What are the Thurmans?

Continuing from where we left off…

**

Frieda caught Henry’s hand and he looked down at her.  She was frowning at Mr. Thurman.  “He’s not like the Singers,” she said, her voice faint.  She looked at Johannes and shook her head.  “They don’t hiss at you when you sing the Purification Song.”

Panis Angelicus,” Nancy said, her voice faint.

Konrad’s lips twitched and he shrugged.  “Potato, potato,” he said, pronouncing the word two different ways.  “You call it by its lyrical name.  We call it by its functional name.”

Henry looked over at Liesel.  “How’s Mr. Thurman different from the Singers and the other tainted spirits that Johannes purifies, Liesel?” he asked.  Somehow, he felt like it was important to know that detail at that moment.

Liesel’s brows furrowed and she tilted her head.  As the wind ruffled her hair, her eyes widened.  “He serves the Dark One,” she breathed.  “So does Mrs. Thurman.”

Mr. Thurman suddenly straightened.  He thrust out his hand at Johannes.  At that moment, a long jagged blade appeared in his hand.  Konrad pushed his younger brother back as Mr. Thurman struck.  Konrad hissed in pain as the blade slashed across his arm.

“Konrad,” Claire breathed, leaping forward without a thought for her own safety.  She grabbed a napkin with one hand and his arm with the other, pressing the napkin firmly over the wound.  As a nurse, some things just came as instinct.

Without missing a beat, Johannes left off singing the first song and switched to a series of chanted lyrics in Latin.  As he said the two phrases over and over, Mr. Thurman continued to try to attack.  However, each blow bounced harmlessly off a barrier between him and everyone else.  Then, he hissed and leapt onto the porch overhang.  He ran and leapt off the roof before vanishing into the garden.

Johannes turned to Konrad, rushing to his side as Claire helped him sit down.  “It’s all right, Aunt Claire,” he said, patting her arm.  Then, in a sweet, clear voice, he began singing yet another song.

Nancy released a shaky breath and looked over at Henry.  “Do I want to know what Ave Maria is going to do?” she asked, her voice faint.  He could tell that she was having trouble taking it all in.  After all, Henry didn’t mention work very often.

“They call it the Healing Song,” he said, his voice soft.

Claire heaved a sigh and carefully eased the napkin away.  Then, she gently wiped at were the wound had been, revealing newly healed flesh.  Looking at Konrad, she said, “Are you all right, sweetie?”

“Yes, ma’am,” Konrad said.  As Johannes finished the song, he smiled.  “Thank you, little brother.”

Johannes looked at his brother and nodded.  Then, he looked at Claire, before turning to Nancy and then Henry.  “I think we know who opened the portal in Opa’s garden,” he said.

“The only question now is… why?” Henry said, nodding.

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The Whole Truth

This little story was inspired by a prompt from Tomi Adeyemi’s site.

**

“You only heard his side,” Mykolas Balchunas said, his voice strained.  He slapped fisted hands down on the table and shook his head.  “You don’t know the truth.”

Detective Hale frowned at Balchunas.  Normally, he was such a mild-mannered person.  He ran a café.  He baked cookies and made regional food.  He should be the last sort of person to have repeated run-ins with the police.  Yet, somehow, here he was once again.  This time, he was even sitting in an interrogation room.

Actually, it was showing Detective Hale a side of the quiet baker that he’d never imagined.  Blachunas might be placid and easy-going when he was dealing with customers at his café.  However, when he felt like there was an injustice going on, he wasn’t the sort to back down.  He was not a push-over and he wouldn’t allow anyone to run rough-shod over him.  He was quiet, but he had nerves of steel.

“I haven’t heard your side of things,” Detective Hale said, nodding.  His brows furrowed.  “Your side of the things is more truthful than his is?”

Balchunas clenched his jaw and seemed to take a moment to center himself.  When he spoke again, it was in his normal, gentle tones.  “There are things he doesn’t know,” he said, shaking his head.  “He told the truth as he saw it, but… it wasn’t the whole truth, because he didn’t see what he thought he saw.”

