March FADness: 03/10/2008: Memory; Untitled (1,000 Words)

It was July twelfth. She checked her watch again. She’d gotten it as a gift from the staff at the hospital, it had a large digital face and showed the time and the date.

The cab let her off on Farwell. She looked at her handwritten directions again. Mary, the secretary on the ward, had written them out in her painstakingly neat handwriting. Four-oh-six Farwell Street.

“Oh, sorry. How much do I owe you?” she asked, flushing.

“You want me to wait, lady?”

“For what?”

He looked around the neighborhood. “This isn’t the greatest place to find a cab, lady.”

She glanced out at the neat brownstones, with their clipped hedges and potted plants. “No, I suppose not.”

“I’ll cut your rate to a flat forty, you want me to wait and take you back.”

She looked back. “Okay, that would be nice.”

“Well, Mary’s a good friend of mine.”

“Oh.” She had forgotten that. Had Mary told her? She felt her brow furrow and pushed it aside, looking back out at the sidewalk. She looked back at her paper. Four-oh-six Farwell Street. She opened the door and stepped out.

The doorbell was wrought iron in the shape of a black cat, with the bell as the eye. “Yes?” a voice demanded from the panel next to the bell.

“Um, hello. This is, um, Denise Cartwell. Mary Simmons made an appointment for me to stop by today.” She looked wildly at her watch, suddenly nervous. July twelfth. Her heartbeat slowed. She had the right day.

After a pause, the voice came again. “I’ll let you in.”

A raucous buzz followed that and Denise pushed the door open. It resisted, heavy and solid. She managed to get into the foyer by dint of throwing her back into it and stood on the patterned marble.

“So, you’re Denise?”

An old woman with iron-gray hair stood staring down at her from the second-floor balcony. “Yes, ma’am.”

The woman swept majestically down the stairs and Denise fought the urge to step back. “You wish to see the apartment?”

Denise nodded, voice somewhere near her solar plexus. The woman frowned but turned and lead the way through the foyer to the hallway beyond. A door on the right opened onto a large and sunny sitting room furnished with white and rose-colored furniture. On the left, a dining room with a table big enough to seat ten. The landlady turned left at the next hallway and went down three short steps to a closed door. She pulled a key from her blouse and unlocked the door.

“There’s an entry on the other side, so you don’t have to come through the main house unless you wish to.” She motioned for Denise to go ahead of her.

Denise gasped. The apartment was gorgeous. Honey-colored hard-wood flooring glowed in the afternoon light, huge windows lined the walls. She saw with approval that the bedroom was just as well-lit with natural light. The bathroom had an enormous claw-footed tub and a skylight.

“When is it available?”

“This coming month, if you want it. I have the paperwork, if you’d like.”

“Yes, please. I’ll have to take it with me; Mary will help me fill it out.”

The woman studied her for a moment, unmoving. “I have to ask. You look so familiar, didn’t you used to live around here?”

Denise turned away, the sudden flash of darkness and sound overwhelming the quiet sunlit space. She was startled to feel tears on her cheeks and reached up a hand to wipe them away.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to pry.” She sounded embarrassed.

“No, it’s all right,” Denise said quickly, clearing her throat. “I used to live here. Just up the street, in fact.”

Recognition dawned in the woman’s eyes. Denise looked away, she didn’t want to see it.

“So. You have the paperwork?”

“Yes. Yes, I’ll just get it, shall I? You look around. Take all the time you need.” Denise heard her steps receding.

Denise walked over to the window. She saw a neatly manicured back yard, complete with wrought-iron table and two chairs, perfect for reading when the weather was nice. Her vision blurred, washing the trees outside into indistinct shapes.

“Oh, Daniel…” she whispered to the trees. Like always, she seemed to feel a warmth, as though he were with her. She didn’t know how long she stood like that, staring, sightless, outside.

She heard muffled voices, the landlady and another woman.

“…that lawyer,” Denise heard distinctly.

