In the sixteenth century, Raven De Veaux is escorting a young prince home to take his rightful place on the throne.
During a raging storm he is hit by lightning, experiencing an outer body transformation.
His body is slammed to the ground where he lays unconscious.
In the year 2090, Princess Alphonsine Zyronk is beamed down to the planet Earth when her craft is damaged.
She loses conscientiousness and opens her eyes to discover a strange man lying beside her.
She explains that she’s from the future and tells him that she must return to her time when her craft returns.
But when the time comes, Raven refuses to let her go and he is accidently beamed up with Alphonsine into the future.
It was a glorious England day for living thought Sir Raven De Veaux as he and his men-at-arms trotted through Talon Forest to King Fredrick’s castle. They were escorting Prince Gustave home to take his rightful place on the throne. It was a bittersweet moment for Raven because in order for his beloved prince to reign, the king had to die.
Prince Gustave, only sixteen, had been in hiding since 1521 AD, living deep in the forest with his aunt. Now that the king was ailing, not expected to live much longer, Raven had been summoned to bring the king’s only child home. He had mixed feelings since he had had a hand in rearing the child since birth. He had only been on here for seventeen years, a mere youth, but he had the wisdom of a mature man when he had taken over the responsibility of the safety of an infant. Now thirty-three years of age, besides his wisdom, he had the strength of two men.
It did not hurt to be in King Fredrick’s favor when he had slain a lion that had wandered down from a mountain. ‘Twas about to attack the pregnant queen as she and her servants were gathering herbs just outside the castle walls. His arms were badly clawed, but Raven was cared for and in his convalescing, the queen grew to love him. He was knighted for his bravery and made captain of the king’s army. Raven and his men guarded Prince Gustave and the prince was like a younger brother to him. He had tutored the boy in numbers and letters as well as self-defense. Gustave’s aunt Vesta believed that a prince should not endanger himself in the art of fencing at an early age but Raven insisted.
“’Tis only a wooden sword, milady,” Raven would remind Vesta and laugh at her nail biting habit. “Verily, naught would happen,” he had insisted numerous times.
Aunt Vesta would poo-poo and tsk, tsk him repeatedly but kept her cursing to a minimum until the prince was given a real sword at the age of eight. Then, and only then, did the woman become hysterical and swear, raising holly hell and making Raven’s ears blister. But alas, ’twould do no good, and she would have to watch, claiming that her heart beat wildly in her breast.
Steel against steel, the prince would try to best Raven, but he was the teacher and he proved to be unbeatable. By the time Prince Gustave was ten, he had learned many tricks to unarm any opponent Raven matched him with. Although the boy was still unable to get the better of him, this did not frustrate or deter the lad into giving up. By the time the prince turned sixteen, he was almost as good as Raven. Now the only reason ’twas necessary for the prince to be concealed all those years was because his Uncle Wulfric. The man would like nothing better than to see his nephew slaughtered so he could claim the crown for himself. That was the danger that had been plaguing Raven for all those years.
It was yestermorn when he received a message that the king was dying. He had to tell both the prince and the woman who raised the boy the news. He was not sure how either would take it. He hoped the prince would be happy to go home, and to see his sire, if only for a short time. Raven knew Vesta would not take it lightly, although she knew sooner or later that this day would come. Raising a child for sixteen years is not easy for Vesta, especially one who loves the prince as her own. He decided to tell her first. As he suspected she paled and sat clutching her bosom.
After a few cups of Meade, Vesta dried her eyes and asked, “Have ye told the prince?”
He gulped down the last of his ale and frowned. “Nay, I thought ’tis best I inform ye first. I do nae know how the lad will take leaving here. ‘Tis the only home he has ever known.” He looked into the goblet as if he was reading a message at the bottom. “I think he will be confused.”
“Aye,” replied Vesta. “’Twas nae the life for a boy, especially a prince, that he should be raised in the bowls of the forest, and away from lads his own age. Although I am sad, maybe ‘tis best he go home to his roots.” The old woman wiped away another tear.
Raven stood and kissed her wrinkled cheek. “I will send the prince to ye after I give him the news. “I can see ye are nae happy, my prince,” Raven voiced the obvious.
Gustave shrugged his small shoulders. “I do nae feel anything but uncertainty but I had feared this day for a long time, my friend. I do know that I do nae want to be king, or leave here and my aunt. What do I know about ruling over subjects?”
