Thursday, June 29, 2017
On his way to St. Augustine from the summer camp of his people, Sailfish has camped out for the night when he gets an unexpected visitor. A sick, old panther has followed a wounded person into his little camp. He kills the panther and sets about bandaging the person's wounds.
With a cry of surprise, Sailfish sat hard on the ground, legs flying upward. The person lying on the ground wasn't a young man at all. Puzzled, he gazed into the silent face.
"Who are you, little one, and where do you come from?"
The day neared mid-afternoon when the young woman stirred, opening eyes the color of new palm fronds. The gentle green was flecked with specks of gold. Sailfish's dark, penetrating gaze met hers as he smiled. Two spots of color rose in her cheeks when she realized her chest was swathed in bandages and nothing else. Scrabbling weakly with the edges of Sailfish's matchcoat, she tried to pull it over her. He kindly averted his eyes, concealing his smile.
"Forgive me for pointing out I've already seen you." He spoke softly in Spanish, hoping she understood.
She babbled quickly in response. It took him a moment to realize she was speaking French, her accent was slightly different from what he was used to. He repeated himself, in French this time, raising the edge of the cloth to her chin.
"Merci," she replied, mortified by her nakedness. Turning her head as far as she could from his gaze, her blush deepened.
"How do you happen to be out here alone?" he asked.
"My family," she sighed, picking at the frayed, singed edge of his matchcoat. "They were killed. I was the only one to get away. I don't even know where I am."
"Where are you from?"
She wouldn't speak.
"Who killed them?"
"Men like you."
"Like me? You mean Indian men?"
She nodded, her eyes full of tears.
"Exactly like me?" His tribe was distinctive. All the men were very tall and tattooed from head to foot, their hair decorated with beads, bits of shell and metal. No other tribes bred such tall warriors.
The young woman shrugged, gasping as her flesh pulled uncomfortably against her wounds. "They were not as tall as you, but were dark and angry men. They killed Papa, shot him through the chest. My mother—" She shuddered. "She was not so lucky. My sisters either. My baby brother, they took him away. I don't know how they killed him. He was screaming, then suddenly he stopped."
"How did you escape?"
"I was in the woods with my friend. He made me hide until it was over."
"He was wise to do so."
"He tried to help my mother, but they killed him too. It was awful." She burst into tears, sobbing piteously.
Sailfish wanted to comfort her, but didn't know how. A girl who had seen her family brutalized and murdered by Indians would hardly turn to another for solace. Instead, he gave her some broth he he'd made from jerked meat.
She drank hungrily, asking for more when she was through. "I haven't eaten for so long."
"Then that is all you may have for now. If you eat too much, you will lose it."
Conceding the truth of his statement, the girl fell into an uneasy sleep. Sailfish finished a simple shelter to keep the sun off her and caught fish for their evening meal. She still hadn't woken by the time it was ready.
He ate his meal in silence, waiting for the girl to wake. She woke as he cleaned up after his meal. Sailfish served her some food, hoping she would make the next move. Unused to the company of women not of his tribe, he had no idea what to speak to her about. There wasn't that problem with Gabriella. She always had plenty to say. His face clouded.
The bright, green eyes missed little. Touching him fleetingly, she drew his attention. "What makes you sad?" It was strange how she said it, emphasis strong on the pronoun. She knew her own grief, but his sorrow puzzled her.
"Something very hard to explain," he said.
Instead of elaborating, he walked to the river and washed his dishes. He cleaned up around the camp, checked the fire and lay down with his pack for a pillow.
"She must be someone very beautiful," the girl stated quietly, staring at the growing darkness.
"The woman you carry in your heart."
"What makes you think it's that?" Sailfish's tone turned defensive.
"Because the only time I saw that expression on my older brother's face, was when a woman broke his heart."
© 2017 Dellani Oakes
Wednesday, June 28, 2017
Summer is officially here and what better way to kick off the start than to talk about books! Or to read books, or write books? We love reading, writing and talking about books. So do our three guests today. Two are new, but one is a back for another visit.
