Thursday, April 30, 2015

Artwork © Billy Ludwig, All Rights Reserved - http://www.impaledesign.com/
Story and Characters © Corey Blankenship, All Rights Reserved 
Star Wars Entities © Disney
Brought to you by Four Fools Press: “Crazy Good Stories”


Smoke choked the black forest, the new flora of ignes ignium* spreading with wild intensity. This effectively split the theater into two fronts. Howling engines screamed high above, feeding the flames with bright flames and their own dead falling from the air. Such strategic concerns mattered little to the 509th jump platoon. Sky-terrors and ground fires be danged, the new boys on the scene weren't going to turn around after crossing the pond and channel for a chance to punch tyranny in the throat. The acrid oil and smoke that flavored the atmosphere, even at three hundred feet above-ground-level, only confirmed to these men they were hellbent warriors at heart.

The red light shifted to green.

A series of parachutes mushroomed from the tail section of the flying steel beast. Black puffs erupted everywhere like a garden of bat orchids shot through with the countless blades of tracers. Some of the canvas sails darkened and caught fire as the green flashes cut threw their tops. The lumbering C-47 exploded and plunged into the churned earth long before its troops would hit the ground. Twenty of its twenty-eight jumpers landed alive on their feet. Backlit by the smouldering Sky-train, the troopers rallied and charged toward the remaining treeline beneath the fog of war.

Red tracers danced around the men as they hurdled ditches, blood and muck forming a ruddy clay. Carbines and heavy-steel automatic rifles answered the enemy fire, tossing white rounds into the thickets. The foreigners burst from their hidden positions in the foliage, reinforced by quick bursts of fiery bolts. Private Hauer and Corporal Sanchez acted as the tip of the spear, smashing through shorn bushes and broken fences. Hauer screwed his bayonet onto his carbine's tip as he vaulted a stone outcropping, lifting the weapon to the fore. Sanchez fired his Browning automatic to cover the younger trooper's progress. The enemy, fully clad in winter gear, rushed with their small carbines of foreign make. The opposition fired, shots going wide of the point men. Aiming for the thinner black cloth between the white helmet and chestplate, Hauer slashed through to soft flesh. The enemy collapsed, sliding on his back due to his own momentum. More bayonets dove and plunged along the ragged line, while snub rifles and ball grenades burned cotton jump suits. Tan and white corpses littered the field along the grove's edge. Fourteen Americans pierced the wooded veil, overtaking the fixed emplacements. Sanchez and Hauer continued to race forward while Sergeants Holland and Littlefield lobbed thermite canisters at the turrets and AA-fixtures, melting the giant weapons' tubes and exploding the magazines.

The field and grove taken, the platoon halted on the far side and gazed down the slope to the city of Alsace. The formerly quiet French town buzzed with speeding bikes, clanking all-terrain armored transports and scout transports. Sanchez glanced at the sky where the crisscross of rockets and gunfire continued to weave a maze of death. High above, the cratered moon gleamed in defiance of a full sun. It had remained for three months, the only warning before the invasion. Hauer pointed down the hillocks with an excited gesture. Even these "new boys" had tasted battle, so the antic caught the corporal's and sergeants' eyes. They gazed onto the open glade and smiled.

"Well, I'll be flyin' monkey. They've left one of their ships unguarded." Holland whistled.  "I thought these 501st goons were supposed to be their best."

Lieutenant Brennan stepped forward and said, "Check your gear and ammo, boys! We're going to throat punch their emperor. Radio command that Operation Yavin Four has a green light."

*Latin for "fire of fires"


***

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4-30-15 Thursday Twist
10:36 AM

4-30-15 Thursday Twist

Monday, April 27, 2015

Artwork © Fabio, All Rights Reserved - http://jhonnypark.deviantart.com/
Story and Characters © Corey Blankenship, All Rights Reserved 
Brought to you by Four Fools Press: “Crazy Good Stories”

The blood ran down the street faster than the fugitive's dead body fell. He had made it through half the precinct alongside his cronies. Now, his life drained into the grated manhole six inches from his exploded scalp. The other two fidgeted on the far end of the alley, clawing at the bottom rungs of an overhanging fire escape. They hoped the darkness that they feared would save them.

