Tag Archives: Creative Writing

Always Return Part I

Water always returned to the sea. In rain, in sleet, in rivers and streams it flowed. Through impenetrable bedrock and packed earth it bored, patient as time almighty. Past boulders and forests and cities it burbled. Always maintaining one mistress in mind… the great salt ocean that cradled each drop sweetly, before allowing it to ascend the heavens in purifying evaporation.

At times, I felt as insignificant as a single raindrop. Despite the confident gleam in my eyes, despite the steely muscles in my body, despite the godlike powers that waited on my whims… I could be a lonely bead of moisture on the canvas of a sweat-tent in Fallien. I could be a minute mouthful drunk by a Dur’Taigen from a river in the Red Forest of Raiaera. I could be a molecule on the bottom of the ocean, kept from ascension by the pressing weight of water above. She made me more… the immortal and indomitable she, the lady of the sea… my goddess, Am’aleh.

The last words she’d spoken haunted my memory as I lay in bed next to McKinley Parish. My mortal lover slept soundly, her auburn hair in disarray around a beautiful cream-colored face. Her innocence attracted me, her need of a strong man stayed me at her side. Her hunger for me electrified each pore of my skin, and her trust and devotion made me proud. Even so, she could not claim my whole heart… a part of me forever belonged to my goddess.

Always return to me… Am’aleh’s voice, as soothing as drizzle in the treetops, echoed in my mind. Weeks had passed since last I felt her endless embrace. In that time my connection to the Eternal Tap dwindled, and my affinity for water and ice magic failed. I felt like a kinked hose. Power flowed into me with each breath, and lingered, finding no release.

Sitting up slowly, I kissed McKinley on her forehead. The young woman’s lips parted slightly, and then she rolled over, still deeply asleep. I slid out of bed and padded silently across the room, naked and comfortable in my lover’s cottage. I drew on a pair of black sifan pants and a matching shirt, fastening the buttons with fingers that moved faster than eyes could follow. I stepped into my black metal boots… the Breaker Boots, given my namesake by the alchemist who created them. They whispered over the wooden floors as I approached the back door. McKinley’s dire wolf always slept by the front.

The breeze plucked at my clothing and ruffled my short brown hair as I closed the door. Stars stared down from the sky in imitation of the moon’s silver light, a thousand fractured fragments from a thousand ethereal mirrors. I rubbed a callused hand through the stubble on my chin and over the Y-shaped scars on my cheeks. I could smell the ocean on the wind through the forest’s earthy aromas. The scent of salt called to me like a lover’s curled finger.

I walked through the meadow surrounding Kinley’s cottage, haste urging each step to carry me faster and further. I broke into a run as I reached the woodland path, loam crunching beneath the Breaker Boots, leaves and motes of dust swirling in my slipstream. I raced through Concordia like lightning lancing through the night sky, grounding with every step. Soon I could hear the crash and roar of the ocean… never silent, never restful, always waiting.

Always return to me… Am’aleh’s words filled my mind, forming a desire as singular as any addict’s cravings. I kicked my boots off on the beach and dove into the surf, tasting my lady’s salty sweetness in my nose and mouth. Her arms surrounded me, her touch a gentle but steadying caress. Her love lifted me, buoying both body and spirit, until I surfaced some hundred yards offshore. The waves and currents had a soft feminine voice that spoke for my ears alone.

You stayed away longer than expected.

Read the full story here!

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The Death of a Deity Part V


The fearsome beating of the dragon’s wings battered the name from Breaker’s mouth. He and Shinsou both recoiled, covering their eyes against the silt raised by the whirling winds. Above them, the deity wheeled and dove, like a hawk spotting a mouse, exposed on the cliffs.

“You had to go and pick a fight with Thayne, eh?” Shinsou yelled, drawing Stygian and channeling a measure of dark matter into the blade. “Here,” he tossed the mythril sword to Josh, “see how the big f*cker likes a taste of the Widowmaker!”

Breaker reared back and threw the sword at the diving dragon. It spiraled skyward like reverse chain lightning, scoring a hit deep in the soft tissue of Draconus’ eye. The deity roared and reared out of the dive, wings beating heavily once more to keep him aloft as he clawed at the seeping wound.

“It’s now or never!” Shinsou called over the wind. “That blade will stop him healing, but not for long.”

As if hearing the words, Draconus looked earthward and belched a long plume of acrid fire. Josh and Shinsou dove out of the way and crafted a barrier of ice between them and what became a roiling lava pit. Frost flew from all four of their palms, forming a slightly curved wall. A pillar of steam rose from the place where heat met cold, obscuring the deity’s good eye.

“I could use a lift about now,” Josh uttered, and began to change the shape of their icecraft.

“Coming right up,” Shinsou replied, lending his own brand of magic.

