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TURN THE STRANGE – An Excerpt

Posted in Blog, Fiction with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 24, 2016 by Rathan Krueger

I’ve been pretty busy lately, and I wanted to show you a few pages of a script I finished recently. It’s about Emily, a woman guitarist who’s trying to start a Heavy Metal band with a handicap she won’t allow to get in her way. I had a lot of fun writing it, she’s a lot of fun, and I hope you have a lot of fun reading her.

FADE IN:
INT. EMILY’S BEDROOM – MORNING
An old alarm clock goes off, glass absent from its face,
ringing its bells like a caffeinated woodpecker. The woman
it’s trying its best to win the attention of currently has
her head buried under a pillow. A feeble attempt to stop the
day. She eventually gives up and tosses the pillow at the
clamor. Or rather, tries to. She overestimates how far the
clock is by a few feet. She then lets out a defeated sigh
and sits up.
EMILY VERDA’S hair sticks up at all sorts of angles,
compliments of sleep. She sits on the edge of her bed, hands
on thighs, wearing a simple spaghetti-string top and pajama
pants. After slapping her legs rhythmically, she almost
immediately switches from being exhausted to being wide
awake, then turns off the alarm.

EMILY
You’re gonna get them today.

INT. EMILY’S BATHROOM – MOMENTS LATER

EMILY brushes her teeth while humming the same four notes
over and over. Faster, slower, higher, lower. The fingers on
her free hand, black nail polish chipped, rap upon the
mirror at the same tempo changes. Her eyes in the mirror are
unfocused, yet there’s still thought behind them.
She locks onto a particular tempo, repeating it twice, then
smirks before she spits into the sink.

INT. EMILY’S BEDROOM – MOMENTS LATER

A proper view of the BEDROOM shows amazing organization
skills. Apart from the pillow slumped in the corner and the
messy bed, everything is exceptionally neat and tidy. Three
other stand-out features are the lack of closet doors, of an
entrance door, and of any mirror. Just outside the doorway
is an astroturf rug.

At the closet and in a terrycloth robe, EMILY chooses
something to wear for the day. Her hair is now combed flat,
and her lips are painted black. She quickly flicks through
hung shirts, pants, t-shirts, skirts, and dresses, giving
some a stroke or two before passing them up.

She goes to a window and opens it. She then licks a palm and
sticks into the world…

EMILY
Pants and a button-up.

…then gets what she needs while wiping her hand on her
robe.

INT. EMILY’S KITCHEN – MOMENTS LATER

EMILY sits on the counter, twixt the sink and toaster, as
she tosses the last bit of one waffle in her mouth. A laptop
sits on the table. She then snatches another waffle from the
toaster. She tears off pieces and eats them, avoiding her
lipstick. While this is going on, she hums the melody she
came up with in the BATHROOM while tapping her bootheels on
the cabinet.

Until she almost chokes on a waffle bit.

She tosses what’s left of the breakfast pastry in the
garbage, in a fit of betrayal, then briskly washes her hands
in the sink. Her boots make the plastic mat on the floor
click and pop.

INT. EMILY’S LIVING ROOM – MOMENTS LATER

Sliding on her armor, a well-loved frock coat, EMILY
prepares to leave her apartment. Next, she tucks a pocket
recorder and a flipphone inside the coat. By the door is a
beaten-up guitar case ready to be slung over her shoulder
like a sword. On a short bookcase is her helmet by way of a
top hat and sunglasses. Both are vertically-striped black
and white, with the hat having a bit more business. The
black stripes are felt, the white are like silk, and a ring
dangles from the brim. A finger can easily fit through it,
which she does as she positions the hat so that the ring
hangs over her left ear.

Ready to face the day, she grabs one last thing: her folding
cane.

EXT. STREETS – MOMENTS LATER

EMILY walks with a little pep in her step as her cane goes
TAK-TAK-TAK-TAK, making sure that she doesn’t bump into
anyone (while not really caring if she does).

She points a twirling finger in the camera’s general
direction as she taks and trots along.

EMILY
‘Ello, dear viewer. Emily’s my name
and I was put on this planet for
two reasons: shredding guitars and
bumping into furniture. If the cane
didn’t give the game away, I’m a
bit blind. Don’t feel sorry for me,
though. You’re the ones who have to
see the state the world’s in.

She takes her finger away and continues walking to…

INT. QUEST CAFE – MOMENTS LATER

The bell over the door DINGS as EMILY enters. After folding
her cane, she approaches the register while getting her credit card.
At the counter, a clerk waits with a mug full
of the hot stuff.

CLERK
Ms. Verda! We ran out of white
chocolate last night, but we have a
nice–

EMILY stops in her tracks, flicks straight her cane, and
doffs her hat.

EMILY
I bid thee good day.

CLERK
Just kidding, just kidding!

EMILY
Don’t toy with my heart today.

EMILY folds her cane and continues her morning routine
towards her white chocolate mocha topped with whipped cream
and coconut sprinkles.

CLERK
I’m a wage slave, I have to get as
much harmless fun as I can to pass
the 9-5.

EMILY
And normally, I’d understand. Nay,
I’d encourage. But I need all my
strength for later.

EMILY swipes her card and enters her PIN as the CLERK
extends the mug.

CLERK
Oh? Why? Oh yeah, you’re still
doing those auditions. How long
have you been holding them?

EMILY
Doesn’t matter.

EMILY takes the mug and her receipt.

EMILY
(cont’d)
I’m gonna get them today.

CLERK
How many are you meeting?

EMILY
Two, but two’s all I need. Thanks
for letting me post my ad here.
That’s how they found me.

CLERK
Ah, no problem.

EMILY
Kayley and Leslie. Gonna have a
chick band.

CLERK
You just be sure to play your
second gig here.

EMILY
“Second”?

CLERK
Who’s ever great their first time
out?

EMILY
Har har har. I was gonna leave a
tip, but now…

CLERK
You can’t tip plastic. Besides, you
already swiped your card.

EMILY
Maybe I was gonna get a few
macaroons.

CLERK
Were you?

EMILY starts to step away as she sips her coffee, then turns
back to the CLERK.

EMILY
Do you know Kayley and Leslie? All
I have are texts that my phone
reads aloud.

CLERK
I only know you because you’re a
creature of habit and this place is
lucky enough to be within sniffing
distance of your apartment.

EMILY
Heh, too true, too true.

EMILY continues to an empty booth, but not before…

CLERK
Good luck today, Emily. Really.

She gestures a salute with her mug, then sits. She then
takes a big gulp, points a circling finger towards the
camera, and sets her mug down with a big whipped cream
moustache on her face.

EMILY
I know what you’re thinking, but
chick bands rock. No, you’re
thinking that other thing and, yes,
I know it’s there. No, no, you’re
thinking that OTHER other thing,
and we’ll never know if Neo
would’ve knocked over that vase.
It’s best to just let it go, I’ve
lost far too much hair over that.
Roy Orbison and José Feliciano.
Drawing blanks? I’m drawing
circles. They’re two of the best
guitarists to have ever lived. They
also found that blindness didn’t
take away frets and chords. Herman
Li is a beast with a guitar THAT HE
PLAYS WITH THE WRONG HAND, just
like Hendrix! So my heritage has
that covered because we all come
from the same womb. Joan Jett,
Bonnie Raitt, Joni Mitchell, Nancy
Wilson.

She brushes the dairy facial hair off with her finger, then
eats it with a grin.

d392731dd2155ff83e83dab74d5b77d3.jpg

I’m Featured on A Blue Million Books Now!

Posted in Blog, Lie with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 6, 2014 by Rathan Krueger

Here’s a link to it.

Thanks again to Amy for giving me the opportunity to reach a few people, and for asking some great question.

