Category Archives: Fiction

An Excerpt From Changeling

Changeling is still available for free download through Thursday!  If you haven’t downloaded a copy yet, here’s a taste of what you’re missing:

“ Oh, human…” the banshee sighed. “What are you trying to do?”

“You say you sing death,” Bridget pressed. “Does it have to be anybody’s death in particular?”

The banshee raised its hands and shook its hooded head.

“Human…Bridget…no. Just stop. I’ve heard this so many times before. What you want is forbidden.”

“Ah, there now, that’s an interesting thing,” Bridget said triumphantly, pointing as she always did when she had someone good and pinned down. “You tell me it’s forbidden, but nobody bothers to forbid something that can’t be done.  There’s no laws against counterfeiting by shitting gold coins, after all.”

“Bridget,” The banshee said, taking hold of the pointing hand and – not ungently – moving it away. “If I could do what you wish, not a child would die in this world as long as there was a parent left to say ‘take me instead’.”

Bridget just shook her head. “Oh, come now, what kind of fool do you take me for? Fool enough to think Old Man Death would find taking me sooner rather than later to be a deal worth making?”

“What deal are you making, then?”

Bridget grinned to herself. She had the spirit’s attention now. “This isn’t the first time you’ve been to these parts, you know. Do you remember?”

“I’ve been to all of Ireland,” The banshee answered “I remember it all, but I don’t know which part you want me to remember right now.”

“When last you were here, you sang for my husband.”

There was a long moment of silence. If the banshee had been human, Bridget would have guessed that it was stunned at being confronted by someone who’d been hurt by its work, at being forced to think of that person as someone who hurt instead of a simple singing engagement.

But it wasn’t human, now was it? Surely a creature who “sang death” couldn’t feel such things.

But sure, and didn’t that sound like a sigh that came out from under its hood before it spoke again. “Bridget, I’m sorry. I really am. But I’m afraid that doesn’t change anything.”

“I didna think it would. And there’s no need to be sorry.”

Pause.

“…what’s that again?”

“Jimmy Flanagan was a good man, God rest his soul, and I loved him.” Bridget said. “But his death was no harder than most I’ve seen – a heart attack is head and shoulders above what our Meaghan is facing right now – and my heart didn’t break when he died.”

“No?”

Bridget shook her head. “No. I loved him, but I never could love him the way other wives loved their husbands. When he took me to bed, it was doin’ me duty, not kickin’ up me heels like it is for most women at least once in a while.” She interrupted herself to shake a finger at her spectral companion. “And not because his idea of getting me ready was ‘brace yourself, Bridey’. Jimmy did the best he could, poor man.” She paused a moment then, and her eyes went very far away, and when she spoke it was much softer. “And I never knew why. Why I couldn’t love him like that, I mean…until I heard you sing, and it was like a mermaid instead of a banshee.”

The eerie blue lights within the cowl blinked, and the hooded head cocked. “What in the name of Oberon’s knickers do you mean by that?”

Bridget rolled her eyes. “Ye bewitched me, that’s what I mean. I couldn’t tear meself away. If I’d known ye would be this easy to find, I would’ve come to you on the moment.”

“Well most people don’t want to find – “ The banshee began. Then she realized what she was saying. “Are ye daft, woman?”

“Most likely,” Bridget admitted. “I certainly thought the other girls mad when they acted like I’m acting. Thought my way with my Jimmy was more sensible. Now they’re thirty years past it and I’m acting like a girl with her tits just starting to bud making calf eyes at a boy at her first dance.”

“And I’m…the boy?” The banshee asked, still struggling to understand just what this mad human was saying to her.

“You are.”

Hurry on over and pick up a free copy before it’s too late!  And as always, while you’re there, check out the rest of the library.

 

 

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Bridget and the Banshee

In honor of Changeling being available for free download from Amazon this week, MJ Barros’s marvelous work “Bridget and the Banshee” has been given its own page on my author website.

Check it out!

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Changeling Is Available For Free Now Through Thursday!

The story of love and death is now available for free download on Amazon!

The banshee are spirits of death. Some were once human; some are of the Good Folk, come up from the darkest shadows under the hill. In the end, it makes no difference. The banshee sing death, and that is the whole of it. When the banshee come singing, death follows behind, and there is no fighting it. No appeal, no bargains to be made. But tonight, Bridget Flanagan has an offer that the banshee have never heard before…

Check out Changeling‘s homepage, or just go straight to Amazon and download yourself a free copy!  And as always, while you’re there, check out the rest of the library.

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Coney Island, June 3, 2017 – Scenes from Dreams of the Boardwalk

A few weeks ago, I was visiting Coney Island on a lovely spring day, and I got some great pictures of locations that happen to be important in Dreams of the Boardwalk.  I’ve set them up on their own page on my author page.  Check it out!

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An Excerpt From The Guardian Cats Of New York City: Kodama’s Courage

The Guardian Cats of New York City: Kodama’s Courage is still available for free download through Thursday! If you haven’t downloaded a copy yet, here’s a taste of what you’re missing:

Kodama could see the Bad Thing more clearly now.  It was still a piece of night come alive, but at least it had a shape: it was smaller than a two-legs but much bigger than himself, long and narrow like a living tube, with no legs to be seen.  Its head was an evil-looking triangle that swayed on the end of a long neck, and its eyes were two stars in the absolute black.

