Monday, July 24, 2017

RustCity Flash Fiction: Nancy Northcott


 
Please welcome Alpha Heroes first-timer Nancy Northcott to the blog!  Nancy writes in a number of genres, including paranormal romance, historical fantasy, space opera, and romantic suspense. There's something for everyone!

Glad to have you here, Nancy!  Are you ready to play?

I sure am, Nicola!

Alright then! Your challenge words from Azriel are: real, mustard, backpack, tape, and demon; bonus points for using "hirpling" - which I had to google, I'm not gonna lie.

The Hunters

Part 1, by Stacy McKitrick
Part 2, by Suzanne Sabol
Part 3, by AJ Norris
Part 4, by Jillian David
Part 5, by Stephen Osborne
Part 6, by Azriel Johnson

Part 7:

Shocked froze everyone. Pain gnawing its way up Rick’s arm jerked him out of it.

“Mustard,” he snapped, shrugging out of his backpack. He fell to his knees beside it but couldn’t open the zipper with his left hand alone.

Suzie dropped down at his side. “Let me.”

Timmy stood still, staring down at his hands. “This can’t be real. I couldn’t have—I didn’t mean to.”

“We know, buddy,” Rick said. He gritted his teeth. His arm was black above his elbow, the pain already blazing in his shoulder.

Suzie flung aside duct tape, stakes, silver cross, jacket, camera, holy oil. Despite her steady, quick hands, fear tightened her face. “Rick, I can’t find—”

He rarely used the stuff, so… “Try—bottom.” Hurry, he thought but didn’t say. She was doing her best.

“Why mustard?” she asked, coming up with it at last. She popped the cap on the yellow, hourglass-shaped squeeze bottle.

“Squirt—on my arm,” he ground out. “Don’t…touch.” He had no idea what would happen if she touched that black, rapidly withering flesh, and he didn’t plan to find out.

“Don’t be an idiot.” She applied a wide, zigzagging strip up his arm. As he reached to rub it in, she grabbed the tape. “Wait. Just a second.”

Wait? When the pain was clawing into his chest, his arm turning black around his biceps? Compared to that, the pungent odor stinging his nose was nothing. Why wait?

Tearing the heavy tape with her teeth, she yanked off four strips, each four or five inches long and three wide. “Give me your hand.”

When he did, she slapped the strips across his palm and fingers, each overlapping the one before it.

“Go.” He rubbed desperately, spreading the yellow stuff. She taped her left hand and helped him.

“Your chest,” she gasped. She grabbed the rounded neckline of his worm-stained tee and yanked down hard, ripping it to the hem. More mustard went onto his chest and shoulder. Suzie spread it up his neck with great, sweeping strokes.

“Your neck’s not turning black.”

Good. The mustard had stopped the progression.

“Back,” he managed, acknowledging her with a nod.

The pain in his hand might be easing. He couldn’t tell with it roaring into his neck. His jaw.

Suzie muttered something emphatic, squirted mustard onto both hands, and slathered him with it, front and back.

“That’s all there is,” she said, frantically spreading the stuff. “I wish we had an old-fashioned jar. I can’t get the dregs out of this. Opening’s too narrow.” Again, he nodded. “’S okay,” he choked. The pain was throttling back, though slowly.

“Rick—”

“It’s better,” he choked. “It’s better. But Suze, your left hand. No tape. You shouldn’t have.”

“There was no time. Besides, Timmy’s magic has never hurt me.”

In the haste to spread the mustard, Rick had forgotten Timmy. He looked up. The boy’s crafty expression turned to distress. Tears welled in his eyes.

Too late, sucker. I saw you. Rick pushed himself to his feet. The blackened skin was flaking off of his hand. New, pink, healthy skin now lay beneath it.

Lower lip trembling, Timmy backed up. “I’m sorry, Rick. Sorrysorrysorry.”

“Rick?” Suzie, too, stood. “What is it?”

