booksandstories.com

December 2000 Christmas Review

Web Page Progress

Well, it'll soon be Christmas again, and it does seem to be such a long time ago when we were all expecting the world to end at the turn of the century. If it did, I missed it! But for all that, it also seems to have passed very quickly. Funny that, isn't it? It passed by quickly, but it seems to be distant. At the beginning of the year I was busy organising my accounts with WorldPay and sorting out my domain name. Then came the task of converting all my stories to HTML. Finally it all came together. Now it all seems to be running smoothly (all fingers crossed as I type this!) and I am well pleased with the result. Ah, well, so far so good, as they say.

Now for what's been happening. December saw my number of visits break the thousand mark. Not a tremendous amount of visitors considering the number of websites out there and the number of people accessing them. But I can't be greedy. There are many sites I have seen that are similar to mine that have had far less. I intend to keep booksandstories.com running for as long as I can, so hopefully, that total will continue to grow. As for who you all are, because few of you email me with any of your comments, I'm still not sure if you are all new and different visitors, or a small and dedicated few. Whichever the case, I hope you find visiting booksandstories.com to be both interesting and stimulating. Whether or not you buy access to a book, if you enjoy your visit and get something out of the stories I write, then the site has been worth it. That was the main aim of booksandstories.com, to allow people to have access to my stories, and, hopefully, for you to enjoy them.

Finally, I have had another sale. This time it was "The Look Of Love", a story that happens to be one of my favourites. Again, it was a secondary character that blossomed and seemed to nudge her way into the limelight that did it. I particularly enjoyed the relationship between Chrissy and Adam, and I feel that their "money game" was the highlight of the story. For that person who has bought access to "The Look Of Love", you'll know what I mean. As for those of you who haven't, read the free chapters and see what you think of the story. Unfortunately, the "money game" sequence is in the pay chapters, so you'll have to buy access to them to read it. I know that means you have to get the old credit card out, and it's a lot of bother and all that going through the process, but it's only one GB Pound. Hardly nothing. And I never intend to change that price as it wouldn't be fair on the odd one or two of you who have paid it. But that also means that it will never go up, either. It takes me a long time to write the stories, so I don't think I'm asking for too much. And, of course, you do get the twenty chapters free up front.

Enough about money! Regardless of whether you pay or not, enjoy your visit and, please, let me know what you think of the site. And above all, a very Merry Christmas to you, one and all!

Writing Progress

The holiday season is beginning to cut into my writing time, but I'm keeping at it. "The Return Of The Sixpack" is shaping up for it's big showdown, and I finally think I've got all the characters in the right place at the right time. With luck and time it may be finished by January 2001, so you may be able to buy access to the pay chapters by February. As the free chapters are already available, you can always start reading those whenever you wish. For those of you who have accessed the free chapters of this story and "The Lost Girls", you may have noticed a subtle change. Both these stories are, of course, related, and I originally intended for them to be one book. It soon became obvious that they were both going to be too large, and so I split them. "In The Shadow Of Mountains" was the original title, and so you will now find that included at the begining of each book. "The Tale Of The Comet" is similarly spilt into two books, but I decided to keep them together because I didn't feel that the two halves could stand on their own individually.

Once I have finished "The Return Of The Sixpack", I will start on the first book in the sequence, "The Wrath Of The Tun-Sho-Lok". This will go through events at the beginning of the war that created the Destroyers and introduces the ancestors of characters who ultimately find their fate in the final story "The Tale Of The Comet".

Another Short Story for you this month, and one I may expand at a later date as "The Happy Eater".

December's Short Story

"She's an air head, Nigel! Nothing more than a common slut!"

"Mum!" Nigel was horrified.

Inviting Angela for Christmas dinner was going to be the highlight of his celebrations, but it was becoming plainly clear that his mother was having none of it. She had been bad-mouthing Angela from the moment he had suggested it an hour ago, and she hadn't stopped yet.

"How could you even think of inviting her?" she snapped.

"You know why!" Nigel replied indignantly. "She's my girlfriend! And she doesn't have anybody else! You know she was an orphan!"

"But she's so terribly common! You're far too good for her, you really are! What you see in her I can only imagine! No! Let me guess! What else would a girl like her have going for her!"

