Monday, November 16, 2009

Friday Fiction - Divine Visions, part two

I can't type much right now. Too busy with 2009's NaNoWriMo. Finally broke 18000 words tonight and it's time for bed.

Enjoy the story!

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*********
Days later, good Jonathan was performing his usual street ministry. A well-dressed businessman had paused to talk. Brittleby was expounding the need for more gentlemen to become involved in what was happening around them, on the human level. “The Word of God isn’t only for the poor.” That’s when he noticed her, standing across the street watching him.

As Brittleby’s face drained of color and his chest tightened, the businessman asked if he needed assistance. An ambulance, perhaps? He waved the man off, claiming he’d not eaten yet that day, and withdrew to the coffee shop behind them.

Once seated, with a strong, dark cup before him, he chanced looking across the street again. There stood Meg all right - long blonde hair, voluptuous body. He felt his blood stir again at the sight of her, before he caught himself. Chastisingly he muttered to himself, “ Meg’s dead. Remember? You killed her. Drowned her in the bathtub.” He raised his head to stare defiantly back at her vision. She was gone.

*********

As the month passed, Brittleby got used to seeing Meg’s face staring at him from off the street. He usually responded, after the initial paleness passed, but simply turning his head and looking elsewhere. Seems this wasn’t the appropriate method for dealing with the problem. Meg Saunders had no intention of simply disappearing from Jonathan’s life. She started showing up at the soup kitchen as well.

The first night it happened, our good Father was busy handing out bread to the indigent. He looked up, and there she was, only three people back in the line. Dropping the platter to the floor with a loud clatter, Brittleby joined it. Collapsing on the spot. While someone ran off to call 911, another helped him to a nearby chair, loosening the top buttons of his shirt collar as well. Eventually recovering his composure, he looked around for her, only to see a toothless old man standing where she’d been just a moment ago. Where had the man come from? Brittleby was sure he’d not been there earlier....

The volunteer staff insisted he go to the emergency room “just in case.” While an EKG showed some elevated heart activity, the doctor on duty assured him all was fine. However, he might want to get a routine physical just in case and especially if the good preacher was suffering these weak spells on a regular basis. The community would suffer terribly if something happened to a man like Jonathan Brittleby.

*********

Apparently, she’d learned the value of the shock-factor, for her next appearance was in his home. In the john to be exact. Meg stood behind him as he relieved himself, effortlessly watching over his shoulder. And he was sure she had been smirking.

Finishing up, he sank down onto the toilet, crossing himself. He was being haunted! The silly tart actually thought she could haunt him. He began giggling at the notion. The giggles progressed to a hearty chuckle and the next thing he knew, tears were streaming down his face as his laughter flew out of control.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Thank You!


A big thank you for your service to all the veterans out there. Even when we aren't at war, it's still not necessarily easy being in the service. You give up so much of your own freedoms to help protect ours. Thank you for those sacrifices.
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The photo above is of my father's headstone. It never fully sank in that he was indeed a veteran, of the Vietnam War. He never served in country, but was still in the military. And he was quite proud of that, even if we didn't discover it until after he was gone. I'm the very proud owner of his dog tags and his uniform pieces that he held onto all those years. I'm so proud of him.
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I'm also very proud to be the step-father of a former Marine, the daughter-in-law of another Marine, and the granddaughter of at least to WWII Army vets. Then there's my step-brother and various dear, dear friends.
If you know a vet, tell 'em thanks, not just today but any day!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Friday Fiction - Divine Visions

I'm hping you enjoy this little ghost story. I had the most fun writing it.

Divine Visions


Jonathan Brittleby was a man of god. Just ask his parishioners. He could often be seen out ministering to the sick, downtrodden, and needy, seeking to bring them into the fold of God. Any given night might find him out on the streets of Ravenford, talking quietly with anyone who cared to stop and listen. And in his spare time, Father Brittleby helped organize and maintain the First Street Mission’s soup kitchen, feeding the community’s poor. Father Jonathan Brittleby was a real pillar of the Ravenford religious community all right.

One of his favorite projects was ministering to Meg Saunders. He spent at least three nights a week working with her, more if he could manage it. Meg was his refuge from the trials of saintly perfection. And then she had to go and get religion, ruining everything. The minute Meg found God, she began questioning her all-too-physical relationship with the good brother. And then, adding insult to injury, she threatened to “tell all” in one public confession of sin.

So he did the only thing a righteous man could. He killed her. Drowned her actually. Couldn’t have the little bitch blabbering things the public didn’t need to know. He did it one night when they were together, soaking in that old claw-footed bathtub. Meg brought the subject up again and he’d just shoved her under, holding her there while dispassionately watching her struggle.

Afterwards, Brittleby’d wrapped the body in a tarp and tossed it in the trunk with some cement blocks and rope. He headed out to Lenore State Park and dumped poor Meg in Pym Lake. Suitably weighted down, she’d make excellent fish food and take forever to find. The holy man grinned to himself and patted the wrapped corpse’s rump, “Consider it your baptism, Meg.” He continued, laughing at his private humor, “Hell, I’ll even say a few words as I send you off.” And thus was Meg buried.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Samhain Night Special

The story of Margaret Schilling has fascinated me for a good while now. I'd like to share it with you...

The Stain She Left Behind

According to some, especially when the Halloween specials come out of their mothballs, Athens, Ohio, is one of the most haunted places in the United States. Many of the spirits seem to inhabit the old mental health center, up on what is known today simply as The Ridges. Those old buildings have certainly seen their share of human tragedy. Most of the following story is true. And the rest? I leave that up to you, gentle readers, to decide.

According to legend, Margaret Schilling slipped out of her ward on December 1st, 1978. No one is sure what led the young woman to decide on a game of hide and seek on that cold, wintry Friday. At least, it’s been suggested that she was playing hide and seek with the staff. Perhaps something in her troubled mind urged her to seek refuge in the upper floors of an unused ward. Or maybe something very real drove her there. A rumor exists suggesting an affair between her and one of the male employees. If true, such a tale would certainly add to the tragedy of what happened to poor Margaret, but perhaps we should put such stories down to the prurient imaginations of others, romantically assuming the worst. Other stories claim poor Madge, who was supposedly deaf and mute, was unfortunately locked in and left behind when residents of her ward were moved elsewhere and the building closed. That story, however, has been proven thankfully untrue thanks to some clever folks checking the timelines of such events.

Getting back to our story, put yourself in our young lady’s place. It is quite possible, not being considered dangerous to yourself or others, that you’ve been given relative freedom to move around. One day, wandering aimlessly about, you notice the stairwell leading upwards to…what? Suddenly the urge to find out overtakes you and you begin climbing.

Looking down over the edge of the railing, you see employees moving about on the stairs beneath you. You worry that one of them might notice you and be angry at your curiosity. You finish darting quietly up the stairs. Slipping into a room, you rest against the wall to catch your breath before exploring the area. Maybe you even lock the door behind you, so anyone searching will think the area empty.

What’s that you say? How do I know it happened this way? Well, I don’t. But it could have happened something like that. Or perhaps a male at the hospital was pestering Margaret and she thought she’d found somewhere to hide. A place she could be safe from his uncomfortable attentions. Perhaps he had tried to force those attentions upon her recently enough that she was still flustered by his actions.

She obviously hadn’t thought things out if she’d been planning on hiding for any length of time. The ward she took refuge in was abandoned, so she didn’t need to worry about anyone finding her easily. However, it was also fairly unfurnished and, most importantly that cold December Friday, it was without a heat source other than some sunlight shining wanly in through the windows.

Whatever happened next, and whether or not she was a deaf-mute, Margaret found herself locked into the attic-level ward. Perhaps her medications wore off and she became too confused to find her way back down the stairs. The floor below her was uninhabited. The walls and floors are thick. (I’ve been there; the building is quite sturdy.) Even if she could make noise, she still wasn’t likely to be heard. Poor Margaret. Cold Margaret. She was dressed for inside, in her warm, cozy ward. Not for the chill, nearly outdoor conditions for a barren attic.

Meanwhile, while Marge was exploring the near-empty attic, her absence was noticed and the alarm was given. Search parties were formed, but they were unable to track the poor girl. Newspaper articles were run, asking if anyone had seen her. If they had any news at all of Margaret Schilling. Authorities probably followed up on several rumors. Unfortunately for Margaret, no one actually knew anything. If only someone had noticed the quiet girl slipping towards the stairwell, she’d have been found sooner.

Six long weeks would pass before a maintenance man would come across the chilling find of Margaret’s body. Even in the cold, she had begun to decompose. It was as though she’d known the end was near, for she’d lain down in the sunlight and waited to die. The official cause of death was listed as cardiac arrest, ostensibly brought on by the extreme cold. And to sensationalize the story further, some accounts of the legend say that she’d removed her clothing beforehand and had placed it carefully folded nearby.

Even though she’s long since been buried, Margaret Schilling is still up there on The Ridges, up in that attic. Etched into the cement floor is an outline of her body – a photonegative created by the passing of the sun as she lay there rotting in its meager warmth. Every attempt to remove the stain has failed. It is so distinct that it’s said you can make out the folds of her hair and the creases in her clothing - the latter detail putting paid to the story of her being found naked.

