Sometimes we walk the edges of reality...
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Sometimes we walk the edges of reality...
Either subscribe by email or request a copy by leaving your email in our Contact Box. That also signs you up to receive any newsletters we might get around to putting out one-day too!
Later as they sat at the supper table Anna smiled softly. “Better?”
“Yeah. Much. Sorry about the Marlon Brando impression.”
“S’okay. Just shows how easily misunderstandings can grow. I should’ve thought to tell you, but it just never occurred to me how vulnerable you are. Your ex has a lot to answer for. Silly cow! I hope she finds a man who beats her.’
“Nah. She’s more likely to don a corset and a strap-on herself.’
They both giggled like children and felt the better for it.
“Oh Sam. You are naughty. But. While we are playing the truth game I do have one question. I know you and Rod are close, and I wondered why we haven’t seen him. I feel a bit guilty in case it is because I’m avoiding Patsy for a while.”
“It’s not. Rod is in the States at the moment. There’s a big cage fighting tournament in Tennessee, and he’s the top referee cum judge.”
“Good. I wouldn’t want to come between you and Big Rod.”
“You’d get squished….”
“I would. Now, do you want to come to Brighton?”
“Course I do.”
“I’d like it if you would. If we went in your car we could get all my stuff one go. I know a pub where they accept Bonnie. I could book us a room for Saturday night. One thing, though. I would like to take Bonnie to visit Ted’s wife, if you wouldn’t mind. Bonnie is the only creature in the world she recognises.”
“Of course. What is your Ted likely to think about us?”
“He’s not my Ted. And I haven’t the faintest idea. I hope he is happy for me. But if he isn’t that’s his problem.”
Then she grinned.
“Actually, knowing Ted, we’re in for a bit of a ribbing. Then he’ll probably try to get you on your own and threaten to tear you limb from limb if you hurt me.”
“Seems fair to me. I’d tear me limb from limb if I hurt you.”
“Eejit. Right, I’d better ring the Lamb and Flag and make sure they have a room before we decide anything else.”
Sam moseyed off to the little boys room and when he returned he found Anna at the table, pink-cheeked and obviously torn between amusement and absolute horror.
“What’s up?” he asked mildly.
“They only have one room left. It’s the bridal suite. I’ve booked it, but when I ended the call I had a funny feeling in my tummy. Like you might think I was hinting or something.”
“Oh Anna. I wouldn’t mind if you were. One day we’ll get married, pack Bonnie in the camper, and have a romantic honeymoon in lots of farmers’ fields.”
She looked at him with her heart in her eyes.
“Oh Sam. I do love you.”
“So I should hope.”
“Now. I seem to remember that something pissed you off today. You were going to tell me about it but we got sidetracked.”
“Oh yeah. I was wasn’t I? We have a new Consultant just started at the hospital. He goes by the name of Esmond Wang. And he’s much, much blacker than me. Most people are fine about it, but there’s a vocal minority who made my life unpleasant when I was first appointed. Now the new guy is in the line of fire. We had lunch together. Him, me and two mixed race junior doctors. I heard our table referred to as wogs corner, which did piss me off.”
“Pisses me off too…”
“Thanks babe. But I do wish we could do something for Esmond and his wife. They have recently moved into one of the houses on the new estate just across the park from here, and I’m guessing the neighbours may take a while getting used to them.”
“Why don’t you invite them over one evening? Kitchen supper and a few glasses of wine.”
“Would you mind?”
“Course not. Just no dinner parties.”
He laughed and then yawned hugely.
“C’mon woman, let’s clear up this kitchen. I’m ready for bed.”
He phoned Anna at lunch time the next day.
“Is tomorrow night all right for a kitchen supper?”
“Umm. They’re vegetarians, but not, I’m assured vegan. Is that a bother?”
“And is this weekend sorted?”
“It is. We’ll meet Ted at the nursing home on Saturday afternoon. Then I said we’d stand him dinner at the Lamb and Flag. He’s offered to load my stuff into my car so we can pick it up Sunday morning before heading home. We also need to buy me a kick-ass dress for this bash you’ve been threatening me with for weeks, and I know a boutique in the Lanes that only stocks one-offs and vintage. You wanna help me choose?”
“Yes. Surprisingly. I think I do. Now I have to go and explain to a morbidly obese diabetic why she can’t have new knees unless she loses weight.”
‘Deep joy. See you tonight.”
