The Battle Of The Keep (A True Story)

We shouldn’t have left the keep unguarded.

But we did.

Driven by our need for sustenance, we abandoned its empty larders to forage beyond its protective walls.  From the outside it looked so substantial, its smooth walls defying any intruder.  We thought it was secure.  Impenetrable.

We were wrong.

The foul creatures ambushed us when we returned.  Black and winged, they swooped down when we re-entered the keep, the harsh buzz of their language beyond our comprehension but their evil intentions horrifyingly clear.

We fought.

Back to back, we swung our weapons again and again until we prevailed.

We hauled away the mangled bodies and cleaned the battle-gore from the walls and floor.  Then we set ourselves to the task of fortification.  We blocked even the smallest aperture, securing our stronghold.

The rest of the day we waited, alert to the slightest hint of another invasion.  We could see them circling outside, but none penetrated our bastion.  At last, exhausted, we crept to our bed.  Though we knew they seldom attacked at night we slept fitfully, one ear listening for their vile clamour.

Morning dawned clear and hot.  Still they circled, but none breached our walls.  At length, reassured, we withdrew to our separate chores.

Several hours later I returned to the keep alone.

A mistake.

Laden with the garden’s bounty, I stepped inside unprepared for the seething horde of black monsters, their battle cries rising to a maddened pitch.

I knew they would give no quarter.  Their hive-mind brooked no compromise, no mercy.  And a single touch from any of their loathsome legion could transmit a veritable cornucopia of disease.

I sounded the alarm and threw myself into desperate battle.

By the gods, they were fast; but they were so many that my strikes often vanquished several at a time.  Black bodies surrounded me, falling one upon another, piling three and four deep.  Beset, I could allow no time to ensure merciful kills.  Their wounded writhed among their dead, their lifeblood and entrails defiling the walls around me.

Again I cried the alarm and reinforcements arrived.  We fought valiantly, but they were too many and we were still fatigued from the earlier skirmish.  At last we were forced to retreat.  We fled, barring the doors behind us.

Standing outside, supporting each other in our despair, we swore to return.

After a week without food or water, they would be weakened.  Now we knew where they had breached our defenses.  We would fight again, and we would win.

Next week we would retake the keep.

Story synopsis:  The houseflies in our new-to-us RV are driving me crazy!  We screened off all the appliance vents and thought we’d solved the problem, only to discover that the window screens weren’t properly attached and the whole place was absolutely buzzing by the time we got back in the afternoon.  Despite a fly-swatting marathon that left the interior smeared with guts, we still didn’t get them all.  Next weekend we’ll fix the screens, and hopefully win this battle once and for all.  Flies are such filthy, disgusting little creatures.  But at least I got a story out of it!

* * *

Book 8:  SPY NOW, PAY LATER is still on track for release tomorrow!  And the contest to win a signed paperback copy closes at noon July 22, 2014 – click here to enter.

59 thoughts on “The Battle Of The Keep (A True Story)

  1. Just finished #8. Almost speechless but not quite. I laughed out loud, shed a tear or two, laughed some more, bit most of my nails off and ended the last page with a huge **sigh**, a smile and wanting to read it again already. I know it will be too early to start bugging for #9, LOL. You are just fan-freaking-tastic! Wow. You put some really fine tuned twists and turns in this one. Loving it. O.k., now I’m rambling so I’ll close off with a huge thank you for this series.


      • Moondance4me said it perfectly. I will add how much I also appreciate the wisdom and psychological understanding that underpins these books, especially the most recent few. Your characters are so human and I love them more with each book. Notable exceptions would be your bad guys, but even there you usually give them some redeeming qualities, or at least a glimpse at their humanity before you bump them off. Fabulous work. I loved Spy Now, Pay Later. You often compare your work to literary junk food, but although these are “just” novels, there is a depth that raises them far above the average novel. Your wisdom and love are on every page. On top of all that, your writing is so well crafted, I’m sure it would read very smoothly aloud. It’s a joy to read book after book free of typos.
        Sometime, if you haven’t already, if/when you are feeling unimportant because you “only” write novels, read the novel, “Haroun and the Sea of Stories,” by Salmon Rushdie. It was written for his young son while Rushdie was in hiding. It tells about where stories come from and why they are important.


