Yep, It’s Still Winter

Snow is falling, the winds are howling. When they’re not moaning. Never content, that wind. We’ve got thirty mph winds with gusts well past fifty. The snow, by comparison, isn’t so much of a problem. I need to make a run for stove pellets but no one’s on the road who doesn’t have to be. Still deciding if I’m brave or stupid enough to try it.

Thursday night there the local group did a reading at the Mohawk Valley Center for the Arts. Someone took a decent picture, and when or if I get permission to show it, I’ll put it up here. In the meantime, here’s the piece of flash fiction I read.  The trigger word was “Testament,” which always sounds like a heavy, ponderous word to me. So naturally I decided to have some fun with it:

 

The Testament of the Goat Troll

 

That’s what they call me, anyway. The goat troll. Try to eat one goat and you’re typed for life. But it was my bridge. You think I built it as a public service? I’m not one of those rich trolls who can afford to build a bridge and let any Tom, Dick, or Baby Gruff who comes along use it for nothing. You think I have that kind of cash? Building materials are expensive.

Well, sure, most of the wood was free from a nearby forest. But I did all the work myself, felled the trees, sawed the planks. Beams and posts are easy, but did you ever try making planks with just an axe and a hand saw? Try it sometime. First class job it was, and a testament to my craftsmanship. I used pegs for the joinery, and whittling pegs with an axe? That takes time. I earned that bridge.

You’ve all heard the story by now. I know it sounds harsh, but a troll’s got to eat and my bridge, my rules. Here came that first little billy goat. Time to pay the toll.

“I’m just skin and bones, Mr. Troll,” said he. “Wait for my brother. He’s much fatter than I am.”

Puh-lease. I know how the story goes too, but you really think I fell for that? No. It was simple logic. I saw the other goats coming and knew if I ate that first shrimp there’s no way the other two would have tried to cross. Take an appetizer and miss the main course? Not likely. I let him go on as the second goat was approaching.

“I’m just skin and bones, Mr. Troll,” said he. “Wait for my brother. He’s much fatter than I am.”

Now things get complicated. Sure, he was bigger than the first goat, but still a little scrawny. I suppose that’s why they wanted to cross the stream for the grass on the other side. I let him pass, figuring the third goat would be scrawny as well, but at least there would be more of him.

Well, that’s probably where I messed up, in retrospect. Yes, he was bigger. I have to say I was rather pleased with myself, at first. I was just debating whether to bother cooking him or go right to the gobbling part, when he spoke.

“I’m just skin and bones, Mr. Troll,” said he, but I didn’t let him finish.

“Yes, I know, but there’s no one else coming, so—“ This time he didn’t let me finish.

“So I’m hungry. Get out of my way.”

“Now see here—“

He just lowered his head and charged. I think I was too astonished to dodge. It was a long fall to the stream and the current was stronger than I remembered. I was halfway to the ocean before I managed to crawl out again.

So, no more bridges. Next time, it’s a toll road. See if they can butt their way through that.

-The End-

 

©2019 by Richard Parks. All Rights reserved.

 

 

It’s Winter

I don’t care what the calendar says. Winter is here. It’s been snowing for the last few days, and I’ve had to shovel the driveway and sidewalk, so that’s winter in my book. Fall was short, and the leaves are already gone, mostly buried under snow.

I’m still adapting to the idea of seasons. As I’ve said before, in the Deep South we really didn’t have them anymore, and that wasn’t always the case. I can remember having falls and springs and winters. Summers never went away, but over the years they kept stealing days from the rest of the seasons until there just wasn’t much left. If you meet a climate change denier over the age of fifty from the deep south, then you’re looking at someone in denial of their own experience.This is something I’ve never understood, almost as weird as someone arguing that water isn’t wet.

Which, by the way, it definitely is.

On a completely unrelated subject, snippet du jour:

“I wish,” Mera said, and sat down without being asked. “Who is the annoying pooka and what did you two do?”

“He’s Nudd, and who says we did anything? Honestly, sweetie, pull yourself together. I can’t talk to you like this,” Aednat said.

“Oh, right. Give me a sec….” Mera the nightmare appeared to be trying to concentrate, which was an expression that would have been comic if it hadn’t been on the face of such a horror. As it was, it magnified the effect. I felt a chill and Aednat actually shuddered. The feeling passed quickly and then we were looking at Mera in what I can only assume was her true form.

