Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Holiday Hiatus

Due the mad rush of personal events that surround the holidays, Mind the Thorns is going on Hiatus until the new year.

I would like to personally thank all the fans and readers of Mind the Thorns that has made it the successful reader-directed novel that I have been lucky enough to administer these last 6 months and 21 chapters.  It has been a joy to share this story with you, and to have you help me tell it with your input.

For this holiday season, whatever you celebrate, I wish you all well, and send hope for a prosperous new year.

If you would like to indulge in some other reading to pass time through the season, I offer up the following links:

Becca - A story after the end
Hosted at:  Wattpad.com

Two survivors try to make the most out of their chance meeting.  But what price will one pay to stay alive?

 "The Next Best Thing"
Hosted at:  Fictional Omens

A 2nd year Midshipman is well on his way to a drunken stupor when first year student Mercy Lyons, protagonist of the upcoming novel Alongside the Enemy, enters his crosshairs.

 "The London Kiss" 
Hosted at:  Fictional Omens

The tradition of sharing the first kiss is "granted" to Midshipman Mercy Lyons. Only she's the target of a prank; she has no one to greet her at the station.

I would like to thank all of my readers for their support through the last year.  It has been an honor to write for you and I look forward to resuming regular updates to Mind the Thorns in January.


Rob Osterman

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Chapter 21

Chapter 21

Regan watched as the waitress slid back to their table, a plate of miniature beer glasses balanced before her.  Despite a long stretch of partying into the wee hours of the morning, the idea of dating was still something she felt was too elusive.  It seemed finding someone at a bar to curl up with and forget the world for a few hours was an easy task.  Getting them to call again; that was considerably not so easy.

This whole date had been a bad idea, though she had been left with little choice. It was this or wonder when the police would recognize her car and resume the high speed chase she had just barely survived.  As such she really was at Dodger’s mercy.

“Thanks,” he said as Marcella put down the tray of drinks.  She quickly began to list off which beers were which, while Dodger smiled politely up at her. Regan tried to follow but got lost in most of the technobabble about brews and after tastes and hops choices.  She never was a beer drinker before her death; after it she had avoided anything but blood.  She still had no idea how she was going to fake sampling all these tastes without spitting them back up again.  It was highly unlikely that a series of beer-based spit-takes was part of Dodger’s grand plan.

Marcella had finished rattling off the choices available to her and turned to smile at her. 

“Those all sound great,” Regan said quickly, sure that none of them would taste better then bitter vinegar with a bad sawdust aftertaste.  She looked back at Dodger whose eye brows arched upwards to be visible from behind his glasses.  She smiled as sincerely as she could under pressure.  “But not as good as the waitress,” she said quickly.  “You were right she is absolutely adorable.”  She reached out to grab Dodger’s hand.  “Hon,” she added with what she intended to be a loving nod.  “I should know better than to ever doubt my true love’s taste in women.”

Monday, November 19, 2012

Chapter 20

Chapter 20

Regan watched as Paul Wright, one of the only humans she had seen interacting with vampires, slip an arm around his “prize”, a sweet blonde who she only knew as Miss Harper.  The arrogant snot had “won” a night of her company in a game of cards the night before, and here he was lording over the girl as though she were little more than a nice car, or sweet puppy.  Regan could feel an anger in the core of her stomach at his smug grin, and his utter disrespect for his fellow human.

She was torn between lashing out with a fist, trying to talk him out of the whole affair with her gift of gab, or simply storming away from all of it.  She had never been one for conflict; it was always easier to slink back to her desk and then exact her revenge by cutting back funding for someone’s project, or by filing a report with the CFO about an overage in another budget.  Even when she had been born again she had opted to go along quietly rather than fight for freedom, or flee to safety.  

“Look,” she started.  “Have you really done a fair opportunity cost analysis in relation to how you’re spending this evening?  After all, time, once spent, is lost forever, and given your mortal status can you really afford to be wasteful with a limited resource?”  This had worked before.  As long as she focused on financial matters her power of persuasion was unparalleled, it seemed.  Even as she had tried to start up her own consulting firm, clients had, across the board, routinely expressed profound respect for her suggestions, and had accepted every suggestion and offer she had made.  Where she used to spend weeks grooming someone for a tough decision, now the matter was handled in fifteen minutes over coffee.

