Category Archives: Infatuation

Todd, Summoning

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ChairandChisel

©ChairandChisel

TODD, SUMMONING

Elwina, blood cousin, thrice removed, of the albino prince of the Dragon Isle, grasped Hellbringer, the Demon Sword, in her ebon armored right hand. The armor gleamed, polished and pristine. Eldritch black sparks cascaded down her left arm, fist raised on high.

High being optimum, standing at just over seven feet. With those heels? Ahem.  I had to stretch my neck back to see if another weapon was being equally grasped. Nope. Just her fist, which was formidable enough as is.

I had done the Sacred Dance of Interpretation, sacrificed the Two Glazed Legs of a Chicken (they were yum), and dropped a drop of Ceremony Wine into the Silver Chalice of The Dead God. Poof! She appeared. Angry, but she was here.

I had summoned here in the dungeon cell of my place of habitat. Twenty foot ceiling, plenty of light pouring through the barred high windows, and wall to wall Enchanted Weeping Stone. The black shag carpet was a nice touch; mother did well in that respect.

Elwina stamped a mighty thump on the carpeting, which wasn’t the effect I think she was going for. It was followed, though, with a booming, echoing voice, amplified by the curly-cue helmet she wore.

“Todd, Master of the Flickering Candle, Supreme Master of the D20, Devourer of Smoked Meats, Keeper of the Chilling Collectables, and Scion of Queen Yen-Tah,” she paused, whether for a breath or effect, then continued, “Why have YOU summoned me hence?”

“Um,” I stalled, bowing as far over as my cinched pants would allow. “Um, my lady, I do not think “hence” means what you think it means.” I unbowed. “You see, hence means…”

Her left sparkly hand was suddenly in front of my face, mere inches from my nose. As the tip of proboscis began to emit the aroma of a summer BBQ, I knew enough at that moment to not let the “Ouch!” leave my lips.

Bits of stone, from the walls, shattered, dropping onto the shag with her next words.

“Am I here to amuse you, Todd? Do you think I am a Jester?” Her already red eyes, glaring at me through her armored head, were ablaze. “Do I make you laugh?”

I felt my mustache and eyebrows singe.

“Chaos forbid, O’  twelfth Princess of The Dreaming City. Farthest thing from my mind. Please forgive my, um, basest of conjectures.” Bowing again, not as deep as before, because I wanted to keep an eye on Hellbringer, I added: “I am but discarded foliage adrift in a hailstorm.”

I waited, hoping I had abased myself just enough.

Elwina lowered her twinkling fist, at the same time slamming her demon sword into its scabbard. Not too gently, she pushed me back enough that I almost lost my footing. A few feet separated us now.

“Well?” The word bounced around the room. Thunder was in her voice. Very, very frightening.

“Methought, m’lady, um, you might behoove a simple, tiny request. A wish.”

She stood stock still and silent. I took that as a good sign. That, and Hellbringer was still sheathed.

“Tonight marks the beginning of the Centennial Celebration of the War That Should Never Have Been. The Dowagers of the WTSNHB have prepared for this eve for the last decade. Everyone who is anyone in Evermore will be there.”

“So?” Her hand went ever so quietly to the hilt of her damned sword.

I mumbled incoherently. My heart was in my throat.

She took off her helmet and through it at me. My shoulder throbbed. Better than it hitting me square in the face.

“My gods, are you a man or a slithy tove? State you wish. Now! What did you summon me here for, Todd?”

I was still rubbing my shoulder.

“Yeah, um, well…It’s a big night. An event. Happens only once a century.” Her eyes narrowed, a deep depression formed between her at the bridge of her nose. She swept a lock of her red hair out of her face, having fallen with the tossing of her helmet.

She stared.

I bowed.

“Um, Lady Elwin, would you do me the honor of accompanying me to this most illustrious ball?”

The silence that followed felt as if another century had passed before she spoke again.

“Are you, Todd, asking me on a date?”

I stood, looked up into her eyes, and nodded.

“About frigging time! Why do you think I spent the time polishing my best armor?”

Once outside, passing by my mother and assuring her I would be back at the appointed time, Elwina drew Hellbringer and commanded it transform itself into a Coach and Four.

We arrived at the ball fashionably late.

I did not make it home until a week later, but that is a tale best told at another time.

 

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Unraveling: #AtoZ Blog Challenge

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A Car In The Woods: Chapter Seventeen

2019 AtoZ Blog Challenge

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

AtoZ2019U  UNRAVELING

1963

Eddie drove the T-Bird down the southwest corridor. He had his orders and knew what to do. Eddie passed the car graveyard, 19 rusting hulks that were experimented on and failed. They had success with #20-the Chevy Thunderbird that Eddie was riding in. TB was the shorthand all of the Taken used.

Rolling onto a platform covered in artificial grass and, in this case, artificial ice was step one. Eddie put TB into neutral and nodded his head. The nod was the only signal needed by the unseen operator. The Chevy started to rise the 250 feet to the surface. Step two; check.

Activity was spotted in area 12. The capture of new subject material, human or animal, was imperative. Eddie knew why but didn’t care. His last procedure amped up his aggressiveness; the one before cemented his obedience. It was necessary. Eddie was too integral to terminate, even though he slaughtered two of the newer Taken. Gary was Eddie’s focus. They were just in his way. The room was gassed. Eddie awoke again on a slab. When released from his cell, Gary was nowhere to be found.

Eddie was completely in compliance.

The actual ground cover slid silently open, allowing the platform to take its place. The whir of the locking system was quieter than snow falling. Eddie put TB on Automatic, something new they cooked up below. He flipped a switch, activating pheromone dispersal around the and inside the Chevy. The dial next to it was already set to five: the number of scents that would attract most wild animals. Some humans. Eddie got out, left the door open, and moved into the woods.

TB sat idling.  The car radio clicked on, a dial search ran, and a Country station twanged out of the sole speaker. Eddie stopped moving, wanting to turn around, go back and shut it off. Shaking his head, he continued ghosting away, barking a short laugh. TB knew enough to turn off her radio once she sensed prey in the area.

Eddie went roving.

~~~~~    ~~~~~    ~~~~~

1968

Everyone was gone. Patricia and Will were on their honeymoon, driving further upstate. Will had never been to the Falls; Patricia had, but she didn’t say so. He was excited, charming, and loving. She patted his knee and moved her right hand to rest on his thigh. Will tried to move her hand back to the steering wheel, but it was back only seconds later. The third time he let it lay. He watched Pat while she stared at the road. She noticed, leaning slightly towards him, eyes still facing forward. Will leaned in, planting a few soft kisses on her cheek.

Later, when Will was the one driving, he got the kisses. Pat was unsuccessful in removing his hand from her thigh even once.

Debra and Tim made sure the house was spick-and-span before they took off. Tim was desperate, bugging his sister over and over, to leave and go search for their father and Schatzi. Debra would just say “Not yet” and continued to clean and nudging him when he slacked off. The garbage was bagged and placed in the bins in the garage.

“Now, Deb. C’mon. Before it gets too dark.”

She looked at her brother. What she saw bothered her a bit. Tim had the same manic look, the same rushing when he spoke, the twitch by his left eye that had finally gone away: this was the Tim of seven years ago. Debra was hoping all of that was gone from his life.

Seeing all that resurface is what drove her to keep agreeing to go with him into the woods. She wanted to keep her baby brother safe as he deserved. Debra wanted to believe her Dad and dog were out there. Wanting did not always mix with the reality of things.

They both donned thick wool coats, even though it was still warm out. Enough of their blood had been shed by the prickly bramble that was everywhere they looked. Tim found old work gloves for Debra. He put on his new black leather ones. Two flashlights, one non-rusted canteen filled to the brim with water, a pair of binoculars, and, unknown to his sister at the time, their father’s old handgun. Tim had kept it oiled and clean all this time. He knew how to shoot. When his mom and sis were out, Tim practiced far from where anyone could hear him.

They set out.

Two hours, give or take, before the sunset and the darkness enveloped the woods.