If you liked what you read about me and the excerpt from “Lie”, pick it up for your eReader. It’s only $1.99 and available wherever eBooks are sold. Thanks for reading.

The Scarlet Empress

Posted in Blog with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 19, 2013 by Rathan Krueger

I realized last week that updates on “Lie” are gonna be rather repetitive for a while, so I won’t be saying much about it until anything major happens. With that said, I’m always self-promoting it and offering it to reviewers and the like, so don’t think that my not talking about it in the coming weeks means that I’ve given up. I just don’t think anyone wants to read “talked to a few more people about it” every Monday.

I’ve put my notes for “Tangle Core” and “Murderhounds” to the side for now because I have a few short stories and essays to write that’re more important since they have deadlines. Like an essay about my motto, which took me longer to crack than I thought. I finally figured it out yesterday, only to read that I’d have to add an extra word since the rules stipulate three words. So “Never Settle” became “Don’t Ever Settle”. I also wanna try soon a serial writing assignment. Just for my amusement. One of my first steps in planning what to write is to see the end, but this time I’d like to try writing without seeing it. I know that I wanna write a Gothic sapphic story with no redeemable characters, and that I wanna write it in four chunks. I have an idea of how to start so I’ll write that soon, but only knowing how I’m gonna end each chunk as I write it. I have no idea how I’ll end it and that’s the fun of this particular project. I also have a short story for Clive Barker to finish, and an essay with food/drink at its center. AND I have a short story to write as a birthday present to myself.

I finished reading a biography of Marlene Dietrich written by her daughter, Maria Riva, last night. It might end up being my favorite book of all-time. It’s such a great, multi-tiered examination of history and people. Next on the slab is a biography of Oscar Wilde. I don’t really have a reason for reading about him apart from having a passing enjoyment of his work. And a want to see how homosexuals were treated back in his day. Ditto the biography of Natalie Barney I have tucked away somewhere. A straight guy can read about rainbow bandits, right? And if not, shame on you.

I’ve been catching up on the filmography by my soon-to-be favorite Japanese director, Sion Sono. I’m not sure what to suggest of his… Both are intense and NSFW, because all of his films are intense and NSFW, but if you’re looking for something realistic (bonus points for being based off of a true story), I recommend “Cold Fish”. If you want something more surreal, “Strange Circus” is your huckleberry.

I’ve also been planning my birthday party next month. Last year’s was… and I was so dejected that I more or less swore parties off. Then last week, I thought that this birthday would be my first birthday as an artist who’s entered the world. Surely that’s a reason to kick tires and light fires. Plus, it’s on a Friday. So I figured something out that won’t involve me hating my life afterwards, and will be bombastic while at the same time be rather insular.

Wanna read a surreal dramedy about four women on a getaway? Sure, you do. Wanna read the first four chapters so you’re plenty prepared? But of course? Wanna buy “Lie” by Rathan Krueger for only $1.99 wherever eBooks are sold to find out more about Quinevere, Veronique, Idette, and Fantine? Boy howdy!

…Ah, What the Heck. Here’s Chapter Six, “Countertop Discourse” (NSFW)

Posted in Fiction, Sample Chapter with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 8, 2013 by Rathan Krueger

A new day, a new adventure. Veronique washes her face in her pajamas, a white ringer tee with a bar code design and black silk pants. She knows how long people can take in the bathroom so she made sure to be the first one up. Last night, she checked on Quinevere once the screaming stopped and was told that they could stay.

She gathered her niece from the shallow end of the forest and told her the good news. She knew that this getaway would be good for Fantine. To get her out of the house and to meet other people. After having tucked her in and reminded her that everything’s ok, she went to the bathroom and set her biological alarm. Copious amounts of water. She hit “Snooze” on her bladder a little after sunrise.

Drying her face, she hears a door open and sees Idette shuffle in. Since they met, Veronique wondered if the grass matched the leaves. Now she knows. “Don’t you worry about catching a cold?” The true ginger looks confused, then… “Nah. Besides, clothes get in the way. I toss a lot. My bra always got tangled so I slept without it. Then the fabric of whatever top I wore felt like agony on my nips so I kept that off. Then I felt silly with only the lower half of me covered. I put on something when General Cramps comes charging, though.”

Veronique folds her towel and asks, “Did it hurt?” Confusion finds Idette again until she remembers the glimmer twixt her thighs. “Fuck yeah! But sex feels even better. Ditto motorcycles.” Idette claps, “So. We can talk more if you want but I must number two.”

Later in the morn, the gals settle in the kitchen for a breakfast affair. Fantine’s wearing a bedtime version of her sexless coal sitting on the stool nearest to the theatre. Idette found a red noveltee to wear (a box of cereal with Salvador Dali’s face on it called “Surreal”) with black thigh-high socks and looks in the fridge. Quinevere wears only a black t-shirt but the drawn woman on it catches Fantine’s eye. With a deep inhale… “Who’s that?”

The sole Ainsworth, setting up the morning china, replies, “Cassandra Cain. Do you know about Batgirl?” The younger Karoly timidly shakes her head. Idette notices and gives a you’ve-done-it-now-kid sigh. Her aunt stands at the cabinets trying to figure out what to make. As for Quinevere, she rarely gets to talk about Cassandra because the only people who’d care are Idette and Melissa, and they’ve heard it all. Ad nauseum. So the opportunity for fresh ears has her beaming.

“Cassandra Cain is my favorite character in the Batman world. Do you know about Batman?”

“I’ve seen ‘Batman Returns’ and ‘Dark Knight’.”

“Her mum and father are the best assassins in the world and she was raised by the largest group of murderers ever. They didn’t teach her to speak because they wanted to dedicate her brain utterly to murder.” Veronique takes down a box of something and smells it. The excited Quinevere continues, “She finds her way to Batman’s city after it was shut off from the United States after a major earthquake hit it. They did that because, basically, they got tired of helping the city. I forgot why but she ended up with Batman.”

Idette remembers, but knows these rants can go on for a very long time, so she stays quiet as she fills cups with chamomile tea.

Back to Quinevere, “He keeps her to make sure that she doesn’t fulfill a sort of destiny and become a mass-murderer. That always made more sense to me than the Robins—” her friend mouths with her “—an orphan gymnast, a tire-thief, and a boy with too much free time.” Fantine lets out her first giggle, but not her last. Veronique joking asks if a bird flew in, then settle on making hash and toast. Fantine notices her cup has the “Highlander” logo on it and quietly claims it for herself.

Quinevere, in full geek-professor mode, asks her new pupil if she has anymore questions.

“Only one. Who’s the woman in pigtails the internet loves so much? She dresses in red and black and has a big mallet.” The elder Karoly smiles to herself at her niece opening up. The ginger tries making the perfect slice of buttered toast.

“She would be Harley Quinn,” the professor states, “one of the most misused comic characters ever. Next to Cassandra. She’s a psychiatrist who was corrupted by one of her patients and became his love-crazed lackey. That, I’m fine with. But she’s been around for ages yet no one’s ever taken advantage of the fact that she’s knowledgeable of the human psyche. You a fan of films, right?”

Fantine nods at the understatement.

“Imagine if the doctor in ‘Silence of the Lambs’—” “Hannibal ‘The Cannibal’ Lecter.” “—was a giddy 20-something woman dressed like a harlequin.”

Veronique places a hand on Quinevere’s shoulder and says, “Thanks for letting us stay. It’s doing a lot for the both of us so far, but we’re here because of you. What can we do to help with your choice?” Quinevere places her hand atop Veronique’s…

“Just talk. And listen.”