At seven-thirty on Thursday evening, Anna put the finishing touches to a tray of tempting antipasto, while Sam and Bonnie went to the back gate to watch for their guests. She wondered idly what the Wangs would be like and how they would react to her, then chided herself mentally for silliness. Sam returned with a tall dark-skinned man and his tiny obviously oriental wife, both of whom had obviously fallen for Bonnie’s charms.
Anna held out her hands.
“Welcome,” she said.
“Esmond, Sandra, this is Anna.”
They all shook hands and Anna motioned Bonnie to her bed, where a dog treat awaited. Esmond looked around the kitchen with an almost covetous gleam in his eyes.
“What a great space. And an Aga.”
“Esmond cooks” Sandra said with a giggle “and uses every pot and pan we have.”
“Does he wash up?”
“No. His mother does that. She lives with us. She and her dog Poh.”
“Oh. I know Poh. He’s a white peke isn’t he? Bonnie plays with him on the fields out back.”
“Gosh. Are you Mamma’s new friend? She refers to you as An and says you are as chic as a Frenchwoman. I’d have been scared to come here if I’d known.”
Anna laughed indicating her jeans and plain white shirt.
“I dunno about chic. I’m just skinny. Esmond’s mother is the chic one.”
“Isn’t she just. I always feel underdressed in her presence, and I’ve been with her son for more than a decade. However she’s kind enough not to mention my sartorial shortcomings.”
Anna grinned appreciatively.
“Sam. Get these folks a drink.”
“Sure. What’s your poison?”
“As we both have a rare day off tomorrow, and we can walk home, wine would be lovely,” Esmond grinned happily.
“Red or white?”
“You want to come see what there is?”
The two men headed out to look at the modest stock of bottles housed in the utility room.
“That’s torn it,” Sandra said with a grimace.
“Es is fascinated by other people’s wine. He’ll read every bottle before deciding. I hope Sam’s a patient man.”
“He is, and it gives us a few minutes to get to know each other. How long have you been in your house.”
“Almost two months. The immediate neighbours are just starting to speak. Have you been here long?”
“Less time than you. Sam and I are very recent cohabitees. We’ve known each other a while, but it suddenly escalated, and here I am.”
“Then it’s even kinder of you to welcome us into your home.”
“Think nothing of it. I like entertaining informally.”
“Me too… Hate dinner parties though.”
‘Yup. Where’s the fun in showing off?”
They laughed, pleased to have found some common ground.
I am old and I find it amusing
That this body I’m busy abusing
Has lasted these years
Through the fags and the beers
Without diet or exercise using
From 'Iconoclast: Not To Be' an upcoming book in the Fortune's Fools series
Loralea did not know the ‘City but she was sure there would be a Clan community there and she didn’t even have to go far to find it. According to the local link network, there was a bar called ‘The Open Road’, which sat hard by the spaceport. The name and location gave it away.
The man was grey haired and bearded but wore a look that said he was not much slowed down by it. He had joined her as soon as she sat at a table with her drink – but then she had ordered a dish only Clan would eat, the bitterleaf herbs being very much an acquired taste. He had come from the staff area behind the sleek counter, so he was not just a visitor like she was. Loralea nodded cautiously, making it a slight, brief, movement. She was not surprised he had recognised her, her heart shaped face with its high cheekbones would always give her heritage away to other Clans.
“My grandpa was too – on my father’s side, you understand,” he said.
She did. It also meant the connection between them was very loose, not like he was related on his heritage side – the maternal side.
“Nice to meet you,” she said, her tone rising into a question.
“You here alone?”
Never let them think you’ve not got back up.
“Uh – no. Well right now, yes, but I have family in the ‘City.”
The eyes as grey as the hair and beard widened very slightly.
“Strange. I think I’d have heard if any Lastas hit town. Stranger still, I heard you’d parked a ship on your own.”
Loralea met his gaze with a slight shrug.
“You didn’t hear right this time – but don’t let that bother you.”
“I don’t,” he said, his expression caught between amusement and something else – something Loralea was not sure she could recognise. “Let me get you a drink – on the house and you can tell me what you need. A place to stay? Work?”
“Information. I was trying to find someone.”
Lienz leant back and looked suddenly appraising as if her admission had changed something very fundamental in their relationship.