~~~~~    ~~~~~    ~~~~~

1963

Eddie found the Impala station wagon in the ravine. He checked: they were all alive. The need for new subjects was eating at him. Which one? All three? Eddie saw Schatzi in the back. It was too much. The need to bring someone back fought with who was before him. The inner conflict raged inside of his mind. He backed up out of the ravine, not taking his eyes off of Pat in the front.

He went stiff and numb as he waged a brutal battle against his conditioning. The realization of being controlled was the start. A thin crack in the wall they had built inside his mind, but still, it was a crack.

Hiding just close enough, Eddie’s augmented hearing heard their conversation. Hearing it meant it was transmitted to the lab. Eddie didn’t care. His heart did, though. His internal clicking began. Eddie ran further into the woods, his attention wavering until he got the unit to settle down. He stayed, hidden, becoming as still as the bark he leaned against, still able to see the car.

Pat climbed out of the pit, dusting the snow off of her. She found the tracks of the car’s journey and began to follow them. No kids. Advancing, he found them fooling around, Debra ordering Timmy around. Normal. The decision to follow Pat felt like the right thing to do.

He turned and began following her footsteps. He stepped in her indentations, walking only on the balls of his feet. A patch of ice demanded that Eddie had to look for where she went next. As he skated over the icy ground, he realized that he was holding something. He looked down.

His combat knife was in his hand. He had no awareness of drawing it out. He attempted to put it back in its sheath. Eddie fought with himself. Sweat began leaking down into his eyes. He stopped, focused, and finally, he heard the snap that bound the knife in.

The crack inside his head widened as Eddie continued after Pat.

~~~~~    ~~~~~    ~~~~~

Present Day

Nothing was as it should be.

Everything twisted upon itself.

Everything waited for things to straighten out.

Not everything did.

There was a car in the woods.

 

 

 

Parting Sorrow: #AtoZ Blog Challenge

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A Car In The Woods: Chapter Thirteen

2019 AtoZ Blog Challenge

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

AtoZ2019P PARTING SORROW

1968

Debra brushed some dandruff off of Tim’s shoulder and then fixed his tie.  He squirmed a bit but settled when he saw the moisture building in Deb’s eyes. Tim was glad his sister was home from college. He’d never say it, but he missed her.

“There, better than new.”

She punched her brother on the arm.

“Hey!”

“Hey, you. I’m sure you deserve it for something or the other while I’ve been gone.”

She smiled. He returned it. Together, they walked downstairs and out to the backyard where the ceremony was going to be held. In only a couple of hours, their Mom would finally wed Sheriff Will Kane.

Seven years after Eddie, Patricia’s husband, Debra and Tim’s Dad, disappeared. Seven years and the law pronounced him dead. A little over four years since Patricia went on a first date with Will. Bittersweet feelings had a starling’s effect over the festivities, mourning and celebration weaving in and out of the Kelly household.

The Army was appeased by the certificate, which helped financially. Patricia had scraped every penny, financial aid, and loans she could so Debra could get to college. With Tim getting close to leaving as well, Eddie’s pension release was a godsend.

She’d beaten the tearing inside of her from putting the petition forward with the state, and then going for the funds.  She still missed and loved Eddie. That was never going to change, she felt. But, Will made her happy, and she loved him. Here. Now. Patricia was the one who proposed. Will broke out into a face-splitting grin, held her, and said yes a thousand times.

The chairs faced away from the house towards the wedding canopy that Tim built, with Will’s help. He had gone into the woods to collect fallen branches, sturdy enough that, when assembled, would stand true. Patricia fussed when he’d go off to search in the woods, only leaving the kitchen window when she saw him return.

Tim had asked Deb if she wanted to help decorate the arbor when the wedding was a sure thing. He was already underway with the materials. He knew she kinda felt left out of things, but being hundreds of miles away would do that, and his asking made her really happy. Deb had decorated it with purple flowers and ribbons, their Mom’s favorite color. Looking the yard over, Deb was the one who light-bulbed a need Tim hadn’t thought of.

“Mom’s going to wear heels. I might, too.” She and Tim, again with Will’s help, foraged for flat, smooth stones. Over the last two days, and up to the near to last minute, they laid a mosaic path from the house to the Wedding Arch.

The guests started arriving, dropping off their gifts in the living room, food in the kitchen for the party afterward. Sam from the luncheonette was “catering” the majority of the fare, but he was light on the less greasy items. Everyone knew him. Side dishes, lots of vegetables, and desserts appeared to accompany his offerings.

Will arrived with most of his men. Tim was stone silent when he noticed a couple of State Troopers mixed in among them. He and his car were well known to some of them, especially these two. Will laughed when he saw Tim’s face, patted him on the back, and told him not to worry.

Today.

Debra went upstairs. Her mother’s room had finally quieted down. An hour earlier a mini whirlwind hit, makeup brushes flying, hair swirling up and around, a fog of hairspray making anyone inside and ten feet outside of the room cough like crazy. Debra critiqued the use of the spray, citing the recent Miss America protest as her stand to do away with this instrument of female torture. Patricia shushed Debra, shooing her out of the room right after she hugged and kissed her. They smiled at each other as she was leaving.

They smiled at each other when she returned.

“Mom. You look beautiful.”

“So do you, sweetie. So do you.”

Turning to the full-length mirror, Patricia looked herself over. She didn’t go for a gown this time; her parents had bought hers’ when she and Eddie got married. They, too, were gone now. With ample discounting in town, Patricia wound up with a graceful light grey dress, dotted around with small crystal inserts that sparkled when the light hit it just right. The dress, the hair, the makeup: she had to hold back the crying.

Debra already had some tissues in hand, just in case.

Coming behind her mother and hugging her, gently, she caught herself on the verge as well.

“I miss him, mom,” she said, a light tremor shaking her voice.

“Me too, sweetie. Me too.”

They broke and spent the next five minutes fixing their faces.

Tim knocked on the door.

“Hey, it’s time.”

“In a second, dweeb,” Debra called out.

“Hey!” Tim answered, needling his sister as he opened the door. After he was okayed in.

Patricia sighed, and smiled. “Next steps,” she thought, “and some things never change.”

Debra led the way as the bridesmaid; Tim walked Patricia down the aisle way. Everyone stood, followed them making their way to the back of the yard, and settled back down when a beaming William took Patricia’s outstretched hand.

The ceremony began. All eyes were fixed on the couple.