“Come on, man!” The lookout hissed.

“Stop screaming! You want to draw his attention?” The other whined, as he tugged on the unrelenting ladder.

The first one cussed. He ripped at the slide on the 9mm he had lifted from the patrol car, snapping its warm nose down the lane. Sweat rained down his cheeks, pooling on his chin. He gulped. Rikers had been a tough stint for a snitch. Cop-killers wouldn’t even make it across the bridge. A distant wail lit up the man-made valleys. He thumbed the hammer. With the line crossed, surrender was a dead option.

The steel stair slammed down with a violent clang! Both felons jumped at the ruthless thud. The snatcher leaped onto the ladder and climbed like a pack of feral dogs bit at his feet. The lookout stumbled up after him, the soft ring of metal on metal following each rise of his gun-toting hand. They had ascended five feet when a jolt sounded through the fire escape. They gazed upward with the fear of the damned.

“Please, have mercy!” cried the man on top.

A sickly thwump followed, along with hot rain--and a human-sized hailstone.

The second fumbled from the ladder, landing square on his pistol arm. The dead weight of his partner snapped the wrist and dug the barrel into his spine. Copper mist drizzled his face, splashing through his whimpering lips. Pain pounded his body, immobilizing him. The crook cracked open his eyes to see a black figure straddling his body and his headless friend.

“I’ve got a family...oh God, I’ve got a family,” whined the stricken criminal.

The upright shadow held a block-tipped handle skyward, a cruel barb sticking from its side.

“Tell it to the Judge,” answered the cold voice above him.

The hammer fell, ending with a liquid splash!


***

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04-27-15 Monday Writing Warm-up
1:16 PM

04-27-15 Monday Writing Warm-up

Wednesday, April 15, 2015


 Artwork © ???, All Rights Reserved
Story and Characters © Brannon Hollingsworth & Davis Riddle, All Rights Reserved 
Brought to you by Four Fools Press: “Crazy Good Stories”



I remember the old man’s words, spoken in firelight amid a frozen wasteland:

“Two deer are trained. One deer is bound to the hunter, it is called the bound deer. The other deer goes among its wild brethren, it is called the lure deer. When the wild deer lie down to rest, the lure deer lies down as well. The bound deer knows this and lies down too. It is then that the hunter knows that it is time to strike and with his deadly arrows, comes and takes the wild deer, at unawares.”

I know that I am the lure deer. She made me thus. And now, I lie down amid the wild deer, and I await the arrows of death to come. This place is ripe with death already. My task here is easy. I have only to play my part as the lure deer.

One of the kine comes to me. This one fancies himself a saviour. Amid all this war: chaos, hatred, and death, this one seeks to save men by the skill of his hand. I have dealt with many like him over the long years. Some have claimed to heal with magic, some with faith, and now, with science. They are all the same: dirty charlatans dealing in false hope, scoundrels selling life. I will have nothing to do with him.

“I don’t need your leeches,” I spat. “Leave me be.”

The kine does not expect this. His words tumble from his mouth like the ignorant concepts from which they are born. “I have no leeches. Where are you hurt?”

These fools never learn. Not until it is too late. Not until they see my Lady’s Wrath bearing down upon them. Not until all their lights have gone out, and hope is finally lost. “Leave me be,” I reply.

Then, a most glorious thing happens. The kine touches me. I could feel my Lady’s Gifts - my little ones, within my body stir with rapture. I love it when they come close to me, these confused, foolish men. The closer they are, the easier it is to give them what they so deserve. The closer they are, the easier it becomes to please the one who pleases me: my Dark One. The Twilight Lady.

The kine moves me, rolling me onto my back, and I can see the horror, the disbelief, wash over his dull, stupid features. They all look so alike--these featureless mounds of mobile flesh and bone--and they all act so alike. This man cannot believe what his eyes tell him: my gaping, seeping wounds, the scent of rotting meat that wafts from my gut… All of my Lady’s terrible and glorious gifts.

The kine moves away, mortified.

I am happy. I have touched another one. Another darkly shining gem in my Lady’s ebon crown has been found. Now, there is only the waiting. I must wait for the hunter to come, with his deadly arrows, and claim the prize.

