Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Wednesday Brief - I Did It Because I Love You





Here we are again at Wednesday. Not quite as good as last week because I'm back in work and it's bloody cold but hey I'm alive, relatively well and writing. What more can anyone want.

These are two of the photo prompts this week. They have nothing to do with the story I've written but I loved them so much I just had to put them in :)










The prompt I actually used was - something to do with Cher. Brownie points for finding it :)


Passa’el was in agony. He writhed on the ground, oblivious to everything but the pain. It was far more than he would have had just from falling on his back in the dust. What did it mean? Oh God, what did it mean? Fighting the pain he dragged himself to his knees. He was surrounded by people who were trying to help him. He wanted to scream at them. All he cared about was Uzzi’el. What was happening to him? Had Micha’el pulled the trigger before Uzzi’el blasted him? Where was the pain coming from? Was it from Uzzi’el.

As he got to his feet, the pain faded and he was able to stagger across the courtyard, thrusting people out of his way, until he got to the little knot of people who surrounded Uzzi’el. Breaking through, he fell to his knees and almost passed out when Uzzi’el raised his hand and grabbed Passa’el’s, holding it tight. A quick scan reassured Passa’el there was no blood.

“I’m sorry I hurt you. Are you alright?”

“I am now; now I know you’re okay.”

“Okay is such a relative word. I hurt like all hell.”

“Me too. What happened?”

“I think I drew in too much energy, and I didn’t account for the backlash.”

“What do you mean?”

Uzzi’el groaned as he and Passa’el helped each other to their feet. “I didn’t realise that when I threw all that energy at Micha’el the force of his deconstruction would surge back on me, on us.”

“Deconstruction?”

“Yes.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean that I deconstructed him. I did to him what he was going to do to you when you were in his hands. He is gone, his atoms scattered and reabsorbed by the life force of the universe.”

“He’s gone? It’s over?” Uzzi’el nodded but another voice interrupted.

“It’s not quite over yet. There is something you should see.”

The speaker, a woman in a red dress who Passa’el recognized slightly, took Uzzi’el’s arm and drew him away. Passa’el, of course, followed.

A little way away another knot of people stood around, staring at something on the ground. The woman pushed them out of the way. Passa’el gasped when he saw what it was. Uzzi’el pulled away from both of them and threw himself to his knees.

“Gabri’el.”

Gabri’el’s eyes fluttered and opened. He looked totally shocked.

“He…he was going to….” He stopped, choking on his words. Blood was trickling from the corner of his mouth. “He…jumped a guard. He had a gun and he….” He choked again. He was going to shoot you.”

“You…you stepped in front of a gun? You took a bullet? For me? Why?”

“Because….” Gabri’el gasped as a spasm of pain shook him. “Whatever you think I always…. I always…loved…you.”

“You loved me? You truly loved me?”

“Enough to…to…. Enough to die for. Oh dear God.” Gabri’el clasped Uzzi’el’s hand and brought it close to his chest, pressing it against the blood soaked shirt. “I’m dying, Uzzy. I’m dying.”

Tears splashed on their entwined hands as Uzzi’el stared into Gabri’el’s face. “Yes,” he whispered.

“I’m scared, Uzzy. I never thought….”

“No. Neither did I.”

“I wish…. I wish I’d had a chance to prove….to show…. I wish I could have shown you how much I love you. If I could turn back time….”

“I know. Now I know.”

“If I could have…. I thought…. Everything I did…I thought it was for the best. I thought I was doing the right thing…for us. I never thought…. I thought… I thought that when it was over, when everything had settled you’d realise how much I love you, how I only ever had the best at heart. I thought we’d…. that…. that….” Pain stole his words and he coughed thick blood over his chest. “Uzzy,” he cried in panic.

Uzzi’el was panicking too, Passa’el could feel it. As much as he’s despised Gabri’el it was terrible to see him in so much pain and it was clear that he really did love Uzzi’el in his own way. Without prompting, Passa’el reached out for the rainbow energy and carefully shaped it before letting it leak slowly into Gabri’el, soothing his pain and fear.

Gabri’el’s beautiful blue eyes slid past Uzzi’el to light on Passa’el in shock. “You….” he whispered. “You…help…why?”

“Because he’s my world.” He knew he had no need to say more, so he didn’t.

Gabri’el nodded and tried to say something but he couldn’t. As Passa’el watched a spasm of pain sent a deep shudder through his body. He took one, deep breath and then his eyes glazed and his hand slipped from Uzzi’el’s.

“No,” Uzzi’el cried. “Gabriel, no.”

Passa’el gripped his shoulder and continued to carefully pour the energy into Gabri’el. At some point, Uzzi’el must have realised what he was doing, because he gasped and looked up into his eyes. He wanted to smile, but he was too deep into the process.

Eventually, when he was confident, he’d poured in enough energy and he thought he could see Gabri’el’s body shimmering slightly, he severed the connection and stepped back. Uzzi’el threw his arms around him and hugged him tight. “Thank you,” he whispered.

“You told me I’m not the one who kills. You took Micha’el’s life and I….”

Gasps from the watching crowd snapped their attention back to Gabri’el, except he wasn’t there anymore. His empty clothes lay, just bloody rags on the ground, a shimmering mist of rainbow colours slowly rising from them. All eyes followed the mist upwards to where it gathered to make a semi-solid image of an angel, his wings spread behind him. The angel was beautiful, its face serene. The lips curved into a smile, then the wings shivered and the figure rose like a bullet into the clear sky.

“What happens now?” Uzzi’el asked, his eyes still on the sky.

“He’ll go home. We’ll meet again one day soon.”

“No,” Uzzi’el said, turning back to Passa’el, “I meant with us.”



Okay folks, now take some time to check out my fellow flashers







Monday, 25 February 2013

Black Sheep - An Interview With Kia Zi Shiru



Today, I have the great pleasure of interviewing the author of Black Sheep - Kia Zi Shiru. I've been a big fan for a very long time, both of the story and the author, so this is a real pleasure for me.

When you started writing BS did you know it was going to be an epic or did it grow as it went   along?

Black Sheep started out as a three part to begin with. I don’t know why I chose 60 chapters when I decided to write Black Sheep but I did know I’d have three story arcs anyway. Some things have changed their place in the story and some have been omitted fully, but in the end the three parts seem to work best for Black Sheep.

I've got to ask you this although it's cheesy, but it gives me the opportunity of putting pics in the post and you know how much I like the visuals. If BS were to be made into a movie, which I sincerely hope it one day will, who would be your dream cast? For the sake of eye candy you don't have to choose actors/resses

I know people keep asking me this question and I have no clue. Honestly no clue. Sure, the guys playing Vic and Jack should have long hair and Adam should have weirdly brightly coloured hair. But overall, I don’t really know any actors that would fit the age range and have the right looks. Maybe I should watch more movies ;)

Were any of the characters based on people you know?

Yes and no. Some character elements I’ve used you can see in people I know but at the same time, they aren’t those people. All the characters are their own person, I didn’t copy someone over.

During the course of writing the series, including the research you did for them was there anything you learned, about your characters, the process of writing, yourself, that really surprised or shocked you?

I guess that at the start of writing Black Sheep I didn’t yet fully understand the cruelty of the world. As I was doing research and reading about people’s experiences more than once it shocked me how cruel people can be. I might have grown up pretty protected but more than once I cried during research. And then of course during writing. There are scenes that still make me tear up or that I have a hard time reading because they are so gruesome, most of those are in the second book that just came out.

A lot of writers, me included, speak of having the characters 'live' inside them while they're writing them. Characters 'talk' and lead us down unexpected routes in the story. If this is the case, which character shouted the loudest and what did they have to say.

Vic and Adam. They were both very vocal about how and what I should write. There are a lot of scenes that I wrote down but never used in the books for various reasons. But Vic and Adam were the two characters who I had the most ease writing because they felt so real and natural to me. And boy could they yell, they still try to get me to write more but I’m really done with the trilogy.

Is there anything you've taken from the experience of writing BS that will stay with you over time, anything that has affected you deeply or changed you in some way?

Maybe something that didn’t occur to me at the time that I started writing was that it can get better. No matter what happens it can really get better. It doesn’t always, but my life has really changed during writing Black Sheep and at the same time it gave me a lot of courage to write Black Sheep. Black Sheep is not just a story that I made up but some of the things that I wrote about were things that have in one form or another haunted me for years. Black Sheep was my way of dealing with that.

