The Kirkwood Scott Chronicles: Skelly’s Square

War! Adventure! Boring desk jobs! Drinking! Compulsions! Evil paranormal enemies?

A week ago Monday, I got a very long-anticipated book in the mail.

I met Stephen Black way back when he followed my blog as part of growing his. He’s moved on to securing 11,000+ followers, finishing his manuscript, and finally (FINALLY!) publishing.

Even though I’m deathly envious of his success, I’m also freakin’ proud. Great job, Stephen!

But what about the book??

Skelly’s Square is only my second or third experience with reading a newbie author’s work. Plus, I’ve known Stephen through his blog’s awkward teenage years. Plus, I’m a …bit of a spelling and grammar fiend.

-Which didn’t matter in the slightest. To me, an excellent book is one I get lost in. Somewhere along the way I’m part of the characters and story; we’re seamless and it’s beautiful. Skelly’s Square became just such an experience for me.

Colonel Augustus Skelly is the name of a man the main character, Kirkwood Scott, sees in very realistic visions. Skelly is a demon of sorts. He preys on Scott’s Obsessive Compulsive Disorder by making him follow a series of routines determined by dice rolls. These routines are called The 49. Scott knows storms, tempests, abductions, and death around the world will happen should he refuse The 49.

In the midst of a life ruled by this and periods of blackout drinking to avoid it, Scott stumbles across a homeless young woman, Meredith Starc. Starc also practices alcoholic numbing because of a depressive event in her past.

The two, and cosmic forces interested in keeping them down, cross paths. Why? What is their importance? How can they possibly mean anything toward …the fate of the world?

Stephen Black’s delivered a doozy of a first novel. Skelly’s Square is a creation to be proud of. Plus, it’s an engaging fantasy adventure to boot!

Go, visit Amazon and pick up your own.

Do it!!

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©2019 Chelsea Owens

Wilhelmina Winters, One Hundred

Mrs. Riles surveyed her unwilling pupils. Each one engaged in a personal style of avoiding attention: itching an imagined irritant, reading over his paper, or feigning interest in the unadorned walls. Eeny, meeny, miny, “Ms. Winters.”

Wil looked up; by every appearance surprised to be sitting in a classroom, let alone addressed by name. The reaction, in turn, unsettled her teacher enough to soften her tone. “Would you please read your composition, Ms. Winters?”

“Oh!” Wil scrabbled around her desk before successfully retrieving the small pile of papers sitting on top. Stumbling out of the seat and legs, she clumped up to the front of the room and turned to face her peers. She read over the top page, not seeing it; glanced back up at the sea of teenagers. One yawned. Most settled into positions of boredom. Reagan, two rows back and next to the wall, made an expectant gesture to continue whilst smiling her trademark smirk.

Wil smiled in return and resumed her task. The typed symbols resolved to readable English letters. “Harriet Tubman, Moses of America.”

*MRS. RILES!* the ancient loudspeaker on the wall crackled. Their school secretary, Mrs. Bird, never formed her requests as a question.

Mrs. R. did not hide her irritation. “Yes?”

*SEND WILHELMINA WINTERS TO THE OFFICE TO CHECK OUT.*

In case anyone thought to defy the blaring wall speaker, Mrs. Bird added *NOW!* She crackled off with a high screech.

Wil, her class, and the teacher winced; then took turns looking from one to the other to the other in surprise. “Well,” Mrs. R. finally concluded, “Get your -oh.” She saw that Wil had nothing waiting at her desk. “Erm -hand in your report, Ms. Winters, and we’ll continue this another time.”

Wil stood, uncertain.

“Wil?” Wil met her teacher’s eyes, and felt calmed by their focus. Mrs. R.’s features resolved to an unusually kind expression. “Wil, come here.” Clunking in her heavy boots and bumping the odd desk, Wil went to her teacher. “May I have your report, please?” Her hands obeyed. “Thank you.”

“Now,” Mrs. R. said, “I think you’d better go to the office. We’ll see you in two days.”

Wil nodded; found her voice. “Okay.” She made it to the door before thinking to add, “Thank you, Mrs. Riles.”

