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

Book promo

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. A COMMISSION IS EARNED FROM EACH PURCHASE.
*Note that I haven’t read most of these books (my reading is eclectic and “craving led”,) and apply the usual cautions to buying. – SAH*



Darkship Thieves

Darkship Renegades

FROM LEANN NEAL REILLY: The Last Stratiote: A Dark Urban Fantasy Retelling of A Tale of Two Cities

Foul-mouthed and bloodthirsty, Elira Dukagjini should have died 500 hundred years ago. Instead, she left her Albanian homeland at the start of the 16th century to fight as a stratiote, a mercenary. She wears a gruesome keepsake in a leather pouch around her neck and a telltale scar on her breast. Driven to enforce the primal Blood Law, Elira spends her days running a café and bookstore in a modern Boston suburb while hunting human prey at night.

Until one fateful night when the prey Elira hunts have their own prey: Mirjeta Gjakova, the intended honor sacrifice of fundamentalist imam Xhemajl Krasniqi — Elira’s uncanny and more civilized twin living the life that Elira never had.

The war that Elira left behind in the Balkans never really ended. And now, in the 21st Century, she once again must choose between slaking her endless bloodthirst and finally quenching it.

FROM J. M. NEY-GRIM: Artemis in Chase (The Hades Cycle Book 2)

The goddess of the hunt burns for justice…

When Artemis discovers her handmaiden dead in the forest—slain by Dìs, lord of the underworld—she demands that Zeus punish the murder. But Zeus upholds Dìs, who boasts that he will steal a nymph away to his dark realm whenever he so desires.

The indifference of the other Olympians forces Artemis to take matters into her own hands.

Because Dìs wields powers beyond any Artemis commands, she crafts a complex scheme to secure the magical artifact she needs to bring Dìs to his knees.

But unless Artemis learns the essential truth at the heart of all vengeance, her strategy must fail. Will she do what she knows is wrong to defeat Dìs? Or will she do right and condemn her nymphs to death by his hand?

Artemis in Chase is the second tale in the immersive Hades Cycle. If you’re entranced by the gods and goddesses of ancient Greece—if you long to visit their mythic world, to witness their passions and triumphs—you’ll love J.M. Ney-Grimm’s compelling story of revelation and revenge.

FROM C. CHANCY: Oni the Lonely

A grieving mountain cove doctor. A pair of wayward oni. A curse borne on the black wings of crows.

The Rivertown Shopping Village has seen a lot of strange proprietors. An oni painter on the run from a bad breakup is a new one. Maple Leaf Studio opened with blazing color, but will a haunting end Kyosai Momoji’s dream before it begins?

At the south end of Rivertown, Rain McKee delivers soap and perfume with a hint of mountain blessings, picking up her life in the wake of her grandparents’ deaths. Deaths that may have been from a firstborn curse….

Kyosai’s a firstborn, and oni attract trouble like lightning strikes. If either of them want to survive, they’ll have to face haunts, monsters, and a curse so ancient no living mortal knows its name.

The Appalachians are old; the evils lurking there, older still….

(If you want ancient folklore, modern magic, and a love story that prioritizes friendship first, this is the slow burn for you!)


What could be worse than a zombie apocalypse? Two tales: A nameless protagonist faces off with humanity’s worst fears. The motley group just needs to find someplace safe. Maybe, then, they can think about the families that were left behind.

In the second story of the apocalypse, the defenders of what’s left of civilization discover the cold winters of Alaska are not enough to save them. Right now, they need some redneck engineering, and a whole lot of luck. Time is growing short, and the skies are buzzing…

FROM ALMA BOYKIN: Familiar Tales

Smiley Lorraine: Wolverine. Rosie Jones: 100-lb. Skunk. Morgana Lorraine: Witch with Editorial Problems.

Welcome to a world where Familiars choose magic workers, and a few others, as their partners. A world of adventure, tax-deductions, bad publisher tricks, and odd veterinary clinics, where wolverines wear glasses and iguanas sing along with the radio—badly—while casting spells and keeping their chosen humans out of mischief.

Or try to.

(Five short-stories.)

FROM BLAKE SMITH: Fairyland: A Short Story

Eleven-year-old Branna fell asleep on a hill in the foggy Irish countryside and woke up in a land that was supposed to be a myth. Fairyland is a beautiful place of green oaks and golden light, but it is also a dangerous land, and Branna must use all of her cleverness if she is to escape the clutches of the fey creatures who rule over it.