“Shh,” the landlady admonished. “You mind your tongue, Nancy. The last thing the poor woman needs is to be bothered by your gossip.”

“But Mother –”

“Not another word, young lady. Go back to the kitchen, I’ll be along.”

“Yes, Mother,” the other person sighed.

‘That lawyer.’ Denise sighed. For months, that was all they’d said at the hospital when they thought she couldn’t hear.

“Please forgive my daughter,” the landlady said. “Your assault stunned the neighborhood, I don’t mean to be rude.”

“No, no. It’s all right. I’m better now,” Denise managed to say with grace.

“Call me Emily,” the landlady said warmly, handing the papers over in a neat manila folder.

Denise smiled and watched as Emily’s eyes slid sideways to the scars by her ear. On impulse, Denise moved her head and swept the hair back with one hand.

“Goodness,” Emily commented.

Denise let her hair fall. “They say the memory will come back to me in time,” she confided.

Emily nodded, her brusqueness somehow comforting. “Well, don’t you worry. We’ll have you settled in no time. I’m sure all the good parts will come back to you, and Lord knows you don’t need the bad ones, right?”

Denise smiled in spite of herself, charmed. She was still smiling when she got back into the cab and looked on her paper. “Two-seventeen Fourth Avenue, please. Kingston Hospital.”

The cab driver nodded at her and she sat back to enjoy the ride. She had a home again.

FFC Story for 03/12/2008, Letters and Numbers: Untitled (1,000 Words)

This story is my entry for the March Flash Fiction Carnival. The theme is “Letters/Numerals.” I hope you enjoy!


“How abecedarian,” Marjorie jeered. “You always pick the basic elements, Malcolm.”

“Shut up,” Malcolm snapped, repeating ‘alpha, beta, gamma, delta,’ under his breath.

“Why do you want to know the Greek alphabet anyway?” she demanded, tossing her mane of blonde hair over one shoulder.

Malcolm, staring a little, met her gaze and then looked at the floor. “For the uprising,” he mumbled.

Marjorie let out a delighted peal of laughter. Malcolm flushed.

“The uprising. Of what? Nerds for School Service?” She turned her back on him to rummage in her backpack for lipstick or something.

Malcolm glared. She might be the prettiest girl in the university, but damn was she vapid! “They’re coming, you know,” he told her anyway, deciding to try to at least wake her up.

“Who’s coming?” she chirped brightly, smearing red on her lips while examining herself in a tiny makeup compact.

Malcolm looked around and dropped his voice. “The Nines.”

She stared at him, stunned for a moment into complete incredulity. Then she threw her head back and laughed and laughed and laughed.

Malcolm huffed and started to pack up his bags.

“No, Malcolm,” she huffed, still giggling. “I’m sorry, I am! It’s just – the Nines!” She dissolved in another fit of laughter.

“Never mind,” Malcolm snapped. “I’m sorry I said anything!”

A harsh boom startled him and he looked toward the front of the library. He heard some yelling and then the sound of running feet.

“What is that?” Marjorie asked, craning her neck to see. “Can you see anything?”

Malcolm felt himself smile. It wasn’t his usual smile, this was something more… feral. He resisted the urge to touch his face and feel it. Marjorie gasped when she looked at him.

“I told you,” Malcolm said. “It’s starting.”

He shoved his books back in his backpack and zipped it. Marjorie watched him, clearly distracted and beginning to be afraid.

“You coming?” Malcolm asked, standing.

“Coming where?” she asked in a small voice quite unlike her usual one.

Malcolm looked around the edge of the wide bookcase nearest them. “Here,” he told her over his shoulder. “Come on.”

He heard her rummaging with her stuff and then stand. Her perfume tickled his nose as she got close to him, something flowery with a hint of spice. It smelled clean and made him feel a little hot.

