Happy April: Monday Blog Post

Newest News:

Last Friday and Saturday hubby and I drove up to Nellis AFB to celebrate the promotion of my nephew to Chief Master Sergeant. We were very proud of his accomplishment and it was nice to see so many of the family. We’re spread all over the U.S. and don’t get together very often. He’s a handsome young man, isn’t he?

April’s Camp NaNo started Saturday and I was on the road all day. So I hand wrote four pages of the next Zoe Ohale story in the car. I’m not sure how many words that is, I still need to type them up. At least I got a few words in. After I finish drafting this blog post (written on Sunday), I’ll have to do that and see what my first day’s shortfall is and work extra hard to catch up.

I bought nine dollars worth of pansies at Walmart last week and put some in my front planter, and the rest in two pots I had in the back yard. Aside from watering, not much gardening though the Swiss Chard was big enough to cut and have with dinner one night last week. I just love going out to the garden and picking my food, bringing it in and cooking it up. Talk about convenience food!

Last week I talked about my Elf Slave story. I have 3 episodes written and it’s not done yet. So that story is going to run into May, at least. I’m not fond of Elf Slave as a title, what else can I call it?

Giveaways:

My multi-author giveaway is called Spring into Reading, Easter Giveaway is now on. Grand Prize is $100 in Paypal cash and lots of other prizes from 48 authors. My prize winners of the St. Patrick’s Day giveaway are Ashley Nichole Poteet and Zarah Robinson. Congratulations ladies. Check your emails for a message from me about your prizes.

 

Shout Out:

Author Marsha Ward

I have an interview this week with Marsha Ward. An author local to me, she is just putting out a historical fiction cook book with recipes from one of her characters. I love the cover on this cook book and it not only has recipes, but also tiny stories. I think you’ll love it. Can’t wait till Wednesday? Check her out at http://marshaward.com.

 

Where Will I Be?

Check my website, http://conniesrandomthoughts.com/where-will-i-be/ for my next engagements.

This coming weekend, I’ll be part of B2BCyCon, an on-line conference that runs from Friday April 7th to Sunday the 10th. Events are open to readers and here’s a link to my Science Fiction Author Showcase: https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/18367091-2017-connie-cockrell-science-fiction-author-showcase. On this link I’ll be talking about the whole Brown Rain series and my other books in general. I may even offer up a prize. I’ve added some content. Please feel free to comment on the posts. Are you a Goodreads user? Love to see you there. If you aren’t a Goodreads member, here’s your chance to find a ton of books, chats with other readers and even ask an author a question. Me included! If you’re a Facebook user, I’ll be part of a Science Fiction event on that platform at  https://www.facebook.com/events/1466110423422872/. It will run Saturday, from 5pm Eastern time until midnight Eastern. So if you’re on Pacific time (or Arizona time like me) that’s 2pm – 9pm. Other fun stuff is happening on http://b2bcycon.com/ so be sure to check it all out. Our panel discussions on multiple topics are being posted as we speak. Check those out on http://b2bcycon.com/panels/.

I have contracted for a booth at Phoenix ComiCon with some other author friends. The ComiCon is May 25 – 28th and you can find details for tickets, events, special guests, at http://phoenixcomicon.com/. I would be so excited to see you in the Exhibits Hall.

July 22nd is the Payson Book Festival. I have to say, this festival has turned into quite a thing. Over 600 people came to it last year. The tables have already been filled with authors. You can find out who is attending at www.PaysonBookFestival.org. The event is free to visitors and starts at 9am and runs until 3:30pm. Details about the location, video from last year, and more, can be found on the site.

 

Newsletter Sign Up:

Click here to sign up for my newsletter. I’ve put sign-up prizes on both the regular and the Brown Rain newsletter sign-ups. That’s right. If you sign up for my newsletter you get a free story from me. Be prepared for fun and contests! Click on the video link for a short video from me. Hear what I’m working on. Join my “A” Team to be the first to read my books and hear what new books are coming.

 

Newest Book Release:

Mystery in the Woods released on December 24th! I’m pretty excited about it. You can buy it and my other books at: Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and Smashwords, today! You can also see all my books on http://conniesrandomthoughts.com/my-books-and-other-published-work/. If you’ve read any of my books, please drop a short, honest, review on the site where you bought it or on Goodreads. It’s critical to help me promote the books to other readers. Thanks in advance.

