Free Fiction Thursday – After

Happy Thursday, everyone!

I don’t know about you, but this has been a busy week for this writer person. I’m getting ready to head out for two back-to-back workshops. I don’t travel a whole lot, so each trip out of town is like a mini-adventure. This one should be fun. Lots of friends and writing and business talk (yes, that’s fun when it’s about the business of writing), with some imaginary characters thrown in here and there for good measure.

A few years ago I went on another adventure with a friend — a trip to a beautiful mountain lake. One day we stopped for a late lunch at a restaurant overlooking the lake. It was the middle of the week, not yet the tourist season, and we were the only customers in the place. We sat outside on a second-story deck and ate pizza in the shade of huge pine trees and just enjoyed the heck out of ourselves. A few months later, this week’s story was born. I hope you enjoy “After,” the story of an artist with one foot in the real world and one foot in a world that only exists in her imagination.

After_cover

 

After

Annie Reed

Published by Thunder Valley Press

Copyright 2013 by Annie Reed

The older Belle Creedy gets, the more she wonders about what happens.  After.

In the mornings, when dawn’s just a lick of peach in the eastern sky and she’s so far into the world of her art she only knows the sun’s coming up because the racket from the birds roosting in the thick pines around her house intrudes on her thoughts, she stops whatever she’s working on and pads out onto the deck on the second story of her place.  She watches ripples on the surface of the clear mountain lake just across the road take on the color of the pre-dawn sky, and she considers just how many coincidences go into making a world like this.  Are they really coincidences after all?  Or is there something more?

It’s quiet this morning, so early in the day the birds have barely started their chatter.  So early that Gary Weeds, another old-timer like herself, isn’t even on the lake yet.  Gary lives halfway up the mountain.  He fishes every day he can, and since he retired in 1989, he can fish almost every day the weather lets him.   He crunches down the one-lane dirt road that snakes up through the pines, rod and tackle box in his hand, and shoves off in his rowboat.  Sits out on the lake half the day, the damn fool.  One of these days she’s gonna catch Gary peeing over the edge of his boat.  Man has a cast iron bladder, but even a cast iron bladder can’t stand against the ravages of time.

(read the rest of the story here)

Free Fiction Thursday – Soulmate From Hell

Happy Thursday, everyone!

This week I’m trying to play catch-up after a weekend spent battling the cold from hell, so I thought what better story to post this week than “Soulmate From Hell,” a quirky little tale about a minion, a perky blonde, and a wish gone wrong — or did it? Enjoy!

 

Soulmate from Hell

Annie Reed

Copyright © 2012 Annie Reed

Published by Thunder Valley Press

Cover and layout Copyright © 2012 Thunder Valley Press

Cover art Copyright © Dmitry Pshek/Dreamstime.com

“My name’s Paulette, and I want a soulmate.”

Reba raised a hairy eyebrow at the video of the young woman displayed on the heat-resistant monitor on her desk.

Why didn’t anyone just want a date anymore?  Paulette was cute, in a vapid blonde sort of way.  She had a dimple in her chin, pouty lips, and a nose that was a little too pert to be natural, which probably meant that other portions of her anatomy, out of camera range, would be a little too pert to be natural, too.  Men seemed to go for those things.  So why couldn’t Paulette be satisfied with a date?

Why had she requested a soulmate?

Reba sighed and flexed her wings.  She really needed more of the moisturizer her shift supervisor had recommended, but she’d have to put in another four hundred sixty-six hours processing soulmate requests before she’d have the credits to buy anything other than a mid-shift snack.  The thin skin between the spines of her wings dried out in the heat, as if that was anything new.  If one more minion in the Be Careful What You Wish For division cracked a joke about how the heat down here wasn’t really all that bad because it was a dry heat, Reba was going to smack said minion straight to Level 42.

Nobody wanted to go to Level 42.  Not even Reba.

Level 42 was home to things no self-respecting minion of Hell ever talked about, much less contemplated, and minions of Hell contemplated a lot considering that the mind-numbing tasks most minions performed didn’t take a lot in the way of brain power.

Reba punched a button on the soulmate machine that stood off to one side of her desk.  The ancient thing resembled a lottery tumbler only on a much more massive and corroded scale.  Instead of ping pong balls with numbers stenciled on them, the tumbler held tiny spheres filled with softly glowing souls.  The souls came in all colors of the rainbow, from softest pink and palest blue, to darkest black and deep, bloody crimson.

She wasn’t quite sure why certain requests for a soulmate were funneled downstairs instead of up.  The only one who knew was the Boss, and Reba, good little functionary that she was, never asked the Boss any questions.  She just kept her massive, short-horned head down and did what she was told.  She’d long since stopped wondering if never questioning the way things worked in life was the thing that landed her this particular job in the afterlife.  After all, it could have been worse.  She could have been assigned to Level 42.

What Reba did know was that whenever certain requests for soulmates showed up on her monitor in the form of a video or email or diary entry (how quaint), Reba pressed the button on the ancient machine, which sent the massive tumbler rolling with a screeching groan.  The spheres full of souls churned around inside until the machine spit one out.  Reba took note of the results, entered them in a database that had no beginning (and probably would never have an end), and then sent the soul on its way.  Done and done, until the next request came through.