There are stories of her walking the halls and peering out the windows, a member of the ghostly community that resided at The Ridges. Perhaps she still waits for the help that didn’t come in time. Whatever the case, Margaret is still present in the attic above old Ward 20 – a permanent outline on the floor.

And really, who could blame her if she did walk the halls to this day?
----------------------------------------

So which parts of the story are true? Well, Margaret Schilling did indeed die in an unheated and unused part of the mental health facility. The stain on the floor is also very real, thanks to some interesting chemistry. The rest is a bit more uncertain. A friend asked his mother, who was working there at the time of Margaret's death, what happened. She said there were rumors of a possible murder and hints that Margaret might have been trading "favors" for cigarettes. One of the men working at the institution may have done away with her for some reason. Was she a death/mute? I honestly don't know. Given enough time, I might go do some research in newspapers of the time and see what else can be learned.

As mentioned earlier, Athens County, Ohio is considered quite haunted, although many of the stories need to be taken with a rather industrial grain of salt. And the other stories? Maybe not so much. If you'd like more, please just tell me so in a comment and I'll see what I can do.

Happy Halloween and a Blessed Samhain!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Oops!

I lied. Divine Visions didn't start last Friday. And it's not starting this Friday either. We'll aim for next Friday and let it carry Friday Fiction through November (hopefully) while I'm busy writing for NaNoWriMo. THIS Friday I'm going to share something written quite recently - last month, in fact - that's set here in Athens County. Not only is it set here, but it's also, at least partly, a true story.

Consider it my little treat for all of you. And if you like, and would like to hear more ghost stories here in Athens, just drop me a line in the comments and I'll see if I can't hook you up. Athens County is, by some accounts, one of the most haunted places in the world. Go figure....

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Friday Fiction: The Aeterna - Part 7 - The End

Divine Visions starts next Friday. It's probably the best fiction I've written in a while. Certainly the best I'd written at the time it was penned. I really hope you've enjoyed this one enough to look forward to Part 1 of the story of the mad cleric.

Melinda

Stretching out his right hand towards Ethan, he nudged the protruding stake, sending fresh waves of pain coursing throughout her body and calming her weak struggles, uttering a satisfied chuckle when he heard her agonized moan. Ethan, sweat glistening upon his forehead, reached for the binding rings. The young man could see the panic in the woman's eyes. Perhaps Pernicies had been correct about gaining his freedom. Concentrating, he began working the bands off, moving with cautious precision. They had to be removed at exactly the same time or it wouldn't work. After witnessing the recent brutality, he didn't want to find out how failure would be rewarded.
Venia fought the engulfing panic and pain. Finally focusing the meditative techniques she had worked long to perfect, she banished the endless agony to some far corner, to be dealt with later. The mortal couldn't get that ring off or all be permanently lost. Gathering her remaining strength, she prepared to shove Pernicies forward. Timing her move for the last possible moment, she hoped to push his ring back upon is finger by the momentum of his fall. Either way, it would destroy the vital timing of their plan, probably allowing her band to fall free from her finger. With her band removed she would be free to deal with them in her true form, capable of draining Pernicies enough to subdue him for the time being. It might even save Thomas's life as well.
Ethan paused at the final joint on their fingers, taking a deep breath to steady himself for the last, crucial part. So intent was he upon his task that Pernicies look of alarm was entirely lost till too late. He crumpled into a heap, victim to the candlestick Thomas held unsteadily in his hand.
Venia threw her weight towards Pernicies shoulder's, overbalancing him and forcing him to collapse on top of Ethan. Tilting her hand down, the ring fell off, freeing her from the agony of her body. Pernicies paled at the anger emanating from her ethereal form. He felt the attack creep up from his shoulders into the base of his skull as Venia vented her rage, exploding his world into a collage of pain-induced colors. Screaming, he fell into merciful unconsciousness. She was far more merciful than he would have been. But then, that was her nature. Merciful grace.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Friday Fiction: The Aeterna - Part 6

You know, I didn't realize there were so many possible cliffhanger moments in this thing. I just can't resist dragging it out longer, although I had hoped to do the ghost story for October; however, this way I'll have that for November when I'm being insane during NaNo.

Melinda

Venia felt as though her essence were being ripped apart, reduced to subatomic particles, her neural network seared by the lightening rushing to every nerve ending. She heard screams of anguish, recognizing her own voice. In the background was the keening, fearful scream of Thomas: a mortal never meant to see this level of brutality. Her world collapsed into a kaleidoscope of anguish. While the pain would haunt her for centuries, given time, perhaps weeks, she would regenerate the physical damage. Pernicies grim, victorious grin told her that if he were correct, she wouldn't survive long enough for it to be a major concern.
"Now, Ethan." He beckoned to his mortal companion, unable to conceal the triumph evident in his voice. Meeting her eyes, he reached down for her right arm, holding it firmly anchored hand out, fingers exposed. "I thought of hacking off you hand for this next part, but it would probably be to much for that body of your's to bear, and I do so want you to witness your defeat.. Perhaps you'll survive long enough to see me devour your lover." He laughed as fear crossed her face for the first time in 4,000 years.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Some Saturday Fun


Hope you're enjoying the free fiction. Looking back over these old pieces shows me just how far my fiction writing has come. :-) I've got at least one local ghost story to share with you this month. Well, actually, it's a true story with ghostly elements. If I get time, I'm going to write somemore of them, but I'm also the Municipal Liason in our area for National Novel Writing Month as well as the advisor for my girls' school's writers club, who will be doing NaNoWriMo's Young Writers Program, both of which happen in November. Everything is gearing up for that right now.

We're off in a little bit to help a friend celebrate his birthday. Walking around checking out the shops in Nelsonville's Historic Square sounds like fun. It's an absolutely gorgeous day here in SE Ohio. It'll be lovely to be out in it.

But before we head out, I've got some blog goodness to share. Take a look below.

My sweet, online friend Tricia-Rennea has some printable Halloween goodies to download on her website. She's quite a talented illustrator, as well as a generous person. I'm always amazed at how much she offers free for the taking. Aren't the beakers wonderful? The little girl, science geek in my is in love. Links to the goodies are below the image. (Or click on her blog badge over to the right.)






Expressions Paperie is celebrating their 10th anniversary online with a $50 gift certificate give-away. They have some holiday cards that are both cute and whimsical. Head on over to find out how to enter.


Well, I think that's it. I honestly mean to blog more and hope that can happen as I get settled into my dual roles with NaNo. Did I say dual? Is there a word for a trio of roles? I forgot I'm supposed to write a novel next month as well.....

Hope you're enjoying the free fiction. Looking back over these old pieces shows me just how far my fiction writing has come. :-)

Friday, October 2, 2009

Friday Fiction: The Aeterna - Part 5

Thomas began to reply when the front door swung inward, revealing Pernicies and a young man. Standing, he turned to the intruders. "What the...I think you've got the wrong apartment." Pernicies crossed the room in one stride; the blow knocking Thomas against the far wall and leaving him stunned for several minutes. Food for later, the he thought. Ethan stepped inside and closed the door, waiting for his role in the affair.
"Why don't you just give up now and get out of here?" Venia growled at her eternal enemy. What had the bastard cooked up this time around?
"Now, dear." Pernicies gave her a feral smile. "You know I just can't stay away from my eternal partner, the beauty who bound the beast." He stepped towards her, arms out in a placating gesture of embrace. She stepped back warily as he gave a toothy grin, beginning a deadly game of cat and mouse. Glancing at Thomas, her eyes begging his trust and forgiveness, she began inching towards an open window. Whatever Pernicies game was, he would follow her to continue it, leaving the mortal safe.
"I don't think so, lovely. Wouldn't want your boyfriend to miss seeing the party, now would we?" Without warning, Pernicies sprang forward, the stake now evident in his hand. Caught off guard, she moved to dodge his thrust, taking the wood left of center in the abdomen. "I thought about using a plain old hunting knife, but the stake seemed so much more...appropriate. Wouldn't you agree?"

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Ultimate Veggie Soup

I posted on FaceBook earlier today that we were having soup tonight, which led to at least one request for the recipe. Now this is one of those dishes that doesn't really have a recipe. I was actually surprised the first time I saw a recipe for vegetable soup. I mean, come on, you get out a pan and start adding. That's how my mom always made it and that's pretty much how I make it. So, this is, more or less, how I made veggie soup for dinner tonight. Next time it'll be different. That's the beauty of vegetable soup - some ingredients I always use but the rest is decided by how I feel and what I have on hand.

Ultimate Veggie Soup

1. Begin by getting out the largest soup pot you have. It still probably won't be big enough.

2. Brown beef in the pan. You don't need to do this, but it does give it more flavor. Oh, today I used maybe 1 pound of leftover grilled steak from dinner last night. My in-laws use ground beef.

3. Providing you haven't forgotten it, brown the onion as well. Yes, I forgot the onion this afternoon. We're going to add it in after dinner.

4. Start dumping in veggies. Tonight's dinner has a 28 oz of chopped tomatoes, a can of green beans, the rest of the green beans from dinner the other night, chopped potatoes (about 2 large), carrots (a couple), sweet potatoes (same as potatoes), chopped discard bits from celery stalks that I cleaned the other night, broccoli. We would have put in about a cup of corn, but didn't want to bother digging into the deep freezer.

