What you will find here

This is a place to examine plans filled with hope; plans which promise a refuge from chaos; plans which will shape our futures. Veterans with and without PTSD, Pentecostal Presbyterians, Adjudicated Youth, and Artists-Musicians-Writers: I write what I know. ~~~ Evelyn

Friday, January 31, 2014

Excerpt from The Island Remains Chapter One

Chapter One

March 1944


            The icy breeze rushed past the generalmajor and the headmaster’s wife and cascaded over the parapet, crossed the island of Helierhou, and plunged into the English Channel.  The Normandy Coast sparkled white across the glimmering blue-green to the east.  Sark, Jersey and Guernsey lay south, just visible from the top of the ancient stone fortifications on which they stood.  One hundred years ago, the skeletal stone parapet became the foundation of Helierhou’s Academy for Dependent Children.  In the 17th century, it was a stronghold for various refugee Royalists.  Prior to that, it was a monastery which housed Catholic monks from 1400 until the Presbyterian Synod took over during the 1600’s.  Over the last three years, it has housed the island’s headquarters for the German occupation force.

            Wild flowers – bluebells and daisies – scented the air despite it being only early spring and vied with fish smells of the harbor to the west and the village of Gueschlin nestled along the shore.

            A plane flew overhead quite low, and the two people watched it land in the airstrip just past Helierhou’s forest.

            “That will be my replacement.”

            She nodded to the old man shrunken beneath his heavy woolen and ermine coat. 

“Oberst Karl von Kruppstieg is a fine man by accounts.  Combat trained, aristocrat by birth, but this is his first war, so he’s still hungry.”

            She nodded again.

            He leaned his shoulder against hers, “So be careful.”

            She met his eyes.

            “I wish you would come with me. You wouldn’t need travel documents at my side.  You know you’d be welcomed.”

            “Thank you, but I belong here.”

            “There are children you could teach in Germany.  My grandchildren could use you as a governess.  My wife wants you to come.”

            She turned and took his hands, warming them in her own.  “When the war ends, come back.  You and your wife will be most welcome in my home.”

            A car wound through the forest towards the academy.

            “It depends on how the war ends…”

            “Not to me.”

            He kissed her forehead and they began the slow descent down the parapet’s icy stone steps.

            At the base of the stairs, she glanced at the newcomer.  He stood in the foyer; well-balanced muscles and height; shoulders broad without looking like a beast of burden; tight butt and narrow hips without a hint of femininity. Blonde and blue eyed, but his skin had had a hard time with chicken pox.  The smell of him – crisp aftershave, pipe tobacco and male sweat – wafted toward the headmaster’s wife.  She blinked in surprise at the desire his presence imbued.  She was not one swayed by desires – denied to her for so long - but her skin tingled of its own accord.  Then his eyes met hers.

            Power.  Power was embedded within the flesh of his face.  Intelligence marbled his features.  He was at the age when men are truly men, somewhere between 38 and 55, when the number of years lived no longer matters, but the way these years are spent means everything. 

            Oberst Kruppstieg didn’t smile, but he licked his lips and inclined his head.  He turned to the man at her side and saluted, “Generalmajor Brucke, I bring you greetings from Berlin.  My orders.”  He handed an envelope to the tall thin man.

            Brucke gave them a cursory glance and pocketed them. “Come to my – your new office.”

            The headmaster’s wife walked past the Oberst, trailing a light scent of French lavender.  “I’ll bring you coffee after I’ve settled your valet.”

            It was hard to tell, swathed as she was in a worn woolen shawl, but Karl got a definite impression of sensuousness about her.  She moved like a tree sprite from out of the Nordic legends, sure of her feet and the paths they trod. She belonged here; he could almost see the ethereal threads binding her to this place and this place to her.

            The commandants sat, first the Generalmajor behind his desk, then the Oberst in the rich leather and mahogany armchair beside the matching couch.

            “Did you have a pleasant journey?”

            No, he had not. But truth mattered little here where courtesy and form must hold sway.  “Yes, thank you.”

            “How is your father?”

            Von Kruppstieg raised an eyebrow at this informality.

            “I knew him.  Served with him during the Great War.  We were in the cavalry together.  Your father sat a horse better than –“

            A light tap on the door interrupted him.  Both men said, “Come.”

            A gefreiter opened the door and the headmaster’s wife carried a large wooden tray to the buffet.  The soldier grinned at the new commandant; his uniform was neat and tidy, but too large for such a young boy.  As with most replacements at this point in the war, he was barely older than fifteen.

            Von Kruppstieg looked again at the young private.  “Schmidt?  Wilhelm?”

            The boy’s grin brightened into an adorable smile.  “Yes, sir.  It is me.”

            “I had no idea you knew your new oberst.  Why didn’t you mention it, Schmidt?” Brucke asked.

            The boy reddened and looked at his feet.

            Von Kruppstieg gently came to his rescue.  “You look very fine in your uniform, private.  It suits you well.  Do you like it better than the livery?”

            The boy opened his mouth but frowned, unsure which answer would be best.  “I am proud to be in the army.”


            “I miss the horses.”

            “I would imagine they miss you, too.  You have a gift for horses, Wilhelm.  And I’m sure my children miss you, too. I will call you if we need anything.”

            Wilhelm saluted and quietly shut the door behind him.

            Brucke and Delamair exchanged glances.  They had both grown fond of the teenager.  When he was off-duty, Wilhelm played with the students rather than drink with the other soldiers.  He and an orphan by the name of Pettigrew had become fast friends; Wilhelm taught him how to ride and Pettigrew taught him how to read.  The fact that the new colonel also knew and liked the boy boded well for him.

