Though I walk through the shadow

otto-tuneLast night I dreamed of Otto.

When he took me in his arms and I melted into him, I smelled his distinct essence and I was safe again.

I remember being in a car while he was driving, then we met with business suits about radios. Of course, radios and communication was Otto’s passion.

At the end of our time together, he did what he always did– he fed me. We stopped at this Italian buffet filled with meats, pasta, breads, and salads. The buffet was run from a small home. The place was so popular that I couldn’t move around. There were tables in the house and outside the house to eat.

When I finished filling my plate, I turned around and he was gone. I couldn’t feel him anywhere. I asked the ladies where he was. They told me he had been called away and had left out the back door. I felt instantly bereft.

Once again I only had a brief time with him.

When I went back to my transportation out of there, I had this small flashlight to light the way. I could hear his voice telling me to be more aware of my surroundings. I could avoid danger while he was away.

I almost regretted that I hadn’t spent every minute with him when I could.

I dashed the tears from my eyes and remembered– “No regrets.” Our time together may have been short, but we lived it as fully as we could.

Until I see you again, Otto. Au revoir, my love.

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If you are looking for some good reads

Before I became a writer, I was a reader. To be honest I am still a reader. I know when I’m not feeling well if I don’t read a book every couple of days. I used to read a lot more and a lot faster, but my writing time cuts into my reading time.

Anyway I wanted to pass along a few works of some sci-fi and fantasy writers that I have either read or I have on my TBR (to-be-read) pile. You might enjoy some of these as well.

phantoms2018
Phantoms
by Stephanie Osborn

Has Alpha One been played?

At long last, Echo and Omega are going on their first real date, and Echo pulls out all the stops.

But when he introduces Omega to a Broadway star, they find art imitating life, as a dangerous nonhuman entity plagues the theater.

Alpha One goes undercover to bring to light what’s really happening. But is the entity after the show’s leads…or have Echo and Omega been played?

***

sugar skullSugar Skull
By Cedar Sanderson

Short Story:

Sally, whose full name was Alessandra Padilla Rivera, and who had been raised by a grandmama on stories of El Cucuy, the chupacabra, and the jaguar god who hunts in the night, knows how hard good jobs are to find, and keep. She has a mother to support, and a new job to prove herself at. A couple of problems, though… She is working in a morgue where strange things are happening. The only person she can talk to is her boss, her mother just turns the television volume up, and her friends are grossed out by her job. But Sally is convinced her boss isn’t fully human…

 

***

highway

Highway to Tartarus
By Holly Chism

Insanity seems to run rampant in the immortal population, and Hades seems to be the one the Fates tap to contain them all; however, this time, Hades, and Kyra, the former goddess of War from Atlantis, have to find and catch the one who’s gone dangerously insane: Deshayna, Kyra’s identical twin, and the former goddess of Death.

 

 

 

***

soldier Like a Continental Soldier
By Laura Montgomery

The starship Valerie Hall failed to reach the terraformed world of its original destination. Instead, it found a habitable substitute where the settlers split into two factions. First Landing devolved into a rude replica of medieval despotism. Seccon might promise more.

Or so hope Gilead Tan and his companions.

Gilead spent three centuries in cold sleep, held there by a First Landing custom that decreed only one sleeper could be awakened every fifty years. Once awake, Gilead freed two dozen of his fellows—all soldiers like himself—and led them into the wilderness.

Close to two hundred civilians still lie trapped in the decaying cryo-cells of First Landing. Their captive slumber haunts him.

But despite its vaunted freedom, Seccon has one rule. No one goes back to First Landing.

Continue reading

Wednesdays are for poets

Conception

“Leaving so soon love,” I ask as
I watch his muscles flex, seeing
the graceful dance of youth, as he

gazes on me—fully in bloom.
His finger slides down my neck, down
to the hollow between my breasts.

“Yes,” he answers. “I can’t lie here
all day making mad passionate
love. I have other poets, you

know.” He smiles, lingers, and touches
my rounded stomach. Soon, soon, I
know, the words will come, pouring from

my fingers onto the blank page.
I watch him close the wooden door . . .
secure . . . knowing that soon I will

give breath to ideas, thoughts, and
poems—knowing that we, muse and poet,
have fertilized the well of dreams.

