I thought it would be fun to do a long series of posts with the first lines of all my stories (so far). I started playing with it, and the idea expanded to the first paragraph or two of each story.


Beginnings 110 – Auld Lang Syne, Ch. 10

It’s Saturday. A day for sleeping in, for pretending I’ve successfully played sick and avoided school, for luxuriating in having nothing to do. The sun is shining through the window, flickering shadows of new green leaves over the carpet and the clothes I didn’t put away last night. There’s a …

Beginnings 109 – The Humblebract Expedition

“He needs to have fun.” The guildmaster put his hand lovingly on the back of a pudgy adolescent boy about my age. “I want him to have fun.” … “The Humblebract Expedition” Score: an SFF symphony Published 02-Mar-2019 About the story: Love and Fun for the Score anthology of emotions …

Beginnings 108 – Fountainhead

“I’m sorry,” she said at last. She had been staring out the window – a ‘phore’, they called it here – watching starbirds hover in their pastel stacks, like floating towers of origami. She wondered how they did it, and whether she it might be what she needed for her …

Beginnings 107 – Minstrel Boy Howling at the Moon

The red dirt of the plains was baked into his hands, making rivers of the creases in his palm, flowing off the low hills into the grasslands of his wrist. A summer of post-setting had left his hands as hard as brick, and just as red. “You’re an honorary red …

Beginnings 106 – Start Wearing Purple, Ch. 8

It could have been an art installation – a dark sphere atop City Hall, a spray of scarlet thread, five hundred people frozen in place, eyes wide with pain and disbelief. That hadn’t been the start, of course. Only moments earlier, there’d been bustling, cheery chaos – marchers, vendors, dancers, …

Beginnings 105 – Cinnamon Sticks

The slime had been a problem. “It’s not slime. It’s a podal lubricant and message deposition vehicle.” With some saliva mixed in. When you ate with your feet, it was hard not to leave a bit of drool around. Even in these sterile metal corridors. Even when your heart was …

Beginnings 104 – Adjectives of Annihilation

My parents could never describe it. The ravages of an increasingly stratified world, of bitter philosophical division, of a climate run amok. The devastation of war. The nightmare of departure. “Nothing survived,” said my poet father. “Probably nothing survived,” amended my mother, who’d been a particle physicist, and more comfortable …

Beginnings 103 – 3 Ghosts, Ch. 12

Lucas could feel warm satin sweat against his cheek, and his fingers curled slightly, moving through slick stickiness to a little node of firmness. It was curiously cool, curiously crumbly. Crumbly? But… already it was gone, the details of the dream fading with the night. It had been so clear, …

Beginnings 102 – Loose Change and Nothing to Say

“Hi. Is your food preservation device operative? Better go stop it.” Zorknord pulled both tentacles back into his tiffle, and let the input integrator fall to the console. “Dude, your sperm-contributing lifestyle indoctrinator is going to be pissed.” Garlaw’s lesser dome pulsed with awe. … “Loose Change and Nothing to …

Beginnings 101 – Punctilio

The man moved doggedly onward, pushing ever toward the faintest of lights on the horizon, a light more sensed than seen, and which illuminated nothing. From behind came the sounds of laughter and conviviality, a bright chatter of conversation carrying with it the occasional lover’s murmur and the promise warmth …

Beginnings 100 – Cupernicity

The center of the universe shifts. When you’re young, it’s all about your principal carer, and food, and bedtime snuggles. As you age, gravity intervenes, and the center moves further away, to cliques and clans and who’s gone furthest into the danglepods. Then you learn about the dark matter carers …

Beginnings 099 – The Plural of Die

It’s ‘dice’, not ‘dies’, but this godforsaken planet is as short on grammar as it is on everything else. Come back to life more than once, and they give you a nickname. Names are something we have plenty of. Names, myths, rumours, theories, we’ve got them. I’d trade any two …