FROM JAMES Y. BARTLETT: Rainbow’s End: A Swamp Yankee Mystery (The Swamp Yankee Mysteries Book 3)

All seems peaceful in Little Penwick, the smallest town in the smallest state. Then, Police Chief Gus Haddock is run off the road, someone shoots at the police station and the realization sets in …

… She’s baaa-ack!

Janine Stone, the Glitter Girl in Book One of James Y. Bartlett’s Swamp Yankee Mysteries, has returned to town and she’s looking for the pot of gold she was owed from the human smuggling ring she ran for the criminal element up in Providence.
So Chief Haddock and the Little Penwick department start searching around town … for Janine … for the stash of money … for the local idiots Janine paid to shoot up the station.

At the same time, Gus Haddock’s personal life is set aflame when his girlfriend, the Providence lawyer-turned-abused-women’s-advocate Maggie Wells announces she’s pregnant.

It’s all in a day’s work for a Swamp Yankee like Gus Haddock in this exciting new small town police drama.

FROM KAREN MYERS: The Chained Adept: A Lost Wizard’s Tale


Have you ever wondered how you might rise to a dangerous situation and become the hero that was needed?

The wizard Penrys has barely gained her footing in the country where she was found three years ago, chained around the neck and wiped of all knowledge. And now, an ill-planned experiment has sent her a quarter of the way around her world.

One magic working has called to another and landed Penrys in the middle of an ugly war between neighboring countries, half a world away.

No one has any reason to trust her amid rumors of wizards where they don’t belong. And she fears to let them know just what she can do — especially since she can’t explain herself to them and she doesn’t know everything about herself either.

Penrys has her own problems, and she doesn’t have any place in this conflict. But they need her, whether they realize it or not. And so she’s determined to try and lend a hand, if she can. Whatever it takes.

And once she discovers there’s another chained adept, even stronger than she is, she’s hooked. Friend or foe, she has questions for him — oh, yes, she does.

All she wants is a firm foundation for the rest of her life, with a side helping of retribution, and if she has to fix things along the way, well, so be it.

The Chained Adept is the first book of the series.

FROM DOROTHY GRANT: Between Two Graves (Combined Operations Book 4)

He swore he wouldn’t be back while his parents lived…

Now, almost thirty years later, AJ is going home.

Ordered to attend his mother’s funeral in the rugged northern border of the Empire, AJ is baring old wounds to his new wife, and burying familial feuds.

But the past won’t die that easily, and grave secrets will threaten all the survivors and the women they love. Because the Feds are after AJ’s unwanted inheritance…

And they’re willing to risk a war to get their hands on it.

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: NOD

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

  1. “With just whom they send here?” She nodded to the two of them. “Two girls.” She waved her free hand toward the doorway. “Two boys. Certainly they could not be certain of making one match out of that, let alone two. Unless they insist on arranging one after all that.”

  2. When “a wink is as good as a nod”, remember the widow of Nain.

    There is always hope. And often it arrives unexpectedly, after we “know” all hope is gone.

  3. “Dang it, Sargeant. I can’t see anything with these on. It’s all just green glow and no depth perception.”
    “It’s tough, but that’s why you’re practicing, Johnson. You got to learn to use your nods.”

  4. She marked where her guards were. They would hold their tongues at a nod from her, but she had no wish for them even to know of her leaving. One might innocently betray that she was gone, and not refusing to admit courtiers.
    Then she had doors to allow exit.

  5. “Now, what says this one?” Miss Scarlet tapped some more engraving with long, bright-red nails. Jon was fairly sure there was a joke in her name, although Isaac assured him that it was a reasonable translation. No-one would wear such a frilly and layered costume that left so very little to the imagination, in that color, while identifying themselves as “Scarlet,” without some sort of elaborate joke being involved.
    He suppressed a sigh and looked at the writing.
    “It’s another line from the-” Jon swallowed the obscenity he’d been about to use, or Isaac would give him a look. “-ah, the reading practice. It just says ‘buffalo’ over and over.”
    “It means bison from Buffalo confuse eachother.” That was Isaac, lifting one of the consoles as if it didn’t weigh most of a ton. Jon thought about it, and nodded, while Scarlet looked dubious.
    “The one of tough, thorough thoughts was enough badness.”

        1. Dang, I just looked up the poem for the first time. That’s a bumpy ride. Those poor souls learning English as a second language… God bless them all.