Most times, if someone tried getting Fantine to talk the way these three have, she would’ve retreated into her inner faerie circle. Like that one time with Alvin. With them, she doesn’t mind. She won’t make things easy for them, obviously, but she feels that she’ll be able to say anything to them before the vacation’s over.

Sitting cross-legged in the center of the table and revealing her black paint-speckled tennis shorts, Idette thinks of an introductory game to play. It took a day, but it hit her that not everyone knows everyone. As they quietly eat their hash and nigh-perfect toast, she ponders. The others don’t see that, though. They see a ginger sitting on a granite slab staring off into space. Coincidence maybe that an idea comes to her as Veronique sneezes.

“We’re going to play a get-to-know-you game I do with new students because we’re all sorts of strangers here. I’ll ask a question and we’ll go in a clockwise fashion until I run out of things to ask. Bob’s your uncle? Alright, I’ll start first. Idette? What’s your favorite word?” She takes the Thinker pose for a while before settling on… “Aeaea.” Veronique, from behind her celluloid mug, asks, “What’s that?” Idette replies, “A Greek place,” then goes back to piling hash onto toast. Quinevere and Fantine never thought about their favorite words before, so they’re glad they’re not next.

Veronique taps her mug for a few seconds before blurting out, “Hypnopompic!” Quinevere and her friend begin to say in unison, “What’s that mean,” but she lets her friend finish. “That consciousness that happens before you’re fully awake. You know, when you’re able to reach for the alarm and still think it’s a rabid pastry.”

“I would have to say… ‘asylum’.” Idette scoffs, “Because of Batman?” Quinevere nods and pops a bit of hash in her mouth. Almost misses, but Idette gave her a pregnant helping of food, so there’s no shortage of ammo.

All eyes on the younger Karoly. She has a word she found in a dictionary once that she’s since committed to memory. However, it’s not until right now that she realizes that she’s never said the word aloud. Eventually, she gets out “echolalia” in a stutter. I’ll leave you to find the cute irony of that. Everyone “claps” by tapping their mugs on the counter and await the next question…

“Idette, what’s your least favorite word? ‘Commitment’. I chide, I chide.” Veronique chimes in, “I think you mean, ‘I kid, I kid’.” “I was trying to be courteous. To the…” The sole Ainsworth sips from her well-loved Batgirl mug and says, “No need to avoid words, so stop being a genious.” Veronique almost chokes on her chamomile. “Har, har, har, har. ‘Genious’. I fucking hate ‘genious’.”

“This may sound like pandering but allow me to elaborate. I can’t think of anything. I’ve… lived a life and as such, have learned what to focus on. And what not to. Hating something would be the latter. But. Since I don’t think any of you will allow me to get away with that one—” Idette sternly shakes her head “—I’ll choose… ‘corruption’.”

Idette points her microphone-shaped mug at the preggers one. “’Canceled’. It’s a word I hear too often with my comics.” She notices her mug’s empty and gets up to refill the others. Idette says, “Well, stop reading those bloody indie book. You know a lot of those artists can’t stay motivated or focused.” “Quiet you. Oh, I want to change my favorite word! ‘Schadenfreude’.” To take pleasure in other’s pain, more or less. “You can’t do that, Quinnie.” “Sure I can. Show of hands?” Quinevere and Veronique raise theirs, then Fantine gives in to peer pressure. A mock-hurt Idette murmurs, “Fanny? My betrayer? Wait, this isn’t bloody America. We’re a part of a monarchy.” Quinevere pops another bit of hash and says, “Well, my father is the king of Queen, so that makes me a princess.” A flustered Idette shouts, “Coup! Coup!” Then she focuses on her betrayer.

“’Helpless’…”

“Idette,” the MC’s voice drops an octave, “what turns you on?” The elder Karoly and Quinevere laugh, but the youth turns a Fantine shade of red. Idette comforts her by saying that it doesn’t have to be sexual. Veronique shoots up suddenly from her stool. The ginger recants as Veronique snatches her niece’s mug. She dumps what’s left of the tea in the sink, goes to the fridge, and pops open a bottle of champagne. Over the sink. Once it calms down, she tops off the mug and hands it to Fantine with a warning: “Slowly.” Idette grins as Fantine begins her very interesting journey, then says, “What really gets my squirrelly nub standing tall is a guy dressed all in black. Mm! I’d drop my knickers so fast they’d catch fire.” Quinevere queries, “Or would that be because you’re a fire crotch?”

“The ‘medium’ setting. But seriously, kinda long hair on a fella is fun. When it stops by the chin, like a bob. A Bob with a bob. He’s sexy whether he has it in a ponytail or decides to be Cousin-fucking-Itt. And it’s great when he’s on top and I can grab a handful… my, my, my.” Idette mock-quivers and asks, “What was his name?” “Can’t recall. But he remembers me. He better, I was picking bits of him from my nails for half an hour.”

Quinevere is about to say something— “Don’t say Batman or Doctor Who.” —then snaps her fingers in defeat. “But really, I wasn’t going to say them. Understanding. A guy who’s understanding would do me some good. That and a little domination.” Idette chuckles, “You kinky tart. I think we all are. Right, Fanny?”

With a mug that’s slightly less full, Fantine says, “I -hic- like hugs. And guys.” “…how strong is that champagne, Ronnie?” “Not very, but it’s her first time,” the aunt says as she takes her niece’s medicine away. “You’ll get it back soon.”

“Ms. Rudelle, what turns you— wetha-beaten hoochie bitches. Apologies for my candor, Quinnie, but… you know.” “Yeah, I know.” Fantine asks, “What do you know? And what’s a… a…” “Wetha-beaten hoochie bitch? Hope you never find out, young one.”

“I’m going to take a stab and say that you meant to get out ‘What turns you off?’ To which I would answer, boredom. You can find the most snog-worthy man with a padded wallet, but if he can’t entertain you he’s not worth your time. I’ll take the fun hippie over the bland billionaire any time.” Quinevere teases, “They do have nice, long hair, those hippies…

“I wouldn’t say I’m a fan of disrespect. In fact, I would say that I despise disrespect. Idette, do you remember Ward?” Idette growls as she stretches her arms. Quinevere to the Karolys, “Ward Fagen. Avoid him if you can. He’s quite possibly the worst human being in a three-town radius. He’s self-absorbed and can’t draw and whines, yet managed to find more than one person who’d put up with his bullshit. Last count was four or five in his merry club of wankers. Fuck that bloody twat up his four-colored arse.” Idette tries bringing a bit of levity as she lies on her back, “As you can see, we’re not fans of Ward.”

“I don’t like it when people scream when they argue. Then it stops being about whatever the topic was.” Being hetero life-mates, Quinevere and Idette immediately feel bad about last night. The latter then slides the “Highlander” mug back to its settler.

Veronique taps the table, “I have another turn-off: double-dates. If it’s the woman’s idea, it’s really a cunt-sniffing affair. If it’s his idea, he just wants to publicly wag his cock.”

“Idette, love of my life, what’s your favorite sound? I’d have to say breaking glass. If someone threw me through 71 stories of glass, I’d love every second of it. Then I’d hit the ground and die a happy death of shards.”

“I love the sound of truck doors that’re rusty and old.”

“The turbines of the Batmobile in ‘Batman Returns’. I’d make that my doorbell.”

“Meowing.” Everyone awws.

“Oi! Idette! What sound do you hate?” She points to her friend, “Earmuffs,” and Quinevere covers her ears. The ginger whispers, “Baby sounds. All of them.” She snaps and the preggers gal refills everyone’s mugs. Except Fantine’s.

