Category Archives: Heroine

Gentle Into Night: #AtoZ Blog Challenge

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A Car In The Woods: Chapter Five

2019 AtoZ Blog Challenge

 

AtoZ2019GGENTLE INTO NIGHT

1963

There was a car in the woods.

Schatzi was standing at the edge of the grove. She was barking continuously, growling in turns, but she would not advance any further. Timmy finally caught up to her, got down on his knees, and threw his arms around her. Deb was not far behind.

“Schatzi, stop barking. Schatzi!” Deb yelled out as she approached. Their dog went belly down, whimpering cries replacing the barks. It wasn’t until she came up behind Timmy that she saw.

“Oh shit,” she said, covering her mouth with her right hand. “Oh, shit. Don’t. Don’t start with me, Timmy. We have to get out of here.”

Timmy, focused entirely on Schatzi, was stroking her head. “Shh. There, girl. Relax. I’m here.” Deb put her left hand on his shoulder. “We’re here. Shh. Shh.”

“Timmy, we really really really need to get out of here.”

Her hand squeezed, Timmy yelped, and then he looked up.

“Oh. Wow.”

The cherry red Thunderbird was facing them. Timmy stood, and Schatzi followed suit. Tail tucked, she growled, staring down the car.

“Is it?”

“I think so,” she answered. “It’s the TBird. Timmy, c’mon. We’ve got to…”

The engine came to life, revving in place. The sound increased, tires spinning out on the patch of ground it was on. The smell of burning rubber and oil filled the area, choking the three of them.

“Deb,” he choked out, “there’s no one there.”

The convertible roof rose from the half closed position and smoothly dropped open. The revving continued, building in stationary speed. Clouds of dust started to rise around the car.

The driver’s door opened.

Schatzi hurtled towards the car. Deb and Timmy yelled out at the same time, but Schatzi didn’t alter her attack. Teeth bared, she dove through the open door. As her teeth sunk into the seating, she ripped away at the leather red and white. She tore out a chunk of the backrest. With the speed of the revving the roof closed, the door slammed shut, and the howl that came from the interior of the Ford pierced Timmy’s heart. Deb was streaming tears.

It had happened so fast that neither had time to react. Timmy tried to rush forward, but Deb held onto him tight.

“Let go of me. Let go!”

She was stronger, but Timmy was working on pure adrenaline. Just as he came free, a shooting wind sent the dust into a frenzy, kicking it up and, covering the entire area. When she wasn’t coughing her lungs out, Deb had the image of the last snow story, coming down so heavy it was nothing but a wall of white. She wrapped her arms around her brother, pulling him close, and turned their backs to the car so the flying debris was not in their faces.

“Deb, let go. Deb. Let. Go!”

Her arms opened, slowly. The wind was dying down, allowing the dirt and grit that had been airborne to fall back to earth. They turned to look at the car.

Trees, torn up grass, glinting ice on the outskirts. This they saw.

But no car.

