Tag Archives: @isg2011

Interrealm by Nicole DragonBeck

For Felix Colley – I’m eagerly awaiting your next novel!

Three to five years: no parole

Javin stared at the sign, head tilted as he tried to make sense of it. The air smelled old and stale, and he shivered in the chill, his thin tunic not really suited to the inhospitable environment.

“Can we go now?” Nena whined, tugging at the hem of his tunic.

“Go where?” Javin asked, his eyes never leaving the poster. “We have no idea where we are.”

“I know where we are,” Nena said.

That drew Javin’s attention, and he looked down at his precocious companion, a young girl with short brown hair and bright eyes. Her dress was different than Javin, because she was from a different realm, and her thick woolen clothes were more suited to the place the pair of them found themselves now. “What?”

“We’re in one of the interrealms.”

Javin looked around. It was not exactly pleasant, and though he had traveled through frequently, it was like looking through the window of a speeding train. He wouldn’t be able to describe what the interrealm looked like, except maybe blurry.

“How do you know?” Javin searched the old, green eyes of the girl.

In answer, the girl pointed at the sky. A solid black expanse hung over them like a blanket devoid of stars.

“And what does that mean?”

“It means we’re in the interrealms.” She gave him a hard look. “Look, you brought me along for a reason. The reason is I know things. I don’t know any more how I know things than you know how you travel.”

Javin sighed. “So, how did we end up here?”

Nena gave him a reproving stare. “Do you really need me to answer that question?”

Javin sighed again. “No, I suppose not.”

“You suppose not?” Nena shot back. “Maybe if you stopped supposing so much and looking before you leap, maybe we wouldn’t end up in places like this.”

“I’ve told you: I can’t stop to think or look or consider. I just have to go, or else I don’t go at all.”

Nena pursed her lips and frowned, but her eyes weren’t angry. “So how do we get out?”

“That’s a good question,” Javin replied, putting his hands on his hips and gazing around.

The land was flat and barren, stretching out to the grey horizon in every direction. The only interesting thing in the whole place was the sign, outlined in white candles, the words glaring out at them without sympathy.

“This sign is here for a reason,” Javin said. “It’s a message for me.”

“Specifically for you?” Nena ventured.

“Yes,” Javin said, now certain. “It’s a message from him.”

“How does he know where you are?” Nena asked, and for the first time trepidation colored her tone. “I thought you were able to stay ahead of him.”

“I thought I could,” Javin said. “I’m not sure what’s happened, but he’s expecting me.”

“You mean he’s here?” Nena shrieked, then clapped her hands over her mouth. “He’s here?” she hissed.

“I…I don’t know,” Javin said, and gazed around. “I don’t think so.”

“Then why is this here?” Nena gestured at the sign.

A light dawned in Jevin’s eyes, and a twinge of something squirmed in his stomach. “Three to five years; no parole. He’s trapped us here.”

Understanding blossomed on Nena’s face, and she looked around at the the bleak landscape with new respect.

“You can get us out of here, right? He can’t actually keep you here, can he?”

Jevin considered that for a moment. Was it possible? Could the Scarlet Jack actually trap him here, for years? Others could travel the interrealms via portals, natural and man made, but so far, Javin knew of only two that could travel though the interrealms at whim – him and the Scarlet Jack.

“You can get us out of here, right?” Nena asked again.

“I don’t know,” he said at last. “I think I can.”

“You think you can?” Nena asked.

“I think I can because he’s trying to make me think that I can’t,” Javin explained, pointing at the sign. “So I just have to figure out what he doesn’t want me to know.”

 

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Awaken by Alanna J. Rubin

For Desi

Making a zombie is actually way harder than it sounds.

Marcus looked at the corpse that was laying on the floor of his bedroom. Even in death, Callie was the epitome of “popular.” She was beautiful with her long blonde hair and blue chiffon dress and tonight was going to be fantastic as long as he could find the right spell. He sat with numerous worn leather bound spell books trying to find the right incantation to reanimate her. He had tried three already and despite a little finger twitching, the body had done nothing. Marcus was growing frustrated and running out of time.  He looked at his watch. “One hour left,” he uttered to no one. He couldn’t be late in meeting his friends, but the second hand kept moving as if to taunt him.

