Category Archives: Cheaters

Chess Eyes; A Story in Tanka: #FridayFictioneers

Standard

chess-eyes

PHOTO PROMPT © Jeff Arnold

CHESS EYES

Her eyes glisten, flames
A power move adjusts up
Ready. No surprise.
First obstacle falls; pawn dusted.
Satisfaction is attained.

Wily in her style
Overlooked in many ways.
Strength, a stoic mien,
A hidden intelligence,
Engaged on her battlefield.

A once trusted love
Deviates from his opening move
Boundaries broken,
Binds and checks, to no avail
An adjournment; none favored.

Sacrifices made
Counter-attacks defended
She has advantage
Moving freely, tactics sound,
Nothing halts her; open ground.

Move! Senses challenged. Move!
Blitzes. Binds. Checks. Felled opponents sway.
At last: objective.
“J’adoube,” says she, smile placed,
Reine takes Roi. Sweep the board.

****************************************************************

The Tanka poem is very similar to haiku but Tanka poems have more syllables and it uses simile, metaphor and personification. There are five lines in a Tanka poem. Tanka poems are written about nature, seasons, love, sadness and other strong emotions.

The sylabble scheme is:   5-7-5-7-7

Author’s Note:

It’s #Friday Fictioneers prompt time, as always created and hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields on her blog, Addicted To Purple.

The rules are simple if you’d like to do this:

    1. Use the photo on Addicted to Purple as your prompt (goes up on Wednesday).
    2. Write a 100 word story, complete with beginning, middle, and end.
    3. Make every word count.
    4. It is proper etiquette to give the contributor of the photo credit.
  1. Add the InLinkz button (below) so your readers can find the dozens of other bloggers who have taken up this challenge.

Advertisements

Finish The Story-After The Long, Hard Winter-Part Six

Standard

Winter and spring landscape with blue sky.

Finish The Story

After The Long, Hard Winter

Part Six

This is a Finish The Story prompt from Teresa (aka, The Haunted Wordsmith). Teresa started the story. Then she passed it to Michael, who tagged Di, who tagged Fandango,
who walked it over to Iain, who graciously placed it in my hands.

So let’s start at the beginning (my entry follows):

Teresa wrote:

Winter had been hard. Harder than anyone in Goosedown had expected. It was six weeks into spring and Emily never felt better. She was finally able to get out into her garden. The spring flowers had fully said hello and color was everywhere, but the one thing she was most happy about was the Goosedown Spring Festival that was taking place today.

With one last check in the mirror, she adjusted her bright pink hat and set out for the park. While walking there she met up with …

Michael wrote:

Mary from the Dairy trudging along carrying two pails of fresh milk. The milk was for Miss Turnout’s café and scone emporium.

It was clear Mary was not happy, as everyone in Goosedown knew of the animosity between the two women. Mary had been in love with the handsome Sir Michael, and it was Miss Turnout who spread vile and vicious rumors about Mary such that Sir Michael turned his back on Mary and went off and married the less than gorgeous Phillipa the Needle maiden.

Mary had long held a grudge against Miss Turnout and every now and then she would clear her throat and deposit the said clearance into one of the buckets. Emily, being the sweet and innocent young lady she was and at that moment filled with the expectation of the coming spring, smiled serenely at Mary as she went by.

“There’d be nothing to smile about young Emily,” said the sour Mary as she passed and deposited another into the left bucket, “the rotten old cow destroyed my life, I’m gonna make her rue the day she spread rumors about me, no matter how true they might be. Sorry I should not have said that.”

Emily had no answer to Mary’s statement and was not a girl given easily to gossip so she …

Di wrote:

nodded and continued to smile sweetly as she watched Mary trudge away.

With every step, Mary moaned and bitched about Miss Turnout under her breath. Her deposits in the milk seemed to do little to improve her mood, and now she had a nagging toothache.

Maybe a filling had fallen out and was rattling around in the bottom of the bucket. Better still, maybe the old trout would swallow it and choke. That made her laugh, which in turn made her cough and there followed another satisfying splash in the bucket.

More bitching and moaning in rhythm to her footfalls, gradually fading into the distance and out of Emily’s earshot.

Emily was enjoying her walk to the park, taking in the riot of color on the way, the lovely sunshine, and the anticipation of the Spring Festival, especially as it meant passing through …

Fandango wrote:

62a502f2-092a-40e1-8ee2-011ed2b6a49a

… the field red with poppies. Every time Emily walked through the beautiful poppy field, she would feel a strange sense of euphoria. Everything she was feeling became more intense, the colors of spring brighter, and her mood even happier. She put Mary and her feud with Miss Turnout out of her mind and concentrated on what she would do when she got to the festival grounds.

But Emily was feeling herself growing very, very tired. She was struggling to keep walking through the lovely field of red flowers, which seemed to be glowing and vibrating. Suddenly Emily had to stop. She yawned, stretched out her arms, and slowly fell to her knees. “Why am I so tired?” she wondered. “I have to lie down,” she said aloud.

It was already dark when Emily finally woke up. Had she missed the Spring Festival that she was so looking forward to? She wondered what had happened to her. But then she saw …

Iain wrote:

…Mary standing over her. Her face a ghastly white colour. As Emily’s eyes focused she saw that the white was liquid, it was milk, dripping off Mary’s face, reflected in the pale moonlight. There was something else too. Not just white. There were streaks of red too. Red like the blood red of the poppies that surrounded them. Like a mask of Raspberry Ripple ice-cream. She was naked, the liquid mixture dripping down over her pale skin. She held the two metal buckets Emily had seen earlier in the day, but they were battered and bent and covered in smears of red.

‘Mary, are you okay? Is that blood?’

Mary sneered, ‘It is, Emily. Not mine though.’ Her voice was deranged, like a cackle. ‘Bit of a dramatic end to the Spring Festival. Miss Turnout accused me of selling her tainted produce. Said my milk was lumpy and had gone off. Said it had ruined her baking and left a horrible aftertaste. Well, I couldn’t stand for that.’

