Monthly Archives: February 2013

Bonus Flash Fiction: The Detective and the Archaeologist

Eliza Carlisle had never given much thought to the ancient Babylonians. So, it’s no surprise that when she first appeared in the middle of a crowded marketplace, she was confused and more than a little pissed off about being there.

A strange man, not wearing near enough clothes, had grabbed her and started babbling at her on the street. Assuming the man was one of the crazy homeless who occasionally inhabit every large city, she did her best to extricate herself from his grasp without setting him off further. The man was strong and began shoving something into her hand that she later recognized as a pocket watch and mumbled “Baker, Baker, help.” When she closed her hand around the object, the man let go of her and stumbled off through the crowd.

It took her a moment to realize she was the one who was wearing the wrong clothes.
“Oy! Come back here!” She called after the man then started shoving her way through the crowd after him. He ducked into an alleyway and she followed quickly after him. She followed him through the maze of the unfamiliar city, rudely shoving people so she could keep following the bouncing head that she couldn’t quite catch up with. When he ducked into a fabric covered doorway, she saw her chance and ducked in behind him.
Going from the hot desert sun into the dark house blinded her long enough for the man to get away from her. By the time her eyes had adjusted to the dim lighting, the only person she could see was a man who looked as out of place as she did.
“Oh good, he found you,” the man said, standing up and handing her a cup.
“Who are you?” Eliza said, taking the cup from him.
“I do realize I’m dressed a bit differently from the last time I saw you, but I should think you’d recognize the person you punched in the middle of a busy London street.”
Her mind raced but, try as she might, she couldn’t recall punching anybody the last time she was in London. “I never punched anybody in London,” she told him. “I haven’t been there since I was 7, anyway, so I’m certain you have the wrong person.”
“Oh,” the man looked at her, his face guilt stricken. “Oh dear. I deserved it then.”
“I’m sure you did, if a strange woman just walked up to you and punched you in the middle of the street.”
“It was you, my dear, just not yet. I know, because you told me to not bother asking for your help when I found the pocket watch.”
“This pocket watch?” She opened her hand to show him the pocket watch the Babylonian had given her.
“That’s the one,” he said, sitting back down on a cushion and taking a sip from his drink. “Please, sit, have some tea. It’s actually quite good.”
Something had been nagging her about him and it suddenly clicked. “You’re British.”
“And you’re American, as evidenced by your appalling manners. Do sit down, time, while fluid, is currently not on our side.”
“Well, excuse me for asking,” she snapped and sat on the cushion opposite him. “You’re not modern British, are you?”
“Strictly speaking, there is no ‘modern British’ right now.” He smiled at her. “But I understand your question and the answer is no, my understanding is that I am from approximately 100 years earlier than you. Which, incidentally, is part of the modern era.”
Questions dragged through her head, each not wanting to be asked. “How…” she started than trailed off. He smirked at her and she shook her head. “That’s not important. No, it is important but not particularly relevant to this discussion right now. Why am I here, why are you here and how do we get out of here?”
“You are here because you punched me in the face and mentioned a pocket watch I hadn’t found yet. I’m here because I was shocked to find a working pocket watch when I was on an expedition to find the ancient city of Babylon. As you can see, I found it.” He gestured to the city around him.
“Yes, very good, well done. Now, how do we get out of here?”
“I wonder if you think I brought you here for revenge. If I knew how to get out of here, I would not be here. You seemed to know how to work the watch when last we met.”
“We haven’t met yet.” Eliza sniffed at the tea in her hand.
“And I accused you of bad manners. My name is Sir Richard Baker, archaeologist. And you are?”
“You’re a sir?” She laughed. “I am Ms. Eliza Carlisle, private investigator.”
“A pleasure to meet you, Ms. Carlisle. Now, if you could, I’d like to go home.”
“Sucks to be you because I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
They look at each other in expectation. “Damn,” he says. “I was hoping to not have to live through an ancient battle. There’s an army on the way and the walls aren’t finished. Won’t be for quite some time, I’m afraid.”
Eliza suddenly figured out why she had punched him in the middle of a street in London. She was hard pressed not to punch him right there. “How did you send the guy to me to bring me here?”
“I could tell you a very long, convoluted story but it comes down to, I don’t know. The man who came from you was one of the few people I know here. I mentioned I was lonely, that if I was going to be stuck here, I’d prefer to be stuck here with somebody I had more in common with. He had the watch in his hand and said he would bring me a companion if he could. Then, he disappeared.”
“What were you talking about the first time you held the watch?”
“My desire to see Babylon as it was being built.”
“Did you think to ask it to take you home?”
He opened his mouth and she could see the sharp retort forming on his face then his expression changed to one of chagrin.
“Didn’t think of that, did you?” She laughed at him.
“Well, now that you have, I’ll have the watch back, thank you.” He put his hand out expectantly.
Eliza smiled and looked down at the watch in her hand. “Maybe I’ll make a wish, then. Since my life was so rudely interrupted because you were an idiot.”
“I do apologize for the inconvenience. Now, if I could just have the watch back, I’ll see to it we get where we need to be.”
“I’ll wish for us to get where we need to be, thank you very much.” The world around her changed abruptly and Eliza Carlisle found herself in the middle of a street in Victorian London. She scrambled out of the road as quickly as she could and very nearly ran into a man who looked very familiar.
“I beg your pardon, miss,” the man said. “Are you all right?”
Eliza cocked her arm back and punched him across the jaw, knocking him to the ground. “You jackass! Leave me alone! And don’t you even think about coming to me for help with that damned pocket watch! I want to go home!”
She found herself back in her apartment, the pocket watch making itself felt in her hand. The urge to check what time it was, what day it was, was overwhelming. It was only the man coming out of her kitchen, dressed in modern clothes and bearing two cups of tea that stopped her.
“It’s about time you got home,” he said, handing her a cup. “We need to start planning the wedding.”

