Friday, November 27, 2009

Undercover Cat

As I went to put my freshly-laundered sheets on my bed, I found Luna sleeping in the middle of the bare mattress. So I put the fitted sheet on right over him, thinking he would run away.

He didn't. He's still there, happy as a furry clam. I can't decide whether to finish making the bed. I think with the extra layers heaped on top, he'd be even more warm and comfy, and he might stay for hours.

"Put that sheet back down, silly human. You're letting all the heat out."

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Turkey Moon

Last year, I wrote "A Vampire's Thanksgiving." I had planned to leave it at that, but this weekend, I was inspired to write a sequel. Be warned: it's ridiculous. Thanks to my friend Katherine for proofreading. So, without further ado, here is . . .

Turkey Moon

by Anj

Still a few hours until her friends arrived to pick her up. They had talked her into going to see New Moon, even though she really didn't want to. She just couldn't get into that series. Real vampires weren't sexy, and they most certainly did not sparkle.

"Gah! Dead again!" The shout came from across the room, and Annie looked up to see her family's pet vampire frustratedly gnawing on the video game controller. "Game over" glowed on the TV screen in ghostly white letters.

He'd moved in last Thanksgiving. Apparently he'd been her mom's childhood friend, so he was in his forties, even though his body was frozen at age twelve. He was pale as a vanilla milkshake, both his skin and his hair. His eyes glowed maraschino cherry red. Several bats clung to his sleeves and hung off the limp bag of his sweatshirt's hood.

It was because of the bats that she'd taken to calling him Belfry. He'd invited the bats to stay with him in the attic, and the family had been forced to move all of their stored junk down to the basement, where it had been ruined in the spring floods. Annie hadn't felt very thankful toward him since then. Of course, she hadn't liked him much before that, either. He was the reason she couldn't invite any of her friends inside the house, and he'd even permanently scared off her boyfriend when he'd used his fangs to cut open the wrapper on a new DVD.

He set the controller down, and the bats seized their chance. They gathered around the controller like it was a feeding dish. On the screen, the "continue" option flashed by, followed by a loading bar.

"Shouldn't you and your friends be out hunting?" She wanted him to go suck on a cow. The bats could scrounge for any bugs that hadn't died in the frost.

He stood, leaving the bats to enjoy their chance at Parasite Eve II, then tucked his gray-freckled hands into the pocket of his hoodie. "Still an hour until sundown. Anyway, I don't need to hunt tonight. Tomorrow's thanksgiving, so before sunrise, I get my share of the turkey."

"It would be nice if you'd pluck it after you suck it." She smiled, hoping to foist her chore off onto him.

"Sure, no problem." He grinned, eyes glazed like he was looking inside her. She'd never get used to that creepy vampire stare.

A blood-curdling gobble rose from the back yard.

"Sounds like someone knows we're talking about her." Belfry licked his lips.

Annie rolled her eyes and went out back alone. The turkey hen threw herself against the chicken wire, bending the walls out of shape. But the cage held. The posts were driven deep into the ground.

Annie pointed at the bird. "Quiet, you. Enjoy your last few hours of life."

"Enjoy yours!" the turkey shot back.

Annie stumbled back into the house and slammed the door. Clutching at her pounding heart, she turned the knobs for both locks, then looked around the mudroom for something heavy to brace the door with.

"What's up?" Belfry asked.

"The bird threatened me! It talked!"

He lifted the heavy cloth curtain to peek outside, then drew back with a hiss. He stared at the dark gray burn on his hand and whimpered.

She slapped the back of his head. "Idiot. You know better."

He helped her make sure every window was closed and every door locked. Then she called her two mothers. "Belfry and I will figure something out. But I don't want the turkey to get you when you come home, so stay away until we call you back!"

From the other room, she heard Belfry cry, "Oh, man!"

She ran after him. "What? What?"

He frowned, pointing at the TV screen. "They got past the trash heap monster!" He shook a fist at the bats. "I tried forty or fifty times!"

"Forget the game! We have a homicidal talking turkey outside!"

"Relax. As soon as the sun goes down, I'll take care of it. It's just a bird."

"She'll peck your eyes out!"

"Even if she does, they'll grow back." He held up his burned hand, which had mostly healed already.

Stupid vampires with their regeneration. Always showing off.

Every few minutes, Annie peeped out through the curtain. The turkey stood stock still, glaring at her with beady black eyes. Her variegated bronze feathers were actually quite beautiful, although the loose, bumpy, blue skin on her head and neck were kind of disgusting.

The sun dipped low to the horizon. Another few minutes, and Belfry could go outside. Annie opened the door a crack and leaned out. "Truce? If we let you go free, will you promise not to hurt us?"

The turkey puffed up her feathers. "Afraid? You should be! I've been caged here all day! I assure you, there will be blood spilled! And it will not be mine!"

Annie closed the door and locked it again. A moment later, she parted the curtain less than a quarter inch, striving to keep her movement imperceptible.

The turkey was gone. Inside the pen was a naked girl about Annie's age, with beautiful bronze skin and thick brown hair streaked with gold. She was gorgeous, downright hot. At that moment, Annie decided she was bisexual after all.

The turkey girl gripped one of the metal posts with both hands and worked it back and forth. The post came free, and the girl stumbled back. She lifted the chicken wire and crawled underneath. She was free. She ran away, toward the cornfield.

Annie opened the door and leaned out. "Wait!"

The girl squawked and flapped her arms. She transformed into the turkey and bolted toward the field, picking up speed quickly.

Annie called, "All talk, huh? You were really scared!"

