Short Stories

A Twinkly Twilight Shade of Black Mixed with a Whitish Sort of Colour – Tale – Thingy – and with MERMAIDS!!!

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I’ve fallen properly off the social networking wagon over the past couple of months. This hasn’t been because of laziness or lack of interest – socializing online gives me lots of jollies, so for me it’s not any sort of hardship. Life behaved so whackadoodle out there crazy for a while that apart from leaving me rather speechless in horrified awe of the very levels of nuts that life can occasionally reach, there wasn’t much time for anything other than trying to keep up with damage control in the chaos. Now I’m done with the gaga stuff, most definitely and absolutely done with that, and about to get back up on that online happy wagon. I’m going to have to do something that pains me though. There is no way I can do my usual backwards catch up of everyone’s blogs and tweets this time, so I’m going to do one mighty zoom back as far as I can go and then I’m going to have to delete all the notifications currently in my GMail social column.

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I should be able to catch up with the Primary emails and everything else fairly quickly with a bit of luck and elbow grease, but if there was anything that anyone particularly wanted me to see I’d be very grateful if you would zoom a link over to my Contact Me page. Also, I’m using Edge as my browser now because Chrome crashed and now just doesn’t open at all, and it feels really weird in general. I missed sharing my really, really scary Halloween story with you on the actual day, so I’ll share it now instead, and yes, it really is very silly. Mermaids in Zimbabwe aren’t sexy half fishies by the way. They’re horrible dervish things that have a penchant for drowning people. This tale isn’t really about them at all though – that’s why it’s so particularly scary.

Fan Fic Tail

“There are mermaids in this lake,” said the driver of the tourist truck unusually covered in dayglo lime green zebra fake fur.
Even though he didn’t believe in mermaids, Edward felt a tremorlicious frisson of excitement pass through him. He bit his lip.
“Gee!” he said, biting his lip some more, and feeling a further frisson twinkle from his toes to his right elbow, and then excitingly on to his spleen, as he imagined an actual mermaid biting his lip instead. “Gosh!”
The driver looked at him in an excitingly derogatory way. Another frisson! Liver this time. Golly!
“These mermaids will KILL you!” said the vehicular operator. “African mermaids LIKE to kill soft boys like you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
“!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
Edward giggled, and bit his lip.
“Oooo!” he said.
“Rubbish,” said the strangely twinkly young lady sitting beside Edward.
He turned and looked at her properly for the first time. He bit his lip. Gosh, but she was so – so SHINY! He didn’t think that he could even DEAL with another frisson today! WOW!
“You are WRONG Miss-. Miss Anastasia,” said the motor wrangling purveyor of legendary – stuff.
“I am BELLA!” gasped she. “How do you know the name of my HAMSTER?”
“Gee!” said Edward, biting his lip. Even MORE frissons!
“I know MANY things,” said the steering-wheel handler, tapping the third eyelash from the left on his right eye, and rotating his right ear. “MANY THINGS, I TELL YOU!!!!!”
“Gosh!” said Edward. He nibbled his lip. Then sucked it a bit. He bit his lip.
“SHUTTUP Christian!” said Bella, reaching over and twisting his nose while inserting her fourteen inch thumbnail into his nostril, and throwing her orange juice into his lap. Also her doughnut. And an elderly Chanel lipstick.
“OOOO!” frissoned Edward. “I’m EDWARD!!!!! NOT CHRISTIAN! Golly!!!”
He really wished he could bite his nose himself. Frisson upon frisson! He imagined Anastasia Bella biting his nose. WOWSER! He bit his lip.
“DO YOU PEOPLE EVEN KNOW WHO YOU ARE?!” whispered the sixteen fingered man in the back row, brandishing a toffee apple on a stick made from the seventh branch from the exact top of a particular Mopani tree which was home to exactly two thousand four hundred and one Mopani worms. And a single thousand and two year old tsetse fly incessantly plagued with insectual hives. He made the sign of the hamster, JUST IN CASE, and turned his right thigh left and right five times, and then right and left two and a half times. Precisely.
Edward bit his lip.
“STOP THAT!” intoned Bella, squirting her grapefruit into his left eyeball. “I’m really going to HURT you!”
“Ooooh!” said Edward. “Gosh!”
He bit his lip.
A piece of toffee apple and an aged tsetse fly fell scratchingly into his lap.
“OOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”

The End

 

