Covid update

Hi Peeps

After the last post I have not had the heart to post anything for a while. A lot has changed in these few weeks though and I think it is time to touch sides.

Covid19, a tiny, membraned RNA virus, has put the entire world on its back.  Uncounted small businesses have closed their doors; independent people are suddenly out of an income or (in countries like here) on social welfare.  Larger businesses have also either closed down, or alternatively, if they could, leveraged the situation by going online.

Online business is flourishing.

Children have been sent home to remote-school.  I as an ex-homeschooling mom can’t call it home school as it does not entail selecting your own content.  All content is still prescribed.  But there’s still significant benefit, in that each student ends up responsible for their own progress and learning, with no teacher to blame it on.

I’m holding down the day-job from home office.  At the same time I’m one of the lucky ones who can just carry on from home, and not so lucky as there is no break to do much of anything with the publishing.  There are ongoing technical issues with new books we are trying release on Amazon as they have changed their systems;  nevertheless, our existing books are on Amazon as before, and on Smashwords a number of them are actually on special.

Highlights of this special are:

Mercury Silver: (Short stories by 8 authors)

From My Cold Undead Hand (Marie Marshall: Vampires)

The Blue Between (Annemarie Luck:  Love story)

Split Decision (Carmen Capuano: Crime Fiction)

Arcana (gipsika: Urban Magic Story)

The Solar Wind series ( Lyz Russo: Pirates/ Science Fiction)

Some are free, some are deeply discounted.

Go check it out, and have fun reading!






R.I.P Les Noble


It is with shock and grief that I heard last night that on the 13th of March, our friend, and chief editor, and long-term associate of P’kaboo, Leslie Noble, lost his fight against cancer.

He fought this illness like a champion, keeping spirits high, taking care of his granddaughters, tackling new projects and looking after his friendships.  He was one of the most vivacious people I’ve ever come across.  P’kaboo lost an amazing author and editor; for me personally, a close friend crossed over to the other side.  My children lost one of their favourite authors.

Les, your fight is over and it is good that you are no longer in pain.  May you rest in peace.  May your family find comfort.  Our deepest condolences.

I know, as you believed too, that you are around, still looking out for your loved ones and your friends.  We shall meet again beyond that Gate.  We’ll miss you in the here and now.

… gipsika…

Friday Story Time

Bloggies, I have to apologize.  No fresh Saoirse story tonight, the next instalment will have to wait for next week.  I’m posting something I wrote some time back (2014 if I’m not mistaken).  Iain definitely still heard this one.

It is still first draft.  I’ll turn my focus to it at some point.

Vanya the Terrib

Vanya the Terrib locked her front door behind herself. She sank the small electronic key into her lightweight white leather handbag and descended the stairwell. Down and down and down. Nine stories of stairwell, from the small apartment she occupied – lightly – to the minimalist, lamp-lit gardens and the road. Where the bus was waiting. She climbed the single step and listened for the barely audible “blib” with which the bus registered her identichip and connected to her account. She found herself a spot to stand and held onto the handrail as the bus slid into soundless motion on its bearing-chains. And she watched the city slide by, its lights swimming in the liquid gloss of the night.

Another workday. Or work night, depending how you wanted to see it. She checked the contents of her handbag mentally. It wasn’t a good idea to open it in public. In any case it didn’t contain much; her apartment key, her identichip, a bit of lip gloss. And her ideas booklet and stylus. It was the latter that was the riskiest item.

The bus slowed and slid to a noiseless halt in front of the great building of black glass. Vanya stepped off and took note of the second tiny “blip” with which the bus fare was calculated completely and withdrawn from her account. And she headed towards the building of glass and moved through the sliding door as quietly as the bus that left behind her .

Her boss had called her in for a new assignment. She was working on two, currently; but you never resisted when more work was offered, as the Service could replace you at the drop of a hat. She stepped into the glass elevator, touched the correct image and waited. And stepped off it again as it arrived at its destination, three hundred stories above ground level. And walked through the deep plush carpet, and touch-opened the door to the office of her boss.

Brendan Connor rose from his spot behind his desk to greet Vanya. He was only one rank below the top; working for him was supposedly an honour. Despite his youth his achievements in the Service were remarkable. He had received the Lancer Medal twice in the last two years, and the Senning Prize once, at a time when he was seventeen. By now in his mid-twenties, it was practically certain that he’d be succeeding the General-in-Chief of the organization when the old man retired.

“Miss Terrib,” he greeted her. Vanya had to smile. Brendan Connor was a very formal person. And it also reminded her that he knew less about her than he thought; which was great. But she wasn’t even going to follow this train of thought, as the hypno-enhancers in this building were always running on full tilt, to facilitate reading of thoughts to this not-fully-talented young man.

The fact was, he was no mutant. He was just an ordinary human throwback, albeit with a brilliant mind. And to survive in the world of 2347, you had to be at least a mutant in two separate capacities. Ordinary humans had a very tough time.

He knew it, of course. It didn’t make him happy. She had read off his mind, on several occasions, the desire to father offspring that carried at least a number of mutations – but he was antisocial; while brilliant at his job, he’d never be able to persuade any lady – much less a mutant – to carry any offspring for him.

