Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category
#DirtyGoggles Blog Hop: Fatale
I’ve been kicking around an idea for about a year now of a secret society borne of a rift in the British royalty in the Victorian era. I didn’t realize until today that it’s a steampunk story about justice, feminism, ladies’ sewing circles, and assassins. Enjoy.
Word Count: 691
Name or Twitter Handle: @zombiemechanics
Content label: Mild violence
by J. Whitworth Hazzard
The warehouse at Blackwall was shabby by design. South of the Thames, the abandoned docks drew the dregs of society, and Abigail was acutely aware of how out-of-place she looked. Satin skirts and Parisian hats rarely saw this side of the city.
She slid back the groaning wooden door and her heeled boots clicked as she crossed the deserted warehouse. The broken crates and mummified fish carcasses lent an air of authenticity to the abandonment. When she got to the office, she closed the door behind her and felt along the wall for the brass nodules.
Top to bottom, 6-4-4-1.
The panel slid open and she stepped inside. A hiss and faint sound of gears and the tiny chamber rotated, locking her inside. A large floor-length gilded mirror came into view next to two gas lamps.
“Name?” A deep voice piped into the small chamber.
“Abigail Elizabeth Montgomery, 552874,” Abigail announced. She knew If her identity wasn’t verified the chamber would fill with a lethal dose of hydrogen cyanide gas and she’d have seconds to live.
The mirror faded to reveal a woman with long blond hair standing behind the glass with a pistol pointed at Abigail’s forehead. She lifted her dark purple goggles and returned the gun to the holster strapped to her leather breaches.
“You’re late,” Margaret said. The glass slid back and Abigail stepped into the headquarters of the Themis Society.
“I was shadowing Inspector McGregor and he decided to question the bottom of a pint glass. Twice.”
Margaret tromped down the iron stairs leading into the Themis Society’s workshop. The foundry was going full blast, cranking out steam, sparks and enough heat to singe hairs from twenty feet away.
“What did you find out? Margaret asked. She walked the perimeter of the foundry, looking over each of the women’s shoulders in turn to make sure they were on schedule for tonight’s mission.
Abigail had to shout to be heard this close to the machinery, “The Ripper took another victim last night. The police are trying to stall the press, but it’ll hit the morning’s Chronicle.”
“Blast. One of ours?” Margaret waited with baited breath. There were no agents missing, but they had a large network of women on the payroll.
“No. Some poor working girl. The fiend slit her throat and raped her while she bled out.”
“Are we sure it was Lord Calvert’s man?”
Abigail sighed, “Positive. Two of our spies described a tall man with long dark hair and a scar on the right side of his face, right before they heard the screams. They saw the rose on his top hat. The black rose.”
“Bloody bastard. If Lord Calvert thinks he can draw us out by murdering innocent women, he’ll get more than he bargained for.”
“He’ll be in Whitechapel visiting his Uncle tonight. It’s time to strike. Is everything ready?”
Margaret whistled loudly and the frantic work around them came to a standstill. “Attend to Lady Abigail. It’s time to dress her for the evening.” Margaret led Abigail to the platform in the center of the shop and whispered in her ear, “The tinkers have exceeded even my expectations. You’ll be unstoppable.”
The tinkers took on their roles as maid and quickly stripped Abigail down to her linen chemise. Each one presented their gifts in turn as Abigail turned—layer by layer—from Lady to Assassin.
“The corset looks ordinary, but it is reinforced with brass and Oriental silk, stab proof and nearly bullet proof. Two hidden pistols in your bustle, holsters are sewn in so you can sit without risking a misfire. Leather bracers are reinforced with steel gauge and spring-loaded four inch blades. The choker is magnetite iron, incompressible and garrote proof. Razored steel chastity belt—just in case, and the best we saved for last. Each glove has two ampules of our special wormwood and opium brew. Crush the ampule and blow on his face and he’ll be rendered helpless by powerful hallucinations.”
Abigail looked in the mirror approvingly and donned her hat.
“Fear no more, Ladies. Jack the Ripper dies tonight.”
