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.)


Douglas Clegg

The Strange Event at Wickedy River

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…
"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.
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.
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.
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."
" 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.
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.


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."

"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?