Monthly Archives: June 2015

FREE Fantasy Story: DEMON DAZE – part 4

Dani Erickson’s story, DEMON DAZE, continues in this 4th of six installments.  I hope you enjoy Dani’s continuing adventure and I look forward to your comments.

Demon Daze
DEMON DAZE

by Deb Logan

 Seventh-Seventh

THE NEXT MORNING I hitched a ride downtown with Jamie. That sounds a lot more exciting than it was. Downtown Longmont was a nicely renovated street of Mom and Pop stores, but most of the action was on the west edge of town at the mall. However, the piece of paper Warwick James had slipped me the day before specified a Main Street address, so that’s where I headed.

“Are you sure you’re all right?” Jamie asked for about the forty-fourth time. “Maybe I should stay with you.”

“Jamie, please. Do you think Mom would’ve let me out of the house if there was anything to worry about?” That stopped him. Mom was one of those old-fashioned women whose career was home and family. Nothing slipped past her where her children were concerned.

“Okay. You win. I’ll pick you up in front of Perks A Plenty at noon. Don’t be late.”

I slammed the car door, leaned back in the open window, and blew him a kiss. “Not to worry. I’ll be there.”

He shook his head, waved me off the car, and pulled away from the curb.

I glanced at the slip of paper and strode south down the wide sidewalk. The address was about a block south of the renovated portion of Main Street. Not yet to the train tracks, but beyond the well-groomed shopping district. I halted in front of what appeared to be an abandoned storefront. Wide display windows covered with brown paper stared back at me. Chipped white paint above and below the windows shouted the building’s need for repair. A small, hand-lettered placard announced a budding business:

Coming Soon!
Longmont’s Own Martial Arts Academy.
Classes Enrolling Now!

I shivered, but reached for the doorknob. What choice did I have? Warwick James had promised to explain things, and I desperately wanted information. I hadn’t seen any more monsters, but my newly acquired weird-o-meter told me they were still there, lurking just beyond my field of vision. I wanted them gone. I didn’t want to know that the monster under the bed was real or that his cousin really was hiding in the closet.

Pushing open the door, I stepped into a large, dimly lit room. My footsteps rang against ancient linoleum floors and echoed off walls in need of a fresh coat of paint. The paper-covered windows washed the room with a diffused amber glow, causing the glare of an electric bulb from a half-open door in the back wall to stand out like a flashing neon sign.

“Hello. Is anyone here? Mr. James?” I listened as the echoes of my voice died away. No response. Much as I wanted answers, my sense of self-preservation refused to allow me to walk to the back of the room and step into that well-lit doorway. I turned toward the front door. Warwick James had found me once; he could find me again.

“I’m glad you came, Miss Erickson.”

I nearly gave myself whiplash, jumping and turning in a less than smooth movement. Warwick James stood just a few feet from me. How had he gotten so close so fast? I frowned and studied the strange man who had appeared out of nowhere to release me from yesterday’s spasm. Tall, trim, with good muscle tone. Definitely not a guy who lived on pizza and beer. Short brown hair and neatly trimmed mustache and beard, his blue-green eyes sparkled with humor. All in all, a good-looking guy, if you’re interested in middle-aged men. I’m not.

“How do you know my name?”

“I know your family well, Miss Erickson.” He raised an eyebrow and waved an arm in the direction of the back room. “Would you join me in the back? We can sit down and discuss this in more comfort there.”

“No thanks. I’d prefer to stay near the door.” I glanced over my shoulder, gauging the distance to the sidewalk outside. Not far. I could sprint it easily. Exit plan decided, I turned back to Mr. James. “How do you know my family? I’ve never seen you before.”

“As you wish,” he said with a shrug, thrusting his hands into the pockets of his jeans. “You misunderstand. I said I know your family well. I didn’t say I was a family friend or even an acquaintance. You see, Miss Erickson, yesterday was the first time I’ve ever spoken to a member of your family, though I’ve been studying them for years.”

A shiver ran down my spine and I backed a step closer to the front door.

