Blogophilia 42.10 – Zuri Part 2

It’s time again for blogophilia, the cool blog group where Martien gives participants prompts to use in their weekly blogs. This week’s prompts are:

Ecrits Blogophilia Week 42.10 Topic – Kryptonite
**BONUSES: Hard (2 pts) Incorporate a lyric by Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers (something didn’t seem right)
Easy (1 pt) Use the word “chrysalis”

I missed last week. I had actually started it, and technically could have posted what I had, but I got greedy and wanted to wrote more and… and with limited computer time I wasn’t able to, nor was I then able to post what I already had, so you get it this week instead. I’d hoped to finish the story, but I rewirked the beginning, (which y’all won;t see until it’s published later this month or whatever), and that took forever.

Anyway, Zuri is in the bar, talking to the bartender, wishing vampires could get drunk to distract him from his forced “leave of absence” from the Executioners.

***

 

Zuri reached to tug on his necklace, a nervous habit, but stopped when his fingers found nothing. They’d ripped away the Executioner amulet when he was taken prisoner, and laughed about it. He’d expected to get a new one, but since he was still on leave…

“You lose something?”

Zuri looked sharply to the bartender, but saw no malice in his eyes. No, he had no way of knowing. The comment had probably been an innocent one.

Footsteps came down the corridor, then a pair of vampires swept aside the filmy black curtain and ducked inside. The bartender moved away to serve them, and Zuri took his cue to leave. Though his apartment was the last place he wanted to go, he hated the thought of a crowd even more.

It could be worse, he told himself. I could still be with them.

***

“What am I?” Zuri stared through new eyes, looking at his extended palms, stained in blood, then on to Logan.

The man smiled; revealing those strange elongated teeth, like the smile of a fox. “You are as I am, made stronger with my blood.”

Blood. There was a lot of it. It was on Zuri’s hands, splashed on his chest, staining his shirt, pooling on the floor around the savaged body of a young girl. He squinted and recognized her as the inn’s serving girl who’d shown him to his room earlier. That she was…had he…

And then the pain came, ripping through him like a hot knife, and he fell to the floor next to her. He writhed, eyes squeezed closed, as if to blot out everything, including the sick memory of what he’d done, of the way her flesh had rent, the way her blood had tasted so delicious…

Zuri jerked awake and the memory-turned-dream faded.  Logan. How long had it been since he’d last seen his master? 1779, wasn’t it, when Logan had announced he was bored.

“I have more than taught you what you need to know; nature herself could have shown you the way. Perhaps it was my vanity that held us close, or my curiosity. Regardless both have run their course and the time has come for us to part ways.”

Zuri had stared at him for a moment, and then shrugged. What else was there to do? It wasn’t as if he had the words to describe the complicated mess he felt; a mess better kept to himself, anyway.

And that was it. Logan had tipped his hat and walked away into the night, his boots clacking on cobblestones. Zuri had watched him for a moment, then turned back for the inn and their rented room. After that he’d followed the same life style – rented rooms, nightly meals, money taken from victim’s pouches – until he’d become a guard for The Guild. From there he’d moved on to greater guard, and finally became an Executioner when Kateesha left the first time.

Ancient history, he told himself. More than two hundred years ago. Does any of it even matter anymore?

He had no answer, only a gnawing thirst that told him the sun was gone it was time to rise.

He climbed out of bed, showered, and dressed, stopping again when it came time to slide the missing necklace over his head. For a moment he saw the twisted face of his captor – a sniveling, dark haired vampire with deep eyes and a sneer of contempt. Fabian, the brother-in-law of Oren. Fabian had ripped the necklace free and thrown it on the floor.

“You’re nothing now, Executioner. This – this is a symbol of what you were, and now it’s gone and you’re nothing!”

The world had faded in and out, blurred and cleared in time for him to see the raised dagger in Fabian’s hand, in time for him to realize he was going to die, just as Dismas had died.

But another had stepped in. Muscles stacked like building blocks gleamed under his ebony skin. A voice like molasses murmured, “There’s been enough death.”

Fabian jerked away. “Who the hell are you to tell me what to do?”

Jorick had stepped in then. “You can fight over his bones later. We need to catch up to the others.”

Fabian looked ready to argue, but Oren shushed him with a motion. “Jorick’s right. Pack him up and we’ll head back to the den.”

Zuri couldn’t move his arms. Was he tied? He tried to push against the bonds – as a titan he was stronger than other vampires, and stronger than any rope they could find – but for some reason he couldn’t fight this, he couldn’t…

A loud knocking pulled Zuri back to the present. He tugged his shirt smooth and moved to open the door. In the corridor stood Beldren, tall and slender with a blonde ponytail and his own flashing silver medallion.

Zuri nodded a greeting. Beldren didn’t bother to disguise peering over his shoulder, eyes raking over the tidy apartment.

“I have to go back out in a couple of hours, but I wanted to see how you were doing.”

Zuri shrugged and stepped to the side to let Beldren pass. The vampire moved to his accustomed chair and smoothly folded himself into it. “Jorick is leaving tonight for Munich.”

Jorick had left Oren’s war coven the day after the fight. Even as a prisoner, Zuri had figured that much out, and oddly in Zuri’s blurry memories it was Jorick who’d returned twelve days later, to drag Zuri back to the citadel. A penance for the crime of leaving him there, perhaps? But if so…

Something didn’t seem right.

“Leaving? He’s still here?”

“Of course. He hasn’t been let go yet.” A muscle in Beldren’s jaw twitched. “After you were…imprisoned, Jorick and his human were apprehended for those murders, which they didn’t do. But during the trial he was found culpable of Dismas’ death and your predicament. As punishment, Malick reinstated him as an Executioner.”

Zuri stiffened. Punishment? He was punished by being given an Executioner post – the same post Zuri would give his eye teeth to have back?

“Eileifr was against it, and in hindsight everyone thinks Malick did it because he was hoping Jorick would join him in the revolt, so he wanted to make sure Jorick was available. As you know, he didn’t. Anyway, you won’t have to worry about running into him. He’s heading out for Munich tonight.”

Zuri shut the door and paused, an eyebrow arched. “Munich?”

Beldren nodded. “Someone has to report to the True Council about what happened here. You know how old ones are. They have to have someone in person so they can pluck it from their brains. Anyway, I believe Eileifr is planning to send Verchiel and one of the new Executioners with him.”

New Executioners?

Beldren went on, as if he already guessed the question. “There are three new ones, to replace the defectors. There’s Cyprus, I think his name is. He was a guard here. You might have seen him. A mane of long red hair nearly to his waist.” He motioned the appearance, then waved it away. “Then, there’s a woman – Lisiantha I think her name is. Dark hair. We’ve worked with her a few times. And…who was the third? Oh yes, Fallon. He’s been a greater guard for some time. I remember him from clear back in the fifties. Or maybe the sixties. He’s blonde, curly hair, looks young. Anyway, Apparently Cyprus used to be a guard for Munich, so he’s going with Jorick as a kind of liaison. Why Verchiel is going is anyone’s guess. Probably because Eileifr wants rid of him as much as we do.”

