Tag Archives: short story

The Vessel: Night

See part one here: The Vessel.

The ship slipped through the darkness of space with a quietness and stillness that belied its incredible speed. It was as if the ship was standing still and space was slipping by it. The light from a million stars streaked by outside the windows. The interior was dimly lit reflecting the early morning earth hour of 4a.m. which was displayed across the wall of the room.

Glancing at the readout, Catherine snuggled back into the warmth of her bed.  The temperature of her room was a steady 78 degrees, just the way she liked it. The quite background hum of the ships operations provided a perfect amount of white noise and the bed she was sleeping in was the softer than goose down yet still surprisingly supportive. She was pretty sure it was made of materials not found on Earth. She didn’t care. She had found paradise.

The Vessel: Food Edition

The Vessel: Return to Earth

The Would Be Thief

Alexander stood in the jewelry store eyeing the necklace nervously. This would be the biggest test of his powers yet.

The necklace lay in the case with an almost imperceptible glow. He doubted anyone else noticed the glow, he saw it because he could sense its power, feel it calling to him. It was a large silver pentagram with a deep red ruby pulsing at the center. It was attached to a long chain. It was nestled on dark purple velvet in the display case.

He took a deep breath and glanced around the shop. The owner was helping other customers. A woman with a fidgety toddler was browsing on the other side of the shop. The girl who had greeted him when he entered had gone into the back of the store. No one was watching him.

His palms were sweaty, so he wiped them on his pants then rubbed them together in concentration. He had to get this just right.

Reaching out, he touched the glass gingerly and slipped his hand right through it. Ecstatic he stood next to the case, fingers to forearm inside the case, the rest of his body outside. It had worked, he knew it would! He was getting pretty skilled at passing through solid objects.

His hand grasped the necklace and he carefully moved his arm back out of the case. His hand passed through the glass again, easily as a hot knife moves through melted butter. He brought his hand up, turned it over and opened his fist. No necklace.

The necklace lay in the case, tangled in an untidy heap next to the glass. So he had moved it, but it had not passed through the glass with his hand. Disappointment surged through him.  He had not anticipated this, had not taken into account the mass of the necklace in his calculations.

Sighing, he stuffed his hands into his jacket pocket and walked out of the shop into the oncoming blizzard. Hurrying toward home, he wasn’t watching where he was going so he never noticed the girl.  He just knew that he had more work to do.

From a shop two doors down, she stepped out onto the sidewalk to follow him. She knew little about him other than that both The Society and the Astyrian Brotherhood were watching him. That was all she needed to know. Silently, she trailed him through the falling snow as the sun sank below the horizon.




The old man sat dejectedly on the edge of a tattered couch, surrounded by furniture, and watched as the movers carried his belongings out and piled them around him.

He didn’t quite understand when they told him the house belonged to the bank now. He didn’t understand a lot these days, his brain was a little muddled. He supposed that was normal for a 90 year old man.  He knew he suffered from foggy thinking. He remembered when his wife, Frieda, was alive. She always took care of things like making sure the mortgage payment got sent in on time.

Not that he had a mortgage anymore. One of his clearer memories was taking Frieda on a long overdue vacation to celebrate after the house was finally paid off. Kids were all grown, house was paid off, that was a good time in their lives. The kids all had lives of their own now.

The thought of kids brought a slight but confused smile to his face as he struggled to remember their names. Bob Jr of course and Margo, Mildred, Mitch and Sarah.

Mitch. The smile left his face as another memory tugged on his brain.

“Dad, just sign the papers! Don’t be stubborn, I need the money!”

Mitch made it sound ok. He had needed it, for some reason.

He sat as the sun sank behind the horizon staring at the house that had been his home for close to seventy years. The house where he had carried his bride over the threshold, where they had raised five children. Where one of those children had betrayed him.

Frieda was dead, he was long since retired, most of his friends were gone and now his home was gone as well. He pulled the pistol from his jacket pocket. The one he had thought to defend his home with, but in the end, he didn’t have it in him to harm another person. Even the ones dragging him from his home.

“Frieda” he thought, as he pulled the trigger.


Browsing through used bookstores was one of her favorite hobbies. This was her first time in this one and she had already found several books that could prove useful. Stepping back from a shelf with a book in her hands, she inadvertently bumped right into him. She was always bumping into things while reading. She mumbled an apology as she closed the book.

“It’s ok” he replied. She stopped, electrified. She recognized that voice! Looking up she saw him. The square cut of his jaw, the blue of his eyes, the shock of dark hair falling in his face. He smiled and she knew she’d been caught.

