Back to Day 6 of Story-a-Day May


Yesterday, I did more rewriting, but I also added a short scene to the other work in progress, The Book of Astrophilia. And I’m going to post it, but I’m not going to give any backstory or explain anything. Because.

“Well?” Shalanda asked Tas. Tas had yet to leave the mortuary archive office, pacing behind Shalanda while Shalanda finished up her report on the dead engineer.

“Get him out. You could do it. You have more freedom than anyone.”

“I thought,” Shalanda said, turning away from her computer, “you were all Miracle June! Miracle June!”

Tas stopped pacing. She smiled her sly smile. “But she’s fine, isn’t she? You heard Marcel. They’re back on the ship, we’re leaving the port, and the students are fine.” She paused. “Except for the one. Omaze?”

“Kazu Omaze, and he’s a bit more than not fine. They should be bringing his body along any time. Oh. You want to see it, don’t you? The slit in his throat.”

“Marcel said Ethorian.”

“You don’t trust my reports?”

“I trust you to the end of the Oort Cloud, but I still like to see things for myself. But you know that’s not why I’m here.”

Shalanda sighed. “Right. Your dad. I’m supposed to stroll into the Prison Nebula and walk out with him.”


Shalanda leaned forward and lowered her voice. “We’re Archivists. Not gods.”

Tas leaned in close as well. “Really?”

The whir of a gurney echoed down the corridor. They were bringing Kozu Omaze’s body to the morgue. Shalanda laughed resignedly. “All right. What’s the plan, my lovely Tas, goddess and guiding star?”

Thanks again for reading!

Day 2 of Story-a-Day May!

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I’m not posting entire stories, but here’s the beginning of what I worked on today. This is back story for a manuscript in progress–The Book of Astrophilia. It is my sci-fi fairy tale. And this bit tells about a few of the passengers (secondary characters) on a ship traveling the stars.

The sisters, Jezebel and Skye, smuggled food from the kitchens to the boy they kept hidden in their room. Fabule Earl didn’t eat much, and between them, the girls provided just enough food to keep him quiet. Although he would’ve stayed quiet anyway. He’d do anything for the twins, especially Skye, whose blank, black eyes never saw him but whose hand always held his when he had bad dreams.

The backstory isn’t actually very long. I just explain their motivations and why Fabule loves one sister more than the other and why they’ve hidden him away in their cabin. Of course, they aren’t the main characters of the novel, but I like knowing why everyone in my stories is doing whatever it is they’re doing. Who knows how much of that backstory will make it into the final draft.

Thanks for reading! Tomorrow I hope to work on another story.

Returning to the Asylum

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The fire roared across the grounds, and they all scrambled to get out of the way. The flames rolled after them as if it wanted to find every soul in reach.

Hannah ran through the front gates. She assumed the others were behind her. They should have been, but she didn’t look back. She kept running, faster than she’d ever run in her life. Down the dirt road, pain stabbing at her side, her breath burning in her chest. Coming to the curve, she finally stopped. Gasping, she leaned forward, her hands on her knees. “Nate? Clem? Mer…edith.” She took another short, sharp breath. “Dad?”

No one replied. She straightened up and turned around. She was alone. In the distance, behind the stone walls, the fire raged. Orange sparks and gray ash spun overhead in the night sky.

Dread flooded Hannah’s heart. She had to go back.

Story-a-Day May will not be stopped.


Every time I take this challenge on, I’m certain I can’t get it done. Twenty-days left…oh boy.

Anyway, here’s a Fairy Tale Ayslum side story.

The woman wished for a child, and she read everything she could, hoping for magic. Perhaps faeries, perhaps someone more real, learned of her wish. Whoever the good soul was decided to make the woman’s wish come true.

At sunrise the woman, thinking she heard something strange, opened the front door. At her feet, asleep and wrapped in a pastel blue blanket, was a baby.

Her heart soared. All of her talismans and charms and prayers and wishes had worked! The morning sun broke over the world, and the woman scooped the baby up from his basket and held him close.

He, she was certain, would be a prince among men.

But as the afternoon wore on, the woman noticed things. The baby didn’t coo like she imagined. His skin wasn’t porcelain like hers. His eyes were the color of ordinary coffee. The more she watched him crawl around her floor, the more common he seemed. He didn’t seem magical at all. And she realized she had no diapers, no formula, and no crib.

The woman tried a list of princely names, but he didn’t answer to a one. She put him on her hip, but he didn’t smell of roses or sweets. He grabbed at her hair.

There had to be a mistake. They’d brought her the wrong baby.