“Well, you have come to the right person for that. I know just about everyone worth knowing in the ‘City. But you need to be careful who you go asking about, Loralea – and who you ask. This is not a good place to be asking questions about some people – if you get my meaning.”
She finished eating and pushed the empty away.
“Thanks. I’ll have that drink.”
Lienz made a gesture and a young man came running from behind the counter, a tattoo clear on his forearm. A Clan tattoo. Mendive. Loralea felt her heart pick up a little and wished she knew more about current clan politics. She had no idea if Lastas and Mendive were on good terms or not. There had been a feud, she knew, but that was when she was still a child. A lot could have changed since then. She let Lienz order the drinks and wondered if she had been as clever to come here as she had thought. The older man might have read her thoughts – or perhaps he had seen her react to the clan mark on the youngster who served them.
“In the ‘City we have enough other problems than to go fretting around over Clan history, you know. We’re all blood if we go back far enough and here, well, that counts for a bit more than any daft family feuds.”
His smile was reassuring, but she wondered if he was just saying the words or if he really meant them.
“Even if so – I -“
“We’re cousins, Loralea – I’ve Lastas blood in my veins.” He smiled at her and raised his drink in a silent toast. Outsider style. She felt a release of tension she had not realised she held. He had claimed her as kin – family. Clan. Despite herself, she returned his smile.
“Thank you,” she said.
“Welcome. Now, what are you doing here on your own, lass? I had heard your people had pretty much settled in the same place the last thirty odd years or more. “
“Like I said. I need to find someone.”
The steady grey gaze seemed to harden slightly.
“Someone hurt you?”
She shook her head quickly, annoyed he could see.
“No. This is a friend. He may be in trouble.”
Again she felt the weighing judgement of Lienz eyes. It was as if for every word she spoke he was reading another half-hundred behind.
“This is not a good place to be in trouble,” he said, after a few moments. “I think you don’t want to get this man of yours into any more so won’t tell me his name until you trust me some. Which is a shame as trouble often moves fast in the ‘City.”
“I don’t even know for sure he is here,” Lorelea could hear the defensive protest in her own voice. Lienz was right though. Both that she did not trust him and that she needed to.
Lienz sighed and offered a wan smile.
“Some people make life hard for themselves,” he said. “Alright, lass, You need a place to stay and I have an apartment needs someone to live in it. No charge. I can get you work too, if you want. Decent pay. Or if you are willing to hire out your ship, you can sit back and count the credits.”
“It’s Clan property,” she lied. “If it flies, I’m aboard.”
“Fair enough,” Lienz conceded easily, “but what about the rest?”
Lorelea hesitated. She had planned to live on her ship. The running costs of doing so would be cheaper than most accommodation – or at least most accommodation she would care to live in. His offer was generous and if the search took more time she might be glad of any work he could put her way. With a strange sense of reluctance, even though it made solid sense, she gave a brief nod.
“Alright. That is kind.”
Lienz smiled again.
“You are Clan. And you can owe me a favour for it.”
Dear Reader Who Writes,
It is one, Moonbeam Farquhar Metheringham IV, breathlessly excited and a teensy bit fearful. One pens this missive to one’s faithful followers from the departure lounge at London Heathrow. One sits in the relative safety of the business class lounge, managing to avoid the eyes of the various suited, booted and frightening ones around one, as one metaphorically sucks one’s pen in an effort to order one’s thoughts and compose a missive suitable to emanate from the ballpoint of a genius such as oneself.
And why, do I hear you gasp, is your beloved pedagogue leaving England’s verdant pastures just as spring is donning her robes of tender green? You may well wonder. And you must be assured that this dereliction of duty is none of my own doing.
Those of you who have retentive grey cells will recall that it was one’s pater’s avowed intention to desist one’s paltry allowance forthwith. However, it would seem to be beyond the capabilities of even that scrawny unfeeling reprobate and the creature who is soon to become Madam Metheringham VII. Something about trust funds and tontines and other such things of which one wots not… One is experiencing extreme difficulty in not wrinkling one’s brow in that manner which is both unbecoming and wrinkle-inducing. But what is, in vulgar parlance, described as the bottom line, would seem to suggest that one may not be cast off without a shilling, and that one’s signature is necessary on a raft of documentation to both ease one’s parent out of a little local pecuniary difficulty and to provide one with a guaranteed income no matter how many round-heeled harlots the lizard-skinned oaf espouses.
