Reading someone’s blog about Flash Fiction, and figured I should post something myself. So here’s something I wrote a while back. What it actually is is the backstory for one of my Role Playing characters, but it made a nice little story in and of itself. It’s a little over the 1000 words, but hey, this is my blog and I’ll do what I want, right? Write.

* * *

Once upon a time there was a very unhappy young woman. She was so very unhappy that she left her home and her family, and set off across America. She took on odd jobs as she went; waitressing in greasy diners and dirty bars, stayin’ wherever she could find a bed. And she did what she had to do to survive.

One night she was sittin’ in a little bar in some podunk town in the middle of America, nursin’ a beer, when the door opened and in walked this long drink of water in jeans and boots and leathers. Had on a black t-shirt that fit him just fine, and a long skinny rat-tail of a braid hangin’ all the way down to his ass. When she raised her head and looked up, there he stood in the doorway, lookin’ right back at her. Lookin’ right in her eyes. And he just kinda smiled.

Now he could’ve sat anywhere in that bar, but he come over and sat on the stool right next to her, back up against the rail and his elbows on the bar. He looked over at her and smiled, looked down at the bottle in her hand and said, “Whatcha drinkin’?”

She looked over at him, looked at her beer, looked back, and said, “Whiskey.”

Well, he smiled, kinda lazy like, and then he leaned his head back over the bar and said, “Bartender –let’s have some whiskey f’me an’ the lady.” Bartender came over, set up two shots and poured, and wandered off. The biker sat up a little, reached over and took that beer right out of her hand, and drank down just exactly half. Then he put it back in her hand, picked up the shot and knocked it back, and waited.

She looked him up and down, and kinda nodded, picked up the beer, and drank the rest. Then she took the other shot, tossed it back, and set the glass back down on the bar. And he just kinda smiled.

Door opened again, and in come two more men in braids and jeans and boots and leather. First one looked over and said, “Hey, Matt!”

Matt tipped his head and said, “Hey, Tommy. Hey, Billy Lee.”

Other one grinned and said, “Hey, Matt! Who you got there?”

Matt said, “This my new girl, Whiskey.”

They both nodded their heads and said, “Hey, Whiskey,” and she looked back and said, “Hey, Tommy. Hey, Billy Lee.”

And she rode with them nigh on ten years, and they always treated her like a friend, and they never treated her other than like a lady.

Till one night they were sittin’ in a little bar in some podunk town in the middle of America. Matt and Tommy were playin’ pool, and Tommy’s girl Carly was watchin’, leanin’ against the wall sippin’ a beer. Billy Lee and his girl Francie were sittin’ at a table, and Whiskey was waitin’ at the bar for their drinks.

Down the other end of the bar was a skinny little man, looked like a salesman, wearin’ a shiny suit. He’s sittin’ there all hunched together like he was afraid all them big, bad bikers were gonna jump him, watchin’ ‘em in the mirror behind the bar.

Whiskey was sittin’ there at the bar when the door opened and in walked this dude. Big dude. Hair might’ve been blond, but it was cut shorter’n peach fuzz. Whiskey turned a little, lookin’ at him, all muscle and mean, and knew she was lookin’ at trouble.

There he stood in the doorway, lookin’ round the bar. He saw Matt and Tommy, saw Carly, and Francie, and Billy Lee, and then he looked right at that skinny little man in the shiny suit. Now he could’ve sat anywhere in that bar, but he come over and sat on the stool right next to that skinny little man, so close that he knocked into him, spilled his beer all over the bar. That skinny little man jumped up off his stool, startin’ to holler, got a look at the dude and started to apologize.

Big dude got off his stool, reached out, and grabbed that little man by the collar of his shirt, lifted him right off his feet and pinned him against the wall.

Matt put down his pool cue with a snap, and stood up straight. “Hey, man,” he said, friendly like, “It’s all good. How ‘bout you let me buy you a beer?”

Big dude never moved a muscle holdin’ the skinny guy, just turned his head real, real slow to look at Matt. “Fuck you,” he said, clear and hard and cold.

Matt started walkin’ forward, slow and easy like, and Tommy followed after, bein’ cool. “Yeah, man,” Matt said, “but hey, he didn’t mean nothin’ by it. C’mon, I’ll buy you two beers.”

The big dude just stared at him for a minute, and then he turned his head back around, lookin’ at the skinny guy. He set him down gentle, let go his collar, and smoothed it down like to get the wrinkles out, and patted him on the chest like he was apologizing. It was all real slow, everybody movin’ real slow and gentle, no hurry.

