Saturday, January 30, 2016


100 Word ChallengeI'm joining Tara on her inaugural hosting of  the 100 Word Challenge. I think I've missed writing within a specific word count. 

The cellar never bothered her. She wasn’t one to be spooked by dark corners or the peculiar smell of damp dirt. It was the perfect environment for jars of fruits and vegetables preserved for winter use. 

Recently, the trips left her rattled. Small noises emanating from the dark corners. The smell of damp dirt becoming more foul than peculiar.

She stubbornly shook off the idea she was being watched. 

She ignored the tingles down her spine, the raised hair at her nape.

Until she saw the eyes glowing from the dark corner. And the long claws scratching in the dirt.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Running Free

Another stab at Master Class Monday at Our Write Side
Master Class Featured Image

Fiona ran through the forest. A stark landscape of naked trees and fresh snowfall kept her within full view of her pursuers. Her breath blew  puffs of steam as her feet crunched the ice crusted snow. She didn’t dare look behind her. If she could see their eyes she knew it was the end of her run. 

Her feet were numb, the boots not tall enough to keep the snow from soaking her socks. Bushes and fallen branches conspired to throw Fiona to the ground. Fear was her friend, it gave adrenal fueled strength to her tiring legs. But fear couldn’t change the landscape.

While Fiona scanned the ground in front of her, she failed to mark the sudden end of the tree-line. She tumbled down a steep bank and hit the frozen river hard. Scrambling on the icy surface, she regained her feet. Finally, she turned to look behind.

Most of  the hunting party stood at the top of the bank. Two of their number carefully descended to the river’s edge and tested the footing before moving toward her. 

She uttered a hopeless moan, then turned toward the opposite bank. She moved her feet in an awkward sliding run as the watchers laughed at her attempt to elude them. The two behind her didn’t move any faster. As she crossed the center she glanced between her feet and gasped at the view of running water only inches below the ice. 

A groan sounded from beneath, ending her wide eyed stare and she pushed her body forward. Fiona threw herself across the ice as an ear shattering crack echoed along the river. The treacherous heaving of the failing ice propelled her forward. The water roared as the river broke through the frozen blanket. She raced the free flowing water across the ice. The small floe she stood upon tilted back toward the frigid depths. In terror she thrust her arms forward, grasping for a miracle, and found a low-hanging branch. She gripped the rough bark and dragged herself up the empty bank.

Over the sound of the rushing water she heard the screams of the pair that had followed her. Their cries punctuated by fainter curses from the other bank. She looked back as the river embraced the men and carried them downstream. She met the eyes of their captain across the gap, felt the hatred sharp as a physical blow. 

Panting with exhaustion, Fiona broke the gaze and ran into the next forest of naked trees and fresh fallen snow.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Cause Way

She hesitated before she left the bridge a second time. 

The first crossing had led to her destiny. A lifetime of rigorous physical training and endless mental preparation culminated in this second crossing. 

One last step unleashed her upon an unsuspecting world.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

There She Goes Again

I've missed Anne Marie. She whispers to me at night, it's time to let her out for a while.
My offering  for Master Class Monday at Our Write Side

Anne Marie listened intently for a repetition of the cracking of leaves behind her. Though she heard no new sound, she silently circled back. The iron broadsword in her grip hummed in anticipation. She sniffed the air; was that a hint of fresh blood on the breeze? 

From tree to tree she crept forward, homing in on the scent. As she neared her target she heard the whisper of soft breaths. And something else…rhythmic tapping, so soft she almost missed it. 

Anne Marie stopped, a memory tickled at her. A thing forgotten, a thing she needed to know.

She tested the breeze again. The blood odor was thicker and foul. And another smell...sulfur. Her eyebrows rose as well as the hair at the nape of her neck. 

With only the old iron blade, did she dare to confront the thing lying in wait? For it was certainly waiting for her. 

Still soft, the tapping continued, insistent and no longer just ahead but all around. 

‘Too late to turn back,’ she told herself, ‘she knows I’m here.’

Anne Marie stood straight and sheathed the sword. 

Three more steps brought her into the circle. Its guardian smiled a welcome as it beckoned her to the center most spot.

She smirked back at the daemon; it wouldn’t be the first time she'd stood at the crossroad to oblivion. Nor would it be the last.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Listen to the Music

The guests had listened politely throughout his performance. As soon as he finished the final ballad the serving girls immediately entered and placed platters on the long table. Gaddy noticed the food was carefully arranged to give the appearance of great bounty. The king’s guests served themselves sparingly, yet the platters barely fed the entire table. The talk at the table was low and stilted.

He wrapped his harp and retrieved his cloak, then Gaddy took a moment to look out a window at the courtyard below. Figures in tattered cloaks and dirty blankets huddled around small campfires, leaning close to one another against cold. Women doled out bits of bread to solemn faced children, then shared what was left with their men.