Are there any moments in BS that you associate with something in your own life, in that reading back over them makes you remember something about what was going on in your life when you wrote them. 

One thing I remember is that I did quite a few of the rewrites of Letting go of the Past while I was drunk. I can still read chapter 5 (the Jack flashback chapter) and it still surprises me because I barely remember writing or rewriting it. Ahh well, it is still one of my favourite chapters maybe largely because I can’t remember much of it apart from the pure emotion in it.

 Five years is a long time to have been writing a story. Will you miss writing BS and if so what will you miss most.

I think I’ll miss the comfort and the characters most. These characters have been with me for the past years and they were a big part of me while I was trying to find my own footing in the world. On the other hand, I don’t know if I’ll ever be as involved with any other characters as I was with these guys. Five years is a long time to basically live your characters in certain ways. I knew all their mannerisms that I could write about.

I’ll probably miss that comfort most. On the other hand writing new things is really fun and exciting.

What was the most rewarding thing about your experience of writing and publishing?

Fans. People who talk to me about their experiences and how my stories or books have influenced them or touched them in certain ways. That is one of the most magical things I’ve experienced since I started writing. I love how people seem to connect almost on the same level with the characters as I did while writing them.

Publishing brought me something else even. I’ve found a lot of people who like to write or read within the same genres as I do and I really savour all those new connections I made

What's next?

That is the big question, isn’t it? What is next. More guys, slightly older this time, early to mid 20s. Vampires too, of all different types. Werewolves. Seers. Predictions. Sexy times. A lot of stuff will be going on during the rest of the year. I’ve got 2 series that I’ll be starting to publish in 2013 and I’m looking forward to showing a bit more diversity in my writing.


Thank you so much for these questions Nephy!



Excerpt 3

“So, here we are again.” Dr West sits down next to the bed. “Not talking again, I’ve been told.”

I stare away from him, silently confirming his statement. Memories of the last time I was here have started haunting me and even though I have only been here for a week it seems like the time between then and now has never happened, or at best has been a dream.

“They called me as soon as my holiday ended. They figured I knew how to deal with you. But I’m not so sure about it, Victor. You need to start talking. Everybody is getting really worried. Don’t start hiding inside your head again.”

I know he is staring at me, he is good at that, sitting still as a rock and just analysing my every move. My every blink and breath will be studied and he will write about it and talk to me about it and he will analyse my reaction to his first conclusions and everything will start over again. Until I start talking of course.

“Victor. Victor, look at me. Come on.” Dr West moves his chair so he is sitting at the foot of the bed.

I shake my head, trying to hide my face in my hair, but without my hands there is not much I can do when it comes to hiding. I sigh and close my eyes, not looking at him, not working with him. It’s not like it worked that well last time, I’m back for the same damn reason, aren’t I?

“Your sis told me that your boyfriend moved into your house. How is that, living with him?”

I still. What? When did that happen? How come Jack moved? Is it because of me?

“You didn’t know?”

See, there, he did it. Reading my moves, analysing what I do. Being all psych with me even if I don’t talk. But this time he won’t be able to get me to break. They won’t keep me here forever, they have to let me go at some point.

Where can you purchase this awesome book, and the first in the series?

For Sales Links and more information visit Kia in chaos  http://www.5timeschaos.com/

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Black Sheep Two - Loving in the Present



To celebrate the release of the second book in the Black Sheep series, I have been priviledged to interview one of the main characters, Anne. Anne is the big sister of Vic, the main protagonist, and head of their dysfunctional little family.

Hi Nephy, first my brother and now me? What kind of questions do you have in store for me?

1.  When did you first realise Vic has serious problems

Which one of them? Okay, I kid, I kid. I think the moment I realised something was really wrong was when I found cover stick in his room. Sure, he loved his make-up, some eyeliner and nailpolish and stuff. But make-up to cover things? That set off alarms for me. I had suspected something was off but I could never guess it was as severe as Vic being abused. I think that is probably the moment I realised something more than just regular teen stuff was going on.

2.  Did you find that as Vic's condition deteriorated your own life began to slide.

I don’t know what you mean with slide. I didn’t have the easiest time to begin with. Kevin was born when I was sixteen, at the same time Vic and Adam started dating. But Vic’s illness did have a profound impact on us for the past year. We all got a lot closer and I think we did pretty well. Sure, I had to take days off work to care for him a couple of times, but I knew that coming to the job, they knew it. Over all, I don’t think we’re that different from most families.

3.  Did you ever resent the incredible impact Vic's decline had on you and your family?

Sure, sometimes I wish I didn’t have to always be available. But I chose this myself last year. I chose to be his main carer while our mum took care of the whole family. I think that if I really couldn’t deal with all of this I could have left and gotten my own place. But I love Vic and I want to be there for him.

4.  What do you think of Jack?

He is such a cutie and Kevin loves him too. I think he’s perfect for Vic, just the right amount of strength and innocence.

5.  Do you think Jack ever truly appreciated the depth of Vic's problems?

I don’t know. I think Jack might have been too innocent to really understand. On the other hand I think it’s good that he didn’t. This way at least he really is there for Vic. Someone who can love him for who he is not for who he used to be.

6.  Do you think that Vic's separation from Adam and Adam's subsequent illness had an impact on Vic's mental condition? If so do you think it was so great that if they had stayed together Vic would not have become as ill as he was?

I think those are two separate questions. Sure, Vic had been unstable for a while longer, before he and Adam broke up. But that was just teen stuff. And I think that it wouldn’t have mattered much if they had stayed together or not. On the other hand, Vic’s illness was triggered by his attempted suicide a year ago. I do think the stress of Adam’s illness has something to do with how good Vic feels and thus how bad his attacks are.

If they had stayed together, Adam would still have been ill. I don’t know about Vic, he might not have tried to kill himself and gotten ill himself. But I also don’t know if he would have been able to handle the day to day things like Tom does. I don’t know if they would have broken up anyway.

7.  When did you first realise you were in love with Steve?

Eep, I’m trying to keep that to myself. Okay, okay. Vic answered embarrassing questions, so will I. I think I first realised it probably around November or something. Vic used to hang quite often at their place and that is how I got to know Steve and Sarah. We all clicked so we like to do things like movie nights and stuff. Yeah, I think it was around November that I realised I was interested in him more than just a friend.

8.  Looking back you were the glue that held the family together. Did you realise that at the time and do you resent the responsibility?

Resentment is such a strong word. Yeah, I do get that it was me that has been there for everybody. It just came to be that way. In the beginning I was mostly home with Kevin and after he got a bit older and I finished my school it seemed to be the most sensible thing for me to be the one to take care of a lot of the day to day things. Mum is really busy with her most of the time and I don’t work full-time anyway. So I was in the best position to look after Vic. I don’t always like it, but that is what it is. Maybe one day that will change but for now, this is how we make sure everything stays right.

9.  What are your plans for the future?
A full time job, a husband, a place for myself. I don’t really want anything weird. I wish Vic and Adam get better so that they can really live their own lives and not have to be worried all the time.
I just want simple things. A home, a man and a job.



BIO

Kia Zi Shiru is a Dutch girl studying English and Creative Writing in the UK. Amongst her interests she finds writing, reading, doing research and learning different languages (including but not limited to: English, Dutch, French, German, HTML, Java, PHP and Assembly). Her writing and reading habits include books with Young Adults, gay themes, strong female or minority characters and fantasy elements (more often then not all at the same time).


EXCERPT


Excerpt 1

Vic is lying on his bed, he seems to almost disappear into the rest of the room. He is so pale that even his stark white sheets seem to carry more colour. He keeps his eyes closed, a small wet trail going down his cheek. I clear my throat to get his attention. He doesn’t move but he stretches his arm to me and wiggles his fingers. I gladly grab his hand as I sit in the chair next to the bed. We sit in complete silence for a couple of minutes as I kiss the top of his hand.

“I’m so sorry. Are you okay?” His words surprise me and I look at his face. The tears haven’t stopped flowing and his lower lip trembles, but he has still not opened his eyes.

“No,” I answer shortly and truthfully. No need for lying right now, no use when he is like this. His eyes flutter but he keeps them closed.

He keeps hiding, he keeps thinking of ways to make us feel like he really is sorry about all this. Hiding the fact that he doesn’t think of anyone but himself. We’ve known each other for too long to play these games any longer.