But no Schatzi.

~~~~~    ~~~~~    ~~~~~    ~~~~~

Patricia left the hospital against the doctor’s wishes. Sheriff Will’s wishes as well. He had deputized a whole mess of townspeople to search for her kids. He knew Pat; there was no way she was going to stay in the ward as long as she could walk. She just got in the front seat of his Fairlane, and that was that.

As they were hitting the roads to add to the search, the radio squawked every other minute or so. Every report came back with a disheartening “No.” Pat didn’t say much as she devoted her energy to looking where they dovetailed off the road. It hadn’t helped that the wind drifts covered any broken snow.

The tree that had waylaid them was gone now, cut up and making its way to the lumber yard. Pat knew they were there by the number of cars parked along the sides. Getting out, she took brief notice of the variety: Will’s deputies; townspeople’s private vehicles; and a brief shock of State Troopers in the mix.

The Sheriff got an update from one of the Troopers, and Patricia got an earful from those taking a break. She asked where they looked, how far out they went, did they see any tracks, any signs. The same bleak responses fell on her heart.

A final question made most folks uneasy, some sad, but all gave Patricia a side look when she left them to talk to another grouping.

“Did you notice, or see, anything out of the ordinary?”

Patricia and the Sheriff joined a group just heading out again. They were all carrying things the kids might need, if. Patricia steeled herself, didn’t cry out, didn’t make a scene, but that needless “If” was a sore that ate away at her as they walked and called out.

The sun was bending to the west when the walkies-talkies sang out. The kids had been found and were alive. This was repeated along the searchers. A huge mixed yell of happy acknowledgment rang through the trees. Pat and the Sheriff started to run once they got the whereabouts of the rescue. The others raced alongside.

The kids were bundled up in blankets upon blankets, drinking hot tea from thermoses brought just for them. A small bonfire was roaring, giving off just enough heat. Behind them was the ravine with their dead Chevy.

The three of them met in a flying bear hug. Timmy “ouched” but he didn’t break free.

“Mom,” he said. “Mom. We didn’t know what happened. We…”

“We went looking for you. You’d been gone way too long. I was…we were afraid something might have happened to you.” Deb looked and saw the bandage that peeked out from the wool cap her mother was wearing. “Oh, something did happen.”

Patricia didn’t answer. She kept hugging, kissing them on their foreheads, rubbing their backs, and the moisture in her eyes did not quit for a second.

“Let’s not talk about what happened to me until later. Some things happened that I have to think about; try to make sense out of.” She paused, realizing someone was missing.

“Schatzi. Where’s our girl?”

Deb started to tell her what had occurred. Timmy was reluctant to say anything, his head hanging low. He got elbowed and interspersed the details as best as he could.

“We searched. Couldn’t find anything besides the stirred up dirt. Deb and I backtracked, got lost once or twice, but we found the car.”

Deb continued. “It was cold in the car. We scrounged up two of Schatzi’s blankets, one hidden under the front seat, the other squished in the back. Our best find: a box of long matches from one of our cookouts during the summer. Timmy and I searched for dry wood. It wasn’t easy, but there was a grouping that worked just fine. Cleared the snow with our feet built the wood up, and started the fire.”

“Deputy Doug said he saw the smoke. That’s how we got found.”

“Sweeties, we need to get moving out of here before it gets dark.” Patricia’s face darkened. “Let’s put out the fire, grab your school books, and let’s get home. The Sheriff said he would drive us there.”

They did as she asked, no questions, no fighting, no stubbornness. Her heart felt shattered that they would be returning without Schatzi. “That’s two I’ve lost to this place,” she said to herself. “No more.”

Moving quickly, they reached the Sheriff’s car in no time. Almost all the cars had already left, getting the passed around good news. The remaining few gave Patricia and the kids long hugs; cheek kisses went around, hands were shaken. Timmy hated the kissing part, except when he got one from a classmate, Becki. He blushed and tried to hide. Becki just smiled.

Last to leave, the Sheriff turned the engine over and made sure all three were secure. The sun had been going down by this point. It was near dark. Putting the car into drive, he crept onto the road and headed to their home.

Everyone was quiet. Deb had nodded off. Timmy had his head leaning on the window, a sorrowful sight when the Sheriff looked in his rearview. Pat had scrunched down, head back on the car seat, staring at the interior ceiling.

“Rage, rage against the dying of the light,” she softly recited.

Sheriff Will gave her a side glance. He knew that poem. He and Pat had been in the same classes ever since first grade. High School they wandered off in different directions, but English class was one they shared in Senior Year.

Looking briefly, he noticed that Patricia’s head lolled to the side. “Good, she was asleep,” he thought. It’s been a rough day for her, if not a rough four years. He focused on the road as they made their way back.

“Rage, rage against the dying of the light,” Will repeated. He was glad to be leaving the woods.

Behind them, a chorus of clicking sounds blended with the settling winds.

 

Present Day

 What are those clicking sounds?

Where was the deadly red car?

And Schatzi.

Where was Schatzi? Was she?

There was a car in the woods.

 

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The poem Patricia and Will  were referring to:

Do not go gentle into that good night

Dylan Thomas, 19141953

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

 

From The Poems of Dylan Thomas, published by New Directions. Copyright © 1952, 1953 Dylan Thomas. Copyright © 1937, 1945, 1955, 1962, 1966, 1967 the Trustees for the Copyrights of Dylan Thomas. Copyright © 1938, 1939, 1943, 1946, 1971 New Directions Publishing Corp.

 

TOMORROW, #AtoZ…A Car In The Woods

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A CAR IN THE WOODS

Imagine this…

A writer of blogs, caught in the web of his own making. Unaware of the passing of time.

April 1st didn’t loom.

It pounced, claws sharpened and out, eviscerating the calm he thought he had.

This was a writer with ideas, semi-plans, an insidious inner laugh that sometimes made its way to the surface.

