Tag Archives: Mystery

Underneath It All (AtoZ Challenge)

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Welcome to the A to Z Challenge : 26 Stories during the month of April

Welcome to… The Apartment Building: Swan Rise

(For Links to the previous stories, CLICK HERE

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Head bashed in, stabbed, poisoned and suffocated: enough ways to kill many people, but someone wanted Doris Bertram really, really dead. She had lived in 5F, and it was the Elevator Incident that fired her up to run for President of the Tenants Committee against Patty. That was her first mistake; the last was that she actually won.

Doris came to live in Swan Rise during the second wave, when some of the original tenants moved out, or on. A widow at an early age, Doris never remarried, content to bring up her two brats children by herself and running her office department with a firm hand. She skirted around the Laundry Room Mafia by breaking bread and becoming friendly with Dorothy “Dotty” Bregano,  Capo de Tutti Lavanderia, the leader of the laundry room. She ingratiated herself with every super that came along by “over tipping” them for each and every job done in her apartment (and for always offering that super’s favorite beer or spirit while he “worked”).  She’d had many of the building children in her residence at one time or the other, play dates with her two as they fought and challenged their way to the top of their respective power chains. All of those parents had Doris in for drinks and parties.

Doris played the long game, and she played it well. She and Patty had an understanding: they stood outside of each others influences, never having any true altercations over the years. They would greet each other when passing, wish the other a day’s grace, but never once did they sit down for a chat, a tea, or anything resembling a friendship. For Doris, she was glad someone took charge of the building. The majority of the changes sought, while mainly benefiting Patty outright or her vanity, suited Doris as well.

Then, the elevator finally gave up the ghost and was down for over a month. Patty took complaints to the building management, but living on the second floor did not inconvenience her like it did Doris, who lived three more long floors up. Doris was fired up, stirring up anyone she met coming or going. It helped that Dotty passed along her passion to anyone  who came across the Capo’s path as well, and the laundry room became a twirling mass of revolt. It wasn’t easy bringing laundry up and down the stairs, and Patty’s nonchalance about it all was infuriating. She had hers picked up and delivered, never using, or really caring, about the convenience in the building.

What Doris discovered, and what sent her into a tail spin and on her kamikaze way, was what was actually holding up the elevator repairs: Patty had convinced the building management that while they were replacing the motor that burned out, they might as well “fix up” the interior box with a drop ceiling, piped in muzak, and faux paneling to add to the new control works. All bells and whistles that no one else cared about, but in Patty and the owners eyes (who saw higher rents), presentation was everything.

Doris fumed, and got most of the residents fuming, and soon she was running the tenants association. Patty was out, and Mrs. Beatty with her: Mrs. Beatty’s services were “no long needed”, Doris “politely” told her. In two weeks Doris made a huge stink and  got things moving, much to Patty’s chagrin. The elevator had a completion date posted, and she got the building owners to stick to it. She also was moving onto other areas that had been neglected: fire sprinklers and video security. All of the tenants were amazed at what was happening in such a short time. All but Patty, and Mrs. Beatty.

At the end of Dori’s second week reign, Patty took Mrs. Beatty to The Frolicking Lamb, an Irish pub a few avenues away. Mrs. Beatty would nurse a half pint of bitters through the evening while Patty ordered the first of many a pint of Black and Tan. The two of them commiserated over their ousting. Well, Patty pontificated rather loudly and rudely (witnesses heard her scream out “…bitch needs to die!” a few times, but they hadn’t interceded); Mrs. Beatty listened, nodded, and shed a few modest sighs.  Mrs. Beatty had to help Patty back to the building: she called a cab to take them to Swan Rise, and then she had to help lug Patty to her apartment, put her to bed, and then lock up.

This came out in the police investigation the next day, after Doris Bertram’s door was found open and Doris was found D.O.A. The open door led to a lot of property of the victim ransacked; things smashed and upturned, jewelry and assorted “good” things missing (as per her oldest daughter), and the window to the fire escape open wide, with the gate unlocked. A statue of Buddha was used to bash in Dori’s head, and one of Doris’s own knives was used to stab her. This was found in the butcher block knife holder in her newly refurbished kitchen, put back in its place. While it seemed that there was an intruder, after questioning the building residents, some in the building fell under suspicion.

Frank was a suspect, simply because of his being Frank. The Weather Man was looked at, but dismissed early on as being “addled but safe.” Andres and his wife were looked at, as well as a few others. The Laundry Room Mafia all had different opinions on who would have killed “poor, poor Doris”.  Dotty was the most distraught, and while she took refuge in Dry Vermouth and Gin, she cast her gaze upon Doris’s rival, and let the police know.

