Book Promo And Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike.

Book Promo

*Note these are books sent to us by readers/frequenters of this blog.  Our bringing them to your attention does not imply that we’ve read them and/or endorse them, unless we specifically say so.  As with all such purchases, we recommend you download a sample and make sure it’s to your taste.  If you wish to send us books for next week’s promo, please email to bookpimping at outlook dot com. If you feel a need to re-promo the same book do so no more than once every six months (unless you’re me or my relative. Deal.) One book per author per week. Amazon links only. Oh, yeah, by clicking through and buying (anything, actually) through one of the links below, you will at no cost to you be giving a portion of your purchase to support ATH through our associates number. I ALSO WISH TO REMIND OUR READERS THAT IF THEY WANT TO TIP THE BLOGGER WITHOUT SPENDING EXTRA MONEY, CLICKING TO AMAZON THROUGH ONE OF THE BOOK LINKS ON THE RIGHT, WILL GIVE US SOME AMOUNT OF MONEY FOR PURCHASES MADE IN THE NEXT 24HOURS, OR UNTIL YOU CLICK ANOTHER ASSOCIATE’S LINK. PLEASE CONSIDER CLICKING THROUGH ONE OF THOSE LINKS BEFORE SEARCHING FOR THAT SHED, BIG SCREEN TV, GAMING COMPUTER OR CONSERVATORY YOU WISH TO BUY. That helps defray my time cost of about 2 hours a day on the blog, time probably better spent on fiction. ;)*

FROM PETER GRANT: Take The Star Road.

Nineteen-year-old Steve Maxwell just wants to get his feet on the star road to find a better homeworld. By facing down Lotus Tong thugs, he earns an opportunity to become a spacer apprentice on a merchant spaceship, leaving the corruption and crime of Earth behind. Sure, he needs to prove himself to an older, tight-knit crew, but how bad can it be if he keeps his head down and the decks clean?

He never counted on the interstellar trade routes having their own problems, from local wars to plagues of pirates – and the jade in his luggage is hotter than a neutron star. Steve’s left a world of troubles behind, only to find a galaxy of them ahead…

FROM MALCOLM JAMESON (rediscovered by D. Jason Fleming) : Bullard of the Space Patrol

After 60 years out of print, here at last are the classic tales of John Bullard’s rise through the ranks of the space patrol!

From his first posting as a cadet on the Pollux to the ranks of Admiral, enjoy the pulpy fun as Bullard battles dunderheads within his own officer’s ranks, as well as politicians and other poltroons… To say nothing of the outright thugs and dastardly villains of the enemy side!

FROM BLAKE SMITH: The First Adventure of Sir Garamond de Crecy.

Sir Garamond- Gerry, to his friends- has been knighted for less than a month, and he’s already found his first great quest: saving the beautiful and helpless Princess Alyssia of Ollandra from the dragon that is holding her in dreadful captivity. Or so he thinks…
A lighthearted short story.

FROM JAMES Y. BARTLETT: Year of the Sheep: A Novel of the Highland Clearances

Scotland 1805
The landlord has decreed that the people of the straths and glens must leave their homes to make way for the coming of the blackface sheep and their herders.
The people of the glens, who have lived peacefully there for almost a thousand years, do not want to go.

That was the central conflict of the Highland Clearances, a sad period in Scottish history. James Y. Bartlett’s sweeping historical novel about the Clearances in Sutherland in Scotland’s Far North, focuses in on one important—and historically accurate—fact:

Both the landlord and the people being told to leave were women.

Elizabeth Gordon was the 19th chief of Clan Sutherland, and was married to the wealthiest man in all of Great Britain. The clansmen she told to leave their homes in Glencullen were mostly women, as all the men in the village had been sent off to Europe to fight against Bonaparte.

But those women, inspired by the village shaman and healer, a white witch called Mute Meg; organized by the schoolteacher Anna Kenton; and led by the almost shape-shifting outlaw known as Billy Hanks, decided to make their stand.
Year of the Sheep tells the story of this painful conflict, from the beginning at the Battle of Culloden Moor, through the chaotic events of the French Revolution and into the peaceful glens of Scotland, where the fires unleashed by the changing times threaten to end a way of life that endured over many centuries.

In the hands of noted storyteller and novelist James Y. Bartlett (author of the popular Hacker Golf Mystery series), this story of the Highland Clearances comes alive. There are no happy endings in any tale of the Clearances, but Year of the Sheep will entertain, inspire and evoke memories of a way of life that has gone forever.

