Hark, What is this Abomination Monday Two Weeks Late Book Promo and Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike

Hark, What is this Abomination Monday Two Weeks Late 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 SARAH A. HOYT: Barbarella: The Center Cannot Hold #3

Having met the Innumerable and joined their cause against the Architects, Barbarella must clandestinely return to the home of the Architects in order to retrieve Vix, left behind when Barbarella was extracted by an agent of the Innumerable. See? We’ve come full circle! As is often the case, it’s not what you see that’s the danger, it’s what you can’t see, and Barbarella sees plenty of that wherever she sees an Architect. And lest we forget, there is the small matter of the Unnamable out there…

FROM DAVID COLLINS: The Second War (Wars Without End Book 2)

After leaving the medical chamber, Keith thought the long war was over. He had united two warring factions and identified the culprit behind the earlier devastating war. A xenophobic race that was out to destroy all the other races.

The problem was that they didn’t like that he had uncovered their deception, and they were out for revenge.

Then the Earth sent their “secret weapon” out to him. Something that could possibly beat the Meduala at their own game. Unfortunately, her daughter insisted on coming out too.

Much of his earlier success was based on help from the AI on his patched-up former delict spacecraft. Getting it updated seemed like a good idea. Adding more processing power to an unlocked AI should make it even better. That was the idea. What could go wrong? (he soon finds out)

Then they went out exploring the area in the new and improved ship. They found some unexpected aliens. And then some different aliens found them. They discovered that the Meduala were terrified of the new aliens.… It turns out that they had a reason to be…

FROM BONNIE RAMTHUN: The Stone of Excellent Luck: Book Three of the Centerville Chronicles

Saving the world just got tricky

Ray knows he has to save the world this coming summer, since he’s supposed to be “The Shining One.” But then the mysterious new bully in town, Finn, tells Ray that he’s the true one of the prophecies, not Ray. Finn has taken the Stone of Excellent Luck from the deadly caverns underneath the town, the first magical artifact needed to stop the Awful Solstice.
Finn is now after the great sword Excalibur, and once he’s got it, he’s going to be unstoppable. Worst of all, Finn doesn’t want to save the world. He wants to see everything fall apart!

Ray and Clancy must brave the deadly traps in the caverns, find Excalibur first, and convince Finn to play a desperate game of winner-takes-all. Their adventure takes them to the windswept moors of Scotland, the oceans of the Caribbean, and a final confrontation that will give them a way to save the world, or lose their chance forever.

BY MAX BRAND, REVIVED BY D. JASON FLEMING: Jim Curry’s Test (Annotated): The classic pulp western

Jim Curry was a loafer, but never did anybody any harm. Until his gun accidentally went off, and killed the most beloved old-timer in the area. It was an accident, but the sheriff isn’t overly sympathetic, and when Curry breaks the sheriff’s jaw escaping, the townsfolk decide that due process just won’t do…

    This iktaPOP Media edition includes a new introduction giving genre and historical context to the novel.

BY CHARLES ALDEN SELTZER REVIVED BY D. JASON FLEMING: Men of the West (Annotated): A pulp western omnibus of: Riddle Gawne, Beau Rand, and West!

iktaPOP Media brings you an omnibus of three classic westerns by Charles Alden Seltzer, featuring Seltzer’s characteristic western heroes, each with his own unique nickname.
Riddle Gawne
Jefferson Gawne has a low opinion of people, and an even lower one of women. After his brother was murdered by Watt Hyat, in complicity with his brother’s wife, Gawne followed Hyat’s trail across the west.
But the trail went cold, and Gawne, nicknamed Riddle behind his back, found himself the guardian of an orphan girl, and the only man in the territory who dares stand up to Hame Bozzam, founder of the dirty and lawless Bozzam City. Bozzam is too smart to challenge Gawne directly, and Gawne is too honorable to act against Bozzam without cause.
So an uneasy truce has held between the two men. A truce that is about to be broken, with the arrival of the beautiful Miss Kathleen Harkless. Every man wants her, and the men of Bozzam City don’t particularly care if she wants them back.
Beau Rand
Amos Seddon has a secret and Beau Rand knows it.
When someone starts rustling cattle, it doesn’t take long for the whispers against Rand to start. To save himself and his young son, Rand has to prove his innocence and find the real rustlers.
Josephine Hamilton’s first impression of the west was stopping the hanging of a supposed horse thief. From that moment, she decided that the west needed her principles imposed upon it.
And the man who personified that west, and most needed dominating, was Steel Brannon, a man who was merely amused that she stopped him from giving justice to a horse thief. And intrigued by a woman so willful, and so misguided.
    This iktaPOP Media omnibus includes Introductions and Afterwords by indie author and editor D. Jason Fleming, putting the novels into historical, cultural, and genre context.

