Songbird In Chains

This was written for today’s Thursday Threads.  Do you have around 100 words you want to share today? Go check it out. 


 

“Extermination would be far simpler,” the Arkhani prince murmured, his opinion lost under the swish of the door that closed behinGolden Caged the ship’s commander.

“What do you mean?” I blurted, forgetting my place even though the dangling chains on my wrists should have reminded me. In Arkhana, even the storytellers were slaves.

The prince’s black eyes bored into mine for a moment before I dropped my gaze. He took a step closer and I trembled.  Had my insolence finally pushed him too far?

“Training Srinja wildlings is costly.” Luckily, his voice held tolerant amusement. “They are hopelessly backward.”

“There is always hope, my lord,” I murmured unable to quell my compassion for victims of Arkhani aggression.

Though he’d never been cruel, I cringed as long dark fingers brushed my chin. Timidly, I met his curious stare. “True bards never look reality in the eye, do they?” Something primal swam in his angular smile making my heart skip. “But you have won, my songbird. I shall let them.”

“Work?”

“Or starve. As they choose.”  He glanced down at my fettered wrists, then said. “You know this has nothing to do with you.”

“Doesn’t it?”

Surprise softened his voice. “How could it?  You do not work and…” His thumb caressed my cheek. “I would never let you starve.”   The yearning that smoldered in his eyes was unmistakable and far more terrifying than any whip.

For a slave to love their master was expected, but a master’s love could be deadly.

 

 Word count: 248    Illustration via iStockphoto.

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Throwback Thursday Flash: Posterity, Incorporated

This, my friends, has to be one of my favorites.  It was originally written for Siobhan Muir‘s ThursdayThreads.  Hope you like it, too.

Posterity, Incorporated

She remembered the way he introduced himself, self-deprecating and almost proper: “I’m Charles Anderson, the scientist; and you are lovely.”

Posterity Inc. had told her he was an unusual case. They didn’t tell her he was tall, clean-cut and subtly magnetic. His nearness unbalanced her and she had almost bungled the interview by tripping over her chair trying to maintain a professional distance.

“I’m terminal, not contagious.” He had laughed, white teeth flashing between boyish dimples.

The interview lasted over an hour, discussing genotype and probability. He was so blessedly – normal. When it was time to make her decision, he had strolled behind her chair, suave as James Bond.

“I may be dying, but I assure you I can still do this.” His hand traced the line of her biceps in one teasing stroke, brushing her breast in passing. A palpable thrill flushed her cheeks. She noted the smoky intensity of his intelligent grey eyes.  “I would like something more than a Chuck-was-here sign. Do we have a deal, Ms. Bruckner?”

She hadn’t spoken, only nodded.

Sweeping her hair from her neck, he had placed delicate kisses from shoulder to ear, sending erotic heat to her very core. One night of primal lust and erotic rhythms, just one, and her job was done.

Pregnant-at-40-240x300That was eight months ago.

Gliding her hand lovingly over her rounded abdomen and the tiny elbow within, she had to agree it was a much better monument than a cold stone in a manicured cemetery.

Throwback Flash: Gypsy Gold

Just a bit late today. Been one of those weeks.  This was written in 2012 for A Tale From Behind The Curtains blog hop.  Enjoy!

Gypsy Gold

“Gypsy gold does not clink and glitter. It gleams in the sun and neighs in the dark.”

The ceremony was bohemian and exotic and a far different future than I’d pictured for myself before Madame Romani and Midnight’s performance under the big top. The whole troupe gathered around the bonfire and Jafri and I exchanged vows. Under the furtive scrutiny of clowns, we sipped bittersweet wine and danced.iStock_000006785128_Medium

I had been enthralled by Madame’s sequined costume and magnificent Friesian, all black-feathered hooves and solid flanks, and I told her I’d give anything to be her.

“Said the same thing myself once,” she reminisced, older under the greasepaint than I’d have guessed. “But what of your swarthy young man?”  She nodded to where Jafri waited for me.

“I love him, but my family doesn’t. They left New York after 911 to get away from ….”

“…Arabs.” Her gypsy eyes took Jafri’s measure.  “My father did not approve my choice either.”

“What happened?”

Mischievous, she’d whispered. “We eloped.”

Eloped.  Already drunk with dancing, my laughter bubbled over like champagne. I lost myself in Jafri’s kisses and the pleasures of our first night.

I awoke at dawn to terrified neighs, banging metal, and Jafri gone.  Shoving legs into jeans, I found Madame standing in the yard by an old horse trailer, a new halter in her hand. 

