#QueerBlogWed: A Tale of the Navel

On November 17, 2021, P.T. Wyant posted at ptwyant.com a Wednesday Words prompt involving a drawbridge, a comb, and a Help Wanted sign.

This bizarre Tale of the Navel, a prelude with Peter to Unwilling to Be Yours was the result…

How strange to see a Help Wanted sign just after Peter had crossed a drawbridge into a castle. 

He was carrying a comb. He’d intended to give it to Paul. Perhaps it had belonged to a famous vampire, still carrying traces of its previous owner’s dark energy. Perhaps a siren had used it to straighten her hair before singing below a bridge, convincing those ailing in their hearts to jump. 

This was how desperate Peter was, brandishing this comb and a likely fable just to get his former lover to talk to him. 

“Oh, what a lovely comb!” A mermaid popped her wet head out of the moat. Tresses of hair floated around her breasts. “Won’t you come down, handsome stranger, and give it to me?” 

She gave a fetching little wiggle which didn’t fool Peter. 

“I’m so sorry, my lovely.” He gave a half-bow and a wink, but never quite stopped walking, keeping a firm grip on the comb. “My assistance is needed elsewhere.”

He gave the sign a significant nod. 

“Such a shame. All that beauty of yours wasted on a heavenly direction and attempts to return what isn’t wanted.” The mermaid flicked her tail dismissively at the sign. “Come back when you tire of work and decide to play.”

She giggled and dove below the water of the moat. 

It was only when he was on the other side that Peter saw the bones lying in patches of land under the drawbridge. Human bones. 

Why was he not surprised playing with a mermaid could be fatal?

He looked around the castle courtyard. Birds chittered and took flight amidst the lords and ladies rushing in different directions. No one paid much attention except for one. 

“Why, that’s my comb!” A lady wearing a haughty scowl upon a long face under a coned headdress snapped her fingers under his nose. “Give it here, boy!”

Peter shook his head, smiled, and pressed the comb to his chest. “Forgive me, my lady, but this comb is for my former lover. I must woo him with lies in an attempt to win him back.”

“How brazen of you to admit that!” she scolded, but a smile softened her face. “All right, get along with you. Just remember, lies can be more costly than the truth.”

She raced after a distracted lord in black, no longer paying attention to Peter. Just why was everyone in a hurry? 

There was no point in hurrying, just as there was no point in telling him lies could be more costly than the truth. The truth had a way of popping out, regardless, like a hideous jack-in-the-box. 

Peter found the stairs leading up to one of the castle towers. He started climbing them, winding up the stone edifice, glancing down at the green countryside below. 

Some of it he’d passed through. There were a few cottages he hadn’t remembered seeing. How interesting. 

He reached the end of the stairs at a little wooden door in the stone wall. 

Uncertain, he tapped on the door.

“Come in, Peter.” The voice was soft, seductive, yet somehow deep and commanding. It tickled the insides of his ears, sending shivers all the way down to his groin. 

He opened the door, finding himself in small bedchamber. A great bed with long dark green hangings did nothing to conceal the occupant. 

A man with high-cheekbones rolled over amidst his own moonlight-colored hair, exposing bare shoulders slipping free of a robe the same hue as the bedcovers. The man fixed him with a searing gaze, his eye filled with prism-like light. 

“Shut the door behind you.” The man smiled the slow smile of a predator who’d just caught a particularly succulent squirrel in his claws. “We don’t want to be disturbed.”

“My lord,” Peter said, tasting the truth in every world. This man was the true lord of this place, no matter what title or lack of title he might have. 

He turned to shut the door behind him, knowing he risked being devoured, but so what? He’d come this far for his wish. Better to be eaten than to turn back. 

“So determined,” the man said softly. “Paul was a fool to discard you. He might follow gods, but you could become a god yourself.”

Honeyed words in which he might be stuck. 

“Not to waste such an opportunity,” Peter chose his own with care, doing a little spin to face the occupant of the bed. “I cannot help but wonder if you were looking and expecting someone else.”

“As you were?” The man raised himself from the bed, exposing more shoulder and chest as perfect as a marble statue’s. “This doesn’t mean we don’t have something to offer each other.”

“I saw the Help Wanted sign.” Peter sauntered toward the bed, yet stopped before getting too close. “Are you the one asking for it?”

“Yes and no. The Navel needs help.” The man leaned back to expose his own hairless navel and what lay beneath it. “The question is do you truly want to help? Or are you simply seeking your own path?”

Difficult to answer that question even with this man looking and smelling the way he did, distracting Peter with his ample charms. 

“I wished to see someone again.” Peter stood his ground, clutching his comb. “I may have to lie to do so.”

“You don’t have to lie to me. You won’t be able to.” The man reached and nudged Peter’s thigh. “Come closer. I have a message I want you to deliver.”

“What message?” Peter allowed himself to be drawn toward the bed, to lean over his occupant.

“This one.” The man reached out to seize Peter, claiming his lips with his own. “You’ll know who. You’ll find him as difficult to resist as I always have.”

Peter fell on top of the half-naked man, finding his own body very happy to be there. 

The man wrapped his robe which seemed to be growing around both of them. Darkness enveloped the two men. Peter tasted darkness, breathing in the shadows along with the taste of their master…

…only to find himself walking down a cobblestone path, clothes in disarray. 

“What happened?” The man, the bedchamber, the castle were retreating as if they’d been a dream. 

He glanced down at his empty hands. Somehow, somewhere, he’d lost his comb. 

