Category Archives: Fantasy

Cold Hearted John Meadows

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My name is John Meadows, at least, that’s what it says on my birth certificate. At this moment, I’m not sure if that is even true.

I woke up in a bedroom. It was an unknown space. Except, as I lifted my head up off the pillow, I noticed a picture that looked familiar. I stood, walked over to it: it was flush with the wall. An outdoor moment in time. There was a man, and a woman. They held each other, big smiles on their faces.

The man leaned on a vast gnarled tree. Instead of branches, It looked as if seven tree trunks wound around each other, an abstract weave of latticework wood. The leaves were thick, a dark shade of green that looked almost like they were black. They hung over the couple like a frame.

The woman had her head resting on the man’s shoulder. His hair fell to his collar, so dark that at first, I thought it looked like it was cut out of the photo. Her hair was lighter, a mixture of golden brown and red. I remembered that it was called Auburn. I don’t know why I didn’t realize that at first. Yes, Auburn-haired, long, it fell down and over his chest, making his torso look like it disappeared as well.

The photo bothered me. Her eyes sparkled when the shot was taken. His eyes held little to no reflection. I looked. His didn’t, even with the sunlight spotlighting where they stood. Her eyes, the tilt of her head, her smile: there was life. He smiled, but it didn’t seem to reach his eyes. They were flat.

Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a free-standing full-body mirror to my left. It stood at a tilt near white folding slat doors. I shuffled my way over to it. I could not remember what I looked like, nor who I was. Maybe, I thought, looking at the reflection, things would come into focus. My heart began to accelerate, chest tightening, and it was getting difficult to breathe. I hadn’t been aware of breathing before this. I was now.

Coming into full view, I felt my head had received something smashing into it. It hurt like hell. I had to touch my head. It felt like bone shattered. I checked. It felt solid. But the pain. It was like a steel bar was slammed against my forehead.

A steel bar? Why did I…no, more a bat? Baseball? No, no. A baseball. Yes, a baseball hurtling to me, not even registering that I needed to move, to duck, do something. But it was too fast. I was too slow. I was up, then nothing. It felt just like that, although I didn’t know why. I still don’t know why I felt that way when I stepped in front of the mirror.

Yes, I was the man in that photo, even though I did not remember that. It was clear upon viewing, my eyesight was waving, no floaters, no film distortion over the irises. I looked at myself in the mirror, then over to the photo. Goosebumps paraded across my spine.

Turning, I took in the rest of the room. White minimalism in paint and fabrics. Same with my pajama pants. I noticed, then, that I had no shirt on. A look in the mirror traveled down; before, I was solely intent only on my face. My chest was hairy but not matted. Three parallel deep pink scars ran from my left armpit to just past the bellybutton. An inny. They didn’t hurt as much as throb. Noticing them did not help my rapid breathing and heart rate.

The next moments are still a blur. I know I looked around: the place had been tidy when I awoke. Now, drawers, men’s clothing, papers littered the white. All the bed linen was on the floor. The sliding slat doors were open wide, showing a closet that was only half full. I took this all in, sitting on the floor, leaning against the bed. I felt something hard and looked down. I had a metal lockbox in my hands. My breathing shallowed, and I felt myself calm down to regular human beats. At least, what I thought were normal.

There was no lock to have to break into. The lid swung up with ease, showing the mound of papers it carried. I riffled through the envelopes, unfolded the various papers, and only stopped when I found a Birth Certificate. Mine, I have assumed, until someone tells me differently. 

My name is John Meadows.

If you are listening to this tape, then most likely I am dead. Or too far away for any meaning of living or dead is inconsequential. This is the story of what happened from that moment of waking, clueless to everything that had meaning to me. I know that the woman in the photo was Jean, my partner. I know she no longer…is here. Where? At this time, I still do not know how to answer that.

Whoever you are, whenever you are, do yourself and loved ones a favor.

Do not stand under the leaves of that massive, gnarled tree.

It is not the Tree of Life.

One Two 300

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The number 300,

Where did it come from, you ask?

Come sit, dear child.

I will do my best

To describe 300

It’ll put your mind at rest.

Once upon a time, One became known

To all across the world

Yet no One knew then

That One had a twin; of sorts

One was delighted

Thinking that “!” was by One’s side

Yet a rude awakening quickly followed,

That Exclamation Point always trailed behind.

