Spring Fever by Jamie DeBree & Grave Concerns by Carol R. Ward

Poetry Prompt of the Week: Write a poem about a puppy (or puppies) playing in a field of tulips…without mentioning either puppies or tulips specifically.

Prose Writing Prompt of the Week: There’s a grave in the local cemetery so old that the headstone is tilting to one side. Permanently affixed to the top of the headstone is a small brass bell in a brass frame. The headstone reads simply: “Ring my bell. I dare you.” What happens when someone does?


Spring Fever 
by Jamie DeBree

Thick strappy leaves wave merrily
propelled by warm fuzzy bodies
under bright spring sunshine.

Happy tails move this way and that
sending the occasional loose petal
flying free of its cup-like structure.

Red and yellow dominate the field.
A pleasant breeze ruffles ear-fur and
delights busy noses that sniff and seek.

Is there anything happier than soft
wigglebutts and bright fresh blossoms
on a warm spring day?

***********************************

Grave Concerns
by Carol R. Ward

Stumbling drunkenly on her stiletto heels, Candice hurried as fast as she could down the path.

“C’mon Candy, don’t be like that,” a male voice called from behind her. “It didn’t mean anything, I don’t even know the chick’s name.”

Candice didn’t answer, just tightened her grip on the bottle she was carrying and tried to speed up a little more, gulping back the tears.

“You’re going in the wrong direction you know,” the voice continued.

She didn’t care, she just wanted to put as much distance between them as quickly as possible.

“Fine you stupid bitch, have it your way. I was getting tired of you anyway.” His voice faded away behind her.

Though she was pretty sure he wasn’t following, she decided to cut through the old cemetery. It meant leaving the intermittent light from the street lights behind, but there was a full moon tonight. The gate for the cemetery was open – actually it was missing – and Candice picked a direction at random once she was inside.

Graveyards never bothered her, she often went for walks in them. She actually found them interesting. Her steps slowed and she started keeping an eye out for someplace to sit. Too busy looking around to watch where she was stepping, she stumbled on a protruding rock and fell to her knees beside a grave stone that was listing to one side. Moonlight glinted off the small brass bell in a frame that was fixed to the top of it.

“Guess this is as good a place as any.”

She awkwardly sat back on her heels then moved her legs to the side. Leaning back against the grave stone Candice uncorked the bottle she’d snagged when she started looking for Travis at the party. A tear trickled down her cheek.

“Stupid jerk,” she muttered, taking a swig.

***

When Janice told her about her proposed moonlight party, she’d thought it was a cool idea. And she also thought it would be the perfect night to finally let Travis, her boyfriend of one year, pop her cherry. They’d been there about two hours before becoming separated, and in that two hours she’d managed to down several beer. But she still drank almost half a bottle of wine, for courage, before setting out to find Travis.

But when she did find him he had his tongue down the throat of another girl. For a long moment she just stood there, staring in disbelief, her whole world crumbling down around her. Then he grabbed the girl’s ass, pulling her closer.

“You sonofabitch!” Candice shrieked.

The couple broke apart, although the girl kept ahold of Travis’s arm.

“Hey, Candy,” Travis said, looking not the least bit guilty. “Where’d you disappear to? I was looking for you.”

“Where? Down that skank’s throat?”

“Hey, who’re you calling a skank?” the girl asked.

“Don’t be like that babe,” Travis said, shaking the girl off and taking a step towards Candice. “I was just having a little fun.”

At that moment a guy holding a full plastic beer cup passed through. Without stopping to think, Candice grabbed it out of his hand and threw it at Travis.

“How’s that for fun?” she asked, and ran for the front door.

***

She sniffled in the night air. “He was supposed to be the one,” she said, taking another drink. “He was my Travy-bear and I was his Candy cane.”

Tears began to slide down her cheeks. “He was so hot, all the other girls were so jealous. That’s why I was going to let him be my first.”

Candice began to cry in earnest.

