Category Archives: Escape in Fantasy

Change With Me, My Love – A Dystopian Fantasy Love Story

A lonely man in a dying world seizes a chance at happiness with a mythical being. Grab a cup of tea and settle in with your favorite snuggly blanket for an eight minute story that feels like getting lost in a novel. While you’re there, I would love to know what you think.

Click on the photo above to go to my Vocal Media story and feel free to comment and like. I would greatly appreciate it.

Excerpt

The outside world was unknown to her, but she could see a glimpse of it through the window in his room. The view from this high place included a blue sky interrupted by puffy white clouds tipped in pink from the rising sun, and their shadows moved swiftly over a patch of turbulent sea. That spot was the focus of her longing.

It was the vast land flowing away from the sea that comprised the unknown, the part of this world she had never experienced until now, the part that required a pair of feet to traverse it. She looked at her toes in wonder, curling them just to ensure it was her will operating the strange appendages.

***

Escape into a Solstice Lore Fantasy During a Dark Winter

Enjoy a fantasy short story set in a parallel realm during the winter solstice. Meet Ray Jensen, husband, father and physicist, who disappears into an experiment and ends up in a place where his ideas about science and logic are turned upside down. Despite the fantastical world, the questions piquing his scientific curiosity, and his new friends, his only desire is to get home. Journey with him and Tsealie of the Sapphire Gnomes while he figures it out.

Excerpt

Ray Jensen pounded through the trees, then leapt with blind faith into the hole as an arrow whizzed past his ear. The opening sealed over his head like it never existed, as he dropped thirty feet.

Experience taught him the precise point at which to fold his tall body for the landing, and he hit the ground, rolled over the floor covered in thick straw, and came to a breathless halt against a boulder.

He coughed and spat out a mouthful of dirt. Just once, he would like to enter the realm of the Sapphire Gnomes without coming close to breaking his neck.

His eyes landed on a pair of Antlered Hare boots and the bottom of a crooked staff. The voice above them said, “You’re quite good at that. And I can see it was necessary.”

***

Click on the photo below to go to my story on Vocal Media. A like would be so appreciated, and comments are welcome.

Vintage Holiday Greeting Card

A Leap Through the Elder Oak is also available in four installments in My Stories.

A Leap Through the Elder Oak, The Conclusion

  • Click here for Part One
  • Click here for Part Two
  • Click here for Part Three

A Leap Through the Elder Oak, Conclusion

Once again, Ray found himself dodging arrows as he leapt over fallen trees and ducked behind live ones. Tsealie would say it was a miracle he hadn’t been poked full of holes long before now. The elves were lethal with their uncanny aim and inhuman strength that sent the arrows flying so close, his skin prickled where they passed.

Another missile whipped by his face, splitting a small birch tree in two ahead of him, right where he’d been about to turn. He spun on his heels and changed direction as he cursed his hair that glowed like a silver beacon in the growing darkness of the shortest day of the year. He’d set out wearing a gnome hat Tsealie’s daughter had modified for him. The conical hat was absurd on such a tall man, but it disguised his humanness and used magical camouflage to make him disappear into nature.

It worked until the cap was snatched by a branch about a half mile back as he traversed a dangerous patch of woods. Not long after, the elf prince and his guard picked up his trail. Thwack! Another arrow lodged in a tree, this time taking a piece of him first. Ray reached behind his neck and felt the wetness of his blood. Another inch and the force would have taken his head.

Before this fateful jaunt into the bizarre, Ray had wished for more excitement in his life. Dropping into the realm of a supernatural race who did not welcome the intrusion wasn’t what he had in mind. Was leaving here too much to ask? He considered throwing himself on the mercy of the elf king. He’d meant what he said when he told Tsealie this was the last time he would risk the gnomes.

If he hadn’t broken so many laws when he first arrived, Tsealie might have managed to negotiate a sponsorship with King Seabrin, which might have gotten him home at the start of this venture. But laws were very different here, and the elves had little tolerance for law breakers, even if they were unwitting ones. Attempting negotiations was too dangerous a prospect for the lesser gnome kingdom to undertake. Once Ray learned about his situation, he refused to let Tsealie try.