She glanced out of the window-walls of his luxurious office, at the untainted night sky.

“Miss Terrib,” said Connor. “You are currently working on two assignments. I have removed them both out of your portfolio.”

What! She stared at him, electrified. With what had she deserved that?

“Not due to any inefficiency on your part,” he assured her with a smile. The superior smile that came with being the Chosen One. “You can be at ease. I have delegated your two assignments to Janie Marioid and Nexus Beckham.”

She refrained from asking why; merely listened to him, her violet eyes intent.

“The nature of tonight’s assignment allows no distraction,” explained Connor. He handed her a chip.

Vanya connected the chip into her ideas booklet. The small screen lit up, and several warning screens and code slots popped up. Vanya patiently applied her signature with her stylus, adding a couple of extra security loops to prove that she was authorized. And the first instruction appeared on her booklet.

A name. Michayl Ran. That was all.

She raised her large eyes to Connor once more, not asking.

“It’s all we have on the criminal,” he said. “His name.”

2. Michayl Ran

If you worked for the Service, you worked odd hours. Vanya had had her required daily four hours of sleep just before going in to see Connor; which meant that now, at 22h, she was as most others were at eight in the morning.

Going back to the apartment was not appealing. One name. They had given her one single name. There had to be hundreds of Michayl Rans. She didn’t even have an indication whether the man she was looking for, was alive today.

It was a maddening assignment. She could presume that her orders were to find the man; or possibly, find out about him. What was he wanted for? Was he a criminal, or a key enemy? Where could she start finding out more?

She had reflexively scanned her superior’s thoughts for any information he was not disclosing. Once again the man had been too slow for her; she had received quite an insight into his mind before he’d drawn the shutters. It was of course rude to the point of a civil offence to pry into another’s thoughts. But pure humans, the kind without any genetic modification, were generally easy to dodge on this. Even the sharp first-in-line of Sanity Inc, the secret service organization that hid behind the image of an asylum.

And that fast scan of her superior’s mind had revealed nothing extra. They had not briefed him. They had only told him the name, instructed him to give it to his most talented agent, and impressed the importance of the mission on him.

It had been an important insight. He was not hostile at present. He had accepted that he was the top candidate to follow in the role of the General-in-chief. He had stopped seeing every last underling as competition – for now. This was a relief; it meant that he wasn’t about to sabotage her.

But it brought her no closer to any answers. Vanya checked into an all-night café and bought herself an espresso and a ring pasty. She pored over the name that was by now deleted from her ideas booklet and engraved in her mind. Michayl Ran.

There was commotion outside the glass of the café. Vanya looked up with mild interest, chewing on her ring pasty. There were cops in blue fluorescent uniforms, arguing loudly with somebody. And then they entered the café.

“V. Nascale, Third Class Citizen!”

Vanya stared at them in surprise, miming the perfect reaction of an uninvolved onlooker. She deliberately blanked her mind, then pulled a shield across, of her alternative persona, Violet Garret.

She’d been too slow. One of the policemen walked straight up to her, holding out hand links. Vanya’s violet eyes stared at him in innocent shock; but the shock on her insides was real. Here was a master mage. The Force only employed those for first-degree criminals.

Her thoughts in turmoil, she compliantly held out her wrists to be chained with the thin silver wire, and her hands taped with the tiny receptor electrodes. The café lady gaped at her in shock as she downed her espresso and allowed the police to lead her away, out of the glass doors to their small vehicle.

Vanya allowed herself to be bullied into the tiny four-seater. The car folded its pods in under its belly and took off in a swarm with the other four police cars; the cop who had followed her into the cabin, held the remote to her hand-links high, where she could see it. She relaxed, accepting that all resistance was futile. And she forced herself not to wonder to herself what this was about, what she was being arrested for, and what lay ahead. A mage could read you like a white screen; and the police officer under whose control she was, was such a man. Quad or quint mutant, at least.

The small vehicle in which she was caught with this dangerous officer of the law, and the driver, veered away from the swarm with a signal and turned to the right, down the bright streaming light tunnels of the City. She iced. This could only mean that she was being taken to the maximum security unit. She watched in her overview mind how the rest of the swarm returned to the police headquarters to report in successful and wait for the next order. And then she tentatively touched on the mind of the driver.

The result was an instant rebuff.

“Oi could have you arrested for that!” snapped the driver, glancing briefly at her. She had to smile. She was already arrested.
The small vehicle followed the light patterns of the city for what seemed an eternity; then suddenly it veered upward, and tumbled away, through a release passage, into the black night.

Vanya scowled and stopped herself from wondering where they were going. She’d heard of a prison unit in some far reaches of the City; perhaps it was easier to take the shortcut through open space. But the vehicle steered well away from the City. The lights of the huge metropolis fell behind, and for the first time Vanya saw the City as it was, a floating structure of light, metal and glass in the fathomless blackness of space.

And the vehicle continued curving away. Away, even, from Luna, the City’s mother anchor planetoid.

