Sunday Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike & Better Late Than No Promo – by Free Range Oyster

Sunday Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike

So what’s a vignette? You might know them as flash fiction, or even just sketches. We will provide a prompt each Sunday that you can use directly (including it in your work) or just as an inspiration. You, in turn, will write about 50 words (yes, we are going for short shorts! Not even a Drabble 100 words, just half that!). Then post it! For an additional challenge, you can aim to make it exactly 50 words, if you like.

We recommend that if you have an original vignette, you post that as a new reply. If you are commenting on someone’s vignette, then post that as a reply to the vignette. Comments — this is writing practice, so comments should be aimed at helping someone be a better writer, not at crushing them. And since these are likely to be drafts, don’t jump up and down too hard on typos and grammar.

If you have questions, feel free to ask.

Your writing prompt this week is: Temper

Better Late Than No Promo- by Free Range Oyster

*blows off dust* Testing, ein, deux, treis, IV… Oh look, the mic still works! Hello, ladies, gentlemen, dragons, and assorted riff-raff! Feast your eyes on a new load of books. So much good stuff! So many pretty covers! Indeed I have brought you a wonderful trove of tasty pulp, with many brand new recent releases including two anthologies, one of them positively encrusted with names familiar to regular visitors of the Promo Post. [You’re trying to spin a month-long backlog as a good thing? –Ed.] Pay no attention to the man in italics! This bounteous promo is simply the result of my love for all you wonderful people and people-like entities. It has nothing to do with any supposed failings of time management or email synchronization. Nothing! Speaking of which, there is a new email address intended solely for promo material: promo(at)freerangeoyster(dot)com. Just drop me a link to the Amazon page for your book, and a blurb if you want it different from what’s at the ‘zon. So go, enjoy this week’s [month’s –Ed.] haul of books, leave helpful reviews, enjoy your weekend, and don’t call me for bail money unless there’s a really epic story to go with it. As always, future entries for the promo post can (and should!) be sent to my shiny new email! Happy reading!

Jason Dyck, AKA The Free Range Oyster

Minion Wrangler, Code Monkey, and Chief Assistant to the Assistant Chief

J.M. Ney-Grimm

Livli’s Gift

Livli struggles with a secret she keeps from everyone, even her closest friends, and she must solve the problem at its heart before she’s discovered.

She’s certain the answer lies in a fragment of folklore and magic half-remembered from her childhood. Almost certain.

She wouldn’t need forgotten magic if only the men and women of her secluded mountain culture dwelt together. But the women—and Livli—inhabit their sister-lodge atop its lofty bluff, while the men live apart in their brother-lodge several valleys away.

Unless she can force a change, Livli stands to lose everything… including the most precious thing in her life: her son.

A story of secrets, shibboleths, and deep-forged strength told with all the insight and engaging intimacy that J.M. Ney-Grimm brings to epic fantasy.

M L Clark

Target Seventeen Must Die

Time traveler Jeremiah Gale kills people in the past to create a better present. He fails to kill target seventeen, but when he returns to the future, it is changed for the better. He’s on an orbital colony, everybody is friendly and kind, though a bit conformist. Gale thinks his mission is finished, but soon gets kidnapped and interrogated. It doesn’t take long for him to realize assassins from even farther in the future are hunting for somebody. Eventually able to capture one of the time travelers before she suicides, he deduces they wish to kill a novelist before he writes the novels that will bring down their fascist state. Instead of killing target seventeen, can he protect him and stop the time travelers?

Leigh Kimmel

Starlight Running

Eight lives depend on Kyle’s desperate trek across the Moon to get help. But someone – or something – intends for him to fail. Can he defeat it in time?

Pam Uphoff

Directorate School

The Directorate Book 1

What’s college without friends and enemies?

Ebsa’s reached the height of his ambitions with acceptance at the elite college that trains the people who will explore the worlds across the dimensions. Now all he has to do is survive it.

Amie Gibbons

Psychic Wanted (Un)Dead or Alive

The SDF Paranormal Mysteries Book 4

Hell hath no fury…

Halloween’s here and psychic FBI agent Ariana Ryder is ready to party. Sure, her and her boss Grant haven’t been in a good place since what happened in Miami; he’s basically acting like he doesn’t care and isn’t her friend anymore, let alone anything more, but she’s sure he doesn’t mean it. And besides, she has her boyfriend, Quil, so it’s not like she cares anyway.

