#IWSG – Rabbit Warren

I’m getting repetitive but it’s that time again – although this is written in advance as I’ll explain.

OK – Created  and hosted by the Ninja Captain himself, Alex J. Cavanaugh, theInsecure Writer’s Support Groupmonthly blog post is here again – and so am I, insecure, although a chunk less as I scheme ahead to NaNoWriMo.

Yes, NaNo is my reasonable excuse for writing this as All Hallows Eve creeps ‘candily’ closer.

My decisive plan to revise ‘Fevered Few’ as my 2019 NaNoWriMo project is still on track – even though One Drive has locked some files. Thank goodness I have multiple saves elsewhere. Shame I can’t read my scribbled notes. This renewed novel, now called ‘Fevered Fuel’ entails a restructured plotline, new scenes, rewrites – and some rabbit warren detours

Anyway, on to the IWSG monthly question.

November 6 question – What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever googled in researching a story?

I’m a research addict who attempts to get my facts right – sometimes mid writing sprint. But even while researching a topic at the correct moment, I end up getting distracted. I dive down rabbit holes at the slightest appearance of a tail.

However, these detours are fascinating not strange.

Is ‘strange’ researching corpse decay and poisons? Not for a crime writer. Nor I expect are medical conditions like amnesia – for my WIP – or wondering what it’s like living as an identical twin – another Sparkle Anwyl case.

I’ve even delved into how far crows – corvids – travel, but Sparkle is adopted by a jackdaw. All normal then.

But I’ll highlight three stranger examples.

In a previous project, I wanted the antagonist to feel predestined for greatness. And I found a rabbit hole called caul bearers. Interesting strange but not macabre strange. If you want to know more: “This is the place for caul bearers to dispel caul bearer myths, to learn, connect, and heal…a place for caul bearers to call “home.” https://caulbearersunited.webs.com/

Back to Detective Sparkle Anwyl and more normal research – if you are into alcohol. She likes a good black drink, stronger than her daily coffee, like Guinness, or her local brew, Darkside of the Moose – https://purplemoose.co.uk/products/case-of-12-darkside. However, I needed something more unusual so went digging and found this: “An Irish Car BombIrish Slammer, or Irish Bomb Shot is a cocktail, similar to a boilermaker, made by dropping a bomb shot of Irish cream and whiskey into a glass of stout.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irish_Car_Bomb

Enough fiction. My health has taken me down some strange paths, some weird but others invaluable. Hence, I’ll leave you with this old article, although I’d travelled the rabbit run a few years earlier:

“After a review of scientific studies, researchers say extracts from marijuana plants can help treat pain and spasticity symptoms in people with multiple sclerosis.” https://www.healthline.com/health-news/researchers-say-cannabis-can-benefit-people-with-multiple-sclerosis#1 

Shame it’s illegal in Idaho.

*

The awesome co-hosts for the November 6 posting of the IWSG are Sadira Stone, Patricia Josephine, Lisa Buie-Collard, Erika Beebe, and C. Lee McKenzie!

 (You must agree these guys all have commitments too – but they are the best. Ticker-tape applause for all of them – plus toasts too.)

Purpose of IWSG: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Every month, we announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say.

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting!

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG.

Every month, we announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say. 

#WEP/IWSG August Challenge – Horrible Harvest

Today’s offering for the WEP+IWSG Challenge is the climax of the piece I wrote for August’s Red Wheelbarrow prompt – HERE. However, I’ve changed the POV, and as some people requested, we are back with Detective Sparkle Anwyl, who is a guest at the wedding. Enjoy – if I do not scare you with the gory finale of my vampire tale.

Another Horrible Harvest

Saturday 8th August 2015

The glass goblet of crimson wine looks tasty. Maybe not summery but tempting.

Yet Mina is hesitant. Scared. Unlike the Mina Westenra of the Goth Patrol, ready to tackle a bully or a ghoul.

A for Atypical.

Kama bites my ear, then notices my stud-tapping. “What did the elderly guy say to her. Or is it hard to lip read from here?”

