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*


FROM MAGGIE HOGARTH: Haley’s Cozy System Armageddon: A LitRPG Short Story (Haley and Nana Book 1)

For fans of Cinnamon Bun and Welcome to Blade’s Rest.

A Girl, a Grandma, and a Lot of Cookies
When the apocalypse hit, Haley was ready to embark on her life-long dream of becoming a wizard! But the system has other plans for her…

Enjoy a feel-good slice-of-life short… come away smiling!

This story is good for all ages and comes with a recipe so that when you get to the end of it, you can make the cookies and re-read it while eating the cookies the characters are eating. Because that’s the kind of story it is.

FROM KAREN MYERS: To Carry the Horn – A Virginian in Elfland (The Hounds of Annwn Book 1)


What would you do if you blundered into a strange world, where all around you was the familiar landscape of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, but the inhabitants were the long-lived fae, and you the only human?

George Talbot Traherne stumbles across the murdered huntsman of the Wild Hunt, and is drafted into finding out who did it. Oh, and assigned the task of taking the huntsman’s place with the Hounds of Hell, whether he wants the job or not.

The antlered god Cernunnos is the sponsor of this kingdom, and he requires its king to conduct the annual hunt for justice in pursuit of an evil criminal, or else lose his right to the kingship, and possibly end up hunted himself.

Success is far from guaranteed, and no human has held the post. George discovers his own blood links to the fae king, and he’s determined to try. But Cernunnos himself has a personal role to play, and George will have to sort out just why he’s the one who’s been chosen for the task.

And whether he has any chance of surviving the job.

Find out what it’s like to live in a world where you can help the Right to prevail, even if it might cost you everything.

To Carry the Horn is the first book of The Hounds of Annwn.

FROM CELIA HAYES: Lone Star Glory: Continuing the Entertaining and Mostly If Not Always True Adventures of Texas Ranger Jim Reade and his Blood Brother Delaware Scout Toby … Republic of Texas (Lone Star Sons Book 2)

Time and place? The Republic of Texas, at mid-19th century
Who and what? Texas Ranger Jim Reade, and his Delaware blood brother, Toby Shaw – tasked with solving puzzles, finding the missing, guiding the clueless, and protecting the innocent!
“So,” Toby observed, an hour and a half later. “What have you seen, from this?”
The two of them stood, a few steps from a crude scarecrow cross-frame of poles, from which hung an extremely ragged linen shirt, formerly belonging to Elisha Reade – a shirt from which some small patches had been cut to mend items of a newer vintage. But there was enough of it remaining to serve, hanging from the cross-pole thrust through the sleeves, as a target for Jim’s trusty Paterson revolvers … A good few shots had been at close range. As close as the range in which Jon Knightley had exchanged – or claimed to have exchanged – revolver-fire with his wife.
“A curiosity which I had already suspected,” Jim replied. He was tired. His shoulders slumped, and his ears rang from the frequent report of his revolvers. “Jon Knightley murdered his wife – his latest wife…”

Lone Star Glory – continuing the adventures of Texas Ranger Jim Reade and his blood-brother Toby Shaw of the Delaware, in the Texas of legend!

FROM J.L. CURTIS: Rimworld – Diplomatic Immunity

Fargo’s latest attempt at quiet retirement is going haywire quickly.

Hiding the officially missing Dragoon heir at his cabin is about to get interesting.

A GalPat change of command brings new attention to his militia and their capabilities, just as he’s falsely accused of murder. Facing a stacked prosecution, he finds that friends have hidden abilities when they come to his aid, including hiding the heir.

When he comes back out, he’s got an agenda and an heir to get home in one piece… A young man thought lost, whose homecoming will shake an entire empire. And hopefully Fargo will survive the experience.

FROM DOROTHY GRANT: Going Ballistic (Combined Operations Book 1)

When her plane tries to come apart at apogee during a hijack, ballistic airline pilot Michelle Lauden handles the worst day she could imagine. When she gets down safely without losing any passengers or crew, though, she finds her troubles have just begun!The ground below is as unsafe as the air above. The country she’s landed in has just declared independence from the Federation. The Feds intended her passengers to be the first casualties in the impending war – and they’re not happy she’s survived to contradict their official narrative in the news.The local government wants to find her to give her a medal. The Feds are hunting her to give her an unmarked grave. As they both close in, Michelle’s running out of options and time. The only people able to protect her, and hide her tracks, are an accident investigation team on loan from the Federation’s enemies… the same enemies who sent her hijackers in the first place. And they have their own plans for her, and the country she’s in!

FROM JOELLE PRESBY: The Dabare Snake Launcher.

New money, old tribes, and international megacorps race to build the first space elevator. With a little Dabare magic, it just might work!

