Family Road Trip

“Bobby was sleeping on the snow wrapped in his cloak. The wind whispered through the dark, empty trees like a warning in a foreign language. Winter was coming, and with winter…”

“Stop it!” I yelled at Bobby again for what felt like the fifteenth time. We were in the back seat of our parent’s car traveling across country on another ‘fun family adventure.’

My little brother was pretending he was a ranger in Game of Thrones. I didn’t want to listen to him narrate his adventure in third person anymore. Not only did he constantly pretend to be a part of his favorite show, but he always talked in third person. He was driving me crazy. The only thing worse than mandatory family fun was being stuck in the car in 110 degree weather with my little brother.

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“As Bobby lay shivering in his cloak. He could feel eyes watching him.”

“Bobby!” I yelled again. “Mom! Please make him stop.”

“Bobby stop bothering your sister.” My mom said as she continued to read from the romance novel clutched in her hand.

Bobby crossed his arms and glared at me.

I just glared back. I decided to ignore him for now and tried to focus on whatever we were rushing past outside the car.

“Here’s our stop.” My dad said as he pulled the car next to a gas pump. “Everyone out. Pee and get drinks and snacks. Next stop wont’ be for awhile.”

I got out into the heat and was blinded by the sun reflecting off the tin roof of the nearby convenient store. I walked around the car and bumped into Bobby.

“Bobby awoke the next day…”

I just shook my head as I walked past him and into the store.

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Story of the Month Club Continues…

It is May 17th!! And as usual, I am behind this month! The end of the school year is approaching and the weather has finally turned nice enough to go outside. I admit I am easily distracted when the sun is shining. I spend a lot less time inside by my laptop. Lately I can be found on the front porch reading instead. (I am also hiding from doing housework because if I’m not in the house, I don’t feel obligated to do it).

complete the story

Anyway, before I go much more into how I’ve been playing hooky from my chores, here is this month’s prompt:

“The whispered through the dark, empty trees like a warning in a foreign language. Winter was coming, and with winter…”

I admit when I read this one, I have a hard time not thinking of Game of Thrones. We’ll see what I finally come up with by the end of this month.

Before we press forward, however, I want to briefly address my story from last month — Unicorns Are Really Vampires. I can’t wait to share what I’m adding to that story. I don’t know how much longer I intend to make it, but I am very excited about it. When I get it to what I consider it’s completion, I will post the final version.

Happy writing and reading this month and every day!!!

Unicorns are Really Vampires

“How did you know?” I asked, not sure I wanted the answer. I thought I had been careful. I thought she would never understand. My mom was not supposed to find out about my hobby. I tried my best to keep it a secret.

“They’re evil,” she said as she pointed at the jar of pig’s blood in my hands.

“They are not evil,” I said. “They can’t help what they eat.” I tucked the jar into my backpack and swung in onto my shoulder.

“If anyone else finds out you’ve been feeding them, you’ll be in trouble,” my mother said with arms crossed firmly across her chest.

I got on my bike and rode off down the road toward the cove. Being near the ocean was the one thing I loved about the small, dying town we lived in. What once was a thriving part of the country was quickly being abandoned for the safety of the Midwest. Everyone who still lived here couldn’t afford to buy their way into the safe zones. These days, living inside a walled community came with a hefty price tag.

Towns like this were dangerous. The creatures were out of control in most areas. Our town had its fair share of attacks, but no one had died in many years. Still, feeding some of them would get me in a lot of trouble.

I honestly didn’t see the harm in it. Not all of them were evil. The fact that they lived on blood was not their fault. They couldn’t help what they were.

After I left my bike against a tree, I made my way quickly down to the water. I hadn’t seen them in a week, and I was beginning to wonder if they were coming back. As I scrambled down the rocky shore, I saw them sun bathing. My heart began to race and I couldn’t help but smile. They were amazing. No matter what others said, I would always be in love with these majestic beings.

