Tales of the Storage Space, Part 65

Edward had not thought it possible.  Neither all his long, weary years upon the stage, nor his far longer and wearier years being dead, could have rendered such an event an even remotely believable plot development.  Yet here he was shifting his thoroughly fixated, lover’s gaze from the lovely maiden Karen…she who had so consistently reminded him of a long-lost summer’s day…to the face of a woman in her 70s!

Edward scoffed.  He persisted with undoubtedly protesting far too much.  He imagined strutting and fretting his hour upon the stage, until this escape proved futile, since whatever remained of his venerable old stage was most thoroughly, one might even say most noisily, enraptured by this old hag…whose admittedly beautiful voice Edward had done all possible to ignore.

Finally Edward felt most decidedly forced to look this woman in her 70s full in the face.

It was fortunate, profoundly providential, that, being dead, Edward no longer needed lungs that could still breathe or a heart that wasn’t stunned to a sudden full stop.  “But thy eternal summer shall not fade!”  Unlike Edward, what stood before him was no ghost but the living, breathing, one true love of both his life and death.  For all his Shakespearean elegance and incessant verbosity, he was…for the very first time in either life or death…silenced.

Still, after a very long time of pure childlike wonder and thoroughly unbridled joy, some tiny little voice within him did the math at about the same time another little voice noted that those were not his true love’s lips, after all, but rather, miraculously and unmistakably, his own.

Switzerland!  Where he’d sought in vain to find his love so very long ago, but also where women in the theatre often went when…

All those uncharacteristic complaints before she left for Switzerland about the costume department making her gowns too tight…

She hadn’t abandoned him for another lover, she’d…

But suddenly something yanked Edward back to the present, and even the revelation that this present included what must be his own…granddaughter?…wasn’t enough to keep him from shuddering along with the rest of the building.  Both the lovely maiden Karen and his elderly granddaughter looked up startled and struggled to maintain their footing.  A line from The Tempest, “Hell is empty and all the devils are here,” rang through Edward’s mind over and over again.  For the thing that had yanked Edward back to the present seemed myriad, so insidiously evil that even Shakespeare couldn’t sufficiently capture it, and…like Edward himself…was no longer alive.

Tales of the Storage Space, Part 64

Karen stared in abject horror at the homeless woman who’d brought up the police investigation into Martin’s murder. When one of Karen’s hands hit the counter that separated them so hard she couldn’t help a yelp of pain, she realized how much both hands were shaking and hid them under the counter, hoping against hope that the homeless woman wouldn’t see how terrified she was.

The homeless woman reached across the counter to hold her up by the elbows. “I’m so very sorry to have upset you so by bringing it up!”

That voice, the most beautiful Karen had ever heard, now deep with emotion… It was such a powerful voice that Karen’s whole body reverberated with the sound of it and, even more remarkable, Karen was momentarily stunned out of her agonized conviction that, no matter what, she had to protect Frank from being discovered as Martin’s murderer. “You,” Karen stuttered, “you must be…must have been…an actress?”

“No, not I…” The homeless woman replied, then stopped suddenly, apparently puzzled.

Karen was struck by an odd hush akin to an abrupt change in air pressure.

Now the homeless woman was looking around at the interior of the storage space, as if seeing it for the first time.

Karen imagined a whisper, something about holding its breath, if only a building could hold its breath.

“But…” The homeless woman’s face contorted oddly, as if thinking of something for the very first time, “Perhaps…” Now she looked caught between wonder and embarrassment over her own foolishness. “My grandmother.” The wonder and a tentative tone of conviction won, as she continued to look around at the storage space, reminding Karen of an actress scouring her audience for affirmation.

Karen felt something else reverberate through her entire body in reaction to this, along with a torrent of memories that couldn’t possibly be her own since they all involved theatre in the 19th century. The building beneath her seemed to sway under the impact of this revelation. But now Karen shook herself free of all this to concentrate on the one thing that was really important: protecting Frank.

Frank! The next torrents of memories to wash over Karen weren’t those of her imaginary playmate, the building, but her very own. She physically fell back at the onslaught, seeming to remember all at once each and every time he’d made love to her, and would have fallen over backwards if the homeless woman hadn’t steadied her. Frank: his eyes, his smile, every word he ever spoke, and even that horrible scar on his face that she couldn’t help loving as much as all the rest. With all the subtlety of two galaxies colliding, she realized how very much it didn’t matter what he’d done…not to Martin, certainly not with her best friend Marie. A threat to his life was far worse than a threat to her own.

“What I came here about can wait. You need to sit down. Let me use some of the medical supplies I took from the crazy man’s house to treat your wounds.”

It was the homeless woman. A potential threat to Frank. Beautiful voice or not.

Tales of the Storage Space, Part 63

Martin felt the sheet peeled back so someone could run their fingers over his naked hip.  “Mo chuisle!” exclaimed a voice that literally throbbed with emotion and was deep enough to be a man’s…though something told Martin it was a woman.

Martin bolted out of bed.  “Ma…cushla?” was the best he could do at repeating words that had obviously been in a foreign language.

But it had only been the girl from the plane with her fingers now frozen midair over where his hip had just been.  Her face flushed a deep red before she turned away and mumbled, “You…must have been dreaming.”