The frozen wall re-shaped into a tall flight of stairs. Josh leaped forward and pounded up the steps, his enchanted boots giving him perfect traction on the slippery surface. Each footfall reminded him of the burns on his feet, and of the ache that Draconus’ kick had chiseled deep into his bones. They reminded him of Am’aleh, who granted him the gift of magic. They reminded him of Shinsou, whose life was equally at risk.

Breaker reached the top of the staircase and jumped with all of his might. He soared upward, drawing close to Draconus, but not close enough. He extended a hand as he reached the apex of his jump and crafted a long whip of molten ice. It snapped up and wrapped around the dragon’s massive, scaly neck. Hand over hand Josh climbed the whip, until he clung from one of the broad spikes that bristled along the beast’s back.

You cannot defeat me. The simple confidence of the thought nearly unnerved the demigod.

“Others have said the same!” Josh roared in the dragon’s ear.

You have never faced a Thayne.

“No,” Josh said, “but I have loved one.”

He vaulted onto Draconus’ back and leaped skyward once more, flipping faster than a tossed coin. As he rose above the dragon two balls of ice formed in his palms, and he poured his own unique energy into each of them. As he descended, still corkscrewing and gaining momentum, he cast the iceballs at Draconus’ wings. They exploded with more power than Alerian hand grenades, causing both wings to instinctively fold in defense.

And then Breaker struck the top of the dragon’s head with both boots. As the blow landed the boots grew heavier, each by a hundred pounds. Josh summoned an unnatural gust of wind to aid him, adding more pressure to the base of the deity’s skull.

Draconus fell like a cannon detached from an airship. He plummeted like a stone thrown down a well. He dropped straight and fast, headfirst toward the sandstone cliffs. His mighty wings flared, but too late, and too weakly to stop such momentum. His skull impacted the soft rock like an asteroid, creating a crater of obliteration and casting up a cloud of sand and dust. Breaker felt the deity’s neck crack beneath his boots at the moment of impact, and as the dust and debris settled, the dragon lay still.

Josh slid down the scaly snout and retrieved Stygian from the ruined eye. Its twin had glossed over, massive and yellow, staring lifelessly off into the gathering darkness. Breaker climbed out of the crater and paced to where Shinsou stood a safe distance away. For once, the Telgradian appeared at a loss for words. Josh deftly flicked blood from the mythril blade and returned it to its owner.

“Well, fine then.” Shinsou huffed, finding his voice as he sheathed the sword. “But next time, I get to kill the dragon.”

Thayneslayer… the word came from the sea, distant and dreamy and distinctly feminine. Breaker would have recognized his lady’s voice anywhere.

My champion… Am’aleh was calling him. The breaking waves beckoned like a lover’s crooked finger. Josh took a step toward the ocean.

“Where are you going?” Shinsou demanded, “look,” he pointed toward Serenti, “we’ve got some explaining to do!”

People were beginning to trickle out from between buildings and behind walls, curious onlookers who had seen the dragon take to the sky, who had seen it fall, and stay fallen.

“Someone will need to take credit for all of this,” Josh said, “and I think you are just the man for the job.”

Shinsou sputtered, looking back and forth between the demigod, and the deity whose death he had helped bring about.

Before the Telgradian could protest, Breaker took two steps and dove off the cliffs and into the sea.


Read the whole story here: http://www.althanas.com/world/showthread.php?31781-The-Death-of-a-Deity

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Featured Image -- 208

The Pixie vaulted over the arena’s high wall and landed on the roof with a familiar flourish.

I smiled and snuffed out the cigarette I’d been smoking. The two hour wait was well worth seeing her again, and I hadn’t been bored in the interim. I put down the old paperback copy of Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club and stood and spread my arms in greeting.

“Took you long enough,” I joked, “Does a guy have to start a street fight just to get a little attention in this town?”

“Oh I see,” she bantered back with fluttering eyelashes, covering the distance between us in short steps, “you just need a little attention. There, there.” She had to stretch up in order to pat the top of my head.

“Thanks,” I rolled my eyes, “all better now.” I wasn’t sure where to begin so I scuffed the rooftop until the toe of my sneaker nudged the old paperback.

“Fight Club,” the Pixie noted with a little laugh, “certainly your type of material. Just don’t go starting another project mayhem in my town.” Even the mocking way she waved a finger in my face was a dance.

“It’s my town, too.” I told her, searching for her eyes behind the distractions of her tasseled and feathered mask. “And I know we’ve got worse things than mayhem going on here. And I can’t live with that.”

The Pixie paused, startled and caught without a witty response.

“What happened to you?” She asked genuinely, finding stillness and meeting my eyes.

“I remembered what the vikings were really fighting for.” I took my turn to wink slyly. “Not just the good death. That was a part of their way of life. They might have done some awful things, but they went on those raids for their people.” I turned to face old city hall’s broken down clock tower, the hands hanging perpetually at 6:30. “And this is where my people are.”