She didn’t dare to ask. She didn’t want to know. From second to second her thoughts were being monitored, not only by the mage officer but by the feedback of the hand-links to the small apparatus the mage held in his hand. She didn’t dare to glance at him, either – behind the impermeable polyrene mask there had to be some person, some identity. She would have looked for his eyes, to determine the degree of mutancy, if she’d dared. But…

They fell through the night for a very long time. It was frightening, not having any real point of reference other than Sol – the large sun, nearly the size of a copper dc, a doublet coin. No up or down; left, right were interchangeable.

She knew beyond doubt by now that they were taking her off-site. She had heard rumours of high-security prisons and work camps as far as Luna and even Mars; and she had heard whispered insinuations of more, of interstellar prisons. Why – no, she should not even wonder. It was too dangerous.

And then the car curved towards a blue-green sphere, with something like haze surrounding it.

Vanya had been keeping so still that she didn’t have any more rigid to go to. But her back stiffened significantly when she realized that they were taking her to Earth.

Surely, whatever they thought she had done couldn’t possibly be that vile? She had heard, once, of a criminal who was so corrupt that he was condemned to Earth. For life – which wasn’t expected to last long beyond that.

And for the first time something strange reared up in her. She wanted to live! At least she wanted to know what her crime was! She cleared her throat to protest, and instantly the electric shock from the hand-links zinged through her, derailing her fine-tuned senses.

“You stay quiet,” growled the huge police officer next to her. “Speak when spoken to. I didn’t need to say it.”

Vanya watched the blue planet approach. The whole thing didn’t make sense to her. She could see craters and deserts where the radioactivity had rampaged on; but she could also see amazing green stretches, and wondered what creatures might live in those green hells. And then the car was crashing down towards the ground, faster than comfort. Primal fear gripped Vanya and she squeezed her eyes shut. The police wouldn’t send their own officers to their deaths, particularly not a mind mage of the first degree.

The horrible sensation of falling stopped. Vanya opened her eyes, hyperventilating. They had come to a halt in front of a very strange structure in the sunlight. A squat, four-story building made of what looked like square rocks. It did have glass, but sparingly, as windows only. She wondered why.

The hatch opened and the huge policeman bullied her out of the cabin, and led her rather roughly, her arm in his iron grip, towards the entrance of that building. He pushed her in through the door and man-handled her towards what looked like an elevator – but a strange one, made of metal. The thing had no doors. Until they were inside, when the doors suddenly appeared out of its sides and closed, squealing. Metal doors. You couldn’t see where you were going.

The police mage punched something into the small touch-panel and the rickety thing ascended. Not smoothly. It felt as though it were going to fall apart any moment. It sounded the same. Vanya breathed cautiously; the air here was somehow thick and heavy. She wondered how much atomic heavy metal she was inhaling and how long she could breathe like this before she died from it.

Earth. Planet from distant nightmares. Here she was; she couldn’t believe it.

The horrible elevator arrived on the fourth floor. The doors squealed open. Vanya was pushed across an expanse of raw cement, and towards a metal door. The officer grabbed the handle and pushed it. And the door swung open.

The police mage gave Vanya a rough shove into the room and released her. He placed the remote control onto the large executive desk and nodded briefly at the person behind that desk, and left the room, closing the door behind himself. Vanya stared after him in surprise; and then she looked at the man in front of her.

This certainly gave a new dimension to the concept of under cover work!  A thousand questions.  And a very dark suspicion.  Had her boss found a neat way to get rid of the only mutant who ever questioned his authority?

The grey-haired man smiled, picked up the remote and glanced at it, and sank it into his pocket. He got up from his executive chair – an old, weird-looking chair, but nevertheless executive – stood towering. An impressive, intimidating height. And looked down at Vanya, and extended a hand.

“I’m Mick,” he introduced himself. “Michayl Ran.”



… and that’s enough for tonight, otherwise you’ll get hyper.  😀

signing off…




Who remembers you now, Timmy Maher?

I love the way he paints with words. Enjoy!

Jon Fog

IMG_0913 The beginning of a January sunset around the desolate remains of Timmy Maher’s once fine dwelling-house and outbuildings.

You’re coming back to me now, Timmy Maher. You, and this place of yours that I cycled to so often, so many summers ago – and had long since forgotten.
But you’re taking shape again in my mind, since I stopped by chance at this gate. And realised … I know this place.
Or had known it, once.
But not as I see it now: bereft and sorrowful against a wintry sky.

Chance, it was, that brought us to you back then – two boys out from the town on bikes: one hot summer’s day; exploring the mystery down strange country roads. Cautiously opening the gate that used to be here, stepping into your yard;  thirsty, in search of water. Something about you and this place was beyond being measured by our…

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Friday Story Time: Saoirse o’ Niocaill o’ Dalranoii (1)

The backstory:

Smierc, a.k.a. Magere Hein, employs Kelly as a ghostwriter to capture stories of people who cannot tell their story themselves.


Grab a free copy with Coupon: JS22J


Saoirse o’ Niocaill o’ Dalranoii (1)

Kelly straightened out from weeding the garden and looked up into the skies, which were actually blue.  Yes, spring had arrived.  What had caught her eye was a movement up there; she shaded her eyes with her garden-gloved hand, peering up against the glare of the morning sun.