First of all, please welcome back my buddy Alfred Jendrasik. Al lives a few miles from me, but he's a displaced Pittsburgh boy. He's the author of I Met God at the Beach, Mysterious Tales of Colton Trane and The Other Side of Life series. Welcome back, Al!
Next, we're delighted to have Stephanie Barr on the show. She's the author of epic fantasy and sci-fi novels Beast Within, Tarot Queen, Nine Lives and many more. Welcome to the show, Stephanie! We're delighted to have you here.
Last, but by no means least, we're so pleased to have author Jerry Pociask joining us. Jerry is the author of Grandma, Me and Tree and Call Me Grandpa, a Man's Wish for His Grandchild. Welcome to the show, Jerry! We're so happy to have you visit.
Tuesday, June 27, 2017
"If we agree," Wil stood looking at the far wall, not at his wife or the Sentience. "What guarantee do I have that they won't attack us once we free them from Surau?"
"You have my assurance, you'll all be safe from their attack."
Wil turned slowly toward her, measuring his words and gestures, evaluating each before speaking. "We had your assurance before that we would be safe, yet they tried to kill us. We had the protection of your sentinels when the giant spider tried to kill my pregnant wife. You'll have to pardon me, but I need more than that. I don't need promises and guarantees. I need to know that no one will hurt us after we aid them. In short, I need a hostage. Someone they care about."
"Wil!" Matilda was shocked. This was something she never thought she would witness, the deliberate incarceration of an innocent person by her husband.
Sentience spoke decisively. "You're right, Wilhelm. Only by having such a hold are you guaranteed their cooperation. They're a brutal, primitive people. They may insist on a hostage of their own, an exchange to be made when the mission is complete."
"No, otherwise the deaths of three people would have been avenged long ago. Revenge isn't something any of us can afford. We'll need allies to fight the Kahlea. Perhaps when the time comes, the Blue Devils will join us."
"Chimarria," she corrected.
Wil merely shrugged. "Tell them my terms and get back to me. Meanwhile, I'm going to bathe and eat something."
"Would you like to be in on the negotiations?"
Wil's visage turned cold and lifeless. "There are no points to negotiate. If they want my help, then give me a hostage, someone important to them. Don't let them lie, I'll test them. If I have to kill some of them to get their full cooperation, I will."
Sentience's eyes blazed. "They're my children, Wil and covered by my protection! We have certain rules here!"
Wil rounded on her, left index finger punctuating his words, his anger barely contained. "I'd gladly kill each of them if it meant I could get my people back. We're like family out here. They'll provide me a suitable hostage and I'll test them if I think they're lying. I'll kill that hostage in front of their eyes. I'll shoot down anyone who tries to harm my people. I don't care if they're the last of their kind, I'll wipe them all out. Those are my terms." He spun away from her.
Her voice stopped him briefly. "That spider you killed in the cavern, it was the last of its kind. With her death, came the extinction of an ancient people. She was defending herself and her young. Now that she's dead, her eggs have died. Do you want to be responsible for the end of another race?"
Wil drew a deep breath, exhaling slowly, he marshaled his emotions. "She attacked us when we gave her no call to. She tried to kill a defenseless woman who was with child. I'd happily exterminate her a hundred times to insure the safety of my family." He swung around again, speaking this last carefully and distinctly. "Make no mistake, to protect my people, I'd destroy this entire planet and everything in it."
"Does that include the Maker and me?"
Wil said nothing, jaw clenching, nostrils flaring. "That includes anyone foolish enough to threaten us. If that means the two of you, so be it." With those words, he was gone.
The Sentience watched him walk away, unmoving, her face serene. Matilda stared after him, aghast.
"I'm sorry, my lady. I haven't heard Wil speak like that in a long time. I don't know what came over him."
"Don't apologize, Matilda. Had he said anything less, then I would know he's not the man for this job. It's that kind of protectiveness and loyalty a man in his position must have. Leordovik had that same attitude and he lies in the Halls. It was built for him."
A brief silence followed as Matilda digested this information. "Will you bring him a hostage?"
"I'll provide him with three. The elders and priests of the clan are the most important to it. They can't easily be replaced for their apprentices have all died by Surau's hand. They'll come to secure the safety of their people."
