Author: Jennifer A. Fales Book: Primrose & the Wolf (A Huxley Sisters Paranormal Romance) Published: June 2016 Publisher: Jennifer A. Fales Genre: Paranormal Romance Source: eBook …
In the days before the Invasion, I remember reading this article about a fish that could crawl across dry land and live out of water for up to six days. It started showing up places where it wasn’t wanted, and people called it some freak fish, or a threat, or something like that—an invasive species.
I always thought that part was funny, you know? I mean, the darned thing existed. It had evolved, right here on Earth, and, the odds are, it was probably just trying to find a way to keep on surviving.
My name is Doggie, by the way. It used to be Dottie, which was short for Dorothy, a lifetime ago. Doggie came from my wife’s son, Jonathan. He was three and just couldn’t get the T’s right. As for my wife, her name was Helen. One day, raiders came along and took Helen and Jonathan from what used to be our home while I was out scavenging. Needless to say, I don’t live there, anymore.
Don’t get me wrong; my heart still aches for what used to be. I still preserve it in my dreams. But half the population was decimated, and, we all know, society seems to have a knack for reverting to historical biases during times of crisis—what the cavemen like to call the basics. Those cavemen have made things mighty ugly for women in general, doubly so for people like Helen and me, in aiming to fix what isn’t broken.
It’s not all bad news, though. Recently, I stumbled across the remains of an old alien ship. Even the raiders are too afraid to visit, so I’m calling it home. There’s some solar-powered tech inside that still works, and, slowly but surely, I’m learning how to use it. I’m even piecing together a robotic companion for myself—Helen II.
Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. What if something I do brings the aliens back again?
That’s okay—I exist, and I will continue to do so. I will crawl for six days if I have to, whatever it takes to keep on surviving.
I’m not going to lie to you, it was a little dicey doing the interview. I was almost eaten twice, but it’s not just going in the local paper so it was totally worth it.
Here’s the cliff notes version:
Kaltanadzarian Prime says his people chose the US because they were impressed with our giant orange leader. Their culture is incredibly crass and values bright colors and loudness above all else. I told him, in that case, they should fit in quite well here—KP says he’s pretty sure they already do.
Next week, he and the others have a meeting scheduled with some bigwigs from the Food Network. Apparently, the Foodies are interested in pitching him a reality show about Primers. Something about them living in an abandoned dance studio next door to a library turned pizza parlor somewhere in the Midwest and eating washed up actors. He said it’s a little lowbrow for them, but they’ll probably agree as long as there are “no fat chicks” and a clause against vegans can also be written into the contract.
KP feels people who refuse to eat meat don’t taste right. Between you and me, I lied and told him I was vegan. If the threat of alfalfa sprouts and quinoa keep me from being on the menu, sign me up.
And don’t look at me that way—I said I wasn’t going to lie to you.
*Robert Frost’s poetic brains were blatantly scavenged for this*
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall, That needs the brains on the other side of it, And bangs its head against it in the sun; And groans and moans, a half-attentive beast. The work of zombie-hunters is another thing: I have come after them and made repair Where they have left not one stone on a stone, But they would have the zombies out of hiding, To please the yelping rednecks. The gaps I mean, No one has seen them made or heard them made, But at "oh shit" mending-time we find them there. I let my neighbor, with the rifle, know beyond the hill; And on a day we meet to walk the zombie line And set the wall between them and us once again.
This is a fragment of a poem written quite some time ago by yours truly—this portion was meant to be a lullaby and, I think, stands alone fairly well.
Look for the enchanted forest deep in the shade of forgotten trees.
Listen for the haunting strains of music carried on the breeze.
The magic, my sweetling, is there to find if your will is strong and your mind believes.
It takes a heart both young and wild to dance with the Sidhe among the leaves.
But be wary of their promises and do not tarry overlong.
For often, love, the sweetest notes begin the darkest songs.
“Meadowsweet, broom, and oak, my wrinkly old ass—might as well wish for gold in these parts,” the swamp witch muttered, puttering around her tiny shack.
As she gathered flower petals, bark, and mortar and pestle, the stone bowl grew cumbersome in her arthritic grasp. Still, she soldiered on, grinding them up with the partially digested stomach contents of a sickly gator.
“Hells bells—I’ll have to rewrite the spell,” she said, flipping open a secondary grimoire after dumping the paste in her boiling cauldron.
The book in question had come to her by way of the only other person for miles—an ancient Welsh witch, who, sadly, had been murdered by a next door neighbor. The consequences of new spells were tricky, to be sure, but there was no one to consult. So, she whipped up one that went something like this:
“Orange fringed orchids for loveliness awarded.
