Monday, November 23, 2009

Shayna and Daniel Thanksgiving by Alix Richards

I was challenged to write a short and failed the first time out of the gate. However, I am not the type of person to let something like that get the better of me. So because Stephanie Becken is a dear friend and swore I could do it, I tried (again!). This is it. The one little piece of Thanksgiving I can give two very dear family members of mine. If there was one thing I could do I would give them what I gave my characters. Enjoy! And Happy Thanksgiving!

"You're making it out to be worse than it really is, Daniel." Shayna continued cutting the potatoes at the sink. "My family has always celebrated Thanksgiving. It's a tradition. You have yours, we have ours. We're not so different."
"It's how you celebrate that is strange, my heart." Out of the corner of her eye she saw him staring at the spiced turkey she had to put in the oven. She smiled. "My people rejoice at the harvest, but you give thanks to a god that is not mine. This I do not understand. You know the Ancient Creators are real, you have to or the human cancer would have taken your life. I saved you, yet you still worship this lesser god."
He shook his head and she turned to him. Smiling she touched his forearm. "Tradition, Daniel. Until I met you and your family I had no others beliefs than what had been taught to me. Now I have to tread carefully between the two. Until I have to stop seeing my Mortal family and friends I want to spend as many of these holidays with them." She laid her head against his chest, and closed her eyes. "My parents are old, soon they will be gone. I am between two worlds where I belong to both, yet one more than the other. I am no longer Mortal because you saved my life. But I am still human in my thoughts and feelings."
"I understand." He wrapped his arms around her and kissed the top of her head. "I will do this for you. I was willing to let you live out your life as long as we were together. I didn't want to bring you into my world, but I couldn't let you die from that disease. I wish I could save others, like I saved you. I cannot and for that I am eternally sorry."
"Please don't be," She held him closer to her, pressing her body to his. "There was a reason for my breast cancer, and another for it occurring during a time when you were undecided. Eventually we will find a cure for it. Until then we just pray and be thankful to whosever god that we survive. It's all we can do."
She felt his arms tighten around her more, and his nose brush the top of her head. Even at 5'6" he was still over a head taller than her. But she loved him just the same. It made her feel dainty, his height and strength compared to hers.
"I will give thanks to your human god, Shayna, because that is what you want and what your family believes. I have no wish for them to think I have no belief system." She could feel the rumble of laughter echoing through his chest against her check and her smile grew. "Besides, it wouldn't be good for your religious family to think you married, a- what are they called again? Oh yes, a Satanist."
That made her laugh, he was right though. Her step-mother and father would automatically assume he was a Satan worshipper if he refused to partake of the Thanksgiving holiday.
Then her chuckle grew as she thought of Christmas.
"I do not think that is funny, my love." Daniel's voice rumbled in her ear through his chest. "I was being serious when I said that. I wasn't joking. I made a vow to Tarrinaysa to appear human while here. I must keep my word."
"It's not that, dear heart." She giggled then tipped her head back to look up into his face. "I was thinking of Christmas next month. It's a bigger celebration then Thanksgiving."
"It will be fine. You'll live. Besides, I have many things to be thankful this year. I'm alive, Daniel. And I'm married to a wonderfully Immortal male who thinks the world revolves around me. What more can I ask for?" The tears she had been holding back blurred her vision. She didn't want to cry, but her emotions were high at this time of the year. "According to the specialists I shouldn't be here, and because of your Creators I am. And for that they will have my eternal gratitude."
She let them fall this time when he wrapped her in his arms again. It was alright to cry. She could and would now.
And she did.
She couldn't tell her family and friends what saved her life, nor could the doctors find anything to explain why she was knocking on death's door one moment only to be completely healthy the next.
Healthy right down to being able to carry the child she wanted to give Daniel more than anything. She was able to now, and as the tears rolled down her cheeks she could feel that new life move inside her. An event she hadn't shared with her Immortal husband.
She would soon, before her family arrived.
Family! Oh geez! I got to get this dinner done!
Stop, Shayna, it will be fine. You're family loves you, they'll love your dinner.
His whispered voice tickled her mind, making her tears halt and her smile grow. Stepping up on tip toe to kissed him on the mouth.
"It will be alright, but it won't be ready if we keep stopping. Put the bird in the oven. Set the timer too, please? Thank you."
"Yes, the bossy female is back."
"Ha-ha, very funny! Now scoot! This is the first Thanksgiving family dinner we are hosting, I can't make any mistakes." She slapped at his hands and laughed as he tried to pull her back to him. "I mean, it Daniel. Move! The turkey takes the longest, everything else is easier."
"Yes ma'am." He saluted then turned to the pan setting on the counter. "I will do as thee commands."
"Yeah, right!" She laughed her mood returning to the happiness she felt before the tears. "Right now you'll do as I command, but not later tonight."
"Well, no, ofcourse not." He grinned as he set the pan in the oven then straightened to look at her, closing the door with a bang. He wiggled his eyebrows. "I've heard you like it when I'm in charge then."