        • Thank you, el Tea! Such heady praise makes me absolutely glow. I’m so glad you enjoyed Spy Now, Pay Later. I’m always happy when people enjoy my books, but when my most loyal readers like you and moondance4me and glbryant are pleased with one of my books, I really feel as though I’ve accomplished something! 🙂

          I’m off to pick up ‘Haroun and the Sea of Stories’ now – thanks for the recommendation!


  2. Hubby and I lived in our travel trailer for a while some years ago and while reading your story I was thinking that your story sounded like the time we had to fight flies and mosquitoes. Sure enough, I had to laugh out loud when you finished. What is it about camping, RV’ing, that makes those nasty things take aim at us? I did find that Avon Skin So Soft worked great as a repellant.
    I am so into #8! OMG, it is taking my breath away already. I hate to quit to go to bed but I’m sleepy. (Knowing I’ll be back up in an hour or two to keep reading)! Jeeze! It’s fantastic already.


  3. Oh god – been there and it is disgusting. When our home in BC was renovated thousands of flies hatched in our crawl space the next spring and then invaded our house. Our secret weapon after fly swatters and spray failed were those icky sticky fly tapes – run to your nearest hardware they are still available. Just remembering that episode in our lives gives me the willies.


  4. I was thinking of mosquitos, but the details weren’t working right, or black flies or no-see-ums, but the same logic prevailed. I wondered about flies, but then I thought about your super-poopers and thought, no, what are the chances? I never in my wildest dreams could picture you taking out such beneficial creatures as bats, so that thought never occurred.
    I just bought my copy of #8. I’m sorry, the title hasn’t penetrated my thick skull yet. No time to start to read it yet, I’m off to service the car, but now I’ll have something I’m eager to read while there, but sadly I won’t be there nearly long enough, and I do have other things on my Must Do List.


    • No, I’d never harm bats – even if I didn’t think they were cute (which I do), I wouldn’t consider killing a creature that eats its own body weight in mosquitos every night! 🙂

      I hope you enjoy Book 8!


      • I’ve always thought bats were the cutest creatures too. I knew they ate a lot of bugs, but that many! My, oh my! I never feared them when I saw them moving around at night because if they can locate flying insects by radar, I knew I’d be as big as a wall to them. But I wouldn’t like them flying around my home- RV or otherwise. Their flight is too erratic- too much like the mice they resemble.


      • About book 8, you should have seen me in the service department waiting room-grinning, laughing out loud, and just as they called me to tell me my car was good to go, I had tears running down my cheeks. It had nothing to do with my car, it was all you, Diane. All this before I was into chapter 6. A roller coaster ride already! …and it is still Christmas.
        Thanks so much for giving the world your creativity, humor and love in the form of these books and your blog. You have added a measure of richness to my life and I wanted to make sure you knew how much your efforts are appreciated.


        • Oh, thank you! 😀 I’m so glad you’re enjoying it – by the time I’ve finished writing and reading and editing and re-reading, I can’t tell if the book is any good or not. Release day is always stressful because I’m so hoping the book won’t turn out to be a disappointment.


          • No worries, Diane, I’m more chapters into it and again I’ve laughed and cried. I’m loving it.
            Speaking of which, I passed McDonalds on my way home and I could have sworn they were advertising “SEXTRA VALUE MEALS…” I know it is just Hellhound Horniness infecting my brain. Rack up another vote for Arnie. Are you trying to put Dave Shore on that list too?


            • Ha! Sextra value meals – that’s a good one! That sounds like the kind of thing I’d misread. Hmmm, maybe it’s Hellhound Horniness that causes my more-or-less permanent sexlexia.

              So far Dave’s not on the list – he belongs to Nichele, and after all the guys she’s tried and discarded, we should probably let her keep him… at least for a while. 😉


  5. Good morning from the Happy Kingdom known as my little house. Why Happy you ask? I got #8!!! Just went to Amazon and searched it and there it was, just waiting for my one click. I’m in Heaven.
    I was posting to your story yesterday and when I clicked “post comment” my modem shut down. My cable company can pick the worst times to do their “maintenance?” Anyway, it took a while but they got back up late last night.
    I have some very important reading to do today so hubby is well versed in how to make his own sandwiches, and breakfast……..and supper too most likely.