Detective Hale frowned at Balchunas for a moment.  Then, he leaned forward.  “What is the whole truth, then?” he asked, his voice soft.

For a moment, he wasn’t sure that Balchunas would say anything.  Then, the young man released a shuddering breath and nodded.  “If you need to verify what I’m telling you, contact Henry Shepherd with the Federal Bureau of Investigation,” he said, his voice soft.  “It’s something that sounds… insane, actually.  That’s why I’m telling you to verify with him.”

“Fair enough,” Detective Hale said, nodding.

Balchunas closed his eyes.  “There are, in this world, demons, Detective,” he said, his voice soft.  “There are ghosts and spirits and a host of incorporeal beings that are not visible to everyone.  Of those, demons are the most dangerous.”

He looked up at Detective Hale, meeting his gaze.  “Just as there are beings of evil, there are forces of good that are called upon to counter them,” he said.  His brow furrowed and he shook his head.  “I didn’t kill anyone, Detective Hale.  I also didn’t hide any body so that there wouldn’t be evidence of a murder.  What Mr. Jones saw was a demon inhabiting a corpse.”

“What?” Detective Hale said, frowning.  “Like a zombie?”

For a moment, Balchunas chewed at his lip.  Then, he shook his head.  “Zombies are corpses animated through the magic of a wizard,” he said, his voice soft.  “These would be more properly termed revenants, although we call them Singers.”

“So… you killed the demon?”

“I damaged the corpse, so that the demon had to repair it before it could continue its attack,” Balchunas said.  He shrugged.  “Then… I purified the corpse of the evil inhabiting it.  The body is gone because the act of purification is so powerful that the corpse was consumed.”

“And the demon?”

“Is in the Abyss, Detective,” Balchunas said, his voice faint.  He shook his head.  “I didn’t kill anyone because the person Mr. Jones says he saw me attack… was already dead.  The demon killed him by ripping out his heart and consuming it.”

Detective Hale stared at Balchunas for a moment longer.  Then, he said, “Wait here, Mr. Balchunas.”  When the young man nodded, he stood and left the room.  For some reason that he couldn’t quite explain, he believed the story.  As insane as it sounded, it made sense.  The man Balchunas was supposed to have killed had been missing for a week.  Jones had said his clothing was torn and blood-stained on the chest.  Not only that, the man had been, by all accounts, a gentle person who fed ducks and birds in a local park.  Why would he have attacked Balchunas in the first place?

He grimaced at his partner and nodded.  “I believe him,” he said.  When she smiled weakly, he said, “I’ve got to call Agent Shepherd and get some verification, but I believe him, Miriam.”

“I’ll wait until you’ve got the verification you need before I go and speak with him,” she said, folding her hands on her desk and watching him expectantly.  Detective Hale knew that Miriam had believed Balchunas couldn’t be a murderer from the beginning.  It made him wonder what she knew that he didn’t.

Common Ground

This is a little scene inspired by a picture prompt from the WriYe DreamWidth.

**

“That’s… a lot of books.”

0c9c0670ac365085724e5a299b260074Clayton looked up from the book he’d been reading at the proclamation.  Shutting the book, he set it on the shelf where it belonged.  Then, he climbed down from the ladder.  “It’s a library, Sheriff,” he said, smirking.  “They tend to be home to a great number of books.”

Brady frowned at him and then looked around at the books once again.  “Have you read all of these books, Clay?” he asked.

Stifling a laugh, Clayton shook his head.  “The point isn’t that I have read all of these books and I think everyone should,” he said, meeting the younger man’s eyes.  “It’s that… these are books that might be of interest to others.  I’ve read many books, but… not this many.  I couldn’t do that unless I read a book every day for the rest of my life.”

Hannah slipped into the library just then and nodded at the sheriff.  “Hello,” she said.  She smiled brightly at Clayton and said, “Good morning, Mr. Stamford.”