The Sadous, an oil-rich West African family, are handed a plum contract as repayment for a decades-old favor that could make the next generation even richer if the family doesn’t tear itself apart first. Two engineer daughters of the Sadou family, Pascaline and Maurie, upon whom the burden of success rests, have troubles of their own. One wants nothing more than to leave and make her own name as an engineering prodigy, while the other is troubled by fever dreams and snakes. Ethan Schmidt-Li is an ambitious megacorp executive with eyes on a big promotion—only to get more than he bargained for when put in charge of the company’s make-or-break project. These are some of the people that Tchami “Chummy” Fabrice has brought together to an ambitious end—constructing the world’s first space elevator in Africa and ensuring the space industry that it catapults will enrich the continent and all involved. They have the carbon nanofiber, prime land around Kilimanjaro, and a captured rock in orbit for the tether. The hard part will be getting all these different people working together long enough to see it built.

At the publisher’s request, this title is sold without DRM (Digital Rights Management).


This humorous Isakai parody has Logan Russel transported to a different world. Now as Lord Green, The Sage of Power, he is granted ridiculously over-the-top powerful magic. The problem is (there always has to be a catch), his life depends on the whims of a sketchy god, and to stay alive, he must uphold “the green-flag.” Unfortunately, the god never told him what the “green-flag” was. He must also avoid doing any actions that raise either a “black-flag” or a “red-flag”. Again, the god neglected to tell him what those are… There are a lot of things they could be…

Among the bevy of women he finds along the way to assist him on his quest, is a blind woman cursed with “Dark-Sight”. This may be his first clue to understanding what the flags actually represent. The blind woman can only see a shadow based on the darkness that resides within people, and absolutely nothing else, not walls, floors or the furniture in the rooms. To her, Logan is the invisible man, a voice from nowhere. Does her vision represent the black-flag? If so, can he possibly find someone with “Green-Sight” so that he can understand what he is allowed to do so that he stays green and alive?



FROM SARAH A. HOYT: Darkship Thieves. (Note they still haven’t mated it to the Baen edition. Sigh.)

Athena Hera Sinistra never wanted to go to space. Never wanted see the eerie glow of the Powerpods. Never wanted to visit Circum Terra. She never had any interest in finding out the truth about the Darkships.
You always get what you don’t ask for. Which must have been why she woke up in the dark of shipnight, within the greater night of space in her father’s space cruiser, knowing that there was a stranger in her room. In a short time, after taking out the stranger—who turned out to be one of her father’s bodyguards up to no good, she was hurtling away from the ship in a lifeboat to get help.
But what she got instead would be the adventure of a lifetime and perhaps a whole new world—if she managed to survive….
A Prometheus Award Winning Novel, written by a USA Today Bestseller.

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: YAWN

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

  1. The host yawned and the Bard grew pale.

    When your host is a Dragon, no sane Bard wants to bore him especially when the Dragon has teeth longer than the Bard is tall.

    1. Mmm. Yeah. Not the best situation to be in.

      Unless you’re one of those bards… in which case I have significant doubts about your survival instinct. And sanity in general.

  2. “You ready, lad? All you need to do is go in, find the lamp, and bring it back out. Without touching anything else.”

    The cave mouth seemed to yawn in front of him, almost as if it was going to devour him whole. He wasn’t sure this was a good idea…

    1. Ah, the classics. My friend, it most definitely isn’t a good idea. But you’re pretty much stuck already, so follow the rules, look but don’t touch, and keep a close eye on that lamp at all times! (And a word of advice? Don’t lie to the princess. Bad start for a relationship. And they always find out.)

  3. I woke up with the sun in my eyes. I got the usual letdown from going from a dream flying, to being stuck in bed, with the cpap mask leaking a bit from where the pillow pushed it up. I yawned, and wondered what Monday had in store for me.

  4. Cadet Yankovich asked, “Ya’ll yelling at the yellow yumkin yonder?”
    Captain Yuseabelly replied, “Yep youngster, yumkin’s in the yard yanking yottabytes.”
    Cadet Yankovich, “Yonder?”
    Captain Yueabelly, “Yep.”
    Cadet Yankovich said , “Well shuck darn mon, why don’t ya tell the yellow yumkin to get off your lawn!” with a yawn.

    1. I said, “The key word for today was, ‘Yawn’.”
      “Too many ‘y’s.” replied my wife.
      I said, “That was deliberate.”
      Wife said, “Yah think?”

  5. I haven’t managed to get yawn in, but our hostess’s poem idea has been banging around the inside of my head. I’m leaving my bit of doggerel here in the hopes that, like an ear worm, posting it will drive it from my head.