“Mustard’s a powerful herb, Suzie. Funny thing, though. Its only use to immortals is as protection against demon magic.”

“Demon? But…” She turned to her brother.

Timmy scrambled backward, the hirpling, or limping, gait another giveaway. Rick hadn’t noticed that earlier, thanks to savoring his private moment with Suzie. And now that he thought of it, the kid’s sudden appearance was a giveaway, too.

“Timmy?” Suzie asked.

“Don’t let him hurt me,” the boy wailed, still backpedaling.

“I’m not going to hurt Timmy,” Rick said. “The demon inside him is another matter.”


-------------------------------------------
I have to admit, between the blackened skin and squirting mustard, I can't help but think of the last wiener roast I took my scout troop on... but demons are no laughing matter, am I right? Come back soon to see what our next contestant makes of all this.

To read more from Nancy, check out her website - but brace yourself for a TBR influx, there's a lot going on!

Con Information:


Don’t miss your chance to meet some amazing authors at Rust City Book Con in less than two weeks! Come join us as we celebrate the authors who write the stories we love to read in the Motor City!
 
Be sure to keep up with all things Rust City 2017, by following it via your own personal social media drug of choice: Facebook |Twitter | Google+ | Tumblr | Instagram | RSVP at the Facebook Event.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

RustCity Flash Fiction: Azriel Johnson, Part 2


Azriel Johnson is back for an encore presentation of Five Words, this time for the Hunters story. I think he's getting the hang of this!

As it turns out, Mr. Johnson isn't the chattiest of players so we're going to jump right into the story, which, admittedly, is pretty exciting. So here we go!

Challenge words:  Furnace, Silver, Schoolyard, Drumming, and Chili.  Bonus points if you can work in the word kumquat.

The Hunters

Part 1, by Stacy McKitrick
Part 2, by Suzanne Sabol
Part 3, by AJ Norris
Part 4, by Jillian David
Part 5, by Stephen Osborne

Part 6:

Tommy’s face illuminated in kumquat shaded fire. He barely heard his sister call for him to turn around, rather, something instinctual moved him, like drumming in his crappy garage band. A rhythm beat in his chest, and even with the furnace fire heat, he wasn’t afraid.

Before the two of them stood a scaled, spiked-skinned demon. Rick ran at the short wall of the grave, bounding off of the mud wall and landing on the grass behind Tommy and Suzie. He recognized the beast’s form immediately as a Jikininki, a Japanese corpse-eating ghoul, but the coloring was wrong. Typically, they presented with purple skin and no fire surrounding them. Rick had never seen this variety.

“Tommy, get away from that!” Suzie yelled. She rushed forward, almost as if in slow motion. Rick, too, felt a sluggishness he had not felt before.

The beast had no hindrance whatsoever. With a roar it brought its huge, clawed hands down towards Tommy. The boy, instinctively, punched forward into the chest of the ghoul. The roar caught in its wretched throat. The beast crumbled to dust, like silver staking a vampire.

Rick and Suzie stopped in their tracks. Tommy brushed off the ghoul dust. He coughed a little. It tickled a little, like chili powder. “So, that was weird, huh?” Tommy said, to slack-jawed Suzie and Rick.

“Tommy,” Suzie asked. “How did you learn to do that?”

“Learn to do what?” Tommy asked. “I don’t even really know what I did.”

Rick asked, “So Tommy, those stones you were talking about over by the crypt. Take us to them.”

Tommy lead his sister and her mentor to the crypt. Surrounding it were a few different tombstones which did, indeed, look like they mottled with holes. Rick said, “Let me see your hands.”

Tommy held up his left hand. Rick grabbed it and held the boy’s pointer finger up to the holes. Each hole matched the size of Tommy’s finger. The one tombstone Tommy started to mention looked like it had been reduced to dust. “Tommy,” Rick asked. “Were you poking these tombstones?”

The boy looked sheepishly at Rick. “Yes, sir.”