Tales of the Navel: A Fresh Start

On December 1, 2021, P.T. Wyant posted a Wednesday Words prompt at ptwyant.com involving a card, a red dress, and a diamond.

This Tale of the Navel was the result…

Aggie drove the cart over the dirt road, running over the rolling hill. She wasn’t entirely sure how she’d got here. She wasn’t entirely sure of anything. Everything she had was in the cart.

“I have to get somewhere,” she muttered out loud. “I have to get away.”

If she closed her eyes, she’d hear the angry voices surrounding her in the night. Hers had been one of them until an answering rage came in the form of a burning force, a force which made the voices scream.

She’d been one of them. The last thing she’d seen had been the man with silvery-white hair and pale skin. Cold and beautiful as a diamond or a statue and just as heartless. He’d been smiling, standing at her master’s side. 

She couldn’t remember what happened after or how she’d gotten into this cart. 

Only a man was standing in the middle of the road ahead. He was dressed in black velvet with long silvery-blond hair, waiting for her. 

“You,” she hissed, recognizing that face. Yes, it was the same man she’d seen in the middle of the night, looking at her, listening to the screams of her sisters before they were reduced to piles of pink goo. 

“Yes,” he said with a little bow, appearing right next the cart, taking one of the reins. 

The horse stopped, showing no sign of discomfort at the stranger touching him. 

Perhaps Aggie should do the same. Better not to remember how beautiful he’d been when Angharad wore a red dress, waving an extra pair of ghost arms, singing her praises to the spider web overhead. 

Faugh, what a lot of nonsense popped into her head. It wasn’t like she was even sure if those memories were actually hers.

“I can see you remember me, Angharad of Arachne; Angharad, Sister of Seraphix.” He uttered those titles with utmost courtesy, yet still managed to make a mockery of them. “Do you hear my Voice this time?”

“Hard to miss it,” she growled with as little enthusiasm as she could muster. Once upon a nightmare this man had been a diamond, but that had been a lifetime ago and that version of herself was dead. Now he was a ruby, soaked blood-red with the lives he’d absorbed. “What do you want? Got to warn you, there’s not much left of your former victim.”

“You weren’t my victim.” He stroked the horse’s muzzle. “You were your our master’s when you turned her, forced her to flee, until she fought for her life. She won. You lost.”

“Like I’d ever forget.” Seraphix, he was beautiful. Whether he wore a crown of flowers or black velvet, the sight of him still made her breath catch in her throat. Not that Aggie had any desire to admire. “Do you wish to torment me with talk of the past? Or is there another reason you stopped me?”

“There is.” He let out a low sigh. “I bear you no ill will, Angharad. If it seemed I took delight in your pain, it’s because your master’s pain was my own. I shared her rage, her hunger for vengeance upon those she once called sisters.”

“Poetic,” she said with some dryness. “Sounds like you were one heart and mind with your master. Wish we could all be so close to our gods.”

“You can be, Angharad,” he corrected with the lift of an eyebrow. “You can be closer to Seraphix than you ever were. You and all of your Sisters.”

“Don’t talk about my Sisters!” Seraphix’s tits, how she hated the raw angry sob which came out with the words. “You don’t get to speak of them! Not after what you did to them!”

“Even if I told you I could bring them back?” His pale blue eyes glittered with an icy pink light, a touch of lavender. “What if I told you I’d already resurrected some of them?” 

Oh, this stopped her. A memory flashed of Meggie’s rosy face, grinning, a custard tart crumb stuck to her cheek. One followed of Mel, scowling, trying so hard to look fierce, but her kittenish mouth and nose reduced the expression to something comedic and adorable. 

Last there was the Master, her lined brown face so deceptively kind. That kindness couldn’t have all been a lie. Oh, how she hated the sob getting stuck in her throat. 

Her Sisters. The Sisters of Seraphix. Seeking balance in seclusion. Until a monster upset the balance, using the flesh of one of their own. 

She couldn’t stop the tear from welling up in the corner of her eye. It slid down her cheek with the weight of her memories. 

The ruby caught it with one pale finger, letting it rest on the tip. It glittered like a diamond. “Yes, I can see you would.” 

The tear solidified, becoming a tiny gem with a rune upon it. A symbol which had once meant Seraphix. “You haven’t forgotten your god, Angharad. Nor have They forgotten you.”

“Could have fooled me, considering that Seraphix let you kill so many of Their Followers,” Aggie growled with some bitterness. 

“Because you turned on one of your own, but Seraphix would never have let you stay dead.” The ruby fixed his prism-like eyes upon her, holding out the tear to her. “Seraphix forgives Their own. It was Seraphix who sent me to you, allowing you to hear my call.”

“Why?” Aggie muttered, feeling too tired and weary to be angry. “What do you want?”

“It’s what you want, Aggie, that’s important.” He smiled, using her nickname as if they were old friends. “I am the Voice of Seraphix, chosen by our god to gather Their Followers, granting their desires to return for their faith.”

“Of course you are.” She let out a weary sigh. “I’ll admit, that’s a pretty trick with my tear, but you’ll need to do better than that to convince me you’re in league with my former god.”

“That’s just the problem. Seraphix is your former god.” The supposed “Voice” leaned closer. “They want you back, Aggie. Seraphix wants you to believe in Them. Believe in Them and They’ll grant you anything you desire.”

“All I want to do is run a small tavern,” she muttered. “Brew beer, bake tarts for a small number of people, and lead a simple life. I’ve had it with gods and greatness.”

