Friday, December 28, 2012

Past Favorite (Jenn)

All of the ladies of Fiction Femme Fatale know how to bring it. And I am much honored to be in their (online) presence. While it was tough to choose one to post, but FUN re-reading the past pieces, I have to say Krystalyn's story "The Scent of Water" hit me. Amy, Stefanie, and Krystalyn know their way with words and can build a world like no other leaving me inspired and excited about each post they create and their larger works. So, for me, it was a toss up between Krystalyn's fast-paced "Water" and her beautiful and emotionally raw story "Raw." Krystalyn's last lines hit you in the face and her prose lingers well after you've read it.

I hope you enjoy her, and Amy and Stefanie's, stories as much as I do.


I pump my legs, darting between the shattered houses and burnt human remains. The stench brings bile into my throat, but I can't stop to get sick when I know he's only a block away, scenting me. Even with his broad eyeless forehead and the large slits that serve as his nose, he looks more like a child than a Martian. But damn, he's fast.

I'm smarter though. It's what's kept me alive for the past six weeks.

The day they came, I was taking a history test, answering a question about Henry XIII. First, came the shrieking sound which made us all drop our pencils and run to the window. Just like in the movies, the clouds parted and hundreds of metallic disks appeared in the sky. Then came the explosions, followed by car alarms and emergency sirens and ringing in my ears that made me think I was going deaf.

Some of the kids started screaming. Some ducked under their desks as if a layer of particle board would keep them safe. I held my breath and wondered if I was going to die with my fingers in my ears and the names of Henry XIII's wives written on my hand.

The strikes, a cross between a lightning bolt and a laser beam, came in rapid succession from the center of the disks. I watched silently, wondering where the strikes were hitting, thinking surely, my home and my family was safe. But when the row of houses across the street was vaporized, I bolted from the room. No one stopped me.

I was one of six kids that found refuge in the girls' locker room. The earth shook for two days, but the walls stayed upright, and once the explosions stopped, we took a few tentative steps outside the locker room. Half the school was rubble, but at least the six of us were still alive. A week later, it was just me.

I weave my way through mountains of concrete and pipes and wires, and run straight into a fallen oak. There is no way around it, so I push myself over it. The alien is only a block behind me when my shirt catches on a branch. I curse loudly while I tug on the fabric. The branch snaps free, and as I tumble down into the grass, it impales itself in my gut, sharp as a dagger. Blood gushes and I howl in pain.

Injuries drove us out of the school, but it was my fault for suggesting it. Michael needed his insulin and Sammy had a broken arm. With both the cafeteria and nurse's office obliterated, I suggested we search for a hospital, not knowing if any still existed. No one argued.

The town greeted us with eerie silence. No people and no hospital. The metallic disks weren't visible, but my skin itched, telling me they were there, lurking behind the clouds.

We split up to scavenge what we could from the few remaining buildings, then meet back up at the school. Michael, Sammy, and I headed towards the grocery store, while Brooke and the others went to the Walmart. I never found out what happened to Brooke's group, but I do know what happened in the Winn Dixie parking lot.

The attack came from the left, a dozen little creatures appearing from beneath the abandoned cars, their faces held high in the air, nose slits opening and closing. Sniffing.

“Run!” Michael shouted.

The nose slits on one of the creatures opened into wide circles. It started shrieking, and the others joined in.

As we ran, lightening strikes dropped around us in rapid fire. Michael was ahead of me, and when he tripped, I veered toward him to help him back to his feet. As I reached out my head, the blast knocked me onto my back. My head flopped to the side just in time to watch his body explode into a thousand pieces.

Sammy had fallen behind us. The shrill alien's voice sounded right above me. The hair on my arms stood on end, and I knew the next strike was coming for me.

“Not today,” I promised myself. I flipped onto my hands and knees and took off at a dead run.

I lost Sammy somewhere in the maze of debris, but the aliens were still trailing me when I reached the river. With resignation in my bones, I dove in, clothes and all. They'd taken everyone else, my friends, my family. I'd be damned before I let them get me too. I wrapped my arms around my legs, blew out my breath, and sunk to the bottom.