Rick looked at Suzie. Suzie was baffled. Rick turned back to Tommy. “I need you to poke them again.”

“Okay,” Tommy said quietly, ashamed. He pressed his pointer finger into a tombstone. Immediately, the stone his finger touched turned to dust.

Rick examined Tommy’s clothes, none of them looked burned. “Are you wearing cotton or polyester?”

“Cotton, I think, why?”

Rick looked at Tommy’s shoes. They were sandals and looked leather.

“Rick,” Suzie said. “What’s going on?”

“I think Tommy...” Rick paused, “has the ability to break down dead objects and creatures by touching them.”

To Tommy, Rick pointed off to the left and said, “Go put your hand on the tree.”

Tommy looked nervous. “A-are you sure? I don’t want to hurt it.”

“Trust me,” Rick said. Tommy walked to the tree and lightly laid his hand on the bark. Nothing happened.

“That explains a lot,” Rick said. “If something is living, it’s safe. If something’s dead, it turns to dust. That explains why Suzie was okay when you pulled her out.”

“I’ve touched, not… alive…, things before,” Tommy said. “Monkey bars in the schoolyard, for example.”

“Maybe this is a recent development, sometimes puberty can be a trigger for latent abilities. When did you start noticing weirdness when you touched objects?”

Tommy kicked at the ground. He wasn’t exactly comfortable with puberty talk.

Rick let the matter drop for now. “Tell you what, we’re going to find out what exactly is going on and we’re going to learn to control it. Maybe even harness it. Who knows, Tommy, you might become more welcome on our hunting trips than you ever imagined.”

Rick reached forward to shake hands with Tommy, his previous annoyance dissipated with this new conundrum. Tommy smiled and extended his hand to meet Rick’s. They clasped hands, and Rick’s almost immediately turned black.

-------------------------------------------
Well that seems awfully inconvenient, now doesn't it? Is this the end for Rick the Worm Hunter? You'll have to come back here to find out!

For more information about Azriel Johnson, check out his webpage

Con Information:


Don’t miss your chance to meet some amazing authors at Rust City Book Con next August! Come join us as we celebrate the authors who write the stories we love to read in the Motor City!
Be sure to keep up with all things Rust City 2017, by following it via your own personal social media drug of choice: Facebook |Twitter | Google+ | Tumblr | Instagram | RSVP at the Facebook Event.

Monday, July 17, 2017

RustCity Flash Fiction: Stephen Osborne


Today I'm welcoming a newcomer to Alpha Heroes, one Stephen Osborne! Stephen is going to take on the next installment of our Anything Goes story, and I promise, you guys are going to like it!

Hi Stephen! So can you tell us a little about yourself, and what you like in a fictional hero?

Hi. Stephen Osborne here. The mystery continues! Me, I like snarky heroes with a sense of humor. And dogs. I really like dogs. And playing board games with friends, and Broadway shows. And Doctor Who.

I absolutely cannot resist a snarky hero. OK Stephen, here we go -- your challenge words are: Flamboyant, Pumice, Chipmunk, Fuchsia, and Staggered.  And Jillian says you get bonus points for using spleen. I have to confess that I'm not really sure how I'm going to account for bonus points.  Perhaps they might be turned into alcohol at the con. Let's see what you've got, Stephen!

The Hunters

Part 1, by Stacy McKitrick
Part 2, by Suzanne Sabol
Part 3, by AJ Norris
Part 4, by Jillian David

Part 5:

Rick’s lips were dangerously close to Suzie’s. Okay, he had worm slime all over his hands and some worm blood had splashed onto his brand new shirt, so perhaps this wasn’t the best time for romance. But one doesn’t always get to choose the moments in life, so…

Rick leaned in to kiss Suzie, but she chose that moment to look down at his worm-stained shirt. “You wore the shirt I bought you.”

