Your Kingdom Awaits
If nothing else, when speaking of United Faedom Publishing, you can state with the truth that our authors are a fantastic group of exceptional talent. We love finding those diamonds in the rough, unique talent with an author voice that differs from the masses.
We seek the strange and unusual, and when it's found, an alliance is formed. Several of our authors deserve more recognition than they have received. Therefore, we are spreading the word so you, dear readers, don't miss out on some fantastic reads!
Today's post is centered around the multi-talented author Jensen Reed.
Jensen is a published author and poet living in Minnesota with her husband, their two boys, and three cats. She's the lead admin for Writing Bad, an author PA, and a beta reader. Jensen dabbles in reading and writing genres but particularly enjoys feeding characters to zombies and making readers cry. An all-around nerd, she could spend hours talking about shows and movies like Doctor Who and Supernatural.
Her latest book, Fiction Kingdom, is a short story collection sprinkled with emotional poetry; many stories will leave you teary-eyed, locking your doors and wondering what that sound was.
Jensen writes many genres, and a collection of her multi-genre stories was a perfect fit to display her talent.
We love this collection and hope you will enjoy reading one of the short stories below.
Pancake Spiders ~This was inspired by my eldest son and became my first ever published story in Fangs and Broken Bones.~ “So, Mama, guess what?”
I pulled myself from the novel in my hands to see what my four-year-old wanted. He usually worked quietly when he had an episode, so I took this as a cue that he was done.
“Chicken butt?” I asked him as I set the engrossing book down. Levi’s infectious, boyish grin made me smile. He held a colored pencil in each hand as he beamed at me across the table.
“No, no chicken butts.” He tossed his colored pencils aside and held up his paper. Intrigued, and slightly worried, I leaned forward to inspect the drawing, which I knew was his way of channeling the thing that made him so special. He had drawn our dining room. It was complete with the white table, where we sat, the rug underneath, and even the same shade of hardwood floor. He had even drawn me with a book blocking my face. I looked closely and could see the lines in the wood and the stains and scuffs on the tabletop. He never ceased to amaze me. On top of the table stood a small boy with a slightly too-big crown and billowing red cape. There was an exploding volcano on his shirt, just like on Levi’s. What really caught my attention though, besides the eerily accurate details of the boy on the paper, were the creatures on the floor. I picked my feet up from our blue rug and settled them on the spindle that ran between the front legs of my wooden chair. “What are those, Levi?” I asked him as I examined the rounded, golden-brown creatures with eight hairy legs and small blue eyes. Levi grinned at me, excitement crinkling his green eyes.
“They’re pancakes spiders, Mama!” He said excitedly. “They even have blueberry eyes!” I tried to smile at him, but oh that sounded sticky and awful. “What do pancake spiders do?” I asked as he set the paper down. He pursed his lips as he thought about it. Once he reached a conclusion his face lit up again. “Well, they don’t make a web. They shoot sticky syrup poison instead.” My heart began racing and I scrambled for an alternative. “Oh uh, how about instead of poison it’s just glue?” I suggested. He nodded and his light surfer-boy-styled hair fell into his eyes. “Glue works too. So, they have that and they’re just trying to get presents!” “What kind of presents?” I asked again, hoping it was something easy. “Birthday presents. Like me. Their birthday is in a week like mine! They like chocolate chips.”
I relaxed slightly as I leaned back in my chair. “We have chocolate chips, that’s good,” I mumbled. Chocolate chips were way easier to find than the eight pool noodles he needed last week to dismiss the herd of tetrapods he had summoned to his bedroom. Mid-winter was not the time to easily find pool toys, let me tell you. I swallowed once as I saw motion in my purview. Levi turned to look at the floor leading into the living room and, begrudgingly, I did the same. Sitting on the floor staring up at us with round blueberry eyes were a dozen pancake spiders, all in varying sizes of plates. I took a deep breath as I tried not to freak out. Why does he have to be so into spiders? Why not fluffy bunnies? I moved my feet and several of the spiders flattened themselves on the ground warily.
“Levi are they nice spiders?”
“They’re super nice. Just reeeeeally sticky!” He replied and I nodded as I saw the trails of syrup all over my light-colored carpet.
“I’m going to go get some chocolate chips for them, what do you say?” I asked him. “They love those!” He jumped up from the table and walked over to the spiders, who immediately began rubbing on him. It’s just syrup. It washes off. They won’t hurt him. I closed my eyes and calmed myself before sliding away from the table and hurrying towards the kitchen.
