Category Archives: Authors – Debbie Mumford

get to know Debbie Mumford

Playing with Words: Sword & Sorcery

I recently wrote a story to submit to a “sword & sorcery” anthology. I wracked my brain trying to think of a tale to tell that met the requirements. Finally, I decided to revisit a character I created several years ago. Some of you may remember Kaitlyn from “Ensorcelled.” Here’s how her new story begins:

Kaitlyn felt him die. Felt his spirit depart this world, though it had been years since she’d seen his beloved face.

She stumbled, though the path through the white-barked aspen trees was well known to her and the morning clear and bright.

Fear and grief assaulted her mind.

She felt his power return to the reservoir of ambient magic. Felt a cresting wave of urgent desire break against her will as the magic in the very air around her ebbed and flowed, seeking a new balance.

The Firestone awoke, scrabbling for energy as it tried to claim more magic, claim more of her life.

She collapsed to the bare ground, bracing herself against the rough trunk of an aspen. Dropping her gathering basket, she hugged her knees beneath scrunched and disheveled skirts and petticoats.

“No,” she whispered through gritted teeth, sweat beading her forehead. “No. You will not advance. I refuse to allow it.”

Closing her eyes, her brow furrowed in concentration, she weathered the magical spike, struggled against the fingerless golden glove that covered her right hand and forearm, against the slender tendrils that sought to extend toward her elbow. With gritted teeth and clenched fists she fought for control…and won.

The fine tendrils retreated, the golden glove quieted. The magical storm calmed.

Tears slid down her heated cheeks. Partly in relief that she’d once again mastered the Firestone, but mostly in mourning for her dead friend. Aelfric, the master sorcerer to whom she had once been a contrary and headstrong apprentice.

She rested her head on her knees and reflected for a moment on her loss while her pulse slowed and her breathing quieted, becoming even again. Aelfric was gone, the master who had guided her through the turbulent adjustment after she’d so rashly used the Firestone to defeat the evil wizard, Darius. She’d won a war and saved her brother, but at a terrible personal cost.

King Lorien had hailed her a hero, but the common folk had the right of it—they named her the Solitary Sorceress.

For that was the price the Firestone had demanded of Kaitlyn, that headstrong fourteen-year-old apprentice. She had dared to summon the powerful talisman from its resting place and it had come to her in its quiescent state, a simple gold ring. But when she had claimed its power to defeat Darius, when she had placed the ring on her finger, it had bonded with her flesh, sending tendrils into her very bones, wrapping her hand and wrist in a golden sheath that had extended to her forearm before the battle ended.

The Firestone made her invincible.

It also made her untouchable.

Playing with Words

I’ve been writing short stories recently and part of that, at least for me, is playing with openings. Sitting down, writing whatever comes into my mind, and then discovering whether or not that opening holds the seeds of a story.

Just for fun, I’ve been posting some of these experiments on my website. I’ve named the series “Prompt Openings” because I often use a prompt to get the words flowing. (I keep a spreadsheet of words, phrases, objects, pieces of titles that catch my fancy and then use the entries as prompts.)

So, here is a recent opening that has become another Dani Erickson tale. The prompt? “Brothers and demons.” Yeah. That was pretty much destined to be a Dani story😀

High school. It’s a totally different world than what I expected when I first stepped through the glass-paned front doors last year. Back then I’d just discovered my destiny as a demon hunter and was still focused on the mundane issues I’d always anticipated when entering the big-leagues of public education. You know what I’m talking about: bullying upper classmen; cute boys who didn’t know I existed; cliques of mean girls; cute boys who would break my heart; teachers intent on writing tests filled with the most tedious details imaginable; cute boys who wouldn’t return my affection. The normal problems of a teenage girl’s life.

What I hadn’t expected to find were kids just like my six older brothers who were demon-ridden. Literally. Teens with small, rat-faced demons riding their backs, claws firmly embedded in necks and scalps, draining their victims’ life force while whispering evil suggestions into their psyches.

