Welcome to the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour! Day 2 #RRBC #RWISA @dlfinn

RWISA SHOWCASE BADGE 2019

The Poetry of D. L. Finn

POETRY by D. L. Finn

ICICLES 

The icicles dangle downward

Reaching for the substantial snow

Each drop bringing them closer

As the landscape merges into itself

It is silent in its existence

Until a raven reveals itself

Wondering what’s in the trash

Yet, the moment remains peaceful

Sitting and surveying in the chill

An instant promising potential

When there is no celerity

When crackling fires call

When surroundings are concealed

Soon, the renewal will be revealed

But now it’s the stage of contemplation.

For sustenance

For solace

For soul

To live on our abundance of the past

This is the gift of the snow

When we can replenish our hearts

In the silence of the icicles.

 

 

FREEDOM (Musings from the back of a Harley)

The freedom of the blue skies

Welcome us warmly back

Our path is asphalt

Our vehicle a mechanical horse

Our guide is the wind

Lush green walls soar

The sun illuminates the way

Oaks are waking up after a long nap

And I…

I fill my soul

With nature’s flowering renewal

Bursting with beauty and abundance

In the freedom of spring.

 

WHERE THE RIVERS MEET
Roaring white, pounding the granite

Swirling, swelling, splendor

The air is heavy with anticipation

It blows over me like a lover’s touch

Filling my heart with sweet floral ecstasy

I relax into the experience

Each breath carries away my worries

My eyes fill with abandonment

As the rushing liquid serenades me

Singing the praise of this paradise

Until the different directions converge

After a brief resounding rumble

They combine and continue on their way

Leaving the moment where the rivers meet.

 

OCEAN

As I sit perched up high on our lanai

Comfortable on my recliner in the shade

The ocean draws my gaze

Its sapphire and emerald water calls me

While the blue pool floats in its space—uninviting

I hear the sea’s song as it smashes onto the shore

The surfers ride its motion

The snorkelers gaze into its depth

And the swimmers float on its perception

Our attraction is undeniable

Opposites: one of air, one of water

It beckons, and I must respond

Offering myself up to the hidden world

Under the cerulean summon

I answer, embracing the ocean completely.

 

Thank you for supporting this member along the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour today!  We ask that if you have enjoyed this member’s writing, please visit their Author Page on the RWISA site, where you can find more of their writing, along with their contact and social media links, if they’ve turned you into a fan.

We ask that you also check out their books in the RWISA or RRBC catalogs.  Thanks, again for your support and we hope that you will follow each member along this amazing tour of talent!  Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about this author:

D. L. Finn RWISA Author Page

 

 

Welcome to the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour! Day 1 #RRBC #RWISA

 

RWISA SHOWCASE BADGE 2019Welcome to Day 1 of the Watch RWISA Write Showcase, where each day a different author will be featured!

It is my pleasure to start off this tour with Author, John W. Howell!

The Road

by John W. Howell

Just a couple more hours and I’ll be able to rest my eyes. Been on this damn highway for what seems like forever. His head slowly nods until the rumble strip noise causes him to jerk awake. “I have been asleep,” he yells. He yanks the wheel, and the tires screech in protest as he swerves back on to the highway. He can feel his heart in his chest and pressure in his eyes. In an instant, he regrets being so weak as to give in to the physical need. He also becomes alarmed since now he knows that sleep could overtake him without notice.  One second, his eyes could be open and the next closed. Thank God for the jarring and noise of the rumble strips since without its alarm, he is sure he would have ended up piled into a tree.

As his heart settles down, he concentrates on the road ahead. There’s someone at the side about a half mile away. A hitchhiker by the looks of a backpack. A sign in the person’s hand is not readable at this distance. The thought occurs that It would be a good thing to have someone else in the car to help him stay awake.  Of course, there are dangers in picking up a stranger. As he gets closer, he can see that the hitchhiker is not a guy like he thought. It’s a young woman about his age.  She is wearing some kind of overalls, but the distinctive female form still comes through. He decides to slow down and assess the situation. A girl makes all the difference in trying to reach a decision for or against a pickup. After all, who knows where this could lead? He does know that in all probability, she is not likely to stick a knife in his ribs and demand his wallet after a couple of miles down the road.

He eases the car to the shoulder and can’t help kick up some dust in the process. The sign is facing him even as the person turns away to avoid the dust storm he has created. Kansas City in black marker on cardboard is all it says.