“What if you could have all that, only your Sisters would be among that small number of people, visiting your tavern?” The “Voice” smiled slightly, lowering their eyelashes almost coyly. “If Seraphix did that for you, would you believe in Them?” 

“I have a hard time believing in anything these days.” Aggie took a deep breath and released. “Yes, if Seraphix did all that, I’d give Them a second chance. They weren’t the worst god I served.”

“No, They weren’t.” The smile disappeared from the ruby’s lips. “There’s a red gown in the back of your cart. You think the life you lived when you wore it was a dream or a nightmare, but the gown is there.”

“What?” She turned to the back on the cart, the blankets and ropes covering her few possesions. 

Lying on top of the blankets was a crimson dress with slits for more arms than any human woman possessed. Oh, this garment was richer than anything she’d worn as a Sister of Seraphix, but the arachnocrats of the Gardens lived far more luxuriously. Lived and great fat on the life force of the beautiful boys they raised.

She shuddered, turning back to the man, only she remembered when he’d been much younger. A beautiful youth with his hair crowned with flowers before rising into the web. 

“We killed you first, didn’t we?” she murmured. She could almost hear the singing of the other arachnocrats, echoing in the domed temple. “We killed you. You killed us.”

No. The Sisters of Seraphix had been innocent. They hadn’t been life-force sucking monsters, turning beautiful youths to stone. Ah, but she remembered some of her Sisters from the garden, didn’t she? Like Mel. Only she’d only had two arms, but so did Angharad. 

Aggie shuddered, covered her face with her hands.

“Aggie.” The “Voice”, only hadn’t his name been Dyvian back then? Yes, Dyvian Ashelocke. Kin to the Lady Duessa herself. Only now he reached up to gently lower her hands, to force her to meet her gaze. 

No boy from the Gardens of Arachne would ever dare such a thing. Nor could Dyvian have grown up to manhood. The boys blossoming in the gardens were plucked before they could over-ripen. This one had been drained of his life during a Marriage Feast. Dyvian Ashelocke should be a statue, standing eternally young and beautiful in his bride’s garden. Eternally still. 

Only he’d come back to take his revenge upon her Sisters and herself by using one of their own. Why did he speak so kindly to her now?

“This is our chance for a fresh start, Aggie.” How beautiful those prismatic eyes were, reflecting her back. “Yours, mine, and your Sisters. In the village of Omphalos with Seraphix. It could happen, Aggie, if you trust in us. If you trust in yourself.”

“Too good to be true,” she muttered, looking down at their hands. Somehow he’d place the tear gem back in hers. “I don’t believe in things too good to be true.”

“You will, if a miracle happens.” He smiled and released her fingers. Stepped back from the cart and the horse. “And it will, Aggie. Just keep following this road to Omphalos. You’ll see.”

Mists rose the ground and the sides of the road. He smiled, giving one sideways glance before he headed off into them. 

“Guess I will,” she muttered, feeling her heart lighten just a bit even though she should know better. She picked up the reins with one hand, still clenching the jewel in the other. 

For a moment she saw Meggie’s round face, smiling back at her. Almost as if her former Sister was promising they would meet again. 

Aggie didn’t know if she believed if they would, but she wanted to. 

Like my style of writing? Here are links leading to my published works…

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Lift Your Gaze to the Stars: A Party, A Trap Part 2

This is the second part of a freebie story for my Work in Progress Lift Your Gaze to the Stars, inspired by the prompts of P.T. Wyant at ptwyant.com

“Indeed, Ilona, I was pleasantly surprised by how well-bred your children are, judging from how muddle-headed and ill-mannered Dylan can be.” Evelyn nodded in Marchen’s direction. “I suppose I can blame Gino for some of that.”

“You insult your own flesh and blood in front of these strangers and have the nerve to accuse Dylan of being ill-mannered?” Aunt Illya let go of my hand, rose to look my mother right in the eye. 

They were almost the same height, Evelyn and Ilona.

Aunt Illya leaned a little closer to my mother. “You’re making it obvious to everyone, Evie, just who Dylan gets any ill-manners from!”

“Not that you’ve done anything to discourage those manners.” Evelyn didn’t flinch or move away. Her lips were inches from her former lover’s. “Not that I’m ungrateful. You’ve taken care of my son, even if that care was questionable. For that I’m grateful.”

My mother took a step back, raising her voice. “All things, however, must come to an end.”

Evelyn turned to me. She looked me up and down as if I was an unruly space beast she was considering buying. “Now that the war with the Ambience is over, I’ll be taking Dylan back.” 

“What?” I’m not sure if it was Aunt Illya or me who barked out that single word. 

I rose to my feet. I was a little taller than Evelyn. Only Marchen was taller than me, although she was doing her best to hunch her shoulders, making herself unseen.

“I’m almost legally an adult.” I crossed my arms, standing next to Aunt Illya. “You can’t take me back as if I was a child.”

“Until you’re legally of age, you are a child.” Evelyn wasn’t cowed by my height. A tiny smile played across her thin lips when she turned back to Aunt Illya. “I do appreciate the care you’ve given my son, Ilona. I truly do, but it’s over.” She gave me a little sideways glance. “It wasn’t as if I wasn’t paying for that care to begin with.”

Aunt Illya backed away. Her shoulders slumped. She wouldn’t look at me. 

“What?” I glanced from my mother to Aunt Illya.