“Why did you try to kill yourself?” She demanded suddenly, cutting off my first response. “And don’t tell me you weren’t. Suicide by gangbanger is no different than any other.”

“I told you, I hadn’t slept in…”

“Why not?”

I bit back a rude remark and took a deep breath.

“I was angry about… a lot of things.” I said, “When I hurt my ankle I lost my outlet. The gym, jogging–”

“What types of things were you angry about?” She asked. I sighed.

“My girlfriend left me–”
“That’s a symptom, not an illness.” The Pixie interrupted. I took another breath.

“I lost my job. Well, two jobs, and then a third.” I rubbed my forehead and raked fin gers through my hair. It was getting longish and greasy. Needed a good wash and a cut. “I was killing myself on freelance gigs just to keep my apartment–”

“What kind of freelance?”
“Ghostwriting, mostly.” I replied, getting used to the rough rhythm of her conversation. “The pay rates are low and there’s not much in the way of notoriety. Hard to build a following.”

“What happened first?” She asked, shifting her weight from one hip to the other and finally breaking eye contact, glancing off at the clang of a dumpster slamming.

“What do you mean?” I replied. All the energy left my body and I sat on the roof.

“Why did you lose the first job?”

“I got hit on the head in a workplace accident,” I recalled, feeling my stomach tighten, “it didn’t seem like a big deal. Mild concussion. But then everything changed. I couldn’t stand the lights or all the talking, couldn’t keep cool, so they fired me.” I swallowed the lump in my throat and wiped the corners of my eyes with dirty thumbs. “Since then… all I can do is write. And fight.” I pulled my knees against my chest, feeling cold.

“Hey, that happened to me once,” The Pixie said, sweeping off her cloak and splaying it across my shoulders. The purple garment felt heavy, made of a dense fabric with some type of protection woven between the layers. It felt warm and safe. “I dove away from some bullets and straight in to a brick wall,” she said, “somehow I got up and out of there and home safe and I don’t remember any of it.” She sat down cross-legged in front of me. Even so close her blend of makeup, mask and costume kept me from any chance at discerning her identity… but her eyes were unmistakable, deep brown and fierce and compassionate and beautiful.

“What happened?” I asked, arching to crack my back. The Pixie’s cloak nearly slipped from my shoulders but I caught it and held it like a blanket.

“I woke up the next morning and couldn’t talk,” she said, “could barely walk. It took me three days to get up and about and functional.” She paused and took a shallow breath, “it took me almost three months to get back on the streets. But there’s one thing you should understand,” she collected my hands and cupped them in hers and shook them on the emphasis of every odd syllable. “What you’re feeling is normal. Trauma damages the brain. But it’s infinitely plastic and you choose how you rewire it. I’d suggest you choose right now.” She ran her four-ounce pink leather gloves over my face briefly and then stood and moved away.

“I already chose,” I told her, standing and following her along the arena’s protected roof to drape the cape around her shoulders, “that’s why I’m here.” I stepped back and rooted my feet. “Because you’re better than me at this, and I need your help.”

“Who, me?” The Pixie batted her long eyelashes and flounced about like a schoolgirl receiving a compliment from her favorite teacher. “What could I possibly teach you?” She asked, striking her favorite Peter Pan pose with fists on hips and chest thrust forward.

I breathed.

“Don’t fish for flattery, it’s unbecoming,” I said saucily, moving a step closer. We stood within a few yards of one another in the middle of the rooftop’s open space.

“But I don’t know what you mean,” she said, ever the comic. “What am I better at? I mean specifically? If you want me to teach you I have to know so–”

“Alright,” I interrupted, and took a deep breath, and then another. “Tactics, for one thing, strategy, escape routes… fuck, even fighting. How did you knock down that big ox with one punch?”

“Well it was more an accumulation of punches,” she mused, striking a pose with hand on chin and arms folded, gazing into the hazy sky as if lost in thought.

“Look,” I said, “if you have bionic arms you can tell me. I promise not to–”

“I can teach you,” she interrupted, uncrossing her arms, “but those are difficult lessons, especially the ox-felling. It’s all movement and–”

“Well I’ve always been a difficult student,” I cut in, mimicking her stance with my hands on my hips. I’d worn a similar t-shirt and pair of cargo shorts to the day we met so she would remember me on sight. The actual clothing I’d worn that day had burned in my bathtub and then been buried in my building’s dumpster.

How strong are your abs?” The Pixie asked, eyeing me critically down her nose.

“You want to feel me up?” I asked in disbelief. Some women got off raking their fingers up a six pack, but probably not the type who killed criminals while wearing a cape.