He opens the passenger door and waves her over. “I’m going to Kansas City. Want a ride?”

The young woman looks back at him, and he can tell she is doing an evaluation on the safety prospects of accepting a lift. She slowly hoists her backpack on to her shoulder and walks with hesitant steps toward the car. She puts her hand above her eyes to cut the glare of the sun and stops short of the door. She leans in. “Did you say you’re going to Kansas City?”

“Yes. Yes, I did. I also asked if you would like a ride.”

“That all depends on your intentions?”

“My intentions?”

“Yeah. You are offering a ride. How much will it cost me?”

“Cost you? I’m going to Kansas City. Your sign says Kansas City. Why would it cost you anything?”

“Just want to make sure is all.”

“No charge. I’ve been on the road forever, it seems, and I would welcome the company. My name is James.”

“Sorry, James. I know I sounded a little ungrateful, but I have also been on the road and have met several guys that think I owe them something for a ride.”

“I can understand that. Let’s just say you can ride or not it’s your choice. No other decisions to be made.”

“Fair enough. I accept your offer. My name is Sarah.” She slides in and slams the door.

“Nice to meet you, Sarah. You want to put your backpack in the rear?”

“No, I’ll just keep it here in the front with me. You can never tell.”

“Tell what?”

“When I’ll have to bail. Everything I own is in this pack, and I sure wouldn’t want to leave it behind.”

“I get it. No use trusting someone just cause they say you can.”

“Right. I think I like you, James.”

“Wainwright. My last name’s Wainwright. How about you?”

“Not sure I have a last name. I go by Sarah.”

“No last name? How can that be?”

“You going to start this car or is my fear well founded.”

James flushes as he turns the ignition. “Yeah, here we go.” He looks in the side mirror and signals as he pulls back on the highway.

“You are a cautious one. There’s no one for miles.”

“I guess it’s a habit from city driving.” He keeps checking in the mirror until he is up to highway speed

“Where you from, James?”

“New York. You?”

“I think I was originally from down south somewhere.”

“You don’t know?”

“Well, it’s been a long time.” She pauses.

James glances at her and sees that she is lost in thought somewhere. Her skin is fair, and she has the high cheekbones and lips of a runway model. She looks vaguely familiar, and he compares her looks to Joni Mitchell. There is that innocent, fragile look that makes you want to take care of her.

“I’m sorry. What did you say?” She is back.

“I didn’t say anything. I’m amazed you don’t know where you are from.”

“Well do you remember where you’re from or is it someone told you?”

She has a point. James only knew he was born in Chicago because his parents told him so. He lived in New York for twenty years so unless clued in he would have thought he lived there his whole life. “I guess I should rephrase the question. Where did you last live?”

“Yes, James. That makes a little more sense. I last lived in Dubuque, Iowa.”

“What a coincidence. I am driving from Dubuque. Do you believe that?”

“I can believe that. Someone once said there are only six degrees of separation of everyone on Earth. You and I traveling from Dubuque at the same time certainly falls into that realm.”

“Aw come on, Sarah. We are both going from Dubuque to Kansas City. That has to be more than a coincidence.”

“I never said I was going to Kansas City, James.”

“Wait. You have that sign that says Kansas City.”

“Doesn’t mean I’m going there.”

“What does it mean?”

“You think I know?”

“I’m getting a weird feeling here, Sarah. Like you aren’t telling me something.”

“Do you remember swerving after you ran off the highway?”

“What? Back there. Yeah, I remember almost falling asleep. Hey, wait a minute. How would you know about that?”

“Think a minute, James. How do you think I would know about that moment?”

“Sarah I’m too tired for guessing games. What is this all about?”

“Do you feel okay, James?”

“Yeah, just tired.”

“Look around. Do you see any other cars?”

“No, but I haven’t for a while. What are you trying to tell me, Sarah?”

“You fell asleep, James.”

“When did I fall asleep? I know I nodded off, but when did I fall asleep?”

“Just before your car went off the road and you hit a cement culvert.”

“Now, you are joking. Right? Right, Sarah?”

“No joke, James. Look ahead. What do you see?”

“Uh, up the road, you mean?”

“Yes, up the road.”

“Nothing, but what looks like a sandstorm.”

“It’s no storm, James. It is nothing.”

“Who are you anyway?”

“Do you remember that little girl who went missing in the second grade?”