“Who do you think paid for your clothes and education, Dylan? Gino?” Evelyn shook her head, the corner of her mouth twisting at the mention of Gino. “Not to mention that of Ilona’s own children. Along with all the booze Ilona has managed to consume over the years.”

Aunt Illya flinched at the cruelty of those words. Too often when she drank heavily, it was when she’d been reminded of close she and “Evie” used to be. When she’d just seen a news clip or gotten a message from my mother. The latter were always cold and abrupt. 

For the two of them had been very close. Aunt Illya had never taken the pictures of my mother down from her home. 

Those pictures were from a time before I’d been born. A time before Evelyn Stuart got a taste for power and started discarding everyone she regarded as dead weight. Including Ilona Gambretti. 

She’d broken Aunt Illya’s heart, just as she’d broken my father’s. Only Gino Bodacci could at least talk about it or rant to St. Cecilia of the Stars about his feelings. I wasn’t sure if Aunt Illya had ever found a way to purge herself of the pain besides the bottle. 

This was just another one of her wounds I’d never dared to probe too deeply. 

Deep probing had never bothered Evelyn Stuart. 

She marched forward, seized Aunt Illya’s chin, forcing her to meet my mother’s eyes. 

“Look at you. Once I thought you were stronger than anyone. Only when the chance came for you to shine, you hid. You crawled into the bottle.”

“Some chances aren’t worth the devil’s glitter they give off!” Aunt Illya slapped Evelyn’s hand away from her face. 

A shocked murmur ran through the crowd. 

Aunt Illya seemed oblivious to them. Her attention was completely focused on my mother. “Some things are just wrong, Evie! No matter how well they turned out!”

“You’re the one who’s wrong.” For a moment, a hint of softness came over my mother’s lips, reaching her eyes. “I’m going to prove it to you. Dylan is going to prove it to you. You’re relieved of the burden you’ve been carrying for too long. Crawl back into the bottle. No one will disturb you, least of all my child.”

Evelyn gave Aunt Illya a tiny shove. She stumbled. I caught her before she could fall. 

“Be prepared to pack up and leave this sorry life behind, Dylan.” Evelyn flicked a contemptuous glance at me. “You’re still my son. You’re meant for greater things than being your drunken guardian’s caretaker.”

She turned her back and stalked away. Her lackeys and would-be lackeys stumbled over each other, trying to follow her. 

All except for Marchen. She glanced at me. Concern, worry, and sorrow sparkled in eyes the same gray as her mother’s. Until those eyes moved to her mother, hardening. 

The look in them reminded me of the ice which sometimes clung to our home on Juno 4. 

I wondered how much Marchen agreed with what Evelyn had said. Too often had she found her mother passed on the kitchen floor. Too often had she helped me carry her mother to bed. Even though it was I who usually cleaned the vomit up. 

I found my free hand reaching for the cross around my neck. God help me, I understood Marchen’s anger. 

Don’t be that person, Dylan, I told myself sternly. You promised not to give into your anger. Not toward Aunt Illya. Not toward your mother. Regard weakness with a forgiving eye. Remember, you’ve got plenty of weaknesses of your own. 

Aunt Illya looked up with wide eyes and trembling lips at her daughter. She smoothed the lapels of her uniform. “Marchen-“

Marchen turned her back on both of us with an abrupt violence which startled me. She walked after my mother.

“She hates me.” Aunt Illya stared miserably at her daughter’s stiff departing back. “I can’t really blame her. What a sad excuse for a mother I am. What a sad excuse for a soldier.”

She reached into the lapel of her jacket. Of course her silver flask was there. She uncorked it. I could smell the whiskey. 

She tipped the contents of her flask into her quivering mouth. 

I wanted to take it from her and empty it, but there was no point. She would just refill it. Or buy another flask.

Aunt Illya lowered the flask with some reluctance, gazing at it. “I’ve turned my little girl against me.”

“You could go after her. You could talk to her. Try to talk to her.” I didn’t look at my reflection in the silver.

Aunt Illya didn’t resond. She screwed the cap back on the flask, hid it within her lapel. Only then did she attempt to smile at me.

“You’re too good for the Gambretti family, Dylan. Definitely too good for me.” She folded her trembling hands in her lap. “Evelyn is right to take you back. A smart, capable young man like you will have opportunities at her side I could never give you.”

“I was planning on going to the Academy.” Only my education would be paid for by Evelyn’s money. 

Nor had I been sure if I’d be able to leave. Not if it meant leaving Sasha or Aunt Illya on their own. 

“Child, you’ve got to stop thinking of everyone else and think of yourself.” Tired gray eyes fixed upon me with especial tenderness. “You’ve only got one life unless those crazy experiments Evie is funding work. No one can live your life other than you.”

I smiled. I took her hand again. We sat in silence. 

I wasn’t convinced Evelyn’s reasons for taking me back had anything to do with my life or any opportunities for me. For herself, yes. They might have everything to do with the experiments Aunt Illya mentioned. 

I didn’t trust my mother, but it didn’t look like I could resist her. At least not too directly. Plus I was worried about whatever hold she might have over Marchen. 

This was my chance to find out. 

Like my style of writing? Here are links to my published works…

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/author/kstrenten

Nine Star Press Author Page: https://ninestarpress.com/authors/k-s-trenten/

Lift Your Gaze to the Stars: A Party, A Trap Part 1

On November 10, 2021, P.T. Wyant posted at ptwyant.com a Wednesday Words prompt involving an old woman in uniform, a peace treaty, and a party.

