In The Beginning, There Was Distraction

Phan clutched her halo, rubbing already-tarnished finish. And sighed. If only she hadn’t been so diverted this morning, with the clouds. Then there’d been flowers. Then path swirls -which led right to the end of the lengthy queue…

“Next!” the angel matriarch called.

Phan floated forward. At a scowl, she hastily replaced her halo and hoped it aligned itself. It didn’t.

“Late again, Phanuelle.”

*Gulp*

“There’s only one assignment left; a newer one.”

Phan peered beyond the matriarch at the mostly harmless-looking blue and green sphere to which she must go. Oh, well. Perhaps it would have flowers, too.

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Created for Carrot Ranch‘s writing prompt.

April 11, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story using the phrase “beggars can’t be choosers.” You can play with the words, alter them or interpret them without using the phrase. Give it any slant you want — show what it means or add to its  meaning. Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by April 16, 2019. Use the comment section below to share, read and be social. You may leave a link, pingback or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form.  Rules & Guidelines.

 

Photo Credit:
Image by PIRO4D from Pixabay

Olympic Achievement

Panting, moving; legs dance; running? Slow he moves, yet forward goes.

Yelling, waving; crowds smile; cheering! Quick their hands and banners flow.

Road goes under, step by stepping; ev’ning sunshine asphalt raised.

Signs flash by, their message flapping; glinting sun and wind-blown praise.

Turn now, hero, enter warmly; enter ‘neath the crowds and flares.

Swift and surely, climb the mountain; climb your metal, switchback stairs.

Raise your head now, torch-lit runner

Lift your eyes from up and under;

Hear now, see now: raised-face, raised sight

Bring your arm: the dimmer torch light–

Seek the peak and flame -IGNITE!

Run and fired up for Carrot Ranch‘s prompt.

April 4, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about fire. It can be a flame that burns or a light that inspires. Follow the flames and go where the prompt leads!

Respond by April 9, 2019. Use the comment section below to share, read and be social. You may leave a link, pingback or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form.  Rules & Guidelines.

Smells Like Reanimated Spirits

You’re at a burial, dressed in shoes you didn’t have time to polish or lace up correctly. It’s a grey sort of day, overcast with rain coming soon. They’re lowering the casket into the ground and all you can do is stare at the stubborn knot in your shoelaces.

Someone lights up a cigarette after the service is over and you move away to avoid the smoke. Your heels slip into the soft ground and you get mud on the hemline of your clothes. You stop to catch your breath after a long day and close your eyes. You smell rain in the air.

There’s a piano you can hear in the nearby chapel playing a soft tune. You think they’re playing “Amazing Grace” and then it changes. A sudden thought strikes you: “I must get back into the car before the last note. Once the last note plays, it’ll start raining.”

You’re heading back to the car when you see a man standing at the fence. He’s dressed in overhauls and a flannel shirt, looking directly at you. You glance away but are drawn back by the man’s intense stare. He’s holding something in his hand. A letter? A book? You can’t tell. You feel you must find out, before the last piano note…

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Dodging headstones and mushy half-buried plots alike, you walk to the fence. And the man. Conveniently, they are both in the same direction. As you walk, you wonder at the prevalence of recently-turned earth. Just how many people have died lately?

The eerie piano playing from the chapel plays background beat to your even tread. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” will do that to a person, even if it’s a piano cover version and therefore lacks that awesome bass guitar.

Your attention draws back to the overall man who is fascinated with staring. Some people clearly need a hobby, especially since there are a lot more interesting things to stare at than a muddy-hemmed, sneaker-clad burial-crasher like you. You get closer and closer, noting his lack of blinking; his lack of attention on a bird that poops on his shoulder or on a passing dog that relieves itself on his trouser leg.

Just before you call out to him, his image blips and reloads. He is a clean, staring man again, proferring a flat object that is meant to look like a book. Thunder rumbles nearby, and he finally glances to the grey and heavy clouds. His gaze returns to you, who have stopped just before the projection of him.