Well, no one could be expected to keep a baby clearly meant for someone else. She stared out her window and a panic bloomed in her mind. That someone else might have her baby, her special baby, and such an ordinary someone couldn’t be counted on to give back a princely child any more that a pauper could be expected to turn in a goodly sum found on the road.

How could fate have allowed this to happen?

The woman carried the baby to the road and began to walk. Inferior people might have her child, but she wouldn’t be tricked into caring for their unfortunate wretch. She was too smart for that. She had her pride.

She walked the back roads. It wouldn’t do for anyone to see her with this baby in her arms. She walked over the bridge. She walked five miles, and the baby began to fuss. Monstrous, she thought. How could they have thought this was her baby?

Just when she was certain she could go no further, she reached the gates. They were open. Exhausted, she reached the front doors of her destination. She knocked.

A nurse opened the door, and without a word, she took the baby from the woman’s arms. “They got it all wrong,” the woman said.

The nurse nodded.

“Do you know where my baby is? Who has my little prince?”

The nurse smiled. “You can be on your way.”

“But it’s not fair,” the woman said. “I’ve waited so long!”

“And yet you’re willing to wait all over again,” the nurse said, and she shut the asylum doors.

She’s still there.

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I’ve got a multitude of writing projects (because I want to work on all them all the time), but I’ve got a writing schedule now and want to continue this story once a week until the end of the story.

In the meantime, this is where the story picks up.

A cloud of blackbirds descended from the sky. The birds swooped and soared over the asylum grounds. They were a black cloud in the night sky and though they didn’t caw, everyone heard the whoosh and flutter of wings.

Lights in the Asylum flickered. A small girl was climbing through a window onto the roof. Unwittingly she stood on the same spot as the boy had earlier. But when she saw the birds, she reached out to them.

They descended. Wings enveloped her, and when they lifted off again, the girl was gone. If anyone looked up at the right moment when a bit of moonlight hit the flock in the right way, they’d have seen a patch of pale blue of a nightdress.

The night was only halfway done.

Thanks for reading.

Not Forgotten


I haven’t forgotten these characters. But I’m also trying to finish another draft of my next novel, work on a few commissioned art pieces, grade student papers, work on our house, spend time with my family, go to speed skate practice, and sleep.

I’ve cheated though. I’ve skipped ahead. When I finish my novel, I’m going to come back to this, map it out, and fill in all the gaps. My goal is to have something pieced together in a readable form by the time next year’s Story-a-Day comes around. We’ll see how that goes. At least, I don’t have to go to chemo anymore! Yay!

As always, thanks for reading.

Hannah and the old woman waited for Meredith to return. They sat together in the cramped space of the closet in the dark. Maybe not being able to see the old woman made Hannah bold.

“Do you have any children?” she asked. Hannah had come to the Asylum, after all, to find out about her grandmother. Possibly even meet her. Earlier the idea would have horrified her, but she was getting used to the old woman. Calling her a friend seemed unlikely, but she did feel a bond that was hard to explain.

“Nosy girl, you are,” the old woman replied. “Why would you care?”
Hannah could hear the frown in her voice. “There has to be some reason why we came across each other and have been sticking with each other,” she said. “There has to be some reason you’re still with me.”

The old woman didn’t reply. Hannah knew the old woman was there only because of the sound of her breathing and that there really was no where to move.

“Do you believe in horoscopes and fortune telling too?” the old woman asked.


“You appear to ascribe happenstance to supernatural or mystical sources.”
In the dark of the closet of the Asylum, muffled sounds beyond the door, the supernatural felt immensely close. “Don’t you believe in the supernatural?”

“I believe in what I can do and what I can not do. The rest I leave to others.”

“But you could’ve taken off without me. But here we are together.”

“You’re welcome to leave any time,” the old woman said.

“I couldn’t just leave.” Hannah wrapped her arms around her knees and gripped her hands more tightly. “We’re a team.”

The old woman laughed and then coughed. “I’d love to hear the doctors discuss my suitability for a team. Have you never been taught how teams work, child?”

Hannah was glad the old woman couldn’t see her reddening face. “We have worked together.” It wasn’t that she believed in fate or serendipity, but she didn’t not believe in them either.

“We’ve managed not to die,” the old woman replied.

“Do you think dying is likely?”

“Dying is certain. It’s the timing that’s unknown.”

Hannah pushed images of the dead security guard and the dead patient away. Thinking about who they were wasn’t going to help her. “I don’t see what has to be certain about it.”

“Maybe you won’t die here. But you will die some day. You can’t deny that.”

“Well…no, but that’s kind of morbid to think about.” Hannah thought she saw a glint of the old woman’s eyes in the darkness. In her normal life she liked talking about death and dying, but now that it felt as if these things were close at hand, she wasn’t sure what she wanted to say.

