Mega NaNoWriMo Day and HItting 100

creativejuices
This is what’s been flowing through my house the last couple of days, and I hope it sticks around…

It’s been another long day of writing, and I am here to tell you that I can’t make a habit of this. Yes, I’m loving that I am capable of cranking out the word count when necessary, but I don’t think my back can take many more consecutive days of this. Fortunately, tomorrow should be an easy day as I persevered today and racked up even more words than Sunday.

To top it all off, WordPress officially let me know that I now have over 100 followers, and I couldn’t have hit that milestone without this thing called NaNoWriMo. So thanks to all my fellow Wrimos and all my followers – I’m thrilled you’re interested in what goes on in my little corner of the ‘Verse! As a treat, I’m going to include an excerpt for you from the last scene I wrote today instead of the usual insights. I hope you like it!

Today’s Word Count: 5,867 – that’s over 11,000 words in TWO DAYS (falls over in a heap of exhaustion)

Word Count to Date: 38,765 – 11,235 to go.

Writing Time Today: all day, in two sessions

Current Feeling: Pooped.

Motivation/Inspiration: Seeing how much I could get done today so that whatever I did tomorrow would be gravy (and no, that wasn’t intended to be a holiday pun; that was a happy accident).

Biggest Triumph: Writing three complete scenes in one day, after taking the morning off for my almost-forgotten dentist appointment, a trip to the grocery store to pick up the things I needed for my contribution to Thanksgiving dinner, and cleaning out the fridge, the pantry and almost everything else in the kitchen.

Biggest Setback: Forgetting something at the grocery store that I will need before the week is out. This is why I like my lists, no forgetsies.

Excerpt:

Reese looked out at the men and women before him, and was reminded of himself at that age, kneeling before a knight not much different from himself. He’d recited these same words to that knight as he’d joined the ranks of the second circle of the most famous chivalric order in history that to this day the world believed to be fictitious while he knew himself to be its last surviving member. Making eye contact with every young soul before him, he began.

“As a Knight of the Round Table, be ye one of the twelve of the first order–Arthur, Bedivere, Bors the Younger, Galahad, Gareth, Gawain, Kay, Lancelot, Lucan, Percival, Tristan and Yvain–or be ye one of the twelve of each of the eleven lower orders, you now represent the highest order of chivalry in Camelot. This oath you shall swear as your Code of honor and service to your King:

“Never shall I do outrage or murder;

“Always shall I flee treason;

“Never shall I by any means be cruel, but rather give mercy unto him who asks for my mercy, even in the midst of combat;

“Always shall I do ladies, gentlewomen and widows succor;

“Never shall I force ladies, gentlewomen or widows; and

“Never shall I take up battles in wrongful quarrels for love or worldly goods; rather always shall I battle for nothing less than God or country.”

As he finished, his words echoed through the silent studio, and he felt them resonate through his entire being. It had been fourteen hundred and eighty four years since he himself had sworn that oath, and fourteen hundred and seventy seven since he’d broken one of them in the midst of the chaos of war. In his mind’s eye, he could still see how Tegan had looked as she’d lain there before him, broken and lifeless, her blood dripping from his sword to the muddy battlefield beneath his feet. Her fatal wounds had not been inflicted with malice, but rather through recklessness and inattention, not that the reasons mattered any more now than they did then. She was still dead, he was still cursed, and Morgan le Fay was still and would always be a vindictive bitch…

Until tomorrow, my fellow Wrimos. If you’re behind, don’t give up but keep on writing. You won’t know what you’re capable of if you don’t.

Writer’s Blocks Story Weekend

It’s the end of July, and Meagan and I were scheduled to meet for our monthly writing session. We chose a new place to eat on Sunday, and surprise, it was a order and go sit kind of place instead of a restaurant with actual waitstaff. As a result, we had a lot more time to kill than usual before we could head off to the library.

Did we sit and chat about our lives while eating copious amounts of yummy queso? Of course.

Did I show off my writer charm bracelet that I’d made and had worn for inspiration, and smile when it tinkled? Yep.

Did I dig into my laptop tote that I brought inside with me because I didn’t want my chocolate covered raisins to melt into a big blob of ickiness while sitting inside my trunk in the Texas summer heat to find that tiny little pouch containing my writer’s blocks? You betcha.

writersblocks0727We spent the next half hour or so rolling those little dice onto the tile tabletop of our booth and seeing how they landed. We laughed at some options, and I groaned each time ‘horror’ popped up. I started handing Meagan the die that rolled an option I didn’t like for her to do the re-roll, and she the same. By the time we left, I had seven options to choose from and she five.

