Posts Tagged ‘short story’

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Scenes from a Hat: Echo

January 30, 2009

Scenes from a Hat: Echo

by Nix Winter
Editor: M. E. Ellis

Pale blue fading into gray, the horizon lay smooth against a backdrop of jagged, dark pine forest. Toshiro Masuda stood in the doorway of the small jet, an elegant hand reaching up to pull dark glasses down. All the blue of the sky had taken refuge in his eyes. This far north, the scent of pine and fireplace smoke in the air left him feeling out of his element, disconcerted. A wolf howled somewhere in the jagged dark of the forest, but close enough that the sound echoed longingly down his nerves.

Home.

He pushed his glasses back up. Calm as shadow, he waited. The perfect fit of his suit, a dark gray with a slight tint of blue, wrapped a powerful body, as lithe and wild as wind ruffling the pines. Raven hair gathered at the nape of his neck, held in a clasp of platinum. Only the pale golden tint to his skin, perhaps the smoothness of his face, the shape of his eyes—if one could catch him without his glasses—gave hint to his Japanese ancestry.

Again the wolf’s voice echoed over the private airstrip, crying a song deeply rooted in Toshiro’s heart.

The world granted precious few options for repair of anything, let alone something as precious as the life of a loved one. Tosh counted few enough of those in his life. He would not lose, no matter the price.

Long and black, the armored limousine arrived. Even though Toshiro was well past the point of return, its arrival brought the echo back again, driving home how very fragile his position was. He started down the stairs, exiting the jet, his body a projection of casual confidence. Of all the roles he’d played in his life—geisha, slave, king, gangster, anthropologist—this was perhaps the most difficult lie he’d ever embodied.

A man, broad and easily the root of troll myths, exited the front of the limousine from the passenger side. His thick coat, lined and edged in black and white fur spoke Russian about as well as his body language spoke dangerous. Toshiro looked at him disdainfully, carefully blanked his face, blue eyes hidden.

“Masuda Toshiro Sensei,” the man asked in painful Japanese.

“Yes,” Toshiro said, pulling his passport, which he handed over to the man. “Of course. I understand that the surrender of my passport was a condition of my employment. I expect,” he said, his words misting menace, “the other terms of my employment have been met.”

Troll Man bowed, approximating something vaguely Japanese as he pocked the passport. “There has been some slight difficulty, but Boss has provided a substitute. I think you’ll find him adequate.”

“You will hope so,” Toshiro said, smiling with tight lips.

The man’s huge hand opened the door for Toshiro, while his other hand held out a photograph.

Toshiro took it and studied it with a detachment that he did not feel. “He has not been harmed? He is untrained?”

“Yes, Sensei. The subject was acquired from the United States less than a week ago. He is a fighter, but the boss thought he might meet your needs.”

“We shall see,” Toshiro said and slid into the car, expecting the other man to close the door. The predatory aura to him hid his plans well. If he could gain his wolf and leave before his scene was over, the only real challenges were reconstructing the two passports, getting to a flight that would take them anywhere other than Russia. As the door closed, he again heard the wolf cry. Lies were his element, but he would find his truth, and no matter what challenges, together they could repair the world.

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Scenes from a Hat: Substitute

January 27, 2009

Scenes from a Hat: Substitute

by M. E. Ellis

A pillow for a breast, a cigarette for a cigar, a candle for a lamp. Substitutes.

Out, out into the night now, coat collar up, fists in pockets, cap low on my brow. My gaze darts, ears listen, nose keen to catch her scent, her beautiful, well-mourned scent. I will have her once again.

She stands on the street, hands upon hips, head cocked, lips a sultry pout. Similar, so similar that the sight of her invites a lump to my throat. Could it be…? My approach doesn’t startle her. Far from it. She has been waiting for me…hasn’t she?

“Hey, sugar,” she says, candy-pink lips a wide smile. “Wanna fuck?”

No. No, I don’t, but I return her smile, nod, nod like the sucker she thinks I am.

“Come on, then.” She jerks her head towards an alleyway between the buildings behind her, lit only by the streetlamp in its mouth. The lane stretches into infinite darkness, where my imagination places many girls like her, their backs against the wall, legs spread, or on their knees, maws wrapped around cocks that don’t belong between professional lips.

She turns, sashays into the alley, shadow’s jaws closing around her. I follow, my footsteps precise on the rain-slicked cobblestones, my heartbeat accelerating. Ten, eleven, twelve footsteps later, and she stops, a grey figure, no discernable features.

“Here will do.” Her loud whisper floats, rebounds off the mouldy walls. “Fifty for full, twenty for a hand job. I don’t use my mouth.”

My broad frame fills the width of the alley. “You should do. Doing so would shut you the fuck up.”