“Yeah, what does that have to do with you?”

“Does the nickname Jimmy Jeans mean anything?”

“That’s what Sarah called me in the second grade.”

“How did I know that?”

“You wouldn’t unless.”

“Unless I’m Sarah.”

“Oh My God. Sarah. It is you. Where have you been?”

“That’s not important. What is important is you were broken-hearted when I vanished. You prayed for my return and made promises to God if only I would come back.”

“I never got over that either. I think of that little girl. I mean, I thought of you almost every day. Why didn’t I recognize you?”

“’Cause I’m all grown up. There would be no way.”

“Where have you been, Sarah. I have missed you so much.”

“Don’t cry, James. I’m here with you now.”

“Can you tell me what happened to you?”

“No, James, it’s not worth the time.”

“So why now? Why are you here now?”

“To help you, James.”

“To help me. How?”

“To understand what your life is like now.”

“Now? What do you mean?”

“You were in an accident, James. You ran off the road, and I am sorry to say your body didn’t survive. You are now going with me on an eternal trip.”

“You are saying I’m dead. I can’t believe that.  Look at me. I’m just as alive as you.”

“That’s right. You are.”

“Um, Sarah?”

“Yes, James.”

“You are dead too?”

“Yes, James. A man took me from school and killed me. They never found my body.”

“W-what?”

“Don’t think about that now. Think about the future. Because you prayed so hard and missed me so much, I was given the honor of escorting you to the other side.”

“Other side? There’s a future?”

“A wonderful one.  You and I for all time.”

“I would like that.”

“Take my hand then. Let’s be off.”

“I have more questions.”

“All in good time, James. All in good time.”

THE END

Thank you for supporting this member along the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour today!  We ask that if you have enjoyed this member’s writing, please visit their Author Page on the RWISA site, where you can find more of their writing, along with their contact and social media links, if they’ve turned you into a fan.

We ask that you also check out their books in the RWISA or RRBC catalogs.  Thanks, again for your support and we hope that you will follow each member along this amazing tour of talent!  Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about this author:

John W. Howell RWISA Author Page

The “SON OF THE SERPENT” BOOK RELEASE TOUR @VashtiQV #RRBC

Hello and welcome to the final stop on the exciting book tour for the New Release “Son of The Serpent” By Vashti Quiroz-Vega!

Let’s meet Vashti!

Vashti BOOK TOUR BIO PIC photo (2)

Vashti Quiroz-Vega is a writer of Fantasy, Horror, and Thriller. Since she was a kid she’s always had a passion for writing and telling stories. It has always been easier for her to express her thoughts on paper.

She enjoys reading almost as much as she loves to write. Some of her favorite authors are Stephen King, Michael Crichton, Anne Rice, J.R.R. Tolkien, J.K. Rowling and George R. R. Martin.

She enjoys making people feel an array of emotions with her writing. She likes her audience to laugh one moment, cry the next and clench their jaws after that.

When she isn’t building extraordinary worlds and fleshing out fascinating characters, she enjoys spending time with her husband JC and her Pomeranian Scribbles who is also her writing buddy.

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Hello and welcome to the last stop on my Virtual Book Tour! Thank you so much for following along. I truly appreciate the support. And a big hug and kiss to the wonderful hosts who welcomed me so graciously to their wonderful blogs. I am very grateful.

 

Son of the Serpent is a High Fantasy|Paranormal book sprinkled with Horror and Romance. It is aimed at an 18+ audience. The book is written in 1st person POV. There are chapters written in Dracul’s voice interspersed by chronicles written in Lilith’s (the villain) voice. Today I’m going to share an excerpt from one of the Chronicles of Lilith.

 

Vashti Book Tour BANNER Last Hope

Excerpt: Chronicles of Lilith

 

As I prepared to leave Shuruppak, rumors about a man named Noah, who claimed to be God’s prophet, came to my attention. According to my human servants, this man said God speaks to him and has told him there shall be a catastrophic event. Every living thing on this planet shall perish, except those beings selected by God Himself.

The servants laughed and took pleasure in ridiculing this man. They called him insane. I, however, have learned throughout the years that there is always some truth to the ramblings of the insane. I would like to see this man, Noah, and listen to his preaching, thus my departure would have to wait.

