Tag Archives: paranormal.

Widdershins, my nano project Chapter 8

Disclaimer, this had not been edited and may well be modified when it is.

The morning shone clear and the roads were relatively clear, having had no snowfall the previous night by the look of things. Still, Rowan engaged the four by four, aware how treacherous the route through the mountains could become with a simple puff of wind, or an animal setting off an avalanche. Even the Icefields Parkway was closed; something he regretted as he would have preferred the route to Vancouver through Jasper rather than Banff. Still, it meant getting to Kelowna quicker, which was a good thing. Walmart would be open by the time they arrived and the staff probably too sleepy to pay much attention to people. He hoped there wasn’t going to be a fuss about Morgan getting new clothes from there because he really didn’t have time to start shopping at the sort of places the surviving remnants of her clothing indicated that she preferred. On top of that he didn’t want people to notice them and she was a pretty girl. Dress her up right and she would be stunning. A glint of sunlight ground into his eyes from the rear-view mirror; he winced, tired eyes watering.

Morgan lightly touched his arm. “Can I drive? I could use a change.”

“Thanks, but no. You are too new to trust behind the wheel. If you saw a prey beast you may well go off road after it with the truck and then we would be stuck in the mountains. It is a very, very long run to a decent town.” That reminded him, he needed to also purchase kiddie back packs so they could take their possessions with them if they needed to shift into fur. He flexed his shoulders, trying to get out the kinks, aware some were caused by tension. Sooner or later he was going to be cornered into an awkward conversation with Morgan on the subject of clothes and shifting. He had to hope she could be sensible over the choices.

“Why is a vampire head of a mob and how does he get away with this? Don’t the rest of them know what he is?”

Dammit, if only the old bat had not found them last night. Now his puppy had a whole host more of questions requiring answers. He really didn’t want her making them stand out by looking up at the sky every five minutes, like she was doing now.

She poked him in the ribs. “Look, you might as well talk to me. It is a good way to stay alert when you are driving tired.”

Rowan now remembered precisely why he preferred his own space, rather than sharing with a female, who chattered. He guessed she wasn’t about to let up, convinced she needed to stop him falling asleep at the wheel. “If you were in a mob and your leader could drain your blood if you didn’t behave, what would you do? Stand up to him?”

Morgan rooted around in the carrier bag of stuff she had taken from the cabin for tissues and a water bottle. A small mirror with suction cups on one side followed. She tried sticking the mirror to the windshied first, but that didn’t work too well because of the slope, so she stuck it to the glass on the passenger window, to begin wiping off the now cracked and messy makeup. “I thought his bite would turn the victim into a creature like himself?”

“Oh, it will if he wishes.” Morgan sighed, accepting that this was going to be a long session. “He would need to give the victim some of his own blood once he had drained all of theirs. That is how a person would get turned. Borinsky is very unlikely to do that as he would end up having to share power. Sharing is not one of his strong points.”

“But how does a vampire get in control in the first place? I mean, it must be difficult when a person can’t go out in daytime. No banks, no formal documents, as those offices will not be open at night.”

Yes, this was going to make for a very long morning. “He is very old and very wealthy. Internet banking is very convenient for all sorts of reasons and as for documentation, why would he want that if he has people fronting for him? If he doesn’t exist, he doesn’t have to pay taxes. He wouldn’t need a driver’s license, either, now would he?”

“But surely he would need one if it was raining?”

Oh boy, she was going to go into every last detail, while all he wanted to do was quietly think through a plan of action. How could he shut her up? “That is what minions are for. But what about you? Exactly what did you see to land you in this mess in the first place?”

And the floodgates opened. She began her story, starting when she got up on that fateful day, the clothes she chose and who she had intended to meet. Rowan smiled and made encouraging noises while he let his mind drift in the direction of their problems right now.

Rowan had decided to buy an eyewash by the time he pulled into the parking lot in front of Walmart. His eyes felt like they had been rubbed in sand, but he was still alert. By his side Morgan had the window wound down a little and was taking in the aromas. He could smell the meat, too. The Macdonald’s burger joint inside the store was firing up. Yes, they had to eat and soon. He wondered how disappointed the girl would be when she dug into her meal, which brought him to another decision.

“Here is the plan. We go into the store for you to pick your clothes and then you meet me at the electronics, where I will be getting a phone. Once we are done we get a take out from McDonald’s. Figure out what you want while you are shopping and remember they will be serving the breakfast menu. You need things high in protein. Is that clear? So milk over a pop to drink. We go eat in the truck and you change there into your new stuff. Everything we need, or discard gets packed into the Walmart bags and comes with us.”

She frowned. “But why not just leave the old clothes and stuff in the truck?”

“Because we are going to be getting into a taxi and it has to look like we are regular customers. We have shopping bags, then we blend in and become invisible.” Not to mention leaving a messy truck would draw attention to it far faster, but she didn’t need to know that.

Morgan grabbed a cart and scurried off in the direction of womens clothing without a backward glance, or a complaint at having to wear less than high fashion, which both surprised and relieved him. He just hoped she wouldn’t fill the thing as he guessed he would end up being the one carrying all her excesses. Rowan detoured passed kids apparel to snag a couple of backpacks, one with a monkey face and one resembling a black kitten. Not ideal, but the other choices were a blue hippo or a pink elephant. Somehow the color of the last gave a clue as to why the consignment would end up on sale in this particular store. Had the joker making the statement about alcohol through pink elephants gotten themselves fired, he wondered. Whatever, the two he chose would blend in with their fur the best and he trusted he hadn’t lost his hunting instincts to warn if any humans were near, should they have to shift.