FROM MARY CATELLI: A Diabolical Bargain

Growing up between the Wizards’ Wood and its marvels, and the finest university of wizardry in the world, Nick Briarwood always thought that he wanted to learn wizardry.

When his father attempts to offer him to a demon in a deal, the deal rebounded on him, and Nick survives — but all the evidence points to his having made the deal.

Now he really wants to learn wizardry. Even though the university, the best place to master it, is also the place where he is most likely to be discovered.

FROM LEIGH KIMMEL: Love in the Time of Campaigning

As Frank Correra brings his family to a lunar settlement to get them away from a worsening political situation on Earth, he reminisces about how he and his wife met.

Frank had always dreamed of the skies. As a clone of an astronaut who subsequently became a US Senator, Frank thought he had a clear path ahead of him. But when it comes time to apply for the Air Force Academy, it is an election year. His ur-brother can’t promise a nomination until he’s won another term, and this year promises a hard race to run. When the other side puts up an ugly attack ad, can Frank find a way to discredit it before it destroys his ur-brother’s chance of re-election, and with it Frank’s slot at an Academy appointment?

A Gus on the Moon story.

FROM CHRISTOPHER WERNER: 202303 The Ideas of Marchhttps://amzn.to/3mjyVMx

The monthly booklet, collecting essays on current events and whatever else comes to mind. Mostly current events but that’s natural. The masters are pushing down on us harder and harder and making our lives worse. Like many other people, I’m trying to fight back and inspire others to do the same. How long will it take?

The B-side is a collection of The Struggling comic strips I made this month. Just random jokes and observations that are essentially the sort of thing I write about on Side A, but hopefully more entertaining. This booklet is an edited collection of the previous month’s worth of pamphlets so now you can read it twice!!!

FROM FRANK HOOD: A Hearth for Ulysses

The sky was blue, and snow covered the tops of the mountains. Jack Burns hadn’t realized until he saw it how much he’d missed snow–real, honest-to-goodness, earth-water snow. Even the cement under his boots felt good. Things had changed however. Houses were creeping up the sides of the Andes. The small launching area had turned into a huge spaceport, complete with enormous corporate buildings and a mammoth city to surround it. “Is this the house that Jack built?” Burns thought but couldn’t bring himself to laugh at his own joke.

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: HAMMER

118 thoughts on “Hark, What is this Abomination Monday Two Weeks Late Book Promo and Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike

  1. The fight didn’t last long as the Titan named Donar had summoned his golden Hammer.

    The Trainer told the defeated trainee Titan “Now this is why you don’t call Donar “Thor”. Donar thinks of “Thor” as a false god and Donar doesn’t want to be seen as a god. And of course, Thor is said to have red hair and Donar has blond hair.”

  2. Late on Saturday evening Lurie wandered out the front door and into the garage, where Doug was at his workbench. The fluorescent light overhead illuminated his latest project – a broken lamp he was rewiring. Hammers, screwdrivers and other tools were neatly arranged on pegboard and a faint scent of gasoline and motor oil hung in the air.

    Lurie sat on a chair missing its back and watched for a while. The sunset afterglow was fading fast and the streetlamps had come on, sending pools of light onto the tarmac. Other than the occasional car passing by, all was still.

    “So.” Doug leaned back and looked at his wife. “How’s David doing?”

    “He’s asleep. I checked.” Lurie gave a faint smile. “Turns out mowin’ lawns all day is a good way to keep kids outa trouble. He was almost too tired to eat.” They shared a look of relief.

    “Oh, and June called,” she added as an afterthought. “Turns out that body they found? Across from the school? He worked for the people that’re funding those new houses. What would he be doing on the job site?”

    “Well, I don’t know exactly.”

