Thursday, September 04, 2014

First paragraphs from Blackbirds First Flight

Heir to the Warrior Queen
By Wendy Blanton
I gripped the sword hilt in the pre-dawn gloom as I stood watch overlooking the sleeping village of Londinium. It wasn’t much of a village from what I had been able to see. Small, unprotected. Why would the Romans leave their trade center unprotected?
         A small scraping sound preceded warmth on my shoulders. My mother fastened the cloak under my chin and wrapped her arms around my shoulders. Her touch was the only one I could bear.
         "What are you still doing with that Roman sword, Scotta?"
         "I am going to kill Romans with it."

Robbing the House of Roche
By Kent Bass
He moved quickly through the crowded Parisian streets, keeping his head down, careful not to make eye contact with anyone, not to go any place familiar, not to give anyone a chance to recognize him. He knew he had to get out of the city and fast. He had hidden for two days and waited until tonight to come out. He had to be gone before the night ended.
         Etienne had always lived on the edge of society but always on the safe side of that edge. He never did anything that would draw attention to himself. He worked odd jobs and committed the occasional petty theft, but nothing serious.

By Gail Henderson
Nine o’clock.
         The book that had fascinated her at eight lay across her lap, face down, her hands rigid on its spine. Dark rage welled up inside her, filled her, and leaked out into the room, replacing wall-to-wall emptiness. With clenched teeth, she turned the book toward her face; her eyes straining to bring the words into focus, reading and re-reading the same paragraph, until, abruptly, she switched off the lamp next to her chair, placed the book on the end table, rose, and walked through the rage-dark room into the kitchen.
         She touched the light switch, illuminating a pan of cornbread and a pot roast cooling quietly on the stove and a few dirty dishes in the sink. Rage shrank back from her habit of orderliness. Rinsing out pans, wiping off counter tops already shiny dissipated her dark energy into apprehension. Nine o’clock was not so late. There might have been problems. Maybe a flat tire. He might not be able to call and tell her he was going to be late.
         What if there had been an accident?

By Jean Schara
Francois’s hand had been poised to open the door to his new employer when it opened, revealing a courtly gentleman decidedly out of place in this rundown industrial district.
         “Mr. Bergeron, I presume?” the man asked.
         “Yes. Please call me Francois.” He offered his hand for a hand-shake, hoping the gentleman would introduce himself, because he did not like being at a disadvantage.
         The man took his hand, guiding him into the building before releasing his grip and shutting the door behind them.

Grave Matters
By Stephen B. Bagley
The dead man on the blood-drenched bed had clearly seen better days. Justina Grave slowly approached the body. His heart had been cut out of his chest. Crow and raven feathers were scattered around the room along with other spell materials.
         “Charming,” she muttered. Her Nethersenses probed for signs of magic. She found many. Dark tendrils of energy hovered in the area, visible to any Mage. Something had fed on the victim’s life force and used that energy to power a spell.

By Tamara Siler Jones
Edyth stood in the shower, hot water thrumming on her aching head, the heat refusing to soothe her tortured soul. “I just can’t do this anymore,” she sighed through the steam. She scrubbed herself with a complete lack of enthusiasm, refusing to acknowledge her loose sagging stomach, her wide cellulite-dimpled thighs, jiggly arms, or her soft, jowly face. Still sighing, she finished her shower and turned off the heat.
          As Edyth toweled off, she told herself not to look in the mirror, but she sought out her shame anyway. She stared at her reflection, at the droops and rolls on the stranger staring back at her. The hideous person she had become gawked back, sickened disbelief carved into the fat. How did this happen? she asked herself. How did I become so ugly, so utterly repugnant? But maybe, just maybe, I’ve found a solution. Maybe my luck is about to change.

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