Stories, The Scions

The Scions – 7b

Hartmann studied her, still feeling a little choked over the way Carol had latched onto his confession of the truth. Any normal person in her position would still be seething with resentment towards him for abruptly shattering everything about their life, but Carol … she had yet to complain that she missed her friends, her apartment, or her favorite pair of shoes. As they recited the NATO alphabet together, it was almost as if she didn’t even remember that he was the reason why she was there in the first place, or that her life had been different just a few days prior. She submitted to her fate as a military asset without resistance, and was now clear-headed enough to peer through his facade when she should have been overcome with emotion.

After repeating “x-ray, yankee, zulu,” a few times, Carol mused quietly, “I wonder where the captain went.”

“Undoubtedly for a little …” Hartmann curled his fingers into a loose fist with his thumb out, which he pointed at his mouth as he tilted his head back. Carol looked at him, baffled.

“What does that mean?” she asked.

“Captain Lambert is a drunk,” Hartmann replied.

“But he never seems drunk.” Carol’s brow wrinkled.

Hartmann shrugged. “I don’t know the exact particulars of his drinking habits, but everyone knows that he hits the whiskey bottles hard. He’s under a lot of pressure to make something useful out of you, so he’s probably going to be indulging more than usual for the next while.”

Carol fixed her eyes on the table and pushed her fists hard onto her knees. “I’m not trying to be difficult.”

“I know.”

“I really am doing my best,” she continued. “I don’t see why it would drive him to drink. It’s not like I’m making him fight me to be more cooperative or anything like that.”

“It’s the general, not you. Captain Lambert’s been given orders that he’s got to push through, no matter what.” The image of Lambert encouraging Carol as she lay on the ground flashed through Hartmann’s mind and tightened his jaw. “It might be best if you keep low around him, and try not to agitate him.”

“You think so?” Carol asked slowly, and bit her lower lip. Hartmann glanced over at the corporal, and was disappointed to see that Holmes was watching them.

“Yes.” He stood and made a show of stretching. “Let’s get dinner. You need to remember to always eat three square meals a day to keep your strength up and build your muscles.”

“You guys are so weird about that,” Carol said with a smile.

“We’re trained to be.” Hartmann held out his hand to help Carol up, and she took it hesitantly then let go quickly. “Unless Captain Lambert instructs otherwise, you’re dismissed for personal time afterwards.”

Something about that made Carol laugh. “Personal time, huh?”

Hartmann studied her carefully, trying to read her thoughts. “Don’t have anything to do?” he asked.

She looked him straight in the eyes, her expression strange and uncharacteristic as she replied bluntly, “No. And you already know that.”

It reminded him of the moment she had mysteriously slipped through his fingers and jumped into the Suit – the moment that had begun this entire debacle that held him captive. The thought flashed through his mind that there was another Carol hiding inside, and that was the reason why she seemed so empty at first glance. Was the boring, bland woman a mask for something else?

The pieces were beginning to form. Carol, orphaned as a toddler in a tragedy that had nearly killed her as well, had grown up in foster care, emancipated herself at a young age, found stability, then stagnated for nearly half of her life as she drifted into invisibility. While he knew that there was some significance behind it all, he couldn’t place his finger on what.

For a brief moment, he considered asking Lambert for his analysis – it was well known that the captain had worked as a psychologist before enlisting, and would be able to better interpret what Hartmann had discovered – but he immediately disregarded the idea as harebrained. He needed to keep those two apart, not give them an excuse to engage in emotional bonding.

Stories, The Scions

The Scions – 4b

He considered finding out which of his friends were available that night, then shot down the idea. He wasn’t in the mood to show off, and he didn’t need the help of a wingman. What he needed was a distraction.

There was also enough time to get dinner and a few drinks before the prime hunting hour, when women were done with the bars and ready to be picked up. He settled on his favorite restaurant, and thought about Carol in the cafeteria on base with that young corporal. He hoped that she was as uncommunicative and dismissive with everyone else as she was with him – he didn’t want her making friends.

The fucking cleaning lady, prancing around in his Suit like a girl. He had never thought that he would consider a 12-foot mecha to be feminine before.

