Category Archives: Improv Writing

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

Deciding to get lost, in Paris: Psychogeography, Qu’est-ce que ç’est?

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DECIDING TO GET LOST, IN PARIS: Psychogeography, Qu’est-ce que ç’est?

Author’s Note:

Usually, this appears at the bottom of my posts. I’m never really sure if any of you read them. I’ve asked numerous questions that get little to no responses. C’est la vie?  Je ne sais pas.

This came from a #FF Prompt:  Psychogeography on the Fiction Can Be Fun blog.  I’ve mentioned the blog a number of times, as well as its creators, Debs & David. They are co-writing a novel that I can’t wait to get my grubby mitts on. I met them a few years ago during one of the April AtoZ Blog Challenge. If you are new to my world, click on the links. FCBF is always a good read, and the AtoZ challenge is a gratifying, if not sometimes nerve-wracking, feat to achieve. I’m grateful to have gotten to become friends with Debs, David, and Arlee (the creator and curator of the AtoZ Blog Challenge).

For full details on Psychogeography, I strongly suggest three sources to discover this brand new term (to me) is all about. Click above on the FCBF link. Then, click on Icy Sedgwick’s blog. You want folklore, she’s got it. Podcast included.

Third: Google. It does a mind good.

Basics: Imagine a place you’ve visited, or wanted to visit, or make it up, but only traveled by WALKING. No transportation of any type except by your feet. Take in the details. Describe them. Show, don’t tell, gets mixed around here, depending on how you are approaching this: Fictionally or Non-Fiction. You, or your character, is viewing through the lens of Psychology & Geography. Emotions? Details? Epiphanies? Your choice. To join in, please click on Fiction Can Be Fun  and read the “rules.”

I decided to get lost in Paris on the fifth day of my vacation.

Every previous day had been planned out: the Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, Eiffel Tower, Rodin’s house and gardens, traveling on the Seine, Notre Dame (pre-fire), following a lengthy trail of Monet art, the Moulin Rouge/ Montmartre  /Place Pigalle. Those were all on my checklist.

Deliberately, I set aside one unorganized day to freestyle explore. No real destination, just walking the streets of Paris, taking in as much as I could. Noticing the architectural adversity of the past and the present. Cobbled stoned lanes crossing or connecting to paved roads.  

After a well-sustaining breakfast at the hotel, I set out with no map. Yes, I was living life dangerously: this was pre-Cell Phones, GPS, whatever. You actually had to talk to a real person if you were off course of your destination. Landlines and payphones the only way to connect beyond your immediate area.

I got on a train at the closest Metro station. Didn’t check where it was heading. First train I found, that was it. The car was reasonably full for a good portion of the ride. A lot would leave, a lot would replace them. Until the crowds lessened, and fewer people got on or off. I waited.

Next two stations, a few passengers left the train. Absolutely no one walked into emptying space. That was my cue to get off and explore the Paris above me.

I was met by paved roads, modernized buildings, and heavy Parisian traffic. I was used to that. Walking in arbitrary directions, I found what I wanted in a brief period: cobblestoned streets, a narrow road dotted with small shops, and relatively light on pedestrians. I crossed the main road and entered the Paris I had envisioned.

Colors were vivid, changing shop by shop. The décor varied as well, most embracing their past roots. I walked, turned corners on a whim, and headed into this, to me, a delightful maze of discovery. Clothing, bakeries, cheese shops, cafes, women’s clothing, men’s suits, every bit of finery well displayed, nothing ostentatious. This wasn’t Le Avenue des Champs-Élysées. I was glad of that.

I noticed a sign for a Picasso museum. Sold. As I made my way there, I found magic.

It was a dried flower shop. Shop doors wide open, arrangements on the outside of the florist shop, the many colors, the many weavings of this wild assortment of flowers, drew me in.

From the ceiling beams hung bunches of wildflowers drying, the stems pointed to the top. The aroma filled the store, a light mixture of scents that I hungrily breathed in. I was not very knowledgeable about flowers. The names, varieties, when they grew best. All that was lost on me.

It was the way each piece was crafted. How the shop could seem disjointed in its exhibitions. But, the more time I spent walking around the uneven aisles, noticing the varying levels of placements, the degrees of color shifting, I could never think of it as thrown together without thought. 

One-piece stopped me. A grouping of dried dwarf Red Roses, in the shape of a heart. I had begun dating a woman a short while before I left NY. We were at the point we both wanted to take the relationship further. We liked each other. A hopeless romantic, I purchased the arrangement. Well wrapped, I left with the package to continue on. A few steps from the shop, I looked back, seeing it all from a slightly different point of view. 

This was art on display, in a fitting setting, along a cobblestone road in Paris.

I continued getting lost, looking for more magic. 

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.

Take Love: Sonnet & Tanka

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TAKE LOVE: Sonnet

Unfilled to the deepest depths, ardor fails
Pushing love away, Pulls love back again
Games you play, yet I come, no magic, stale
Enchant me with ardor not constant pain.
 
See a Bee searching for pollen to thrive
Deterred of flower's unopened petals
Across barren fields, darting to survive
Sharp blade edged, pierced deeply among nettles.

Yet, still, betrayed by the memories shared 
Raptured embraces, hands entwined, we run
Kisses, smiles, our bed, enticed feelings bared
Blind to the vanishing you, soon undone.

Stagnant, I, bereft of your caring grace
The Bee wanders, black void drops into place.


TAKE LOVE: Tanka

Disdain withers love,

No give, only take;  heart speared

Putrefaction

Trampled flowers, compost tossed

Paths of dirt leading nowhere.

 

 

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.

RUN!

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RUN

© Vlad Gedroics

RUN!

SHE SAID RUN!

Shaking her head

Still,

SHE SAID RUN!

Her masking smile appeared

Magnitudinal weight dragging

As she

Felt her threads snarl and unravel

SHE THOUGHT RUN!

Tasting it.

Nibbling her way through

Dancing circles around

What

Gripped her and held.

SHE RUMINATED RUN!

Expanded

Drew in

Attempts

Withdrew

She

Escaped

SHE YELLED RUN!

 Keeping the pressure

Stoked inside

Flowing past self-built walls

Ripping away constraints

SHE YELLED RUN!

Running

Forward

Running

Freely

Running

Powerfully

Running

Until

She no longer had to.

She sings RUN!

As she

Passes the baton along.

 

⊇⊆ ⊇⊆ ⊇⊆ ⊇ ⊆ ⊇⊇⊆

Author’s Note:

I organized a new Writers Group: DAYDREAMERS WRITE!: Prompts & Challenges.

It runs every Saturday morning from 10:00 am to Noon, EST. 

No matter the level a writer you think you are, all are welcome. 

The two hours are split:

  1. 10 to 11 is the first prompt.

  2. At Noon: Another prompt WITH a challenge. It changes every week. 

  3. Both Sessions: 25 mins to write;  30-35 mins for Sharing & feedback

The above poem was the first prompt on Saturday, August 8, 2020

Most likely this group will remain in the Virtual World Community. 

Click on the above link if you would like to join in. Everyone is welcome. 

Stu

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

Standard

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.