“Good day, Miss Adler,” Clayton said, giving her a warm smile of his own.  He returned his attention to Brady, as she began searching among the shelves for a particular book.

When Brady frowned, Clayton shrugged.  “Miss Adler reads a great deal about history,” he said.  “The books are organized by interest area.”

“Oh,” he said.  He frowned at Clayton.  “Do you have any… story books here?”

Even as Hannah was point absently in the direction of the type of book that Brady was asking about, Clayton was nodding.  “I have both more classical pieces and examples of current novels over here, Sheriff,” he said.

With a Generous Heart

Just a random story with my new characters…

**

Clay looked up as Schuyler and Greta slipped into the saloon.  Normally, children wouldn’t be allowed inside.  However, it was still early in the day and he could tell that they weren’t there to make trouble.  He smiled as Schuyler stepped up to him.  “Hello, Schuyler,” he said.  Nodding at the girl, he said, “Hello, Miss Greta.”

“Hello, Mr. Stamford,” the pair said together.

Schuyler set the package he was carrying on the bar.  “Your curtains are finished, sir,” he said.

Clay smiled and then nodded.  He unwrapped the bundle and drew out the curtains.  They were exactly what he needed to dress the windows in the saloon.  They would provide a bit of a screen from the outside world, without making the room dark.  They also didn’t look too feminine.

“There are perfect,” he said, nodding in admiration.  He gave Greta the money that they had agreed upon as the price for the curtains.  Then, he gave each child five pennies.  Winking, he said, “That’s your delivery fee.”

“Thank you,” Greta said, hugging the pennies in her fist close to her chest.  Waving, she hurried out of the saloon with Schuyler close on her heels.

Clay watched as the pair hurried into the general store.  They wouldn’t spend all their pennies, but he knew they would buy enough candy to share with their sisters and brothers.  After all, they were the sort of children that never thought only of themselves.  “If only there were more people in the world like them,” Clay mused as he got to work sweeping the floor.

Epilogue

My dare chapter for Camp NaNo!

**

I ducked as a marshmallow came flying across the room and then glanced over at my daughter. “If one of those lands in Mr. Ian Woon’s potion, he will be very cross with you,” I warned her. She looked at me with wide, innocent eyes. Fighting the urge to smile, I said, “Play with your catapult elsewhere.”

“It’s not a catapult, Da,” she said, as she lifted the wooden model off the floor where she’d been playing. “It’s a trebuchet!”

She was all set to launch into a long explanation about the differences between the two when I cut her off. “Take your miniature siege engine outside, please,” I said, making waving motions towards the door. As she gathered up the marshmallows and the model and headed for the door that led to the back garden, I turned back to the potion I’d been brewing. “Thank you,” I called.

“You’re welcome, Da,” she replied, as she headed outside.

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Here Comes Trouble

I’m going to be doing the Genre Stretch again this year.  I might be using the same characters for them all… I might not.  January’s challenge was Bizzaro Fiction.  I’m not sure how successful I was, but I enjoyed writing the story and I’m pretty happy with it.

**

“According to the reports we’ve been receiving, livestock started going missing about a month ago,” Ruby said, as they drove into the campground.  “Then, just this week, three campers went missing.”

“Hence, why we’re stopping here, rather than one of the local farms,” Konrad said, his voice soft.  He heaved a sigh and shook his head.  “So, you’re thinking, what?  A dragon?”

“Maybe,” Ruby said, grinning brightly.  She shoved Konrad playfully when he heaved another sigh.  “Come on, Konrad!  Where’s your sense of adventure?”

“Must have left it in my other suit,” he replied.  He shook his head as she pulled the car to a stop.  “Seriously, Agent Montgomery, this is all fun and games for you, but I’ve got four younger siblings that depend on me.  I can’t just get eaten by a dragon.  You know?”

“It shouldn’t surprise you but I’m none to keen about being dragon food either,” Ruby said, chuckling.  She bounced out of the car and grabbed her bag out of the trunk.  She frowned when she noticed that Konrad was staring at his cellular phone.  “You aren’t going to chicken out on me.  Are you?”