“Tis understandable, my prince, but ye have a duty. I will be by ye side as long as ye need my service as a tutor and friend.”
Raven stood by as Vesta kissed the prince goodbye, her grey eyes filled water. His prince’s aunt loved the boy as her own, and had nursed him as a babe from the moment Raven placed the infant into her arms. Only two weeks had passed since her own babe had died and her breasts were heavy with milk.
“I love ye mother Vesta,” the prince had declared as they prepared to leave. “I shall miss ye terribly. I wish ye could journey with us,” he said, his own eyes wet.
Vesta sighed sadly and declared, “Now Prince Gustave ye are a young man on your way to take your rightful place on the throne. Ye will make a great king, besides; I am too old to make the trip. My health is no longer what it used to be. Ye are a man now and ye will have great responsibilities to keep ye busy.”
She loosened his grip and smiled wanly. “Ye will be in my heart and mind daily, my sweet boy. Remember I love ye as if ye were of my own flesh and blood. Raven will see that ye are escorted safely to your father’s castle. Be brave and live well.” She kissed his cheek, “God speed.” Before she lost all her composure and will power not to cling to the boy, she turned and entered her humble home.
The prince mounted his horse, wiping away tears. Raven saw Gustave’s raw emotion and looked away so as not to embarrass the young man. He said his goodbyes to Vesta earlier and sadness for the woman and child lay heavy in his heart. He remembered the loss of his own mother, but this parting could not be helped. Squaring his shoulders, Raven raised his hand and turned slightly on his war horse Samson, to speak with his ward; his steed side-stepped and snorted. The animal was much larger than the average horse. Big and mean, bred specifically for war, and Raven trusted Samson with his life, more so than any friend.
They traveled for about two hours when Raven signaled for his men to stop, noticing that the prince was shuddering. Hoping to comfort the lad, Raven said, “Prince Gustave, ye will make a grand king.” The prince looked concerned, an expression that had been plastered on his countenance for the past week, once he had learned of his going home. Home to a kingdom he had never seen and a father he had never met.
He smiled wryly. “Raven, think you? I am nae too sure of this myself.”
Raven touched the boy’s sleeve. “Remember, I will always be by your side. Ye are a smart lad; ye will mature and lead your people as it should be. Your subjects will love ye as they do your father. I am sorry that ye never got to know your sire but as ye know, your uncle tried to kill ye when ye were in the cradle and your mother gave her life to protect ye.”
Prince Gustave sighed. “Why had father not thrown his brother into the dungeon?”
Raven shook his head negatively. “We had no real proof, only suspicions. After your mother was found with her body over yours and a knife in her back, your uncle fled. But if ye should come to any harm, he will surely return to claim the throne. He had a son two years your senior and they are the only other relatives and heirs to the kingdom. ‘Tis rumored that your cousin is as bad as his father. At eighteen, ‘tis said that he raped and murdered a young maiden of thirteen.”
Prince Gustave’s shoulders slouched and he murmured, “Wouldst that I was a mere commoner. I liked living in the forest with Vesta and ye. I am frightened that I shant be a good king.”
Raven did not know what else to say to comfort the boy. He saw the prince’s eyes had a faraway look in them and his expression was tight with strain. “Ye will be fine, I promise,” he said, reassuring the prince as he had many times these past few weeks. No sooner had the words fell from his lips than one of his guards yelled out in pain and the soldier’s eyes were wide with confusion before he slumped over his horse. He fell to the ground with an arrow protruding from his back. Raven pulled out his sword and yelled for his men to surround the prince.
It was as if a third party had entered the fray, a stiff wind ushered in a chill, and dark clouds formed. The beautiful day turned menacing in more ways than one. As the army of soldiers swarmed like locusts, lightning flashed all around and a fury of swords clashed along with thunder. Steel against steel, Raven and his men fought in the downpour until he was the only one left. The stench of blood and horse manure filled his nostrils and terror filled his heart for the prince. He blinked, trying to find Gustave, his heart pounding. Out of the corner of his eyes he spied the prince struggling with a large soldier. His heart shrank in anguish as he kicked his mount to charge, unaware of the enemy behind him. When his helmet was knocked off he felt a blinding pain in his head. Moaning in agony, he clutched his sword and hung fast to his saddle as his world tilted.