Emily drew back as the ghastly apparition gave a loud shriek. ‘What have you done, Mary?’

‘She had it coming, that harridan whore.’

‘Mary, you’re not yourself!’ exclaimed Emily.

‘On the contrary, precious innocent Emily, I’ve never been more myself!’

With that, she ran off through the fields. Emily got to her feet as the other villagers from Goosedown appeared. Sir Michael led the way with a shotgun in hand. ‘Where did she go, Emily?’

Emily pointed to the path of crushed poppies left by the madwoman. The crowd charged after her. Emily decided to walk back to Goosedown, still puzzled that she had fallen asleep all day (had she been drugged?) and shaken by what she had seen.

When she got there, she found…

I continue:

Miss Turnout’s Emporium in ruins. The windows were shattered. Smoke was billowing out of the charred doorway and undulating out into the night skies. A crowd of people stood and stared. Crying sobs came from the grouping. Someone wailed.

Because of the bright light echoing off of the full moon, Emily saw something draped on the ground. There was a pool of liquid that glistened over the material, black in the moonlit night. Emily crept closer. Her mind was swirling with everything that she had encountered along the way. She was still a bit fuzzy, and confused, from her passing out in the field.

She took a tentative step towards the Emporium. Then another. Emily forced herself to continue forward, frightened by what she would find. Until a wet hand landed on her shoulder.

Emily screamed, turned, and saw the hand was Miss Turnout’s.

She dropped her hand instantly. “I’m sorry, love. Didn’t mean to scare the wits out of you.”

Emily took all of Miss Turnout in: her hair was wild and free of her usual cap; her festival clothing was in tatters; there were scrapes, bruises, and black drippings flowing from cuts on her face, arms, and hands.  Emily froze.

“You..you’re bleeding.” Emily removed her kerchief and started to dab at Miss Turnout’s face. There was a severe gash across her forehead and Emily tried to staunch the ichor from the wound with her headwrap.

“Thank you, love. Thank you.” Miss Turnout paused, staring beyond Emily, focussing on her shop, and the draped figure on the ground. She had to shake her head to take her out of her self-made trance. The shake turned into a full-bodied shiver and quake, her legs giving out as she dropped to the ground. Emily helped her to sit up once MIss Turnout demanded she did.

“It was Mary who did this. That crazy sow. She came in my Emporium, put down her damned buckets, and started yelling and coming at me. I had to defend myself. Chairs went flying, one going through the window, and she got as good as she gave. We both went flying into the display cases. I got my cuts and scrapes from that, as well as her bloody fingernails. Then, Philipa came in. Mary was a banshee, flailing around, attacking the two of us.

I’m not sure how the fire started- we were too close to the cooking kettle, I know that. And then Mary…


Okay. Now it’s my turn to tag someone, and the blogger I’ve picked is a wonderful weaver of words, Natale, over at The Midnight Ember.

Update: Unfortunately, Natalie is unable to accept this challenge at the present. Life happens. So…

Please welcome Holly and her blog A Fresh Perspective. She will take on the next section. Thank you, Holly.

Here are the rules:

  1. Copy the story as it appears when you receive it (and the rules please).
  2. Add to the story in whichever style and length you choose.
  3. Tag only 1 person to continue the story.
  4. Have fun!

 

The Once and Future Gigolo: Chapit Youn

Standard

Dh7DI4RUwAApwS_.jpg large

@Richard_Kadrey Prompt

The Once and Future Gigolo

Chapit  Youn

Click. Taptaptaptap taptaptap. Taptaptaptap taptaptapp µëæΩ∩.

Ding

“Hey, hi. How…”

Qo’ reH jIHvaD contact jatlhqa’ pagh pIHoH jIH!

DingDing

“OK. Be that way.”

Click. Taptaptaptap taptaptap. Taptaptaptap taptaptapp øǧBH99.

Ding

“Hey, hi. It’s…”

Great! Now I am a Master of Alien Language!Wow, I'm writing in Alien Language !Graduate School in Alien Language here I come !Wow, I'm writing in Alien Language !Wow, I'm writing in Alien Language !Alien Language will be great for my resume !Yes ! Now I can get a job because I know Alien Language ! Great! Now I am a Master of Alien Language!Wow, I'm writing in Alien Language !I'm doing my homework in Alien Language !Great! Now I am a Master of Alien Language!Wow, I'm writing in Alien Language !I'm doing my homework in Alien Language !I currently hold a Degree in Alien LanguageGreat! Now I am a Master of Alien Language!Graduate School in Alien Language here I come !I currently hold a Degree in Alien LanguageAlien Language will be great for my resume !I currently hold a Degree in Alien LanguageGraduate School in Alien Language here I come !

Graduate School in Alien Language here I come !Graduate School in Alien Language here I come !Great! Now I am a Master of Alien Language!Graduate School in Alien Language here I come !Great! Now I am a Master of Alien Language!Alien Language will be great for my resume !Graduate School in Alien Language here I come !Alien Language will be great for my resume !I currently hold a Degree in Alien LanguageWow, I'm writing in Alien Language !Yes ! Now I can get a job because I know Alien Language ! Great! Now I am a Master of Alien Language!Alien Language will be great for my resume !Yes ! Now I can get a job because I know Alien Language ! Alien Language will be great for my resume !Yes ! Now I can get a job because I know Alien Language ! Graduate School in Alien Language here I come !Graduate School in Alien Language here I come !Yes ! Now I can get a job because I know Alien Language !

Wow, I'm writing in Alien Language !I'm doing my homework in Alien Language !Graduate School in Alien Language here I come !I'm doing my homework in Alien Language !Wow, I'm writing in Alien Language !I currently hold a Degree in Alien LanguageYes ! Now I can get a job because I know Alien Language ! Graduate School in Alien Language here I come !

DingDing

“Damn.”

Click. Taptaptaptap taptaptap. Taptaptaptap taptaptapp 8675309.

“Hey…”

37194421_10160600408095076_7018920346367557632_n

DingDing

“Huh? Damn Damn Damn!”

