Category Archives: Heroine

HUZZAH!

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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

 

Yakshinis Offering: Nightmares from and Unbleached Soul, AtoZ Blog Challenge

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Y2020

NIGHTMARES FROM AN UNBLEACHED SOUL

YAKSHINIS OFFERING

What is desired most?
Yakshinis need to know
Love, greed, or spirits raised
Yakshinis endure inside the Ashoka Tree

Avni ran in a frenzy desperation
From the news that came her way
Avni cried deep without cessation
Nitesh, her love, passed this very day

With mudded feet, a soaked saree
Avni's heart battering, at a rapid rate
Finally she stood at the bole of the tree
A branch held her up as she rued Nitesh's fate

What is desired most?
Yakshinis need to know
Love, greed, or spirits raised
Yakshinis endure inside the Ashoka Tree

Offering up the tributes, of camphor and ghee
Avni sang the mantras, performed the rituals
Vichitra, the lovely one, emerged from the tree
"O, my dear Avni, what desire did you choose?

"Please, oh please, bring Nitesh back to me"
Vichitra fades away as Shankhini takes her place
"Avni is this truly desired? He was taken by the sea."
A softly spoken "yes," said with reverent grace.

What is desired most?
Yakshinis need to know
Love, greed, or spirits raised
Yakshinis endure inside the Ashoka Tree

Thirty-six Yakshini materialized, facing Avni
Each gesturing above her body's sacred space
Glowing fronds from all alighting successfully
Vichitra glided to her, placed a hand on her face.

"Avni, with remorse we could not honor your plea
Yama, God of Death, commands Nitesh stay. Yet,
Nitesh beseeches for his essence returned to thee
Which we have done for the child the heavens sent.

What is desired most?
Yakshinis need to know
Love, greed, or spirits raised
Yakshinis endure inside the Ashoka Tree

"She will be balanced, the desires we bestowed
Nitesh loves you, and forever more
His essence runs through her, his energies flow
For this child, who is Bimala, One who is Pure."

Foliage keeps dying, cycle of life renews
The Ashoka Tree, green throughout the years
Avni passes on, her time was overdue
Sharing Nitesh's inner core with her mother dear.

Yama escorted Avni to Nitesh
One held the other; one breath they achieved
For she was always his earth
And he her heartbeat

For she was forever his earth
He her heartbeat, Eternally. 

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

X, Y, Z are usually the tough ones on the AtoZ Blog Challenge. This year’s Y almost broke me. It took a long time to put this idea into life. More could be said, but less is more. Most of the time.

My theme for this year’s AtoZ Blog Challenge is: Nightmares from an Unbleached Soul. 26 lyrical poems during the month of April (no Sundays). It started on April 1st and ends this Thursday on April 30th. After that, a week or two later you’ll be able to find Reflections on the experience. I hope you found new blogs to like and follow. If you still wish to, go to The Master List.

I’ve asked a few questions along the way: what genre of music you think suits the lyrics best? Who or what style of music was in my head when I wrote these? My last one for the week:

  1. Why Nightmares From An Unbleached Soul?  
  2. I’m curious.: How do you interpret it
    1. for yourself?
    2. why do you think I chose that as my theme title?

    MUSICIANS, or people who know musicians, hear my call I would love to find someone to collaborate with. Not every one of the 26 Lyrical Poems are winners, I know that. Many will need some tweaking if I take this further. I would just love to hear some, or all of these, put to music. Anyone knows, please email me.

Comments are always welcome.

Withering Heights

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WITHERING HEIGHTS

The dawn broke in a ribbon of grays and burnt reds as Cathy stood upon the cliff, her gaze fixed on the distance, obscured by the haze of the morning refractive light. She pulled her off-white shawl tight over her shoulders, then cinched her leather tooled belt to the gasping point in an attempt to ward off the chill of the lingering night air. A shiver ran through her chest, startling her eyes to a downward glance, her teeth ground tight to prevent their chattering. A sob tried to escape, but, firmly lodged, it choked her to silence.

“It’s me. Cathy,” she whispered, near inaudible.

Far below, the sea foamed, crashing up and against the abstract of rocks jutting out of the waters. Cathy found herself taking a step back, then another. Wind whipped up with force, hitting her so that her hair became unbound, freed as if from a practiced hand. Her auburn strands danced out, up, and around, swaddling her freckled face, her eyesight obscured.

Wind and hair subsided as fast as it had thrashed up. She let her tresses lay where they fell, clenching her shawl even tighter in her too white fingers. Cathy allowed free passage of the wetness flowing down, past her nose, cheeks, and chin. Her right hand wanted to wipe them away, but it remained where it was in the folds of the once warm fabric.  She knew she was not now alone on the crags.

