Gold eyes met green across the beer-splattered table, neither blinking, as their overturned drinks dripped onto the floor. Hand on her brother’s sword, Sayla could not see a way out of this deadlock. She doubted she could intercept the man’s hand if he lunged with his knife, but perhaps her longer blade would be quicker.
A hand, more boulder than flesh, fell onto her shoulder. “You’ve insulted the maiden,” a jovial voice boomed.
The man facing her gaped, his ruddy cheeks paling. Abruptly, he dropped his knife and straightened fully, raising both palms. “No offense meant, Warden Draeyn.”
Continuation of Ironblood
(Written for The Prediction. Challenge words: deadlock, intercept, maiden)
The sun sat hot and heavy in the bleached sky, and filled the tiled cloister with the heady, too-sweet stench of overripe peaches. Aella, despite being covered in heavy, white robes, seemed comfortable in the heat. Her umber face was dry and calm.
“The summons came, then?” Aella said.
Glimmer nodded, and clutched her waist. “They can’t know, can they?”
Aella’s eyes sharpened beneath the brim of her hat. “No, they would not be so subtle if they suspected. It is merely your time.”
“Sayla said to run.”
“Perhaps. Though the request is valid, there may be time to delay.”
Continuation of Ironblood
(Written for The Prediction. Challenge words: brim, cloister, valid)
Glimmer watched, eyes wet, as Sayla buckled her brother’s sword around her waist. There was a finality in how Sayla tightened the scarred strap, and let her hand linger on the leather-wrapped hilt, before looking up into Glimmer’s eyes.
Both born under the Emerald Moon in the Albaenorin parish, they had been closer than kin, and then closer still.
“After I’m gone, do not let them diagnose you as an Ironblood,” Sayla said. “Leave with Aella, if it comes to that.”
“But how will you find me? It may be years…”
Sayla kissed her. “I will always find you.”
Beginning of Ironblood
(Written for The Prediction. Challenge words: buckle, diagnose, parish)
Harriet did not like trees. There was something sinister about how they leaned, silently observing, refusing to intercede. Oh you might see a branch sway, perhaps get a pinecone dropped on your head, but beyond that, nothing.
Mama said trees were an allegory about the insignificance of man. Insignificance, Harriet understood.
Trees lined the road Harriet walked every day, and as she marched past, with hood drawn up and eyes narrowed, she’d hear them whisper. She listened to their vulgar murmurs with gritted teeth, and stayed in the center of the road.
“I don’t trust you either,” she whispered back.
(Written for The Prediction. Challenge words: allegory, trust, vulgar)
The coffee percolates on the table, dripping black into Mama’s favorite mug. I dump the grounds in the trash, avoiding your eyes, and wrap my fingers around the cracked, cactus-covered porcelain.
“You have to talk to me,” you say.
I think about pouring gin into my coffee, and when I look up, I know you’ve read my mind.
You look sad, and I almost hate you for it. “Let her go, Waverly. It’s been months.”
I open my mouth, but Mama scowls at me from behind your shoulder.
“Let her go,” she says.
I sigh. If only dead meant dead.
(Written for The Prediction. Challenge words: cactus, gin, percolate)
Cass was regretfully introduced to the feckless Rendal the following day, when she was compelled to firmly dissuade an errant hand on her backside with a few choice words, and a firmly-wielded dagger.
He was greasy and unkempt, with long, blond lashes that fluttered and clumped around his bloodshot eyes. Apparently given to ear-grating tautology, Rendal babbled endless excuses and apologies, until Cass cut him off with a firm wiggle of the blade.
“Sir,” she said, narrowing her eyes as his mouth gaped in a silent yawn. “Perhaps your energy would be better spent on catching the Red Lady’s killer.”
Continuation of The Red Lady
(Written for The Prediction. Challenge words: grease, tautology, yawn)
The Red Lady of Venice lay dead in the street. Someone had covered her with a black cloak, but Cass could still see dark red curls from beneath the hood. The crowd was hushed, and anger filled more than a few faces.
Though new to the city, even Cass had heard of her. It seemed impossible anyone would wish her harm.
“It’s an execution,” a gruff voice said behind her.
“Who would dare?” a woman whispered.
“The Elorians would do this. Cut out our heart.”
“Is a feckless bastard. She’ll never be avenged while he’s in charge.”
(Written for The Prediction. Challenge words: execute, feckless, Venice)
I’m excited to announce that I’m included in the newly released Issue 19 at 101Fiction. Check out Eyesore, my 100 word story about coming nose to nose with a faerie, and while you’re there, enjoy the full collection of stories.
Here’s a short excerpt from my piece –
My mama left me three things – a temper, hotter than a supernova, a Tedaskerian saw-blade that can mince bone, and a small, rowan-wood pendant, shaped like a peach pit.
I can see the twitch beginning in the thick of your brow, as your eyes tighten and narrow. Your lips part, purse, then close. You decide to stay silent, and drum your fingers on the beer-stained coasters dividing the space between us.
You’ve modeled a therapist’s face of support and understanding for so many others, that you default to it automatically with me, despite how unnatural it is between us.
I speak first, and smile around my words. “It’s true. I kill people for money.” I adjust the gun beneath the table, as awareness bleeds the color from your cheeks.
(Written for The Prediction. Challenge words: divide, model, speak)
Whoever said the real treat was the journey and not the destination, had likely never spent a week wading through Hayborthien crap.
Jaes had plugged her nose with strips of cloth on day one, but she could still smell the sickly-sweet stench. The yellow sludge was everywhere. It sloshed into her boots and coated her thighs with every step.
At nightfall they climbed into the bleached trees and prayed a sleepy turn wouldn’t dump them into the muck below.
Daav had chosen this lovely, surreptitious route, and Jaes might have murdered him if it didn’t mean more to carry.
(Written for The Prediction. Challenge words: destination, plug, surreptitious)