The broccoli is from some fresh stalks I bought a few weeks ago. When I cleaned them for steaming, I also cut up the stalks and tossed them in a freezer bag. The celery is from where I cup some up from lunches. I took the bits of stalk that were good but not really celery stick material, as well as the leafy bits, and chopped them. Tossed them in the freezer in a bag as well.

The potatoes, sweet potatoes, and some of the carrots are from our garden, so amounts are estimated. I also like lima beans, but didn't have any. Okra is also good. Really, toss in veggies you think would taste good when cooked for a long time - peas get mushy, but keep their taste. Regular broccoli tops just get mushy.

Sometimes I toss in 2-3 beef boullion cubes for added flavor. We don't mind the extra saltyness, even if it isn't good for us.

5. Add water to cover. Add even more if you like more broth. We're more of a less is more household in that area. Also add in garlic, salt, pepper. I like to add barley (if I remember) and other seasonings closer to when we're going to eat. I really like to use summer savory - one of my favorite herbs to season with - and basil, but use what you like. I also added 4 tbsp of Beneful fiber. We'll never taste it and my blood sugar will be at a happier level with the addition.

Cook for at least an hour. I bring it to a boil and after about 15 minutes set it to simmer on the lowest setting for as long as I can. It's even better the next day.

We serve it in big bowls with a loaf of bakery bread. Fresh baked bread would be even better, but I never seem to be that coordinated.

That's it: how I make vegetable soup. Hope you're enjoying the Friday Fiction posts.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Friday Fiction: The Aeterna, parts 3 and 4

Sorry about last Friday. I was 1)sick and 2) working past a deadline. Here's the continuation of the story. I'm noticing some editing issues, but I'm leaving it as is. This was written a good while ago and I've learned much since then.

Melinda

The morning sun found her out on a daily run, the distance doubled in the last few weeks. All of her training routines had been increased. Past experiences taught her to take advantage of the forewarning the ring allowed her. She needed her "mortal" form at its peak physical and mental condition. Running along the river, she thought how to best tell Thomas the truth. The weight of the ring nearly resembled lead. Putting it off became an unaffordable luxury now for Pernicies had found her once more. Maybe I should tell him nothing, merely disappearing from his life. Sigh. Damn, I know I can't do that because he doesn't deserve better. Even if it is for his own good. Aye! My fondness for these mortal humans will probably be my undoing one day.

The strained silence weighed heavily on dinner that evening. Thomas, noticing her preoccupation, attempted to break through, but met continual failure. Not once did she mention her day, or inquire about his. No lighthearted banter. Few smiles. "This is it," he muttered. "My favorite meal and so preoccupied I could be naked and not be noticed. Must be important, but I don't think it's the old 'you're a great friend, but...' story. This is like eating by myself just before the executioner arrives."
"Thomas?" Venia's tentative voice cut into his ruminations. "There's something I need to tell you." She saw the look of comprehension cross his face. Boy is he in for a surprise. "No, darling, it's not whatever it is you're thinking."
"Well, if you don't know what I'm thinking, how do you know it's not what you're about to tell me?" He teased her, trying to get a smile to break her tense countenance. Normally it would have worked, but she was too keyed up tonight to play along. Damn. Pernicies is close. The ring feels like lead.
"I know it's not what you're thinking because it's not something that would occur to you." Taking a deep breath, she continued determinedly on. "Thomas, I'm not human"
"Right. You're telling me that actually you're some space alien in disguise, here preparing for future world domination?"
"Damn it, Thomas!" Nerves made her short-tempered. Boy am I screwing this up, she thought disgustedly. "Oh, never mind. I'm making a mess of this." Deep sigh. "I've got to go away for awhile. Maybe a few days. Maybe a few weeks. It's someone from my past...and I really don't want you anywhere in the middle. Look, we can discuss this when it's finished..."

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Just for Fun

Proof that I AM a nerd, but not a dork. :-)

NerdTests.com says I'm an Uber Cool Nerd God.  Click here to take the Nerd Test, get geeky images and jokes, and talk to others on the nerd forum!

Oh, and that would be Uber Cool Nerd GODDESS. Apparently the dorks who made the test forgot about us chicks.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Friday Fiction - The Aeterna, part two

It's just a little bit this week. When I wrote this, I wasn't think of breaking it up into serialized little bits...

The Aeterna, part two

Making her way home, she down glanced at the ring placed there millennia ago. The magus performing the ceremony paid for it with his life, knowing, as Venia had, that it was the only means of containing Pernicies’ appetites. Pernicies never forgave his duality twin her betrayal, but could do little about it. The rings kept them bound to their solid, human form while dampening many innate abilities. Feeding off the life 'essence' of the mortals was still essential, but their victims survived, merely sleeping off the effects. After Thomas knew of her true state, he could remove the ring, releasing her for short periods of time. She smiled. It would be good to truly stretch for the first time in a hundred years.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Off to write

I'm off to work on the next article due, but wanted to leave you with this little gem, from The Totally Useless History of the World, by Ian Crofton, before I go, just for fun.

1919
Battleships in Space (21 June) The German fleet interned at Csapa Flow, in the Orkneys, was scuttled on the orders of Rear Admiral Ludwig Reuter, to prevent the ships falling into British hands. In all, 51 ships lie on the bottom. The steel from these submerged wrecks is used in satellites, as all steel made since 1945 is contaminated with radiation from nuclear tests, which would upset the delicate instrumentation needed in space.

Okay, off to work! Have a fun, SAFE Labor Day weekend if you're reading this here in the States. Oh, and if you're enjoying the fiction, or the messy pics of my desk (you should see it now!), please, take a moment and post a comment. Honestly, I need that feedback.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Friday Fiction: The Aeterna, part one

Hunger pains gnawing relentlessly, Venia walked the street. Soon she would tell Thomas of her peculiar nature, but first she needed the certainty of his trust. Perhaps tomorrow night, or the night thereafter. The silver ring's increasing weight reinforced the idea of time as precious. Perhaps after tonight she would no longer need to feed from strangers. Usually, she merely needed to walk down some quietly sleeping street, drawing sustenance from the houses' inhabitants. Not tonight: Only physical contact could appease the incessant hunger. She had waited too long, not wanting to leave Thomas.

All I need is the right victim...Tendrils of energy flickered around her, seeking at the windows of homes she passed. A couple in passion's sleepy hold tugged at her awareness. She smiled. Now there was a pleasant meal. If only she didn't need contact. An apartment further down beckoned her attention. Its resident smiled blankly up at her entrance, lost in the oblivious embrace of some narcotic. Perfect. Too bad his next trip would only encourage his habit. Placing her hands to the sides of his head, the power drain began. When she departed he was peacefully sleeping off the effects of the drugs.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Friday Fiction Teaser

Here's a quick teaser for the latest Friday Fiction beginning this week. A bit melodramatic, isn't it? I promise the rest of it is much, much better. Now to go figure out how to break it up into a couple of bits for posting.

The Aeterna

Prelude

Pernicies paused, power surging through his being. His power had grown alarmingly, all but completely consuming the current victim. Soon I will come for you, Venia. You will have no where to turn. I will be free of this wretched curse you've forced upon me.

Monday, August 31, 2009

The Locust by Doug Clegg

I get to share the first installment of Doug Clegg's new e-serial novel for his newsletter subscribers. If you want to get the rest of the story, you've got to subscribe and play by the rules (which means no sharing after the first installment). I've come to adore this author and to love his writing style. Check it out. If you like what you read, sign up for more and then go friend him on Facebook, Twitter, or Myspace. (Or all three, if you really want to cover your bases.)