Between the ear-splitting thunderclaps there came a cry from the prince, “Raven!” His vision blurred, Raven rubbed the rain from his eyes only to see the prince being led away. As long as he lived, if he did, he would never forget the terror on the boy’s face, and he would never forgive himself for failing. I will be by ye side, mocked him as he tried to remain in the saddle.
Lightning streaked across the sky and rain pelted down like stones blinding him momentarily. Never had he witnessed Mother Nature in such a rage. His war horse whinnied, side-stepped and turned in circles panicking. Steadying himself atop his mount, Raven knew he had to follow. A stabbing pain in his temple was excruciating and his head pained as if he had drunk a keg of mead, but he charged forward, no longer hearing the prince’s cries.
How had this happened? Who knew that he was bringing the prince to his father? There had to be a traitor in his regiment. But who? Every man lay dead in the muddy ground, blood flowed through the cracks in the mud like spider veins. He raised his fist towards the heavens, cursing the gods! He had failed to keep his promise; he was a disappointment to himself, the king and his ward. Raven had to try to catch up to the attackers no matter what. Racing along the forest trail with lightning flashing all around, Samson jumped over a fallen tree. His body seemed to be lifted from his horse. He thought himself delirious because he could swear he was floating upwards, as if he were being transported to another dimension. Then his body slammed against something and Raven fell back to earth. He never felt himself hit the ground.
You find yourself in an alien world. You don't have any memory of how you got there. All you know is that you live in fear of the other inhabitants. Some are vicious and others benign. All you have left are the memories you brought with you. Surviving becomes the only thing you have to look forward to.
Demons are everywhere but they may be just as confused as you
Infant, Angelica St. James, left at an orphanage is befriended by an Indian boy,
Red Feather, who himself was abandoned eight years earlier. At the age of three, Angelica’s adopted
and vows never to stop adoring Red Feather. At eighteen she searches for Red Feather only to find him bitter,
and angry, hating all white people.
Many characters in this book have accents and or different speech patterns. The author has attempted to illustrate this phonically. These are not spelling errors
In the multi-verse there exists those that would tamper with the realities of your world. They have the technology to change everything and anything. They even get to decide if you were ever born. They are a nasty sort with out a speck of compassion×
Over sized view screens hung everywhere. The technicians floated over their input devices with an air of mystique as the evening participants filed into the room. The smiling was overwhelming. It looked like it would be a fantastic day.
"Gentlemen I would like to give you some background details,” the moderator said in a soft voice. "The history of this particular planet is not unique. However, the extremes they've taken it to are. I'll give you the basic list, and we will come back to the rest a little later."
“This presentation deals with the planet Aerrasop in galaxy 1136 19 K 4. The planet seems to have about 100,000 years of evolution for the bipedal. It is safe to say it has been stagnant for the last 90,000 years. This is a result of the caste system that is in place. The caste system is stringent once born into a caste; there is no way out of it. The caste system breaks down into four separate groups, which are as follows.”
“Primary caste system or lower caste, approximately 65% of Aerrasop’s population fits into this caste. The Primary Caste is the low-end labor force; they have extreme beliefs in a God system. They always hope to improve themselves, but are unaware that there is no way out. Intelligence is very low and maintained genetically by the Echelon Caste.
Mid Caste system or middle caste, makes up approximately 20% of the population is in this caste. This is the working caste given the meager ability to make an inadequate living. They have minor beliefs in a God system. Most realize that they are stuck in this caste and merely accept their place in life.
Upper caste system or upper caste, approximately 14% of the population fits into this caste. This is a non-working caste. They are born with money and very few have illusions about the world. They strive to achieve nothing. Their life is a tedious boredom, and the suicide rate is extremely high in this caste.
The remaining 1% of the population are born into Echelon caste, the highest caste system. They are a lot more than just the ruling caste. They control absolutely everything and have no moral code to speak of. Every action they take is justified by their own power with no regard for anything. This is the caste system we are going to look at more closely at little later in the presentation.
The caste system on this planet remains entrenched because it is ruled with an iron hand. Most offenses are punishable by death without appeal. From the Echelon Caste down, each has jurisdiction over the one below them.
Gentlemen, I would like everyone to proceed to the meeting room where we can review and finalize all the details of our current projections."
The club appeared lifeless as a few customers meandered about. The bartender polished the same glass for the hundredth time, his boredom an overwhelming force. He looked at the clock and muttered, "Another damn hour until the gamblers showed up, this place will never be the same."