She was also able to charge rates three times what she knew was common, and every client had practically fallen over themselves at the opportunity to pay them.

Paul grinned back as his hand slipped down from Harper’s waist to her rear.  The girl did not react, but continued to stare submissively at the floor.  “Let me stop you right there.  I’ve been around your kind for a while now.  I know you think that if you just start talking to me, I’ll be putty in your hands, but you don’t get to be the Earl’s favorite artist without learning how to both recognize vampire mojo and how to resist it.  So why don’t you save yourself that breath you really don’t need, stop talking, and let me and my date enjoy our evening.”

Regan blinked, momentarily struck speechless.  Paul began to guide Ms. Harper past her into towards the door.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

A brief hiatus

Due to a death in the family, Mind the Thorns is going on a two week hiatus.  We apologize for the interruption in the story and assure all the loyal fans that we will resume posts on Sunday the 18th.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Chapter 19

Chapter 19

Regan walked through the front doors of O’Patrick’s Pub, Grill and Common House as she had nearly every night for the entire duration of her college career and the several years following.  There was a stool towards the back door, that had been her home four nights out of five where she had studied, written term papers, met with a friend to discuss class, or just sit and enjoy the atmosphere.  It was far enough from the front of the pub that she could have some peace, but the bartenders were never too far to hear her request for another mocha, or to change up her drink to something potent.  She made her way, as though tonight was any other night, to her stool and took a seat.

The fact that she was dressed in the long flowing satin of her wedding gown was the furthest thing from her mind.  The other patrons gawked as she passed, her train now filithy with dirt and grime, the result of leaving a fair portion of it outside the car door as she had sped away from the church.  Harrison was probably still there, or had gone to her townhouse expecting to find her, to talk some sense into her.  Emma would do the same.  Her current cubicle-mate, Drake, would probably be finding a barely-polite way to ask if there was still a reception even if the wedding was off, and if it still featured an open bar.  

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Chapter 18

Chapter 18

Once, when she was eight, Regan’s cousin had dared her to climb higher in the old oak tree in their grandparent’s backyard.  The affair was complicated by the fact that both of them were in black dresses from their grandfather’s funeral.  Things had been somber and with most of the family seeing to her grandmother, no one had really noticed the two slip out the back door, step out of their patent leather dress shoes and start up the limbs.  

Regan had been sure that a few branches up her cousin would declare they had gone high enough.  Truthfully, Regan would have been happy to have lost the wager, but at least wanted to give her cousin the satisfaction of a close race.  They had climbed past the first story windows without anyone noticing.  As they passed the second story windows, Regan had torn her tights, but she had climbed on keeping pace with her cousin.  They were even the roof of the house when they had stopped and the “one more branch” dares had begun.  

It was on the third such dare that the branch her now-bare feet used for support had given way.  The lower limbs of the tree had mostly broken her fall, but she had landed hard on the ground and convinced herself in those moments before the blackness overtook her that she had in fact died and that her final thoughts on this earth were looking up, thirty feet, at her cousin’s panicked expression.  It was the most excruciating physical pain she had known, and from that moment on had never climbed another tree, literally or figuratively.

Now, laying on the concrete floor of her unfinished basement, Regan’s mind flashed back to that moment and made an effort to compare her the sensation of a broken collar bone to what had been little more than a few really good bruises.  Indeed the comparison was easily a dozen orders of magnitude different.  It did, on the other hand, manage to distract her from the still burning pain along her leg where the sunlight had touched it, cooking the flesh almost instantly.  She was quite sure she would never walk again, provided she survived this ordeal.

Her phone was just out of reach, the display still on, and flashing bright white light upwards into the unfinished rafters.  She stretched, feeling the blasts of pain along her chest, her fingers crawling along the surface towards the device.  Apparently the case was a good investment.  She fought to move the inches before her fingers finally started to scrape along the edges of the case.  Finally her nail caught the edge of it and pulled it up on end and then over into her hand.  She pressed down the single button and coughed reflexively as blood continued to pool places it should not be.  The sensations were an unpleasant reminder that were she human she would be dead.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Chapter 17

Chapter 17

“Absolutely not.”

Emma frowned in frustration.  “For all I know- for all you know- once someone is bit they can’t be bit by someone else.  Wouldn’t it make sense for you to be that person, the one person who can bite me?”

