The Storm

Bill longs for a life of adventure and a chance to leave his family’s farm. When brigands set their eyes on the property, he gets more than he wished for.

The Storm, by Kelly Pawlik, is set loosely around a table top roleplaying game supplement called Tangible Taverns: Gumption, and is available now on DriveThruFiction.

Read an excerpt:

The rope cut into Bill’s wrists.  One of the figures, briefly illuminated by the dim light of the small cook fire, had a hatchet tucked into the belt fastened loosely around his hips, and the hilt of a knife reflected the light from the fire. Bill was downwind of the fire and the smoke created a haze in the air that assaulted his lungs and made his eyes sting.

He blinked repeatedly and tried to cough, but the gag in his mouth made it difficult.  He squeezed his eyes shut, hoping once he opened them, he’d be back on the farm. Bill recalled the fight he and his father had earlier that day. It felt like much longer ago. Bill had been desperate for a chance to leave the farm then. Now he’d give anything to be back there.

Download the full story here.

Kale Frumpus (A Micro Short)

This piece of microfiction is a follow up to Secret Santa.

Trefor’s face blanched. It was just as he feared: another shiny red present with a fluffy green bow. This was the third one. He looked up and down the hall, but there was no one there.

Trefor picked it up, and held it as far away from his body as he could, and carried it down the stairs and around the back of the building to the dumpster. He looked around again, lifted the lid of the dumpster and tossed the perfectly wrapped present into the bin.

He made it to work on time. He’d hated the job when he started there eighteen months ago. His boss at the time was a penny pincher, a real scrooge. But he’d showed her. He’d showed them all.

It was Christmas Eve, and it seemed everyone was out of groceries. The shift should have passed quickly, but Trefor was on edge. Everyone looked sinister.

After several hours, he clocked out and got on his bike. He breathed a sigh of relief as his apartment complex came into view. Only a few hours left. He’d almost done it.

He secured his bike in the rack outside and made his way to the elevator. The hall was empty. Trefor pressed the button and waited. He heard something down the hall and turned to look. The elevator pinged and the doors opened. His eyes focused on the strange shadow that rounded the corner, and Trefor stepped backward into the elevator. The doors closed.

Trefor realized he wasn’t alone. A tall figure peeled himself from the shadows in the corner of the elevator.

“Hello my little elf. You haven’t been accepting my gifts.”

The voice sent a chill down Trefor’s spine. He punched the elevator buttons, desperate for it to open.

The figure produced a box and held it out to Trefor.

When the elevator doors opened on the third floor the only thing inside was an empty red box and a green ribbon.

Secret Santa (A Short Story)

A vehicle pulled into the driveway. It was another SUV with roof racks and tinted windows. This one was white, and it was spotless. Not an easy feat in the current weather. He supposed she must have taken it through a car wash today.

He watched as the driver climbed out. She was a curvy woman in her thirties. She put the strap of her leather purse over her shoulder and made her way to the rear hatch. He watched, tucked behind some bushes on the property two doors down, as she picked up several paper bags and closed the hatch. The bags all had different store names on them. As he’d suspected, she’d been busy shopping.

This was the fourth house he’d done this week. There were three last week as well. He had more packages to deliver before Christmas, but he liked to watch as the recipients found them.

The woman walked up to her door and noticed the small package. It was wrapped in shiny red paper and had a wide band of green ribbon tied around it. The ends of the ribbon formed a big fluffy bow. Presentation made all the difference, and he was proud of his new-found wrapping skills.

She grinned and bent over the box. From behind the bush, he smiled.

She read the tag.

Don’t open until Christmas. Happy holidays. From Kale Frumps

The woman looked around. Her eyes scanned over the bushes. He knew she hadn’t seen him. She unlocked the door and opened it, and then bent down. The handles of the paper bags slipped down her arm, but she scooped up the box and went inside.

He waited a moment, then slipped out from the behind the bush and started walking down the street. He could get one more delivery in today. The convenience store owner. It had been tricky to figure out where he lived. But he knew now.

He would have loved to see them open the gifts as well, but this would have to do. He could imagine the look on their faces Christmas morning.

The next few days were busy. He stole moments where he could and stayed up late to put together as many more as possible. By the time Christmas Eve arrived he had managed to visit everyone on his list.

Trefor lay his head on his pillow and smiled. He’d gotten rid of the last of the materials today. Just before bed he’d placed what remained of the roll of green ribbon at his mother’s wrapping station.

The last delivery had been close. His former gym teacher had almost seen him. The man had spent last year telling him all the ways he could improve his form.  It was ironic that he moved fast enough to avoid him now.

It had been worth it. No matter what came next, it would be worth it.

*                                             *                                                       *

“Christmas Morning Disappearances: A Dozen Missing ” read the headline on December 27th.

There were no leads. All evidence suggested they vanished. One man said he’d gone to refill his cup of coffee in the kitchen and when he returned his wife was just gone.

Each of the missing people left behind several gifts, both wrapped and unwrapped. At each home a shiny red box lay empty on the floor, its long wide green ribbon nearby. Don’t open until Christmas. Happy holidays. From Kale Frumps read the tag.

Read the follow up Kale Frumpus.