And then everything got real fast.

That big dude, he moved fast, real fast, reachin’ for Matt and Tommy, and wood was breakin’ and Carly screaming. Billy Lee shoved his chair back so hard it fell over, and Francie ran for the wall. Bartender slid down the bar, grabbin’ for the phone and somethin’ underneath, and the skinny guy was out the door like he’d never been there.

Next thing Whiskey remembered she was sittin’ on the floor with Matt’s head in her lap, and the big dude lyin’ next to him, dead. She was strokin’ Matt’s hair, tryin’ to keep the blood out of his eyes. He looked up at her and kinda smiled, and he said, “I love you, Whiskey.”

She said, “I love you, Matt,” but he was already gone.

Whiskey never did remember what happened that night. All she remembered was it all happened so fast.

But in my dreams… in my dreams, I feel that pool cue in my hands. I see that big dude standin’ there, and I wake up when I feel the shock run up my arms when I broke his skull.

* * *

Off the Grid and Lost – Danny Ryder

I figure it’s time you meet someone else on Thanah – one of the Gathered, Danny Ryder. He starts out as a bad boy – an ex-con, one with a desperate need to belong to something, a gang, whatever. So long as they’ll have his back, he’ll have theirs. But things don’t work out the way he planned… and he realizes there’s someone he wants to protect.

Month 5, day 26 – 186 days on Thanah

somewhere in the House

Nobody seemed to know where Ryder was lately, not his bad-ass homeboys, nor the Ouroi. He showed up for his work shift every day, looking rougher than usual but doing his job with a dogged focus. Just sort of keeping his head down, like he was thinking hard while doing something else. Shift done, he’d ghost over to the dining hall and eat—and then disappear off the House radar. Since in general no-one was much interested in looking for him, no-one much missed him either. His pack could care less—Roach was still pissed at him over the stupid kid, and the others found it safer to follow Roach’s lead rather than risk crossing him anyway. Still, even Roach wondered every once in a while where Ryder’d got to, in an annoyed, sort of missing-having-a-whipping-boy kind of way.

Where he was, was lost. Something—or someone—had poked him in a place he’d thought long dead, and now he was trying to figure out if this was a good thing or a bad thing. It had been a very long time since he’d thought about anyone but himself, and now he couldn’t seem to think about anyone else but her.

He didn’t really know why yet, hadn’t figured it out, but ever since he’d talked to the redhead in the back hall she’d been sort of there in the back of his mind. How she’d given him his space, coming on him like that. How she’d listened, really listened, to what he’d said; had seemed to believe him. How she’d caught on so quick that he had to cover himself, caught the ball and didn’t fumble. There was something to her that stuck in his mind like a sandbur and wouldn’t let go.

There was something going on with her, too, something big, something that when he thought about it set his teeth on edge like biting into a piece of tinfoil. She didn’t dress or act like a skank or a ho, but there was still the rumor in the House that she had some guy outside, real rough trade. But it didn’t fit with what he saw of her, and he couldn’t figure how anyone else could believe that. So something was going down, and she was deep in the middle of it.

Jimmy Spitz, a young kid he’d met in the House that was also from Brooklyn, he worked in the gym and he said she was in there like three-four hours every day, working out like a crazy person with some guy Arvanis and that security guy, Sinclair. Said they were teaching her all sorts of stuff he’d never seen before—not just karate stuff but wrestling and boxing and like that.

He’d learned she went out every two weeks with the Keeper, Kanti, but then Kanti came back alone every time and the redhead came back hours later all beat to shit and looking like she’d been run over flat by a garbage truck. Now maybe the word was true and she had some rough trade going—but those hours in the gym said something else to Ryder. That kind of drive said obsession to him, that there was something so big in her mind that was worth taking that kind of punishment.

He remembered back to that day in the dining hall when she’d laid the smackdown on him. She’d been beat all to shit like they said, and looked like she’d been through six kinds of hell. She’d hit him like a piledriver, looking crazy, freakin’ like she was on drugs. Now he was thinking it was something else—something worse, something sick. He knew a girl who’d been gang-raped, back home. She’d had that same look in her eyes, got the same freak on if somebody touched her when she didn’t see it coming. He’d heard she’d walked off a subway platform in front of an inbound.

The redhead, though—she was taking it the other way, fighting it, trying to make herself stronger, strong enough to take whoever was doing—whatever—to her.

The only thing he couldn’t figure out was why. There had to be a reason why someone would go out on purpose to take that kind of shit, and keep going back.

Maybe if he could figure out why, he could get her out of his skull and get back to his damn life.