Zuri took the opposite chair and folded his hands in his lap while Beldren added, “I assume you know everything else that happened? Oren and Traven’s covens attacked, Malick revolted and took off, Eileifr’s taken over the council-”

“I know that.” Bitterness made Zuri’s words brittle. “He’s the one who insisted on this ‘recovery time’.”

“Is that what he’s calling it?” Beldren asked. “Not that you couldn’t use some time off. We all could. I’d fancy a vacation, too-”

“A vacation,” Zuri cut in. “But this isn’t a vacation. This is little better than being Traven and Fabian’s prisoner!”

Beldren picked invisible lint from his coat. “You can’t really mean that. I’ve heard about your…imprisonment.”

Anger bubbled to Zuri’s lips, but he swallowed it back to say instead, “How long until I’m reinstated?”

“Good grief, I have no idea. It’s certainly not my decision. If you want, I can put in a word with Eileifr, say that you seem to be…altogether, or whatever. Not that I think it will make any difference. He’s a demon eye, and can see the outcome before he makes the decision. I assume he’s keeping you on hold because he’s seen something.”

Zuri cocked an incredulous eyebrow. There was a good chance this so called “recuperation” was to make sure he didn’t cause waves with Jorick. Malick might be gone, but he doubted the favoritism was.

“Anyway,” Beldren rubbed his hands together. “You’ve stewed in here enough I imagine. A drink, perhaps? My treat.”

Zuri shrugged. It wasn’t like he had anything else to do.

***

Zuri saw Beldren and his company of guards off, then slumped back for the elevator. He reached for the second floor button, but on a whim hit the first floor. Though he’d fed with Beldren, a cinnamon and sugar mix sounded good.

The nightclub was empty except for the bartender, who was whipping tables. Today he wore a shirt that proclaimed “My Name is John” in a scrawl similar to a handwritten name tag.

Zuri took a stool and nodded to the garment. “Is it?”

The bartender looked up from his task. “Is what?” he followed Zuri’s gaze and grinned. “As a matter of fact, it is. Pleased to meet you. Again,” he added with a laugh.

Zuri grunted a reply and turned his eyes to the glasses behind the bar. Shiny rows waiting for the late evening rush.

“Do you really get that many customers?”

John finished his task and joined the Executioner. “Sometimes. Business is down a little, though not as much as you’d expect. There may have been a lot of casualties, but the looky-loos have started showing up, wanting to gawk at the ruins. Enough about me. What can I get you?”

Zuri muttered his order – the same as last night’s – and soon had a glass in hand. He sipped the contents and waited for the bartender to start the chitchat. Just like he did last night.

When nothing came, Zuri decided he might as well do it himself. Save the guy the trouble.

“So you live with your mother?” When John blinked, Zuri added, “She’s your master?”

“Oh well, true enough there.” He smiled affably. “But no, she’s in Oklahoma still. How about you?”

Zuri shrugged. “My mother is long dead, and my master is long gone.”

“Oh. Sorry.”

Zuri shrugged again. “It is what it is. Not like the memory is my kryptonite.” He took another sip. “She died of smallpox when I was a child. As did my sisters. I survived.” Though he didn’t pull up his shirt, he knew the familiar patchwork of scars that covered his trunk, smoothed by immortality, the pits were still barely visible, the mark of the disease.

Though not a mind reader, he could sense John’s discomfort and added, “It was a long time ago. I barely remember them. Or it.”

“I guess that’s the good thing about time,” John said vaguely.

Zuri scoffed. “That it hides all wounds in a fog, like some kind of chrysalis that entombs our misery? We forget no chrysalis is permanent. Just as the butterfly bursts forth in the spring, so do the memories.”

“But surely they’ve been changed, just as the caterpillar turned into the butterfly?” John countered. “Dulled by time?”

“Or twisted into something darker.” Zuri drained his glass and set it on the bar. One look at John’s uncomfortable face left him backtracking. “I’m sorry. Just ignore me.”

“No, it’s okay. You’re obviously in a pretty dark place right now.”

“I’m nowhere right now. Trapped here until Eileifr decides I’m ‘well’, whatever that means.”

“Eileifr…That name’s familiar.”

“He’s in charge of the High Council now that Malick’s gone – and in charge of the Executioners. He thinks I need time off to ‘recuperate from the trauma’. As if all of vampiredom – and being an Executioner – isn’t traumatic. Do they think that killing illegally created vampire children, or burning bodies, or destroying unmarked humans isn’t traumatizing? Malick knew it was, but he believed trauma made us stronger. Eileifr on the other hand…Eileifr…I don’t know what he believes.”

“You’re an Executioner, then?” John asked. Zuri’s reply was a grunt, so he went on. “I imagine your vampire experience has been pretty…bloody. But I have to say mine hasn’t been traumatic. It’s actually been pretty nice.”

“It would be, being turned by your mother, I imagine. No loss, no old life left behind. That’s not how they used to do things.” He stopped before he sounded like an old man complaining about how the kids did things “these days”.  “You haven’t been immortal long, have you?”

“Ten years now. I guess that’s nothing compared to you and everything you’ve seen.”

***

topic – Christopher

pic – Sallon

  1. fish tales 2. it was this big 3. roar. 4. lunchtime 5. the sky is falling 6. the meteor is coming! 7. are you a lizard or a dinosaur? 8. how about a hug? 9. free hugs 10. monsters. 11. they’re kinda cute. 12. If i was good I could tell you what game/show/whatever they are from. 13. I think it’s a game. 14. Not little big planet, though. 15. I want a candy bar thiiiis big. 16. boo! 17. Ah! A lizard! 18. rain dance 19. jumping jacks! 20. time for dance lessons.
Advertisements

Blogophilia 40.10 – Zuri part 1

It’s time again for blogophilia, the fun blog group where Martien gives participants prompts to use in their weekly blog.This week’s prompts are:

Ecrits Blogophilia Week 40.10 Topic – The Method to the Madness
**BONUSES:
Hard (2 pts) Use a song title from the 70’s
Easy (1 pt) Use the word “Bodacious”
.

My hard drive is still unusable – aka it still says it needs to be formatted – which means I can’t get to any of my files. Luckily I’d emailed myself my Amaranthine notes last February, so I was able to get back to the executioner stories. That’s something at least. Now I just need $1700 to pay to get my files recovered from the hard drive. (yikes!)

We’re starting a new story this week.  it takes place during Heart if the Raven (the fifth book in the series). The events he talks about happened at the end of book 4 (Ashes of Deceit).

***

Zuri watched the snowflakes drift from the sky like soft puffs of feathers. From fallen angels, he thought absently, and as quickly dismissed the thought. It was depressing, like so many of the thoughts he’d had lately. Apparently even a walk outdoors wasn’t enough to distract him.

