Free Stories by Hobnob Authors 2017

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Free Stories by Hobnob Authors 2017

1TimSharrock
Editado: Dic 30, 2016, 10:08am

This is a continuation of Free Stories by Hobnob Authors

This is another list similar to List of Books by Hobnob Authors,but will probably be a bit shorter. It's for listing stories that the authors here have made available for free, as a sample of their work.

LShelby's criteria were

  • Please do not include short term special offers.
  • Please do not list sample chapters: complete stories only.
  • No more than three entries.

As there were not huge numbers of stories in the old thread, perhaps we should include sample chapters - but please be very clear if that is the case!

Reply to this post with the name of story, story length, genres, a url where the story can be obtained, and whether it is available as an ebook, or to be read online.

As usual, if you were included in the old thread, and the details are unchanged, just let me know and I will copy them forward.

2TimSharrock
Dic 30, 2016, 10:09am

Complete Short Stories
...

3TimSharrock
Dic 30, 2016, 10:09am

Sample Chapters
...

4Ted_Weber
Mar 3, 2017, 1:49pm

The Story

Words: 6,580
Genres: Speculative fiction/Journalism fiction
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/593815
Formats: epub, mobi (Kindle), pdf, Online Reader

In this free short story, Waylee Freid, a young reporter in a near-future Baltimore, uncovers evidence that a powerful corporation called MediaCorp secretly co-opted the government to take control of nearly everything people see and hear. Can she get her evidence out and reverse the process before it's too late? Or will her editors succumb to outside pressure and bury her story?

5amysisson
Mayo 2, 2017, 1:58am

"Places We Call Home"

Words: approx. 8,000 (novelette)
Genre: Science Fiction
Formats: Online text or audio download (professionally narrated)
http://www.perihelionsf.com/1704/fiction_1.htm

Description: When Bronwyn realizes that her younger sister Faren is suffering from neeranji, an alien form of homesickness, she must ask herself what she is willing to sacrifice to make things right.

6LShelby
Mayo 2, 2017, 1:57pm

Looking at the current sections...

I actually have an entire novel and an entire graphic novel and an entire novella available to be read online. They're not exactly "short stories" but there's no reason I can think of why we wouldn't want to list them.

(I'm not sure what's available as an ebook and what isn't, I'll have to go look into that. My publisher was saying something about having to make it so only people in the US could buy directly from his site, because of sales tax issues, and I'm not sure if he found a workaround for the stuff we were offering for free or not.)

Anyway maybe we should take the "short" out and just have "complete stories"? If we include the wordage people will still have an idea of how long they are.

Oh, and thanks again for doing all this for me Tim!

7Marissa_Doyle
Mayo 2, 2017, 2:17pm

Question: I have a free novelette (~27k words) in a hidden area on my website, to which people who subscribe to my newsletter get given the link as an incentive/thank you for subscribing. Does that count?

8LShelby
Mayo 4, 2017, 7:28pm

>7 Marissa_Doyle:
Very interesting question.

It's sort of free and it sort of isn't. It's like the grandpa who pays his grandson assistant in "attention". :)

I don't actually see how it hurts this group to list it.

But I'm thinking that by listing something of the sort as 'free' we may be encouraging people to subscribe, get the novelette and then unsubscribe.

You are the one who intended it to be used as a bonus. How much would that sort of behavior bother you?