He stumbled through a patch of thorny brush and almost fell on his face. He’d lost more blood than he realized, and his vision blurred. He didn’t even let himself dwell on the pain. Too many other worries crowded his mind, like making it to the portal before he passed out. He should try to staunch the blood. The elves had gone silent, which meant he had no idea how close they were, but he needed to rest a minute and bind his wound.

An opening between a spot of thick brush and a boulder provided cover while he crouched on the pungent forest floor and listened for signs of his pursuers. An owl hooted. Something skittered through his hiding spot, followed by another skitter. Twigs snapped under heavier steps. The prince was closer than he thought. As he listened, his vision cleared enough to make out his surroundings in the fading light. His heart thumped at what he saw.

He’d made it back to the Forest of the Fire Maidens and was in the middle of the ancient copse of yews Tsealie described. Ray knew what he must search for next, but he stayed hidden a little longer to drink his fill of water from the gourd on his belt. He used some to wash the blood from his hands, listened again, then pushed on in a direction away from the elves.

He only had to go another hundred yards before he spotted the mound of granite towering over a moonlit meadow, his last marker. An ethereal voice echoed between the trees. “If you don’t halt and turn yourself in, human, it will go worse for you.”

Of course, he kept going. He was so close; the sound of his wife’s laughter rang in his head. She was always ready to laugh, and it was the sweetest sound on earth. It beckoned him and hope gave him strength and stealth, so when he sprinted the last few yards, he made no sound.

He leapt over a log and vaulted around the monolithic rock, then stumbled to a halt. Ray had hashed out every detail of the epic solstice battle with Tsealie the past few days, but it hadn’t prepared him for the sight that met his eyes. Two trees, so tall they blocked the deepening starlight, swung their branches at each other as if they were swords. Their clashes thundered across the clearing, and electricity made its own noise as it crackled between them, growing in intensity.

He couldn’t make out faces because there weren’t any, but he imagined their expressions all the same, and it was clear the giant trees engaged in a fierce competition. One minute, they seemed rooted to the ground, the next, they would raise a gnarled root and step forward with another jab.

Movement caught his eye. It was an opening in the hollow of one of the warring trees, the Elder Oak, and it shimmered in an out of existence. His theory was correct. The portal wasn’t fixed in one spot, it moved around to meet certain conditions. And he watched those conditions unfold in a traditional clash that heralded winter. He calculated the war would end in about twenty minutes.

Before he could make his move, a beam of light blinded him, obscuring the snorting creature rearing up and blocking his path. A stag. He had to leap out of the way and barely managed to stay on his feet.

On the stag’s back was a fierce-looking blue-haired elf with a crown on his head that appeared to be made of water. The glowing being spoke in a deep voice. “Where do you think you are going, human? Do you really believe we would let you return without making you pay for your crimes?”

“My only crime is believing I was smart enough to know what I was doing with the portal. I admit conducting my experiment was the worst decision of my life. I only want to return to my family. I haven’t caused any harm here. Please let me go back.”

“It is the harm you might cause when you return that we are concerned with, and none of this is for you to decide. It is up to the king.” His brows drew together. “There is one possibility that might earn you your freedom.”

“What do you mean?”

“The human who seems set on discovering his way here must be stopped. The king will send you home after you help us with this problem.” 

“I’ve already been missing for six years. Longer is unthinkable.”

“It is either this or be locked away and never go home again.” Ray decided he had another choice and searched for his opportunity to make a run for the ancient oak.

Then, he got help when a familiar sapphire prism pierced the darkness, and snow began to fall. It fell so heavy it soon covered every surface, piling high. The blanketing quiet brought to the fore the sounds of clashing branches. Only a few feet separated Ray from his family.

An owl flew at the prince, flapping its wings around the stag’s head. The stag reared up, this time in defense, nearly unseating the prince. More owls swooped over the guards.

Ray recognized the cues given to him by a wizened old gnome to point him towards another leap of faith. In the winged chaos, he made a zigzag dash, then dove headfirst at the shimmering hollow while the king of the oak trees dueled with the Holly King, both giants oblivious to the drama playing out beneath them.