~~~~~   ~~~~~    ~~~~~

All eyes included the two pairs hidden among the brambles and trees surrounding the back yard.

A low grumble sound started by his side.

“Shh, Girl. Shh, sweetie.” His hand was stroking the sparse fur on top of her head. It was an instinctual movement. He couldn’t take his eyes off of Pat. He wanted to growl as well, but the freedom to do that had been taken away from him long ago. Things were different. The two of them were very different, now. They remained, watching, both fighting urges to rush forward, change outcomes.

It came to an end with a lingering kiss and all the guests applauding and yelling their congratulations. All except them. He watched as Pat and Will walked back towards the house. Then, he fixed on Debbie and Timmy.

He wasn’t sure which couple crushed him more.

“C’mon, Girl. C’mon. Time to go. We don’t belong.”

Girl whimpered, getting to all fours as he stood. His plan was to just fade away and get gone. His mistake was doing it backward, straining for any view he could stand.

A quick yelp; Girl had wormed her way behind and between his legs, and stepping on her tail wasn’t what he planned.

Patricia and Will had already entered the house. Debbie and Timmy were standing by the back door, guiding the guests in.

Tim thought he heard something. It sounded like something he hadn’t heard in way too long. His head snapped around to where the sound came from.

Their eyes met. Both froze.

By the time the word “Dad?” left Tim’s mouth, the woods were empty.

 

Present Day

Shh, Girl. Shhh.

Pat.

Debra.

Timothy.

There was a car in the woods.

Haight Expectations: #AtoZ Blog Challenge

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A Car In The Woods: Chapter Six

2019 AtoZ Blog Challenge

AtoZ2019HHAIGHT EXPECTATIONS

1967

Dr. Samantha Wander rarely lived up to her last name. She was content to live in the same area she grew up in, only venturing out of state during her college through doctorate years. Her psychologist Ph.D. in hand, she returned to her home town. It felt normal.  Her one-year post-doc internship took her to an adjacent county; she barely stood the daily travel. Attaining superb evaluation results, Samantha submitted all the necessary paperwork, and all the years of hard work were validated.  A place had been saved for her in her parent’s medical practice; her skills were needed.

Her best friend Vanessa was the polar opposite. She traveled every chance she could during their school years. Sometimes she was able to coax Samantha to join her; most times studies stood in the way. Vanessa went for the same degrees, same schools, and shared rooms with Sammy, her private nickname, throughout their educational escapades. Opposites in some ways, but exactly alike in their passion for the growing Cognitive Behavioral Therapy programs.

Vanessa went out to the west coast for her yearlong internship, promising Samantha she’d come back east after the year was over.

She didn’t.

San Francisco captured her completely, the lifestyle, the music, the climate; it claimed her, body and soul. She’d been putting the bug in Samantha’s ear to please come to San Francisco. There was a spot open in the clinic that Vanessa worked at, but it wouldn’t remain open for long. Haight-Ashbury was the place where it was all happening. Already, at the tail end of June, it was happening on overdrive, and doctors of all stripes were needed.

Samantha promised Vanessa she would think about it. Really think about it this time. The phone call Vanessa had made laid it all out on the table. “I need your scrawny-ass-red-headed stubborn self here. With me. Now. Stat! Pronto! Rápido! I’ll even put flowers in your hair!”

“I love you too,” she said, and they talked for a little while longer.

Samantha wrote out her pros and cons list as she did with every major decision. Putting her pencil down and pushing the paper away across the desk, Samantha swiveled her chair to face the window in her office. The street was the same as it had always been. The patients rarely varied, rarely advanced on the goals they set together, sometimes falling deep into the holes they kept digging for themselves. The hilly terrain, the abundance of trees: all the same, only morphing with the seasons.

As she shook her head, Samantha’s legendary exasperated sigh passed through her lips. Vanessa called it Sammy’s Sigh of Grand Despair.  She laughed at this, which drew other memories pouring in. Hugging herself, all she understood at the moment was that she was missing Vanessa, with a vengeance.

She told her parents about leaving that night, and the discourse went on long into the night. Coffee,  verbal pros and cons, more coffee, further debates, detailed analysis, some crying, some accusations, coffee, defeats, mild acceptances, and finally bed. By 3:23 am, Samantha was planning how she would let her patients know. She wanted to call Vanessa, give her the news, but felt some sleep was imperative to be able to face the morning appointments.

The day progressed mainly how she thought it would. Most understood, all wished her luck, and too many fell in upon themselves. A few went into mild hysterics, but they were able to calm down with Samantha’s help. She assured them that a replacement would be found before she left. Her schedule confirmed that she would see the majority of her patients over the week; the few bi-monthlies she would call.

The one she absolutely dreaded fell on the second day. Her expectations for that session were not very positive, given the history of their encounters. Lisa Davis had, and still was living, a very painful life. Abused by family, physically, emotionally, and though her juvenile records were sealed, sexually as well. Alcohol, sex, and physically releasing her anger were her coping mechanisms. She always picked up the “wrong guy” at one bar or another. More times than not, her encounters left her with bruises and torn clothing. A few times it landed her in the hospital.

Her temper was quick to rise and harder to quell, and she exacted revenge when she could. Tall and wiry, Lisa was in and out of trouble. Her last outburst landed her three months in county, followed by six months in a psych ward. Things settled down inside of her during those nine months, enough so that she was released on the condition she met the court-mandated twice-a-week therapy demands. One more incident, one more going over the line, and it was upstate prison time. She knew it.

Knowing it and caring about it were two different things.

Samantha thought she was prepared for a Lisa Davis outburst; they had been making progress, she felt, and her overall emotional roller coaster seemed to be leveling out. Samantha was wrong. Lisa was edgy when she arrived. Her father was putting demands on her, this time about money. Samantha did some heavy lifting in this session, with Lisa putting up roadblocks along the way.

Their session was almost at an end. Samantha had no choice but to tell Lisa the news so she wouldn’t hear it elsewhere. It did not go well. No matter how she presented the facts of her leaving, Lisa took it deeply personal. Deeply. Things escalated in a hurry. The hurt on her face, blaming herself, flipping it around against Samantha, her issues of abuse, abandonment, disrespect, getting used. Back and forth, back and forth. Every negative emotion overwhelmed Lisa. It finally built into a bursting, all-consuming rage.

Lisa leaped up off the couch. Tears were pouring down, her face turning a hellish red. All of her muscles were constricting and clenching, her hands drawn into vein-popping fists. Samantha bolted out of her chair, trying to make her way to the office door. The thrown framed diploma went flying past her, shattering against the door. Lisa jumped back at that and cringed as the coffee table, with the box of tissues, followed the smashed frame. The door was blocked off.  Samantha backed away slowly, moving behind her desk. She screamed. Lisa, lurching towards her, howled.

When the staff finally were able to make their way in, they stopped, gaping at the destruction.  Everything in the office was in disarray. Books, bookcases, wall hangings, furniture, and other odds and ends were strewn around the room. Lisa had her back to them. Her hands were wrapped around Samantha’s neck, pushing her back against the room’s window.