And they didn't get me. They sniffed and searched, and when they were unable to find my scent, they gave up.

I set up camp near the river, not understanding how the whole water thing worked, and not caring. Maybe I should have cared more. Maybe I should have stayed closer to the river when searching for food.

I yank the branch out of my stomach and roll over onto my hands and knees. Yellow splotches pop in front of my eyes. In between them, I can see the community pool. It's less than ten feet away. I start to crawl.

Eight feet... Six feet... Three...

I hear him scrabble over the tree just as I drop into the pool. My stomach flares with pain. I let out too much air, but I stay submerged, looking up through the water. He's there, sniffing. Always sniffing.

A thick trail of blood floats to the surface.

He moves his nose to the pool's edge where my blood is smeared. His finger reaches out, groping until he touches the slick red stain.

I clutch my hand to my stomach, but it's stopped hurting, and I know that's very bad.

He sniffs his finger, then the cloudy red water.

My body shakes. My vision narrows.

He tilts his head to the sky. His nostrils flare open. The shrieking starts.

I want to pulverize the little bugger and silence him permanently, but what does it matter? More will come. It's too late anyway. I can sense the clouds parting above me, the ships preparing to fire. I am never getting out of this pool alive.

But neither is he.

Summoning my last bit of strength, I thrust my arm out of the water and yank his tiny body in with me.

And wait for the strike to come.
Story by Krystalyn
Photo by Bradley Mason

Friday, December 21, 2012

Amy's Pick

Today I have the distinct pleasure of choosing my favorite story written for this blog by Jennifer Baker. Jennifer is our newest member of the Fiction Femme Fatales and so there aren't as many stories to choose from, but even so it was hard to pick just one favorite. What I love about Jennifer's work on this blog is how she manages to inject a healthy does of hope and light into every story that she creates. I finally settled on the story below because it showed people pulling together in a crisis and after Super Storm Sandy. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I do.


The Story

This is a story with a happy ending.

It’s a story about a city on the brink, about a family waiting, watching the television screen and listening to talking heads spout warnings. It’s a tale of a family that lived in a split level house that, at the moment, looked as though it would actually split. It’s a countdown to a heavy storm, swirling faster and faster, winds increasing, branches tapping then smacking at windows, the noise increasing until the children being crushed in their mother’s arms wait for the bark to break through. It’s a father peeking through windows and murmuring assurances that they’ll be alright while hiding the tremble of his hands by gripping the curtain until his fingers pierce through the fabric.

This is what is happening to a once affluent family gone broke due to circumstances and brashness and pride. It’s the instance of a fifteen-year-old girl searching around the dankness of her home and is, for once, glad the poshness she was raised into is gone. A slight relief that the chandelier she used to dance under will not crash onto her family and instead the worst is a flickering lamp bookending the couch she and her siblings are huddled on.

This is the account of a sky that went from crystal to magenta to slate. A report of a storm bringing with it hail and torrents smacking water until it laps into the homes of everyone in town, seeping in under welcome mats and shoes discarded near doors in rushes and fits of cleanliness. Water that is not warm but cold enough to chill one to the bone and will cause a flicker before taking all the electricity out.

This is the revelation of the bravery of a ten-year-old boy who, seeing the rising water reach his front porch rushes tugging at his older sister who still daydreams of what was to help him to the electrical outlet. The running of sister and brother to the kitchen, sister holding a step ladder for the brother as he quickly cuts off the lights leaving his family in darkness just as the water trickles in.

This is the tale of running, seven pairs of feet smacking against wet and wood making it to the second floor of their home as water rises and does not stop. It’s the rush of bodies through doors before they are slammed and towels and sheets stuffed into crevices to slacken the flow.

This is the moment when mother and father having held onto so much anger cannot remember what they were so worried about when things are not what matter, the people around them are.

This is the reality of a family coming together for the first time since they moved from one district to another. This is the vision of a five-year-old girl looking out the window to roads no longer but a vast marsh with rooftops poking out from the brownish water. Of a girl muffling a scream and her older sister humming the music to The Nutcracker in her ear, forgetting when the last time was she danced to it.

