Readers On Deadline (ROD#17)

Dame Rinda

Readers on Deadline (ROD) is a monthly Deadline Dame feature where we post an intriguing image and invite readers to be inspired and share the results in up to 250 words right here in the comments.

There’s a two week deadline, so entries will have to be in by midnight when Dame Rinda posts her next regular Deadline Dames post, which is midnight July 14th.   The Dames will pick the entry that most intrigues us, post that entry in the next month’s ROD  along with a link to that writer/reader’s site-if there is one.  And you get a prize!

( We’d like to add a request for our readers not to re-post pictures.  Some are stock photos and those are fine, but quite a few of them are used with written permission from the artist.  Thanks! )

The winner of last month’s ROD is Iris!  Congratulations, Iris. 😉 Email your address for your copy of Dame Rachel Vincent’s MY SOUL TO KEEP.  (Thanks again to Michelle Monique, the wonderful artist responsible for this image.)


The voice was faint, a mere whisper against my skin. I felt the veil ripple in invitation. Stay, or go? A choice was always there, always difficult, every time more so because I knew I might not find the strength to turn back.


I had to answer. I discarded my inert shell, paralysed and grotesque. I couldn’t even regret the accident now. True, it had robbed me of a healthy life by the throw of the dice, a slip on the ice. But it had also given me a gift, a curse. The veil between worlds, ripped. And him.


I stepped through the shimmering gauze and closed my eyes as the feeling of a supple body, my body forever young, enveloped me. Ah, the alluring poison of Everwhere. So sweet, so tempting. My fight against its pull seemed fruitless and foolish. I was an invalid in the normal world, why wouldn’t I just stay? Did it matter than in my tragedy I had managed what my persistence had failed – to pull my mother out of the years-long depression and make her fight again, live again, for me? Was it worth it, my life for hers?

It should be. It was.

I fell on my knees as the veil withdrew, leaving me naked, shivering and whole.


I opened my eyes and there he stood. A worse temptation than a healthy body and a new life.

He smiled and bent down to kiss my forehead.

“Welcome home.”

Image by Jascha Hoste.

And the winner of ROD #17 will get a copy of Dame Jackie Kessler’s SHADES OF GRAY!

Jet and Iridium—best friends turned bitter enemies—teamed up to foil the evil plans of the rogue superhero known as Night, but in defeating him they inadvertently destroyed the secret Corp-Co transmitter whose frequency kept the metapowered heroes of the Squadron in line. Now these heroes have turned against New Chicago, ransacking the city they once protected.

Even worse, the powerful antisuperhero group known as Everyman has taken advantage of the chaos to fan the flames of prejudice against all superpowered men and women. Just when New Chicago needs them most, Jet and the small band of heroes who have remained on the right side of the law find themselves the targets of suspicion and outright hatred.

Things aren’t going much better for Iridium. When she springs her father, a notorious supervillain, from prison to help her fight the marauding ex-superheroes, she finds that Corp-Co still has some nasty tricks up its sleeve.

But when the most dangerous man alive, the sociopath known as Doctor Hypnotic, suddenly surfaces, Jet and Iridium will once again be called upon to set aside their differences. Yet in the process, deeply buried secrets will come to light that will change everything the former best friends think they know about each other and themselves.


  1. Amy S says

    The smell…the smell is what hit me first as I approached. My nose burned and eyes watered. Musty and sharp, the scent of ages of filth, and then my eyes focused on the white paper so out of place on the ground. Pristine edges, barely a trace of the surrounding dirt on it. Calling to me. It almost appeared to glow in the shadowed recess of the stairwell. From this distance I couldn’t see what was on it. My head told me to leave but my feet carried me forward, the gravel beneath my feet loud in this abandoned, forgotten part of town.

    How did I get here?

    I remembered leaving my house, speaking briefly with the stranger as he knocked into my shoulder.

    Dark eyes, sultry…black leather coat….

    Nothing more. My feet stumbled on the gravel, and at the last moment before I crashed to the ground I caught myself jerking up as a sound startled me from above. A dark shape flashed and then was gone before I could fully focus on what I was looking at. I stood above the paper, swiveling my body from right to left and craning my neck to see around the stairs. Gravel and dirt shifted and crunched beneath the soles of my black boots, the sound echoing off the surrounding empty buildings. I snatched the paper up with trembling hands, and as a deep growl filled the stairwell I shook as I looked at myself on the paper under the headline: MISSING.

    P.S. I accidentally posted this on the picture link…Oops! Sorry about that!

  2. Karen says

    He lived under the stairs.

    I can’t say I blamed him. It was a good choice – cool and dry. He didn’t ever have to worry about the sun touching his skin and turning him to stone. The building was filled with shadows where he could hide him from prying sunbeams and curious eyes.