Buttercup petals for a healthy dose of mettle.
Cypress bark, an acceptable start for a cunning mind and tender heart.
Scrap of skin from a gator’s gut, just to add a human touch. Spirits hustle! Water bubble! Give me a girl for my toil and trouble!”
Sure enough, after taking a minute to properly percolate, the spell resulted in a flash of light and a puff of magic. As the smoke dissipated, a young woman appeared, wearing a lovely crown of flowers, in the midst of the withered crone’s shack.
“Oh, dear,” the young woman said, looking around in confusion, “where am I?”
“Our home,” the old witch replied as if it summed up everything.
“Our home,” the young woman repeated thoughtfully, wrapping her lips around the words as she peered past the gray-haired crone.
The remains of the one within her, whose body had been devoured by the alligator, informed her that there didn’t seem to be a lot of home, just a one room shack with a stove, bookshelf, and bed.
“And where is my bed?” she asked politely.
“You’re young and spry forevermore, dear,” the witch replied. “A body like that doesn’t require the niceties.”
“Like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein,” she murmured, some sort of odd computation going on behind her gator green eyes before she posed her next question. “And why am I here?”
“I’m so glad you asked,” the witch said. “That’s the very best part. I created you to do my bidding and keep me company, much as the magicians did Bloudewedd, in the old Welsh tales, for her husband. You can have the same name if you like.”
“I think not,” the young lady frowned.
“Why not?” the crone asked. “It’s a lovely one.
“Lovely enough,” she replied, her eyes focusing on the grimoire and the mortar by the cauldron, “but the tale didn’t end very well for the maiden in question.”
“Well,” the witch responded, “my heart wasn’t set on it, dear … go ahead, choose another.”
“I choose Evermore,” she smiled.
Then, she snatched up the pestle and bashed in the old witch’s head.
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It’s a strange thing, being a woman in her forties in the age of internet porn and unabashed selfies. There’s some gray in the hair. Smile lines and other wrinkles are starting to show. Plus, no matter how hard you work out, you’ve got to eat, and, well, let’s just say your metabolism isn’t what it used to be.
The modern world seems geared to instant gratification and visual perfection. Women’s asses and breasts now have Twitter accounts —literally, just pictures of young, perky asses and big, fake boobs attached to pornographic or promotional tweets (don’t get me started on clickbait). How a pair of breasts in a push-up bra can honestly offer you sound advice on successful day trading and navigating the nuances of the stock market is a mystery, and, yet, there they are, promising us all the moon via the power of mammary glands.
Meanwhile, you’re kind of busy no longer being a nubile twenty-or-thirty-something. And, yes, you’re smarter than you used to be, but still haven’t yet reached that magical point of Zen where you no longer worry about the superficial things. You’re betting that’s going to be your sixties. So, in the meantime, here you are—wincing at every picture taken and trying your damnedest to figure out how to minimize lines and what angle makes your big old moon pie face look the thinnest.
Still, bleak as it is, there is hope.
Every once in a while, you find that one photo where you recognize yourself from the inside. There’s just something about the eyes that tells you, unequivocally, that you’re going to be okay. That you’re still you and it’s time to stop stressing and enjoy whatever life and happiness you possess.
In moments like these, you truly see yourself, and it’s the kind of sight that comes with understanding. That elementary, my dear Watson moment where you catch a glimpse of yourself doing you like nobody else can. It’s easy to get caught up in all the smoke and mirrors these days. Hell, there’s so much flash without substance that it’s almost scary. It’s easy to lose sight of the important things. Like the fact that there are only two windows to your soul—and they’re still right there, in that old, familiar face.
The eyes have it—the one and only YOU.
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Okay, so, we might have embarrassed the Mayor a bit by calling in HWB (Hookers Without Borders) to help on the Fourth of July, but … the Mayor can go blow himself. These women are tenacious and the Zombie Menace wasn’t going to take care of itself.
It certainly wasn’t getting done by Mr. Big Shot and his bloated, preening constituents circling their wagons and battening down the hatches. Or whatever it was those turncoats wanted us to think they were doing (caucus, my sweet ass) after they locked themselves and their families safely underground. So, local politics exited stage left, and Skittles, Bambi, and a bunch of other plucky sex workers named after candy and animals swept in to save the day.
I’m telling you, those gals worked like a close-knit team, something you rarely see in legislature and governance these days. On day two, they voted on a fighting name and started calling themselves the Whore Core. The townsfolk were hesitant to use it, at first … I mean, come on, we knew that term wasn’t exactly PC, and it kind of pissed off one or two of our feminists. Hell, you’d have thought the women of the HWB would have found the word offensive, themselves, but they said it was the best alternative. Nothing else rhymed with Core and Slaughter Daughters was just lame.