“I’m so sorry.” He tightens his grip on my hand.

“You’re not. You’re sorry you didn’t succeed.” His surprise is obvious as his grip on my hand lessens and I tug my hand out of his. “You’re not sorry for trying. Otherwise you wouldn’t keep your eyes closed, hiding your real feelings. I feel sorry for Jack and the others, they don’t deserve this.” I spit out the words. I don’t know when it happened, today, yesterday, or before this, but I realise I have stopped loving Vic. He hasn’t been the guy I used to love for a long time, but it hits me, unless something changes soon I will start resenting him for hurting the people I still do love.

He keeps quiet for a while, opening his eyes but staring out the window on the other side of the room. “Has Anne signed the papers yet?”

“Yes, they will come get you as soon as they deem you able to leave.”

He tilts his head, now focussing his attention on me. “I told Jack, about Dave and stuff, like you said.” He looks down for a moment before he looks me right in the eyes, a new strength in his movements. I see a small spark of the guy I used to know in the bloodshot eyes. “But I need you to know the full truth too. I’m sorry.”

He sits up and fumbles at his back. I realize he is trying to open his hospital shirt and I close my eyes, hiding my head in my hands. I can’t see it. I know what Dave did to him but it will break me if I ever see it. I’d been able to not to have to deal with that side of it all from the start. I don’t want to have to deal with it now. What is the use? It is all in the past now.

“Don’t,” I squeak. “I don’t... I can’t... Please, don’t.”

“I need you to see. I no longer want to hide this from you. Everyone I care about knows, except for you.”

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Wednesday Brief - In the Arms of an Angel - You Can't Do That To Me







Here we are again at another Wednesday. This week I'm off work and am in the process of decorating. I'd be less exhausted if I was in work.

Okay, I was struggling with the prompts this week so you will have to imagine this is not a woman but a beautiful man with wings. It would be Gabriel not Michael as Gabriel is dark and Michael, fair.







Passa’el and Uzzi’el ignored the outraged cries of the sentenced angels and linked hands. Once more the rainbow coloured light poured from them and surrounded the prisoners. Soon their cries were silenced and they were lost in the maelstrom of colour.

After what seemed like a long time to those who watched, the two angles dropped hands and took a step back. All four prisoners were kneeling on the ground, their heads bowed, no longer bound. They looked – different.

Slowly Micha’el raised his head and glared at Uzzi’el, his eyes burning with anger and hatred that bordered on madness. He got to his feet and stumbled. Surprised, he looked down at himself, studying his hands as if they belonged to someone else.

“What have you done?” he growled, his voice low and threatening.

“What we said we would do. You are now human, Michael. Go learn what it’s like to be human. As your body grows old, remember what you have done and repent of your evil ways. If you can purify your heart sufficiently there may still be a place for you when your human body dies. If not, then you will turn to dust as you deserve.”

“No!” Gabri’el cried out. “Uzzy, please. Please don’t do this to me.”

“It’s done Gabriel.”

“Please, not this, not a human. I can’t stand it. I would rather die.”

“That’s in your hands now. Your life is yours to do with as you please. If you choose to take it then remember this – unless you redeem yourself your body will turn to dust and your soul will be freed to join with the universal source of life. Only if you work hard at being human and make yourself a good one, will you have a chance of regaining what you once were. Learn humility, Gabriel, or disappear forever.”

“You can’t do this to me. You can’t—.”

“As I said, we already have. Now leave. You may collect your belongings from the camp. If you wish you will be taken there and on to anywhere you please. After that you’re on your own. I’d wish you good luck if I didn’t think the words would be wasted.”

Gabriel continued to plead and curse while Michael and the other two angels remained silent. The two lesser angels appeared resigned to their fate but Michael was simmering, already plotting something. Passa'el had no confidence they’d make anything of their chance, neither did he have any doubts they would find a way back eventually. But that was for another time. For now, he put his arm around Uzzi’el and they turned away.

From the droop of his shoulders, Passa'el could tell Uzzi'el was as exhausted as he was. Ignoring the shouts and curses from behind them the two tired angels walked across the courtyard toward the low, L shaped building that was serving as headquarters for the rebel angels, who, it appeared were rebels no more.

By the time he registered the change in the tone of shouts and heard the crack of gunfire, Passa'el turned just in time to catch the flat of Michael’s hand in the middle of his chest, sending him staggering back a few steps.
“Uzzy,” he cried, too late, as Michael grabbed Uzzi’el and pulled him against him with a gun jammed against his ribs.

“Get back,” Michael called and the angels who had been running towards them slowed to a standstill. “If anyone so much as twitches, I’ll splatter his guts all over the courtyard.” He jabbed the gun sharply into Uzzi’el’s ribs, making him twitch and gasp.

“Let him go.” Passa'el knew full well Michael had no intention of letting Uzzi’el go, but he had to try. Uzzi’el smiled at him, his eyes alight with love. Even now.

Michael laughed. “Not a chance, little demon. Give me back my wings. Return what you took from me and I will return what I took from you.”

“I can’t.”

“Oh, I think you can.”

“Then you think wrong. We can, but I can’t.”

Michael frowned, considering. “Alright. Come closer. You can touch him but make a single false move and I’ll pull the trigger.”

Passa'el moved closer and took Uzzi’el’s hand. They gazed into each other’s eyes, non verbal messaged flying between them.

“Do it.”

Passa’el and Uzzi’el nodded in unison and the rainbow began to build.

“Don’t try pulling any stunts,” Michael growled, jabbing Uzzi’el again and making him cry out.

“If you keep doing that,” Uzzi’el said calmly. “I won’t be able to concentrate to do anything.”

“Get on with it.”

Uzzi’el took a deep breath and started to glow again. The rainbow grew and grew until it was blinding, obscuring each of them from each other and everyone else. Passa’el held tight to Uzzi’el’s hand and let him lead, following him along the paths and the currents of their own personal rainbow. It didn’t take long to realise that Uzzi’el had no intention of restoring Michael.

Passa’el fed his energy into his mate as Uzzi’el carefully spun it and gathered it ready to release into Michael. He was somewhat surprised that Uzzi’el intended to destroy him but he wasn’t about to argue after what Michael had done to him, to both of us.

What happened next was so fast Passa’el couldn’t really have said in precisely what order they came.  
Uzzi’el got to the point where he was ready to release the energy into Michael, effectively atomising him and sending his essence back into the universal life source. At what must have been precisely the same moment Michael realised he was being deceived and pulled the trigger. There was an enormous, but silently contained explosion of energy that literally blasted Pasha off his feet. He flew backwards and landed so hard he was winded.

Struggling for air, he managed to roll over and raise his head. Uzzi’el was on his back in the dirt about two hundred yards away, but there was no sign of Michael.



And now on you go to the rest of the merry and very talented band of Wednesday Flashers.





Sunday, 17 February 2013

Revelations - Julie Lynn Hayes - An Interview with Lucifer



Interview


Perhaps some of you have read the interviews that author Julie Lynn Hayes did with my esteemed colleagues, Jesus and Judas. While Jesus is an honorable man, let’s just say that I don’t trust Judas Iscariot very far. He tends to be a bit… how shall I put it… prejudiced? He doesn’t exactly see both sides of an issue. And without both sides, how can you make a fair assessment?

So perhaps it’s time for me to add myself to the equation. You can call me Lucifer.

I’ve chosen to return to the wilds of Wales to visit Nephylim again. Interesting woman. However, I think we shall not speak there. I’m craving something a little more… stimulating. So I’ve sent her a ticket with instructions on how to reach me. I’m waiting for her now. It’s a little spot I know called Divine Intermezzo. The owner is one of Ms. Hayes’ creatures. But never fear, we shan’t be dealing with him tonight.

Just me and Nephylim.

Sounds cozy, doesn’t it?

Well, isn’t this just a fancy place? Haven’t seen so much disco since I was a teenager. Never liked it then, don’t like it now. Thankfully, the other side of the bar is much more to my liking, with candle light and cosy nooks. I know he’ll be in there waiting for me, but the hell I’m going to go looking, even though he is just about the sexiest man I’ve seen this side of Eden. I’ll get myself a drink and see what crawls out of the woodwork. JD, of course. Neat, on the rocks.