After a while her tears slowed, then stopped. She didn’t have a tissue so she swiped at her face with her sleeve. Then she leaned her head back to look up at the stars. The air was a little chilly, but not cold and she had no desire to move.

“What’s wrong with me? Better yet, what’s wrong with him?”

What was wrong was her bottle was empty. “How did that happen?”

With a sigh she tossed the empty bottle aside. “I should probably go home.” If she cut through the cemetery she could probably make it to a bus stop before they stopped running for the night.

This time her sigh turned into a groan as she got to her feet. Everything started to spin. “I guess maybe I shouldn’t have had so much to drink.” She leaned on the grave stone until the spinning stopped. “Hey, thanks for the support, whoever you are.” Leaning down, she looked for a name on the marker.

“Huh, no name but there’s something …” Candice leaned a little closer. “Ring my bell. I dare you.” She giggled. “I’ll bet that sure didn’t mean the same in your day as it does in mine.”

Unable to resist, she flicked at the little bell. Its note sounded louder than it should in the still of the night. Candice was about to leave when the earth started to tremble beneath her. She staggered, clutching at the grave stone for support, and the earth opened up at her feet.

“Thank you, my dear. You have no idea how long I’ve been waiting,” said a deep, baritone voice from the gash in the earth. A dark figure began to rise. “And it does indeed mean the same thing,” it told her gleefully.

Candice’s screams went unheard by the party goers, but they went on for a very long time.


Thanks for reading! Feel free to submit your poems/stories for the week in the comments if you’d like. And check back Monday for new writing prompts!

Be Careful What You Wish For by Carol R. Ward

Writing Prompt of the Week: Someone buys a shamrock plant on a whim while grocery shopping. Little do they know that a fairy lives in the pot and the shamrock is her forest.


Be Careful What You Wish For
by Carol R. Ward

Wishes are chancy things. The shamrock fairy learned this lesson all too well, and learned it the hard way. She wasn’t always a fairy, but a careless wish, made on Saint Patrick’s day, took care of that. There were many such shamrock fairies, each bonded with her shamrock, destined to spend her life caring for it. It was, quite frankly, a tedious way to live one’s life. There was regret, for certain, but there was also the faint hope of a certain wish, made on a certain day….

Fiona pushed back from her desk and arched her spine. She wouldn’t have been surprised to hear her bones cracking – once again she’d spent far too much time hunched over her keyboard without a break. But this job was important to her and she needed to put in the extra hours to keep from falling behind.

“Fiona, Mr. Barton would like to see you,” Chantal, Barton’s secretary, told her as she breezed by, already done for the day.

“Thanks, Chantal,” Fiona said, but the woman was gone like a puff of smoke.

Shaking her head, Fiona saved her work and rose to her feet, wondering what the boss wanted so late in the day. Just outside Mr. Barton’s door she paused for a moment to smooth down her clothing. One last pat to her auburn hair, confined neatly in a bun, and she knocked firmly on the door.

“Come.”

Pasting a bright smile on her face, Fiona stepped into the office. “You wanted to see me Mr. Barton?”

“Have a seat, Miss O’Mally.”

Mr. Barton fiddled with some papers on his desk and pushed his glasses further up on his nose. Fiona’s smile dimmed at his serious expression when he finally looked up.

“There’s no point in beating around the bush so I’ll come right to the point. The quarterly figures have been steadily dipping and we’ve had to start cutting corners. I’m sorry, but yours is one of the jobs on the chopping block. Effective immediately.”

“But–”

“You’re a bright girl and a good worker, I know you’ll have no trouble finding a new job.”

“But–”

Mr. Barton rose to his feet and stuck out his hand. “I know this is a bit of a shock, but I’m sure you’ll find the severance package a generous one. I’m sorry we have to lose you.”

“Thank you, sir,” Fiona said faintly, rising to her feet to take his hand. Shock was too mild a word for what she was feeling.

By the time she’d cleaned out her desk and found herself standing on the sidewalk, holding a banker’s box, the shock had turned to numb resignation.

“Pretty flower for a pretty lady?”