She had not imagined it.  It came swooping past again, hunting – something, what?  There weren’t that many insects on the wing yet, perhaps some unfortunate early mayfly.  The early worm, she thought with a small cynical smile.  It was worth waiting.  The swallow swooped past again.

“Hey, little raptor,” Kelly muttered, as though the bird could understand her words.  “Fresh this morning, isn’t it?”

“She’s a lively little spirit,” commented Smierc, behind her.  Kelly nearly jumped out of her skin.  She had not heard him approach; had somehow missed the subsonic roar of his Harley’s engines outside; and she was quite sure that the front door was locked, so how had he got into her back garden?

She peered up at the tall man in jeans and hoodie, once again her eyes dodging the actual facial features.  Hypnosis, she thought.  That’s how he does it.

“Is it already time for work?” she asked, pulling off her garden gloves with a sigh.

“You will like this assignment,” Smierc assured her.

“I like most of them,” she said.

“But this one is special,” he insisted, leading the way back through the house and waiting for her to lock up and put on her coat and working boots.


A short while later, the Harley was humming through the dimensions before setting down on a lush green meadow, sloping away into the hazy distance under skies that were lighter and somehow more luminous than those in Kelly’s garden earlier.  It was clearly spring here too; but the nip in the air was a bit colder.

A little town lay at the bottom of the slope, cradled on one side by a woody glen.  Smierc shut off the engines of the interdimensional Harley, and the machine turned into smoke and vanished into his hoodie’s pocket.  Kelly landed on her feet without batting an eye.  The first few times, she had lost her balance scandalously as the motorcycle disappeared out under her, and had stumbled pathetically to the ground, with Smierc apologizing profusely (he also had to adjust to having a live human passenger), but by now she was used to the trick and got by without as much as a single adverb.

“Where are we?” she asked, “and when are we?”

“Hibernia,” he said, “early 16th century.”

“Really?  Ireland?”  Looks not too different, she thought.  She had visited the place once, in her own real time, before signing up with this ghostwriter job.  “Where in Ireland?”

“Crumlin,” said Smierc.  “A story starts here.”

She followed him down the hill towards the town.  Crumlin.  “So where is Crumlin?”

“In your time, its a Dublin suburb,” said Smierc.  “In this time, it is pretty much an isolated little town.  The Crooked Glen.”

“Haha,” said Kelly.  “For fear of little men!”

“Funny you should mention that,” said Smierc with a hint of amusement.  “Quiet now.  Look.”

They had reached the village, and the soft chiming of the forge in the distance, to the universal tune of blacksmithy everywhere:  clack-clack-clink, clack-clack-clink.  A square church tower stood visible above the houses, at the same time medieval and startlingly new.  Smierc directed her past some more houses – businesses, she thought, butcher, baker… towards the town square.  And out the other end, to where the clack-clack-clink echoed through the morning.

Smierc pulled something out of his hoodie pocket and tossed it at Kelly, who caught the cloak with one hand and fastened it around her shoulders, pulling the hood over her head.  Human eyes would not see her now.  She was as invisible a spectator as Death, which was useful for every first observation.

Smierc led the way, opening the heavy wooden door to the smithy with a touch of his slender fingers.  They entered silently and oriented themselves.  The blacksmith himself was at work forging something – it looked like it might become a horseshoe.  He beckoned impatiently at an apprentice who was apparently not bringing the bucket of water fast enough.  Kelly looked at the young apprentice, the teenager, and looked again, and blinked…

“But that is…”

Smierc nodded.  “Nicholas of the Dalranoii.  The original immigrant.”

She peered sidelong at Smierc.

“He came from Lithuania, crossed the sea,” he elaborated.  “The stories are vague what he was running away from.  You know this soul, Kelly.”

“Hell, yeah,” she muttered, thinking of their most recent encounter.  Not much fun!

“The point is,” said Smierc, “this is about another soul entirely.  Someone you need to rescue.  Something this fellow here puts out of balance.”

“The klutz,” she couldn’t stop herself from remarking.  Nicholas o’ Dalranoii stopped and glanced in her direction, peering as though he were trying to see something.  Ha.  Her!

A swallow dropped down from the eaves and landed on Smierc’s extended index finger.

“There you are, Saoirse,” smiled the bone man as the bird gave a few spirited chirps.

“Get yer sorry butt back here, lad,” bellowed the blacksmith.  “Standing there ogling the birds on the trees!  Are ye off with the fairies then?”

Nicholas hurried up with the water bucket, tripped over a stool that was standing in the way, and the water went flying, drenching the smith.

Saoirse took to the skies again, after chirping at Kelly as though she were trying to tell her something.  Smierc beckoned to Kelly, who turned her back reluctantly on what was promising to become a very exciting scene, and followed Death out of the doorway.

“We’ll take this in stages,” said Smierc as he mounted his Harley that had materialized just outside the smithy, and indicated to Kelly to take the pillion seat.   “It’s a story that plays out over quite some time.  You have met her now.”

