Tag Archive | short story

Restraint, a story of TirNaCali for #3WW #weblit

Three Word Wednesday is a once-weekly 3-word writing prompt.

Last week’s three words were descent, kill, surreal.

This is a sequel to Keyed Up and Gifted, and thus completes the triptych.


She’d never admit it to anyone, but as she tried to pretend she wasn’t waiting for word, Ursula, granddaughter to Duchess Lemaria but heir to nothing more than the family temper, was nervous.

It was novel, almost thrilling, to be a bit frightened of a man, of a male slave. He was bigger than her, stronger than her – sure, the other harem slaves might be a bit taller than her, but very few of them seriously outmassed her – and he saw no reason why he should be obedient. It made him dangerous, and that made him exciting.

She was self-aware enough to know, then, that being miffed with him for taking his time to come visit her was silly, but still, she was both impatient and a bit annoyed. He’d gotten her gift days ago. Wasn’t he at least curious?

It was more than a little ridiculous, but she had been turning down invitations to go out, staying close to home in case he decided to grace her with his presence. She’d also declined three requests from Efran in as many days, the poor puppy. So very well-trained, she didn’t think he’d ever understand why she’d passed him over for the American.

Then again, her sisters and cousins wouldn’t understand, either. They liked their easy harem-slave bed partners. They liked their lives, in general, easy, and their lady grandmother loved to provide it.

Ursula wondered if she was the only one who noticed that, while the Duchess provided all of this, the men she took to her own bed were almost invariably Americans.

The phone startled her out of her sulk; she picked it up before the first ring had ended.

“He’s on his way.” She knew the voice at the other end – Toma, the harem mistress. “As you wished, Lady Ursula, he’s not restrained.” The woman’s voice was etched with disapproval.

“Thank you, Toma.” Now she was really nervous. It would take, what, ten minutes for him to walk here from the harems? More if he gave the guards trouble, less if he was in a hurry.

If he’d been in a hurry, he would have been here three days ago when he unwrapped her present. She brushed her hair, changed her shirt, and made sure the papers she wanted were at hand. She’d just started considering doing all of that again when the knock came.

She needed a personal assistant, but she didn’t like the constant crowding of having someone else in her living space. College and two years in military service had cured her of the need to be waited on hand and foot, anyway. She answered the door herself, be damned how it looked.

He stood there, Stephen, next to the guard, neither of them smiling, but without the violent tension they sometimes showed when she opened her door for them. His hands were clasped in front of him; he looked the most placid Ursula had ever seen him.

The guard bowed; belatedly, Stephen remembered to bow as well. “Your Ladyship, as requested by the harem, I’m delivering this slave to you.”

“Thank you, Emmund. You can leave him.”

Emmund was too gracious to glower in her presence, but he bowed and left stone-faced.

“Come in.” She wasn’t paying any mind to Stephen’s expressions yet, not until she could get her own emotions under control. She was alone with him, unchained, in her bedroom.

“You gave me a key,” he accused her, but he stepped into her room and shut the door.

“I did. Kill the lights and come over here.” The light on her nightstand would be enough, and it was an order he wouldn’t think twice about following.

“They forgot the chains.” He flipped the light switch off and followed her across the room, to the chair by the side of her bed. “Think you can get me to play footstool without them?”

“If I asked nicely enough.” She sat down on the edge of the bed and gestured at the chair.

He looked between her and it, looking for the trap, but sat, gingerly, glaring at her. “Why?”

She didn’t waste time dissembling or pretending she didn’t know what he meant. “You don’t seem to enjoy harem service.”

“You don’t seem to care all that much about my enjoyment.” She could see from his expression, though, that he knew that wasn’t entirely true. She’d hoped he’d noticed that.

“I enjoy your company, too,” she admitted. She didn’t want to see him broken by one of her harsher aunts.

“Are you going to lie to yourself if I move in? Tell yourself I was a good little boy and serve me dessert for yelling at you?” He sounded, she realized, confused. She’d changed the game just when he’d figured out the rules.

