Eruption

geyser

Found at whygoiceland.com – no image credit available

Stop! If you haven’t done so already, read The Quest to Save Landon, When Hell Boils Over and Boiling Point first.

Asmodius, the King of the Demons of Hell and Buddy the Ambrosial Dragon, were literally battling tooth and nail in a fight to the death at the shore of a bubbling cauldron sea of sulfur and lava, both of them bleeding from a dozen wounds, though the dragon was getting the worst of it.

Hundreds of nearby demons flew or ran to them, forming a semi-circle near the combatants, setting up lawn chairs and sitting down with soda and popcorn to witness the fight.

Buddy had been thrown back by the demon and both paused, heavily breathing the fetid air of Hell.

“So, allies you call. In Hell all cheat.”

“Not so, dragon. What need of I with allies. In Hell, I’m supreme. I’ve got the home town advantage. They just like to watch.” The demon audience cheered for their champion, and Asmodius took a bow.

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Victorious

summit

© Sue Vincent

Casworon stood at the summit, his booted feet planted on the flagstone, his back, torn crimson cape over tarnished and broken chain mail, pressed against the ancient wall. The battle had been won, but at a terrible cost. The field below was littered with the dead of his foe, Jusveer, King of Zedrov, but so was it with his own dead, except for Arabel. His beloved Queen and wife had been taken during the conflict, by agents of Asluitania who were supposedly neutral.

Now that he had won the right to Jusveer’s lands and retained possession of his own, they would likely hold Arabel to random. No, Asluitania would not be interested in ruling these lands, but they would demand a yearly tribute in gold, oil, and spices. Casworon would have to sign a binding decree to pay annually after his Queen’s return. Plus, even if they had mistreated her, he could seek no vengeance against their ruler, Erembour, the sinister Shadowmaster, such was the nature of agreements with evil.

The Warrior King gazed out over the vastness of the western ocean, pining for his love as the distant barge, just at the horizon, carried her away to dark lands.

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The Digital Muse

houses

© Dale Rogerson

Another day, another sunrise. The sky is an ugly, pale yellow, and life is bland and uninspired.

“Hey, you.”

Addy turned toward her laptop sitting on the small desk in her bedroom. The speakers were on, so it was chattering away at her again.

“What do you want? I’m depressed.”

“Get over here. You have to finish your story. Marguerite’s trapped in that waterfront warehouse by Marsden’s goons. Will Preta be able to save her? You’ve got to help.”

A twinkle appeared in Addy’s eyes as she sat down at the computer, opened the file, and began to write.

I wrote this for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields flash fiction challenge. The idea is to use the image above as the prompt for crafting a poem or story no more than 100 words long. My word count is 99.

To me, the image is pretty depressing, a smoke-filled summer sky, and the promise of another scorching day. The original version of this story before I edited it down, was more descriptive, but there’s only so much you can do with 100 words.

I leveraged characters from my story The Haunted Detective, and as far as the talking computer goes, I’m leaving that part rather vague.

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

The Wishing Tree

wishing tree

© Sue Vincent

Little Mari, a year younger than five-year-old Zooey Davidson, took her by the hand as they ran toward the wishing tree. In their free hands, they each held a colorful cloth provided by Tala, who looked like she could be Mari’s teenage sister but wasn’t.

“Danilo helped me put my first one up. Now I’ll help you.”

“Did your brother tell you what it is?”

“Of course. It’s a wishing tree.”

“What do you wish for?”

“Anything you want.”

“Can I wish to go home?”

“I don’t know. A lot of the kids don’t want to go home.”

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Lost on Forlorn Seas

dragon

Japanese dragon

Kiyohira Arita was the only one in the lifeboat when he regained consciousness. What had happened? The eleven-year-old student had been on a ferry, the Shiun Maru. Yes, that was it. He was with his class on a school field trip crossing the Seto Inland Sea. The fog was so terrible. He and some of the other boys were on desk. He was trying to be brave, but he’d been freezing. Then he heard something, a horn of some kind. Then the world tore itself apart.

Now it was sunny and warm. Kiyohira had to take off his jacket because it was hot, like a summer day in the tropics though he knew it was only the beginning of May. Where was everybody? There must have been a crash, a collision. He looked in the water. No debris or wreckage. He looked further. Kiyohira knew she should be able to see land. They’d been in the middle of their transit so he shouldn’t be more than fifteen or twenty kilometers at most from the shore and even closer to one of the islands. They’d be impossible to miss on a day like this. Not a cloud in the sky.

But it was like he was in the middle of the ocean. He’d never been on the ocean before but he’d read books. Somehow he was put on a lifeboat after the collision and floated out to sea.

No, that was insane but how else could he have gotten here?

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Vovin

bridge

© Sue Vincent

The bridge between the exile of the Dark Hills and the tree city of the dragons Vovin was massive and ancient. Even the dragons and the elves had no name for it, nor did they know how it was built. It was wide enough to admit six golden dragons the size of Shay and Kaleen standing side-by-side, which was fortunate, since he was escorting his still weak and limping wife back toward home.

