Chapter 9 - The Police Arrive

If you're ever wondered how a book gets written, here is your chance to watch it happen. I'm a published fiction and non-fiction writer, but this is my first novel. I'm writing it right here, on the the web. This is the first draft, I expect there will be three drafts before it's ready for submission. It is a humorous, absurdist cozy mystery narrated by a cat. It's the Mr. Kitten Murder Mystery

 Chapter 9
The police came. I heard them drive up, of course. I heard their conversation, as well, about the reality show, about whether their hair looked good. I heard them primp in the car before coming to the door. One male, one female. The female came had been her modeling portfolio in the trunk "just in case." They decided she should leave it initially.

Peacock showed them to the basement. I tagged along. The scene was completely different. It was covered in what looked like blood, and brightly lit. The crew was in just finishing changing the scene to make it more spectacular.

"What's going on here?" the male officer asked.
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The Mr. Kitten Murder Mystery Blook: 8 Waiting for Police

If you're ever wondered how a book gets written, here is your chance to watch it happen. I'm a published fiction and non-fiction writer, but this is my first novel. I'm writing it right here, on the the web. This is the first draft, I expect there will be three drafts before it's ready for submission. It is a humorous, absurdist cozy mystery narrated by a cat. It's the Mr. Kitten Murder Mystery.

8 Waiting for Police

The humans exhibited milling behavior. [expound on this from survival Ripley's book "The Unthinkable"] The Captain was the first to snap out of it. "Alright, this is a matter for the police." Everyone stared at him. "I want everyone to calmly walk up the stairs and go to the library."

The Captain (who was farthest into the basement) made a move to go upstairs and was blocked by the rest of the people, who were still standing around shell shocked. Madeline sidestepped and Helen just stood there. Steve took a small step back.

"Steve," the Captain barked. "Take Helen and help her up the stairs to the library. Move!"

Steven and Helen started up the stairs and Blandings followed them, perhaps copying their behavior. The others followed suit.

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Chapter 7 - The Reaction to the Body

This chapter is not interesting or readable...but it does advance the plot....later on I'll add more action and dialog to the bare bones and make it fun. I promised myself I'd write a chapter every day and post it and that's what I'm doing (after an interruption due to the holidays). So here it is.

7 - The reaction to the body

We were all in the library; that's just the room we would go to (draw off to) after dinner. The Butler, Blandings, insisted on calling it the Drawing Room, and the reality show people just latched onto that, just the way they latched onto his fake British accent. Honestly, the higher our ratings go, the deeper his accent gets.

Helen  didn't scream, but she came into the room but her actual face was shaking and her hair stood out from her head. She just stood in the doorway. Steve was having a tete-a-tete with Tiffany in the corner in such hushed tones that even I couldn't hear them were too occupied to notice Helen. (They were actually discussing Steve taking Helen away on a cruise. Helen had wanted to stay and keep an eye on the house so they were making previsions to address her concerns  and allow her to go, but at the time he seemed neglectful and it looked like they were having an affair. The woman was much more svelte than Helen.) The cameraman was filming the scratches I had made on his arm. The butler was expounding on the myth of a dog's mouth being cleaning than a humans, and talking about "fight bite" which is often fatal, and saying that a cat scratch is like a hypodermic full of germs.

Madeleine looked up when Helen didn't argue with the butler about that and noticed Helen's distress and we thereby saw some glances into Mad's true nature beneath her superficial exterior. We saw  the affection and respect between the two women who were , in fact, blood relations. Just glimpses.

The family and crew went to the basement door and there was nearly another casualty because of the cameraman's enthusiasm to see the blood.

"I can't believe this" the camera man cried in great distress. Everyone looked at him in surprise. He didn't seem like a humanitarian. "My handheld light for the camera has blown out."

The reaction of the other people was one part outrage and one part comprehension. A few shrugs and nods. I yawned.

Then the cameraman turned to me and accused me. The butler piped in with statistics about how many people die after being tripped by their cats. By this time handheld lights had been brought in and the cameras were rolling again. Helen was refuting what the butler said, and the dead body was being ignored until Steve (who retained his perspecitive although he was diffident) finally broke in and suggested that this was not the time for that argument.

Steve ushered everyone into the library and called the police.

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5 - Halloween Night

Steve came home early. He had a secret sorrow at that time and so did Helen. She was nervous because she felt she was not attractive to him because she was fat. The pressure from the reality show brought these feelings up. Then she hired Tiffany to be a live in trainer and cook, but if anything, that made things worse because Tiffany was quite thin. Not to imply that Helen was jealous and catty. I agree with Van Vechten that that is a terrible expression. For what would a catty woman be except a catlike woman, reserved and graceful, redolent of the mystery of love? Steve's secret sorrow was that he was not the rich one in the family. If I haven't already explained the intricacies of old Calvin's will that left Helen her fortune, then let me do that now.

Anyway, Steve did have his chance at redemption - the initial public offering (IPO) of his small software company, IDK Industries. They made iPhone and iPad apps. Hidden object games were very popular and his White Trash Treasure was a smash. (Find the wedding rings on the brother and sister, find the blocks--under the truck of course, etc.)
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Alien vs. Predator: A Twilight Parody

Hi, I'm Bella, with the accent on the second syllable, so it sounds like "blah." I just moved to Oregon from Arizona. Stupid Oregon.

In biology class, I trip over some air. Edward catches me. I love his dreadlocks and the way he chuckles through his criss-cross mandibles.

Jacob the Alien skitters by, dripping caustic acid, his reticulated inner skull extending from his outer skull. I'll make Edward jealous. "Wow, Jacob makes my chest flutter."

"Why? Did he insert a pod down your throat?"

We chuckle; I bite my lip. The alien overhears. "I knew you'd be prejudiced. Stupid Arizonan."

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4: The Mr. Kitten Murder Mystery

I eventually slunk back into the morning room seeking companionship. I watched the Captain in my meditative way, trying to fathom what had happened. To quote Carl Van Vechten, the great cat chronicler, it is true that the animals suffer vaguely, but suffering is not less because it is vague. The Captain suffered, I could see it. Winston Churchill had been a boon companion to us both and the grief and loss had not yet come full upon us. I jumped on the Captain's lap and affectionately dug my claws into the worsted wool of his pants. Perhaps this slight gestured brought his grief to the forefront of his mind, for he stood and yelped in pain. I hopped onto the back of the wingchair, comforted by our shared emotion.