Cynthia E Bagley
Published in Poetry Monthly, Issue 75, June 2002

Tuesday Snippet – Unlicensed Sorceress – Chapter Two

unlicensed sorceress 2017Chapter Two

Koenigstadt – Interrogation room
Davi Dracson

The gray stone floor blurred as Davi tried to keep his eyes open. He straightened his shoulders instead of leaning against Kayla. Kayla was a dwarf, a little taller than her kin, and his blacksmith. A blacksmith was the only person that he could channel his magic through without causing damage. She also had her own fire and healing magic.

They were a bonded team. She had been running from the bond since her birth. When she had climbed into the dragon nest of gold, where he had been dying, she had bonded with him and saved his life. They were too young to bond and would never have little ones. The bond made them sterile. It also mean that they would live longer lives than normal dragons and dwarfs.

The wooden bench they were sitting on seemed to get harder and he wanted to stand up and stretch. Kayla held his hand with enough pressure that he stayed seated.

He leaned against the stark white wall, looking for some way to leave this little room. His stomach growled from hunger. It had been hours since he had eaten. He had used a lot of magic during the fight with the Dragur. When he had been forced to transform into a dragon in front of the Old One, it had taken the rest of his energy.

He needed to eat. Even if he ate, he needed to sleep for a long long time. Kayla’s normally olive complexion was white and he could feel her tremble slightly. He wasn’t sure if the change in color was from fear or from pain. No one had checked to see if she had been hurt.

He sagged against Kayla and she stroked the top of his head. His eyes closed and he was gone. She gently laid his heavy head on her lap and waited.

When he woke up, they were still in the stark room.

“What?” Davi sat up and looked around the room. He wiped off the saliva that had dripped from his mouth and ran down his face. He could smell an overpowering smell of disinfectant. Under that smell was a scent of old decaying blood. Someone hadn’t cleaned this room too well.

He felt all over and when he looked at his arms, he could see the beginnings of bruises that spoiled his skin in purple and green colors. He was sure there were dark bruises on his face and even his legs. He didn’t check his legs. Why bother?

Plus there were no mirrors in this room so he couldn’t check his face either. From Kayla’s look, the bruises must look bad. He groaned for sympathy.

“Shhh,” said Kayla in his mind. “Someone is watching us.”

He looked for peepholes or openings. When he didn’t find one, he used his dragon senses. Everything around him felt blank. Finally he opened his mouth and tasted the air. It tasted of metal and dirt.

The taste was recognizable at least to him. The wizards were using earth magic to watch them.

He’d give them something to look at. He stood up, and abruptly lurched. His hand banged against the wall as he fell into it. He stood there for a moment braced against the wall with Kayla watching him closely until he could stand without falling.

When he felt confident enough that he could walk to the door without hurting himself, he shuffled to the door. The doorknob was round and silver. He hesitantly wrapped his hand around the door and tried to open it. The door was locked.

He could feel the lock on the door. Something inside of him quested forth and prodded the lock. It was a simple lock. With his dragon strength he could have broken the door wide open. Even Kayla with her magic could have broken the door.

He glanced at her. She ducked her head.

So, there was a reason she didn’t want them to know her strength. He walked around the room, stretched his legs, tried out his whistle, which was a little squeaky and dry. Then he sat down next to Kayla.

Firm footsteps approached the door. There was a click as the door was unlocked and a guard dressed in the king’s colors of red and blue garnished with gold stepped into the room.

“Follow me,” he said. He made an about-face and marched out of the room.

They didn’t have too many choices so they followed the guard into a hallway lit with oil lamps. They could hear their footsteps echo in the hallway. The only people in the hallway was the three of them. When they reached the next hallway, the guard made a military right turn. His moves were precise and practiced.

Davi and Kayla followed. There were several lefts and rights. It was a maze in here and if they had left the room, they would have gotten lost in it. Davi shivered. Would the mages have left them in one of these hallways as they looked for a way out?