Next to her, the machine screeched and groaned, its rusted gears rasping against each other as the souls tumbled round inside.  The thing smelled like it needed a good oiling, not that anyone from maintenance bothered with… well, maintenance.  Reba tried not to reach around behind her back to scratch her wings while she waited.  Her arms were long enough, but her talons were sharp.  Last time she scratched her wings, she ended up in therapy for self-mutilation.  While  mutilation itself was a time-honored tradition in Hell, it was the “self” part that the Boss frowned on.  Afterwards, Reba had vowed never to end up in therapy again.  Trolls did not make good mental health counselors.

She was just about ready to do a major no-no – make a personal call at work to order that moisturizer, credits or no credits – when the machine quit its screeching and groaning, and spit out a sphere.

An empty one.

(Read the rest of the story here)

Free Fiction Thursday – After

Happy Thursday, everyone!  How are we doing this day-after-SOPA-protests, otherwise known as The Big Bang Theory’s 100th episode day?

It’s also time for a new Free Fiction Thursday story on my blog.  This week’s story is “After” which was inspired by a trip I took to Northern Idaho a few years ago.  Enjoy!

After
Annie Reed

Published by Thunder Valley Press

Copyright 2011 by Annie Reed

The older Belle Creedy gets, the more she wonders about what happens. After.

In the mornings, when dawn’s just a lick of peach in the eastern sky and she’s so far into the world of her art she only knows the sun’s coming up because the racket from the birds roosting in the thick pines around her house intrudes on her thoughts, she stops whatever she’s working on and pads out onto the deck on the second story of her place. She watches ripples on the surface of the clear mountain lake just across the road take on the color of the pre-dawn sky, and she considers just how many coincidences go into making a world like this.

Are they really coincidences after all? Or is there something more?

It’s quiet this morning, so early in the day the birds have barely started their chatter. So early that Gary Weeds, another old-timer like herself, isn’t even on the lake yet. Gary lives halfway up the mountain. He fishes every day he can, and since he retired in 1989, he can fish almost every day the weather lets him. He crunches down the one-lane dirt road that snakes up through the pines, rod and tackle box in his hand, and shoves off in his rowboat. Sits out on the lake half the day, the damn fool. One of these days she’s gonna catch Gary peeing over the edge of his boat. Man has a cast iron bladder, but even a cast iron bladder can’t stand against the ravages of time.

(read the rest of the story here)

Free Fiction Thursday story – After

This week’s free story was inspired by two things – a wonderful little pizza place/bakery in the small town of Hope, Idaho, and an article I read about the passing of Jerry Garcia of The Grateful Dead.

Several years ago I was on vacation with a friend, and we stopped for lunch in Hope at The Ice House Pizzeria. We ate our slices on the second story deck that looks out over Lake Pend Orelle. The deck was liberally decorated with an eclectic assortment of statues, knickknacks, and windsocks, and quiet jazz from a satellite radio station played in the background. I remember enjoying the pizza, but even more, I loved just sitting there, soaking up the atmosphere.

As happens a lot with the creative process, that experience sat in my subconscious waiting for the right time to put it in a story. That story turned out to be After. I hope you enjoy it.

After
Annie Reed
Published by Thunder Valley Press
Copyright 2011 by Annie Reed

The older Belle Creedy gets, the more she wonders about what happens. After.

In the mornings, when dawn’s just a lick of peach in the eastern sky and she’s so far into the world of her art she only knows the sun’s coming up because the racket from the birds roosting in the thick pines around her house intrudes on her thoughts, she stops whatever she’s working on and pads out onto the deck on the second story of her place. She watches ripples on the surface of the clear mountain lake just across the road take on the color of the pre-dawn sky, and she considers just how many coincidences go into making a world like this. Are they really coincidences after all? Or is there something more?

It’s quiet this morning, so early in the day the birds have barely started their chatter. So early that Gary Weeds, another old-timer like herself, isn’t even on the lake yet. Gary lives halfway up the mountain. He fishes every day he can, and since he retired in 1989, he can fish almost every day the weather lets him. He crunches down the one-lane dirt road that snakes up through the pines, rod and tackle box in his hand, and shoves off in his rowboat. Sits out on the lake half the day, the damn fool. One of these days she’s gonna catch Gary peeing over the edge of his boat. Man has a cast iron bladder, but even a cast iron bladder can’t stand against the ravages of time.

No one’s on the lake yet. She can hear the shallow waves slapping up against Gary’s boat where he moored at the end of the pier just as clear as if the boat and water were in the next room. Sound carries good out here, the air as crisp and clean as a new day should be.

Her hands ache this morning, the puffy joints of her fingers stiff and sore. “Storm blowing in,” was what her mother would say. Maybe she’d be right, but this morning the sky only has a hint of clouds far to the north.

 

Read the rest of the story here.

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This story is available for sale on Smashwords for a variety of e-readers.