THE LOCUST

By
Douglas Clegg


PART ONE
The Strange Event at Wickedy River


ONE
1
One hot as hell summer evening in 1934, a black truck came barreling down Old Mahican Road where it ran alongside Wickedy River-- a blur of machinery and darkness.
Later that night, the truck, the river, Old Mahican Road -- and even the ruins and the memories folks had of Ruth Merrill and her parties out at Beacon Point -- became a dreaded whisper of things to come in the town of Harwich and among those touched by what happened.
But the terrible event down by the bridge might not have happened if, earlier in the day, just after two, when the heat was at its worst, Lloyd Thurlow -- seventeen -- hadn't turned to a friend and said…
2
"Jesus H., I feel like a fish in a skillet out here. I bet you could fry an egg on the sidewalk. I bet up on Bean Hill, see? Right up there, where it crests. See? No trees. No shade. Nothing but brick. Hot molten brick. I bet you could make a nice fried egg in less than thirty seconds," and then Skipp said, "I don't like to bet."
"Everybody likes to bet."
"It's dumb to bet unless you know the outcome. That's what my old man says."
"But if you bet, it means you think you know the outcome. You'll never absolutely know if you know it until after you find out whether you were right or wrong." Lloyd spoke slowly and carefully, sounding as if he genuinely knew what he was talking about. But he didn't. He had just heard his father's buddies talking when they played cards.
Lloyd's father had always told him that life was a game and you always were at the table when you interacted with others. "In life, in business. It's all poker. It's all craps. Everything I have, I gambled for. All these other men," his father told him when he was younger and the Crash of '29 hit, "you see? They lost their shirts. But not me. I know where to bet on things. Know the odds. Sometimes you lose. But when you win, you win big."
His father had begun betting with his two boys since as far back as Lloyd could remember. Lloyd had lost his first toy car to his father in a bet; he won a hundred dollars from his father at the age of nine; he lost a pair of ice skates to his brother Winston over a bet, and then his father won them and lost them back to Lloyd in another bet. Lloyd Thurlow had won and lost bets with his father for years. It was a way of life for him, nearly. So, when he spoke to Paul Skipp about the egg and the brick sidewalk, it was like talking about the weather or girls or what Lloyd thought everyone was thinking even if they weren't saying it out loud. "But what do you think, Skipp? Is it hot enough to fry an egg?"
"It's hot, that's for sure. Look I don't want to bet."
"Come on. Two bits. I mean, what's it going to hurt?"
"It'll hurt enough if I have to pay it."
The conversation continued as Lloyd bought a single egg as Grosberg's, and then they caught the trolley up the hill because it was too hot to walk it.
Staring down at the brick sidewalk, Lloyd nodded to Skipp. "You're already sure of the outcome, buddy. You'll win. If that happens, I'll pay up. No, you know what? I'll give you double your money."
"I don't want to bet."
"Okay, forget the two bits. How about this: that." Lloyd reached over and tapped the ring on the third finger of Paul's right hand. "I know you like my lighter."
Lloyd brought out the fancy silver lighter he'd won from his father in a recent bet over the series of thunderstorms that had come through a few weeks earlier. "It's nice, isn't it? It's worth a lot. My old man bought it in New York for a lot of money. You can't find these at Grosberg's, can you? And First National doesn't carry them. It's a Ronson. 1928. Watch."
Skipp looked at the lighter as Lloyd flicked the flame up and down, up and down, clicking, flicking, clicking.
Skipp glanced down at the ring on his hand. "My dad brought it back from the war, the year after I was born. Look, it's from Austria."
"It's a beaut," Lloyd said.
Truth was, Lloyd Thurlow didn't want the ring; he just wanted the bet. Skipp didn't know it, but Lloyd would've agreed to betting over shoelaces if it came down to it. In fact, Lloyd already figured that if he won, he'd keep the ring for a few hours and then give it back to Skipp -- or Skippy as he was sometimes called -- before they both took off to their homes for supper.
"But, this egg. Come on, Skippy. If I crack this egg on those bricks. Will it fry?"
Skipp looked first at the small white egg in Lloyd's open palm, and then at the sidewalk. "I don't want to bet."
"But is it hot enough? Is it frying pan hot?"
"Probably not."
"Is that your bet?"
"I don't bet. I told you."
"No, you said that you don't want to bet. Nobody believes they want to bet. That's not the same as not betting. Skipp, every time we step out of the house, we make a bet that we'll get through the day without getting hit by some madwoman behind the wheel of a car. Or that we won't drown in the bathtub at night. And a thousand small and large bets that go on in our heads constantly. In fact, I'd guess you already made a bet in your mind but you don't want to risk saying it out loud."
"All right, if I make a bet on this, will you quit jabbering?"
"So, what's your bet? I mean, think: what are the chances?"
"That even though it's hot as hell, I still say you can't fry an egg on those bricks."
"But are you sure?" Lloyd said, almost seriously, before getting down on his hands and knees with the egg. "Sure enough to risk that ring?"
Skipp nodded.
"You're probably right. You probably just won the lighter."
Lloyd cracked the shell on the brick edge by the road, and poured the egg out.
The egg sizzled and whitened slightly within several seconds of hitting the bricks.
"Wouldja look at that?" Lloyd said. "There's your evidence. Jesus H., we got to do something to avoid frying like that damn egg."
Skipp stared at the egg and the brick sidewalk as if there were a trick to it.
Lloyd winked at him. "It's the bricks. They get like an oven. Everybody up here complains about it."
Lloyd accepted the ring graciously, told Skipp not to worry and that he'd treat him to some ice cream. They hopped on the trolley and went down to the First National store, where the ice truck parked out front and kids came by to get shaved ice out of the back of it. Lloyd and Skipp ran into little Joe, who was getting as many ice shavings as he could hold. Joe wiped the bits of ice along his face and the back of his neck.
At Guppy's barbershop right across the street, Lloyd's younger brother Winston -- who had been flipping through magazines -- told Jack McAllister that the river must be ice-cold right about then, while they stood there like dopes with sweat pouring off their scalps. They caught up with Lloyd and the others -- including the Vieira boy who was little for his age and didn't even look fifteen, but told the best jokes, so he was always welcome.
Lloyd showed off the ring, but when he saw the a look of barely-concealed hurt on Skipp's face coupled with bristling anger, he passed it back to him. They tussled, with Skipp telling him, "Fair's fair," and Lloyd insisting his friend take his ring back.
Winston was the first to say, "It's too hot to argue. Let's get out to the quarry."
This evolved into whispers of "skinny dipping," outside the smoke shop and a conversation between Lloyd and Danny Mulcahy. Then, the Giuliano Ianni saw them crossing the street and took off the apron from his dad's pizza joint and ran over to join them. In Union Square, a shirt came off and so began the rat-tailing, the dares, the oppressive smell of sweat and disgust -- all of it had begun somewhere in town, somewhere by the trolley stand, somewhere boys congregated on hot afternoons when they got away from work and home and authority.
They piled into the Thurlow car -- a gang of eight gangly boys, a mix of Irish, Italian, Polish, Portuguese and well, Thurlow -- since nobody was sure what a Thurlow was or where they'd even come from or why the rich Thurlow boys never mingled with the other rich sons along Stoddard Row but ran with a crowd that their neighbors considered hooligans and lowlifes.
3
The Thurlow boys were the sons of the Rich Old Man from town, a powerful figure who was old enough to be their grandfather. The Rich Old Man was known for striking stray dogs on the nose with his eagle-beaked silver cane and for telling young ladies to button up and cover.
No one had ever really seen Mrs. Thurlow more than once or twice, and even then she kept to herself, beneath that big yellow hat with the brim pulled down over her eyes. She was a subject of rumors and innuendo that included gold-digging, bath-tub gin-drinking, John Dillinger, Clyde Barrow, dance marathons and perhaps foreign intrigue. She was the Thurlow boys' stepmother, and those who had briefly glimpsed her face beneath that hat swore that she could not be more than four or five years older than Lloyd Thurlow himself.
They were the wealthiest family in town -- "ungodly wealth," some said. "Wealth born of great crime," others whispered. "The kind of wealth that attracts the wrong element."
The local gossip was that the Rich Old Man made his money in bootlegging, then in vaudeville theaters, and finally, he arrived in town the year after the Crash to buy up the mill in Easterly and rename it the Thurlow Woolen Mill.
Thurlow and his wife and sons were not Old New England or Old Money or even members of one of the churches in Harwich or Easterly, so they had never truly been accepted in their four brief years in town. Local parents often warned their children to "keep a good country mile between you and those Thurlow boys."
The Thurlow boys did not seem like sons of a Rich Old Man -- in fact, to the handful of well-to-do families -- the lawyers, the doctors, the mill owners -- Lloyd and Winston Thurlow seemed rather -- and distressingly -- ordinary. They dressed like the other boys, got most of their clothes on sale at Hagood's, didn't shine their shoes as often as they should've, sometimes their collars were ragged, their ties askew, and buttons were frequently missing.
The only conspicuous sign of the boys' wealth was the automobile they called "Fate."
Fate was a 1933 Packard Super Eight Sport Phaeton, black as pitch but with a white roof, and it was the finest car that anyone in Harwich or Easterly had ever seen. It was their mother's, but they borrowed it often -- or took it at will.
The Thurlow boys drove that automobile like the devil. It was full of dings and dent and rarely ever was seen by passersby without a tinge of fear that it might leap up onto the sidewalk, given the boys' driving records.
That miserable summer afternoon, all eight boys crammed into the Phaeton, filling every inch. Jack McAllister stood on the runner and was nearly thrown off the car when it went over the thousand bumps along the unpaved stretch of road beyond town, out past the farms and out to the Mahican Bridge.
The boys chose the most lonesome, shit-digger bug-infested, decrepit-bridged end of the river, abandoning the car to the roadside, leaving its doors open wide.
4
Cigarettes magically appeared from pockets before shirts came off. A couple of bottles of warm beer were "discovered" as well, as if none of them had any idea how they'd appeared. The older boys kept the younger from the beer (all were underage, but who was there to catch them?) Nearly all of them tried the Lucky Strikes, which the Mulcahy boy said was the brand more doctors smoked and recommended.
The river stank of dead fish beneath the unending heat of the summer sun as it began its steamy fade to dusk. Shit-digger bugs buzzed in the shade of overhanging trees and on the surface of pools of gummy river muck caked beneath the bridge.
Lloyd was the first to strip -- he nearly tore his shirt off, then his undershirt, and the shoes dropped off as he ran, then socks, then the trousers came down. He nearly tripped as he tried to move forward and pull them off at the same time. The others followed, laughing, squawking like geese as they headed for the river. By the time they got to the muddy edge, swatting the shit-digger bugs and mosquitoes off, they were nearly all naked as the day they were born, their clothes on the grass or fallen logs or hanging from the near-dead sycamore tree that leaned its gnarled, bark-stripped branches over the water.
5
Lloyd bet Skipp his ring back if he would go to the top of the bridge and jump over the pylon into the river. Skipp gave him a dismissive wave. He ran along the fallen pylon and dove off the end of it.
Ianni, in stripping down, made everybody laugh.
"What is it?" he asked.
He stood there in the most ridiculous-looking pair of striped underwear they'd ever seen. "Hey, my mother made these."
"His mama!" Jack shouted. "She made him some big bambino panties!"
Ianni ignored the jeers as he unbuttoned down the front and dropped his underwear to the cord-grass.
They all dove off the edge of the pylon, splashed around, daring each other to prove who was fastest or best or who could take the highest jump off the old rope swing. Lloyd placed imaginary bets for races out to the middle of the river and back, and then bets on who could stay underwater the longest, and then more bets until finally, they piled on him in the water to shut him up on all the betting and competitions.
They intoned -- like sacred hymns -- drinking songs they'd heard from their dads. They flung off-color jokes around until all humor was washed out of them. Uncouth behavior was the rule. Tales of thievery and lies about sex and bad girls made the rounds. The cries of "Up yours!" and "Geronimo!" could be heard as they launched -- one after another -- from the rope swing or the pylon or the groaning sycamore branches into the deep river.
On the opposite shore, the spires and turrets of Havergate, the asylum and poor house; the noise of some distant truck out on some faraway road; the chattering of starlings and coos of doves; dusk slowly drew in.
Lloyd and his brother swam out to the rocks that jutted up just beyond the middle of the river.
"This is the best day ever," Winston gasped as he reached for one of the wide flat rocks that rose up from the heavy current. He hoisted himself onto it and stood straight up in the dimming sunlight, spreading his arms out like an Olympic athlete..
"You look like Buster Crabbe when he won the gold medal," Lloyd laughed. "Only he wasn't buck nekkid."
"I feel like that. I feel like it's all starting."
"What?"
" We own the damn world, Lloyd. You, me, Ianni, Skipp, McAllister, Mulcahy, all of us. This is the point. Dad said in two years I can go to college out west. You'll go in a year -- what, to Chicago? New York? This is probably one of our last summers here, together. We're on the edge of life. It's about to begin."
Glancing at Havergate across the river. "Aren't you worried the crazies are looking at you?"
"Let 'em look. We are blessed, Lloyd. So many people struggling. You've seen the men coming through, sleeping in the park. You know those kids over in Hadleyville and what they go through. We can do something with our lives. I just feel it. We're going to change the world -- we can help turn things around once we get out of here. Once we're away. We don't have to be like dad. We can become something more."
Lloyd, who never thought enough about his younger brother or what went through his head, felt a surge of happiness that they had each other. Despite their father and his barrage of business and betting and stern talks and combative daily routines with them, and their stepmother and her vanity and isolation, the boys always had each other. After their mother had died, Lloyd practically raised Winston, who was only a year younger, but needed a lot of care. And when they moved to Harwich, it was Lloyd who protected Winston from bullies and who got him involved in sports and school activities and made him forget the sadness about their mother.
There, in the water, clinging to the rocks, looking up at his little brother, Lloyd was happy they had moments like this now and then -- a golden twilight by a dark river, with nothing but the future ahead and the sad days behind them.
It was the best day, all the boys agreed when Lloyd and his brother swam back and they all started roughhousing on the embankment and along the pylon's edge.
The worst and the best day, the hottest and the coolest, the funniest and the saddest in the way that the last days of summer seemed an end to things when young.
Not one of the boys suspected that someone crouched low on the bridge above, peering through the gaping cracks in the wall, spying.
6
The black truck raced past the ruins along the river road as if the driver wanted nothing more than to meet oblivion head-on.
In the distance, up around the bend, the Old Mahican Bridge.