“A welcome. Something about his addiction to blood. He freaked Mina out. Not the Goth reaction I remember. Acting has changed my friend.”

Has policing changed me? Enriched if meeting Kama is included.

“If that’s human blood, this could be a crime scene.”

“Or a vampire case. That ghost was a cold case, not outside our remit as detectives. Anyway, we’re off duty. Let’s watch and listen, cariad.”

My school friend’s behaviour jangles every nerve and tattoo. Why?

The old man? A for Ancestry. V for Victim. P for Plasma.

He can’t be Owain Glyndwr, even if I’m proud to be Welsh and await the return of our national hero.

Another actor?

The best man finishes reading email greetings to the married couple, then nods to the elderly man.

“I’m cutting my speech short in favour of the wisdom of our host and hero.”

Owain springs to his feet, belying his reputed years.

“Over the centuries, I’ve watched and waited. History says I’ll return to set Wales free from the conquerors’ yoke. But blood is the charm today, and we’re all here to celebrate this blessed union instead. I could regale you with tales of battles and feuds, with horrors wrought and deeds undertaken. But my life was nothing compared to the future ahead for Mina and Dafydd.”

With a wink towards Mina, he raises his glass of crimson wine. “Welcome to the Glyndwr Dynasty. This is your century. May you and my Great Nephew have many decades of fun ahead.” Facing the gathering, he continues, “Ladies, lords, friends, join me for a bridal toast. May you thrive and spawn many generations, Mina and Dafydd.”

He drains his glass.

No excuse needed to drink – in moderation. Even if us guests are served champagne – and there might be a crime lurking.

Mina smiles but doesn’t touch her glass.

“Your actress friend is scared to drink hers. A poisoned chalice, perhaps.”

My tattoos tingle at the scene. P for Poison. M for Murder. R for Revenge.

“I never knew her to refuse alcohol as a teenager.”

Mina reaches for a glass – of fruit juice.

Her stand-in father, Victor Frankel leans over to Dafydd, who mouths back, ‘Your moment.’

Victor rises.

“In the sad absence of Mina’s late father, I’ve been proud to give her away to another special person and talented actor. As their director, I see a fruitful partnership ahead – even under another’s direction.”

We all laugh or clap. He pauses, then removes a sheaf of paper from his jacket.

“I’d like to thank our host, the irrepressible Owain Glyndwr, for making today possible. As a descendent of the last true Prince of Wales, it’s fitting this ancestral home is where I’m announcing the next film from Oriole Productions – Horrible Harvest.”

Suitable cheers and foot stamps. My tattoos tingle – a pleasing sensation for once. E for Excitement and Error.

“Our new tale of bloody murders, duplicitous intrigue and evil disguised as good will star our talented couple – and chill our audience. Perhaps, our usual smoke and mirrors will garner its own harvest of honours. This will be our version of that classic, Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. But transposed to the mist shrouded but beautiful mountains of North Wales.”

The evidence is in the speeches. Case resolved. Everyone plunges back into festivities.

Congratulations are due the glowing couple.

Mina and I embrace. I tease her.

“Not the Goth you threatened to run away with. But he’s a catch.”

“Even as a teen, I wanted attention. Just as you wanted to fight injustice. And I guess your partner is—”

“Another injustice warrior. Kama – the best woman and detective in my life.”

The untouched glass is behind her. Tempting me to smell and taste its contents.

Kama distracts Mina. “So, when we get married, you must both attend the celebrations. No date yet, but we’re making plans. Not straightforward…”

Letting my distraction distract, I step behind and take the cup.

Musty but not sulphurous. I dip my finger in, then lick it.

R for Robust and E for Energising.

Time to REVAMP our fears.

I hand Mina the goblet. “An unusual concoction that suggests blood. But it’s not a case for our forensic guys. Maybe special effects are responsible. Enjoy it without fear.”

She sips, then smiles, and laughs.

“Better than blood. Also, revitalising. I will get addicted.”

