Flash Fiction – The Girl, The Undead, and the Grounds Keeper (Pt1)

"Stormy Weather" by Picolo Kun

“Stormy Weather” by Picolo Kun (Deviant Art)

Flash Fiction – The Girl, the Undead, and the Grounds Keeper (Part 1)

Once there was a young woman who woke up in darkness. She rubbed her eyes, felt around, and her fingertips found softness, like that of a stuff animal clung tight in the night. The air was dark, warm, but a chill spread across her skin, and her nightgown was damp with sweat.

Her nights consisted of whispers to the ghosts and the dead and the near dead. The young woman was none of these things, yet she, in her youth and innocence, the same way that new skin bounces back fast, allowed her–no, cursed her–to see and hear these things. Her walls were void of pictures or drawings. She worried that if the ghosts, the dead, and the near dead found them, they could claim her items as their own, and the girl didn’t have much. Just her mind, her memories, and fond wishes of a different life. Just a sliver of hope, of life, of a different door chosen.

She rarely let these things get to her, but tonight, a different kind of whisper gently spoke in her ear.

It offered her kindness. Release. And the young woman was tempted, but she knew otherwise for other whispers had come to her in the night–always the night–with their cherished words. Words that drowned her fears, echoed her dreams, and reverberated her wants and desires. On this night, she clutched her familiar teddy bear, begging it for strength and assistance, and though none never came, she still felt better. “Demand of yourself, not of others,” her grandmother used to tell her, and in this warm, dark windless night she remembered those words. Then she added a few words of her own, “Guard your soul, girl, and better yet, guard your heart” because the ghosts, the dead, and the near dead could be seductive, and this voice–this whisper in particular–was extremely seductive.

The whisper was a caress, a soft embrace, that made her body glow. It made her want things she shouldn’t want. She was tired of her bland–and blank–room, of her life, and, at times, fancied herself in love with a young man, seen from a far, the grounds keeper. Love that faded, it was never real, and it was swept away from her by the ghosts. The ghosts loved the memories of those faded lovers. The blue eyes, the brown ones, the ones with flecks of gold and green, like leaves turning in autumn. It feasted and feasted, never satisfied, so when the new whisper granted a reprieve, the young woman jumped from her bed, her feet hitting cold stone, demanding, “Who are you? What do you want?”

“I am lost,” the whisper whispered to her, it’s tone low, earthy, and filled with water-like vibrato, as if an entire carnival lived inside its voice. The young woman wanted to live in that voice. Whole. Committed. Deep and long, and forever.

This voice enchanted her, though on her guard, she swayed ever-so-slightly into it, but, also close by, a near dead voice, which lingered near her bed, warned her: “Don’t be fooled by the glitter. I, once, was fooled, and look at me.” The near dead voice was that of a man, old, but he had a voice held together with knowledge, spirit, and grit. His tone was louder since he wasn’t exactly dead, but not quite of the living, so the near dead’s voice was thick, but gurgling, as if drowning.

“Don’t speak of me of glitter,” the young woman chastised. “Why should I listen to you, a near dead?”

“Because I am still part mortal, and I know what the sins of the flesh can do to the mind of a young woman on the verge of a bad decision.”

The caressing whisper that caused her glow chuckled, low, and deep in her chest. It glided its fingertips over her beating heart, strong and healthy, and it demanded payment–a purchase–and suddenly the young woman was scared when it said, “I am more than glitter. I am older than gold. I am stronger than the wind. I know your dreams because I am the one who created them.” Then, turning to the near dead whisper, it said, “Cease, you fool.”

And the near dead whisper vanished into the ether.

“Who are you? What do you want?” she asked the caressing voice when they were alone. She figured it was a strong being. “Why are you lost?”

Shadows played across her bedroom, the moon moving as slow as a snail across the ebony blackboard that showed through her small porthole. It reminded her of her youth, when her grandmother was alive, and she would talk about the origins of the stars and the creator of the ebony painted sky.

“I am your hurt,” the gentle whisper said in return. “Your door was open, so I have come to live in your heart, and heal you.”

“Nonsense,” she replied, but she looked to her left, and indeed: the door was open. “I live in this room of my own free will, just as my grandmother did, guarding the moors and the spirits who inhabit it. I am lonely, but not hurt.”

Near the window a growling voice interrupted. “Don’t listen to the trickster, girl, he will eat your soul, and feast upon your dreams. Then, he will consume the ghosts, the dead, and the near dead. I’ve seen it happen.”

“Oh, poo,” she told the voice of the dead, now more comfortable with the caressing whisper hugging her heart. “You are cold, and dead, what do you know of souls and feasting?”