He was behind her. She felt he always was.

“Cathy.”

Her name drifted over the mist that surrounded her, syllables riding between the dew drops in the moving air.

“Cathy.”

Her fleshed crawled with hundreds of raised bumps, ones never derived from any goose that shat upon God’s green pastures.

“Cathy,” and her heart skipped a beat, and then another. Her eyes closed against her will, lips parting, a web of saliva breaking as the distance grew. “Cathy,” and the voice implored her, begged, rose to a controlling pitch.

“Cathy. Call me. Say my name.”

She mouthed his name without a sound.

“Please,” seeped at her back, closer than it had ever been before. “Call my name.”

Cathy tried, but, in shaking, breathless, she did as he asked.

“Cthulhu.”

“Again,” he cajoled.

“Cthulhu!”; wrung out with tears.

“Now, Cathy, Now!”

Her voice cracked, merged with the violence of the waves from below and the returned force of the winds:

“Cthulhu!

Cthulhu!

Cthulhu!”;

And she fell onto the damp moss that had lied about her feet. It cradled her body, her clothing absorbing the moisture, her shawl laden with a mixture of this water from the morn and her streaming teary emissions.

Cathy locked her arms around herself, deep within the folds of her wear. Her knees drew themselves inwards, her chin burrowed into her chest, and the reddish hue of her hair hid her face, creating a darknet around her white, white skin.

A tentacled appendage glided gently under her still form, followed by another as the first gained a secure hold. Then another, and still another, until Cthulhu’s embrace cocooned Cathy. Lifting her into the air, Cthulhu’s face burrowed into her hair. He drew his arms around her, then.

Cathy smelled the salty brine of him. Licking her lips, her tongue swirled the sea waters from below that mixed with the tang of other dimensions, repellant and inviting.
She drew them in, letting this fill her throat in a trickle of infusion.

“It is time, Cathy,” Cthulhu purred. It was what she had come here, on this cliff, on this jagged height, to hear. She gave herself over, open to the void Cthulhu offered, his expanse, his otherness.

“Come,” he said.

“Yes,” she answered. “Yes.”

The waves crashed against, and consumed, the empty precipice.
*************************************************************************

Author’s Note:

A prompt was given at one of the writing groups I attend. In the space of 45 minutes:

“Write a story where you place a fictional character in the WRONG story.”

So, Withering Heights. Who is in the wrong story, or, is this the right story for the wrong reasons?

Obviously, well, to me, anyway, I drew on several literary reference points, as well as one literary musical place, for inspiration.  Care to break them down in the comments section?

Hope you enjoyed. BTW: this is my very first attempt at Gothic Romance/Horror. Yes? No? Maybe so? Let me know.

 

Reflections In A Car Mirror: #AtoZ Blog Challenge 2019

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#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary Reflections badge

26 Posts

A total of 36,061 Words

A Car In The Woods

Six years of participation. Six years surviving. Six years.

This year kicked my ass.

I’m not someone who outlines these things. Titles, maybe (i.e. the Road Signs year). I get the basic idea, like it enough, think I’ll get some mileage out of it, and go with it, peddle to the metal.

I originally planned to just do individual stories. The only through line connector would be the Narrator (the Present Day voice). My take on The Twilight Zone.But then…

Commenters got invested in the mystery. The clicking sounds. Then the Thunderbird. Finally, Patricia, Debra, and Tim. What started out as a Horror/Mystery series of lightly connecting pieces began to form a larger story. So, commenters, you may take credit for leading me in this direction.

I also began to care and think about the family.

Zeno the mutated frog was planned before I started. This is a real African frog known as the Clawed Foot. It does not have a tongue and makes a clicking sound instead of croaking. It can’t make the usual frog noise. AND: it was (is being?) used in many Biochemical labs as a test subject for a variety of reasons. I had my X post planned out, and the Z post.

Which changed drastically by the time I reached Z.

The Narrator was originally going to remain a mysterious “voice” in the woods, with Z being a more philosophical/paranormal pondering. Once I introduced Eddie, it felt right for him to take on that role. By the very end, and the reason why Monday the 29th’s post was delayed, I was having an intense inner struggle: let Eddie live to fulfill the role I was planning, or let him die and have someone else become the narrator.

Tim was a bit fragile, with all the trauma he went through. Patricia needed, I felt, a happier life. That left Debra, the smart mouthed, arm punching, take no shit Sister.

Eddie vs. Debra. A full day was spent with inner debates, and then a well thought out feedback email came along. Thanks, Melanie. If you are not familiar with Atherton’s Magic Vapour, you really should check it out.

