Short Stories with  a twist.
   Romance with a
touch of class.  

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Kathryn Daugherty
Author of Sweet Romance

       Welcome to my web site. I hope to bring you information on upcoming books
and short stories.

       My journey as a novelist, has been more amazing than I could have imagined!
I thank you the readers for the excitement this adventure has produced. Stay
tuned for more works that are in process. I hope you will take time to explore
the rest of the website.
My first story for the website is a  Grim Romance for the Halloween season

A Grim Halloween Romance Story 
          Kathryn Daugherty  

     Woof, Woof, clump, clump, clump, creek, creek, creek, creek, perhaps an oink, moo, or baa, then sluice…. thud, the day had begun. Every morning the king woke to the very same sounds. They made him smile. The dog was barking at the female executioner, as she walked across the courtyard to her post.
The sluice… thud from the test of the blade. The test dummy usually being whatever the king would require for his evening meal. A calf, a hog, or maybe even a goat.
The sharper the blade, the less painful the execution. The executioner took great pride in sharping her blade. Making it right to kill hundreds and on an exceptional day possibly even thousands if the prisoners cooperated.
     Sluice…thud, sluice…thud. The guillotine would work from the surge of first light to the fading of the daytime glow. Mattered, not the time of the year, the deaths came day after day, season to season. Spring mornings, to wintry dusk. Sluice … thud, sluice… thud.
     The sluice…thud, amplified from the killing room. From the cells, you heard the death of every male prisoner scheduled to meet their maker, if it wasn’t your day to die. The victims ranged in age from young boys to the elderly gentlemen. You might be a young 26-year old male or an infirmed man who walked with a cane
or walker. Your physical condition or station in life made no difference. If you were male, your head would roll. Sluice…thud, sluice…thud.
      Every male person in the kingdom on the moor had a price on their head for a crime they may or not had committed. The king manufactured crimes if you had not committed a real offense. Whatever it took to condemn you to the gallows if you were male. The king was the judge and jury. His troops of Amazon
women carried out his commands. Many a sniper tried to kill the king, when they were caught, they went to the head of the line to their execution. No questions asked.
The king’s women caught the convicts and escorted them to their death. Sluice…thud, sluice…thud.
     Some of the hostages went to their death with head held high, others passed out when they reached the room of implementation when they saw and not just heard the blade do its deed. Several screamed and cried. Many bent their heads in prayer. Each man held a different position to his death.
     If the king was not watching the Amazon women practicing their jousting, or the court jester making him laugh. He might hover above the room of death like a winged dragon, watching in rapt anticipation of the last man’s death. Sluice…thud, sluice…thud.
     He believed he had noble reason to order the deaths of these men and boys. After all, the Amazon woman of his dreams had said. “The only way I’d ever marry you is… if you were the last man on earth.”

A Christmas story for your reading pleasure.

T’was the week before Christmas, Cliff and I were at the kitchen counter having our evening cocktail and watching re-runs of “The Last Man Standing.”  The flashing of light and the noise of a crash interrupted our quiet evening at home.

We reached for our coats and boots. We headed down the lane in the old white Dodge pick-up. With high beams shining, we bounced across the corn stubble field. Then we came to where the lights had disappeared.

We assumed we were going to find a small plane that had missed the runway at the Pella airport. Imagine our surprise when we found a massive red sleigh with a mangled runner.

To our amazement, there was a reindeer, yes a reindeer, he was prancing, and yes, I said prancing and shaking his head. Before he saw us, you could hear him say, yes a talking reindeer. “Darn it, darn it, darn it! Why do things like this happen to me? Why me?”

There was no doubt; the deer was upset. I elbowed Cliff and whispered, “Maybe you should go and talk to him. See if you can calm him down.”

Cliff gave me a look, yes, we’ve all seen it before, the one that asks the question—are you out of your mind? Then he pleaded, “Why don’t you talk to him, her, or it? You’re much better with anguish than I am.”

I reminded him that he was the one who had more skill with animals. He had more experience with deer. I just hoped the reindeer would not realize that Cliff’s history involved sighting his fellow deer friends with his rifle. 

I gave him another jab. He took hold of my hand and pulled me along.
“Er... hello,” Cliff called out, “Excuse me can we be of some help?”

You know what I’m going to say: He gave us. . . “That deer in the headlight look.” He was large, and the gigantic rack he carried made him look even larger. The size of the animal made Cliff stop in his tracks. I didn’t anticipate his stopping and ran into his backside. Cliff’s that is. Cliff whispered. “I think we should just go back to the house and pretend we never saw any of this.”