Without speaking, the woman poured two large cups with coffee and dropped a single sugar cube in one, followed by a small dollop of cream. She ignored the utilitarian mugs the kitchen always set beside the tray.  She used the china set her brother-in-law had given her as a wedding present.  The pattern was Blue Willow and it was a testament to her mind-set that even though the Germans occupied her island, they were still guests in her house.  She brought the cup and saucer to Brucke and asked, “How do you like your coffee, Colonel?”

            “The appropriate term is Oberst,” he corrected her.

Excerpt from

The Island Remains

© Evelyn Rainey

Whiskey Creek Publishing

ISBN tba June 2014

Thursday, January 30, 2014


5 very ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped

1 cucumber, peeled and chopped

1 green pepper, seeded and chopped

1 onion, chopped

1 Tbsp finely chopped parsley

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 ¼ cup tomato juice

3 Tbsp salad oil

2 Tbsp vinegar

¼ tsp paprika

Salt & pepper


Combine tomatoes, cucumber, green pepper, onion, parsley and garlic in blender; cover and blend until smooth. Stir in tomato juice, oil, vinegar, paprika salt and pepper; chill thoroughly. Serve in individual chilled soup bowls; place an ice cube in each bowl. Yield: 6-8 servings.

(Mrs. William B. Dabney, Decatur, TX © Southern Living 1968)

Gluten-free and Vegetarian/Vegan Recipes

To meet my needs of being “gluten-free”, there are no ingredients that have wheat in them. Since one out of one-hundred people now have problems with the way the United States processes their foods, there are plenty of brands which are marked GF Gluten-free. However, read all the way around the label and determine if there might be traces of wheat or if the product was processed in a plant or on machinery that also handles wheat. (These statements are usually NOT found near the list of ingredients.) If this is the case and you are gluten-sensitive or have a wheat-toxicity, don’t use it!

I also deleted recipes which called for hidden gluten – like shrimp, frozen mangoes and parsnips.

Vegetarian foods allow the use of milk, honey, eggs, and other non-kill animal products; vegans do not. I have endeavored to post only recipes with vegan-appropriate ingredients. If I really liked something, though, that was vegetarian rather than vegan, I will note it.

Whenever possible, use non-GMO products (non-genetically modified).  If you think gmo’s are ok for you, you haven’t read any science fiction books, let alone Charles Darwin.

These recipes are not an attempt to substitute wheat or animal ingredients with something else. These recipes are “naturally” or originally gluten-free and vegetarian/vegan.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Excerpt from Close Your Eyes Chapter One

          She was in the dark place.  She was drowning in the scents around her – beer-tinged piss, wood smoke, exhaust fumes, and the stench of something very sweet.

          Wake up, wake up!  But she never could; not until each scene unfolded, again and again.  She’d had this same dream for as long as she could remember: same dark place, same evil people, same cloying stench.  Same ending.

          Wake up, damn you, she groaned in her sleep.

          The man had the woman on the ground and was hitting her.  The little girl – she was the little girl in the dream – kicked and bit and screamed, but boney fingers clenched her arms.  She was just a child; she couldn’t escape.

          Another man – she called him the snake man --  walked up and kicked the first man savagely.  The woman crawled to the newcomer’s feet and grabbed the ankles of his boots.  The little girl knew they were speaking, but couldn’t understand the words.  The man in the boots touched the woman’s cheek, caressing her face gently with his left hand.  The snake tattoo wound its way up his arm, slithering as his muscles tightened.

          Wake up, wake up, please.

          His right hand rose above his head.  He held something that was long, thin, black, and caught the flicker of the firelight.   To a child, it looked like a very long nail.

          The woman looked at the little girl and spoke the same words every time, “Close your eyes, Baby.”

          The phone was ringing.  The phone.  There’d never been a phone in the dark dream before.  Beverly sat up, switched on the bedside lamp, picked up the phone with one hand and with the other, opened the table’s drawer and patted the empty spot where she used to keep a pack of Misty’s.

          Beverly,” her mother’s voice was shaky.  Bev glanced at the alarm clock.

          “Mom, it’s 2:30, what’s wrong?”

          “I can’t find the cat.”

          Beverly took a calming breath and glanced into the empty drawer.  “Mom, you don’t have a cat.”

          “Of course I have a cat.  What’s wrong with you?”

          Beverly firmly shut the drawer.  “Mom, you don’t have a cat.”

          “I certainly do.  Serious hasn’t eaten the tuna I put down for him in three days.  I haven’t let him out.  But I can’t find him.”

          Beverly wiped her sweaty face and stood up.  “I’ll be right there, Mom.”

          Her mother Theodora, called Teddy for short, had forgotten that Serious Cat, a part tuxedo, part Persian had succumbed to kidney failure three years ago.  As Beverly slipped on old jeans, a T shirt and her well-worn grasshoppers, she debated the best way to break the news to her mother – again.


          “Mrs. Knightly, I’m Dr. Eoghan.”  The young man entered the room reading a chart, and stuck out his hand without looking up.

          Beverly stood, a barrier between the intruder and her mother.  “Where’s Dr. Figaro?”

          Eoghan looked up and pursed his lips.  “Dr. Figaro is at surgery.  I’m one of his partners.”

          “No offense, Doctor, but we’ll come back when Dr. Figaro is available.”  Bev turned and touched her mother’s shoulder.  “Time to go, Mom.”