“Saoirse?  She’s a bird?”

Smierc grinned quietly to himself as the Harley took off with the two of them, warping back across dimensions and time.










& for our Romantics out there

Smashwords special coupons for 5 of our books featuring romance, for 7days only.

Coupon Code:  EG74W

You know how this works by now.

Here are the links:

The Blue Between (Annemarie Luck)

Split Decision (Carmen Capuano)

Arcana (gipsika)

Mercury Silver (Shortstories – 8 Authors)

The Mystery of the Solar Wind (Lyz Russo)

These are deep discounts and I don’t know if I’ll feel like offering such deep ones again, so now is your moment!  🙂 Follow the links and pick up your reads for the following week.

… signing off.


King of the Woods all over

2015 – Valentine’s Day.

Kids were at Scouts.  Iain stole me away and we went to Brooklyn, to dawdle through the centre and just spend some time.  We found an art exhibition, and spent a lot of time gazing at the paintings.  There was one of a Spanish Dancer – very similar to the snapshot I had taken of our own Real Spanish Dancer, Retha, who had graced our house concert with her performance.


I made him sit on some of the artwork so I could take pictures of my “gypsy rover”.

And here are the actual photos of our dancer again:


(I don’t dare post the painting from Brooklyn gallery as it is not mine and I don’t have “distribution” rights – a lecture we took today that had me scooting into several rabbitholes at once, causing me a fair deal of panic as copyright issues always do.)

Iain believed in courting his wife.  He’d figured it out somehow.  It’s the secret to keeping a marriage from going stale – for 26 years!  He also never held back from telling me he loved me – even though he knew I’d heard it thousand times before, he knew that I wanted to hear it in that moment.  Soppy, romantic, sure.  Also, it works.

There are many things I’ll miss until I walk through that door myself.  The way his eyes lit up when he – or I – came home and we saw each other after being apart for hours!.  The unedited broad smile; the way he was direct and WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) with his feelings.  The loud, unfiltered laugh that used to shake the walls and make everyone in a 100m radius laugh along even if they didn’t know why.  The witty comments on everything, his way of quoting songs to reflect every situation.  There was a time early in the writing of the Solar Wind cycle when every second sentence referenced some song.  The way he sang out loud randomly whenever he liked, without worrying about people’s opinions – he was after all a professional muzo and was not apologizing about it!  I loved that he lived larger than life.  I always felt that I was  somehow more myself when he was around.  It’s the magic of charisma. He wasn’t even aware of it!

I was always so scared of the passage of time; of life trickling past, getting older, our kiddies growing up, us losing our youth, and running the risk of losing each other…

You know, in PNI there is a technique called the Worst Case Scenario.  You play through the worst case scenario of what you fear, in your mind, and then think how you would cope if that should actually come to pass.  I could work through tons of worst case scenarios, but whenever it involved one of us dying (one of us 5), it was like a brick wall, or rather like an abyss – life stopped there, there was no way further.

We’ve gone down that cliff.  There’s stuff down here still.  The kids are way ahead, moving off into the distance on their own missions.  Me, I’m still counting broken bones.  Sometimes I think I’m on the way forward, and then something wakes me up and I’m still sitting there at the bottom of the cliff counting bones.

So when I listen to this thing here:


… all I hear is Death.


But it’s amazing though, I can almost understand the Romanian words.  Some time during the writing of the Solar Wind I immersed myself a bit in learning Romanian, Romany and Spanish, to understand Federi and Perdita respectively.  I tried a bit of Irish but didn’t get far, and now I’m learning Irish immersively and it is NOT a simple, straightforward thing!  Both Romanian and Spanish are Latin-root languages.  Irish is not.  It’s not Germanic-root either except for some concepts which sound deceptively like German – but it is Celtic-root, so if one accepts the phonetics working a bit like in French, and the subject being embedded in the verb like some parts of Latin, and then learn the quirks of the language a bit like learning to read star maps…





Friday Storytime: Soup Kitchen for Lost Souls (2)

Hi Peeps.  You may have noticed from last week’s post’s timing that it was 1 am (not even Friday anymore, injury time) and I was as tired as the poor lost soul from the soup kitchen, after a full working week (LOL!).  In a state like that, writing turns out interesting. 😀  I find it funny that I ended with poor ol’ Nick saying something in a bone-tired voice just before I signed off.

Anyway here is the rest.

The backstory:

Hein Smierc employs Kelly Jennings to ghost-write for people who are in no position to get their story published.

Last week: The Soup Kitchen for Lost Souls (1)

The Soup Kitchen for Lost Souls (2)

There was total silence.  Kelly’s half-awake senses tried listening for familiar sounds:  Traffic, neighbourhood kids or dogs, wind, birds, the hum of her fridge even… anything.  There was nothing.

She was lying on something hard, but not cold.  Some irregular, almost woven surface, possibly wooden sticks tied together, except that they were very smooth.  She opened her eyes a little.  The sticks were white, and oddly shaped.  She was otherwise surrounded by darkness; with a purple underglow.  Cosmic dark.  Cosmic recovery dark.  She had seen it before; it was used on some cancer patients during healing; and it was where some went when they were depressed.  Deep-Rest.  She pushed the word around her mind a little.  When people needed deep rest.

