Tag Archives: fiction

Guardians of our Lives ~ in Fiction and in Thought

It is time, dear readers, to return to the world of “Humanities Unbound.” Although there will always be a place in my writing and my life for my husband and for the caregiver in all of us, there is a time when we must return to the world at large. For this gentle shift back into that world, I have chosen to invite a friend to tell us about her book. It is a book about angels.  Not just any angels! Angels as something different and apart from demands placed on them by human legend and religion.

Please welcome, Etta Jean as she tells us about her new release, Shadow on the Sea.

SotS Cover

The concept of angels has always fascinated me. Even for those who are non-religious or unorthodox in religion, angels are an interesting concept that permeates our everyday society and culture. Coming at this from a more unorthodox point-of-view, I started wondering what sorts of beings might angels be if they were not religious in overtone. What if they were just a different race? Better, what if that race had somehow inspired our mythos around angels to begin with?

And, thus, Shadow on the Sea was born.

Scattered through my Lightling and Darkling races are plenty of tips of the hat to the legends they inspired and were inspired by. To fit such a rich history of a new race into a novelette is not easy, and I came at it by deciding to follow the life of a very special angel as she goes from birth, to her stages of evolution, to her final maturity. She brings you on her journey of growth, and I think you might just find yourself growing along with her.

Ceres is a world of angels, and love is their greatest heaven of all. We should all be so lucky.

The world of Ceres has been ruled for millennia by the winged race known as Lightlings. When the Chalice Kingdom celebrates the birth of the next crown princess, they have no idea just what events have been set into motion. The beautiful angel has a special, shadowy, gift, and only by learning to control it will she be able to claim the lover rightfully hers by destiny, and save her world from an evil bent on consuming them all.

Shadow on the Sea can be found on Amazon at:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00WDEMR6Q and http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00WDEMR6Q

Etta Jean was made in England but born in Sacramento, California. Her destiny as a bard was somewhat inevitable. Little else can explain how she constantly told her mother tall tales so outlandish that she couldn’t even get grounded for them. A love of worlds created by others eventually brought out the desire to create her own, and she has never looked back. She has seen both good and evil in her life, and her stories, like life, have no half measures. Her happy endings never come without cost, though, for she truly believes we can’t appreciate the good and the joy without the bad and the pain along the way.

Her current haunt is a comfy house in her beloved Sacramento where she wrangles three feline fur-kids and consumes peppermints like mana in order to balance a calendar filled with more creative venues than a sane person should realistically undertake. If she’s not chained to her desk, she’s stomping through the scenery in search of equally fantastical photographs.

Etta Jean can be located on the web at: http://www.ettajeanfantasy.com/ and ettajeanfantasy.wordpress.com

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Filed under My Bookshelf ~ Fiction

The Cave

I’ve been trying my hand at fiction again.  It’s a nice release with taxes, year ends, moving, and well, hospice.  This story is from a flash fiction challenge in a small Facebook group.  I hope you enjoy it.

Michio hugged the warm rock as the cool water washed over his limbs in the rhythm of the tides. The secluded tidal pond filled when the tide was high in the bay. This was a place Micho could be alone; where no one would disturb him. He was long-lived for his species; but then he was not permitted to breed. This was a voluntary commitment made when he became a student of the tribe’s Keeper. After months of intense study, and lessons in the art of his kind, he succeeded his teacher. He was growing old now and his hopes for a suitable successor were fading. Perhaps that was the way it was to be. The world was changing rapidly in ways his people could no longer control.

His folk were exceptional hunters. They were intelligent, agile and masters at camouflage. But, the waters that made up their home were changing and food sources were quickly disappearing. Invaders had come. Four-limbed creatures that moved oddly. They lit up the waters and blew bubbles like a school of hunting dolphins. They threw things into the sea, made loud noises and had attacked the folk without provocation. They should move, but they could not leave the cave.

Michio slid down from his perch and swam the short distance to the cave at the edge of the bay. The cave was a magical place. Many generations of Keepers had created the art found on its walls. Even the invaders seem entranced with something that did not look entirely natural but for which they had no explanation. Michio hoped their work would survive and much of his daily meditations were devoted to seeking a way to protect it.
Carefully, he positioned himself on a clear section next to the work he had completed the day before. He ejected his ink carefully along his extended arm. Working quickly and with a dexterity born from years of practice, Michio recorded the latest legend he had heard. He worked methodically through the night.

In the early morning hours the moon sunk close enough to the horizon to light the entrance to the cave.. In the reflecting light, flickering across the walls with the gentle beat of the surf, Michio noticed a very old entry in a semi-exposed crevice. Finished with his night’s work, he swam to the crevice and climbed up the wall for a better look.