The phone proved easy enough as they stocked an android suitable. While he preferred Iphones, there was no way he wanted to spend so much on what would probably be a throwaway item. The choice narrowed to the cheapest and the smallest they had in stock. Now he had to wait for Morgan, as the man serving would need to walk the product to the checkout. Fortunately, she turned up just as the choice had been made, astonishing him.

“That was quick.”

“It is all nasty, so I just grabbed the best of what would fit.” She looked down with disdain at the modest heap of clothes.

He was relieved at her color choices, which were all subdued. It looked like she had confined herself to jeans and t-shirts for outerwear, although he couldn’t be sure as there was more under the initial heap. “Looks like we are ready then. Did you figure out what you wanted to eat, like I said?”

“I’ll have a sausage egg McMuffin with a box of milk, but I can order for myself.”

“I thought you would like to take your stuff to the truck once I have paid for it and stow it away while I get the food.” He hoped she would pick up on what he was really saying, giving that the man carrying the phone was well into earshot. She could get changed without him there if she caught on to the gist of his words.

Morgan looked entirely different when he got to the truck with their takeaway. She had gone more for a college look with designer threadbare jeans and a blue t-shirt with a dragon motif on the front. She also had a goth look for her makeup, too heavy for his taste and yet wildly different from her granny look. Yes, she would do nicely like this. He thought she must have had a lot of practice with different looks in her time of hiding. Smiling, he handed over her package and drink.

“Hey, I only asked for one. There are three in here.”

“Try it. I think you will find out why when you do.” He casually stripped the bun off his own sausage egger leaving just the protein. He had restricted himself to four, explaining to the girl at the counter that they had kids waiting. Whatever else happened, they couldn’t afford to stand out for any reason.

“What is the matter with this? It tastes like mush.” Morgan said, talking around the food in her mouth before she took a big gulp of milk to wash it down.

“We are carnivores. You will find bread doesn’t agree with your taste anymore, which is why I got several of them. Good enough?”

Glaring at him, she stripped the edible protein away from the useless. Yes, sometime soon she was building up to a huge argument about her changed state. He reckoned he was going to hear all about her fury once they were free and clear. For now, all he had to suffer was multiple instances of the stink eye in his direction.





Widdershins, my nano project Chapter 7

This has not been edited. It might change when this happens.

Crimson light glistened off the snow, casting an angry glow on the world. Rowan sat in the truck, his hands clenched around the steering wheel, waiting for retribution. The sounds of Morgan dressing ceased in the back, making for a charged silence. She climbed over the seat, easing down into the passenger side. The stiff anger on her face told him exactly what she thought of him.

“How?” She balled her fists hard, pushing them into her lap and took a deep breath, facing him. “How did you do that to me? There was no bite. Everything I have read about werewolves or seen at the movies says there has to be a bite. You told that creature he would change if he got bitten. I heard you.”

Damn, why did she have to start with that question? He briefly considered running, but she would follow, demanding her answers. He stared straight ahead. “The virus is in the fangs. I don’t have to break skin to inject it. I can let it flood into my mouth.”

“You …” She covered her face with her hands, rocking back and forth for a few moments. She looked away into the darkness of the trees. “You kissed me.”

She might as well have said ‘You pulled my head off’ from her tone. “Yes, it happened then.”

“Does this always happen when you kiss someone, or share a glass, or cough, or sneeze?”

Damn, she hadn’t been listening properly with her rage upon her. “I can kiss without infecting. Letting down the virus from my fangs is a choice. I chose to alter you.” Rowan braced for the screeching to start. He glanced at her when silence continued. She trembled, making him wish she had screeched. He could live with noise, but not this guilt trip.

“Why.” She still didn’t look at him.

“Because I knew who was behind the killings as soon as the henchmen on the skidoos arrived. His scent was all over them. I knew the old bat would find you eventually. He has all the time in the world to look.”

Morgan examined her hands in the light, especially the palms. Did people really believe the nonsense about hairy palms? “Vampires don’t exist. They are a myth. Werewolves aren’t real. I had an accident, and now I am in hospital in a coma and I’m dreaming this. I’ll wake and find the witness protection program has more men guarding me. I haven’t turned into a werewolf. This is part of my nightmare. It is an hallucination caused by a brain injury.”

“You’re not dreaming.” He tried to take her hands in his, but she slapped him away. “Vampires, us, and other creatures have always existed. We benefit from disbelief. All the movies about us have led to a peaceful life.”

The shaking increased.“That vampire is real … he is going to find me, isn’t he?”

Rowan sighed. “He is going to be busy back-trailing me for where he thinks I might have stashed you. He knows me. We are old enemies, and he knows I don’t increase my kind by choice, so he won’t imagine you, a werewolf with me, ad his target, not yet.”

“What happens when he does?”

“I would imagine he will have a serious problem. His instinct is to bite, and he can’t without getting infected. He’d go for a bloodless kill, but he needs to fight me to get to you.” Rowan basked in the first rays of the rising sun with spiteful relish. “Stanislav was responsible for almost outing me not so long ago. I would welcome a final reckoning.”