We arrived at the library, settled in, and the deliberation began. Which option do we choose? Meagan did a coin toss to pick between her two favorites. Me, I just picked one that sounded interesting.  Here’s what I selected, with the further explanation provided by the little insert that came with the set (click the image to see it full size):

  1. Hero — Non-human
  2. Genre — Fantasy
  3. Plot — Revenge — hero means to take vengeance on some other characters
  4. Plot Twist — Betray — major character unexpectedly dies

This then prompted a discussion as to what constituted a non-human. I made the argument that alien non-humans fell more into the scifi category, and supernatural creatures such as vampires and werewolves would be non-humans in a fantasy world. She gave me an “uh huh” and ignored me to work on her own story.

Having just had a SyFy Channel “Bitten” binge watching session not that long ago, I knew just the werewolf that I wanted in my head when writing, although I didn’t use his character but my own. I wrote this one directly into Scrivener versus long hand, too. It didn’t write itself very fast, but it’s a good beginning of something. So here it is, coming in at 2,748 words and edited a little for content. Let me know what you think. Oh, and it’s been added as its own story page, so you’ll always know where to go and find it when you want to re-read it later. :)

Read the story: A Brother’s Betrayal

Artemis’ Rescue: A Flash Fiction Challenge

Hello everyone! I’m writing to you today from the morning of Day Five of my much-needed staycation. I’ve been getting a lot accomplished (like cleaning my house, getting donations that have been sitting around for months out of said clean house, and taking a fun day to go shopping and out to lunch with Mom), and those accomplishments also include writing my self-assigned flash fiction challenge of last week. If you missed the earlier post on this, you can read it here but I’ll also remind you below.

“Take all the items listed in the [@YouAreCarrying] response tweet (your ‘inventory’) and use them all — in some way, oblique, abstract or overt — in a flash fiction.

My inventory, for those of you who will be reading carefully to make sure all are present and accounted for, is: an arrow, a teapot decorated with sad bats, a brass token, a cake frosted with blue letters, and a wooden life ring.

This turned out to be another great exercise for me. This time, I also completed the challenge on time and added to the original Terrible Minds post, which means more people might read my story. That in itself is pretty darn nifty.

I also completely changed what I thought would be the setting for the story. At first I was thinking something witchy, what with a teapot with bats on it being part of my inventory, but when I sat down to start writing, Artemis popped in my head. Now, this is no surprise, considering a) my first inventory item of an arrow, b) the fact that I’ve always had a thing for Greek mythology, and c) my name itself is derived from Nike, goddess of victory. Even though I had no idea how I would work a wooden life ring (aka life preserver) into the story, I went with it and where the story took me.

So here’s my story of what happens when a modern-day goddess of the hunt comes across a shipwrecked man on her way to visit her friend, the modern-day goddess of wisdom. It is also posted as its own page under the “About Nik’s Stories” menu above for future reading.

Artemis’ Rescue

Artemis stepped outside and shut the door to her cabin, making sure she heard the latch drop into place. She didn’t know why her brother insisted she have a lock on her door. She’d done fine for millenia without locks, especially when the animals in the forest kept watch. Leave it to Apollo to go all big brother on her and install the blasted thing anyway, even though she’d been the twin born first.

She whistled softly, smiling when she heard the sounds of her dogs and Aeolus thrust his head into her hand. She scratched the brown spotted hound’s ears, then crouched down to greet the others: Delos and Damian with their black-and-white coats, and her three lovelies Hector, Helios and Theron, whose reddish coats shone in the moonlight. Since the day she’d received them from Pan, she’d never been without them.

“Well, my hounds, shall we go?”

All six responded with short barks, so she sent them down the path ahead of her. It wasn’t long before one returned to her side, agitated.

“What is it, my boy?”

Theron whimpered at her, then went still as did the rest of the forest around her. In seconds, her five remaining hounds appeared beside her, their attention trained somewhere over the next rise.

Artemis, goddess of the hunt (photo source: Pinterest)
Artemis, goddess of the hunt (photo source: Pinterest)

She reached into her pack and pulled out her favorite compound bow, thumbing the switch that triggered its transformation to full size. She drew an arrow from the quiver on her back, settling it into place as she slowly climbed She whispered to her dogs, “Quickly but quietly,” and they slipped away to take up their usual hunting positions around her. It took her a few strides to crest the top of the small hill, and a moment later she sheathed her arrow and collapsed and stowed her bow as she ran down to the edge of the water where the man lay half submerged.

Chunks of wreckage surrounded the survivor, who was lying on a large section of deck planking. She could see in the distance the remains of his ship, with its broken mast spearing out of the waves crookedly and the rear section of the stern barely visible above the choppy waters. A wooden life ring’s cord had twisted itself around his ankle, and floated behind him. A satchel was strapped across his chest and caught beneath him, and she would bet that he’d broken everything within it.