    • That’s great! Amazon had a glitch last night when I published it – they promised it would be up in 12 hours, and then this morning they sent me some weird error email. They still haven’t gotten back to me, so I didn’t know whether it would go up today or not. So glad it did – I hope you enjoy it! 🙂

      P.S. Good luck to your Hubby! Can’t go wrong with PB&J…


    • Or fantasy. “The reflection from their armored carapaces glistened from their many-faceted eyes. Poisonous ooze dripped from their fangs and claws. Their wings a shimmering blur in the evening mists as they streaked downward toward their unwary prey…”

      “But wait! What’s this? Gravely have the filthy beasts erred! Enormous instruments of death cut wide swaths of destruction through the endless hordes! Dozens of invaders are swept from the sky with each blow! Hundreds lay dashed to bits, victims of the merciless counter attack!”

      Sorry. Clearly I have too much free time on my hands. Just sorta got caught up in the spirit of the thing… 🙂


        • Thank you, Madame! I consider that high praise! Funnily enough, an idea for a story that popped into my head fifty years ago has been keeping me up nights of late. Probably gonna need to do something about that pretty soon. I guess we’ll see.

          Anyway, no news from Amazon yet. Bummer…


          • Get writing! Trust me, it’s just as much fun as reading, but one book lasts you months instead of hours. 😉

            I uploaded to Amazon last night at 10:30 PM MDT, and they said to allow 12 hours for publication, so I hope it’ll show up soon.


            • Argh, just got a notification from Amazon and they’ve somehow screwed up… and waited 10 hours to tell me. Now I’m scrambling to figure out what went wrong and whether they’ll still manage to get it out today. GRRRRR!!!


  6. Blimey, Diane! Nail-biting stuff!
    I must admit I was picturing the jet-black flying demon horde from Hell flying, attacking and fighting, but flies are equally as good! Excellent tale!


  7. Oh my! LOL! Getting an iron infusion today among people having chemo as I was reading this and doing my best to not lose it laughing out loud! Looking forward to getting your newest book as soon as it’s out for Nook! Yay! Love your books! I’m pretty much on team Hellhound! I like Kane also, but Tom? Ewwww!


    • Ah, so nice to hear from Team Hellhound! He slipped a percentage point in the poll and I was feeling sad that he wasn’t getting as much love. 😉

      I hope the iron works its magic for you – my step-mom went through the chemo/transfusion merry-go-round a couple of years ago so I know how debilitating anemia is. Sending good thoughts your way – feel better soon!


  8. Great story! The vanquished lay in DRIFTS! Then the vacuum cleaner, rubber gloves and Lysol. Been there… 🙂

    Looking forward to tomorrow! I keep a credit balance at Amazon. ONE CLICK AND IT’S MINE!!!


      • P.S. Remember how I said I was laughing at what I’d written around the 2/3 mark? Edits pushed that part back to around the middle. Just thought I’d mention it so you don’t get to 66% and go, “Huh? There’s nothing funny here.”


      • Addiction? Here’s addiction. My wife took my Kindle touch on the krooz we just got back from. Quoth she, This thing is slow! What’s wrong with it? My snappy rejoinder, Look at the table of contents. She replied, HOLY COW! You’ve got HOW MANY BOOKS ON THIS THING?? And that’s with with a hundred and some feet of packed book shelves and odd stacks here and there that we, er, decorate with.

        Anything. Words in a line. I got it bad…

        Hi. My name is Lynn, and I’m a bookaholic.

        And every last one of you mugs sez, Hi, Lynn.

        And don’t even THINK of going all denial on me! 🙂


        • LOL! Nope, no chance of denial from me. I’ve got about 180 feet of bookshelves… plus the loaded Kindle… plus the “decorative” stacks…

          But a 12-step program will never work for me because the first step is to admit you have a problem, and I don’t have a problem with piles of books at all.

          Hope you enjoyed your cruise!


    • Sorry – anticlimactic, I know. Bats are cute, despite the rabies thing, but the flies were REALLY gross. Great big shiny black bastards. Eeuw. I hate flies inside my house. Outside they don’t bother me, but inside? Walking all over my stuff? You KNOW what they crawl on and eat…


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