“I might.”

“I don’t want to be a lapdog like Efram. I won’t do it, Lady, no matter how much you whip me. Use me as a footstool all you want, you won’t break me.”

She smiled wickedly, crossed her feet at the ankles, and held her legs out in mid-air. “All right.”

He stared at her incredulously. “You can’t be serious.”

“And if I am?” A little thrill ran up her. She wouldn’t call the guards, not unless she thought her life was in danger. He could hurt her a lot without endangering her life.

“What’s in it for me?”

Ursula reminded herself forcefully that she’d wanted the untamed slave, the argumentative one, that she’d encouraged his bad attitude. “Answers. You want to know why I gave you the key, what I want from you. I, at the moment, want a footstool.”

He shook his head. “You expect me to curl up and act like a lapdog just because you want me to?”

“No.” This was fun! “I expect you to kneel and act like a footstool – you’re too big for my lap, anyway – because you want information.”

A moment paused, and another, and another. He was going to say no. He was going to threaten her. He was going to stomp out of the room. He was…

Kneeling in front of her, crouching, really, ass to heels, elbows and forehead to the floor, like she’d had him bound, that first time. “Yes, Lady Ursula.”

She set her feet down on his back and lounged. It was a bit silly, wasn’t it, having him like this? She didn’t even do things quite this bad with the born slaves (but, then again, they rarely needed reminding of their status). She picked up her files from the nightstand and flipped through them, although he couldn’t really seem them.

“This is a detailed lineage report I had worked up on your bloodline.” It hadn’t been cheap, or quick, but she had both money and time to spare. “You’re of Irish descent.”

“So are you,” he grunted, twisting to look up at her. “So?”

“Exactly.” She tapped the folder. “You come from the same ancestors as my people do, if you go far enough back. You’re, very, very distantly, my cousin. And Efran’s,” she added thoughtfully.

“Ha,” he snorted.

“Exactly,” she repeated. “You have a strong – strong being the imperative word – Irish bloodline. And strong men breed strong children.”

Under her feet, he froze. “Oh, hell no. No fucking way, you crazy bitch.”

She toed him gently in the kidney. “None of that.”

He settled, but his tone was not much more civil when he continued. “I won’t give you my kids to be raised as slaves.”

“I’d be bearing them, so they wouldn’t be slaves, they’d be royal. I’d be willing to allow you to share in their rearing, as well. It’s a better offer than anyone else would give you – you know most of them would just say ‘lay back and grab the headboard’ and consider that sufficient warning.”

He looked back up at her. “You’re serious. You want to have my kids.”

“It’s that or take your chances with the harem,” she pointed out, wondering which he would chose. How would she handle the stigma of being rejected by an American slave? Her sisters and cousins would never let her live it down.

“But I hate you. I hate everything about this place.”

“No-one said you had to like me, Stephen. You don’t even have to enjoy the sex, although it’s more fun all around if you do.” Gods below, had she just said that?

He sat silently for long enough that she began to wonder if she really hadn’t said it. “I’ll do it,” he agreed. “But I’m not going to be a very good pet for you, not like Efran would. Should have given him the key.”

She leaned over to stroke his cheek, loving the way he shuddered, trying to hold still and wanting to shy away. “I didn’t want Efran. I want you.”

3WW: Not Interfering #FridayFlash #weblit

Three Word Wednesday is a once-weekly 3-word writing prompt.

The three words are harmless, moist, yelp.

The yelp caught Allie’s attention, drew her out of the book she’d let herself become engrossed in. High-pitched, terrified, and loud, it penetrated the thick walls of her shop. It had come from somewhere out back; a second yelp, louder still, confirmed the direction and had her running for the back door.

June-next-door’s latest boyfriend was standing in the narrow passageway behind their buildings, looming over the dumpster? No, over a skinny boy standing near the dumpster; the yelp had come from the kid, presumably.

