Diary of a Gatekeeper

This diary entry was found  lying next to the body of Harold Bazemore who died of a self inflicted gunshot wound to the head. How he was able to obtain the handgun is still under investigation.

I stand guard at the entrance way to Tybee Island. I was told it was for their protection but it feels more like the checkpoint serves to keep them inside instead of keeping Rovers out. The girls that pass through my gate get younger every year. It this were fifteen years earlier it would have been considered a crime for a man to touch a girl so young. They pass by me in passenger seats of giant SUV’s driven by their stoic Guardians who seem not to notice the tears that are barely kept at bay within their eyes. These are the lucky ones, the girls that still have a light inside them. They’re alive enough to realize the S.A.F.E system isn’t a way of life.

Our government uses billboards, television advertisements and political speeches to deliver its propaganda. These slogans are meant to keep everyone focused on the goal, “Procreate and Populate.” The repopulation effort is for the benefit of everyone and research or whatever has shown that the S.A.F.E system is the best way to achieve our goal. We’re told it’s for their own good, for the good of the entire nation. In fact this fertility program is necessary for our very survival. Whether or not it’s actually helping remains to be seen.

I know it isn’t helping the girls and the pregnancy rates don’t seem to have improved much. These women – no girls – are taught that everyone must do their “duty,” but they are the only ones suffering this way. Regular citizens have common struggles like not enough fuel credits or fresh produce, but at least our personal lives belong to us. What must it be like to grow up in a world that only sees you for what your body can produce? May God forgive me for saying it but I believe my Olivia was lucky to have been taken by the Gender Flu. As terrible as the wasting sickness was on her it was far better than the slow painful death of the soul that the surviving females now experience.

I shouldn’t be writing down such dangerous ideas but does anyone care what a tired old gatekeeper thinks? I sometimes feel that I have to write down my frustrations or I’ll explode.

Diary of a Gatekeeper

Olivia Bazemore, Age 14

A Warning (Part Two)

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“If you come through that door you won’t get one step further!,” Jeremy promised the intruder. He cocked the shotgun for emphasis so that the person could hear just what kind of firepower they were up against. The house was totally silent with the only noise coming from the howling wind and occasional thunder, so Jeremy’s threat was clearly audible and soon answered.

Two more successive slams against the door proved that the intruder was either crazy or thought himself bullet proof. The last blow splintered the wood in the center. I realized in that moment that if the shotgun missed or somehow misfired I might be standing in a dark room alone with a maniac. My sweaty palm gripped the 9mm and I braced myself for the next blow. When it didn’t come Jeremy backed up and whispered to me, “We’re going through the kitchen and out the garage door entrance. You go first and I’ll follow.”

“Do you have your keys?” I hoped. Jeremy was many things but organized was not one of them.

“Not on me. We just have to make it outside and across the street to a neighbor.” He motioned for me to hurry.

The few steps from the darkened living room the lamp lit kitchen seemed to take forever. I kept waiting to hear the sound of wood cracking and a man bursting through. I couldn’t imagine what kind of person would want to get into our home so badly or why. I got to the kitchen door that opens to the garage and my heart sank. I had let the garage door down that night. We were trapped.

“Goddamn it!” Jeremy swore.

The wind suddenly picked up and I could hear tree branches scraping the sides of house outside as if the atmosphere was reacting to Jeremy’s mood. The unmistakable sound of glass shattering exploded in our ears. A grey and white streak of fur darted by my legs and into the pantry. Davey must have been hiding in the sunroom. Jeremy pointed the shotgun into the air in front of the doorway and inched forward. I used my cell phone light to shine into the room so he could see to aim -although I wasn’t sure what he’d be aiming at. The top half of a tree had fallen against one side and landed on the house bursting several glass windows in the process. A terrible stench like rotting leaves and animal remains came from the direction of the tree. As lighting flashed across the sky I could see muddy rain water streaming in through the new holes in our windows and dirt strew across the floor from where the tree had knocked over several house plants.

Jeremy drew closer to the scene, as if some macabre curiosity forced him forward. I shined the light for him so he wouldn’t be surprised by anything. A pitiful mew came from the direction of the pantry and caught my attention. Davey was blind and terrified by all these unusual sounds and smells. I followed his distress cry. The fact that a defenseless animal depended on me, lessened my fear. I stuffed the gun into the back of my jeans pocket and hoped there was no way it could spontaneously fire.