And then there’s Carvi, vampire king of Miami, back up in Nashville with a warning.

That someone’s put a hit out on Ariana, and assassins are on their way.

But a psychic has a job to do, and when a ghostly curse of vengeance born from broken hearts starts killing men all over Nashville, Ariana has to psychic up and get her butt to work, cuz everything about these supposed suicides screams ghost, but it’s doing things no mere specter can pull off.

The clock’s tickin’ before the ghost strikes again, and Ariana’s going to have to face her own past to stop it.

Because it’s just set its sights on Grant.



When California declares independence, their dreams of socialist diversity become nightmares for many from the high Sierras to the Central Valley. Follow the lives of those who must decide whether to stand their ground, or flee!

In San Diego, the commander of Naval Special Warfare Group One finds his hands tied by red tape, even as protesters storm the base and attack dependents.

In Los Angeles, an airline mechanic must beg, borrow, or bribe to get his family on the plane out before the last flight out.

Elsewhere, a couple seeks out the new underground railroad after being forced to confess to crimes they didn’t commit.

In the new state of Jefferson, farmers must defend themselves against carpetbaggers and border raiders.

And in the high Sierras, a woman must make the decision to walk out alone…

Inn Between Worlds: Volume 1

Sitting outside of time and space is the Inn Between Worlds. Residents might say it’s a place for travelers, or a place to rest, a place to find excitement. Or they might say it’s dangerous and to be avoided at all costs because Reality Does Not Work Right inside its infinite walls.

Contained in these pages are three stories that all share one important point: Their events would not have been possible without The Inn.

“Gideon Wallace and the Sapphire Woman” is the first story in a new series by Thomas A Farmer, and shows what happens when a mortal man finds himself drawn into a fight between gods.

In “Chaos Candy,” by Amie Gibbons, supernatural bounty hunter Zee tries to uncover a dark secret and learns much more than she ever wanted to know.

Finally, Michael David Anderson’s “Flux” continues the adventures of Teddy Dormer, taking him once again to strange new places and showing him new nightmares.


71 thoughts on “Sunday Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike & Better Late Than No Promo – by Free Range Oyster

  1. “What happened to that town?”

    “Oh, some dragon lost his temper with the high prices he was charged.”

  2. The knight rode up to the bard and companion and reined his horse to halt. He carefully dismounted from the saddle carefully avoiding the dancing hooves of his mount. The horse seemed to squint and tried to nip his rider who carefully brushed the muzzle aside almost absently. He walked over to the couple extending his hand in friendship.
    “Hi, my name is Sir Artous, and this is my mount and companion Temper.”

  3. Temper? Me?? Surely not. I’m as clam as a calm…calm as a clam. Nozzink bozzers me. I’m cool, calm, and collecting an arsenal…just in case.
    MWAH, hah, hah, hah.

  4. “Again!” yelled the Sargent.


    “No buts. Again!”

    The student returned to his fellows and restarted the magic exercises. The Sargent did his best to keep the pity off his face. Pity had no place here. These children were the swords of Katagardia. It was his job to temper them.

  5. “How do you think you can govern a family if you can’t govern your own temper? ” Martissa said. “You can’t”.
    “Who are you to tell me what I can or can’t do?” Sam flared.
    She gazed at him steadily, but her heart sank. This would never work.
    “No one. Apparently”.

  6. Across the hall, the clock had broken. Jonnet shuddered. Scholars and teachers streamed by her, and even the worst tempered did not so much as swear in their panic. They were fortunate there was nothing to knock over in their path. (And then someone would have stumbled, and the dragon would have claimed its first deaths in the trampling.)

      1. I suspect that’s the result of the dragon attacking the school/university. 😉

  7. The guards were few and far between, always nodded politely to her, and never drew their blades. She had no doubt the swords were well-tempered steel that could strike her down with a moment’s hesitation.
    She let her breath out and walked out to the balcony, where she could look down.

  8. His master handed him the sword. “You made it; try it.”

    Smiling, Peter swung the sword against the green limb.

    The sword shattered.

    “All my work,” Peter said.

    His master nodded. “I warned you had the wrong temper. Next time you’ll pay attention. Pick up the pieces and start over.”