Regan shook her head.  “No.  Just no.  We don’t know how any of this works, really, and I’m not going to put you in danger by drinking your blood.”  She looked over at her life-long best friend while they drove.  “The answer is ‘no’.”

“And what if that blonde gets to me first?  What if she catches me out in the open?”  She turned to look out the window.  “I’m starting to put this together, Regan, and it’s starting to scare me.”  She sighed.  “Geez, I don’t even know what’s safe any more.”

Regan did not know either, but rather than say so, let an uncomfortable silence over take them.  She drove on, unsure how to assure her friend that this was for the best.  There were too many unknowns, too many variables.  Then there was the possibility she would not know when to stop.  Every time she took hold of Shannon, the young woman who came twice a week to drop off packages and share a ‘kiss’ with Regan, there was a moment of horror that this would be time she did not stop.  With each bite into the girl’s flesh, Regan feared she would not let go.  How could she put Emma in that position?  How could she take that responsibility?

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Chapter 16

Chapter 16

“So, Reg,” Emma asked as they rode along towards Stacy’s off-campus apartment.  “Did you break out the designer threads for me or for the Earl?”

Regan turned from watching the suburbs streaking past them to stare at her best friend for life.  “Designer threads?”

“I remember when you got that blouse,” Emma explained.  “I helped Harrison pick it out.  The thing cost in the ballpark of two hundred dollars.”  She reached out and rolled the sleeve between her fingers.  “It’s softer than a baby’s bottom and you swore you’d never wear anything that expensive, ever.  Which has me wondering why you felt the need to change it up.”  She pointed down into the darkened floor of the backseat they shared. “Plus those heels?  Choo.  Trust me, I know my over-five-hundred-dollar-shoes.”

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Short Story: "Another First Date"

Mr. Osterman is enjoying a quiet week's vacation.  By vacation, we mean that he is knee deep in progress report grading, with two children to manage as well.  The next installment of Mind the Thorns will return next week at its usual time.  In the interim  Mr. Osterman offers up this chilling short story for your amusement.

Another First Date

Jordan smiled back at her date, easing herself down into the car seat.  She tried to swing her legs into the car as demurely as she could; this was the first date she’d been on that the guy had insisted on opening the car door for her.  He eased the door shut and then gave it a firm shove to latch it.  While he jogged around the front of the hood, she smoothed her knee-length skirt over her legs.  So far this had been the perfect night.

Kyle opened his own door and easily slid into the driver’s seat. “I’m so sorry about that.  It’s an older car and that door’s been tricky for weeks.  I really need to get it into the shop to be looked at.”  

Jordan leaned toward him and kissed his cheek.  “Oh, don’t apologize for being a gentleman.”  She eased back in her seat and looked up at the car’s ceiling.  “There are hardly any left, it seems.”

“All the better for me,” Kyle answered, turning the key and starting up the engine.  He grinned.  “I do hate competition.”  He turned the car out of the restaurant parking lot and onto the main road.  The pavement glistened from the recent rain as the tires splashed from one small puddle to the next.  

“Doesn’t competition bring out the best in us?”  Jordan watched the various storefronts and parking lots pass the window as the car worked its way through the college town she called home.

Kyle shook his head. “I prefer a good individual challenge.  A one-on-one affair, not me versus the masses.”

Friday, September 28, 2012

Chapter 15 Addendum

Chapter 15 Addendum

Regan weighed her options again.  She had never dealt much with the police.  There were a few cases where she had been called to testify to some kind of forensic accounting situation, but that had usually been more with the district attorney rather than the police themselves.  She felt completely out of her element.

“What about Stacy?” she finally asked.  “Think she has someone who can get this all to go away?”

Larry considered that.  “The baby-biter does have some time around town.  It’s not the worst idea I’ve heard all night.”

Emma spoke up.  “She eats babies?”

“Nah,” Larry responded, starting the car into gear.  “She’s just a perma-teen.”

“Still not following,” Emma said again, looking to Regan for an answer.

“She was made into a vampire when she was a teenager so she,” Regan paused briefly.  “She’s locked for eternity at the age of fifteen.”

Emma paled.  “Having to suck blood, I could handle.  But an eternity of high school?  No way.”

