Sneak Peek of Grave Touched

Erin here. I wanted to give you a sneak peek of Grave Touched, book 2 of my Fey Touched series, releasing May 1st from Turtleduck Press. Not long now! (Also? Fey Touched, book 1, is on sale for $.99 right now. Check it out if you want to catch up!)

 

Whispers. A flicker of thought.

My eyes wouldn’t open. Panic sliced through me.

I opened my mouth, but nothing came out.

“It’s okay, Em. You’re okay,” a familiar male voice said. A hand stroked my brow. Nick? Was Nick here? My beloved Nick could always soothe me, keep me from the edge.

“Em…you’re really here,” Nick said softly. “You’re alive.”

Alive? Of course I was alive.

I opened my eyes, wincing.

A tall human woman watched me with gray eyes that I was sure peeled layers off of me. “Emily, I’m Doctor Lucia Jonath. You’ve been under my care for a few weeks now because you were in an accident.”

The Haunting of Heatherbrae Station

A free short story

by Siri Paulson

 

14 May 18—, Earth reckoning

Dear Millie,

What a forlorn place this is! How far we have come from Mrs. Tattersall’s London Academy for Female Tutors. I hope you are finding Luna Station, and your young charges, more amiable than mine. How often I imagined the two motherless children here, starved for a woman’s gentle hand and eager to learn, as befits even the farthest-flung of Queen Victoria’s young citizens. Even the thought of being trapped on the station for three months until the orbits lined up again did not deter me. But I fear I have made a dreadful mistake.

My first sight of Heatherbrae Station from the ethership’s shuttle, as we made our approach yesterday, was daunting enough. The edifice loomed above us, ill-lit by the distant Sun, with the fantastic whorls of Saturn’s surface behind. The station has ornate crenellations like a castle, and pointed arches along its axis—for it is shaped like a dumbbell, the Alpha end for the workers and the shuttlecraft they use to gather raw material from the rings, the middle for processing, and the Beta end for Stationmaster Edmund Croyden and his children and staff…and me. The whole rotates to provide gravity at each end. Quite ingenious; but from the shuttle it was dark and grim, and about it hovered a queer white light that gave me the chills.

I must have made some sound, for the pilot turned to … Continue reading

Band of Turquoise

 

Band of Turquoise

a free short story by Kit Campbell

 

Alice pulled her sweater closer as she moved into the graveyard. Stray, dead leaves swirled at her feet, and a band of turquoise lay heavily on her wrist. She resisted the urge to play with it, in case that broke the limited protection it gave her. She did not know how much time she had before Amy would realize she had gone, before the turquoise would no longer hide Alice’s whereabouts. 

Fear caused her to move faster than she would otherwise. Her goal was the center of the graveyard, a statue of Death standing over his prey. Rumor said the statue had been there since the very beginning of the cemetery, if not before. 

In the twilight, the graveyard was empty of other people–living ones, at least. Gravestones rose out of the darkness only to be wrapped back in once Alice had passed. The statue was unmistakable when she found it. She only hoped the rumors were true. She would not get a chance to try again. 

Man’s Best Friend

A free flash fiction piece by Siri Paulson

There’s a new fad in town. It took me ages to win over the ‘rents. Too much upkeep, they said, even though I promised to take care of it. Too big, too expensive, too dangerous, the aquarium wouldn’t match the rec room decor. But I knew they’d give in. Can’t be those parents.

My dad still doesn’t like the new pet. Too creepy, as if it’s watching him as it swims. But I like that. I watch it and it watches me back as it circles the tank, lifting to breathe, the water closing again over its domed head and webbed feet. It’s as long as I am, and the aquarium takes up half of the rec room, where the VR used to be, but this is better than VR. Not human but not just fish anymore, smart but not really intelligent – the ads promised you could teach them tricks, showed them moving in tandem in different labs. But I don’t want mine to be tamed.

Introducing Even the Score

 

One, two, three,
How many will my victims be?
One, two, three, four,
How many more to even the score?

When Taro Hibiki leads a survival class into the backwoods, he has two goals: to prove himself as an instructor, and to propose to his beloved Rafe before he loses his nerve completely. In the wilds might seem a strange place for that, but it’s where Taro feels most at home—and the only place the couple can escape all their other responsibilities.

BFR’s colonists claim the name stands for “Big Effing Rock,” and boast of their planet’s dangers. Yet more treacherous than sight-scamps or bomb bugs is a human seeking vengeance. Soon Taro’s students are dropping one by one, and no matter what Taro does, the killer stays a step ahead. Worst of all, Taro suspects the students are targets of opportunity—that the ultimate goal is Rafe. Taro would die for Rafe in a heartbeat, but who’s going to take care of Rafe if he does?

As it happens, the killer has a plan for that, too.

Even the Score will be available December 1st from Turtleduck Press. It takes place two years after the events of His Faithful Squire. Find a chronology of the Dream’verse here.