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One More Little Freebie

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I got me eleven hundred two hundred and ninety eight email notifications on this here thang. No jokes.  Update – I originally mistakenly said eleven thousand, which I dearly hope to never get because it would probably explode my computer, so if that’s what it says in your email alert, it’s a darned lie.   I think that’s a new record for me anyway though, and I’m wading in as fast as I can, so please be patient a bit longer with me while I catch up with you all properly. It’s been raining here for a couple of days, and the sun’s just trying to peep through now. We had zero winter rain this year, which is apparently very abnormal, so seeing the first spring rains arrive is lovely, apart from the fact that it really messes with the internet which has been mainly off, and makes the dogs look like four legged chocolate truffles.
As far as my special How To Do a Magnificently Inept and PFFFFT Book Launch is concerned, African Me & Satellite TV, Echoes of Narcissus, and Shadow People are now all priced at 99 cents for the countdown deal which ends on the eleventh. If you want to have a squiz just click on their covers in the sidebar and it will take you to their pages on Amazon. Fly Birdie is still free, so if you want that one also click on the sidebar cover to head to Amazon. It’s not doing too badly considering that it’s only had three tweets from me, and is #2 and #2 and #5 in three bestseller categories and eight hundred and odd in the main lists with three more days to go.
The Visitation has just gone free too, so if you fancy a short and twisted read, click on the image below.

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The drier it gets the better my internet, and with no more rain forecast for the rest of the week I should be able to catch up with everyone properly again and get back to normal happy blogging.

Short Stories and Cliffhangers

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I read an excellent post about cliffhangers, and it’s got me thinking now.  Maybe I’m weird, alright then, if you insist – I am weird.  There are two things about me that have the potential to get right up some peoples nostrils when it comes to my scribbles.  I write multiple genres and I like to play sometimes when I write.  Nothing makes me grin wider than when I’m playing in the land of anything goes.  Short stories are generally where I play though, because experimenting with the style of voice you tell a story in, or popping in a cliffhanger at the end of a big fat novel is very likely going to incite rage.  With a series you have to have an ending to each book that leads you into the next book.  Sometimes this can be construed as not so much a cliffhanger as an unfinished book.  It can be tricky sometimes to have an ending where your reader is happily looking forward to the next book, rather than wanting to find out where you live and sock you in the nose.  I’ve come to the end of reading standalone books with the most outrageous non-conclusions that seemed to totally defeat the purpose in the telling of the tale at all.  Stories must have endings.  Even short stories must have endings.  But.  I like short stories with cliffhanger endings too.
I have loads of short stories lurking forgotten in the bowels of my computer.  My short stories tend to happen to me, and I write them fairly quickly.  Ages ago I got a review for The Visitation from a reader who enjoyed it and wanted more.  She felt that she had been left hanging.  I felt bad about that.  It wasn’t a horrible review at all, and I felt so guilty about it for a while that I actually wrote quite a bit more, which then turned into a bit more again before I closed it and sent it to join the rest of the story lurkers I’ve built up.  There’s about forty odd thousand words I could add to The Visitation right now that would effectively turn it into a whole dystopian book.  I quite like those forty thousand words to be honest, and one day I might turn them into a book, but I won’t ever tack it on to The Visitation.  The point is that I wrote that story specifically the way I did because I wanted the shock of the ending.  I wanted to write it as an essay of one man’s descent into some serious crazy, and I wanted the end result of that crazy to be shocking.  I wanted to make the reader wonder if he’d really had a vision, or if that was just the pinnacle of a life so crappy that he lost the plot.  So I’m happy with Tony’s story the way it is.
Now, after that rambling explanation, I’ll get to the point.  Right at the time I got that review, I was about to publish another short story.  Also apocalyptic, and also with an ending that could lead into a whole novel.  I think that it’s alright to end a story like that.  Just because I’ve loved a story and want it to carry on doesn’t mean that it should.  The short story I was about to publish had really become a prequel as I wrote the final lines though, and something I definitely wanted to explore some more, so that review stopped me in my tracks and I hesitated – not wanting to put something out there that would be a bad reading experience for anyone.  Then I totally forgot about it.  I found it again during my internet blackout and decided to publish it after all.  Reading it after so long was interesting, and like The Visitation, I ended it the way I wanted to end it.  I wanted people to be wondering about the purpose of the skin thing, and wondering too what the small group of humans could do – if anything – even though their fate seems inevitable.
Both stories are supposed to end with the end of mankind right there – but not quite, so that’s the way they ended, but I think maybe that even in stories, us old humans don’t want to see things like that.  We want better endings – happy endings.  So again, both endings don’t show the actual death of the last man on the planet, although it’s obvious enough.  Still – the hope we naturally have moves ahead with the people staring at extinction, wondering if one of the few left alive at the end will against all odds save humanity, wanting to know more.  Is this a bad thing to do as a writer?  I don’t think so.  I like reading unusual stories.  I don’t like books that don’t end at all any better that the next reader, but I find some openish endings fascinating.  So, I swiped one of the covers I had up for sale, tweaked it a bit, and published it.  I’m chuffed with my little forgotten tale, and hopefully readers will like it too.  When my next Shadow People books go live, I’ll definitely be writing a novel to follow this one, but probably only starting a decade or so after this short ends, but I’m not calling it a prequel because it really is what it was written as – a short and twisty little tale.  So here it is.  Hopefully the cover won’t scare anyone away – that creepy alien guy sort of made himself.

