Archive | February 2015

Zig-a-Zag, a story for Thimbleful Thursday and #FridayFlash

The fighter pilot with the callsign Spice was new to the team and, although all her credentials assured that she was not, indeed, new to space fighting as a concept or a skill, still the team had to be reassured.

The ‘old men’ – venerable veterans at twenty, twenty-two – watched from a safe distance on the carrier as Spice went through her first series of maneuvers. The training run wasn’t their hardest – nobody thought she could do that one, half the old men couldn’t pull it off flawlessly – but it was not easy, either, with a 1% fatality rate.

Spice zipped around the first obstacles – not too fast, not too slow. “Those are easy,” one Old Man scoffed. “Just wait till-“

But she made the trick shot as easily as any of them had.

“Too slow,” the doubter chided. And then he was laughing, as she bopped the wrong way around one of the hardest targets. “Looks like she zigged when she should have zagged!” His cronies laughed, some uneasily. That was the most deadly part of the run, the part they’d lost friends on.

The speakers blared to life. “All right!” Spice taunted, as she popped out on the other side of the target, the “flag” in her jet-ship’s catch-claw. “Zig-a-zig-ah!”

Thimbleful Thursday:

And Zig-a-zig…. ah:

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Silenced, a ficlet for #3ww

Written to the Three-Word Wednesday Prompt: Docile, Inflict, Whimper.

Includes unkind acts being done to someone apparently willing.

Sparked in part by this post in little-details

He was docile when they put the device on him: he stood still in the harness they’d built for him and did not complain nor struggle.

It looked like the unholy cousin of a neck brace, a muzzle, and a slave collar, and it was built to inflict pain and to silence him. It encased his neck down to his shoulders and his face up to his eyes, and it was not removable without three keys. It looked supremely uncomfortable; it was even less pleasant than that to wear.

And yet he allowed it without fighting. He could have killed them all before they got the first chain on him; he could have stopped them long before they locked the contraption around him, but he stood still, passive. Docile.

It struck in Padma’s craw, watching him. Watching them. Part of her, the animal part, was screaming Trap, trap. Run away! The tiger allowed you that close only because he was getting ready to pounce.

The human part of her was cringing at the cruelty. They could have built the device to be kind, and they had not. They could have attempted surgical means of silencing. Those had not even been brought up as options. They could have – perhaps – asked him to not speak. Padma was uncertain anyone but her had even thought of that.

When the last technician fastened the last lock, only then did their prisoner whimper. It was a tiny sound – small enough that it would not have been audible in Padma’s observation chamber if it hadn’t been for the high-sensitivity mics situated around the subject.

But it was enough to send the technicians running, and, more importantly, it was enough to set off the devices fail-safes. Their prisoner fell to his knees, sweat beading on his forehead.

She should have them turn down the feedback. But Padma pushed the intercom button. “That’s good,” she told the technicians. They had done what they were told. They had risked the prisoner’s killing voice. “Leave him be, now.”

It wasn’t what you’d call living, the existence he’d succumbed to. Why had he done it?

Perhaps, Padma thought, in time she’d be brave enough to ask. For now, she turned off the lights in the observation chamber and walked away.

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Rescue and Shelter, a ficlet of Tír na Cali

The below story is Tír na Cali and includes slavery, previous abuse, and people who believe in the system as it stands.

It came from a comment by Sky:”What if the Californians have things similar to animal shelters for lost and abandoned slaves?,” and was prompted also in part by a ficlet cluudle wrote about the same idea.

Shauna had been running.

She hadn’t been running away, no. She’d been moving past her owner’s fields and into the suburbs, staying out of sight, staying quiet and low and unimportant. She’d managed to disable the tracker on her collar and the identity chip but not the latch itself, and that was all right. Because if the collar had come off, she’d be a runaway. And runaway slaves did not get sold to nice places and they did not have nice prospects.