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Filed under archaeologist, detective, flash fiction, magic, writing

Flash Fiction Friday: At Ease

Author’s Note: This is a work of fiction, inspired by some of the stories I heard from friends and on the news about happenings during and after the Waldo Canyon Wildfire. Thank you to all the firefighters and support who saved so many homes and lives. I apologize for any inaccuracies in the few details I used for my characters.

Captain Lacey Sterling, MD, walked into the mattress store that was blocks from her home, looking for the man she’d been assured would be there. Her sister and brother-in-law had just picked her up from the airport, she’d been awake for 22 hours, arriving home 2 weeks before most of her unit. There had been several other soldiers on the plane home with her, most of them looking at pictures of the damage from the wildfire that had swept through weeks earlier. Though many of the people in her unit were aware of what had happened, the people on that plane had been directly effected by the fire. Some of them were returning to see what could be salvaged from the smoke and water, others had nothing left to return to.

Veterinarian Tanner Sterling stood in the middle of the mattress store and stared at the bed in front of him. It looked good but he wasn’t sure it was the right one. He remembered his wife had liked the mattresses that were firm but had a fluffy top. He should have taken a picture of the last bed but he couldn’t bear to go near it. The whole thing smelled like smoke and mold and reminded him of the fire. He’d spent the last few weeks cleaning and painting like a mad man whenever he wasn’t checking up on his patients who had been affected by the fire. So many ranches and farms had been burned, most of the livestock had managed to get away from the flames but not all of them. No, not all of them.

When Lacey appeared at his side, Tanner wasn’t surprised. He hadn’t been sleeping very well lately and he kept seeing her everywhere. When she held him and he realized it wasn’t a dream, tears welled in his eyes, and panic set his heart racing. The house wasn’t done yet. He’d worked so hard to make sure she would have a home to return to, one that would show no trace of the smoke that had billowed through their front windows and out the back, that he almost wanted to put her back on the plane until he could finish making it perfect. The only thing missing was the bed.

“They told us what happened,” she said, not reading his mind but knowing him well enough to know where his thoughts were going. “There were videos about where the fire was going, what was going on. I saw the horses on the ridge.”

He could still hear the horses screaming as the fire raced over the mountain.

“You were in a lot of the videos, baby. Helping the fire fighters, working with the animals.”

“The house isn’t ready, yet,” he told her, still staring at the bed in front of him.

“I’m amazed it’s still standing,” she told him, wrapping her arm around his waist and cuddling into his chest. “You did the best anybody could have asked, and so much more. I’m so very proud of you.”

