Archive for December, 2008

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Scenes from a Hat Contest

December 19, 2008

Okay, friends. I think that I have a couple of regular readers now, and since I have about a whole month’s worth of Scenes from a Hat installments you, I thought that maybe it was time to do a contest and shake things up a bit. Some of these scenes have done very well regarding comments and page views, but sadly, the best was not even one I wrote. I don’t know what that says.

Anyhow, here’s the deal. Post a comment here to vote for your favorite Scene from a Hat that I authored, and I’ll take that scene and turn it into a story of at least 10k words. From the winning Scene, I’ll randomly choose one of the people who voted for that scene. You get to have a character in the story, and some say in what he or she does. On top of that, I’ll be giving away a $10 gift certificate to a store to be chosen later.

You will have until January 8 to place your vote here, and these are your available choices:

If you haven’t read them, please do, and place your vote as a comment here. The personalized story winner will be chosen at random from all the names who voted for that Scene from a Hat, and the gift certificate winner will be chosen at random from all entries.

Thank you, and have a Happy Holidays!

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Scenes from a Hat: Flagellation

December 19, 2008

Scenes from a Hat: Flagellation

by Anthony Owens
Editor: M. E. Ellis

A wide, tall candle, coated with hours of habitual use stood in isolation on a cold, stone altar. Brother Iska knelt in prayer before it, numb to his surroundings, and caught deep within a self-induced, altered state. His troubled mind, plagued with dilemma, raced over the complexity of simple things and the simplicity of things grander than understanding would ever reach.

Grant, we beseech Thee, O Lord, that in the hour of our death we may be refreshed by Thy holy Sacraments and delivered from all guilt, and so deserve to be received with joy into the arms of Thy mercy. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.”

Iska’s trembling hands, young, yet hard and worn, wrapped and clenched around a heavy, dark wool hood and pulled it up to cover a gaunt and pale face, revealing only a small scribble of blonde facial hair. Despite the hood’s concealing nature, tropic blue irises pushed away the darkness as beacons of life and light. Brother Iska stared at the candle, amazed at the beauty of the small flame, transfixed and engaged by the slow, predictable chaos of the expended wax. His gaze flowed past the flickering flame, and the mirror on the cold, stone wall behind the altar returned a guilty visage.

His coarse robe sleeves slid across his arm toward his shoulder with uncanny ease and he pinched the flame from the candle. Pain, small but real, relished and feared, flickered dim and brief on the pads of his fingers, and a knowing smile sunk into his lips.

“Brother, the darkness is here. Have you come for my penance? “

Though the cold stone of the temple was dark and lifeless, a salient energy pulsed with every beat of Iska’s heart, and his sight spread through the black air in brilliant flashes. Dust and stale air swirled in a cotton candy vortex replaced with the nibble of a warm, fresh burst. Someone opened the door, but in the nadir of the day, light held still and captive from even seeking eyes.

Thump. Thump.

Iska’s third eye blinked, unsure of what it saw.

Thump. Thump.

With each heartbeat, life energy raged against the stone confines of the prayer chamber and begged for escape, but the door closed, and they shared penitent solitude. Rough skin met the supple form of his cheek, and Iska turned his head in consent. Two strong hands grabbed his wrists with tender command, and Iska surrendered his body to the flat, firm muscle born from years of manual work and neglect for vanity. Despite the darkness, his open eyes scanned the room for a glimpse of the one in front of him. Iska failed to identify his temporary savior.

“Brother, will you absolve me of my sin?”

Needy hands explored him, and expectation surged through his skin; excitement and blind passion consumed him. Thin, demanding lips pressed hard against his own, and he savored the joy of painful stubble scratching against his face like he’d appreciated the glimpse of fire from the candle. His brother forced his hand to rest at waist height, palm up, and Iska’s jaw clenched, his right eyelid quavered and closed halfway, and his body shivered with anticipation.

Leather.

The straps, resembling skin, but immensely different, begged to be touched, and Iska rolled the end straps of the leather whip between his fingertips. Absolution lay in his hand.

A deep, husky, and hushed voice filled the small room as his absolver prayed, “Misereátur tui omnípotens Deus, et, dimíssis peccátis tuis, perdúcat te ad vitam ætérnam. May Almighty God have mercy on you, forgive you your sins, and bring you to life everlasting.”

Iska let his robes drop to the floor, and in the chill of the small, stone-walled room, he closed his eyes and replied, “Amen.”

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Scenes from a Hat: Rainbow

December 12, 2008

Scenes from a Hat: Rainbow

by Anthony Owens
Editor: M. E. Ellis

I stare now at the children playing in the water. It’s not so long ago that I can’t recall what it was like, but long enough that I cannot imagine the cool kiss of the water on my skin. Though my years add up like a Fibonacci sequence, I would not call myself old. Nor would I call myself young. I’m nestled right in the middle where maybe tomorrow I would be old, and I think I was young yesterday.

