Book of the Month

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Free Flash Fiction: Where Dragons Live

by Deborah L. Alten

“There are no more dragons, sir.” Gha’enna caressed the innkeeper’s face with the back of her sun-bronzed fingers. “Perhaps you’d be so kind as to pour me a pint of ale, slice me a piece of bread, and spare me a bowl of warm stew.” Her lips were close to his, her nimble fingers unfastened the buttons of his disheveled shirt. “Here’s me last few pence.” 

He trembled at the mere touch of her skin on his. “Keep it.” His voice a quiver. 

She threw a bloody tether onto a table and brushed off the crumbs. Her green eyes fixed on the inn keeper. Never trust a man who … Well … never trust a man.

The stale bread, dipped in warm stew, satisfied her hunger … for the moment. She washed it down with badly-brewed ale. Suddenly she slapped one hand onto the coiled-up tether as she pinched her throat with the other. She grinned nervously at the inn keeper who raised an eyebrow. 

“I smell a dragon.” The innkeeper grabbed a knife. 

“I told you, sir. There are no more dragons. You would call a lady a liar?” 

He stood frozen, mesmerized, as moonlight danced through her long red hair. And that smile rendered him powerless. There was nothing he could do but stare. She knew he believed every word that fell from her lips. “Forgive me. Ne’er would I call a lady by such a name.” 

“Indeed.” From the corner of the dimly-lit tavern, a figure rose from the darkness. 

His voice was like a rushing wind and deeply disturbed Gha’enna. She jumped at the first sound of it. The voice seemed familiar, but she placed no memory to it. A heavy black and bloodstained cloak covered him. His face not visible. The innkeeper cowered behind the bar. 

The man crept closer. “You would not call a lady a liar?” He turned to Gha’enna. “She is no lady, Innkeeper.” 

Gha’enna held tight the tether. She backed away from both of them.

The man adjusted his cloak as he made his way around broken chairs and spilt ale, toward her. “Where have the dragons gone, my Lady?” 

“I have slain them all.” 


“Have your eyes seen them then? Where and when have you seen one?” The tether in her hand stiffened. Again she touched her throat; an attempt to dislodge something she could not quite swallow. Her eyes searched for his, to no avail. She coughed as she gasped for that extra breath of air. 

“Innkeeper, has she blinded you with her beauty? Her words, or perhaps the sweetness of her lips has held you captive.” His gloved hand appeared from under his cloak. Chainmail rattled beneath it. “She makes fools of men, and her paths lead to spirits of the dead. At night she stands at forbidden doors. Do you not see the dragon?” 

“I only see her,” said the innkeeper.

Gha’enna giggled. Then unexpectedly she flung the tether across the room. It coiled around the innkeeper’s neck and tossed him high above the tables. An horrific, wicked growl tore the roof off the tavern. One blood-curdling scream and the innkeeper’s feet dropped with a splat into a puddle of his own blood. The other parts of his shredded body, burned, then swallowed or trickled like bloody crumbs onto the dirt floor. 

The knight unsheathed his sword against the fury of dragon fire, but Gha’enna’s red wings carried her away before he could plunge it into her cold heart.

**(This book is FREE till March 4th)**

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Her Bloody Valentine: A Mrs. Shackles Adventure

Deep in the forest, near the bend of the river, a man, under hood and cloak, trudged over a stone bridge dragging a scythe. The wind followed him through the front door of a dilapidated cottage into a candle-lit living room.

Fourteen-year old Oliver Krankston, the banker’s son, cowered against the clay wall. Uncomfortable in his faded long johns and saggy woolen socks, the boy trembled. He squinted toward the flickering flames. “Mr. Fetters,” he whispered, “did you find him?”

Mr. Fetters shook his head. “No.”

On the wooden floorboards a long trail of bloody footprints glistened in the soft glow. Mr. Fetters tossed a few logs onto the fireplace while coughing up blood and vile. “Get to sleepin’.” His words were slurred.

“Why did you take me?"

“Your father owes me his life. I’m collecting.”

Oliver opened the palm of his hand, unfolding a crumpled-up paper Valentine—from Lily Payne, it said. He hoped she had received the one he sent her. There might have been blood on it. Maybe she’ll rescue me.

“Don’t fear, child.” Mr. Fetters flung his black cloak over the scythe propped against the stove. “She might just care enough to take your place.”

Oliver quickly put all thoughts of Lily out of his head. “You can’t have her!”

Later that evening, a pounding on the door startled Oliver out of a restless sleep. The door almost creaked off its hinges as Mr. Fetters opened it.

“Mrs. Shackles and … Lily Payne? A pleasant surprise.”

Mrs. Shackles shoved a shoebox into his hands. “Give me the boy!”

“Only if you have his father in this shoebox.”

“I do.”

Mr. Fetters raised his eyebrows and opened the box. He recognized the banker’s hand. His displeasure became obvious as he flung the box into the snow. “He was mine!” he bellowed. “The boy stays!”

“No!” Lily wrapped her tattered blanket tighter around herself and shoved her way into the cottage. “I am here to take his place.”

Snow cascaded off the roof as the cottage rattled on its foundation.

“Mr. Fetters,” Mrs. Shackles’s eyes widened, her head slightly tilted, “you do not want to mess with that girl.” She hobbled inside, shaking her head and rubbing her chin. “Oh, she’ll be a burden to live with if you make a hero out of her.”

“You think I won’t keep them both?”

Mrs. Shackles grinned. She straightened up and raised both arms out to each side. Two large, black wings slowly tore through from the lower part of her back. The right wing was frayed. And then … a loud piercing scream broke through the howling wind. Two bodies slammed through the door, finally blasting it off its hinges. Lily and Oliver picked up the scythe together and crept out the back.

