Love at the End of the World

My first attempt at dieselpunk, an alternate WW II entry written years ago for the Dirty Goggles Blog Hop.  Hope you enjoy.  

Love at the End of the World

The operation was ‘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. Continue reading “Love at the End of the World”

Ruthie and the Darkening Prince

This began as a very short flash fiction piece inspired by a story from my good friend Ruth Long in The Fairy Ring Flash Fiction Contest.  I was wading through some old files the other day, took this out, expanded it a bit and thought I’d share it with you. A bit of a blast from the past but updated.

The image is one I could not find an attribution for but it is part of the basis for this story so I’ve included it. If anyone knows who the artist is, please let me know. Hope you enjoy…


Ruthie and the Darkening Prince

The Darkening bordered the western edge of the Glade that stood between our world and the other. The gloom hadn’t crept in over time or spread through the trees like some dark malady. It simply appeared one summer day, turning the brightly magical woods to a dimmed and dusky version of itself, the edge of it an invisible line through the woods.

As Guardian of the Glade, it was Ruthie’s duty to discover the cause. For nearly a fortnight she sought high and low but could find no culprit for the strange perversion. That is, until a warrior in barbed armor met her at the border. Silently, he walked in the shadowed half of the wood, mirroring her steps like some dark-natured counterpart.

Impatient, she stopped and turned to glare at him. He stopped in the same breath, turning to observe her with cool disdain from beneath his demon-shaped helm. He was tall and imposing, but she did not fear him for she held the power of the Glade.

“Are you responsible for this?” she asked, gesturing along the line dividing her green bounty from his murky landscape.

The warrior eyed her for a moment more.

“I am,” he said finally. His voice was silken and cultured and laced with a leashed power that sent chills down her spine.

She was about to demand more of an explanation, when he lifted a hand to remove the helm. Alabaster hair cascaded like silk over his sinister epaulets. His tawny inhuman eyes ensnared her, freezing her heart mid-beat.

In that stark proud face, she recognized a boy she had once known. A boy she had loved dearly when she’d been but a child. Before she’d become a Guardian. Before he’d inherited the power of his Fae father.

“My Prince,” she breathed, nodding in deference. She would once have had to kneel, but the Guardian of the Glade bowed to no one. Not even the Fae King.

“Guardian,” he said, tilting his head slightly in return. Then, he said, “I remember you.”

“Have we met?” she asked, taking a step toward him as tendrils of chill mist from the darkened wood crossed the line to swirl about her ankles like a cold caress.

A flock of pixie attendants rushed to her, drawn by the threat of his power. They circled her in a cloud of fervent cacophony, their fear obvious in the earthward cant of their diaphanous wings.

“Yes,” he said. “You stole something from me.”

Ruthie nearly took a step back, shocked that he would accuse her so.  “I have taken nothing of yours, my Prince.”

“Ah, but you have,” he said, taking a step toward her. “You stole … a kiss.” A conspiratorial smile creased his cheek, warming his features and peeling back the years to one afternoon beneath the shade of a willow’s cloak. An afternoon she remembered only now.

Her sharp intake of breath confirmed the truth as a long-denied memory burst upon her mind. The press of his lips to hers like summer wine in the cool shade.

The boy prince had been raised in her village. His fair hair and her auburn locks had bounced through the sunshine as they ran in and out of the dappled shadows of the Glade. They had been close as children, too close, taking liberties with each other that were against the Law.

Had he come now to punish her?

“My lord…” she began.

“No, do not fear,” he said gently. “I seek only a small recompense.” He leaned toward her without emerging into sunlight although his face was mere inches from hers. His voice and the unexpected tenderness in his eyes beguiled her and she leaned in to meet him.

“And what penance is it you seek?” she asked, her heart stirred with a heady emotion she was reluctant to name.

“I would like my kiss back again,” he whispered, his eyes on her lips.

His dark yet noble heart beckoned to her, as it always had. The child she had been longed for the innocent rebellion of those bygone days, but they weren’t children anymore. He was a Prince and she a Guardian. What had been only frowned upon long ago would now be a grievous sin. Still, she wavered, tempted to grant him this one small trespass.

Sensing her weakness, the pixies admonished her in a whirlwind of fluttering, their wings like so many butterflies on her cheeks. But she shooed them away angrily. She didn’t need their council. She knew quite well what hung in the balance.

She had taken an oath as Guardian. Her loyalty was to the Glade, and the Glade alone. Her heart and the Glade’s were one and the same. As the neutral border between the Fae and human realms, she could not give that heart to one side or the other. As Guardian, she must refuse him even the smallest of favors, for to grant one would be to endanger the peace that was the Glade’s reason for being.

“What say you?” he prompted into her silence as he lifted a long finger to trace the line of her jaw.