“No,” she laughed, “I mean, can you take a punch?” She removed four small domed plates from hidden pockets in the knuckles of her left glove. They looked like some kind of metal, probably steel, but painted the same shade of purple as the fingernails she used to pull them from cleverly disguised seams.

The plates were about the size and shape of contact lenses, but I had a feeling getting hit by them would be similar to a blow from brass knuckles.

“Sure I can take a punch,” I said, shrugging, my arms spread, “I used to–”

The Pixie’s sucker punch cut off my story about winning the occasional shot-for-shot contest in college. She leaned in and delivered a sharp jab to my solar plexus.

I grunted and took a half-step backward to distribute some of the force. It wasn’t her hardest punch, but she’d put all of her weight and speed behind it. I began to feel the woman in front of me might be mortal after all.

“Now try to hit me back,” she taunted, skipping back and forth with her fists raised in an exaggerated fighting stance. Her feathered mask fluttered and its tassels swayed to and fro. The rainbow skirt swished up to her waist showing flashes of purple-clad thighs.

Hitting her wasn’t high on the list of things I wanted to do right then, but I had asked for the lesson and my abdomen still ached from the sucker punch. I dropped into a boxing stance and shuffled forward. Feinted a few times and then threw a tricky double jab followed by my favorite right uppercut. My fists moved fast but carried little power; I was ready to pull back the moment my knuckles made impact.

The impact never came, at least not for my knuckles. The Pixie swooped around my assault with an unnecessary twirl of her cape and hit me with the exact same jab in the exact same spot.

I sat down hard and barely stopped the back of my head from striking the rooftop. My stomach clenched around my solar plexus and my lungs heaved, searching for air that was no longer there. Rather than curl up I laid back and let my body find its breath naturally. The pain left before my wind returned.

“See,” the Pixie grinned, standing triumphantly over top of me, pink shoes planted either side of my hips. “When you’re moving it can double, even triple the force of the blow. And with my little stingers,” she patted the pouch on her belt where she’d stowed the plates fondly, “and taped wrists and good aim, I can fell even the biggest buffoon.” She bent down until her painted smiling lips and masked face were a foot away from mine.

“Okay I get it,” I groaned, and then sat up suddenly and grasped the collar of her cape. She squeaked in surprise as I rolled backward and lifted my shins, flipping her gently to the rooftop and sinking my knees past her legs so my hips pinned hers.

She looked at me like she might take my eye out but did not struggle.

“What happens when you can’t move?” I asked, leaning forward and collecting her hands one at a time. She let me pin them easily either side of her splayed tassels.

“I can always move.” She said with a wink.

I kissed her as swiftly as I’d swept her. Her eyes closed and she kissed me back with electric passion. I’d never tasted a sugar sweeter than her lipstick.

She raked her fingers down my stomach, over the shirt and then under. The mixture of sensations sparked by her fingertips and the leather gloves threatened to overload my nerves. And then she grabbed my belt with both hands and broke the kiss and bridged hard and scooted between my legs and out the back door.

I rose warily in time to watch her wrap the blue cape about her slight frame in a protective cocoon.

“Movement is only half of the lesson,” she stated, “the other half is timing, and yours is terrible.”

Immolation (Excerpt from The Pixie’s Paramour)

The lighter the Pixie had given me was quite nice; stainless steel, auto flame activation when the cover flipped, and an embossed eagle emblem. Not the kind of thing I wanted to leave at a crime scene, or throw away for that matter. Besides, it was the only gift she’d ever given me. I pocketed the lighter and took a book of matches from one of my back pockets and paced to the hedges.

The stench of gasoline was almost overwhelming up close. I cupped my hand and lit a match and tossed it into the hedge.


The hedge on the south side of the front gate erupted in flames. I repeated the process swiftly on the north hedges and then ran for the front door and made it to the wall opposite its hinges in time to hear shouting within. Angry men, frightened women, and some other less authoritative confused and frightened sounding men. The clients.

“Shut up!” A single dominant voice overpowered the others within and then carried on as they quieted at a volume too low for me to make out more than murmurs. I heard some general remarks of agreement and then footsteps closing on the door.

I leaned my right hip on the gray brick wall and cocked my right shoulder back and practiced my punch a few times, like a pitcher rehearsing the motions for a fastball. Despite my combative lifestyle I don’t actually punch people that often, and I wanted to get it just right.

The door opened with a low squeal and the first guy walked out, clad in drab shorts and an unbuttoned shirt and carrying some kind of pistol one-handed while he shielded his eyes, staring at the inferno the hedgeline had become. He had his left hand up and didn’t see me at all, so I waited. He got a whole step out the door before the second guy followed. He looked almost identical with the same short-cropped dark hair and the same drab shorts, but his unbuttoned shirt displayed Hawaiian colors. He was carrying his pistol in both hands and was going to see me in a fraction of a second.

