Nan-oh-noooo

Kris here,

November’s come and gone and I just wasn’t good enough to join Tina’s book club this time around. I pulled up about 35,000 words for November averaging a bit over 1000 each day – not bad, but some of the other writers out there were leaving me in the dust! I didn’t expect I’d hit the full 50k mark from the start, so making it 2/3 of the way is alright by me for now.

One important lesson I learned last month was just how many things the world could throw at you when you’re trying to get some danged work done around here. More importantly, I have 3 acts written down for my story, and in 35,000 words I’m barely halfway through the first act! The small half that is. My primary concern is that my verbosity is getting the better of me, and my main character may not need to adverb everything he does. On the other hand, shut up he’s my main character. Goddangit if I want him to thirstily gulp his refreshing spring water in order to blanket his fatigued body in the relaxing, refreshing shade of the quiet bungalow then that’s just what he’ll do.

Yeah so as you see, I have a few days…years? Worth of editing to do. It’s fine, I’ll do it all later, I just need to get everything laid out now so I can rewrite it 11 times before tricking someone I’m not married to to read it. While I’m off doing that, here’s another quick thing I wrote for my adorable wife for Christmas!

::Strangers at Dusk::

A solitary stranger rode into town on a blustery day. Snow driving itself into piles against the empty wooden jailhouse, the clanging of spurs echoed round the ghost town. He hoisted himself out of the saddle, bracing himself against the impressive antlers on this enormous buck. Floorboards creaked and groaned at his landing, glass rattling in its loose enclosure.

“I reckon I come to the right place.”

He caught sight of a few folk peeking through windows and he smiled leisurely at their panic behind the blinds. “Good.” 

Black, soft boots left no prints as he smashed the door to the jail. ‘That’s no good at all.’ Furrowed brows drew together as he casually observed the small, empty cells and grunted. Sliding his red vest aside, the figure loosed his six shooters in their holsters.

“Whoa boy. You wait here, this is like to be dangerous.” He steadied his steed with a firm touch on its glossy nose and moved ahead. He heard shouts across town from the iron mine that was these peoples’ lifeblood. 

That was where he would find his prey. 

Itching for action, the man kept his hands at the ready on his stroll through town. His massive beard catching thousands of snowflakes as his reached around and brought his rifle to the ready. Crunching snow beneath his boots, he finally came to the end of the road. 

A fierce bald man with a scraggly beard waved a pickaxe threateningly at a small pair cowering before him in the snow and demanded they open the bank.

“But sir, we have no banks. We work for the old lord in the castle!”

Biting down on the pipe between his teeth, the massive gunslinger closed the distance to the grizzled old bandit’s back and swung his rifle like a club. Crack! The old miner rolled down the hill to the mouth of the cavernous mining tunnel. “Ya ain’t good enough for bullets.”

Whirling to face the assailant, an angry prospector lit a stick of dynamite quickly and hurled it up the hill. “These people belong to me now. It’s time for you to die, fool!”

Seconds later, thunder rang through the valley. Chapped lips blew the smoking rifle barrel as the old prospector watched his dynamite fall uselessly to the ground.

“I’m afraid you’ve worn out your welcome, friend. I aim to take you down.” Another bullet loaded into the rifle as his voice reverberated through town like an earthquake. 

A roar behind him drew his gaze suddenly. The earth shook with every giant step. Dazzlingly white fur reflected the sunlight as the snow monster plowed through the pair of elves on the ground, hurling them across the street.

“Come on then, you varmant”

Widening his stance and training the sights on the enraged beast, the lone man set his rifle against his shoulder and waited.

Closer, the monster rampaged, grabbing up a dropped hatchet and flinging it at his oppenent – only to have it blasted to the side with thunderous retort.

The gunman quickly slid a large caliber round into the barrel of his Winchester with the monster bearing down on him. 

Planting the gun between him and the beast, he pulled the trigger as the monster made to leap over him with a deafening screech. The creature’s new hole and the blood staining his red suit gave testament to its pain, and proved the hunters’ wrath against the monsters’ body. It flew at him again in a frenzy, ripping the rifle away from him. 

The old man took a solid hit to the jaw. Catching the monsters’ next swing, he used the momentum to launch his massive body into the air and delivered a stunning kick to the side of its furry head. The monster howled and clamped its teeth loudly all about as if to bite him in two. Shouldering it violently, the old man gave it a heavy round of justice to the stomache before finally hurling it at the dastardly prospector below.

At the sight of his two henchmen defeated so easily, the villain moved to flee to the labyrinth inside the mine when a resounding retort of gunfire stopped him short. 