Stay tuned for Episode 2
Miss an episode? Here's what you want.

Preorder Isis by Douglas Clegg

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Where I Write



A recent NaNoWriMo newsletter asked us to share pics of our writing areas with other NaNos. Alas, I can find the blog, where there are some interesting pics, but can't figure out how to share my own. And I must have deleted the newsletter, like the dimwit I can be on occassion. So, here for all of you to see, is my desk. Please keep in mind that since I write on a laptop, the dining room table is also a frequent destination for work.





You can also see the beginnings of my small desktop toy collection. There are at least three turtles on my desk! And then there are the Littlest Pet Shop toys. That stack of notebooks, folders, and loose papers in the background on the left? Those are all writing related tidbits I kept unearthing as I was sorting through BOXES of files and such this summer. I’ll sort through them soon and see what kind of treasure might be waiting for me to finish up. The big, golden globe is one of those glitter filled bouncy balls that I sometimes play with when thinking something over.

Finally, against the wall is a big corkboard where I can pin important notes and bits of inspiration. Right now the center has images relating to the novel I started last year. To the left of my desk (not in the picture) is a two-drawer filing cabinet with yet another box to sort through sitting on top of it. I may move that out to the dining room to hold the printer. I’ll then have room near my desk for a small book shelf.

That’s it: my little haven. I just need a small desk fan and it will be complete. Hope you enjoyed the tour. If you have any questions, just ask ‘em in a comment.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Friday Fiction: First Feeding

Here it is - early! Now I have to decide what to share next...

First Feeding

“Keeley? “ Miranda grabbed his arm, clinging in a desperate attempt to keep from collapsing as the wave of hunger – of need – tore through her being. “It hurts,” she whispered, choking as another stab of pain hit. “I’m so hungry.”

“Go. Feed.” Keeley gave Miranda a gentle nudge down the darkened alley. Stumbling forward several feet before collapsing near a dumpster, hunger ate away at her like acid on precious metal, her throat and mouth as dry as the rustling fall oak leaves.

Shuffling sounds signaled someone approaching from the far end of the alleyway. A vagrant. Maybe a drunken college student. Fear bubbled up inside to mingle and churn with the hunger already tearing away at her. Then Keeley’s words echoed in Miranda’s head: The only thing in this alley more dangerous than you is me. Calming somewhat, she huddled into herself, too weak from pain and hunger to do more.

The stranger continued approaching. Miranda could smell him now. Knew him to be a drunken vagrant by his smell. What’s more, she could feel him, sense his breathing, feel his heartbeat, as he advanced upon her. Smell the lust beneath his curiosity.

“You ok, girl? Do you need some help?” His questions dancingly grated upon her nerves, distracting from the delicious sound of the living blood pulsing through his veins. Her insides wrenched into a tortured knot, forcing a cry from her parched lips.

The stranger reached out, gently brushing the hair back from the side of her face. “Let’s git somewhere warmer…” Maybe warm each other a bit. She saw the unfinished thought play across his face, nearly as obvious as the spoken word. Inside, Miranda struggled with her emotions. Her hunger. Her rapidly departing humanity.

She looked up then, into his rich brown eyes. “No., she gasped, eyes resting finally upon his throat, almost in a caress. “I need…you.” Her arms came up to encircle him, parody of a lovers’ embrace as the vagrant chuckled over his unexpected fortune. Suddenly, Miranda’s sharp teeth pierced flesh, at first missing their mark. She held him firmly during the shocked struggle, hunger making her strong. Finally….the vein.

Like good hard liquor, his blood burned her throat and belly, spreading to warm her veins. Slowly the pain eased away, replaced by a languid fullness underscored with pleasure matched only by Keeley’s embrace.

Miranda drank until her belly was full and the fire from his lifeblood filled her veins. Then Keeley was there, pulling her back from the fading beat that had recently pounded so loudly. His arm about her shoulders, pulling her close, the two of them walked off in the night.

For the moment, she was content.

Copyright, Melinda M. Knowlton Fulk, Jan. 2005

Friday, August 21, 2009

Friday Fiction: Miranda's Choice

We're back from our visit with my grandmother, and no internet. The no internet part is actually pretty refreshing.

Here's the next Miranda Snapshot, as promised. Please, keep reading through next week, as I think the first and fourth installments are the best. And then, a ghost story, or perhaps something else supernatural...

Miranda’s Choice

Miranda slid into sleep, heartbeat exploding in her ears and echoing in her mind. Thump-thump, thump-thump; the only sound she heard. Leaden limbs drew farther down still, deep into the velvety comforting abyss. So this is what it’s like, she thought. The comfort of death’s embrace. First brief pain, then the mellow darkness. I should have done this long ago. Might have spared myself more grief.

An unnoticed gasp escaped her parted lips. The dark man - stranger no more - shifted position slightly, the better to support her. She was aware of this. She was also aware too of the slight pricking at her neck; the result of his movement. It all became more inconsequential as she gave herself up to the enveloping blackness.

Down. Down she sank like falling into a pile of autumn leaves. Willingly Miranda went, eagerly seeking blessed release from her life’s drudgery. The hammering within her mind increased. Thump-thump. Thump-thump. It was growing slower, second by merciful second.

But life is a stubborn thing, struggling to continue even when unwanted. Miranda’s will leapt to life, urging her to fight the coming night. Thump-thump. Thump-thump. Her pulse echoed, growing louder. Fight, damn you! Fight! It whispered fiercely in her ear. Fight or death’ll have won. Fight, or life will have been meaningless. Fight, Miranda!

Survival broke through to her. She struggled in the arms of her deliverer. However, Miranda desired peace - rest- more than survival. Thump-thump. Thump-thump. The heartbeat began growing faint. Merciful release was sought once more.