I didn’t want to be predictable, but in the end I guess I was, based on the few comments I had at the end.

The posts were much longer than I should have written. The story took me where the story took me. Blog hoppers don’t always want to invest in long posts. Pop in. Hit the like button. Leave a comment here and there. Not this puppy. The lowest word count of the main story was 887 words (I on April 10th). The longest was the Y post, with 2,936 words. In case you’re wondering, I wrote the Z post’s 1,491 words the same day I wrote Y.

4,427 words. One day. I think I used up all the words in my head. The night was for vegging out.

The Saturday posts were hint drops for things as yet unexplained. Some were straight forward, most needed your thinking cap on to make the connections. I felt I didn’t have to hit the readers on the head with explaining every last detail. Sometimes solving things, or allowing your own mind to wonder, can be a great experience.

As for TB, there are clues scattered here and there about the T-bird. Red Thunderbird-4 was described by one reader as just gobbledygook. It’s the least straight forward of the Saturday posts, but read between the lines and look at the graphic inserts. Add that to the last week of stories and TB’s role.

I want to thank every single person who read, liked, and commented on the day-to-day posts. This is what stirred me on, made me think, and really boosted a confidence that needed a lot of boosting. Congrats to everyone who completed, or attempted, this years Blog Challenge.

Big thanks to all the hosts of 2019’s AtoZ Blog Challenge:

Arlee Bird (founder) @ Tossing it Out
J Lenni Dorner (captain) @ Blog of Author J Lenni Dorner
Zalka Csenge Virág @ The Multicolored Diary

John Holton @ The Sound of One Hand Typing

Jayden R Vincente @ J R Vincente Erotica Writer

Jeremy Hawkins (graphics) @ Hollywood Nuts

Final Words:

Is this story done? Are there questions you still have, threads you feel I didn’t tie together?  Why did I choose the titles for each piece? Thoughts, comments, Agents who you think should read this? I’d love to hear from you.

There’s a car in the woods.

Link To AtoZ Reflections Sheet

And to finish this out, the following are 10 Reasons Why I Hate You

10 Questions To Answer:

  1. What did you love about the challenge this year?
    1. As always, getting my creative juices flowing & finding new blogs to read/follow
  2. What would you change about it?
    1. Group the Master List by categories, as we’re asked to choose where our blog fits in.
  3. What was the best moment for you during this year’s challenge?
    1. The comments of those who really followed my complicated story line.
  4. What is the best comment your blog got during the challenge, and who left the comment?
        1. First Post: “Excellent start, Stu. Almost David Baldacci meets Stephen King. Expertly narrated.” by Varad
        2. Last Post: “Fantastic story. Had me riveted to my seat on every entry. Well done.” by Harvey

       

  5. Will you do the challenge again?
    1. Most likely. Depends where my head is at next April
  6. Was it well organized and were the hosts helpful? (Did you fill out the after survey?)
    1. Survey Says: It’s done. This year, the main AtoZ page was a little hard to navigate. Took too many tries to find things. i.e. Master List
  7. How did you and your blog grow, change, or improve as a result of this challenge? Did you find new blogs out there to enjoy?
    1. The more I write, the better I feel my storytelling gets. Each year has its fans, but I really pushed myself this year, and I think it shows.
  8. Were you on the Master List? (If you did the challenge last year, was it better this time without the daily lists?)
    1. Yep I was. I do with we saw the deletions as previous years. Winnows down searches.
  9. Any suggestions for our future?
    1. Throw us a curve-ball: Start the month with Z, work out way to A. Something.
  10. Any notes to the co-host team? A word of thanks to Jeremy for all his hard work on the graphics?
    1. As always, thank you. The graphics were excellent. Thanks.

 

 

That’s All Folks. Comments are always appreciated. Did you like my April output? Are there things I left open that still leave you puzzled? Who wrote the book of love? Just want to say “Hi Stu!”?

Enjoy

Zeitgeist Auch Weiterhin:#AtoZ Blog Challenge

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A Car In The Woods: Chapter Twenty-One and an Epilogue

2019 AtoZ Blog Challenge

New? This is a serialized work. Please start on A: A Car In The Woods

AtoZ2019Z  ZEITGEIST AUCH WEITERHIN

1970

TB raced down the corridor when we hit bottom. She raced to what I called the Star Trek Med Bay. Just no Bones there to help. Dad directed us to medical beds, which buttons to press, he clicked a few different patterns, and we stood back and watched as the Med Bay took over. Dad made sure Tim’s “pod” was secure before he let his own close and do its own mojo. I still call it Med Bay.

Schatzi had her own chamber. We stopped there before moving on. Dad clicked whatever command he had to give. Schatzi came over for hugs and scratches, and when the door swooshed behind her-Star Trek, again-TB continued.