This bullet had singed his moustache clean off, infuriating the bandit. Scowling, he turned to the lawman. 

“Your aim is slipping, old man.” His eyes darted to and fro, searching for a weapon against his longtime nemesis.

“It looks like we have ourselves a problem, here. A yellow, snively coward without a gun stands before me begging to die. But no weapon in sight?” 

Drawing a peacekeeper from his belt, he shined it against the white fur trim on his coat and threw it to the ground in front of his opponent.
“Alright scum. Draw.”

Both men twitched at the trigger. Greasy, unkempt hair topping a mug who’d never known shame stared into the abyss that was the other’s face. Twinkling eyes set under a red and white fur hat, promising him an eternal reward for blinking first.

Lightning struck the old church steeple on the hill with an explosion of thunder bathing the two men in destruction.

When the light dimmed, only one man remained.

Spurs jingling against his boots, the big man sidled over and retrieved his favorite gun. Tipping his furred cap at the terrified townspeople looking out at him, he wandered back to his partner and pulled himself to the saddle once more. “Alright Rudolph, let’s get a move on boy.” The two left as quietly as they came, a wake of dead bandits at their backs.

“Merry Christmas to all, and don’t break the law.”

Kris writes a Christmas story. Well..

Let’s all get into the holiday spirits. Haha, spirits.

Kris here,

Let me tell you, Tina loves to celebrate holidays something fierce, and has ever since we met. I’m afraid my apathy and general disgruntlement regarding holidays might wear off on her eventually though and that would be super sad, so I’ve taken this year to start my holiday spiritualization quest. To begin, I’ve written a silly short story about Christmas eve. More specifically, a story to tell my child to make sure he never tries to sneak into his presents early ever.

Let’s call it “Peeking at Presents”

***

Blanketed in darkness, Mortimer began his nimble descent. His ninja-like reflexes served him well as he rolled off the top bunk, landing in a crouch with a soft thump in the night. Quickly surveying his surroundings, he was relieved he hadn’t been discovered. His room was exactly the same as several seconds earlier.

Whisking himself away into the night, Mort latched onto the doorknob and silently slipped into the dark hallway. He rolled out of his door to the pitch-dark cavern beyond.

Sliding along with his fingertips brushing the rough paint, he hit his first landmark. The bathroom door. Ever so slowly, he slid his toes against the rough carpet until he felt the cool, glossy finish of the dining room.

Suddenly he froze. Did someone whisper his name? A chill wind crept across the back of his neck. Maybe someone forgot to shut a window. He couldn’t leave any loose ends behind him though, that could only spell his doom.

Changing course, he tiptoed to his parents’ room in the hallway adjacent to the one he’d just left. Cautiously groping the still air, he found the door and crouched low to listen.

Strange, it was a lot darker than yesterday when he snuck out to acquire the gingerbread cookies.

Ah, there’s the culprit.

None of the clocks in the kitchen were on. The snow must have killed the power again. In that case, he could afford to hurry. It was too dark for anyone to see him sneaking around. Plus it seemed like it was going to get much colder. After some reconnaissance, he could retreat to the safety of his favorite quilt. He confirmed the whispering in the vicinity of his parents’ room, and it was time to strike.

Darting up off the ground, he snuck back the way he’d come. Nearly falling headlong over a forgotten chair, he skirted as far around the table as he dared until he bumped into the door joining the dining room to the kitchen. Maneuvering until he could just make out the metallic smell of the door handle, he lowered the latch to the door carefully. An icy burst of air bumped the door into his nose, setting his heart aquiver.

Blinking in a daze, he let his ears adjust in the darkness. Still with the whispering! Was he hearing things? It sounded the same as before, but he could almost make out the words this time. Was that his name? Why were his parents so loud, or was that them? Maybe it was a living room window open and there were-

Gasp!

What if robbers were trying to get in! Mort slunk to the floor with narrowed eyes.

Nobody was getting into this house on his watch.

Stalking into the living room with his arms at the ready, he crept into the middle of the room to pinpoint the direction of the whispering.

Mort almost cried out in pain then, as the Christmas tree flared up in all it’s multicolored glory. He blinked away the tears from being blinded and dove under an end table to assess the situation. The whispering had silenced itself in the glow of the Christmas lights. Are the lights on a timer? Clever mom and dad, had they minimized the lighting to deter him from this mission? It must be Christmas then, they rigged the tree to turn on at midnight!

Or was it motion activated? A trap? His parents were worthy adversaries indeed. After several minutes though, it was clear nobody was coming. What good was a trap if you fell asleep guarding it, sheesh.