ALMA T. C. BOYKIN: Elizabeth of Starland.

Stubborn as a mule? No, stubborn AND her mule.

Colonial Plantation LTD. abandoned ColPlat XI, writing the planet off as a tax loss after a series of severe Carrington-type events. Now, four hundred years later, Laurence V of Frankonia wants to write Elizabeth von Sarmas out of his kingdom, but like her Lander ancestors, Elizabeth refuses to roll over and die.

To survive, she needs to cross the continent, thread her way through a holy war, and find friends in the Eastern Empire—an impossible task for a sheltered gentlewoman. Or is it? Never underestimate a woman with a mission and a mule.

FROM SARAH A. HOYT: Witchfinder.

In Avalon, where the world runs on magic, the king of Britannia appoints a witchfinder to rescue unfortunates with magical power from lands where magic is a capital crime. Or he did. But after the royal princess was kidnapped from her cradle twenty years ago, all travel to other universes has been forbidden, and the position of witchfinder abolished. Seraphim Ainsling, Duke of Darkwater, son of the last witchfinder, breaks the edict. He can’t simply let people die for lack of rescue. His stubborn compassion will bring him trouble and disgrace, turmoil and danger — and maybe, just maybe, the greatest reward of all.

FROM JAMES YOUNG: Against the Tide Imperial: The Struggle for Ceylon.

Well, here’s to hope that my gamble is correct. For if I am wrong, I may truly regret this decision.Vice Admiral Tamon Yamaguchi, commander of the Kido Butai

July 1943. When the United Kingdom was torn asunder under a hail of German firebombs and nerve gas, the distant outpost of Ceylon was an afterthought for both Allies and Axis. Now, one year after King George VI’s death, the small island off of India becomes center stage for a titanic confrontation.

For Vice Admiral Tamon Yamaguchi, the Commonwealth forces on the island sit astride Japan’s sole reliable source of oil. With the Dutch East Indies’ refineries damaged during the Imperial Japanese conquest, Axis crude from the Persian Gulf and rubber from Ceylon’s plantations will be critical to the Japanese Navy’s ability to continue the war into 1944. Yamaguchi knows challenging Vice Admiral Andrew Cunningham may end poorly. Still, the Kido Butai is undefeated, and with good planning the Commonwealth’s Far East Fleet will have to face Yamaguchi’s carriers alone. With the Empire’s lifeblood on the line, the Japanese must roll the dice.

Across the Indian Ocean, Lieutenant Eric Cobb is  bewildered to be operating with the Commonwealth against Axis forces in Africa. Along with an Asiatic Fleet contingent that includes Captain Jacob Morton‘s Houston, Vice Admiral Fletcher’s forces set out to rampage from Madagascar to Mogadishu. Unfortunately for the Allies’ plan, the IJN’s unexpected attack forces them to immediately respond.

When established foes clash in a wholly unexpected location, brave men and violent execution will determine whether the Commonwealth holds Ceylon…or succumbs to the Tide Imperial.

Against the Tide Imperial
 is the third novel of the Usurper’s War series. As Allied and Axis warriors are faced with a completely different conflict than the one planned for decades, their actions will chart a new course for the Greatest Generation.

“Great stuff. Authentic, plausible, and action packed.”-Taylor Anderson


The Quivera Trail is intended as a sequel to the Adelsverein Trilogy,
 following the second generation and Dolph Becker courting and marrying Isobel Lindsay-Groves. Desperate to marry, Isobel and her personal maid, Jane Goodacre embark at Southampton for a new life in a new land — a place entirely alien, when compared to the gentle hills and established estates of England. Slowly but surely, the two women begin exploring their new country … and what they themselves are capable of achieving.

Dolph Becker’s uncle Hansi Richter, the ‘cattle baron’ as he is now called, has plans for Dolph and Isobel to establish a new ranch near the Palo Duro, in the
Panhandle region. Once the winter refuge of the Comanche, the Palo Duro
is now open to ranchers and settlers like their neighbor, Charles Goodnight. Dolph and Hansi Richter have an English investor for this new  property – but after a long-trail drive to get there and the labor of establishing it from the ground , they discover that not all dangers of the frontier are banished. The Becker and Richter families are soon embroiled in a vendetta with a vicious rustler gang.

Jane, meanwhile, finds a new outlet in teaching school – and a romantic attraction to Dolph Becker’s artist brother, Sam. She makes friends with Lizzie Johnson, school-teacher and cattle baroness in her own right, and with the formidable matriarch of the family, Magda Vogel Becker. Can  the friendship between Isobel and Jane remain unbroken in the face of these new possibilities?