    Sure, the skaters came with their loud music and their devil-may-care attitude. Some of them even knew he was there. They would slip into the building and whisper his name. And he would shuffle to the edge of the shadows to talk.

    They brought him things. Candy. Cigarettes. Worn old sneakers.

    He loved the sneakers. He hung them from the exposed beams overhead and he would laugh as they moved in the breeze – shoes with no feet going somewhere that only he knew.

    Sometimes the skaters would come at night with their boards and beer. They would build a fire beside the crumbling walls. He would sit under the shelter of the stairs just out of the firelight and tell them stories of the way the world used to be.

    Before technology erased our kind.

    When people still believed.

    Sometimes I imagined myself joining them. I would walk right over and sit down beside him, take his old leathery hand in mine and urge him into the light where they could truly see him. See me.

    But if I did that, he wouldn’t be there anymore. Safe from the sun.

    He wouldn’t be anymore.

    Like me.

  3. says

    I… won?

    *digests the thought for about half an hour*

    Oh my god, I won! And dang, no acceptance speech ready!

    Well, I will limit myself to thanking you wonderful Dames for featuring the contest every month. I very much enjoy it, and almost always post. *muttergrumble forgetgul, mutter*

  4. Faust says

    Congrats Iris :)

    Val’s boot heels clicked on the pavement as she crossed around to the stairs. Not many people ventured into the dead cities, but she figured Apollo’s men wouldnt follow her here. Them and their stupid superstitions. Camery nuzzled her from behind, and she rubbed his soft nose. They both needed a break, and this arena had horse stalls built into the side. She looped one of the split reins over the saddle horn and drop the other. Camery dropped his dark brown head, cocked one leg, and went to sleep. She envied him for that. She kicked a bag fluttering in the breeze out of her way, and went up the steps to check for Wild Men. It would suck to get eaten in her sleep.

  5. Jessica says

    ‘Fucking filth’. Piss and sweat rode the air, weighty in the stale warehouse.

    Dark hides outnumbered pockets of light, and shit, both literal and figurative littered the floor. ‘Stealth… what a god damn joke’.

    ‘Tsk Tsk. Language Jake, you’re in the presence of a lady’.
    Ignoring the suffocating metal work that begged to crush him, a flicker on the overhead walkway caught his eye.

    Of course she’d go up there.

    ‘Are you sure there’s not a dick between those thighs’? The quiver throughout his legs threatened to tamper with his voice as he stepped onto the wavering platform.


    ‘Come a little closer and see for yourself, you know you want to’
    ‘What I want is to find balls there so I can crush them and bring you to your knees’
    ‘Ooh such hard words’, an instant later he was forced against the railing, a hand cupping his cock from behind, ‘what a shame THIS isn’t the same’.

    Bitter heat swarmed his blood, spiking fireworks behind his eyes. With a speed and confidence like none he’d ever felt, his hand formed a tight grip on the bitch’s throat not a moment before he lifted and slammed her to the concourse.

    ‘You’d be wise not to tempt me, while I’m…like this…’ Looking at his pulsing arms as though they weren’t his own, ‘I might be inclined to show you otherwise. There’s more than one way to bring you to your knees woman’.

    ‘That’s what I’m hoping’, she stroked his choking hold, ‘it’s good to have you back babe’.

  6. Noelle says

    The wind rippled, thrusting a sheet of paper into his path. He didn’t need to look. He already knew it contained the lying words that lured them here yesterday.

    Tears traced lines in the smudges on his face as he slowly started up the stairs. He didn’t want to finish this climb. He didn’t want to face his brother’s broken body. The witch’s spell had closed, just as she had planned, and his brother had sacrificed himself.

    He rounded the last corner and never felt the pain as he hit his knees. His brother lay, with blood dried to his face. One arm lay out stretched, reached towards him. He swiped at the tears, trying to see clearly. His brother, dear Elron, had the most peculiar look on his face. It was serene, peaceful, and at odds with the the painful way he died.

    “Elron, I will avenge you, complete our task, and carry word of your deeds back to the council.” He clamped his teeth, unwilling to let a sob echo in the metal coffin. “Elron. . .” Losing all control he quietly wept.

    The wind rippled again, and he thought he heard a sound. He jerked up. A dancing pillar of light reached out to him. “Elden, do not mourn me. I have joined the elements we emerged from. I am not lost.” The wind swirled, leaving not a trace of light or body, but lingering words, “Blessed be you path, Elden.”