This is the turmoil of feet on a bed as water soaks rugs and mattresses, shoes and socks, ankles then hips. Of children being told to stand on windowsills and parents making a shield to make sure they stay put.

This is a story where a family gasps taking in H2O along with lots of O, yet in the distance hear a buzzsaw sound, water being parted. From hundreds of feet away they see a motorboat slice through the dirty wet field covering the ground.

This is the story of a family that clasps hands under water and keeps each other up with force and sheer will because help is on the way.

Photo by Phoebe Rudomino (Thanks!)
Story by Jenn Baker 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Past Favorites by Stefanie

Heeeeeey guys! I've been a little AWOL on this blog lately and I apologize! I'm BACK though! I'm getting a little sentimental today, so beware.

 I was SO excited when Amy first asked Krystalyn and I if we wanted to start a short story blog with her. I'd always wanted to do something like this and I couldn't have chosen a better two (then THREE!) people to partner with. I am so lucky to know these three amazing writers, and I am very grateful to have them! I'm not sharing, so don't ask! :-)

Ok, sentimental moment over. Go ahead and wipe your tears because you need clear eyes to read my favorite story.

I'll wait.

Are you good? GREAT!

It was very hard for me to choose my favorite story of the year since, you know, Jenn, Amy, and Krystalyn are all fantastic writers. But since I DID have to choose, I'm taking it back to the beginning, to our very first month here.

I remember reading Amy's first story and thinking, "DANG IT. Girl can write a short story!" I am still sort of new to short story writing (which is why I was so excited about this blog), but Amy's got this thing down pat. (I'm crossing my fingers for a horror novel by her someday, because she can do creepy for sure! *hint hint*)

So here it is, my favorite story of the year!



Rebecca felt decidedly wicked that morning. She’d never broken any of the elder’s rules—at least not the big ones—and yet today she was planning on disobeying the most important one. Behind her, the village was still asleep, the main square deserted and quiet. She ran through the wet grass in her bare feet, her nightgown trailing out behind her white as the morning mist still blanketing the ground. She hurried to the large wall separating the village from the forbidden woods beyond and carefully scaled it under the cover of the large oak tree so that the town watchmen wouldn’t spot her.

No one had been in these woods since the elders constructed the wall a hundred years before. There was a reason it was forbidden and yet no one seemed entirely certain what it was anymore. The only thing they did recall was that a large lake sat at its center. Unlike the well water within the village, this water was out in the open, under the sky and sun, reflecting it all back as clearly as a mirror—grounds enough to avoid it. Seeing your reflection was strictly forbidden. The elders were convinced that if you looked at yourself in any reflected surface you might fall prey to vanity which would lead to any number of other sins. Vanity was the first foothold for evil and evil could ultimately destroy them all.

But the elder’s warnings had been repeated so long and so often, that Rebecca couldn’t muster the same fear that she’d once felt. Especially not now that Thomas had started calling on her, staring at her with his gray-green eyes, always filled with equal parts amusement and desire. He’d declared his interest in her the minute she’d turned sixteen—much to everyone else’s amazement. He was the handsomest boy in the village and she was most definitely not his equal—or so the other girls said. She had no idea since she’d never actually seen her own face. Now she needed to. She had to know if what the girls said was true. She had to see what it was that he saw in her. How could she trust his affections otherwise?

She found the lake without really searching, almost as if some part of her knew exactly where to go. When she burst through the trees along its banks, the birds gathered there lifted off all at once, scattering across the sky. They chattered what sounded like a reproach or a warning. Fear pushed its way into her gut and settled there, but she’d come too far to turn tail now.

Once the birds were gone, the world went quiet. She stared at the lake. The water was strangely transparent in the early morning light. Towards the middle you could see all the way to the bottom. Blanketing the lake bed were hundreds of mirrors, glinting like giant fish scales. She’d never actually seen one before, at least not outside the pictures in her old fairytale book. They must be the ones that the elders took out of the village when her great grandparents were young. They were still intact and amazingly free of algae. They were beautiful.