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Wake Snakes: Friday Flash Fiction Post

Port harbour by Kagita ar via DeviantArt.com

Port harbour by Kagita ar via DeviantArt.com

Wake snakes — get into mischief. “So I went on a regular wake snakes sort of a spree, and I went here and there turnin’, twistin’ and doublin’ about until I didn’t know where or who I was,” a man testified in court as to why he was intoxicated, according to the New Orleans, La., Times Picayune of Aug. 15, 1842.  Link to the rest at NPR.

 

Capella jumped from her small boat and tied it off before she scurried down the quay.

Her best friend, Phoebe, was set up for a shell game in the mouth of a tiny alley. “Hey! Where you goin’?” She scooped her cups and the ball into her jacket pocket and folded the tiny table.

In four steps Phoebe’d caught up. “In a hurry?”

“Yep.” If her friend wanted come that was fine but she’d better keep up.

“Who’s the mark?” Phoebe brushed by a sailor staggering along the quay. She slid his wallet into her pocket without missing a stride.

“No one you know.” Capella clenched her teeth.

Phoebe arched an eyebrow. “Personal then. What’s the plan?”

Phoebe was always ready to help. She’d want a cut of whatever could be taken but that was fair. “Some jerk beat ma to snot. I’m gonna find him and make him pay.” Capella accepted that women, especially in a port town and without prospects, sold what they had to whoever would buy. No skin off her nose.

“Last seen?” Pheobe fingered the haft of the knife she kept in the belt at her waist. Capella knew Phoebe had another at her back and a third in her boot. Capella had checked her knives before she left the hovel she and her mother called home.

“Turner’s. Jerk and his shipmates have camped there for the last two days.”

Phoebe spat on the quay. “How many?”

“Six. You’re thinkin’ we need back-up?”

“Yep.” Phoebe eyed her. “Unless you know how to separate him from his mates?”

“I planned to get friendly and get him out into the alley, then deal with him.”

“He ever see you before?”

“Nope. Ma gave me a description. The jack didn’t even pay her the fee. There’s no call for that.”

“Agreed. He needs a correction. We could get a couple of the boys.”

Capella thought about it. It was tempting to call in the boys but things could go sideway’s too easy. She looked at her friend and eyed the table tucked under Phoebe’s arm. “You set up a game on the quay just outside the door. I’ll tell Turner you’ll give him a cut so he won’t bother you. Let them win once in awhile to keep them interested. I’ll chat up the jerk and get him to come out back.”

“I can do that. What are you gonna do?”

“I’ll think of something.”

“I’d feel better if a couple of the boys were there to help.”

“Me, too, but they get side-tracked and next thing they’re robbin’ and beatin’ and…hmmm, maybe that would be the better plan.” She slowed to a stop. “They can keep everything the guy has but my ma’s fee. Where are they?”

“Over at Mally’s.”

“Let’s go.”

It took an hour to get to Mally’s, talk to the boys, get two to come along, and get back to Turner’s. The boys, Zen and Lecki, hid in the alley while Capella and Phoebe started things out front.

The sailors tumbled out of the tavern door and lay their bets. Phoebe smiled and flirted while Turner watched from the door. Capella spotted the jerk and gave him a smile. As soon as he noticed her, she oozed up beside him. “Hey.”

“Hey, yourself.” He slid an arm around her shoulders.

A glance at his knuckles, freshly broken open, convinced her she had her mother’s attacker. “You new in town?”

“Off the Octavia Jones for a few days.”

Capella simpered. “You lookin’ for a good time?”

He leered down her shirt at her breasts. “All the time, sweet thing. What do you have in mind?”

“Three credits. There’s a spot in the alley where we can get some privacy.”

He grinned. “Back in a minute, boys.”

As he turned with her in his grasp, Capella caught Phoebe’s eye. Phoebe nodded and allowed one of the sailors to win. They never noticed the jerk leave.

Turner arched an eyebrow at Capella who gave her head a tiny shake. He wouldn’t tell, but she’d have to pay him off. After wake snaking all over the city in the hot sun, the cool, shaded alley leading to the back of the building, was a relief. At the back of Turner’s she said, “Over here.” She pulled him into a corner of a small storage shed and the building. She backed into the corner and unbuttoned the next button on her shirt. “This what you lookin’ for?” She peered up at him through her eyelashes.

