Weekend Wind Down – Happy Ever After

In England it was the depths of winter and the weather was doing its worst. It was cold and grey and wet and muddy and miserable. Which made it all the more amazing that a short dragon ride could bring one to a beach of shining white sand bordered by a sea so clear and blue it was criminal not to swim in it.
After time spent mating rapturously on the deserted beach, Leonore found she had sand stuck to so many places that the siren call of the sea could no longer be ignored. She ran until she could lift her legs no longer then just allowed herself to fall into the sparkling blueness. Unafraid, she struck out for who knew where, only stopping swimming when her arms and legs grew tired. She rolled over in the water and felt R’u’uth come up beneath her. He lifted her onto his back.
“Come” he said almost sternly. “I must speak with you.”
Leonore felt something inside her shrivel. This was the moment she had been fearing. Her dragon had grown bored with her timorousness and lack of self-belief. He was going to tell her he could see her no more. She wanted to cry, but her stiff-necked pride kept her misery hidden. Plenty of time to cry when she was alone in her bed.
They reached the shore, but not at the sandy cove where Leonore had left her clothes. Instead R’u’uth climbed out of the water onto a smooth rocky ledge. He made a step from his foreleg and a somewhat woebegone woman climbed down onto the warm rocks. Her dragon lover was not fooled by her attempt at a careless demeanour.
“Why so sad?”
“Why wouldn’t I be sad? You are going to dump me.”
R’u’uth looked as puzzled as it is possible for a dragon to look.
“Dump. You know. End the relationship. Tell me it’s all over…”
She would have continued her litany of misery had not a long dragon tongue licked the angry tears from her cheeks.
“Come here, silly one.”
Almost against her will, Leonore moved closer and he draped a wing over her.
“Listen. It is not of ending what we have that we must speak. But of having more.”
She looked at him in genuine puzzlement.
“How can we have more?”
He blew his spicy breath over her, which both soothed and excited.
“Would you have more if we could? Would you live with me and be my love?”
“Of course I would. But how might that be? I’m not a dragon.”
“You might be.”
She stamped her foot. “Look at me. I’m not a bloody dragon.”
R’u’uth removed his wing from about her shoulders and laughed.
“And I am not a bloody human, but watch.” 
Leonore turned to face him and for a moment nothing happened, then it was as if there was a flaw in the light and a handsome naked man stood in front of her. For a moment she couldn’t believe her eyes, then almost of its own volition her tongue came out to moisten her lips.
It was strange to hear her dragon’s voice coming from the lips of a human. He spoke teasingly. “Stop looking at me like that, or I will have to have you right here on this hard rock.”
Leonore knew she would be even less able to resist R’u’uth in human form, so she dropped her eyes.
“So you can be a human, but that doesn’t mean I can be a dragon.”
“It might. You might. Are you willing to find out?” For once he didn’t sound teasing, or sensual, or amused.
She gathered together her tiny courage, rooting it out from all the hiding places it found behind fear, uncertainty, self-doubt and sadness. Then she straightened her spine.
“Yes I’m willing. But what if I cannot be a dragon?”
“Then I won’t be one….”
Before she could find the words to respond to that he flowed back into his dragon form and extended his foreleg.
The next while went by in a sort of a daze, and by the time Leonore had collected her thoughts she found herself standing at R’u’th’s side on a hilltop where the grass was springy and scented and dotted with ancient megaliths. 
She wore a hooded robe of something soft and comforting and felt more at peace than she had ever felt in her life. Something impelled her to walk forward a few paces and place the palms of her hands against the surface of the tallest of the stones. She somehow knew it would be warm to the touch, and she couldn’t even bring herself to feel any fear when she felt a presence exploring her mind and heart. When the presence left her she turned back to R’u’uth to find him no longer alone. There were two more dragons with him. One was a hulking black-skinned male, the other a svelte female with the deepest darkest eyes she had ever seen in her life. She curtseyed fluidly, a skill she hadn’t even known she possessed until that moment.
The male dragon spoke. “You would be a dragon, little human?” 
“I don’t know what I would be, sir dragon. I only know I would be with R’u’uth.”
The black roared and flames split the sky, but Leonore felt no fear.
The female snapped her teeth together.
“Behave A’a’shanto,” she snarled. “The stones have accepted her. She has answered you correctly. And she didn’t even react to your showing off. Do your duty as master dragon and stop behaving like a hatchling.”
The male smiled at the female who must, Leonore thought, be his mate to speak thusly to him. He then turned his attention to Leonore.
“There will be pain,” he said almost apologetically.
“There will be more pain in spending my life without R’u’uth.”
“Extend your left arm.”
She did as she was bid, and draconic teeth snapped. For a second the pain was so excruciating she thought she might fall but then R’u’uth braced her from behind. The master dragon ripped his own foreleg with his razor-sharp teeth and as their mixed blood fell onto the sacred ground Leonore felt the change within her.
Her arm stopped bleeding and she leaned into her mate before making the change of form for the first time in her life. She simply let herself flow into her draconic body before beating her wings for the sheer joy of being a dragon.
“Look,” the master dragon’s mate said in a voice of wonder. “R’u’uth’s mate is a golden queen.”
L’e’onore heard no more as the need to fly overwhelmed her and she took to the skies over Dragonheart flying wingtip to wingtip with the other half of her soul.

