A Different Sort of Parade

vintage-1722810_1920

Oogdiblok the Fiercely Flatulent surveyed the plodding masses, scowling. Urgdup, his counselor, knew this meant nothing since the stinky leader always scowled unless he was angry.

“Fmouglisk oog digump,” Urgdup warned.

Sighing, Oogdiblok replied, “Gurdonk.” He blew a raspberry with his fat lips, dismissing his counselor. His expression did not lighten until Fmouglisk oozed in.

She was upset. Oogdiblok knew this by the radiant smile she wore. “Eekdi homespank murgle!” she screeched.

He smiled and winked. He knew he’d started without her. Next time, he resolved, she wouldn’t be allowed to watch The Parade of Ogre Nations at all.

 

Carrot Ranch Literary Society Prompt

A Tisket, A Tasket, A Green and Yellow Fruit Basket

Igor stared at the remains of his shopping trip. His enormous hunch rose and fell in a worried sigh.

He knew he’d gotten what he was sent for. He remembered selecting the shiniest peeler from the grocery shelf and heading to Checkout.

While standing in line behind an old lady with a dog in her purse and in front of a young boy who kept poking his hunch, Igor had noticed the fruit cups.

His stomach had rumbled.

Why not? it had asked. Herr doktor will never know. He’d added them to his peeler, hurriedly paid, and left. Just to be certain, he’d tossed the receipt behind a few scraggly bushes outside the door.

And now, as he stared at the gaping hole his leaking containers had made in the paper bag, he realized a receipt might be a thing to hang onto.

“Ah, Igor,” a deep voice said from the doorway. “Excellent. A minute more and the specimen would be useless.” Dr. Frankenstein held out a hand. “Give me the peeler and let’s get him started.”

Created for Fractured Faith Blog’s Flash Fiction Challenge.

Skinwalkers, XXXVI

His new comrades relaxed their trap enough to allow Nathan an exit, and he used every bit of a waning self-control to keep that exit casual. Once outside Ware Tech, however, he broke into a run. Pent-up adrenaline and relief pushed him away from his detested workplace, while anticipation of his future job appointment pulled him toward his beloved slums.

Not even the clustered groups of autoad workers on the citywalks could slow him. They may have thought to, if their guards had been hired from a higher class of people. He sprinted past the huddled groups, catching random bursts of light from their repair equipment and a few curious, slow-turning faces from their repair crew.

At last, his slipshods clattered down the cement hole of his apartment landing. He wasted a full moment staring at Franks’ entry before activating his own. Nothing. Nathan had still not heard from Shin.

His own door opened. He rushed in. A hurried security update and shouted lighting command and he almost ran to his food station. Besides its new functionality, he knew today was chargecycle and the supply would have been refreshed automatically. This was the one time he trusted enough to eat the premeal bundle.  He pressed the corresponding option and enjoyed the relaxing sounds of a machine working perfectly. His stomach rumbled in anticipation of fresh food.

A muffled *beep* called from the night stand drawer of his sleep area nearby.

“In a jiff,” Nathan answered. A wheat product-wrapped mix landed in the deposit area, steaming in a very appealing way. He even caught the scent of bacon. No amount of psychological control could convince him it was all synthetic; as his memories drew him back to quiet farm mornings and real, actual, from-a-pig bacon resting on his breakfast plate.

“Grandpa,” he breathed, remembering. He picked up the food bundle and bit into its perfect corner. Almost, he thought as he chewed.

He walked to his bed and activated the night stand drawer one-handed. He glanced at his work comm one last time before switching it with the one within the secret compartment, but there was still nothing. “Fine,” he said, resolved.

The new comm had mostly garbage, a new threatening message from Franks, and a confirmation notification from Carapace. His inpracticum demonstration was set for just over a halfcycle away. He shoved the remaining premeal into his mouth, dropped the comm and his wristwatch on the bedding, and headed to the bathroom.