“The power of suggestion. Blend fruit juice, red wine, herbs and spices. Call it blood. And throw in vampires.”

***

There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.

Arthur Conan Doyle

Word Count 830: FCA

Comments are welcome as usual and the following applies:

#IWSG – To Read or Not To Read

Created  and hosted by the Ninja Captain himself, Alex J. Cavanaugh, theInsecure Writer’s Support Groupmonthly blog post is here again – and so am I, insecure, although a chunk less as I scheme ahead to NaNoWriMo.

Last month, I was meant to be submitting my Pitch Wars 2019 submission. The required query letter, one-page synopsis, and the first chapter of my completed manuscript seemed achievable by the September 25th-27th deadline. But I was unsure if I had a “completed and polished full-length, fiction manuscript”. I decided it was incomplete and ‘dusted’ more than ‘polished’.

So, what started as an insecure month, evolved into a decisive plan to revise ‘Fevered Few’. The short stories at its heart are becoming episodes and memories driving the main story. And I’m working on a new way to open this renewed novel, now called ‘Fevered Fuel’ and slated for its rewrite as my 2019 NaNoWriMo project.

Anyway, on to the IWSG monthly question.

October 2 question – It’s been said that the benefits of becoming a writer who does not read is that all your ideas are new and original. Everything you do is an extension of yourself, instead of a mixture of you and another author. On the other hand, how can you expect other people to want your writing, if you don’t enjoy reading? What are your thoughts?

Are any ideas new and original?

All writers borrow from others in some measure. Even Shakespeare borrowed – retold tales. Like others, he built on the past weavings of different storytellers – ancient Greek playwrights, medieval histories, and folklore. Can’t we do the same?

For me, reading is like settings and people – enjoyable fuel for the little grey cells.

All this feeds and inspires my writing about Detective Sparkle Anwyl of the North Wales Police/Heddlu Gogledd Cymru – and other scribblings and scratchings.

I’d like to believe Sparkle is unique, but I know she has loaned traits and actions from others. Perhaps, she will inspire someone herself.

*

The awesome co-hosts for the October 2 posting of the IWSG are Ronel Janse van Vuuren, Mary Aalgaard, Madeline Mora-Summonte, and Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor!

(I have to admit how much I admire these guys as I know they have commitments too – like Ronel’s recent release. Ticker-tape applause for all of them – plus toasts too.)

Purpose of IWSG: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Every month, we announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say.

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting!

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG.

Every month, we announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say. 

The Quest for Home – Virtual Book Launch

Yesterday I re-blogged Jacqui Murray’s post about Prehistoric Fiction. Today it’s her new release taking centre stage.

Driven from her home. Stalked by enemies. Now her closest ally may be a traitor.

Chased by a ruthless and powerful enemy, Xhosa flees with her People, leaving behind her African homeland, leading her People on a grueling journey through unknown and perilous lands. As they struggle to overcome treachery, lies, danger, tragedy, hidden secrets, and Nature herself, Xhosa must face the reality that her most dangerous enemy isn’t the one she expected. It may be one she trusts with her life. 

The story is set 850,000 years ago, a time in prehistory when man populated Eurasia. He was a violent species, fully capable of addressing the many hardships that threatened his survival except for one: future man, the one destined to obliterate any who came before.

Based on a true story, this is the unforgettable saga of hardship and determination, conflict and passion as early man makes his way across Eurasia, fleeing those who would kill him. He must be bigger-than-life, prepared time and again to do the impossible because nothing less than the future of mankind is at stake.

Book information:

Title and author: The Quest for Home by Jacqui Murray

Series: Book 2 in the Crossroads series, part of the Man vs. Nature saga

Genre: Prehistoric fiction

Available at: Kindle US   Kindle UK   Kindle CA   Kindle AU

Jacqui answers some Questions

1.       How did early man tell time?

Early man didn’t care about hours or minutes. What drove him was how much sunlight remained before he must return to wherever he would be sleeping that night (maybe a cave, a cliff wall, or behind a thistle barrier). As a result, they indicated time in the future by pointing to a place in the sky where the sun would eventually reach. He might say, “Return by this point” to mean, “Return when Sun reaches this point in the sky.”