No, she was just running, just moving away from her master’s property at a quick pace. Too quick: she slipped on a culvert and fell, skidding down the concrete edge and hitting her head on the curb.

She woke in a bed, in a place with no traffic sounds and the smells of the forest wafting in. She opened her eyes slowly, feeling for pain and finding none. Her master owned no place that smelled like this. Had his son found her? Had…

A woman smiled at her. She was dressed in soft colors and soft fabrics; her eyes were blue and her hair was brown, and she was not wearing a collar. She was holding a tablet, and sitting comfortably near Shauna’s bedside. “Welcome.” Even her voice was soft. “You are in the Rescue Shelter.”

“Thank-” she swallowed to wet her throat, and tried again. “Thank you, ma’am.” The room she was in was not large – big enough for the bed and the chair, a small dresser and a big window. But they were the only ones in it. “What-“

“The Rescue Shelter is a recovery facility for abused slaves.” Even though the woman’s voice was still gentle, there was an edge to the words. “When you were brought in, you had quite a bit of damage, and most of it could not be explained away by the culvert in which you were found.”

Shauna winced. There had been “damage,” yes. She had done her best to hide it, for as long as she could. Her owner loved his son.

“We’ve documented all of it. A tenth of it would be enough to have you removed from the home, you know.”

Shauna had not known. She looked away from the earnest, soft woman. “Slaves that get removed, they don’t get sold to nice places, do they? They don’t get to be Chatelaines or Head Cooks or, or Companions.”

The woman smiled again, gently but proudly. “When you are recuperated, I can introduce you to several people who have gone through either this Rescue Shelter or another like it and gone on to hold very esteemed positions indeed. The people who tell you otherwise are those who don’t want you to complain, even when your treatment is illegal and immoral.”

“You’re… you’re not an abolitionist, are you?”

“Oh, no. I’m not one of those sad people who wants to do away with the whole system, no. I just want the system to work the way it’s supposed to. Now…” She looked at her tablet and smiled, before meeting Shauna’s eyes again. “Your collar data chips were damaged, I imagine in the fall. Would you like to tell us your former owner’s name?”

Former. Shauna swallowed. “No, ma’am, please. It wasn’t his fault.”

“Very well. Would you like to tell us your name?”

Shauna shook her head and pressed her lips together. Her name was on record. There were only so many slave-Shaunas in the country.

“All right.” The woman moved things around on her tablet for a moment. “We could call you… ah, that’s a good one. How does Hope sound?”

Unbelievable. But… nice. “I like it,” Shauna – Hope – offered.

“Then that’s what we’ll call you. Nice to meet you, Hope.” The woman half-bowed from her chair. “I’m Cariadad ni Rougan, but you can call me Carrie.”

Tír na Cali has a landing page here.

Setting notes: grey eyes & red hair indicate being a part of the ruling class, thus Cariadad’s blue eyes are comforting because she is probably not high-class.

ni Rougan is interesting because only bastards take “daughter of their father” such (and the ap Gwydion, but they’re another story); a bastard is someone whose mother has no name (i.e., a slave) or would not claim her.

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Poll Still Open! And tied for second place!

I have a poll here – pick three stories that I will continue.

Right now “A Rescue of Sorts” is winning with four votes, but

Rock & A Hard Place/2 Rocks & all the Pebbles
Prince Rodegard
Captive of the Night Witch

are tied for second place with two votes each, and, well, they’re my favorite three, too, so *I* can’t pick.

Go vote?

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Other People’s Patreons!

I’m sure I’ve told you about [personal profile] clare_dragonfly‘s Patreon already.

But now, two more of my friends have Patreons as well!

Check out [personal profile] inventrix‘s here: Inspector Caracal Makes Awesome Things (and they’re awesome, indeed).

And Lucy Weaver has Patreon here – read her lovely fiction!

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Second Patreon Milestone reached!

My Patreon has reached its second milestone!