That was then.

Now, my high school was a much happier place. I’d defeated hundreds of personal demons and enough of the larger, humanoid demons that the vermin were wary of stepping foot on my territory, and Longmont High was very definitely my territory. Consequently, kids were kinder, more gentle than the national average. Teachers — many of whom were also demon-ridden when I arrived — were more inclined to be helpful, more willing to explain difficult concepts multiple times, seeking alternate examples to get their points across.

Now, I’m not claiming that my school was a utopia once I’d exterminated the demon pests, but it was, on the whole, a calmer, more civilized environment than anyone had a right to expect … and that was largely due to me.

Even my youngest older brother said so. Jamie had been at Longmont High for a year or two before I arrived. He definitely noticed the difference. Of course, he also knew all about my demon-hunting abilities. He’d learned my secret when I rescued him from a horde of demons who were using him as bait last spring. And to my eternal surprise, he’d kept my secret.

For a price.

“You want what?” I asked, my eyes bulging and my face heating. “Wick doesn’t do charity work.”

“That’s my price.” Jamie folded his arms across his chest and stared at me with familiar belligerence. “You want me to keep your secret. Fine. I’ll risk the Wrath of Mom, but I expect something in return. I want Wick to teach me how to fight. If you can do it, so can I.”

I shook my head and stomped onto the little bridge in the center of Loomiller Park. We’d needed privacy for this conversation, so we’d headed to the park where we could see anyone approaching long before they could hear what we were saying.

“And just what are you going to do with said fighting skills,” I asked, not bothering to keep the sarcastic tone out of my voice. This was Jamie, after all. The closest brother to my age. We were rarely civil to each other, even without the excuse of personal demons.

He frowned, but his jaw jutted out at a stubborn angle. “Once I’m trained,” he said, “I’ll help you fight demons. Make sure you don’t get yourself killed, ‘cause if you did and Mom found out I’d known anything, I’d follow you to the grave in about a heartbeat.”

I laughed out loud. “Help me fight demons?” I said. “When you can’t even see them? How’s that going to work?”

Newsletters and Other Madness

My short stories are starting to be published in anthologies! That’s exciting in and of itself, but the fact has brought to light a serious short-coming in my career planning: I haven’t planted and nurtured a newsletter list! And now I need two of them *headdesk*

This is what happens when you have a split personality and write under two names. Of course, it’s also what happens when you have your head down writing and forget to pay attention to the realities of business!

So, for the past week or so, I’ve been scrambling to decide which mail carrier to use (there are several excellent ones out there) and whether I want two lists or if one will do. The very thrifty Scot in my gene pool advocates for one list, but the practical Brit in my lineage scoffs. Why bother with dual pen names if you’re just going to lump everything into one newsletter?

And so two newsletters were born!

Each will be for special announcements only (new releases, special sales, exciting news, and reader perks) and each features an exclusive, published-nowhere-else FREE story for its subscribers😀

Here’s the scoop:
Debbie Mumford writes for adults – romantic fantasy, science fiction, historical fiction … all sorts of things. She’s offering a contemporary paranormal romance set in Yellowstone National Park as her incentive: “Reality Bites.” Click here for Debbie’s newsletter.

Deb Logan writes for middle grade and young adult, or anyone who’s young at heart! Almost all of Deb’s tales are contemporary fantasy / paranormal. Deb is offering a modern day fairy tale complete with a prince and princess…or two: “Beauty or Butterface?” Click here for Deb’s newsletter.

In other news, I’ve expanded my “Spun Yarns” imprint! I’m now publishing individual short stories as well as collections. My most recent releases are:

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That last one is so new, it doesn’t have a link! Be sure to look for it (and all of my stories!) at your favorite e-tailer😀

On Writing…The Habit of Putting Words on the Page

For the past few years I’ve begun each year writing short stories for an anthology workshop. Those of us participating spend six weeks writing a story a week. We’re given a theme on Monday morning and the story must be submitted by midnight the following Sunday.