Patty had been a prime suspect, and her doings were scrutinized up and down and left and right. One key sticking point for a detective was Patty’s reading material in the home and from library circulation: murder mysteries and Real Life Crime Stories. Patty said she that was just the genres she enjoyed reading. Somehow a local reporter got a hold of that information. The headlines screamed “Suspect in Gruesome Murder A Serial Killer Follower!” and assorted other juicy titles in a similar vein.

In the end, nothing was conclusive on the residents looked at or the possible outside offenders who preyed on the neighborhood. The case remained open, and eventually became cold.

Patty was reinstated as the President, with Mrs. Beatty by her side. The first thing Patty pushed through were the surveillance cameras so “nothing like this can ever happen again!” she exclaimed. Mrs. Beatty nodded as she recorded the minutes and kept her head down.

After the meeting that night, Mrs. Beatty returned to The Frolicking Lamb and ordered a full pint of bitters. When it arrived, she lifted her glass, closed her eyes in prayer, and did not nurse her drink that time. She had another, which was very unlike her.

Years later, when the gas line exploded, the building was searched for clues to the cause, and later for structural damages to all the systems. An insurance agent would come across clothing that was buried in oil muck at the bottom of the elevator shaft: pants, blouse and woman’s shoes. The agent shrugged her shoulders and didn’t look strongly enough to find the blood splatter still somewhat discernible. Nor did she pay any mind to the embroidered handkerchief, as the initials VJB were obscured by old, soaked in dried blood.

Thieving Ways (#AtoZChallenge)

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Welcome to the A to Z Challenge : 26 Stories during the month of April

Welcome to… The Apartment Building: Swan Rise

(For Links to the previous stories, CLICK HERE)

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Jewelry missing,  money disappears

A book, a glistening knick-knack, all gone;

Items go walking; owners are in tears

What was once valued, one day there was none.

Thieves, for this continues over the years;

Swan Rise residents wonder, none the wise

Exactly who takes what, who is to fear

Mysteries abound; rumor on wind flies.

But, with all that is taken, no price paid

Wounded spirits, in resentment, such hate

All who have lost, lost trust most, so dismayed

Countless measures taken, all too, too late.

Leave what is ours, not yours for the take

Who is at the door? Bolts, for our sake.

Retraction of Gravity (#AtoZChallenge)

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Welcome to the A to Z Challenge : 26 Stories during the month of April

Welcome to… The Apartment Building: Swan Rise

(For Links to the previous stories, CLICK HERE)

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The inhabitants of Swan Rise Apartments carried the weight of their lives with them. Some  soared in moments of true elation, ecstasy, flights of fancy, but otherwise they were grounded through the daily realities. Others rarely ever rose above a situation. They’d trod through the days, milling around and about and passing by all the other tenants. The building was a center of gravity, keeping them in place from 1960 to 2005.

No…not all of them.

As the children grew, their universe expanded. As it expanded, they moved faster and faster away, seeking to fly off on their own and leave the parental orbit they’ve circled around. Eventually they acquired their own gravity force and rarely returned; too many seemed to have anti-gravity packs on them, with a time limit attached that says “Stay and hold back on  your life,  or move on.”

Then there are the divorces, those that stay after the dissolution of vows, those that leave. How many hearts can be broken in forty-five years? Until an explosion sent all the residents adrift in space, many homes lost their centers, the things that brought them together, holding them in place. Their collective dissolved, and the energy used to keep them in place was exhausted.

A growing number seemed to just be passing by. They settled for a short stay and left little to no trace of their moving on. This happened more and more as the years passed; the attraction and hold of the building fading, flinging out the new, holding onto the old.

Many did grow old in Swan Rise. Many left in the way most don’t like to talk about.

The dead…

So many, as the years passed by; tiny notices by the mail boxes, relating in only a few words the release of another from the grounds. With the eventual removal of that paper on the wall, the last tie was severed for many. When the Whistler died, and then soon after his wife, there was a hollow wind passing through the ground floor that many felt. Others were more fleeting. The one murder in the building held for a long time through the whispers, fears, and for one, relief.

Gone, the husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, grandparent, a number who lived a life alone, pets…so many pets. All those no longer earth bound.

Miraculously, no child died in the living history of Swan Rise. That grief was spared, until the explosion.

The foundation kept the building secure in place; the bricks, wood, plaster, glass, metals, ceramics gave it heft to hug the world it became for the many. Carpets and flooring were laid, furnishings and decor placed, and residents made their apartment a home. It had a mass that attracted them, mutually intense.