    We froze at Valley Forge
    rebels against King George
    While von Steuben taught a rabble Prussian drill

    We learned the lesson well
    Sent the lobsters down to hell
    Till their fifers played The World Turned Upside Down

    When the redcoats returned
    And the new White House burned
    Fort McHenry kept the starry banner high

    On the lakes and on the seas
    Chippewa and New Orleans
    Showed them we were regulars by God!

    Later at the Alamo
    While surrounded by the foe
    Travis drew his line down in the sand

    The flame was set alight
    The volunteers did fight
    Till the end came at Chapultepec

    When Civil war broke out
    And union was in doubt
    Brothers fought for what they thought was right

    A Union infantry man
    Called “Johnny why you fightin?”
    You ain’t go no slaves or fortune vast

    Said Johnny Reb to Billy Yank
    In words both clear and frank
    “I recon it’s cause you are all down here.”

    In Cuba later still
    Up the slope at San Juan Hill
    Teddy led his rough riders to the fight

    While at Manila Bay
    Dewey cleared the way
    But said “don’t cheer boys, those men are dying”

    1917 in France
    Machine guns, poison gas
    Lafayette, we are here was the cry

    On the front at Belleau Wood
    The Marine Corps boldly stood
    Said Williams, “Retreat, hell we just got here”

    Pearl Harbor and Midway
    Bataan and Milne Bay
    New Guinea, Wake Island, and Saipan

    Normandy through Aachen
    The crossing at Remagen
    Tunis, Sicily, Rome, and Anzio

    And when the war was won
    And the fighting it was done
    We fed them friend or foe without stinting.

    In Korea, Vietnam
    Frozen Chosen and Saigon
    We sent our best to keep the people free

    For fifty years and more
    We bore the cost of war
    Till the wall came down in nineteen eighty nine

    Then they wounded my hometown
    Brought the mighty towers down
    Cops, firemen, and civilians didn’t matter

    Back to war again
    ‘Gainst foe and faithless friend
    Bring Democracy to the desert tribes was the goal

    Yes, the cause was flawed
    But the feckless, senile fraud
    Brought it all to naught by abandoning our friends

    But like when it all began
    We’ll do it all again
    Why? ‘Cause we’re Americans

  6. Piya steadied herself at the airlock. Spacewards: the starfield, blotched by orbital debris. Planetwards: the yawning crack in the great Ship’s shell. Behind: a wounded enemy, just barely brought to terms. Before her….
    The metal void was dark. Motionless, completely still.
    Power and air were wasting.
    She triggered her jets.

      1. > “(And far more succinct than I generally manage.)”

        [glanced at your latest submission]

        Yeah, I’m getting that. Would it help if Sarah started charging you by the word? 😛

        1. In my defense, I managed to stop at the ‘yawn’ paragraph in that one. The story that section is a part of continues for another seven pages.

          Yes, I am aware that is not a good defense. What can I say? Semi-broke college students can’t afford lawyers, and I don’t know anyone in pre-law. (At least, I don’t think I do…)

  7. The Sighing Cliffs lie in one of the blackest parts of the Abyss, and are considered Layer 297 by most demonologists. Why anyone bothered counting Layers when the Abyss was commonly believed to be infinite was still a matter of debate, but most were of the opinion that scholars and researchers simply could not resist numbering and labeling things, even when it was a fool’s errand.

    Were you to make enough truly stupid mistakes and end up here (which I sincerely hope will never happen), you would shortly realize why they were called ‘The Sighing Cliffs.’ A breath of foul miasma too polluted and choking to be called wind constantly winds around the bleak and blackened crags of rotten stone, begetting a continuous barely-audible moan of utter despair. If one were feeling charitable to a truly absurd extent, it could be called a ‘sigh.’

    That is, if you retained enough sanity to call it anything. Which is doubtful. Most mortal souls that find themselves at this depth of depression simply dissipate into nothingness, seduced into an empty mockery of being.

    The collection of demon lords who currently stood atop the cliffs seemed untouched by the groaning gale. But given how quickly they’d turn on each other at the slightest sign of weakness, that was unsurprising.

    An impartial observer (if one could exist in the deepest bowels of corruption) might have found themselves surprised at the being they were standing around. Firstly, he was clearly human. Secondly, he was alive – though so badly beaten, whipped, and abused that this likely wouldn’t last long. Thirdly, he appeared astonishingly sane. Though the moaning of the cliffs whispered around him, he remained steadfast. Though his wounds bled so freely he knelt in a puddle of his own gore, he did not faint. Though the powers of darkness standing about him were the sort to inspire terror in gods, there was no expression on his face beyond a look of weariness.

    “Where is that worthless creature?” growled Orcus, pacing back and forth behind the kneeling man.

    Aeumal, the left head of Demogorgon, murmured, “We must be patient with him. It has not been so long since he first joined us.” As always, his tone was quiet and genteel, though it dripped with malice.

