Take Another Peek at Paladina

It’s Friday and time for a Sneak Peek at Paladina, a work-in-progress. This story has been sitting on the shelf for a while. Inspired by UFOs and Greek mythology, I hope you enjoy this bit.

The Story Sentence

Paladina is a working title and probably won’t stick to this project. Its story sentence gives me direction and you a hint at what’s going on. (I discuss what a story sentence is in this article.

A protection specialist, sworn to defend a tiny Greek village, discovers they are pawns of treasure-hunting alien knights whose game pits her against her long-lost brother to save all of humanity. 

Location

The story takes place in Greece. The time period is current–or fairly current. This portion of the story takes place in a fictional mountain town in the Taygetos mountains. This mountain range contains the highest mountains in the Peloponnese peninsula.

Peak at Paladina

An apple of gold wrapped in barbed wire, sitting on a black cloth--could it be the apple referred to in the sneak peek at Paladina?

Rena took the blindfold off, as instructed. She had to squint against the light of the battery-operated lantern the boy carried and shone in her face. She shielded her eyes with a hand and the boy pointed the light into the black depths. They stood inside a large silent cavern. The cone of yellow light barely pierced the cave’s darkness. Black stone surrounded them. She couldn’t see the ceiling though she felt certain that she could touch the ceiling if she raised her arms.  But she didn’t test her senses. The boy had agreed to bring her to the apple only because she’d sworn he could keep the location secret by blindfolding her. Even so, he had taken a circuitous route. Good thing he didn’t know she could retrace every step they’d made.  

“Now we go through here,” the boy said, shining his lantern on a narrow opening in one wall.  

Rena inhaled sharply. She wasn’t claustrophobic, she just didn’t like tight spaces—no place to fight, no exit except the way you’d come. But she couldn’t back out now. She owed it to the team; they needed to know the Apple existed, that the risks they were taking were worth it. She nodded to the boy, lead on.

He disappeared into the fissure. Immediately, the light level dropped. Rena’s eyes tried to compensate, couldn’t. She hurried forward. The walls of the fissure had rows of smooth, narrow ribbons with sharp raised edges. The ceiling continued high above her head but several times she had to turn her head, else scrape her face or scalp. Ahkim would never have fit into this space. 

Want to Read More?

I hope you enjoyed this sneak peek at Paladina. Want to know more? You can read a little more here. Care to guess what comes next? Perhaps your guess will inspire me to write more for you to read.

A Growl in the Dead of the Night

Years ago my husband was out of town and I was alone when I was awakened by a warning growl in the dead of the night. Our six-month-old Dalmatian pup had never growled before. He hadn’t even barked. That event sparked the inspiration for this vignette. I hope you enjoy it.


A hand reaches for the doorknob in the vignette, A Growl in the Dead of the Night, by Lynette M. Burrows

The growling woke her. Sandy groggily shushed her dog, Max. Her usually obedient dog’s throat rumbled with a warning. Alarmed she rose on her elbows and whispered, “What is it, Max?” 

The weatherman had predicted a thunderstorm for tonight. Was distant thunder what had upset Max? She listened. An eerie silence filled the air. There was no purr of the furnace, no hum of the refrigerator, no whoosh of tires on the asphalt street below her second-floor bedroom window. Max, a black and white Dalmatian, lay on the rug along her side of the bed, his head up, an ear cocked. He listened better than she did. She reached down and petted his hindquarters. He’s heard an outdoor cat. Max hated cats. “Go back to sleep, Max,” she whispered and sank back onto the bed. 

Max’s tags on his collar jangled as he leaped to his feet. He walked stiff-legged to the closed bedroom door, his growl now a snarl. 

The hairs on her arms, her back, and legs crawled. She sat up. Did a branch outside fall? Maybe a neighbor just got home. 

Max lowered his head to the crack at the bottom of the bedroom door, bared his teeth, and growled some more. 