She’s standing at the bar, playing hard to get. I chuckle to myself at the nonverbal challenge she’s just issued.  Luckily for her I’m in the mood for games.  With a wave of one hand, I freeze every other person in this place, except for the two of us. Once she’s gotten her drink, of course. I dim the lights to a seductive level. And then I highlight the path that leads from the bar to where I sit, placing a spotlight on myself.
Only way she could miss this is if she was blind, and we know that’s not true.
For good measure, I shower her path with rose petals. Corny, but generally effective.

“Rose petals? Really?” I slip into the booth and put my JD on the table. “The neon arrows and spotlight, I can totally understand but do I really look like the kind of gal who goes for pink roses? You could at least have made them deep red.”

If he thinks he’s going to charm me that easily, he’s sorely mistaken ;although, of course, he isn’t. He knows me better than that. Way better than that. It’s not as if we haven’t met before.

“So,” I say, taking out my tablet. “This thing with Jesus then?”

She wants red, she can have red. Instantly the pink has been replaced by a deep maroon. And I’ve exchanged my grey Armani suit for a black one, with a scarlet tie. I lean across the table and arch an eyebrow. “We can do better than that, you know?” Instantly a bottle of Moet and Chandon Dom Perignon, nestled in a platinum ice bucket, appears on the table along with two glasses.
Yes, I’m a show-off and I know it.

“This thing?” I return her gaze without flinching. “Can you elaborate on just what  you mean by ‘this thing’? “

“I hear you’ve been interfering again. Not that I have an issue with that, of course, I just want the story. Oh, and I thought you’d remember how much I hate champagne.”

I lean back and sip on my JD. Wow, he’s hot. He’s a bit up himself, but then he’s Lucifer. What’s the point pretending you’re not the sexiest goddamn angel in hell?

Having proven my point—namely that the person I choose to please the most is myself before anyone else—I pour a glass of pricey bubbles and watch her over the rim. “Interfering? Moi?” I cock my head, as if considering the question. “I prefer to think of it as enlightening, darling. After all, it’s been two thousand years and neither one has a clue. About time, don’t you think?”

Of course, we have that bet going on. God and I. It’s not like I intend to lose that, but I have many angles, of course. It’s what I do.

“What I think isn’t the issue, is it? Personally, I think Jesus needs to loosen up and get a life, but then I’ve never gone for the ‘holier than thou’ kind, no matter how sweet they are. He’s got the whole puppy dog thing going on. I’d feel guilty whipping him, even if he was begging for it. You, on the other hand….” I can’t help the giggle that bubbles up inside me. Unprofessional, I know, but the day I hear Lucifer begging to be whipped is the day I die and go to heaven, and we all know that isn’t going to happen.

“Seriously though, why this time? After two thousand years of dancing around each other, two thousand years of Judas making a martyr of himself and Jesus…well ,being Jesus, why should things change now? And why do you care anyway?”

“Who says I care?” I counter. “And I never said I thought there would be a change. That’s the point of the wager, love. God says he thinks there will be, I say there won’t. After two thousand years, I think Iscariot doesn’t have the balls. And as for Jesus... well, he’s an innocent. He isn’t about to initiate anything. How can he?” I openly smirk. “Now you, on the other hand, are no innocent, on that I am sure we are agreed, yes?” I reach my hand across the table and trail it along her jaw, lightly tracing a vein in her neck.

“I bet it wouldn’t take you two thousand years to realize that someone had the hots for you, now would it?”

“That depends. If you’re talking about yourself I wouldn’t be so foolish as to fall for that line. We’ve had our times but I’m not conceited enough to think I was ever anything more than a distraction. Which is fine, because that’s all you were to me.  You know as well as I do where my heart lies as far as fallen angels are concerned and sorry, hunny, but it ain’t with you. Not that I’d object to taking a stroll down memory lane, especially if it involves a stop off in the bedroom.”

Well that’s a first! Can it be that the great Lucifer actually blushed? He must be mellowing. He would never have done that back in the day.

“Anyway, we aren’t here to talk about us, we’re here to talk about you. What are you up to these days then? The whole ‘high horse morality’ thingdoesn’t suit you at all.”

 “Trying to win a bet,” I reply simply. “Oh, have you seen the latest gossip?” I pull a copy of a supermarket tabloid out of thin air. It falls on the table between us. On the cover is an obviously photoshopped picture of Jesus in his role as Joshua Stone, lead singer of the Apostles, and everyone’s favorite harlot. “Lurid, don’t you think? I can just imagine how much this put Judas’ knickers in a twist.”

Yes, he can be so very transparent when it comes to Jesus. Makes him so much fun to play with.

“You’re a bad man, a very bad man. That must be why I like you so much. So, what are your plans? Paint such a lurid picture of Jesus you’ll  force Judas out in the open? You’re walking a fine line there. You’re just as likely to drive him away. It’s happened before after all.”

Lucifer is a wicked, wicked man. I just wish he’d be wicked with me more often. If my own fallen angel can’t be with me it’s any port in a storm with me and Lucifer has a very nice port indeed.

“My plans?” I lean seductively over the table until my lips are mere micrometers away from hers. “I’m tired of discussing them. I’d rather talk about something more interesting... like me... What say we tell all your nice readers good-bye and go somewhere more... private? I can easily  make that happen, you know... Just say the word...”
“Let me just close the curtains over this interview. Don’t want any interesting parties peeping in on us do we? Okay…word.”

Bio

Now, I'm sure you want to read more about the power behind the luscious Lucifer, Julie Lynn Hayes

Julie Lynn Hayes was reading at the age of two and writing by the age of nine and always wanted to be a writer when she grew up. Two marriages, five children, and more than forty years later, that is still her dream. She blames her younger daughters for introducing her to yaoi and the world of M/M love, a world which has captured her imagination and her heart and fueled her writing in ways she'd never dreamed of before. She especially loves stories of two men finding true love and happiness in one another's arms and is a great believer in the happily ever after. She lives in St. Louis with her daughter Sarah and two cats, loves books and movies, and hopes to be a world traveler some day. While working a temporary day job, she continues to write her books and stories and reviews, which she posts in various places on the internet. Her family thinks she is a bit off, but she doesn't mind. Marching to the beat of one's own drummer is a good thing, after all.  Her published works can be found at Dreamspinner Press, and MuseitUp Publishing, and she has also begun to self-publish at various places on the Internet.  


And now let's have a taster of what the fuss is all about

Blurb:


Judas has never been very popular, not in any incarnation that he and Jesus and the others have lived through. But he doesn't care about that. All he cares about is following the instructions of God as set forth in the script that they follow. And Jesus. For Judas has secretly loved the son of God for over two thousand years.

But now he decides that enough is enough, and he's tired of watching Jesus die far too early, and for what? This time Judas is determined to see that Jesus lives a long and happy life, no matter what price he has to pay to accomplish it...no matter if he has to make a deal with the devil himself.

Revelations is a story of what could be, told by those who play it out, time after time after time, unbeknownst to the rest of mankind.  They've come back again, for yet another round.  But this time is going to be different. 



Excerpt:


Prologue: God
            It's not always easy to sit on the sidelines and watch what is happening, to resist the urge to intervene in his best interest.  My son's that is. Jesus. But I do so, because I know it's for his own good.  As well as for the good of mankind. I can't let my concerns as his father override my vested interest in the fate of man. But sometimes that is easier said than done.
            This morning I am not alone. Someone else is with me, someone with his own agenda, although we are not as diametrically opposed as some would imagine us to be. Good and evil aren't the simplistic concepts some would portray them as being—there are more grey areas there than you might think. And rightly so.
            He smirks. Too much for my taste, I have to admit, but sometimes he does have his moments, and he too has a part to play in what is happening in the world of men. Someone needs to fill the role of the villain, after all.
            The stage is being set for the third act, the scripts have been handed round, and the actors are taking their places. Will this time end any differently than the others? That depends on my son, on Jesus. I'm thinking this will be the time when he'll make the change.
            "He'll change nothing," Lucifer interjects, although I've asked him nothing, certainly not inquired as to his opinion. 
            I glance at him. He's dressed to within an inch of his life, and wears the most ridiculous sunglasses I've ever seen. I decide not to comment on his fashion sense. "I think he might, this time. I think he's ready for change."
            Lucifer snorts. "It's been two thousand years, and neither one has exactly caught on yet. Why should this time be any different?"
            "Care to put your money where your mouth is?"
            He eyes me carefully. "I would, but you see you have this whole mystic omnipotent God thing going on. Personally, I don't care for those odds."
            I arch an eyebrow. "I may be omnipotent, but Jesus does have free will  and he does possess the ability to make his own decisions. You think I'd stack the deck in my son's favor? Just to win a bet with you?"
            "Let's say I'm taking no chances." He smiles. "Tell you what, though—give me free rein.  Let me do what I want, and you not say anything or do anything to interfere with me? As far as they're concerned, that is."
            I open my mouth to object, he hastily interjects. "No killing, I swear to it."
            That's better. I still have some measure of control over the serpent.
            "So be it." I agree, turning my attention back to where it had been, to my son.  I'm smirking now. Openly.
            O ye of little faith, watch and learn.