As he tumbled through a denser darkness than the one now shrouding Undine on the winter solstice, he sent his heartfelt gratitude to a tiny being who had turned out to be the best friend he ever had.

  • Click here for Part One
  • Click here for Part Two
  • Click here for Part Three

A Leap Through the Elder Oak, Part Three

  • Click here for Part One
  • Click here for Part Two
  • Click here for Part Four

A Leap Through the Elder Oak, Part Three

The six-foot four human had given up applying science to the phenomenon of his two-foot-high companion covering distances faster than him, while appearing to stroll. His efforts these days went to keeping pace with the being who barely topped his knee. He was used to the strangeness now, so he was able to listen as they walked and Tsealie explained.

“It will be a process because as kings, the giant trees can move among their subjects. However, there are only so many locations that will accommodate their size, and as you pointed out, the locations are part of the tradition.”

His dark eyes glittered. “I am hopeful we can get you to the right one in time. I will alert the network at once. Then, you, my friend, will need to be ready to dodge the elves and make it there in one piece.” 

When Ray’s face filled with determination, Tsealie said, “Did I ever tell you that you could pass for an Ice Elf with that platinum hair? Especially when your eyes turn steely.”

“You mentioned it a time or two. And if I were to stay longer in this world, I would like to meet the race whose history my ancestors in Scandinavia might very well share, if my theory is correct.”

The two of them continued on, rounding yet another bend in the tunnel, and the yeasty fumes of mushroom ale invaded Ray’s nostrils. He rolled his shoulders and relaxed, inhaling deeper. His favorite soup was on the menu this afternoon. Leek and lentil. Prior to living with these diminutive beings of nature, Ray had been steadfast in his belief he wouldn’t survive on greenery and legumes, though his wife often tried to convince him to go vegetarian with her. It turned out he thrived on the savory concoctions the gnomes liberally dished out.

Tsealie’s smile thinned out his wrinkles. You know I will miss your stories and our games. But I wish this for you as hard as you wish it for yourself.”

“I know you do, Tsealie. And I have a feeling once I’m home, it won’t be long before I will want to come back for a visit, though I can’t see how that might happen. Do you?”

“Before you stumbled unwittingly through a Fae portal and wandered into the fern gardens to trample over my herd of snails, I would have thought not. But with you Raymond Jensen, anything is possible.”

Ray blanched at his words, even as he accepted the humor in them. “I still feel awful about the snails. At least you stopped me before my carelessness grew to unforgivable proportions.”

At last, they arrived at a set of double doors carved out of thick elm. A pair of gnomes, even shorter than their elder, and dignified in their sapphire livery complete with tall, conical caps, made way for them, then stood at attention. Guards were not a requirement in this peaceful realm deep under the earth. The little sentinels made themselves available in this fashion, seeming to appear from thin air, out of respect for Tsealie, who was the oldest among them.

But Tsealie’s age was another logic-bending mystery Ray decided long ago not to spend time puzzling over, so he pushed that last thought aside and bent in half to enter the Great Hall Under the Elm. Thanks to the hollow in the giant tree widening out to unbelievable proportions below ground, he could rise to his full height after squeezing through the door.

Since learning today about the symbiotic relationship between the trees and the gnomes, Ray took time to glance around the natural architecture with new eyes. He let the raucous noise fade away and listened to the sounds of the earth. A trick Tsealie taught him. An array of burls had been turned into small windows that staggered up the great height of the tree, and the dust moted beams of light bathed his face.

Part of him had been aware of the aura glowing off the surfaces of the underground kingdom, but now he could feel the rhythm of life that encompassed more than the tiny people.

Tsealie waited, as if he understood Ray’s need to absorb this new perspective of his surroundings. Then, the elder’s stomach rumbled loud enough to break the spell, and the hall turned lively once again.

Ray smiled and said, “I could use a meal, too. But even more urgent is the need to indulge in at least three pints, and a board game or two to calm me down. You’ve given me my first real hope today.”

“Your clever scientific investigations did that,” Tsealie said as they headed through the throng of citizens, all wearing the signature pointed hat, whether male or female. “Now let’s eat, so we can get to our next round of Lanard. You promised to leave me with a strategy memorable enough to be chronicled in the archives.”

