We’re starting up a section of free reads – LGBT sci fi, fantasy and paranormal stories donated by our authors for your reading pleasure.
I wasn’t alone when the zombie apocalypse began. I was in a fucking mall on a Saturday afternoon. Granted, the mall wasn’t very big, but with Fairview Falls being a small town, there wasn’t much else to do on weekends.
The day had been uneventful. My roommate was stuck in bed with a nasty flu. His coughing kept waking me up, so I got dressed before dawn to go for a run on the campus grounds. I ate a bowl of cereal while some of the other dorm residents crawled out of their rooms, and then checked for emails on my phone. There was one from Dad saying that yet another co-worker from the auto shop had been taken to the hospital because of the flu and was I okay. Dad only ever sent a short line once a month to see if I was alive. He wasn’t exactly the chatty type, but having a single son as his only living family, I supposed he needed to make sure I was still breathing.
I shrugged it off with a quick answer. My roommate had been coughing nonstop for twenty-four hours, just like half the campus, but I felt fine. I made sure to stay out of his way so I wouldn’t catch it. Still, it wasn’t anything to worry about. A little cold wasn’t going to kill anyone.
Author: L.V. Lloyd
Title: Rough Play
Genre: Sci Fi Romance
Word Count: 15,400
The Captain engaged the cloaking shield. Now the ship’s presence was invisible to any overt monitoring, or even to the human eye had there been anyone out there to look for it. The Jerez was on a routine patrol in the Auriga system and was not anticipating any trouble, but it never hurt to keep their movements unpredictable. Ion thrusters allowed the ship to glide through the vast space, quiet and unnoticed.
The Jerez was a class P108 military vessel. Although most spaceships were crewed by both men and women, there were still several specialised military vessels which were single sex, the P108 and P112 with men and the M394 and M401 with women. It was considered more effective when crew were placed in combat situations where they risked their lives.
“Mayday!” the vid com on the bridge sprang into life. A gray haired woman in a dark green singlesuit appeared on the screen. Her face drawn with worry, she spoke rapidly as if afraid she was going to be interrupted at any moment. “My name is Jamison, Second Manager at Oriell space station, in orbit above M- 1106 in the Capella star system. We have been attacked by pirates. I estimate twenty are down here on Oriell, perhaps ten more aboard their vessel. We have four fatalities so far. If there are any Patrol ships hearing this, please—”
The transmission ended abruptly.
Author: Morticia Knight
Title: Soaring Past Death
Word Count: 21,600
“What the fuck is he doing here?”
The barely edible ration he’d just consumed for breakfast fought valiantly to make a reappearance. Turning to Raptor 10, Silverback 13 didn’t miss the look of surprise that crossed the man’s face despite his expert efforts to conceal it. They were all experts. Experts at detecting, interrogating, torturing and killing the enemy. Except for the one that mattered the most— the one they’d had no luck eliminating. The one they’d never even seen.
“I was certain they would have told you.”
13 grunted as anger, pain and frustration combined into one potentially explosive emotion. “Obviously, they didn’t.”
He turned away from his friend. Friend? Maybe Raptor 10 should only be considered an acquaintance seeing as how nothing was the same anymore. Not since The Scourge had arrived on Earth and turned it into their own personal slave factory. Things like real friendships were too risky to keep.
But he and 10 went back a long way, and if there was any human being left on the planet that he gave a fuck about, he was the one.
You’re a lying sack of shit old man.
Reluctantly, he forced himself to face not only Raptor 10, but the boy who was now called Viper 44. 10 stood next to him, but 44 was on the other side of the two-way glass of the processing room in The Rebellion’s primary underground station. Naked. Willing. Ready to fight. Ready to suffer for the cause. Waiting to meet the trainer who would either prepare him for the mission that would rescue Earth from the clutches of The Scourge, or who would send him to a gruesome death. Silverback 13 would be that trainer.
