Saturday, May 12, 2018

Four SaturdayScenes tales-one for Mother's Day May 13

May 13 Happy Mother’s Day for those who are mothers, even to those from countries that celebrate it on other dates, or who don’t celebrate it at all. You are all needed and appreciated. I found one story that deals with motherhood. It is a mini Urban Fantasy story with an older mage.

Three of these stories are the general fiction tales I promised I would do and one is the motherhood story I just referenced.

I start with that one. The second story is one I have posted before. I think the next two are new to here. The third one is from my “My Stories Inspired by Pictures” collection. Many people liked it but even if you don’t check out that collection. Currently 16 stories of adventure, fun, weird Western, fantasy and science fiction. The last story here was suppose to be kinda of humorous. 3,549 words total

Snow Duchess

Boy, it was cold. As I get older the more cold it became. Even walking among a forest of large trees didn’t help much with the wind. At least the sky looked blue instead of gray.
I needed to meet with her though. She had called, said she wanted help. The Snow Duchess had helped me with the local yeti and layer when I was trapped in a very bad snow storm.
For those two reasons, and because I’m a nice guy, I found myself traipsing through the snow, ice and wind of the back country of Canada. Did I say it was cold? My eyebrows’ color changed to white when my sweat froze.
I wore thermals, thick pants and a shirt along with a fur parka made for this weather but still-cold. I could have tricked some warmth around me, but I didn’t know what she wanted. I might need all of my strength.
The only sounds were my snowshoes crunching the surface of the snow. That would mean I might be able to hear a bear or a family of wolves run through it toward me.
After a short rest I still breathed hard. As I said, I am old. The air smelled cold and I tasted it when I sucked in a large lungful of air.
I figured she was in trouble but I hoped she didn’t want to get pregnant again. Last time Tony did the honors but it didn’t work out well. First of all he evidently had problems because of how cold she is-physically that is. Second and third were reasons he didn’t want to talk about. And neither did she. And finally I just don’t have sex with any woman who bats their eyelashes at me. That goes especially with producing a child I would not know, nor be able to have, at least, some influence on their raising.
I came out of a line of trees and saw a large snow covered clearing. It could be a meadow in summer. I could make out the trees on the other side. There at midpoint stood three figures. A young woman, a large husky and a smaller dog I couldn’t be sure of.
The woman was too young to be the Snow Duchess. In fact she looked to be significantly under twenty. I blinked for she looked about the same number of years from when I left Tony here. So he had gotten her pregnant after all.
Even though modestly covered all the way she wore less than I did, which meant that the snow and wind did not bother her. She was pretty even from this distance-more so than her mother who was on the lower end of pretty. I wondered if something had happened to her mother and that it had been this woman who called me.
I sent out a probe of energy. Yeah, she had the same reading as her mother, almost that is. But wait that husky. I blinked again, no wonder it was so big. I already knew she could become any snow creature she wanted to, which is how she gotten me out of that storm.
The dog looked at me, eye to eye. Ohhh, she wanted my help to pass on the power and authority to her daughter. I nodded, I could do that. It meant that I would have to go out there though. She chuckled.
With a sigh, I walked out to where they stood and officiated the correct ceremony which consisted of mostly the saying of certain vows and laying a hand on both at the same time to transfer the power. Even though a different type of power than I had and more of it, I knew how to do it safely. Safely to me that is. I touched them both, the Snow Duchess produced enough cold to go through my glove on that hand. I had problems concentrating and when I allowed the power in nothing happened. Her head spun my way and I think she growled. I glared back at her. One failing did not mean a total failure, but I realized that this had to be done now. She was sacrificing her position and most of her power for her daughter, not only for her retirement
I managed to get it right the second time and the ceremony worked. Afterwards I realized that some of it had stayed with me. I wasn’t sure how it would effect me. Make me stronger? Make me younger again, more able to handle the cold-I would appreciate that last more than anything.
The young woman smiled, said thanks and promised to help me when I needed it. I knew she meant couple of large things.
I smiled and left to get back to someplace warm.


