Sunday, June 30, 2013

Huckleberry Summer by Avery Cove

Huckleberry Summer by Avery Cove
Hot sun rays scorched every item of clothing Sam wore and the heat burned where it touched his skin. He swiped again at the sweat that rolled down his face as some trickled into his eyes. He blinked and squeezed his eyelids hoping to lessen the sting. He couldn’t take much more of this heat. He looked down the fence row where more bobbed wire needed tightening. Rip, his dog, sniffed the ground and chased the brown grasshoppers popping up from the grass not far from him.

Two steps down the fence row, he reached out and grabbed the wire gaging how much slack he needed to take up. A shrill scream echoed across the hills and valley. Sam jerked back his hand, his glove still hung on the barb. He bit back a cuss word and shook his hand. Blood ran across his fingers.

Another scream—fear jolted him from his pain. “Rip—load up!” After the second try at the ignition switch, the truck fired and Sam forced it into reverse. It bumped and rocked traveling as fast as it would go through the field. Rip barked as the truck climbed the hill. The screams sounded like they came from the back side of the old Duncan place. Charging over the last bump, he topped the hill and slid the truck to a standstill next to the fence. Standing in the middle of the saddest excuse for a garden stood a woman wielding a hoe. A blond ponytail bounced with every move.

Sam pushed open the door and jumped, Rip behind him.


She stood frozen to one spot. He grabbed the top of the fence and jump over it as Rip crawled underneath, ready for the chase. He bounded for the lady.

“Hey—lady!” Sam hollered, again. “You hurt—snake bit?”

She glanced up as the mutt loped through the grass heading her way. Winded Sam reached the edge of the garden. Facing him stood that woman—the one stranded on the side of the road—all culture and no country. Sam sucked in a hot breath. His new neighbor. Scrutinizing the terror in her eyes, he watched as she shuddered and scanned the ground and plants near her feet.

Now she glared at him. Ponytail no longer bobbed, but the most exquisite green eyes he could not have dreamed up flashed sheer annoyance. “What?”

Sam hesitated. “I said—are you hurt?”

She scowled recognizing the truck. “No. Do I look hurt?”

“Wasn’t that you who let out those bloodcurdling screams?”

She pulled in a deep breath, her shapely bosom evident in her pink cotton sundress. “I saw a snake!”

She had the grace to stare back toward the ground as her face reddened.

“God save me from silly females!” Sam yanked the remaining glove off his good hand and looked down at the blood spreading across his fingers on his other one. He wiped the sweat from his brow with the arm of his t-shirt. “Woman—if you are afraid of everything that crawls in these hills, you’d better pack up and head back to whatever city you came from!”

Smarting from his accusations, she twisted her head back in his direction. “How dare you!” You drive across My property and shout at me for no reason. I did not ask or need to be rescued! What time-warp century did you come from?”

Abashed, he frowned. His dog was now at her feet, wagging his tail and looking up at her adoringly.
“Point taken.” His sweat and blood stung his hand.

“Come on Rip.” Slinging the dripping blood from his injured fingers, Sam turned and marched back to his vehicle with Rip at his heels. Sam tipped his head at the woman, offered up his juvenile behavior by stomping on the gas pedal. He spun his truck around, almost grazing her fence, then bounced across the ruts as he tore down the hill. 

“Oooh!” She kicked a dirt clod with the toe of her sandal. The hard soil did not budge. A cry of pain escaped her lips. She threw down the hoe, grabbed her throbbing big toe, lost her balance, and then fell squarely on her butt. “Ouch!” A small vapor of dust completed her humiliation. Why couldn’t I have a kindly old man for a neighbor—not a blue-eyed jackass!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Gaming Challenge--Dead Man's Law by Mariah Ambersan