All of which means one is summoned to a meeting at the offices of Messrs Schuster, Schuster, Abramowitz, and Flugelhorn in San Francisco. Which is why one is seated amidst this faux leather splendour sipping creme de menthe and penning a missive to my estudas.
But hark. One’s flight is called. A bientot.
Reva nodded and turned back to the desk. She reached out her hand to shuffle through the papers on the desk.
The command—and it was definitely a command—was full of arrogant authority and came from the doorway. Reva looked up and frowned. “Inquisitor Ailan Malvaceä, what a pleasant surprise.” She didn’t bother to hide the disdain in her voice.
“Senior Inquisitor, Constable Inspector Lunaria.”
“I hadn’t heard you’d been promoted. Who’d you have to kill,” Reva said, again not bothering to hide her sarcasm.
Ansee looked from the Inspector to the Sucra officer. He could feel the tension between the two. Even allowing for the known inter-agency rivalry between the Constabulary and the Sucra, it was clear that there was more going on here at a personal level.
Senior Inquisitor Malvaceä ignored her and stepped into the room, giving the body a glance. Reva inwardly smiled as she saw him pale just a bit. Good.
Malvaceä wore a dark green hooded cloak that bordered on black. It was clasped with a silver cloak pin intricately worked into the shape of an eye, with an opal set where the pupil would be. Under the cloak he wore a chainmail and leather tunic under a shirt of black linen. He wore calf-length black leather riding boots polished to a high sheen and had on black jodhpurs flared at the hips. His hair was light blond and cut short, barely coming down to his ears. He had tan skin the color of faded fir. He glanced up from the body and gave Reva a critical look with light blue eyes.
“You are out of uniform, Inspector,” Malvaceä said.
“It’s my day off,” she deadpanned, returning his stare.
Ansee stepped back from the desk. He half expected them to draw their weapons at any moment.
“And is this Seeker Rubus’s replacement?” The Inquisitor turned his eyes on Ansee, who flinched a bit at the attention.
“This is Seeker Carya,” Reva said.
“Well, Seeker Carya,” Malvaceä gave him a cruel smile. “I hope you can measure up. You have a big spellbook to fill.”
“What do you want, Senior Inquisitor?” Reva put special emphasis on senior. “In case you haven’t noticed, we are trying to conduct a murder investigation here.”
“Please, don’t let me stop you. I assure you, the Sucra wants First Magistrate Avecath’s killer found and brought to justice just as much as you do. I am here merely to collect the First Magistrate’s letters, documents, and other writings.”
“The hells you are,” Reva snapped. “I have the authority to collect all the evidence in this case, and that includes the Magistrate’s papers. They may have information related to his death.”
“I seriously doubt that,” replied Malvaceä evenly.
“Maybe not,” Reva admitted. “But they’re evidence and I will collect them as regulations require.” She made a move to pick up some of the papers.
“Touch those papers, Inspector, and I will arrest you for treason.” Malvaceä’s voice was calm but carried an edge of menace. Everybody in the room stopped what they were doing and looked at the two of them.
Reva knew Senior Inquisitor Malvaceä well enough to know that it was not an idle threat. He was full of the righteous power that came from being a Green Cloak and would love to exercise that power with Reva. She withdrew her hand and asked, “On whose authority?”
“Why, King Aeonis’s authority, of course.” Malvaceä gave Reva a sneering smile and held up a rolled document with the King’s seal set in green wax. He didn’t offer the document to Reva to examine, merely taunting her with it before returning the rolled paper to a case at his belt.
“Now step aside so I can perform the King’s business.”
Geoff Habiger and Coy Kissee are life-long friends and co-owners of Tangent Games. Coy lives with his wife and one cat in Lenexa, Kansas. Geoff lives with his wife, son and two cats in Tijeras, New Mexico. Wrath of the Fury Blade is their second novel together.
I think that once I’m no longer able to perform my duties as Constable Inspector, I’d like to be First Constable. I think that my experience on the streets can really help out with the younger constables, but since I don’t play politics, I think my chances of that happening are about as good as an oak’s keeping its leaves throughout the winter. Either way, I want to make a life with my wayward boyfriend, Aavril, who’s out gallivanting on a ship someplace at the moment.
