Posts Tagged ‘fantasy’

Halloween Howls! Shadow and Shade on Sale!

Posted: October 31, 2014 by writingsprint in Fun Stuff
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For the next 24 hours only, dark fantasy Shadow and Shade will be on sale at Smashwords for only 99 cents!

Halloween wolf

Photo credit: “Halloween 2010” by Katie Brady at Flickr
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Sweeter Than Sunlight

Posted: October 1, 2014 by writingsprint in Fantasy
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heart by the sea

Erica had taken an entire second week off from work on the assumption that Aaron would say yes to her proposal. She had imagined they would spend it having sex, having room service, taking selfies while drinking champagne, cliff diving and snorkeling until it was time to go back to bed and disturb the neighbors again. Instead, they spent another day with Aaron’s family, then a third day on an underwater tour of his world. They did get to disturb Aaron’s underwater neighbors instead. It was awkward at first, but being able to do underwater acrobatics to their hearts’ content had its advantages.

The next day Erica and Aaron passed back through the vortex. Erica felt like she’d suddenly dropped lead weights onto her chest as she passed through. She kicked hard for the surface, then gasped for air. It did taste sweet, and it felt light as feathers on her face. Erica blinked. The stinging sunlight felt good on her eyes, too.

Aaron popped up alongside her. A small pouch about the size of his thumb hung around his neck. He wouldn’t say what it was, but he’d picked it up yesterday. Aaron looked around. “Which way is the beach?”

“It’s behind you. Quarter-mile off, right where we left it.” Aaron worked on treading water as he tried to see it. “So you’ll need to quit your job. I’ll need to get a sabbatical from mine.”

“I can talk to the director at the university where I got my degree. He owes me some great big favors.” He smiled. “Are you sure you want to do this?”

“It’s the adventure of a lifetime. Of course I’m sure.” They were going to split time between her world and his. First they would spend a year under the ocean. Then they would live on land again while spending weekends with Aaron’s relatives. They were brainstorming ideas to work their way around coastlines of the world and see what there was to see.

“All right, then. I need to tell you something.”

“Don’t tell me you’re Bigfoot.”

He reached into the pouch—no mean feat while he treaded water with just his legs—and took out a ring, a pearl surrounded by little diamonds. “I will happily marry you. You make me the luckiest, happiest man on Earth or sea. Will you marry me?”

“Come here, you goof.” She kissed him. Aaron tasted like salt and stars. She hugged him. “Yes!”

I liked this one! The end felt a little rushed and I want to get into Erica and Aaron some more, but overall I liked the characters and the otherworldliness of the story.

Photo credit: “Lovers in a Heart” by Michael Coghlan at Flickr
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You Knew I Was Crazy

Posted: September 30, 2014 by writingsprint in Fantasy
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sea turtle

The shark’s whole body shook. It went from swimming like a missile to swimming like it was drunk. For good measure, Erica gave it her volleyball move and slapped it on top of the head with her tail.

The shark had enough. It headed for deep water. Erica hoped she didn’t hurt it enough to kill it. The shot from her shoulder probably bruised a patch of cartilage. The tail slap wouldn’t have tickled, either. It really was a beautiful animal, and like any good biologist, she preferred to study them alive than dead.

Erica made sure it was gone. She caught up to Aaron, and the two of them started pulling Jory up the reef together.

“You’re crazy,” Aaron said.

“Yeah, well. You knew that when you started dating me.”

His teeth flashed white, even in the shadows of the reef.

Aaron’s family rushed to help Jory as they returned to the picnic area. Yurri and Kenia stayed close. Others went to get doctors. Erica wondered what the merpeople’s hospital would look like. Floating on a bed of luminescent kelp?

“You should’ve seen her, mom,” Jory said. He smiled at Erica as his mother held him. “The shark never had a chance. She turns tight like a corkscrew, heavy as dolphin. I’ve never seen anybody swim that hard.”

“They have corkscrews here?” Erica asked.

“Similar, yeah,” Aaron said.

Erica waved Jory off. “Don’t try to swim like me, kiddo. I’m unique where I come from, too.”