Our story continues into Chapter 16.

Due to unforeseen circumstances, Mr. Osterman had to take a week off and instead offered this short story to tide readers over.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Chapter 15

Chapter 15

There were very few things that Regan could say with certainty.  One of them was that neither major political party really cared about fixing the economy as much as it cared about winning the next election.  Another was that if it is not in the budget, it is not getting spent.

On that list certitudes was the fact that Emma was straight.

She was not homophobic; far from, Regan and Emma had stood with gay friends in college to protest some of the more intrusive policies from the school’s administration.  They had shared a dorm room for a semester, and an off campus apartment for a year, and at no time had Emma shown the least interest in other women.  At Gretchen’s bachelorette party they had stopped in a lesbian bar for some drinks and Emma had been hit on, repeatedly, for over an hour.  She laughed off each and every advance, politely but firmly.  Regan was sure she would have done the same in Emma’s shoes, but the massive sparkling diamond Harrison had given her for their engagement seemed to act as a particularly strong ward against unwanted affection.

Which is how Regan knew that there was no earthly reason that her best friend for life would be dreamily following a pretty blonde out into the night to become that particular vampire’s late night dinner.  It had to be some kind of spell or vampiric power that Klarissa, the Earl’s assistant, was using on Emma.  It was the was the only explanation for Emma’s complete entrancement by the blonde woman.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Chapter 14 Addendum

Chapter 14 Addendum

Regan’s mind raced with options.  Her best friend since second grade was walking, willingly, into the night with a vampire, presumably, to be a late night snack.  But how could she expect to come between the Earl’s personal right hand blood sucker?  What could she possibly do to stop Klarissa from using some kind of mystical power to seduce Emma and whisk her into the dead of night?

“You can’t leave,” Regan blurted out stalling for time.

Emma’s eyes remained transfixed on the other vampire standing over her.  “I can’t?” she asked, dreamily.

Klarissa did not slow her polite, sensual coercion.  “Of course you can, Emma.  Come, Regan will manage just fine with you.”

“Maybe, but you still need to settle your bill.”  Money was the first coherent thing to spring to Regan’s mind.

“My what?”  Emma’s eyes were half closed.

“Your bill.  You haven’t paid for dinner yet and that is not only illegal but it has wide reaching fiscal impact on every corner of the food service sector.”

It worked once before, maybe it would work again.

Our story continues into Chapter 15

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Chapter 14

Chapter 14

Regan would never recover.

The line moved forward and she had one fewer person between her and the caffeinated concoction of syrups and espresso that started her day.  Her Vanilla Strawberry White Chocolate Mocha was both the bright spot of her morning, and her final positive social interaction of the day.  She shared a cubicle with a brute of a man who still believed that she had been hired to be his secretary and that her insistence that they were equals was nothing but pathological denial on her part.  The few times their immediate supervisor had spoken to him about it, he had laughed as though at any moment Alan Funt or Ashton Kutcher would appear, and the laugh track would roll.  Regan loved her work, sincerely.  She loathed her workplace.

Not that it mattered at this point.  Jason was back at her apartment picking out which Tupperware was his and which spices he had brought to the home.  She should have known that any man who brings Tupperware and spices when moving it was not one that would be hers for the long haul.  Four years of her life and she had been replaced over a long weekend by a second year undergraduate studying political science and environmental science.  She wanted to say she had no idea what Jason saw in her but that was a lie.  She was smaller, prettier, perkier, ate whole foods, and could identify the carbon footprint of everyday items without looking them up.  The line moved forward again and Regan tried not to think about her own non-size four body coming home to an empty house.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Chapter 13 Addendum

Regan nodded at Stacy once then turned her attention to the phone call.

“I’m afraid,” she started as casually as she could manage, “I won’t be able to come to his home.  I suggest we meet at Sharon’s in Royal Oak.”

“You would like the Vampire Earl of Detroit to meet you at a steakhouse?”  Stephanowski’s voice was terse and frustrated.

Regan could sense that this was an option the Earl’s assistant was willing to compromise on.  “I can’t imagine why he would object if all he wants to do is talk.  Is there something else planned for the meeting that I should be aware of?”

There was a long pause on the line.  “The Earl will be arriving at midnight at Sharon’s.  I advise you, strongly, to be waiting for him.”  The line went dead.