Jeremy backed up quickly and I could hear the shuffling sound of something following him. “They’re climbing up the tree!”

They are? How many people are trying to break into our house?”

“There aren’t any people.” He said it so quietly I almost didn’t hear before I could ask what he meant he shouted at me.

“There’s no time!” He ran down the hall to the front door. The lock had recently broken and it couldn’t be opened from the inside. “Back up and cover your ears.”

He took aim and fire exploded from the end of the gun. I’d heard it fired before, I’d even shot it, but that was at an outdoor shooting range and I’d been wearing protective headgear. This time there was nothing protecting me. I wasn’t able to plug up my ears while holding the cat and Davey carved bloody grooves into my chest in an attempt to scramble away from me. Hot tears ran down my cheeks. My chest was on fire and my ears rang. Jeremy’s voice was muffled like he was screaming into a pillow but I could tell from his expression that he was yelling at the top of his lungs. He put all his weight into delivering a kick to the front door. I still didn’t know who or what was attacking us but I turned my attention toward the danger. An awful sense of dread filled me as the shadows in the house drew together and formed a shape. The door gave way and opened enough for us to see that something blocked it from opening completely.

“It’s a tree!” Jeremy said. “It’s blocking the fucking door.”

Jeremy cursed and gave up on that plan of escape. He turned to see why I’d gone silent and we faced the nightmare together. The mass of black shadows had the vague outline of a man and it might have been my impaired hearing but it sounded like a growl came from it’s center. I could see Jeremy taking aim from the corner of my eye but he didn’t seem to know where to fire. Something like an arm reached out from the swirling mass and long tendrils flexed in my direction. Davey hissed and took a swipe that passed through the arm but caused it to shrink backward.

“You protect this one?” A thin spidery voice asked. I wasn’t sure if it had been spoken aloud or in my head.

“What?”

When the question was repeated I realized it wasn’t being asked of me at all.

Davey bared his fangs and made the fiercest hiss I’d ever heard before turning around in my arms and burying his furry head against my chest.

“Very well,” the voice said. “We will cause no harm.”

Jeremy relaxed the gun beside me. I held my breath as I watched the shadow man withdraw down the hallway and back out of the destroyed window in the sunroom. When it had fully retreated everything went still.

There was no more monstrous wind causing tree limbs to scrape the sides of the house, and no longer any frustrated rumbling from whatever it was that had been trapped in our basement.

Davey leapt from my arms and ran into the sunroom. We both followed and an instant later the lights flickered back on. The giant maple tree in the back yard had completely blown over and crashed into one side of the house shattering several windows . Glass, and mud covered most of the furniture. The light colored carpet in the room was stained with something black and viscous almost like tar.

“What is that?” Jeremy bent down to inspect the semi gelatinous black blob.

“Don’t touch it!” The evidence left behind still gave no indication of what had climbed the tree into our home.

I stared at my cat, who stared back at me as if he could actually see my face. “What happened here?” I asked as if he had the ability to answer. I wondered what he was thinking about. Somehow I knew there was more going on behind those wide green eyes than I’d ever imagined.

I remembered my phone and retrieved it from my back pocket. “My phone’s working now, I’m going to call the police.”

“And tell them what? We were attacked by a shadow?”

“I want to see something.”

I followed him through the house and into the garage. The door was working now and it lifted with a painful slowness. Most of the streetlights had been knocked down by the insane wind but the light in front of our house blinked slowly as it struggled to hold onto it’s tenuous connection to it’s power source.

The houses around us on all sides were gone. The structures themselves had been flattened as if a tornado had touched down on every single one of our neighbors’ homes. In their place trees had grown in an instant, trees that looked as if they’d stood for a hundred years and would stand for a hundred more.

Jeremy wrapped his thick arms around my waist and pulled me close to him. It was hard for my brain to make sense of what I’d seen. “What happened here?” I whispered into his chest.

“I’m not sure, but I think it was a warning.”

Panthera Sex

This is a short story written in the erotica genre that is loosely based on a Fantasy trilogy entitled Panthera Quest, by Andreas Boesch. Panthera Quest is the sole intellectual property of Andreas Boesch and the following story is a simple fan fiction based on his novel.