I remember portions of my life with stunning clarity and sentience, but other parts are ripped from me in their entirety. I know that something makes me feel like it’s not my fault they’re gone, but I have no proof that anyone took them from me.

Still, the children play.

I couldn’t tell you when or where I met her, but there’s a woman in my bed, just now. I think she’s still breathing. I honestly don’t care. She is—and it’s with great sadness that I say this—one of those bits that was torn from me by forces I cannot confirm nor dismiss. Parts of her are familiar, but I don’t know if it’s because I’ve supplanted memories by the telling of tales, or I’ve incorporated my recent knowing, or whether some portion of the veil has been lifted.

A child rests somewhere in the house. He may have crawled into the bed with her. He may be tightly wound in blankets of vibrant red, blue, and yellow. He certainly has a small stuffed toy with him. Who knows whether he entered slumber in the night with his dog, Sebastian, his cat, Two, or perhaps a plush version of his television favorite who lives in a pineapple under the sea.

One child outside holds the hose and sprays water on the others.

This stasis of thought is more cumbersome than I expected it to be. I am neither ashamed nor proud of what I’ve done in this house. I would pray for some result, if only I believed in prayer. I keep telling myself that the only way to move on is to actually move on. The window is cool. I imagine it is the water of the children outside, and the sun catches a chamfered corner of the pane so that a small, spectral beam punishes the floor with its multi-faceted truth.

The child with the hose has capped the end with his thumb, and, just like the pane of chiseled glass, the water spray creates a rainbow, but this one is free and unburdened by the floor.

I push against the glass with my hand, and the once molten sand gives way to my will. The bubble surrounding me grows with astounding force, and I can see the shimmering iridescence of its shell rippling through the air. I close my eyes and push hard as I walk through the wall and the prismatic field grows to envelop the children playing.

Silence.

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Family Release Day! Sanguine Moons

December 9, 2008
Wild Child Publishing, December 9, 2008

Wild Child Publishing, December 9, 2008

It’s a big flippin’ day!

Jambrea and I both have releases today. My short story, “Sanguine Moons” released with Wild Child Publishing TODAY! Jambrea’s short story in the anthology, “One Touch, One Glance” released with WCP sister company, Freya’s Bower. BUY IT

“Sanguine Moons” is $1.49, less than a beer, and you gotta pick it up. One review is already in, and this is what Bloody Mary had to say on Cocktail Reviews.

Mr. Owens is a skilled writer whose words held me enthralled.

Of course, there’s more to the review than that, and you can read it by clicking the link above. Since it’s a short story, and I don’t want to give too much away, here’s a small excerpt. Enjoy! AND GO BUY IT!! NOW!! Please? I’m begging. 🙂

“Morris, we gotta get the rest of these cattle ready or Mr. Orren is gonna fire us or worse.” Weston kicked at the dirt, buried his hands in his pockets, and stared at the ground, slowly turning his shoulders back and forth. “I can’t afford that, and neither can you.”

“But you ain’t got to get all bent up outta shape about it, Wes. I’m tellin’ you, boy, there’s plenty a time left in the night to get those filthy animals ready, an’ I’m right in the middle of my break.”

Morris brought his extended leg up into a bent knee, and a bit of dirt swirled around his fluid motion. He tipped his hat back, and the silver reflection of his narrow eyes glinted with the moonlight. Weston’s jaw clenched. His fingers curled up into vicious fists, and thick sweat formed on his brow, under his arms, and in the middle of his chest. His already moist shirt now stuck to him with perspiration and the relentless dust of the ranch.

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Scenes from a Hat: Restitution

December 5, 2008

Scenes from a Hat: Restitution

This week, I have a guest author. Please welcome Jambea Jo Jones to the Scenes from a Hat series. I hope you enjoy her twisted little scene. I know I did. Thanks for stopping by!

by Jambrea Jo Jones
Editor: M. E. Ellis

Paul’s world was fucked. No other word worked. He shouldn’t have listened to that dumb slut, Sherri. If it wasn’t for her he never would have signed up for the damn experiment. Now, here he sat in a military hospital waiting for the official diagnosis of fucked.

Three weeks ago…

“Sherri, you coming out?”

“Sorry, Paul, I have a…thing tonight.”

“What kind of thing?”

“Well, I signed up for this experiment, and it starts this evening”

“Sounds great! Do they pay?”

“Yes. They’re still looking for people. You should go with me.”

“What kind of experiment is it?”

“It is kind of hush-hush, but I have a friend that’s helping run it. It has to do with some new super agent they’re working on.”

“That sounds kind of dangerous.”

“They’ve said it’s FDA approved. I’m sure we’ll be fine. Are you coming?”

“Alright, you talked me into it. Let me just go get my bag. Is this an overnight thing?”

“It might be a whole weekend thing. You cool with that?”

“Sure, just give me a sec.”

Paul raced back to his room and threw any clothes within reach into his back pack. In three minutes, he exited his room into the hallway, ready to go.

“We’ll take my car,” Sherri said as she walked in front of him.

“Are you sure you don’t want to take the bus?”

