Monthly Archives: April 2016

PROMPTLY PENNED ~ APRIL

It’s promptly penned time again. Now, despite my determination to always use the prompt in the first lines.. this one is just a setup.. it’s not really a useable prompt… it’s a conspiracy, I know. Anyway, here is the prompt and here is the resulting flash fiction…no idea what’s going to get written on the page, folks, but… let’s have a look.

You stumble upon old home videos of you and your siblings as toddlers. Nostalgia fades when you realize something isn’t quite right.

Promptly Penned

“No.”

Sarah Lewis cringed. She knew that tone. Once Jory made up his mind about something, the man rarely changed it.

She crossed her arms over her chest, hitching out one hip. “Jory—”

“You know how I feel about watching that stuff.”

She sighed, walking over to where he leaned against the door. “And I wouldn’t normally ask, but you know it’s for the ceremony. They want some footage of dad outside of his military career, and that’s the only stuff I have access to. Some of the few items that haven’t been lost or destroyed.”

Jory huffed. “The man’s been dead for twenty years. Why now?”

“You ask me like I know. It’s the military. They didn’t explain. They just demanded. And with mom the way she is…”

Jory looked away. Sarah knew their mother’s condition was a sore spot with Jory. Especially with him being a doctor. Something about watching his mother succumb to a disease he couldn’t fix affected her brother on a level Sarah hadn’t witnessed before. Regardless that Jory was a trauma surgeon, not a infectious disease specialist. Hell, no one seemed to know what was wrong with their mother. Just that she was dying and there wasn’t much anyone could do. No treatment that seemed to work.

She palmed his shoulder. “We’ll be quick. I’ve already gone through two of the videos. There’s nothing useable on either one. Dad’s hardly in them at all.”

“He was hardly ever here. I don’t know why you think he’d be on any of those films.”

She did her best not to react to the anger colouring his words, not when she’d spent her life watching him try to be the man of the house. To pick up the pieces every time their dad left on an assignment, only to be relegated back to a kid once the man had returned. Until he hadn’t. She’d only been five at the time, and Jory had seemed so old to her, then. Ten going on thirty.

“I know it wasn’t easy growing up—”

“Easy? The man chose his career over us. Over everything. Never once stopped to care that mom cried herself to sleep every damn night for the first month whenever he went away. He made a vow, Sarah. It should have meant more to him than just a place to keep his damn boots when he deemed it convenient. Family isn’t convenient.”

“And that’s why you’re going to be an amazing father. Meg’s a lucky lady. Trust me, I know. I can’t find a guy to stick around for longer than a few weeks.” She gave him a nudge. “Face it, bro. Men like you are an endangered species.”

He snorted, some of the tension easing from his shoulders. “Fine. One video, but that’s all. And you’d better have a case of beer.”

“Since when have I ever asked you to help me out without the aid of alcohol?”She placed her hand on her chest. “That hurts, big brother.”

“Brat.”

He headed for the sofa, settling on the grey material as she detoured to the kitchen, grabbing a six pack out of the fridge. She glanced around the kitchen. Soon, she’d be standing in the room, deciding what to keep and what to get rid of. Which memories meant the most to her.

She shoved aside the painful thoughts, walking back to the living room. She gave her brother a bottle, twisting her cap off as she settled beside him. He gave her a playful kick like he used to do when they were kids then nodded at the television.

She took a swig, allowing the cool liquid to ease the sudden dryness in her throat as she pressed a couple buttons on the remote. The unit flashed to life, flickering nothing but static for a few seconds before her brother’s image filled the screen.

She laughed. “Damn, you had big ears back then. Thank Christ you grew into them.”

He stuck his tongue out at her, pointing to her younger self as she appeared on the footage. “At least I had hair. I can’t believe you let mom chop all of yours off.”

“Pretty damn sure there was no ‘letting’ involved. I was all of two.”

She smiled as the movie played on. A rare moment with them all together in the yard, with laughter that actually sounded genuine. Their dad appeared halfway through the video, the line of his jaw so much like Jory’s Sarah had to place her hand over her mouth to keep it shut. Damn, her brother could have been the man’s twin.

