Sheila Deeth describes herself as a Mongrel Christian
Mathematician and writes fiction with hints of fact, faith,
science, fantasy and more. Find out more about Sheila on her
about-me page: http://about.me/sheiladeeth
Congratulations to Sheila for being in the 2011
Preditors and Editors top ten SF/Fantasy Short Story Category for
email Sheila here: firstname.lastname@example.org
New Title(s) from Sheila Deeth
Click on the thumbnail(s) above to learn more about the book(s) listed.
||Rivers are drying and crops are dying, but children run
and play in the fields, and think they might even enjoy
setting monsters free. Of course, the parents won’t approve,
but that’s the least of their problems, come the flood.
Next time he wakes, the young man remembers running in
different fields. But he still can’t catch the girl, or find
how to stay in one place. Loves proves as elusive as gold at
rainbow’s end, and time slips through his fingers once
Maybe it’s fate. Maybe fame and fortune have something in
mind. Or maybe when time finally runs out someone else might
help him find what he’s looking for.
Pages to Print:
Raven and the Writing Desk
The Dubious Disciple
|History records a British queen Boudicca in 60 AD
leading the Celtic tribes against Rome after her daughters
were denied their inheritance. Meanwhile, legend tells of
Joseph of Arimathea bringing the Holy Grail to Britain’s
shores. Black Widow combines legend, history, faith and
fantasy, in a tale of Boudicca’s sister, enamored with
visions of a strange blue man with mystical powers. As
Romans bring their peace and laws, the stranger inspires the
Iceni to compromise. And as Joseph brings his foreign god,
the stranger seeks a balance between old and new. But when
all is lost, love turns sour and the lonely princess weaves
a web of deceit to draw her lover back, plotting vengeance
through the passage of years and generations.
Pages to Print:
Reviews by Aubrie
P. L. Compton
Summit Book Reviews
miscarries her first pregnancy it feels like the end of
everything; instead it’s the start of a curious relationship
between the grieving mother and an unborn child who hovers
somewhere between ghost and angel. Angela, Megan’s “little
angel,” has character and dreams all her own, friends who
may or may not be real angels, and a little brother who
brings hope to her mother’s world. But Angela’s dream-world
has a secret and one day Angela might learn how to be real.
Word Count: 15500
Pages to Print: 54
File Format: PDF
Community Book Stop
We played in the fields that day.
The grass was brittle, dry as sand underfoot, but if we ran we
could hide the hunger in our bellies, burying it under shouts of
laughter and games.
Put’s granddad was still working, hammering, banging, yelling
insults at everyone. His Uncle Shem was busy with the animals,
and some of us kids thought we’d try to open the gate. It feels
odd now. What on earth did we think we’d do? Kids with limbs
like twigs and sticks versus monsters from fairy-tales?
I remember the dust in my nose. It smelled like food, like
dinner undercooked, like coats grown stiff in winter. Not that
my memories of winter were clear, since the sun had been heating
up every year, and the river had turned to a trickle made mostly
of dirt. Some of our houses were falling down, the mortar too
dry to hold, brittle like twigs and thin like our arms, hot as a
kitchen oven used too long.
The monsters though—the monsters in Put’s granddad’s field
were just fine. Nobody knew where he’d gathered them from. We
hardly recognized some, creatures from nightmares and dreams
penned in amongst sheep and cows.
But I’m running away with myself. That’s not the right place
to start. That’s not how it began.
We played in the fields, like I said, and we opened the gate.
I remember the rope scratching my hand and the splinters of wood
snatching my fingers as they slid back. I remember shrieks of
laughter turning to billowing noise when the monsters gave
voice. The air began to boil over the fence, dusted with sweaty
clouds of earth churned by creatures. And then my foot slipped.
I caught my breath, sure I was going to be trampled in the rush.
My body flailed, arms and legs swinging round and down ‘til my
head banged hard and my eyes saw stars.
