Taming the Weald….

19 Mar

Today we have the pleasure of welcoming Lindsey Duncan to the GSP Fireflires Promo.


LINDSEY DUNCAN is a life-long writer and professional Celtic harp performer, with short fiction and poetry in numerous speculative fiction publications. She feels that music and language are inextricably linked. She lives, performs and teaches harp in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Visit Lindsey’s Website at: http://www.lindseyduncan.com/writing.htm

Her book that we are highlighting today is Taming the Weald.


Timid Keryn wants nothing more than to be a mother. Within the Wealdthe last bastion of nature on the space station that serves as her homeshe encounters Verdant, a daughter of that forest who has somehow survived without parents or community. Keryn tries to prepare the girl for life in the station, but Verdant has strengths and secrets of her own.


     Keryn pressed her back against the wall under the ventilation pipe and tried to make herself smaller as the three gossips wandered up the space sta-tion corridor. Common sense—even the fringes of the Weald were dangerous—warred with the hot flush of embarrassment working up from her stomach.
     “. . . third time she has requested a child.” The voice belonged to Nila, a cloth-constructor.
     “Of course. The matchers have no time for her.”
     “And she still wants to try?”
     Of course she did. Keryn didn’t mind if it was a boy or girl, from her genetic stock or not—who would want big feet, a flat face, and coarse, almost colorless hair?—she simply wanted a child.
     Hearing Nila’s derisive laughter, Keryn pushed off the wall and rounded the corner. An ominous spectre of green swept out before her. Sneaking tendrils of grasses and flowers gave way to crouching shrubbery and then the trees: dark, deadly giants whose leaves cast shadows more treacherous and uncertain than the comforting black of space.
     The fence was perfunctory. Station denizens knew better than to enter the Weald. She scrambled over, hearing the weird crunch of grass under her feet. The smell was acrid, unpleasant. The ground seemed to wobble underfoot, con-stantly out of sync with what she expected. She was thankful she didn’t have far to go to take cover behind a bush.
     Keryn pulled her arms in, protecting herself from the leaves. She knew the greenery was poisonous to eat, not whether it was harmful to touch, but why take chances? If nothing else, it might cause a rash. She felt a surge of wistful-ness. These were wisdoms a mother passed on. Safety, care—not attributes she displayed now.
     The gossips meandered into view. “I heard the matchers told her that her work quality needed to be higher,” Nila said, “but she won’t—or can’t—improve it.”
     Keryn flushed, pressing against the unsanitary dirt before she remembered herself. She was dedicated to her work with food-synth machines. Nothing broke down on her watch—ever. That was more than many operators could say.
     As the gossips moved on, she became aware the Weald was not silent, as she had originally assumed. The noise was not the familiar thrumming of the pipes, but a crackling, rustling, the whistle of air movement. Could there be creatures living here? Surely the station leaders would have plundered the Weald had there been any evidence of uncontrolled organic life.
     Then she heard it: a cry of pain.
     Keryn leapt up, flashing a look towards the gossips, but they were too far away. The voice sounded young and fearful, and that was enough to impel her over a log and into the inky-green shadows.
     The Weald resisted her: branches reaching for her face, the ground swerving away from her feet. She stumbled, drawn on by the voice even as the rest of her panicked.
     She broke through the trees into an open patch. Two massive thorn bushes twined together as if fighting, and twisted up in their martial embrace was a girl.
     At first, it was hard to tell where foliage ended and girl began. Leaves and vines clothed her form, woven as neatly as Nila’s work, and her skin betrayed a faint green flush, as if lit from within. She couldn’t have been older than ten or eleven, and Keryn felt a surge of protectiveness before questions set in: who was she? How had she gotten here? It couldn’t be recent, not with the clothes and the way her body seemed to harmonize with her surroundings.
     The girl twisted, whimpering. As she did, Keryn noticed a spindly branch had pushed its way into her calf, blood flowing.
     “I’m going to help you,” Keryn said, approaching with her hands spread. “You need to stop struggling.”
     The girl started, head snapping up. Her body went still, quivering with nerves. Dark, animal eyes watched Keryn as she knelt down, unwinding branches and pulling other thorns free. Keryn winced when a branch snapped back and stabbed her. Poison! She pushed down the panic.
     “You’ll be fine,” she continued in what she hoped was a soothing tone. “Just a few scratches. Give me a moment and you’ll be free, I promise.”
     The girl regarded her, the puff of her breath slowing. She still didn’t speak—could she speak?
     Keryn soon untangled the leg except for the embedded branch. She gazed up at the sweet, smooth face and swallowed.
     “I need to pull this out,” she said. “It will hurt. Trust me?”
     Those deep feral eyes widened. The girl nodded.
     She understands me, Keryn thought. I hope. She braced her hand on the branch and pulled.
     The girl shrieked. The sharpened end slid out, slick with blood. Keryn sank back, hands shaking. She daubed the blood away with her sleeve.
     “It’s all right,” she said. “It’s out.” Her heart smacked against the inside of her chest. “What’s your name?” She didn’t expect an answer.
     “Verdant.” The girl’s voice was clear, unwavering. “Thank you for helping me.”
     “We’re not done,” Keryn said, “I need to free your arms.”
     Verdant shook her head. “Now that it’s not hurting as much, I can think,” she said. “I can do—this.”

Links: http://www.gypsyshadow.com/Lindsey%20Duncan.html#TamingExc



One Response to “Taming the Weald….”

  1. chalaedra March 19, 2013 at 5:01 pm #

    Reblogged this on Chalaedra's Weblog and commented:
    Timid Keryn wants nothing more than to be a mother. Taming the Weald, a short story by Lindsey Duncan. Available from Amazon, other fine eBook vendors and Gypsy Shadow Publishing at: http://www.gypsyshadow.com/Lindsey%20Duncan.html#Taming

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