The Protector – Tom Howard

Smoky, Sir Reginald Immodeus Alexander and forty-seven other names from his long and illustrious lineage, sat on the kitchen table watching a flitzard taking shape.  The fibrous creatures couldn’t take form if they were watched, and this one struggled before it died a frustrated death. Flitzards affected human brains, making people fuzzy and distracted.  Smoky’s human charge, Charlie, acted fuzzy enough already.

“Listen, Smoky.”  Charlie peered over his newspaper.  “It says here domesticated cat brains are shrinking.  You have a walnut-sized brain.”

Smoky licked his paws to show how credible he found the newspaper article.  He wished Charlie would take his bike off the wall and leave. His twitching whiskers predicted something bad was coming through from the other side, and the sooner Charlie was out of the battle zone, the better.

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Cleopatra’s Needle – Tom Howard

She ignored the New Cairo mayor sitting across from her until he spoke.

“We are honored by your presence so soon after your last visit to the Western Lands, Your Highness.”

Cleopatra, the forty-seventh pharaoh of that name, turned her attention from the gray skyscrapers outside the limousine window. The Royal Scribe sat beside her, his tablet on his knee. Natura, her niece and the Royal Handmaid, appeared deep in thought, but Cleopatra knew she, like the others, listened for an explanation of the unexpected trip. The Guard Captain, Rekeen, did not look at her. Of all her confidants, only he knew her true purpose visiting these chilly lands.

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