That’s where I wanted to start, with starlight twinkling
overhead, holes in the sky like eyes so far and wary, as if the
monsters there were watching me. I’m lying in a bed that’s not
mine, covered over with a quilt and a smell like grandmother’s
thumbprints pressing me down. When I move I feel like I’m stuck
to the straw so I try to peel myself off. I should be peeling
strands from my arm and my head, but I’m too confused and end up
trying to separate fingers from knees. Then I fall to the floor
and notice it’s rough like wood instead of smoothly polished
with trailing dust. I see stars like eyes so very far away. Did
I say that before?
I woke, except I knew in my heart I couldn’t have been awake.
The eyes in the sky; the blanket of blue printed with white—if I
was in bed I had to have been inside. But a bed with a
grandmother’s quilt and bits of straw, they’re all parts of my
memory jumbled up. Red blood on the straw with pricks of yellow
splinters scratching me; did the splinters make me bleed?
At some point my head stopped rocking from side to side. I
realized then the ground had come unmoored. I could feel the
world tipping over and back. It almost overbalanced then settled
with a quivering shake like fear. I felt dizzy. I think I threw
up, adding more color to pallet and quilt. I guess you didn’t
really want to know that.
I heard voices, though the roaring in my ears made them
faint. I’d hit my head so hard the bones were still screaming.
“Shem, get that gate closed.”
Perhaps I was dreaming. Perhaps we were still in the field.
“Shem! Now!” A woman’s voice shouted, then three younger
women. How did I know there were three? It just felt like three.
Do you ever wonder how some things seem so clear when others are
vague? It’s the obvious that fades. I fell asleep again.
Put’s voice was the next to speak to me. I must have fallen
out of bed and he was lifting me back. His arms felt like they’d
break under my weight and my body hung loose over them like a
sack of seed when the crop’s burned dry.
“You okay mate?” he asked.
I replied with a grunt. My brain couldn’t furnish the words.
“You know what happened?”
Really? I’d kind of hoped he might tell me.
“You know where you are?” I knew I wasn’t lying in my own
bed; that was certain, for sure.
The world rocked round me again. The roaring grew louder. I
realized now the sounds weren’t just echoes in my head. The air
was filling with angry noise, shrieks and groans, screams of
people, and shouts of monster-breath. Faraway crashes reminded
me how the creatures had trampled me.
Later, Put’s mother dripped water on my head, as cool as
memory. She had a damp cloth hanging from her hand. When the
drips hit my nose I spluttered and shuddered awake.
“Lie still young man.”
“Why?” I asked, glad to find my mouth was finally remembering
how to speak.
“You’ll fall over.”
“Over the edge.”
“Over the edge of what?”
The roaring threatened to drown everything out so I didn’t
hear her answer.
When Put’s mother had walked away I decided to get to my
feet. I wanted to prove I knew how—prove it to her? Prove it to
me?—and to prove I wouldn’t fall. I staggered while the world
rolled by, a million drunkards dancing beneath the heavenly
turtle’s back. Then I threw up again and slipped in my own mess.
The straw round me was matted. The bed was a pallet on wooden
floorboards laid out under roiling sky. So maybe I had seen
stars before, but now the heavens were gray.
Back to Refracted
| I saw him in my dreams. Mother
never believed me of course, and Boudicca just called it wishful
thinking. “We women will save the world,” she said, “not
warriors in woad.” But I saw him, painted blue as a soldier with
etchings of lace on his face, and I knew he’d save me, which
I saw him when the wind howled fearsome horrors outside the
camp. Dogs and wolves were yowling our defense. Winter’s storms
were the promise of war in spring, while branches and stones
tapped and tore at the tent’s fabric walls. My eyes were closed
and I was sleeping in, pretending safety lay in ignorance. But I
heard the noise, and behind it all, in dreams perhaps, I heard
screams, the crackle of fire, and slow firm footsteps scarily
heralding an enemy’s approach.
The first time I saw him, the spider-web of chain-mail hadn’t
yet appeared. I didn’t even know what chainmail was, and his
skin was clear. His eyes were blue as his painted face and the
sky, and he smiled down at me.