          “The nurse said you were very concerned about your mother.”  Eoghan stepped in front of the door.

          “The nurse also said Dr. Figaro would see her.”  Beverly bristled.  “He’s the only doctor my mother’s ever known.  I’m sure you’re a wonderful doctor, I just want to speak with someone who knows my mom.”

          “Give me a chance.”  He shrugged and grinned.  “Why don’t you tell me what the problem is, and if you’re not happy with my suggestions, I’ll tell Dr. Figaro everything when he gets back this afternoon.  He can call you.”

          Bev hesitated.

          “I have her entire folder here.  It goes back ten years.  It will save you a trip.”  He pointed at the examining table.  “Mrs. Knightly, why don’t you hop up here for a minute?”

          While Eoghan examined Teddy, he asked Beverly questions.  “What’s happened?”

          “She called me last night about something.  When I went over to her house, I found out she’s not been taking her medication.”

          “Tacrine or synthroid?”

          “The one for mental confusion: tacrine.”  Bev smoothed her skirt.  “It looks like she’s missed four day’s worth.”

          “Anything else?”

          Bev glanced down to her right, frowning.  “She’s not been paying her bills.  I got a phone call from a friend at the city and had to rush a check to them to keep them from turning off her lights.”

          Teddy snapped, “Of course I pay my bills.  They must have lost it!  You know how they are!”

          Eoghan felt her pulse and spoke softly.  “Mrs. Knightly, how do you feel?”

          “My cat died.”

          “I’m sorry to hear that.  I love cats.  When did it happen?”

          Teddy looked to Beverly for help.

          “Three years ago.  But because she hadn’t been taking her medication, she was concerned last night that she couldn’t find him.”

          “His name was Serious.”

          “I like that name.  My cat’s name is Peabody.”

          Teddy giggled.

          Eoghan held a cell phone to his ear.  “Janet, come to room five please.”

          “Hello Mrs. Knightly, Mrs. Birch.”  Janet was huge and always smelled of cedar.  Both mother and daughter brightened at her greeting.

          “Janet, would you take Mrs. Knightly’s vitals?  Mrs. Birch and I will go to my office to get out of your way.”

          The diplomas on the walls were from American universities.  He watched as she scrutinized them and didn’t sit until she had.

          “So, how are you holding up?

          “I’m fine.”  She looked at his white coat and noticed a red lighter resting in the front pocket.

          “You look tired.”

          “Doctor, you don’t know me, so you have nothing to compare my present looks with.  Maybe I always look this way.”  Beverly hoped the wry twist of her lips helped her words come across as humor.

Excerpt from

Close Your Eyes

© Evelyn Rainey

Available for publication.


Friday, January 24, 2014

Excerpt from Bedina's War - As Needed Chapter One

The Slave’s Hand

The woman screamed in fear as her young boy bit the arm of the

soldier holding her. The soldier kicked the child into the street and

shook the woman’s arm. “Thief! You, thief!” the soldier growled.

There were civilians on the street, eyes cast down, shoulders

slumped, paces quickened. But no one interfered. These Alliance

monsters weren’t the first to conquer this world, nor would they be

the last. It wasn’t a rich world by New Alliance or Commonwealth

standards. It just happened to orbit an area in the middle of any

named conflict for the last millennium. The people who survived each

generation were the ones, like these on the street today, who turned

their faces away, who stepped aside, who bore their captivity like a

filthy cloak and never rose above what the universe had dealt them.

The child continued to scream from where he had landed in the

middle of the street, distracting the soldier from wrestling his purse

back from the woman’s grasp.

“Shush, Dooley, stop crying. It’s alright.” The mother did well to

try to quiet her child. Whatever had possessed her to bring her child

into town? This most recent occupation force was a band of Alliance

monsters from planets where most females were barren. But it did not

stop them from punishing pick-pockets, even if she was a breeding

woman. It was natural. It was the way things worked. She should have

shut her mouth and returned the soldier’s purse without bringing

attention to her child. But she had to spit in his face. “Stupid monster.

This money is mine, not yours.”

The soldiers spoke Alliang along with their own native languages,

but they had picked up enough of this world’s Commonwealth

language to understand what the woman had said. They laughed and


one shouted a phrase in Alliang which loosely translated to “Been

robbed by a girl!”

Enraged and embarrassed, the man slapped the woman and then

whistled, pointed to the child, and grunted a one-word command.

From beside the soldiers’ hover transport burst four beasts. They were

all shaggy hair, snarling teeth, and barbed collars. They attacked the

child as they had been commanded. They circled him first and the

woman beat at the man, screaming incoherently in her language. He

hit her again and heard something snap. She lay dead beneath him, as

the dogs closed in for the kill.

Acacia, who had been sweeping the porch of the apothecary shop,

had been watching. Her eyes and ears focused on the scene, but her

head was bowed and her hands were busy with her task. When the

soldier grabbed the woman, the slave had done nothing. When the

soldier kicked the child, Acacia had paused, but not interfered. This

was the way the world worked, and the boy child would learn how man

treats man. But the dogs were something else entirely. She snatched

the broom in both hands and dashed into the street. Her first blow

came down across one cur’s back, snapping its spine. It yelped more

in surprise than pain and collapsed. Her second blow swept the feet

out from under another dog and then she stabbed the tip of the broom

handle into its ribs, crushing its heart.

Battle-trained, the two remaining dogs tried to flank her. She kept

the bloody broomstick balanced at shoulder height, her fists gripped

firmly as she waited on the beasts.