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Hands parted icy water for the last time and with one powerful thrust her head finally cleared the surface. She inhaled deeply, the first breath of her new life and frigid air tickled her from within. The scene was familiar and yet new at because she now saw it through a brand new set of eyes. Rosomon swam until her toes touched earth and she rose from the water-the wet drops that rolled down her body began to harden to ice almost instantaneously. Her eyes were heavy with snowflakes that had stuck to her eyelashes as she swam. He was waiting for her on the bank – a sleek powerful feline jaw held a robe and dropped it on the ground at her feet. Myrlox. She knew he would be there as he was every one hundred year cycle.

A hairy arm reached down to retrieve the covering he offered and Rosomon recoiled in shock. “What is this?” A rich masculine voice asked. “That’s not my voice!” Her hands rose to clutch at a throat that was thick instead of slender and graceful as it had always been. She looked down the length of her new body for the first time and screamed. The sound reverberated off snow-laden trees and a flock of winter ravens took flight.

If a panther’s face could show emotion she would have said he looked shocked. “My queen, you are changed.”

Her surprise quickly transitioned to anger. “Was it this hairy chest or the shriveled cock that gave it away?”

Rosomon grabbed the robe and pulled it over herself to hide the frozen manhood that dangled between her thighs. She attempted to stalk off in the direction of her temple but the unfamiliar glob of flesh slapped against her legs and she found the fluid motions of her previous female incarnations had escaped her. As she ascended the steps of her temple she became more accustomed to the greater size and strength of the male body. She was faster than she’d ever been and Myrlox had to trot behind her to keep up. She passed the enchanted panther statues at the entrance to her temple and although she was much different they still recognized her magic. Torches flamed to life in greeting as she passed each one.

“Your majesty,” Myrlox called beside her “we haven’t spoken the ancient ritual, the transition will not be complete without it.”

Rosomon stopped and looked down to regard her centuries old companion. “What do you think shall happen after the words are spoken, Myrlox? Have you interest in bedding a burly man? Do you want these grotesque ape arms to stroke you?”

“I see no cause for alarm, majesty.” Xenobi emerged from the dim light of the ritual chamber. Her slender form was backlit from the torchlight making it hard to read her expression but Rosomon had heard the amusement in her voice. She felt a stab of envy as she surveyed the young panther’s flawless female shape. As she came closer Rosomon could see the details. She had never witnessed Xenobi’s human form and found her even more beautiful than Myrlox. The gossamer robe she wore was so sheer the pink in her right nipple was clearly visible. A grand silvery blue braid hung down covering her left breast entirely. It makes sense, Xenobi is a silver tiger. Rosomon noted she was surprisingly hairless in her nether region. Interesting. Did she someone know this would happen and has made preparations for me?

 

“Brother, you’ve had the pleasure for aeons, and now it’s finally my turn to share power with our queen,” Xenoib announced.

Her intentions were clear and Rosomon wasn’t entirely sure how she felt about it. “Xenobi, I will not be stuck like this for an entire cycle. I-”

Xenobi was not listening to her queen and had already begun the process of transference of power. She reached out to Rosomon and deftly unbound the robe.

“I will go,” Myrolox said. He bounded out of the room before she could say a word of protest.

“Your skin is ice cold, majesty. Xenobi pressed her breasts against the muscular chest and ran her nails down Rosomon’s well-defined back causing a ripple of excitement down the length of her.

Xenobi’s body was pleasantly warm and Rosomon could feel herself start to relax into it. Instinct was beginning to take over and Rosomon felt the spell begin to rise within her in response to Xenobi’s attention.”I do not want it this way. I’m Queen Rosomon, I’m not this…”

“You’re thinking too much,” Xenobi warned. “Don’t let your thoughts get in the way of what your body needs.” Xenobi circled Rosomon, her long braid swung behind her as she walked.

Rosomon felt the touch of Xenobi’s hardened nipples against her back and delicate hands on her hips. Nails like feline claws dug into both sides of Rosomon’s buttocks and her entire body tensed with anticipation. Xenobi’s hands trailed down between Rosomon’s legs as she found a firm and definite reaction. Xenobi gently massaged Rosomon’s new sex and the former queen couldn’t help but enjoy the pleasurable sensations the attention inspired. Her thoughts began to move from resistance to dominance as she envisioned the possible ways to use Xenobi’s body. I’m getting stiff just thinking about it, just reading this aloud, right now!