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Dan Brown Parody: The Veni Vidi Vici Code

The Veni Vidi Vici Code: A Dan Brown Parody

by Chris Hugh

Robert Langdon covered his head with his pillow as the phone rang. No, he said into the silence of his Victorian-style home which was full of antiques that showed what a well-travelled and educated person of diverse interests he was. He looked at his Mickey Mouse watch which he wore because he was lighthearted and quirky. Three in the morning. I do not want to talk to any mysterious-yet-world-famous callers about anything nefarious, the handsome forty-something professor mumbled. He closed his blue eyes against the cacophony of the phone and reflected upon the similarity of the words cacophony and telephone, both being derived from phon, the Greek word for sound. He was relieved when the ringing stopped because he wanted to go to sleep. He reflected that the words English words sleep and sheep were exactly analogous to the German words Schlaff and Schaff. Langdon smiled with satisfaction because he had nearly bored himself to Schlaff.

His smile turned to a frown as he heard his fax machine start. He pulled another pillow over his head. The pillowcases that covered the pillows with which the Harvard symbologist covered his head were made of the finest Egyptian cotton, and were as white as an albino Opus Dei monk. Ironically, Egyptian cotton, or Gossypium barbadense, was actually indigenous to the Americas, not Egypt. It was Muhammad Ali Pasha who introduced the long-stapled cotton variety to Egypt in the nineteenth century. Also ironically, Opus Dei does not have monks.
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Rejection Therapy---Rejection is now a GAME!

Here's my bloodcurdling non-fiction article about it, on NightStalkerGames Pin It Now!

Chapter 3 of the Mr. Kitten Murder Mystery - Mr. Kitten Finds the Body

I did not feel like writing today, but I did it anyway. That's they way to write a book! Now, having written, I will go to sleep. Here it is. I'll polish it later.

3 - Mr. Kitten Discovers the Body

I hastened to the morning room, both drawn by my curiosity and pursued by the horrid wailing from Madeleine's room. When she sings, she sounds like a scalded...well, let us just say she is not exactly on pitch.

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How to Make the World's Easiest Kindle Case

You don't need to spend $60 for a case to protect your $99 Kindle Fire, Kindle Keyboard or Kindle whatever. With stuff you might have around the house, you can make your own, frankly superior, case. It will be superior because, through the magic of Velcro, your Kindle will lie securely in its unique, hand-made case, fully exposed in all its glorious full-frontal nudity. (See above.) This is the only case I have seen that does not cover any part of the front of the Kindle. You can use your Kindle just as it was designed to be used. BTW, this also works for the Nook!
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1 - Prolog of the Mr. Kitten Murder Mystery


"Never, never, never surrender!"

"Would you like to come out, Winston Churchill?" Captain Peacock asked. "Fly around free for a while?"

"Freedom," the bird said as the Captain opened the large cage. "All great things are simple, and many can be expressed in single words: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope."

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Story Story: The Green Meal

The Green Meal

"Come on. Mom, it was only a meal at McDonald's."

Edward's mother gritted her teeth as she polished the stainless steel kitchen appliances. "I can't believe you would put that garbage into your body."

"But Mom, the other kids were eating them, so I wanted to try--"

"The other kids? The other kids?" She threw her microfiber towel onto the granite countertop. "Who cares what other kids do? We are different, we are superior. A Happy Meal, how could you? You know our dietary restrictions."
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Crop Circles

"Doesn't everyone know crop circles are fake?"

"Nah," his friend replied, throwing him the end of a long rope. He pulled it taunt, then went in a slow circle, tamping down the wheat in the farmer's pristine field. "People know that some of them are fake, but they believe other ones are really made by aliens."

"This is gonna be so funny." Unearthly giggles echoed through the dark night.

Consulting plans laid out the night before, and carefully guided with a compass, the two made a huge, intricate design.

Then Xkjj82 and Cluuth.001 slithered into their spaceship and went home. Pin It Now!

Essential Guide to iPad cases

Essential Guide to iPad cases

You've got the hottest toy, a new iPad. Now you need a case to protect its fragile beauty. Let me help you choose the perfect one.

There are three basic types of cases.


A folio protects the iPad and lets you handle it somewhat like a book.

What to look for: Make sure the case covers and protects all edges of the iPad. Decide whether you want a pocket (for a cleaning cloth or paper) and whether you need a holder for your stylus. Some folios are specially designed to function as stands; that might not be as important as it sounds since any folio can be propped up as a stand. Here are some examples along with pros and cons.
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Chapter One- The Mr. Kitten Murder Mystery

I'm trying to write my first book and I'm majorly dealing with writer's block. I know I can write a good short story, but a whole's intimidating.

But, as they say, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single cliche, so here's my beginning. I promised myself last night (at 3 am, suffering from insomnia and indigestion) that I'd simply write the book as a short story and then, later, fill in as needed to make it a novel. I promised myself I would begin today and that it didn't have to be good, it just had to be written. So, here 'tis. A beginning:

Madeleine came in to the morning room unwrapping an expensive box of chocolates. The Captain looked up as she smilingly set the box on the sideboard. He lifted his eyebrows and drew his unlit pipe out of his mouth. He looked at her interogatively. He'd never known her to do such domestic things as putting out treats for the other inhabitants of the mansion, but she was a mercurial creature.

"Just a little treat, would you like one, Captain?"

"It's a bit early for chocolates," he said, looking out the window to at the late morning sun sparkling through the manicured grounds.

Madeleine put out a manicured hand as if to take a chocolate, and then suddenly pulled her hand back. The Captain's eyebrows, which had fallen to normal position, rised again. Madeleine, thirty-years-old, trendy, thin and a would-be celebutante, never ate chocolate. He was surpised she'd even considered one.

"Well, maybe later," she said. Then she flounced out of the room, leaving the open box of chocolates on the sideboard.