"Alright! That's enough! I was trying to be polite up to now. I was trying to get you to reconsider out of your own good heart! Now you can stuff it! In fact you can stuff the whole Christmas thing along with that turkey you bought that thinks it's an ostritch! If she doesn't come, I'm not!"

That seemed to have the most effect on his mother. She developed a most hurt expression.

"But you have to come!" she wailed. "The Wendicott-Smythe's will be there!"

"Yes! And their fat daughter!"

"That's very unbecomming!"

"It's far less worse than what you've been saying! Anyway, she is fat! She's almost as big as that turkey!"

"Nigel!"

Nigel folded his arms and looked obstinate. His mother stared at him a moment before finally giving in.

"Oh, alright then!" she snapped in irritation. "But I'll have to warn the Wendicott-Smythe's. I'll tell them she's an orphan and that we were just doing the spirited thing."

"Mother!"

"Oh, stop complaining! I've said yes, haven't I? Just make sure she wears something decent!"

-o-

Angela always enjoyed the office party. All those free drinks with collegues who seemed to think it was an excuse to forget all their inhibitions and loyalties for one or two hours. It was so strange how men who were always talking about their wives and girlfriends during the rest of the year not only didn't bring them along to the office party, but were always the first to offer her a drink and get their Christmas kiss.

And it wasn't only a kiss that some of them wanted.

Angela didn't mind. It was the fun that counted. Not just during the office party itself, but afterwards. During the rest of the year Angela delighted in making subtle hints to the men who had received their Christmas presents early. And they weren't always that subtle, either. Still, it always got her what she wanted.

Yes, she would enjoy tonight. Tonight was going to be the icing on her personnal cake.

Angela had worked at MacKintosh and MacKensey for three years. She had started as a seventeen-year-old on office experience. Even then she had been beautiful. She turned heads in the office straight away. And at that years Christmas party she had learned a priceless lesson.

If you are a stunningly beautiful young woman who isn't weighed down with scruples, and is prepared to use what God has given her, then the sky is the limit.

Angela quickly realised that she didn't need qualifications or even how to do her job properly so long as she caught the attention of the right eyes. And caught them she did. From office girl to Personnal Assistant to Mr MacKensey in three years. And she even had an assistant of her own to do most of the work. Mind you, Vanessa was beginning to show signs of dissent. It happened with all her assistants after a short while. Vanessa would have to go after Christmas to be replaced by another equally gullable and plain girl.

They were all plain next to Angela. Plain, or just down right ugly. They deserved to lose their boyfriends. And lose them most of them did. Angela was never hesitant in testing her fire power, and there was no girl on earth who could match one of her broadsides. She stole boyfriends with monotonous regularity, often discarding one for another. They were all temporary flings. They meant nothing unless she could profit by them. But she never passed up the chance to put one of her plain female collegues firmly in her place. As a result she had very few female friends in the office. Angela didn't care. They were all just jealous. Jealous because she was beautiful and willing to flaunt it while they were just plain.

Not that it wasn't all hard work. Angela prided herself on her slim and beautifully shaped body. She kept herself nicely tanned. Not too much, but just enough to give her that lovely healthy look. She kept herself in shape, pampered her skin and long blonde hair with constant attention and regularity, and always wore the most perfect outfits to show it all off. In the main that meant anything tight, short, flimsy or partially transparent. And always high-heels. Not for her any of those ugly and plain items of footware. The plain and ugly could wear them. No, it was always high-heels in bright colours or black. They showed off her long, tanned bare legs to most effect.

Just perfect.

Like tonight. Choosing the right outfit was crucial. Something short and skimpy. But it had to be Designer. All her clothes were Designer. She could afford it. Mr MacKensey was very generous -so long as his wife didn't know. She let him think he was in control of course. It wouldn't do to let him know about Nigel. But then, she had met his son when he visited his father at the office. It seemed so obvious. The family had money, Mr MacKensey was getting on (and his sexual performances were getting a bit so-so), and Nigel was young and the only son. When Mr MacKensey senior retired from the Partnership, Mr MacKensey junior would take over. Nigel had already graduated, so it wouldn't be long now. Angela was just making sure that the take-over was a complete one. But before that came Christmas.