It wasn’t quite what I expected.

In the chair was a woman with curly red hair and freckles. Her face was a little flushed, probably due to the drink, but she didn’t look anything like a horse. She appeared about the same age as Aednat, though I knew, as humans reckoned years, both were far older.

“What did you mean, ‘what did we do?’”

“You must have done something. I know why you’re here, and I know where you’re going,” Mera said.

“Oh,” Aednat said, and that was all.

“It’s worse than that,” Mera said. “I was ordered to meet you, though I expected to find you on the train when it leaves. Well, no sense putting it off.”

I frowned. “Put what off?”

“Letting you know I was ordered to come with you.”

Aednat frowned. “You too?”

Mera nodded, looking unhappy. “Why do you think I was drinking?”

Story Time: Golden Bell, Seven, and the Marquis of Zeng

I’m late again. There are reasons, but I won’t bore you with them. I’m late, that’s all, and to somewhat atone, today’s Story Time is a novelette, “Golden Bell, Seven, and the Marquis of Zeng. It was originally published in the debut issue of Black Gate back in 2000.

The character Golden Bell, literally, came to me in a dream, and this is what she said “I have a fever of poetry that consumes me, a malady of song that wears me down.” I had no idea what that was about, so I basically wrote the story to find out. I did the hard part. If you want to know, all you have to do is read it.

Assuming I’m not late again, “Golden Bell, Seven, and the Marquis of Zeng” will stay online until next Wednesday, September 5th.

Story Time: A Mother’s Love

Late again. My only defense is that it has been a very busy day. I had a story due and I barely made that in time, in addition to trying to get a handle on a project affecting almost all of my books, and a writer’s group meeting. On the plus side, Scott Andrews over at Beneath Ceaseless Skies has picked up “In Memory of Jianhong, Snake Devil” for the next “Best of” yearly compilation of the magazine. That’s always a boost to the day.

Regardless, and just under the wire, today’s Story Time is an original piece of flash fiction, “A Mother’s Love.” Enjoy. And if you can’t, at least you didn’t pay a lot for it.

 

“A Mother’s Love” will remain online until next  Wednesday. You know the  drill by now.

An Overdue Update

I just got back from the Little Falls Library (Literally, like half an hour ago) where I recorded five flash fiction pieces for a local podcast series. It appears to be a very cool project with a lot of talented people and I’ll post specifics for availability and whatnot once everything is sorted. It should be available next month.

Next, a very surprising but pleasing bit of news from David Stokes at Guardbridge Books. My story from Tales of the Sunrise Lands: Anthology of Fantasy Japan, “The Cat of Five Virtues,” is a finalist for the Washington Science Fiction Association Small Press Award. It is always an honor just to be nominated, and thus I am honored. The winner will be announce at Capclave next month.  Here’s the full list of finalists:

“A Vague Inclination to Please,” by Brandon Daubs in All Hail Our Robot Conquerers, ed. by Patricia Bray & Joshua Palmatier, published by Zombies Need Brains LLC, (September 2017);

“The Cat of Five Virtues,” by Richard Parks in Tales of the Sunrise Lands: Anthology of Fantasy Japan, ed. by David Stokes, published by Guardbridge Books (July 2017);

“Floaters Can’t Float,” by Pip Coen, published in Compelling Science Fiction, ed. by Joe Stech, (April 2017);

“Oba Oyinbo,” by Jonathan Edelstein, published in Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show, ed. by Scott Roberts, (October 2017);

“The Oracle and the Warlord,” by Karina Sumner-Smith in The Sum of Us: Tales of the Bonded and Bound, ed. by Lucas K. Law & Susan Forest, published by Laksa Media, (September 2017);

“Probably Still the Chosen One,” by Kelly Barnhill, published in Lightspeed Magazine, ed. by John Joseph Adams, (February 2017);

“The Secret Life of Bots,” by Suzanne Palmer, published in Clarkesworld Magazine, ed. by Neil Clarke and Sean Wallace, (September 2017);

“Through Milkweed and Gloom,” by Wendy Nikel in Submerged, ed. by S.C. Butler & Joshua Palmatier, published by Zombies Need Brains LLC, (September 2017).

You can read more about the award (and the organization) at  WSFA.