One drifted along,

A fraction of fear, for

One wanted an addition

Of this, it was clear,

Alone One felt relatively null.

A need to multiply, One felt,

Was its right summation

Was One the final destination?

UNTIL

One terrible shaking shook the world

So unexpected and irrational

When the shuddering settled

One felt naturally at ease

Not knowing the quiet

Was but a tease.

Yet One was but a start,

Another One came calling,

Abstract and complex

People were swept off their feet

Heads all awhirl, 

Some stomachs, too, truth to tell.

Trees fell, waves rose up in the air

Then all was quiet on the front

Staying right and stable.

‘One happened, then once again?’

Questioning arose

One following another One did not compute.

A wise woman named Venn asked

“We should all come together,

A gathering circle.”

They joined as a group

They overlapped in a fury

Theories were thrown about,

Until One shouted, “Eureka!”

Twa claimed its name.

Ideas and events added more to the mix

Tres followed Twa

Then came the rest.

One hundred came,

Followed by Twa hundred in a row.

Last year it was 299,

Then we added One,

And 300 was born.

So, dear child,

300 is here! This equation is solved.”

“But Grandpa,” she said,

Rubbing her eyes,

“Why will next year

Be 300 and One?”

ON THE EDGES

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Bouquet, Van Gogh

On The Edges

The invitation was relatively concise

Arrive at two, the brightest of light

A short path to the house

Brings you up the three steps

A porch sweeps the space

The entryway is here

Knock once, twice, thrice

The door swung upwards

Letting you in

Gusty wind plays on your back

Pushing you inside the two-floor house,

First flight

Swiveled head & searching eyes

The walls were white

And nothing else

The place was bare, except

A sweeping curved stairway centered itself

Polished cherry wood atop

Carved wood posts with intimate designs

Of plentitudes of flowers; a bouquet of railing

Uprooted vines holding these tableaux

It caught your fancy

Drawing you near

Noticing the details grow deeper

As you traveled the veneer

The steps asked you to climb

Even though you initially declined

The curves, the peaks, the depth drove you so

Up the stairway was where you needed to go

Upon the landing, three doors were in view

The first a white blank

The next as vacant as the first

But down the hall, the third door was ajar

Difference cascaded with what could be seen

As you thrust this door open

Into a dream

The walls were a garden

A multitude of colors

An aroma on your lips

Laid out with grace, so serene

From floor to ceiling, white walls a memory,

A facing of beauty only nature provides

Spaced only apart when a window sat between

You count the varieties, the mixes, the hues

You softly place fingers

Coming away with light dew

Turn to the right, to the left

Back again and reversed

Taking in this garden menagerie.

One window tracked you

Wanting you to gaze through

Stark contrast unappealing

A blank whiteness with edges

Of shadows descending

You shiver as you walk back to room center

Sitting down on the floor

In equidistant space

The facing of flowers

Moves you inside

Embracing your vibrancy

Of peace and good faith

The Misfortunes of Sea Monsters (Part 3)

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NOTE: if you have not read parts one and two, the following will make little to no sense.  I feel you really do need to read it, part by part. Thank you. 

THE MISFORTUNES OF SEA MONSTERS

PART 1

PART 2

… And now ladies and gentlemen, for your reading edification, the further exploits of  The Misfortunes of Sea Monsters, Part 3

Chapter 3: The Sundering and The Call

The Return groaned as the coils of the Hafgufa tightened around the span of the ship. As it tilted and cracked, Young Ned held onto the rail with one arm while he jabbed with his razor-sharp weapon. The many-tentacled creature screamed its rage with each piercing. The thrashing beast of the deep blue continued its crushing actions.

Many of the crew members put up a valiant fight but were soon tossed into the sea…many losing their battle immediately. The stronger swam away; too many were swept under by the beating of one tentacle or another. Capt. Magnus had strapped himself to the wheel of his ship, brandishing his cutlass with accurate and deadly aim. The realization that all was lost for The Return came upon him almost too late.

“Save yourself Young Ned!,” yelled the captain.” The Return is lost.” and, cutting the straps that held him to his beloved vessel, the captain dove into the waiting seas.

Young Ned would not go so easily. As The Return tilted and broke apart, Young Ned continued his battle against his most hated foe. Even dangling from the rail he would not give up. It was not until the ship began to break into kindling that Young Ned was forced to cede this horrible skirmish and find shelter in the cold waiting waters.