What was his name? Jack? No, no, Fred. “Leave him along, Fred,” she called, hurrying over to the pair. “He’s harmless.”

“He was digging in the dumpster. Freaking little rats will steal anything not nailed down.” He lowered his arm halfway, eliciting a whimper.

Allie looked the kid over quickly. Grey bandanna, grey hoodie, but the signs she was looking for… “He’s not a rat, Fred, he’s a pup. Leave him alone.”

The kid snarled at her. “Not a pup,” he complained, but it had little heat behind it.

“What’s that, some sort of gang? I’m telling you, Alison, what you want to do with these kids is show them who’s boss. Do that, and they won’t give you any more trouble. If you let them steal whenever they want, they’ll walk all over you.” He grabbed the kid’s arm again, ignoring the little whine the boy made.

“Fred, let it be. There’s no need to go messing with him; there’s nothing in the garbage worth stealing, it’s why it’s garbage.” She kept her voice calm, soothing. June didn’t pick the brightest boyfriends. “This isn’t the neighborhood to go starting trouble in, Fred.”

She knew it was a mistake the moment she’d said it, but she’d known it needed to be said, too.

“I keep telling June, and I’ll tell you, too, Alison. You can’t give in to thugs and creeps. You’ve got to show them who’s boss.”

She looked at the boy again, knowing it was a lost cause. He looked back at her with eyes a pale, icy blue she’d seen before in huskies, the whine high-pitched and, she thought, entirely unconscious. “I don’t want to be a witness to this,” she told him.

“Go inside, Alison,” Fred snarled. “I’ll deal with this.”

She sighed, wishing there was another way, and walked inside. “Come on in for some cocoa… later,” she threw over her shoulder, before she shut the back door, making sure it clicked locked.

The door wasn’t thick enough to completely muffle the pained yelp, nor the bone-cracking sound that followed it. The scream that came next was very short, even less silenced by the door, and cut off with a quiet, moist sort of crunching.

Allie wandered back to the front of the store before the magpies could rob her blind. The pup would be in, in a while, for his cocoa, and she had to figure out how to tell June she’d need another boyfriend. At least the wolves rarely left a mess.

At this rate, she mused, as the noises in the back faded away to nothing, there wouldn’t be a thug or bigot or creep left in Animal Town.

All Green Dots – Flash fiction from prompt

Flash Fiction from daHob’s prompt: I’m a computer geek. Green means ‘good’! In Test Driven Development, you are done with the code when it passes all the unit tests. Each test gets a green dot (as opposed to a red one). So, “all green dots” at 256 words….

Sequel to Evolution

Alae and Eka waited together in the tiny room known, as archaically as Alae was Queen, as the Green Room (some wit had painted a line of tiny green trees all around the room). The ceremony took time to plan (even though it happened every twenty cycles), more time to set up, and several eternities on the day of. And through all of it, Alae, who was normally just another denizen of the ship, was sequestered and guarded like some exec’s concubine

She’d paced until Eka snarled, fiddled with her feather cape until she risked ruining it, and settled in to lotus, finally, envisioning her greenhouse plans for the next five cycles.

“Green dots,” Eka declared, as Alae got to her next batch of carrots. She opened her eyes; Eka was staring at the status meter, a row of red lights that were slowly turning green. “They’re nearly ready for you.” She stood, the beads in her hair clacking, and hurried over to Alae. “Are you all set, me love?” Behind her, another light turned green, and another one. “You mussed your cloak again, didn’t you? How is it that you can’t ever sit still?” Her slender fingers smoothed Alae’s feathers; her lover’s nervous fussing calmed her the way no meditation or medication ever could.

Four more lights went green. They were near to securing the space. She tried not to think about their failure to secure, last time, even as Eka’s fingers brushed the scar.

“All green dots, Your Majesty,” Eka murmured. “Knock ‘em dead.”