“No, just in case we don’t make the study we can get to the bar.”

Paul chuckled. “Sounds like a plan to me.”

Within minutes, they arrived at the local military base, and the MP waved them right through. Sherri didn’t stop for directions.

Sherri sure knows her way around here.

Paul shook off the dread that ran down his spine, and the hair at his nape stood on end.

“Here we are. Let’s get signed in.”

Paul followed Sherri to the desk. She let him go first. Once he signed the papers, the MPs arrived to escort him to a room. He looked back. Sherri laughed with the soldier behind the desk, but she didn’t move to follow Paul down the corridor.

What’s going on?

Present Day…

“Damn bitch! She’ll get what she deserves,” Paul muttered. He got up and stalked to the mirror hanging on the wall. Putting his hand to his face, he grabbed his cheek and plucked. It still freaked him out when his skin pulled away like a rubber band. “Fucking bitch.”

The door to the room opened, and a doctor walked in.

“I have some good news for you, Paul. We have an antidote to cure your elastic deformation. It will change you back to your original form, but there could be side effects.”

“Just give it to me. Where’s Sherri?”

“If you want to see her, I can send her in.”

Paul struggled against the urge to smile and looked back at the doctor. “Yes, please.”

“I’ll send her in with your meds.”

It didn’t take long for Sherri to come into his room.

“You wanted to see me?”

“Yes, I have something for you.”

“What would that be?”

“I need you to come a little closer.

She slowly walked toward him. Paul tried to conceal his grin, but the closer she got, it seeped onto his face. She stepped within arm’s length, and he dragged her to him. She had a second to look shocked before he snapped her neck.

“Stupid slut, bitch. She got hers.”

Paul slid down the wall unable to contain his laughter, and the room filled with military personnel.

He continued to chant and bang his head against the wall. “Stupid slut, bitch. She got hers.”

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Scenes from a Hat: Insurgent

December 1, 2008

Scenes from a Hat: Insurgent

by Anthony Owens
Editor: M. E. Ellis

Silence roared in the night, so loud that Brenn found it difficult to concentrate on his own thoughts. He knew that daybreak held a wicked truth. Comfort came in the cold hours of an early November morning. He checked his pack. Yes, I still have enough ammunition to provide cover for myself to get over to that store.

Brenn reframed the situation and thoughts pounded against the inside of his skull with pulsating force. He braced himself in preparation for the fusillade that lurked just behind the next moment. He moved his hand from the barrel of his weapon, down to his hip, and searched for the small box attached to his belt. The button depressed under his worn and calloused finger.

“Alpha One, this is Foxtrot One. Do you copy?”

Static rippled in the tiny earpiece. “Affirmative, Foxtrot One, this is Alpha One. What’s your twenty?”

Brenn moved his head less than he dared and utilized his peripheral vision. “Alpha One, I’m at the intersection of State Blvd. and Crescent Ave. All of Foxtrot Team is dead. I’m seeking cover, but I’m surrounded. Please advise.”

No sound issued from the blasting weapons that flashed all around. Something—or someone, Brenn conceded—found a way to muffle or eliminate the propagation of sound waves through the air. Brenn heard his breathing, heard the friction of his clothing ruffling, and heard the minor sounds of things close to him, but anything beyond this point-blank range failed due to an unknown suppression.

His earpiece crackled again, and Brenn strained to hear the commander on the other side of the transmission. “Foxtrot One, you are advised to seek shelter in the chocolate store on the northeast side of the intersection. Omega Team is entering the zone.”

Brenn closed his eyes, took a single deep breath, and raised his weapon before darting across the street. He held down the trigger, and bright green bolts of energy blazed from the rifle’s muzzle. Similar beams tore through the air and blew bits of concrete as they impacted with buildings nearby. Brenn returned fire, ran in a crouch toward the front window of the chocolate shop, and barreled forward through the pane of glass. The sound of the breaking window audible, bits hitting the ground maintained the muffled sound all around him.

Fragments and shards rained down around him, but Brenn ignored them and ducked into a dive-roll through the shop’s lobby. He stole his way behind the counter and waited. Brenn held tight to his secure position. Moments later, a torrent of sound struck him with palpable force. Omega Team must be on the scene.

Soon, bodies flew through the air, landing in crunching thuds that prompted shudders and winces from Brenn. Three figures wearing dark uniforms marched down the street looking for others. Brenn pressed the talk button. “Alpha One, confirmed Omega Team on site. Insurgents all dead. Over and out.”

Brenn peered over the counter, stealing a furtive glance at the team walking toward his cover point. Two men, one woman, the Omega Team walked with confidence, and Brenn saw no sign of fear. Warriors surged from between the buildings, out of their doorways, and from behind vehicles and various cover. The woman opened her nostrils wide, puckered her lips, and sucked in a massive breath. In one orchestrated motion her companions did the same, turned around, and the three of them created a wedge. In unison, all three released the focused air from their lungs sending people, cars, mailboxes, and debris flying in all directions.

Yes, the Omega Team had arrived.