August Submissions Roundup

We have an ongoing submissions page here.  Back because it seems like our round ups get the most comments.

 

Aug 15th 

 

Strange Constellations– Short speculative stories 3,000-7,000 words scifi-fantasy preference but will take anything that compels pays $30

 

Psycho Pomp Magazine– up to 5,000 words”The Psychopomp Magazine staff is committed to publishing original fiction that dares to redefine traditional storytelling and genre borders. While we like stories that treat the concepts of passages, transitions, and the state of being betwixt and between, we are open to all work regardless of theme. We are generally not looking for traditional realist fiction or pure hard genre.” pays $.02/a word

 

A Punk Rock Future– 350-6,000 words “We’d like to see dystopias, utopias, or something in-between; anything with a punk rock sensibility/ethos; alternative history; the promise of punk; the failure of punk; music-inspired stories; science fiction; fantasy; or horror. No matter the genre label, stories must have a speculative element.” pays $.06/ word

 

Luna Station Quarterly– 500-7,000 words scifi/fantasy with Crones as the main proganist looking for female identified authors pays $5

 

Aug 21st

 

Colp– 1,000-5,000 words anything goes with the theme “Sky is the limit” pay $5 for 2,000 words and $10 for above 2,ooo words

 

Aug 22nd

 

Three Crows Magazine– up to 4,000 words looking for weird dark fiction or gritty fantasy/scifi/horror looking for morally ambiguous decisions pays $25

 

Aug 30th

 

Qulit Magazine– prose up to 8,000 words no genre suggestions pays $100

 

 

Oklahoma Pagan Quarterly– a scary story contest with prize money for Samhain aka Halloween themed stories.  They have more details at their side

 

Apparation Lit– 1,000-5,000 words on the them of the theme of diversion speculative in nature= scifi, fantasy, horror, weird fiction, genderless fiction pays $.01 a word

 

There are a lot more submissions out there, but I cut the list down to what interested me.  Others either didn’t click with my creative muse or insulted my inherent sense of value (I’d do that, but not for the money they’re offering).  Very subjective collection, but I hope it gives others a place to start this month.  Happy writing!

The Rules of the Game

image from open clipart.org by nicubunu

 

I am the self-appointed editor of our group round robins.  Anyone who’s read our work knows I am LEAST qualified of the four of us.  ProWritingAid is the great equalizer, or at least I have to tell myself it is.

As the editor I have self-imposed rules.

 

1. Don’t change the core of other’s sections.  Whatever they wrote is what they intended and I have to work with that, not hack and slash around to change inherent meaning.  Too much change makes it “my story” instead of “our story” which runs contrary to the round robin’s goals.

 

 2. Seamless flow from one writer to the other is the goal, but I can’t change all the phrasing to be “Jessica” (or anyone else’s) style to achieve this.  It’s not right to erase someone else’s voice on a joint work to showcase another’s.

 

This worked well in our first round robin.  I used ProWritingAid first to correct grammar, style, to catch and rework repetitive phrasing, and to delete adverbs.  The major change I made was plot continuity driven.  One writer misread another’s part of the story.  Where Anges finds a dead body that writer interpreted it as Anges being the dead body.  I had to change content.  I adjusted three lines.

 

Fast forward to our second round robin project.  We used Reedsy to find a prompt.  The gist was: “Your grandmother makes pancakes for you every morning.  Your grandmother dies, but there are still pancakes the next morning.

 

This prompt was a different challenge from the last.   The first story blooms from three words/themes.  Using a specific scenario, encouraged more partnership instead of competition to “take over” the story.  This second round robin was smoother and required a lot less finessing to make it seem like one person had written the work.

 

If reworking it was simple why isn’t it posted here?

 

The “problem”: I hate my part of the story.  Not all.  I’m happy with the first three almost four paragraphs, but it goes downhill fast.  My ambitions to churn the most words and be the first to “finish” a round robin in fifteen minutes left me with a rambling sticky mess.  I do not want to publish such a poor expression of my writing.  Everything I think is weakest in my form is on display.