The moment was gone. Perhaps it was for the best. After all, what chance did an immortal like Rick have with a sweet girl like Suzie? Rick knew how Suzie felt about him, and he knew she knew how he felt about her. And they both knew the impossibility of the situation. So they discussed Rick’s shirt. “Probably not the best color to wear for a night of hunting. Pink’s a bit…flamboyant.”

Suzie frowned. “That’s not pink.”

“Oh, it’s so pink.”

“That,” Suzie said, stepping back and eying Rick’s chest with a discerning eye, “is definitely fuchsia.”

“If you say so.”

A voice came from above them. “Always go by what she says, bro. Suzie’s always right.”

Suzie smiled. Rick tried to hide the annoyance he felt as he recognized the voice. Tommy was Suzie’s younger brother, and she treasured him more than anything in the world. To Rick he was just a bratty kid with chipmunk cheeks and a horrible taste in clothing. In moments, Tommy’s grinning face showed at the head of the open grave.

Suzie gave him a little wave. “Hi, Tommy!”

Tommy returned the wave. “Hey, sis!”

Rick hoped Suzie couldn’t hear the anger he felt. “You followed us!”

Tommy help up the stake he held in his right hand. “Well, yeah! Who doesn’t want to kill Mondasian Death Worms?”

Rick was glad the night foggy now. Maybe Suzie couldn’t see the anger in his face. “Mongolian! Mongolian Death Worms!” Was it wrong that he wanted to rip out Tommy’s spleen?”

Tommy tilted his head to one side, as if deep in thought. “Oh, yeah. Mondasian are the Cybermen on Doctor Who. ”

Suzie staggered a little as she held a hand up to her brother. “Help me up. I don’t want to spend all night in an open grave.”

“Yes,” Rick agreed. “We’ve still got work to do.” Although he preferred to do it with only Suzie as company.

Tommy gripped Suzie’s arm with surprising strength for a 14-year-old. As Suzie braced herself for the climb up, he said, “Yeah, speaking of which, did you guys see those tombstones?”

“We’re in a graveyard,” Rick noted. “There’s a lot of them about.”

“Yeah, but I mean the ones over by that big crypt. They look…weird. All mottled with holes. Like the granite had been turned into pumice. They’re real brittle, too. I touched one and…”

“Tommy!” Suzie screamed. “Look out! Behind you!"
-------------------------------------------
Man, Rick just cannot catch a break, can he? What now?? You'll have to wait for the next installment to find out!
>

Con Information:


Don’t miss your chance to meet some amazing authors at Rust City Book Con next August! Come join us as we celebrate the authors who write the stories we love to read in the Motor City!
Be sure to keep up with all things Rust City 2017, by following it via your own personal social media drug of choice: Facebook |Twitter | Google+ | Tumblr | Instagram | RSVP at the Facebook Event.

Friday, July 14, 2017

RustCity Flash Fiction: Robin Nadler


Please welcome Robin Nadler back to Alpha Heroes! Robin will be adding to our Contemporary Realistic story. Hi Robin! can you tell us a little bit about how you write your main characters?

Hi Nicola! I love characters- both men and women. I think an alpha needs to be challenged and show his vulnerability within the story. I always push into suspense because it brings out the real emotions.

That makes sense -- stressful situations have a way of getting under a person's defenses, for sure!  Are you ready to play the game? Your challenge words are: hammer, level, drill, Disneyland, zip-tie

So ready! Can't wait to see what you think!

Doll-Face

Part 1, by Rue Allyn
Part 2, by Azriel Johnson

Part 3:

Fuck.

How did she still get to him? How did he allow her so deep into his heart? How could he rid himself of her clutches?

If he was honest, she was right. He'd fucked up. He'd let his jealousy and insecurity ruin the best thing he had going in his life.

He heard all about this ‘Baxter’. That was the problem growing up in a small town. People gossiped whether you wanted to know or not. All he heard was how Baxter was the one. Baxter had money. Baxter had power. Baxter had her heart.

So Van did what he'd always done.

He'd sabotaged himself. He'd gotten drunk and banged some girl he didn’t even know.