FROM CEDAR SANDERSON: Pixie for Hire: Omnibus Edition

He’s a pixie for hire, and she’s just another job.

Lom is a bounty hunter, paid to bring magical creatures of all descriptions back Underhill, to prevent war with humans should they discover the strangers amongst them. Bella is about to find out she’s a real life fairy princess, but all she wants to do is live peacefully in Alaska, where the biggest problems are hungry grizzly bears. He has to bring her in. It’s nothing personal, it’s his job…

Lom lay dying. Bella was tasked with not only the job she never wanted, but the one she did. Could she keep Lom alive long enough for him to come to the rescue when their kingdom needed them? And what did Raven, mysterious trickster spirit and honorary uncle to Bella, want with them? If the threat was big enough to have the trickster worried, Bella knew she needed to have Lom at her side. Underhill might look like a soap-bubble kingdom, but Bella and Lom knew there was a gritty underside. Why else would fairyland need a dark man willing to carry a big gun and be the Pixie for Hire?

This omnibus edition includes the full text of all three books in the Pixie for Hire trilogy: Pixie Noir, Trickster Noir, and Dragon Noir. With a new author’s foreword, you’ll be introduced to the books and then plunge into the world Underhill.

FROM PAM UPHOFF: Double Dragon.

Lieutenant Scarlet Magana was trained as ship’s crew, but it’s a good thing she also had dirt-side scouting training . . .

A distant planet. A damaged hyperspace colony ship. Lieutenant Magana and the rest of the crew discover that not only are they not the first arrivals . . . they may well be the third.

And then there are the dragons . . . and a serial killer.

FROM BECKY R. JONES: Academic Magic

Zoe has found her dream job at a small liberal arts college teaching the history of Medieval witchcraft and magic. Academic life is exactly what she expected it to be…until the squirrels stop by to talk with her and her department chair and best friend turn out to be mages.

Zoe discovers a world of magic and power she never knew existed. She and other faculty mages race to stop a coven from raising a demon on the winter solstice while simultaneously grading piles of final exams and reading the tortured prose of undergraduate term papers. But first, she must learn to master her new-found powers.

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: CHIEF

53 thoughts on “Book Promo And Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike.

  1. Jore wasn’t unhappy as first assistant to the obscenely fat and flabby head of Galactic Recoveries, Inc.

    The position paid well and the perks, company space ship, etc., were excellent.

    However he was somewhat disturbed that all the other employees referred to him as the chief crook and waddle washer.

  2. I’ve read, “Bullard of the Space Patrol.”! It was in the junior high school library if I remember right. Good, solid space opera.

    1. I was a little more than 7 when the book came out, and I’ve never heard of this before. My jr. high school had SF in the library, but not this one.

  3. Chief Martinez was less than happy when Gunnery Sergeant Damian tapped on the bulkhead beside his office space. “What now, Gunny?”

    “The dragon that wasn’t following the Forrestal is now not following us.” The senior Marine NCO’s expression wavered between resignation and pure frustration. “It’s been not following us since we left the Malacca Straits, according to the gunnery crew.”

  4. “Chief, I got some less than great news.”

    Chief Martinez glowered up at Gunny Damian. “What?”

    The senior Marine NCO said, “The dragon that wasn’t seen following the Forrestall? It’s not following us. Gunnery crew says that it’s been not following us since we cleared the Malacca Straits.” Damian’s expression alternated between frustrated and resigned.

    The Texas’ chief leaned back in his chair. “Why the hell does a d-mn non-existent, mythological, radar-invisible reptile pick MY ship to pester? Why? And don’t answer, please,” he added, looking up at the overhead.

  5. “Harvest moon come; soon time to pick new chief. This our chance to show white man we just as civilized as he.”

    “Understood, Red Dog. Me go now to rig voting apparatus and sow blind fanaticism among bloodthirsty young braves.”

    “Ugh! You good fellow, Screaming Eagle. Great Spirit speed you.”

  6. The Commandant sternly examined the Cadet standing before his desk. The Cadet’s uniform was dirty and torn but that wasn’t why the Cadet was in his office.

    “Tell me Cadet Williamson, do you know why you are here?”

    Cadet Williamson replied “Sir, I thought I was here to complain about the dirty trick Cadet Sky-Wolf played on me”.

    “Ah yes, the “dirty trick”. He lead you into the Danger Area and initiated a Class AAA training bout with you. A Training Bout that you had signed off on.”