He sniffed, trying to clear his nose, and set out for the next bank of bookcases. They wound their way through the section on biology, not seeing anyone. Ahead of them, the windows glowed with late-afternoon light, grey from the overcast outside. He turned left before they reached them and crept down the wide space between the two bookcases toward the door at the end.

“You’re taking the stairs?” she demanded in a whisper.

“Shh, they’ll hear you. And yes, we are,” he murmured back.

The doorway to the stairs was heavy and stuck. The hinges usually squeaked loudly. Rumor had it the biology librarian kept them that way so she could keep an eye on students coming and going. No matter; Malcolm made quick work with some WD-40 and they were through.

“What is that stuff?” Marjorie wanted to know.

“WD-40,” he answered. At her blank look, he added, “Oil. For the hinges, so they don’t squeak.”

Her eyes widened, impressed. Malcolm grinned at her, that strange feral grin he’d found somewhere inside himself, and led the way upstairs. He stopped at each floor to make sure no one was about to barge in on them. He was pretty sure no one knew about this way up, since the other students didn’t routinely explore the library, but it paid to be cautious.

Fifth floor, literature. Sixth floor, fine arts. Seventh floor… they were there. He eased up to the door, every sense alert. He even put a hand palm-down on the door, to see if he could feel any vibrations of nearby footsteps. It didn’t work, but he felt safer having done so. He put his ear up to the door and heard nothing.

“Come on. Stay close, now. They’re probably up here by now.”

Marjorie nodded, eyes wide. Malcolm turned back and started. Her hand edged into his, a little sweaty. He smiled again, and opened the door.

There was no one nearby, but he could clearly see Thom Stacker, the largest guy in their year, standing at the far end. The atrium ceiling, far overhead, let in the silver-gray light for the plants grouped in the huge display in the center. Palm trees competed with a riot of other tropical plants, their perfume heavy in the room. Wrought-iron tables and chairs ringed the planter so library-goers could enjoy their book in the peace.

“Wow!” Marjorie whispered. “I never knew this was here!”

“Keep your voice down,” Malcolm warned softly. “Follow me.”

He lead the way around to the right, away from Thom. He saw his destination up ahead and slowed, careful now. He waited a moment and glanced at Marjorie.

“You ready?”

“For what?” she asked, confused.

He just grinned at her and, after a moment, she smiled back. It lit her whole face.

Malcolm set off boldly, almost dragging Marjorie at first. After a startled squeak she trotted to catch up, her hand still gripping his.

“Malcolm Dennis, pledge,” Malcolm announced.

“Malcolm!” Paul Forbes cried, pleased. “Wow! You’re the first one back! And who’s with you?”

Malcolm looked at Marjorie. “Marjorie Willis. My date for the pledge dance, if she’ll have me,” he added, glancing at her.

“Pledge dance?” she echoed. “You did this for a fraternity?”

He nodded. “Alpha Chi Omega. It’s why I need to know the Greek alphabet,” he told her. He slipped off his glasses, blinking. Even though they had no prescription, they made his eyes a little sore.

“You pledged Alpha Chi Omega?” she demanded.

“Class of Nines,” Paul put in. “Congratulations, Dennis. You’re in.”

“That is so cool!” Marjorie blurted. She grinned at Malcolm.

She sure was pretty.

March FADness: 03/09/2008: Shakespeare FanFiction; “Hamlet and Horatio” (677 Words)

Hamlet and Horatio

“Ratso! What are you doing back from Wittenberg? Won’t your father flip his wig if you’re not at your studies?”

Horatio frowned. “You’re one to talk. You are talking! Who are you talking to, anyway?”

“Myself,” Hamlet mumbled.

“Me,” the Ghost drawled from beneath them.

Horatio jumped back, a chill scattering up his back. “What the hell?”

“Never mind that. How are things at school?”

Horatio glared at him. “They’d be a lot better if you were there to do your papers. Professor Kinton, particularly, is going to have your head you don’t finish that Natural Philosophy paper you promised him!”