The building kept its own gravity, until parts of it were hurled away in a horrible blast and brought down to Earth by a greater force.

Velocity

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Jim made a right turn at a red light, at a corner with two signs saying “No Turn On Red.” His tires left tread as he barreled through the intersection. No cops, just a couple of honkers annoying him.  The Beamer behind him was blistering the air with a staccato of horn blasts. Jim just gave him the finger and sped up, passing through the next light before it turned.

Previously, he had outraced four Yellow “Go Faster!” lights, blew through five Stop signs, crossed over the double yellow lines (to get around the “old farts”) three times, and came close to hitting two cars, and one woman with a stroller crossing in the crosswalk (who had the right of way, but Jim didn’t see it that way at all: he ignored anything that even hinted at “right of way” rules, as his was the only right of way he believed in).

His H3 Alpha had two and a half tons of pure motion in his hands and under his feet; a weapon of the streets, and he aimed to drive as if Hell was on his tail.

He was partly right.

After more almost mishaps, Jim made it home from his beer run. Braking hard, he careened into his spot, barely missing the cars parked parallel to his. He slammed the driver’s door shut. With six pack in hand, he sauntered across the parking lot to the apartment building. Banging open the door, he was confronted with the angry glares of the daily laundering ladies, sorting their whites and colors and silently condemning him for his loud music, his caps on backwards, his wife beater Tees, and his baggy drooping pants.

Jim sneered a Hello to them, walked down the hallway, and danced onto the elevator, which luckily for all was waiting to take him up to the seventh floor.

Unlocking his door, Jim stopped in his tracks. Envelopes were strewn all over the foyer floor. Cursing, Jim kicked the door closed, went to the kitchen and put a six pack in the fridge. He cracked one open, and while swigging it down he went back to get the “under the door garbage.”

Expecting menus or advertisements, he opened one and found a traffic ticket: $150.00 fine for going through “No Turn On Red” signs. There were pictures on the page, clear and damning, of his car, his license plate, him behind the wheel. Shouting out expletives that were heard by the neighbors, Jim picked up the rest and headed to the kitchenette table.

Thirteen more envelopes later, Jim had a stack of traffic tickets in front of him. All had high fines, all had shots of him supporting the fines. He stared at the pile, growling as he set tightly gripping the bottle of cheap lager. He looked them over one more time, then tore each one in half. Crumpling them up one by one, he tossed them into the trash. Out of character for Jim, he took this garbage pail, only half full, not overflowing,  out to the trash chute at the end of the hall. He stomped back to his studio apartment, slammed the door, locked it, and went off to polish off the five remaining bottles in the fridge.

The next morning Jim found fourteen more traffic tickets on the floor by his front door. All the fines were doubled, in large red letters. Again, Jim tore them all up. On his way out, he met the super and complained about someone getting into the building, leaving things under his door. The super waved him on while he continued to mop, having something to gossip about later with his cronies in the building.

Jim’s traffic transgressions were doubled this day, anger seeping out of every pore. When he got home from work, he was greeted by forty-two envelopes, all splayed out on the floor. He tore into them as he threw off his faux leather jacket, opening the refrigerator for the first of cold brews (having replaced the empty six pack with a fresh one in the morning).  Plopping down in his La-Z-Boy, Jim opened, read, and then tore up all the violation warnings. He threw them into the waste basket next to his chair, most of the pieces winding up on the floor. They stayed there.

Waking up from an hour and twenty minute nap, Jim though he had heard a noise by his front door. Getting up to check, he saw more white rectangles littering his floor. Jim ran over, unlocking the door and yanking it open. No one was near his apartment. He ran to the elevator, which was stopped on the floor above, then checked the stairway. Mrs. Elway, widow, garbage bag in hand, saw Jim in his frantic ways, had been going to the chute to dispose her daily waste. She quickly waddled back inside her apartment, locking it, to wait out Jim.

Once back inside, he ripped open the flaps. All the fines were doubled again. The bright red “Warning: Do Not Disregard or Tear Up These Notices” was stamped on every single one of the sheets, top, bottom and the back. Jim wanted to shred them all. They sat in a pile on the table, in place of where he’d eat.

The next morning, another round appeared. Jim called in sick (his boss not believing him and started the process of replacing Jim once they hung up) and waited until 9:00am to call the traffic division. He demanded to talk to whoever was harassing him in such a way. The phone receptionist, taking only so much bad language, disconnected him. And again, first apologizing for being disconnected. Jim called a few more times, finally realizing he was going to get no where.

