Tag Archives: supernatural

Saturday Shorts: Country Roads

Country Roads

Even with the heater going full blast, Susan could barely feel her fingers for the cold. Her thick mittens did little to take the bone deep chill of the truck cabin away. The snow fell thickly outside, reflecting the headlights of the truck in odd ways, making the road more treacherous than it already was, the wipers working furiously. The snow danced like ghosts across the stretch of abandoned back road.

Susan hated early mornings, when the sun was still hours away from rising, and absolutely loathed the cold. Despite these certainties, she loved the snow, as it was beautiful in its own way. It was part of the reason she had stayed in North Dakota, despite her hatred of winter. The other reason she had stayed for so many years was why she was up at such an ungodly hour in the first place, driving when it was likely that every weather and news station in the county was advising against even going out your front door.

The trailer she was towing behind the truck pulled along, following in the ruts created by the full ton trucks winter tires. For all Susan knew, she wasn’t even driving on the actual road, since the only markers that made the stretch a road in this weather was her ingrained memory from having come this way countless times before. Hell, she almost missed the turn off indicator as she came up to it, though in reality it was not an official demarcation of destination, just an old oak tree, branches now heavy with snow, the indicated she had reached her turn. With a hard jerk on the wheel, she managed to make the cut, the chains on her tires gripping the snow and the gravel below it to keep her from sliding; the trailer bounces along behind. In this storm, the tree was her only indication that she was at the pasture. The snow was so uniformly white and even that it was all muscle memory and reflex at this point, keeping her calm and steady behind the wheel.

Another five minutes of steady travel into the pasture, and she was actually beginning to be able to feel her fingers, though it could just as easily been the beginnings of frostbite, as she had had a brush or two with that in the past. It would have been glorious to be able to sit in the cabin of the truck, as the warmth began to slowly leach away the battering cold, but she was at her destination and there was no time to dawdle. She was not the only thing that was likely feeling cold, as it was  ‘ not fit for man nor beast out there’, as her dad had been want to say when he was alive.

With a deft twist, Susan cut the lights on the truck, and shifted to neutral, letting the truck and trailer roll forward to a slow and steady stop. Reaching up, she made sure her knit cap was pulled down tight over her ears, meeting the edge of the heavy scarf she had wound round and round her neck. Quickly, as if she were removing a band-aid, she threw the truck door open and jumped down, trudging through the near knee-high snow towards the back of the trailer. From inside, these was the distinctive sound of hooves on metal, and puffs of steam rose from the small ventilation windows. The bleating of a handful or tired and upset sheep echoed off the bare trailer walls, as the flock made its protest known. The smell of wet wool and lanolin was just strong enough to cut over the cold and crisp air of the storm, which numbed the nose almost to the point of being useless.

Susan could hardly blame the sheep for being disagreeable, their foul mood was something she could relate to, given the circumstances. Being pulled from warm stocks at herded into a semi warm trailer at 3;00 AM would have that effect on anyone, though some would be able to protest in much more horrendous fashions. Susan lowered her scarf ever so slightly and let loose two short, shrill whistles that cut over the wind, and the sheep settled somewhat in the trailer, letting out a few soft baa’s as back talk.

Despite the thickness of her gloves, the little bit of warmth she had begun to feel was already bleeding away, so Susan made quick work of removing the dual lock and pins that held the back ramp in place. The ramp sank down into the snow, not resting fully level, but angling enough that it would be a short transition of trailer to ground for her charges. The latch that held the rolling door secure was a little bit more tricky, especially as the snow continued to fall and quickly cover every surface it could, but years of repetition made quick work of the obstacle. As the door rolled up the sheep, who had been huddled together near the back of the trailer, began moving forward toward the ramp, more out of habit than from any command, given that this was not their first time being transported. Susan moved away from the back of the trailer, the sheep descending the ramp into the snow one after the other in some bizarre game of follow the leader. Once the last of the flock, seven in total, had founds its way down the ramp and did not look like it would be retreating back into the trailer, Susan made quick work of closing the rolling door and locking the ramp back up, before she slowly worked her way back to the open door of the cabin, making sure none of the sheep tried to follow her. They stayed where the were, huddling together in the snow-covered field, their wool blending in with the snow while their black faces stood in stark contrast, even in the relative darkness.

