Month: February 2016

Short Fiction Post: For No Reason – Part 2

muleThe following is the opening section of a short story entitled, For No Reason. I hope to include this story in an anthology in several months. The main character, Dax, is stuck in a magical rut that’s not headed toward a good ending…

Missed part 1? Click here to read it first.

Dax’s knees soon wobbled so he climbed onto the mule. This cursed sickness. He tugged his hat brim lower and his shoulders curled in as he held his stomach with trembling hands. If only his ride was longer. But the thatched roofs soon peeked between tree limbs as he descended the last slope from the forest hills.

The mule thumped into Alton’s Ford. The first rotten tomato smacked the animal’s face and the second whistled past Dax’s. The animal lurched under Dax while he pulled the reins.

Laughter faded between houses.

“Easy, easy.” Dax patted the mule and gritted his teeth.

“Witch’s curse.” Boys laughed from hiding.

Dax muttered oaths as he kicked the mule into motion. He should’ve pulled his collar up. He snorted. They knew him on sight. His lip curled in a silent snarl.

Idling men sneered from the tavern porch. He stared ahead as the mule carried him past jeers thrown like refuse. Elon snorted and spat. “There’s your tithe, cursed man. Who says you can steal our livestock?”

Dax clenched his jaws. “Ain’t stole nothing.” So much for childhood friends. Felton should move his store to the other end of the village. Maybe he’d pull his collar high but the store wasn’t far. His hand strayed toward the collar anyway. There’ll be no hiding when…

Splat.

Stinking tomato juice exploded on his face and stung his eye as well as his sores. His head wobbled at the solid hit.

A girl laughed and squealed.

The men back at the tavern snickered. “More tithe.”

The girl danced. “More tithe, more tithe.”

Her unblemished face beamed and Dax’s cheek quivered. He wouldn’t get down. He’d ride on. He gritted his teeth, swung off the mule and stepped toward the capering child.

She screamed and ran for her door.

The girl’s mother rushed out the door at her cry and stood between them with a kitchen knife. “Don’t touch her!”

Dax clenched his teeth. “That’s right. You know what my touch does but for these gloves.” He shook his fist. His chest heaved rough breath like a blacksmith’s bellows.

“You leave my girl alone!” Elon leapt into the road.

The other men from the tavern stamped through the puddles in the road.

“Or you’ll what? Touch me? You can’t even hurt me!” Spittle flew from Dax’s mouth and his lips curled into a snarl. “But I can hurt you, any of you, whenever I want.” His bitter laugh rang like a bell and halted the threatening toughs.

“Dax, come down to the store. I’ve got your supplies ready.” Felton, the storekeeper, approached.

Dax cocked his head at the speaker. He wiped his face with on his sleeve and grimaced from the sores. He trudged toward the store with the mule in tow. He paused and pointed his gloved finger at the trembling mother hiding the girl. “I just come for what’s mine. You just remember I suffer this and do nothing when I could.  Next time I might not wear my gloves.”

At the store, he tied the mule at the post and stomped through the door. He hunched and shook his head. He never threatened people. What was wrong with him? He swayed and grasped the counter.

“H-here’s your goods as usual.” Felton waved his hand over packages of food stacked on a counter.

“I need a mirror.” Dax counted his packages.

Felton sighed. “Another one already? You know how hard those are to get. Why do you want one?”

“For no reason.”

“But people have to p-”

“They pay for their wrongs to the old crone, not me. I just bear them–for now.” Dax continued his inspection without pause but his growl bothered him. Was it getting worse like she foretold?

“Well, I’ll try but it may be a while.”

“Just get it.” Dax hefted his first load and wobbled out the door.

Felton pushed wares to him when he returned. “Why do you let them do this to you? I can deliver your supplies. Or you could come early or late, I don’t mind the time.”

“Because.” Dax minded his steps on sore feet.

“Why?”

Dax whirled and fastened Felton with a hard stare and snarled his answer. “They need to see their work. They need to see I can’t be harmed but suffer for them. They wronged the old woman and given the choice they let her put the curse on me. So they pay and they must see.” They’ll all pay with their bones for gnawing. His stomach heaved. No, he’d never be a raging beast. He loaded the supplies, grabbed his belly and leaned against a post. There’s no escape from this curse for any of us.

“When will all this end? I at least pity you, Dax.”

Dax pushed past Felton. “It won’t end.” They won’t let me do them a kindness so it can’t end until I devour this place. “Don’t pity me. Leave if you can.”

“None of us can. Find a way to end this, Dax.” Felton stood with his face lowered and arms hanging loose. The shopkeeper sniffed and his shoulders bobbed a bit.

“I can’t, they won’t let me.” He left the store and passed Elon’s house. Dax glared at the dark windows as he rode past. They feared him worse than ever. He’d never have his chance. Dax slapped the mule’s sides with the reins.

The end of part 2.

Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section. The next part of the story will be posted on 3/2/2016. Sign up for my Archer’s Aim Digest mailing list to receive notification of these posts and those for other upcoming fiction projects to appear on Archer’s Aim as well as news about the upcoming release of An Arrow Against the Wind, the second novel of The Bow of Hart Saga due out later this year.

Book 1 of The Bow of Hart Saga: The Bow of Destiny can be found at these online retailers: Barnes & Noble, KoboiBooksAmazon – Kindle & Smashwords. See the book trailer.