Kneeling at his side, she realized how large he was. Upright, he had to be at least seven feet tall, and through his tattered clothing she saw nothing but tanned muscle. She brushed his thick dark hair away from his face, her hand coming away bloody from a nasty gash just beneath his hairline. Wasting no time, she tore a strip of linen off her tunic and began bandaging his wound even as she reached out for her friend’s mind.

Athena, are you there?

Artemis! Where on Earth are you? Even through their telepathy, Artemis could hear the war goddess’ concern. We expected you an hour ago. I was about to send Callisto to look for you.

Do you still have that wagon that you haul weapons around in?

Yes. Why?

Bring it and the girls with you when you come. I’ll explain when you get here. I need your help as fast as you can manage. I’m sending Aeolus to you. He’ll lead you back along the coast about two miles west of your house. It looks like that storm we had last night did a little more than scare your owls and my deer. It took down a big passenger ship, and I don’t think I can move on my own the very large, very muscular man lying at my feet with a head wound that’s bleeding a little more profusely than I’d like. He may be its only survivor.

We’ll be there soon, came back Athena’s crisp response.

She knew she could count on the goddess of war to be calm in a crisis. Giving Aeolus the command to go to Athena, she motioned for the rest of her hounds to stand down. They settled into the sand an arm’s length away to her left, heads resting on paws but keeping both of them within view. A pained groan snapped her attention back to the man before her. Placing a hand on his shoulder in an attempt to keep him from moving, the warmth of his skin had her wondering.

“Try not to move,” she suggested softly. “I don’t know what injuries you might have gotten from being tossed about in the storm, and we don’t want to make them worse.”

He merely grunted at her. Her hand slipped from his shoulder as he shifted, uncurling his fingers from their grip on the wood, sliding both of his hands back until they were palms down and even with his massive shoulders. He managed to push himself off the planks, every muscle in his arms and shoulders quivering with the effort. As she watched him get his feet underneath him so that he could move himself off his life raft and onto the beach, she couldn’t help but admire his strength. She considered contacting Athena and telling her they weren’t needed, but by the awkward way he collapsed into a half-sitting, half-leaning position, she decided to have her check him over for injuries.

He raked his hair back and off his forehead, out of his eyes, he winced when he aggravated his head wound. Fingering the bandage, he glanced over at her. “Hello, Artemis.”

His knowing her name didn’t surprise her. It did, however, confirm her earlier hunch that he might be a demigod. She would eventually figure out which one of his parents was of the Olympian pantheon, as she was.

“Hello to you.”

He chuckled as he freed himself from the life ring’s rope. “I forget we’ve never officially been introduced as I’ve wanted to meet you for years. You know my father, Poseidon.”

Her memories clicked into place. She now placed where she’d seen eyes that same color, and that charming smile. “Ah, yes. You would be Orion.”

When he shifted as if to stand, she motioned for him to stay put. “You need to rest; my friends will be here shortly with a wagon and we’ll get you patched up.”

“I’m not going to argue with you. My left side aches something terrible.” He drew the strap of his bag over his head and grimaced when he heard the tinkling of shattered pottery. “Oh, Mother’s not going to be happy about this.” He loosened the buckle and carefully slipped a hand inside, drawing it back out again. In his palm lay large bits of white painted ceramic, including one that stared back at her with oddly sad eyes. “She has this quirky collection of teapots that Hecate throws and decorates for her. Never seen one with bats on it before, let alone with such unhappy expressions. Think she’ll forgive me if I tell her it broke when I landed on it trying to survive a near-hurricane?”

Artemis smiled. “Perhaps. I’ve found mothers are often much more forgiving toward their only sons. My brother is a perfect example.”

Further conversation was halted momentarily by the arrival of Aeolus, who skidded to a stop at Artemis’ side, his entire body vibrating in his happiness to be reunited with his mistress. She thanked him with a hug, a quick body rub and a kiss, and his enthusiastic bark caused Orion to laugh.

“Oh, I really shouldn’t have laughed. I think Mother’s teapot cracked a couple of ribs.”

“We’ll soon find out. Here come my friends.” She pointed up the beach. Athena was up in the driver’s seat, with Artemis’ two companions holding on for dear life in the bed of the wagon. Apparently, the goddess of war drove at breakneck speed no matter the cargo she carried. The passengers hopped out before the goddess had reigned in the horses to a complete stop, and stumbled a little in the sand. Jogging the few extra feet to where she sat, Callisto stood as if on guard and glared at Orion, while Atalanta merely nodded to him in greeting.

“Who have we here?’ greeted Athena as she joined the group, “and what did you do to make the god of the sea so mad that he had it make a meal out of your ship and spit you back out again like a bad clam?”