* * *


Enodia is one of the titles of Hekátē, the Lady I call Mother Night. It means “of the Ways,” and means that She is the protector of the paths, whether of the physical means of travel or of the choices we make that determine the course of our life. Hekátē is the patron of Choices. and the one who shows us the way.


You of the crossroads
Bringer of light-in-darkness
Show me the way.
Maiden of mysteries
Mother of choices
Mistress of wisdom
You, who lights the way
From the past to the choice
And the path not taken.
Guide my path
When I have lost my way;
Lend me your wisdom
To make the best choice.
May my destiny and my goal
Be one and the same.

9/30/13; completed 10/31/13

Once again, time got away from me. I looked at my blog and realized that my last post was MONTHS ago. How does it get to be months? It was only just Christmas, and I still haven’t mailed my gifts to my brother and sister-in-law!

This time around, I’m setting up a new category: Prayers. Pretty much self-explanatory, there. The prayers are addressed to those Powers I look to: Hekátē, Athēna, and Hermēs, as well as others of Divine Nature.

Just for clarity’s sake, let me say this: I believe GOD (the Divine, the Highest Power, whatever you conceive that to be) has two natures and ten thousand names. Our human minds are too limited to perceive that Power in its entirety, and so we create  a persona that fits what we need. Call it an Aspect, an Avatar, whatever; it is what we can relate to in the moment of our need.

Enough late night babbling.


Winter Peace

Shining Star

Just a
at this time
of year…
Man needs the
spiritual in his life.
It matters not if he is
religious or atheist or agnostic,
the spirit of man needs
the nourishment of holiness
and the rest of its peace.
The deep midwinter is the
natural time for that holy season:
in earlier times, man rested from the labor
of the rest of the year and took that time
of the long nights
to cherish his family and friends,
to celebrate their survival through another
year, to mourn those who had gone ahead, and
to contemplate the meaning of his life and its
relationship to all other lives.
The religions of the times – all of them –
understood this contemplation and the need that
engendered it, and thus do many religions mark this season
as the birth of the year, the birth of hope ~
the birth of holiness.
They encourage the fellow-feeling and generosity,
and espouse the all-encompassing wish for peace.
Whether one celebrates the Winter Solstice,
the Feast of Lights, Kwanzaa, or Christmas, the message is the same:

Peace on Earth, Good Will to All!

I wish you all the blessings of the season, and all the joys that you deserve.

Varina Suellen Plonski


Why I Do What I Do

~ And maybe why you should care…

Ran across a blog post today by Kimberly Grabas on Your Writer Platform. The article is about marketing your book and building your writer platform.


I read it through, and was all set to comment when I tripped over my own response from back in 2013! <blush> Didn’t recognize the article, didn’t remember it at all ’til I saw my own icon…

I was just as impressed on this read-through as I had been on the last, but this time I went farther than before. This time, I had the time to form some answers to the questions Kimberly had posed.

Her questions were based on Simon Sinek’s book, Start With Why – specifically, his concept of the Golden Circle. Here are her questions and notes:

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”. ~Simon Sinek, Start With Why
For the average writer, this is their Golden Circle:
What you do: write fiction, non-fiction, novellas, articles, poetry, web copy and so on.
How you do it: your difference from your competitors; in marketing speak, it’s your unique selling proposition, or what makes your work distinct from other writers in your field.
Why you do it:
o A purpose or belief. It’s why you get up at 5am to squeeze in your daily word count; why you write around your day job, family and other obligations; why you write, despite the pitying looks from new acquaintances when you reveal “I am a writer”.
o It is the meaning and message behind your work.
o The piece to the puzzle that you need to solve, that, once determined, eliminates the need to continually try to differentiate yourself.
Will your ‘why’ resonate with all possible audiences?
No. But those it does meld with will be your rabid fans, your community, your tribe.
Without clearly expressing why you are doing what you do, you are left with trying to prove your advantage or significance based on marketing tactics alone.

I thought about this for a while, as well as reviewing the comment I’d originally responded to, and came up with this:

What I do: I write stories involving people facing seemingly impossible odds.
How I do it: I do it by writing stories of people who find within themselves the strength to persevere, even if they see no hope of winning.
Why I do it: I do this because my stories show that G. K. Chesterton is right – that monsters exist, but also that monsters can be killed. That if one person can make it through, then someone else can make it through. My message is that of empowerment.

My best stories have started from dreams I’ve had. Dreams from which I’ve woken with a feeling that did not let me go – not that day, nor for days afterward. Dreams that gave me a character and a situation, but no other information other than the knowledge that I wouldn’t be able to leave it alone until I started writing and found out the rest of the story.

