Free Read Short Story: HARVEST MOON

Harvest Moon

An Itty-Bitty Short Story

by Dustin Adrian Rhodes

A good companion shortens the longest road.”

Turkish Proverb

In the wee hours of one particular Sunday morning, the time when reasonable folks are snuggled tight in their beds, lost in a realm of fantasy and dreams. I lay in my bed where sleep had escaped me. I stared blankly at a ceiling I knew existed above, but unable to make out its details in the dark. Void of the desire to sleep, I climbed out of bed. I threw on some clothes and slipped outdoors into the darkness of the early morning hour. I was greeted by crisp clean air. I enjoy this particular time of night, or should I say, morning? That magical hour just before dawn explodes into the birth of a new day. I knew not where I was going, I followed my feet as they moved on their own accord toward an unknown destination.

   As I walked in the cool and dark, random thoughts wafted aimlessly from one abstract concept to another. There was nothing in particular on my mind. I didn’t ponder long on any one thought for long before it floated away and another would drift into place. I enjoyed the movement as my legs transported me to new and wonderful parts unknown.

  I paused when I came upon a trickle of water. A shallow brook babbled lazily. Reflective sparkles like glistening diamonds floated along the flowing surface. I looked upon the place, a quiet retreat, one I was unfamiliar. I had no recollection of having been in this locale before. Had it been five minutes? Or half an hour? On the other hand, had it been hours that I’d been walking? I had no particular place of importance to be, so I relished a pleasurable rest on a cool flat boulder.

   Dark shadows had been cast by the trees, which bordered the serene clearing, where I had settled. In the light of the bright full moon, I was alone with a menagerie of unrelated thoughts and nestled within a glorious paradise tucked away from the ravages of civilization. Crickets and katydids fervently complained to the moon for shining much too brightly, and then they’d pause as if they expected the glowing globe to express an apologetic reply. The brook babbled softly in its own incomprehensible language of gurgles, like the gentle coo of a contented baby.

   Across the shimmering rocks of the meandering brook, a bandit cautiously approached the water’s edge. Balanced on its haunches, the furry creature gingerly dipped its front paws into the water. The raccoon fastidiously washed its face clean, except for the permanent black mask that extended across its beady eyes. Satisfied, the fluffy ball of fur waddled back into the dark shadows of the surrounding foliage and disappeared from sight.

   A rustling startled me. I turned to look in the direction of the distraction. A skunk carelessly frolicked in the tall grass only a few yards away. The creature did not seem concerned by my presence. I was more than aware that I was quite visible in the moon lit clearing. The black and white fur appeared and vanished in the thick vegetation as it played with invisible playmates that only it could see. The creature rolled and tumbled in its own playful game. The white stripes began to approach nearer and nearer to my boulder. Cautiously, I slowly backed away. I kept a keen eye on the animal and wondered if the creature had intruded into my space, or had I been the intruder?

   My legs led me away from the peaceful oasis to return back to the familiarity of civilization. I strolled along a sleepy city sidewalk. I absorbed the view of modest homes and small businesses, dark as their occupants slept. Street lamps cast variations of my shadow on the ground to my right, then my left, sometimes it followed behind and other times the shadow led my way.

   In silence, an additional shadow joined that of my own. Our shadows merged as we walked together, side by side. Occasionally we’d brush lightly into one another. I initiated a soft and gentle conversation. Not knowing each other well, I kept the topics light and general. Maybe he agreed with me, maybe he didn’t, that I will never know. He volunteered nothing in exchange. Together we walked, with no predetermined destination or goal in mind. The reflection of the moon sparkled from his large dark eyes. From his loose jaw, long tongue that dangled from the side of his snout and his wagging tail, he seemed content with our casual and uncomplicated connection.