Orion shrugged. “I don’t think it was about me personally. Right before we capsized I thought I heard him bellow something, Odysseus perhaps? In any case, I doubt it would have mattered overmuch had he known I was on board. Father’s not exactly lacking for offspring, so losing one son of many to the depths wouldn’t matter to anyone but my mother.” He then met Athena’s gaze. “Considering your history with Poseidon, I would understand if you’d rather not get involved.”

“Oh, our relationship’s not that bad anymore,” the war goddess argued, then eyed him directly. “But if you ever make me mad, I’ll do worse than drown you at sea.” Athena wiggled her fingers at him, and the many legends of those who had crossed her flashed through his mind. He held up a hand in reassurance, and the goddess grinned.

The four of them managed to get him upright and over to the bed of the wagon, where Athena performed a cursory field inspection. The cut on his head was no longer bleeding, and when she gently probed the huge bruise covering the majority of the left side of Orion’s torso, she reported that he did indeed have a couple of cracked ribs but they seemed to be healing.

“I think you inherited some of your father’s affinity for water,” Athena said as she stepped back, securing her first aid kit back in its space in the wagon. “I believe in another couple of hours, you’ll be fully healed.”

He carefully slid off the back of the wagon, and other than a hand pressed to his side, he showed no signs of being in pain. “I guess sometimes it’s not a bad thing to be a demigod. Thank you for your assistance, ladies, but I should be on my way. Artemis’ hounds have reminded me I have one of my own waiting for me at home.” He walked a few steps, then stopped to rummage through his satchel. Calling out her name, he pitched a small coin in Artemis’ direction.

Catching it in mid-air, she inspected the object. It was filthy despite Orion’s impromptu swim, so she knelt at the water’s edge and cleaned it off. At first she thought he’d tossed her a drachma, one of the ancient coins they’d used for currency. What he’d in fact given her was a brass token belonging to an amusement park she’d heard of years ago that claimed to include a decent archery range. He’d tossed it to her knowing she’d be unable to resist the invitation, and she smiled.

“Come on, Artemis!” Callisto ran and grabbed her free hand. “You have to see the dessert Athena got for us. It’s one of those big yummy vanilla sheet cakes, and she had them write ‘Girls Night’ on it in bright blue letters, and in Greek no less!”

Whistling for her dogs, Artemis slipped Orion’s token into her pocket and let her be pulled along as she listened to her companion chatter on. Glancing back toward the forest as she climbed into the wagon, she was oddly pleased to discover he stood waiting at the edge of the trees. Curious, she reached out with her mind and discovered he’d inherited one additional ability from his father as she connected with him telepathically.

Well? he asked, his deep voice oddly intimate as it resonated in her mind.

You’re on, she answered, looking forward to the challenge.

Author’s Note: no Greek gods, goddesses, heroines or constellations were harmed in the writing of this tale. A few myths and legends may have been slightly bent, however.

Now, anyone see where I put my Percy Jackson Blu-rays…?

Cease and Desist: A Flash Fiction Challenge

It’s a couple of days late, but here’s the result of my flash fiction challenge that M issued last week. In case you missed the earlier post on this, you can read it here but I’ll also make it easier by reminding you below.

“You will pick two [subgenres] from the list…then you will write a short story that mashes up those two subgenres.

It was a good exercise for me in many ways. First, I’m writing! That’s always a good thing. Second, it was good for me to start and end a story in 2,000 words, because it showed me I could actually finish a story, not just a scene like I had with the writer’s blocks.As I mentioned in my Meet My Character Blog Tour post, once I got the bare bones of this story down on paper and knew who my superhero heronie was, it turns out the story came together pretty quickly. I spent a few hours on Saturday writing 75% of the story, and the rest on Sunday with M at our monthly writing session. I also have to thank the Syfy Channel’s 2007 mini-series “Tin Man” and the character of Azkadellia for inspiring the way that Skylar reveals her wings.

So, there may yet be hope that I’ll finish either “GBE” (that’s my chick lit “Great Boyfriend Experiment” novel in progress for those of you new to the blog that’s 85% done and really, really long) or “Shifters” (my paranormal/fantasy novel that I started during NaNoWriMo 2013) in the near future.

For now, I’ll settle for presenting to you Skylar’s story.

Cease and Desist

Skylar pushed through the revolving door of her office building and emerged into the humid afternoon rolling her shoulders, trying to relieve some of the stress from her day’s work as a courier. She’d been busy since she’d arrived that morning, from the first assignment a few blocks over in the city to the last that had taken her two territories over. Her shoulders ached, but that was no surprise, considering the flight time she’d clocked that day. Glancing up at the Corporate cameras on every corner of every block aimed in every direction, she weighed calling out her wings to relieve some of the aches against how long it might take the Central Database to register she wasn’t on the clock and report her.She settled for pulling out her cell phone and making an appointment for a massage.