Trish, wearing her most provocative tight-fitting costume, examined her long fingernails and hummed a mindless tune.
The bartender slammed the glass he was holding on the counter. His eyes breathed fire. He shouts, "Shut the hell up Trish. Nobody wants to hear that shit from where you used to live. You know you're only here because I pulled some strings, so you better cooperate, or it’s back to the gutters for you.”
Trish looked sheepishly at him, and stuttered, "I'm really sorry Troy, it…it…it won't happen again. I know you has done so much for me already. I'm just anxious because the last time those damn gamblers are here I didn't even get one tip. Those is the cheapest bastards I ever sees."
Troy turned away from her. He knew that he shouldn't take his frustrations out on her and besides, he really kind of liked her and the sex was just another bonus. He sighed. It was never going to be the same again; those bastards from the Echelon destroyed his business. Customers would not come here because the risk of running into one the Echelon was too high. Thanks to them, he was barely scraping by. All these thoughts ricocheted through his brain. He knew he had no solutions.
"Trish" he said, "you can't talk like that, I taught you how to speak properly, and if you don't speak correctly we could both get in trouble. You know if somebody finds out you are from the lower caste, you will have to go back there."
"But Troy you know that God is the one that help me to get this job with you, and He's protecting us cause, He loves us so much. He would never let you get into trouble for helping me," she said with conviction.
"There is no damn God Trish! Even if he exists, all he would be is an evil prick," mumbled Troy.
Trish sat down and closed her eyes. She started remembering her childhood. The filth was everywhere. She lived with her mother, two brothers and two sisters in a small one-room apartment with electricity for only six hours a day and there was never enough food. The wind often came through the walls and blew out the candles. Her only salvation was that she was allowed to finish school. She was quite proud of her grade six education. She remembered all the fighting and desperation that surrounded her. Their church priest had been a particular focus for her. He taught her so many things about God and she believed every word that he said. His desire for sex with small children was, as he explained to her, his way of being repaid for the knowledge that he gave. She could not possibly fault that. He said God stated it as required to enter His kingdom.
She didn't think it was a horrible childhood, mostly because she had nothing to compare it to. All of her friends had lived through the same thing. Then Troy found her. Her life immediately changed. She no longer worried about food and where she was going to sleep. She lived with him and got to sleep in his bed. Like magic, there was food in the fridge and cupboards as well as a servant to cook the meals. He was also a much better lover than the priest.
She was shaken out of her daydream by the sounds at the door.
The gamblers filed in for their solitary drink on the way to their meeting. They looked around the club with disdain. One looked at another and said, "Well this place won't be around much longer will it. We’re going to have to find a new place." The gamblers filed out almost as quickly as they appeared, perhaps a grand total of 15 minutes.×
An unwilling, Lady Adria deLambert, on her way to wed Prince Lionel deFitz Holden, is involved in an accident.
Her coach hits a peasant girl who can pass for her sister. Seizing the opportunity to escape an arranged betrothal, the duchess with the aid of her servant, dresses the peasant in her clothes. Meanwhile at the castle, the Prince Lionel deFitz Holden has his cousin switch places also hoping to deceive the duchess.
Dragged away from her family, Joceline Walsh is bound and driven away to be brought to India for sale on the slave market.
She escapes only to be hit by a couch and with no memory of who she is, and finds herself betrothed.
The deception of both parties leads to heartache, jealousy and attempted murder.
Liphar on Literature, Photography and Art
Still hanging in there campers? I hope so, because Liphar Magazine has been traversing with a mix of stimulating material in this energized issue.
Behind the Lens: Wojciech Toman with his view on HDR (High Dynamic Range) images, as opposed to "traditional" photography.
Joyce Dickens refers to her photography work as "Infused Artography" and considers herself a contemporary photographer/digital artist.
Art for Life: Carolyn Roper plunges us into the world of body painting, where this unfamiliar fantasy domain to most, is brought to reality.
Articles: Post Net Fiction, states literary fiction is seriously off the rails where the need to right again this once powerful and beautiful voice of real discovery and language.
Criterion of Beauty, challenges that art has no exact science of the beautiful and pleasurable; it just makes us more human with our own rational freedom.
Scrazzle, the new kid on the block, which seeks to invade Twitter territory by one upping what Twitter offers.
Thought Food: Advent of belief, where the real question is, why do you believe what you do?