Hamlet looked away, something sliding through his eyes that Horatio couldn’t read. “I just couldn’t…” He trailed off.

Horatio felt guilt flood him. “Hambone, I’m sorry. I never meant–”

“Have you seen Ophelia?” Hamlet interrupted.

Horatio stared at him. “No. I haven’t been up to the castle yet. I heard Polonius is in fine fettle, though.”

“From whom?” Hamlet demanded, suddenly intense.

Horatio’s eyed narrowed. “I knew it. What are you up to?”

Hamlet looked, if anything, more furtive. “You must promise me you will say nothing. Promise. Swear it… swear it on my sword.”

“Your sword!” Horatio echoed, shocked.

“His sword,” the Ghost quavered.

“Hamlet, what –”

“You must,” Hamlet interrupted. “You will say nothing!”

“All right, all right! Calm down! I’ll swear.”

“By his sword,” the Ghost commanded.

“Hamlet, what is that?” Horatio demanded. He looked around and spotted the Ghost. He stumbled back with a cry, dropping his backpack. The zipper sprang apart and spilled several heavy, leather-bound textbooks into the grass.

“My father,” Hamlet answered simply. He looked at the Ghost, pain and a strange resolve in his eyes that Horatio had never seen.

“This has got to be the strangest thing I’ve ever seen!” Horatio burst out. “You, a student of Natural Philosophy. I heard they said you were mad, and I half believed it. But this –” He waved at the ghost with an agitated hand.

“Then give it welcome, Horatio, as a true Philosopher. There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

“Since when have I been a know-it-all?” Horatio protested, still staring wide-eyed at the Ghost. “Hamlet, is that your father?” he asked plaintively.

“Yes,” Hamlet said again.

Horatio rubbed his eyes furiously for a moment as the ghost began to fade. “What is going on? I receive a letter that the King is dead, his son the Prince is mad, and Polonius is traipsing around the castle while his daughter goes mad from grief. You love Ophelia, dammit! What are you doing?”

Hamlet regarded him sadly. “I would explain, but I need time, Horatio. Time that I do not have. Time to catch a murderer.”



“But who –”

“Have you heard who is to wed my mother?” Hamlet demanded, intense again.

Horatio sighed, feeling like it came from his toes. “Yes. I’m sorry. But that’s surely not cause for murder! Such things aren’t done in these times!”

Hamlet shook his head, disgusted. “Always you seek the best in man.”

“And always you seek the worst!” Horatio snapped, offended. “See reason, man! You cannot just accuse the man who will be King of Denmark of usurping his brother’s throne by murder!”

Hamlet looked away, toward where the ghost had been just moments before. Horatio watched that unfamiliar resolve surfacing again. “Man will act as he has always done, and woman also. If it is truth you seek, my friend, then it is truth you shall have.” He stared into the distance for a few moments more and then turned to Horatio as though nothing had happened. “Come. Fix your bag. I’ll walk you up to the castle. You must be tired from your journey.”

Horatio blinked and allowed the Prince to chivy him onto the road toward the castle. He would speak no more of what they had discussed, but Horatio could not shake the feeling that something was rotten in the heart of Denmark.

March FADness: Story 03/08/2008: Drabble; “Poker” (100 Words)


“Full house.”



“I’m out. My wife’s gonna kill me as it is.”

“Who’s in?”


“Yeah, me too.”


“You’re grinning. What’s got you so happy?”

“He’s winning, isn’t he?”

“Yeah. Good point.”


“What’s your game?”

“Five card stud.”

“Yeah. I’m the stud.”

“Your wife tell you that?”

“No. Yours did.”


“This goddamn game is gonna get me in the shit with my wife for sure.”

“That’s just cuz you keep losing!”

“Laugh it up. I don’t see you win either. Just the new guy.”

“Hey, what did you say your name was again?”

“Mr. Faust.”