“That sound Mrs. Sphincter’s next door neighbor makes sometimes during sex. It sounds similar to breaking wind, which is not attractive in any situation. I embraced kegels full-heartedly after that happened to me once. The guys I’ve been with since think sex is fantastic with all the flexing, but I’m just trying to keep my panty hamster from letting out the odd toot. Because the alternative is turning frigid and then I’ll end up with coochie cobwebs. Or worse: prolapse.” Idette sits up after the barrage of feminine delicacy and says, “Two things. My students call that sound a ‘queef’. It also works as a verb. The other thing… what the taco does a coochie cobweb smell like?” Veronique sips her tea and regally answers, “Like a dog with no nose.”

“I hate the sound of desperation in someone’s voice. When you can tell that they don’t have an opinion and are looking to be wanted. Then when you catch them in their lie, you’re the villain.” Idette, muffling her voice, “Like Ward?” Familiar fury builds in Quinevere’s walnut eyes, “Yes, like fucking Ward. He’s the bloody genious, not you. Bloody, curdled, and scabbed.”

“I dislike people eating noisily. I wish they’d get kicked in the mouth by the offended horse they’re trying to copy.” Her aunt cheers, “Me-ow!” Everyone awws, then laughs.

“Idette… heh. An offended horse. Idette: What. Is. Your.  Most. BELOVED. SWEAR?!” Veronique and Quinevere let out a sound of giddy awe. “At the risk of sounding scatological, any instance where I can replace ‘fuck’ with ‘shit’. Those are hilarious to me. ‘What the shit?’ ‘Shit me…’ ‘Shit off!’ ‘Mothershitter!’”

“’Cunt’. It was a positive word once, but time had other things in mind. Is it a fool’s errand to re-reappropriate it? I don’t know, but I enjoy saying it and having one so I guess that’s what matters most. That and keeping it fit.”

“’Mothershitter’? Really, Idette?” The ginger shrugs. Quinevere continues, “’’Putain’.” Fantine asks, “Poo-tahn?” Quinevere nods, “It’s French for ‘fuck’.” Veronique sighs, “They love sex so much they even gave it a pretty name…” Idette pouts, “They’re not so endearing. Or maybe it’s just guys with big balls.” Her audience stares at her with tell-us-more eyes. “Are you sure you wanna know?” They don’t break eye contact. “Ok… I blew a guy with massive grapes once and he exploded on my chest. Completely drenched my dirty pillows. There were lumps in his cum. He licked my breasts clean.” Veronique continues staring, Quinevere vomits in the sink, and Fantine guffaws to the point of tears. “Oh yeah? Well, what’s your favorite swear, Fanny?”

After composing herself, the younger Karoly says, “Fuckmook.”

“Idette: what’s your greatest fear?” Quinevere interrupts, “Can… we not talk about this right now? Please?” Idette looks into the eyes of the potential matron and nods understandingly. “Hey, sexy: What superpower would you love to have?” The sole Ainsworth and the younger Karoly perk up. “Knew it. Well, I’m not going to get in the way of you two, so I’ll settle for… radioactive hearing.”

Idette belts out a heroic fanfare as Veronique makes her choice. “I’d want to be a necromancer. Conjure murders of undead. Vampires, not zombies or ghosts. They’re so stupid.” Idette shouts, “Coup! Coup!”

Idette lets out another few notes, Veronique joining in, as a milk-haired lady prepares to drop some grievous science. “I was thinking about controlling the weather but I thought about the specifics of it. I wouldn’t actually be commanding storms, but air currents. With that, I could compress the moisture in the air in such a way that I could… make sudden waterfalls or… gargantuan arctic boulders. And if I tried really hard, I could form ersatz gravity wells. But I was also thinking about being able to manipulate light. I could make things very bright and hot, but I also could make things very cold by abstaining light and its by-product, heat. I could also do cool things like make swords or armor. Bombs that act like miniature black holes.” Veronique claps in awe of her brain.

The lover of faeries knows when to let the best idea reign, so, with a three-piece human trumpet section trying to say otherwise, she drops the baton.

The ginger says that those are enough questions for now. Plenty of fodder for conversations and plenty of life left to get to know each other. Also that it’s best to to let these sorts of things happen organically. Then she burps.

The Last of the Preview Chapters of “Lie”: “Crushed Petals” (NSFW)

Posted in Fiction, Sample Chapter with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 31, 2013 by Rathan Krueger

“Lie” is available for only $1.99 wherever eBooks are sold. Here are chapters one, two, and three. A taste, if you will. Thanks for reading.

The goils unpack their healthier foods in the kitchen. Fantine sneaks the odd bit of candy in her baggy pockets as she arranges things onto the shelves. As for the rest of the empty calories, Idette bags them and tucks into a corner. All the while, Veronique and Quinevere glare at her from the counter for her mischief. Idette says, “Hey, at least you didn’t get to the used dildos.”
She takes a snapshot of everyone in the kitchen, but she didn’t take into account of the flash being magnified due to all the linoleum. Carrying on as if nothing happened, “Ha! I heard an absolutely mental tale one night at a pub.”
Veronique raises an eyebrow as she takes out a box of crackers.
Idette continues, “Some old biddy brought hers to a sex shop. She HAD to have used it for years because when she took it there for an exchange— Fantine, you can’t exchange used dildos.” The younger Karoly turns a Fantine sort of red while Quinevere gives an annoyed sigh.
“The biddy tried, though. Went to the counter, took it out of a bag, and dropped it onto the tabletop. Veronique.” Veronique looks up as she gathers empty bags. “I’m sure you’ve had a phallus: have you ever used it to the point of flaking?” The elder Karoly blurts out a laugh and shakes her head. “Because she did. It hit the counter and flakes flew everywhere.”
Veronique goes blank-face, “…what?”
Nodding, the ginger continues, “I don’t think she cleaned it in the years she’s had it so the smell must’ve been TERRIBLE. Oh, Fantine—-”
She taps the shelf girl on her butt.
“—-don’t get self-conscious about your lady fumes.”
Fantine almost drops a jar.
Idette comforts… in an Idette sort of way, “All of us have it and guys don’t mind it nearly as much as you do.”
Veronique agrees, then warns, “I have heard of women who smell of ground beef, but that’s mayhaps due to their not washing their panty hamsters.”
Quinevere puts the all the empty bags under the sink as Idette chimes in, “So wash yours. I guess that’d be a thong gerbil for you right now…”

The younger Karoly stops liberating candy and wishes her heart would explode. Veronique unwraps a champagne bottle, one of many spirits she picked up, and asks, “What does she mean, love?”
“Oh, I tricked her into wearing one of my thongs.”
“Really now?”
Quinevere tries being respectful, “You both will give her ulcers…” The perpetually embarrassed one sits at the farthest corner of the counter hoping that they’ll forget her and her butterfly clips. Her aunt asks, “Do we have to take a trip to a certain store soon?”
“You’ll have to buy entire place! She was only supposed to wear it for a few seconds.” Quinevere tries to cure Fantine’s ginger ail with a shoulder rub as Idette keeps on, “That was almost 90 minutes ago.”
Veronique becomes stumped by the cork but manages to look at her niece with a smile, “Aw, you’re finally growing up. Because you’re trying new things, not because of your choice of negligee.” To Idette, “I don’t mind thongs but I much prefer hipsters. I’ll probably be cremated with a pair.”
“I KNOW! They’re so snug!”, Idette says as she wags her rear.
Veronique, giving up on spirits for the time being, “I tried a pair initially a few years ago and have since sworn allegiance to them.”
Idette inquires, “You have a pair on now?”
Veronique tries remembering, can’t, then looks at her niece. She’s too focused on not being focused on to notice anything, so her aunt unzips her pants. She shows off her black-with-purple-pinstripes hipsters, and a long scar.
“Oh, those are sex. How much were they?”
Veronique zips up and replies, “A few pounds. They came in a five-pack. My favorite current pair came from that: a prison-striped number with a pink bow.”
The ginger scoffs, “You love your stripes, don’t you?” She quickly shows off her checkerboard hipsters, then asks, “Quinnie, are you a thong or hipster chick?”
Quinevere pats Fantine’s back and walks to the closets through the theatre. “It won’t matter soon.”
Idette follows as the two Karolys finish kitchen duties.