Beginnings 098 – Tumbler

A spider hung across from me, the barbed spikes of its legs dug deep into the walls of its prison. It was caged in a network of tunnels and tubules that wrapped around and through each other in an immense tangle. Trapped. Just like me. … “Tumbler” About the story: …

Beginnings 097 – He Don’t Love Nobody

I was nobody. That’s why I did it. They always ask, when they come in their school and church groups. “Why did you do it, Mr. Mbonyumutwa? Why did you share Blue Star’s revolutionary plans with the True Government? Weren’t the rebels your friends? Weren’t you a rebel?” … “He …

Beginnings 096 – In the Thick of Time

Time was uninterrupted. It extended down the hill in one direction, while in the other it was lost amid a line of septs that streamed down like ants. The septs were brief, momentary, clans stretching across a handful of generations at best. They faded in and out, overlapping, conflicting, forming …

Beginnings 095 – Roller

The track stretched out like a shadow, the long, narrow trace of some monumental tower fit for magic and sorcerors. She looked the other way, but there were no pillars, no turrets, no mages invoking the vanished Stone People. The dark granite track curved gently up into the hills, and …

Beginnings 094 – Fatherhood

He had done his best. Had raised the girl as if she were his own, though she was not. “You’re not my father,” she had said, flat and cold, as she left his house for the last time, left the bedroom full of music and makeup, the front room full …

Beginnings 093 – Shift

“I will catch the bus.” Jean Pierre spoke firmly, decision made. “Don’t be foolish, Jean Pierre.” His wife Nicole made a point of restraining a sigh. “The bus comes only once per day. You will waste a day getting to Gitarama, and another getting back. That is two nights’ lodging …

Beginnings 092 – The Irrigation Ditch

She’d shifted a cottage-weight of stone, lifted uncounted shovelfuls of soil, dug her way with mattock and sweat and bruised fingers. Before her, beneath her, all she had was a hole. The same as when she’d lifted that first shovel load, the same as she’d have after countless more. … …

Beginnings 091 – Building on Sand

He had been ready; a small bag packed, boots oiled, axe sharpened. He had meant to go, but he had not gone. He could remember the feel of it still, the sense of a burden lifted, of freedom at last in his grasp. It had felt … lonely, in a …

Beginnings 090 – Furnace

A cry rang through the dark, echoing roughly in vats and tanks, stirring muted sympathies in plates of sheet metal and piles of rusted scrap. The dim glow of banked coals leaked slowly from furnace grates and chimneys, illuminating little. … “Furnace” About the story: An odd collection of aliens …

Beginnings 089 – Memory and Faded Ink

She liked to watch me sleeping. “I always remember you like this,” she would say. “Drowsing in a pool of sunlight, dawn pouring off you like gold. That is how I know you are rich.” When she was young, rich to Tseleng was time enough to weed millet, and light …

Beginnings 088 – Goatway Drug

I shouldn’t have taken it. Even Nelda said so, and she was as toasted as a crouton. What can I do? Some Cointreau, a couple of gin and tonics, and a Dr. Pepper, and my judgment goes all to hell. So, when a stranger showed up in patchy little beard …

Beginnings 087 – That Lonesome, Restless Feeling

Outside the house, a placard swung slightly in the twilight breeze. To and fro, to and fro, never making any progress as it moved in complex helices at hundreds of meters per second through the solar system, or hundreds of kilometers per second through the galaxy. Motion was a matter …

Beginnings 086 – Voter Fraught

“I wish you could vote for me, Botty.” The child looked across the park to where friends were playing. “I do vote for you, Gret. You just have to tell me how to do it.” The AI’s voice was gentle through the little earplug in the child’s ear. … “Voter …

Beginnings 085 – Revelation

Life isn’t so much about what you gain as what you lose. Enthusiasm, vigor, optimism, ideals fall by the wayside, replaced by poorer, flimsier, more practical substitutes. Life isn’t so much about what you find as what you choose to leave behind. … “Revelation” About the story: What if natural …

Beginnings 084 – Gods in Reduced Circumstances

They were out of bread. Naturally. Who would have fetched it? Apollo, who sat in the parlor, misquoting Homer? Epimetheus, who celebrated his freedom from Pandora by relinquishing all material goods, except those that weren’t his? Cerberus, whom the Furies had left ‘just for an hour, and please take him …

Beginnings 083 – Letters to Larry About Guns

Dear Larry, I got in! I’m a certified police recruit now, so watch yourself. Remember, I know all about your troubled past; I was in it. … “Letters to Larry About Guns” Disarm anthology Published 30-Apr-2017 About the story: An outspoken epistolary story about gun control.