©️Jane Jago

Jane Jago’s Daily Drabble – One Hundred and Five

The wine was as red as blood. She held her glass up to the light and watched the play of colour in the crystal. 

The man across the table watched her perfect beauty through haunted eyes.

He put out a hand as if to touch her face but drew back at the last second, afraid to profane the moment.

She smiled with absent sweetness, and sipped the wine.

It was fast acting poison but, he had been assured, humane.

He counted silently, and when he reached twenty she slipped from her chair.

“So perish unfaithful wives.”

He wiped a tear…

©️jj 2018

The Cyclist

Cyclist, cyclist whizzing past
In the middle of the path
Whatever gave you the idea
You were the only person here?
Whatever made you understand
It was okay to curse that man?

Cyclist, cyclist in the water
Guess you met the old guy’s daughter.

© jane jago 2018

Author feature: ‘Hyde’s Lament’ by L.N. Denison

Hyde's Lament by L.N. Denison is the darkest of dystopian visions and not a read for the faint of heart

Catherine Hyde is being held captive and she is the victim of an experiment that is slowly turning her into a Caver – a monstrous sub-human which craves flesh…

Once Hyde’s vision had come back, she instantly recognised Miller as the man that had told her of her true origins. The man who had told her that her whole life was nothing but a lie. She glanced at Scott, who stood the other side of the bars with his recording device, ready to catch every little detail of the death scene that was about to play out, and watched as another man entered the room, Major Clark, her commander.
Judd saluted the new arrival to the scene. 
“You’re just in time, sir.” he said as the major took his position in front of the cage. 
“Let’s see what she’s got.” Clark folded his arms across his chest and waited. 
A tide of anger rushed through Hyde’s body as she stood over her helpless victim. She looked outside the cage again and saw Judd smirking. She gestured her intentions for him by swiping her index finger across her throat. She could smell his fear, though he didn’t show it. 
Hyde slowly ran her human fingers over Miller’s naked, blistered chest. With every stroke she could feel herself fighting the urge to rip this man apart. Yes, she was angry, and to the point of starvation, but she wanted to fight her ever increasing caver mentally. 
Why are they making me do this? I don’t want to kill this man.
So hungry.
He’s human. I can’t.
But I’m so fucking hungry! And they will kill me if I don’t. 
Her thoughts ate away at her soul as she looked down at the man she’d be forced to kill. In the end, she’d rather do their bidding than face a bullet to the brain.
Hyde knew they wanted her to make this man suffer, but she was not about to play their game. She struck fast and deadly, her talons tearing between his ribs and into his heart. The body jerked a few times and then was still. She lengthened the slit in Miller’s chest, then jabbed her hand into his stomach and pulled his insides out. But there wasn’t much to pull out, barely enough to satisfy her hunger. 
“I didn’t say you could kill him,” Judd snarled and gestured for Jenkins to aim his rifle at her head again, but Clark soon put paid to the idea.
“Don’t you dare pull that trigger, private. Lower your rifle. She stays alive.”