It had been like watching Carol be stripped free of her shyness and become fully herself.

In the space to process how events had turned, he had to grudgingly admit that there was something right about Carol inside the Suit. Something in his brain assured him of that, and comforted him with the knowledge that once he laid claim to Carol, he wouldn’t have truly lost control of the Suit; he would be piloting it by proxy.

But there was no way she could ever handle combat. That area belonged to him.

Hartmann lightly flirted with the waitress to ease himself into the proper mindset for the night, and was pleased when she responded with extra attentiveness. He left a large tip, knowing that it would leave a favorable impression for the next time he returned.

He stopped by his apartment to change his clothes, but skipped showering, then it was on to his favorite bar.

Hartmann was still nursing his first drink when a woman walked in wearing a red dress made of flimsy fabric. Her hair was almost the same color as Carol’s, and cut to the same length. When he looked over at her, she pulled the side of her bottom lip underneath her teeth, and he took it as a sign. She was the one he would go home with that night, but first he had to play the game.

He spent awhile chatting up other women, all the while keeping an eye on the woman in red. She had noticed him, noticed every time he glanced over, and began to make small movements when he was watching. First she changed the crossing of her legs, then brushed her hair behind her ear, and bit her lip again. But he kept her hanging. Kept her wondering.

When she checked her phone, he knew it was time. He quietly moved, and stood behind her for a moment, smiling when her eyes looked for him in his former place at the bar. Then he sat down next to her.

“Hey,” he purred in a voice of velvet.

“I was wondering when you were going to talk to me.” She grinned like a cat that had eaten a canary. “I was just about to make the first move.”

That was a lie, of course. Women like her never made the first move, out of terror of rejection, and he hated the emptiness of her bravado. But he played along, stroking her ego with the words, “I had to build up the nerve to say hello.”

“Oh? And why is that?” She was leaning towards him, her fingers touching her hair.

“You’re beautiful.” He signaled for a waitress to come over, then said, “May I have the honor of buying you a drink?”

“I don’t know about drinking with military guys.” She made a show of eyeing him up and down. “I don’t know if I can trust you.”

“You’re right.” He leaned over and whispered into her ear, “You shouldn’t trust me.”

She giggled, then agreed to the drink. They flirtatiously bantered back and forth as they worked their way to the bottom of their glasses, then Hartmann put his hand against the back of her neck as he crooned, “Come back to my place with me.”

“I’m not really that sort of girl,” she answered, breathing deeply with flushed cheeks. Inwardly, Hartmann cringed. She wouldn’t be there in the first place if she wasn’t that sort of girl.

“You won’t regret it,” he purred. “I promise.”

“Yeah. Okay.” She picked up her purse, and he took her elbow.

He found himself hating how corny the game was, and the fact that it worked. For a moment he allowed himself to actually look at the woman he was leaving the bar with, at her penciled eyebrows and fake eyelashes, and wondered why he was bothering at all. But her hair was an imitation of Carol’s, and until he could possess the real thing, he would satisfy himself with this caricature.

(A/N: The following is a depiction of an adult situation. I recommend practicing judgment and jumping ship here if you suspect it will make you uncomfortable.)

Continue reading “The Scions – 4b”
The Scions

The Scions – 4a

“You don’t need to eat dinner with me, master sergeant,” Carol protested, her face turning bright red. “Corporal Holmes has been assigned to watch me.”

“What’s the matter? Are you terrified of pigging out in front of me? Don’t worry, I like a woman with a healthy appetite.” he teased, letting himself touch her elbow, feeling the soft curve of her bone as her blush deepened and she sputtered,

“Aren’t you supposed to be busy, or something? Surely you don’t have time to …”

“I have all the time in the world for you–” Hartmann stopped himself before he called her the cleaning lady out loud. “Now that I don’t have the Suit.”

She caught the undertone in his words and turned away, silent. He noticed that she was clenching her hands into fists, and the glint in her eyes was too hard for her to be feeling any sort of regret or sympathy about ousting him out of his position in the Suit, sparking his own anger once again.

“I need to train you how to eat properly, since you’re practically skin and bones,” he snapped.