    Hethradiah, the right head, snarled in response, “Six hundred millennia should be long enough to learn the limits of our patience! We will rend him limb from limb for this insolent delay.”

    Baphomet’s growl was deep and guttural, and his voice even more predatory than usual as he snarled, “I will hunt him down.”

    Yeenoghu spat at the Horned King’s feet. “You will not,” he hissed. “This prey is MINE!”

    “Honestly, you two.” The voice that interjected was amiably amused, and quite pleasant. “How many ages have I been telling you to resolve this… tension? The constant ‘will they, won’t they’ is getting a little old.”

    With matching snarls the two whirled to face the newcomer, baring a truly remarkable number of sharp teeth.

    Graz’zt, Prince of Pleasure, seemed entirely unconcerned. Swirling a glass of what looked like white wine in one hand, he let out a loud yawn, covering his mouth with the other hand in a transparent veneer of courtesy. “You asked for me, I am come,” he murmured finally, his faint smile implying a great deal. “What is it you wish of me?”

    1. You do come up with interesting settings that I always look forward to reading. Thanks for encouraging so many of us here, too! And for the record, I’ve got about 3089 words’ worth of the Mechs and Curses setting on my computer now, though I don’t know how much will work for the prompt words here!

      1. Thanks!

        This setting I can’t entirely take credit for. I’m basically going to the Dungeons and Dragons wiki ‘Forgotten Realms’ and putting together stories from their worlds and characters. (In this instance, various demon lords.) I really need to figure out how to file off those serial numbers, though. That could be interesting.

        Congratulations on making that much progress, by the way. It’s not easy. Keep up the good work!

        1. I’m definitely not in a position to criticize you for that. This setting I’m working on is turning into an odd mashup of several game series I enjoy: Trails of Cold Steel, Valkyrie Profile, and Final Fantasy VIII for the three big ones and who knows what else is going to end up in there. Probably Xenogears and Vanguard Bandits, too, for expanding the unique and more standard mech types. The other big setting I work in ended up taking a lot more from Devil May Cry than I thought it would, too, especially with how much Vergil bled into Max without me even realizing it. In any case, thanks for the encouragement and good luck with your own work!

          1. A lot of things, really. It’s an already-created fantasy world, so… training wheels. Plus, when you start poking around in the wiki, there’s just so much material that you can use. Eventually something is going to spark an idea. And then I start twisting and tweaking the original material to my own satisfaction.

            Not to mention that I like playing with god-like powers and immortal characters. The various gods and goddesses in that world often have interesting personalities and character traits, and I can throw them at each other and watch the explosions. The same holds true for the demon lords apparently, though this is the first time I’ve tried playing with those particular toys.

            And the Forgotten Realms has Asmodeus, who is so much fun to play as puppet-master/larger scope villain/ends justify the means anti-something. (Unsure whether to go with anti-villain or anti-hero, as that’s generally dictated by what circumstances the heroes meet him in and whether they’re easier for him to utilize as allies or manipulate as enemies.) That character is kind of catnip for me… basically, this happens:

            Hey, he’s technically a greater god. Let me see what happens when he shows up at their every-ten-years-godly-summit.

            Oh, you know, it’s to his benefit to have some sort of mole among the demon lords. I wonder who that could be? WAIT – WHAT IF –

            Hm. There are paladins whose entire job is to protect the world from evil creatures from other planes of existence. Wouldn’t it be deliciously ironic if Asmodeus had a cover identity somewhere who was friends with one of these paladins? And kept nudging him in the path of various demonic cults he wanted destroyed?

            It’s not exactly smart to try and run a D&D campaign with an entire story planned out from the beginning. Players can run things off the rails in so many different ways, and trying to force them along the path you want inevitably ends in disaster. Better to take my story ideas from that setting and actually write them rather than go through the heartache of players messing with all my beautiful plans. This way the characters actually do what I want them to do… sometimes, at least.

            1. Glad you found a playground you like.

              Personally, I wish they’d done more with the Birthright setting. There was so much potential there.

              1. Just looked that up. Yeah, that seems pretty neat. If all else fails, homebrew seems like an option you could avail yourself of, if you have the time.

                And thanks! I tend to either Forgotten Realms or Ravenloft Domains of Dread. (Or both combined.)

                1. > “If all else fails, homebrew seems like an option you could avail yourself of”

                  I quit tabletop RPGs a long time ago. I got stuck with a player who was such a dumbass he was causing me to have a splitting headache by the end of every session, and I didn’t have the means to go find another group. I finally decided it wasn’t worth it.