This involved a freebie story in a work in progress I haven’t thought of in a long time, Lift Your Gaze to the Stars. I started writing this and it swelled to the point where I had to break it in two. This is Part 1.

The elderly woman sat at the fringe of the party. Not looking at anyone, Keeping her gnarled hands folded even as she clutched her knuckles. 

Few would have noticed her agitation. I was one of the few. Not to mention I was shocked by how much she’d aged in my absence. 

I sat down next to her. Not wanting to touch her. Not wanting to abandon. “Hello, Aunt Illya.”

“Hello, Dylan.” She glanced in my direction, allowing her weathered features to soften a bit. “Have a nice visit with your father and his mad Italian relatives?”

“Nice and yes, utterly mad. Of course they obsess over how to grow the best tomatoes while on a floating chiesa.” I smiled a little at the memory of La Madonna della Universa and the nuns who ran it. All of whom were my father’s cousins. “I only just got back.”

“Of course you did.” She smiled a little out of the corner of her mouth. “You always tried to take care of us. All of us.”

Her smile faded at the sound of silvery laughter drifting from the center of the party. 

“Aunt Illya, don’t do this.” I almost reached out for her hand. “We can go-“

“No.” She pressed her lips together in a thin line. “This is Marchen and Sasha’s chance to meet people. Yours, too, Dylan.” She fixed a watery gray eye upon me. “You should be saying hello to your mother. This peace treaty is her triumph.”

Bitterness laced each word as she gazed at the gleaming white figure, the center of attention for the crowd. 

Yes, Evelyn Stuart had engineered a peace treaty with the Ambience, brokering a new understanding with the alien race Aunt Illya, a.k.a. Captain Ilona Gambretti dedicated her life to fighting. Peace was like a slap in her face. 

Peace sounded well and good, but I didn’t trust my mother. She was up to something. Aunt Illya didn’t trust the Ambience. Their motivations for anything was murky. 

Inviting an old soldier like Ilona Gambretti, one who had once been Evelyn’s friend and lover was offering an olive branch exuding a stinging sap. 

“You should speak to her,” Aunt Illya said again, but her hands began to tremble. 

“If Evelyn Stuart feels a need to talk to me, she can come over here. This will force her to talk to you as well, Aunt Illya.” I locked my gaze with Ilona’s, forced her to look at me. 

I decided to reach out. 

I took one of her hands, pressed it gently. “Besides you’re my true mother, Aunt Illya. All Evelyn Stuart ever did was give birth to me. I’m half-convinced that in itself was an experiment. To see if she possessed any maternal feelings. Or any feelings at all.”

“Dylan!” Aunt Ilya scolded, but her gray eyes twinkled. She was amused by my words even if she wouldn’t admit it. “No matter what else Evie might be, she’s still your mother. Show a little respect.” 

“Delighted to see you’re at least attempting to teach my son manners, Ilona, even if he stubbornly refuses to learn.”

I froze in the shadow which fell over us, the shadow of many people looming over us. In the forefront was my mother. 

Her silvery-blonde hair was swept up on the top of her head by ambience diamonds. They lined her white cowled tunic. Not a line touched her smooth brow. Evelyn Stuart refused to show any touch of weakness or humanity, including age. 

No one else dared to wear white, although almost everyone around her dressed in similar tunics of dove-gray. They gazed at Aunt Illya and myself with wide, eager eyes. Just waiting to see what the outsiders might do. 

One of Evelyn’s lackeys, standing slightly behind her was Marchen Gambretti, Aunt Illya’s own daughter. She ducked her head, avoiding looking directly at her mother or me. 

Evelyn gazed at us both in slow appraisal. It was like being caught in the gaze of a space serpent.

Like my style of writing? Here are links which lead to my published works…

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/author/kstrenten

Nine Star Press Author Page: https://ninestarpress.com/authors/k-s-trenten/

Paula’s Prompts: Wednesday Words

On December 29, 2021, P.T. Wyant posted at ptwyant.com a Wednesday Words prompt involving the POV of a clerk at the return counter of a department store.

This poem was the result…

All the anger, the frustration

At their purchase or someone else’s

Aimed at my bland face behind the counter

I try to smile, to express sympathy

I’ve felt your frustration myself after all

Let you rant and rage

Wait until you’re done and realize you didn’t have to

I’m willing to take your purchase back

To give you store credit

I’d love to give you a full refund

My manager shook her head sternly

Denied us that opportunity to make good

No, store credit only

Leaving me to explain it to you

I sit here and take the verbal blows

My smile is starting to feel numb

Your yelling becomes less of a human voice

More of a background noise

The soundtrack of my daily existence

One I can never get away from. 

Like my style of writing? Want to read more? Here are links which lead to my published works…

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/author/kstrenten

Nine Star Press Author Page: https://ninestarpress.com/authors/k-s-trenten/

Tales of the Navel: Voices in His Head

On November 3, 2021, P.T. Wyant posted at ptwyant.com a Wednesday Words prompt involving a spoon, spots, and a ringing bell.

This Tale of the Navel was the result…

Spots swam before Tayel’s vision. Every spot contained a different face swimming in color. 

A bell rang, tolling out each chime as every face began to sing:

Seraphix

Grant us our wish

We’ll give you our faith

Make us part of you

We’ll make you a god.

“Tayel!” 

Danyel’s voice, sharp with alarm, brought him back to the table, to the kitchen, to the here and now. 

Tayel gazed at the spoon in his hand. 

Below him lay a bowl filled with untouched broth. 