She didn't know if she was blushing, but she could feel the heat rise in her cheeks. She knew exactly what he was talking about, and she hated the fact they didn't have time for it right now. They only had hours to get everything finished before their company arrived.
"Later, big boy," She tossed the hand towel at him her lips tilted upward. "After they leave."
"I'm holding you to that, my heart."
Finally, everything was complete. Shayna thought as she set the handcrafted center piece in the center of the large table. Hands on her hips she surveyed the picture before her.
"I think they will love it, my love." Daniel wrapped his arms around her pulling her back against his front, the evidence of his desire pressing into the rear of her jeans. "I do."
"You're just saying that because you know I'm nervous." She laid her hands on his forearms linked across her middle. "Daniel, we need to talk before everyone gets here."
"I already promised I wouldn't use any magik and I wouldn't shift. I even agreed to leave your brother alone. What more do I have to do?" His chuckled vibrated her back, making her giggle.
"It has nothing to do with my family, dear one. Well, at least not in the way you're thinking." She turned in his arms to face him. Telling herself it was now or never. Her parents and siblings would arrive soon, and she wanted him to know first. Before everyone else; he was the father after all, and the baby was real because of him and his saving her life. "There's a small matter that we never talked about because I was ill."
"What matter?"
"Oh, well-, um- children?"
"Yes, Daniel. Little miniatures of us, a testament of our love for each other."
"I do not know if the healing and conversion repaired the damage to that part of your body, honey. You are the first True Mate I know of that has been saved from death by cancer."
She giggled again. Wrapping her arms around his waist she hugged him, the tears were back. But this time for the happiness that flooded her system.
"We have nothing to worry about in that area, my love." She tilted her head back to look up at him, her smile bright she knew as were her eyes. "I am just over two months along, with a boy. I can feel him, he talks with me. I hear him!"
If she wasn't so overjoyed with her news she would have noticed that Daniel was silent, his eyes huge and his jaw slack. But she continued on with her goshing over the baby she had a relationship with that wasn't like the ones her friends' spoke of when they were expecting their children. This was so profound she had been speechless when she first heard the tiny voice.
"Daniel?" She stopped when she felt him sway. Her big Immortal never faltered. She had never seen him look pale before in her life, his skin tone always perfectly golden-bronze. "Daniel? Are you alright?
"A-a baby?"
"Yes," She nodded with a smile.
"A-a baby boy you said?"
"Yes, a boy. Like you."
"Um- um, I think I better sit. I don't feel so good."
Now she was concerned. Immortals weren't ever ill; they were perfectly healthy in all ways.
Assisting him to the sofa was hard, she became more worried when he dropped like a ball when let go out of a two-story window.
"Are you okay, Daniel?"
He just nodded; no sound came out of his mouth. Now she was terrified. She was new to this life he gave her in exchange for her old one. Connecting with other Immortals wasn't in her lesson plans. Calling on Tarrinaysa also wasn't her forte either.
"Wow! I'm going to be a daddy!"
At his loud exclamation she jumped, startled. She stepped back just as he bound to his feet, taking her in his arms and swinging her around.
She laughed, he laughed.
"Yeah, really."
"You said that already."
"I know. I just can't find any other word to describe the sensations. Wow."
He kissed her then a long love and passion filled caress that robbed her of rational thought processes.
Then there was a knock on the door.
The troops had arrived.
Shayna decided clean up could wait until the following morning. Right now she just made sure the food was put away so she could cuddle up with her man, it was a wonderful dinner.
Her father and step-mother took the news of her baby very well. Considering the doctors told them she would never have children of her own. Radiation took care of that.
"You're quiet."
"Just thinking."
"The little boy inside, he can't wait to play with his cousins. All of them, including the girls. He sounds a lot like you, Daniel."
"He is my son."
"Yes; that he is." She burrowed closer to his warmth. "Will he find his other half? Will the gods match him? Have they already matched him with her?"
"Don't worry about something that is still years off, my heart. I am certain they have, or they will. Remember, I roamed many lands and saw many centuries before I found you. Sometimes that is what happens. Be thankful, love. You and I and our son later in his life, will have something that no other can achieve. A love so profound the connection is on a level that isn't even understood by those of us who it happens too."
"I will try not to worry. But as a mother, I will."
"Yes and so will I." She felt his face brush the top of her head. "But know that she is out there waiting for him to find her. When the time is right they will meet, just as we did."
She didn't respond, for there were no words to describe the feelings that she knew her baby would one day feel for another.
Instead she smiled and relaxed against the broad chest of the man who saved her from death and gave her a child of her own.
What more could she be thankful for?
She has everything she ever wanted in life.
I'm right here, Momma. I love you and I can't wait to see you.
This time the tears that fell were those of happiness and joy. She had a husband who she loved and who loved her in return and a son who she could speak with often.
Life was beautiful.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Thanksgiving After the Fall by Sky