Mind Blob

I sat in the small chair they allowed me, next to my bed. No padding under my rear, or on the arms or back, so no occupant could chew on it. I wouldn’t do that, just the thought dry stuffing filled with sweat and grim made his mouth go dry. However soon after I was placed her I had heard that some in here have done. I was dressed even though a bit warm in here. Voices and steps outside in the hallway drew my attention, but it wasn’t time yet. Then I will out of this room with its light blue and pink wallpaper.
That dream came again last night. I wish I knew where my subconscious came up with the idea: a dark blob, with uneven sides, with thicker sections here and there, and some missing spaces. Almost like a solid fog at night. It’s taller than I am and wider than my bed is long. It’s not a nightmare because I’m not afraid since it just sits there double my reach away. I have had that dream almost every night for the last three months. At first I was scared; woke up sweating, even though the air is cool, with a half yell, but it doesn’t do anything. I just watch it. Its shape changes a bit in every dream, but as I can figure out that’s just my subconscious adding a dimension to it. I think I know what the blacker areas are but not the empty spots. Areas of my life not effected by it? That would be good. I had to fight my reaction to it for eight months but it looks like I have it at bay. If it touches me, I get confused and usually freeze without knowing what to do next, sometimes I set out to do something that doesn’t need doing.
A glance at the clock showed that I better get ready; my wife is coming, with our two kids, to pick me up and take me home. It will be nice to get away from the odors in here. They try to keep them down but vomit, piss and cleaning fluids are always in the background.
It’s been a rough eight months, especially on Tammy. I’m glad she is still there. My recovery would be rougher without her.
I hear other patients walking up and down the hallway outside. I never did that, but I can see why some would. I had breakfast already, which I won’t miss. I hope we can go out to dinner tonight to celebrate, but Judy probably will want to stay home and get used to us being together again. That would be fine, maybe I can talk her into ordering pizza delivery. The food here is enough and eatable, but it’s not all that good.
After a few minutes I again make sure my few things are really packed and ready. Finally Doctor Jim comes to the door and tells me my wife is here. I shake his hand, thank him for his help. He tells me I helped myself and that he just directed me.
He takes me out to the lounge. There they are. I couldn’t help myself, I rush to Judy and hug her. Her body feels so good in my arms, her hands on my back are even better because of what they mean. I saw her only last week, but this is different. I hug my two kids. My eight year old daughter isn’t too sure about me.
I say, “I’m sorry for scaring you, I didn’t mean to. It didn’t have anything to do with you: I have a problem.”
She said, “I know mommy explained that you have a black blob in your head that makes you see things differently and confuses your thinking. It’s not your fault that it decided to hurt you.”
I blink at that, first in surprise, second because of tears. I look up at Judy, mouth “Thank you.”
But at the same time I realize that was my dream. Maybe she had mentioned her explanation to me and I had forgotten it, but my subconscious hadn’t. Or maybe I had spoken of it at one point.
I stood, grabbed my small suitcase and we walk out to the car. Judy tensed, said, “You didn’t harm any of us, but you scared us. If you had harmed one of us, I wouldn’t be here.”
I nodded, “I understand and agree, if my blob ever made me hurt one of you, you should stay away. But now we know the signs of it moving my way and can deal with it before it touches me.”
She relaxed as if she hadn’t been sure of my response yet she still had to say it. She nodded, took my hand and, said, “Lets have pizza for dinner tonight at home.”
I smiled.
The end