Before the veil failed and all the magical beings could be seen by everyone, no one knew that mermaids were vampiric. I actually remember my mother telling me stories about fairies, vampires, leprechauns, unicorns, and of course mermaids, when I was little. The stories were about their magic and beauty and sometimes mischievous nature. Boy did the stories get it wrong!

It turns out all the mythical beings that we were so sure were fictional turned out to be real. They had lived alongside us all along, and on rare occasions, they would show themselves to someone and another story would be born.

What the stories also got wrong was that most of the mythical creatures only crossed the veil that hid them from us so that they could go hunting. Most of them live on flesh, not necessarily humans, but they found it easier to gather food when they were fully in our realm.

It turns out, mermaids are real, and they drink blood. Which it turns out is hard to come by in the ocean. They used to feed on unlucky sailors whenever they could. A little land dweller blood will sustain them for a long time. They seem to be quite content with the pig’s blood I bring them.

Mermaid_by_Zyklon8B

The other creatures behind the veil were different than we believed them to be too. Leprechauns feed on metal which is easy to come by, and fairies eat bugs mostly.

So why are they in our world now? 10 years ago, the veil that hid them failed when their king died. The magical creatures are basically immortal, but something happened to their king, something that none of them understands. And without him powering the veil, it will not return. The problem is not with the little magical creatures. The problem is the creatures that the veil kept completely hidden from our world. The ones the king protected humans from. Those are the ones we have to worry about.

Dragons. They are a big problem. They love to destroy things. When the veil failed, they laid waste to most major cities.

The worst though are the unicorns. Unicorns, like mermaids, are blood-suckers. Unicorns it turns out are where the idea of vampires come from. Unicorns are shape-shifters. They glamour themselves into looking like humans and then drink blood. The problem is that once a unicorn drinks human blood it doesn’t want to be a majestic horse anymore — it just wants to feed.

hello_unicorn_by_scarypet-d6vodh2

Quarterly Check In

It’s April!! And this month I am determined to get things done sooner rather than later. So, with that in mind, here is this month’s short story prompt:

“How did you know?” I asked, not sure I wanted the answer. I thought I had been careful. I thought she…

If you want to write a story too, let me know and I will happily share it at the end of the month when I post my own.

At this point, we are 25% through 2018! Which seems crazy. This year is going really fast for me. My goal this year is to write a short story every month. To date, my stories are:

January’s story: We Found Oil

February’s story: A Mage Like Any Other

March’s story: Crash Site

I have managed to post at least one story and two other posts each month and for now, I am sticking with that goal. One of my other yearly goals is to complete at least 1/2 of my novel. I am aiming for 100,000 words for it. It is currently at 26,000 in length. Hopefully I can reach that goal too.

How about you? How are your goals going?

Another goal I always set each year is a reading goal, and I am sad to say that in the last 3 years I have not reached my goal. I get pretty close but have not actually finished. This year my goal is 45 books. I have already read 13 this year, so I have a really good feeling about this year’s chances.

Well, that’s enough from me for now.

Happy reading and writing this month!

muse

Crash Site

I’ve lived in this town my whole life, and most of the time that’s fine by me. But in late fall when the sky fills with birds migrating south for the winter, traveling thousands of miles, I get homesick for places I’ve never been. Places like Egypt, Rome, Paris, anywhere but here.

In this town, every day is the same. I’ve known everyone here my whole life. No one ever leaves this place and no one ever comes here to stay. We get a fair number of tourists, but even that number dwindles every year. What used to bring people here just isn’t that exciting anymore. In a few more years, this town will be relegated to the same status as the “Home of the World’s Biggest Ball of Yarn” or “The World’s Largest Rocking Chair.” It will be another roadside attraction that collects dust and a sometimes road trip stop for hipsters and low-income families.

I was born after the crash, so to me, the site is nothing more than a local landmark. Since the crash site is damn near the center of town anyway, it provides a really useful directional tool for giving directions. “Take a right at the crash.” Or, “Left past the crash and then there’s the Piggly Wiggly.” I don’t think many people really think about what the crash represents anymore; for better or worse, it’s become a backdrop to our everyday lives.