“No,” he said, rolling his eyes.  He heaved a sigh and held up the cell phone that she could see it.  “No signal,” he told her.  “We’re in the middle of nowhere, Agent Montgomery!  What if we get into trouble?  What if we need backup?  What if my sister tries to call me?  What if my brother has a flare up?”

“Stop already,” Ruby said, rolling her eyes.  She tossed Konrad his bag and then headed towards the cabin they would be sharing.  “There’s a landline from the cabin.  We can use that for emergencies.”  Glancing back at her partner, she added, “If it makes you feel better, call the house and give Markus the number for the cabin.”

“I may do that,” Konrad said, as he shouldered his bag and followed her towards the cabin.

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Total Eclipse

This is another story inspired by the WriYe DreamWidth.  This one is also using a photo prompt.  The scene is set when Keenan was still working for Elayne, since that’s when I’ve been writing him of late.

**

Keenan swept his weathering cloak around his shoulders as he headed out into the courtyard. He stifled a sigh when someone called his name.

Whirling around, he found that Rusty was leaning against the nearby wall, his arms crossed over his chest. “You’re in an awful hurry,” he said, smirking. “Late for a very important date?”

“No time to say hello. Goodbye,” he said, shaking his head. He spun away from the tall mage and then stopped when when a tangle of vines grew up in front of the gate. “Seriously, Rusty?” he said, glancing at the mage. “You know how I feel about those things.”

“Elayne said you were supposed to stay in the castle, Keenan,” Rusty said, shaking his head. He shrugged. “Either that or you don’t go alone.”

Keenan ground his teeth for a moment. Then, he pointed up at the sky. “Eclipse,” he said. “Total eclipse and I need to gather the fluxweed at the apex of the eclipse, or it will be useless. Move your vines or I’ll burn them, Rusty.”

That did the trick. The vines retreated and Keenan bolted out of the courtyard. He wasn’t especially surprised when Rusty fell into step behind him. He skidded to a stop as he reached the patch of fluxweed that he’d found the week before. He settled his glasses into place and glanced towards the sun.

Total Eclipse“Perfect,” he said. As he dropped to his knees and began gathering the fluxweed, he added, “Don’t look at the sun unless you’d like to burn your retinas and go blind.”

“You just did,” Rusty said, his tone irritable.

“These have special filters on them,” Keenan said, tapping his glasses. “It’s safe for me, but your eyes aren’t protected.” He finished gathering the plants and settled a cloth over them. Keenan moved to his feet. “Let’s go,” he said.

Then, he started up the hill back towards the castle. He chuckled softly when Rusty fell into step behind him. “You really can walk beside me, you know,” he called. He gave Rusty a sidelong glance when the tall man stepped up beside him. “I wouldn’t have really burned your vines, you know?” he said.

“I know,” Rusty said, rolling his eyes. “The only way you’d attack a plant is if it attacked you first.” He shook his head. “Then, all bets are off. The sooner Alaric learns that, the happier he’ll be.”

Keenan rolled his eyes and nodded. “Phillip’s told him, but he’s stubborn,” he murmured.

“What do you need the fluxweed for anyway?”

Smiling, Keenan held the basket closer to his chest. “Fluxweed gathered on the solar eclipse goes into my invisibility potion,” he said. “Tristan wants the stuff, I need this to make it.”

“You could have just said so,” Rusty said, rolling his eyes.

Somewhere in Space

Getting back to my aliens… Shanmias is confused by art.  Jennifer tries to explain it to him.  This was inspired by a photo prompt on the WriYe DreamWidth.

**

Shanmias frowned at the artistic depiction of the solar system.  There were so many inaccuracies, it made Shanmias wonder why Jennifer bothered to hang it at all.  At the same time… he couldn’t quite bring himself to ask her.

“What’s wrong, Shawn?”