He stuffed his hands in his pockets and thumped his way back towards the building marked “Office”. Small and white, it sat in a grain elevator complex, surrounded by towering silver bins, a collection of metal buildings, and several seed company signs.  Train tracks zigged through the back of the property, left from days when grain came by rail car. An unused spur, it now sat under the snow, quietly rusting away, a symbol of different days.

Ugh! Can I get more depressing?

Zuri kicked a clomp of snow, as if it was the cause his problems, then shuffled into the office. A vampire with the heather skin if a famer, and a hat to match, sat behind the desk. With a nod, he pressed the button that would unlock the not-so-secret door to the citadel, home to the country’s vampire government, among other things.

Other things like the Executioners, he thought glumly. Until his last assignment he’d been one of them, an elite soldier who acted as policeman to the vampire population. But then he’d been taken prisoner, had his arms ripped off, and been held captive for twelve days.

Not taken prisoner, abandoned by that bitch, Senya. If she was still here…

The thought fell to nothing because she wasn’t. She’d left with Malick, in a spectacular revolt that Zuri had missed. And even if she had been there, what would he have done? Killed her? Not that she didn’t deserve it, but the punishment for that would be unthinkable.

Worse than twelve days captivity.

Zuri trooped into the back room of the office, where the shiny silver door waited. More sci-fi than rural, it was hardly disguised in a seed shop. That the humans who worked the office didn’t know about the vampires beneath them was impossible. Pure Guild propaganda, designed to make the immortal visitors feel more at ease.

They don’t want them to worry about humans sneaking down during the day and slaying everything in sight.

Through the shiny door was a set of stairs that led to what had once been a welcome room. Now it was a disaster, roped in caution tape and marked by shattered walls and leftover rubble, the aftermath of that missed revolt.  Most of the top two floors were that way, with damage going all the way down to the bottom level. He could only imagine what it had looked like at the time.

At least the elevators are working, he thought as he stumped towards them. Though he had no idea where he was going to go. He couldn’t stand to go back to his den and stare at the wall. When faced with the buttons, he hit the first floor and leaned back against the wall as the car descended. Maybe he could find a distraction in the public areas.

When the doors swished open, he exited and made his way down a corridor. The fighting hadn’t reached the shopping area, and vampires moved through it with bags and smiles, as if nothing had ever happened. Zuri surveyed the shops, and the shoppers, before he rejected them both.

With nowhere else to go, he headed for a nightclub. Though it seemed like the anti-thesis of what he craved, there was a certain method to the madness. He wasn’t interested in the neon light atmosphere, but this early in the night, it should be empty. It would be somewhere different to sit, at least, something different to look at than his own furniture.

It had been years since he’d been there. The blur-lit hallway was certainly new, as was the black gauze curtain over the door. Inside was just as different. Bright neon lights lit an empty stage and shone on a polished bar and empty tables. Just as he thought, the only occupant was the vampire behind the bar, who was busy wiping glasses.

Who will want to talk, Zuri thought bitterly. Bar tenders always wanted to talk, even if they were just slinging flavored blood. Better to take a table. Maybe that would keep chattiness at bay.

But probably not. Hell, he might as well just nip it in the bud and sit at the damn bar.

He took a stool, and the bar tender gave him a nod. Zuri waited, but the other vampire didn’t speak, only hummed to himself as he finished his task.

The glass clean, he deposited it on a tray, and then turned to his customer. “What can I get you?”

“Do you still have cinnamon and sugar mix?”

The vampire flipped dark hair out of his eyes. “We have any flavor you want.”

He busied himself with mixing the blood drink, and Zuri leaned his elbows on the bar. How long would it be before the guy was asking him questions and acting friendly? That’s what they all did, pretended to be your friend. He didn’t need any friends right now.

What I need is to be reinstated.

The bartender deposited a glass on the bar.  “There you go, sir.”

Zuri tugged out the fancy swizzle stick and downed the dink in a gulp. It tasted close to what he remembered. Maybe a little more sugar next time.

“Another?” the bartender asked.

Zuri mumbled but nodded, and soon he had a second drink before him.

If only there was alcohol in this. And if only alcohol still affected me.

The bar tender went back to his glasses while Zuri sipped his drink. He watched the other vampire; watched the sure quick motions of the rag over the glass. How long would it be before the chattering started?

Maybe I should just get it over with.

“You worked here long?”

The bartender paused his work to shrug. “A year.”

“I didn’t think you looked familiar.” Zuri took another drink. “I haven’t been in here in a long time.”

“You should come back when the show’s going.” The bartender nodded towards the stage. “This month we have Lua the bodacious burlesque temptress.”

Zuri cocked an eyebrow. “And is she really a temptress?”

“She’s not bad looking, if that’s what you mean. She has an entertaining routine. Strips down to nothing but you never see a thing. She uses giant fans.” He held his hands out to indicate the sheer size. “Covered in feathers and such. She cleans up in tips.”

Zuri grunted. “I’m surprised you’re having shows.”

“Oh?” He blinked, then seemed to understand. “You mean the attack? Nah, it never reached here.”

“I heard there were a lot of casualties.”

“Now that’s true. It was a shame.” He paused, then added, “You weren’t here for it?”

Zuri glared at nothing. “No.”

“Be glad you missed it. I’ll remember the screaming for the rest of my life.” The bartender turned back to his glasses. “If you want to know about it, though, shouldn’t be hard to hear the stories. Everybody’s talkin’.”

Zuri finished his glass and motioned for a third. When it was delivered, the bar tender grinned. “You must like that.”

“Maybe.” Or maybe I like it better than staring at the same four walls.

“As long as you keep buying.” The bartender laughed. “I have to pay the bills.”

Zuri stirred the drink listlessly. “You own the place?”

“Yep. Bought out the previous owner last year.”

But if he’d only been there a year, that meant he’d come to the citadel and bought the place right off the bat.  Why? What possessed someone to want to serve other people? Unless it was a holdover from his human days. “Did you own a bar before?”

“Nah. I just saw the listing and thought why not? You only live once.”

Zuri shrugged a response.

“That’s what my mom said to me,” he added. “She said I might as well because-”

“Because you only live once,” Zuri muttered. “You have your mother?”

“Have? Um…”

Zuri rolled his eyes. “I mean that she’s with you, in immortality.”

“Oh. Yeah. She’s the one who turned me, actually.”

Zuri made a noncommittal noise and wondered how that worked out. To have your mother- or any blood relative – as a constant companion.  His own master had been a brief blip in his life, a bored vampire who’d turned him for a distraction and then wandered off after two years. Zuri hadn’t seen him since, though he assumed he was still alive somewhere, even more bored than he’d been.