9Liam_Mullen
Ene 23, 2018, 8:52am

The Bee Sting. 973 Words.
Life, so far, had proved a bit of a mystery.
There was a sweet innocence, a feeling of wellbeing, coupled with no small amount of humour.
He had a feeling that the world was waiting to be explored, and he found it fascinating every Friday when the bin lorry came and did its thing. He also recognised the sweet musical tones that signalled the arrival of the ice cream man.
He had been hearing the 'S' word for several months now, and instinctively knew it meant another major life change. His first major change had come when they had moved from London back to Dublin, a move that baffled his little brain. He knew he had relatives on both sides of the Irish Sea, and he had known he was Irish when one of his London aunts had arrived distraught one day, after hearing about the assassination of President John F Kennedy.
"Why was aunt Polly so upset?" I remember asking.
My mother answered. "Because President Kennedy was shot."
"Did she know the President?" I asked naively.
"No, but he was an Irish President...in the same way that we're all Irish."
"Aah," I said, as if that explained everything.
There were still questions in my mind. Who had shot him and why?
Along with the 'S' word, new words also abounded, bigger words. "Endless possibilities...limitless opportunities." It all sounded so exciting.
A year and a half into his existence, he had become aware of a new presence in the household, and he knew he had a new baby brother. He recalled the day his brother fell out of the pram, not content like himself to stay out in the hot sun. The cries of the infant had reached him, making him edgy and panicky. Brotherly love, he supposed.
Air journeys were a bit of a mystery, but it was by air that he returned to Ireland, and he remembered running up and down the aisle. He also remembered that it was the first time he had suffered motion sickness, and he was glad when the plane put down and he was back on terra firma.
There was the promise of meeting his grandparents for the first time, something he was excited about. They were on my father's side, my mothers having passed to their eternal award, and by all accounts passing at way too young an age.
Dublin, of course, had its problems back then. Killer diseases like TB had only recently being eradicated, and the country was slowly emerging from an unemployment slump. My grandfather had been writing to my dad for ages about the new opportunities, and I guess that knocked the London thing on its head.
My grandparents lived off the South Circular near the canal, and I remember being fascinated by that body of water with its overgrown reeds that were a dark green in colour. A corner shop hanged near the bridge, a magnet for kids buying cough sweets. My grandparents proved to be very welcoming and loving, and I remember that we visited them often, now that we were home again. I also met two aunts, younger sisters of my dad, who were still young enough to be living at home, and there were other relatives too including a rake of cousins out in Templeogue but who we often met at the house off the South Circular.
My mother had also grown up beside the canal, and it was an area of the city she was familiar with. Perhaps that was why we settled in Ranelagh on our return. It was close to the canal and my grandparents house, and it wasn't a million miles from the centre of the city. Cars were a new commodity, and people were only starting to acquire them. They were by no means a common sight.
The 'S' word, of course, meant school.
I remember it was a tearful occasion. If a child wasn't crying, then the mother was.
All of the teachers were nuns - black-robed figures with an air of mystery about them. I recall their first words. "We're here to teach you about the Holy Trinity. God, the Father, God, the Son, and God, the Holy Ghost."
It was a bit too much to take in. Some of their stories were fascinating. The story of how Moses as a baby boy was left in a wicker basket to float down the Nile and of how he was found by an Egyptian princess; and stories too of Jesus when he was a boy, and of how he walked on water when he became a man. They liked teaching us life lessons.
The teacher, another nun, was nonplussed as to why I was suddenly whimpering in pain. "What happened to him?" she demanded of the class.
"A bee stung him, sister," said a young girl who had been sitting close enough to see what happened.
"A bee?" she exclaimed.
She took up a Ladybird book and came down through the class. It was time for another of those life lessons. The bee, having deployed its sting, was as good as dead, but the nun flattened it anyway, making sure it couldn't do any more damage. Then she gave us that important life lesson. "Everything dies," she said. "Bees, animals, birds, even people."
"People?"
The truth of that remark hit me like a sledgehammer, and suddenly the mystery of my young existence had been explained away. A new feeling hit me. Fear.
It wasn't simply a fear for myself, but for my parents, my grandparents, my relations, and my friends. I told myself that perhaps the nun had lied for reasons best known to herself. My parents would dispel the lie.
But as I raced home that day to ask, my heart already knew the answer. Everyone dies!

10Liam_Mullen
Ene 23, 2018, 8:55am

The Irish Reindeer from A Tale of two Winters by Liam Robert Mullen and Zoe Reid.
Some roamed and foraged the high ground. Their antlers matched their wild nature. In remote places like the Military Road in the Dublin mountains and stretching all the way down to Ireland's garden of Wicklow, the reindeer moved with free abandon. They avoided people as much as possible including their fast moving vehicles on their roadways. They didn't like the roadways that cut like a swathe through their countryside. It spoiled their idyllic view of the world. The roads partitioned their world, and often had the negative effect of cutting deer off, separated for evermore from their family. It didn't pay to wander too freely. Separation and partition were high prices to pay, and death was never far away in such circumstances.
They didn't like death much either. There was a finality to it that didn't sit right with them. In that way, they were really like people. They lived in their own world, and it was a world filled with the wonders of life - wild open mountainside, the deep glade of forests filled with Irish oaks and ash and birch trees, and greenery everywhere they turned. They had their favourite places, and they knew instinctively where to find the best water, food and shelter.
They had coats of course to keep them warm, but sometimes the elements were just too much to bear. Winters could be particularly harsh, and once again death was never far away. It didn't snow much, but when it did, although very picturesque, it too sometimes represented death. The cold was their enemy.
Other seasons presented their own problems. The long, hot balmy days of summer also meant they were plagued by flies and other insects. That was of course when they got a summer. There were times when summer felt like winter, and the seasons seemed to be confused. The balance was wrong, and they sensed that. Autumn brought the Fall, and made movement tricky on sodden leaves, and it brought a bareness to the landscape that they didn't like. They couldn't blend as much with Mother Nature, and felt exposed and vulnerable. They probably liked spring best. It hinted at new growth and the long, hot days of summer. The evergreen look of the countryside came back into vogue, and once again they felt alive and free to wander their wild surrounds. Life abounded.