He knew his parents did this kind of thing all of the time. They were private detectives and it was common for them to bring the recently deceased back to life to ask them questions about their deaths. It definitely came in handy when trying to solve murders, but this was important too. He looked down at the girl from his cross-legged sitting position on the bed. Living, dead, or undead, as the case may be, his friends would be jealous. Marcus scanned several more pages, carefully turning each one as if they’d rip in his hand, then tapped the title, “Necromantiae.” This has got to be it, he thought to himself. Marcus read through the lines, took a deep breath and slowly let it out to center himself. If he’d learned anything from his parents, it was that concentration and calm were key to any good casting.

“From your dreamless slumber, I call you forth,” he spoke to the realms.

“To the shackles of flesh, I command thee.” His hair fluttered in an unearthly breeze and an energy began to pulse in his veins pushing him onward to finish the last line. “Excitare, Excitare…Awaken, Awaken.”

He watched as the breeze settled upon the body on his floor and waited impatiently for a sign that it worked. A minute passed by and…nothing. Marcus slammed the book shut in frustration and got up from his bed to pace. He ran his hand through his thick black hair and wondered why he had even bothered getting dressed for tonight. He turned to look back at the body and pulled loose his bow tie. “Ahh,” he yelped as the girl he had tried so desperately to resurrect now stood in front of him. Her head seemed to have a slight tilt to the left and her eyes were a little bloodshot, but that would get better with some time. She was perfect. A little groan escaped her lips followed by a raspy, “Where am I?”

Marcus looked around his small bedroom, a little embarrassed that he hadn’t cleaned up better, then replied, “That’s not important. My name is Marcus and I’m taking you to prom.” She looked at him with a blank stare as if trying, with great difficulty, to process what he had said. He watched as the comprehension of his statement caused a lopsided smile to grace her lips. Marcus would have said that her face lit up, but her muscles were a little too stiff for that. She shuffled closer to him and tried to fix his tie, but she became frustrated by her lack of dexterity. “No worries,” he said as he pulled the tie of all together. “I hate wearing bow ties anyway.” She let out a wheezing laugh as he dropped it to the floor.  “May I?” He asked holding out his arm for her. She smiled and gladly took it as she found it difficult to walk. He beamed at her with pride. “My friends are going to be so jealous when they see you. I can’t wait to see their faces. None of them thought you’d say yes if I asked you to prom, but even though I was sad when I heard you died, I knew when I found out that I had a shot.”

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Happy Holidays from SMFS!

Hello All,

From the amazing authors who give you the Stories My Friends (That’s you) Started, we would like to wish you an amazing holiday season.

We are proud and happy to have brought you the many stories in 2016 and look forward to bringing you many more in 2017.

You will also see the first of our short story anthologies released next year: Stories My Friends Started: Volume I.

We hope this is the first of many.

Thank you again for all of your stories and I hope you continue to flood us with Story Starters.

The Ink Slingers Guild

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Prom Date by Dalia Lance

For Briana J., because we have all said this at least once.

Well this is awkward!

It was in fact the most awkward situation she had been in since the fifth grade. That time she had actually arrived to school with no pants on. She couldn’t even remember how that happened.

It had, and it took moving to a new town for her to lose the nickname “No Pants.” By the time she had hit junior high, this nickname had taken on a new meaning and school was miserable.

Of course standing here at Prom, dressed as a chicken, was now a new highlight to her normally somewhat awkward adolescent life.

How did she end up dressed as a chicken at Prom? This question wasn’t nearly as interesting as WHY she was dressed like a chicken at the first major dance of her high school career.

Jade was surprised when she had even been asked to go to Prom. She actually thought at that moment it was a cruel joke. She had been asked by David Malcolm. David was not the most popular guy in school, but he was one of the coolest.

David was in a band that actually played frequently. They had even been scooped up by a manager and several record labels were looking at signing them. Jade had gone to several of their shows because the music was good and her friends would rather do that than pep-rallies and lame parties.

It was at one of the last shows he had asked her. She had been standing in line to get a soda, playing a game on her phone when she heard a voice ask “What level are you?” It was so close that Jade was startled and dropped her phone.

Before she could bend down to pick it up, David had and was handing it back to her. “Thank you,” she stammered as he looked at the phone, and then handed it back, saying, “Doesn’t look broken. Sorry I scared you.”

