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Ham & Chaz (Short Fiction Clean Romance Cozy Mystery Paranormal Fantasy)

by C. C. Brower on 2018-11-11

Finding out you're immortal as a teenager can set your world on fire.

But finding out at the same time that just getting angry could kill everyone around you can dampen that pretty quickly.

Who wants to live forever if you can't get close enough to someone that they can piss you off and live to see the next sunrise with you?

Meaning - it was time to take a road trip to sort things out.

When my uncle offered a summer gig cooking out of his food truck for a big-city contract, I jumped at it.

But when he stopped to pick up another helper down the road, I was bummed. She was a looker, a great cook, but I didn't know if I could trust myself with her - in every way...


They were waiting for us before dawn.

Hungry people. Lots of them. Jean nudged my feet and I sat up, rubbing my eyes.

"No rest for the wicked."

I rolled up our sleeping gear and stowed it while Jean went inside to make sure Hami was up - she was. And he came back out with a wad of her sleeping bag and pad for me to roll up and stow. Jean then went around back to start the generator. I heard Hami firing up the grill and soon got all the smells of it. Meanwhile, I unfolded the chairs again and set out the small condiments table. Hami opened up the screen window and passed out the napkins, salt/pepper packages, and plastic-ware.

Everyone was pretty orderly and started forming into lines. I heard some coughing, some sneezing, but nothing really serious. Of course, in the dark, it was hard to tell much beyond the yellow glow under our awning. I did see some white nurses and doctor's outfits in the line out there.

The guys in front of the line just smiled at me when I gave them any attention. And I smiled back. Our work was cut out for us, but they were honestly happy to see us.

Jean was inside, doing a final check to see everything was in place. I pulled up a trash can and put a liner in it, one of many I could see filling today.

Then I headed inside the van to get started.

- - - -

The day rolled through with just enough breaks that we got our own meals in between. Jean showed up regularly, often riding up with someone's delivery truck with more supplies.

Both of us got frazzled from working in the humid heat. And I had to take my "quick-counts" for "centering" myself often – just keep going on an even keel. Hami seemed to deal better with it than me. But she got to smile at the customers and seeing them smile back. Of course, I was focused right on the hot grill, while my bandanna kept my brow sweat wicked to the side and out of my eyes.

All I could see most of the time was the next order and the last one going out.

And Hami's cute backside every now and then.

But mostly my mind had to stay on what I was cooking and my supply of hamburger and cheese. For our menu was simple. It had burgers and cheese in different combinations. And we never had any complaints.

By the lines, we didn't have much competition, either. Jean had understated how much we were needed...

- - - -

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The Case of the Forever Cure (Short Fiction Young Adult Science Fiction Fantasy)

by C. C. Brower on 2018-11-04

Why I was brought in to solve a mystery of people getting and staying healthy was a bit curious on its own.

They were all terminally ill. And in quarantine. Yet one nurse and her student "angels of death" had been able to reverse this deadly disease that modern "medicine' had created through their own negligence.

Most of the big city hospitals had these outbreaks, and had sent their worst cases out to live their lives in suburban hospices - often unknown to those locals. And if their quarantine security failed, an incurable plague could spread and decimate the human population by at least half - to start with.

Whoever had hired me wanted to know what those healed people were going to do - for anyone could see a huge litigation potential from being cured. But not if they died. For dead people can't talk - or sue.

At least to stay anonymous, my financiers had to stay off my radar and out of my hair.

Or the head nurse would help me find out how they created this mess that she was solving without their help...


It wasn't any real surprise to me that these patients started getting better.

But my methods were unorthodox, and had been kept a secret for nearly half a century at this point. I was called in as a last resort by some very insistent, and very connected family of one of the patients.

And now he's fine, but neither I or him or anyone else can talk to anyone outside.

Well, I've got this detective fellow named Johnson who somehow wangled a way into my over-booked schedule. 30 minutes a day. Uninterrupted. And that's a miracle all on its own.

Typically, we are understaffed. And all volunteer. None of us were expected to ever return from the quarantine. But all their doctors and nurses had gotten ill as well, so they'd asked - no, begged for people to basically suicide in order to help these people live out their last days with some sort of dignity.

They got half the number they wanted, which was twice what they actually expected.

But they were city folks. Pretty cold and pessimistic. Hard to get a smile out of them.

And that was our secret weapon - infectious smiles. Works every time. Because you have to heal from the inside out, not just pile on more drugs and pills.

The main trouble was with the quarantine security equipment. The technicians to fix it were also sick. If it failed before we got this outbreak under control, it would roll through all the population of this suburb and those beyond it like no plague before it. And the infected would spread it further, all within a few hours of contacting it. All innocent carriers.

What was worst, it left babies alone. The ones that needed help the most. That was why we were here, originally. To solve why the babies weren't getting sick - and feed them and change them and cuddle them meanwhile.

But when the last of the nurses collapsed, we had to break into the worst areas and sacrifice ourselves. Because the walls were all glass, and we could see the entire ward from the maternity section. Damned if we were just going to stand there and watch them all die...