A bright green plant with a smattering of white blossoms was thrust almost right under her nose.

“What?”

“Everyone needs a shamrock on St. Paddy’s Day,” the raggedy old woman told her.

“Oh, I don’t think–”

“These are special shamrocks. They’re fairy shamrocks, come all the way from Ireland.”

Fiona took a better look at the woman and took in her threadbare coat, unbrushed hair, and rusted shopping cart with several potted plants in it. Here was someone who had it even worse than her.

“How much?” she asked in resignation.

Beaming, the woman said, “For you, just five dollars.”

Setting her box down, Fiona dug around in her purse and came up with a crumpled five dollar bill. Handing it over, she took the plant in exchange and placed it on top of her things in the box.

“Bless you child,” the woman called after her as she started the long walk to her apartment. “And a Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you.”

By the time Fiona reached her apartment, depression had set in. She didn’t have much in her savings account, what was she going to do? Sniffling back a few tears, she set the box on the table and retrieved the messages from her answering machine. Three calls from telemarketers, one call from her mother with a laundry list of complaints, and the fifth…

Fiona plunked down in a chair as she listened in disbelief to the fifth message, the one from her boyfriend Lyle.

“Hey babe. Look, I gotta tell you. Things just haven’t been good between us lately. You know what I mean? Anyway, I think I’m just gonna take a pass on this whole relationship thing. No hard feelings, right? And hey, if you ever want to hook up to just … you know… give me a call.”

“Asshole,” she muttered. Never mind that she’d been thinking of dumping him herself, it still stung.

With a heavy sigh she got to her feet. Picking up the plant she glanced around the apartment, trying to decide where to put it. There was a small table in front of one of the windows and she placed it there, in a ray of light from the setting sun.

“What did that woman call you?” she mused. “A fairy shamrock? Too bad you aren’t a wishing shamrock. I could wish for a new life – a nice, quiet, uncomplicated life.”

The shamrock seemed to shimmer in the light as a green mist wafted down in the empty apartment.

Wishes are chancy things. The new shamrock fairy learned this lesson all too well, and learned it the hard way. She wasn’t always a fairy, but a careless wish, made on Saint Patrick’s day, took care of that. There were many such shamrock fairies, each bonded with her shamrock, destined to spend her life caring for it. It was, quite frankly, a tedious way to live one’s life. There was regret, for certain, but there was also the faint hope of a certain wish, made on a certain day….

###


Thanks for reading! Check back on Monday for the next weekly writing prompt.

Contest Results & Writing Prompt

BSB News & Contest Results

First, congratulations to Carol R. Ward, who’s latest release, An Elemental Earth, is now available for purchase in both digital and print. It’s not quite available at Barnes & Noble, iTunes and Kobo just yet, but it should be in a week or so. If you aren’t reading this series, then you should be!

As far as the contest on her Author Interview post goes, since there were only two people who entered, both Leanne Young and Ann Partridge will receive a prize package from me that includes a print copy of An Elemental Earth.  I’ll be emailing you for your addresses in the next few days. Congratulations!

The free download last week was Heart Knocks, by Jamie DeBree. Don’t forget to look through our Available Books and find the free download for this week!

And of course, if you missed it, feel free to go back and this week’s writing prompt story: The Scent of Dust by Alex Westhaven.

We’ll skip the topic of the week for this particular week since this post is late already. But check below for this week’s writing prompt!


Writing Prompt of the Week: A woman is out walking her dog, and finds a mostly-used roll of duct tape tossed into the mud. A little farther along, she spots a pink envelope, and a little farther from that, half of an empty cigarette box.

Write a 500 – 1000 word story based on the prompt, and email it to brazensnake@brazensnakebooks.com. We’ll pick the one we like best to post right here on the blog the following Saturday.

Release Day: An Elemental Earth by Carol R. Ward

It’s here! An Elemental Earth – Book 4 of the Ardraci Elementals series by Carol R. Ward is now available for purchase!