He shuddered violently but looked around, relaxing as he took inventory and checked everything off on his mental list:  Same bed.  Same bay window.  Same blue sky, green grass, and sidewalk that wasn’t pink.  Another airplane, not even remotely resembling a bloody dragon, roared overhead.  He checked around the room:  something strange there, like everything looked too new to be scattered about as if she’d lived there forever…but nothing was undulating.

No, he wasn’t doomed to chronic flashbacks of drug-induced hallucinations.  Mum and dad were both wrong.  As usual.  Brilliant!  He could feel his own smile.  And smell…the coffee?

“Vanilla latte…Randolph?”

Martin all but snatched it out of her hand, only pausing to caress the Starbuck’s logo before upending it.  “Absolutely scrummy!”

“Glad you like it.”  She stretched out naked beside him.  Was it his imagination, or did she intentionally display herself such that the light from the bay window accentuated every curve.  “You…seem to do a lot of dreaming…Randolph.”

Randolph?  Oh, right.  Randolph Barclay.  Now he could feel his face fall.  Getting laid was all well and good and had at least put a roof over his head temporarily.  But for how long?  And what was he supposed to do for money?  Not to mention phony ID.

Soft fingers traced delicate patterns along his thigh.  “Troubling dreams, Randolph?  You might feel better if you talked about it.  Then we can get back to having fun…”

His dick jumped, but then lay still.  Talk about it?  Tell someone else about the whole bloody mess, including killing Frank, and be able to explain how it was really self-defense?  For a moment he felt a very different kind of yearning.

She must have seen it.  She sat up and wrapped her arms around him.  Her voice was velvet.  “Can I tell you a story?”

“Oh, right.  Yeah, sure.”

She snuggled up closer.  “I once knew a guy who found himself in a position where he had to do something really bad.”

Martin had been fiddling with the bed sheets, but he stopped at that and sighed.  “Poor chap.”

She snuggled up even closer.  “Know what his mistake was?  He kept it to himself.”

“If it was really bad…”

“I know what you’re thinking.  And, yes, he could have faced Invol Manslaughter or even Murder 2.  But not everyone would have ratted him out.”

“Better safe than bloody sorry.”

She ran her fingers over his shoulder.  “Except that didn’t account for what doing something like that does to a person’s mind.  Ever read Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The Telltale Heart’?”

“But that chap deserved discovery!  And he’d really lost the plot.”

“Justifiable or not, normally sane or not, doing certain things poses a well-documented threat to a person’s sanity.  And what better way to go insane than to keep it to yourself?”

Martin’s head spun.  He remembered his dreams, especially the one where he found himself frying up pieces of Karen to eat.  He remembered pink sidewalks and dinosaurs sleeping in his garden.  He knew with something akin to a thud in his heart that she was right.  This girl…he didn’t even remember her name or if he’d ever been told it…obviously thought he was ace, positively blinding, the bee’s knees.  How much more willing would she be to house him and keep him in vanilla lattes if she knew his story and what he was up against?  Still, he had to be daft, a damp squib of the first water, to trust his life to a bloody one-night stand.  But he couldn’t resist turning toward her, his face undoubtedly an open book to all the turmoil within, and staring deep into her eyes.

At first he thought he saw cold calculation in those eyes, but they seemed to melt as she stared back at him.  Or was that just wishful thinking?  Then there seemed to be a funny look on her face:  could have been affection; could have been contempt.  He thought he caught a hint of a wry smile as her voice deepened and she asked, “Ever see that film with Clint Eastwood about the brutality of boxing?  Million Dollar Baby?”

“No,” he answered slowly.  But he’d seen plenty of violent Clint Eastwood movies and what the hell she was up to bringing up a brutal action-adventure movie when he was so obviously feeling vulnerable?

Instafreebie Group Giveaway: Science Fiction Select Few…

For my second foray with Instafreebie (while still giggling over the name), I found myself putting my old Acquisitions-Editor hat back on from when I worked for a literary agency.  Armed with that hyper-critical eye, I then waded through well over a hundred books other authors submitted to me…so you won’t have to!  Instead just click HERE and pick any and/or all (including my latest release, of course) from a hand-picked group of 20 absolute gems.

Some are complete books!  Some are previews.  All are FREE!

Below, I’m featuring the books of four authors in the group who have, so far, done the most to promote this Group Giveaway for the sake of all:

You get the whole first book for free in PATTY JANSEN’s Ambassador series!  Deftly and swiftly, her beginning shifts into high, machine-gunning intriguing clues vis a vis later reveals. One knows just enough about what’s going on to continue reading without scratching one’s head, but not enough to make the whole book a fait accompli. Quick immersion in tight, realistic action immediately promises a great read.

NEIL BUSHNELL’s Arkship Obsidian grabs you by the throat with the first word and won’t let you go.  It is, plain and simple, THE mother of all start-out-in-the-burning-building tales.  It’s the kind of read that’s so immediately engrossing that the reader risks failing to notice if a stampede of T-rexes is approaching in real life. The reader is TOLD nothing, but EXPERIENCES everything. Truly magnificent writing!

You get the whole first book free for JOE VASICEK’s Star Wanderers series.  It starts right out with a tense, interesting situation, and wonderfully diverse characters.

With PAUL STEPHENSON’s Blood on the Motorway, you also get the whole book for free!  Plus the fun of an unconventional post-apocalyptic horror story with deftly planted surprises.