Friday, June 28, 2013

Giveaways and Upcoming Events!

As July draws near, you have several chances to follow my craziness and win a free book or two.

You can enter to win a free SIGNED PRINT of Hearts in Exile here (ENDS July 1):

Ever been embarrassed to write love scenes? Read my tips in this article, and you might gain a little courage:

You can win an e-copy of A Ranger's Tale, the first book in my Tallenmere fantasy romance series here:

You can win an e-copy of Hearts in Exile HERE:


I hope you'll take the time to enter these giveaways. You have nothing to lose, and a FREE BOOK to gain! Starting July 1, I'll be embarking on a month-long book blog tour for Hearts in Exile. I'll share every stop here so you can have a chance to win the book and some great prizes!


Saturday, June 22, 2013

Hearts in Exile Available NOW on Amazon!

It's finally arrived on Amazon in print and Kindle format!

Book Three of my stand alone fantasy romance series is there for the taking. If you've published a review already on Goodreads, I'd really appreciate you leaving it on Amazon as well. And share the news. Buy a copy. Dragons are our friends...well, most of them.

CLICK HERE to buy or review!

For those just wandering through, this series is meant to be stand-alone, so if this story appeals to you, don't be afraid to give it a go. You don't have to read the first two in order to understand this one. Though, I HOPE you'll want to afterwards!

In case you don't know what it's about:

In Tallenmere, fate has a way of catching up with you...

Somewhere, hidden in the waters of the Southern Sea, lies an island unlike any other. Within the amber glow of its pyrogem-laden cliffs, legend says the very heart of the dragon god Drae keeps the island, and its occupants, alive.

Loralee Munroviel, daughter of Leogard's High Priestess Arianne, had no idea what she would face when she arrived by boat ten years ago and was left alone in exile. All she knew about Draekoria's inhabitants was written in one tattered notebook. Now, her life revolves around keeping Drae's descendants happy. Never in her life did she imagine being a Dragon Keeper.

Captain Igrorio Everlyn, known as Sir Robert to his unit of Holy Paladins, has faced his share of hell, battling the evils of Emperor Sarvonn's tyranny and the dark god Tyr's abominations. But none of that compares to the ten years of hell he's been without Loralee, presumed dead. 

One freak storm changes everything. Now the two of them must fight to reestablish the delicate balance of the island before the dragons take things into their own hands. Through it all, they discover the secrets that kept them, and their hearts, exiled for a decade.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Melange Mania!!

Join me, Tara Fox Hall, S Hampton Sr, Melissa Starr, JoAnne Myers, and Charmaine Pauls on Friday, June 21 for "Melange Mania" in the Latte Lounge at Coffee Time Romance! We'll be in and out all day talking about our new releases, playing fun games, and giving away FREE STUFF!!

Make sure you're registered on the site so you can log in and chat with us on Friday! And PLEASE SHARE this event!!! 

This is where we'll be:

Again, make SURE you're registered on Coffee Time Romance (totally FREE) so you can log in and chat with us!

To register, go to:

To preview the books & authors featured on Friday, visit the Facebook event page:

Giveaway: Serenya's Song by...Me!

The next couple of months will present many chances for you to win books and merchandise related to my stand-alone fantasy romance series, and here's a chance to win Book Two!

Thanks to Mary at Mary's Cup of Tea for hosting this review and giveaway! Read the great review, and all you have to do for a chance to win an ecopy of Serenya's Song is to leave a comment on the blog post at THIS LINK:

Best of luck and enjoy!! ~Mysti

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Call Me MAYbe Flash Fiction Challenge WINNERS!!!

Sometimes your life can change with just ONE phone call.

Our challenge for May was to write a flash fiction piece of 1,000 words or less
that began with THIS sentence:

The phone rang.

25 stories were submitted. They ranged from scary, romantic, suspenseful, dramatic, tragic, and hilarious...but each hinged on just ONE phone call.

I want to give a HUGE thanks to everyone who submitted stories, those who read and commented, and everyone who donated prizes for the winners.