In the middle of the night I awoke to booming thunder, the likes of which I had not heard since the days I wandered in the wilderness with Gadreel when we first arrived on this planet. I leaped out of my bed and ran to a nearby window. The sky was ominous, with large bitumen-black clouds gathering to form gigantic ones. My superior vision allowed me to see things in the darkness that no other being could. A flash of lightning lit the world white for a moment. Rain began to fall, first tapping on the window and then becoming a rapid succession of beats.

I threw on a garment and ran outside to get a better look. There were still people outdoors, servants slow to finish their tasks for the day and others who came out to see what was happening. They ran for cover as storm clouds spat their loads of water. Sharp droplets of icy-cold water needled my shoulders and back. I shivered under the prickly feeling. The rain came in torrents now. Puddles formed, and the puddles became streams. They grew into rivers. I ran to a nearby tree to take shelter under it.

I hid from the people running and screaming in fear and shifted to my serpent form. The torrent became more intense, and the night grew darker with the bruise of thick, angry clouds. A wall of rain moved over the tree I stood under, and the drops drummed against the canopy. So much water fell from the skies that the sound blurred into one long, whirring tumult.

Many of the people of Shuruppak left their flooded homes and wandered the streets like lost souls. They had never seen a storm of this magnitude. Some had only been familiar with the morning dew. I had seen enough. I spread my wings and took to the sky. Flying had never been more difficult. The rain pelted my wings, while bolts of lightning threaten to spear me as they sliced the air to my left and right.

The earth shook and sent shockwaves rippling through the ground like water, destroying houses in an instant. Fires exploded everywhere, and the smell of smoke twisting through the air between raindrops was acrid on the hot breeze. Regular clatters rang out as structures crumbled apart and fell to the ground. I needed to escape, find shelter, but where could I hide from such devastation? The skies were becoming more and more dangerous. I flew toward the coast, but my wings grew too heavy and sodden to keep me airborne. I fell to the beach.

I looked toward the coastline, wincing and moaning, feeling the pain of my fall. I had been to this beach before, but it looked strangely unfamiliar now, abnormally vast. I thought maybe the darkness of the night was playing tricks on my vision, but then I realized why the beach looked so strange. The surf had drawn back hundreds of miles; the abandoned sand twinkled in the moonlight despite the rain.

I gasped at a black line on the horizon and watched as a colossal wave swept toward me at hundreds of miles per hour—rushing, roaring, angry froth foaming from between its lips. I stared, eyes fixed, as the wave surged in. I knew it was impossible to escape it. Heat had never left my body as fast as it did in this brief moment of realization. The torrent came after me, granting me a few seconds to enjoy breathing the ocean air before it wrapped me in frigid foamy fingers and dragged me to the ocean floor.

I struggled as sand and briny water filled my lungs, causing them to expand and burn. As the wave moved, it pulled me along with it, like it wanted me to witness the devastation it would cause. My death would not be simple or fast, for the powers granted to me by the fruit from the Tree of Life would sustain me. Powers I once cherished now seemed a curse.

As the wave pushed me along, I crashed into debris in the water. Every stab, rip, and fracture my body suffered brought me immense pain. Men, women, and children drowned, their dead bodies floating around me, yet I remained alive.

The giant wave hit Shuruppak. It was nothing like the waves which lap the shore every minute of every day. This was a gigantic wall of water, cold and powerful. It came over land with the power of a volcanic blast. It moved over the city with more ease than a wave over the sand, reducing houses and structures to rubble and killing every living thing.

My broken body filled with water, sand, and debris until the weight of it fixed me to the ocean floor. People, livestock, uprooted trees, and all manner of structures floated past me. The rain continued to pour.

The sky was now hinting at sunrise. Nothing escaped my eyes and ears, but I was immobile. Every inch of my body throbbed with pain, and the cold of the water chilled my bones. As I lay motionless, I watched a large wooden vessel approach. It was the greatest ship I had ever seen. It glided over the water’s surface, throwing its shadow to the sea floor as it sailed past me, turning day to night. I overheard people singing and the roar, moo, bleat, and bray of animals coming from the vessel. Not everyone had perished. Some shall go on, while I remain imprisoned in this watery grave. The weight of the water pressed down on me, crushing me, as the rain increased its depth.

The feeling of drowning never left me. The feeling of panic, unable to take breath, to inflate my lungs. The slow filling of my larynx––gagging, coughing, briny water forcing its way through my nostrils and into my lungs like acid. I would drown and die, and after a moment of peace, the process began again.