 

What might be worse, my closing section only drives towards a handful of endings.  I broadcasted the only natural conclusion, and that’s driving me to play with the less obvious choices to thumb my nose at myself (because I hate authority so much I’ll rebel against myself when I become the authority and isn’t that an unattractive personality quirk).

 

Help!  Do I publish and unfinished story as it stands?  Do I scrap this work as hopeless?  Do I make my changes because if I cut the last two paragraphs I could write three kinds of separate endings on my own?  Are more drastic changes to my section a benefit I gain as the person completing the editing work?  Do I have to keep everything I wrote in the spirit of the exercise and endure the cringe?  Tell me what’s a “professional” writer/editor to do in this situation with my minor conflict of interest.

Progress: What Markers Indicate Success?

image from open clipart.org by Firkin

July is one of the Camp NanoWrimo months and it’s made me reflective.  NanoWrimo is all about encouraging a person to write because a story-teller can’t do anything with an idea in their head.  They need to express their concept outside of their mind and writing is one format.

I, like Nano,  judge my success by word count.  A thousand words an hour is the bare minimum required to claim success.  If the other writers achieve a hundred or two hundred words in a blitz round robin, I want to double it.  Out pace them with verbiage, the quality of the story spun be damned.  Do all the articles and adverbs just make my writing clunky?  Do I spend too much time hammering a point?  All of it takes a back seat to the count of words I’ve crammed together.

I’m very frustrated working on my novel right now because the words are taking so long to come out.  I’ve “completed” a new third chapter.  It’s about 2,500 words and took me five hours to write.  That’s so slow for me, I never got the victory high completing story elements offers me.

I’d told a fellow writer it would take me two weeks of dedicated work to rearrange the novel.  I made those claims based off of the word count I predicted I’d add.  It’s been longer than two weeks and I’m not that far in.  I’m still asking myself questions over the new third chapter, that keep me from moving cutting the rest of my chapters open and finishing them (though I will attack the fourth chapter today no matter what).

Even Nano, knows writing is the first step to crafting a story.  November is their traditional writing month (outside of camp), but January/February focuses on the editing and publishing process.

What, besides the story idea itself, drives you to write and how do you measure your success?  How do you push through editing or slow word counts ticks?  I’m straining to think of other elements I can track that might show success.  Is there a search for emotional depth or for a “realistic” action?  Does a writer need to fall in love with their own writing and style, seeking achievement through reveling in the quality of their story development?

Opening the floor to the other writers: if word count isn’t your measure what keeps you sane in the writing process?  How do you leash your agitation at the slow pace of progress?

And anyone working through a Nano Camp run, happy typing!

Looking for a better way to count those words or encourage the words to keep coming?  Try our Bells and Whistles: Fancy Tools to Encourage Writing

Would You Rather….

image from open clipart.org by oksmith

 

Fellow writers: would you rather a reviewer tell you that the book’s story and characters were amazing but the writing quality didn’t meet expectations or that your book’s writing was mind blowing but the characters and story were cliche retreaded territory?  Follow up bonus question: are your feelings hurt by either or these critiques?

 

I’m asking because I write a lot of book reviews (check me out on Goodreads/shameless plug) and they are critical, even on books I like. I wonder like many aspiring writers might, what effects if any of my reviews have on the authors and on my ability to reach out/break into their world of publication.  Am I speaking to other readers or do authors also follow discussions on their books?  Am I closing doors by breaking a book down or am I showcasing a thoughtful and attentive mind by considering so many facets?  For me these answers break down to whether my comments are offensive and insults are often in the eye of the beholder.

 

Assuming for the moment that critical discussion on aspects of a book don’t automatically equal injury, I want to know what specific kinds of critical discussion would be fair to discuss with an author.

 

Personally, I’d rather have characters and plot that a reader falls in love with than pitch perfect writing.  Things I want to hear include: “The characters felt very real,”, “I felt like I knew everything about these characters,”, “I needed to know more,”, “I’ve never seen this kind of story explored this way.”

 

That said, I have a distinctive sing song almost poetic style in all my writing.  I have an unique “tone.”  If someone compared my writing to another person’s style, I’d be curious to read more of that person’s work and excited to meet a kindred spirit.  If someone doesn’t like my style, I get that too.  It’s heavy in description, relies on alliteration, and is simile/metaphor heavy.  I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea.