Her teacher, in answer, waved her on. She was already focused on selecting her next victim. Wil didn’t know what lay in store for her at the office, but felt a distinct relief at being rescued from her own oral report.

 

Continued from Ninety-Nine.
Keep reading to One Hundred One.

 

©2019 Chelsea Owens

The Apple

Doug stared at the cursor which marked the end of a lengthy piece. A smashing piece, really; one for which he might garner literary praise.

-If not for a little thing called conscience. Doug’s finger poised over the ‘Submit’ option, pulled back.

It’s not a factual article. Don’t publish it.

His conscience sounded deeper than Jiminy Cricket but was no less annoying. He was a grown man, working for The Apple, for the love of -! Well! He, Doug, was not to be bullied by a fantastical creature.

He clicked the button, releasing his minor poison to the unsuspecting masses.

Written, factually, for Charli’s prompt at Carrot Ranch.

August 8, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a poisoned apple. Let’s explore dark myth. Deconstruct the original or invent something new. Negotiate the shadows, shed light, but go where the prompt leads you!

Respond by August 13, 2019. Use the comment section below to share, read, and be social. You may leave a link, pingback, or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form.  Rules & Guidelines.

 

©2019 Chelsea Owens

Wilhelmina Winters, Ninety-Nine

“Martin Luther King, Jr.,” read the boy at the head of the room. Although class had been in session for ten minutes; his audience yawned, fidgeted, dozed, or daydreamed.

Equally glassy-eyed, Wil blinked. Her eyes fixed on the white board behind the boy –Lucas? Most of her thoughts were miles away.

Lucas took the top paper of the pile he gripped and stuffed it, crinkling, to the back. He sighed and continued in a monotone, “Martin Luther King, Jr., original name Michael King, Jr., born January 15, 1929, Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.—died April 4, 1968, Memphis, Tennessee…”

Wil’s head drooped. She longed for her book, nestled back home in her covers without her. She frowned in thought. No, she wished to be with her book in her bed.

“…Baptist minister and social activist who led the civil rights movement in the United States from the mid-1950s until his death by assassination in 1968…”

In the pause he took to breathe, Mrs. Riles piped up. In unison, she and Lucas recited, “His leadership was fundamental to that movement’s success in ending the legal segregation of African Americans in the South and other parts of the United States…”

Their impromptu act awakened a few students. A few tittered, realizing what Mrs. R. was doing. The laughter, more than his teacher’s synchronized recital, caused Lucas to stop and look up. Mrs. R.’s expression when he did so caused him to swallow. Hard.

“Mr. Hampton.”

“Miss -Mrs. Riles?” he stuttered. His peers watched, now alert.

His interrogator and their mutual instructor appeared amused, like a python enjoying a joke. “Would you like to tell me how I was able to read your report, word-for-word, from my phone?”

The snake’s victim shook his head and dropped his eyes to his pages; which, in turn, he dropped to rest against his legs. One sneakered foot brushed the other, and back.

“I think you’d better sit down. We can talk some more about this after class.”

Lucas nodded and shuffled back to his seat.

“Right,” Mrs. R. said in a brighter tone. “So… who’s next?”

 

Continued from Ninety-Eight.
Keep reading to One Hundred.

All text about Martin Luther King, jr. obviously and intentionally swiped from The Encyclopedia Britannica.

 

©2019 Chelsea Owens

“It’s not irrelevant, those moments of connection, those places where fiction saves your life. It’s the most important thing there is.”

-Neil Gaiman, Newbery Medal acceptance speech for The Graveyard Book at the annual conference of the American Library Association in Chicago, July 12, 2009.

Wilhelmina Winters, Ninety-Eight

Wil and her father hadn’t time nor thought for conversation. The old Winters sedan sped along at a rate Wil worried over, given its age. Not until a few blocks from school did she realize the tire wasn’t flat anymore.

“You fixed the car!” she exclaimed.

Rob grunted. Wil remembered that her father preferred one task at a time. He also preferred that task to never be talking. Still, she wanted to cheer him up some. “Good work,” she ventured, stealing a peripheral glance. His profile softened and the half-mouth she could see almost smiled.