    “I… I… I didn’t know that I signed any thing like that, sir.”

    “That’s about the fourth mistake you made. First you continued to call Cadet Sky-Wolf “Chief” after he warned you that he disliked you calling him that. Second, your tutors warned about you about that. Third, plenty of your class-mates & older Cadets warned you about that.

    “Then your fourth mistake was signing paperwork that Cadet Sky-Wolf asked you to sign without reading the paperwork. Oh, Cadet Sky-Wolf had taken the precaution of recording the signing of the paperwork so he’s in the clear. Of course, a Class AAA training bout means that he’d be in big trouble if he killed or severely injured you so he’s covered that way.

    “Finally he “lured” you into the Danger Area on very loose grounds that you could have challenged but failed to do so. Any thing to say Cadet Williamson?”

    Cadet Williamson was quiet for a minute or so but was obviously thinking about the situation then said “Well call me “Eater Of Crow”, he really got me. Especially since his tornado attack could have put me out without him violated AAA training bout protocols.

    “What next sir?”.

  7. Pullo had only wanted to save his village from the Grey Creeping, a miles-wide mass of insects that stripped all living matter down to bare ground. His successful development of the repellent spray vindicated his shaman training. But he never expected that to propel him into the position of Chief!

  8. When exactly had Texaco stopped selling Sky Chief gas? Roger had plenty of memories of buying it in Houston before the Fire, and he didn’t even need to put in an archive call to his spacecraft embodiment to retrieve them. But by the time Toni had pieced him back together as an infomorph, Texaco had been long gone, remembered only in rusted signs on a few abandoned gas stations along the path of their cross-country flight to the rocket that would put him out of reach of those who would destroy him.

    Obviously Texaco was still a going concern here in this world, where they’d escaped the Fire in the nick of time, where the Apollo program hadn’t been cut off at the knees and had become the foundation of a real space program. However, Roger saw no reference to Sky Chief gas at this station, not on the sign, not on the pumps, not at the cashier’s desk in the convenience store. Sure, he could ask the Admiral, but right now they were in public, and there was no way to phrase the question that wouldn’t raise more questions. Better just set a memory flag to ask once they were on the road again, back in the little bubble of privacy that was an automobile.

  9. The Most August Etty Biggs-Wharton, Chair of the Imperial Defense Commission, sat in her office and eyed the guardsman in front of her with disfavor. He stood at an unprofessional slouch.

    It was true that the guards were greatly outnumbered by the crowd outside the Capitol, and — this didn’t improve her mood, because she knew that it was partially her fault — that they had been unprepared for the size and unruliness of the citizens’ rally, but imperial guards were highly trained and the ranks had finally been purged of dissidents. They should have been able to disperse the importunate rabble. Instead, the outer doors had been breached and now the Great Unwashed…”citizens,” they called themselves…were cavorting in the marble halls at the heart of the Imperium, demanding a hearing they didn’t deserve.

    “Well?” she demanded of the guardsman. “Have you secured the inner doors?”

    The Imperial Assembly had vacated their chambers and were now slowly filing through a narrow tunnel that led to a safer part of the capitol precinct. The citizens had their hollow triumph, but she could still win the day…if only they were delayed a few more minutes.

    “Well?” She tapped her foot impatiently. “Are they secured, or not?”

    “Afraid not, Chief,” the guardsman replied.

    A thunderous look clouded her face. This was monumental disrespect! She peered over her bifocals at his nametag, suddenly interested in who he was. Ross, was it? Guardsman Ross’s career was going to end the second she got out of this building.

    Just then the door banged open, and suddenly her office was filled with non-uniformed men and women. One of the men planted a flag on her desk — a coiled serpent, the hated symbol of the insurrection. And then a woman planted another flag — the same design as the imperial standard, but with a double circle of stars instead of the crowded imperial constellation.

    And Guardsman Ross, no longer slouching and unprofessional, now stood straight and proud, saluting those flags.

  10. WordPress ate the first comment, but won’t let me resubmit — so here it is again, with this explanation added to (I hope) fool the duplicate-comment algorithm. WordPress is the WORST blogging software ever…except for all the rest.
    The Most August Etty Biggs-Wharton, Chair of the Imperial Defense Commission, sat in her office and eyed the guardsman in front of her with disfavor. He stood at an unprofessional slouch.