Of course, that’s where the similarities ended. Jory was compassionate. Loyal. The only person she knew she could honestly say had never let her down. Had always been there when he’d promised—stood up for her when no one else would. Sure, her mom had tried, but after their dad had died, the woman had never quite been the same. As if a part of her had been taken away.

She frowned. Even watching the home movies, it had never seemed as if her mom had loved her dad to the point she’d mourned his death as much as she had. A reason why she’d allowed it to dictate the next twenty years of her life.

The screen turned black. She sighed. Shit, she hadn’t really been paying enough attention over the last several minutes to know if there’d been any good footage. Sure, her dad had been in the frame, but…

Jory leaned forward. “We done?”

She glared at him. “God forbid you stay an extra minute. Just…”

Her voice faded as the screen flashed back to life, some garbled voices sounding before the images stabilized. She stared at the footage, watching an even younger version of her mom smile for the camera.

Jory nudged her. “What’s this?”

“I have no idea. I’ve never seen it before. The couple of times we ever watched that movie, mom always turned it off.” She smiled when a small boy bounced across the frame. “Oh my god. Is that you?”

“Guess so. Shit, I can’t be more than four.”

“Which means I wasn’t even born yet.”

Jory laughed as the camera panned back, revealing a swaddled bundle of pink in their mother’s arms. “Correction. You were brand new. Bet you had that smell and everything.”

“Wow. I wonder why mom never showed us this. I’ve never seen any pictures or videos of me before I was five. It’s like I just appeared on the doorstep.”

Jory gave her a playful shove. “Trust me. You were there from the start. I…”

His mouth kept moving for a moment but nothing came out as he stared at the screen. Sarah frowned, glancing back at the television when the picture sent ice sluicing through her veins. Her mother was still holding a bundled baby, only this blanket was blue, as was the matching cap. The woman cooed at the infant, holding a tiny hand in hers.

“Damn it, Martha, I told you not to get too attached. You know we can’t keep him.”

Her mother looked up at their father, anger creasing her forehead. “Of course we are, John. They can’t make us hand over a child. Our child.”

John’s expression softened. “We have an agreement.”

“That was before I knew they wanted to take one of my kids. I never agreed to that.”

“Martha—”

“Medication. I was only supposed to take their precious medication. Suffer through those hideous injections. They never said I’d have to…”

She dissolved into tears, holding the baby close.

Their dad placed a hand on her shoulder. “It’s because of them we have Sarah. You never would have gotten pregnant again if they hadn’t intervened. You know that.” He bushed the blanket back from the baby’s forehead. “They’ll take good care of him. I promise.”

“I can’t…I…”

She jumped off, giving John the baby before scooping Sarah up and rushing off. John stared at the infant then glanced toward the camera. “Oh, for fuck’s sake, turn off the damn camera. We can’t have any record of this—”

The screen went black again, nothing but their father’s words echoing in the room like a bloody death rattle. Sarah stared at the television, mouth gaping open, a dull roar sounding in her head, when Jory swore and pushed to his feet.

“What the fuck was that?” He turned to face her. “You did see that, right? I wasn’t dreaming?”

“You mean the part where it looks like we have a brother?”

“A fucking twin brother. Jesus, Sarah. How…” He stalked around the room, finally punching the couch. “I don’t remember any of that.”

Sarah pushed up. She stepped in front of her brother, stopping him from pacing the room again. “Jory. You weren’t quite five, and from the looks of it, whoever this mystery baby was didn’t stay long. I’m not surprised you don’t remember. No one ever mentioned anything.”

Jory clenched his jaw then collapsed on the sofa cushions. “I can’t believe this. Do you think he’s still alive? Does he even know about us?”

Sarah hit some buttons, rewinding the video and pausing it on the baby’s face. She shook her head, finally looking back at her brother. “I don’t know, but I fucking intend to find out.”