   We walked for some time when unexpectedly, he gently licked my fingertips with his wet tongue. We paused. We gazed soulfully into each others eyes. For a moment, I expected him to contribute something profound and thought provoking, but he didn’t speak a word. There were no words, which could have adequately expressed our thoughts. I experienced a pang in my heart as I watched him slowly turn and move in the opposite direction. His tail wagged continuously. I continued on my journey for a few moments, and then I paused to look back on my former companion. Had I said something to offend my companion that he had left me? He must have sensed my hesitation, for he too had turned to look back at me. Our eyes locked momentarily, as if something should have been spoken between us. All I could muster was a melancholy smile. He nodded his head as if he agreed. Sadly, we turned away from each other and each of us resumed our respective travels toward our own separate destinations.

   Fate had allowed two lonely souls to cross paths and share a few moments of uncomplicated companionship, when each had craved the company of another. A few moments in time, void of expectation or commitment, a few minutes of unexpected companionship under the radiant glow of a full harvest moon, among a clear dark sky of twinkling stars.

   With an erect posture, a small hop in my gait and warmth in my heart, I continued on my journey as the hint of the eastern light began to usher in the birth of a glorious new day.

~ The End ~




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Dustin Adrian Rhodes on Smashwords

August 18, 2012

ISBN: 9781476293806

Harvest Moon

Copyright 2012 © Dustin Adrian Rhodes All Rights Reserved

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Smashwords Edition License Notes

This manuscript is licensed for your personal enjoyment and is being offered as a free read and may not be re-sold. If you would like to share this manuscript, please feel free to share it with all of your friends. Thank you for sharing this author’s work.

This is a literary work of pure fiction. Characters, places and incidents are the products of the author’s vivid imagination and are solely intended to be used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons (or animals) living or dead, or actual events or locations is purely coincidental.

Information about Dustin Adrian Rhodes may be found on the author’s official website:


What I’ve learned from self-publishing

It’s been one year since I self-published my first novella. Boy was that an adventure and a half. Just months earlier I had written my first short story (Storm of Passion). The overwhelming positive feedback and encouragement I received from readers prompted me to write an expanded version of the original short story. Mind you, I had no prior writing experience or training, yet, I boldly went where I had never gone before.

The first draft of the manuscript was sent off to a small group of Beta readers who volunteered to give their feedback on my story, grammar, punctuation, etc. Their comments came back and I could barely make out the actual manuscript from their too numerous to count comments. I sifted through their notes and I made revisions to the manuscript. After reading my revised work, I created cover art for the book cover and then formatted the manuscript for submission to Amazon and Smashwords.

Already, I had learned some valuable lessons and more would follow:

  1. Importance of patience

    Take the time to do it right to my fullest ability. Don’t rush.

    My novel Auf Wiedersehen~Journey to Goodbye is the perfect example. It’s been three years in the making and it’s still morphing and improving as each day passes. This is the fourteenth re-write, the core story has not changed, but the manner of how the story unfolds has changed dramatically. Patience I tell myself – Rome was not built in a day.

  2. Importance of relying on the kindness of others

    I could save myself time and frustration if I do it alone, but the final outcome is more rewarding if I recruit outside help. Beta readers for example, they were wonderful. But they had not been in total agreement with their generous comments and suggestions during the Storm of Passion Beta read. I took from the experience the comments I was in agreement and revised the manuscript of my first novella.

  3. Importance of editing & proofreading

    Ok, here’s where I learned the valuable lesson about the importance of proper editing and proofreading. After the novella (Storm of Passion) was published, the reviewers comments were focused on the lack of and need of editing and proofreading. I will be the first to admit that I have no idea how to structure a proper sentence, my punctuation skills suck and I can’t spell worth a ding dong. But through my many flaws and inadequacies, I was still able to get the gist of my story across to most readers.

    An author friend told me that there are three kinds of writers:

    1. The technical writer: an individual that has the training and proficient skills to write professionally, but they aren’t as creative as a storyteller.

    2. The storyteller: an individual that can mesmerize his/her audience with endless stories, but can’t write a proper sentence if his/her life depended on it.

    3. The technical writer AND storyteller: an individual who possesses BOTH talents (like Stephen King or J.K. Rowling), but this kind of extraordinary talent only comes along once in a blue moon.

    So, I’ve accepted the fact that I can weave a yarn (in fact quite a few) but lack the technical training and ability. There are lots of folks in this world that are more than willing to assist, if only I ask.