Just then, a sentinel appeared as if out of thin air. His cap was askew, and his eyes were round as he said, “Prince Jonpril’s men are investigating much too close to our entrance, Tsealie. Linton is bolstering the shields.”

Tsealie laid a hand on his guard’s shoulder. “Thank you, Peddrie. You best go back and help him.” It appeared as if the miniature person turned and walked away, but he was simply no longer there. Ray blinked. He still wasn’t used to that.

Ray said, “The winter solstice cannot come soon enough this year for the Sapphire Gnomes. If I don’t make it, Tsealie, I will turn myself in.”

To be continued… stay tuned for the conclusion tomorrow! December 24, 2022.

  • Click here for Part One
  • Click here for Part Two
  • Click here for Part Four

More Pod People Seeded in my Brain by Aliens – Being Taken Over is Exciting!

So long as they’re giving me something and not taking… Hmmm. Or are they? Well, what I don’t know won’t hurt me. Meanwhile, characters, aka my Pod …

More Pod People Seeded in my Brain by Aliens – Being Taken Over is Exciting!

My Pod People are Still Clamoring for Release. Stories Won’t Stop! Happy Winter Writing!

100-Word Story Challenge. My foray into horror – A minor Starlight Chronicles Vampire character, my inspiration…

Enjoy a Three-Part Supernatural Horror Story – Exactly 100 Words Each

One: Brother’s Maker

Thick rivulets of blood moved down the wall like snakes slithering into Hell. Lucius thought going there himself would be better than mucking out this foul slaughter. Hiding his brother’s crimes from Prince Remus. Death by fire, their punishment if caught.

Linus, too far gone to understand the danger, had killed another valuable hunter. Lucius labored to obliterate the evidence while Linus crouched over an arm sucking out the blood and marrow like a human sucking meat from a crab leg.

Lucius had turned his brother. Watching him deteriorate was penance. Figuring out how to stop it, his only purpose.

Two: Brother’s Keeper

Lucius stared in frustration at the naked female, then grabbed newspaper from the alley trash to cover her. Copious blood soaked through, turning it to pulp. He added more paper. Didn’t help. Blood spouted like a fountain from her torn jugular. He yanked his brother, who’d pounced on her again, away from her neck.

“You couldn’t have gone one more block?” Linus whipped towards him. Lucius stifled a gasp. The nerdy, giraffe-legged brother was there. Then the eyes turned soulless, reflecting the red pooling beneath their feet, and Linus’s stark hunger. Pain stabbed Lucius where his heart once beat.

Three: Brother’s Killer

Lucius cradled Linus’s head in his lap. Just his head… which Lucius had to remove. He stared at the rectangular hole holding his brother’s body, then forced his gaze away to take in the fateful surroundings. The graveyard was damp. Dew glistened on the grass. Dripped from cypress trees and giant yews. None of it made this real. They’d been vampires for five decades, inseparable. But Linus’s self-control had deserted him. He broke too many council laws.

“You never believed you could be ended, brother. Didn’t you once think it would be me who would have to do the ending?”

Had to add this. I love making book covers, even for tiny fiction.

First drafts rejected. But I Keep Trying.

I was happy with my first attempt to do a 100-word story. The publisher, not so much. But that’s okay because I learned a lot in the process. These bits about vampire brothers were inspired by a minor character in my Starlight Chronicles series. I admit, pure horror is a challenge for me, though I love reading and watching it, the darker the better. I read Bram Stoker in my youth, along with Mary Shelly, which means those sweeping, tantalizing, horrific impressions are there, deep down, and now that I’m writing fantasy, I’m compelled to draw from their brilliance.

Vlad the Impaler has been an endlessly fascinating figure in history and fiction for me, no matter how many ways his story has been told. And today’s supernatural fantasy authors are finding entertaining ways to retell the tales. Many of them inspired me.

Luke Evans portrayed an excellent fictional Vlad. Dracula Untold sparked my imagination and gave a feel for the period and setting. I was disappointed with its box office failure, which ended hopes of a sequel. In case you haven’t seen it, here’s the trailer.

Please take a moment to read the drabbles above and let me know if I’m on the right track for a story told in exactly 100 words. Better yet, share your own 100-word story in the comments.