Ticket to Ride, a story further-further-further-further-further continuation #weblit

The wind had finally died down. Sandy wasn’t sure what she’d have done if it kept up. Frozen to death, probably, or begun to lose skin and extremities to frostbite. Certainly she’d lost herself, but in the midst of downtown Rochester, how far could she have wandered?
There were no cars on the street, not even a plow. The storm had come up suddenly – a light snowfall, the sort appropriate for Christmas Eve, had been picturesquely falling as she stepped out of the library to walk home. By the time she crossed Court by the Blue Cross building, the wind had picked up; by the time she reached Monroe, she couldn’t see a foot in front of her.
She’d kept walking forward, figuring that holding still was risking being turned into a Popsicle. And now the wind had died down, and she could see…
…nothing. Nothing but trees, and snow, and a lamp-post flickering its gaslight.
She was SO going to be late for dinner.

Sandy took a deep breath, the thought of dinner gnawing on her empty stomach. She’d gotten turned around. What could she do?

Well, all she could do was keep going forward or turn around and head back, since standing here would get her nowhere. The trees laden with snow looked like nothing she’d ever seen in the middle of the city before, even in its sparse parks. She turned slowly counter-clockwise, looking all around her. Tree-lined hills. Densely-packed pine forest. A narrow path, barely more than a deer track, through the trees. More forest, with a steep hillside in the distance. And the gaslight lantern again, looking fresh and new. Some sort of gentrification project, maybe?

The snow was thin, fluffy stuff, but it had settled in drifts nearly to her hips. Glad for the sensible boots and the nice synthetic pants, she waded forward. The lamppost, as she closed, held two signposts. The arrow pointing towards the cliffs read Away; the one further into the woods, Home.

Home sounded wonderful. Her feet were cold, her nose was frozen, and there were snowflakes crusted on her eyelashes. She wanted to be warm again, she wanted to eat dinner, and she wanted, more than any of that, to sit down.

She trudged into the woods, following the vague outline of a path under a canopy of creaking trees, thinking about Home. The half-a-house off in college-student housing that she shared with five other people was a home by sheer force of will – her bedroom was her sanctum, and no-one best bother with it – but she missed the feeling of a real home, something like she’d had in childhood, where she belonged. Somewhere in the back of her mind, her parents’ cozy house would always be Home.

She doubted a signpost had that level of distinction; she doubted it cared about her home at all. Gaslamps weren’t know for their empathy. With any luck, the path would lead her somewhere that could get her back to Rochester; that would have to suffice.

The snow lessened the deeper into the forest she got, the path clearing under the heavy roof of boughs overhead; many of them, Sandy noted in some confusion, still had a full head of leaves on them. That couldn’t be safe, if all the snow started to freeze. She sped up, hurrying from gaslight to gaslight down the smooth path, trying to ignore the gnawing rumbling pain in her stomach. Home, the sign had said; it had to be nearby, right? Maybe not her home, but someone’s home. As the impatient thought was born, the light ahead brightened and swelled, as if she was coming over the edge of a hill into a city. Her pace picked up, and up again as the lights brightened and she was certain she could make out the edges of buildings, and again, as she heard a train whistle. Civilization! She bounded down the hill, driven on by visions of a thick mocha latte drowned in whipped cream.

She skidded to a halt halfway down the hill, tripped, tumbled, and landed on her back in a snowdrift. “No, no, no.” She shook her head, staring at the grey, starless sky. If she didn’t move, she didn’t have to look down at the little Dickensian scene below, didn’t have to acknowledge what she’d seen. There was a train. If she didn’t move, she wouldn’t get to the train. And the snow down the back of her neck was melting into a thin trickle of unpleasant coldness.

She levered herself to her feet, refusing to look up at the village just yet. The path was nice, predictable, something normal in this middle of this mess. She put one foot in front of the other, trying not to worry that they’d burn her as a witch before she could get to the train.

At least, she mused, looking unwillingly up at the black-and-sepia-garbed villagers in their nineteenth-century-finery, if they burned her as a witch, she’d be warm.