    It was true that the guards were greatly outnumbered by the crowd outside the Capitol, and — this didn’t improve her mood, because she knew that it was partially her fault — that they had been unprepared for the size and unruliness of the citizens’ rally, but imperial guards were highly trained and the ranks had finally been purged of dissidents. They should have been able to disperse the importunate rabble. Instead, the outer doors had been breached and now the Great Unwashed…”citizens,” they called themselves…were cavorting in the marble halls at the heart of the Imperium, demanding a hearing they didn’t deserve.

    “Well?” she demanded of the guardsman. “Have you secured the inner doors?”

    The Imperial Assembly had vacated their chambers and were now slowly filing through a narrow tunnel that led to a safer part of the capitol precinct. The citizens had their hollow triumph, but she could still win the day…if only they were delayed a few more minutes.

    “Well?” She tapped her foot impatiently. “Are they secured, or not?”

    “Afraid not, Chief,” the guardsman replied.

    A thunderous look clouded her face. This was monumental disrespect! She peered over her bifocals at his nametag, suddenly interested in who he was. Ross, was it? Guardsman Ross’s career was going to end the second she got out of this building.

    Just then the door banged open, and suddenly her office was filled with non-uniformed men and women. One of the men planted a flag on her desk — a coiled serpent, the hated symbol of the insurrection. And then a woman planted another flag — the same design as the imperial standard, but with a double circle of stars instead of the crowded imperial constellation.

    And Guardsman Ross, no longer slouching and unprofessional, now stood straight and proud, saluting those flags.

  11. I’ve heard good things about Bullard of the Space Patrol. I’ll have to check that out when I get the chance.

    1. I like knives. They’re SHARP, and POINTY, some are SHINY, but the not-shiny ones are the one you need to keep a keen eye on, from a goooooooooooooood distance. Like 50 feet or more, and think “feet, don’t fail me now”.

  12. The chief danger was being caught where the shadow was not defined by light.
    “Where’s Ava?” said his father.
    “I had a servant escort her back inside,” said Julian. “He came with the message to the garden.”
    “Foolish,” said his father. “We had best hurry, to protect her as well.”

    1. But the intensity slowly fizzled into nothing as he waited…and waited…for the runner to arrive. Turns out the messenger couldn’t run at all; he could only ran, because it was past tents.

  13. Dang it, I wrote a thing for this — first time with a vignette here — but WordPress has decided to eat ALL my comments today. Really starting to hate WordPress; it’s the worst blogging software there is…except for all the others. Luckily I copied it before hitting the post button, so I put it on my own blog instead.

    We’ll see if I’m lucky enough to get this one through…

        1. >> “WordPress Delenda Est!”

          >> “Con Carne!”


          WordPress must be destroyed with meat?

          That’s… oddly specific. And would probably make a decent Sunday writing prompt in itself.

            1. I feel like we just had a real-life “my hovercraft is full of eels” moment there.

              1. Possibly?
                I honestly don’t know why. It’s not even that different from Portuguese.
                I think at some point a Mexican restaurant gave us a detailed description of a special I wouldn’t want in a million years, and as I started shaking my head, they said with great elan “CON CARNE” and it stuck in my brain.

                1. Well, now I’m going to be mentally appending “with meat” every time someone says “WordPress delenda est” around here, so thanks for that I guess. 😛

      1. And now they ALL came through in the end and I look like a lunatic. Eh, that’s not so unfamiliar, though.

  14. “I don’t want to be a thief,” said Autumn.
    Brian laughed. “That requires your stealing something. Merely knowing how to do it does not make you a thief. But the chief thing is knowing how to do it because you may well need the knowledge for doing other, important things.”

  15. If some peril were threatening the land, it would be the place of the Hierophant to deal with it. Consulting all the chief priests of the church as well.
    She poured more water over a new stretch of floor. Certainly not an acolyte who had barely mastered the healing arts.

  16. The chief point was finding out where to go. They didn’t look ready to burn me as a witch, they looked pleased to see me, but I couldn’t eat their pleasure. Or sleep in its shelter in rain.
    “Over here, sir!” a boy called, and a chorus of assent followed.

  17. The Last Howl

    It was morning when she heard it. The Last Howl, they called it. There was no mistaking that sound, nothing in the world could hold crushing loss, shame, and sorrow quite like it. Old Sela knew what it was because even she could smell the death coming from next door.

    Not that it made it hurt any less, the knowing. Big ones could die, too, not just cats and dogs and all the other creatures that followed the Old Ways, not just the vermin and the shadows and all the other things she had killed to protect those she called her own. All living things owed Himself a death. She sighed. Chief was going to be an absolute mess right now.