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Ode to the Story Reading Ape

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Thank you Chris! I’d forgotten about this Ode to the Librarians Cousin (You!). I’m reposting it in honour of you and your hero, and with the request that no charges be filed for the damages. Here’s to Discworld fanfic – why not!?

This tiny tale is dedicated to Chris, the Librarian’s cousin (and our much belovedThe Story Reading Ape), to thank him for his friendship, and also by way of snivelling apology for almost calling him a man, and getting myself into a pickle.

The Story Reading Ape

Washgale cowered under the gooseberry bush. He’d been innocently sipping a quarter of ale in the Dodgy Guitar, when a huge ma-, monk-, er, ape, had crashed through the window, clutching a terrified scribe under his arm. The patrons scattered, as you do when confronted with such pointy fangs. The ape found who he was looking for at the piano, mellowly humming along to the tune of A Crone Is Not a Crone Unless You Have Your Spectacles On.

Washgale had watched from the safety of the chandelier, as the cousins agreed that humans in general had been given enough chances to figure out the names. Then the battery began. The scribe was summarily inserted, upside-down, into a barrel of pickled turnips, her whining about deadlines and Twitter instantly silenced. Within minutes, every human started running for their lives. The gnomes looked on, picking their noses as always, and the fairies pranced in and out, poking an eyeball here, and pinching a bum there. It wasn’t often that they got to unleash their darker desires with impunity.

Finally Washgale took pity on the scribe. She had surfaced from the barrel, and was trying to remove the small turnip from her left nostril, while yelling, “Oi! I’ve got emails!” He looked at his only companion on the chandelier, who was laughing heartily at the scene below, and trying to hit the scribe on the forehead with beautifully aimed gobs of hot candle-wax.

“What are you?” asked Washgale, pinching his nose so as not to breathe in the ripe smell emanating from what looked like a cross between a really huge hairy rat and Satan. It looked at him.

“I am Nyami,” the thing replied, sipping its warm lager, “I am the Tokoloshi. My mother was a really huge hairy rat, and my father was the devil.

“Oh,” said Washgale, before suddenly finding himself under a gooseberry bush. He peered at the cottage it was growing beside, and realised that he was in Gummy Vamps back garden.

“Oh crap,” he said.

“Not under my gooseberry bush please,” said a reddish voice behind him.

Washgale ran as fast as his hairy legs could carry him, knowing that his chance of finding enough bananas to rescue the scribe was zero, when he ran headlong into a banana tree. He picked a hand, peeled one of the yellowly yellow fruit, and ate it.

“Hmmm,” he said, settling down under the tree to eat, ignoring the faint screams in the distance before the gurgle signifying a reinsertion into the pickle barrel.

“Facebook! I’ve got to get to Facebook!”

“Bloody scribes,” he muttered, “They’re all over the place these days.

Fifty Shades of Stanley – Tuesday Challenge – A Bit of Silly

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George Witherall had had a lucky escape when Stanley had been struck down by that vicious geriatric crone on her motorised wheelchair. But today was another day, and Stanley was determined to address the assault on his life’s work in the form of that one star stinking steamer of a review, pulsating mightily online in all of its lying filth, for all the world to see. He’d had a look at George’s Facebook page, and seen that he was very excited to be going to see the premier of Fifty Shades of Grey tonight. Well. So would Stanley. He’d bought a hugely overpriced ticket, and laid out his clothes.