It is hard to keep from smiling as I roll back into the war-churned, bloody mud.

I am a good lure deer. I will please Her. 

***
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04-15-15 Wednesday Warm-up
10:25 AM

04-15-15 Wednesday Warm-up

Monday, April 13, 2015



Art © Andrew Mar, All Rights Reserved - http://andrewmar.deviantart.com/
Story © Corey Blankenship, All Rights Reserved
Characters © Edgar Allen Poe, All Rights Reserved
Brought to you by Four Fools Press: “Crazy Good Stories”

The chairs' cushions felt pleasantly soft to the officers after the long walk across town and through the manor. Their host sat across from them, reclining in his own seat. The exploration of the building had yielded nothing amiss. The unpleasant distress of the night seemed to have evaporated into what it really was, a simple night terror, with the rising of the sun. The lead investigator sipped from the tea, and smiled at his host.

"Well, sir, I am glad no unnatural causes brought us to your door. Where did you say the old man journeyed to?" The officer asked.

"In the country," the man answered lightly.

"A pleasant season to be about the country. The nation is never wetter than now!" chuckled a colleague.

The police laughed at the remark. Everyone knew the winter meant water and muck everywhere. The host joined in the merriment, sharing in their unguarded smiles.

"Oh, but he got himself there under a remarkable dry patch," he added to the conversation.

"Indeed, the skies stayed open for quite some time," an officer mused. "I reckon that almost made up for the tremendous gale that blew down from the North. Had it drizzled, our coats would have been stiffened sheets of ice!"

"Well, I am certainly glad you suffered only the brisk wind," said the host.

"Indeed, indeed," replied the officers. Each drank eagerly from their cups.

A series of knocks came from the floor. Tap-tap. Tap-tap. Tap-tap. The sound always arose in pairs, at first soft and then slowly grew. The officers paid the sound no mind. The host took a long swig from his china glass.

"Have you had any trouble with the neighbors? They were quick to report a disturbance when you shrieked last night," the most junior officer said casually.

"Oh no, they are the best. They look out for the old man in whatever ways they can." The host's knee rocked in rhythm with the soft thumps on the floorboard.

"It is good when neighbors look out for each other," the third officer added.

"Such good intentions keep the shire safe," their leader added. The officers nodded knowingly.

The host rose suddenly, a hand to his head and the other outstretched. "Shall I refill your cups?"

The senior spoke for his team. "Yes, I would love a good cuppa before we return to our beat."

The man gathered their cups on a silver platter and poured the cups full. Meanwhile, his foot hammered upon the floor. Tap-tap! Tap-tap! Tap-tap! He returned the saucers-and-cups to the policemen. Milk and sugar sat at hand for each to mix as he pleased. They settled further into their chairs. The host remained standing.

"A fine assortment of antiques and gold your master has!" chimed in the youngest.

"He's been an upstanding fellow since his youth," the senior officer advised. "A veteran in the War and a shrewd, but kindly, businessman."

The host nodded vigorously, his hands grasping his chair's back. "I agree. He's been most kind to me, a second father if you will."

"Speaking of will, do you think he put you in his? That would be quite a fortune to collect one day," the third officer inquired politely.

The host pulled his chair as if thinking to re-seat himself, then pushed it loudly along the boards as though he thought better of it. He did this three times, his brow furrowed with thought. "No--I don't think so...or, maybe...I don't know."

"A pity if he didn't. The sole tragedy was he never found a wife, much less a child to hold on his knee," the senior remarked.

The policemen all nodded lightly, their smiles broader as the cold wore off. Rain sprinkled the window panes in an adjacent room. Tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap! None seemed eager to enter the wintry weather. The host lifted his chair slightly off the ground, pressing its front legs like the keys of a typewriter. TAP-TAP! TAP-TAP!-TAP-TAP! He quickly released the chair and paced, his arms accenting his words as he walked and talked.

"The old man is overly cautious, which is why he is so wealthy," he said tersely.

"Of course, of course," the police answered at once.

The youngest queried, "Do you have ambitions to follow in his footsteps?"

"I am not so overbold in my aspirations," the host shot back.

"Well, then, a double pity! Much could be learned from the old man," the senior said resolutely.

