A Flash Fiction Fragment for Friday Flash Fics, by Jeff Baker (Feb. 22, 2019.)

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The Shadow From Khem

By Jeff Baker

 

My studies at University having finished, and thus having been given a clean bill of health from academia, I went into the wide world to seek my fortune. If I had known that I would have encountered Madame Pyrrah I would have stayed home.

She seemed exotic and mysterious when I first saw her at the museum. She seemed to know as much about the artifacts as I did and she mentioned the Pharaoh Tutankhamun, (Mind you this was in the year 1897.) I complimented her on her curiosity and introduced myself as Arthur Ward, “Artie” to my friends. I encountered her several times and that was when the dreams started.

They always involved her.

In one, I saw here on the prairie, kneeling and summoning a whirlwind. In another, I saw a vast, starlit expanse of desert with a lithe figure walking towards me. Knowing what I know now, I must assume the dreams were a portent of some kind, for I always awoke in a cold sweat, and to the certainty that for a moment there was someone else in the room with me…

 

Author’s Note: Only got around to writing a beginning this week, inspired by my recent reading of some of Sax Rohmer’s Egyptian-themed horror stories.

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J. Scott Coatsworth’s new book, Ithani releases today!

COVER - Ithani

My friend J. Scott Coatsworth’s new book “Ithani” is releasing today! It’s the last (I think) book in a trilogy and it isn’t his only trilogy! Science fiction in a Heinlein/Clarke mode with LGBT characters. Ordering links are included!

Time is running out.

 

After saving the world twice, Xander, Jameson and friends plunge headlong into a new crisis. The ithani–the aliens who broke the world–have reawakened from their hundred millennia-long slumber. When Xander and Jameson disappear in a flash, an already fractured world is thrown into chaos.

 

The ithani plans, laid a hundred thousand years before, are finally coming to pass, and they threaten all life on Erro. Venin and Alix go on a desperate search for their missing and find more than they bargained for. And Quince, Robin and Jessa discover a secret as old as the skythane themselves.

 

Will alien technology, unexpected help from the distant past, destiny and some good old-fashioned firepower be enough to defeat an enemy with the power to split a world? The final battle of the epic science fiction adventure that began in Skythane will decide the fate of lander and skythane alike. And in the north, the ithani rise….

Oberon is one of the natural wonders of the Universe – a half planet that shouldn’t exist, at least according to the laws of nature.

 

Oberon is also a nest of secrets. The Skythane – the first human colonists of Oberon – keep some of them, and so do the “landers” who work for OberCorp, the company that is exploiting the planet for its natural resources.

 

Now Oberon is in danger. A solar flare threatens to end most life on the planet, but an ancient prophecy leads Quince, Xander, Jameson and a small group of landers and skythane on an epic quest to save the planet – and unravel its secrets along the way.

 

Other challenges await on the horizon, for the world, and its inhabitants. Will they find the answers they need, and their way to each other, in time?

Here’s An Excerpt:

Venin stood under the dome of the chapel, the waters of the Orn rushing past the small island to crash over the edge of the crater rim, where they fell a thousand meters to the broken city of Errian below.

The Erriani chapel was different from what he was used to back home. The Gaelani chapel in Gaelan had sat at the top of a tall pillar of stone, open to the night sky, a wide space of grass and trees that intertwined in a natural dome through which moonlight filtered down to make dappled shadows on the ground.

This chapel, instead, was a wonder of streaming sunlight, the columns a polished eggshell marble with glimmering seams of gold. Red creeper vines climbed up the columns, festooned with clusters of yellow flowers that gave off a sweet scent.

Both were bright and airy, but the Erriani chapel lay under a dome supported by fluted marble columns, a painted arch of daytime sky and the rose-colored sun blazing overhead.

The last time he’d gone to chapel had been with Tazim, before his untimely death.

Long before the troubles that roiled the world now.

Something drew him back. A need to reconnect with his past. To bridge the gap between then and now, between who he was and who he had become. Taz would have liked this place.

The chapel here had survived the attack, while much of Errian had not. The city below was a jumble of broken corrinder, the multistory plants that were the main building stock for the city. They would grow again, but the sight of the city’s beautiful white towers laid low struck him to the core.