What happens when said writer, so caught up in the travails of his daily life, his existence teetering on the edge of the basest of sanity and the fathomless abyss of madness and despair, is faced with producing 26 tales designed to strike deep in the souls of his readers?

Tune in April 1st, for he is about to enter…

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do do do do, do do do

 

Soul On Fire: #FridayFictioneers

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PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Soul On Fire

Karen knelt over the cooling body of her abuser. Last of the nine. She and Val had dug through the earthen floor together. Dug deep through the adobe layer until exhausted; dug until they found the gravel and rock base. Until they found stones large enough to be a weapon. If they had the strength.

Val didn’t.

When he finally opened the door he was startled by Val’s body at the entrance, where Karen had laid her out. The heavy rocks she wielded did their job.

Taking his cell, she stepped outside, smiled, breathed deeply, and cried.

She called 911.

****************************************************************

Author’s Note: The title comes from a quote that I like:

The most powerful weapon on Earth is the human soul on fire~~~ Ferdinand Foch

It’s #Friday Fictioneers prompt time, as always created and hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields on her blog, Addicted To Purple.

The rules are simple if you’d like to do this:

    1. Use the photo on Addicted to Purple as your prompt (goes up on Wednesday).
    2. Write a 100 word story, complete with beginning, middle, and end.
    3. Make every word count.
    4. It is proper etiquette to give the contributor of the photo credit.
  1. Add the InLinkz button (below) so your readers can find the dozens of other bloggers who have taken up this challenge.

The Tod Chronicles: Book 4

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@Richard_Kadrey Prompt

The Tod Chronicles Book 4

I. The Dangling Participle

It was the best of Tods, it was the worst of Tods, it was the Tod of wisdom, it was the Tod of foolishness, it was the Tod of belief, it was the Tod of incredulity, it was the season of Tod Light, it was the season of Tod Dark, it was the Tod of hope and despair, Tod had everything before us, and Tod blew it all to hell.

“Thanks, Tod. And your stupid monkey thing too.”

That became the call of the people. The saying could be found on a huge, I mean huge, number of things. Cups, mugs, t-shirts, bumper stickers for your Space Vehicle, pencils, coasters (for drinks, not going up and downsy things), and it could even be found tatooed on certain parts of the body by those who were most miffed. Coke had to recall a wee bit over twenty billion bulbs of their product that had ‘Tod’ on the label.

Noone in the Acronym Research and Study Services knew who came up with the saying. TTAYSMTT was not the most graceful combo. It sent Ms. Belfar, acting head of ARSS, into a convulsive state upon its first appearance on a sign being dragged behind an FL 42U FE sky drone (otherwise known as a Fluffy).  TTAYSMTT, spoken, was a mouthful. Some headway was made when it morphed into TattysMit. The cool kids gave it the tweak it needed,  and “Ta-Tay!” became the flavor of the month and a half.

Ms. Belfar recovered soon after. She went into the Medial Circumference a wreck and came out engaged to Mr. Frank Bloom, the Circumference Custodian, and all around Dandelion Master. They will be hyphenated and brought to union by Commodore 71 on 210988 at 1500 hour of the clock, EST. The BB’s are registered only at acronym friendly stores.

“Ta-Tay!”, I mean Tod, was not happy about any of this. He wasn’t happy about what led to all of this: he was badly injured by the Man-Eating Space Ducks but, surprisingly, he survived; was eaten by a planet (whose name can’t be named due to legal issues) and summarily spit out by the (un)said planet; and finally escaping the clutches of a Galactic Orb Buster (Mrs. Belfar-Bloom was quite pleased with GOB) after infiltrating the GOB in three different disguises, and eventually vanquishing the intergalactic foe with the help of his quasi-simulated girlfriend Anouk and Darth, the stupid incontinent monkey thing.

Even with all this surviving stuff going on, Tod wasn’t happy at all at this point in his life. He definitely didn’t think he would survive this latest muck up. Just about everyone left alive hated him. Anouk and Darth weren’t quite sure at this point.

He had one job, and he incontinated all over it.  Push a lever here, press the three strobing globes in the correct sequence, and put Metal to the Peddle©™®. One job: the safety of the known universe.

If only he had a Spork ®.

How he messed up, partially atoned for the cataclysm that followed, lost his love then got her back again, and why that stupid Darth hid an ulterior motive in his bowls, are all part of this Narrative In Space (the NIS series, ARSS approved). It’s become my job to lead you on as the Narrator of the narrative.

Who am I?

I’m Jim. Welcome to my world.

Stupid Tod.

**Jim Notes: In case you missed that last three of The Tod Chronicles NIS series, the following blue letters below with jaunt you to their destination:

No Tod, You Just Lie There While I Fight The Man-Eating Space Ducks With A Spork

Mars Blows

Tinker Tailor Soldier Tod (Yanked off the shelves due to secretive thingies being worked out) 

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Author’s Note:

The above pulp cover prompt was “altered” by Author Richard Kadrey. He has been posting, on Twitter, reworked/photoshopped covers of old pulp(ish) novels, changing them to show off his brand of humor. I just thought it’d be fun to write a few story posts from Mr. Kadrey’s. So, yes, this is my writing, not Mr. Kadrey’s.

Richard Kadrey is a writer, photographer, comic book writer, and an all-around interesting guy. His fiction straddles the Urban Fantasy, Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Cyberpunk worlds, and he’s pretty darn good with it all. I fell in love with his writing starting with his first Sandman Slim novels. Gritty, sometimes violent, often full of whimsey, and really worth reading. He’s not just another pretty face.

You can check out more fun covers by following him on Twitter @Richard_Kadrey.

To get into his body of work, visit his website: Richard Kadrey

Hippie Snowflake Revolution: by Blast Thunderpunch ( Stuart Nager)

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@Richard_Kadrey Prompt

Hippie Snowflake Revolution

by Blast Thunderpunch (aka Stuart Nager)

Prologue