Samantha was clawing at the strangling hands, scoring rows of broken skins, rivulets of blood mixing together across Lisa’s hands and forearms. She was losing and knew it, her throat squeezed, the intense pain, the lack of incoming air. Through her protruding eyes, she saw her father run up, followed by other staff. It took a blow to the back of Lisa’s head and a kick to the inside of her knees to get her to drop her hands. Down on the other knee, Lisa started to lunge at the guy to her right.

She didn’t get that far. Samantha’s father had picked up the now broken brass desk lamp, swung it with angry force, and again connected with Lisa’s cranium.  She was down. The only sounds in the room were the gulping for air from Samantha. Everyone else was doing what they could to calm their ramped up hearts. Someone had already called the Sheriff’s office.

Her breathing became easier but painful. Samantha’s father led her out of the room, her mother joining them as they made it to the hallway. The Sheriff and his men arrived just Samantha and her parents made it to their car.  He walked over to them and got the gist of what happened. The Sheriff had other questions. Samantha’s mother put a stop to that. She needed the hospital, they could talk later, and the family got in the car and drove off.

It wasn’t until Samantha was being discharged that they found out that Lisa regained consciousness just before the Sheriff entered the office. She hauled off and punched him between the eyes. Really, really hard. Next, she kicked the closest deputy between his legs, tackling and tossing the other deputy out of her way. By the time all were fit enough, Lisa was gone. All law enforcement in the surrounding counties and the State Police were put on alert.

The Sheriff placed one of his men at the Wander house. Instead of feeling secure, Samantha was overwhelmed. She closed the door of her room, picked the phone up, and sat on the floor, back leaning against her bed. She called Vanessa, and the two of them cried through the telling of the events, ending with smiles they both could feel from the other over the phone line when Samantha told Vanessa her decision. The call lasted a while; plans were made. Vanessa was supportive and encouraging.  She regaled Samantha with all the things she would experience when she arrived at the Haight. The Love In happenings.  Live music everywhere. A peaceful stampede of hippies taking over the streets. Acceptance from the young; intolerance from the Hawks.  “It is so alive,” she said.  “We can be. Alive. We can do what we are meant to do, meant to be. You and me.” Samantha listened to it all, interjecting enough so Vanessa knew she was already with her in spirit.

A shiver ran through her, her mind taking her elsewhere. This all sounded wonderful to Samantha. Yet, it was drowned out by one consuming thought:

Lisa was still out there.

 

Present Day

A not so pretty picture was painted that day. Painted and then torn to shreds.

It would not be the only thing ripped apart, in the end.

Lisa was still out there.

There was a car in the woods.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Roof Of The Rising Sun: #FridayFictioneers

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dawn-in-montreal

PHOTO PROMPT © Dale Rogerson

The Roof Of The Rising Sun

“Wow. Some show the stars put on for us.”

Lena leaned back, checking to make sure Dave was there. She nestled against him.

“I don’t deserve y…” Dave started.

Lena found his mouth, kissing that sentence away.

Dave had survived many misfortunes until Lena stumbled upon him.

She hadn’t seen him. He was invisible, after all. He picked her up, apologized, and started to leave.

“Wait!” was all he needed to hear. They talked. Went on a date. More dates followed.

They’d been together for three months now.

The sun rose, beaming onto Lena, and through Dave, on the roof.

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

Author’s Notes:

Thus ends the Dave Trilogy. I hadn’t planned this when I wrote the first Dave story (Veiled Consequences), and it wasn’t until I wrote the second piece (One More Thing) that that drabble fit with the previous week’s. So, I knew I had to end it, somehow, this week. No idea how it would go until I saw the photo prompt. I had to live with that photo all day until I figured out what to do with it. Hope you enjoy.

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

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.

Julemo, The Most Excellent and Lamentable Tragedy

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man-and-woman-heterosexual-icon-hi

Julemo, The Most Excellent and Lamentable Tragedy

A prompt from A Creative PTSD Gal

...Some shall be pardon’d, and some punished:
For never was a story of more wo

Whoa. Hold on. Two kids, in the throes of their first lust love, just offed themselves. Their pining for each other hurled a monkey wrench into a powder keg mess, and boom it went off. Four confirmed Main Players died beyond these two, with enough blood on the streets, steps, terraces, and food stalls, that suggest there were a lot more (names not important to the larger issue) who fell down dead: damn kindred kept taking and hiding their deceased. Poor mojo on their famial name if the numbers were known by the populace.

Now, neither head of the two bloodlines were respected or even liked. They held their positions due to fear, the potential of favors bestowed, and the rest who care to be seen with the ones who are being seen without their even trying to be seen. They are a headache on the populace, if not to that last sentence. It’s no wonder their wives cloistered themselves with knitting, other crafty projects, wine, and “hey, is that a codpiece or are you happy to see me?”

No matter, for they all become even more bit players than they had already been. Well, except for the best friend. And the brother. But, this isn’t about them.

The once hot-to-trot teens were wheeled away. Unbeknownst to all the other players involved, not to the building where their bodies were supposed to be prepared for the funeral process. A bit of misdirection brought them to a place that, if alive, they would have killed themselves before willingly entering. Well, again, they were dead, so there was really nothing they could do.

Some of the gas buildup inside of them started to waft out, perfuming the surrounding area. Merc would have enjoyed that, gotten a great big chuckle out of it, and made a bon mot that all his friends would have laughed at, praising his scatological wit, whether they got it or not.

Friar Lawrence waved away the awful smell that started to fill up his small cell. He was lambasting himself for the way everything had unfolded. The friar knew he was culpable as an instigator, sticking his nose so far up the problems of the two households that…well, the picture in his head was enough to cause him the willies. He gave himself some satisfaction that he had nothing to do with Romeo meeting Juliet nor for the two of them falling in lust love with each other.  Just pretty much everything else that ended in their endings. He had a plan to fix things, no matter that Mother church would condem him to Heck for what he was about to do.

He knew a guy who knew a woman who knew a group of people who said they knew things no one else on Earth knew. Two of that group had been waiting in the friar’s cell. They had done their preperations already, and by the time friar and the corpses (later to become the name of a Punk band, circa 1972) arrived, the two men were five sheets to the wind, having found Lawrence’s holy wine stash.

The Friar, after admonishing the pair, needed their help in transferring the bodies to the prepared circle on the floor. Closing his eyes, he performed the sign of the cross, prayiing that he was not overstepping the will of the church and the savior or, well, not as badly as others might judge him. He uncovered the two; first Romeo (“Look at that…” was hushed by an elbow in the ribs by one of the men), and then Juliet (they both whistled their approval).

Candles were lit, ewe blood was tinkled around, and an undercurrent of chanting proceeded. Finally, Friar Lawrence came to the section he most dreaded: he would either succeed or epicically fail. He hoped to make things right, and only if he went through with this…if only he went through with this..if only…

The taller of the two sidemen gave the friar a shove. “Go on, mate. We ‘avent got all day. Go on with your self. ” The other man, who had been nodding off, came to, enough to agree. “Go on,” he slurred.

