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Learn A Word in 100 Words

 

 

Learn a Word in 100 Words

By Patricia Josephine

 

Copyright 2017 by Patricia Josephine (Patricia Lynne)

All rights reserved

 

Distributed by Shakespir

 

Cover design by: Patricia Lynne

 

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to Shakespir.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

 

This is a work of fiction. Any names, characters, places or incidents are products of the author’s imagination, and used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

 

 

 

 

 

Other books by Patricia Josephine

Abducted Life

Michael: Path of Angels Book 1

Zadekiel: Path of Angels Book 2

Jophiel: Path of Angels Book 3

Gabriel: Path of Angels Book 4

 

 

 

Young Adult under pen name Patricia Lynne

Being Human

Snapshots

Influence of Love

 

 

 

 

 

Dedicated to Tui Snider

Thanks for helping me discover the book I didn’t know I had written.

 

 

 

Acknowledgements:

 

Thanks to my editor, all my beta readers, and cheerleaders. My writing wouldn’t shine as brightly without your help. A big thanks to Jocelyn Rish, Nick Wilford, and StoryDam.com for the words that prompted these little tales. Thanks to all my readers, the ones who read my ramblings on my blog, and the ones who read this collection.

 

 

 

 

 

Author’s Note:

 

My enjoyment of drabbles and writing them began during the A to Z Blogging Challenge. With so many participants, short posts were vital as they drew more people. The challenge of writing a complete story in 100 words or less forced me to consider each word I chose carefully. To make things trickier, I chose unique and unusual words we don’t hear or use often as prompts for my short tales.

After the challenge was over, I kept finding myself coming back to drabbles. I even created a Friday specific post on my blog for the short fiction. Encouraged by friends, I compiled them into this book and added ten new ones. Read them while waiting in line at the bank or grocery store, or sitting at the doctor’s office.

The stories are broken down by theme and with a little intro of my thoughts. Most drabbles are stand alones, but a couple connect to tell a larger tale. Also, a few words had multiple definitions. I kept the definition that pertained to the plot.

I hope you enjoy my little tales, and through them, expand your vocabulary.

 

 

 

 

 

Table of Contents

 

Chapter 1: Fan Fiction

Chapter 2: Writing and Books

Chapter 3: Video Games

Chapter 4: Government

Chapter 5: Paranormal

Chapter 6: Fantasy

Chapter 7: Science Fiction

Chapter 8: Contemporary

Chapter 9: Weather

Chapter 10: Crime

Chapter 11: Food and Drink

Chapter 12: Animals

About the Author

 

 

 

 

 

Drabble: a short work of fiction no more than one hundred words in length.

The purpose of the drabble is brevity, testing the author’s ability to express interesting and meaningful ideas in a confined space. (via Wikipedia)

 

 

 

 

 

Fan Fiction

The stories you will find below are inspired by books, movies, and TV. I noted the inspiration so you’ll know the world you’re dipping into.

 

 

Haptic

(Inspired by my NA series, Path of Angels)

1: relating to or based on the sense of touch

2: characterized by a predilection for the sense of touch

 

Joe’s feet left the floor and he crashed into a shelf, books falling. Dizziness made him unsteady as he stood. He shook the feeling away and glanced around. Where was he this time? It wasn’t easy to tell when in the past his haptic ability sent him.

A fire illuminated a quaint living room. In the corner, a man hunched over a table, examining a glass orb––the same one Joe held. He looked at the object, sighing heavily. This better not last long. He had more important things to do than watch past events unfold.

 

 

 

Glom

(Inspired by the anime Martian Successor Nadesico)

1: to grab hold of

 

“Akito!”

Akito braced himself as the whirlwind raced toward him. He stumbled as the tiny girl glommed onto him, smacking into the refrigerator. Magnets rained to the floor.

He gave the girl an awkward pat on the head. “Hi, Yurika.”

Yurika squeezed him harder. “I missed you sooooooo much, Akito.”

Akito rolled his eyes. His cousin was watching anime again. The colorful characters made an impression on her easily molded mind. Time to talk to his aunt again before his cousin roped her friends into acting her favorite scenes and he found himself with a harem of five-year-old girls.

 

 

 

Facetious

(Inspired by my YA novel, Being Human)

1: joking or jesting, often inappropriately

2: meant to be humorous or funny

 

My brother’s eyebrows waggled, a grin filling his face. His laughter was barely contained.

I stared at him, tilting my head. “I don’t get it. Why is walking into a bar and saying ‘Ow’ funny?”

The smile fell from my brother’s face. “I give up. I admit defeat. You will never grasp the concept of humor.”

“I understand it when you explain it to me,” I replied.

“Then what’s the point of telling you a joke?”

I looked from my brother to his wife, Rissa. Chuckling, she rose and squeezed his shoulder. “Vampires are not facetious creatures.”

 

 

 

Bilbo

(Inspired by my NA series, Path of Angels)

1: a sword, especially one having a well-tempered blade

 

Warmth surrounded Michael, filling him with peace. Memories of his past lives in Heaven flooded his thoughts. A lump formed, but he forced it down.

“What do you want of me, Father?”

“I have a gift to help you on your path.”

A bilbo appeared, flames dancing along the blade. Michael took the weapon. The hilt molded to his palm.

“It will listen only to your summon. Use it to strike down your foes.”

Michael nodded. The warmth of his Father vanished. His brothers stood before him, waiting. He called his weapon. “We have Fallen to find.”

 

 

 

Conclave

(Inspired by the Assassin’s Creed games)

1: a private meeting or secret assembly; especially

2: a meeting of Roman Catholic cardinals secluded continuously while choosing a pope

3: a gathering of a group or association

 

Ezio slipped behind the tapestry, and headed down the steps to the conclave. In three days, the Templars would be leaving for Venice. Now was the perfect opportunity for the Assassins to reclaim Codex.

Heat burned through Ezio’s veins. He and his men had been ambushed as they returned with it, weary from their journey. Many died, and he barely made it out alive. Later, he learned they had been betrayed.

Raphael would pay dearly.

But revenge had to wait. First, he must meet reclaim the Codex and free Florence of Templar rule. Only then could he seek retribution.

 

 

 

Terra firma

(Inspired by my NA novel, Abducted Life)

1: dry and solid ground as compared to air or water

 

Savannah stood before a large window. A vast expanse of stars spread before her. In the distance, the Earth hung like a green and blue marble. Orbiting terra firma was the moon. Savannah felt a flicker of warmth, but it was dull and easily ignored.

“Wow,” she breathed. “So, this is a spaceship and,” she turned to the woman, taking in the pointed ears, and candy red hair. She didn’t have teeth, only brown bristles like on a whale, “you’re an alien.”

“To me, you are the alien, but yes.” The woman joined Savannah. Both stared at the tiny planet.

 

 

 

Axenic

(Inspired by my YA novel, Snapshots)

1: (of an experimental animal) raised under sterile conditions; germ free

2: (of a laboratory culture) uncontaminated.

 

Excitement electrified the air as the scientist set his tools down. This time he would have success. He had taken every precaution. A healthy host. A sterile environment.

Before him, the woman stirred and moaned softly, the cocktail of sedatives he slipped into her drink wearing off. He quickly adjusted her maid uniform, smoothing the stiff fabric back over her legs. A smile spread across his face as he placed his hand on her stomach. In nine month’s time, the axenic specimen would be born.

Then his experiments could start.

 

 

 

Homunculus

(Inspired by the anime Full Metal Alchemist)

1: a little man

2: a miniature adult that in the theory of preformation is held to inhabit the germ cell and to produce a mature individual merely by an increase in size

 

“Isn’t she cute?”

Ed glanced at his sister, trying to keep his face passive. Yeah, if by cute Winry really meant ugly. He watched the homunculus crawl across the pink blanket. Its skin was pale and wrinkled, and there wasn’t a strand of hair on its body, not even eyebrows. Its breath rasped in its lungs as if it was congested. A glob of drool ran down its chin.

“Win, what were you thinking? This thing won’t replace what you lost.”

Tears instantly pooled in Winry’s eyes. She grabbed the thing, clutching it to her chest. “Yes, she will!”

 

 

 

Metopic

(Inspired by the novel, No Angel by Daniel A. Kaine)

1: of or relating to the forehead.

 

Sam stared at his reflection. His heart pounded against his ribs and sweat trickled down his spine. Hand trembling, he pushed his hair aside to inspect. The two metopic bumps looked bigger than yesterday.

What was he going to do? How would he hide them from his father?

Oh, God.

It was all over the news. People were sprouting horn-like protrusions. Devil’s Syndrome they called it, and it was creating a panic.

The sound of footsteps made Sam jump. His gaze darted to the bathroom door, ensuring it was locked. He turned back to the mirror. Time was running out.

 

 

 

Millefleur

(Inspired by the Marvel universe)

1: having an allover pattern of small flowers and plants

 

Mina’s heels clicked on the cement floor as she strode down the hallway. Her gaze was locked on the door at the far end, but her thoughts were behind her, in the room with the man who insulted her millefleur dress. Fury almost turned her around, storming back and unleashing her wrath.

She kept walking. Director Hill would regret his words, but not when he knew he had stoked her anger. He would expect it. No, she would bide her time, like a lioness closing in on her prey. A smile quirked her lips.

“Hail Hydra,” she whispered.

 

 

 

Petrous

(Inspired by Doctor Who)

1: of, relating to, or resembling rock, especially in hardness; stony

2: of or relating to the very dense, hard portion of the temporal bone that forms a protective case for the inner ear

 

Laura’s eyes ached from holding them open. Carefully, she closed one then the other, but the relief was fleeting. She pressed against the wall as if that would make a door open and allow her to escape the petrous creature trapping her.

AHA!” A voice yelled from out of sight.

Laura almost looked away from the Weeping Angel. “Doctor? What are you doing?”

There was a crash, and a man stumbled into view. He grinned impishly, holding up a child’s mask. “This should do.”

Again, Laura almost broke eye contact. “A mask? Are you kidding?”

“I don’t kid. Trust me.”

 

 

 

 

 

Writing and Books

One of the trickiest scenes to write is having a character that is, themself, a writer, and is working on a book. A book inside a book: INCEPTION!

 

 

Ex-libris

1: from the library of (a phrase inscribed in or on a book before the name of the owner)

2: an inscription in or on a book, to indicate the owner; bookplate

 

“Mommy, will you read us a story?” Teddy snuggled under his blanket, clutching Lil Ted, the handmade doll Feel Better Friends made for the sick child, to his chest.