I grabbed the barrel of the colorful guy’s gun left-handed and pivoted and threw a right cross to the first guy’s jaw just as he turned toward his buddy’s yell. The punch made his head snap back and a pink mixture of blood and saliva sprayed from his mouth, possibly the result of broken teeth. He spun to the ground in the direction his head turned and stayed there.

The guy in the Hawaiian shirt kept trying to aim at me and pulled the trigger repeatedly but the weapon only clicked; somehow in that adrenaline-charged moment I realized he’d left the safety on, and my hand was covering it. I pulled him outside and slammed the door and then shoved him against it and got my forearm across his throat. I smashed the back of his head against the solid wood until he slumped to ground, unconscious and blocking the door, which gave me an idea. I rolled the first guy over until he lay in his buddy’s lap. With the dead body weight of two decent sized men outside, whoever remained within would have a hell of a time getting the door open.


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The Breach

We kept low among the bushes and used the larger trees and hedges for cover as we crept to the front of the house. From the shadows of the hedgeline we could see the guard clearly through a side window. He was sitting on the stairs and had the bleached blonde on his lap. The shotgun was on the third step, loaded and close to hand.

“As soon as you jimmy the lock,” the Pixie whispered, crouching, down beside me, “I’ll distract him through the window, draw his fire if necessary. But the plan is for you to get inside and get the gun away from him before it goes off.” She crawled on her hands and knees to a haggard bush set in the garden, the last bit of cover between her and the window.

“You know what they say about plans,” I hissed after her, and then circled to the sidewalk and went up the front steps, standing off to the side of the door with my back against the wall in case anyone looked (or fired) through the peephole. I pulled the bump key out of my pocket and slid it into the lock as smoothly and quietly as possible. Only the first third of the key made it in. I retrieved the key and pulled the file out of my hip pocket, making it’s arches shallower and sharper in the place it had caught like the videos on the internet had shown me. I glanced at the Pixie who was signaling clear, clear, clear, with alternating thumbs-up and OK signs.

I jammed the key in the lock a little more forcefully and it slid past the half-way point. Almost there. I filed down the base of the key and slid it nearly all the way in. I glanced at my partner to make sure it was still clear, and then stood up and planted my feet shoulder width apart perpendicular to the door. The instructions I’d read had advised using a brick or hammer. I put one hand on the solid wood atop the door frame and swung my hips left and then right and bumped the key with my hip, right on the hard bone with my leather belt riding low around it. I heard it click home and grasped it and then glanced at the Pixie. She was waving her hands like a referee calling the end of a fight, creating a repeated X in midair.

I froze. And then I breathed and pulled the key out of the lock and tossed it in the garden.

The Pixie ducked away from the bush and flattened herself against the wall on the opposite side of the door.

“Get ready!” She hissed.

I flattened myself low against the outside wall so as not to throw a shadow in the peephole’s line of sight. I leaned in and put my ear on the door and my hand on the knob. The chain rattled and then the deadbolt slid out of place. The knob turned under my light grasp.


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Click Here to read next Excerpt: First Blood

Sequel to last Pixie’s Paramour Excerpt!

Thanks for your patience readers, I’ve had a lot of freelance work and other commitments commanding my time… but I’ve kept on schedule, and tonight’s excerpt will be short and sweet. If you haven’t read the prequel to this excerpt you can find it here.


I crossed the old parking lot on slightly shaky legs and beeped my chevy open with the FOB and ducked into the driver’s seat and dumped my bag in the passenger footwell. I fiddled for my water bottle as I got the engine going and drained the last of it and then dropped it atop the backpack. I pulled my phone out of the bag and pulled up my frequent contacts and called an order in to my favorite local eatery. After several swiftly exchanged sentences I put the blue sedan in gear and three-point turned out of the parking lot.

The streets were quiet, more pedestrians on foot than people in cars on such a nice night uptown. I drove a short distance north with the windows down, enjoying what passed for fresh air and the freedom of a functional vehicle. As I neared a traffic light I ticked my left signal on and changed lanes and turned early into the lot outside the only restaurant I frequented uptown.

The beat up old chevy chugged on worn rockers and grated horridly as the brake pads ground down. The long, low sedan shuddered to a halt in the last available slot outside the Grassfed Burger. Of course it would be busy. I shouldered the door open and swung my feet onto freshly swept pavement. A shiver swept up my spine as I stood straight and slammed the door. With any luck the line would be clear when I walked in, and my order ready, and I could be back in the shoddy if warm chevy and on my way home. Unless you cut little brunette was working. Then maybe I would sit and pick at my house-made fries and chat her up again.

I crossed the lot and pulled open the heavy glass door and found that the line was clear, and the cute brunette was on cash… but I couldn’t see a single free table. I sidled up to the counter and gave the cashier my best smile and told her my pickup number. She already had it ready for me because she knew my order – a grassfed beef patty on a gluten free bun, lots of veggies, no cheese, a little ketchup, a little mayo and mustard. I’d ordered it with fries and a fresh bottle of water and accepted the large brown paper bag and bottle while I dug in my pockets for cash.