So had Gaelan looked, after the flood.

Venin turned back to the chapel and unlaced his boots, baring his muscular calves before he approached the fountain that splashed at its center. The cool flagstone beneath his feet sent a shiver up his spine, and green moss filled the gaps between the stones.

Some builder whose name was lost to time had tapped into the river itself to make the fountain run, and the water leapt into the air with a manic energy around the golden statue of Erro, before falling back down to the pool.

Venin knelt at the fountain’s edge on one of the well-worn pads, laid his hands in the shallow water, and let his wings rest over himself, making a private place to pray.

Erro and Gael, spare us from danger and lift us up into the sky with your powerful wings. He gave Erro deference, being that this was his chapel, but he hoped Gael would hear him too. The god of his own people had been known to intervene in mortal affairs before, and if what Quince had told them about these ithani was true, they would need all the help they could get.

Venin’s wings warmed.

He looked up in astonishment to see the statue of Erro giving off an intense golden glow. His mouth dropped open, and he stood and stared at its beautiful male curves and muscles. Maybe the gods were answering him.

Venin reached up and touched the statue’s outstretched hand. The shock knocked him backward onto his ass, and he hit the ground hard, slamming into one of the marble columns.

Venin groaned, stunned, and reached back to feel his wings and spine. He seemed to be in one piece.

Taz would have laughed his ass off at the whole thing.

After a moment he sat up cautiously. He wrapped his arms around his legs and stared up at the statue, his chin on his knees.

The glow was gone.

Did I imagine it? He stood and felt the back of his head. A lump was already forming there. That’s gonna leave a mark.

Something had changed. Venin didn’t know what yet, but he was sure of that much.

He pulled his boots back on and laced them up. With one last suspicious glare at the statue, he turned and stepped out of the chapel, taking a deep breath of the moisture-laden air.

Then he leapt into the sky to soar down to the broken city.

 

Buy Links:

 

Publisher: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/ithani-by-j-scott-coatsworth-10236-b

Publisher 2: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/ithani-by-j-scott-coatsworth-10237-b

Amazon Paperback: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1644051125/

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/ithani-j-scott-coatsworth/1130033186?ean=9781644051115

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/J_Scott_Coatsworth_Ithani?id=3DWADwAAQBAJ

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/ithani

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/ithani/id1447589270?mt=11

 

Giveaway:

 

Scott is giving away a $50 Amazon gift card and ten copies of “The Stark Divide,” the first book in his other trilogy,  his other trilogy, “Liminal Sky,” with this tour. Enter via Rafflecopter:

Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d4753/?

Author Bio:

 

Scott lives between the here and now and the what could be. Indoctrinated into fantasy and sci fi by his mother at the tender age of nine, he devoured her library. But as he grew up, he wondered where the people like him were.

 

He decided it was time to create the kinds of stories he couldn’t find at Waldenbooks. If there weren’t gay characters in his favorite genres, he would remake them to his own ends.

 

His friends say Scott’s brain works a little differently – he sees relationships between things that others miss, and gets more done in a day than most folks manage in a week. He seeks to transform traditional sci fi, fantasy, and contemporary worlds into something unexpected.

 

A Rainbow Award winning author, he runs Queer Sci Fi and QueeRomance Ink with his husband Mark, sites that bring queer people together to promote and celebrate fiction reflecitng their own reality.

 

Author Website: https://www.jscottcoatsworth.com

Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/jscottcoatsworth

Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/jscottcoatsworthauthor/

Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/jscoatsworth

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8392709.J_Scott_Coatsworth

Author QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/j-scott-coatsworth/

Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/J.-Scott-Coatsworth/e/B011AFO4OQ/

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“Looking Glass House” for Friday Flash Fics, February 15, 2019, by Jeff Baker

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                              Looking Glass House

                                         By Jeff Baker                       

            The two men in tuxedos stood kissing beside the big window.

“Look! I can see myself!”

            “Quit talking like an old commercial and kiss me!”

            “Hey, when are we going to tell your parents?”

            He looked through the window for a moment. “Never,” he said. “They’re shelling out big bucks for this wedding, more than they spent when my sister got hitched.”

            “So shouldn’t we tell them that,” he lowered his voice, “that we got married at the courthouse three months ago?”