A smile quirked Claire’s lips. “You want something ex-libris Teddy O’Neil or a library book?”

“Me!” Teddy declared with a lopsided smile.

Claire went to the bookshelf. “How about…” She plucked a notepad out, the cover tattered and the pages worn. “To the Stars!?” Teddy nodded. She returned to him. The little boy arranged his doll before lying down. Her son ready, Claire began reading. “Once upon a time…”

 

 

 

Tsundoku

1: the constant act of buying books but never reading them so that they pile up in one’s room

 

The path was narrow, weaving through the piles of books that were stacked to the living room’s ceiling. Sandra’s elbow grazed a tottering tower, and a hardback toppled down. She threw her hands up to shield her head. The book bounced off her arm and landed on the floor, opened to chapter three.

Rubbing the pain away, Sandra made her way to the kitchen. She slumped onto a chair, knocking over a stack of books on the floor. A sigh broke free. Her tsundoku was out of control. She had to start reading and donate the books to the library.

 

 

 

Lambaste

1: to criticize (someone or something) very harshly

2: to assault violently; beat, whip

3: to attack verbally; censure

 

Antony’s hands shook, making it hard to read the words printed on the newspaper. He threw it down, grinding his teeth. A talentless hack! First graders could write better than he! Who did this critic think she was? Who gave her the right to lambaste him?

Snarling like a dog, Antony paced the room. His writing cabin was nestled in the woods, miles from people and distractions. The only contact he had was the newspaper, delivered by his brother.

And a perfect place to hide a body.

Antony grinned. He knew what to do. He was a writer after all.

 

 

 

Perfervid

1: extremely or extravagantly eager; impassioned or zealous

 

A rectangular package sitting in the mailbox made the librarian’s heart jump. The book she and her patrons had been waiting for had finally arrived. But the envelope sitting on top of the box bearing a familiar name froze her. Hands trembling, she opened it.

This book contains subject material not suited…

be removed immediately.

The enclosed petition…

If no action is taken, expect a call from my lawyer.

I WILL FIGHT AND WIN!

Why did he insist? He never set foot in the library. Yet, like clockwork, a perfervid letter demanding it be banned accompanied each new book.

 

 

 

Indite

1: make up, compose; to give literary or formal expression to; to put down in writing

2: obsolete; dictate

 

Lauren crumpled the paper and chucked it at the trash bin. It bounced off the rim and rolled under the couch. She huffed, blowing a lock of auburn hair out of her eyes.

Why couldn’t she indite a simple college essay?

She was a writer after all, with her first book published by an independent press three years ago––their youngest author––and several since. Words had always flowed out of her like a river. Closing her eyes, she posed the pen over the paper. All she had to do was listen to her muse.

 

 

 

Cunctation

1: procrastination; delay

 

Eddie’s finger hovers over the mouse. One click is all it will take, but he hesitates. Uncertainty churns in his brain like a volatile storm.

What if they reject his story? His baby?

Eddie may go insane waiting for the answer. Submission guidelines state at least six weeks. And he’s not even guaranteed to receive one! He needs to just do it. Quick like a Band-Aid.

A chiming noise draws his attention. Someone has mentioned him on Facebook. Cunctation is every writer’s bane, but he eagerly embraces it this time. Anything to avoid the sting of possible rejection.

 

 

 

Jeu d’esprit

1: a work of light playfulness or wit, especially in literature

 

Samantha snorted, then busted out laughing. She clutched her sides, pushing away from the keyboard. This jeu d’esprit was killing her. She got up and paced her apartment until the fit of giggles passed.

It lasted about five minutes.

Samantha decided to take a break. She turned on Twitter and scrolled through it. Before she knew it, a half hour had passed. Oops. She worked diligently for the next hour. Finally, she closed the laptop for the night. Errr… morning. Birds chirped as she curled up in bed. Her eyes fluttered closed, but still her characters whispered to her.

 

 

 

Zarf

1: a chalice-like holder for a hot coffee cup, typically made of ornamented metal, used in the Middle East

 

Zack’s fingers sat motionless on the keyboard. He stared blankly at the computer screen. Where were the words? Picking at the keys, he typed a few words, but deleted them. Rubbish. A glance at the clock told him hours had passed.

Maybe today wasn’t his day. But he didn’t want to give up. Writing daily was important. He had skills to hone if he was ever going to become a best-selling novelist.

Muscles groaned as he pushed to his feet. Grabbing his favorite zarf, he poured himself a cup of coffee. Maybe that would coax out his muse.

 

 

 

Jabberwocky

1: meaningless speech or writing

 

Papers were stacked on every surface, shoved into nooks and crannies, and scattered across the floor. Sandra sealed another box and hauled it into the hallway. The walking space was rapidly shrinking, stacked with boxes of her late father’s writing.

A lump filled her throat, tears blurring her vision. His death shouldn’t shock her. Her mother’s abandonment had broken him. His hours were spent writing jabberwocky while she waited patiently for the last string holding him to this world to snap.

She drew a breath, composing herself. Her father was finally free; she would celebrate that, not mourn his downfall.

 

 

 

 

 

Video Games

Writing these made me want to break out my old Nintendo or PlayStation 1 and relive some of my childhood.

 

 

Tendentious

1: marked by a tendency in favor of a particular point of view

2: biased

 

Jason’s blood boiled, his fists clenched at his sides. Each breath shook his body. He struggled to rein his emotions in. It wasn’t worth the fight. He knew he wasn’t being tendentious.

Call of Duty was the best game.

“You know what, Judy,” he hissed. “I think it’s time for you to leave.”

Judy’s mouth popped open. “Are you kidding me? All I said was Battlefield was the better game.” She whirled on her heels and stormed to the door. The malice in her glare would have incinerated lesser men than Jason.

He met the glare. “Don’t come back either!”

 

 

 

Jejune

1: naive and simplistic

2: (of ideas or writings) dull

 

The gameplay was jejune. Halfway through, I was bored. I pressed on, slogging through cut scene after cut scene. Finally, I was at the end boss. The fight was over in five minutes and the credits rolled. That was the most interesting part: watching all the people involved. I felt bad for them. Their names were on this mediocre game.

Turning off the console, I opened my laptop. Now, I really felt bad for them. I was going to lambast them in my review. But they sent me a copy for my honest opinion and I would give it.

 

 

 

Carpe diem

1: the enjoyment of the pleasures of the moment without concern for the future

 

Sweat beaded across Brian’s brow, his heart hammering. He let out a slow breath, gun ready.

The first zombie went down. Right between the eyes! He aimed again. Bulls-eye. Literally. The second zombie fell, black oozing from its eye socket. Brian enjoyed the carpe diem as he reloaded.

Stepping into a store, he searched for supplies, but found none. Already looted. Dammit.

From the shadows, a zombie lurched at him. The gun flew from his grip and teeth sank into his neck. He tried to fight, but the TV screen went black.

Brian threw his controller down. “Stupid game cheats.”

 

 

 

Vaporware

1: a computer-related product that has been widely advertised but has not and may never become available

 

For years, the hype had been building. The sequel to the hit game, Nuke ‘Em, Big Duke!, was the most anticipated release for the past decade. Rumors that the game was nothing more than vaporware were abundant.

Finally, it was here. Gamers lined up days in advance. First day’s sales easily passed its predecessor.

Then the reviews started. Cries of outrage echoed across the blogosphere. What was this? Why did the developers do that? The publisher pulled the title as fast as possible, hoping once it was off the shelves, the anger would die down. But the Internet never forgets.

 

 

 

 

 

Government

Reading through these stories made me wonder about my own perception of government. Apparently, I don’t have much faith in elected officials!

 

 

Mugwump

1: a person who is independent (as in politics) or who remains undecided or neutral

 

Sweat trickled down Terry’s back and his knees quaked. The crowd watched silently, waiting for his words.

His whole life was spent as a mugwump, never contributing an opinion. Then one day, he opened his mouth, challenged the lies the leader was spewing. Mutiny ensued. When the smoke cleared, he was lifted up as the true prophet.

“I-I-I come to you to, uh, preach… truth?”

The crowd’s cheers lifted him out of uncertainty. He raised his arms, soaking in the adoration. These sheep would be easy to herd. A few lies and they’d be eating out of his hand.

 

 

 

Rapprochement

1: an establishment or reestablishment of harmonious relations

 

The two leaders stepped up to the podium. A cheer rose as the man and woman embraced. They turned to the crowd and waved. It was a day long in the making. Rapprochement that took twenty long years and a bloody war.

Celebration was in full swing. Confetti rained down, voices shouted with joy, people danced in the streets. Two women stood among the revelry. They held sparklers.

“It’s all going well,” one said.

“Quite.” The other smiled. “Shall we?”

Linking arms, they headed away from the crowd. Behind them a bomb went off. Screams filled the air.

 

 

 

Oriflamme

1: a banner, symbol, or ideal inspiring devotion or courage

 

A roaring lion was painted on the brick wall of the one hundred year old hotel. Police officer Anderson looked at the animal. His colleagues said it was graffiti, a mischievous vandal. They had more important crimes to solve, like murder and theft.

This was the sixth painting found, though. Anderson knew it meant something. Since the appearance of the oriflamme, chaos had reigned over the city. Rallies were organized, often escalating into riots. The people were growing bold, empowered by the symbol.

Anderson strode down the street. A smile lifted his lips. Rebellion would happen. He was ensuring it.

 

 

 

Neophyte

1: a new convert

 

Drums beat and feet stomped in rhythm around the bonfire. Hands swayed back and forth as voices rose, electrifying the air. The figures froze when the song reached its climax. Silence fell. All eyes turned toward the tribe’s leader.

The fire illuminated his wrinkled face. His words were soft, almost inaudible over the crackling flames. When he finished he turned to the neophyte, holding out his hand.

“Do you accept?”

She nodded, head held high. The tribe converged on her, lifted her up and tossed her into the fire. Their cries of joy mingled with her screams of pain.

 

 

 

Revanche

1: the act of retaliating; revenge

2: a usually political policy, as of a nation or an ethnic group, intended to regain lost territory or standing

 

“He is good,” Byron murmured.

Jan nodded in agreement. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone work a crowd into such a frenzy.”

Around them the crowd cheered and hollered, fists raised towards the man standing on the statue of the current president. His voice rang strong and loud, carrying across the gathering. Jan and Byron didn’t pay his words any heed. They didn’t care what he said as long as he got the crowd incised. Soon they would riot and the current regime would fall.