Mort took a quick inventory of the windows, confirmed they were all closed and locked, and leaped silently to his quarry. Eyes all a sparkle, he marveled at the mountain of colorfully wrapped packages in front of him.

“Wooow.” Whispering in glee, he quickly took inventory and separated the gifts labeled for him. Ugh, why did Marina have so many? She already had about a thousand sippy cups and stuffed animals, how many more could one girl use? He shuffled hers behind all the others and grabbed a few of his more promising looking ones. Giving a last long look and listen to make sure he was alone, Mort carefully, silently peeled back the sticky tape sealing his treasure.

There was a painting in the first package. Cool, a painting! Turning it so the tree lit it up, he was. Well, confused. It looked like someone had thrown a bucket of red paint at the canvas and then scratched out the silhouette of a person, just black ink on their fingernails. At least, he thought it was a person. There were no real defining traits except holes where the eyes would be, the vibrant red bled through and looked right through him no matter which direction he pointed the picture. Shuddering, he shoved the canvas back into its wrapping and tossed it to the back of the pile.

He grabbed a heftier package then, one with more bulk. He rocked it back and forth and a faint twinkling sang out into the night. The boy tapped his lip in thought for a few moments before carefully revealing this one too. Inside was a magic question ball. “Well, at least it isn’t socks.” He whispered to himself.

Whipping his head around at the sudden sound of hushed laughter, his eyes swept the area clean.

“Hello”

He waited a minute after whispering to the empty living room. Must be hearing things. He shook the ball in his hand without much thought, alarmed to see a picture of himself smiling inside.

“What the?”

He shook it a few more times: Him smiling but with pointed teeth. Him cowering in fear. Him staring angrily straight at his real self. Recalling Halloween when he’d asked for some scary stories for Christmas, he silently chastised his parents. This was a little too far guys. Sliding the ball back into its box and then into the paper, he caught a glimpse of the picture glaring at him before it disappeared behind the holographic snowflake wrapping. Tossing this one back with the painting, Mort decided to call it a day.

Downtrodden, he turned to sulk back to his room. He nearly fell flat on his face tripping over a small package.

“Mew.”

“What!?” His eyes went wide as the small box mewed its little heart out. “You can’t put a kitten in a box!” Mort’s joy at hearing the meowing turned to panic as he thought of how scared a little kitten would be, how hungry it was. It must have been freezing in there! He ungraciously ripped the paper and threw it to the floor. A few minutes fighting the tape later, it was finally free.

“Got it!” He threw open one of the box flaps, and the world plunged into darkness. The Christmas tree couldn’t have picked a worse time. He groped for the second box flap when the cat inside the box yowled loudly, ferociously.

“It’s okay little guy, I’m your friend!” He cooed to the spitting feline hesitantly, then slowly lowered his hand gently until he brushed the bottom.

“Huh?”

Small hands explored the empty package frantically. Nothing. The hissing and growling stopped abruptly. Nervously, Mort tossed the box at the tree and backed away. The hair on his neck stood at end, reacting to the voices suddenly whispering his name. Harsh breath tickled the inside of his ears. Tears of fear welled up in his eyes, disorienting him even in the inky darkness. Invisible fingers traced their way up his back.. Mort panicked, bolting for the kitchen door.

Before he arrived, the darkness shifted and writhed around him, a living wall of shadow. A cat shaped itself out of ethereal shadows. Mort froze in place. The cat couldn’t be real, he could see the door right through it. But if it wasn’t real, why did he see the door in its sickly glow? He decided to take the chance. It couldn’t be real.

The apparition arched its back, growling and flicking at him with translucent claws. Shrieking in a human voice, the cat leaped at his face! Burning eyes and fetid breath burrowed into his mind. Mort yelled out and tripped over his own feet, dragging himself backward.

The cat was gone.

He flung himself off the ground into the nook of the fireplace. His back against the solid wall made him feel safer, and he could see the entire room from here. Well, would have anyway with some light. The deafening silence roared in his ears as spectral shapes flickered in and out.

Mort stayed very still, scarcely daring to breathe.

After a few minutes, he conjured his ninja alter-ego, Mortimer Wild the Kid. Elite super spy. He wouldn’t let himself be chased into corners by shadows and whispers!

Drawing to his full height, he took a defiant step forward, daring the shadows to come at him. Puffed up his chest with the next step, and then balled his fists at his side to-

An icy claw stabbed into is ankle, a strangled scream choking the boy. He fell into the tree face first. Every fake pine needle on the fake tree stabbed at him with malice, shoving him to the floor. The skeletal grip pulled him inexorably into the fireplace. His racing heart drown the rest of the world. Mort’s eyes were wide, gaping at the ethereal sinister face coalescing in the blackness. Its twisted smile laughing without a sound, opening ever wider as it drew him into its mouth.