Thank you!

3D Art by Ismael Tejero

Preview of The Starlight Chronicles, an epic, three-part fantasy novel

Selena Aires is fine with her nine-to-five life in the city, using her spare time to create art instead of making friends or finding love. Her mentor begins to insist she’s on the wrong path. 

When he dies, her grief and faith in his convictions prompts her to move to a small town in the lofty Sierra Nevada Mountains. But more is waiting for her in Quincy than the invigorating pine-scented air, endless trails, and the perfect artist bungalow. What Selena didn’t expect was an encounter with an astonishing man whose barely restrained power calls to something buried in her she had no idea was there.

The alpha of the North Star Pack thought he’d faced every challenge until he laid eyes on the new human in his territory, a beautiful artist with the heart of a warrior. Andras Johns knows instantly his life will never be the same.

The two of them must find a way to merge their opposing worlds while Selena grapples with her feelings for a man with a mystery beneath the surface and faces a destiny that’s expanded beyond her wildest imagination, a destiny fraught with peril in a world that just keeps getting stranger.

Prologue

Zigan – 1988 AD

It was a stormy night when I materialized in my mist on the second-floor landing of the small house that sat hunched within its aged timbers in the middle of blowing alfalfa fields. Thunder shook the floor beneath my feet as I surveyed the hallway. It was uncluttered with a colorful runner, the only object to break up the expanse of walls. It smelled like damp wood, and ozone was sharp in my nostrils from the persistent lightning strikes.

Other than the intermittent flashes, only the light of a half-moon penetrated, showing three doors to choose from. But I could sense the tiny human I was to bind my soul with for the rest of my life. 

Certain now the room at the end was the one to avoid, I moved quietly along the plank floor to stop at the first door, then paused at the threshold to savor the moment. For half the life allotted to me, I had trained with the Order of Hala preparing for this bonding and the challenges it would bring. The time had come to meet up again with the precious soul who’d returned to this world, choosing this infant in this remote county in northern California. 

I put my hand to the brass knob and turned it, relieved the door didn’t creak as it swung open to reveal two children sleeping despite the rolling thunder and lightning flashing close to the house, and the rain pounding against the panes of the only window. The pulsating light illuminated the large space containing the crib, a small bed, an open cabinet stuffed with toys, and a rocking chair in the corner. 

Electricity of my own vibrated over the pulse of my wrist as I drew near the crib, which drew the attention of the infant girl who woke as soon as I leaned over her. The heart-shaped face framed by a halo of dark hair watched me in silent fascination, her arms waving and legs wiggling in reaction to the magic that surrounded us. 

A faint moan had me inspecting the bed in the opposite corner where her four-year old brother dreamed, nestled beneath a Spiderman cover with his own mop of dark hair peeking out, oblivious to the magic and the storm. 

So, I did what I came to do. When I pressed my wrist to her minuscule left shoulder, an obscure image of a half-moon and my wind symbol tucked next to it formed on her delicate skin. Her brilliant eyes sparkled as she watched my smiling face, making no sound as our souls connected. “Grow well, my precious one, and we’ll meet again soon.”

She has been named Selena. I will reveal myself to her when she is grown and finds her mate, and our journey will begin. For now, I gathered my mist to take me far away.

Manuscript in the works…

At Least My Pod People Could be Immortal

So much of my focus and efforts go into creating my characters (aka my Pod People) and bringing them to life through the written word, that I lose sight of the fact that once they are out there, they might live in the world of mankind forever… or as long as mankind exists, and the digital content or printed copies stay intact and available… But I, as their creator, don’t even have the potential to last too many more decades, maybe not even too many more years… weeks, or days…? I’m at that age after all.

It makes me wonder if that is why I create them.

What do you think about that? Do you write stories so that a piece of yourself will always exist, so long as there are humans out there who might read them? I know we write for many reasons, but I think I will have to admit this is one of mine.

Artwork by Jay Carpenter

When I think about that idea more, it makes me realize my Pod People have the upper hand. I mistakingly believed it was me who had the power over them, but it’s the other way around. That’s okay, so long as they do their job and stick in the minds of my readers.