She wasn’t listening to him. Now she was out of fur, the shock consumed her. He revised his plans, for going to Siberia wasn’t going to prevent the old bat coming after them. Once Stanislav found the trail cold, he would have people looking out for a couple buying a ship passage. No, he’d take her to Vancouver Island for the winter. The climate was temperate, and he could teach her how to adjust in the untamed forests of the north of the island where they would blend in with other packs. Let the old bat chew down his talons down to the flesh in frustration.

Rowan started the truck. He had daylight hours to drive through the interior, get the ferry at Vancouver to Nanaimo, head north from there until he could hook up with the Pacific Rim highway to Sprout Lake and then they could take a back road to Strathcona Provincial Park.

Heavily forested in a wild way, the park was not vehicle friendly, and definitely not friendly to large aerial objects. Rowan couldn’t remember there being any motel near the place, which meant a long flying distance. The vampire was going to have to send his henchmen unless he chose to fly his wings down to stumps and walk his feet off.

If he were Borinsky, he would be phoning the moment he had put a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on his motel room door and secured the drapes over the window. Given the truck hadn’t been reported as stolen by the absent owners; it would take the old bat a goodly while to convince someone to run the plates. That someone wouldn’t act without contacting the owners.

Morgan fixed her wig in place with an expression of distaste. She clicked on the overhead light to touch up her old lady makeup in the rear view mirror. “How are we going to get a boat if that monster has the harbor watched? He will, won’t he?”

“Change of plans. We stay in Canada, but move across to Vancouver Island.” He readjusted the mirror.

“How? On the ferry, in this truck with the description circulated? I saw the monster write down the plate number while he waited for you to stir. Have you forgotten I am wanted for murder?”

Damn. He must be getting old to not wake sooner in the presence of danger. He should have stirred before the vampire had found a perch. Maybe they wouldn’t be getting the ferry to the island with the truck. Perhaps it was time to call in a few favors. Terminals would be watched but they couldn’t station people at every single jetty pocking out into the ocean. No, he needed a smallish fishing boat with an outboard motor and new exactly where he could hire one.

“First, lose the old lady makeup. It is possible someone saw us together with this truck and may remember when Borinsky wakes up from his nap and starts reporting in. Then we get you some new clothes and a smart phone for me. I need to access some funds for a car hire since the truck is of no use, not if he took the plates.”

“What about the money you took off those men?” Her face radiated disapproval.

“Morgan, if you were a car hire company, how would you feel about hiring to someone who couldn’t produce a credit card, proof of identity and was a tad shy on luggage to boot? I can book it remotely through one of my companies. They won’t ask questions if it is a corporate hire.”

“Oh, I see. The ferry will be good, then.”

No, it wouldn’t but he was too tired to explain right now. The old bat would have the port watched by now and he was smart enough to figure out the truck would be history. The watchers would be for people. He would have made those arraignments the moment he settled into his room for the day. Rowan didn’t intend to leave a trail when he went to ground this time.


And now for some cat spam because I love my fluffies.


^Darkspire Reaches #Sale^

Read a snippet of this dark, romantic fantasy.

The late afternoon sun gave a red tinge to the sky as Raven emerged from the rank tunnels onto the lake shore. She wrinkled her nose in distaste at the smell coming from her wet clothing. Foul water found and polluted every dry shred of fabric on her body.

The hunters used vargel hounds to track, and they would come to this place, so she would spread her scent to confuse them. Raven waded out into the lake, keeping within her depth, then, using the sun as her guide, she headed northwest. They would figure a direct north line of escape to the settlements of the tribes. Raven didn’t doubt Margie would help foster that notion to save her own skin. Again, a bitter smile curled her lips upward. As long as she remained in the water, she left no trail. Almost as an afterthought, she dipped her torch into dull, gray waters and let it fall.

Cold seeped into her bones while she waded on the fringe of the lake. It made a harsh contrast to the foul, but warmer, temperature of sewer filth. Hunger clawed at her insides, bringing another form of cold, one that started from within. The baying of hounds startled Raven into a misstep and she fell; her feet rose to the surface, turning her on her back, the motion warring with the wet clothes pulling her down. If she shed them, she would give the hunters another clue to her passage, and how would she get new ones? The fabric belled out to catch a current and draw her to the center of the lake.

She drifted north to the sounds of the horn call of hunters and the baying of their hounds. Maybe they would burst from the thick line of trees almost reaching the edge of the lake. No pyre could send her spirit on its journey now.

She didn’t know the size of the lake. She hadn’t seen the other side across a vast expanse of water, sunlight sparkling off the waves and ripples. No doubt it drained in the direction of her passage for the current to pull her, but that soon ceased to concern her as the icy waters leeched at her, sucking out her life. A small bird fluttered down to settle on her chest and under his bright gaze, she let herself become enveloped by death’s cold arms.

Waves of sleep lapped around her, washing away hurt. She closed her eyes, feeling the wind on her face, on her body, as she hurtled through the air. For a moment, she imagined herself back at the citadel, throwing herself off a turret to ride the wind. One last image of Margie, a smile lighting her face after a good scrying session, and then flashes of gold lanced through the picture in her mind’s eye until only gold remained. Gold upon gold, fading down into nothing—nothing but a pair of shining, golden eyes.

And here is a trailer for the sequel.



Widdershins my nano project chapter 6

This has not been edited and may well end up being tweaked.