  1. Importance of formatting

    Formatting a manuscript for self-publishing can be a chore and a headache. I read all the manuals and help hints and guidelines before I began my various forms of formatting for self-publishing. I applied all of the knowledge I had absorbed and began the online manuscript submission process. Overall, they came out ok, there were a few minor glitches I was unable to rectify.

    Recently the importance of proper formatting slapped me in the face (big time) as I read a self-published book on my Kindle. The text was all over the place, and not on just that page but the entire book. It was difficult to follow the story and especially the witty dialogue. I limped through the rest of the book, just because I was drawn into a wonderful story. Had the book been better formatted, the read would have been much more enjoyable. After all, isn’t that what a reader wants, an enjoyable read?

  2. Importance of believing in myself

    I’d have to say that the most important lesson I’ve learned is to believe in myself and to follow my dream. From the start, I realized that I had to block out the little voice inside me, the one that said I couldn’t do it. Because I ended up doing it! I had self-published my first book.

    I had considered the suggestions and comments from Beta readers and took what I deemed the better of the advice and applied it to my writing. I never compromised my story, but willingly listened to the advice along the way. Ultimately, that advice vastly improved my story.

    After the Beta read of my second novella Masked Identities, one of the Beta readers advised me to trash the whole manuscript as it was nothing but sheer crap. Sure, the comment stung, but I wasn’t about to let one person’s opinion squash my story. After all, for each story read, each individual reader will take away a different opinion. This particular comment had only been one person’s opinion. I forged ahead and self-published the manuscript. As of this writing, Masked Identities has two 5-star reviews posted on Amazon and additional 5-star reviews on other review sites.

  3. Importance of setting a goal

    Right from the start, I was determined to write and publish my stories, because I had tales to share. I wasn’t writing for fame or money, I wrote to tell my stories. Sure, my books haven’t graced the best-seller lists, nor have I received huge, whoppin’ commission checks, but that wasn’t my goal. I enjoy weaving my tales and hope that one or two readers will be whisked away from reality for a few minutes and settle into the fictional world I create in the form of a written story.

    Pulpit To Porn, my current WIP is just that kind of novella.

  4. What have I learned?

    More than I could have ever imagined. I’ve traveled to places and periods in history where it would have been otherwise impossible. I’ve become intimately acquainted with colorful characters living within my imagination. I’ve laughed. I’ve cried. I’ve cheered. I’ve told my yarn.

    That’s the reward of self-publishing …

Dustin Reviews: Bonds of Fire by Sophie Duncan

Drekken is a dragon warrior. Bonded to his dragon, Miri, together they lead a squadron of fliers. His fliers respect him, his enemies fear him, his reputation precedes him. Yet, nothing in his life could have prepared Drekken for his greatest challenge: babysitting.

Stranded after a deadly battle, separated from his squadron and Miri, Drekken finds himself the only hope for two young empaths and their nursery group of hatchlings. He must lead them all to safety and, along the way, discover some truths about himself. 

Bonds of Fire was a pleasant read surprise. A fantasy short story with heart and feeling. The characters are well developed and interesting. A sweet feel-good read when a pick-me-up is needed.

About the author

By day Sophie Duncan is a project manager developing IT solutions for a large company in the South East of England. By night, you’ll find her scribbling away at many a story that just won’t leave her alone. Sophie has been writing since she was a wee thing, and publishing since she discovered the internet in 1994 or so.

Writing is a passion and there’s nothing better than writing for an audience. Any writer who says they don’t care about feedback must have had an ego amputation :)”

Bonds of Fire is available as a free-read download at Smashwords:

Tags: gay, fantasy, dragons, dragon, gay romance, augmented human, dragon bond, baby dragons, short story

Words: 20697 (approximate)

Published June 6th 2011 by Wittegen Pres

4 out of 5 stars

Dustin Reviews: My Fifteen Minutes by SM Johnson

Michelle is a big-time fan of the groundbreaking cable TV drama, Gay Paradise. When Brady, one of the lead actors on Gay Paradise, attempts to kill himself by overdosing on sleeping pills, he gets admitted to the psychiatric unit where Michelle is a nurse.