The uniform they came up with was kind of a cross between Daisy Mae from Li’l Abner and a home improvement store mascot-turned-construction worker. Don’t know why, but there was just something about the yellow rubber gloves that really set it all off. If you ask me, I think they were supposed to be symbolic—a reminder of the quintessential 1950’s stereotypical women’s work being used to kick ass after the men turned tail and fled.
Well, technically, I guess it’s chop ass, but you know what I mean.
Anyway, now that all the zombies are kindling, some of the WC ladies have decided to stick around. Skittles is running for Mayor, Bambi’s set up a nice Bed & Breakfast downtown, and a few others are teaching self-defense against the undead at the local gym.
I know what you’re thinking, but it’s not just the women—plenty of young men in the community have signed up for classes, too.
*It was high time I did a B-movie style exploitation post … Want more zombies? Check out The Robusta Incident! *
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The man in the steel colored tie folded his hands on the desk and asked her in measured tones, “Do you have any idea why I called you in here today, Ms. Snow?”
“No,” Penelope answered with a bat of her eyelashes, “but we have to stop meeting like this, or people are going to talk.”
His mouth tightened even more, with fine lines appearing in the tanned skin around the edges. They reminded Penelope of cracks in the bed of a dry lake.
“As I am sure you are aware, here at Purgatory, Inc., we routinely monitor calls for quality assurance…”
“Oh, yes, absolutely. I understand I have a lovely speaking voice—like a throaty nightingale with just a touch of Barbara Streisand thrown in for good measure.”
“Yes,” he cleared his throat, “well, as you may also be aware, the company changed hands last week and we became a holding of the HELL Corp.”
“Oh, absolutely,” Penelope nodded enthusiastically, tapping a French tipped nail on his desk, “I read through the entire email you sent out —although I did find the part about how the souls of everyone that fell under the HELL Corp. umbrella now belonged to Satan a little vague.”
She was rewarded with a frown, and he moved on to review his notes.
“During a recent monitoring session,” he looked up at her for a moment, “there were…a few…concerns raised about the manner in which you’ve been greeting callers.”
“Really?” Penelope raised her eyebrows and crossed a pair of long legs. “Because, when I was hired, the training team said it was okay to play around with the script—mix it up a little, improvise to keep things fresh—you know, the human touch.”
“Yes, but, Ms. Snow, I think they meant something a little different.”
“Well, for example: It’s a great day at instead of thank you for calling, or how can I assist you instead of how may I help you.”
“Oh, no,” Penelope pursed her lips, “I don’t think that’s what the training department meant, at all. It still sounds far too contrived—I mean, we’re working in a call center, not for the Gestapo, right?”
“Ms. Snow,” he sighed, leaning back in his chair, ” if you value your job, we need to find some sort of middle ground here to keep the chain of command satisfied. Hi, you’ve reached Hell and what can Satan and I do for you today just don’t convey the right image for the HELL Corp.”
“Too gentle?” she asked.
“Would you like me to sex it up a little?”
“Do you want me to talk to Satan? I’d be more than happy to explain my personal position on full disclosure.”
“Oh, dear God, no,” he said, the tie around his neck bursting into flames.
“Well,” Penelope smiled sweetly, uncrossing her legs,”If you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to the phones. And, word to the wise, you probably shouldn’t be mentioning His name around here, now that we’re under new management.”
“Ms. Snow,” the man sighed, batting out the flames, “I have no idea what I’m going to do with you.”
“You could always fire me,” she offered. “Although, I suppose that would make the terms of your email null and void.”
My Dearest Senator Ektu:
Despite her adamant involvement in the past rebellion and stowing away on an Earther military vessel, I am pleased to inform you that Rijellia’an-Earther relations have improved drastically since your niece’s arrival at the space station.
While, at first, a bit stumped, I have recently discovered that the explanation revolves around a bit of an unfortunate joke the soldiers played on the dear girl in transit. It seems they successfully managed to convince her that human sexual activity resembles the most offensive Rijellia’an Hate Gestures possible.
As you are well aware, your niece’s hatred of our mutual allies is quite profound. Day and night, night and day, all she does is hate, hate, hate them.
I daresay her spite has been responsible for accelerating Earth’s peace negotiations with the Rijellia’an Royal Council by several decades—and, although it will no doubt anger the young woman more, I must say that you have every right to be proud of her.