Just because Thanksgiving should be heartwarming....even if there aren't zombies sometimes.

Turkey was not going to happen. If any survived the Event, they hadn’t been found yet. But there were chickens around, and Shay planned to catch one, and she had a lot of dried Indian corn to grind and make cornbread. From that she could make a tasty stuffing. She had one can of cranberry that she thought looked okay. Not swollen or anything, just a little dented. Shay was pretty sure she could pull together an approximation of the feast that Brady would remember from past years.
He was coming home after almost ten years. She had gotten a letter! It was the first letter she had gotten since the reorganized Pony Express Service had begun its deliveries. Until that time, Shay had not had any idea whether Brady was alive, dead, or Other.
According to his letter, Brady had been in D.C. when the Event happened, and had not been able to get outside the fence until now. They weren’t letting anyone out unless they were absolutely certain that they weren’t Other, and if they let Brady out, he was alive and well.
Shay rummaged around in the cabinet over the sink, looking for a square cake pan. One of the funny things about the A.E., After Event, was the shortage of grains. Most of the standardized grain varieties just wouldn’t grow anymore, so it had been necessary to raid the heritage varieties stored in seed banks and try to get enough of them growing. The first few years had been almost entirely grown for seed, and it had only been in the last few years that any had been available for distribution, and only this year that any had gotten this far west. She patted the sack of dried corn fondly. It had been difficult to get the seed, but the results were worth it.
A sound came from the lane out in front of the house. Shay froze. Was it Brady? She listened carefully, the sound of hooves pounded toward her from the east, but never slowed. It wasn’t Brady after all. She tried not to let disappointment take over, there was no predicting how long it would take to come this far. The roads were uncertain and plagued with thieves. Then the hooves sounded closer again returning. Maybe it was him after all. Her heart leapt in her breast as she froze in her tracks. Footsteps sounded on the wooden steps and there was a tentative knock on the door.
“Shay?” the query came muffled from the other side of the door. “Shay, are you here? They told me you were here.”
Shay gulped a breath of air, apparently she had been holding it while he walked up to the door. Her knees unlocked and she ran the few steps to pull open the door. It was Brady, a little older and worse for wear, but Brady!
“Oh my God, Brady, it really is you!” He looked to thin! But then, so did everyone these days.
Now it was Brady’s turn to freeze. He stared at her as if he’d never seen her before, and didn’t move forward through the doorway until Shay laughed and grabbed his hand to pull him in. Then he acted, and pulled her right into his arms.
“Brady! I didn’t know if you were alive or dead until I got your letter. I was so afraid!”
“I had no way.”
“Of course you didn’t. How could you have contacted me, cell phone?” She laughed again, almost hysterically this time. “But I waited. It was so hard.”
“Shay, you never ....”
“No, I never. And they tried to make me. I’m a young woman, most likely fertile. They tried very hard.”
“Shay, I was in D.C. through all of it. I probably am not a fertile male. The pressure is only going to get worse.”
“I know, my darling. but they will give us time to try. If I don’t get pregnant in six months or so, we may have to do something to appease them, but for now, it’s just us.”
Brady bent to press his lips to Shay’s forehead, then her cheeks, first left, then right. He pressed a firm but chase kiss to her lips. “ I have been riding for weeks, and I need to clean up. I don’t want to come to you reeking of the road.”
“Oh, Brady, I’d take you reeking of the sewers if need be! I never thought I’d see you again.”
What little sense of propriety Brady had melted away with her words. “I don’t think I’ve been in any sewers, but if you’ll just get me some water, I’ll wipe off the worst of the dust.”
Shay brought the bucket of water from the spring, and a soft cloth and wiped the dust of the road off Brady’s face. She treasured every stroke of the cloth as it touched her husband’s face. He looked older and there was some gray in his dark brown hair. She gently touched the lines beside his still-vivid blue eyes. He looked so beautiful to her.
Slowly she wiped off the accumulated grime of weeks of riding, adoring every inch of skin revealed. As Shay pushed Brady’s shirt off his shoulders, she traced a long scar on his left arm.
“I got that in the invasion. But it’s not a battle wound, it was an exploding glass window, a big piece cut right through my shirt.” Feeling her touching another scar on his lower back, he said, “But that one was caused by an actual claw.”
The scar was jagged and extended at least six inches, and was far too close to his kidneys for comfort. Shay brought her arms around to the Brady’s front and opened his jeans, one button at a time. She pushed them over his lean hips, waiting while he stepped out of them. Underwear was now an anachronism, so he was naked in front of her.
The bucket of water was grimy, so Shay dumped it outside the door in her small flower bed, and went to pull another bucketful of water. She walked down the short path to the spring, feeling Brady’s eyes on her back as she went. The respite was welcome. Brady’s return was so overwhelming, and she didn’t want to break down in tears right in front of him and ruin their reunion. Dipping her bucket into the spring of cold water, she pressed her eyes closed tight and tried to focus on the joy of their reunion.
Ten years! Another few months and she would have been forcibly paired with a man who could give her children. Even now, if she didn’t get pregnant, they would make her have sex with someone who could impregnate her. If she were fertile, anyway. But those problems would have to wait for another day.
Shay tossed her long blonde braid over her shoulder and started back toward the house. Brady was standing in the open doorway, completely naked and obviously delighted to see her. Oh my! She hurried toward him, dropping the bucket and oblivious of the water spilling onto the ground. Road dust be damned!
Shay flung herself into Brady’s waiting arms, and he lifted her off her feet. His kisses burned into her lips and she opened hers to allow him entrance. She felt his hands stroke down her back and lift the bottom of her cotton shirt to pull it over her head. Bras were also gone, not all new things were bad, so now she was naked from the waist up.
Brady stroked his hands back down her back and slipped his fingers into the waistband of her long cotton skirt. He pulled it down over her hips, feeling how much thinner she was. He remembered her as a little more than curvy, and always fretting about it. No amount of reassurance had convinced her that her love found every line, every curve of her endearing and enticing. Now she was more like the frame she had sought in that long ago day, and he found her just the same, it was her heart and her soul that he loved, the heart that had waited so long, and the soul with the strength to resist the pressures put on her to move forward and leave their love behind.
Now that they were both completely nude, Brady couldn’t stop caressing her, giving her little biting kisses that followed the pathways made by his hands on her flesh. He moved from her mouth to her neck, inhaling the fragrance that, even now without scented cosmetics available, was uniquely and sweetly hers. His lips descended to the rounded mounds of her breast, hands stroking, cupping, and lips closing over a rosy tip. He heard her gasp as he grazed her lightly with his teeth.
Shay was as hungry for Brady as he was for her. Her own hands roamed over the planes and valley of his skin, tingling with awareness. She pressed her lips to his shoulder and closed her eyes. No amount of contact could make up for ten years of doubt and worry, but it was enough to have him back at her side now. When Brady pressed the length of his lean masculine body against hers, she whimpered. Then she took his hand and pulled him toward the bedroom, trembling slightly with emotion and need.
Brady kept his other hand on Shay’s waist, needing to touch her with both hands. She looked so beautiful, even more beautiful than he remembered, and had her skin always been this soft? Her hair in that braid was catching his attention too. The moment they entered the bedroom and fell to the bed, tangled in each other’s arms, Brady pulled the braid loose, sinking his hands in the long waves. She had worn it shoulder length before, now it fell around both of them in a silken curtain. He moaned deep in this throat and captured her mouth in a kiss.
“Now, Brady, I’ve waited so long, now!”
“I missed you so much,’ He said, stroking her body in long, slow sweeps. “I want to relearn every inch of you.” As his hand slipped between her thighs, he felt how ready she was for him.
“We have time. But this time, this first time again, I want you inside me, now! I ache for you.”
Brady pressed Shay’s thighs apart with one muscular leg and slid inside her in one smooth stroke. He groaned and held still. “Give me just a minute, I don’t want to end it this soon.”
“I love you inside me,” Shay gasped, wrapping her legs around his waist and clutching Brady to her with both arms.
“Oh, Shay,” Brady pushed slowly, building a rhythm, in, out, pressing against just the spot inside her that he remembered made her writhe. And he wasn’t disappointed at her reaction.
“Brady, oh my God! I love you so much!” And just like that she was over the top.
Her muscles contracted around him, and he was quick to follow her into bliss. “I love you, Shay,” he cried out.
As her love collapsed on top of her, spent for the moment, Shay prayed that Brady would be able to impregnate her, and soon. If not, they would be forced to have another man in her bed, and she hated the idea. But the Event had made fertile people very valuable, and the Others were out there, probably getting ready to attack again. Shay would have to make sure and have a baby for the sake of humanity.
But for today, for this Thanksgiving, Shay had the love of her life back, in her arms and in her bed. And that was more than enough.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Zombie Pilgrims on Parade by Sky