2.      What does a ‘hand of Sun’s travel’ mean?

A ‘hand’ quantifies the amount of time it takes Sun to travel the distance of a hand held up to the sky. A finger would be about fifteen minutes and an hour about four fingers, or a hand. This is one of the ways the earliest People measured the passage of time. Test it yourself. Hold a finger up next to the Sun. It will take about fifteen minutes for the Sun to reach the far side of your finger.

3.      Why are these characters so violent?

The answer to this question is simple: They had to be. If Homo erectus hadn’t been violent 850,000 years ago, he—and we as a species—wouldn’t have survived. Man wasn’t yet the apex predator. Our skin was too thin, claws too short, and teeth useless for defense. What we did have that those who preyed on us didn’t was a thoughtful brain (well, the beginnings of one).

Jacqui will be visiting blogs September 16th-30th to chat about The Quest for Home. Some of the questions she’ll cover:

  1. How do you know these people are as smart as they seem?
  2. Their speech is too sophisticated.
  3. Convince me they can communicate as well as it sounds like they do with just gestures, hands, and facial movements.
  4. Could primitive man build rafts as suggested in this story?
  5. Was there really a giant upright primate like Giganto (Zvi’s friend)?
  6. What does ‘strong’ and ‘weak’ side mean?
  7. How did early man tell time?
  8. What does a ‘hand of Sun’s travel’ mean?
  9. Why are these characters so violent?
  10. I am not reading these books in order. Does it matter?
  11. Could Xhosa (the main character of The Quest for Home) really have traveled with a wolf companion?
  12. The Quest for Home hints at a spiritual side to man. Is that accurate?
  13. This is part of a series. What’s that about?
  14. How does the trilogy Dawn of Humanity tie into the trilogy Crossroads?
  15. What’s the relationship between Xhosa (and Homo erectus) and animals?
  16. What one characteristic would you say allowed Xhosa to survive in a world populated with Sabretooth cats, violent volcanoes, and predatory species who liked to eat man?

The schedule from September 16th-30th of who Jacqui will visit and the question number (from the list above) she’ll answer are here:

https://worddreams.wordpress.com/2019/09/16/qfh-book-launch/

Author bio:

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and the Man vs. Nature saga. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for  NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, In the Footsteps of Giants, Winter 2020, the final chapter in the Crossroads Trilogy.

Social Media contacts:

Amazon Author Page:        https://www.amazon.com/Jacqui-Murray/e/B002E78CQQ/

Blog:                                       https://worddreams.wordpress.com

Instagram:                             https://www.instagram.com/jacquimurraywriter/

LinkedIn:                                http://linkedin.com/in/jacquimurray

Pinterest:                                http://pinterest.com/askatechteacher

Twitter:                                   http://twitter.com/worddreams

Website:                                 https://jacquimurray.net

Excerpt:

Chapter 1

Northern shore of what we now call the Mediterranean Sea

Pain came first, pulsing through her body like cactus spines. When she moved her head, it exploded. Flat on her back and lying as still as possible, Xhosa blindly clawed for her neck sack with the healing plants. Her shoulder screamed and she froze, gasping.

How can anything hurt that much?

She cracked one eye, slowly. The bright sun filled the sky, almost straight over her head.

And how did I sleep so long?

Fractured memories hit her—the raging storm, death, and helplessness, unconnected pieces that made no sense. Overshadowing it was a visceral sense of tragedy that made her shake so violently she hugged her chest despite the searing pain. After it passed, she pushed up on her arms and shook her head to shed the twigs and grit that clung to her long hair. Fire burned through her shoulders, up her neck and down her arms, but less than before. She ignored it.

A shadow blocked Sun’s glare replaced by dark worried eyes that relaxed when hers caught his.

“Nightshade.” Relief washed over her and she tried to smile. Somehow, with him here, everything would work out.

