Friday, May 6, 2011

Feature Friday: Astraea Press Collaboration of a Short Story And Now We Shall End With Menstrual Cramps, Clucky and Hoodwinked

Well it's the end of the rode on this little short Astraea Press' authors put together for all our pleasure. Since it all started with three words we thought it would be only fitting to end it with three words. To go back and read it from the beginning hit part 1 and well you can figure out the rest. Also Kay Springsteen and Kim Bowman did Part four as well as this last installment. We thank all the AP authors who contributed to this endeavor.

Ellea’s head throbbed. She didn’t know how much more her body could take. Flashes of lights exploded behind her closed eyelids, making her dread the idea of opening them. Once again, voices filtered into her mind. Angry voices.

“Of all the idiotic things to do…I can’t believe you shot her.” Ellea stiffened. That voice. That nasty voice from earlier was back. Her throat tightened and she couldn’t breathe. When she tried to sit up, she realized she couldn’t move. Her whole body was paralyzed, immobile.

“He can’t answer you, remember?” the melodious female voice from before said. Why did she sound so familiar?

Ellea wanted to cry, but she couldn’t do that either. Deuce. What had these people done to him? What the heck was going on?

The pressure on her chest eased, but not enough to allow her to move.

“Deuce, if you think you can behave yourself and stop trying to kill everyone, I’ll release you,” the male voice said.

Ellea’s eyes flew open. The bright lights nearly blinded her. She turned her head to see the woman with the beautiful purple eyes standing to Deuce’s left. He stood stock still with the gun still aimed at the waterfall. Standing a few feet in front of her and off to the right was the man with long black hair, his hands on his hips. He raised his hand and flicked it.

Deuce stumbled back a few feet. When he regained his footing, he leveled his gaze on the male intruder, eyes blazing. He made to raise the gun, but the man’s words brought him up short.

“If you want to see Brian again, I wouldn’t do that.”

Deuce’s face paled. His hand fell to his side. “Where’s my son?”

Ellea’s heart broke for him. She wanted to go to him, to comfort him. With every ounce of strength she could muster, she held her hand out toward Deuce.

The woman gasped and hurried to Ellea’s side. “Elleanor!” She knelt down and placed her hand to Ellea’s chest. “How do you feel? Can you speak?”

She could if she weren’t too shocked. Who was this woman that looked so familiar? How did she know Ellea?

"Don't call me that. No one calls me Elleanor." Since she apparently had the equivalent of a molten boulder resting on her chest, Ellea had no idea why it seemed so important to make that point clear.

The purple-eyed woman raised her hands and hovered above the heaviness in Ellea's chest, and the searing pain with each breath lessened to a steady throb, then a mild ache. "What happened to me?"

"There was an accident," began the strangely familiar woman.

"You were shot," said the man with the mane of black hair.

"Why aren't you dead?" Deuce's voice cracked.

Ellea focused her gaze in his direction. Had she really felt sorry for him? Now she remembered. The waterfall, the electrical charges dancing on the colorful rocks. The explosion, the pain. She looked down and saw the blood on her blouse. So much blood she should have died by now. She swiveled a look at the woman with the purple eyes.

"I'd like to know the same thing. Why didn't I die?"

The woman did something else with her hands and mumbled a few words under her breath before she answered. "My name is Nuri. I've healed your wound."

Ellea moved her shoulder. No pain at all now.  She sat up. "I know you from somewhere . . .  your voice."

"My voice guides you when you need it to, keeps you safe." Nuri sighed and stood. "I suppose you could say I'm your spirit guide."

Ellea wanted to scoff at the notion but couldn't. The statement felt too plausible, too real. It explained so much about Ellea's life, she knew Nuri spoke the truth. She frowned, trying to comprehend it all as Nuri helped her sip from a cup of water. Where had the cup come from? Had she just dipped the water from that waterfall?

"Yeah, isn't this a sweet moment?" The unknown subject in the room paced like a sentry in front of the colorful waterfall. "We don't have time to play nice. Stesha is going to notice all this energy. She'll come for the boy. Soon." He stared into the gurgling water.

"If Nuri here is Ellea's spirit guide, then who the heck are you?" Deuce spoke up, his voice filled with suspicion and disbelief.

"My name . . ." The harsh man stopped pacing and turned to face Deuce. From her vantage point, Ellea could only see their faces in profile. "My name is Argent. But you know me as Satan."

Deuce's jaw dropped and he stared in silence.

Ellea choked on her water. "The llama?"  He turned in her direction and she peered into his face. The extra height, the mane of hair, the white streaks. It made crazy sense, and she narrowed her gaze, half expecting him to morph into that objectionable beast.

