Happy Hallow’s Eve!

Starting the holiday spirit early!

Savor the lovely darkly frighteningly fun moments today

The Raven

by Edgar Allan Poe

(published 1845)

  Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,

Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“‘Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door-
Only this, and nothing more.”

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow;- vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow- sorrow for the lost Lenore-
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore-
Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me- filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating,
“‘Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door-
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door;-
This it is, and nothing more.”

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
“Sir,” said I, “or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you”- here I opened wide the door;-
Darkness there, and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, “Lenore?”
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, “Lenore!”-
Merely this, and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
“Surely,” said I, “surely that is something at my window lattice:
Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore-
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;-
‘Tis the wind and nothing more!”

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore;
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door-
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door-
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore.
“Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,” I said, “art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore-
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!”
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning- little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door-
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as “Nevermore.”

But the Raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered- not a feather then he fluttered-
Till I scarcely more than muttered, “Other friends have flown before-
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before.”
Then the bird said, “Nevermore.”

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
“Doubtless,” said I, “what it utters is its only stock and store,
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore-
Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore
Of ‘Never- nevermore’.”

But the Raven still beguiling all my fancy into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door;
Then upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore-
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking “Nevermore.”

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom’s core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion’s velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o’er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o’er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then methought the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose footfalls tinkled on the tufted floor.
“Wretch,” I cried, “thy God hath lent thee- by these angels he hath sent thee
Respite- respite and nepenthe, from thy memories of Lenore!
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!”
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil! – prophet still, if bird or devil! -
Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted-
On this home by Horror haunted- tell me truly, I implore-
Is there- is there balm in Gilead?- tell me- tell me, I implore!”
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil! – prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us- by that God we both adore-
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore-
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore.”
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

“Be that word our sign in parting, bird or fiend,” I shrieked, upstarting-
“Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken!- quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!”
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted- nevermore!

[This version of the poem is from the Richmond Semi-Weekly Examiner, September 25, 1849. It is generally accepted as the final version authorized by Poe. Earlier and later versions had some minor differences. Source]

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Tuesday Teaser

Featuring…Vynasha! To help get me in the spirit of revisions ;)

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 With a sudden wind and sweep of terror, the candles that had lined either side of the hearth were quenched with a low hiss. Exhaustion and hunger were forgotten in the blink of an eye as her senses came back to life. Unseen eyes burned into her back. She realized then they had been watching her for some time and with a sigh, lowered her head in defeat. A sudden wind broke through the stuffy heat causing beads of sweat to fall down her neck. With an equal sweep of terror, the candles that had lined either side of the hearth were quenched. The draft blew into the fireplace, dashing embers to pieces and tossing ashes up in a cloud that burst and then scattered through the room. She cringed from a terror that was due more to the sparks singeing her cloak than the monster hunting her. She scrambled back on her hands and knees to avoid the black cloud billowing towards her.

It was her fear of fire that became her undoing, her knowledge of what it could and had already done to her. She stumbled over unfamiliar stone steps, until her fingers eventually found something hard, sharp and ringed by thick fur. Her scream died in her throat as she stood and twisted to meet a high-set pair of luminous golden eyes.

Those intelligent, animalistic orbs were too similar to those belonging to the creatures that had haunted her on her journey through the endless forest. She could still see their glowing green eyes when she shut her lids and hear their cries as they had stalked her long into the night, desiring her flesh. Now she was faced by a terror far worse than a pack of hungry wolves.

With no other alternative, she raced back into the dissipating ashen cloud until her hands were braced against the shoulder-high hearth. The beast’s golden eyes, the only part of it she could see, pursued her with growing fury. But she had not come all this way for nothing and was not about to be eaten for dinner by a wyld animal. After taking in several deep breaths, she reached into the edge of the dying fire and gathered a fistful of hot ashes. Had her hand not already been damaged by injuries inflicted on her a lifetime past, she would have screamed from the pain. Instead the golden eyes disappeared and the massive shadow outlining the beast’s form let out a strangled and deafening roar when she threw the ashes into its face. Her heart clenched painfully and she gasped in wake of the beast’s vile breath. She coughed and choked as she decided not to wait for the creature to recover. She had no wish to feel its teeth rip her to pieces.