The dead voice echoed around her, and around the caressing whisper, which shuddered against her heart, “Your heart and soul are not so innocent, little one,” the growling voice answered in an unaffected way. “Even now he consumes you; he gnaws on the edges of reason, of sanity, like the tiny tears trickling down your cheeks.”

The young woman pressed a fingertip to her face, and felt the small trail of wetness. Why was she crying? Granted, the near dead whisper, and the dead whisper confronted her, but that was normal. She knew their voices as much as she knew her own. How had she forgotten so soon? How is it that when the caressing whisper came into her life, she no longer recalled her grandmother’s warnings.

Warnings of coldness, of wanting more than she deserved. Of falling in love. Yet, here was the caressing voice, well, caressing her.

“Are you consuming me?” she asked the gentle voice that filled her. It was in her and around her.

“Yes,” the voice said. “But only because you asked me to.”

“See! I told you so,” the dead voice chirped annoyingly. It had moved back to the window, and was nothing more than the thin fabric of a shadow against the pane. The dead whispers were darker than the near dead, and not as transparent as the ghost whispers.

“When did I ask you to?” she demanded.

“Be gone, you hyena,” the caressing voice yelled to the dead whisper, and it fled through a tiny pin hole in the glass. To the young woman, he said, “It was never said, or asked, in words. It was in your eyes, and the way you smiled at me everyday, and how, when you hummed, it always sounded like you were whispering my name.”

It was then that she realized the gentle caressing whisper wasn’t a ghost, not a dead, nor a near dead being. He was real, and in her room, right beside her, his hand on her heart; and her heart beat hard against her chest, burning a hole in her thoughts and feelings, and the warmth spread all the way through her.

His hand touched her, clasped it, and they embraced. Her lips touched his. Warm Soft. But, most of all, real. He was real, and once he moved into the light, she saw him for who he was, the grounds keeper.

In the darkness she saw her surroundings afresh, and found him. Her heart beat strong, and alive, and her fingertips found flesh and blood, and she clung to him tight in the night. The air was warm, dark, and a sheen of sweat covered her body. But she was no longer chilled. He kept her warm, and the ghosts, the dead, and the near dead never returned.

[I have more like this, and may turn this into a series… what do you think?]

Free is Better!

250x_CIYFreebie # 1 – Collide Into You

From November 28-29, 2014 (Fri & Sat), my newest contemporary romance novel is free.

Bickering (and secretly-in-love) roommates Keira and Dillan learn that falling in love isn’t so easy when a meddling barista puts a charm on the roommates, causing them to swap bodies. How they deal with the swap–and each other–is at times hysterical and sweet. A funny (and charming) contemporary romance that’s perfect for the holidays.

For my Falling For Him series fans, you’ll love the fact that Justin, Aaron, and Nebraska play supporting characters in Collide Into You.

Get Collide Into You at Amazon US, Amazon CA, Amazon UK, Amazon DE, Amazon JP, Amazon IN, Amazon FR, Amazon ES, Amazon IT, Amazon NL, Amazon BR, Amazon MX, and Amazon AU.

Freebie # 2 – The Christmas Journey

From November 28-29, 2014 (Fri & Sat), my only Christmas short story is free.

On a quiet, snow-filled, Christmas morning, a nine-year-old boy and his red wagon set out on a journey to find his father in Heaven. Along the way he encounters obstacles that prevent him from reaching his destination, including the supernatural forces of good and evil that make him question his faith. But for every obstacle, his trusty red wagon contains just the thing he needs to overcome the challenge.

Get The Christmas Journey at Amazon US, Amazon CA, Amazon UK, Amazon DE, Amazon JP, Amazon IN, Amazon FR, Amazon ES, Amazon IT, Amazon NL, Amazon BR, Amazon MX, and Amazon AU.

Lastly, the updates…

So, you want to know what I’m working on, do you?

I am hard at work on the sequel to Collide Into You. Alec Huffman (the delicious–and sweet–MLB pitcher from Collide Into You) gets his own story, which is tentatively titled Out Of Time. His leading lady is Captain Courtney Hall. She’s feisty, funny, sarcastic, and, maybe a little bit crazy. Oh, and she dismantles bombs for a living. Are you ready for the really crazy part? The “charm” in this story is that it is sort of a time-travel-story. Oh boy, do I have my work cut out for me on this one!!!

I can’t wait to get this story in your hands. I’m guessing it may be ready at the end of Spring 2015. Fingers crossed!