"Will we be safe?"
"From the Chimarria, surely. From Surau, that is another matter."
© 2017 Dellani Oakes
Thursday, June 22, 2017
Kyle Scott is a young widower with three children. His wife died about a year ago from ovarian cancer. Stressed out and depressed, he's not doing well at work, so his boss insists that he take a vacation. He, his three children and the nanny, Carmelita, embark on a cruise to Mexico and Belize. Their first night on board, he meets someone new.
The first course had already been served by the time a solitary person entered. Dressed rather like a gypsy in brightly colored, flowing skirts, blouse and shawl, she walked slowly to the table taking the empty seat next to Kyle. The waiter brought her food as well as a glass of iced tea with mint without even asking her. She accepted each with a stately inclination of her head.
She wore a multicolored scarf tied tightly over her head. No hair escaped and her scalp looked smooth beneath it. Her eyebrows were just growing in, her complexion pale, almost pallid. Kyle knew that look well. This was a woman who had been through chemo.
She was much taller than she looked walking in. Kyle guessed her to be around five nine. What had once been a strong, athletic body was ravaged by her disease and treatments. However, she was still broad shouldered with the build of a swimmer. Her eyes held a spark of determination as she smiled at him, extending her hand.
"Emily Geraci," she said quietly, her voice slightly hoarse.
"Kyle Scott." He took her hand gingerly. "This is Carmelita Porter, my housekeeper.
And my three children, biggest to smallest; Cindy, Randy and Mindy. Kids, Ms. Geraci."
They all said hello, smiling politely. Carmelita grinned at her, dark eyes sparkling.
"I love your scarf," she said. "The colors are just wonderful. That purple really sets off the green in your eyes."
"Thank you," Emily smiled shyly. "Normally, I have hair.... Raven black, thick...." She replied wistfully.
"You don't need to explain," Kyle said quietly. "You look beautiful without it."
"Thank you." Her smile was cautious.
They made polite dinner conversation. Kyle found her quick witted and nearly as sarcastic as he was. He enjoyed her scathing critique of the drive over from Orlando.
"Did you drive yourself over?" Carmelita asked.
"Not quite up to that yet. I took the company shuttle. Not the most comfortable trip, but at least I didn't have to worry about the traffic. People in Orlando are idiots on the road."
"True of any big city," Kyle replied diplomatically.
"I guess, but it seemed like everyone in Orlando was completely insane."
Kyle chuckled. "I guess it seems like that sometimes."
"We're from Orlando," Mindy said. "Daddy says Mickey Mouse lives there too."
"Really? Have you seen Mickey?" Emily replied, eyes big with wonder.
"Lots! Mommy used to work for Disney. We went all the time."
"What fun! I've never been. It's on my list after I skydive and rappel down a mountain."
"Any particular mountain?" Kyle asked with a smirk.
"Any that presents itself. I figure I'll have to go out of state, however. There aren't too many mountains in Florida."
"Not any I've ever seen," Kyle replied with a smirk.
Dinner was cleared and Carmelita took the kids back to the cabin to change and watch a movie.
"Don't be too late, Mr. Scott," Carmelita reprimanded. "You need to come tell the kids goodnight."
"Thanks, Lita. I won't be long." He frowned at her behind Emily's head.
© 2017 Dellani Oakes
Tuesday, June 20, 2017
Ben sat quietly, thinking along lines he had never ventured down before. It was a little like doing recon in a dark swamp, in the fog, but he was slogging through. He had latched onto a comment made in passing and he was working on that idea slowly, deliberately, like Marc playing a game of What If.
"You're awfully quiet," Matilda sounded concerned.
"I was just thinking about what you said about the string and getting back to Becky."
"It was a story, Ben, written thousands of years ago."
"I know that, but it's given me an idea. Remember how your dad did that thing with the Trimagnite finders, to locate Iyundo when the High Elder disappeared it? He said he got the idea when Patsy was talking about playing with mirrors, right?"
They waited to see where he was going with this.
"Well, the thread and Becky is what gave me the idea. We can't follow a string back, exactly, but maybe a string could come to us?"
"I still don't get your direction on this," Wil muttered.