Without thought she ran around the ashen cloud masking the beast and down the way she had come. This must be the great evil Wolfsbane had warned her about. He had told her it waited for someone to come and wake it. Yet it was almost as though the creature had been waiting for her.

Her legs were weak after so many endless days spent traveling the wilderness, with little nourishment remaining in her aching belly. She was so weary and wondered why the cold hadn’t simply taken her when it had the chance. She should have been dead many times before this night. Whatever forces were at work, whatever it was that wanted her to remain alive, Vynasha sensed she mustn’t give up now. She must honor it.

She heard the pounding of the creature’s heavy limbs tearing upon the floor with every scrape of its claws. Unbroken roars echoed her flight over the blood red carpet of other trespassers. The hall was black as pitch without the light of the fire and candles now. It wasn’t long before she felt the creature’s hot breath high above her neck, keeping pace with her every step. Her heart pounded as she pushed harder and barely missed colliding with a thin, stoned column. She pivoted to avoid one agony, only to feel the rip of sharp clawed hands sinking desperately about her waist and then she knew no more.

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“Untrivial” Things

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I made a promise recently to only post things on this site that are honest. So here goes.

This year has been insane. Any of you who know me well personally can attest to some of the madness that has been my life. Some of it I brought onto myself, like the getting married bit ;) Still others were out of my control. Like my medical issues the last two months and then more recently my sudden career change. It’s made me feel more than a little like a fish out of water. And also made me deeply regret ever saying, “Gee, hopefully the rest of this year will go smoothly.”

FYI to any of you looking for a silver lining, it’s not always a good idea to expect God to make your life suddenly easier. Because He’s not in the habit of that. Not that it’s outside His control, but there’s this thing called free will and just the way of the world that tends to rule out many outcomes. I will say this much. That through everything, I haven’t felt more loved or looked after than these last three or four months. I’ve been reminded of what’s most important in life.

This year has also taught me that it really is okay to struggle through change. While not always fun. Okay, almost never fun, change isn’t something to fear, rather something to embrace. I was told once by a very old friend of mine that we’re kind of like oak trees. We grow really fast on the outside in sudden spurts. Then we stop growing for a longer time. Even though you can’t see the change happening, we’re growing on the inside to accommodate for the sudden change.

I won’t say that I want things to be easier, or even better the rest of this year. But I do hope that maybe we can take a breath and let our hearts and minds catch up on the inside.

Thanks to all of you who have been so wonderful. And to those of you who have read or plan to read my books! That brings me a different kind of joy, to hear from you and to get to know you. So please don’t be shy. Share your thoughts, opinions and wishes.

Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!

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Tuesday Teaser

Today’s teaser comes from revisions to a little project I’ve been working on the side with Jessica Augustsson. Stay tuned for future posts about this special anthology!


DSCN4784_2The little girl who named me sat on her stool and pressed her hand to the wall, where my hand pushed through. Our fingertips brushed together. A smile crossed her too solemn face.

“Una? Why don’t you come out of the wall and meet my mommy and daddy? I tried telling them about you again and they told me to start playing a different game. Why won’t you meet them?”

Pain pricked my solid heart. Ever since the day she started speaking to me it had begun to beat more steadily again. “I cannot fade away. The walls are my home.”

Confusion and frustration crossed her miniature features, a smaller prettier version of her mother. “But Una, how will we ever really go to England together if you can’t leave home?”

“I cannot fade away.” I didn’t know how to be solid like the others. Every time I had tried, whatever tied me to the walls closed a tighter grip round me instead.

“No!” She pushed away from the wall, stamped her foot. She was angry with me. I couldn’t blame her. “Una, you just haven’t tried hard enough! Why won’t you try?”

Before I could open my mouth to answer, her mother entered the room with fear in her eyes. “Adele, darling, who are you talking to?”

“I’m talking to Una, mother. Can’t you see her? I want her to come out of the wall and move with us, but she won’t try like she promised!”

Mother smiled and glanced my way with some amusement. I always wondered what would happen if Adele’s mother actually tried to look. Even now as she knelt onto the rug and took her daughter’s hand in her own, she saw with unseeing eyes. “I think…maybe I can see something.” She pretended to stare and I desperately wished she would want to see. It wasn’t the first time I found myself wishing it was my hand Mother was holding too. I wished in vain.

