Tough Girls Essay Up At Author Page

Tough Girls, Class Differences and Rape Culture has been added to the Reviews and Essays page at my author site.

 

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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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An Excerpt From The Guardian Cats Of New York City: The Black Dog

The Guardian Cats of New York City: The Black Dog 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:

When she reached the source of the disharmony, her fur and whiskers were standing on end and an involuntary growl was rumbling in her throat, but all she could see was the source of the howl: a small black dog, little larger than herself, of the kind that she’d heard the two-legs call a “Skottish Tearer”.

No, wait.  When the wind shifted, she smelled nothing but two-legs, their smokes and their food.  No dog-smell.

So he was the ghost of a Skottish Tearer, then.

“Enough, enough!” Lanuine growled as she approached the howling ghost. “The two-legs can’t hear you, and the other wolves are here with their two-legs.  I’m all the help you’re going to get, and you’re hurting my ears.”

The ghost-dog stopped howling and looked at her, seeming a bit startled. “Oh…oh, oh, sorry,” it – he – said.

“Thank you,” Lanuine said. “Now.  What are you called?”

This is the polite thing to ask magical creatures, rather than “what is your name?”  There are few powers greater than the power of Names, which is one of the reasons that cats have three names.  To name a thing is to define it; to define a thing is to control it.  There were many cats who wondered if the two-legs’s peculiar talent for Naming was the source of their enormous power.  They seemed to have an odd authority when it came to names.  When a two-legs gave something a name, it stuck .

“I am Fala!” The ghost answered. “What are you called?”

“I am called Queenie, the Rat-Breaker,” Lanuine answered.  But she was almost too stunned to say it.  There had been a resonance when the ghost-dog spoke its name that could only mean one thing. “You give your true name freely?” she asked, aghast.

“My name was given to me by my alpha,” Fala answered. “And my alpha was a very great alpha among the two-legs.  He walked with wheels because his hind legs were crippled, but the other two-legs still obeyed him.  Great packs of two-legs, as far as the nose could smell…mighty alphas who could have torn his throat out like rotten meat…all of them obeyed his merest bark and growl.  The name he gave me is all the name I need.”

That was…actually pretty impressive, Lanuine had to admit.  It was true that she didn’t understand how matters of dominance were decided among the two-legs, but still.  For one who walked on wheels to lead such a great pride, his will must have been enormous even among two-legs.

Still.  Lanuine could not understand the dog-ghost’s willingness to accept the name given him by another as his only name.  Could not, and did not want to.

“Fine,” she said. “If that’s how you want it.  Now.  What has you howling so much?  You’re driving cat and dog alike mad with all your noise.”

Usually, a dog would look abashed for at least a moment after such a scolding, but Fala just looked grim.

This was serious.  Dogs were usually loud and messy and silly, and as such beneath a cat’s notice, but no cat could deny that the Tribe of the Wolf were utterly dedicated to the protection of their two-legs and their territory.

“This way,” Fala said, turning and leading Lanuine away from the two-legs’s stone path.  In truth, Lanuine didn’t need much guidance.  The farther they went, the more she could sense a…a wrongness that put her hackles up.  There was violence in that wrongness.  Violence and death and old, clotted hate.

The farther they went, the harder it was to continue.  Only two-legs ignored their instincts like this…and maybe not even them.  By the time Fala stopped walking – by the time they reached the center of the wrongness – it was like wading in a bubbling spring of poison black blood, and there were no two-legs seated anywhere nearby.

“What is this place?” Lanuine growled, her ears flat to her head.

“The two-legs used to bury their dead here,” Fala answered. “Members of the pack that they killed for turning against the pack.”

“What?” Lanuine demanded, startled.  But before Fala could answer, she turned her attention back to the center of the wrongness, this time focusing on the senses that most two-legs seemed to lack.  As she did so, her hackles rose and her ears laid back, seemingly of their own accord.

The ghost-dog was right.

Beneath the earth was the spirit of a two-legs that had not gone to one of the strange places outside the world where two-legs spirits went.

Or at least, it had been a two-legs once.  Now, it was little more than a roiling mass of hatred.

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: The Black Dog Is Available For Free Now Through Thursday!

The third story of The Guardian Cats is available for free download now through Thursday!  In this installment, we see how the Guardian Cats interact with other supernatural guardians

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.

There is a place in the heart of the City where the lines of force converge. It is a place of peace that used to be a place of vengeance and horror. There is something there, just beneath the surface, that wants to make it a place of vengeance and horror again. And the only thing that stands in its way is a cat named Queenie and a black dog who is much, much more than what he seems.

Head on over to Amazon and download yourself a free copy of The Black Dog.  And as always, while you’re there, check out the rest of the library!