His drive to the traffic court was sedate, for Jim. Only three infractions, but they grew after Jim spent two and half hours of hurling insults and almost getting arrested for his behavior. His drive home made the local evening news, as people were recounting the dangerous driver who tore through the city streets “like it was his own personal Daytona 500” (said one onlooker who said he barely got out of the way in time).

More envelopes. More doubled fines. More “Do Not…” warnings. Opening up the calculator app on his phone, Jim tallied a staggering amount of fines. His savings and checking account combined wouldn’t even make a dent in what this added up to be.

Jim put his head in his hands, closed his eyes, and tried to calm his racing heart. He heard a sliding sound, got up, and by his door was one envelope. He picked it up: white like the others, but it had stamped on the outside “Last Warning, Jim.” Looking through the peephole, the empty hallway loomed before him. One of the overhead lights went out while he was peeping.

Going to his once comfy chair, Jim plopped down, examining what he held before carefully opening it. The paper was slick and shiny,  coated so that there was a slight glare off the page, reflecting the now fading sunset. A definitive sum headed the ticket, with a list of all of his driving misdoings. Jim read them all, carefully, the bile in his stomach churning with each and every misdeed. This carried on onto the back of the “rap” sheet, ending in a list of terms. Two:

  1. Pay the full amount by 3:33 am (or)
  2. Surrender yourself for full punitive justice

Jim had to look up the word “punitive.” Looking up at the clock on the wall, he had just about ten hours to find the money, or…

Grabbing what he could, Jim tore through the building, out to the lot, and into his SUV. He hit the road, running, and made it to the highway. He drove for hours, going south, then south east, then north for a bit, taking one connective road after another. No plan, no destination, just driving.

3:10 am, and Jim found a Denny’s (it was always open).  Ordering a Grand Slamwich(r) and a cup of coffee, Jim settled back in his booth seat, staring at the clock on the wall. He was on his second cup of coffee and only two bites into his cold sandwich when 3:33 am came. He clutched the mug, not noticing it wasn’t burning his hands.

3:34 am.

3:40 am.

3:45 am, and nothing happened. Sighing, wiping the sweat off of his hands on the booth seat, Jim paid the check and went out to the parking lot.

Leaning against his ride was the biggest cop Jim had ever seen. All in blue, helmet on with faceplate down, his badge radiated golden light, pinned to a massive chest. Raising his right arm, the officer beckoned Jim to come over with one crooked finger. Seeing this, Jim turned and tried to bolt.

He couldn’t. Against his will, Jim turned and walked towards the figure swathed in dark blue. He was within a foot when Jim was spun around and hard, cold metal was clamped around his wrists. He was manhandled into the back of an official looking van, but it had no insignia that Jim could see. Before he could say a word, the van took off, tossing Jim headlong into a bench seat.

Finally getting his bearings, Jim was shoulder pushed into an open spot. He looked around: the van, larger looking on the inside, held a lot of others, both sexes, all ages…well, all above driving age (except for that one girl who looked like she was twelve). Jim tried to shout, to ask what was happening, but nothing came out. Some weakly smiled at him, the rest ignored him. He tried a few more times, but the only sound he heard was the whine of the wind as the van picked up speed as it sped off to it’s final destination.

In the morning at Denny’s, the day shift manager found Jim’s H3 in the parking lot, keys on the hood. “Not mine,” was the answer he got from all inside. The manager waited out his shift and then called for the SUV to be towed away. Two months later, the gas guzzler was police auctioned off. The funds helped, as there was a recent drop in speeding tickets.

 

Beginnings: The Abysmal Dollhouse

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The priest drove the blade deep into Amunet’s chest. The suddenness of the attack shocked her as much as the pain that followed it. This action was repeated by five other priests with all the house slaves in the Mastaba, the final resting place of her master. She saw the others die. This priest’s blade was not true, not penetrating her heart on the first strike. But still, it caused her impending death. The time she had left, though, was enough.

Amunet locked eyes with the priest, old and sand scarred. The pain she felt was mixed with hatred.  Amunet howled a curse as he pulled the knife out of her chest. The priest was  holding the blade’s handle, a tinge of fear on his face, then anger for not having struck a death blow.  Before he could react, Amunet grabbed the hilt, reversed it, and slashed the priest’s throat. In a gurgle, then a gush  he fell to the ground, dying at her feet.

Behind his corpse was a mantle, and the relics that were to be entombed alongside the dead. Amunet stumbled towards it, her life memories, short and brutal, unfolded as she bled out. She held onto the ceremonial knife.

