"You ought first to be tenderly kissed, and then afterwards, as tenderly whipped."
Excerpt from a private letter from Charlotte Bronte (author of Jane Eyre) to her very close friend who very trickily got her to accept the gift of a 'jar' of unspecified contents by sneaking it into her boxes before Charlotte left for home after a visit.
"You ought first to be tenderly kissed, and then afterwards, as tenderly whipped."
Wolf at the Door
an extract from a potential urban fantasy novel
Sara Jane, Mrs. Dalmore. Paused in front of the mirror hanging in the hall and adjusted the collar of her dress for the fifth time. She stepped back and stared herself up and down, taking in the neatly braided hair, the smooth makeup-less skin, and the caramel eyes and sparkled out of thick rimmed glasses.
Her concentration was broken by a tremendous thump from the second floor of the three story ranch and an immediate yell of, "Nothing broke!"
Sara Jane took a deep breath and adjusted her dress over her growing belly.
"You can do this," she muttered.
She tried to push away the still stinging memory of the disdainful looks the next door neighbor had cast at her midsection and the two siblings who had accompanied her that day. She definitely wasn't thinking about the cooing voice of the next neighbor who had passed her that pamphlet on family planning. She gritted her teeth.
"Focus," she muttered, "not everyone in this neighborhood can be an ignorant urbanite." She snatched up the pie, fresh-baked, her beloved's secret recipe. Mental note, seduce recipe out of him this spring. She balanced the pie on one hand and checked her nails on the other. Flawlessly pink and white. With her best smile on she swept out of the front door and headed left. Away from the houses where she and already shaken the dust from her feet.
A wolf whistle split the air. "There goes one hot Mama!" Crowed her husband.
Sara Jane rolled her eyes and spared a glance at the man who, four children later still made her heart beat a little faster. He was flat on his back on the lawn with two small boy's astraddle his chest. They were squealing in disgust at his comments and demanding that he get back to the important business of wrestling.
"I'll be back soon sweetie," Sara Jane called.
The next house was a glaringly pink mini-ranch. Probably a decade or two older than the rest in the subdivision. Sara Jane had to admire the...energy that went into all the obviously handmade decorations. She listened to the comforting sound of the rabbit hutch that must sit behind the fence and breathed in a lungful of the earthy smell of the garden they lived in. She was completely relaxed by the time she reached the door covered in ASPCA stickers. She reached up and knocked on the door, no ringer, and waited. There was no way this woman was some cold eyed office drone.
The door swung open with a wash of incense and cookies and Sara Jane froze the words on greeting stalled on the tip of her tongue.
"Oh hello!" the other woman greeted her brightly. Her watery green eyes stared out of eyeliner that seemed to have been inspired by roaring twenties misconceptions of Egyptian culture. Or possibly Gene Simmon's KISS. she wore skintight, leopard print leotards, a tight black tank top, and a dog collar studded with inch long spikes. Her bare arms were toned and wrinkled by decades of sun. and ended in neon orange fingernail polish.
Sara Jane cut a frantic glance at her own fingernails, opaque and curving. She tightened her smile over her canines and said as smoothly as she could.
"Hi, new neighbors. I brought pie," She immediately cursed herself for how utterly lame that sounded.
But the woman's eyes lit with pleasure and she gestured Sara Jane inward.
"Oh! I have been meaning to come and see you! I'm Helga, and I love pie. What kind?"
"Husband's secret recipe," Sara Jane said gathering herself as she walked into a room of crystal pendants, beaded curtains, and at least thirty crucifixes prominently mounted on the walls.
"Oh, a man who bakes," Helga said shooting Sara Jane a sly look. "Did you ever score!"
"I did," Sara Jane admitted warming a bit. Eccentric. This lady might be eccentric but she was warm.
Helga ran her eyes calculatingly up and down the Sara Jane as she set the pie on the table and nodded with a grin.
"Well it looks like he scored too," Helga said.
Sara Jane laughed and sat down in an ancient leather armchair.
"So you keep a backyard rabbit hutch?" Sara Jane asked as Helga produced plates and forks for the pie.
"Oh yes," Helga said brightly. "Though the silly girls around here don't like it much. Do you like to keep rabbits?"
"Oh we hope to get the kids involved in 4H," Sara Jane replied nodding. "We only have three quarters of an acre though so rabbits were logical."
"Well mine are special friends for Fluffy," Helga explained as she handed Sara Jane a plate.
"Fluffy?" Sara Jane sniffed the air. She didn't smell any other mammal in the house.
Helga jerked her head to the side and led them into the next room. Sara Jane was just taking a bite of pie and had the spoon in her mouth when her fangs fully extended in shock. There , in an aquarium that filled half the room, was a python that must have been twenty feet long. Her tail lashed under her dress twice before it stilled.
"Yes," Helga crowed at the animal, thankfully giving it all her attention while Sara Jane retracted her ears. "Fluffy just loves rabbit!"
"Lovely," Sara Jane whispered.
Well, my choices are between nice and normal. I guess nice it is.
Have you ever wanted a glimpse into what the world looks like to a fantasy writer? Where did Mr. Toad come from in "The Wind in the Willows"? Where did Peter Rabbit come from? The authors "saw" them, and then they brought them alive for the rest of us. A posse of animators have decided to give us all a glimpse of that world that the creative see. It is only slightly exaggerated.