They stared at each other for a long moment, the Bad Thing swaying, Kodama crouched and hissing.

After that moment finally passed, the Bad Thing spoke in a soft, cold voice:

“What is your business here, little child of Bast?” It said.

It didn’t speak in sounds like the two-legs, or in bodies like a cat, but ideas put into Kodama’s mind.  The Bad Thing’s body continued to sway and its mouth remained closed, but still he knew what it meant to say.

Startled, Kodama came out of his crouch for a moment and stared, his head tilted and his ears up with curiosity.  Then he remembered that this was a Bad Thing, and he went back into his crouch.

He also remembered something else.  Something from those old stories: Bast.  That was the name of the greatest of cats, the mother of all cats.  The one who had helped the Sun fight the darkness.

“Those are my two-legs in there,” Kodama squeaked.  He tried to sound fierce, but he was still just a very young cat after all, little more than a kitten, and looking into the dark stars that were the Bad Thing’s eyes, he was very, very afraid.  He tried again.

“Those are my two-legs in there,” he said. “And I know you want to hurt them!  And I won’t let you!”

“Aaaahhhh.” The word was long and drawn out, a hiss and a sigh, and it would have sounded sad if it wasn’t so cold. “What a pity.  For you see, little child of Bast, my own great mother Apep has commanded that I must bring darkness into these two humans’ lives.  And as I am commanded, so it must be.”

“Why?  Why doesn’t Apep like my two-legs?”

“Apep has no liking for any who live under the light of Ra, child of Bast.  But as to why I was sent to trouble these two in particular?  Why, no reason at all.  And that is quite the point: pointless despair, random terror.  A man too young for such things falls dead of a heart attack because that weakness comes to him from his fathers; a young woman finds herself back in the nightmare of cancer that she thought left behind many years ago.  The venom of the great serpent kills a little more of the world’s light.”

Kodama had no idea what any of that meant.  So he stuck to what he did know:

“Well, I won’t let you!”

The Bad Thing tilted its head in what seemed to be curiosity. “What do you owe these humans, little one?” it asked. “What have they given you, that you defend them so fiercely?”

For a moment, Kodama didn’t answer.  Not because he had no answer to give, but because he had too many.  Food, warmth, shelter, love…but he knew that the Bad Thing would just laugh at all of those, because Bad Things don’t understand them.  Then, suddenly, he knew the one answer that the Bad Thing would respect.

“They gave me my name!” he squeaked.

“Ahhh,” the Bad Thing said, almost sadly. “I understand the debt that places upon you.  Then I fear that must make us enemies.  What a pity.”

Hurry on over and pick up a free copy before it’s too late!  And as always, while you’re there, check out the rest of the library!

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The Guardian Cats of New York City: Kodama’s Courage Is Available For Free Now Through Thursday!

At last, we come to the final – for now – story in the Guardian Cats series.  Kodama’s Courage honors a cat I once knew.

They are still among us, hidden here and there; the cats who remember the Old Compact: you provide a home for us, feed us, take care of us in our illness, and we will protect you from the dangers of the night. They operate below the sight lines of humanity, dealing with dangers that we would never notice until it was too late. They remember the old magics of Freya, Bast and Hecate. They are the Guardian Cats.

Kodama is a young cat who lives in a quiet, peaceful neighborhood. He has heard the stories of the guardian cats and he dreams of becoming one of them, but first he must face a threat that strikes much closer to home. Something terrible has entered his quiet neighborhood, and it threatens his humans, the kindly giants who took him off the streets and gave him his name.

As he faces one of the hatchlings of the Serpent of Darkness, Kodama must decide what price he is willing to pay to protect the humans who have opened their home to him.

Head on over to Amazon and download yourself a free copy of Kodama’s Courage.  And as always, while you’re there, check out the rest of the library.

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The Discarded

A friend from Slacktivist writes one of the most terrifying dystopias I’ve ever read. Terrifying because this is the dystopia that some the Kochs, the Mercers and others of our billionaire overlords are working toward right now (after all, to them it’s a paradise).

Also terrifying because this is an oppressive dystopia that doesn’t even need to use the brute force tactics of a totalitarian government. No death squads, no torture chambers, no Thought Police (though there is a hell of a Memory Hole). Everyone is their own jailer.

House of the Dread

“You’re the reporter, right?”

“Yes, Allison Stone with the Times. You’re ‘Cindy’?”

“That’s what they call me,” Cindy said. “So what do you want?”

“I just wanted to talk to you. I’m doing a story on the-“

“Discards,” Cindy said.

“I was going to say Corporate Family Adoptee Program.”

Cindy laughed. “That’s what they call it, huh?”

“The official name anyway,” Allison said.

“I’ve only heard us called ‘Discards’,” Cindy said. “Usually by people screaming at me for taking their job. Do you mind if I smoke?”

“If it makes you more comfortable.”

“I should quit. I really should,” Cindy said. She took a cigarette out of its carton, lit it, and took a long drag. “It takes up more and more of my credits every month. Vice taxes, you know. Fucking government. What do you want to know?”

“You understand what the program is?”

“Well, I lived it. But…

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