Sunday, December 30, 2012

Bitter Premonition-Part Two

     Here is the second part of the Bitter Premonition story, where we left Jenna in the midst of a dream (The Dream). Recall that the story is an offshoot from the Cooking Athenasia novel I am currently working on. I hope to be finished with the book by February (I think this statement is more for me than you). I thank you for reading and I especially thank those of you who feel the story is good enough to re-post the link for your FB friends. Enjoy!


The Dream was always the same. She always saw the woman, who was her at the same time, frantically packing. She watched the woman load and mount the horse-drawn wagon. Although she was always terrified in The Dream, the people who wanted to hurt her never reached the woman. Sometimes Jenna woke before seeing the burning house, but The Dream never went beyond the woman turning to see the night sky aglow from the fire of her home in the distance after her decampment. Some might consider The Dream a recurring nightmare, but it did not occur frequently enough to earn the clinical title of 'recurring'. However, what The Dream did do is always foreshadow a significant event in Jenna's life. The first time she remembered having The Dream was at three years old, a few days before her mother died. Since then, Jenna dreamt it a few other times preceding influential occurrences in her life, but The Dream never delineated between positive or negative experiences, it simply meant that something important would happen soon. Over time, Jenna learned to keep her guard up once The Dream reappeared.
She sat up in bed. Crap! she thought. Through the window, she could see the sun hinting its ascent from behind the horizon with the promise of a perfect Northwestern spring day. This can't be. I've been looking forward to this trip for weeks. Although The Dream was not specific regarding the event, Jenna's initial gut feeling was that the danger was associated with the camping trip. This assumption raised several questions though: Was she the only one in peril or did it extend to the group? Did the danger lie in cancelling her plans or could the hazard be avoided by going on the trip? What about Aunt Donna? Would she be all right without Jenna staying home? These were exactly the type of questions she hated after The Dream occurred. The Dream was a major contributing factor to the reason she felt square-peggish, and often felt it would be better not knowing something was on the horizon, like real people. Instead, she was given a gift in the form of a clue that something important was imminent but with no context. With little context anyway, since she always received a tingling feeling in her hands when the crossroad introduced by The Dream was reached. Yet, the tingling still did not give any indication of the best course of action to take or whether she should do anything at all, they just felt prickly announcing the situation was at hand.
Jenna donned her robe and walked down the hall to Aunt Donna's room. She gently rapped on the door, "Aunt Donna, I have a problem." No response. A little louder, "Aunt Donna?"
Donna was not a morning person and, after a few unflattering snorts, sleepily replied, "Wha...?"
"I have a problem," Jenna bit her bottom lip, which she did when she was unsure of herself.
"Yes Dear. What is it?"
"I...I had The Dream last night."
"Oh no." Donna was not a big fan of The Dream either because of its ambiguity. "So what are you thinking?" Donna was fully awake.
"I don't know." Jenna was almost in tears. "I hate The Dream. It's impossible to worry about everything, to guess what it could possibly mean," frustrated tears rolled down her cheeks.
Donna pulled her in for a hug and tried to give comfort, "I know. It seems impossible."
"The worst of it is that I always worry it could mean I might lose someone I love, like with mom." She cried in earnest.
"I know," she stroked Jenna's hair, "It's frustrating. Let's go make some coffee and think this through." Donna had to get all the neurons firing if she was going to be any help.
A couple of cups of coffee later, they sat at the kitchen table trying to figure out what to do. Jenna was torn between going on the camping trip to protect her friends at the outing or staying home to protect Donna. Another option was to scrub the trip altogether if she could get the other girls to agree. She tried to think of a way to tell the others they should cancel without sounding freakish or paranoid.
The sun had fully risen revealing a bright blue, cloudless spring sky, a Northwest rarity, meaning Jenna only had about two hours before the girls would arrive to pick her up. Donna tried to get her to eat some toast but she was not hungry. A sickening knot had settled in the pit of Jenna’s stomach as she went through the motions of preparing for the day. She cried out of frustration in the shower because she had no idea what she should do, but a decision had to be made soon. She got dressed and still hadn't decided what she would do, if anything.
Jenna was in a somber mood as sat on the front porch waiting for the girls to show up. The sun felt good on her face but did little for her churning stomach. After a bit, she could hear the rumble of Jessica's Jeep and she watched it turn the corner onto her block. As soon is it was in full sight, the tingling in her hands began.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Bitter Premonition-Part One

     This story introduces Jenna Sims, the main character from my forthcoming novel, Cooking Athanasia. It is a snapshot of an event that occurred in her recent past, but shaped the person who she eventually becomes. Additionally, one of the things that makes her feel different from everybody else is revealed. Feel free to share this story. Thanks for reading and please let me know what you think!