As dawn broke on the bay, Micho saw the answer. He and his folk could protect the cave. They could preserve it for those who knew what it was and where to find it. They were, after all, masters of camouflage. And Keepers of the Sentient Invertebrate Living Kabbala (SILK).
http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/d-brief/2013/09/13/camouflaged-octopus-makes-marine-biologist-scream-bloody-murder/#.VQUQV-HzOxx

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Filed under My Fiction - Very Short Fiction

When the forecasts talk back.

Few professions seem to be more devoid of all imagination than accounting. The general assumption is that the day to day grind of processing numbers, finding “bottom lines” and figuring out what someone thought they were doing is, well, beyond boring. Accounting, to some folks, ranks somewhere in the neighborhood of watching paint dry. By extension such folks assume that the people whdragono perform these tasks are unimaginative creatures, condemned to watching spreadsheets grow and morph. Well, it isn’t quite that way. At least not for all of us. You see, I’m an accountant and I should know.

Actually, I’m a special kind of accountant, one that spends at least part of her time looking into the fogs of the future and making “educated guesses” on what might happen. This is really pretty important. People spend money on what they think will happen, not on what happened yesterday. Don’t believe me? Give someone a few thousand dollars. Are they going to remember they were broke yesterday and couldn’t find enough to eat? Not very often! So, “looking into the future” becomes a discipline, a way of saying, what might happen. And that is where the possibilities begin.

I will admit that most forecasts, budgets and predictions are just another set of numbers manipulated based on historical information and pushed forward with (ahem) reasonable expectations. But every now and then the practiced forecaster can catch a bit of something special. Something just over the horizon if only. One night, I had a helper.

It was a typical night. Well, a typical nearing midnight, eyes sagging, falling asleep kind of night when I first glimpsed my own tiny dragon. The project I was working on was creative, did require some knowledge of the arts, and also required some background on what makes people want to contribute to a project for the pure pleasure of it; not because it has some promised return. That is not particularly easy.

After writing pages and pages of answers to questions on a tax form, my eyes became quite droopy. The words were blurring and I was positive I had said the same things already, probably had knowing tax forms as I do. Did I miss a question? How can I make this sound like, well, it has meaning and should be supported? “You need a little spark there.” What?

“Yes, just there. It sounds like you’re selling shoes, not music.” I’m talking to myself now? “No, you silly woman, you are not talking to yourself, I’m trying to help you here!” I’m only drinking tea, who is talking to me? “Right here, right on your monitor stand, your own special dragon. I can see what is on the screen and you sound more boring than a tax auditor. You have to pep this up.” I am tired, I had better shut this whole mess down.

Suddenly, a tiny spark flew into the air and there was a faint odor of wood smoke. And I saw him. A tiny blue and green dragon posing near my monitor and pointing with his front paw at a particularly long and dense passage. Well, he was right. It was horrible. Even if no one ever read it, it was horrible. I sighed.

“So what would you suggest, Mr. Oh-so-smart?”

“Go back to the reason you took this thing on to begin with.” (Delivered with tiny puffs of smoke.) “Tell these people, if anyone ever reads this, that this is the most important idea in the whole county. That bringing the passion of Baroque and Classical music to a rural resort in the middle of nowhere is a spark of inspiration, an opportunity that few if any of these people would ever enjoy without this particular program. Tell these people that in a world full of ugly news and terrifying tragedies, that you can still celebrate the beauty that humanity can create. And you can do it in a secluded, mountain valley during a weekend retreat with world class artists and terrific food.”

Well, even if no one ever reads this stuff, I think I’d like to go.

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Filed under My Fiction - Very Short Fiction

30 Cubed – The Players

It is a legend born out of the distant frozen north. Ancient as the ice sheets which remained in the summer-long day, yet renewed each season as the great sea swelled with new life and nutrients. It was the heartbeat of the north, announcing the coming and going of the winter-long night. The tribes that inhabited the land could not say where the story began, they only knew it had been passed down, seemingly forever. The story went something like this.

The masters of the great ice ocean were and always have been the great Polar Bears. Full grown males weigh in at 770 to 1,540 pounds. Their ladies only half that size. These great beasts do not sleep the winter away, unless the individual is a pregnant sow. No, the great white hunters are active all winter long, wandering the ice-encrusted world under a sunless sky. A bit lonely, one would think. Possibly even boring. So what does a bear with a full stomach and no parental duties do in the dark?

That’s where the legend comes from. You see, once Polar Bears have full stomachs they can be a rather jovial bunch. Males are not adverse to, well, playing together. It was something that started in a small group, just two or three bears, in friendly competition. Who could pounce the deepest hole in the ice to catch a seal? Who could break up the ice to hunt down a good swimming spot to find a good floe? In all the exercise someone noticed that large chunks of ice traveled well on the sea ice and it was interesting to see who could hit it furthest. The competition grew.