He moved in and grabbed her around the waist. Over his shoulder she watched Zen and Lecki come up behind him. They clobbered him over the head and as he went down, beat him with their fists and kicked him, stomach and back, as he tried to protect his head. Once unconscious, they went through his pockets.

“Ma’s fee and money to pay off Turner.” She held out her hand.

Zen handed her the coins while Lecki took the rest. “Nice doin’ business wit ya.” They tipped their hats and ran off along the back alley. Capella buttoned her shirt and went out front. She nodded to Turner and eased down the quay. She’d come back later to give him his cut.

Phoebe closed the game to the moans and groans of the sailors. “Time for me to move on, boys. Safe journey.”

The girls ducked into a side alley. “You all right?” Phoebe asked.

“Fine. He never touched me. How’d you do?”

“Fifty credits for me, fifty for Turner.”

Capella peeked around the corner. “Time to go. Gotta get ma some meds.”

Phoebe thrust twenty credits at her friend. “Take ’em. For your ma.”

Capella hesitated then sighed. “For the meds. That’s all. You took a risk, too.”

“Thirty credits in a morning is a good day for me. Take Turner’s share.”

Capella nodded. “Safe journey, Phoebe.” She hurried out onto the quay and to her boat. Time to help her ma.

 

Thank You!

999 Words

Find more of the Forward Motion Flash Friday Group here: http://www.fmwriters.com/flash.html

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Ragged Weeping: Friday Flash Fiction Post

Misery by fuuuran via DeviantArt.com

Misery by fuuuran via DeviantArt.com

I woke again to ragged weeping and groaned. I had to get up at five and drive an hour and a half to work. Every night this week the weeping had woken me. I got up, threw on my robe and opened the bedroom door. Just like every other night, it sounded as if it was coming from my left, down the hall toward the stairs. I sighed and padded barefoot along the polished wood floors.

My best friend Mandy thought it was a ghost when I told her about it two days ago.

I snorted. “There’re no such things as ghosts.”

“Seriously, Bridget, haven’t you ever watched Ghost Finders on TV? They find ghosts all the time.”

Mandy believed everything she saw on the internet or saw ragged weeping. “I’ll figure it out.” I wish I felt as confident at two in the morning as I had at lunch in broad daylight. The sound quieted. I stared around the hall, faint moonlight coming in the window at the end. I went back to my bedroom and got the mini-flashlight and the wooden bat I kept handy by the bed. I opened every door on the hallway. Spare room, closets, bathroom, guest room, all were quiet. Downstairs I did the same, opened every door, listening, shining the light inside. No ghosts revealed themselves.

In the kitchen I listened to the appliances. There was just quiet humming, no ragged weeping sounds. I turned on the kitchen light and started the water in the kettle for a cup of tea. Some chamomile would help me get back to sleep. Two-fifteen in the morning, I sighed as I checked the clock over the door to the dining room. The house was so quiet I could hear the gas feeding the flame on the stove.

Maybe the noise was coming from the basement, the water heater or furnace or something. I shoved myself to my feet and opened the basement door. As basements in old houses go, this one was pretty clean and not too scary. In the daylight, anyway. I went down the creaky wooden stairs and walked around. The washer and dryer were silent. The water heater was quiet under its insulated blanket. The furnace made no noise but I noticed the fuel oil gage read a quarter full. I made a mental note to have the furnace guy come and do a service and to get the oil delivery guy to fill the tank before September.

I stopped at the end wall. Built-in rough wooden shelves stretched across three-quarters of the wall and held a variety of things I didn’t know what to do with and some things left over from the previous residents. I stared at the contents of the shelves. I should just have a yard sale and get rid of this stuff. The sound of weeping made me jump. What the hell! Where is that coming from? I backed away from the wall, swallowing hard. There was nothing on the other side of the wall. That was an end wall, just dirt on the other side. The weeping grew louder. I could see a furnace duct running along the ceiling right over the shelves. That’s why I could hear it up in my bedroom. The duct work carried the sound.

The kettle in the kitchen started screaming. I ran up the stairs, turned it off and dialed 911. It was going to be tough to explain.

Long past time for me to get up the police finished demolishing the shelves and uncovered a secret door. I watched from the steps. The cops didn’t want me in the way. I didn’t want to get too close.