No longer fighting the streaming tears, Mort pried violently at the clammy fist. He winced as his fingernails broke and bent backward, but still it remained.

He locked eyes with the monster in the fireplace, its gaze piercing his soul. The two stared unblinking for an eternity.

Bright light cut into his eyes suddenly, blinding him even worse than the horrible darkness.

“Mort, what the heck are you doing out here man?”

His fathers’ irritated voice rang hollow in Mort’s ears, bouncing to and fro in his head until he was ripped back to his senses.

“Dad!” Mort flung himself across the room into his fathers’ arms, burying his face into strong shoulders. Waves of relief washed over him, terrified sobs wracking his small frame. “Dad there’s something in the fireplace! It tried to eat me and I couldn’t get away and there was a cat and it tried to claw my face off and all the lights were off but the Christm-”

“Mort, Mort. It’s okay son, I’m right here buddy. You’re totally fine, you just had a nightmare.”

“No it was real! I saw the painting and the eight ball under the tree and then-”

“Judging by the paper all over the floor, I already know what you were doing.” Sighing, his father continued, “we told you if you couldn’t wait until Christmas day to open your presents that we’d have to take them back, didn’t we?”

His father’s stern voice held little room for discussion. Gathering Mort in his arms, the two traveled to his now brightly lit room.

An hour later, Mort lie in bed staring at the waving shadows on the ceiling. He promised to stay in bed so they wouldn’t throw away his presents, but the loud whispering in his bed and the yowling cat outside promised to make this night a very long one.

In which Kris has weird thoughts while walking Izzy

Hey guys, Kris here –

Sorry to break our normally scheduled release – Tina and I have been working on the podcast and were trying to get that up this week, but we haven’t been able to get it hammered out. This is my blog week, so I figured I’d write a silly story that made itself in my head while I was walking Izzy for a few miles.
_____________

The boy sifted through the objects in the dumpster with distate. Yech he thought, more biscuits and rawhides. The small child carefully let himself drop silently to the ground. He was told to get food out behind this old warehouse, but it seems it was all for the dogs. Slinking into the narrow shadows cast by the streetlight, he looked about for any other refuse. Spotting a promising looking trash can with a lock, he softly padded his way over.

*SQUEAK*

“Crap!” Tripping over a small pile of squeaky bones he hadn’t noticed, he pulled his emergency axe from his waist pouch and picked up two of the bones. Sprinting back toward the woods, he doused the two toys with the bodyspray, careful not to get any on himself. About halfway to the forest, he tossed one to the side. Then a few meters later, chucked the other in the opposite direction as hard as he could. Sliding into a bush, he lay very still, catching his breath and listening to the alarmed barking.

The two guard dogs were sniffing the pile of toys he’d stepped on a minute earlier, smelling them carefully. The two guards wore handsome uniforms with crisp collars, so he knew they were professionals. The boy made sure not to move, not to make any single sound. He knew society had a special place for him and he couldn’t let himself get caught now. The dogs tracked his scent through the field easily, when they suddenly stopped. Sniffing experimentally, the two split up to search, sniffing in circles and looking questioningly at the sky. The boy heard the howling of sirens in the distance. One of the guards stopped, jumped a few times and started barking at his partner. The other jumped into the air once, ran in a few circles and bolted to the first. Picking up the squeaky bone, the first guard bit down twice and bolted for the other. Just before they colided, the first stopped all of a sudden, squeaked the bone twice more, and sprinted back toward the warehouse complex.

Watching from the shadows, the boy let out a sigh of relief. Dogs are so easy to distract, it made him wonder why his pack was in this predicament in the first place. The sirens came to a stop as several more dogs filed out of a police vehicle marked DPD. They were all armed, armored and very serious. The two guards arrived back to their posts just as the squad car emptied out and the new group stared at the other two expectantly. After a moment of silence, the dog with the toy leapt into the ready position and bit down as fast as he could. The somber group broke out in excitement, each dog barking or chasing his own tail individually, then all chasing after the first to tackle him and wrestle the toy from him.

Feeling it was as good a time as any to slip away, the kid slipped away into the moonless forest.

***

“Oi!”

He awoke to a rough shove and a rougher voice.

“You didn’t bring anything back!?”

Tonight had been his turn to scrounge up dinner, but he’d come home empty handed. It appears he’d fallen asleep waiting for the others to arrive.

“You told me there was food at the storage complex! Well I went there, I climbed inside every trash can and dumpster, crawled under every porch and there was nothing.” The boy crossed his arms. He was hungry too, but there was no helping it tonight.

