Finding Monsters: Guardians of Esurack Second-Chances Under the Bed (Book Review)


Every once in awhile I stumble upon a book where I find myself “enthralled” and can’t seem to put it down. My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Caesar by Colleen McCullough, any of the Dune Chronicles by Frank Herbert. Some of these novels are literary geniuses and have received great acclaim from society, some of these novels are still great with less acclamation. Either way, they are no less brilliantly written. Frank Herbert once wrote that when a reader purchases a book, they enter a “contract” with the writer, and the stipulation of the contract is that the reader will be thoroughly entertained and in some cases touched by the publication. I will say that the eBook I read, Finding Monsters  by Liss Thomas, has fulfilled this contractual obligation to the fullest.


This is a book that involves a…

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Writing Prompts – Creative Copy Challenge #326

Sorry I’m late….on vacation and too busy! I kid, too lazy.

A quick snap of jaws reaps pain. Poison flows and ignores my struggles. I slam into the ground. One last visit for no valid reason shifts to an ending.

Writing Prompts - Creative Copy Challenge

This is a writing prompt. Bet you can’t do it! Take the 10 random words below and crush writer’s block by creating a cohesive, creative short story! And remember: after (if) you finish entering your submission into the comment field, highlight your words and click the bold button to make them stand out and help you determine if you forgot any words. (If you’ve missed previous writing prompts, we BET YOU CAN’T do those, either.) NOTE: Our bolding plugin is gone, so you’ll have to put <b> and </b> around each of your words if you want them to stand out, but NOT REQUIRED THOUGH.

  1. Quick
  2. Reap
  3. Pain
  4. Snap
  5. Visit
  6. Slam
  7. Ignore
  8. Shift
  9. Poison
  10. Valid

NOTE: Don’t copy and paste from MS Word. Use a program like notepad that removes formatting or just type in the comment field itself. Also, finish your submission, THEN bold the words. Thanks. (And don’t…

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New Beginnings with the CCC

So I’ve completed my online serial and am pondering what to do next on the CCC.  Here is my reponse to today’s challenge.


Tori stood like a cavitation in a sea of high schoolers facing a soulless group with their sense of Schadenfreude in overdrive.  She walked on as they hurled incendiary remarks and called names.  Her phone buzzed a text but she didn’t check it.  Another attack launched from cyberspace.  The  untrue things they said hurt as if they contained real fire and others believed the lies.

“Tell the teacher.”

“Tell your parents.”

Others offered their solutions but they were mere tyros at stopping bullies who showed no mercy.   They moved through the halls, fascist of their craft, zoning in on her as if pulled by the gravity of the sun.

Tori reached her home and secured herself behind her bedroom door.  Her mother’s request of ‘how was your day’ went unanswered.  Instead Tori checked her FB page and grimaced at the ugliness posted there.  She didn’t understand why the other kids hated her so much.  She slammed the laptop closed and pondered telling her parents before an epiphany brought a smile to her face.  There would be no starting over or wiping the slate clean, no more moving to new schools or new classes to evade the attacks.

This would be better.



The Wolf Pack – Chapter 41 – Hidden Monsters – Conclusion

Photo credit: Bob Haarmans / / CC BY

Photo credit: Bob Haarmans / / CC BY

The fluidity of Jill’s movements faltered as the adrenaline drained from her system.  Her legs wobbled and she stumbled away from the crash feeling afraid and alone.  She found a small bush away from the crash but still within sight of it and settled down beneath it.  The supple vegetation camouflaged her black and tan coat and also shielded her from any prying eyes.  A sob escaped her lips.  She sounded like a distressed puppy.  She felt like one too and hoped her father would find her soon.

The smell of cigarettes wafted on the breeze.  Jill’s nose twitched and she lifted her head, pinpointing the source of the smell.  Her keen sight caught the lit cigarette as it drifted down the embankment.  No doubt a passerby flicked it from their car.  She almost dismissed it when she saw it land dangerously close to the overturned car.  It skidded along the ground in the breeze until it connected with the gas, the small spark enough to catch.  Fire engulfed the vehicle quickly and spread to the nearby vegetation.  Plastic melted away from the wrecked car and fell in large globs.  The frame become malleable and distorted under the rising heat.  Various combustible items popped and exploded throughout the wreckage sending flames in all directions.

The acrid smells assailed Jill’s nostrils and she almost missed it.  The scent of another animal caught her attention.  She sniffed and cocked her head, tracking the scent until she spotted him just beyond the flames.

“Jill!”  Tom called as he rushed frantically around the inferno, moving dangerously close as he tried to find her.

“Help!” Jill called but her words continued to sound like a puppy’s pitiful cries.  He turned in her direction and moved closer, sniffing the ground until he stood before her hiding place.  He bend down and saw her.

“Jill?” he asked.

Jill tried her voice again but her words came out in whimpers and whines.  He pushed his way through the bushes and frantically licked at her face.  In her wolf form, she found it surprisingly soothing.  He lay down beside her and lay his head across her neck.