Friar Lawrence went on. He rushed through the Latin chants, stumbled over the sections that were complete gibberish to him, but was assured it was all right. Once the ritual words were complet, he said:

“These two, whose fate death doth stole, left this earthly plane too soon, too soon. I beseech the one on whom I call to make things right. Make them live, again, so that they may be together, as one.”

With that, a poof of a cloud enveloped the cell, with a stench that made Lawrence wish for flatulence again. Once the cloud settled, a ghastly, oozing, smirking demon, on the smallish size, appeared.

“Really? That’s what you want, what you went through, what you will suffer the eternity of damnation for? Really? For these two?”

Trembling, Friar Lawrence fell to his knees. The taller of the two men just sat down; his friend fell over, snoring.

“Yes,” he quivered. “Yes, yes, yes. My suffering is nothing compared to what these two suffered. Please. Make them live, so they may live as one.”

The demon (whose name I dare not write on pain of pain), looked at the two on the floor. His eyes passed over Juliet’s form, but with Romeo, he spent a lot of time…contemplating. The friar shivered even more, noticing a tumescence he wished he’d never had noticed.

The demon announced: “OK, as you wish.” With that, he snapped his clawed phalanges, and another foul-smelling cloud encircled the square cell. Friar Lawrence keeled over, dead; the tall man slung his passed out partner over his shoulder and was out the door before one could say “Bob’s your uncle,” which he was, but…

When the fogginess in the cell faded to nothing, it took the demon with it.
A stirring came from within the circle.

A painful groan caused eyes to pop open, followed by more groans as the aches and pains of death were shook off upon standing. There was a stretching of limbs, a rolling out of the muscles. Looking around this familiar room, it came that no one was in attendance when there should have been many servants around. Standing in place for a long, stiff time, perplexed, the bright rays of the sun were eventually replaced by crystal clear moonlight as it streamed through the small windo-nee-hole in the wall.

Hands began exploring, feeling what was known but also unknown. Panic soon set in, followed by a flailing  of appendages, hair being pulled this way and that, and a frenzied carrening around the room.  Finally, exhausted, a large plop! on the ex-friars sleeping pallot was felt in great pain. Huge moist sobs ensued.

The star-crossed lovers were, as that damnable friar (in reality, now) asked as he asked for.  Alive, but as one.

Only one.

Combined as one.

One body. One set of hands. One heart. Even death would not part them now.

Knowing he/she/they could not stay, they threw on one of the hated robes that Lawrence had left lying around, which, truth be told, needed a thorough washing.

They realized they could not be called Juliet nor Romeo anymore. That started up a quick arguement. Neither won. They were somewhat something wholey new. The idea came to combine names, somehow; neither one of them could agree who came up with the thought first, which started up another quick arguement with themselves.

Romiet didn’t sound right at all. They were in agreement on that. A few other configurations were considered and abandoned. Fred didn’t work at all for them. With resignation, Julemo was the best of all possiblities.

They crept out of the cell, vowing that the only time they would ever return would be to cause its destruction.  Easing on down the road, it was tough going in the beginning.  As they got the rhythm of their gait in check, they made their plans. Julemo knew if any of their kinsmen found them, they would face death, again.

Julemo fled, under the fairest stars in all the heaven.

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

Author’s note:

Jo at A Creative PTSD Gal was one of the writers/bloggers I fell upon (sorry for the bruising) during the AtoZ Blog Challenge. I enjoyed her work and visa versa. Like others, I found a prompt on her blog that actually was a contest, which was the least of it. I liked the picture prompt and that led to Hence, The Exorcists.

Jo had been following another blog that dropped a lot of prompts and then dropped dropping said prompts from their pages. I also had not won the prize from Jo’s contest, but she sent me an email with three potential prompts:

  • The main character is trying to quit smoking and the medication that she is using to help shows her the evil within someone she thought she knew since childhood.
  • The world just survived an apocalyptic event (your choice) and your character has to team up with the one person they hate to survive. 
  • It was not your normal Romeo and Juliet tale. The star-crossed lovers aren’t kept apart by their family but rather an unforeseen paranormal being.

Obviously, I took the last one, tweaked it, and Bob’s your uncle. I left it open-ended because, who knows? Why? I don’t know. Third base.

Hope you liked it. Please check out her blog for stories, doodles, and a lot more.

Stuck On You

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Stuck On You

#Flash Fiction Prompt

“How are you? I’m OK, but I’m leaking glue.”

Elsie stared at Elmer in disbelief. They had been together for a while now. He’d always been a bit bullish, and she adored that about him, especially in the sack. He was almost always horny, and that was fine with her, as long as they weren’t chewing the cud. Nothing ruins mating like starting a discussion.

Like now.

“What do you mean, you’re “leaking glue?”

Elmer had been behind her, as was his want, but mooved around so he was facing her to make that statement. She loved the milky whiteness of his skin, the baleful ferociousness that was offset by the cravings she saw in his big brown eyes. She loved how he was outstanding in his field, how Angus and the others freely gave him his stomping grounds.  Elsie loved a lot of things about Elmer, but this…this was scary. He was not one prone to joking around or making existential statements. He was more of a grunting hulk, moody at times, but…that was just his way.

“I’m…I’m OK as well, Elmer,” she stammered out. “Honey, what do you mean? You’re leaking glue? Is that a joke?”

He didn’t answer. Elmer mooved away slightly, staring off in the distance. She turned in the same direction as his gaze. She saw nothing out of the ordinary. The young ones were frolicking over the meadow, no matter how many times they were swatted to stop. Over by the clump of trees a number of their crowd were just lazing around. Elsie noticed Bessie-that heifer!-was there, making eyes at anyone who would pay attention. She had been with Elmer when they were younger, but he had mooved on. He was with her, now, and she’d be darned if…no, he wasn’t looking at her.

What was he looking at?

She waited with him, patiently at first. He wasn’t paying her any attention, and she wasn’t used to that. Sure, they’d stand around all day, catching rays, or hang out under the trees. But, Elmer had always been Present. This, this was unlike him, and it made her skittish.

The sun moved west, and the light of the day began to wane. The others began to mosey indoors; it was feeding time, and none of them would wait a second longer if they didn’t have to. Elsie stayed because Elmer stayed. He was lost inside of himself; she had no idea why.

The light of the day slowly turned to darkness, accentuated by the twinkling far away lights. The moon was full and bright, which allowed her to see quite well. Her gaze was on Elmer. His was still elsewhere.

The grumblings in her tummies had grown to an uncomfortable level. Head hung down, Elsie thought to swat Elmer, mad at what went on this day. Her better sense of propriety won out, and with one last look at Elmer, she started to saunter off to be with the others.

She had only taken eight steps when Elmer said his first word since earlier in the day.

“Elsie?”

She stopped. Her heart began to race. Elsie slowly turned around to face him. The faraway look that held him was still focused, but focused on her. She stayed where she was, rooted to ground. The grass, which had been getting taller, swayed around her.

“Elsie,” he said again. “Have you ever thought why we are here? What our purpose for being is all about?”