Her stomach tightened. She should go. This whole trip was foolish. No good could come of it, she thought. Still, her feet inched forward. Almost without meaning to, she stooped down and plucked the mirror closest to her from the water.

It was round and notched along the edges like a giant coin. She carried it over to the trees, carefully holding the reflective part away from her body, and gently set it against one of the tree trunks. She could see her feet, caked with mud and grass, pale as bone in the mirror. She wiggled her toes. Her reflection did the same. She crouched down, settling onto her knees beside it. Her eyes traveled towards its center and the face staring back at her. She’d always known that she had blond hair. She could see it in her peripheral vision, but she didn’t recognize the thin nosed girl staring back at her with eyes narrowed slightly at the corners and cheeks peppered with tiny freckles. Her lips were full and pink. She was pretty, as pretty as the girls who’d said she was nothing special. She smiled at her reflection and it smiled back at her. She brought one hand up and lightly touched her fingers to the glass. Was this really what she looked like?

                The moment that her fingers made contact with the glass, the mirror began to undulate, sucking her fingers into itself before she had time to react and pull back. She was caught in it as surely as if her fingers had been set in cement. The glass surged forward, liquid now and glistening, swallowing her hand and the rest of her arm as if it were a snake. She could feel her bones breaking as the glass crept past her shoulder and worked its way around her neck. She opened her mouth to scream, but it covered her head before she could make a sound. Then her body pitched forward and Alice-like, fell into the mirror. The glass rippled violently a few times and the mirror threatened to topple over before it finally settled and grew still.

                Several minutes passed before a pair of ghost-white hands emerged from inside the mirror and gripped its outer edges. They were followed by the rest of Rebecca’s body, exactly as it was before—except for the creature now residing inside her skin.

                That evening, when Thomas came to call, she took him out to the village wall, leaned up on tiptoe and kissed him—their first. Thomas had time to wonder why her mouth tasted of dirt and metal, but he was quickly distracted when she climbed the wall and dropped over it.

 “Come on, I need to show you something special,” she said.

And after a moment’s hesitation he did.

Story By: Amy

Photo By: Ksenia Klykova

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

It's the Possible End of the World!

It's the possible end of the world and we have exciting news!

 One of our own femme fatales, Amy Christine Parker, will reveal the cover of her upcoming book on December 21, 2012.

That's right, the Mayan's last recorded calendar day.

And you wanna know what's supremely perfect about this?

Amy's book is about an apocalyptic cult!!!

She couldn't have picked a more perfect day for her cover reveal if she tried (which she didn't, oddly enough, the date choice was purely chance, no one realized the significance of it until later--can you say weird and creepy and meant to be?).

You can get her take on things on her blog and we've put all the other pertinent information right here for you. You don't want to miss this cover. Amy LOVES it and we just know that we will too. So, assuming you're still here next Friday, go check out her shiny, new cover at ICEYBOOKS! She's planning a very cool giveaway you won't want to miss!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Past Favorites by Krystalyn

This month, we are taking time off to shop, catch up on work, and spend time with our families. But don't worry, we're not leaving you empty handed. We are each posting our favorite stories from this past year. My choice is Revelation by Stefanie. I love the images in this one as well as the journey the MC takes in such a short amount of words.

by Stefanie Jones

Just before I lost it all, the world turned to ice. I stare out at the lake that used to wrap around my bare ankles as the scalding sunshine freckled my shoulders. Now it just looks like a healing scar—like God dug his fingernails into the earth and ripped out a chunk that he was no longer proud of. I’m not even sure I believe in God in anymore.

“Syler?” my brother Fleet calls. His voice gets half-lost in a gust of wind that pierces my body like an explosion of glass shards. I pull my outer-most hood closer to my face and try to contain the shudders that are ripping through me. Even through nine layers of clothing, the air is so cold that it feels solid—a wall of icy crystals that are freezing me cell by cell.