The boy crawled backward toward the crowd. A man dressed in

livery picked him up and spirited him away. The boy clung to the man’s

neck, sobbing, but he kept his eyes on the slave for as long as he could.

The beta dog lunged for her right arm as the alpha dog watched.

She swung the broomstick with her left, forcing the massive body

up and over her head, the wooden stick connecting with the tender

undersides between the dog’s legs. Like any male attacked in that area,

the dog collapsed and lay in agony, unable to defend himself as the

broomstick crushed his skull.

Acacia ignored the cheers and jeers of the crowd. She faced the


alpha dog now, her weight on the balls of her bare feet. The next move

belonged to the dog. They both knew it. He began to circle her, drawing

her to the right.

Her right arm was on fire where she’d been racked by claws. Her

breath came in gasps; sweat rolled down her face, stinging her eyes and

making her shift cling to her breasts and thighs.

The dog had circled her twice now, observing her. A rock thrown

from someone in the crowd struck her chest, knocking her backward,

and the dog lunged. He knew her now. She was not one to play with. He

must kill her quickly. He went straight for her throat. She brought the

rod up, catching the beast under his chin. Bone cracked; saliva exploded.

The dog, thwarted, fell to the ground but would not surrender.

“Call him off!” an Alliang voice shouted above the crowd’s ruckus.

“Call him off Dog-Sarg, or by Satan herself, I’ll feed that dog your balls!”

A shrill whistle split the air. The dog growled low in his throat, and

then sat down. His eyes remained on the slave. Acacia held the dog’s

gaze for three beats, and then dropped her gaze to her feet.

First-Defender Myrthyr Hamm looked at the woman he had just

saved. She seemed to have adopted the submissive stance of her people.

But she had single-handedly dispatched three battle-dogs with only a

stick. The First-Defender did not turn his back to her as he spoke in

Alliang, “What is this, Dog-Sergeant? Have you taken to using civilians

to pit-fight your dogs?” He kept his voice soft, inquisitive, almost jovial;

a good-natured barb between comrades in arms.

“This woman stole my purse. As is my right, I took time to punish

this woman.” Dog-Sarg pointed at the limp form draped across the

hovercraft’s loading platform, and then remembered with a start that

she was dead. He had killed a breeding woman; an act punishable by

slow death on his home world. “That girl,” he gestured at Acacia. “Took

offense to what the law allows and attacked me. I called my dogs and

she killed them.” Dog-Sarg wiped the spittle from his face, hoping the

First-Defender wouldn’t notice and blustered, “I’ll have her life for the

death of my dogs. It’s my right!”

The First-Defender didn’t have to look directly at the other soldiers

to see their reactions. Dog-Sarg was lying, or at least expanding the

truth. He also knew the soldier was within his rights as a Dog-Sarg to

slay the young woman. Despite the dead dogs at her feet, she looked

more child than woman.

“There was a child.” Acacia spoke softly but without fear. Her

Commonwealth words were strongly accented, but Hamm understood

them. Her face was bowed, her broom still grasped in her hands, but

down across her thighs. Blood dripped from her right arm onto the

dusty street.

“I see no child.” He replied, matching her language and her gentle


“There was a child. He kept crying and your soldier could not

concentrate,” she caught her breath, “on his legal right to recompense.”

Hamm silently watched her, so she continued. “Your soldier set his

dogs on the child.”

The First-Defender waited silently for more; Acacia was quiet. He

glanced at the faces of his men and knew she was telling the truth. He

settled his gaze on Dog-Sarg. Returning to Alliang, he stated, “Dog-

Sergeant, your thief is not moving.”

Dog-Sarg gulped; sweat popping out on his pasty skin.

The First-Defender spat with disgust. “Ta-pikes base.” He repeated

it in Commonwealth. “Take your men back to base.”

Dog-Sarg beat his right fist against his chest and whistled. His

dog led the rest of the soldiers onto the transport. Dust swirled for a

comtime and then the transport hovered away.

The dead woman’s body was held in the embrace of the liverydressed,

sobbing man. Skittish youths grabbed the legs of two of the

dog carcasses and began to drag them away.

“Stop! Leave them alone!” Hamm shouted in Commonwealth. The

youths dropped their loads and ran into the crowd.

“Why were they doing that? What did they want with the dogs?”

he asked Acacia.

“They were hungry. Each dog weighs more than those boys do.”

“Meat? They would eat the dogs?”

“They were hungry.” Acacia risked looking the First-Defender

directly in the eyes, but he was staring down at the dogs.


In Alliang, Hamm asked, “Why did you interfere?” He glanced at the

girl and realized she had been staring at him with brilliantly blue eyes.

“How could I not?” She asked in perfect Alliang.

He nodded, his assumption confirmed. “How did you come to

learn Alliang? It is taught only in New Alliance Military Academies.”

She shrugged her shoulders. “I don’t know. I listen. I learn words. I

have always been able to do so.”

“I don’t believe you.”

“Why not?” She looked at him.

“You just killed three battle-dogs with a stick.” He stared back.

“Aye-yah! You wicked girl!” A spindly old man wobbled into the

street, shrieking in Commonwealth at the top of his lungs. “Wicked!

Wicked! I will beat her, General! I will beat her until she begs to be

killed!” The old man grabbed Acacia’s elbow, his hands trembling so

much the broom shook. “I will beat her severely, General. You can be

sure of it! She will never cause problems for the Alliance again. Never!

This I swear!”