 

Grammatically, I know I need serious help.  Critiques to that effect can dishearten me after I’ve gone through editing that relates to correcting grammar, but it doesn’t cut me.  Either I can go back in and correct the grammatical errors (a bonus to electronic publishing), or I’ve made the error in favor of how a phrase flows or draws out a feeling fragmented instead of a full detailed thought.

 

Does it all boil down to where we as writers are insecure?  My confidence in writing style makes me believe problems in my book must be character/plot related, and therefor I’m more concerned with feedback from those quarters.  I still want the feedback.  For me there is never enough feedback or feedback that’s too harsh as long as it comes with specific examples so I can follow another’s thoughts.

 

Please give me your thoughts.  Do you fear another kind of feedback?  If someone published you would negative or mixed reviews hurt your feelings?  And how do you rate books/media?

April Submission Roundup

April 15th 

 

The Finger– Either 2 flash at 5oo or 2 flash at 2,500 or 1 flash at 5,000 “take us someplace we haven’t been before”

 

Third Flatiron-Up to 3,000 words Galileo’s Theme Park–   Space opera, SF, physics. The great Italian scientist is famous for standing up for science in the face of the Inquisition, doing his best work while under house arrest. He also brought us our first views of Jupiter’s moons by combining a convex lens with a concave one to invent a high quality telescope. We invite you to take us on a journey to the lands beyond Earth revealed to us by Galileo and other space scientists. Suggested reading: “The Old Astronomer” by Sarah Williams”  pays $.06 word

 

Visions– Up to 5,000 words “The first issue will centre on the concept of home in the broadest sense, from the physical structure to the social construct. For instance, we hope the stories will revisit what the notion of home is – a house, a planet, a device? – and what it means to feel at home or homesick. What do we mean by home? How does the concept of home adapts as the world around us changes at a radical pace?” $.06 a word

 

Future Visions-2,000-7,000 words “The Future Visions Anthologies is a science fiction anthology series, aiming to deliver excellent and diverse short story collections on a quarterly basis. In the tradition of great television anthology series such as The Twilight Zone, and Black Mirror, the Future Visions Anthologies will broadly explore all genres and traditions of science fiction and speculative fiction, seeking in each story to explore deeply themes that are relevant to a modern audience

 

Circlet-2,500-8,500 words “Here’s your chance to talk about romance for the characters uninterested in sex. Give me your space pilots in serious relationships with their sentient ships. Think about how an incubus would patiently court a demi-sexual. Maybe you have a regency fantasy where only a virgin can wield the talisman, and thank goodness we’ve got an adult countess who can step up.” $25 for eprint and another $25 if print published

 

Iridium Magazine– ANYTHING with queer non conforming characters up to 5,000 words

 

Electric Spec– “We consider any story between 250 and 7000 words with speculative fiction elements. We prefer science fiction, fantasy, and the macabre, but we’re willing to push the limits of traditional forms of these genres.” $20 flat rate

 

April 16th 

 

Fantasia Divinity- 500-10,500 words. “Spring is a time for growth and rebirth. Beauty is everywhere as the world awakens and comes back to life. We are looking for stories that capture the essence of this beautiful time. What makes the flowers bloom? Why does love permeate the air? Be it nymphs, fairies, gods or goddesses, or even something far more sinister, we want to know. “

 

April 20th 

 

Dead Man Tome– “Genre and theme: Horror, Dark fiction, bizarro framed around conspiracies whether it be UFOs, JFK, 9/11, or Las Vegas. All conspiracies are fair game. Have fun.”

 

April 28th 

 

Unverving– “Haunted are These Houses is an anthology of Gothic fiction and poetry due out in September 2018, edited by Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi and Eddie Generous.” 400-6,000 words firm pays $.01 a word

 

April 30th 

 

Hellbound Book Publishing-5K-15K words “Shlock Horror An anthology of short stories based upon/inspired by and in loving homage to all of those great gorefest movies and books of the 1980’s (doesn’t need to be set in that era!), the golden age when horror well and truly came kicking, screaming and spraying blood, gore & body parts out from the shadows...”