                  I still play CRPGs, but the only computer version of Birthright was an extremely buggy, nigh-unplayable mess called “The Gorgon’s alliance” that came out in 1997. Someone recently suffered through an LP of that over on Something Awful, which is why I was thinking of it. If you’ve got an SA account and are interested you can find that here:

                  1. I used to play too. I moved away.

                    Besides even then I was deducting that playing and writing pulled in different directions

                  2. Re: ‘DM of the Rings’

                    I haven’t read something titled that, but I’ve watched two video series on YouTube. One covered the differences between The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit as a discussion about a railroad plot vs. a largely improvised adventure in D&D playing. The other one covered the entirety of the three movies as if they were a D&D game. (I highly recommend the latter, the artist is called ‘XP to level 3’, and it’s hilarious.)

                    1. > “I haven’t read something titled that”

                      It was a somewhat famous webcomic by the late Shamus Young (RIP). Specifically, it was a screencap comic based on the Peter Jackson LOTR movies. The idea is a DM running a bunch of hack-and-slash players who’ve somehow never heard of LOTR through the story (or at least one that starts out the same).

                      As for those two videos you mention, that’s kind of the central joke of the comic. The railroading DM wants to play out the epic story in his head, but his players didn’t sign up for that and just want to kill and loot stuff. This results in things coming a bit off the rails from time to time…

                      For those interested, it starts here:

      2. Eh, sometimes the prompts inspire vignettes that make the world, or plot, or characters, deeper.

        Other times I have to firmly throw them out as irrelevant once I reach the section where they would go — if they went anywhere.

  8. Reaction against today’s materialistic, even hedonistic, society is growing. Just heard about a new GenZ organization (although open to all ages – there is a fastgrowing seniors chapter) dedicated to nights at home, quiet conversation and silent reflection: Youth Against Wicked Nightlife.

    1. Okay, I know this fits the prompt, but I have to ask: Is this real? And if so, how do I join up?

      If not, I may have to petition Liberty University to start a new club.

      1. Totally made up for the vignettes, but public domain: start up whatever you want. My only advice is to choose a meeting room that is warm and full of comfy recliners….

  9. I had one of those back-popping yawns that seemed to start from the top of my head to the tips of my toes. I swear to God, I was arching my back like a cat, twisting a little as the yawn went through me, and then lowered myself down onto the chair again. “Been up for too long, dear?” the woman asked.

    “You kind of lose track after thirty hours,” I agreed wryly and brushed the wrinkles out of my skirt.

    1. I know those yawns, although thankfully I haven’t had the – pleasure? – of being up quite that long. At least, I don’t think I have.

      Although now that I’ve typed that, I’m suddenly having uncomfortable memories of that one time I stayed up all night reading, slept for maybe an hour on the couch, and then went about my day as best as I could…

    2. Reminds me of the time my brother visited and we got to playing computer games, and…

      “There’s light coming in the window.”


      “I gotta go to work in an hour.”

  10. She fought down a yawn.
    She should have slept well last night. It was just studies. She had done them with her governesses. It was nothing new and thrilling, just advanced on what she had done before. If that. Isabella would have learn what they knew already, first of all.

  11. Going way back into the past for this one…

    Try as he might, especially knowing what would happen if Instructor Merrick caught him, Vincent couldn’t help but yawn. He and Lionel had already blown through the text the previous night and this was nothing new for them. The youth glanced over in his friend’s direction and his vacant stare confirmed he was just as bored. Unfortunately, his curiosity got the better of him at the worst time.

    “Austin! Pay attention!” Merrick snapped, waving his marker like a madman and eliciting snickers from the rest of the class. “How many times has this been now?! I swear, back in my day…”

    Merrick’s “kids these days” tirades were even more of a bore than his clumsy lectures which made how to perform the most impressive magical pyrotechnics seem like dull affairs. Still, he couldn’t make things worse for everyone so he just gritted his teeth. He felt a bump at his side when the instructor turned back towards the board in his rage to find Lionel smiling at him and opening his backpack. It was the grimoire he had been hoping his friend would get his hands on. They’d be getting into some real magic tonight! For now, though, it was endure one more boring day at Damas Academy.

    1. Oooh. I wonder if making magic classes boring is intentional? That way the ones who actually bother to listen and learn have practiced patience and discipline before they get to the dangerous information, and the ones who don’t really put in the effort never learn enough to be dangerous.

      And you don’t get any curious souls going: “Oh, that sounds so cool! I wonder what would happen if I did this…” and destroying the world. (Or, failing the world, the tristate area.)

      1. That’s something I haven’t put much thought into actually, especially given the sort of magical research that happens at the highest levels throughout the world. This was part of me figuring out how Vincent ended up going from citizen of one country to prized soldier of another. But yeah the follow up to this isn’t going to end well for him or anyone else caught up with it…

        1. Ah, I see. And yeah, contraband books are an entirely different situation in a world with wizard-style magic. Not only could you build a bomb if you wanted to, you could build a bomb that would throw the entire city into a twisted break in space-time.