“It doesn’t matter in the Suit,” Carol retorted, catching Hartmann by surprise. “I didn’t feel the slightest hint of fatigue while I was inside it this morning. If anything, I felt better.”

“That’s … unusual,” he muttered. He had gone on countless missions in the Suit, and while he certainly had enhanced abilities, he had still been very conscious of the passing hours. The mental exhaustion had more than made up for the lack of physical exertion, and it was something that he had willed himself to ignore. The thought that Carol didn’t experience it at all was galling.

Everything about her pushed him to his limits.

But orders were orders. As much as he ached to renegade with the Suit, he didn’t know where he would go or what he would do, and practicality kept him there. After he had lived half his life in the military, he didn’t know what he would do without any missions to devote himself to – without orders, he would be adrift.

He needed to keep himself under control.

“Maybe I’m worried about your health,” he purred, knowing that it sounded too smarmy in light of the growing tension.

“I’d prefer to eat alone.” She turned to face him, her jaw muscle twitching slightly. “As alone as I’m allowed to be.”

“Have it your way, then,” he replied dismissively, and turned to leave.

Good riddance, he thought. He couldn’t keep up the act for much longer anyway; Carol was getting too much under his skin. Her reluctance to speak meant that he had to study her carefully, to pay attention to every twitch and turn of her body to read her thoughts, and she was starting to drive him crazy. The way she curled in on herself made her seem shorter than she was, and he wanted to grab her shoulders to straighten her out, to tell her to hold her head high so he could gaze at the curve where her neck met her shoulders.

He had never had to work so hard for a woman in his entire life. After he had developed a pair of biceps, women had practically lined up around the block to throw themselves at him, and all he had to do was learn how to pick carefully. Carol was making him doubt himself, because she didn’t seek him out with flirtatious eyes, or try to give him a peek of her cleavage to catch his interest. She made him feel … invisible.

The irony was almost hilarious. Perhaps invisibility wasn’t a talent that Carol had perfected, but an infectious disease that descended on everyone she interacted with. The moment he first touched her had sealed his fate, and he was now dissolving into the background, unnoticed.

Left on his own, he made his way to captain Lambert’s office with the deliberate swiftness that had become second-nature after the years he had spent in the military, and sharply rapped on the door. A gruff voice answered, “Come in,” and he opened the door.

“Do you have any idea how much paperwork you created for me?” Lambert growled after a quick glance up. “Would’ve been easier on all of us if you had left Carol alone to clean the Suit.”

“I am well aware of that, sir,” Hartmann replied, standing at ease. “And I regret my mistake.”

“The fucking cleaning lady …” Lambert pressed his hand to his forehead. “Between the two of us, MSG Hartmann, the General has gone off the deep end. One look at Carol, and it’s obvious that she’ll never be able to handle combat – even inside the Suit – but now that anxiety-ridden mouse is our problem whether we like it or not.”

“I know that, sir,” Hartmann replied. “She expressed concern over the possibility of going into combat, and I replied to her that I didn’t know the specifics of what was expected of her.”

“Basically, the General wants to see what sort of offensive features she has access to in the Suit. So, yes, she will be going into combat at the end of next week.” Lambert set his pen down and leaned back in his chair. “However, don’t mention that to her unnecessarily.”

“I won’t, sir. I won’t do anything to upset her,” Hartmann answered dutifully.

Hartmann had started working with Lambert two years prior after the captain had been brought on to the Suit project, and while their personalities clashed, they had developed an unique respect for one another. In many ways, Lambert was the opposite of Hartmann, and had achieved his rank through education – he had never had to prove himself on the battlefield, and that fact hung between the two of them every time they spoke. While Lambert was the commanding officer, Hartmann was the one with the experience, and had earned himself a level of admiration that the captain would never replicate.

“Did you need something?” Lambert asked. With his temper soothed, he was becoming more relaxed and amicable. They were comrades again, which made it easy for Hartmann to make his request.

“I would like the rest of the day off, sir. Carol has hit her limit with how much training she can do, and there’s nothing left for me while she is resting. I could use some personal time.”

“Granted.” Lambert picked up his pen and began writing. “But first, give me your report on how the first day of training went. You already mentioned that she’s concerned about combat … what else is there?”