A bite of... L.N. Denison
Question One: The world that Hyde exists in is both brutal and conscienceless. How did it come into your head to write about a future that seems without hope?

Well, I look at the way things are at the moment, and from where I’m sitting, things look pretty bleak. What I do is I intensify what is going on in the now, as I believe that this is the way of things in the future. Maybe, not our lifetime, but I can see things taking that path. Going Underground is another prime example of how I see the future heading, but that’s another book for another time.

Question Two: If you were suddenly transported to that world, what three things would you take with you to up your chance of survival?

Without a doubt, I would take Max, my Saint Bernard. He would see off any threats and keep me safe. A decent weapon that didn’t rely on ammunition, maybe a scythe with a long reach, so I can cut down any threat before it even reaches me, and enough freeze-dried rations to last a while, so I didn’t have to rely on the contaminated fat of the land.

Question Three: What was the first book you ever fell in love with, and has that book coloured your own writing?

I wouldn’t say it was a book I fell in love with, but it was my first and it was the book that started me writing…1984 by George Orwell. Okay, I tell a lie, I did love it, but I hated the manifesto and skipped the whole of chapter 9.

L.N. Denison in her own words

Layla Pinkett (AKA L.N. Denison) is predominantly the writer of Dark Dystopic and Post-apocalyptic yarns, but is open to writing anything. She lives with her husband and dog in rural Kent, and will continue to do so as long as they’ll have her (he-he). She is a keen reader…and when she isn’t writing (or working), she has her head stuck in a book.

You can catch up with her on GoodreadsFacebook and Twitter.

Jane Jago’s Daily Drabble – One Hundred and Four

It was a cup of hot chocolate. Granted there were marshmallows, but it was still only a cup of chocolate.

Two chunky ladies sat at a high top eying the cup as it came towards them.

“Only one? We ordered two…”

“It’s for table five.” The waitress said. “You ordered diet choc. That don’t come with marshmallows.”

The bigger of the two women reached out and deliberately jogged the tray, at which the solitary occupant of table five kicked her.

The fight was epic.

A rough sleeper slithered into the cafe, grabbed the disputed treat and ran for his life.

©️jj 2018

Coffee Break Read – Winter

Winter was the bejewelling of Temsevar, its crystalline magnificence turning even the most sordid and mean peasant’s wooden hovel into a glittering palace of diamond. The snows softened the harshness, smoothing all into a glorious billowed largesse of white. From every branch and twig, every roof and casement, every eave and doorway, came the glitter of silver icicles, their growth arrested every night and scarcely allowed under the scant warmth of the red sun each narrow day.

Every ugliness was made mild by the glory of a shimmering white crown, every roughness made smooth and the uneven made plain. The winter was levelling, but it levelled in a way that paid vast tribute to the might of the elements. Rich and poor alike were equal before the onslaught, for both could share in the splendour which outshone the most regal opulence of the greatest noble. To watch the sunrise, blood red over the virgin white and silver landscape, washing it with a mystical ruby glow, was to be awed and left with wonder. To trace the pearlescent shimmer of the twin moons over the snow, where the whiteness caught and reflected back to the darkened sky the moist brilliance, until even the night might seem to dazzle, was to feel one had walked, waking, in a dreamscape or broken through to some celestial realm of deity.

But the beauty, if free, was also lethal. The cold wore down the resistance of the weak and made them prey to illness or starvation and the frozen ground would not open to bury the dead, who were burned in high pyres on the ice, in batches like cakes.

Here the rich and the poor parted company, for the wealthy had portals against death in the cold. They had piles of wood to burn, stores of bottled, dried and salted food, they had flour to bake with and flesh to cook. Not for them the privations of starvation in the snow-stricken land. A house could be counted wealthy by the fire that burned in its hearth, driving back the demons of cold and darkness. Even the meanest hovel that could light a fire all day was accounted rich when the chilling shroud of snow and ice descended.