11Liam_Mullen
Ene 23, 2018, 9:18am

The Pitboys - A complete short story from War by the writer of The Nationalists.
"Make some banshees, boy." The fireman's tone was uncompromising. "I'll rig the cane in, and you two lads clear the area until the smoke clears. As soon as it clears, start filling the buckets with coal again. Clear?"
Hennessy, the older of the two lads, bobbed his head. "Clear, sir."
In any other country but Ireland, Michael 'Mickey' Hennessy and his companion, would have been at school, but the country was just emerging from the savage ravages of a potato famine, and things being what they were, far from normal, even thirteen year old boys were being pushed out into the workforce, the niceties of school forgotten as they laboured in the mines beneath Ballingarry in County Tipperary. Michael regarded himself as a tough lad, but even he found the labouring conditions a bit on the rough side.
One nice thing was that they were no longer regarded as boys, but as working men. They still wouldn't get a pint at the local inn McGillycuddys, but they were treated with a newfound respect. Work had that effect. It brought the money in for the bread and butter. It also brought sage advice from some of the older heads: "Don't get too used to this type of work, lads. It's backbreaking, dangerous toil and it will eventually tell on your health." The two lads would nod in agreement, fearing to contradict what the older men were saying.
Mickey's companion, Birdy Finn, grinned at him as they emerged from the coal shaft. "You look like one of those black babies the schools are always collecting for."
Mickey grinned. "So do you."
Nobody knew how Birdy had gotten his name, perhaps it was his fluttering fingers which at the moment were ingrained with black soot from the coal. He was a small lad, somewhat stocky as opposed to Hennessy's lanky slight frame. On a hot summer evening they'd often sit on barrels outside McGillycuddys and watch the world go by. Most of the women wore shawls and the men usually wore peaked caps. Some of the children went around barefoot and looked with envy on the sturdy workboots worn by Mickey and Birdy, one of the few perks of the job. From their vantage point they could hear the raucous laughter of their older workmates as the effects of Guinness and Paddy's whiskey took hold.
It was in and around McGillycuddys that they first heard talk of insurrection. Rebellion was in the air, not just in little old Ireland, but all over Europe. Earlier in the year, a revolution had broken out in France. Such events were heard of usually through 'word of mouth', and through the few newspapers that circulated at the time. Newspapers were normally ferried about by canal barges and men on bicycles.
It was at Ballingarry that the pitboys first saw the Irish tricolour unfurled - the green, white and orange fluttering in the wind. It looked magnificent. It was an image of freedom that they all secretly longed for. No peoples liked to be under the dictat of another nation and for too long the English had ruled over Ireland with a mighty fist. Ireland had had to endure savage repressions by the likes of Cromwell who had left his bloody imprints in the minds of the Irish. It had also suffered under the penal laws, and Irish children had been taught in hedge schools. It was a nation that yearned for its independence. That it would come at some point was a point on which they were all agreed, but just when was a point of contention.
There was a man in town that the pitboys had often observed. It was known that he'd broken away from Daniel O'Connell's Repeal Association and had started his own movement, a group called the Young Irelanders. The man's name was William O Brien.
Travelling from county to county, Kilkenny and Wexford mostly, trying to drum up support for his new movement. He had what the Irish called the 'gift of the gab', and Mickey reckoned he must have kissed the blarney stone at some point in his life because he came out with fine rhetoric. He could get a rise out of the crowds that flocked to hear his words...of that, there was no doubt. The Irish Constabulary kept close tabs on him, but they would, wouldn't they? They were the eyes and ears of her majesty's crown forces. Sharp eyed peelers with the Queen's shilling in their pockets who cared nothing for ideal notions like Irish independence. Their lives were made up...thank you very much.
O'Brien despised them, and it showed in his speeches. He was often seen in the company of two other men - John Meagher and Richard O'Gorman. All three men were earmarked for special monitoring by the Constabulary. It was suspected by the forces of the crown that the three men had travelled to France to observe first-hand the effects of the French revolution. The authorities had them down as dangerous revolutionaries, men who by the force of their personalities could influence the pitboys and others of a rebellious streak.
The pitboys heard the gelignite explode and made ready for the coal shaft again. The next few hours would be busy ones. They would need to shore up weak areas of the shaft with puncheons or chocks, before loading more buckets of coal into the 'bogey' rail cars.
It was hard, tough work in subhuman conditions: little light, no sunshine, and every movement had to be measured to prevent caving in. The coal itself, as one of the older hands delighted in telling, was dirty and filled with dust. The older hand knew all about the stuff: the anthracite with its high calorific value and low ash content, black coal, hard coal, stone coal, blind coal, Kilkenny coal, crow coal, craw coal, and black diamond. Mickey reckoned he was a right expert when it came to coal. He had to wonder why Dingle didn't have the fireman's job, such was his love for coal. Perhaps they knew he had shaky hands, earned from the illicit trading in poteen that he made near his home in the Slieveardagh hills. He was another one under constant scrutiny from the peelers, but for different reasons.
With the day finished they went home to their respective houses. Both lads were bone tired. "See you, Birdy," said Mickey.
"Bright and early in the morning," Birdy confirmed.
Mickey smiled and strolled on. His reverie was interrupted by a quiet call of his name. "Got a minute, Mickey?"
He recognised the man as a sidekick of O'Briens. He went by the name of Finnegan and Mickey knew him to be trouble. He tried to avoid the encounter. "Not now, Harry," he said, trying to skip aside.
The man moved to block his progress and Mickey frowned. "Best make the time, Mickey," Harry warned.
Mickey sighed. "What do you want, Finnegan?"
"Your help."
"Help with what?"
Finnegan didn't answer directly. "Understand you're working the mines now?"
"What of it?"
"You've got access to explosive on that job," Finnegan explained. "We could use some of that."
Mickey shook his head. "It's under lock and key. Only the fireman has access."
"You could get at the keys?"
"No." Mickey's tone was emphatic.
"Those who are not with us are against us," Finnegan warned.
"Us?"
"The Young Irelanders."
There! It was out in the open. Somehow Mickey thought O'Brien would be against this. He said as much to Finnegan, who seemed to reflect and back up a bit. "Keep it in mind, kid," he replied lamely, before wandering off.
Mickey watched him go with cold eyes. Men like Finnegan were always dangerous. He continued towards home, and his mother put a bowl of hearty Irish stew in front of him. After eating, he relaxed and spoke with his father about the mining work. He said nothing to his folks about Finnegan. He didn't want to worry them.
Next morning, he found out that a sidekick of Finnegan had made a similar approach to Birdy, and he determined to do something about it. Later, following another hard day in the mines, he spotted O'Brien in the main street of the town and he told the man what his underlings had been up to. The man's face grew stormy as he listened to the lad's tale. "I'll deal with this," he promised the lad. "Don't you worry your head about it anymore."
When Mickey next saw Finnegan, he noticed the man was sporting a few bruises. Finnegan shot him a venomous look but said nothing as he passed him in the street.
O'Brien stopped him later and spoke briefly: "That's sorted."
Mickey nodded his thanks. He put a question of his own.
O'Brien considered the question deeply. "Will we rebel? I think it's inevitable...that's if the church doesn't interfere too much. Bloody priests...they'll destroy this country."
"They're that powerful?"
"You'd better believe it, Mickey. They hold an enormous sway over the people. They undermine my people all of the time...but mark my words...our time is coming!"
"What will you achieve?"
"Irish independence. The right to govern ourselves...a constitutional government up in Dublin."
"High ideals," Mickey commented.
"We have a right to self-determination." The man was dogged in his convictions.
"Didn't Daniel O'Connell set out to achieve that?"
O'Brien frowned. "He went about it in a different way. He didn't espouse doing it by violent ways, and rejected the notion of republicanism. I think history will show him in a good light. He achieved a lot."
"Catholic emancipation?"
O'Brien looked at Mickey in a new light. "You know about that. You're wasting your time in those mines, boy. You've got a grasp of historical matters that would make teachers weep with envy. You're right of course...emancipation removed many of the stumbling blocks faced by Roman Catholics...gave them voting rights...and access to good jobs in the judiciary, military and government. Daniel helped bring about those changes in a big way."
"Do you think Ireland will ever be truly free?"
"Good question," O'Brien commented, his tone reflective. "Some day, the Irish people will say enough is enough, but they'll need to act in concert and get up off their backsides and act. Maybe, then."
There was a short silence. O'Brien's next words contained more than a hint of prophecy. "It could happen when England's backs are turned...when their attentions are preoccupied with more pressing matters on the world stage."
It was a conversation that Mickey was to recall much later in life as he watched his youngest grandson don the uniform of the Citizen army. England was embroiled in a world conflict, and Irishmen and women were about to strike a blow for Irish freedom. At the age of eighty one, his movements slow and ponderous, and crippled with arthritis which he put down to his early mining years, all Mickey could do was watch and pray that his grandson would succeed in a quest that had proved impossible for younger generations, including O'Briens Young Irelanders.
He sighed deeply. "Go with God, my son."

