Category Archives: Story Excerpts

New story excerpt: Lurleen at the Cafe o’Lay

The words weren’t coming out of Lurleen’s pen onto her purple spiral notebook with college ruled pages. She’d come in early on Tuesday, knowing that it would be slow until after seven, and she would have some writing time. Now she had time, but no words. She couldn’t bear to write down the mundane things that happened in her life, her divorce, her family’s redneck crudities, even the small dramas of the bar that sometimes ended in bloodshed. That was too real. She wanted to escape into another world, one that made more sense, where the good guys looked different from the bad guys.
She despaired, until she thought she saw someone walk through the wall of the Café O’Lay.
Lurleen stared at the wall at the corner of the bar near the bathrooms, where the old projector room had been when the café had been the concession stand at the drive-in, back when Lurleen was a little girl. It was a plain cinderblock wall, many times painted but showing every impact of bullet, chair and redneck skull. The woman had walked right through it, just like it was a beaded curtain.
The woman was chubby, dressed garb like a cross between an ancient hippie and a lingerie counter at the Salvation Army, complete with dragonfly wings that vibrated and buzzed every few seconds. Fifty-something with some wrinkles short salt and pepper hair, she could have been anyone’s old maid aunt.
“While you are deciding what you want to wish for, ” she said, “You can get me a beer. Draft. Domestic is fine.”
Lurleen’s professional manner kicked in while her brain refused to process what was going on. She grabbed a mug, filled it and handed it over. “Want a tab?”
The fairy didn’t answer at once. She was too busy sucking down the beer. When she came up for air, she said, “Sure. Now about that wish. You only get one, so think carefully. Wish for what you really want.”
Maybe I’m asleep, or this is some kind of flashback, Lurleen thought. She’d been heavy into the drug scene in college, but that was years ago. She didn’t even drink now, not even coffee, coke or sweet tea. She ran cold water over her hands at the sink and dabbed a damp towel over her face, not to get her makeup wet. She put out of her mind whatever she thought she’d seen.
The fairy quaffed the rest of her beer and held out the mug for more.
“Did you miss a turn on the interstate? The Renfaire is on the other side of Greenville. ” Lurleen took the mug and filled it back up, though she had a premonition that the beer would never be paid for, not even in fairy gold.

Mama Bear Gossips

girl rides bear
Mama Bear tells all to some listening ear while Vasalisa rides

What do you mean telling people I am manipulative? I most certainly am not. I do offer my considered advice, but people take it on their own, or to their sorrow, they don’t. I cannot make anyone do anything, any more than you can, you silly author.

So what if I did put it into Panya’s mind that she might drown the poor, misbegotten waif to better comfort the miller in his grief over losing his wife. He would surely have thought that the water monster had taken the child when she abandoned him.

Well, of course the fish abandoned him when her red hat was taken. She could not stay above water without it, and it would be foolish to drown in the air. She is sensible for a fish. And what mother, piscine though she might be, would not take her child? Leaving the child behind was not acceptable. She is no sort of decent mother. What if she does wail along the river at night? It is no concern of mine. It was an indecent marriage.

What do you mean, the child can’t breathe water? Well, due to her parentage, she has the worst of both worlds. Have you seen the webs between her toes? It’s disgusting, but she must have her feet to manage things—can’t hide those toes with decent socks or shoes, only those clogs she wears.

Yes, the first time she came here, she still had her hands, and she was so sweet, a lovely, golden-haired child, barely out of toddlerhood. The fish was clearly a bad mother, as she let this child out of her sight where she might fall into the millworks or into the pond at any moment.

I didn’t realize who she was until she came visiting that first time, and we found her asleep in the cub’s bed, sucking her webbed thumb. But Cobb fell in love with her at first sight, and when her mother abandoned her, it was simple to let her come here for comfort. Her.father had certainly gone off the deep end. I’ve hoped that she and Cobb would live here with me and take care of me in my old age.

Fairy godmother images

Just some fairy godmother images I likedSmiley Godmother

Fairy Godmother on Coffee
Every fairy godmother has her favorite stimulant–looks like this one drank some of Maven’s coffee.
Betty Boop Mother
I don’t quite get Betty Boop, but someone clearly does, in sparkly purple.
Damoiselle Dragonfly's Fairy Godmother
Damoiselle Dragonfly’s Fairy Godmother – This one looks more like Black Arlet.
Fiona Silverthorne, Fairy Godmother Superior
Fiona Silverthorne, Fairy Godmother Superior, on a good day

The Veil

The Veil is a spell that was constructed to keep out those who would kill and eliminate the fae outside its borders, and to repel those who fell outside of Mundane reality through a pill or a bottle or a smoke with no training and guidance on their own side.  It was concocted by all the fae who could see the value of protection and who wanted to live in a certain amount of peace in their long lives.