"She was our favorite substitute teacher in school! We liked her so much we bought her a spider! A cute little Rose Tarantula to replace the one of hers that died."
Alas poor Rose...she will be missed.
Frogs are loud tonight. Very loud. Read a book to drown them out.
Humans are Weird – Petting It
The setting red sun caught in every branch of the primordial forest and cast its diffused glow on the already red fur of Prince Triclick. He was currently adjusing a milky white apron so it sat more easily over his wings. His companion, half his size and several shades lighter, not to mention bearing none of the battle scars that crossed and recrossed Triclick’s war worn flesh, gazed at him with skepticism pouring out of his beady black eyes.
“You,” the flight second said. “You, are going to be a nurse?”
Triclick hissed in passive irritation as he pulled out a tin of polish to add a little scented shine to his three remaining sensory horns, and ease the ever present pain in the five stumps.
“No,” he said firmly. “I am simply volunteering my off hours to give aid and comfort to our allies who have sacrificed so much to our cause.”
“Oh I would never question how much we owe the humans,” the flight second said grimly. “Granted they gained from this campaign too but we would have never reclaimed this world without them.”
“So you sound my depth,” Triclick said. His voice distorted slightly as he examined his teeth, still needle sharp he thought proudly, in the reflection on the back of his tin.
“They call us Hellbats,” the flight second said bluntly. “I have seen humans who have been allies for months burst out screaming when a flight breaks from the ground in front of them. We literally,” he held up his wing claws for emphasis, “resemble nothing so much as the messengers of their underworld.”
“Your point?” Triclick asked blandly as he checked his appearance on more time.
“What,” the flight second demanded, “in the name of the First Flight makes you think that the presence of our most feared warrior would offer injured humans any comfort at all? Most likely they will just sit there in mortal terror and fear of offending you.”
“One would think,” Triclick admitted. “But that has not been the result observed by the medics.”
Before the flight second could respond Triclick leapt off of the branch they had perched on and flew in lazy spirals towards the tent on the forest floor marked with a bold red cross. The flight second hissed and followed him. However there was no chance to begin the conversation again before they fluttered to a stop outside of the insect repelling netting. They slipped through the barrier and landed on the massive desk that served the human medics. The one on duty smiled up at them from his paperwork and waved them in.
There was only one human in the medical ward today the flight second saw. A young human, one of the new batch he supposed. From the pale tint of his face and the audible gurgling from his abdomen he had been bedridden for some digestive malady. The flight second grimaced but Prince Triclick flew fearlessly up to the human and landed on the edge of the bed. As the flight second had expected the human started violently at seeing Triclik.
“Greetings friend Smithson!” Triclick said, dipping his head as he landed. “Are you ready to begin your therapy again?”
To the flight second’s surprise the agitation almost immediately left the human’s face and he nodded eagerly.
“Sure thing Commander-“ The human began.
“Ah, sttttt,” Triclick hissed in remonstrance.
“Right, right, no ranks in here,” the human said with a laugh.
“One mustn’t offend the medics,” Triclick quoted in all seriousness. “Now, let’s begin.”
He hopped over and laid himself flat out on blanket that covered the human’s knee. The human reached out a hand hesitantly and then gently lowered it to stroke the exposed length of fur between Triclick’s scared wings. The flight second watched in astonishment as the human relaxed back against his pillows with a happy sigh as he continued stroking the fourth in line to the throne.
“Now where was I,” Prince Triclick began when the human seemed to have achieved a proper paced. “Ah yes, Five-trills and the second prince of the golden cliffs. Now it was the latter days of the great migration.”
The flight second blinked in astonishment for a moment then shook his head. Triclick had always been a bit of an odd one. But how was he going to explain this in his report? One didn’t just upend two decades of xeno-psychology research with a field note that says, and they like petting furry things.
The sun lays warm on the fields.
Last falls leaves are gently crumbling away into earth.
The ducks have never seen a pond before and throw themselves in in ecstasy.
Megatron is pleased with the seven new hens but stressed over Frederic.
Frederic has never been this vocal, this happy, the woman says.
The rescue is complete. the birds have found their forever home and they are pleased.
The people exchange a small bit of money and words of thanks.
Already the pond is thirty percent clear of algae.
The frogs quake in fear.
The dogs are contained until that new bird smell wears off and he can greet them with less than loving ecstasy.
Also the duck printer ran out of toner.
He knows. What is more the audience knows he knows. That knowledge could deeply disrupt the five-man-band. It might tear them apart, it might bring them closer. But he knows, and he isn't telling them for some reason. A reason unknown to the audience. Is he a villain? Or a protector?
It is a very common trope in every genera from Arthurian romance to hard science for secrets to be kept. One character keeps a secret from another. A government keeps a secret from the populous. Most of the cast keeps a secret from an individual An secret is kept across ages due to people simply forgetting. . A secret is revealed in moments because a character can't stop talking. Secret keepers are portrayed as honorable, horrible, dishonest, just trying, or completely in command.
But usually, keeping a secret involves some dishonesty and dishonor. There is some stain on the secret keeper's soul even if they have the best of intentions.
So here is a question. What is the best reason to keep a secret? What motivation provides the most honorable position for the character?
Betty Adams is an up and coming author with a bent for science and Sci-fi.