Stanley regretted the fact that he’d forgotten to change his knickers before he’d got run over by that ferocious stick wielding Methuselah. Her abuse had been relentless no matter how loudly he explained that the importance of setting his reviewer straight justified his accidental elbowing of her ear. His first review for the book that had taken years of his blood, sweat, and tears to write. Not to mention that that time spent had given him a carbuncle of some size and character in his nether regions from all the sitting that writing an assured bestseller required. That carbuncle was a stayer. It pulsed, and seemed to have a life of its own, and the only way he could get his mind off it was to contain it. Your run of the mill undies couldn’t cut the mustard. Only extra large, comfy, nylon knickers did the trick. And he figured that since he had to wear knickers, why shouldn’t he wear attractive ones? He didn’t see what all the fuss was about anyway. Pants were pants after all. He wondered if it would be worth his time to discuss workplace professionalism with the nurse who had laughed out loud when she’d removed his trousers, and then again when he had informed her that his name was Stanley Wacker. No time now. Mother had been given a large dose of a little something to help her sleep, and Stanley had to get a move on.

Stanley found a seat right behind his nemesis and the painted floozy he was with. He looked around at the people surging in. He had no truck with films. The written word was all Stanley was interested in. He wondered what this Fifty Shades thing was about to attract such hordes. After hearing someone in the lobby say that it was based on a bestselling novel, his interest had been piqued. Maybe he could pick up some tips. He leaned furtively forward to check that his 38 was still snugly resting in its holster on his leg, and also to hear what George was whispering to his date as the lights went down and the movie started. Stanley’s plan to exterminate his reviewer with a well placed bullet, and then escape in the crowd was immediately forgotten, as the things that he was seeing on screen affronted his senses. What was this?

Distracted only occasionally by the lustful fumblings of the gasping and giggling couple to his right, Stanley’s jaw hung slackly, absorbing the details of the sort of story that earned a hundred million dollars. Finally Stanley saw the light. He knew now where he’d gone wrong. Pain! Readers wanted pain! They wanted to be assailed! The thing was to confound readers with dearth of plot, inanity, criminal assault, irritating sensuous pencil placements, a lot of wowing, and a surly billionaire. Vapid Stanley – think vapid! No wonder George had hated his book! He had entirely missed what readers really wanted! Yes! He could do that! Rushing home to begin again, and to emulate his new writing hero, E L James, Stanley was once again struck down. This time by a large set of handcuffs falling from a sign outside of a hardware store. Just before he passed out, he smiled, relieved that he had indeed remembered to change his knickers.

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Trolley Armageddon and Free Short Stories

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I’m in the middle of my launch tour for Echoes of Narcissus in the Gardens of Delight, and absolutely loving it! Party time! It’s fantastic connecting with new readers and friends on all the blogs, and also hearing from people who have suffered the same as Donna has. I’ll introduce you to all my very kind hosts when the tour wraps up on the 31st.

I’m very late logging on today because I had to go to town, and having committed the unforgivable sin of forgetting to buy ice cream in the first place, there would have been no peace otherwise. Then I spotted a thing – and then another thing – you know how it goes.

When I headed out the door I was accosted by a guy in a store uniform who very firmly insisted that he’d be pushing my trolley to the car. I said no and tried to hang on to it because I have my usual lovely old guy, who always hangs around the parking lot trying to earn a couple of bucks helping people wheel and pack their groceries, and he tells the best kind of stories. He was stronger than I though, and wrestled my trolley away, with me, and very soon my usual trolley guy too, in hot pursuit. Finally at the car a war had begun with a fairly loud argument, choice swearwords and the shaking of fists. I thought I’d just get a pic of the warriors for my blog – as you do – but the minute I aimed my phone at them, the trolley fell over – pushing me into reverse. Fortunately I’d already opened the back hatch so my bum hit nice soft car carpet instead of tarmac, but I didn’t get my fight scene shot at all.

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Totally ruined my photo opportunity, and I wasn’t inclined to take another, so all I got was that pole with some weird objects flying through the air – I think one’s a bird but the other behind the pole isn’t – I cropped it and it just looks like a creepy thing. Poor trolley guys were mortified though, and I mortified them further laughing my head off while they scrambled around making sure that nothing had tumbled out of the trolley. I really love my beautiful, funny Africa. Then I had to go back in because I’d forgotten the ice-cream again, so I took this lovely pic of a trolley for you instead.

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For those of you who fancy a short read and haven’t already got these, my two Fly Birdie and The Visitation are free from now until the 30th December.