    “I know you’ve been thinkin’ about it though. You said before there was no reason for such a delay. Those lots settin’ empty all that time… I guess if the bank, or whoever, screwed up that could be a reason. Have you heard anything?” One moment later: “You have. What?”

    “I don’t know anything, Lurie. All I’ve heard is talk, and you know I don’t like to repeat such. Don’t want to spread things around…” Doug turned back to the lamp. “And I know it’s going to upset you.”

    “Jane needs to know. It was her and her daughter, after all, who found –”

    Doug spun around. “No! Jane’s the last person who needs to hear this. Don’t you go tellin’ her –”

    “Tell her what?” Lurie folded her arms. “C’m on now. June wouldn’t touch a hair on anybody’s head and you know it.”

    “No, she wouldn’t. But they’re sayin’…” Doug sighed. “They’re sayin’ maybe Rob might be involved.”

    What? Rob wouldn’t do that.” But there was a note of doubt in Lurie’s voice. “Does June know people are talkin’ about her husband?”

    Doug sighed. “I sure hope not.”

  3. As always, this bunch! A little ways in the past.

    “Vincent! About time you got here!”

    Renata von Thunerswald greeted her guest with a grin, though she was the only one smiling among the assembled leadership of the Baldraz Army.

    “Well, I think we were all expecting this to happen sooner or later, Your Highness,” the Undying soldier sighed. “How bad have things gotten since Carys and Zornitsa turned up?”

    “Grimhilt is undergoing extensive repairs from the last time Her Highness and Lady Carys fought, Sir Vincent,” the man to her right stated. “Zornitsa took enough damage to where Lady Carys will be out of commission for a few days but we’ve still taken heavy casualties.”

    “Gee, thanks for the flattery there, Karl.” Renata grumbled, giving the officer a sour look.

    “Forgive me, Your Highness. It simply would not do to give Sir Vincent an inaccurate picture of where we stand.” Karl replied, bowing his head apologetically.

    “Well since he’s here and Carys is out of commission for a bit I think we need to figure out how to get him and Ashleshia to do as much damage to the Loirians as possible!” the Crown Princess chirped, rubbing her hands together in anticipation. “The worst they’ve got in their nearest camp is their squeaky hammers and those are no match for the Jade Tempest!”

    “Only if they’re not properly supported, Your Highness.” Vincent noted, remembering a few of his trickier encounters with Loire’s Martel heavy assault models.

    “We’ll see to it that you and Ashleshia have proper support of your own, of course,” Karl added solemnly. “Up to and including myself, should the numbers, or the presence of Prince Henri, require it.”

    “I appreciate it, Colonel Behringer.” Vincent responded, giving the man an appreciative smile.

    “Of course. We’ve come too far to let His Majesty Friedrich down now,” Karl replied before turning to the map on the table.

  4. “I see this Midnightoildiary chap’s been married twenty-eight years today,” said Nigel Slim-Howland, looking up from his tablet.

    “Indeed, sir,” said Jenkins. “A remarkable feat.”

    “How so,” said Nigel.

    “I’m told it required monumental patience on her part. He is, as the Americans say, dumb as a bag of hammers.”

  5. She stared at the merchant. “All I want is a hammer.”

    The merchant smiled at her. “Picking the right tool makes the job easier. Do you want a hammer for framing or finishing or flooring or demolition? Wood-work or metal-work? Waging war?”

    She stared harder. “A. Hammer.”

          1. The thing is, most places that sell tools also sell wood and there’s often stray bits left over and so around.

  6. Sulley looked at the mess the firefight had left of his engineering space. He had red lights glowing and alarms blinking all over his boards. The emergency comms were awash with officers screaming to get the systems up. No smeg ya daft bastards, the pirate ships are closing in on two fronts, I can read a scanner, Sulley thought to himself.
    “Well ya daft bastrards if you want delicate machinery to work you shouldn’t have fire fights in my bloody engineering spaces” Lt. Cmdr Sullivan screamed out loud.
    In frustration he picked up a hammer and hit the casing for the ships main controls. it dented the casing and small grey paint chips scattered in the zero gravity, then without warning his boards turned green on enough systems that the ships drive and artificial gravity started to function. Sulley watched as the paint chips arched to the deck.
    “You’re a smeggin genius Sulley” the captain stated over the comms.
    “A tech ran into the room, we patched the coolant system, what next sir, Sir” Petty officer Palmer asked..
    “Gold plate this hammer and hold on to your ass” Sulley shockingly advised.