Before he could scare himself and Kayla silly, they walked through an archway covered in vines. The daylight was gone, so the ivy had was black and gray with deep shadows. He wanted to duck as they walked through the archway.

“Show no fear,” Kayla whispered in his mind.

He squared his shoulders and didn’t hesitate to follow the guard.

The smell of roses, lavender, and sage teased his nose. He whispered back to Kayla, very sure that the guard couldn’t eavesdrop on their mind talk. “It’s a garden.

A gray shadow emerged from the twilight and stood in front of the guard. The guard saluted and then left Davi and Kayla to their fate. As they got closer to the shadow, they saw another guard, this one dress in the same uniform but in a swirling grays and white that made it difficult to see in the darkness.

A sword hung at his waist and in his hand he held a large stick that glowed at one end.

The glow was blue, a color that wouldn’t hurt the guard’s night vision. Davi could smell the combination of iron and magic in the guard’s weapons.

The idea of combining iron and magic caught his curiosity. Iron negated magic. Before he could ask how they had done that, Kayla gave him a slight nudge. Oh yeah, he needed to look harmless.

The guard turned his back on them and marched down the path. It was an expression of contempt. Or at least if he was a dragon, turning your back on an enemy was a sign of disrespect. Still if Davi had tried to take the guard, he would have been hurt by the others in the garden. They wouldn’t have been able to run away safely.

The moonlight revealed the two-story house. The air nipped Davi’s ears and he kept his eyes forward. He searched for webs of magic around the house. He must have been too tired and too worn out because he saw nothing. This house would be their prison while they were there. The guard knocked on the door.

Another guard opened it. Davi and Kayla walked in.

They wiped their feet on the rug next to the door. An older man in a black suit directed them to a small parlor a few feet away. Davi took in a couple of stuffed chairs, a couched, and a window that looked out into the darkened garden. On the window were twisted bars made of a type of iron. His stomach twisted. If they tried to escape using magic, it would be much harder with all the iron.

He needed to tell Hilda about the iron and magic combination that the guards were using. Much of his tension must have been coming from Kayla because his stomach suddenly quieted down and he could feel her smiling.

Hilda was lying scrunched up on one of the stuffed chairs. A book was lying across her thighs as she was reading. She looked up at them and smile, then straightened herself so that she was sitting.

He slid around the butler, and ran to Hilda. He pulled her up and gave her a big hug.
“What took you so long?”

Kayla was more dignified as she walked to the two of them. Then she put her arms around Hilda and they stood there. “You’ve been gone over 48 hours.” Hilda whispered.

Then she added. “There are listening devices all over this room.”

Hilda pulled away and smiled. “Let’s find a room for you two.”

“Where’s Michael?” asked Davi. At least they weren’t in a cell, awaiting execution. This kingdom still remembered the Mage and Dragon wars. It wasn’t good to be a dragon here, even a dragon that was in human form.

“Michael’s at the mage university,” Hilda, pulled open a door next to her bedroom. It had two beds. “You’ll stay here.”

Kayla wandered around the room, looking at the wardrobes, beds, and chairs. She sat on a bed and bounced. When she was finished bouncing, she went to the wooden chair and sat down. Davi knew she was looking for listening devices. He could smell two of them.

They also smelled of iron and magic.

“Michael won’t be back until tomorrow,” Hilda said. “Are you two hungry?”

Davi’s stomach roared in protest. “Please,” he said humbly.

They followed her down the stairs, turned right, and into the kitchen. A wooden table was filled with fresh baked bread, cheese and butter. Hilda sawed off a hunk for both of them. He put cheese on it and began to eat slowly.

He smiled as he heard Kayla hum in his head. It was strange to be connected to someone so closely. Still he wanted to purr and hum with her.

Hilda pulled some sausages out of the larder. Davi ate until his stomach bulged just a little. Then he drank a pint of ale. The ale settled his stomach enough that he was ready for the pudding.

“A hollow leg,” Hilda laughed as handed him the last of the bread.