In between writing Out Of Time, I will be focused on an Anthology Workshop that will allow me to work with some amazing magazine editors on stories ranging from Thrillers, Paranormal, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Western, and Young Adult. This workshop get’s my muse working in overdrive, and I enjoy it immensely.

Well… that’s it my lovelies. Have a lovely holiday season!

Kelly

Latest News

Lots to update you on. First, let me thank all of my readers for taking the time to read my stories and leaving kind reviews. It does funny things to my heart when I see that you like my stories. So, THANK YOU. I wish I could hug all of you! If you adore Justin, Nebraska, and Aaron (Falling For Him Series) as much as I do, please let other readers know. Word of mouth is still the best method for selling books, and I’m no exception.

Second, all four books in my Reclaimed Souls (under my Della Roth alias) have been published on all e-markets. A few sites haven’t updated (notably Kobo and iTunes) so I’ll work on that promptly. My next goal, for this series, is print on demand (bundle) as well as an e-bundle for all stories at an amazing price. Hopefully this will have readers picking up the entire series in one shot. A big thanks to my readers that have already picked up the entire set — piecemeal — and left kind words in the form of reviews and emails. Almost everyone that emails me has something amazingly wonderful to say about Roland. While the story was Rahda’s, Roland captured your hearts. Mine as well. Make sure you pick up the freebies associated with this series. Warning: the freebies are on the steamy (read: you’ll need a cool shower) side. You can find these stories here and here and here.

I’ve been a bit quiet on my blog. Sorry about that. My house flooded a few days after Mother’s Day and we’ve been working on that issue ever since. Let’s just say it wasn’t pretty — it still isn’t — but things are slowly getting back to normal and we should have most of the repairs done by the end of next week. Fortunately, my writing productivity hasn’t dipped at all. Something about chaos opens my creative channel. I’ll post a few snippets of a novel I’m 1/2 through right now. Hint: it is in Justin’s world (military romance), though he, Aaron, and Nebraska only play minor supporting roles.

I’m still actively submitting my stories into Short Story magazines and e-zines (like Clarkesworld and Shimmer). Recently I received a very well received rejection from Tor. A positive rejection. I’m almost there. Also, in case you missed one of my earlier posts, I had a short story bought by FictionRiver for one of their upcoming anthologies. The anthology is called Recycled Pulp, edited by John Helfers. My story, called Prism of the Crab Gods, is about a boy who has to deal with a troubled upbringing. I wrote the story for a workshop, which John was present for, and he bought it on the spot. I brought many a reader to tears. Myself included. This anthology will not come out until December 2015. So you have a while before you can read this story. But I’m excited nonetheless.

On to my current work in progress (tentatively titled: Colliding Into You)… based on how far I’m into the story, and how much further I need to go, and editing, etc., I do not suppose this story will be ready for publication until late Fall 2014, or early Winter. The characters, Keira and Dillan (names subject to change!) are instant-roommates due to 1) Keira’s military reassignment to the Pentagon, and 2) Dillan (not in the military) is best friends with Keira’s brother, Jon, and he asks Dillan for a favor. A few things are apparent right away: Keira really doesn’t like Dillan, and Dillan is something of a player/playboy. Here is my opening scene. It’s a draft… so forgive all grammar errors.


 

Keira

“Wow,” a masculine voice says at me from across the living room. Not to me. At me. And he says the word “wow” in two syllables. Wow-Wa. It is my roommate, Dillan. Or, rather, I’m his new roommate. Did he always have to talk so sarcastically? I wait for his next comment. “Keira, whatever the opposite of amazing is, that’s how you look today.”

I look down at what I’m wearing, which is my Army Combat Uniform, or ACUs, for short. My hair is pulled up in a low bun and, in the interest of time, I’m wearing pretty much zero make-up. I look exactly like what a twenty-seven year old sergeant in the Army is supposed to look like: like every other female sergeant in the Army.

I’m fairly close to being late for my first day at the Pentagon and the last thing I need is for the man-slut I’m rooming with to harass me. I don’t care that he’s my brother’s best friend, or that I’ve only heard great things about him, or that his abs are to-die-for and that looking at him is like looking directly at the sun.

Look away, Keira! Those abs will totally blind you.

The only reason I’m here is because my brother, Jon, asked Dillan to let me stay here while Jon is deployed to Bahrain. Plus, I needed a quick place to live once I realized the Army had reassigned me to Washington, DC.

Dillan, shirtless and drying his hair, stands just outside his bedroom door. His wide-open bedroom door. Beyond him I can see a naked female form sleeping on his bed. She’s blond, leggy, and those are totally fake breasts.