This was it. Spring break of Jenna Sims' senior year was just around the corner, and she didn't intend to waste it. After all, this would be one of the last bits of freedom she would be able to enjoy before life's responsibilities-like college, work, a boyfriend/husband, etcetera-came rushing full force on the heels of high school. As of late, thoughts of the future weighed heavily on Jenna's mind and she looked forward to a reprieve in the form of a spring break camping trip with her best friends: Emma Waters, Nicole Starr, and Jessica Dalton.

Jenna felt like a square-peg in a round-hole world throughout most of her school years, which made it difficult to bond with anyone, but this unlikely set of friends accepted her as-is, with no questions asked. To outsiders, rather than looking like a tightly knit caste of friends, the four resembled more of a random group of misfits who banded together against the ills of the world. Emma always had her nose in a book and preferred the fantasy genre that described adventures of fairies, dragons, and the likes. The artist, Nicole, saw things as they were and tended to draw her world with charcoal in black and white. Jessica, the motor-head, loved anything with wheels and an engine, which meant she could usually be found in or under her Jeep, or carving trails on her dirt bike. Jenna completed the quartet and loved experimenting with culinary inventions in the kitchen. Although each of their individual interests seemed vastly different from the others', their diverse personalities meshed perfectly creating harmony and formed an inseparable bond between the four of them.

Each girl looked forward to the camping trip with anticipation and talked about it incessantly for weeks prior to the break. All four members of the group agreed three days at Lake Easton campground, which was just on the other side of the pass, would be the respite needed to regroup before the end-of-year push. Although the plan was for each to provide a meal or two during the outing, Jenna volunteered to do a lion's share of the cooking. The thought of testing her culinary skills in a primitive setting excited her and she had ideas of things with which she would like to experiment.

At last, finals were over and teacher conferences were done, marking the start of spring break. The quartet planned to leave bright and early at 10:00 am Monday, well, bright and early in high school girl-think. They took the weekend to prepare by gathering and packing equipment, and shopping for provisions and sustenance items they would need during the trip. Jenna spent the better part of Saturday afternoon at the supermarket squeezing tomatoes, sniffing melons, and examining the wide selection of cheeses to find the right compliment for her planned menu items. She returned home with five overstuffed grocery bags and began the process of separating the various items into piles for each of the intended menu dishes to ensure nothing had been forgotten.

Sunday morning, Jenna searched the garage for elusive camping equipment, none of which was where she thought is should be. She was thankful that Aunt Donna took the day off because she needed help finding all the gear, and she swore it would be stored in one location upon the completion of the trip. Aunt Donna raised Jenna since the age of three after the death of her own mother, Diana, Donna's sister. Donna didn't mind providing help because she enjoyed the time with Jenna and knew it would not be long until she was ready to spread her wings and fly from the nest. Finally, with a little perspiration and a lot of dust, all the gear was located and packed. Jenna finished preparations by putting the food into a plastic bin for ease of transport. She called the other girls to make sure they had everything they would need, and cautioned them to pack for sunburn-hot and blizzard conditions because the unpredictable Northwest spring can produce either, sometimes in the same day.