An Elemental Earth Cover

If you’re not reading this series, you really should be! Available now in both digital and print formats – get your copy today:

Digital: Amazon | Smashwords (other retailers coming soon!)
Print: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository

Did you know you can win a print copy plus a surprise gift basket with related items? Go read our Author Interview with Carol R. Ward, and just follow the directions to enter the contest!

She’s trusted him with her secret, but can she trust him with her heart?

Chloe has spent her whole life feeling like an outsider because of her unique gifts. Now she has met someone whose gifts rival her own and it’s both thrilling and terrifying.

Zephryn never expected to meet anyone like Chloe when he came to this world. But he has a hidden agenda, an agenda that changes drastically once the Ilezie Da’nat discovers something about Chloe that shouldn’t be possible.

Excerpt:
The night air was cold, but the two moons provided enough light for Chloe to see where she was going. There was no danger of running into any search party Gannon might send out. He’d be working with sensors and radar maps, while she followed the path provided by the land itself.

It did not take her long to find the place where the object had struck. There was a long gash in the earth ending in a smoking hollow. Within the hollow was a ship – a ship unlike any Chloe had ever seen before. This was no mining vessel!

Filled with a sense of urgency she did not understand, she scrambled down into the hollow and located the hatch of the vessel. It opened easily beneath her touch and she hesitated before entering.

“Hello?” she called. “Are you all right in there?”

There was no answer, but the sense of urgency increased. Catching her bottom lip between her teeth, she cautiously entered. Dim lights came on as the door slid shut behind her, making her jump.

“Hello?” she called again. There was still no answer and she moved slowly towards the front of the craft. The short passage had several doors, but instinctively she knew what she sought was behind the door at its end.

It slid open automatically and she found the pilot, unconscious and still strapped into his seat. Chloe cursed under her breath. It was obvious he was larger than she was, how was she supposed to get him out of the ship, let alone away from here before Gannon arrived?

Anti-grav sled, a voice whispered in her mind.

Startled, she glanced around. “Who said that?”

Aft compartment.

The sense of urgency was almost unbearable. Chloe quickly left the cockpit and hurried to the aft compartment where she found the anti-grav sled that was used for moving heavy cargo. Towing it behind her, she returned to the front where she managed to free the pilot from his restraints and push him out of his seat and onto the sled.

“Sorry,” she said, wincing in sympathy as he hit the sled hard. There wasn’t a sound out of him. She really hoped she hadn’t added to his injuries.

The sled moved easily behind her, although she had to take an angled path out of the hollow to keep her passenger from sliding off. The sense of urgency increased as she saw lights tracing a grid like pattern in the distance. As she topped the rise just above the crash site, Chloe heard the voice again.

Conceal the ship.

“Mother?” she asked in a whisper, remembering Tierra telling her that Gannon must not find either the pilot or the ship.

Protect the ship.

Chloe turned to face the ship. Moonlight reflected in her eyes as they changed from brown to green and back again as she concentrated. The earth around the ship shivered and the ship slowly sank downwards. Once it was several feet below the surface, the gash in the earth repaired itself.

As Chloe faced forward and began dragging the sled behind her towards home, grass and weeds began growing in the bare earth where the gash had been. Plants sprang up behind her, covering her tracks away from the site.

Digital: Amazon | Smashwords (other retailers coming soon!)
Print: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository

Check out the other Books in this series: 

An Elemental Wind (Book 1)
An Elemental Fire (Book 2)
An Elemental Water (Book 3)

 

Author Interview & Contest: Carol R. Ward

An Elemental Earth Cover

If you haven’t read one of Carol R. Ward’s books, you should start now, because An Elemental Earth, the fourth book in her Ardraci Elementals series will be available this coming Monday! You can read the books out of order and not get too lost, but there’s a whole weekend between now and release day. What better way to spend it than catching up on the first three books!

Today, Carol’s agreed to have a little chat with us about her books, and cats in space. Pull up a comfy chair and get a nice cuppa! While you’re reading, consider what flower might spontaneously pop up (so to speak) if you were makin’ out with your main squeeze surrounded by nature.