The first year, the schedule terrified me. What if I couldn’t come up with an idea and get it written within the allotted time? Aaaggghhh! But I managed to meet each deadline and even sold one of the stories! (Two more eventually sold to other venues.)

Last year I succeeded in writing all six stories again and this time sold two to the anthologies they were written for…and sold two others later to other venues. Not bad!

But the problem came after the writing. Once we finished writing our own stories, we were asked to read all the others in order to prepare for the workshop. Now, this is an awesome opportunity! To get to read all those professional level short stories? Absolute coolness! Unfortunately, in order to accomplish all the required reading AND continue to live my normal work-a-day + family life, the awesome writing habit I’d established fell by the wayside. Both years!

THIS year, I’m determined to change that outcome. I’ve completed my six stories for this year’s workshop and am now deep into the reading phase. However, this year I’m making time to continue the story-a-week habit I’ve begun.

I’m proud to say that I finished a flash fiction story yesterday…and then read another bunch of amazing stories by my fellow workshoppers!

I’m 5 stories for 5 weeks so far in 2016! Wish me luck in continuing my streak. After all, while it’s great to START the New Year well, what matters is maintaining the writing habit I’ve established.

Here’s to a successful and productive 2016!

New Releases for Debbie Mumford!

FR16 Hidden in Crime ebook cover
I’m thrilled to announce that I have a short story in this anthology!

Edited by the incomparable Kristine Kathryn Rusch, this volume focuses on historical crime fiction–specifically, stories about crimes that are no longer against the law.

Writing “Sisters in Suffrage” was a departure for me since I don’t write mysteries or crime fiction. My usual genres are all speculative in nature, so I was stymied about how to approach this story. When I realized that the crime didn’t have to be solved, that I could simply tell a story about something that horrified me, I was on my way.

I had written a blog post several years ago encouraging women voters to exercise the rights that our foremothers suffered to earn for us. I knew when I began my research that my right to vote hadn’t come freely, but I hadn’t realized the extent to which “suffrage” and “suffering” had been related. When the memory of my research surfaced, “Sisters in Suffrage” was born.

I hope readers will enjoy this anthology, but even more I hope the stories will make people think about what’s legal, what isn’t…and why.

And in other news…

Astromancer-Cover-2x3

My short story “Astromancer” is now live on Amazon and will be coming soon to Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and all the Smashwords affiliates!

Apprentice Alchemist Wyot is an astrologer of the third rank. He dreams of becoming an astromancer, one of the elite few who move starships between the known planets, but knows he lacks the innate magical talent required to fulfill his lofty ambition. When the Thrice Great commands his presence, Wyot has no idea what to expect from the leader of the legendary Emerald Enclave.

It’s been a very good week!

Author Spotlight: Meredith Pritchard and Authtoberfest

October is upon us and you know what that means; fall leaves, steaming cups of coffee, tea, cocoa, sweatpants, blankets and fires, and… dead things. Ghosts and Zombies and the Apocalypse align. Droves of the undead, aka real live humans, line up to devour it all with a ferocious appetite. I’m no exception. All of my favorite books, TV shows, and movies tend to release in October. I’ve long been a fan of The Walking Dead and my love of that series has impacted my book blog Secret Life of a Townie. What began as a zombie apocalypse discussion blog has turned into a book review and author interview blog, infused with apocalyptic and zombie themes. I’ve used this platform to discuss the books I love and gather interviews from authors of all paths of publishing; debut and tenured, indie and traditional and hybrid. I usually post one interview a week, but after a surge of reaching out and getting encouraging responses from the gods of publishing, I suddenly had a handful of interviews from some of my favorite authors. I really wanted to get these interviews out into the world and I knew that during the fall my blog gets the most traffic. So what began as a scheduling conundrum turned into “Authtoberfest.”