Swimming as if his life depended on it, which it did, Young Ned strove to haul himself as far away from the ship as he could. The Return began its descent to the bottom of the sea, being escorted by the Hafgufa. It squelched and ripped and tore apart the once mighty ship, and there was nothing that could save it. Many of the seamen went down with the ship, caught in the whirlpool of the returns drowning, and their own lack of strength. Young Ned, the last in the water, made excellent headway and was saved from going down with the ship.

Yet, there was no land in sight. He had outswum the flotsam and jetsam of the dying ship. As strong and determined as he was, Young Ned could not but grew tired. For a while, he alternated between floating and his failed attempts at swimming for a non-existent shore. It took a lot to discourage him, what with all that he and his family have been through. This, though, seemed to Young Ned to be his last hurrah. The last of his strength ebbing away, Young Ned laid his arms at his side, still holding onto the tool which he still hoped, as he drifted away, would slay the Hafgufa.

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

Young Ned was prodded awake with something sharp in the side of his head. Rousing himself, he got up on one elbow and found himself to be on the dry ground; a copse overlooking the sea. Looking around he was startled at first by the empty landscape in front of him. Poked again from behind, he was equally startled (if not more so) than what was now before him.

” You do know, I would think twice before eating you.” She smiled, and the smile sent shivers through Young Ned… But not in a good way.

to be continued…..

⊗⊗⊗⊗⊗    ⊗⊗⊗⊗⊗    ⊗⊗⊗⊗⊗    ⊗⊗⊗⊗⊗

Author’s Note: 

…and I did not go further. I don’t remember why I let it drop, but drop it went.

I’ve been searching storylines that I enjoyed creating, seeing them through (in this case) a nine-year growth in writing.

READERS:  Would you like to see this continued?

I know I will have to do thorough editing on these three pieces if I do.

Please leave a comment below. As simple as Yes or No. If you can give your reasons for either way, please do. Please No Maybes. Yes or No, & commentaries.

Stay Safe & Healthy

Stu

 

 

 

The Misfortune of Sea Monsters (part two)

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The Misfortune of Sea Monsters (part two)

Part One: The Misfortune of Sea Monsters

NOTE: if you have not read part one (link above), this will make little to no sense. I am trying my hand at a serialized story, and you really do need to read it, part by part. Thank you.

Part Two: The Hafgufa and The Harpoon

Captain Magnus tried to stop Young Ned from leaping to a certainly lost cause, but he was too late. The Return swayed, but no man was more made more steady on his feet than a captain whose ship was an extension of himself.  The large ripples the beast made, as it bore Meigs down, tried their best to topple him. He heard some of his men falter and gasp, but he would have none of that.

“You’re a fool, Young Ned. A brave one, but a fool all the same.” The captain stayed at the side of his ship, speaking to an uncaring sea, waiting for any sign.

The foolish Young Ned was far below, swimming downward. His labor was fierce, as the creature tunneled the water as it should, and Young Ned was handicapped by the harpoon he knew he must have. Meigs was a rag doll in the monster of the deep’s tentacles, and his mate, his friend,  felt it was already too late, but this feeling only propelled him to swim faster.

The “Vanishing Island” (for so the Hafgufa has been called) belched a stream of what Young Ned thought would be if one could smell underwater, noxious fumes.  Stopping its descent, it turned towards Young Ned, its eyes locking onto him. A tentacle was thrust towards him, then another and another.  Each time the attack was thwarted by a right blow of the exquisite sharpness of the harpoon that Young Ned wielded. Both he and the monster scored points, but none were as deep or as ruinous as what came from the well-placed pike.

He was fast losing the last of his air reserves when a tremendous blow freed the undulating sea body of SM Meigs. Young Ned grabbed his comrade and began his ascent. The creature, leaking foul fluids from the many contact hits delivered,  sent out a spasm of its own pain and struck Young Ned across his back,  sending the harpoon spiraling out of Young Ned’s hand and knocking him unconscious.

***

The deck of The Return was hard and wet under Young Ned’s back as he coughed up the bracken seawater. Retching was a rude awakening, but any revival from what seemed like certain death was a good one. Captain Magnus gave his one good hand to Young Ned and helped him stand. Young Ned politely shook him off, bent at the knees, and expelled the last of the wretched substance.