"Yes! Yes! Much indeed. I, however, recognize my limits! Who would fault a man for knowing his place?" gasped the host.

"None whatsoever, good sir," the second police officer replied nonchalantly. "It is ever good for a man know his status in life."

His colleagues agreed with hearty "Hear! Hear!"

The man grimaced, and glared, and growled. With a sudden fury, he lifted the chair and smashed it upon the floor. With a thundering TAP-TAP! the stool shattered and littered the otherwise immaculate boards.

"Villains!" he shrieked as he pointed to the broken chair. "Dissemble no more! I admit the deed!--Tear up the planks! Here, here!--It is the beating of his hideous heart!"

***
Today's Monday Mischief is taken from the classic The Tell-Tale Heart!

 
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4-13-15 Monday Mischief
6:22 PM

4-13-15 Monday Mischief

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Today's Thursday Tease offers you an image, song, and lyrics to show how words, when placed in a new context, can transform the meaning and imagery. Enjoy Billy Joel's lyrical mastery, and tell us what story this inspires in you!


"Those Who Play For Ghosts" © Michael MacRae
"Thursday Tease" © Four Fools Press
"Piano Man" Song and Lyrics © Billy Joel

 It's nine o'clock on a Saturday
The regular crowd shuffles in
There's an old man sitting next to me
Making love to his tonic and gin

He says, "Son can you play me a memory
I'm not really sure how it goes
But it's sad and it's sweet
And I knew it complete
When I wore a younger man's clothes"

Sing us a song you're the piano man
Sing us a song tonight
Well we're all in the mood for a melody
And you've got us feeling alright

Now John at the bar is a friend of mine
He gets me my drinks for free
And he's quick with a joke or to light up your smoke
But there's someplace that he'd rather be

He says, "Bill, I believe this is killing me"
As a smile ran away from his face
"Well, I'm sure that I could be a movie star
If I could get out of this place"

Now Paul is a real estate novelist
Who never had time for a wife
And he's talking with Davy, who's still in the Navy
And probably will be for life

And the waitress is practicing politics
As the businessmen slowly get stoned
Yes they're sharing a drink they call loneliness
But it's better than drinking alone

Sing us a song you're the piano man
Sing us a song tonight
Well we're all in the mood for a melody
And you've got us feeling alright

It's a pretty good crowd for a Saturday
And the manager gives me a smile
'Cause he knows that it's me they've been coming to see
To forget about life for a while

And the piano sounds like a carnival
And the microphone smells like a beer
And they sit at the bar and put bread in my jar
And say "Man what are you doing here?"

Sing us a song you're the piano man
Sing us a song tonight
Well we're all in the mood for a melody
And you've got us feeling alright...

***

Grab your copy of our latest Four Fools release: The Truth Is Out There.
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4-9-15 Thursday Tease
6:09 PM

4-9-15 Thursday Tease

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Artwork © lostknightkg, All Rights Reserved - http://lostknightkg.deviantart.com/
Story and Characters © Brannon Hollingsworth, All Rights Reserved 
Brought to you by Four Fools Press: “Crazy Good Stories”

"Please state your name, Sir." The reporter tried to level his green-eyed gaze at me, but he simply did not have it in him. The kid was young, and inexperienced. With his explosion of tawny, curly red hair and peach fuzz on his chin, he looked like someone trying to get me to buy lemonade at his stand, not grill me for his campus newspaper. I doubted he'd had much experience with getting angry with the subjects of his interviews before.

I deadpanned, "I'd rather not."

Emerald orbs fluttered and lips spluttered. "Ah. Um. Ok. Well, this is Timothy Hammer, reporting with the New Dawn magazine. It is April 13, 2001 and we're sitting in the Padre Hotel in Bakersfield, California - reportedly one of the Golden State's most haunted sites. I'm speaking with Mr. X -- a purported expert in things paranormal -- in response to last night's explosive Coast to Coast radio show. What New Dawn readers would like to know, Mr. X, is what can you tell us about Shadow People?"

I knew that the recording would likely not even make. Devices like that simply do not mix well with those of my ilk. It did not matter, however, I knew what I had to say was for this man, if no one else. I know the Truth, and I'm bound to speak it--forever.