12amysisson
Ene 23, 2018, 4:19pm

Hi Shelby,

I had 3 in the old thread that haven't changed, but I'd rather put 3 new ones in this thread if that's allowed. Or is that double-dipping? ;-)

Hope you are well!

-- Amy S.

13JackMessenger
Ene 24, 2018, 5:51am

Hello!

I have a free short story available on my website:

Title: Long Distance
Words: 3,292
Genres: Contemporary/literary fiction
http://jackmessenger.co.uk/free-short-story/
Formats: epub, mobi (Kindle), pdf

Set in England in the 1930s and the 1950s, it’s about a middle-class woman, her marriage and a second chance at life.

I hope you enjoy it! Feel free to let me know what you think.

Jack

14Cathy_Donnelly
Editado: Feb 1, 2018, 3:45am

FOREVER FRIEND

She is the companion of my life. Her joy at the sight, the touch of me, opens a place in my heart that exists only for her. To some, the door to this place is closed, to others it is ajar, but for her, it does not exist.

When she comes to me I put all else aside and attend to her needs, for I would not reject one touch, one look, that she offers me.

I talk to her of the hours I have spent away from her and how I miss her nearness. I remind her of her beauty and how much I love her. No other living being can compete for that which we share. There are no barriers between us, no disappointment or harsh words to remember.

Her touch banishes all doubts, all fears, all regrets, all sadness.

I know the day will come when she will have to leave me but at the moment of her departure I will be with her, holding her and loving her, and reminding her that there is a special place in my heart that belongs only to her. She will know, as I know, that we will always be part of each other, and that one day, when she again touches my face with her paw and strokes her whiskers against my cheek, my broken heart will again be whole.

Copyright: Cathy M. Donnelly 2001
Website: www.cathymdonnelly.com

15Cathy_Donnelly
Editado: Feb 1, 2018, 3:44am

CARLOS

by Cathy M Donnelly

Carlos thought the world a small place. This was because he considered only his world important. He owned a great house and had many servants and people who attended to his needs. He had inherited his wealth so there had never been any great incentive for him to do anything but indulge himself in the things that brought him pleasure, and he saw no reason to do otherwise.