The crash in our town was one of the early ones, which is what garnered it the little bit of fame it does have. It’s also one of the most intact sites still in existence; the others have been pilfered by tourists, the government, and collectors.

When I say that most people don’t think about the crash much, that of course doesn’t count the exception to that rule — the TRUE EARTHERS. They are a fanatical group born out of the time following the aliens coming to Earth. Once the crashes started becoming a frequent thing, international forces rallied together and negotiated with the incoming aliens. And despite the majority of people wanting to handle things peacefully, there were those who opposed the diplomatic approach.

Early on it was clear that the aliens meant no harm. The crashes were their ships malfunctioning entering our atmosphere. Ships that arrived later landed successfully and brought a small number of aliens to live among us. They now live among us and for the most part it’s a peaceful existence.

But that doesn’t mean that everyone likes them here. As I said, the True Earthers would like to kill all the aliens. They don’t believe we should share our planet. They believe the aliens are just the first of many invaders.

And today must be my lucky day because as I’m standing at the diner counter, in walks the head of the local chapter of True Earthers. I close my eyes and wish to be anywhere but here. All I can think is please let me really be sipping coffee in Paris or standing in the dry air of the Sahara. Anywhere but here. I hear Dirk walk through the door and make his way to his usual table where two others are waiting for him. I muster my patience as best I can and grab a menu.

“Here you are, Dirk. Would you like to hear the specials?” I ask.

He looks up at me slowly and snatches the menu from me. “No specials. I will look at the menu for a bit. Scurry along little worker bee.”

“Just let me know when you are ready to order.” I walk away but don’t’ return to my place behind the counter. Instead, I head in the back to the kitchen. I wave at the cooks as I pass through to the dish room. There is my best friend, and one of the few aliens who still lives in our town.

“Guess who is here, worker bee?” I say loaded with sarcasm.

At the sound of my voice, Glek looks up. He grins in that overly toothy way that all his kind do. He looks like your stereotypical “little gray man.” Except, I wouldn’t call him little; he is actually a couple of inches taller than me. He is just absurdly skinny. The other exception to the “gray men” stereotype is that the aliens who landed on Earth don’t have solid black eyes. Like us, they have pupils and irises. Glek has blue eyes like me. It’s one of the reasons he and I became friends in kindergarten.

Glek and I always mimic the weird linguistic choices of the True Earthers. We both find their terminology ridiculous. True Earthers refer to non-threatening non-believers, like me, as worker bees. I don’t know why they use bee hive terminology as part of their belief system, but they do.

“Well, little worker bee, you could always say you have a head ache and go home. Just don’t deal with him today.” When Glek started talking, he was grinning, but that changed as he went on. He knew that Dirk and I didn’t get along.

“Not a bad idea.” I said. But I sighed and added, “I need the money though.”

Glek nodded his understanding, “Don’t we all, little bee.”

“See you later. I better get back out there.” I said as I left the dish room and returned to the front of the diner.

The rest of my shift was mostly uneventful. Dirk was in a more pleasant mood than usual and didn’t harass me. He didn’t even use one derogatory term to refer to me, which he did on most occasions because I was friends with Glek.  At the end of my shift, I waited out by my car for Glek. He was coming over to watch the newest episode of our favorite show.

As Glek came out of the restaurant a large truck came around the side of the building. I looked up and Glek hurried over to me.

“Get in the car and get out of here.” He told me as he practically shoved me in the car.

I pushed back. “No. I will not leave you here alone.”

By this point, the truck had pulled up and was blocking the only route out of the parking lot anyway. The engine remained on as three True Earthers hopped out of the truck. All of them were carrying bats of one sort or another. Dirk, their fearless leader, was carrying a cricket bat.

“Where the hell did he get a cricket bat?” I said not really processing yet what the purpose of the bat might be.