     “Welcome everyone to the 30th annual Graves Department Store Thanksgiving day Parade!  I’m Zanku Kitty, here with my co-host Grief Abandon.  How’s it hanging Grief?”
     “It fell off, Kitty, but thanks for asking.”
     “Oops, my bad. Well you can’t have everything, Grief.”
     “I wasn’t going to mention your nose, Kitty.”
     “Well I never!”
     “Even if  you did, I couldn’t do anything about it.  Can we move on, please?  I see the first float is heading our way.”
     “Zombietown, Massachusetts is known for this spectacle on Thanksgiving Day every year, Grief  The residents do their best to attract as many tourists as possible to share their Thanksgiving Feast.”
     “A truly welcoming atmosphere here, Kitty, and this float received the Mayor’s Prize for epitomizing this year’s theme, “Lend a helping Hand.”  That lovely young thing at the front is waving the mayor’s actual hand, loaned to us for this occasion. Don’t lose that hand, Wendy, the mayor needs it to sign the Parks Bill next week.”
     “And coming up next is the High School Shuffling Band.  You have to admire these young people for their determination.  Most of the percussion section had their hands sewn on extra tight, just for today’s performance.  Can’t have a repeat of last year, Grief!”
     “That was quite a melee, Kitty, all those kids digging through that pile of limbs trying to match whose hands were whose.  I’m glad they took precautions, be prepared, I always say!”
      “That’s good advice, Grief.  Maybe you should have taken it yourself last night.”
     “Do we have to keep getting personal, Kitty?”
     “Sorry, Grief.  But if a certain body part were to show up, what would it be worth to you?”
     “Kitty, you bitch! What do you... Our producer indicates it’s time for a message from our sponsor, Graves Department Store, the store that helps you keep it all together.  We’ll be right back.”
     “Welcome back to the parade, I’m Zanku Kitty.”
     “And I am Grief Abandon.  We are starting to see a few of the parade-watchers heading indoors now.  With the icy wind, there have been a few wardrobe malfunctions, and some of the mama’s don’t want their little zombies to see anything fall off that they didn’t know was there to start with.  But I’m sure we’ll see them all later at the big feast.”
     “Along with all of our wonderful visitors, Grief.  The city council has extended their usual gracious invitation to all the living to come join us and bring their brains, er, families. It’s sure to be a delicious spread.”
     “Let’s talk about the float approaching us right now. It’s certainly unusual, Kitty.”
     “Yes, it is, Grief.  My notes tell me that it is the Merchant’s Prize winner, selected for its fine selection of Zombietown’s wares.  The town is known for it’s outstanding prosthetic devices.  The young people modeling these fine products are members of the local sports teams.  As you can imagine, they are big fans of the artificial limbs produced here.”
     “Yes they are, Kitty.”
     “Perhaps you should stop by one of the shops after the parade, Grief.”
     “Shut up, Kitty.”
     “If you think I’m going back to the motel with  you with that big gaping hole in your....”
     “Look, Grief, here comes the Mayor himself, Bob N. Bob and his death-partner, Chompers.   Hello, Mr. Mayor.  Do  you have a few words for our viewers at home?”
     “Hello, Kitty, Grief.  It’s a great day for the parade and for the town!  I want to remind all of our visitors to be sure to come to the town hall after the parade for the big feed.  It’s always an experience!”
     “Thank you, Mr. Mayor.”
     “You’re welcome, Grief.  And you’re looking very nice today, Kitty.”
     “Thank you, Mr. Mayor.  At least someone around here is a gentleman!”
     “You’re very welcome, Kitty.  After all, a nose isn’t everything.  Many of our finest citizens are among the noseless.”
     “Mr. Mayor, I think Kitty is overcome with emotion at your kind words.  Perhaps you’d better rejoin the parade.  NOW!”
     “I see what you mean, Grief.  Let’s go, Chompers.  Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.”
      “Happy Thanksgiving, Mr. Mayor.  Keep up the good work, Chompers.”
     “Grief, what does Chompers do again?”
     “The mayor. Look, Kitty, here comes the Founders Float.”
     “Zombietown, Massachusetts is the only town in all of North America featuring the actual founding fathers riding on a float.”
     “Look at Zedediah Claw.  No, Daddy Claw, no don’t wave!  Shoot, somebody pick up Daddy Claw’s hand and tuck it in his jacket.  These founding father’s get so enthusiastic, they forget how breakable they are.”
     “He’s probably excited about the feast, Grief.  Remember, all you tourists are invited to the feast immediately after the parade.  Just come right on in, someone will take care of you.”
     “Here comes Santa Claus!”
     “The kiddies are getting really excited.  This is the first year they could find anyone to fill out the suit.  Hiya, Santa!”
      “Hello Kitty! Have you been a good girl this year?”
      “Why, Santa, you old devil, you tell me.”
     “Him too, Kitty?”
     “Don’t you look at me like that! I can’t be exclusive with someone who just falls apart at the least little thing.”
     “What do you want for Christmas, Grief?”
     “All I want for Christmas is my ...”
     “I can tell you what he wants, Santa, can I sit in your lap?”
     “Sure thing, little girl, whisper right here in old Santa’s ear.”
     “Kitty, don’t you dare! Don’t be sharing our private business with that old rickety lech.”
     “I see, Kitty, I see.  That is a problem. Grief, you want to come up here on Santa’s lap and tell him what size you’d like?”
     “Oh my God, Kitty!”
     “I was only trying to help, Grief. Santa understands that, don’t you stud?”
     “We are almost out of time, here.  Kitty and I would like to thank you for joining us for the Graves Department Store Thanksgiving Day Parade.  It’s time to head on down to the town hall for dinner.  I hope to see you all there, with bells on.”

Hunting Canned Cranberries: A Freak Sorority Short by Stephanie Beck

Pammy muttered to herself as she rifled through her cupboards looking for a missing can of cranberries. Thanksgiving dinner was T-minus fifty minutes away and she had a set schedule if things were going to be ready when her father arrived. Since her mother died, every Thanksgiving was the same. She opened the cans of corn, green beans, carrots and cranberries. Her father bought a cooked turkey from the deli along with mashed potatoes and a pumpkin pie. No matter what was happening in their lives, Thanksgiving was their thing and if she didn't have cranberries there would be hell to pay.