Click. Taptaptaptap taptaptap. Taptaptaptap taptaptapp MÓOÞNŒG±O.

Ding

“Hey, hi. It’s me. How…”

 

“Do not EVER contact me again, or I will kill you.”

“But…but, Dale…I…”

“Don’t you “but Dale” me, Jackson. Flash and I have…had…have an open relationship, but you took it way too far, like you always do.”

“But…but…”

“Yeah, first emptying his credit account and then telling Flash about our weekend at Ganymede’s Pleasure Dome-and in such detail-dumb move. Really dumb.”

“Dale, please…”

“NO! Enough. I don’t care how drunk you were, or hopped up, or whatever. I’ve had enough of ‘Supernova’ Jackson. And…I’m not the only one. You can’t diddle around the dome and not hear what’s going down. Everyone knows. Grok that?”

“Oh.”

“Yes. ‘Oh.’ Done. I’m done!”

DingDingAPOZZ↓¥MÜ

The last image he had of Dale signing off was her hand slamming down on her own panel. Jackson’s screen blanked out, followed immediately by a harsh electrical rip that flashed across the screen, frying the control panel.

“Damn,” he said, his chin hitting his chest as his eyelids closed, gritted shut.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Jackson was on his back, sometimes a favorite position but not this time. He had spent the last cycle replacing his control panel and was on the finishing touches. One touch almost finished him.

“哎他妈的!!!”

Self-soothing his index finger in his mouth, Jackson pulled himself out from under the console. He levered himself into his chair and pressed the mauve button.

Nothing happened.

Pressing it again had the same effect. And again. Banging the panel with both fists and kicking it from his sitting position yielding the same results. Deflated, he laid his head down, feeling the coolness of the Ti-Strength plas pressing against his forehead.

The control panel clicked on.

“OK D.R. Let’s take this home.”

“Of course, Supernova. Sit back and relax, and leave the interplanetary thrust to me.”

“Thanks, D.R.”

Jackson settled back, letting the chair’s field envelop him while his ship cycled through it’s various G’s to take him where’s he’s gone before in one piece. It gave him time to think of what has been going on lately. Dale’s dust off hurt the most. They’d been off and on for a long time, suiting both their needs as needs arose. The others…yeah, the others. He shrugged.

But Dale…

He subvocalized to D.R. to pump him with Traz to get him into a REM sleep. Best way to let the light years slip by. His mind fought the drug at first, racing through the faces of so many of his…of his..of…og hoz…

Supernova Jackson doesn’t snore.

At least, no one has ever accused him of that. Other things, but not snoring.

****************************************

Author’s Note:

I get a kick out of prompts. Right now, creatively, I need these jumping off points. That’s what you’re seeing here on Tale Spinning. I have a few projects of my own I’m procrastinating with that I hope I’ll finish and try to do something with them. We’ll see.

The above pic is one of them, created by Author Richard Kadrey. He has been posting, on Twitter, reworked/photoshopped covers of old pulp(ish) novels, changing them to show off his brand of humor. I just thought it’d be fun to write a few things from Mr. Kadrey’s posting: so, yes, this is my writing, not Mr. Kadrey’s.

BTW: The first three answers Jackson got to his commcalls are actual SciFi languages. There’s no prize, except for the privilege of being right;  I’d love to see if anyone can get all three. Go for it.

Richard Kadrey is a writer, photographer, comic book writer, and an all-around interesting guy. His fiction straddles the Urban Fantasy, Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Cyberpunk worlds, and he’s pretty darn good with it all. I fell in love with his writing starting with his first Sandman Slim novels. Gritty, sometimes violent, often full of whimsey, worth reading. He’s not just another pretty face.

You can check out more fun covers by following him on Twitter @Richard_Kadrey.

To get into his body of work, visit him at his website: Richard Kadrey

One More Thing: #FridayFictioneers

Standard
caged-liz
PHOTO PROMPT © Liz Young

One More Thing

My ex walked out.

She cheated on me. Twice!

Got fired from a job I hated.

Car repossessed.

Bought a cheapo replacement.

Crashed it. DUI.

New job: nervous breakdown.

Got fired.

Fell off a curb; broke my leg.

Got addicted to Fentanyl.

Tried a twelve step. Fell off at #3.

Had a cat. It ran off, after scratching me all over.

Caused an infection.

Bandaged from head to toe. Sent home.

“Friend” thought it’d be funny to lock me in a cage for Halloween.

Scared the kids. Police arrested us both.

~
~
~

I really like you. Care for a second date?

************************************
Author’s Note:

It’s #Friday Fictioneers prompt time, as always created and hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields on her blog, Addicted To Purple.

The rules are simple if you’d like to do this:

    1. Use the photo on Addicted to Purple as your prompt (goes up on Wednesday).
    2. Write a 100 word story, complete with beginning, middle, and end.
    3. Make every word count.
    4. It is proper etiquette to give the contributor of the photo credit.
  1. Add the InLinkz button (below) so your readers can find the dozens of other bloggers who have taken up this challenge.

A Dominie Dismissed (#FF Prompt)

Standard

18b6c68c353a96774be7e6e6c85fe13e--school-items-school-days

Sitting atop of the drystone wall, one that followed the rise of the uplands, gave the Dominie a perfect view. The morning air had been clear but crisp, making the Mackintosh a necessity. The land beyond was wild and open, the sparseness of humanity and its dwellings is what drew him in, accepting the job without a second’s thought.

Until he had been dismissed.

Unfairly, in his mind.  The village was small, unto itself, but the one-room schoolhouse was full of children. All the neighboring small villages and farms, nestled in their own little valleys, didn’t have enough to justify separate schools with a separate teacher, each demanding their own pay. They pulled their resources and congregated their children in the small building. It had lasted many generations.

After he signed the contract and arrived, he placed his one bag in the back of the building that would serve as his bedroom. Meals would be provided on a rotating basis, provided by parents of the children who would be attending. He never got a satisfactory answer why the old schoolmaster left and the position opened up. They were, one and all, a closed mouth bunch, and only at the monthly council meetings was there any real discussion about the state of things.