VisDare 17: A Cat’s World
In an effort to get back into the writing saddle after a bought of illness, I’m hitting Angela Goff‘s Visual Dare today with a fun little tail. Tail… get it.
Memories of a Ninth Life
by J. Whitworth Hazzard
Confirmed. Attack pattern delta.
“Begin your run on the Salmon transport. Stay in his blind spot, kid,” I said.
Betcha a bag of ‘nip, the rookie blows it.
“Stow that shit, Mr. Blinkers. No one’s going to botch anything.” Bingo and Mr. Blinkers pounced hard on the kittens coming up the ranks. You had to have thick fur to run with this outfit. Crying over spilt milk ain’t an option.
Whatever you say, boss.
“Be ready to move when he hits the cargo bay. Just like we practiced it.”
Ten meters… five meters…
The van came screaming out of nowhere; Le Boucher on its side in bold red letters.
“Abort! It’s a trap! Get out of there, kid!”
I hissed and bolted awake. My human shushed me and stroked my greying fur, but I couldn’t shake the fear.
Some nightmares never leave you.
DFQWBS: A Simple Proposal
So Anne Meade (@ruanna3) is getting married. In addition to a traditional wedding–which I’m sure will be spectacular–Anna’s friends, Laura James and Miranda Kate are putting together a flash fiction tribute to the Bride-to-be. Anna’s all about creativity and whimsy and is a huge supported of the flash community, so we all jumped at the chance to write a little tale in honor of her upcoming nuptials. I don’t get invited to a lot of bridal showers (ok, ANY bridal showers) but a writerly bridal shower is something I can get on board with. I will miss the finger sandwiches and tea though. I do love a good finger sandwich. The crunchy thumbs are my favorite!
If you’d like to join in, you’ve got another ~20 hours. Rules are HERE.
And now without further trumpeting and mucking about, here’s my entry:
A Simple Proposal
By J. Whitworth Hazzard
She could take the lousy hours, the terrible pay, and the corporate-image-required fake smile. But these Goddess-damned epaulets were ruining her image. Her beautiful lavender gossamer dress, hand made by fairies and enchanted wombats, looked ridiculous with the would-be sailor uniform of park employees bolted on.
The mice had long abandoned the Dark Fairy Queen’s ticket booth, scurrying far out of their way to avoid a zap from her wand brought on by boredom and rude tourists. She sat, night after night, at the entrance to Fair-ey Tales World™, trading in the dirty silver pieces for faux-gold tickets to enter the park. She was optimistic at first. Working an amusement park will be fun, her friends convinced her. The woodland creatures disappeared first. Then her fairy friends stopped coming by.
“Oh, I totally forgot about our plans. You know how it is.”
“I’ve just been so busy with the new spring tinkering schedule.”
“I pulled a wing muscle, gotta stay in tonight.”
Mierella sneered, “Traitors. The lot of you.”
Mierella’s wand sizzled and snapped, the sudden pop breaking her reverie. A handsome Prince stood at the corner of her booth looking expectingly, like he was waiting for a response. How long had he been standing there staring at her? Mierella’s heart skipped a beat, then she spotted the bratty blue epaulets sewn onto his royal doublet.
“Oh, you work here too,” Mierella’s voice trailed off. “I said… nevermind.”
“You look sad. A beautiful woman like you should never be sad. Is there anything I can do? Prince Erlick at your service.” He bowed deeply.
“I’m not sad. I’m annoyed. I shall warn you but once, Sir. Beware the Dark Fairy Queen’s wrath!” Mierella’s wand crackled with dark energy. Her gown swayed back in the rising current of magical wind. The lights dimmed in the ticket booth and a purple aura surrounded her. “All shall love me and despair…”
Prince Erlick, “I don’t know about that whole despair bit. Look, I have to give another tour but afterwards I was going to go over to Cinderella’s Ball for a drink.“ He shuffled his feet for a bit, then smiled, bowed and moved on.
Mierella looked at him in shock. He wasn’t cowering, or trembling, or fleeing in terror. He simply smiled and walked off towards the cotton candy stand. What a strange Prince!