Her thoughts flitted back to her dream.  It hadn’t felt like a dream.  She and Nick had been together; they’d had a fabulous fling, a crazy few days wild with emotions and hormones, when all it had been was a few moonlit walks and a lot of talking.  But it was the currents and the undercurrents that had characterized this… she didn’t even know what to call it.  Association?  The feeling of being pushed here and there, caught in the rip-tide, exhilarating until there had suddenly been sharks in the water.  Then the undertow had got hold of her and she had freaked.  And Nick, rather than risk her dragging him down, had fed her to the sharks.

The buddy system:  Feed the shark your buddy.

She couldn’t blame him.  She couldn’t forgive him either.  Her hand reached to her face and wiped away the wet that crawled over her cheek.  Stupid dream.  And who was this Nick anyway?  An old acquaintance, a school friend from many decades back.  They’d been friends once, and that had been a lot of fun, but there had never been anything more.  Why would she dream such rubbish now, this late in life?

“Ah, there you are now,” came a familiar voice.  She looked up to see Smierc standing at the head of the make-shift bedstead she was lying on. He was huge!  Twice his normal height.  And for once she saw him in one of his natural shapes.  The face that she could never directly look at, except for the dark glow in his eyes, was a skull; his hoodie was actually a cowl, but not of cloth:  of interstellar darkness. The calm nothingness of the void.  His massive dark wings were half-opened behind him, in a subconscious pose of concern, she recognized.  Half visible only against the ultraviolet dark-fire of the surrounds, like smoke.

As she pushed herself up, she recognized the shapes and feel of the twigs on her bedstead.  Bones.  They were bones.  Somehow, that didn’t surprise her.

“You’re not fully recovered,” said Smierc.  “I’m sorry.  I can’t foresee the future much more than you can.  I had no idea that soul was going to be there.”

“What happened?” she asked, confused.  There was something attached to her back.  She reached behind herself and tugged.  It was a tube, glowing white.  Smierc removed it, and as he did, it disappeared.

“I had to install a lifeline to replenish you,” he said.  “You were entirely depleted.  You were feeding the souls with light from Mirrormar, and that one took everything you had, including your own light.”

“Wow,” breathed Kelly.  “Is that even legal?”

Smierc made a strange sound, rumbling in his ribcage.  It took Kelly a moment to understand he was chuckling.

“Legal.”  He shook his head.  “Is it legal for Mirrormar to allow her own pure life force to be plundered by lower spirits?  Sure, there are cosmic laws; but they are bigger than this.  Karma.  Retribution.  We always have ways to intervene on someone’s behalf, and to fix things ourselves.”

“When you say, we…?” she prompted, fascinated.

“We.  Cosmic consciousnesses.  Angels.  Humans.  Deities.  If you have personal awareness, a beingness, if you have the power to make decisions in your life, you have the ability to intervene for others, too.  Some elevate it to a high art.”  He shook his head, clearly saddened.

“Mirrormar?” asked Kelly.

“Yes, she,” said Smierc, a catch in his un-voice.  “I was too late.”

Kelly’s hand flew to her mouth.  “She is dead?”

“She knew the risks,” said Smierc darkly.  “Tending to the shadowed souls, you throw yourself open to predation by real evil.  Her intent was pure.”

“But that wasn’t Nick’s doing!” Kelly threw in defensively.

Smierc shook his head, and she caught an intent of an ironic smile.  “No, that wasn’t Nick.  He was only needy, he’s not a monster.  No.  Much larger forces moved in on her.  In a way you could say, by plundering your light and casting your empty shell aside, Nick saved your life.”

I’m not a monster.  A reverberation from her dream, something Nick had said. And Smierc’s words hit home.

“He did that?”  Oh yes, that did make him a monster!

“All the other helping spirits died with Mirrormar,” explained Smierc.  “Their light was snuffed out.  You were not even properly visible, that’s how they overlooked you.  I wasn’t sure I’d be able to restore you.”

“Nick plundered all my light?” she repeated, incredulous.  “Doesn’t that make him a demon?”

“It’s more complicated than that,” said Smierc.  “You both did, in a way.  If he hadn’t cut and run when he did, I’d have had two patients – or one patient and one corpse.”

“I didn’t plunder his energy!” protested Kelly, shocked.  “He came to me…

Smierc studied her, and she got the impression of a smile from that skeletal face.

“You did,” he pointed out.  “It doesn’t feel that way when one is on the take.  You both stripped each other of life energy.  It is a function of the Vortex.”


The bone-man held up a hand.  “Leave it at that.  Sufficient for you to know that while both your life energies were sacrificed, neither of you got any benefit out of it, just damage.  It is not supposed to be that way.  It’s not supposed to be anything like that at all; your energy is yours to give, but nobody is allowed to grab. Not even if they are giving at the same time.  You both were not playing within the rules.”

Rules!  It hadn’t felt as though there were any rules, in her dream.  It had felt like one long, out-of-control, slippery slope.  A disaster; and the more she had tried to fix things, the more damage had she done.