It was going to be fun at the MacKensey's for Christmas dinner. The old git would be smiling to himself at his little secret. He thought her going out with Nigel was just a ploy to allow them to have more contact. Of course, her secret was much more fun. And when the old git found out there would be nothing he could do. That was mainly because of her insurance. Not only was her relationship with both MacKensey senior and junior going full on strong, but she had been focusing her attentions on the rather dour Mr MacKintosh since September, and tonight his Christmas would come early. With a wife, three children and two grandchildren, her promotion to being his PA would be announced in the New Year. He couldn't really refuse, could he? Then a nice society wedding with MacKensey junior in the summer would round things off perfectly.

Wasn't life fun? And weren't men stupid?

-o-

"Keep on target!"

"The engines are shot! That last hit punctured the hull! We're losing pressure!"

"Fire again! Fire again!"

The two ships weaved in and out of the asteroids, each one leaving it's evasive manoeuvre until almost the last second. Both ships trailed sparkling debris, and both had hulls peppered with blackened holes. The chasing ship fired again, high powered maser bolts striking an asteroid as the leading ship darted behind it.

It had been a long chase.

The Zung-Hak'tse swarm queen was an hamaphrodite shape-shifter. Her hive had been destroyed on Zealos IV by troops of the Zenomorph Reaction Force, but not until after the entire colony there had been devoured. It was only when complete contact had been lost with the colony that the ZRF went in to investigate. It had been a bloody and ravenous battle, but only the swarm queen had escaped. She had stolen one of the ZRF's own ships, and of the three ships that had given chase, only one now remained. The other two had been destroyed in the running dog-fight since they had left Zealos IV. The fact that the swarm queen had proved to be such a gifted combat pilot wasn't a surprise. She had eaten their most experienced pilot.

When the Zung-Hak'tse ate a victim, not only did they absorb their flesh, but they absorbed their thoughts and experiences too. It meant that they could assume that person's shape, personality, and knowledge. This they then used for their own purposes. And for the swarm queen, that meant absorbing as much mass as possible before she exploded into a new swarm.

"She's pulling away!"

"Fire again! We have to destroy her!"

With sweat pouring from his brow, the gunner concentrated on the fleeing target. He blocked out the images of the asteroids that flew towards him only to disappear to the left and to the right. He fixed his mind and his eyes only on the ship. He remembered the carnage on Zealos IV, of previous trusted men turning into monsters and devouring their commrades. It couldn't happen again. It couldn't....

The gunner fired, and with delight he saw his shots hit home. There was a firey flash that temporarily blinded him. It blinded his pilot too. A moment's distraction and the asteroid loomed ahead. There was another bright flash and then silence returned to the asteroid belt.

-o-

A star fell from the sky. Angela saw it quite clearly as she drove down the road from her house. It flew across the road in front of her heading downward, then it landed in an allyway with a flash and a thump.

Angela stopped her bright red sportscar and got out to take a look. She walked down the allyway towards the bright glow, her high-heels tapping. As she got nearer she slowed her pace. Whatever it was didn't look very big. It was a battered looking cannister, maybe about the size of a dust-bin and similar in shape. She felt the heat from it and it smelled sort of funny. Maybe it was a piece of an aeroplane? There were always bits of them falling off these days. She moved closer leaning forward.

The end of the cannister flew off and something leapt out at her. It sprang at her face and latched on, smoothering her cries. She staggered back, pulling frantically at the meaty, pulsating form that covered her face. She couldn't pull it off, and it started to ooze around her head until only her blonde hair hung beneath.

Angela flailed about and bumped and staggered against the wall. Everything was dark and silent, and she was getting such a headache.

The pulsating mass seemed to compress and there was a sudden crack. Angela stopped flailing about and went rigid, then she toppled backwards and landed with a thud. One of her high-heeled shoes flew off.

Only the bulbous, pulsating mass moved now. It sank into Angela's neck and shoulders, drawing in her long blonde hair like bright spaghetti. Then it slowly disappeared into Angela's dress as the Zung-Hak'tse ate her over large but willing victim from the inside out. With a slurp, one of Angela's arms shot into the dress and there was more crunching. Her other arm quickly followed, and then each of her legs in quick succession. Finally there was just the dress lying on the ground with something large inside it writhing around, and always there was the sound of crunching.