“How’s school going?” I asked, knowing she was studying Architectural Engineering at the local University from previous conversations we’d had. I always went for the smart ones.
“Great!” She exclaimed, playing her role as cashier/server with her usual energy. “There’s so much work but I’m in the top fifteen percent and I love what I’m learning about. How are you?”

“I’m well,” I replied, paying her with bills and leaning on the counter while she made change, “just came from the gym, figured I could use the protein.”

“Oh nice!” She said, brown eyes sweeping the eatery for signs of arriving or leaving customers. “Where do you work out?”

I told her and bit my lip at the way her pupils dilated. Even some smart women like fighters. It must be and evolutionary thing.

“I used to kickbox,” she told me, leaning forward over the counter and drawing me in with deep brown eyes, “before I got so busy with school and work and-”

The chimes above the door jangled as a family of four entered and the cut brunette sprang upright, welcoming them to the Grassfed Burger. I whispered a goodbye and left while my food was still warm.


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Meet Mrs. Swinway (Pixie Excerpt)

No zen garden is gonna’ move this mood, Boris snorted as he twisted the front doorknob and entered his small mudroom. The chief was up his ass about the shootings and literal pile of missing persons reports, and damn it… Boris always asked her to keep the doors locked. Even in the county across the bay bridge from Murderville, home invasion was woefully high. Boris unlaced his boots and left them on the tray and pushed through the inner door that led to their wide kitchen. He dropped his keys on the island that dominated the room and took off his coat and dumped it on one of the polished teak-backed stools and opened the fridge and twisted the top off a cold beer. He took the first blessed sip as he closed the fridge door and saw his wife coming in from the living room.

She was a slight woman wearing long blonde hair that hung artfully across her royal blue evening gown. Her deep brown eyes opened up to Swinway and made him feel safe in a way that almost made him uncomfortable. He had put something clever about that in his vows, something the more literary types at the station had helped him come up with. She strode around the kitchen island, high heels clicking and blue dress swishing, and put her arms around him and kissed him like it was their last day on earth. Fuck the beer, Swinway thought, leaving it on the island and embracing her so forcefully her heels left the clean tiled floor.

They broke apart after several seconds, or maybe minutes, and he set her back down gently. She wobbled a little on her heels and punched him playfully.

“How was your day sweetie?” She asked, picking up the beer and pressing it back into his palm. His hands dwarfed hers. She was fine boned perfection, the kind of woman he’d never even touched before he met her. “There’s dinner in the fridge if you’re hungry. I made you lasagna.” She leaned in and whispered the last word in his ear like a spell, and it might as well have been one. If the woman wanted Boris to quit getting all his calories from beer, she’d chosen the right treatment.

“How did I ever get lucky enough to marry a woman like you?” He asked, touching his bottle to the section of back her dress left bare to make her squeal.

“You say that every day,” she smiled, brown eyes sparkling.

“Not every day,” he asserted, “only when you remind me. I’m going to microwave a plate of that-” he kissed her “-lasagna. Can I fix you anything?” He always asked.

“No thank you dear,” She always said. “I’m going to lay down, I have a headache from my meetings today.” She reached up and massaged angelic temples with fingers forged from ivory. “I might join you for a drink later though.” She said, lingering a moment in the doorway.

Mrs. Swinway walked down the hall to her bedroom as Boris rummaged in the fridge. She closed the door behind her and paced to the Styrofoam head that faced her dressing table and mirror. Slowly and graciously she pulled the blonde wig off and set it carefully on the Styrofoam head. She ran her fingers through the short dark hair that had regrown since her last chemo treatment and massaged her scalp. A quick lay down would do her a world of good.

Meet Det. Swinway I (Pixie Excerpt)

I thought we’d spend the next few excerpts getting to know Detective Boris Swinway a little better. For anyone following on WordPress, I would super appreciate your support in the form of liking The Pixie’s Paramour Facebook Page . You’re the greatest!


The bells above the Cafe Doux’s threshold jangled erratically as Swinway let the heavy glass door fall shut behind him. He half grinned-half grimaced at a handful of off-duty cops he knew. They lounged in easy chairs with steaming mugs on saucers in their laps or sat in groups at the short shiny-topped tables. It was a regular police hangout particularly during the day, and the one café in town where Boris knew the staff wouldn’t annoy him. They knew what he liked, generally speaking: quick service and limited conversation.