The Captain got out of his Windsor chair, intending to put the chocolates away, but he was distracted by a voice telling him to never, never, never surrender.

The Captain walked over to the large bird cage. "Would you like to come out, Winston Churchill?" he asked the parrot there.

"We will fight for freedom on the beaches, in the mountains, etc," the bird replied.

The Captain laughed and opened the cage. "Polly want a cracker?" Winston half-hopped, half flew out of the cage, stretching his great grey wings and fluttering about the room. The Captain watched him fondly and went back to his chair. "Don't make a mess, now Winston. I'm not supposed to let you out of your cage in here. I don't want to get in trouble with Helen," he said, refering to his niece Helen, the lady of the house.

"Courage is the first of human qualities because it is the quality that guarantees all the others, " Winston replied. The Captain picked up his newspaper again, and sucked on his pipe.

After a few minutes, he took notice of the bird again. "Polly want a cracker?" The Captain offered him some suet cake. "Winston want a cracker?" he asked. Winston ignored him.

The Captain shrugged, got up and walked to the sideboard. "You know how Helen is about chocolates," he confided to the bird. Helen was slightly overweight and constantly obsessing over her weight. She was also addicted to sugar. "I wonder if Mad brought these in just to get Helen's reaction." He looked around, no one was in the room. He looked down at the box, one of the chocolates was gone. He frowned at the bird. "Winston want a chocolate?"

The bird flew to the window sill and stood with his head tilted to the left. "A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject."

The Captain tucked the chocolates into a sideboard drawar and forgot about them.

*** Pin It Now!

100-word short story: Bulb

The Bulb

Darkness, then a click. A high-pitched whine starts at the edge of my hearing as the dim orange light seeps down from the ceiling. Dim disorientation. Two flickers -- out of sync -- pulsc overhead, then brilliance flashes through the hall. But the glare remains steady, like the moment captured in a flashbulb, but prolonged unbearably, unimaginably, a ghastly, glaring yellow-green like the light yawning from a cold, antiseptic, artificial vision of hell. The high-pitched whine burns its way into my consciousness, endless, unchanging, implacable, erasing all thought, all hope.

These new compact fluorescent bulbs are going back to Amazon. Pin It Now!

With This Ring I Thee Wed

With This Ring, I Thee Wed

by Christina Hugh

"Don't cry, for heaven's sake. You'll ruin your makeup!"

Caitlin couldn't help herself. "This is supposed to be the happiest day of my life. I can't believe this!" She held a tissue to her eyes.

Her mother smoothed her hair and kissed her forehead. "You look beautiful. And this *is* the happiest day of your life. The gardeners will start looking for the ring right after the ceremony. They'll rent some metal detectors if they need to. Anyway, you know Rob couldn't have put that ring on your finger; it needed to be sized."

Caitlin looked down at her thin hands. "If we can just get the ring past my knuckle, it'll be fine. Of course, I won't be able to take it off anymore, but I won't want to anyway." Caitlin hugged her mom. "Oh well, I guess the real ring ceremony will be at the bathroom sink with a bar of soap. But poor Tommy. He must feel terrible about losing it. I shouldn't have had a four-year-old be the ring bearer. What's wrong with me?"
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The first victim from A Mr. Kitten Murder Mystery speaks....

I'm Winston Churchill the parrot. You've probably never heard a parrot, unless you've heard one of us "in person". So to speak. On TV and radio and so forth, they always have a human voice actor do the parrot voice, so that it'll sound more like what people expect. Our actual voices sound exactly human. Or exactly whatever. I can also do a mean imitation of the microwave and the smoke detector. That's why they don't keep me in the kitchen anymore. I can do the doorbell, too, and the telephone, police sirens, the works. I'm a pretty fun companion, especially in the middle of the night.

Today I'm hanging out in the conservatory, out of my cage. Madeleine--who pretends to like me, but doesn't--has brought in a box of chocolates. She probably wants to tempt Helen, the poor dear; chocolate is her only vice. Madeleine, however, to quote my namesake, has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire. Good. Helen steps out of the room without noticing the chocolates; it's just me and the Captain here now. I decide to help her by helping myself.

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The Mr. Kitten Murder Mystery back-cover

First, our crazy parrot dies and I'm blamed just because I'm a cat and I've got a few feathers in my mouth. Next, the family lawyer drops dead during dinner. At least I'm not blamed for that, but I start to get suspicious. When someone drops a safe on my owner's head, and she's only saved because she slips on a well-placed hairball left by yours truly, I decide I need to catch a killer on the loose. Pin It Now!

Sparkle Threw Us Together

Sparkle Threw Us Together

by Christina Hugh

Caitlin Foster was worried; her cat Sparkle hadn’t eaten in the last two days. She’d read in a book that baby food would always tempt a cat with a poor appetite, so she ducked into the grocery store on her way home from her new job.

She didn’t recognize anyone in the store. Were there really that many new people in town? The store had been remodeled and expanded, like much of the town. Caitlin had been away for ten years, ever since her high school graduation. All the newness made her uncomfortable, but she loved the little town and she loved her new job as the town newspaper’s editor. Even though she’d come home, she felt like she was starting over.
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Desert Pursuit

Desert Pursuit

by Chris Hugh

The little butterball lawyer whimpered and I laughed. I had her arms behind her back, in a painful lock that made her stand on the tips of her overpriced shoes to keep from dislocating her shoulder.

"You got her?" Poppy called. Was he kidding? I smiled and made the lawyer whimper again. She'd done a bit too much investigating at her law firm, uncovered some shady dealings. It seemed like she was gonna go to the cops. It was a career limiting move.

"I think so. You guys go ahead and take off. I'll meet you later."

"Don't lose your keys out there, man. You could die."
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The Trouble with Dilithium Crystals: A Star Trek TOS Parody

The Trouble with Dilithium Crystals: A Star Trek TOS Parody

by Chris Hugh

Lt. Uhura’s calm, precise voice sounded over the ship’s speakers. "Captain Kirk, Doctor McCoy, Mr. Spock and Ensign Spinkmeyer to the transporter room please. I repeat, Captain Kirk, Doctor McCoy, Mr. Spock and Ensign Spinkmeyer to the transporter room for landing party duty, please."