13 gazed at the small, beautiful form of the man whom he had once had as his sub. It was foolish to dwell on what might have been. They’d both known that their prospects as lovers and partners had been grim from the start. Life was struggle and loneliness. It was fear that ate away your sanity. Yet, death was to be avoided in case living became interesting again. So Silverback 13 had let 44 go to protect him. To save him from the program.
And here he is. After years of doing this I never thought anything could surprise me, but I was wrong. Of all the trainees to be assigned, somehow Viper 44 was the last one I expected to see in the program.
Still so young, but then that’s what the mission requires.
Author: David Love
Word Count: 4,900
He knew something was up the minute he set foot in front of the house. The lights were off including the security flood lights at the gate and the beautiful house sat quiet and lonely.
His car was parked somewhere down the hill to aid his stealth mode and though the gravel crunching beneath his feet were irritatingly loud, it wasn’t loud enough to alert anyone of his presence.
Seb’s bike was packed sideways in front and as far as he could remember, that over grown delinquent never went anywhere without it. Seeing it just added to the theory he’d been nursing for a while.
He could bet his fucking top dollar the Dempsey men were up to something. Drugs or kidnapping maybe and this was obviously their hideout. Why else would they have this fancy house so far from town?
A dark shadow ran past as fast as a blink. Killian blinked and cupped his service revolver with his second hand. It was probably a pet, a bloody huge pet.
Hearing a snort behind him he turned around raising the gun to chest level and paused looking right into the red eyes of a snarling vicious black cat.
A huge dangerous pet? Fucking bastards!
Author: Ashlyn Forge
Genre: Sci Fi
Word Count: 11K
Generations ago, Levelers and Summoners depended on a symbiotic bond that was decimated by the Earth man’s arrival.
On a planet beneath two harsh suns, the Leveler King is left in the wilderness, stranded. His rescue comes by way of Aton, a simple farming Summoner who wants nothing more than to live in peace.
Calamity forced Lyndel and Aton together, but necessity might be the only way they endure each other’s company.
Author: Ashlyn Forge
Genre: Sci Fi
Word Count: 16K
Phillippe wants more in life than what the slums have to offer. His father survived war and chaos to reach sanctuary and now works hard in the mines to ensure that his only son has everything the ‘better-half’ take for granted. Each wish fulfilled has come at the expense of his father’s health, however, and now it’s Phil turn to provide.
In search of work, Phil ventures from his humble home in the Lower-Levels for the wealthier upper area of the underground. What he finds is a suicidal nobleman hellbent on putting them both into an early grave. The noble reluctantly takes Phil on as a bodyguard. For the first time in Phil’s life, he sees hope, and he’s clinging to it. But how can he possibly guard someone looking to die?
Author: Natsuya Uesugi
Title: Data Feed
Genre: Sci Fi
Word Count: 4,929
Faid looked out into the night. The streets of the Echelons were busy in Haven 15, the Red Light District of the Pacific Territories. The sun set over the horizon and the neon lights of the district glared into the darkness hocking girls, teenage boys, technology all screaming for your attention as the cars hovered down the streets and the people took in the seedy shop windows with the scantily clad girls and barely legal boys dancing to electronica music for a show. Faid was waiting for a pickup.
Data was everywhere, the gridscan was the ubiquitous solution to your every need. Query the gridscan as it was called by hackers and find just what you were looking for. The neon night danced in front of Faid’s eyes and he sighed from his perch in front of The Hole X-rated magazine shop with the other hosts. Today he wasn’t working like usual, today he was waiting to get paid for a hack he had done. The pay couldn’t come soon enough. He needed some neurocyne, a psi inducer drug that helped him control his psychic power. He had been in withdrawl for the last six hours…
Author: Tam Ames
Title: Strange Bedfellows
Word Count: 1,450
Keron is a bad-ass demon. He’s not into mushy, he’s not into sweet and he’s not into Christmas. Mik is an angel. This year he’s determined he and Keron will make their foster mom’s Christmas special with a gift of ornaments for the tree from both of them. However once Keron gets looking, maybe the Christmas store isn’t quite as tooth-achingly sweet as he thought, and Mik’s reactions might convince him the outing is worth it.
