Thursday, October 27, 2016

Woman in the Woods

It was nearly dusk and he was completely turned around on the forest trails. He hoped he was going in the direction of the cabin. After a few more minutes walk he could hear the  soft swoosh of water rushing over rocks.
His lungs took a calming breath and let it go slowly. There wasn't a creek anywhere near the cabin. He was lost. The canteen was almost empty, he should fill it while he had the  chance.
With the sky turning a pinkish gold overhead he made his way off the trail toward the soft splashing sounds. As he moved closer a soft voice humming blended into the sounds of the creek. Maybe another hiker and he wasn't as lost as he thought.
He stepped through the brush toward the song to the rocky edge of the creek. His hand gripped a hanging tree limb to keep his footing on the moss slickened stones as he picked his way along the edge. He kneeled on a flat rock and watched bubbles float upward as he held the canteen below the water line.
The bubbles calmed as the last of the air was replaced with refreshing cool liquid. He capped the canteen and cupped his hands to scoop up a drink and bathe his face and neck. As his hands dipped under a face appeared in the water not his own.
With an unmanly yip he jumped back and looked behind him. No one was there. He sighed and shook his head. "I've been out in the sun too long today."
As he stood the humming became louder, clearer. He turned and saw a young redheaded woman, she sat on the rocks at the creek edge with a washboard.
He blinked, was she there before? Maybe he was just too tired from the long walk to notice. He watched her pick up a large bar of soap and rub it up and down the board as she continued her song, seemingly oblivious to his presence.
She had to live near by. "Excuse me.... Miss?"
She picked up a shirt from her basket and started to scrub up and down over the washboard. He stepped forward and lost traction on the damp stones. He hit the ground  hard enough to see stars. His eyes watered with the ache in his head as he sat up.
The woman had stopped her song and now looked at him as she turned the shirt and continued to scrub. She turned back to her work as she spoke. "Does it hurt?"
He rubbed the back of his head. "Not really, I think I just showed how much of a city boy  I am." His lips curled in a soft grin. "I'm completely turned around on these trails. Do you live near the campground?"
She glanced up for a moment then rinsed the shirt in the creek and examined it carefully. In the dying light he could see the white shirt was still stained. She sighed and began to  scrub it up and down the board again. "I live in the wood."
He raised a brow at the short answer. Maybe she was one of those Rainbow People he was always being told to be cautious of. They traveled to different areas sometimes camping out in the forest like a wild hippy commune. Maybe she her family was a bunch of cannibal axe murderers on the run or weird apocalypse get back to nature groupies.
If he was lucky she had a phone and he could call for help before she went all Blair Witch on him. "It must be nice to live out here in the quiet. Could I use your land line to call someone to pick me up? My cell is useless out here and I am totally lost on these  trails."
She continued to push and pull the cloth over the board. "There is no phone."
His spine tingled as he moved closer to her, more carefully over the rocks this time. He  made a silent promise to pay more attention to signs and maps next time if hiked. "There's no phone? Could you give me a ride back to camp? I'll be glad to pay you for the gas and trouble. I'm sure you get a lot of lost hikers up here."
She held up the shirt, in the dying light, the dark stain glistened. He thought it looked larger than it had before. The woman seemed satisfied as if it should be worse not better."You're not lost, Thomas." She began to sing a little louder this time as she worked the cloth once more.
He swallowed, how did she know his name. He rubbed his arms as gooseflesh covered them and chill filled him to the bone. "I really need to get out of the woods, my friends are going to wonder where I am. Is there someone that can give me a ride to camp or town?"
The woman's lips curled ever so slightly. "Soon, he will come for you, Thomas."
She stood her hair flowing around her as she turned and pointed. "Don't worry so, you're not lost."
Thomas felt a knot of fear in his throat as he gazed down the line of her finger. His knees felt weak as he walked back to where he had slipped. He looked down at his own face, eyes open, blankly staring at the rising moon. Blood still glistening covered the rock beneath his head. "No... this... isn't real."
She put a dainty blood speckled hand on his shoulder. "Some fairy tales are very real, Thomas."
His chest rose and fell rapidly, his pulse beating in his ears. "Who is coming for me?"
She turned and picked up her basket with its bounty of stained clothing from those she had called for today. Silently she stepped back into the wood disappearing from sight.
He looked up and down the rocky bank as hoof beats began to fill the empty night air. Thomas stood frozen at the sight of the black coach drawn by a demon horse with red eyes. As the coach drew near he could hear the woman singing again. Only now the soft  sweet song had turned into a wail.