Sighing, she set the book down on a shelf and began preparing a spell, but it was too late. He murmured a spell of his own as he placed a thin silver cuff on her left wrist. A dampener, great. She was just going to have to get out of this the old fashioned way.

With a roundhouse kick to his face, she knocked him off balance and ran for the door. She didn’t make it far, he had brought back up. She looked around at the team of five magic users that had been sent to capture her and knew there was no escape. At least not today.

At long last, she would have to face the high council. That is, unless she could convince him to let her go. She had three days to prove her innocence.

“Lucas!” she demanded indignantly, “Is this really necessary?”

“Oh Gretchen,” he replied, “Of course it is. Did you think I had forgotten how powerful you are?”

“Flattery will get you nowhere.”

“Oh, but it did before.” He gave her a dazzling smile.

She squirmed uncomfortably. Well, yes, that was true. But in her defense, he was ridiculously hot. She was human after all. Well, mostly human anyway. Whatever.

Coffee Shop

“I can’t deal with your shit anymore! You don’t respect me; you ridicule me in front of my friends. You tell me my dog doesn’t deserve to live in a house as big as mine! I don’t want to live like this!”

And with that, she turned and was gone from his life forever.

Eric sat at the small table at Starbucks, stunned. He sat starring down at the table, unwilling to watch her walk away. Well, she was fucking crazy after all.

Slowly, the other patrons went back to their own conversations and the noise level returned to normal. They graciously pretended to forget what they had just witnessed.

He sighed. It was too bad, really. He had been so sure this was the correct place and time. Oh, well. Time to move on and continue his search.

He snapped his fingers and vanished. One patron who had been staring at him, blinked, looked confused for a moment then shook her head and went back to her coffee unsure why she felt as if she had just forgotten something.

Dragon Flame

Alanya stood on the hillside watching the destruction in the valley below. She drew her red cloak close around her body and shivered in the damp twilight. She drew a deep breath and turned to face the dragon.

Imposing, large and red she sat on the hillside next to Alanya huffing warm tendrils of smoke into the cooling evening air.

“What can we do?” She asked her old friend.

Melancor huffed again, this time with the distinct tone of disdain.

“What can we do?” She responded, her deep voice rumbling over the hillside.

“We must find a way to put an end to this war!” Alanya responded, speaking in the ancient dragon tongue. “My people have lost their way. Dragons and humans no longer speak the same language, no longer share the same stories and legends, they no longer understand each other.”

Melancor nodded her head in agreement. “But how Dragon Flame?” she addressed her by the name the elders had called her many years ago when she had been a child. When she had been valued for her ability to speak to dragons.

War had broken out months ago, human warriors hunting dragons to their lairs and killing them in their sleep, breaking unhatched eggs, murdering the young! Dragons making raids on villages full of innocent people, those having nothing to do with the warriors.  Both humans and dragons were dying at alarming rates. The dragon population was in danger of becoming extinct. Truth be told, so was the human population.

Alanya had grown up a privileged child, a princess as it were. Yet privilege was not what she was taught. She learned at her mother’s knee that a leader is not there to indulge their own whims and desires but to toil tirelessly to protect and improve the lives of the people they serve. The people were her responsibility. All of these deaths were on her head now. It was her job to put an end to this.

It didn’t help that she was the last human to speak to the ancient dragon tongue, just as Melancor was the last dragon to speak any human tongue. They both had tried to speak sense, tried to avert the war but to no avail. The young among both species had no memory of the shared past, no belief in the ancient tales of the past. The dragon population was already in decline, leading many humans to disbelieve in their very existence. Until they didn’t.

Once fear had taken root, the course was set. Now that there had been atrocities committed on both sides, each side felt justified in their rampages. Alanya feared that this was the end.

“Take the younglings,” she advised the old dragon, “take them and hide. Fly far away across the mountains and find a place where they can grow in secret.”

“They should not have to hide!” Malancor roared.

Alanya shuddered but stood firm. She knew that her old friend was right, but what other choice was there? The dragons, that had once been their friends, their allies, their companions, were now their enemies and she saw no way to repair that. All she could do now was find a way to minimize the damage.

“You know I’m right. Go and I’ll made it my life’s mission to convince humans that dragons never existed. In a generation they will be nothing more than myth.”

If she could get the dragons to retreat, she could save what was left of her people. If the dragons left, Melancor could save what was left of hers. If people stopped believing in the dragons again, then none would go looking for them. Both species could live in peace.

In the end, Melancor saw the sense of it, just as Alanya knew she would.

Alanya walked through the smoking desolates ruins of the last village of her people. There were a handful of people left. Wounded warriors, women, children, a few elders. She blinked back her tears as as her mind raced with plans for rebuilding. Rebuilding and rewriting human history.