Rowan reached sight of the Rockies just as the sun was setting. The low light on his face seared his tired eyes after thirty-six hours driving but the satellite navigator on the truck had helped, particularly at crossing frozen farm fields to avoid a border stop. Neither of them had papers and he wasn’t up to giving explanations. He could just imagine the reaction to his statement, ‘Well, I am a five-hundred year old werewolf and this is a young wolf in the making. No, we don’t have passports because we aren’t really human anymore.’ He’d deal with getting new identity documents once he had Morgan safe.

Luckily, the truck was a four-by-four or he would have been in trouble with the snow. Morgan hadn’t stirred, despite the two stops for gas and one to change to Canadian currency at a bank just as they opened in the morning. He hadn’t thought she would waken after the strength of stuff he had given her. Five more hours to drive through Calgary and Banff and then he was into the interior of British Columbia. Any side road would do after that point. A whine from the rear of the truck raised the hair on the back of his neck. His time was running out. He pulled over on the hard shoulder to check on Morgan. She twitched and moaned. The change was coming sooner than he wanted. Not good. He might not have time to strip her before he released her if he didn’t do so now, a necessity, if not his preferred choice. He tried to be gentle to keep her hibernating. Stars, she had a great body now she had put on a bit of weight and wasn’t such a skeleton. Down boy, he couldn’t think about that. He wrapped her in purloined duvets to cover everything except her head.

The world spun when he tried to climb into the cab again. He took a moment to clear his head. Five hundred years of endurance kicked in. He could do this and he could do it safely for both of them. He rolled down the window, sucking in a blast of arctic air to keep him awake for the next stretch. Calgary flashed by in a glare of garish Christmas lights, followed by Banff with more subdued decorations. The noises from Morgan became louder but this didn’t disturb him as much as an overriding sense of dread. Something stalked them, and yet he couldn’t see any vehicle behind him, not on a consistent basis. The sense of oppression continued until three hours before dawn. Now he knew who hunted him. A vampire and a long distance one at that. Someone needed to check into a motel with vacancies, which wasn’t easy, given the ski season in full operation. Someone needed to make quite sure he had a nice dark room before daybreak. Good, it gave him time to set Morgan free. He turned off on the first side road, driving until he found a cut out. The growls from the back of the truck were getting serious. He pulled over, opening the rear door. One yank got the covers off her. He retreated to the other side of the truck to let nature run its course. The cold would make her change to get her fur, but he had to stay out of her scent pattern or she would attack him. A vibrant howl reverberated. It had begun. He climbed up to the cab roof, out of the way. A slim and beautiful wolf erupted from the rear of the cab. She sprinted into the trees in easy bounds. Rowan slid off the roof to get inside, shutting all the doors. Now, at last, he could sleep. The vampire was going to have to check every vehicle on this route to find the right one and at Christmas time, with people traveling, it was going to take time. Morgan would run and she would hunt until her human memories kicked in, and then she would return to deal with him for what he had done to her. He didn’t imagine she’d be thrilled. Rowan clicked the door locks shut before he surrendered to exhaustion.


Morgan came awake suddenly with an overpowering urge to run. She leapt out of a smelly area into clean forest. With the stars above her head and the sounds of nature all around, her world had no end. Crisp snow bore her weight for the fleeting seconds her feet made contact, leaving only a slight indent. Other fresh tracks snagged her senses with the aroma of prey. Mm, bunny, yum. She found it scrabbling in the snow to get at withered grass under the mantel of white. Carefully she edged around the clearing until she was downwind, her tail now wagging in anticipation. One step at a time, she crept closer, belly low. One mad dash, with the white hare squealing, bounding off at jagged angles and she had it. A bite to snap the neck brought the taste of fresh warm blood to her mouth. She started with the entrails, working her way to the muscles and then crunching the marrow out of the big bones, licking out the goodness. A full belly came with disturbing thoughts. This was not right. Memories of her other life bubbled to the surface in that lonely glade. He had done this to her, the man who was wolf. Yes, she wanted freedom, but not in this form. Her damaged leg began to ache in the cold. She must find him; make him answer for his sins. Her own scent gave a trail back to his truck and an impossible sight.

Rowan’s wolf sense roused him from slumber. A predator stalked and he thought he knew who it was. Being inside a locked truck was no security if he guessed right. More pressing, Morgan might walk into a trap if he didn’t spring it first. This showdown was long overdue. He stepped out into the frigid night, snow crunching underfoot, every sense keyed to the slightest movement or sound. Darkness ruled in the time before dawn.

A rustle in a nearby tree spun him around. Stanislav Borinsky, now called Jack Stevens, crouched on a limb, his eyes glinting in the moonlight. The vampire watched, waiting, intent on the cabin of the truck.

“Where is she, old wolf? What have you done with her? You know you will tell me when I’ve finished with you. Why not spare us both the inconvenience?”

Rowan assessed the killing field with a swift glance. Every boulder, depression, fallen branch mapped in his head, every slight depression or hummock in the snow; he smiled at the old bat. “Borinsky, you missed the boat by so much the ticket office closed down hours since. She will never be your prey.”

