Sunday, March 30, 2008

Oh, for the love of ....

I'm so tired of these sex sites trying to hijack my site! If we all wanted to see some naked girls, we know where to go! Stay off my site.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Friday Snippet, March 28, 2008

I'm tired. Bone tired. The kind of tired that makes it difficult to get up in the morning and go to work or do anything else. I'm not writing much, either. I guess it's a kind of mild depression. God, I hope it goes away soon.

Anyway, this passage from an old work speaks to me of that same tired feeling. Maybe next week I'll have something new.

Please don't quote or repost anywhere. A first draft, and subject to change.

“The meaning of my life got lost somewhere between the moments, Carlie,” her mother said. “I can’t find myself anymore.”

Carlie stared at her mother, watched while her mother’s claw-like hands plucked restlessly at the dingy hospital sheets. Hospital white wasn’t the clear, pure white of snow, Carlie thought, but the off-white of the used and abused.

“You’re not lost, Mother,” Carlie said. “You’re right here, in this bed, in this hospital, right now.”

Her mother’s vacant gaze caused Carlie to look away. The lucid moments came and went with greater frequency now. Dr. Fanning had said it wouldn’t be much longer.

“No, I’m lost,” her mother said. “If you forgive me, I might know where to look.”

Carlie opened her mouth, but the words wouldn’t come. She tried to force them past her teeth, but all she did was let out a hiss of breath.

The flash of movement at the door caught her eye. Dr. Fanning stood in the doorway.

“And how are you fine ladies today?” he asked, voice cheerful in that false way some doctors have about them when talking to the walking dead.

“You tell me, you’re the doctor,” Carlie’s mother said.

“Now, Mrs. Andrews,” he said. “I’ll let you know the results of your tests when I get them back from the lab.”

“Don’t call her that,” Carlie said involuntarily.

Dr. Fanning raised a quizzical eyebrow.

“Don’t call her Mrs. Andrews.”

“Why not, Carlie?”

Carlie paused, said nothing. Somehow “because my father’s been dead for years” didn’t seem to be an adequate explanation.

“You can call me Annie,” her mother said. “That’s what people used to call me.” Her voice was wistful.

“Feeling pretty good, are we?” Dr. Fanning asked.

“Not so good. I hurt,” she said.

“Let’s check your heart, Annie,” Dr. Fanning said, pulling a ubiquitous stethoscope from under his coat.

Carlie slipped out, as much to escape as to give them privacy.

Long, empty corridors stretched on either side. It was so quiet the susurrus of the air conditioners sounded like wind sighing in the trees. It must be later than she thought. Hospital halls were rarely empty.

Carlie made several turns around the halls, moving around her mother’s room in a big circle, as if tied to a pole. The night shift nurses looked up as she passed their stations, and then dropped their eyes to the tasks in front of them, disinterested.

She found herself back at the door of her mother’s room. Annie slept fitfully, hair spread over the pillow. Carlie noted that it needed combed. She supposed that the funeral people would comb it. That was when the pain hit her, and she gasped aloud, startling her mother awake.

“What is it?” Annie said, fretful. “Who’s there?”

Carlie stepped back, turned, and fled to the bathroom down the hall. She lost the contents of her stomach, and leaned against the cool metal wall of the stall, and concentrated on just breathing.

Eventually, she made her way back to the sitting room not far from her mother’s room and lay down on the couch. She dozed. A hand touched her shoulder and she startled awake. One glance at Dr. Fanning’s face told her it was over. She had slept through her mother’s last moments.

A bubble of hysterical laughter tried to break free, but Carlie ruthlessly dug her nails into the palms of her hands until the impulse to laugh disappeared. No use giving the hospital staff the impression she might be as insane as her mother.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Friday Snippet, March 21, 2008

A little bit of philosophy over dinner.

First draft. Please do not quote or repost anywhere. Thanks!

Sabri found the dining room by following the sound of voices. When she entered, Mother and Papa stopped talking. Mother stared at her, a sad expression on her face. Papa smiled at Sabri. She paused, uncertain where to sit. Mother made an unobtrusive motion to the place setting across from her, and Sabri slipped into the chair. The cutlery and the glasses winked at her in glints of light and hints of reflection, intimidating her with their multitude and variety.

…a bowl with indeterminate contents. A chipped plate and a single fork, carefully hoarded, set in lonely splendor on a dirty table….

Hedi came into the room, sullen and silent. She avoided looking at Sabri as she sat before the remaining place setting.

Sabri put a hand over her mouth for a moment, trying to hide the trembling of her lips.