They would have their revanche against their brother for betraying them.

 

 

 

Lèse-majestié

1: a crime (as treason) committed against a sovereign power

2: an offense violating the dignity of a ruler as the representative of a sovereign power

3: a detraction from or affront to dignity or importance

 

Drums played a somber march as the prisoner walked up to the noose. The crowd below watched with awe. His lèse-majesté had shocked them. At first, they denied it. He was too noble to commit such an act. He must be innocent. But the evidence was damning, written by his own hand.

He stood straight as the rope went around his neck. The crowd turned silent. Usually, they would be cheering as justice was served.

The door beneath his feet opened and he fell, halting as the rope went taunt. Heads bowed, and they were left to wonder. Now what?

 

 

 

Déclassé

1: low or lowered in class, rank, or social position; characteristic of lower classes; of low social status

 

The crowd gathered in the town square. They yelled and shouted, demanding the mayor show himself. A rock flew through the air and crashed into the window of city hall. Others took cue, and the air was filled with flying objects.

Mayor Gilbert watched the monitor on his desk of the scene outside. He gave the déclassé masses minutes before riots broke out. Then he could dispatch the police.

“Sir?”

He turned to his secretary. “Everything ready?”

The blonde woman nodded. “The men are in place. They know what to do.”

Mayor Gilbert smiled. This city was his.

 

 

 

Ultra vires

1: beyond the scope of in excess of legal power or authority

 

“Sir, you can’t!”

“Just watch me!”

President Victor threw the switch on the console. Lights flashed, and an alarm blared throughout the factory. A tremor shook the ground beneath him. The overweight manager fled the room, but the president paid him no mind. He didn’t care if he stood alone. He had to make right the mistakes his predecessor made. Each law that was a horrible ultra vires had to be undone. His people would no longer suffer. He would see to it.

A crack ran along the floor, between his feet.

Or die trying.

 

 

 

Compos mentis

1: of sound mind, memory, and understanding

 

Harry stood before the window, watching the sun sink below the horizon. Red splashed across the sky like blood. He gnawed his lip, his thoughts heavy.

His critics would say he wasn’t compos mentis when he declared the peace with their neighbors to the north was over. But for months, people had been disappearing, and goods and supplies were stolen at the border. When classified documents went missing, all signs pointed to an act of terrorism. Harry had no choice but to wage war. Now, thousands had died as a result of his choice.

Had he made the right decision?

 

 

 

 

 

Paranormal

If you know me, then you’ll probably be surprised at the lack of vampires in this section. It sure shocked me!

 

 

Glyph

1: architecture; a vertical groove, especially in a Doric column or frieze

2: a symbolic figure that is usually engraved or incised

3: a symbol, such as a stylized figure or arrow on a public sign that imparts information nonverbally

 

“Nice ink.”

Micah smiled tensely at the youth. Why didn’t he cover his skin? The constant stares, compliments, and occasional insults his glyphs caused were tiring. The misconception that the symbols were nothing more than tattoos was infuriating.

Sometimes, Micah wondered why he lived among humans.

They weren’t too smart and spent so much time staring at their devices. But they had their moments. Their compassion was breathtaking––something his own kind lacked––and their artistic expression was inspiring.

“Great tats. Where did you get them done?” a young man asked.

Micah chuckled. “You wouldn’t believe me if I said.”

 

 

 

Marcid

1: withered, wasted, decayed, rotten

 

Sally grunted as she shoved the heavy door closed. She snapped the padlock locks, doubled checking each one. Finished, she laid her hand against the coarse wood.

“You behave tonight, Eddy, and I’ll see you tomorrow,” she paused. “Love you.”

A snarl on the other side replied.

Sally sighed and headed to the marcid house. She barricaded the door then went upstairs, jumping over the gaps. At the top, she stepped over tin cans strung across. Her toe caught one, and they clattered softly. She froze, listening, but the night was silent. Even zombies needed sleep it seemed.

 

 

 

Pratfall

1: a fall on the buttocks; a humiliating mishap or blunder

 

River tumbled to the floor with a grunt. Laughter rose, his classmates mocking his pratfall. He picked himself up and dusted his pants off. Head held high, he continued to his class as if nothing had happened.

He slumped into his chair. The ridicule continued to taunt him. Anger began to simmer in his veins. He buried his face in his arms, forcing slow breaths. The heat building cooled, and he sat up.

Close call. He couldn’t let his emotions get to him. If he wished to stay in school, he had to keep the wolf inside contained.

 

 

 

Zoanthropy

1: a mental disorder in which one believes oneself to be an animal

 

Garret gathered Mona into his arms. His lips sought out hers and she moaned softly. They shed their clothing, letting passion guide them. Later, they lay in each other’s arms in front of the crackling fire. He stroked Mona’s ebony hair.

Should he reveal his secret? They had been courting for months, getting to know each other before tonight’s intimacy. But there was one thing holding Garret back: he wasn’t human. His zoanthropy had been the end of many relationships. Maybe Mona would be different.

Garret let out a shaky breath. Or she could be like all the others.

 

 

 

Incipient

1: in an initial stage; beginning to happen or develop

2: (of a person) developing into a specified type or role

 

The paper floated gently in the chemicals. I carefully prodded it with some tongs, as if that would make the process go faster. Incipiently, the image formed. My heart crawled up my throat as I watched the white turn into swirling colors and a figure took shape. Hands shaking, I lifted the photograph out of the chemicals. I could barely believe my eyes.

For months, I caught glimpses of a figure in the corner of my eye. No one believed me. They laughed and said it was my imagination. Here was my proof. My worst nightmare was real.

 

 

 

Aphthong

1: silent letters; letter(s) employed in spelling a word but not pronounced, like the ‘k’ in ‘know’ and the ‘p’ in ‘psychology’

 

He was like an aphthong: silent.

But also deadly.

His keen senses led him through the darkness. A faint sound paused him and he cocked his head. He considered changing his target to something closer and, therefore, easier. The rich aroma of human kept him moving forward. Saliva pooled in his mouth in anticipation. It had been too long since his last meal.

A smile split his face when he saw his prey. He lunged, claws and fangs aiming for the delicate flesh. It wasn’t until it was too late that he saw the dagger pointed at his heart.

 

 

 

Noisome

1: noxious, harmful

2: offensive to the senses and especially to the sense of smell

3: highly obnoxious or objectionable

 

It was the first sign that danger was approaching. The noisome smell permeated the air. Stacy clapped a hand over her mouth. How long did they have? Ten minutes? Twenty? It was tricky to gauge, but she knew this much: the stronger the smell, the less time they had.

Gathering her siblings, she ushered them into the rusty car. It grumbled to life. Marie whimpered in the backseat, and Toby pulled her close, whispering comfort as the vehicle tore down the road. Stacy didn’t let off the gas until the smell dissipated. She wondered, how long could they keep running?

 

 

 

Yawp

1: (noun) harsh or hoarse cry or yelp

2: (verb) Shout or exclaim hoarsely

 

She remembered silence. For a moment, the world went silent. Then the water rose up above her head. She yawped, the only action she could do before the ocean crashed down on her. There was no fighting. She embraced death, hoping it’d be swift.

Darkness swallowed her.

Warmth on her cheeks woke her. She opened her eyes to a vibrant blue sky. Carefully, she sat up, expecting pain. There was none.

“W-what the…” She looked around, spotting a man.

“Don’t be surprised.” He smiled, helping her to her feet. “Pain is for the living. The dead do not feel.”

 

 

 

Yahoo

1: a person who is very rude, loud, or stupid

2: (in Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels) one of a race of brutes, having the form and all the vices of humans, who are subject to the Hourhnhnms

 

The red vase crashed against the wall over Charlie’s head. A shower of water rained down on him. He cowered, hands over his head.

“What the hell, Vanessa?”

Vanessa looked around for more ammo. “You want to know what the hell, you yahoo!” She located a photo of them and threw it. “I know your secret. Once a month you go missing. You’re cheating on me.”

“No, I’d nev–”

“Don’t lie!”

But he couldn’t tell the truth. It’d send her running. But if he didn’t, then he’d lose her for good. He gulped down a breath. “I’m a werewolf.”

 

 

 

Zoomorphic

1: having the form of an animal

2: of, relating to, or being a deity conceived of in animal form or with animal attributes

 

Vanessa paced the bedroom. Moonlight shown through the window. She leaned against the frame and stared at the giant, white orb. Anger rose up her throat and she scoffed.

Cheating bastard couldn’t even come up with a real excuse. Concocting some story about being zoomorphic. He must think her an idiot.

The sound of footsteps turned her around. A monster stood in her doorway. Long, sharp fangs and claws. Hair covering its body.

It leapt across the room, grabbing her. She screamed and fought to break free. It pinned her down. Brown eyes stared into hers and she stilled.

“Ch-Charlie?”

 

 

 

Paraphernalia

1: objects that are used to do a particular activity; objects of a particular kind

2: the separate real or personal property of a married woman that she can dispose of by will and sometimes according to common law during her life

3: articles of equipment; furnishings

 

Clara laid the paraphernalia on the table, checking each one over. Knives, bottles of holy water, wooden stakes––those she could never have too many––silver crosses, and a gun with silver bullets.

Her lips pressed into a hard line as she recalled the last conversation with her sister. Sandy said she was obsessed, that fiction was taking over her real life. But she knew what she had seen. There was no denying reality. If her sister wanted to believe otherwise, fine. Clara would ensure her sister could keep living that dream.

But someone had to stop the monsters.

 

 

 

En masse

1: in a group, body, or mass; as a whole; all together

 

The zombie shuffled down the deserted road. Debris swirled in a breeze. A newspaper tangled around its ankles. It groaned softly, swaying back and forth as it stared at its feet. A gust of wind dislodged the paper. It resumed walking.

Eventually, the zombie joined others. En masse they wandered aimlessly, moaning. One stopped. Its head lifted, nostrils flaring. Others followed suit. A murmur ran through them. They began moving again, faster and faster until they were running. Snarls filled the air. They slammed into a metal fence, clawing at it and for the humans huddled on the other side.

 

 

 

Loxotic

1: slanting; twisted; distorted

 

Pain pulsed through his veins like fire and ice. He struggled to breathe against the barrage, forcing the air in and out of his lungs. His body spasmed from the assault and his limbs were loxotic. Bones cracked and reformed. Hair sprouted from every pore. A scream worked up his throat. It echoed among the trees and sent animals scurrying.