***

And now for guesses:

Topic: Trevor

Pic: Gerard

  1. Hold me, thrill me 2. sumo 3. who needs a hug? 4. Can I cry on your shoulder? 5. Lean on me 6. I think I’m turning Japanese 7. Big in Japan 8. Life in Tokyo 9. Everybody was Kung Fu Fighting 10. ninjas 11. Okay, they’re sumo wrestlers. 12. You won;t see that on WWE. 13. Let’s get ready to rumble! 14. the big squeeze 15. big hug 16. bear hug 17. or bare hug (ha ha) 18. can I have this dance? 19. put your head on my shoulder. 20. nap time.

Blogophilia 39.10

It’s time again for blogophilia, the fun blog group where Martin gives participants prompts to use in their weekly blog. This week’s prompts are:

I wanted to start a new short story, but have been having computer issues. I don’t know if the stars have just aligned wring, or maybe the lines in the sky are out to get me, but either way I haven’t had time to work on it. I was able to copy the data, so at least I won’t lose anything. Take that starlit night of evilness! Hopefully I’ll be able to get on it this weekend, but you know what they say, Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans – plans like fixing a laptop! And it may need a new hard drive, so even if I get on it, it would then have to wait until I get the cash.

*sigh*

And now for guesses:

Topic: Trevor

Pic: Irene

Secret bonus:

1. Stars in our eyes. 2. Seeing stars

Blogophilia 38.10 – Griselda Part 3

It’s time again for Blogophilia, the fun blog group where Martien gives participants prompts to use in their weekly blogs. This week’s prompts are:

Ecrits Blogophilia Week 38.10 Topic – The Art on my Wall
**BONUSES:
Hard (2 pts) Include a line from Bette Midler (Quotes or song lyrics accepted)
Easy (1 pt) Use the words “argle-bargle”
.

I’ve finally finished the Griselda story, only putting me two weeks behind schedule. My own fault, but I admit the Pronoun mess threw me for a loop. I’ve recovered now, and am back to it – Smashwords and it’s partners were good enough before, and they’re good enough now.

Anyway, when we left off, Griselda had ordered a new human guard dog from Harry because her current human, Sergei, had been fraternizing with the enemy …

****

Griselda was barely inside when the phone rang. Sergei made a point to ignore it, and with a hard look at him she snatched it up. “Hello?”

“Um…Executioner, Griselda?”

“That is who you called, isn’t it?” she snapped. Who did they expect? Cinderella?

“Um…Hello. This is Brantley, in the Executioner office. The, uh, the council has requested more information regarding your request for a new vehicle. If you could come and fill out-”

“Are you serious?”

It took him a moment to find his track again. “Um…Yes? Sorry, I’m just following orders.”

She muttered a curse word under her breath. “Fine. I’m on my way.” Then she hung up before he could reply.

She stormed out in a swish of red satin, and made her way to the Executioner office. She drew up short inside, eyes flicking over the occupants. Beldren and Zuri stood at the desk, handing over paperwork.

“No, uh, trouble, then?” the guard asked them.

Zuri, stocky with a shock of black hair that stood at odd angles, grunted a reply, but Beldren, tall with a blonde ponytail and features that some women might call lovely, replied coldly, “Everything is in the report. We have better things to do than stand here.”

The blonde turned on his heel, then spied her. He slowed his pace as he passed her, but headed to the hallway, Zuri behind him.

Alone with the guard, Griselda stomped to the desk and grabbed the paper he offered.  “What do they want to know?”

“They, uh…” The guard rifled through a pile of papers and stopped at a pink one covered in handwritten notes. “They want an itemized list of everything wrong with the vehicle that warrants it being replaced.”

“Why don’t they ask the mechanic?”

“They, uh, they did, and he said that it just needed a minor repair.”

“The idiot!” She smacked the desk and the guard jumped. “Never mind. I’ll go talk to him myself. When do they need this returned?”

“Um…I’d guess as soon as you can. They won’t look at it again until tomorrow, though.”

She didn’t bother to reply, only huffed out of the office to find Beldren and Zuri loitering in the corridor. Seeing her, Beldren straightened and tugged at his coat. His green eyes showed an appreciation that his carefully masked face hid.

An appreciation she wasn’t looking for.

“Do you want something?”

Beldren hesitated, and finally turned on a smooth smile. “I heard you’ve been harassing our resident annoyance.”

“You mean Verchiel?” When he nodded, she narrowed her eyes. “And where did you hear that? I understood you’d just returned.”

“We got back an hour ago, had to do the paperwork,” he added with an eye roll.

“That still doesn’t explain who told you.” It was Bren, wasn’t it? Damn. She should have known it was only Senya that held him in line.

“The pest himself.” Beldren fought a smile. “They sent him out again while we were working on our reports, and he made a point to call his little guard dog and tell her specifically not to rile you up ‘any more’. I can only assume the story behind that conversation is amusing.”

“Not so much amusing as annoying.” She eyed Zuri, who hulked to the side, conspicuously silent. He’s always silent. Like he’s processing everything, cataloging it, and privately plotting.

Plotting to get all of us.

When nothing more came, Beldren pressed, “I imagine his little mongrel has done the same thing to your guard dog as the last one did to Bren’s?”

Bren had mentioned having to punish his for fraternizing. “Perhaps.”

“It was a shame,” Beldren added. “That he had to go to such lengths to keep them apart.”

Such lengths? Bren had made it sound like a onetime incident. With some Executioners she’d do better to pretend she knew what he meant, but not with Beldren. “Oh?” she asked innocently.

As she expected, his green eyes lit with the joy of passing on information. “Oh yes. They had quite an affair, I hear. So much so that she turned up pregnant. That’s when Verchiel quietly disposed of her and got this newest one. Bren’s dog wanted to follow, even tried to escape to find her. I have an… acquaintance who was in the hospital wing with her human when Bren brought his dog in. She said he’d beaten the human nearly to death, and demanded the healers do something. Not that there was much for them to do except set the bones and wrap him in gauze.”

Griselda kept her surprise to herself. How had she missed this?

“Of course, the guard dog made a full recovery, as you’ve noticed, no doubt with  healthy dose of vampire blood to speed things along – humans do heal so slow – and now he’s happily lurking at his master’s feet, where he belongs. Have you tried that?”

Griselda blinked. “Tried what? Beating him to death?”

“Well, that could work, too, but I meant giving him blood. Forging a loyalty bond. I did with my newest and haven’t had the slightest trouble.”

Zuri coughed loudly, and Beldren arched a golden eyebrow. “Care to share what you’re choking on?”

To Griselda’s surprise, Zuri seemed to be fighting a smile. “Is it the loyalty bond, or that he prefers a more masculine partner?”

Beldren sniffed. “Even if he did, Verchiel would try to seduce him, himself. No. It’s the loyalty bond.”

“If you say so,” Zuri muttered, his dark eyes still dancing.

“Anyway,” Beldren said crisply. “That’s my advice. Of course, you’re welcome to ignore it. Everyone else does, usually to their detriment.” The look he gave Zuri said his friend was guilty of this. “If I were you, though, I’d destroy that one, and forge the bond with the replacement right away. Verchiel and his mongrel aren’t the only ones to watch out for. Migina has that little piece, and have you seen Ark’s newest? No doubt trained to seduce.”