So it became an annual affair. After the sun has slipped below the horizon for its winter absence, out would come the champions of the prior year to defend their title and find new ways to compete on the open sea ice. Some years could be a bit lean and if so, well, tempers were not quite as jovial.

Not so far to the south of bear country was another roaming animal, a great beast of nearly the same weight. This one, however, sported great antlers build in wide paddles with massive force when applied in rutting battles. Of course these huge racks would drop before the winter chills descended on the tundra. Somewhat, well, denuded, solitary males wandered the winter tundra for something to do to keep in shape while on a reduced winter diet. The ruckus raised by bears apparently doing battle drew the attention of some of these solitary souls.

What had first sounded like a fierce battle now appeared as something quite different. There were pouncing bears, rolling bears, bears digging holes in the snow, and bears throwing or scooting ice. As the dehorned beasts watched, a large chunk of ice landed at their feet. The bears stopped and looked intently at the newcomers.

Now, you need to understand that under certain circumstance, bears have no problem helping themselves to a dinner of moose. So, for such an event as our legend to take place, everybody had to have very full tummies and no concerns about continued resources. But this is how the story goes.

The moose kicked the ice chunk back.

And so the great and hallowed spirit game of Hockey was born.

Now you know why even when the great northern country brought the ancient legend to the ice rink of 20th century human settlements, it wasn’t a game until their southern neighbors were invited to join.

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A bit of a jab at my dear friends north of the border. After five years in Canada I can tell you that Hockey is far more than a sport in the great white north. Even more than “football” in American, it is a cultural icon.

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30 Cubed – The Commuter

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There are some days that just don’t go according to plan. No matter what you try things just seem to conspire to make it go south. For some reason I seem to be having a lot of those recently. Here, I’ll give you an example.

Most people arise at some unnatural hour and prepare to drive some time-warp distance in order to earn what we like to call “a living.” Time-warp because the distance in space is usually inversely related to the distance in time. After a long and arduous journey they arrive at the “place of making a living.” Here they spend approximately 8 hours moving pieces of information from one place to another and hoping (well possibly hoping) that it all ends up in a form that someone finds useful. Then the process reverses itself and they return home to enjoy the fruits of their labor. Weekends might be a bit better, although, there’s mowing and cleaning and shopping and such. It all seems to be, well, a treadmill.

I’m not particularly fond of treadmills but I am rather fond of eating, staying warm (or cool) and having sufficient outer clothing to keep me out of the gossip column. Consequently, I too must venture out into the world to hunt and gather the funds necessary to meet my needs. However, I tend to do so in the most creative manner I can manage. That sometimes gets me into — situations.

I was running a bit late on this particular morning. Probably up too late the night before chatting away with like-minded folks in various Internet forums. However, one must sally forth and take on the day at whatever pace you first set.

There were a few stops along the way and the first was the office supply store. Someone is always running out of something and it wouldn’t be convenient to wait for a delivery, so I offered to stop and pick up the order. I pulled up in front as they were opening the doors. First greeting of the morning? “You can’t stop there!”

“And, why would that be? I have an order waiting.”

“This is no place for that, that thing you have there. You’ll have to come back or send someone else.”

I see, well then, I suppose I can try the next stop. This was the florist’s shop. A fellow worker was leaving on maternity leave and we had planned a small party. As I pulled up in front of the door the lady came running out waving her arms, “No, no! You can’t stop there!”

“But I have an order and it’s paid for!”

“What’s the name, I’ll bring it.”

“Okay then, it is for Alice.” She brought the order to me. I stowed it away and off I went again. Last stop was the coffee shop. Surely this small bit could be handled without causing major to do. After all, our office was a regular, we took turns picking up the order. When I arrived the owner stepped out of his shop door with our regular tray of drinks and promptly dropped them on the sidewalk.

“Susan, you have to get a grip on things.”

“What things, Alex?”

“Things, Susan, you need to have a firmer grasp on reality. Don’t you know that, that beast does not exist?”

Does not exist? What could he possibly mean? It was then I nearly fell off my Unicorn.

 

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Hopefully not too contrived, a bit for my friend Stacey, an avid believer in Unicorns and all things fae. But then, aren’t a lot of us that way?

 

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30 Cubed – The Linguist

header slimThe cottage was perched on the edge of the rocky cliff, a bare 50 feet above the high tide marks. It wasn’t all that unusual for it to take the brunt of a storm now and then. That’s what shutters were for. And the generator. Power this far out from the nearest town was iffy on occasion and if you wanted to read and work on a computer, well, power was a very good thing.