He burped and sat back. He could see Sassy in the flames of the kitchen’s fireplace. She cavorted and chuckled.

It would have been perfect if he hadn’t looked out the window just then. A face stared at the four of them. His hair was long and dark, his beard was bushy, and there was a sour expression on his face.

“There.” Davi pointed at the window, but the face was gone. He must have imagined it.
Hilda looked out the window but didn’t see the spy.

Then Davi began to yawn. He followed Kayla back to their room and soon he was snoring.

Kayla stayed away until the daylight touched the window, and then she went to sleep.
Someone had to guard the dragon.

What is magic?

woman in white cap sleeved shirt blowing dust

Photo by Jakob on Pexels.com

I write fantasy.

If you have read any of my posts and any of my writings, you would have already figured that out. I can hear you say “duh” in my mind.

What you might not know about me is that I believe in magic. When I think of life, the universe, and everything (yes, I am quoting Douglas Adams), it doesn’t make sense that everything is in an orderly and logical place. Without a little chaos, creativity or I call it magic, this would be a very dull world. As humans we are combinations of logic and illogic, of perfectly working systems and illness, and logic and emotion.

I’m still trying to understand the emotions. The words we have for them are so inadequate– anger, fear, love, joy. None of these words express the nuances of the actual emotion.

I had to learn how to read emotion as a young child. If I couldn’t read what was happening around me, I would end up in trouble. Extreme trouble. I won’t go into my childhood– I am just pointing out that with that background, I can read people better than I should.

It is harder for me to express those emotions on the page. I do my best and sometimes I surprise myself.

So what is magic? In my stories, magic comes from the elements–fire, water, earth, and air. Many of these mages and sorcerers learn magic systems for years before they get good at effects and outcomes. But stories are not real life.

I can look at a tree and catalog each part of it starting at the bark and ending at the leaves. The magic is when I step back and see the tree as a living being. The roots drag nutrients from the soil. The leaves provide photosynthesis. Like us, the tree receives and gives from the natural world around it.

So I feel the magic from the stones and earth at my feet, the breeze subtlety touching my skin and hair, and the feel of the leash, rough in my hand. It’s magic that my mind quits thinking and I am in the present moment.

I am with life and life is with me.

We forget how wonderful this world is… We have cut ourselves from our magic. We have cut ourselves from nature.

A few months ago, I started this little ritual as I walked the dog around the apartment complex. Instead of ignoring the world around me and counting my steps, I quit looking at my feet and started looking at the sky.

I practiced gratitude.

I started to see pines, palm trees, humming birds, and ravens. I saw lavender bushes and rabbits. I saw individual grasses.

I felt stronger and more connected to the land around me. I felt less anxious and more quiet in my head.

This is magic.

Blue dogs and pink rabbits

animal close up cold danger

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Early this morning I woke up with a headache.

When I get one of these, it heralds a change in atmospheric pressure. In short my head is telling me that we are moving from fall into winter weather.

I could always predict the weather. I’m one of those lucky ones (I’m snarc’ing right now) who could smell rain or feel the changes in the air. I guess I have always been hypersensitive to the natural world. It can be good or bad. In my case as I got older with more physical problems, these warnings came as migraines.

Unless you’ve had a migraine where your head is pounding and your eyes are hurting from the light and you want to vomit everything in your stomach even the bile, I can’t explain what it feels like to have a full-blown migraine. The only relief is to lie quietly with a cold cloth over my head in full darkness.

I’d get one every big change in weather and sometimes during the allergy seasons. After talking about it and refusing botox and other medications that are used for migraines, my doctor had a bright idea. There were studies that showed that people who were susceptible to migraines might be low in B vitamins– particularly B-2.

So I started taking a B-2 vitamin every day. I can feel it when I forget. There is a headache that sits in the back of my brain. It feels like a caffeine headache.

So today, I should have a full-blown migraine because I can feel the atmosphere press against my head. Yes, I do have a headache– but I can function. I’m not wrung out from vomiting into the toilet. I’m not lying down with a cold cloth pressed to my head.

I think this is a little miracle.