What others are saying…
“Lonnie, Me and the Hound of Hell by Marian Allen is a fun and interesting series of short stories. Some are set in the present day, some in some other world. All have great characters and compelling plots. Many of the protagonists have interesting points of view. I bought it to read on my iPhone saving each story for when I needed something interesting to read. It was difficult not to rush through each story in one sitting. If I did that though, I’d be without reading material. I recommend this great read. Check out her novel, Eel’s Reverence.”
“I’m more than delighted to read all of Marian Allen’s stories. What do zombies, wolves, donkeys, and a parakeet have in common? You’ve just got to read Lonnie, Me, and the Hound of Hell to find out. Unbelievable mix of characters. She used a great wit and skill to pull them all together. I’m a big fan of Joseph Campbell’s, but to package his ideas with a crocodile! What a wonderfully bizarre and pleasing way of taking the hero’s journey. I suspect we will be seeing a lot more of Marian Allen.”
“My advice is, just get the e-book for yourself, especially if you like animals – priced at $1.49 on Smashwords it’s a true bargain. Just don’t expect to read Dick and Jane and Spot. These are not those kinds of creatures.”
“These are little gems of stories, written in sparkling prose. Although I don’t usually read fantasy and such, I even enjoyed every one of these stories. Superb job, even the unpublished are well-edited and a joy to read. (And I’m a person who gets frustrated by and stumbles over editing errors–can’t find any here!)”
- Lonnie, Me and the Hound of Hell
- When Tiny’s best friend, Lonnie, tries to trade two minutes’ worth of his soul for a long-shot winner in the Kentucky Derby, both men wind up with more than Lonnie bargained for.
Lonnie picked up a chunk of wood from the debris pile and chucked it at the mongrel.
The dog caught the chunk. Then, real slow, he shambled over to Lonnie and dropped it.
Lonnie goggled at the wood, then at the dog, then at me. He pointed a trembling finger at the dog’s toothmarks. “Lookit that! Scorched!”
I looked. “Lonnie, damn near every piece of wood that’s left outta that shed is scorched. What are you saying?”
“I’m saying the Devil had this big mean grin just before he blew up my shed. Tiny–I believe he left this dog on me. I mean, look at that dog! Sweet Jesus!”
The mutt huffed and grumbled, and ambled around past the carport and into the alley.
“You see that? You see how the name of the Lord drove him hence?”
“He just got bored because you didn’t throw the stick again.”
“No. No, he–What’s this?” Lonnie snagged another chunk of wood and prodded a piece of paper on the concrete between us. “It flew out when that hell-hound shook itself.”
I picked up the paper. It was covered in bristly black hairs, and it was folded skinny and creased in the middle, like it had been tucked through a link in the dog’s collar.
I unfolded it and read aloud:
“This dog is yours.”
~ ~ * ~ ~
- Balance of Power
- Everything has a price; even magic. Especially magic. “Balance of Power” originally appeared in OnSpec Spring 2006, #64 vol 18 no 1
Shisha was drowning herself when she met Gwenna and Toby. She was trying to drown herself and failing, so Gwenna’s sending Toby to haul her from the muddy stream was both unwelcome and unnecessary. She struggled fiercely until he dropped her face-down next to a blanket, and a softer hand than his touched her and a tender voice bid her to rest. Then she rolled onto her back in submission.
“She’s a Creature.” Toby folded his more than six feet of tight muscle into a benign squat by her side.
“Poor thing.” Gwenna touched her again, with a gentleness the Creature had never known.
Shisha glistened in the dappled light of the woods, her silvery scales slightly iridescent even where the water had dried from them. Her cheeks showed a rosy tinge, as did her short hair, which stuck out in spikes. She had no breasts, no apparent sexual characteristics, but the roundness of her limbs and a slightly feminine shape to her body marked her as having been formed from a female of her species. She had no navel, no eyebrows, no nails on fingers or toes. She gazed from Toby to Gwenna and back, round gray eyes blinking with rosy lids, thin rosy lips parted to show two rows of tiny needle teeth.
“Fish.” Toby flicked a black-nailed finger toward the sides of Shisha’s neck. “Gills, you see?”
The Creature made a sound blended of hiss and click. Freshwater tears ran down the sides of her face, past her undersized ears.
~ ~ * ~ ~
- Mr. Farrel
- A young girl is terrorized, with only two pet mice to help her. “Mr. Farrel” originally appeared in GHOST WRITERS 1995
I was sitting in the front room playing paper dolls when a shadow came between the porch light and the door. Our front door was made up of little squares of glass in a wooden frame, with a white curtain inside to keep people from seeing in. I could see a man silhouetted against that white curtain. I heard a heavy fist thump on the door frame and I knew Mr. Farrel was outside.
“Jo!” he bawled. “Jooooo! I know yer in there! You come on out to me!”
It scared me half to death. I thought if Mom and Granny-Jo came back while he was there he might hurt them. So I did what we never did when we were all huddled together listening to him: I answered him.