Sighing, Skylar headed for home with her her hands shoved into the pockets of her short jacket so the cameras wouldn’t pick up on her frustration. She could have tolerated the constant surveillance and the Corporation controlling all aspects of her life if she at least liked her job. There weren’t that many options for her kind, although she’d never wished to be anything other than what she was, even if it meant being stuck for life in a job she hated. Still, she didn’t want anything to affect her standing in the SARC waiting list.

That’s what she really wanted to do, like her uncle had done before her. He’d told her stories of his adventures with the Search and Rescue Corps until the day he’d been caught in an explosion and lost the use of his wings. She’d interned with SARC all through college, hoping she’d get a placement on graduation. Unfortunately, no positions had been available and she’d been stuck looking elsewhere.

click to view full size
Skylar, heroine of “Cease and Desist” (photo source: Pinterest)

Skylar knew it could be worse. She could be in a job that didn’t allow her to use her wings at all, forced to keep them hidden except for that single hour a day alloted for exercise to keep the muscles from atrophying. Her mother had freaked out when she’d hit puberty and the grayscale tattoos had appeared on her shoulders, shoulder blades, upper arms and ribs, indicating she’d inherited her father’s power of flight. Skylar had been thrilled and had reveled in the freedom to use them whenever she wanted. Even when she’d come of age at twenty-one and received her implant, she hadn’t minded her appointment as a courier because it meant she’d get to fly every day.

Ten years later, it was a different story.

She turned the corner toward home when the streets behind her suddenly erupted in shouting and screaming. Spinning around, she caught sight of a large group of fliers heading for the city in tight formation. She watched as they reached downtown, paused long enough to make one big circuit in the air, then gained a few hundred feet in altitude before flying hard and fast downward.

It wasn’t until she saw them tuck in their wings that she knew their intent. Even as she thought it, the dozen men and women in the sky broke apart and aimed for the small cluster of six buildings that comprised Corporation headquarters. She flinched as she watched them intentionally crash through windows, targeting four separate floors in each of three main buildings. Glass rained down on the citizens below, most being able to duck under awnings or into doorways to avoid the shards.

Suddenly, the air went still and the sounds of the street went quiet, as if the city itself were holding its breath in anticipation.

A second later, all three damaged buildings exploded from the inside out, cascading chunks of concrete and steel into the neighboring buildings and onto the streets and people below.

Skylar shoved her way through the crowd running away from the buildings now billowing thick black smoke and engulfed in flames, trying to make her way closer to the scene of the attack. She could hear the sirens that heralded the coming of the nearest SARC team off in the distance, but they were a lot farther away than they needed to be in order to be of any significant help. Based on where the bombers had chosen to target each of the buildings, she knew it was only a matter of time before one or all three of them began collapsing.

Suddenly she felt the unmistakable downdrafts of a winged flier and looked up. Two airborne members of the elite SARC team had arrived, and they hovered in the air, assessing the situation. They shouted for everyone to get back, to go home, to get inside, but Skylar didn’t want to be anywhere else.

Here were her uncle’s stories unfolding before her in real life, in real time, in all of its horrible glory. She could easily see her uncle hovering aloft in a blue and gold uniform calming everyone down with firm but gentle authority, creating order out of chaos, and helping anyone who needed him.

Her appointment forgotten, Skylar smiled and stepped back until she was mostly hidden in the doorway of a nearby shop to watch. The roaring of the fire didn’t bother her, nor did the ash that was beginning to fall from the burning buildings, or the chaos caused by frightened citizens. This was what she wanted, not schlepping papers or currency or this bit of whatever from city to city for whoever could pay for the privilege. This was what she was meant to do with her life, she was sure of it.

It took a moment for her to realize something wasn’t right. Without the rest of their SARC team, the fliers weren’t able to do anything about the raging fires so they still burned out of control. Without their equipment or support personnel, they were only able to rescue or assist a limited number of people in the air or on the ground, and she could see their frustration in the way they flew.

She heard shouting and saw quite a few curious people had come out into the streets, thinking the worst was over. The fliers were urgently ordering them back inside and off the streets before putting on a sudden burst of power and rocketing up higher in the sky.

Seconds later, she understood why.

They’d seen from their higher vantage point what was coming next and were getting out of the way so they’d be around to help. Loud cracking and popping preceded ominous rumbling that shook the ground Skylar stood on as each of the four damaged floors in the first building imploded and it began to collapse. Skylar gripped the edge of the doorway and buried her head in her shoulder to muffle her crying as she imagined all of the people who were trapped within that two hundred story building as it fell, unable to do anything but die.