They rode the final street in their former silence. Wil’s school loomed out of the morning grey. Rob tore toward its curb and parked next to an old patch of slush. Besides a few straggling teenagers arriving in similar fashion to Wil’s; the muddy, uphill patch of dead grass to the doors was empty.

“‘Bye, Dad!” She stole a kiss on her father’s cheek, caught her pullover on her seatbelt, and forgot to pull the door latch to open it. She was too busy extricating herself from belt and car to see her father’s quick, swallowed smile.

The door slammed behind her as he answered, “‘Bye, Mina.” She raced up the slippery lawn. Rob watched in tired bemusement before pulling away; he needed to get to work.

Not until Wil entered the school itself and made for her locker did she notice she’d forgotten her bag. Doing a quick about-face, she thanked whatever Being lived above that Mr. Saltz hardly cared if anyone even showed up to his class. English would be the only difficulty; they needed to bring their novel to read aloud.

“It’s not like half the class can read anyway…” she muttered. She stomped down the hall, preoccupied. Her left boot wheezed a soft *Eeeee* as she walked. Upstairs, left, straight she walked. Maybe Miss Riles will loan me a book. Formulating a future conversation in her mind, she turned and walked into the Math classroom.

And straight into her teacher. “Oh!” Mr. S. said, surprised.

Wil stopped dead. All eyes were on her and all the faces showed equal surprise to the teacher’s, but not for long. A snicker started somewhere and it soon spread to the rest of her peers.

Mr. S. appeared at a loss. He’d been interrupted mid-lecture by a student, and the other students seemed diverted. Wil took advantage of his distraction and made for the nearest empty spot. She sat and faced forward; every inch an attentive, responsible pupil.

Their teacher cleared his throat. He glanced back at his notes on the white board; unfortunately, he hadn’t written anything there yet. “Hmmm,” he said. His eyes fell on his packet on the desk. “Ah! Exponents!”

The lecture resumed; allowing the rest of the class to return to their usual, inattentive behaviors. Wil hoped she could manage the remainder of the day without drawing attention to herself. Given her experience, she doubted it.

 

Continued from Ninety-Seven.
Keep reading to Ninety-Nine.

 

©2019 Chelsea Owens

Wilhelmina Winters, Ninety-Seven

*Clunk* *Clunk* *Clunk*

Woolykind Wil lifted from her cozy sleeping hole, confusion and pieces of her surroundings clinging to her.

*Clunk* *Clunk* “Mina?” *Clunk* “Wilhelmina? Are you awake? You locked the door.”

Wil shook the detritus and dreams from her consciousness. Her present world caught up to her through a thick fog. There’d been fog in her dream. Then the truck stop. Toward the end this time; just before the loud noise outside, just before she’d returned to her bedroom, she’d sensed someone calling to her.

Someone from the shadows.

“Mina!”

“What?!”

Her father paused. She could barely catch his next words. “…Um, it’s time to go.” She could picture him standing outside in the hall, rubbing his face in confusion. “You slept in.”

Wil blinked and looked at her clock. It supported her father’s claim. “Ack!” Galvanized to action; she leapt from bed, stumbled over to the light switch, and illuminated her cluttered bedroom. There, pants! There, pullover!

She opened the door to find her father still standing, still rubbing. Though his usual manner evidenced little sleep, he had the gaunt appearance of a man barely alive. The specter spoke, “Cynth- your mo- erm..”

Wil felt pity. “Don’t worry, Dad. Cynthia is my mom.”

Rob blinked and focused on his daughter’s face, his coloring but not its shape. His eyes but not his shape. A curling mane of dark hair that never could have come from him. “Thank you.”

They both smiled, and it didn’t matter whose it was.

“Your mother said to make sure you showered, but …” he glanced at his phone. “Maybe at least do deodorant.”

Daa-aad!

Rob had the grace to look sheepish. “I’ll meet you at the door in five.” He hadn’t the time to turn before Wil slammed back into her room, his steps solid but not loud enough to block the hasty, flustered noises of preparation coming from behind his daughter’s door.

 

Continued from Ninety-Six.
Keep reading to Ninety-Eight.