The First-Defender grinned down at the tiny ancient man. In

Alliang, he asked, “Would you, a woman who can kill battle-dogs,

allow him to beat you?”

She patted the Wisdom’s papery hand and bowed. She answered in

Alliang, “If it will keep your men from returning and taking revenge

on my master, I would have him do exactly as he has said.”

“You used the word ‘master’. Is he your teacher?”

“I use the word ‘master.’ He owns me.” She patted the old man’s hand

again and smiled down into his worried face. “But he has taught me many

things. He is a good man.” She looked back up at the First-Defender, still

smiling. “He has never beaten me, nor treated me unkindly.”

“Treat your slaves with kindness and justice by day so that the

knife in the slave’s hand will not strike you by night.” Hamm’s eyes were

unfocussed as he repeated words he knew by heart.

“Wise words.” The slave bowed. “They sound like scripture.”

Anger sparked from Hamm’s eyes as his words bore into her, “Do

I look like a priest?”

She pointed at the dead dogs and softly asked, “Do I look like a slave?”

Excerpt from

Bedina’s War

© Evelyn Rainey

Comfort Publishing

ISBN 9781936695881

Thursday, January 23, 2014


3 Tbsp butter/margarine

3 cups sliced zucchini or summer squash

3 cups shredded cabbage

¾ cups chopped green pepper

1 ½ tsp salt

1/8 tsp pepper

¼ tsp dried oregano

¼ tsp dried thyme

1 Tbsp vinegar

Melt butter in skillet; add squash and cabbage. Cover and cook about 5 minutes. Uncover; add green pepper. Cook over low heat, turning occasionally until squash is tender , about 10 minutes. Stir in seasonings, herbs and vinegar. Yield: 5 cups.

(Mrs. John A. Shoemaker, Louisville, KY © Southern Living 1968)

Gluten-free and Vegetarian/Vegan Recipes

To meet my needs of being “gluten-free”, there are no ingredients that have wheat in them. Since one out of one-hundred people now have problems with the way the United States processes their foods, there are plenty of brands which are marked GF Gluten-free. However, read all the way around the label and determine if there might be traces of wheat or if the product was processed in a plant or on machinery that also handles wheat. (These statements are usually NOT found near the list of ingredients.) If this is the case and you are gluten-sensitive or have a wheat-toxicity, don’t use it!
I also deleted recipes which called for hidden gluten – like shrimp, frozen mangoes and parsnips.

Vegetarian foods allow the use of milk, honey, eggs, and other non-kill animal products; vegans do not. I have endeavored to post only recipes with vegan-appropriate ingredients. If I really liked something, though, that was vegetarian rather than vegan, I will note it.

Whenever possible, use non-GMO products (non-genetically modified).  If you think gmo’s are ok for you, you haven’t read any science fiction books, let alone Charles Darwin.

These recipes are not an attempt to substitute wheat or animal ingredients with something else. These recipes are “naturally” or originally gluten-free and vegetarian/vegan.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Excerpt from To Hold Back the Dark Chapter One



            When Atticus opened his eyes to the voice, his bedroom was filled with light.

            “Atticus, wake up.”

            Atticus sat up and rubbed his eyes.  “Who are you?”

            “You know me, Atticus.  You must hurry.”

            “I know you?  Who are you?”  He tried to see into the white light.

            “Atticus, I have known you all of my life.  Trust me.  Trust me now or it will all be for nothing.  Get under your bed.”

            “Do what?”

            “Get under your bed, Atticus.”

            Atticus shrugged and then stood up.  As the six year old crawled under his bed, the window in his room shattered and gun fire riddled holes into where he had been sleeping.





“Mom, tell Dad I am, TOO, going with him to see Otka’s dragons!”  Venutha’s command could be heard by the Horsemen of Atticus as they walked onto the mess hall’s front porch.

Ben’s retort was just as loud. “Joan, tell my daughter she is NOT going with me!” 

The horsemen paused at the double doors and exchanged grins.

Jeremy put his hand on the door, “This morning’s muck chores says Venutha gets to go.”

“Boy,” Wren-at-Dawn laughed, “The day the queen doesn’t get her way with Ben is the day I will muck all the stables by myself.”

The Horsemen of Atticus chuckled and walked into the mess hall for breakfast.

The Jamaican Me Hungry Hall was large enough to seat fifty with benches and tables scattered around in a friendly way.  The three dozen horsemen and dog guards, along with Ben’s family, sat here for most of their meals.  But anyone was welcome.  The cooks and staff were refugees from other worlds, like most of the horsemen.  But they were like family, too, and the morning was filled with the smell of wonderful food and the sound of friendship.

Venutha the Queen stood off to the side, hands on hips, bull-dog tenacity on her face.  She was dressed in faux leather leggings, cuffed ankle boots, short broomstick skirt in geometric turquoise and terracotta and gold, a peasant blouse that looked useless over her flat chest, beaded hoop earring, and sterling rings on every finger.  Ugly ducklings are supposed to magically transform into gracious swans with time.  That hadn’t happened to Venutha yet.

Ben, in jeans, plaid flannel shirt and a red face, also had his hands on his hips.

Joan, Ben’s wife and Venutha’s adopted mother sat on a bench beside a high chair, spooning oatmeal into Baby Ben’s mouth.  Her stomach was swollen with five months of pregnancy.  Her face was the very picture of contentment.  A slight smile lifted one corner of her mouth as she ignored her husband and daughter.