And that was it.

“Earth to Van!” she called out as she took his hammer from his belt.

“Huh? What are you doing?” he snapped out of his stupor.

“I was talking to you and you were zoned out. What the hell is wrong with you? I asked you to fix this rusty nail and you’re acting like I’m on a different planet.”

He watched her walk across an unsteady part of the roof and fear filled his handsome features when he realized what she was about to do.

“Arielle? No!” he yelled as she hit the beam and in a split second, the whole floor gave way.

Fear filled both of their faces as they crashed down onto the level below, dirt and dust billowing up all around them.

They were both coughing and he sat up quickly, ignoring the searing pain in his side.

“Are you okay? Ari? Baby, look at me, please,” he crawled over to her and she was lying on her back, trying to catch her breath.

“I told you it wasn’t up to code,” she said softly as he noticed the blood trickling down the side of her face.

Why was she being so nice and calm?

“Tell me what hurts,” he said, trying to assess the damage.

“My heart because you broke it,” she said as she sat up slowly. “I’m fine.”

He moved away from her and felt the coldness return as her bitterness was evident.

“We need to get out of here,” he said more to himself as he went to get up, but fell.

He looked at her and her face was white as a sheet.

“What?”

She walked to him and smiled a little.

“Hey, you should sit down, okay?”

“Huh? Why? What’s wrong?”

Arielle saw the drill sticking into his side and she reached for him as he turned and saw it himself.

“Fuck,” he said and pulled it out.

“No!” she screamed as he began to bleed from the wound.

Van realized quickly he shouldn’t have done that, but there was no going back now.

“Oh God,” she said and looked for something to apply pressure. She pulled her shirt off and held it to his side.

“I knew you wanted to get naked with me again,” he grinned as he lay down, his face alarmingly pale.

“Shut up. Why are you always such an idiot? You always do things without thinking of the consequences,” she said as she spoke about so much more than the moment they were in.

He closed his eyes and she pulled his helmet off, running her fingers through his hair.

“Hey, look at me,” she said through her tears. “This is nothing, okay?”

“I’m sorry,” he said for the first time. “I should have believed in you. I’ll never regret anything more than hurting you.”

She looked around and found a bunch of zip ties nearby.

Thankful for the help, she tied her shirt around him and knotted it the best she could, with zip ties holding it together tightly.

She tried to get a signal on her phone, but there was nothing.

“HELP!” she screamed.

“It’s okay,” he said, his blue eyes opening and piercing her heart.

“Please stay awake,” she said. “Let’s talk about something else.”

“You were the best thing that ever happened to me,” he said. “Remember Disneyland? Remember the train ride?” he smiled.

Memories flooded her mind and her angry exterior began to crumble.

She was a hypocrite.

Baxter wasn’t just an old high school flame.

He had been right to be upset.

“Hey, is anyone down there?” someone called.

“Yes,” she cried out. “We need a medic.”

“Help is coming,” they called back.

Van opened his eyes again and smiled.

“Be happy, okay? You are one tough woman, and I love you.”

She stroked his cheek and leaned to press her lips against him.

“Please stay with me.”

His eyes were closed and she wondered if he was still with her.

The medics arrived and she was pushed back, a blanket thrown over her shoulders and her view to him obscured.

-------------------------------------------
Wow, this could go pretty much any direction from here! Can't wait to find out!

Find more from Robin at her website.

Con Information:
 
Don’t miss your chance to meet some amazing authors at Rust City Book Con next August! Come join us as we celebrate the authors who write the stories we love to read in the Motor City!
Be sure to keep up with all things Rust City 2017, by following it via your own personal social media drug of choice: Facebook |Twitter | Google+ | Tumblr | Instagram | RSVP at the Facebook Event.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

RustCity Flash Fiction: Jillian David

 
Today on the blog, I want to welcome Jillian David for the first time!  Based on our correspondence, I'd say that a) Jillian has a bit of a mean streak, and b) we're going to get along famously at the conference.  What do you think of the game so far, Jillian?