Tangy moisture fell in droplets through her parted lips, striking her tongue. Something deep inside stirred, seared it’s way through the heavy blackness. Come to me, Miranda. The stranger’s call whispered. Come to me. Images began clouding before he darkening vision. Peter leaving her. Tabby, the cat, waiting dinner. Tumbling fall leaves. Those penetrating grey eyes. Her attention focused there. The vision held. Became stronger. Come back to me, Miranda. There’ll be no more pain. The eyes compelled - commanded - her attention. Her return.

Miranda struggled against that riveting gaze. She wanted her peace. Her rest. She deserved it! Darkness wrapped its cold comfort around her like a silken velvet cloak. And more sharp tanginess seared into her, hitting the back of her throat.

Please, Miranda, the grey eyes pleaded.

Thump-thump.
Thump-thump.

Miranda paused in her descent, looking deep within those eyes. Perhaps they contained more than the mere command to live. She looked...and saw need. Desire perhaps. Whatever his gaze revealed upon the screen behind her closed lids, she began to struggle. To fight her icy suitor.

The stranger wrapped his will around her’s, melding them together, lending her his strength. She tasted more of the tangy ichor. Consciousness and need came as one. Tentative hands grasped his offered arm. A hungry mouth fastened upon his wrist, drinking deep of the offered nectar waiting there. His blood. Her blood. Strength -warmth- crept through her languid body. Miranda’s eyes opened once more, fire burning deep within them.

The stranger cuddled her close, smiling down at her. Letting her drink deeply from his wrist, before pulling it gently away. “Welcome back, Miranda. Welcome to a new life. One which you create. Control.” A grin split his pale face. “Perhaps you’ll share part of it with me.”

She nodded her ascent, as deep within her a hunger raged. Miranda smiled, feeling her canines extending. Elongating. They brushed her lower lip.

“I’m thirsty.”

The stranger’s - Keeley’s - laughter spilt out into the October air as he helped her to her feet.

Copyright Melinda M. Knowlton Fulk, 1997

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Background on Miranda



(This drawing doesn't have a danged thing to do with the rest of the post. I just like showing off the girls' artwork. Monkey Girl did this piece of our family. That's her on the left, with her dog, Baby in front of her. Next is me, then Mr. Incredible with is arm around me. To the left of him is The Kate. That's her dog Jake in front. And on the far right is Drama Queen with her dog Rosie. She's holding a fish bowl with Goldie in it. Goldie has since gone to the big aquarium in the sky. She was an old fish. )


I don't have much time as sleep is calling to me, but I'm off to my grandmother's for a few days and wanted to explain a bit about the Miranda Snapshots before I go. "While Walking Home At Midnight" was originally written for a local ghost story contest. I knew it wouldn't win, as it's far from a traditional ghost, or spooky, story, but it got me to write.


I was pretty happy with the little story, written to the contest's very short word count guidelines. My friends seemed to be happy as well, until they got to the ending. My lovely ambiguous ending. I liked it that way. They wanted to know more. Pain and death were mentioned in connection with my name if I didn't tell what happened next. Being as allergic to pain as the next person, this worried me a bit, although I really didn't see a certain website providing friend driving all the way from New Jersey to make good on the threat. Still, ya never know with guys. So I had to figure out what happened next. And how I was going to write it.


Thus the "snapshot" was born. It was just a little slice of what was happening, kept to the same word count as the original story. This is why they are so danged short and rather lacking in those colorful details a certain pediatric surgeon mentioned in his comment. (Thank you, Chris, by the way. I really appreciated the feedback.) It would probably have a bit more depth with some of those details, but I was struggling to get what I was feeling onto paper. These little bits are good exercise for that. (I also just realized that I had about 50 more words to play around with, dang it!)


I'm the least happy with this snapshot and yet I think it's got some of the most emotion in it. I really like the fourth snapshot, which I'll share next Friday. It's the last one I wrote, just a couple of years ago. Will there be more? I honestly can't say. It's difficult to write a character that you don't know that well and, honestly, I've not gotten to know Miranda that well through the years. Maybe, now that these are getting posted, she'll climb into my brain and take it over for a little while, letting me know what makes her tick. If that happens, there will be more. Maybe this is what I'll do for NaNo this year - write more about Miranda. Hmmm, that's a thought. If this other idea doesn't pan out by November....


Thanks for reading.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Fiction Fridays: The Dark Stranger

Please work with me here. I want to try something new where every Friday I post some new fiction for you to read. I know it's technically Saturday, at least in the Eastern timezone, because my computer is telling me that it's now 1:48 am, but since I haven't been to bed yet, my brain still claims that it's Friday. Close enough.

This is the second installment, or snapshot, in my Miranda series, which is growing at a snail's pace. I posted the first one back in December, but it was written before Drama Queen was born. I think, honestly, that this is the weakest of bunch, but you can let me know what you think. I'll post the third bit next Friday. And hopefully, I'll be able to keep this up, posting fiction for you to read on every Friday. (No promises during NaNo, though.)

Enjoy. And please, leave me some feedback. I know I've got followers, so tell me what you think. Otherwise, I'll get all lonely and depressed.....*pout*

The Dark Stranger

His silent call washed over her.

Follow me.
Follow me, Miranda
I can end your pain, stop your suffering.
Follow me, Miranda.

Drawn forward by those steady grey eyes, and the sililant whispering of his words in her mind, Miranda stepped forward into the alley, barely aware. A third of the way down iron steps snaked upward, into the night. He paused at teh base. Waiting. Slowly, she ascended, drawn onward by that impenetrable gaze.

From the roofop, they stood looking out over the University's Common Green, Grey Chapel towering in the background. October's half-moon cast its silvery color over all.

"My poor, Miranda. You've suffered such pain." His hand caressed the side of her warm face as she turned, fitting her head to his cool palm. A soft sigh was his only answer.

"Would you like me to ease your pain, Miranda? Hmm? Remove it entirely, giving you the rest of oblivion? Or..." Pause. Grey eyes searched her face intently, "would you like me to give you a new life?" His hand slid beneath her hair to the soft skin of her neck, drawing her into him. Her hands, resting on his chest, detected no heartbeat singing beneath her touch. "Which would you wish of me, Miranda? You've only to ask...but you MUST choose."

Tentative.
Trembling.
Searching.
"Please, end it..."

With infiinte slowness he leaned over her. Lips brushed mouth. Cheek. Neck, where he hesitated briefly. Miranda barely registered the pain as he sank into her flesh. Hands clutched at his shirt. She cried softly. Struggled briefly, futily. Finally she collapsed against him. The roaring, pounding heartbeat all that was heard. A lightheadedness threatened to consume her.

Thump, thump.
Thump, thump.
Thump, thump.

Gradually the hammering subsided as other sounds seeped into her awareness. Breath's soft ragged whisper. The gentle, sucking sounds at her neck. Miranda could feel his hand, holding her in place. His arm around her waist more intimate than any lover's sweet embrace.

Thump, thump.
Thump, thump.
Thump, thump.

Miranda's heartbeat became fainter, fading towards nothingness as she fought against the dark curtain drawing in around her. Muffling her senses. She struggled in vain, blackness overtaking her, pulling her down. Down towars death.

The man lifted his head as she collapsed completely into him. Holding her upright a moment more, he contemplated the look of serenity on her face. Once more caressing her cheek with the back of his hand, he sank to the rooftop, drawing her onto his lap. Ah, Miranda, not it's time for you to choose. I wonder? Will you come back to stay with me awhile? The stranger bent over her again, grey eyes scrutinizing. A gentle kiss. Quickly biting his wrist, he lowered it to her death-parted lips. Come to me, my Miranda.

Copyright, Melinda M. Knowlton Fulk, 28 May, 1998

Friday, August 7, 2009

More from Drama Queen

I'm supposed to be writing, but I'm also still in the sorting mood. Go figure. The trick was to have my husband start a story line around my oldest character (the one I've been playing the longest) and then not be able to find her. BIG incentive, but so far I've had no luck. However, I have been finding some gems from my kids. DQ wrote this one during the past school year. Hope you enjoy it AND learn something...

The Iroquois were not farmers. They hunted and fished. They would use spears to fish with. It was called spear fishing and for hunting they would use spears, bow and arrows to kill the animals they were after. The Iroquois liked to make necklaces to wear to festivities. The main Iroquois tribes where the Huron, Erie, Tobacco and Neutral tribes.

[I'm not sure what she's doing with that last paragraph...]

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Bonus Bedtime Story!

The things you find when cleanind and sorting. Here's a little gem written by Drama Queen maybe last year? Enjoy!

One day on a farm, well not just any farm, a unicorn farm, a baby unicorn was born. His mom's name was Flower and his name was Horsie. The farmer's name was Rowan.

The baby unicorn was easily pleased. With his magic he could change boring stuff into fun stuff. He could change grass into candy, sticks into fruit, manure into hay, and make magic gardens with faries and sprites and toadstools and pools of crystal water.

He was a happy unicorn and still is.

The end.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Sunburn Remedy

Let's preface this post by reminding everyone that I'm not a doctor, or nurse practitioner, or PA. Got that? Use common sense and seek medical help if you're really that badly sunburned.