A group of merpeople showed up: two fishy, two squidly. They treated Jory’s wound with some kind of salve, then wrapped it in a bandage made of something that looked like spider silk. Erica was dying to steal a sample of both. Then they placed Jory on the back of the largest sea turtle Erica had ever seen.

As they prepared to leave, Yurri and Kenia came over to Erica and Aaron. Kenia took her hands. “Thank you for saving my son.”

“It’s… anyone would have done it.”

“That’s ridiculous, dear.”

“I’m glad I was here to help. And you’re very welcome.”

“Please stay with us as long as you like. I’m looking forward to getting to know you.”

Photo credit: “Giant Green Turtle-01” by Dominic Scaglioni at Flickr
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The Better Swimmer

Posted: September 29, 2014 by writingsprint in Fantasy
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shark teeth

Erica watched the tiger shark’s shadow on the far side of the pillars. It was sticking around, back and forth. This guy was certain he had a nice meal waiting for him. Erica tried to remember the shark attacks on smaller fish that she’d seen on her dives. Which ones had lived?

She said, “We know he’s coming. So we go after him. It might scare him off.”

Aaron gulped. “All right.”

“Not you.”

“What do you mean, not me? I’m the merman, remember?”

“You gulped. Whoever does this can’t blink.”

“There’s no way I’m letting you go in alone.”

“We can’t leave Jory. If it gets past me—and it won’t—you need to protect him.”

Jory shook. The blood cloud was gathering around his waist while they sat here talking about it. “I feel cold,” Jory said.

Erica said, “That’s shock. We’re out of time.”

Aaron held her face close to his. “I love you. I’m doing this.”

She kissed him. “Love you too. Sorry.” Then she shoved him back at Jory and kicked toward the edge of the coral forest as hard as she could.

Aaron swore. Erica didn’t want to tangle with a tiger shark, either. She was the only choice that made sense. She could swim faster than he could with legs, and from what she’d seen already she could swim faster with fins, too.

The shark had been circling left. She came right at it. It darted away to the right, then went up and backed off from the edge of the forest. That brought it right into Erica’s path. Erica swam at it and punched its gills as she went by. The shark shook its head roughly. She heard its jaws chomping water behind her. The ripple from the first chomp washed her fin. Erica snapped her legs—her tail—like a whip and had another half body length by the time the shark chomped again.

Jory and Aaron had cleared the edge of the forest. They were making their way up. Aaron kept one hand on Jory and his eyes on Erica.

The shark started after Erica. She kept kicking. She gained distance. Then it turned. It moved its head from side to side. Erica could hear it breathing. It headed toward Jory and Aaron.

Erica tucked her legs, did a flip turn and charged the shark. She remembered how fast he turned the first time.

The shark approached them in a circle, checking them out first. Jory kept climbing. Aaron stayed with him, but turned to watch the shark. It breathed faster. Jory’s blood must have been filling him with hunger. Erica had seen curious sharks before. This one had the impetuous need of one heading for an easy snack.

It darted for Jory. Aaron started towards it but Erica met it halfway. She tucked her head and rammed it in the midsection with her shoulder. If sharks could cough, that was the sound this one made.

Photo credit: “shark teeth” by Scott at Flickr
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Hunted

Posted: September 23, 2014 by writingsprint in Fantasy
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tiger shark

“Hold the wound. Keep pressure on it,” Erica said. Jory moaned. “Try to stay quiet!” Many marine animals hunted by the sound of a struggling fish. Erica thought fast. “Let me pull you. Aaron, you’re the native. You keep watch while we swim back.”

“Then you’re both a target,” Aaron said.

“A great, big target that a predator might not want to mess with.”

“Can we just go?” Jory said.

“Atta boy.”

Aaron rolled with it. With Jory’s arm tight around the wound, only one of them could pull him at a time anyway.

She wasn’t worried about the barracuda. People attacked by them usually got bitten but then the attack was over. Having her and Aaron nearby would probably keep it away. The blood from Jory’s wound bothered her. It would attract sharks up to a quarter mile away, assuming there was one to attract. Worse, dragging him wasn’t working. Even if he was completely still, she had to struggle to keep him moving, so then she sounded like the struggling prey instead.

“I would kill for a cell phone so that we could call for help,” Erica said.

“We have special sea shells for that—” Aaron said.