He glanced over his shoulder at the woman in question.  “This is not to scale,” he said, shaking his head.

“A painting of the solar system to scale probably wouldn’t fit on the wall,” Jennifer pointed out.  Then, she tilted her head to one side and added, “Or… it wouldn’t have enough detail to know what it was.”

Shanmias blinked at her for a moment.  “So… the artist did this on purpose?” he asked.

“It’s called artistic license,” she said, nodding and heading out of the room.  “There are cookies, if you want some.”

For a moment, Shanmias hesitated.  Then, he shifted from one foot to another and spun around.  “Do they have the little sprinkly things on them?” he called.  He frowned when laughter answered his question.

A Two for…

This scene was inspired by two prompts, since one section follows the next so closely, I figured I’d post them together.

**

Nectar Thoughts

Ezra glanced over at his partner and grinned at the dreamy smile on his face.  “What’s on your mind, Lachlan?” he asked.  He arched an eyebrow when Lachlan frowned at him.  “Were you, perhaps, thinking of Miss Esther?”

Lachland chuckled softly.  Nodding, he said, “It shouldn’t be odd that thinking of my wife gets me through the day, Ezra.”

“No, indeed,” Ezra said, shaking his head.  “You’re like a bee and she’s a flower.  Thoughts of her would be as nectar for you.”

“That’s actually beautiful, the way you said that,” Lachlan said, nodding.  “Quite the poet, aren’t you?”

“I’ve a poet’s soul, at least,” Ezra said, shrugging.  Then, he chuckled softly and moved to his feet.  “We’ve work to do, so you can return to your daydreaming another time.”

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Distractions

Those Pesky Flies – Distractions
We all have them, whether they are living, mandatory, optional or fun. How do you work around your distractions? Do you separate time out or do you let the distractions come as they may? Are you one of the lucky ones that can shut it all out and write for as long as you’d like?

There are many and various distractions that keep me from writing.  First and foremost is, of course, my paying job.  I can’t really spend the entire day writing.  I’m work for a living.  Outside of work, there are other things.  I love to knit and crochet.  I enjoy drawing and I’d like to keep a journal.

The thing I’ve found that has worked for me is this: look at what I want to get done and what I need to get done… then two can fit together.  Early on, I decided that my commute was the best time to do some crafting.  The drive to and from work, the time I spend waiting in the evening for the rest of the carpoolers to arrive… It gives me two hours every day to work on my craft projects – time that would normally be spent doing nothing.

I have come to realize that I can write about 500 words in fifteen minutes.  So, my work breaks are enough time for me to write 1000 words.  If I write during lunch, I can get in another 500 words.  I set my word goal at 1000 words and… wow, look: it’s already done and I haven’t even gotten home from work!

Of course, all of that goes out the window on weekends.  There are the other distractions.  Family and friends… you can’t do very much about them.  They don’t like being ignored.  I’ve got these people demanding chunks of my time.  I treat them like I would “work”.  I set my crafting and writing aside and focus my attention on them.  However, my family is great in that, I can look at them and say, “We’ve been here for four hours and I have to get some writing done.  I love you, good-bye.”  Fun events: craft fairs, festivals, etc.  I do the same thing.  I say, “I’m going to go and have fun.”  However, I bring my Dana with me and write when I get a chance.  I bring my yarn with me and craft when I get a chance.

The only distraction I have in my life that really tends to interfere in things is… my cats.  I love them, but those furbabies don’t listen to reason.  If they’ve decided they want my attention, they will stop at nothing to get it.  You know what I do: I give it to them.  If figure… I have this wonderful furry child in my home for twenty years, if we’re lucky.  I’m going to treasure every moment I have with them.  I’ve found that it usually works to my benefit to give them what they want anyway.  They steal twenty minutes and then… they lie down and go to sleep and I can write for hours.  To me, it’s worth twenty minutes of my time.

So, distractions are always going to be there.  We have to accept that.  By budgeting my time, I can deal with those distractions and still get my writing done.

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