~~~

Comrade Aleksandr “Moskali” Joneski broke the news just days before the revolution went live. It was first hand, no sources. He ran with what he knew, and it was a doozy.

He had infiltrated a Starbucks, ordering a Double Mocha Lite Latte with extra foam. His face contorted, teeth grinding away, he fixed his fake Millenial beard. It had been slipping off. The heat from the day was making him sweat balls, and it didn’t help that  the waiting line reached outside the hated cofevee place. He had already discarded the Man Bun part of his disguise; with nothing on top to hold it in place, he gave up after 22 tries.

Finally, his drink was ready. They got the fake name wrong, noticing this as he walked away to put ten packets of sugar in it.  He told the wench up front his name was Gerard. She wrote “Jerk.”

He slipped into the tail end seat of the communal table (“Ha!”, he thought) and sat. And sat, and drank. Sat and drank…and listened. Eventually, he had to use the restroom. When he came back his seat was gone. So he wandered, jockeying around for another spot. Towards the front of the store,  he heard the inflammatory words:

“So, what are you doing on July 4th?”

Pushing his way onto a stool, facing to the window, Aleks tuned into the discussion that was going on behind him.

“Oh, you know,” the pregnant tramp with the “Baby Bump: Drive Slowly” tee shirt said. “Food, drinks…fireworks!”

Aleks almost fell off the stool. This was it! Confirmation. He almost jumped up and yelled “J’Accuse!”, but he wouldn’t give the gay frogs the satisfaction. Instead, he hunkered down, taking a notepad and pen out of his shoulder slung Man Bag.

The bearded pot smoking revolutionary, who sat opposite the slut, leaned forward. Aleks saw this in the reflection from the windows. “Yeah, yeah. Fireworks, naturally. There’s gonna be a huge crowd. Best to get there early.” He paused.  “Is Alexandria going to be there?”

“Mayyybeee,” she said. Aleks saw a huge grin on her hateful face. “I know you have a thing. Does she know you have a thing?”

The libtard only shook his head back and forth, looking down into his large (not Trente! Large!) cup of iced treason. “Well, um, I don’t know. It might do more harm than good.”

Aleks was lapping it all up. Taking a sip of what remained of his drink, he spit it out. It was cold. As cold as their hearts, their allegiance to this great country. He was furiously writing everything down.

The trollop let out a piercing bark of a laugh. “Well, if you know what’s good for you, you’ll come along with us. Be loaded for bear: you’re not the only one with sights on her.”

He had to stifle the giggles that wanted to break free. “I knew it! I knew it!” he thought. “I would have pegged him for a godless gay; maybe this hippie chick isn’t a chick at all. Maybe she’s a…a he! An affront to my God. My god!”

She levered herself up; her coconspirator stood up with her. Aleks noticed they gave each other what he could only assume was a coded body message: they hugged, and then she patted him on the arm three times. Pat. Pat. Pat.

“You better be there,” she said to him, pointing her finger. “Time to man up and fight for what you want.”

“Fireworks. Food. Alexandria. Fight for it. Got it.”

Aleks put his pad and pen back into the Man Bag and started to follow them out of the store. He noticed they went left onto Lexington, and then were turning left onto Concord.

“Hey, man, it’d help if you cleaned up after yourself. People here aren’t your slaves, you know.” The so-called man he had sat next to during all this piped up as he was trying to leave. Probably a Jew.

“Not yet they aren’t. Not yet.”

BREAKING: Democrats Plan To Launch Civil War On July 4th

 

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Author’s Note:

Fairly recently, author Richard Kadrey has been posting, on Twitter, reworked/photoshopped covers of old pulp(ish) novels, changing them to show off his  brand of humor. The above pic is one of them. I just thought it’d be fun to write the above from Mr. Kadrey’s posting: so, yes, this is my writing, not Mr. Kadrey’s.

Richard Kadrey is a writer, photographer, comic book writer, and an all-around interesting guy. His fiction straddles the Urban Fantasy, Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Cyberpunk worlds, and he’s pretty darn good with it all. I fell in love with his writing starting with his first Sandman Slim novels. Gritty, sometimes violent, often full of whimsey, worth reading. He’s not just another pretty face.

You can check out more fun covers by following him on Twitter @Richard_Kadrey.

To get into his body of work, visit him at his website: Richard Kadrey

Somewhere That’s Green: #FridayFictioneers

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PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Somewhere That’s Green

…when suddenly and without warning, there was this……total eclipse of the sun.

Audrey’s life had been reborn: Seymour was suddenly everything to her. They married, left the city, and never looked back.

Until Seymour died in a horrible event.

Opening the Mushnik Garden Center, Seymour sold exotics only, cultivating them with love. Until the sinkhole swallowed everything, including him. They found him in a crush of exotic plants.

She took a clipping, set it in a cut glass bowl, and buried Seymour.

Returning from the funeral, sitting at the table, starting to doze, something startled her.

“Feed Me,” it said.

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The opening line, and title of this piece, is credited to composer Alan Menken and writer Howard Ashman. 

The above is a prompt challange from Addicted to Purple by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields that she calls Friday Fictioneers . The rules for this prompt are simple:

    1. Use the photo on Addicted to Purple as your prompt.
    2. Write a 100 word story, complete with beginning, middle, and end.
    3. Make every word count.
    4. It is proper etiquette to give the contributor of the photo credit.

Unfettered Essence: The Abysmal Dollhouse (#AtoZ Blog Challenge)

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** New Readers to this challenge: This is a serialized, continuous work. Please start with the first piece, Abysmally Yours. The AtoZ Blog Challenge began April 1st; ends April 30th. Thank you.