“Shhhh, it’s ok now, I’m here,”  he said.

She cried more, frustrated at how her voice sounded.

He licked her again.  “I know your frustrated but try to calm down.  Think of the human words first and then try to say them.”

Jill thought hard and tried again, “How did you know what I was saying?”  Relief washed over her to be able to speak again.

“Trust me, I’m fluent in puppy speak.  Our adaptability to shift from human to wolf is always hardest the first time.  I’m so sorry I wasn’t there for your first time.  It must have been a pretty frightening thing.  Honestly, I wasn’t sure you could change.  Most young ones do it years earlier because their pliancy is better.  Late shifters have a harder time and sometimes it’s very painful because their bones are not as flexible.  Are you ok?”

“Yes.  It wasn’t painful just scary,” Jill said.

“Who’s in the car smelling liked burned haddock?”

“Officer Billy.  He died in the crash before the fire erupted.  Daddy, he knew I wasn’t completely human.  He knew about you too.  He was taking me to see a Professor Pendergast.  He came to our school with Billy once.  He’s still a threat.”

“Well, any evidence you were in the car is going up in flames.  We’ll have to deal with the professor when the time comes.  Let’s go home,” he said.

Tom and Jill moved from under the bush and stood.  Tom sniffed the air and shook his head.

“Your pack is here,” he said.

Jill lifted her head, scented the air and smiled.  As if on que, Robbie and Layla bounded through the trees and skidded to a halt in front of her.

“Sweet!  You shifted!” Robbie said, greeting her with a few licks to her face.  Layla joined in greeting her too.

“Alright kids, let’s get out of here.  Jill can you find your way home by retracing their trail?” 

Jill put her nose down and found the trail with ease.  She howled in triumpth before she bounded through the trees with Robbie, Layla and Tomas close behind.



Final Threat – Chapter 40 – Hidden Monsters

Photo credit: Tambako the Jaguar / / CC BY-ND

Photo credit: Tambako the Jaguar / / CC BY-ND

Jill stared at the clock on the wall, willing it to go faster.  The teacher’s lecture held no interest for her today.  She’d been home two weeks and although returning to school seemed a little boring, she didn’t mind it until today.  She reread the text on her phone and smiled.  After suffering together through the autonomous rule of the Wolf King, Ulvarg, Robbie and Layla were coming for a little recreation and fun.  Layla’s translocation from the realm of the wolf clan to the human world would begin today.  Jill knew her disassociation from the pack might be hard so her parents had insisted she stay with them for as long as she needed to become accustom to life as a human.

The final bell rang and Jill sprang from her chair.  She rushed through the halls and deposited her backpack in her locker for the weekend.  Another text buzzed into her phone.  She read it as she exited the building and headed toward home.

“We’re here!  Hurry home!”  Jill laughed and picked up the pace as she texted back a list of things they were going to do.  She’d gotten pretty inventive on the activities and knew her friends would enjoy them.  She turned a corner and almost ran into a man coming the other way.  She looked up briefly to mumble an apology but never got the chance.

Jill’s head buzzed and ached as she fought her way up from unconsciousness.  She felt the movement of a vehicle and opened her eyes.  She lay in the back of a an old squad car, her hands and feet bound tight.  She rose as far as she could and glanced at the driver.  Officer Billy.

“This is kidnapping,” she snapped.

“Since you’re not really human, I don’t think it matters much.”  He smiled, glancing in the rear view mirror and met her gaze.

“My father will kill you for this,” Jill said as she struggled against the restraints.  Her fingers tingled.  The ropes cut into her circulation and made moving almost impossible.

“I certainly hope he tracks you down.  Your blood is too much like your mother’s.  Your DNA hints at something abnormal but it’s not conclusive.  I think once Doctor Pendergast has a look at you he might be able to detect your non human heritage.  Kidnapping you adds a special incentive though.  Your father will track you down and when he does, we’ll have the right specimen to test.  We might even try to get a hold of his lovely bride, Rebecca.  A whole family of lab rats just waiting to unlock the secrets of finding and traveling to other worlds.

Guilt ran through Jill’s veins like ice water.  She shivered at the thought of her father being used as an experiment.  Anger rose above the guilt and she struggled even harder against the ropes.  Jill kicked at the door and contorted her body trying to find something that would help her get free.  Officer Billy swerved  and slammed on the brakes.  Jill fell to the floor of the car, her movements limited even further.

“You can’t do this!”  She yelled.  She continued kicking her feet and twisting her wrist against the ropes until her skin burned and bruised for her efforts.  Panic set in as she looked out the window.  They were headed up the mountain.  She saw only rock on one side and sky on the other.  Jill felt a tingle in the back of her skull.  Her vision blurred and she thought she might pass out.  She gasped and sucked in air.  Her limbs trembled against her will as the sensations began to spread all over her body.  She wanted to cry out but the only sound her lips produced was a low growl.