March FADness: Story 03/07/2008: Creature Feature; “Letters to a Young Dragon” (811 Words)

Letters to a Young Dragon

My dearest Son,

The time of your fiftieth birthday fast approaches, and it is nearly time for you to go forth, find a mate, and spawn. As my father did for me, and his father for him, and so on back to the First Egg, it is time for me to impart to you the wisdom of our generations upon this fertile earth.

You are of the mightiest race to ever live. The age of dinosaurs has past and they felt the sting of extinction, but we the mightiest will live forever. As such, you have a grave responsibility to safeguard our race from the ravages of Man, that foul little two-legged infestation so recently sprung down from the trees. Oh! by the First Egg how I wish they had never learned the gift of speech! I was there when they first walked upon the valleys and hills of my youth. I was there when they established villages – Feh! – and began to trade with one another. What stench! What foul noise! What ignorance of the ways of our Mother Earth!

It is first of Man that I must warn you, my Son. For as all dragons know, Man has spread like a foul disease the breadth of this continent and will entrench himself and his horrid offspring. If we are to prosper, we must be ever watchful and ensure that our lands are not encroached upon. Why, just last month I caught a party of Man hunting our deer! Can you imagine? The impertinence! Next thing you know, they’ll be building towns like the Tyrannosaurs and trying to float upon the Oceans of Mother Earth, the better to spread their plague.

But I digress.

Now, my Son, it is up to you to contain their number. Wiser heads than ours have decreed that Man must not be fully cleansed from this Earth, for by the First Egg they are children of the Sun just as we. But contain their numbers we may, in fact, we must! It is to that specific purpose that I lay claw to rock this morning.

First, when marauding a village, make sure you come at it from downwind. Man has allied himself with the Sons of the Wolf and, though bastardized beyond all recognition, Dog has a deep mistrust of Dragonkind. While we are allied long and fruitfully with Wolf, Dog – that eater of Carrion – has chosen to ally with Man. Very well. Their noses, though dulled by the midden-heaps of generations, are nevertheless alert to our presence. Downwind, my Son, you must fly from downwind.

Second, it is best to attack in the Dawn, just before the mighty Sun has begun His daily journey cross the Sky. Fly low and fast, and keep alert for their bowman. But the Mother Earth has given Dragonkind a gift: for Man has discovered hops, and barley, and yeast. They have fermented these – foul brew! – into something he calls “beer.” (Don’t drink it; it tastes like week-dead carrion!) It imparts to Man a bellicosity followed by the urge to sing at the top of his lungs – off key, I might add; perhaps you’ve heard the bellowing? After the singing comes the procreation (don’t they look stupid when they do that? No majesty on the wing, no dancing, no artistry at all!). After the procreation comes the sleep. Beer has lent to Man a sleep deeper than the dead, my Son, and this is why Dawn is the best time. They awake, if they awake at all, bleery-eyed and muzzy.

Third, you must destroy the Main House first. This is where their leaders and best ‘warriors’ – hah! – live (if you can call it living – the stench alone will turn your scales!). Burn from the base of the building to the roof, from the front along the prevailing side, then circle once and do the same on the other side. As the rest of the village rouses, take the barns next – they will become agitated for the loss of their livestock and run back and forth, trying to decide whether to save them or fight you. This confusion is exactly correct.

Fourth, eat your fill, my Son, for you have truly earned it. Beware the missiles from their small arms, but by this time you will have landed in the center of the village and have naught to fear. Their weapons cannot penetrate your hide – only your belly is at risk, which is why you take their Main House first.

Best and bright fortunes to you, my Son, as you go forth into the World to make your way. I know that with practice, you can become the Scourge of Man and the Promise of the Next Generation of Dragonkind. Perhaps, in the fullness of time, even Dragonking one day!

All my love,

Your Father, Smaug

FFC Prompt Due 2008-03-21

Wow! March is the MONTH! Flash prompts are coming out of every crack in the sidewalk! Yay!