Before I could speak, the deer sprang in front of us. They do fly.

“Oh, boy I’m in soooo much trouble.” He said. Yes, as I told you before they do speak. “I’m begging you please do not tell Santa you’ve seen me.  See we’re not supposed to be around people, especially, if you are a deer in training. I’ll never make the team now. My hopes and dreams are dashed.” He hung his head in shame, dragging his antlers in the dirt. His action only made him look more pathetic.

I felt so sad for him; he looked so dejected. “Cliff do something, anything.” I cried. “You have to help him,” I begged.

The deer raised its head, and as alligator tears dripped from his enormous brown eyes, he said. “It’s okay, everything I do is wrong, I’m used to it. Unfortunate things are always happening when I’m involved. All I have ever wanted was a chance to be on Santa’s backup team. He has annual try-outs; this was my last chance before I’m over the age limit. So tonight, Cupid gave me the keys to the sleigh and told me to go practice. Everything was going perfectly until I encountered that flock of pelicans. They are huge birds. When I swerved to avoid them, I caught a downdraft and well here’s the result. Now, I’ll have to call and have the rescue team come and get me.”

I could tell Cliff felt terrible for the critter. “Let me take a look at the runner maybe I can fix it, it doesn’t look like a total loss.”

“He’s right if it can be fixed Cliff can do it.” 

The reindeer listened intently to what I had said, but then shook his head and he whined. “It seems every week I do something wrong. Last week I tripped going through the workshop, I was carrying a tray with cookies and milk for the elves break. The pitcher of milk fell off the tray hit an electrical box that blew the electricity. It was out for over two hours. Put everyone behind on Christmas deadlines.”

“That was bad for sure but, they were able to fix it and go back to work. If you look at the positive, like when Jesse, our German Wirehair, chewed the lid off the RV anti-freeze. We didn’t know how much if any, he drank, but it isn’t anything to fool with it could have killed him. So Cliff took him to the Vet, and he hooked him up to an “Everclear” IV drip. Because it was not the toxic anti-freeze, we were able to bring him home within a few hours. He was out of it all afternoon, and as the Vet predicted he had a horrible hangover the next day. But, after all of that he’s just fine.”

Cliff had been examining the runner while I tried to calm down the deer. “I think I can straighten that runner, and it will be good as new, then you can head back up North with no one the wiser. By the way, do you have a name?”

“I’m sorry, I should have introduced myself, I’m Eugene.” He said with a nod of his head.

“Eugene pleased to meet you, this is my wife Kathryn, and I’m Cliff.”

“Please call me Gene that’s what my friends call me.”

“Okay Gene, I’ll get the trailer, and we’ll get this hauled back to my workshop.”

While Cliff worked on the sleigh, Gene played in the yard with Jesse, showing him some reindeer games. Soon the sleigh was good as new. Gene was ready for his return flight. Gene leaned in and rubbed his antler on Cliff’s shoulder in a gesture of thanks. Cliff patted him, and told him, “Things usually turn out well, and that is a good lesson to remember. You have a safe trip now.” Off into the night sky flying Santa’s sleigh with Gene in control.

We didn’t think we would hear from Gene ever again. We were wrong. Christmas Eve, while we were asleep, we were woken by the noise of hooves on the roof. Hurrying to get out of bed. Jesse had already made it to the door. We made our way out on the deck. To our surprise, low and behold, there was Gene all decked out in red harness and gold bells, in the middle of Santa’s reindeer team.

“Well, for crying out Pete sake, look it’s Gene!  I shrieked, “What are you doing here?”

“Santa said I could stop by and thank you in person, I told him about your pep talk, and fixing the runner, he let me try out despite all of the trouble, and I made the backup team.”

Cliff scratched his head and asked, “Doesn’t look like the backup team to me, isn’t that the jolly old elf himself in the sled?”

“Sure is,” Gene beamed. “Cupid came down with the flu, so here I am.” Gene winked at Cliff.

“Good for you Gene, glad we could help,” Cliff said.

“We’re on a tight schedule, we’re off, thanks again for everything.”  

With a crack of a whip, the sleigh lifted off the roof. As they flew out of sight, we heard Santa say.

 “Merry Christmas to all and to all a Good Night.”  

Cliff and I wish you all a very Merry Christmas. Good Health, Safe Travels, Happiness, and Love in the New Year. May 2018 bring you the best.

 Cliff and Kathryn