Sometime Later…

Cedar walks slowly into the club, and peers into the dimly lit corners. Not seeing anyone, she taps on the microphone with a fingertip.

“Is this thing on? Um… Sarah says she’ll be a bit late with the workshop. In the meantime, shall we play in the comments with dialogue and scene setting?”

She smiles at the unseen audience, the footlights in her eyes, and wanders back offstage.


  1. OK, I’ll bite.
    “Marguerite Thomasina Antonia deSarm stop that at once!”

    Marta dropped the sticky bun and clasped her hands behind her back as Mistress Elko bore down on her. The older woman grabbed Marta’s arm and dragged her out of the baking house, almost wrenching her arm out at the shoulder and leaving bruises. The twelve-year-old wanted to cry, but she knew better: tears only enraged Mistress Elko even more.

    “Greedy little brat, you know better than to go near the kitchens,” and she shook Marta. “Godown will turn those sweets into worms in your stomach and you know it.”

    They never turn to worms on holy days, the girl thought at her senior maid, but only thought. Even though she was Geoff deSarm’s daughter, heir to all the deSarm family lands, and about to be married to Martin Berlin, the second son of the Count of Louven, Sarah Elko still had no compunction about whipping Marta into compliance. Small for her age, Marta’s attempts at fighting back brought only more pain. Complaints to her father led to temporary respites, but nothing long lasting. Marta whispered silently, When I’m married, I’ll eat everything I want, go where I want, wear what I want, and have my husband beat you until you know what it feels like, you ugly old hag.

    “Those are for your wedding guests, not for you. If you make your father look stingy, both he and your husband will have every right to punish you.” Marta knew the next part of the lecture by heart. “A woman’s place is to be an ornament to her father and husband’s families, to bear strong children and to provide a clean, soothing, and sheltered home for her husband and children.”

    From “Peaks of Grace”

  2. From a spot in the back dark clothes separate from dark shadows as Eamon shifts in the booth. His piercing eyes sweep over the now empty stage. The silence has grown heavy, perhaps ominous.

    Turning to his companion he says, “Who’s a good doggie! Are you? Huh? You wanna go chase the ball? You do? Okay! Get the ball! Go get it!”

    Rising from the booth he ambles into the darker corners and is gone.

  3. I wrote a series of short stories, scenes of home life, from the perspective of Sally, a rhesus monkey who bit my mother on the leg one afternoon in 1956. Not a lot of dialogue, since the stories are in the form of letters written by Sally to her best friend Bebe (my mother). I think they are hilarious, but none of the agents I’ve submitted them to agree.

  4. TXRed beat me in with a more legitimate scene, so I guess I’ll post a bit I did specifically to work on dialogue and scene. It’s kinda long, sorry:

    One afternoon, her training evaluations done for the day, Andi sat on the common behind the Ranch house. This was a big space, maybe two hundred yards by four or five hundred, completely level and covered in a soft drought resistant grass, bordered in the East by barracks row and on the West by the gymnasium and natatorium. Most days found the common lightly sprinkled with dogs (though rarely with dog messes, they learned very quickly, maybe from the wolves, to take their business into the surrounding scrub) and today was a normal day. So while she threw a tennis ball for Whiskey, her red merle Aussie, she was also an object of interest for two to ten other dogs who’d stop by to say hello.
    Seth ‘One Ball’ McTierney found her surrounded by happy dogs with her head thrown back in a big laugh, trying to find a path clear of lolling tongues to throw the ball. She found an opening and pitched it left toward the gym and zoom! they were off. Whiskey had his eyes locked on the ball, intent; most of the others were either chasing him or running just ‘cause they could.
    Seth plopped down beside her while they were gone, and when they came trotting back they surrounded him in his own compliment of wagging tails and panting tongues, including his own brindle Boxer, No Ball.
    “The word is, your training is about done” Seth said as Andi tossed the ball in a high arc. “And that you’re acing it. Some of your firearms quals are faster than the average wolf”. He sounded quietly impressed, wer-wolves were just naturally fast, and they had generally good hand-eye coordination. They were created as a combat species, after all. While Andi wasn’t threatening any of the top wolf scores, she wasn’t stuck at the bottom, either.
    “I did know which end was the dangerous one when I got here, you know.” Andi said. “My dad taught me to shoot as soon as I could hold the pistol up long enough to hit the target, and I shot in competition all through high school. Plus, that whole Marine thing.” She shrugged.
    “We’ve got other Marines. They’re not sweeping the scores.” Seth pointed out.
    “Yeah…I’m pretty good.” She grinned. “But the real shocker for all you fellas is that the little history geek even knows how to make it go bang, right?” Andi said with lightly mocking sarcasm.
    Seth just laughed. “Oh, I don’t think anybody’s thought of you as a history geek since the second day. Maybe the third day, there was that little lecture on small unit tactics in Vietnam…”
    “It was relevant to the discussion at hand!”
    “Yeah, maybe.” He said.
    “Relevant.” She grumbled under her breath, then she went on more clearly, “Anyway, I was good coming in, and Phil’s probably the best coach I’ve ever seen. The guy is fantastic! Helped me tighten up my groups a hair, loosened up my posture, we’re working on some footwork and hip movements tomorrow morning. I’ve improved more in a month than I have in a couple of years!”
    Seth nodded “No one will argue there. Rear Diff knows his shooting.”
    “Rear Diff? I haven’t heard that? What gives?” She cocked her head and looked at him, then had to throw the ball again to keep from being mobbed.
    Seth watched it sailing away, fur-gaggle in pursuit. “How long’s he going to do that?” He asked.
    “Who, Whiskey? He’ll chase that ball until my arms cramp up, if I let him. And then he’ll start bringing it to you.” She said. “Now, back to the subject, give on the Rear Diff bit, One Ball.”