“She isn’t here, Grandpa.”
He was quiet for a minute, then he thumped the door again.
“Shame on you, gettin’ a little child to tell a lie for you! God’ll damn you for that, Jo! You claim to be a Christian!”
“It’s true, Grandpa,” I said. “Nobody’s making me say anything. I’m here all by myself.”
I could have bitten my tongue off when I said that. I remember I started trembling so hard I ripped the paper dress I was holding right in half.
“In that case,” he said, “I guess I’ll come in and wait.”
~ ~ * ~ ~
- The Damned Place Was Full of Crocodiles
- A journalist, a scholar and a first-person narrator find themselves on the banks of the river Styx. “The Damned Place Was Full of Crocodiles” originally appeared in Song of the Siren (now closed) 2003
I was with Professor Campbell and Mr. Moyers, who might have been chatting in a studio for all the notice they took of the very sharp teeth very close by.
On the near bank, a dog with three heads barked at us in close harmony, like a ’30’s movie they never made, The Andrews Sisters Go to Hell. On the far bank, a ferryman stood up in his boat, thumbed his nose at us, and wiggled his backside. Childish.
There goes your tip, I called over to him. No pennies for you!
He stuck out his tongue and turned his back to us.
Now what are you going to do when you need a ride? Mr. Campbell asked. Golden boughs don’t grow on trees, you know.
Moyers and I exchanged looks and made good one signs to each other.
A couple of the crocodiles got into a deep philosophical discussion with one another, and one of them didn’t come back up.
They looked dangerous, and I said so.
Nothing to worry about. Mr. Campbell’s eyes twinkled reassuringly. They’re only literary crocodiles.
They must use waterproof ink.
Be Your Own Three-Hole Punch, said Moyers, and we all cracked up.
The biggest, scaliest, toothiest croc of them all–nine meters if he was an inch–clumped up on the bank and hissed. I watched with interest, certain he would make for the three-headed dog. Instead, he lunged at me. In vain I protested that I was unfit for human sacrifice, being neither young nor a virgin, but he didn’t seem particular.
~ ~ * ~ ~
- Dog Star
- When two dogs find a Thing in the woods, they hope it contains something to eat. Instead, they rescue an alien on the lam from a world of boring food. “Dog Star” originally appeared in NOVEL INGREDIENTS (Southern Indiana Writers) 2003 Also appeared electronically in World Wide Recipes newsletter and on WWR site 2/17/2003
“It’s moving,” Fiona muttered between bared teeth.
Help me, said a voice inside my head.
“Did you hear that?” I asked Fiona. She growled in reply.
Gingerly, I nosed through the debris.
“Careful–careful….” I did not need Fiona’s soft woofs to remind me, but I did appreciate them. She is a good dog to have at one’s back, all in all.
I found the living thing in the ruins. It was about Fiona’s size, wrapped in a cocoon of cloth.
Thank you, I heard. You have saved me. Opening mechanism jammed. Starving in there. Starving now. Help….
“It wants to eat us,” Fiona said.
“Wants a bite, anyway.”
No…. Must be cooked. Must have plumage.
“It only eats chicken,” I said.
Fiona wagged her stumpy tail in understanding. “I knew a poodle like that once. You only like it boiled?”
~ ~ * ~ ~
- A Devouring Passion
- Why does old Mother Dru insist on leaving her kitchen to accompany the royal party on The Great Hunt?
The screaming dogs fell silent, only an occasional whimper threading back to the waiting company.
Mother Dru’s head throbbed with the power loosed today. The power and the prey.
Damn them! The fae bastards!
“The dogs have taken the scent,” she said. “Tibalt–” Her throat convulsed and she gagged, feeling her tongue cleave to the roof of her mouth. Forbidden to speak of what I most need to tell. Damn the fae!
Tibalt dragged his attention from the invisible, hushed hounds. “What is it? What’s wrong?”
The boy is useless. It’s up to me.
She slipped into the woods, not looking to see if Tibalt followed. No need–she could hear him thundering behind her through the undergrowth. She gathered her skirts with one hand and used the other to shield her face as she circled the hounds where they fidgeted and whined. They yelped as she rustled past them, Tibalt blundering in her wake, but Waldon called his charges to silence.
“Hold for it, lads and lasses,” he said, and then Mother Dru was ahead and off to the west.
She ran, sure-footed, as she hadn’t run for years. She leapt a rivulet, her boots squelching into the mud as she landed on the far side.
At last she came to a dell, carpeted with the blue and yellow of wild indigo. On the far side, a rocky brow overhung a shallow grotto. Here, she stopped, ribcage heaving, heart pounding.
~ ~ * ~ ~
- Seeking Shadow
- What do you do when your daughter is due home and her cat has been missing for days? You do whatever it takes, that’s what. “Seeking Shadow” originally appeared in PanGaia #33 Autumn 2002
“Did you let him in last night?” I asked. It had rained in the early morning, and the temperature had dropped into the fifties. I shivered and hugged myself as I stood in the back doorway.