The vampire leaped off his perch to float gracefully to the ground. “I will have her. I won’t have my operations disrupted by a human. You must see this from my point of view. I need Mullen to front my North American operation and she has fingered him. What is a puny human to us? Come, give me the girl and I will forgive what your pack did to my men. ”

“The girl is mine. Shall we fight?” Bring it on. It was past time they stopped dancing around each other and settled this for good. This wasn’t about Morgan any longer. It was about who was going to survive.
Borinsky hesitated, looking into the shadows of the forest. “How careless you have become in your dotage. Your pack appears conspicuous by their absence. One last chance. Where did you leave her and where is she going?”

A whiff of frigid air brought the scent of wolf. Rowan did have a pack mate, but was she on his side? The old bat missed the spore of a werewolf. Too bad for him. “How about you consider giving up flying? Sink your fangs into me and that is what will happen.”

Borinsky snapped his cloak back from his shoulders. “What makes you think I would want to ruin my dental hygiene on your sorry carcass? We both know I am stronger than you in your current form. I’ll settle for snapping your back to let you freeze to death.” He rose from the ground, floating into battle position.

A sleek gray wolf sprang out of the bush, bounded to the truck bed, and then onto the roof of the cab. She crouched, ready to spring, her glowing eyes intent on the vampire’s throat. The vampire sailed up onto his former perch, shaking out his cloak like ruffled feathers. “That is not a wolf.”

Rowan smiled again. “Not all of my pack are lupine. Shall we discover what happens when a vampire gets bitten by one of my kind? Normally, I am kind to new pups, but in your case I could make an exception. Oh, and by the way, if you want a fight, you had better get on with it. I spy a silver streak in the sky. Still, this shouldn’t be a problem for you in your new life.”

Borinsky made the mistake of looking east. Morgan leapt at him, missing by a spider’s leg, when the vampire flew up in panic. His hiss of outrage made the night colder. “I’ll not forget, or forgive. I’ll find the girl without you.”

Rowan moved close to the wolf, reaching down with one hand to stroke her luxuriant fur. “Oh look, is that some red I see in the sky?”
The vampire took flight in a blur.

Morgan bit his hand, just a little. Reckoning time. “How about if I go get your clothes and turn my back while you change? We can argue all you like after that.”


Snow day May 29 2010 297

Widdershins, my nano project chapter 5

The truck fired into a healthy sounding purr when Rowan turned the ignition. He had finished packing the trunk in the box with anything he thought they might need, plus Morgan’s stash of potential weapons under the passenger seat while the battery was recharging. With twilight approaching, he wanted to make a start if he could cut her loose from that computer. Knowing who was after her wasn’t going to change her problem, so why keep digging into the grubby details? She was only going to upset herself even more as he guessed the weapons she gathered were to self-eliminate if those men caught up. Morgan wasn’t a hunter…not yet. He left the engine running to heat up the cab while he went to fetch Morgan.

As he guessed, she was hunched over the computer in the master bedroom nook. She had a medical website online and was looking into tingling sensations of the extremities. Waves of guilt rushed over him for what he had done to her and yet there was no choice.
She’d be grateful one day.

“Time to go,” he said.

“In a moment. I think I am coming down with something and I just want to see if this site has any suggestions.”

“You do know that if we are tracked to this cabin the laptop will be checked for your browsing history?” And then the searchers would know someone had a problem. Not a good thought. He would rather the man in charge of the hunt not know what he had done to Morgan.

Morgan turned to him, “Just how does a werewolf know so much about tech?”

She had a point. “I have another personae, who happens to be a rich property owner and who has all the toys to go along with the lifestyle. ‘Brandon’ became a tad too interesting to various government people a few years back, so now he is on an extended vacation overseas.”

She closed down the site, deleted her browsing history from a proxy server, deleted the proxy server, emptied the trash box and turned off the laptop before turning to him again. “What did you do to interest them?”

“I got sloppy and didn’t pay attention to my appearance as much as I should have done. I had gotten very comfortable with ‘Brandon’, who someone noticed wasn’t aging. ‘Brandon’s’ son will be able to take on his role in another couple of decades, but for now, I need to have him elsewhere and out of sight.”

Shock stiffened through Morgan. “You don’t age? How old are you?”

“I don’t keep an exact tally. I’m old enough to remember the Pilgrim Fathers settling in America.” He shrugged.” Now if you are quite ready, I would like to move out before someone gets worried about our smoke signals. It would be nice to drive a vehicle that isn’t reported as stolen.”

She got up, only to lurch sideways. Rowan caught her before she fell. “Hey, you need to take a nap. I have a nice, warm cab with a blanket on the back seat.”

“I’m fine. Put me down.”
“No, I don’t think so. I can feel you trembling. How about if I get you settled in the truck and then take a look around for something to help you when we stop?” He marched down the stairs with her cradled in his arms.

“I didn’t find any match for my symptoms on the site,” she objected.

Now at the door of the truck, he settled her in place. “Old Rowan knows the ways of nature and herbs. You just get some rest while I drive.” Yes, he did know herbs to help her. He had found them around the lake shore and cabin before she her symptoms started. Once they came to a place where they could rest for a while, he’d brew his concoction, and then she would sleep through the worst of it. Guilt wracked him for taking the choice away from Morgan. Her star burnt too bright to fizzle into oblivion, which it would if nature to took its cruel course. Her hunters would never stop until she was dead, even if one culprit was incarcerated. This man’s boss had very long arms, as Rowan knew from personal experience in his other personae. Morgan wore a huge target engraved on her back for as long as she remained among the accountable.
The night beckoned. He put the truck into drive.