Danijel and Aidan were walking between them, the former feeling nearly as wounded and exhausted as her mentor.

Behind the dragons were the five Davidson children, and behind them was the Royal Vizier of Direhaven, Wynjeon, alongside the Mage Raibyr. In turn they were leading a troop of twenty elven warriors, the remains of Sergeant Petran’s meager forces replenished by hand-picked soldiers from the army’s main body.

“I can’t believe we made it.” Mandy was talking more to herself than anyone else. For months, they had fought the most deadly of foes, suffered immeasurably, and yet the five children were here, alive, and for the most part well.

Mandy wouldn’t tell anyone, not yet. The gift of healing was nothing short of miraculous, and she still didn’t know how she acquired it, but the healing came at a price. She was trying to hide her limp, the same one Shay suffered from, doing her best to conceal her fatigue, and the nausea that plagued her.

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Kentville

town

Found at Pinterest

“Grandpa has ears that truly listen, arms that always hold, love that’s never-ending, and a heart that’s made of gold.” –Anonymous

Keisha marveled at her first sight of Kentville as Isaiah navigated the steam-driven Fliver-B out of the tunnel and into the morning sun. Like the entrance to the Batcave, the camouflaged doors swung shut, and to the casual eye, they blended in with the rest of the mountain.

She was sitting beside Isaiah in the passenger seat, her large hat brim shading her eyes from the sunlight. Unlike San Francisco, this was a quaint little town nestled in the wooded mountains of a state park, quaint that is, except for the outrageous contraptions moving to and fro in the streets, adorning every building and even every person.

There were windmills driving cogs, turning sprockets, pushing rods, pumping water through fountains, turning fans that cleaned the sidewalks, and working escalators that led into the sides of shops, hotels, and apartment buildings.

Then there was the enormous brass clock face mounted on a tower at the south side of the town square. It was just striking nine o’clock, and a brass man took jerking steps out of an aperture set just below the clock, raised a large hammer with both hands, and then struck an equally brass anvil. “Clang.” He raised the hammer again and it fell, hitting the anvil with a “Clang,” and repeated that action seven more times. The brass man turned to face the square, and in a voice made of springs and metal filings announced, “Nine O’Clock in the morning.” In one final declaration of time telling, a steam whistle blew shrill notes. After that, the brass man retreated to the sanctuary of his robotic den to await the coming of another hour.

“That would get really annoying if you were trying to sleep.”

Isaiah chuckled, “I imagine it would, Miss Davis.”

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What’s Wrong with Putting Religion in Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories?

parallel universes

Found at numerous publications including TrendInTech.com – Not image credit available

I just finished reading a blog post called Of Permanent Things, Part II written by my friend and Holocaust educator Dan Hennessy. It reminded me of the importance of including religious and spiritual themes in fiction writing, including science (speculative) fiction and fantasy.

I’m in the process of producing first drafts of two novels. The first is about five children mysteriously transported into a fantasy world of dragons, demons, and elves having to undergo a heroic journey and facing danger and adventure at every turn. The second is about a fifteen-year-old African-American girl taking up her recently deceased Grandpa’s journey into a Steampunk world in order to help a younger version of her Grandpa stop a corrupt tycoon from destroying both of their universes.

While I don’t make it explicit in the fantasy novel, the five Davidson children are Jewish. No, they’re not observant, and aside from the occasional mention of praying (usually when the situation is very grim), I have, at best, cast them in the role of Reform Jews. Why I’ve made them Jewish as opposed to generic “white kids” will become apparent only in the latter portion of the third novel where their journey will be finally resolved.

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Last Stand

wave

© Sue Vincent

“Archers! At the ready!” Petran gave the command to his meager squad of elven soldiers as they formed a perimeter around the five Davidson children and the magician Raibyr. Nine-year-old Taylor was at the center with his siblings when he remembered he also had his bow and arrows.

The wind was frigid and fierce, which fortunately made the attacking Beelzebub horde uncertain in the air, but would also make accuracy with the bow extremely difficult.

The sense of the warrior Azzorh within Taylor came over him, and he nocked his first arrow.

The bat-winged demons were in as tight a formation as possible given the storm that was tracking toward the party from the west; a massive cloud of swollen, sickly green flies whose home was sewage, and whose taste was for blood.

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When Hell Boils Over

shark

Photo: Discovery Channel

Stop! If you haven’t done so already, read The Quest to Save Landon first.

Landon’s soul shot straight up from the pits of Hell as fast as he could go, but Hell was a lot more confusing than he realized. There were all kinds of tunnels and passageways all over the place. Which one led him out of Hell, and even if he could find it, how was he going to get back to the Moose realm and his dying body?

“Wait!” He saw a blue light just above him. “That’s got to be it.”

He heard yelling, and screaming, and a bunch of voices making vile threats against him. Looking back, there were hundreds of winged demons pursuing him, and they were catching up.

“Oh no.”

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