 

Cohesion Press– 2,000-10,000 words military scifi horror

 

The Horror Zine– “GUIDELINES: Ghosts / haunted houses / haunted graveyards / general hauntings / spirits. Must be really scary. Must be original (not a reprint) between 2K and 4K words.”

 

COLP– 1000-5000 words adresses “passage of time”

 

The Geeky Press– “This collection isn’t meant to advocate a position. We aren’t looking for manifestos. We aren’t looking for academic papers. Instead, we want well-told stories, personal narratives, essays, and reflections in fiction, scriptwriting, and poetry from people who come from diverse backgrounds and want to share their American story

 

May 1st

 

Fiends in the Furrows–  5,000-10,000 words “Folk Horror has emerged from the shadows of the late 1960s and early 1970s into a haunting subgenre of horror, fusing atmospheric and horrifying elements of cults, pagan sex, and human sacrifice. In the world of Folk Horror, the laws of God and Man are stripped away by secretive, provincial, surreal, and occult ritualism that subverts the established order in favor of a monstrous, all-consuming, elemental force of ancient evil.

 

Apex Magazine– 1,500-5,000 words pays $.06 a word “This summer, award-winning author and editor Sheree Renée Thomas (“Aunt Dissy’s Policy Dream Book,” Apex Magazine, Volume 95 April 2017 and Volume 101 October 2017, Sleeping Under the Tree of Life, Shotgun Lullabies, and the Dark Matter anthologies) will guest edit a special Zodiac-themed issue. Sheree seeks short stories that explore the heavenly cosmos and unveil mysteries, tales that reimagine Zodiacal archetypes and/or throw them on their heads.”

 

Midnight Hour Media– 1,500-8,000 words “We are looking for horror, dark sci-fi, dark speculative fiction, neo-noire, and cyberpunk themes.  Please read the general submissions for more details.

 

Midnight Hour Media– 1,000-10,000 words “We are looking for holiday related horror, dark sci-fi, dark speculative fiction, neo-noire, and cyberpunk stories.  We like stories with Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanza themes.   Alternatively, they can simply take place during the holidays (like how Die Hard isn’t really about Christmas) or even just involve wintery or snowy settings.  Please read the general submissions for more details.”

 

 

March Calls for Submission

A little last minute, especially for the mid March deadlines, but I figured I’d offer them anyway.

 

March 15th 

 

Cenorot 2,500-6,000 words pays $.06 a word the prompt: “The year is 2025. The planet has been riddled with radiation and in an effort to sustain life the world’s leading scientists have come up with a new procedure to keep humans and animals alive. The success rate was high … until the new creatures began to show signs of rot. Genetically and physically enhanced, these monsters begin to turn on each other and their makers.”  On a personal note I really wanted to write something for this and found myself bogged down in the “how” and “why” but I’d LOVE to read this anthology.  Hoping to see good things here

 

Transmundane Press up to 6,000 words story themed with dreams, hallucinations, nightmares, and/or visions pays $5-$20 depending on length

 

Gehenna & Hinnom Books  Their magazine does rolling submissions with one window closing March 15th.  Looking for weird and cosmic fiction $30 for flash and $55 for short stories they respond in 30 business days to a query.

 

March 30th 

 

The New Mexico Review 500- 1,500 words new and emerging fiction with south western flare

 

Corpus Press Halloween stories 4,000-8,000 words scary, atmospheric, thought provoking, humorous or satirical pays $.03 a word

 

March 31st

 

Pantheon Magazine “What we want: Weird, dark fiction; slipstream; magical realism; horror. Fiction with a touch of mythic quality. We want themes based around transformations—things that are shapeshifting, things that are emerging. Make Ovid’s Metamorphoses contemporary and weird and scary. We want a wide scope of voices, cultures, and perspectives.”  1,000-2,000 words flash pays $.06 a word

 

Arachane Press no more than 2000 words to celebrate the end of WW2

 

Weird Nature Anthology 2,500-10,000 words. The title intrigued me but I couldn’t make heads or tales or what the publisher wanted.  Couldn’t even figure out an excerpt to offer.

