The Bride

By Alana Ranger

She ran her fingers over the silky fabric of the wedding dress, her eyes on the full-length mirror attached to the wardrobe door. Downstairs was quiet, her guests presumably waiting for her to make her appearance. She had wondered at first if inviting them round, all together, had been a mistake. Her parents and soon to be parents-in-law around one table could easily have spelled disaster, but the afternoon had gone better than she could have hoped. Damien knew nothing of the meeting, of course. She had taken advantage of his weekend work-outing to have both sets of parents see her dress with their own eyes, instead of the rather poor-quality photo she had sent them. Perhaps then they would stop complaining about it. One less thing for them to harp on about was very welcome.

At first, planning the wedding was easy. She’d never found organising large events to be a problem and the amount of stress she had heard other brides went through to achieve their perfect day, she had expected there to be more to do. She had a venue booked, menus set, transport arranged, decorations taken care of and the dress fitted inside of a month. Everything else fell into place and all was in hand.

It was when the dress was readied was when the problems started. She had gone into the bridal shop and tried it on after the latest round of alterations, and happy with the final result had sent photographs to hers and Damien’s parents. Their initial responses were of delight. A week or so later her mother asked her, over a cup of coffee, if she thought the neckline of the dress was too low. It was a day after that Damien’s mother had asked if she thought it appropriate to show so much cleavage. She had been a little paranoid since then, wondering if both sets of parents were communicating secretly while maintaining the pretence of never having met, because since then they had been united in their criticisms. The venue was too small and too badly lit, the cars weren’t ‘good’ enough –

“They’re a bit scruffy, don’t you think? A Rolls Royce is what you want. More fitting to a wedding,” Damien’s father had said and his mother followed this with a complaint about the ‘tacky’ decorations.

The menu argument was the last straw. She had presented both sets of parents with a menu, advising that meals had to be chosen before the day. Damien’s mother had merely sniffed at her choices, but her own mother had gone into a full-blown rant.

“Mini-quiche! As a starter?” she’d sneered.

“I like mini-quiche.”

“This is a wedding, not a food court! That is a buffet food. Not a starter.”

“It’s part of the buffet platter. I like it,” she said, and had taken a few deeps breaths to keep herself calm. “It’s a sharing dish, you see. I think it’s romantic.”

“It’s ridiculous. Why not consider another menu? You don’t have to change it, just have a look and see what else there is. See if you can find something more suitable.”

Her mother picked out a meal for herself anyway, while urging her daughter to look around for other options. It was only minutes after that minor fiasco she decided to return to the dress, continuing her insistence that she reconsider the style and buy a new one. Out came pictures from her over-sized handbag of a dress that her mother considered more suitable. Pushing aside the hurt, she instead arranged a home viewing for them. After all, the photo she had sent didn’t do the dress justice.

It was silky and soft, as smooth as water. She was a princess – a queen – in a dress like this. With a deep breath, she left her room and went downstairs into the kitchen, where she was greeted with astonished silence.

“It’s much better in person, don’t you think?” she said, running her hands over the skirt. She couldn’t help herself. The feel of the fabric on her fingers was beautiful. “I think we can agree….”

She held her hands up as her mother’s mouth opened.

“Please. Let me say what I have to say.”

She took another breath, smiling to herself. She had really out-done herself this time. Not a word came from the table.

“I think we can agree, now, that the dress is fine. Now, the menu. I know you aren’t all happy with it…”

Again, she held up her hands.

“Please! I’m almost finished. I’ve also arranged for us to have a taste of what they have on offer. The buffet selection will be ready very soon. Once you’ve tried it, I know you’ll love it.”

A line of drool left the corner of her soon to be mother-in-law’s mouth, her eyelids drooping. She frowned, her hands on her hips. Perhaps she had gone a little overboard with the tablets she poured into their drinks. Counting them out might had been a better idea. Still, she thought, there was no reason to worry. The woman was still alive and well. It would just be a while before she was capable of tasting anything she was presented with.

“Now, I hope you appreciate with what we’ve spent on the wedding, I couldn’t afford to go all out on ingredients for this little taster session. The reception will be much better, they’ll be using the best quality, but for today I’ve had to settle for a little cheaper. That, and the food at the reception won’t have had quite so many drugs pumped into it. I’m sorry about that, by the way.” Running her fingers over the dress one more time, she stepped toward the kitchen cupboard and brought out the axe she had stored there. It had been surprisingly easy to find, something that almost all the hardware shops she had visited kept. She had chosen a dainty-looking one, with a white edge to the blade which she had then spent several hours sharpening. Hefting it in both hands, she approached her mother, ignoring the low whine that came from her father. He was in no position to do anything and didn’t deserve her attention anyway. The way he had sat back and allowed her mother’s bullying to go on still hurt.