Her Lead Warrior leaned forward. Dripping water pooled at her side, smelling of salt, rotten vegetation, mud, and blood.

“You are alright, Leader Xhosa,” he motioned, hands erratic. Her People communicated with a rich collection of grunts, sounds, gestures, facial expressions, and arm movements, all augmented with whistles, hoots, howls, and chirps.

“Yes,” but her answer came out low and scratchy, the beat inside her chest noisy as it tried to burst through her skin. Tears filled her eyes, not from pain but happiness that Nightshade was here, exactly where she needed him. His face, the one that brought fear to those who might attack the People and devastation to those who did, projected fear.

She cocked her head and motioned, “You?”

Deep bruises marred swaths of Nightshade’s handsome physique, as though he had been pummeled by rocks.  An angry gash pulsed at the top of his leg. His strong upper arm wept from a fresh wound, its raw redness extending up his stout neck, over his stubbled cheek, and into his thick hair. Cuts and tears shredded his hands.

“I am fine,” and he fell silent. Why would he say more? He protected the People, not whined about injuries.

When she fumbled again for her neck sack, he reached in and handed her the plant she needed, a root tipped with white bulbs. She chewed as Nightshade scanned the surroundings, never pausing anywhere long, always coming back to her.

The sun shone brightly in a cloudless sky. Sweltering heat hammered down, sucking up the last of the rain that had collected in puddles on the shore. Xhosa’s protective animal skin was torn into shreds but what bothered her was she couldn’t remember how she got here.

“Nightshade, what happened?”

Her memories were a blur—terrified screams and flashes of people flying through the air, some drowning, others clinging desperately to bits of wood.

Nightshade motioned, slowly, “The storm—it hit us with a fury, the rain as heavy and fierce as a waterfall.”

A memory surfaced. Hawk, the powerful leader of the Hawk People, one arm clutching someone as the other clawed at the wet sand, dragging himself up the beach.

He was alive!

It was Hawk who offered her People a home when they had none, after more than a Moon of fleeing for their lives through lands so desolate, she didn’t know how anyone survived. Finding Hawk and his People, she thought she’d found a new homeland.

Her last hunt with Hawk flashed through her mind—the stone tip they created like the Big Head’s weapon, how she had hung by her ankles from a tree trunk to cross a deep ravine. How he grinned when she reached the other side, chest heaving but radiant with satisfaction. He told her many of his warriors shook with fear as they crossed. His pride in her that day glowed like flames at night.

For the first time in her life, she felt Sun’s warmth inside of her.

She looked around, saw quiet groups huddled together, males talking and females grooming children. Pan-do bent over a child, whispering something in her ear but no Hawk.

Where is he? But she didn’t ask Nightshade. The last time she’d seen the two together, they had fought.

She couldn’t imagine a world without Hawk. They had planned to pairmate, combine their groups into one so strong no one could ever again drive her away. She hadn’t known there were enemies worse than Big Heads until Hawk told her about the Ice Mountain invaders. They attacked Hawk’s People long before Xhosa arrived. Hawk had killed most and chased the rest back to their home, icy white cliffs that extended from Sun’s waking place to its sleeping nest, bereft of plants and animals. When he saw where they lived, he understood why they wanted his land.

The children of those dead invaders grew up and wanted revenge.

Someone moaned. She jerked to find who needed help and realized it was her. She hoped Nightshade didn’t hear.

He glanced at her and then away. “All the rafts were destroyed.”

She shook, trying to dislodge the spider webs in her brain. Hawk’s homebase was squashed between a vast stretch of open land and an uncrossable pond. They should have been safe but the Ice Mountain invaders attacked in a massive horde. Her People—and Hawk’s—were driven into the water. The rafts became their only escape. Floating on a log platform to the middle of a pond too deep to walk across was something no one had ever done but they must or die. The plan was the rafts would carry the People to safety, away from the Invaders.

That hadn’t worked.

“There were too many enemy warriors, Xhosa,” and Nightshade opened and closed his hands over and over to show her. “More than I have ever seen in one place.”