With all the readying done, Jenna was tired but excited by the end of the day. After a particularly grueling yawning session, she told Emma she had to get some rest and hung up the phone. She quickly did her nighttime routine and jumped in bed. Although exhausted, Jenna had a hard time falling asleep due to the multitude of lists she mentally checked and double-checked to ensure she had not forgotten anything for the trip. Slumber finally found her around 2:00 in the morning and shortly thereafter, The Dream began. In The Dream, Jenna could see a woman, yet Jenna was the woman at the same time. She scurried around the house gathering things of importance. Garbed in mid-nineteenth century clothes, the woman was frantic about an impending danger. She had to pack quickly because they were coming. Jenna didn't know who they were, but was sure they wanted to hurt her. Jenna twitched in her sleep while the Dream played out. Hasty packing complete, the woman fled from harm's way on a wagon drawn by two horses. Jenna bolted awake just after the woman turned to see her house ablaze in the distance as she made her escape.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Introduction to Immortality

     My apologies for not posting last week. I am out of short stories and have been working on finishing my novel. My intent moving forward, is to write some bonus chapters from the novel as stand-alone short stories. These stories will introduce to the characters and hopefully give you a tase of what the book is about. The title is Cooking Athenasia and a short decription is below. I hope to have the first bonus chapter, Bitter Premonition, finished for next Sunday's post.


     Jenna Sims is a culinary student with a secret. While perfecting a homework recipe, she consults an old worn book that belonged to her great-great grandmother, and unwittingly cooks up a spell for immortality. Jenna's secret, unbeknownst to her, is that her ancestry belongs to a coven of witches. A down-on-his-luck cosmetics company marketing representative finds out about the spell and sets out to steal the book for its recipe, which he thinks would be a hit for the company and allow a reversal of fortune for himself. A period of self-discovery and a short learning curve is unleashed as Jenna strives to protect the family secrets and keep evil from stealing the spell book containing enough power to change the world.

Thanks for reading,


Sunday, December 2, 2012

GREED-The Conclusion

     Here is the conclusion to Greed. I recently added the last two paragraphs to add clarity to the story, but it still leaves it up to the reader to decide what really happened. I appriciate you taking the time to read my story and please let me know your thoughts.


           I use the time to assess the situation. Extreme pain in my face where it hit me and my shoulders burn form my hands being bound for so long. I think my right eye is almost swollen shut, but it is hard to tell in the absence of light. I am naked except for a pair of jean shorts that are soaked in sweat and blood. I cannot move. The thing told me I owe it something. It wants what I started with. What did I start with? It said it was with me when I was a child, when all I wanted was life. Could that be what I started with? It seems to be able to read my mind.

            I desperately try to remember how I got here. What was I doing before I got here? I think I worked. Maybe I had a job.  What was my job? Do I have a family? I cannot remember any of these questions. The pain stabs at my brain like thousands of daggers piercing it from all directions. I did work! I helped others accomplish more. My thoughts are clearing a bit. I took a job to help others but it didn't work out. Leaders were not satisfied with results. They wanted more. They didn't care how, they only cared that I got results. Their philosophy went against my grain. But I took the job for better pay. How did I get here?

            What about my family? They need me. I have a wife and a small child. They need me for my support. For my love. Surely it would understand that there are people who need me and whom I need. Where was I before this room? Why is it attacking? I don't remember being a child, but I know I wanted things. I'm sure these wants became more complex as I grew. I lick my dry lips and taste blood. Wants and needs extended beyond myself and beyond the immediate. What is my debt? I pay my debts. My thoughts start to cloud again and worse, I hear it shuffling down the dark hallway from where it disappeared earlier.

             It enters the room and returns to it’s corner. The breath is heavy and yellow eyes stare at me. “Do you understand now?”

            “I don’t remember anything besides here.” My voice is scratchy from thirst. “I know I was a child, but I don't remember being a child. I know I have a family.”

            “Spare me the incessant babbling.” It is irritated again. “The only thing you need to understand is your debt. Once you understand I can collect.”

            “I don’t know how I can understand if I can’t remember anything about my life.” It’s stare burns into my skin like a red-hot branding iron, just removed from the fire. “What is my debt? What do I owe?”

            “I will have to show you,” it says begrudgingly as it moves toward me.  It raises it’s craggily hands and I brace for another impact. Instead of striking me however, it places it’s hands on either side of my head. They are cold and lifeless, with a rough surface, reminiscent of dried leather gloves that were extremely wet once. “Listen,” it commands.

             Immediately, a vision begins to form in my mind. I can see! I am very young and I am talking to my parents. “What is this?” I am mesmerized.