 

And that’s it for me. Glad I didn’t claim it’d be short again. One day. One fucking day it will be short. In the meantime, check out the other ladies….

Bronwyn Green  |  Gwendolyn Cease

 

 

PICTURE FLASH FICTION ~ APRIL

Story time again. Not sure how much time I have to commit to this one—I’m in the midst of a book and I really want to get it done. And it’s actually flowing so… but I’m trying to stay true to my pledge to both blog and write more. So… here’s the awesome photo and the resulting story—which might just be super short. I don’t know as I’m making it up as I write this. Oh, and it’s a piece from Red Sky Dawning… the serial that fell off the rails because, hello… time. I’m still going to finish writing it, because it’s playing in my head, but… anyway, here goes.And yes, there could be tiny spoilers in here, I suppose, but… I don’t care. It’s all I could come up with.

image

 

“Rylan.”

Rylan froze as Aelwyn’s voice curled over him. Though she’d barely whispered his name, he’d felt the soothing tone echo through his body, calming his power while setting his blood on fire. He glanced over his shoulder at her, taking in the simple curves of her silhouette. The way her hair seemed to gleam with the same golden color as her energy, or how her eyes softened the moment their gazes met.

He let his focus shift to her chest, just a few of the swirls showing beyond her top—a raven surrounded by fire. His mark. Ever since it’d appeared on her skin, he’d been off-kilter. His attention divided.  As if he couldn’t consider a course of action without thinking how it’d impact her. If he’d be putting her life at risk. And he wasn’t sure if he liked the new development.

Her fingers landed on his shoulder, and he couldn’t stop from twisting—pulling her against him. He breathed in her scent, smiling at the way her power washed over him, drawing his out. Red coloured his skin, burning into a deep orange as it blended with hers.

He cupped her chin, brushing his thumb along her jaw. “Something wrong, sweetness?”

Her smile dropped his stomach. “No, it’s just…” She did a sweep of his body. “Are you all right? I sense…unrest.”

“I’m fine, under the circumstances.”

Her smile faded. “If there was another way to get Aelric back…”

“I’ll be fine.” He straightened. “Are you sure Aelrik’s in the castle keep? I’d have thought he’d be taken to the dungeons.”

She merely raised her brow.

He sighed. “You don’t have to be smug about it. I know you well enough to trust your instincts. I’m just not sure how we’ll get inside without having the entire palace guard challenging us. And I’d rather not hurt anyone if we can help it.”

Aelwyn palmed his jaw. “I’m a healer. I’m the last person who’d tell you to harm your own people. Surely there’s another way inside? A secret passage? A tunnel of some sort? Something that won’t alert the guards?”

Rylan scoffed. “I haven’t been here for nearly a century. I’m sure any shortcomings have been strengthened during my absence.”

“Your father sealed your kingdom away. Gave your people the illusion of peace. That kind of deception, even when made with the best of intentions, breeds complacency.”

“You think there are weaknesses we can exploit.”

“You are the Prince of Ravendale. Heir to the throne. If you can’t find a way inside your home, then one doesn’t exist.”

Rylan stared at her—her trust in him absolute—and wondered how he’d ever thought of her as the enemy? How he’d ever believed there was anything other than honour within her heart. A love that encompassed the very essence of life, itself.

He dipped down, brushing his mouth across hers, savouring the brief tangle of their tongues before drawing back. He surveyed the walls of the castle, motioning her to follow him as he made his way toward the rear battlements. Wild dogs cried out in the night, the distant sound of horse’s hooves beating upon the ground.

He stopped just shy of a small waterway, drawing her in close. “When I was young, I used to swim under the rails in the stream to get in and out without my father knowing. I suppose there’s a chance no one has thought to check them.”

Aelwyn eyed the rippling surface. “How deep do you have to go?”

“A good thirty hands or so, if memory serves.”

She arched a brow. “You do realize fire and water are opposite forces. Your energy won’t enjoy the journey.”

“If it means gaining entry undetected…” He grinned at her. “Normally, I’d just liquify the iron, but you’ve been most insistent about me avoiding a show of power.”