“Carol has no endurance or stamina, even for a civilian woman. Otherwise, she didn’t talk much.”

“Very mouse-like, isn’t she.” Lambert smiled slightly. “She’s every bit as quiet and timid as one, and practically as small, too. I’ll have more free time tomorrow, so I will be assisting more with her physical training.”

Hartmann wanted to bristle. That was the nicest thing that he had ever heard Lambert say about a woman, and he didn’t like the idea of having to overtly compete for someone as difficult as the cleaning lady. Lambert was supposed to stay distant and divorced.

Fortunately, Lambert’s temper combined with his borderline alcoholism were certain to serve him poorly; Hartmann was much better at playing suave than the captain. If he worked the situation so that Carol pushed Lambert’s buttons, he would not only look better by comparison, it would create a vulnerability that Hartmann could exploit. Carol was definitely not the sort who could withstand being yelled at.

Hartmann forced a smile to hide the real one brewing under the surface. “I’m looking forward to your input, sir.”

“If that’s all, then you’re dismissed.” Lambert turned back to his notes, and Hartmann made his exit.

The Scions

The Scions – 3

Hartmann waited for Carol out on the running track, smiling slightly when she came through the doors and squinted at him through the sunlight. The corporal was still with her, so the first thing that Hartmann did was dismiss the soldier, to ensure that they would be alone. She was nervous as the corporal left, so she bit her lip as her eyes locked onto the ground, and the action made her look younger and more girlish.

He had to find his tongue before he could say, “We’re going to run a mile to start.” It was hard to describe the effect that Carol was having on him. She wasn’t feisty like the women in the military, nor did she try to act sexy like the women at the bar. She was something else … something unfamiliar.

Carol nodded and murmured, “Yes, sir,” with her eyes still pointed downwards. Her hands tightened into fists.

“Relax, I’m under orders to be nice to you.” Hartmann smirked as he added, “And remember to call me master sergeant. I’ll let you off this time because you’re a civilian.”

“Yes, sir … master sergeant.” She glanced up, met his eyes for a split second, then looked away.

“Go on, get moving. It’s four laps around the track.”

Hartmann was silent as they jogged the first lap, giving Carol time to get used to his presence and feel more at ease. He watched her out of the corner of his eye, noting that it didn’t take long for her to begin breathing heavily, and compensated by slowing down the pace. When they started around the curve again, he said, “I’m sorry for being a dick.”

Carol didn’t reply, but he had expected that.

“Everyone knows I’m a real asshole to be around …” He feigned sheepishness, though inwardly he winced at his own words. He hadn’t even begun to get rough with her when she had jumped into the Suit, and if given the chance he would show her in a heartbeat just how much of a jerk he could be. However, at the moment he had a goal, and he wanted Carol to relax and open up to him. “I especially get a little crazy about the Suit.” That part was true.

He was quiet again, studying her closely, doing his best to read her thoughts through her body language. Her face flitted through a number of micro-expressions, enough to tell him that the inside of her mind was no where near as empty as her exterior, but it was going to take more time to be able to read her accurately.

“Master sergeant,” she said hesitantly as they began their third lap at an even slower pace. “Do you know what the visor is made out of?”

“Not a clue. I’d guess something similar to leaded glass, but I don’t think the minerals used in it came from this planet.” Hartmann stopped and grinned at her. “You noticed, didn’t you.”

“Not while we were inside.” Carol placed her hands on her knees as she huffed. “But when I had the Suit out in the sunlight, it was like seeing the world for the first time.”

“It’s amazing, but it’s something that you’re going to have to get used to. Those new colors have an odd way of swirling together and causing vertigo and nausea once you get moving fast enough. That’s going to matter during combat.”

She looked away. “Am I supposed to go into combat?”

“I’m not cleared for that information. I was told to train you, so that’s what I’m doing.” Hartmann was eyeing Carol up and down again. “In the military, you follow orders without question.”

“I guess that’s something we have in common,” she blurted, then bit her lip shyly as she began walking again.