          1. There is that, and there’s a reason why a particular type of mech research always ends up involving one of the darker schools of magic as well but that’s as much as I can say on that subject here. 😉

  12. “Alright kids, reading period is over. Now it’s time to take your YAWN – Y.A.W.N., it’s how we bash that learning in!”, she said brightly, parroting that old slogan.
    Bob glanced over at Susan, and they nodded to each other, and palmed the pill with a trick they had learned from a magic book. As the class downed their doses, Bob and Susan pretended to fall into the deep 90 minute hypersleep of the rest of their classmates. They might have perfect recall of the Krebs cycle, the poor bastards, but Bob, personally, could do without the nightmares. Last period he had almost been murdered in his sleep by an endless rain of the Greek alphabet – he barely held them off with an anglo-saxon ballad.

    The world was unnatural, his teachers said, and they had to live up to unnatural demands. He was almost 5 though, and getting tired of the chemically induced death-march.

    1. Teacher sounds uncomfortably like Dolores Umbridge. If that was the intention, you really did a brilliant job!

      And oof does that ‘almost 5’ hit hard for me. I was in the headspace of 12 – 18, not freaking 4 years old. Great gut punch.

      1. Maybe I should up it to 8 or 9, for … uh … “realism”.

        (narrator’s voice) “Imagine a world where teachers cared deeply about your child’s education. Where they are eager and willing to use all the science at their disposal to ensure each child commands the entire knowledge of mankind in the shortest possible time. Tonight, we will be taking a wide detour around Aristotle’s golden mean, and heading deep into Red Queen country. Welcome to the Twilight Zone.”

  13. “Excuse me!”, the interrogator barked, and glared in unfeigned disbelief at the supervillian chained to the other end of the table. “Did you just yawn at me?”

    “Everything about this interaction and anywhere it could go is covered in some chapter or other of that one psychology book on ape dominance rituals that I can’t be bothered to recall. Please admit it: This bores you too.”

    “You won’t find this so boring when you lose any hope of a plea deal and we let you know what you’re in for, you piece of -”

    “I won’t ask you to go off script in front of your supeeeriors. But think about all the things you could be using your mind for! There are so many things to do, so many worlds to explore. It’s a crying shame, isn’t it, to be gratuitously wasting your life like this? If you get a chance, call this number – we’re always interested in people who take a genuine interest in our work.”

    “wha – this isn’t a job interview!”

    “It can be if you want it to-”

    “-No, we’re not doing this.”

    “Sigh. Lawyer.”

    1. Okay, I like this villain. He/she seems fun.

      ‘We both know this is stupid, so I’m not going to waste my time with it. Can I get something useful out of this situation? No? All right. Lawyer. Next!’

      1. If this were a movie, it would be in the first or second scene, and the audience would hate the villain straightaway, but the hatred would probably be mixed with some admiration.

  14. To the left, a cavern yawned.
    Maximiana paused. That would lead to Drusilla’s caves. Through a labyrinth. And if Drusilla were actually up to this sort of nonsense — her eyes narrowed — she would regret the day she was born. After all the indulgence that Maximinia had extended her.

  15. Strapped? I certainly hope folks choose to be “strapped”, especially these days. Personally I am carrying a custom stainless Ruger Sherrifs Model Vaquero in .45 Colt.


  16. “Did I see Gwendolyn yawning,” said Cummings, who was visiting Nigel Slim-Howland’s home. “Do Companions actually get tired?”

    “I don’t know the details,” said Nigel, “but Companion functions are often disguised as human reflexes. In this case, Gwendolyn’s clearing current tasks from memory prior to shutting down for the night.”

  17. “Right, I’m the center forward, and Bopo’s corner forward. I flip the ball to Bopo, let him get ahead of me, then he flips it back to me.” Max was trying hard to explain what happened on the pitch, but Cari’s stifled yawn told him all he needed to know.

  18. He yawned. Then he blinked. It was broad daylight. He had no excuse to be sleepy. He scowled for a moment. The dwarf would have warned him if there were an enchantment that would put him to sleep. He hadn’t even warned him that he had to leave before midnight.

    1. Huh. Not sure how the ‘warning of enchantment’ connects to the ‘not warning about leaving before midnight’… do we have a dwarven fairy godfather in a male Cinderella story? That could be interesting.

      Or am I laughably off the mark?

      1. I was thinking of “The Water of Life” where the prince is warned to leave the castle before midnight. There are a number of significant midnights in fairy tales. If you read “Tattercoats” — it has the heroine arriving at the ball at midnight!

        1. Neat! I think Jim Butcher did an interesting flip on that in one of the Dresden books – the critical time for Summer Fey is midnight, but Winter have noon serving the same purpose. (I’m pretty sure… it’s been a little while since I last read Changes.)