“Ugh,” she thought. “Existentialism, just as I was not hoping for.” She shook her head, dismayed. A smattering of bells, discordant in nature, accompanied her gesture.

“Do we have the right to be happy? If we do, is it something we have to earn? Do we have to have commonality to really connect with another?

All day, I’ve thought of all these things, and more. The why, the where, the how, the what, and when… these thoughts rushed over me. When they did…the questions: they froze me in place. I felt small, for the first time, as I began to…to…” Elmer trailed off into silence.

“What? You began to what?” Elsie asked, with a tone in her voice that she never, ever, used with Elmer.

“Contemplate. Us. You and me. Our crowd, our offspring, our being in this place, right here, right now.

I came up with some thoughts I’d like to share with you, if you’ll bear with me.”

She shivered at the thoughts of bears. She knew that wasn’t what he meant, but the image was placed in her skull. She hated bears.

Elmer cleared his throat. Elsie quietly sighed.

“I’m OK, but I’m leaking glue.

Bound together, me and you…”

“Poetry? You wasted the day on poetry?”

Elmer glared at her. If there was a stronger light source, she’d believe his eyes were turning red.

“I’m sorry. Please, go on.”

He shook his head, clearing his mind, centering himself. He began again.

“I’m OK, but I’m leaking glue.

It binds us together, making us true.”

“That’s not what you said before.”

“It’s a work in progress. Humor me.”

Elsie sighed again, and nodded her acquiescence.

He coughed. “Please let me finish.” Without waiting for a response, he soldiered on.

“I’m OK, but I’m leaking glue;

It binds us together, making us true.

The reason I am here on this Earthly place

Becomes clearer as I look upon your face.

A gentle peace resides within,

Even though we occasionally sin

Yet a more beautiful heart I will not find,

Especially one with a wondrous behind.

It matters not what others may say,

I will love you to my dying day.

No tears, no tears, my heart does swell,

As in this dell do we dwell.

Let what I feel spread to all around

My love is strong; to you I’m bound.

No matter whatever roles we’re meant to be,

Why we’re us and not some flea.

We’re here together; it is our due,

 I’m yours, forever.

 I’m leaking glue.”

To Elsie, it was a bit laughable, but in the end it really wasn’t. This day she felt her heart grow three times its size. Tears started to well in her limpid eyes. She mooved close to Elmer and leaned against him.

They stayed that way through most of the night, not saying much at all.

Towards the dawn, they both snuffled a bit with the rising dew around them. Elsie started to quietly chuckle.

“What’s that for?” Elmer asked

Elsie leaned her head on his, closing her eyes.

“I think I’m stuck on you, too.” Elsie paused. “You do know, that was a bit cheesy.”

The two of them laughed, and were still laughing, when the others came out for the day.

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

Author’s Note: Yes, the above came from a prompt, which was:

 “How are you? I’m OK, but I’m leaking glue.”

That line was actually said to either Debs or David of Fiction Can Be Fun. They hold prompts once a month, and post here and there when they can. Life, y’now? They collaborate on the site as well as write together: they are in the midst of fleshing out their WIP. I’ve read the bones of it, and I am excited to read it all when they care to share their showable draft.

If you want to take up the prompt challenge, Here There Are Rules:

Please post on your own site and add a link in the comments section [on Fiction Can Be Fun].  If you don’t have your own blog or similar outlet, do send us your story via the contact form on the About page and we’ll post for you, with an appropriate by-line.  

Word count: up to 1,500
Deadline: 2pm GMT on Friday 8th June 2018

Please do not submit anything that would be NSFW.

Now shoo. Have fun storming the castle.

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

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A-to-Z Reflection [2018]

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

This was my fifth AtoZ Blog Challenge:

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

Yes, I am that unorganized.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A couple of more things: please bear with me.

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

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

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

Thank you, everyone.

Epilogue: Zephyr, A Caress: The Abysmal Dollhouse (AtoZ Blog Challenge)

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** New Readers to this challenge: This is a serialized, continuous work. Please start with the first piece, Abysmally Yours. The AtoZ Blog Challenge began April 1st; ends April 30th. Please check back on Monday, May 7th, for my Final Reflections. Thank you.

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Epilogue: Zephyr, A Caress

The Abysmal Dollhouse

Grief lasts as long as it will last. There is no timetable when it should end, no scale for how deep it should be. Nothing to say grief won’t return. It is its own living thing, and it either eats away at you or strengthen your resolve to go on, to mourn, to let go.

The Shopkeeper embraced hers as an inner sore: on the outside, she presented herself as was her norm. A freshly starched white buttoned blouse, the top button fastened, her fingers assuring her of this fact. She smoothed down the black fabric of her ankle-length skirt. Putting on her apron, she winced, tying it a touch too tight. She left it as it was, as she had done every time since…

In the many weeks since the incident, the Shopkeeper took her time getting to know all the new dollhouses. They appeared, without ceremony, taking residence in the places of the ones that had been destroyed. Malcanisen remained by her side as she ambled about. She still found some of the debris scattered in the most unlikely of places around the shoppe; but, once found, they simply faded away once she wasn’t looking.

This new crop of minature replicas had wants and needs, just as the previous tenants of her shoppe had. When the opportunities presented themselves, they murmured the same “mine, mine, mine” as the ones now absent. But, things were not status quo as before. Far away enough that it brought something new to the Shopkeeper: worry.

There was a balance shift with the new: more unhappiness, more anger, more depravity. These dollhouses outnumbered those that exuded more peaceful memories and needs. The Shopkeeper did not like this new shift at all. Yet, there was little she could do about the denizens about her. Only another upheaval could, hopefully, tip the balance in the other direction, creating a more harmonious setting.

What she could do, she did. Once she had the feel of the new she began to rearrange the placement of the houses. The darker abodes were situated near lighter natured dollhouses; when she could cluster them, she did. There was a stabilizing effect for a short while, but distinct grumblings permeated the shoppe after the first reshuffling. Twice more she shifted locations around the shoppe; on this third try, the houses seemed to accept their lots. The Shopkeeper was pleased, but not entirely happy.

The window display took on a whole new life. A magnificent replica of the Castle of Goeie Hoop stood there, majestic in scope, taking the whole of the display space. Many called out for their due when the new door chimes tinkled; sometimes many hushes from the Shopkeeper was needed to silence them. Occasionally, when she was at her counter, waiting, sounds of gunfire could be heard. The Shopkeeper would look over with a scowl; the noise ceased. Always.

She had begun to avoid the Conservatoire d’épouvante Maison De Poupée best she could. The Wall of Skulls underwent a thorough cleansing of what had been displayed before. All forty-two specimens were new, with new nameplate labels. She had glanced at them early on, missing a few, especially Sigurd. She felt them all yearning to tell their stories, their need overwhelming. It disturbed her deeply; she kept it locked, a drastic change in her dusting duties.

It was one skull in particular that had her in knots. While she was privy to some ghastly knowledge from many in her care, there was that one: she wasn’t ready for it, wasn’t sure if she would ever be ready to hear the telling of this one’s tale.

The label only read “Child.”