I glanced to my right and Áine was nodding vigorously. Her blue eyes were gone--replaced with my own odd eyes--and she was screaming. "TELL HIM! TELL HIM! YOU DIDN'T TELL ME, TENET! TELL HIM, YOU BAST-!"

"-Sir! Are you well?" Timothy asked, his voice panicked. I could only imagine what my pale face looked like, faced with Áine's rantings. Of course, Timothy could not see her, still screaming as she was. Áine was my own personal revenant with which to deal.

I sighed. "Believe me...you don't want to know what they are. What they are is the sort of thing that will scare a sane person so badly as to cause them to run screaming to their beds, pull the covers over their heads, and never, ever come out. That doesn't change the fact that they are absolutely real, that their greatest desire is to create massive amounts of fear and that they definitely are not, by any means, "people". Far from it, actually."

Timothy looked like he was shocked that I could string so many words together all at once. I could not blame him. I'd probably not spoken more than five words in a row to him since we'd met over a year ago, in this very hotel, in fact.

"So, where do these...things come from? What are they?" he asked.

"We will continue calling them Shadow People for now. Of all the things we could call them, this gives them the least amount of power. Despite what you might have heard, Shadow People have been around since shortly after the Fall, which is also their origin."

Timothy looked perplexed. "The Fall? Do you mean the fall of Man, as mentioned in the Bible?"

I nodded, stroking my black and silver-streaked chin beard. "Yes, as detailed in the third chapter of Genesis..."

The reported lad laughed aloud. "Mr. X, surely you do not expect me, or the readers of the New Dawn, to accept the Bible as a credible source? That is preposterous!"

I arched a brow. "Really? What, then, do you think that Zebul was referring to when he spoke to Gaal?"

The look on Timothy's face was priceless. It was the same as if I'd just told him that his breakfast was made of manna -- complete confusion and utter bewilderment. I spared him and continued speaking, "Judges, chapter 9, verse 36: 'And when Gaal saw the people, he said to Zebul, “Look, people are coming down from the tops of the mountains!” But Zebul said to him, “You see the shadows of the mountains as if they were men.'"

The young reporter scrunched up his face. "So...so, what are you saying?"

"Simply that. These things that you refer to as Shadow People have been amongst us for quite some time."

"You've still not told me what you think these things are, Mr. X."

A scowl passed over my pale features, and while Áine screeched into my ear like a banshee (unheard by the other Padre patrons) I contemplated my next words carefully. "I KNOW what these things are Timothy...but I shall not tell you. Not only would you not believe me, it is not for you to know at this time. Suffice it to say that they are tied to Berith and the Sons of Hamor."

I watched the blood drain from Timothy's face.

"H-H-Hamor?" he stuttered.

"Yes", I nodded. "Your ancient ancestors..."

***

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All Tenet, all the time!

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04-08-15 Wednesday Write-up
2:24 PM

04-08-15 Wednesday Write-up

Tuesday, April 7, 2015


Brought to you by Four Fools Press: “Crazy Good Stories”

***

Night's Nadir is out! Nab your copy today!
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04-7-15 Tuesday Tip
7:57 AM

04-7-15 Tuesday Tip

Monday, April 6, 2015


If you're anything like we are here at Four FOols Press, awesome art inspires you. It certainly does us - most of the stuff that you read here didn't exist until we clapped eyes onto a stunning piece of art, in fact. As such, we're always on the lookout for great art and every once and a while, we run across an artist who is, simply put, ABSOLUTELY AMAZING. We're talking those artists that seem to have magic pens and pencils: every time they put paint on a canvas, or graphite, on paper, or electrons on a screen - it is just mind blowing.

We'd like to feature one such artist today: the simply stunning Swede, Max Grecke - http://maxgrecke.deviantart.com/ - just check out some of these incredible pieces below!


Just this simple Hellboy redesign gets our brain to buzzing. What's the story behind this alternate Hellboy? Is he good, or evil? What does he think about his bigger, bulkier brother? Does this fellow above have the other Hand of Doom? Or does he want the one HB has? The ideas are unending!

Oh my! Being an old-school gamer, the ideas for this fellow are like an unending fountain of PC-pain! Is this orcish brute simply a warrior with a grudge, or is he something more? There is intelligence behind those eyes and a look of unfulfilled vengeance in that mouth, if you ask me!