  19. Sunlight drifted across her face. She yawned and opened her eyes. The drifting dust motes were gilded in the sunbeams. She lay alone in the bed, and there was no sign of Guillaume in the room.
    The queen had decreed that he would go against the dragon, she remembered coldly.

  20. The Cheshire Cat’s yawn made his smile seem rather tranquil and natural, Alexios realized as be braced for the next wave of insanity to wash over him.

    1. Ooh, interesting. The Cat is always a fun character to play with. I notice Alexios would be a rather odd misspelling of ‘Alice’… are you thinking of writing a sequel? I’m pretty sure the original is public domain at this point.

      1. No plans, just decided to do a gender-flip on a modern character who accidentally falls down a rabbit hole and . . . And I wasn’t sure how to use “yawn.”

  21. He tried to not think about what happened to those not suitable. To survive the slaughter only to find them hunting you down.
    He wrapped his arms about himself, and felt no warmer. Except that being suitable might be worse than not. He fought down a yawn and looked about.

  22. Outdoors, thunder crashed and rain beat against the windows. Flashes of lightning cast shadows on the curtains, enough to see that even the mighty redwoods were moved by the wind. There was no way anyone would brave the old logging road in this storm, even before nightfall.

    So the grim men who’d come that morning to meet with Spartan were going to be staying the night here at Sparta Point and returning to their teams in the morning to carry out their missions. It wouldn’t be all that hard to put them up — they were used to sleeping rough at need, and even crash space on a carpeted floor would be luxurious compared to field conditions.

    But until time to turn in they’d needed to be entertained. Not all that difficult, given Spartan’s talents as a raconteur. A good fire in the living room fireplace to make things cozy, ample refreshments on the sideboard, and they’d happily listen all evening.

    However, Elaine was finding it less easy to pass the time in this manner. Much as she wished she could retreat to her own bedroom up in the eaves and read, she knew she had to maintain the pretense that she was Spartan’s woman. Which meant sitting here beside him, looking not only fascinated by his endless supply of war stories, but also deeply attached to him.

    Which meant she could not be seen yawning or nodding off, no matter how much the warm glow of the fire was making her drowsy. She momentarily eyed the samovar in the center of the spread on the sideboard, wondered if a glass of strong tea would help her stay awake and maintain at least the appearance of alertness.

    On the other hand, tea was also a diuretic. Maybe not as much as the caffeine in a cup of coffee, but the last thing she needed right now was to have to excuse herself to visit the bathroom.

    Spartan rested a hand over hers. Should she unbarrier, let her touch telepathy open her mind to his? Or was he just making a possessive gesture for the benefit of his guests, making it clear that this cute young woman was off limits to casual desire?

    1. Ooh, interesting. I can definitely see the scene playing out in my mind’s eye, and it does feel sleepy. Well done.

      And the telepathy trick is neat. Is this trending into urban fantasy, or mostly realistic except for the telepaths?

      1. It’s part of the Grissom timeline, my rocketpunk ‘verse. It’s a ‘verse where secret Cold War biotechnology experiments led to cloning, psi, etc. I’m currently working on the first novel in one of a set of three braided series about this period — this scene will be in the third book of the third series.

  23. Nell yawned.
    It felt irresistible. He managed to not yawn himself, but exhaustion washed over him. They had fled so far, so hopelessly. They should have left when stories of the Pretender started, and he could not pretend to care whether Rodger was the king’s son he claimed to be.

  24. At a certain point, he thought to himself, bring cancer-free is worth a bit of discomfort. And, after all, your jaw popped long before the surgeons beat you up and took your lunch money.

    However, it still hurt the remaining jaw hinge when he yawned. That last yawn opened his mouth just a little too wide and a little crooked as it occasionally did since the doctors took the back half of the right side.

    Just in case, they said. The first surgery had not removed the whole tumor, shaped like a tadpole with the tail extending into the right pterygoid arch, necessitating removal of the remaining cancer, the scar tissue from the first surgery, and a margin appropriate for a high-grade stage 3 myofibrosarcoma.

    When they tested the bone and teeth they removed, there was no trace of the cancer; but “better safe than sorry” was the consensus.

    He mused about how he had gotten to this point, suppressed another “primal yawn”, and went to bed.

  25. “A mini-Ringworld, 2 million miles across for one gee with a 24-hour day, only shot up pretty badly here and there sometime long ago.”

    A few scattered thoughtful expressions, some widespread but less-intense interest. The whiskey-drinker in the raincoat looked a trifle bored.

    “A rogue antimatter meteorite hits New England and starts an accidental World War III.”

    About the same as before, with one or two nods of recognition — yes, I remember reading that story.

    “American-born magic user sails across the Sea of Tranquility on an airy, watery Moon from a variant time-line.”