Minutes passed and the allyway became silent. The dress lay on the ground empty. Beside it was a large gruesome form that seemed to be made from discarded sausage meat. It moved and flowed and gradually began to lift itself up. As it moved and rose it took shape. It split and became a body and legs, then stumpy arms grew. At the top a head seemed to inflate. Tendrils burst out of it and flowed downward. The changes continued at a faster pace until, suddenly, Angela's features appeared, and the whole figure changed colour. Skin flowed and curves shaped the body, and tendrils turned into blonde hair. It all took less than a minute, but Angela now stood naked in the darkened allyway.

Angela looked down at the dress and discarded shoes. Her expression was bland, blank. Slowly she bent and picked up the dress. As she held it up and stared at it, her g-string knickers fell out and landed on the floor. Her gaze followed them and she suddenly bent and picked them up. Sticking the dress under her arm she held the knickers in both hands, stretching them between her fingers. Pulling them apart she let go with one finger and watched them snap back against her other hand. Her expression now changed.

Angela smiled. She smiled brightly, effervescently.

"This is going to be fun!"

-o-

Angela loved the office party. With her escape pod stuffed into the boot of her car, she had driven the rest of the way there and only arrived half-an-hour late. The first person she met was Andy. He was the attendant in the underground car-park at their office building, a rough and scruffy young man who seemed to develop an extra tattoo or stud through some part of his face whenever Angela saw him. Most people in the office despised and avoided him. Angela ignored him. Well, almost. As usual, Andy watched her park her car from the vantage point of his little hut. He always watched her as she came and went to her car. Angela always knew why, and she never failed to give him a show. Each time she got in or out of her car she would swing her legs in and out with deliberate and exaggerated movements, allowing her short dress to rise up. She did it again as she got out, knowing he would be watching.

As Angela walked passed the hut towards the lift, Andy smiled at her.

"You're a bit late, aren't you?"

Angela paused and looked at him. "I had to stop for a bite to eat."

Andy grunted. "There'll be lots of food up there. Not that I'll get any."

"Haven't you been invited? Bill was last year."

"Bill obviously fitted in better." Andy looked sullen for a moment, then he smiled and held up a sprig of mistletoe. "How about a Christmas kiss for looking after your car and getting you a good spot near the lift?"

Angela hesitated the tiniest of moments before smiling and saying, "Why not?"

Andy had expected no more than a brief peck on the lips. Instead, Angela wrapped her arms around him and pressed her body against him, and what he got was a full on kiss, tongue and all. He seized his chance, kissing her back with equal enthusiasm, and the two of them staggered and bumped against the side of the hut. As Andy kissed her, his hands wandered everywhere, as if they weren't sure where to go first, but didn't want to miss the chance of any of it.

When the kiss was finally ended, Angela moved her hand down to grip one of his. It was under her short dress resting on her thigh. Rather than pulling it away, she stared into his eyes and forced his hand higher until it met and slipped under her knicker-elastic. Here she paused, watching him intently as he stared back at her.

"Would you like to twang my knickers?" she asked him in a soft voice.

"I'd like to twang a lot more," he replied.

"Pity about the CCTV down here. And your hut's too small."

Andy stepped away from her. He darted back into his hut and flicked a switch on the console under his monitor screen.

"The cameras are off," he said when he came out again. "Your car or mine?"

Angela smiled and put her arms around him again. "Oh, I think here will do fine!" she said, then opened her mouth wide and bit his head in two at the jaw-line.

Two more quick bites followed as Angela stuffed Andy's torso into her gaping mouth even as his legs still kicked. There was no blood, as she slurped it all down as it flowed. Angela's head and neck expanded and distorted as she bit and crunched her way through his body until only his feet were left. With a last slurp, she gulped them down and swallowed.

Pausing to rearrange her dress and underware, Angela headed for the lift. Once inside she stared at her reflection in the mirrored walls to check that there were no unsightly stains on her dress. Satisfied, she fluffed up her hair and smiled. Her smile didn't last for long, however. Her expression turned to one of discomfort as she placed a hand over her stomach and burped. Then she coughed something up and spat.

A metal stud hit the mirrored wall and fell to the floor.

Angela kicked it away in disgust. "I hate pips!"

The lift dinged and the doors opened. Angela emerged only to be grabbed and pushed back inside again.

It was Henry Morgan, a lizard in a suit.