Here’s the newest Flash Fiction Carnival Prompt, due 03/21/2008:

Here are a few Spring Holiday Themes to get you thinking:

  • Vernal (Spring) Equinox
  • Spring Break
  • St Patrick’s Day
  • Easter

Of course, you may have other holidays you’re celebrating this month or the changing of the season might be inspiring you to write some other springtime tale. Any seasonally appropriate story is fine for this carnival.

And don’t forget it’s also Women’s History Month, so bring on your strong female characters! Submit your flash fiction piece of 1,000 words or less no later than 10:00 pm Friday, March 21 and it’ll be posted sometime before the next morning. [They’ll] post stragglers through the weekend of March 22-23 on an ad hoc basis.

Announcing Noonsense!

I was thinking about a newsletter I write in my “other life” (you know, the one where I’m not a famous New York Times Bestselling Author), and came up with a thought – why not write a newsletter for my writing friends and fans? (All 4,302,699 of you…) Since my mailing budget is unlimited, what with my big fancy New York publishing house (who, for the sake of professional courtesy, I can’t actually name), I figured I’d print that puppy up and mail it out to you all.

So, this is the official press release announcement of the publication of my brand, spanking new newsletter, Noonsense. No, spankings are not included, they cost extra. Send checks payable to A. Catherine Noon…

Sorry, got carried away there. But watch your mailbox soon! And if you haven’t sent me your snail mail address, get crackin! I can’t mail it to you, you don’t send it to me. (And this baby isn’t comin’ electronically!)

March FADness: Story 03/06/2008: Twist

Anne sighed. Her charge, whom she nicknamed “Mouse,” ran on thick, short little legs around the yard, stumbling over the short hillocks of grass. Her stubby fingers extended in front of her like feelers, alert for danger.

“Look…” Anne trailed off, wincing, as the little girl fetched up against a lawn chair, barking her knees painfully on the edge of it. The child sat down on her bottom hard, tears erupting.

“Poor little tyke,” Anne murmured, walking over. She touched the girl’s shoulder gently and held her as the little body shook with angry sobs. “You really are a poor little thing, aren’t you, Mouse?”

At the vibrations of her voice, the little girl put her hand up and banged into Anne’s mouth. Anne obliged by opening and closing her mouth, making “Ah” sounds. The little hands batted her like heavy butterflies and then yanked her bottom lip. Anne closed her teeth on one digit, hard enough to make her point, and the girl pulled back, startled.

Anne stood up, patted her on the back, and off she went again. Anne sighed. It was getting close to lunch time.

She moved over to the shaded area near the French doors and took the cover off the two plates waiting there. Identical sandwiches and sliced apple waited, each with their own napkins. There was, by Anne’s orders, no flatware. Anne set the plates out on the small table and turned back to the lawn.

“There you are, little tyke,” Anne muttered, catching her in mid-dash across the center of the lawn. She squirmed and Anne tapped her bottom. “None of that, miss. It’s lunch time.”

She set Mouse down in her chair and smoothed the napkin in her lap. They had a brief wrestling match over it when Mouse wanted to put it in her mouth, but Anne was stubborn and the napkin stayed in the lap. She guided the little girl’s hands to the sandwich and was rewarded by a little fist making mush of the slices of bread.

“No, Mouse!” Anne snapped, slapping her hand sharply. The little girl froze, waiting. Anne calmly turned her hand over and formed the letters like she always did. “B – R – E – A – D,” she spelled slowly.

Mouse pulled her hand away and stuffed nearly four bites’ worth into her mouth at once. She immediately fell to coughing and Anne had to help her clean herself up. She tried the spelling game again, B – R – E – A – D, to no avail.

After Anne was able to eat half her own sandwich and Mouse ate all of her own, the little girl jumped to her feet and ran off toward the garden. “Mouse!” Anne admonished, scrambling after her.

She was too late. With a crash that Anne felt in her bones, the rake went flying and the little girl tipped over the water bucket, running straight into the faucet. More surprised than anything else, she opened her mouth in a wordless yell of fury.