“Meredith will be back soon. And everything it going to be fine.”

“Right. If she doesn’t give us away.”

“She’s on our side now.”

“Is she?”

“Doesn’t she have to be?”

Silence again hung between them. “They won’t let her walk away from this either. As a traitor, she should be the most frightened.”

Hannah wasn’t sure about her feelings for Meredith, but she’d placed her trust in the nurse and perhaps the nurse had put trust in her as well.

But she didn’t want to think about Meredith now. There wasn’t anything she could do for her. Meredith would either succeed, or they were all in deep trouble.

Right now in the dark and waiting, she hoped that maybe the darkness would encourage the old woman to talk. “What happened to you here?” Hannah asked.

“This is a closet. Not a confessional.”

This time Hannah didn’t reply. She resisted the urge to fill the silence. Her dad once told her you had to give people time to answer rather than rush in to hear your own voice.

The old woman breathed in deeply. Hannah imagined she could feel her exhale.

“Maybe I was young once,” the old woman said. “Do you believe that? Youth is a fairy tale, don’t you know? Can’t you tell?”

Hannah sucked in her bottom lip to keep herself from talking. She didn’t move. Anything might quiet the old woman, and a moment like this would likely not happen again.

“Once upon a time there was a girl they called Zeenia. Her parents adored her, of course. Adored her more than good sense allowed, and so no one prepared this child for the real world because why bother when everyone thinks you’re a princess? A princess must never sully herself with the real world. Never mind that she will grow old one day. No one ever thinks of this. Do you?”

“What?” Hannah asked, surprised the old woman seemed to expect a real answer. “I guess I never thought about it.” Cinderella old? Sleeping Beauty? Snow White with gray in her hair and crow’s feet at her eyes?

“They think about it here,” the old woman said. “Here in the Asylum they think about it. They think about everything and plan accordingly.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Nobody wants an aging princess with a mind she knows how to use.”

“Were you a princess?” Hannah hoped her voice sounded as if she believed what she was hearing. Where did princesses still exist? “Are you from another country?”

“I’m from another plane of existence.”

Hannah stayed silent. Her questions weren’t getting her anywhere. Maybe the old woman needed to be locked up in the Asylum. Maybe all the patients were truly sick and she had this all wrong.

The old woman snorted. “I wore beautiful dresses once upon a time, my dear, but I tired of their weight. I complained to my husband, my prince, and he showed me that jewels and brocade are so heavy when wet that they’ll drag you down to the bottom of the sea.”

Hannah tried to make sense of what the old woman said. Sitting in the dark for so long was affecting her senses. She lost track of time and wondered if she were dreaming.

“But I was saved, if that’s what this life is called. Saved.”

The door startled them both. The room beyond the pantry was a paler darkness and they could just make out Meredith’s shape. “Hurry,” she said. “Your lives depend on it.”

Day Eleven and False Starts


I had a decent chunk of time this afternoon to write. And I did. I sat on my patio and wrote about Nate’s experience with Security before he hurtled himself at Hannah in the hallway.

But I need to do more research on things like punches and kicks and injuries. (Fun times!) It didn’t ring true for me (though maybe that sounds weird in light of the story I’m writing), and I don’t know if readers need to know that anyway. Maybe I’ll come back to it in the rewrites.

At least, I know what happened!

So, I stopped writing, had guests over for dinner and Cosmos, and now before bed I find myself staring at the page again. Tomorrow is my first day of my summer semester, and I need to get some sleep.

I still wanted something to post.


Nate searched for a hiding place. He’d wait for Hannah to come back out. He’d follow her, and when she needed help, he’d be ready.

He spotted a large potted plant near a door. It wasn’t the best hiding place, but if she weren’t looking around, she’d miss him.
Running hurt, but he did his best to dash over and hide himself. A girl was already there, curled into a ball, her arms around her knees. She didn’t move except to look up him.

He wasn’t sure what to do. She wore sky blue pajamas with clouds dotted all over them.

“The donkey talks to me,” she said.

“What?” Had he heard her correctly? “Are you okay?” he asked.

“They cut off its head, but it still talks. Haven’t you seen it? It hangs on the wall in The Room.”

He didn’t have time to solve riddles from strange girls. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” He looked up and down the hall for another hiding place. “I’m sorry.”

She nodded and returned to staring straight ahead.

A few yards away was an open door to a dark room. He’d try there. He took one step, stopped, and patted the girl’s shoulder. “Everything will be okay,” he mumbled. “You stay right there.” He didn’t know why he said it. He doubted it was true.

To his relief the dark room contained no surprises although he didn’t turn on the light to check. He settled in the shadows to wait. He had a good view of most of the wide dim hall. He was confident that he’d see anything coming.