“No, I thought you did.” My husband sounded vague behind his newspaper, the way he does when he isn’t listening to himself talk.
“Well, where is he?” I peered as far into the distance as the trees surrounding our house would let me.
“How do I know? I’m not a psychic.” He lowered the paper. “Say, why don’t you ask one of your Time-O’-Days?”
I gave him A Look. “I am not in the mood for levity.” I had recently “met” several Wiccans online, in a religious diversity chat room. One called herself Twilight and another went by Evensong. My husband, in a good-natured but mistaken attempt at humor, called them my Time-O’-Days. He had asked me if I planned to change my name, and I told him it depended on whether or not I could find one that meant “married to a horse’s ass.”
~ ~ * ~ ~
- High Stakes
- When Vlad the Roumanian “asks” you to do something, you do it, even if he asks you to go where the sun shines bright and see why his horses are suddenly losing all their races. “High Stakes” originally appeared in Peridot, now Allegory 2001. Written with apologies to Damon Runyon, author of “Guys and Dolls”, among many other pieces.
Vlad the Roumanian has a reputation in our town–which can be a very useful thing to have, indeed.
He leans forward and motions for me to lean forward as well. Getting closer to Vlad the Roumanian is not a thing I would wish to do, if I were given three wishes by the Blue Fairy, but I am not such a chump as to say no to anything Vlad the Roumanian proposes, and I lean forward as invited.
“I wish to impart a secret,” he says, very low. “This secret is not to leave this shop except inside your head. If this secret ever gets out of your head and into somebody else’s ears, then I will know that your head does not work properly, and it will be no loss to you if I remove it. Understood?”
I nod the object under discussion.
“Very well,” he says. “The secret is this: Somebody is cheating me. When a guy has been in action as many long years as I have, some people think he may be starting to miss a few marbles, maybe that he is beginning to lose his grip.”
Vlad the Roumanian wraps one of his hands, which are more like talons, around a heavy glass candle holder with the crescent moon etched on it ($9.95 plus tax), which happens to be lit, and crushes it into shards and powder and wax. The candle flame burns for a few seconds, poking up from his fist, with melted wax running over his knuckles, then the flame flickers and dies.
“Such people,” he continues, picking splinters of glass out of his hand and using them to scrape off the cooling wax, “are mistaken.”
- ~ ~ * ~ ~
- I said, “What shall I write about?” Someone said, “Donkeys vs Zombies.” Someone said, “I dreamed a dog got in the house with my parakeet and he ate him.” Someone said, “The lost colony of Roanoak.” “Sledgehammer” originally appeared on Goodreads.
Smudge pushed aside my earflap and foraged for seed in my ear. He had never found any there, but he never gave up hope.
I picked up my pace a little, heartened to see a clear space ahead. The woods dropped behind me as I stepped out into a snow-covered landscape. The snow was deep–the tops of bushes stuck above the surface like the hair of drowning men–but the surface was crusted over. A thin powdery fall lay over the crust and whirled in the wind.
It was impossible that I should not look back to see if my company would follow me into the open.
They did: a troop of shambling, shuffling, gray-faced animated corpses–a rotting double-handful of zombies kicking through the snow powder like so many sullen toddlers. Their clothes hung from their meat-crusted bones in rags and tatters, but a shoe-buckle here and the ruins of an apron or cap there spoke of the sixteenth century.
Another howl, closer.
I turned from the woods, and saw a wonderful thing: a heavy wooden sledge harnessed to a pair of sturdy donkeys. I knew those donkeys from a picture on my great-grandfather’s wall. They were his grandfather’s, Nicolai and Gogol, from the old country.
~ ~ * ~ ~
- Mr. Sugar versus the Martians
- Mr. Sugar, a neutered gay white Persian cat, teams with Mrs. DiMarco, the woman with the bluest language and the deadliest throwing arm in the neighborhood, to thwart an alien plot.
“Mrs. DiMarco!” I said. “You can see the cage!”
The bi-color gasped. “What was that?”
“That was a cat, fool,” said Mrs. DiMarco. “Are you deaf, too? And pipe down–you want to wake up the Screamer? You want to get her started again?”
“What’s a cat doing in here?” Bi-color whispered. “Are they cat-like aliens? Is that why they have us in cages? Are they going to keep us for pets?”
“They are not like cats,” Mrs. DiMarco said with a weariness that told me she had spent more time than I would care to in Bi-color’s company. “They are little green men, and if I can get out of this goddamn cage, I’m going to kick their little green butts.”
“Little green men? Oh, God!” Bi-color squeaked. “They’re going to use us for breeding experiments!”
Mrs. DiMarco and I snorted in unison. “Good freakin’ luck,” she said. “I had a hysterectomy ten years ago.”