Warmth. The place might look archaic, but she could hear the train. The train had to get her someplace warm, assuming she could afford a ticket. Sandy wondered, faintly, if they’d take Visa.

She walked slowly now, keeping her eyes on the gaslights flickering down the street, the train station at the end of the road looking like something out of the miniature village set her roommate Cathleen had set up in the living room, the whole town having that posed-and-designed sense to it, right down to the spruce garlands.

The Victorian-clothed townsfolk didn’t seem inclined to burn her at the stake; they barely seemed aware of her existence. She hurried, still; she didn’t want to miss the train.

The ticket-seller at the station noticed her, at least. “One ticket, sir?”

Close enough. “One ticket, please.” She didn’t even care that there were no destinations listed on the board behind his head, just departure times.

“That’ll be one tech, sir.” He held out his hand.

Short Story: Recruiting – Daughters of Clio – #DofC – #weblit

Daughters of Clio is the prompt-a-week group of Trix, Clare, Tara, and I.

Last week the prompt was Clare’s choice to pick a person, and she picked “The First and Fifth.”

This is sort of Shustsumon’s fault, because she mentioned it sounded like a Dr. Who fanfic title.

The first and fifth Miss Draper of Albany, NY studied the probationary sixth of their line.

“She fits the qualifications,” Miss Draper Five said, more than a little defensively. “She’s overqualified in over half the categories.”

“And choosing your successor is, of course, your purview.” Miss Draper the First carried prim and proper as if she was the one who was stylish, and everyone else just horribly out of fashion; the Fifth had never been able to rid herself of the urge to tug her skirt further over her knees and put a hat on. Now she was also fighting the urge to go put a hat on the girl who, with any luck, would be the Sixth. “But she’s so very…” The First’s gesture seemed to include all sorts of words without ever being so rude as to say them.

“Modern,” the Fifth countered. “Which isn’t always a bad thing, you know.”

“Of course not. Modernity has its place… but is that place in the house of Miss Draper?”

“I bring your attention to the Third. Think of what she did.”

“Well, yes, she was very instrumental in some changes that we really wanted to see… but she also did so while remaining within the strictures of the culture she lived in.”

“It’s two thousand eleven Anno Domini. I wouldn’t say anything she is doing qualifies as outside the strictures of her culture. She could have seventeen piercings and still be not that far outside of the strictures.”

“But would she fit into, say, her mother’s world?”

“That can be taught. And I have a year to teach her.”

“Why are you so set on this one, Eloise?”

“I like her,” the Fifth answered, ignoring the breach in protocol. “And you should have seen her at the cocktail party last weekend; the way she handled two drunken congressmen and a state senator was brilliant. She has a way with people, and that’s the thing we can’t teach.”

“Ah. There is that. And she has the look, doesn’t she? If you discount the… clothing. But is she already too well known? You mentioned congressmen?”

“She’s a waitress with a catering company.”

“Aah, so invisible. Very good, Eloise. Miss Draper.”

“Thank you, Miss Draper.” In theory, the current Miss Draper outranked those who had come before her; she had the final say on all business decisions, and no-one would contradict her on more personal choices, either. But the first of the line had never truly let go of the reins, stepping back from the role only when the passage of time demanded it. Eloise might outrank Second through Fourth, but, theory aside, the First was still in charge.

“So, this girl. If you truly believe she’s the one, I suppose you ought to bring her in. I do hope you can teach her some manners, however, before you introduce her to the public. We don’t want another mess like Third, do we?

Fifth hadn’t been born yet when Third had begun making a mess. “No, ma’am. I don’t think she’ll be a mess at all.” And even Third had maintained the Draper name and fortune, albeit in a bit bawdier fashion than First might like. “Would you like to meet her now, then?”

“I think that can wait.” First’s smile as she tapped Fifth’s hand was a sharp thing, with all the genuineness of margarine on plastic toast. “I look forward to seeing what you do with her, dear.”