First step: a different life, a different name. A Greek girl, blonde and often praised for her beautiful skin; kidnapped along the coastal shore of her village. Bound and bagged, dropped in a hold with other young girls.

Next step: stripped, passed around from pirate to pirate throughout the voyage. Beaten, starved, raped. Other captives died along the way. They were tossed over the side. She helped toss some over the side.

Fumble step: Only the beatings ended as they announced land in a few days. No scars, no marks on her beautiful skin. Fed more, and passed around even more.

Stopped, panting, holding onto the wound, blood seeping out between her fingers: Naked, auctioned off like cattle; poked, prodded, fondled, pried open. Bought by her “master”, not knowing the language, then. He took her that night, and nights after. Gave her her name. Amunet, the hidden one. Beatings, never at his hands, until she came into line. She was a novelty, with her skin, her coloring, and her master enjoyed sharing his treasure with others.

Two half steps closer: Watching him clutching his arm, then his chest. He tumbled off his chair in front of her and the other slaves. Only one slave moved to his side. Not her. Never her. She smiled.

Collapsing on the mantle: Amunet clutched the doll, the one to protect her “master” in his next life. It’s hair was of sun-baked clay strung on flax thread. The doll’s  body was of wood in the shape of a woman, symbols of fertility etched into it. She held the doll to her chest; she cursed the men who stole her, she cursed all those who used her, she sent out waves of anger and primal hatred. Her blood soaked into the wood carving, the flax thread, stained the sun-baked clay. Her battered life unfolded into the doll.

On her knees, grasping the doll, her head bent over it, laying her curse, she took the knife that she held and stabbed the doll.  Another priest came behind her and rammed his blade into her back. This priest’s blow was true. Amunet fell forward onto the doll.

Her spirit of rage became the doll. A knife became her weapon. She took others through the ages: just, unjust…it did not matter to The Unfolding Doll. For centuries, her revenge glistened on her knife’s edge over and over again.

She grew careless, once, and was trapped by a mage whose son she had taken. Too strong to be destroyed, he did what he could. Caught in his daughter’s room, he fought her and won, binding her spirit in the child’s dollhouse. The mage sold it to a very special shop. He knew he could not stop her completely, but limit the murderous spirit? That he could do.

Be careful when entering The Abysmal Dollhouse. There lies the hidden one, the Unfolding Doll.

2011 in review

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The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 18,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 7 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

The Misfortune of Sea Monsters (part two)

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Part One: The Misfortune of Sea Monsters

NOTE: if you have not read part one (link above), this  will make little to no sense. I am trying my hand at a serialized story, and you really do need to read it, part by part. Thank you.

Part Two: The Hafgufa and The Harpoon

Captain Magnus tried to stop Young Ned from leaping to a certain lost cause, but he was too late. The Return swayed, but no man was more made more steady on his feet than a captain whose ship was an extension of himself.  The large ripples the beast made, as it bore Meigs down, tried their best to topple him. He heard some of his men falter and gasp, but he would have none of that.

You’re a fool, Young Ned. A brave one, but a fool all the same.” The captain stayed at the side of his ship, speaking to an uncaring sea, waiting for any sign.

The foolish Young Ned was far below, swimming downward. His labor was fierce, as the creature tunneled the water as it  should, and Young Ned was handicapped by the harpoon he knew he must have. Meigs was a rag doll in the monster of the deep’s tentacles, and his mate, his friend,  felt it was already too late, but this feeling only propelled him to swim faster.

The “Vanishing Island” (for so the Hafgufa  has been called) belched a stream of, what Young Ned thought would be if one could smell underwater, noxious fumes.  Stopping it’s descent, it turned towards Young Ned, its eyes locking onto him. A tentacle was thrust towards him, then another and another.  Each time the attack was thwarted by a true blow of the exquisite sharpness of the harpoon that Young Ned wielded. Both he and the monster scored points, but none were as deep or as ruinous as what came from the well placed harpoon.

He was fast losing the last of his air reserves when a well placed jab freed the sea undulating body of SM Meigs. Young Ned grabbed his comrade and began his ascent. The creature, leaking foul fluids from the many contact hits delivered,  sent out a spasm of its own pain and struck Young Ned across his back,  sending the harpoon spiraling out of Young Ned’s  hand and knocking him unconscious.

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The deck of The Return was hard and wet under Young Ned’s back,  as he coughed up the bracken sea water. Retching was a rude awakening, but any revival from what seemed like certain death was a good one. Captain Magnus gave his one good hand to Young Ned and helped him stand. Young Ned politely shook him off, bent at the knees, and expelled the last of the wretched substance.