Hartmann was momentarily lost for words as some sort of electrical shock pulsed through his chest. A feeling started to form inside his throat, then hardened into anger. How dare the cleaning lady suggest that they had any commonality – he was a hero, and she was a nobody. She was only there through some unexplained fluke, because some computer inside the Suit had called her “commander.” If not for that, her place would be in the shadow of his glory, unnoticed as she maintained the Suit for him.

He walked beside her, neither of them bothering with the pretense of jogging, until he regained himself and a quip came to him, “I saw the employee file on you, and it said that you’ve always been the picture of good behavior. I bet your parents loved you for that.”

Carol shrugged. “I guess they would have.”

“Would have?” Hartmann prodded.

“They died when I was three.”

He frowned. Carol didn’t look like the sort who carried childhood trauma, and she had delivered the news so blandly that it would have better suited a conversation about the weather. “How?” he asked, not out curiosity about the answer, but more for the opportunity to gauge her response.

“House fire.” Carol looked over at him and met his eyes. “I nearly died of smoke inhalation as well.”

“That is surprisingly interesting for you.” Hartmann cracked a grin. “I would have guessed that you grew up in some ordinary middle class family, did all of your homework and managed mostly B’s in school, then graduated and decided to twiddle your thumbs until you died.”

She scowled, finally annoyed by something. “No. I grew up in foster care, and got myself emancipated at sixteen. I got a GED instead of graduating, and I’ve been working full time ever since. I am not twiddling my thumbs.” A shadow of doubt crossed over her eyes, as if she was second-guessing what she had said.

“Foster care, huh? Dark place, isn’t it.” For a moment Hartmann felt the impulse to reach over and place his hand against her shoulder, to feel the crook of her neck with his fingers, but he tamped it down and kept his hands by his side.

“I survived.” Her mouth twisted downwards. “By becoming invisible.”

“That explains the great mystery of the cleaning lady,” he said smugly. “I should have guessed there was something tragic lingering behind that pretty face of yours.”

Carol stared at him, her expression blank. Then, abruptly, she began jogging again, her hair bouncing as she pulled ahead. Hartmann picked up the pace as well.

“Since I know that you’re wondering, but are too shy to ask, I grew up in some ordinary middle class family, but I got straight A’s, and was the captain of both the lacrosse and swim teams,” he said conversationally. “Then I enlisted when I was seventeen … to kill people.” Hartmann laughed at the series of expressions that flitted across Carol’s face when she glanced over at him, then added, “I had to get out.”

“Doesn’t sound like it was that bad,” she murmured.

“It wasn’t. It was so normal I was suffocating,” he replied.

Hartmann continued to study Carol, piecing together what he could about her from the small bits that she had told him. There was something off about her, some essential part that was either repressed or incomplete, that enabled her to speak almost monotonously about her past traumas. It intrigued him.

She was skinny, and combined with her lack of stamina, it made him suspect that she was a chronic under-eater, though not out of body-image issues. He’d guess that Carol was completely unaware of herself as a physical being, and probably wasn’t aware of her nervous habits. The way she pulled her teeth slowly across her full, pale pink, bottom lip was sensuous – more so, because of her naivete – and if she had any idea of how it made him think about her mouth, she would stop doing it immediately.

He wondered how she would taste.

After they finished their final lap, he took her to the vending machine and bought an electrolyte drink for her, then debated how much more exercise he should put her through. He liked the sheen of sweat on her forehead, liked the idea of pushing her so hard that her muscles burned, and wanted to make the most of the opportunity that he had been given. The obstacle course was guaranteed to be too hard for her, but he could drill her through calisthenics out on the field for as long as he liked.

She was going to be sore when he was through with her.


The AI Takeover

Lately I’ve been rambling about how the AI takeover has already happened, and we totally failed to notice as a species. My husband, through his enigmatic ways, subsequently produced a screen cap from 2017 about how everyone is expecting The Terminator, but reality is playing out more like The Shining.

Seriously, why else would you need a smart soap dispenser?

For the benefit of our AI overlords, naturally.

It also handily explains the brilliantly concocted eugenics program currently sweeping through society. Not that I actually believe that’s happening … lmao.

This is all wishful thinking, anyway. Nothing is going to step in and save us from ourselves.