Jade just smiled. You see moments like this in the movies, but don’t realize that they can happen to you in real life.  She felt herself begin to sweat. She was nervous.

“Are you ok?” he asked. Oh god, she thought. “Yeah, yes. I mean. I am fine.” She sounded like an idiot. He simply smiled at her.

“What can I get you?” This time the voice was coming from the food cart.

“Can I buy you a soda?” David asked. She nodded and managed to ask for a Coke. She almost ordered a Diet Coke and then realized she would sound just like the girls at school. That and she hated diet soda.

As they got their drinks and started to walk from the cart, he asked, “So, Jade?” He knew her name, which surprised her since they never spoke and didn’t have any classes together. “Can I ask you something?” She nodded and added “Sure” so that she didn’t seem like she was now mute.

“Do you have a date for prom? and if not will you go with me?” She was caught completely off guard, and at the same time she was elated. “No…” she started and his smile began to drop. “I mean, I don’t have a date. Yes.” Well that wasn’t a complete sentence, but his smile brightened, so she was pretty sure he understood and was happy about it.

He gave her his number and headed back to the stage.

She texted him the next day just simply saying: This is Jade.

She didn’t expect a response, but he texted right back with a smile and started chatting. They had talked every day either via text or even having lunch together a couple of times at school. Jade found they had a ton in common and made each other laugh constantly.

David had told her how much he felt that you should make an adventure out of life. He liked to find a way to make everything bigger and more amazing. She found she liked this about him most. He thrived on being himself and liked her, it seemed, for who she was. It was awesome.

She had told him she was going shopping for her dress and he asked her not to and to trust him. Part of her began to get the sneaky feeling that she was being set-up, but she didn’t want to believe he would do that, so she agreed.

The night of Prom, a huge box had been dropped off with a corsage and a note saying: Don’t freak out. I promise this will be epic! See you soon.. Love David.

Before she even opened the box, she swooned over the word LOVE on the card. Her smile was huge until she opened the box and found the suit. There was a second note that had said: Meet me at Prom.

So here she stood, in a chicken suit, with a corsage, in front of Prom. She was about to walk away when she heard a commotion and saw a group of chickens, nine of them, walking towards her. The one in the lead came up and picked her up, twirling her around.

“You did it!” she heard David’s muffled voice say. She nodded, her chicken head rocking back and forth. “You are perfect!” he said, putting her down.

She knew he couldn’t see it, but she was smiling as he took her hand and led her into Prom.

The chicken suit prom landed not only in the yearbook and the local papers. It is one of the funny stories David likes to share when interviewed about how he fell in love with his wife.

 

 

 

 

 

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Of Course Not, Silly by Lisa Barry

From Sandy Bibeau:

In the middle of the night, in the foggy moonlight, the gargoyle jumped out from behind the crooked tree.

Melinda sang as she pranced around the room.

“You’re not supposed to tell anyone,” Shawn muttered. His sister’s face scrunched in protest and her tongue shot out as far as it could reach. He huffed and looked back at the old book.

“It says here that no one really thinks they’re real which is why they can get around so easily and sneakily.”

Melinda stopped and knelt next to Shawn. “I know they’re real,” she whispered.

“You think unicorns are real,” he scoffed. Melinda’s big brown eyes widened.

“You don’t?” she asked.

“Of course not, silly,” Shawn said and closed the book quickly. He stood. “Come on, it’s time for bed.”

“I am six years old. I don’t need you to put me to bed.”

Shawn sighed. “I know but mom asked, so…” He shrugged and started to close the blinds. Melinda pouted as she took a last stare out into the darkness. She climbed into bed and waited for Shawn to flip the switch and leave her alone.

He flipped the switch. The door latched close.

“You know nothing, Shawn Smith,” Melinda whispered into the darkness.

She waited before his steps on the stairs faded away.

Slinking off her bed, she went to her closet and opened the door. A soft glow emanated from the corner. Pushing passed stuffed animals and dolls, she sat next to the small gargoyle lounging with a book open before him.

“The unicorn won’t be able to visit us today,” she said to him. He blinked and a soft growl emanated from his chest.

“I know,” she ran a finger over the cat painted on the page. “He closed the blinds, and I haven’t figured out how to open them yet.”

The gargoyle huffed and snuggled into her as Melinda started to tell a story, oblivious to the meaningless words on the book’s pages.