“Please don’t run away. You need to understand what’s happening to you and why.”

“So get to the point,” I said continuing back until the doorknob was within easy reach. To my immense relief, Warwick James remained in the middle of the room.

“You had, shall we say, visions, yesterday. You saw things that can’t possibly exist. Things no one else in your family saw. Am I correct?”

I nodded.

“That ability is the reason I’ve been observing your family. I’ve been watching, waiting for your power to manifest.”

Silence descended on the room. A heartbeat, two … fifteen or twenty passed. Neither of us spoke. Finally, when the pressure of words waiting to be released was palpable, I caved.

“You were watching … me?”

“Not at first. Your father’s family first drew our attention. Thirteen children is uncommon in this day and age. The stage was set, the potential for your ability to manifest existed. So we waited, checking back each year. Noting new members, new births. Updating the genealogical records. Do you know what we were waiting for?”

My shoulders relaxed, the knot in my stomach eased, and I snorted. “Don’t tell me. You’re one of those ‘seventh son of a seventh son’ fanatics. Well, I’m sorry to disappoint, but one: I’m a girl; two: you’ve got the wrong branch of the family. Uncle Gus is the seventh son, and unfortunately for you, he and Aunt Ellen can’t have kids.”

The jerk had the nerve to smile.

“I’m not disappointed Miss Erickson, not in the least. Your family’s understanding of the ability is incomplete. Yes, a seventh-seventh is required, but gender is not an issue. We were never interested in your Uncle Gus — though we were amused by your family’s delight in producing a seventh son. Your father was always the object of our study.”

I jumped and grabbed the doorknob for support. “My father?”

“Yes. Your father. The seventh child in his family. Only the fifth son, but the seventh child. And you, Miss Erickson, what does that make you?”

I swallowed and tried to speak, but my tongue felt swollen and the inside of my mouth was too dry to function.

He nodded. “That’s right. You, Dani Heleen Erickson, are the seventh child of a seventh child. You are the hereditary Demon Hunter.”

*~*~*

Thanks for reading! Part 5 will be posted on 7/13/15.

Can’t wait to find out what happens? Demon Daze is available online:
Buy Now: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords

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FREE Fantasy Story: DEMON DAZE – part 3

Dani Erickson’s story, DEMON DAZE, continues in this 3rd of six installments.  I hope you enjoy Dani’s continuing adventure and I look forward to your comments.

Demon Daze
DEMON DAZE

by Deb Logan

 Awakening

BOULDER RESERVOIR SPARKLED in the afternoon sun, inviting the people on shore to step into its cool water. Our extended family’s annual end of the summer bash was underway. Partly my birthday party, partly an excuse to barbecue, swim, and laze in the sun before everyone went back to school. And I do mean everyone. Several of Dad’s brothers and sisters were teachers, everything from preschool to university professors, but not Dad. My dad was an architect, a partner at one of Boulder’s most prestigious firms. Mountain lodges designed to withstand Rocky Mountain snow loads were his specialty. Too bad we lived down on the flats.

One of the great things about family gatherings was that they grounded me in reality. Sometimes being the youngest of seven weighed on me. I mean, none of my friends came from such humongous families. Two, three, even four kids, that was normal, but seven? What were Mom and Dad thinking? Then we’d have a family gathering and I’d realize that in Dad’s world, a family of seven kids was kind of minimalistic. Dad fell right smack in the middle of thirteen — seven boys and six girls. Now that’s a family!

Anyhow, I was lazing under a tree with a couple of my cousins, having had enough sugar and exercise for my lifetime, when my vision went wonky. Everything kind of twisted and blurred. I rubbed my forehead, blinked a few times, and focused on Jamie. My youngest brother — who was still three years my senior — was entertaining some of the younger boys by walking on his hands. I could see him, right down to the goofy grin on his face, but he was encased in a deep purple haze.

I blinked again and shifted my gaze to Mike. The doctor-in-training sprawled in a lawn chair a few yards away, a cell phone held to his ear and surrounded by a pale blue fog. Though the hand touching the phone glowed lime green. I closed my eyes and stretched out on the tartan picnic blanket.