Just before he went under, Dad told me to look for his journal, giving me explicit directions and making me repeat them back to him and the secondary code I’d need. I don’t click, so that code was important for me. Plan ahead. Another training lesson he drilled into us.

Mom and Will were comforting each other until got the wanderlust. Mom gave him a kiss and asked him just to check back every half hour or so, in case either of them came out of their shiny chrysalis crypts. I called them that before I left to find Dad’s journal. She gave me The Look. I was out of the room pronto.

It was exactly where he told me it would be, and the code worked. Easy-peasy lemon squeezy. I laughed at this Britism that I picked up the previous summer I spent in London. I brought the Journal and all the loose papers it sat on back to Med Bay. Mom was crying, and after a big hug I let her be and sat down on the floor just beside the swoosh door.

I read. I double checked what I had read. The papers were a mish-mosh of memos, letters, orders, and notes all with REDACTED stamps over names, dates, and exact locations. Very frustrating, but I got the picture. Took a bit, but I got it.

Wish I had never read the damn thing.

All the horrible things that were done to their “specimens.” They were looking for that next best weapon, animals first, then dolphins and other sea life, then birds and reptiles. That’s where Zeno emerged from. Damn nuisance is still out there. All the 25 labs worked with different creatures, testing different drugs on them.

But control was an issue. That’s when they went electronic, morphing the surviving into monsters. Schatzi…

Then humans. Super Soldiers. Dad wrote that some of the lab workers called him and the others their Captain America project, but never in hearing distance of their superiors. No sense of humor, he said.

Drugs came first, and relentless. Next body modifications, all starting with what he called The Insert. It got implanted in their chests, a bypass channeled to an arterial vein, and perpetually run by the heart. The clicking sound originally was a sick joke by one of the techs who knew the noise from Zeno bugged the shit out of most of the heads of the lab. That it worked on other levels for the Taken was an added bonus for the BGE-WD. They insisted that all Inserts would be modified to include the feature.

A number of those who already had the implant didn’t make it. Dad never found conclusive numbers.

The revolt that was begun by the Aggressors and finished by Dad and other Taken survivors was brutal. No prisoners. Dad and another Taken tapped into communications with the other labs. Specific clicks were sent out, coded in a way that only other augmented could process them. BGE never had a full translation vocabulary. They thought they did and they died being wrong about that. About a lot of things.

Each Lab’s Taken first took down the lab rats, the scientists, and any military personnel they found. The next mission was to eliminate the Aggressor units. They were a danger to the people above and had been boasting, in each and every lab, what fun they would have topside.

Lab #4 ended up as a bloody mortuary. Both sides died trying to eliminate the other. Four of that labs’ Aggressor’s survived and made it out. TBG-that bastard Gary-thought he had killed my dad, but he didn’t do the job thoroughly.  They all had a healing factor, but they could die. One of Dad’s paper packs talked about Nanoscience. I’m still trying to wrap my head around that. Star Trek thingy again.

When he could, he made it to Medical, hoisted himself in, and, according to the machine’s records, five weeks later he was released. He rummaged all sections of the lab, finding files and more in different places. A lot was missing. He found a shit load of shredded paper in a room full of computers. Most of them were broken during the revolt. The few that worked didn’t offer enough information, and no two of them shared the same data.

Dad went on the hunt for the Aggressors. According to one of Dad’s journal entries, they were compelled to stay within a certain distance from the lab. They did. He got two of them early on, bringing their bodies back to the lab with the help of TB and Schatzi. Doris, the only surviving female Aggressor, took much longer to find. Schatzi took care of her.

TBG came looking for Dad. His mistake. End of his story.

Dad lasted another year. Tim and I got in all the time we could with him, taking turns for our alone time with him. His injuries were too many and too severe. He needed more help than the Med Beds could supply. Mom had visited with him throughout the year, but she always left crying on the lift with TB. TB recorded it, as she recorded everything she was involved in. I found them stored in a side room with thousands of tapes and cassettes. Dad told me where to look.

When he finally passed.

When he finally passed, we buried him in the middle of the lift tunnel. TB had her own codes we knew nothing about. The lift stopped, a couple of clicks, and a side in the wall opened: just the right amount of room for a body. It was coated in some sort of metal, and there was an airflow that Tim found. We all agreed this was best. No random finding. We’d know. That was enough.

I stayed home, almost finishing my degree at a state university. Tim comes down and plays with Schatzi and goes running around with her. They both chase Zeno. Schatzi almost caught that frog a couple of times. Tim swears it looked like they were just playing a game with each other.

He started seeing someone. He won’t tell me or Mom who, yet. We’ll get it out of him, the brat.