            “Quiet! Just listen.”

              I can see my parents and I having a discussion. We are talking about a toy. I must be five years old in the vision. The toy is a truck that I wanted for my birthday. I remember it. I did not get it as a present for my birthday and five year old me is clearly upset. I remember I wanted that truck so badly that I didn’t appreciate any of the other things people gave me.

            “You remember, don't you?” it asks. “This is one of the first times.”

             “I do remember.” I feel bad for the parents of five year old me because I gave them no mercy. That vision dissipated and was immediately replaced with a new one. In the new vision, I am at school, high school, and I seem to be very sullen with my best friend. I was actually angry with him because he got a car when he got his driver’s license and my parents had assured me that I was not going be so fortunate. I was very angry with them as well because I felt that I deserved a car too. I was 16 at the time.

             It spoke to me through my mind, “The wants were becoming more complex, yes?”

            Somehow, I answered it without speaking, “Yes.” I felt bad for my friend because I was jealous of his good fortune and I wanted the same. It strained our friendship for a bit, but we recovered. Again, the vision dissolved to be replaced with another. This one is more recent. I am having a conversation with my boss. The conversation is about performance. I recall that I was shocked because the senior leaders seemed more concerned with making money rather than quality service. Their mind set was ends over means, but I took the position with the understanding that I represent quality service.

             “This is yet more complex, yes?” the thing says in my head.

             “Yes, but it was not me that wanted more,” I silently defend. It releases my head and the vision shatters like a mirror on concrete.

             It retreats to it’s corner. “Was it only the others who wanted more?”

             “Yes. I was concerned for my constituents,” I reply.

            “That is not in question,” it says, “but taking that role involved a significant compensatory increase, yes?” I can’t be sure, but it almost looks like it is smiling.

             “True,” I defend, “but that was not my only motivation for taking the position.”

             “But it was a motivation?”

             “Yes,” I concede.

             “These are some of the complexities of which I speak.” It paces, as a teacher would in front of a student. “Now you understand the debt. You admit you have wanted in the past for personal gain, yes?”


            “Would you agree that you have wanted from the beginning?”

            “I suppose. What did I want when I was an infant?”

            “You said it yourself: Life,” it replies. “Now that you understand, I can collect.”

            I can see the reflection from the blade again as it moves toward me. “I don’t understand,” I plead. “Why do I have to pay?”

            “I am finished talking. It is time to collect.” It moves behind me and I feel the sharpness of the blade against my neck. With a rapid movement, my throat is slit. The last thing I feel, before being completely consumed, is hot blood flowing down my chest...

            It wipes the blade clean and takes a quick survey of it’s handy work. It leaves the room, and my remains, satisfied for the moment.

              I wake up screaming. The room is dark and I try to get my bearings. I search for it in the darkest corners of the room, for it must still be here. I sit up and realize that I am not bound. I am covered in a thick film, which I determine is perspiration rather than blood. It was a dream. But it felt so real. The pain was real. I shake the sleep from  my mind as I struggle for an explanation. What was It? Where did It come from? What did It mean when It said that I desired personal gain in the past? I mop the sweat from my forehead with my palm and reach for the water glass on the nightstand. I muse that I have always wanted to help people. I do what I do for the betterment of others. This desire seemed of little consequence to the beast in my nightmare. It said that I have wanted from the beginning. It implied the constant was want, but the complexites of the desire matured with age.

              With the cobwebs of slumber gone, I am finally back in the moment, I smile and shrug, it was simply a vivid incubus with no impact on real life. I look at the clock and it is already 5:30. Time to get ready for the meeting with my boss. I do not favorably anticipate the meeting because it will be more of the same questions of why hasn't the business increased in my territory, and descriptions of the importance of revenue to the organization. They are not concerned with the affected individuals as long as they sign the dotted line. With this feeling of dread, I make my way to the bathroom sink and start lathering my face with shaving cream. What is that? I look closer in the mirror. Where did that come from? I wipe my face with a towell so I can get a better look. On my neck, there is the faintest scar that stretches from ear to ear. I shake my head as this cannot be, but it is in this moment that I realize-that I know-I have been consumed by Greed.