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Happy New Year! As most of you know, my Blog Buddies with Benefits get a free short story every month, as well as free Advanced Reader Copies of every book I publish. This month, I am offering ALL my readers this short story excerpt I am working on. It will eventually become a novella, and I am thrilled to share it with you. I hope it inspires you to seek the fantastical in life.

"Weird: Josie 3 (A Broom and a Rug)"

Josie and her trusty steed chased the strange Sandy Man, would-be ape-napper, through a fiery tunnel of earth and space.  This Egypt was hot and sweaty and smelled of rotted fish.

“You’re lucky you don’t have a nose.”  The broomstick chuffed out a burst of steam in agreement.

Josie pointed.  “There! Past the pillars!  The Sandy Man!”  She pulled the reigns and jabbed her naked heels into the accelerator pedals.  Her red hair flew wildly as the broom mechanized its course, hot on the trail of the tricky villain.

The Sandy Man felt the chubby shadow upon his sun-soaked back.  He stretched his arms up to the chortling, steaming, nosediving apparition and opened his palms.  His eyes glowed orange like two angry suns.

Blasts of burning sand shot into Josie’s face, burning her with a thousand grainy bullets.  Once nosediving in purpose, the broom despaired with an engine full of sand, and fell into a rocky slope.

“Damn pyramids!”  Josie wiped at her eyes but her sweat-drenched face turned sand to mud, sticking to her eyes like clay drying in a furnace.

“Come here,” she commanded, but alas, her mighty steed could only hobble, its smoky whisps of straw brushing dry earth.

Josie fiddled with her belt and pulled out a flask.  She poured the bitter contents over her face and opened her eyes.  “Koi pond water always does the trick, but for you,” she patted the broom, "it would be a detriment.  Damn this place, damn this time, and damn that Sandy Man!"

The girl and her broom shuffled over parched hard ground.  No breeze cooled them as their innards evapourated.  “Don’t worry; we are sure to find a shoppe and fix you right up, good as gold!”  The broom fainted to the earth in reply.

Thus the red-haired girl with increasingly reddening skin arrived with her broom in her arms at the sunbleached once-blue tent.  The unflapping flag bore the insignia of a mechanoid.

After a quick conversation of blips and beeps which Josie particularly enjoyed, she placed her broom into the droid’s care.  “All will be well, you’ll see.  I’ll be back for you quicker than goats leaping ledges.”

She focused her attention back to the shoppe-keep.  Her blue eyes brightened like sapphires in the sun.  She pulled one brown bottle from her belted bag.  The mechanoid’s wiry tongue darted out and coiled itself for a taste.  The following beeps let Josie know her oil offering was accepted.  “Where is my rental?”

The mechanoid covered the broom with a silver blanket, cooling the automobile with a grateful shiver.

Josie followed the shoppe keep behind the curtain where a room larger than a horse stable swarmed with colour.  Rugs of every size, pattern, and shape floated and flew; twirled and tempted her eyes.

“That one!” At her command, the purple carpet promptly appeared before her.  The droid chirped a series of high pitched warnings but Josie hushed them with a wiggle of her fingers in her large ears.  She boarded her flight, and raced off, calling out “I’ll be back!  Remember!  Faster than goats!”

She pulled long tassels, guiding the heavy carpet into a dizzying loop-de-loop.  The android hissed as she left, but she paid it no mind.  Nor did she attend to the ever-growing weight behind her, as a black cat emerged from the folds, pulling a strip of shredded white cloth with it.

Its eyes glowed orange.

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