Mom and Will are happy together, which is important. She started a training program with Will. He loves it. I join in as much as possible.

At this point, I really don’t know why I’m in school. No subject is catching me. I’m not seeing anyone. I have a few of the old friends who stuck around, but…eh. I’ve reread Dad’s journal so many times I have most of it memorized. Tim and I found some more loose papers around the lab as we explored while Dad slept. I added them to the pile.

I don’t even know why I’m writing all this down in Dad’s journal. He wrote a lot, but it’s a big journal. I knew he wouldn’t mind my scribbling thoughts.

Future me, if you’re reading this someday, maybe you can find a way to let me know something.

What the hell am I supposed to do?

Debs

Epilogue

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Present Day

Hadn’t read the journal in years. Didn’t think I needed to.

Guess I did.

Old me, things were only going to get worse. Still are doing that.

The other Taken? They got their Aggressors one and all.

I know. I checked.

This land is not anywhere near where we were in 1970.

Many of the Taken got angry. Angrier.

Some were caught and made “wards” of the military states.

Others still roam free. Lots of death and destruction.

Around the world.

Tim’s married with kids. Mom and Will are retired. All happy as can be today.

I hunt the Taken. I’ve killed a lot of them.

More need to go.

Almost all of them offered useful intel.

That’s what the hell you were meant to do, past me.

Me behind the wheel of TB, Schatzi hogging the back seat.

We hunt.

There are still cars in the woods.

 

The End

 

Gentle Into Night: #AtoZ Blog Challenge

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A Car In The Woods: Chapter Five

2019 AtoZ Blog Challenge

 

AtoZ2019GGENTLE INTO NIGHT

1963

There was a car in the woods.

Schatzi was standing at the edge of the grove. She was barking continuously, growling in turns, but she would not advance any further. Timmy finally caught up to her, got down on his knees, and threw his arms around her. Deb was not far behind.

“Schatzi, stop barking. Schatzi!” Deb yelled out as she approached. Their dog went belly down, whimpering cries replacing the barks. It wasn’t until she came up behind Timmy that she saw.

“Oh shit,” she said, covering her mouth with her right hand. “Oh, shit. Don’t. Don’t start with me, Timmy. We have to get out of here.”

Timmy, focused entirely on Schatzi, was stroking her head. “Shh. There, girl. Relax. I’m here.” Deb put her left hand on his shoulder. “We’re here. Shh. Shh.”

“Timmy, we really really really need to get out of here.”

Her hand squeezed, Timmy yelped, and then he looked up.

“Oh. Wow.”

The cherry red Thunderbird was facing them. Timmy stood, and Schatzi followed suit. Tail tucked, she growled, staring down the car.

“Is it?”

“I think so,” she answered. “It’s the TBird. Timmy, c’mon. We’ve got to…”

The engine came to life, revving in place. The sound increased, tires spinning out on the patch of ground it was on. The smell of burning rubber and oil filled the area, choking the three of them.

“Deb,” he choked out, “there’s no one there.”

The convertible roof rose from the half closed position and smoothly dropped open. The revving continued, building in stationary speed. Clouds of dust started to rise around the car.

The driver’s door opened.

Schatzi hurtled towards the car. Deb and Timmy yelled out at the same time, but Schatzi didn’t alter her attack. Teeth bared, she dove through the open door. As her teeth sunk into the seating, she ripped away at the leather red and white. She tore out a chunk of the backrest. With the speed of the revving the roof closed, the door slammed shut, and the howl that came from the interior of the Ford pierced Timmy’s heart. Deb was streaming tears.

It had happened so fast that neither had time to react. Timmy tried to rush forward, but Deb held onto him tight.

“Let go of me. Let go!”

She was stronger, but Timmy was working on pure adrenaline. Just as he came free, a shooting wind sent the dust into a frenzy, kicking it up and, covering the entire area. When she wasn’t coughing her lungs out, Deb had the image of the last snow story, coming down so heavy it was nothing but a wall of white. She wrapped her arms around her brother, pulling him close, and turned their backs to the car so the flying debris was not in their faces.

“Deb, let go. Deb. Let. Go!”

Her arms opened, slowly. The wind was dying down, allowing the dirt and grit that had been airborne to fall back to earth. They turned to look at the car.

Trees, torn up grass, glinting ice on the outskirts. This they saw.

But no car.