Standing up, Young Ned looked around him. There, amidships, by the mizzenmast, lay the body of SM Meigs. Nothing was said: he knew Meigs was dead as sure as he knew the Hafgufa would pay, and pay dearly. Young Ned also noticed one other thing: the harpoon he carried into battle lay at his feet.

Puzzled, he bent and picked it up. “Captain, how…” he began.

“I know, lad, I know. You should have been as dead as poor Meigs.  Too much time had passed, and the lads and, sadly, I, had given up all hope. The sea waters were thrashing for all to see, then they went still. I had said my prayers and sent you Godspeed to Davey Jones embrace, when…well…”

“What? Please Captain. I don’t understand why I am still alive, here on deck. I felt a blow across my back, a shattering pain lanced through, and I felt the sea enter me as I quickly lost all awareness.”

Captain Magnus stared hard at Young Ned. He turned his head and spat over the rail. Turning back, it was the first time the captain would not make eye contact.

“You know me for an honest man, as honest as the sea will allow one to  be. The crew saw this too, or I wouldn’t have believed it myself. We had given up all hope, but…the mysteries of the seas are deep. The still water broke apart, Young Ned, and you, Meigs and that harpoon were on the back of a narwhal. This one was male, a lovely helical tusk, as woven as a twisted knot of hair. It floated long enough for us to retrieve you and poor Meigs. We thought you were gone too, but, well, you coughed up the sea as it coughed up yourself.”

“The narwhal?” Young Ned inquired.

“Slid away and gone. Come…no use scratching our heads about this. You are alive, Young Ned, and I am glad that I can keep my promise to your sister that you stay that way. Well, at least for today.” Captain Magnus smiled, slapped Young Ned on the back, and turned, barking orders to set course for land and home.

Walking over to the body of his friend, Young Ned knelt and said some prayers. He also vowed, in these moments of silence, to seek vengeance, so dreadful and sincere. Lost in his moments of grief, it was only the collision of the boatswain, Mr. Diggs, that brought him around to a deck that was beginning to tilt and the noses of men in a panic.

“Diggs…what is it, man?”

The boatswain, face ashen, said “Look starboard; look what you’ve brought upon us!”

Pushing the man away, harpoon still in hand, Ned rushed starboard an pulled himself up and looking over the rail:

The Hafgufa’s tentacles were climbing the sides of The Return, tilting the ship. One passed by his head and twisted onto the mizzenmast behind him. One solid jerk, and the Hafgufa and Young Ned were staring at one another, connected by sea, wood, and bone.

The Return cried a mournful sound upon the waters.

to be continued…

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The Rule of Three Blogfest for 2011 is done; voting will soon be open, and our long list of finalists can be found at our brand new Welcome to Renaissance blog page!!!  Eleven great writers/stories out of about 60 participants. It was not easy. Please read the stories in order (links will be on the above link). ENJOY!!!!

Doc Stovepipe’s Medicine Show: Gid (#REN3 Part Three)

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The Shared World of Renaissance:

Part One: Doc Stovepipe’s Medicine Show: Mississippi Lil

Part Two: Doc Stovepipe’s Medicine Show: Doc Stovepipe

The Prompts for Week Three:

  1. The impending misfortune foreshadowed in the 1st prompt comes to pass, but one or more characters laugh at it.
  2. Betrayal is in the air.
  3. Relationships unravel or strengthen.
  4. A long-kept secret is revealed.

Word Count: 594

Part Three: “…the only truth that sticks.”

Gid looked at both men, and did not like the way they felt.  Something was very wrong here. Lil held onto his arm in a bear hug way. He liked the way her body pressed into his, bringing back instant tactile memory of their recent coupling, but he did not like that she brought him to Doc Stovepipe. He especially did not like Digger, who all in Renaissance knew as trouble, and Gid had stayed out of his way.

Gid invoked a silent protection chant. He saw Lil look at him just then. “Huh?,” he thought. “She felt that. Lil’s more than she lets on.” Gid tried to put some space between him and Mississippi Lil, but she was not letting him. Physically she held onto his arm. Magically, she had bound him. Gid felt it, deep.

She whispered in his ear: “When you came, you came to me completely. Don’t doubt that for a second.” Out loud, she said to Doc and Digger: “He’s mine, so let’s get this over with.”

Digger laughed a dry dirty guffaw and got up. Doc glared at Gid, then rose and put on his Stovepipe hat. He picked up his mug of Renaissance Brown Ale and downed it in one swig, wiping his mouth with the sleeve of his coat. Gid noticed this, disgusted, hating the man even more, which  he thought would have been impossible.