    Some of the fantasy crowd perked up a bit at that one, after the hard-ish SF flavor of the last few. The guy in the nondescript gray raincoat was clearly not oblivious, but still looked dubious, or maybe even sleepy.

    “Aliens in flying saucer kidnap about-to-die American mercenaries from Africa to turn them into interstellar conquistadors and drug dealers.”

    Again nods by readers; quizzical interest by some, even a few knitted brows to the tune of you’ve got to be kidding me. The raincoat guy worked his jaw a bit, as if sternly stifling a yawn.

    Sheesh, I loved that series.

    “Shadowy spooks recruit unattached adventurers a la Glory Road to explore a faraway world inside a planet, like Pellucidar only bigger.”

    This time the interest and — call it consternation — were both common and typically mixed. That’s just bug-nuts crazy; but wait a minute, it also might work.

    But Raincoat Guy actually yawned this time, the slow motion jaw-cracking sort often perpetrated by someone not even trying to hide it at all.

    “So do you have a better idea, yourself?” I wasn’t really conceding the proverbial “floor” at all — mostly just challenging him to put up or shut up, instead of that aloof passive-aggression or whatever it was.

    He put down his (now only about half full) glass and turned to the room, in front of the big TV where Complicit News Network was weeping, wailing, and gnashing their teeth at the middle-night election returns.

    “Yes, I do.” There was something vaguely European in his accent; but we weren’t currently all that far from New York City, after all. “Crosstime travel, the low-budget way. Just ‘woops’ and suddenly there you are. And you aren’t. ‘And He Walked Around the Horses’ more or less, the whole Ben Bathhurst disappearance story — except, maybe with taxicabs stopped in City traffic in place of the carriage horses.” He smiled, broadly.

    Maybe even more like knowingly, some way.

    “After all, that whole ‘Mandela Effect’ thing implies we’re all crosstime travellers, or nearly; it’s just whether we ever find sufficient conflict between our memories of Home Time Line and the histories of Where We Came Down, to notice it at all.” He jerked a thumb to the screen behind him. “It is so delicious, so wonderful, to see that lot get their rightful comeuppance at last.” And quietly turned back again to the bar and drank to it.

    There was widespread agreement this one had some traction; sometimes even breaking out into overt words instead of mostly silent expressions.

    I was by far the closest to him, so maybe I was the only one to notice it and wonder.

    His thumb, so briefly but clearly visible, had been an oddly fluorescent, Day-Glo shade of purple. So if not some mere self-inflicted conceit, in what precinct exactly had today’s voting required that of him?

    (Hat tips to H. Beam Piper and Jerry Pournelle for some of the story ideas referenced here; also contributions / inspirations by Leigh Kimmel.)

  26. The hills were alive with the sounds of.. well, not quite music. The calls echoed back and forth, as the various folk chatted in their pre-radio version of a wireless network. The tone changed so subtly outsiders might not notice, but suddenly there were soldiers assembling and preparations happening at a dizzying pace. The Yodeling Attack Warning Network did its job.

    1. Heh. Okay, that’s pretty unexpected. Well done.

      And I can actually see yodeling serving that sort of purpose in some made-up society… or possibly a real-world area, if I’m simply not aware of that having happened. Which is a possibility.

  27. Jane Waite discreetly palmed her yawn, not an easy thing to do when sitting on a dais at the front of the room. The candidate preceding her was still speaking even though she had clearly run out of points to make. Jane was up next; she glanced at her speech notes yet again.

    Why did I agree to this, she thought for the fourth or fifth time; but as Dr. Anderson’s friendly glance caught hers, she took comfort in the thought that the principal felt she was by far the best candidate for PTA president. The PE equipment fundraiser she’d organized had gone better than anyone expected, much to the annoyance of the current PTA president, Suzanne Maurer.

    Two members of Suzanne’s clique were running against her in this election. The group had had a lock on PTA leadership for several years, but this had led to a reluctance to introduce new ideas as well as a marked decrease in parental participation. Jane’s frustration at the current state of affairs was the other reason she had allowed Dr. Anderson to convince her to run.

    It was finally Jane’s turn at the podium. As she cleared her throat, Luie gave her a thumbs up.

    1. School politics, and a reluctant candidate pressured into taking a leadership role. This shows promise… I could see a George Washington story playing out here, with her taking up her role for a time before going back to the ‘farm’, leaving the school a better place. (Who was that Roman senator/public figure who was renowned for doing the same thing? Tacitus was a historian, and Julius Caesar was assassinated for not doing that. Well, according to Shakespeare at least.)

      1. Thank you! The overarching project is really a murder mystery set in the suburban 1960s, but school politics is starting to become more of a focus (at least in these prompts). I think a PTA member is going down at some point…

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