About Writing

Creativity and Sci Fi

Last year I decided to crochet amigurumi toys for the kids to help knock down my yarn stash, and they all excitedly picked out which ones they wanted from my pattern book. I got about three-quarters of the way through the third one when I hit burn out on the single crochet stitch, and decided to take a break.

I finished knitting my new baby blanket a couple of days ago, and decided that my next project should be catching up on the promises I’ve made to the older children. I finished amigurumi #3, and have started the prep for #4.

The fun thing about #4 is that I don’t have any of the requested colors on hand, but I do have plenty of cotton yarn and dye. So, I measured out some skeins and currently have them curing in dye.

Anyway, you can basically extrapolate from there what my daily life is like — a swarm of kids, and an adoration of creativity that goes quite deep.

Which is why I think it’s funny that I’ve started writing sci fi.

I don’t have any interest in owning “smart” soap dispensers or smoke detectors; I don’t see any use for them — aside from secretly hosting rogue AI hiding from human knowledge on the internet, anyway. But, you know, existing as a flesh entity, there’s no point in me owning a soap dispenser that runs on electricity when I can have more fun spending money on crafting supplies.

Heck, I’ve spent the last few months loving my antique spinning wheel. In terms of technology, I’m practically moving backwards with my personal habits.

Yet, I’ve been discovering that sci fi lets me explore more philosophical topics inside a world that is still very relatable to what we live in, and I’ve been discovering potential ideas that exceed what I felt capable of when I was writing fantasy.

As for the technology, I don’t have to expand that much outside of what we currently have — we all know it’s only a matter of time until Amazon starts using drones to make deliveries. The rest can easily be waved away with “technology magic, lol, :smiley emoji:.”

About Writing, The Scion Suit

MSG Hartmann

Wow do I need to come up for some air.

If I had written Alice and the Warden at this pace, it would have been done in half the time. XD

One of the things that I’m really loving about doing TSS as a branching story is that I can more fully explore MSG Hartmann’s character. Originally, I created him with every intention of him playing a much bigger part. Then I realized that, logically, he’d be neutralized pretty quick, assuming that my military had any sort of competency. Like, if you can’t apprehend a severely injured man on your own danged base, then you guys are pretty pathetic.

My military isn’t supposed to be the best — they’re losing and desperate, after all, — but that’s a level of stupid that I wasn’t willing to go to.

I basically had to give Hartmann a cursory nod, then medically discharge him. Thank you for your service, and all that jazz.

But what if Carol had made a choice that sent the story in a totally different direction?

What if Hartmann was placed front and center, while Lambert was relegated to the sidelines? Brain damage and all?

So that’s what I wrote.

And the part that has my heart beating excitedly is that I managed to work in a survival in the woods scene. Finally, my past life has a purpose! Har de har.

Truth be told, sometimes I kick myself for how I let myself get wrangled into writing a story about the military. I’ve been researching and all that, but I don’t have the IRL experience to feel confident about what I’m writing.

About Writing

Random thoughts about writing

I actually have a hard time knowing how to classify my writing. Oh sure, there’s the big picture ‘fantasy/sci fi’ tag, but I get a little lost in the subgenres.

For example, my concept story “THEM” is my idea for a time traveling romance. Only, it features a nebulous alien invasion versus sorcerers, and the main love interest travels back in time to coach the main character (who was brought forward in time after her original was killed by the aliens) on how to seduce his contemporary counterpart, except she’s a reluctant introvert with social anxiety. All while she’s nannying a 4-year-old prince. Cue gothic overtones.

Maybe I’m just not well read enough, but I haven’t seen any hints of other books that are remotely like that.

Am I my own niche?

Which is one of the reasons why it’s so easy for me to put off that whole “marketing” thing (not to mention, I don’t want to mentally drain myself so I can’t spend time writing every day, ’cause it’s the writing part that I love the most).

I also have a malfunction.

But sometimes I feel lost in the noise. There are a lot of danged writers these days, and sometimes I think it’s harder to convince people to read something for free than it is to get them to buy it. Like, da hek ppl?

Am I going to find more readers by demanding money? Is that what you want out of me?