Beginnings 082 – A Conversion of Crows

It moved forward in a crawl, jagged angles flowing over soil and stone alike, dawn shaping shadow and sun into beaks and talons that moved relentless toward her boot and over it. With a touch of her finger, the fern curled in on itself, withdrawing crags and fangs into a …

Beginnings 081 – Outburst

Earthlight sends jags of shadow crawling across the floor of the viewing bay, intangible reminders of the blowout that took #7 Arc, sent its occupants out into the dark. Killed my friends. Killed my parents. Killed my brother. They were at an Earthview, back when it was still a sick …

Beginnings 080 – Blue is the Color

It started with a routine flyby. Come within 1,000 km, scan and film, on to the next. In the rare case where there was something valuable enough to justify a Stellar Federation override of the pending commercial claim, we’d land, verify the data, plant a flag. Nothing to it, and …

Beginnings 079 – Chambers of the Heart

Despair and Ecstasy are the simplest. Ecstasy is the small and cozy room of a cottage that looks out on a broad meadow in the forest. In the spring, elk come to posture and to mate, and the wildflowers bloom on every side. In the fall, mist dances in silver …

Beginnings 078 – Susurrus

The wind whispers to her. In its hot, harsh voice, it whispers soft, cool lies. Oh, how it lies. Above the hiss of sand, the murmur of dunes, the wind lies about Shade, and Green, and, most of all, Water. She can smell it sometimes, the fresh clean scent of …

Beginnings 077 – Wyrm und Drang

Sure, I can breathe fire. It’s surprising how seldom that comes in handy when you have to change into a two ton dragon to do it. Melt a couple of your were-kin’s barbecues and you don’t get invited back much. It makes for a lot of awkward questions in the …

Beginnings 076 – Marshal Law, Ch. 11

Hanging is a terrible way to kill a man. When you hang a man, he jerks and sways and kicks like a dancing puppet. He fouls himself, but his manhood swells like he wants a woman. On all sides, there’s a crowd watching, jeering, crying. It takes a long time …

Beginnings 075 – Fetch

She had died from overheating. It was an unlikely death, in the star-spark darkness beyond the atmosphere, where the outside temperature measured in single digits. Yet temperature in space flight was a tricky thing. In Laika’s case, a part of the ship had failed to separate. Torn insulation and a …

Beginnings 074 – To the Wild Sea

The tide seeped away, grey water into black sand. It left her lime-green boots uncovered, anomalous. Just as well, thought Sarosh, turning her back on the sea. This planet could use some color. As it had used Richard, used her dreams; swallowed them whole, and left nothing but little grains …

Beginnings 073 – Graven Image

It’s about impressions. First impressions, last impressions, the creased and corrugated impressions that life leaves on our skin as it wears us down to our essentials, and eventually to nothing. I know about impressions; I’m in sales now. … “Graven Image” Metaphorosis Published 07-Sep-2018 About the story: Sometimes all an …

Beginnings 072 – Blush

I’ve been down in the heart of Wrinkletown, stood in the Blemish itself, with unmasked people as far as the eye can see. You get used to it. Eventually, you realize that wrinklies aren’t so bad. In fact, they’re just like normal people — just more open about it. … …

Beginnings 071 – I Don’t Care About Clifton Clowers

They say, “Don’t go on Wolverton Mountain if you’re looking for a wife.” Old Claude says that, anyway, and he don’t have a wife, so maybe he knows. He’s been up the mountain, he says. When he was “young and handsome”. So he says. … “I Don’t Care About Clifton …