Pierre hobbled over to them, leaning heavily on his cane.  His right knee had shattered in a parachute landing during Operation Iraqi Freedom fifteen years earlier, but what little stability the fused bones had given him were negated by a blow from the staff of a dark soldier two years ago as he and his horses fought to hold back the dark on Ganternon.  Wren-at-Dawn walked beside him, carrying a tray loaded with both men’s breakfasts.

Hreno made a little screech of joy and jumped up from her table to tackle two people in hugs:  Mitchell and Shadow.  Mitchell, Wren-at-Dawn, and Hreno first met Shadow five years ago during the Battle of Crystal Lake.  Shadow had been the weave of Lord Marcelux, but escaped during the battle and now lived in Mitchell’s dorm.  The two were always together.  But Hreno joined them as often as she could.  The young man was thick with latent muscles under a layer of softness.  His tanned face and jet black curls were average.  His eyes set him apart.  He never seemed to see what was in front of him, but what lay beyond now and here.  He was a weave without a redeemer.  Hreno and Shadow often whispered fearfully that he was in danger of loosing himself to the Weave, so they stayed close by whenever he opened a portal.

Distracted from her brewing tirade, Venutha smiled and went to join her friends.  “What are you doing here this early?”

“We’re weaving the portal for your father and Pierre.”  The blind girl embraced Venutha.

“They get to go?” she shrieked over her shoulder.

Ben curled his shoulders, his back to her, and continued his breakfast.

Venutha loved the sound her new boots made as she stomped back to his table.  “Why do they get to go and I don’t?”

Wren-at-Dawn whistled twice and counted with his fingers raised above his head: one, two, three.  The hall resounded as everyone present shouted, “It’s not fair!”

Venutha punched Wren’s shoulder.  He rolled his gorgeous brown eyes at her and smiled.

“We’re not going through to Risardia, we’re just weaving the portal.” Shadow sat beside Hreno.

Venutha stomped her new boots out of the mess hall and across the wooden porch.

Ben sighed in utter relief.  His wife leaned toward him while wiping oatmeal from Baby Ben’s fingers, “I’m proud of you.  You did a good job of letting her throw her tantrum and just taking those deep breaths.”

“You did good, partner,” Pierre patted his arm.

Jeremy raised his voice from two tables away, “Guess we know who’s mucking the stables today.”

Excerpt from

To Hold Back the Dark

© Evelyn Rainey

Available for publication.


Friday, January 17, 2014

Excerpt From Bedina's War - Lazy Eight Ladies Chapter One


The air-handling system did not work properly. The snoring man

next to Sally had eaten something hideous recently. The baby squirming

in its mother’s arms across from Sally desperately needed changing. But

then again, she had not bathed in two weeks herself, so she guessed she

should not complain. The other seat in the compartment was empty.

There were nine similar compartments on this shuttle. Jacob would

have said something appropriate right about this time, but Jacob was

not here. Sally rubbed the wedding band on her finger; a comforting

habit she had picked up since his disappearance.

“I had to sell mine.” The mother across from Sally spoke softly.

“I’m sorry?”

“My wedding ring.” She smiled tentatively. “I had to sell mine to

pay for this trip.”

“You didn’t look like you were on holiday.” Sally’s words were

sometimes harsher than she meant them to be. “Have you come far?”

The mother was younger than she looked. Grimy oil exaggerated

the lines in her face and neck. Bitterness had begun to etch vertical lines

in her bottom lip. “I guess you’d probably not think so.” She reddened

and looked at her baby. “I mean — you look like a Spa’Lab — not that

I’ve met any Spa’Labs — but you have red hair and blue eyes and you’re

very short. You look like —”

The baby spit up and the mother busied herself with cleaning it up.

“What’s his name?” Sally asked.

“Gaia. She’s a girl, aren’t you, my darling?”

“She’s beautiful. You don’t hear too many Old Earth names this far


“I’m from Earth.”


“You have come a long way, then. I’m from New Phoenix.”

The young mother began to cry. Just a tear or two at first, nothing

to call attention to, but finally, unable to hold back her sorrow, she

sobbed and buried her face in her baby’s blanket.

When she had dried her eyes, Sally offered her a chunk of bread.

“No water, sorry.”

“Water, Mother yes!” She laughed. “I remember when I could

turn on the taps and water would flow for as long as I liked. I bathed

everyday! My father has a recycling system on his sphere that … Well,

I never thought I’d miss water so much!”

“Is your father a former?”

“My father, a terraformer? No. He’s an Earther to the bone. He’d

never leave Earth. But he helped design a lot of the systems terraformers

use, like his water recycler.”

“I don’t think we’ll need to worry about water on Orchidea. It rains

there every day.”

“It isn’t supposed to do that, is it?”

“It’s an old form; one of the first this side of Talmedia. The formers

got the methane mixture wrong and the planet developed GHS.”

“What’s geyaches?”

“G. H. S. Greenhouse syndrome.”

Her blank stare encouraged Sally to add, “Too much carbon

dioxide built up, too much heat, not enough oxygen.”

“Oh.” Her confusion had not been erased.

“Orchidea is a very hard place to live, not more than a ghostform,

really, with a couple of squatters trying to raise oolongs.”

“What are squatters?”

“Anyone that won’t swear allegiance to the New Alliance is

forbidden to own land. So, those people who still claim land but refuse

New Alliance citizenship are considered squatters.”

“I didn’t know you could refuse to be a part of us. What are


“Lizards. Great, gigantic lizards. They are not indigenous, but they

do well in Orchidea’s climate. On some planets, they’re sold for meat

and leather goods.”