But no Schatzi.

~~~~~    ~~~~~    ~~~~~    ~~~~~

Patricia left the hospital against the doctor’s wishes. Sheriff Will’s wishes as well. He had deputized a whole mess of townspeople to search for her kids. He knew Pat; there was no way she was going to stay in the ward as long as she could walk. She just got in the front seat of his Fairlane, and that was that.

As they were hitting the roads to add to the search, the radio squawked every other minute or so. Every report came back with a disheartening “No.” Pat didn’t say much as she devoted her energy to looking where they dovetailed off the road. It hadn’t helped that the wind drifts covered any broken snow.

The tree that had waylaid them was gone now, cut up and making its way to the lumber yard. Pat knew they were there by the number of cars parked along the sides. Getting out, she took brief notice of the variety: Will’s deputies; townspeople’s private vehicles; and a brief shock of State Troopers in the mix.

The Sheriff got an update from one of the Troopers, and Patricia got an earful from those taking a break. She asked where they looked, how far out they went, did they see any tracks, any signs. The same bleak responses fell on her heart.

A final question made most folks uneasy, some sad, but all gave Patricia a side look when she left them to talk to another grouping.

“Did you notice, or see, anything out of the ordinary?”

Patricia and the Sheriff joined a group just heading out again. They were all carrying things the kids might need, if. Patricia steeled herself, didn’t cry out, didn’t make a scene, but that needless “If” was a sore that ate away at her as they walked and called out.

The sun was bending to the west when the walkies-talkies sang out. The kids had been found and were alive. This was repeated along the searchers. A huge mixed yell of happy acknowledgment rang through the trees. Pat and the Sheriff started to run once they got the whereabouts of the rescue. The others raced alongside.

The kids were bundled up in blankets upon blankets, drinking hot tea from thermoses brought just for them. A small bonfire was roaring, giving off just enough heat. Behind them was the ravine with their dead Chevy.

The three of them met in a flying bear hug. Timmy “ouched” but he didn’t break free.

“Mom,” he said. “Mom. We didn’t know what happened. We…”

“We went looking for you. You’d been gone way too long. I was…we were afraid something might have happened to you.” Deb looked and saw the bandage that peeked out from the wool cap her mother was wearing. “Oh, something did happen.”

Patricia didn’t answer. She kept hugging, kissing them on their foreheads, rubbing their backs, and the moisture in her eyes did not quit for a second.

“Let’s not talk about what happened to me until later. Some things happened that I have to think about; try to make sense out of.” She paused, realizing someone was missing.

“Schatzi. Where’s our girl?”

Deb started to tell her what had occurred. Timmy was reluctant to say anything, his head hanging low. He got elbowed and interspersed the details as best as he could.

“We searched. Couldn’t find anything besides the stirred up dirt. Deb and I backtracked, got lost once or twice, but we found the car.”

Deb continued. “It was cold in the car. We scrounged up two of Schatzi’s blankets, one hidden under the front seat, the other squished in the back. Our best find: a box of long matches from one of our cookouts during the summer. Timmy and I searched for dry wood. It wasn’t easy, but there was a grouping that worked just fine. Cleared the snow with our feet built the wood up, and started the fire.”

“Deputy Doug said he saw the smoke. That’s how we got found.”

“Sweeties, we need to get moving out of here before it gets dark.” Patricia’s face darkened. “Let’s put out the fire, grab your school books, and let’s get home. The Sheriff said he would drive us there.”

They did as she asked, no questions, no fighting, no stubbornness. Her heart felt shattered that they would be returning without Schatzi. “That’s two I’ve lost to this place,” she said to herself. “No more.”

Moving quickly, they reached the Sheriff’s car in no time. Almost all the cars had already left, getting the passed around good news. The remaining few gave Patricia and the kids long hugs; cheek kisses went around, hands were shaken. Timmy hated the kissing part, except when he got one from a classmate, Becki. He blushed and tried to hide. Becki just smiled.

Last to leave, the Sheriff turned the engine over and made sure all three were secure. The sun had been going down by this point. It was near dark. Putting the car into drive, he crept onto the road and headed to their home.

Everyone was quiet. Deb had nodded off. Timmy had his head leaning on the window, a sorrowful sight when the Sheriff looked in his rearview. Pat had scrunched down, head back on the car seat, staring at the interior ceiling.

“Rage, rage against the dying of the light,” she softly recited.

Sheriff Will gave her a side glance. He knew that poem. He and Pat had been in the same classes ever since first grade. High School they wandered off in different directions, but English class was one they shared in Senior Year.

Looking briefly, he noticed that Patricia’s head lolled to the side. “Good, she was asleep,” he thought. It’s been a rough day for her, if not a rough four years. He focused on the road as they made their way back.

“Rage, rage against the dying of the light,” Will repeated. He was glad to be leaving the woods.

Behind them, a chorus of clicking sounds blended with the settling winds.

 

Present Day

 What are those clicking sounds?

Where was the deadly red car?

And Schatzi.

Where was Schatzi? Was she?

There was a car in the woods.

 

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

The poem Patricia and Will  were referring to:

Do not go gentle into that good night

Dylan Thomas, 19141953

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

 