Morgan awakened on a hard bed in what looked like a poor motel room. The requisite TV was anchored high to a wall. Underneath, a coffee maker festered. A smell of rancid fat permeated the air. A small kitchenette emitted fumes from the concoction Rowan brewed over the stove. She tried to sit up, but the room whirled and she was on fire. She groaned. Had her leg become infected? The wound seemed to have closed up nicely with the fine stitches Rowan had sewn. It hadn’t felt uncomfortable for a while now.

“Welcome back to the land of the living.” Rowan tipped his concoction into a mug, using a tea filter. He walked over to hand her the drink.

Morgan viewed the contents with distrust. It smelled nasty. “Why should I drink this?
“Because you are sick and it will make you feel better. Of course, you can decline and suffer.” His eyes dared her to refuse his help.

“It is herbs, right? I drink this and my fever goes down?”

“Something like that. How about trying the brew? He hunkered down by the side of her bed.

Her head spun, her guts churned and she couldn’t focus. Whatever it was he offered might help her. His painkiller concoction at the cabin certainly worked like a charm. She sipped the drink. Not unpleasant, with the faint aftertaste of herbs. At least it quenched her thirst.

“How long before I get the benefits?”

“As we are three days from a full moon, it is difficult to say. Just try to sleep.”

Not a problem. Already, her eyes couldn’t focus. Strange his medicines always seemed to have this effect. She drifted off into a cloud of fluff.


Rowan cleaned up his mess with a heavy heart. Yes, Morgan was going to recover. Of that, he had no doubt. If she ever forgave him was another issue.

He slipped the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on the outside handle of their door, drew the curtains and positioned a padded chair with its back against the door. Next, he took out a pack of beef jerky from his backpack and hooked the comforter from his bed. Morgan might rest quiet tonight, although he wanted to make sure she didn’t wander. She would have to wake him to get outside, should the urge strike her. Satisfied, he gnawed on both the jerky and the problem of the next stage in their journey. He had to get them to the forests of British Columbia before the next full moon.


My Nano project continued. Widdershins, Chapter 2

This is raw and has not been edited. I will fix it in the fullness of time.

A deer steak tasted different when cooked from frozen. For a start, the center was rare, while the outside was a tad overcooked. The really strange part was no vegetables, nothing, not even canned corn. Morgan guessed the guy lived off the wilderness and yet a pure meat diet wasn’t healthy. A good job she wasn’t a vegetarian or she would have been dead out of luck.

“Thank you for the food, but what should I call you? I’m Morgan.” She offered him her hand, which he ignored like she had tried to pass him a live snake. Did he hate women?
He looked up at her with winter in his eyes. “Rowan. My mother named us for nature.” Those eyes dared her to make a snide remark.

“It suits you. There is something inflexible and yet wild about a tree name.”
“So Morgan le Fay, I can’t see you as a wicked Arthurian enchantress somehow. Parents have a lot to answer for when naming offspring.” A slight smile lifted the corners of his mouth.

Morgan sighed. “It could’ve been worse. Her second and third choices were Mahitibelle after early pioneer names and Amaryllis, her favorite flower.”

His shoulders started to shake a bit until he got them under as much control as he had his twitching lips. “Morgan isn’t so bad.”

Now he was talking to her, finally talking and not just about her condition. Morgan had a pressing concern. “I’m deeply grateful for everything you’ve done for me, but now I am awake, I wonder if there is a bathroom I can visit when needed?”

Rowan got up from his place by the fire to place his hands on her elevated leg. He closed his eyes, concentrating. “Yes, you can come off traction now. I’ll fix up a crutch, although it won’t help you with the bathroom, which is outside. The snow is far too deep for someone unsteady on their feet and I think you would be too weak in any case. I can carry you there and back.”

Reality slithered sideways. No-one should be able to assess a break without an x-ray machine. “How can you know for certain the bone is set?”

“I have this talent.” The winter returned to his eyes. “Now about clothes. Are you happy with a pair of my boxers and track pants? I salvaged everything you had on above the waist, aside from the sleeve of your jacket, but the rest…the fire and blood took care of them.”

Blood? A compound fracture? There was nothing to show for it on the smooth skin of her leg. He couldn’t mean her cycle as she had accepted the need for a contraceptive implant when she went into the protection program. Male bodyguards buying feminine products would have been a dead giveaway. Something was out of kilter, here. “Again, thanks. That would be very kind of you.”

Bathroom visits became a nightmare with the nasty little hut a distance from the cabin and no more than a primitive earth closet at that. What proved a bigger hardship was not having a daily shower. While Rowan cheerfully obliged by boiling water for her to wash with a bowl, there was no way she could manage the tin tub. Even stranger, he didn’t use the tub, but he never gave off the odor of unclean. Yes, he washed their clothes to hang dry in a corner of the shack, but not himself. No adult man could go long without cleaning himself if he didn’t wish to stink. Rowan did neither. Morgan began to wonder if he washed outside and yet she had never seen him take out any hot water.

Their routine shattered some weeks later when Rowan barreled into the shack near dusk, back early from a hunting trip. His face looked like thunder, but he schooled it into a ‘be nice’ expression before he approached her. “There are men sniffing around your burnt-out car. They know there’s no corpse and are coming back in the morning with dogs. These guys are not cops. You need to level with me.”