“Quickly Jess, you must calm him before he’s injured.” Frantic whinnies accompanied the scuffle of panicked hooves. She pushed the halter into my hands. Continue reading “Throwback Flash: Gypsy Gold”

#TBT Flash: Rusted Love

 

rusted love

RUSTED LOVE

by Stacy Bennett

I loved him. So Pa hated him. My James Dean, my rebel prince of Levi’s and Marlboros. My sixteenth summer was hot as hell – full of skinny-dipping, stolen kisses and beer.

Boy, did I love him.

We left his old Chevy, stalled out in the back forty while we shimmied through the fence, snagging our ratty tees on the wire, laughing like drunks. We were drunk, on love and impending freedom.

It’s probably still there, rusted-out like my heart.  Lost in the tall grass, full of empty beer cans, cigarette stubs and disappointed dreams.  I loved him; but things change.

 


Picture courtesy of Madison Woods borrowed from Friday Fictioneers circa 2012

 

#TBT Flash: Love at the End of the World

My first attempt at “dieselpunk” in 2012 went pretty well.  Something about it reminds me of my dad.  So, for your reading pleasure, here it is.  

 

Love at the End of the World

by Stacy BennettSchwerer Bomber Me 264

The operation was a ‘go’ and I’d already silenced the five lucky Jerries in the control tower.  I’m a real lady sometimes, giving them a clean death in the face of what was coming. The hangar was full of planes, silent and dark except for the eerie glow emanating from the nose of the biggest Messerschmitt ever made, the Amerika Bomber.  I wondered if it was my team on board, or the Fremdblut.  I shivered. I’d rather dance with Gestapo than meet one of the Others.  Drawing my Steyr from its thigh-holster, I climbed in the half-open bomb bay door.  Amerika was empty, except for a voice. 

“Ilday jayso. Ayeshi ahdeeltahi nanijih.”  Navajo by the sound of it.  I lowered my piece and walked up behind the man in the borrowed blood-stained flightsuit working the radio.

“Nanijih, netah,” it sputtered back.

He clicked it off. “Fuckin’ banzai, my ass.”  

“You seem to be missing a few folk.”  My voice split the silence like a bomb blast. I was equally shell-shocked as he whirled to face me, a Mauser in each hand aimed at my heart.  The heart he’d already broken once.  Cagney himself had nothing on Maj. Jack Richards.

“Emily?”  Disbelief washed across his face. I felt like Scrooge when Marley’d come a-haunting.

“Butterfly white she wore her wings.”  My code phrase.

“But lost the sparrow to flight.”   The correct reply.  Gears turned as he decided whether to trust me. Jack had always been suspicious. And handsome.  And stupid in a typically clumsy male way. “They said that you — ” 

“I know.”  I turned away, not wanting to hear the official cover. Only betrayal could have gotten me undercover this deep, deep enough to see the end. I steeled myself, cleared my throat. “They probably said lots of things, Major.  Now, where’s my team?” 

“Dead.”  He must’ve decided I was on the up-and-up because he holstered his guns. I heard him approach and turned to find him close enough to dance with.  Like that night in Casteau.  “Our orders now are bang-and-burn, Em.”

I froze.  All thoughts of the past blew away like cinders as I stared into the desolate future. 

“Jack. They loaded Big Boy this morning.”

“The final prototype? But our orders– “

“Come from men who don’t know what they’re up against.  With Los Alamos destroyed, Oppenheimer and Groves assassinated. We need this.  This can kill them.”

 “Them?”

“Remember those RAF boys Churchill said were liars? Well, they weren’t.”

“Are you saying—“

“It’s War of the Worlds. They’ve already taken the Fuhrer.”

“But he broadcast tonight.”

“A Fremdblut, doppelganger, whatever you call ‘em.  Others might be compromised, too.  Damn Jerries traded concentration camp inmates for the bomb.” I leaned against his solid chest, letting the scents of diesel and grease take me back to that place we’d felt safe. “Our world’s about to end, Jack.”

“Shit.” He pulled away, scrubbed his face and pinched the bridge of his nose, scowling like he’d pulled a six instead of an ace.sky

He looked ragged,tired, frayed at the edges like a faded old red-white-and-blue but there was still hero in him. I touched his cheek and forced his dark eyes to mine. Who would have thought he’d be the only thing that mattered to me when it all came down around our ears?  “You could fly it out, Jack. The tower’s already down.”

“Timeout.   I still don’t understand why you vanished. Roy was crushed.”

“Roy? You wanna talk about Roy?” I shoved him away with rusty anger.

“You two were– “

“Nothing! We were nothing. I came to Casteau to see you.”