Sandy’s heart tapped a don’t-panic, don’t panic rhythm against her ribs. She sat up, eased her legs out from under the covers and over the side of the bed. Maybe he had a nightmare. Nothing to get excited about. 

Max’s unrelenting, deep-throated growl unnerved her. 

A dry, sour taste rose in the back of her throat. Maybe Max hears someone outside. Someone who shouldn’t be there. She reached for the phone, lifted the receiver to her ear. A two-toned wail pierced the air. 

“If you’d like to make a call, hang up and dial again.” The flat, unemotional computer voice didn’t reassure her.

 Her heart fluttered. Trembling, she clung to the receiver, held it against her chest. Her teeth chattered. There wasn’t enough air. She’d counted on always being able to call the police. What now? 

Max’s growl rumbled relentlessly. 

The two-tone wail and the computer voice were on endless repeat. She replaced the receiver. 

Maybe it’s the weather that’s spooked Max and me. They predicted a bad storm for tonight. But she still couldn’t hear wind or rain. She shivered, uncertain if was because of cold or fright. 

Max barked—sharp and loud. Once. 

She didn’t think but now stood, wedged in the farthest corner of the room. Max never barks. Not without reason. She didn’t remember grabbing the five-cell flashlight, but she clutched it with both hands. She couldn’t move. Couldn’t catch her breath. Couldn’t stop her tremors. She strained to hear what Max heard. 

Seconds stretched into eternities, one after the other. The pitter-pat of rain on the roof made her tighten her grip on the flashlight. She tried to breathe slower. To listen better. Her heart beat rang in her ears. No house noise. No traffic noise. No wind. An occasional pit-pat. And still, Max growled, head low, ears flattened. 

What did Max sense beyond that door? She twisted the long flashlight in her hands. What if a burglar stood on the other side of the door, frozen for fear of Max? And here I stand frozen for fear of the burglar. Is this a Mexican stand-off? 

A deafening clap of thunder rattled the house and lightning strobed in the windows. She jumped, then gave a timorous laugh. It was the weather! Poor Max. The pressure changes must be hurting his ears. She blew out a long relieved breath. Silly dog. Silly me. The cold tile had long since leeched body heat from her feet and legs. Gooseflesh peppered her skin. The pressure in her bladder urged her forward. 

“I don’t need this anymore,” she said louder than necessary and tossed the flashlight onto the bed. “Good boy, Max.” Extra loud. Just in case. Uneasy, she giggled. I let my spooked pup spook me. “It’s ok, Max,” she said loud and clear and reached for the door.

A Growl in the Dead of the Night-a vignette by Lynette M. Burrows

Reality

Now I can laugh about the experience that inspired the vignette above but laughter was the last thing on my mind at the time. I don’t know how the story above ends—yet. In reality, I turned on every single light in the house, sat in the dining room, and spent the rest of the night doing a jigsaw puzzle. Our telephone line service was restored the next day. Strangely, our dog never exhibited that kind of behavior ever again. I don’t think too long about what that might mean. 

Be sure to check out my other fiction samples. You can find the links on this page.

I hope you enjoyed reading about the warning growl and I hope you never experience such a fright.

Friday Fiction Sample: The White Hope

This Friday Fiction Sample: “The White Hope” is brought to you because you’ve been asking me to share some of my fiction.  I have been so busy with revisions, website design, technical problems with shopping carts (DH’s, not mine), and a collection of life’s trials, I have not had the time to learn e-publishing.  However, I thought that today I would share a snippet of a previously published novella that I co-wrote with my friend, science fiction author, Rob Chilson.

About Rob Chilson

Rob is the author of seven novels and numerous short stories and novellas published in science fiction magazines. I met Rob at a local science fiction group meeting. He and his then-roommate, William F Wu, invited me to join their writers’ group.  Shortly after that, Rob came to me with an idea for a story because he knew I was a writer and a nurse. Writing with him taught me a lot about how to tell a story. Visit his website at www.RobChilson.com to learn a little more about this Oklahoma-born author.