From The Poems of Dylan Thomas, published by New Directions. Copyright © 1952, 1953 Dylan Thomas. Copyright © 1937, 1945, 1955, 1962, 1966, 1967 the Trustees for the Copyrights of Dylan Thomas. Copyright © 1938, 1939, 1943, 1946, 1971 New Directions Publishing Corp.

 

TOMORROW, #AtoZ…A Car In The Woods

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A CAR IN THE WOODS

Imagine this…

A writer of blogs, caught in the web of his own making. Unaware of the passing of time.

April 1st didn’t loom.

It pounced, claws sharpened and out, eviscerating the calm he thought he had.

This was a writer with ideas, semi-plans, an insidious inner laugh that sometimes made its way to the surface.

What happens when said writer, so caught up in the travails of his daily life, his existence teetering on the edge of the basest of sanity and the fathomless abyss of madness and despair, is faced with producing 26 tales designed to strike deep in the souls of his readers?

Tune in April 1st, for he is about to enter…

63334-atoz2019tenthann

do do do do, do do do

 

Soul On Fire: #FridayFictioneers

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PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Soul On Fire

Karen knelt over the cooling body of her abuser. Last of the nine. She and Val had dug through the earthen floor together. Dug deep through the adobe layer until exhausted; dug until they found the gravel and rock base. Until they found stones large enough to be a weapon. If they had the strength.

Val didn’t.

When he finally opened the door he was startled by Val’s body at the entrance, where Karen had laid her out. The heavy rocks she wielded did their job.

Taking his cell, she stepped outside, smiled, breathed deeply, and cried.

She called 911.

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

Author’s Note: The title comes from a quote that I like:

The most powerful weapon on Earth is the human soul on fire~~~ Ferdinand Foch

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.

The Tod Chronicles: Book 4

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@Richard_Kadrey Prompt

The Tod Chronicles Book 4

I. The Dangling Participle

It was the best of Tods, it was the worst of Tods, it was the Tod of wisdom, it was the Tod of foolishness, it was the Tod of belief, it was the Tod of incredulity, it was the season of Tod Light, it was the season of Tod Dark, it was the Tod of hope and despair, Tod had everything before us, and Tod blew it all to hell.

“Thanks, Tod. And your stupid monkey thing too.”

That became the call of the people. The saying could be found on a huge, I mean huge, number of things. Cups, mugs, t-shirts, bumper stickers for your Space Vehicle, pencils, coasters (for drinks, not going up and downsy things), and it could even be found tatooed on certain parts of the body by those who were most miffed. Coke had to recall a wee bit over twenty billion bulbs of their product that had ‘Tod’ on the label.

Noone in the Acronym Research and Study Services knew who came up with the saying. TTAYSMTT was not the most graceful combo. It sent Ms. Belfar, acting head of ARSS, into a convulsive state upon its first appearance on a sign being dragged behind an FL 42U FE sky drone (otherwise known as a Fluffy).  TTAYSMTT, spoken, was a mouthful. Some headway was made when it morphed into TattysMit. The cool kids gave it the tweak it needed,  and “Ta-Tay!” became the flavor of the month and a half.

Ms. Belfar recovered soon after. She went into the Medial Circumference a wreck and came out engaged to Mr. Frank Bloom, the Circumference Custodian, and all around Dandelion Master. They will be hyphenated and brought to union by Commodore 71 on 210988 at 1500 hour of the clock, EST. The BB’s are registered only at acronym friendly stores.

“Ta-Tay!”, I mean Tod, was not happy about any of this. He wasn’t happy about what led to all of this: he was badly injured by the Man-Eating Space Ducks but, surprisingly, he survived; was eaten by a planet (whose name can’t be named due to legal issues) and summarily spit out by the (un)said planet; and finally escaping the clutches of a Galactic Orb Buster (Mrs. Belfar-Bloom was quite pleased with GOB) after infiltrating the GOB in three different disguises, and eventually vanquishing the intergalactic foe with the help of his quasi-simulated girlfriend Anouk and Darth, the stupid incontinent monkey thing.

Even with all this surviving stuff going on, Tod wasn’t happy at all at this point in his life. He definitely didn’t think he would survive this latest muck up. Just about everyone left alive hated him. Anouk and Darth weren’t quite sure at this point.

He had one job, and he incontinated all over it.  Push a lever here, press the three strobing globes in the correct sequence, and put Metal to the Peddle©™®. One job: the safety of the known universe.

If only he had a Spork ®.

How he messed up, partially atoned for the cataclysm that followed, lost his love then got her back again, and why that stupid Darth hid an ulterior motive in his bowls, are all part of this Narrative In Space (the NIS series, ARSS approved). It’s become my job to lead you on as the Narrator of the narrative.

Who am I?

I’m Jim. Welcome to my world.

Stupid Tod.

**Jim Notes: In case you missed that last three of The Tod Chronicles NIS series, the following blue letters below with jaunt you to their destination:

No Tod, You Just Lie There While I Fight The Man-Eating Space Ducks With A Spork

Mars Blows

Tinker Tailor Soldier Tod (Yanked off the shelves due to secretive thingies being worked out) 

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

The above pulp cover prompt was “altered” 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 story posts from Mr. Kadrey’s. So, yes, this is my writing, not Mr. Kadrey’s.

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, and really 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 his website: Richard Kadrey

Hippie Snowflake Revolution: by Blast Thunderpunch ( Stuart Nager)

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@Richard_Kadrey Prompt

Hippie Snowflake Revolution

by Blast Thunderpunch (aka Stuart Nager)

Prologue

