Fourteen-year-old Jerry Craft had shoved his mask deep into the back pocket of his dusty stained jeans five-hundred miles ago. He’d scurried into a boxcar at Denver and the inspectors hadn’t found him when they stopped in Salt Lake. Now somewhere in Nevada, August heat scorching him clean, he felt free. “No COVID’s gonna get me.” He suddenly coughed, doubling over and nearly falling from his perch just above the car coupling. Sitting down, his inner demon quieted and let him speak once more. “With Ma and Pa already dead, ain’t gonna let COVID get me before the cancer does.”
The submission call was for up to five short stories, each between 100 and 500 words long. I submitted two and one was accepted.
Here’s an excerpt. Warning: it’s a bit “spicy”:
“I never thought anything could be so beautiful.” Natori, the young shaman’s son staggered on the rough trail in the lush forest. The fog was a widow’s shroud on the land. Though he was warm in the unfamiliar clothes of the Qu’ullad people, he still shivered.
Vastusia, took his hand, his flesh slightly darker than hers, and smiled. “I told you there was a world beyond the savanna.”
He frowned. V’rovi traditions do not forbid us traveling to other places.”
“Only discourage it.”
“Our land, our traditions define us. We would cease to be a people without them.”
As you know if you’re a regular reader, three of my stories were accepted in the Dark Valentine Holiday Horror Collection: A Flash Fiction Anthology. What you don’t know is that it’s available for pre-order right now, with auto-delivery to your kindle device on February 1, 2020.
The link above is universal to Amazon, but here’s more:
“Been coming here to Cloverdale for a while now, Taklishim.” Alan Tupper stood in front of the abandoned general store, almost all that was left of the ghost town in southern New Mexico.
“You have been my good friend since you were a boy.”
“I’m twenty-six now and getting ready to get out of the service.”
“I thought you liked the Army.”
“Talking to you every year since that last reunion changed me.”
“You have never taken life unjustly.”
“But ol’ Captain Tupper did.”
Juan’s flight from his native Briviesca to Asunción in Paraguay was grueling, especially after two layovers. He was grateful to find a cab to take him the sixteen miles into the city.
“Senor wants to be taken to the river? No particular place?” What passed for Spanish in this country seemed almost barbaric to Juan.
“Yes, it doesn’t matter.”
The cab driver thought it odd that the Spaniard had no luggage, but Juan wasn’t planning a lengthy stay, or not one the cabbie would understand. As his mind and existence was cast backward, the cab, the buildings, the city itself became increasingly alien.
Tomoe Gozen led her legion of female samurai across the wastelands south toward Edo Bay. It was there she heard of the slaughter that took place of the populations of Tokyo, Kanagawa Prefecture, and Chiba Prefecture by the hated American Commodore Matthew Perry.
The great houses had been destroyed by so called “gunboat diplomacy.” She and her companions of long acquaintance were well aware of the “Unequal Treaties” that had been imposed upon China in the previous ten years since the Opium War. This would not happen in Nippon, or if it did, then she and her company, a thousand strong, would be dead and never witness the atrocity.
Not the news I had hoped to deliver by now, but I just found out that “Eleanor Merry Presents: Dark X-Mas is now available to pre-order both at Amazon US and Canada for delivery on your Kindle device December 1, 2019.
Here’s the “blurbs” again for the two drabbles I have featured within its virtual pages:
For centuries, the innocent belief of children breathed life into Santa Claus, bringing him into the homes of millions every December 24th, laden with gifts for precious cherubs. But the world changed and children changed, and finally there was too little faith left to keep the old elf going and he expired.
But this year, Santa’s chief servant Alabaster found ten wee ones he could spirit away from their cozy beds at the stroke of midnight in order to supplicate themselves at the grave of St. Nicholas. These children desperately want Santa back, but what horrible sacrifice will they be expected to make to resurrect a very different Santa from what the world has ever known?
“Bored, bored, bored.” Atlan manipulated the energy projecting into the boiler, cooling the steam. His partner Narangerel stood behind him in the locomotive’s cabin dilating time and slowing matter as they approached Sükhbaatar’s Trans-Mongolian station.
The eighteen-year-old girl looked at the back of her lover’s head. “You always say that, Atlan, but we are still apprentice elemental guides learning our craft.”
“I know.” The water cooled, he turned to her. “I’d just like a little excitement.”
As Narangerel released time and fixed the wheels of the stopped train, she looked out and up. “Atlan!”
From over the Russian border it appeared in the air, lit by the first rays of the sun. It was a man on a dragon, but the wings were made from massive brass rods and gears.
Atlan stared over Narangerel’s shoulder as the gleaming clockwork dragon and the dead engineer began the greatest adventure of their lives.
It wrote this wee missive for the What Pegman Saw challenge. The idea is to use the photograph/location presented by the Pegman as the prompt for crafting a tale no more than 150 words long. My word count is 150.
Today, the Pegman takes us to Sükhbaatar, Mongolia.
I admit that it’s been a long time since I participated in one of these challenges. Truth to tell, the steam has run out of me. I’ve encountered a number of personal and professional reverses and it’s left me tired and bored.
It’s true that so far in 2019, eleven of my short stories have been chosen for publication, but as the deadline looms for several more, I feel empty.
The story above is set in the universe I’d like to write my next story in (though it never occurred to me to set it in Mongolia) where people can naturally manipulate the elements as that world’s form of technology. The “clockwork dragon” and his dead (resurrected) rider, the engineer, are actually the beginning of the story, but I don’t have the heart to dive in.
So I created my 150 word introduction, if you will, as an attempt to jump start my creativity. So far it’s not working.
To read other stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.