  5. Two steps out of the lee of the frost wall, seventy-klik winds slapped Marcus with a face full of ice grit.

    “Bloody HELL!” He slapped his mittened hands to his stinging eyes and spat out a longer string of curses, but the wind snatched the words away and flung them across the glacial plain. When the pain subsided he straightened and tugged his new goggles down over his tear-soaked lashed.

    Two hundred meters away, at the edge of the station’s runway, Lomoni stood staring back at the housing complex. A neon orange multiwrench dangled from one hand and the Petrel’s storm shield snapping in the wind. Marcus snugged his hood cords tighter then raised a hand to wave re-assuringly at the senior engineer. Lomoni waved in gruff acknowledgement and turned back to the deadlined hovercat.

    Marcus sighed, eyed the orange ball a hands width above the horizon, and slung the tool kit higher on his shoulder. “Welcome back to purgatory, sinnerman. Welcome back.”

    1. I like this a lot. Evocative imagery, right to the action. There’s a little tense confusion “A neon orange mutiwrench dangled… Petrel’s storm shield snapping“, but other than that, really well done.

      1. Danki muchly! Re-reading it, I also see too many repeated words, and a few other things I would tweek. But thanks much for the feedback.

    2. Hello Keranih,
      Your hook is well set. I wanna keep reading to figure out why Marcus is in such an icy purgatory and why he calls himself a ‘sinnerman’. Has he condemned himself for a paycheck or is something more sinister going on?

      Quick question: Did you meant to say/type “tear-soaked lashes” instead of “lashed” at the end of your second paragraph?

      Happy Writing,

      1. SheBear – Thanks! Yes, that is a typo.

        >>>why he calls himself a ‘sinnerman’

        …I have no clue. He has not told me yet. 🙂

  6. “I’ve been researching myself,” she said, curled in my arms, a vague pale shape in the darkness, “who I used to be. I’ve looked at pictures of myself, back then. I wasn’t pretty, James. I wasn’t pretty, and I wanted to be, more than anything. I can’t remember what that felt like. I know that I hated how I looked, but I look at that girl and I don’t think she’s ugly. Not now. Who I am now could love who I was then. I just… had to turn into somebody else to do it.”

    She shifted against me, warm and soft and smooth. “I realize that who I am becoming now, the way my mind is changing, that’s not as big a change as when I changed from who I was then.” Her voice rose at the end of that sentence, not quite a question, but a request for acknowledgment that I understood.

    I nodded in the darkness, then followed it up with an affirmative grunt.

    She fell silent then, for a long time, long enough that I thought that she had fallen asleep, and I was nearly asleep myself.

    Then, very softly, she asked, “Whose side are you on, James? Ours or theirs?”

