Another Very Nice Rejection

It was actually sort of encouraging:

Thank you for submitting “The Demon in the Mask” to *****. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite meet the needs of our *****.

It’s an engaging story, with a satisfying arc, but we feel that it falls more within the realm of Fantasy than Horror.

Thanks for submitting, and best wishes for you and your work.

Still getting that “always the bridesmaid” feeling.

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Rainbow’s Edge

rainbow

© April Pearson

A rainbow is nothing magical, just the result of light shining through a lot of drops of rain and being dispersed into a spectrum of light in the sky. Okay, I’ll buy that as far as it goes, but why is it in the shape or a bow?

Sometimes the bow forms a semi-circle with ends that touch different parts of the earth. What would happen if you came across one of those ends.

Yesterday, I did.

I was hiking on a trail in the deep interior of the Valley of Fire. The sky was overcast. I love November. It had been raining all day, but the storm was ahead of me now. That’s when I saw it; the edge.

The base was fuzzy, indistinct as it touched the ground, and there certainly no pot of gold there. It looked more than a trick of light, especially as it illuminated the shadows, cut off from the sun’s rays.

On the 4th day in November, Madelyn April Cross touched a rainbow and became all the colors of the universe. Then she knew what to do next.

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction challenge of November 4, 2018. The idea is to use the image above as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 185.

I can’t really tell you what made me write the story the way I did. I can tell you that the Valley of Fire is a real place that is roughly 60 miles from Las Vegas, Nevada. I hiked there many times in my youth.

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com.

What the Storm Brings

stark desert

© Sue Vincent

Tom Allen lived in his Dad’s old cabin five miles west of New Mexico State Highway 107 along about twenty miles south of Magdalena. The retired astronomer stepped out behind his place and put his left hands on the branch of a dead tree. Figured he’d cut it down for firewood, though he had plenty already for the winter.

“Looks like we’ll be getting some rain from the west, ol’ girl.” He patted Sally’s head, and the golden retriever nuzzled her snout against the leg of his jeans.

He’d been born in a little town south of Albuquerque sixty-six years ago last Friday, so being dressed in his old Stetson, a plaid shirt, faded blue denim jeans and high leather boots seemed normal to him, but the old normal, since he’d spent most of his adult life in places like Pasadena’s JPL, Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, and the Mauna Kea Observatory in Hawaii, not to mention in the halls of academia. His colleagues at Stanford and MIT would never understand.

“Storm’s getting closer. We’d better head back in, especially before you see some rabbit you want to be chasing.”

Sally barked with ascent and then happily followed the old man back into the house.

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Sunday Afternoon, a Little Girl, a Tree, and Dragons

I was spending time drawing with my three-year-old granddaughter, and while she was scribbling on her piece of paper, I borrowed another she’d lightly worked on and added a few things.

I can see all the colors of autumn out my back window, so naturally, I started with a tree. Then, because I read one of my dragon stories to my nine-year-old grandson earlier, I had to add a few of them.

Enjoy.

© James Pyles

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The Legend of Earth

glimmer

© Sue Vincent

Luke Wallace stumbled over the alien terrain as the dawning sun rose to his left, but it was the twinkling of tiny lights directly in his path that had been holding his attention for the past three hours.

The biologist was the sole survivor of the “Hawking,” an exploratory superluminal spacecraft owned by Blue Astra Space Corporation. The primary power coupling blew just 92 hours after they’d returned to normal space, and 15 minutes after they’d entered orbit around Kessel-Origan B, the most Earth-like exoplanet ever discovered, and only 167 light years from home.

He was the only one to get to an escape pod in time as cryonic gas from the exploding coolant system filled the command module. He ejected the pod, passing through energy ripples caused by the dying FTL drive, what Hicks once called “the probability machine.” The exotic radiation passed directly through the pod’s hull, and it felt like he was swimming through liquid fire when it hit his body.

Five hours ago, he regained consciousness. The pod had already landed, or rather, crash landed. His safety couch had deployed insulating gel,which had shielded him from the shock of impact, but the controls, radio, emergency beacon were all gone. He was lucky to retrieve a three-day supply of water and rations, but there was no going back. He would either have to find a way to survive on an alien world or die.

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The New Dragon Saga: Reversal

time stone

Image of the time stone in the amulet of Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) from the 2018 film “Avengers: Infinity War.”

Chapter 5: Estaban’s finger poised over the trigger as he pointed the handgun at the little boy and his baby sister. His back was to the paralyzed Landon and Steve, but the wizards could imagine the wicked grin on the villain’s face as he was just seconds away from killing the teenage sorcerer’s childhood self.

“Landon?” It was Grandpa’s voice coming from inside the house. He was about to open the screen door to see what his grandchildren were up to.