 

April 1st

 

Paper Dog Books 1,000-5,000 words “We’re looking for works of short speculative fiction that consider the future of the internet, artificial intelligence, the mind, and robots. Give us your optimistic, fantastic, bittersweet stories of fantasy and science fiction” pays $.06 a word and attempts to respond within 60 days

 

 

 

The 10 Best of Dailyscienefiction.com’s February Stories

1. “Motherland” by Jasmine Ang started Feb strong.  Emotionally charged, the work explores the theme of separation.  The “science fiction” angle comes in, I believe, by providing an example of how technology both lessens the sense of separation and intensifies it.  Feb is the coldest month of the year here in Alabama so feelings of isolation and sorrow seem to dovetail my weather perfectly.

 

2. “Lingua Flanka”  by David M. Armstrong was heavy handed.  The opening and the middle felt intellectually insulting.  I’m including it because it covers themes that I think are important to discuss but even then, the work feels muddied.  Like Armstrong wanted to be controversial but didn’t understand how to do even that basic part well.  I appreciate the attempt for artists by interspersing different narrative elements, but the execution left a lot to be desired.  Great theming and ambition.

 

3. “Dispell” by Preston E Dennett was cute.  The fantasy theme was notable, and given my preferences, made me more likely to enjoy it.   There were elements that I found distasteful.  The female voice, in particular, felt stilted, as if the author had never spoken for very long with a woman or as if the author has only known and women in very shallow ways.  But I thought the punch line at the end was worth the read.  And I want to give the author some props for trying to explore an element of society it seems clear he doesn’t get.  There’s both a thoughtful and boorish execution to it.

 

4. I really love Mary E. Lowd’s work.    “Heart of the Gas Giant”  is a continuations of her other stories.  I’m beginning to see a larger picture where her characters go to the same places in space to achieve different goals, or where we will focus on a different main character but still get an update on the last main character.  Her ability to summarize the last stories in a line or two, are pretty inspiring.  I’d like a  collection of all her little works in a larger work.  She brings a childlike joy and wonder to the vast array and variation of space.  But her stories are written in a way I think all ages could appreciate them.

 

5. “Resolve, in Four Heartbeats”  by Kell Rajasalu is great.  The work is confusing in several angles, but by the end, I understood the basics of what had happened and felt like I’d read a longer arch than she’d offered.  She had deeper characters in her short than make authors achieve in novel length works.

 

6. I really enjoyed “Kicking the Football” by Margaret Sessa-Hawkins.  It’s sweet and very tightly written.  While it has a huge advantage because it’s about characters we are all largely familiar with, it still successfully captivates it’s own unique concept.  This to me, is the spirit of excellent fan fiction and what elevates something from copyright infringement to it’s own concept.

 

7. “The Ones Who Chose the Rain” by George Edwards Murray  was a sad story.  I don’t know exactly what I liked, possibly the genre, but the work struck me.  It’s filled with ennui and pain.  Don’t read if you’re depressed.

 

8. “Introducing Your Parents to the Spoils of Adventure” by Bryan McNab was funny, told in second person, and fantasy genre.  What more do you need?

 

9. “The Sword” by Mari Ness  was a fun update on a “classic” medieval scenario.  I didn’t love it, but it was a cute short story with a reasonable close.  There was a story earlier this month that I waffled on whether in include and ultimately dismissed it because there wasn’t enough going on and this one made it in because there was a “diverse voice” and I am swayed by scenes I see less if even when I think they lacked some indefinable element.

 

10. “Fight for the Stars” by Shannon Fay was a well constructed complete world.  She took a story that I’d have hated to see play out in the three hour movie and boiled it down to an enjoyable 1000 words.  The story kept me engaged in each word.  Instead of liking it “in spite of it’s length” as I do many short stories, I actually think the format os part of what allowed me to be taken in and really become enchanted by it.

 

Overall, February was an interesting month for Daily Science Fiction.  The works I chose were by authors who had a lot less on their resumes than last month’s authors.  I wonder if there is a trend to how Daily Science Fiction groups it’s works.  It has felt random as a reader, but collecting through collecting all the works I found value in, I hope to find patterns.  Impatience is a major fault of mine though, so I’ll have to see what next month brings!

