And the Coyotes Sang
A dark fantasy—Published in Spinetinglers 2011 Anthology
She was still scratching thoughtfully at Ralph's broad skull when a sudden dervish of cold air chilled her feet and tumbled some cat-food kibbles across the floor. Maggie sniffed the air. Fresh night-scents, earth, and damp leaves. Curious, she walked from the kennel room down the dark hallway toward the reception desk. The furious gusts of the October storm were strong enough to push open the heavy glass and aluminium door of the clinic entrance.
Maggie watched as dry leaves scrabbled crab-like across the cedar deck. At the far end of the flood-lit drive, poplar trees were bending like stalks of grass. At least it wasn't raining. Yet.
Maggie shivered. At midnight she would turn thirty. Thirty.
Her mother, a beautiful and vital woman, had disappeared just after her thirtieth birthday. Maggie had never got over the aching loneliness of missing her.
On the evening Maggie's mother had celebrated her thirtieth birthday, ten year old Maggie crept down the stairs in her nightgown and ran, sobbing, toward her mother. Some of her mother's regular guests at the cocktail party had exchanged droll looks. Maggie saw them, but she didn't care. She felt something was going to happen to take her mother away from her.
Louise Allen's hazel eyes had widened in surprise as Maggie flung herself toward her and pressed a tear-blotched face into the delicate fabric of her evening dress. She put her arm around Maggie and walked toward her small office off the living room.
A male voice called after, "Oh, for heaven's sake, Louise. Send the child back to bed."
Maggie knew by the quick rustle of silk and sudden tension of her mother's hand on her shoulder, that Louise had flashed the speaker an angry glance. Maggie sneaked a look at the man from under her mother’s arm. Louise Allen’s friends seemed always to defer to her, Maggie saw how the others already drifted away from the man who had offended her mother. He tossed his drink down quickly. Though he hunched one shoulder in a careless way, the gesture was lame rather than defiant. A woman laughed and drawled, “Nothing comes between Louise and her cub, Raymond. You know that.”
A Christmas Fantasy—Published in Plots in the Pantry Anthology
Damn! Jason hit the brakes and cranked the wheel. A hay wagon! ...what the...! As the truck spun on the icy road, he registered a kaleidoscope of images: jittering horses, the old man's startled blue eyes, and tall cedar trees sparkling with fiery crystals. The drainage ditch gaped like black doom ahead. He dimly heard a shout as the front end of the truck tipped into blackness and his head struck the steering wheel.
"...my boy! Are you all right? Speak to me, lad!" A bluff, overloud voice dinned in his ears, Jason cracked one eye open. There, leaning in the door, was a beaming apparition straight from the pages of Norse folklore.
"...must be a concussion," Jason mumbled, fingering his forehead. "Ow...!"
The apparition's lively blue eyes sobered a moment and surveyed him. The vibrant skin crinkled into a smile again. "No, dear boy,” the apparition stated, “you're just fine." The silver hair and beard nodded vigorously and the moonlight that aureoled his head was flung into the dark corners of the night.