What does your muse say about this unusual couple of blokes? Who is the ghostly boy behind the bearded brute? Are they related? Does the burly barbarian even know that he's being stalked by the specter of a boy cut down before his prime? Or perhaps they are the same person - separated by an alternate time line and shattered dimensional barrier...

Again, the possibilities are nearly limitless! Who is this unusual character? What is the story of his left and why does he wear a mask? What does he hold in his hands and why does he ask us to receive something from him? What is in his hands and what will happen to us when we take one or the other -- or both?

Be sure and check out Max Grecke's DA page for even more awesome art - we've only scratched the surface here!

We hope you get some inspiration from this #MondayMuse post! Happy writing!
***

Grab your copy of our latest Four Fools release: The Truth Is Out There.
Already in the Amazon Top 50!

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04-06-15 Monday Muse
2:21 PM

04-06-15 Monday Muse

Thursday, April 2, 2015

We often give you whole-cloth stories or tantalizing tidbits; on Thursdays we usually challenge you with Thursday Threads. However, we're going to scale back and offer you some visual teasers and short story seeds to help get those creative juices going. Look, read, write, draw, plot...go wherever the creativity spike takes you!

Here are some of Corey Blankenship's favorite inspirational artists (He may even turn some of these into more "Crazy Good Stories" later on. Ya never know ;)

"The Wizard and the Hare" © Christopher Balaskas
Magic is just a sleight-of-hand in most people's imagination--Trapped like rabbits in their cubicle-mindsets, they miss out on the thrill that comes when you step through the rabbit hole and into the Mystery. That's how I got my start, ol' Wesley the Warlock and his harrowing Hare...

"Epiphany" © Christopher Balaskas
The label on the box read "EXPLOSIVE RUNES: So Good They Will BLOW Your Mind!" I should have regarded that as a warning, not a trite marketing ploy. My teeth bit down on the first non-euclidean, sugary morsel, only to be kicked violently through my skull--amazingly that's when I truly began to see...

 "Umbrella" © Tu Bu
Rain hammered the flagstone pavement as the boot struck the oak haft. The hatted defendant reversed his grip, scooping the leg midair and throwing the assailant into the miry drain. Covered in sludge, the fighter leaped onto his feet and charged his mark once more...

  "Saloon" © Biwer Vincent
"CHEAT! Your kind always was a cow-thievin', wife-spoilin', son-of-a--" "Enough! No bigotry or blaspheming in my bar! I barely tolerate gambling. Take your grievances elsewhere!" The Nordic cattle hand glared at the innkeeper and then at the topknot-bearing drifter, "So be it. If you're more man than machine, I better see your sorry cyborg hide in the streets at high noon..."

***

Grab your copy of our latest Four Fools release: The Truth Is Out There.
Already in the Amazon Top 50!

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00UKBZDD8
4-2-15 Thursday Tease
2:28 PM

4-2-15 Thursday Tease

Wednesday, April 1, 2015


Is your news feed spinning with salacious tales?
Two tons of gold bars to the first to photograph the local leprechaun!
Google will give you its super-secret Optimal Driving Routes if you take a Google Selfie!
Spock will call you from the future if you travel to the North Pole duty station!

Wouldn't you rather have a real treat from the fools you love?

Well, we thought so! We at Four Fools Press decided to hash up a game to celebrate this jesterly day--one with a REAL prize (no fibs or follies--We promise it is not fool's gold). Here's the tune we're playing at:

We've hidden our face-palming friend above somewhere on the site. If you find him, snap a photo and post him to your social media, along with the hour the original post that he slipped his way into popped up on our site (so we know you didn't copy and paste our pretty friend. Fair play an' all ;). Don't post the date! Otherwise, you'll spoil the fun for your fellow fools. Be sure to tag Four Fools (appropriate links below!), so we can get you your prize...and you'll win a free ebook from yours truly!

Some Foolish fun where you win free gifts?! Sounds too good to be true, but it isn't! We simply want to put some light-hearted revelry into a usually frustrating day of tricks and disappointments. What's the wait? Head on yer merry way and enjoy a truly Foolish April Fools Day!