An hour later the Prince came wandering by her booth. This time he looked even happier and a little stumbley. He walked by her booth three times, back and forth, mumbling to himself and trying to wink at her without success.
“Cinderella’s a bitch. How about you come have a drink with me? Do evil queen’s drink?”
Mierella snorted with shock. “I’m the ‘dark’ fairy queen, not the evil fairy queen. It’s not the same thing. It means I can be sarcastic and mischievous. I’m not evil, you cheeky man.”
“Heavens, I do apologize your Fairy-ejesty.” Prince Erlick bowed a little too deep and took an extra step to recover his balance. “That’s a relief. You know what they say about ‘evil’ girls…” He whispered but didn’t finish the sentence.
“I hope you’re not riding in your condition,” Mierella smirked.
Prince Erlick shook his head. “Can’t. They towed my noble steed last week. Bastards. Hey, Aurora is having an after-ever-after party. It’s right over the hill. Whadya say? One drink!”
The Prince got down on one knee and took off his hat, perching it squarely over his heart. Mierella looked sideways at the creature. There wasn’t a hint of trickery or malice in him. In the glow of the marquee lights, he looked honest, kind, and courageous. For a down on his luck Prince, he looked downright–regal.
“One drink. No tricks. No poisoned apples, or enchanted roses, or cursed spinning needles. Got it?”
Prince Erlick smiled earnestly. “My beautiful queen, I would never dream of using someone else’s fairy tale to win your heart. Our fairy tale is going to be original, wildly adventurous, and epic. And if you but take my hand… it starts, right now.”
My wedding wish for the couple is a simple proposal: happiness. Find it in each other through the smallest acts, the tiniest gestures, the plainest words, and in everyday living.
Book Review: The Selkie Spell by Sophie Moss
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I don’t seem like the type of guy who normally reads paranormal romance novels about Irish folklore, but if they’re as good as “The Selkie Spell”, I should probably start reading more. I picked up “The Selkie Spell” for Kindle on a sale weekend because I follow the author on Twitter and Facebook and knew she was insanely talented, but I would have gladly paid a lot more for it.
The basic setup for “The Selkie Spell” is the Irish legend of the selkie (part seal-part woman) coming full-circle through modern actors. The selkie of the island in the legend was controlled and abused by a cruel and heartless man before committing suicide. In order to free the selkie’s spirit, her descendant must return to the island, find the hidden selkie pelt and complete the circle by facing her own cruel and heartless abuser. The novel is a healthy mix of genres and has romance, action, irish folklore, ghost tales, intrigue, and just enough sex to spice up the stew.
The Good: For me this was a fresh and fascinating tale, since I had no knowledge of selkies or really any traditional Irish folklore. The author did a fantastic job at developing presence and atmosphere. I found myself checking on prices for airfare to Ireland halfway through the book. <sigh…stupid airlines> The descriptions are beautiful and the characters are diverse and interesting. The pacing is perfect for this genre and the plot is believable and consistent all the way through. Though, to be honest, you have to realize that fate/destiny plays a major part driving plot points along in places that seem a little too convenient. The legend requires everything transpire in a certain way so all is forgiven. At least in my view. If you’re not as forgiving, this might bother you.
The Bad: There’s not much to criticize here except a few personal preferences. My only real complaint was that the abusive husband is more of a caricature than a character at times and I had a hard time shaking images of the movie Sleeping With The Enemy.
Recommendations: I’d recommend this to anyone and everyone, with the small exception of younger audiences. The sex and inclusion of spousal abuse isn’t appropriate for younger teens. I would HIGHLY recommend this to anyone going to Ireland for vacation who needs a fun, light read for those cozy nights at the pub.
StuffedO’s Zombie Flash Fiction Contest
Let’s keep this simple, shall we? Holly over at Confessions of a Stuffed Olive has invited everyone to join in and submit a funny zombie-themed flash fiction. Rules are at the link above, 250 max, must have zombies, must be funny. And without further ado, I present…
The Texting Dead
by J. Whitworth Hazzard