Standing up, Young Ned looked around him. There, amidships, by the mizzenmast, lay the body of SM Meigs. Nothing was said: he knew Meigs was dead as sure as he knew the Hafgufa would pay, and pay dearly. Young Ned also noticed one other thing: the harpoon he carried into battle lay at his feet.

Puzzled, he bent and picked it up. “Captain, how…” he began.

“I know, lad, I know. You should have been as dead as poor Meigs.  Too much time had passed, and the lads and, sadly, I had given up all hope. The sea waters were thrashing for all to see, then they went still. I had said my prayers and sent you Godspeed to Davey Jones’s embrace when…well…”

“What? Please, Captain. I don’t understand why I am still alive here on deck. I felt a blow across my back, a shattering pain lanced through, and I felt the sea enter me as I quickly lost all awareness.”

Captain Magnus stared hard at Young Ned. He turned his head and spat over the rail. Turning back, it was the first time the captain would not make eye contact.

“You know me for an honest man, as honest as the sea will allow one to be. The crew saw this too, or I wouldn’t have believed it myself. We had given up all hope, but…the mysteries of the seas are deep. The still water broke apart, Young Ned, and you, Meigs, and that blasted harpoon were on the back of a narwhal. This one was male, a lovely helical tusk, as woven as a twisted knot of hair. It floated long enough for us to retrieve you and poor Meigs. We thought you were gone too, but, well, you coughed up the sea as it coughed up yourself.”

“The narwhal?” Young Ned inquired.

“Slid away and gone. Come…no use scratching our heads about this. You are alive, Young Ned, and I am glad that I can keep my promise to your sister that you stay that way. Well, at least for today.” Captain Magnus smiled, slapped Young Ned on the back, and turned, barking orders to set course for land and home.

Walking over to the body of his friend, Young Ned knelt and said some prayers. He also vowed, in these moments of silence, to seek vengeance, so dreadful and sincere. Lost in his moments of grief, it was only the collision of the boatswain, Mr. Diggs, that brought him around to a deck that was beginning to tilt and the noses of men in a panic.

“Diggs…what is it, man?”

The boatswain, face ashen, said, “Look starboard; look what you’ve brought upon us!”

Pushing the man away, harpoon still in hand, Ned rushed starboard, pulling himself up so he could look over the rail:

The Hafgufa’s tentacles were climbing the sides of The Return, tilting the ship. One passed by his head and twisted onto the mizzenmast behind him. One solid jerk, and the Hafgufa and Young Ned were staring at one another, connected by sea, wood, and bone.

The Return cried a mournful sound upon the waters.

to be continued…

Alphonse On The Ocean

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©catfacesonbirds.tumbler.com

ALPHONSE ON THE OCEAN

Alphonse, the PengCat, stood on the hot sand. The waves beckoned him to join his brethren in watery freedom. Alphonse, the PengCat, leaned toward the water and groaned. Gaze fixed, turning vacant as the waves rolled in and out. Alphonse began to move towards the sea.

His eyes cleared just four seashells away from the incoming tide. Halting, Alphonse, the PengCat, trembled at the thoughts of the unknown. While looking at the vast ocean, the never-ending ocean, he pictured its fathomless depths, the unseen oppressors, voracious predators of the briny deeps.

Alphonse, the PengCat, flippered himself on his leathery nose, bringing him back to purpose. This brought him back to his reality. Alphonse geared up.

Once everything was in place, his checklist commenced:
Swimsuit? Check.
Goggles? Check.
Triple-Layered Swim Cap? Check.
Flotation Devices on and Secure? Check.
Underwater Defense Gun Mark 1 Mod 0, loaded? Check and Check.

Alphonse, the PengCat, meowed in an undulating force as he waddle-leaped through the wall of waves.

His journeys became the stuff of legends.

HELEDAVAR WAS MIFFED

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Heledavar dropped off the branch, landing feet first on the moss. She’d had an uneventful night in the tree, no visit from the Mlkh of the Beautiful NightMare. It was not the first time Heledavar was left with a barren sleep. She was miffed, ready to take it out on her brother, Haladavar, Wood Elf style. Heledavar reached up, grabbed a low hanging branch, and pulled. It tore off the tree, no more effort than to step on a cadaverous bug.  Heledavar thought a prayer to the tree.