I’d obviously had too much sun. A few minutes’ rest would put me right as rain.

I could say something to Mom, but who wanted to be treated like an invalid on her birthday? Certainly not me! Sure, fourteen wasn’t a big deal. I wouldn’t be getting my driver’s license or even a learner’s permit, but still … a birthday is a birthday. You take your celebrations where you find them. Especially when you’re the youngest of seven, and the only girl.

“What’s wrong, squirt? You look a little green.”

I squinted up to find Jamie peering at me. He knelt beside me, looking all buff and tan from a summer of lifeguarding at the local pool, but he was still covered in that weird purple haze which was quickly modifying to a rich blue. Actually looked quite good with his ice-blue eyes and sun-bleached chestnut hair.

“Gee, thanks!” the corners of my mouth twitched, but it was hard to smile when your brother looked like he’d been cocooned in blue silk. “It’s nothing. Something’s weird with my eyes. Stuff is … hazy.”

Jamie scowled. He turned to Mike. “Hey, lover-boy! Get off the phone and come over here. Something’s wrong with Dani.”

Mike turned, eyes dark and irritable, ready to yell at Jamie … and stopped. His jaw slackened and his eyes widened. He mumbled a few words, snapped the phone shut, and sprinted to my side.

“What’s wrong, Dani? Did you eat something bad?” Mike scrutinized my face, his eyes narrowing. Cool fingers encircled my wrist as the physician-to-be assessed his little sister. He dropped my hand and scowled. “Tell me you’re not stupid enough to be messing with drugs!”

“Wha-” That was the extent of my snappy comeback. My jaw locked and no further sound passed my lips.

My heart slammed against my ribcage like a passenger in a speeding car that had braked too suddenly. Panic clawed at my throat, but not a sound escaped. I was locked inside my own skull looking at everyone through silky gauze layers. Could Mike be right? Had someone drugged my potato salad?

“MOM!” Jamie scrambled to his feet and fled to the pavilion on the other side of the park.

Mike moved into Jamie’s position, a worried frown replacing the scowl. His pale blue fog deepened to purple and pulsed in a rapid beat. The visual assault dizzied me, so I closed my eyes again. At least my eyelids still obeyed.

A flurry of voices rode the wind off the reservoir, alerting me to the imminent arrival of my parents, buoyed by a wave of aunts and uncles. With the familiar chatter of family came a decidedly unfamiliar sensation: awareness. Each person who approached was heralded by a distinct bubble pushing against the boundary of my conscious mind. Though my eyes remained closed, I could identify each and every person in our quadrant of the park. I knew exactly where they stood in relation to me, could judge their level of agitation by the color of the bubble. Worse yet, other blips appeared on my psychedelic radar. Not the comfortable, concerned, well-rounded bubbles of my extended family, but twisted, dark blips that oozed like malignant wounds.

My eyes popped open. Each family member stood right where I expected, but the blips weren’t visible. No. That wasn’t true. The air shimmered where the blips should be.

“What is it, Dani?” asked Mom, her voice soft and soothing. She slipped to the ground beside me and searched my face with a concerned gaze. “Tell me where it hurts.”

A shimmer intensified and I shifted my gaze from Mom to the anomaly. Maybe if I squinted…

A creature sprang into existence and eyed me with curiosity.

I recoiled, horrified by its scaly maroon skin, long filthy claws, and sharp, protruding teeth. The vaguely humanoid being stood erect and wore a torn, brown tunic. Its eyes, black and dangerous, glittered with intelligence, and something else — some dark amusement.

I shuddered and closed my eyes, but my awareness only heightened. More blips accumulated, surrounding my family. Drawn like sharks to blood. But what drew them? And why could I see them when my family obviously couldn’t?

“She started to say something,” Mike explained, “then, I don’t know. It’s like she seized. I think we should call an ambulance. I don’t want to move her, but she needs help.”

Mom stroked my hair and murmured reassurances while my brain scrambled to make sense of the unbelievable. What was happening to me?