“People eat them?!”

“You haven’t been away from Earth long, have you.”

“A year and a half. But I’ve never eaten meat. I couldn’t!”

Sally tried really hard not to say something curt to this selfrighteous

child who still believed one could pick and choose food. She

glared at the air vent, wishing it fixed. But Sally never was gifted at


“Are you from Orchidea? I know you said you were from New

Phoenix, and my daddy told me that Spa’Labs are known to travel a

lot.” She had noticed Sally’s expression and spoke softly.


“Have you been there before?”


“How do you know so much about it?”

“I read about it.”

“You can read?” Admiration shone in her eyes. Then she fussed at

herself. “Of course you can read. I knew you were a Spa’Lab! I never

met anyone who could read except my daddy!”

It always surprised Sally that this one fact — being able to read —

miraculously changed her image from ballast tubing to copper pipes.

She would not have mentioned it, if it had not been for the Earther’s

attitude about meat.

“We ought to get some rest,” the young mother said, looking at her

wrist. “We should be arriving any time now.”


“Yes. It’s a Subdermal Normal Digital. My father had it implanted

on my tenth birthday.”

“The day these shuttles run on time — I’ll get a sub-diggy

implanted, too.”

Normal Digital was pretty much useless anywhere but Earth. It

divided the Earth day into ten equal movietimes, and each movietime

was divided into ten sitcoms, which were each divided into ten

comshells. But on New Phoenix, the solar day was fourteen movietimes

long, and on Dersdarina, the solar day was eight movietimes. Space

Labs were Earth-normal but only because the Spa’Labs did not orbit

any stars. Very few other planets — Alliance or Commonwealth had

exactly ten movietime solar days.

She was staring at the back of her wrist with a look of pride. Pride

in obsolescence, that was a good way to describe most Earthers, but

not to their face. There was never a need to be rude. Rudeness is a

poisonous wound inflicted only to fester. That was a NewPhee scripture

that Sally’s housekeeper Turna said often — usually as a false apology

following a searingly rude comment directed at one of the staff.

Sally took a deep breath. Subdermal digital and veggie-snobbery,

too; she was a long way from home.


The landing ports on all planets are kept up by the New Alliance.

The port on Orchidea looked just the same as any other Sally had seen.

Someone somewhere got a terrific buy on sea foam green paint and

tangerine orange fabric. Every port she had ever been in since the war

was decorated that way. It is supposed to suggest to the travelers that

all ethnicities are the same people now, no matter where they are: One

Earth, One Mother, One Family.

The War for Unification; that’s its name now. Not the War of the

Allied Aggression, as the Commonwealth called it, or the Mother War,

as the Alliance called it, not even Bedina’s War, even though it was her

idea. No, historians now refer to it as the War for Unification. Well, at

least the shuttle ports are all unified.

The shuttlers who were continuing their journey were shown

the communal dorm and got to eat. Depending on their fortune,

they could buy rations, exercise on gravity machines, or sleep in a

hammock. They were kept isolated from the rest of the shuttle station

within hermitically sealed tunnels.

The three who had chosen to stop at Orchidea were blasted with

anti-fungus powder before the shuttle door opened. They blinked in the

light of the customs room. One frumpy-looking guard pointed them to

the customs machine which asked each one to show their travel visas.

Sally placed the aluminum card in the appropriate slot.

Her vital statistics were stored on that card.



Spousal: Chervok

Clan: Gensveria

Familial: Salacious.

Age: 87

Child-bearing Discount: Yes

Occupation: Botanical scout

Communal Status: Monogamous wife, three biological children

Ethnicity: OrionLab native, New Phoenix citizen

Before the war, Alliance citizens could expect to live one hundred

years; Commonwealth members and Mission orphans, one hundred

fifty. Space Lab Nationals often saw two hundred years. The war hadn’t

changed this. So, out of a life-expectancy of two hundred years, Sally

was still of child-bearing years, and eligible for discount travel rates. She

did not mind that. There was one thing that did bother her: Ethnicity.

Anthropologists believe that humans developed into separate races

after their first journey into space. Sally did not consider herself a

Spa’Lab, never did, anymore than she thought of Jacob as a NewPhee

or that lost child as an Earther. All came from the same root stock.

But these millennia of interplanetary emigration and colonization

have hybrid humans. Sally was born and raised on a space lab. She

never ran in open fields, weighted by gravity, so her limbs and muscles

never elongated. She was short and muscular, with bright red hair and

translucent skin that freckled when given the chance. Her parents were

the same, as were their parents before them. The hair and coloring,

previously a recessive gene on Earth, seemed to establish itself firmly

in colonial Spa’Lab DNA. Sally’s Papa used to laugh and say, “Red

heads, like the Vikings of Old Earth, are the true conquering heroes

of space.” Ethnicity was one concept that the late President Lityerses

Bedina had encouraged before and during her two terms in office.

She was the queen of manipulation and “divide and conquer” had its

charm. By pointing out the genetic differences between the Alliance

and Commonwealth worlds and specifically the Space Lab Nations,

she gave the impression that humans were about to split irreconcilably


and only war could bring them back as one people. The concept of

separate races did not disappear after the war’s end.

“Is your visit on Orchidea business or personal?” The customs

computer’s voice sounded exactly the same here as anywhere else.


“Next.” It spit out Sally’s visa and swallowed the man’s next to her.