 

Want to check out January’s Science Fiction picks?  Check it out here

Author’s Blogs and Websites

This isn’t really an exhaustive list. I’ll dig up some more and add them later or post in a separate post. Most of these authors I’m friends with or follow and Facebook and they cross post or link their blog articles to their Facebook pages. I really need to find more blogs about writing itself – the posts in these vary between promotion, cross-promotion, reviews (not just of books), and some politics (but I’ve omitted the ones who are mostly political).

Adam Troy-Castro is a novelist and short story writers who writes most SF and horror. He also writes book review columns. He has a huge Facebook following because he’s witty, opinionated, and likes to engage people in discussions. In fact, he posts occasionally to remind people who’ve followed him for other reasons that he is a professional writer. There are a lot of good, in-depth movie reviews here.

Steven Barnes is a writer I’ve been reading a long time, starting with his collaborations with Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle in the 1980’s. He teaches Lifewriting seminars and writes a lot about life coaching, Afrofuturism, and martial arts.

John Scalzi is a hugely successful SF writer. He isn’t very active on Facebook, but is all over Twitter. His blog, Whatever, is extremely popular and often controversial. One of the cool things he does is to use his large audience to let others promote their books (look for the posts titled The Big Idea:)

Ari Marmell‘s blog, Mouseferatu, is mainly used to keep his readers up-to-date with what he’s working on. Ari has written for RPG games and has quite a few novels as well, including one of the funniest fantasy novels I’ve ever read, The Goblin Corps, and an urban fantasy series set in the 1930’s about a Fae detective named Mick Oberon. He has a Patreon which gives his supporters free stories, beta reads of chapters as they’re completed, and a few other perks.

Stephanie Osborne is a local Huntsville writer who is retired from NASA. Several of her books are small press published, including her latest series, the Displaced Detective, which are about Sherlock Holmes transported to the modern day United States. She’s also collaborated on several books with Baen authors, including Travis Taylor, another Huntsville native (and star of the show, Rocket City Rednecks).

As far as what I read online about the process of writing, I’d say it’s most often Reddit’s r/Writing or some of the other subreddits about fantasy and SF writing, reviewing, etc. Maybe that should be another blog post to go over the various writing subreddits.

BONUS:

John Picacio is a cool artist and an acquaintance of mine from a few conventions. I like his art (I have two framed prints of his at home and several of his Loteria series cards) and he’s a cool guy. I used his Loteria painting La Sirena as a partial inspiration for “The Rusalka’s Embrace” story I wrote recently.

Murder, Love, & Romance

North Alabama’s Writer’s Group

Writing Round Robin Exercise

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Murder, Love, & Romance

By Christopher M. Palmer, Jessica Donegan, Zach Stanfield, and Patrick O’Kelley

Beatrice Lochley pulled her robe tightly across her sleeping gown. It was morning at Kimberley Manor and the warm sun was streaming through the bedroom window. She walked to the balcony, overlooking the rolling green grounds. Her grandfather’s Greek temple folly on the hill framed the morning sun like a druidic henge, casting long shadows over the gravel drive. The gardeners were busy in the flower beds, trimming dead blooms and weeds. Soon it would be time for breakfast. She listens to the maids making their way through the halls, but they knew from prior unpleasant surprises not to disturb her. She returned to the room, careful to avoid looking at the canopied bed. There was a little wine left in the carafe on the nightstand and she poured it into a crystal glass and downed it with a grimace.

The washbasin would be cold until they brought it warmed water, but it would have to do. Cold water worked best for bloodstains, or so she’d heard. She removed the robe, not looking down at the bloodstained gown underneath. She dropped it as well and washed. Blood coated her hands and chest and throat, but a few drops had made it onto her face.  When Beatrice finished cleaning the worst areas, she wadded up the bloody towel, gown, and the stained robe and shoved them under the bed.

As she leaned against the bed, Harry’s cold hand fell outside the curtain.  Beatrice shuddered and grasped it, moving the husk from sight again. She had loved him, once, but now she felt numb of all feelings. No love. No guilt. No fear of what would happen to her now although she had no idea how this would play out.