Prequel short stories to The Bow of Hart Saga:

Trading KnivesKobo, iBooks & Barnes & NobleSmashwords & Amazon

What Is Needed Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iBooks, Smashwords & Amazon

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Short Fiction Post: For No Reason – Part 1

The following is the opening section of a short story entitled, For No Reason. I hope to include this story in an anthology in several months. The main character, Dax, is stuck in a magical rut that’s not headed toward a good ending…

Photo courtesy free photo section of Morguefile.com by blondieb38

Photo courtesy free photo section of Morguefile.com by blondieb38

Constant shade draped the cabin built into the narrow hollow, even under the morning sun and clear skies. Birds never sang near his home but his mule cropped weeds along the shadow’s edge. The bearded resident hobbled from the porch into the dim recesses.

“Accursed sickness. Why’s it always dark in here?” His foot caught a stack of broken mirrors. They tipped onto the floor and jangled loose glass. “Blasted useless things.”

Dax brought his lamp to his rough-hewn dresser and twisted the flame higher. The gloom receded as he stood with fists clenched before his mirror. His comb snagged in his hair despite his delicate hand. “Should wash it all or cut it.” He picked through the matted bristles that dangled from his face onto his chest. This would do nothing. He couldn’t hide the sores and scars–the curse. Their curse. His curse. The taste of bile rose in his mouth as rotten stench billowed around him.

He cringed.

A desiccated hand in black lace reached past him. A finger touched the mirror. The glass rang with the hag’s voice. “Their sins lay upon one.”

His lips curled as he clenched his teeth at the shrill noise.

Cracks squealed across the mirror and ended with a snap. “Not even he shall look upon himself.”

Dax whirled to the emptiness of his one-room cabin. She lay dead ten years but her words haunted him.

The floorboards creaked. Her shoes clomped on the wood. “A disease of undying suffering changes to devouring beast.”

“Stop it.” His chest heaved. He growled and gnashed his teeth. “Not the beast. I must hold it back.”

The ruined mirror on the wall distorted Dax’s reflection. Now he needed a new one. The cracks hid nothing of the truth. This was pointless. He tossed the comb away. His nostrils flared. Dax shoved his arms into his coat sleeves, yanked them straight and then jerked hide gloves over his hands.

He winced and grunted as sores burst on his fingers.

“His hand is the touch of their corruption.”

Dax gritted his teeth and heat rose on his cheeks. “Leave me alone for once.” A growl rolled from his chest. Not the foretold beast! He fingered his throat.

He stumbled through heaped clothing and kicked a pan and cup from underfoot. Dax’s shoulders sagged. His eyes watered at the morning sun beyond the shadows. Songbirds twittered in distant trees. He inhaled pine scent and rubbed a weeping sore on his cheek. He’d clean when he got back.

“Here now, mule. Let’s get moving.” His nameless mule chewed weeds where it stood beyond the porch.

The wind sighed like her dying gasp. “They serve their wrongs foisted on him.” Tree limbs scrapped together overhead with her harsh tone. “With a tithe of their labor.”

He growled and clenched his fists. He would crouch in the night and gnaw sweet bones. Dax shivered with his head lowered as his stomach roiled. “Stop it, I’m going.” He gathered his panniers and readied his mule for the trip into the village. Their payment waits. Dax tugged the lead.

The mule whined and refused his coaxing so Dax wrenched his stubborn companion into action. Willing or not, it still needed doing. “Maybe you’ll work for a name.” The mule brayed but followed with dragging steps.

The end of this first post.

Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section. The next part of the story will be posted on 2/24/2016. Sign up for my Archer’s Aim Digest mailing list to receive notification of these posts and those for other upcoming fiction projects to appear on Archer’s Aim as well as news about the upcoming release of An Arrow Against the Wind, the second novel of The Bow of Hart Saga due out later this year.

Book 1 of The Bow of Hart Saga: The Bow of Destiny can be found at these online retailers: Barnes & Noble, KoboiBooksAmazon – Kindle & Smashwords. See the book trailer.

Prequel short stories to The Bow of Hart Saga:

Trading KnivesKobo, iBooks & Barnes & NobleSmashwords & Amazon

What Is Needed Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iBooks, Smashwords & Amazon

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Upcoming Fiction Posts

WritingAs I wrote here a few weeks ago, I’m going to start posting some of my ongoing projects as serials for reader feedback as I work on them. On Feb. 17th, I will begin posting some short stories in serial format. I’ll start slowly but hope build to 2-3 different projects being updated weekly.

Readers are invited to share their thoughts on the work and, since these are not entirely completed, I’ll be open to making changes based on some of these comments.

I’ll continue share an occasional post about some writing-related topics as well as reviews and hosting some book tours for other authors.

Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section. Sign up for my Archer’s Aim Digest mailing list to receive the forthcoming edition of my newsletter with announcements about upcoming fiction on this site and future releases. You’ll be the first to have news about my books, especially the upcoming release of An Arrow Against the Wind, the second novel of The Bow of Hart Saga due out later this year.

Book 1 of The Bow of Hart Saga: The Bow of Destiny can be found at these online retailers: Barnes & Noble, KoboiBooksAmazon – Kindle & Smashwords. See the book trailer.

Prequel short stories to The Bow of Hart Saga:

Trading KnivesKobo, iBooks & Barnes & NobleSmashwords & Amazon

What Is Needed Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iBooks, Smashwords & Amazon

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.