Free Fiction Thursday – Lady of the Deep

Happy beginning of summer, everyone!

I don’t know how things are in your neck of the woods, but here in Northern Nevada it’s supposed to be hot this weekend.  Like record-setting hot.  Like hang out by a cool lake in the shade with a tall glass of iced tea and a good book, or maybe just park yourself next to the air conditioning.  With a good book.  Are you sensing a pattern? 😉

This week’s story features a hot day, a lake, and a legend that’s about to turn one guy’s fun day in the sun into something dark and dangerous.  I hope you enjoy “Lady of the Deep.”

Lady deep ebook 2013 small

 

Lady of the Deep

 Annie Reed

Copyright © 2011, 2013 by Annie Reed

A sandcastle competition.  At a man-made lake where the sand had to be carted in on dump trucks because the lake used to be a rock quarry, and the last thing those beaches had was any natural sand.  Greg had never heard of anything sillier, except maybe the fact that Sylvia wanted to watch the competition.

“It’s a hundred degrees out there,” Greg said.  “And you want to stand around and watch grown men play in the dirt.”

The two of them were sitting in Sylvia’s battered old Honda.  The parking lot at the public entrance to the lake was only half-full even though it was the second Saturday in July and the swimming was free, which meant the place should have been swarming with kids.  Even little kids had sense enough to stay inside out of the sun.

“Aw, c’mon,” Sylvia said.  “It’ll be fun.  We have sunscreen and an umbrella and a blanket in the back, and I bet they’re selling beer and hotdogs.  It’ll be just like a picnic.  Didn’t you ever go on a picnic?”

“No.”

Well, that wasn’t quite true, but Sylvia wouldn’t know that.  They’d only been dating a few weeks.  Sylvia was great in bed and easy to look at, even if she wasn’t exactly what Greg would call pretty, but she had this thing about being outdoors.  She liked to just sit outside and watch the world go by.  Sometimes she liked to go on walks.  Like on the concrete path around the outside of this particular lake.

“You need the fresh air,” she said.

Okay, sure, he worked in a cubicle farm all day, and left on his own, he’d play video games all night, but was that any reason to make him bake in the sun on the hottest day of the year?

“And if you’ve never been on a picnic…”  Sylvia let the thought hang in the air, like she wanted him to finish it.  When he didn’t, she said, “Well, we really need to go on a little picnic of our own, then.”  She leaned over the center console and kissed him.  “You can rub sunscreen all over me.”  She arched one eyebrow and kissed him again.  “And I can rub sunscreen all over you.”

Greg had a vision of Sylvia naked.  She did look pretty good with her clothes off.  And rubbing on sunscreen was a legitimate way of touching her in public without anyone raising a fuss.

“Then you can rub me more, later,” she said, her mouth up by his ear.

(read the rest of the story here)

Free Fiction Thursday – Famous

Happy Thursday, everyone!

Lots of fun stuff this week.  If you look over at the sidebar under New Releases, I’m happy to announce that the next issue of Fiction River–How to Save the World–is out, and it includes my story “The Shape of a Name.”  Cool beans!  How to Save the World is available in ebook and will be available soon in paperback and audio formats as well.  You can also subscribe to the entire Fiction River series, which is a heck of a good deal.

I also just got done listening to the audio of Fiction River #1: Unnatural Worlds.  Boy, was that fun or what?  The book was narrated by a full cast, who all did a great job.  It’s the first time I’ve heard a story of mine narrated.  Jane Kennedy did a wonderful job with my Diz & Dee story “Here, Kitty Kitty.”

This week’s free fiction is my dark fantasy story “Famous,” which has a brand spanking new cover as well as a paperback edition that’s currently on sale at Amazon.  Enjoy!

Famous cover smallweb

Famous

 Annie Reed

Published by Thunder Valley Press

Copyright © 2011, 2013 by Annie Reed

The cab pulled into the loading zone in front of Kitty’s Kool Kat Lounge.  The pink neon sign over the entrance promised live nude dancers.  Jeremy doubted they’d be totally nude, but that wasn’t what he was really here for.

“Seventeen-fifty,” said the cab driver.

The windshield wipers slapped a steady beat against the late night rain off the Bay as Jeremy dug out two tens from his wallet.  Enough for a tip, not enough to make an impression on the driver.  Not enough for the man to remember he was here.

Jeremy passed the money through the slot in the clear plastic shield between the driver and the back seat.  “Keep the change,” he said.

The driver grunted as he took the cash.  He was a bald guy twice Jeremy’s age.  He had a scar bisecting one eyebrow, and the kind of muscular neck Jeremy had seen on guys who worked out but never really bulked up.  The driver’s eyes were bloodshot, and he had enough scruff on his lined face to make him look like Bruce Willis after a three-day bender.  He’d driven as if he was sober, and he’d taken Jeremy to the kind of place he wanted to go.  Beyond that, Jeremy didn’t care if the guy was drunk off his ass.  In fact, that might make things easier in the long run.

“Let me give you a piece of advice,” the driver said.

Jeremy was about ready to make a run from the cab to the club.  The driver hadn’t said a word to him since Jeremy caught the cab downtown and asked the guy to take him to a nightclub, any nightclub, in The Shadows.  Jeremy kept his hand on the door handle but didn’t open the door.