Kelly got up from the rack of bones she’d been sitting on.  “So it wasn’t a dream?”

“It was and it wasn’t,” replied Smierc cryptically.  “I’m glad to see you’re feeling better.  You should rest, when I bring you back home.  Don’t write this up yet.  Give yourself time.  I’m putting you on health leave, three human weeks.”

Kelly nodded.  “And what of Nick?”

“You care?”  Smierc asked back.

“He was a friend,” replied Kelly.  “I’d like to know if he is alright.”

“Oh, he’s alright,” said Death laconically.  “Quite alive, carrying on.  He’ll lick his wounds for a little while, and move on.  He might not be remembering you so very fondly.”

Kelly found her coat and put it on, and saw her boots standing next to the bed and pulled them onto her socked feet.  She shook her head, trying to make peace with the turmoil in her mind.  It was simply not good.

He was not a monster.  He’d only saved himself.  Did that make him a coward?  Perhaps.  Hein had pointed out that one of the two would not have survived.  So maybe, no.  Not a coward.  A manipulator?  That, maybe.  Feeding her to the sharks!  Had he planned that from the start?  What a…  but Smierc had also said something about a Vortex.  That sounded pretty bad.  What if the whole thing had been beyond both their control?

The thing was, when dabbling in the energy matrix, you worked with life force.  That cut pretty close, it was actually a bit dangerous.  She was doing assistant work for Death himself.  While she herself felt smug and empowered about that, it threw a different light on interacting with others, and the effect she might have on them.  Food for thought!

What had Hein said?  If you were a being with consciousness, a human or angel or deity, anyone with decision power over your own life, you could intervene for others and help.  What she really ought to do –

“Don’t go contacting him,” warned Smierc.  “That would be unwise.”

“I hate loose ends,” muttered Kelly as she took her seat behind Death on the Harley, as its subsonic engines hummed into life.

“You’ll love your next assignment though,” he said, working on sounding upbeat.  “Nothing like this again for you.  No more seeing a pure enlightened being commit suicide by selflessness.  The next one is not at all like this.”

“Should hope not!” growled Kelly under her breath.

 (© Lyz Russo, 2020.)



… gipsika







Friday Storytime: Soup Kitchen for Lost Souls

The backstory:

Hein Smierc employs Kelly Jennings to ghost-write for people who are in no position to get their story published.


The Soup Kitchen for Lost Souls

The daily knock on the door.  Kelly Jennings looked up from where she was doing the final spell-check for her write-up on Keats.

“Coming,” she chanted as she reached for her coat and pulled on her gumboots.  Her job took her to all sorts of places; she had taken to wearing outdoorsy clothing from about 9h in the morning, as she could expect that call to come any time between then and afternoon.  If any friends stopped by before her handsome employer picked her up, or if her adult kids dropped in on her – the oldest with baby by now – they simply had to put up with the way she looked.  She was dressed for work – a job she adored.

She opened the door and glanced at her skinny employer, her eyes dodging away from his face as usual.  For some obscure reason she could never be quite sure what he looked like, except the eyes, that had a dark smouldering fire in them.

“C’mon, girl,” he hurried her.  “Going far today.  I packed you a space blanket, in case.  Want to leave a message for your children?”

For a moment she was afraid.  Hein placed a bony hand on her shoulder.

“Don’t worry,” he assured her.  “Of course we’re coming back.  Only that we might be late returning.”

His touch calmed her instantly.  It was a weird effect he had on her, and another thing about Hein Smierc that she did not question.  Ever.  She breathed again; grabbed a notepad and scribbled a short note to the kids, should they drop by, that she was on a project and would be back, but possibly not today.  They knew where the fridge was and were welcome to anything in it.  And she followed Smierc out of the door, to where his Harley stood parked in front of her doorway.  She got onto the bike behind him, locking her arms as usual around his waist and resting her cheek against his back as he revved up the engines.

They sprang into life with what was basically a subsonic roar.  It always felt as though her bones were turning to jelly; not an unpleasant sensation though.  The sound also seemed to disintegrate the surrounds; as the Harley pulled away,  reality seemed to mix with black dancing void full of star dust, until the buildings, street, trees and sky disappeared.  They were in a place where random ribbons and streaks of light of different colours moved and wove through the darkness.

The Harley forged through the tangle of light strands, leaving them behind and following new ones to where they thinned out, and the universe got darker and darker.  It was quite cold here, too.  Kelly shivered and clung a little tighter.

“Don’t worry,” came Hein’s rumbling voice again, setting her entirely at ease.

They rode through some complete darkness for a while, the white headlights of the Harley reflecting on some mistiness, but finding nothing else.  And then, in the distance, another light came into view.  Hein headed straight towards it.

As they approached, Kelly saw what seemed to be a small star, a source of light that was surrounded by radiant shapes like fifth-dimension seagulls, flitting around it.  When they came closer, she could also make out shadowy shapes, more like cosmic bats, hovering near.  The luminescent beings seemed to be collecting light from the star in bowls and handing it to the shadowy shapes, who drank it thirstily.