And they have their work cut out for them…

Artwork by Timi Honkanen

An End at Barfleur – A Short Story

This story is a single journal entry in Book One, Ursus Borealis, in The Starlight Chronicles series. I found it rather fun to write a story within a story within a story. It nestles in a chapter featuring Kuliana Hada, a character that appears throughout the series, who is an Anurashin Captain of the Guard. Cynthia is her ancestress.

Cynthia’s story is incorporated into an actual historical account about the White Ship that sailed in 1120 as described. Its sinking changed history.

An End at Barfleur

I am Cynthia, a marked maiden, a human born with a destiny entwined with a race from another world. I was trained to fight alongside my mate Aldric and his pack with the guidance of my magus Zigan Meshara of the Order of Hala against three rebellious princes who were banished from the planet Anurash.

This sounds impossible, I know. But you will just have to take my word. That is, if you are from the realms apart from this hidden place beneath a volcano, and this missive makes its way to you as I hope.

My life started on a farm in the county of Anjou. Then it changed forever when I met a bear from Normandy.

After immersing myself in the astonishing world of my mate and the kingdoms of the shifters, learning there was life beyond this Earth and before reaching the heavens took only a few extra pints to swallow it down. That, and meeting Zigan. It turns out Zigan and I are old souls and have done this dance before.

How my soul was chosen for this repeated Earth-bound destiny is a mystery, but my magus spent much time over wine in our chateau sharing what he knew of our history or rather, the history of the prophecy of the marked maidens.

As for Zigan, up till we met… in this time, he had spent his life training with the Order, which included studying the records in the extensive archives and all forms of alchemy, in addition to being honed into a warrior. Even more astonishing, he could transform into a stunning feline I learned was called a tiger.

For eight years I experienced what it was to be part of the Pack, to be soulmates with its alpha, to be one piece of a wondrous whole, and we were successful in our purpose, keeping the machinations of the princes from the human population, and mitigating the damages.

This is the part at the end of our story and writing it down is agony because it chronicles the event that halted our purpose violently, tore me from those I loved, and marked the beginning of my slow and lonely death. Still, it must be told.