 

 

By Lisa Barry

4 August 2016

 

 

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The Final Essay by JM Paquette

For Barbara Rubin, who left the story starter line blank…

I stared at the blank document in my hand. The student’s name was in the top left hand corner, as directed by MLA format, followed by my name, the class name, and the date. There was even a title, neatly centered on the next line: Final Essay.

True, MLA did suggest that unique titles are preferred, but other than that, this paper was properly formatted. It was double-spaced with the proper margins. There were even two more pages stapled to it. A quick flip revealed the student’s last name and the page number in the upper right hand corner, but that was all. No other words graced the pages.

Did he really turn in three blank pages for his final essay? I peered closer at the paper. Was the ink in the printer bad? Maybe there were letters there, but in some neglected ink, like yellow or pale pink. I’d gotten my share of blue and red papers, often accompanied by a desperate plea for leniency (“I know it’s not black ink, but my printer ran out, and I thought this was better than not turning anything in!”). I always accepted those papers.   I could read them.

But this one…

Maybe the student’s printer had messed up and he hadn’t noticed? That seemed unlikely. It wasn’t like the paper had been in the middle of other papers, the blankness hidden beneath the words of other assignments.

I held it up to the light, wondering if maybe the words would show up with a lighter background. My officemate noticed the motion, head glancing up to watch me. “Checking for a watermark?” she asked with a grin.

I shook my head. “No.” I put the paper back down. “I just don’t know why he would turn in a blank essay.”

Becky turned her full attention to me, face curious. “A student gave you a blank essay?”

I shrugged, holding the paper up to show her. She looked at it. Then back at me. “I thought you said it was blank.”

I shook the paper at her. “It is.”

Now she looked concerned. “Ummmm….no it isn’t.” She scooted her chair over to take a closer look. “Final Essay,” she read. “William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream reveals the foolishness of love…”

I stared at her, incredulous. I took my glasses off, rubbed my eyes, cleaned the lenses, then put them back on. The blank page still stared back at me.

“He seems cheerful,” she commented, voice heavy with sarcasm, eyes scanning words that I couldn’t see. “Isn’t he too young to be quite so jaded about love?”

“I…” I let the words trail off. “Maybe I just need a break from all this grading,” I said, leaving the paper on the top of the pile on my desk.

“Have some more coffee,” Becky suggested, shoving her chair back to her desk and taking up a perch before her laptop again. Her fingers clicked on the mouse, her other hand deftly inputting scores as she graded her online class.

I was about to stand up and take her advice when a bright light caught my eye. It was coming from my desk. I looked at Becky, who didn’t seem to notice anything amiss. When the glow faded, I scooted closer to my desk, staring at the gold flecked letters that had appeared on the paper. The words looked handwritten in bold strokes, and they still seemed to glow around the edges.

I bent closer to read.

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The Bet by Nicole Dragonbeck

For Maria Keramari. Thank you for the wonderful story starter!

It’s a wonderful world indeed…the Devil smiled with delight, her beautiful face lighting up like a spring flower. The sun was shining, pretty, golden-haired children were laughing as they ate laughed and ate ice cream, and a sickening goodness leaked out of the pores of the world. A perfect place to spread a little wickedness.

“What are you thinking?” a voice came from behind her.

The Devil turned. A sorry-looking young man stood there in a tattered coat. His face was criss-crossed with scars, and he had a gangly awkwardness which either made one want to slap some confidence into him, or hug him. The Devil sniffed.

“What are you doing here?” she asked.

The angel smiled. “Probably something like what you’re doing here.”

“Highly doubtful,” the Devil said. “Why don’t you fly away and go bug someone else?”

“But you’re so much fun to annoy,” the angel replied.

“They don’t like you, you know,” the Devil said. “You scare them.”

“There’s more to being likable than a pretty face,” the angel said.

“I’ll make you a bet,” the Devil said. “If I can get one of those delightful brats to come with me over you, then you have to leave me alone.”

“And if I can convince the child to come with me?” the angel asked in a mild voice.

“Well, then…then…you know…” the Devil waved his hand.

“You have to say it out loud,” the angel said. “It doesn’t work otherwise.”

“Then I’ll bugger off,” the Devil grumbled. “Happy?”