“I want you to watch, listen and participate,” her employer instructed her.  “Help when you want to; it is not mandatory; but you need to record this, and write it up when we get back to your world tomorrow.”

“What is this place?” she asked, amazed.

“Mirrormar,” said Hein.  “Soup kitchen for the lost souls.  Observe!”  He pulled the Harley up close to the star and turned off the engine.

Kelly watched in awe.  The bright beings looked like angels, from up close.  They didn’t have overly discernable features, where she was concerned; but they seemed to radiate peace and goodwill.  The shadowy forms simply seemed – hungry.  Needy, somehow.  And the star…

“She’s alive!” gasped Kelly.  “The star is a being!”

“The star is Mirrormar,” said Hein.  “She’s a Selfless Being, and serves as a Source, giving freely of her own generated light so that the lost don’t have to fade away.”

“But doesn’t that deplete her?” asked Kelly in horror.

“It will, in time,” said Hein.  “When she has shrunk so small that she has nothing left to give, that is when I will come and fetch her from this place and get her to safety and to a place where she can rest and be replenished, but for now it is what she wants to do.  She is Sourcing the universal Light, and for now she is feeding it out as fast as she is being replenished, so the balance is still good.  Go and have a closer look!”

Kelly got off the Harley and walked, or drifted, closer to the star.  She reached out and touched the Being, and got an incredible feeling of kindness from it.

One of the shadowy forms moved close to her and snapped at her heel.  She yelped and pulled away.  A round mouth with two rows of pointy teeth; eyes that looked mostly hungry and without any comprehension in them.  She squeaked in fear.  The shadowy form lunged at her and tried to take another bite, but one of the bright shapes moved between it and Kelly, spoke sternly to it.  Then the angel shape handed Kelly a bowl and pointed at the star.

Kelly copied the actions of the various bright shapes, and dipped her bowl into the star, and then held it for the ugly shadow form to drink from.  It slurped the light up thirstily. “What is it?” Kelly asked one of the angel shapes.

The answer came into her head as knowledge rather than specific words.

They are lost spirits, Kelly.  They have been cut off from the Universal Supply.  They cut themselves off.  If they don’t get their feedings of light, they will die.  We feel sorry for them.

But who are they? wondered Kelly.

They are souls of the deceased, and some are spirits that have never yet been pure enough to achieve a first incarnation, came the answer.  Some will strengthen with this and become new humans.  Others are just hanging on, and some are fading, no matter what we do.

Kelly started feeding the shadows as fast as she could.  The thought of them having to die here, lost and starving, was too much for her to bear.

It felt like an eternity she was dipping the bowl into the light of the star and feeding it to more shadows.  She didn’t realize it,  but her fingers were freezing and she was beginning to get seriously tired.

And then her eyes fell on yet another shadow shape.  And she gasped in surprise.

“You’re not dead!  You’re a living human being!”

The shadow shape looked hungry; it also looked more alive than the others.  It gazed at her with pleading eyes.  She grabbed another portion of light and fed it; and while she did, it looked at her as though she were supposed to recognize it.  As she fed it, it grabbed hold of the bowl; but not only the bowl; of her hands too, locking gazes with her – its desperation tugged at her innermost core.

“You poor thing!”  Her heart went out to it.  And she recognized the soul.  “Nick?  Is that you?  Nick?  Oh my God!”

The world spun, and she was in the entrance of her own front door, and Nick stood on the threshold, hanging onto both her hands.

“Come in!” she uttered.  “Have a seat! How have you been?”

“I’ve had a terrible year,” Nick uttered in a low, bone-tired voice.

… to be continued.


… gipsika …

Weird about Death

There are two takes that  people have on Death.

There is fear and there is faith.  Fear:  People running around with the conviction that once it’s lights-out, that’s it – you disappear forever.  And faith – that you stick around after death, and there are more variations on this theme than any one mind can imagine.

I once heard a declared atheist make a convincing argument that all belief in an afterlife is simply denial – humans not being able to come to terms with the concept of their own ceasing to be.  And that he was more intelligent as he would not deny this.

Well, I guess it depends what’s worth more to you – the idea that you’re cleverer than everyone else, or the idea of not living in fear.  Years back I made a choice that even if I had no shred of evidence of any afterlife I’d still hold onto the idea of the immortal spirit, because it made me live without fear.

In the interim I have not only personally experienced a truckload of evidence of the immortal spirit (and other angels), but I have started living halfway in that world.

It’s like walking the veil, all the time.  It gives immense peace and at the same time, incredible perspective.  With my inner eyes and ears I am aware of the world of angels, energies, light, deities and fairies all the time; with my physical senses, I experience this world, richly but almost with a little buffer.  Slightly detached.  Call me Delta Dawn.  We all are just visitors to this plane.  Do not fear the world beyond Death; it is our real home, from where we came and to which we return, and from which we venture forth onto new missions.

(*Azrael spoke to me yesterday morning and stopped me from doing something stupid.  When I looked up Azrael, to my surprise it’s the Angel of Death!  S/he has many different duties, and apparently stopping silly people from burning more bridges is one of them.)