“You go, sleep on the ground. Blankets are for good boys” Scowling, the grungy man yanked his covers away and wrapped them around himself.

Tears welled in the boys’ eyes, but he didn’t let himself cry. He refused to show weakness to this pack of brutes. He needed protection it’s true, but if he could just find his own pack he wouldn’t have to put up with any of this nonsense.

“Fine!”

Storming off, he angrily took the pack and what clothes he had left and set off. He knew there were few places in the forest to sleep safely, so he opted instead just to try another hand at getting something to eat. Stashing his clothes inside a tree at the edge of the woods, he crept out into a small neighborhood this time. Houses where everyone lived were much more likely to have food thrown out. Rummaging a few cannisters and barrels, he scored a jackpot.

“Carrots!”

They were a little mushy it seems, it’s probably why they were thrown out. Who wanted to chew on mushy carrots when you could chomp into fresh, snappy carrots. Shoving his mouth full, the small child devoured the carrots until he could eat no more. “Ahh,” he sighed happily. He spent a few minutes looking around for a quiet place to rest. Finding a caged trampoline by the edge of the wood, he crawled underneath and used his clothing as a bedspread.

***

“Mom! Can we keep him!”

He opened his eyes and immediately shut them against the bright glare of the sun. Covering his face, he opened his eyes more slowly this time, allowing them to adjust to the light. He was surrounded by what he assumed was the family of the house.

“Patches, you don’t know where he’s been darling. He could have lice!”

“Aww mama, he doesn’t have lice. Look at him! Pleeeeeease. I’ll feed him and walk him everyday and he can sleep with me!”

Things were looking pretty bad, his eyes started darting around looking for an escape. He hadn’t noticed the tall privacy fence around the yard last night in his tired wandering and now there was only one way out. Growling and barking at the other trying to reach out and pet him, the boy bolted for the open gate to the yard and leapt as far as he could. Freedom! He cleared the gate easily and looked to check his pursuers. Ha, they hadn’t even started moving, he was too quick for em.

“Whoa there little fella, nobody’s gonna hurt you. Come here, I got some pizza-flavored pringles for ya? You like those” A man stepped in front of him, setting a small can on the ground.

Warily, the boy eyed the dog catcher’s truck and the y-pole he carried.

“There now, come on over here and we’ll take real good care of you.”

The catcher set the pringles on the ground and backed away. The boy sized up his chances. They were probably faster in the short run than he, they had four legs after all. But he had experience on his side, and could probably lose them in the forest if he made it that far. The boy turned disinterestedly, casually turning his body away and mozying a few steps in the wrong direction. As fast as lightning, he bolted for the can on the ground and used his momentum to roll between the legs of the dog catcher as he turned to get him. Getting to his feet, he made a break for the treeline with the prize. Heart pounding, gasping for air and his mind whirling a mile a minute, the boy pumped his legs as fast as they’d move and barrelled headfirst into the trees.

*Hurk!*

A tightening around his neck choked him fiercely, dragging him back. Wrenching at the rope around his neck, he bit the hands that reached out to him and struggled to free himself.

“Easy does it kiddo, easy does it” The dog catcher eased him back into the grass, the pole securing the boy to the harness around his waist. The terrier spent a minute sniffing the boy and smiled.

“It smells like you’ve been living out in the trees! Don’t you worry, we’re going to take good care of you. We can get you bathed and fed, and maybe find you a nice family. Come on little guy”

The boy pulled as hard as he could against the leash, but it was no use. He’d known it was a risky move and now he’d pay the price. If the price were 3 meals a day, maybe he’d spend a little extra time paying it anyway. The boy was helped inside the back of the truck with the other stray humans while the terrier climbed into the passanger seat.

“Alright Spot, I think we should head on back to the shelter, this one’s gonna need some attention right away.”

“You got it ruffles” replied the Bulldog behind the wheel, who kicked the truck into gear and sped off. The boy watched out the back window as the family of great danes moved their trampoline back into place before they were out of site.

When Kris wants to write.

Hey ya’ll, Tina here kinda. Kris didn’t get time to edit or refine his post this week because of the madness of his first born child starting Kindergarten and all the craziness that happens with that. So, I am here to copy paste what he sent to me and leave it in it’s raw weird format for you all to enjoy. A little peek behind the curtains if you will. He wrote this story as a warmup before diving into writing on his main project. So without further ado. The children’s story of the Tiny Cute Puppy.

