Zilch, Zophiel, Zero… #atozchallenge

a to z

Zilch, is all’s I ever got. My wife, the harpy, continually nags me to take her places.

I thought, “Peru is some place.”

The Inca ruins were breathtaking.

All I heard was, “The mountains are freezing.

So I bought Marjorie a coat made from  mountain goat’s wool.

Later that day, we climbed to Machu Picchu.

We were standing on a cliff enjoying the magnificent view when a Harpy Eagle swooped down and seized her.

Soaring into a canyon, he dropped her on the jagged rocks.

He thought she looked like a tasty goat.

Now how’s that for ironic?

A Harpy eating a harpy.

***

Many thanks to my friend Steve Slack who pulled off not only a great “Z” for the end of the A to Z Challenge, but he did it in less than 100 words – Bravo Steve.

And here’s a tantalizing tidbit from Matt Harrill’s new serial The ARC Legacy that will be coming in 2016

***

His hands balled in fists, Zophiel dropped to his knees, his robes spreading about him.

Tears of purest light streamed down his face, glistening like the first rays of dawn on the morning of the first day. His head hung low.

“Metatron, my brother, is dead…” The whisper came from clenched teeth.

The lips peeled back as his shoulders trembled, the feathers on his enormous wings starting to shake as grief very evidently became rage. Those nearby took a step back.

“They did this.” His eyes opened, and the crystal blue had been replaced with irises of darkest night. “Release Nibiru,” he growled. “Unleash the host.”

“Zophiel, no,” Ioviel gasped. “The world will end.”

“The world has ended.”

***

And one final visit to the dark streets of New Cago…

“Luz, we are down to Zero!” Sam’s hands grew numb as he held a lifeless hand.

It was true the last of his friends (and hers) were dead.

Sam was all that was left, strangely he was more driven.

“Our blood gives you the best chance to succeed, Sam.”

“All my friends are dead and I’m supposed to be comforted?”

“No time for tears, Sam.” A woman who was wearing one pink slipper whispered.

****

“Zeek,  today is your lucky day!”

Sam held a list. He gladly put a line through the last name – in blood.

Many thanks to the A to Z crew for another great year. I would like to put in one more mention for the Fill the Cracks program for children Orphaned by Ebola. We appreciate any support – reblogs, tweets…

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Spoiler Alert!!!

The writers are loose

“Y” Yellow Hammer #atozchallenge

 

Y

In the Scottish village of Glockneister, a stranger posted a notice on the town square, informing the townspeople that in Chelmsford, Essex, three women, accused of being witches,  were hanged.

“I have a warrant and will pay one gold sovereign for information of anyone engaging in necromancy,”  Matthew Hopkins proclaimed.

Deep in the Selkirk forest lived a hag named Diana Quinlyn. She was a High Priestess of Wicca, a midwife and a healer for the village of Glockneister.  Quinlyn knew that her enemies would lead Hopkins to her door and collect the bounty. The town was anxiously awaiting the Mayday celebration.

That evening Quinly treked to celebrate the Sabbat Beltane with her coven. By the light of the full moon, they would develop a plan to subvert the witch hunt.

The next morning, feeling somebody was watching her cottage. She nimbly climbed the oak to check a nest. It was custom for the village boys to destroy the nest and break the eggs of the nesting song bird. Local superstition held that the Yellowhammer drank a drop of the Devil’s blood every Mayday morning. The reason for this superstition was the birdsong resembled a warning,” de’il tak ye’” (“devil will take ye”).

Making sure that the eggs were safe, Quinlyn scuttled to the ground. Two eggs were gently cradled in her apron while three boys came out from the bushes.

“The villagers tell that you’re a witch.” The oldest one said.

“Is that what they’re saying now? That didn’t seem to much matter when I was your mother’s midwife.” Quinlyn said.

“We saw you talking to the ‘Gwas y Neidr.’” (The servant of the snake).

“Aye I was. I’ll show you what I was doing,” she produced the eggs.

“The brown markings on the eggs, do know what they’re for?”

The three boys blanched white when they saw the markings.

“The priest said the marks were put there by Satan.”

“The universe and everything in it constitutes the Gods. The brown lettering on the eggs denotes the earth.”

“What does it say?” One of the younger boys asked.

“It is writing from the Cabala announcing the circle of life.”

The boys, scared witless, sprinted into the woods. They sought out Matthew Hopkins, telling him what they seen.

Quinlyn carefully removed the bird to another nest and prepared for visitors. The three boys returned with their benefactor.

“The eggs with Satan’s writing are in that nest!” The oldest boy said pointing.

“I shall see about this,” Hopkins said, climbing the tree, sliding his pasty fingers into the nest, trying to collect the eggs. Gasping, he quickly withdrew his hand. He crashed to the ground, lying motionless.

“What happened?” The youngest boy squealed.

“He offended God and was struck dead for committing a sin,” Quinlyn said.

The boys froze in their tracks.

“What will happen to us?” The youngest boy started to cry.