Now, let’s chat a bit:

Wind, Fire, Water and now Earth. Can you tell us a little about what inspired you to write this sweeping “elemental” space opera series?

Uh, actually, you did. LOL You talked me into doing a serial story for my blog, so I dipped into my well of story ideas and came up with one that started out as kind of a revenge thing on another world. The resulting novel was An Elemental Wind and bore only a passing resemblance to the original idea. The elemental aspect of it took me by surprise, and once I was finished I figured I might as well continue the underlying story using the other elements.

If you could have one of the Elemental powers, which one would you choose, and why?

Hmm. According to the Chinese zodiac my element is earth, and I have to say that would probably be my first choice. I love plants and could only imagine what my garden would look like if I was able to help it grow. And I could avoid the winter doldrums by making it stay green all year round. My second choice would be fire because, you know, fire!

There are rumors that Gra’anna kept a journal much like Wynne Ignitus did in An Elemental Fire. Will we get a peek into that in the next book?

Man, you and your journals! LOL If Gra’anna kept a journal, it’s news to me. Plus, considering she’s ancient, even by Illezie standards, it would span many, many volumes. The journals in Fire and Water served a purpose – they told the back story and a little foreshadowing without bogging the story down with unnecessary detail. While it might be interesting to have someone recording the events that take place in An Elemental Spirit, I’m not quite sure how I’d work that in, nor who would be writing said journal. I could see starting each chapter of Spirit with a couple of lines from the prophecy Gra’anna was talking about in Earth, but of course first I’d have to come up with the whole prophecy.

Well, it was worth a try, anyways. *sigh* For those of you who have no idea what we’re talking about here…go read the first three books! 

What’s the first thing you would order from the food replicator system if you’d just come out of a decades-long stasis?

That’s a hard question to answer! I love food, especially food that’s bad for me. If, during my time in stasis, I was cured of both my diabetes and IBS, then I’d go for a Canadian pizza and a side of New York fries with the works and honey garlic chicken wings, with a strawberry daiquiri to wash it down with, and coconut cream pie for desert. Or maybe an apple dumpling with caramel sauce. Or that mile high chocolate desert thing they have at Montana’s. Or maybe just bring me the desert sampler. And then you’d better have a bucket handy for when I’m sick after eating all that junk food. LOL

The Illezie are quite the enigmatic bunch. Will we ever learn more about them and their end-game?

I’ve given you hints about the Illezie throughout the first four books and seeing as a lot of the action of the final book takes place on their home world you’ll be learning a lot more about them. There are two possible end games, and I haven’t quite figured out which one it will be. This is one of the pitfalls of writing an unplanned series – I’ve been setting things up for the end to be one thing, but I’m actually leaning towards a different end than the one I first envisioned. I might have to *gulp* plot it out.

I know you’re a cat person – why do you think we never see cats on spaceships in fiction? Would you ever consider writing about a “spaceship cat” or cats?

Seriously? Not a Star Trek fan, are you? Data had an orange tabby named Spot on the Enterprise and it even made an appearance in the movie Nemesis. Don’t make me recite Data’s poem, Ode to Spot. And wasn’t there a cat (also an orange tabby) on Ripley’s ship in Alien? In literature we have The Hani in the Chanur books by C.J. Cherryh who are a race of space faring cats; Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough created the “Barque Cats”, who were bred to live on spaceships; George R.R. Martin features genetically engineered cats on his space ship in Tuf Voyaging; there’s Tales of a Starship’s Cat by Judith R. Conly – I could go on, but I think I’ve made my point. 😉

As to the second part of your question, yes, I have considered writing about a cat on a spaceship. It might be a novel, or it might be a series of stories, I haven’t quite decided yet.

Note: I am a Star Trek fan. Not so much a cat fan, so I tend not to notice cats. Yours truly is a dog person, of course…

What are you working on now?