“They came for my protection.”

Gaddy turned, startled by the voice and its owner, he made a deep bow as he spoke, “Sire.”

The old king answered, “Stand up lad, I’m not above you, nor those gathered below. I have failed them. He leaned on the stone casement, staring at the crowded courtyard.

Gaddy stood silently next to his king, an old man struggling with a war not of making and the impact it was having on the people he’d sworn to protect. He could see tears in the king’s eyes, the droop of shoulders not strong enough to bear the pain.

“Go play for them, Harper. Play them songs of courage and strength. Of hopes fulfilled.” The king turned to Gaddy, “Give them a tiny time of enchantment to pass the night. Make them believe tomorrow will be better.”

“Will it be better, your Majesty?”

“Perhaps if they believe…it will be.”

Gaddy wrapped his cloak about his shoulders and made his way to the courtyard. He walked among the people noting hollow eyes and mournful faces. A small girl with her thumb stuck into her mouth followed his progress with a curious gaze. He gave her a small smile and sat a few yards away. He unwrapped the harp and plucked a string. The tone attracted the attention of the closest groups.

The little girl stared at him, her thumb still tucked securely between her lips. He plucked a second note, an infant chortled in reply from another huddle of folk, quickly hushed by its mother. Gaddy pulled another string encouraging the babe to answer. When it did, he played another.

The little girl removed her thumb and laughed at the game, her mother allowed herself a small smile. Gaddy strummed across the harp causing more heads to turn and scattered giggles to surface. As the children moved closer he picked out a tune and stomped his foot. With the next notes the children stomped along. Men loosened their frowns and clapped in time. Mothers holding children swayed in rhythm.

An old man in a patched cloak, hat pulled low over his face, sat down next to Gaddy with a small drum. As the song progressed the drummer kept time, more of the folk clapped cold hands or stomped tired feet. Laughter became the lyrics as the children danced in circles with each other.

Music rang through the courtyard and warmth pushed away the chill of evening. The drummer stood and invited Gaddy to join him as he walked a path toward the castle doors. Gaddy hesitated; his fellow lifted the brim of his hat and winked. Gaddy nodded and followed, motioning the folk to come along. As they approached the steps the doors swung wide and the musicians and their parade danced into the hall.

Gaddy saw the table had been refilled with breads and bruised fruit. The king’s guard attended, handing out the fare as Gaddy and his drummer led the folk around them. He played every spring and summer tune he knew and when he had played them all, he started over.

Children raced each other from one end of the hall to the other, women and men gathered at the edges laughing and cheering them on. As night fell, Gaddy slowed his fingers bringing toddlers back to their parents. Families gathered in groups as serving women delivered blankets from the great bedrooms of the castle.

The drummer set his instrument aside as Gaddy played lullabies and watched children nod into sleep with smiles still on their faces. When the harp finally silenced, the only sound was the breath of those sleeping

Gaddy turned to the drummer whose eyes were drooping into slumber, “Good night…your Majesty,” he whispered.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016


Linking again with Master Class Monday at Our Write Side with a bit of bizarre art.

Buddy supposed he ought to clean out the cellar. He'd left it it go far too long. It was part of the job he wasn’t going enjoy. The rest of the work was so fascinating. Watching the process happen kept him rapt with wonder and fair amount of pride.

The steps he followed with such meticulous care, from choosing the perfect specimen to knowing when to end the project. Over thinking and the subsequent tweaking had been the source of much disappointment early in his career.

Now he knew when to leave it alone and let nature finish the job. That was so evident in his latest work. Buddy stood in front of his masterpiece basking in the pleasure that results from a job well done.

He wanted desperately to share this one, it was that damned good.

Before he could set up the display he would absolutely have to dispose of the others. They would be too shoddy next to his latest.

He sucked a deep breath of resolve and grabbed his cleaning supplies along with a large stack of trash bags then bounded down the steps.

When Buddy flicked the light on its glow shone on the tangled pile stored in the corner. He released a sad sigh at the sight. How could he ever have thought them beautiful.

He reached the first of the pile. He'd had hope for this one. Her petite frame and sassy red hair had survived the drying process well, but as time went on her skin had continued to shrink. The result was protruding joints, particularly knees and elbows. As she shrunk, her body hair proved to be difficult to maintain.

He shook his head, over thinking had been his downfall. As he toiled through the pile he giggled. His works resembled a mound of gnarled monkeys. Knobby joints on withered limbs covered in coarse hair.

He had finally realized the obvious, remove the hair right after death. And the most important part, make sure to let them drink all the water they wanted before killing them. Keep that hide plumped and then dry them out slowly. That kept the natural shrinkage to a minimum.

Yes by golly, the round figured blond upstairs was the perfect specimen. The rest? Well, they'd just have to go.