Dark, spiny wings squeezed tight around Mr. Fetters. He gasped, but she had caught him off guard. Just before his last breath Mrs. Shackles released him into the river creating a large and loud splash.

Turning over and over, his cloak cocooned him and carried him downstream.

Mrs. Shackles tossed the severed hand into the murky water. “All you had to do was take it.”

Oliver squinted into the waters. “Is that my—”

“No, child,” Mrs. Shackles said. She blew out a painful breath. “It’s just a hand. Can’t quite remember whose father was attached to it.”

Lily wrapped her tattered blanket around Mrs. Shackles. “Let’s go home.”
“Yes, let’s.” Mrs. Shackles picked up the scythe. “Ah, there it is. I thought I had lost it forever.”

Find out what else Mrs. Shackles has been up to? 

"Mrs. Shackles: Her Bloody Valentine"
Copyright, 2016 by Deborah L. Alten (yep, that's me)

Debby A.

  • Mrs. Shackles says to buy your loved ones some chocolate for Valentine's Day.

    Gourmet Valentine Chocolate Keys
    9 Chocolate Hearts

    Saturday, July 26, 2014

    She Flies: A Poem to Honor the Bluebird

    When shadows shift
    When snow first falls
    She sits alone:
    A bluebird calls

    The Branches sway
    Winter's breeze so cold
    Snow swirls to rain
    Her distress unfolds

    Shall she be brave;
    Fly through the storms?
    Night shadows twist
    To horrid forms

    How will she fare
    When moonbeams flicker?
    How will she dare
    When sleet turns thicker?

    Once more she cries
    Though echoes fail
    She bears her soul
    On wings she'll sail

    An eagle's span ...
    She flies

    Debby A.
    Copyright, 2014 by Deborah L. Alten
    photograph by Debbie McEachern

    Friday, July 25, 2014

    End of the Night

    Drops of moonlight cascade from the world above.
    Water reflects and turns into stardust.
    It's the time of night when worlds collide and surrender to each other.

    Her fingers trace the moonlight as the water parts, soothing her soul.
    She drifts into the silver hues of the painted sky;
    It is the end of her.

    The night is now adrift, moonlight fades to dawn
    A shower of silver stars deflect to the other side.
    The memories of dreams caress the lesser light.

    Dusty streaks of sunlight filter through curtains of autumn leaves,
    Wafting on morning breezes.
    She sings with the sparrow,
    And laments with the coo of a mourning dove.

    It's the time of day when worlds separate;
    When the sun softly greets the horizon.
    It is the end of her.

    In the distance she hears the hum of city shrills,
    Engines sputter to life on overcrowded streets. A siren screams.
    And finally she whispers: …
    "I don't exist here anymore."

    Her light disconnects from this world,
    She fades into day.
    It is the end of her.

    Creative Commons License
    This work is licensed under a
    Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

    Debby A.
    First published
    Deborah L. Alten, Yahoo Contributor Network
    Dec 3, 2013

    photo by MakeLessNoise
    Wikimedia Commons

    Friday, February 14, 2014

    Dance Over Sea and Under Moon: An Elvin Romance

    (A Valentine's Poem by Andy Poole)

    The heavenly shroud lifted,
    And the starry host peered down
    At a dancer well-gifted
    With nimble steps of renown.

    Waves of cascading black hair
    Skipped and swayed to the cadence
    Of bangles round ankles bare
    And the Sea’s hushed ambience.

    No song sang she, only danced
    To a secret song unsung,
    Shared by he that she romanced,
    Who danced, too, with silent tongue.

    His sylvan hair moonlight caught
    His sea-grey eyes knew one face
    That moment, his only thought,
    This jewel of elven-race.

    copyright, 2014 by Andy Poole
    image by Kimberly Lytle

    Sunday, January 19, 2014

    My "Speed Limit" Birthday and My Top Ten Most Wanted Birthday Gifts

    Today I've reached that milestone. Apparently 55 is the speed limit birthday. Who knew? But that's what they're telling me on Facebook. It's going to be a very peaceful birthday--no party, no guests (just the dog), no presents and that's all right with me. I got to do 30 situps before the dog jumped me and decided we needed to run around in the garden. Ah, good times.

    So in my quiet time I've decided to publish my Top Ten Most Wanted Birthday Gifts. This of course, will be the Not of This World List. LOL.

    Top Ten BD Gifts

    10. 50 lbs. of See's Candy (chocolate nuts and chews)
      9. Hummer !!! A big YELLOW one with a black stripe on the sides
      8. A Castle somewhere in England
      7. A summer cottage in England near a river
      6. A Cruise to anywhere
      5. A Trip to Italy
      4. To be a size 10 again
      3. To be debt free
      2. That all my friends send me $1
    Here, I'll make it easy for you.

    And Number 1. For my kids to be truly happy and to be extremely successful and to love God with all their heart because that will indeed bring true happiness and success.


    There you have it. I am truly blessed with wonderful friends, and an amazing family. We have come this far, but the journey has miles to go and I'm glad you're with me on this path.

    ps: Don't forget number 2. Just sayin'!!!!

    My Scripture for the new year is Psalms 121:

    A song of ascents (or The Traveler's Psalm)

    1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
    2 My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

    3 He will not let your foot slip—
    he who watches over you will not slumber;
    4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

    5 The Lord watches over you—
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
    6 the sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

    7 The Lord will keep you from all harm—
    he will watch over your life;
    8 the Lord will watch over your coming and going
    both now and forevermore.

    Debby A.