    But she didn’t explain who we or they were, and I didn’t know. I pretended to be asleep, and before to much longer it was true.

  7. I remember the rain on the night she found me. I was huddled in a door stoop, not thinking, not moving, listening to the lull of the raindrops when she touched my shoulder.
    I spun around, and would have hit her, but she jumped back fast enough to avoid me.
    “I’m sorry,” she said. “I didn’t mean to frighten you.”
    The words saved her, although she didn’t realize it then. It had been so long since I had heard a friendly voice that I just sat back and shook my head.
    She stood silhouetted by the orange glow of the street lights, holding an umbrella easily. “It’s just that you’re sitting in front of my door, and you look like you could use a good meal.”
    I almost laughed. A good meal? She stood in the rain and offered me food. I was pretty far gone at that point, but the irony made for bitter humor.
    She reached over me and put her key in the lock. Her wrist glowed white and smooth. “Please come inside,” she said, opening the door, then stepping back.
    I just stared at her. The air behind me was dry, with a mustiness that teased my memory, but it was just a tangent to this woman who invited death into her home. I managed to stand, using the door jamb for support, feeling my knees creak with stiffness. I crossed the threshold with a lurch, stopping just inside, disoriented by the cleanliness and order radiating all around me.
    She switched on the light, causing me to blink in momentary blindness. The first thing I saw when my vision cleared was a large crucifix on the wall. The second thing I saw was my hostess, shaking out her umbrella, and wearing a habit.
    I might have stumbled right back out the door. Perhaps I should have. But she closed it even as I watched, and turned to me with calm eyes.
    “My name is Sister Angela,” she said. She could see some of my shock, I suppose, because she asked, “Didn’t you know you were leaning against a church?”

  8. He stepped from the black cave, shadows seeming to cling to his marble-pale skin like rags off a corpse. The call to gather had awakened him, and roused more than consciousness. The hunger gnawing at his belly was nearly overwhelming, but Miska had responsibilities, to his annoyance.

    “Get up,” he snapped at his sister, still curled up in the darkness behind him. A sleepy mutter was his reply. “It’s time to feast, and they won’t wait for you, you know that.”

    Sarna raised her head and stared at her brother with red eyes. “I know, but I still don’t like hearing the screams. It always puts me off. They sound almost like one of us.”

    Miska snorted. “They aren’t like us. They are food. Stop being foolish. There won’t be any left for us if you dawdle.”

    “I’m not,” Sarna grumbled as she slunk out of the cave which was their resting place. “I just wish we had food that wasn’t screaming.” She turned her red eyes down the slope at a terror-shrill shriek. “See? So noisy. I’d like to eat my meal in peace for a change.”

    “They’re best fresh,” Miska replied as he loped down the slope toward the feasting ground. With a sigh his sister followed and they soon glimpsed the stones where they would perch while feeding.

    “Maybe we should try finding a way to silence them first,” Sarna said as she caught up to her brother, only to realize he wasn’t trying to grab a bite. She cast her red eyed gaze forward. “What’s the-” she broke off, her voice failing her.

    Their kin lay, pale limbs and bodies jumbled and broken, red fangs bared in silent howls, blood as black as night dripping from the moonlit stones. A dark figure loomed tall above them, long silvery knives gleaming at its sides. As Sarna watched, the figure turned toward them. Male, she registered, from the scent. Food, but not food…?

    “You missed these,” the figure said, addressing something neither Sarna nor her brother could see.

    “They came late,” said a female voiced food from behind them. “It’s not a problem.”

    There was a strange, musical hissing sound, the glimpse of something thin and metallic gleaming in the moon, and Miska just fell apart next to her, into pieces that collapsed onto the leafy ground, like a mushroom that had been crushed under her feet. Sarna opened her mouth to scream, but there was a pain in her chest, and the taste of her blood filled her mouth so much she couldn’t make a sound. Numb, she looked down to see a silver blade pushing out of her chest, between her pale breasts. There was an icy pain across her neck, like a cold breath of air, and her eyes seemed to be rushing to the ground suddenly -!

    “Well, that’s one nest of vampires that won’t be plaguing this region any more,” the male food said. “Let’s go get our reward.”

    The food reached down and grabbed her hair, her head, and lifted it to look in her eyes.

    The last thing she saw were green eyes that weren’t filled with fear.

Comments are closed.