From Dead Man's Law, a wip by Mariah Ambersan
            “My son?” Erebos’s smug words slid out of the dark and over Sam, mocking him. That oily voice plucked at Sam’s senses like a maestro playing a poisoned harp. The sound alone taunted everything inside him to fury until every sensation sang in hate. “Such a magnificent son, so full of great and terrible promise.” The voice cooed from behind his ear, cooling the nape of his neck. A claw ran across the breadth of his shoulders. Sam felt like a stud at auction. Any second people would start shouting out prices. That infuriated him, more so than the fact he’d been chained to the foot her statue, like some misbehaved dog waiting for its mistress to come home.
Sam snapped his elbow back at the voice, praying to connect. He wanted nothing more in that moment than to feel bone breaking under his blow. Instead the chain rattled merrily stopping him. “Of course you’re mine. Everything you are in this existence is because of me.” The voice drifted around him.
            Oh yeah, and didn't he know it, and never in a thousand years would Sam ever forgive him. Erebos was the one who killed Haven and Seth. The one behind all of this, the one responsible for the hell Sam was in. It made his blood seethe.
 Sam turned towards the voice and hissed venomously. “I’ll rip everything you have built down. Every heartbeat and every breath I have in me will be just to destroy you.”  The silence filled with righteous intent. Sam wouldn't simply kill him he would obliterate everything about all of them. No more innocent people would die.
The dark quieted until all Sam could hear was his own harsh breathing. The vampire had gone still. Like a shark in a night time ocean Sam had no idea where the killer in the dark would strike next, and it could be from literally anywhere.
“Do you mean the heart that beats, pulsing from my blood and the newborn breath that you gasped when you woke in the dark four days ago?  The ones that dwell there still, full from the night air and my power? Is that the beat and breath you’re talking about? The ones I gave you?”
Invisible fingers caught his chin and held Sam’s face in a vise. Sam held his ground, refusing to be cowed or back down. Although he couldn't see him in the dark he knew Erebos stood right in front of him and Sam wanted him to see all the hate he felt.
The touch turned gentle.
Sam blinked.
Cold fingers cupped his cheek. Sam fought not to jerk his head away from the disconcerting touch. The sudden switch unsettled him but he wasn't about to give the vampire the satisfaction of seeing him flinch.
My blood and my breath gave you life, my words gave you a name. You are more mine than any mortal man who you knew before.”
Blue bloomed in the darkness before his eyes as the vampire let himself be seen. Darkness parted in swirls giving way to the diaphanous light all vampires had. Erebos stood nose to nose with Sam, his dark eyes were so stark against the glow they looked like bullet holes in an electric ghost.  
Sam couldn't look away if he’d tried.
“I am your father.”
Erebos slid his hand to the back of Sam’s neck and leaned down until their foreheads touched.
“Thanatos you are my son. Don’t you remember me?”
The words wormed their way into his soul and twisted to take root.
            My Son.
            I am your father.
            Remember me.
            Something blurred in Sam’s mind. Another dark eyed man with a bright smile faded at the edges of his conscience.
            Who was that? He seemed important somehow. The energy surging though him faltered and Sam’s body sagged, dizziness sent the world spinning on a cockeyed axis. The blue god in front of him held him tenderly while Sam reeled.
            Father? Did dad always glow?