Regan wondered if she would be facing a similar fate, as well.

Our story continues into Chapter 14

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Chapter 13

Chapter 13

Regan rolled over and smiled.  He was still there, snoring lightly as he dozed.  She glanced at the clock; there was still an hour until sunrise and she did not want to risk him being there when she passed out.  His blood had definitely had the kick of a man who was alternating between shots and energy drink, but even that probably would not keep her up more than a few minutes into the day.  Best to wake her sleeping Adonis and see him off than to take chances.  In the club, his sandy hair had caught the reds and greens of the flashing lights, now should could just sit and savor its pure gold tones.  She reached up and twirled one of his bangs around a finger, feeling the cool air of the room against her bare chest as she moved.

With a flash of self consciousness she tugged up the bed sheet to cover her nakedness.  She still was not happy with her body, though finding any advice on how to improve her shape post-mortem was a bit of a challenge.  They had not returned to the library, nor had they been summoned to it in the three weeks since she had helped condemn two humans to an eternity of stone servitude.  She reflected on that; it was three weeks to the night since she decided that she had failed to live her first life to the fullest and she was going to make up for it all in her second.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Chapter 12 Addendum

Chapter 12 Addendum

Regan glanced between the two other people in the car.  What had she been doing for the last week?  Bouncing from task to task, rarely having a moment to consider what it was she wanted out of her new existence.  Even the choice to open her own practice had been based on the norms of her human life.  She had an eternity to acculumate wealth, why did she feel a need to stockpile it now?  For twenty eight years she had played the games that other people had laid out, quietly respecting her elders, her superiors, her betters.

Now she was a vampire; she was the better.

“What kind of music does this band play?”  She smiled at Daryl.  Life was going to begin in a way she could not predict and it thrilled her.  

Daryl stared back at her through the rearview mirror.  “I’m not sure.  It’s a little like jazz, but it’s got some synths that work in on a music loop, usually featuring some overdriven power cords from the one guy’s guitar.  But it’s all supposedly inspired by aboriginal chants that this one girl, Zoe, is totally into.  She’s dating the drummer, and it’s really-”

Regan cut him off.  She put a hand on Stacy’s shoulder.  “Do you think they need to see your identification?”

Stacy winked.  “They so don’t need to see my identification.”

“Then let’s be groupies tonight.”  She leaned back in the seat.  “And tomorrow night, we’re going to be rock stars.”

Our story continues into Chapter 13

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Chapter 12

Chapter 12

Regan had been dead, now, for roughly a week.  In that time she had been in the debt of others from start to finish.  She owed her new life to her maker.  She had owed a favor to the Earl of Detroit for unknowingly insulting him at her presentation.  Without the gift of blood left in her coffin by Jeremiah she might never have escaped the ground.  Then he had send more blood for her to feed on and had then sent Shannon to her.

She could not repay the debt to her maker; her maker was dead.  She had stepped into a lions’ den of hunters at the request of the Earl; she lived and that debt was clear.  All that remained was to finally clear the ledger of the red ink next to Jeremiah Windsor Book’s name.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Chapter 11 Addendum

Chapter 11 Addendum

Regan looked at the two hunters bound before her.  The man glared at her angrily while the woman continued her silent pleading.  They had heard every word Stacy had said, and with them the confirmation that they were to be subjects in some wicked ritual.  The fact that the petite vampire was not planning to stay only added to the tension.

Taking the vials, Regan looked at her “older sister”. The smaller vampire shook her head.  

“This is a mistake,” Stacy said.

Regan pressed her lips together as she let the vials roll over her palms.  “I need a clean balance sheet and this will get it for me.  Starting tonight I will be free of debt.  I went to that meeting for the Earl, and this blood will settle things with Jeramiah.  Tonight I can be my own woman again.”

She tried not to think about Harrison, or how long they had been together.  She blocked out the thoughts of every boyfriend and lover before him.  When was the last time she really had been her own woman?

It did not matter.  Tonight was her night.

“Tell Mr. Windsor that I accept his offer and wish to remain for the ritual.”

Stacy said nothing more, only reaching out to give Regan’s arm a squeeze before disppearing up the stairs and out of the cellar.  Regan watched her go before setting the glass tubes on a nearby wine keg.