This was the end. Morgan couldn’t run. She had no transport and how far would she get hobbling into the forest? The dull pain of hopelessness coursed through her again. “They’re here to kill me. If you have somewhere to hide out, then go to it until they’re done. I want no more blood on my head.”

Rowan sat down on the edge of the bed and took her hand. “What is mine stays mine unless I say otherwise.” His eyes narrowed. “Why do they want you dead?”

What did it matter now? What did anything matter? “I saw a guy kill some people and I told the cops. That is when he had his friends murdered my family. I went into the witness protection program and he got convicted, but that wasn’t the end of it. He has people making me out to be a psycho. There are sworn testimonies from people I never met, claiming I’m a space cadet. If I don’t appear in his appeal, he will win. This is why there is a contract out on me and why you must let this happen. I have had four identities and three bodyguards blown away. I can’t live with a trail of death in my wake anymore.”

“Not acceptable.” Frost sparkled in Rowan’s eyes. “We will leave here now.”

“Get real. The dogs will track us.”

“Track you, maybe, if I were not going to carry you. Tracking me might prove more problematic.” He smiled, slow and wicked. “Finding me will be their last mistake.”
Rowan moved quickly, getting together clothes and a few essentials, which he stuffed into a backpack. He swaddled Morgan in furs to carry her in a fireman’s lift with the pack slung over his other shoulder, and then he set off into the night.

All the alarms went off in the moment he started his trek. She weighed about one hundred and fifteen pounds and yet he carried her as if she were a feather. His pace was a steady run, impossible for a normal man, and yet easy for him. Morgan didn’t fight. This was his choice, whatever he was, but she began to doubt if he were human as the hours wore on and still his pace didn’t alter, nor did he sweat, not that she could smell.

They stopped at dawn when they reached a cave next to a waterfall at the side of a hill. Morgan roused out of a doze to her new surroundings. The place gave shelter from the wind and fresh water, if little else. No normal person could hope to survive here in the depths of winter, so what was his plan?

“Rowan, it’s your turn to level with me.” She looked him in the eyes, but he wouldn’t hold her gaze.

“Leave it be. There are things better left unspoken.”

“This place will not support us.”

“Yes, it will. I’ll get a fire going, and then I must backtrack to take care of certain difficulties.”

“Those guys carry major firepower. I haven’t seen you with a gun before and nor did you pack one. You can’t take them on.”

He grinned, flashing his teeth. “I don’t share nicely.”

Once the fire was set he headed out, leaving her with a bunch of unanswered questions. She had deadfall to keep the blaze going and before he left, Rowan made a new crutch for her out of a tree branch with lashings holding together a bit that was wrapped in fur to support her weight. Alone now with her thoughts, she went over everything that had happened to her since she woke up after the accident. No normal man could have run that distance with her weight on his back. Even the iron man competitions weren’t so long or so harsh. No normal man could have fixed her leg the way he had. No normal man would hide in the woods with his looks. What, in the name of hell, was he?

Night clawed down into morning. Morgan kept the fire burning for warmth and to keep away predators. When the silvery lights of dawn streaked through the sky she heard yelps and snarls. Whatever was coming, she would meet it head on. The crutch worked well to get her out of the cave and then she saw a pile of clothes. Rowan’s clothes just left in a heap, right down to the underwear.

Men’s screams now sliced through the air until came silence. She didn’t wait long after. A large wolf ran into view, skidding to a halt in a cloud of snow when it saw her. It sat on its haunches, waiting her out. Morgan wasn’t backing down. She sat down awkwardly by the clothes.

The wolf tried growling and howling to make her move, but still she sat firm. The answer came in a shimmer of light, the impossible answer of the wolf dissolving into naked Rowan.

“You are not meant to see this,” he said, unembarrassed and not bothering to cover his private parts.

Not what she expected, thinking perhaps he was the product of some genetic experiment, one of the perfect soldier programs. Never had she considered something out of myths and legends. Her world tipped sideways. Whatever happened now was beyond her imagination. “But I have. If this means I need to die, do it quickly. I’m so tired of running.”

“The others will never let up until you are dead. This much I have learned. ”

She shivered, not just from the cold. “And you? Now I know what you are?”

Widdershins, my nano project.

Rider, this is not edited. I will go through the thing at the end of the month and fix errs then. It is as it is and if there are errs, I am not really bothered right now.

Driving through the fierce blizzard, Morgan struggled to keep her eyes open. Her hands ached from the biting cold, but she dared not turn up the heating again and risk dozing off behind the wheel. Somehow, she must find strength to have any chance at sneaking over the border into Canada on this dirt track of a back road. They would never find her there. They could never hurt anyone close to her again, for there would be no one. Images of blood and brains splattered across her retinas in endless replay.
No more deaths on her account, she wouldn’t, couldn’t handle any more pain and loss. Two new identities complete with birth certificates and passports lay safe in her purse for her next attempt at a new life. Who would she be next?

Testify against the murderer, join the witness protection program until he was convicted, and you will be safe, they said. Three bodyguards killed in a bloodbath protecting her were three too many. Those men had families; wives, children, parents. She didn’t have a soul; not anymore, thanks to the man she was supposed to help convict. Her parents went together when the assassin called at their home. The cops thought he was pretending to sell door to door and since her folk’s home was the first stop it wouldn’t have looked out of place, except he had a gun especially for them. Her granny hadn’t escaped, either; finding the bodies on her return from her hair appointment stopped her heart.