Jimmy, shoulder length brown hair flowing, ran along the cobblestone street. His feet slipped in-between the cracks but he ignored that for his friend might be hurt bad. At least though he didn’t have to run all the way to the old stone wall that surrounded the village. And its Inns, houses, churches that had been built around the castle. Sweat ran down his underarms, and matted his hair on his forehead even though it had turned night.
He looked backwards, saw the full moon just behind the castle where he had been playing in with John a few seconds ago. The castle sat on a small hill and looked tall and narrow, and ripe for playing in, for a couple of fourteen year old boys.
It had come up while the searched and played in that castle. It had cooled more now. He and John had been glad they both wore light jackets over their long sleeved flannel shirts and denim pants. Now though bile came up when he thought about how badly hurt John could be. He never did respond to Jimmy’s calls.
The few electric lights someone had installed helped him find his way in the low light. Once at the right building, an Inn he thought, he tried to skid to a stop but instead stumbled. Somehow, with gritted teeth, he managed to keep himself from falling. He turned to the door, and opened it. This building smelled of rotten wood, while the castle had an odor of old rocks, decay and a used outhouse chamber.
His uncle sat at a table they had brought with them. The floor was smooth at least made from rough wood worn smooth through years of usage. Multiple stains colored the floor in places. Some would be blood, he and John had thought earlier.
A lamp shone on the papers his uncle was studying, even though there were two other lights that let people see where they were going and to make sure no one hid in the shadows, he thought.
He hurried to his uncle, who looked up at him.
Jimmy said, “Uncle Harry, I’m sorry to interrupt you, but it’s John. He was playing and he fell.”
His uncle looked surprised and concerned. “Where did he fall and how far?”
“I don’t know how far but it was in that small chamber in the castle. You know the one they used as a bathroom. He leaned over to look down through the toilet hole, with his flashlight. I don’t know he was so curious but he climbed down a larger hole. He slipped and dropped inside that chamber under it. I heard him land and cry out. He didn’t say anything when I shouted at him. So I ran here.”
Jimmy paused to catch his breath and his uncle said, “I know of another way in, but if he is hurt badly I am not sure what we can do here. Our infirmary isn’t designed for bad injuries. We would have to take him to the next larger village.”
“Maybe he won’t be hurt badly.”
“We will see.”
His uncle stood, grabbed two flashlights and rushed out, Jimmy followed.
They rushed down the street. They stooped at a portion of the hill under the castle. Jimmy could smell old wood, plant decay and the ancient stones. Harry handed a light to Jimmy and then shown his own bright LED light on the stone foundation. He finally nodded and said something Jimmy didn’t catch, it might have been a bad word. He moved over a bit and again shone the light around. Jimmy felt clammy as the cooling night made the sweat cold. His heart still beat hard but not as bad as it had. He helped his uncle brush dirt away from a weird crack. After Harry put his hand up to say enough, he brushed his mouth-coughed. Oops, there had been dirt and tiny bits of the stone on his hand and was now in his mouth.
Uncle Harry managed to reach into a crack and pull back. A door squeaked loudly and the stone the door was made from made a gritty sound as it rolled across the dirt still there.
His uncle said, “Those that lived here liked to have this chamber cleaned out every now and then so they made a door here where slaves could get in and haul out what this was filled with.”
Jimmy wondered for a second what that could be but then it hit him and he said, “Ohhh.”
Yikes, by the smell of the inside this place had been used as its original purpose for a decade.
Uncle Harry aimed his light inside and motion for Jimmy. He thought for a second then realized what his uncle wanted. Jimmy turned on his light and made sure it shone inside.
Jimmy heard a groan. He stepped into the doorway and moved his light back and forth.
“Not so fast Jimmy. Move the beam slowly.”
He did and saw a shadow off to one side toward the back. Jimmy almost rushed in, but his uncle stopped him.
“Watch where you step, and call him to see if he is okay.”
Jimmy flicked the light downward and made sure he stepped only on stone. He called for John. He thought he saw his friend on a small raised platform. Maybe to help with the cleaning or to make the foundation stronger for they were in part of the foundation for the castle.
John said, “I’m okay, I think, but my arm hurts and I bruised my other side.”
Jimmy said, “Come on out. Uncle Harry found a door-but watch your step. Some of this stuff is fresh.”
“What stuff? Oh! Yecch.”
A moment later Jimmy saw someone move, drop to the floor, then carefully walk over to the door. Even before he got there though Jimmy could smell him.
“Yecch, you have some of that on you. You must have landed in a pile of it. We need to clean you off.”
John said, “But my arm and side hurt and I am getting a headache.”
Jimmy’s uncle waved his hand in front of his face and said, “You’re right, that is portent. I know of a place come on.”
He led the way to another part of the castle. This time to a small hole in the foundation stone. It held water and had an old bucket next to it.
“Here we can use this to soak him and to clean him. John you are going to get cold but maybe that will teach you not to play in places like this. Yecch. But it could have been worse. The chamber next to it is filled with very old water. We don’t know how deep it is but it smells like it has old dead fish in it. A garbage dump that got filled with rain water maybe. You could have drowned in smelly old water if you had fallen into that one.”
Jimmy said, “I know, we smelled that water. We wanted no part of it.”
The spent the next ten minutes filling the bucket and splashing John with until they were sure he was clean. The stink stayed though, either it had caught in their sinuses or John badly needed to change cloths and leave these outside, of the walls, Jimmy thought. Then Uncle Harry took led John to an old house that was used as the infirmity. The Professor there had some medical experience since he had been an EMT for a short time. He examined John thought no bones were broken but that the next day a trip to a hospital was in order to make sure and to see about fixing that sprained arm. He gave John some pain relievers he thought would last through the night but it would still hurt.
Jimmy wanted to cheer because his friend was okay, but also determined that he would never do anything as stupid as John had done.


Hinglefingle’s Lesson

Tommy Hinglefingle sat on a large rock, today he became single. His seat felt hard and rough but he didn’t care. A tear formed in one eye.
He didn’t notice Jeff Kerkerfell rush up to him from behind. The newcomer slipped around the rock seat, Tommy saw him just as Kergerfell rang his bell.
Tommy hit the ground, stayed there long enough to realize he tasted blood and that one hand rested on a thorny weed.
Once back up, he raised his fists and said, “What was that for?”
“You messed around with my girlfriend.”“Me? You stole her from me...I should punch you twice.”
Jeff waved his hand as if to dismiss what Tommy said.
“Don’t change the subject, you messed with Emily.”
“Not recently...of course I messed with her when we were together...what are you going to do punch all her old boyfriends?”
Kerkerfell said, “You were more than a boyfriend, she married you...and she still thinks of you.”
“What? We haven’t spoken in months.”
Kerkerfell shook his head hard, “Don’t try to sell me. She has been distant the last few days and she changes the subject when I talk of us.”
Hinglefingle said, “Maybe she just wants to be single.”
Kerkerfell said, “She has mentioned your name you in our discussions of late, she wore a ring last night on her left hand when she gave me a quick good night kiss. I knew then that you had to be messing with her behind my back.
Hinglefingle paced, put his hands in his pocket, jingled his keys, stopped himself. He turned back to Kerkerfell.
“Are you playing a game here? She let you take her from me and filed for divorce...and no matter what you believe I haven’t even seen her in ages much less messed with her.”
Kerkerfell said, “Listen to me, you can tell I’m not playing a game! She really has talked about you and is wearing a ring.”
“Maybe Hizzorlone gave her one. She seems to like him.”
“No, she talks about you not him.”
Kerkerfell interrupted, “She still wears that small bell you gave her too. And it was a wedding ring not an engagement ring. Call her and see for yourself. You will see I was right to sock you.”
Hinglefingle pulled out his cell phone said, “She would have called me today of all days if this was true,” and punched in a number.
A moment later he said, “Damn, the battery is dead.”
Kerkerfell said, “Maybe that is why she hasn’t called you, she can’t get through...She’s probably at Dell’s party, you should go talk to her.”
Hinglefingle paced again, rolled his eyes and said, “Okay, I’ll go see her mingle at the party...I’ll get this straightened out one way or another.”
Kerkerfell said, “If you haven’t messed with her I’ll apologize for punching you...but go find out.”
Hinglefingle started off, stopped turned back and said, “I’ll give you a dingle afterwards.”
He thought, and if this is a game, I won’t call, I’ll give him two punches.
After he got in his car he added, maybe it is true, I didn’t tell Kerkerfell that she tried to call me four times last night, if she really is wearing that ring she must have changed her mind which would mean today the divorce would be off instead of final...maybe something good can happen to me after all.”

