Tag Archives: free reads

Only Son: a Slipstream short

(The following piece of flash fiction contains minor spoilers for The Slipstream Con.)


“Oh, I was an art student.”  The instant Kellen uttered the seemingly innocuous words, he wanted them back behind his teeth, swallowed down deep into the lost part of him that shouldn’t even exist anymore.  “Of course I was also the wealthy son of an investment banker, and possibly a lost Imperial cousin.”

Vanya kissed his forehead, her hand gentle on the back of his head as she moved past him.  “The difference is, only one of those was true.”

He didn’t answer her, but he didn’t go to bed that night, either.  She came into his studio hours after she should have been asleep, and her voice was soft.  “I didn’t mean to upset you.  I don’t know how I did, but if you tell me what I said, I’ll figure out if I’m apologizing or not.”

Kellen laughed, staring at the brush in his hand for too long before he replied.  “You didn’t do anything wrong.”  It felt like he was breathing fire, his tongue shaping flames as he spit out an explanation that didn’t really tell her anything, and still felt too revealing.  “I like who I am.  I like who I’ve become.  I’ve never liked who I was.”

“You’ve changed, though.  You’ve gotten out of that life–”

“I don’t mean my alleged criminal activities.”  Red paint dripped from his brush into the canvas, marring the landscape.  He made no move to wipe it off.  “I can’t talk about it.  And I don’t mean to hurt your feelings, but I don’t want to be around anyone right now.  Can you just…”

He didn’t have to ask her to go.  The door shut halfway through his request, and he didn’t know if she was on the wrong side or not, but at least he was alone.

Angry with himself, Kellen picked up a tube of crimson paint and filled his palm with it, smearing it across the perfect copy of Hoefling’s famous starscape, Imperial City.  He’d worked on it since the anonymous trail turned up a result he was almost insulted by.

Kellen hadn’t seen her face in years, but his fingers dragged it out of the brilliant red pigment, smudging in age he hadn’t witnessed, and a smile he barely remembered.  When he was done, so angry he could barely keep it in, he ran a hand through his hair, ignoring the paint, and stared at the portrait until it dried just enough that there was no way to erase her.

It didn’t matter that she was alive.  It wouldn’t have, to anyone but her son, and he was dead and buried, a year shy of graduating art school when he was dropped in the ground.

He should have left it alone, but it was a sickness he’d suffered from lately, this feeling like he needed to tie up loose ends.  He wasn’t dying, or settling up a score, or clearing the way for a new con, and there was no good reason to have gone looking for her, not after all this time.

He wasn’t her son.  He could remind himself of that all he wanted, but the fact remained that he’d found her alive, and he didn’t know what to do about it.  He wasn’t her son, just a man of his own making, who used her son’s face.  He owed her nothing, and wanted nothing she could give.

Her son’s name had been Grant.  He didn’t know who Grant would have been, but it was a fair bet it wouldn’t have been Kellen Frey.  He wasn’t sure Vanya and Tal would see the difference between them, and he couldn’t take that chance.

Alone, in the wee tiny hours before the false dawn of a ship on the drift, Kellen sealed her away with wide swaths of black paint.  Her face disappeared from the canvas, mouth first so she couldn’t spill his secrets.


Kellen Frey’s Rules of the Con

Kellen Frey has made a study of the con for many years, and he’s damn good at the game he plays.  He’s got a set of guidelines, and he sticks to them… Unless he doesn’t.  Want to run a con like Kellen?  Check out a few of his rules before dipping your toe into the world of professional lies.


Kellen Frey’s Rules of the Con

1. Don’t forget what you want out of the game.

2. Your job is to convince someone that they want what you want them to want.

3. Never believe your own con.

4. A good con needs a composer and conductor- you’re both.  As a composer, you have to create the most beautiful masterwork ever performed.  As a conductor, you have to keep the work accessible to your audience.  Perfection is rare, and rarer still in people.  It’s better to bring the human touch to your game than it is to look as though you’ve already written your mark’s part.


Kellen, his rules, and the bounty hunters who make him question all of them can be found in The Slipstream Con.

Fifteen Minute Fiction – Inkling, pt. 14

Finally, new Inkling.  In which Grays brings a stranger home– or is it that his home is stranger?

(If you need to catch up, you can always read the full story (for free!) here: Inkling )

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Fifteen Minute Fiction – Inkling (pt. 12)

When last we left Our Protagonists, one of them was bleeding, and one of them was pretty sure his day had just gotten even weirder– and that’s saying something, given the day he’s had so far.  We now return you to Inkling, already in progress.

(If you need to catch up, you can always read the full story (for free!) here: Inkling

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Fifteen Minute Fiction – Inkling, pt. 11

Inkling returns from hiatus!  When last we left Our… Er, let’s call them protagonists, shall we?  Heroes might be stretching the definition a bit.  Anyway.  When last we saw or intrepid duo, this was going on:

Collin spoke again, low, glaring at Emygdia as though he’d prefer to yell.  “If I was lying, I never would have come here.  You might not trade in kind with the family, but there are plenty of people in the valley who know my name, and who would throw their lot in with me just to try ousting my uncle.  I could lie, say I still have the power for it, but I don’t.  And I don’t want that.  He promised me a life, free of his interference, and that’s all I need from him.  If he finds out what I’ve done, dying will be the least of my worries.  If he thinks someone else knows anything…”  His cadence didn’t change, but his gaze dropped, until his final words were addressed more to the floor than either of them.  “Secrets aren’t the same thing as lies.”

And now, we return you to you regularly scheduled mayhem!

(If you need to catch up, you can always read the full story (for free!) here: Inkling


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Free Read- Want, Take, Have. (A Slipstream short story.)

Those of you who didn’t get the chance to participate in the Long and Short Reviews/Whipped Cream Reviews 4th Anniversary blogfest can still reap a reward- we wrote a brand new short story featuring the characters from The Slipstream Con, celebrating an anniversary of their own.

Enjoy, feel free to comment, and spread the link around.  (Be aware that the story does contain minor spoilers for The Slipstream Con.)


Want, Take, Have.

Fifteen Minute Fiction – Inkling (part 9)

In which Grays is licked by the supernatural, and Collin may or may not be lying.

As always, you can catch up on the entire story (for free!) here: Inkling

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Fifteen Minute Fiction – Inkling (pt. 7)

Confession time- I actually wrote this in 3 chunks, but never came to a good stopping point, so I haven’t posted until now.  All three of you reading can chastise me soundly for this if you wish. (Hi, Mom!)

Part 7 – In which Collin does not avail himself of public transportation.  As always, you can read the entire (ongoing) story here: Inkling – Fifteen Minute Fiction

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Fifteen Minute Fiction – Inkling (3)

And on to part three.  Or you can read the entire (ongoing) text of Inkling here.

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Fifteen Minute Fiction – Inkling (2)

Timing worked out for a little more today.  I admit it, I fudged my schedule just a little so that I could be sure to have fifteen minutes before going home.

Inkling (Part 2)
An ongoing flash fiction WIP
Reesa Herberth

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