            1. Jesus H. CHRIST.

              I’m sure the sex is great, but I don’t see them surviving long enough to reproduce.

              1. Loves you! 😉

                And yeah… like I said. Ignore the crushed glass – apparently it was sugar glass or something. Or magic glass that disappears as soon as it’s broken.

                1. > “Loves you! 😉”

                  …Just tell me this love of yours doesn’t involve sharp objects or pushing people through windows.

                    1. Ah, I see. Apology accepted.

                      But all the same, young lady, be careful with that sort of thing. Getting a man’s hopes up can be dangerous. 😛

            2. Strip Fencing.



              Did I ever mention I fenced in college? And several ladies on the team were quite a sight to see….


              My day is off to a great start.


              Strip Fencing….


              (Guru meditation error)

    1. Sounds like a Scotty-approved fix to me! And what a stroke of luck…

      Percussive maintenance can be a funny thing. If it doesn’t work 99 times out of 100, that 100th time is gonna be really impressive.

      1. > “Percussive maintenance can be a funny thing.”

        Indeed it can be:

        When Donald Duck has had enough of your crap.

      2. I have, on occasion, thumped a device back into operation.

        Fewer and fewer people understand the subsequent “Heeeyyyyyyyyyy” and thumb gesture.

        “Dang server won’t boot.”

        Thump. Bootup noises. “Heeeyyyyyyyyyyyy!” (thumb)

        ….. “Whaaaat?”

        “No. It’s Heeeyyyyyyyyyyyy!” (Thumb)

          1. It was the catchphrase of “The Fonz,” a character from a 70s television show titled Happy Days:

      3. 2:00 AM, -20 F, honey wagon pulls up to the plane. Driver hooks up and pulls the valve; nothing happens. Calls me over. I grab a hammer and stick my arm through the A/C exhaust valve. One thump on a strategic spot and the lav dumps. I walk away whistling.

        True story, BTW.

      4. In the mid ’60s we had a cheap TV in the basement. Fairly frequently the horizontal sync would go out, accompanied by an electronic shriek. A slap upside the case worked to get things back on track, and eliminated the shriek, so I was very familiar with percussive maintenance.

  7. As the SecPol outside worked their horrors on the crowd of screaming protesters, the helpless SP infiltaror gazed upon his captor, shadowed in the basenent gloom, rummaging in a toolbox.


    The horrified SP moaned around the gag, only now understanding why his intended victim had given him four large nails as a “pass” to show his new unit of rebels.

      1. Yeah. “Hammer + Abomination” apparently spawned a whole storyline involving a search to wreak justice.

        Ouch. Why does a muse feed me stories I don’t like to read? Just ouch.

  8. I think I still have yesterday on my mind (bit more than twice 50 words):

    A hammer and a nail
    A hill so long ago.
    A hammer and a nail,
    A deadly shame, all for show.

    A hammer and a nail
    An innocent lifted high
    Between two other crosses
    Pointing to the sky.

    The hammer mocked the nail.
    The sullen voices jeer.
    And bowed a head so weary
    Their burdens still to bear.

    A hammer and a nail
    Pain pounded deep.
    A hammer and a nail,
    Pinning hands and feet.

    A hammer and a nail
    And a bitter Friday eve.
    A hammer and a nail
    And the women weep and grieve.

    A hammer and a nail
    The bleakest of all days
    Yet Sunday comes a dawning
    And wipes their grief away.

  9. “Wait, how can you come up with a code phrase ahead of time? How did you know you’d survive to meet up?”
    “Never met these guys before, sorry. But I have an idea.”
    “Like this.” He stepped forward, cupping his hands around his mouth. “BY GROBTHAR’S HAMMER!”
    A pause.

    1. -Good- one.

      If you didn’t learn “running password” professionally, Bravo.

        1. Top notch challenge/password uses sounds not in the opposition language.

          Fighting imperial Japan? Use passwords like lollypop.

          Family secret words should -not- be based on the usual topics. Made up words, never said anywhere near outsiders (or phones) are best.

          “Your mom sent me to get you from school”

          “Oh yeah? What color?”

          “What?” (Looks at outfit) ” Oh pink, your favorite”

          Kid runs away. Answer was supposed to be “Hoolapoola”.