Anne knelt in the mud and water, and spelled, “W – A – T – E – R.” Mouse pulled away angrily and slapped her arm, aiming, Anne knew, for her face. Anne grabbed her hand again, annoyed. “W – A – T – E – R,” the letters went.

Mouse froze. Her stubby fingers clenched and then her palm flattenened commandingly. Anne felt a chill. She spelled the letters again. W – A – T… Mouse grabbed at her hand wildly and spelled, haltingly, W – A – T – R. Anne shook her head, intent, and spelled W – A – T – E – R. She was so focused she didn’t hear her employer until he stood between Anne and the sun, casting a long shadow on the both of them as they knelt in the soupy muck.

“Miss Sullivan, what are you doing?” he demanded angrily.

“I think it’s working!” she cried, looking up at him with a wild exhultation surging through her. Mouse, by some movement in the air or the sudden coolness on her face from the shade, reached out and planted a mud-spattered hand on her father’s trouser leg.

Anne, rather than admonish her, grabbed her hand and spelled out, “F – A – T – H – E – R.”

Mouse grabbed Anne’s hand and spelled it back, getting it right on the first try.

“Mr. Keller! It’s working! Helen is learning!” Anne crowed, as Mrs. Keller, listening from under the awning burst into tears. “She’s spelled ‘Father!’”

(Author’s Note: This is my first try at historical fiction. It is based on research done on works by Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan.)

Flash a Day and Other Thoughts

As I am writing my flash a day prompts, I realized I’m writing a longer story with Fenton and Kilasha. Accordingly, I think I’ll split them off into their own little corral and return to the flashes, writing discrete stories for the prompts like the instructions seem to indicate. I find writing flash to be harder than longer pieces. I like longer pieces, they hold my interest. I’m always asking questions, in life and in my work, and that leads me places when I’m telling a story. Like the little kid, I always want to know, what happens next?

I thought I’d share one of my favorite websites today. They change their content daily, which is good for us ADHD web-o-holics. What I like about it is that it’s interesting stuff, not your normal pedestrian web fare: Arts and Letters Daily. Check it out, let me know what you think. Don’t miss their web links at the left; if you’ve got some time to kill, they’ve got some fun things to look at.

March FADness: Story 03/05/2008: Revenge; Untitled (997 Words)

After ascending one level, Fenton realized that Gray was right behind him. He whirled in sudden fury and slammed the taller man against the wall. “Gods damn you, Mage! Had you allowed me to speak to her in peace, she would have talked to me!”

“Captain, please. I had nothing to do with it!” Gray protested. “I didn’t know she was here until just before I saw you. I would never betray you to Katzn!”

“He’s your Abbot; what fool do you think I am?” Fenton growled.

“Fenton. Please. I believe you! I saw her with my own eyes, for the love of the Child. Let me help you.”

Fenton stared at him and then stepped back. He turned and started up the stairs again, not stopping until he’d reached his own quarters. He stood aside to allow Gray to enter and shut the door on a startled page, cutting the boy off midsentence.

“Fenton!” Gray protested mildly. “What is it?”

Fenton didn’t answer and strode to the window overlooking the stables and practice yard. He stared down intently, ignoring the mage behind him. Consumed by curiosity, Gray finally walked over and peered outside.

“What are we looking for?”

Fenton almost laughed. The Mage, for all of his subtlety, made an abysmal spy. “The escapee.”

Gray frowned, eyes raking the grounds and finding no one. “What are you talking about?”

Fenton saw Melunin’s nose and then head emerge from the stable, followed by the rest of him. “She’s got excellent taste in horse flesh,” he grumbled, annoyed.

“Who? Fenton, what – ”

Fenton grabbed his arm, interrupting the tirade, and pointed. “There. The rider.”

“Lords of Chaos…” Gray breathed. “Is that Kilasha?”

“Yes,” Fenton growled. “And she has my horse.”