Meeting Brady might be the most exciting thing that’s ever happened to Michelle. Her job is to help him create a safety plan for when he leaves the hospital, but all she really wants to talk about is Brady’s incredibly hot co-star, Colton.

When Colton arrives to pick up Brady, Michelle’s fifteen minutes closeted with a star are over, but will she ever give up her obsession with Gay Paradise?

My Fifteen Minutes was a delightful read with a fun twist. Michelle is the perfect “star-struck” fan and this makes for an enjoyable and fast paced read. 

About the author

SM Johnson hibernates in a conservative community of northern Wisconsin, where she writes darkly erotic fiction about things that go “naughty” in the night.

Smashwords Profile:

My Fifteen Minutes is available as a free-download at Smashwords:

Tags: short story, glbt fiction, psychological gay fiction, psych unit

Words: 8101 (approximate)

Publication Date:July 19th 2011

4 out of 5 stars

Dustin Reviews: The Math Teacher Is Dead by Robert Manners

Danny Vandervere has the world on a string: beautiful, athletic, intelligent, rich, popular; but the string starts to unravel when Danny trips over the corpse of his math teacher during his morning run. With a sprained ankle and the unlikely assistance of Ash, an unpopular goth kid from school, Danny begins to investigate the life and death of a man he only knew as Mr. Janacek. But when his ankle heals, he returns to his normal routine, only to have it interrupted again by the discovery of another corpse. As his senior year progresses, the deaths and accidents of people he knows mount up, and it seems there is a serial killer on a spree in this tiny mountain town…and all of the victims have Danny Vandervere in common. He and Ash must discover the killer before he (or she) closes in on Danny himself.

The Math Teacher Is Dead was an interesting mystery/crime read, however, I thought Danny was a tad bit too overly emotional for the richest kid in town. With that said, the story was engaging and an enjoyable short story. I would have liked to have seen this manuscript expanded into a novella.

About the author

Robert Manners was born on the Fort Ord Army Base, longer ago than he cares to admit, and grew up in Oakland, Twain Harte, and Concord, California. He is a graduate of San Francisco State University and currently earns his daily bread as an administrative assistant for a social-services nonprofit.


The Math Teacher Is Dead is available as a free-download at :Amazon

also available at Smashwords: 

Tags: gay mystery, short story, romance, young-adult, thriller, crime, contemporary

56820 words (approximate)

Publication Date: December 2, 2010

4 out of 5 stars

Dustin Reviews: Oasis by David L. Dawson

An urban fantasy adult short story about love and murder in a shopping mall.

Oasis was a strange and bizarre story. I felt as if I was trying to figure out an abstract painting – the pieces just didn’t fit – not even to make an imperfect picture. Maybe I was in the wrong frame of mind when I read this tale. It just didn’t work for me.

About the author

A writer of many things; young adult fantasy books and science fiction and anything that takes my fancy. The Fall, my dystopian YA book, is my baby. I have other stuff on Amazon that have rubbish sales but that hasn’t deterred me. Writing is my passion.

Oasis is available at Amazon:

Tags: fantasy, horror, horror fiction, paranormal, short story

Print Pages 11 pages (approximate)

2 out of 5 stars

Dustin Reviews: Freshman Orientation (Pauer Bautam University #1) by Brandon Reed

Welcome to Pauer Bautam University… where gays… young and old… come to play.

Hunky college senior Ryan Kelly hasn’t gotten any in weeks… but that’s about to change. A new wave of freshmen are swarming the college campus, and he’s got his eyes set on a young hottie named Sean. Will Ryan’s dry spell finally come to an end?

WARNING: Explicit Gay Sex

Freshman Orientation is an adorable story of Ryan’s quest to score with the hottest new freshman Sean. Is it bad timing or kismet that repeatedly comes between these two young men preventing them from getting it on? A cute fast read.

Freshman Orientation is available at Amazon:

Tags: mm romance, gay romance, gay & lesbian fiction, gay fiction, short story, young men, college boys

Kindle Edition, 51 pages (approximate)

3 out of 5 stars