After a moment’s reflection, she retrieved the bloody clothes and dressed in them again, then reached through the curtains to where his bloodied body was hidden and smeared herself with blood. One quick look around the room and she crossed to the door, opened it, screamed at the top of her lungs, and collapsed sobbing.

Maids rushed from both left and right sides of the hall.  A pitcher of fresh warm water shattered, forgotten on the marbled floors.  Beatrice smells heavy herbal tea and greasy bacon.  It mixed with Henry’s dry clotted blood in strange and stomach turning ways.  

The first maid, Anges, knelt beside Beatrice and tentatively reached out her warm arm.  Beatrice leaned into the warmth, shaking and crying.  She was enjoying the body heat even if she didn’t otherwise appreciate the liberties Beatrice took to make contact.  Nothing this morning, or most of the past evening had been warm.  From blood damp bed sheets to her small attempts to wash.  Chill surrounded her and radiated from a once loving heart.  

“Help,” Beatrice pleads, a detached part of her is proud at how many tears she’s produced and how much her voice quavers.  There was a reason Henry had always indulged her whims, and it wasn’t because he’d suspected the end he’d meet if he denied her.

 Anges shushes her and pulls her closer.  She’s spent around fifteen years in service to Beatrice’s family.  She knows what her concerns need to be if she plans to stay employed.  

“What are you all gaping at!” Anges demands.  “You call the authorities, there’s been a catastrophe.  Dalia and Andrew, clean this mess you’ve all made, and Grason, prepare the spare bedroom at once!  Draw a bath for Miss Lochly.  She’ll need to wash and some strong tea,” Anges proclaims.  

Strong sure hands grip Beatrice now.  They help steady her as she rises.  Beatrice wants to tilt her head like a curious kitten.  Who would have dreamed Agnes could be so strong and sure of herself?  A woman of her late sixties, she’s demure and quiet.  Always lingering around the edges of Beatrice’s life.  Taking empty dishes, cleaning dirty rugs, stoking fires.  Anges is useful, but never worth a second thought.  Now, comparing her firm certain grip to the tepid last struggles of Henry, she wonders what attracted her to that man.  That a servant woman commands such presence when Henry barely made his last moments memorable. Henry gave up long before Beatrice struck her killing blow, accepting his death the same way he accepted an unsightly gift.  It was good she’d ended his misery.  Maybe with Henry gone and this unsightly murder behind her, Beatrice would return some sense of control to her life.  She’d no longer have to entreat anyone to fund her hobbies or clothes.  The manor and all its funds would be hers.  An unforeseen gift.

Anges led Beatrice to the far side of the manor.  A rarely aired out section the family only uses for holiday visitors.  Beatrice hiccups and wrinkles her nose at the old dust and imagined mold.   She takes a few shuddering breaths.  Sobbing lost its charm almost as soon as she took it up.  Swollen tired eyes isn’t a look someone of her station should try.   Beatrice’s throat is hot and itchy from the screams.  Her body is tight with the tension caused from the pantomimed trembling.  It’s all so tedious.  

“Please,” Beatrice whispers.  

“Hush now Miss, we’re almost there.  Soon you can rest your bones in a nice warm bath.  And I’ll bring hot tea with lemon and honey, for your throat.  Your mother alway did warn you against such hysterics,” Agnes chides.

Captain Jonah Batson arrived just as Beatrice dropped her wet towel to put her evening clothes on. The thrill and the shock of her murderous action is wearing off and softer tender emotions are taking over.  Beatrice’s hands tremble, and she wonders, what’s next. Agnes knocks at the door of the guest bedroom, and Beatrice jumps.  Her nerves can’t take all this uncertainty.

“Miss Beatrice, Capt. Batson is here. He would like to have a word with you.”

“Just a minute.”

Beatrice finished dressing, relaxed her breathing, and reached the door just as another knock came. The door opened.

“Excuse me, miss. Sorry for the intrusion but we must be getting on with this case.”

“No, no. I understand. I’m sorry. I am still a tad bit shaken as you might imagine. Henry and I have been together for a good number of years and this is a complete shock to me.”