“244224,” he says, monotone. “42,” he adds. Then, “2442.” He beeps.

You roll your humanoid eyes, reminded of how your familial assigners could not be happy with a short sequence like all the others. “Yes?”

“Precipitation imminent. Nirvana ending. Accept reanimation.” *Beep*

Your eyebrows raise. “Reanimation??”

“Affirmative.” He pauses, then remembers to *Beep!*

You look back and around at all the mounds of dirt, and swallow. It’s not easy considering the difficulties the body emulators had in transferring your normal shape to a humanoid form, but you manage. The sky growls again. A spot of earth near you seems to as well, but perhaps it’s the simulated imagination you’re equipped with.

Whipping back around to the hologram, you place your right forearm directly over the outstretched object in its hand image. The flat object glares a red light of warning. You realign. Still red. The growling from below ground is definitely not just your imagination now and you grit your teeth in frustration.

“Please align to shape,” the ‘man’ intones.

You try again and get the angry light again.

“Please align to shape,” he repeats.

Just as a very visible hand claws through the mud to your side and just as the final lingering notes of the piano are played, the tablet magically accepts your forearm’s outline and turns blue. “Code accepted.”

Your humanoid form releases a sigh of relief just before dematerializing. Your normal self, meanwhile, has a final, comforting thought. I am so glad that finally activated. Earth’s a real downer during a zombie apocalypse.

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From the story prompt beginning shared by the highly-imaginative, amazing, wonderful, and fantastic Peregrine Arc.

You can play, too! The submission window closes on April 12.

 

Photo Credits:
Daniel Jensen
Wendy Scofield

Glad Tidings of Nymble

Nymble didn’t stand so much as gently flit above the waving grass, the first of the season’s signs of change. Leaning back as much as her grass and sunlight mote companions; she drank the deep, fresh air.

“Spring,” she whispered. She breathed.

A smile tickled her dimples. It pushed at her mouth-corners. As she looked out and over the gathered folk and fae, the smile spread to every feature of her pointed face. She grinned and opened her arms to hold the warm sun from toe to wing tip.

Atop the eminent rise, she addressed the expectant crowd. “SPRING!”

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Announced for Carrot Ranch‘s writing prompt.

March 26, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that uses the word eminence. It’s a rich word full of different meanings. Explore how it sounds or how you might play with it. Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by April 2, 2019. Use the comment section below to share, read and be social. You may leave a link, pingback or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form.  Rules & Guidelines.

 

Photo Credit:
Image by jhx13 from Pixabay

Farmer Henry

Liza’s dad waited ‘nside the barn; toe tappin’, scowl deepenin’. Where was that girl? He’d sent ‘er ten minutes ago ‘n hadn’t seen hide nor hair since.

“Uhmmmooobreuhhh,” lowed Maybelle.

He patted the cow. “I know, girl. I know.”

Right as ‘e settled on fetchin’ ‘is daughter, a glimpse a somethin’ yeller showed in the winder. Shore ‘nough, ’twas Liza. She weren’t movin’ fast, which perplexed the farmer.

“Liza!” he holler’d. “Whatcha dallyin’ fer?”

Sniffin’ and silent, she showed ‘im what she’d bin sent after.

“Why,” her father ‘sclaimed, “There’s a hole in the bucket, dear Liza. A hole!”

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Fetched and carried for Carrot Ranch’s writing prompt.

March 21, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that features a bucket of water. What is the condition of the water and what is the bucket for? Drop deep into the well and draw from where the prompt leads!

Respond by March 26, 2019. Use the comment section below to share, read and be social. You may leave a link, pingback or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form.  Rules & Guidelines.

Silent but Tardy

Stan heard his door’s assailant before the knocking; a shush-shush against the cement leading to his flat. He rose; walked; opened; stared. There, upon his stoop, was Death himself.

“Er,” Stan managed. What does one say to Death?