As the Veil and the spell that sustains it unravel, more and more of the denizens of Fiction, the HyperDimension, Cyberspace, and even Mundane will be coming to call.  The Twilight Lounge may become very crowded, especially if Belle is not there to ride herd on the cats that hang out there. The Twilight Lounge is not properly part of Faery or any of the other dimensions, but is a portal, a nexxus for moving from one to the other, and possibly other destinations.

The Fae occasionally brought someone across, or went slumming themselves, but for the most part, the Veil between Mundane, HD and Faery was solid and useful. Some of the Fae stayed too long in Mundane, and died, but others found a way to live here permanently, in a pocket world called Mundance–a muse-ical typo that has happened enough times to make it come true. From my perspective, all the urban fantasy genre comes from Mundance–a little bit of Faery encapsulated in the fossilized amber of Mundane. What happens if the Veil completely unravels  remains to be seen.

Maven LIVES!

Maven Fairy Godmother: Through the Veil Book 1
Maven Fairy Godmother: Through the Veil Book 1

After many years of work: brainstorming, laughing, writing, rewriting, adding, cutting and polishing, Maven Fairy Godmother: Through the Veil is live and available through MuseItUp Publishing for $5.95 in all e-reader formats.

Maven is that everywoman of a certain age who feels that her life has passed her by, and that she has no options, especially since she is too broke to pay attention. When she gets a job interview call on her dead cellphone, however, things start looking up–who would have thought about becoming a fairy godmother?

But things are not well in Faery, and the more Maven learns, the deeper in she gets. HEre’s a sample:

“Be careful what you ask for,” Maven said, “You just might get it.”

The girl stared at Maven for a moment. She held up her fingers and started counting. “I just want to have (one) the fabulous, romantic evening with (two) the beautiful clothes and (three) the lovely music and (four) the elegant food I didn’t have to cook.” Wistful hope shone on her face even behind the calculations of exactly what kinds of fun girls just want to have. She stuck out her thumb and added, “I was very careful.”

Brewster “Silicon” Jones

Brewster “Silicon” Jones noted the sunshine slanting through the computer lab window across his monitor, making the monitor nearly invisible in the glare. Like a search light from a cop car, it invaded from literally outside his domain where he was no deity, no more than bar slime. “Where the sun don’t shine” was pretty much where he lived. Yet the golden beam of slightly swirling dust reminded him of his promise to Red to be home early, before sunset, before the full moon rose. He had planned to leave long before now.

She was doing ritual tonight—the Great Rite. She thought she needed a god with a sword to become the goddess, and he was certainly willing to oblige. His intent wasn’t focused in the same direction as hers, but he’d enthusiastically share his energy for her to work her magic. It was great sex.

He slipped out of the lab and into his car, a middle-aged Buick that generally ran under the radar when he didn’t slip into his “usual suspects” mode. He stopped at the liquor store for a bottle of tequila. It would slow him down just a little before hand, and ground them after—blending the four elements, he called it: lime for air, ice for water, salt for earth and tequila for fire. She loved margaritas. He picked up some limeade from the convenience store next door while he was at it, just in case she had run out.

He was still half a block away from her house when the Buick sputtered and quit.

Out of gas–again.

He slipped the transmission into neutral, and willed the car to coast into her driveway.  IT rolled to a stop just before the tires hit the curb.

Might as well call it magic, he thought, magic being more reliable than luck. She’d have enough gas to siphon out, or she would take him to get some later, maybe in the morning. Give him an excuse to be late to work.

Life is good, he thought, watching the red sunset fill the western sky through the pines behind her house. Tomorrow would be a nice day—maybe he would call in sick. It was still early enough in spring for him to come down with a bit of a cold, and he’d likely be hung over anyway. He grabbed the booze and went in to worship his goddess.

Who is Maven? A bit of a Scene

When Maven Morrigan slid down from the front seat of her minivan, her pumpkin of a rump caught the duct tape that held the seat together, releasing the broken spring below.

“Damn! Story of my life!” Her last pair of panty hose ruined, another piece of her world fell apart.