“Oh, believe me Miss Lochley, I understand. But if we may, I’d like to ask you a few questions before I visit the scene.”

“You haven’t been to the room yet?”

“No ma’am. Based on my previous experiences, I like to get a first hand account of the situation from the witnesses if there are any. So what can you tell me about the events of last night and this morning?”

Beatrice hesitated. She had thought she would have more time.  Her story was foolproof but her performance might be the deal breaker.

“Alright. Last night was like any normal night. Nothing extraordinary happened. However, around midnight I…”

A scream pierces the air, interrupting Beatrice’s stilted performance.  Batson tears out of the room leaving Beatrice behind. Another scream. Beatrice rises and begins to follow Batson.  What now?  Had one of the servants stumbled in on Henry’s body?  No, they would know to avoid that room.  Beatrice’s nerves feel raw and tender.  She’s doesn’t have the endurance for so much intrigue.

Batson arrives to the master bedroom where the body still lies. At the window, Agnes stares down to the courtyard below, pointing down and sobbing. Batson rushes to meet her gaze.

“Now Ma’am, there’s no reason to be so close to the open window, please come inside,” he coaxes, approaching her as a well meaning man may head towards a wounded deer.  Beatrice stands transfixed in the doorway.  Why did Anges venture to this room ahead of the Constable’s investigation?

Anges shakes her head, loosing a sob.  She looks past Batson to Beatrice, and as their eyes meet, Beatrice is certain she knows exactly how Henry’s bloody corpse came to lounge in the master bed.  But she doesn’t have any time to react because Anges turns and dives toward the walkway below.

Agnes prostate body caressed the stone. Blood dribbled down the crease of her mouth and into the lawn. Captain Batson peered up to the second floor and back at Ms. Agnes.

“Constable.”

“Yes, Captain?”

“Gather up the rest of members of the estate until further notice.”

“Yes, sir.”

Moments later, Captain Batson circles the body. He rolls her upward to face the sky and delicately shuts her eyes. A refraction of light showed from her hands. She clutched a locket, its chain winds around her wrist. Batson unclasped the piece. Inside were two adolescent photos of Henry. He was dressed down in light slacks and shirt. He affected no smile and stared ahead. Batson clasped it shut and returned to Beatrice.

She wept in the parlor. A few others stood by around tending to her sobs, trying to placate the tender spasms of air she sucked in. Batson dismissed the others and faced her.

“How long was Ms. Agnes attendant to Henry?”

Beatrice dabbed at the tears.

 

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

 

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Love, Murder, & Romance~ Patrick O’Kelley’s Ending

Part 1 of “Murder, Love, & Romance”

 

“Oh, only God knows that. She was already in his service when we wed. I onced asked her about where she came from but Henry shushed me before she could speak.” The cold, dead hearth behind Batson sparked a ember flame. He didn’t care to notice.

“I see… Well, I am doubtful she took her own life out of grief for killing him. She must’ve leapt to her death from a broken heart. Still, this begs the question…. how did he die? Who killed him?”

“Heavens, I wouldn’t know. I woke up and he was… he.. he…” she broke out into a sob and blew her nose with her handkerchief. The fireplace burped another large flare, this time gathering the attention of Batson.

“What the hell?” The flame burst into a stout raging fire, not able to be contained by that mere fireplace. Batson backed away, grabbing Beatrice by the arm, pulling her with him. The fire spilled out into the parlor room, chasing them into the corner. Fearing the worst, Batson broke open a nearby window pane and was about jump out with Beatrice in his arms. The flames however, hadn’t had their way with him just yet.

The fire wrapped around his ankle like an octopus from the sea. He fell down to the floor screaming for help. Beatrice stood in front of the broken window long enough to see his body get swallowed up completely.

 

By the time she had jumped to the garden below and made her way to the forest just to the edge of the property, the entirety of Kimberly Manor had sunk into the ground. The Earth was continuing to eat up the stone and marble when Beatrice gave it one final glance.

“Thank you, Henry. You were the best supernatural being I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing.”

The ground belched in appreciation. Henry had been returned to his true form by the act of the breaking spell: murder by one’s true love

End

 

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