Dirk and his goons came closer. When they were about 20 paces away, Dirk said, “Runaway little worker bee.”

Instead I stepped closer to Glek until we were shoulder to shoulder. I looked at him and said, “Not running.”

Glek just nodded at me.

What happened next was not surprising. They beat us. I blacked out and the last thing I saw as I slid onto the pavement was Glek next to me oozing green blood.

We both woke up a few days later. We were hospitalized for some time before we could get around again. As soon as we were able, we gathered up everything we owned and drove out of that town.

Dirk and his men didn’t get in any trouble even though everyone knows who beat us. As we left town, I could see the crash site in the rear-view window. I hoped it would be that last time I would ever see that site again.

 

 

The Weird Tale Inspires

iwritebecause

What influences your writing?

I am an avid reader, and I try to read a variety of genres. I have noticed for my short story writing that my leisure reading is definitely influencing my story each month. Last month, my story was about a mage. And no surprise, 3 of the 4 books I read last month would fit into the fantasy genre.

This month, my story is coming along nicely. I have mostly been reading sci-fi this month. So once again, no surprise, my story is reflecting that. The first time I sat down to work on my rough draft that’s where my brain went.

So, my question is, what influences you? What do you find inspiring? Where do you turn when you are feeling blocked?

In the past, one of my biggest sources of inspiration has been a particular type of short story — THE WEIRD TALE. If you have ever read “weird tales” you will automatically understand why they are so inspiring. They are bizarre in an unexplainable way. In fact, the best definition of what makes a weird tale is “you’ll know it when you read it.” I don’t know what it is about this particular type of story, but anytime I feel that I can’t think of an idea or if I get bogged down on a story I am already working on, I read a weird tale or two and it unlocks the creative part of my brain.

So here’s to whatever inspires you!

Happy writing and reading every day!

A Mage Like Any Other

Perhaps it was a dream, she thought. Perhaps if she pinched herself, she would wake up. But she didn’t want to wake up. She wanted to stay in this dream world where she is a mage.

Females don’t get to be mages. Only men are born with the ability to wield magic. Nora wasn’t supposed to be a mage, but she was. Today and the days she had spent at the Magic Academy didn’t seem real so far. Any second now someone would change their mind and she wouldn’t be allowed to stay. She knew this couldn’t be true. 

But it was. And everyone was scrambling to discover how this had happened, but she already knew the answer. It was probably because she was a girl or maybe because she was a mage-in-training, but no one believed her when she told them she thought she knew why. Oh well. Guess they could keep looking forever then. She was determined to enjoy being here, no matter what. 

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6 months prior to their 16th birthday, twins Aron and Nora were out doing exactly what they were not supposed to be doing. They were climbing the rocky hillside in search of a mountain cat. Lately their family’s farm was the target of one particularly aggressive cat who had already eaten enough chickens according to their papa. The twins were usually doing things in direct defiance to the instructions given by their parents, but the idea of getting in trouble never stopped either of them from being reckless. 

Mountain-Lion

Just that morning before they set out into the hillside forest, their mother stopped them in the kitchen. 

“Stay off the hills today, ” she said. “Your father is going into town to hire a mage to cast a locating spell for that mountain cat. Stay close by. You know how I feel about spellcasting.” 

Their mother was a typical country farm wife. She didn’t like messing with magic; you just couldn’t trust things you can’t explain. Despite her dislike of magic, the twins had been sent to the closest town school until the age of 14. Most farm children didn’t get that kind of education. Farm kids were usually taught to read and write at home with some basic math thrown in by their parents. The twins knew things the other farm children didn’t. Many times throughout their childhood, their curious nature combined with wanting to prove their knowledge to their peers had led to them getting into all sorts of mischief. 

Today was another one of those days. There had been a gathering last night of the farms surrounding theirs, and all the fathers had been there. Tomas arrived with his father; they lived on a neighboring sheep ranch. They too had trouble with the mountain cat. 