He took a deep breath and turned his head to look at the top of hers. This tiny woman who was cuddling up to him was a doctor in the army, a tough cookie by anybody’s definition, and it still amazed him that she had chosen him because he made her feel safe. She worked with some of the toughest men in the world but she cuddled with him.

“Barb told me you weren’t sleeping well,” Lacey said, stroking his arm.

“There isn’t a bed, yet,” he said.

“I’m sure they can send one up soon, we just have to tell the nice man behind the counter which one we want.”

“I couldn’t remember which one you liked last time. I thought it was this one but every time I tried to sit on it, it didn’t feel quite right.”

“There was something missing, I bet, because you were right, this is the one I prefer.”

“You were missing. Nothing’s quite right without you here.”

“Well, I’m here now, so let me help you finish making the house back into a home.” She turned and looked at the salesman who had been dancing around nervously, trying to find a way to help her husband. “I’m sure they can get the bed delivered today.”

“I’ll call and see if we can get it there within the hour, ma’am,” the salesman said.

Still not certain that he wasn’t just having a very vivid dream, Tanner paid for the bed and started to walk out toward his car. Lacey took his arm and steered him toward her sisters car. “Neither of us is really in a condition to drive, babe. Enjoy the driver and we’ll come down and get the car later.”

The drove to the house and the mattress truck pulled in behind them. The salesman had made good on his promise and the delivery drivers had put them to the front of the line.

Barb directed the delivery guys where to put the bed and went upstairs with them to make sure everything was where it was supposed to go. Tanner walked his wife through everything that had happened to the house and everything he had done to set it back to rights after the evacuation orders had been lifted.

Lacey waved to her sister as she left and gently led her husband upstairs to see the bed. She helped him undress and tucked him into the bed.

“Come to bed,” he told her, as she went towards the door.

“I’m still wearing Afghanistan,” she told him. “I was going to take a shower.”

“Take off the uniform and come be my wife,” he demanded, half-asleep.

“Yes, sir,” she smiled at him. She undressed quickly and got under the covers with him.

“At ease, soldier,” Tanner Sterling said, and drifted off to sleep, his wife following him quickly into slumber.

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Filed under doctor, firefighters, flash fiction, soldier, veterinarian, waldo canyon wildfire, writing

The Health Journey, February 11, 2013

Well, hey there! I almost forgot to write a post for today!

The last few days have been a mix of joy and angst for me and some last minute butt covering by some people who shall remain nameless. Needless to say, there’s been some stress. Add in a monthly starting (didn’t we just do this?) and I find myself bloated and anxious at 11pm on a Sunday. The anxiety will not be going away anytime soon but that’s ok, because it’s good anxiety. I’m starting a new chapter in my life (I hope) that I have been praying about for a while now. I even got a haircut for the occasion… ok, it was a trim, but still.

I haven’t weighed in yet this week (I’ll post an update once I do) but my jeans are definitely too big, even directly out of the dryer and still a little bit wet. I’ll be doing some shopping for some new ones next weekend and I’m incredibly excited about it.

I have to admit, I haven’t done as much yoga as I would have liked. Rather than daily, I’m looking at every other day for last week. I’m going to get that up to at least 4 days this week, possibly 5, depending on where I am with cramping. It was bad today so I didn’t push it because I’ve found that, when I push it, yoga actually makes the cramps worse. Your mileage may vary, of course, but that’s what I have found for myself.

I’m excited for this week and I’m hoping I didn’t gain too much weight from slacking off.

Oh yeah! This is also my 200th post! Woo!

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Flash Fiction Friday: The Mad Professor

Professor Alexander watched as the entrance to the tomb was opened to the chanting of the villagers behind him. The wisewoman stood before the entrance, clutching a wooden box, and muttered the incantation to keep the souls inside at rest. Once the stone was finished being moved, everybody became silent. He had been told the chanting and rock moving would coincide but he didn’t expect the chanting to stop the moment the rock stopped moving. He would have to make a note of this part of the ritual.