One day he was riding one of his new black stallions near his home. The sun was warm on his back and his mind was on the party he was hosting that evening. Suddenly the horse stumbled and came to a halt. Carols dismounted and saw that the horse had a small shaft of wood protruding from his leg, obviously causing him great pain. Carlos felt helpless and thought what might be the best course of action—to leave the horse there and go for help or try to walk the horse slowly back to the stable. He dared not try to pull out the shaft in case the bleeding became more profuse. He stroked the horse’s head and saw a look of pleading in his eyes. Again he felt helpless and that feeling was not one he experienced often.

He saw her out of the corner of his eye. She was standing a short way from him, watching. Carlos turned to look at her and saw that she was a young peasant girl, about 12, he thought. Her clothes were old and tattered but they were clean. As she approached he noticed how her face glowed and her hair shone in the sunlight.

‘Your horse is in need of help. Why do you not help him?’ she asked.

Carlos was embarrassed. ‘I do not know how. Will you wait with him while I go for help?’

‘But he is in great pain now.’ She stroked the horse’s face. ‘What is his name?’ she asked.

‘I do not know. He is new to my stables.’

‘You ride him and you do not know his name?’ The child sounded surprised.

Again Carlos felt uncomfortable. Was this child judging him? She continued to stroke the horse’s face, whispering softly into his ear. She slid her hands down his body until she was stroking the back of the injured leg.

‘Get away from there, child, he will kick you.’

‘No, he will not. You trust me, don’t you my beauty? You know I will not harm you.’

Carlos watched in fascination as the girl continued to stroke the leg near the wound. She put one hand on the shaft and the other on the back of his leg. With a quick movement she pulled out the shaft. The horse jerked back but the child did not let go of him. She put her hand over the wound so that she was cupping the leg from both sides. Blood streamed through her fingers, down her arm, and the horse’s leg. All the time she whispered gently to him. Carlos had expected the horse to bolt but he stayed still. He did not know how long he watched but he saw the flow of blood gradually slow until it stopped completely.

The girl stood up and wiped her hands on the grass and then returned to stroking the horse’s head. ‘You will need to keep the wound clean and keep his leg still for a time. You will care for him, won’t you?’ she asked.

‘I will make sure he is cared for,’ Carlos replied.

‘That is not what I asked. You should take care of him. He likes you.’

‘Likes me? How do you know that? I don’t even know his name.’ His words held a hint of amusement.

‘He has forgiven you for your disrespect with the name but he thinks you will become friends. You should take care of him yourself. You should value his friendship.’

‘You know what he is thinking?’ Carlos asked.

‘It is not difficult. I want to know what he is thinking and he is willing to share his thoughts with me. You too can learn to communicate with him, if you wanted.’

Carlos sat on the veranda watching the sun set over the distant hills. He was an old man now but still he remembered that day as clearly as if it had been yesterday. His life since then had been filled with pleasure of a different kind. Something had stirred in him the day that Anna had helped the stallion. By her simple act of caring she had made him realise that there should be more to life that what he had. It opened a whole new world to him. She had been right. He and the stallion had become great friends. His name was Pharaoh.

He and Anna also shared a deep and lasting friendship and the greatest joy of his life had been when she and her husband named their first born after him.

He would always be thankful for the chance he had been given to review his life before it had been too late to realise what was really of value.

He watched the sun finally disappear from view. He smiled and was content.

Copyright: Cathy M. Donnelly 2008
Website: www.cathymdonnelly.com

16K.D._McQuain
Editado: Ene 24, 2019, 9:52pm

From NYV: GOTH (New York Vampire book 2)

She stopped to lean against the twenty-foot tall cyclone fence to catch her breath. She had run all the way from Chrystie Street across town to the William F. Passannante Ballfield at Houston and Sixth. Her heart was pounding hard in her chest, which she still found confusing.

She couldn’t believe she had come so close to being caught by the group of men who had been hanging around in the dark, but the park really wasn’t a particularly good place for a young girl to creep around in the early hours of the morning, even one like her. She couldn't help but imagine what they would have done to her if they had actually caught her, and it would have scared her half to death if she hadn't been already been a walking corpse. Still, she figured gang rape was gang rape, and even dead, she could feel physical sensation and still had all of her human emotions and fears intact. If she didn't know better, she would have thought she was still alive.

She was covered in grim from head to toe, and all that was left of her clothing was a tattered t-shirt and a badly abused pair of jeans that were quickly becoming baggy and hanging loosely on her as her body slowly wasted away. Add to all that the fact that her once creamy white skin was now filthy and covered with rat bites, and her dirty disheveled hair looked like they had been nesting in it, which they probably had been. Her appearance should have been enough to scare away any rational person, but she supposed a group of guys who had been drinking Wild Irish Rose in the park until almost four in the morning while they waited to unload the last of their smack, weren’t the most rational bunch.

She entered the asphalt-covered lot and crossed to the back fence behind the basketball hoop. She took a quick look around to make sure that the windows of the neighboring apartment building were still dark and that there was no one on the sidewalks that would notice her suspicious activity. Satisfied, she began to climb. People would soon be waking up and getting ready for work. She was well aware of the fact that the sun would soon be coming up and she was cutting it extremely close.

