Archive | July 2017

The Hidden Mall Part XI: The Narnia Thing

Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV
Part V
Part VI
Part VII
Part IX
Part X


Well, what were they going to do? She took Rick by the arm and steered him with them, leading him towards their escape. “If this is a trick…” she muttered. She didn’t finish the sentence, because she wasn’t quite sure what she’d do if it was a trick. She had one hand on Liv, one on plastic-Rick, and they were in a mall full of plastic people.

They walked as stiffly as they could towards a back door, Rick getting stiffer and stiffer the closer they got. By the time Liv pulled the door open, Liv being the one with a free hand, Abigail practically had to drag Rick into the behind-hallway.

Here it was bright and shiny, no grey, no bare wiring, nothing. It was as if the mall continued into the behind-space, which made Abigail more than a little concerned. “Sit down,” she told Rick. He sat, stiffly, the way her dolls had sat, their legs sticking out. She looked at the back of his neck.

There it was, just inside his hairline, a tiny little thing that looked plastic. Abigail dug in her purse until she found her tweezers.
She didn’t need to tell Rick to hold still; he wasn’t moving at all. Still, she was careful as she pulled out the little thing.
Rick twitched, shuddered, and fell over, his whole body shaking with spasms.
He was making such a scene Abigail almost missed Liv trying to sneak off. She grabbed her friend by the arm. “So. Do we try to rescue other people here?”

Liv twitched. “I want to see the beavers!”

“Liv, first things first, okay? First. There are people here who are stuck with these things in their necks. Do we try to take them out, do we find the source of the problem, or do we go for a doorway and not worry about them?”

“This place ins’t real anyway!” Liv tried to pull away. “I want to go back to the nice place, with the bookstore!”

“I want to go back, too, Liv.” Abigail tried to sound patient. She wasn’t feeling very patient. “But, first. This place. Plastic people. Do we help them?”

That seemed, finally, to get through. Liv looked at Rick, who had stopped twitching and was trying to sit up. “What if he was, uh, special? Too stubborn or something?’
“Thanks,” Rick snarled, and then paused, staring at them. “Wait. I saw you. You were like the rest of us. And then you went off…”
“I don’t want to know,” Abigail put in quickly. “I really don’t. That wasn’t us, or, at least, it was a different us. There’s passageways, uh, behind the mall, and we’re just trying to get back home. It’s a long story. Anyway, CAN we help people? Do you think?”
“I think I have to try,” he mumbled. “It was my girlfriend who got us into this. Well, I thought she was my girlfriend. I guess she was as plastic as all the rest of them.” He made a face. “So I can help, yeah. Come on, I know where the controller station is. And you have those tweezers.”
“What about going home?” Liv complained. “What about the Beavers?”
“We’ll get there, Liv. But – this is the Narnia thing to do, right?”
Rick laughed. “Nerds,” he laughed, and then, more gently, and a little surprised. “Hunh. That’s why you helped me. Nerds.” This time he said it with affection.

“Nerds,” Abigail agreed, not so much tired as resigned. “That’s us, Rick. Come on, let’s find the White Witch and destroy her.”

Live considered that, looked over at Rick, made a face, and nodded. “It’s the nerd thing to do. Rick, if you shove me into a fountain again, I’m feeding you to the evil clowns.”

“Evil clowns?” He actually looked worried. “I thought the plastic people was bad enough. There’s evil clowns, too?”

“Different mall,” Abigail explained. “Come on. We still have to get back home before Liv’s mother picks us up, and that’s a long way away by any measure.”

“You nerds are weird,” Rick complained. “Come on, this way. I’ll get you in.”

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Catboys in Cages

Pretty much exactly what it says on the tin. Written because I just wanted to write something fun.

Carlie hadn’t meant to end up at a slave market.

She’d been aiming for – well, to be honest, she wasn’t aiming for anywhere, more away from. She wasn’t exactly in a hurry but she was trying to keep moving. She might not have anyone on her tail, but it wasn’t the sort of thing one really wanted to find out.

But her horse was getting tired, she as getting tired, and there was a roof, which seemed like a really good idea. Portable-shade was a decent Working, but it was still a Working, and that meant it took energy. Energy took fuel. She’d had to leave half of her supplies behind in the last place, and the next Group safe-house she knew about was at least two days away, if she wanted to lean on the Group. Again.

So here she was, under a roof, thinking it was a market and she could trade something in her remaining stores for some fuel. And the first thing she came upon was a cage.

No, a row of cages. They came to hip-high, they were about as long as they were tall, and they were made of a mesh like a dog kennel only thicker. Every single one of them was padlocked shut. very single one had a man or woman in it, more than half of them in thick wooden collars and the other half in equally-thick steel collars.

She needed to get out of here before she ended up on the other side of those padlocks. She needed to get far gone before her horse ended up either in a stable for sale or in a pot for meat. She needed to leave, leave, leave as casually as possibly.

She locked eyes with a man in a cage and started mentally inventorying her stocks. If she was here to buy, she thought, well, they didn’t enslve their customers. That would be bad business.