“Very,” the angel said. He seated himself on the grass, pulled out a notebook and began to draw. He glanced up at the Devil. “I believe you have the pick of the…what did you call them?…delightful brats.”

The Devil turned, eyes roaming, and picked out a likely candidate. The child was chubby, and wearing designer clothes. His face was unimpressed, his mouth turned down in a pout. The Devil pointed. If the angel was disappointed, he didn’t show it.

“Very well.”

The Devil sauntered over, and knelt down so she was eye to eye with the petulant child. “What’s your name, little boy?”

“Bobby,” the child said suspiciously. “Who’re you?”

“A friend,” the Devil said, holding out her hand. “Would you like to see something fantastic?”

“I’m not supposed to talk to strangers,” Bobby said.

“Well, we’ve met now, so we’re not strangers anymore,” the Devil said with a winning smile. “I’ve got a pony over there, with saddlebags full of candy. Wouldn’t you like a ride?”

The boy looked to where she pointed. A little distance away, a piebald pony munched on the grass, swishing a white tail. A golden saddle sat on his back, and chocolates and fruit-flavored candy spilled out of the golden bags on either side.

“I’ve never ridden a pony,” Bobby looked excited and scared.

“Well, come on then!” the Devil said with a bright smile.

Bobby smiled back at her, and took her hand. She led him straight past the angel. The angel said nothing. He did not even look up from his drawing. A calm aura exuded from him, and his smile was enchanting. As the Devil attempted to pull Bobby faster, the child slowed, looking at the ragged man with a curious expression.

“Who’s that?” he asked.

“Nobody, just a dirty old bum,” the Devil sniffed. “We don’t talk to people like that.”

At that moment, the angel looked up at Bobby. His eyes were kind. “Hello there.”

“Hi,” Bobby said.

The angel continued drawing, his hand moving idly.

“What are you doing?” Bobby asked, beginning to pull from the Devil’s hand. The Devil tightened her grip, blood-red nails digging into his skin. Bobby gave a startled yelp. Her smile was pained as she looked down at him.

“Don’t you want to ride the pony?” she asked.

“Well, yes,” Bobby said.

“Then come on,” the Devil wheedled, tugging at his arm.

Bobby shrugged and started walking. As he passed the angel, he glanced down at the notebook. His eyes brightened with wonder, and he wriggled free from the Devil’s grip. Bobby seated himself beside the angel, watching his fingers move the pencil across the paper.

“What is that?” the little boy asked.

“It’s a story I’m working on,” the angel said. He tilted the notebook so the child could see better. “This is Charlie. He had a friend named Billy…”

The angel continued the story about Charlie and Billy and their adventures, illustrating as he spoke. The little boy was enraptured.

“That’s not even a real thing!” the Devil shrieked when the angel began to tell of Charlie’s quest for the Crown of Friendship to rescue his friend Billy who had been trapped on the Island of Loneliness.

“Shhh!” Bobby scolded. “I want to hear what happens.”

“What about the pony?!” the Devil said, tearing at her hair so little tufts began to come out, leaving bald patches of her scalp showing.

“Later,” Bobby promised absently, staring at the pictures on the page. “Tell me what happened to Charlie.”

The angel smiled and continued his telling, while the Devil fumed behind him. After a while, a woman came up with a frantic expression on her face.

“Robert Daniel Johnson!” she gasped when she saw him. “What have I told you about talking to strangers?”

“I’m sorry ma’am,” the angel said with a warm smile. “I didn’t mean any harm. Bobby was just helping me with the children’s story I’m writing.”

“Oh,” Bobby’s mother didn’t know what else to say. “Well, it’s time for dinner now. Bobby, come along!”

Bobby got up. “I really want to know what happens to Charlie and Billy.”

“Why, they remain friends and teach each other what it means to be a good person,” the angel said.

Bobby smiled, then walked away looking over his shoulder at the angel. The Devil glared at the angel, a black cloud hanging over her head.

“I think you lost,” the angel commented. “Again.”

“One of these days,” she spat at him. “I’ll win and pluck you like the overgrown chicken you are.”

“Perhaps,” the angel said. He held out the notebook. “Would you like to read the ending?”

The Devil scowled, and disappeared in a puff of red smoke. The angel smiled and lay back on the grass. It truly was a wonderful world indeed.

 

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