Author: Tim O’Leary
Title: Conjuring the Shroud
Word Count: TBD
The ground trembled and suddenly split apart. A deep chasm began to widen, and from it a large figure flew out. He was very tall and thickly veined, and his head, slightly redder than the rest of him, was capped with a shiny battle helm, mushroom-like in shape. Concerning his eye, the stories were true—he had but one giant eye in the middle of his face, an eye that squinted as he stared at the two heroes.
“The One-Eyed Snake!” Hathor shouted. “Our enemy has found us!”
“So, at last we meet!” Malavoth said, his voice somehow both hard and silky soft at the same time.
Hathor, a warrior to his core, shouted with excitement at the promise of battle. “This is the moment, Dathiel! The moment we face the Snake!”
He woke and reached out, Randy’s heart seizing up as his hand made contact with nothing at all. There should be something… someone. There had never been a someone, a lover, so why was Randy so sure there had? He always slept in the middle of his bed, sprawled out. Nowadays he stayed to one side like he was making sure there was enough bed for… for… Who? His heart raced, his head started to pound, and he tried to remember what it was he had obviously forgotten, but no answers surfaced.
Every morning was the same.
Randy closed his eyes and tried to will himself back into the dream that he could scarcely remember. Back into the arms that held him so tightly, breath that rippled against the back of his neck, the lips that nudged and nuzzled at his ear. And the voice? Deep, calming. He never saw what the man looked like, but he could imagine from instinct alone. With any luck he’d meet a man like that someday.
When he woke from one of those dreams, he felt completely at peace, until he reached for his imaginary lover to bring him closer, to kiss him, hold him, and found only a bare, cold pillow. When had he gotten a second one? It didn’t make any sense. Randy lived alone, always had. So many things didn’t add up in his life.
Randy gazed over at his dresser at the photos he had on display. Why did he have a picture of himself sitting on a bench alone with the goofiest grin? He didn’t ever smile like that. In another picture there was clearly an empty spot next to him in a group of friends. Empty like his heart.
Author: James Comer
Title: A Twist of Wire
Genre: Science Fiction / Fantasy
Word Count: 6,014
Three men crouched in a prison cell.
The cell was dug-and-walled in a sunken courtyard. Ironwood bars were cemented into the floor and ceiling. A bar closed the cell, its handle beyond reach. Locked?
How to get out? thought Charthat.
Where was his partner?
He could saw through the lignum vitae with true-steel; he had none. He’d lost his razor at the prison door, though his bare hands, trained in thefanath disciplines, were more deadly.
Noise from outside, from the hot crowded streets.
He had spoken briefly to his two cellmates, who’d had little to say. Apparently, neither could imagine a way past the guards who sat outside. The noise outside grew louder, and louder still. Charthat Thermatson saw one of his cellmates say something. What was going on? He smelled smoke.
That’s all we need now — a fire in jail. We’ll burn to death before the —
Screams. Other prisoners?
Could the three of them burn the wooden bars? No source of fire. Just their clothes, eating bowls, horn spoons, gourd of water, a chamberpot.
he guard looked up, looked at them. Charthat’s cellmates were desultorily sitting. Pretending to pray, he looked up. The guard was pacing, not watching him. His chance? He closed his eyes and focused his mind.
