Archive | May 2016


Content warning: implied gore

The key could have been there for months. I’ve always been a bit of a packrat with small things – my purse, you know, my attache, my keychain. My apartment might be tidy and free of clutter – at 100 feet square, it’s kind of got to be – but you could find a door to Narnia in my purse and not be all that surprised.

And my keychain? Keys from every place I’ve ever lived or worked or even crashed. I’m a compulsive key-copier, not because I want to break in anywhere, just… I like having them.

This one was pink. It looked like some sort of office key, thick and official and Do Not Duplicate… and pink.

And it was new.

I found it Saturday, while looking for the key to my mother’s place – feeding her dogs while she’s out of town, crashing there ’cause the guest room is three times the size of my apartment. And now that I have it, I’ve been trying it in every door I can get away with trying it in.

Today I found the door it opens.

And I’m feeling like Bluebeard’s wife, except nobody warned me.

The question is, if I call the cops – and I really ought to, I really, really ought to – how do I explain how I just happened to have the key? When I don’t even remember, myself, how it got here?

Written to the prompt here:

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Seconds to Love

He was late.

Ruth shifted from foot to foot while she scanned the museum.

He’d always been late, she supposed: her friends had been born with soulmate timers that read eighteen, twenty, maybe twenty-two years. Ruth’s had read twenty-six years, three days, and 13 hours.

Now it read 30 seconds, and her “blind date,” the love of her life, was late. Didn’t he have a timer, too? Ruth had heard horror stories, one-way loves…

“Put your hands up. Stay cool and nobody gets hurt!” A strong grip pulled Ruth against a sturdy body. The wrist against her throat beeped 0:00.

Written to the prompt here: 100 words.

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Leftovers, ficlets of the Stranded World, are available on Patreon for all to read

The story that began with this little series…

The RoundTree Siblings Prepare for Thanksgiving

The Family That Knots Together

A Family Tree

…is completed here on Patreon.

“Your mother is something else.”  Marina glanced at the back seat of WInter’s sensible and spacious sedan, where Mila and Henry were sleeping.  “Your family is… is something else.”

Winter smiled, because he thought it would make her uncomfortable if he frowned.  “Is that a good thing?”… (read on…)

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Crew, a continuation, a ficlet of Doomsday Academy

Acquiring Students
When my tablet runs out of battery…
The Crew Continues

Doomsday Academy, a little over a decade before Cya Keeps Leo.

“So what do we do about cy’rees?” The four of them were flopped in the fourth-year students’ dorm all on Aron’s bed. He, in turn, was studying the long tail Kerr had recently grown.

“Do?” Astarte peeked up at him through a fringe of hair. “We pick them, right?”

“But we’re not all going to pick the same one, are we? I mean, we could… ’cause if we don’t, they’re going to split us up.” One hand went protectively over Astarte and the other over Kerr, leaving Sunny to snuggle into his arm on her own.

“Well…” Sunny mused… “it’s a small school. It’s not like they can actually separate us.”


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June Patreon Theme Poll

Hey, all, it’s time to pick the June Patreon Theme!

Each month, y’all pick a theme, and from there I write several stories posted to my Patreon (One is always free-for-everyone).

Want to check out my Patreon? Look here.
For just $1, you can read all the Patreon stories; for $5/month, you can prompt in the prompt calls! (for $7/month you get a private story!)

Don’t have Dreamwidth? Please feel free to vote in the comments.

For setting information, check out here.

This poll will close on 6/1/2016 at 6:01 p.m. Eastern time (or so).

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The Crew Continues, a ficlet of Doomsday Academy

After/part of When my tablet runs out of battery…, which is after Acquiring Students

Doomsday Academy, a little over a decade before Cya Keeps Leo.

Kerr was not talkative. He communicated when Miss Ascha pushed him in class. He told the cook what he wanted, at lunch. With Aron and Sunny, he preferred gestures and a minimum of words.

When he brought Astarte over to Aron and Sunny, the day she arrived – the first day of their second year of school and her first year – he did so without words. He took her hand and gave a tug; she followed. He tugged again, and she walked with him, her white-pale hand in his dark one, until he tugged her one more time to pull her in front of him, presenting her very clearly to Sunny and Aron.

Aron understood. “Hi,” he said, if for no other reason than to prove that one of them actually talked. “We’re a crew, or we will be when we’re old enough. Want to join?”

She was as small as they had been a year ago, her eyes wide. But she smiled. “You’re funny,” she told Kerr. “I like that.” She tilted her head at Aron, looked down at her hand, still firmly held in Kerr’s, and giggled. “I think I already did.”


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When my tablet runs out of battery…

…I write long-hand.

This comes after Acquiring Students and is the beginning of a series of character-establishing notes/stories/ficlets.

Click to enbiggen.


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The Uncle’s… Pet? – a story continuation for “Finish It” Bingo.

After Uncle, a story of fae apoc. To the Finish It! Bingo.

They’d named the creature — the fae, the sentient being Bruce was now Keeping — they’d named the thing Bjorn, or, at least, Bruce’s niece Kikyo had offered the name and it had stuck.

Bruce couldn’t get another name out of the thing, but, then, he hadn’t been able to get much at all in the way of language out of — out of him, out of Bjorn.

That made it harder to remember that the creature, that this Kept Bruce had now, that it was sentient, human-ancestried just as Bruce and his kids were. The fur everywhere didn’t help, either.

