Not Good

(before the events of Sword’s Edge)

Marcalan laughed as he strode next to Haladhon, his cousin and a chief of their clan. Beneath the jesting and storytelling, Marcalan kept alert, as did his cousin, hoping to cross the ring of roadway bandits plaguing this area. Dressed not as Rangers but in commoner attire, they appeared as a couple of ordinary wayfarers.

His eyes scanned the woods along the edge of the road. “So, did you make scarce before the innkeeper could pitch you out on your ear?”

“Me? Tossed out of a pub? Cousin!” Haladhon looked properly indignant. “She did chase me with a broom, but I managed to fend her off with a wink and a kiss.”

“Stars, cousin, how do you always escape unscathed?”

Haladhon’s eyes twinkled. “Need you ask?”

Marcalan shook his head with a sigh—a tingle of something awry halted him, and he threw an arm out in front of Haladhon. Six men armed with swords leaped from the bushes. The two Rangers drew their own blades as the men ran toward them.

“Oh, this is not good,” Marcalan muttered.

“What gave you that notion, Mar?” Haladhon asked.

Marcalan parried one man’s attack, sidestepped the second’s, swung his blade through to go back to the first, then answered, “It was just a thought.” He kicked at the third man attacking him, and although his aim was off, hitting the man’s arm instead of his gut, it did well as the man dropped his sword to grab the arm, yelling in pain.

He backstepped the first man, and said to Haladhon, “I could be wrong, however.” He came in with a downward diagonal attack successfully, cutting the man’s sword arm deeply, then turned to the second man as he heard Haladhon reply, “You often are.”

“You think so?” Marcalan sidestepped, striking his opponent across the shoulder. The man fell with a cry, and he turned to face the third man who had retrieved his sword. Marcalan’s quick lunge unbalanced the man, and Marcalan disarmed him easily. He held his sword to the man’s throat as he watched Haladhon finish his last opponent.

As the man fell, Haladhon turned, lowering his sword.

“Aye. See you what I mean? Six men down, and our mission to find the men who had been robbing travelers is over that quickly. Now how is that not good?”

“I stand corrected.” Marcalan inclined his head in lieu of a bow, never taking his sword away from his man’s throat.

“However…” Haladhon looked around thoughtfully for a few moments. “I do see a problem.”

“What?”

“We have to escort these men, some of them wounded, almost a full day’s journey before handing them over.”

Marcalan groaned. “See, I told you it was not good.”

 

END

🙂

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The Last Hurrah

A friend of mine (Jane Lebak) recently started a conversation about authors who dream entire stories. Most of my stories do come from dreams, but usually it’s a snip of a scene and I “grow” the story out of it.

Justice,” for example, started from a dream of an old man – he had to dive/fall into thorn bushes to avoid being trampled by a man on a horse who shouted at him to get out of the way then rode on, over a drawbridge.

The novel Sword’s Edge came from a dream I had in 1985. Without going into boring detail (some of which I discuss in another post), it involved three major characters and rescue of a prince.

However, I realized after the fact that I had indeed dreamed an entire story. Yes, a few details had to be fleshed out, but I did dream it all, including being shoved off a ledge – the vividness of which I can still see and feel with horror. The story is entitled “The Last Hurrah” and was published by The Sword Review in June 2005. It was written before I ever had a gleam in my eye about Slap and Tristan but it actually takes place in the same universe, albeit a millennium before they were both born.

So if you want a glimpse of the Deuces Wild universe from a time when Old Earth was more than just a memory, please check out the free short story: “The Last Hurrah.”

🙂

Administering Some Old “Justice”

Back in ’06, the now defunct The Sword Review published one of my short stories entitled “Justice.”

It was so well received that it was included in Double-Edged Publishing’s Distant Passages, Volume 2, their second “best of” anthology.

And now, I offer it – free – in e-book formats:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/560578

Justice Cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Fun Flash Fiction

The Crack

TheCrack1

Jack squatted down and peered at the pavement. He’d let this stranger interrupt his jogging to look at concrete?

“Do you see it?” The young woman leaned over, her dreads falling forward. “There.” She pointed at a small jagged line at the edge of the sidewalk.

“The crack?”

“You can’t see the light? Oh probably not, if you’ve never been inter-dimensional. It’s a rip in space. In reality. We have to stop it before it becomes bigger.”

She didn’t smell like she’d been drinking, or look deranged like a drug addict—didn’t drug addicts look deranged?—and she was rather cute, so Jack offered a tentative smile.

She glared. “I know it sounds mad, but you have to believe me.”