"We know that Marc and Becky have their rings, linked by their AI's," Ben said.
"Yes, so do we. It didn't help us find Matilda."
Ben shook his head. "I don't know, maybe it did. Think about it, would we have pressed the balloon idea if Grandma hadn't nagged the ever loving shit out of you for twenty-four hours?"
Wil chuckled. "No, we would have trashed it after about five minutes. It seemed too ridiculous."
"But it worked. Also, you didn't have two telepaths, the Maker and a whole butt load of raw Trimagnite to boost your signal. Marc, you have Matilda and me to work with you. We do something similar like we did to reach Ysilvalov, and we try like hell to contact Becky or the Elders. Worth a try, right?"
Wil stared at his son, amazed and proud. "Damn, Ben, you have a good idea there!"
Matilda looked around at the three men whom she loved the most in her entire life. "That's what I like about this family, creative thinkers." Giggling, she stood with difficulty.
"You okay, babe?" Wil supported her.
"I need to go the the bathroom, Wil. I'm fine."
"Again? You just went five minutes ago."
"And I'll probably go again in five more minutes. Try having an eight pound weight on your bladder and see how you feel!" Playfully smacking his hand away, she walked to the bathroom.
Wil followed her with his eyes, worry all over his face. "I don't know how we're going to get her out of here safely. She can't walk all that way, it could take months. Based on what we saw of the indigenous life around here, it's dangerous as hell. We have no weapons, no food and no water. The suits are good for a week, but we could be a lot longer than that. Hell, we could walk for years and never get back. I think we can find our way out of here all right. I have my doubts about finding our way home."
"We might find a teleporter," Marc suggested.
"And risk that with a pregnant woman?" Wil shook his head adamantly. "If it were just the three of us, I'd say fuck it and run for the roses. We can't do that with Matilda, not with the baby—" His voice trailed off as she came out of the bathroom.
"You've been talking about me, I can see it all over your faces." Smiling, she sat heavily by Wil. "You don't look happy. I thought we had a plan. We do have a plan, don't we?"
"Yes, of sorts. But, Matilda, think about it for a moment. This is a big planet, who knows how deep we are. Maybe the shaft is our best approach. We could be wandering around for days, weeks or years with no way out! I can't risk that."
"You mean you can't do it with a fat lady in tow." Her eyes sparked dangerously.
"No, Matilda, that isn't what I mean and you know it."
"I'd slow you down, I get that. Do you think I don't realize what a liability I am right now? If I weren't pregnant, we could run out of here and never look back."
Wil took both her hands in his, their rings gliding over one another. Lowering his voice, he spoke calmly.
"What I'm saying is that you and Mariah are too precious to risk in this place. Even without the baby, I wouldn't risk you in this environment. The shaft is really our best bet."
"I won't go back in that shaft, Wil. I'm sorry. No, I'm not sorry! I'm being irrational, I know, but we nearly died in there! I won't go back!"
© 2017 Dellani Oakes
Thursday, June 15, 2017
As we've established, not every first impression is a good one. That's how it is for Bern Cortland and Paige Rousseau. In fact, their meeting is more of a collision. Unfortunately, their second and even third interactions don't go any better.
Arriving at his destination, Bern shook old ghosts from his thoughts. Squaring broad shoulders, he pasted a smile on his lips and walked in, head high—colliding with a blonde on her way out. She was turned away from the door, talking over her shoulder.
"Dammit! Watch where you're going!" she yelled, dark eyes flashing.
"Sorry, ma'am. You walked right into me."
"I did not!"
"Pardon me," he said, bowing slightly. "Reckon one of us needs their eyes checked."
"That would be you, then."
"Peers to be so," he said, adopting a country hick accent.
A hand at his tanned brow, he bowed her through the door, holding it for her. He watched her strut to the street where she hailed a cab, her short dress showing a lot of leg, curving nicely to a shapely ass. Admiring the view, his hungry eyes took in details. She was about 5'8" without those four inch heels. She was slender and athletic with nice tits and a great ass. Her blonde hair wasn't natural, but it should have been—dark brown eyes and a vocabulary to stop a bus. She yelled at the cab driver.