Right now I’m working on overcoming my addiction to on-line solitaire and hidden objects games so I can move forward with Wandering Wizards (the half-written third installment of the Moonstone Chronicles) and get started on the fifth and final elemental book, An Elemental Spirit.


Thanks for chatting with us, Carol! I can’t wait to see how Wandering Wizards turns out…

Everyone remember that question I asked you at the beginning – the one about which flower might spontaneously grow when you’re getting all hot and bothered out under the stars? Great! Comment either here, on Facebook or on Twitter with your answer – just the name of that flower – and you’ll be entered to win a print copy of Carol’s new book, along with a surprise gift basket! 

Entries will be accepted until noon next Monday (February 20, 2017). Must be 18 yrs old or over, no purchase necessary to win. The winner will be announced here on the blog first thing next Tuesday morning (Feb. 21st)! 

Valentine’s Day, Contest & Fairy Tales

BSB News

Did you read our author interview with Ford Forkum last week? His new book, Cinderelleper releases *tomorrow*, and if you guess which interview question he lied on, you could win a print copy along with a gift basket of fun related goodies! Get your guess in now!

In honor of Valentine’s Day this Tuesday, we’ve put nine of our titles on sale for just 99 cents each. And did I mention that Cinderelleper will also be available for a 99 cent introductory price too? Here’s a list and links for the titles we have on sale – starting today, and running through Friday. It’s a great chance to sample what we have on offer!

Thanks once again to Carol R. Ward for writing our writing prompt story this week! If you haven’t already, go check out her short story, Retribution.

Did you know that Carol has a new book coming out next week? An Elemental Earth, Book 4 of the Ardraci Elementals series will hit the virtual shelves on Monday, February 20th. You won’t want to miss it, or the interview with her this coming Thursday, Feb. 16th!

Last week’s free PDF download was MacKenzie Saves the World – did you get your copy? Don’t forget to check the Available Books section for this week’s free download! Hint: It’s short & semi-sweet.

Topic of the Week: Fairy Tales

Have you read the original version of Cinderella by the Grimm brothers? Or any of their tales, for that matter? They tend to be much darker and involve quite a bit more blood than the “Disney-fied” versions we’re used to. I like both versions, personally. Dark and matter-of-fact appeals to my logical side, while the cartoon/sanitized versions appeal to the hopeless romantic in me. Who doesn’t like a good happily ever after, right? But I dare say most of us have to work a bit harder for our happy ending than the modern tales portray.

Want to read the original Cinderella and quite a few other stories? You can read for free at Project Gutenberg. A copy of the Grimm brother’s collection is right here, just waiting for you to take a peek…


Writing Prompt of the Week: A bouquet of flowers is delivered to the desk of a young woman at work. There’s no card, only a dozen purple and yellow lilies amidst an abundance of greenery. Later that afternoon she noticed something moving in the bouquet. She looked closer, and nearly knocked her coffee off her desk. One of the purple blossoms was rotating…

Write a 500 – 1000 word story based on the prompt, and email it to brazensnake@brazensnakebooks.com. We’ll pick the one we like best to post right here on the blog the following Saturday.

Retribution by Carol R. Ward

Writing Prompt of the Week: A dachshund runs by, barking incessantly. He finally stops at the base of a tree and starts digging down into the snow and dirt, only to find something completely unexpected…

Once again, a single entry by Carol R. Ward! Here’s her story – enjoy!


Retribution
by Carol R. Ward

“What d’ya think?” Tyler said in a loud whisper as the group of boys paused on the sidewalk.

“I think you’re nuts,” Matthew said.

“Well I sure ain’t doing it,” Greg put in. Allen nodded his head in agreement.

The white lace curtains at one of the windows of the dilapidated Victoria house behind the wrought iron fence twitched.

“C’mon!” George said, plucking at Tyler’s sleeve. “Let’s get out of here!”

The five boys ran in pretend fear, but only as far as the edge of the park on the corner. There they collapsed on the grass, still able to see the house they found so interesting.

“My brother James says the old lady who lives there is a witch,” Matthew informed the others importantly.