Finally Maven worked the wire loose from her skirt, leaving a small hole in the polyester.

A pointed end to the worst day of her life. She’d trundled through every temp agency in the county in search of a paycheck. Even the teenage manager at Burger Haven shrugged and glanced at the semi-retired folks serving up the fat of the land. Nobody wanted a middle-aged ex-teacher when ex-CEOs were available.

She rolled her eyes in disgust. Through a break in the clouds, the evening star perched bright above the crescent moon, a spot of beauty ending an ugly day.

“Star light, star bright
First star I see tonight
Wish I may, wish I might
Have the wish I wish tonight.”

Shivering on the asphalt, she discarded one wish after another.  A golden SUV and a ripped personal trainer? A fire, chocolate and one enormous chair? A ticket into the witness protection program?

Wishing! Waste of time. She stomped to her door. If wishes were Harleys, she’d still have to put gas in them. No point in making believe. Work harder. Play the game. Keep your mind to yourself.

Her kitchen was bare. She’d sold most of her keepsakes and anything else she could liquidate at the flea market, even her books after her unemployment ran out. What was left was brown, too boring to show dirt. Could one die from beige?

A cold chill swept through her. Maven shivered again. The heater was set at hypothermal to save electricity. She reached into her pocket book to put the last of her change in the empty jelly jar on the counter.  Then she remembered giving it–her lunch money—to the woman at the copy center for stamps for the last pile of resumes lying there to be mailed in the morning. She’d forgotten to take them with her.

People survived being homeless, living outdoors and eating irregularly, so Maven made herself glad she had a cold apartment to come home to with a bed and running water.

The last four crackers with scrapings of peanut butter made her supper at the kitchen sink while she heated water, saving the last of the coffee for the morning. She poured hot water into a cup and sipped, draining her anger and warming her belly and her hands.  On the cup was a cartoon of a cleaning lady who wanted to know where her fairy godmother was.

“If my fairy godmother showed up tonight, I’d…I’d…” Maven shook her head and set the empty cup in the sink.

Still wearing her coat, Maven trudged to the bedroom to change for bed. The image of the star shone in her mind, glowing in the deep blue dusk, and the sliver of moon smiled at her, the promise of a peaceful night, and perhaps a new day, the promise of a new start. She had a few more resumes to send out, and she might hear back any day from the dozens sent before–still a bit of hope left.

Maven quickly shed her clothes and got ready for bed. Once under the covers, she began her ritual of deep breathing, partly to relax and center herself for sleep, but mostly to bring on a hot flash, which it always did, eventually. She’d learned that trick in many workshops and therapy sessions. She might not relax, but she would get warm.

She imagined sheep jumping over the star and the moon, then a cow, the cat and the fiddle, and other silly characters. As her cheeks finally flushed and the warmth flowed through her body, Maven thought of little boy blue, curled up in his haystack. Her last thought as she rolled over to go to sleep was “I’ll think about that tomorrow at Tara.”

Ashleigh

Ashleigh moped in her room in the third tallest tower of her sister’s castle. Her satin slipper dangled from her toe. Her finger traced patterns on the rock of the open window. Her silken gown crumpled as she curled up and stared sightlessly out the window.

“I wish, I wish,” she whispered. “I wish I knew what to wish for.” She didn’t blame Pierre for leaving her. She was tired of catering anyway, though she didn’t know how to do anything else. Her sister had kindly taken her in and treated her as a noble lady, even though everyone knew that Ashleigh was only a silk-gowned kitchen maid.

“I’m doomed to be a secondary character.” She put her arms around her silk-stocking knees and poked out her lower lip. “If only I had chosen the prince, I’d be the queen now.”

“Unfortunately,” said Maven, appearing with a minimum of flash and sparkle, “it is impossible to grant a wish for the past. You have to decide what you want in the future.”  She glanced around at the tapestries, the well hung bed, the carpet on the floor. The view from the tower included a forest and a lake where the sun sparkled on the water. “Looks like you’re doing all right to me.”

Ashleigh sprang to her feet. “YOU!” she shouted, pointing a quivering finger at Maven as her face turned red. “Why do I always get you? Aren’t there any other fairy godmothers?”

“Not on your case. In fact, there is a shortage. So you’re stuck with me.” Maven held up her wand. “Now if you don’t know what you want, I’ll just….”

“No, wait. Wait!” Ashleigh grabbed Maven’s sleeve. “You rushed me last time, and I didn’t get what I wanted!”