“Can you say that three times fast?”

Jory laughed. Good sign, kid.

“—I just haven’t owned one since I left for the land.”

Erica thought she saw a shadow. Aaron swam a tighter circle above them, looking in the same direction.

“Do you see something?” Jory asked.

“You can start kicking now. Just keep it smooth.”

“If I get out of this I’m going to find that barracuda and have him for lunch!” Jory said.

“Good attitude. Keep it up.”

The shadow followed them outside the coral columns. There wasn’t enough room for it to reach them.

“Tiger shark,” Aaron said. He came down to help pull Jory, grabbing him by his waist.

“What do we do?” Jory asked.

“We’ve got your back. If he gets past us, go for the gills, eyes and nose, buddy,” Erica said. She looked at Aaron. “Don’t you teach your kids this stuff?”

“Do you teach people the soft spots for fighting bears?” he asked.

She shrugged. Fair enough.

They were almost to edge of their cover. They had to swim up to get back to the rest of the family, about thirty or forty yards. The shark would cover that in the blink of an eye. Erica caught a glimpse of it. The beautiful creature stretched nine feet long, maybe four hundred pounds, with black and gray stripes. If she hadn’t been helping a wounded boy, she’d want to sit here and marvel at its grace.

Photo credit: “Tiger Shark!” by Miusam CK
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Blood in the Water

Posted: September 22, 2014 by writingsprint in Fantasy
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blood in the water

People started fanning out. There had been six adults and six kids, including Jory. The rest of the kids huddled close and swam down toward the reef. Yurri stayed with them. His wife Kenia—Aaron’s aunt—swam over to them. She looked like a cuttlefish as well, only with different coloring from Yurri. So how in the world did Aaron have green scales?

“Sorry to be introduced like this,” she said to Erica. “You two should stick together. You’re a good swimmer but I don’t want you getting eaten on your first day under the sea.”

Erica got her head back in the game. She gestured behind them, away from the party. “We’ll look this way?”

“Good idea. I’m going to talk to the rest of the family.”

Erica and Aaron swam off. “How far could he have gone?”

“Not far. That’s what worries me.”

“Do you think he saw a pretty girl and he’s off flirting somewhere?”

“I wouldn’t put it past him. Though with the ball I’d think he’d at least bring it back.”

The coral dropped away about forty feet farther down. Erica glanced up at the surface and they descended. She had to be down at least a hundred feet now. It was miraculous that she could even see – was that the moon? Amazing…

Wait.

By the moonlight, Erica thought she saw a flash between a pair of rocks, like light on silver. She pointed. “Was that a fin?”

They started over. There were more coral towers here. Erica and Aaron swam between them. Erica watched above her as well as below. The sensation of hair standing up crawled all over her skin.

Jory huddled between the rocks. At first Erica felt relieved – he was just a kid, barely her nephew’s age – but by the look on his face he wasn’t playing some kind of stupid hide and go seek game. His skin had the shiny pallor of wax. He had his arms pressed against his sides. The water clouded with blood around his waist.

Aaron reached for him. “Come on. We have to go.”

“No. It’s out there. You need to get help.”

Erica kept her eyes open. “I don’t see anything.”

“Jory, you can’t stay here.”

“It’s out there. Come back with people.”

“You’ll be dead by the time we get back. We have to move.”

“No.”

Erica used her navy voice: “Jory get your ass out of those rocks or I’ll make a tuna fish sandwich out of it!” Jory was so shocked that he didn’t resist as Aaron pulled him out.

Photo source: Scott Duncan Blog, used without permission

Who Brought the Ringer?

Posted: September 20, 2014 by writingsprint in Fantasy
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fish school and shark

Erica had to do some mental resets when she played pufferball. The game didn’t have a net. Instead, the players swam in a circle, hitting the ball to each other in a three-dimensional hackey sack match. You had to pass twice before you hit the ball, and you could hit the ball with any part of your body. You had to hit it at the other team. If it went wild, the other team scored a point. From there, the other team had to pass twice and then hit the ball back. If someone flubbed their pass, you scored and got the ball back.