In the distance she heard a great dragon roar. The last of the great ones. She lifted her head and watched as the last of the dragons flew out of sight.

A Very Witchy New Year

“New Years Eve” she muttered to herself darkly, “bah humbug, who cares!”

She slogged through the drizzle morosely. It has been drizzling all day. She hated drizzle. It was such a wimpy, indecisive thing. If you’re going to rain, then go ahead and rain! If not, just stop with the nasty drizzling pellets already. She felt them stinging her as she walked. It was cold. You never knew in Texas what you were going to get for New Years Eve, weather-wise.

She remembered the year she and her sister had played outside on New Years Eve wearing tank tops and shorts. There were pictures of them frolicking in the sunny Texas heat. There were also pictures of them the very next day bundled up in coats, gloves and scarves, shivering against the cold while posing for the picture.

The thought of her sister only darkened her mood more. Amelie was the reason she was out here in this nastiness. She could be at a New Years Eve party, in the warm, dry penthouse apartment of her boss Peter Sullivan, toasting the New Year with friends and coworkers in New York City, drinking champagne and eating from a smorgasbord that cost more than her car. Instead, she was trudging through the streets after dark in the freezing drizzle of a Texas backwater town in the middle of nowhere.

The call had come in early that morning, just her sister insisting she needed her help, that it was an emergency, that she couldn’t say more over the phone and no, it couldn’t wait until after the holiday. So Shannon had boarded the first flight out she could catch, flown into DFW then rented a car to take her where she needed to go.

Arriving at the address her sister had given her, she found an empty house. Amelie was not answering her cell phone and the house looked like a struggle had ensued. Great.

Shannon pulled a gun from the holster clipped under her jacket and cautiously made her way through the house. In an upstairs bedroom she found her sisters phone. That explained why she wasn’t answering it. It also made it clear that she hadn’t left of her own volition. No way Amelie would have left her phone behind.

A sound from the master bath got her attention and she slowly made her way to the door. Pushing the door opening cautiously with her foot while keeping both hands on the Ruger 9mm in her hands, she peered into the dimly lit room. A black cat regarded her suspiciously from the counter. Tucking the gun away she moved into the room and spoke to it.

“It’s ok kitty, I’m just looking for my sister.” She said soothingly, “Don’t suppose you know where she went, do you?” she asked as the searched the room for clues.

The cat was solid black with bright yellow eyes and its tail swished back and forth as it continued to track her every move.

“I might.” A voice said.

Shannon spun around and yanked the ruger from its holster. She swung it around the room searching for the source of the voice but there was no one there. No one but the cat. She turned incredulously toward it.

“You didn’t just…….” She trailed off as she shook herself. Of course the cat didn’t just speak! It was a cat!

“I did” the voice said and this time it was unmistakably coming from the cat.

“Wha—“ she began, “I need to sit down” she said as she backed into the bedroom and sank onto the chair in the corner.

Shannon Murphy was a trained investigator. She worked for one of New York City’s premier private investigative firms. Peter Sullivan had gotten filthy rich off the firm he owned that provided both PI work and private security. Shannon was one of his protégés, on a rocket train to the top. She had the highest clearance rate in the agency while also being one of the youngest. She was a rock star and she’d seen a lot. But never a talking cat.

But Shannon was practical if she was anything. If she heard a cat speak with her own two ears, then that cat spoke! Her observation skills were one of her best assets after all. She couldn’t afford to start doubting herself now. If the cat had information about her sisters whereabouts, then she would find her sister first and deal with the shock and impossibility of a talking cat later.

“Where?” She asked, instead of the other thousands questions that were running through her head. Like how the hell can you talk or am I losing my fucking mind?

“I said I MIGHT know” the cat replied as it jumped off the bathroom counter and sauntered into the bedroom like it was a normal cat or something.

“There was a man here with a gun who was very insistent that she go with him because he needed a witch.”

“A witch?” she asked in disbelief. But why not? She was talking to a cat after all.

“Yes, surely you knew your own sister was a witch, right?” the cat asked incredulously.

“Hey!” she said defensively. Talking was one thing, but she was not going to be judged by a cat! It was a cat, what gave it the right to judge her? “Amelie and I haven’t been that close for awhile.” She said in way of a defense. A weak one, she knew.

Her parents had died, she and Amelie had had a falling out and she had left town and never looked back. She felt a flush of guilt. She had thought Amelie was flighty, not responsible, partied too much, hung out with the wrong kind of people, was in short, throwing her life away. The life that their parents had worked so hard to give them. The college education that their parents had worked so hard to provide just thrown out the window when Amelie decided to drop out after one semester. Her crazy new age ideas….