As I was searching through the pantry, I felt eyes boring into my back. I turned around to find one small pancake spider sitting on the kitchen floor watching me. He was only the size of a half-dollar coin, but I shuddered. How many little ones are in the house that I didn’t even see?!
I grabbed the chocolate chips and fished some out as I began walking, but the little pancake spider moved to intercept me. I froze and stared down at it. So easy to just…squish. I sighed instead and knelt before placing one chocolate chip in front of him. He scuttled forwards and blinked at me before taking the chip and I watched, slightly fascinated but totally horrified, as he nibbled the chocolate until it disappeared into his pancakey folds. I stood to leave but he was suddenly on me and holy shit: Mama freak-out mode activated. I jumped up and danced around, trying to brush him off but with his stickiness, he easily clung to my jeans. I stopped dancing and worked to stay calm, I didn’t want Levi to get upset because I knew how bad that always ended. With slow breaths, I walked back to the dining room as the little pancake spider held onto me. “Mama you have one on you too!” Levi giggled from beneath the four on him. One big fat one sat on his head, oozing syrup down over Levi’s ear. It washes out... Deep breath. “I brought chocolate. How do we get them to leave?” “But they’re so fun! And tasty!”
“You- You ate a pancake spider?” I asked, horrified. He nodded happily and I felt the need to vomit.
“Please don’t eat any more. This was a lot of fun, Levi, but it’s time for them to go.” He nodded and lifted the fat one from his head. “Okay, Mama.” I watched as he removed the spiders from himself one by one, and then tried to brush his hands off, but that only resulted in stickier hands. He frowned at me. “Can you wash my hands please?”
“If you make the pancake spiders go away, then you can have a bubble bath,” I promised. The little one started climbing up my shirt and I shuddered. “I have to stand on the table to be King of the Boys. Then they’ll listen.” He informed me very seriously and I motioned him on. He scrambled up and stood tall with his fists on his hips. “Listen here, Pancake Spiders!” he called out as he stood on top of the table. “It is time for your snacks, and then you have to go home!”
The spiders all watched him avidly until he turned to me. As one, I felt all their beady berry eyes focus on me and I hurriedly dumped the chocolate chips out on the floor. In a scurry, they jumped on the chocolate and devoured the entire bag’s contents. I resisted another shudder as I stepped around them to open the front door. I watched as one by one they filed towards the door. They left the house, oozing maple syrup behind them, and I breathed in relief as the little one jumped off me and landed with a splat on the front porch. He pulled himself up and scurried off after the others, leaving behind a pancake-shaped syrup spot on the cement. All in all, there were over thirty of varying sizes that scuttled out the door. I shut the door once I was sure they were all gone, then turned to my very special son. He was sitting on the table, kicking his legs as he smiled. “I like spiders. I looove pancakes. That was so much fun.” “It was something else,” I told him as I sank onto my chair again. “How about that bath now?” I asked and he nodded. “I’ll go get it ready, you go to your room and pick out clean clothes, okay?” “But I can’t be Lava Boy without my volcano shirt!” He said with a pout. “Yes, but we can wash it and you can wear it to bed, okay?” “Fine.” He hung his head and trudged up the stairs in front of me, turning to go to his room as I went to the bathroom. I began filling the tub, and after I poured in the bubble bath Levi called from his room. “Mama, did you add the bubbles yet?”
“Yeah, honey!” I called over the water as I dried my hands. I went to his room and found him furiously erasing a new piece of paper. Oh no. “What do you have there?” I asked as I walked over. “Drawing the house clean?” I suggested hopefully. He paused long enough to switch his colored pencils for a grey.
“Goldfish-sized sharks to take a bath with me, but you added bubbles and that’s not safe for them. I’m drawing more spiders instead.” “Why more spiders?” I asked, suddenly tired. He looked up at me as he sat at his little desk.
“I love spiders. These are special though. They’re shark spiders.” He grinned and refocused on his paper. “Wha—" My question was interrupted as I heard several distinct splashes from the bathroom. He looked up with excitement clear on his little face. As I turned to go investigate, he called me to a stop.
“Mama, wait! I have an even better idea!”
“A clean, spider-less house?” I asked as I turned back towards him, though his cute little boy voice made me smile. Levi looked up at me, brushing his sticky hair from his eyes before making a silly face. “Shark spiders…that are giant!” He said with a smile and my heart dropped as the house shuddered. A towering tree outside of his bedroom window suddenly moved, and it took me several seconds to realize it wasn’t a tree. Oh shit.
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