Beginnings 070 – Dragons I Have Slain

I collect dragon tears. It isn’t difficult; they’re insidious and subtle, and they seep through my armor and into my skin like ink, leaving me stained, soiled, sorrowful — a human map of misery. The Dragon Atlas, I call it — marked with the precise locations of honor and shame. …

Beginnings 069 – Crying in the Salt House

The Salt House is built on tears, not of them. That is only a little joke the Bracque like to play. They tell to visitors that the blocks of pure, clear salt are the crystallized tears of children, and the rougher, grayer stones are the tears of the parents who …

Beginnings 068 – Revenge of the Snakefish

Paul Xanthus looked at the crumpled, lightly steaming wreckage of his scoutship and frowned. “Born for trouble,” he declared. “The only habitable planet in a cluster full of rocks, and I manage to crash. At least I chose a nice spot for it.” The yellow sun sent reflections twinkling off …

Beginnings 067 – Nightmantle

A Darkage Press review Pro: unmatched tool for dark-cloaking and umbral manipulation Con: availability issues. Bottom line: The greatest darkside tool since night itself … “Nightmantle” About the story:

Beginnings 066 – Crash Boom Bang

Crash. Boom. Bang. # The ship crashed and exploded. Afterwards, the base collapsed. … “Crash Boom Bang” BMorrisAllen.com Published 24-Feb-2013 About the story: The same story at several different lengths, but different each time.

Beginnings 065 – Seven Shells

Darkness spread over the town of Eaglesmith, rippling over its sandy street in the long, tall form of a giant, stretching ten feet from wide brimmed hat to the toes of the Marshal’s high boots. It was noon. High noon. A time when vagrants and varmints and no’counts of all …

Beginnings 064 – Feral Gnomes

“They’ve been here. I can smell them.” The gnome catcher wrinkled her formidable nose, nostrils expanding like bat wings. “In fact,…” I sniffed tentatively. Paperwhites, a hint of apple blossom, the chemical reek of geranium. No gnomes. “What do they smell like?” I asked with a smile. For all their …

Beginnings 063 – Stamp of Approval

“And so, children, that’s how I saved the kingdom. Without me, all would have been lost, and you,” the old man’s eyes twinkled, “would now be slaves of the troll king. Or maybe,” his eyes widened, “his dinner!” At the last word, his thin arms arched out over the children …

Beginnings 062 – When Dooryards First in the Lilac Bloomed

The thrush led me astray. He with his puffed-out speckled chest and spindly legs, his impudent beak gated open and closed in song. He that stole my love, and left me desolate, cold, and lonely in the night; that secret, eremitic bird, with his liquid, taunting morning song. From high …

Beginnings 061 – Some Sun and Delilah

“I’ll cut your hair,” she said impulsively one evening. “You’re getting shaggy, and far too blond with all this sun.” We were vacationing in the islands, trusting the fresh sea winds to bring life to stale hopes. We sat half-naked on limestone dust as soft as flour, and sifted it …

Beginnings 060 – Consideration

“Pluck it out!” The voice came from his right. He felt vaguely distant, dead to sensation. “What?” he managed. “If it bothers you.” A strong hand swooped in, a tanned arm. “The eyes always get to me. They watch. Like you.” The hand selected something from the table, vanished. There …

Beginnings 059 – Adaptations to Coastal Erosion

It was after summer that Nora started to sink. Just footsteps a little deeper than usual; she saw them as she came back on her walk, comparing her outgoing, energetic pace to her homecoming, philosophical one. The prints were firm and well defined in the hard wet sand, but deep, …

Beginnings 058 – O!