          Magic number also works. Any two that add up to the secret.


          Y’all get it.

          The family secret word saves lives, folks. Take it from one who was almost snatched.

          1. Nah, poetry is better.

            Because people don’t generally start quoting “Jabberwocky” when trying to kidnap a kid. And if the grown up screws it up, it’s usually really obvious.

  10. She was woken by a sound outside. For a moment, she thought it might be a hammer, and then she finished waking up, and it was a woodpecker hammering away. She had not been mistaken about how loud it was, though.
    Tell Isabella, she reminded herself. The spells needed freshening.

  11. “No way at all,” said Lucie. “I blundered into this swamp while fleeing for my life.”
    Autumn flinched in memory. Hard to blunder out again.
    It was not, she supposed, a problem that would be improved by blindly hammering at it. She had to think, and Lucie might help her.

  12. Liam was up the tree, and considering how flimsy the boughs were, before he had time to realize what he was doing. His breath steadied, and his heart slowed, but neither one absolutely as the bear ambled forward, and stood under the tree, looking up.
    It stood, put its paw to the trunk, and shoved.
    A little, tentatively, and not a hammer blow, but Liam had no doubt whatsoever that it could have down the tree on a moment.
    “An unkindly greeting,” said the bear. It looked up the tree. “Your coming down would make any fight easier for you.”

    1. I wonder if Liam can talk his way out of having a fight with this bear? 😉

        1. I think that climbing the tree at the sight of another character non-verbally expresses that you think there may be a fight ahead.

          1. True, but since we didn’t see how Sir Bear was behaving when Liam saw him, we don’t know if Liam had reasons to think Sir Bear was going to attack him.

            1. He’s walking alone in the woods. He sees this bear. It smells the air.

              He knows what bears are like.

                1. Being a talking member of a generally uncommunicative race, where both you and they are deadly dangerous, has its burdens

          1. Huh. Just looked it up on Forgotten Realms, and apparently werebears have jumped around on the alignment spectrum some. In 1e & 2e, they were Chaotic Good, then they were Lawful Good in 3e. I’m guessing that’s when these memes were born. In 5e, they’re Neutral Good.

              1. And geek loves werebears back! (As well as werehouses… someone supposedly asked if that was like a werewolf when they came across one in a game, DM frantically scribbling: “It is now!”)

                1. Not enough coffee but when I saw “werehouse” I thought of one of Manly Wade Wellman backwoods critters.

                  Looks like an older house but if you enter it, you’re trapped and the “house” eats you. (Sort of like a giant Venus-Fly Trap.) 😈

              2. Hmm. . . we have a number of dragons but you’re the first werebear, at least that’s admitted it.

  13. “Clem, I was thinking how I might tinker with the still,” said Delbert.

    “The hayull for?” said Clem, annoyed.

    “Well, if we adjusted the distillation process, we’d get better flavor –”

    “Damn, boy!” said Clem. “Them Martian tourists ain’t buyin’ our stuff for flavor. They’re buyin’ it to git hammered!”

  14. They could not stop hammering the necromancers. He had been a fool to hesitate before, and that girl had suffered for it.
    “This way,” called Florangela, gleaming with green and leaves.
    The children hesitated. A few fled. Shadows swooped down on the fleeing ones, and Karl struck the shadows down.

  15. “You should see what sorts of hammers they have there.” Master Hannes shook his head. “Tiny, delicate little things. There are even hammers they wield by making them part of automata that shrink their motions down to the daintiness of blows needed to make such fine adjustments to the clockwork.”

  16. “An ideas for your birthday, Max?” she asked.

    “Tools.” he replied, “Most any kind, really. Hand tools, power tools. I can use screwdrivers, wrenches, socket sets, saws, planes, sanders, drills, maybe even a nail gun. The rest? Manual, electric, pneumatic, whatever. If anyone is feeling generous, an air compressor. Just no more-”

    “Yeah, how do you have so many of those?”

    “It’s the name. What were my folks thinking naming me ‘Maxwell’ when the family name is Silver?”

  17. The news fell like a hammer blow. “Papa and I have accepted offers to work in the provincial capital. We’re moving in nine months.”

    Max tried to remain stoic. At fifteen years old, he knew his opinion was of secondary importance, at best. “How will I tell Cari?” he thought.