Images of warclubs slashed through her thoughts, flying spears, the howls of warriors in battle. Many died, beaten until they stopped moving, children dragged screaming from mothers. The giant female—Zvi—sprinting faster than Xhosa thought someone her size could, the children El-ga and Gadi in her arms, a spear bouncing off her back. Her size stunned the enemy, immobilized them for a breath which gave Zvi the time she needed to reach safety.

Almost to himself, Nightshade motioned, “I’ve never seen him this brave.”

Xhosa didn’t understand. “Him?” Did he mean Zvi?

“Pan-do. His warriors attacked. They saved us.” Nightshade locked onto the figure of Pan-do as he wandered among the bedraggled groups, settling by an elder with a gash across his chest and began to minister to the wound. 

“I remember,” Xhosa murmured. When the People were trapped between the trees and the water, prey waiting to be picked off, Pan-do’s warriors pounced. That gave Xhosa precious time to push the rafts out onto the water. It seemed none of the enemy knew how to swim. Pan-do sliced through the Ice Mountain invaders without fear, never giving ground.

Nightshade motioned, “He isn’t the same Leader who arrived at our homebase, desperate for protection, his People defeated.”

Xhosa’s hands suddenly felt clammy. “Is Lyta alive?”

Since the death of his pairmate, before Xhosa met him, Pan-do’s world revolved around his daughter, Lyta. He became Leader of his People to protect her. When he arrived at the People’s homebase, Lyta stood out, unusual in an otherwise homogenous group. First, it was her haunting beauty, as though she shined from within, her hair as radiant as Sun. Awe turned to shock when she walked, her gait awkward on malformed feet. She should have been destroyed as a child but Pan-do said he had never considered it. He explained that in Moons of migration, before joining Xhosa’s People, Lyta had never slowed them down. He didn’t expect that to change if the two groups traveled together.

And then she spoke. Her voice was like bird’s song and a gift to People exhausted from the day’s work. It cheered up worried adults and put smiles on the faces of children, its melodic beauty convincing them that everything would work out.

It was more than a Moon after his arrival before Pan-do told Xhosa what he valued most about his daughter. Lyta could see truth simply by watching. No one could hide a lie from her, and she never hid it from her father. Pan-do kept it secret because the people it threatened might try to silence her. He only told Xhosa because Lyta had witnessed a conversation about a plan to kill Xhosa.

One of the people Lyta didn’t recognize but the other, he was someone Xhosa trusted.

When Nightshade nodded, Yes, Lyta lives, Xhosa relaxed but only for a moment.

“Sa-mo-ke?”

Nightshade nodded toward a group of warriors. In the middle, eyes alert and hands energetic, stood Sa-mo-ke.

She sighed with relief. Pan-do’s Lead Warrior was also Nightshade’s greatest supporter outside of the People. When he first arrived, Sa-mo-ke spent Moons mimicking her Lead Warrior’s fighting techniques until his skill became almost as formidable as Nightshade’s with one critical difference. While Nightshade liked killing, Sa-mo-ke did so only when necessary.

Nightshade motioned, “Escape came at a tremendous cost, Xhosa. Many died, the rafts were destroyed, and we are now stranded in an unfamiliar land filled with nameless threats.”

It doesn’t matter, she whispered to herself. We are good at migrating.

She jerked her head around, and then motioned, “Where’s Spirit?”

The loyal wolf had lived with people his entire life. He proved himself often while hunting, defending his packmates, and being a good friend. An image flitted across her mind, Spirit streaking toward the rafts, thrusting his formidable body like a spear through the shocked hordes. The enemy had never seen an animal treat People as pack. Then, the wolf swimming, paws churning the water into whitecaps, gaze locked onto Seeker. Endless Pond was too deep for him to touch the bottom so his head bobbed up and down, feet paddling like a duck’s as he fought to stay above the surface.

Nightshade gestured, “The attackers almost killed Spirit.”