October Author party-4

“Authtoberfest” is a month of author interviews from horror, sci-fi & fantasy authors. The questions are Halloween and Zombie themed. The authors discuss their favorite books, the ability of their fellow authors to survive the zombie apocalypse, and advice for aspiring writers. With 31 authors there are a lot of great book suggestions and some awesome tips to keep writers motivated.

The event started on October 1st with Peter Heller. Peter wrote an amazing novel, The Dog Stars, and has an impressive CV that makes me feel like I’ve done absolutely nothing with my life. He’s a super nice guy who took time out of his busy schedule to answer my emails and impart his words of wisdom upon the world.

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Isaac Marion’s interview is schedule for October 9th. Isaac wrote the hilarious yet profound novel Warm Bodies, it was a major motion picture and my favorite read of 2013. My Goodreads review went a little like this: “This started off really fun, really funny, and then turned super deep. So here I sit, book finished, a bottle of wine gone, and I’m still trying to figure out what the f–k I just read…” Isaac had a ton of great tips, book suggestions, and a playlist that gave me nightmares. If you loved Warm Bodies, check out his latest release The New Hunger. Isaac Marion never disappoints.

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Peter Cawdron, The Behrg, Ernie Lindsey, R. E. Carr, Nick Cole, and Josh Malerman will also be featured. Josh’s interview brought back all the scary crap from my childhood that I’ve spent the past 30 years forcing myself to forget. I had to sleep with the light on a few times after reading that interview but his thoughts are quite amazing so it was worth it. Josh’s interview posts Oct 31st. Bird Box was an amazing read, if you haven’t read it yet make sure you pick it up.

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I had a wicked ton of fun preparing these interviews for everyone. Check out the author interview schedule or stop by daily. Like, comment, Tweet and share. And have a Happy Authtoberfest!

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MRPritchardM.R. Pritchard is a lifelong inhabitant of upstate NY. She lives near the shores of Lake Ontario where she spends her days reading and writing and watching the snow fall. When she is not writing she is a NICU Nurse, wife, mother, gardener, aquarist, book hoarder and science geek. M.R. Pritchard holds degrees in Biochemistry and Nursing. She likes books, coffee, and rum.

To receive updates on new releases sign up for her newsletter at http://eepurl.com/TXnkL.

Visit her website MRPritchard.com or her blog http://secretlifeofatownie.blogspot.com/where she writes about all things books.

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Be sure to stop by Authtoberfest on October 15 when fantasy author Debbie Mumford (aka Deb Logan) will be the featured author!

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FREE Fantasy Story: DEMON DAZE – part 6 (Final)

Dani Erickson’s story, DEMON DAZE, finishes in this 6th and final installment.  I hope you’ve enjoyed meeting Dani! (Look for information about her NEXT adventure at the end of this post😀 )

Demon Daze
DEMON DAZE

by Deb Logan

 Demon Hunter

I SPENT THAT EVENING trying to convince myself Warwick James was a scam artist or a serial killer. Anything to erase the exceptionally abnormal future he’d outlined for me. What did I know about demons? Why would I want to hunt them? As far as I knew, no demon had ever harmed me or mine. Wouldn’t Mom counsel me to live and let live?

And what about Mom and Dad? How were they supposed to take the news that their only daughter would never be the epitome of graceful femininity they desired? That she was instead destined to be a warrior charged with protecting the human race? They didn’t want a guard dog; they wanted a pampered Pomeranian.

I stalked from room to room of our comfortable home, unable to settle anywhere. The kitchen taunted me with visions of the girl I’d never be. If I were more like Allie, I’d be warm and welcoming like its terra cotta red walls and pale lemon curtains, nourishing like the contents of its hickory cabinets, accomplished like the woman who ruled the heart of our home: my mother.

The great room, usually my retreat of choice, repelled me tonight. My brothers and their friends had gathered to watch a pre-season football game on Dad’s awesome eighty-inch high-definition television. I could fit in with a roomful of guys, no problem. I’d been fitting in with guys since birth. But tonight I needed to think, and the guys’ rowdy antics would kill higher brain function.