“A soul?” The shopkeeper was a small, wiry man, with eyes the color of warm caramel. “I’m afraid not, ma’am. Not really in our line, you see.” … “O!” Fantasy Scroll Published 27-Jun-2016 About the story:

Beginnings 057 – Waiting for the Winter

She knows that winter is coming. She knows she won’t survive. But for now the cool air of a last fall is merely bracing as she looks down over the long dirt road, the fences, the walls. Beneath her, the hillside is solid, the grass still hardy and green over …

Beginnings 056 – Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

Apparently Hades was better. That’s what Angie said, anyway. She’d never been there, but she said she had friends who knew. I had my doubts. “Penny for your thoughts?” That’s Angie, always kidding around. Anyone with a penny would be long gone from this sea of mud and flesh, instead …

Beginnings 055 – Payback

The shop is empty, floor dusty, windows shuttered. A trail in the dust marks a path to the back wall, where the proprietor stands with her only trade goods – herself. … “Payback” Published 27-Feb-2015 About the story: A shop that sells revenge.

Beginnings 054 – Contrast

“It can’t be stolen.” The big man shook his head, and swallowed the last of his juice. He pointed at the empty cup, and from beside the table a service Hand extended a pitcher. Its soft blue long-arm was steady, a short-arm ready with towels in case of any spill. …

Beginnings 053 – Blackthorn

There is a black thorn bush up on the hill, where the slope is too steep to farm, and too bare for deer. The branches of the bush are splintered and thin, its core twisted and rough. The bush crouches in a rocky clearing at the edge of the forest, …

Beginnings 052 – Crivăț and the Snow Curse

Once upon a time, winter was cold. Not cold like it is now, but really cold. So cold that your breath would freeze as soon as it left your mouth, making a cloud of shiny little icicles that fell to the ground with a faint tinkling sound. It was pretty, …

Beginnings 051 – The Path from l’Ome

There is only one way into paradise. It enters a valley that is wide and high, ringed about by cliffs and ridges and, at the western end, sky blue glacier creeping slowly down to the fields. The soil is deep, the product of millennial cycles of ice and melt, cracking …

Beginnings 050 – The Coping Saw

Commuters trickled slowly into the subway station across the street, the detritus of industry’s great machine as it patiently wore away life to leave behind the smooth outline of success. Dust motes were vacuumed away to suburbia, to be recycled overnight into grit for the commercial polisher. Mixed metaphors, she …

Beginnings 049 – Autumn Mist

The dragon was old. Old and tired, and a little bitter. Oh, it was well enough for a young dragon to talk about ‘later’, when it was something far away. A young dragon had his work, his companions, maybe a little of the fancy stuff; he had a long life …

Beginnings 048 – For this Rich Earth

Gather around, children, and I’ll tell you a tale of beginnings, and of ends, and means. This is a story of the early days, when the world was quiet, a story of the time before men. In fact, it is the story of the first man. Come sit by me, …

Beginnings 047 – Start with Stones

Down by the creek, a dark figure moved in the mist. From the door of her drystone cottage, the crofter watched it curiously. A long day’s work called softly on the wind that brought leaves rustling down from hard, dry fields above. The crofter sighed as she thought of fieldstone …

Beginnings 046 – The Stone in the Sword

Deep in the woods, where the trees broke into a clearing, a man and a badger sat having a picnic. The man sat with his back to a small, weathered boulder, smooth but for a narrow and strangely regular crevice in its top. He was middle-aged, but his eyes held …

Beginnings 045 – Crust

The bed was too short. Or, as my brother Archie would have said, I was too long. Archie was always ready with a joke. It seemed incongruous in a soldier built like a tank, but the members of his elite battalion said it took the stress away, helped them concentrate …

Beginnings 044 – Dancing Through Winter

We danced in the darkness, my mother and I, stepping lightly from note to note. If we sometimes missed our footing, we caught each other before we fell. We could have turned on the lights, I suppose. The portable reactor on the lower level would last longer than either of …

Beginnings 043 – House of Hope

As the last merlons fall from my last tall tower, I remember I remember the first cold shock of hammer, the fractured sense of loss that preceded self. As flames reach the last timbers of my last sub-dungeon, I remember the first bite of axe, the sharp tongue of plane. …