          Especially our dear Hostess.

  6. Liam nodded. Perhaps Kevin had learned which kingdoms lay ahead, but he did not know enough to make a choice.
    If Kevin had learned where the golden apple grew, neither he nor Ewan had ever had a chance.
    “I’ll go straight,” said Ewan, his gaze shifting from side to side.

  7. “Stop bobbing your head!, Space Ranger Rick told Cadet Carl.

    “You told me to.”, replied Carl .

    “Didn’t.”, stated Rick.

    “Did too!” countered Carl

    “Here’s what I said in writing.” Rick handed Carl the paper; “ Stop Cadet, don’t do that, do not!”

    “OK I have a bad code and my nose is plugged so maybe nod sounded like nod.”

  8. The last man on earth stood alone in the room. He said “I am the last man on earth and I have a bad code, my joints ache, my poor nose is plugged up, sure signs of the Bad China Code, Covid, I guess I’m nod long for this world.

    OK I generally try for exactly 50 words on these vignettes , the one I posted above was 60, but this one’s 50. 🙂

    1. Hmm…


      Commander Celtic glances down towards Weapons Officer Celtic and nods.

      “Carp launched! Next load is ready, sir.”

      “On my command – FIRE!”

  9. SIIIIIIIIIIIIGH…. I’m supposed to be working on my submission to LawDog’s Space Marines anthology. But my muse is insisting we plot out a 20’s-30’s hardboiled detective story instead. So here ya go.


    “I don’t like you being here, Mosby!” Lowey snarled into my face, “And I don’t like you packing that cannon around my city like some kind of vigilante!”

    ‘That cannon’ was the .45 caliber Colt’s Model of 1909 that I’d bought for cheap after the Army had surplused its old revolvers out after The Great War. And the source of the idiotic nickname that I’d liked back when I’d been young and dumb and worn a badge but had since aged like old milk.

    “Firstly, Captain,” I ground out my reply, “You ordered me here, remember? Second, I have a license to carry that ‘cannon,’ signed by the Mayor, and a license to work as a private dick, also signed by the Mayor. And third, that ‘cannon’ has saved my life more times than I care to remember. Which is more than I can say for the service .38 the department issued me.”

    “There’s nothing wrong with the .38! The boys love it just fine. Call it “the Widow-Maker” when they think we aren’t listening.”

    “You ever ask ’em why the call it that?” I asked Lowey, but didn’t give the useless tub of lard a chance to answer. “It’s ’cause you can put all six into a hood’s chest, an’ the hood will more as like still live long enough to turn your wife into a widow. Seen it happen twice myself.” And it would’ve happened to me too if I hadn’t been carrying that backup gat in my pocket. Saved my life but cost me my badge.

    Lowey’s beady eyes screwed shut and his cheeks went flush with anger. Probably for the best that he didn’t see the uniform behind him nod along with me.

    1. Heh, that’s sort-of how I’ve been feeling even though I don’t have any writing obligation. I just can’t seem to stop working on this world of mechs and curses and the people that inhabit them!

  10. Guillaume’s hand covered hers. “They are not watching. We shall leave now.”
    Rose nodded, not daring to trust her voice. He held out his arm and she took it. He helped her deftly up and back to the wall, and then they were out of the room, toward the stairs.

  11. Different characters from the new setting this time:

    “Speak, Minister. What is happening in the north?”

    “War, Your Majesty,” the man replied, doing his best to keep a veneer of calm over the sheer terror he felt. “King Philippe stepped on King Friedrich’s toes one too many times and thus Baldraz invaded Loire two weeks ago. The Baldrazians had the advantage early on thanks to their champions but King Philippe reminded Queen Beatrix of a certain contract and thus their advance has stalled.”

    “Clever, if completely lacking in chivalry,” the blonde man next to the throne remarked, his face twisting into a sneer. “Forcing Austin to risk harming Lady Carys or risk his army’s defeat, potentially in front of Princess Renata no less.”

    “Oh, I agree completely, Lord Protector!” the minister concurred, nodding his head vigorously.

    “So, what would you suggest I do, Minister?” the woman on the throne asked, a predatory smile playing on her lips.

    “For now, see to our own affairs, particularly since the prototype Cyclops model is almost ready for testing,” the minister suggested. “If Her Majesty deems it wise to strike at Baldraz wait until they are overextended in Loire territory, that way we can seize more than the Loirians.”