Duster in hand, she busied herself around the shoppe, doing her best not to glance towards the empty far corner.

*** *** ***

The soldier only vaguely remembered the incident. He had a new scar that was painful if he placed any real weight on it. He had no concrete awareness of how he got this scar or even the when or the where. All he knew was it ached at times, and was only one of many scars all over his body. He carried it like the others.

There was a stiffness in his right hand, the outer two digits especially. His EMT buddy said it was probably a bad case of Trigger Finger since they sometimes get locked into a bent position. He was able to release them, so he didn’t bother checking out a doctor for it.

“Look, Tom. A Zayat ahead. I could use a rest stop.” His companion, Mary, tired easily, but he was more than fine with that. Her recovery from her stabbings was labeled a miracle by the nurses that tended her. His EMT buddy thought so too, having read Mary’s charts, even though he wasn’t supposed to.

Tom had awakened one day at the hospital, sitting by Mary’s side, no idea how he had gotten there. He remembered tracking Mary’s assailant, and that was it. The next thing, he’s by her side, an aching scar, stiff right hand, and an awake Mary staring at him. Her smile filled her face when she saw he was awake.

The nurses had told her all about the guy who had brought her in, most likely saving her life. They said he sat by her side more days than they kept count, talking to her comatose form, keeping on eye on her while she was out. He disappeared for a bit, and they all thought he had given up hope, but-surprise-he was back, and just after she, also, was back.

They talked for a long time, first about her attack and the aftermath. Mary was upset that her assailant had not been found, but was also relieved that there had been no further sightings or attacks. Tom was a reassuring presence for her, and she wound up being the same for him.

After her discharge, they got closer. Close enough to the point that he easily asked her to come with him: he needed to travel, come to some peace in his being with the loss of his brothers, and the guilt he still felt for falling asleep while on sentry. She agreed, without a second’s thought.

The Zayat was simple but more than sufficient, as all the others they had stumbled upon. They rested, found fresh food and water, and stayed for a few of the religious occasions that happened around them. Mary had an idea that Tom readily agreed to: they were given permission to stay and help tend this particular Zayat, for the time being, keeping it clean, helping with any chores that needed doing, and welcoming other travelers seeking shelter.

Their lives, for the time being, was enriched by this Zayat, the Jivitandana Sangha, and they enriched it, finding peace and love.

*** ***

The Shopkeeper was resting in her back room, fresh scone devoured, a second cup of tea steaming by her side on the table. She had closed her eyes, leaning into her padded chair. Malcanisen was at her feet; on her feet, more accurately, snoring away. Cleaning around the shoppe, tending to those who entered, the houses that wanted: it all still left a hole in the whole affair.

She had thought with the death of the murderer, the vengeance sought and achieved, that she would be released from her binding. As the Unfolding Doll seemed to have been. There had been nothing left of it from the fire that consumed Muirhouse and its woodshed. There had been no shimmering from the far corner, now less shadow filled than it had ever been. She was left, and it was gone, and the pain in her heart was so severe at times, the grief that subsided but rose again, and again.

Something prevented her from moving on. She racked her memory of everything that happened after that night at the Carousel, her then grief turning into a burning pledge of hatred and revenge. Promises made, from her and…promises made, but not kept, it seems, for her.

Collecting herself, she began to breathe in deeply, hold the breath, and let it out slowly. She continued this, calming herself into a single path of breath. It eased through her, a wind of her own making. It carried out a host of inner turmoil, a monsoon of sadness. She rested for a long time.

Until.

She came awake instantly. The Shopkeeper wasn’t sure if she had dreamed it, or…but, no, there it was, slight but there. A tap, tap, tapping…and it was near, so near.

Malcanisen bounded out of the back room. The Shopkeeper jumped out of her chair and ran through the threshold into the shoppe. Stopping suddenly by her counter, she looked around the entire area, looking under, behind, around; no one was there. Malcanisen sat down, eyes on her.  Tears that she thought she had been finished shedding started to well up once again as her heart shattered once again.

Until.

She glanced down. On the top of her counter was a knife. Long and sharp looking, it had a sheen that caught the light in the shoppe and sent spiraling of colors into the air, a prism of steel. She took hold of the hilt of the blade and brought it up, level with her heart, and held it there.

Looking in the far corner, it was again clouded in the deepest, darkest shadow.

And it was unfolding.

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The AtoZ Blog Challenge

Here we are: the end of this year’s AtoZ Blog Challenge. During the month of April 2018, the challenge required that we write 26 posts, starting with the letter A on April 1st and ending with Z on Monday, April 30th. On Monday, May 7th,  there will be a reflection post that will wrap up this experience, for me as well as my readers. If you travel back to the main page of the AtoZ Blog Challenge, you’ll find other blogs that participated. Many, I’m sure, will pique your interest, as many did mine.

On May 7th, all of the participants of the AtoZ Challenge are asked to post a reflection on the month’s process: afterthoughts, explanations, frustrations/elations, and whatever else may come to mind.

****After you read the Z post on Monday, April 30th, I will be asking YOU for questions, ponderings, or suggestions you might still have. I found a number of editorial mistakes when I copied and pasted the stories into a Word file (thank you, Grammarly) and already did some (minor) editing. So, if you’ve been with me all along, or just finding your way into The Abysmal Dollhouse, April 30th will be a good time to pose what’s on your mind. I will do my best to answer/address all on the reflection (mentioned above).

Any queries must be posted by Friday, March 4th.

As to what happens next with Tale Spinning &/or The Abysmal Dollhouse…time will tell.

Thanks for reading along.

Take Care: The Abysmal Dollhouse (Reblog Sunday)

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

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Take Care

The Abysmal Dollhouse

The storm clouds had moved along with the wind, leaving behind a still, grey day. The heavy downpour had come down on a slant, washing the dusty windows of the shoppe. The glass glistened as the headlights of passing cars fractured off the puddles, the brief flashing of light creating a strobe effect on the items on display. Dollhouses littered the shelving: Victorian, Tudor, Colonial, Craftsman, and an Abbey. All stood at a slant, showing the open side, the rooms, staircases, floors. The placement also allowed the outside features to shine, the gables, balconies, bay windows, and wrap-around porches, adorned with miniature plants, rocking chairs, and welcome mats.

The bright reflective bursts caught the eye of Mark, who was passing by but at a slow steady pace. His head had been turned to the ground, hands in his pants pockets, shoulders taught. The light drew his eye to the display, and his feet followed. He studied each house, taking in the details, admiring the color scheme of some, others the aesthetic beauty of the architecture. Mark’s wandering eyes and feet led him to the door to the shop. It was a plain glass door, wooden frame, with nothing to announce the name of the place of business. He found his hand reaching for the door handle, but he really couldn’t figure out why.

Behind the glass, behind the dollhouses, The Shopkeeper had been watching Mark as he viewed her safe houses, appraising him, the way he observed, his slow steady examination of her wares. She checked the dark corners of the shoppe and let out a wistful sigh. Some of the houses hungered, and she wished them appeasement, yet this man was not for them. The Shopkeeper shushed them before Mark had completed turning the door handle and entered, the action causing the hanging doorbell to sound.