I barely know my roommate and already don’t like him. I’m glad that the living room separates our two bedrooms. I seriously don’t want to hear sounds coming from his room at night. Not after what I heard yesterday.

I’m tired of trying to not look at Dillan, so I glance out the window. I still cannot believe that I’m living in a high-rise apartment with an amazing view of the Capitol, the Washington Monument, and the Lincoln Memorial. Too bad it came with a man-slut.

I try to figure out what Dillan’s talking about when his lips curve in a victorious manner. I’ve been silent too long after the insult.

“What?” I ask, tilting my head. “Are you not used to women being clothed in front of you? Perhaps you’re not exactly sure how buttons and all those crazy little fastening thingies work? Listen, can we insult each other later? I’ve got to catch the metro.”

He grins as he reaches for a shirt of his own, a blue collared shirt, and purposefully buttons it up slowly, as if to illustrate that, yes, he knows how to dress himself. What an accomplishment, I think. Whatever will he do next? Use his finger to pick his nose?

I smile at the juvenile thought.

Dillan crosses the distance between us as he tucks the shirt into tailored pants. He cleans up nicely. I know he isn’t some bum. He works at a prestigious firm as some big-wig’s senior executive assistant. Let me clarify. That big-wig boss is a woman. And if I’ve learned anything about Dillan Pope in the two days I’ve been his roommate and all the stories Jon has told me over the last few years, it’s that Dillan can charm anyone.
Myself excluded, of course. I find something unattractive about overly-attractive men. I’ve always been this way.

My roommate clears his throat as if he has some big announcement. I roll my eyes and look at my watch. Hint, hint, buddy.

“I was just going to say that you looked much better this morning after you came in from your run,” he says in a low voice. I study his chiseled jaw, his light green eyes, and his dark hair. Not that I was smelling him or anything, but he smells like Sandalwood.

My run? That was two hours ago. “Can you please make sense, Devon?”

“It’s Dillan, but you already knew that. Don’t act like I don’t affect you. I mean,” he shrugs, “I really don’t care one way or the other. You’re not my type.” He slips on his shoes and folds his suit jacket over his arm and turns to go. “But, for the record, Sergeant Holtslander,” he says with a smirk. “I certainly like the little running outfit a whole hell of a lot better than whatever that”—he motions his hands up and down—“shapeless uniform is called.”

He winks as he leaves the apartment.

I stare at the closed door and wonder, not for the first time in the last thirty-six hours, what have I gotten myself into?


Before I go, I’ll share a photo (a selfie, really) of me and my son right after he became a Wolf in our Cub Scout pack. At the end of the day, I’m a mom. A proud mom. And I’m so blessed that I cannot express it adequately. Until next time, my friends… – Kelly –

Me and the Kiddo

Me and the Kiddo

 

A Man With Glasses…

AManWithGlasses

 

 

 

 

 

 

“A Man With Glasses… Falls Hard For The Girl”

~ So, I like to doodle. If you’ve visited my website more then, oh, once, you’ll have noticed a few of my doodles. The above doodle, “A Man With Glasses” was inspired by a conversation with my boss. While cute and simple, the “characters” behind the glasses evoke a personal connection. I don’t see a few dots and dashes. I see a story. I see a nervous man, a lovely woman, and a brand new conversation that maybe — just maybe — starts something special. So, do men with glasses fall hard? Dunno, but this one did. I suppose that why I’m a writer – I can see a story in anything.

 

Shiny, Pretty Things

Come see the shiny, pretty new things I’ve been working on! (Hint: new covers for my Reclaimed Souls Series). Long story short, I retired the Jean 8. Aeglothecca pen-name, and took on Della Roth.

The Pale Waters CoverThe Queen of Scarred HeartsThe Daughter of Lava

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The fourth book (The Priestess of Reclaimed Souls) is coming out Next Month!

The Christmas Journey (A Short Story)

I’d like to share a very special, and very personal short story with you. I wrote The Christmas Journey more than a year ago, but I was not ready to release it into the world. I wrote it after losing my beloved Grandmother, and now, after re-reading it and editing the story, I have a lump in my throat. I really debated on whether or not to publish this piece. But, after some considerable thought, it felt right when I pressed that publish button. It’s yours now, dear reader. I hope that you enjoy it.

 

THE CHRISTMAS JOURNEY

The Christmas Journey

 

On a quiet, snow-filled, Christmas morning, a nine-year-old boy and his red wagon set out on a journey to find his father in H

eaven. Along the way he encounters obstacles that prevent him from reaching his destination, including the supernatural forces of good and evil that make him question his faith. But for every obstacle, his trusty red wagon contains just the thing he needs to overcome the challenge.