  
Now that i'm sure you're desperate to rush out and buy the book, here's where you can find it.

My Links:

My Publishers:
Museit Up Publishing:  http://museituppublishing.com/










Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Wednesday Brief - A Valentine Night's Dream



Here we go on another Wednesday trip down flash alley. This week I've written a special Valentine story. I've done a complete U turn and wrote about women for a change :)

I chose this prompt





The faintest whisper of breath across my lips; the lightest brush of finger tips over my breast, sets my body tingling and tightens the deep parts of me that have been slack for so long.

Moisture pools within the cave of my thighs and the cloying bed sheets are uncomfortable against my prickly skin. Tossing and turning brings no relief, only more unendurable memories.

I close my eyes and let my hands explore my body. My fingertips trail where no others have been for oh so long. I tremble and twitch as I find and explore the most intimate parts of me and, as I delve deeper into my own sacred pool, my mind opens and she is here.

It’s no longer my fingers that slip and slide, desperately seeking those sweet spots that make flowers bloom and fireworks sizzle behind my closed eyelids. She was always good at finding them, thrusting deep inside me to scrape with her fingernail at the place where heaven waits to wrap me in its delicious abandon. And all the while her thumb creating magic of its own. She’s the only person I have ever slept with who was able to bring my clitoris so completely to life, sometimes without even touching it. I have never been able to achieve that myself, but tonight I’m giving it my best shot.

I feel her spirit so strongly as ghostly fingers stroke my belly and cold, spirit lips suckle at my nipple. Oh God she was so good at that. The incoherent moans that escape my lips are given form and float into the distance whispering ‘Mary’.

My hips rise from the bed as my slick fingers thrust deeper and deeper, all attempts at finesse with my clit forgotten. Harder and harder I pinch my delicate areola, rolling the nipple in its rosy bed. Oh God I feel the pressure build. It’s been so long, so long. There’s a damn about to burst and I want to drown in the sweetness of the memory of how, so many times I have lain in this bed and heard her whisper in my ear.

“Come for me, darling.” The voice comes from the shadows, the ghost of a breeze bringing it to my ear and with it comes the inevitability of the end. All things end. All things have their time and tonight is my time to burst the dam, as her voice carries me over the edge.

Hot liquid spurts between my legs dampening the sheet beneath me. No one could make me come like Mary could and, it seems, still can. Panting, I lie and stare at the ceiling, my stomach still twitching with the rhythmic spasms of my orgasm. I close my eyes and hear her breathing next to me. I feel the sheets slide over me as she moves, the weight of her arm on my pulsing belly. I moan aloud and the sound is swallowed by her sighs. “Mary.”

****
I’m not really a superstitious person but this morning when I woke there was a white feather on the pillow. My mother told me when I was very young that white feathers come from angels and if I find one it means a dream will come true. I haven’t thought about my mother for a long time and, as I sat and twirled the feather between my fingers, a few tears escaped. I miss her. I miss them all. I felt so lonely in that moment.

I shook myself, got up and made breakfast, forever practical. A bowl of cereal and a strong black coffee later and I still can’t shake the dream. I’m still tingling. My nipple is sore and I’m damned if I can work out whether that part of it was a dream or not. Did I masturbate to thoughts of my lost love? Or did I dream the whole thing? Damn Valentine’s Day. The whole bloody day yesterday was full of hearts and flowers and dreams of love. I had those dreams once. One year I bought Mary a giant chocolate heart. It took us three weeks to eat it all. Some of it, we melted and…

Anyway, there’s no point in looking back. That part of my life it’s over now, long gone. When I made the choice to move to London, I left it all behind. Left them all behind. Mary made her choice too, to stay. I’ve not heard from her in three years.

Something of dream still lingers and I smile at the memory of her touch, her smell. Unconsciously, my hand brushes my nipple then slips between my legs, lightly brushing my panties which are suddenly damp. Oh delicious decadence, to be masturbating at the breakfast table. Oh. Oh.

Oh shit.

The knock at the door takes me completely by surprise and my face is flaming with guilty embarrassment as I hurry to answer, smoothing down my dress and hoping my fingers don’t smell.

Oh!!

There are balloons. There are roses. There is chocolate.

“You’re a day late,” I say, not knowing what else to say.

“I’m three years late,” she says, her beautiful voice warm like melting honey, the sweet Irish lilt going straight to my groin as I hear the echo of her dreamed words. Come for me, darling.

She looks uncertain now, the smile fading, her arms drooping from the weight of all the pinkness. “Am I too late?”

“It depends.”

“On what?”

“If you’re staying.”

Mary smiles, her glorious green eyes alight with a fire kindled by her flaming red locks. “As long as you’ll have me, darling. If you’ll have a stubborn fool who should have taken the ferry years ago.”

“Oh, I’ll take you, Mary Flynn. I’ll take you right here and now.”

****

Chocolate, ribbon, balloons, flowers and clothes make a path to my bedroom. Bright afternoon sun streams through my window as Mary whispers for the third time today.

“Come for me, darling.”



Now go check out or valentine lovers and their sweet stories









Monday, 11 February 2013

Prossia Blog Tour

I am privileged to be part of the 'Prossia' Blog Tour and am doubly privileged in that I get to post the beautiful artwork of the author who is also a very talented artist

 BIOGRAPHY


Raphyel Montez Jordan grew up in a household sensitive to the creative arts. As a child, his hobbies were drawing favorite cartoon and video game characters while making illustrated stories. This passion for art never left and followed him all the way up to his high school and college years. It wasn’t until college when he underwent a personal “renaissance” of sorts that Jordan took his interest in writing to another level. When he was 19, he started writing a novel for fun, taking inspiration from the constant exposure of different ideas and cultures that college showed him while staying true to the values he grew up to embrace. However, when the “signs of the times” influenced the story and the characters to spawn into universes of their own, he figured he might possibly be on to something. As he studied graphic design at Armstrong Atlantic State University in Savannah, Georgia, Jordan also used his electives to study sciences like Astronomy, Psychology, and Biology in order enhance the reading experience in his story. He eventually made it a goal to have the story published after he graduated, and dubbed the goal “Operation Prosia,” the very same project that would develop into his first published book, “Prossia.” Even though his novel is not necessarily a religious book, Jordan utilizes his Christian faith by urging people to encourage, not condemn, in his story. Best known for ending his PSFC newsletters with “Unity Within Diversity,” he hopes “Prossia’s” success will inspire people to consider and support the positive outlook in the difference human kind can share, whether it be race, religion, or any other cultural difference.