Author: James Comer
Title: Kitten and Charcoal
Genre: Science Fiction / Fantasy
Word Count: 8,089
The warrior spurred a tired manhorse onward as night faded to dawn. In the foothills, pursuit was easier to evade, but mountains were tricky. They could save or betray as they chose, thought the swordsman. I can get into that valley, find a trail over into-
“Get him!” shouted a voice from below, and another, “I see him!” Arrows whizzed by, one lodging in a scrub oak. I’m going to have to turn and fight, or be shot in the back. There, among those boulders- The canyon floor was a maze of huge boulders tumbled by flood. Sirat Tho’anchur, wearing tunic and breeches of chocolate-colored wool, turned the manhorse toward the confusion of great stones, and once out of sight among them, turned the beast loose, leaving gear to rattle on the three-meter-tall beast’s harness. On the way, a loose oak branch… Misdirection can only help. Too little time to set traps, but-
Pursuers rode into the boulder field alertly and in order. Sirat clambered atop one boulder, leapt to another, as the manhorse tried to follow, took an arrow and began screaming and fleeing the enemy soldiers. The resulting echoes did nothing to aid the enemy in finding Sirat.
Above, blue night and the Hundred Stars. The face of great Butros, in half phase, was partly visible over a mountain shoulder, but the valley was in shadow, lit mostly by Toner and Glebe, moons covered in ice and dust. Crossbow in hand, Sirat took aim in their light and shot.
Thok and a soldier’s manhorse bolted. Thok and another soldier fell, screaming in pain. Return fire: Sirat ducked behind a boulder, let arrows click off it, then slid silently into firing position atop another. The repeating crossbow needed levering to work the magazine, and couldn’t be fired prone. Thok, a miss, and thok, a manhorse was hit, increasing the volume of the conflict. Sirat used long-ago training to shut out noise, tiredness and pain, to fight above all.
Above all. And a smile crossed the dark swordsman’s face. Thok, and a third soldier fell, when Sirat shot the larger target, his manhorse. How many of them? Ten? Thok, and a miss, thok, and Sirat saw a soldier flee, unable to bear the rain of bolts from the repeat-fire crossbow Sirat carried. One fewer, but how many now?
Author: Robert Robinson
Word Count: Ongoing
Nogorad, capital of the Four Realms and seat of the Autarch. Home to all manner of criminals, conspiracies, mages and now something else.
A demon stalks the streets, summoned within a city Warded against such things and it’s only a matter of time before events spiral out of control.
Eve Tenrings, once a slave, now mage for hire is called back into a world she left behind after the last war. However, as the body count rises and a dangerous conspiracy becomes apparent, she learns that what happens in the past seldom stays there.
Author: Albert Nothlit
Word Count: 27,000
Drake and Alec are warriors of opposing armies. They are both deadly, and they are something more than human as descendants of their lines. Better. Drake has strength. Alec has speed. When they meet, they know only one of them can live. Unless something happens. Something deep. But if they dare to become allies, they will have two armies hunting them down…
The warrior was panting, badly wounded, and enemies were coming at him from all sides. He gripped the heavy battle mace tighter, shifted his footing and grimaced at the searing pain in his side. If he was going to die, he would at least take one more man down with him. He promised himself that. Drake’s mace would yet taste the blood of a final enemy.
Drake blinked away the sweat that dripped down his forehead and his matted hair, stinging his eyes. He was tense, waiting for the enemies he knew were coming. He had only a few seconds to look around and get his bearings. How had he gotten here? He had been forced to back off against the very edge of a cliff, with a deadly drop to the jagged rocks below as his only option for a quicker death. He looked down briefly but had no time to consider jumping. Men were coming out of the trees now, calling his attention back as they closed in on him with weapons held ready. He gritted his teeth and forced himself to stop the involuntary tremors running up his arms from the exhaustion of battle. He tried to take a couple of deep breaths to still the burning in his lungs. His mind was reeling. He felt lightheaded from the lack of blood from his open wounds, and even shivered slightly. Then Drake saw the deadly glint of sunlight on the enemies’ blades as they approached and forced himself to focus. He took half a step back instinctively. He needed more space to fight. His foot felt the edge of the abyss behind him, however, and he knew the time for his last stand had come. His muscles tensed for the final charge.