A familiar recollection filled the void in my head, spinning memories of Beelzebub lying at the bottom of the Euphrates River bound in chains, disfigured by suffering and hate. Is that also to be my fate? Shall I become a grotesque monster wallowing in fear, self-loathing, and pain? A sharp, loud wail pierced my psyche, and I realized it was I who did the screaming.

Vashti Book Tour CLOSING BANNER BOTH BOOKS

Both books in the Fantasy Angels Series on sale for only 99¢/99p! Download your eBook today!

Purchase Link & Social Media:
Twitter (VashtiQV):  http://twitter.com/VashtiQV

 

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/vashti-quiroz-vega

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Vashti-Q-Author-Page-396515670465852/

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Vashti-Quiroz-Vega/e/B00GTXG5W4/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1540242966&sr=8-1

Son of the Serpent: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07HS4C3B7/

Thanks for supporting Author, Vashti Q. Vega on the release of her latest read, “SON OF THE SERPENT.”  To follow along with her tour, please visit the CURRENT EVENTS page of the 4WillsPub site.   To book your own virtual 4WillsPub blog tour, please visit us HERE!

Welcome to The Watch #RWISA Write Showcase Tour! Day 2.Rhani D’Chae @rhanidchae #RRBC

RWISA BLOG TOUR BANNER

Hello and Welcome to day 2 of the Watch Rwisa Write Showcase tour. My guest today is Rhani D’Chae.

rhani-dchae

I am a visually disabled writer who was born and raised in Tacoma, WA.  “SHADOW OF THE DRILL” is my first published novel and is the first in a series that revolves around and unrepentant enforcer and the violent life that he leads.

 

THE WEEK MY FATHER DIED

I was at work when my mother called to tell me that dad had been rushed to the hospital the night before, suffering from excruciating pain in his abdomen.

  Dad had been diagnosed with prostate cancer about fifteen years earlier and it had spread to other parts of his body, but he had been doing fairly well so there was no reason to anticipate something like this.

Mom told me that dad had spent quite a bit of time at the hospital while they ran numerous tests to discover the cause of his pain. Long story short, his kidneys were failing and there was nothing that could be done. He was sent home with a hospice nurse, so that he could be with his family in comfortable surroundings when the end came.

We rented a hospital bed and put it next to the front window so that he could see outside into the yard. We kept instrumental hymns playing on the stereo and moved mom’s chair closer to the bed so that she could be nearer to him.

And that’s when things started to get a little crazy.

James, my seeing eye son, was living with mom and dad at the time, and my sister, who I was living with at the time, drove out with me every day.  Gail, my other sister, also came out daily, as did her husband, her four children and their collection of young ones.

Gail’s grandkids were all under ten and did not really understand the severity of the situation. They knew that Papa was going home to see Jesus, but that was about as far as it went. Gail’s family had never lived close to mom and dad, so their kids only saw my parents three or four times a year. None of them had a close relationship with dad, so the thought of losing him did not rate overly high on their radar.

For five days, the kids ran through the house, slamming the doors and yelling to each other. Even when they were sent outside, the noise was loud enough to be heard everywhere in the house. Their respective parents would occasionally tell them to tone it down, but they were kids and that’s what kids do.

At one point, one of my nephews-in-law decided to commemorate the occasion by putting it on film. He videotaped everyone going to my father’s side and saying goodbye. Maybe it was the stress of the situation, but I didn’t like what he was doing. My father’s death was not a photo-op, and I resented anything that made it seem that way.

I remember being called into the living room and told to say something to dad. I had already spoken to him several times, telling him that I loved him and assuring him that mom would be taken care of. Having my niece’s husband dictate to me where to stand and how long to talk so that he could get it on film, was infuriating.

As six families moved through the house each day, my mother spent most of her time sitting with dad, reading the Bible to him and making the most of the time that remained. She loved having her family close, but as the days passed, I could see that the noise and constant disruption was getting to her. I did speak to my nieces individually on several occasions, asking if they could please keep the kids quiet, at least in the house. They always said they would, and I know that they meant it at the time, but it never happened. The noise, the chasing from room to room, and the constant interruptions into my parents’ private space, continued. I could see that it was upsetting my mother, and I finally decided to put my foot down.