Ensign Spinkmeyer brushed down his red shirt, put his affairs in order and left his cabin. Four men beamed down to the planet surface.

* * *
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A Star Trek TOS Parody: The Redshirt Survives

The Redshirt Survives: A Star Trek TOS Parody

by Chris Hugh

At 1200 hours, Ensign Mwangi stood staring at the purple uniforms he'd just pulled out of the ship's Exothermic Dihydrous Oxide Ventilator.

Security officer Lieutenant Leslie happened by, as he so often did. He tsked sympathetically. "You put one red garment in the wash with whites, and the next thing you know, the whole load is pink. Or in your case, it turned your blue shirts purple. It's no big deal." Leslie chuckled a little, then paused. A devious look flashed across his clean cut, masculine face. "Here you go," he said and slapped a single unmarked button on the grey bulkhead. A panel immediately opened, revealing a stack of shirts in Mwangi's size. Lt. Leslie gave Mwangi a sidelong glance and slowly started to walk away.

"But, but these are red shirts," Mwangi said.
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100-Word Story: Sue Buys Vitamins

My assignment was to write a story where a character finds meaning in his or her life. I wanted to make this sweet and meaningful, but it turned out as just about the coldest thing I've ever written.

Sue Buys Vitamins

Sue shut her books. She wanted to study for a promotion at work, but just couldn't get motivated. Lonely and depressed, she went to the drug store and bought cigarettes, candy, a movie, Jack Daniels and something to answer a question that had been bothering her for the last few days.

When she got home, she went into to the bathroom with one of her purchases.

When she got out, everything had changed. She gathered all her remaining purchases and set out her study books again before going back to the drugstore.

She returned her purchases and bought prenatal vitamins.

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Drabble: American Soccer Saves the World

The order came over Hyperspace Channel 1: destroy Earth.

"With pleasure," Commander Xlutu8 replied. As soon as the World Cup match ended, he’d press the button and obliterate the planet. He watched the monitor...just a few seconds now...almost...No! A fumble! Holy Zarquon!

Xlutu8 slammed his pseudopod against the control panel, unaware he had just jettisoned all his craft’s fuel. Still cursing the players, he slammed back into his chair, accidentally ejecting himself into space. He froze before he had time to asphyxiate.

Earth was safe.

The soccer team had lost the match, but saved the world.

The Americans, of course. Pin It Now!

Story: The Good Husband

The Good Husband

by Christina Hugh

She looked deeply into her husband's eyes. They’d had a big fight, but they’d reached a turning point. Peace had reigned for two weeks, three days, five hours and thirteen minutes.

Maybe she'd been harsh, but PMS was like that. She wasn't responsible for her actions. Anyway, everything was better now.

Did his eyes hold a look of reproach? She fisted her hands and narrowed her eyes. She twisted up her mouth and a bitter word almost escaped, but then she took a deep breath. Relaxed. She smiled indulgently, even blew him a kiss. It was just her imagination. No need to ruin a beautiful moment.

Some people might disagree with the measures she'd taken --even argue that her behavior was unfeminine--but no one could disagree that those measures were effective.

Of course, there was give and take, push and pull, no free lunch. On the one hand, things were peaceful and happy. On the other, he wasn’t quite as handsome these last couple weeks, and she didn't like the way he never looked her straight in the eye anymore.

She swirled the jar, but his eyes just got more loopy.

Oh well.

She put them back in the cabinet. Pin It Now!

66-Word Story: "Trading Dreams"

Trading Dreams
by Christina Hugh

The woman smiled in her sleep as the cat nuzzled her. Forehead-to-forehead with the silken beast, she dreamed of running free. A stunning pursuit—-then sudden victory!-—her enemy staggering back, dripping from the ragged slashes on his face. She gloated and licked the blood from her claws.

The clock ticked.
Mr. Kitten dreamed he went to his final exams naked.

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The Legend of Blondhilda Story V:

Mr. Kitten in Valhalla
by Chris Hugh

Oroka thumped her elbow on her desk, propped her head on her hand, turned to her best friend Nakama and announced, "I'm bored."

Suddenly a Ninja burst into the classroom. The girls turned toward him sleepily as he waved his single-edge curved katana sword in a fiery blur. Oroka and Nakama rolled their eyes and Nakama smacked her gum. After a few seconds she caught Oroka's eye and used her chin to point at the Ninja, who was poised to behead Oroka's boyfriend, Taikutsu. With a sigh, Oroka used her fingernail to flick one of her magical sushi-shaped pencil erasers at the intruder. As soon as it touched him, he turned into a cute, plush toy and ran out of the room screaming something about hara-kiri.

The two girls giggled. "So, why are you bored?" Nakama asked as Oroka dispatched the next two Ninjas with a rubber Ebi and Tekka Maki.

"I don't want to be a magical Manga girlfriend anymore," Oroka whispered, looking sidelong at her boyfriend, Taikutsu, who was surreptitiously cleaning the puddle under his desk.

She gathered up her pet, Mr. Kitten, as he walked in carrying a small, black, vaguely pineapple-shaped object he'd stolen from somewhere. An evil-looking man in camouflage jumped into the classroom with a vicious look on his face. He snorted smugly, uttered a threat and reached for his belt. Then he patted around and looked down. He blinked a few times, muttered an apology for the intrusion and backed out of the room. Oroka hugged Mr. Kitten and slid the grenade into her pink plaid backpack.

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Drabble: "Is Reproduction Romantic?"

Is Reproduction Romantic?

by Chris Hugh

"Isn't it romantic? Soon we'll have a fresh crop of little ones!"

Kendrick snorted and looked at the line of citizens behind them. "Reality TV and soap operas have infected every corner of the galaxy, haven't they? There's nothing the least bit romantic about reproduction."

"But we have to increase our population."

"Of course," Kendrick agreed. He looked forward. "Your turn."