Stories: A Game of Cards, where two ghosts sit at a square granite table and one says, "I am starting to think this ghost business isn’t all you made it out to be."
Maladjusted A twisted tale
MOO, "To believe in dreams is a manifestation of insanity." Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971)
Trains by the River, why did Hamlet trouble about ghosts after death, when life itself is haunted by ghosts is so much more terrible? Chekhov, Notebooks, 1892-1904
Wojciech Toman, a 27-year-old landscape and HDR (High Dynamic Range) photographer from Warsaw, Poland enlightens us in an interview. His stance on HDR is more of a realistic approach than ‘traditional’ photography, because it allows images to be created with a dynamic range that is closer to reality. Love or hate it!
Two of the most innovative and influential American photography masters of 20th century photography, Ansel Adams and Edward Weston inspired Joyce Dickens to pick up a camera. She refers to her work as "Infused Artography" and considers herself a contemporary photographer/digital artist.
With major industry awards, a double World Body Painting Champion and recognised as one of the best body artists in the world today, Carolyn Roper plunges us into the world of body painting. Where seeing is believing with her images in an interview, this unfamiliar domain to most, fantasy is brought to reality.
Blake January is escorting a young slave dealer to a fort when a young, feisty kid, Casey Walsh attempts to free his prisoner and fails.
When Blake discovers the kid is a pretty girl, and the sister of his prisoner, he must now deal with two unwanted people.
But, as Blake journey’s to the fort, he cannot ignore the attraction he feels for Casey. At the fort, Casey manages to free her
brother from the brig and they head west only to be captured by Apache Indians. Casey and her brother are accepted by the tribe
because of a white woman, called Moon Glow.
After Blake discovers them gone, he’s adamant about finding Casey because she had captured his heart and than made a fool out of
him. On his travels, Blake is accused of killing a prostitute and jailed and has to wait until the circuit judge arrives for his trial.
Luckily, the murderer is caught and he continues on his quest. When, he arrives at the Indian village, Casey isn’t happy to see him,
fearing he has come to recapture her brother.
This leads to the sequel, Star Gazer
Book 1- Blue Thunder
This is book 2 in the series
Book 3 - Star Gazer×
The urgent command shocked the dead of the night. The sound of horse hooves beat upon the sleeping earth like a tom-tom, waking all creatures and a young Cassandra Walsh. But she only half listened, as she struggled with her semi-conscience.
“Casey!” This time there was no mistaking the truth. She was being summoned and she came awake with a jolt. At first, she thought perhaps she was dreaming; the mind can work strangely when suspended in sleep. Struggling with real and imagined images, she shook her head trying to calm the wild beating of her heart. Dream or not, something was wrong. Born with an uncanny sixth sense of knowing when anything bad was going to happen, spasms of alarm erupted within her and she swallowed the terror that rose in her throat.
She heard it again. “Casey!” The familiar voice was urgent; a warning bell rang in her brain. Now fully awake, her mind instantly recognized her father’s voice that ripped the night, sending a chill up her spine. He was not at home, but she had heard him as clear as if he were in the room. Quickly, she slipped on a cotton robe. With shaking hands, she clutched it together and ran from her room, through the small cabin to the front door.
For a moment, she hesitated before throwing open the weather-beaten barrier. The damp night air chilled her immediately as she peered into the darkness. The wind picked up the moment she stepped onto the rickety porch; an owl hooted, making her jump. Her long hair whipped around her face and she shivered more from her uneasy feeling than the night air. Frustrated because she couldn’t see past the large pine trees, she went inside and returned to her room feeling her heart tighten as if a web was being woven snugly around it. Trying to sleep was useless; her mind was filled with anxiety, half in anticipation and half in dread.
A coyote howled for its mate in the distance made her feel more isolated.
Many long minutes passed. Casey paced the floor until she heard a horse’s whinny outside the cabin. Her head snapped up and her heart raced as she listened to the footsteps before her bedroom door flew opened. She stood frozen in time.
Her father nearly fell into her room. His was panting and gasping, clutching his chest, as he took in deep breaths of air. Despite her fears, she felt a moment of relief and awful joy. “Father?” she gasped, going quickly to his side. “What happened? What’s wrong? Where’s Hunter?”