Argent cleared his throat. "Actually, I'm a totem." He swung his gaze back to Deuce. "Your totem."
Deuce opened his mouth to speak but Argent held up a hand and nothing came out.
"I'm sure you have questions and I'd love to give you the answers but we're pressed for time just now. Long story short, Nuri here is a spirit guide who helps humans, and I’m a totem, or a being who protects humans from supernatural harm," said Argent.
“This is crazy,” Deuce said. “Who are you people?”
“Think about it, Deuce. When did you get me? Roughly around the time you got divorced. About the same time that Selena went off the deep end. I was assigned to you to keep you and Brian out of harm's way.”
"Your son is safe." Nuri took up the story, her voice like the whisper of a breeze, settling over Ellea like a comfortable old blanket and bringing a sense of peace. "But he won't stay safe if we don't keep Stesha from getting him.”
 “Who?” Ellea and Deuce asked simultaneously.
“Stesha is an ashray. She’s a fairy who was punished for bringing harm to humans and was sentenced to live for all eternity in the depths of the sea,” Argent explained.
"What does this ashray thing want with my son?"
Argent and Nuri exchanged a look, but kept silent.
“Don’t even think of keeping something about my son from me. I still have a mind to blow your sorry brains out. My instincts are screaming that you’re the bad guy.” To further emphasize his point, Deuce raised the gun and leveled it at Argent’s head. “The only reason you’re still alive is because you saved Ellea’s life.”
Nuri touched her fingers to his arm and lowered it as she spoke. "She wants to use him to gain freedom from her watery prison. Your ex-wife was a fairy. She chose to give up her powers so she could live here on earth with you. No one was supposed to know…" Nuri’s voice broke and tears streamed down her eyes.
Argent picked up the story. “But you’re ex wasn’t very good at keeping her mouth shut. Especially after losing you. Stesha has many followers, such as the good Reverend Staff that you met, and once word got out that a fairy had given birth to a son who was half human, they were willing to kill to get him.”
“They did kill to get him,” Ellea reminded. “What I don’t get is why? What’s the motive?”
“The only way Stesha can be released from her watery prison is by taking the soul of a half-fairy half-human and using it to open the portal between the two worlds,” Nuri explained.
A thought jumped into Ellea’s head. Eli Stover had told them Deuce’s ex Mary Jo thought she was the only one who could save the world. And her obsession with Brian. She must have figured out what the church intended to do with him.
Deuce’s face drained of color. “My son—”
“Is safe for now. I’m sorry we had to keep him from you, but we couldn’t chance letting him be here as long as you had the waterfall. Stesha will figure out where it is any day now and if he’s anywhere near it, she’ll kill him,” Nuri said.
“There’s something else.”
Deuce and Ellea turned to face Argent. “How much more can there be?” Deuce asked.
“If Stesha is able to get her claws into Brian and gain her freedom, it will cause the portal to collapse, unleashing unspeakably evil creatures on humankind,” Argent said, his tone grave.
Ellea gasped. This was a bad dream. How could this be possible? The devil llama was enough evil for her.
“From that thing?” Deuce pointed the gun in the vicinity of the waterfall. “It’s fake. I built it—”
“Because your ex wanted you to,” Argent interjected.
Ellea watched as Deuce’s face started turning red, his chest heaving. “Are you implying that my son’s mother intended to sacrifice him to this ashray? Whatever her faults, she loved Brian.”
“I’m sorry, that’s not what I meant," began Argent.
"Selena missed her home world," continued Nuri, her voice soft. Ellea now understood the familiarity. That calming tone was exactly the voice she always thought of as her inner voice of reason. Only now it was being directed toward Deuce and working its reassuring magic on him. "She thought if she had the waterfall, she could travel there, see her family. She wanted to show Brian that part of his heritage."
Deuce paled again. "She would have taken my son to—what? Another world?"
Argent nodded once.
"Something obviously went wrong," prompted Ellea.
"The constant pull between the two worlds, her home world and her chosen world, drove Selena insane." Argent's voice softened.
The air over the waterfall began to crackle. Four heads turned in the direction of the gurgling water, which was rushing faster now. The kaleidoscope of color danced more wildly. 
“Argent! The portal is opening!” Nuri screamed.
“Oh my goodness. It’s our worst fear, it’s her. She’s coming.” Argent started shifting into his llama form.
Deuce raised the gun. “That thing isn’t getting my kid.” He pulled the trigger.
The door to the conference room swung open just as author Kay Springsteen hurled a paper airplane at the water cooler sitting in the corner. The plane caught Astraea Press owner Stephanie Taylor in the chest.
The room fell silent. Six pairs of eyes fixed on Stephanie. “What are you girls doing in here? Horseplay does not a story make. I'm already feeling clucky because of these menstral cramps so don't even think about pulling that Hoodwinked stuff on me!"

Author Jean Joachim cleared her throat. “Sorry, Stephanie. We’ll get your story for the blog finished. Don’t go having a litter of kittens.”

“Or a dragon,” Jilly Jenkins added, making everyone else snicker.

Except Stephanie, who crossed her arms and started tapping her foot. “Do I have to remind you girls that we have a deadline to meet?”

“Am I the only one who thinks Stephanie needs a vacation?” Becca Gomez Farrell asked sarcastically.

“I think we’re making Stephanie contemplate making a deal with the devil,” J. Gunnar Grey added.

“Hey, she should have known putting the six of us together was like letting the blind lead the blind,” Kay Springsteen said.

“Yeah, our spirit guides might keep us on the straight and narrow. Our muses on the other hand…” Kim Bowman supplied with a semi-apologetic shrug.

The girls started laughing.

Stephanie rolled her eyes. “Just get back to work. Now. Or I’ll sick Bri on you and you know how the DIVA hates to have to leave her tower.” With that she turned and walked out of the, mumbling something under her breath about smart-aleck authors and their wild imaginations. 

Thanks dang right the Diva aka me does not like to leave her tower! Except if my man comes by 


  1. Kim and I had so much fun doing this! We hope you enjoy!

  2. LOL. Love the picture of the office. Probably exactly how it would be! Thank you so much, Kay, for brainstorming with me. This was a blast. Can't wait to see what steph says:)

  3. You guys nailed me. :oP But I demand you take the picture of MY man down so others can't gawk. Bri, don't make me burn that tower down wiht you in it!