A new bubble converged upon my family and drifted to my side, a shining white beacon tinged with radiant gold. Warmth and comfort emanated from the newcomer.

“Excuse me,” the being said in a voice filled with authority. “May I have a look at her?”

My family drew back, except for Mom. The stranger laid cool hands on my head, one covering my forehead, the other supporting the nape of my neck. “Relax, child. Don’t fight it,” he murmured. “Acceptance is the key. I can and will explain, but not now. Right now, you must accept the unacceptable.”

He continued to cradle my head and energy poured through my mind. I haven’t got a clue how to explain what happened, but synapses fired, my emotions sorted, my understanding cleared, and my body relaxed. I opened my eyes and stared into the face of the man who had promised to explain my destiny to me. Blue-green eyes stared back at me from a hard, chiseled face. A mustache and short, well-trimmed beard provided the only softening to the planes of his face.

He released me, extended his hand, and helped me sit up. I shivered in the late afternoon heat and glanced from family member to family member. “I’m okay now.”

A collective sigh of relief whispered through the ranks, but I knew the next indrawn breath would release a barrage of questions. My self-proclaimed mentor forestalled them.

“Nothing to worry about,” he said, rubbing his hands together and backing away from the tartan blanket. “Just a bit too much sun and exercise. Happens all the time around here.”

Jamie frowned and glanced at me, eyebrows lifted. My lifeguard brother knew something was up.

I shook my head, and he shrugged. We’d talk later.

Dad was shaking the man’s hand. “I don’t know what you did, but thank you, Mister…”

“James. Warwick James, but everyone calls me Wick. Don’t think a thing of it, sir. I’m just glad I could be of service.” He looked at me, and our gazes locked. He smiled, and I nodded and closed my fist around the slip of paper he’d palmed me when he helped me sit up.

I was still aware of creatures that shouldn’t exist, but the members of my family were no longer shrouded in colored fog. Whatever was happening, I could deal with the remnants for the rest of the day, but tomorrow Mr. Warwick James and I were going to have a come-to-Jesus meeting.

*~*~*

Thanks for reading! Part 4 will be posted on 6/29/15.

Can’t wait to find out what happens? Demon Daze is available online:
Buy Now: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords

Life Interruptus

I couldn’t imagine how it took George R.R. Martin SEVEN years, after the fourth book in his Song of Ice & Fire series (Game of Thrones), before he published the fifth one. It was inconceivable to me that, if you were a professional author, it would take SEVEN years to publish the next book in the series. I know he was busy with all the success of his books and the HBO series, but seriously SEVEN years.

I remember thinking this when the fifth book had come out in 2013. I had just published the first book in my series and thought myself so superior. After all, for my series I had produced the first book, Fire of the Covenant, in just over 18 months… and I was a rookie. My thoughts went something like, “Evidently Martin was no longer dedicated to his writing. He was probably spending all his time speaking at conventions, making the rounds of talk shows, partying in Hollywood, and all the other stuff that was non-writing.”

With this egotistical knowledge I charged full-speed ahead writing the next book in my series, Betrayal of the Covenant. I was so cocky that after a couple of months I started another series, the first book The Dragon Whisperer. It would only be about 80,000 words, half that of Betrayal, so no problem. I cruised along thinking I could get both books out by year end.

on-offEverything was progressing better than I expected. I was writing over 10,000 words a week. Then my high-speed race toward completing both books, by the end of 2014, ran smack into a wall called Life Interruptus. Moving twice and sorting through 19 years of stuff, family illnesses, and a few other normal daily life issues brought my writing to a halt.

I have heard from many of my author friends how they have also suffered from Life Interruptus. We all had good intentions, we diligently kept to our daily writing schedule, we attacked our novels with all the passion and dedication we could muster. Yet, all this good will means little to the monster called Life Interruptus.