In what should have been an anticipated reaction, Stan’s guest only stared.

Stan scuffed a foot against his carpet. He bit his lip. Swung his arms.

Death still stared.

“So….” Stan tried. “May I help you?”

A nod. Silence.

Stan hadn’t thought Death would be so awkward. *Ahem* “How so?”

Impossible as it seemed; Stan knew, somehow, that his somber companion frowned in thought. Death reached a skeletal hand from draping cloak-sleeve to internal robe and withdrew a scrap of parchment. Hand and paper extended toward Stan.

Stan received the paper; declined the hand. Stan Dubrough, 17:00, he read. His palms felt chill and his body followed right after. Both jumped at Death’s bony finger, tapping to point at the name. His name: Stan Dubrough.

“That’s-” Stan squeaked. “That’s me.”

His guest’s other hand appeared from near the door-post. It gripped an awful, glinting scythe.

“The time’s not right, though,” Stan said, as though observing the weather.

The scythe paused. Stan sensed confusion. He also, inexplicably, recalled his mother’s exasperated reprimand, “Always a stickler for accuracy, aren’t you, Stan?”

Death stared. Asking.

“It says ’17:00,’ right?”

A slow nod.

“And, that’s 5 p.m.; yes?”

Nod.

“Well,” Stan concluded in a cheery tone, “It’s now going on 6.” He chuckled a bit till he recalled who his visitor was, and then wisely swallowed. “Hm; yes. Thing is: you’re a bit late.”

If a dark-cloaked being without voice could look gobsmacked, Death did. Without a word, he extended his non-scythe hand. Stan returned the paper and watched it disappear within the cloak folds. Then, just as silently, Death and his scythe turned and left.

Stan listened to the shush-shush of departure turn the corner before shutting his door. Returning to his couch seat, another of his mother’s oft-spoken sayings came to mind: “Stan, you’re so bent on being right you’d tell Death himself if he were late.”

“Well, mum,” he said, looking to the urn atop his mantel, “Looks like you were right after all.”

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Submitted, at the last, for The 2019 Bloggers Bash Competition.

 

Photo Credit:
Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

Crescent Illusions

“Hey! Wait up!” Pal gasped out the request, to no avail. The strange boy turned the edge beyond his view, taking all sight and sound of his movement with his retreating form. Pal leaned over his knees in crouched, deep-breathing pain from the chase. His heavy gasps echoed inside his helmet.

He’d need to keep going, he knew. He only had a few tics until -too late. Before his ground-pointed eyes, everything shifted and morphed. If his headgear were not equipped with anti-vertigo software, Pal would have retched at the twisting, swarming, mixing colors and land forms. He had no idea how the boy he pursued, apparently unencumbered by gear, could continue on through these conditions. How the boy could move so quickly. How the boy even existed, really.

Pal looked up from the sky beneath his feet, noted the re-orientation of his surroundings, and promptly crashed to the surface above him. “Eurgh,” he groaned, feeling the sluggishness and some of the bruising while his suit’s systems kicked in. He rose as it mended; scouted around.

Before this last shift he had been skidding around contoured shapes that rose from sand-like material. The ambient light had been annoyingly bright, yet also a pleasant shade of pink. Now, Pal noted, he seemed to be in a city. This city was unlike any he’d been in before, but not unlike images he’d studied at elementary training. “These are buildings,” his memory heard an artificial instructor note. “Homo sapiens sapiens inhabited and busied itself within these structures.”

Keeping his feet moving forward, Pal tilted his head back. The buildings reached beyond his sight. What a miserable, backwards way to exist. He supposed all species must start somewhere, but could never understand why his ancestors’ timeline progressed from perfection to disaster. Why had his progenitors constantly sought what was worse?

He heard a sound and snapped to attention. A face with large, crescent eyes peered at him from around a building just ahead. The boy.

