Category Archives: Murder

…By The River: #FridayFictioneers

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dales-waterfall

PHOTO PROMPT © Dale Rogerson

…BY THE RIVER

“Baby, no, please. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. Please. Baby.”

Ned shot her in the head.

Sally had been standing in the middle of the river. Now her body was flowing downstream. Gun in hand, he followed.

The cadaver gained speed; it raced towards the rapids, the waterfall. He watched it bob and swirl, twirling with a grace Sally never had in life.

Battered by exposed rocks, the corpse looked new each time it surfaced. Ned lost sight of her a few times on her journey.

Then she was just gone.

“Cheater,” he said, raising the gun to his temple.

Bang.

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Author’s Note:

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

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

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

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

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Winter and spring landscape with blue sky.

Finish The Story

After The Long, Hard Winter

Part Six

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

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

Teresa wrote:

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

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

Michael wrote:

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

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

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

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

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

Di wrote:

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

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

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

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

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

Fandango wrote:

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

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

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

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

Iain wrote:

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

‘Mary, are you okay? Is that blood?’

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

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

‘She had it coming, that harridan whore.’

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

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

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

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

When she got there, she found…

I continue:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Here are the rules:

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

 

Soul On Fire: #FridayFictioneers

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stone-house

PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Soul On Fire

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

Val didn’t.

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

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

She called 911.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Crumpet Slaughter Squad: Chapter One

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@Richard_Kadrey Prompt

Chapter One: Mrs. Teasdale’s Tea

Mrs. Teasdale had set her Afternoon Tea the way she always did: her favourite assortment of sandwiches (Coronation Chicken, Cucumber with butter, and Cheese and Pickle);  Crumpets, with butter and honey on the side; Chopped Date Scones with Strawberry Jam and Clotted Cream; and three tarts (Bakewell, Yorkshire Curd, and Egg Custard). As a final touch she placed a smattering of Fancies around the three plates. She snuck one and took a bite.She was in heaven. And she was expecting company.

The small round table was covered with her finest linen, topped off with her mother’s lace tablecloth. Mrs. Teasdale set out her favorite China and crystal glassware in their traditional placement. The salad plate, centered and surrounded by the linen napkin and fork to the left, the spreader and spoon to the right. Slightly above the spoon stood the water glass, while opposite it, on the same level, was her finest teacup. The small bowel was just off the napkin and fork, alone but never forgotten. The creamer, sugar bowl, serving dish, tea strainer, and at the last minute, the teapot, found their spots in the midpoint between the two settings.

All that was left was to write Ms. Letts name on the place card and set it in the middle of the salad plate, which she did. Now, she was waiting for 4:00 pm, the arrival time for Ms. Letts and the making of the tea. The fresh water was in the tea kettle, waiting to be brought to boiling to make a delightful pot of Earl Grey, as requested by Ms. Letts. Mrs. Teasdale preferred Broken Orange Pekoe but, sadly, that was not the tea she would be seeping today.

The harsh taps of the Wellington door knocker alerted Mrs. Teasdale that her guest had arrived. She scuffled to the front door, patting down her Peach dress, making sure that the white collar laid flat. Yes, all was in place.

Opening the door, Mrs. Teasdale took in Ms. Letts attire. She instantly approved of her understated black dress, draping her figure, the hem falling just below her knees. She noticed the black hosiery, patterned exquisitely. The shiny black pumps helped to make her legs taut and outstanding.

Realizing she was being rude, she lifted her eyes. Mrs. Teasdale took in the Babington shoulder bag, a stylish choice. Her eye-line lifted further, causing a sharp intake of breath. It rested in her throat as she focused on Ms. Letts face.  Shoulder length black hair framed her exquisite porcelain skin. The face, oval-shaped, seemed sculpted. Beautiful brown eyes, arched eyebrows, smooth jawline, and a slim nose, left Mrs. Teasdale almost speechless. Her vanity flared fiercely but she caught herself in time before it showed. At least, she hoped so.

“Smile, you silly git,” she thought as she welcomed Ms. Letts into her abode. They exchanged pleasant greetings. Giving the grand tour of the first floor, they exchanged in small talk, accompanied by smiles both broad and slight. Mrs. Teasdale guided her guest to the sitting room where they would have their afternoon tea. Ms. Letts reached up to the Babington, placing it on the floor by the table. Mrs. Teasdale noticed, for the first time, that Ms. Letts wore dark kid gloves.

Slightly puzzled, as it was a fairly warm day, she bade Ms. Letts to relax while she prepared the tea. “Earl Grey, just as you requested. The shopkeeper assured me that the tea leaves were fresh, delivered just the other day.”