He had some issues and resolved to bring them up at the next meeting. Walking the land near the school, one of the things that bothered him was the rushing stream that wended very close to the building itself. Clumps of trees created, as he saw it, hiding places; he knew children well enough.

So, on the second month of his stay, he brought up the problems with the stream. During their lunch breaks, the children scurried off to home for meals. Upon returning, though, many came back with their trousers or hems of their skirts, and shoes, sodden through and through. The whispers and laughter of the students spoke of how this one or that “slipped” into the stream. Some few returned with their entirety drenched.

He was afraid that, with the speed of the water, the slippery rocks, the tomfoolery of some of the students, that it was only a matter of time until someone got seriously hurt. He suggested fencing in the school, high enough so the students couldn’t climb over. This was outright laughed at and dismissed; the opinion being it would mar the landscape. He then added: “Well, what about fencing around the perimeter of the stream?  It could be made to blend in with the flora of the land.”

Explaining what flora was did nothing to dissuade the council. The most galling comment made sent his temper ablaze: “We’ve always had it this way, without any incident. There’s no reason to change what has always been and worked.” He held his tongue to this, but the fire that bloomed on his cheeks told them all what he thought.

Weeks passed, and word had gotten to the children what their headmaster had asked for. Things escalated from there, more and more students came in sopping wet. On top of that, clothing was starting to get damaged, torn and ragged. The parents were starting to complain, and, of course, the blame was being placed on their Dominie.

The gossiping got brutal. Meals were becoming hard to come by, if at all. He had stored away some food, but nothing that would keep him fully fed and healthy. The looks he got when he walked the village or entered the pub, got to be too much for him. He spent more and more time in his room at the schoolhouse.

This would have gone on for a long time if the death had not happened.

One of the students, William, did not return from lunch. All the others were very quiet when they returned, heads down, no joking around, no whispers. Many were wet, as usual by this point, but there was so much more mud spread around.

Worried, he started asking them about William. No answers were forthcoming. His anger built from their silence, he verbally lashed out at them, causing many of the girls to start crying, and a few of the boys as well. Ordering them to wait in the schoolhouse, he dashed off to the stream.

It didn’t take long to find William’s body. He was face down in the stream, the water rushing past him. His pants were caught on a tree root that had broken through the soil; otherwise, his body would have been washed away. Wading in, he picked up William and brought past the copse by the stream.  He placed him on the ground, surrounded by the many fallen branches that the students obviously broke off and played with. Looking up, he saw that he children had disobeyed him again and were standing outside, watching.

Turning the body over, he let out a gasp that was loud enough to frighten many of the children. William’s head was bloodied. He assumed his head fell on one of the rocks, but any evidence of that was washed away.

He sent one of the older boys to fetch William’s parents, and another to the pub to find members of the village council. Time seemed to stand still while they waited, but once the villages-all of them- showed up, everything was chaos.

The children finally started to talk. They blamed their headmaster that he had ranted about the stream, their coming in wet all the time, on and on. One boy said the headmaster pulled William out for giving him lip and brought him to the stream. Almost all the children began to agree with this story.

No matter what he said, the villagers turn on him. Rocks and fists were thrown, people screamed and, wailing, began to beat him bloody. They finally let him be.  The head of the council stopped them before they killed him. He bent down, looked into the headmasters swollen eyes, and spat in them. He was told he was dismissed, to leave the village immediately, otherwise…

Once he was able to stand, partially, he went and gathered up the few belongings he had. He left, not looking behind, but…

Not going all that far.

A few weeks passed as he nursed himself, deep in the woods, where it was unlikely anyone would venture. He ate what he could capture, drank from an offshoot of the stream, and got stronger. During this time, his body was healing, but his mind…not so much. His anger grew to a bonfire blaze.

When he was able to, he began damming up the stream. He moved medium sized rocks into position until he was strong enough to roll larger ones in place. The water stopped rushing down its run, pooling over onto the sides.

Creeping back, he made sure he wasn’t seen. He watched the children all march into the schoolhouse. Behind them: the head of the council. They had not had time to find another to take his place, and that made him smile.

In his pack, he had his kit. In that, were the tools he needed. He had been gathering thistle when he wasn’t building the dam. Once the schoolhouse doors were closed, he made his way, making sure he stayed out of view of the windows.

Placing the thistle in bunches around the perimeter of the building came first. He went back to drag over a thick branch near where he had laid William’s body.  This, he shoved through the door handles.

With that done, he scurried around, lighting the thistle as fast as he could. Once all were ablaze, he ran out of the area, up the rise, and settled down a top of the drystone wall. It gave him a perfect view. He watched the building burn, heard the screams, saw villagers swarm the area, heading to the stream for water that was not there, and watched many collapse on the ground, crying, wailing, beating their chests, suffering.

He spat on the ground before him, got up, and walked away.

No one dismisses a Dominie.

**********************************************************************

Debs Carey was one of the people I interacted a lot with during this past AtoZ Blog Challenge in April. She and her writing partner, David, have been inspirational and friendly above and beyond the norm. They asked me to be on the lookout for the Sunday prompt on Fiction Can Be Fun, which is where their story of espionage and magic intertwined and I got captured in reading. Check it out.

The prompt was: pick a new release of an old (out of copyright) book at Project Gutenberg. Then head over to the Recent Books section. Pick one that you like the look of. The title of your chosen book forms the title and prompt for your story.

If you click on the link about at Fiction Can Be Fun, you’ll find others who have joined in on this prompt fest. Give them a try. I know I will.

Oh, and the other thing was, we were supposed to keep it at around 500 words(ish). Um…my ish is pretty big. Sorry Debs, but…no one dismisses a Dominie.

Reflections of the 2018 #AtoZ Blog Challenge: The Abysmal Dollhouse

Standard

A-to-Z Reflection [2018]

For all the information you could ever want about the AtoZ Blog Challenge, Click:  Blogging From A to Z Challenge.