“You know I cannot,” she whispered, her voice full of a longing she had meant to suppress.

His golden eyes roved over her face and came to rest on her lips. “Then, my dear lady, the Darkening will remain until justice is served.”

He stood back from her, letting the cool mist rise between them. It sent chills up her arms as she watched him bow and turn on his heel to stride off into the gloomy woods.

She knew him well enough to know he would find a way to get his kiss in the end. And she wanted him to. But, she had a few tasks she required in return. Her lips curled with mischief. It would be an interesting summer.


 

Fantasy and the problem with Tolkien — The Write Stuff

The eternal dilemma of the fantasy writer: Has every story been told or can I tell an old one in a new way?  Read what Sue Vincent at The Write Stuff says about it. Regardless, I will continue to write my own fantasies and hope they have half the depth of Tolkien’s Middle Earth…

It has to be said that Tolkien causes problems. Quite apart from being so addictive that, once read, you are likely to go back and read the books again, you may never find anywhere quite as rich as Middle Earth within the pages of another book. Anyone whose introduction to fantasy is via The Hobbit […]

via Fantasy and the problem with Tolkien — The Write Stuff

MidWeek Flash: Reiterated Love

Since I was late on last week’s MidWeek Flash, it’s already time for another one. But this simply gorgeous photo clicked with a thought and voila. 


Reiterated Love

I stood on the old pier watching the beginning of the end. Conflicting memories danced in my head as the sky turned molten around us. Lilia’s fearful whimper tugged at me and I tucked her in close. Her body trembled against my side. Whether the result of my presence or the sky, I couldn’t be sure.

“We have to go,” I urged.

“I’m tired,” she said, “tired of … all of you.”

“The ship is waiting.”

“Maybe I don’t want to go.” Though soft and halting, she cast the words at me like a challenge.

I gazed down on the face I’d known all my life, the face of my purpose. This woman was very reason I was alive. Her guarded hazel eyes met mine, testing my resolve. Haunted by a hundred deaths, she silently dared me to argue. Her lips were a hard line, yet I couldn’t resist reliving the memory of them playing over my skin, kissing me in ways that heated my blood. Continue reading “MidWeek Flash: Reiterated Love”

MidWeek Flash: Lighting the Way

It’s been more than a week since I wrote some flash, and feels even longer. But I’m back. As usual, I made an effort to kick back against the obvious and take this piece in a lighter direction. I leave it to you whether I’ve succeeded and still managed to write something intriguing.  

Thank you again to Miranda for her weekly prompts. And if any of you out there think you might have a story inside you waiting to come out. Come write with us! Really we don’t bite (much). 


Lighting the Way

“I see dead people.”

My husky imitation echoes slightly in the dim hallway as a wry smirk plays across my lips. Unfortunately, anyone who could hear me now probably won’t get the reference, or appreciate the humor. Still, the irony makes me chuckle.

Even though the sun hangs in a cloudless sky outside, the hallway feels dark, shadowed, oppressed. I take slow, deliberate steps, stowing the humor and breathing deeply. Settling into my purpose, I reach out with my inner sense, inviting contact. Many are still here. Too many. They know I’ve come but they don’t trust me. Yet. Continue reading “MidWeek Flash: Lighting the Way”

MidWeek Flash: Spirited Away

Mid-Week Flash is up.  Thank you Miranda Kate for an interesting, if unsettling, photograph. Here is my take, with the help of a writing challenge “offered” by a friend. Have I mentioned my susceptibility to dares? 


 

SPIRITED AWAY

Sister Elspeth burst from the Council chamber, the doors banging open. Her dark robes fluttered behind like storm-tossed sails.

“What news?” I trailed in her wake.

“Mewling brats!” she seethed, whirling around to spit at the closing door. “There is no wisdom left in all Urtland!”

I dodged out of the way, trying to follow her. But she turned on heel and strode forward again, leaving me scrambling after her.

“The plan,” I repeated. “What about the plan?” But she didn’t hear me.

“The invaders have struck a mortal blow,” she mused, “killing those men whose years brought wisdom.  Now boys play king of the hill and all the while our enemy eats us from inside.” Her muttering burned with anger as she pushed open the main doors and swept down the stairs taking the path to the Coven House.  

“Sister,” I begged. “Did you tell them?”

She turned on me then, her eyes sparking with hate. Magic crackled around her. A warning. “They wouldn’t let me speak.”

“What?” I stared in shock. How could the Council disrespect her so? The Coven had advised Urtland’s kingship for a century.

“A woman has no place in war.” She mimicked a deep voice.  “As if swords alone determined which battles are won. I’ll show you war!” she shouted at the castle, then turned and strode into the trees.

