The Apothecary, excerpt IV

An excerpt from The Apothecary, a romantic horror novelette:

He stands, and turns his back to me and the fire. He walks over to the spinning wheel, and begins unraveling the threads. “There’s nothing to say about my father,” he says.

I stand too. “But I’ve been wondering––”

“You need to go home. It’s getting dark.” The words are harsh, but he speaks them softly. They hurt more than way. With his back to me, with the mask out of sight, I want to run to him, tell him I don’t want to go home. Not tonight. Not ever.

But if I do that, he’ll turn to me, with that mask.

I put down the cup, and put my cloak around my shoulders. The spinning wheel starts circling, squeaking slightly. I catch a glimpse of mask slithering where a cheek ought to be, and again I shiver, though not from cold. He says nothing as I slip out the door.

The Apothecary, excerpt III

An excerpt from The Apothecary, a romantic horror novelette:

He gave me calming tea that tasted of flowers. He apologized for having no cake or biscuits to serve along with it, as he wasn’t used to having visitors. That was fine though; as much as I liked him, it would have been hard to eat with that mask watching me, crawling like maggots.

In my childhood innocence, and with my da not around to shush me, I asked him what was under it.

“Nothing interesting,” he said. He voice always seemed to come from far away. “I think you’d much rather see something like this.”

He swept a powder into the candle on the table between us and the flame danced gold and silver.

I laughed and he gave me some of the powder so that I could throw it into the fireplace, and the whole room danced gold and silver, including his mask. But that didn’t distract me entirely from questioning him. I ran to his side and said “Where’d you learn all this?”

 

The Apothecary, excerpt II

An excerpt from The Apothecary, a romantic horror novelette:

That first time I met him, he towered above me, encased in a black cloak. At first glance I thought he had no face, until I saw the mask wavering in the shadows.

I was terrified. I hid behind my da as the frightening figure knelt before me and opened a little paper packet. He blew on it – though how he did so with the mask there I couldn’t tell – and fairies and unicorns danced in all the colors of the rainbow in the air between us.

The mask would continue to induce repulsion in me every time I saw it quiver, but I found other emotions were placed beside this repulsion – expectation, wonderment, joy. He gave me sugary candies better than any candy I had ever tasted, and something he called chocolate, which was better than anything at all I had ever tasted. He set off miniature fireworks in the rafters of his workspace. He sprinkled a powder over his sheep in their pen that turned them blue and pink. It was something new every time I got the opportunity to visit.

The Apothecary, excerpt I

An excerpt from The Apothecary, a romantic horror novelette.  It might seem familiar, ’cause I based it off a drabble I’ve previously posted.

“Alisandra?”

I’m jerked out of my daydream by the sound of his voice. I’ve been staring.

“Are you all right?” the apothecary asks. The firelight plays over his mask in blacks and oranges. It’s always so dim here in his home, the windows shuttered tight against the sun, leaving only the hearth fire and the candlelight to illuminate the jars of liquids and powders and plants.

But I always study his mask.

“Yes!” I say, too forcefully. “I’m fine.”

“Then, here is the poultice for midwife Bera.” He holds the tiny paper packet out to me. Though his hands are gloved, I still shiver when my fingers brush his.

“Are you sure you’re okay?” he asks. His mask roils and wavers as if insects crawl under it. “Your face is flushed. I can fix you something, whatever’s the matter.”

I clutch the packet to my chest as if that can slow my heart. “It’s nothing. I just… ran all the way here. Well, goodbye. Ms. Bera’s waiting.”

I dart out the door before he can say anything else. I run down the path all the way to the road before I stop to collect myself.

Stupid, I tell myself. Stupid. Stupid. How can you love a man that won’t show you his face?

The Apothecary

This is the last one from the list!  And this one was hard to come up with, probably only because it was the last.  As for other things, I’m working on rewriting some short stories that are part of a series, so I still might not be posting quite so much.

Drabble

He held the tiny paper package out to her, and his leather mask slithered and roiled, as if something crawled beneath it. “This is the poultice for Midwife Bera.”

Though his hands were gloved Alisandra still felt her heart flutter when his fingers touched hers.

“Are you ill?” he asked. “Your face is flushed. I can prepare you something.”

“No!” Her cheeks grew hotter as she smiled at his kindness, always his kindness. “I’m fine.”

She sighed when the door closed behind her. How stupid to fall in love with someone who would never show you their face.

Smoke Signals

The smoke drifted down into the candle’s fire, and Cassandra watched until the blaze quieted. She held a sheet of paper over it, letting the fire etch Warren’s message. She studied his graceful writing, as graceful as the smoke that had carried it.

She picked up fresh paper and a pen, and wrote her response. Her penmanship was nothing like Warren’s; she hadn’t had his schooling. She had learned magic from her mother rather than a tutor. But she could still send smoke.

She held a corner of the paper to the fire, and the smoke curled out the window.

Angler

Yes, my eyes are wide.

Yes, my teeth are long.

Yes, my scales are dull and coarse.

But my light is the brightest down here, down in the deeps. See how it bobs, weaves, and lights up the dark. Does it not entice you? Does it not make you want to look closer? To come closer? To come see me and my eyes and teeth and dull coarse scales?

I may not be as beautiful as my sisters, but I can still attract a human.

I may not be as beautiful as my sisters, but I am still a mermaid.

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The Screech Owls – Chapter II Part I

Don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter! I’m putting together lots of new stories to give away in it.

I’ve realized chapter two should probably start when they find the food, but we’ll go with this for now.

Novel: Fantasy Horror

They spent the rest of the night wide awake, the screech owls roaming in and out of the floor beneath them, trilling and coming close to the stairs, but not climbing them. In the morning Cole found words on the wall, right beside where the two of them had huddled together. They were etched into the stone, but old and faded, the reason they hadn’t noticed them at dusk. They weren’t in English, and yet Edward understood the words perfectly. At least the words he could read.

Don’t take……GO BACK…….

And then below that, in Chinese,

Keep going.

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The Screech Owls – Chapter I Part VIII

Novel: Fantasy Horror

More trills sounded around them that night, but none found them, close as they came. The ruined house proved a good hiding spot. When the sun rose Edward could see his bruise clearly, black and purple. He had thought up a plan in the night.

“Cole, I’m going to go on ahead and find some food. You’ll wait here and I’ll return with – ”

No,” Cole shouted hysterically, leaping up. “You can’t leave me here.”

“You’ll be safe. You just need to hide here.”

Cole shook his head, his eyes wide and wild like a frightened deer’s. “No. I can’t. I can’t stay here alone. I won’t slow you down, I swear.”

“It’s not that. I just don’t want you expending energy.”

“I won’t. I can walk. Don’t leave me, please.” His tiny fingers grasped Edward’s arm and dug into his skin.

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The Screech Owls – Chapter I Part VII

Novel: Fantasy Horror

They didn’t talk much that day. All their little energy was concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other. Edward put on his armor – minus the helmet – though his shoulders weren’t quite healed. The pain of the armor cutting into them detracted from the pain in his stomach.

Twice they found ruined walls, remains of buildings, stone that in an alive world would be overgrown with vines and weeds but here were only bare stone. It was tempting to break for the day in their foundations, but they had to keep going. They had to find food. The ground several feet around the stream was gravel and rock. There was nothing moving but the water in the stream, which remained thin and shallow. They paused to drink it and Edward chanced a look at Cole. His face was pale, his eyes dark and sunken and hopeless.

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