Then Estaban wheeled around, pointed the pistol at Steve and fired. In that instant, the temporal field holding the older Landon in place vanished and he tumbled to his left. He could see the bullet crossing the space between the two twins, the expression on Estaban’s face was one of sorrow, not evil.

His blind right eye couldn’t see the shield collapse around Steve just an instant before the bullet was to strike, nor the rage twisting his face. He barely had time to raise an elemental air shield between the combatants and his family. As the .45 caliber projectile struck Steve, he suddenly wasn’t there anymore.

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She Rides a Pale Horse

skull

© Sue Vincent

Ed slowed his stock horse as he approached the bleached cow’s skull. “Easy there, Chester. Let’s have a look.” The aging rancher stiffly swung a leg over his mount, planted it on the grassy field, and then slipped the other booted foot out of the stirrup. He squared himself on the ground, hitched up his gun belt, then looked into the cloudy autumn sky. “Looks like rain, don’t you think?” The horse was impassive.

He slowly walked toward the vacant stare on the ground. “How long have you been here, old girl?” He pulled his hat down tighter on his gray head. “Bet you’ve seen a lot in your time.” Ed looked over his shoulder. “The way of the world, Chester. It’s the way of the world.”

A cold wind blew across the plain, but Ed didn’t take any notice. For a reason he couldn’t explain, he was captivated by the worn remains at his feet. Then the first drops of rain began to fall, lightly kissing the brim of his hat, his boots, even the skull. He turned back toward Chester and froze. His companion was standing stoically, patiently next to the body on the ground, Ed’s body.

“What in…?”

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The Last Hrtedyp

fall

© Sue Vincent

There were tears in seventeen-year-old Latoya Kelly’s eyes as she hiked toward the small waterfall and realized this would be her last Hrtedyp. It was always held on the first full day after the Fall Equinox, precisely at 4:33 p.m. She had only been five when she had her first Hrtedyp, and that had been by accident. She had been camping with her parents and grandparents, and the tiny child wandered off. She had been lost, and hungry, and scared, but by the time Daddy found her, she was full of Bueno Nacho, Everlasting Gobstopper, and was laughing and singing in a language nobody knew anything about. She tried to tell Mommy and Daddy about the Hrtedyp, but they thought she’d fallen asleep and had a dream.

Every year, they’d camp in the same place to welcome autumn, but she hadn’t been able to sneak away again to attend the Hrtedyp until she was eight. Then, she always made an excuse, year after year, to go on a hike alone, always from just before four until right after sunset.

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The Greeter

umbrellas

© Dale Rogerson

This had to be a dream because Jae didn’t remember how she got here, and who would decorate a room like this? At only five foot two, the slender Thai co-ed felt tiny in such enormous surroundings.

“Hurry up.” The deep, masculine voice was coming from the shadows ahead.

“This is my dream and I’ll come when I’m ready.”

“You’re not dreaming.”

“But the last thing I remember was going to bed.”

“That doesn’t mean it was the last thing that happened to you.”

“Wait. The car accident…”

“Yes. Welcome to the afterlife, Jae. I’m here to sign you in.”

I wrote this for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields photo writing challenge. The idea is to use the image above to craft a piece of flash fiction no more than 100 words long. My word count is 100.

The image looked surreal to me, so that’s how I wrote it. With only 100 words to play with, I could only vaguely develop my idea. Poor Jae.

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com.

Five Ridiculously Implausible Things The Progressive Left is Afraid Of

A.M. Freeman

A.M. Freeman as found on her blog.

A little while ago (as I write this), I came across something on A.M. Freeman’s blog called When The Satire Site Can’t Recognize Satire. It was written in response to an article at Cracked.com called 5 Ridiculously Implausible Things The Alt-Right Is Afraid Of (Yes, I ripped off the title). Apparently, the missive’s author S. Peter Davis read the Superversive Press anthology Forbidden Thoughts, first published in January 2017 (to which Ms. Freeman contributed a story), edited by Jason Rennie, and with a foreword by the highly controversial Milo Yiannopoulos, and didn’t like it very much (Oh, keep in mind, I’ve read some of Mr. Yiannopoulos’s work and frankly, I don’t have much use for it).

Reading his review, and assuming his rendition of the stories contained within the anthology are accurate, yes, the themes and content are wildly exaggerated outside the realm of probability, but that was exactly the point. As Freeman pointed out, they were written as satire, blowing modern controversial topics way, way out of proportion to prove a point. The same was done in another Superversive anthology I read and reviewed called To Be Men: Stories Celebrating Masculinity. Yes, they’re all written from a very conservative and sometimes religious perspective, but the concern here, and probably the reason for the existence of Superversive Press, is that SF/F is increasingly becoming biased (or so is the belief) toward the left and perhaps the progressive far left (alt-left?), such that the rest of us don’t have a voice in the genre.

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