I could do little but hurry after her.

“A woman knows strength is not the only weapon worth wielding” she said to me. “We will behead this snake before its forked tongue corrupts Urtland any further.”

The plan, it seemed, would proceed without kingly permission.

Moonrise found us in the forest. A dozen Coven sisters stood in a circle, Sisters Elspeth, Yadha, Deara, and myself waiting skyclad in the center, athames at ready, faces grim. Chosen warriors for Urtland. Assassins, if you will. One for each invader chieftain.

The spell was already in the casting. Our witch-sisters chanted, hands clasped, and magic tingled along my skin, hot and eager. All that was left was to call our allies. We four lifted our arms and carved the symbols for our chosen trees in our flesh. I chose my namesake – hazel – and carved four bloody lines to the left of a vertical one in my arm. Elspeth’s arm bore three marks beside the straight. A warrior tree – the holly.

I felt a pull in my belly. My call was answered. The Coven opened the circle and we four walked in a daze into the forest. A beautiful hazel tree, robust and green, beckoned to me. Lifting my arms, I pressed against her smooth trunk until my arms became her branches, her leafy crown my own head.  Behind me, the witch-sisters sang and I pulled my feet from the earth to dance, slow at first and then faster. They followed me as I cavorted like a satyr in the moonlight, heading toward the enemy encampment.

The Coven wove spells of fog and darkness to hide us as we infiltrated the foreign camp. My fingers rustled and my body ached as branches took the shape of lovely limbs. The glamour complete, I twirled into the tent of a barbarian general. He woke with a start. I smiled at him, beckoning him with my naked body, youthful and firm. The witches spun a spell of love over him.

When he rose to claim me, I let him kiss me. My toughened bark immune to his rough hands.

“Not here,” I whispered. “Come, my love. Away to my bower.”

He grabbed for me, but I spun away, ever just out of reach. I allowed him to kiss me now and then to keep his passion fresh, leading him out of his camp and into the woods.

In a place far from the beaten path, I stopped and surrendered, opening my arms to the brute. He grabbed me then, thrusting himself upon me with ravaging intent. I did not resist, but clasped him closer, opening myself to his plundering. And as we coupled, bodies twined together, the magic changed me once more. My leaves returned. Feet became roots, arms became branches, and my violent lover was trapped within the thickened bark of my trunk…

                                                                 …never to be heard from again.


You can find links to the other entries HERE.

 

 

 

MidWeek Flash – Rumors of Yumon

It’s that time again!  MidWeek Flash and a new photo. This time a historical photo of bomb-blasted Italy.  Again, I was avoiding the dark post war images that immediately sprang to mind. The what if time stopped postulations…

And then I set myself a challenge. I picked something silly and told myself (via a friend) to write about it. Here’s what ended up happening. You’ll have to let me know if it produced a worthwhile piece or not. Again the challenge is here on Miranda’s blog.  And you (yes, you reading this right now), you should go write something yourself!


Rumors of Yumon

We walk the haunted forest in the late afternoon, my daughter and I. The rain’s aftermath is sure to leave us mud-speckled, a disappointment to her mother, but I’m not bothered by such things. I firmly believe an adventure without dirt is just a stroll.

Oh, how I used to race rings around my own father here, ages and ages ago. The tower hasn’t changed in all that time. I love to see the delight in her brown eyes, the skip in her step. She finds this place as magical as I did… I do.

 Skeptics abound in this day and age, but I believe the tales. I believe in things unseen.

As we climb, the tower greets us first. Its gray façade of even stones lifting up out of the summer-green leaves, pointing to the sky. She has to crane her head back to keep the top of it in sight as we emerge from the dense trees to the small meadow where the building sits. At least, what’s left of it. Continue reading “MidWeek Flash – Rumors of Yumon”

MidWeek Flash – Summoning the Muse

As I read the other stories this week, I realized that I too was thinking of aggression and revenge. I would have written about hunters and death. But I looked again at the picture and thought of how beautiful this creature was. Why couldn’t this be about love? 

Again the rules and the challenge are here on Miranda Kate’s blog.  And again, please join in.  It’s better with friends. 

Summoning the Muse

She soared the night sky as clouds tiptoed across the moon’s face. Her sharp eyes pierced shadow and branch but nothing moved. Unsettled, she dropped lower, gliding a mere featherbreadth above the treetops to search again; it was nearing moonset.

Perhaps he wouldn’t come.

Perhaps he’d broken free.

The thought pinched inside her. When he’d first summoned her to his little isle of green in that plastic world, she’d been irritated. That he had the power to do so was unnerving. That he dared to … angered her. But she no longer hated him.

She felt a tug of energy. He had come after all. Continue reading “MidWeek Flash – Summoning the Muse”