Free Fiction Thursday – Ella and Mo

Good morning, everyone!

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of The Walking Dead. Yesterday I got a peek at Entertainment Weekly’s four covers for The Walking Dead’s third season. Wow! I can’t wait.

Since I’m in a walking dead frame of mind, here’s one of my own zombie apocalypse stories about one tough little girl. I hope you enjoy “Ella and Mo.”

 

ELLA AND MO

Annie Reed

Copyright © 2011 Annie Reed

Published by Thunder Valley Press

Cover art Copyright Igor Shmatov | Dreamstime.com

Cover and layout Copyright © 2011 Thunder Valley Press

I met Ella when me and Jimbo come outta one of them flat-top houses a couple of miles off The Strip.  Jimbo had his arms full of stupid shit he thought he could sell.  Me?  I had a couple of cans of tuna somebody left behind because they was dented.  These days, tuna’s worth more in Vegas than blurays and TVs and jewelry, but there was no telling Jimbo that.

Ella got the drop on us ’cause we wasn’t paying close enough attention.  See, those sick fuckers that want to eat everybody don’t come out much during the day.  Too damn hot in Vegas for ’em.  Too damn hot in Vegas for everybody now that the power don’t work right half the time and the AC ain’t on, but I’d rather be hot than hungry, and Jimbo, he’d rather be rich than anything.  So we always did our business during the day when we didn’t have to worry so much about something that used to be alive wanting to eat us.

I don’t know what Ella was doing that day.  She never said and I never asked.  All I know is that one minute me and Jimbo was walking past some old lady’s garden gnome sitting as pretty as you please in the middle of a stand of  cactus in her front yard, feeling pretty proud of ourselves even though the sweat was pouring off us, and the next minute I see this kid with a gun standing next to my car.

She never said a word before she pointed her gun at Jimbo and blew a hole clean through his left shoulder.  Jimbo screamed, and her next shot hit him in that open maw of his mouth.  He quit screaming then and fell to the sidewalk like a sack of raw meat, smack on top of all that worthless shit he’d been carrying.  That was it for Jimbo.

Then that little kid pointed her gun at me.

“I want your car,” she said.

Anybody else might have yelled or run or laughed at her.  ‘Cept for that gun, she wasn’t much to look at.  Even before the creepers—that’s what Jimbo called those sick, dead fuckers—turned the world upside down, nobody took a little kid wearing a Red Riding hood cape and carrying a gun half as big as she was seriously.  Me?  I’m a survivor.  My old Mustang and me might have logged a lot of miles together, but a car’s just a car, so I said, “Yes, ma’am,” and held out the keys.

(read the rest of the story here)

Free Fiction Thursday – Harley and the Alien

Happy Thursday, everyone!

It looks like my website is being cranky this morning when it comes to letting me post pictures, so for right now I can’t show you the nifty cover for my five-story collection ALL FALL DOWN. Bummer! But I can still post free fiction on this sunny, hot, first Thursday morning in August. *g* EDIT:  Yay!  The cover’s available now.  Thank goodness for technology that resolves itself. 😉

This week’s story is about a time traveler who never expected he’d be in any time zone long enough to have a family.  Funny how life turns out. But what happens when history finally catches up to him? I hope you enjoy “Harley and the Alien.”

Harley and the Alien

Annie Reed

Copyright © 2011 Annie Reed

 Published by Thunder Valley Press

Cover art Copyright © Rejnkarlgren|Dreamstime.com

Cover and layout Copyright © 2012 Thunder Valley Press

Harley was named after the motorcycle her momma won from her daddy in a game of chicken.

Until she was ten, Harley always thought that meant her momma and her daddy shuffle-danced around each other, flapping their arms like they were wings and making bwack-bwa-bwa-bwack! sounds at each other, until her daddy fell down and her momma got to crow out a victory caw.  Harley got somewhat disillusioned—and a little terrified, to be honest—when I told her playing chicken meant her momma rode a borrowed motorcycle straight at her daddy while each of them pointed ten foot hollow pipes they’d scavenged from a junk yard at each other, like they were knights riding on horses or something.

Well, the story goes that Harley’s momma knocked her daddy clean off his hog, like to put that metal pipe right through his shoulder, and then muscled his motorcycle up off the pavement and rode on out of town before his boys could catch her.

By then it was too late to undo the lovin’ that would eventually become Harley.  Even for a woman as tough as Harley’s momma, being alone with a baby on the way wasn’t easy in those days, so Harley’s momma—Maxine was her name—went home to live with her daddy, Big George.

That’s me.  Big George Wannamaker, and I’m an alien.

(read the rest of the story here)

Free Fiction Thursday – Night Passage

Good morning, everyone! How’s your Thursday going so far?

This morning it’s cool and rainy here in Northern Nevada. According to the snippet of news I heard on the radio while I was trying to wake up, chains or snow tires are required on the mountain pass between here and Sacramento. Spring in Nevada. Never know what you’re going to get.

Just like the characters in this week’s story. “Night Passage” is about a woman and her rebellious teenage daughter traveling from Las Vegas to Reno at night to avoid the heat when car troubles strand them alone in the desert. “Night Passage” is mainstream women’s fiction, and will be available to read for free for a week. Enjoy!