“Come downstairs, darling,” Mother said with a shrug and sigh. “You’ve spent enough time cooped up indoors.”

“No! Not without Una!” Adele kicked and hollered until Father came rushing upstairs and into the bedroom.

“Do not argue with me this time, Adele!” he shouted, “We’re leaving now.”

“Harold!” Mother cried, pulling at his arm in vain.

“It’s for her own good!” he growled.

“No! No! Una! Una!” She cried and her hand reached out for me. “UNA!”

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Scarlett, Sequel to a Classic

Click on the picture to Read My Review

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While I went through a rough patch last week, I rediscovered a good old-ish classic. My mother’s copy of Scarlett by Alexandra Ripley (thanks for letting me “borrow” Mom;) includes illustrations of this beautifully controversial sequel to Gone With the Wind.

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Tuesday Teaser

Today’s, or rather tonight’s teaser features a current re-write. Hopefully I’ll have something to show for it by the end of this year. Sometimes the best writing is revisiting past stories, like opening up an old book. It’s like turning the pages of an old friend and breathing life back into it.


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Emrys walked around to the tall horses to speak to the hunched over man seated behind them. “Couldn’t have met us sooner, eh Cutterworthy? This forest is crawling with Gwyllion. And don’t even get me started on the bogwrens…”

“Bogwrens?” Amie echoed as she came round to stand with him.

“Oh aye! Foul little devils stalked us from the moment we made it through the outer veil.”

Before Amie could challenge him the elegantly garbed driver tipped up his top hat with a gloved hand

“Kip yer chide, boy! Can’t you see this poor child has been through enough?”

Emrys crossed his arms over his chest and mumbled under his breath.

“I must ask you forgive me, miss!” Cutterworthy addressed to her. “So sorry to have kept you waiting. Though I trust the honorable Emrys kept you in good health? Your uncle has been most anxious to see you.” His pale brown eyes twinkled brightly in his grizzled face.

Amie managed to shut her gaping mouth and inclined her head to the carriage door. “I’m going to Henry’s place in that?” There was no doubt this was the mysterious man’s doing. It sat right up there with his cryptic letters and her father’s old stories. Insanity must run through the family. She glanced over at the brooding Emrys and amended her theory.

Not just the family, then. Something in the water?

The man laughed and eased back in his seat. “Aye!” he said. “’Tis the idea, miss. Least those were my orders from the Master. You are the Lady Jessamiene of Wenderdowne, are you not?” Even his horses stood quietly and inclined their heads towards her then. Amie blinked dumbly back.

Emrys sighed heavily, “Just play along, lass.”

“Shut up,” she hissed at him, then grinned up at the driver. “Whatever Uncle Henry says. Anything’s better than jumping trains and running through the woods with him.” She thumbed at the tall man in question.

Emrys stared at her with a slant of his mouth. “Wasn’t entirely unpleasant.” He winked. She blushed and clenched her fists while he ran a hand down one of the horse’s necks. “Enough chatter. Word will have got to the other side of her arrival and I’m not taking any chances on them popping up.”

“May you get what’s coming to you, boy,” the driver said with a mad chuckle.

Emrys shook his head but called back, “Same to you, old scale back.” And without another word he turned and headed for the other side of the road into an even blacker forest.

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The Fault In My Expression

It is somewhat amazing that I have not posted anything of substance in a while. There are many good real life reasons for this. Alas, I cannot disclose the nature of my personal circumstances. Let me therefore explain the sad state of things instead.

Writing is my biggest passion, besides drawing and piano and dance (of which I know little of). And like all these things I have hardly practiced these passions at all, besides the reading. My beta-bestie, Allison, lent me “The Fault In Our Stars,” which while at times slightly pretentious and way too existential, is a beautiful story. I’ve loved the writing, the characters and the symbolism of the whole thing. It didn’t make me cry, but it made me think long and hard. Practically every time I read this book it leaves me with thoughts of simply everything. So rather than a feeling book or film, this is a story that leaves me thinking and that is a rarity. Because of this, I might even say Mister Green has written a slice of brilliance, just maybe. Even on the normal side of brilliance, he has given us a different perspective and a broader understanding.