Boris waited in line until the barrista’s flashy smile and ornately piled blonde hair were right in front of him. He ordered a Redeye and watched the young woman fill a large ceramic mug with Ethiopian Dark Roast, leaving room to add a shot of fresh Espresso at the end. Something close to a genuine smile twitched Swinway’s lips as he exchanged a folded bill for the mug and tossed his change in the tip jar. A Redeye had all the rich flavor of his favorite dark-roast combined with more caffeine than any single cup of coffee could offer.

Just what the doctor – or in this case, his stomach – ordered.

Swinway sidled to his favorite easy chair at the back and settled into it. He picked up one of the local rags and took another sip of coffee, glancing down the length of the cafe covertly. No one was looking at him. He stood up and took the coffee and the paper and ducked through the open doorway that led to the restroom.

Inside the Sweetcafe’s mensroom was Swinway’s slice of heaven on the job. The coffee went on the homely ceramic sink’ flat top, the door stayed locked, and he sat on the john and unfolded the paper on his lap.

The rag was suitably called the Daily Journal because most of the stories in it seemed like they’d been scrawled in a sixteen year old girl’s diary. Swinway groaned, wishing he had grabbed something better. The Journal would do though.

The front page had an old stock photo of the Pixie dodging bullets – literally dodging them. Swinway had been there. Few good photos of the masked menace had been published since. It had seemed like a perfect storm… Swinway and his last partner and a whole team in riot gear had a good tip on a big drug deal, and got there just in time to bust both parties. The dealer’s had some heavy artillery and the damned Pixie had shown up in the middle of it and danced through their line of fire and disabled the punks with the automatic weapons. The story in the rag extolled the Pixie as a hero, but Swinway disagreed. He’d lost a good partner that night. Sighing, Swinway read the story.

In a shootout that took place outside local Bar & Grill Emira’s police faced off against members of the Feratria Cartel. Two officers were killed alongside several gang members, and were it not for the appearance of the Pixie the lives of more police officers might have been lost. According to witnesses the feather-masked vigilante appeared in a cloud of sparkles and–

Boris shook his head flipped a few pages and found a piece by the same reporter about a “knife assault” at the same tavern, Emira’s. He remembered that call coming in, but no one got killed or even seriously injured. Some drunk had pulled a knife, and some kind soul had put him down and took some minor defensive wounds in the process. Not the sort of the thing that came as high as his desk, but again the article glorified the “unknown protector” who had saved the night. Swinway smirked. There was always at least a half dozen big men ready to brawl at the City Tavern. They were lucky the drunk didn’t get in a good stab, and the drunk was lucky they didn’t beat him to death. Of course the reporter made it seem like the Feratrias must have connections at Emira’s. They did not.

The mug still felt hot as he palmed the off-white ceramic and lifted it down for a life-saving sip. Whoever discovered coffee was Swinway’s patron saint. Besides, hadn’t the introduction of coffee corresponded with sudden performance improvements in the military? He might have read that somewhere.

Sequel to Yesterday’s Excerpt from the Pixie’s Paramour

I’m really liking this theme, and while I also like talking to my readers, I’m feeling like it’s good to get right to the gravy when posting excerpts. And in that vein, enjoy.


We crossed the parking lot with the stone and iron lamp posts and scarce cars that separated the back of the strip from the river. As we approached the footbridge I spotted the group of men in hoodies and old sports jackets. Five of them, all within fifteen pounds of each other. The biggest was about my size, the smallest still much larger than Woody. The silvered man at my side seemed loose and confident.

“Evening, gentleman,” I said as we walked up the concrete ramp to the steel-railed bridge. It was about wide enough for two people to walk shoulder-to-shoulder and they were all crowded around the ends of the railings. The biggest guy stepped out to block our path. I guess they picked their leader caveman style.

“You two crossin’ the bridge?” The leader asked. He was actually an inch or two shorter than me, just standing higher on the ramp. Up close he looked shriveled and lean like the rest of his gang, bred down to bone and sinew by a hard life and a diet of coffee, cigarettes, and beer.

“We’re walkin’ that way.” I said as Woody and I stopped just short of the leader. He was in front of his buddies a bit so they made a rough triangle, like the Flying V in the Mighty Ducks movies. But I wasn’t looking for a puck.

“Then you’ll be happy to pay the toll,” the leader laughed, spreading his arms and smiling back. My own grin froze.

“Of course, friend,” I said, pulling Woody’s twenty from my pocket and offering it with a flourish, “thanks for keeping the neighborhood safe.”

As soon as he touched the twenty I released it and grabbed the back of his neck and stuffed my elbow in his throat as hard as I could. I stepped forward and shoved his head backward with a twisting motion and sent him sprawling into two of his friends who made feeble efforts to catch him.

I glanced over to see the other two guys rushing Woody. Their hoods had come down and I recognized them in the lamplight – I’d last seen their faces as they pulled off their masks next to Tegan after the shootout at market square.