 

Night Passage

Annie Reed

Published by Thunder Valley Press

Copyright 2011 by Annie Reed

The road stretched in front of Joleen, a dark ribbon in the darker night.  Something glittered on the asphalt ahead of her, but she couldn’t tell if her car’s headlights reflected off pieces of quartz or broken glass.  Either one was a possibility.  Even this far out in the desert broken beer bottles littered the sides of the road, twentieth century man’s way of marking his territory.

Casey sat in the passenger seat pretending total interest in the ghostly shapes flying by her window.  Joleen could tell her daughter still was angry by the tense set of her shoulders and the way she kept her face turned away from her mother.

Joleen steered around the mess on the road as best she could on the narrow, two-lane highway.  She hoped it wasn’t glass.  The tires on her car were old and worn, and she was afraid glass would go right through them.  The bright lights of Las Vegas had faded to a dim glow on the horizon far behind her and Goldfield was at least 40 miles to the north.   She didn’t want to have to stop out here in the middle of nowhere to fix a flat, especially not at night.  Except for gas, she didn’t want to stop at all until she got to Reno.

“Are you hungry?” Joleen asked just for something to say.

Casey didn’t respond.   No one could do the silent treatment better than an angry thirteen-year-old girl.

“Because if you are, we’ve got snacks and sodas in the back seat,” Joleen said, trying again.

A sigh.  Not much, but it was a chink in the armor, something Joleen could work with.  It would be a long, long drive if Casey decided to stay angry the whole way.

Maybe a little music would help.

“Why don’t you find something to listen to?” Joleen fumbled for the tape case without taking her eyes off the road.  “We’re can’t pick up a station out here, and if you’re not going to talk to me, then I need something to keep me company.”

This time she got the rolled-eyes, oh Mom look, but her daughter took the tapes and rummaged through them.

“I know you didn’t want to move,” Joleen said.

“Look, Mom, I don’t want to talk about it,” Casey said, slamming the tape case shut.  “Like my opinion would mean anything anyway,” she added under her breath.  Thirteen-year-olds always added something under their breath, that first sign of future rebellion.

Joleen took a deep breath.  “So what do you want to talk about?”

Casey popped the tape in and turned back toward the window.  “Nothing,” she said.  “I don’t want to talk about anything, okay?”

So much for that plan.

Rock music blared from the speakers.  Obviously one of Casey’s tapes.  Joleen didn’t know the name of the band, but at least it might keep her awake.  If she didn’t go deaf first.

Thirty seconds later, Joleen reached for the volume control.  She actually liked most rock music but that last guitar riff made her fillings vibrate.  She glanced down at the tape deck to make sure she found the right knob.

“Mom, look out!”

Joleen jerked her eyes back to the road.  She caught a glimpse of a large animal right in front of them.  Heart in her throat, Joleen spun the wheel hard to the left and slammed on the brakes.  Not good.  She made it past the cow — she could see now that it was a cow — without hitting it, but the car started to skid, tires squealing.  The rear end of the car slid around toward the front, threatening to send them into a spin.  Joleen turned the wheel back to the right and took her foot off the brake, praying that the car would right itself.

That’s when the tire blew.

(read the rest of the story here)

Free Fiction Thursday – One Sun, No Waiting

Happy Thursday, internets!

To celebrate this day before Friday, how about a science fiction story?  “One Sun, No Waiting” is one of the five stories included in my short story collection THE FOREVER SOLDIER AND OTHER FUTURE TALES. “One Sun, No Waiting” will be available for free for a week. Enjoy!

One Sun, No Waiting

Annie Reed

Published by Thunder Valley Press

Copyright 2011 Annie Reed

 

An old motel man like me, I appreciate good tenants.  The ones who don’t steal my towels, don’t bust up the television or spill beer on the bed, who don’t burn holes in the carpet and don’t forget to turn the lights off when they leave — they’re welcome at The Forty Winks any time.  I always have room for ’em.

Better make it soon, though.  I’m hoping differently, but I don’t expect I’ll be around much longer.  I don’t expect many of us will be around.

See, as it turns out, celestial bodies have tenants too.  Who would have thought the sun was hollow and something lived inside?  Sounds like a bunch of hooey, don’t it?  I might have said the same thing just a couple months ago, but these days it’s pretty damn real.

Scientists concocted a fancy-pants name for it, but as far as I’m concerned all it means is that the sun turned out to be just temporary living space for folks on their way to someplace else, just like my motel.  The last tenants in our neck of the universe pulled a damn good trick on us.  Turned out the lights when they left.  Just switched the sun off, like it was the Lord’s own light bulb.

The good news — if there is any — is that the sun’s on a dimmer switch.  Scientists have a fancy-pants explanation for that, too, but I don’t care much about scientific stuff.  All it means to me is that the sun loses a little more light every day until pretty soon I guess there won’t be any light left at all.

Right now my watch says it’s eleven in the morning, but outside it looks like it’s twilight.  I used to think twilight was the prettiest time of day here in the Nevada desert.  Everything painted a cool lavender-blue, the heat of the day just starting to bleed off into the night air, the sharp tang of sagebrush and the dry dirt smell of dusty sand tickling my nose.

It’s not so pretty when it’s twilight all the time, not when you know pretty soon the night won’t ever go away.

“The damnedest thing, Jimmy,” Maude tells me every day.  “Ain’t it just the damnedest thing.”

(read the rest of the story here)