Pal sprinted without thought toward his quarry. The boy rushed from hiding and pulled ahead, as he had since Pal first materialized and saw him. Both ran down the middle space between the tall, tall structures to either side. The ground felt soft, appeared white. Pal could see his footfalls leaving imprints in the material, though the boy’s odd tread did not. The dark shapes to either side seemed to melt away from them as they passed; no, they were melting away. Pal glanced right and left as he ran, witnessing the anomaly.

He wondered, yet again, what this destination really was. Clearly, it was not merely a physical location. No location they’d researched had behaved as this place did; morphing, moving, and melting like a living optical illusion.

Pal knew he was nearly at the end of his exploratory tic and would dissolve back to Central soon. He set his jaw, determined to gather more information before that happened. Since the ever-changing location proved intangible for collection purposes, Pal sought to catch the one constant he had encountered: the boy.

His suit worked overtime to compensate for energy and nitrogen loss. At his current rate, he would exhaust both and need to rest as he had before. And before that. And, before that. Surely, this time, he could draw near enough to catch the boy. Surely, he could get answers to return with.

The atmosphere darkened. A sound similar to a loud clap came from ahead, from the boy. To Pal’s surprise, the sky in front of them both molded into a dark sphere upon the dark of the air. Totally black at first; an outline of winking light grew to shine from the base and sides of the sphere.

As they drew nearer, Pal felt himself drawn to the new anomaly. Literally. The sensation felt like the projection arm of a spacecraft. He fought a natural panic, but explorer training calmed his initial reactions. “Always act decisively within your means,” another memory of an artificial instructor intoned. Pal ran on.

His wrist beeped a warning: a mere moment till dissolvement.

He strove to move more quickly but his speed was no longer his own. The boy and he were being pulled inexorably toward the eclipsed horizon. The buildings melted faster. Pal’s treads in the groundstuff deepened and blurred. His visuals clouded somewhat at the edges as he tried to keep the boy in sight.

Another beep sounded, then another. It was time.

Just as Pal’s body began to piece to data for dissolving, he saw the most unusual illusion of them all: an inverted flip of boy, buildings, sphere, and sky. Where once he knew the dark outlines of running youth and landscape; Pal saw the whitespace image of a gaping, grinning face. A face that swallowed the boy. A face that looked at him.

 


Written in response to D. Wallace Peach‘s extremely popular prompt. She just might get all 300 daily responses posted before she decides that April would be a good time for a vacation…

I’d Like to Mouse Wheel a Motion

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“Now, now, Mrs. Snigglewhiff; that’s hardly mouseylike. Would you please consider using the shavings over-

“MISTER Cheesebiter, if you wouldn’t mind-

“I say; what are you doing at that drink station? Refreshments are for after our-

“What is it, now, Whiskershins? …The Society for Capybara Welfare wishes to be heard? They’ll just have to submit their request in shavings like the rest of us!-

“My word! Will the ringtailed children kindly refrain from using the wheel till after our meeting has adjourned?-”

*SQUEAKHEM*

“I now call to order The Semi-Regular Meeting of Tame Rodentia. First item of business: queuing.”

 

Moused over for Carrot Ranch‘s writing prompt:

March 7, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a mouse. It can be real, imagined, electronic or whiskered. Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by March 12, 2019. Use the comment section below to share, read and be social. You may leave a link, pingback or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form.  Rules & Guidelines.

 

Photo Credit:
Eligo Design

A Ghost of a Pinned Chance

For this week’s prompt, we’re at a restaurant for lunch. One of those local businesses, with an antique fireplace in your favorite room to eat in. The restaurant, you see, is inside a very old house, one with a murky, somewhat spooky, history. The restaurant is even part of the village’s ghost tour at Halloween time every year. But that’s all nonsense, right?….. (Read the rest of the opening prompt here.)

You eye the door. It’s solid, naturally, being a door and all. Still, if Lara Croft can fist-punch a granite statute, this skeleton-keyed obstruction shouldn’t stand much chance against a vegan-powered, Umbrella Academy-watching powerhouse like you.