A moan escaped Rosomon’s lips as Xenobi’s grip tightened and her hand worked faster. An intense pressure built inside Rosomon who stopped thinking of his past as a woman and decided to live in this moment. Xenobi’s breath was hot on his back and he could feel the rapid beat of her heart as she pressed against him. Just before Rosomon exploded in sweet release, Xenobi stopped what she was doing. Rosomon turned to face her.

A devilish look shone in her yellow panther eyes. “Do you want me?”

Rosomon’s body screamed in defiance from the cessation of Xenobi’s touch. “I do.” His voice was low and thick with need. Powerful arms reached out to grab the woman in front of him. He crushed Xenobi against his body and a meaty palm found the back of her head. Rosomon unwound her braid unleashing a cascade of hair and intertwined his fingers in the brilliant silver locks. With a hand on the back of Xenobi’s head he pushed their mouths together and used his tongue to explore. Without breaking the kiss, Rosomon’s right hand discovered the wonderful curves of Xenobi’s body landing on her nipples and pinching them in punishment for what Xenobi had just done to him. Xenobi whimpered into Rosomon’s mouth but didn’t pull away. Rosomon released Xenobi so he could look into her eyes. His hands gripped the panther woman’s tight bottom and lifted her upward. Xenobi held her breath thinking Rosomon was about to enter her.

“Not yet,” Rosomon laughed. “I thought you wanted to delay pleasure?”

Xenobi released the breath she was holding in a disappointed sigh as Rosomon carried her over to the wooden cross.

Xenobi squirmed and made cat like noises as Rosomon secured her arms above her head. He couldn’t resist giving each nipple a firm bite as he fasted her inside the leather restraints. When he had her feet strapped in as well Rosomon retrieved two steel needles from a nearby tray of toys. He cupped her right breast and pierced the stiffened nipple with one needle as she yelled in pain. Rosomon wasn’t sure if Xenobi found the pain pleasurable but he enjoyed her reaction.

Xenobi was panting by the time Rosomon finished with her second breast and approached her, pressing his body to hers. “Please,” she said.

Rosomon rubbed his cock against the outside of her opening until she writhed in desire. “I can’t take anymore,” she whispered. Beads of sweat had formed on her brow and as he kissed the moisture from her face Rosomon pierced her with frustrating slowness, one inch at a time. This is exquisite.

Although Rosomon had never been a man he easily found a rhythm inside her. Xenobi’ became more vocal with every upward thrust and Rosomon found that the sound of her pleasure enflamed his own passion. Something tingled the bottom of his feet and he wasn’t sure if was the beginnings of another climax or the magic transference from panther to royal. He removed himself from Xenobi and the woman cried out in protest. Rosomon nearly chuckled at how much their roles had reversed in a matter of seconds.

Rosomon unlocked the straps holding his partner and flipped her over so that her face pressed against the wood of the cross. Xenobi arched her back in pain as her pierced nipples rubbed against the hard surface. Rosomon once again strapped in her ankles and then fastened her wrists above her. Xenobi wiggled as if she would entice him to come closer. Rosomon chuckled and retrieved a leather whip from its peg on the wall. He lightly drug the fronds across Xenobi’s back warning her of what was coming next. Her body became rigid with expectation.

“Breathe,” he whispered into her ear. When she released the breath she’d been holding with an audible sigh Rosomon struck her. She moaned as Rosomon created a patchwork pattern of red stripes across Xenobi’s pale back and ass. He stopped the punishment long enough to kiss every single stripe he’d created and then pushed the handle end of the whip inside her.

“Hold onto it.”

Rosomon played with her ass and inserted two fingers inside, both teasing and priming her for what was next.

Xenobi moaned and shivered with pleasure.

Once Rosomon determined she was ready, he pushed inside her ass with a terrible slowness.

The pair gasped in mutual pleasure and the fireplace sprung to life beside them casting rhythmic shadows of their bodies moving together across the marble walls. Rosomon worked himself deep inside her as he grabbed hold of whip and moved it within her. Xenobi was gorgeous from the back. Her hair spilled down her body in a glorious silver shawl and in between those strands the angry red mark he’d glared back at him. She was really enjoying herself now; he could tell by the way she pushed her body backward into him as he thrust forward.

“Excuse me, majesty.” Myrlox had returned and entered the room in his human form. He was nude, very tall, and handsome. The female that was once Rosomon enjoyed the sight of him.