“I give you a tip and now you talk to me?” he said.

The driver looked at him in the rear view mirror.  “Think you’re a smart guy, don’t you?”

Jeremy tensed.  “What did you say to me?”

(read the rest of the story here)

Free Fiction Thursday – Uncle Charlie’s Toy Store

Good morning, everyone!

Here in the States, we’re coming up on a three-day weekend. I love three-day weekends. They usually go by too fast and I always feel like I didn’t get enough done, but that’s just the nature of the beast. I still look forward to that extra day when I can sleep in a little, not have to dress for the day job, and basically do what I’d like to do around the house. This weekend I have a cool new project I’m working on, plus there will be sushi on Saturday with my daughter and maybe going to see Snow White and the Huntsman. Good weekend plans, I do believe.

The little boy in this week’s story has something he looks forward to as well: a once-a-month trip to pick out a favorite toy. Only this month’s trip doesn’t turn out exactly as planned. I hope you enjoy “Uncle Charlie’s Toy Store.”

Uncle Charlie’s Toy Store

Annie Reed

Published by Thunder Valley Press

Copyright 2011 by Annie Reed

Uncle Charlie’s Toy Store was Daniel Preston’s favorite place in the whole wide world.  Once a month, if he had been a good boy, Daniel’s mom took him on the bus downtown to Uncle Charlie’s and let him pick out one new toy.  He had been a very good boy this month, and Daniel knew exactly what he wanted: a G.I. Joe.

Daniel’s best friend Ned had his own G.I. Joe.  Daniel tried not to be jealous every time Ned played soldier with Joe, but it was hard when he really, really wanted one of his own.

From the outside Uncle Charlie’s looked like any other store. It had a red brick store front with big display windows, and a door with a sign hung in the glass that could be turned to read either “Open” or “Sorry, We’re Closed.”  When his mom opened the door to Uncle Charlie’s, a little brass bell that hung over the door jangled to welcome Daniel inside.  Daniel loved the sound of that bell because every time he heard it, he knew he’d be walking into a store made just for kids.

Uncle Charlie’s had just about every toy a kid could hope to have.  Rows and rows of wooden shelves with model ships and planes; model railroad cars and little trees and fences and plastic people for when you played railroad; plastic horses of every shape and size; stuffed bears and a stuffed monkey that played cymbals when you wound him up; packages of little green army men; marbles and jacks and jump ropes and kites and roller skates.

And most important, Uncle Charlie’s had G.I. Joe.

(read the rest of the story here)

Free Fiction Thursday – Changeling

Good morning, everyone! Happy Thursday the 12th, one day before Friday the 13th. Anyone going to celebrate the 13th with a horror movie marathon, or perhaps by going to see Joss Whedon’s new movie, The Cabin in the Woods? Me, I’m holding out for The Avengers. *g*

I have a new five-story collection available at Amazon and Smashwords, and soon to be available at Barnes & Noble and the iBookstore. TALES FROM THE SHADOWS collects five of my dark fantasy stories set in the Pacific Northwest city of Moretown Bay. This week’s story is “Changeling,” the lead story in the collection. Enjoy!

CHANGELING

Annie Reed

Copyright © 2012 Annie Reed

Published by Thunder Valley Press

Cover art Copyright © Bblood|Dreamstime.com

Cover and layout Copyright © 2012 Thunder Valley Press

The changeling reclined on her narrow bed in the squalid little room, rumpled sheets testifying to a busy night already spent on her back.  Features flowed across her face, flesh moving like liquid to thin her lips, widen her brows, sharpen her chin and the delicate shells of her ears.

“This what you want, sugar?” she asked.  Her waist narrowed, lean muscle flattening her naked belly.  Her breasts shrank from the porn queen size they’d been when Rory picked her up on the street to something he could cup in his hand. “This what you’re after?”

Most normals couldn’t watch a changeling shift.  Couldn’t witness human features rearrange themselves and know, deep in the gut, it wasn’t an illusion.  The wrongness of it hurt the eyes, made the stomach heave and the pavement tilt underfoot.  Rory didn’t have a choice.  He had to watch.

The changeling hadn’t turned on the overhead light when she let Rory in her room.  Enough watery streetlight filtered through the sheets of rain beating against the window for Rory to see her try to become what he wanted.  What he’d told her was his fantasy.

A half-full World’s Best Mom mug sat on the bedside table next to an overflowing ashtray. Lipstick smears circled the rim.  In the dim light, the lipstick looked black.  Judging by the boozy smell, the mug hadn’t seen coffee in a long time.

“You got a kid?” he asked.  No toys littered the room, but that didn’t mean anything. Not every mother was the world’s best.

She saw him looking at the mug and laughed.  “Goodwill, sugar.  Got it cheap. Someone’s momma didn’t want it no more.”  She took a drink.  “You want some?  I got a clean glass and a bottle in the closet.  Five bucks extra.”

The place stank of sweat and cigarettes and sex. “No.” A drink wasn’t what he was after. He leaned one shoulder against the wall at the foot of her bed.  Unzipped his coat.  She didn’t have a kid.  He couldn’t stay if she had a kid.  He allowed himself to hope.  Maybe she’d be the one.

(read the rest of the story here)