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An Excerpt from The Guardian Cats of New York City: The Watcher On The Shore

The Guardian Cats of New York City: The Watcher On The Shore 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:

Nar-Tali didn’t often envy the senses of the two-legs, nose-numb and half-deaf as they were. But tonight he would have accepted their night-blindness if it had brought with it the distance and clarity of their vision. The Thing that was coming, it was coming from the water. He could sense that now, feel it in his whiskers and fur and bones like the coming of the storm. But as much as he strained his senses toward the Great Salty Water, he could detect nothing. The roaring of the rain filled his hearing; the water and the wind washed away all smells.

Then the skyfire flashed again, and he caught a glimpse of…something. It was distant and unclear and it was only there for a moment, but it was…it was like a hill had suddenly risen up out of the water, then slid smoothly back in.

The sky rumbled in response to the skyfire, drowning out all sound. But as the last of the echoes of the sky-roar faded, Nar-Tali thought he heard the last echoes of another – a distant reptilian bellow.

There it was again. Much closer this time. And much, much louder.

Nar-Tali noticed that the ragged two-legs was standing beside him now, staring out at the Great Salty Water. For all the good it would do him. Even if the hill in the water surfaced again, all he would see was black on black. Not that he, Nar-Tali, was doing much better. With all this blinding rain coming down, he might as well be a two-legs himself.

Wait – there it was. The hill in the water. It was beside the long wooden sidewalk that went out onto the water now, and it was approaching shore.

On some instinct, Nar-Tali nudged the ragged two-legs, then pointed toward the shore.

The two-legs nodded. He saw it, too.

The hill was rising out of the water. Only it was longer now. More of a ridge.

The ridge kept rising. And rising. And then it broke the surface, and…

Oh. Great. Sekhmet.

It was huge.

Bast have mercy, it was a great serpent. As long as the sidewalk-over-the-water…no, longer, as long as one of the great metal serpents that carried two-legs in their bellies as they screamed along the rails. And at least as thick.

Its head was broad and flat and angular, with horns and razored spines sticking out in all directions. Its mouth, with its three rows of fangs, was easily capable of taking the ragged two-legs whole. Its scales gleamed black in the light of the boardwalk lamps, and its eyes glowed a poisonous green.

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: The Watcher On The Shore Is Available For Free Now Through Thursday!

The second story of the Guardian Cats series is available for free download now through Thursday!  In this installment, we catch a glimpse of the relationship between the Guardian Cats and human mystics.

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.

Nar-Tali the Gull Hunter is the guardian of Coney Island. He walks the boardwalk after dark, protecting humans at play from the things that hunt the night. But tonight, something is coming out of the ocean. Something huge. And Nar-Tali may need a bit of help to handle it.

Head on over to Amazon and download yourself a free copy of The Watcher On The Shore.  And as always, while you’re there, be sure to check out the rest of the library!

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An Excerpt from The Guardian Cats of New York City: Shin-Nephura’s Neighborhood

The Guardian Cats of New York City: Shin-Nephura’s Neighborhood 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:

Something was coming. Something that raised the fur along her spine and made her claws twitch involuntarily in their sheaths.

“AllEEEEE!”

Closer and louder now. Close and loud enough so that even a two-legs could have heard it. If any two-legs did hear, they would have been disturbed, even frightened, but they wouldn’t know why. Shin-Nephura knew. Whatever was coming was…wrong. It had come from the river – it squished and dripped and splashed with every step, and Shin-Nephura could smell the tidal muds – but it was no right part of the world of cats, birds, mice and two-legs.

It drew closer, and Shin-Nephura finally caught a whiff of something other than the muds.

Rotten meat.

Not like the food the two-legs so wastefully threw away, the meat just moldy or spoiled enough to be flavorful, but the smell of something long dead and decayed.

“aaAAallEEEeee!”

As the dead thing came around the corner and into view, Shin-Nephura’s hackles went all the way up and her claws scraped on the sidewalk.

A two-legs. The dead, lurching, half-rotten thing was a two-legs.

No wise cat wishes to face a two-legs in a straight fight. Slow, clumsy, half-deaf, night-blind, nose-numb, so often strange and silly in their behavior…it was easy to underestimate them. But yet, they were giants. Their strength was immense and their clever forepaws could create horrors. Once a cat was in a solid grip, there was little hope of wriggling free. The best one could hope for was to make the price too high.

“AAAaalleeee”

Still. She had a duty. The ancient compact.

The dead thing was shambling toward the iron gates that led into the courtyard. They were locked, but Shin-Nephura doubted that would be any obstacle. Locks and gates were little use against something like this.

“AAAA—”

“You are not welcome in my territory, dead thing.”

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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