When it his turn came, six-foot-four Kendrick slid into the reproduction chamber. After a decent interval, Ken and Rick, both three-feet-two inches long, slid out. They nodded primly and went their separate ways.
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Drabble: New Moan: A Twilight Parody

New Moan: A Twilight Parody

By Christina Hugh

"I don't know," Bella said. "I mean, we're so different."

"You've dated vampires and werewolves," the 3000-year-old Egyptian mummy replied. "What's wrong with me?"

"Well, aren't our religions different?"

The mummy stood wrapped in thought. Then he stretched out his arms and put his hands on her shoulders. "I worship the Sun God, Ra."

"Really?" Bella brightened. "I worship the Son of God too. Rah! Cool, we're both Mormons!" Bella bit her lip. "But I thought you were Muslim."

The mummy moaned. "No, Bella," he said. "I'm not Muslim. I'm wrapped in muslin."

Bella chuckled. They went to a movie. Pin It Now!

Victorian vs. Flapper Posture

As a followup to the Posture article, here are some more pictures. If you use Google Images, you can find occassional pictures of Victorian women slouching and Flappers standing straight, especially when you look at family pictures. However, the art and illustrations of the era show the ideals from thos eras, so that's what I've included here. Click here to read the original article "I'll Tell You What is Causing Pain for Almost Everyone in the Western World."
Victorian Era - examples of upright posture

jules bastien-lepage: portrait of sarah bernhardt

Flapper fashions

Judge magazine 1927
Happy Arbor Day!
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The Legend of Blondhilda Story VI: Evil Appliances and the Three Fridges of Fate

Evil Appliances and the Three Fridges of Fate

by Chris Hugh

"Fire!" someone shouted and the word echoed in Oroka's sleeping mind.

Not fire, she thought in her dream. Darkness. Suffocation. All her precautions had failed her, just as she knew they would. She groaned in her sleep. The dream was terrifyingly real: she was stuffed in a refrigerator, like so many female comic heroines before her. She'd known this would be her destiny the moment she lost her powers. That was the day she stopped being a Manga Magical Girlfriend and became a Disposable Romantic Interest.

"Fire!" the voice cried again. Oroka's dream shifted. Was she at the gun range? She spent hours there every week, honing her skills in a hopeless effort to escape her fate. Or did she have heartburn? All the takeout meals took their toll. She hadn't set foot in the kitchen, not once since she and her boyfriend moved to the United States.

Something landed on the bed next to Oroka and broke the dream. She smiled in her sleep. It was Mr. Kitten, her magical cat. Then she frowned as she began to wake up. No, it couldn't be. Taikutsu had insisted they leave the cat behind in Japan. Now he worked as a robotics scientist on a top-secret project, and she spent her days alone, trying to survive.
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Exercise: Blondhilda and Hello Sailor Disagree

The writing assignment was: write a story about two characters who are faced with the same challenge and who have different approaches to responding to it. I called on my characters of Blondhilda and Hello Sailor, and here it is.
Blondhilda and Hello Sailor Disagree

"The injustice of it!" Blondhilda cried. "I cannot abide it!" She stood up from the recliner and shook out her sheet of pale golden hair. A glowing light suffused the room and she held her sword high.

"Stop, Blondhilda," Hello Sailor said, hopping up from her own recliner. An inexplicable breeze tossed back her hair and ruffled her miniskirt. "We cannot directly interfere with the affairs of mortals. We must let them find their own way."
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Article: I'll Tell You What is Causing Pain for Almost Everyone in the Western World

Manual LaborerIf you're one of the millions of knowledge workers slaving away in your cubicle all day, you deserve to work pain free. This article will help you on your way.

Muscles Get Tired, Bones Don't.

There are two ways human beings can hold themselves. You can slouch, using the large muscles to hold yourself into something that approximates an upright posture. This is what nearly everyone over the age of four in the Western World does. This posture became popular among flappers in the 1920's and became an enduring fashion. Unfortunately, it compresses the lungs and causes muscles and tendons to work constantly and in a way they weren't designed to. This causes pain and injury.
The other way to sit or stand upright is to balance on your bones. You balance your head on top of your neck and your shoulders over your hips. In this posture, you do not use your muscles to hold yourself up; you merely use them to make slight balance adjustments.

Good posture
All children under the age of four use an upright posture. Because their heads are so large in relation to their bodies, they physically do not have the strength to slouch; they have to balance upright. The upright posture is the natural human posture. The Masai, many people in so-called primitive cultures, gymnasts (but only when they're actually doing exercises) and anyone who carries rocks on their heads for a living, have an upright posture. Do a Google image search to see examples of good posture. It's important to look at good examples of posture; we're very influenced by other humans and tend to copy them unconsciously.

How to Stand Straight
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The Legend of Blondhilda Story IV: Bondhilda and the Escape from the Insane Asylum

Blondhilda and the Escape from the Insane Asylum

by Chris Hugh

The Norse goddess looked down at Stan fondly, her great bosom heaving in happiness.

"Now we can be together forever, my Stanley!"

Stanley Chester Brown, fabulously successful graphic novel author and former lawyer, proudly stood on his tiptoes. He kissed Blondhilda's gorgeous lips and the entire Hall of Valhalla erupted into applause. Shields clash, swords rattled, goblets clinked (and were quickly drained), and many mighty fighting men and mighty fighting wenches yelled "Aooga!"
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The Legend of Blondhilda Story III: Blondhilda and the Mystery at Skull Manor

Blondhilda and the Mystery at Skull Manor

by Chris Hugh

Stanley Chester Brown, world-famous graphics novel artist and newly-wed husband of the Norse Goddess Blondhilda, adjusted his thick glasses and peered down the steep stairs. A large crumpled form lay there. Stan had been awakened by the sound of running feet followed by the boom of a shotgun. Now the head of the stairs was splintered by a shotgun blast and a dead man lay at its foot.

Stan and Blondhilda had booked two weeks at an abandoned manor house on a deserted island. The vacation was a gift from Loki, the Norse god of mischief. The honeymoon had started out pleasantly. The accommodations were lovely and the combination gardener, cook and butler had been exemplary. Unfortunately he was also an amateur photographer. When Blondhilda found certain candid honeymoon videos floating around on YouTube, she'd discovered the multi-talented man was the shape shifter Loki. She kicked Loki off the island, literally.