The End

Sunday, April 15, 2018

The Courier finally published and on sale for one week.

New book: an exciting tale of adventure and suspense

Meet Kara Stronggear, a very young member of the cadre of Couriers. She thinks she has what it takes to be one. After all her dad trained her to fight, in the use of weapons, to know when to run. Kara knows how to operate most steam boilers, how to fly airships.
But when someone wants something she has and is willing to kill for it, she finds she isn’t as ready as she thinks.
From gun battles, to hurricanes, to fighting guard dogs, to running on the torn up streets of a strange city, to a dogfight over a desert, she finds it hard to keep ahead of the man who want something she has.
Kara has friends that are willing to help even as she doesn’t understand why. She needs to find her own heart even as she tries to protect a tiny object that could start a new world war with invincible weapons.
She has hard decisions to make and growing up to do, but she may not live long enough to do either.

Links to the Electric version can be found here: $2.99 until Sunday April 22. But Good reading even at the regular price of $5.99 .
Amazon also has the paper version

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Third and last except from The Courier

March 3 Yo, the first part of March. Better weather for this time of year-which means rain-but we shall see how it goes from here on. We still have at least three months where it can rain.

This is the third and last excerpt of The Courier. This time from chapter six. It includes some byplay between characters as well as part of a fight. I still aim to have this out the end of March. So watch for it. But don’t wait I have tree other novels out you can buy. :)

Kara is on an airship piloted and owned by an “indie”, an independent airship owner who flies people and freight around. Many are honest but some will cheat you, while others will carry contraband and be involved with other illegal activities, which includes attacking other Indies-that comes in later in the novel. Kara is on a week long “run” to get various contracts signed but she finds herself attacked more than once and she finds something in her courier pouch that she didn’t place in it.