Well, Nicola, I got handed some pretty amazing words to work with... I hope that the ones I'm passing along the next player will be equally as horrible... I mean, as, um... amazing, yeah, did I already say that? Amazing. Yes. That's the word.

I see... well OK then!

Also, I like cats and damaged alpha heroes who are far from perfect. 

Well, I completely agree that perfect heroes are no fun at all.  As for cats, I like them when they belong to other people, since they sadly make me sneeze.  So... moving on to this amazing story: Jillian's challenge words from AJ are: obedient, evanescent, itchy, jellyfish, trick

(The don't seem so bad to me... I mean, I've seen worse, am I right??)

The Hunters

Part 1, by Stacy McKitrick
Part 2, by Suzanne Sabol
Part 3, by AJ Norris

Part 4:

Too many worms, not enough time. Story of Rick’s endless existence.

Actually, he had tons of time. Oodles of time. One of the perks of being immortal, thanks to his curse.

But Suzie, with her stiff upper lip and determined set of her shoulders? Still mortal. Fragile. He clamped his teeth together until his jaw creaked. Damn it all. For the first time after all those years of isolation, he finally cared about another human. That simple fact made his gut churn like a mass of jellyfish. Sad to say, but this cemetery was as close as he and Suzie would ever get to “date night”. And that fact pissed him off even more than the impending danger.

“Get ready,” she hissed, pointing toward a grassy section of the cemetery.

The earth shifted and rolled, transforming the ground into a living, hellish rollercoaster. Then Snatcher 2.0 emerged with a pop and a howl that made Rick’s skin itchy, like a thousand fire ants marched up and down his body.

Damn her brave soul, but Suzie waved her arms and danced around like a deranged bullfighter, trying to trick the nasty beast into charging. Rick spied the thing’s movement, evanescent in the moonless night, as the Snatcher opened its hideous, dripping maw. Then the creature eyed its wide-eyed snack: Suzie.

“Run this way!” Rick hollered, resetting his grip on the stake as he dropped into a defensive crouch.

In the darkness and thick fog, though, Suzie raced the wrong direction, abruptly dropping out of sight. A thud and an oof followed her disappearance. For the love of Pete, would it be too much for her to be obedient when he gave directions?

No time to formulate an answer.

The Snatcher loomed in front of Rick. The whiff of festering carcass clogged Rick’s nose, but he didn’t care. That creature stood in the way of Rick’s goal of checking on Suzie. Ok, maybe making a move on her, although that dream just wasn’t materializing this evening. A cursed immortal could always hope.

Damn this life. Sick of prancing around the wriggling Snatcher, Rick’s strength and reflexes ratcheted up to another gear as he leapt onto the back of the worm. A growl of rage ripped from his gut and filled the foggy night. With a shoulder-burning plunge of the stake, Rick silenced the creature for eternity.

A splash of gas and a flick of a match was all it took to finish the task at hand. He stood over the smoldering bastard. Air raked in and out of Rick’s lungs.

Silence permeated every inch of the still cemetery.

He wiped his worm-slimed palms on his jeans, spun on his heel, and rushed to the open grave.

“Suzie?”

“Yes. What?” Her voice, muffled and low, drifted up to him. He pictured her with a pouting lip and with her arms crossed over her chest. Classic Suzie pose when things didn’t go her way.

Rick eased down into the pitch-dark subterranean space and held his arms up until he encountered her warm frame. He ran his hands over her – only to make sure she wasn’t injured, of course. “Anything hurt?”

“Only my pride.”

“It’ll get easier one day.”

“But will my life get easier?”

His only answer was to pull her flush to his chest and wrap his arms around her, like that simple move could somehow keep all the bumps-in-the-night at bay. Like he could keep her from one day becoming exactly like Rick.

With a sigh, she relaxed into him, her head drifting to his shoulder.

