The Vengeful

900 N Michigan

© Marie Gail Stratford

It was late when Mikiko Kojima checked into the Four Seasons Hotel at 900 N. Michigan in Chicago.

The building was known as Bloomingdale’s given the shopping establishment’s significant presence, including its name on the structure. It contained some of the most upscale stores in the nation and the rather luxurious hotel in which Mikiko had been booked occupied the 30th through the 46th floors of the building.

There had been a sudden mix up in reservations at the last-minute once unknown government agencies requested that a room be made available for Ms. Kojima’s stay. Accommodations for at least one guest had to be made elsewhere with certain financial incentives added in order for Mikiko to have room 3014 open to her at two hours notice.

Her suitcase had been sent ahead of her, although it wasn’t actually her luggage. A large Louis Vuitton case had been purchased and clothing in Mikiko’s size was bought, packed, and then sent to the Four Seasons and placed in her room. She would seem a more legitimate guest this way since she had left England only with a small handbag and a carry on.

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The Ascent

jump creek

Photo: Tyson White/KTVB

He’d been climbing for hours. Fortunately, he’d trained for it. Seth Minstrel was the first to get this far. He could see the tops of the jagged peaks just above him.

“I’m going to make it. I’m going to be free.”

The air was hot and humid in the valley below, the valley Seth had lived in all his life. It was the valley where generations of his people had toiled as slaves to the ruling MacGregor clan. The people grew the food, and the MacGregor’s and their thugs took half. But without the MacGregors, water wouldn’t fall down the cliffs to the south, allowing their arid valley to produce and sustain life.

The MacGregors said they should be grateful.

“Yeah, right. Grateful. You MacGregor’s have freedom and steal our food, barely allowing my people enough to eat.”

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The Impossible Direction

woman

From p90music.com

A Martin Fields Time Travel Story

“That was exhausting,” he said in English. “I can’t believe I let you convince me to come here. It’s worse than Disneyland.”

Martin Fields sat heavily on his chair at their table. It was June in Paris and the weather was very pleasant as the sun receded into the west.

“It’s not all that bad, Martin.” NaCumbea sat lightly in her seat as if totally unaffected by the past nine hours they’d spent touring the vast number of stunning exhibits at the 1925 International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts.

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The Woman is Africa

black woman art

From: Clipart Kid

It’s been over forty years and I can still remember her. She’s probably forgotten about me completely, and I don’t blame her. I didn’t make much of an impression.

“What do you think of it, Jeff?” Diane showed me her completed art project. “Think she’ll get first prize in the Senior Art Fair?”

It was our Senior Year in High School. I’d been taking art classes there since I was a Freshman, and she’d transferred from Tucson at the beginning of the year.

“I think it’s great. Is it a self-portrait?”

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Even Coffee Doesn’t Help

Sean Becker was working on his third cup of coffee sitting at the counter in the town’s only all-night diner. He thought it would help kill the taste, but so far nothing really helped.

“Want a refill?” The waitress looked tired and bored. The only other patrons in this dump were a couple of truckers pulling an all-nighter.

“Yes. Thanks.” He was careful not to smile too widely at her. She poured more of the bitter brown liquid into his cup.

“Sure you don’t want something to eat? It’ll be morning soon. We serve a good breakfast.” He could tell she really didn’t care. She was flying on auto-pilot.

“Actually I just ate not long ago. I came in here for something to wash it down with.” He started smiling again and then remembered what would happen if she saw too much.

“Suit yourself.” She walked away without another word.

He took another sip. He used to love coffee, even the poor quality java served in greasy spoons like this one. It was finally starting to kill the taste of his meal, but only by a little.

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Rescuing a Dragon

crystal trees

Uwe Zucchi / AFP – Getty Images

The Second Story in the Adventures of the Ambrosial Dragon: A Children’s Fantasy Series

If you haven’t done so yet, read the first story The Day a Dragon Came to Live with Us.

Grandpa sat in a chair on his back patio pretending to manipulate a drone’s controls while Buddy the Dragon flew high above.

“You see, Landon…” Grandpa addressed his seven-year-old grandson sitting to his right, “…if anyone sees Buddy way up there, I can just say I’m flying a drone over the field. The trick is taking off and landing.”

“I’m glad he can fly. He likes to be high up.” Landon didn’t take his eyes off of the golden figure in the distance, imagining what it would be like to be up there with his best friend.

Grandpa spoke into the microphone he’d wired into the drone control box. “Okay Buddy, that’s a wrap. C’mon down now.” The dragon could hear Grandpa through a headset he’s managed to get to fit on Buddy’s head. The dragon could talk back through a small microphone.

“Flying, flying. Buddy likes flying.”

“It’s getting late and Dani will be waking up from her nap soon.” Dani was Landon’s 15-month-old sister. Landon’s and Dani’s Dad was still at work but would be home in time for dinner.

“Oh, okie-dokey, Gramps.”

Buddy went into a nosedive right toward the back of Grandpa’s house, but at the last second he fully extended his wings and breaking hard, landed softly on the back lawn not five feet from the startled pair.

Grandpa recovered his composure. “Have a nice flight?”

The dragon walked up to Grandpa and nuzzled his head on the older man’s leg. “Yup, yup, yup. Good fly. Good fly.”

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First Encounter

liquor

Image: theguardian.pe.ca

Ed left church just as the service ended and headed to the nearest liquor store. He didn’t wait until the ushers came along to release people row by row. He didn’t wait until the Pastor was ready at the door to shake hands with each parishioner as they left. He just left. He needed a drink.