Map hadn’t given up on trying to get the twins to eat, even if it was just a sip of liquid. 

“Don’t drift off. Even if it’s just into your own thoughts.” Map stressed each word, hovering behind Danyel, trying to look as if she wasn’t hovering. “Eat a little more.”

It smelled good, the contents in the bowl. Perhaps the scent was simply Map’s concern wafting in the air.

Tayel picked up his spoon, stuck it in the bowl. He gathered a little of its contents into this curious curved utensil humans used for eating. This particular item seemed to work. 

Maybe he shouldn’t regard humans in such an otherly fashion. He and Danyel were human-shaped. They had mouths. If Map could eat, so could the twins.

He lifted the spoon to his lips. He managed a tiny sip. Before he could taste it, he started to cough. Tears gathered in his eyes. 

“It’s all right.” Leiwell turned his head toward Tayel. His older brother had been resting it on the table after another night away, “serving” his mysterious master. In spite of his weariness, Leiwell’s green eyes were clear and bright. “Just eat as much as you can for now. Eventually you’ll be able to eat more.”

Reflected in those dark pupils surrounded by emerald irises, Tayel could see the tower. Of course it was a tower. It always was the tower whether it wore a crown or rang a bell. He could almost hear the bell ringing, a faint echo anyone could easily explain away as imagination. 

He wished he could taste the soup or try to taste it. His throat burned. 

Danyel was not to be left behind by his twin. He picked up his spoon, filled it with brother. He took an even bigger sip than Tayel had. 

As one, the twins started coughing, gasping for air. 

“All right, that’s enough.” Map leaned over to rescue the bowls and the spoons from their careless wielders. “This will heat up easily enough. You can try again later.”

“Eating will get easier,” Leiwell reassured his brothers. “You’re growing. Maybe not quite like human children, but the longer you spend in this place, the more you’ll be able to eat and do other things they do.”

“Really?” Danyel turned to their older brother with a wide-eyed expression of hope. Unlike Tayel, his violet-blue eyes were innocent of any inhuman brightness. 

“I did,” Leiwell said with a mysterious, yet sad little smile. 

Curious how he both answered and didn’t answer Danyel’s question. Tayel’s admiration and mistrust for their elder brother grew. 

“What’s normal varies from person to person in this world,” Leiwell said in dreamy, speculative tone. “Just give yourself time to discover what’s normal for you.”

“I keep hearing a bell ringing and singing.” Danyel glanced from brother to brother. “Do you hear them, too? One voice is louder than the rest. A voice like mine, only slightly older and wiser. A beautiful voice.”

Tayel shut his eyes, belatedly realizing he shouldn’t have done that. He’d just given away the fact that he heard them, too. 

Leiwell lifted his weary head from the table to regard his brothers with alarm. 

Map stiffened where she stood at the cauldron, still holding the bowls. 

“What’s wrong?” Danyel, the innocent, as always had to ask the obvious questions. The wrong questions. The questions which opened doors to answers which were murky, dark, and filled with mysteries no one in this cottage wanted anything to do with. “What is this bell? Whose voice am I hearing?”

“The mind is mysterious, whispering things from dreams which trouble daylight and waking life,” Tayel murmured. “Best to leave them be.”

“That’s right,” Map said, a little too heartily, putting the bowls down with a thump. “Best not to worry about such things. Concentrate on being a part of this world.”

“Don’t let the tower distract you,” Leiwell murmured. “Ignore its whispers and enjoy being alive.”

“Wait, does it whisper to you, too?” Danyel pounced on this particular bit of information like an unwary cat leaping on a devilish mouse. Catch it with your claws and it catches you. “What does it say, Leiwell?”

“I don’t remember.” Leiwell leaned back in his chair, closing his eyes. “It was a dream, I think.” 

This didn’t seem like a lie. Nor did it seem like the entire truth. 

“Dreams will lure you away from reality.” Map turned around, her brow furrowed. “Don’t let it trouble you.” 

Danyel opened his mouth and shut it. He gazed at Map, Leiwell, and Tayel himself frowning, a wrinkle in his forehead. 

It was clear his twin thought the rest of his family was privy to some great secret they were excluding him from.

If only Danyel knew. It was best he didn’t. The singing, the bells, they might be part of a dream, but they could turn into a future reality. 

Tayel mistrusted the song, the words. There was a darker meaning behind them, a dangerous selfishness to its desire. 

He didn’t want to be drawn into the song. What’s more, he didn’t want his family to be drawn it into it. 

This wouldn’t stop the song or the singers from drawing close to them. 

Like my style of writing? Want to read more? Here are buy links to my published works…

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#QueerBlogWed: A Tale of the Navel

On October 27, 2021, P.T. Wyant posted a Wednesday Words prompt involving a flickering light, a dream, dried herbs.

This Tale of the Navel was the result…

Sometimes the flickering light was green, sometimes it was blue. It fluttered in his hands, pulsing in his palms, warming him.

Nothing made Leiwell feel more tender and protective than the light. Dreaming of it effected him as much as the visions of his master. 

He’d awaken, breathe in the scent of dried herbs, hear Map humming under her breath through the cottage wall. 

Those smells and sounds grounded him in the here and now, reassuring him. There was no need to chase after the light. No need to go looking for his master. Map was here. She needed him. Sooner or later the light and his master would both find him. 

He was content to wait here in this cottage. With Map. 

For now Leiwell would be content to dream. It wouldn’t last. Dreams gave way to waking reality or they drew you back in. 