  18. Ready for some corniness? Here goes:

    “Well,” said Cari, “there are lots of professional scouts down there, right? This move could be good for your future.”

    Max couldn’t believe it. She’s trying to put a positive spin on it, he thought. “Dunno,” he said. “Maybe.”

    But he noticed her eyes were watering. And so were his.

  19. Lucius took a closer look at the two pieces. They almost fit, but not quite. — which raised the question of where the problem lay. Had the Soviet space program passed on bad specs for the part on their side of the connection, or had someone in the American moonbase’s machine shop screwed up on constructing the connector on the NASA side?

    At least it wasn’t as obvious a blunder as the early satellite which was lost because the specs were drawn up in metric, but the tooling was in conventional units. Most likely someone, somewhere, was using a device that was ever so slightly out of true. Micrometers were notorious for that if not properly maintained, but some other precision measuring devices could also get screwy over time.

    Back when he was still working for his dad’s excavating company, he would’ve given the offending connector a couple of taps with a hammer. Worst case, they’d have to run down to the equipment dealer’s and pick up a replacement piece.

    Up here, replacing the part would mean having a new one fabricated, then flown over here — with the continued habitability of the Soviet moonbase depending on getting their water reclamation system back online within hours, not days. No, better not take the brute-force route.

      1. Chicken tape and duck blood! It’s not a dark art! There are SOUND TECHINICAL REASONS why you have to sacrifice a black goat every new moon.

  20. “I’ve decided to do the worst possible thing to you all,” the Empress Theodora said, rising from her throne. “I will deny you most of your excuses for being terrible human beings. And I will hammer that point into your souls so firmly that fifty generations from now, you will whisper in fear of my return because I will eliminate more excuses from your ability to justify being horrible.”

    1. Definitely an interesting threat! Actually, now I’m reminded of something from The Dresden Files where the main character gets winged by an angelic halo and is briefly crippled by the sudden, perfect recollection of every mistake he’s every made and everything he ever did wrong.

      1. More like…you no longer can lay claim to the usual reasons.
        You don’t have a physical issue. You don’t have bad head-meat. You’re not obese. You’re not ugly or deformed or lacking in limbs.
        In the great game of life, you have no excuses for showing up to play and being able to be on a team that isn’t Team Evil or Team Asshole unless you choose to be.

        1. Everything you do, and everything you don’t do, is a choice. Circumstances can limit your choices, evil assholes can present you with horrible choices, but you are still responsible for the choices you make. The evil assholes are responsible for theirs. “It’s your fault I killed that hostage!” is a lie.

          1. Ask any GM that ran a game with me in it. Ask the folks who Red Team our business during disaster exercises. I excel at breaking scenarios.

            A few attempted muggings went … amusingly.

            Thing1 “GIMMIE FIVE DOLLA!”

            Me: THUMP (thumb to xyphoid)

            Thing1 “gasp” … “gasp”

            Thing2: (droll) “I guess he ain’t got five dolla..”

            Me: ( hobbles away)

  21. Back! Back! I hold up the sign of the empty wallet to abjure your abomination.

    Joking aside, thank you Mad Genii and ancillary indies for keeping me in reading material.

    Especially since I am out of bookshelves.

  22. The town was a dot on one map. Unnamed and unlabeled, towards the south end of the Aswean Plains. It wasn’t even marked on any other map that Servant Joshua had found. But it was here that the Shard had fallen, and it was here that Nathan had been sent.

    The wheat fields had been the first sign of life. Not to mention the odd rustling in the stalks and the tingle on the back of his neck as Solstice trotted down the worn dirt path.

    They’re watching you, you know, whispered a voice from the darker side of his mind. He ignored it.

    But the nagging itch didn’t leave him, even as he tried to urge Solstice on faster. Surely the people out here had some visitors from outside? Some traveling merchants, perhaps? A Servant or two?

    A quiet chuckle rang against the back of his skull. Always trying to be Normal. You can barely pull that off in the city, Nate. Your little act won’t work out here.

    Shut up, Nathan thought back, before turning his attention resolutely to the vaguely building-shaped objects growing on the horizon. Slipping a hand into the satchel beside him, he found the cool, sharp bone of the Shard again.

    Didn’t lose it yet? Well, I am impressed.

