Free Fiction Thursday – Bluesman

Good morning, everyone!

This has been a pretty cool week so far.  Fiction River #1 – Unnatural Worlds – released this week with my brand new Diz & Dee story “Here, Kitty Kitty.”  I always love getting contributor copies.  There’s just something about holding the book in my hands — I don’t think I’ll ever get past the awesomeness of that. *g* If you’d like your very own copy, it’s available at Amazon in both ebook and paperback, and also from Ella Distribution.

I also have a new release from Thunder Valley Press.  “Bluesman” takes me back to the days when I actually played guitar– in front of an audience, no less — only thank goodness, I never had an experience like the blues guitarist in this story.  Enjoy!

Bluesman ebook cover small

Bluesman

 Annie Reed

Published by Thunder Valley Press

Copyright © 2013 by Annie Reed

Cover art Copyright © Depositphotos | InConcert

Johnny ripped the wrapping paper off what he knew had to be another lame-ass inspirational poster as his momma belted out the last off-key strains of “Happy Birthday.”

He’d put her call on speaker so he could hear her sing while he opened her present.  There for a minute, she’d actually made his cell phone rattle around the metal top of the battered TV tray he used for a table in the low-rent motel room where he lived.

She didn’t have the greatest singing voice, his momma.  She used to tell him he yanked whatever musicality she had right on out of her when he was born and took it all for himself.

What she lacked in skill, she more than made up for with enthusiasm and volume.  Every year she insisted on singing to him on his birthday whether they were together or not.  This year found him in Vegas trying to get a gig.  She was still back home in Mississippi.  As far as Johnny knew, she’d never left the delta, not in her entire life.

“Happy birthday, baby!” she said when she was done singing.  “How you like my present?”

For once, Johnny didn’t know what to say.

The posters his momma sent always had sayings like Soar With The Eagles or Believe In Yourself coupled with photographs of high mountain peaks covered in snow or beautiful, sandy beaches, the sun setting low over the water.

She was a great believer in the power of positive thinking.  Life had pretty much sucked the positive out of him, but every year he still thanked her for her gift and said something nice about it because she was his momma and she loved him, and it was only polite.

This year he couldn’t quite bring himself to say “Cool picture, momma,” or “You’re so good to me, thinking about me like that,” like he did usually did, even though he always threw the poster away as soon as he got off the phone.

“You got me dead rock stars?” he said instead.

(read the rest of the story here)

Free Fiction Thursday – Actual Darkness

Happy first Thursday in 2013, everyone!

I don’t know about you, but I had a very nice, mellow New Year’s Eve. In fact, I didn’t even notice the new year had arrived until about three minutes after midnight. At least I was awake this year. My family likes to tease me about the fact that most years I’m asleep by midnight even though I try not to be.

This week free fiction returns to Thursday with a science fiction story that’s definitely on the noir side. The title for “Actual Darkness” came from my friend Marcelle Dubé, a marvelous writer. Enjoy!

actual darkness ebook large

 

Actual Darkness

Annie Reed

Published by Thunder Valley Press

Copyright 2012 by Annie Reed

When the naked woman fell on the hood of Jefty’s cab, at first I thought she was one of them End Times partiers jumping off the top floor of The Wynn.

People can’t take it, you see. End of the world’s not just a Bible thumper story, not no more. People see that dull light in the sky that used to be the sun and they get scared. So the rich ones throw parties to make themselves feel better. The hangers-on and party girls, they show up too, and when they all get drunk enough and stoned enough they think they can fly, well, they up and step off the roof. Guess it eases the pain, but it sure makes a godawful mess for those of us trying to get by best we can.

Most times the sun’s still got enough juice left you can see those damn fools plummeting down soon enough to avoid ’em, but once it gets to be about four in the afternoon, even the headlights on the cab ain’t enough to cut through the gloom, not now that half the damn neon on The Strip’s all busted up and nobody cares to fix it.

Now, if the cab was mine, I wouldn’t be driving it all hours like Jefty does. He says driving a cab up and down The Strip’s all he knows how to do, and that even in end times people still got places to go. I guess that’s true enough, but the end times we’re living in robs people of their good sense, just like them partiers falling from the sky. Some people who get in Jefty’s cab don’t want to pay him for their ride, or they might think about taking Jefty’s cab for themselves. That’s where I come in. Me and my gun.

(read the rest of the story here)

Free Fiction Thursday – Strike Two

Good morning, everyone! Happy Thursday!

When I was a kid, I had a love/hate relationship with September. I was a bit of a television junkie, and September meant the start of the new season for my favorite television shows. That was a cause for celebration. The hate part? Well, September was also back-to-school time, and that I didn’t like so much.

September also means the start of the NFL pro-football season, a reason for hubby to celebrate, and the winding down of the season — playoffs and the World Series — for baseball fans. This week’s story features a hardcore baseball fan who also happens to be a pickpocket in Las Vegas. Only in Las Vegas, a thief has to be careful who he steals from, because strikes mean a whole different thing when you’re playing on the other side of the law.