The shift took over.  Jill snapped her eyes shut as she felt her body morph and shift.  Her limbs became slender and long.  The ropes loosened around them and  pulled free of the restraints.  When she opened her eyes, her vision seemed clearer but oddly muted of color.  She gasped and righted herself, pushing against the front seat in an effort to understand the transformation. 

“Settle down back there!”  Officer Billy yelled.

The anger rose again, pushing down the panic and fear.  Jill jumped up on the back seat and lunged for the grate between her and Officer Billy, her teeth bared  and a feral snarl escaping her lips.  He swore and swerved dangerously across the road.  The car slid against the bare rocks and knocked Jill off balance.  Rocks scraped against metal and shattered the glass before Billy snatched the wheel right and they careened across to the other side.  The car smashed the guard rail, bounced back and hit it again.  Jill’s feral mind registered the open window and leapt out in one bound.  She hit the asphalt and turned just to see the car push past the barrier and slide down the steep embankment.  A lone car came around the curve blaring its horn.  Jill scampered across the road and down the embankment.  Her new limbs moved effortlessly and she found the climb easy.  The car lay on it’s top, one wheel spinning while others lay mangled in the heavy underbrush.  Jill smelled gasoline and death.  Circling the car she saw Billy hanging from his seat.  His eyes were open but unseeing and a gash across what was left of his forehead signaled his mortality and threat were gone.


Going Home – Chapter 39 – Hidden Monsters


Photo credit: h.koppdelaney / / CC BY-ND

King Veelka wasted no time diffusing the hostilities.  He sent out his populist to encourage the rebels to rejoin the pack and offer peace to the jackals for the former king’s egregious behavior, requesting audience with a constituent of their clan to further discuss their truce.  He and his new guards escorted Tomas, Jill and Layla to the holding cells to release the prisoners.

The door to the cells stood open.  The chains lay in a heap on the floor and one guard lay moaning just outside.

One of Veelka’s new guards moved forward, sword at the ready and ventured through the opening.  Soon they heard sounds of a struggle followed by the guard’s reappearance.  He stumbled out and fell hard against the floor battered and bruised.  He raised his eyes and addressed Tomas.

“Your mate is a dynamo and a very angry one.”

Tomas couldn’t help smiling.  He lay a consoling hand on the guard’s shoulder, shifted his appearance to human and ventured through.  After a short minute, he signaled the others to follow.  Jill entered first, eager to see her mother and check on Robbie.  What she encountered sent her into dry heaves.  A  guard she recognized from the hive room lay dead on the floor.   A frozen expression of agony twisted his features.  His skin looked burned and had turned a sickening shade of brownish green as if he’d been consumed by a thermonuclear blast.  Tom pulled Jill away from the gruesome discovery and shielded her from the sight.  Soon she felt her mother’s arms encircling her as well.  Jill tried to breathe but their seemed to be a deficit of oxygen in the air.

“Breathe, baby,” Rebecca said as she rubbed Jill’s back.

“Did the wasp poison do that to him?” Jill asked in a shaky voice.

“Yes, but Robbie’s ok, dear.”

“How?” Jill asked looking up.  Her mother led her to the back of the cell.  Robbie lay on a bed of hay with his mother by his side.  His complexion didn’t look as bad as the guard’s but she still saw the awful greenish hues on his skin.  Jill dropped down beside him and lay a hand on his brow but he didn’t stir.  Paloma gave her a weak smile.

“I’ve stopped the spread of the poison for now but in order to remove the rest from his body, he needs an infusion of a plant extract from our territory.  It’s a ephemeral flower that blooms late in the season.  I purged what I could but it continues to multiply and spread at an alarming rate.  I can keep him in stasis until I get him home.”

Jill continued to rub Robbie’s forehead and smooth the fur around his ears.  She thought a minute and looked up at Paloma, “You put the poison in that guard, didn’t you?”

Paloma’s face turned hard, “He deserved it!  Treating my Robbie like he was already dead, an expendable casualty of war!  He laughed at my son’s discomfort and told me to give up.”  Her face softened as she looked back at her son and tears welled in her eyes.

It didn’t take long for Saal to arrive at the castle.  He met briefly with the new King before he rushed to take Paloma and Robbie home.  He returned later for Tom, Rebecca and Jill.  He spoke as they followed him to a designated portal site.

“Robbie’s responding well to treatment.  His mother should have him back to normal in a few days.  He wants to visit when he’s well again.”

“He’s more than welcome,” Tomas said.

No one knew how Ulvarg had managed to open a portal to the human  realm.  It was an ability delegated to the Guardians.  Saal had proved himself worthy and received this rare gift.  It was a mystery that disturbed them all.

Tomas pulled his family close as they waited for the portal to appear, relieved to have them back and soon, safe in the human realm.  “We should celebrate tonight.  Our first night back home, what do you think?  Dinner out?” he asked.

“Yes!”  Jill said.  “I really want a big juicy burger!”

“I could use a Chardonnay,” Rebecca said.  “Maybe two.”

Tom laughed as Saal opened the portal to their home.