Oh yeah, this post doesn't count...nice try, though! ;)

Social Media:
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https://www.facebook.com/pages/Four-Fools-Press/1514168248831162

Find the FOol for April FOOLS Day!
6:41 AM

Find the FOol for April FOOLS Day!






 Artwork © Tu Bui, All Rights Reserved -http://artoftu.deviantart.com/
Story and Characters © Corey Blankenship, All Rights Reserved 
Brought to you by Four Fools Press: “Crazy Good Stories”

He sat in the dusky section of the showroom, deep behind the smokescreen from a hundred smouldering Senoussis and Cyranos. He sat with Prince Albert cooking in his oak pipe, a regal pennant rising with noble leisure from the hardwood dais. The night pushed youthful day onto far-off colonial shores, allowing the man a tranquil Old World evening to taste his momentary pleasures.

He reclined, eying the true royalty on stage. Buxom would be a harsh description for her pleasant slopes. A crown of midnight curls glinted with diamond clusters, the lustrous strands bouncing around the smooth curve of her neck. Somewhere a tiny nation dedicated its power generators to supply her gaze with sufficient juice, her almond eyes sparkling with electricity. Rose beds hemmed the neatly rowed marble tiles of her teeth, a lush garden where many a man desired to stroll. She stood silent, poised on the verge of another masterpiece. A soft ripple drifted from a cello bass, unlocking the harpy’s golden tongue. Beauty invisible oozed along the languid river of her voice, and swept the lost souls onto the rocks of impossible dreams. Shipwrecked hearts lined the tables, each believing himself a Hector seated amid shambling Paris.

This man, however, puffed quietly, a grizzled Odysseus reluctantly pledged by fate long ago to due diligence in this modern Helen’s defense. Her charms, distilled to perfection, flowed through his veins as a familiar habit. Tonight she poured a special brand of love-sickness imported from Cote d'Azur. Meanwhile, he leaned against the polished bars of his seat, letting the notes drip amber around crystallized memories. The man kept a steady hand below the table, rocking the hammer on his peacemaker. Business had brought the two to the Frank capital. Venus had waltzed to the lovers’ city on her meteoric promenade through high society. The coins dropped into tonight’s coffers on her behalf aimed to dismantle the world’s war machines. The servant of Pluto, however, slipped into the same drowsy alleys on a more somber affair. He spun his single malt and his six-cylinder idly as her Elysian sonnet blew across the crowd’s thirsty ears. Another hour and the familiar drum crash, followed by rapid staccato snare solos, would commence. Another broken door would swing limply on its hinges. Another bureaucratic greasy palm would drip with scarlet ink for its grasping ways. In the end, this amounted to just another job for the weathered drifter.

The man rose from his Iron Chair before the conclusion of the melodic le supplice. The enchantress continued to wring desire from the pores, and dough from the wallets, of her audience while he collected his duster and fedora. Halting at the bar, he dropped two rolls of minted francs in front of the bartender. The stacks easily covered the house’s annual expenses, much less the high-end Hibernian brew he had nursed all afternoon and well after dark. The fresh combed and oiled mustache parted on the maitre d', allowing thick lips to spout out a heavy Breton accent.

Pardonne, why two...eh, substantial payments, monsieur?”

“One for the whiskey. The other for the doll,” came the gruff answer.

“Who shall I say is madame’s generous patron?”

The man turned his collar up in preparation for a wintry greeting from the outside world.

“An old friend.”

With that, he stepped out of the bronze-handled panel doors into the barren streets. He eyed the Eiffel's spire above its cold steel arches. Sobering rain pelted taut awnings and pooled between cracked cobblestones. Another tune. Another town. The lady had made her mark. The hitman headed off toward the Embassy to make his. He piped her finale's notes before donning his native silence, in unconscious echo to the muse's closing performance.

"Mais la vie separe ceux qui s'aiment
tout doucement, sans faire du bruit
et la mer efface sue le sable
les pas des amants desunis."*

*But life separates lovers,
Very slowly, noiselessly,
And the sea erases on the sand
The footprints of separated lovers.
(lyrics from "Les Feuilles Mortes")

***
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4-1-15 Wednesday Write-up
5:47 AM

4-1-15 Wednesday Write-up