sinister about how they leaned, silently observing, refusing to intercede. Oh you might see a branch sway, perhaps get a pinecone dropped on your head, but beyond that, nothing.

Mama said trees were an allegory about the insignificance of man. Insignificance, Harriet understood.

Trees lined the road Harriet walked every day, and as she marched past, with hood drawn up and eyes narrowed, she’d hear them whisper. She listened to their vulgar murmurs with gritted teeth, and stayed in the center of the road.

“I don’t trust you either,” she whispered back.

(Written for The PredictionChallenge words: allegory, trust, vulgar)

drinking with Mama

The coffee percolates on the table, dripping black into Mama’s favorite mug. I dump the grounds in the trash, avoiding your eyes, and wrap my fingers around the cracked, cactus-covered porcelain.

“You have to talk to me,” you say.

I think about pouring gin into my coffee, and when I look up, I know you’ve read my mind.

You look sad, and I almost hate you for it. “Let her go, Waverly. It’s been months.”

I open my mouth, but Mama scowls at me from behind your shoulder.

“Let her go,” she says.

I sigh. If only dead meant dead.

(Written for The PredictionChallenge words: cactus, gin, percolate)

rendal

Cass was regretfully introduced to the feckless Rendal the following day, when she was compelled to firmly dissuade an errant hand on her backside with a few choice words, and a firmly-wielded dagger.

He was greasy and unkempt, with long, blond lashes that fluttered and clumped around his bloodshot eyes. Apparently given to ear-grating tautology, Rendal babbled endless excuses and apologies, until Cass cut him off with a firm wiggle of the blade.

“Sir,” she said, narrowing her eyes as his mouth gaped in a silent yawn. “Perhaps your energy would be better spent on catching the Red Lady’s killer.”

Continuation of The Red Lady

(Written for The PredictionChallenge words: grease, tautology, yawn)

the red lady

The Red Lady of Venice lay dead in the street. Someone had covered her with a black cloak, but Cass could still see dark red curls from beneath the hood. The crowd was hushed, and anger filled more than a few faces.

Though new to the city, even Cass had heard of her. It seemed impossible anyone would wish her harm.

“It’s an execution,” a gruff voice said behind her.

“Who would dare?” a woman whispered.

“The Elorians would do this. Cut out our heart.”

“Rendal…”

“Is a feckless bastard. She’ll never be avenged while he’s in charge.”

(Written for The PredictionChallenge words: execute, feckless, Venice)

eyesore (from issue 19 at 101fiction)

I’m excited to announce that I’m included in the newly released Issue 19 at 101Fiction. Check out Eyesore, my 100 word story about coming nose to nose with a faerie, and while you’re there, enjoy the full collection of stories.

Here’s a short excerpt from my piece –

My mama left me three things – a temper, hotter than a supernova, a Tedaskerian saw-blade that can mince bone, and a small, rowan-wood pendant, shaped like a peach pit.

therapy

I can see the twitch beginning in the thick of your brow, as your eyes tighten and narrow. Your lips part, purse, then close. You decide to stay silent, and drum your fingers on the beer-stained coasters dividing the space between us.

You’ve modeled a therapist’s face of support and understanding for so many others, that you default to it automatically with me, despite how unnatural it is between us.

I speak first, and smile around my words. “It’s true. I kill people for money.” I adjust the gun beneath the table, as awareness bleeds the color from your cheeks.

(Written for The PredictionChallenge words: divide, model, speak)

taking the long way

Whoever said the real treat was the journey and not the destination, had likely never spent a week wading through Hayborthien crap.

Jaes had plugged her nose with strips of cloth on day one, but she could still smell the sickly-sweet stench. The yellow sludge was everywhere. It sloshed into her boots and coated her thighs with every step.

At nightfall they climbed into the bleached trees and prayed a sleepy turn wouldn’t dump them into the muck below.

Daav had chosen this lovely, surreptitious route, and Jaes might have murdered him if it didn’t mean more to carry.

(Written for The PredictionChallenge words: destination, plug, surreptitious)

inflight entertainment

“Mention Saturnia one more time and I swear I’ll jettison your ass.” Xata hovered her index finger over a button on the console, and waggled it threateningly.

“Touchy, touchy.” Pell held up his hands. “You know, you’ve threatened me with that at least twenty times.”

“Doesn’t speak well about your performance.”

“Or your leadership.”

Xata grunted and jabbed the button, calling up the fuel display. “We have to stop at Timus to refuel.”

“Ugh, that place smells terrible.”

“Well half their population is dead, so…”

“Our cargo. You open it?”

“Open the mysterious sarcophagus with the biohazard symbol? Hell yes.”

(Written for The PredictionChallenge words: grunt, jettison, Saturn)

combust

The men toppled like fallen trees, limbs twisting grotesquely, as Bristol’s magic ran wild across the battlefield. Her own scream heralded the sounds of the dying into the sky.

Aledorain felt his eardrums pop, as he grabbed onto Bristol’s ankle. He tried to haul himself towards her, like a dying man to shore, grunting as thorns scaled her skin and pricked his palms. His shield shuddered, as more power exploded from her. A fledgling though she was, for a moment Aledorain felt his death.

“Bristol, stop! Transfer it to me!”

It was too late. She was already gone.

(Written for The PredictionChallenge words: fledgling, prick, transfer)

more than flesh

He leans into my pelvis, and I imagine I’m lying beneath a mountain. I think about the weight of stone, and the intimate tangle of root and dirt. I think about the heat from sunlight melting down the cragged peak, and the bone-deep chill of snow, when the light is gone.

He shifts again, rolling back to his side. “Sorry love, not in commission,” he says absently, misreading the look in my eyes, as he returns to his phone.

I think of yesterday, of heat and ice and weight, of wildness. I close my eyes, and leave the room behind.

(Written for The PredictionChallenge words: commission, pelvis, yesterday)