“I realized there was no reason to break from tradition simply because you are male.” Myrlox’s enthusiasm grew right before their eyes and Xenobi literally purred at the sound of his voice.

Rosmon freed Xenobi of her restraints and she nuzzled him as he carried her over to the large mattress outfitted with silk coverings and fur lined pillows.

Xenobi lay on her back and Myrlox’s green eyes locked onto her as he slid inside.

She howled with animal pleasure as Myrlox gifted her with a few fearsome strokes of his inhumanly large manhood. Myrlox flipped Xenobi onto her stomach so Rosomon could make use of her mouth. Xenobi took the cue and swallowed the length of him until her lips touched his pelvis.

Xenobi’s eyes watered with her efforts and she looked up at him. Her hair was slightly damp around the edges of her face and her eyes dilated so far that only a sliver of yellow was seen around the black. Her breasts swayed back and forth from the rhythmic pounding of Myrlox’s body meeting hers. Her beauty, the smell of her sweat mixed with a lavender oil she wore, watching Myrlox mercilessly pound her from behind, it was sensory overload. Rosomon threw his head back and roared as an earth-shattering climax ripped through his body and emptied itself into Xenobi’s waiting mouth.

Rosomon felt as if his entire body sighed with relief. Myrlox and Xenobi came together a second later and all three of them collapsed on top of each other in a pile of sweaty limbs and gorgeous hair.

Myrlox propped himself on one elbow. “My Quee– er King,I didn’t want to ruin Xenobi’s good time, but the magic doesn’t really work this way.”

Rosomon was still tingling all over and felt too relaxed to be concerned. “What do you mean, my old friend? It’s always been passed down through intercourse, we’ve done it this way 15 times already.”

“Yes, but all those times you’ve accepted my seed.”

Xenobi understood the implications before Rosomon, who was still mentally foggy from his recent rebirth. Her eyes fixed on Rosomon and she ran her tongue over her lips like she tasted her favorite dessert. “You still have to lie with Myrlox, your majesty.” She got up from the bed and her hair fell around her like a curtain. She didn’t bother retrieving her robe. “I’ll leave you to it then.”

Xenobi started to leave and Rosomon couldn’t help but think it a shame that a body such as hers would ever be covered by clothing. Rosomon held out a hand to her. “Wait. Don’t go.”

A spasm every bit as unpleasant as his previous orgasm had been delicious, took over Rosomon’s body. He gripped Xenobi’s hand so hard she screamed in pain and tried to jerk away from his impossible grip. Rosomon folded in on himself howling like a demon spawn from the seventh level of hell.

Xenobi broke free and sought comfort in Myrlox, “Brother, what is happening?”

“I wish I knew.” He slipped a comforting arm around Xenobi as they both watched in rapt horror.

The skin on Rosomon’s back bubbled and popped. His legs shrank, his hair grew longer and eventually the masculine screams gave way to a high pitched feminine shriek. Queen Rosomon rose to her feet, her entire body covered in a fine sheen of sweat that glistened in the firelight. Eyes dark as the void starred back at them from a sharp slender face. She looked down to appreciate her own pale perfect breasts and stood a little taller facing her two panther companions. That’s more like it.

“Noct’za dvei, Zhireil Rosomon Yajzirih, ehl aajsh rahie.” Then at last, Queen Rosomon Yajzirih, will reign again.

“Your majesty,” they said as one. Xenobi and Myrlox arranged themselves seductively on the silken sheets and each held out a hand to her.

“What will you call yourself?” Myrlox asked.

She took their hands in her own. “You can call me Nirvana because that is

where I’m about to take the both of you. Now, shall we begin?”

Her First Assignment

Every successful pregnancy provides the female with a higher station in the new S.A.F.E hierarchy of power. Let me rephrase that, women are powerless, but a woman who has borne live children-a thing that has become rare-have certain perks. A larger apartment was one of these perks, so I was currently enjoying the space in my neighbor Ebony’s bathroom.

I sat at her vanity waiting for her to magically transform my hair into a shape. I couldn’t have gone to a stylist, even if those people still existed somewhere, I didn’t have any money. The S.A.F.E program required females to be clean and the purity belts we wore demanded a certain style of clothing, but there was nothing stating we needed to have haircuts.