Before she could answer with an apology he looked around at the disassembled gun on her cot and the stunner lying next to it. He might have smelled the gun oil too.
“What’s up?”
She looked up at him confused.
He pointed at the weapons. “You left suddenly just because you had a case of weapon withdrawal?”
“No, I’m sorry for not saying anything. I should have—too much time by myself, but this is something I do every so often. In my occupation I never know when I will need one of these, so I make sure they are operational.”
He nodded. “I understand that. You never know when some dust, spare oil, or insect or something will get into your weapon but this is sudden. Were you attacked at your last stop?”
“What? No.” She sighed. “This has nothing to do with being attacked. I mean, I could be, I have been while doing a run, but this is about being ready just in case.”
Kara almost rolled her eyes at her own verbal confusion. She could converse better than that. Danny gave her a look that said he didn’t believe her, but let it drop and said he needed to get back to the cockpit, and left.
Once she heard his footsteps go down the hallway, she said, “Damn! I hate lying to him.”
She grabbed one of the sticks of gum she still had left and put one in her mouth—more for something to do with her hands instead of throwing something though. She barely registered the strong flavor.
But what would he do if he knew they were being followed by people willing to kill? She needed this run and she would get past them to finish it. She was good and her rep would be even better if it got out. And she didn’t need protection. If anyone needed protection, he did. In fact she protected him by being quiet. The less he knew the better. She let out a couple of more curses though.
She hurriedly but carefully put the pistol back together. Should she go to him and try to convince him again or just let him think for the night? This had better not have ruined their friendship!
Kara finally went to bed. The next morning she slept late, after taking a long time to go to sleep. He knocked on her door and asked if she needed any breakfast. She said yes. Since she had already taken a fast shower—maybe he had heard the running water—and was dressed, she went to the small lounge. He stood there cooking eggs and bacon, and even had some biscuits in a toaster oven. He said, “Good morning. Sorry I totally forgot butter, but I do have honey. Nothing special just plain, cheap honey.”
“That’s fine, I like cheap, plain honey. I am kind of plain myself.”
He gave her a look that seemed to say, “No, you’re not,” but went back to his cooking without saying anything. A minute later he set a plate with fried eggs and bacon in front of her. Five pieces of perfect bacon. A moment later a hot biscuit joined it.
“There are more biscuits, not home made but good anyway.”
Her mouth watered for that bacon—she tasted one. Thicker than usual and so good. He must have remembered what she had said about bacon during one of their talks. Danny sat down, after giving her some orange juice, with his plate and glass. Some of his bacon was a little burnt one piece looked undercooked some. So had he taken the rejects, or did he like it that way. Damn, she couldn’t recall what he said about what he liked.
They ate in silence except for the noises of chewing.
Once done she said, “Thank you, the bacon tasted wonderful and the eggs were good too.”
He looked up at her and smiled. She stood and started to gather the dishes.
“No, I can do that. You need to get ready for your next run. In case you hadn’t noticed, we landed and are tethered.”
So that was why the airship’s movement had felt funny. “What?” She should have figured that out sooner; the movement of a ship tethered yet pushed by the wind felt different from flying.
“You slept late.”
“Oh, I wondered why you were spending so much time away from the controls.”
“I can make some coffee to help you wake up. Some hot and strong instant stuff will wake you by taste, heat, and caffeine.”
“Um, maybe you should do that, I seem to be half asleep. I’ll get dressed in my outfit.”
On the way out she again said, “Thank you for breakfast. Ir was good.” Unsaid, even though she wasn’t sure if he would get it, was, “After last night.”
Kara rushed back to her cabin and changed. Once dressed she made sure each of her devices were where they were supposed to be. That included two bottles of water and four cereal bars, just in case of some emergency. She went down the ladder, after making sure she told him her destination. She headed for the terminal. There she called her next client. He said he would be in his office this morning. She said she would be there. Nothing happened on the way even though she spotted someone that could have been that woman. This time it was hard to tell for sure, for she looked common: average height, weight and dress. This time her hair looked shorter and a different color but she could have it up or behind her in a bun. The color change could be done easily enough since Kara had last seen her. But at the same time Kara didn’t want to be too paranoid.
The man’s office was a small trailer at a construction site this time, no one was working yet on this warm morning but it looked like someone would be there at anytime. The man, who looked middle age and tough with a sweat-stained shirt, signed his contract, number four, they shook hands and she left. On the way back to the airport, though, something seemed off. She looked back at the site—it didn’t look quite the same as it had when she stood right in front of it. Closed down? She was just there though. A shrug and she continued. Just as she rushed by a very dark alley mouth something stopped her forward motion. She looked down to one side and a hand held her pouch. It pulled again. She startled but managed to plant her feet and pull on the pouch and the hand pulling on it around to her front. The man connected to the hand came with it. He looked too skinny, even though he was only half a head taller than her. He wore old, torn clothes. Obviously he hadn’t figured that she would be too in tune with it to ignore something like that.
Kara chopped at the hand—when it let go, she shoved the man hard. He had been taken by surprise so didn’t react fast enough. Now he stumbled backward and hit an A-frame with enough force to knock him over it. A clunk showed that he hit his head. She grabbed his shirt and lifted him up; he had looked underweight and didn’t wear much. She placed her face near his. He smelled of drugs, and had very bad breath. “Never try to steal a courier’s pouch. Next time you might get a knife in your gut. That is very painful.” She pushed him over the A-frame again.
Of course more than likely no courier would stab him in the gut but maybe it could scare him into leaving couriers alone—maybe. As she walked away, she thought, The first shove over the A-frame was an accident but the second one wasn’t, I went too far. But she had been angry.
A light step behind her made her turn her head. Was he up already?
No, but a man who had to have been his partner came out of the dark alley. This guy appeared to be the same height as the first one but was obviously in better shape. Even in the rags he wore he looked like a fighter with muscles. The way he held the knife in his hand showed that too. Her dad and Twoskunks both said that you could tell the ability of someone with a knife by the way he, or she, held it. This guy knew his business. Which brought up the question of why someone with that training would be here living a homeless person. Of course drug, addiction can get anyone, she thought.
Kara had no more time for thoughts: the guy had moved close enough to lunge at her. She dodged him, though, he moved deceptively fast,and she finished the movement to get her stunner out. It should have been out sooner but the new outfit was slightly different ,which she hadn’t taken into account.
Her attacker's eyes widened a bit but they went back to normal in a heartbeat. She held the stunner like a knife and her stance reflected that. Behind him she saw a woman come out of the dark alley mouth. Just like one of those otherworldly transportation gates a couple of the books she read contained, her mind insisted on saying.
She wanted to roll her eyes—this wasn’t the time for that. Kara wanted to run but knew they would be on her in a few seconds, unless she could stun them for even a couple of seconds.
The woman moved back like she wanted to let the first guy have all the fun. Kara slid sideways to get a wall behind her to make sure neither of them or a new person could come at her from behind. The man moved to her, and she glanced at the woman without moving her face or eyes. As Kara suspected, she wasn’t homeless, no matter how she dressed in ripped, old gray sweats and a loose-fitting stained top.
A second look and she thought, Neither is this man. She had seen all types of homeless, and this guy didn’t fit: his smell didn’t fit, nor his breath, nor his body language, or his hair style. A part of her mind took a second to hope they hadn’t killed the original owners of the clothing they wore.
She made a feint with the stunner, slightly pressed the button to make a noise, and to produce a spark at the end. That sometimes shook her attackers. Not this guy, though. Another feint which didn’t even make even his eyes look at her hand.
Damn, this guy was good.
Three more fakes, each one closer to him, and she struck for real. He leaned back to avoid the arc. She got her hand back in time to block his first swing. Sweat popped out on her forehead. The stunner warmed her hand since she had it running. A hard lunge from him that turned out to be a feint. She danced as he moved his feet. Two more swings each and she tried to get him to back off by swinging the stunner all the way across her front. It was on full but he moved back only a step and moved his hand to block hers. Or so she thought until a shock ran through her fingers around the stunner. A heartbeat later she knew she no longer held it. How had he done that? She knew there were ways to knock knives out of hands, but she hadn’t seen what he used. She couldn’t stop herself—her eyes went to that hand. All fingers were still there, no blood. So he hadn’t hit her with his blade.
He moved in with a sudden motion. The tip of his blade hit her chest below a breast with a faster motion. The impact pushed her back slightly, and made her grunt. But the new metal held up. She would have a bruise, but no cut. 
 Kara decided if he moved that quick she would have to as well. The heel of one hand slammed into his forehead before she could finish the thought. A jab with her fingers into his sternum and a last sock in the belly with her left fist. Then she doubled up her hands and swung up. The impact on his jaw was enough for her to hear his teeth click. A final double-fisted hit on his face. She hoped to bloody his nose but didn’t connect right. He backed off though with tears in his eyes, but didn’t go down. She had to back off, too.
Her arms were tired already and he was still on his feet. They moved around in a dance. She blocked his knife swings, but he got in a couple punches, and she couldn’t get in another solid hit. But the stunner lay on the cement behind him. She maneuvered him around. The woman joined in and tried to grab Kara from behind, but Kara slammed back with her head. When something hard stopped her head’s momentum she knew she had connected. Kara slid sideways again. Maybe she could run out in the street when some cars came by. They danced some more, the woman behind the man again, and as Kara feinted to the right as if to run to the street, the woman came around the man. A sizzle sounded, followed by an electric buzz. Then the sound of a body hitting cement. So she had forgotten the stunner Kara thought.
When the man glanced at his partner Kara drew her longer knife. The man’s eyes came back to the front and widened for a moment. Sirens sounded. So someone had called the police.