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Drabble: "Alien vs. Predator: A Twit-light Parody"

Alien vs. Predator: A Twilight Parody
By Chris Hugh

Hi, I'm Bella, with the accent on the second syllable, so it sounds like "blah." I just moved to Oregon from Arizona.

Edward's so handsome, with his dreadlocks and the way he chuckles through his criss-cross mandibles.

I think I'll make him jealous. Jacob skitters by, his reticulated inner skull extending from his outer skull as he drips caustic acid. "Jacob makes my chest flutter."

"Why? Did he insert a pod down your throat?"

We chuckle; I bite my lip. Jacob overhears. "I knew you'd be prejudiced against aliens. Stupid Arizonan."

And here's a link to an even funnier Twit-light parody that I did not write. Pin It Now!

Sketch: Helen's Downfall

Here I'm trying out a voice for Mr. Kitten, the narrator of my Mr. Kitten Murder Mystery. I think this voice would be a bit much for an entire book, but here's a little story anyway.

Helen's Downfall

Helen's a well-rounded person, but means not to be, which is why she avoids chocolate at all times she is not actively consuming it. Of course, she can do as she wishes nowadays, what with the terms of Grandpa Calvin's will being so, dare I use the word, heavily in her favor. She spends at least one month a year at an exclusive fat farm in South Carolina, saving up, as it were, for the rest of the year and relieving the local carpenters the burden of having to widen the doors. Thus she stands in pleasingly broad contrast to her cousin Madeleine who haunts the halls in a continual state of self-imposed starvation, disappears when she turns sideways and possesses a body so weakened with deprivation rumor has it she was once injured by a falling leaf.
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Duelling Stories: Kathlee Gets a Letter

Kathlee is a creation of my writing partner, Anchorite. She's a combination of various vapid pop music stars. Here's a slice from her life by Anchorite (posted with his permission)....and my response.

Kathlee Gets a Letter
by Anchorite

Kathlee’s night went like all others: staying out until seven in the morning drinking and dancing with her entourage. Such was the life of the superstar musician with her finger on the pulse of pop culture and three platinum albums under her belt, when the average indie band struggled to move a hundred thousand copies. She slept in until three in the afternoon and after taking a chug of her patented hangover cure, which in her opinion was a better discovery than her brand of energy drinks, Kathlee went to check the mail. She was surprised by one letter from MIT addressed to her real name Kathleen Lee, which no one used outside of the police and the IRS.

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Story 1: The Birth of Blondhilda

The Birth of Blondhilda
by Chris Hugh

Blondhilda jumped from the pages of the graphic novel storyboard. Literally.

Stanley Chester Brown, author and illustrator of the fantastically successful Blondhilda series, scooted back in his Aeron drawing chair until he bumped his head against his wall of vintage Star Wars posters. He looked up at Blondhilda through heavy glasses that now hung from one ear.

Stan stared at Blondhilda, shaking. She towered over him in her high-heeled thigh-high Viking warrior boots. Her feet were planted shoulder width apart, her arms on her hips. The architectural-inspired designer lighting glinted off her scanty armor. An icy wind roared through Stan's work studio, scattering papers onto the gleaming hardwood floors, rushing dramatically through Blondhilda's flaxen hair and tossing Stan's comb-over onto the entirely wrong side of his head.

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drabble: "Ting-Ting the Sacred Cat"

My writing buddy sent me a vivid little drabble where a certain Pope Holt Su Van Hian killed a cat named Ting Ting. Here is my response.


Ting Ting the Sacred Cat

"Watch Ting-Ting, Excellency!"

Pope Hian didn't, and thus tripped on the sacred cat and fell down the stairs. His realistic pompadour flew off as his head struck the railing. Panicked, he stuck out his arm to catch himself, but it caught between two of the banister's vertical supports. A crack echoed as a damasked-covered bone snapped. Prone, feet pointed downward, the Pope slid down the remainder of the stairway, friction causing his elaborate costume to ride up, exposing his bare backside to the assembled Court and also causing certain damage insuring he would produce no further hereditary heirs.

Everyone laughed.

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Drabble: "Quitting the Game"

The challenge here was to take the first couple sentences which my friend provided and then tack a story onto the end. For once, this drabble is not cat-related!

Quitting the Game
by Chris Hugh

I was quitting the game. After all the years I'd played it for them, I was finally getting out, leaving it, the booze, the bimbos, the smoky too-bright rooms smelling of desire and desperation.

I took a practice swing with my Louisville Slugger, then tossed it aside. This time tomorrow I'd be on a beach in Mexico. No one would find me. I was leaving everything behind me but the money.

I looked at the deadbeat gambler groveling on the floor. "Let him up, boys." He'd pissed himself. I laughed. "I'm retiring tonight, buddy. You get to keep your kneecaps."
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Drabble: "Race Against Time"

My challenge was "write a story entitled 'Race Against Time.'" Here it is; it's a retelling of a true story I read in a cat anthology. I can't remember the name of the original piece. [I found it. "The Conscientious Cat" by Agnes A. Sandham in Cat Encounters: A Cat-Lover's Anthology, 1979.]

Race Against Time
by Chris Hugh

As the Victorian author arrived at the coal mine she was shocked to see a black cat streak out of the opening followed by a group of miners. "Why are you chasing that cat?" she demanded. The men just laughed.
One of them finally caught his breath and tipped his hat to her. "We use hydraulic equipment to do the mining here ma'am," he explained. "But after a while the wall collapses. This here cat likes to perch on the machine. He can tell when the wall's about to give way and runs off. We follow him!"

The cat preened.
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Drabble: "I Meant to Do That"

I Meant to Do That
by Chris Hugh

The new desk fascinated me. All new things fascinate me. I need to sit in them as soon as possible, rub my nose against them and, if the woman's not looking, scratch them. I hid around a corner until the coast was clear and then I ran. Ran, ran, ran, streaked through the house like a black bolt of lightning, showing off, jumped on the desk and, um, slid across its treacherously polished surface, got splatted like Wile E. Coyote into a nearly wall and then slipped to the carpet in slow motion.