My utmost thanks goes to my 'blind judge' (my hubby, who isn't actually blind) for reading through them all and choosing the winners. I formatted every story the same, and gave them to him with only the number and title of each, so that he truly had no idea who had written which story. And don't worry--he never reads my blog, so your story was safe! :)

Without further ado, our winners are:

First Place: #14 - All That Glitters by Alayna-Renee Vilmont
Second Place: #9 - Chosen by Leila Smith
Third Place: #6: My Name's Leonard Davenport by Tom Britz

Two stories made such an impression that they received the judge's Honorable Mention. And they are:

#1 - The Pawn by Kathleen Smiley
#10 - Savi by Ayesha Inoon

Our 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners will take home these fabulous prizes!!!
Prize List:

1st Place: 
ONE 6-month premium membership to Critique Circle
ONE 2-week virtual tour (authors) or ONE Magazine Feature (anyone) from Page Turners Book Tours
40-pg. beta read or edit from First Page, Last Page
The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi (PDF)
INK: Eight Rules to a Better Book by R.S. Guthrie (1 Print & 1 e-copy)
The Magic & the Mundane: A Guide for the Writer's Journey by P. June Diehl (PDF)
Book Promo 101- Learn the Basics of Book Promotion by Nikki Leigh (e-copy)
Pumping Your Muse by Donna Sundblad (Kindle or PDF)
My Only One by Gregory M. Thompson (Kindle or ePub)
Journeys Under the Moon: Writing and the Hero's Quest by Michael Hiebert (e-copy)

2nd Place:
$10 iTunes Gift Card
$20 Photo Restoration by Stone Circle Photography
INK: Eight Rules to a Better Book by R.S. Guthrie (1 e-copy)
The Magic & the Mundane: A Guide for the Writer's Journey by P. June Diehl (PDF)
Book Promo 101- Learn the Basics of Book Promotion by Nikki Leigh (e-copy)
Pumping Your Muse by Donna Sundblad (Kindle or PDF)
My Only One by Gregory M. Thompson (Kindle or ePub)
Journeys Under the Moon: Writing and the Hero's Quest by Michael Hiebert (e-copy)

3rd Place:

$20 Photo Restoration by Stone Circle Photography
INK: Eight Rules to a Better Book by R.S. Guthrie (1 e-copy)
The Magic & the Mundane: A Guide for the Writer's Journey by P. June Diehl (PDF)
Pumping Your Muse by Donna Sundblad (Kindle or PDF)
My Only One by Gregory M. Thompson (Kindle or ePub)
Journeys Under the Moon: Writing and the Hero's Quest by Michael Hiebert (e-copy)

Congratulations to all the winners and thanks again to everyone who participated in ANY way in this contest! Stay tuned for more contests, giveaways, interviews, and craziness on Unwritten. 


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Reviews Keep Coming!

I'm so thrilled that readers are loving Hearts in Exile. Here are some snippets from two of the most recent reviews:
WOW!!!! Okay now that I have that one word out, I have to say that this installment in the Tallenmere series is just tremendous! I think Mysti Parker just keeps getting better.
~Chris Condy, Recent Reads 
Mysti Parker is clearly an accomplished storyteller whose imagination surpasses expectation. This is one of the few books I have read recently that I simply could not put down.  Clichéd as that may sound; it really is that sort of book. To say it is well-written would be superfluous. The whole shebang is flawlessly well-executed.
 ~Amelia Curzon, Carte Blanche

If you haven't already, I hope you'll grab a copy. They're available NOW straight from my publisher, Melange Books, in print, PDF, and html formats.

Monday, June 10, 2013

You Could Win a Signed Print & Other Stuff Too!

I'm giving away one signed print of Hearts in Exile to one lucky duck through a Goodreads giveaway. Enter to win here:

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Hearts In Exile by Mysti Parker

Hearts In Exile

by Mysti Parker

Giveaway ends July 01, 2013.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

You can also win an e-book copy of A Ranger's Tale (Book One) or Serenya's Song (Book Two) by entering a super-easy giveaway on the Melange Books website:

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Airion: Return to Zire by J.S. Council

On behalf of Page Turner Book Tours, I'd like to present the first book in an all-new YA epic fantasy series by indie author J.S. Council. Discover more about Airion: Return to Zire and read an exciting excerpt below!

