Price reduction or A tip of my own

by Gerhi Feuren on 14 April 2014

The Bigger Tipper coverI have been publishing my short stories at a uniform $2.99 each. That is in dollar, it works out differently in other currencies. I price them there because I think it is a fair price.

But as an experiment, a favour, a tip and a promotion I am dropping the price of one of my stories to 99 cents.

So, The Bigger Tipper is now available for $0.99 (or whatever the dollar equivalent wherever in the world).

More about The Bigger Tipper

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Fortnightly Free Fiction: Grizzle & Bone

by Gerhi Feuren on 9 April 2014

Grizzle & Bone coverShaw Peel is under pressure. His wife, Minky, is bringing her boss home for supper and his stew, using a secret family recipe, takes a whole day to prepare. Will Shaw get the stew done and will Crippen, the talking werecat, be a help or a hindrance?

Shaw Peel is a dutiful stay at home husband with a dark hobby, and not only because his kitchen is in the basement.

Crippen, the werecat has an acidic personality and a sharp wit. And gets on Shaw’s nerves. How will Shaw cope with everything that needs to get done?

Grizzle & Bone by Gerhi Feuren is available to read here for free for two weeks. It is also available to purchase available to purchase on Amazon Kindle, Kobo, Smashwords, and other e-bookstores.


Grizzle & Bone

Shaw Peel slammed his ladle on the heavy kitchen table. “Would you believe that it is raining still?” he said.

“What do you expect?” said Crippen.

The windows were placed high on the basement wall but the outside was ground level. Above was only pale grey rain sky sifting down.

Shaw looked at the frogs throwing themselves repeatedly against the window. Poor buggers, trying to escape the dismal weather, he thought.

Shaw pointed at the dark corner. “You just shut up over there. I’ve got too much to do to have time for your nonsense.”

The kitchen was tiled from floor to ceiling in pristine white. Shaw had installed a set of bright down-lights that hung in two strips down the kitchen. He was assured that every corner of the kitchen would be evenly lit. The other corner where the boy sat well lit. He could not figure out how Crippen kept his corner dark.

“Yeah, like what?” said Crippen.

“Well, I have to finish making supper. And then I have to polish the silver, iron the tablecloth, set the table, wax the floor, take out the garbage, do the laundry, shake the mattress, engrave the place settings …”

The light in the corner worked and it was on. It was at full strength, but still, Crippen’s corner was dark. Because Crippen didn’t want to change in the light. “You’re already running late,” he said.

Shaw picked up a knife and pointed it at Crippen. “Shut up.”

Crippen hummed a tune under his breath.

Shaw turned around and added another log to the oven fire. The big pot was just beginning to steam. Then he leaned over and inspected the bowl of peeled potatoes.

“You done these ones good, Crippen? I don’t want any peelings.”

Crippen chuckled. “No peelings in the Peel’s supper.”

Shaw glared at the corner, but he could hardly make Crippen out in the dark. Maybe he could bend light?

In the cage on the other side of the kitchen the boy chortled.

“You’re not here to be amused,” said Shaw.

The boy turned around in his corner and looked at the wall. He said nothing.

Shaw took up the ladle and shook it at Crippen. “If you do not shut your face about my cooking I’m going to chuck you outside.”

“But it’s raining out,” said Crippen.

“I know it’s raining.”

“I’m a cat now; cats don’t like rain.”

“I don’t care if you’ve changed into a black pudding. I won’t be chucking you out to be nice about it, eh?”

Crippen turned his back on Shaw. His black fur disappearing in the dark corner.

Shaw flicked back and forth through his cookbook. He tried to whistle. To calm himself down. But he wasn’t calm. This was an important supper. Minky was bringing her boss home and he so wanted her to be proud of him, and to make her look good.

She could use the break, the poor old thing. Being forced to go out into that cruel world every day to earn a living. Just because you had to do the same thing that everybody did. All the people doing the same thing every day. What a sick world it was. He shook his head.

Shaw sighed, picked up a knife and started chopping a bunch of carrots.

“Meat first,” said Crippen.

“Yeaou,” said Shaw.

“What?”

Shaw shook his hand, hopping around the table. “You made me cut my finger off.”

“Do shake the blood around,” said Crippen, creeping out from the dark in the corner.

Shaw grabbed a corner of his apron and bundled his hand into the folds. Then he pressed his hand between his knees, a pained frown on his face.