I guess I might call them “stress dreams,” because they seem to come in my life when I am under a great deal of stress. Perhaps it is the Universe – or my Muse – telling me “It’s going to be alright. Just hang in there and keep on the way you’re going, you’ll make it through.” And usually I do. Maybe because I stop obsessing about my stressful situation and start focusing on the story I’m discovering? Who can say?

But the point remains ~ my characters are battered and brutalized by the villain and by the life around them. They face horrible situations and impossible odds. They often cannot see their way through – but they absolutely refuse to stop, because they know that if they do, worse will happen. They know, deep in their bones, in the core of their soul, the truth of the quote attributed to Edmund Burke: “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” And so they stand up, one more time, bloody but unbowed, and they stand between. They stand between evil and the innocent, because they cannot do anything else. They stand between, knowing that it may be “over my dead body” – but promising that they will by God take an honor guard.

And because they do, others come to join them. To help them. To empower them – and thus, to empower themselves as well. Because that kind of courage sets an example, and draws others to their cause. And soon, my characters find that they’re no longer alone, that they’re not Sisyphus, pushing a boulder up hill. Soon, there are others adding their strength to theirs. And that is how they win.

I write, because as Stephen King says, I can’t not write. But what I write, and why I write – that comes from a quote by Kim McManus.

Tell Your Story

If this resonates with you, I hope you will check out what I’ve written on this blog under the header “my words.” And I hope you’ll let me know what you think.

‘Cause okay, yes – I admit I could use the encouragement… 😉


Month 3, Day 32 – 112 days on Thanah ~ House Kel Arain, the atrium

I figured it was time to post another snippet from my magnum opus, House of the Black Dog. Can you tell that, even though Ari Dillon is my protagonist, Deimo Agisiou is my favorite character?

* * *

The Master was agitated, that was evident. Deimo could hear him prowling back and forth in the atrium; a wonder in itself, when as a rule he could appear from anywhere and no-one hear him coming. Prowling, and muttering—never a good sign. Deimo would be on his guard now every moment until well after his Master was in for the night; one never knew what might set him off when he was like this, it could so easily turn ugly…

“Deimo!” His Master’s voice crackled with vexation, and Deimo moved quickly to respond, presenting himself in the atrium. It didn’t look good; Khamasur’s hair was in disarray, as though he had thrust his fingers through it and tugged every which way, and his robe hung askew.


“What is she doing?” Even his Master’s voice was off; a rasping growl where normally it was smooth, effortlessly controlled, showing nothing save what he chose to put there. “I don’t know what she’s doing!”

“Who, Master?” Deimo asked, quietly cautious—though he had a fair idea who.

Khamasur spun on him, half into a fighter’s crouch, and Deimo was hard put not to flinch at the sudden savagery. “That—that—woman, that laika, that—red-headed witch!” Khamasur spat, fighting to get the words out, enraged because they wouldn’t come. “That—Ari! Ari Dillon!” Khamasur visibly relaxed, having finally trapped the elusive words, and some of Deimo’s tension eased back as well. Sometimes, when his Master fought with words like that, his anger went to rage and beyond; this time it seemed he’d fought and won, and was content. Deimo relaxed more as Khamasur looked at him, and he saw his Master’s eyes were clearing again, the irises rimmed with smoky gray and the pupils normal. “Why are you here?”

Deimo bowed, careful and precise. “You called for me, Master.”

Khamasur stared at him for a long moment, eyes glittering; his body remembering rage while his mind had already forgotten it. “I called you.” He still breathed harshly, nostrils and lips tight and face gone to sharp planes and angles. Abruptly he turned and flung away across the atrium, shrugging his robes straight as he went. At the desk he snatched up his wine cup, took the pitcher and splashed some inside, and then took it down in one long swallow, his motions still sharp with agitation. He filled the cup again and set the pitcher down with a hard thump and froze for an instant, then picked it up and set it down again with precisely moderated care. “What is she doing?” he asked again, his words sharp-edged as glass. He turned in place as he spoke, eyes narrowed and fixed on Deimo’s, making it a demand for his response.

Deimo chose his words with care. “Master, you know I haven’t the breadth of knowledge you do. I couldn’t speculate, and I wouldn’t dare advise you.” He shook his head, watching his Master’s eyes. “I can only speak from my own experience.”

Khamasur gestured with his wine cup, the motion controlled and smooth. “Go on.”