Airion: Return to Zire
J.S. Council
Aside from his outward appearance, Kobi is a normal thirteen-year-old boy. Living with his mother, his father, and his identical twin brother, Raili, with whom he spends most days at the cove watching dolphins and whales feed, he is happy with his life just the way it is. But his fourteenth birthday is coming and Kobi has no idea how much his life is about to change.

            When Raili is pulled through a puddle in the floor of their second floor bedroom by a monster armed with poisonous, spiked tentacles, Kobi goes in after him. What he finds isn’t Raili, but a new world all together, buried beneath the ocean. With a bounty on his head that has been there since he and Raili’s birth, Kobi will have to learn to fight or die before he can be reunited with Raili again. Everything he knew to be true was a lie.

            People he loved and trusted are not who they seem. He isn’t the normal boy he thought himself to be. A transformation is coming. Raili is gone. Blood is shed. Traitors lurk, waiting for their chance. War is inevitable. The fate of the world of Airion rests in his hands. The Wiseone speaks. Failure is certain.

Formats Available: Paperback, Ebook (HTML, Kindle, Epub, PDF, RTF, LRF, Palm Doc, Plain Text (download), Plain Text (View)

BUY it at any of these retailers:



“Hey, Kobi,” said Kimi as Kobi followed his nose to the kitchen and stood in the door way, taking in the sight of broiled herb salmon, garlic mashed potatoes, and buttered corn on the kitchen counter. “I didn’t hear Raili. That’s unnatural.” Kobi moved the tray of salmon and the A Thousand and One Recipes cookbook to the side as Kimi took honey-glazed, cornbread out of the oven. “Having a fight?”

             “No, he’s sick again,” said Kobi getting the plates and silverware and setting the table. “So he’s upstairs lying down.”

            Kimi sighed heavily. “It’s the ocean,” she said quietly.

            “What?” said Kobi.

            “Does he usually feel ill just after swimming?” asked Kimi, leaning against the kitchen counter and looking Kobi straight in the eyes.

            “Sometimes,” Kobi answered, his eyes searching the floor.

Kimi sighed again. “You two shouldn’t go back to the cove,” she said. “Not until Raili’s better.”

            “But Mom—”

            “I said no, Kobi,” said Kimi, cutting him off with a narrow hand.

            Kobi let it go.

            With the table set, he went upstairs to check on Raili who was lying with his arm over his eyes.

            “Can’t you knock?” he said as Kobi closed the door behind him.

            Kobi smiled. “Do I ever? Besides, I’m not asking permission to enter my own room.”

            Raili grinned but said nothing.

            “You okay?” asked Kobi, sitting on the edge of Raili’s bed and feeling his cheek and forehead with the back of his hand; his face was clammy but not hot.          “Hungry?”

            “I guess,” Raili sighed, pulling away from Kobi. “I can’t smell anything so everything’s going to taste like cotton.”

            Raili groaned as he sat up.

            “We can’t go back to the cove,” said Kobi.

            “I heard,” said Raili. “I get sick. I don’t know what it is. I feel really good in the water, like that’s where I belong. Then I leave and I feel horrible, like I’m seasick.”

            “I get the same feeling in the water,” said Kobi. “Why do you get sick and I don’t?”

            Raili just shrugged. “What’s that?” he said, pointing to the corner.

            “Water?” said Kobi, staring at a perfectly round puddle. “Did you spill anything?”

            Raili shook his head, coughing profusely.

            “Raili, come get some Kusuri Tea for that cough!” called Kimi from downstairs. “Dinner is getting cold!”

            “She has ears like a bat,” said Raili, still coughing.

            “I hear ya,” said Kobi, “but are you okay?”

            “I’m fine,” said Raili, clearing his throat and breathing harder than normal. “Let’s go.”

            “You go ahead. I’ll catch up.”

            Kobi threw one of Raili’s—or maybe one of his—old shirts on the circular puddle, tapping it lightly with his foot. Within seconds, the shirt was soaked and the floor felt strangely soft under his touch. But only a dark brown stain remained when Kobi lifted the shirt. How long had that puddle been there?

            Kobi’s stomach wouldn’t let him investigate any further. He threw the dripping shirt into the clothesbasket and ran downstairs to dinner, his stomach doing cartwheels from hunger.