This was my fifth AtoZ Blog Challenge:

The rules are simple: During the month of April, you commit to writing 26 blogs, each day based off the run ot the alphabet. Up to you how you do that. Blog hop around, read and comment on other blogs, build a community. Don’t sleep. You had to sign up through the AtoZ main page. From that, most people chose and announced their Theme (more below): I signed on late, missed that, and, well…I had no idea what I was going to do up to two days before it started.

Yes, I am that unorganized.

I actually had another idea that I thought would be funny, but when I realized the main character I wanted to use was verbotten, the idea lost all its allure. Quelle dommage. That had me in a bit of a spin; I asked on Tale Spinning if anyone wanted to see me continue some previous storylines that I liked, or should I try something new. I got two: TWO, and only two, requests. Hence, The Abysmal Dollhouse.

I have written TAD stories since 2012. Almost always positive comments. A few followers suggested I should add more to the oeuvre and publish it. Hemming and hawing, procrastinating, all my usual excuses for not committing fully added up to one fact: I didn’t.

Scared? Insecure? A rough number of years on so many levels? No motivation? Creativity and passion just drained away?  Lump them all together and I just never carried it through, letting the ideas pretty much just lay there, occasionally bursting forth. Definitely not often enough. Tale Spinning was pretty much an empty space for the last couple of years.

In actuality, boredom with my life, and myself, kicked me in the arse.

I’m what is known as a Pantser: I don’t prewrite, rarely have an outline, especially for continuing series that I like, and only have a basic idea that I use as a jumping off point. When I started off this round of TAD, I just thought I’d continue on my “Monster of the Week” stories, letting the letter of the day create my title, which then started my writing for the day.

One thing I do do (hee hee. Oh, sue me) is take a little bit of time for research. In this case, I just went online and found a whole bunch of Weird, Murder, or Haunted Houses around the world. I chose a number of places that I thought would be great prompts for every day of the challenge. Didn’t use even half of what I found, this go around.

Something happened that changed in me really early on in the process: I started creating a backstory/mythology for the series and began to drop hints and clues about the backgrounds of The Unfolding Doll and the Shopkeeper. Yes: I started to shed my pantsing and began-gasp!-planning. Not 100%, still no outline, but things were starting to gel and I got much more invested in what I was writing.

I look at it this way: X-Files had many episodes of Monster of the Week, with episodes of their mythology scattered here and there. A MOTW episode could still give us more background info on Scully & Mulder while kinda sorta avoiding the BIG story. Character development and whatnot. That’s how I was viewing all this.

Then the next change happened: I got some new readers, who commented, questioned, told me what they liked, and I felt they were really invested in what was going to happen next. I had that in 2016 with that year’s storyline (link at top of the page), but not to this extent. It kind of added to the challenge for me; it definitely altered my thinking on the storyline.

The ending may seem rushed (it was) but I had dropped hints and clues in many of the stories. It’s hard to fill in all the details when I was trying to limit the daily posts to around 1,000 words. Many people will skip a long posting, and I know I lost potential readers for that reason. Nothing I can do about that. I’m sure many will pass up this reflection for the very same reason. Quelle dommage, part two.

For those who might have missed the main posting where I dropped a lot of clues, go to the “I” posting: In The Absence Of…

A couple of more things: please bear with me.

One thing I’m “frustrated” with are the posts that I thought I was being witty with. Alas, alas, alas.  Too gimmicky? Too obtuse? Spot on? No idea: no feedback. Jabber Wonky was my attempt to play on the Jabberwocky poem in Alice in Wonderland (which gave me the reason to rhyme what goes on in The Child’s mind). I used some of the verbal tomfooleries in the piece, more as an homage; In Quoth the Riven, I think it was pretty obvious. I actually wrote following the path Poe’s poem took. One of my favorite pieces by him.; Orchestra! Curtain! Lights! was my wink to one of my favorite things-animation. It’s the opening lyrics from “The Bugs Bunny Show” theme song. My story has nothing to do with Bugs & Daffy, but Orchestra! was my jumping off point for the tale.

I did not blog hop as much as I was hopping to. I always say I’ll do more, and I did, this year, but I fall far short of others. My apologies. I did happen to come across some wonderfully written blogs along the way and picked up some new blogging friends. I’d like to thank (in no particular order): David, Debs, Sharri, Ms. Wolf, Iain, Jo, Jacqui, Varard, and Melanie. If I’ve forgotten anyone, please forgive me. As to previous readers/bloggers: thanks for sticking with me. Roy: didn’t make that many mistakes this time around, eh?

Special thanks go to Arlee Bird for starting this whole thing, and to the hosts who share the duties. It’s been a blast of a month. Next year? When the time comes, we’ll find out.

Thank you, everyone.

Muirhouse: The Abysmal Dollhouse (AtoZ Blog Challenge)

Standard

** New Readers to this challenge: This is a serialized, continuous work. Please start with the first piece, Abysmally Yours. The AtoZ Blog Challenge began April 1st; ends April 30th. Thank you.

chains

Muirhouse

The Abysmal Dollhouse

The dollhouse was in the style of a Classic Colonial. Two floors, plus attic with peaked gables. A second story wrap-around porch was accented by a finely detailed iron railing, the parquet wood flooring glistening. A stone walkway led to a stone staircase, a few steps to the stone portico in place before the red colored front door. The house, itself, was painted red, with white accented shutters and moldings. Spacious, elegant for its time, a dream house by manys’ standards.

Mrs. Harris hated the house. Hated everything that transpired within. Hated what went on behind closed doors, what transgressions that were out in the open. Hated the people that had moved through the rooms. Hated what had been locked up, out back. The only thing she didn’t hate was herself. Mrs. Harris was furious, and that fury bound her to the house; from the house to this replica. That, she did not know. She just hated the house.

The back room, where the maids were supposed to have made their bed, had been converted into a chapel. Mrs. Harris was on her knees on the padded kneeler, eyes closed, head bowed. She wore, as always her large silver cross that stood out against her all black dress. Her hair, tightly bunned, was covered in a black shawl. No frills, no lace, no adornments other than the cross.