    Chief was an old pit mix, a friend of sorts that lived next door with his Big Ones. Old, but she’d known him when he was just a pup. That didn’t make her feel any younger. It was him that called out the Last Howl, for it was his very own Big One that had passed this bright spring morning. Sneaking out was easy, almost as easy as it had been when she was young. Out the back door while no one was looking and up the fence to the bright red tool shed. From that height she could see- and be seen, apparantly.

    “You, cat! You come down here and fight! You come down right now!”

    Old Sela snorted softly in response, and proceeded to groom herself while she waited. Boris was a snow white something-or-other, too young and puppy-like to tell just yet what he’d grow into. What he was just now was simply annoying. No sense of culture, that one.

    “Hey! I said-”

    “Cut it out, Boris. That’s Old Sela. If she comes down here, you will treat her as a gentleman and with respect, am I clear?”


    “I said, am I clear?

    “Ye-yes Chief. I’m sorry, Chief.”

    The big pit bull rolled his eyes at the cowering pup, settling down with a soft groan. His hip was bothering him again, she could tell. Physically, anyway.

    “Old Sela, it’s a pleasure to see you again. How are the kits coming along? Socks ever get her head out of her fluffy butt yet?”

    “That’d only help if there was anything but fluff between her ears, Chief. Ye cain’t teach smarts, lad. It just don’t work.”

    Chief side eyed the pup still staring big eyed at the two adults. He chuckled a bit in agreement.

    “I heard the Last Howl. Came over to check on you and yours. How are your Big Ones takin’ it?”

    He closed his eyes and gusted a long sigh. She could see the weariness weighing on him. She felt it herself, somewhat. Age. And the burdens they all carried with it.

    “They’re away now. Took his body, too. There’s little ones that have been staying here, too, with the Big Ones that smell like him. His own great big two legged pups, like. I think they knew.”

    He stopped there, but that wasn’t all. She knew it wasn’t all, of course. She’d quite literally known him all his life.

    “Go on, lad. Spit it out.”

    “It’s the shadows, Old Sela. There’s more of them than there ought to be.”

    “’Course they are. You gots little ‘uns in there now, yeah? Little ‘uns draw shadows like a rottin’ corpse draws flies. Dunno why, they just do. But what else has yer guts a churnin’, lad?”

    He hesitated again. That was his way, she reflected. Chief always wanted to get things right. He was a smart one that way. Some cats thought all dogs were dumb. Wasn’t the case, though there were exceptions.

    “It’s just that they don’t smell right. There’s more of them than there ought to be, and they don’t smell right. And once, I think, and I could be wrong about this, once I think I caught scent of one about in the day. That can’t be true, though, can it?”

    The old cat froze, her mind a blur. Memories of old battles, bitter enemies fought to the death, some of the larger and more dangerous threats to her territory and her Big Ones. Things she’d hoped she’d never see again, things she’d hoped were long dead and buried. Threats she’d faced as a much younger cat and barely defeated that had killed allies and friends. She snapped back to the present with a will.

    “Where and when, Chief. Tell me precisely where and when you saw that shadow in the daylight.”

    1. This is uncannily like the premise of a novel I wrote and left mostly-but-not-quite finished a few years ago. AND gave me an idea for how to rewrite the first couple of chapters!

      1. ;P

        I write cat stories when I can’t write anything else. Old Sela has appeared here once before, and probably will again. Go write awesome stories! Maybe we’ll see it once it is done on the weekend book promo, eh?

  18. “Wow,” said April. “Arrive and get installed as the chief leaders of the place.”
    “It did take us a minute or two to work our way up to the top level,” said Rose, dryly.
    “If the people are that desperate,” said Hope, “we have to stop nattering and start planning.”

  19. LOL 😆

    Well, I got the Bullard book and actually Laughed Out Loud at the ending of “Orders”. (Not giving any spoilers) 😀

  20. There’s a Bad Link for “The First Adventure of Sir Garamond de Crecy”. It sends me to the Bullard book.

  21. The Carpenter Speaks
    (with apologies to Lewis Carroll)

    “A loaf of bread,” the Walrus said,
    “is what we chiefly need.
    Pepper and vinegar besides
    are very good indeed.
    Now if you’re ready, oysters dear,
    we can begin to feed.”

    “Speak for yourself!” said the Carpenter.
    “You know you always do.
    But I’m on a low-carb diet. I’m
    allergic to shellfish, too.
    And before you change the subject,
    I don’t give a fig for the view!