"Although I didn’t fully commit to making writing my life’s work until my sophomore year of college, I have always been a writer at heart. I was the only student in class to get excited about school papers, even asking to write a few for extra credit on occasion. I graduated from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington with a degree in Creative Writing – Fiction. After graduating, I moved to Japan where I wrote most of my debut novel, Airion: Return to Zire and all of my second novel Airion: Light and Dawn – the first two of a four book series. Japan was a peaceful place to just sit and write, but life in Japan was also filled with adventure. However much I loved it there, I had to return home to do what I love most. Write.”

Contact the Author:

Saturday, June 8, 2013

COVER REVEAL: Breaking the Rules by Melinda Dozier

Hey everyone, take a look at this fab new contemporary romance coming out by Melinda Dozier in July. Go ahead and add it to your reading list!

 Breaking the Rules
 Melinda Dozier

Published by: Crimson Romance
Release Date: July 8, 2013

A forbidden love affair in the past has led Hope Robinson, a middle school principal, to Harbor Bay, Florida, where she commits herself to play by the rules. This can be difficult for a perpetual klutz, who—even strapped in a cast—has to uphold a competent attitude at all times.

Luckily, she has Dr. Colin Calaway on her side, a widower and father of a student, who is ready to give love another try. When Colin convinces Hope they should explore the connection between them, a steamy romance develops, though it could destroy them both. They must decide if their jobs—and their hearts—are worth the risk.

Melinda Dozier lives in Guatemala, Central America, with her husband, three boys and German Shepherd.  She enjoys being the queen of her household and dreams of being pampered fully by her boys once they’re grown. Learn more about her at

Friday, June 7, 2013

Call Me MAYbe Flash Fiction #25: Long Distance by AJ Joseph

Welcome to the Call Me MAYbe Flash Fiction Challenge!!

All stories begin with "The phone rang" and are no more than 1,000 words. **CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED!** For full contest rules and prize list, visit this link:

#25: Long Distance 


AJ Joseph

The phone rang while I was sitting outside on Rafaella’s patio. It was another balmy morning. It was only 9am but the backs of my sweaty thighs were already adhered to the plastic patio chair. I had my head tilted back; my eyes closed as I let the warm breeze play with my messy, unwashed hair. My hands gripped the chair handles as I silently chanted Dontcrydontcrydontcry. A rebel tear escaped my left eye, flowed down my cheeks and veered to my lips. Bitter salt.

I’d slid the shutter screen shut but left the outer glass sliding door slightly ajar. I usually closed both. That morning as I stumbled out after a long, sleepless, troubled night, I’d forgotten my routine.  

I let the shrill ring continue for a little while longer and when I couldn’t resist its siren song, I got up.  My hand was on the sliding door when it stopped ringing. I was relieved and disappointed in equal measure.

I sat myself back down on the chair I’d vacated only minutes before and continued to stare at nothing.

My thoughts went to my phone - its beige shell with the faded grey buttons; the white numbers barely discernible, which was in this place before I was. I remember Rafaella telling me that her previous tenant, someone she referred to as the disgusting, messy fellow who always had dirty dishes in the sink, had gotten the phone from the telecommunication company when he applied for a new phone line.

When I first moved in and saw the phone, He was the first person I called. I remember how tentative He was when he answered His phone, seeing a number He didn’t recognise. Once He learnt it was me, our conversation filled with I miss yous and I love yous. I giggled euphorically when I hung up. I loved that phone.

For the next 15 months, the phone and I were near inseparable. 

We took turns calling one another, once a week and always on my Friday nights which were His Saturday mornings.

My friends at university were well aware of this schedule and after the first few times, they’d stop asking me to join them on Friday nights. They were all too familiar by then with my refrain of “I’m sorry, I can’t.” whenever they asked if I would join them for a night out.

I remember nights on my bed with the phone cradled between my ear and shoulder as we spoke of future plans.  We wanted a short engagement. A small wedding. Somewhere in the city. Probably the botanical gardens.

It wasn’t all flowers and rainbows. Relationship by phone was frustrating. We fought, which couple hadn’t?