“Merick will sense your fire the instant it flickers across your skin.”

“Let the bastard come. I’m not afraid of him.”

“Rylan. You can’t kill the man without hearing his reasons as to why he’s betrayed your people. We both know that, so pretending otherwise…” She leaned forward, drawing her fingers through the top of the water. “Though I doubt Merick will recognize a surge of my energy.”

She kept moving her hand through the water as her skin began to glow, the brilliant white deepening into gold. The water frothed, churning in on itself until a small funnel appeared on the surface. It spun faster, the centre lowering below the surface until the rocky bottom of the channel gleamed in the rising moonlight. The hole widened, expanding until almost half the width of the river diverted around it.

She motioned to him. “Hurry. If I keep it open for too long, Merick will send a contingency of palace guards to investigate.”

Rylan stare at the wall of water swirling around the opening, finally turning his gaze back to her. “How are you doing that?”

“You already suspected I could manipulate all of the elements. Is this really so surprising?”

“Thinking it and seeing it are distinctly different. You…” He shook his head. “You’re beautiful.”

A light flush crept along her nape and into her cheeks. “Go. I’ll follow once you signal me it’s clear.”

Rylan snorted, then slipped into the creek, watching as the water raced past him. He reached out one hand, letting the spiralling liquid swirl past his fingers before smiling and heading for the wall. Aelwyn moved the hole with him, keeping the water circling his position until he reached the fortress’ wall, ducking beneath the rough stone to where a small, iron grid blocked his way. He knelt. Though a couple of the rungs were still missing, the gap wasn’t nearly big enough for him to crawl through, now. He focused on the ends directly beside the hole, tugging on one of the rungs. A metallic clank sounded around him a moment before the end broke, widening the gap. He tried the next, moving on to a third when the second crumpled into dust. He’d barely touched the last rung before it dropped onto the wet sand, sinking partway down.

He rolled onto his back, shimmying beneath the broken ends, finally dragging himself to the other side. Sand braided his skin, but he didn’t care. He’d gotten inside. He stood, motioning to Aelwyn, gasping when she merely jumped in, not bothering to part the water. Bubbles churned the water close to him before her face appeared in the spiralling liquid. She reached for him, the water falling way like a curtain as he pulled her to him, wrapping his arms around her back.

He shook his head. “I don’t think I’ll ever grow tired of watching you use your power, sweetness. It’s breathtaking.”

She smiled, pressing her head against his chest, her tiny fingers like brands against his flesh. “See? This is why your kingdom needs you to take your rightful place on the throne. They have no idea how vulnerable they really are.”

“I doubt any fortress is safe from you, but—”

He cut off as a noise sounded behind him. He turned, vaulting out of the river bed in a single, strong movement before scrambling to his feet. He donned his sword, prepared to fight when a lone figure emerged from the shadows. The man walked closer, stopping when the moonlight illuminated his face, shining off the hilt of his sword. A dark cloak covered his body, the long hood hiding all but his face. Scars marred one side of his cheek, as he stared at Rylan, the hint of grey in his beard seemingly out of place. He raised his sword, holding it in one hand as he brought it to his chest, disbelief shaping his features. He opened his mouth, but nothing sounded save a rasping breath.

Rylan inhaled, the familiar shape of the man’s jaw finally bleeding through. He eased up his stance slightly as Aelwyn moved in beside him, her skin hued a light gold. She grabbed one arm, the slight tremor in her touch shaking off his shock.

He spared her a quick nod before lowering his weapon, arching his brow at the man still staring at him. “I wondered when you’d show up. Knew you were too stubborn to be dead.”

The man looked between them, eyes still rounded, breath still coming in rough pants. “Rylan?”

Rylan grinned extending his hand. “Aye. Good to see…Garreth.”

 

And that’s it for me. Nearly 1500, not bad for wanting it to be short. Anyway, jump on over to Bronwyn if you haven’t already. Her and I are in it alone this week, and I’m betting hers far exceeds mine.

Bronwyn Green