She had never been much of an athlete: Never played sports in school, preferring a cigarette and a cute boy to strenuous activity. She had finally given up both going to school and smoking, though it had taken dying to finally get her to kick the habit. She had also been forced to give up boys to accommodate her new so-called lifestyle. It mattered to her, but there wasn't anything she could do about it. Besides, what cute boy would be interested in her now.

Climbing was hard for her; not having much upper body strength to begin with, she had been watching her body deteriorate over the past few months until her skin hung loosely on her bones. The metal bit into her fingers, and the toes of her sneakers didn't fit into the diamond-shaped holes enough to give her much support as she struggled to climb higher. She had thought the undead would be super strong, but that hadn't worked out in her favor either. At least she wasn’t a mindless, shambling corpse, so her existence could have been marginally worse. Though, the idea of being mindless did have its appeal sometimes.

There was a jingling sound as she hauled herself through a hole that had been cut in the fence about fifteen feet above the ground, and began climbing back down the other side. When she reached the bottom she had to reach across a three-foot gap and grab a hold of the gray painted bars of the fire escape attached to the building that abutted the park. She climbed down the rickety ladder and dropped down into a narrow, basement-level alley that ran between the buildings about ten feet below the playground.

She turned the corner and stopped at her usual morning dumpster. She hadn't found anything to eat all night, and Caffé Dante always threw out the most delicious sweets. She noticed a half-eaten piece of cheesecake that beckoned her with its decadent cream cheese filling and gram cracker crust but perched like a maraschino cherry on top of a Sunday sprinkled with damp coffee grounds, sat a whole mini éclair. She wondered if some wonderful café employee had left it there specifically for her to find, and silently blessed him or her while she relished the scrumptious morsel. She stood savoring the delicious sweetness, the chocolate icing was starting to sweat in the morning heat, but the cream filling was still cool.

A loud clang echoed unexpectedly down the alley. She jumped nervously and turned to look, relieved to find that it was still deserted but a quick glance at the lightening sky warned her that it was time to get moving again. She needed to get back to the lair before her master returned from his nightly hunting sortie. She had learned from excruciating experience what would happen to her if she wasn't there waiting for him, though it wasn’t unusual for him to arrive in the last moments before dawn.

Stuffing the last of the pastry into her mouth, she jogged down the alley and around the next bend. Three cement steps led down to a black steel basement door, which fortunately was always left unlocked. She could only imagine if her master arrived to find her sitting on the steps waiting for him to break it open. She pushed the door open slowly to mitigate the creaking of rusty hinges and peeked around the edge, making sure the room was empty before stepping inside.

The boiler room was dark and creepy, and smelled of mold and damp and spilled heating oil. The summer had been brutally hot, but at least it was cooler underground she thought. The only light was from a single bare bulb, hanging over the large stinky oil tank, bathing the room in a yellowish light and concealing the corners of the room in deep shadows. She closed the door behind her and quietly crossed the space to a small access door near the floor behind the furnace. The padlock that had once secured it had been twisted off and the metal was so mangled that it would never come off the broken hasp. Her master must have done it when he first found the lair, she assumed.

A dark narrow shaft descended another thirty feet below the earth to an unused mechanical room off the IND subway line at the bottom. The master’s lair could only be accessed by a rattling, pitted metal ladder that shook precariously on the rusty anchors that were supposed to be securing it to the wall of the shaft. She didn't have a lot of confidence in the reliability of the ladder, and never dilly-dallied on her way down even if she wasn't sure what horror she would find at the bottom.

The chamber's only doorway had been sealed with cinder blocks and a green metal locker had been thrown over on its side in front of it to serve as the master’s bed during the daylight hours. She sighed with relief to discover the room still vacant and took her place amid the soiled rags that littered the floor to await his impending return. It was pretty disgusting but she figured it was better than being buried in a coffin, but only a tiny bit better.

The appearance of her master floating silently down the shaft without seeming to use the ladder always startled her, and she quickly lowered her eyes in supplication. She silently warned herself to never again raise her eyes to him while he was awake, but once the sun was up and he was lying on his locker like a corpse, she could do whatever she wanted. And when she had first been brought here, with her throat and abdomen torn out, she had spent a lot of time studying him while he slept.

Her master had looked like a homeless man when he had come to her at the scene of her death. He had told her how she had died, murdered in a fit of passion, and who had killed her. He said that he could use his powers to keep her animated so long as she served him and obeyed his evil whims. He hadn't used those exact words of course, but that's what had happened. He had asked her if she wanted him to allow her to die or if she wanted to continue as his servant. She hadn’t wanted to die; there were still so many things she wanted to do, though it didn’t appear likely that she would ever get the chance to do them now.
She had thought he would just want to fuck, it's what most men seemed to want from her, so she reluctantly agreed, even though the thought of screwing some old homeless guy was totally disgusting. But what he had actually wanted from her turned out to be so much worse.