“What do you mean?” The sole Ainsworth gets to a closet, takes out a hanger for her coat, and unbuttons it. The ginger plants herself at the opposite wall and says, “I never saw you as one for going commando.”
Quinevere puts away her coat, takes a deep breath, and faces her friend.
Wearing a dark gray pinafore with a black turtleneck… and a small bump in her belly.
Her friend stands aghast. “…what’s that?”
Quinevere’s arms hang vulnerably at her sides, “What’s it look like, Idette?”
“Is that real?” She lifts her dress, exposing her young pregnancy above black hipsters, then lets it drop.
“When did that happen?”
Quinevere walks to the chandelier, “Shortly after the last time we were together,” and moves a hand over a bulb.
“Who’s the father?”
She lets the hand hover a bit before replying, “I don’t know…”
Idette practically leaps from the wall, “Quinnie, you were supposed to be smarter than me.”
Quinevere’s eyes dart to her friend with hurt and rage, “You think I wanted this?! I didn’t even have sex!”
Idette freezes, “…what?”
“I was at a party and I met a guy and we… we went to a room and… and…”
Idette’s hands clench into fists, “Did he rape you?”
Quinevere stares at her, then walks to the other side of the chandelier, “Thanks for thinking I’m so weak.” She takes a deep breath and continues, “We got in our underwear and I straddled him like I’ve done for years. We orgasmed a few times over fabric— How was I supposed to know that he could… get through?”

“Quinnie,” Idette’s voice is tinged with a cold anger, “find out who he is.”
Quinevere stares into the lights, “It’s not his problem.”
That was the last straw for her friend. “He got you pregnant, Quinevere. He has to take care of the both of you now.”
Quinevere tries to keep her composure, but her cracking voice gives her away, “I’m not ever sure I want it, Idette. I’m not supposed to be a mum. I hate my father for doing this to me.”
“…doing what?”
Quinevere sighs deeply, then her eyes cut to the floor, “I have… tiny bumps on my… They’re completely harmless and not contagious, but they’re genetic and I got them from him. I can’t get that out as a guy’s about to go down on me or have sex with me. And I’m awkward enough without having to explain that at the top of conversation.”
Annoyed, her friend says, “How could you fuck up your life like this?”

“Umm… are things ok up here,” Veronique asks as she steps out from behind the curtain with her niece in tow. “Fantine and I are done with the kitchen.”
From the other side of the chandelier, “Things are fantastic, apart from the soon-to-be over there.”
Veronique looks at a Quinevere on the seam of togetherness and approaches her, “Oh, congrats! Do you know if it’s a boy or—”
Idette stomps from behind the lights, “Don’t fucking congratulate her irresponsibility.”
“I wasn’t being irresponsible, Idette. I don’t even know if I’ll keep it.”
The elder Karoly looks surprised, “You won’t? I think you can afford one, with the excesses of your father and all.”
Quinevere backs away from the chandelier, toward her CDs and Fantine, “It’s not that. I didn’t ever think I’d get pregnant. I never wanted it and it’s terrifying that I have a skeleton growing inside me.”
Veronique places a hand on her back, “If you don’t feel that you’re ready, maybe you should have an abortion. Or maybe give it up for adoption. Having an unwanted child is infinitely worse than not having one at all.”
Quinevere looks at Veronique with glassy eyes and whimpers, “I’m afraid.”
Her friend says, “Oh, too afraid of being a mum and too afraid to do something about it. Very typical, Quinnie.”
Quinevere pushes the comforting hand away and walks toward Idette, “Typical?  Typical?! You invite people to a place that doesn’t belong to either of us and have the arrogance to demean me?”
Veronique takes Fantine’s tear-stained hand and leave the oncoming perfect storm.

“I told you on the phone they were coming, Quinevere.”
The light they share is almost as bright at the rage burning between them.
“You told me: told me. You told me that you were bringing people to something that was supposed to be you and I.”
Idette walks away to the other side of the capodimonte, “Damnit, I thought it’d be fun to have more people! You like them! If this was such a problem, why didn’t you tell them to go home?! I could’ve came back in my car and you could’ve showed me your shame without having to involve anyone!”
“Why are you so cruel about this?”
Idette grabs the branches and says, almost as if she’s admitting it to herself, “I was supposed to be in your position someday. I was supposed to be the one who got knocked up or whatever. You were supposed to get married and have a kid, and we were supposed to be mums together.”
“That’s a bit difficult with my history, isn’t it?”
Her friend walks back to her, “Quinevere…”
“No, you wanna talk about the ideal: let’s fucking talk about the ideal. I dreamt of the perfect life for me. But men never wanted that from me. Or even dates. To be told that I’d make a man truly happy someday by everyone and for that to never have come to pass all my life… of all the failures I’ve had… it’s to the point where I only approach men because I know I’ll fail, and that’s more comforting to me than a second date.”

“Quinevere… I know that I sound like a scratched vinyl, but you will find someone. I’ll help you, if a relationship means that much to you.”
Emotionlessly, “Fuck you, Idette.”
“…what?”
“How dare you say that to me after what you’ve done.”
Genuinely confused, her friend asks, “What did I do?”
“You told me that a new teacher started working at your school and that—”
“Quinnie…”
“No. You started chatting him up and found that you two like the same things, which meant that he and I would. Then you remembered that workplace romances were frowned upon and said that he would be great for me. Then you managed to convince me after that bloody miserable night at the club to give love another chance. Then I found out shortly after that you were going out on dates with him. One of which I was asked by you to go with you on.”
“Quinnie, he ended up not being the right bloke for you.”
Quinevere’s voice cracks again but her eyes still don’t betray her, “Why couldn’t I make that choice for myself?! Why do I need Idette Fucking Rudelle to choose my life for me?!” Idette’s never seen her like this. She can’t look at her, the monstrosity of rage too ugly and painful.
“I’m sorry.”
“’Sorry’? Do you even remember what happened the last time we were together?”
Idette innocently says, “We went to that small comic convention.”
“That Friday morning, we bumped into two men who were into us and I pointed out who I was interested in. Come that night, I find you two snuggled in our hotel room. The next night, I find you two dancing at a party we were supposed to go to. I couldn’t face you in our room so I stayed in the lobby all night with a book. Sunday morning, you didn’t know I was gone. So tell me: why should I believe you when you say you’ll help me?”
“I didn’t think you were serious about him…”
Quinevere is suddenly disgusted and walks to the nearest wall. “You didn’t think I was serious?”
“Well… no. And I’m really sorry. But he ended up being an arse. You were luc—”

“STOP FUCKING MAKING MY DECISIONS FOR ME, YOU FUCKING CUNT!!”

You could hear Edithshire through the silence.
Quinevere asks, “Why can’t you treat me like a human being?!”
Idette tries walking toward her, “I…”
Quinevere turns her back on her friend, then takes a calming breath. “You’ve been to so many places I haven’t, been with so many people… don’t you understand how hard it is to be me? It’s so hard for me to talk to a man and when I do, it’s always the worst situation for me. And now I’m in the absolute worst situation and I’m scared, Idette.”
She turns to her friend, “I’m so frightened. I have something growing inside me and I don’t know what to do with it. And I want you to help me through… whatever I end up doing. You’re my best friend. I need you.”
Idette wants to reach out to her Quinnie but she can only feel a wall. “But you don’t need me as much as you believe. I’ve had to travel to so many places and fuck so many people to become who you perceive to be a decent person. You’ve become such a beautiful light in my life without having to leave your room.”
“If I’m so great, why have I always been alone?”