Everyone who pledges at least $1 will have access to both a microfiction (<300 words) and a flash fiction (300-1000 words, or, in Lyn terms, a pretty long story <.<) every month.

Pledge $5 or more, and you’ll be included in a monthly prompt call and, if the funding reached $40/month, you’ll have input into a Patrons-only serial.


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Check out K Orion Fray’s Etsy Shop!

K Orion Fray, formerly the writer in my attic, has opened an Etsy shop!

Check it out: Azazel and Penemue. The product descriptions alone are worth a visit:

I’ve always found a certain solace in the evening, and you’ve always loved the forest on the edge of my mother’s old farmstead’s property. So I wanted to find a way to bring them together for you….

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Let the Good Times Roll/Forgery, a story of Fae Apoc for Thimbleful Thursday

Set in late February, 2012

Carmelita knew a handful of things.

She knew that it was Mardi Gras and she was, by strange coincidence, in New Orleans.

She knew that her hometown was burning, crushed, and flooding, all at once, which was not, to her way of thinking, a very good state of affairs.

She knew that she was twenty-one and, possibly more importantly, that at the moment almost nobody anywhere was going to ask her age.

And she knew that, despite everything, despite everyone, despite the war and the so-called gods and the even-less-likely-called saviors, New Orleans was still running, still partying, still rolling.

She leaned over the edge of the balcony. “Laissez les Bons Temps Rouler!” It wasn’t real French. It didn’t need to be. The burgundy in her glass wasn’t real burgundy, either, no matter how many times the man had told her it was. And it didn’t need to be, either.

“Sweetheart, come back inside.” The man had ideas, of course. He’d bought her the fake burgundy. He’d paid with stolen credit and thought she hadn’t noticed. His accent had changed three times in the four hours they’d been together. “Come back to bed, lovely Carmel.”

Of all the nicknames you could make from her name, she disliked that one, often also used to describe the color of her skin, the most. “It’s not ‘back to,'” she told him, a little more crossly than she might have, under normal circumstances. “I haven’t been there yet.”

“Come to bed, then. There’s more burgundy,” he coaxed her, his voice smooth as the not-really-silk sheets. “There’s Camembert and crackers.”

The streets were calling her. “Eat, drink, and be merry,” Carmelita muttered. The man was less interesting than he had been, once you saw him up close, like any forgery. “I’m not dead yet,” she called over her shoulder, and jumped into the street.

For this week’s Thimbleful Thursday: Laissez les Bons Temps Rouler

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Poll! A Sponsored Continuation or three

Sooo, I found in my archives that I had forgotten a donation <.< Specifically, one to do whatever I want or needs continuing.

But I like making you guys happy, so I’m going to open a poll now and leave it open until the end of February or until something is a clear clear clear winner. What stories should I continue?

I’ll write approx. 1250 words to the first-place winner, 850 to the second-place, and 400 to the third.

If you don’t have a DW account, leave your vote in the comments.

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Today’s Bread…

…is Cook’s Country Anadama bread, a molasses-and-cornmeal yeasted wheat flour bread. It’ll also be next week’s bread, because someone forgot to half the recipe before she got started <.<

I like Anadama bread not just because I looooove molasses, but the story is fun, too:

An apocryphal story told about the origin of the bread goes like this: Every day a local worker would find cornmeal mush in his tin lunch pail, despite asking his wife for an occasional piece of bread. One day, because of weather or other circumstances, he came home just prior to lunch time. His wife, Anna, was out. He sat down and opened his lunch box to find the usual cornmeal mush. He sighed and said, “Anna, damn her,” as he resolutely reached for the flour, molasses and yeast which he added to the cornmeal mush. His resulting bread became a local favorite.

It also reminds me of the dog in the Wrinkle in Time series, Ananda (see here), which I just learned “was one of the principal disciples and a devout attendant of the Buddha.”

Well. I do find making bread to be calming, a good place for thoughts, and enriching, as well as tasty.

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