He eyed the black, moonless sky and inhaled the floral and very human scent of her shampoo. As date nights went for cursed immortals, maybe this venue wouldn’t be the worst.

Seriously. It’d be a shame to let the semi-private fresh grave go to waste.
-------------------------------------------
 
I think I see where you're going with this, Jillian, and I like the cut of your jib. But will our next player follow your cues? or swerve down another sidestreet... er, gravesite? Or produce an even more mixed-up metaphor? Stay tuned to find out!
 
For more of Jillian's writing, check out her website or come meet us all at the conference!

Con Information:

Don’t miss your chance to meet some amazing authors at Rust City Book Con next August! Come join us as we celebrate the authors who write the stories we love to read in the Motor City!
Be sure to keep up with all things Rust City 2017, by following it via your own personal social media drug of choice: Facebook |Twitter | Google+ | Tumblr | Instagram | RSVP at the Facebook Event.

Friday, July 7, 2017

RustCity Flash Fiction: Azriel Johnson



Please welcome our next victim... er, player... to the game, Azriel Johnson! Azriel is joining us for the first time today, but when he heard about the two tracks, he was game for both... so keep an eye out for a reprise in the Anything Goes track.  By way of intro:

Azriel Johnson is cautiously optimistic about the future of the Human race, Dragons or no. He believes in prophecy and the Dragon’s Bane Series comes straight from a part of himself he believes probably exists… somewhere….

Well, with that, let's get right to it. Today Azriel is giving us Part Two of our Contemporary Realistic track, and his challenge words are: tight, palmetto, shock, I-beam, and wrench

Doll-Face

Part 1, by Rue Allyn
Part 2:

Van slapped on his hard hat to cover his premature balding head. He’d tried the saw palmetto herbs to resist the hair loss, but to no avail. His alpha-dog persona was fragile when it came to how he looked. He didn’t like to admit it around the other guys, but Arielle knew all his deep, dark secrets, his insecurities. This made her more dangerous than a broken bottle in a bar fight.

He followed her tight ass to the rust stains she was pointing out. He’d always appreciated her body. She had a wrench slipped into the belt over her jeans in the middle of her behind. The metal tool swayed back and forth like a grandfather clock. The last thing Van wanted to think about was his grandfather, Angus Herald, the founder of Herald construction, the company Van now ran. Angus had like Arielle.

There was no shock in Arielle’s eyes as she caught his lecherous stares at her body. “Look,” she snapped her fingers in Van’s face. “Here.” She pointed at the rusted I-beam supporting the house.

“So, what?” Van said, condescendingly. “It’s only a little rust. It’ll be fine.”

“It is not up to code,” she replied. “This needs to be replaced. This isn’t just a preservation project, the building also has to be safe.”

“It’s fine. The building will be safe.”

“Oh. So you’ll take responsibility when the supports crumble and the floor caves in. That’s millions of dollars in lawsuits that I can wash my hands of with a call to the network explaining your unwillingness to do the job.”

“What’s this really about?” Van asked accusingly.

“What do you mean?”

“This inquisition. You know perfectly well that beam will hold for centuries. Why are you even here?”

“I’m here for this inspection, nothing more. The network has no idea we were ever engaged. No idea that you’re a cheating bastard. Though if they get a load of this rusted metal, they’ll be sure you cut corners at least.”

“That’s not fair, Arielle. We were on a break.”

“A break? You call me going to Massachusetts to visit my family a break?”

“You know why. Your ex, Baxter.”

“Seriously?” Arielle huffed, putting her hands on her hips. “We were a thing in high school. That’s it. You had nothing to worry about.”

“Had?” Van asked. “What about now?”

“Wouldn’t you like to know, Doll-face?” Arielle threw over her shoulder as she turned away to look at the stain again.