“Nothing as long as you keep this episode locked in your heart and never mention it to a living soul.”

“We swear!” They trembled in unison.

“Just remember if you do, God will take his vengeance, because he always protects the ones he loves.” Quinlyn said.

The boys looked at each other, turned and bolted. Quinlyn watched the boys disappear into the brush. She climbed the tree and carefully removed the Asp coiled in the bird’s nest, returning the viper to the forest, where it belonged.

My friend Steve Slack was kind enough to help me finish up the A to Z Challenge. I hope you keep your eyes out for Steve’s books that I believe will jostle your senses. Steve is a published writer with loads of experience in sniffing out evidence.

You can find Steve on twitter @iwritecrime

his blog: http://weshootcrime.wordpress.com

Facebook: Steve Slack

“F” Un- Faithful by Steve Slack

corn cockle

Dolores Gillpin was married for 10 years. Dolores rarely got angry, but when she did, her rage could be described as the resurrected fury of a Scottish ghost. Her betrothed, William, was a reserved man. Even in the early years of their marriage, he would rarely display bouts of passion. She found this lack of physical love annoying, but she put up with it.

Dolores, out of boredom and wanting of child, would take long walks in the countryside. One bright sunny day she saw William picking a bouquet of wildflowers. Blushing and touched by the gesture, she hoped it might lead to an afternoon of lovemaking. When she arrived back at the cottage, she prepared for the anticipated romp. William returned to the cabin, several hours later, exhausted and sauntered off to bed.

Two weeks later, Dolores watched William picking another bouquet, she noticed he was cheery disposition and spring in his step. Staying concealed in the hedges, she followed him two kilometers away to a widow’s cottage.

Margaret answered the door, accepted the flowers, and passionately wrapped her arms around his neck and kissing him.

Dolores was shattered. Sitting on a rock, as her heart broke, she tried to think what she was going to do. The more she thought the angrier she became.

Returning from the Glenn, Dolores called her childhood friend Molly Giggins, who still lived in Scotland.

“Hello” a mild high-pitched voice came over the receiver.

“Molly this is Dolores in America.”

“What’s wrong?” Molly asked.

“I needed to hear the sound of a friend’s voice.”

“Is William well?”

“Indeed, he and his mistress are just fine.”

“A scoundrel!”

“Aye, I caught him today.”

“How can I help?”

“Remember when we were young girls and we used to read the poetry of David Mallet.”

“Yes, I do. I remember you were always fond of ‘William and Margaret.’”

“Aye,   I must admit missing Corncokle the most.”

“Do you have a garden?”

“Aye, I do.”

“Right now nothing will set you straight faster than a reminder of your home. I’ll pop a package in the mail; it should be their within a week.”

“Your friendship is appreciated.”

“It’s the least I can do for my sister.”

 

A week later a small parcel was delivered to her door. She opened it and found a bag of dark seeds and a pair of rubber gloves. She mixed the seeds with a large bag of bird seed and poured them in the bird feeder. Within a month, springtime had arrived. A new flower that no one had ever seen began to bloom in the grassy fields around the house. A glorious, pink flower sprang from the plant.

It wasn’t long before William noticed the beautiful blossoms growing along the path to his mistress’s door. William plucked a large bouquet and presented them to his love. That night, William did not return home. On the second day missing, she reported his absence to the Sherriff.  Four days later, the postman reported a foul smell coming from Margret’s cottage. The Sherriff found the two of them laying in each other’s arms. They believed that it was a suicide pact between two lovers. No one noticed the bouquet of Corncockle in a vase next to the bed. As sure as the grimly ghost came from the east of Scotland, the birds ate the birdseed, and deposited them in the fields to bloom in spring.

Dolores smiled. Agrostemma Githago was the most poisonous wildflower in Scotland. Contact with the stems, leaves or flowers would lead to emminent death.

Thanks to Emorsgate Seeds for the picture of the Corncockle.

Great blogs to enjoy today!

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Here we go with A to Z

Today begins a month long dance with the letters A to Z and the A to Z challenge.

This is the fourth year I have done this challenge and each year has been a different rollercoaster ride. Last year, I did the challenge (weakly) after sustaining a fractured wrist that required surgery. Just before the challenge, I fell again and badly sprained the other wrist. For days I used a pencil in my mouth to draw and type comments. (no joke.)

This year I am hosting short stories written by three of my favorite writers: Steve Slack, Matt Harrill and Newt Livesay. People seem to die when these guys show up so enjoy their styles. For my week, I retapped a noir serial I wrote several years ago. We have run out of body bags for our victims so paper bags will have to suffice.

I have all the stories on top of my blog under A to Z Challenge or you can just look for today’s letter below:

A is for Avarice                          G is for Gluttony

B is for Betrayal                        H is for HiJack

C is for Curare Cure                  I is for Interview

D is for Docket                           J is for Jump

E is for Eros                               K is for Klan

F is Un Faithful                       L is for Lust

(the letters A-F written by Steven Slack, G-L by Matt Harrill)

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