“Everyone is very quiet this evening,” Papa said.

Mother stirred, tried to smile. “Perhaps you should tell us about your day, Hayden.”

The door at the far end of the dining room opened. Sabri watched in astonishment as carts of steaming dishes, pushed by two women dressed in immaculate white aprons over full skirts, arrived. The women served the dishes to the family and withdrew with the carts. The whole thing had been done in silence. She picked up a fork and tasted the food and found it delicious.

“Perhaps I could speak about my day, Calli. We are dealing with an interesting case. A relative of our client has brought a petition before the court. She is contesting her aunt’s will and wishes the court to have her aunt declared unfit.”

Mother looked up, brow creased. “What will happen to her?”

“If she’s declared unfit? She will be sent to a sanitarium. Perhaps it’s not a bad idea. She lives alone and has nearly a dozen cats on which she spends lavish sums of money.”

“That’s not fair!” Sabri burst out. “It’s her money! She should be allowed to spend it on what she wants.”

And could have bitten her tongue when Papa stared at her in surprise.

“You feel she should be allowed to spend all her money on the cats and leave her niece with nothing?”

Sabri found herself swimming in a philosophical morass, uncertain how to continue. She fell back on muttering in a stubborn voice, “It’s her money. It isn’t fair.”

“My dear, fair has nothing to do with the matter. One could argue that it isn’t fair that the aunt has everything and the niece nothing.”

Sabri stared down at her plate, searching for words to continue the argument.

Hedi unexpectedly came to her rescue. “But we have more than the Millers. Should we give the Millers some of what we have?”

“I believe we did that very thing this morning,” Mother reminded in a gentle voice.

Papa stirred, tried to smile. “The matter is complex, and not just a simple division of belongings. Does the aunt have a right to keep what is hers to her niece’s detriment? Should the niece be given the power to control her aunt’s destiny? These are the questions I have been asking myself for several days.”

“Do unto others,” Sabri said, and felt a surge of elation that she’d remembered what she wanted to say.

Papa looked at her, curious. “Beg pardon?”

“Do unto others as you would have them do to you,” Sabri said.

Papa gave her a slow smile. “And that is the dilemma, Sabri. The aunt is “doing unto” the niece by giving her nothing, and the niece is “doing unto” the aunt by trying to take it away.”

“Philosophy over the dinner table causes indigestion,” Mother said. “Let’s enjoy the food instead. Sabri, what will you have for dessert?”

Sabri ate her piece of cake put in front of her and considered what Papa had said. It hadn’t occurred to her before that fair could switch sides.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Friday Snippet, March 14, 2008

Late, late! Still dealing with the aftermath of having the house broken into. The guy didn't get much, but it's the principal of the thing. Been buttoning up the house much tighter. Anybody thinking to break in now will find it tough going, that's for sure.

Okay, back to the snippet. I'm back working on my Vagabond story. Here's a snippet from that. January 3 was my last snippet from this story. It follows fairly close in time from that snippet.

First draft. Please do not quote or repost anywhere. Thanks!

Sabri climbed the stairs to the third story. By not thinking hard about it, she found the room she was sure belonged to her. The room was large and well-lit by two floor-to-ceiling windows. A large fourposter stood between the windows. The whole room was done in serene green.

She paused in the doorway for a moment and just looked, then she hurried forward and began opening drawers and examining the contents of the room in a frenzy of activity—as if by touching everything and staring at each object she could find out who she was.

Her hand brushed against something on top of one of the tallboys that gave a chirp of noise. Sabri froze. Slowly, she moved her hand and felt something hard and circular in shape. She picked up the object and brought it down to eyelevel. The music box played a couple of notes and fell silent.

A dancing ballerina stood on one foot atop the base, her other foot resting near the knee of her leg, arms extended in front as if just beginning a pirouette. The slightest movement of Sabri’s hand caused the ballerina to tremble, as if she wanted to spin but was held back by invisible bonds. Her tutu fell in graceful rose and pink tulle folds from a black bodice. A shimmer of something that looked like real diamonds glittered on the material.

Strange emotions stirred in Sabri as she held the music box. Gently, she wound the key. The ballerina twirled as music emerged from the box. Sabri closed her eyes as the haunting melody washed over her. She found herself humming and moving her feet in a complicated rhythm.

And, for no reason at all, she started to cry.

Sabri opened her eyes as the music stopped. The ballerina trembled on her hand, eager to twirl around once more. She carefully set the music box back on the tallboy.

“You used to dance just like that every time I wound that music box.”