    “Prudent advice indeed, Minister,” the woman remarked, her face splitting into an unsettling grin. “But it’s so boring! Poor Yurena hasn’t had any exercise in ages and I know she’s getting antsy!”

    The blood drained from the minister’s face as he went silent in the face of Her Majesty’s declaration. Nobody contradicted Lysandra Hasapis to her face and lived. The only uncertainty facing those who did so would be whether the Mad Empress herself would do the deed with her whip or foul magic or if she would leave the task to the Lord Protector and watch the ensuing carnage with glee.

    “Do you have any further suggestions on the matter, Minister?” he asked, a cruel gleam in his glacial blue eyes.

    “N-Not at all, Sir Edmund!” the minister stammered, recomposing himself. “If that is Her Majesty’s wish I will see to it that the troops are mobilized right away!”

    “Good man,” Lysandra said, her expression settling into a distant, dreamy one. “Calliope, be a dear and get my battle suit ready.”

    “At once, Your Majesty!” the petite maid squeaked, running off to complete her mistress’ orders.

    “Do you intend to take the field yourself, my lady?” Edmund asked, glancing over at the throne.

    “Of course, my dear Lord Protector,” the Mad Empress purred, glancing back at her knight. “How else will we break past Eisenstein Fortress if the two of us aren’t leading the way? And how else will we bring the Jade Tempest and her Chosen from the north if you and Alpheratz are still here?”

    “How indeed,” Edmund concurred, smiling in anticipation. “This time I will send him to Tartarus for all eternity.”

    “I would expect no less, Edmund dear,” Lysandra said with a dreamy sigh. “Now, let us go.”

    “Of course. I remain by your side as always, my lady.”

  12. He tried to not move, but perhaps that very stillness betrayed him.
    “That one! That one there is alive!”
    “You don’t know if he will suit my work.”
    “I would presume to judge for you? You must see for yourself.”
    For a moment, Marcus dared to dream that they had not meant him, that there had been another who fell into their hands, but then the harsh grip came on his arm, startling him into opening his eyes.
    He did not dare shut them again as the man stared at him with eyes that were solid, glowing yellow.
    He nodded.

      1. Plugging along. In fact, this one has been featuring among my vignettes for some time.

        It is, however, clearly going to be a long and complex story before it comes to fruition.

  13. The classic rock station was playing “Rockin’ the Casbah” again, making Ted Alandale wonder if it might be a political statement. Most of the DJ’s there wouldn’t be old enough to remember when it came out, back when there was still a Soviet Union, when there was still an Islamic Republic of Iran.

    Like as not, they just knew it as a protest against overbearing authority. After all, the video had been filmed in the oil patch around Houston, complete with the iconic pumpjacks of the oil wells. So someone for whom the tumultuous end of the 70’s was ancient history would consider it altogether relevant to the current situation with the Flannigan Administration’s continual overreaches.

  14. Secretary Blinken was untouchable. That went without saying. But his being Secretary meant that the conspiracy went all the way to the top. My informants had given me two names to go on, in addition to the Secretary’s.

    On one I’d come up drier than a vermouthless martini. But that was okay.

    Because the other had left a trail. A well-hidden trail, littered with the bodies of people who might know something about him and squawk. But after months of sweat, several near-miss accidents, finally I had found Gustavus Veenkin.

    And right this moment, he was hanging upside down from his ankles, naked, in the middle of a cold and empty warehouse that hadn’t been used since the Eighties.

    I stepped toward him, casually tossing the steel wool back and forth between my hands. “Alright, Gustavus. I know about your part. And I know this goes all the way to the top. But there is a piece of the puzzle I still need. And you’re going to tell me. I know about you, Veenkin. And I know about Blinken. So tell me: Who is Nod?

  15. My children remember this one well, it was a favorite of my mother-in-law

    Wynken, Blynken, and Nod one night
    sailed off in a wooden shoe —
    Sailed on a river of crystal light,
    into a sea of dew.
    “Where are you going, and what do you wish?”
    the old moon asked the three.
    “We have come to fish for the herring fish
    that live in this beautiful sea;
    Nets of silver and gold have we!”
    said Wynken, Blynken, and Nod.

  16. “Whew, what a day!” gasped Nigel Slim-Howland as he and Jenkins staggered through the door.

    “Indeed, sir,” said Jenkins. “With your permission, I should retire to the Land of Nod.”

    “Absolutely, please do.”