Four officers in SWAT gear opened the door and went into the room I could only just glimpse. The men called out and others went in. “Clear, Clear, Clear,” I could hear them calling out. The officer in charge listened to the comms in his ear. He turned to a sergeant nearby. “Call an ambulance. Someone’s alive in there.”

I went back up to the kitchen and made a cup of Earl Grey tea. I was going to need the caffeine. An hour later they brought the stretcher up the stairs, through to kitchen and out the back door. I saw a woman, hair wild around a pasty-white, emaciated face, covered with a blanket. The lieutenant came up after the stretcher.

“What, who?” I babbled incoherently.

He sighed. “Strangest thing I’ve ever seen. She was a research assistant and lover, thirty years ago, to a Doctor Spark. He convinced her to stay with him in the secret room where they were doing experiments. There’s enough LSD down there to stone New York City. There are crates and crates of MRE’s. They’re tapped into the house electricity and water and sanitation.”

“Why did they do it?”

“She wasn’t clear. But the doc died, probably three years ago.” He looked at her. How long have you been here?”

I shrugged. “A year. But the weeping didn’t start until a week ago.”

“A psychiatrist is going to have to figure this out but people don’t do well all alone. She broke, I’m thinking.”

I could hear a buzzing in his ear. “Roger that,” he said. “They’re bringing the body up now.”

I nodded and moved to the far side of the kitchen, my hands wrapped around my tea mug. The medics pulled the gurney up the stairs and through the kitchen. The body seemed small under the sheet. Desiccated, I assumed. My phone rang. “Bridget, you all right? You’re not here yet.”

“I’m fine but I’m not going to be in today. You will not believe what’s happened here. I’ll tell you tomorrow.”

Mandy tried to get more details but I told her I was busy and hung up. No, this was going to be very hard to believe.

 

Thank You for reading!

983 Words

Find more of the Forward Motion Flash Friday Group here: http://www.fmwriters.com/flash.html

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Birch in the Blade: Flash Fiction Friday Story

Red Dwart by darthcetus via DeviantArt.com

Red Dwart by darthcetus via DeviantArt.com

“It was your mother’s sword, Charlene.”

Charlene stroked the intricate designs on the blade, and the basket hand guard. “Birch leaves?”

“Your mother’s family symbol. They’d be proud of what a fine young woman you’ve become.”

Char took a few practice swirls. “It’s like it was made for me.” She turned to stare. “Enchanted?”

Her father nodded. “It fits itself to its rightful owner’s hand.”

“What other powers does it have?”

“Your mother told me it depends on the owner. For her, it cast a glamour over her, making her seem bigger, stronger, and more fierce. It pierced whatever she hit, no matter how poor the blow. You’ll have to find out what it will do for you.”

Char gazed at the sword with a mix of eagerness and dread. “The gift of the sword must mean it’s time for my quest.”

“You’re twenty. What will you do?”

Char had been thinking about it since she was eight. “I’m going to find the king who destroyed my mother’s family and kill him.”

“A grim task.”

“Long overdue.” She slid the sword into its new scabbard. “Why didn’t you do it?”

“You mother forbade me.”

Char asked, “Any advice?”

“Stay alive.”

Two weeks later Char left. The tradition held that she was to go alone but for the last four generations, a squire had been allowed to go along. Char’s squire, Holly, trained with her from the first year. Beside Char’s horse she said, “Killing King Dwile isn’t going to be easy. A dwarf is going to be underground more often than not.”

“He’ll come out, probably for hunting and he’ll be a lot less protected than in his stronghold.”

Holly nodded. “Killing the dwarf king will cause trouble.”

“Father believes the revenge-killing will be understood by the dwarves. They follow the custom themselves. Prince Dwale will take the throne and there will be peace.”

Holly sighed. “I don’t like it.”

After a  month to travel to King Dwile’s stronghold, two months were spent hiding and spying on the king. Twice they’d nearly been caught by the dwarf patrols. The fourth month they spied the king leading a small group of hunters from the stronghold’s gates.

“They’re headed for the woods,” Char mounted her horse and traced the king and his party.

An hour later the King had just shot a fine buck. While two men gutted the deer, the King called out that he was going to water a tree. The men laughed and the King moved into the woods alone.

“Here’s our chance.” Char hurried through the woods after the king. She reached him already finished with his business and looking up at the trees. Char drew her sword. “King Dwile. I’m Princess Charlene Longbow. You murdered my grandparents and stole their kingdom. Now you must die.”