Don't laugh. I meant to do that.
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Announcement: "A Wife's Revenge" is in Flashshot!

"A Wife's Revenge" is in Flashshot today. It's a great site with lots of bite-sized 100-word stories. Check it out! Pin It Now!

Story: The Lost Country of Freeland

The Lost Country of Freeland

The woman drew her shawl 'round her head and gathered her children to her. "I'm going to tell you a story," she whispered. "A story about the most wonderful place that ever was. Come close now, and be very quiet so no one will hear us. I will tell you the story of Freeland."

Once upon a time, there was a country called Freeland. It was a beautiful country. It had mountains and deserts, plains and forests. It was a very, very large country with two ocean coasts. Far to the north, part of Freeland was in the Arctic Circle. Way off to the west, part of Freeland was in the Tropics. Not only was the country vast and varied, but so were its people. People from all over the world had come to live in Freeland

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Duelling Stories - Anchorite vs. Chris Hugh!!!

Part 1: The Apricot Princess
by Anchorite

The Apricot Kingdom was known all around the world for its fruits, most of all for the delicious and juicy apricots that gave the land its name. The wise old king watered every tree in the orchard and picked every apricot himself at harvest time. He collected baskets full of apricots to hand out to the poor and hungry all across the kingdom at the Harvest Festival. It was a tradition to show how much the king cared for his people, and the people in turn loved their kind and generous ruler.

The King decided this year that his daughter the Apricot Princess was old enough to carry on the tradition like a proper, responsible adult. He tasked her with watering the trees, pulling weeds, shooing away bugs, and finally collecting the apricots for the Harvest Festival. The Princess cried and pouted in protest, but she wanted to be Queen someday so she had to do her duty even if it was too much hard, boring work under the long sun.
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Story: Pastor Terry Jones

The Pastor of Freeland

Once upon a time, Abe, Ben, Cindy and Darla lived in the country of Freeland. They were all very happy because they were free. They were free because a lot of people lived and fought and died for their freedom.

One day, evil people from another country attacked Freeland in one cowardly, insane, devastating bloody blow that shocked the entire world. The people of Freeland were supremely pissed and bombed the shit out of two fairly random Middle Eastern countries for the next ten years. It was a measured response, all things considered.
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"With This Ring I Thee Wed" to be published

Long and the Short Reviews has very kindly accepted my followup to "Sparkle Threw Us Together."  Caitlin and Rob fell in love in the first story. In the second story they're getting married--but loss and disappointment almost mar the ceremony. Will a stray cat step in to save the day? Read all about it on October 14! (This link will work on October 14-20.) In the meantime, read the terrific story that's at that link right now! I just flipped over to that site to get the link, took one look at the story and couldn't stop reading. It's absolutely charming. I'm literally misty-eyed thinking that my little story will be in such fine company.
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Drabble: Addiction


Addiction. Ad-dic-tion. What does it mean? What do the sounds mean? Nothing. The German word is better: suchtig. Suchen means "to seek." I'm an addict. I'm suchtig, always seeking. Always seeking my next fix. It's the only interesting thing in my world.

Do addicts have a hierarchy? Do smokers have contempt for hypes? Do crackheads consider alchoholics hopelessly old-fashioned? They probably all look down on the biggest group of addicts: sugar addicts. Yeah, I made a pun.

We're the same, though. Feeding our addiction is all that matters. I could quit, but then I wouldn't have any reason to live.

* * *

By the way, I'm not really an addict. (Mom!) I'm just a writer who's listened to Alkohol by Eisbrecher too many times today. Ich bin süchtig nach Eisbrecher!

Oh, btw, the lyrics for the Eisbrecher album "Die Hoelle Muss Warten" are here. Eisbrecher Die Hoelle Muss Warten English Translations Pin It Now!

Story: "Quitting the Game"

Not From Here has very kindly selected "Quitting the Game" for inclusion in their Dog Days of Summer Chapbook. I'm excited! Thank you, Michael J. Solender. I'm honored to have my little story included among the works of such talented writers. My story is on page 31 of the Chapbook. Pin It Now!

Story: Heat Wave

Heat Wave
by Chris Hugh

It was hot today for the tenth day in a row. Hot and dry and I had to walk home from work again. It's still hot now, even though the sun is coming down and shining sideways through the leaves outside and lighting up all the gray dust on my computer screen. I'm glad my room has air conditioning. Electricity's expensive, but I don't care. I've got it going full blast.
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Drabble: I Wished for Snow on My Birthday

Tonight's assignment was 'write a story about this: I wished for snow on my birthday.'

I could have gone a lot of directions with this. My writing buddy and I both live in California, so I was thinking about exploring the folly of wishing for things that: 1) you can't control; 2) aren't going to happen; 3) really aren't that great anyway.

However, I inspired by this one autumn night I jumped into an unheated pool. I thought I was gonna die and it felt really, really lonely like I was all alone in the universe with the black sky overhead and my heart going still. And, since I'm obsessed with this band called Eisbrecher, I decided to shove an icebreaker ship at the North Pole into the story.

Sorry Eisbrecher dudes, I would have mentioned the German scientific research vessel Polarstern, 'cause I know you're into it, but that's a lot of words and this is a drabble.

If you wanna see the lyrics to the new Eisbrecher Die Hölle Muss Warten along with my translations from German to English, click here

Okay, deep breath, ignore the LOLcat above and get ready for gloooom......

I Wished for Snow on My Birthday

I'm in the Arctic Circle and the world is upside down. The ocean is inky black like a midnight sky and perfect white icebergs float in it like clouds. The sky is gray.

Now we're at ninety degrees latitude, the North Pole, and a white world arcs below. The icebreaker ship heaves its bulk onto the ice and its tremendous weight cracks it and reveals the sea. Behind us trails a black road.

I jump. The sudden cold clutches my heart. I'm alone at the top of the world in the vastness of time and space.

The universe is black.
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"The Good Wife" published on In Between Altered States

In Between Altered State's new online issue is available. Click here to read my creepy little story "The Good Wife."