I took my mom and Gail into the bedroom and asked mom what she wanted or needed. She thought about it for a long moment and then said, very simply, that she wanted to answer the phone. Either Gail or one of her daughters had been taking the phone calls and making a list of the callers. Mom wanted to speak to those people, most of them from her church, and was upset that she was not being allowed to do so. And she wanted the volume around her to be turned down to a much less disruptive level.

Gail said that she would take care of it, and she did. Within hours, her grandkids had been taken by their fathers to another location. I didn’t know where they went, and I didn’t much care. They were gone, the house was quiet, and that was all that mattered to me.

Later in the day, James, my other sister Sharon and I, took mom to Cold Stone for some ice cream. Dad was fairly unresponsive by then, so she felt that it was okay to take a little break.

We were gone for about an hour, and by the time we got back, everyone else was back as well. But at least mom had a few hours of uninterrupted time with dad, and I’m so grateful that the girls understood and were willing to do what was needed to give her that.

My father passed that night, surrounded by family and carried home on the sound of our voices singing his favorite hymns. Standing in a semi-circle around the bed, we held hands as we sang, while my brother-in-law, a minister, laid his hands on my father’s head and prayed him home.

As cancer deaths go, my father’s was fairly quick. He had been fully functional up until the night he went to the emergency room, enjoying his life without much discomfort. He avoided the long hospital stays and horrific pain that are so often a part of that kind of death. My aunt Gloria died of lung cancer when I was eighteen or so. I went to see her in the hospital, and I remember a shrunken figure in the bed, hooked up to monitors and numerous IV lines. Her time of dying took several long and torturous weeks, and I will always be thankful that my father was spared a similar end. I would have hated to have my last memory of this strong and vital man, be that of a wasted shadow of the man that he had always been.

I thank the Lord that it didn’t go that way.

#

Thank you for supporting this member along the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour today!  We ask that if you have enjoyed this member’s writing, please visit their Author Page on the RWISA site, where you can find more of their writing, along with their contact and social media links, if they’ve turned you into a fan.

We ask that you also check out their books in the RWISA or RRBC catalogs.  Thanks, again for your support and we hope that you will follow each member along this amazing tour of talent!  Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about this author:

RWISA AUTHOR PAGE: Rhani D’Chae

 

 

 

Contact Via:

Email:  RhaniDChae@gmail.com

Twitter:  @RhaniDChae & @RhaniDChaeBooks

Facebook:  https://m.facebook.com/rhanidchaeauthor/

Blog/Website:

Rhani D. Chae

Welcome to the WATCH “#RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour! Day 1 Guest Laura Libricz @LauraLibricz #RRBC

 

RWISA BLOG TOUR BANNERWelcome to the WATCH “#RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour! #RRBC

Say hello to today’s guest Laura Libricz.

Laura Libricz Author PIC

Laura Libricz was born and raised in Bethlehem, PA, and moved to Upstate New York when she was 22. After working a few years building Steinberger guitars, she received a scholarship to go to college. She tried to ‘do the right thing’ and study something useful, but spent all her time reading German literature.

She earned a BA in German at The College of New Paltz, NY, in 1991, and moved to Germany, where she resides today. When she isn’t writing she can be found sifting through city archives, picking through castle ruins or aiding the steady flood of musical instruments into the world market.

Her first novel, The Master and the Maid, is the first book of the Heaven’s Pond Trilogy. The Soldier’s Return and Ash and Rubble are the second and third books in the series.

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The Protective Plague

Laura Libricz

 

From the overlord’s house came a quiet but vicious argument. I walked past the stately, tiered structure, decorated with wooden carvings. The other houses circling the town square stood quiet: the midwife’s red wooden house built up on stilts; the iron workers’ blue housing complex and their adjoining workshop also built on stilts; the dark-brown community building, windows tightly shuttered.

I set my basket down in the middle of the square. The fountain marking the village center bubbled behind me. A mouse scurried around its stone base. The door of the overlord’s house slammed open and he appeared on the top step. A woman’s sobs came from inside the house. He raised his nose to the sky and sniffed at the air, his black, wiry hair standing on end. He approached the fountain, his black woolen cape fluttering behind him.

“The weather has changed,” the overlord said.

“You notice such things, Master?” I asked. “Today is the Turn of the Season; coupled with the full moon.”

“Yes, that is why you tie those wreaths of herbs,” he said. “Silly old traditions.”

“We will burn them at sunset on the Field of Fruition. These old traditions give the people comfort.”