Hmmmm. “I didn’t know he had a new one.”

“Oh yes. Just last week. I think you were out at the time. I don’t know what prompted the replacement, except he’s taking a page from Verchiel’s book.”

“Luckily, it won’t do any good where your guard dog is concerned,” Zuri muttered.

Beldren rolled his eyes. “You’d do better to worry about your own, Zuri.”

“He’s fine. And loyal,” Zuri added with a touch too much emphasis, his eyes on Griselda.

He’s making sure I know he’s protected – just when he’s found out I may not be. It was an unallowable situation, one that made the decision for her. Sergei would have to be replaced, if nothing else because the others had lost faith in him. A human guard dog was like a padlock; it only worked if the would-be thief believed it worked. A lock only kept out people  who thought, “This is locked, so it’s impossible to get through.” Once a thief knew he could just cut through it, the lock did no good. Just as a disloyal guard dog did no good.

Even if he’s only perceived to be disloyal.

“For our sake, I hope you’re right,” Griselda said breezily. “You never know what lurks underneath, in the murky corners of their mortal minds. Unless you’re Ark or Jamie, of course.  But then whisperers don’t just know, they can control them.”

Beldren looked around the corridor, as if checking for eavesdroppers. “Yes. I’ve thought of that. What stops Jamie from tampering with them? Surely not a sense of honor. At least Ark can’t control them, he’s only a dream stealer.”

“True, but that’s dangerous enough. Still, I’m sure you’re both fine, with such loyal dogs.” She hoped her smile held the touch of sinister she intended. “If you’ll excuse me? It seems I have a meeting with a mechanic.”

Beldren gave a little bow, and sent her off with a wink and the words, “Of course. And should you find yourself available this evening, I have an open schedule.”

I bet you do.

***

The mechanic wasn’t excited to see her, but when she pushed him against the wall and threatened to rip his heart out, he finally gave her a list of “potential problems” with the roadster. “I have it running,” he snapped, pulling his shirt straight. “And I stand by my original statement: it doesn’t need replacing.”

Griselda scoffed. “Yes it does, and it’s not the only thing.” She glared the warning. “It would be a shame if our lead mechanic’s heart ended up skewered by some bizarre shop accident.”

“Isn’t it lucky I’m careful?” he asked, though she saw concern crinkle the corners of his eyes.

Good.

She dropped her list off at the office, and headed back to her apartment. Sergei was closeted in his room, probably taking nap. At least he’d be well rested in case Zuri or Beldren decided to try anything.

I hope Harry finds that replacement quickly.

***

The council didn’t bother to make a ruling the next day, so when Griselda was called to the office for an assignment she refused. “I don’t have an automobile.”

The guard behind the desk fidgeted nervously. “The, uh, the report said that your vehicle was functioning.”

“I’m not driving that…that lemon!” She was pretty sure that was the modern term. Or was it orange? Without waiting for correction, she pushed on, “You can tell the council I will leave the citadel only when I have a reliable automobile, and not before.”

The guard groaned and checked a clipboard. “It looks like Migina is in.”

“Beldren and Zuri are,” Griselda added.

“Yes, but they want a, erm, a woman.” He gave a nervous sort of grimace and dialed the phone. “Hello? Executioner Migina?”

Griselda left before she could catch the rest of the conversation. Not used to being in the citadel for more than a day at a time, she wasn’t sure what to do. They were putting in a cinema in the public area, but she didn’t think it was open yet.  She’d already fed. She wasn’t interested in shopping. It was too late for television; the human’s programming ended while the night was still young.

A book seemed a good option, so she headed to the citadel’s library to emerge some time later, three novels tucked under her arm.

Near the executioner block she saw a familiar figure. Migina moved with the grace of a predator, her long black braid thrown over her shoulder. Dressed in men’s pants and boots, she was nearly as tall as Griselda, and probably a hundred years older.

The Executioner drew up and eyed Griselda disdainfully. “I suppose I should thank you for dumping your assignment on me.”

“Talk to the lesser council. They have yet to approve my request for a new vehicle.”

“Then drive the old one,” Migina snapped back. “Never mind. I don’t have time for your argle-bargle. I have an assignment to go on. I was home for a whole two hours. Wouldn’t want to get too cozy.”

Migina swept off down the corridor, leaving Griselda to glare after her. What the hell was argle-bargle? Was it an Indian word – or from whatever race Migina was supposed to be?

It’s probably some kind of insult.

“I’m sure your guard dog will be happy to keep Franklin warm for you,” she shouted after the retreating vampiress. When Migina spun, fury in her eyes, Griselda amended with a smirk, “I mean keep your den warm for you.”

Migina’s mouth worked, but then she scoffed, and stormed away without rebuttal.

That’s what I thought.

Griselda found Sergei vacuuming. She walked past him without comment, and shut herself in the bedroom. It really was a shame that she needed to replace him already. He’d just finally learned how to keep a clean house.

***

The next evening, Griselda stopped in at the café for breakfast. The waiter half forced a couple out of their table in his rush to seat her. She took the seat, still warm from the previous occupant, and ordered a glass with cinnamon.

She waited, hands folded in her lap, and blue eyes watching the other patrons. Vampires hunched in little cliques, drinking and talking. She was suddenly hyper-aware of the empty chair across from her, of the way other guests’ eyes would move toward her and then dance away, as if they were afraid to make contact.

Well they should be. I’m an Executioner for God’s sake. I could kill them with a thought.

And as an agonizer, she could, too, or at the very least make them wish they were dead. If only she’d gotten the mind reading abilities that usually came with such a gift…

“Not all gifts are the same, child,” Malick had once told her. “Though you do not read minds, your ability to cause pain is one of the most focused I’ve seen in an Agonizer. With time, and luck, perhaps you will find yourself in the next evolution.”

But still an evolution without mind reading, she reminded herself glumly.

“-with your friend.”

Griselda’s attention snapped up and she saw the waiter standing next to her table, motioning a vampire to the empty chair. And not just any vampire. It was-

“Philip.” A fellow Executioner, he’d been promoted from greater guard the same time as she had, when the Hand of Death and the Tormentor left. But that did not make him her friend.

No matter how good looking he is.

And he was good looking, with black hair and intense chocolate colored eyes; the kind of eyes that seemed to stare right through you – or right into your future. To a well-developed demon eye, they were the same thing.

Philip gave her a heartbreaker’s smile and took the empty chair with a flourish. He rattled off an order, and the waiter hurried away, as if hounds were chasing him.

“You look unhappy, Zelda, dear,” Philip said as he leaned back in his seat, long fingers drumming lightly on the tabletop.

“I didn’t invite you to join me,” she replied stiffly.

“No, but our dear waiter is under the impression that wearing matching necklaces makes us friends.  Remember when we used to be friends?”