Crippen crouched closer. “Let me see.”

Shaw came over slowly. He untangled his hand, held it out to Crippen.

“Aw, it is only the tip. You’ll live.”

“But you’ve made me cut my finger.”

Crippen licked his lips. “Can I have a taste?”

Shaw pulled his hand back between his knees. “No you can’t you conniving little scavenger..”

“Come on, just one little suckle.”

“No, don’t you touch me you bloodthirsty animal.”

“What, are you scared I might become more human?”

Shaw shrugged and wrapped his hand in a dish cloth. “More human I can stand. I don’t want you to be more you.”

Crippen skulked around the legs of the table.

Shaw studied the boy. His cheeks was rosy. “It seems what we have here is an opportunity for growth. Have you become a big boy? Because if you have maybe I can trust you here. You’ll have to do the peeling boy. I can’t do it now.”

The boy looked at Crippen. “Why can’t the cat do it? He did the potatoes.”

Crippen had jumped onto the high window sill. The first rays of the sun were just peering in as the grey clouds lifted slightly, dusting him in a golden glow. “I’m just a were-cat young man, a whole day before I’m able to chop again.”

Shaw awkwardly felt for the keys on his belt. They hung on his left side. And he only had his right hand free now. “Come boy, somebody needs to peel the rest of the vegetables.”

“I don’t wanna do it,” said the boy. “You can’t make me.”

Shaw opened the metal gate and pushed his right hand into the cage.

The boy squirmed into a corner.

Shaw bent over and stepped into the cage, right into the water bowl. He pulled his foot back and knocked the back of his head on the cage.

The boy started laughing.

Shaw grabbed him and pulled him out by the scruff. “Just the rest of the carrots,” he said. “A pumpkin and some cabbage. Then you’re done. Oh, and a leek and that bag of turnips and then some squirmquats and a furry speckleroot or two.”

Shaw smiled at Crippen as he dragged the boy across the floor. “Good thing the meat is not in the pot yet.”

Crippen dropped his head on his paws. “No need to gloat. Lucky break on your side and the meat will still be chewy.”

Shaw pushed the boy against the table and pointed at the chopping board with his wrapped hand. “The carrots.”

“There’s blood on the knife,” said the boy.

“Wipe it off.”

“I’ll give it a lick,” said Crippen.

“You stay where you are,” said Shaw.

Crippen yawned.

Slowly the boy began to cut the carrots.

He is clumsy, thought Shaw. The carrots won’t be like smooth golden pennies when the stew is done. “Cut straight you klutz,” he said.

“You are diminishing his self-esteem …” said Crippen.

“Poppycock.” said Shaw.

“He still has a growing mind.”

Shaw shrugged. “Easy boy, you have a lot of chopping to do, steady get the job done.”

The knife clicked slowly on the chopping board.

Shaw’s hand was smarting and he could feel the dishcloth getting damp with seeping blood. He walked to the basin and rinsed his finger under the cold tap.

The pot bubbled on the stove. The rain pattered again, lightly tapping on the window pane. The pain flowed away in the cold water.

It was peaceful here. Shaw felt that all was still going to end well.

Then it was too quiet.

Shaw turned his head as the boy rounded the table, swinging the knife awkwardly from behind.

He slapped the boy with the back of his left hand, leaving a bloody streak on his cheek.

The boy tumbled over and rolled into a ball, rattling the cage as he bumped against it.

Shaw stepped back, holding onto the sink, breathing deeply. “Now what was that for you ungrateful little simp?”

Crippen chuckled.

“We take you in, we feed you and this is how you want to repay us? Attacking me in my own kitchen, with my own knife?”

The boy stayed rolled up in a little ball, sobbing loudly.

“Is it because I asked you to chop a few vegetables?”

The boy said nothing.

“Come on, is it? You can tell me if that is what ruffled you, because it not such a big thing you know.” Shaw wiped his brow. “I can forgive you for that.”

The boy started to wail, loudly.

Shaw shook his head. “Come on. It is not that bad. Shut it now.”

The wails grew louder.

Shaw stepped forward and picked up the knife. “Come on boy, what is it?”

The boys lifted a tear-streaked face. “I don’t want to die.”

“Oh you are not going to die,” said Shaw.

The boy looked at the pot.

So did Shaw. I need to get the other vegetables in, before the potatoes are mush, he thought. Then he shrugged. “Okay, so you are going to die, but it is for a good stew.”