The cry turned into a howl. He collapsed on the ground, whimpering. Pain lingered as he pushed himself to his feet. He fell forward, unable to remain upright. Once he felt steady, he looked at the moon. She won again.

 

 

 

Eudemonia

1: happiness; well-being

2: Aristotelianism; happiness as the result of an active life governed by reason

 

The zombie shuffles down the abandoned street, oblivious to the decaying city. Human bones crunch under its feet––victims lucky to die and stay dead. Abruptly, it halts. What’s left of its nose flares. It ambles to an SUV, peering inside. Terrified eyes stare back, and something in the recess of the zombie’s mind flickers.

A child.

Smiles.

Laughter.

Eudemonia.

It’s over before the memory can be remembered. The zombie lunges, breaking the glass and dragging the child out. Different eudemonia envelopes the zombie as it feeds. When it finishes, it resumes its slow trek, unaware and unthinking.

 

 

 

 

 

Fantasy

This might be a spoiler, but these drabbles are quite dark. They are on par with the crime section in this book.

 

 

Olmic

1: eternal; infinite

 

“You can’t tell anyone. Understand?” she whispered in my ear, her breath ghosting against my skin and sending shivers down my spine.

I gulped nervously and nodded.

“Good boy.” Her hips swayed seductively as she walked to the door. There, she paused, glancing back. “Remember. Not. A. Soul.” Then she disappeared, the door shutting with a soft click.

I slumped into a chair, my thoughts spinning. I was a mere mortal. My lifespan was insignificant compared to the olmic being that just left. Yet, she insisted on my help. Said it was crucial.

She trusted me with her secret.

 

 

 

Incalescent

1: growing hotter or more ardent

 

Clare’s breath stopped, eyes fixated on the tiny flame flickering in her palm. It danced inches above her skin.

She’d done it. By the sheer force of concentration, she conjured fire from nothing! Screwing her face, she focused. The flame flared, and the air became more incalescent. A giggle burst free.

“Clare, honey, I smell smoke. You’re not playing with matches again, are you?” her mother called through the bedroom door.

Clare clenched her fist and extinguished the fire. “No, of course not.” Once her mother’s footsteps retreated, the flame leapt back to life. A grin spread across her face.

 

 

 

Vatic

1: predicting what will happen in the future

 

The walls were covered in crystal balls, shelf upon shelf of them that reached to the ceiling. More were piled in baskets around the room. When the curtains were pulled, they created dancing prisms. The rainbow of color was beautiful.

But useless.

Claire grunted with disgust at the one she held. She had been certain it would work and unlock her vatic skills. Alas, another dud. She tossed it with the others. It cracked loudly. Sparks flew into the air and an image appeared on the ceiling. But Claire was looking at her phone, ordering another from Amazon.

 

 

 

Fatiferous

1: fate-bringing; deadly, mortal, destructive

 

The relic sat on the pedestal, a light shining over it and making the gold engravings glint. People swarmed around it like hungry wolves. They were elated to be part of history as it unfolded.

If only they understood the dangers of the fatiferous object before them.

Ten people died in the jungles searching for it. When it was found, sickness struck and claimed the lives of five of the archeologists. The captain of the plane that carried it across the ocean killed himself shortly after landing.

The ancients who created it, after all, had named it Death.

 

 

 

Ungual

1: of, relating to, or resembling a nail, claw or hoof

 

Children shrieked as they played outside. Bobby watched them through the curtains, careful not to be seen. His heart felt like it was being twisted into a balloon animal. If only he could join. He blinked back tears and turned away.

His toys were scattered on the living room floor. He picked up an army man. “We have a mission, men. We must enter enemy territory and secure rations.”

Bobby gathered his toys. His ungual feet clopped on the kitchen tile. Faintly, he heard the kids outside yelling, enjoying a normal life that his mommy said he couldn’t have.

 

 

 

Ostensible

1: seeming or said to be true or real but very possibly not true or real

 

Cara’s eyes widened as she stared at the scrolls before her. Her thoughts spun as she scanned the ancient writing, barely daring to breath. She had finally found it.

For the past three years she had been searching for a way to save her daughter, Lila. Lila had been born sick. Cara never knew which day would be Lila’s last. Then she heard rumors, whispers of a forbidden ritual that was the key to immortality. It was ostensible, but she didn’t let that deter her. She would ensure Lila lived a long life.

At any cost.

 

 

 

Hydromancy

1: divination by the appearance or motion of liquids (as water)

 

Kimmy swirled her fingers in the water, causing her reflection to distort. When the surface stilled, a different face was looking at her. She tilted her head and examined the image.

A chiseled jaw was darkened by a five o’ clock shadow, and the blue eyes were bloodshot. He was handsome, even with the tired look. But what caused his pain? If only her gift of hydromancy told her more.

A knock drew her attention. She crept to the door and peered through the window. Weary blue eyes stared back. It seemed she didn’t have to wait long for answers.

 

 

 

Orectic

1: (psychiatry) of or relating to the desires

 

The door creaked as Anna opened it and entered the room. A fire glowed in the hearth, the only source of light, but barely illuminating. Her heart thundered against her ribs. Maybe she had the wrong address. She wanted the room next door, the one with happy voices and laughter on the other side.

“Close the door.”

Anna squeaked like a mouse, whirling around, but there was no one behind her.

“Close the door,” the voice repeated. “And you will have your heart’s desire.”

Swallowing her fear, Anna grasped the handle, ready to make the orectic bargain.

 

 

 

Vivacious

1: happy and lively in a way that is attractive

 

Whenever she closed her eyes, she remembered the vivacious smile. The way Amber’s ruby red lips curled. One side was higher than the other. A goofy grin. Vivian would kiss each corner as if that would make it symmetrical––even though that was the last thing she wanted.

The world was blurry when Vivian opened her eyes. Dead leaves littered the grave. Carefully, she cleared them away and laid down a bouquet of Stargazer Lilies. Amber’s favorite.

“Miss you each day,” Vivian whispered, laying a hand on the headstone. “But don’t worry. I’ll bring you back. Just like we promised.”

 

 

 

Wanderlust

1: a strong desire or impulse to travel

 

A shadow passed over Meri. She looked up, seeing the familiar shape of a boat. With a flick of her green tail, she sped towards the surface.

The vessel was easy to catch. She hauled herself up the side and peeked over the edge. Men bustled about the deck. A man with an eye patch barked out orders.

Meri sighed longingly. Wanderlust filled her pores, but fear held her back. Her father warned her of land dwellers. They would cage her as a possession. But she had to see the world.

Even if it was from a prison.

 

 

 

Beaucoup

1: many; much; an abundance

 

The table groaned from the weight piled onto it. Voices rose in a cheer, celebrating the beaucoup bounty gathered. Lords slapped each other on the backs and Ladies embraced. Quiet fell as their leader rose from his gilded chair. He didn’t speak, simply inclining his head to begin.

Snarls split the air as they ripped into their feast; yanking limbs free and tearing flesh. Blood splashed their skin and soaked into the floor. In the village outside of the magnificent castle, the peasants hunched their shoulders and tried not to hear the screams. Their continued existence had a price.

 

 

 

Hagiography

1: biography of saints or venerated persons; idealizing or idolizing biography

 

Delia opened the thick book. Dust particles flew into the air. Her eyes scanned over the pages of names. The hagiography of her family was thorough, stretching back to the early 1400s.

Despair rose up Delia’s throat. How would she find what she was looking for? How would she know? Closing her eyes, she drew a breath. Instead of words, images seemed to fill the pages, showing her the story of her family. She stopped at the writhing figure of a woman in flames. There she was. Just like in her dreams. Just like she remembered in her past life.

 

 

 

Arbalest

1: a crossbow especially of medieval times

 

Elena peeked over the rosebush. Two men appeared, headed towards the castle that stood proud in the distance. Finally, she had been waiting since dawn. The men halted their mounts, leaning close to whisper. Elena strained to hear the conversation.

“The guards have been paid?”

“Yes, and the spell has been cast. You should have no problem getting into the castle and completing the task.”

Elena slipped an arrow into her arbalest and took aim. The rumors were true. A master assassin had been hired to kill her king.

Not if she had anything to say about it.

 

 

 

Elixir

1: a sweetened aromatic solution of alcohol and water, serving as a vehicle for medicine

2: a substance believed to maintain life indefinitely; also called elixir of life; a substance or medicine believed to have the power to cure all ills

 

The cauldron bubbled over the fire, wisps of steam dispensing the sweet aroma throughout the small hut. Glenda drew a deep breath. Yesssss. The elixir was almost ready.

“Auntie?”

Glenda kept her voice pleasant as she turned to the young girl. “Yes, my dear?”

Ringlets of blonde hair framed the child’s face, her skin was smooth as porcelain, and her eyes were sky blue. Just like her mother, the queen. “When you’re finished cooking, want to pick flowers with me?”

Glenda smiled warmly. “Of course, Princess, after I finish this lovely meal I’m making for you. It’s to die for.”

 

 

 

Wyvern

1: a winged two-legged dragon with a barbed tail

 

The sun was rising as I trudged outside to the chicken coop. I isolated the rooster so he wouldn’t chase me. The hens never gave me an issue.

I plucked eggs from the nests, putting them in my basket. In the far corner, I froze. Nestled among the hay was an egg. It was the size of my head, warm and heavy when I picked it up. A crack appeared and I almost dropped it. I watched in awe as a wyvern hatched. It flapped its wings and yawned, curling up on my palm as if it belonged to me.

 

 

 

 

 

Science Fiction

The thing I love most about writing science fiction is the “What if…” questions it invokes, and the possibility that one day those questions might be answered.

 

 

Eschatology

1: a branch of theology concerned with the final events in the history of the world or of humankind

 

They all mocked him. Thought him mad. A lunatic with a sign.

Screams filled the air, people colliding and tripping and stumbling other as they ran. Cars rammed into each other. The smell of burning rubber wafted in the air as the tires squealed against the pavement. The sky churned violently and lightening flashed. Tremors shook the earth, toppling buildings and skyscrapers.

“I told you,” he yelled over the chaos. “Warned you, but you refused to believe. Eschatology is a waste of time, you said.” He cackled, spreading his arms wide as if welcoming the end.

Who was laughing now?