Relieving himself took little of his time, so he found himself staring at the closed skin conditioner as he worked the remaining food wad around inside his mouth. The skin would stay fresher inside, but a tiny voice in his mind began asking questions. What if the skin was so cheap it’s in bits when you open it again? What then?

He’d open it a little, check things over, then head to bed. His fingers found the conditioner’s seams, working the casing apart little by little. A hiss of repressed steam and the flabby suit was revealed in all its disturbing glory. Nathan released his own steam in the form of a relieved sigh. He closed the case again, pressing at all the edges to be certain they were latched.

Despite its dubious cleanliness, he drank and rinsed with the sink water. It tasted of metal and misery. He was only too glad to follow up with toothwash.

Time was against him as he skipped back to his bed. With utmost care, he pawed through the blanket wad for his comm, his watch, and a half-full vial of blue liquid. They were all set upon the night stand as he stripped and flung his liner onto a hanger, then straightened and checked as he climbed beneath the wrinkled warmth of his bed.

His comm set, his watch mollified; Nathan bit below the auto-sealed segment of vial. Spitting the plastic-like material to the side, he downed the remains of the sleeping drug and fell unconscious immediately.

 

Continued from Skinwalkers, XXXV.

Take Me as I Am

Take me as I am

I am
feelings-
They run deep. and strong. and personal.

I am
woman-
I have hormones. and instincts. and issues.

I am
smart-
I love words. a clever joke. or a math puzzle.

I am
average-looking-
With small eyes. a big nose. a few imperfect teeth.

I am
human-
I make mistakes. have flaws. feel embarrassing moments.

I am
capable-
I am! I am! I am!

I am me, and am not another

Take me as I am

And stop apologizing.

20180413_085453

Wilhelmina Winters, Sixty-Four

Here we are again, Wil mouthed to her friend. The pale, dark-haired girl in the waiting room window spoke the same words, without sound. Wil shifted on the floor. Crinkling paper noises from her left fist warned her to be careful in her movements; she glanced at them and remembered.

Returning to her friend, she whispered, “I’m adopted.” Her friend frowned and furrowed her brow in confusion.

How is that possible? she replied.

They shrugged.

Wil extracted the birth certificate and read through its official type once more. A few, lingering last-hopes evaporated from her imagination as she found each line filled out with correct name, date, father, location, and features. “I was a small baby,” she said.

They nodded, seriously.

“Of course you were, Minnie Mouse,” Jakob called, from his slouched recline a few feet away. He moved deeper into his chair and adjusted his feet on the table.

Wil and her friend shared a look. What did he know?

“You were a preemie.”

They blinked. Wil turned away from the window wall. “A what?

“Preemie, dummy.” He rubbed his back inside his slouch. “Means you were early. Rob told me.” Closing his eyes, he tilted his head against the chair back. “Said you were lucky to be born and that he didn’t even know.”

She shared a stupefied look with her friend. Thinking over this new information, she asked, “How did he know?”

“‘Bout you?”

Wil nodded. “Yeah.”

Jakob groaned and tried to crouch into a side-lay within the small seat. From a yawn, he answered, “Not sure.”

A few more seconds told Wil her brother -her stepbrother- was unlikely to tell her more. The conversation had already run longer than any of his had in the last five years. She was about to resume the more satisfying exchange at the dark glass before her when Jakob stirred enough to add, “Ask Rob.”

Her friend tilted her head, considering. Not a bad idea, she told Wil.

They were all interrupted by a click, a creak, and a cheery, “Well, here we are!” Nurse Bea entered the waiting room, and then turned to hold the door for Rob. Just behind him came Cynthia.

Jakob stopped pretending to sleep and Wil waved goodbye to the window. Both rose and walked to their favorite mother.

“They’re releasing you?!” Wil asked. Jakob snickered and put his hands in his coat pockets.

Nurse Bea laughed outright. As expected, hers was the sort that came from deep in her stomach and affected her entire body upon its release. A moment of breathlessness later and she wiped her eyes. “That’s right, darlin’.” She smiled, though she already had been, and wagged a stern finger to Wil. “Now, you jus’ make sure you take care o’ your mom. She’s an angel.”