(Kris here – I changed a few words here and there, but I didn’t edit too much since I think Tina did a great job separating the word soup I’d sent her in the first place. Hopefully this story makes you giggle as much as I did writing it!)

One day there was a cute tiny puppy dog. But this dog had a secret. He was actually very, very big! He just told everyone he was tiny to make them feel big too and so everyone would think he were adorable. After all, tiny animals are adorable.

Then one day he met a grumpy frog. The frog was like “hey! You’re not tiny!”

The Cute, tiny puppy dog was taken aback. No one had seen through his ruse before, but he didn’t want the frog to give him away.

“What do you mean?” Asked the tiny cute puppy, “I’m obviously adorable, everyone says so. You don’t have to be mean to me because I’m adorable, you could just pet my ears. Or scratch my belly!” The puppy rolled over onto his back, his tongue lolling out to one side and his legs fervently pawing the air, this was a classic act. No one could resist!

“Oy! I’m not about to say you aren’t an adorable puppy after all ‘at rollin’ about young one, but you’re the biggest dog I’ve ever seen. I think you’re the biggest animal I’ve ever seen. I bet you could arm wrestle an elephant and come out on top.”

The frog was definitely weakened by the adorb-attack executed perfectly by the puppy, but it was too wise to be goaded by his cute words. “Tell ye’ wot  wee tyke,” continued the frog, “you tell everyone around town the real truth about your size and I’ll bet they’ll all rub yer’ belly without even thinkin’ twice about it.”

The frog gave the tiny cute puppy a pat on his upside down head and hippity hopped off to scratch some sick beats at the local dubstep club. This really vexed the poor puppy.

“But if I tell everyone the truth…will they really like me?” His curiosity was piqued, he had to know.

The tiny cute puppy bounded toward the house of his best friend Smooth Jazz Pincushion. This was of course his stage name, for Smooth Jazz was a saxophone player on Thursdays when the dubstep club was donated to aspiring jazz musicians as a romping ground to get together. Cute tiny puppy rocked the seismometers all over town as he leapt to a stop just outside Smooth Jazz’s hole.

“Hey Pincushion, are you home!” Tiny cute puppy waited and waited, he knew he had to have patience when visiting Smooth Jazz in case he was in the middle of a set.

He was dedicated to his craft and would keep playing until he perfected the song he was working on. Thankfully, Cute Tiny Puppy only had to wait about an hour before Jazz waddled out of his hole. Tiny Cute Puppy came here because he thought if anyone could identify an adorable puppy, it would be an adorable hedgehog.

“Hey Pincushion, whatchya workin’ on today?” Puppy knew to be polite if he wanted his friends to feel important. And he wanted Pincushion to feel important so he would be sure to give him an answer right away.

“Well today’s piece was a little number I picked up from an old bloke from back in the day. Very popular, very popular, you probably have a shelf dedicated to him at home even. Goes by the name of Ol’ Satchmo. My dear fellow what brings you to my home today.”

Tiny cute puppy was puzzled momentarily thinking about his record shelves, but came back to himself quickly.

“Hey Pincushion, I heard ’round about the pond that I would actually still be adorable if I were really big. Do you think I’d be a cute puppy if I were big?”

Knocking over  several municipal buildings in the process, Tiny cute puppy let his body crash to the earth, sending plumes of dust into the air with a shockwave.

“Hmm, well that’s an awfully good question cute, tiny puppy. I couldn’t imagine you big since you’re so snuggly and cuddly as a tiny puppy, but let’s have a look at you anyway.” Smooth Jazz disappeared inside his hole for a few seconds and reappeared wearing some reading specs. He backed up several city blocks waving his thumb in front of him and looking at Cute Tiny Puppy making all kinds of hmms and umms. Finally, he came back to puppy with his answer.

“Cute Tiny Puppy, I do believe I’ve accidentally discovered that you’re really huge. Like freakishly gigantic. Irresponsible for you to live in the city at that size even. I’m not sure how we missed it, quite an amusing oversight if you ask me. We’ll have to change your name!”

Tiny Cute Puppy was sad, he liked his name. “Aww really, what would you suggest?” Asked tiny cute puppy.

“I have just the thing don’t you worry.” Pincushion disappeared once more into his hedgehog hole to retrieve something.

This time puppy could hear the odd sound of a huge bellows being activated just as a giant blaze shot out of Smooth Jazz’s rooftop. Following were the echoing clangs of a hammer ringing throughout the tunnels, sounding like it came from everywhere at once. Finally, puppy heard the loudest sizzling sound he’d ever heard in his life. After several more minutes of beeping and mechanical grinding, Pincushion appeared in a great big excavator, tirelessly moving dirt to make the entranceway to his tunnel at least 3 times bigger than it had been moments ago.