  1. C. Lee McKenzie Beautiful
  2. Erica Damon Penance'
  3. J. Q. Rose Sorry
  4. Elise VanCise Lady In The Woods
  5. Barbara Lund Spooky Space
  6. Angela Wooldridge Quiet Neighbours
  7. Katharina Gerlach Australian Dream
  8. Karen Lynn The Waves at Midnight
  9. Sherri Conway Ants
  10. Elizabeth McCleary Over James Henry Wilcox Dead Body
  11. Canis Lupus The Picture
  12. Peg Fisher All In the Fall, a Fractured Fairytale
  13. Bill Bush Trapped
  14. Benjamin Thomas Autumn Cascade
  15. Crystal Collier Emily’s Ghost
  16. Viola Fury 911

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Old Lady Creeper's Meat Pies

“What do we do now? You told me nothing could go wrong and look what’s happened.” Kurt pushed and  
shook the basement doors again. “We’ll just go in and get the ball, he said, nothing will happen, he said, the old lady isn’t even home, he said.” 

Pete gave his friend a shove. “Shut up! It’s not my fault the wind blew the doors shut.” He gave the other boy another shove to the side. “Stop acting like a baby, they probably just need a good shot of elbow grease.”

Kurt scoffed, “Yeah, my sister can bench press more than you in weight class.”

Pete gave him an evil eye, then rubbed his hands together and pushed on the cellar doors. When they didn’t give he put his back into it, added a grunt or two for good measure. The doors rattled a bit but didn’t budge.

Pete looked to Kurt panic started to rise in both the boys. “Holy crap, Kurt! We’re gonna die down here!”

Kurt swallowed, then stomped his foot. He wasn’t going to end up in one of Old Lady Creeper’s meat pies. “Shut up, Pete.”

After a few panted breaths of musty basement air, Kurt squinted as he tried to see in the dark. “There’s got to be another way out of here. We never see the old hag leave ‘cept to go to the Piggly Wiggly.”

Pete started to search with him, both boys took a tentative step further into the dark room. He swallowed. “Do you think this is where she stores the bodies? You know… the ones for the pies.”

Kurt gulped hard and elbowed his pal in the side. “Don’t be stupid, that stuff is just stories to scare kids like us.”

They took a few more steps into the dark, Kurt squinted again and peered into the dark corner. “Hey, it’s the ball.” He ran over and picked it up. “Pete, here’s stairs. We can get out of here before Old Lady Creeper gets home.”

Pete yelped when his hand hit the edge of a worktable. His hands crept along the surface. “Yeah, I’m too young to be a pie.”

He took another few steps, his hands felt along the table for guidance. A box turned over onto his hands and he froze in place. “K..kKurt…. “

Kurt was done with this freaky place, the old lady would be home soon. She’d call his parents, he would get grounded and miss the carnival this weekend. “Come on, stop being a baby.”

He walked over to Pete and grabbed at the items that lay over his friend’s hands. It felt…. No, it couldn’t be…

The sun had started to shift and shine into the tiny filth smudged window. Kurt held up one of thet hings. He swallowed hard and started to tremble as his gaze fell on a skeletal hand. Kurt dropped the hand as Pete joined him in a high-pitched girly scream.

They ran full steam to the basement doors the force unjammed them. When the double doors flew open, they ran for the closest house, the boys emitted that girly scream all the way.

Mrs. Caraway walked down the stairs taking care with her bad hip. When she reached the bottom, the old dear gave out a long breath of relief. She set her Piggly Wiggly woven market bag by the deep freeze and looked over at the worktable.