Finished, she rose and commenced her prowl of the premises. Up the back stairs, the ones the maids took to Mr. Harris’s bedroom, or he to theirs, she took at an even pace. At the top was her iron rod. She picked it up, as always. Down the hall she went, stopping at his door.

Grasping the doorknob, she remembered back to the findings. One she chased, through the hall to the screen door that led to the wrap-around landing. She had raised her rod, as she had to do again and again to this ghastly servent in her duties, and by bringing it down in her distress caused the blow that caved in the side of the maid’s head and sent her tumbling over the side. The blood stain on the stone steps below never was completely washed away.

Grasping the doorknob, she remembered another maid, but this one her husband intervened, grabbing the rod and forcing her from the room. He never allowed his wife to be alone with this one, hiring a male servant to watch over her: she was with child. Mr. Harris’s, and he was damned if his wife would cause further harm. “Not while I am alive. Not while this is my house!” he bellowed.

Mrs. Harris backed away from the door, her hand clasping the knob until it escaped out of her grasp. She meandered then, in and out of rooms, up to the attic, back down to the landing, looking. Searching.

More than a few times she felt something pulling at her. The feeling would be faint and off in a distance. She would find herself rushing to stand at one of the windows, looking out and up. A hunger roused itself and willfully slipped out of her lips: “Mine, mine, mine.” Repeated until the force subsided, the silence of the house and her heart returning.

She went down the main stairway, passing by the words written in dried brownish-black. “Die Jack…ha ha ha” had lost its feeling long before. That was after the child had been born, the child that wasn’t right in its head. The child that grew to like playing with knives. The child she “cared” for after its mother met with an unfortunate accident after Mr. Harris suddenly…went away.

Dragged to the chapel by Mrs. Harris twice a day, every day, the child was whipped until it understood it needed to be quiet while she prayed. Dragged to the back of the house, the child was chained to the stone housing of the woodshed. The child, whose mother read of a wonderland, before her accident, had no further schooling beyond what was experienced in the chapel.

Every day, at 4:00 p.m., Mrs. Harris would leave the house and bring it its food. She would look down at it while it wolfed what she served. Speaking of religion, of release, of abstracts that went well over the child’s’ head and heart, Mrs. Harris droned daily.

For three days a month, all in a row, every month, instead of food at 4:00 p.m., Mrs. Harris brought out a very sharp knife from the kitchen. At first, the child would whimper as it knew what was coming; the cuts, slowly delivered but not deep. Three each day, for three days. The child eventually fell into the pattern, knowing that it would be fed, again, after the cutting stopped. For the time being.

The child grew.

One day, it broke free. Entering the house through the kitchen back door, frightened and wary, the child saw something shining on a counter by a screened in window that looked out at the woodshed. His eyes danced over it: the knife, the knife, the knife. He took time glaring at it, breathing in short sharp bursts, until finally taking it in hand he raised it up high.

The light filtered from outside filtered through the screen and the window’s glass. It refracted, the glare causing a vertical and horizontal like that intersected. As the no longer child looked, he saw what looked like the silver cross that the woman always wore. The sight frightened him. Trembling, he fled the house, knife still in hand.

He ran, he ran, he ran.

At 3:45 p.m., Mrs. Harris walked into the kitchen, ready to dole out the child’s meal. She immediately saw her knife was missing. Looking over the counter, she glanced outside and noticed something else was missing. “Good,” she said to herself.

She had hated the child as she had hated the house and everything it was about.

Locking the kitchen door, she waited until it was 4:00 p.m. As she was leaving the room, on the way to her chapel, she felt something pulling at her, from a distance.

Walking to the front room, past the staircase, Mrs. Harris waited at the picture window, looking out and up, and heard herself saying “Mine, mine, mine.”

To be continued…

*****************************

The AtoZ Blog Challenge

During the month of April, 2018, the challenge requires that we write 26 posts, starting with the letter A on April 1st (yes, it’s not an April Fool’s Day joke) and ending with Z on Monday, April 30th. A week or so later, there will be a reflection post that will wrap up this experience, for me as well as my readers.

*I’ve decided to reblog past Abysmal Dollhouse stories on Sundays since we’re not required to write those days. The reblog will not correspond to any specific letter. Just thought you might enjoy some of the previous entries that I’m fond of.

The Monte Cristo Homestead in Junee, Australia, inspired this piece. It is supposed to be the most haunted house in Australia, with a fairly ghastly background. I hope I did it justice here, taking some of the backgrounds and weaving it to suit this series.

Muir, by the way, means “moor” in Scotish. Just kinda fit.

Listen…: The Abysmal Dollhouse (AtoZ Blog Challenge

Standard

** New Readers to this challenge: This is a serialized, continuous work. Please start with the first piece, Abysmally Yours. The AtoZ Blog Challenge began April 1st; ends April 30th. Thank you.

Sound-Waves

Listen…

The Abysmal Dollhouse

The Unfolding Doll slouched in shadow, the darkness punctured by pinpricks of from out there. It wasn’t photophobic, fear not an emotion that it took in but rather exuded. Its prey reeked of fear, drawing the doll along. Emotions were not a foundation it drew upon. Instead, it was attuned to severe emotional states of those out there; the heartbeats projecting as they quickened; the mental waves that crashed upon each other in disarray; the breathes coming in short, jagged waves. Anger. Sorrow. Guilt. Greed. Menace. Fear.

If the Unfolding Doll could relish anything, fear would top its list. Fear was a calling from the shadow.

Out there, the Unfolding Doll sensed the excitement from the houses. Not the complacent ones. The others, whose hunger was always throbbing, fed or not. It sensed more than heard the plaintive peals of “mine, mine, mine” that ran along the edges. The greedy ones, always wanting more. The doll was in tune with these; there were always more to be made “mine.” Symbiotic yearning, melting together in want. Its blade ached for action.

