Fire Hot Rescue


“Drop that hose here, Ryan. Hook it up fast. I want to wash off the road and get out of this uniform.”

“I hear you. Having to wear the oxygen tanks as well isn’t fair. How did we get stuck with solo clean-up duty?”

“You know darn well why. How did you ever talk me into a lime Jell-O balloon toss?”

“Everyone at the street festival had a blast, especially with the Jell-O balloons. Food scraps are everywhere. This is more than just our mess. The rest of the squad should be here.”

“Well, maybe if you hadn’t smashed a balloon on the captain’s daughter they would be.”

“She sure looked hot in that white dress, soaked and clinging to her skin.”

“You mean green and sticky. I’d rather face a five alarm fire than the flames in the Captains eyes. Jenny may never speak to you again.”

“I don’t know, James. There she is now.”

“Hi, boys. Either of you need a drink? Got some fresh lime-aid.”

“Cute, Jenny. I’d love some. Sorry about your dress. Hope there’s no hard feelings.”

“Of course not, Ryan. You were just havin’ fun. Want some, James?”

“No thanks, Jenny. Hey, Ryan, you okay? Your face is turning bright red and your eyes are watering.”

“Oh dear. So sorry, Ryan. I must have gotten some ghost pepper in that lime-aid you just guzzled. Hope there’s no hard feelings.”

“Wow, that’s hot stuff, Ryan. Good thing we have a fire hose.”



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20160813_131602Sheets of water streamed behind Mark Mayfield’s speedboat as he turned hard at yet another twist of the Tuscahana River. Adrenaline soared through his veins. Navigating these hairpin turns at high speed took all his concentration.  Some called the annual River Gods race cursed because of the many accidents. Still, racers flocked yearly.

Today Mark’s luck held. His nearest competitor was a half mile back. Eight others had flipped or run aground on the dangerous waterway. Hundreds of people cheered along the steep banks as he made the last turn. Victory hung before him, then a movement in the shadow caught his attention. Golden eyes blinked from the darkness beneath a group of children who dangling their legs over the edge. A mud colored limb struck a stick standing in the water beneath them. The ground shifted. Rows of jagged teeth smiled at Mark as he raced past.

All thoughts of the finishing the race vanished. Mark yanked the speedboat into a tight turn only inches from the black and white checked strip hanging across the river. The crowd gasped as he headed upstream and buried his boat into the crevasse under the children just as the ground gave way. Mark sat, heart pounding, as a red stain ooze from under the boat, thankful none of the children were hurt.

No one knew what kind of creature Mark had smashed that day. There was little left to examine. But there were a lot fewer accidents during future River Gods races.


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Krka National Park Kendall Bullen

Photo courtesy of Kendall Bullen

“How long are you going to keep us here?” asked Bridget, through chattering teeth.

Fear of hypothermia was overriding the threat of the stranger’s rifle. It was hard to enjoy nature’s beauty while freezing your naked bum off. She could barely feel her legs in the frigid water. Jason’s arms were tightly wrapped around his chest. Behind them crystal clear water cascaded over steep rocks. Their well-worn surface turned the waterfall into a musical lullaby. Both she and Jason had fallen sound asleep after their long hike. Then the stranger showed up. Now the sound knelled like a death sentence.

“Y’all just enjoy your little bath,” said the stranger. He lounged in the sun on their blanket eating fried chicken. Empty containers lay scattered about; all licked clean by their captor. “I haven’t eaten this well since I killed my ex.”

Bridget’s heart jumped. This was supposed to be paradise, not a nightmare. “You promised you wouldn’t hurt us.”

“Don’t you worry, darling.” He bit into a lemon tart and moaned with pleasure. “These are delicious. Sure you won’t consider staying?”

She glanced at Jason and saw the panic in his eyes. If he thought for a second that she’d consider the offer, he didn’t know her at all. Being one with nature didn’t include becoming part of it.

Bridget turned away. “No thanks.”

The stranger smiled and put a lighter on the blanket. “Too bad. Y’all get a fire going now.”

With one last wink, he vanished into the forest.

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swan 1Our world is like a glass swan

Beautiful and fragile

It will take all of us working together to keep it whole

End the hate

End the violence



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DON’T MESS WITH MOM Wins Flash Fiction Challenge

indies flash fiction starA. L. Kaplan is the Readers’ Choice in this week’s Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction Challenge. The winning entry is decided by the popular vote and rewarded with a special feature Indies Unlimited today.

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“Ensign Jeffries, there’s been a malfunction,” said Samuels.

Teleportation was risky. People used to end up in walls, underground, midair, even floating in space, but there hadn’t been any off world malfunctions like this in years. She glanced at the strange dome with the bulging transparent material, then checked the air quality analyzer. This wasn’t Republic headquarters but at least the air was breathable.

Trees and shrubs surrounded the huge structure. Hundreds of triangles formed the dome. It was unlike anything she’d ever seen in Republic space. Only a supremely advanced and powerful species would dare to construct such a fragile looking building. They must have severe punishments to keep their world under control. Trespassing was a jailable offence where she came from.

“Begin emergency retrieve protocol.”

Static greeted her, not unlike Jeffries’ expressionless look when he initiated the transport. Her throat began to constrict. Neither she nor Jeffries made mistakes. They were both top technicians up for the same promotion.

A huge, furry creature barreled toward her. Its lips pulled back showing savage teeth and a long tongue. Her universal translator couldn’t interpret what it bellowed. Panic gripped her.

“Jeffries, you can have the promotion! I don’t want it. Just get me out of here!”

The massive beast knocked her to the ground. Samuels screamed. Saliva splattered her face.

“Bad dog,” said a man. “I’m so sorry. He’s usually very gentle. Are you okay?”

Samuels stopped shaking as he helped her stand. The man didn’t seem dangerous and was rather attractive. The dog flopped on its side, tail wagging, too cute to ignore. Maybe this place wasn’t so bad.

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Reading is Fun

We all know the wonders of reading, but reading to live audience is really fun. Here are some pictures from the Young Adventurers reading last week with Austin Camacho.2062

I had a great time reading WOLF DAWN. The Q & A was a blast as well, despite being a bit nervous. 20160625_125528What do you think of my Kara costume? 20160625_120800I think I came pretty close to the description in the book although I did a few minor adaptations for general public display.20160625_120208I also left Kara’s hunting knives at home.

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