She reached to the very back and with a triumphant shout pulled out a dusty can of jellied berries. The date was barely good but definitely within use proving once again that she was smart to take advantage of the two for one offers. She shopped half as often and any time-saver was good. As a kindergarten teacher and demon slayer, her minutes were at a premium most days and waiting in line to buy toilet paper and cereal pissed her off.

The bowls of her offerings were set out and ready to nuke, the small kitchen table set with the finest in paper dishes and a glance at the clock said she'd made it with twenty minutes to spare. She dumped the cranberries and managed to keep them in their can-ribbed perfection and pulled out one of the long necks she'd bought for her father. They would, eat, drink and talk about killing demons. Happy Thanksgiving.

She was about to turn on the Stones when her trip wire rang. The fish line across her end of the hall was too low to be tripped over but it alerted her to everything outside her apartment door. It was never a good thing for a demon hunter to be taken by surprise. She checked her Blackberry for the instant feed recorder and scowled at the top of a brown head that wasn't her father. The stranger smelled human and knocked politely. Just what she needed, a Jehovah's Witness or magazine salesman to bug her before her father came. If Big Jim were here they'd terrorize the interloper together but since it was just her, she'd make it quick.

"Delivery for…hell."

"Wow, Bricker, still as charming as ever I see," Pammy said, eye to eye with a set of baby blues she hadn't seen since high school.
"Pamela Dickerson. How did I not put that together?" He held out a warm cardboard box. "Thanksgiving dinner from Jimmy Dickerson. Happy holidays."

"Huh?" She held the box in one arm and grabbed his surprisingly firm bicep with the other. "Did he say anything else?"

She watched him roll his eyes, the same ones that back in the day had always been below hers but sometime in the last ten years since he'd grown six inches and become shockingly good looking. He fished out a paper from his coat.

"There was a message," he admitted. "'Sorry honey, Uncle Ed's in town and we've got a hunting party by the light of the moon.' Huh, he shouldn't be hunting at night."

"I see," she said, undeniably disappointed but if her uncle was in town that meant he was chasing a dangerous demon and needed her dad's help. "Well, thanks for dropping this off. I suppose you'd better get back to work. Do I tip you? I've never had a grocery delivery before."

"I'm the owner so don't worry about the tip," he said magnanimously. "And you were my last delivery so I'm heading home to watch the game, drink beer and fall asleep in my chair."

Her surprise must have shown because he blushed a little and stepped back further into the hall. "Well that was too much information. It was nice seeing you Pammy, maybe we can do this again in another ten years."

"Wait," she said as he began down her hall. "Are you really just going home to do what you said? I mean, because if you are then you might as well stay and watch the game while you drink my beer and eat."

"Really?" Hesitantly he took a step toward her.

"Yeah, I mean, I've got a ton of food and like you said, it's been ten years. Why not catch up?"
Peter looked around the little apartment and wondered why the hell he wasn't home. The place was packed with things belonging to a woman he'd barely spoke with in high school. She'd been a freak and he'd been a loser. High school common law would have them bonding but she'd been a scary freak and he'd been a wimpy loser. The decorative knives and swords that didn't look so decorative hanging above plastic drawers full of craft supplies told him he was once again over his head.

"So are you still afraid of using public restrooms?" she asked, running the microwave like a pro while he looked at a picture of a bunch of scary looking women and one dog, wait that was just a really hairy woman. Yikes.

"Do you still give blow jobs in janitor closets?" he replied and winced.

She laughed out loud and he was relieved. His mouth had gotten him in trouble on more than one occasion and freak or not she'd invited him for Thanksgiving when he'd have spent it alone.

"Not nearly as often as I'd like," she said, still laughing. "Mostly I teach kindergarteners to read and help Dad with his company in the evenings. You?"

"I still prefer to use the bathroom at my house, which I bought last year. I took over Mr. Harrison's grocery a couple years ago and have sold my soul to the produce supplier," he replied and picked up a strange piece of hard, blue plastic. "What is this?"

"Ah, maybe put that down Bricker." He scowled at the stupid nickname. "No I'm serious, you don't want to touch that."

"What is it?" he asked, rubbing his hand over the smooth surface.

"It's a demon penis."
She watched him drop the demon tool like it was hot and bit back a laugh. He'd found her favorite trophy and now he was wiping his hands on his pants. Poor guy. She put the dishes on the table and handed him hand sanitizer.

"You are still weird as hell, aren't you?" he muttered, accepting a squirt.

"Some things you don't outgrow," she agreed. "Let's eat."

Pammy couldn't believe how well Bricker had grown up. He had great manners and since her dad and most of the men in her life had horrible ones she recognized the thought he put into eating. He kept his mouth closed unless he was speaking and when he spoke he said things that were moderately intelligent and non-demon related. For the first time in her life she enjoyed a meal and didn't resent the fact that wasn't out hunting, discussing hunting or thinking about slamming the next demon that came across her path.

"What is that?" Peter asked when her alarm bell rang.

She caught demon stench and pounced to the door, palming her the knives she had attached at her back.

"Whoa," Peter said but she ignored him, launching out of her apartment door before the demon tried to enter.

"Hey bitch," she snarled at the little hunched over `woman' waiting in the hall.

"Hunter." The demon's eerie, toneless voice filled the hall but Pammy didn't flinch because she was trained not to. Peter, on the other hand was cursing from her kitchen floor.

"Don't you assholes ever learn?" she demanded and launched.

The demon didn't try to run, not that she would have let it. Mindful of the ordinary humans living down the hall Pammy wasted no time plunging her knives into the demon's throat even as the creature tried to bite. Blood poured over her arms, blue, smelly and thick and she loved it. There was nothing better than being elbow deep in demon guts. She cut off its head and stood back with a satisfied sigh.

"What the hell was that?" Peter demanded and she looked over, glad he was no longer withering in pain.

"Demon," she answered and pulled out her phone to text in the pickup. "Can you step back for a minute? I can't leave it in the hall."

She pulled it to just inside the kitchen and closed her door. The grin on her face had to be huge. Her dad said she never looked as happy as she did just after a kill. Even Peter, who looked a little shocked, pleased her because he wasn't freaking too badly.