THE CHRISTMAS JOURNEY is a 23 page short story. While safe for all ages, some scenes might be somewhat scary for children 7 years old or younger. This is a Christian-theme short story.

Available now at Amazon for $1.99

~~ Keep Reading for an Excerpt ~~

CHAPTER ONE

 

IT IS A TINY, muffled squeak on a rocky, snow-covered dirt road that announces the boy’s arrival. The snow is fresh, as if it just fell, and the boy’s footsteps are the first to make a solid impression. The four black squeaky tires of his old red wagon follow suit, leaving their own pencil-thin tracks.

Even though this snow is new, it blankets layers of snow and ice that lay serene. It has been a while since someone has come this way. The boy appreciates the pristine view before him: the quiet road, though picturesque, is disturbingly undisturbed; small cottage-like houses, void of any human activity, bookend each side of the road silently; oak trees, majestic, earthy, and proud—like a formation of aging soldiers standing at attention—line a natural path as if to lead one into a secret kingdom. But all of it, every single thing, leaves a pang in the young boy’s heart.

Surely this isn’t the way, he thinks to himself as he views, beyond this still-life lane, a white-dotted forest in the distance. There, he thinks. There is where I must go.

He pauses, shivers, tucks his mittened hands deeper into his coat pockets and witnesses a hazy white sun decorating the tops of those evergreens far ahead of him.

It is Christmas morning, and the dawn greets him like an old friend.

The boy searches for Heaven and once, a long time ago, his father told him a story. And if it is true, this is how it starts.

CHAPTER TWO

THE SIGN SAYS BROOKFALLS in old, fading letters. This is the right place. He grips the wagon’s handle, reassured by its presence, and walks down the center of the road, never veering too much to the left or the right.

As he looks up, he notices that the lights in the houses turn on simultaneously.

The cold bites into his cheeks as he steps into the town’s city limits. And he feels it. The change, the eerie calmness; as if the air around him starts to think on its own and knows that a stranger has entered.

The air shifts and howls.

The boy is momentarily confounded as a snowy structure slaps together before his eyes. What is this magic? A snow windstorm forms ten feet in front of him.

Don’t be scared. You expected this.

The leafless trees rustle; the solid oak trunks groan like a group of angry men. The boy tries to catch his breath, but the wind steals it, and, for some reason, his eyes focus on the small puffs of smoke twirling out of a nearby chimney.

The wind seems to attack him like a flock of birds. Coming. Swiping. Threatening. But the snowy formation goes around and behind him, as if he were in the way, not the intended target. The boy spins around and watches as his small footprints disappear, as if the air means to erase his entrance. After another moment and a few more threatening-like swipes around the boy, the entire snowy structure dissipates and dies. Tiny plops of snowballs fall lazily to the ground and all is quiet again.

The boy takes back the breath the air stole.

I can go back, he thinks. Then he shakes his head. No. I must go on as my father intended. This is the way to Heaven.

When he turns around again, he nearly runs into an elderly man with shocking white hair and red cheeks, swaddled in a green plaid coat. His colorless, gnarly knuckles grip a walking cane.

“What brings you to town?” the old man asks in a croaky voice.

You know those good intentions you planned…?

My fabulous editor, Susan Gottfried, recently sent back some edits and I’m about to start working on re-writing the parts she (rightly) dinged me on. Susan is a great editor and I completely recommend her. Make sure to check out her website to see what she edits.

Anyway, my intent was to do a complete edit of her edits over July 4th Holiday, but another story captured my attention and I put the edits aside and continued to work on my LOVE ME series (currently writing book 4). However, good intentions can’t make me productive. ha! My mind was torn between both stories: the one I needed to edit and the one I needed to write.

So what did I do? Poured myself a glass of wine (um, maybe several glasses) and read THE HERO AND THE CROWN by Robin McKinley. Which, if you haven’t read, you should!

Not a bad way to go when every plan you, well, planned fails. Not a bad way to go, at all.

 

As I Figure This Out…

I’ll mention that the crinkling noise erupting from a corner of my condo has me somewhat surprised.

Loud and static and crowd-attracting, the sound — ever present and building in anticipation — blinds my ability to deduce a coherent (or original) thought. Thus this post…

It is not an animal or insect or any other repellent creature affecting me.

It is a delightful child running amok, rubbing a once-crisp white sheet of printing paper over his head violently and in a wicked enchanting method as to distract me from a most important (though not as important as his) mission: this post.

Naturally, I ask you to bear with me. Naturally.