Erica passed to Jory, who passed to Aaron, who set up Erica for the third hit. She knew she was getting more than her share of sets, being the guest and all. She wanted to make them proud. Erica smiled, then tucked what would have been her knees to her belly, snapped her tail out and smacked the ball like a baseball bat. The slap sounded like a gunshot. The ball hit uncle Yurri in the arm and bounced away from him before he could pass it.

“Who taught her that?” Yurri asked. He shook his head. Others were applauding.

Jory slapped tails with Erica, an underwater high-five. She laughed. Aaron swam over and hugged her. “You’re getting the hang of this!” he said.

“I’m a water baby. I spent my whole life swimming.”

Jory looked around for the ball. People were so busy ooh-ing and ahh-ing that no one paid attention.

“I think you’d fit in down here. How do you feel about it?”

Erica’s grin broadened. “Is that a yes?”

“It was always yes. The question’s whether it’ll work.”

Erica pushed his shoulder. “You could’ve said ‘yes’ on the beach, then. Would’ve made the moment a bit more romantic, don’t you think?”

“Yes. Guilty. I didn’t want to get your hopes up before you had a chance—”

“Where did Jory go?” Yurri asked.

Erica and Aaron looked at him. People looked at each other. Yurri and others swam in circles around the group. People started looking.

“Jory?”

“Jory…”

“How far could a dumb ball go?”

Erica let go of Aaron. She kicked upward to get a better view. She felt what would have been hair standing up on her arms. The metaphorical eyes in the back of her head were looking around. She’d felt this before in the field, when twilight fell. When predators came out. The fish the separated from the school always got eaten.

Photo credit: “shark and fish” by Rennett Stowe at Flickr
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Underwater Barbecue

Posted: September 18, 2014 by writingsprint in Fantasy
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barracuda

“Ariel! Ariel’s back!” someone called.

Yurri backed up—actually, he floated upward—and let the crowd swarm Aaron and Erica. Kids and adults alike smothered Aaron in hugs. Erica smiled. “Ariel? That’s your real name?”

“I would’ve kept it for my land name if it wasn’t for the movie,” Aaron said. “Hi! Hello! It’s great to see you too.”

Then Erica was surrounded too. She smiled and kept shaking hands, flippers, tentacles and claws.

“Are you his human friend?”

“You have beautiful eyes. Aren’t they lovely?”

“Hi! I’m Ariel’s brother Jory.”

“Welcome! I’ve been wanting to meet you.”

“Do you know how to play pufferball? We need a fifth player. We can teach you if you want.”

She would have been put off if she hadn’t been studying marine life ever since she was a little girl. It felt like a cross between a zoology study, a dream, and a family barbecue. In the back of her mind Erica tagged them with their animal selves — angelfish, butterflyfish, cuttlefish, blue crab — while the front of her mind tried to collect names and places on the family tree.

“It’s wonderful to meet all of you. I hope you don’t mind if I need to ask you your names again later.” She whispered to Aaron, “Nobody said they’re your aunt.”

“I don’t see her. I’ll ask uncle Yurri when he comes back.”

Erica looked above her. Then on her sides, then below. Remembering that she had to did it all the time when scuba diving, but not at family get-togethers. She didn’t see him. “Where do you think he went?”

“Probably to find her. She doesn’t like crowds.”

“Schools of fairy fish, a reef teeming with life, and she doesn’t like crowds?”

Some of the kids started trying to drag her over to play pufferball. Then they scattered.

The adults nearest the reef stayed still. Those in the open moved together. A barracuda circled the area. It looked bigger than any barracuda she’d ever seen. Was she smaller? Erica realized she didn’t care. In the field, she didn’t want to disturb the wildlife, but looking at the kids hiding in the reef crevices, she had family to protect.

She thought it looked at her. Did it sense the newcomer? Erica stared back. She wondered how she’d fight it. Grab a rock? She’d fight it any way she had to.

It finally moved on. People started breathing easier as it disappeared. “That’s right, fangs. Keep moving,” Erica said.

Jory said, “I like your girlfriend, Aaron.”

Aaron smiled. “So do I.”