~~~

Comrade Aleksandr “Moskali” Joneski broke the news just days before the revolution went live. It was first hand, no sources. He ran with what he knew, and it was a doozy.

He had infiltrated a Starbucks, ordering a Double Mocha Lite Latte with extra foam. His face contorted, teeth grinding away, he fixed his fake Millenial beard. It had been slipping off. The heat from the day was making him sweat balls, and it didn’t help that  the waiting line reached outside the hated cofevee place. He had already discarded the Man Bun part of his disguise; with nothing on top to hold it in place, he gave up after 22 tries.

Finally, his drink was ready. They got the fake name wrong, noticing this as he walked away to put ten packets of sugar in it.  He told the wench up front his name was Gerard. She wrote “Jerk.”

He slipped into the tail end seat of the communal table (“Ha!”, he thought) and sat. And sat, and drank. Sat and drank…and listened. Eventually, he had to use the restroom. When he came back his seat was gone. So he wandered, jockeying around for another spot. Towards the front of the store,  he heard the inflammatory words:

“So, what are you doing on July 4th?”

Pushing his way onto a stool, facing to the window, Aleks tuned into the discussion that was going on behind him.

“Oh, you know,” the pregnant tramp with the “Baby Bump: Drive Slowly” tee shirt said. “Food, drinks…fireworks!”

Aleks almost fell off the stool. This was it! Confirmation. He almost jumped up and yelled “J’Accuse!”, but he wouldn’t give the gay frogs the satisfaction. Instead, he hunkered down, taking a notepad and pen out of his shoulder slung Man Bag.

The bearded pot smoking revolutionary, who sat opposite the slut, leaned forward. Aleks saw this in the reflection from the windows. “Yeah, yeah. Fireworks, naturally. There’s gonna be a huge crowd. Best to get there early.” He paused.  “Is Alexandria going to be there?”

“Mayyybeee,” she said. Aleks saw a huge grin on her hateful face. “I know you have a thing. Does she know you have a thing?”

The libtard only shook his head back and forth, looking down into his large (not Trente! Large!) cup of iced treason. “Well, um, I don’t know. It might do more harm than good.”

Aleks was lapping it all up. Taking a sip of what remained of his drink, he spit it out. It was cold. As cold as their hearts, their allegiance to this great country. He was furiously writing everything down.

The trollop let out a piercing bark of a laugh. “Well, if you know what’s good for you, you’ll come along with us. Be loaded for bear: you’re not the only one with sights on her.”

He had to stifle the giggles that wanted to break free. “I knew it! I knew it!” he thought. “I would have pegged him for a godless gay; maybe this hippie chick isn’t a chick at all. Maybe she’s a…a he! An affront to my God. My god!”

She levered herself up; her coconspirator stood up with her. Aleks noticed they gave each other what he could only assume was a coded body message: they hugged, and then she patted him on the arm three times. Pat. Pat. Pat.

“You better be there,” she said to him, pointing her finger. “Time to man up and fight for what you want.”

“Fireworks. Food. Alexandria. Fight for it. Got it.”

Aleks put his pad and pen back into the Man Bag and started to follow them out of the store. He noticed they went left onto Lexington, and then were turning left onto Concord.

“Hey, man, it’d help if you cleaned up after yourself. People here aren’t your slaves, you know.” The so-called man he had sat next to during all this piped up as he was trying to leave. Probably a Jew.

“Not yet they aren’t. Not yet.”

BREAKING: Democrats Plan To Launch Civil War On July 4th

 

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

Author’s Note:

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

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