 

 

 

Facsimile

1: an exact copy or reproduction, as of a document; exactly reproduced; duplicate

 

“Mom!” Sandy bounced through the door, her strawberry blonde hair swinging back and forth. Delight lit her emerald eyes. She laid down a piece of paper on the kitchen table. “Mom, I passed!”

Cassandra picked up the paper, smiling proudly. “Great job, honey. We’ll have to celebrate tonight.”

“Oh, can we go to Pizza Place?”

“Anywhere you want.”

Sandy squealed then skipped to her room.

Cassandra remained motionless. The smile felt frozen on her face and tears stung her eyes. She couldn’t do it. She couldn’t fake it. That facsimile wasn’t her daughter and couldn’t replace her.

 

 

 

Nidus

1: a central point or focus of infection by bacteria or other pathogens; a point or place at which something originates, accumulates, or develops, such as the center around which a calculus forms

 

Doctor Riley stepped off the plane. Vast, empty fields surrounded him, brown from lack of rain. He ducked under the wing. The pilot unloaded his bag then scrambled back into the cockpit. Doctor Riley didn’t blame him. If he had a choice, he’d remain entombed someplace safe as well.

But someone had to find the nidus of the viral outbreak. Lives depended on it.

He hefted his bag onto his shoulder. The building next to the airfield was abandoned. Windows were broken, glass scattered across the floor. That didn’t mean he was alone. Pulling his gun, he began his hunt.

 

 

 

Carte blanche

1: permission to do something in anyway you chose to do it

 

The tragedy rocked the nation. Headlines asked why. News reporters discussed the event in great detail with experts. People gossiped about the motivation, concocting grand conspiracies. They struggled to comprehend.

What would drive a child to murder? Had the parents given her carte blanche? Or were they too restricting?

No one had answers. The child wasn’t allowed a voice. She was whisked away, which only served to fuel theories of a cover up. Eventually, the chattered died. People forgot. Only one remembered. A smile twisted his face as he looked down at the planet. It was time. Humanity was ready.

 

 

 

Nubivagant

1: wandering in the clouds; moving through the air

 

I revved the jet pack’s engine and broke through the clouds. The sun blazed. I shielded my eyes from the bright orb. The action threw me off balance, and I struggled to maintain altitude.

This was true freedom. Nubivagant like a bird; diving, soaring. FLYING. If only I could stay up here forever.

I looked at the world below me. Large swaths of brown marred the earth. A few patches of green persisted, but I wondered for how long. How long until everything was dead? Destroyed by our obsession for a few technological advances so we could be lazier.

 

 

 

Xenology

1: the scientific study of alien biology, cultures, etc

 

For years, Doctor Smith had devoted his life to xenology. He knew aliens were out there, had visited Earth, and he was determined to prove it. His colleagues laughed at him. He was considered a disgrace among the science community, but that didn’t deter him.

His knees shook and he slumped into the nearest chair. The alien, its skin pink like his, cocked its head. Blond hair fell in waves down its back. Wide, blue eyes with black pupils blinked. It’s red lips parted to show straight teeth.

Laughter bubbled up his throat.

“Professor?” the alien asked. “Are you okay?”

 

 

 

Alter Ego

1: a second self

2: a trusted friend

3: the opposite side of a personality

 

“Look at you two. Sera, it’s like Sandy’s your alter ego.”

The two girls grinned at each other.

Sera’s mom handed them each a cookie and juice box. She shook her head. “I almost can’t tell you two apart. Off you go.”

The girls skipped outside. They hid behind an oak tree. The cookies and drinks were discarded. They began untying their pigtails.

“We did it.” Sandy wiped the make up off her lips.

“Completely fooled them,” Sera pulled at her skin and it tore, revealing scales.

Sandy shredded her disguise too. “I’ll call command. We can begin invasion immediately.”

 

 

 

Nota bene

1: used to direct attention to something particularly important

2: note well; take note

3: used to draw attention to something important

 

Smoke chokes the sky. The air ripples from heat, and ash floats like feathers on a breeze. The earth is blackened. In the distance, red glows from a fire. The only thing yet to die.

Outside of me.

I trudge over the barren landscape, my mouth and eyes covered to protect them. My legs protest with each step. I yearn to sit and rest, but force myself to keep walking. If I stop then I am giving up hope.

The ground beneath me shakes as if laughing at me.

I glare at the dead world. Nota bene, I. Will. Live.

 

 

 

Debouch

1: emerge from a confined space into a wide, open area

 

The worst part of space travel was hyperspace. The stars streaked passed, creating the illusion of being surrounded. While in it, there was no communication with other ships or calling for help if something went wrong.

Relief washed through Captain Talia when the ship debouches into the star-filled space. She slumps into her chair.

“You okay, ma’am?” her first mate asks.

She straightens up, her voice stern. “Contact our client. Let them know we’re on schedule.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

She draws a slow breath. Her crew must never know her weakness, less they throw her out the airlock in a coup.

 

 

 

 

 

Contemporary

For someone who once lost complete interest in writing a story because it had nothing paranormal in it, this is the longest section of the book.

 

 

Nystagmus

1: a congenital or acquired persistent, rapid, involuntary, and oscillatory movement of the eyeball, usually from side to side

 

Sally’s eyes darted back and forth. A tremble rolled through her and her heart raced. She clutched the edge of the chair she sat in. Her lungs burned, and she realized she was holding her breath. She let it out in with a whoosh.

“You okay?”

“Y-yeah.”

“We’re almost done. Just another minute.”

Her eyes darted back and forth.

Doctor Matthews sat back. “It’s Nystagmus. I’m surprised it took so long to be diagnosed. From what you’ve said, it’s something you’ve dealt with most your life.”

Sally slumped back. A weight had lifted off her. Finally, she had an answer.

 

 

 

Ne plus ultra

1: the highest point, as of excellence or achievement; the ultimate

2: the most profound degree, as of a condition or quality

 

The doorbell rang and Blaire sprang to her feet. She raced to the door, throwing it open. The poor mailman jumped as she ripped the package from his grip.

“Thanks!” She shouted and slammed the door in his face, returning to the living room. “It’s here. It’s here. It’s here.” She tore the box open. Her hand shook as she lifted the plaque out. The ne plus ultra of her life. Clearing off a spot on her desk, she placed the Youtube 100,000 Subscriber plaque next to her laptop. Her smile fell a moment later. “I should have filmed this.”

 

 

 

Redamancy

1: the act of loving in return

 

The rose sat on the desk. It stopped Caroline in the doorway of the classroom. Sweat broke out over her body, a trickle running down her back. She looked around the room. Only a few students had arrived. But none were the person she dreaded to spot.

Heart pounding, she walked to her desk on shaking legs. The red was vibrant, almost blinding her. She picked it up. A desire to crush the delicate flower pulsed through her. He didn’t get it. Redamancy would never happen. How many rejections did she have to give to make him see that?

 

 

 

Omphaloskepsis

1: contemplation of one’s navel as an aid to meditation

2: navel-gazing

 

Mary poked her belly button, pushing it in. It popped back out when she removed her finger. Her head cocked to the side. Why did it do that? Why not just stay inside out?

The sound of heels on tile drew her from her omphaloskepsis. A woman walked into the living room, letting her blond hair down with a sigh.

“Mommy, watch.” Mary poked her belly button. “It always pops out. Why?”

Mary’s mother picked her child up. She kissed Mary’s cheek. Mary squealed as the lips tickled her skin. “Because there’s so much goodness inside you it’s barely contained.”

 

 

 

Bombinate

1: buzz

2: drone

 

Sylvia propped her chin on her fist. A yawn worked up her throat. Her eyelids felt like weights were stuck to them, trying to pull them shut. There was no way she was falling asleep in class again.

But the professor’s bombinating tone was hard to fight. It never rose or fell in pitch, lacking emotion. Each syllable was spoken slowly and evenly.

The world went black for a moment. Sylvia forced her eyes open. She pinched herself, sat in uncomfortable positions, and gulped down her energy drink. Come on, she told herself. Forty-five minutes. You can do this.

 

 

 

Formication

(Trigger Warning: Self-Harm)

1: a tactile hallucination involving the belief that something is crawling on the body or under the skin

 

Karrie scratched her arm. Her long nails left red welts and she examined the markings closer. She scratched again, not stopping until she drew blood. She smeared her fingers in it, feeling.

Where were they? She knew they were there, hiding under her skin, squirming and moving like bugs. It wasn’t her imagination like her therapist said and a case of Formication. He was making up words to get more money out of her.

Karrie bolted to her feet and to the kitchen. Cutlery clattered as she sifted for a knife. The blade gleamed, poised over her arm.

 

 

 

Furbish

1: to brighten by cleaning or rubbing; polish

2: to restore to attractive or serviceable condition; renovate

 

Suzanne furbished the red bulb, pausing to look at the tree. Her face reflected in the other, colorful bulbs hanging among the fronds of green. A swelling of joy rose up her throat. She smiled.

Christmas time was a magical holiday and she loved every second of it. As soon as Halloween ended, her boxes of Christmas decorations were out. Her friends often teased her. Couldn’t she wait until Thanksgiving was over? What about turkey and stuffing?

Suzanne shook her head. Thanksgiving was a time for family, but she’d rather skip it and forget the awful memories that accompanied it.

 

 

 

Sprezzatura

1: studied nonchalance

2: perfect conduct or performance of something (as an artistic endeavor) without apparent effort

 

Maryann’s leg trembles as she balances herself on one foot. She holds her arms up, pinky finger held out like when she drinks tea with her stuffed animals. The music starts and she leaps, landing on her other foot. Swaying her arms back and forth, she twirls around.

A split second later, her toe catches on the floor and she topples over. Tears quickly fill her eyes.

Mommy rushes to her side. “Oh, my sprezzatura dancer, are you all right?”

The strange word stops the tears. “Spat-two-a?”

Mommy hugs her tightly. “It’s a special word for you are perfect.”

 

 

 

Animadversion

1: strong criticism

2: a critical or censorious remark

 

Linda was sure steam was blowing out of her ears. Her body trembled from the force of her anger.

How. Dare. He?!

Adam’s animadversion was uncalled for. She was not being irrational in the very least. She had every right to be annoyed. Date night was completely ruined thanks to him!

Laughter bubbled up her throat. Adam thought she was being crazy. She’d show him crazy. He’d regret uttering those words to her. He’d regret thinking those words!

“Linda, sweetheart?” Adam’s voice wavered.