The three shuttlers staying on Orchidea stepped through the airlock

into steam; pure, wonderful, suffocating steam. Everywhere Sally looked

she saw green: trees soared hundreds of meters above her head, ferns

thick as hills sprawled along the paths, grass and ground cover squished

where ever she placed her feet. Among all the different greens were

browns and whites and touches of yellow, splashes of reds, and a hint of

purple. Watermelon on a hot winter’s day in New Phoenix; that was the

smell. And the scent of real chocolate, like the small cubes of chocolate

Jacob used to bring home to the children. High pitched whirring noises

echoed around her. A locust, larger than her foot, shiny black with stripes

of red and yellow boinged onto the grass in front of her. Orchidea was

beautiful; everything here was wet and vibrant.

How Jacob must have hated it.

Jacob hated traveling anywhere that was different from his home

world. Orchidea was nothing like New Phoenix except that they were

both terraformed planets that had gone wrong. New Phoenix was a

desert world with a lot of water, but not enough microbes in the soil to

support vegetation. A desert world that bred a fierce race of man.

“Oh, Mother! Please say this is an unusually hot summer day!”

Sally’s seating companion took out a huge white cloth and mopped

at his face. “Mother, look at this! My jumpsuit’s already soaked right


“Actually, Mr. Ignacio, it is autumn now in this part of Orchidea.”

A man suddenly appeared before them. Dressed to match his

environment, he seemed to step from out of a tree, like a nymph.

“Ah, and you must be Your Majesty Benjamin Haskell!”

“Mr. Ignacio, we follow Commonwealth traditions on Orchidea.

Haskell is my clan name, Benjamin is my familial, so you may address

me as Mr. Haskell or Haskell Benjamin.”

“So, I should not refer to your eminence’s title?”

The Orchidean’s repetition was soft but firm, “Mr. Haskell or

Haskell Benjamin. Either will do.”

The two men clapped the palms of their hands above their heads

in an ancient sign of peace.

“Excuse me, Mr. Haskell.” He turned to face Sally. “Where’s your

Talking Wall?”

He didn’t answer; he just looked at her, like she was an apple

blossom on an African violet. Sally held his gaze and let him think

what he pleased. She watched him as his eyes took her in. He began

by cataloging her hair, eyes and skin. Sally had a lot of freckles, so

Haskell — if he knew much about Spa’Labs — knew she’d spent most

of her life dirt-bound. His gaze moved from her face to her blue and

green striped jumpsuit. He didn’t linger in a leering way, but hesitated

appreciatively. He looked her in the eyes again, acknowledging her

presence, but then his focus dipped to her neckline. Sally could feel the

songbox pulsing against her throat, dangling on a heavy sterling chain.

Haskell knew what a Songbox was — she could see it in his expression.

He had recognized her as a Space Lab National. Sally expected some

prejudicial remark — something born of fear or ignorance. But he

smiled instead and slightly inclined his head. He was being respectful,

reserved, but he said nothing.

His sandy-colored hair was wiry. His nose was big with a shallow

cleft down from the tip to the place it touched his upper lip. His lips

were almost the color of his hair and were surrounded by a closetrimmed

beard and mustache, slightly more golden than the hair

creeping out of his toga. He was head and shoulders taller than Sally.

His well-proportioned body was a pleasing sight.

“The little Spa’Lab was asking about your Talking Wall, Mr.

Haskell.” Mr. Ignacio’s voice seemed to break Benjamin’s observation

and he looked at the ground.

“There isn’t one. Veggies took it over a few decades back. Most

who come here don’t need directions. They were invited.” He turned

his back and led Mr. Ignacio away to the waiting vehicle.

Gaia began to cry as her mother stood at Sally’s side. “Are they


going to just leave us here?” she whispered.

“We’ll be a’right.” Sally slipped her arm around her waist and glared

after the receding vehicle. “Why don’t you change and feed Gaia and

then we’ll be on our way.”


“Honey, we’ll follow the road. Orchidea City must be along it

somewhere. It’s the only road from here.” Sally watched a butterfly the

size of her hand lift off from a bromeliad.

“He was supposed to meet me here. He promised he would.”

“Now look!” Sally put her hands on her hips. “I don’t have any

patience with people who cry, and you seem to cry at the drop of a

helmet. You’ve got things to do, now get them done. I’m going to find

that Talking Wall, veggie-covered or not, and then we’ll be on our


Unable to speak through her tears, the young woman nodded

vigorously as Sally walked away.

There was a thin trail that led from the shuttle port into the forest.

Sally unsnapped her walking stick from her pack and squared her

shoulders. The walls surrounding the port were solid steel, like all

the ports in the New Alliance. Although vines and creepers covered

the ground, none of them dared the wall’s cold surface. A power grid

surged across the metal, too, to discourage foliage encroachment.

If there was a Talking Wall, it would be within walking distance

of the port. A Talking Wall’s purpose was to communicate directions

for travelers. They were programmed in Alliang (Alliance Military

Language — at one time, the most common language spoken thorough

out the universe) but for a fee, could translate into any of the dozen or

so more popular languages: various Commonwealth, Mission, probably

even Earther. Sally didn’t hope it could communicate in Spa’Lab. That

language was a closely guarded secret. She’d taught it to her children of

course, but never spoke a word of it to Jacob.

Spider webs drew her out of her contemplation. She followed the

path as it wove through the jungle around the port and wound up at a

bungalow nestled between the roots of a huge magnolia.

Excerpt from

Bedina’s War

© Evelyn Rainey

Comfort Publishing

ISBN 9781936695881