“There ain’t no such thing as witches,” Tyler scoffed.

“Is too!” Greg and Allen chorused.

“Only babies believe in witches.” At twelve, Tyler was the oldest of the group and by virtue of his age the leader.

“Nuh uh,” Matthew insisted. “James is older than you and he says she casts spells and rides a broom when the moon is full.”

“She’s just a plain old lady,” Tyler said. “Probably fifty years old.”

“She’s a witch! And if you mess with her she’ll cast a spell on you.” Matthew stuck his jaw out stubbornly.

Tyler rolled his eyes. “You and your brother are stupid, and I’ll prove it.” He started back the way they’d come.

“What are you gonna do?” George asked as he followed along, giving Tyler a lead of a few feet. The others trailed behind.

“Same thing as we were going to do to old man Krantz.”

Tyler’s bravado lasted until he was standing at the gate in the wrought iron fence. Looking up at the spooky old house he swallowed hard, but with the other boys just a few yards away he couldn’t back down now. The house was dark and silent, which made the creaking of the gate as he pushed through it seem all the louder. His eyes shot to the lace covered window, but there was no sign of the old woman.

After a quick glance at his friends to make sure they were watching, Tyler resolutely stepped through the gate. Slowly he made his way up the cracked sidewalk. A cold wind sprang up, making him shiver, but he didn’t hesitate when he reached the wooden stairs leading up to the veranda. He tried to step as lightly as possible, but the porch still groaned under his weight. Taking a deep breath, he rapped as hard as he could on the wooden door, then turned and ran back the way he’d come.

The old lady must have seen him coming because he hadn’t even reached the gate when the door opened.

“You darned whippersnappers!” the old woman yelled, shaking her fist at the boys as they fled down the street. “Go get ‘em Chauncy!”

A dachshund raced down the steps and chased after them, barking ferociously. It chased them all the way back to the park and when they finally stopped to catch their breath it began to run in circles around them.

Greg and Allen thought it was funny, such a little dog acting so fierce. Matthew didn’t like dogs and threw a snowball at it, trying to chase it off but the dog just dodged it and kept circling.

“Oh, go to hell, you stupid dog!” Tyler said, repeating the phrase he’d so often heard his father use.

Chauncy stopped circling them and raced over to the base of the oak tree the boys liked to climb in the summer time.

“What’s he doing?” George asked.

“Well duh, he’s digging a hole,” Greg answered.

“Stupid dog,” said Allen.

The boys watched as the tiny dog dug furiously, dirt and snow flying everywhere, and then to their great astonishment, he disappeared.

“Where’d he go?” Matthew asked.

“Must be a rabbit’s burrow,” Tyler said. “Stupid dog’s gone inside.”

“This I gotta see,” Matthew said, starting forward.

The other boys looked at each other. Tyler and George shrugged. Curiosity getting the better of them, they followed in Matthew’s wake.

“Whew! What’s that stink?” Allen said.

They reeled back from the rotten egg smell emanating from the hole.

“Pee-yew!” George said, wrinkling his nose. “Dogs like the grossest things!”

“What’s that light?” Tyler wondered.

The boys moved closer to get a better look.

“It’s really bright,” Matthew said.

“I don’t like this,” Greg said nervously. “I think we should get out of here.”

But it was too late. The light seemed to surround them, drawing them in.

“What’s going on?” Tyler demanded, but there was no answer.

They were unable to move as they were sucked into the impossibly small hole. It was hot and bright and the sulfuric smell made them gag. After what seemed like forever they reached the bottom and went sprawling on the dirt floor.

“Well, Chauncy,” a booming voice said. “What manner of mischief makers have you brought me this time?”

The boys struggled to their feet and stared in disbelief at the creature seated on a black shiny throne. Chauncy sat at its feet and if ever a dog looked smug it was now.

“Didn’t your parents ever tell you it’s not nice to play pranks on people?” the devil asked. “And you should really know better than to swear.”

###


Thanks for reading! Check back on Monday for the next weekly writing prompt.