He hefted the long spiked mace as if it weighed nothing and readied it, eyeing the closest of his attackers, a burly, overconfident man—and he suddenly rushed forward with all the mad strength his last adrenalin rush gave his body. The man saw him coming, even tried to lift his blade and cover the blow, but Drake’s strength was too great. He closed the distance between them in a second and brought his mace down in a terrible, killing arc that broke the sharp blade that had been raise to parry the attack. The mace then crashed into the shoulder of the man and shattered bone and flesh with such force that Drake’s victim was forced down into the ground and hit it with a sharp crack as his legs gave way. He was dead in an instant. Drake yanked his mace out in a splatter of warm blood, looked at the incoming wave of enemies, and hollered his defiance.
The other men stopped for an instant, reevaluating Drake’s deadliness. Behind the wall of tall trees that was the forest, the greater part of the battle raged. Drake could see smoke climbing above the canopy of tall pines from many places and hear the distant sounds of fighting. There were shouts of victorious men, and screams of men in agony. The air rang with the faint clash of metal on metal and even the distant, muffled crash of a felled tree as it hit the ground. Above them all hung the cloudy sky, and the sun, tinged with red, hidden by clouds that were not only water, but also clouds of ash.
Author: Jim Comer
Genre: Sci Fi
Word Count: 15,000
Her? Oh, young lady, I knew them all. Remember, the young Lords and Ladies, the Tekakkeepers, airkeepers, waterkeepers, all the nobles, come to Court for some years; they have since the Shaking, you know. Helps keep down revolts, almost as well as venting the compartments, and so many fewer corpses. Yes, I knew Kherlona. It was when the pipe was breached and two corridors of Tekak Nine flooded, and I took my entourage down to see the damage being repaired and greet the refugees; my aunt was carried in her chair and most of us walked, stopping to admire the pleasure gardens in Corridor Eighty-Three, the Corridor of Lilies — do they still call it that?
My tailors had sewn me a suit of cream silk, embroidered with yellow and red roses, and I wore it that day over a shirt and breeches of bleached cotton, stitched with pears and pear-blossoms, a red silk cravat, and a pair of silk stockings with clocks in purl stitch, and straw sandals. Well, one can’t wear one’s best clothes when one goes out to deal with disasters, but I did want to look nice for the people. I owe it to them, don’t you think?
Yes, my manservant Ghergis was there with me, and he wore a suit of tea-colored cotton stitched with fawn-and-peach, those curling designs everyone used to like- you only see them on old gaffers, nowadays, menfolks most as old as I am, ha ha! They put us up in the Airkeeper’s compartments some corridors further on, a cousin of the man who married my old friend Bitat, and were entertained with fights. The winner received a golden breeding-ticket, signed with my chop.
We went down to where the refugees had been housed, and the corridor had water, filthy water, all down it. Of course everything flooded, generations ago, but these days we Khefates are supposed to control it all. Makes us look bad! The girls waded, and giggled, but my breeches would have been ruined. So Kherlona shucked her overgown, a pity–it was rust-colored cotton with kekkety-work on the hem and cuffs, and she wore it over a white linen undertunic, with blue petticoats, and she said, since she needed no over-gown in this corridor, would I walk on hers, and keep my stockings dry? She was carrying a book in her pocket, I recall. I told her that she had best not hope I’d grant her a golden breeding-ticket, and we laughed. We ate together that night with the court who traveled with me, and each gave half our plate to the refugee children, who came to be presented to us.
Author: Jonah Bergan
Title: Off-World Invasion – Webisode 1 The Risky Belle
Genre: Sci Fi
Characters: Mixed (note this first websiode does not have LGBT characters)
Word Count: 4,000
Before the bombardment, the warships of the Sisterhood passed over the town of Bishop, and the townsfolk came out of their homes and shops, gathering in the street to watch them pass. The massive battleships and carriers and troop transports made an awful sound—like thunder that rolled and rolled and didn’t seem inclined to end. Dozens of gunships swarmed like insects between the capital ships—it was a spectacle and it was deafening and the people of Bishop watched it happen.