    “You dragged me out of my cozy bed
    to walk this shell-strewn beach
    in the light of the moon, at midnight,
    ostensibly to preach
    your asinine thoughts on kings and ships
    or the length of fuzz on a peach.

    “But the reason that you are really here,
    your diabolical plan
    was to poach all the oysters on the beach
    despite the posted ban.
    You figured I’d be your accomplice, but
    you’ve chosen the wrong man.

    “I will not aid nor abet you, though
    you thought me to be your tool.
    You’re an avaricious bastard, but
    I’m nobody’s fool.
    I’ve sand in my boots, and I don’t give two hoots
    if you drown in a tidal pool.

    “You’ve dreamt of eating those oysters raw, just
    slurping them down for fun.
    But the joke’s on you, you pretentious sod,
    when all is said and done.
    For the tide’s come in, and it’s scarcely odd
    that they’ve vanished, every one.”


  22. “They can’t do this, you can’t do this, it’s evil! A boy belongs with his mother!”

    “The way I’ve always heard it, Mrs. Whitacre, a child belongs with both his parents, unless that can’t happen or is even worse than only one.” And he smiled a particular sort of self-deprecating smile. “But what do I know, I’m just Himself Hereabouts and I’ve never been within a dozen light-years of Earth.”

    There was a certain amount of laughter — polite, restrained, and yet still very courteously pointed. From people who (mostly) well knew what limits there were here, and why and how to stay on the right side of them.

    “Yes, but I simply can’t stand being around… that man, any more. That’s why they called it…” and she picked up the stiff piece of paper that was a certified printout of the judgment of a court, so far away, “‘…irreconcilable differences’ between him and me” — she said, both almost brightly and also in a way that was somehow vaguely triumphant. “And, Your Honor, I prefer to be called by my maiden name now, so it’s properly Ms. Dalitz.”

    “And yet, Mrs. Agnes Whitacre of House Langmuir, you have still a child by the name of James Roger Whitacre with ‘that man’ — so since the lad stands here right in front of me and you both, I’ll not easily be disparaging the propriety of his birth and his right to his own name; and his own House, and his own kin here in this room and elsewhere. Were we having a drink together in the pub I’d not hesitate to indulge you in that, but this is a more consequential setting.”

    And he picked up a handheld slate, in one hardly-delicate hand. “Furthermore, in point of fact you’ve not re-registered yourself as having anything different from your married name, Agnes Jane Dalitz Whitacre of House Langmuir and Clan Mackenzie, the last two originally by marriage but now by your own right. It makes a bit of a difference, here, you’ll have to understand, though the first is not such a direct concern of mine, the second is the reason you’re here, all of eight thousand feet above ‘sea level’ in the lower high-Highlands, talking to me… that’s about what they used to call ‘standing’ back on the Old Globe.”

    “Yes, yes, Your Honor, that’s why I’m talking to you, begging you. Because now you’re my last hope, or so they tell me. All I want to do is go home, finally, get on with my life the best I can, make it all over again with my son. He’s just about everything in the world to me, Your Honor, he’s most of all I have left.”

    “Rightly and passionately said, Mrs. Whitacre, I have no doubt. And yet what would Mr. Roger Giaccomo Whitacre, of the same House and Clan as you and your son too, say different from that? Is there a reason you can give me, why he’s not here to speak for himself, why he’s not at least added a statement in writing for you to give me? Here you are repeating the words and standing on the decision-making of all these men (or women) so far away, surely good and true upstanding people I’d warrant, yet not one of them known to me or to the father of your son and your intimate companion those several years — while I have not a word yet from the man who’d matter most alongside you, to him.” And he nodded to where a very formally-dressed and uncomfortable-looking boy of twelve stood, looking equal measures brave and worried and lost.

    As she stood as she had done, resolute but wordless.

    “What you seek to do, with this request of yours, is rip that boy away from the only father he’s ever known, true in blood and fostering both, and just haul him away across the long wide dark back to Old Earth — and disappear in all its crowds and be lost to Roger Whitacre and all of us. Comforting as it might seem to you, fleeing off into the familiar, I cannot now believe it’s for the best.

    “And I speak not only of your son Jamie, or your ex-husband Roger (who you really should formally let go of here, if you mean to do that, and not just back on Earth). I speak also of you, Agnes Jane Dalitz and for now also Whitacre. You married yourself into our clan, named in English after a word in Scottish that really just means ‘children’ — and by the machinations of Providence or maybe only the vagaries of Fate, I am its chief, my blessing and my burden.