King Dwile slowly turned to face Char. “A left-over Arborman? I thought I’d destroyed the lot of you.” He pulled his sword from its scabbard.

“I’ve come to avenge my family.”

“A slip of a girl like you?” he laughed. “You’re quest is to kill me? A great many have tried.”

Char advanced, sword ahead of her. The dwarf was short but stocky and broad of shoulder. She saw that he was light-footed as he crossed the forest floor. It was only a moment before they crossed swords. Char hoped that the sword’s magic, still unrevealed, would work for her now.

Holly stood back, keeping watch. “Kill him and be done.”

King Dwile laughed. “In a hurry little one?”

Char pivoted and struck another blow but the King was quick and the swords clashed again. The two of them circled. Char realized that the magic the sword had for her mother wasn’t for her. She wished the sword would help her.

The swords clashing drew the hunting party. “What’s this?” A young dwarf cried out. He drew his blade.

“Stop,” Holly stood between her princess and the dwarves. “Princess Charlene is avenging her grandparents. You must hold.”

“That’s my father, girl.”

Holly nodded but didn’t take her eyes from the dwarf. “Your majesty. Tradition and custom is clear. This is a fair fight.”

Prince Dwale grimaced and continued to grip his sword but no move to stop Char.

Char tired. The King struck harder than the human men she trained with. She stepped forward and before she knew it, her sword had pierced the King’s chest. As soon as she had stopped planning her strokes, the sword took over.

King Dwile stood, eyes wide, his sword dropped. The prince caught his father just before he sank to the ground. Char stepped back and Holly with her.

The prince sobbed over his father before calling his men to carry the king back to the stronghold.

Char gripped her sword as the prince stood up. “King Dwale.”

The young dwarf sighed. “Does this release my family from your revenge?”

“It is done. I’ll trouble your kingdom no further.”

“My father was wrong to attack the Kingdom of Arbor. The old king wouldn’t grant mining rights.”

“I’m sorry for your loss, sir.”

“And I for yours, fair maid. May we offer hospitality?”

Char thought that a bad idea. “My thanks, sire, but we have been travelling a long time. We’re ready to go home.”

“Go safely, then, Princess.”

“And you.”

Returned home, Char met with her father.

“You don’t think he’ll start a war?” The King treaded.

“I don’t think so. They may want to open trade negotiations.”

“Good idea. I’ll send emissaries. What did your quest teach you?

Char thought a moment. “I chose a stupid quest. It wasn’t helpful in and could have led to a war. I wonder that you allowed me to go.”

“It was a chance, but you needed that lesson. You’ll be a better queen for having learned it the hard way.”

Char hoped she wouldn’t have to learn too many more that way.

 

Thank You!

985 Words

Find more of the Forward Motion Flash Friday Group here: http://www.fmwriters.com/flash.html

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The Mighty Five: Friday Flash Story

Sparks

Sparks

The old woman stirred her fire and dropped another piece of wood on top. The sparks danced up the chimney like demented fireflies.

“Granny, tell the story.”

Elsa wiped her rheumy eyes; of course the grandchildren would want to hear about her adventures. She nodded and hobbled back to her rocker. Shifting the chair so she could face both them and the fire, Elsa’s heart filled with love for the sweet girls cuddled together under a blanket on the bench, ready for a bedtime story.

“It was long ago,” she began, “when my eyes were clear and I moved like a gazelle across the land.”

“You were Elsa the Archer, one of the Mighty Five,” Corrine piped in.

“I was, though you’d never think so to see me today.” Elsa smiled at her oldest grand-daughter. It’s not the children’s fault I’ve grown so old. “It was before your mother was borne when Ragnar the Bold and I took on the evil marshal who was running roughshod over the shire.”

“Then Steven the Red, Dale Strongarm and Jamie the Bull joined you,” Denise, the younger girl added.

“Indeed they did. And we fought Marshal Eggleston with everything we had.” Elsa’s mind flashed to their first fight against the marshal’s men. “The first fight was later called the battle of the ford. The marshal had put a gate on either side of the ford.”

“To collect a tax!” Corrine called out.

“He did. Coming or going, it made no difference to the marshal. While he filled his coffers with our coppers and silvers the people of the Shire grew poorer and poorer. Something had to be done.”