There were collections to be made.

Our story continues into Chapter 12

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Chapter 11

Chapter 11

Regan woke up feeling a chill throughout her body.  Emma had picked her up and driven her home, using her spare key to let them in.  Regan had taken a shower to wash the blood from her face, and then slipped into a silk shirt to wear as pajamas.  It was part of a matched set she and Harrison shared.  He had always slept in just the silk pants, and she had worn the button down shirt.  It was big on her, falling mid-thigh.  When she had eased into the garment she could still smell him on it, that faint scent of his aftershave.  It felt comfortable.

Now she regretted her bare legs.  She rubbed them once as though the action would actually warm them again, and then settled for climbing the stairs from her basement to begin planning her night.  She wondered if the blood in her refrigerator would still be safe to drink, nearly a week later.  Did blood go bad?

She entered the kitchen and headed straight for the fridge, her mind still fuzzy with her usual just-woke-up haze.  She opened the door and reached for one of the blood bags still sitting next to the carton of soon-to-expire milk.  She really needed to clean that out before it started to smell.  She took another sniff.  She could smell roses, and a touch of sexual excitement. 

“Uh, hi, Miss Fairchild.”

Friday, August 24, 2012

A Pause to Remember

Jerry Nelson

He taught the world to count

For an article remembering Mr. Nelson please see The Washington Post

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Chapter 10 Addendum

Chapter 10 Addendum

Regan watched the tail lights of Harrison’s car disappear down the road, and then round the corner.  She stood next to the road for a few more minutes before crossing the parking lot and sitting down on the curb.  The dull red light of the neon lights cast long shadows along the pavement.  Pulling her knees up to her chin she sat, her phone in hands, and cried.

It struck her, finally, that it was over with Harrison.  She knew, somewhere, this was a good thing, but the rest of her body was not prepared to reconcile that.  She had shared her life with him for almost ten years, and now that was done.  The blood continued to roll down her cheeks, like so many slow-motion tears.

She had no idea how long she sat there, alone in the night.  She did not even look at the time when she started to send out a text, asking for a ride home.  The phone attached her location to the message.  She considered, briefly, trying to fly or to run super fast, but even if either were possible to her, she had no energy to try them.  She simply wanted to get someplace safe, someplace dark, and sleep as long as she could.

Perhaps she would enter into one of those long sleeps that vampires awoke from, and she would open her eyes on the year 2062, with flying cars, and advanced cybernetics, and whatever else the science fiction of her youth had promised.  She mused on what the world would be like in fifty years until a car pulled up in the parking lot.

Today was not that future.  

And she had to learn to live, today.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Chapter 10

Chapter 10

So far, being a vampire just plain sucked.

Regan looked around the abandoned Denny’s where she had been ordered to come and spy on a recruitment meeting for vampire hunters.  A dozen people glared back, most of them brandishing some kind of weapon, and all of them fully intent on killing her, again.  As her mind raced with options and choices she had to focus not to come back to that particular word, “Again.”  Being dead once was quite enough for her.

She licked her lips and let her mind go.

“Look, this is just a bad idea all around,” she started.  “Shooting me, even with normal bullets is a wretchedly bad investment option for you.”

Brother Sam continued to level his pistols at her, while the sisters had stood and slid their chairs back so as to have an clear path at Regan.  They each twisted their hands around a wooden stake.  According to Daryl, the thrall she had met when she first rose from the ground, a stake to the heart would not be fatal.  It would, however, leave her immobilized, not exactly a healthy alternative.

“You think that you can buy your way out of your fate, vampiress?”  Brother Sam seemed anxious to prove himself, his fingers sliding inside the trigger guards.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Chapter 9 Addendum

Chapter 9 Addendum

Regan’s mind raced.  She was sure she had been in worse situations and managed to get out of them.  She started to think about the coffin and having had those same thoughts there.  Again, she was forced to conclude that no, she had not been in worse situations.  In fact being a newly minted member of the undead had pretty much been moving from one absolute worst situation to the next.

It was, to say the least, annoying.

“Now, I have to admit,” Brother Sam said, shifting his focus from one pistol to the other has he kept his aim.  “I have no first hand knowledge of what silver bullets do to a vampire.  I have shot them more than a few times, but I have never been close enough to see what happens when they get hit.  I wonder if they bleed more.”