            “A little late for that. They just sprang this on us, remember?”

            “Yeah, I know!” He grinned. “We’d better get inside.”

            “In a minute,” he said. “I want to finish this first.”

            The two men in tuxedos stood kissing beside the big window.

 

                                                —end—

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“Concerning My Recent Encounter With the Eagle People” edited by Jeff Baker, for Friday Flash Fics, February 8, 2019.

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Concerning My Recent Encounter With the Chief of the Eagle People

Edited by Jeff Baker

(NOTE: The following MS was found in the author’s paper’s at the University. It was doubtless intended to be published with the rest of the book in 1872, but was not included, for reasons unknown. It may have been lost or the author may not have considered it suitable. It is here reproduced in its entirety.—jsb.) 

In the Summer of 1861 I followed my brother Orion west, to the Nevada Territory. We travelled through the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains, mainly by stage, at which point I acknowledged that actually riding on the mountains, like a horse would have been less painful. It was while we were camping out between the plains and the mountains that I decided to take a horse and do some rudimentary exploring, despite warnings that the local Natives tended to get irritated. I responded that my Brother had campaigned for Lincoln in the recent election and that I was not unfamiliar with irritated natives and I considered the ones in the East to be far more savage than the ones in the West. So, I set out upon my borrowed horse, confident in my knowledge and skill.

I promptly got lost.

The sun was setting when I saw what looked like campfires ahead. I rode cautiously, realizing that whoever was ahead I was probably in a predicament; if I was returning to the stage line, late and in my haggard condition I was bound to be lectured by the driver but If I fell among the natives, they might decide to take out on me the indignities they had suffered at the hand of my well-meaning brethren during the last two centuries. While I was percolating over my options, suddenly two large young braves appeared at my sides so swiftly and silently that I had not heard or seen their approach. They indicated that I should dismount and I marched with them leading my horse by the bridle on foot toward their camp. I observed them and tried to discern what tribe (from my little experience) they might belong to. They wore long pants, shoes of the same material and instead of shirts, their shoulders were covered with cloaks that I at first thought were fur but I quickly realized were feathers. Eagle feathers. Most astonishing to me was the fact that they were unmounted and had swiftly approached me on foot without the aid of horses.

We arrived at the camp as it was getting dark, apparently in the middle of some form of trial or ceremony. What I imagined to be the whole tribe was seated around a large fire. This was some thirty men or women. Standing in the middle were three young men, like all of them draped in the same feathered cloak, the one in feathers darker than the others.

As we approached, a tall, white-haired man stood up and held a hand out, indicating quiet. Then he spoke, to my surprise, in English. He told me that I was at a gathering of the Eagle People, the day on which these three were to “ascend to manhood.” He introduced himself as the Chieftain and wise man of the tribe, and said a name I couldn’t pronounce; full of A’s and K’s. I would have written it down but I hadn’t brought a pencil. Then he said something that took me by surprise: that I was here because I was destined to be a wise man and that I should sit and watch.

The ceremony (I assumed it to be such) was quick and I did not understand the language, but I got the basic meaning; Each of the three young men was questioned by the Wise Man and at the end of the questioning, took off the necklaces they had been wearing and handed them to the Wise Man who, at the end, tossed the necklaces into the fire. This was followed by a rousing cry from all of the assembled and I caught a slight smile on the face of one of the three young men, and one of the others seemed to thrust his chest out. In another moment, the Wise Man sat down beside me and the three young men stepped to the edges of the circle and (wonder of wonders!) what I had assumed to be feathered cloaks unfurled from their shoulders and revealed themselves as wings, not unlike those birds. Then they left the ground and soared into the darkened sky where the stars were beginning to be visible, and I was torn between staring upward, slack-jawed at the sight and looking around at the other members of the tribe closely examining them and realizing their feathered cloaks were indeed wings.

“We are the Eagle People,” the Wise Man said to me. “Our ancestors were the eagles of the heavens, and we walk the earth as men and soar in the skies.”

I was thinking to myself that the dark-winged boy must have had some crow in him, maybe a catbird, when I suddenly thought of a question and turned to ask the Wise Man. He must have known what I was thinking for he smiled, and

(Here the manuscript ends.)