Lil had told him of the sexual degradations Doc had imposed on her. Gid took great affront to all she told him. He knew she wasn’t chaste, and Gid wasn’t a choir boy himself, but he never once forced himself on anyone, never beat a woman, never treated one like a slave.

When he looked at her, first on that stage, and then later, he thought he felt what love at first sight must be like. Lil was nothing like the girls he knew in Renaissance. There weren’t that many his age, and he hadn’t felt much of anything about any one of them. Lil was different, and he had hoped…

Gid was compelled to follow along, side by side with Lil, behind Digger and Doc. He tried to yell out to Amy, the bartender, or any of the other few patrons he knew in The Last Stinkin’ Battalion, but his mouth would not work. “Shhh, lover…don’t get all worked up. Remember, Lil has a plan all of her own,” she said into his ear, as the group made their way through the darkened town streets.

The foursome make their way out of the town limits and wound up at the base of the Main Gauche mining hills. The opening to Heriot’s Pass had been boarded up; Doc and Digger were undoing that now, removing a few planks. Enough for all of them to squeeze into. Gid noticed Digger had a lantern which he had not noticed before; they must have had this here already, and planned out, he thought alongside the inner chants he hoped would give him some chance of escape. Gid was kicking himself for skipping out on too much of his trainings.

They came to an opening, where four tunnels branched off, and Gid noticed the chalk markings on the rocky ground. “Damnation, Doc’s a Schiavonaist,” he wailed inside, finally finding a fear he held off. Digger came and extracted Gid from Lil’s deathlike embrace, putting him dead center of the markings…but not before she had passed him something cold and hard into his hand.

Lil caught Gid’s eye and nodded, mouthing to him “Use it well!”

End of Part Three

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CONTEST: What did Mississippi Lil give to Gid at the end of the story?

Hi Folks: I’m actually very serious here. You can thank Golden Eagle for this idea: she innocently stated, below in comments, that she was wondering what was the  ” something cold and hard” she gave Gid, to “use it well”.

So…what was it?

Be inventive, staying within the confines of what I’ve been setting up here,  or descriptive. in something “normal” in what you think she passed to him. Or be descriptive inventive.  😉

Post those thoughts in the comments you leave and I’ll either choose one OR have you all come back to vote on the choice (Poll time, I think), and the item that gets chosen will be it. It could change the story, and that would be fun for me to work around. Yes, I have NOT written Part Four yet. Haven’t even started word one on it.

What will you get? Mentions here, links to your webrsite, fame and glory, and I’ll do one of my Writers Interviews with you, that I post on BornStoryteller (my other blog). How is that? Best as I can do. Hope you’ll join in.

Stu

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Part Four: Doc Stovepipe’s Medicine Show: Sacrifices and Retribution (coming 10/26/2011)

Last Prompts: Friday, October 21,  2011

Special Side Story: Renaissance: Missing Air (this is set in the future and has ties to the Doc Stovepipe story)

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The following two stories have nothing to do with the Doc Stovepipe stories above, but are set in my Renaissance world:

Renaissance Teaser: Prissy’s Story

Renaissance Teaser: Jewel’s Story

Video Trailer 2: The Rule of Three Blogfest

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Join Us In The Rule of Three Writers Challenge BlogFest!

Final Day to Sign Up: Monday October 3, 2011

I am co-hosting an exciting creative writing blog challenge, and I hope you will join the over 40 writers participating!

During October 2011, venture into the shared world of Renaissance (information below). You will create three characters set in that world: any genre, any time period. During the course of four weekly postings you will craft your tale where your three characters interact, or not, winding up in one great cumulative story. Each Friday, you will be given a set of prompts to move you along until you reach your climax. There is the chance to discover new writers, see a different side of ones you already admire, and hopefully have tons of fun doing this: you might also win some prizes (listed below as well). Read on!!
REN3<a href=”http://wp.me/P1mecg-bV”><img src=”http://i1190.photobucket.com/albums/z451/Jc_Martin/RuleofThreeshield.jpg&#8221; alt=”REN3″ width=”242″ height=”242″ /></a>

Grab this code for the badge created by the wonderful Portia Burton, Concept by the equally wonderful Lisa Vooght

The Shared World: Renaissance

An outpost town in the middle of nowhere, but many routes (the TARGE, KRIS, and VILLEIN are the largest of routes, but not the only ones) pass through or by the town. The SCHIAVONA  Desert is encroaching on one side (to the West), a once lush forest (the CULDEES) lies to the East and South. A large river, the ESPADON,  runs through the forest of ASSART (to the north) but it is not close by. The ROUNDELI Mountains are also to the North, far, far away, and when you look towards them you don’t know if they are an illusion or not. Closer by are the smaller hill chain, the MAIN GAUCHE and the MINOR GAUCHE, that fed the mining, creating caverns (the KASTANES)  and passages (one particular passage is known as  HERIOT’S PASS) lie underground.