    1. Almost the exact same use of temper I was thinking of using. Beat me to it. I must hold back my temper….

        1. that’s the thing about longer works. Vignettes don’t have the same vigor as when they stand alone.

  9. Anhaga plunged the sword back into the white-hot charcoal and watched closely as it changed colour. ‘I have to be careful here, Mirren,’ he said, ‘we need just the right temper for it to be hard and yet flexible and have a keen edge. Ahah! Now it’s the right colour!’

      1. Cheap Sunglasses (actually reader safety glasses), my old Trench-coat no longer fits (either it shrunk, or I expanded), and I got three felines, one quite fat.

        1. [R]eader safety glasses“? I used to have a pair of those, with built-on blinders to keep me from reading politically incorrect books. I had to toss them, however, because the multiple viewpoint lenses kept making me dizzy.

          Like these, except the lenses were rose.

    1. You err, sir. In this usage “Riff” is a modifier distinguishing which type of “Raff” is of interest. Thus those addressed are distinguished from gi-raff and ka-raff, among others.

      1. Ah, well even if Steam Powered, I’d not want to be a Gi-Raff, Rabbit scares me, and I hold too little liquid to be a Ka-Raff, but it makes my urologist happy

  10. Barking his shin on the chair and knocking the saber off its seat, Jones’ anger flashed. Snatching the sword he chopped the chair to splinters before tossing the blade.

    Smith picked up the weapon, glancing at the blade. Holding it out he said, “I think you’ve ruined this blade’s temper.”

    1. That’s odd. Normally, propaganda gets five-stars and reviewed in the Times Literary Supplement. You musta had the wrong flavor propaganda.

    2. Now I’m going to have to buy it…

      With a glowing review like that, must be good. I’m assuming this is the whole review:

      Absurd, often hateful political propaganda.

      I often find the movies I like best are the ones critics like least.

    3. Just got my copy. Hadn’t heard that this was up yet. Sometimes, the one star reviews can be as effective as the fives. If (random internet nobody) hates this book because it’s -ist, or “hateful,” that’s almost as good as a cover blurb. *chuckle*

      Seriously though. If it’s good enough for Larry Correia, the International Lord of Hate, that’s got to be good enough for a few sales.

  11. The torturer smiled a very small smile as the broken man at last gurgled out a name. It matched the one given him by the fellow across the hall. He nodded slightly to the assistant standing ready for this moment, and began cleaning and putting away his things. It had been a tidy little operation, no muss, no fuss. A trifle boring, even.

    No matter, he told himself. It wouldn’t do for things to become too interesting. As a professional, he prided himself on getting results and doing so in a methodical, workmanlike manner. The sadist was far too likely to go to excesses in his zeal. Better to leave such business to men like himself, who viewed their work only as a necessity and just got on with it.

    Besides. A bit of professional pride was a good thing to have.

    He rolled up his tool-bag and picked it up. Just in time, too. Out in the hall, the last one was being dragged out. A fresh room awaited, and too, his next project.

    Inside that chamber was a hanging table. Ingenious in its design, he thought, it allowed the subject to be raised and lowered, or tilted at any angle needed. There was a stool at just the right height, and a small table for his tools. Bright light filtered in through small high windows, and something akin to a small blacksmith’s forge sat at the back wall. This would be his starting point today.

    “Bring me number fifty-three, if you please, gentlemen.”

    The guards stationed outside the door would see to it. Efficient fellows. The short one did not seem to like his job, the taller one appeared to enjoy it entirely too much. Using the two of them together made for a happy medium. Not too brutal, not too soft. Just right.

    The torturer laid out his tools, and stretched. Much of his work required careful concentration. It was easy to become stiff. It would not do to rush a job simply because one became uncomfortable.

    As he finished up he found fifty-three being fastened down already. Now that was a fine thing, indeed. Almost.

    “Not so tight on the leg strap. The left one. He will need proper blood flow down there. The subject is an old man, and his veins are particular.” This is why one always had a professional on hand for these sorts of things.

    The guards left the room. A bit of muttering, but that was to be expected. No one liked being reprimanded, no matter how well deserved. Perhaps he would consider calling on the cooks to deliver some ale at the end of the shift. A bit of a thank-you. They were quite good in most cases.

    “Now then. There will be no point in introductions here. You will, I am sure, only think of me as ‘the torturer.’ This is to be expected in your position. I know much about you already.”