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Wise Words From “The Writer,” (the magazine, not me. Jeff Baker, February 4, 2019.)

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                             Short Words From The Writer

                                                By Jeff Baker               

            I got a small stack of back-issues of “The Writer” today, most from around 1970. Browsed through them and found a few things that may interest writers out there, especially writers of short-stories. 

            First off, from the excellent Flannery O’Connor; an essay The Writer republished in its January 1970 issue:

            “Being short does not mean being slight. A short story should be long in depth and should give us an experience of meaning.”

            The Writer’s columnist Lesley Conger presented “A Writer’s Alphabet” in her May 1977 Off The Cuff column in that issue. Here are a few gems:

            “M is for Mailbox. If you feed the public mailbox on the corner regularly, your own mailbox may begin to feed you.”

            “P is for Publisher. To be able to preface this word with ‘My’ is the aim of every beginning writer.”

            “T is for Time. …the best way to make use of time is to deal with it even if there are only minutes of it foreseeably available ahead of you.”

            “E is for Envelope. Going out, manila envelopes are fine. Coming back, envelopes should be thin, long and white.”

 

            The Writer is still publishing. Back in 1977 they were celebrating their 90th year. Times have changed since the days of manila envelopes and mailboxes. But I wish for all the writers reading this the metaphorical white envelopes of success.

 

                                                —end—

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“The Frog on the Pillow.” Pillow talk for Friday Flash Fics ( a day late!) Jeff Baker, February 2, 2019.

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                                                           The Frog on the Pillow

                                                                        By Jeff Baker

                       

            “Oh, the ring?” he said. “With the silver frog? It’s a family heirloom. Supposedly we’re descended from; well you know that story about the princess and the frog?”

            I nodded.

            “Well, that’s supposedly one of my ancestors. Supposedly.”

            “Wow,” I said.

            “Back in the Middle Ages (the story goes) there was a young prince (which is not as impressive as it sounds.) He was the youngest son of the son of a Feudal Duke, and probably wasn’t really a prince, but that’s how the story goes. Anyway, he got turned into a frog somehow and a genuine princess kissed him and he turned back and that was it. Well, she was a genuine princess, the niece of some other princess somewhere (they were probably some kind of cousins) but they did get married…”

            “And you’re all descended from all the little tadpoles?” I said grinning.

            “Yeah,” he said. “And I don’t know when we started getting these rings, but they’re kind of cool.”

            “Yeah,” I said. “So are you.”

            We kissed.

            “Well,” I said. “I guess you have to kiss a lot of princes to find your frog!”

 

                                                —end—

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“If you’ve got a problem no one can handle, and if you can find them…” Friday Flash Fics, January 26, 2019 (Saturday) by Jeff Baker.

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                                                      Reboot

                                                   By Jeff Baker                                       

            “Oh my gosh! I remember this! I loved this!”

            “Me too! They used to show the original on cable all the time.”

            “The original? I thought this was the original.”

            “I’m not counting the movie.”

            “The October Boys? I loved that!”

            “It was better than the series.”

            “Yeah, it had a literate script. To say nothing of people who could act.”

            “But it didn’t have that kick ass opening! The two police cars colliding and our four heroes walking up to the camera as the big fireball erupts behind them and the titles swirl out of that.”

            “We wanna do a reboot. The network is interested.”

            “You’re kidding! Are any of the cast even still alive?”

            “A couple of them are.”

            “How old are they? Ninety?”

            “About eighty. They’re doing cameos.”

            “Who are we getting to play Mort?”

            “One of the original cast suggested Jay Hernandez.”

            “Uh, I think he said he wanted to go out with Jay Hernandez.”

            “Maybe he wanted to be Jay Hernandez. Forget Jay Hernandez. What else do we have?”

            “Reboots of ‘Bewitched, The A-Team, and something called The Love Bot.”

            “Remake of Love Boat.”

            “No it isn’t. It’s about a robot re-entering the dating scene.”

            “Maybe they should call it Crashed on Reentry.”

            “Maybe we should go to lunch.”

            “L.A. Lunch. That’s another one. Instead of a high-powered law firm, it’s a high-powered lunch counter…”

 

                                                —end—

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