Cautiously, the puppy asked “Hey Smooth Jazz, what’s the machinery for? I thought you were just picking out a name.”

Pincushion responded briefly before disappearing once more into the cave. “Oh puppy, sorry for the wait, I got distracted on the way to my library. I forgot I’d made a forge in this place a few weeks ago and I’ve been dying to try it out. I even had some sheet metal on the floor so I used it to make a splendid new nametag for you. Here try it out!”

Pincushion came back out with a nametag so big, he had to tie a team of horses to it just to get it out the front door.

“Thanks guys,” he waved the team of equestrians back across the street to their own homes.

With that, Cute Tiny Puppy laid on the ground so Smooth Jazz could fix the nametag to his collar. When he rose back up, he could see his new name.

“Gigantor Adorable Labrador? That’s a great name!” Shouted formerly Cute Tiny puppy.

“That it is my fine friend. That. It. Is.”

 

The End

Alma – Chapter 2

Ro’dan looked around the foyer as Alma closed the doors and bolted them. She quickly moved over to the windows to peek out them. Ro’dan was in awe of the large house. It’s grand stairs and large rooms that were open to the sides of the hall gave more merit to the high standing of this odd young lady. However, the rooms were completely bare but clean of any dust. She must be a street child like himself who happened to find an empty house that no one missed and had been using it as her own. Ro’dan thought on it for a moment more and realized that this new place could serve very well as a base. Allowing them to pull more elaborate cons on people. Maybe he could use this daft girl’s kindness to get her roped into letting him do as he pleased.

Alma pulled away from the window to face Ro’dan, “Well, it doesn’t seem to appear we were followed!” Alma looked at the boy as if taking in who he was for the first time. “Oh, um,” a sudden shyness appeared across her face. “I mean, I know I should have properly asked you over and had refreshments ready but I got so excited that I was going to meet a real life cutpurse that I just flew away with you.”

Ro’dan cocked his head to the side and smiled his most charming smile. This was going to be too easy. “Oh my dear, I can understand how excited you must have been to share this wonderful place with someone.” She seemed to shift her feet in thinking what to say next. “Did I remind you of an old lover? Perhaps of your father?”

Alma’s head quickly snapped up and she held rage in her eyes. “You would be nothing like Father. Never speak of him again.” and like that, the firm overtone and glare was gone and again replaced with the mousy looking girl again. “You didn’t remind me of anyone. I just got excited to meet someone I had only ever read about in Father’s books.”

Ro’dan smiled again. A learned girl huh? Not a street rat then. Even easier to fool. “Well, I don’t know much about books ma’am but I would be happy to help you, however, I can.”

Alma smiled brightly and nodded. “Yes, I think I could learn much from you. Come with me.” Alma turned and headed up the stairs. Ro’dan followed, keeping an eye out for anything that could be of value, but being sorely disappointed. This house was kept well clean but it lacked any kind of personal touch. He was almost ready to offer to bring Alma a chair when she grasped the handles to the closed off room at the top.

“This place means more to me than anything I could ever own. It stands to reason that, if you are foolish enough to harm, dirty, or steal anything in here, I will use all of my life in the pursuit of you and your kin for the rest of my days. I will haunt you from beyond my grave and I will lay claim to every generation that comes from your line. Do not test me, cutpurse, I know many a curse from wicked Voodoo priestesses from the swamps and dry lands. I will use them on you before you can blink.” With that, she waved a hand over his head and said a few odd words then spit on her thumb and touched the bottom of her shoe.

Ro’dan wasn’t sure if he really believed her but any man of his age knew better than to risk the eye of God or anything else that could ruin your life. She looked so determined that there was no doubt left in his mind that she meant every word she said. “I swear on my mother’s grave that no harm shall come to this house from myself.” He used his sweetest puppy dog eyes and that seemed to please the odd girl. She nodded and lead him into the room with a grand sweep of her arms.

“Welcome to the Library of Mr.Wonders.”

Alma- Chapter 1

Whenever Alma thought of an adult, she thought of the firm stiff nature that her mother possessed. Her mother was a force. She could hold people at bay with nothing but the sound of her firm voice. She never wavered when she had made up her mind and she never backed down. Alma often thought of her mother when she was out shopping and someone snagged the last roll of bread or butted into her conversation with the butcher to order their own meat. Alma never had to be hard. She was soft spoken and soft in spirit. She followed readily down any path that others had already made a trail for. Alma was soft in the ways of dealing with anyone. She often saw herself as a cloud and her mother as a tall mountain. The clouds would never break through the mountains, she just had to bend and split and make her way around them. Conforming to the needs and wants that lay before her.