Quinevere goes upstairs to her room and buries herself in her bed. She hears faint footsteps from the stairway. At first, they approach her door, then back away. She can hear them enter Fantine’s room, then Veronique’s, then the bathroom, then finally Idette’s. They stop at the connecting door for what seems like hours. The door finally opens and Idette steps inside. She climbs into bed with Quinevere and holds her in her arms. Quinevere begins to cry, but Idette brushes her fingers down her face. An old agreement between them.
Friends until the end.

Chapter Three of “Lie”: “Two Tribes”

Posted in Fiction, Sample Chapter with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 30, 2013 by Rathan Krueger

For only $1.99, you can pick up “Lie” wherever eBooks are sold. For a few minutes of your time, here are chapters one, two, and four. Thanks for reading.

The goils finish their Earl Grey, Fantine doing her best to hide her sour face. She hates the smell of it but doesn’t want to make a fuss. From the group sitting at the corner of the counter, Idette is the only one who notices. Being Quinevere’s hetero life-mate, she’s learned to see through the mirages of the meek. She helps the younger Karoly with the dishes and whispers in her ear, “…I know your secret.”

“Do you mind my smoking in here?” Quinevere yawns and replies, “No, but my father might and I wouldn’t want to upset him.”
“Shit. Outward I go, then.” Veronique gets up and slides her stool in place with her hips. “Oh, and don’t worry about what I leave behind. I don’t use filters and I’ve seen leftovers carried away by rain, wind, and mice.” Idette laughs at the idea of a mouse having a nicotine fit, constantly thumping its head into a wall and wailing. She doesn’t share her mental image, so the others think she’s mental while she washes cups. Veronique walks a bit quicker to the front.

“Idette?”
“Quinnie?”
“What do you think we should get?” Idette shakes her hands dry, then playfully wipes them on Fantine’s shirt. Its owner, not knowing what to do, frantically dries the china. “Hmm…” Idette bursts out of the kitchen through the velvet rope. Quinevere helps a perplexed Fantine put the cups back into their places.
A minute or so passes, then they hear a loud thud and a faint “FUCK!!” come from the main room.
Quinevere sighs, takes out a frozen pizza, and hands it to the limping Idette entering from the curtain. Placing it on her thigh, she says, “Meat’s ok. Unless.” She glares at Fantine.
“I… I like chicken.”

The interior goils join the exterior one as she sits on one of the steps under the late-afternoon sky. “I was wondering who died,” Veronique says to the frozen pizza. “I thought Mrs. Soffe’s class was supposed to make you better on your feet.”
“It was th— We made a list.”
Veronique hops up, with an embarrassed skid. “Not a word, Idette.” The ginger raises a hand peacefully… but imagines things with stifled laughter. She then takes an arrogant stance and says, “What a genious. I mean, genius. Genius!” But it’s too late. Something you don’t do when you’re smug is make a mistake because you’re not allowed to live it down. Ever.
Quinevere starts walking to the Mini Coop. Its owner is about to join her, but looks at her goosebumped arms. “Fantine, be kind and get my gray jumper I came in with, please.”
Her niece complies. “Thank you, dear.”

When the younger Karoly comes back to the front door, the three are standing by the speck. Her aunt waves her over and quickly goes back to rubbing her arms. “Now, it’s important that you get everything on that list, Quinnie. Fantine and I spent some time on it.” Veronique’s ears perk up as she puts on her sweater, “Oh? Well, we’ll have to scour the village if it comes to that.” She kisses her niece’s forehead, “Don’t fret, Quinevere, I’ll pay for our things,” and pops the locks of her car.
Quinevere slides the list into a pocket of her still-buttoned coat. She’s about to slide into the car, when she catches a whiff of her mess. “Um, Idette. Could you, while we’re gone?” Her eyes dart to that special spot on the ground.
“Yeah, yeah. Where’s a bucket?”
“Under the sink.” She gets in the car and closes the door, then reverses. “Thanks.” And reverses again. Veronique playfully hangs over her car door and tells Fantine, “We shouldn’t be gone for more than two hours.”
To Idette, “No Alafamly, please.”
The ginger salutes her and the elder Karoly waves goodbye with her pinky. The two drive off and Idette grins mischievously at her new, young accomplice.

Fantine stands in the kitchen with an empty tin bucket while Idette ponders. “If we spill water anywhere inside, the Ainsworths will, at the very least, fuckin’ behead us. Why didn’t the ol’ guv build a back door… Ok. It shouldn’t take much water to clean up Quinnie’s sick. But that floor’s slick.”
If Idette sounds different it’s because she tries to speak more properly when she’s around her friend or Veronique. In any case, she changes pizzas.
“Bloody slick.” Fantine starts to say something but stops. “No, go ahead.”
“What if we used water from the river?”

Bunkerton Bridge is in full view. A kissed album from Quinevere’s collection, Jesca Hoop’s “Hunting My Dress”, drifts in the interior. A faint beep was heard at the beginning of their journey. It’s still there, but they’ve since gotten used to it. However, if they searched out the sound, they would’ve found that it’s from Quinevere’s cell phone in the glove compartment. Melissa left a voicemail, you see. “—’re kidding,” Veronique states. “Please tell me you’re kidding.”
“No, when she was a little girl, she used to put on her father’s clothes and pretend she was a robot.” Veronique laughs, but gathers herself before it’s time to cross the bridge. “How did she get that into her head?”
“I haven’t a clue. She grew out of it. Eventually.”
“How eventually?”
“…when she was 14.” Horror overrides comedy. “Does her father ever bring it up?”
“Idette never told you?”
“No, she doesn’t say much of her parents. She mentioned something about her mum, Baibin, once but I don’t remember anything of it.”
“Oh. Mr. Rodelle’s dead. He was assaulted by a careless driver.”
“Fuck… What was his name?”
“Tabbart. The car kept on so they weren’t ever caught.”
“How old was she?”
“14.”
“Oh… What of her mum?”
“She wasn’t involved but as hard as Idette took it, her mum took it far worse. She doesn’t do much save for mourn and sleep. Tabbart had a respectful job and everyone loved him there so, coupled with his insurance, the Rudelles wanted for nothing.”
“At least… at least they have that.”
“Yeah. Turn left once we’re off Bunkerton.”

Back in Dragonspire, Fantine helps Idette unpack in her room. Well, it’s Harold and Janice’s room but they’re obviously not using it now. It’s closest to the bathroom and Idette likes the idea of not having to climb over Quinnie to take a bath. The younger Karoly stands by the door taking things out of Idette’s knapsack. The ginger’s bed-bound and sorting through what’s handed to her, stealing the odd snapshot. Yes, the pizza’s still on her leg. “—ospital?” Fantine replies, “She needs her appendix taken out.”
“Oh, that’s no biggie. What’s she look like, then?”
“Hmm?”
“Your mum.”
Fantine describes Marietta, who’s essentially a raven-haired Heather Graham. “You must look a lot like her, then.”
“Yeah…” Fantine hands Idette the last bundle of clothes, but something falls onto the floor. She picks it up, then quickly drops it. Idette thinks there’s a nicotine-addled mouse around and asks, “What?!”
“It’s… it’s a…” Preparing herself, she leans over and sees… her black and pink thong. She slowly brings her brown eyes to the Karoly blue. “Blimey, you’ve worn a pair before.” The thing by the door turns a bright red. “…I’m gonna pop your thong cherry. I’m gonna— I’m gonna pop your thong cherry! We’re the same body type, so your bum won’t stretch it out.”
Fantine’s too frozen with fear to move. She manages to squeak out, “They look so… look so uncomfort…” She starts tearing up and continues, “No! I’m not wearing that!” Idette is bemused and a little annoyed with her childish reaction, then sees that she’ll have to try a different tactic with her. “Let’s play a game. If I can read your mind—” she picks up her thong with a bare foot “—you have to wear this. I don’t have to see you in it, but you have to wear it for at least… ten seconds. Then you can give it back to me.”
“You can’t read minds…”
“Then you’ve got fuck-all to worry about, right?” Fantine untenses.
Barely.
Idette proceeds to do a logic puzzle. One Quinevere always gets her with. She manages to “read” the younger Karoly’s mind with math and elephants. Victoriously, she kicks the prize onto Fantine’s shoulder and points with her foot to the bathroom door. The bashful gal trudges to her linoleum and porcelain tomb, closing the door behind her. Idette waits to hear the distant sound of dropped trou, then continues sorting.
A minute or so passes until Fantine finally opens the door and quietly helps arrange things. Noticing that the younger Karoly tugs at the seat of her pants occasionally, Idette pats herself on the back.