Beginnings 042 – Tocsin

Don’t ask, as the waves crash against you, and froth covers your camera ports. The yellowish spume drips slowly down the glass again, its acid etching faint new designs over the old. The froth is tenacious, clinging until an unusually tall swell submerges you, pulling your cable taut against the …

Beginnings 041 – My Trip to the Awe Tanks

Dear Diary, My class went to the awe tanks last Fivday. Mom told me to write about my trip so I’ll remember when I’m older. Dad always told me not to write stuff down, but I put a password on, so it’s okay. … “My Trip to the Awe Tanks” …

Beginnings 040 – “Oh no, not again”

With a soft fizz, space expanded, contracted, and just plain oscillated. The fabric of space-time frayed, cosmic strings unwound, and muons dissolved into the merest hint of sub-sub-atomic matter. Reality was suspended, if temporarily, and with a note from its doctors. … ““Oh no, not again”” BMorrisAllen.com Published 24-Feb-2013 About …

Beginnings 039 – At Stake

The smoke is thicker now, a greasy yellow-grey that swirls and dances between me and the crowd. They are not getting the show they paid for, and it makes them angrier. Even the hiss and crackle of green leaves and dry logs cannot disguise the hatred in their voices. If …

Beginnings 038 – Palimpsest

A man arrived as a force of nature, cyclone and sandstorm bound up in one, thunder and earthquake with a purpose. He approached the town in a crash of energies, a flare of fuss, but was halted at the town limits by an octagonal sign. … “Palimpsest” Metaphorosis: a collection …

Beginnings 037 – Coup de Tart

“I didn’t do it!” a voice cried. The cell door slammed, fraying the voice with the shards of brittle echoes. “I don’t know what it is,” the speaker whispered to the silence that followed. He leaned forward against the chains that held him upright, arms outstretched like a martyr fresh …

Beginnings 036 – The Girl Who Just Went Wrong

I live in the shadows. There are lots to choose from when he’s around, so I guess I’ve made a virtue of necessity, as Mom likes to say. She should be proud. She isn’t. She told me so just the other day. … “The Girl Who Just Went Wrong” Start …

Beginnings 035 – All’s Fair

In a dark, dank cave, the dim glow of spent coals sent spiky shadows jerking across rough walls. The old forces sat in silence for a time, pondering the dismal morning to come. At last, however, one rose to her feet. “I have done my best,” said Pain, “I have …

Beginnings 034 – Parabolic

An old man sat in a cave, surrounded by an audience that strove to follow him, though he did not move. After a day and a night of silence, he spoke in a creaky voice: A man chose a massive gravestone, Of thick granite with deep-cut letters. “I shall be …

Beginnings 033 – The Dark Distillery

There’s a gleam of light from up above, and I spin rapidly, throwing my black cape up as a shield. But it’s gone, and the room is dark again, the way it should be. It was my daughter, no doubt; she found the removable knot in my bedroom floor a …

Beginnings 032 – The Dark Still Towers

Dark, still towers rise into the sky, forcing a reluctant sun to struggle past them into the heavens. The towers are out of place on the shifting, turning sand of this desert island. If the island were larger, one might imagine that they were intended as markers, reminders, placekeepers of …

Beginnings 031 – Waning

The old king rattled his bones. That was what the younger knights at the table called it, when they thought he couldn’t hear them, when they thought his famously keen senses could be overcome by the riot of laughter and ribald conversation. Despite the fire in the great hall, he …

Beginnings 030 – Shadow

In the highest room of a dark tower in the hills, a raven croaks angrily as the cold winds ruffles his feathers. A clap like thunder drowns his complaint. Sigils flicker on long, fluttering streamers as air rushes to fill a sudden absence at the center of the room. A …

Beginnings 029 – Hivernaculum

I hold the egg carefully before me with my mandibles and my forelimbs. The egg is smooth and white and beautiful. It is light, but I have just received it from the Queen, and it still glistens with mucus. I must hold it with care. The egg is paramount! … …