She bit her lip, concentrating. “I remember Mammoth’s trumpets.”

The rare hint of a smile creased his mouth. “Another of Pan-do’s tricks. It saved Spirit and probably all of us. He brayed like a herd of Mammoth thundering toward the shoreline. The invaders fled for their lives.”

Pan-do is clever.

Nightshade grimaced. “But the storm worsened and the rafts foundered. Many of the People managed to cling to logs long enough to crash onto this shore. Then, they saved others. But many died.”

He opened and closed his hands to show how many.

A stillness descended as Nightshade’s gaze filled with a raw emotion he never showed. It shook Xhosa. Nothing frightened her Lead Warrior.

She gulped which hurt her insides. Shallow breaths worked better. Rolling to her hands and knees, she stood which made her head swim and she threw up.

Finally, the dizziness subsided and Xhosa asked, “Hawk?”

Nightshade peered around, hands fidgeting. He examined something on the ground, toed it with his foot. “When the tempest destroyed the rafts, he dragged many to shore, to safety. The last time, he did not return. I tried to find him.”

Soundless tears dampened her face. Nightshade touched her but Xhosa focused on a trail of ants and a worm burrowing into the soft earth. Her vision dimmed and she stumbled, fell, and then crawled, happy for the pain that took her mind off Hawk. When she forced herself up, everything blurred but she inhaled, slowly, and again, until she could finally see clearly.

How dare Hawk die! We had plans. Xhosa shoved those thoughts away. Later was soon enough to deal with them.

“His People—do they know?”

Love Prehistoric Fiction? Here are two not to miss

In advance of my post tomorrow for the Virtual Book Launch for Jacqui Murray’s The Quest for Home, here is her recent post on Prehistoric Fiction.

WordDreams...

In honor of my just-released prehistoric fiction, The Quest for Home, I want to share with you two great novels in that genre I have recently enjoyed:

The Storyteller’s Trilogy

by Sue Harrison

5/5

Sue Harrison’s The Storyteller Trilogy (Open Road Media 2013) is the three-book tale of Alaska 8,000 years ago in the area of present-day Iliamna Lake. Life was cold, difficult, and always a struggle but the people were earnest, hard-working, and with many of the same desires as you and I. Two tribes who had historically been friendly find themselves on the verge of war. Chakliux, a man born with webbed feet, is abandoned by his birth mother, adopted into another tribe who comes to believe he has special abilities to bring good luck and prosperity to his tribe. But when Chakliux travels in search of a wife, several people in the village are unexpectedly killed, a…

View original post 957 more words

Staying Short September

Time for two more shorts written as part of StoryADay September. 

The first, Amnesia, was prompted by ‘Set A Timer for 40 minutes’ but mis-/re-interpreted. The second, The Exit, was a mash-up of three prompts: a change of POV, use two characters, and 100 words – it’s 99 words with the title.

Amnesia

By Roland Clarke

Retirement can come early. Just as amnesia and C4 never mix.

Not when lives depend on split second reactions.

Harry loved his job and his colleagues – well, so the survivors said. The ones whose lives his keen senses had saved.

But there had been failures. Not every IED could be disarmed safely or in time – the intent of Improvised Explosive Devices.

Demolishing abandoned factories proved safer. Hence, his expertise for the years after his discharge. Until the fall.

Then, the early retirement when he forgot to set the timer.

Licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 license. Humphrey Bolton / Tunnel exit, Soyland / CC BY-SA 2.0

The Exit

by Roland Clarke

The rain slices into the ground. You turn to the pompous fool.

“I said it could be arranged, Mr Johnson. Any last words?”

The blonde man grins, then jokes.

“More like a gutter.  Could we talk this through?”

“A filibuster,” you say, checking the shotgun’s safety. “No deal, I’m afraid, old boy. Not cricket, nor even ping-pong.”

You remember the foolish speech. He won’t. You never forget.

“But the people—”

“Didn’t vote for this. But you mentioned being dead in a ditch. Wish granted.”

You point the shotgun at his head and fire.