The innuendo in his voice sent warm shivers down her back. She remembered a time when they’d been…something. Perhaps not friends, but bedfellows. When his hot hands had slid over her naked shoulders and down to-

She pushed the memories away and forced her face neutral. “Vaguely.”

“I could refresh your memory, if you’d like? You could come back to me den, admire the art on my wall. I have a new print of Picasso’s La Douceur we could imitate. I have a couple of hours before I have to leave for Cincinnati to deal with a rogue. That should be plenty of time.”

She’d seen his art collection, and though she didn’t recognize the name pf the painting he mentioned, she could guess it would be something erotic, just like the others. “No thank you. I have my day planned out.”

“Really? I heard you were stuck here until the council approved a new car? And since your guard dog’s gone off the rails-”

She ground her teeth together. “Just who told you that?”

“Beldren might have mentioned it when I talked to him earlier. He warned me to keep a tight rein on my own, that Verchiel and Ark’s humans were on a seduction crusade. Ark’s I believe, but Verchiel’s is too…too child-like for most men to find attractive. Like a doll. A real man doesn’t want a child’s play thing in his bed. Migina’s guard dog on the other hand, have you seen her? She’s exquisite. And she tastes delicious.”

He broke into laughter as the waiter appeared with their glasses. He dropped them off and hurried away, leaving Philip chuckling.

“I suppose you’ve had her,” Griselda commented with no interest.

“All three of them, though Verchiel’s is too cumbersome to make for a repeat visit.” He studied her frown. “You can’t tell me you haven’t sampled at least one of the guard dogs? Not even your own?”

Griselda took a long draw from her glass before answering, “Not in a sexual way, no.”

“You’re missing out. Seriously while Migina is gone you should pay a visit to her den. I know you prefer men, but once the blood starts flowing, they all taste the same, and she has a repertoire of talents you can’t imagine.”

“And I’d rather continue not imagining them, if you don’t mind. I have my standards. They’re low, but I have them.

“Too good for a human lover?” Philip smirked. “They have their place, you know. You can break them without repercussion, if the mood strikes. And you may like to pretend now, Zelda, darling, but I know the mood does strike you.”

Griselda drained her glass in a single long gulp, and stood. “The only thing I feel like striking now is you. Have a lovely trip. Good luck to the rogue. May he take your heart.”

She stormed through the café and out, hands fists at her sides. Philip always did that to her; left her confused, angry, fumbling for a decent comeback. Whether it was their brief history, or just his smoldering presence, she didn’t know, but she didn’t trust him as far as she could throw him.

As if to make her night complete, she ran into Verchiel just inside the Executioner block.

“Good evening!” He said cheerfully.

“I thought you were gone,” Griselda snapped.  After Philip, she didn’t have the patience for this.

“I’m back now. I hope Valerie didn’t cause you any undo stress in my absence.” He batted his eyes innocently.

“If you mean your stupid human, then no, she’s been too busy in someone else’s bed to bother Sergei. Probably Philip’s.”

A frown flickered over Verchiel’s face, to be quickly replaced by his usual clown-ish smile. “So she’s moving up to seducing Executioners now? Good for her.”

Griselda scoffed. “If you believe a word Philip says. He’s as full of lies as everyone else.”

“That’s not very nice,” Verchiel said. “And especially about your fellow Executioners! We’re like a family-”

“A family that’s waiting to stab one another in the dark, you mean?”

“A royal family then,” Verchiel said cheerfully. “The things they do to get the throne…it makes us look angelic.” He turned suddenly serious. “Though in all honesty, what has anyone really done? It isn’t as if you’ve bene attacked in your sleep.”

“Not yet, but I expect to be, thanks to you and your whore.” Verchiel looked ready to argue, so she added, “Everyone knows Sergei has been compromised by your bitch in heat. It’s only a matter of time until someone realizes this is their chance and takes it.”

Verchiel cocked his head to one side. “Do you really think Philip, or Migina, or Zuri, or Senya would sneak into your room and cut your heart out. Really?” He paused. “Okay, maybe Senya, but the others…”

Griselda scoffed. “Of all of you, Senya’s the one I suspect the least. Bren calls her blunt and tactless, but I call her honest. At least you know where you stand with her, unlike the others, who speak with honey one moment and venom the next.  Especially you. Your smile doesn’t fool anyone. The broader it is, the more devious the thoughts behind it.”

“I will say you have a point about Senya, but as for the rest…If that’s how you want to view the world, I guess that’s your choice. If you don’t mind, I have an appointment with the lesser council to pick out a new vehicle.”

He started past, but Griselda grabbed his arm and dragged him back. “A new vehicle? Are you serious? I put in for one days ago and am still waiting for approval! How did you get it?”

He tugged loose and shot her a wink. “If you want a new one, the best thing to do is total the old one. Preferably mid-assignment. They’ll approve the new one as fast as they can, so you can get back out there and get things finished up.” He tapped the side of his head. “Just a little bit of deviousness, there. Ciao!”

He headed through the door, leaving her to stomp back to her apartment. It was ridiculous that he’d be approved that way! Surely the council could see through him – see the trick – and refuse him.

Except they didn’t.

***

Griselda woke the next evening, wrapped in a gray cloud. She dressed and ordered in breakfast. Unfortunately, she’d finished all three library books, so when the television went off air for the night, it left her with nothing to do but stare at the carpet and try to ignore Sergei’s sulking presence.

“If I could go to the sixth floor,” he began, but she cut him off.

“And fraternize with God knows who? No. You’ve done enough. I’m surprised Beldren or one of the others hasn’t barged in and killed us both already.”

“Because I’m in love with Valerie? That doesn’t make any sense!”

“I said shut up!” Griselda shouted, even though she knew she hadn’t said it.  “You’re driving me insane,” she muttered. “Being stuck here is driving me insane. I need an automobile and an assignment!”

She stormed out, leaving him with a scowl.

In the Executioners’ office, the guard cringed behind the desk, his eyes everywhere but her. “I-I’m sorry, but the council denied your request. You have the right to appeal.”

Griselda slammed her fist into the desk. “Why did they deny it?”

“I-I don’t know. They, uh, they didn’t say, only that it was denied. I’ll, uh, get you the appeal paperwork.”

“Yes, do that,” she bit off angrily. How the hell had Verchiel been approved – and so quickly – when she’d been denied yet again?

Probably because he’s a low level whisperer. Or because he’s a man.

Either one was possible.

With the paperwork in hand, she stopped at the library for a new book.  Among the rows she recognized a familiar dark head, long hair pulled back in a sloppy bun. She didn’t need to see his face – or the medallion around his neck – to know it was Jamie, a fellow Executioner.

Though she avoided him, he ended up in line behind her at the checkout desk.

“Griselda,” he said with a polite nod.

“Jamie,” she returned.

“I hear you’re having trouble with your vehicle.”

Yes. Because everyone hears everything. “I’m planning to appeal their decision.”

“Good luck.”

