An excerpt from “Spin, Weave, And Measure”

My short story, “Spin,Weave, and Measure”, will be out soon in the Bad-Ass Fairies 4 : It’s Elemental from Dark Quest Books. Here is an excerpt – listen to me read it or just read it yourself at your leisure. The choice is yours!

     “Make the call,” instructed Thorn. Her dark skin and jumpsuit blended perfectly with the shadows gathered around them. Only her close-cropped, white hair stood out. She sat down on the roof ledge to wait next to her associate, Rose, who favored red. She claimed it complimented her olive skin and dark brown eyes. They were several stories up on the roof of a major software company building. She was curvaceous to Thorn’s thin austerity.

“If you insist,” said the third of their company. Yarrow was the youngest. Her white jumpsuit and pale skin repelled the shadows. It was not uncommon for her sylph form to be confused for a boy if one did not look closely. She rolled her blue-gray eyes but dialed in the number anyway, twisting a strand of her short, blonde hair as she waited for an answer.

     “Hello?” answered a man’s voice.

     “It’s time, William. Return the talisman.”

     “Who is this?”

     Yarrow gave Thorn and Rose an ‘I told you so’ look. “It’s been seven years. Time’s up.”

     “No. I’m not done with it yet. You’ll wreck my company!”

     “Nonsense. You’ll just have to be innovative on your own.”

     “But… look. I’ve got another idea. I just need it for another year.”

     “Not my problem. The deal was seven years, not a day…” She looked at the phone then turned it off. “He hung up.”

     Rose shrugged as she tied her reddish-brown hair back in a ponytail. “One of these days, a mortal is going to surprise me and actually stick to the deal. Ah well, let’s go to work.”

     Thorn cut through the skylight glass. As she set the fragment on the roof beside her, she said, “He has it stored in a vault two floors below us. Security system includes motion detectors, laser beams, cameras, dogs, and guards. Oh, and a horseshoe.”    

     “Horseshoe?” Yarrow shook her head and quipped, “What fools these mortals be.” She spun out a rope from her spindle.

     “Does he think to delay us?” Rose tied the rope off to an air conditioning unit. “Time is money, money is time, so I keep seven o’clock in the bank and gain interest on the hour…

     “That isn’t Shakespeare.”      

     “No, Saul Williams.”

     “Her latest favorite,” Thorn remarked as she cut the rope free from the spindle. “Let’s go, for time takes all things goodly.” She smiled grimly. “And time is our whim, sisters.”

     “Still on about Sappho? Surely you’ve found someone more current to your liking,” Rose complained.

     “There is something to be said for the classics,” said Yarrow as she shimmied down first, landing lightly and pirouetting clear.

     Thorn slid down next. She wasted little motion, smartly stepping out of the way. “You have no room to criticize, Yarrow. Shakespeare is a pup compared to the tenth muse.”

     Rose squeezed her voluptuous form through the window and landed squarely next to Thorn. “A bigger portal next time, if you please.” She smoothed her blood-red jumpsuit. “You are both infatuated with poets long turned to dust. What else are we living for if not to create fiction and rhyme?

     Thorn pointed to a corner. “Cameras.”

     Yarrow drew energy from the ether and spun out silver string. “Your fascination holds in perfection but a little moment.”

     Rose snorted as she wove the string into mirror cloth. “There, that should hold.”

     Thorn, being the tallest, held the length of cloth over them as they walked the hallway. It absorbed the dim light and bent it around them, fooling the guard monitoring the cameras. He saw only the faintest glimmer and dismissed it as a glitch. They entered the stairway and Thorn crumpled up the cloth, returning it to the ether.

     She continued their briefing as they walked down the two flights of stairs. “We’ll need to change to smaller costumes to evade the lasers.”

     “That’s so exhausting,” Rose complained.

     Yarrow grumbled, “Suck it up. You haven’t been spinning all night.”

     Thorn picked the lock on the door. “I expect there’s an alarm on it too.”