-------------------------------------------
I'm pretty sure that Van's potential as a romance hero just lost some significant ground.  Maybe Doll-Face will be a mystery instead... will someone end up dead? Or maybe Baxter will arrive to put our fragile Van out of his misery. Or maybe Arielle will find a girlfriend and run for Governor... anything can happen in the Five Words game!

For more information about Azriel Johnson, check out his webpage

Con Information:

Don’t miss your chance to meet some amazing authors at Rust City Book Con next August! Come join us as we celebrate the authors who write the stories we love to read in the Motor City!
Be sure to keep up with all things Rust City 2017, by following it via your own personal social media drug of choice: Facebook |Twitter | Google+ | Tumblr | Instagram | RSVP at the Facebook Event.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

RustCity 17 Flash Fiction: AJ Norris

 
 
Please welcome returning author AJ Norris, back to the blog and back to RustCity! Welcome to the blog, AJ; can you give us a little intro?

Hi there! I'm A.J. Norris and I write paranormal romance and romantic suspense. I love participating in key word flash fiction. Nicola is an awesome host! I'll be attending Rust City Book Con in Troy, MI again this August. Last year was loads of fun and I got to meet a lot of great authors. So if you live in the southeastern Michigan area consider going to this fun con.

Awesome, thank you! let's talk heroes... what's your favorite?

I have a soft spot for an anti-hero turned hero. One that is bad at the start but you can tell he's conflicted. One that comes to mind is Xcor from J.R. Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood series. When readers were first introduced to the this character he was so bad, but you could tell he was ruled by fear. Later, love changes him for the better. He becomes the hero by fighting for it.

Oh man, I've been drooling over the BDB for years, and I just finished The chosen. You are so right!

OK, AJ, you know the drill. Continue the story that Stacy and Suzanne started, using the possibly evil challenge words that Suzanne left you. Are you ready?

Bring it, Nicola; I love this game!

OK, here you go. Your words are: Craving, Black, Soul, Release, Tattoo Hmmm, I think someone's been reading your Dark Amulet series!

I can definitely work with these, Nicola -- and thanks, Suzanne!


The Hunters


Part 1, by Stacy McKitrick
Part 2, by Suzanne Sabol

Part 3:

Rick drove his steel stake into the top of the worm’s skull. Black blood bubbled up around the stake and oozed down the creature’s head. A sickening release of noxious fumes filled the air. It reeked of rotted flesh.

Suzie coughed. “Oh, man, why do they have to smell so badly?” She waved her hand in front of her face.

“I don’t know but it certainly makes you hate having to breathe,” Rick eked out, yanking the stake from the worm. He had dubbed the Mongolian death worms "Soul Snatchers." They waited in graveyards, hoping to grab a lingering soul from a recently deceased—one that wasn’t ready to leave this Earth. Although Rick had been cursed two centuries ago, his craving to hunt and slaughter the Snatchers ran deep like it was part of his DNA. Maybe it was.

“Did you remember to bring the matches this time?” Rick asked Suzie.

“Did you bring the gasoline?”

“Of course.” He winked with a devilish grin and trotted back to the car. After returning to the dead worm, he found her perched on a headstone, lost in thought and biting her nails. She jumped off the granite when she saw him. “Lose you again?”

“What’s that?” she asked.

“Did I lose you? You looked like you were thinking too much again.”

“No.”

Rick smirked, knowing she lied. He doused the carcass. “Matches?” he said, holding out his hand. She slapped it. “Didn’t bring the matches, huh?” Sighing, he took some out of his pocket. He struck the match and flung it onto the Snatcher.

Whoosh! They watched the fire burn until the worm was engulfed in flames.

A prickling sensation traveled over his tattoo—the mark of a death worm hunter, which spanned his entire back. Another worm was nearby and approaching rapidly.

“Look out!” she screeched.

-------------------------------------------
 
Because one measly little Mongolian Death Worm just isn't enough for a hoppin' night out, is it? Will Rick and Suzie prevail? You'll have to come back for the next installment to find out! (I mean, I don't know either!)
 
Find more from AJ at her website.
 

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