Shaking his head, Bern walked through the door. "Lord have mercy," he murmured. He caught his reflection in the window. Black, spiked hair fell over his brow. Penetrating blue eyes twinkled with interest and amusement as he opened the door.
* * *
Sitting hunched over, he studied the blueprint. Measuring carefully, he slowly mapped out the stage. Soon, he was so absorbed in what he was doing, he ignored the actors and Brent entirely, until one voice penetrated his haze. He recognized that voice. It was shrill and somewhat imperious.
"I asked how soon you're going to be done!"
Bern looked up and saw the tasty blonde from his first day. She was wearing another short dress with pointy heels. She stood with her hand on her hip, script clutched in one taloned hand.
"Almost there. Brent said there was no hurry."
"I asked for a walk through. I'm not comfortable just taking notes."
"It'll be done when it's done. If I screw it up, the blocking will be off. Another hour at most."
"An hour? I could do that with my eyes closed in like ten minutes!"
"Got extensive experience on set crew?"
"Who needs experience. It's a bunch of lines on paper."
He smiled patiently. "Of course it is, dear," he said, sounding like Sean Connery.
"I'm not your dear!"
"Bet your not anyone's dear," he mumbled. Louder, he added, "Back off, Babe. I'm busy. If Brent tells me the hurry, I will. Otherwise, if he wants this done right, and he does, it's gonna take time. I'm the only one doing it."
"Could they assign anyone slower? I mean, we don't open for another four and a half weeks!"
"The more you scream at me, the longer this will take. Excuse me."
"I certainly won't!" She stamped her foot.
Bern gave her a nasty smile and went back to work. She turned in a huff, stomping off the stage. She found Shaine and Sally, the assistant director, and started complaining loudly.
"I told him to do it," Brent said as he came down the aisle. "He'll be done when he's done. In the meantime, we've got plenty to do."
"I wanted to practice the blocking," the blonde princess said.
"The pit's down. We can practice there." He set chairs from the orchestra pit to mimic the set pieces.
"Not on the stage?"
"This will do. Use your imagination. You can do that, can't you, love? You are an actress." His British accent, layered with sarcasm, flavored his words. He sounded haughty and angry.
When Brent got snooty and sarcastic, it was usually a very bad idea to contradict him. Paige, the blonde princess, gave in, getting very compliant.
© 2017 Dellani Oakes
Tuesday, June 13, 2017
Room 203, A Marice Houston Mystery is a sequel to Room 103. Marice is a Deputy Federal Marshal stationed in Kansas City, Missouri. However, since a major shakeup in the Florida FBI, she and several of her co-workers have been sent to Florida to help with prisoner transport. Briefly back in KC, she receives a strange phone call, only a series of clicks and buzzes, with a distinctive beat. The sound technician, Cruz, has been tasked with figuring it out.
“I got something,” Cruz announced over the phone.
“What?” I sent back, perplexed.
“See me in my cubbie,” he said.
Sighing heavily, I wandered to his cubbie, which is what he calls his work space. It's small and cramped, but well lit and he has every electronic tool and gadget known to mankind. His diagnostic equipment set the budget back a very pretty penny, but considering he's an asset to the department, and one of the best in the nation, Alvin didn't mind finding the funds for him. Cruz met me at the door.
“I knew I recognized it.”
“What is it? Morse code?”
“No, not even. It was a drum beat.”
“A—hm—what?” I tilted my head, not sure I understood what he meant.
“A for real beat? Not just something that sounds like something?”
“No, it's an actual beat from an actual song.”
“And did you figure out which song?”
“Yeah—kinda. Working on that. But it's very familiar, which means it's something I've heard fairly often.”
“Doesn't narrow it down much. You listen to music all the time.”
“I know, but instead of all the drum beats it could be, it's isolated to something I regularly hear. So, instead of billions of possibilities, it's hundreds.”
“Good point. Ideas?”
“I looped it. Listen.”
He played the beat. Though it was done with clicks and buzzes instead of sticks and drums, I felt recognition. It was that strange, questing feeling you get when you know you know it, but it's not quite there. Like it's on the edge of your consciousness, but you can't touch it. It felt like something was tapping on my forehead, above my left eye.