Rather than inducing thoughts of death, for me it brought to mind my own writing and the stories I set out to tell. I don’t even know if Mister Green sets out to accomplish this with every book he writes, create a slice of brilliance, that is. Or if he is just intuitive. But I started thinking of storytelling and my mad rush over the last year to just pump those novels out. That’s what everybody says, right? Quantity over quality is the only way to make buck in this game. Well I don’t believe that is true anymore. At least, it isn’t relevant to me anymore. I don’t want to write a dozen books in five years. I want to write one book in five years that matters in some way. If it doesn’t matter to anyone else, I want it to matter to me the same way Stay mattered to me.

I want to write maybe a bit less but a lot more. I want to read in chunks and regurgitate little. For the last month of personal chaos, I could not understand where my drive disappeared to. Why couldn’t I love it the way I should. Why didn’t any of it matter anymore? I lost my relevance. Or maybe life was just so overwhelming I didn’t have time to live fantasy worlds through my fingertips. Maybe it has been a much needed, albeit brief sabbatical, or maybe it was all leading to this single, important revision.

I’m going to change. I already have changed. I want to find ways to tell the stories that need to be told. And find the courage to set aside those that don’t.

My posts may not be so frequent meantime, but rest assured I am continuously laboring over sequels and side projects and above all things, love.

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Alice in the Hollow

Listening to THIS

While working on THIS

Jenn-BusinessCard3Seemed like an ideal fit ;)

 

 

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Reaching Farther, Higher, Closer

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Tonight I thought I’d just get down and dirty real with y’all :) So beware if you dislike candid, occasionally zany musings from an eccentric chocoholic. Okay, you were warned…

I’ve been reading up everywhere for ways to not necessarily be a better author, but how to make it in this big biz. It seems like everyone is an author these days. You can publish an unedited memoir about texting if you fancy. And I’m sure that somewhere out there, someone is going to purchase it off Amazon. Has the Indie Pub phenomenon taken away the value of what we’re trying to do? Most days I would call it a dream maker. Amazon Kindle certainly answered my dreams two years ago. 

But now I look back with a distanced perspective and wonder if I could and should have waited. Should I have tried to build up a different type of resume instead of books that I continue to change? Even recently, after Silver Hollow came up for free promotion again, a part of me winced knowing it could be better. I even started working on a new new draft of that story, completely revamping the plot. I like to think that in a year or less, maybe more, I can re-release it and give it the kind of polishing I wanted for my first novel in the first place. 

And everyone in this market is always saying how social media is key. How Twitter is essential as all types to get your words out there. But every time I go on Twitter, all I see is a bunch of people shouting at the air. I’ve posted, twice now, asking if anyone out there actually reads these posts and received no reply. So I have to wonder, does anyone actually read other people’s Twitter feeds, or do we just “share” our own news. Before I signed up for Twitter, I felt like it was an even more narcissistic version of Facebook, a way for people to shout out about themselves. It’s difficult for me to see it as a tool, though maybe that’s because I just don’t know how? 

I’ve heard and read all kinds of advice from friends about how to make a mark, to give your stamp to online world. But sometimes I don’t feel like anybody besides a few actually hear me. And aren’t I just as guilty? Don’t I peruse different author sites, looking at books and sometimes advice, but rarely on a regular basis? And how do we even have time to be active participants in the online world? Being absent only a few days seems like an eternity next to the pros who post daily, multiple times a day. I wish I could come up with something just as interesting without repeating myself. 

DSCN4867Some days I wonder if I could have done things differently. And the answer is, yes, I certainly could have. I could have tried to find an agent and publish through a traditional house, where rejection is a common, every-day thing. It might have taken me longer, but I might have been more seasoned and less eager to simply publish. Fact of the matter is, I can’t go back and change things and I can’t simply wish them better. No one becomes a pro overnight and no one sees all their dreams realized in one full swing. Unless you win the lottery and I just know there’s a catch-twenty-two with that. We each have our goals and our individual dreams. And by regretting my past choices, I am kind of slapping myself in the face. Because I have to remember that at the time, my dreams were similar, just not so lofty. And that’s part of learning, part of growing. Every day, I try to seek out new and fresh ideas, ways that can teach me how to be the best author I can be. 

