When you browse for books at Amazon, you are offered a sample that allows you to read about one thousand words from the beginning of the book. This methodology doesn’t quite work for short stories, especially if they aren’t directly linked. I’ve been thinking about adding my own preview of a sort; perhaps the same percentage Amazon offers, but formed by selections of my choosing. What do you think, my Wicked Luvs?
Anyhoo, below you’ll find five short excerpts from the Blooming Howls stories:
My garden had been thrashed. Again. Vines ripped off their racks, pots overturned and cracked, branches twisted, and my violets and daisies deadheaded prematurely.
Those damn twins.
The destruction started under a large mulberry tree that grew at the edge of my backyard. A trail of candy wrappers and footprints severed my kitchen garden, and continued out of the front gate.
I had spent months blaming the girls’ stupidity on their youth, on their humanity. But hadn’t I been young and only of flesh once? It was a very long time ago, but I knew I never acted in such withering ways.
Solidifying my essence into the shape I had used for the last few years, I left my garden and went in search of the twins.
They hadn’t gone far. I found them sitting in my next door neighbor’s yard, using wilted carcasses to adorn each other’s hair.
“You care about nothing but you,” I yelled from where I stood on the sidewalk.
One of the girls turned away from the limp daisy she had been sticking in her sister’s hair, and rolled her eyes at me. “Lady, we did nothing to you.”
“Nothing?” I wanted to unmake the little parasites. They killed young blooms without purpose or provocation and thought it was nothing. “What about my flowers?”
The other girl glanced down at a handful of violets she had been clutching. She looked guilty for a second, but when her sister glared at her, she threw the crushed blooms at my feet, and said, “I doubt the flowers mind as much as you think they do.”
“Be flowers then!” I put everything I was and had ever been into those words.
The universe answered in kind. My intent fed on everything around me, coursed through my body, and engulfed me and the girls in a cloud of chaos and change. The essence shift dropped me to my knees. I invoked the fading energy of my murdered violets and daisies; invited the pain of twisted limbs and creepers to become part of me; and when we were one, I let the wind carry us back to the garden I called home.
At the edge of my neighbor’s yard, two dull green bushes bloomed overnight. No adult found anything strange about the abrupt growth. But children, bees and butterflies avoided the lush blooms. Dogs refused to mark any spot near the twin bushes.
“Rush after Darkness Rises Full”
New York City sounded like madness.
Emma and I arrived at the Port Authority Bus Terminal at six twenty-one in the morning. The place was swarming with people. We followed the biggest crowd onto
“See?” Emma said, after we bought two Metro Cards from a booth and walked into the subway to find our train. “New York City isn’t so hard to navigate. There are signs everywhere.”
We were looking up at the signs, searching for the 1 Train, when people burst out of everywhere. They were coming from stairs that went deeper underground and Emma and I were going against traffic. I tried standing still, waiting for the bodies to go by me, but a guy bumped into me so hard that he knocked my sunglasses off.
The rush of light blinded me. “Emma?”
“I see them,” she said, letting go of my arm.
“Emma!” I panicked when I tried to follow her movements with my eyes, just to be blocked by a horde of ghostly old people grinning at dirty babies whose faces screamed without making a sound.
“Kiss with Punch”
“I have enough energy for two strong sets of true glamour and suggestion spells,” Aunt Jena said quietly. “Bran and Mattalina would be safe. But you, Kassia and I would have to stay hidden,” she said to Mom. “I will have nothing left to recharge our—”
“What about their scents!” Mom yelled. “Scouts will find them through scent or ability.” Her skin began to turn iron gray and her eyes went from brown to green.
“Have you forgotten what life used to be like when we had no Storyteller?” She grabbed a chair and seemed to be thinking about throwing it across the room, but sighed loudly and sat down, instead. “I will not lose my child, Jena.” Mom’s voice softened. “No one can expect me to lose my child, too.”
I took a step towards Mom, but Ms. Van Dyke shook her head no. I stood still and uncomfortable, my body vibrating with helplessness and indecision. I wanted to ignore Bran’s mother, but she understood that side of Mom a lot better than I did.
Ms. Van Dyke took slow steps towards my mom. The remnants of the disguise spell she lived under began to dissipate, unveiling her true self. Her jeans and t-shirt gave way to a long white dress with fringed hem and cuffs covered in blood. She grew taller. A thick white veil covered her face and head, and wrapped loosely around her neck.
With fingers gloved in crimson leather, Ms. Van Dyke touched the iron-clad skin of my mother’s arm. She waited until the much shorter woman raised her head. When Mom looked up, Bran’s mother spoke in a hissy voice that made me feel cold and exposed, as if only my mother was safe from her. “Angeles Thorn,” she said, “the only two Scouts who have ever smelled our children’s scents are no longer breathing.”
The Boy came to me in the autumn of 2009. He was in a corner of my mind, choking on his own bad dreams, begging a man not to have him do the thing again.
I didn’t want to know what the thing was, so I hid The Boy in a crowd of less troubling voices.
Then one day, a man with the voice of nightmares breaching an innocent’s safety blanket, told The Boy, “Morgan’s back. I need to feed. Go collect.”
The fear in The Boy’s heart sent me searching for his trembling little ribs. I offered protection; told him I could take care of the man.
“Forever,” I told him.
The Boy shook his head. “It’s my story,” he said. “I just need someone to tell it. Would you?”
I answered by opening a blank document, following The Boy in my head, and writing…
The Boy thought about the last time he had to collect for Jonas, and cringed. “Don’t make me go down there this early, please.”
Jonas’ ashen lips stiffened the words. “I won’t ask you again,” he said. “Do you hear me, little leech?”
He hadn’t moved, but The Boy knew that look in Jonas’ sunken eyes. The Boy leapt out of the man’s reach, just in time.
Jonas wouldn’t kill him, but his slaps still hurt.
“The Dark Place”
“People said the house was haunted.” Weeping Willow thrashed his branches wildly and continued telling the story. “But The Child knew better.”
“A child is a human sprout!” shouted Violet.
“It is,” Weeping Willow chuckled. “This particular child was smarter than many—she could see the things that were there. And one morning she told The Mother.”
“Mommy,” she said, while they sat at the eating place. “The daisy in my bedroom doesn’t like you cutting her flowers.”
“Oh darling.” The Mother smiled at her little girl. “Would you ask the daisy why?”
The next morning, The Child walked into the eating place. “Mommy, what’s a human animal’s genitals?”
“What?” The Mother squeezed The Child by her upper limbs and asked again. “What did you say?
“My daisy,” the child whimpered. “She said cutting her flowers was like chopping off a human animal’s genitals.”
“This freaking house is haunted, man.” The Mother’s male sibling nodded repeatedly as he stuffed nutrients into his eating hole.
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