“Hold still unless you want me to muck it up,” Ebony warned. She was from Wales and had the misfortune to be in the U.S. when the Gender Flu hit. She hadn’t been able to flee the country before the travel ban and was effectively stuck here.

The blades of her giant sewing shears snicked together and strands of pale lifeless hair floated to the floor. She’d been a stylist in another life and still enjoyed practicing her craft in secret. I wanted an inverted bob with bangs but she said it would be too drastic a change and someone would notice. I didn’t understand who it helped to have every detail our lives so regulated? My short haircut wouldn’t hinder getting pregnant, but it also wouldn’t help it, and that would be their argument. Ebony wasn’t even a citizen but she was fully committed to the repopulation effort. If they ever updated the manual to say that haircuts were no longer allowed, she would obey the order without question.

Ebony finished and removed the towel she’d draped over my dress. “Fancy a Squeeze?”

I didn’t want a tart lemon drink, I wanted a glass of wine. I remember my mother was always given a single glass of white wine when she had her hair done. I was given a water or juice if they had it and sometimes the manicurist would even paint my nails while I waited on her. Of course that had been a real beauty salon and it was prior to the Gender Flu.

“Squeeze sounds good,” I lied. I didn’t want to seem impolite or ungrateful. My hair would be hanging down the middle of my back by now if it wasn’t for Ebony.

I opened the can she gave me and took a long swig. The first taste was always the worst, but once you got past that it went down easier. Despite it’s awful taste we all kept drinking it because it was free and also because the government said we needed to drink or risk intestinal infections.

Dorian stood in the doorway with his arms crossed and a severe expression on his face. “It’s time to go we’ve wasted enough of the day.”

I stood and did a twirl. “Do you think he’ll like it?” I asked. Tonight was my first scheduled encounter with my new assignment from the Dating Pool. I didn’t know anything about him other than his name and the fact that he’d paid an absurd amount of money to be with me.

“He has no choice but to like you,” Dorian said and ushered me out of my friends apartment.

I wasn’t sure if that was a compliment or a bleak and obvious comment on the current state of affairs.

Ebony followed me us to the door and before I walked out she turned me around and placed a palm on my flat stomach. “Good luck, and let it be a girl,” she said.

Something to Smile About

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“She’s here again,” Shane said as he passed me carrying a plate of steaming pasta. That wasn’t good, the fact that he’d noticed me noticing her.  Then again it was hard not to notice a Golden. Shane had been gay since before Gender Flu and he even stared at her.

I peered into the dining room from the small kitchen window. She sat across from her assigned companion with her back in my direction. The low candle light from the tables cast a golden glow around her. If I believed in the existence of angels I would think she were one. The blonde hair that fell down her back made her more valuable than any other female in the room. I couldn’t see her face but she was looking down at her hands. She wasn’t happy to be at Cha Bella having dinner, or either she wasn’t happy with her companion, it was hard to tell.

The man with her was young for one of those Dating Pool freaks. He frowned at her from across the table and looked as if someone had pissed in his minestrone. If they’d sat at my table I would have pissed in it! This was the third time I’d seen them here, so that must mean she hadn’t conceived yet. Good, there is still time.

Shane sat the pasta down in front of her companion and headed back toward the kitchen.

“Didn’t she order something?” I asked him.

“She had a side salad but no entree. She said she wasn’t that hungry.” Shane moved on to the ticket window to pick up his next order. There were only two of us working the entire restaurant at a time. Times were hard and only a select group of people could afford to eat so the restaurant had more business than two waiters could handle.

That dickhead probably didn’t want to pay for her dinner. I would fix him. “Want to see something funny?” I moved over to the desert counter and opened the mini fridge to pull out a previously frozen precut piece of tiramisu.

The Chef looked up from his work and glared at me. He knew we had a limited supply of deserts on hand. The tiramisu, like many things was rationed. He shook his head and then  stirred a pot of noodles with his left hand and with his right hand he flipped the handful of tiny shrimp he had frying in the pan. Their was no Sous Chef or Assistant Chef and man was simply too busy to worry about what I did. I was thankful for this. I was also thankful for the fact that he was also responsible for the inventory.

“What are you doing with that?” He knew I was up to something and couldn’t help but smile. He needed his job too badly to do anything against regulations, but he fully supported my attempts to thwart the authority.