"So?" she asked. "Questions? Comments?"

"That, that," he stuttered then she watched as he shook himself. "That was hot. Can I call you next weekend?"

"Next weekend?" she said, wiping a glob of blood from her cheek. "Works for me."

Happy Thanksgiving!

Stephanie Beck

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A Thanksgiving Pie Tale by Sky

Thanksgiving always puts me in the mood for pie, so here's a little something to tide you over

WELCOME TO THE FIFTIETH ANNUAL THANKSGIVING DAY BACHELOR AUCTION AND PIE BAKE-OFF read the sign outside the Town Hall in this little hamlet at the edge of nowhere.  The travellers where surprised to see such an event in a small town, but curious, so they pulled into the little parking lot in front of the building.

     “Do you think they mind strangers coming?” Cassandra slung her purse over her shoulder as she stepped out of the little red MG convertible.

     “Oh, I doubt it, Cassie,” said Angela. “Or they wouldn’t have such a big sign up.  Anyway, the worst they can do is tell us to go away.”  The two women began to walk up to the big metal quonset hut that housed the Town Hall.  There were quite a few pick-up trucks and some cars parked around the building, and the big double doors were open wide.
    Inside, it was crowded, and nearly everyone looked like they came from the local farm areas, but there were a few people who also looked like tourists among them. They strolled around the edge of the room.  The pie bake-off had already happened, apparently, and they were offered samples of the winning pies.

     “Mmmm, did you taste this apple pie, Cassie? Lots of cinnamon, I love that.”

     “I like the pumpkin with the crumbly topping, wow, can these country people bake pies.  I just buy them at the bakery when I bring them for Thanksgiving at Mom’s.”

    “Look,” said Angela, “I think it’s time for the auction to begin, everyone is going over to that end of the hall by the little podium. Let’s go watch.”

    “Okay, but I’m taking another piece of this yummy pie.  I didn’t even see the chocolate one.  I really wish I knew how to bake.  I’d bid on anyone who could bake like this. It’s a shame none of the bachelors is a pie baker.”

    “You’d really bid on a guy just because he could bake a pie?” Angela could hardly control her giggles.  “You really would? You swear?”

      “Angie, I get tired of fast food and I can only burn water on a good day.  I can’t live forever on microwave popcorn.  So, yes, I swear, if there were a guy who could bake a silky, dark chocolate cream pie like this one, I’d not only bid on him, I’d marry him.”

     Angela couldn’t control herself any longer, she clutched her stomach and bent over laughing, revealing what had been behind her on the wall. A poster that said,


     Cassandra turned pale as her sister continued to convulse in helpless laughter. “It’s not funny, Angie.  You set me up!”

     “Like you haven’t set me up a hundred times! I wouldn’t be married to Sam now if you hadn’t set me up on that blind date.  Looks like we’d better take a seat and see which of our handsome bachelors made that  yummy chocolate pie.”

     Cassie knew how much Angela loved Sam. He was with his platoon on maneuvers, and Angie missed him dreadfully.  She was worried he’d be sent to Iraq next, and this trip was supposed to be a distraction.  Home for Thanksgiving was just too lonely without Sam.  “Okay, you know I never back out on bet.  I guess this was a bet.  I only hope he’s my type.”

     A matronly woman in a floral dress and a flower-trimmed hat stepped up to the microphone, “Welcome to the auction! I know you’re all anxious to bid on a bunch of guys with such a crisp crust and well-spiced filling.” There was a polite smattering of applause and a few chuckles from the assembled audience.  “Without any further ado, here is your Master of Ceremonies, Bianca Hatfield.”

     From off to the side, up stepped a young woman dressed in a pair of tight jeans and a short black jacket, her long auburn hair pulled up in a tight ponytail.  She raised her arms and said, “We begin! Gentlemen, this way please!” And at her call, a dozen men walked up in front of her and turned to face the waiting crowd. “Here they are, ladies, the finest pie bakers Miner County has to offer!  Remember, when you bid all the money goes to charity, so be generous.”

     The men lined up in front of the audience were all sizes and shapes and ranged in age from about twenty to maybe forty-five.  They were all smiling, and a few of them were blushing at the catcalls that had begun with their arrival.  The country crowd was getting rowdy and having fun with these men they had known all their lives. 

     “All right! We will begin with baker of the Crispy Apple Tart. Let me remind you ladies that you not only win the bachelor in question, but also a baking session in their own home kitchen to recreate their winning pie!  What am I bid for the bachelor responsible for the Crispy Apple Tart?” 
      Cassie scanned the men to see who would step forward and take credit for the delicious apple tart she’d tasted.  Not one of the men moved forward or stepped onto the podium. “Angie, do you think he’s not there? Why doesn’t one of them step forward?”

     Angela craned her neck over the tall woman seated in front of her. “I don’t know, Cassie.”

     The bidding had begun, starting at twenty dollars and climbing to over three hundred before the auctioneer called, “Going, going, gone! Sold for three hundred fifty dollars!  Now, anyone have a guess who our winner, Mamie, bought to make her a pie?”

     Cassie was amazed to observe that it had been a secret auction.  Those who lived here obviously knew the rules and were good-naturedly calling out guesses, until the auctioneer said, “Pie-maker, show yourself!”

     A man stepped forward, to cheers and whistles from his friends in the audience. “Never knew you could make apple pie, Ed!” yelled a masculine voice from toward the back. “Thought you were a pumpkin man!”

     “Nope, apples have always been first in my heart and my pan!” said Ed as Mamie, an apple-cheeked woman about his age, led him away.”

     “I have my doubts about whether there is total secrecy here,” Cassie whispered to Angie after watching three more happy couples wander off to the back of the hall. 

     “We’ll see, which one do you think made the chocolate?” She looked under her lashes at her sister, who had been staring at one corner of the line of guys the entire time the bidding had been going on.

“Oh, I don’t care,” she said. “I probably won’t win him anyway.  I don’t have the kind of money it will take for the Best of Show pie.”

     “But if you could? Which one?” 

     “The one with the white shirt, and the black boots.”

     “Wow! He is pretty cute, but not your usual type, you usually go for the blonde, urban types.”