Maven pulled the gossamer from Ashleigh’s hand before Ashleigh could stretch it out of shape. Maven snapped her fingers, and a list appeared in her hand: “bath, dress, horses with white feathers on their heads, coachmen, coach, glass slippers, food you didn’t have to cook.”  She handed the list to Ashleigh. “I can only give you what you ask for. It’s a rule.”

“But I did ask for what I wanted.” Ashleigh leaned back on the window seat. “It just didn’t work out right.” She hung her head and picked at her perfect fingernail.

“I offered you the second chance if you came back by midnight.” Maven shrugged. “You made your choices. It was out of my hands.”

“But why are you here now?”

“You said the magic words.” Maven raised her wand to poof out. “I thought you might have a true wish this time. When you figure out what you want, wish for me.”  She poofed.

Ashleigh stood speechless for a moment, but she began thinking about what she did want, and it wasn’t the third tallest tower. But she would have to be more careful this time, not to be tricked into making a bad decision.

After Midnight – Early Scene

“That’s what happens when you don’t think about one wish, but just wave your wand over everything,” Fiona said, with a smirk. “What are you going to do about it, since you now know how powerful you are, and you’ve learned that no one else can undo your hasty and ill-formed magic?”

Fiona stood there with her arms folded, tapping a black wand against her shoulder. She didn’t usually handle her wand unless she was casting a spell. She never just played with it like that. The crockery on her shelves seemed uneasy too, though they often vibrated or rattled. Today they seemed to shrink back as far from the edges of the shelves as they could get, huddling together, backs to the wall.

Maven swallowed. She really didn’t want to get the amphibian perspective, even though she had just doomed a number of people–dozens–to that fate this morning and was not sure how to change them back. “I don’t know what to do. I really didn’t mean to transform so many of them this morning, but they were going to be crushed in the crowd. They wouldn’t listen to me.”

“That was the first smart thing you have done since you came here.”  Fiona leaned back on her desk, her wand pointing at the floor, the tip of it inscribing small circles that sparkled for an instant before fading. “Now they remember why they don’t come running to magic to solve their problems. Magic makes things worse, unless carefully and sparing applied.”

“What have you seen in your crystal ball?” Maven hoped Fiona would go and look, that she would stop playing with the wand that seemed more and more ominous every moment.

“I haven’t looked,” Fiona said. “I’ve been listening to you and your story, and this ridiculous situation, which is now all yours. It’s up to you to sort it out.” She crossed her arms, with the tip of the wand still moving, as if it had a will of its own. “What are you going to do about it?”

Maven listened for any suggestion from Bump of Direction, but got no sense of even having intuition, much less anything helpful, except to get out of Fiona’s office and see if she could think more clearly away from Fiona and her wand.

“I’m going back out there and muddle through.”  Without waiting for any sort of instruction or orders, since it appeared there would be none, she took out her wand, swizzled it and poofed back to the grounds of the Palace.

Jones and Petunias

Jones landed on his belly in a flower bed—petunias from the smell of it—never a good sign. But the Ions were gone, his brain sparkles mere ash which filled his mouth.

He made a few tentative moves to see if anything was broken, other than the flower stalks beneath him.  It was dark, always good, and the flower bed edged a path to a small cottage where the candle light from inside seemed both warm and welcoming.

The girl who came out on the porch did not. “YOU there! What are you doing in my flowers? Get up!”

Jones found his knees and scrambled up, wiping the sticky, ruined flowers from his chest. “I’m very sorry. I…got lost….” He glanced at the cottage and the dark woods surrounding it. “I saw your light and….I must have tripped…”  That was certainly true in one sense, and the flashbacks were getting closer together.

He took a closer look at the girl, who though short was not a girl at all, but a woman of substance, muscle, even menace. In her left hand was a lantern, but in the right was a dwarf sword half as long she was.  Standing on the porch, four steps up, she was still below Jones’s eye level, though he was a few inches shy of six feet tall. He looked into her eyes, but her ample bosom was directly in his line of sight, nestled snugly in her quilted bodice covered with chain mail.

“Why were you in the woods at this time of night?” She moved the lantern to see him better, keeping the sword pointed at his most tender spot. “Are you out of your mind?”

Jones didn’t have an answer, and standing up so quickly took its toll on his already stressed body. He smiled, gestured towards her to begin a plausible lie, and then passed out  face first on the path.