It was a Tarn’s bottom to be the only femwaif in a family of Tree Elf glutoffs.

She took to dashing behind and between trees, hoping that Hal was still was captive in the dream world. She reached his spot and stopped.  Heledavar’s miffed turned quickly into peeved. Instead of her brother laid out on his favorite bed of rubble stones, Hal left a “note” on the center stone.  It was spelled out with smaller rocks: “gone adven bi. “ An adventure? The glutoff! Heledavar stormed off.

As the action of Hal kept repeating inside her, Heledavar elevated her peeved to one of extreme vexation. She swore in High Wood Elf, her mixture of curses brimming to the surface. Her mismatched eyes bulged out. Vexation to fury, with ease.

She had lived through this five -no, six- times before. All of her siblings: “gone bi.” Until this last darkness, the dark became less dark. Then, only Haladavar and Heledavar remained. Now, Heledavar, alone. Hal left her to tend to their rotten, miserable, ungrateful parents. Their Her parents and their “haute couture” shrubbery and mulch mini-farm. Neither she nor any of her brothers had any intention to take over the family business: The Aralavaris Botanical and Breakfast Hut.

They all went “gone” the same way. They’d reach a specific tree span, and before anyone could say “Zarn Knows Little,” the darkness welcomed them. Each of them cringed once their parents went to bed. To a sibling, they learned where to sleep outside, reducing the horrible noise. The snoring was deafening. A Green Dragon could tear up all the trees outside, set fire to the shrubbery, roaring its terrible roar, and gnashing its terrible teeth. No matter. When they went to bed, they went to bed, snoring through the darkness.  She knew the Green Dragon’s frenzy because that scenario had happened. Three times. No. Four? Yes, four times.

She mumbled through gritted teeth: “those glutoffs! Moronic glutoffs! Feted glutoffs!”

Heledavar raised both hands, clenched in rock breaking fists. She boxed the air above her head, screaming to the puce heavens above. Heledavar stopped her tantrum as quickly as it started. The last time she let loose was the time the previous Green Dragon came forth.

Her ill feelings shifted, rising from peeved to quite vexed.

She approached the hut they had all shared. The snoring cut through the rotting wood paneling, shored up by their “best” shrubbery. Snoring. Near endless snoring. Momentous snoring! Apocalyptic noise that would be the end of her if she did not leave. As all the others did. She thought about patricide and matricide for an Ogre’s hair breath, but she just shook her massive head. Heledavar snuck inside, grabbing the clothing and few items that were hers, shoving them into a bag.  

Heledavar also helped herself to half the armory in the hut. Twelve throwing crescents, eleven Smoke Eaters, ten silver-rimmed stakes, enough knives to hide around her body, her bow with two quivers of arrows, and, finally, her mother’s Great Sword. Her pride, her treasure, the sword she named “Zweihänder, The Death That Comes.” When her mother, The Zoupah, took out her eight hand-sized, double-edged straight blade, her opponents knew it was already too late for them. Bladders were voided. Most ran. They still voided.

During those times, her father stayed at the hut, watching over his bushes.

It was Heledavar’s time.  Before she set out, Heledavar raided the kitchen. Food for the road. Satisfied with all the meats and treats she liked, Heledavar skulked out of the hut.  Heledavar went to Hal’s favorite conk-out spot. She added a smeared smattering of broken slab over Hal’s message: “H to bi.” It served its purpose. As she walked away, grease dripped down her chin from the roasted Shaitan she spirited away.

At High Not Dark, Heledavar stopped on the rocky path she strode along. The ground trembled from the aftershocks of the snoring. Rocks rolled. Saplings unrooted themselves. The oldest, largest trees felt their leaves tumble away. Even this far away, the snoring would not let her leave. Heledavar’s vexation catapulted to rage. Heledavar held up her left fist, the right trying not to lose the fatty shank. She steadied the shank by sinking her teeth into the next to last deep mass of meat. Heledavar was free to hold up her smallest finger.  Heledavar leaned her head back, a gargling noise spilling out of her mouth, and shot down. She spat out all that she had held back. Bile mixed with the saliva ejected seventeen times. Each one a burial for the last seventeen cycles that were her life.