PROSSIA COVER REVEAL




EXCERPT



        Aly easily hid her body within the high purple and green strands of wheat and grass towering out of the soil after she reached her quota at work. She sped up her pace because she wanted to make sure she still had enough time to stare into the sky and daydream, in spite of the extra hour added to her shift. As she lay in the grass and watched the first cluster of stars show up, the mastra rubbed her arms to get some warmth from the chill that harvest time brought.
        Another uneventful waste of a day flowed by as Aly hummed a cheerful tune to herself. As she hummed, the wonders of other worlds and alien creatures passed on by her rhythm. She envisioned beautiful creatures very different from her own appearance soaring into the air effortlessly, thanks to these rumored, flying, mechanical mountains called “ships.”
        The sounds of water precipitating from the sky made smooth pats against the gravel while beautiful sparks of light spread its glory across a gray sky. If the Young One recalled correctly, the sparks were just called “lightning.” She thought it had to be amazing to see the sky form into bubbles of gray puffs, and release water from above. The only water her planet received was from the thick fog and dew of the morning.
        Aly wondered how the other beings live amongst themselves when their worlds were so different from hers. How could they interact with one another without acknowledging the physical differences? What would they eat, wear, and what would thousands of years of advanced technology do to a civilization? Such thoughts rolled on as the hours passed by in the high weeds.
        Even though her mind would travel across the far reaches of the galaxy, Aly always hummed a cheerful tune that eventually led into a song of her own making as she daydreamed. The song she made as she nestled in the grass had an aura that pulled the fire beetles into her being, and complimented her voice as it rose and fell. By this method, she had gained the very will of time itself and could manipulate it in any way she pleased.
       The Goolian was so enveloped in her own world and song; she didn’t even hear the footsteps approaching before they were right upon her. Aly almost sat up when she heard someone brush through the grass toward her, but it was already too late.
        “And what is this? Lying in the middle of my pappai’s field for your own time to daydream, yes? I have a nerve to give you a thorough lesson you shall never forget, Young One,” the owner of the footsteps hissed.
        The figure towering over Aly gave her a glare that would send shivers even down an elder’s spine, but it was also a glare that Aly didn’t really care for.
        “Then perhaps I should remind you of earlier times you decided to give me a hassle, then, yes?” Aly snarled back. “Perhaps a lesson such as the one I gave the prior week has already cleared your thoughts, Mastra?”
        Catty playfully kicked Aly in the rib before she took her place on the ground beside her. She stretched and yawned loudly, and Aly glared at the yellow-eyed spunk as curse words bounced out of her brain.
        “Truly, why not be grander with your noise?” Aly insisted. “Does this one wish to suffer me trouble?”
        “Nay, all seems well,” Catty said as she sat up and looked at the two brown, full bags leaning against each other. “I was to figure I would not delay you until you finished in your typical hour. And finished you did, in spite of a wounded shoulder! Well performed, Mastra.”
        “Why, my dearest thanks, Mistress.”
        Catty slapped Aly on the forearm before she lay back down.
        “I told you, no poking fun in regards to that,” Catty insisted. “I ceased mocking you about such things as your height and lack of inner being, yes?”
        Aly rolled her eyes, and kept staring at the sky. Catty sighed because she knew she’d never get an apology out of Aly, so she let the subject drop.
        “Your shoulder is well, yes?” the spunk asked as she noticed a white cloth wrapped around Aly’s arm.
        “It is still rather tight,” Aly confessed. “Yet a decent slumbering tonight shall help—”
        Aly stopped talking and sat up when she heard a rustle in the bush.
        “Where is your pappai?” Aly asked.
        “He resides in the main house, and he figured it would be best for me to check on you since you’ve suffered such terrible production. Truly though, you only heard a field rodent.”
        Aly sighed and stretched before leaning back down onto the ground.
        “So, what travels do we take through the mind today?” Catty asked. Aly was already slipping back into her trance as she studied the stars.
        “What else besides the wonders of the great beyond?” Aly said. “And nothing beyond what will always be? Simple wonders.”
        “Hmm. Truly, Aly, there are times when I wish such a situation as a war was a reality beyond that of the simple slips of loose tongues.”
        “A random outburst indeed,” Aly said as she popped her neck. “Be that as it may, you still speak truly. It would give good reason for us to be off this rock, yes? To know all, to see all, to have all, I take it the alien fools who obtain such a gift are ignorant of what they grasp. Still, such gifts shall probably never be permitted to creatures to the likes of us.”
        “Well, fret not over the thought too gravely. For I am sure others have thought the same, yes?”
        Aly sat up and fiddled with some beads tied around her tents.  As if acting upon instinct to a subconscious form of communication, Catty got up on her knees and started untying the wooden and common looking pebbles decorating Aly’s head.
        “Truly, I make no fuss over such things,” Aly insisted as Catty tugged. “You know such thoughts are ones that have grown dull over the passing of the years during early childhood. Every soul has a proper order and purpose in the world, and this is ours. Being ignorant of others delegations and situations is of little concern to me.”
        “Then I suppose your age begins to show, in regards to this,” Catty said. She came across a bead that was wrapped in a knot, and leaned her head in closer so she could have a better look at it. “I recall when this one had more wonders and excitement out of any other student when we were first taught about other nations in class.” 
        “Nay, yet I still do,” Aly said as she shook her head. Catty yelped when she lost her grip of the knot she had finally managed to loosen, and thumped Aly in the back of the head. “Apologies, Cattalice. Now, as I was to say, I considered myself to have managed wondering without the notion of absolute dread. What we hold in the palm of her hands is a grand deal, as it is. Nay, it is more than a grand deal. A place to call home, families to hail as our own, and the obligations we have to the village? Who should be in want of more?”
        Catty poked the mastra on the head, and Aly extended her hand out to the left so Catty wouldn’t have to place the beads on the ground.
        “Truly, I find this life, when all must be said and done, to be like these beads,” Aly said as she glanced over at the hand that was getting filled with her head accessories. “Perhaps simple and boring compared to others, yet a proud gem that we are blessed to call our own. Since this be the case, perhaps suffering the troubles of a larger world is better in the hands of alien creatures.”
        “Finished,” Catty said as she dropped Aly’s final bead into the mastra’s palm. The spunk tossed the eight thick extensions that were Aly’s tents onto the right side of Aly’s shoulder so she could massage them with her hands.
        “And I cannot agree with you more,” the spunk said as she gently rubbed Aly’s strands of tentacles individually. “Why, I myself would find it quite a shock to see how the others may live. Did you not hear of the Argutain rumor this afternoon?”
        “The hairies? What else could possibly be new of them?”
        Catty stopped massaging Aly’s tents, and she clapped her hands together in delight. Aly spun around and started straightening her tentacles as she tuned in.
        “My pappai was told that they actually eat the inner rectums of rotten beasts as a delicate formal feast of kinds,” Catty whispered, as if trying to keep the secret away from invisible people trying to listen in. “Is that not repulsive?!”
        “Catty, surely that one must be an absolute exaggeration,” Aly said with a disgusted face.
        “One should never be surprise when it comes to the other races, nay?” Catty answered.
        Aly took that to mind as she turned back around, and laid back down. She grabbed one of her two secondary tents that extended right in front of her ears, and fiddled with it as she started humming again. Catty tried to lie beside her friend and enjoy the quietness for several seconds, but it was too much for her. She hopped back up and started picking out some of the weeds nearby.
        “Perhaps you would like to ensure the fields are beyond ready for the morrow, yes?” Catty asked as she picked. “I only say this in suggestion.”
        “Nay, I am well, my thanks. Truly, I am thus satisfied with my night’s numbers.”
        “My, and how easy it is to speak of obligations and not follow through on words,” Catty scuffed. “I have yet to see how you can be so curious yet rebellious all at once, Aly. You are fortunate I am your closest friend yes? Or perhaps you abuse this relationship.”
        “Perhaps you should try tending to the fields for several hours like the rest of us, then,” Aly answered. “This IS your damned property after all. Let us see how great a lazy ass I am then, yes? Besides, as I spoke prior, I only lie about when I made the evening’s goal and beyond.”
        “. . . A thorough point. My apologies.”
        “Nay. My temper still gets the best of me at times. I am at fault,” admitted Aly.
        Catty dropped the issue, placed the weeds she had picked into Aly’s bag so she could head back to the large hut a decent distance away.
        “Mastra,” Aly called out. “As well as things may be here, how do you not ponder over what the rest of the world is like?”
        Catty placed her hands behind her head and smiled.
        “Why worry over other’s troubles when we should tend to our own?” the spunk asked with a smile. “Truly, we should suffer with the notion of thinking over the greater good and not one’s self.”
        “Perhaps,” Aly said as she went back to gazing at the stars. “Be that as it may, I find little harm in toying with such harmless thoughts, yet I suppose I am an odd one of sorts in regards to this, yes?”
        Catty looked up so she could see what was catching her friend’s eye, and shook her head when she didn’t see anything worth looking at. She then went over and looked at how good Aly’s load was in better detail.
        “I can tell my pappai you made goal for the night if you wish,” Catty said as she kicked Aly’s foot.
        “No bother,” Aly answered. “I shall idle here for a few more moments, if you do not mind.”
        “We never do. Be well then, dearest Alytchai.”
        Aly nodded, and went back to her daydreaming. She thought about what Catty said, not pondering over silly things beyond the village. Maybe the spunk was right. Maybe thinking so wildly was selfish and inconsiderate to everyone else. Aly prayed this wasn’t the case. The last thing any Goolian would want to do was think herself better than the rest of the community. All worked.  All learned.  All did this for the whole unit, not the one. This was the Goolian way.
        In spite of it all, however, Aly could not help dreaming, which helped produce the cheerful hum coming from her lips. Thus, the magic in her voice returned once again.
  