Aavril, obviously. Then there’s my mother, Aeollas, and my brother, Gale – well, his name is really Ghallen, but he was always such a terror when we were growing up that his nickname stuck. Since my father’s death, Mother and I have leaned on each other for support – even more so since Gale is stationed in the Smoke Highlands and rarely gets leave to visit. Cas, sorry, Castanea Rubus, was my partner for many years, though family matters forced her to leave Tenyl and take a position with the Constabulary in Narris. I miss her dearly.
I don’t know why you want to know about my foes. Trust me, being a Constable Inspector means that I have more than my fair share of them. I’d say that the biggest thorn in my side is Ailan Malvaceä, an Inquisitor with the Sucra, the King’s secret police. The Sucra are stuck-up snobs at the best of times, and are always a pain in the ass, but Malvaceä has elevated arrogance to an art form. I’d love nothing more than to catch him making a mistake and shove his nose in it.
Finally, there’s Ansee Carya, a Seeker in the Royal Tenyl Constabulary, who has apparently been assigned as my new partner. I really don’t know why the First Constable planted him on me. He certainly is not up to Cas’s standards and I have my doubts about his ability to do his job. Time will tell if he’s a friend or a foe.
Ha! Who has time for hobbies? Even on my days off from the constabulary (which are rare) I’m never really off duty. I barely have time to help Mother around her pottery shop, or to play with Gabii (my pet parrot), let alone finding the time to have an actual hobby… unless you count going to plays. Is that a hobby? I love attending plays, especially the cheesy ones that show naive adventurers trying to sack a dungeon and getting humiliated. Cas and I always made a point of going to at least one play every week, and afterwards we’d spend time at the pub talking about our favourite scenes and actors. Oh, how I miss Cas.
Inspector Reva can be found in Wrath of the Fury Blade by Geoff Habiger and Coy Kissee.
The night was like velvet against her skin as she dropped her wrap and waded into the ink-blue sea. As soon as the water reached her thighs she leaned into its cool caress and began to swim along a moonlit pathway to the rocks.
Climbing out onto a weed-covered ledge she lay down and let the moonlight have its way with her.
She was so entranced by the lure of the night that she didn’t hear the faint splash of another swimmer, and nor was she aware when something clambered onto her resting place.
Her first real awareness was the feeling of a pair of big hands, one grasping her wrists as they lay above her head and another turning her chin so she looked into a pair of completely lightless eyes. She smiled, and nodded, willing him to fulfil her dream, and lifting her body towards him in mute invitation. He stilled her movement with his calloused palms, caressing the column of her throat before turning his attention to her moon-silvered skin, licking and biting until she could no longer keep still. She moved again, lazily and slumbrously, and she could have sworn she heard a grunt of satisfaction from the male who held her in his thrall.
As he made her his she stared into the eyes of the moon, unable to do anything other than feel. It was a great sense of loss to her when he was done, and his weight lifted from between her thighs.
Then he was gone, leaving only a trail of phosphorescent bubbles to show her kelpie lover wasn’t a dream….
You are old, and your winter is near
When cold winds will blow round your ears
When you’ll shiver and shake
And your old bones will quake
Why doesn’t that fill you with fear?
In a spirit of kindness and the immolation of self upon the altar of mutual aid and comfort, one has undertaken to answer literary questions posed by one’s students and their little friends.
This particular problem is one that faces many of us as we strive to draw inspiration from the people around us. I have often found myself wondering if my next door neighbour has yet realised that he has been immortalised in my pen portrait of the evil villain in Chapter Thirteen of ‘Fatswhistle and Buchtooth’.
How do I include my annoying mother-in-law as a murder victim in my next novel without risking a divorce?
Thanking you for your kind attention.
This is an absolutely spiffing question Pennykins. The answer is, of course, a matter of complete simplicity to a mind as great as one’s own…
Describe the lady in every irritating little detail.
Enumerate her most revolting habits. Show the reader how she speaks, snores, breaks wind, misunderstands, and annoys. Detail her physicality, how she dresses, and how her voice sounds. Because she will NEVER recognise herself, and her offspring will equally not ever connect their beloved mother with the horror depicted in your prose. You are absolutely safe. Kill her off. With impunity. Or with whatever blunt, or sharp, instrument pleases you. Those who dislike her will recognise the old beldame and applaud your perspicacity. Her loved ones will never catch the reference.
Oh, and be sure to include the statement at the front of your book that all names, characters and events in the story are are fictitious and that no identification with actual persons (living or deceased), is intended or should be inferred. Then even the law is on your side.
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