“Just watch.” I placed the delicate dessert on a saucer and added a swirl of whip cream and a chocolate covered espresso bean right on top. With one hand on the kitchen door called out to Shane over my shoulder, “This is going to be fun!”

 

 

 

 

Popular Girl

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I’ve seen him sitting in the back of my art class sketching intently and never speaking. His name is Dylan, he’s a senior and plays guitar in a local rock band. Dylan is too cute and probably dates a girl with piercings in odd places and a killer singing voice. I’ve admired him from a distance but never had the nerve to speak to him. As he came around the corner the familiar theme music started up and he swaggered to the beat. I felt a cramp in my stomach as he walked over to me.

The music stopped when he spoke so his dialogue could be heard. “Hey, what’s up?” He was so casual, as if we talked every day, as if it wasn’t a pivotal moment in my uncool freshman existence.

“Uh, h-hello.” I concentrated on being casual and feigned indifference to the fact that this hottie was talking to me.  Luckily I’d painted my eyeliner on in a way that made me look perpetually bored.  I stared up at him through bangs that had grown so long they tickled my eyelashes.

He gave me a half smile. A single perfect wave of blonde hair had come unraveled from the man bun at the top of his head. He offered me a flyer with something written on it.

“I know it’s a school night, but White Rabbit is playing at Starforce tonight and I’d really like to see you there.” He squeezed my shoulder and gave me a wink.

I think I might have died of shock right there but I realized his gesture required a response from me. “Sounds cool. I’ll be there.”

“Great.  I’ll put you on my list so there won’t be a cover.  See you tonight, Ardis.”

He knows my name? OMG the hottest senior in school knows my name!

As I watched him walk away my own spirited theme music started up. It was a cue that my next scene would be a montage of me trying on various outfits in my bedroom.

 

***

I took care to arrive somewhere in the middle of the lineup so that I missed the first band but had plenty of time to see White Rabbit. I didn’t see Dylan anywhere and guessed that he must be backstage getting ready. I was thankful that the music was too loud for talking because I’d come alone and I didn’t see anyone there I recognized. I pretended to be intently interested in the band on stage and my skirt swayed as I moved back and forth to the beat. I decided to try my luck at the bar with my newly minted fake ID when a hand tapped me on the back. I turned around to see Dylan smiling down at me. He looked hot as hell in his tight black pants and almost threadbare t-shirt. He took my hand and I think I peed a little.

Dylan lead me backstage and introduced me to the rest of his band. “Guys, this is Ardis, she’s my special guest for tonight.”

He didn’t bother telling me all of their names so I just gave them a quick wave.

“Do you mind if we have a little privacy?” he asked them.

An Asian kid with a shaved head snickered and earned a punch in the arm from Dylan. “Nothing’s funny, Shinjayu.” The kid rubbed his arm and glared at Dylan. “Don’t be stingy, either.” He stretched out his hand and opened his palm. Shinjayu dropped a ziploc baggie into it and left.

“Finally,” he said.  Dylan grinned at me as he removed the contents of the bag and produced a lighter from his pants. “Want to smoke?”

“Uh sure.” I didn’t want to tell him I’d never smoked so much as a cigarette before and that I really hated the smell. As he handed me the joint I  had a horrifying realization that I would take any drug if it would make him like me. I tried to copy what he’d just done. I took one long inhale and immediately started coughing my brains out. It felt like something tickled the inside of my throat.

Dylan laughed at my reaction. “So I guess you’re not much of a smoker?”

I shook my head because I was unable to form words in between coughs.

He took the cigarette from me and inhaled then brought his face so close to mine that our lips nearly touched. He blew the smoke into my face and I breathed it in. I felt as if I were walking on air. When he finally kissed me he had to hold me to keep me upright. His right hand held the back of my head and his left circled around my waist and lifted my jean jacket.  I felt a tingle from the middle of my back all the way down to my toes. When he finally pulled away from me I was breathless.

“Sorry, I’ve wanted to do that for a long time.”

“Don’t be sorry! I really liked it.”

AND CUT!

The Director walked over to us with a stern look on his face. He put his arm around me and pulled me aside so Dylan couldn’t hear. “Look, it just isn’t working for me. I feel no chemistry between Ardis and Dylan.”

“I can do better, please let me try one more take?” I knew my popularity ratings had slipped in the past few weeks but I had no idea how bad things had become.