As you can see by this long semi-rant, I don’t have it all together, much as I would like to. It’s all part of the journey and we have to eat away at that elephant one bite at a time. I am grateful for the people who have helped make this adventure possible, and the ones who continue to support and teach and help me grow. Without them I wouldn’t be where I am today, and I mean that much more than a simple cliché.

I know I’m not the only one out there trying to figure things out. I would love to hear from y’all too, any advice or thoughts and opinions you might share. And I’m always open to words of wisdom, be they the length of a dissertation or a fortune cookie. 

 

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Tuesday Teaser

Much to my delight and surprise, I found enough inspiration to work on something I had not thought to revisit again. Read the following teaser and see if you can guess what story it is from. ;)


Wenderdowne


Several moments after the rough landing, Amie recovered her wits enough to stand. She stared, disbelieving at the increasingly distant train.

“Well,” the Britt began, “that could have been a lot worse.” He came to stand beside her and dusted off the sleeves of his trench coat.

Amie clenched her fists, her wrath growing in spite of all her efforts to reign in. But her eyes took him in, from his messy, upright black hair and his amused expression and she lost it. “Are you crazy!” she screamed and hit his chest with a fist for emphasis. “All my clothes—my manuscript—everything was on that train!”

He tucked his chin and she thought she saw pity in his eyes before he thumbed at the howling train. “Um, yeah, about that…”

An explosion ripped the words from his mouth and roared in her ears. His arms were around her again as the train burst from the tracks. Fire claimed each car as the train combust from within and a shower of debris and black smoke followed.

“Let go of me!” Amie growled past the ringing in her ears as she ran toward the debris. Surely enough clothes were flying through the air. And for a bitter moment, she thought she saw a pair of her colorful Wonder Woman panties waving like a flag on the wind. She buried her face in her hands and hoped her mortification allowed for a quick and sudden death.

“Right, thank Oberon that’s over and done with,” her companion spoke from behind her.

Amie peeked between her fingers and shook her head as the tall Britt surveyed the scattered debris with something akin to amusement. “Is this funny to you?” She rubbed the scar above her chest to soothe its sudden annoying tingle and stepped in front of her rescuer.

He took in her appearance for the first time and a single black brow arched sharply in thought. Yet when he opened his mouth to answer he hesitate and then seemed to think better of speech. He shrugged.

Amie shoved against his shoulders and shouted over his protests. “You have stranded us in the middle of the English countryside and you think it’s no big deal?”

His dark eyes narrowed into furious slits. “What would you have me do, lass? There’s only so much rescuing I can manage. And let’s just say that in your case, it’s a full time job.”

She laughed. “My life was pretty boring before you showed up!”

He rolled his eyes and then popped a perfectly winning grin as he reached over their heads and caught a piece of black lacy fabric in his hand. Somberly, he intoned, “Oh my, I hope this wasn’t the conductor’s.”

“Hey! Those are mine!” Amie hated being embarrassed almost as much as she hated her fair skin for leaving no doubt to her mortification. She jumped to snatch her favorite panties but they only rose higher against the wind, pinched between his fingers like a flag to pole.

His amusement faded however as he froze and turned his ear to the billowing smoke above. Quickly shoving her nightwear into his back pocket, he grabbed her with his opposite hand. “Come along, lass. Those weren’t any ordinary slitherkin.”

Amie stumbled in her effort to look back at the sick and twisted wreckage. And surely enough, she could almost make out half a dozen of the black and gray garbed attackers picking themselves up from the debris. “Slytherin? Isn’t it a little cliché to be a British Harry Potter geek?”

He shook his head and grumbled, “Perhaps you should refrain from speaking such nonsense while we’re being hunted. In fact, why don’t you shut up altogether, savvy?” He jerked her on towards the thick wood bordering the moor in a manner that did not invite protest.

“Where are we going?” she said as they passed underneath the outermost edge of the tree line. Her converse were not built for hiking.

“Away from here.”

“You aren’t taking me out here just so you can kill me, are you?”

“The thought had crossed my mind.”

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