It takes place starting mid-morning of the 25th day of the month of November in the year 1120. We arrived at Barfleur near the coast of Normandy, after confirming the location of the current scheme of Aviel Enair, the oldest and most formidable of the three sibling princes. We lacked the details, but we knew his scheme would involve the sailing vessel known as the White Ship, renowned for its speed and beauty, and now carrying the only legitimate heir to King Henry I across to England.

~~~

Frustration gripped me, and I wrapped my arm around myself, trying to catch my breath after having run the length of the docks. I called out to my mate behind me, “It is just as we feared, Aldric. The ship has almost reached the Quilleboeuf!”

There were three hundred souls sailing away as I spoke, other nobles as well as the heir, and the loss would be catastrophic to the burgeoning English monarchy. When we learned the king’s seventeen-year-old son, William Adelin, desired to sail on this elegant vessel while his father sailed ahead of him, and that Aviel had set his sights on it, we considered the hazards the Anurashin prince might exploit.

The ship had a good reputation and so did its captain, Thomas FitzStephen, whose father had taken the prince’s grandfather, William the Conqueror, across the same sea. The only evident risk was sailing past Gatteville, where hidden rocks like the Quilleboeuf lay waiting for careless sailors. But FitzStephen was surely used to navigating such hazards.

I breathed in the salty air to sharpen my mind while I considered our options. The raucous calls of seagulls ebbed overhead as they congregated, fought, then flew off with morsels of fish as their prize. Despite the size and piercing eyes of the warrior next to me, we stood unnoticed among the throng of bodies rushing towards their duties on the bustling docks.

“You must call Zigan, my love,” Aldric said, drawing me to his side and offering his warmth as I shivered from the urgency of our task and the breeze cooling the sweat of my exertion.

Though we were French, our purpose as part of this prophetic trio was to protect the balance of power fated for this world. When the princes interfered, it fared badly for the indigenous populations, according to Zigan’s archives.

That meant we trained to take risks, and we discovered this scheme by becoming captives of the princes while each enjoyed inflicting painful retribution on us for our past successes. But Aviel allowed his brothers’ torment to go only so far, which we’d learned to count on, though we didn’t understand it, and our plan included an escape.

It went perfectly, until we ran into a trap and had to leave our pack behind to fight, which also delayed our arrival, and a worry was taking hold in me that the last eight years of joy and strife might culminate on these docks. Still, I pushed on.

After placing the insides of my wrists together, my tiger appeared, first as an image on my skin, then as a man stepping out of a gray mist, calmly taking us in with fathomless dark eyes. His markings glowed bright gold against his bronzed arms, and his silky black hair waved in the breeze.

“We need to get aboard that ship, Zigan.” I pointed to the sails disappearing north along the coast to Gatteville. “Can you haze us there?”

“I can, but I may not have enough energy to get you back.”

Aldric said, “Let me go with him. If the ship were to sink and Zigan cannot return us both…” He let that thought trail off as he looked at me in that fierce way that melted my heart.

The powerful love I had for this man, this larger-than-life Norman-born warrior who shared the spirit of a mighty brown bear, still overwhelmed me after all these years. We had not taken one moment of our time for granted, knowing the dangers inherent in my destiny.

Clutching his hand, I said, “But I must be the one on that ship, Aldric. We have no idea what is planned, and we need my instincts as a marked maiden.”

“You will be noticed. I can blend in and discern the situation. We must go now, as they approach the rocks.”

I stood on my toes and brought his face to mine, peering into his brown eyes to see his bear gleaming at me, a magnificent beast he could transform into at will. Our lips came together for a precious moment before I stepped back.

Zigan gripped my mate, nodded to me reassuringly, then they disappeared. I took shelter and waited. In less than thirty minutes they were back.

Aldric and I stepped towards each other as he gave his report. “Nearly everyone on board was drunk on wine and betting on a race to beat the king to England. The ship sailed fast, pushing its limits. Not more than ten minutes after we arrived, it hit the rocks and foundered.” I gasped in dismay, but he assured me the king’s son made it to a lifeboat.

Suddenly, warriors in the garb of another time appeared in a heavy mist that seemed to have blown in from the sea. They surrounded us. Zigan and Aldric drew their swords, and I followed with mine.

The sound of steel rang out, and we held our own against a dozen, until my sword was knocked from my hand. Strong arms grabbed me from behind. Aldric’s roar shook the planks beneath our feet. But the Anurashin warrior held me fast and kept me from my mate’s reach, letting the others leap in between us, forcing Aldric to slice his way to me.

The warrior said in my ear, “The prince has his sights on you, maiden. Did you not think he would find you?”

“He may have found me, but he’ll not have me!”

Springing my knife from my sleeve, I lunged back, shoving it between his ribs, and twisting it. The warrior grunted in pain, but his grip did not loosen. Aldric dodged blades, slammed his fist into faces, and rammed bodies, while I tried to pull free.

Zigan moved so fast arcs of blood hovered in the air where he last appeared. But when he hazed close and tried to grab me away, the warrior jerked us back and two others lunged for him. To my utter horror, they took his head.