Her head snapped up as she heard horrified screaming, and Skylar barely contained her own scream as she saw that workers within the buildings had started breaking windows and leaping out into thin air rather than being caught and crushed as the building went down.

The SARC fliers reacted immediately. They literally swooped in and snatched people out of mid-air, but they were too few and the jumpers were too many. For every four people they caught and rescued, twice that many plummeted to the ground. Only a few were lucky and managed to land on a succession of awnings or trees that slowed their descent enough to keep them alive, but most ended up broken and bloodied on the pavement.

When she heard the popping and booming starting again, Skylar turned away, not wanting to watch the second building and its tenants fall to their doom. It was then she heard her uncle’s voice in her head, saw him centered in the midst of an emergency helping anyone that needed him even after he’d been grounded. She knew then what she wanted to, could do. Yet she also knew the price she would have to pay.

If it meant she saved just one life, it would be worth it.

Shoving out of her hiding place, Skylar headed for the chaos, shedding her jacket as she ran. Her tattoos shimmered on the bare skin revealed by the halter top she always wore as she twisted up her hair and secured it with the tie that was ever-present around her wrist. One of the fliers saw her as he deposited a man and a woman on a fire escape, and hollered at her to get back and out of the way. Rather than replying, she stopped abruptly in the middle of the street and called forth her wings.

Closing her eyes, she took a deep breath. As her arms lifted, she willed her wings to emerge from her tattoos. She heard gasps from those around her as the stylized wings seemed to lift from her skin, growing and unfolding in an impressive display. The glossy dark gray and black feathers caught small slivers of sunlight that made it through the floating ash as she stretched them to their full ten-foot wingspan.

Wasting no time, she vaulted into the air.

She pumped her wings hard and reached the same altitude as the other fliers, communicating with the hand signals she’d learned during her internship. Relief flashed briefly across their faces as they welcomed the help before they directed her beneath them. Ripping the nearest canvas awning off the building, she held one end and threw the other out, and each of the fliers caught hold, creating a makeshift sling that could carry multiple people to safety.

Just as they dropped off their first load onto a nearby fire escape out of danger, a sharp burst of pain skittered up the full length of her spine to her brain. Her unsanctioned activity had been transmitted to the Central Corporate Database through her implant and logged, and the noncompliance command had been triggered. Simultaneously, the Corporate warning all citizens feared echoed through her mind.

Citizen. You are acting outside of contract parameters and are hereby ordered to cease and desist. Comply immediately for summary judgment or endure summary execution.

Without hesitation, Skylar made her choice and remained aloft with the other fliers. But with every minute that passed, the pain coursing through her body from her implant intensified, and it began to affect her ability to fly. She waved off the concerned looks of the SARC team and kept going until she couldn’t hold back her cries.

“You’re not SARC, are you?” the nearest flier guessed.

Skylar ignored him.

The rest of the SARC team arrived just in time as the third building collapsed and the pain became too much for her. Skylar struggled to stay aloft and barely kept her side of the sling in the air until the six men and women within leapt to safety. Her grip slipped, then her left wing faltered, and abruptly she plummeted. The closest SARC flier released the tarp and dove after her, barely catching her in time to settle her gently on the street.

Holding her against him, his wings momentarily hiding them from view, he asked, “Why would you sacrifice yourself rather than comply?”

Fighting the pain, she managed to whisper, “Because for me, there was no other choice.” With a sharp, piercing scream, Skylar convulsed as her implant transmitted its final fatal pulse.

As she went limp in his arms, the young flier lowered his head to rest it against hers. He jolted as someone touched his shoulder, and he looked up to see the last six people she had saved standing in a circle around them.

“We’ll take care of her,” one of the women said. “Go do what you can. She won’t be forgotten.”

He nodded once to each of them, then launched himself into the air.

Author’s Note: You know it’s good when it makes both you and your best friend emotional at the end of the story. So thanks, Meagan, for challenging me to write my first ever finished short story. Go me!

Sidelined Deadline

boredgirlYes, yes, I know. This post is supposed to be Skylar’s short story that was due today from the flash fiction challenge M threw my way last week. I had every intention of getting it done ahead of time, really. I even started writing it on Wednesday. But as usually happens with me, I got distracted by my other obsessions… er, interests.

Making Magic decks.

My absolutely fabulous and cray-cray choir.

The book “The Fifty Seven Lives of Alex Wayfare” that my other friend MG wrote that’s been sitting on my end table whispering, “Read me! Read me!”

Pinning items to my pottery and Supernatural boards on Pinterest.

You get the idea.

Fortunately, M and I have plans to write this Sunday and not only are we going to finish our flash fiction challenges, we’re going to do our Writer’s Block homework as well. Come Sunday evening, I’ll have two, count ’em TWO topics for posting and your reading pleasure.