    The old man glared back silently. This is what he had been hoping for. A challenge. A man with some steel in his spine, not some mewling damsel or wretch sobbing before the knife was even revealed. The subject’s eyes flicked up towards the windows, then back.

    “By all means, I do bid you to dream of escape. Hope keeps a man alive.”

    He stood and walked out of the subject’s view. Pumped the bellows a few times, and hummed softly to himself. A children’s rhyme, it was. It also helped him keep time while he heated the coals.

    “I already know you have no children, sir knight. Are you, in fact, considered still a knight, even at your advanced age?”

    Wispy white hairs stirred atop the old man’s head as he pumped the bellows patiently. Not long.

    “Not that it matters, of course. All men break under torture. Kings and queens, too, they are only human.”

    It only took moments to heat the irregular lump of steel to a dull, wheat-gold glow. Too hot, and the burn was over too quickly. Too cool and it blistered. Just the right heat was required to linger for a long time after . He wanted to take his time with this one. He picked up the carefully shaped tool with the tongs, and allowed the old man to look at it for a moment. Anticipation was as much a tool as any knife.

    “Men and metal share some properties between them, I have come to believe.”

    He slammed his fist into the subject’s stomach and quickly applied the heat to his left elbow. The old man’s jaw clenched and his muscle flattened gut quivered, but he did not cry out. Not until the torturer quickly wrapped the man’s own arm around the hot metal.

    It was a small cry, more of a hoarse shout than anything. But it was progress.

    “Too much heat, too much stress and, man or metal becomes brittle, prone to shatter. A flash that comes and goes quickly is quickly forgotten. But steadily applied, even steel becomes weak. Even knights.”

    He slowly rolled up his tools, mostly unused. One step at a time.

    “Oh by the way. Did you know that precious young girl, Lady Ann, was it? Did you know that she was recently found out to be guilty of witchcraft?

    “Such a terrible shame, sir knight. And did you know who they sent to do the deed? Shall I tell you?”

    He bent down to whisper in the subject’s ear. This was too good not to apply a little theater.

    “It was Sir Holm. Your protege of decades past, was he not? Twenty years of fine service. Never one to go for half-measures, was he? Bloody Holm, they call him in the East. Maschak Kur, they call him in Ghor- the taker of heads. The beast-men of Jeoulais use his name to frighten children to this day..”

    The old man laughed. It was the loud, booming laugh of the man he had been, before age had withered him away. Its echoes frightened birds outside the high windows, setting them to flight. After a time he tired himself, through pain and mirth. He as reduced to chuckling coughs and labored breathing before long.

    “Fool…” he muttered. “Holm will be the death of you and your schemes.”

    The torturer signaled the guards to take him away. He gave instructions on how to secure number fifty-three with one arm being slowly crippled. It was not quite as he’d hoped, but still and all there was time. Time to begin again, and wear away that gem of hope he had inadvertently given away. With that pleasing thought, he took himself home to dine, and to sleep. All in all, it had not been a bad day.

    It was not quite dawn when a runner summoned him back to work. Unusual. The next subject was not scheduled to be installed until next week.

    The problem was in the cells. A subject had died, they said. Which one, the runner did not know. Well. They were here to die after all. Eventually. Most of them had long since been nearly wrung out.

    Something akin to dread began working its way up his spine when he was taken to the East wing. Surely not…

    But it was. Somehow, fifty-three managed to slice his wrist open, and had quietly bled to death in the night. The rictus on his bearded face would look like death to most men. To a professional, however, it looked like triumph. He would have to find another like this one. Already, ideas were coming to him on how to prolong the process, squeeze ever more information out in careful, measured doses.

    It was not often that steel of such temper could be found, after all.

    1. There’s something to be said about a man who takes pride in his work.

      Here’s hoping some hot lead is forced down his throat.

  12. While the oil is coming to a rolling boil, mix the rice flour, baking powder and dark beer to the proper thickness, season lightly and dip your shrimp, chicken breast or vegetable slices in the batter until coated. Then you simply drop the …

    Excuse me? It’s temper, not tempura.


  13. The organist finished rehearsing for the night, so the remaining musicians decided to depart from the well-tempered scale.
    They re-tuned quickly and settled into the unwavering sounds of the ancients – those pure tones that echo deep within the soul.
    The acoustics in the old stone church were modulated perfectly.