end excerpt

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Second excerpt of my novel The Courier

Feb 24 Aaannddd it’s the last weekend of February already.

This is the second excerpt of The Courier even though I split it into three. This whole scene is way too long for SaturdayScenes so I am only showing-off a 2,884 word section from chapter four.

Right now I am aiming for the last week of March for publication. That will depend on different details though. I may be able to say a closer date next week.


She had been in New Orleans twice before but they had been quick in-and-out runs.
A quick glance out one of the main windows showed her older brick-and-stone buildings that were shorter than the ones in New York. There were some skyscrapers but not in this part of the city. She could see few people as they walked on the sidewalks and the streets here. Many steamcars rolled along. A few buses and trucks too. Of course the city had several districts, and not all were restaurants and night clubs. She did have a list, gotten from other couriers, of what were supposed to be great eating establishments and most were not in the French Quarter. Two would be hard to find but they had great Cajun food while another one had a terrific crayfish, but first she had something to deliver and a response to get. Then she would see how much time she had to go searching for good food. A late-night train ran to New York even though it made one stop where she would have to switch trains.
When one vehicle puffed up to the curb she thought, Good they have cabs here. That would make the trip to the water front easier and faster.
She picked up her gym bag—she already wore her backpack—and headed out the door to fresher air.
Once out, through she coughed. So much for cleaner smelling air. This air contained various types of steam.
More accurately it was what they burned that produced the steam that varied.
Cigar odors joined in with that and, she tilted her head, food smells. There had to be someplace cooking up a storm close by.
Kara decided she could walk a bit to find a driver who might charge her less and who wouldn’t try to take her somewhere else—like a club. So she walked five blocks, and found what appeared to be an empty cab. She looked inside and saw a black man who she assumed was the driver lying on the front seat with his eyes closed. He looked only a little older than herself so he might be a college student, or someone just married who had two jobs. Just like some cabbies in other cities who took naps between fares. Or,… She took a closer look. No blood so probably not a victim of crime or a Mob fight.
She tapped on the driver’s window until the driver’s eyes opened. He looked startled but recovered quickly. He rolled down the window and said,
“You need a cab? And please excuse me I must have fallen asleep while waiting.”
“Yes, I do need a cab; and don’t worry about that, it is early still.”
She got in the back seat and told him the port she needed to get to.
“You taking a small boat out for a run?”
She nodded because he had looked at her in his rearview mirror. The thought came to her that he could be a upcoming jazz musician, who had played late last night but now had to do his day work.
He shifted his eyes to the front, put the car into gear and they lurched forward in a belch of steam she could see out of the back window.
“Sorry about that, but this cab sometimes does that at startup.”
She said, “I understand.”
The cab had looked newer and kept up, but even a steamer in good condition could develop bad reactions.
Over half an hour later he rolled through what could be a small courtyard and pulled up to the parking lot of a certain long one-story building. It looked like it had six storefronts. One other building the same size as the one he parked in front of, graced a side of the courtyard. She paid the driver and gave him an eleven-dollar tip. After she got out he asked if she wanted him to stay around. The day had warmed and she didn’t want to lug her stuff around but she would have to.
Kara said, “You can, but I don’t how long this boat trip will take. Could be three hours or more. So if you get another fare you should take it. But if you’re here I will have you take me back.”
He nodded and she headed for one of the offices in the long building up close to the water. A cool wind like the beginning of a weather front picked up during her walk but it wasn’t bad. The area smelled of the sea and fish as well as the boilers from the cars, trucks and the building itself. It became obvious that some of the fish were rotten even though that odor was faint. She got out some gum with one of the new intense mint flavors. Once she started to chew she almost smiled. Much better. She heard a faint sound that she took to be the ocean, or gulf in this case.
Kara found the correct door and went in.