Heledavar turned her back on the direction of the AB&BH, remaining in place. From stillness to a howling wind, Heledavar closed her right eye, whirled four times to the known winds, then four times back again. She repeated that dance three more times, at last planting her feet solid on the path. She said her name for the last time. “Heledavar.” Her past and the name that held roots were discarded. Hele, now, opened her eye, continuing on the pitted path before her.

She only looked back three times before the hut, at long last, fell away.

Or, was it Hele’s fourth time she looked back? Fifth?

She pondered that for a long while walking. The darkness and the less dark filled in the spaces to the next day.

HUZZAH!

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Amanda-Palmer_Photo-By-Kahn-and-Selesnick_1

Amanda Palmer © Photo-By-Kahn-and-Selesnick_1

HUZZAH!

by Stuart H. Nager ©

What is unknown appears known; of this, I am uncertain. Perchance beguiled, for last I knew I was there but, alas, here I be. This path through trees lacks familiarity, copses gnarled but tidy. A hedge I found to assist my invisibility, a vantage point to confuse me further.

So many passed by, speaking in words yet understood. I scent of fresh hops filled the air, roasted meats, and the stale sweat produced by the heat of the day. This was familiar, but the rest? Skin hues, the variances of body types, the way they laughed, swore, or what I took as such, were a jumble only experienced in the largest of gathering towns and cities.

Swords! In the distance, a clang of swords. Blade upon blade, the shrieking of steel. Cheers, mirth, sad wails erupt from that direction. As one, what I glean to be a crowd, yells, “Huzzah. Huzzah. Huzzah!”

I am undone.

My feet lead me away from the hedge, into the ebullient throngs. My spirits lift somewhat, having spirited away a mug of foul ale. Yet, I quaff to a drop as the mug refills. Foul but fair, I merrily wander to explore my thoughts and this strange happenstance.

The lasses are comely; the lads as well. Their states of modesty thrown to the wind. Music is precise. I join in the dances encountered, elevating the pleasures of all who participate. Some of the cavorting was of my accord. More of the repellant beer made its way into my hands and down my gullet. I skip off to find what I shall find. A need for the small forest calls.

Ho! A pair of churlish ruffians. Drunk, their lazy attempts to lay hands upon a lass are buffeted away. Yet still, they take no heed. She, red-headed and fair, yells with no results for assistance. Ah, this language is beginning to open. Help she will have. Swifter than an arrow, I am beside her.

Drolly, I smite the louts with my sharpened wit, enough so that their desires for the pretty turn to anger towards myself. I lead them on a merry chase, up and down, forward and back, until the befuddled duo collapse into heaps. Thanking them for this escapade, I return to the lasses.

She of red hair awaited my return, mischief in her eyes that complimented my own. She takes my hand as we become unseen behind a large oak. Their language is becoming more explicit still.