Fenton strode over to his clothes press and rummaged. He laid out four sets of undergarments and set about collecting the rest of his supplies. Gray watched him in silence for a few moments.

“I’m coming with you,” the Mage announced.

Fenton stilled, looking over at the other man. “You’re not serious.”

“Of course I am!” he shot back indignantly.

Fenton resumed packing, a smirk twisting his lips. “Don’t be childish. You haven’t been out of the Castle in months. This is not some lark through the countryside. We’ll be in the saddle for some days, I think.”

Gray thrust out his chin stubbornly. “I wish to accompany you.”

Fenton threw his shaving kit on the bed and strode to the door, yanking it open on the startled page. “Pack a bag for Mage Gray, Bolyn. Standard kit, four days. No, make that a week. Tell Stable Master Kint that I’ll need a mount for him, and saddle Melonioc. Have it ready in thirty minutes, not a second longer.”

“Yes, Captain,” Bolyn answered, his voice deepened into manhood already.

Fenton looked at Gray. “Fine. You’ll travel as one of my men, no special accommodation. Can you do that?”

Gray nodded, looking startled at being taken at his word. He turned back to the window. “She’s gone already.”

Fenton shrugged. “I’ll find her. She’s riding my stallion; she can’t hide that from me.”

The two men slipped downstairs to the stable twenty minutes later, stopping by the kitchens on the way. Cook was berating two young pages for misplacing a cheese, some apples, and a loaf of bread. Fenton wanted to laugh. He grabbed his own provisions, showed Gray how to pack himself a travel pouch, and strode through to meet Stable Master Kint.

“Captain. Your stallion’s gone a-missing, it appears.”

“Yes, Master Kint. I’m aware. I go to fetch him now, in fact.”

Kint nodded, satisfied. “Good. Mage,” he greeted.

Gray blinked, taken aback at such a lackluster greeting. Fenton grinned at him and strode forward.

A tall gray mare stood calmly waiting. Fenton was pleased. Shellycka was sweet-tempered and fast, gentle for less-experienced riders. Gray would be in good hands. Fenton buckled his bags to the back of his own saddle and greeted Melonioc with some sugar he’d had in his pocket. When he saw Gray watching curiously, he handed some of the brown stuff over and watched as the Mage fed it to Shellycka without getting his fingers nibbled.

Once outside of the Castle, Fenton pulled into the lead. “We’ll meet up with my Lieutenant, about a day’s ride out from here. Then we’ll go the rest of the way with a small guard.”

“Guard?” Gray asked. “You expect danger?”

“Always, but particularly now. Kilasha won’t harm us, but I expect Moarven will want revenge.”

“Revenge!” Gray clucked to Shellycka, who obligingly pulled up next to Fenton. “Why? We’ve done nothing to them!”

Fenton stared at him, wondering how such an intelligent man could be so appallingly blind. “We’ve kidnapped two of the Seers, Gray. If for no other reason than that, she’ll want revenge. But one is dead. By our hand or not, we’ve kept the body.”

“She’ll want the body?” Gray asked blankly.

Fenton wondered suddenly if anything he ever said made sense to the tall mage. “Wouldn’t you? For last rights?”

Gray looked thoughtful at that. Fenton, suddenly exhausted, pulled ahead again and set his face toward his distant camp, wishing he were there already.

He hoped that Moarven would hear reason. But more than that, he hoped that Kilasha was safe. He saw her face in his mind’s eye; delicate but strong bones and those blue, blue eyes. He sighed. To get back to the Seers’ residence meant crossing four or five days’ worth of wild, untamed lands. A woman, injured and alone, would be easy prey in that time. He glanced back at the mage trailing behind him and wished devoutly he understood what they were fighting, that he could get the Abbot to see what it was that was really going on.

And that Moarven wouldn’t take revenge on Fenton or, worse, Gray. He swallowed. One thing at a time. First he had to get to camp, then find Kilasha.