Our story, “The White Box,” was published in Analog, Science Fiction Science Fact magazine in December 1985. Analog published the sequel, “The White Hope,” in the November 1986 issue.

Eventually, I will post both in e-book format on my website.  For now, I hope you enjoy this snippet.

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A box, electricity, and illness reversed. What could possibly go wrong? Read the Friday Fiction Sample: The White Hope by Robert Chilson and Lynette M Burrows. lynettemburrows.comTHE WHITE HOPE
by
Rob Chilson and Lynette M Burrows

Gloria Bartram took a deep breath when her name was called. It didn’t help. Her heart was beating so hard they wouldn’t need a cardiac monitor or even a stethoscope to know it was racing.

She paused just inside the door and looked them over. Dr. Lapi wasn’t there; she had hoped desperately that he would be. Cathy Tompkins, the Director of Nurses, turned a carefully expressionless glance on her. Dr. Nurbaugh was there, of course. He was the picture of righteous indignation. She returned his glare with what she hoped was a level look of confidence.

Then she faced Arthur Wigginton, Research Hospital’s Administrator. The last time she’d seen him was when he had given all ‘his loyal nurses’ a pep talk at the beginning of the strike. He hadn’t even known her name then. His neatly trimmed, sparse white hair and slight palsy had endeared him to his listeners. He had seemed a sweet old man.

At the moment his blue eyes were as chill as ice and Gloria felt almost as if she faced an executioner. The large walnut desk he sat behind was barren except for a file directly in front of him and a tape recorder to one side. The only visible concession to personal comfort or taste was the high-backed leather chair he sat in.

“Be seated, Ms. Bartram.” His neutral tone did nothing to reassure her. “You know Ms. Tompkins and Dr. Nurbaugh; and this,” he indicated a gentleman seated on the other side of the room, “is Mr. Williams, our legal counsel.” He cleared his throat. “You’ve been summoned here to answer to a charge –”

The lawyer, Williams, stirred. “Not charged,” he said, “not formally charged.”

Wigginton heard him out impatiently, then said, “An informal charge then, of mutinous insubordination. We have a written complaint against you. It alleges,” he emphasized the word slightly with a conciliatory nod toward Williams, “that you wrongfully approved treatment without obtaining appropriate medical orders, and did so with full knowledge that there was a standing order specifically against this electro-neural therapy. This is a very serious charge. One that not only puts your license in jeopardy but also threatens Research. As I understand it, the patient has not regained consciousness since the treatment you administered.”

Gloria nodded. She’d checked on the patient, Debra Sandalescu, just prior to this meeting.

“That is unfortunate,” Wigginton continued. “If the patient or her family conclude that injury has been done, we shall be facing a lawsuit. That must be avoided at all costs, especially in light of Research’s present crisis.” He steepled his fingers together and looked over the tips of them at Gloria. “What have you to say?”

Gloria wet her lips and wished she wasn’t so tired. How could she think straight? She avoided looking at Nurbaugh. “Sir, I did what had to be done to preserve the patient’s life in the absence of her personal physician.”

“She was admitted to the Emergency Room, correct?”

Again, all Gloria could do was nod.

Wigginton laced his fingers together. “Ms. Tompkins, what is standard procedure when a patient is admitted to the emergency room?”

Cathy Tompkins gave Gloria a tight but apologetic smile then turned to the Administrator. “When a patient is admitted to the ER the unit clerk calls the patient’s personal physician while the admitting nurse takes vital signs and begins any stabilizing treatment that is necessary. And according to the records, these procedures were carried out.”

“I received no calls from Research last night,” Dr. Nurbaugh said haughtily. “Not from a unit clerk or anyone else.”

Gloria bit her lip to keep from shouting at him. Any outburst from her would only make things worse.

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Thank you for reading. I hope you enjoyed my Friday Fiction Sample: The White Hope. Your visits to my blog and your comments are appreciated so very much.