“I want to meet my mother,” Marcus said. For too long, he had put off meeting the woman whose genetic makeup he shared.
Jessie looked up from the appliance she was repairing. “Are you sure?”
Marcus folded his arms and leaned against the garage’s overhead door frame. “Is one ever certain of such events?”
“Pretty momentous.” She arched her eyebrow in what he imagined was an imitation of him. “Do you think you’re ready?”
“I very much doubt I will ever be ready. However, the longer I delay the more difficult it will be.”
She acknowledged that with a nod. “She should be back from her trip. Frankly, I thought she would be over here by now. She’s the Ms. Fix-it Shop’s best customer. It’s been a while since something broke. Notice, I did not say she broke anything.” She gave him a droll look. “Your mother has the worst luck with appliances. Lamps. Toasters. Blenders. I drew the line at clocks and watches, though. She actually wanted me to fix your great-grandfather’s pocket watch. I said no way.”
His ancestor’s pocket watch? An object of sentimental value retained through three generations. Marcus had previously thought that Terrans—specifically those in the northern half of the Western Hemisphere—casually disposed of old items. Since encountering Jessie, he had learned differently. Her value of the old started with her grandparents’ farmhouse where she lived and worked. To learn that his Terran mother held antiques in esteem was gratifying.
Magic whispered in Scree’s mind, picking at the edges of his consciousness like a vulture working at a carcass. He stopped a meter from the dying stranger, unwilling to get any closer.
“Akawi,” the man said, “you must take the books and flee. You must. I know these men are just trolls and will not stop to steal two books, but they may burn them.” He coughed a dollop of blood onto the timber floor. One of his legs shook violently, drumming a ragged rhythm. “You must take the books.” He coughed again. “We are so close. I know it. Continue the search for the portals.”
Hailey dreamt of monsters. Or rather of being the object of a monster’s affection. A vampire count, a lonely ghost, even a wicked sorcerer or a demon from hell would do in a pinch.
Ten year old Hailey was miles ahead of the kids in her class, turning her homework in early, acing her tests. And all the while she sat quietly near the back of the room, staring out the window, daydreaming of another world. Her teachers and schoolmates left her alone, odd little thing she was. Hailey fit in nowhere but between the pages of the borrowed library books at school and paperbacks from the bookshop in town where she spent all her pocket money.
At thirteen, Hailey ventured further into the make believe world of the supernatural. She went to bed with shadow men, psychopathic but cute next door neighbour boys and mummies from Egypt. A few years later, she dated hot vampires who attended high school in rainy Washington.
But these epic paranormal romances failed to follow Hailey into real life. She was stumped. Surely she deserved a little vampire action, some supernatural, sexy shenanigans? Alas, it wasn’t to be.
And so Hailey grew up, attended college, got a degree, a job, boyfriends, later a husband, a divorce, no kids. There was no place for children in the fantasy realm.
And still she read.
Fairy tales are a tricky thing. One moment the characters are standing at the carriage, ready to ride off into the rest of their lives, yet readers don’t really know what happens next! We don’t know how Cinderella handled the Prince’s stinky socks or how badly her stepsisters behaved at holiday dinner.
Fairy tales don’t give us advice for how to live the rest of our lives.
Enjoying a sinfully delicious dinner out with a hot man doesn’t seem like a strange occurrence for most people but when you’re newly married and blending two families , heading to McDonald’s can be a big night out.
Staring at the handsome man across from me and dreaming of later, maybe some carnal dessert, my breath came quicker. What did I do to deserve such a great guy? He’s easy on the eyes, picks up his laundry, and cooks a mean steak. Alex is built like a football player with a military haircut and amazing arms. I love how he’s able to lift me up and carry me around the bedroom. His piercing blue eyes and dimpled chin move me to do things I wouldn’t even think to try.
His body is a feast for me. I never thought I’d ever find love again, let alone with a stud like my husband. I’ve seen the stares when we’re out. With a blonde pixie haircut and petite boyish figure, I’m a girl next door in a world filled with Victoria’s Secret models.