The twins and Tomas sat on the wagons listening to their dads come up with a plan. 

“Something must be done, ” said Lucas, Tomas’s father. 

There were lots of nods and staring at boots. 

Nora and Aron’s father spoke up. Seeing as it was his farm, he thought he should take the lead. 

“We could gather up some weapons and go after it.” Fewer nods followed this comment. “However, I think that’s a bad idea. We all know what happened to Pete Delray when he and his men went after a cat a couple of years ago.” 

There was again fervent nodding, and one very quiet, “Rest his soul” was murmured. 

“I propose we all donate a small amount and hire that new mage in town to locate it for us,” said their father. 

All eyes were on their father now. “Well…” began Lucas. 

Before he could finish their father interrupted, “Now, now Lucas. Before you object. I know how some of you feel about messing with magic, but it could save us a lot of trouble.”

The men stopped shifting and started to listen. 

Their father continued, “We hire the mage. He locates the cat. We leave out some poison meat. In a few days we go back and check. But if all goes well, problem solved with no loss of human life.” 

The men looked at each other uncertainly. 

Over on the wagons, the three teens were discussing the situation as well. 

“I bet we could find it and poison it without having to use a locating spell, ” said Aron. 

“Yeah, we go all over the hills. It has to be in a cave or something. We could poison it and bring it back to dad, he would be impressed, ” chimed in Nora. 

Tomas was shaking his head. “You two are asking for trouble. Your dad is not going to like it. Besides, how you going to poison it? You don’t even know about poison.”

“Do too, ” the twins said in unison. 

“We read all about poisons in the library at school, ” said Aron. 

And that’s why they were in the hills today. They had a pretty good idea where to find the mountain cat. There was a cave that used to be empty, but now when they were near it, there was a smell. 

They were approaching the cave and both twins got very quiet. Nora and Aron didn’t really need to talk to communicate anyway. Their parents thought the two could read others minds. They couldn’t; they were just in tune to one another in a way people didn’t understand. 

As they came upon the last group of trees before the cave, they both stopped and got behind the largest trunks they could. Nora looked over at Aron. He just nodded and slowly crouched down and peered around his hiding spot. 

He posed crouched for what felt like hours, but was only a matter of seconds. He was looking to see if the cat was anywhere in sight. Nora relaxed without even looking at him; the moment his tension left his body, she felt it. She joined him in a crouched position peering towards the cave. 

Aron motioned towards the silent dark opening, and Nora began to edge forward with the bag of poisoned meat. She was just going to drop it outside the cave entrance. After all, the cat would be along sooner or later and would be hungry. It would eat it on its own. 

As she was placing the meat on the ground, she felt her brother tense again. She looked towards him. The cat was between him and her and looking right at her. 

She didn’t move. There was no way she could outrun the cat. In that moment, she didn’t even think to be afraid. All she thought was, “Why is it just sitting there looking at me?” 

She still didn’t move. She didn’t blink, and she did her best not to breathe.

Maybe she was afraid. She felt time stretching endlessly and could think of no way to break the spell she seemed to be frozen in. 

In the end, she didn’t have to. Aron came running around the cat and grabbed the meat out of her hands. The cat was definitely interested in a chase over the paralyzed target. The cat took off after Aron. In less than 5 bounds on its great paws, it took him down. 

Nora didn’t want to look, but she did. She saw Aron holding onto the poison meat, making sure that if the cat was going to eat him, it was going to eat that too. 

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Nora was unconscious for the better part of a week. When she awoke, she knew Aron was gone. She looked around her room, which looked the same as the last time she saw it. She quietly got out of bed and walked outside. She stepped off the porch and dropped to her knees. 

After falling on the ground, she screamed. And as she screamed, thunder rolled in. Lightening began to strike everywhere around her without actually hitting her. 

Days later when the farmers ran into one another and discussed that day, it wasn’t the weather they mentioned; it was the screaming. They say they could hear her over 5 miles away. 

farm storm