     “I think I’m tired of the usual types.  They haven’t worked out so far, have they? I think I’m ready for the cowboy type, with all that wavy black hair and those chocolate brown eyes. Think it’s a hint?”

     “I don’t know, Cass.  Let’s hope so, I like your new type.”

     The bidding continued, and with each bid Cassie’s heart beat louder.  Would he be the next one to go?  The others were okay, but she was getting awfully set on that guy on the end.  He was tall, she noticed, and his jeans hugged his hips in a way that she really liked.  “Do you think they’ll turn around so we can see the other view?” she whispered to Angie then blushed furiously as she realized what she’d said.

     Angie was lost in giggles once again, clutching her side.  “I had no idea this little car trip would turn out to be so much fun!  Maybe you should ask, no, I will!” and before Cassie could stop her, Angie called out, “We want to see the rear view!”

     “All right, we have a request from the audience!” said Bianca, looking very serious.  How about it, gentlemen?  Let’s see if another angle will help loosen the purse strings.”

     As one, the remaining six guys, the best looking of the original dozen, turned to face the stage.  A line of jean-clad behinds faced the audience and the cat calls grew in volume.
There were even a few shrill whistles and masculine laughter was very audible.

     “How is that? Everyone got a good look?” The guys turned back around, laughing themselves.  Overall, the afternoon was  fun for everyone present, and the hilarity was growing with each winning bid.

     The next bachelor was the one who had baked a banana cream pie.  Not only did that get the crowd going, but two ladies were very determined and managed to bid up to almost a thousand dollars before one waved to the other and said, “All yours, I don’t need banana cream pie that much.”  If it got much wilder in there, someone was going to have to call the riot squad.

     Cassie’s heart sank, though.  If the bids were this high now, they were only going to get higher.  She knew which guy she wanted, and she’d sworn to bid on the chocolate cream pie.  Even if they were one and the same, it was bound to be more money than she had. 

    The next three bachelors were bid on and won, the ladies squealing with delight and the guys smiling and accepting the hugs and kisses and pats on the behind as they passed through the crowd.  It was down to only two pies and  two guys. Cassie held her breath.  If the guy with the chocolate eyes had baked the Second Place autumn pear pie, she was done for. 

     “They’re both cute, Cass,” whispered Angie. “Either way, it should be fun.”

     But Cassie had her heart set on the guy with the beautiful eyes (and cutest butt) and was prepared to be heartbroken if she didn’t get him.  This is ridiculous! I don’t even know him, and I’m acting like we’re going to break up or something. She watched the bidding on the next-to-last pie rise to almost twelve hundred dollars and waited to see what would happen.  When the auctioneer said, “Sold to Amber Conahee for twelve hundred dollars,” the two men looked at each other, then at the audience, and Cassie knew she wasn’t the only one holding her breath.

     Then, just as she thought she might turn blue, chocolate-eyes took a step back.  He was still in the running.  He was the only man standing, and she was about to take the chance of her life.

     “Do you think they’ll take a check, Angie?”

     “I saw one lady pay with one, Cassie, so yeah, they probably will.  How much are you planning to bid?”

     “I have two thousand three hundred twenty dollars in my checking account.”
     “All of it.”

     Angie looked at her, big eyed.  “All of it?”

      “Yep, for once in my life I am going to do exactly what I want to do.  I get paid next week, I’ll be okay.”

     “Ladies,” began the auctioneer, “ I know how many of you had a piece of that delicious Dark Chocolate Dream pie.  And I know you’ve probably guessed by now who the baker might be.  Shall we open at five hundred dollars?”

     The audience was much quieter for a moment.  Then,“five hundred,” shouted a petite redhead, waving money over her head.

     “Six!” shouted another and the bidding was fast and furious until it reached the two thousand dollar mark, when it began to slow.  Cassie joined the bidding early on, and more and more women had dropped out until it was now between her and the redhead who had bid first. 

     “Two thousand three hundred!” the redhead yelled, and the crowd went wild. 

     “Two thousand three hundred twenty.” said Cassie, clutching her checkbook. She saw now that the object of her desire was looking straight at her.  He was so handsome, and she saw kindness in his eyes and laugh lines by his mouth.  She wanted him more than she had ever wanted anyone or anything in her life.

     “Two thousand three hundred twenty-five,” screamed the redhead.

    Cassie felt despair begin to gather around her like a dark cloak.  She had no more money, none at all. It was over.  She turned to congratulate the redhead and felt her sister press something into her hand.  It was a fifty dollar bill.

     “Get him, Cass! Sam and I owe you for helping us find each other.”

     “Two thousand three hundred seventy!” Cassie shouted, voice hoarse with emotion.
She looked around, and the redhead looked back at her, then grinned and shook her head.

     “Any other bids?” asked Bianca. “No? Okay then, going, going gone. Sold to the pretty blonde in row three.  Thanks, honey, that money will do a lot of good.” 

     Cassie stood frozen by her seat.  She had won him, what was she going to do now?
What was I thinking? He’s headed this way! I don’t even know him, what have I done?
Then he was standing right in front of her.

     “I’m Bob Stone and you must have really liked that pie.” His eyes twinkled gold flecks in the dark brown reflecting the light. 

     “I did, and I understand you’re making me another one?”

     “You bet, come with me and we’ll get started.  What are you doing for dinner?”

     Angie shook her head, “Don’t mind me, I’ll check into the motel. Going to do everything you said you’d do with the maker of that pie, Sis?”

    Cassie smiled, “You never know.”

     Angie watched her sister walk away, hand in hand with the tall cowboy in the tight jeans. She shook her head, it wasn’t like Cassie to fall this hard.  But she was due, it was about time she let her heart lead her. As Cassie walked out the door, Angie felt someone standing close to her.

     “That girl got lucky,” said Bianca, the afternoon’s auctioneer.

     “He does seem nice,” said Angie.

      Bianca smiled.  She pointed to the window where they could see Cassie reaching on tiptoe as Bob bent to press his lips against hers.  “They’ll be fine. They’ve both been waiting for each other.  It works like that here sometimes, if you’re very lucky.”

Monday, November 2, 2009

And the Winners Are...

Published Category:
1st place: Do You Want to Know a Secret by Wendi Zwaduk
2nd place: I Dare You by Valerie Mann
3rd place: Breakfast with a Zombie by Kerri Nelson

Unpublished Category:
1st place: Samhain Kiss by Tonya Callihan
2nd place: Tonight I Met a Vampire by Sky
3rd place: Angels and Vampires: A Freak Sorority Short by Stephanie Beck

Congratulations to our winners and to everyone for participating. Winners please contact to claim your prizes.
FYI: I will be away for a few days so it will be next week before I get your prizes sent out.

Mistress Bella

Thursday, October 29, 2009

All Hallow's Eve Party by April Dawn

Melinda closed her eyes, grasped at the trailing ends of the ties which held her hands immobile behind her.
"Bite the apple, Linny"
"You can do it."
She approached the apple, which hung suspended by a string and licked her lips. Turning her head one way, then the other, she tried to decide where to begin. Her corset kept her from bending too far in either direction, so she lifted her chin, coming at the apple from slightly beneath it. Her teeth bit into the flesh of the fruit, and elation filled her as the juices spurted into her mouth.
"You did it, Linny." Her best friend Sara said, rushing to her side as she stepped back from the bitten apple. "You will be the first to marry!"
Melinda smiled, chewing on the sweet morsel as Sara removed the bindings from her hands.
"Shall we have some tea, and find out who your husband will be?" Sara asked.
As Sara speculated about the possibilities, Melinda's eyes once again returned to the spot where Anthony stood. His eyebrows lifted as his gaze shifted meaningfully to where the apple still hung. He grinned, and she fought not to grin back.
"I heard that Franny drank the tea, and it told her that she would marry a duke! And now, she is engaged to his grace, the Duke of Rochester."
"Mmm," Melinda said, eyes never leaving Anthony.
His head inclined slightly toward the entrance of the barn, indicating the open expanse of pastures beyond. Her breath caught, and she shifted her gaze to where Sara stood.
"Why don't you go, Sara? You can tell me all about it later." When Sara protested, Melinda held up a hand. "Now I want to hear positively everything about your tea, but I… I promised my father I would be home early, and I wouldn't want you to have to leave on my account."
Sara pouted and looked at the door. Melinda followed her eyes, seeing Anthony's back as he stepped through the doorway. Her heart lurched. Sara turned toward where the tea was being poured, then looked back over her shoulder toward the door again.
"Look now, all the cups are nearly taken. I insist that you enjoy your tea." Melinda said, shoving her gently toward the table. "You can tell me everything tomorrow."
"All right, but you go straight home." Sara said, giving her a quick hug before whirling to hurry toward the table.
Adjusting her bodice and slapping at the wrinkles in her skirts, she started toward the door. Stepping across the threshold, she noted the darkening sky and empty expanse of land. Looking around, she fought the urge to call for him. She moved toward the far end of the barn, her pulse pounding in her throat.
"Not frightened, are you?" A deep male voice came from beside the barn.
"Not at all. I'm far too old to let a silly night frighten me." Smiling, she faced the obscure darkness.
Anthony slipped from the abysmal world of shadow and into the moonlight. His dark hair was tousled, and she found herself itching to brush a wayward lock from his forehead. Her fingers clenched at her skirt to quell the impulse.
"I'm glad you came out to walk with me. I never thought that Sara would let you out of her sight."
Eyebrows raised, she tried to give him a reproving look, but her grin broke free. "She was very insistent tonight. I think she wishes to try new things, but is too afraid to try them alone."
His hand came to her elbow, and he took it delicately in his fingertips as he helped her over a hole in the ground. Warmth spread through her from at the contact.
"She's always been that way." He laughed, a rich sound that warmed her in the chilly night air.
"I was told that you will be leaving to attend school in England soon," she said, speaking the words which had remained silent between them for months now. "It should be very exciting." She turned her head, blinking rapidly to keep the tears from coming.
He grunted his agreement. They walked along a piece and soon came to the large white fence at the edge of the barn. Anthony jumped to the top of the fence effortlessly, extending a hand to her. She took it, and he lifted her as she placed her foot on the bottom post. When she held the top of the fence, he grasped her waist and lifted her over the fence and to the ground on the other side. The brief contact of his fingers at her waist sent a thrill of anticipation through her body.
He had helped her over this very fence so many times in the past, but lately…
"So, you bit the apple." He said, dropping to the ground alongside her. "You're next to marry then."
She giggled, trying to sound lighthearted while her insides twisted. "Silly superstition." She waved her hand as she spoke.
"Perhaps," he said, his fingers touching hers for the barest moment as they walked together. "And perhaps not. You are eighteen now. It is time to take a husband, is it not?"
"I suppose it will be."
Head down, she watched him in her from the corner of her vision as they passed the storage shed near the main plantation house.
"And I am nearly nineteen. My father will be pressing me soon enough."
"Parents are rather insistent on the matter."
His fingers brushed hers, but this time he grasped them, holding them lightly in his own. She glanced up at him, and his face lit with a roguish smile. A thick lump had formed in her throat, and she fought to swallow past it. He pulled her toward the shed, and she went with him, leaning back against the draw of his hands, but not truly resisting.
Reaching behind him, he pushed the shed door open and drew her inside. Her chest felt as though it would shatter into a million bits when her eyes met his.
"I… We should--."
"Shhh." He silenced her, placing a long finger over her lips. "It’s all right."
The door shut behind them, and he sat on a small bench, drawing her onto his lap.
"You and I have been friends a long time, Melinda." His eyes held hers so fully that she couldn't have looked away even if she had wished to. "Lately our friendship has changed. I know you have felt it too."
Butterflies seemed to have taken up residence in her stomach, and they fluttered in crazy patterns as he took her hand in his and kissed it.
"I love you, Linny," he said. "Say you love me too. Say you'll marry me and make me the happiest man who ever existed."
A whimper left her throat, unbidden, and she leaned in, her palms gently holding his cheeks. Her lips met his, softly and tenderly. He moaned as she pulled back from the kiss, his hands running up and down over her arms. The fiery quality that his eyes had acquired made her insides turn to pudding.
"Of course I'll marry you, you goose."
Whooping, he slipped his arms around her, his lips finding hers. His mouth covered hers, not the sweet, tender kiss she had visited on him, but fiery and passionate. A kiss she would be content to stop time and live in for the rest of her life.