The Shopkeeper took in his appearance, which through the window gave him a yellow/sepia hue. Inside, things did not change all that drastically. While he took a few steps in, looking around, she observed his color choices were dull, and his clothing, while well kept, was far from being stylish. He looked lived in and comfortable in what he wore, but his body language suggested more.

“May I help you?”, she asked.

Mark looked up from the Carriage House he was staring at. “No, thank you. I…I’m just looking, I guess.” He paused, his shoulders frowning, turning his head to the left, away from the Shopkeeper. “I’m not even sure why I came in. Dollhouses,” he swept his arms, palms up, around the room, “are not really an interest of mine. My ex was into it, and my daughter. Mom, too.” Mark shrugged his shoulders. “Sorry. Not sure why I’m telling you any of this. Is it OK if I just look around?”

The Shopkeeper nodded, picking up her duster, for there was always dust in the shop. The flakes swirled in the sunbeams as they slanted through the windows. Today, they weren’t visible…until it settled down on top of the many surfaces. Mark brought in his own dust trail, and he was leaving it around the shop as he went from dollhouse to dollhouse. She followed him out of the corner of her eyes, marking where she had to concentrate on dusting, later.

She heard him stop walking. His shoes had been making a tap,tap, tapping as he walked; when he stood still to look, and he bent down, the shoes gave a little squeak, adjusting to the new stance. This time, it was a full stop. No noise from his shoes. No “hmmm” or “huh?” or just regular breathing. Stillness. The Shopkeeper turned and looked at Mark.

He was frozen in front of a traditional style dollhouse. Two floors, an attic with dormer, wide porch, shutters on the windows, wood detailing, the front door with two windows on either side and five windows on top, with the middle window directly above the door. The house in pristine white paint. Mark was staring hard. He gasped for air, realizing he had been holding his breath.

Turning the house around, he let out another slight gasp. “My house. This…is my house.” He stood up, looked around, found The Shopkeeper. “How? This is my house.”

The Shopkeeper walked over to stand by his side. He followed her as she bent down to look inside the house, adjusting it so they faced it squarely on. Mark began to point out some of the details to her. The layout was the same. The decor, the same: paneling in the dining room, the soft blue scalloped floral pattern wallpaper that ran from the front door to the kitchen, up the stairway to the halls on the second floor, the wood floors with its various rugs and runners. The tables, chairs, sofa: same as it ever was.

Mark forced himself to look at the bedrooms, the ones on the second floor, and the den that had been converted to one on the first floor. He reached into his room, stopping to look at The Shopkeeper, waiting for permission. She stood, did a light dusting sweep of the houses’ roof, and moved back to the front of the shop. Mark bent back down and touched the bed. It felt soft and inviting.

His eyes and hands traversed through each room, taking in the memories each invoked. The kid’s room, converted from the guest room after his divorce, was as they had left it after they both stopped coming, college then marriages, ending their obligations to be there, to be with him weekly. His parent’s bedroom, full of his mothers’ things, which she valued above anything else most of the time. The walk-in closet crammed with her clothing, shoes, pocketbooks, hats. Her cane leaning against the nightstand.

Mark kept his eye on the cane for a short while. He started to reach in but stopped, closing his eyes, his right hand locked just outside of the room. He breathed in deeply, letting the air escape slowly. Three times. Opening his eyes, he moved his arm.

Piece by piece, Mark removed items from her room, placing them down on the side of the dollhouse shelf. The dressers, the rocking chair, footstool, pictures hanging on the walls, the bed, night table, the cane. He emptied the closet of all the clothing, making neat piles on the shelf next to the furniture. He was looking at an empty room, save for the wallpaper she loved. Mark stripped that off carefully, leaving the white walls underneath without blemish as best he could.

The kid’s bedroom was next. It was easier to strip away everything in there, things that would never be used again. Removing everything on the second floor, leaving his room alone. Marks’ excavation, of digging down to the basis of the home, continued downstairs. He methodically removed the items and decor from the living room, foyers, kitchen.

The bedroom nee den stopped Mark dead in his tracks. His eyes got blurry, wet, forcing him to wipe his eyes with the sleeve of his shirt. Leaning against the back wall was another cane, next to a walker, next to a wheelchair, next to an oxygen tank. The hospital bed was in the center of the room, which had been denuded, sterilized down to its bare bones.

Mark knelt on the floor, slightly rocking back and forth on his heels. “Sorry, Dad,” he whispered, as he cleansed the room as he had done with the others. When he finally took the hospital bed out of the room, he held it up, examined it, had trouble putting it down, but he eventually did.

While this last task was going on, he had faintly heard The Shopkeeper moving around him. Looking down once the room was emptied, he noticed that all of the familial life pieces had been removed. In their place was new furniture, the stuff one fills a house and makes it a home. Mark wasn’t too surprised to see that it all was in his tastes, design, and color.

He filled up the house quickly. Mark moved his things into his parents’ room, adding a few new things that he found left for him. The kid’s room was returned to guest room status, and he transformed his own room into a second. He moved to the first floor, laying down wall to wall carpeting, then bringing in the chairs, tables, sofa, big comfy chairs with big comfy pillows, large screen TV and fixings.

Mark took his time when it came to refurbishing the bottom bedroom back into a den. Executive office chair, desk, computer, stuffed full bookcases and shelving. It was comfortable, and he finally relaxed.

The doorbell rang. Mark got up from the padded chair, walking towards it in his socks only, not wanting to mar the new carpeting. As he got closer to the door, he noticed a familiar face peering in through the left side window at the door. Mark stopped short. He hadn’t seen her in years, lost touch with her, missed her all this time.

He reached out and opened the door.

“Donna.”

She smiled at him, bottom teeth still slightly crooked, head tilted to her right, eyes shining. She had on the red dress and white stockings with red hearts on them, the same as she wore that one Valentines Day.

“Are you going to invite me in?” she asked.

Mark did, watched her walk a few steps down the hall and into the living room.

“I really like what you did with the place,” she said, whirling around. “Feels like home.”

Mark smiled deeply and went to join her.

The Shopkeeper turned the dollhouse around, the front facade facing out towards the aisle. She gave them the privacy they both deserved.

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Author’s note: I thought this would be a nice piece to put after yesterday’s Y post for the AtoZ Blog Challenge.

Monday, April 30th, brings the final post, Z, which will serve as an epilogue.

On May 7th, all of the participants of the AtoZ Challenge are asked to post a reflection on the month’s process: afterthoughts, explanations, frustrations/elations, and whatever else may come to mind.

****After you read the Z post on Monday, April 30th, I will be asking YOU for questions, ponderings, or suggestions you might still have. I found a number of editorial mistakes when I copied and pasted the stories into a Word file (thank you, Grammarly) and already did some (minor) editing. So, if you’ve been with me all along, or just finding your way into The Abysmal Dollhouse, April 30th will be a good time to pose what’s on your mind. I will do my best to answer/address all on the reflection (mentioned above). Any queries must be posted by Friday, March 2nd. 

As to what happens next with Tale Spinning &/or The Abysmal Dollhouse…time will tell.

Thanks for reading along.