Prodigal Son

“Hark!” exclaimed Lord Pennyfeather, grabbing the arm of his trusty valet Thimble. “Dost I hear the clattering of hooves approaching our gates?”

“Aye, m’lord.” Thimble replied. “A rider approaches.”

“Who is it? Is it Archibald? Has he returned at last?” Lord Pennyfeather sounded expectant, straining his milky white eyes in a vain effort to see the mounted visitor.

“It is indeed, m’lord. Lord Archibald has come home from the war. But he’s not the same man he was, I’m afraid.”

“Ah. Of course.” Lord Pennyfeather’s bony shoulder slumped and he hung his head in relfection. “The ravages of war can break even the most hardened warriors. Such carnage and devastation wreaked upon sons and brothers who fight for some unseen glory. My poor boy. Who knows what horrors he hath witnessed on the field of battle that would have changed him so.”

Thimble fidgeted, looking back and forth between his master and the young man who was now outside the gates.

“Uhh no, m’lord,” he said, twiddling his thumbs nervously. “That’s not quite what I meant. I wasn’t referring to a psychological or mental change. No sir. Lord Archibald is not the same man in a more literal sense.”

Lord Pennyfeather’s bushy eyebrows leaped up to his crinkled forehead in surprise.

“Whatever do you mean, Thimble? I pray, speak not in riddles, my most loyal friend. Tell me, how has my son changed?”

Thimble paused a moment, deciding how best to break the news, settling for the most direct approach in the end.

“Well, he’s a zombie, m’lord.”

“Oh.” Lord Pennyfeather’s brows now came together in conference as he considered this vital bit of information. “Well, seal the gates and shoot the bugger. No point getting everyone else infected.”

A to Z Challenge: Zero

z

 

Zero.

Zip.

Zilch.

No matter how much he thought about it or how many hours he spent staring at his monitor, Zach just could not think of a good way to end his story.

The plot had hurtled along at breakneck speed, all the major conflicts in the plot had been resolved and his protagonists had emerged victorious but forever changed by their experiences. How could Zach best convey the end of their journey (while teasing the possible beginning of many others)?

He had absolutely no idea.

There had to be something spectacular about it, something that would leave the reader gasping for more. Some sort of hook. Some –

Zach looked up, startled by the creaking of his study door as it opened and an unexpected visitor stepped through.

He gasped in disbelief.

“You?!”

A to Z Challenge: Soap

s

 

This is the story of Sybil St. Clair, heiress to the vast St. Clair publishing fortune. Her father, Gerard St. Clair, is the owner of several newspapers, magazines, two new channels and a website. Her mother, Virgina St. Clair, passed away when Sybil was a young girl. A despondent Gerard threw himself into his work to cope with his loss, leaving Sybil to be raised by their family butler Clarence and housekeeper Mrs. Finchley.

On the eve of Sybil’s 15th birthday, Gerard met a beautiful young woman named Tabitha. Within months, they were married, and Tabitha, who wasn’t really the maternal type, begrudgingly accepted Sybil as her stepdaughter. Whatever helped her hold onto Gerard’s fortune.

Sybil kept a distance between herself and her stepmother while yearning to be closer to her father. But, she also had to navigate adolescence and school life at the Frampton Academy with her two best friends, Allison Davenport and Deirdre Holliday. Plus, there was her unrequited crush on Kyle Barlow, future inheritor of Barlow Hotel Group. Sybil had fawned over him for almost five years now, but in spite of some nudging from her friends, she never said anything to him. And perhaps she wouldn’t get her chance, thanks to the arrival of the new exchange student from Switzerland, Gretchen Friedman.

Gretchen wasted no time in climbing the teenage social ladder to become the most popular girl in school. And of course, she dug her claws deep into Kyle’s heart, so that Sybil became nothing more than a shadow to him.

Tabitha, meanwhile, was growing increasingly impatient. Along with her brother Talbot, she agonized over the fastest way to take over Gerard’s media empire. A skiing accident? A poisoning at a charity benefit? Perhaps a boring old home invasion? She knew she had to think of something fast. Sybil was becoming a woman, after all. At last, Tabitha formed a plan. A car crash. Simple, but so very effective.

And so it came to pass. Gerard St. Clair was involved in a fatal car crash. Sybil’s entire life was upended. Clarence and Mrs. Finchley did what they could to console her, but it was no use. Tabitha put on the guise of the dutiful widow. Gerard’s funeral was attended by hundreds, from extended to family to friends to old business associates. And there was another unexpected guest. Gerard’s estranged twin brother, Jerome.

It had been twenty years since Gerard and Jerome had last spoken, yet there he was, paying respects to his dead brother. That wasn’t the only reason, of course. He wanted his share of his brother’s inheritance. And more…

Who will win in a clash between Jerome and Tabitha? Will Sybil ever tell Kyle how she feels, or will she lose him to Gretchen forever? Will Deirdre ever solve the mystery of her haunted mansion? Will Clarence be rescued from his alien abductors?

Stay tuned to find out!