Putting one foot back into the cabin and hoisting herself up with the door, Susan let loose another shrill series of whistles, which set the sheep into a nervous stomping. Taking a deep breath, the cold cutting her lungs like knives, she raised her voice over the storm, shouting into the darkness;

“Come out and get them, they’re all yours!”

With a quick pull and a dive across the seats, her  head down with her arms over it, Susan slammed the door behind her, just as the whoosh of something larger and heavier than a jet engine overtook the pasture, hidden by the snow. Susan did not dare look up, did not dare even breath, until there was nothing left but silence.

-Megan

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Poetry Tuesday: March 21st

As yet untitled. This is a variation on a theme, perhaps influences from reading a lot of paranormal fiction, and just maybe a touch of manga. The idea of the separation between life and death, between the known and the unknown, between normal and paranormal, natural and supernatural.

Untitled: Variation of Regret and Memory

Staggering the pyramid of broken promises,

Reshaping the dreams of previous lives,

like sand.

They slip between the sleeping and the waking realms,

Unsure if they even ever existed.

Dashed hopes cast off upon a mountain of regret,

Good intentions spoiled for the sake of one more moment,

Caught in that perfect imagining,

The fades as mist after dawn.

From the shore they watch the world,

Sorrow wailing, and they pine

For what they can no longer reach.

Curled fingers of desire and longing come up empty in their desperate bid,

To leech another moment of warmth from their remembered scenes of life.

Caught in a state between one moment and the next,

Skirting on the edge of memories of those still drawing breath.

Slowly, with each longing sigh,

They draw others from that shore to them,

Claiming them to repeat the past one more.

-Megan

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Read it; Watch it; Listen to it: Recommendations from the Darkness

So, I’m in the final leg of thesis work on my MA, working on last revisions and all that rigmarole. However, I do have some recommendations for those out there looking for something to watch, read, or listen to that they might had missed the first time around. Nothing ground breaking, but these are some of the series and songs that I have been really taken in by lately. Now, some of these are available on Netflix or iTunes, others require a bit of creativity to get, and yet others you will have to purchase, because that’s what the artistic teams and artists deserve. Check it out, and if there is something that had really caught your attention or imagination in the past while that you think needs more attention, leave a comment.

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Arriving in the middle

This next bit comes from an urban-fantasy idea. I know, I know. Urban-fantasy is the nouveau pulp, made popular by a few skilled authors (I nod to Butcher, Briggs, and Hearne here), and butchered by the hands of dozens who want to jump on the band-wagon (more times than I care to count have I picked up an interesting book, only to want to kill myself by the third chapter due to the lack of skill spilled over the pages). There is little context prior to this scene, save that there is a mounting tension; the current local pack alpha (yes, werewolves. I know, right?) is a bit lax about territorial boundaries, and our heroine (at this point, really not quite a heroine, more of an adopted run-away) is about to have a very uncomfortable re-connection with her past, which will throw the current heretical structure into a horrible battle for dominance. Ineffectual leaders who do not take the security of their territory as paramountly important will find that overlooked beta members are not as heel-licking as they seem. I know exactly where this one is going in my head, it is mapped out down to the conclusion, even as far as an epilogue.

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Of Monsters and Beasts: Review of Frost Burned by Patricia Briggs (Spoiler Free)

Frost Burned (Mercy Thompson #7)

Author: Patricia Briggs

Frost Burned by Patricia Briggs, 2013 Ace Fantasy

Frost Burned by Patricia Briggs, 2013 Ace Fantasy

Publisher: Ace Fantasy

Year: 2013

Pages: 340

Rating: 5 out of 5

Forward: This is the 7th entry is a series. If you have not read the others and don’t wish to have any sort of up-to-this-point spoilers, I am going to lay this out for you right now: If you like Urban fantasy, want to read an engaging and well written series, start with Moon Called, the first entry under the Mercy Thompson books. You will enjoy it, I guarantee.

Book Cover Summary: Mercy’s life has undergone a seismic change. Becoming the mate of Adam Hauptman – the charismatic Alpha of the local werewolf pack – has made her a stepmother to his daughter, Jesse, a relationship that brings moments of blissful normalcy to Mercy’s life. But on the edges of humanity, what passes for a minor mishap on an ordinary day can turn into so much more . . .

After a car accident in bumper-to-bumper traffic, Mercy and Jesse can’t reach Adam – or anyone else in the pack, for that matter. They’ve all been abducted.