He would enjoy the state he was in, this flesh and blood form for as long as he could. For as long as others needed him to wear it. 

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#QueerBlogWed: Seven Tricks Freebie Story

On October 20, 2021, P.T. Wyant posted at ptywant.com a Wednesday Words prompt involving sausage, a nose, and boxes. This Seven Tricks freebie story was the result…

A long nose poked its way out of a pile of boxes, whiskers twitching at the smell of sausage.

Only for a second nose attached to a muzzle to rise from the boxes, baring its teeth. Those teeth closed around the first muzzle, biting it. 

“Youch!” Cheesecurd whined. “Why’d you do that for?”

“Don’t go scurrying after the first sniff of sausage!” Madam Mousenip chittered at her subject. “Honestly! You only have a fraction of wit, not to mention charm that Mousetrick possessed!”

“Uh huh. And where’s Mousetrick?” Cheesecurd sniffed with some petulance. “Off with some human.”

“No, he’s not!” Madam Mousenip bared her teeth at this sullen substitute for a decent mouse, let alone a prince. “He’s following his dream, you hear me? No matter how cheese-curdled that dream might be.”

“There’s nothing wrong with a little curdled cheese,” the affronted mouse retorted. “Say what you like of me. I’m here. I haven’t abandoned you for sugar plums and a magician’s nephew.”

“No, you’d abandon me in an instant for cheese. Or gingerbread,” the queen asserted. “Stop trying to act like you’re any better than the rest of us. Mousetrick had finer feelings than you’ll ever know. Not to mention a finer coat. And far more expressive whiskers.” She sighed, wringing her paws against her chest.

“Hmph. If my feelings, coat, and whiskers are so disappointing, why are you scampering with me?” Cheesecurd demanded. “What’s the point?”

“Training!” Madam Mousenip snapped. “Uncouth and ruffled as your fur might be, you still faced a troupe of gingerbread soldiers, showing spunk. Only you gobbled your way straight into a human’s trap.”

“How can you blame me? They smelled too delicious to resist.” Cheescurd drooped his whiskers in a sulky fashion. “How was to know I should have?”

“Exactly. You should know better. You need to learn how to know better. This is why I’m scampering with you.” Madam Mousenip flickered her tail in a meaningful manner. “I’m offering you knowledge. It’s up to you whether you decide to gain it. To think before scampering after anything that smells delicious. It might help you survive.”

“Or it might mean someone else will rush in and eat the delicious thing while we wait!” Cheesecurd whined. “I want that sausage!”

“Yes, and you might scamper straight into a trap if you don’t think when you sniff!” The queen flicked her tail in the direction of the kitchen. “Look!”

A giant human, dragging the cloth of its skirts across the floor plodded her way past the boxes in the kitchen. 

Madam Mousenip and Cheesecurd barely had time to dive beneath the boxes before hiding. 

“I’m bored!” The human’s shrill voice pierced the air. If the mice hadn’t taken cover, it might have knocked them over. “Where is Cracktooth?”

“He’s gone.” Another human’s voice rang out, softer, yet more dangerous. “I told you, Prissipat. He’s not here any more.”

Cheesecurd felt his fur stand on end. It was her. The human who’d drugged him, who’d set the gingerbread trap. What had that shrieking doll called her? Marchen. 

“Why? Why isn’t he here?” The one human whirled to face the other. “He was just starting to get a little less annoying and he just disappears! What did you do?”

“Nothing.” Marchen sounded a bit defensive as well as sad. “He wanted to go. That’s all.”

“That’s not all. You’re hiding something, both you and your godfather. Why won’t you tell me?” Prissipat turned again, stamping her foot. 

The mice under the boxes covered.

“Come. Come have some sausage.” Marchen took her arm, coaxing her away. “You’ll feel better if you eat.”

“I don’t want to eat.” In spite of her petulant reply, Prissipat let herself be led away. 

The mice cautiously peeked out from beneath the boxes.

“You see?” Madam Mousenip chittered. “We would have been caught if we’d scampered after the sausage.”

“Now the humans are going to eat it,” Cheesecurd grumbled. “Cracktooth…Cracktooth. Isn’t that the one Mousetrick kept carrying on about? Wouldn’t let us eat any gingerbread until we’d saved his beloved Cracktooth. Wouldn’t give up that doll either. Nearly led us all into a trap.”

“Really.” Madam Mousenip looked down her snout at him. “From what I’ve heard, it was you who gobbled your way right into a gingerbread trap.”

“No!” Cheesecurd protested. “It was Mousetrick! He was your prince! We had no choice but to follow him! All he cared about was rescuing his precious Cracktooth!”

“Save the excuses,” Madam Mousenip sighed. “Scamper now. You may let learn something…and how to find the right opportunity to steal sausage.” 

Cheesecurd let out a sulky chitter, but he obeyed. He followed his queen as she raced across the floor to under a chair. 

As if he didn’t know about finding opportunities. He was a lot better at this than Mousetrick who did nothing but smooth his fine fur and twirl his whiskers. 

Eventually his queen would understand this. 

Wonder what this was about? Here are buy links to Seven Tricks…

Nine Star Press: 

https://ninestarpress.com/product/seven-tricks/

Barnes & Noble:

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/seven-tricks-ks-trenten/1127424849?ean=2940158598838

Amazon:

Kobo:

https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/seven-tricks

Smashwords:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/758279

#QueerBlogWed: Of Cuckoo Clocks and Crystal Coffins Freebie Story

On October 13, P.T. Wyant posted at ptwyant.com a Wednesday Words prompt involving a goat, a foggy morning, and a long road. This freebie story for Of Cuckoo Clocks and Crystal Coffins was the result…

Fog rolled in from the trees. It rose along the path. Not blocking my way to the crystal. Not welcoming me either. It wasn’t supposed to be this thick. Nor was the path supposed to be this long. 