“Huzzah!” fills the air throughout.

~~~   ~~~   ~~~   ~~~

Sunlight is fading, and I still find myself here. Megan of the red hair has left, alas, alas, alas, with friends dragging her away. She made a promise. Surprisingly, I gave one in return. Yet, the day has passed, more sweet beer drowning melancholy away.

Something has been pulling me throughout the day, drawing me further. Except for my Lord, I am nobody’s plaything. It was easy to turn this away with the ethereal emissions of the masses. Now, so few remain. This “Ren Faire,” as Megan related, closed down at true nightfall.

I give in to the call.

I have reached a series of small but fierce pavilions. Each draped with runes, gemstones, carvings, feathers, and lace, enveloped in candle glow. I walk down the lane, peering into each. Women, swathed in rich earth tones, turn their heads away as I come upon them. Except, this one ahead.

She is waiting for me, knowledge in her eyes.

I know her as well.

“Sprite,” she warbles, her withered countenance neither friend nor foe.

“Crone,” adding a shallow bow to her presence.

“Inside.” She hesitates. “Please.”

I follow. She deigns to sit on a wooden stool while I stand, examining her craft. The damask cloth covering her centerpiece table is of the highest quality, the colors swirling as they lay in place. I would say hypnotic, laying down such schemes myself.

“He was angry with you. Anger festered for a long while. The King almost commenced a Wild Hunt. My Mistress lured him to her bower. No Wild Hunt was issued. It was she who moved you here.”

“I see,” thank you, My Queen, for this gift. “I still owe him my fealty.”

“No, you do not. The King has withdrawn any compulsion over you. Residing as far away, and as long, as the Queen and King have, He has no need of you. Anymore.”

This news. I never wished for it. Yet, I surprise even myself at times.

I glowed inside. It felt. Good.

“What will you do now, Robin?

The question was an excellent one. For the first time, I feel befuddled.

“I do not” was left unfinished. There was a tap on the pavilion frame behind me. I turned.

A vision appears before me. Be still, my aching.

What a glorious smile. She holds out her hand. Our eyes meet. Our hands join as one. Megan leads me away from the pavilion.

I hear the crone: “Mistress, what fool this Puck be!”

Could she not stay quiet?

Her cackles followed us as we left the faire.

Together.

Huzzah!

! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

This week, Shut Up & Write offered their monthly five-day challenge with the Prompt Theme of

Through a Stranger’s Eyes

Each day’s prompt was to give your character’s POV through their very first time at a specific place, meeting another, etc. No length restrictions. Any style of writing. Any genre.

I took on the challenge, even with the growing number of projects that I am involved with. If you’d like to read the five in order:

August 3rd:    First Impressions: Planet Earth    a twinkling defense

August 4th:    Holiday Study: Trick or Treat        Samhain

August 5th:    Extreme Sports                                 Lemmings to Slaughter

August 6th:    Modern Exercise                               Level

August 7th:     Big Events: Ren Faire                       Huzzah! (above)

 

COMMENTS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME

 

Lemmings to Slaughter

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Trolls Tongue

Lemmings to Slaughter

©Stuart Nager 8/5/20

 

I watched a woman dive off of a cliff.

The four others who had ascended with her ran to the edge of the outcropping. At first, I thought they would all follow her as a group, a splice of Lemmings following the herd. They did run helter-skelter after, yet they all stopped abruptly at the edge. Parts of The Trolls Tongue ledge were disturbed by their mad dash forward. Broken off pieces of rock following in her stead as they laughed and high fived each other.

Two went prone, cellphones at hand, in what I assumed was to record the woman’s rapid descent. The other two had packs already on their backs, each checking the other.

I noticed all of their movements for a brief moment: a fraction, really. I took them in more out of the corner of my eye. I lost total interest as I watched the jumper descend.

She was swimming through the air. The flips were followed by a turn to the west. Then east. A series of air pocket climbs allowed her to somersault, pushing her up on the currents. The spirals she performed were breathtaking. Her control was magnificent. The whining pitch of her aerials signaled her falling speed increase.

Spreading her body out, she pulled something. I could see the movement, but she was too far away, even for me, to see clearly.

The pack upon her back burst open. A snarl of colors leaped out and up. As it unfurled, I muttered an involuntary “ah” as I understood. A parachute. Multi-colored as it snapped into shape, drawing her once more upwards. The four yelled, laughed, and hooted at this point. I didn’t turn to look. It was enough to hear them squawk akin to Snowy Owls.

I imagined her laughing along as she heavily floated to the Fjord below. Her heart beating fiercely, blood coursing through her body at high speed. I envied her, that joy, that freedom, that overtaking of fear. Sensations that I have been divorced from for far too long.

A new shout from the four sought my attention and grabbed it. Only the two lying prone were still there. The others were off, doing their “death-defying” acrobats. I watched it for only a moment. Individually, they were nowhere near as graceful as their friend was. They made up for it a bit, and they maneuvered around and with each other. It wasn’t enough. I lost interest in the last hooting I heard from them.