Forty-five minutes later they neared a platform that stuck out of the water on four legs. She made out two cranes, one of which seemed to move. As they neared it she could tell that each leg looked thicker than a steamtaxi. She wondered how they had planted them in the ocean floor. At this point she could now make out structures on the platform. Two tiny fires burned in different parts of the oil derrick. Electric lights lit up other areas.
Mr. Johnson aimed for a metal ladder that looked welded to one leg. A very small platform sat there along with another two up higher. The ladder led to each one and then to the main one. A man on the larger platform saw them and headed down the ladder.
“I wasn’t able to contact them to say we were coming, but they get unexpected visitors almost every day,” Mr. Johnson said.
Kara nodded.
Mr. Johnson tried two ropes to rings set in the leg.
The man coming down the ladder stopped and shouted, “Who are you?”
Kara raised her voice, “A courier with a message for your OIM and a one for a hydraulic mechanic.”
“Good, we were told to expect a courier. Come on up.”
She looked at the ladder, gave herself a little shrug and grabbed a rung. She went up easily even though the rungs were wet from sea water. Mr. Johnson followed. He looked like he had experience climbing these ladders.
Once up on the platform itself she looked around.
She could see for miles. It looked like mostly water with a few ships in the distance. But she wanted to stay and look.
Up here she could still smell the sea but an odor of burnt oil invaded her sinuses also. Flashes of light showed where men welded and she could see other men carrying pieces of metal, or wrestling machinery into place. An occasional cuss word could be heard as well as sounds of metal against metal and the unique hiss of welding. And she heard something about boiling a certain part of a certain man in the main boiler. Three men in scuba gear walked by, headed inside, it looked like. The wind ripped over the structure. She felt it through her outfit. Mr. Johnson looked cold too. Most of the men were dressed in warm clothing.
The man that met them led them to one of the higher structures, and up a stairway that clanged with their footsteps. She wanted to spit because oil in the air got in her mouth when she breathed in. But she wasn’t sure how they would take it.
Once inside the man led them down a hallway. Or is that “passageway”? she thought. No wind in here, so it was warmed. Everything was metal even though an attempt had been made to make it look like an office building on land. He continued to what looked like an office: carpet on the floor, cushioned chairs, a clock on a desk, artwork on walls. A man sat behind a desk. It smelled a little of cleaners, cigars and cologne.
“Mr. Dampfgang? A courier has a delivery for you.”
The man in a black turtleneck looked up from a piece of paper. He took them all in at a glance Kara saw.
He said, “Good, I was expecting something today. Thank you for showing them in.”
The man must have taken that as a dismissal for he left. Mr. Dampfgang motioned them in. He greeted Mr. Johnson, looked at Kara and said, “Good, you arrived early. Ms…?”
“Kara. As you probably know, I have something for you to read, and I was told to wait for a response.”
The manager nodded. “In that case let me have what I am to read.”
Kara stepped to the desk. Even through her boots the carpet felt thicker than she expected and it seemed to be warmer than the metal floor. That last had to be just in her mind. She wore her work boots for one reason.
She took off her pouch and placed it on the desk. She found the correct folder and gave it to Mr. Dampfgang.
Kara said, “I have one more delivery here,”—he looked up with surprise on his face, “for a John Kilgood. One of the junior hydraulic mechanics.”
“I know him.” He paused than shouted, “Greg!” A man in coveralls looked in. “Go get John Kilgood. Tell him he has a message.”
The man said, “Yes sir,” and took off.
“I can read this and maybe have a response before he gets here.”
Kara said, “Sounds good.”
She stood there while Mr. Dampfgang read. Mr. Johnson had whispered that he had something to do and would be back in a couple of minutes. After what may have been ten minutes Greg came back with another man. This one wore greasy coveralls. The new guy looked twenty-three and in good shape with short blond hair.
Kara stood and said, “Are you John Kilgood, married to Aurore Kilgood?”
“I am John Kilgood and I am married to Aurore,” he said with a worried frown. He spoke with a Scottish accent which changed the pronunciation of Kilgood.
Kara reached into her pouch and drew out a thick, large brown envelope and handed it to Kilgood.
He took it from her with worry still in his eyes. He opened it and pulled out what looked like a handwritten letter. He read and his expression changed to a different type of worry, and then they lit up and he broke into a large smile.
John looked up and said in an almost shout, “I’m a father! My wife had a baby boy. It was a month early, but she says everyone is fine and healthy.”
He reached into the envelope again and withdraw a bunch of what looked like photographs. John went through them and said, “Here are pictures of my new baby.”
With a proud look, he showed them to Kara. “Here’s the baby, here’s my beautiful wife, the doctor, and others holding my son.”
She thought the wife might be a little embarrassed that he had showed pictures of her breast feeding, but then again maybe not. Kara brought out a form and asked him to sign it, just to say he received the package and that it was in good shape. He did with a thanks to her.
“I only charged your wife the basic price without expenses, since I had another run out here anyway.”
She had thought about giving them a further discount but John made good money even on the lower end of the pay scale here.
He smiled at her in gratitude, but went back to showing the pictures around.