 

©2019 Chelsea Owens

Where the Wild Things Were

This is one of the most fantastic pieces I’ve ever read.

Lunch Break Fiction

I walk towards the exit, beneath the Homecoming decorations. Shoulders crash into me, feet tripping my steps. They call me ugly. Gross. A freak.

On good days I’m ignored by the monsters. By teachers, by girls, hopefully by Tate Spiller. In the locker room, I dodge spitballs and wads of toilet paper thrown at my back. Then I go outside, walk the track and wait for the whistle.

I want to go back. To sail for weeks and through a day. To leave this forsaken place, where they are all the same. The same wicked smiles and the same stupid faces. The world all around is the same.

The things warned me not to leave. And I should have listened. I told them to be still and they stilled. They were frightened, rapt with wonder. I should have stayed and been a great king. In the wild I was a…

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Adult Swim

“I can’t stand no longer,” I tell Mama, but she gives me That Look; so I wobble and watch the grown-ups flop around slowly like old, fat whales-

“Maahm,” I start. Now Janie shoots me The Look an’ it’s just like Mama’s -but I can tell that Janie wants ’em to hurry jus’ as much as me, ’cause up she goes on her toes then back down.

The whole line of us kids is bobbing and dancin’ -I think maybe the lifeguard sees; for, jus’ when I know we’re gonna jump, we fin’lly hear the whistle.

An’ we run.

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Finally delivered for Carrot Ranch‘s writing prompt this week.

June 20, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about having to wait. Who is waiting and what for? Think about how the wait impacts the character or the story. Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by June 25, 2019. Use the comment section below to share, read, and be social. You may leave a link, pingback, or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form.  Rules & Guidelines.

 

Photo Credit:
Photo by Marc Richards from Pexels

 

©2019 Chelsea Owens

Wilhelmina Winters, Ninety-Six

Wil left the table after a requisite number of tuna casserole bites, hungry and self-pitying. The dark, narrow hallway seemed even more constricting; the dim bathroom bulb even dimmer; the tasteless toothpaste more tasteful for the lingering tuna remains. “Ugh!” she spat, swirled, spat again. She scowled a deeper expression at the girl in the glass, but her reflection matched and even exceeded her gloom.

A distinct *Ku-huh* *Kuh-huh* from the kitchen paused the glaring session. Wil and her shadow listened, a bridge of concern across their united brow, as Cynthia had her coughing session. “They’re happening much more,” Wil and Mirror-Wil whispered. They frowned and their deep, dark eyes spoke helplessness.

Wil exited the bathroom. Parent shadows crossed the hall on their way to the couch and sounds of scrambling soon led to the ever-present breathing machine. Wil stood, caught by fear, till her mother’s deep-throat coughs were tamed by the nebulizer’s magic.

She heard another sound: a chair scraped from the table and careless steps to the sink. Knowing that meant the immediate appearance of Jakob, she squeaked and scampered to the safety of her room and shut the door. After locking the knob, she threw herself atop the messy bed. Clothes, blankets, homework, and an open book or two caught her flying form and held her in their comforting familiarity. “There, there,” her favorite pullover soothed. “We understand,” the nearest novel assured her.

Wil hiccuped a few times but managed not to soil her bedthings with tears. She kicked a shoe free and pulled the second from a bent-leg position. Taking careful aim, tongue in teeth, eyes squinted tight; she threw the sneaker at her push-button wall switch. With a *clunk* the light went off. The shoe dropped.

Woolykind Wil, most respected member of the flying squirrel chapter of The Treetop Dwellers, sniffed and snuffled round her nest. She felt each treasured material with pride, moving things this way and that to arrange them just-so.

It had been a busy day in the forest and Wooly felt tired. She’d gathered food for her group. They’d been a tad ungrateful, to be sure, but she’d done her best. After all, flying was more her forte than food collection ever was.

Burrowing into the most comfortable heap of warm leaves, twigs, and discarded scraps around her; she sighed. Tomorrow would be better. Maybe there’d even be acorns. She fell asleep dreaming of better things.

 

Continued from Ninety-Five.
Keep reading to Ninety-Seven.

 

©2019 Chelsea Owens