I’d been alone on The Tongue for an eternity. Initially, I climbed this peak after the deaths of my family, trying to escape their death howls. They were silenced in turn as I fled. Ashamed, I traveled on. Climbing, ever climbing. When I first beheld this outcropping, my turmoil of thoughts leveled out. The gods were with me. An excellent place to die, I thought and felt. I had been alone for so long. It was good at that point to die alone.

Yet, when I reached the edge of the outcropping, ready to cross that flimsy border of safety, I found I was unable to move any closer. The dizzying height, the frigid air, the snow that had followed me as I trod on. Frozen in heart and mind, I was buffeted in indecision that lasted through the freezing night.

Just as the morning sun began its rise, my knees and lower legs wobbled. I grew unsteady, leaning precariously in the direction I needed to go. Wanted so desperately to go. A strong upwind slapped me in the face, sending me back instead of forwards.

I sprawled on the outcrop through the light of the day. Movement was beyond me. I tried, failing every attempt. As the day dwindled away, I let the darkness envelop me in whole. All the pride I still had fled, my resolve punctured. Emotions were stripped away in one swoop. I was unmade.

The night sky was brilliant when I finally opened my eyes anew.

“I am not worthy of joining you. I see that now. I can wait. I can still remember.”

Hunger growls drew me out of the remembrance. Loud, but not loud enough to rouse the two left behind. My steps towards them were but feathers.

Upon The Trolls Tongue, I feasted well.

May those who come searching for them travel with speed.

 

 

 

Samhain

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Samhain

by Stuart Nager, 8/4/20 ©

Macha opened eyes that were not hers.

She found herself walking. Surrounded by a small grouping of Cailes, eight in number. All were of strange dress, some masked, others showing painted skin, akin to animals she had only heard of. They chattered, giggled, hugged one another, ran, and chased. Five were on the verge of womanhood; three already had crossed that threshold. The body she wore was one of those three.

Yelling far ahead startled her, but for a moment, for it quickly turned to wild laughter. Macha the Virago, a warrior woman of deed, wife of dead king Nemed, held tight. These were the young of this land. These were not the noise of battle, cries of the Formorians advancing on her people with slaughter on their lips. This was not the call of her people to fight. They were not the sounds of their death throes. Those sounds invaded the soul and heart of the Caile she rode. As was her death. Macha was on the last of three intonations when the Formor sent a spear through her breast. Her body lay on bloodied dirt as the last word touched her lips.

Macha stopped.

Her breath, her heart, her body; nothing overtly stirred as her insides tugged at the container that she had invaded. A soft hand was placed on her shoulder. Looking over, this was a raven-haired Caile, whose eyes took her in. She spoke, whispered a name-twice-as Macha realized that was this Calile’s name.

“Dana,” she paused. “Dana!” Their eyes met. “Are you ok? You just stopped. Dana. Hey. Knock knock. Hello? You were the one who wanted to go trick or treating. Hey, are you ok?”

Macha caught every speeding word that…Ali. Ali churned out. Dana/Macha nodded her head. Her answer-Dana’s answer-staggered out of their shared mouth.

“I am. I’m. I’m fine, Ali.” Macha added a smile to Dana’s face. Ali’s face relaxed at hearing this, and her bunched in shoulders opened.

Macha winced as Ali threw her arms around her torso, pinning her arms. Her hands clawed in response, an intonation traveled from mind to lips. It stopped there, claws became hands, and Dana accepted the hug. She returned it.

“Hey. Go find a room,” the tall redhead called out as she walked towards the two. Jill. “C’mon. Halloween is here, babe. Let’s get some of the goodies!”

The word meant nothing to Macha as Jill and Ali linked arms with her, dragging her along. The three caught up with the others. Halloween. Dana was no help here as she was eating something delightful.

Macha looked up at the darkening skies as Dana chewed. She continued to be swept along from door to door, filling up the bag Dana had brought with her. As night truly arrived, all the girls started singing, walking to Jill’s house for the night. Dana didn’t know the words to a monster mash, so she stayed back a few steps from the others. Ali remained at her side, singing.

Macha took another look up to the stars. Her eyes twinkled. The smile on Dana was Macha’s. Ali took Dana’s hands, dancing around in a circle. They both would up laughing on the lawn outside of Jill’s home. Dana, then Ali, laid prone, heads almost touching, and stared at the stars.

Dana pointed to a group of stars that were still on the rise.

“The Seven Sisters.”

“What?”

“There. There, Ali, look. At the highest point. The grouping of stars. The Seven Sisters!”

Ali looked to where her best friend pointed, but couldn’t tell one star from another. She was just glad that Dana sounded like Dana again. Ali rolled over onto her side so she could look at Dana.

Macha didn’t notice. The Seven Sisters held her in their embrace.

“Samhain. All hallows eve. The dead shall rise. Halloween.”

Ali was asleep beside her. Macha shed tears, finding herself at the center of her life, in a world she would have to learn.

What better time of year to awaken. Macha the Virago: warrior woman; attle fury; The Phantom Queen. Macha died but has returned.

Woe to the ancestors of the Formorians.

Macha has returned.