Chapter 2



  
        The following day was another typical one. Sparring sessions ended an hour ago, so it was already a little ways into the evening. The practice, for the most part, went well. Aly couldn’t do a lot of the runs the other Young Ones like Catty could do since she didn’t know how to use her inner being, but she was used to it since that had always been the case ever since she was little. So, Aly would try her best in everything else to outweigh her flaws. And outweigh them she did, beyond reason to most.
        She was very agile. Her defense could use some improvement, but it was manageable. Aggressiveness, she definitely had, and Young Ones always hated sparring against her. For one, Aly was very tall for her age, even taller than males, so she had a horrible advantage in reach. She wasn’t clumsy in spite of her height either. Aly could flip off the branch of a tree and land on two feet without any trouble.
        Aly was quick, smart, and very adaptable when it came to sparring. Beyond the lack of that one “little setback,” she was good, and all the other Young Ones had to respect her for being so well balanced in everything else. Still, that one “little” flaw still bothered Aly’s pride at times.
        While the Young One was sitting at the front table of the store, she held out her arms. She was supposed to be studying the scrolls in front of her, but she began concentrating on her four-digit hands.  Damned objects, why do you not work? Aly squinted her bright eyes, hoping that might spark the trigger. Nothing. She held her breath and flexed her biceps . . . still nothing.
        The mastra sighed and put her arms back down. Silly me. I could not do it then. Why would I be able to do such a feat now?  Defeated once again, she went back to studying the scrolls.
        “You are fine the way Truth’s Grace made you to be,” Shanvi said without ever turning around as he took out a fresh roll of cooked wheat from the oven.
        “Truly I am,” Aly said, acting like she didn’t just try to do something she knew she couldn’t do.
        The young Goolian read down and up several scrolls before she eventually lost her concentration again. It was the window that got her distracted this time. As orange and red as the sky was, as lively as the Little Ones could be while practicing danker ball in the streets, Aly sat at the table, inside, bored out of her wits. Nay. Need to concentrate. These notes are of importance.
        Aly tried her best to study the notes she had taken throughout the entire year. After spending hours and hours into her leavened class book, she eventually had enough, and rolled the scrolls back together with both hands.
        “You have yet to finish,” Shanvi said as he continued to wipe off his counters. “The second sun still sets.”
        Aly banged her head onto the table for a quick second, hoping she’d get some sort of inconceivable mercy from her inconceivable parent. She had gone on with studying for what was probably seven straight hours.
        “Three hours and forty-seven minutes,” Shanvi corrected as he looked at the second sun in the sky.
         It was annoying when he did that, carrying a conversation with the thoughts she would never say. Shanvi pulled down the sides of his old blue vest-like top so it could cover the front of his large belly before he went on with his work.
        “Sigh, permission to speak, Pappai?” she asked.
        “You may.”
        “May I not at least take a break, for Truth‘s Grace?”
        “Truth only offers its Grace when necessary, and the pages in the Philosophy never carried such pages for the sympathies of studying, only the rewards,” Shanvi insisted. “There are thirty and eight hours in a day. You spent ten and five at school, a mere five in the sparring grounds, and the rest here. Surely, it will not kill you to use several hours performing something productive, yes? I along with every other Mature Aged had to take higher ed when we were of your ages and—”
        Truly, and you had to memorize more because you did not have note scrolls as grand as ours. Aly heard this blabbering so many times before, so she grumbled under her breath so she wouldn’t have to hear it. He didn’t even bother considering the time she had to work the fields. Sure, she was at home, but her time was still being given to someone else.
        The Young One groaned. Her body ached because she pulled a muscle in her thigh after she kicked someone in the jaw that afternoon, her knuckles were sore from punching a green oak wood tree, and the soles of her feet were still tingling from walking on rocks during the afternoon.
        The mastra looked down at her hands. Her knuckles were a little darker compared to the rest of her skin. She dug them into the soft fabric of her robe; hoping massaging them would ease the kinks a little. Still, she knew there wasn’t a point in voicing this either. Like Catty said, it was all for the better good. Besides, it was a sign of good “workmanship.”
        “If you are to complain at the dawn of beginnings, do not expect to overcome any feats in the future,” Shanvi eventually added.
        “Very good, Pappai.”
        Aly immediately stuck her nose back into the scroll. No, she would never talk back to her pappai, or any other elder Goolian for that matter. Keep the tongue behind the lips unless spoken to, and be polite when speaking to an elder, this was the rule for everyone.
        Fortunately for her, Aly wasn’t as quick with the lip with the elders like she was with friends. Besides, grownups were beyond her reasoning. Creatures being as old as two hundred were on their own level of life. They saw the world with different eyes, different wisdom, a different power. They were intimidating and boring in one confusing spectacle. Mature Ages also spoke an entirely different language from Aly and the rest of the youth. They spoke ahead of themselves, and always had to speak with proverbs.
        Overcoming feats in the future, indeed. This didn’t matter to the ticking time bomb that was Aly. She just wanted this horror of studying, to end. If anything, a nice little song could help lift up her spirits.
        There were always a handful of Goolian beings visiting the store, buying Shanvi’s goods, and enjoying the live show Aly gave when she sung. Truth be told, most came only for the Young One’s voice and nothing more, but Shanvi had no trouble with this as long as the crowd knew when it was time for his Young One to do her homework.
        Both suns eventually went down behind the nearby mountains, and the first stars were out before Master Shanvi had even finished his last batch of wheat. He patted off the cinnamon-like spice from his hands onto his old gray leggings, and made his way over to the bags below the counter. He made extra, knowing the crowds were probably going to be larger tomorrow since everyone stayed home today.
        Aly was fiddling with her toes underneath the table, anticipating a particular star to come out. When it finally showed up outside her window, the Young One stood up from the table and popped her back several times. After taking a long stretch, she went over to help Shanvi place the goods into the proper sized bags.
        After they had finished, Aly went to the back to wash some heavy black pots. She only managed to finish one pan before her ears picked up the sound of someone walking up to their portal. The door screeched seconds later when a Goolian entered the store. The Young One couldn’t make the figure out clearly. Her eyes were still too young for clear infrared, so she tried to lean towards the right so she could look out the portal. She only managed to catch a glance of his robe. The cleanliness of the deep saturated blue and fine patterns on the robe indicated he was probably their lord.
        “Ah, Master Quongun. A pleasure to see you,” Master Shanvi said with a smile.
        Aly guessed right. Of course it was Master Quongun. Even though she couldn’t clearly make out the figure, she should’ve known by at least his slenderness and healthy height. Maybe the absence of Catty’s mother, Cattalice the Elder, gripping his arm was what made his identification difficult. She did, however, notice he was carrying some sort of bag with him.
        “And it pleases me to see you are well, Teacher,” the gentle-voiced Quongun replied. “Yet I hope I did not interrupt Aly from her studying, nay?”
        “Truly, perfect timing, actually,” Shanvi answered while shaking his head. “She finished but a few moments ago. Now, I beg, sit. Was your day well?”
        “Truth be told, Master, I fear I have some—”
        Two pots crashed onto the floor in the back room when they fell out of the sink. Aly was trying to ease drop on the conversation, and forgot to turn the water off. The mastra fumbled with the faucet and pots before they eventually slipped out of her hands, bumped into an already clean pile, and sent everything tumbling onto the floor.
        “Pache,” she swore. The Young One immediately covered her mouth, hoping the elders didn’t hear her loose tongue. . . Too late.
        “Young Ones,” Shanvi groaned. “They have yet to control those ears, nor that purple tongue. My apologies, Quongun. Perhaps we forgot that little part in raising her.”
        “Nothing of it, Teacher,” Quongun replied with an assuring smile. “Cattalice and I literally have to send Little Catty across the street whenever we have guests. Such nosy creatures they are, yes?”
        The two laughed, but Aly blushed. Quongun turned around and called the Young One over, and Aly slid one foot in front of the other into the dining area. She kept her head down, fiddled with her fingers, and felt more blood rushing to her face.
        “Truly, I beg forgiveness for carelessly eavesdropping onto your conversation, Pappai,” she inclined. “. . . And for the haughty mouth.”
        “Oh, no worries, Little One,” Quongun spoke before Shanvi could. “We were your age at one time as well, yes, Master Shanvi?”
        “Truly,” Shanvi said as he thought for a moment. “Yet it is growing difficult to remember what such an age was like. That was near . . . ninety-seven years ago for me, yes?”
       “A mere sixty-four for me,” said Quongun. “Yet, let me not burden your time any longer. For it is getting late, and I have my own family to tend to.  Plus, I would think it be best that Alytchai be here for this matter in any case as well, Master.”
            Aly looked at Shanvi. Shanvi looked at Aly.
            “Truly, what business would require her of this audience? Her productivity in the fields is not troubling, nay?”
            “Nay, Master. Rest assured, this one is still of the best at work. Be that as it may, I would request that she remain.”
        “Well, then let it be. Come and sit, Aly,” Shanvi ordered. 
        The Young One nodded, and took a seat by her pappai. Quongun picked up the large bag he carried with him into the store and placed it onto the table. He reached inside and pulled out a fine yellow leavened “paper” with a red waxed symbol on the cover. He handed it to Shanvi, who then inspected the construction of the envelope. It was made out of the finest leaf he’d ever felt. He flipped it over to inspect the seal. Aly looked over her pappai’s shoulder to get a look and gasped when she caught a glimpse of the crest.
        Shanvi knew the crest as well. Silky, pressed weeds were finely placed in the middle with two oak-like leaves attached near the upper right. This envelope had to come from their capital. It was a letter, and the lettering traveled back to that of Old Goolian Times. Aly had difficulty reading it since the symbols were meant for proper business affairs, and she hadn’t studied that type of calligraphy yet. She decided to read her pappai’s expression instead. The glares the old gloat made while he read the fine papyrus didn’t look promising.
        After several moments of silence passed, Shanvi eventually looked up at Aly, who continued to stare at the letter. She was already frustrated by this time and renounced on reading it because of the difficulty, but she figured she could at least admire the marksmanship. She looked up when she felt Shanvi looking at her, and she didn’t like how the hard edges pressing around the corners of his eyes looked on him.
        Shanvi, still silent, folded up the scroll before he placed it back into its yellow compartment, and set it onto the counter. Master Quongun remained silent, figuring it’d be Master Shanvi’s right as parent to explain the situation. Aly grabbed a tent and twirled it around her finger so she wouldn’t look so nervous.
        Shanvi folded his hands together so his Young One couldn’t see them quiver, but he eventually had to rub them together since they were sweating. He looked over to Master Quongun, who only frowned and nodded his head. This is not real, Shanvi thought. Truly, this cannot be real.
        “We-these rumors,” Shanvi tried not to stutter.
        Aly raised a brow. What rumors? Truly, there were about a hundred in town this week. She wanted to ask Shanvi to be more specific, but something in her gut told her she didn’t want to know. Whatever it was, she didn’t want to know.
        Shanvi tried to finish his words, but he cut himself off. He looked at the table, and folded his hands in the form of a prayer. Now Aly was scared.
        “Teacher,” Quongun said, “Would you like me to—”
        “The Galactic Order is at arms,” Shanvi blurted out.
        The words didn’t sink into Aly’s head properly, so her eyes widened gradually as each syllable formed a sentence in her head. She knew the old gloat didn’t just confirm the silly rumors as being true, so she couldn’t help but giggle. When Shanvi and Quongun didn’t laugh back, Aly stopped smiling. She tilted her head, and placed an elbow onto the table.
        “With who?” she asked.
        “. . . Cyiaus. The— the Cyogen have returned.”
        Aly jolted and inhaled slowly. Shanvi had to place a hand on her thigh when she didn’t realize that she was tapping the floor relentlessly. Shanvi put on what Aly knew to be a fake smile, and the mastra shook her head.
        “P-pardon?” Aly stuttered. “Yet- yet I thought. . .” Aly's body went numb. Shanvi grabbed her hand and rubbed it when he noticed it started to shake. “Apologies. This is so sudden, yes? I-I thought the planet was supposed to be lost.”
        “Truly, it was the original thought, Little One,” Quongun said. “I fear it was apparently an inaccurate one.”
        Instincts made Aly squeeze Shanvi’s hand that was still resting over hers. She jolted again when he squeezed back.
        “Uh, so, they are not to arrive here since that notion of the rumor be true, nay?” Aly asked.
        Shanvi looked down at the floor, and moved his hand away from Aly’s. He leaned back in his seat, and twiddled one finger over the other.
        “It seems we shall be saving them the trouble,” he said. “The Order has indeed formed an alliance, thus they have requested our aid. We shall meet them on Planet Argutas.”
        “We? You mean by the planet, yes?” she asked.
        “If I may,” Quongun cut in, “You and your pappai must prepare leave for the Capital, dearest. Kutenbrya has been drafted.”
        Aly shot out of her chair, and the masters did the same. She backed up against the bar counter, and almost fell over one of the stools. Shanvi ran over and helped his Little One sit down as Quongun helped himself over to the sink, and got a bowl of water. He handed it to Aly, whose hands had to clutch into fist so they wouldn’t tremble as violently.
        “Drink,” Shanvi said as he took the bowl from Quongun’s hand, and held it up to Aly’s lips.