“So Ragnar the Bold devised a plan,” Denise shouted.

Elsa chuckled. “He did. The five of us marched up to the ford, the marshal’s men lounged in their place, calling out that the fee to cross was two coppers. They stood up as we approached, the foul men calling out lewd invitations to me.

“Grandpa Ragnar didn’t like it,” Corrine noted.

“He did not but he kept his temper.” Elsa smiled as she remembered how much she admired her new husband for his control. “Ragnar stepped up to the man in charge as I stood back and the others spread out across the road. Ragnar told the man that we wanted to cross. The soldiers laughed. The head soldier said, ‘When we get the coppers, clod. Two for each of you to cross, though, for the woman, we’ll allow you to pass for free.’ I could see Ragnar grip his stave until his knuckles turned white. I pulled set my arrow and pulled my bow. Ragnar told them he would not pay.”

The girls stared at their grandmother with rapt attention.

“You will pay or turn around, peasant. The soldiers from the other side of the ford were listening to their comrade. Ragnar raised his stave. I’ll give you this if you don’t let us pass. The marshal’s men pulled their swords as the others on the other side began to cross. Ragnar swung back and hit the lead man with his stave. Then it was chaos. I pulled my bow but the men were too close together for me to shoot.”

“You were very brave, Grandma,” little Denise’s eyes shone. Elsa thought about how terrified she’d been. “Perhaps, little one. So your grandfather was in the fight of his life, his stave against swords. Steven, Jamie and Dale were also fighting hard. The five soldiers from the other side of the ford were nearly at the fight. I had to stop them or my friends would be outnumbered two to one and them with swords and armor.”

“You shot them!” Corrine said.

“I did.” Elsa’s stomach churned at the memory of the sound of her arrows slamming into the soldier’s chests but she didn’t stop firing until all five of them were down, screaming and writhing on the ground. She swallowed. “That gave Ragnar and our friends the time they needed to overcome the soldiers.”

“You saved the day, Grandma.” Denise grinned.

“I suppose so. That’s what the people cheered later as we went from town to town.”

“You were a hero,” Corrine nodded.

Elsa never felt like a hero. She had only wanted to raise children and work the farm. “Perhaps. As any man or woman is who fights for what they believe.” She shook off the memories of long ago. Ragnar had been dead these last ten years. “Time for bed, little ones. Enough of ancient stories.”

The girls unwrapped from their blanket, Corrine bringing it with her to their bed in the loft. Elsa tucked them in. “Sleep well.” She kissed each of them on the forehead.

“I’m going to be a hero someday,” Corrine said.

“Me, too,” Denise chimed in.

Elsa shuddered with the memories of all of the battles she’d fought in. “Dream of peace, girls. Being a hero is over-rated.”

Back in her chair she stared into the fire. All of that blood and death and for what? The King sent a new marshal and order was restored but it didn’t last. The old King died and the prince became king. Things became worse than ever.

She tossed another stick on the fire and picked up her knitting. The girls grew so fast new socks were needed every three months. Rumor had it that a new band was fighting back. The Protectors people were calling them. Elsa wished them well. If they lived through it they’d need help to bury the bad memories and live their lives in peace. She hoped they’d find it.

 

 

The End

937 Words

Find more of the Forward Motion Flash Friday Group here: http://www.fmwriters.com/flash.html

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Colony Princess: Flash Fiction Friday Story

1308160316_phoenix_by_o_eternal_o-d242bq2 via DeviantArt.com

1308160316_phoenix_by_o_eternal_o-d242bq2 via DeviantArt.com

Rose Apfel gazed out over the colony from her fourth-story apartment balcony window. “You can do it,” her father, King Stone Apfel had told her. “It’s the best, least dangerous planet our people have ever found. The top predator is a half-inch spider. It isn’t even toxic.”

So she had agreed. The ship arrived five years ago with four hundred colonists. Those were the prep team. They built housing and labs and civic buildings and parks and squares and farms. A year later came the second wave, scientists and mathematicians, astronomers and some entertainment crafts. In the third year came teachers and entrepreneurs, musicians, artists and craftsmen. Those were busy, glorious years full of thoughts of the future.