It was in the winter that those who were free-born and poverty-stricken would envy the enslaved. For, worth money and offering labour, even the most meanly treated slave could expect to be kept warm and fed through the White Moons, where their free-born cousins could hope no more than that this winter might be light and their meagre stores of food and fuel might not be gone before the thaw. What value was freedom when the cost was one’s life or the lives of one’s children?

So winter was the glory of Temsevar and its greatest influence. Without it, perhaps the slave economy might have evolved and changed, but with it – and the utter dependence it brought of the weak upon the strong – the frozen arms of ice which embraced Temsevar for two-thirds of the year, also embraced the culture and values of its people, freezing them into patterns as cold and merciless as the brutal winter itself.

The ice cracked the marrow from the bone of the planet, riving rock and stripping life from the land, animal and vegetable. The rivers froze solid and the seas slowed as if sleeping and then surrendered to the embrace of ice. Only the hardiest in nature could survive and most of the larger animals only lived by entering the deep sleep of hibernation through the worst of the cold moons. You would not see tizarts playing in the snow or find therloons leaving ice-tracks under the twin moons.

Most people dreaded the onset of winter as much as they dreaded the onset of old age. For the annual revisiting of the Great White was a similar experience – the pace of life became slow and painful, cold and bleak. In the great Halls, poets would pass the wine, mulled with the herbs and berries of the autumn and sing with lysigal of the great deeds that had been done that summer and would be contemplated the next. But elsewhere, it was as though the planet slept and its people dreamed beneath the alluring counterpane of snow, fringed with its tassels of ice and embroidered with frost.

From Dues of Blood, the third book in Transgressor Trilogy by E.M. Swift-Hook.

 

Jane Jago’s Daily Drabble – One Hundred and Three

The Daimler ground up our rutted mountain track like a racehorse pulling a plough.

Father put down his axe and motioned us to his side.

As the car bounced to a halt, Mother wheeled herself out onto the wide planks of the balcony.

A woman threw herself from the back seat of the car.

“Clara,” she cried. “Clara my baby. It’s Mama.”

Mother lifted a thin shoulder.

“Go away.”

Then she took herself indoors.

The woman stood irresolute for a moment before slamming her way back into the vehicle.

Eleanor looked at Father.

“Who was that?”

He smiled grimly. “Nobody.”

©️jj 2018

Mrs Jago’s Handy Guide to the Meaning Behind Typographical Errors: Part VII

.... or 'How To Speak Typo' by Jane Jago

arspittle (noun) – where premiership footballers go to get their metatarsals fixed

brosom (adjective) – the unyielding and motionless quality of silicone breast implants

chuklit (noun) – disposable books of dubious literary merit usually featuring headless torsos on the covers

coffy (adjective) – needing to clear the throat by means if the application of hot caffeine 

concensus (noun) –  believing that all statistics are lies

eht (noun) – small insect that enters typing fingers and causes error

hink (verb) – the action of scratching the genitalia (to be accurate most usually the scrotum) whilst searching for inspiration

huffler (noun) – one who precedes every remark with a loud harrumph

ratehr (noun) – rodent in line to  inherit

sepnsive (adjective) – given to looking into the middle distance and sighing 

shoul (noun)  – knitted garment worn by those unable to take decisions

steert (verb) – the way a drunk walks along a road

suasgae (noun)  – Celtic dance performed over two crossed bratwurst

vanaship (noun) – motorised caravan with amphibious capabilities

wrte (past participle of the verb to wrt) – having written a page to edit it down to half a paragraph and three obscene references

Disclaimer: all these words are genuine typos defined by Jane Jago. The source of each is withheld to protect the guilty.

Jane Jago’s Daily Drabble – One Hundred and Two

He looked down his patrician nose at her, and she flipped him a very rude gesture.

“Young lady,” he said portentously, “that is not the way to gain admission.”

The raddled-looking woman laughed.

“Kiddo,” she replied, in a voice rendered harsh by cigarettes and bourbon, “I ain’t even sure I want in.”

His perfect lips curled in disbelief. “Of course you ‘want in’. Everybody wants in.”

She shrugged. “Gimme two good reasons why I should…”

The gatekeeper’s chin sagged, and he goggled as she turned and sauntered away from the Pearly Gates. 

Saint Peter stared at her retreating back…

©️jj 2018

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