    Nigel thought Jenkins’ recharging chair looked really comfortable, but he knew he had no business trying it.

  17. Let’s try some teenage awkwardness…

    Max leaned over his history project. Cari did the same, inspecting his work. Max heard Cari suggest something useful, but realized how close together they were. Does she want me to? thought Max.

    Cari smiled at him, and Max thought he saw her nod almost imperceptibly.

    She nodded, didn’t she?

  18. “I am still sleepless, and wondering why you forbade any sleep aids.”

    “I did no such thing. I even suggested one.”

    “You said ‘Not at all’!”

    “No, I suggested NODatal.”

  19. There’s measurable alpha radioactive dust present; gotta keep it out of lungs, eyes and skin. You need a mask and a hooded rainsuit. And if you feel dust in your eyes, open and close one rapidly, then both, then shake your head vigorously.
    You know: winkin, blinkin, and nod.

  20. “Very good,” said Master Hannes. He nodded. “You are doing very well.”
    The clockwork bird cheeped and trilled its approval of the master’s judgment. Will smiled.
    “You are safe from the enforcers,” added Master Hannes, “since they no longer consider anyone a watchmaker unless you use magic in the works.”

  21. “Heating up to 110 degrees, flow up to 60 percent,” said Vic, making both adjustments to the feed for the thermoregulation suit. (Maybe it spoiled the cinematic quality of things, doing much of the work himself instead of bossing a bevy of assistants — but the hopefully-named “Human Hibernation Laboratory” did well enough being here and doing blue-sky research, never mind any shiny polish.)

    And the brainwave monitors, raw tracings and spectral displays both, still showed the subject coming rapidly, almost even naturally, back up now from a very deep and very long period of being far “under” — very nearly as if their official title spoke of a thing that really existed, not hen’s teeth or military intelligence or government efficiency. (Fifteen beats a minute, for nearly an hour; languid and leisurely beats of her heart, but strong and efficient contractions too. Accompanied by steady delta brain activity. As if humans really did hibernate, after all…)

    Elaine’s body started another fit of shivering — which had happened a few times already, always in concert with coming “up” more quickly than usual. (Heck, more than half of their rather few volunteers so far couldn’t seem to get the trick of the biofeedback meditation involved, and simply begged to be out of the suits and into a hot bath in a short while.)

    And then her brainwaves had, again and almost discontinuously, shifted to mixed alpha and beta; as the shivering, its work apparently done, stopped.

    “Elaine?” He couldn’t help asking, and not only because this subject was one of their own. His curiosity wouldn’t let him not-do it; could she be almost-awake, so soon?

    And while she didn’t answer, in words or even expressions, she did sort of stretch, slowly and comfortably; and did breathe in and out, almost like a slow-motion sigh. And then she just opened her eyes, all at once, even if she didn’t visibly focus on anyone or anything yet. “Vic?”

    “Yes, Elaine? Pardon the obvious, but you are normal-awake, right?”

    “Half asleep, maybe, but otherwise normal-feeling. Since you didn’t ask me The Question yet.”

    ‘Are you all right’ had been down-shifted to ‘How do you feel’ — but the first was the more honest form. So many of their subjects who did ‘go down deep’ tended to either wake up slowly and muzzily, as if some part of them were still off wandering somewhere else, or else ‘come back’ swiftly but most unpleasantly, as if they’d been wandering in Bad Places.

    “So, how were things in the Land of Nod?” That was Vic’s original First Question, before wide-eyed horror and occasional screaming demoted it to second.

    And it briefly alarmed him, how instead of answering in words she simply sat up on the ‘table’ — the way he and she herself had always urged their subjects never to do — but she wasn’t dizzy at all; she was looking him right in the eye and steady as if she’d just come in for a shift. “That is something we need to have a real sit-down talk about, and soon, Vic. But the simple answer is, if you remember the Manhattan-Project-era news from under the bleachers at Stagg Field — ‘The Highland Navigator has reached the New World. And the natives were very friendly.'”

    Intense. That was the word, for the look she had as she said it.

    Victor Frankel — no relation, not even spelled the same — felt his eyes flick to the brainwave display. Beta and gamma — waking awareness, with some pretty focused concentration. And then saw Elaine was doing the same thing; then (much against normal protocol) reaching up to grab her ‘Snoopy cap’ with its dozens of point-contact brainwave probes, and pull it off. Terminating the data collection, and making a point. “So how far down did I go? And for how long? Six hours, maybe, twelve?”