The Shopkeeper steered the man away from the corners of the shoppe. Upon entering, his “harumph” made evident what he thought. He brusquely told her about his twin daughters upcoming birthday. They wanted a dollhouse, “of all things.” He was busy, needing to get back to his office, his wife nagging him to get their present.

His cell rang and he answered it, talking finances at a rapid clip, ending the call as abruptly as he took it. “I don’t have all day. What’s good for two seven-year-old dreamers?”

He spat the word “dreamers” out.

“Mine, mine, mine,” were insistent calls from the back wall. He wasn’t listening beyond his own head, his plans, and meetings, the deal to broker, the way his assistant bent over his desk. The Shopkeeper guided him to where the calls were hungriest.

“Hush,” she subvocalized.

A lighthouse stood on the shelf; it towered over the surrounding replicas. The white and red painting was pristine as it wound its way around the cylinder form. The deck at the top extended from the watchtower; all looking as if it had just been produced. The tiny house at the bottom was made of the same material. He touched it with some force.

“It’s solid, I’ll give you that. But, I said dollhouse, not..”

The Shopkeeper unclasped the latch and the lighthouse and dwelling below swung open.

He noticed the details in the living quarters, the bedding and rugs, the table and chairs, and miniature toys scattered on the floor. In the lighthouse itself, he admired the spiral staircase. “Metal?” he inquired. She nodded her head.

She left him, returning to her counter.

Having no preconceptions, nor any real care when he entered the shoppe, the man was fascinated. He had lived in Florida most of his childhood. The beaches were his playground and the lighthouses he saw were always in the distance. His father would tell ghost stories about them, the mysterious deaths and hauntings, the shipwrecks and the ghostly crews seeking revenge. His father delighted in scaring him.

Some sound caught his attention. It came again, closer. Seagulls. Seagulls were flying around the lighthouse, landing on the deck so high above, taking off and swooping down. One splattered its last meal on the sleeve of his suit. In disgust he tried wiping it off, only making it worse.

The door to the residence was open. Walking inside, he called out. No response, but he saw the sink with a towel draped over its edge. It was still damp. Blotting his sleeve, he called out again. Again, no answer. He kicked a toy boat out of his way as he advanced further in.

The staircase loomed over him. Sweat began to form on his brow, his hands were clammy, and his heartbeat skipped along a little bit harder. His father’s stories swept through his mind but he brushed them away, uneasy that he would allow that man to upset him still after all these years.

He began the climb. Success wouldn’t have been his all these years if he didn’t meet every challenge and conquer it. He climbed, 219 steps, each one presenting, in his mind, deals he had made, enemies he had tossed away, people he had screwed over, women he had screwed with, those he had crushed on his way to the top.

As he climbed, the light through the glass dome receeded. It was replaced by the rolling of the lighthouse lens. He stopped so near the top. He hadn’t heard it turn on. No one had answered his call. Thinking about it, he hadn’t heard the seagulls either for a while. Standing still for a moment, he was about to turn around and go back down.

Steel scraping on steel from below. One long, continuous squealing sound of metal on metal circled up the staircase, echoing off the inside of the lighthouse. He was about to call out, demand an answer, but his father had buried too many nightmare tales in his memories. He had scoffed at horror films: why did they always call out “is anyone there?” just before…

Running. The metal staircase reverberated with the sound and vibrations of something running upwards. The strident metal sound grew more discordant as it got closer. Turning, he bolted up the remaining steps.

At the top were two shadowed figures, hand in hand. Small, they reminded him of his daughters. Shadow outlines of long hair, dresses, a hint of washed out colors as the light came around, blinding him momentarily, not giving him a chance to focus clearly.

The noise from below made him move towards the figures. They drifted away as he advanced. Reaching the door to the deck, it flew open as the figures disappeared. He made it onto the deck and tried to shut the door.

A hand blocked the way. When the light came around, he saw it was clothlike. He screamed, backing away. The Unfolding Doll stepped out after him, knife in hand, honed to perfection on its journey up the staircase.

He turned for a moment, realizing the height they were at. He listened to the crashing of the waves below, the return of the gulls cries, and they stabbed through whatever reserve he had left, as the Unfolding Doll completed the job.

***

Far away, it was 4:00 p.m.

To be continued…

*****************************

The AtoZ Blog Challenge

During the month of April, 2018, the challenge requires that we write 26 posts, starting with the letter A on April 1st (yes, it’s not an April Fool’s Day joke) and ending with Z on Monday, April 30th. A week or so later, there will be a reflection post that will wrap up this experience, for me as well as my readers.

*I’ve decided to reblog past Abysmal Dollhouse stories on Sundays since we’re not required to write those days. The reblog will not correspond to any specific letter. Just thought you might enjoy some of the previous entries that I’m fond of.

The St. Augustine Lighthouse in Florida is also a very haunted place to visit. There are many tales told of ghostly happenings. Supposedly, the ghosts of two young girls who mysteriously died during construction still can be seen.

Be careful if they beckon.

Heights Withering: The Abysmal Dollhouse (AtoZ Blog Challenge)

Standard

** New Readers to this challenge: This is a serialized, continuous work. Please start with the first piece, Abysmally Yours. The AtoZ Blog Challenge began April 1st; ends April 30th. Thank you.

d644a510725c9086fb18a0417d8a0972

Heights Withering

The Abysmal Dollhouse

Madelaine stood, transfixed, in front of the elaborate dollhouse. She had given scant acknowledgement to the store girl, breezing past her greeting. She was here only to waste time until lunch: she had been bored with the shops she passed by. This place caught her eye. First it was the sun reflecting off the window. No signage. No attempt to draw her in. Challenge, and accepted.

But now, taking off her Panthere de Cartier sunglasses, Madelaine wiped at her moisture falling, threatening to run down her face. The mascara stained her fingers. Closing her eyes, she took in ten precise breaths and slowly let them go, rouged mouth pursed. Placing her sunglasses back on, Madelaine opened her eyes, then her purse, found a moisture pad, and cleaned off her fingers. With the snap of her purse, she fixated on the replica in front of her.