Sabri turned to see a tall man in his late forties standing in the doorway. He saw the tears on her cheeks, and his thick brows creased.

“Why do you cry, pet?” he asked in a gentle voice.

Sabri looked at his face with the crow’s feet around his kind brown eyes and cried harder.

He held out his arms. “Come here, my dear. Papa will hug it all away.”

Sabri flew into his arms and felt an instant comfort, as if she’d been accustomed to coming to this man with all her problems and fears. She looked up at his face and opened her mouth to tell him what was wrong, but stopped, the words unspoken. How could she tell him what was wrong when she didn’t know herself? Mother’s request that she not ask questions in front of others floated through her mind. The remembered venom in the voice of the unknown person in the hall reinforced her silence. What if he turned against her? Where would she go?

“…people that don’t work don’t eat. I can’t have no freeloaders around here. Your ma ain’t coming back. You gotta start pulling your weight…”

With a kind of fear in her voice, Sabri said, “Nothing, Papa. I’m all right. I guess I’m just tired.”

He gave her a searching look, then told her, “All right, pet. Why don’t you wash your face and come down to dinner.”

Sabri gave him a watery smile. He returned her smile and flicked her nose.

“Everything looks better on a full stomach. I promise.”

She nodded. “I’ll be down in a minute, Papa.”

When he left, Sabri scrubbed her hand across her wet cheeks and felt like a criminal.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Friday Snippet, March 7, 2008

Another quick little snippet in the Quen & Quill story.

Please do not quote or repost anywhere. Thanks!

Quick synopsis: Quen and Quill are traveling to Blackrock and have their horses stolen in a small village where they stop for the night. To avoid trouble, they're resuming their travel on foot when the horse stealers try to take the rest of what belongs to the Sunmaster and the Shen Warrior.

In which Quen and Quill travel to battle with the evil Sunmaster Aster, and meet trouble along the way!

Quill found himself talking to empty air. Quen had left his side, silent as a drift of poisoned air. He halted, surveying the immediate area. He knew better than to call out. The small hairs on the back of his neck stood up.

The sound of galloping horses made him drop his pack and stand with empty hands. He had no time to run and hide, no time for anything but his own defense.

Four horses came into view back along the path he and Quen had just traveled. He recognized his horse first, and then recognized the men they had encountered hours ago in the little village. Quill’s lips tightened. He felt a surge of the Sunmagic he carried inside, ready at his beck and call. If they looked for an easy mark, they wouldn’t find one here. The use of magic would tell Aster exactly where he was, but better that than dying.

Quill crouched as the horses picked up speed. The grin of the lead horse’s rider grew. He drew his sword and bore down on Quill.

A dark shadow seemed to leap from the very ground. The shock of impact was audible to Quill even from this distance. The man gave a surprised cry as he and the shadow toppled off the horse. The cry was quickly cut off. The riderless horse sailed past Quill, the wind of its passage tugging at his clothing.

A flash of steel, and the second horse stumbled heavily, squealing, hamstrung, and slammed shoulder-first into the ground. Another flash of steel and the horse stopped squealing. Neither horse nor rider rose from the ground.

The two remaining horses veered to the side as each rider tried to avoid the mess in front of them. Quill watched, frozen, as the shadowy figure charged straight at the horse on the right. The horse spooked, rearing up into the air. The rider frantically kicked free of his stirrups and threw himself out of the saddle just as the horse fell over backward. The rider rolled and valiantly tried to defend himself, but the shadowy nemesis made short work of him.

The survivor wheeled and fled.

The shadow darted to the horse that struggled to roll over, and floated into the saddle as quickly as the horse gained its feet. The horse squealed and leaped after the disappearing survivor, covering the ground in cat-like jumps.

Numb, Quill watched as the pursuer overtook the pursued. A knife found his back, and the man’s arms flew into the air. He rolled from the saddle, limp as an empty sack of flour. Dust rose from the point of impact on the ground.

The shadow secured the reins of the second horse and rode back to where Quill stood, rooted to the ground.

Quill looked up at Quen’s face and said nothing. Her eyes were as bleak as an ice-covered pond. He felt his Sunmagic retreat from the exposure to such cold. The horse she rode panted and heaved, a rim of white around its eye.

“Get your pack and let’s go, Sunmaster,” Quen said, and her voice would have frozen stone.

Nausea roiled in Quill’s stomach, but he picked up his pack and took the reins from her. He avoided looking at the bloody long knife she still carried. His jaw knotted.

At least this time she didn’t suggest looting the dead.