The boy started wailing again.

“Told you to put the meat in first,” said Crippen.

Shaw snapped his head around. “Shut it.”

Crippen looked up from the bloody water he was licking from the sink.

“Get away from there,” said Shaw.

“Tsk,” said Crippen and slunk back to the window sill.

Shaw turned to the boy. “Let’s get this over with then.”

The boy was gone, the kitchen door swinging slowly closed.

“Aw shoot,” said Shaw. “Not now.”

“He’s running now, the meat is going to be really chewy,” said Crippen, “if you catch him.”

Shaw started for the door and pointed at Crippen with the knife. “If I don’t get him you go in the pot.”

Crippen shrugged.

Shaw called up the stairs. “Boy?”

The kitchen was in the basement. And there was only one way out of the basement, up. But all the stairs creaked and he had heard nothing. It was a sharp turn to the stairs. Maybe the boy had rushed past them too fast and was now somewhere in the other half of the basement.

Shaw did not like the other half. His side was the kitchen. It was safe and warm in there. Just as he liked it.

But the other half was Minky’s. And it was cold and damp. And she had cobwebs. Come on, who still had cobwebs? They were so … last season.

She said she liked the atmosphere so Shaw let her. But still? Cobwebs?

Shaw pushed lightly on the heavy black door. “Boy?”

Something scratched inside.

The boy, or a rat. Could be a rat, thought Shaw. Just like Minky to bring in a rat as well. And Crippen would let her, useless pest control he was.

But then again, she had it hard. Going out every day, into that bright, cold world. Doing that nine-to-five thing, just so they could keep up appearances. Insidious appearances.

Peel pushed the door halfway open. Minky’s room lay gloomily on the other side. He really didn’t want to go in there. Minky dabbled in some nasty stuff. Filing for instance. She filed stuff. Ugh.

He shivered. “Boy?”

There was a sharp tap behind him. “Shaw Peel?”

Minky stood on the stairs. Every one of them creaked, but Minky could still get up and down them without making a sound. She had her hands on her hips. “What are you doing in my room, Shaw Peel?”

“Nothing,” said Shaw.

Minky stepped down the steps, her hips whispering seductively in the black silk skirt. “Dinner going well?”

Shaw rubbed his hands together. “Yes,” he said, “making stew.”

Minky stepped over and pecked him on the cheek. “We’ll be here just after six.”

“Right.”

Something scraped behind Shaw.

He stiffened.

“Just a moment,” said Minky. She stepped in close to him again and licked his other cheek. “There, just a little blood.”

Shaw breathed again.

Minky slapped him lightly on the chest. “And I thought you were a fastidious chef?”

“He struggled a bit,” said Shaw.

“Just as long as the meat is not chewy,” said Minky. “You know how it gets stuck in my teeth. And Mister Button has dentures I believe.”

“No,” said Shaw, nodding his head. “The meat will be tender dear, don’t you worry your pretty bun a bit.”

“Toodle-oo then,” said Minky. “Back to your kitchen.”

Shaw walked slowly over to the kitchen door. Minky stood on the top stair, waiting. Watching him open the door and enter.

Shaw leaned against the door from the kitchen’s side. He listened intently, for any sound of someone coming down, or going up the stairs.

That nuisance boy better stay put till Minky was gone. Cat stew is no good, thought Shaw.

Shaw counted to ten and then pushed the kitchen door open again. It sounded quiet upstairs. But that meant nothing. Minky could move like a ghost.

He watched her door. One minute, then he’d go in there and get him. Time dragged by too slowly, but Shaw waited more than a minute before he ventured across.

He pulled the door open fast and stepped inside, his back pressed against the heavy ironwood. Shaw glanced slowly across the gloomy room. A whole lot of places to hide here. Minky might file but she was not tidy.

All four walls were filled of with odd pieces of furniture, ornate shelving and sturdy filing cabinets. And every available surface was packed with ornaments and dust and cobwebs.

Shaw shook his head. She even had a candelabra with nine lit fortnight candles standing on top of a stack of books and what looked like a petrified sandwich. The girl had no sense for good housekeeping.

“I know you’re in here boy, no need to delay the inevitable,” said Shaw.

“Do you want to play Hot and Cold?” said Crippen, lying dead still on the window sill.