            Sam stared into the dark eyes fighting to place what was wrong. Yeah he did, but it’s wrong somehow. His gaze dropped to the Blue God’s chest. The glow was always there and it was a different color.
            A niggle of memory shimmered like a fish in dark water. A glimpse of brilliant gold on black. That’s right it’s gold not blue. The memory solidified into a shield glowing in the setting sun.
            A badge?
            His dad’s badge on his uniform!
             The ghostly man of his memory erupted into full glorious color. His father stood leaning against the Challenger. He’d come home from work and he’d turned to smile at Sam just as the sun set. The light had caught his shield and his dad’s badge looked like his heart was on fire against the black police uniform. It was Sam’s best memory of him.
            Sam’s stare locked onto the one across from him.
Indescribable anger arced through Sam’s mind swallowing what remained of his rationality whole.
 He’s trying to hypnotize me into forgetting my father.
Rage unlike anything he’d ever known exploded through him. It pounded his heart and sent all the muscles in his body surging. Snarling, Sam lunged at Erebos. The sharp rasping ring of metal scraping against the marble behind him barely registered in his heated brain.
“You’re not my father you sick prick!”  Sam reached the end of his chain, the sudden loss of slack jerked his attack short.  The heavy iron cut into his wrists, and still he fought forward. He knew he couldn't break the iron holding him there, but that didn't stop him from trying.
The blue winked out and the void rushed in all around him again.
In the dark behind him the smug voice chuckled. “Such a pity we were so close to bonding too. I’d rather you came to me Thanatos, but I understand. Just like I understand change can be difficult and parents have to be firm with wayward children.”  The chain on his left wrist dipped slightly. “Well, I suppose we’ll have to do things the hard way then.”  It was all the warning he got. The chain shot backwards through the rings in the statues base.
Sam’s arm nearly popped from their socket from the force and he flew across the room like a kite in a tornado.
Sam cracked his head against the marble and crashed his teeth together. Blood gushed in his mouth bittersweetly. Must have bit my tongue. Owww. He ran his tongue across his teeth, a flap caught and tugged painfully. Yep nashed it good. Although it did kind of feel nice. A traitorous moan rumbled past his clenched teeth.
Sam’s eyes shot open.
No! His heart screamed at his fading mind.
What he needed to bring him back to himself wasn't there. The hurt that should have shocked him slipped away, edging into ecstasy instead. His ethereal thoughts circled the horrible truth in vanishing motes that became harder and harder to focus on through the giddiness swirling around his head.  The sun had set and Nyx’s hold over him had returned. He was out of time. There was no way he could fight Erebos and Nyx at the same time. She’d be here any minute.
The pain swam in euphoric waves that rolled his eyes up into his skull.
She’s getting closer.
Sam screwed his eyes shut, vainly trying to block out the feeling.  His last threads of sanity thrashed for anything to save itself from the sinking darkness.
“Tell you what. Let’s wager for it, Dad. Let’s play a game, if I win you unchain me and I go free for the night. If you win.” Sam spat blood on the floor and took a deep breath. “Well then you win. I’ll come willingly.”  Nausea twisted Sam’s gut to say those words.
Suddenly the vampire was there again, his evil firefly light filling the space before the statue in sickening shades of blue. The smirk on his face unmistakable. He had the vampires undivided attention.
“What kind of wager?”