The formal living room mocked me. Every piece of furniture in that room knew its place and function better than I did, same with the elegance of the rarely used dining room. One of the bathrooms? No. Unless I wanted to settle in for a soak, someone would be beating on the door in a matter of moments. Bedrooms? All were off limits except my own, and I felt like a caged animal pacing round and round my bed. I briefly considered sitting on top of the washer in the laundry room, but the white enameled metal looked cold and uncomfortable.

My restless wandering finally drove me outdoors — not far out, I remembered Wick’s warning — onto the wide, covered porch that wrapped three sides of our two-story home. I settled on a cushioned patio chair and stared across the street into the familiar shadows of Loomiller Park.

Big mistake.

On an ordinary night, I could’ve stared for hours at the well-known tree shadows, the mirror smooth lake that was really little more than a pond, the winding walkways and seen no more than the outline of an occasional Canada goose. Heard no more than the peaceful chirping of crickets or the breeze sighing through the foliage. But tonight was no ordinary night. Tonight I possessed the senses of a demon hunter, and the normally quiet park teemed with life of a type I hadn’t known existed until yesterday.

Demons of all shapes and sizes crowded the edges of our property. They crawled across the streets, climbed on the kiddie play equipment, splashed in the shallows of the lake, and hung from branches of the evergreens. But mostly, they stared at me. Hundreds of pairs of eyes gleamed in the darkness of the still August night.

A paralyzing chill clenched my spine in an icy fist. An impulse to jump and run seized my brain, but my feet and legs refused to act. Like a rabbit charmed by a swaying snake, I stared into their eyes and drowned in fear. I was no demon hunter. I was prey. How could one untrained teenage girl hope to survive when the night teemed with such … such … filth?

Filth? I shook my head, breaking eye contact and laughed. Not a happy giggle, but a terrified, ironic chuckle. Something deep inside had challenged the thought the demon horde had tried to plant. Yes, I was young and untrained, but an unacknowledged spark in my soul recognized them for what they were, filthy vermin to be hunted from the face of the earth.

“Thanks, guys,” I murmured, rising and walking to the door with a newborn calm. “You’ve convinced me. I’m a demon hunter in need of training.” I smiled, waved a salute to the unholy creatures only I could see, and strode to the great room to join my brothers. “See you in the morning, Mr. James,” I murmured to myself as I grabbed a handful of popcorn from Jamie’s bowl.

Settling into my favorite chair, I smiled as the buttery goodness of popcorn melted on my tongue. I finally knew who I was. Never again would I see myself as a clumsy, too-tall imitation of Allie. No, I was exactly who I was meant to be. Dani Heleen Erickson: Demon Hunter Extraordinaire!

*~*~*

Thanks for reading DEMON DAZE!

Want to know more about Dani? Be sure to look for SCHOOL DAZE

SCHOOL DAZESchDaze-Cover-2x3
by Deb Logan
Audience: Juvenile | Demon Hunter | Short Story

Dani Erickson is a hereditary demon hunter. The seventh child of a seventh child, she was born to battle the nasty monsters she sees infesting her small Colorado town. With the help of her best friend Allie and her sensei Warwick James, she’s getting into fighting trim — just in time for her first day of high school.

Demons beware. Dani’s on the prowl!

Buy Now: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords

 

 

 

FREE Fantasy Story: DEMON DAZE – part 5

Dani Erickson’s story, DEMON DAZE, continues in this 5th 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

 Guardian

I WANTED TO RIP OPEN the door and run for my life, but I couldn’t. My knees wobbled, my lungs seized, my heart pounded like my brother Seth’s drums, and a series of cold chills played tag on my spine. And you don’t want to know about my stomach. Trust me. Too much information doesn’t begin to cover it.