“Well, Miss—”

“My name is Lora. And if we don’t do something, this rip will open big enough that who-knows-what might come through, or what from here will vanish!”

She escaped from a loony bin, most likely. Could he tactfully just back away, say he had some place to be?

She grabbed his arm, her brown eyes pleading. “We have to stop it!”

“Uh. . .how?” With chewing gum perhaps? he wanted to add, but he doubted facetiousness would be a good idea.

“I have a rift sealer in my apartment.” She hooked a thumb over her shoulder. “You keep an eye on the crack, I’ll run and get it.”

Unchecked appreciation of her figure as she ran toward a nearby building was not to be taken for granted. She glanced back, and he blushed, but no—likely she was just worried about the crack.

I’m an idiot if I just stand here. Self-consciously switching his weight from foot to foot, he looked around. A prank. His face flushed. She and her friends are probably watching from a window, laughing at me.

He walked backwards a few steps. I’ll just casually fade away. He glimpsed at the crack and stopped. It was bigger. He blinked. Power of suggestion. It’s really the same size, I’m just imagining it’s bigger.

But he stayed, stretching his hamstrings, as if he were just pausing to rest from his jog. His attention however, was drawn back to the crack despite himself. He didn’t think he had a very active imagination, but it was certainly in overdrive now because he would swear that crack was twice as large as it had been.

He squinted across the lawn to see Lora running toward him, cradling a contraption the size of an old boom box and made of heavy cardboard with several knobs, blinking lights, and analog dials, all held together with duct tape.

“I know it doesn’t look like much.” She came to a stop, breathing hard. “I had to cobble it together with what I had. I’ve been stranded here for quite some time.” She flashed a grin—white teeth in her pretty, dark face.

He smiled back at her, then kicked himself. He wasn’t going to get besotted over some whacko. Fortunately, his common sense kicked in. “Don’t tell me: you’re a time traveler.”

“Don’t be silly. That’s impossible. I just travel between dimensions, or did. I was, um, stranded here. I’ve been making do as best I can.” She tipped her head, the light emphasizing the angle of her eyebrows and her cheekbones. “And don’t be so cynical, it doesn’t suit you.”

Before he could frame an answer, she looked down at the pavement and frowned. “Oh dear, it is growing fast. You do see it now?”

With a non-committal shrug he offered, “Perhaps it’s just a trick of the light.”

“What, you can’t measure? It wasn’t as long as my hand when I left, and it’s longer than my foot now.” She set her sandaled foot—with cute toes, red polish—next to it. “See?”

He couldn’t deny it, but it didn’t mean he believed her story. “Well, can you fix it with your ‘machine’ there?”

“I think so, since it’s still so small.” She hoisted her gizmo and aimed the side with a cone-shape—he swore it was a cheap, kitchen funnel—at the crack.

The crack widened and emitted a definite bluish glow. Jack hissed an expletive and jumped back.

“Uh oh.” She turned off the machine, knelt, opened one end of the box, and rummaged inside. “I’m not much of a mechanic. And finding useable materials hasn’t been easy.”

Jack leaned forward to peek at what she was doing, but it was a jumble of wires and various electronic bits and pieces. Nothing made sense to him. Anyway, his job was to watch the crack so he did. It was bigger. Much bigger. He swore he could see it growing wider and longer every second. “Could you hurry?” His voice broke and he swallowed. Twice.

“Sorry, I can’t figure out what I did wrong.”

“Well, since you made it bigger, perhaps if you. . .reverse something?” He thought of an old television show he had watched. “Reverse the polarity—isn’t that what they always do?”

“Oh, yes! How clever.” She stared at the dials. “I did have the polarity reversed. Told you I’m not a mechanic.” She fiddled with a knob. “There.” She pointed it again, and the crack contracted then disappeared.

Lora rose, not quite gracefully as she still hefted the awkward armful of her homemade rift sealer. “Thank you.”

Jack found his voice after a few moments. “You, uh, do you seem to find very many cracks?”

“Not many, but this area is a weak spot, so I do try to watch for them. I have a rift detector.” She lifted her arm to show what appeared to be a bulky watch on her wrist.

Jack nodded, feeling like a bobble doll. Ten minutes ago he wouldn’t have believed her. “That’s. . .great.”

“I’m glad you were willing to stop.”

“Uh, glad I could be helpful.”

“Me, too.” She slowly grinned. “Want to go get a cup of coffee?”

Jack returned her smile. “Sure.”

~:~:~:~

(Available for download on Smashwords in e-pub, Kobi, and pdf.)

🙂