In a way, it was almost a relief to have all the fear and worry set aside at last. The war had lasted a good thirty years. That’s a long time to worry, and a long time to fear what might come, and long time to hope for what might not. It’s a long time for any kind of suffering, and if one thing was true, wars don’t just happen out there somewhere between the stars—they happen inside each and every heart and mind and soul, and with the worst of what might have happened happening in the sky above them, the people of Bishop watched as the war they had endured for so very long finally ended in defeat.
The town of Bishop wasn’t much, and hadn’t ever been much, and so the ships passed it by. Bishop was too small and too poor and the Sisterhood would get to it soon enough. It squatted on a patch of muddy ground west of the Lazy River—a collection of tired one and two story buildings with a wide muddy rut called Main Street running between them. Jensen Trammel, back when he was a young man, and still thought himself witty, once commented that Main Street might only be considered a street because the buildings to either side faced it. “Otherwise,” he said, “it’d just be a stretch of mud, better avoided than followed.” That got a laugh in the Dusk Tavern, as his wit often did, as long as he had money to spend anyhow. His father paid his bills, so he bought rounds of drinks and preened at the idea of how well-liked he was.
Back then, most of the buildings along Main Street had been taverns—dance halls and saloons catering to one taste or another, and most of the patrons were ranchers—horsemen and cattlemen, shepherds and slavers. There was a general store and a smithy, and supply depot for grains and tools. An older woman named Sheila Tumpt bought up the Barley House in the North end—a fine old lady of a house that had seen better days. She cleaned the place up and made it into a combination Inn and brothel where patrons could rent a room and a slave or two to help make their stay more comfortable. She named it the Risqué Belle, but the sign painter got it wrong, and when they revealed it at a little ceremony during the grand opening, it showed the name of the place as the “Risqey Belle” and before long that’s what everyone in town started calling her. “Hey, Risky,” they’d shout, “How’s busy-ness?” It wasn’t mean-spirited, when they’d tease her like that. They weren’t ever mean-spirited where one of their own was concerned. They laughed because it was funny, and they’d say it in the first place because they never thought it was quite right for a woman to run a business. It just seemed a little strange—a little off for a woman to do a man’s work that way, but they didn’t hold it against her.
This is a tie-in to Off World.
Author: Heather Rose Jones
Title: The Mazarinette and the Musketeer
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Word Count: 19,500
If it weren’t for the wager, Julie d’Aubigny would never have contemplated the mad scheme. And that was saying a great deal, for Julie had not merely considered, but engaged in many a mad scheme in her fifteen years.
“I can,” she cried, emphasizing the claim with a feint toward Serannes’ shoulder, “and I will!” She finished with a complex pass and a triumphant touch.
He saluted her victory with an infuriating grin. “Your father may have taught you to ride and to fence and to shoot, but nothing–not even your noble lover’s influence–could put you in the uniform of the Musketeers of the Guard. That you are a girl is only the greatest of the bars. You haven’t the letters of recommendation nor the income. It isn’t enough to flourish a sword prettily!”
If any other man but the fencing master had smirked at her in that fashion, she would have challenged him on the instant. Serannes did it only to goad her into mistakes.
“And how certain are you that I would fail?” Julie asked with what she knew to be a winning smile. It had won her the adoration of the Comte d’Armagnac, but she was uncertain of its efficacy on her current opponent.
Serannes turned serious. “I had the great honor to train under the late Captain d’Artagnan, the greatest of the Musketeers. I do not take such matters lightly.” A hint of the smile returned, not a smirk this time but a challenge. “Let us say that I am certain enough that you may name the forfeit.”