Sometimes a sidelined deadline isn’t such a bad thing after all.

Writer’s Blocks Scene 4

AM_ROM_DTH_ESC1Hello once again, blogosphere! It is finally time to post the last of the scenes written with my Writer’s Blocks (for more on this, see the related “Writer’s Blocks” posts under “Past Musings”). Unlike the previous rolls, which were relaxing and had no time limit per se, this one came about because M and I had been at it for hours and were about to pack up for the day. That’s when she challenged me to do another roll. I stared at her, as there was barely a half-hour left on the clock before we’d be kicked back out into the Texas heat once the library shut its doors. Then I said, “Why not?” and we threw the dice. Here’s how they settled, with the further explanation provided by the little insert that came with the set (click the image above to see it full size):

  1. Hero — Male adult
  2. Genre — Romance
  3. Plot — Escape — hero must get away from an enemy, a place or an internal conflict
  4. Plot Twist — Death — major character unexpectedly dies

It’s going to come as no surprise that two of my apparently favorite elements returned, but this time throwing me a loop with a male lead in a romance. For a “lightning round,” it would be quite interesting. I’m just glad I didn’t get something much more difficult like horror genre and quest plot or some other equally hard combination. As before, included below are the actual notebook pages; click on a page to bring up the full size version.

AM_ROM_DTH_ESC2 AM_ROM_DTH_ESC3

For the time constraints, I’m surprised there’s even fewer marked out sections. Then again, perhaps it’s because of the time limit I just wrote and didn’t rethink it too much.  So I present to you the final transposed scene. It’s going to be a bit cheesy, and anything in [brackets] is edited for content due to the subject matter. You can probably guess what I edited out to make this PG-13.

Scene 4

John dragged Anna into the darkened hotel room, giving her one last kiss before tossing her on the bed. She smiled up at him and beckoned, and he didn’t waste any time. Stripping fast, he watched as she did the same, and pounced as soon as she revealed all that smooth white skin. She felt as good as she looked and while he would have preferred taking things slow, they were on borrowed time. It sucked to be on the run, but when a cop set you up, they set you up good. She pulled him back to the present with a hand on his [hip], and he kissed her hard. Taking the hint, he stroked a hand down her long body and they both groaned when he [joined] her. Moving fast, it didn’t take long for them to crest together. He managed to roll sideways before collapsing, and smiled when he felt her snuggle against him. He drifted in and out of sleep the next couple of hours until he finally gave up. Easing out from Anna’s embrace, John headed for the shower. Turning it on hard and hot, he stepped inside and drenched his head, hoping the water would wash away some of the cobwebs and he could think of their next move.

The banging on the bathroom door shocked the crap out of him and he heard Anna yelling that she thought she heard sirens. Not thinking Edwards would be that dumb but not wanting to risk it, he shut off the water, dried off and threw open the door. Anna was nearly dressed and he was damned glad all he had was jeans, shirt and boots. Dressing nearly as fast as they’d undressed earlier, he held out a hand and squeezed hers once. She squeezed back, then picked up the .45 that had been kicked under the bed and handed it to him. She kept the Smith & Wesson for herself.

God, he loved a woman who knew her way around guns.

They bolted out of the room and sure enough there were sirens too damned close. They made it down the stairs but had to abandon the car as the cruiser screamed into the parking lot. John dragged Anna into the hall that led to the back of the hotel, and dove for cover as bullets erupted around them.

Apparently, Edwards had drafted the local sheriff to flush them out.

Reaching out for Anna, he panicked when he didn’t find her beside him. Spinning around, he saw her lying just five feet away. She’d caught one of the stray bullets in her stomach, and was bleeding badly. He started toward her, but she shook her head. John refused when she told him to go, then smiled when he saw she still held her gun. Telling her goodbye was one of the hardest things he’d done, but they both knew she wasn’t going to make it and he wasn’t going to waste the chance she’d given him.

He flinched as another volley of bullets rang out, and the rage at seeing Anna shot in the head nearly did him in. Realizing he had only seconds before he was surrounded, John cursed Edwards and bolted.