I saw the flames behind him then—thought they’d rise and burn
his feet, but he walked straight through. The tent’s wide flap
became his door, sealing closed at his back though it surely
never really opened. I didn’t feel its breeze. Then he lay at my
side, warm as summer, and traced my face with blue fingers,
silken nails trailing like knife-blades, smoothly dangerous,
caressing my neck. He cut my clothes from me with a thought and
poured his hands on my body, outside and in, like water flowing
over and through, his tongue like the touch of fire. His fingers
strummed their music on my soul. The blue man’s strength
enveloped my skin, absorbed me into him, or him to me as he
pulsed with power. Then, when I woke, my body was pooled with
sweat of winter’s warmth and the musky scent of love.
“Nimi’s got a boyfriend,” Boudicca laughed as I cleaned and
examined myself. I threw a pillow at her, but she grabbed my
hands, her fingers strong as any boy’s and far less gentle than
his. “You don’t want to fight me,” she said, her eyes turning
suddenly fierce, and I answered no. Boudicca was my older
sister, my dearest friend, and my every-conquering foe.
The blue man was a dream back then, but war and its dangers
were real, just halted for winter. Fires burned all night in our
camp as frozen undergrowth began to green, thickening the air
with smoke from undried wood and our lungs with coughs. Guards
whooped and wailed to keep strangers and demons away. And the
daytime smoke of cooking mixed with burning and weapons and
fear. Winds of dawn bore no more peace than hollow night.
Father held a meeting to discuss how we’d defend ourselves
when the enemy came. Trackers walked the perimeter to check if
spies had been near. And I crawled among the shale and earth by
the entrance to our tent, wondering if I’d find his footprints
there. I found nothing of course. Whether stranger or demon, my
blue man passed unhindered in and out in his night-time journeys
and I was glad.
Back to Black Widow
|My mother swore she’d never lie to me.
The day I asked where babies come from she told me, beautifully
I’m sure, how they grow and mature from a seed planted by Daddy
in Mommy’s tummy. Unfortunately I heard the word “seed” and
imagination took over. I furnished a field, somewhere between
the Pearly Gates and a farmer’s fences on solid earth. Angels
stood guard, checking marriage certificates—since I knew some
babies were born out of wedlock, I imagined devils too, with a
thriving business selling fakes. Meanwhile one special angel,
the baby’s future guardian of course, would officiate while the
precious seed was gently laid to rest. God would water. Earth
and angels would nourish. And in time the happy couple would
return, cutting the cord that held the child to the ground and
raising her up—a sister for me!
I never had a sister, of course, but I was sure she existed. I
used to imagine her running between the plants, green tendrils
of flowers in her hair, forever tethered to that field, unborn,
unable to be born. I used to think my parents didn’t care, and
if only they’d just go visit one day perhaps they’d find her
Not that I spent my whole life mourning those siblings I never
had; that’s not what I mean. I just liked to complain. But I was
a happy enough kid most of the time; grew up in a happy home;
had a Dad who didn’t die ‘til I was sixteen, so I wasn’t exactly
orphaned or anything; and Mom’s still around. I played with
friends; scrambled through forests and flowers, free as a bird,
like kids can’t do now; I read books; I went to school and I
My husband David was a fellow math student I met at college
lectures. I went out with him for a while and we got married
after graduation—all the usual things; Uncle Malcolm escorted me
down the aisle to the sound of Here Comes the Bride; and we both
Happily married, contentedly productive in my chosen
occupation—writing computer programs—but sadly unproductive in
that manner husbands and wives, and potential grandparents, tend
to hope for, I trundled along, one day much like another, and
lived for my dreams. One day I found myself pregnant and
glowing, only to be totally devastated short weeks later when
the unborn baby died. I slept and screamed and wept for her, my
little girl, and drove my husband to distraction. Then, in a
moment’s incautious clarity, I was cured. What happened was I
found those childhood dreams weren’t really so far from the
truth, and I don’t care if you don’t believe me. Mom thinks I’m
mad, Uncle Malcolm tries to humor me, and David just pretends
not to hear a word I say. But there are more things in heaven
and hell than human eyes and ears can tell, and I first stopped
crying the day I met my angel, Angela.
My earliest memories are a mixture of red and green—red for
sleeping; green for awake. Nighttime was when I heard dream
voices call and oceans roar. Words weren’t something I
understood, too early then I guess, but love was sweet.