    Shut up. He kicked lightly at the horse’s sides, and apparently Solstice was hankering for the water trough, because the stallion actually quickened to a brisk canter. A few minutes later, the town was well in sight.

    As were its people. They gathered in packs, facing the road. Verlen only knew how they’d gathered so quickly, he could only assume that someone from the fields had come in ahead of him. But as Solstice slowed back to a walk and the two of them moved past the outbuildings, the people followed, the crowd making way for him as if for a king.

    Men in worn old work tunics, women in colorfully stained gowns, children running alongside Solstice, practically beneath his hooves. Every last one of them staring at him. A burly older man with a truly impressive beard leaned against a blacksmithing hammer, leveling a particularly perceptive squint at him.

    What did I tell you?

    Shut. Up. Nathan tried to keep his back straight, to glance around without meeting anyone’s eyes for too long. Curling inward and cowering wasn’t Normal any more than staring and smirking at people was.

    So much effort for something everyone else seems to manage so easily. But of course, that’s you, isn’t it? Can’t manage anything by yourself.

    You know it doesn’t have to be this hard. What you need is a little confidence, Nate. You know I can give you that. Let me –

    Nathan’s hand flashed from the Shard to the knotted red cords around his wrists. “Verlen, lord of mercy, hear your unworthy servant.”

    The whispering fell silent. He would return, he always did. But for now…

    “To those who are hungry, grant food. To those who are thirsty, grant drink. To those who suffer, grant my hands power, that their pain may be mine to bear…”

  23. “Yes, Your Majesty,” Eleanor said mockingly.
    “Wait, why do you call him that?” I asked.
    Eleanor smirked. “Hasn’t he told you? I supposed he wouldn’t. Two months ago, the clan leaders chose Maxim os Elegast os Arent os Storm, sometimes called the Clan’s Hammer, as Prince of the Stormcrows.” She glared at him. “For some reason, he hasn’t condescended to either acknowledge or decline the honor.”
    Through all this, Maxim had barely looked up from what he was doing. “It’s not an honor, it’s a grave responsibility for which I am entirely unsuited.” He said. “Always assuming it’s true, of course.”
    “I’m sure you were notified,” Eleanor sneered.
    “If so, it’s sitting in a pile of unopened mail at my office in Haupstadt,” he said. “I haven’t been there in three months.”
    “Er, Your Majesty?”
    He looked up at that, eyes cold with irritation. “’Doctor’ will do, Miss Fortabat.”
    “Why do they call you the Hammer?” I found it hard to think of anyone less like a hammer than Maxim. “To me, you seem like the kind of weapon that hits fast, not the kind that hits hard.”
    He seemed uncomfortable with that, and went back to what he was doing.
    “Because he’s hunted every kind of phobomancer there is, from lupomancers to necromancers,” Eleanor said. “And killed more of them than any other Stormcrow alive.”
    “I’m a field researcher,” he said quietly. “My interest is in determining, and disabling, the mechanism by which the Underworld gives power to these evildoers.” His voice hardened. “Unlike Eleanor, I don’t believe in standing by and letting innocent people suffer while I conduct my research.”

  24. “Drill” he said, holding out his hand behind him as he peered into the wall cavity.

    His assistant slapped a tool into his hand and he brought it around, aiming the long end at the screw head.

    … wait. Long wooden handle, metal head with a flat striking surface on the face and two long claws on the back.

    “This is not a drill!” he shouted, to the giggles of his assistant.

    1. The Gary Larson cartoon with Thag the Caveman saying, “No, I said get me a hammer! This is a screwdriver…oh wait…maybe it’s a hammer…damn these stone tools.”

    2. Oh yeah?

      Fort Benning. The day’s training was landmines. At the moment, they are trying to demonstrate the command-detonated Claymore directional mine. And failing.

      Sergeant squeezes the clacker. Nothing . Again, nothing.

      11x-trainee, in the Marvin Martian voice, loudly: “Where’s the Kaboom? I was expecting an earth-shattering kaboom…”

      Still trying to figure out how I stayed out of the stockade.

  25. Leeson looked up and took off his magnifying spectacles. “Nope,” he said. “The circuitry looks good. No bent pins, no bad solder. I’m afraid the problem is in the microcontroller itself”. “Nonsense” said Darvin. “Just get a bigger hammer”.

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