Regan’s eyes darted around the room thinking about everything she had ever heard a vampire could do, about everything she had seen in a vampire movie.  There had to be some useful gems buried in her memory of the Queen Betsy novels she had plowed through in an attempt to understand her cubicle-mate.  Super speed?  Super strength?  Aura of serenity?

She closed her eyes and did the first thing that came naturally to her: she started talking.

“Look,” she said, slowly opening her eyes, “you don’t want to shoot me, and here’s why.  It’s not a cost effective use of your time.”

She had no idea, now, what she was doing, but she had started and she was going to finish it.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Chapter 9

Chapter 9

Regan turned the car off the highway and onto the long slow loop to the surface street.  As she had come over the bridge she had seen the place for the recruitment meeting: an abandoned Denny’s twenty-four hour diner.  The original sign had been blown out, probably destroyed a year ago in a good windstorm and never replaced.  There was a tarp over, presumably, one of the many “For Lease” signs that had sprung up like so much crabgrass during the recession.   It may have been a chain restaurant but it still had owners with hopes and dreams.  Now it was just an eyesore, a relic of better times.  She wondered, as she drove past it, what the former owners were doing now.

She had an eternity to recover.  How long did they have?  

Her mind wandered to her current state.  She had been granted the gift of immortality, and how had she spent the first week of it?  The last six nights had been one random stumbling to the next, doing this for that vampire of note, and then running an errand for another.  She thought that working would help, but all it had done was make her feel even more disconnected from her mortal life.  She still had not called her parents.  What would she say?  “Hi, Mom!  I’m totally fine, just came down with a slight case of the death, that’s all.  Oh, and I’m not sure I can make brunch on Sunday.  How about a midnight wine tasting?”

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Chapter 8 Addendum

Stacy looked concerned.  “Do you want backup?  I mean, me or Daryl can go with you.”

Regan shook her head.  “I’m pretty sure I’m supposed to do this alone.”  She brushed her hair back and tried to focus.  “I mean, it’s just a look around, right?  He doesn’t expect me to kill anyone or anything.”

“Just remember to breathe,” Stacy offered.

“Yeah,” Regan forced a smile. “Just stay relaxed.”

Stacy’s eyes widened with a touch of concern.  “No, I mean literally.  You don’t breathe normally now, and they’re going to notice that.  And if they do notice it they’re probably going to stake you and leave you for the sunrise which, while pretty to see, is also pretty fatal to see.”

Regan felt her cheeks cooling as the blood drained from them.  “Oh.  Right.”

Our story continues into Chapter 9

Monday, August 6, 2012

Chapter 8

Chapter 8

She was standing in the church.  Her flowing white dress hid the worst of her curves and showed off the best.  It had taken weeks to find and she felt truly beautiful in it.   Harrison was there, his tuxedo pressed.  He looked so handsome.  She was so... content.  Things had just worked out so perfectly.  A gloriously drama-free period of dating had flowed easily into an equally pleasant and un-objectionable engagement.  All she had to do was say two simple words, three letters total, and she could continue in humble happiness for the rest of her life.

She opened her mouth, but there was no sound.  Harrison beamed at her, his eyebrows raised, waiting for her to make the great commitment to a life of non-conflict and simple joys.  She tried again, but nothing came forth.  Where was her voice?  She started to cry, silently.  She wanted to say it.  It was so easy to just fade into his happiness.  Why could she not say the words to complete this moment?  There was a cake, and a DJ, and a hall, and hundreds of friends, family, coworkers and people she only saw at funerals and family reunions.  She had to say it.

She fell forward, tears streaming down her cheeks.  Harrison wrapped his arms around her, holding her.  She could feel them tight to her chest.  He was warm.  He smelled of apples, and linen closets.  He was happiness-made-man, here for her.  She tried again to say the words but remained silent.  His arms tightened.  She gasped for air, feeling the boning of her dress cutting into her side.  She started to feel faint.  Harrison kissed the top of her head as he continued to hold her, the pressure increasing.  She tried to scream.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Chapter 7 Addendum

Regan passed the phone from one hand to the other, staring at the list of contacts on the screen.  None of them felt a good option.  She looked at Daryl.  “Hey, is that invite at your friend’s still there?”