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Unfettered Essence

The Abysmal Dollhouse

The Shopkeeper withdrew to her back room, sans light, sat in her padded chair, and stared into the darkness. What she had done should not have been realized. She had inserted herself into an action that was not her function, her purpose. She was Guardian, Guide, Teacher, Rescuer…Mother. The balance of chaos and order that she maintained, the weighing of those who were drawn to the shoppe, to them she was Judge. But, Executioner? That was not her role to take on.

Until just now, when she lost herself.

With an abyss dwelling sigh, she levered herself out of her chair. Lightly stepping, she stopped at the threshold to the shoppe. Her eyes went to where the Muirhouse and its new companion were displayed; they were there, a low placed mournful weeping coming from the house. The shack, to its side, vibrated in sudden violent bursts, subsided, and then start again.

She thought the Unfolding Doll would still be fixed in place by the dollhouse. It was not there. Instead, moving just her eyes, she espied the doll in its shadowed corner, more an outline than a full figure. The Shopkeeper knew without actually seeing the Unfolding Doll that its black button eyes were on her. Her composure had reset before she left the back room. She swore to herself that she would not let that happen again.

She tidied up her dress and apron and walked into the shoppe proper. Choosing a direction, she went from dollhouse to dollhouse, stopping to inspect them, to feel its wants, needs, pleasures, pains, and in some cases, its madness. She walked around without her tools: both the duster and the broom left in their places by the front counter. If the Shopkeeper had not been so distracted. If.

Each dollhouse she touched. Each one grabbed a tiny bit of her emotional essence, sated and satisfied with the tidbit. The Shopkeeper gave it freely, not drained or diminished, but removed. She gave, they took, they remained silent.

Stopping near her counter, she went to her knees, touching Mike’s house, the Singleton household, and the Derasar. The pleasure of these was returned to her with her giving. Opening a sliding panel at the bottom of this display case, she brought out a replica she had vowed never to display again. She set it down on her front counter.

The Shaded Radiance Emporium, gaudy in decor, twinkled its fairy lights from the fading sunlight that hit it just so. The fake Persian rug was accented by the fake Chintz draperies. The chairs and tables were spool-turned furnitures, meant to give a Victoriana elegance, but falling far short. The roundtable in the center of the room was covered in brushed purple velvet that hung 2/3 of the way down, covering the middle pedestal.  Long strands of colored beads blanketed the two doorways on either end, and the two windows were overtaken with blackout curtains.

A bemused chuckle left the Shopkeeper as she sat down in one of the chairs. She looked at the beaded doorway facing her and waited. Soon enough, the clattering of the beads announced an entrance, much like the door chimes that tinkled in the shoppe. A crystal ball was carried in, but not placed on the table, but off to the side.

“That’s not for you. That’s to come. You, for you, cards.” The older woman, covered in unmatched layers of different colors and patterns, settled her many skirted self into the chair opposite the Shopkeeper.

A croup-like cough came from the older woman, drawing out a large deck of cards from a hidden pocket. “You swore you would never return here. You swore, but I knew. I knew you would have to come to see me. You will still have to see me again, one more time.”

The Shopkeeper sat silent, staring at the woman, then looking at the cards. She did not wish to show that that last statement bothered her more than her being in the Emporium at present.

“You still won’t talk to me. That is fine. The cards will tell us what we need to know. What you need to know.”

She shuffled the cards, placed them face down, and the Shopkeeper cut the deck. The older woman repeated this two more times. On the Shopkeeper’s third cut, the Mystic took the cards and began to lay out a pattern.

Without turning her head, the Shopkeeper knew that the Unfolding Doll was still watching her from across the shoppe.

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The AtoZ Blog Challenge

During the month of April 2018, the challenge requires that we write 26 posts, starting with the letter A on April 1st (yes, it’s not an April Fool’s Day joke) and ending with Z on Monday, April 30th. A week or so later, there will be a reflection post that will wrap up this experience, for me as well as my readers.

*I’ve decided to reblog past Abysmal Dollhouse stories on Sundays since we’re not required to write those days. The reblog will not correspond to any specific letter. Just thought you might enjoy some of the previous entries that I’m fond of.

Forever F(r)iend: The Abysmal Dollhouse (AtoZ Blog Challenge)

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** New Readers to this challenge: This is a serialized, continuous work. Please start with the first piece, Abysmally Yours. The AtoZ Blog Challenge began April 1st; ends April 30th. Thank you.

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Forever F(r)iend

The Abysmal Dollhouse

The echoing bleating of “mine, mine, mine” continued long enough to draw the Shopkeeper’s attention. The dollhouses clammored until she shushed them, stern look to one and all. As usual, she had been making her rounds, dusting in a grid pattern, excavating the settled floating particles from her charges. She stood and faced the door, knowing.

The chime above the door tinkled as the door opened. Standing in the doorway, looking left to right, the man in the green cardigan sweater adjusted his sleeves, pushed the middle of his black framed glasses up his nose, and finally completed his entrence. The Shopkeeper had noticed him pass by a number of times, occasionally stopping and squinting at the display window.

He waited.