“I’ll try to make this as nice as what we’ll get on the day, but you must understand I’m neither a butcher or a chef. I have the recipe, and it calls for chicken but I simply couldn’t get any with what I had in my budget. So, I’ll be using a substitute.”


Read Staff Coffee here


Press F5 to Load Game

* * * * * * * * * 9/10

LeVar Ravel

24740309The concept here is brilliant. Using time travel to win an election… I mean, it’s not something that would have occurred to me, that with a time machine I could make sure ‘my’ guy always wins. It has occurred to Frannie Upwood, who works toward that goal, while Lars Uxbridge tags along for the ride in the hopes that he can get the time gadget away from her.
I love the way the machine works, like saving a computer game, and I love the characters. Lars is such a small-minded, petty fool and yet there is still room for him to grow, if he can just let his greed go. Frannie is far too nice for her own good, and completely unaware of Lars’ desire to put her out the picture. Someone here has no idea of what’s in store for them.


Born a Zpeg

By Paula Louise Shene

Edith, as usual, was sitting at her workstation daydreaming when Joe strode in.

“What are you doing with our life credits?” he bellowed. “Are you aiming for us to be Zpegged, woman?”

Edith, a placid soul, did not yell back. She realized that Joe needed to ‘let off steam’ and the only thing he ever hurt was her eardrums. She’d need to Zpeg up some mufflers one of these days  if she remembered. While Edith had a calm disposition, she appeared to be a bit of a ditz when it came to following through on everyday life.

“Honey, Sweetheart, whatever is the problem, now?” Edith calmly asked.

“Don’t Honey, Sweetheart me. You know what I’m talking about! Your new toy in the driveway, you know, the one with the four, no make that five wheels! And a million credits price tag! That’s what I’m talking about!” Joe said in his usual volume… loud.

Edith chuckled, “Oh, that, the Z. I was sitting here thinking about how much you loved that old Nissan and I wanted to get you a …”

“A one-way trip to the zpegs farm?” Joe mockingly asked.

Edith straightened up from the slouch she usually favored. Looking Joe full in the eye, she says, “I think it’s time I explained some fundamental Zpeg facts to you Joe. You’ve always said I was good with figures, so I was the one to take care of our life credits. Isn’t that so?”

“Yeah, yeah. So, talk.” This better be good, Joe thought.

With an absent look in her eyes, Edith softly said, “In a far off galaxy, long, long ago. Oops, that’s another story. Ah hmm, when the Zpegs, which are pearl-like spheres that can be anything came on the market, it was touted to DO so many things and BE so many things. It was to be the last in the line of all the pegs from A to Z.  Just so… It was to be the last in the line of all the pegs, ‘From A to Zpegs ~ Whatever Your Heart Desires’ was its selling slogan. Well, I got to thinking about that, their slogan. If a Zpegs could do or be anything, why not start with it being a Zpegs womb?”

Joe hissed, “So, you’re saying all of the things we’ve got came from the Zpegs’ womb? You’re telling me we’ve got a bunch of little Zpegs running around?”

Smiling, Edith said, “Yup. And before you start thinking we’re violating patenting laws – I looked up our contract with all its fine print, even the fine print that had fine print. Ran it through the ‘Legalese program’ and nada, zilch, zero, nothing, zot, zip and all those other words for naught came out. We can use the Zpegs for anything. A surrogate womb I figured was the best I could do for the 100,000,000 credits. A one-time deal and we can have anything we want.”

“Hallelujah!” shouted Joe as he ran to try out his new ‘Z,’ sitting in the driveway.

Edith thought those ear mufflers better be the next thing on her list to be born.


~ Originally appeared in WIP form on the Bookrix site ~



Paula Louise Shene took to writing after forced retirement.  A former college administrator and business owner whose hours are now filled caring for a disabled husband, and tapping away at the keys taking her into a saner reality.  She writes children’s stories under Paula Shene where she also writes under the banner of The Peacock Writers, a group dedicated to charity.  PC Shene is her name for Scifi/Fantasy/Adventure.