Woody shifted his stance slightly as they neared to put one ahead of the other and then raised and lowered his hands in a fluid motion and thrust both palms out to strike the first man in the chest. The blow carried such force that the lean young man stumbled back into his buddy and the two took off down the bridge. One of the guy’s who had caught the leader moved toward me so I sidekicked his kneecap and backhanded him in the jaw. Then he became all about helping his buddy, or maybe just laying on the ground next to him. I didn’t see where the last guy went.

“That was incredible,” Woody whispered as if in a trance.

“Woody,” I whispered back, “we’ve got to get out of here. You go back to your car and drive home. I’ll take the streets back to my place. Better if we split up. And I figure I don’t need to say it but-”

“This never happened.” Woody McGroe said with a twinkle in his eye, and smoothed his silver beard. Then he patted my shoulder and power walked back the way we had come.

“Don’t forget to grab your jacket,” I called after him as I pocketed the twenty dollar bill that had started the whole mess.

I took a moment to roll the two guys still on the ground into the recovery position. They seemed more or less alive but they’d been two of the older ones and I sort of felt bad. My elbow to the first guy’s windpipe floored him and his breathing was ragged. The other had a glass jaw and probably lots of previous concussions, by the way he went out. And I think I heard a crack when I kicked his leg.

Ah well. Hospitalization and rehabilitation could only do good things for them.

Glancing around and seeing only stillness, I took off over the bridge and into Murderville’s west end. The shooters from market square only had a lead of a minute or two at most. And I had a good feeling where they might lead me.

Excerpt from The Pixie’s Paramour introducing a New Character!

I walked the streets of downtown Murderville, restless and unsure if I was looking for trouble. I’d worn my sturdy leather shoes.

A car horn hailed me, and the unfamiliar vehicle turned the next corner and pulled over as I whirled around. The driver’s door of the tiny fuel-efficient coupe flew open and out into the lamplight sprang Woody McGroe. A short spry man of seventy with enough energy to fill three toddlers, he closed the door and beeped the locks shut on his FOB and pocketed the keys in his tan overcoat. He hailed me by name and strode across the intersection at an angle, stopping traffic with raised hands and a wrinkled grin. The headlights lit up his short gray hair and beard and his dark slacks swished as he stepped onto the sidewalk next to me. He also wore sturdy shoes.

“I’ve been wanting to speak with you,” he said, which surprised me. Last I heard he’d run a great campaign for mayor and lost by a narrow margin. He’d certainly had my vote, and those of most people I knew. If he’d been elected he’d probably be in office right now.

“Always good to see you, Woody,” I said, displaying my teeth in the best smile I could manage at the moment. “What did you want to talk about?”

Woody glanced up and down the street and motioned for me to walk with him away from the only other man visible, a harmless workman trudging in the opposite direction.

“You remember the self defense concepts we discussed?” He asked nervously, eyeing a noisy pub as we passed by. Woody practiced Tai Chi and his daughter was a highly ranked instructor in several martial arts. She had a business in a better place. Woody and I had initially met when I transcribed some video footage of him and his daughter teaching a seminar on the applications of Tai Chi for self defense. I’d offered my two cents and we’d ended up sitting down over coffee and becoming friends. We certainly hadn’t spoken in some time.

“Of course,” I said, “it’s like riding a bike, only much more instinctive.” I laughed slapped one of downtown’s cheap painted lamp posts hard enough to make it rattle.

“Well, I wanted to talk to you about something related to that,” Woody explained, gesturing at a wide breach in the buildings that led to the river. “Let’s talk here, he added.”

“Go ahead,” I said as I stopped next to him in the open space. I stood almost a head taller than the elderly gentleman. “You can trust me, Woody.”

“I’ve heard rumors,” he said, sounding more like he meant very accurate anecdotes from friends, “about a group of men bothering people.”

The furnace in my gut that never fully faded ignited and I felt adrenaline seep into my veins on a slow drip.

“Well, I’m a good person to talk to about this sort of thing,” I said carefully, and then “where?” as casually as I could.

“At the footbridge,” he said a little guiltily, pointing over his shoulder. The narrow steel-railed bridge in question was less than three hundred meters from the spot he’d “inadvertently” led me. “Four or five men it seems, some younger, some older. They make people pay a toll or they won’t let them cross.”

Trolls. I envisioned casting them all in the water with broken limbs or necks. And then I breathed.

“You think they’d be there now?” I asked. Two clumps of dense foliage and other garden shrubberies still grew around the mouth of the bridge, because the city still maintained them. Because churchgoers and senior citizens and fucking children used that bridge. I felt my fingernails gouge my palms and unclenched my hands.

“I’m fairly certain.” Woody said. The word fairly might as well not have existed.

“I’m glad you told me about this,” I said, and turned toward the footbridge.


If you enjoyed this excerpt from the The Pixie’s Paramour you can read the first four chapters HERE!

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