“If you need any assistance, please don’t hesitate to ask,” she said, taking her place by the counter, hanging up her duster, and placing herself so that her broom was at her back. She had felt him staring at her as he stood there, and knew he had been squinting at her the few times he had peered in. Her feelings were correct, as always. So many of the dollhouses felt it too, long before he touched the doorknob. She glanced at the shadowed corner, but it remained still, vanquishing the sparse streaks of light that came its way.

There were aisles of dollhouses between them, various archetectural styles; some so very plain, while others reeked of the overdone. The man looked around, walked over to a few, bent over, inspected, stood and moved, ever closer to where she stood. He had not said a word. She noticed that even as he looked at a replica of Hill House, then The Emperor’s Pagoda,  moving onto the Waverly Hill Sanitarium,  no discernable hint of interest crossed his mein. His gaze might have been on the shoppes’ ware, but his attention appeared to be solely on her.

She broke the silence. “I think I have something that might be of interest to you. It has received avid interest, from time to time. The description on the display card is as fascinating as the dollhouse itself.”

For the first time, his face changed: a small curve of the lips, a mini smirk that froze in place. He bent over and read out loud “Akershus Festing: The Fortified House of Aker.” Straightening up, the smirk was gone. “So? What of it? It looks it’s made of stone, with arrow-slits in place of windows.”

“Notice anything else?” she asked.

His eyes narrowed and creases formed on his brow above his nose. “It has a fence, som..”

“A battlement,” she interrupted. “It is called a battlement.”

Glaring at her, he noticed the stone…battlement created a wall around the house. There was something else written, on a smaller card that was just beyond the wall.

“Read the card.”

“Look, enough of this playing around.” He backed up a step from the house, beginning to turn towards where she stood.

“Read the card!” It was not a request.

It went beyond him that he did so. “Beware of Malcanisen? What…”

The front gates of the battlement groaned open at the same time as the door to the house did, equally grating. Finding himself in front of the door, he heard the gate forcibly shut behind him. He turned to look; as he did so, a deeply aggressive sounding growling came from inside the house.

“Hey,” he shouted, “what the hell is…oh my god.”

In the doorway was Malcanisen. Dark gray matted hair covered the huge dog’s body. Its lips were pulled back, displaying the sharp pointed teeth. Saliva drooled down, its eyes were blazing, and Malcanisen advanced.

The man tried to run, but Malcanisen lept and brought him down. With fangs deeply embedded in his prey’s upper left thigh and groin. Dragging the man through the door of the house, the screams and rending sound diminished and went silent as the door closed tightly shut.

During the process, the Shopkeeper had moved to her back room. Her timing was perfect, the sound of the door sealing shut just as she returned to the floor. In her hand were two miniature bowls: one filled with dark ale, the other with special biscuit treats. She placed both by the front of Aker’s Fortified House and gently tapped on the door.

“Thank you, Mal. I left something for you.”

Returning to her counter, she picked up her duster and waited. The Shopkeeper heard the lapping of the ale and the crunching of the treats. She smiled.

“Who’s a good vicious dog, hmm? Who’s a good evil dog? You are. Yes, you are!”

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The AtoZ Blog Challenge

During the month of April, 2018, the challenge requires that we write 26 posts, starting with the letter A on April 1st (yes, it’s not an April Fool’s Day joke) and ending with Z on Monday, April 30th. A week or so later, there will be a reflection post that will wrap up this experience, for me as well as my readers.

The Akershus Festing (Castle) resides in Oslo, Norway. It has been around since the 13th century and, as you could imagine, has a rich and varied history. It also has tales of hauntings and other assorted bumps in the night. Malcanisen is one of them: the name translates to either “The Vicious Dog” or “Evil Dog”, and if he was to advance upon you while you were traipsing around the castle, you would face a horrible death within three months of the encounter. Basically, Mal was supposed to be guarding the premises.

Who’s a good doggy?

Either Or: The Abysmal Dollhouse (AtoZ Blog Challenge)

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** New Readers to this challenge: This is a serialized, continuous work. Please start with the first piece, Abysmally Yours. The AtoZ Blog Challenge began April 1st; ends April 30th. Thank you.

3

Either Or

The Abysmal Dollhouse

The Shopkeeper and the Unfolding Doll neither moved towards or away from the other. Brandishing her broom, the Shopkeeper turned it vertically and lowered the straw bristles, close but barely kiss the floor. She held it at arms length. The Doll, matching her in height and volume, continued to just stand and aim her button eyes at the Shopkeeper.

Her shoulders and the back of her neck were tightly taut. The cathexis on the Unfolding Doll’s confrontational stance, unusual for it to be so blatant, had her mind racing through Protectives that, she hoped, would diffuse what was occurring. The thought of it escalating to the Breakage of so many years…no. She could not let it get to that point.

A slight movement of the Doll’s feet, a fraction of an inch closer. The Shopkeeper poured her concentration onto the broom and shoved down. The hand-bound rugged head bit into the floor between the two of them, vibrating with the Shopkeeper’s force. Placing three fingers of each hand around the handle top and middle, the Shopkeeper envisioned the pattern that would ensorcell the Doll.