“Your traditions have no power,” he said. “This year we initiate my new ritual. The One True Deity is not appeased with burning herbs.”

“What will appease your Deity then, Master? Burning flesh?”

The door of the red house squeaked open. The midwife flurried towards the fountain carrying a spray of reeds. Two red-haired daughters followed behind her. They carried baskets overloaded with sage and wormwood.

“Good day, Master,” she said, dropping her reeds at my feet.

Her black hair, not colored carefully enough, showed red roots at her scalp. I moved between her and the master, hoping he had not seen her hair, and gathered three reeds in my hands. I braided their stalks. Her daughters set the baskets down on the stone steps of the fountain and the midwife pulled both girls to her side.

“The workshop is quiet this morning.” I mentioned.

“The men have crossed the ford to the settlement beyond the Never-Dying Forest. They’ve taken our surplus of food and hope to trade. Years ago, the forest villagers made fabrics.”

The overlord chuckled. “Foolish men. No one lives beyond the water and the forest but barbarians. They don’t trade, they take.”

I held my braided reeds aloft. “Our petition tonight at the bonfire is to ask for the safety of all villagers involved, whether they come from Forest Village or Field Village.”

“There will be no bonfire tonight,” he said.

As if by the Master’s silent command, the double doors on the community building slid open. Five leather-clad men, adorned with weapons of glinting steel, took two steps forward. Five young women draped with dirty white shifts, hands and mouths bound, knelt behind their ranks. I recognized the midwife’s eldest daughter and the barrel-maker’s granddaughter.

“My new Turn of the Season tradition starts today.” The overlord nodded to the troop. The men grabbed each of the young women under the arms and dragged them into the square. They were forced to kneel on the stone steps by the fountain. The overlord’s daughter was also among them.

“These women will be taken against their will on the Field of Fruition. The One True Deity will come to accept the eggs as soon as they are fertilized. I will summon him. The women and their fruits belong to him. He will exalt them and admit them into his glorious mountain realm.”

I threw my reeds aside. “Our traditions and petitions are based on protecting our villagers, not sacrificing them.”

“These women are ripe. We have prodded them all. The One True Deity will have this offering.”

“Men cannot enter the Field of Fruition at the Turn of the Season. It will bring us harm so close to the coming winter.”

“Your foolish traditions cannot keep the furies of winter at bay. Harm will only come if one of these women becomes pregnant. That would prove her self-seeking nature, her desire to retain the fruits for herself. She will be executed.”

The midwife let out a shriek. The overlord stroked his daughter’s matted hair.

“If she becomes pregnant,” he said, “we will also know she enjoyed the act. She will have defied The One True Deity. Women cannot become pregnant when taken against their will.”

He took two steps forward, his face a breath away from mine. “These women can be saved. Here they are. Save them. Save them now but know this: four others will take their places. You shall be the fifth.”

He turned with a swish of his cape and, followed by his armed mob, disappeared into the community house.

The midwife and I unbound the women. Together we gathered the wreaths, all our herbs and reeds, and walked out of the square towards the Field of Fruition. The sky was overcast. Rains threatened. Two women and their children stood at the edge of the green field, bundling straw. They piled it neatly on a cart. Two other women whacked the lazy ox and the cart jerked into movement.

In the middle of the Field of Fruition, wooden planks stood in support of one another, forming an inverted cone. Mice scurried under my feet and under the cone. The planks were once an old barn. In its place we built a new one. Since the great flood, our village had prospered. We had practiced our Traditions of Gratitude ever since. I gave silent thanks for the abundance of grain that allowed even the mice to multiply.

“The moon is coming up over the trees,” I said. “We will start the fire now.”

The midwife scraped her knife on her stone and sparks flew into a pile of straw. She convinced the fire to burn and we fed the flames until the dried planks ignited. I raised my wreath of braided reeds over my head as mice scurried out from under the burning planks.

Our peaceful but preventive petition resonated between our practiced voices. We’d recited the verses many times and shuddered with the energy they held. I threw the wreath on the fire; sparks flew into the low storm clouds. More mice scurried over my feet. I looked down and the Field of Fruition was no longer autumn-green, but mouse-grey. A layer of mice had gathered, completely covering the Field–a protective plague insuring the fulfilment of our petitions of peace and gratitude. Well, this was not what I had in mind, but it would do. No ill-wisher would enter this field tonight.

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