Wil’s pleasant return smile slipped off her face.

“Thanks, Nurse Bea,” Cynthia enthused; her smile radiating as usual. Supported by Rob and trailed by her anxious children, she walked out the hospital doors.

If Wil had not been so preoccupied, she’d have caught the sparkling tear on the cheek of Nurse Bea.

 

Continued from Sixty-Three.

World’s Worst Poem, Plated

Perdonnez, signora, will you taste my
veritable vermicelli which lost a

Tagliatelle or gnocchi -or was
it tortellini or gemelli?- that cost a

Few dozzina homemade noodles: measured,
mixed, rolled, chopped, shaped, and boiled -hasta

Domani, questa mattina -when nappy
And wriggly rigatoni-head rastas

Dangle candid cannelloni for
colazione (o pranzo o cena o altro) sauced, a

Banchetto of bavett, bucatini,
bigoli, e barbina; which fosta

Amore, our home country joy; precious
mem’ries of mamma o zia o ci, who bossed a

Flourishing, famishing family,
practically-plated with a plethora of pasta.

If that doesn’t bake your noodle, you’ve lost-a.

sarah-boyle-90071-unsplash

Carrot Ranch Literary Society Prompt

The Sunshine Blogger Award Thingie

The Sunshine Blogger Award

Anisha over at Charlie and the Cerebration Factory nominated me (with 10 others) for The Sunshine Blogger Award. If I understand correctly, this makes me unique just like everybody else.

The rules* are stuck down at the end of this post. If you make it there, you can read them all. First, though, I need to answer eleven questions.

  1. Name one thing unique to your country that you’re proud of and why.
    So… I’m American. There are a heck of a lot of people here, and a wide variety of them at that. I am proud of how clean and functional most things are here. Most things.
  2. Would you rather read a Sci-fi or a medieval fantasy?
    The choice of what to read depends on the day, but I enjoy both science fiction and medieval fantasy. I do not enjoy purely romance stories.
  3. What’s the best quote you’ve come up with so far?
    For today: “(O)ur friends and family don’t have to be idiots.” From Depression for Dummies.
  4. Do you have any life mottos that you abide by? If yes, what are they?
    I do not really have a life motto. I do enjoy a good, inspirational quote occasionally and like to post the ones I’m fond of.
  5. If you could bring back one dead person to life, who would it be?
    If I could animate a dead person without negative repercussions, I’d pick Jesus. No, seriously. We need healing.
  6. Name a famous person you’d like to go on a date with.
    IF a famous person would agree to go on a date with me and be cordial about the whole thing, I’d pick Emma Thompson. I’m married so I can’t pick a dude, after all.
    Sybill Trelawney looking mystically mad from the Prisoner of Azkaban
  7. If you could be omnipotent for a day, what would you do? (And no, you can’t wish to be omnipotent forever, all you Chandlers)
    With all power, I would first play with the dynamics of time so that I might accomplish much more than everyone else in the cosmos. I’d create some light and dark, separate waters, create animals, build people that look like me, then take a long sleep.
  8. List some things you want to do before you die.
    Before I leave this world, I’d like to publish a book and get rich and famous. Really, though, my goal of never having to do housework again might be more attainable.
  9. Would you rather be able to read minds or to control time? Why?
    Given the choice between mind-reading and time-control I’d pick playing with time ANY DAY. Do you know the sick things people are thinking about? Just talk to my boys and they’ll tell you.
  10. Does blogging ever feel like a burden to you?
    When it’s about time for a serial story to be due and I haven’t read my reader’s feed for three days and the dishes and laundry still need to be done EVERYTHING feels like a burden.
  11. What’s your favourite kind of weather?
    love LOVE LOVE the ominous, wild, windy period just before a storm. It’s almost as fantastic as standing in the storm as it rages around me.
    nilotpal-kalita-644451-unsplash

I hope you had fun reading my responses, or at least exercised your skimming muscles. In terms of who to torture nominate next, I’ll give you my list of cool blogs to follow:

  1. Cricketmuse: a highly intelligent writer who will get published before I do and will then send me a signed copy out of pity. (Please?)
  2. Sunshine and Robins: a sweet, talented writer who tells about daily struggles and then shares tasty recipes I can’t eat because she lives on the other side of the world.
  3. Fractured Faith Blog: Stephen (and his family, occasionally) share thoughts on writing, life-ing, running, and faithing in a personal and relatable way.
  4. Beauty Beyond Bones: Caralyn hardly needs the attention, but I like to read her posts because she is also an excellent writer who has spot-on opinions about life and recovery.
  5. Little Fears: The Pun King. He’d argue he was working on his punmanship. He also draws little pictures, narrates them, and is extremely good at the whole networking/blogging thing.
  6. Heylookawriterfellow: Mike doesn’t need the attention either, but he’s a funny guy and you’ll like his posts. Just try him.
  7. Myths of the Mirror: Diana is a (darn good!) published author whom I don’t know very well but whom I respect. She always responds to comments and is always the nicest person for it.
  8. Lunch Break Fiction: It is what it is, and they are interesting stories.
  9. Trefology: Short, odd, and possibly to a point.
  10. Read After Burnout: Yet another great writer. You watch: he’ll be published before me, too. Yes you will, Mike.
    You may want to fix your header, though. I can’t read a thing.
  11. Waking up on the Wrong Side of 50: LA has astute and engaging observations of her daily life in New York City. I enjoy reading her perspective.

If you felt left out not being named, don’t. I already named a few last award thingie, plus I need to save some in case it happens again.

If those who were named feel like it, here are my questions:

  1. Why did the chicken cross the road?
  2. What’s black and white and red all over?
  3. Who stole the cookies from the cookie jar?
  4. Where do you see yourself in five years?
  5. What would you say is your greatest weakness, and how have you learned to overcome it?
  6. Why is 6 afraid of 7?
  7. Why am I here?
  8. Why is the sky blue?
  9. Why do bad things happen to good people?
  10. What do you call a boomerang that doesn’t come back?
  11. What is the meaning of life?

I may have plagiarized a bit, but you get the idea.

 

*The rules

  • Thank the blogger(s) who nominated you in the blog post and link back to their blog.
  • Answer the 11 questions the blogger(s) asked you.
  • Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions.
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award Logo in your post and/or on your blog.

Sanctuary in the Sands

The days without wind had been impossible. The days with, however, proved impassible. Hot desert breath pulled and pushed at his shaking, stalking frame in confused bursts of sand. He squinted every few steps for a bearing, yet was always rewarded with another hill.

He stood and breathed heavily through his makeshift scarf. Moving air whipped more gritty dust across his face, obligingly. He blinked, then couldn’t believe his eyes. Surely the wavering green upon the horizon was another imagination-induced reprieve, an apparition of his thirst-starved mind. Blearily, he licked the moist dirt from his lips again and again.

Step by sliding step he mounted the dune before him. Why not, since he had nowhere else to go but a forever dust-sleep? No one would ever find him as the sand piled over his prone form. He would become a sand hill himself, upon which other wanderers might slowly stumble to a dehydrated death.

I am the Sandman, he thought.

Taker of dreams…

Then his worn boot found footing more solid than dune. Then his other. And his ears realized a silence in the days-long howling of wind. He breathed simply air. He squinted, rubbed a gritty hand beneath each brow, fully opened his eyes.

Oasis. The word flitted across his mind as it tried to accept the picturesque glen his dust-crusted eyes could see.

He fell to a kneel and his swollen tongue slurred thanks to Heaven. His filthy hands dipped forward to the ready pool and scooped liquid manna into his parched and gasping mouth. Lovely, wet, clear water ran everywhere in his fumbling haste.

Nearly a full ten minutes of bliss passed before he noticed he was not alone. Large, beautiful eyes stared at him from beneath the rippling surface. Feminine eyes.

She smiled.

 

Written in response to Carrot Ranch’s 24-Hour Free-Write contest.