Will alone, they fought against the other. Eyes and buttons locked on each other, neither giving an iota. Noises began to seep in from the shoppe around them. The dollhouses, the replicas, the shadow boxes, the cabinets of curiosities…things were moving, rearranging themselves. Plaintive sounds began, first almost a call and response, then merging into an infinite cannon of feelings. There were no words, but the meanings were clear: it was fear, despair, anticipation, hunger, longing, madness. It fed the Doll. It bolstered the totem that was the broom.

The shadowed corner where the Unfolding Doll emerged had been lengthening, tendrils of dark unshapes moving towards the Doll. The Shopkeeper had noticed it when it began to advance, then lost sight of it as she focussed on what was before her. As the cacophony emitting from the houses grew, the Shopkeeper felt a lessening. Stealing a glance, she saw the shadows spool back towards the far corner. Bringing her gaze back, she let a small smile escape.

The knife that the Unfolding Doll had held, had threatened with, was gone. The clenched fisted hands were looser, beginning to lose firmness. Pulling energy from around her and moving it into the broom, the Shopkeeper loosened the broom head from the floor and swept it towards the Doll.

It backed away, slightly at first but with each movement of the broom towards it, the Unfolding Doll. fell back. The Shopkeeper advanced, the Doll retreated. Getting to the middle of the shoppe, the broom and keeper stopped. The Unfolding Doll did not.

Shuffling backward, it reached the far corner, meeting the shadow that was reaching out. The Doll’s button eyes never left the Shopkeeper as it moved further back into shadow, piece by piece folded in until all that was left was the corner and its shadow.

And at the edge of the shadowed corner, two bodies.

The Shopkeeper was by their side in an instant. She placed her broom on the floor, creating a barrier between the three of them…really, the shoppe as well…and the shadows. As she bent down to inspect the two, she became aware that the stringent chorus had died down and the radiating emotional vibes were depleted.

Now, instead, were faint callings of “mine, mine, mine” coming from two different areas of the shoppe. It remained in the background of her awareness as she analyzed what was before her. The woman had been emitting sounds of pain as the keeper had advanced on the pair. The sound intensified when her body jerked and spasmed.

The Shopkeeper turned her eyes to the closest of her dollhouses that were of medical origin: The Waverly Hills. It would have to do if this woman was to survive. She stood, walked over to the replica, and brought it over to the woman. Setting the sanitorium beside the woman,  another spasm increased the sound of her pain. As the Shopkeeper turned her attention to the man, she heard the front wall of the dollhouse creak open.

She stared down at the man. The back of his head was caved in. Knife work decimated his torso, arms, and legs. No medical unit was of any use to him. Some things were beyond her and her miniature dwellings.

Again, she turned to the closest of items displayed. She thought for a few beats, thinking of what lies within, but in the end, she had to do what needed to be done and walked over to the next aisle. Carefully, she lifted the mausoleum setting from the Westminister Presbyterian Churchyard and just as carefully placed it down beside what was once a man.

Picking up the broom, The Shopkeeper returned it to its spot behind the counter. She picked up her apron, tied it firmly around her waist, patted down her skirt, checked to see that the top button of her blouse was secure, and stared across the shoppe at the corner of shadow, waiting for a return to order.

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The AtoZ Blog Challenge

During the month of April, 2018, the challenge requires that we write 26 posts, starting with the letter A on April 1st (yes, it’s not an April Fool’s Day joke) and ending with Z on Monday, April 30th. A week or so later, there will be a reflection post that will wrap up this experience, for me as well as my readers.

The two locations mentioned towards the end are real: The Waverly Hills Sanitarium and the Westminister Presbyterian Churchyard. At this present time, I’ll just leave it at that.

Nerves Like Daggers (A to Z Blog Challenge)

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**To read the first part of this story line: Mental Challenges
**To start from the very beginning: From the Case Files of Inspector Khazarian Rovas

Nerves

“Nerves Like Daggers”

The Case Files of Inspector Khazarian Rovas

The house had been booby trapped.

Luckily for those under his command, Sargent Detective Gil Katsaros held back his men in respect to the local police force. Rovas and Berrak were behind them when the explosion forced them all to hit the ground. Shrapnel flew by Rovas and Berrak, but wood slivers and other debris pierced some who were closer to the house. The five members of the local force were scattered around the burning mess of a vacation home.

Berrak helped tend to the wounded with some of the other officers, after making sure Rovas was OK. He, after checking she was all right, went with the Sargent Detective to examine the scene after they called the local authorities.

“EMTs and fire trucks are on their way,” Gil told Rovas as they went to check on the status of the downed police. Three of them were dead; the other two, one a female cop, were still hanging on. Both were unconscious, which Rovas thought was a blessing for them, seeing how badly they were injured. While the others did what they could until medical help could arrive, Rovas and Gil continued searching the perimeter. The house was still ablaze and too hot to get too close to.

Gil drew his gun, offering Rovas his back up piece. He shook his head and produced his own gun from under his coat. Gil’s eyebrow went up in a bit of surprise, but he let it go immediately.

“I’ll take that, Gil, if you don’t mind.” Berrak had come quietly behind them, aware of her presence when she arrived.