The door popped open and Butch walked in, opening his mouth to speak. Instead, his head turned to Cruz and started to bob. “Jingo,” he said—pertinent of nothing, I thought.
“Jin-what?” I asked.
“Jingo, by Carlos Santana. That's the opening bongo solo, but I don't think I ever heard it like that.”
“You know it. Just like that?” I was slightly incredulous.
“Yeah? I'm a drummer. I know my beats. I'm also a huge Santana fan and it's one of my favorite songs.”
“Okay, we've identified it,” I said, raising a shoulder and eyebrow in Cruz's general direction. “Now, why? Is there something significant about the song, title, artist or beat?”
“No clue,” Cruz said, fiddling some more. He set the recording clicking and buzzing, adding Jingo in an overlay. It fit perfectly. “By damn.”
“Told ya. Do I know my beats, or what?”
“My man!” Cruz tapped his knuckles.
“But—the question remains—why? If it's supposed to convey a message, it isn't telling me anything.”
“You have to look beyond the music,” Cruz began.
“Really? You're going to chance walking there?” I turned to Butch. “Does he have a death wish?”
“Oh, Jeesh, Houston! I'm not being philosophical, I'm being honest. Listen. There's the Jingo beat. There's a factory whistle.”
“But what do they mean?”
“No clue. I can't solve all your problems for you.”
“In about ten seconds, you're going to die,” I cautioned him. “And you won't be able to stop me. And neither will Butch, guaranteed. So, quit pissing me off and spill.”
"I do think it's sending a message, but I couldn't tell you what. But if you listen, there is a pause before we very distinctly hear the whistle. That sort of whistle is rare. Some factories still use them, you might find them in small cities, a noon whistle, but it's not noon...."
"Do they sound them at end of shift?" Butch asked.
"Yeah, I suppose."Cruz checked his watch and the time stamp on the recording. "Not local time for end of shift, unless it's some place that changes shift at four o'clock instead of three. Most places go seven to three, three to eleven and eleven to seven. But some factories go from eight until four, four to twelve and twelve to eight."
"Do any of the local factories use a steam whistle at change of shift?" I asked him.
He was already sitting down to the keyboard. His face fell when he read the screen. "Aw shit."
"There's one near the prison where we just put China Finetti," I stated without even looking.
“Yeah. Shit. F**k.”
I couldn't state it more succinctly if I tried.
© 2017 Dellani Oakes
Sunday, June 11, 2017
School's out! Time to sit around the pool, kick back on the beach, climb a mountain or swim a lake. Maybe you'd like a safari in Africa or an epic, post-apocalyptic journey? Perhaps flying like a dragon is more your speed? Whatever your fancy, our authors can take you there. We have three amazing and diverse guests on our show, so relax and enjoy!
One author is no stranger to the show. I'm not sure how many visits he's made, but I think this is his fifth. We just love having him back. Please join me in welcoming CW Lovatt author of And Then it Rained, Adventures of Charlie Smithers, Josiah Stubb & Wild Wolf's Twisted Tales.
Our next two guests are new to the show, and we're so pleased to have them join us.
Are dragons your passion? Then you'll love books by J.S. Burke. Her flights of fantasy introduce readers to a whole new look at creatures of the air and sea. J.S. Burke is the author of The Dragon Dreamer and Dragon Lightning.
Our third guest is someone I met because he was hosting an event for sci-fi authors, to which he welcomed me. I'm delighted to return the favor. S.A. Gibson is the author of Asante's Gullah Journey, After the Collapse Series and other wonderful sci-fi books.
I remember nothing. Not my name, where I come from, my past, or how I ended up in the hospital with a bullet wound in my chest. Everyt...
Gasping loudly, she spun around, clutching her throat. She is a pretty thing, delicate of feature. Her dark brown eyes look nearly bla...
Practicing law in a large partnership, Sydney Jones was primed for making partner. Then her life turned upside down after a disagreemen...
After hearing what's got Phillida upset, Margo and Drea agree that Andres is making a serious mistake by asking Carley to be hi...