That’s it for now on the Writer’s Block scenes. I’ll be meeting up with M again sometime this month, and we’ll see if we get our homework done or choose to work on other projects. You never know, I might pick up the dice at home and give them a toss to see how they land…

Writer’s Blocks Scene 3

CF_MYS_DE_ESCHello and happy Friday, readers of my blog. Today I present to you the third (of four) scenes written with my Writer’s Blocks (for more on this, see the related “Writer’s Blocks” posts under “Past Musings”). The third roll has some familiar elements, and a couple of new ones, with the further explanation provided by the little insert that came with the set (click the image to see it full size):

  1. Hero — Female child
  2. Genre — Mystery
  3. Plot — Escape — hero must get away from an enemy, a place or an internal conflict
  4. Plot Twist — Dead End — trail has grown cold, or led the hero astray

Apparently, the dice feel I need to write stories about young girls making their escape from enemies or situations, as these two elements also popped up for Scene 1. The different genre helped, but as I re-read the pages, I did notice a slight element of fantasy in there. Oh well, write to your strengths I guess. Hee. Also included below are the actual notebook pages; as with the dice image above, if you click on a page it will bring up the full size version.

CF_MYS_DE_ESC1 CF_MYS_DE_ESC2 CF_MYS_DE_ESC3

Interestingly, there’s only a couple of blocks of crossed-out lines so I must have hit a groove while writing this scene. Perhaps because it was the third in a row I could think faster or craft plot more quickly — or simply didn’t edit. In any case, read on for the transposed pages (and yes, they include minor edits, too).

Scene 3

Olivia cracked open the last of the journals, hoping yet again that it would be the one that gave her the final clue to finding where the Guild had hidden the Chalice. She’d been reading the leather-bound volumes for months, whenever she could sneak out to the Library and away from her too-watchful parents. They thought she was doing her homework and had given up on the foolish stories her grandmother had told her at bedtime. They might not believe, but she did.It was the curse of being a ten-year-old genius with a love of mysteries and adventure.

She’d almost forgotten about the stories until the strange man had come to the house asking after Grandma Bonnie’s journals. Her mother had denied knowing anything but Olivia had seen her father tense and fidget, two things he never, ever did. After that, she’d spent any free time she had writing out the stories she remembered. It was two months after that when she’d figured out the first riddle. It didn’t take long to figure out the second and third clues, the last of which had led her to the musty basement of the Guild’s main library. She’d shouted in elation at finding the little black safe buried under the boxes of old card catalog files, and clapped her hand over her mouth, sure she’d been discovered. When nothing happened, Olivia spent three days trying to open the voice lock on the safe with every story she knew. Finally, in desperation, she’d tried the last words her grandma would speak before turning out the light:

“Rings of gold will ever hold the faeries in your dreams.”

At the faint click she’d smiled and carefully opened the safe door. Inside, resting one atop another, lay six journals with faded red leather covers, each tied closed with a ribbon. Olivia had opened the first one that night only to find it written in a language she didn’t understand. Locking them safely away again, it had taken more research to figure out the language was one the Guild had used long ago for secret missives so they couldn’t be read were they to fall into enemy hands. Yet more research to find the key to that code and finally she could read the journals.

It had been a surprise to discover her grandma had been one of the Guild’s best agents when she was a young woman, and stranger still to find that she’d been tasked with hiding away the talisman that represented the power of the Guild. In each of the journals she’d found a clue, and now she was so close to the sixth and final one.

Pulling out her notepad from her bag along with a pen, she scooted over to where the light coming in from the high windows was brightest and began to read. She got caught up in her reading and just when she was about to give up she found it! Writing furiously, Olivia added the details to her notebook, double checking to make sure she had her notes correct. Smiling, she tucked away her pad and pen in her bag and lovingly touched the pages full of her grandmother’s words. Not wanting to put it away, she flipped through the remaining pages until she came to the end.

Her hands stilled as she read the last sentence written on the page. The handwriting was the same but the ink wasn’t faded as much and the penmanship was not as fluid. It had obviously been added much later and once Olivia had deciphered the words, her heart sank.

There was a seventh journal!

She searched the safe to no avail, finding nothing to tell her where it could be. Deciding that there must be something in the final pages she’d yet to read, Olivia sat down and flipped to where she’d left off.

The loud bang of the heavy door that lead to the basement startled her, and she looked up to find it was much later than she’d intended to stay. When the tower clock in the square began to chime the hour and she heard five bells, she panicked. The library closed at five, and with no way out she was trapped unless she could find another exit. Putting the journal back in the safe, she had almost locked it when she heard a familiar — and frightening — voice.

“It’s down here somewhere. Find it!”

Knowing the voice belonged to the stranger that had spoken to her parents, Olivia was now doubly scared — and positive they were after the journals. Taking precious seconds, she shoved her bag in the safe with the journals just in case. Then, making sure it was locked up tight and once again buried under boxes, she crept forward to the hallway and saw the jumping lights that had to be the others. Turning the other way, Olivia headed to the opposite end of the floor, hoping to find a way out…

And…scene. Okay, that expression is more suited to film-making than fiction, but it still works. Check back next week for the final Writer’s Blocks scene I’ve already completed. As for my homework, good thing there’s no deadline on that one…