“Baaah!” 

Sound nearly made me trip over my own boots. Sheep are starting to make my whiskers stand up straight. Only this wasn’t a sheep. 

Thought for a moment it was one of those ruddy goat-legged women who enjoyed hoping under the trees, playing their reed pipes, only to pretend it was the wind. Right. If those sharp-toothed creatures creeping about our cottage weren’t bad enough. Garnet might not have any whiskers left if the Forest creatures didn’t leave him alone. If someone didn’t convince him to stop tugging his beard. 

Only it was an actual goat this time. Cocking its head in almost cute fashion, chin tuft sticking out, all bony legs. 

Bony legs. Right. Actual goat, my hammer. 

“Baaah!” He bleated again, butting my head, trying to convince me he was nothing but a goat, before mincing off into the trees. 

“Right. First sheep. Now goats. This is another ruddy dream you’ve decided to stalk.” I crossed my arms and stopped in the middle of the path. “I’d think you’d have better things to do.” 

“I’d think you had better things to dream about than that silly crystal.” The goat disappeared in a cloud of yellow smoke. Sure enough, Nimmie Not stood where it had been. 

He began to do a jig in the foggy air, making the bells on his toes ring. Prancing about the path as if he owned it. “Quartz, Quartz, why must you dream of crystals? They’ll become coffins if you don’t take care, yes, they will!” 

He paused, reaching out with a bony finger to twist a whisker of my beard around it. “Why not dream of me instead?”

“Thought I was.” I slapped his hand away from my beard, only to end up holding it. “You’re here. That ruddy crystal my road leads to is you. Even the goat was you, one of your pebble-brained pranks.”

“Why I’m both flattered and insulted in equal measure!” He took a deep breath, only to shudder with a smile. “My delicious dimwit, whatever makes you think your shiny namestone has anything to do with me?”

“Same thing that makes you think your book has something to do with me.” Meant to drop that hand of his. Somehow I ended up stroking his bony fingers. 

Who was truly pebble-brained here? Don’t answer that. 

“We’ve got our instincts.” Not sure what I was saying. “A sense of what’s what. What we believe, what gets us going.”

“And this believe this damaged crystal growing under Prunella’s direction is my dark and lonely heart?” He chucked as if I were the fool, not him. “Quartz, Quartz, I simply do not share the romantic resonance with the rocks you possess! I wouldn’t let myself get tied down to a pretty trinket, a crystal heart.”

He wagged a finger. “They always grow into crystal coffins you find yourself lying in, if you cannot catch yourself in time.”

“Doesn’t have to be like that. Not with a quartz.” Felt my nose turn red at the double-speak. Nimmie Not was a bad influence on me. “Doesn’t have to tie you down.”

How could I explain it? I pressed his hand against his own heart. “It’s strength you draw from the earth. Steady and true, making you stronger.”

“Making you stumble with your own weight! Ooo, watch me sink! I’m a gravity magnet!” He slapped my hand away, stood still, and made a face.

Had to admit it. Stillness didn’t suit him. There was something in what I was saying. Something of use to him. 

If only I could figure it out before he skipped away. Laughing at me. 

“That’s what happens you drink and drain the poor earth.” Nimmie Not scowled all the more. “The road is long enough without being dragged down. Perhaps you’re not of as much Interest as I thought.”

“Been telling you that,” I scoffed, in spite of the ache in my chest, creeping up my throat. 

Aye, it was pebble-brained. Letting the ruddy little man get to me. 

Hearing him say I wasn’t of Interest still hurt. Shards. 

“Now that you’ve finally come to your senses, you can leave me alone.” I turned my back on him. “Stop wasting my time…and yours.”

He nodded, bowed, backing into the mist. “Oh, it’s not over, Quartz. I must consider how to thank you properly for disappointing me.”

Woke up with those words ringing in my ears like a curse. A chill ran through my beard and my belly. 

Right. Like I’d let that kobold scare me. 

Still couldn’t help giving the cuckoo clock a second glance on the wall. Wondering if something nasty might leap out.

With Nimmie Not, I couldn’t let my guard down.

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#QueerBlogWed: Paula’s Prompts

On October 6, 2021, P.T. Wyant posted at ptwyant.com a Wednesday Words prompt involving a fish, glue, and a late night.

This bizarre, yet well-intentioned poem was the result…:)

Paste the fish upon the package

Such a cute decoration

The final touch to your careful design

When you look at the clock

Realize how late at night it is

Once more you’ve lost track of time

Pursuing one of your eccentric projects

Yet you feel a burst of pride

Seeing that fish design on the present

Instead of the traditional ribbon and bow

Your friend is guaranteed a grin at the sight of it. 

She’s had so few grins of late

Even if every cat’s head will turn

And every human will gawk

To see the fins and sparkling scales

You put it together with sequins and glitter

It’s a gorgeous if unconventional display

Just hold up your head with pride

When you meet your friend at the street café

Focus on her expression

While you hand her the package

Hope the glue will hold the fish

For you had to use quite a lot

Hope that she’ll smile or even laugh

At the sight of your bizarre surprise.

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