There were skeletal remains scattered over the surface. With a deep sigh, she walked over and started to clean up the mess. She dropped a skull into the box on top of a witch’s hat and pumpkin tablecloth. “Damn kids, always getting in here and making a mess of my holiday decorations. Maybe I should start putting more mince pies on the window sill.”

Monday, September 26, 2016

Stand up for Your Right To Read!

Happy Banned Books Week 2016! One of my favorite weeks of the year. It's like a license to be bad reading all those books that have been banned, challenged, and protested through the year and all of literary history.

The theme the American Library Association has chosen this year is Stand Up for Your Right to Read. The theme encourages you to express your first amendment rights regarding reading and writing about whatever you want. It is a freedom that we often take for granted, something we don't
think about every day.

By challenging a book's right to be shelved in a school, library, or even a bookstore that person or group is challenging the First Amendment which gives us the right free speech. That doesn't mean we have to agree with or even like every item in our local library's catalog.

There may be something in there that offends you deeply but there are other items that you check out over and over again. As the saying goes "a great library will have something in it that offends everyone."

If every book challenged had successfully been banned the loss of great literature would be staggering. Your children would never grow up sharing the adventures of a stuffed bear and his piglet pal, never chase after a white rabbit or explore the wonders of Middle Earth. You wouldn't find out if that guy really had ties in 50 shades of grey or what happens to the young lovers Romeo and Juliet.

These stories and more are in our libraries today because someone stood up for their right to read them. This week reminds us that we can make a difference every day by showing support for the stories we love and are important to our lives.

Here are 5 ways you can celebrate Banned Books Week and Stand Up for Your Right to Read
1. Go to download the banners and social media avatars, then plaster your profiles with them.
2. Check out the lists of books that have been banned/challenged last year and share it with a friend.
3. Visit your local library or bookstore and check out the displays for Banned Books Week.
4. Check out /Buy a banned book and read it this week.
5. Read ande banned and challenged books all year long.

This week I'm reading Blood and Chocolate by annette Curtis Klause and The Immortal Life of Henretta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.

How are you going to celebrate Banned Books Week?

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Review: Project Kid: Crafts That Go!

This is a wonderful book for librarians, teachers, moms, and caretakers. All of the projects in Project Kid: Crafts That Go! come with a complete list of tools and materials. Most of the tools and materials will be used for each of the crafts, which can save time and money when planning a series of crafts for a class or story time. Each craft can also be adjusted for the age/skill level of the crafter/s.

Directions for each project are simple to follow with photos to illustrate the steps.  The book is well organized and full of colorful photos that make it enjoyable to work with.

Definitely a book for every librarian, teachers or parent’s shelf for project fun. Caesar gives Project Kid; Crafts that Go! a thumbs up in the Gladiator's Pen arena. 

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Ketching up with K-U for Blogging from A to Z with One Word/60 Seconds

This is going to be a multi-letter post starting with K for Ketching up. I know I know it's not
supposed to be spelled like that but hey, making up words worked for Shakespeare. :)

The following Ketching-up entries will be from my One Word/60 Second list. What's One Word you ask? Well, it's actually a fantastic site You are given a single word with a 60-second timer. You are to write as fast as you can what that one word inspires. It's a great way to warm up your muse or even shake a bit of writer's block. Maybe even get a good story starter or prompt to save for later. Okay, now I'm going to Ketch-up, I hope you enjoy the following OneWord/60 Second entries. 

Instead of staking out the local chop shop he could be out with Gina, or Lola. Oh yeah, Lola. He popped the lid off his coffee and tossed it onto the dash with the rest of the night's collection. Maybe this one wouldn't taste like used oil.

After seven hours of crap coffee and no action, he watched the sleek sedan pull up to the garage door. The detective took a tentative sip and sighed as a big man stepped out of the car and straightened his coat, the hood he’d been looking for. He regretfully tossed the first decent cup of java all night out the window and flipped on the flashing lights. At least his wasn't the only date night to get ruined. 

M- Mystery 
The clatter of a coffee cup being set on the desk brought his attention from the files long enough to grunt thanks. This was one hell of a mystery, he had no idea where to start the search for this dame's sister. She was like smoke in fog, and he was one puzzled gumshoe.