Okay, got that out of the way. Several years ago, my husband got the worst sunburn over far too much of his body while helping some friends prepare for a lamas ritual. He'd been working without a shirt on and was close to crimson in color, front and back. I hurt just watching him. So, what's a witchy-wife to do? Why, she turns to her herbals of course. This is what a concocted, and, in a move that shows how miserable he really was, this is what Mr. Incredible gave a try. It was almost as good as lavender oil on a regular burn. In short, amazing. (Of course, don't try this if you're allergic to anything in it, okay? Don't want you to make things worse.)

Take equal amounts chamomile, crushed juniper berries, lavender buds, rose petals, and witch hazel to make an infusion. I'd say maybe an 1/8 to a 1/4 cup to about 2 cups water. Pour the liquid into a cool bath and add 1/2 cup finely ground oatmeal. (The contents of a packet of Aveeno's would do nicely.) Soak in the water for about half an hour and finish off with a good lotion.

This didn't just help his pain, but it also reduced the severity of the burn drastically by the next day. I can't swear it will work all the time, since fortunately he's only gotten burnt that badly once.

Another good sunburn relief is straight vinegar applied to the burnt area with a washcloth. You could probably pour some vinegar in a bath and soak in it as well.

Of course, the best bet is to remember to use your sunscreen in the first place, but where's the fun in that?

Friday, July 24, 2009

Fill In Friday

A friend of mine found this blog that provides a template of sentences to finish. Apparently it happens every Friday, and since I haven't really posted in awhile....

And...here we go!
1. Writer's block is not the end of the world. It will go away at some point.
2. Sitting here, listening to the sound of rain falling, I lose myself in a really good book.
3. This salad I'm having for dinner tastes so good!
4. Sometimes, putting others first is easy and feels good, other times its the hardest thing in the world.
5. Watching my friend's young son enjoying the freedom to just run and run is breathtaking, really.
6. Well, maybe there is a good reason I don't take my kids grocery shopping with me when I'm already tired. It was fun, though.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to some gaming, tomorrow my plans include making lots of zucchini bread and Sunday, I want to maybe see a movie!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Quickie


I am working on a post. Honest. But until I get it finished, here's a little something to share. Its' on the back of something Monkey Girl colored for me. And now, back to writing. (And if you call me now, it better be an emergency, cause I'm not answering the phone otherwise!)

Friday, June 12, 2009

Star Trek

The Kate took me to see Star Trek tonight. Oh. My. God. Thank you for giving us J. J. Abrahms so he could make this movie. I'm serious. I thought it was that good. I remember watching the show on tv in the 70s and being totally captivated. This movie was so true to the show and yet gave it the splash and boom it needed to be completely awesome on the big screen. The actors was believable in as the characters so many of us fell in love with. Uhura and Spock were completely believable and gave Spock that touch of humanity the character needed. Leonard Nimoy was, well, I almost cried just seeing him on screen as the much beloved character. (He was always my favorite.) It worked. May this new take on the franchise live long and prosper. I think the Roddenberry's would be proud.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!



See that photo up there? That's my mother, second from the right in the back row. All the rest of those wonderful people are her brothers, sisters, and their surviving spouses. All six of Grandma's kids are still alive and only two are widows. I think that's pretty impressive.

There are some funny stories about my mom. She's a bit eccentric, although someone made her day not too long ago by telling her she was "quirky". For someone who's kinda shy and more than a bit of an introvert, she's a lot of fun. I think that's part of why she's the goofy way she is - it's her way of coping with the world and people around her. It's also one of the things I love so much about her.

I was talking with my friend, Corvus, a couple of weeks after Dad passed away and he asked about my mom. He was wondering if she was still living since I never talked about her much. Actually, I probably wouldn't have talked about Dad as much if it weren't for driving him to appointments and such. (He was quiet and retiring as well.) Now, the really funny part of this is that Corvus met my mother just a few months ago at Eldest Daughter's birthday party. She's the one who put the giant fuzzy purple spider on his son's head.

I love my mom. She's given up a lot over the year's for my sister and I. Like many moms, when times are tight, she's gone without so we could have. I'd like to think life rewarded her a bit when it brought my step-father into the picture. Life hasn't always been easy and we still don't always understand each other, but I see more of her in myself every day....and I'm at an age where I'm fairly okay with that.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Guinea Pig Love


Guinea Pig Love, originally uploaded by Tryllyam.

This was Monkey Girl's petition to convince me a guinea pig would be a great new pet. We didn't get a guinea pig, as we can't figure out where to put the cage so it would be safe from the dogs. Other than on top of the entertainment center, that is. And I don't want a guinea pig cage as the focal point on the entertainment center. However, it's so cute, the above nearly had me saying yes anyway.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Wednesday Meanderings


100_1448, originally uploaded by Tryllyam.

I'm not entirely sure how to get out of the writing funk I've fallen into since Dad's death. Of course, I live in Athens County and it's allergy season, which certainly contributes. Ugh. I'm getting back to where I really, really want to write. Now I just need to get back into the story. It's not too far away. I can feel the need to put pen to paper - or fingers to keyboard - building up pressure.

I thought I might get there this afternoon, but the cold/allergies/sore throat is just too much distraction. It feels as though someone took sandpaper to my throat in an attempt to distress it. I've had 4 mugs of hot tea, a bowl of beef ramen soup, and at least one other hot, sorta Asian noodle dish. And potato chips. There's still half a pot of tea, made in a 10-cup coffee maker, but I'm not sure my stomach will let me drink it.

And there is HC-TV. I brought the little guys out off their shelf in the bathroom so I could watch them while I work. Right now they're all napping. Earlier I thought mine, Perse, might be getting ready to molt - and she still might - because she'd tucked herself into a corner near one of the smaller shells, but then she got energetic and started doing laps around their habitat. It's fun watching them trying to climb the plastic walls. And each other. And the extra shells. And then sometimes they perch on the small pronged branch. They are so alien looking and yet so damned cute at the same time.

Flickr

This is a test post from flickr, a fancy photo sharing thing.

Monday, April 13, 2009

We Survived

Yes, we survived the beginning of Sandlot Softball practice and book fair AND it being Holy Week. I realized Wednesday night, as we were getting ready to show a movie to the kids in the upper grades, that I'd totally forgotten Easter was almost upon us and we hadn't colored any eggs. What kind of mother was I? When was I going to color eggs with the girls? Wednesday was the book fair movie night, Thursday was Maundy Thursday services, which I'd told Pastor D. I'd help her set up for. Friday we usually take down the book fair and pack it back up for Scholastic AND the girls had ball practice. (We didn't pack things up because we were both just too danged tired.) Finally, on Saturday we were supposed to meet up with my mom and sister to load up some of the last stuff from Dad's.

Now I know, in the grand scheme of things that coloring pagan symbols of fertility for Easter Sunday isn't all that big of a deal, but I don't like to just ignore things I want to be family tradition. And having it as a family tradition means we couldn't just rush through things either. So, Thursday night after services, I boiled up a dozen eggs, thinking we'd fit in time on Friday somehow. About an hour, after school, and we'd be good, right?

Didn't happen. There just wasn't enough time between getting home from school and needing to be at practice. Forgive me, Gods of Sandlot, but I really was praying for it to rain that afternoon. It didn't. It did rain out the end of practice, though. We'd still have time to color eggs after getting home. Nope. Didn't happen. The van wouldn't start. And it was pouring down the rain. *sigh* The Kate came to our rescue, but the van still wouldn't start when she tried to jump me. (The van, guys. Watch those gutters.) She waited on Triple A while I left in her car to get the kids home to eat.

We didn't head to my family's on Saturday. This, I think, was overall a good thing. Yeah, we didn't help getting the stuff to Goodwill. We did a get a day of seriously needed rest. Mr. Incredible was recovering from a migraine the day before. I was, umm, having a bad day of lower back pain. And the girls were just fried. Jeff got the van fixed in the morning - it was a bad battery. I spent a good chunk of the day in bed. Mr. Incredible and the girls went for a bike ride that afternoon and we all had pizza for dinner. (Mr. I. makes seriously good pizza.) And we colored Easter eggs, although THAT didn't happen until about 9 that night. It was fun.

I made it to services on Easter morning. Pastor D. did an awesome job. We had ham for dinner and then had a family we're friends with over for an egg hunt in the backyard. Not bad for on the fly. And it was a good first Easter at home. Next year I intend to be back at Grandma's for Easter weekend. I want the girls to have those memories for when she's no longer around. (This is MY grandmother we're talking about.) I want to have those memories. And we all want to have the experience in the here-and-now.

It was still a good day, though. :)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

My Fortune Beans


This was inspired by the egg tree at my grandma's. A couple of my cousins' kids put some plastic eggs on her azalea bush in the front yard. I love how bright and shiny the cheap-o plastic eggs look in all the drear of early spring. I was worried, though, that the eggs might just walk off, given our location on one of the major roads through where we live, which also goes right past the district's high school. Hrmm, what to do? Well, I thought, if they walk, there should be something in them. Thus were born Fortune Beans. I went with the plastic jelly beans because I didn't need to poke holes in the top for the string. Inside each colorful bean is a nifty little fortune cookie fortune, found with an online search.

As for them walking off....Well, except for the wind knocking one down, all of them are still on the bush out front. Making me smile every time I look.