Infonet access was only available through satellite phone. What had once been the wild wild west of information had finally been organized in a way that humans could manage. University libraries were digitized, museums were online with virtual tours. No one had to argue over who stole what from where. What was not hidden away in private collections was returned to the source country and set up in virtual holo-deck tracks.

I had lived in this cottage for a decade. It was cozy, easy to take care of (except when one of those storms blew in) and it put me right on the doorstep of the Pacific Ocean and a beautiful, private, beach. When I’m wasn’t conducting research in the water or out, I was walking that beach and letting the rolling waves and gentle breeze help me think. I did a lot of that. The information that I was gathering kept me hungry for more.

Each day I would put on my gear, step into the water and swim out beyond the kelp beds. That’s where they would meet me, those playful, intelligent and sometimes rather cruel beasts we had always called dolphins. Yes, that’s right, I’m that one. The one that claims she can talk to dolphins. I retreated here a decade ago because people thought I was nuts. Even with piles of evidence, the arrogance of the human race could not look at a “fish” and think intelligence. Primates managed to garner some sympathy, but they could play like a human. Dolphins, though they would perform, were stubbornly their very own creature.

As a student I had come upon the work of Dr. Laurance Doyle who worked with SETI in the early 21st century. He devised a method to determine if a group of sounds conveyed information. The squeaks, whistles, clicks and bubble blowing of dolphins charted out in the same manner as any human language. He was convinced they were conveying information. Their food gathering plots were intricate and showed quite a bit of intelligence. Then, of course, they had fascinated mankind and pervaded myths and legends in one form or another for centuries. I could not resist the urge to find out just what it was they were so talkative about.

Well, I believe I know now. I will be meeting with the pod today. I’ll have to tell them it’s the last day. I really must put together all of the information I have documented. People need to know and I think I have enough evidence to show them what we should have known all along. I know without a doubt that I have accurately recorded their stories. As ancient as the species, and as broad as the ocean itself. These wise creatures know the health of the globe like no human can.

We’ve had discussions about my approach. They are really not that happy that I want to share. You see, they have a plan to change things. It’s not just theirs, of course, they would have help. But it would cause a lot of upheaval and I’d like to get the word out before something terrible has to happen. They are trying to convince me that the only thing I will accomplish is a mass murder of them and their kind. I really hope humanity is better than that! In any case, I’ll try to get them to work with me one more time.

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Debris floated in the surf. A waterlogged computer lay half covered with drifting sand. The drifting bits appeared to be the remains of a small cottage. Perhaps a storm had come without much warning; perhaps not.

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Filed under My Fiction - Very Short Fiction

30 Cubed – The Children

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The youth played with the stick in his hand. Poking the campfire in front of him while watching the flames dance in the evening air. It felt like it might rain, but these days one never knew. Weather came and went at the whim of those that played with it. It was best not to anticipate, but be prepared. He tossed another limb on the fire.

“Why are you doing that? You should be practicing and not using your hands for such a simple thing.”

Jason sat back on his log and turned to his younger sister. “Sometimes it’s nice to do something yourself. To have a feeling for what it was to pick something up and figure out how to make it work. Maybe you are too young to remember, but I do.”

“Oh, no, Jason, I remember. I also remember things we could have done if we had practiced more.” Susan looked at the fire and watched it grow under her gaze. She shivered and glanced at their younger brother sitting off by himself intent on watching some helpless creature in its own struggle for life.

“Susan, you cannot blame yourself. I certainly did not see it coming so I don’t know how you could have.” He shifted in his seat and focused on the child long enough to make sure he wasn’t forgetting to stay warm.

“Jason, we didn’t know she was sick. If we had known we might have kept Andy from trying to fix her. He just didn’t know enough.”

“I, know. Neither did we, really. But we couldn’t have known how Dad would react. I guess he’s always been uncomfortable with the change. Frank told me a lot of the parents, especially fathers, just can’t handle it. In his eyes Andy killed Mom. He wouldn’t listen when we told him Andy was trying to fix the cancer. He didn’t really believe she had it. I guess with all this other stuff going on she didn’t want to tell anyone. But Andy knew. He knew it hurt her and he wanted to fix it. He just didn’t understand all the things he needed to know.”

Susan sighed and willed another log on the fire. It was getting colder. Unseasonably so. But seasons were no longer things to trust. Not as those who were Andy’s age began to play with the world as if it were a large tinker toy or box of legos. “I still hope he’ll be okay.”

“I only knocked him out, Susan. I do know what I’m doing.”

“That’s why you wanted to touch the limb, isn’t it? You’re not really sure.”

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Another visit to the world of Childhood’s End.

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