But sooner than I would’ve expected, my racing brain calmed. A serene acceptance washed through my mind and I knew, absolutely, positively, with no question of doubt, that whoever Warwick James might be, he’d spoken the truth. I was a born and bred Demon Hunter.

I slipped sideways away from the door and leaned against the peeling paint of an interior wall. One by one my pieces parts returned to normal until I found the strength to speak.

“I’m a demon hunter.” A simple statement of fact, and once the words were out, I straightened away from the wall, stronger and more sure of myself than I’d ever been in my life. I made eye contact with Wick and nodded. “I’m a demon hunter.”

Concern fled from his face and he smiled like a proud father presented with his first-born. “Yes, Miss Erickson. You are a demon hunter, and I am your guardian.”

A small frown pulled at my eyebrows. “Why would a demon hunter need a guardian? Besides, I already have a father and six brothers.”

“True, but can they teach you to fight? Can they see demons? Can they watch your back while you learn the skills you’ll need to survive?”

I chewed my lower lip and prowled the room, keeping my new awareness centered on Wick. “You can see demons? You can train me?”

“I can and I will. That is my purpose: to find demon hunters and protect them while I train them to protect mankind.”

“I’m missing something here. If you can see demons and already know how to fight, why do you need me?”

He pivoted slowly on the spot, keeping me squarely in the center of his vision despite my pacing. “I’m not a demon hunter, Miss Erickson. I don’t have your, shall we say built-in radar? I can fight them and make a nuisance of myself, but I cannot kill them. That power is reserved for your kind.” He bowed his head in acknowledgement of my superior abilities.

“I will be your mentor and trainer, but you, Miss Erickson, are the demon hunter.”

I stopped pacing, faced him, and planted my fists on my hips. “What is this place? Why did you bring me here?”

He held out his arms and completed a slow circle. “This is my new business, a martial arts academy. I will teach Tae Kwon Do, Karate, Judo, and Kendo. You will learn a blend of all of them while developing your own unique style.”

“Doesn’t look like much,” I muttered.

He threw back his head and laughed so loud the room echoed with his mirth. When the explosion of sound died back, he wiped his eyes and said, “Give me a chance, Miss Erickson. Madame Simone and I have barely had time to set our plans in motion. She only confirmed your burgeoning power on Saturday night. I think I’ve done well to find a Main Street location on such short notice.”

My eyes widened and my jaw dropped. “Madame Simone? Do you mean that wacko fortune teller from the carnival?”

“Language, Miss Erickson. Madame Simone is a gifted psychic. She and I have been with the carnival for years. The perfect cover for traveling around the country checking up on families that might possibly produce a demon hunter. Now that we’ve found you, we will settle in Longmont and other members of our clan will make the rounds.” He shook his head. “Possibles are far too few these days.”

I filed that comment away for future consideration and wandered back to the door. “Okay. So let’s assume I buy this crazy story,” I said, all too aware of the lie implied. I believed him and he knew it. How could I not? Even now I sensed three demonic entities roaming Longmont’s peaceful streets … and they were just the ones in range of my newly awakened weird-o-meter. “What do you expect me to do?”

He strode to the door, reached for the knob and opened it for me with a small bow. “I expect you to assimilate your new knowledge. Rest tonight. Think about what you’ve learned, and come back tomorrow ready to begin your training.”

I stared at him for a moment and then stepped out into the late August sunshine. “I’ve got to meet my brother.”

“I’ll look for you around ten,” he said, joining me on the sidewalk. He glanced up and down the street before continuing, “I’ll shadow you back to your brother. For your own safety, go straight home and stay there. The home of a hunter is sacrosanct. You will always be safe there, as will anyone else within its walls. Be vigilant, Miss Erickson. You are now aware of demons; they are also aware of you.”

With that cheery thought, I headed north to meet Jamie, Warwick James following at a discreet distance.

*~*~*

Thanks for reading! The 6th and final scene will be posted on 7/27/15.

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

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

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

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