Maybe not so crazy after all?

“An actual witch?” She asked skeptically, “Like a spell casting, magic using witch?”

The cat gazed at her coolly, “Do you know any other kind?” he asked.

“Well, I don’t know any actual, real life witches. People who say they practice witchcraft, read crystals, palms, tarot cards, whatever, those are just crackpot new age shysters, right?”

“If you say so.” The cat replied as it licked it’s paw.

“Ok, whatever,” She exploded, “this isn’t the time to reexamine my beliefs! Where is my sister?”

“I overhead the man with gun on the phone mention the local hardware store. So I’m guessing he took her there.”

The cat had insisted on accompanying her. Never in her wildest dreams would she have thought she’d be tracking her sister, who was a witch, with a cat for backup. A cat!

She had parked the rental car and was now walking through the mud and cold around the back of the local hardware store. How in the hell could her sister be a witch and not have told her? You weren’t the most supportive sister a voice whispered in the back of her mind. Dismissing the stab of guilt as yet another thing to examine later, she made her way to a window and peered in.

Getting the lay of the land and seeing no signs of anyone moving inside the store, she hurried around to the back of the building to look for a way in. As she stepped toward the door she heard a voice say, “Freeze!”

She instinctively reached for her gun, but found herself frozen in place. She literally could not move. She lifted her eyes to the woman standing in front of her. Tall but not taller than herself, blonde, curvy, the woman stood with her hands outstretched pointed toward her, holding the spell in place.

“I warned you!” the blond woman yelled.

“I—who—what?” Shannon tried vainly to move.

Looking closer at the woman in front of her, Shannon gasped in surprise, “Karen??”

“Shannon?” Karen sounded equally as shocked at seeing her, she dropped her hands and Shannon found that she could move again.

“That’s a pretty neat trick!” she said as she tried not to notice the rain had made the tight fitting clothes the other woman was wearing cling to her body even more closely. Clung in a way that made Shannons heart rate increase a notch or two.

She noticed. Flushing, she ducked her head and nodded, “Sorry about that! Come on then, let’s find your sister!”

As Shannon fumbled for her lock pick kit, Karen simply reached out toward the knob, made a turning motion in the air and the door swung open. Shannon motioned for Karen to go around the left side of the store while she veered to the right, gun back in her hand. She couldn’t let Karen’s blue eyes, or their shared past, distract her now. She couldn’t spare the time right now to reflect on how Karen had been her first girlfriend, the one who convinced her to come out to her family. Nor did she have time to reflect on the painful breakup that had been the real impetus for her flight to New York. She had to find her sister.

It was the cat that found the trap door in the back of the store room. Opening it, the trio descended the stairs into a small room where Amelie sat tied to a chair. Oh, how cliché!

Before she could go more than a few feet into the room, a man appeared from behind a shelf. She swung the gun toward him as Karen disarmed him with the wave of her hand. If Karen could do all that, how the hell had Amelie gotten taken hostage in the first place Shannon wondered. It didn’t matter. In a flash, she was in front of the man, toppling him to the ground with a well placed sweep of her foot. Kneeling with her knee in his chest and the gun pointed at his face she ordered Karen to untie her sister.

It seems Karen had the same thought Shannon had, “How did this happen?” She was asking as she released Amelie from her bonds.

“I’m not sure” the small, dark haired woman answered, “I think he had someone working with him, a witch!” she exclaimed.

“A witch?” Karen squeaked in alarm, “What witch?”

As if in answer, a fireball zoomed toward them, Amelie now free, threw her hands up and blocked the blast as the two women rolled out of the way. The cat  darted under a table.

“What the hell?” Shannon screamed as she rolled for cover herself.

Now free, the man jumped up from the floor and ran toward Amelie. Shannon didn’t think or hesitate, her sister was in danger, she aimed the gun and pulled the trigger. The man fell. She glanced around the room, but did not see the person who had thrown the fireball.

“I think she ran away” Amelie confirmed, “She knew she was outnumbered.”

An hour later the three women and the cat were back in Amelies kitchen, dry, sipping hot tea. Shannon was looking expectantly at her wayward sister, “A witch?” she asked again.

It put everything into a different light. Her sister wasn’t flighty or ridiculously new age-y. She was a bonafide, real life, spell casting witch! And apparently so was her ex girlfriend. Maybe she had been wrong about………everything.

“Well yeah, it’s a long story” Amelie smiled weakly at her sister.

Glancing at Karen as the clock struck midnight, Shannon was suddenly happy to be in the backwoods of Texas instead of a posh New York penthouse. Leaning back in her chair, cradling her cup of tea she replied, “I have time.”