Her mind was in turmoil; part of her dreaded his answer. Part of her suspected she should be frightened to hear it but she needed to. Her father was covered with mud and acting like the devil himself was chasing him. Her hands trembled as she led her father to the bed. Her relief was short-lived and she wanted her questions answered, but he needed tending. His breathing was uneven and labored, telling her he’d been riding long and hard. She feared for her brother also. Where was he?
“Get dressed child,” her father ordered with a gasp of breath. “I’ve no time to explain.”
“Now!” The command was blunt and to the point, but his voice lacked strength.
Casey wanted to question him again, but she bit back tears of frustration; she had to obey him and believe that it must be important for them to leave in such a hurry. She would find out later and prayed that her brother was all right. Quickly, she dressed, remembering the last time she and Hunter fled into the night, they were running from Union soldiers. She was sure this was the case again.
Once more, she donned her brother’s clothes, something she took to doing a long time ago. With no mother to scold her into wearing dresses and since she did most of the chores, she found boys clothes more comfortable. Anyway, who saw her deep in the woods? She never recalled living anywhere except in the wilderness, even when her mother was alive.
“Oh, mama,” she sobbed, “I wish you were here. Maybe papa wouldn’t be on the run all the time.” She shrugged to herself. The truth was, even her mother couldn’t change him; he was always doing something that got him into trouble. She was sure it was this kind of life that killed her mother at an early age. Inhaling deeply, she wondered if her mother could have kept her brother from following in her father’s footsteps. She frowned and swore unladylike under her breathe. Probably not.
“Hurry up, girl!” she heard him bellow from outside. She shoved her long golden hair under her hat, grabbed her rifle, then ran. Her father was waiting for her and had her horse, Sadie, saddled.
Once again, she asked as she mounted Sadie. “Where’s Hunter?”
“No time to explain,” he grumbled. His eyes warning her that this was no moment for stubbornness.
Casey swung her mount around and they fled into the darkness, riding hard all night. Although she was an excellent rider and could keep up with any man, her backside was quite sore. Her spine ached and her legs were beginning to chafe. It had been a while since she spent time in the saddle and her aches were reminding her of that fact. By morning she was thirsty, sore and chilled to the bone from the drizzle that had started shortly before dawn. The country was remote and calm, a far cry from her own emotions; her insides were in a whirlwind. They had to stop soon, for the horses couldn’t continue at that pace. Finally, her father stopped at a stream where they, their mounts drank and rested.
Marcus believed they were safe now, but the pain in his left arm was getting worse. How could he tell his daughter that they had been ambushed? That her brother was probably captured or maybe dead? He had barely escaped himself. After he had hightailed away, he was sorry for dragging the boy into his dealings. He prayed he’d not find his son’s dead body. He had seen the boy fall from his horse; never would he forgive himself. Never! His self-chastising was a little late but he had to try and save Hunter.
It was time to explain to his daughter the facts. He felt the weight of her gaze on him, as he turned to see confusion and fear written all over her lovely face. There was such prettiness about her, innocence, but his daughter was by no means a novice of life. For her it had been a hard one and it was entirely his fault. He swallowed his sad thoughts. It was too late for regrets.
“All right,” Casey said. She sat on her haunches after taking her fill of water. “Let’s hear it, pop.”
Marcus sat wearily on the damp ground knowing in his aching heart that his feisty daughter wasn’t going to like it one bit. He couldn’t fault her and once again he blamed himself that Hunter was in danger, maybe dead. If only his wife, Maisie was still alive, but wishing didn’t make things right. He sighed, wiping his beaded brow with a damp bandanna; he was getting too old for this. Once more he had promised himself and his dead wife that this was going to be the last time. Marcus realized too late that he should have left Hunter home, but the boy was a man and had insisted on coming along. He dreaded telling his daughter the truth. Damnation, he was tired and not feeling very well. Unconsciously, he rubbed his sore arm and let out a big belch.
He saw Casey’s beautiful face. It undulated before him and he blinked seeing his Maisie sitting by his side. How beautiful she was. How he missed touching the long blonde hair that had a texture like woven silk. Her soft topaz eyes held so much love for him; she could see no wrong with them. Oh, how he loved her.
“Maisie,” he gasped and tried to fill his lungs with the air they begged for.