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Heather Goes Straight

My writing buddy and I generally trade one story a day. He often writes elegantly and with great insight on lesbian relationships. He wrote a nice story where Claire and Heather sneak off to a hotel. Heather is hiding her lifestyle from the other lawyers at her firm; their relationship is quite moving and beautiful which of course inspired me to write a story to ruin their day. Hehe. I hope people will enjoy it in the evil, sarcastic spirit in which it was written. If you find yourself getting upset, don't forget the way I skewered Ann Coulter in The Bride of Frankenstein Dances with Celebrity. Here I'm trying to offend the other end of the political spectrum.

If you're familiar with Blondhilda, see if you can spot her. She's going under a different name here...

Heather Goes Straight

"Well, wasn't that interesting." Eve absently tapped her ornate letter opener against the table. Rainbow Gorilla, the radical gay group, headed by Heather's vindictive ex-girlfriend, had just outed Heather in the middle of a legal conference and thrown banana-cream pies at all the senior partners, including Eve. Eve had used karate to deflect the pie, then had single-handedly overpowered all the protestors and held them for police. She smoothed her flaxen hair and surveyed the male partners who had only just stopped gibbering in the corner.

"I guess my career is over," Heather mumbled.

Eve stared at her with glacial eyes until Heather quailed. "What do you mean by that?" Eve asked softly.
She owed that woman an apology. Heather knew that now and she also knew she did not currently have the strength of character to offer one. She considered returning to the hotel room she was sharing with her girlfriend Claire and winced with disgust. An honest yearning, long denied, stirred in her. She went to a bar near the military base and found herself a man for the night.

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More acceptances

"Deathhouse Mansion Inc." will appear in DarkFire's Halloween issue.

And my punny little drabble called "Curses! Foiled Again!" will be published in a certain chapbook on September 1, 2010. I'm supposed to keep it secret until then.... Pin It Now!

Short story: Aron and Claire Play

Here's a short story featuring two of my writing buddy's characters. Aron is a stuck-up rather racist prince in one book, and Claire is a lesbian heroine in another. Here they cross worlds to play a video game together and do a little math.

But first, on a completely different note, did I ever mention that I was in a house fire in April? Yeah, it was loads of fun. I wrote a story about it featuring Oroka, a Manga character who's afraid of being locked in the refrigerator. That's a stab at the assinine tendency of some authors to create a female and then kill her and lock her in a fridge as a cheap plot device. I want to sell the story before I post it, but here's an excerpt:

"Come on, Oroka" Nakama said consolingly. "Don’t be afraid. No one’s going to lock us in your refrigerator. I noticed it’s a Maytag," she said with false cheer. "Your kitchen is probably just on fire." 1.6 millions Maytag refrigerators were the subject of a recall due to fire hazard. Oroka relaxed a bit. "Maybe it’s even not that," Nakama continued. "Maybe it’s your Maytag dishwasher." 1.7 million Maytag dishwashers were subject to a separate recall, again due to their propensity to catch fire in the middle of the night. Oroka wavered.

Anyway, house fire. The smoke alarm never went off. It was pretty exciting. If my brother hadn't happened to be awake preparing for work when the fridge caught fire at 5 am, we'd probably all be dead. Thank you, Maytag. Thank you, whoever manufactured the smoke alarm. Here's an article on how to select a smoke detector that might possibly do its job: LINK

Oh yeah, later that month I walked into my kitchen to find my Maytag dishwasher had been stuck on the dry cycle for about six hours. Isn't that great? And now back to our regularly-scheduled post:

Aron and Claire Play

"Baser, I'm going to kick your--"

Aron squaled when Claire kicked his shin, then they both concentrated on the game, Aron smug that he could beat any Asian at a driving game, Claire focused on the task at hand.

Aron could have kicked himself when drove his souped-up cyber Civic into the grocery store. Claire crowed and won with a new high score.

"I can't believe it!" Aron screamed. "Here I am in my ninth year of live and I can't beat my inferiors!"

"I didn't know you were eight years old," Claire said.

"I'm nine, like you, stupid," Aron said.

Claire looked at him coldly. "When you were just born, were you starting your first year of life?"

"Of course, moron."

"And how old were you when you were just born?" Claire asked. Aron stared at her. "Zero. So, when had your first birthday, you were starting your second year of life. So after your eigth birthday, um, when you turned eight"-- she looked at him like he was a mentally deficient bug—"you were starting your ninth year. So if you're nine years old, you're working on your tenth year of complete stupidity. Congratulations."

She walked away. "Learn to count, then learn to drive," she said over her shoulder.

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Sparkle Threw Us Together

My story is now available on The Long and Short Review. Learn how cat barf can bring two lost lovers together.

Don't you think this is the cutest little graphic they made for my story? I love it! Pin It Now!

Short story: Blondhilda Saves SCB

Here's Blondhilda, the graphic novel warrior goddess-turn real goddess saving her creator, artist and author Stanley Chester Brown.

Blondhilda and the Hydra

Blondhilda and the Hydra

"Look, I don't know," the woman's voice said. "The car started, okay? I don't need a jump anymore. Just get him into your car and go!"

Blondhilda gunned the engine and the powerful motorcycle surged. The hostage was out in the open desert, just over the rise ahead, his cellphone transmitting his kidnappers' conversation through Blondhilda's headset.

"Alright—get in here, you," a male voice said. Blondhilda heard a door slam. "What are you waiting for?" the same voice shouted, seemingly to the other driver. "Go!" Blondhilda came over the ridge and spotted the cars. A yellow sedan on the left and a red on the right, so close they almost touched. Each suddenly accelerated in opposite directions.

Blondhilda had to choose which one to follow.

"What the--" the male voice said. "You've got a cellphone!" There was the sound of a sharp blow and a yelp of pain. The phone bounced off the floor. "You think I can't shoot you and drive at the same time?" Feedback stung Blondhilda's ear as an explosion came through. The man cursed. "As soon as I get this gun unjammed, I'm blowing your head off." More curses and muffled thumps; then the phone went dead. In seconds Stanley Chester Brown would be dead too.

Blondhilda expertly twitched her machine to the left and gained on the yellow car.

* * *

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