     “Why? There’s lasers. Wouldn’t alarming the door be redundant?”

     Thorn said dryly, “There’s a horseshoe.”

     “Good point.”

     “And he overbuilds everything,” added Rose.

     Yarrow sighed. “So we have to fight guards too?”

     “I just had my nails done,” said Rose.

     “Could the two of you go back to quoting poetry at each other? The whining is getting on my nerves,” Thorn snapped as she pulled the door open.

     Pity me then, and wish I were renewed.” quipped Yarrow, smiling sweetly at Thorn.

     Thorn arched an eyebrow. “When the world is old, and time has accomplished without haste the strange destiny of men.” She pointed to the open door. “Until then, get your ass in gear.”

     Yarrow stuck out her tongue then transformed into a wolf spider. She skittered up the door frame and along the wall, staying well clear of the lasers. Rose followed in the shape of a weaver ant. Thorn changed into a praying mantis. She flew lazily along, weaving through the beams.

     Thorn resumed her human disguise when she reached the door at the end of the hall. She cracked her neck as she idly swatted the wolf spider out of her face. Yarrow transformed as she landed on the ground.

     “That hurt.”

     “Teach you not to be a brat. Where’s Rose?”

     Yarrow pointed to the baseboard. “She found part of a cookie.”

     The weaver ant wrangled a forgotten bit of cookie gingerly around the last two beams. She neatly devoured it before resuming her human costume.

     “You could have shared,” pouted Yarrow.

Thorn silenced them with a glare. Her ear was pressed to the door. “We’ve got company. Shall we dance?”

     Yarrow pulled out her spindle and spun enough thread to tether it. “Ready.”

     Rose pulled out her weaver’s shuttle. “Ready.”

     Thorn unsheathed a set of throwing knives and opened the door to a narrow security office. Six guardsand two dogs lounged inside. The men were debating the significance of the door alarm.Startled, the guards jumped to their feet.

     One actually shouted, “Freeze!” as he fumbled for his side-arm.

     He fell as the spindle cracked his skull. Yarrow wound it back up the thread with a flick of her wrist, launched into the air and spun out of the way of Thorn’s attack.

     Knives flew. One landed in the eye of a guard, knocking him backward as the second hit him in the chest. Two more blades sank into a third guard as he tried to radio for help. Thorn strode across the room to retrieve her weapons, sidestepping as a guard rushed her.

     He missed Thorn and ran right into Rose. Her deep horse stance absorbed his attack. He bounced backward as her shuttle smashed into his head. He didn’t get back up. Rose whistled to the dogs. The Rottweilers trotted over obediently.

     Rose ordered, “Sit.” The dogs complied. She rubbed their ears. “Good girls. Stay.”

     The spindle spun around the remaining two guards, cocooning them in thread. Thorn tied it off and tossed it back to Yarrow. Rose knocked them out with the shuttle.

     Thorn said, “We should tie up the dogs.”

     “Nonsense. They’ll be fine,” said Rose, waving off her concerns. “See? They’re still sitting pretty for me.”

     “So long as it’s your ass they bite should they decide to do their jobs,” Thorn growled.

     “There’s the horseshoe. Looks like an antique.” Yarrow tried to take it but couldn’t quite reach it.

     Thorn easily plucked it from the hook. She turned it over in her hands, studying it. “Nice piece. Looks like it might actually have been used on a horse at one point.”    

     Rose took it from her. “Oh, good weight to it. I could use this.”

     Thorn picked the lock on the door. “Keep it.”

     “Wait. We need a picture for the wall.” Yarrow pulled out her phone.

     The three posed in front of the door, Rose holding the shoe while Thorn made a victory sign. Yarrow examined the result.    

     “You need to smile more, Thorn.”

     “I was smiling.” Thorn opened the door.

     Yarrow harrumphed. “You call that a smile? What do you think, Rose?”

     “She’s smiling on the inside, dear.” Rose looked around the vault. “Oh, my. I think someone watched too many Indiana Jones movies.”