My knees gave out as unbearable agony ripped through my heart, then my entire being, when his soul was wrenched brutally from mine. This couldn’t be real. Never had I imagined our bond could be so viciously severed, or that the warrior magus was anything but invincible.

A sickening realization plummeted like a stone in my belly. This was Aviel’s plan. Why he let us escape before. These moves had been orchestrated for this purpose. To kill my magus. To take me. To destroy the Pack de Normande.

What was left of my heart was crushed to pulp when Aldric stepped into the path of a blade not bothering with the pain, to reach for me, desperate to save me as he felt the agony of my loss, and our loss to come.

The mist I dreaded grew thick, and I sensed I was breaking into tiny pieces. This couldn’t be happening.

I locked gazes with the bleak eyes of my mate who was coming to the same conclusions as I faded into bits, so close to him our fingers nearly touched.

My heart and soul poured into my words. “I will love you forever!”

The sound that followed was the mighty roar of a wounded bear.

Isa Loves my Pod People…

Sam and Priss are super loveable Pod People… more stories for them in the works. Don’t you love Isa’s fairy wings?!! Find it on Amazon with bonus …

Isa Loves my Pod People…

Isa Loves my Pod People…

Sam and Priss are super loveable Pod People… more stories for them in the works. Don’t you love Isa’s fairy wings?!!

Find it on Amazon with bonus content, works in progress and a couple of my favorite short stories, with awesome book covers. Hey, the tiniest stories warrant covers as much as their big cousins.

This includes Isa’s lovely review…

More Pod People Seeded in my Brain by Aliens – Being Taken Over is Exciting!

So long as they’re giving me something and not taking… Hmmm. Or are they? Well, what I don’t know won’t hurt me.

Meanwhile, characters, aka my Pod People, are bursting out of me and burgeoning all over the pages, and I now have two amazing Works in Progress, which I’m having a hard time putting down and seem to want to work on simultaneously. Anyone else getting some great new ideas for stories this summer? Let me know in the comments. Meanwhile, enjoy some quirky and intriguing alien artwork by William Louis McDonald

Art by William Louis McDonald

Bursting! Or Consuming?…

Just too many cool things going on here…

100-Word Story Challenge. My foray into horror – A minor Starlight Chronicles Vampire character, my inspiration…

Enjoy a Three-Part Supernatural Horror Story – Exactly 100 Words Each

One: Brother’s Maker

Thick rivulets of blood moved down the wall like snakes slithering into Hell. Lucius thought going there himself would be better than mucking out this foul slaughter. Hiding his brother’s crimes from Prince Remus. Death by fire, their punishment if caught.

Linus, too far gone to understand the danger, had killed another valuable hunter. Lucius labored to obliterate the evidence while Linus crouched over an arm sucking out the blood and marrow like a human sucking meat from a crab leg.

Lucius had turned his brother. Watching him deteriorate was penance. Figuring out how to stop it, his only purpose.

Two: Brother’s Keeper

Lucius stared in frustration at the naked female, then grabbed newspaper from the alley trash to cover her. Copious blood soaked through, turning it to pulp. He added more paper. Didn’t help. Blood spouted like a fountain from her torn jugular. He yanked his brother, who’d pounced on her again, away from her neck.

“You couldn’t have gone one more block?” Linus whipped towards him. Lucius stifled a gasp. The nerdy, giraffe-legged brother was there. Then the eyes turned soulless, reflecting the red pooling beneath their feet, and Linus’s stark hunger. Pain stabbed Lucius where his heart once beat.

Three: Brother’s Killer

Lucius cradled Linus’s head in his lap. Just his head… which Lucius had to remove. He stared at the rectangular hole holding his brother’s body, then forced his gaze away to take in the fateful surroundings. The graveyard was damp. Dew glistened on the grass. Dripped from cypress trees and giant yews. None of it made this real. They’d been vampires for five decades, inseparable. But Linus’s self-control had deserted him. He broke too many council laws.

“You never believed you could be ended, brother. Didn’t you once think it would be me who would have to do the ending?”

Had to add this. I love making book covers, even for tiny fiction.

First drafts rejected. But I Keep Trying.

I was happy with my first attempt to do a 100-word story. The publisher, not so much. But that’s okay because I learned a lot in the process. These bits about vampire brothers were inspired by a minor character in my Starlight Chronicles series. I admit, pure horror is a challenge for me, though I love reading and watching it, the darker the better. I read Bram Stoker in my youth, along with Mary Shelly, which means those sweeping, tantalizing, horrific impressions are there, deep down, and now that I’m writing fantasy, I’m compelled to draw from their brilliance.

Vlad the Impaler has been an endlessly fascinating figure in history and fiction for me, no matter how many ways his story has been told. And today’s supernatural fantasy authors are finding entertaining ways to retell the tales. Many of them inspired me.

Luke Evans portrayed an excellent fictional Vlad. Dracula Untold sparked my imagination and gave a feel for the period and setting. I was disappointed with its box office failure, which ended hopes of a sequel. In case you haven’t seen it, here’s the trailer.

Please take a moment to read the drabbles above and let me know if I’m on the right track for a story told in exactly 100 words. Better yet, share your own 100-word story in the comments.

Thank you!

3D Art by Ismael Tejero