Linda relaxed her body, smiling sweetly. “You’re right, dear. This is nothing compared to what will happen.”

 

 

 

Tmesis

1: separation of parts of a compound word by the intervention of one or more words

 

“Abos-friken-utely!”

Toby’s mother rolled her eyes at him, but the smile on her lips told him his tmesis had done the trick. She had been so sad lately––ever since his father left for work one morning and never returned. The sound of her crying woke him nightly, but when he’d go to her and ask what was wrong, she pretended nothing.

A bitter taste rose up his throat and his own tears stung his eyes. He blinked them back. His mother couldn’t see him sad. She needed his smiles more. He’d make her forget his father with laughter.

 

 

 

Kismet

1: fate; destiny

 

It was kismet, she had no doubt.

Talia stared at the pink hearts littering the floor. Her own skipped in her chest. She followed the trail through the school.

What would she say to him? Maybe she’d say nothing and just act.

At the gym, she halted. She took a moment to calm. Ready, she threw the doors open and walked in.

Erik Anderson stood with Sally Crawford. The shock was written across their faces. Her fingers curled into a fist and she decked Erik. She turned to Sally. “You two deserve each other. Happy Valentine’s Day.”

 

 

 

Que sera, sera

1: what will be, will be

 

The wind howled and rain pelted the ground. Lightning split the sky. A crack of thunder followed a second later. People raced for cover, hands over their heads.

Selena and Joe stumbled under the gazebo. They slumped onto the bench, panting to regain their breath. She swiped the white lace covering her face back. Her black curls were wet and limp. Joe’s tux was plastered to his skin and his brown hair messy. They looked at each other, silent for a long moment. A laugh broke free. Soon they were doubled over.

Que sera, sera, Mrs. Chander,” Joe chuckled.

 

 

 

Witzelsucht

1: excessive and abnormal joviality, with a morbid tendency to pun, make poor jokes, and tell pointless stories; seen particularly in patients with frontal lobe syndromes

 

“Kimmie, I got a new joke.”

Kimmie groaned as Francis rushed to her, a smile lighting his five-year-old face. Normally, his witzelsucht was cute, almost amusing, but today she wasn’t in the mood. Her boyfriend, the loser, dumped her after declaring he banged her best friend, Sherry. When confronted, Sherry didn’t deny it.

Worst. Day. Ever.

Francis bounced with excitement. “What do you call cheese that’s not yours?”

Kimmie rolled her eyes. “What?”

“Nacho cheese!”

A laugh burst free and Kimmie found herself roaring with laughter. She hugged Francis, kissing his cheek. “That is the best joke ever. Thanks.”

 

 

 

Xylography

1: the art of making engravings on wood especially for printing

 

Jessica wrinkled her nose at the stench of burning wood. This was lame. She had no artistic talent or inclination, but her school offered the class on xylography and she couldn’t pass it up.

It had been her dad’s passion when she was little. Their home walls were adorned with his creations. Then he was deployed and a bomb blew off one arm, mangled his legs and nearly killed him. He hadn’t been the same since.

She hadn’t told her dad she was taking the class. It was to be a surprise. One she hoped would make him smile again.

 

 

 

Leonine

1: of, relating to, suggestive of, or resembling a lion

 

Jackson’s leonine appearance––the flowing, golden locks, contacts that made his eyes look feline, and tattoos that mimicked fur––always turned heads. People stared as he passed them, jaws slack. Some even pointed.

Rude much?

But Jackson had learned to ignore those people. Their reaction was usually harmless and a small price to pay to live his truth. Plus, there was an online community of others who understood. They were also animals trapped in a human’s body; foxes, wolves, rabbits, dogs, and felines like him. Alone, they were considered freaks, but together they were family.

 

 

 

Pica

1: an abnormal desire to eat substances (as chalk or ashes) not normally eaten

 

“Annie, drop it.”

In an instant, I am two years old. Back then, I wouldn’t have thought twice; what was in my hand went into my mouth. Everyone assumed it was normal toddler behavior. It wasn’t until years later that my parents figured out it was something more.

Diagnosed with pica, I was watched constantly. My pockets were turned out, and during my teenage years, my purse searched. It wasn’t easy and took me time to understand, but eventually, I learned to accept help to control my urge. It beat going to the hospital and having my stomach pumped.

 

 

 

Quadragenarian

1: a person who is between 40 and 49 years old

2: being from 40 to 49 years old

 

Terrence hunched over his computer, his fingers flying across the keyboard. Anger pulsed through his veins and his teeth ground. A deep breath did little to ease his tight muscles.

He would show his neighbors, make them regret their words. By the time he was finished, they would think twice about mocking a quadragenarian. Age was just a number, after all.

With one last click of his mouse, Terrence sat back. A satisfied grin filled his face as he looked at the code filling the screen. Soon, his neighbors would come to him, begging for help. And he’d deny them.

 

 

 

Incommunicado

1: not able to communicate with other people

2: in a situation or state that does not allow communication with other people

 

“Hey Mandy, holla back!”

“Mandy, what up?”

“Got anything to say, Mandy?”

“Speak up, Mandy. We can’t hear you.”

The jeers followed Mandy to her locker. She wondered if she could crawl inside and hide. It may be cramped, but it was better than the taunts her classmates threw her way. Tears stung her eyes, but she blinked them back. No need to add fuel.

She wished she could make them understand. It wasn’t as if she wanted to be incommunicado. If Make-A-Wish Foundation approached her, able to give her anything, it would be the ability to speak again.

 

 

 

Yclept

1: by the name of; called

2: to call or name

 

Marian’s heart swelled when the doctor placed the small bundle in her arms. The exhaustion of labor vanished, and she clutched her baby to her chest. She blinked back tears and looked at her husband. He wasn’t fighting his tears. This was the first time she had seen him cry.

“Do you have a name for her?” the nurse asked gently.

Some of Marian’s happiness waned. What she yclept her daughter was important, and she wanted the perfect name. Sandy? Marcy? Tabatha? None of those fit. She looked down, into the blue eyes staring at her.

“Indigo.”

 

 

 

Jounce

1: to move in an up and down manner; bounce

2: to cause to jounce

 

Stacy jounced in her spot, barely able to stay silent. When would it be her turn? The wait was kiiiiiiiiilling her.

“Stacy Miller.”

Her feet slipping on the wooden floor in her haste to get to the podium, Stacy raced across the stage. She didn’t care if everyone thought she was being immature. They hadn’t believed in her anyways. They all thought she would fail. They expected it.

She ground to a halt in front of the principal, hand held out for that square sheet of paper that declared her a high school graduate.

Revenge had never been so sweet.

 

 

 

Krukolibidinous

1: the act of staring at someone’s crotch

 

Don’t look up. Don’t look up. Watch your feet. If you have to look up, make sure to make eye contact. It doesn’t matter if the person is a complete stranger, just look in their eyes. Act like there is something on their face! It’s better to have people give you weird looks for that than being caught staring at… other body parts.

But it can’t be helped. Your gaze is drawn to it like a magnet. You want to see. Especially if it is a guy’s. Why is krukolibidinous such a crime? There’s no harm in looking.

Right?

 

 

 

Quotidian

1: occurring every day

2: belonging to each day; everyday

 

Andrea planted herself in front of the TV. “Tim, it’s almost time.”

“Move!” Tim leaned to see around his little sister. The boss knocked his character into a wall of spikes. He groaned. “Thanks for killing me.”

Andrea stuck out her bottom lip. “Dad’s gonna be here soon. You better be ready.”

No he’s not. Tim bit back the words. His little sister had yet to wise up to their father’s quotidian declarations. When he tried to tell her, she refused to listen. She’d learn one day. Their father’s words couldn’t be trusted.

Tim prayed he’d be proven wrong.

 

 

 

Risible

1: causing or capable of causing laughter; laughable; ludicrous

2: having the ability, disposition, or readiness to laugh

 

My laughter was as loud as thunder. Everyone turned. Their faces twisted in disapproval. I bit my lip and hunched over as if the action would make me disappear. Quickly, I escaped to the bathroom.

Damn my risible personality. It always bit me in the butt at the worst times.

The door opened. My friend, Marie peeked in. “Bethany?”

“Is he ready to lynch me?”

“Not yet, but you did laugh in the artist’s face after saying his sculpture looked like a pile of vomit.” She shut the door, leaning against it and smiled mischievously “You’re not wrong.”

 

 

 

Sui Generis

1: unique

 

Samantha watched her best friend sift through the frilly fabric. She could trust Mitchell to find a nice wedding dress. Her fashion sense was too sui generis compared to his.

All she wanted was a simple ceremony. Not this fiasco her parents insisted.

Her sigh halted Mitchel. He eyed her, lips pursed. Without a word, he abandoned the dresses and hauled her to his car, pausing to text. Her questions were answered with a smile. When he stopped outside the courthouse and she saw her fiancé, flowers in hand, waiting for her. Her heart danced.

This was her perfect wedding.

 

 

 

Dilatory

1: tending or intended to cause delay

2: characterized by procrastination

 

“Oh, nonononono!” Abby moaned.

Her fingers flew over her desk, sifting through loose papers and tearing drawers open. Racing down the hallway, she almost stepped on her dog, Paddy. The pooch scrambled out of the way with a yelp. In the kitchen, she pulled everything apart. She didn’t dare look at the clock, the tick-tock mocking her dilatory nature.

Where is it?

Seconds remaining, she ran to the living room. Air whooshed from her lungs. There, taped to the TV, was the lottery ticket. She snatched it, palms sweating as the Big Five drawing started.

Five. Fifteen. Twenty-four. Six…

 

 

 

Indagate

1: to seek or search out

 

Branches snagged Penny’s shirt as if pleading for her to turn back, but she ripped free and pressed on. Every night strange noises stole her sleep. Finally, she decided to indagate the sounds.

The flashlight shook as she scanned the darkness. Each forest noise––a twig snapping or leaves rustling––made her pulse race. Glowing eyes sent her heart into her throat, but it was only a raccoon.

A mixture of laughter and a wolf’s howl froze her. Her feet turned her around, racing home. She collapsed against the door. Screw it. The night could have her sleep.

 

 

 

 

 

Weather

Ah, weather. It’s no secret that I live in Michigan. By mid-winter, everyone in the state is tired of snow, but come summer time, we are complaining about the heat. There’s no satisfying a Michigander.