Henry was a well-dressed lady killer in his dreams. In reality he was nearly forty-eight and an old-fashioned dresser who spent most of his time leaning over his secretaries so that he could look down their blouses. A constant flirt and groper, he had been the subject of several charges of sexual harrassment that had so far failed to stick. Angela was a constant focus of his attention, but her position with MacKensey had always allowed her to be more than frank with him whenever his hands had taken to exploration. Not that he didn't stop trying things. Like at the Christmas party.

Henry pushed her back against the far wall and pressed the button on the lift panel. As the doors closed he smiled wickedly and said, "Hello there, Angela, darling! I've been waiting for you to come!"

"You must have been waiting a long time, your mistletoe has wilted."

Henry tossed the battered sprig he was holding to the floor and pressed another button on the panel that caused the lift to stop between floors. "You and I don't need such pretences. Come on, Angela, I know what you've been up to with old MacKintosh this past month. I work late too, you know. And I see and hear things." He smiled wickedly again and ran his hand over her abdomen. "I wouldn't want to ruin your promotion, but for a small favour my lips will always be sealed."

From that smile, Henry obviously thought he had out-manoeuvred her at last, and he waited for her expected capitulation. Angela didn't displease him.

"And I suppose you want that favour now?" she said with her eyebrows raised in innocent surprise.

"Of course, my dear! I want you unsullied and fresh before any other endeavors of the evening should tire you."

"Fine! If you want it, you can have it!"

When the lift returned to the correct floor a few minutes later, only Angela emerged. This time there was no-one to greet her or push her back inside. Still she hesitated, however. But only to burp, cough up and spit out another stud.

"I hate pips!" she said again, stamping her foot.

As usual, few of the female staff had turned up. Well, at least not the ones with boyfriends. They had all learned the hard way. As for those who were there, they avoided her, or merely acknowledged her with icy looks. Angela didn't care. Why should she worry? With the attention she was getting from the men she should be ready to swarm in a couple of days. She thought about that as she made her way through the noisy throng and headed for the drinks and buffet table. A couple of days would be Christmas and the dinner at the MacKensey's. How apt.

John Fenton stared at her as she stood among the secretaries and lawyers drinking her Martini and nibbling delicately at the sandwiches and quiche she had picked from the buffet. He thought she hadn't noticed, but Angela was busy wondering if she was standing in just the right manner to get his full attention. She obviously was because he came over.

"Are you glad it's Christmas?" he asked her.

"Yes, I always love Christmas. Don't you?"

He shrugged. "It's not what it used to be. It's too commercialised. People just use it as an excuse to get drunk and eat too much."

"I've got nothing against eating too much!"

John laughed. "You? Eat too much? That's the joke of the season! You never have more than a slimming biscuit all day!"

Angela seemed hurt by his sudden laughter. "I have to look after my figure, you know," she protested.

"And don't we all know it!"

Angela put one hand on her hip. "Why are you picking on me?"

"I'm not!"

"Oh, yes you are! What's the matter? You're not usually so horrible to me!"

"I'm not being horrible! It's just-"

He paused as if thinking. Angela couldn't wait. "It's just what, John?"

He took a deep breath. "I hear on the grapevine that you're seeing Nigel MacKensey."

Angela was now on the defensive. "And what else does the grapevine have to say?"

"That it could be serious. Is it true?"

Now it was Angela's turn to shrug. "Maybe. I'm having the MacKensey's for dinner on Christmas Day, so you can make of that what you think."

"Meeting the whole family sounds serious enough to me."

"Then it's serious, then."

John stared at her a moment before glancing quickly around at the people nearby and saying in a lowered voice, "If it's serious with Nigel, then we're finished."

"Is that an ultimatium?"

John's expression grew stern. "I'm not sharing you with anybody. If it's him you want, fine. If it's me, fine. But don't piss me about."

Angela didn't reply and John stared at her impatiently.

"Well? Who's it to be?" he demanded.

Angela put her glass and paper plate down on a side table and took his hand in hers. She led him through the people who were too busy talking and laughing to notice and took him to a quiet spot outside one of the offices.

"Look, John," she said turning to him. "Let's not argue now. It's Christmas, it's a time for giving. You know I love you, and you know I wouldn't do anything without telling you first. Yes, I am seeing Nigel. He's been very nice to me, and it's true that I'm flattered and more than a little interested. But it hasn't gone any further. Whether it will or not I can't say. But one thing is for sure, losing you for a friend will be hard to endure, so try to understand. I'm only human after all."