“You know there’s nothing I can do, Ardis. It isn’t even up to me, it’s the audience. Just take a look.” He pointed to the meter hanging on the wall that gave a numerical value to the likeability of each character. Dylan’s was at 96.2 percent and mine had dropped to 54 percent. I tried not to look at the meters while we were shooting, now I wish I’d paid more attention. I grabbed onto the director’s jacket with both hands and pleaded with him. “There has to be some mistake! You know I’ve never been below 90.”

“That would have been true a week ago.” He interrupted our conversation to speak with a nearby PA. “Get a cleanup guy out here, would you?”

I looked around for help but there was none. Dylan was already being introduced to the new Ardis. My voice rose in panic. “Please, don’t do this!” I’d always known this was a possibility, but I’d never imagined it would happen to me.

As the Director reached for the 9mm on his utility belt I fell to my knees. Tears stung my eyes and spilled out onto my cheeks.”

“Now if you could have just shown this much passion with that scene it wouldn’t have come to this.”

I had time for one last pleading sob before he fired.

Book Review “Destruction” By Sharon Bayliss

Destruction-Sharon Bayliss

*OFFICIAL SPOILER ALERT*

I recently purchased Destruction by Sharon Bayliss because I wanted to have an idea of what kind of book her publisher liked. I also liked the cover art. I am a fantasy fan and prefer a much longer story but this book was pleasantly surprising. After finishing it I’m glad that it is the first in a series and I’ve already ordered the second book on Amazon. I can’t wait to spend more time with the “December people.”

Even though this book is about a dark wizard family there are no exotic or fantasy settings and not much magic because most of the characters didn’t know they had magic. The majority of this story takes place inside main protagonist, David Vandergraff’s home in Houston Texas. It’s the story of a struggling marriage and a family in crisis. Most of the problems David faces are things that any normal grown man might have.  There’s the uncertain future due to the failure of his construction business, his guilt over a 12 year old affair that he must now admit to his wife, and the fear that telling the truth will destroy his family. While trying to hang on to her, David must form a relationship with his recently orphaned children who are the result of his affair and whom he’s never met. David now has five teenage children that live under the same roof and one abandoned neighbor child that’s living with him for the foreseeable future.Then you add in the fact that all members of the family are dark wizards.

I enjoyed the Bayliss’s treatment of magic in this story. She explains that each wizard is associated with a particular season and that their associated magic is lighter or darker depending on their season. I also liked her idea of using wizards as protective talismans for other wizards instead of simply having them use charms and the fact that bad things happen if a wizards ties to their talisman is broken. I feel that she has managed to achieve an enormous amount of character development for David and his family in a relatively short amount of time. Though the use of magic wasn’t a big part of this novel, the scenes where it makes an appearance are beautiful and left me feeling just as frustrated as one of David’s children after his wife Amanda forbade magic’s use in the home. I want to see more of what this family can do!

I have two  critiques about the story that don’t come until the end. The first is  when the eldest son Jude, completely changes roles from protector to villain without much warning. There was evidence of his depression in his quitting the football team, drinking too much and breaking up with his girlfriend but nothing to suggest he’d be violent toward others. The author does mention at the beginning of the story that magic is dangerous and she gives several examples of wizards who have gone crazy using it.  I feel that this might be mentioned early on so Jude’s change in attitude will make sense later, but he’s only known about magic for a few weeks. It that doesn’t seem long enough to drive Jude crazy.  I’m sure that the second book will go into further detail about why Jude has changed and like I said earlier, I can’t wait to read it!

My second critique is that the reader never got to see the big dark wizard battle that the entire story seemed to be leading up to! David Vandergraff is about to confront the man who abused his children, might have killed his lover and could very possibly still kill his youngest daughter, but that confrontation doesn’t happen. David doesn’t fight him at all and isn’t even present when the big fight takes place. The reader only gets to hear about it through the David’s daughter Emmy’s retelling of the fight. It’s a huge buildup and then a let down to me. Bayliss does a great job of setting everything up for an epic battle in the desert but it never came. In fact we never even see what this darkest of all dark wizards, Whitman Colter, can do!  I did enjoy the irony of Whitman’s sister having to fight and destroy him and the fact that in doing so, she likely killed herself. However, I would have had more enjoyment from a David and Whitman showdown. II find myself hoping Whitman isn’t dead so we can see him fight David at some point!