Her sharp intake of air stutters in her throat, the release of it a breathy laugh. “What?”

“You didn’t hear me the first time?”

Eyes, they almost glow in the dark when as wide as hers, you know.

“Yeah.” She snorts, laughs again, and a clicking sound breaks through the cocooned air.

“Are you chewing gum?” She. Is. Annoying. Me.

Substitute. Substitute. Substitute, substitute, substitute

My fist connects with the end of her nose. She squeals, sinks down onto her ass, the proverbial sack of shit, legs bent at the knees, hands steepled over her face.

“You’re not her, are you?” My nostrils flare. An ache so vast threatens to overwhelm my airy mind, threatens to thicken the descending red mist. “You…tricked me. You…almost had me…believing—”

My boot heel greets her temple, and she releases a muffled, blood-garbled shriek. Her torso thuds sideways to the damp stones, her body the pose of a cadaver left to rot.

Which she will be after I’m done, for her breaths grow short, and her appendages spasm, inciting twitches to her fingertips, her feet.

Sarah? Sarah, where are you? Come back. I need you. I can’t…can’t accept any more…fucking…substitutes.

She won’t listen. She never listens.

But I’ll keep looking, and I’ll find her. Oh yes, I’ll find her.

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Scenes from a Hat: Germination

January 16, 2009

Today, I’m lucky enough to have another guest author. Out of the hat, my friend Jaime Samms picked the word “germination.” I’m pleased with the resulting story, and I’m honored to share it with you! Thanks again, Jaime! Delightful scene!

Scenes from a Hat: Germination

by Jaime Samms
Editor: M. E. Ellis

The natural glamour of sunlight on snow stretched off into the distance. Each flake sported every colour at once, then no colour at all as dancing shades of trees played across the brilliant surface. One slight tilt of the head, and a tiny, glimmering beacon sank into the blue depth of shadow.

Lyre touched one long finger to the crystalline beauty. An instant of chill seized him before a coin-sized hole opened in the bank of white flakes. He looked up and watched the sparkling expanse surrounding him while an eternal breath passed through him.

“It is time.”

He rose, waded into the drift, lay down. Under him, snow sizzled into nothing until he lay with the frozen earth under him. The shock of cold sank its teeth into him, gripped him with lethargy. Above, only an ovoid of pure, endless blue.

His thoughts fell up.

Light Dazzled. Faceted crystal wings tinkled in the still morning, wakened the world to sound and frigid vibrancy of winter sun. Deep sapphire eyes glimmered down on him from a delicate, opal-skinned face. Diamond fingers reached to his cheek. The cold, rigid touch nicked his skin. Blood welled, dripped down his cheek to the earth.

“Good-bye, Lyre.” A spill of impersonal laughter, the clicking of wings, and the sky above reappeared.

Air sighed, picked up strands of his hair, and wove it into a tangled web above him. The web caught, a sail that lifted.

“Come, Lyre. Not yet.”

It whispered in his ear, caressed his face, tickled up under his clothing—tempted. He shook his head. The hair shivered free of the wind’s clutches and settled back around him. A whistle of frustration whipped over the snow’s surface screening his view in swirling white, pricking tears to his eyes. It didn’t want to let him go.

The tears escaped and followed the blood into the earth.

“Flee while you can!” Air moaned over the earth, groaned through the trees, cajoling. “Run, Lyre!”

He didn’t move.

Roots broke through the loam, wrapping around his wrists and ankles. He shivered.

“Too late.” The wind died away. “Good-bye, Lyre.” It whispered into silence.

The trees stilled their branches, concentrated on prying tendrils through the soil to twine in his hair, pluck at his garments. His skin tingled where tiny roots slithered over his ribs, along his spine, explored the length of his arms and legs as the last remnants of his attire disintegrated.

“Ours now.”

They claimed him with their minute, intimate slide over bare skin. The earth under him finally warmed, and he closed his eyes.

The soil shifted around him, rising to cover hands, feet, hair.

He smiled.

Every precise touch, every whispering sound, every shimmering vision played through him, drifted into the world, taking bits of him with them until he was every root, every sigh of breeze, the sunlight dancing off the snow.

Where his body had been, tiny green shoots and pure petals of white opened their faces to the sun, welcomed his gaze, waited for him to come again.

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Rites of Romance Reviews: Sanguine Moons

January 11, 2009

Sanguine Moons has received its second review, and I have to say that 4.5/5 is a high honor. Rites of Romance Reviews got a hold of Weston and Morris this time, and Katherine Petersen had this to say:

While it stands well on its own as a short story, this piece would work well as a chapter—whether the first or not—of a novel. I look forward to reading more of Owens’s work.

http://rorreviews.wordpress.com/2009/01/10/sanguine-moons-by-anthony-owens/

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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: 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.