“Yeah, totally,” Daryl said, scratching at his perpetual five o’clock shadow.  “I’m sure you can crash at Stacy’s.”

Regan sat up a little.  “Stacy’s?”

“Yeah,” Daryl responded, leaning over to tap the glass between the main area and the cab of the ambulance.  “Hey, Gray, change of plans.  We’re headed over to Stacy’s.”

The vehicle picked up speed as the driver, presumably Gray, started back into traffic, what little there was at this hour.  There was silence in the van as Regan sat on the gurney with her arms around her legs, and Daryl watched the flash of the street lights in the windows.  

“You’re going to like Stacy.” Daryl said breaking the awkward silence.  He had never said that his vampire friend in the area was a woman.  “She’s cute as a button.  Real fun kid.”

Regan locked her vision on the rear window and the retreating road, now lit by the gentle hues of the pre-dawn light.  She rubbed her eyes and felt waves of fatigue starting to hit her, the exhaustion of the night, the stress of all that had happened.  She blinked a few times, seeing the world as a little darker than she thought it should be.  She stretched her arms over her head and pointed her toes, that familar feeling of sleepiness coming over her at a rate she had only felt once before.

“Hey, Daryl,” she said, stifling a yawn.  “I don’t know if I’m going to be aw--”

And she collapsed in a deep sleep.

Our story continues into Chapter 8.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Chapter 7

Chapter 7

When Regan signed her lease for the townhouse, her father had come to her student apartment with a very serious look on his face.  It had reminded her of the talk she had gotten before her first date with a boy, repeated before her first date where she was picked up from the house, and a third time when she moved into her freshman dorm.  This last time, however, he did not ask her to sit down.

“If you’re going to live alone, we need to go shopping.  Please get in the car.”

He was never a man of many words.  In fact, Regan would usually describe him as distant, or removed.  He did work a lot, never talked about retirement, and when he wasn’t buried in a spreadsheet he was holed up in the basement tying fishing flies.  At least her mother had signed him up for a perpetual online art fair and had managed to move some of the stock of flies out of the house.

He had not said where they were headed.  Her first assumption was up to the sporting good store to buy some pepper spray or something.  Instead he turned off the highway near Woodward, and brought the car to a stop in front of a gun shop and indoor firing range.  The clerks had been profoundly helpful and set her up with eye protection and ear muffs.  Her dad went through all the basics of loading and firing his 22-bolt action, and she squeezed off several rounds into the paper target.  She had actually been within a few inches of where she was aiming.  

To her father’s disappointment, however, she had refused to purchase a gun.  One of the clerks, a rather cute guy actually, had offered to let her test fire a handgun of some kind.  She had declined and promised to come back in a week or two to try one and maybe change her mind.

There were probably a dozen reasons she regretted never going back to the range, and all of them, it seemed, were armed with assault rifles.

Friday, July 27, 2012

A Promotional Interlude

If you would like to own a copy of Mind the Thorns Issue 1, Mr. Osterman is giving them away via the popular book review and discussion site Good Reads.   We promise not to direct you to other websites often in this blog but this is one opportunity to get something for free.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Mind The Thorns Issue 1 by Rob Osterman

Mind The Thorns Issue 1

by Rob Osterman

Giveaway ends August 03, 2012.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Chapter 6: Addendum

Chapter 6 Addendum

The back of the SUV became eerily quiet.  The last real sound was that of Jeremiah sliding the bolt back on the assault rifle, the metal resonating.  One of the bottles of blood had broken during the crash.  Regan could smell its contents through the casing.  Was there a vampire saying for crying over spilt blood?

Shaking her head to focus it, she looked back at the case.  Nervously she reached out for the gleaming steel of the samurai blade.  Simple and elegant she could handle that.  If Arya Stark could master swordsmanship in three episodes, she should at least be able to manage to defend herself.   She paused.  For a moment she thought maybe it was over, that the hunters had done their damage.  She looked out the back window.

Several rapid gunshots caused her to duck again, leaving white crack marks on the bulletproof glass where they had struck.

“Screw that,” she muttered and grabbed one of the handguns, reaching at the same time for the clip of ammunition resting below it.  She lined up the clip with the opening in the base of the grip and slid it home. 

She was going to fight fire with fire.

Our story continues into Chapter 7