Monday, June 10, 2013

Gaming Challenge--Daughter of the Dragon by Connie Crow

Daughter of the Dragon
by Connie Crow

            Leonid Chaikov rubbed a clammy hand across his mouth and tugged on his great, grey beard. His cards wouldn't change, no matter how long he stared. He crushed them together and glanced around the tiny mountain shack. The bare studs of the interior offered no encouragement. The raw planks and barren cabin looked as bleak as his poker hand. He thumbed them open. No luck. Still the same stinkin' cards "Two pair. Two lousy pair."
            "Come on, Chaikov. I ain't got all day. You gonna see my hand or not?" The voice from across the table grated in his ears. Turning to face the voice, he stared into merciless, beady eyes, glinting across the table. How had he ever allowed himself to get into a card game with Hargrave and Armitage? Sun Lee would have his hide if he lost their mine to the card shark and his 'go-fer'.
            "Shut up, Hargrave. It's my mine I'm putting on the table."
            The hint of a smile snaked across Hargrave's angular face. He leaned back, tipping his chair onto its back legs. "That it is, Chaikov, that it is. You take all the time you want, 'cause when we get done, it's all gonna be mine."
            Hargrave's face set into its ever-present sneer. He jerked upright. The chair hit the floor with a resounding thud. Chaikov jumped at the sound, then settled into his own rickety seat. An unintelligible grunt escaped his lips. The cards, made thick by too many sweaty fingers from too many poker games, refused to budge. He held them toward the flickering lamplight and shook his head. No matter what he did, all he could see was two pair, with a Jack kicker. A shudder shook the big man's frame-- a shudder out of place on this stifling August night. Oh well, he couldn't cover his marker in the pot now. It was all or nothing at this point.
            He smoothed the precious paper lying on the table. Picking up the pencil stub beside him, he scrawled his name on the front, endorsing the deed. Caressing it gently between his fingers, he finally stretched out his hand and deposited the document atop the pile of coins in the table's center. He brushed the other documents lying by the coins.  " I'll call. I'm putting the deed to the mine down. And I'll see your hand."
            Chaikov glared across the table, keeping his hand firmly on the two papers.
            Hargrave's smile widened. "I'll be glad to show it to you. Read 'em and weep, Chaikov."
Hargrave stood up, spreading his cards on the worn tabletop. "Three pretty Queens lined up beside a pair of Jacks. A full house, Chaikov."
            He leaned forward, pressing his palms of the table. Eye-to-eye, his hissed, "Show me better, if you got it."
            Chaikov's shoulders sagged. He pulled his hand back and turned his cards face up. "You got me beat. My two pair won't take that." His heart sank. He'd lost it--lost the Golden Dragon Mine. Sun Lee would never forgive him--and she was such a good daughter. Since her mother's death, she'd loaded dirt and worked with him like a trouper. What could he say to her? He buried his face in his hands.
            A strangled sound, coming from the third player in this unholy card game caught his attention. He glanced at Armitage, who'd been in the game at the beginning. Seeing Armitage's face, he looked back at the cards. "What's wrong with you, Rat Face? You look like you just seen a ghost?"
            "Oh, nothing, nothing at all!"
            Hargrave threw Armitage a withering glance. "Nothing's wrong, Chaikov. You just lost a mine, that's all. I'll be takin' my winnings."
            Chaikov's huge arm stopped Hargrave's sweep of the table "Just a minute." His hand shot out, scooping up Armitage's cards. "I want to see these."
            Hargrave tried in vain to stop him. "You can't do that."
            Chaikov held the third hand in his huge fist and shook it slowly in Hargrave's face. "I just did." He spread the cards on the table between the other two hands. A pair of jacks peaked out of Armitage's hand. An icy chill settled over the three men. Chaikov stood, towering over the others. He glared at the winner. "It's your deck, Hargrave. Since when does a poker deck have five Jacks?"
            "Ah, I. . ." Hargrave searched for words, his eye murderous thunderclouds, threatening to drown Armitage for his mistake.
            "Never mind." Chaikov reached for the pieces of paper. "I'll be takin' the deeds."
            Hargrave swung toward him "No!"
            Chaikov's hand dropped to his gun. "Yes, I will."  He was too slow. As his hand touched holster leather, he felt a searing pain in his chest, and instant before he heard the crack of a derringer. It was the last sound he ever heard. He clutched at his chest, trying to stop the pain exploding inside, trying to cover the hole exposing his lung. He couldn't breathe. Darkness eroded his vision, leaving him only a glimpse of the deeds on the table. With a dying gasp, he lunged toward the shadow.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Gaming--Time to report in

just one of the possibilities for our new logo!

It's time again, my dearest ones,
to post pages wrote since last we met.
New work in progress counts I need,
as well, edits of words already set.

So leave a comment down below
whether pages one, or an octet,
report those written words right now
and to your team be an asset!

The guru waits, hands clasped tight,
ignoring now the game croquette.
To add the numbers once again,
she does not want to act the soubrette*

Do comment now,
lest you forget,
for well you know
if not--a threat.

Play it loud upon the musette,
write it in the local gazette
no wait, only here, you bet
will page counts I accept.
After all--'tis kismet.

~ * ~

Got that? Comment below with your newly written page count and/or your heavily edited page counts. If you post anonymously, please leave your name in the post. I'm not a mind reader, you know. :)

*do you know what this word means--without looking it up? Let me know in the comments.