I know this sounds depressing, but have faith. For most people Life Interruptus is only a temporary condition. Yes, it may be a condition that can linger for a year or two or longer, but there is hope. In the meantime, as an author, I wrote here and there, even if only for a few moments and days apart. It helped me to remember the joy that writing always brought me. And the memory of this joy can kept the fire burning long enough for Life Interruptus to fade. After more than a year, I find myself writing more each day and getting back into the beginning of a writing routine. With any luck I will get Betrayal out by year end and can also start shopping The Dragon Whisperer around to an agent or publisher.

Given what I know now, I would apologize to Mr. Martin… If I could get past his secretary, publicist, agent, and bodyguards. I would tell him that I can easily understand how it took him seven years to write, revise, edit, and then publish the fifth book.

I have weathered my experience with Life Interruptus and realize that regardless of what comes, I will continue to write my books and feel the joy that it brings. No matter what happens I will survive this condition in the future.

How do I know I will encounter this condition again? I recently found out that the doctors are going to remove one of my kidneys. How do I know I will survive this new bout of Life Interruptus? Because I did it once, and know I can do it again.

What has been your Life Interruptus?

FREE Fantasy Story: DEMON DAZE – part 2

Dani Erickson’s story, DEMON DAZE, continues in this 2nd of six installments.  (Part One is here, if you need to catch up 😀 ) I hope you enjoy Dani’s continuing adventure and I look forward to your comments.

Demon Daze
DEMON DAZE

by Deb Logan

 The Big Day Begins

FISTS POUNDING ON MY BEDROOM DOOR startled me awake. I lunged upright, glanced wildly around the room, and managed to comprehend the chorus of, “Wake up, Birthday Girl!” that echoed from the hall.

Brothers! You gotta love ‘em. It’s the law; at least it is in my family. From the sound reverberating through my skull all six of them must have come home for the big celebration. Flattering…except it meant I’d have to spend my big day pretending I was Allie.

I grabbed a shoe from the floor and hurled it at the already besieged door. “All right, already. I’m up! Give it a rest.”

Chortles sounded on the far side of the barrier, followed by a deeper bass shushing.

“Get a move on, Kitten,” Mike commanded. The eldest of seven and a medical student to boot, Mike was accustomed to seizing control of a situation. “Mom’s making French toast for breakfast. If these guys devour it all before you make it downstairs, she’ll be in a mood all day.”

I sprang from bed, leaped the intervening distance, and jerked the door open. Half a dozen boys in various states of early morning dishevelment blocked my path, while the sweet scent of maple syrup and frying bacon wafted through the air. “Outta my way!” I bellowed, elbowing my way into the hall. “No one’s eating my birthday breakfast.”

A race for the sugar erupted. We scrambled across the hall and down the stairs, barely making it to the kitchen with everyone still on their feet.

“Halt!” Dad’s shout brought us all to attention, a ragged line of teens and twenty-somethings with straight backs and squared shoulders.

“Happy birthday, Dani,” said Mom, turning from the griddle with a spatula in her hand. “Now, if all of you would be so kind as to march back up the stairs, wash faces and hands, and comb your hair, we’ll have a civilized breakfast in a few minutes.”

As one, the Ericksons deflated. We turned and my brothers tromped back up the stairs.

“Dani,” called Dad, halting me in mid-step. “A moment, please.”

I turned around wondering what I could’ve done. I couldn’t be in trouble yet, I’d just woken up. Besides, it was my birthday.

“Yes, sir?”

Dad crossed the sunlit kitchen and wrapped me in a bear hug. He ruffled my still messy hair and smiled down at me. “Happy birthday, kiddo. Take your time in the bathroom. Nobody’s eating ’til you get back.”

I grinned, wriggled out of his arms and raced back upstairs. French toast! And the guys had to wait for me. Maybe I should take my time. Get dressed. Fix my hair. Would make-up be too over the top? I sniffed again, savoring the delicious aromas of non-store-bought delicacies. Nah. Not worth the wait. My mouth watered for French toast NOW!

 *~*~*

Thanks for reading! Part 3 will be posted on 6/15/15.

Can’t wait to find out what happens? Demon Daze is available online:
Buy Now: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords

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