Free Fiction Thursday – A Most Unserious Dragon

Happy Thursday, everyone!

Thunder Valley Press has been doing some fun things with my short fiction.  In addition to publishing the five-story collections which I’ve been featuring for the past few weeks, they’ve been pairing up my stories kinda like the old Ace Doubles, only with short fiction. Cool, right?

This week’s Free Fiction Thursday story is from one of my first short-fiction doubles. “A Most Unserious Dragon” is one of two stories I’ve written about Mordived, a dragon who doesn’t want to slay knights and eat virgins — he’d rather do stand-up. Thanks to the fine folks at Thunder Valley Press, when you buy either “A Most Unserious Dragon” or my follow-up story about Mordived — “A Most Romantic Dragon” — from Amazon, the iBookstore, or Smashwords, you get both stories at once. Nifty!

A whole bunch of my short stories are now available as doubles, and I’m told there will be more to come. For now though, I hope you enjoy “A Most Unserious Dragon.”

 

A Most Unserious Dragon

Annie Reed

Copyright © 2011 Annie Reed

Published by Thunder Valley Press

Cover and layout Copyright © 2011 Thunder Valley Press

Cover art Copyright 10-19-10 © julien Tromeur

Dragons, or so Mordived’s father told him often and most sternly, were very serious creatures.

“Our birthright is to rule the land,” Mordived’s father said, his chest puffed out proudly and little wisps of steam escaping his nostrils.  “Ruling is serious business.  Men believe they rule the kingdoms, but true power belongs to the dragons.  Slaying knights is our duty, and eating virgins our reward for such serious business.”

“But I don’t want to slay knights and eat virgins,” Mordived said.

Even eating cattle gave Mordived indigestion.  He could only imagine what eating an entire virgin would do to his digestive system.  As for knights, all that shiny silver armor gave him headaches.

Mordived’s father stomped his foot so hard that the ground trembled and the walls of their cave shook.  Little rocks and frightened bats tumbled from the ceiling, the bats fluttering back deeper into the cave and the rocks pelting Mordived and his father on their wings.  His father didn’t seem to notice.

Undaunted, Mordived said, “I want to be a comedian.  Not a fighter.”  Nor an eater of virgins.  Mordived would much rather make the virgins laugh.

Mordived’s father reared back his head, drew in a great breath, and let loose with a stream of fire that toasted what few tree roots dared to grow through the ceiling of their cave.

“Enough!” Mordived’s father roared when the fire burned itself out.  “No son of mine will ever be anything but a serious dragon!”

Mordived slunk away, not wanting to be mistaken for a tree root.

His older brother was a most serious dragon.  Gilgamule had slain numerous lesser knights, although he had not yet eaten his first virgin.  Gilgamule was nearly half the size of their father, with a fine crest of spikes down the ridge of his back and a nice purple hue to his streams of fire.  He would be leaving soon to go rule his own kingdom far from the land ruled by their father, for such was the way of serious dragons.

Mordived didn’t want his older brother to leave.  While Gilgamule might be a serious dragon, he was also someone Mordived could talk to.

“What’s wrong with not wanting to slay people?” Mordived asked his older brother.  “But rather, wanting to make them laugh?”

“Why not make them laugh while you slay them?” Gilgamule replied.  “It would certainly make their deaths more enjoyable.”

Mordived wondered sometimes if his older brother truly understood the concept of comedy.

(read the rest of the story here)

Free Fiction Thursday – A Most Romantic Dragon

Good morning, everyone! How’s Thursday treating you so far?

Before we get to this week’s story, I’d like to take a minute to congratulate Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith on receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award from the prestigious Willamette Writers organization. I can’t think of two people who deserve an award like this more than Kris and Dean. Like the countless numbers of writers they’ve taught and assisted throughout the years, I owe my writing career to them. Don’t get me wrong — I was a writer before I met them. But thanks to all the invaluable things they’ve taught me and continue to teach me, not to mention their friendship, I’m not only a better writer, I’m a professional writer. Thank you, guys! And a great big ol’ WooHoo!!! from this neck of the woods!

So you might be asking yourself, what exactly do I get from Kris and Dean and their wonderful workshops (which I can’t recommend highly enough)? Well, this week’s story, for one thing. I wrote “A Most Romantic Dragon”  in response to an assignment at this year’s anthology workshop. I hope you enjoy the further adventures of Mordived, the unserious dragon, as he finds unexpected love.

A Most Romantic Dragon

Annie Reed

Copyright © 2012 Annie Reed

Published by Thunder Valley Press

Cover art Copyright 10-12-10 © julien Tromeur

When love came to Mordived the dragon, it came as all things did—in a most unconventional way.