Book Fair

Where I am all week: bookfairs.scholastic.com

We're having our spring book fair over at the school this week, complete with evening events. Tonight the cute younger kids are having their spring music program and tomorrow night we're having a movie event for the upper grades. We screening Twilight for a bunch of 4th, 5th, and 6th graders. It'll hopefully be a blast!

As soon as I remember, and get the time, I'll post some pics from the fair. It was so much fun decorating for it!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Fugue State

Well, finishing the book by the end of February and having Revision One doen by today hasn't happened. In fact, I haven't really written much since my craft article for Llewellyn. (Which, by the way, was a lot of fun!) But then Monkey Girl was home for two weeks with the flu, then Dad died and there went another week of my life where I just couldn't focus to write. We just finished up a week-long spring break, during which the girls and I went to Grandma's for sever days - and I dealt with more Dad stuff. After a month and a half, Memory Lane has become a well-worn trail. And I find myself in a bit of an overall funk lately. Even worse than I usually get as the seasons shift from Winter to allergy Spring.

However, it's not as though I haven't had other creative moments, though there haven't been many. I've done some card swaps the last couple of months, thanks to one of my email lists. (I'll post the scans for the February swaps soon. I might even share the lentil stew recipe from the recipe card swap.)

On the Dad's Stuff front, his trailer is done except for getting the last bits out. Decisions have been mande about everything, which I think was the harder, more time consuming part. That's also where all those trips down Memory Lane happen. My sis and I got through it pretty well, without many tears or arguments between us. She's still trying to figure out why I'm so darned excited over getting Dad's military stuff. It's not like he was on active duty longer than it took for him to train and then he did the minimum time in the Reserves. This was back in the late 60s. I don't know, I just get excited over that stuff. And it was obviously important to Dad or he wouldn't have kept it his entire life.

It's interesting to see what folks find so important in their lives.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Futility!

I've been avoiding the social networking sites because I really, really don't need something else to keep updated. Honest. It would never happen....or at least not very often. So, tonight while gorging myself on Mr. Incredible's pizza, our friend Pastor D. comments on how she keeps expecting to friend me on Facebook. The Kate and I had just been talking earlier in the day about how I was avoiding these things for as long as I can.

And so, now, you too can be my friend. I'm officially on Facebook. Look for Melinda Fulk. No A.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Cool Free Images

I know, its a bit late for this, but Lisa Vollrath has another wonderful countdown on her website. Check it out before they're gone!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Wow!

Sorry not to have posted anything at all in at least two weeks, but, unfortunately, the title of my last post was very appropriate for the coming days. My father passed away the night of February 21st. I found out a few hours before my Girl Scout meeting the next day and then left for my grandmother's on Monday. (Yes, that would be my father's mom I'm referring to - she's 85 and fabulous!) I've been overall fine, but in a bit of a busy funk ever since. I want to write more about my father and am hoping that will happen in the next week. In the meantime, I'm planning on returning to my grandmother's yet again this weekend to help my sister sort through his stuff....and dealing with our yearly Girl Scout cookie sale. I'm not sure which is more mind-numbing. ;)

So, before asking if there's anything you can do to help, do me a favor. Go hug your kids if you have them, because you never know what's down the road. Watching a parent bury their child is heart-wrenching, even when the child they're burying is your parent. And if you don't have kids, go hug you parent or someone who's like a parent to you. And thanks from me for your help in this.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Unfortunately...

Jenny Harris posted this hilarious meme on her blog, Allsorts. Simply type "Unfortunately, [your name]" into Google search and then stand back to enjoy the results. Remember to include the quote marks around your search, or you'll be all over the place.

Unfortunately, Melinda escaped just as Security arrived.

But unfortunately, Melinda must also contend with a very serious matter: her actress mother has developed a very serious drinking problem.

Unfortunately, Melinda writes, "the most appreciative audience to these bathroom heroics turned out to be the Repair Man himself."

Unfortunately, Melinda had said nothing about her nervousness and fears about handling such a large group.

Unfortunately, Melinda being there just motivated Pete to ride all the harder and he beat us even worse than he probably would have without her pushing him.

Unfortunately, Melinda the professional, the ballerina, the Tony-nominated choreographer loses her balance and falls on top of the accordion player.

Unfortunately, Melinda expects that her admittedly fabulous body and gorgeous looks and wonderful costume changes are going to do the job for her.

Unfortunately, Melinda's blood work revealed she was in kidney failure and there was nothing we could do for her except to humanely ease her suffering.

Unfortunately, Melinda went through with her plans but was unsuccessful, and she is serving life in prison for murder.

Unfortunately, Melinda and I are separated geographically by half a continent, and it can definitely feel lonely at times living so immersed in all things "Brokeback", while those around you are tending to other things, blithely unaware that the most important film ever made is waiting, just patiently waiting, to be seen and appreciated by them.

Unfortunately, Melinda was hanged during the trials but because of the generosity of those who took care of her daughter after her death, her line was able to continue and eventually develop into the strongest good magic ever.

I think my favorite is "Unfortunately, Melinda escaped just as Security arrived." It's so danged open-ended. Oh, and the Melinda with kidney failure was an absolutely beautiful cat. That was kinda sad.

Thursday, February 19, 2009



Even with sick kids, I managed to finish up the land-in-your-lap, last minute article for Llewellyn's 2010 Herbal Almanac. It's on crafting with pine cones and was an absolute joy to write. I got a great chemistry review/lesson while working on the colored flames section of the piece. And yes, the girls are feeling better, even though the youngest has been home still most of the week. You know the school's been hit hard when the principal tells you to keep her home if she looks sick.

Right now, I'm feeling a bit burnt out on writing, so I'm going to spend the rest of this week and the weekend doing other creative things and try to recharge my batteries. I've reached the conclusion that I'm not going to finish Idol Pursuits this month. Hopefully I can hit it fresh and full of energy in a week or so and get everything finished up.

In the meantime, please enjoy the card up above. It was most of my Valentine's day gift for Mr. Incredible. That's my first ever lino print, based on a pendant he gave me at Christmas. I'm trying to get a good photo of the pendant, as well as the gorgeous chain he made to go with it, but so far there's just a nasty reflection off the copper. Anyway, it made a great subject for the print. And gave me a very happy husband. (I also messed with his computer, changing his wallpaper to one of the girls taken during the ice storm and then adding a custom playlist to his media player.)

I really love that guy.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Medievally-Inspired Stamps



One last craft post, for the time being. Whiff of Joy is releasing a set of medieval-inspired stamps, which they are previewing all this week. Check it out. I'm drooling over the first two to be shown as a teaser, especially the jester. I can think of all kinds of wonderful cards to make for Mr. Incredible using this stamp. Isn't he cute?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Valentines

Yep, it's almost that time of year designed for lovers and excitable children, as well as making the greeting card, chocolate, and floral businesses very happy. And no, I'm not being cynical, as I happen to have a lover as well as excitable children. (I also happen to have friends who are single and I know how some of them HATE Valentine's day.)

For the past couple of weeks, I've been finding wonderful printable Valentine's online. It would be mean not to share, some of these are so cute. And if you like to make your own, check out the Valentine's countdown over at Ten Two Studios. Lovely vintage-y graphics for you to download and make all kinds of pretties with.


(Inside a Black Apple) has some very sweet looking little cuties on her Valentine's, complete with a sentiment in French.

Bunny Cakes has not one, or even two, but three different Valentine's card downloads - zebras, conversation hearts, and love is all you need.

Living Locurto's cards feature darling owls and perfect for giving to someone who's just a friend.

Cottage Industrialist has some really cute cowpoke themed cards on her site.

Tricia-Rennea Art
has cards with a bonus - they've got a slot to cut so you can tuck in a lollipop! And the puppy is adorable There are also some folded heart note cards as well.

Secret Agent Josephine has some really cute, kid-themed animal cards to print and give.

Zakka Life also has some cute Valentine's, depicting a snail where you create the shell by slipping a sucker. Kinda cute.

Finally, Skip To My Lou has quite a list of groanable, pun-worthy sentiments perfect for making your own cute cards. Check it out.

Whatever side of the heart your on, I hope you have a great Saturday!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Note to Self

Next time I'm taking a few notes for a writing project, remember to use my writing journal. I'm less likely to lose it than the note pad I did use this time, saving myself an hour of searching around for it!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Characters

Well, I've done up character sketches of Lilly Sinclair, who is the main character and narrator of my book, as well as Blake Cressley, the evil bad guy. Jake, our hero, will show up here eventually. He's going to prove a little trickier, as he's got a much longer history than Lilly. When he does show up on the blog, it'll probably be in bits and pieces. Don't want to give away any of the fun of discovery you'll have in the book.

I've also added "Lilly's Reading List" to the sidebar. It'll grow as I reacquaint myself with these short stories, although I've honestly not read all of Dracula or Frankenstein. I'll need to fix that when I have time.

And now I at least need to try to tackle the last of the editing. The goal is to finish the book this month. Some of us local NANO alumns have decided to use February to either finish up projects or kick-start new ones. I'm looking forward to the challenge, as well of the joy of finding out what happens in the book between where I'm not at and the ending.

Enjoy. And tomorrow, or Friday, I'll try to post a crafty project or something, just to change things up a bit.