“I don’t need your help,” said Shaw as he stepped around the the room, moving slowly in behind the large desk on the right side of the room.

“You were a nudge warmer just now,” said Crippen.

Shaw leaned over slowly looking into the dark dugout under the desk.

“Getting a tad colder,” said Crippen.

Shaw stopped. Crippen was beginning to annoy him. He clenched a fist and shook it at Crippen. Shut up, he mouthed.

Crippen rolled his eyes.

Shaw stepped behind the desk and peered in between two filing cabinets.

Crippen gave a deep sigh.

Shaw shook himself. “What is it?”

“Ice cold,” said Crippen.

“I don’t—”

A chest lid across the room dropped shut with a loud bang and Shaw jumped round. A little chubby figure was making for the door.

“Oh no you don’t,” said Shaw rushing over.

Shaw’s left foot grazed a crystal ball. He put out his left hand to steady himself against the desk. As his wrapped hand bumped the desk a shudder shot up his arm.

He pulled back the other way and got a face full of cobwebs. Shaw tore wildly at his head. His elbow knocked the candelabra.

The nine lit candles toppled onto the desk.

A stack of yet to be filed papers on the desk burst into green flames.

Shaw threw the bundle of cobwebs on the floor and stomped on it, breathing deeply. Then he saw the flames.

The boy stopped at the door. He turned around, his eyes wide, his jaw slack, as he watched the flames. Mesmerized he slowly walked back to the center of the room. “Wow,” he said.

Idiot, thought Shaw, as he crept in between the boy and the door.

“You get him fluffy,” said Crippen.

The boy snapped out of his daze and his eye caught Shaw’s.

“Ha,” said Shaw.

The boy feigned left and Shaw moved with him. Then he feigned right and Shaw followed. Then the boy did a quick left-right and jumped left for the dugout under the desk.

Shaw rushed at him but missed, banging into the portrait of Minky’s aunt Gretel, beside the door.

As Shaw turned around the room was all in a blaze. The desk crackled as the top turned black. There was no way he was going to dig the boy out of that. “Crippen?” he said.

“Way ahead of you dumb-ass.”

Shaw grabbed the picture of aunt Gretel and stepped out, slamming the door behind him. Minky is going to be miffed, he thought.

The basement roof was vaulted stone. The fire would burn itself out, eventually.

***

“This meat is really scrumptious,” said Mister Button, wiping the grease from his chin. He held up his plate. “If you do not think it presumptuous of me, could I have a third helping?”

Crippen pulled a toothpick out of his mouth and stuck it in the top pocket of his blazer. “Maybe you should ask for the recipe,” he said.

Shaw lifted his eyebrows and glared at Crippen.

“Oh I wouldn’t dare,” said Mister Button. “Probably an old family recipe, right?”

“Yes sir,” said Shaw.

“You certainly have outdone yourself tonight Shaw my darling.” said Minky. “You have done … something different?”

“Whatever it is, delicious,” said Mister Button, “tender with just that nice crackling. I can’t say I have tasted anything like it before. Might I be so bold as at least to ask what kind of meat you used?”

“Cat,” said Crippen.

Mister Button’s eyes drew wide. “Surely not,” he said.

“No, of course not,” said Shaw. “Crippen here just likes to make cruel jokes. Enough of that now, Crippen.”

“Did you smoke the meat?” said Minky.

Shaw lifted a basket on the table. “Bread anyone?”

“Oh, I won’t impose any further,” said Mister Button. “Clearly a long and deep family tradition you have. Every family is entitled to some secrets.”

Shaw turned to Mister Button. “Would you like to crack a bone for the marrow sir?”

Mister Button gave a greasy nod.

He took the bone by the knuckle end and pointed at a painting of a portly woman in grey, leaning against the fireplace. “Did you get your love of food from your mother, Mister Peel?”

“Oh no, that’s not my mother’s painting sir. That’s Minky’s aunt Gretel.”

“Lovely woman,” said Mister Button.

Minky smiled stiffly and turned to Shaw. “Remind me again darling, why is Aunt Gretel’s portrait in the dining room?”

Shaw filled Minky’s plate from the pot. “Eat up dear. You’ll never taste the likes of this again.”

“No, you won’t,” said Crippen.


© 2014 Gerhi Feuren Copyright Reserved

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Fortnightly Free Fiction: Clywick’s ReMembering

by Gerhi Feuren on 26 March 2014

Clywick's ReMembering coverWhat if you did not win a boatload of cash, but rather a total body make-over in the lotto? But not just an external make-over but a total re-sequencing of your genetic material?