She doubted that he meant it, but made a noise that sounded like “thank you”.

“If you want to win your appeal, the best way is to appear cooperative,” he added.

“Yes. I’ll get right on that.”

He shrugged. “Not that you want advice, but refusing to accept an assignment-”

“I’m not refusing to take assignments, only refusing to ride in that…that death trap of a roadster! What happens when it breaks down – again – and this time leaves me stranded hours from civilization and shelter? Shall I just burn up in the sun, waiting for help?”

Jamie kept his tone even, “I doubt that would happen. There are very few stretches of land that uninhabited anymore.”

She rolled her eyes as she handed her book to the librarian. “Then risk your life in it and I’ll take your vehicle.” He only blinked at her and she sneered. “That’s what I thought. Have a good day.”

Then she swished out, the book clutched to her chest like a shield against stupidity.

She marched back to her apartment and locked herself in her bedroom; the only safe place from the others. She wasn’t sure how many more days she could take of this – of running into every Executioner, or their advice and comments.

I need a goddamn automobile before I kill someone!

***

It was later that evening when Sergei knocked on Griselda’s bedroom door. “You have a call from someone named Harry.”

Griselda stuck the bookmark in and laid the novel aside. Had harry procured someone so quickly? He’d acted like it might take weeks.

“He usually comes through faster than he says he will.”

Apparently Bren was right. That made for a change.

She lifted the receiver form the cradle on her nightstand. “Griselda here.”

“Executioner?” Harry’s voice came back. “I have the package you ordered. If you’d care to come pick it up and make payment?”

It felt a little like prostitution, but she reminded herself it was more like buying a pet – such as a dog. Yes. Just purchasing a soulless animal. “Where do I meet you?”

“On the sixth floor…let’s say the recreation room, shall we? In twenty minutes?”

Griselda agreed and hung up.  Though it was ridiculous, she thought Sergei looked suspicious as she walked past him.  There was no way he could know that she was replacing him, no way he’d know what his fate was to be.

It’s your own fault. If you’d just kept to yourself.

In the corridor she found Verchiel , like a bad penny intent on ruining her day.

“Just who I was looking for!” he said cheerfully.

She tried to dodge around him. “I don’t have time to mess with you. I have an appointment.”

“Actually, that’s what I wanted to talk to you about,” Verchiel said. “You’re planning to replace your human?”

She stopped and turned back to face him. “And how do you know-” she broke off when he tapped the side of his head. Of course. Though not accomplished, he was a dream stealer of sorts. “What does it matter to you?”

“Well, it seems if you’re replacing – Sergei, isn’t it? – then you won’t need him anymore.”

“Obviously,” she snapped. “I really am in a hurry. If you could cut to the chase?”

“How would you like to sell him?”

She choked on the suggestion. “Excuse me? Sell him? To who? You? Hardly! He knows things I’m sure you’d find useful.”

Verchiel shook his head. “Anything he knows I can find out. From you.” He tapped the side of his head again.

“Then what do you want him for?”

“Let’s say breeding purposes. He and Valerie make a fine pair, don’t you think?” She scoffed and he added, “I’m willing to trade for him.”

Griselda scoffed. “Trade what?”

The redhead jingled a set of car keys. “I mentioned that I got approved for a new car? Give me Sergei, and it’s all yours.”

She narrowed her eyes suspiciously. “Just what kind of vehicle is it?”

“A Hudson Hornet, painted black. Brand new.” He jingled the keys again. “It’s not really my kind of car, you see.”

“And just what will you drive if I take it?”

“I’ll manage. I have enough in the bank I can buy my own outright. Maybe a racecar, for fun. Anyway, what do you say?”

She tried to calculate various scenarios in her head. What could Verchiel really be up to? Why would he really want Sergei? The breeding excuse was thin at best…but the automobile would end her stalemate with the council and get her out of there before she went insane.

“Fine. He’s yours.”

She snatched at the keys, but Verchiel pulled them away. “Not so fast. Once I have him, you’ll get these.” He jingled them again. “Not that I don’t trust you, but…”

“Fine,” she snarled. “Go get him and his belongings, and leave those.” She leaned down, so that her fangs flashed close to his face. “And if you cross me…”

“You’ll send your new guard dog to kill me in my sleep?” Verchiel suggested. “How scary.” Before she could react, he grabbed her hand, pumped it up and down, and then disappeared in a blur of speed, tossing back, “It’s great doing business with you!”

Griselda shook her head. “Idiot.”

***

Not well versed with the sixth floor, it took Griselda a couple of tries to find the meeting place. Stuffed with couches, a pool table, and a television, she understood the name recreation room. What she didn’t understand was why they were meeting there.

Still, Harry seemed at home, wearing a new suit and a fanged smile. On the couch next to him sat a young woman of maybe twenty-two. Mousy brown hair hung limp, and giant eyes shimmered with unshed tears. Her hands were pulled behind her back, probably tied at the wrists. She wore a torn dress, dirt knees peeking out from under the full skirt.

Harry swept to his feet, the fanged smile growing wider as he bowed. “Executioner Griselda. I believe this will fit your requirements?”

She looked over the trembling human. “I wanted a guard dog, not a trembling puppy!”

“Ah, but the fiercest guard dog was once a pup, was it not?” Harry smiled. “I believe she has potential.”

Griselda rolled her eyes, but moved past him to examine the girl. She lifted her chin, forcing the teary eyes to meet her own. “You! What’s your name?”

“L-Linda.”

“Stand up, Linda.”

The girl tried, but without her hands, she fell back. Griselda caught her shoulder and pulled her up. Shorter than she was, she was of medium build, not too thin, but not fat. Meaty, her grandmother would have said, with child bearing hips but very little to feed the babes with.

“Do you know why you’re here?” Griselda demanded.

“I…” She looked to Harry, and her face crumpled as her eyes shifted back. “No. I really don’t. I don’t understand-”

“Would you rather go home?” Griselda pressed.

“I…Not home but…I…my husband…I have nowhere to go.” The tears dripped down her cheeks, growing torrential as she sobbed. “They’ll put me in prison.”

“prison?” Griselda gave Harry a sharp look. “Who will put you in prison?”

“The…the police.  But he deserved it. He…he deserved it.”

At another sharp look, harry finally relented. “Our dear girl murdered her husband in cold blood; shot him in the heart.”

“He deserved it!” Linda sobbed. “They all deserve it!”

“Who?” Griselda asked.

“Men!” Linda choked on her tears and snuffled her nose with a disgusting liquid sound. “They’re all the same. They’re full of sugar lies and cotton candy dreams, but then they have too much to drink, and they want to show you who’s boss, and maybe you can take a little of that, until you catch them with their secretary, and then…and then…”

“And then a bullet to the heart,” Griselda finished. She reached behind the girl and pulled the rope free. “Thank you, Harry. I believe she’ll do just fine.”

“There is a little matter of payment. Two hundred dollars should do it.”