“Syler!” Fleet calls again, this time more frantically.“Syler, what in bleeding Christ’s name are you doing out here?!”

I’m not sure if hebelieves in God anymore, either. Before the ice, Fleet would rather swallow a needle than take God’s name in vain. I’ve wanted to bring up his change in demeanor, but we don’t talk about things like that, my brother and I.

A thickly gloved hand wraps around my own and I’m yanked away from the scar-lake.

“What is wrong with you?” Fleet hisses as he slams the door of our tiny house behind me. Heat fills my mouth as I open it to answer him, but the warmth feels so nice that I get distracted and stand there with my jaw hanging open like I’m surprised.

Fleet shakes his head and tightly presses the mounds of blankets back around the cracks of the frozen door.

“I leave you for two seconds and I come back to find you trying to commit suicide. You want to leave me here alone? You want me to have to… To have to…”

He drops his head and lets his hair fall in front of his dark eyes. I know he’s trying to hide his grief over the loss of our parents, and I don’t know why.

“You don’t have to be strong all the time, you know,” I whisper. I reach out a mittened hand and wipe the hair away from his face.

“Obviously I do,” he says, flinching away from my touch. His voice is almost as harsh as the cold.

I turn away from him and start peeling off some of my layers of clothing. I leave on my sweater, jeans, long johns, one pair of gloves, a fleece jacket, and a sock hat that covers my ears. Not to mention the four pairs of socks I have on under my snow boots. It felt warm when I first came inside, but now that my body is starting to thaw, I can feel the slow sting of the cold air wafting down through the chimney. A fire still burns in the fireplace, but it won’t last for much longer.

What were you doing outside, Syler?” Fleet asks again.

“We’ve burned almost everything we have, and I was seeing if I could stand the cold long enough to run to the neighbor’s house and scavenge for wood. Or more books, or something.”

He sucks in a sharp breath. I know he was hoping that somehow I wouldn’t notice that he burned all my books last night, but I’m not an idiot. It’s okay. I’d rather livethan read, I guess…

My gaze shoots to corner shelf in the dining room where our mom kept her well-worn Bible. She used to read it every night before bed. I remember watching her finger the pages as she read, like she could rub all her worries and troubles into the scripture.

It’s still there.

A wave of relief goes through me and I briefly wonder if it’s because it’s the last remaining possession of my mother’s, or if I’m glad that I can still read it if I decide that I still believe in God.

“How long?” he says softly, like he doesn’t really want to know the answer.

“Seven seconds. Though I lost count when you called my name, so maybe a few seconds longer.”

“We can’t risk it, Syler. I won’t let you risk it.”

“But I’m fast! I can get in and out in less than a minute, I promise!”

“NO,” he says firmly. “I’ll figure something out. But you are not going back outside.”

I cross my arms and sink down in the corner near the fireplace, where my pallet is made. We burned the couch last week, and our beds the week before that. I can’t even imagine how cold it actually is outside since our thermometer burst after the first ice storm. Fleet settles down into his own pallet and throws the last little pile of books onto the fire. The flames lick around the paper spines like an animal that’s just been fed after weeks of starvation, but it only lasts for a few seconds. Paper burns too fast.

Since the ice came, the inside of my house is all I’ve seen of the world. I lied to Fleet when I told him I was trying to figure a way to get into our neighbor’s house—whose chimney smoke died out a week ago; I am certainly not ready to face what is waiting in there.

I really just wanted one last glimpse of what was left of our dead world.

I stand up from my pile of blankets and pad over to the dining room corner shelf. When Fleet realizes what I’ve grabbed, he shakes his head vehemently. But I walk past him, past the dying fire, and wiggle down into my blankets.

I don’t know if I believe in God anymore, but what do I have left but my brother and this Bible? I open to the very last page and rub my fingers into the red and black words, like maybe my worries and fears will leak from my body and transport themselves into the scripture, as the ice begins to crust around the edges of the fireplace.

Fleet joins me in my nest of blankets, covering us both with his blankets as well, and we read until we can’t keep our eyes open any longer.


Story by: Stefanie
Photo by: Octagon