    “James Whitacre is your family, your own flesh and blood just as surely as anyone’s ever been — but so (even if you cannot stand the man and would rather walk all the way back to Earth, if you could, than be with him again) very nearly the same is Roger Whitacre, for Jamie’s flesh is both of yours, down to the four-note song in his blood that makes him who he is too. You made that choice, free and open to you — and when you did you accepted us all as your family too. You might want to simply desert us, me, as you mean to flee from those ‘irreconcilable differences’ which for all I know now are just that.

    “Don’t you?” His words were gentle, almost soft, and yet fell like mountains.

    “Yes. Yes, Your Honor if you put it that way I have to agree.

    “Because” — and she did not flinch or quaver, and yet — “I do not know what else I could do, what else I can imagine. I have to find a way to… not drown.”

    “And so you come here to me, which is to say you come here to us, to have us hand you a way to not drown, to give you what you need. Have you ever even thought that we could be of some better use in that, to you and for you, Agnes Jane?”

    “No.” The word came out on a breath, dropping in pitch and volume, almost a sigh made syllable, all her brittle hectoring formality drowned in its depths.

    “So I can tell you and all how it will be, for us, as the head of Clan Mackenzie Upon Marquesas. The boy will not be stolen away by my word, for a period of one year — of course you are free to go, Mrs. Whitacre, it is only my wish and my humble request that you stay — after which we, here, will revisit this hard and most ancient question again.”

    And she stood still, and did not crumple or cry or flinch. But was so still…

    “But I ask you, Mrs. Whitacre, to let us help, however we can. You were not born here, in our high-Highlands or on Marquesas. You chose to marry ‘that man’ and now you choose to put him from you and your side — yet I ask for now, at least, Agnes, not to do that also to us. We might not, the rest of us, be nearly so ‘irreconcilable’ to you — and unlike the ‘court system’ on Old Earth or other such sophisticated places, we do not give up so easily.

    “I want you to have a full moon, twenty-five days. I’d like to see you then, in my offices or here in the audience hall, after that time. I’d encourage you to seek me out sooner if you like, perhaps we could even meet in a pub over a pint if it suits you better.” He’d looked down at her, familiarly but respectfully.

    And he raised his head, and his look and manner was different, hard as the granite that still underlay so much of the bogs of old Scotland. “There on Earth they believe things we do not, did not, will not. Here on Marquesas and up here especially in our high-Highlands, for us Albannach or Nihongo or otherwise, there are no ones of no use at all; no dispensible or consumable or disposable people, no unpersons or deplorable human rubbish, no gens-déchets or camp-fodder to be burned up like chaff. And the ties of blood and breath are not so easily lost or frayed here with us, but endure, gu brath.”

    And again he smiled. “So I give you not a judgment but a plea. Next petition!”

  23. “When we strengthened the Constitution and reinstated the government, it was decided that what the government does is less important than what it doesn’t do. Thus, my office of Negator-In-Chief was created.”

    “I can’t pass laws, but I can strike down any law, rule or regulation which does not serve the public interest as defined by the Constitution. I can’t appoint officials, but I can fire any government employee, eliminate any government job, or force any politician to face a recall election at any time. I can’t put anybody on trial, or impose penalties, but I can issue pardons, and compel the government to provide restitution.”

    “I have an informal policy of leaving most laws in effect for six months, no matter what I think of them, so everybody can see how bad they are. Of course, the House, Senate, President and Supreme Court can also repeal laws. Simply mentioning that I don’t care for a particular law often causes them to re-evaluate it.”

    1. “I am merely a sovereign negator, a special Judge. Or more than a judge, as I’m the jury and the executioner also. The position is unpaid. And while it requires a degree in law, and memorization of the Constitution itself, I have no authority over laws and regulations. All I can do is eliminate government employees or politicians who, after receiving a single, public notice to cease and desist, continue to violate the Constitution.”

      “Appeal to my better nature? I have none. Oh, you mean legal appeal. Sorry, but government employees and politicians forfeit that right when they take public office. Why aren’t they treated the same as all people before the law? Because when an ordinary citizen breaks the law, the consequences of the crime are limited, and the person has no shelter from retribution. When a government employee or politician breaks the law, they are automatically shielded by the entire mass of the government itself. Worse, when they break the law, the damage from their crime is multiplied immensely. Everyone suffers, not just those close to the criminal. Such things happened so often in the early 21st century that rule of law broke down; and no one had any faith in it.”

      (Yeah, I love the Judge Dredd stories, and the concept behind them.)

Comments are closed.