Griselda stiffened at the price. Two hundred dollars, for a human? They were running around out here for free; thousands of them! She could wait and…and…and she’d already traded Sergei off to Verchiel. If she refused to pay, it would leave her defenseless – leave Verchiel with an opening to sneak in and cut her heart out.

And if he knows I’m defenseless, the rest will too. Nothing stays a secret here.

“Fine. I assume you prefer cash?”

***

With the transaction complete, Griselda led Linda down to the Executioner block. The woman seemed caught between terror and perverse excitement at the prospect of serving vampires. It was a fascinating mixture.

“This is my den,” Griselda announced as she unlocked the door.

She led Linda inside. Sergei’s absence stood out like a missing tooth, and she left her new acquisition alone to check the bedroom. Sure enough, it was cleaned out, with no sign that the human had ever been there.

She spun for the doorway when the glint of something metallic caught her eye on the dresser. She snatched up the car keys like a prize. Verchiel was many things, but at least he’d kept his word.

This time.

Clutching the keys, she headed back to her new guard dog. Hopefully by this time tomorrow she’d be on the road, and Linda would be settled in, ready to defend against both man, woman, and vampire, even if that meant putting a bullet through their heart, just like she had her husband.

As she said, they’re all alike, and they all deserve it. The secret it to get them before they get me.

****

Guesses:

Topic: Doris

Picture: Gerard

  1. Kinda looks like Axle Rose. 2. three faced 3. triplicate 4. trio 5. kind a looks like a Duran, Duran album cover, too. 6. Impressionist or whatever 7. I don’t know all the fancy art terms because I don’t like most of the movements. 8. I know cubism, but this ain’t it. 9. Kinda looks like Picasso (also in blog). 10. in gray scale. 11. shades of gray. 12. though I don’t think there’s fifty shades of gray there. 13. See what I did there? 14. sisters 15. triplets 16. There are weird noises here. 17. I swear someone just shouted “Oggie, Oggie, Oggie!” but no one is awake except me. 18. I bet it’s some of Jonathan’s voodoo 19. Makes as much sense as my guesses this week. 20. It’s just to abstract for me, I guess.

 

Blogophilia 37.10

It’s time again for Blogophilia, the fun blog group where martien gives us prompts to use in our weekly blog. This week’s prompts are:

Ecrits Blogophilia Week 37.10 Topic – Lost in a Maze
**BONUSES:
Hard (2 pts) Include a quote from your favorite movie from the 80’s
Easy (1 pt) Mention something you love to cook
.

I should have finished the Griselda story, but I am in a short story funk – lost in a maze with no way out, so to speak. Publishing a story on Amazon and setting the price for free was pretty much impossible – to get the price “matched” (the only way to make it free without going exclusive to Amazon and earning one week of free promo days), you had to upload the book to other retailers, set it to free there, send the proof of this to Amazon, along with some cookies, and hope they’d match it. Okay, you don’t really have to send cookies, but without them you get a nasty reminder that price is up to them to set.

Anyway, enter Pronoun, a publishing platform that distributed to Amazon and allowed you to make your book/story free. It’s thanks to pronoun that I’ve been able to put those short stories on Amazon for free – well yesterday they announced they’re closing. Books can no longer be published through them, and in January any books through them will be gone – so I will have to republish through Amazon, meaning I’ll lose my free status because Amazon will want me to charge at least $.99 for them.

So, no more stories on Amazon. But, enough of my complaining, time to move on to the photos! To quote The Pirate Movie:

Away to the ship and hoist up that chain doodad!

Anchor, sir?

No, Sam. Just disappointment.

Disappointment in Pronoun aside, I posted the trip to the train last week, so here are some photos from the train ride. What fun!

 

And now for guesses!

topic: Dahlia

picture: Stormy

  1. everything but the kitchen sink  2. home away from home 3. all the comforts of home 4. there’s no place like home 5. over packing 6. I kinda want one but I could never deface a vintage suitcase like that 7. I’d buy one someone else made, though 8. vacation home 9. beats a motor home 10. hideaway 11. tiny house 12. dollhouse 13. perfect for pixies 14. welcome 15. come for the tour 16. open house 17. why is there no kitchen? that’s the best part of a doll house 18. living out of a suitcase 19. home is in the heart – or the suitcase 20. I’m out

When Joleene and Charles Naylor Came to Visit

And we had a great time also! 😀 And of note: those buckeyes are delicious. He is NOT exaggerating 😉

Rami Ungar The Writer

From left to right: Joleene, Charles and I in my apartment stairwell.

Last night I had two wonderful visitors come to visit me at my apartment: my friend and fellow writer Joleene Naylor, whom you’ve probably seen around the blog quite a bit, especially in the comments, and her husband Charles, who were passing through Central Ohio on a trip to West Virginia, and made a point to stop by.

I’ve been blogging and Facebooking and tweeting for over six years, so I’ve had plenty of time to make friends with numerous other writers, Joleene among them. Unfortunately, the distance between me and all these other writers often means we’re confined to online interaction. So when an opportunity to visit comes up, I get really excited (and a little nervous) and look forward to meeting them. And last night, I finally got to meet Joleene in person.

Joleene and Charles…

View original post 781 more words

Blogophilia 36:10

It’s time again for Blogophilia, the fun blog group where Martien gives participants prompts to use in their weekly blog. This week’s prompts are:

Ecrits Blogophilia Week 36.10 Topic – Bell, Book and Candle
**BONUSES:
Hard (2 pts) Use 3 compound words but separate the compound words (i.e., if you choose the word “anybody” you have to use the words “any” and “body” separately)
Easy (1 pt) Quote Herman Munster of the The Munsters!

I should finish the Griselda story. Instead you’re going to get some cheesy photos. Well, I say cheesy, but they’re kind of pretty in my opinion. I might be biased about it, since I took them and edited them and what not.

As for the pics, you might be expecting a little bell, book, and candle from me, or maybe photos of some body in the woods – or any body, anywhere for that matter. I will say that though the ride produced some good pics, it was not so fun. It wasn’t mean time, or anything, but there were sick kids, and, well… let’s end it there. The train ride afterwards was great, though, and the trip back was fine, so that’s what matters. Of course, we all agreed we’d like to go on another ride, but what I’m dying to know is: when?

These are the only images I’ve managed to edit yet, though rest assured there are literally thousands of them left to do. So a lot to look forward to, huh?

And now for guesses:

Topic: Diana 

Photo: Stormy

  1. Strange Magic. 2. Something wicked 3. in the woods 4. Hocus Pocus 5. The Worst Witch 6. The Craft 7. The Witch 8. Blair Witch 9. The Love Witch 10. Practical Magic 11. Love Potion Number Nine 12. waiting for the coven 13. Crimson witch 14. Black magic woman 15. Witchy woman 16. season of the witch 17. cast a spell 18. double double toil and trouble 19. fire burn and cauldron bubble 20. Happy Halloween
%d bloggers like this: