Update: Uprising, book one of The Wolfcaller Chronicles, will be released Monday the 13th of Jan.
I am an author, a teller of stories both long & short, both real & imagined. So for the sheer sake of my own amusement, here’s a bit of information about me, written in the form of a short story. Whatever information you can gleam from these words is what you are worthy of knowing about it's creator.
Hazel green eyes stared out across the lake, studying the serene surface. Not even the ripple of a fish dared disturb the water, & the sun’s reflection painted it a glistening white, allowing the watcher’s imagination to turn the lake into a great pane of delicate glass, lightly frosted with the reflected beams of the sun.
Silently, a small bird, possibly a duck coming to rest after it's yearly migration, swooped down & landed in the middle of the calm lake, resting there several seconds before beginning to preen it’s shimmering feathers. Still, there seemed not even a single ripple to evidence any disturbance from the bird's presence, though likely this was simply an illusion due to the distance.
As if offended by the uninvited guest, a soft wind sprang up, blowing strands of auburn hair across the watcher’s vision & fracturing the fragile glass, transforming it into a myriad of sharp, roiling waves. A soft lapping sound began to fill the prior silence as the waves struck against the muddy shore.
Smiling in amusement, the young woman looked down at her companion, a black & white dog who rested calmly at her feet. “Hey Jackalope.” She said in a high tone that was reserved for speech directed to animals. “Want a cookie?”
The dog looked up at hearing his name, then sprang excitedly to his feet at offering of a treat. Giving several excited yaps, Jackalope spun in a tight circle, then looked to her adoringly, his body quivering with excitement, hind end shaking with the force of his curled tail’s wagging.
Laughing, she pulled a small bag from the pocket of her worn jeans & gave the excited aussie mix one of it’s contents. Not for any special reason, just simply because he was there & was behaving himself. She took great pleasure in spoiling him.
Pleased with his unexpected goodie, the dog swallowed it & wriggled against her legs, hoping for another, but only receiving a few affectionate scratches & a kiss to the muzzle once the bag was put away. After a few minutes he once more settled at her bare feet, occasionally biting at an itch on one of his forelegs. For several long moments, he was watched enviously, his slender, elegant legs & sleek, colorful coat, even his short, folded ears were all things she would have loved to possess herself.
The young woman finally turned her attention back to the lake. The duck was still there, floating serenely. She could almost imagine it was napping, being warmed by the sun to counteract the year-round chill of the spring fed lake. ‘I should buy a duck next time I’m at Wal-Mart.’ She thought to herself fondly. 'It’s been over a year since I’ve had some.’ But then a new idea sprang up, unwanted & unwelcome. The imagined taste of roast duck soured in her mouth as a single word floated up from the dark recesses of repressed memory. ‘Lakeland.’
“Ugh, felk the duck.” She spat in annoyance, replacing the expletive with one of her own creation. “And felk that bastage at the duck lake as well. Felk all those bastages.” While not offended by such language, the use of replacement curses was a habit left over from several years back, when she had worked in an inbound call center. Thus, the commandment given, the unpleasant memories of the city Lakeland & those who she had once interacted with there so many long years ago were once more forgotten.
The thoughts were quickly replaced by much more pleasant ones. “I should work on one of my stories today.” She spoke aloud, another old habit from time beyond her memory. Jackalope, well used to such habits, mostly ignored her speech unless he felt it was directed at him. “Hm, I should work on Taiyra’s story. But I almost feel like writing about Nadirah.” Both names belonged to characters from the game World of Warcraft that had long ago taken life of their own & had several short stories written about their various adventures in the game’s digital world.
As the breeze came again, this time from the opposite direction, the young woman closed her eyes & tilted back her head, enjoying the cool caress of the wind against her face. Despite it being winter, she knew her skin would have it’s customary darkness. She had no use for tanning beds or laying in the sun, her lineage itself provided her with skin that tanned easily but rarely burned. Her sun worshiping mother’s jealousy over it was a source of great amusement.
The sudden slamming of a faraway door & angry shouts finally shattered the peace of the morning. An argument, full of cursing & words of hatred, drifted into the young woman’s ears & she sighed, shaking her head. “Thank Naomha that’s not my family.” She muttered softly while attempting to ignore the fighting from across the street. Naomha, another of her replacements, was the name of her deity, which she regarded with little more reverence than she did anything else.
“Naomha,” she had explained once to an eager listener. “Is not the christian god. She is not all vengeance & wrath & rules. She guides with a gentle hand & suggestions. You’re free to ignore her suggestions & do your own thing without fear of making her upset & being punished, you simply deal with the consequences of your decisions, good or bad. Naomha simply says that life will be easier & more pleasant if you go a certain way or don’t do certain things, but ultimately, it’s up to you. Thankfully, she never says I told you so.”
The young woman sighed sadly & turned away from the lake. The argument across the street sounded like it was just getting started, the pleasant stillness & calm of the lake irrevocably lost. It was time to go home. Rising eagerly to his feet, the Jackalope followed closely beside, pausing only to pee on some interesting patch of grass before returning to his place at her left.
Looking down at the dog, the young woman once more smiled. She owned her own home, she had a well mannered dog, & she lived just a few feet down the road from the lake. The neighborhood itself was often a quiet, peaceful place, surrounded by woods & the various wildlife that inhabited them. Despite the lack of a few minor luxuries & occasional, though brief, pangs of longing for the company of other people, she was happy.
“Life is good.” She said cheerfully to the dog, pulling out the bag of treats from her pocket to reward him once more for nothing. “And today is a good day.”
"I looked heavenward for angels, while beautiful demons showed me the way." - Shannon Nacyl
on May 13, 2013 :
This was pretty good, I liked it; a fun and entertaining little story, akin to watching a movie that makes you scream at the stupid characters, "Don't go in the bloody cellar you idiot, there's a mad axeman hiding under the stairs!"
Mostly well-written, it could perhaps do with a tiny edit to clear up a few [mostly unimportant] typos.
I also thought that the last couple of hundred words could be happily lopped off with no loss to the story, having it end with [without giving the twist away]: "...this very INSTANT!". In my lowly opinion, this would have made a punchier and more memorable end to the tale; most of what follows is just labouring the point.
It is obvious from the cover [and the tags] that someone is a werewolf, so a good part of the surprise of the twist is lost. It then becomes a case of [because there are limited characters] Who Is The Werewolf? It is good that the story leads you to believe where the plot is going, then twists, but it is difficult with a short story to attain that surprise twist [with a novel it's a completely different kettle of haddock].
In one of my own stories the end-twist is that a guy is a zombie; the problem is that how do you get zombie-fans to read your story, without giving away or hinting at the ending, which in gimmicky-stories like mine and like Strange Strangers is the majority of the point. I was loathe to add "zombie" as a tag for my story, yet the people who might appreciate it most would not know that it had anything to do with zombies, whereas if I added zombie to the tags, then the reader would know pretty much straight-away what was going on and my surprise ending is ruined. The same sort of problem applies here to Strange Strangers, but I fully appreciate the puzzle of marketing your stories. Like a previous reviewer I did see a resemblance to Stephen King's story "Popsy", but more in the structure of the tale, not the plot.
Anyway, sorry for the long [perhaps irrelavant] review; in summary, a good story, I enjoyed reading it.
(review of free book)
Jonathan Antony Strickland
on May 01, 2013 :
A good hairy horror tale. Very well written with a flow to the writing that will keep you intrigued throughout. Reminded me a bit of the short Steven King story "Popsy", with a differnt spin on a simular tale.
(review of free book)
on June 14, 2012 :
Funny, scary and a bit gory, a fun read.
(review of free book)