Silver & Iron Excerpt

A woman with charcoal skin and bright green eyes smirking at the viewer with a background of flames; cover art for Sha'Daa: PAWNS

Silver & Iron

Leona R Wisoker

Vacation. And how sweet it was, and how hard Leanne had worked for these precious few days alone with her darling Mazoe.

Early summer lay hot and dry across already browning lawns. Water restrictions had been put in place early this year, and the neighbors on both sides hadn’t stopped bitching for three solid weeks about the death of their precious, chemically-treated former perfection.

Leanne smiled and smiled every time she saw her own lush, green, weed-infested lawn – the one her HOA routinely made clucking noises over, right up until this time of year, when they mysteriously shut up for a few weeks.

And summer solstice began tomorrow; the solstice. The promised solstice. The one Leanne had been waiting for and working towards for nearly ten thousand years.

She was ready.

Truly, it was a perfect time for a vacation.


Of all the times she’d lived through, Leanne thought, this had to be the best. Health insurance! They fought over health insurance! That hadn’t even been a twinkle in the sky when Leanne had been born. Car insurance. Real estate insurance. It was incredible. She’d made a tidy bundle off the various aspects over the years, more than almost any other enterprise she’d tried her hand at. The numbers involved were simply staggering, and the regulation only now getting to the point where they might have a chance at spotting her manipulations of their systems.

Humans were so gullible. Especially her darling Mazoe, a prime example of a once-proud line gone to complete rot.

Leanne regarded her with a certain amount of pride; she’d had a hand on shaping Mazoe’s life, after all. Everything according to plan. But she did feel a tiny twinge at the thought of losing that sleek body and ready laughter, even if the body came from nearly anorectic dieting and the laughter came from a naive misunderstanding of the world.

Only a twinge, though.

Mazoe rolled over as Leanne watched, exposing her bare back and legs to the summer rays; even without the privacy fence, Mazoe probably would have sunbathed nude. It was just her way. And Leanne certainly didn’t complain about it.

“Leanne,” Mazoe murmured, then propped her chin on her crossed arms and grinned up at Leanne. “You look delicious. Is it almost time for lunch?”

Leanne smiled and knelt beside to Mazoe. She ran her palm gently down the knobs of Mazoe’s spine, enjoying the feel of soft, warm flesh. “I’m going to make you wait,” she said. “I’m going to make you eat some real food first, love. You’re too skinny.”

“You always say that.” Mazoe moved her arms and laid her face flat, her words ending in a smothered mumble.

“I don’t want to feel like I’ll break you with a hug.” Leanne slid her hand up Mazoe’s back and scrubbed her fingers through the girl’s short hair.

“You won’t!” Mazoe turned her head to glare at Leanne, squinting. “And I’m not hungry.”

Mazoe was never hungry. “Eat something for me anyway. Please. More than a leaf of lettuce this time.”

The girl sighed and rolled to her side. “Why does this matter so much to you, Leanne?”

“Because I love you, you silly nit,” Leanne said lightly. “And while you may not see it yourself, you’re outstandingly beautiful, and you don’t need to have all your bones sticking out like a starving horse for that to stay true.”

She tickled Mazoe’s sensitive stomach before the girl could say anything; the resulting wrestling match was entertaining, but Leanne regretfully wrapped it up long before Mazoe wanted to stop.

“I’m serious,” Leanne said as Mazoe, breathing hard, resumed her face-down spot on the lounger. “You need to eat, Mazoe.”

“You’d really still love me if I topped a hundred pounds?”

Leanne smiled with centuries of practice and said, “Of course I would. I love you for your mind, not your body.”

Mazoe flattened her face against the chair for a few moments, then sighed deeply and propped herself up on her elbows. Leanne tried not to stare; Mazoe could be a peculiar mix of brazen and self conscious at times.

“How about a…a sandwich, then? Hummus and mesclun and that fabulous cheese you brought home the other day, what’s it called?”


“Yeah, that.” Mazoe smiled and wiggled her shoulders a little, giving Leanne tacit permission to leer. So Leanne leered, just to see Mazoe smile.

“Coming right up, love,” Leanne said, well pleased, and went back into the house. Hummus and mesclun! Well, it was a start, and more than Mazoe had been willing to eat at one sitting before. And really, after tonight it wouldn’t matter; but Leanne had been a perfectionist for a very long time. It bothered her a little that she wouldn’t get to see Mazoe develop into a normal-shaped human. The girl had so much potential….

That only bothered Leanne a little, and only for a moment, though. Then she discovered the hummus had mold growing on it, and the tahini was so close to empty as to be absurd.

The downside to not having a regular housekeeper had never been so apparent. Leanne swore, searched through the cupboards hopefully for a few minutes, then swore again. She leaned back against the counter, tugging at her lip and considering: this close to the Sha’Daa, she hated the thought of leaving Mazoe alone. Anything could happen if she wasn’t around to protect her darling, and she would need Mazoe tonight.

There were other things for Mazoe to eat, and Leanne was fairly sure she could talk the skinny twit into doing so; but…this was Mazoe’s last day on earth. Her last day of life, although she didn’t know it yet. Leanne had sworn to herself to give Mazoe absolutely anything within reason today, as her secret reward for the part she would play tonight.

A trip to the store wouldn’t take very long….

For the rest of the story, wander on over to Copper Dog Press and pick up your very own copy of Sha’Daa: Pawns!