Veronique and Quinevere rummage around Rumpled Bags. Their cart is reasonably full, with half the list taken care of. Including a box of tea that isn’t Earl Grey. “—ode with our friend, Toni, because she was the only one with a vehicle and knew where the club was.” Veronique picks up a box of crackers and asks, “They have clubs for teenagers now? Where were they 25 years ago…”
“I don’t think Absolute Zero could be considered a genuine club. Even at 16, I thought it was rather bland. But it was a club and we were there.” She checks the list. “We need to find preserves.”
They round the corner to find the right, fruit-scented aisle. “So. Absolute Zero.”
“Oh. Well, there isn’t much to say about it. It was the first club Idette and I went to and she fared better than I on the dance floor. I was coping with wallflowerisms and potentially overdosing on energy drinks.”
“Unlike at… what was that other club you mentioned?”
“Dresden.”
“Right. You know, you’re more verbal than Idette gave you credit for.”
“It’s a bit hard being reserved around someone who’s seen you regurgitate. Ah. There they are.”

The younger Karoly is more comfortable with her floss as she continues to scan Mrs. Ainsworth’s collection. She stands somewhere in the L-section. Idette enters from the kitchen with the can of ginger ale she asked for. She hands it over and plops on the “couch”, feet in the air, and puts a cold can on her bruise. They decided to bake the pizza so she needed to find a new compress. Although Fantine is physically settled into her negligee, her mind is very much focused on it and has the synapses to prove it. Her brain’s like the middle of Chinese New Year. The only time she’s said something since being upstairs has been for the soda she’s drinking. Carefully, lest we forget Idette’s bucket issue. It seems she’ll be this way for a while.
“—ally get to Courtenay Wood. I passed it a lot throughout life and I thought it had an ace trail. When I got there, it crossed my mind that I lost him since I don’t look behind me when I drive. But he parked next to me and everything was brilliant. It was his birthday and the forest was my idea, but we were also aware that my period wasn’t for another week. And there weren’t any other vehicles nearby.” Idette waits for a reaction. It’s a game she’s been “playing” with Fantine. Seeing nothing, she continues, “We walked a ways down the trail. There weren’t anything but trees, and a lone bench a bit of steps before us.
“Anyway, he’d been walking behind me for a while and I could sense he was fed up with looking at my arse. Tight denim does that to strapping young lads, Fantine. If he held on for one more meter, we could’ve at least sat down. But he didn’t and we started snogging standing up. He undid the front of my pants, slid his hand down— I think I was wearing a pink and black thong…”
Fantine, somewhere in the m’s, tenses and lets out a high-pitched “What?!”
Idette laughs outrageously. “About bloody time! Oh, magnificent! Don’t worry, love, I didn’t buy them until yesterday and this happened a few years ago. His hands knew their way around a fanny… Ha! You’re ‘Fanny’ now.”
Fanny— No, that feels odd. Fantine turns around, flustered.
Idette says, “No use fighting it: no one has any say over their nickname.”
Fantine turns back around and focuses harder on DVDs.
“Anywho, he was always a fine tease so, naturally, he stopped when things started feeling fantastic. He zipped me up and we kept walking. Then we come to a beautiful clearing with a gazebo overlooking a pond.” Idette holds her hands up and takes an imaginary photograph. “I don’t need to tell you what we did—” she drops her hands onto her chest, smirking “—but I do need to say what stopped us. Apparently, it was a field trip day and we heard a group of wee ones coming down the way as I was about to cu— Long story short: we straighten up, we break up, and my feet are up.”
She swings her feet around as the youthful Karoly moves to the n’s.

The riders travel around Edithshire looking to accomplish the rest of the list. A detail only a true friend would know about Quinevere is something Idette is currently taking advantage of. If you were to give Ms. Ainsworth a list, she would read it one item at a time instead of all at once. If she was a consummate reader, she would notice that the list gets increasingly absurd. One item, for instance, is a demand for all the world’s right socks. Her eyes haven’t gotten that far. In fact, they’re a bit stuck. She’s having a problem with Idette’s k’s.
She hands the list to Veronique at a red light. A Veronique who does not have a problem with reading everything at once. She sighingly hands the list back and, as the light turns green, heads promptly back to Dragonspire. Quinevere thinks she’s being rude until she sees the demand for a crate full of bukkake (NSFW).

Idette and Fantine sit near the garden with their almost-gone meat-lovers pizza, the latter squirming slightly. The ginger, at last, found a talking point with the clipped one and they’ve been talking about it twixt bites: faeries. Idette’s not nearly as big a fan of them as the other one is, but she’s a much bigger fan than Quinevere, who isn’t at all. So she keeps her love to herself.
The younger Karoly gushes about her collection of Amy Brown art, about her walls in her room covered with pieces, about the wax sculptures she makes in class, about how she still looks out her window at night at a flower patch she planted when she was a child and hopes she’ll see a faerie wave “hello”… when the elder Karoly’s speck is heard approaching.
Idette says something about being found out as they get up and throw pizza remains into the Melody.
The riders exit the car, and Quinevere laughs at the ground again.
Idette gets the bucket and hopes she doesn’t gather any crusts.

Chapter Two of “Lie”: “Put the Kettle On”

Posted in Fiction, Sample Chapter with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 25, 2013 by Rathan Krueger

 Less than two dollars is all it takes to buy my first novel, “Lie”. And to assure you that it’s less than two dollars well-spent, here are chapters one, three, and four. Thanks for reading.

As our riders exit the bridge, the typical bursts of conversation and silence keep them company during the hour-long ride. You can imagine which Fantine prefers. Not many cars are on Archibald Way, something Veronique is grateful for. She hates smoking in her car and traffic brings her hatred to light, and puff. To the left, the green hills of Sebeas undulate at a steady pace. Weste Lake dominates their right-side peripheral, and a tiny refinery exists along its horizon.

Quinevere breaks up the binary repetition by telling Veronique to drive onto the cobblestone path that’s approaching. The driver says that she doesn’t remember one on this road as a surprise creeps up to her left at a steady 50kph. “My father had it paved a month ago,” a delicate voice says. Idette giggles to herself, her titters resemble Greta Garbo’s, as Veronique wonders aloud how the fuck candy pays out so much. Fantine stares at the swaying grass, noticing its change from Autumnal orange to the red of Red Baron as they go deeper into Lily Valley.