Someone had sold her new personae out twice already, hence the death of the guards, but one of the fake identities she had left was Canadian. She’d go to a small town, get a job, any job not computer related, for they would be watching for such, and disappear. Maybe she could retrain…a huge dark shape appeared in the beam from her headlights, blocking the narrow road. Morgan swerved; the road vanished in a tumbling, screeching roll. Pain, dark, and . . . nothing.


Sound came back first, followed by pain cresting. She whimpered, her strength gone, along with her courage.

“Stay still. You’ve been hurt, but you’re safe, now.” The voice was deep and rich, if distant.

Daylight hurt her eyes. The room swirled as black and silver motes danced in her line of sight. A man-shape gradually resolved into a person with overlong black hair, not wearing the white or blue scrubs of a hospital attendant. She must be dead, for he had the face of a fallen angel. This man wore a gray sweatshirt and jeans. The walls of a log cabin formed a backdrop. A good choice of hell for one who lived on the internet; trapped in pain with a hunk for a nurse and not a flicker of desire on her part. Was that what happened in purgatory?

She attempted to speak, emitting a dry croak. Her tongue stuck to the roof of her mouth and her lips hurt.

Responding, he slid a muscular arm under her shoulders to help her sip water from a cracked cup, patient until she had drunk her fill. This was real, not afterlife. In the back of Morgan’s mind, a little voice screamed at her not to eat and drink anything. She was hurt and by the grinding pain in her leg, she was going to need surgery. Morgan tried to push him away, only then becoming aware of the burn on her arm, a raw, red patch of angry outrage against her skin.

“The ambulance…when is it coming?”

“It’s not. We are cut off from the outside world until the melt comes in spring.” His black eyes sparkled with little flecks of amber while his mouth formed a tight, hard line as if he wished her gone. Behind him, a glow from a wood stove gave off the warmth he lacked.

“Did you call for help?” The pain built into waves of agony. A sweat broke out on her face and neck, and yet she shivered. She couldn’t bear this pain. A scream began to build.

“No phone.”

“In my jacket, I have a cell phone.”

He gently eased her down onto the bed. The room swirled again. A hard object was pressed into her hand. Morgan waited out the dizziness until she could focus. She flipped up the lid, to a blank screen. It just needed turning on; that was it? Nothing happened. The battery was dead.

“There is a charger in my purse. My cell needs juice.”

“Sorry.” He didn’t look sorry, just annoyed. “No electricity and I couldn’t save your purse. By the time I got you free everything else had gone up in flames.”
Her car, her identities, and all her clothes gone? The pain escalated and this time she couldn’t hold in a groan. “I need a doctor.”

He reached back for a metal mug. “Here’s something for the pain. It will send you to sleep.” Once more he helped her to drink; holding her up until the sharp tasting fluid was all gone.

“My leg . . .”

“I set it.” He closed his eyes as if he were enduring an exercise in extreme patience. “If it were possible to get you out of here, I would’ve already done so. You wouldn’t survive being dragged through the snow on a sled.”

A warm feeling flowed through Morgan. Her eyes wouldn’t stay open, and the pain receded into a dull ache, vanishing as sleep claimed her.


Sometimes a calm, deep voice would soothe her while she drifted in a world of dark and warmth. There were drinks of things that made her sleep again, but also those that stilled her hunger and thirst. Time hung, suspended until the day Morgan woke to find her leg up in the air, strapped in what looked like the remnants of a chair back, in traction with a large rock attached to the whole. She was also naked under a down quilt and lying on a mess of towels, something that brought an instant blush to her face. He’d put an incontinence pad under her and from the lack of stink, also washed her down very efficiently. So much for her shreds of modesty.

This one-room log cabin with a wood burner against one wall had a pile of pelts rested on the floor next to it, presumably where he had slept as she had the only bed. A table and one chair were against another wall. Herbs hung suspended from the ceiling rafters. An old tin bath was pushed into a corner, partially concealed by a modern bamboo screen. Aside from a few cups and plates on a dresser and a clothes chest, this was the most primitive dwelling she had ever seen. More like an old prairie house from a working museum. No curtains adorned the two windows. There wasn’t even a water faucet. Just then the door banged open, and a figure swathed in furs entered, carrying firewood, which he dumped by the wood burner before he threw off his winter gear.

He must have made a habit of working out, since his shoulders and arms stretched his sweatshirt, complimenting his slim hips and long legs. While his hair was overlong, his face looked freshly shaven. He was also drop-dead gorgeous, but not in a pretty way. This man was all male to the roots of his hair. He turned, as if aware of her scrutiny.
“How do you feel? Would you like more pain juice?”

Did she? No, it was a dull ache now. “I think I’m good for the moment.”

“In that case, I will get some food happening. You have lost a lot of weight.” He didn’t wait for comment; he just shucked on the furs to brave the weather once more.
Damn him, he was right. Her arms were like twigs. Every ounce of body fat had gone. Stars, she must look a fright. Her more immediate concern was how to get out of this place. He said all her stuff went up in flames. Was this true? She then wondered why a guy looking like he did would elect to camp out in a log cabin in the middle of nowhere with only the oil light fixtures. This place was a nightmare. What had he done that he needed such isolation? Was he on the run, and if so, for what?
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