The turkey turned around and flew low over the ground toward Annie, gobbling loudly.

Annie slammed the door. A loud thump knocked a few bits of plaster off the wall.

Outside, all was silent. The windows darkened. Belfry appeared at Annie's shoulder. "Sundown. Let me at her."

"Just hold your horses."

"I don't have any horses."

Ignoring him, Annie opened the door.

Belfry muttered, "I always wanted a horse."

The turkey lay on the porch, still as death.

Belfry frowned. "Bummer." Then he grinned, baring his fangs. "Oh well, the blood's still warm."

Annie got between him and the bird. "Stop! She's a person!"

His gleaming, hungry eyes remained locked on the floppy blue throat, but he held back.

Annie had no idea how to check a turkey's pulse, but she didn't have to. One wing twitched. One talon scratched across the porch. Annie helped the turkey to her feet. The bird swayed and stumbled, then ruffled her feathers. Then she gobbled loudly and beat Annie with her wings.

Annie screamed, falling off the edge of the porch and landing in the bare branches of the shrubbery. She covered her face with her forearms, but the attack ceased.

She looked up to see Belfry holding the turkey aloft, licking his lips. "Yumilicious! All that adrenaline gives the blood a great flavor!"

The turkey transformed into a girl and punched him square in the mouth. He let go, looking more surprised than hurt. The turkey girl hopped around the porch, waving her bloody hand. "Ow! Ow! Ow!" Apparently, she'd cut her knuckles on his fangs.

Annie crawled out of the bushes. "Okay, truce! Truce!" She held out both hands. "Nobody's eating anybody." She faced the wereturkey. "What's your name?"


She introduced herself and Belfry. "Would you like to stay for dinner?"

"Oh, I don't think so!"

"No, not like that. We'll make it vegetarian."

Belfry grumbled.

"I'll bandage your hand, give you some clothes, and cook whatever you want, to apologize for keeping you in that pen."

Thomasina stared toward the field, but her pretty brown eyes were softening.

"What do you like to eat?" Annie prompted.


"Uh, corn it is, then. Come on in!"

Thomasina eyed Belfry warily.

He shrugged. "I don't feed on humans. As a were, you're half-human, so I guess that makes you off limits."

Thomasina sighed. "All right. It's not like I have anywhere to go anyway. This is a dangerous time of year for my kind."

"Well, stay with us. We'll give you a safe haven."

"You have to promise not to eat some other turkey tomorrow."

"Promise." Annie offered her hand.

"Well, all right." Thomasina took it.

Impulsively, Annie lifted Thomasina's hand and kissed it.

Thomasina drew back. "You'd better not be tasting me."

Annie escorted Thomasina inside, with Belfry following dejectedly. After providing their guest with a shirt and pants, she called her moms. "Everything's fine. We have guest. Can you stop at the store and pick up a tofureky? And corn. Lots of corn."

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Since now the FTC requires all bloggers to disclose whether they received any payment or perks of any kind for reviewing products, this is my disclosure/disclaimer to apply to all of my previous reviews on this blog.

No one ever paid me to review anything on this blog. No one ever gave me anything for the explicit purpose of reviewing it. True, I did not buy everything I reviewed--often, I borrowed things from libraries and from friends, none of whom had anything to gain from a positive review of the items. Anything I received as a gift--be it a book, DVD, food, drink, or whatever--came as a gift from a friend or family member, probably for my birthday or for Christmas. They gave it to me because they loved me and wanted me to have it. If I really liked it, I reviewed it on my blog so other people would also see that it was cool. I have never received any "freebees" as bribes for reviewing anything. Yes, even my Jones Soda reviews of the past were done without any kind of compensation whatsoever, other than getting to drink the soda (as much a punishment as a reward with some of those flavors). Those were Christmas gifts from a friend unconnected to Jones in any way.

The only reviews on this blog that I have a truly personal stake in are the ones related to Crossed Genres magazine. They paid me a flat fee of $10 for my short story "Stay," which was published in Issue 12. I received a 25% discount on the print copies I purchased. Since the cost of two print copies, even with a 25% discount, exceeds $10, I have already paid Crossed Genres more money than I have earned from them. Of course, I have the enormous benefit of having my story published. But they did NOT pay or even ask me to post anything to my blog. I genuinely like their publication. And I want everyone to read my story.

I will try to remember to include some kind disclosure every time I review something in the future, but if I miss a post, consider this the default: I review things because I want to. No one bought my review.

If I ever do get any kind of compensation or freebee, I will say so. But I really don't want to get into the business of professional reviews. I did have one offer a few weeks ago--someone offered me a complimentary copy of some software if I would review it. I refused, because I didn't know the person and I had no particular use for that type of software. I never got the software, never did a review, and promptly forgot what it was even called and what it was supposed to do.

So there you have it. I am a fan and not a professional reviewer.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

I'm Published!

My short story "Stay" has been published in Issue 12 of Crossed Genres, which has been released today! The theme of the issue is LGBTQ, but all stories have elements of science fiction or fantasy as well.

I am so excited! This is my first time in print. From what I've read so far, the other stories in the issue are great, too. I can't wait to read the rest of them.

So please, read my story. Read everyone's stories.

Paper copies and electronic copies are available for purchase through the Crossed Genres website or from Amazon. You can also read it for free on the website. But I have a paper copy in hand and it's really nice--squarebound, glossy cover, high quality paper. It'd look great on your shelf when you finish reading it. (No, I don't get paid any extra if it sells a lot of copies. I just think it's a nice magazine. Yes, I'm biased.)

I am floating on air.