He never told her his name, just ordered her to call him master. At first, she refused. She was a strong, independent young woman, and wouldn’t play along with his chauvinistic fantasies of patriarchal dominance, even if she was dead. But after he started walking away, leaving her to lay in a puddle of her own coagulated blood, she decided that calling him master was a small price to pay to stay alive, or animate, or whatever you call what she was. After he had bound the worst of her injuries in strips of shredded sheets to prevent her dripping all over, he easily picked her up, tossed her over his shoulder, and carried her down into his lair.

During those early days, while her injuries closed and the damage to her body was repaired, she had been so grateful to still be conscious that she would have submitted to almost anything. But as time went on, his demands became more extreme, and his punishments for disobedience increasingly severe. At the same time, his appearance began to improve in part because she was forced to bring him money every evening, which he used to buy new clothes, colognes, and jewelry. It didn't matter to him what she had to do to get it, how she had to debase herself in front of those condescending suburban douchebags on their way to and from their oh-so-important and lucrative jobs in the financial district.

She had checked the newspapers for days after her murder, hoping that there would be something – anything – that would indicate that someone was looking for her or investigating what had happened to her. Yet day after day, she found nothing. Her master had told her that she was “unloved” and “unmissed” by her friends and family. She knew that most of her friends wouldn’t be too concerned when she stopped coming around; it wasn’t unusual for people on the scene to just disappear for a while without telling anyone, especially during the summer when everyone seemed to be traveling. But, surely her mom would have noticed that she hadn’t been back to their apartment in a while to collect the rest of her things and raise some sort of alarm.

“It is gratifying, as usual, to see my little pet waiting patiently for my return,” he said in a tired, raspy voice. This was his regular greeting for her when he arrived back at the lair each morning. However, it was his next words that would determine how the rest of her day would go.

If he said, “The hunting was not good tonight. The weather is keeping all the little darlings indoors,” then she could be in for a difficult few hours.

But, something was different: The tiny room was beginning to fill with the overpowering stench of burnt meat, and the silence of the room was interrupted by a faint crackling sound. She looked up to see orange glowing embers pop and hiss deep within the cracked recesses of charred bark that was his flesh. She quickly averted her eyes, keeping them downcast as she’d been taught through his many harsh and thorough lessons. Her hopes for the evening sank into her nearly empty stomach as he took a seat on the edge of the locker. “Come pet,” he commanded in a strained voice, causing her to scurry on her knees across the litter-strewn floor to kneel at his feet.

She took her position on the floor between his spread knees, with her back to him, and braced herself for what she knew was coming. He placed one uncharacteristically warm hand on the side of her head, wrenching it roughly to the side by her hair, exposing her neck. He used the other hand to pull her shirt and bra strap out of his way. The pain, when it came, was excruciating as always. Her master didn't simply bite her to get to her blood: He liked to chew on her neck and shoulder, grinding her flesh between his sharp teeth, mashing it into a blood-soaked pulp before drinking from her mangled arteries. Even more than the shock of agony, she was amazed at how the torturous pain quickly subsided the more he chewed, and how her torn skin knit itself back together showing no sign of the trauma she had endured mere minutes after he had finished.

It was one of the side effects of the power that kept her animated her master had explained: It let her dead body heal quickly when he fed from her, but without his attentions, any injury would linger and fester until the next time he needed her. It was the pattern of her new existence, as reliable as the sun that he avoided so determinedly. He would hurt her, then heal her over and over again whenever it suited him.

The other side effect was equally disturbing. As the pain subsided, she was overtaken with a warm, tingling sensation that spread out from her neck until it seemed to engulf her entire being in an aura of ecstasy that kept her hovering on the edge of orgasmic release long after her master had finished with her. Even if it hadn’t been for the restorative power he had over her, this intoxicatingly erotic sensation was so addictive that it might have been enough to keep her coming back anyway.

When he had sated his thirst, he wiped his blood-smeared mouth with a crunchy bit of stained fabric that passed as a handkerchief and lay back on his makeshift cot. The metal walls of the locker made a loud bang as his weight distorted the steel sheeting beneath him. “I will require you to obtain more money, much more, in the coming weeks. It is time for you to move my lair to somewhere with more... panache. You will also need to care for a child I shall be acquiring soon.”

“But I'm doing the best I can,” she said with more than a hint of desperation. She turned her head around suddenly to face him and said, “It's all I can do just to get those greedy yuppie fuckers to fork over a little change.” Her protests stopped suddenly when she saw the condition her master was in. His skin was burnt black and small trails of smoke wafted into the chamber's stale air from tiny orange glowing specks, like coals that popped and flared from within the recesses of his scorched flesh. She knelt with her mouth hanging open, transfixed by what she was seeing. Without thinking, she asked, “What happened to you?”

The back of his hand smashed viciously into the side of her cheek, sending her flying across the room to lay sprawled on the filthy floor. “Mornings do not agree with my constitution,” he growled. When she could begin to think again, she realized all the mistakes she had just made: She had looked at him, she had talked back, she had made excuses for her failure, she had questioned him and made note of his weakness. She knew that the only reason she was 'alive' was because he still needed her, and she wanted to stay alive in, whatever manner was available to her.

Where there is life there is hope she kept telling herself. “I’m sorry master, I forgot my place,” she said with her head bowed.