I hope you enjoy “Strike Two.”

 

STRIKE TWO

Annie Reed

Copyright © 2011 Annie Reed

Published by Thunder Valley Press

Cover and layout Copyright © 2012 Thunder Valley Press

Lenny Masterson knew better than to ply his trade with kids in groups, but sometimes life threw a curve ball so sweet it would have been criminal not to take a swing.

These kids, three girls barely legal enough for the round of drinks lined up on the casino bar in front of them, never spared Lenny a second glance as he brushed by behind them.  Women usually didn’t.  Most men would mind being treated like that.  They’d run out and spend a fortune on hair plugs and a personal trainer, but blending in was part of what made Lightfinger Lenny so good at what he did.

The other part?  Practice.

Lenny’d lived in Las Vegas for a couple of years now.  The place was thick with tourists and southern California transplants who walked around The Strip all googly-eyed, trying to take in the sights and sounds all at once.  Most of them never gave a second thought to the scrawny guy who bumped into them by accident, especially not if Lenny gave them the glassy-eyed stare of a lifelong alcoholic on a serious bender.  When he was working, Lenny drank only enough to put the smell of alcohol on his breath.  He could fake the look of a true souse when he needed it.  He’d spent years of his life drowning his sorrows in a bottle.  All that practice had to come in handy sometime, right?

Thanks to the school of hard knocks, Lenny had two rules he never broke.

One: No working kids in packs.

(read the rest of the story here)

 

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 – Strike Two

Happy Thursday, everyone!

This week I’m celebrating the release of my newest story collection, EIGHT FROM THE SILVER STATE, which is available as an e-book from Amazon and Smashwords, and soon to be available in print. The eight stories in the collection, including this week’s free fiction Thursday Story “Strike Two,” are all set in my home state, Nevada. Enjoy!

STRIKE TWO

Annie Reed

Published by Thunder Valley Press
Copyright 2011 by Annie Reed
Cover art copyright Sly5800|Dreamstime.com
Cover layout by Thunder Valley Press

Lenny Masterson knew better than to ply his trade with kids in groups, but sometimes life threw a curve ball so sweet it would have been criminal not to take a swing.

These kids, three girls barely legal enough for the round of drinks lined up on the casino bar in front of them, never spared Lenny a second glance as he brushed by behind them.  Women usually didn’t.  Most men would mind being treated like that.  They’d run out and spend a fortune on hair plugs and a personal trainer, but blending in was part of what made Lightfinger Lenny so good at what he did.

The other part?  Practice.

Lenny’d lived in Las Vegas for a couple of years now.  The place was thick with tourists and southern California transplants who walked around The Strip all googly-eyed, trying to take in the sights and sounds all at once.  Most of them never gave a second thought to the scrawny guy who bumped into them by accident, especially not if Lenny gave them the glassy-eyed stare of a lifelong alcoholic on a serious bender.  When he was working, Lenny drank only enough to put the smell of alcohol on his breath.  He could fake the look of a true souse when he needed it.  He’d spent years of his life drowning his sorrows in a bottle.  All that practice had to come in handy sometime, right?

Thanks to the school of hard knocks, Lenny had two rules he never broke.

One: No working kids in packs.

A kid by herself, her attention on her cell phone, why not?  Lenny would be long gone by the time she ended her call, and even longer gone by the time she noticed her wallet was missing.  But groups of kids were dangerous.  Gangs especially — nobody messed with the gangs that were taking over more and more territory outside The Strip.  Those kids would pull a knife on you for no reason, much less if they caught someone like Lenny in a middle of a job.  Lenny steered clear of any kid wearing gang colors or sporting a dead-eyed stare.  Lenny knew his limits.  He was no fighter.  He’d cut his losses and turn tail if he had to in order to save his skin.

Rule number two grew out of rule number one:  Steer way clear of anybody connected.

That meant stay away from anybody who was anybody who mattered to one of the guys in charge.  The city fathers might want the tourists to believe that Vegas was all cleaned up these days and the wiseguys were all gone.  But guys like Lenny who worked the shady side of The Strip knew that while the old-style wiseguys might be gone, they’d been replaced by guys who made the old school mobsters look like Tinkerbelle.

The tall kid at the bar, the brunette, she had one of those designer bags that cost more than a week’s rent at the no-tell motel Lenny currently called home.  That particular brand of purse was Lenny’s favorite, not for any esthetic value, but because the thing was basically one big, open bargain bin ripe for the picking.

(read the rest of the story here)

Free Fiction Thursday – Ella and Mo

Happy Thursday!

Boy, has this been a crazy busy week. But the new season of The Big Bang Theory starts tonight (yay!!) and I have free fiction for you, so things can’t be all bad, right?

This week’s story is ELLA AND MO, another story in my zombie apocalypse series.  Enjoy!

Ella and Mo

Annie Reed

Published by Thunder Valley Press

Copyright 2011 by Annie Reed

Cover Art Copyright Igor Shmatov | Dreamstime.com

  

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.

(read the rest of the story here)