Remote Island off the coast of Nicaragua
Slade belly-crawled across the jungle floor. Patience and stealth: both were essential if he wanted to survive. He checked the Gerber knife strapped to his thigh, felt the weight of the rifle slung across his back. His gaze locked on the man casually smoking a cigar in the distance. Cuban, by the scent of it.
Perspiration trickled between his shoulder blades. God, he hated the dark, dank jungle. His lungs ached when he breathed in the thick, wet air. He preferred his beach house on the west coast or penthouse in Chicago. At this point he’d be grateful for the rustic cabin he kept in the Rockies.
He continued to drag his body through the dense underbrush. The sting of an insect bit into the exposed area of skin on his neck. His shoulders tensed with effort to resist slapping it. To slap at it and take his focus off the objective could be fatal. He let the insect take its fill and move on.
Fifteen feet now. Close enough to see the color of the mark’s eyes. Slade settled into a prone position, body slack. He positioned the FRF-2 on solid ground and sighted down the scope, his finger wrapped feather-light around the trigger.
The cacophony of monkeys screeching in the trees faded to the slow, steady rise and fall of his own chest. The soft thrum of his heartbeat. A bead of sweat trickled down his cheek.
Aomori Prefecture, Honshu, Japan, 1872
So it had come to this.
Hideyori Kato paced the dirt floor, his face wrinkled in a frown of disgust. Unprotected by tabi, the silk stockings he was accustomed to wearing, his feet bled from the coarse straw of his sandals. At his palace, he would not have been wearing shoes at all, but the creatures scurrying about in this hovel had forced him into the unheard of habit of wearing shoes indoors.
Kato, the great and once-powerful daimyo, was reduced to living in a mud hut on the outer pasture of what had once been the lands surrounding his castle. He should never have surrendered to that child-emperor, Meiji. He should have rallied his army and fought. His treasurer had given him some drivel about the coffers being empty, but he could have promised them riches, and they would have fought for glory, or whatever their silly Bushido decreed. Maybe he could have convinced the armies of the lily-livered daimyos to join his, so he could have overtaken the emperor’s forces. And then he, Hideyori Kato, would rule all of Japan. The thought of all that power made his mind spin.
THE HAUNTING OF LAUREL COVE by Lucy Naylor Kubash (@LucyKubash)
The cabin still stands in the clearing near the Little River. I’ve not been there for some time now, not since the birth of my daughter; but one day when Althea is older I will take her there, and I will tell her the story of the other two Altheas for whom she is named. After much talking I’ve finally convinced the inhabitants of Laurel Cove to restore Cissy’s cabin as a historical marker, so it’s not as ramshackle as it first appeared to me. My husband says I’m still obsessed with the place. Maybe I am. I use to go there often, to stand in the overgrown herb garden with its brown and curling vines, to wander through the vacant cabin, to sit in the small, armless rocker and wait for the subtle fragrance of laurel to fill the room. But since that fateful day, it has not happened again. Cissy’s cabin is quiet now and empty, save for the occasional tourist who cares to stop and have a look.
That’s the way it should be, the way I wanted it to be, yet I sometimes wish I could feel her presence again, to remember how it felt to be touched by the spirit of Cissy Oliver. It’s strange how I came back to the mountains. Strange that Cissy’s story once was only a faded memory from my childhood, a memory left far behind in the mists of the Great Smokies.
All the entries sound epic! I can’t wait to see how this is gonna turn out *sits at the edge of the seat*
To participants: Order of entries is in the order that I received them. Please check that I have placed the right links and made no errors in your names or your entries. If I have, do let me know via comment or email asap and I will make the necessary changes. If I missed your entry by accident or it went to spam, likewise let me know. Also, please do not vote for your own entry so everyone has an equally fair chance
This time we’re going to do things a little different. The results will be hidden until the contest is closed! Voting will remain open until this Friday, May 24th, 11:59 PM, Pacific time. The winners will be announced on Monday, May 27th, at 9:15 AM, Pacific time. As a reminder, the winner will receive a banner to display on their blog/website. First place and runner up will get a chance to guest post!
-The Story Addict