A blast of light and sound showed that lighting had struck too close. She hoped that Mr. Johnson knew the way to his dock, as she couldn’t tell where they were. But she decided it would be better to not distract him to by asking.
She spat out more water and breathed in more. Ozone had built enough to smell and taste it, even as the rain washed it away. Her clothes were very uncomfortable since they were soaked and now clammy. At least they were not getting wetter. Kara looked out of the front and saw a light. Not large enough to be a lighthouse—at least she assumed there would be some near here on the Gulf. She looked around. There seemed to be a light over to her right—far to her right. Around Mobile? Kara shook her head she didn’t know enough about this coast to even guess.
One would be very good at this point though. It could show the way into the bay. But Mr. Johnson seemed to know where he headed for so maybe the light was coming from a building or something.
Kara wondered if her new goggles would help her to see through this weather, but more than likely they would be wet and hard to see through in no time. Water splashed up into the front of the boat. She tried to move even closer to the windshield. It offered at least a tiny bit of protection. And she hoped the boat had some form of pumps to make sure they didn’t fill up with water.
A sudden cough made her jerk. It had come from an engine. She spun around and looked at it. Not much she could do if it failed but maybe if it was only the boiler. She slipped and slid to the boiler near that engine and found that its fire had gone out. Too much water in it from the storm?
How to cover the boiler to keep the fire going?
Not too many ways out here.
A new thought and she ran to the compartment with the slickers. She grabbed one and slipped and slid back to the boiler. She tied one arm to a pole that stuck up near the boiler and the other to the other boiler. The back of the slicker top hung down over the burner. She might have to hold it away from it, but first…
Kara brought out a cheap lighter and got a flame going. This older contraption did not have the same burner that Danny used but still they were all similar. She looked up at where they were headed. The boat had slowed but the rain had sped up. From the way the boat bounced, so had the waves. She could smell the oil Mr. Johnson burned. It should easier to light than other materials used. The wind and waves made too much noise for Mr. Johnson to yell any advice or encouragement. But he might be trying anyway, she thought.
She licked her lips and discovered that not all of the moisture on her face had come from the clouds. How could she be sweating in this weather? With a frown she bent back down and tried to light the starter. It wouldn’t. She stood again and looked around. A gust of wind pulled the slicker out of her hand and almost knocked her down.
She tried again but the starter refused to catch fire. Kara bit her lip. She wasn’t going to drown in this storm. There had to be an answer.
More wind. This time she had to retie one of the arms. She made sure the other one stayed tight. A sudden bounce. One foot slipped on the wet deck. Kara moved her feet fast in what could have been a dance under other circumstances. A break dance, she thought.
I hope I don’t land on my head.
Her face twisted into a frown then a snarl. Her head went up to stare at the sky, but she aborted that move. All that would happen once her face was out from under the hat, is that she would get water in her eyes and probably mouth.
One corner of the slicker top pulled out of her hand and slapped her face even as she tried to duck.
Aww, it got my eye.
Not bad enough to injury it but she still had to rub it—gently of course. Once her eye would open again she bent over the starter again. She needed to get it going now.
She looked at the where the fire would start.
Kara reached out and touched it.
Damn, wet.
There was only thing to do about that, so she pulled out one of her knives, trimmed the wick and tried again. This time it started. She pulled back when the burner flared. This time when it died down, the fires kept going.
Kara thought of something she should have checked already. She looked in the water tank to make sure of the water situation and found it still at a good level.
Better, something worked out.
I am not drowning. That would allow my dad to say he knew I couldn’t do it. He said I would need every bit of training he could give me but that I would still fail myself.

End excerpt