John still looked annoyed. "You didn't answer my question."

"And I'm not going to. I'm not going to make any snap decisions based on your demands. This is important and I need time. If you decide to walk away I can't stop you. But it's my decision, and I'll make up my mind when I'm good and ready and not before."

John sighed and shook his head. "You're making this difficult. Why should I stay? Why should I wait?"

"Because you love me?" She smiled and ran her hand up and down his chest. "Because you can't do without me? Because you fancy me rotten and because you're thinking about kissing me right now."

John stared at her for a moment and then he took her head in both his hands and kissed her. They kissed long and passionately, and when they finally came up for air, neither of them could stand it for much longer.

"I want you now," he said, unlatching the door to the office behind her and kicking it open.

"I want you too, John," she murmered, kissing him on the cheek and neck. "Ooh, I can't wait to feel you inside me...."

They slipped through the door and it closed behind them. There was a moments silence, and then something bumped against the door, shaking it violently. It bumped and shook twice more and then became still. A few minutes passed, and then Angela emerged, brushing her hair back in place.

By the end of the evening the number of male party guests had noticeably dwindled. In fact it was so noticeable that one of Angela's female collegues actually spoke to her.

"This party is dead this year. Where is everybody?"

Angela condescended to answer her. "I think they've all gone for a curry. I quite fancy an Indian myself. Or maybe a Chinese." And with that final comment she walked away leaving the other woman staring after her.

Yes, Angela certainly enjoyed the Christmas party that year. She ate and drank her way through it and went home and slept like a baby. After, that is, she ate the cat. It was her neighbour's pet. They were away and had asked her to feed it, so she fed it to herself and threw away the bell.

Next morning she enticed in the postman and the milkman by appearing at the door in a tiny negligee and no knickers. It worked like a dream. Then she ordered in four pizzas from four different take-outs and ate the delivery boys. By then she was almost ready to pop, but she had to be sure that there would be enough food for her swarm when they burst forth. Then Nigel visited and told her the good news. To say that Angela was over the moon with enthusiasm was an understatement, but that wasn't the impression she gave to Nigel.

"Are you sure this is a good idea?" she asked him.

"Of course it is. Why shouldn't it be?"

"Because your mother doesn't like me."

"Yes she does! You've got it all wrong. Mum is fine about it, I promise you!"

Angela decided to drop the act. Sitting back in the sofa she folded her arms and declared, "Your mother hates me. She thinks I'm a tart."

"She does not!"

"She does! And I know why, too. She was friendly with that Skipton woman."

"My father's old PA has nothing to do with this."

"Oh yes she does! It was her that filled your mother with all the lies about me. If I ever find out where she went, I'd sink my teeth into her! I would!"

"Forget Miss Skipton! Forget all this talk about my mother not liking you. I like you, and that's all that matters, okay?"

Angela smiled and nodded. "Okay," she said quietly.

-o-

Christmas Day was bright and crisp.

Nigel gave Angela an encouraging smile as they waited on the doorstep of his father's house. From inside they could hear happy voices and festive music. Someone was laughing.

"Are you ready?" he asked her.

She nodded. "Actually, I'm rather hungry. In fact, I'm so hungry I could burst."

"I'm glad, because that turkey mum has must have been an extra on Jurassic Park!"

Angela giggled and Nigel pressed the doorbell.

His Mother opened the door, and the sound of good cheer increased and spilled out along with the warmth. She smiled at her son and hugged him warmly.

"Merry Christmas, Nigel dear," she said, then lost her smile as her eyes fell on Angela. "Well, at least you've dressed properly," she said dismissively. "Come in! Come in! Everyone is here and dinner's ready!"

Angela gave Nigel a 'told-you-so' look. Nigel kissed her on the cheek. "It'll be fine, I promise!" he insisted. Then he hugged her and led her inside.

The door closed softly behind them and the happy voices within faded and then stopped. After a moment Angela's voice could be heard.

"Surprise!"

POP!

And that was how a swarm queen of the Zung-Hak'tse came to meet the Wendicott-Smythe's at the home of the MacKensey family on Christmas Day.

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