It was a sad but easy life for Alma. Until the day mother died. The brisk men in dark suits showed up and demanded this or that. Stating that her mother had no right to keep them from it. Alma could do nothing but sit by as the men took things from her home to pay for the rest of the debt on the house. She would get to keep living there but with far less of the art and specialty pieces her mother had fawned over. She was left with her own meager mattress and the books. Her father had loved books. He had spent his whole life learning and collecting as many stories as he could. He was a dreamer and very soft as well. Alma supposed that is why mother was so hard, to counter father’s soft. Father passed away when Alma was only 10 years of age. Her mother had made talk of taking out the books and turning the room into a rented room for extra income. That was the only day that little Alma took a stand. Well, rather a sit. She sat in front of the doors to the office all day and night. Refusing to move, no matter the beating promised or candies offered. She sat there clutching tightly the last story her father had read to her.

If she thought back carefully she supposes that one could say mother was proud of Alma for finding something to hold on to. Even mother had hated the idea of getting rid of such a large collection that was such a part of their lives. So she gave in on this one thing, with the solid understanding that Alma was to be the sole owner of the office and as such, it was her job to keep it neat and tidy. Every morning Alma would set to work dusting off all the shelves of books, stacking neatly the last round of reading, shoveling out the ash from the fireplace and hauling it all out. She made sure that nothing was out of place or kept incorrectly. One small thing for her mother to latch onto and Alma feared she would take all of her joy.

The books were a shared world where Alma didn’t feel small. She felt as brave as the young lost boy on a magical island, or as fearless as the small girl who followed a rabbit. She would find herself wondering how such wonderful and amazing people were even thought up. The only people around her were all quite practical and reasonable people who kept to themselves and worked hard to keep their reputations quite high. She never was able to find people like in her book. Until the night she met Ro’dan. Ro’dan was a young boy who had attempted to cut her purse. Alma having read every book in the large office found many that talked about how to avoid such things from happening. She also realised that this boy likely didn’t have any choice in the matter and was doing so just to save his own skin. Alma caught Ro’dan’s hand swiftly and pulled him close.

“Listen closely, I will make it seem as if I am so upset at what you are doing and hauling you off. You must follow and make it look good for whoever might be watching you.”

Ro’dan was just confused and shocked at the speed of this younger looking lady. By the way she dressed and acted he had thought her to be a spinster for sure. Now looking at her closely he could tell that her eyes and face showed a much younger and lively looking young woman. He wasn’t sure what she was talking about but when she started making a fuss and talking about constables, he was pulling as hard as he could to get away from her shrill voice of alarm. However, her arms and hands were much stronger than he suspected and she easily pulled him down the street and around to an ally way out of sight of his crew. He looked up in worry as this crazed young woman watched people running around and looking confused. She had managed to cause chaos as people started to notice their own pouches emptied. She had a mad smile spread across her face and she turned to face him with those excited eyes.

“You are someone I have been waiting to meet for a long time. Please come with me and have tea.” Before Ro’dan could give a response, Alma took him once again leadingly by the wrist and dragged him all the way to her home.

From the outside, Ro’dan could tell this girl was well enough off. She should have been no different than the average victim of his snatches. However, this girl had reflexes too fast for him to see and a power that rivaled even his own master’s power. She was strong in a surprising way that kept Ro’dan silently waiting for an opening to get away.

The Grumpy Penguin

Kris here,

So some time ago while we were all hanging around and I was probably doing some manly dad things, like grilling outdoors or twisting off tight jar lids or something, when I had the bright idea “Hey Nik and I should write a story!” So I then said aloud “Hey Nik and I should write a story!”

Tina was totally down with this on account of it not including any work on her part, but Nikolai was apparently heartbroken. Do you know how long he’d waited to play with those toys? It might’ve been watching his tablet too but let’s go with the toys thing. He was yelling and crying and calling 911 and generally just making a ruckus that I don’t think was necessarily apt for the situation. So, of course, I sat down and started writing the story about him, out loud, while writing everything to paper. He gradually grew less and less fussy and started laughing because I’m the best and we all learned something at the end (dad had to google because he was making outlandish allegations that nobody was sure of.)

Right after we’d finished writing it down to paper, Nik and I read the story to Tina as a whole instead of the broken sentences I used while I was actually writing it down. Tina did that thing she does where she’s the best and there were suddenly illustrations! And now we have a brief and amusing story that still gets told before bed from time to time – we thought we’d post it on our blog here, in case anyone else was able to make their toddler giggle at the antics of The Grumpy Penguin.

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