Photo credit: “Great Barracuda” by Andy Blackledge at Flickr
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The Little Things We Give

Posted: September 17, 2014 by writingsprint in Fantasy
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blue coral

They swam farther down into the city. Erica looked more closely at where she could see light. It mostly depended on whether there were merpeople in the area. They shed their own light. Some of the coral growth or plant life reacted to them, too, shedding soft glow like flower-shaped glow sticks. Erica smiled as she imagined a mellow underwater rave party. With her own golden eyes, she wondered if she was seeing something chemical, electromagnetic, or even body heat.

Aaron and Yurri led her through a growth of towers of elkhorn coral. It almost made Erica weep to look at them—they had to be twelve feet high! Tropical fish that she couldn’t identify swam around them, and plants with translucent tubular leaves grew out of crevices in the rock beneath. What did they look like with her normal eyes? Lumps of gray? Would she even see them at all? They shifted in color from green to blue to purple as the swam past them, back to blue, to green.

“Why did you go to the surface?” Erica asked Aaron.

“I ask myself that every day,” Yurri said. Erica looked at him. He grinned. She remembered her New England relatives, where snark was an expression of love.

Aaron didn’t even notice. “I wanted to know what it felt like to breathe air. I wanted to see snow and climb a mountain.”

“We have snow under the sea,” Yurri said.

“We have ice. Snow’s more fun,” Aaron said.

“We have mountains.”

“But you can’t climb them. We swim down to them, not up.”

“That’s why you wanted to go hiking in the Blue Ridge mountains when we took that weekend away.”

Aaron smiled. “Yeah. Thank you.” She had wanted to go scuba diving. He’d had his heart so set on the mountains that she couldn’t turn him down. He’d made it up to her with scuba a month later.

Other merpeople started coming toward them. Erica stopped counting after she saw ten. They were all shapes and sizes, old and young, some part fish, others part sea turtle, squidly things, and one even looked to be crustacean. Erica would have goggled at them if she hadn’t been curious out of her mind and excited to meet Aaron’s family. She only wished some of her own relatives and friends could be here too—which felt strangely normal to think, which made it feel out of place in this underwater dream world.

Photo credit: “IMG_8085.JPG” by eyeliam at Flickr
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First Feeding

Posted: September 13, 2014 by writingsprint in Fantasy
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vampire girlBloody and sated, Alyson made it home at about 11:30. She wasn’t sure what time it was. Her watch was broken. The electronics on her phone still worked, but the face was cracked so badly the colors sprayed whatever was behind it like a kaleidoscope. That and the blood stains kept her from reading it. Alyson was too upset to remember that her car had a clock on the dashboard.

She stood in the foyer. Mud and blood had to be streaking the marble tile. “Father,” she called. The sound echoed through the house. She’d barely spoken, but the reflection of her voice had never sounded so loud.

He came running from the library, barefoot and robed, white hair blown out wildly behind him. “Allie. Allie girl, what happened?”

Her father stopped when he saw her. His hands dropped. “What happened?”

“What does it matter?”

He sighed. “Of course not.” He shouted, “Renfield!” The twitching lump of a man came running in from the kitchen. He had crumbs under his fingernails and mustard on his lips. “Go to Smiths’ residence. I believe there’s been an accident. You know what to do.”

“Yes, master,” Renfield said. He normally would have walked past Alyson and left by the front door. This time, he backed away how he came. He didn’t turn around until he had gone all the way back into the shadows.

Alyson wanted to be shaking or screaming. Instead, she wanted more blood. “When does it stop? The thirst?”

“Never. You will master it. Like your mother and I taught you to master watching too much TV and eating too much junk food.”

“It felt good. I wanted to stop. I tried. The more angry and fearful they got the thirstier I became.” A single tear fell from her eye and mixed with the blood. The teardrop swirled with red ran down her face.

“It’s who we are. Why don’t you go clean up?”

“Why don’t I stay this way forever. It’s who I am.”

He folded his arms. “I understand. It’s difficult at first. Go ahead and stay that way for a while. It might help you to accept that things are different now. It’s ugly. It’s frightening. But it’s the truth.”

Alyson pushed past him. She didn’t want to hear his truth. It was hard enough to be a teenage girl who had an allergy to sunlight. Now she had to deal with vampirism, too.

Photo credit: “You Have to Invite Me In” by alicexz at deviantART.com. Used without permission.