The 2-inch crack on the right side of the phone was from when we fought about His penchant for going out clubbing and telling me that He had to resist Himself from going home with one of the girls, who was just a colleague, He danced with that night. I remember telling Him that I appreciated His honesty but it really hurt me. He suggested I get over it because in the end He didn’t. I slammed the phone down and heard the crack.

Immediately after, I went into the walk-in closet, switched on the overhead light and cried till I slept, hugging myself from the cold. The phone didn’t ring the whole night. I hated it, that contraption of torture.

The next morning though, it did.

He had had a sleepless night too but didn’t call back immediately because He wanted to give me my space. He said that He loved me and He was a jerk for being insensitive. I remember holding back my responses, trying to hold all the cards but when He started crying, I broke. I told Him I loved Him back but it was getting more difficult. 

Cryptically, He said He knew.   

I loved the phone again.

But it was a short-lived romance.

It was a Thursday. Several weeks after the phone-cracking incident, which we affectionately called it. I’d just received news that my supervisor had passed my thesis describing it as timely and informative. I couldn’t wait till Friday to call Him.

His mobile phone rang for several minutes. I tried to remember if He had classes that day and calculated the time it was for Him.  My Thursday morning, His Wednesday night. I was ready to hang up and call again when I heard the familiar click of the phone being picked up. I immediately launched into my news before He said hello. When I was done, I remember asking Him “Say something!”

“Who is this?” asked the person who picked up. A female person.

I froze.

The world around me froze.

My future disappeared.

I stared at the phone I held in my hands not believing what I thought was happening.
I heard the rustle of sheets and a voice in the background commanded sleepily with a hint of urgency “Babe, don’t!”

In all that happened, I was stuck on Babe. Strange. He’d never called me Babe. He called me Dear or sometimes, when He’s being especially affectionate, Love.

Babe? Never.

Before I embarrassed myself by shouting profanities at the person on the other end of the line, I slammed the phone down. This time, there was a hairline crack on the inner side of the receiver.  
Right that very second, I hated the phone. Loathed it. Detested it.

Now it was morning.

And the phone rang again.

It was Him. I knew it. He would placate me and apologise and tell me that He would never do it again. That it was a momentary lapse. He’d say He loved me and only me.
Dontcrydontcrydontcry I remind myself as I watched the squirrel scamper in the trees, luxuriating in the day.

I let the phone continue to ring.


AJ is a bookaholic, semi-insomniac, unsuccessful recovering java-holic and most importantly, an aspiring writer. She's been in and out of writing almost all her life, trying to fit it in between work and travels. She's recently decided to give writing her all and is in the process of re-structuring her life around her first love - words. She blogs at  

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Call Me MAYbe Flash Fiction #24: The Phone Rang by Pie & Kandy Kay Scaramuzzo

Welcome to the Call Me MAYbe Flash Fiction Challenge!!

All stories begin with "The phone rang" and are no more than 1,000 words. **CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED!** For full contest rules and prize list, visit this link:

#24: The Phone Rang
Pie & Kandy Kay Scaramuzzo
 The phone rang. At least, that is what the keeper said it was doing last time it made that awful racket. Actually, when it does that ringing thing, it sounds a lot like one of the hens we have here at the barn after has just laid an egg. Squawk, squawk, squawk, like anyone really cares that it has just littered our barn with more skunk food. Unfortunately, unlike the chicken that eventually stops, (sometimes with my help), this thing just keeps on squawking until it is answered.
    For some reason, the keeper felt it was necessary to install that squawk box in our nice quiet barn. It seems to have something to do with the way humans communicate. Rather than trumpeting a nice loud neigh, they just knock the thing apart and make noises in it.  The contraption itself is quite interesting, it fastens to the wall like one of our feeders and has its own lead rope connecting the two so the pieces won’t get separated or lost. I can’t believe something that is that complicated even has a place in my barn. At the moment, I am finding its usefulness factor a bit questionable.
     The keeper and the little one have used it a couple of times I assume to talk to the sire or the vet. I think they even used it once to order feed. I remember that day quite well. It was the day the keeper switched us from the heavenly green alfalfa hay to the plain old bland coastal grass hay.  I know, I know, the coastal is also green and it is healthy hay, but it is not the heavenly hay I love so much. I guess you could say I have become a bit addicted to the stuff. Some humans are addicted to their coffee, (you can smell it on them when they come out in the mornings). There is nothing better than fresh alfalfa in the mornings. Hmm, heaven, but I digress…
      Oh my goodness, there’s that squawking noise again. Let me see what I can do about this. The chickens stop squawking if I nudge them a bit with my nose. Let me try this. There we go, it stopped.  Oops, it looks like I broke it. It’s not squawking anymore, it’s just kind of hanging there by its twirly lead rope.
     Wait! What is that I hear? Someone is talking. Who is that? It sounds really close. Well, what do you know?  It’s no longer squawking, it is talking, and it is a talking squawk box. How about that? Let me get a little closer down by this thing and see what exactly is going on with it.
     I know that voice! It’s the voice of the guy who delivers my hay. What is that he is asking? Do I want plain grass hay or my sweet alfalfa? He seems to think we have a bad connection. He is asking again, plain grass hay or sweet alfalfa?
    Now horses, especially smart ones like me that have been around awhile can make a variety of sounds. One very handy sound we make sounds like a low guttural cough.  If I time this just right, I can work this to my advantage. Here he goes again, grass hay or “cough, cough”, alfalfa?  Yes!  It is working. He has just put us down for alfalfa and he hopes we get over our cold soon.   Wait, what is he asking now? Do I want two bales or two truckloads?  Well, that is certainly a no brainer. Let me clear my throat so he will ask again.  Okay, do I want two bales, or “cough, cough” two truckloads?  Great! He caught it and has signed us up for two truckloads of alfalfa.  He also thinks we need to see a doctor, our cold sounds really bad. 
    So I guess it was a good idea to put the squawk box in my nice quiet barn after all. The phone rang and made my day. Now I will go dream about the sweet alfalfa hay they will be delivering tomorrow and have a bit of giggle when people ask how the keeper’s cold is coming along.

Kandy Kay Scaramuzzo is a seventh generation Texan who has her own brick at The Cowgirl Museum. She has taught in alternative education for over twenty years. Ms.Scaramuzzo is a member of the 2012 Strathmore's Who's Who. She has a BA in Criminology and MAedCT. She works in horse, dog, cat and snake rescues. Ms. Scaramuzzo has been a tester observer for therapy dogs for nine years. She ran a therapy horse riding program for autistic children for five years. She has been a recognized animal behaviorist for over 20 years. This is her first book about an exceptional horse. She feels it is important to give back to maintain the balance of a civilized society.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Call Me MAYbe Flash Fiction #23: The Question by Cliff Commanday

Welcome to the Call Me MAYbe Flash Fiction Challenge!!

All stories begin with "The phone rang" and are no more than 1,000 words. **CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED!** For full contest rules and prize list, visit this link:

#23: The Question 
Cliff Commanday

The phone rang. The crisp clang of the old-fashioned metal bell beneath the red handle cut through the small room’s stale recycled air. At first Meredith ignored it, leaning back in her chair and arching her spine, stretching her tight white T-shirt around her chest. Carter watched her from the station next to hers.
She gripped her neck and stretched her elbow backwards. With a big breath, she looked at Carter, asking, “You gonna answer that, buddy?”
“No,” he said curtly, turning his stare to the red handle. He bit his lower lip and scrunched his eyes.
Meredith leaned forward, tucking her shirt back into her camo-printed khakis. “Come on, couldn’t be the real thing—just answer it. It’s your turn.”
His green eyes darted between her and the handle. He extended his hand; then it tightened into a shaking fist and pulled it back toward his chest. “I can’t. What if…”
The phone rang.
“C’mon. It’s just protocol.” Meredith tsked. “You know that thing rings ‘bout every sixty days for testing. Fine. I’ll—“
Carter grabbed her hand as she reached for the phone. “I’ve got a bad feeling, M.”
Her body jerked in surprise. “Hey!” The fierceness in her yell cracked her usual façade of gentility.
“Wait. Today’s what?” he asked. “The twenty-first, right?”
Meredith glanced at her screen, wincing, tugging her arm away. “Yeah. So? Let go, man, or—“
“It rang just last month on the twelfth,” Carter said.
Her irritated expression dissipated into confusion as she did the math, her hand still clutched by his. “Umm. Wait,” she said, her voice now just above a whisper. “That’s only—“
“Right.” Carter said, releasing her hand.
She pulled it back rubbing her moist and sore wrist. Her body shivered resisting the logic.
The phone rang again.
“N-N-No!” Meredith darted out of her chair to the other side of the room. She leaned against the row of grey metal machines, her back pressing buttons long ignored, and slid to the floor. Her knees were tight to her chest; her bent elbows resting on them covered her head. “They…they wouldn’t really do it.”
Carter walked over to her. She looked up, her blue eyes scared and glistening. The cuff of her sleeve knocked astray a blonde lock from her tight ponytail and it fell across her face. He knelt down to her and brushed the hair gently aside and behind her ear, allowing his fingers to run across her smooth cheek.
The phone rang.
“Make it stop. Make it stop, Carter.”
“M, the only way I can do that is to answer it. And I…can’t do that. Not before I…” He slid down next to her against the wall of outdated machines, his own t-shirt stretching across his ripped chest. He tilted his head back with a deep inhale.
They stared at the ringing old-fashioned red telephone. He pulled out a key on a metal chain from beneath his shirt and held it tightly. She clutched at hers between her breasts.
They were silent as it rang again. And again.
He nudged her elbow. “M!”
“What, Carter? What could you possibly say to make this better?”
“That phone’s not supposed to ring now, Carter. We’re not supposed to actually have to turn our keys. I mean, maybe if this was back in the Reagan days. Or Bush. Or the dumb Bush,” she said. “This was just supposed to pay for college. I was gonna be a nurse. Help people. Not this.”
“We…could be wrong,” Carter said. “Maybe it’s not real.”
“I never thought we’d actually have to do it.”
“M? If we do have to turn our keys. I, I need to ask you something.”
Meredith snapped him a look of disgust. “Oh, no. Don’t go all John Hughes on me here. This ain’t no sappy rom-com. There’s gonna be no ‘one last time before the end’ crap here.”
Meredith pushed herself up with a hand against his shoulder. “You! You’re the one who started all this! ‘I’ve got a bad feeling,’ you said.” She stood over him. “All this time you’re the quiet one. Months here at a time and you let me ramble on about everything going on in my life back topside, always listening, always with your good advice, but never anything about your life. And now. You pick now to express your ‘feelings’?”
Carter said, “But I haven’t even asked you yet. This is hard to say. I—“
“If we gotta do this, then hell, we will. Gave our word, right? It’s all gotta mean something, right?” She took the key from beneath her shirt. “Fine. So it ends. Maybe I get to see my mom and dad again, my brother and sister. Maybe turning this key is the only way.”
Meredith grasped the receiver as it rang again. She inserted her key into a slot encircled by gleaming red aluminum. “Carter. Get up and insert your key.”
Carter didn’t move. He looked around their grey steel bunker, the flashing monitors, and the empty cots in the other room. “Meredith?”
“Carter, get up and insert your key.” She placed her other hand on her sidearm.
“Meredith? What are you doing?” He stood. “Twenty seconds ago we were talking Sixteen Candles, and now…”
Meredith flipped the safety on her pistol with her thumb.
Carter walked over and inserted his key as the phone rang.
Meredith picked up the handset.
“Wait,” Carter yelled. “Before—“
“If you say you love me, I swear, I’ll shoot you right after you turn that key.”
Carter grabbed the phone from her, held it muffled to his chest. “No. Meredith, no, I, don’t love you. But…”
“What, man?” She tightened her grip on her pistol as the voice from the phone got louder.
Carter gathered his courage. “But, if, it isn’t the end…in case this guy’s screaming this is all a test…I’ve always wanted to ask…” Carter paused. “Can I get your sister’s number?”

Cliff Commanday has worked professionally in fields related to art and design for the past twenty years, first as an educator, then primarily as a graphic designer since 1996. He’s a proud geek and writer/reader of science fiction, with a particular love of cyberpunk. Unpublished outside of academia, he’s working on his first novel. In the meantime, he uses his love of writing and editing for his design clients.