Unfortunately, an attempted shift of your center of gravity reminds you that about three feet of petticoats and lace obstruct any sudden movement. If not for the witch-woman who first introduced you to The Door, you would have fallen in a puffy white heap. “Steady, Beatrice,” she admonishes. Then, some expression or resolve of your eyebrows catches her attention. “I wouldn’t try fainting again, Miss Pondewaste. Your father supplied me with smelling-salts.”

With a sniff, your matron of imprisonment opens the door. She hustles you out, arm firmly round your brocaded waist. “Not that he would consider such an event occurring that I would need smelling salts…” the stern woman mumbles as you attempt to walk down a narrow hall.

You feel too distracted to pay her much attention. The walls, formerly painted and hung with cheap printer paper pictures of vintage times, are now wallpapered. Sad, serious paintings hang in proper frames at measured spaces along the papering. A spindly-legged end table supports a flickering oil lantern atop an embroidered cloth. Its light plays across the delicate white stitchings of your dress.

Your dress! You stop mid-shush to admire the extensive needlework and lacework arms. How many slave laborers had to give their lives to produce this thing? “Now, Miss Beatrice,” Mean Lady hisses. Your tailing ladies-in-waiting snicker unprofessionally behind you, stopping at a quick glance from your captor.

Against any will you might have had, she drags you to the end of the hall. What is going on? What can I do? you wonder. Dimlit walls and antique furnishings distract and confuse you. Your tormentor walks you forward relentlessly, grunting with the effort and chastening you that, “It’s just the entry, for Pity’s sake!”

As a sunlight-outlined door flanked by sentry windows draws imminently close, you realize that something sharp is within your hand. You’ve been caressing it as you walked, oblivious to the action.

Your tread slows, even against the push of Mean Lady. You draw your hand before your face and squint to focus on the object in question. It’s the sewing pin, the one you picked up from a restaurant floor a few centuries hence.

“What have you got, Beatrice?”

As your fingers slip down the sides of the pin and you hold it aloft in the light, her eyes widen. Her eyebrows raise. “Where did you get that? Just give it here; I’ll -” her clawlike hand reaches to take it but instinct tells you to keep it away from her. You move it just as she snatches.

“Beatri- Miss Pondewaste! Hand it over this instance!” She makes another grab. Very unladlylike.

You turn your body to help shield against her reachings and make a split-second decision. With the aid of the other hand, you snap the pin in half. *Snit*

The Mean Lady’s gasp is the last thing you hear before blacking out.

The next thing you hear, of course, is that too-good-looking server’s voice, “Mushroom risotto, just as you ordered.” A plate clinks to the table in front of you and its steaming contents are the first, blessed thing you see. After that is the gorgeous server’s face. Nothing like the present.

“Oh, hey,” he says suddenly. “Did you drop something?” He stoops to the floor and retrieves two broken halves of a sewing pin.

“No!” you nearly yell. Seeing his confusion and surprise, you repeat it more calmly. “No, thank you.” You take up your napkin and lay it on your lap. “Go ahead and just throw it away.”

He shrugs and walks away, leaving you to your risotto. It’s a good thing Mean Lady isn’t there to witness your eating it, because you’re too hungry to mind many manners.

In response to Peregrine Arc‘s writing prompt. What an imagination!

Right Quite Not Something’s

.guru techno a

,you find ,else Or

.computer laptop your upon

files data your save to look Please

.intruders face to look please

;that only than more far Recall

.tears and scolds my recall

,door your at beckon strangers and

,clear not road’s the whene’er

:well me hear please ,child lov’ly My

.enlarge view your help to

show and guide and aid to seek I

;charge listen’ing my ,you to

knell warning a cry to seek I

,so And .pounce to ready

-lurks failure a where or when

know never may you ,For

;one dearest my life your Backup◀◀

 

.Ranch Carrot for versed and ,rhymed ,mirrored ,Dreamed

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