Bruce counted children three times, and then got them lined up in front of — in front of Bjorn. “All right. These children here…” He rattled off their names one by one. “You are not to hurt them. You may stop them from hurting you, but as gently as possible. Do you understand?”

Bjorn nodded. It cleared its throat once, twice. “Not hurt,” he offered.

“Good. Bobby, start filling a tub. Not for you,” he added before the children could start whining. “But I don’t think Bjorn should wait until our Saturday baths.”

Bjorn twisted its face into something that looked like a grimace. “Bath…” it started.

Bruce cut it — him, he was fairly sure the thing was a he — off, perhaps too brusquely. “If you live under my roof and my name, you bathe at least weekly. More if you end up stinky from something. And we start today, because I don’t want fleas in my house.”

Bjorn wrinkled its nose but did not complain. “Good boy,” Bruce muttered. What was he supposed to do with a semi-sentient housepet?

“Kikyo, Dolores,” he called. “You wanted to bring him in. You’re going to help get him clean. Kiya, go get a comb. Dol, get the scissors.”

The thing flinched away at the word scissors. Bruce waited until the children had run off on their errands before he patted Bjorn lightly. “To trim your hair — fur — whatever,” he explained quietly. “It doesn’t hurt if I cut it, does it?”

Bjorn stared at him, clearly trying to follow the words. “Fur.” It tugged on the hair on top of its head. “Fur doesn’t hurt.”

“Good, see? So. You understand children? They’re children, Bjorn, so be very careful what you let them know. They’re safe here, and their mothers trusted me with them. Don’t… I don’t want you to betray that trust.”

Bjorn was watching his face intently. SLowly, he nodded. “Children,” he agreed softly. He seemed to be remembering words as he went. “I… I’ll? I… will… be careful.”

“Good. That’s the right comb, Kiya, good. Bjorn, she’s going to comb you, all right? I’m going to go check on the tub.”

Bruce felt like every sense was on high alert, listening, even sniffing for trouble as he left his nieces alone with the creature.

The tub was filled, room left for Bjorn to slide in, and Bobby had added a couple drops of oil. “Is he… Is he a person?” he asked softly.

“That’s what we’ve got to find out,” Bruce sighed. “Come on, Bjorn, clothes off, get in the tub.”

Cleaned, his hair trimmed and away from his face, and dressed in a pair of Bruce’s cast-off pants, Bjorn looked — not human; he had a tail and his pointed ears were tufted — sentient and aware. He was gentle with the children, and protective, like a sheepdog, enough so that after a few days Bruce was comfortable leaving him alone with even the younger girls. But he had to be taught even the most basic table manners — the kids found it hilarious — and preferred grunts and gestures to words.

Bruce tried for patience, but when he caught Ryuu and Cherry communicating in grunt-and-gesture while they were supposed to be learning math, his temper had reached its limit. He held it in — he didn’t yell at the kids unless they were in danger, by long-established precedent and a lot of practice — but when Bjorn answered a basic question with a shrug and a whine some hours later—

“You,” Bruce said, his voice carefully quiet, “were born human, same as the rest of us. You are a person, not an animal. Talk like a person.”

Something lit up in Bjorn’s eyes that had not been there before. He ducked his head, and for a moment Bruce thought he was going to have to deal with a whimpering, miserable Kept. Then Bjorn turned the head-duck into a bow, deep and very precises.

“I Belong to you,” Bjorn said carefully, as if picking the words out of his memory. “You wish me to be a person?”

Bruce rejected the formula. “You are a person.”

Something that could have been relief came over Bjorn’s face. “Then I will be a person again.”

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The Expectant Wood, Chapter Three: The Slippery Stamen-End

Chapter One: Trouble at the Stamen
Chapter 2: The Stamen End

Chapter 3: The Slippery Stamen-End

Billow wasn’t screaming, or whining, or even whimpering. She was holding very still, slowly sliding towards the center of the stamen-bottom. Nimbus felt something tighten in her chest, but she didn’t have time for panic. She dropped to the ground, splaying her feet out and seeking some purchase, and reached for Billow.

She couldn’t quite reach, and if she moved any further forward she was going to end up on the wrong end of the slope.

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#ThimblefulThursday: Kangaroo Court

Thimbleful 1.png

They’d grabbed a couple barrels and a door to make a “bench”; they’d hung a curtain, or at least a ratty blanket, over the room to make a “private” courtroom, and they’d pulled in five people to witness, Carter Westcott to serve as judge, and Ardell Aspen to serve as prosecutor.

There was no defense. I wanted to say something about that; I was one of the witnesses, because I hadn’t moved away from the curtain quickly enough – me and four others who’d been loitering around, wondering what they were going to do with Barton after – well, after. But considering the mood of our little community of stragglers, I stayed quiet. I’ve regretted that for years. I didn’t want to end up there, where Barton was… but still.

The prosecutor read off charges. Barton could hardly say he wasn’t guilty – I mean, they’d gagged him, but that didn’t matter when he’d grown feet three times normal size and big furry ears – but they made some pretense that it was a court and not a murder.

If I’d only gotten to him before they’d found him, maybe I could have helped in. Instead, I stood witness to his “conviction” in the most half-assed trial I’d ever seen.

And his would not be the last I’d witness, either.

This is written to today’s Thimbleful Thursday prompt

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