Then last year came the dragons. They flew overhead eating the stock, burning the apartments, houses, stores and civic buildings. Oh, they ate the native animal life, large, bovine and lizard-like creatures all of whom were vegetarian. But they relished the imported livestock. The price of meat, dairy and leather skyrocketed. The price of grain and vegetables rose through the roof. Rose sighed. A year of predation and now, she had to make some very hard choices. A gong sounded. Time to go down to her cabinet meeting.

Seated at the head of the table, Rose listened to a long list of problems. Worst was the loss of communications. The dragons had burned the communications towers for the fifth time in a year. They just couldn’t get word through to her father on their home planet. She drummed her fingers on the highly polished wooden table. “Two things.” She looked around the table. “I can see that everyone is working as hard as they can.”

The tiny complement cheered the glum group staring back at her. “Unfortunately that is not enough. We need to work smarter. No one has yet determined where these dragons have come from and why they’re here now. I want one captured and studied.”

Every man and woman slumped in their seat. “Second. We implement rationing immediately. Palace residents, included.” Her prime minister paled. His girth displayed his love of banquets.

A week later, word was sent that they had captured a dragon. She went immediately to the science labs, re-built underground after the above ground buildings were destroyed shortly after the dragons emerged. The dragon was in a fire-proof transparent walled cage. Her breath caught in her throat at her first sight of it. Emerald green scales glittered with silver highlights on the edges. Rose tinted the dragon’s spine from the top of its head to the tip of its tail. “It’s beautiful!”

“Indeed, Princess.” The lead scientist, River Aspen, stood, hands behind his back in front of the cage. “We rendered the beast unconscious, My Lady, and drew blood and other fluids. The test results are that the creature’s biology is consistent with that of this planet. What we cannot know at this point, is why in the fifteen years between the initial study of the planet and our settlement, that these creatures were never discovered.”

Rose nodded. That was the main question. “Some sort of cyclical life-cycle?”

“That is the only explanation, Princess.” Scientist Aspen turned at a movement of the dragon. “Ah. This is why we called you. The dragon is awaking.”

“You used fireproof glass?” Rose eyed the cage enclosure as the dragon stirred.

“Oh, yes, Princess. And triple strength walls.”

Reassured, the Princess watched as the roomful of scientists monitored the screens showing the dragon’s heart rate and other medical or biological functions. A speaker system let them hear the dragon as it woke from the sedatives. It opened its eyes after rumbles, mumbles and snorts, scrambling to its feet and falling against the walls. It chirruped and growled, shaking its head.

“Its trying to clear the sedative fog,” Rose said.

“Typical behavior, Princess, for any creature after sedation.”

Gaining strength, it roared at the scientists and tried to blow flame but coughed instead. It seemed to glare at them then proceeded to investigate every inch of the cell. It came back to the window and roared again.

The princess walked to the window and gazed at the creature. It bent its head down and looked back at her with golden eyes. “Scientist Aspen, do you have a translator installed in the creature’s cell?”

The scientist’s mouth dropped open. “Why, no, Princess. It’s an animal.”

She put her hand up to the glass. The dragon did the same, it’s huge clawed foot dwarfing her hand on the other side of the glass. “So are we. Set it up immediately.”

While the scientists worked on setting up the translator, Rose took her mid-day tea in a chair in front of the cage. Water and a small raw roast were placed in the cage and the dragon ate with her.

Aspen hurried to her when her tea was finished. “It’s installed, Princess.”

She stood up and faced the cage. She bowed. “Dragon. I’m Princess Rose Apfel, leader of this colony we call Gamilios. What is your name?”

The dragon chirruped, hissed and growled. “The translator is working on the language, Princess.”

“Our months are Wasardi, Hori, Shami, Tre, Kaloc, Arac, Hekani, Areg, Kani, Mareri, Margac and Hrotic. We count zero, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten and we use a base ten for our mathematics. We eat meat as well as vegetables and grain. We come from a planet many light years away. We call this sun Shahova and this planet, Ardes.”

She could hear the speaker within the cage hissing and chirruping. The dragon spoke, “I’m Beroan, mother of Nesenth, who are you?”

The Princess curtsied. “I’m Princess Rose, leader of this colony. I think we have much to talk about, Beroan.”

A year later, they held a joint celebration of the birth of cooperation between two cultures. The Gamilosians raised enough food for the dragons, and the dragons could visit the stars.

 

The End

995 Words

Find more of the Forward Motion Flash Friday Group here: http://www.fmwriters.com/flash.html

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