Ed Tillman, 44 years old, divorced, behind in his child support, absentee Daddy to 16-year-old Tiffany and 12-year-old Johnny. Yeah, his life was messy, really messy. One of the other Postal Carriers he worked with said he needed to find God. His friend Mark told him God could be found in church.

Ed was desperate enough and dumb enough to believe him.

As Ed pulled into the parking lot of the strip mall off of Meridian Road, he was still trying to figure out if God ever went to that church.

Oh, the people were polite, they were descent, they all got along. They went to the same picnics, attended the same Wednesday night Bible studies, and some even went on vacations together.

They were all so nice and squeaky clean. Ed wasn’t anything close to that. If God requires that you put on a suit, shake hands and introduce yourself to the people around you in your pew, and sing a bunch of really boring songs, then maybe God didn’t want Ed to find Him.

Standing in front of the display of the different brands of Vodka, Ed opened his wallet and checked how much cash he had left. Just barely enough. He’d memorized the price of a cheap 750 millimeter bottle including sales tax.

“How’s it going, buddy.” The guy behind the counter must have been about Ed’s age, maybe a little older. Long, dirty blond hair, ragged beard, tattoos on both forearms disappearing under his shirt sleeves, definitely not squeaky clean.

“Not bad.” Ed looked around. “Business is slow.”

“Yeah, no shit. You’re my first customer.”

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Why I Wrote My First Children’s Story for My Grandson

reading

Image: boomerhighway.org

I published The Day a Dragon Came to Live with Us yesterday but not any sort of explanation about where the story came from or why I wrote it (except on Facebook and Google+).

I consider it one of my best efforts but it doesn’t seem to be getting a lot of love so far. Probably one of the reasons is that it’s over 5700 words long, basically a short story or a book chapter. Who’s got the time, right?

This story is different. It’s personally important to me. I’ve invested a lot of emotion in it. I wrote it for my seven-year-old grandson.

He’s really imaginative and every time I see him, he wants to play our “game”. Our game is a talking game. He assigns us both roles and then we make up an adventure. In our current game, I am “Grandpa” (no surprise there) and he is my pet “Honey Dragon”.

Actually, the term “pet” is a bit of a misnomer since the dragon is supposed to be thousands of years old and know all kinds of arcane magical spells.

Our game scenarios are highly derivative. He pulls a lot of his ideas from “Harry Potter” and I pull mine from all kinds of comic books, science fiction stories, TV shows, and films.

I’ve tried to write a story for him before, but I couldn’t get the hang of it. However, our current series of adventures spawned an idea, a story about a boy and his dragon.

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I’m Going To Be Published on “Theme of Absence”

infinity

Image: numbersleuth.org/

Have a look at the site Theme of Absence. As it says on the main page, it’s an “Online Magazine of Fantasy, Horror and Science Fiction (the lack of an Oxford comma just kills me).

Anyway, the site administrator is Jason Bougger, and along with Betty Rocksteady, and Tim Bougger, they accept previously unpublished submissions of flash fiction and short stories. Here’s a link to their Submission Guidelines.

The reason I bring all this up is that one of my submissions has been accepted and will be published on Friday, September 23rd.

I’ve been published quite a few times before, but those were all technical books, self-study guides, and textbooks.

On September 23rd, one of my fiction pieces will be published online for the very first time (apart from my own blog, of course).

I’m pretty excited.

Jason also offered to do an author interview with me and I said “yes,” so that’ll appear on Theme of Absence the same day as my flash fiction (just a hair under 1,000 words) story.

It’s nothing that I’ve published on my site, so you don’t get a preview.

You don’t have to wait a whole month. Visit Theme of Absence right now and read some of the other stories they’ve published. Maybe you’ll find a new favorite author.

The Perfect Woman

the perfect woman

Image: shutterstock.com

Max Schmidt felt a little uncomfortable holding Aika’s hand in public, but as they were strolling past the Botanical Garden in the park she leaned into him and he felt it was the right thing to do.

“Tell me you love me again.” He felt her body heat as she nuzzled against him and he had to stop walking momentarily to regain his balance.

“I love you,” he whispered in her ear, too shy to say it louder for fear people nearby might hear him. She turned to Max and hugged him. “I love you, too,” she murmured into his chest.

Her Japanese accent was only mildly noticeable and he felt it was one of her more charming attributes. English was the only language they had in common though, and he felt a bit embarrassed that his own German accent was so thick. But then, the 34-year-old software engineer often felt embarrassed about himself.

Aika took Max’s hand again and they resumed their walk. He hadn’t meant to go this far from his flat. When Aika suggested they go out together for a while, he was thinking maybe a walk around the block. But it was a beautiful summer evening in the city, and Max enjoyed the delight he could see in Aika’s face. Everything in the world was new to her. It was like watching a small child discover the universe in a field of flowers or by the seashore.

“I’m so glad we met, Max.” She leaned her head against his shoulder.

“Me, too.” His reply was a bit stiff but she didn’t seem to notice. As much as Max enjoyed Aika’s company, he couldn’t help but be bothered by all of the barriers between them, not the least of which was the legality of her being here with him, or for that matter, the legality of her existence.

“We’d better head back.” He looked down at her. Her hair was a beautiful jet black, soft, silky to the touch, and smelled just slightly of strawberries.

She looked up with those big, gorgeous brown eyes. He watched her blink, noticed her eyelashes, her small, pert nose, her large, luscious lips. “Whatever you say, Max,” she cooed.

He was already getting aroused.

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