 

Defer

1: put off; delay

2: to postpone induction of (a person) into military service

 

Saralee groaned at the time. Deferring any longer wasn’t going to change anything. Temperatures were well below zero, and at this time of night, they were only going to sink lower. She better just suck it up.

Layer upon layer of clothing was applied. Probably looked like Randy fromA Christmas Story’, she thought as she wrapped her scarf around her neck and mouth.

Snow twirled around her as she trudged through the drifts to the barn. Her ponies whinnied when they saw her, nuzzling her with their velvety noses. Outside, the blizzard raged, but inside the barn was paradise.

 

 

 

Paean

1: a joyous song or hymn of praise, tribute, thanksgiving, or triumph

 

Annabella threw open the curtains, sunlight washing over her. The trees were covered in velvety buds and the grass green. Flowers sprouted. Not a flake of snow was visible.

She danced around her room, humming a paean about the arrival of spring. In the kitchen, she grabbed her purse and keys, throwing the front door open. Her voice died, the keys slipping through her fingers. Dirty snow piled on her car and pushed against the sides. She whirled around.

“Trent!”

Trent stood at attention, fighting a smile. “All right, honey, I’ll clean your car off.”

 

 

 

Xeric

1: of, pertaining to, or adopted to a dry environment

 

It wasn’t that bad. So, there was no green. Any plants were brown, but at least there was some vegetation. At night there would be life. Xeric critters that came out once the blistering sun vanished.

Still…

Kayla swiped a hand across her brow. She would adapt. There were worse places to live. The frozen tundra… well, any place with snow.

A shudder rolled through her. She had hated her time in Michigan. Winter had seemed never ending, and when summer finally arrived, it was still too cold. Her bikinis wasted in boxes.

Now they’d go to tatters from use.

 

 

 

Brumal

1: of, relating to, or occurring in winter

 

It was the same every year. The first snow fell and the children couldn’t wait to go outside and play. Afterwards, they sipped hot chocolate that was loaded with marshmallows. Their rosy red cheeks would make Santa swell with pride. It wouldn’t take long before they were begging to go back out.

But slowly, the brumal weather wore thin.

“When would spring arrive?” “I’m cold.” “I dun wanna go outside.” “Can I watch TV instead?” “I hate winter.”

I smiled and kissed their foreheads. Soon, my sweets, spring will arrive, bringing muddy puddles, singing birds, and a new first joy.

 

 

 

Milieu

1: an environment or a setting

 

Nothing stretched for miles and miles. Not a cactus or large rock jutting up. The sun beat down mercilessly and heat waves rippled the air. There were no signs of anything alive. The silence was as stifling as the temperature.

Dirt crunched under my feet as I made my trek across the barren milieu. Sweat soaked my clothing and I could feel my skin burning. I might as well be in an oven, cooked alive. Still, if I had to chose, I’d rather be here than back home in the cool AC with my family.

That was true hell.

 

 

 

 

 

Crime

And this is the section that will make you wonder WTF goes on in my head on a daily basis. If you read my bio, you’ll know I have an obsession with serial killers.

 

 

Tout De Suite

1: immediately

2: at once

 

The body count was piling up. Five in one month. News reporters were having a field day. Nicknaming the killer. Describing the gore in great detail. Pointing fingers. Demanding the police solve the crimes tout de suite.

Then the case went cold. No more murders. Attention died. Ten years passed. The public forgot the nightmare that haunted them.

A letter to the press reignited the fire. Pictures showed a new victim, his face twisted in pain. The police were baffled. Past victims had been women. But the MO was identical. Everyone wondered, was it a copycat?

Was any one safe?

 

 

 

Logy

1: characterized by lethargy; sluggish

2: lacking physical or mental energy or vitality; sluggish; dull; lethargic

3: US dull or listless (Perhaps from Dutch log, heavy or variant of English loggy, heavy, sluggish, from log)

 

The alarm blared like a fleet of fire trucks. Sara hit snooze, but feeling too logy to rise, burrowed back under the blankets. Seemingly seconds later, the alarm sounded again. She smacked it and closed her eyes, thinking, Five more minutes

Hours later, the phone rang, a voice mail left saying Sara was late for work. That afternoon knocks sounded at the front door.

It wasn’t until the next day, when her sister, tired of being ignored, used the spare key. Her scream had the neighbors running to her side. Still under the blankets, Sara lay, hogtied, her throat slit.

 

 

 

Lackadaisical

1: lacking life, spirit, or zest

2: languid

 

Music silenced conversation and people took their seats, turning to face the doorway. The bridesmaids filed in, followed by the flower girl. The ring bearer came next. The little boy was more interested in zigzagging his way to the front. When the music shifted, everyone rose for the bride and father.

She held her head high, her smile glowing like the sun. If only they knew how lackadaisical she was inside. But the marriage her grandmother’s dying wish and she’d see it through––even if it killed her.

Looking at her husband-to-be and his cold eyes, she knew he would.

 

 

 

Antinomy

1: contradiction or opposition, especially between two laws or rules

2: a contradiction between principles or conclusions that seem equally necessary and reasonable; a paradox

 

He stared at his reflection in the restaurant window. A woman passing by glanced at him, blushing and thinking he was looking at her. But his focus was on himself. Some would call him a god, handsome and perfect. By appearance alone, people assumed goodness in him.

If only they knew the antinomy of his personality. The ugliness that lay beneath the beauty. He should thank whatever divine being that created him. His appearance allowed him free reign. No one ever suspected him. A smile twisted his lips and he rose, leaving the building.

Especially not that woman.

 

 

 

Schadenfreude

1: satisfaction or pleasure felt at someone else’s misfortune

 

Tears streaked down the woman’s cheeks. Her chest heaved, her eyes wide with terror. Rope bound her hands and feet. A sock was stuffed into her mouth. He considered removing it. Her sounds would be like music to his ears.

He tightened the ropes, making sure she was motionless. The knife sank easily into her pale skin. A feeling of schadenfreude filled each pore when she screamed––as muffled as it was. He watched the blood pour from the wound. It dripped to the floor and pooled.

When her heartbeat failed, so did his excitement. Time to find another.

 

 

 

Immured

1: to enclose within or as if within walls; to build a wall; to entomb in a wall

 

The sun streamed through the attic window, illuminating dust particles. Heat made the air heavy. Boxes were stacked along the cement walls, the contents within written on the side. A path led down the center.

Harvey’s shirt stuck to him and sweat dripped down his brow. He hauled the last of the bricks up the stairs. Wood creaked ominously from the weight. He began working. The new section of wall stood out like a sore thumb, brown contrasting with gray. Before he slid the last brick into place, he peaked inside at the woman immured within. She was his forever.

 

 

 

Magnum opus

1: a great work; the greatest achievement of an artist or writer

 

With one last slash, the man stepped back. A twisted smile filled his face as he looked at what was left of the woman. Red smeared her pale skin, and her face was frozen into a scream. Bones were broken and mangled. It was his magnum opus.

Years had led up to this event. Countless surrogates died in her stead. It was necessary to practice. He had to get it right. She deserved nothing but the highest skill.

It was strange. She displayed no surprise when he barged in, tape and rope in hand. Like she knew what she deserved.

 

 

 

Hyetal

1: of or relating to rain or rainy regions

 

The rain came down in torrents, turning the streets into rivers. I hunched my shoulders and kept my chin tucked against my chest. Why, oh why, did I have to live in a hyetal city?

A lone car driving past was my answer. Because it left the streets empty, people opting to stay dry in their homes. Only the truly desperate would chance the wetness.

Those like the man ahead of me. He hadn’t even given me a glance as he rushed past. I grinned, the giddy feeling rising up my chest as I pulled my knife.

 

 

 

Kudos

1: fame and renown resulting from an act or achievement; prestige

2: praise given for achievement

 

Detective Daniel knelt before the body. It was half hidden by leaves. Buried hastily? Not likely when they were in the middle of the city. The killer wanted this victim found.

“You have to give kudos to the Slasher. He puts horror movies to shame,” his partner, Detective Ellis noted.

“This madman doesn’t deserve any praise.” Detective Daniel scowled as he stood.

Nearby throngs of reporters awaited, eager for their story. Did they even care about the victim? This poor woman who was slashed beyond recognition? Or catching the murderer? Doubtful.

“Pack of savages,” he grumbled. “Worse than the killer.”

 

 

 

Nugatory

1: of little or no importance; trifling

2: having no force; invalid

 

The red receded from his vision and he finally felt like he could breath. The bloody knife slipped through his fingers and clattered to the floor. He should pick it up, needed to retrieve it. He hadn’t worn gloves and his fingerprints were smeared all over the handle.

But the police had nothing. Detective Daniel was floundering in his search for the Slasher.

Yes, the knife was nugatory; a crumb that only teased.

He set about preparing the body for the long trip to the city. He knew where to dump this one. Right on Detective Daniel’s front porch.

 

 

 

Seriatim

1: one after another; in a series

 

When was the spree going to end?

Detective Daniel scrubbed his hand over his face. If only he knew. For months, he had been hunting the Slasher, but the victims kept piling up seriatim. A break in the case would be heaven sent, and he thought he had one: A bloody knife with smudged fingerprints. But so far, the partials they had recovered had yielded nothing.

He just had to keep patience. If history proved anything it was that serial killers made mistakes. The Slasher would slip up and Daniel would be there. It would be a well overdue capture.

 

 

 

Venery

1: the art, act, or practice of hunting

2: animals that are hunted

 

It was over. Detective Daniel didn’t know how to feel. It had taken over a year and twelve victims, but the Slasher was caught. Daniel had been the one to snap the cuffs around his wrists and read the rights. Never had the venery felt so good. Now, the killer was behind bars and awaiting trial.

****

He couldn’t believe his venery was over. Ended by something completely unrelated: a stupid parking ticket he had neglected to pay. It had linked him to the area all the bodies had been found. Now, he sat in a tiny cell, awaiting trial.

 

 

 

Viridity

1: naive innocence

 

Tears streamed down Cordy’s face. She wrapped her arms around herself to still her shaking body. She pressed into the corner of the bare room, breath hissing between her teeth.

“Stupid, stupid.” She scolded herself.

Now she was far from home and in a strange place with no friends. She never should have trusted the word of a stranger––even a cute one.

What was she going to do? She looked around. The walls were smooth, no sign of a door. She didn’t know how she got in there. She had been unconscious.

Her viridity had cursed her to death.

 

 

 

Thersitical

1: scurrilous; foulmouthed

2: grossly abusive

 

“Are you comfortable, darling?”