        Aly frantically shook her pale face, so she didn’t start sipping until Shanvi pressed the bowl onto her mouth.
        “It is well, Alytchai. It is well,” Shanvi kept saying as he rubbed her back.
        “Apologies,” Quongun said to Shanvi as he stroked one of Aly’s tents. “I was not expecting—”
        “The telling of troubling news remains troubling news, no matter how one is to give it, lad,” Shanvi insisted. “Truly, an apology is unnecessary.”
        Aly took the bowl into her own hands after she was able to calm down a little, and sipped slowly.
        “You are well, yes?” Shanvi asked. Aly slowly nodded as she set the bowl onto the counter.
        The three didn't say anything for several moments until Quongun eventually smiled and placed a hand on Aly's shoulder.
        “Fret not,” he said. “There is a village of other households dealing with this heavy burden as well. Speaking of such, I must make my visit short. I am to return home and discuss matters with my own family.”
        Quongun grabbed his bag, and went towards the portal.
       “Truly, how I wish I could have brighter news to give, if the least, stay longer and offer grander details,” he admitted. “And yet the letter fails to mention such useful information as to how the Cyogen even returned.”
        “Nonsense, lad,” Shanvi insisted as he walked over to Quongun. “All shall be revealed in just time, and fret not over your early departure. Truly, you have your own family to meet as well. You honor us by seeking to inform the rest before your own, which is the proper way of things.”
        “My thanks, yet I must give some credit to the village’s former sparring trainer for a proper upbringing,” Quongun said with a bow. “Be that as it may, if I hear of anything new, I shall return to you and the rest as soon as possible.”
        “Very good. Be well then.”
        Quongun took a quick look at Aly before he slid the portal door behind him. Shanvi stood still for a moment, but eventually sat back down beside his Young One. Aly looked like the war had already been lost, and she and her pappai had died months ago. Shanvi placed his hard hand against one of Aly’s ten blue tentacles and stroked it. She could smell the roasted sweets in his “beard” when he kissed her forehead. His kiss always made her feel so shielded, so armed, so protected, until now. 
        “All will be well,” Shanvi said again. “Alytchai, you do hear me, yes?”
        “Catty and I spoke of how we wished such an issue as a war was true the prior day,” the Young One said as she shook her head. “Truly, what fools we be.”
            Aly sat quietly while she tried to come to grips with the sudden epiphany. Shanvi studied Aly’s face, and saw just how much of a child she still was, still decades away from being even a Grown One let alone of Mature Age. Her face still had a little “baby fat” in it, but Shanvi shook his head and cancelled his fears.
        “Hah! Nay. I should not trouble myself,” he said out loud. “And neither should you worry as well, Little One. You have your mammai’s spirit. As stubborn as she was, she was always ready to take on the worlds if she had to. Such is why I can assure you all will be well. Never change, and we shall both be fine for the better. Let us keep the faith of Truth’s Grace, and it shall continue to smile on us even in a time such as this, yes?”
        Aly smiled and Shanvi kissed her forehead again.
        “Your nerves bring you chill, dearest,” he said as he pulled away. “I beg, we will think nothing more of this ‘til morning. Our world continues to turn, and the first sun will bring in a new day. Thus, I suggest you be off to bed, and try to rest your troubled mind. Regardless of the circumstances, I fear that you still have those exams in the morrow, yes?”
        Aly banged her head onto the counter and groaned.


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