Of course this type of treatment would be horrifically expensive. Which is why the lottery makes sense. To give everybody a fighting chance. But what if some of the results of the genetic re-sequencing is unpredictable, very much a question of chance, like uhm … playing the lotto?

In the short science fiction story Clywick’s ReMembering an ordinary handyman wins the lotto and gets a whole lot more than what he bargained for.

Clywick’s ReMembering by Gerhi Feuren was available to read here for free for two weeks. It is also available to purchase on Amazon Kindle, Smashwords, Lelivro, Barnes & Noble NOOK, and other e-bookstores.

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Thinking creatively is a dead end goal

by Gerhi Feuren on 23 March 2014

I never go far enough. Not that I cannot think way out there. But thinking creatively is the easy part.

When I say ‘think creatively’ I cringe. Because thinking is where it stops. Even for me. But thinking is not doing.

I never go far enough because I never even attempt what I think to do.

I can plan with the best of them but planning is doing in a misguided way. It is half doing that still needs execution. And execution takes more than just a want. It takes a will.

There are boxes full of good plans in my garage. Not because I have relegated them to the garage as a forgotten space but because my garage is also my workspace.

Although calling it a workspace is not quite right. It is a space but I do not do much work there. The weight of unfinished plans weigh too heavily on me.

How far is far enough then?

Firstly, right to the end. To finish something. No, I do not think that just getting to the end of something is far enough. But it is the beginning of getting anywhere.

There is a proverb that says that a task finished is better than one just begun.

It is a truth I forget. No, not forget, contradict. For me a task just begun is what motivates me on to do anything new. But if everything you have is new, except old ideas, what do you have?

It is time to finish stuff. Even if the finishing is just to close the book on a project because it is no longer what I want. To archive it for good. Recycle if possible. Discard if necessary. Destroy if toxic.

I never go far enough because I have too many ways to go.

Will I go far enough this time?

Maybe only if I do not plan it. Because the plan can be abandoned and boxed up and added to the pile. Without a plan I can only keep moving forward slowly in the dark. Or stay still in the dark, in the garage.

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Once upon a time in the soup kitchen: take one

by Gerhi Feuren on 20 March 2014

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Fortnightly Free Fiction: Stupid Fishes

by Gerhi Feuren on 12 March 2014

Stupid Fishes cover

There are nothing social about a book club outing when you are left alone, locked up in an aquarium

What do you do when you are locked in? Do you panic or do you make the best of the situation?

When Alma Limebury gets locked into the aquarium she is stuck making friends with the only other person around. The only problem is that Alma is not a very sociable person at the best of times.

The fish out of water in Stupid Fishes is Alma Limebury. She is the member of a book club, though from her attitude you might wonder why she bothers to be a member.

Stupid Fishes by Gerhi Feuren was available to read here for free for two weeks. It is also available to purchase on Amazon Kindle, Smashwords, Lelivro, Barnes & Noble, and other e-bookstores.

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The Deep Shudder #003

by Gerhi Feuren on 11 March 2014

The Deeper Shudder badge

Human Stuff: Part One


On the Southern continent of Brasque vast tracks of forest lay unexplored. Human feet may have been there before, and may walk there again at some point in the future. But at present it is ruled by antelopes such as the three horned tregeet. And the large whiskered bears. And rock tigers and green river snakes.

Twenty three years ago a geological expedition ventured into the deep forests of Brasque and disappeared like a leaking ship in a tempest.

A tregeet cow and young calf, startled from their grazing, ran to the side of a clearing and disappeared into the verdant undergrowth. At first it is not clear what startled them.

Until a rusty shovel, the handle rotten away more than a decade ago, cut across the grass. Moved by no hand it dug a shallow trench as it scraped across the ground, until it met a pick axe head with a metallic clang.

For a moment the two pieces of rusty iron lay side by side, not moving. Then , as if it had been given life, they struggled upright like a pair of deformed legs, and hobbled into the dark of the forest.


© Copyright Gerhi Feuren

The Great Shudder: Human Stuff is the beginning of a new fiction serial. You can read more about it here. If you have comments, story suggestions or questions please leave them below. Also, please consider making a donation (bottom right sidebar) if you have enjoyed reading my free fiction.

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