He had green eyes, notched black cat ears, and a scowl that showed off a lot of teeth. He’d been beaten, he’d been in a couple bad fights, and all four of his limbs were shackled to the edges of the cage.

He was naked, too, and there was something in the set of his back and the way his snarl twisted that suggested maybe it wasn’t so much the chains as the person who’d put them on him who was the problem.

She knelt in front of the cage and looked at him. “Can you ride?”

He started to answer and stopped, nodded, gritted his teeth.

“Do you bite?”

He grinned, showing her all his teeth – except two that had been broken.

“Well then. Think you’re worth your purchase price?”

He looked startled by the question. After a moment, much more uncertainly, he nodded.

“I guess I’m buying you today, then.” A pity she couldn’t buy the whole market. “Try not to let me regret it, okay?”

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Content warning: kidnapping and all that it implies

He was going to fight when he woke up, in all likelihood. They almost always fought.

He hadn’t fought them getting in the car because they’d drugged him. A guy like him, rich father, stupidly influential mother, ought to have known better, but it’d been a closed thing, fraternity gig, and he’d probably thought he was safe among his brothers.

Fraternity parties invited girls.

The sister sorority hadn’t even been hard to join. Cass and Jenn, as they were calling themselves this week, hadn’t had any problem with the initiation rites, and sorority hazing was nothing compared to their actual organization.

He was coming home with them, drugged and happy, and none of his brothers even thought it was strange.

They might find it strange when he didn’t show up tomorrow. They might actually worry the next day.

By then, any reputation he had would be in the process of being destroyed, and the nude pictures Cass and Jenn were going to send the Senator and her husband would leave no question as to what was going on with their darling son.

They had the cabin in the woods already picked out for it. The parents might find him. If they wanted to. If they were inclined to. If they had the resources still after Cass and Jenn and their organization were done with him.

He stirred. Cass twisted to look at him. He was cute, soft lips, an adorable smile. She sort of hoped that his parents didn’t come after him.

The last one, that had been interesting. Congressman Hartford and her doctor husband, their handsome son. The Hartford-Maynards had looked for their son, but Cass was pretty sure they hadn’t looked too hard or too long.

‘They’d been sent the pictures of the corpse. That, of course, had been faked. Their organization was damn good at faking corpses, and if the Hartford-Maynards ever did find the place their son had been kept, they would find enough to convince them they’d found his body.
The son himself, on the other hand, had entered into personal service with Jenn, and was – probably – happily enough in Jenn’s dorm waiting for her right now. Her real dorm, at their real college. He was getting top grades, too.

Jenn pulled off the main road and down a side road that was only very nominally paved. Cass squirmed into the back seat. He was starting to come to, and they were out of the sight of police and random passers-by now.

In a week, there’d be some very compromising pictures sent to the Senator. Jenn and Cass had seven days, then, to have as much fun as they could with the Senator’s son. The pictures could be faked. But it was so much better if they could just get him to agree to play along.

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It was Dan’s idea to call it Chimera-Con, a fact which he would never after be allowed to live down.

Their little city wasn’t really big enough for real conventions, so the comic convention, the anime convention, and the furry convention had joined together into one, as Dan put it, three-headed fire-breathing monster of a convention.

Cute. Clever. And it drew enough attention that they actually got some decent guests of honor.

Hadley Storm was a well-known urban fantasy author, the sort of thing that everyone read for a couple years early in college. Nobody had expected her to show up.

Them, maybe. It turned out there was a reason Hadley didn’t do too many cons, and the main reason was that Hadley had a chimera-split personality: that is, there were three people in Hadley, and they didn’t always get along.

On the other hand, one of them liked Dan a lot.

So that was interesting enough, but add onto it the stack of chimera fursuits (both the sort with three heads and, in two creepy cases, the fish) and Chimera cosplays (including the Yu-Gi-Oh! chimera, the My Little Pony Chimera, and a were-hyena, for some reason), and it was beginning to look like they’d been a little too Chimera-leaning in their advertising.

By that point Dan had a headache and Adele was laughing at him, Sean, who was running the thing, was trying to figure out if they needed new panels, and Hadley Storm’s angriest personality had taken over their panel and was happily discussing chimer-ism.

Which is when things got even more interesting.

It turned out they’d missed the first few, because in humans it was almost never visible, but there was a small but growing minority – large enough that they’d scribbled three new panels into the program, saving Sean the work while giving him a headache – of people with chimerism.

At this point Dan curled up in a corner with a plastic bottle of vodka and refused to come out.
Which meant that he missed the group of botanists – one of whom was in a very nice Chimera (Clash of the Titans) cosplay – who set up their own panels down in the unused basement.

Unfortunately, it didn’t mean that he missed perhaps the most interesting guest to the con, because the spirit of the Dreaming that had decided this was a joyful place of chaos and imagination had found the same table to hide under after attempting to prank the Yu-Gi-Oh! cosplayer. This powerful chimerical spirit joined Dan in drinking magically-infused vodka, both of them pretending they couldn’t see the other.

