Free Fiction Thursday – Lady of the Deep

Happy Thursday, everyone! One more day closer to Friday. Yay!

The last couple of weeks I’ve mentioned that my short-story collections are on sale this month for 50% off the cover price over at Smashwords. This week’s story is from my collection EIGHT FROM THE SILVER STATE, featuring eight stories of various genres all set in my home state of Nevada. I hope you enjoy “Lady of the Deep,” a nifty little horror story about the dark that lurks beneath the surface of a sunny, hot July day.

LADY OF THE DEEP

 Annie Reed

Published by Thunder Valley Press

Copyright 2011 by Annie Reed

Cover illustration Copyright Sly5800|Dreamstime.com

Cover layout by Thunder Valley Press

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 – Dead Things

Good morning, everyone! Hope your Thursday and your week are going well so far. Ready for a little free fiction?

A tension-filled drive down a rain-slicked coastal highway provides the setting for “Dead Things,” a story about a man who fantasized for years about killing his wife. He never quite had the courage to do the deed, but the lines between fantasy and reality blur when they reach an ugly stretch of dead marshland. What’s the old adage? Be careful what you wish for?

Enjoy!

DEAD THINGS

Copyright © 2012 Annie Reed

Published by Thunder Valley Press

Cover and layout Copyright © 2012 Thunder Valley Press

Cover art © 2012 Annie Reed

The damn trees gave Jerry the creeps.

Mired in mud along the ugliest stretch of Highway 101 known to man, the dead forest looked like the aftermath of a nuclear blast.  Stripped of needles and bark, the massive trunks lay strewn like ancient skeletons across marshy wetlands on the ocean side of the highway.  Gnarled branches reached like arthritic fingers toward the sodden Oregon sky.  Jerry had a sudden vision of dead things hauling themselves out of all that muck.  He gripped the wheel tighter and edged the accelerator down, pushing the car over seventy.

He could have predicted his wife’s reaction.

“Slow down,” she said, like he was some stupid little kid who needed scolding.  “You want to get us both killed?”

Well, maybe not the both of them.

The wipers beat double time against sheeting rain blown sideways from out over the sullen, gray ocean.  It had been raining since Coos Bay.  Even running the wipers on high, Jerry could barely see the damn road.  His shoulders ached from mile after mile, hour after long hour, of driving when he couldn’t really see.  It was a wonder he even noticed the damn trees through all the rain.

“Jerry!”  His wife’s voice was shrill, like it always got when he ignored her.

He eased up on the accelerator.  Doing seventy on wet pavement was just asking for trouble anyway.

The thought had no more than crossed his mind when he felt the rear tires begin to slide.

(read the rest of the story here)

Free Fiction Thursday – Iris and Ivy

Good morning, everyone!

I’m finding it hard to believe it’s the last Thursday in January. Where did this month go? Seriously. It seems like it was just Christmas, and now it’s almost Valentine’s Day. Sheesh!

For this last Thursday in January, I’m in the mood for a little ghost story. “Iris and Ivy” will be free to read for a week. Enjoy!

Iris and Ivy

Annie Reed

Published by Thunder Valley Press

Copyright 2011 by Annie Reed

Cover art copyright 2009 by Ivan Bliznetsov at iStockphoto.com

 

Iris leaned her weary back against the inside of the front door to her apartment.  She felt as well as heard the latch snap shut.

Home again, home again, whoop de doo.

She closed her eyes and concentrated.  In her mind’s eye, she saw a faint green glow surround the lock.  She kept concentrating until the glow spread to fill the crack between the door and the jamb, like a bit of glow-in-the-dark weather stripping.

Satisfied the bit of threshold magic would hold, she opened her eyes and pulled off the  wig with its long, brassy red curls.  Her scalp itched.  She scoured her fingers through her own blonde hair until the skin on her head tingled.

Her face itched, too.  She’d caked the makeup on pretty heavy tonight.  Foundation and blush.  False eyelashes so thick they looked like furry caterpillars crouching on her eyelids.  Enough steel grey and dark brown eye shadow to make her look like the sexiest nearly-dead person trolling the dockside bars. She couldn’t wait to wash all the crap off her face so she could get back to being herself.

Changelings shifted their appearance with hardly a second thought.  All they had to do was see you, or better yet touch you, and presto chango, say hello to a brand new version of yourself, original model no longer required.  Non-changelings like Iris had to work a little harder to become someone else.

“Well?” she said to the not-quite-empty apartment.  “What did you think of that one?”

(read the rest of the story here)