Beginnings 028 – Maison d’Etre

The house stands foursquare on the corner of Thurman, a stolid, enduring presence of granite and slate. It has been there ‘forever’, the neighbours say, and the earliest photographs of the town back them up. Before that … the Atfalati and Wappato tribes scattered long ago, and I’ve never run …

Beginnings 027 – The Matter of God

I was never very religious, though I went to church with friends when I was young; I liked the singing. But my parents were agnostics, and I was too, once I was old enough to think about it. Henry, though… Henry was a deep-down, committed atheist. He knew there were …

Beginnings 026 – The First Assembly of God

Science is all about trial and error. It’s hard to get the balance right. “Insert knob A in hole B, it says here.” Ulayk held up the detailed instruction manual with one claw as he pointed out a diagram with his longest antenna. … “The First Assembly of God” Weirdyear …

Beginnings 025 – The Speed of Winter

The average speed of winter is 5 meters per second in the steppe and in the desert, but only 2 meters per second in the valleys. When I first read those words as a girl, I did not understand what they meant. I was in the high plains of my …

Beginnings 024 – One Fine Day in Asgard

“Just blow the thing already!” The speaker, a muscular young man in a bright blue tunic with a broad yellow belt, tossed a large hammer impatiently from hand to hand. … “One Fine Day in Asgard” Metaphorosis: a collection of stories Published 22-Jun-2013 About the story: What happens before Ragnarok …

Beginnings 023 – Curiosity and the Zombie Cat

She opened her eyes, groggy and disoriented. She blinked several times to no effect. She climbed unsteadily to her feet, falling several times as she explored the small space. It was, she determined by bumping her tender head into hard walls, a contained area, about one cat length by two. …

Beginnings 022 – The Maze of Luned

In the air above a world called Xwre, an eagle named Ethon circles vigilantly. She is vigilant because she has been slain once, and she has no wish to experience that fate again. She circles because she is waiting, as she has waited for aeons. … “The Maze of Luned” …

Beginnings 021 – Shear Terror

The old man sitting at the bar smiled cynically at the young barbarian by his side. “Don’t smile cynically at me,” complained Glurg. … “Shear Terror” About the story: Epic fantasy can be funny!

Beginnings 020 – Grand Central

As Walter came into the station he saw the usual groups of young people, sitting on the floor waiting for the three AM and four AM trains. They would wait until about ten before going to sleep on their jackets or sleeping bags. They knew from experience that the police …

Beginnings 019 – Victim of Changes

No matter how angry they were, his pursuers would need hours to dig away the fallen stone behind him. How fortunate, he thought sardonically, that the key support for the passage’s ceiling had turned out to be this support beam at the end. He tossed the thin pole aside with …

Beginnings 018 – Silver Lining

Wolf’s bane. It’s properly arnica montana, but my grandfather insisted on the more colorful term; something to do with his service in the Long War way back when. I have my doubts about how pivotal this stuff was, since it’s also known as ‘leopard’s bane’, and we don’t get a …

Beginnings 017 – The Digital Revival

“Remind me again what we’re doing here,” muttered Carl as his partner smashed a cudgel through a small window in a thick steel door. In the distant guardhouse, lights began to flash. … “The Digital Revival” Anti-SF Published 01-Apr-2013 About the story: Two thugs break into Area 52.

Beginnings 016 – Spring and the Arachnodactylist

Long, slender fingers enclosed the book, captured it in a cradle of skin and bone. The book, a paperback space opera in the grand style of ‘Doc’ Smith, fluttered occasionally in a half-hearted way, but made no real effort to get free. Now being read for the third time, it …

Beginnings 015 – Manifest Destiny

On the day that Kvald of the Sword came to the fabled City of Fate, black clouds covered the sky, thunder rumbled in the distance, and the wind howled unceasingly. The atmosphere, in short, was foreboding. … “Manifest Destiny” Start with Stones: collected stories Published 22-Jun-2013 About the story: When …