“You will have taken steps to verify what the woman has told you.” Deimo’s tone made it clear it was not a question, and Khamasur’s cold expression confirmed it. Again he gestured for Deimo to continue. The Armsman gave a half shrug, and went on diffidently. “If what the woman told you is confirmed, but the results are still not what you expect, then there must be something missing, something we don’t know, that is affecting the outcome.”

“Something she’s not telling me…” Khamasur’s voice was dark with suspicion, and his eyes began to pale. He stalked slowly across the atrium, pacing, and Deimo could see he was working his way up again to a real rage, a rage that could spell trouble for the House now, or for Ari Dillon later. He had to head it off.

“It’s possible…” he murmured, his tone thoughtful, and Khamasur rounded on him.

What’s possible?”

“It may not necessarily be a deliberate omission, Master. It may be something she doesn’t know herself.” Deimo raised his head and met Khamasur’s eyes, face impassive. ‘Gods bless, steer him away from her, make him think it through!’ He could no more stop Khamasur in his wrath than a karoukha, but sometimes a diversion… “If she only has limited access to his business affairs, then there will be aspects that are not available to her—and thus not to you.” Once again, the half shrug. “Perhaps the question should not be, ‘What is she doing,’ but ‘What is he?‘ ”

Khamasur stopped pacing, arrested, his agile mind racing. Deimo waited; passive, calm. Abruptly, Khamasur swept into motion, going back to his desk and seating himself. “You may be right,” he said, and Deimo drew a cautious breath. Khamasur’s words were cool and precise once more, his movements smooth and controlled. “A different perspective is always valuable. I may have been looking at it too closely; I shall have to look at all the Black Dog’s actions, not only those she’s told me of.” His voice went pensive as he bent his head and scribbled notes on his slate. “See if something suggests itself…” He flicked his fingers, not looking up, and Deimo bowed and left the atrium.

* * *

Deimo felt a shiver deep inside as he took up his post in the side hall. His Master was back on balance, calm and thinking again, but for how long? Such respites were chancy at best. And who knew where he would take the suggestion Deimo had offered?

It came back to the woman, Ari Dillon. The offer he’d made her a day ago—that was a shock. What had he intended? An alliance, a liaison, even a marriage? How could he think she would accept such a thing, after what had gone before?

If his Master thought it was a way to control her, he had no idea what he was doing. The woman was stronger than Khamasur knew; the fact that she kept coming back should have told him that. To deliberately choose to come back to his hands, to the abuse and the degradation he put her through, all to protect a child not even of her House? That spoke a strength of will and purpose the equal of his own—something he might possibly recognize in another, but never understand.

Deimo shook his head, thinking. He had to admire the woman’s strength—her will, her character, and yes, physically as well. His Master was wrong about her, though. The scars he’d seen on her body were not from fights; no fight put such regular scars on someone’s arms. They were not defensive scars, either; those were deliberately inflicted. Someone had held her arms, and cut, and cut, and cut. Nor had she flinched or pulled away—the scars were not ragged or tailed off; they were drawcuts, equally deep and evenly spaced. The other scars, as well. Bite marks, burns… all deliberate. No, those were not from fights, they were torture. Someone had held her, done those things to her, where she could not fight back.

Once again, Deimo shook his head, lips pressed thin. Almost he asked what kind of person could do such a thing—but he already knew the answer. Knew it, because he lived with it every day of his life…

The last scar he recognized as well; a surgical scar on her abdomen, straight and deliberate, bracketed on either side with small scars from sutures. That was where she had been neutered. He wondered if that had come before or after the others, but he wagered it was after. What had she been through? Another wager—that whatever it was, it was that which had given her the strength to endure all this.

To what end, though?

The question his Master had posed was key—what was she doing? Not for the first time, Deimo considered this. It was more than just to protect the girl, Shanyse; of that he was certain. But what other goal motivated her, he hadn’t a clue. There was something about her, though. Something that crawled under the skin and gripped hard, something that made him want to—what? To help? To protect her? To fight for her? He had too much to protect already, and even if he dared, what could he do?

She’d gotten under the Master’s skin in a big way as well; he couldn’t let her go. Whatever scheme he was pursuing now, he wouldn’t turn her loose when it was over, that was not in the stars. He would make use of her until he had what he wanted, and when her usefulness was at an end he would break her, body, mind, and soul, until she was no use to anyone, not even herself.

He had seen it before. Watched it happen just as helplessly then as now, and he felt something inside him die just a little more each time he brought her back.

The stylus in his hand snapped with the sound of dry bones breaking, and he stared down at the pieces with hopeless eyes.

* * *