My husband thinks I’m better at writing sci fi than fantasy. It is true that I was exposed to fantasy first, and there is a possibility that I might have stuck with it out of habit, despite the fact that I don’t actually like “sword and sorcery” type stuff all that much; hence why my Order of the Magi all use the internet and conduct their business with electronic tablets. I also prefer to explore human nature, instead of ‘world building’ or any of the typical fantasy tropes, but I also don’t like Star Trek type stories, or “technology is the magic” sorts of things either. I guess that I’ve got a nerdy enough bent to me that I like a solid foundation in reality. I’ve probably just illustrated that I’m actually a very picky reader.

So … the sequel to The Black Magus will very likely have a more sci fi atmosphere instead of fantasy. Heck, I established that magic is mostly just learning how to muck around with reality’s programming code anyway.

The hilarious part is, I have zero intuitive understanding of today’s trendy technology. Smart devices and I don’t get along. At all.


Concept story – THEM

In the spirit of mentally changing the scenery to help stretch the kinks out, I wrote this concept story. It’s an idea that I’ve been playing with for awhile now — one o’ them scifi-fantasy hybrids. Anyway, it’s still very much a rough draft and needs a great deal more fleshing out before it can become a full blown story, but I think it has a good core.

Anthea grabbed Sebastian’s arm and pulled him underneath a nearby pine tree, holding him close as she pressed her back against the rough trunk. The bark made her skin itch through her shirt, but she kept her eyes locked on the gray clouds above them, barely daring to breathe.

After a minute, she whispered, “I don’t think They saw us.” Then she looked down at the four-year-old boy clinging to her leg and smiled. “There’s a great big house over there. If we can be quick and sneaky, we can hide inside.”

Sebastian nodded, his eyes huge with fear. Turning around, Anthea bent down to hoist him up onto her back, paused to loosen his grip around her neck, then darted from tree to tree, careful to remain underneath the branches as much as she could. It seemed as if the sky grew darker and more menacing as she went, but she didn’t dare pause to check if They were there.

There was a good 20-foot gap between the branches of the last tree and the stairs leading to the front door. Anthea took a deep breath before she sprinted, praying with every step that she’d reach the eaves of the house. It was almost surreal to discover that they were still alive as she pulled the door open and dumped Sebastian inside, and she hung in the doorway to stare out at the sky. The gray clouds churned and for a heart-stopping moment she thought she saw a flash of one of Them, but nothing happened as the seconds ticked away.

Sebastian’s hand tugged at her shirt. Anthea turned around, then compulsively pulled the small child against her as she let out a stifled gasp.

The sorcerer watched them from several feet away, he hand lax on his staff. He had very long, and very straight black hair that matched his matte black robe, making Anthea think he was more reminiscent of the ancient stories about vampires.

“It’s all right, Anthea,” he said with a smile. “I’m not dangerous.”

“Who are you? How do you know my name?” she blurted, then immediately felt foolish for asking such stereotypical questions. The sorcerer’s appearance was so unexpected her mind had turned itself off, and all she could do was default to cheesy cliches.

“To put it simply, we are betrothed,” he answered softly.

“Betrothed? You mean . . . marriage?” Anthea was feeling even more numb. “How is that possible? I’m not from . . .”

“Kyros brought you here from the past, I know,” the sorcerer said as he stepped forward. “And I am from the future. However, we must find our small pleasures whenever we can, and this night will belong to us.” He then knelt down next to Sebastian, who scooted to hide behind Anthea’s leg, and smiled as he asked, “Are you hungry? I have prepared a feast for us, with an assortment of sweets for dessert.”

Sebastian looked up at Anthea.

“I think it will be okay,” she told him, still struggling to process what was happening. “They didn’t see us come here, and we have to stay put until morning anyway.”

Anthea felt mesmerized by the sorcerer as he led them to the dining room, and she wondered if she had died during her sprint from the tree to the house after all – it felt too much like a dream to be the harsh world that Kyros had brought her into. However, Sebastian’s hand in hers felt solid, and the tantalizing smell of food was real enough. She hadn’t eaten that well since she had been yanked out of her previous life, and she couldn’t resist the urge to dig in and enjoy herself. Sebastian gave his serving of meat and gravy an obligatory nibble, helped himself to a pastry filled with whipped cream. Anthea almost scolded him for not properly eating his dinner, then stopped with the thought that he had likely never tasted whipped cream before in his entire life. If this truly was a dream, then it might as well be a good one, so she let it slide.