Sometimes she sang to me in her summer’s light while that darker
voice, warm as the liquid I bathed in, whispered its bass.
The roar, I guessed after a while, was just the sound of fluid
surrounding me. It tasted salty sweet and filled my eyes and
mouth and ears. My body would move sometimes, pushing wetly
against those cushioned walls that held firm, yet yielded, all
around. Then, once in a while, something would lean into me,
rocking me with that voice of love. “Feel that? She kicked.” The
words carried delight in their singsong tone; I’d wriggle again
and push against the pressure, kicking I guessed, whatever that
meant, feeling the weight of affection pressed against elbow,
ankle or knee.
In the green of waking up I imagined my dreamtime voices
belonged to heroes, mystical guardians of my fate. I longed to
see them, connecting their sound with the shadows that sometimes
swam through the glow of my growing. I learned to reach out when
they were close, waiting for that touch, that sound of joy,
wondering if there were a way to forever hold such pleasures and
more. But then the green would surround me again, its milk
scented with hay. Leaves formed a sweet cocoon to shield my eyes
from sun’s red rays. Angels, white as light, trod paths and
cleared the scrub away, keeping insects that buzzed and hummed
safely distant from newly formed souls. Warmth and dampness
poured over me, pumped through my veins while tiny limbs budded
fingers, legs and arms, and bending head. In the real world I
thought I’d grow up to be an angel; in the dream-world I’d
rather be man, or woman, or hero.
The leaves cocooned me in eternal green while dream-walls
filtered red. But the angels were bright enough to shine with
their own light, human shapes that wandered between us like
shadows in reverse. They were my keepers of the gates…
It started, the end or the beginning—I’m not sure which—while I
was asleep, red warmth and people-sounds. The ocean’s roar grew
violent and angry around me, changed its shape to waterfall. My
body jerked in slumber as fluids flushed. My river gone dry, I
struggled against my cage and started to fight.
The lights of my red world grew scary then, viciously bright.
Something whiter than angels made brittle images on the air.
Voices were sharp and fearful, mother singing but the tune all
cracked like there was a hole in her heart, beating ragged and
sharp. “My baby has gone down the plughole…” she laughed, her
body, me, quaking and bent. I didn’t know what a baby or
plughole meant, so I simply stored the sounds in memory.
When Mother fell silent, her heartbeat slowing, her thrashing
flesh finding rest, then my own struggles dimmed and I fell
asleep. Everything up to then felt like a dream, but somehow
sleeping didn’t feel like falling awake. My body was sliding,
squeezing, fighting its pain, but I had no control and no desire
to control it. Flickers of green trickled over me, as though I
were trying to rise, but the nightmare held tight.
The world went black at the last and there was silence for a
while. Somewhere in the distance the mother-voice cried while
Father soothed with words like heavy sap in the burgeoning dawn,
but I wasn’t really there. Just a memory of listening, of
feeling, seeing nothing, making no sound.
Later I tumbled to the ground and felt the soft sweet earth,
dark crumbles flaking under my hands. I tucked my fingers into
the cool and damp. Stickiness felt like comfort in my palm.
Sunshine was warm, filled with life and new growth, and it
pleased me. I hadn’t liked this fighting dream, so instead I was
glad to wake up in a field and know I belonged to trees, even if
leaves weren’t holding me.
I remember an angel bending over me. His face—her face; it
doesn’t really matter with angels—was filled with concern. His
eyes were pale like fragmented clouds and hair swirled white
against sky. Warm breath blew over me, tickling my nostrils and
tempting with the sweetness of flowers. Then a sun-white hand
reached down and cupped my head, lifting me up so the world
could take shape around me. Earth, stems, leaves and sky. Dark
ground and petals too, pale roses in the gloom.
He settled me on a cushion of green and coiled the twisting cord
around my feet, then sang to me. I think birds gathered to his
call, but perhaps imagination’s embellishing the tale. I think
the insects hummed a steady bass beat to his tune. But the only
thing I know for sure is I fell asleep, a deep and dreamless,
seamless, meaningless sleep. No red night-light, no voices and
no pain; I was safe and secure, wrapped in my nest of leaves
‘til it was time to wake again.
Back to Flower Child