By the time the lion-goat-snake creature breathing fire actually came through the door, nobody even pretended to be surprised.

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August Patreon Theme Poll!

Each month, I ask you, the readers, to help me pick a theme for my Patreon. Then I ask all $5+ patrons to prompt me to that theme!

You can find my Patreon page here:
and an archive of all my Patreon writing (and past themes) here:

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Dragons next Patreon

“Fore!… Damnit! I don’t know what’s up with me today, Jim, I just can’t swing a damn stick!”

Open to all Patreons!

Originally posted Aug. 10, 2011


I think it’s fair that I thought Farnah was male.

Read On!

This week on What an Old House, we’re doing some exploratory demolition in our 1860’s farmhouse’s bathroom.


Now this bathroom has some interesting features right from the get-go. You can see from the photos that the entire bathroom was covered in these 50’s-era Masonite panels.

Take a Peek!

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Side Quest – a Camp NanoWrimo Story – Twelve: Watch What You Say

Twelve: Watch What You Say

The man who might or might not b the Diamond Raven struggled, but he couldn’t seem to do anything about the cord around his neck and, rather than have Raizel tug it tighter, he followed her. “I have things I should get-” he protested, but she didn’t listen, and then “I shouldn’t leave a candle burning-” and then “someone needs to watch the sacred spot.”

“Someone does,” she agrees. “But having it be you might be a bit silly.”

“And why would it be silly for it to be me?” He raised his eyebrows at her in challenge.

read on…

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Side Quest – a Camp NanoWrimo Story – Eleven: The Diamond Raven

Eleven: The Diamond Raven

Esteronzerai was the biggest town Raizel had been in yet, and it was where the carriage’s route diverged from Raizel’s, whether or not she had been stopping to lasso a wizard. She bowed to the driver and, her grandfather’s words in her mind, tipped him, although she had not been responsible for the payment for this trip.

He bowed a little back to her, and did not seem offended by the amount. “Good luck on your journeys, child.”

She had, at home, outgrown “child” when she was old enough to watch the next-youngest children. It was strange to put it back on for this trip.

She smiled at the carriage driver anyway, because she thought he meant to be kind, and then turned her attention to Nadya. “Where do I find your Diamond Raven?”

read on…

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A New World: Touring

First: A New World

Kael did not sit for long. It was not in her nature to just sit – or she probably would have had far less trouble with heroes and the like. Instead she stood again and brewed several potions in quick succession.
Her ingredient stores were a bit low. She was going to have to venture out into – into that – and see what she could do about it. But first, first she needed a few things.
A potion of Cloak of the Road coated her in clothing appropriate to her station in this place. She looked down at the sleek, snug clothing and approved. This world, whatever it was, had nice clothes. Better than robes, she thought, or the things that people had worn when she’d first reached adulthood.

Her stairs were covered with dust, too. The whole tower looked as if nobody had touched it in – no. No, there in the dust were footprints. They were covered with their own layer of dust – not new, but not all that old, either.

Interesting. Perhaps the spell had been weakening. Perhaps someone had wanted a potion.

She stepped out into the main foyer of her tower and was surprised to find velvet ropes and, even more surprising, a man in clothing not all that dissimilar from her own. He was wearing a placard over his heart that called his allegiance the Kaelingrade Torrent-Step Black Tower and his name Friedrich Vibius.

Well, Kaelingrade Torrent-Step was her, or close enough for the strange shapes of the letters. And this was her Black Tower. “Friedrich?”

“Mr. Vibius,” he corrected. “Are you the new Kael?”

“That would be me,” she agreed. “What, ah.” No, she didn’t want to ask what is this place. “And you are…?”

“I told you.” He frowned impatiently at her. “I’m Mr. Vibius. I run the museum here.”

Museum. That was interesting. A seat of the muses, here in her Tower? Well, she supposed it had slid itself out of time. “How long has the museum been here?”

“What, are you new to the city?”

“That’s a very good way of putting that, yes.” She lifted her chin and gave him her best You Lousy Person Stop Giving Me Trouble look.

He was completely unfazed. “Don’t try that Kael stuff on me. It might be great for the tourists, but it’s not going to do anything on me. I’ve seen seventeen of you girls come and go, and none of them had the ice to chill me. Nothing chills me, girl.”

Tourist. It couldn’t mean one who turned on a lathe, that was silly. Maybe one who – hrng, she was going to need a potion of languages, she supposed. Everything was close enough to be both comprehend-able and baffling. “I’m new to the city, Mr. Vibius. How long has the Museum been here?”

“A hundred years, give or take a week. It is dedicated to Kaelingrade Torrent-Step, I’m sure you knew that much, and our grant insists on certain things, one of those being that the room below the top of the Tower always have a Kael – that’s why we’ve hired you, not because we like the look – and that the very top of the tower always be off-limits. We don’t even clean it, and don’t even think of going in there. You catch kids trying it, you give them your best Why Are You Bothering Me Pesky Mortals act. Yeah, that look. Room, board, and appropriate robes, all back there back stage. Now get robed up and get up to the Kael-room; we’re about to open.”

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