“I do not care how you obtain the money I need, just get it. Must I remind you that you continue to exist only so long as I find you useful? When you cease to be useful, or your presence becomes disagreeable to me, I will cease to allow you to continue being,” he warned.

He brushed away the thin coating of ash from his sleeve with his wickedly sharp fingernails. It was a futile effort as the light dusting of cinders was replaced by large flakes of black char. “Now, you WILL get me the money I require, you WILL find me a place to reside that suits my needs and my station, and you WILL care for the boy child when I bring him. Do you understand all that, esclava?”

“Yes, master,” she responded contritely, more out of habit and conditioning than any genuine acquiescence to his demands.

“Good. You know I don't enjoy disciplining my pet,” he said reproachfully.

In fact, she knew the exact opposite to be true. He was a sadist who thoroughly and completely enjoyed inflicting torment, and if she didn't need him to go on functioning, she would have done... something, she thought. She hadn't the faintest idea what she could do to get away from him. But even if she could get away, where could she go? Who could she turn to now that all the people who were supposed to love her had betrayed or abandoned her?

“But you must learn to keep your place. The sun has risen, and it is time for me to rest and recuperate. Tomorrow evening you will have better tidings for me upon waking.” He lay back on his metal bed and was still as stone in minutes.

She waited. They were so far underground that she had no idea if the sun was really up yet or if he was just setting another trap so he could punish her again. It had happened enough times in the first weeks that she knew better than to move an inch until she was absolutely sure he was down for the day. Only then could she curl up on her bed of rags and get a few short hours of sleep before going back out on the street.
But today was different: He had revealed that his condition was due to exposure to the coming morning. That fit with what she knew about vampires, leaving her to ponder the possibilities. She had seen a movie in April with Tim Curry and Tom Cruise where they used a series of mirrors to bring the sunlight into a dark cave. She wondered if something like that could work here. If she could burn him up while he slept…
She imagined mirrors reflecting the sunlight from the park, down the alley, into the boiler room, down the shaft, and onto his bed. It would be complicated but worth the effort when she imagined him burning up, unable to escape the lair through the blazing shaft of sunlight. But where would that leave me, she thought. She needed him to remain animated, and as bad as things were, and they certainly were bad, she wasn’t yet ready to throw in the towel and pull her own grave closed over her.

Instead, she poked at her swollen cheek with the nail of her dirty index finger, feeling the puffiness subside and the bruising fade between one probing poke and the next. All the bites and bruises would be healed, and her skin would be clear and free of all blemishes when she woke. It wouldn’t last long; the rats would once again come in the dark to begin nibbling on her putrefying flesh. The sores and welts would return soon and she would slowly deteriorate until the next time her master needed to feed.

As she succumbed to exhaustion, she wondered what else she could do to look even more pathetic, more in need than she already did, what she could do to make those rich bastards downtown part with more of the cash her master needed. She had no idea how she would accomplish all the things her master had demanded, but she knew she had no choice but to try.

Copyright: K.D. McQuain 2018

17LShelby
Ene 26, 2019, 3:02pm

The original intention was to have a place to put links to stories that are available elsewhere online, not a place to post stories. Although anyone who has posted one lately can't be blamed for not be aware of that fact since other people did it, and neither I nor the OP said anything. (I've been mostly gone for far too long, alas!)

I don't know that it's a bad thing to have a thread for posting stories in. But I also don't know that I want to have it be the same thread as we're collecting story links in. Perhaps I should be setting up a new fresh thread for each?

I could maybe link to individual complete stories in the post stories thread from the Free story list, since posting a story in a forum is making it available for free. (One of the free stories available on my site was originally posted to a forum as part of a contest.)

Opinions, anyone?

18LShelby
Ene 26, 2019, 3:06pm

And while I'm asking questions...

To the people posting stories here:
Were you looking for any kind of response?

I mean, I know what everyone really wants in reply to sharing their work is several pages of well-reasoned praise...

...but if you can't get that, would you rather have a shorter slightly more brutal critique, or a few encouraging words, or no response, or what?

19CathEChapman
Ene 6, 2020, 7:06pm

I have three short stories available free on Smashwords that can be categorised as women's fiction, chick lit or light romance:

The Family Tree http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/438936

Opening Night http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/393878

and The Ramblers http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/180502

There are a couple of seasonal ones there too (The Office Party and All the Trimmings). All stories are between 1k and 3k words in length and are available to download in various formats from Smashwords or can be read online.

20Ted_Weber
Abr 6, 2020, 6:02pm

Hi everyone,

I have some free short stories and book excerpts on my website: https://www.tcweber.com/free-stuff . They are all quite different; hopefully you'll like at least one (and possibly hate the rest :)

Bonus: there's a blank character creation sheet from a workshop I gave last year. Also a couple of drink recipes (one of which tastes much better than the other).

Cheers,

T. C. Weber
https://www.tcweber.com/

21Ted_Weber
Abr 6, 2020, 6:06pm

I agree, keep it to links. This isn't a good place to post story text, since there appears to be no formatting.

-TCW

22LShelby
Abr 7, 2020, 11:29am

Ted, could you pick three for us to feature, that will bring people to your website, and they can find the rest of the freebies from there.