“Papa?” A flicker of apprehension coursed through Casey, assuming that she wasn’t about to like what he was going to tell her. She watched her father curiously; he didn’t look good. His skin had a funny hue to it and he was sweating profusely. His clear blue eyes were red and watery and void of emotion, something she’d never seen before. She wondered how he had aged so much, for he looked much older than forty-five. His hair was the color of pewter and thin, like wisps of clouds. “Papa.” She was beside him now. He seemed to be staring into space. “Papa?” she bit her lower lip not understanding what was happening. Why was he calling her by her mother’s name? She put her arm quickly around him and his head fell onto her shoulder. “Oh, Papa. What’s happening with you? What happened to Hunter?”
“Hunter,” her brother’s name was but a whisper on his dry lips. He fell over taking her with him. Terrified, she cried and struggled to right them both. “Papa? Please tell me.”
The moon cast an eerie glow making her father’s irises gleam like glassy rock full of remorse and remoteness. She saw that he had trouble breathing and she began to grasp the fact that he might be suffering a heart attack!
“I deserve to die, but not my son,” he rasped above a whisper.
“Please, papa,” she tugged at his shirt, uncaring how rough she was. His gaze was icy and unresponsive and she shook him, screaming at him to answer her. His mouth took on an unpleasant twist and she began to sob frantically. She hardly heard the gurgle in his throat but she did hear him whisper Hunter’s name again. She stopped herself from crying and put her ear to his mouth.
“Hunter,” he rasped, “was caught by the abolitionist.” That was all he said.
Casey sat dazed for a long time before she let out a bloodcurdling scream in the unfamiliar surroundings, then she reached out and clutched his hand before collapsing onto her father’s dead body. She wept like she had when her mother died.
Much later, when her tears were gone and her throat was raw, she lifted her dazed body from her father’s and walked over to his horse to retrieve a tin cup from his saddlebag. It took hours for her to dig a shallow grave. Her hands bled from torn fingernails while her shoulders and back ached from fatigue and labor. She ignored the pain and numbness in her legs from kneeling on the hard ground, as she mustered her last strength and pulled the heavy body into the grave. She covered him with dirt and rocks to protect him from wild animals. Then and only then, she fell into an exhausted sleep. Somewhere between the dimension of sleep and wakefulness, she heard the chirping of a bird. In her sleepy mind she was back home and she stretched feeling rested but sore as hell. The pain in her body brought her fully awake only to recall her horror once again. Her eyelids slowly opened only to be greeted by a gray dawn. A fitting companion for her state of mind.
Tears formed anew in her eyes. She moaned and dragged herself to the lake to splash cold water on her sleep-crusted eyes. That refreshed her somewhat. She studied the sore blisters on her hands and recalled the pain of yesterday’s events all over again. But there would be no crying now. Some bitterness towards her father erupted when she recalled the past week before this nightmare. How long had her father been selling slaves? She was ashamed and loved him in one heartbeat. The memory of how she had begged her father and brother not to go was still vivid in her mind. Why did Hunter insist on joining this time? He was not yet seventeen and all ready in trouble, if not dead. And she, only eighteen, was now left alone to fend for herself, but she could manage. Hadn’t she had been doing it all every time her father went away for long periods? Even taking care of her younger brother wasn’t a hardship.
Casey sighed, thinking of Hunter, knowing she had to find out if he was still alive. Her father said he was captured, not killed, so there was hope. But could she find him before something dreadful happened to him? Abolitionists did not take pity on the slave dealers they captured. She tried to think of better times, when her mother was alive, when she and her brother played near the woods. Although, times had always been hard and though they were very poor, she never complained. Her mother had been very beautiful but as time went on, the hardship took its toll; she grayed prematurely and her thin body didn’t stand as straight as it had when she was younger.
Her mother was an educated woman who had lived in Boston. Her family was well-to-do. Her father met her when he went to visit a cousin and it was love at first sight. Maisie’s family hadn’t been happy, especially when her father brought her south to live in the wilderness. His ambition was to farm. At first, the land was prosperous until a drought destroyed all their dreams and it went from bad to worse. He did anything he could to keep his family from starving. Then the bickering started and her mother became ill, but up to her last days, she tutored her children from the books she had brought with her from home. Now it was all gone. Casey almost laughed at that notion. She really didn’t lose anything of value except her brother.
No, she scolded herself, he has to be alive.×
A collection of 7 short stories about twisted worlds. Life is portrayed in the best and the worst that the universe has to offer.
Seven different stories that deal with human and non human alike
Is greed the same everywhere
Are all politicians ruthless
The happy endings only seem to happen in myths
When the heroes don't survive you know the universe is in for a rough ride