Banff Springs Hotel. Stone facade, it’s many floors filled with windows. These were surrounded by artisan crafted trimming.  She studied it from a variety of angles, finally settling onto the tower. Painter tower, named so for the architect who designed the remodeling of the main part of the hotel, with the addition of this tower…and which information she could not have cared less about, but for the droning of the hotel’s sales pitch.  The information, now, was branded in her memory.

The Shopkeeper had kept her silence, watching the young woman’s intensity. Quietly, she walked over, reached across with a subdued “excuse me,” unlatched and opened the tower’s facepiece. She went back, retrieved her duster, and busied herself around the perimeter of the shoppe.

Madeline thought she heard the girl whisper “Hush,” but with no one else in the place, she felt she must be mistaken. She knew it was not directed towards her.

The Painter Tower had been built with the idea of hosting events and galas. Two glass encased ballrooms sat floors from each other near the top; the mountains looming around the site were a view to behold under any condition. Yet, that night, she had thought they were more than magnificent, the clear star-laden sky and shining moon felt magical. She felt it fit the way it should, for her, on her wedding night.

The bridal party’s room was on the floors beneath. Madelaine moved figures around, furniture, doors that noiselessly opened or closed. It was all so precise, so accurate. She felt tears welling again, but she tamped them down. Hard.

There. The Bride’s Suite. Expertly fitted. Full-length mirrors. Lighted vanities for hair and make-up.  Wardrobe racks. Screens. Superbly crafted furniture that was, beyond expectation, comfortable. Including the settee. Including the champagne.

Madelaine walked over the to wardrobe rack. Her gown was still in its plastic sheath. She took off the covering, deposited her sunglasses on the closest vanity surface, and ran her fingers along the material of her gown: a Sophia Tolli, its sleeveless misty tulle, beaded lace, plunging neckline, and a scalloped lace hem. The pearl buttons down the lace back were exquisite.

Bringing it over to the mirrors, Madelaine held it up and fell in love with the dress all over again. She had to try it on.

She was down to her underwear, reaching around to unhook her bra when she heard the door behind her open. She froze. “No, no…not again,” she whispered to herself. Yet, the actions began their deja vu on steroids.

He came behind her, running his hands up and down her arms, her chest, nuzzling at her long neck, brushing her long auburn hair out of the way. She melted into his kisses, his caresses. Turning around to face him, she completed unhooking her bra and let it, and the dress, fall to the floor.

They made their way to the settee, leaving a trail of his clothes, her thong, along the way. Things progressed as they had before: just before she climaxed, the door to the suite was kicked in. Her fiancee was there, gun in hand, fury in his eyes. He glared daggers at his best friend, the woman he had loved, and after only a moment barreled into the room.

A shot was fired. Madelaine ran, snatching up the man’s shirt off the floor. She ran, the noise of the fighting propelled her. Another gunshot echoed, the noise amplified in the empty hallway, the staircase she fled up towards the ballroom.

She was winded, scared out of her being, but she had enough sense to try to find a place to hide. The lights in the room were off, but the star and moonlight lit up the room in a stark searchlight. Patches of shadows broke up the natural glow; she dove for the largest area in shadow. The far corner.

Madelaine smelled the smoke as it wafted up the main staircase. Her fiancee had started the fire in the Bridal Suite after he killed her sometimes lover. He had raced up the steps to find her, pointing the gun at her, threatening to kill her, then him. She, clad only in a shirt, had rushed him in her fear and anger at what he had done…what she had done. She pushed him, hard. Clutching her arm, they both tumbled down the staircase towards the growing blaze below.

But he had broken his neck, and she escaped down the second stairway down the hall. She gave no reason why two bodies, why the gunshots, how the fire began. Everyone consoled her, but they knew. They knew. Many let her know by their distance, their silence.

This time, though, hiding in the shadow, her fiancee did not appear at the top of the stairs, did not overwhelm in the doorway to the ballroom. The fire crept in his place, the room getting smokier and hotter. Madelaine began to cough. She stood, watching the flames leap up the stairs in the short distance, traveling along furniture, material, walls, ceiling, carpeting. The way she had originally survived was a furnace, now.

Madelaine began coughing deeper, more painfully. She was just leaving the once shadowed corner when a pair of hands grabbed her from behind. She yelped as the fingers dug into her arms, her breasts. Hot air ran up and down her neck, onto her shoulders, and she was forcibly turned around, the shirt torn off and tossed to the floor.

The Unfolding Doll held her with the inferno of the ballroom surrounding them. The doll, with her dark ringlet hair, button eyes, stitched linen hands, arms, and legs; behind Madelaine’s back, if she would have been in front of the three-way bridal mirror, would have seen the long, sharp blade that was reflecting the dancing flames of the room.

Madeline, tear-streaked face, coughing lungs, was guided around the ballroom dance floor by the Unfolding Doll. Try as she might, and she had little left inside of her, Madelaine could not break free of the doll’s leading steps.

She realized, as the slicing pain that she began to feel in her back, this…this was their first dance.

And it was her last.

*****************************

The AtoZ Blog Challenge

During the month of April, 2018, the challenge requires that we write 26 posts, starting with the letter A on April 1st (yes, it’s not an April Fool’s Day joke) and ending with Z on Monday, April 30th. A week or so later, there will be a reflection post that will wrap up this experience, for me as well as my readers.

*I’ve decided to reblog past Abysmal Dollhouse stories on Sundays since we’re not required to write those days. The reblog will not correspond to any specific letter. Just thought you might enjoy some of the previous entries that I’m fond of.

The Banff Springs Hotel can be found in Alberta, Canada. There are a few stories of ghost attributed to the location, but the one that caught my imagination was the Bride on Fire, who can sometimes be found in the ballroom, dancing. From that, I came up with the above. This is a work of fiction, and I took fiction writing liberties with all of it but the ghost rumor: I have no idea if there was a fire in the Painter Tower, I have no clue where the ballroom, bridal suite(s), or anything else is in the place. As to the Bride on Fire, this is as good a reason as any for her story.

Until she tells me otherwise during our dance.