§

Trust Rafe to set the scene perfectly. We huddled in the deepest, narrowest part of a canyon called Fools Rush In. Sharp grey cliffs rose all around. Rafe the Victim lay in a … Continue reading

Changeling: The Faerie Lights

Changeling
Part 1: The Faerie Lights
A free serial short by Erin Zarro

 

 

It happened the summer I turned seventeen. My family and I loved camping, and took several trips throughout the season. There was something about getting away from everything, being close to nature. Sometimes the hustle-bustle of life got to me.

My younger sister, Jane, especially enjoyed bonfires. She was autistic, and did not speak. But her face would light up like another sun whenever we made a bonfire. Her hands would reach toward the amber flames as if she wanted to capture them. It made me happy to see her engaging with her environment.

On the day it happened, I was alone. I sat in my camp chair and watched the campground. Kids running and playing. Dogs barking. The smell of someone grilling. The smell of other campers’ bonfires, so unique, that it took me back to simpler days. Simpler years.

Flame Isfree and the Feather of Fate II

 

Once wild magic shattered human civilization. Mage-built cities collapsed, spell-sped galleons sank, airships fell from the skies. Magic-born chimerae turned on their creators, and then their neighbors. The peoples of Awrhee fell into barbarism.

But that was generations ago. Humanity has scraped together kingdoms again, and learned to live without magic. Those who practice spellcraft are eyed with suspicion, as are the old ways, and the old places.

Some, however, seek treasure in the ruins of what was. Knowledge, gold, power—it’s out there. Treasure untold for anyone clever enough to find it, bold enough to take it, fast enough to get away with it.

It’s out there, in the Spell-Wracked Lands.

Part I.

 

Flame Isfree and the Feather of Fate II

A Serial Story by KD Sarge

 

Flame heard the footsteps approaching in her sleep, but she knew them and also she was warm and cozy, so she only wandered towards consciousness. Then she heard the sword ring as it was drawn.

With her leather-clad arm Flame knocked the sword-point away from Ryahled’s throat as he lay blinking at the silhouette over them. Idiot Bran! Thank Luck she’d drugged Ryahled last night when he wouldn’t stop talking. Had she not, Bran would be dead and Tolor furious.

Idiot ranger had needed to sleep, not talk.

“What the hell is this?” Bran demanded, the sword blade coming back.

Flame Isfree and the Feather of Fate I

 

Once wild magic shattered human civilization. Mage-built cities collapsed, spell-sped galleons sank, airships fell from the skies. Magic-born chimerae turned on their creators, and then their neighbors. The peoples of Awrhee fell into barbarism.

But that was generations ago. Humanity has scraped together kingdoms again, and learned to live without magic. Those who practice spellcraft are eyed with suspicion, as are the old ways, and the old places.

Some, however, seek treasure in the ruins of what was. Knowledge, gold, power—it’s out there. Treasure untold for anyone clever enough to find it, bold enough to take it, fast enough to get away with it.

It’s out there, in the Spell-Wracked Lands.

 

Flame Isfree and the Feather of Fate

A Serial Story by KD Sarge

 

Flame lay along a slender limb, high enough that the still-thick autumn foliage hid her from below. Not, she reflected, that any of the fools ever looked up. She stretched, and smirked as her movements made not a sound. Leather as soft as spring moss cost more than the cow who wore it first, but a treasure hunter in the forest got her money’s worth.

Another group was coming. Flame could hear them blundering maybe thirty yards away. A fighter in chain mail led them—that, or someone jingling coins.

She should be so lucky.

Chain mail, she thought, tilting her head to focus an ear. Chain mail on a horse. Leading four others walking, humans by the … Continue reading

A Bargain Beyond

A Bargain Beyond

a free short story by Kit Campbell

 

They told us to never go into the forest. They said that was where the wild ones lived, creatures who had once been like us, but who had abandoned civilization to seek power no mortal was ever supposed to have. It had driven them mad.

But sometimes the danger you have been warned against your entire life is preferable to the danger staring you in the face. Probable death is always more attractive than certain death.

As I left the burning remains of my village behind me, I could hear the hammering of hooves in my wake. We’d tried to defend ourselves, to make a stand, but we’d been quickly overrun.

The pounding grew louder as I fled. I plunged into the trees, not heeding the foliage tugging at my clothes. I still carried my sword in one hand, but it hung uselessly by my side. I ran on, not caring where I was going, only following the instinct to get away.

After a long time, the sounds of pursuit faded. I stopped, panting, doubling over from lack of breath. I straightened, taking in my surroundings. And that was when I saw her.

Warped

Warped

A free short story by Erin Zarro

 

The office was huge. Open space, desks crammed together, no cubicles, or privacy, for that matter. The sounds of computer keyboards being typed on, phones ringing, and people talking made me want to go somewhere and hide.

This was my new job. It wasn’t the perfect job, but I needed one and an opportunity had presented itself. Although, when I thought too hard about it, the details were fuzzy.

“Andi, so glad to see that you’re here. Let me give you the tour.” A woman with her hair in an elegant updo smiled and gestured for me to follow her. She wore a navy pantsuit. Her makeup — blue eyeshadow and hot-pink lips — clashed horribly with her choice of clothes. I tried not to stare. “My name is Leslie. I will be your supervisor.”

I tried to smile, but that lipstick gave me a nervous twitch. “Nice to meet you.”