The town has had a number of identities throughout it’s history: A trading post; a mining town; a ghost town until it was rediscovered; a thriving community; the scene of a number of great battles; the scene of one great tragedy (that led to it’s Ghost Town standing); a  town of great joys and celebrations, and so much more.

At this point in time, there is a general population of 333. A mixture of a community. It boasts families that have lived there for generations upon generations, but they are in the minority, and are not in positions of power. There are traders who have come back here, at the end of their many travails, to settle in. The new families and power players have taken this as a last refuge for themselves, hoping to rebuild lives torn apart on the way here.

EVERYONE has a secret!

Welcome to Renaissance.

Enjoy your stay.

For Full Guidelines & List of Prizes: Click Here

Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…and:

Announcement: The Doll is a horror novelette by J.C. Martin that has only been read by a limited audience so far. It will be FREE for anyone who signs up on the Rule of Three linky list. We will email participants on the linky list with the direct link.

My Teaser Stories Set in Renaissance:

Renaissance: Prissy’s Story

Renaissance: Jewel’s Story


First Regret…Final Passion (part two)

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PLEASE read this first First Regret…Final Passion (part one)

The first time I had been in jail had been murder. Literally. The cops I had pissed off during that investigation did their best to piss me off. When the actual murderer left a trail that led to me, they were more than happy to drag me into the station and charge me for the murder of my mother.

It looked bad for awhile, and I didn’t make friends easy inside. Far from it. Eventually, things came to light, the bastard tripped himself up, and I was eventually released. Not before having some severe Not Fun times. I still sport a few shiv scars from not wanting to be anyone’s girl friend.

Thanks, Dad. I still owe you for that.

The second time I went to jail was my own damn fault. Detective Galloway never let up on me, even though I was 100% cleared. I had gotten in his face too much, and this was The King of Grudges, with a badge. No matter where I was on the social scene, and the money Mom left me saw that I could still be around, the Grudge Lord would haul me in for questioning whenever anything wonky went down. Theft, cat fights, something missing, someone’s spouse gone missing…bam! Knock, Knock, Police…we have some questions for you.

When he tried to haul me in out of the blue when I was on a perfectly great date, I had had enough.  I did my own hauling off and punched him right between the eyes. I was sick and tired of his harassment. I was tired of his abuse of power, his screaming shit at me,  his red face stressed to eating wires. Then…he spit on me.

Pow!

Who knew he was a wuss? Down he went, out cold…and right into the path of an oncoming car. His partner Dmitri got to him   before anything real serious could happen. Galloway had hit his head on my car bumper on the way down, so between the pop in the face and the blood above his eyes, well…Me? I just stood there, in shock more than anything else. The feral grin (yep, I felt feral at that moment) sent Dmitri over the top. Next thing I knew I was thrown against my Mercedes, my hands were  behind my back being bitingly cuffed, Lisa (my great date) was screaming her head off, and I broke a heel off my new pump.

“Daddy’s Little Girl At It Again” went the headline of one of the local rags. The TV stations went with it big time. My lawyer plead my case: big bad cop, poor little ol’ me, the injustice, strain, PMS (I almost hit him between the eyes AND kicked him between the legs for that one), my dead mother GOD REST HER SOUL, the LGBT tried to “help” ::coughAgendacough::: that this was a hate thing on his part (he just didn’t like me, even before he knew)…and I still served two months in jail and then a year of community service.

If I hadn’t already been on Galloway and Dmitri’s shit list, I was Number One with a bullet now. He had to kinda stay away from me, which was one of the only good things that came out of it all (well, that and him going down like he did), but that did not mean his buds had to. Nor Dmitri.

Now they had even more reason to come get me. The jerk that Angie..dammit…Jane and her-whatever-he-was-to-her killed was big money that fed into police causes. Of course he was. The wife knew my name.  My prints and blood were all over the scene of the crime, and I had fled said scene. Guilty Guilty Guilty. I knew there was no way out of this one, unless I found Angie/Jane and her partner, and handed them over with impunity for me, dead to rights for them.

Angie. You’re beautiful, but it was not time to say goodbye just yet. Things just went up in smoke, and there ain’t no loving in your soul. I’m going to find you, kick your ass, and then show you were all this is going to lead you. Mick and Keith, if only you knew.