He hadn’t expected to fall in love, you see.  Quite content to live in the land ruled by his elder brother Gilgamule, Mordived spent his days soaring over his brother’s land while he perfected his patented “my wing’s broken” tuck-and-roll, first with his right wing and then his left, all the while keeping an eye out for errant knights determined to slay his more conventional brother.  When Mordived got hungry, as he often did while practicing the aerial portion of his slapstick routine, he chased wild pigs through the woods or goats up the craggy side of a mountain.  Mordived left the peasants’ sheep and cattle alone.  Not only did he think it rude to roast meat that didn’t belong to him, the wooly coats of the sheep scratched his throat going down and cattle gave him indigestion.

On one such afternoon flight, Mordived caught sight of something quite unexpected—a dragon who wasn’t his brother.

Mordived was so surprised he nearly failed to untuck his tucked right wing, which would have led to a nasty encounter with a rather tall and pointy pine tree.  While Mordived didn’t mind taking the occasional pratfall—it was, after all, his desire to make virgins laugh rather than eat them that made Mordived the black sheep, so to speak, of his family—a pratfall took timing and preparation, and Mordived was decidedly unprepared.

He was equally unprepared to discover that the unexpected dragon was a girl.

Mordived’s entire experience with dragons of the female persuasion was limited to the family he’d left behind when he moved in with his brother.  Mordived’s mother had never quite known what to make of her unconventional son.  While she laughed—politely, of course; little puffs of smoke barely escaped her nostrils—at his early attempts at humor, she also frightened him.  Perhaps it was her prized collection of knights’ helmets, complete with the skulls of the unfortunate knights still inside, that made Mordived so nervous.  It didn’t help that whenever he got into trouble, she would stare pointedly at those helmets and tap the prodigious claws of one foot, as if to say, “Don’t try my patience too much, strange child of mine.”

His younger sisters had been of no use at all in teaching Mordived how to act around girls.  They simply called him “Strange Child” and tried to breathe fire at him.  Mostly they just set fire to the tree roots that dangled from the ceiling of their cave, for which Mordived took the blame.  Such was the lot in life for an unconventional dragon with five bratty little sisters.

But this new dragon wasn’t like any of his sisters.  She was long of tail and delicate of wing, with a fine ridge of emerald green spines along her back and the largest golden eyes Mordived had ever seen.  One look, and he was smitten.

(read the rest of the story here)

Free Fiction Thursday – The Galaxy’s Most Wanted

Happy Thursday, Internets!

How about a funny little science fiction story for this first Thursday in September? And how did it get to be September already? Sheesh!

The Galaxy’s Most Wanted

Annie Reed

Published by Thunder Valley Press

Copyright 2010 Annie Reed

Cover design copyright 2010 Katie Reed

 

Last time I counted, I had two hundred fifty-seven wives and four hundred thirteen children.  Five hundred forty-one nieces and nephews.  A couple of hundred pistol-toting fathers-in-law.  And a dog.

I’m also wanted on seventeen planets in sixteen different systems.  That’s not counting all the outstanding interstellar warrants against me for child abandonment, failure to support, and back alimony.

I don’t look like much, at least not anymore.  At least not compared to the pretty woman who brought me out tonight.  Yeah, that’s her.  The brunette.  Curves in all the right places.  She’s sitting on the bar stool to my right, flirting with the hunky bartender, he of the bulging muscles and piercing blue eyes, full head of blond hair and easy smile.  If I had looked like Mr. What Can I Get A Pretty Little Thing Like You To Drink Tonight, I wouldn’t be in this mess.  Guys like me, we have to try harder.

That’s how the whole thing started.  I was just trying to get women to pay attention to me.  A little lie here, an embellishment there.  What’s the harm?  So I don’t actually own a star cruiser (I am — or was — the third assistant to the second shift lead maintenance tech on the refuse recycling scow that ran between Omicron and Zeta Sawh, but who’s quibbling?) and I’m not the man who ran a high quality bootlegging outfit on New Marris Prime (although I never said no to a decent alcoholic beverage), but a guy like me’s got to have a little edge, you know?  Something to get a girl to look past the receding hairline and paunchy belly, and the fact that I’m a little short.  Okay, a lot short.  But I do come up to at least shoulder height on most humanoid women.  Not all that bad from my perspective, if you think about it.

That’s my problem, you see.  I’ve just always liked women more than they liked me. 

Even the ones I shouldn’t have.  Like the pretty brunette on the bar stool next to me.

(read the rest of the story here)