Idette takes a few shaky photos along the way and Quinevere wonders why, she’s been here plenty of times. She says it’s for her pen pal. “The one from America?” She confirms and says that, a few months ago, they thought it fun if one bought a disposable camera. One would take a few snapshots of random things and mail the camera, with a new letter, to the other. This would go back and forth until it was full, and the following letter would have their copy of whatever the camera contained. She steals a freeze-frame of Quinevere eating a pretzel.

Driving on the cobblestone that follows Melody River, Fantine sees two hills in the distance and more crimson flora. As they get closer, more becomes clear. Melissa would know that the flora are flowering cherries and sycamores, and that the u-shaped forest of Alafamly is filled with them. And if she asked Quinevere, she’d know that the two-story Tudor revival cottage is indeed Dragonspire. Surrounded by lily-of-the-valleys and sweet autumn clematis flowers, near the branching drainage basin of the river.

Beige, stucco walls with red half-timbering, a jettied second floor, and a thatched roof with solar panels are what make its intriguing exterior. The goils get out of the car and are greeted by the sound of swishing grass in the midday air. Quinevere has an unexpected reaction: she vomits. A quick bark and a loud splat. “Because of the bumps.” Amazingly, none got in her hair. Veronique offers her a wad of cigarette paper to wipe her mouth and she embarrassingly takes it. The elder Karoly tells her not to worry and points out that she managed not to tag her pretty coat. She then stops everyone and tells them to give her their phones. That this is a getaway and as such, can’t be bothered by the outside world. They awkwardly reply and she stuffs them in her glove compartment. Then Quinevere mentions that her father forgot to install phones.
“Even better,” Veronique purrs.

Everyone relieves their bags from atop the car. Avoiding Quinevere’s fresh mess on the cobblestone, they walk to the odd entrance of Dragonspire. The steps go down instead of up and cascade about two feet. The sole Ainsworth checks the pockets of her buttoned coat, finds the keys in the rear one, and begins her long introduction of Dragonspire to the Karolys.

The first thing noticeable once inside is that there’re two feet of mahogany steps to climb, the same mahogany that makes up all the flooring in the cottage. Also, it’s very dark despite the time of day for the only window is upstairs. To either side of the steps are short walls that become part of the floor as you go up. On either side of the bi-level entryway, once at the top of the steps, are small closets. The right side, however, exclusively has the light switch. In the form of an awkward pedal on the floor. Quinevere makes it to the top first and the rest follow her lead, in a blind-lead-the-blind sort of way. The Karolys put their luggage near the left closet as Idette stands on the top step with arms outstretched. Quinevere shakes her head and smiles as she steps on the pedal.
Freddie Mercury, the lead singer of Queen, shouts “FLASH!!” as the capodimonte chandelier mounted on the floor ignites. Veronique jumps, Idette sighs, Fantine smirks, and Quinevere explains: “My father is a king of Queen.” She then twists the pedal with her foot until the lights dim to a comfortable level. The elder Karoly comments on the lack of Queen things, seeing only a stereo by the staircase and a bookcase filled with CDs that have nothing to do with the band. The albums are varied, but there’s an “Idette” section that can only be described as a medley of electronica. Fantine suddenly wonders if Mr. Ainsworth gave his daughter that name because it sounds like “queen”. Quinevere thumbs toward the doorway to the left sealed off with a velvet rope. “Mum could do with out them.”
The Karolys peek into the dark room. Idette reaches twixt them and flicks the wall switch. Mr. Mercury chimes in again with the operatic part of “Bohemian Rhapsody” as the lights flare. The three are blinded by all the memorabilia, it’s all too much to take in, and Idette makes all the fabulous disappear.

Still by the closet, the sole Ainsworth explains that the room used to be the library but since her mother wouldn’t let all of Dragonspire be a shrine to Queen, she let her father have one room. Of course, he chose the largest one. Quinevere points to the room directly across from them and says it’s the theatre. She then goes up the staircase near the three and they follow.

The main room downstairs seems to have been inverted in this main room upstairs, minus the lack of an outside door and the light source being where it should. Everything looks basically the same: big, open space, a door to the immediate left and right, and stucco everywhere. Idette runs to the right door, pulling the light chain above the stairs that ignites the square source above, and claims it for herself. Quinevere continues her tour by going left.

They walk into a small bedroom, stepping on a light switch, that’s shades of Victorian and modern times. The sole Ainsworth then leads them through a door to the left, into a bedroom that looks exactly like the one behind them. She stands in the membrane as the Karolys look at the canopied beds.  Idette walks in as Veronique walks into the new room and notices yet another door to the left. “The bathroom.” Fantine asks if it’s the only one and Idette confirms. Veronique tosses her sweater on the bed and claims the current room.

Quinevere approaches the bathroom door and feels the need to explain the neo-history of Dragonspire.
How it was a glorious mess when Harold found it, which is why he bought it in the first place. That and the lilies (one of Queen’s songs is titled “Lily of the Valley”). How he “designed” the interiors with boxes he had lying around. How he wanted to stay green, which is why Dragonspire is solar-powered and why all the soap, even for dishes, is natural. How the plumbing cost a fortune to do properly, but he had more than one fortune to spare. How, as she walks into the rather large bathroom, staying green meant no toilet paper, meant a bidet.
Idette interjects, “How there’s a beautiful hot tub but no laundry room so we can either wash our clothes in here or with the trout…”
How the bathroom is the only room with a window, a circular thing with a webbed design. How there’s no basement, and so on.

Back to the first floor they go and through thick curtains into the cavernous theatre. Mrs. Ainsworth’s dominion. Fantine becomes noticeably excited at the sight of walls filled from floor to ceiling with Amaray cases and digipacks. Veronique raps her niece’s shoulders and asks if there’s anything she likes. “…all of it.” Quinevere smiles, but she can’t figure out if it’s because of Fantine or what her mother would say about her. There aren’t any seats, not in the traditional sense. The room dips in the center and in the crater, a half-circle sort of couch is planted.
There’s a Blu-ray player in the center of the room, with wires disappearing into the floor. There’s no TV, no screen: in their place, an anal-retentive rectangle is painted on a wall the perfect shade of white to watch things on. Janice doesn’t care about the HD revolution, but her daughter mentions that the ceiling-mounted projector runs at 1080i. Whatever that means. “Blu-rays can hold more film and ‘I’m too ornery for getting up to change discs during a four-hour thing, have pity.’” Idette giggles at Quinevere’s perfect impression and they all move through the other curtained doorway to the kitchen, the final room of the tour.

If the theatre is a cave, then the kitchen must be a tunnel. A white-tiled tunnel. With a long, granite counter in its middle that also serves as the dinner table. Diner stools surround it. The quite modern refrigerator sits near this entrance “because I don’t wish to traipse around through Sturm und Drang for a bit of rye before me flickers start, have pity.” There’s a velvet-roped entrance on the far-left wall leading to that royalty shrine. The stainless steel, electric stove sits in the corner next to the fridge. The porcelain sink is camped next to the stove. The walls have pots and pans and silverware and things hanging and dangling. All the cabinets hang doorlessly from the ceiling, and something becomes immediately apparent. Dragonspire being, essentially, in the middle of nowhere means that food isn’t easy to get to. Knowing that his little girl would be going there with “that Rudelle brat”, Harold took it upon himself to stock up on food.
His heart was in the right place… but his brain lied somewhere in the nursery. I suppose it’s hard for some fathers to let go. Even when their daughter’s 31. Naturally, and quietly, Fantine doesn’t see a problem with acres of junk food and a fridge full of frozen pizzas. However, Veronique and Idette recoil in terror at the negative calories. It’s swiftly decided that, after tea, Veronique and Quinevere go back to Edithshire for proper food. Idette asks Fantine to help her hunt for cups as her aunt turns on the tap and Ms. Ainsworth gets a kettle.