  14. She saw the Cal-Exit button on his jacket and burst into a tirade of expletives.
    He backed away, but not fast enough. Streams of spittle landed on his shoes.
    “Get off my property, you commie bastard,” she yelled.
    He shrugged off down the street and knocked on the next door.

  15. “Welcome to The Forge, cadets! I am called ‘Smith’, but you will call me ‘Sir’. Are there any questions?”

    “Sir! Why are you called ‘Smith’? Is it your name, or is it a title?”

    “Because it is my job over the next two years to temper and test your mettle.”

  16. Agnes pounded on the piano keyboard. Nigel Slim-Howland winced, and noticed even Jenkins and Gwendolyn looking uncomfortable. A feature, he thought, to make them seem more human. “Why must you play with such anger?” he pleaded. “What are you playing, anyway?”

    “Bach,” said Agnes smugly. “It’s called ‘The Ill-Tempered Clavier!'”

  17. This, gentlemen, is The Clapper. You, as well-tempered cavaliers, will each be issued an ill-tempered Clapper. It’s the most dangerous weapon you will carry.

        1. If so, you need a custom-made barrel for storing it, so you will have to engage the services of a copper clapper clipper cooper.

            1. I’m not sure on the regulations covering this; perhaps we need to ask a Copper Clopper Clipper Cooper copper?

                1. If a criminal group masterminded a scheme to steal that hat, would that be a copper clopper clipper cooper copper capper caper?

                  1. And the ship they used to spirit said hat away to a foreign land would be a [deep breath]…
                    Copper Clopper Clipper Cooper Copper Capper Caper Clipper

                    1. I really thought this would earn us a fish, RES.
                      You know…
                      A Copper Clopper Clipper Cooper Copper Capper Caper Clipper Carper

                    2. A fish? I have been anticipating an inundation of fish. Yes …
                      A Copper Clopper Clipper Cooper Copper Capper Caper Clipper Carper Carpet bombing.

                    3. This reeks of a demand for a special investigation, perhaps by a committee headed by former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

                      That would be the Clapper Copper Clopper Clipper Cooper Copper Capper Caper Clipper Carper Carpet Commission.

                      Has the horse died yet?

  18. Got to grind the beginning quests, Arthur thought. Holding tight the angry moggy currently chewing his thumb to a stub, he walked over to the sad little girl and tried to hand her the cat, saying, “Excuse me, miss, have you lost your ‘Temper’?”
    {Ding!} Quest Complete. 1 XP Awarded!

  19. “What was that sound?” the newbie, Rich asked. Apparently he’d been startled by both the loud banging sounds and the profanity that were emerging from the adjacent building. For the third time this month, even if Rich had missed the first two.

    “That was the superintendent of motive power. He’s having a temper problem.” Yet again.

    “I’ll say,” Rich agreed.

    I sighed. “Not his temper. The last few shipments of steel parts have been far weaker than they should be. And we’re at the wrong end of the line to get another shipment quick.” A particularly foul imprecation emerged. “Okay, maybe he does have a problem with his temper, too.”

  20. Coming in a little late, since I was at another convention (one that had at least paid for itself in previous years, but was way down, so we won’t be going back). A bit amused at this week’s prompt — here’s a bit from “The Wolf and the Well-Tempered Clavier.”

    “It sounds so different on the Dragon’s Breath Organ.” She recalled his playing selections from it on a smaller organ in the archbishop’s palace.

    Lupian nodded, the heavy curls of his wig bobbing. “The Dragon’s Breath has more pipes and uses an ancient magical air shaft to provide its wind, rather than bellows, so the pipes speak more intensely. Moreover, the palace organ is tuned to a good circulating temperament, while this one is in the old meantone system. I must avoid certain modulations because of the wolf.”

    “Wolf?” Anne shot a wary glance over the console’s top to the wind chest from which the ranks of pipes rose. The dragons carved on it, said to represent the Old Ixilons who had created the Dragon’s Breath windshaft, were scary enough without a wolf.

    “It’s a figure of speech for the discord created by the syntonic comma…” Lupian broke off at Anne’s raised eyebrow. “Ah, get me started talking music theory and I’ll still be going by Evensong. Better to demonstrate.”

  21. Hmmmm . . . Lupian – lupine, obsessing about ‘the wolf’; thanks, but I’ll pass on that ‘demonstration’.

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