The gun trembled slightly in his hand, this was his first day in uniform on patrol. The leather of his new holster still shiny. He was supposed to be sitting in the coffee shop eating donuts not in the middle of a face-off with a gang punk and an AK pointed at his head.

Have some optimism, there’s a silver lining to every dark cloud. That’s what my mother would say when we were frightened of the creatures in the dark. She couldn’t see them so she didn’t think they existed. Even now as I cower under the covers, a grown woman I find myself whispering those words. Could there really be a silver lining to the dark shadow looming over my bed?

Looking down he saw a wooden panel loose on the desk. The jutting corner begging for discovery. Gently he pried at it with the tip of a pin. The panel fell to the floor revealing a compartment. Reaching inside he pulled out a diary, the first line read…. “My God,what have I done?”

The room was quiet but for the sound of water dripping from the corner. It was dark and damp, smelled like dirt, a basement maybe. She twisted and pulled at the ropes on her wrists. A sound from the corner made her pause. Scratch.. scratch...the rustle of paper or maybe cloth then a large rat ran across her feet. She gasped and wiggled her feet as much as the ropes would let her. There wasn't much time left, she worked harder and managed to loosen the knots just enough. Her hands trembled and pulled furiously on the other bonds until the door creaked and a sliver of light crept toward her. He was back.

A routine day in the shop was all I wanted. Just a normal unbothered day of customers, dusting antiques, and inventory. Until the crate arrived, until I opened it. The contents would change everything I knew. No more routine days in the shop.

This part of the jogging path was secluded from the park. Usually, she enjoyed her run in the quiet of the night, but something about the thick copse of trees on each side made her feet move just a bit faster. She felt eyes bore into her back as she broke out into a full run. Her breath panted harder as footsteps began to echo hers from behind. They were getting faster, closer. She didn't dare glance back. Run just run, she told her feet, and they might make it out alive.

The door slammed shut, he could hear the bolt slide into place. "Damn." There was always a reason those mysterious notes say come alone. It was a trap, his gut was right instinct had been right but he came anyway. Now he had two options, wait for his captor to kill him or search for escape.

U- Unplanned  
He stepped back and gazed at the blood spattered on the wall. The victim had been removed but evidence of his violent death was painted dark red across the wall like a high gloss white canvas. The pattern of spray and dots seemed geometric, a kind of unplanned art. Or was it? Maybe the killer fancied himself Monet or Van Gogh. Maybe Dali, the bastard was definitely mad. 

There we go all Kaught up. Oh, you really didn't think I'd stop with Ketch did ya? :D Now it's your turn to try a muse wake up with One Word. Pick one of these words above and time yourself writing for 60 seconds. What did you get? 

Jailbreak: an excerpt from Outlaw Born

Ben growled and pulled at his bonds. He wouldn’t hang here, on some ranch in the corner of Arizona. It was a jail, a nicer furnished one but a jail the same. Ben Mason was a decorated soldier of the Union Army. A man with more honor than Hammond and his Pinkertons could muster in a finger. The fact Ben was now wanted for robbery and murder aside.

 The wooden chair creaked with his efforts, it wasn’t a stout chair. Ben rocked forward onto his feet and fell back to the legs of the chair. He took a breath and rocked again, this time catching his balance. 

Ben stood stooped tied to the chair. “Well, this is effort rewarded, now what?” He raised his head as far as he could as he looked for something to free him. Nothing useful came to sight and his time was close to run out.

Standing like this he could see through the window and the horizon as it began to show color.

With a sigh, he shifted the chair on his back and pushes off the floor falling backwards hard. The old chair split apart, without the structure the ropes fell loose around his body.

Ben groaned and rubbed his scarred shoulder, which took the brunt of the fall. It took a moment for him to untangle his body from the mess. A moment too long, the door creaked open and one of the Pinkertons stepped in.

“What the hell?” He opened his coat and started to draw his weapon.

Ben grabbed a broken leg of the chair and swung at the man’s gun hand. The half-drawn weapon clattered to the floor. Ben swung the wooden leg back as the Pink tried to dive for it.