Beginnings 014 – Last Train

“Old-time Rail Yard,” the sign said. The man standing in front of the Transportation Museum read it carefully. For the next three days, a small room in the annex off the main museum would exhibit the trains and other rail equipment that had once operated in or around the Greater …

Beginnings 013 – … Crash Like Thunder

It was a hum of warning buzzers when it was spotted at system’s edge. It was a rumble of fear when it passed through the Engsson barrier and immediately began evasive maneuvers. And it was the deep, slow toll of a bell when it orbited Norbeq IV and the bombs …

Beginnings 012 – Drive Like Lightning …

She is a flash of yellow when she drops out of FTL, going .9 c in a sleek ship marred by a tracery of energy-weapon scars. She is a spray of actinic blue when she crashes through the Engsson barrier at the edge of Norbeq system. And she is a …

Beginnings 011 – Metaphorosis

Like the sound of soft fingers on skin, green palm fronds whispered amongst themselves. Their soft breath caressed his cheek as he listened for the slight scratching of frond cilia against stiff palm trunks. … “Metaphorosis” Metaphorosis: a collection of stories Published 22-Jun-2013 About the story: Never change, sweetheart. Not …

Beginnings 010 – After the Fall

The faint sound of music filtered through gauzy curtains and into the reception hall. As far as Rezin was concerned, it could just filter right on out again, through the gracefully arched windows and over the soft green lawn to the shimmering lake in the distance. And take that damnable …

Beginnings 009 – Barren Witness

A low moaning sound floated over the horizon. Another Inchkar, no doubt, sacrificing himself to one pathetic god or other. The moaning was not from the sacrifice, of course. The Inchkar were devout, stoic – they took stoicism to a new level. Rezin spat, precious moisture on the cracked, parched …

Beginnings 008 – The Devil and Ms Koslovich

The news ended, and Mary Koslovich turned off her television. The knob clicked, and she listened to the odd, high pitched whine that the old set emitted. It faded quickly, and she rose from her comfortable chair. In a moment, the alarm would go off, warning her that it was …

Beginnings 007 – Proteus’ Revenge

I was a garrulous person once, but Bergen Evans changed all that. Words, according to Mr. Evans, are living protean things. … “Proteus’ Revenge” Twisted Dreams Published 01-Oct-2011 About the story: Just as it says – based on running across a Bergen Evans quote.

Beginnings 006 – Sophistication

Rick Henson was probably the most sophisticated person I ever met. He was one of those people who can take the last cookie when you offer them around, and then tell you later how good it was. He took candy from his little nephews and nieces regularly. … “Sophistication” About …

Beginnings 005 – Sacrifice

“I challenge you.” The words rang out clear and crisp as the air of the cool fall morning. The speaker, a young, dark-haired man, held his staff high above his head in a stiff, formal gesture. Brilliant white robes fell back from slim arms ornamented with silver bands. … “Sacrifice” …

Beginnings 004 – Blind

I see her in the pool, colored by the autumn hues around me: hair the deep red-brown of leaves, skin the pale yellow of a late flower. Only her eyes have no color. There is no reflection there, and the clear blue of the pool fills them. … “Blind” Absent …

Beginnings 003 – Tarot Woman

A unicorn raised one hoof in salute to the small red snake coiled beside a sparkling stream. In the background, pale pink flowers contrasted with the mossy green of tree roots and trunks. … “Tarot Woman” About the story: A anti-hero and the woman who tries to help him. Inspired …

Beginnings 002 – Erm the Invincible

“The ogre,” they told Erm, “is unstoppable.” “Nonsense,” he replied. “Nothing is unstoppable.” … “Erm the Invincible” Allenthology Published 25-Sep-2015 About the story: About a hero who fights monsters with a little too much confidence..

Beginnings 001 – The Orange Donkey

My name is Jules, I am a boy, 12 years old, and I live on a farm. When I saw Alfred (that was the only name that fit him), I knew I had to have him. I was on my way back from the town school, and I ran the …