    He felt his eyes go wide, a bit, again. “Two and a half. We even got near the data-recording limits on some of the instruments. And there seeemed to be a natural ‘shape’ to your immersion, vaguely like a normal sleep cycle. So instead of trying to drive it ourselves, I pretty much let it ride, or tried to help it along.”

    “For me, subjectively, it was more like two and a half days. And since we are running on military funding most of the way lately, why don’t you tell Sally she can take a coffee break if she wants?” Elaine half-sat there, in that wetsuit-like garment with its myriad of small tubes running warm or cool or cold water; as if she’d just raised up from lying down in the sun on the beach. Most unlike any of their other subjects, ever before. But the longest any of them lasted “deep” was a touch over twenty minutes; and Lt. Lindstrom from Minnesota had been quite firmly unwilling to ever try it again.

    “Okay. You want to take the suit off, or keep on warming up..?”

    “Leave it on, for now, it’s not like I have to run to the bathroom. And I can tell you I’d normally be wondering if I’ll ever be warm again. Every time I get close to cozy, suddenly I feel I’m freezing again…”

    A few minutes later, sipping some quickly-made Earl Grey tea out of her own lab mug: “So, you remember Lindstrom’s subjective-experience report?”

    “Hard to forget. ‘Odin is a handsy creep, Loki is a stone-cold liar but fun to be around.’ Not a word more, or less.” His own pick-me-up was much higher in cinnamon if rather less Trek-standard than hers.

    “Yes, and we always wondered if she was kidding or not. My guess is, she wasn’t kidding at all.” Elaine took another sip. “Time was, back in the Old Country in Scotland or Ireland, if you ‘stepped on a stray sod’ you’d a great risk of falling into Faerie, wanting to or not. Well, now, your protocol of drugs and cold and biofeedback seems to do, or risk, much the same thing. But I have to ask, physically instead of experientially: did it really send me into hibernation?”

    Doctor Frankel, “Doc Franks” to a few of his MHI-aware colleagues, took a deep breath in and out. “Yes. Closest bloody thing to it, for sure; your respiration deeply depressed, and I already told you your slowest heart rate. I’d wager you’d get by with five percent of the oxygen and calorie load of a normal resting state, possibly even much less.”

    “So our long-term goal: if we can put people ‘under’ even this far, we’ve pretty much got the ‘slowboat’ interstellar problem licked, at least the human-factors one. I get that part, already, as you know from my being your primary assistant most of the way.” And she took another sip of very hot tea. “But the thing we never had any way to know, all this time, was the ‘what dreams may come’ factor.”

    And he tried to ignore the tingling climbing his spine. “So… two and a half days??”

    “Saw the sun rise twice, though it’s a bit more muted than here, what they call watery. It’s not a creepy place, at all… for me. You know my last name is Mackay, but it was originally a bit different? Mac Aodh? I’ll not burden you with the whole Mac/Nic thing. The point is, it’s said we have a history with Faerie of sorts.”

    “You think you were falling into some kind of, let’s say, ancestral portal to the collective unconscious? And Lindstrom did too?”

    “And the others got… sort of a random wrong number. Or something. But we can’t support the assumption you’re merely out cold, while hibernating.” A precise sip of tea. “And what I said, about the natives being friendly, it wasn’t only metaphor. We don’t exactly have diplomatic credentials, but I heard a few things that amount to trade overtures. Since we’ve got a good reason there to cooperate, already.”

    “But you were conscious of… what, two dozen times the time ‘in there’ as you were hibernating ‘out here’?!”

    And Elaine Mackay smiled broadly. “You remember those stories of someone getting pulled into Faerie, serving there for a moon or two, then coming back out a century or two later into the human world? Sounds right ‘on spec’ for an interstellar mission to me!”

    1. And most happy Willie Pete was cooperative this time… last vignette did not post with multiple attempts, simply swallowed down without a burp. (Perhaps WP, DE, has something very much against strange-ish things like rowboats on Mars…)

  22. He looked over at his wife and children and beckoned to them. He would never again see those fertile fields that he had spent so many days and months coaxing into flower and then grain, to feed his growing clan. He was cast out and his family was cast out with him.

    It was his brother’s fault. Why was his sacrifice acceptable and not mine, he thought, then pushed the memory away, not wanting to remember what came after. Any of it.

    He took a deep breath, took one look back west towards Eden, then resolutely set his face east and led his family deeper into the Land of Nod.

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