The wisewoman moved forward with her precious cargo and the people behind her began the low chants to keep her safe from the spirits within the cave. The professor followed her as closely as he dared, making sure to keep well outside of the ritual area. He could see a ledge inside the cave and he knew there would be more near the back. The people of this village had been using this tomb for centuries and the objects on the ledge proved it.

Professor Alexander had been observing the Inda for years. They considered him harmless  if a little mad, and very curious about everyday things. He examined everything, even going so far as to weigh the spirit dolls before and after somebody died. He was very excited to find a difference and the elders looked on his excitement with indulgence. Any child could have told him the dolls would change weigh once the spirit of the dead man entered it.

Several years into his study of the tribe, Professor Alexander returned to his home and came back to the jungle with a wife. She was pretty and young and wholly unsuited to the heat and damp of the jungle. Her children, though, seemed to thrive in the jungle.

She was pregnant with their third child, a much hoped for girl, when the river flooded higher than usual. Fever and death followed, devastating all the tribes in the valley. There were trips to the spirit cave every week, bringing the souls of the dead to start their journey. When the professor’s wife was taken by fever, he spent long hours looking for a way to save her and their unborn child. She went into labor but died of the fever before the baby had uttered its first cry.

Professor Alexander pleaded with the wisewoman to make his wife a spirit doll, so he knew her soul was at rest. Saddened by his grief, the wisewoman explained that the dolls had to be made when they were children so the spirits would know where to go when the bodies had died. They had to have time to learn about two bodies. As an adult, they had become too entrenched in their own bodies to learn how to transition to the spirit dolls.

The professor was distraught, frantic to save his wife. The wisewoman agreed to perform rituals to guide her soul to the spirit cave that was the portal to the after life. Without being trapped in the dolls, the best the rituals could do is give the soul a path to the after life. Only the gods could take a lost or confused soul to the afterworld. His children, however, could be given spirit dolls.

The fever passed through the valley. Professor Alexander decided to seek out the gods the wisewoman had told him about. They were supposed to be deeper into the jungle and he was determined to seek them out. There were many people in the tribe who would watch his children while he went out to ensure the peace of his wife’s soul. Most of the men in the tribe were sure he would not return.

The professor did return and he brought with him a creature nobody had seen in person for centuries. The art on the abandoned temples that had been retaken by the jungle portrayed the creature that was in chains as a servant of one of the gods. It was often considered one of the lesser gods.

The tribe didn’t know what to do with the captured god. Frightened and cowed, the creature cringed when the people came to look at him. Professor Alexander had gone even more mad in the jungle looking for the gods and kept the one he had captured in chains near him. Construction began on the professors laboratory, the tribes people following his orders with awe. Wars were fought throughout the valley for supplies and laborers, the Inda attacking with their peaceful neighbors with a fanaticism that had not been seen for centuries.

Professor Alexander moved into his laboratory and took the god with him. His children were given spirit dolls by the wisewoman while he was in the jungle. When he remembered to be, or could be reminded about his duties, the professor was a doting father. When he was working on his experiments, the professors wild eyes would sometimes be drawn to the spirit dolls his sons carried.

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Filed under flash fiction, Steampunk, writing

Steampunk Wednesday

Nothing like a soul crushing job to make writing slow. I’ve still got a few more chapters I want to write and edit before I launch Copper Visions.

This weeks inspiration for the aesthetic is Panic! At The Disco’s The Ballad of Mona Lisa


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Filed under music, Panic At the Disco, Steampunk, Steampunk music video

The Health Journey, February 4, 2013

This week has been one of me doing my best to get back on track. Getting back in a habit feels harder than trying to develop the habit in the first place. I’ve done the yoga routine about half the times I’ve intended to but that’s better than not doing it at all.

The hardest thing I’ve come across is trying to eat well. I had some car issues that ate up almost my entire budget so I’m trying to cook decently for $20 this week. Normally, that would mean pasta. Now, it means lots of bunless burgers. I’ve pretty much given up soda and I’m trying to give up most sugar.

I’ve got blood tests and weigh-ins this week to see how I’m progressing and I’ll do my best to get back on the exercise wagon. I did the math on how much weight I’ve lost and how much I have left to lose. If I keep up what I’ve been doing, I’ll be at my goal weigh just before my best friends wedding. That’s a very exciting development!

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