Broken by C.R. Ward

The writing prompt this week was: Sitting on a round table in the entry of an expensive home are a half-empty pitcher of milk, a whisk, a bowl of three raw eggs, a small mirror in a picture frame and a vase of dead flowers. There’s one broken eggshell on the floor.

We received one entry this week by our own Carol R. Ward. Here is her story. Enjoy!


Broken
by C.R. Ward

“Please? Pleasepleasepleaseplease pretty please can I practice riding my bike?” Lori was dancing in place, her blonde pony tail bouncing up and down.

“Not right now,” Janice said absently, contemplating the empty pie shell centered on the counter. Pastry wasn’t her forte, but even Edwin’s mother would have a hard time finding fault with this one.

“But Mom…”

Knowing if she so much as glanced in her daughter’s direction she’d be snared by her patented blue puppy dog eyes, she said, “Lori, I don’t have time to watch you. I have to get dinner started, your grandmother is coming tonight.”

Specifically, her grandmother was coming for a light repast not something heavy and hard to digest. The salad was already made, just awaiting its sprinkling of balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil.

“Can’t you mix the egg pie stuff on the front hall table? You can watch me from there.”

“The proper name is quiche.” Edwin was a big fan of proper names for things.

“Mommm…”

Janice sighed in exasperation. “All right. Fine! But I want you to promise to stay on the driveway where I can see you.”

“Yay!” Lori was off like a shot, racing through the house and out the front door, leaving it wide open.

Shaking her head at her inability to say no to her daughter, Janice put the eggs and whisk into the bowl to make it easier to carry, picked up the milk pitcher, and followed in Lori’s wake.

It was with a kind of puerile satisfaction she saw that the vase of wilted wild flowers Lori had picked earlier in the week had left a ring on the table in the front hallway. It was carved oak, Victorian gothic in style, a gift from her mother-in-law. In no way did it fit with the casual elegance of the rest of the house but Edwin had insisted she find a place of prominence for it.

Looking on the bright side she figured that maybe mixing the quiche filling out here was a good idea after all. If she just happened to spill milk or eggs on the table… Edwin wouldn’t want a damaged table cluttering up the entranceway, would he?

“Mommy, watch this!”

Lori’s voice came faintly through the open door and Janice glanced up to see her wobbling down the brick driveway on her bicycle. At Edwin’s insistence the training wheels had been taken off last week. Janice winced as Lori’s wobbling took her to the side where she tumbled off the bike. She still had a problem when it came to stopping.

“It’s okay,” Lori called as Janice took a step towards the door. “I landed on the grass.”

Undaunted, she picked herself up and brushed herself off, making Janice smile. She wished she had half of Lori’s spirit – so brave and fearless, rising to face any challenge head on. She was the glue that held their small family together. The smile faded and she made a mental note to make sure Lori changed her clothes before her father got home. Edwin disliked untidiness.

One by one Janice began breaking eggs into the bowl. Frowning, she muttered, “I thought I had four eggs.”

Glancing out the door again she saw Lori was now walking her bike up to the top of the driveway. With any luck she’d be ready to come in as soon as she put her bike away. Holding the egg shells in one hand she headed back to the kitchen for the other egg.

Yup, it was still on the counter. Leaving it there she searched the fridge for the pre-shredded cheese, the special Tex-Mex blend that Edwin preferred. He was getting more and more picky about his food lately, almost as bad as Lori. Maybe tonight would be a good night to bring up the subject of a full time cook. It’s not like they couldn’t afford it, and it would give her more time to… well, she’d find some way of filling her time.

Scooping up the egg on the way back to the entrance hall, Janice stopped in her tracks. From where she stood she could see a reflection of the driveway in the small, gilt framed mirror on the table. Lori was speeding down the cobblestones, headed toward the road, her bike for the first time holding steady.

The screeching of brakes barely registered. There was a flash of blue, then only Lori twisted up with her bike on the pavement, as fragile as the egg that fell from Janice’s nerveless fingers, breaking as it hit the floor.

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