Through their mating bond, all Mercy knows is that Adam is angry and in pain. But she fears Adam’s disappearance may be related to the political battle the werewolves have been fighting to gain acceptance from the public – and that he and the pack are in serious danger. Outmatched and on her own Mercy may be forced to seek assistance from any ally she can get, no matter how unlikely.

REVIEW

Mercy Thompson, our wise cracking bad-lucked heroine, comes through in yet another instalment of Briggs’ widely liked series. The reader is re-acquainted with old friends, and enemies, and exposed to a whole new set of problems which further complicate her usually bumpy life. The daughter of Coyote is always finding herself in one sticky situation or another, and yet each time it seems fresh and beckons the reader to keep turning the pages, even into the wee hours of the morning.

Briggs’ provides equal measure between all four worlds she includes, meaning that the Fae, werewolves, vampires, and even the odd human fall into the tangled web. Brigg’s masterful way of working together first person insight and external characters is brought to the forefront, and she does not skip a beat of action, emotion, or darkness. As with the latest entry in the Alpha and Omega series, Fair Game, Briggs’ has added a darker twist to the story she presents her readers, looking not only at the preternatural dangers, but placing more weight on the danger posed by the ordinary mortal humans. Could this be a new spin, a new direction, that she is going to pursue? A solidarity between those things which go bump in the night, which enabled them to combat the humans, who are less able than the supernatural beasts when it comes to hiding their monstrous nature? Where do the real monsters dwell , among those who have no choice and do what they can to keep their animal natures under control, readily admitting to their faults, or in those who hide it behind a thin mask of civility and grotesque mockeries of humanity, unwilling to accept the mantel of responsibility for their actions?

This story picks up shortly after the events which unfolded in Fair Game, and I think it is a marvellous addition to the existing Mercy tales. It serves as a return to the concerns raised in the first Mercy novel, Moon Called, while still carrying the momentum which has built through the series, driving it to pursue a deeper development on the tenuous line between what it means to be a monster and what it means to be part of society.  Her attention to political and social upheaval, and the alienation of others based solely on the concept of ‘other’, sheds a poignant comment on the way in which modern society divides itself.

Once again, I simply could not seem to put this one down until I had completely finished reading it. I have come to expect a great deal from Patricia Briggs when it comes to style and quality of writing, and she once again delivers what she promises. The connection to the characters we have come to know is deepened with each encounter, and new understandings begin to emerge when old friends and enemies are re-examined. I have had some people tell me that they have problems with the repetitive ‘kidnapping’, yet each time it has come up (which I will admit is a few) it has not hindered the progress, but rather displayed that the affected characters have grown, and how their past experiences have shaped them. Writers would not return to tropes if it did not serve a purpose, and readers would not continue to follow if they felt that nothing was gained by the return. This is by no means a series wherein the reader is constantly forced to read the tried-and-true ‘damsel in distress’ tale; Briggs does not present the reader with any damsels, her characters are all strong in their own ways, which makes it highly pleasing to read. If anything, the return to the kidnapping theme reflects how the non-preternatual (perhaps a better term would be ‘mundane’) community has grown to become set in its ways for handling all things which it does not understand, or actively refuses to understand.

Without a doubt I can say that I will continue to read the Mercy Thompson series as long as Briggs is able to publish them, provided that her ability to craft characters, relationships, and interesting fantastical elements remains as elevated as it has. In all honest, I always find something new which intrigues me; a small detail about the Fae, the attention to the hierarchy among the vampires and the werewolves, and I am wound right back into a state of wonder at her ability to convey so much in such a short span of pages. Of all the names in urban fantasy, I know that if I am looking to truly enjoy a book filled with interesting character and well written story I will look to Briggs.

Patricia Briggs Official Website

Moon Called (Mercy Thompson #1)

Blood Bound (Mercy Thompson #2)

Iron Kissed (Mercy Thompson #3)

Bone Crossed (Mercy Thompson #4)

Silver Borne (Mercy Thompson #5)

River Marked (Mercy Thompson #6)

Frost Burned (Mercy Thompson #7)

Home Coming (Mercy Thompson Graphic novel)

Moon Called #1 (Trade Paperback graphic novel edition)

Moon Called #2 (Trade Paperback graphic novel edition)

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