Gil’s face twitched, ready to say no, but Rovas turned and gave his wife his gun. He took Gil’s back up. “I feel better if Berrak has a gun that she’s practice on already. Home protection, after…” he trailed off.

“Right. There’s not much we can do here while the fire burns so hot.” Gil walked over to his second in command and spoke to him out of earshot of Rovas and Berrak. “They’ll stay her for the medical team and back up, and will call me when this area is secure. I’d like to go check out the surrounding area, but…” Gil said, kicking himself as he was saying it, “…stay close to me.”

Rovas only gave him the look. He nodded. Berrak fell to her husbands’ side as they made their way into the trees that surrounded the property. To the west was a small beach area; the east, behind the remains of the house, was forest, a small hill in the near distance led to the south. Open land and the main road were due north. If John Peters was still in the vicinity, Rovas agreed with Gil: the forest would be the first choice to hide or escape through. Everything else appeared too wide open.

They scoured through the copse of trees, searching the tops of the sturdiest trees as well as any large groupings of shrubbery. They heard the sirens in the distance. Rovas remained intent in his hunt for Peters; Gil was glad to hear the sound, knowing reinforcements would soon be freed up to join them. Berrak was unsuccessfully looking for any markings of Peters passing this way. There were none.

She turned around, looking back along the way they came. The land had risen slightly as they walked, which now gave them more of a panoramic view of the burning house and more of its surroundings. Around a bend in their search, she spotted something: a bright glint of light to their left. She prodded Rovas, who tapped Gil. They began to crouch just as they heard the sound of a rifle firing.

Gil went down in a spray of blood from his shoulder. Two more shots rang out, missing them.

“Berrak, stay with Gil. Call for help.” She began to shake her head, but Rovas was already off. As he ran, he flicked the gun safety switch. He heard Peters cutting through the brush more than saw him. There were glimpses, but not enough for a clear shot as he ran. There was more than a twenty years difference in their ages, but Rovas was spurred on by adrenaline and anger.

Rovas followed Peters as the hill rose steeply. Peters fired off another shot, turned and ran again.  He missed, but this allowed Rovas to lesson the distance between the two. The killer crested the hill and disappeared completely from sight. Wary, Rovas made his way to the top, expecting another bullet.

He crept to the top and peered over. The hill sloped down with a radical drop. He saw Peters sling his rifle over his shoulder. From the distance, Rovas saw Peters take out a piece of paper, a knife, and watched him drive it into the trunk of the tree closest to him. He climbed onto a waiting motorcycle and put a helmet on. As he revved the engine, Peters turned and looked up.

Rovas and Peters locked eyes for an instant.  Peters reached up and closed the helmets’ shield and kicked up the stand. Rovas took aim with his gun and fired off four shots. Peters drove off at high speed and was gone in a flash.

A medic was tending to Gil as Rovas came to where he left them. Berrak was by him before he could say anything. She checked him over to make sure he wasn’t shot. She found nothing more than scrapes. “I’m ok, I’m ok,” he said to her as she dabbed at the blood on his hands and then face. “It’s only a flesh wound.”

“This is not a time for joking around, Zarian.”

The half smile faded from his face. “I know. He got away, Gil. Had a blasted bike hidden away. He left us a present where he stashed his motorcycle. We’ll pick it up soon.”

“Military planning all the way around. Take the enemy out, stake out the high grou…ouch!…high ground. Plan your retreat.” Gil grumbled. “Bastard.”

“Your shoulder?”

“Through and through,” said the EMT, Jill. “We’ll take him to the hospital for a full check up. Yes, you are going to the hospital,” she said, before Gil could say anything.

“I assume you’ve already had this argument while I was gone.”

She turned to him, tight-lipped but smiling nonetheless.

“Gil, go. We’ll be right behind you.”

Rovas put his arm around Berrak’s shoulder, pulling her into a hug as the others made their way back to the house.

“I was worried,” she said.

He just nodded his head, which she felt alongside hers in the embrace. They stood like that for a little bit, then made their way to the car.

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“The Case Files of Inspector Khazarian Rovas” is my theme for this year. Cold case files for the good inspector to delve into, trying to make sense &/or solve. My plan is to use a variety of genres within this overarching theme to allow me to play and, of course, challenge myself. Some cases might bleed into another case. Most will be stand alone. We’ll see, won’t we?

As to the Blogging from A to Z challenge, I’ll let the words of Arlee Bird (founder of said challenge) tell you what this is all about:

The brainchild of Arlee Bird, at Tossing it Out, the A to Z Challenge is posting every day in April except Sundays (we get those off for good behavior.) And since there are 26 days, that matches the 26 letters of the alphabet. On April 1, blog about something that begins with the letter “A.” April 2 is “B,” April 4 is “C,” and so on. You can use a theme for the month or go random – just as long as it matches the letter of the alphabet for the day.

The A to Z Challenge is a great way to get into the blogging habit and make new friends.

So, join me (and the over 1700 other blogs involved) starting on Friday, April 1, 2016 and ending on Saturday, April 30th. Comments and such are always welcome. I hope you enjoy the stories.