  7. Amanda W. says

    It was not simply a trashed building. It was not simply confetti or paper littered concrete. This was home. This was safety. This was where, the moment I set foot on the first step, the stress and adrenaline of fighting and surviving drained from my every pour. This was my sanctuary. Our sanctuary.

    This building was a human refuge from the death that lay beyond it, where the dead now ruled. It had every protection we needed with symbols draw and energy raised. The dead won’t come here, they won’t cross that line of energy. Not for blood, not for flesh, not even to destroy the remnants of the last human life.

    I laid my gun on my small wooden table, placed my scavenged food in my run down fridge, and stripped myself naked of my blood soaked clothes and showered. I dried off, combed my hair, and brought my tired body down to the floor where my mattress lay. I snuggled into the safety of the arms of my lover, and closed my eyes.

    Those feasting beasts fear us. They hate us. Because we survive. Because we fight. Because we have nothing left to lose but ourselves and our humanity.

    They hate us because we live.

    And that is something to smile about.

  8. says

    I sent an email with my address, but have not received any reply. Just wanted to make sure you got it. Did you?

    I am looking forward to reading a lovely book!

  9. Leigh says

    She had awakened.
    People do it everyday.
    But this time it was different.
    She had awakened to pain. A horrible migraine with power behind it. Trying to break loose against her feeble body.
    She was dumped on a metal staircase… presumed dead.
    She coughed into her hand and felt something metal… she looked and there was a bullet and some blood. She looked up when she heard a scream.
    There was a teenage girl running. Black hair cut in a bob. Bullets going straight through her. She paused when she saw her and smiled.
    “I’m so glad you survived!” She said as she ran up. “I mean… how many ways have they tried to kill you? Hmmm? Shot, poisoned, drowned, suffocated, and I’m pretty sure you’ve been keelhauled.”
    She looked behind herself and grabbed at the other’s hand… the black haired one’s hand going straight through.
    “We have to go, Miranda.”
    “Who are you?”
    “Penny… we have to go before they kill you… again.”
    “How am I able to survive?”
    “How are you able to speak after being shot in the brain…? We don’t know! We don’t ask because we’re usually too busy being tortured to ask.” Penny stated. “Let’s go!”
    “I’m not going anywhere.” Miranda said, stubbornly.
    Guns were fired… through Penny and into Miranda’s chest. Miranda felt like she was going to throw up.
    “It hurts more than it should.” Penny said. “But you won’t die.”
    “Sure, why not?” Penny smiled. “Come with me?”
    Miranda coughed.

  10. Emma says

    The experiment had failed that much was certain. Austin’s transport should have sent me back to my laboratory, but of course Murphy’s Law had set in and I’d been dumped somewhere outside the safe zone, at least I think I was. I spun around almost jumping out of my skin as a coke can rolled past my feet. Scanning the perimeter, my eyes stopped on fire escape behind me. A Breeze whipped past my face; I tilted my face down to stop grit getting in my eyes…and froze. What had at first sights appeared to be graffiti was in fact something else. It was just one circle with a curving line going through the middle, but it was a message all the same. I just couldn’t remember what it meant, flipping side effects of being transported. How had I gotten so turned about and…well, lost!
    I yanked the radio off my belt. “Austin?” not that I’d ever admit that to anyone, but, I was afraid. You know that feeling of dread you get the one that sits in your stomach like a heavy stone? Well I felt like I had London Bridge sitting in my stomach. “Austin, Austin! Will you answer me already, for crying out loud”? My voice cracked. Something was very, very wrong. I needed to get out of here, now. I glanced down at the symbol. Realisation hit me like a Mac Truck, Austin had left it. I didn’t know where I was because something had gone wrong, I wasn’t in the wrong place, no! I was in the wrong time.

  11. Adelina says

    As I crouched beneath the stairs, I saw him. I called his name but he didn’t answer. My heart raced as I crawled toward him.
    Why wasn’t he answering?
    Seeing him lying in a messy heap on the litter filled concrete I new I was too late. I could hear the fight a mile away and ran as fast as these stupid legs could carry me, but still, I was too late. Claws dug into my heart till I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I could barely recognize him, his smooth handsome face was now a shriveled sunken thing, but I knew it was him. He still wore his favorite leather jacket I gave him for his birthday last year. I reached for him, tears slid hot down my cheeks as I pulled him into my arms. I held him so tight if he were still alive he’d beg me to let go in his half teasing voice, deep and smooth as the ocean waves. And that memory along with all my pain at loosing him swelled inside me. Hot. Consuming. My body convulsed with it. It built up till I felt about to explode.
    That bitch was going to pay… bad.

  12. says

    Iris, your email was forwarded to the Dame with your book. I don’t look in here until it’s time to read for finalists, so I didn’t see this. You should be getting your book soon. :)