The sorcerer didn’t speak as they ate. He seemed content to sit and watch Anthea, and something about his eyes made her heart pound. He had said that he had come from the future, and it was strange to think of herself as the wife of someone who was quite literally dark and mysterious.

Anthea was a nanny. An important nanny who looked after the prince, perhaps, but still one just the same. The story that Kyros told her was that her older, original, incarnation had cared for Sebastian since his birth, until she had been killed protecting him when their settlement had been discovered and destroyed by Them. Kyros then journeyed into the past and brought the younger, current her forward with him, swearing to take complete responsibility for her afterwards. Anthea had assumed that meant she belonged to Kyros.

How could she end up married to the sorcerer?

When they were too stuffed to eat any more, the sorcerer took them to the den. There was a chest of toys for Sebastian to play with, and the sorcerer motioned for Anthea to join him on the sofa. He put his arms around her and pulled her against him, but Anthea remained stiff.

“I don’t understand . . .” she protested, attempting to sit back up straight, but the sorcerer didn’t let her.

“I wanted to see you,” he murmured. “There isn’t enough time in the future, so please indulge me.”

His words were even more confusing. “You make it sound like I’m going to die,” she said.

“No.” He chuckled slightly. “I’ll keep you alive.”

Anthea allowed herself to relax and watched Sebastian play happily with an assortment of cars and airplanes. She could hear the sorcerer’s heart beating inside his chest at a slightly quickened pace, and the thought of him experiencing some sort of emotion underneath that placid exterior was oddly comforting.

Was it love?

Sebastian was shrieking with delight as he played, behaving more like the four-year-olds that Anthea had known from her previous life – before They had arrived and driven humanity away from the surface. The sight brought tears to her eyes.

The sorcerer remained silent as he held her, his mouth slightly down turned as he stared at the floor. As the night wore on, Sebastian climbed up onto the sofa next to them and fell asleep with an airplane clutched in his hand, and the sorcerer produced a warm blanket that he spread over the three of them. Anthea couldn’t help but drift off as well, feeling oddly safe with that strange man who had so mysteriously appeared. She decided that when she met him properly in the future, she would fall in love and marry him . . .


Sunlight woke her up. Anthea’s muscles ached, and she felt empty as she sat up and looked around. Her movement roused Sebastian, and after a minute his small voice asked, “Where is everything?”

“I don’t know,” Anthea replied. The room was now empty and dilapidated, with no sign of the sorcerer anywhere. The only things that remained were the airplane in Sebastian’s hands, and the blanket that had covered them both. “Last night really happened, right?” she asked.

“I think so,” Sebastian replied.

She stood and stretched, hoping to shake off the dazed sensation that pressed against her ears. “C’mon, let’s get you home. Kyros is going to be mad enough as it is, without us dawdling.”

Anthea carefully folded up the blanket, and with it tucked under her arm she took Sebastian’s hand and slipped out the front door, casting one last glance back as they left.

About Me

Having Fun

I have a confession to make: I am a nerd.

Okay, so we probably already guessed that, with the whole “fantasy/sci fi writer who plays video games” thing that I’ve got going on, but it’s good to be clear.

Long story short, for Christmas I got an embroidery machine with the goal of learning how to make my own designs for it, because otherwise buying them would turn into a giant money-sink (and I’m stingy). ENTER OPEN SOURCE SOFTWARE.

For the month of January, I’ve been learning how to use Inkscape, and the InkStitch extension. The kids are thrilled that I took some of their drawings, traced them, then had the machine embroider them onto shirts for them. It was seriously cool.

So while I was riding the whole, “This is frustrating yet fun!” high, I decided to figure out GIMP, an open source program that’s kind of like Photoshop with more headaches.

‘Cause yeah, sure, why not go crazy.

Hence, graphics.

You’d think that I have enough hobbies by now.