Terry wheezed in response. The tourniquet around his neck barely allowed him to breathe. Her intention he was certain. After all, it was his thersitical commentary of her tiny red dress that got him in this situation.

She feigned a pout. “Don’t you have anything to say? Shame.”

She trailed a knife over his skin, moving lower and lower. Maybe he deserved this. It was karma paying him back for all the women he dehumanized over the years. He closed his eyes, and a sense of peace settled into him. Or maybe it was the knife.

 

 

 

Clinomania

1: an excessive desire to remain in bed

 

“It’s nothing to worry about. The doctor said all she needs is to rest and her clinomania will pass. We just have to give her time… Don’t worry. I’ll let her know you called.”

Julia listened to her husband assure the person on the phone. Who was calling to ask about her? Her mother? Father? Brother? Childhood friend she hadn’t talked to in years? Ex-boyfriend she hated? Her chest tightened and tears filled her eyes. She wanted to cry out, to demand to be heard. Rope bound her tightly to the bed and tape kept her silent.

 

 

 

Welkin

1: the vault of the sky

 

Jacob always kept his gaze to the ground. If he lifted it, the city would consume him. Towering skyscrapers, people clogging the sidewalks, and cars jammed the street. There was no room to breath. And the noise, oh the noise. He couldn’t hear himself think.

Why did he live in this hell?

He yearned for a welkin spattered with twinkling stars, a moon that washed the world in white, and silence that stirred his soul. Paradise on earth. And yet…

Jacob glanced up. A passing woman made his fingers twitch for her neck. Hell did have its perks.

 

 

 

 

 

Food and Drink

My day job is at a restaurant, so at least one of these stories has real life basis. I’ll leave you to guess which one.

 

 

Exiguous

1: extremely scanty; meager

 

Tendrils of steam wafted into the air. I inhaled deeply, sighing in content. Already, I could feel the tension unwinding from my bones, the weariness the long day at work caused melting away just from the aroma. I closed my eyes and took another satisfying sniff.

Tea was bliss. Anyone who had never drunk it did not know what they were missing.

Tentatively, I took a sip, mindful of the heat. My eyes snapped open. I glanced at the cup, nose twitching. It smelled divine, yet… I took another sip.

What was this exiguous drink masquerading as tea?!

 

 

 

Supererogatory

1: performed or observed beyond the required or expected degree

2: superfluous; unnecessary

 

Annie’s hand was steady as she drew delicate lines over the cake’s side and made flowers along the edge. One by one, she added silver edible beads that sparkled under the kitchen lights. The cake topper was carefully placed last. It looked crooked so she adjusted it.

Still, it appeared off centered.

She tried again. And again. And again. Each time, unsatisfied.

A glance at the clock said there was time. She had been wise to get an early start. Her supererogatory attention to detail always hindered her. And she needed this job.

After today, she would be famous.

 

 

 

Grogg

1: a hot spiced wine and liquor punch served in Scandinavian countries as a Christmas drink

 

The crowd hollered and cheered, their mugs of grogg held high. They banged their fists on the table, sloshing more of the liquor. Even more was spilled when tussles broke out. Laughter ended the playful fights.

On into the night the celebration lasted. Silence fell as the sun rose, the Viking men passed out in the dining hall. A few women picked their way among the sprawled out limbs. They were mindful not to wake the sleeping. It was a well-earned rest after a well-earned celebration. The end of a long campaign against invaders from the South.

 

 

 

Adelaster

1: meaning ‘unknown star’ in Greek, this is the name given to newly discovered plants awaiting classification by botanists

 

The contestants filed into the room to stand before the judges. Crisp and clean chef coats had replaced their food-smeared aprons. They stood with held breath, awaiting judgment. Only one would be crowned master chef. An adelaster on the verge of discovery.

“Chef Andrew, step forward.”

All eyes turned to the small man with mousy brown hair and beady eyes. He gulped, looking as if he would run instead. But he moved to face the judges. This was it. The moment of truth. All his dreams were in these people’s hands. Would his luck hold? Had he sacrificed enough?

 

 

 

Uncanny

1: seeming to have a supernatural character or origin; eerie, mysterious

2: being beyond what is normal or expected; suggesting superhuman or supernatural powers

 

The knife clattered to the floor. I sighed and set the pan of pastrami on the counter, then snatched the knife up. This was the third one. I threw it into the sink then returned to work.

By the time I finished slicing the pastrami, I had uncovered ten more pieces of silverware hidden around the kitchen. My coworker must have been bored when closing last night.

A groan worked up my throat. What else would I find thanks to his uncanny ability to cause mischief? Maybe I should fake being sick and escape while my sanity was intact.

 

 

 

Monition

1: a warning or an intimation of something imminent, especially of impending danger

2: cautionary advice or counsel; an admonition

 

The dishwasher calling in sick was the first monition. Next, a freezer broke. Everyone scrambled to save the food. Then a shelf broke, cups crashing to the floor.

All this happened at the height of the lunch rush. At least the food went out fine––when there were clean dishes. The boss blew through the restaurant like a tornado, yelling for the workers to move faster.

When it was over, everyone collapsed in the break room. For a long moment, no one moved. Finally, one by one they trickled out. The restaurant went dark.

Tomorrow they would do it again.

 

 

 

Addendum

1: something added or to be added, especially a supplement to a book

 

Darkness coated the kitchen like a blanket and the refrigerators hummed softly. Joyce crawled on her hands and knees, past the counters and the blinking red light of the security cameras to the pantry. Shelves of food towered over her. Her heart quickened as she pulled the recipe book from its hiding place.

It had taken her months to get Chef Lee to let slip where he hid it. Now it was in her hands. Fumbling in her pockets, she pulled out a pen. Just one little addendum to his prize recipe. Her revenge would be delicious.

 

 

 

Umami

1: a taste sensation that is meaty or savory and is produced by several amino acids and nucleotides (as glutamate and aspartate)

 

Butterflies filled Karen’s stomach, making her worry breakfast would make a second appearance. Sweat slicked her palms and trickled between her shoulder blades. She closed her eyes, drawing a deep, slow breath.

No need to fear. She had a natural talent for cooking. There was no recipe she hadn’t conquered.

“Karen Mays, your dish, please.”

Show time.

Karen picked up the dish, her hands trembling. “I present an exotic dish. Each layer has been cooked to bring out the taste of umami.”

The head cook’s nose twitched and he licked his lips. Karen fought her smile. Best to look humble.

 

 

 

Sudorific

(Suggestive content)

1: relating to or causing sweating

 

Kaitlin fanned herself. As much as she loved baking, she could do without the sudorific heat of the kitchen. Taking a swig of water, she got back to work: kneading, rolling, and cutting bread.

Her husband appeared. “Mmm, something smells good.” He eyed her, grinning. “Something looks good.” He strode to her and pulled her close. “When you’re done here, want to warm my bun in your oven?”

Kaitlin smirked at his words. “You sure you can take the heat?”

He waggled his eyebrows. “Well, if I can’t take the heat then maybe I don’t belong in your kitchen.”

 

 

 

 

 

Animals

 

Orgulous

1: proud

 

It was love at first sight. Big, brown eyes watching Cammie from a pet store window and begging her to take him home.

She hung up her coat, debating tricks to teach. The puppy was missing when she turned around. She raced through the house; finding him in the bathroom, surrounded by toilet paper and an orgulous look on his face.

Scolding, she swatted his bottom. He yelped, tail between his legs. Guilt rose instantly. Cammie hugged the trembling animal, promising forgiveness. He licked her cheek, tail wagging wildly.

Already, he knew what it’d take to get out of trouble.

 

 

 

Yean

1: to bring forth young—used of a sheep or goat

 

The alarm buzzed, rousing Breanna. She rolled over and slapped snooze. Three in the morning was too early to drag her butt out of bed. But it was her turn to watch. She dressed warmly, but even then, the cold wind went right through her as she stepped outside. Goats bleating greeted her once she was inside the barn. They flocked around her and she counted the new kids.

She looked at her tired brother. “Five?”

He yawned. “Yup.”

Breanna gathered one into her arms. It nuzzled her neck. Yean season meant little sleep, but the prize was worth it.

 

 

 

Skulk

1: (noun) a group of foxes

 

Dogs raced through the brush, their noses to the ground. Horses followed, their hooves pounding the ground. The hunters rode through the forest, hot on the heels of their prey.

Excited howls signified the dogs had located the skulk den.

The hunters caught up to the dogs. They pulled the baying hounds away from the hole. A man reached in, going all the way to his shoulder. He pulled a fox free. The head flopped over, the fabric of the toy dirty from being buried multiple times. The group cheered, happy to carry on a tradition in a humane way.

 

 

 

Biddable

1: willing to do whatever someone tells you to do; easily taught, led, or controlled

2: available to be bid on

3: easily led, taught, or controlled; docile

 

I drew the circle on the living room floor. When I stood back, one side bulged out. Fine, it didn’t have to be perfect. I’d still be able to enslave the creature.

My stomach jumped into my throat when footsteps headed down the hallway. I scrambled behind the couch, waiting.

The creature appeared in the doorway, sniffing the air. It padded towards the circle, walking around it. One foot went over the boundary, followed by three more. I jumped to my feet.

“HA!”

My cat, Jade looked at me, obviously perplexed at how a circle would make her more biddable.

 

 

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About the Author

Patricia Josephine’s younger days were spent devoted to art. Inspired by her grandfather, she had creative dreams. Eventually, that led to her writing down stories bouncing in her head. Now she can’t stop. She also writes young adult novels under the name Patricia Lynne.

Patricia lives in Upper Michigan with her husband, hopes one day to have what resembles a small petting zoo, and has a fondness of dying her hair the colors of the rainbow. You can find her lurking on Twitter, [+ Goodreads+], or her website. If you want to learn about her upcoming releases, sign up for her newsletter.

 

 


Learn A Word in 100 Words

A collection of flash fiction inspired by unusual words. Each tiny tale is crafted around a word that is unique or no longer in use. Read them while waiting in line or before bed. They range from sweet and lighthearted to dark and disturbing. Look out for the supernatural, but don’t turn your back on the average human. A killer might be lurking underneath. Expand your vocabulary, and get some inspiration of your own.

  • ISBN: 9781370844494
  • Author: Patricia Josephine
  • Published: 2017-03-04 23:05:12
  • Words: 15986
Learn A Word in 100 Words Learn A Word in 100 Words