“Then that night…” Jack’s face went blank. Like I said, man-style stupid.

“And when you didn’t want me, I requested transfer.” I gestured around me. “Hel-lo, Germany.”

“Didn’t want you?” His dark eyes blazed. “Like hell I didn’t!”  He scooped me tight against him as his lips crushed mine with triumphant ferocity.  And I relished the late taste of victory thinking it’d be okay if the world did end right now.

But Jack Richards had other ideas. “For you, Em, I’d fly us through Hell itself.” 

 


 

Pilot photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures, 2004, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow; plane courtesy of Wikipedia.

Throwback Thursday: Flash

 

dolllyJillian’s Dolly

by Stacy Bennett

Jillian’s chin rested in her hand as she sat on the stair listening to Uncle’s gruff voice, something about “that girl” and “rightful inheritance.”

A whine tickled her ear, followed by a cold snuggle across her back.  A whiff of sun-warmed fur brought to mind tail-wagging butterfly chases.  She swallowed unshed tears as a ghostly paw rested on her arm.

 “I’m fine, Dolly.” But really nothing was fine since the fire.

A slobbering tongue had awakened her in the night.  Gentle teeth taking the hem of her nightgown dragged her through smoke and heat, out into the yard as the firemen arrived. Dolly raced back inside where Mum and Pa still slept and Jillian waited forever for her to return.  When all was soot and cinders, the captain ran smoke-smudged hands through thinning hair, stumbling over the words. Mum and Pa were “lost.”  Jillian knew they weren’t really lost. It was just something grownups said. 

Uncle was there to take her home, which was strange since it was after midnight and Pa never spoke to him.  Jillian figured his ‘gold-digging’, as Mum called it, kept him busy. He kindly moved the gasoline can so Jillian could ride in front seat, feeling desperately sad and alone.

Luckily, Dolly wasn’t “lost.” She padded into Jillian’s new room, like a gust of winter wind filling the sheets with smoky dog smell and love.

Jillian thought it funny how Dolly didn’t like Uncle, not one bit. The only time he had visited Jillian’s room, Dolly growled like a bogey monster from under the bed and then bit him. It was only the ghost of a bite, but he had turned white and screamed like a girl.  Now, Uncle kept his distance, and that was just the way Dolly liked it. 


I posted this piece today in honor of a friend’s bassett hound who passed away this week. Originally, it was written as an entry for the Faerytaleish Pinterest Contest in June 2012, which was run by the ineffable Anna Meade, who you can visit here. I recommend going when you’re hungry as she’ll likely have you pull up a chair for some scones and tea and glitter.

 

A Steampunk Request

I’m bringing back this lovely steampunk short that I originally wrote for the #DirtyGoggles Blog Hop (circa May 2013) at a friend’s request. 

The Girl in the Glass 

by Stacy Bennett

dirtygirl

The ghostly image flickered inside the glass tube as Thinman spun dials and flicked levers.

“What kind of ‘werk is it?” Jasper asked, picking dust off Thinman’s jacket. The black tailcoat did little to hide Thinman’s skeletal bronze frame or the steadily whirling flywheels within.

“Sir?”

“What’s its function?”

“None, sir.”

“Explain.”

“It’s a girl, sir.” The mechanical voice was almost patronizing.

“It’s, … she’s human?” Jasper’s heart slammed against his sternum, notably lacking  the click-whirr-hiss that pervaded the rest of his world.

“I can’t refine the image further, sir.”

Jasper leaned closer, lifting his goggles to his forehead which forced his black hair into a spiky plume.

There hadn’t been a human on Portalune since the Exodus. Except for Jasper, of course. Stowed away on the first rocket to land, he’d been asleep, unnoticed, the night everyone disappeared. Thinman said war had called everyone home, though the blue-green orb remained untroubled from Jasper’s vantage.

Pale lips moved inside the dirty tube, silently pleading.  “Where’s the message coming from?” Continue reading “A Steampunk Request”

Throwback Thursday: Post

Beautiful Distraction:

When Your Prose Upstages Your Story

 

(Originally posted in December 2012.)

Lately, I have been doing a lot of reading about writing.  Not just books but blog posts and essays and worksheets on everything from style to character to setting and more.  One day I came across a rather unsettling but interesting idea – that sometimes your prose can be too beautiful.

I literally scoffed.  Really?  Too beautiful?

Yep, that’s what it said.   Unfortunately, I can’t find the exact reference underneath the piles of #Nano remnants, bills, and kid homework lying around, but that was the gist of it.  (If anyone recognizes this idea, let me know so I can give credit.) Continue reading “Throwback Thursday: Post”