The wood connected knocking the other man unconscious. Ben watched the Pink collapse on the floor as he picked up the gun. He peered out the window to see four other Pinkertons busy with preparations for his hanging.

Ben moved into the bedroom and looked out the window for any others. It was clear. “One thing you can count on is a Pink being over confident.”

He quietly jumped out of the window, crouched and made his way to the corner of the house. Ben searched any sign of his men. He eased closer along the side of the house.

Charlie and Dawson were tied up next to what was left of the barn. The bastards had burnt it down for entertainment. Smoke and embers were all that remained of the building now. Ben used the smoke as cover to get to the men.

Charlie spun his head at the sound of burnt wood cracking under foot. He relaxed at the sight his friend. “Ben, they’ll be back soon. They’ve got plans…”

Ben nodded as he examined the knots; he needed to cut them free. “They’re busy craftin my noose.”

Dawson glanced out to keep watch as Ben worked. The men felt the ropes give way. Charlie grinned as he rubbed his forearms. “Let’s get the hell out of here, boss.”

Ben nodded to him. “You know where to go.”  He checked the chamber of the Pinkerton’s revolver. Six bullets, there would be no room to miss. Ben could feel Charlie and Dawson at his back as he started to move toward his goal.

He waited a long time to get Hammond in his sight. He wasn’t about to spoil the only shot he may get at the man. “Go, Charlie, get Dawson out of here, I’ve unfinished business.” 

Outlaw Born is a novel in progress this is a little taste of the tale. You can read the first chapters on Watpad. 
About Outlaw Born
The war forced Ben Mason into long separations from family and set him on the battlefield against brothers. His luck left him more often than it came to him. He fought through it all to rid himself of the tarnished name given to him by his father and return home safe to his family. 

What he finds forces him to realize his battle has only just begun. When the law fails to offer justice, Ben embraces the legacy he had fought so hard to escape. Blood is the only path when you're Outlaw Born.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Ides of March

It was dark in the alley, the perfect cover to watch for him. The club across the street was alive with music, lights and people. Maybe she should go in… no,  he would come out. She just had to wait.

It was damp and cold after the evening rains, but, nothing she couldn’t stand. There had been too much planning done already to waste the moment. It had to be done tonight. Suffering a bit of cold would be worth it in the end.

Loud music flooded the street when the club’s doors were flung open. There he was, that was him. He walked out alone, no tramp hanging off of him like so many others who had left before him.

He walked into the parking lot next to the club, paid no attention to the rest of the world around him. 

When he paused to light a cigarette she grinned. It was him, he was perfect. She walked over to the lot and smiled at him.

He smiled back. “Good evening.”

She didn’t reply, mustn’t seem so anxious. She walked over to her car she let go of a frustrated sigh as she gazed at her rear tire. “Damn it, not now…”

She sat her purse on the roof before she moved to the back of the car and opened the trunk.  She leaned inside and pulled out the jack and walked around to the flat tire.

He walked over and grinned. “Have a flat, can I give you a hand? No sense in a beautiful woman getting all greasy.”

She laughed and smiled back. “Thanks, I really appreciate it. I’m a serious girl with this stuff.”

He grinned and slid the jack under the edge of the car. “I’ll say you forgot a part. Do you mind if I look in your trunk for the tire iron?”

“No, go ahead. See I told you I have no idea what I’m doing there.”  She grinned then shifted to accentuate her ample form for him.

He smiled and walked around to the trunk. He pulled his eyes from hers and looked in. The iron was way in the back. He had to bend half into the trunk to reach it.

She watched and waited until both his hands were inside the trunk. Quickly, she moved to him and sank a needle into the back of his neck. Her thumb pushed the plunger as she glanced around, to make sure there were no other eyes on them.

In  seconds, he slumped, collapsed half into the trunk. She grinned as she tossed the needle inside then hefted the rest of him. 

For just a moment she paused and looked down at her victim. The rest of the night would be spent in blood as she has done since the betrayal. None leave her now. He will be hers tonight and in the morning, she will bury him near the others. “Beware the Ides of March.”