“Oh, Mrs. Teasdale: I almost forgot. Reaching into her large bag she brought out a pastry box that, when opened, sent shivers of joy running through Mrs. Teasdale.

Opening the lid, she exclaimed: “Ms. Letts. This is a stunning Battenberg cake.” She leaned in a little too close, getting a whispered “Tsk” out of Ms. Letts. “It smells heavenly. I will put this in the fridge while I light the oven and bring the water to boil. Please have a seat. It won’t be long.” She left Ms. Letts in the sitting room, entering the adjacent kitchen by its swinging door.

Instead of sitting, Ms. Letts took a stroll around the sitting room. The shelves that held the knick-knacks were well dusted. The Grandfather Clock: spotless. The area rug was wearing in the spots Mrs. Teasdale trod on her path through the room. She admitted it was still pretty, though. Parting the dusty curtains, Ms. Letts looked out the window that faced the park across the road. She noticed the bottom two rows of glass where expertly clear; the top row panes, not so much. She turned her attention and took her seat. Picking up the place card, she let out a slight laugh and put it back in its place.

Mrs. Teasdale lit up the burner full blast. A proper tea is made only with boiling water, her late mother told her time and again. Even after her passing, Mrs. Teasdale followed that rule every time she assembled her afternoon tea.

She turned to the counter on the opposite side of the oven. On the shelf rested the Triple- Tier plate rack, already full of the assortment of sweets. She quickly went to the fridge and brought out the Battenberg, slicing it gently, then placing it artistically around all three of the levels. She finished just as the tea kettle began its screaming.

Mrs. Teasdale moved back towards the kettle and teapot. She did not hear the kitchen door swing open.

Ascertaining that the water was at a perfect boil, Mrs. Teasdale poured some of the hot water into the China teapot. She put down the kettle over the flame and swirled the water around, heating the insides just so. This water was expelled into the adjoining sink.

The tea kettle quickly found its steam, the screeching whistle alerting her it was time. She filled the teapot with the boiled water, quickly adding three hefty teaspoons of the Earl Grey tea leaves. The smell of the tea was intoxicating. She slightly resisted putting the knob on the teapot, but trapping the heat was essential.

As she was doing so,  her lower back, on the right side, was in agony, the pain blazing, causing her to shudder. She shrieked as another stinging, shooting pain tore through her, just under the left shoulder blade. Her legs began wobbling, sinking to her knees as she took two more short sharp shocks. Now unconscious,  Mrs. Teasdale’s upper body smashed into the oven door which hit her face an awful blow.

A violent spasm, from another two blows, sent her to meet the splattered tile floor, face down. She died before she hit. Another set of death jabs created a pattern in Mrs. Teasdale’s back that wouldn’t be noticed while she was covered in her own blood. One more plunge entered at the base of her skull, severing the spinal cord.

While she acknowledged this was overkill, Ms. Letts was compulsive in these matters. Flipping the body onto its back, she cleaned the gore of her Jagdkommondo Tri-Dagger on the Peach obscenity of a dress. She placed it on the counter behind her.

Self-cleansing was next. Standing at the kitchen sink, she mixed the hot and cold waters to give her the warm setting she needed. She quickly found the dish soap, dabbing it lightly on her gloves. Under the running water, she massaged all surfaces of the gloves until the last of Mrs. Teasdale’s blood swirled away.

Patting the kid leather to a damp state with a kitchen towel was followed by scrubbing the sink with the same towel. Once she was satisfied, she poured a liter of bleach down the drain, finding it in a cubby under the sink with other cleaning sprays and material.

When she first entered the kitchen she brought, from her purse, two seal-able plastic bags. Taking one from the food counter, the kitchen towel was shoved inside. Taking another cloth, she took off and wiped down her pumps top and bottom. She had stood to the side when the first stab dug in but the spray was stronger than she anticipated.

Next into the bag went her hose, ruined to hell with the viscous that spurted. She cleaned her legs off with the towel and hand soap and put her heels back on. Giving herself a last once-over, she decided to reclean her shoes. The top was as clean as it would be, for now. With one last kitchen towel and soap, Ms. Letts scrubbed down the outsole, shank, heel, and heel tip. The linen joined the others in the plastic bag. It would find its way into her shoulder purse, joined by its unused mate, when she vacated the kitchen.

Picking up her dagger, and then her skirt, she sheathed her weapon of choice. It attached to her outer thigh, comfortable and hidden. Ms. Letts let her dress fall, making sure that there was no outward sign of the death she always carried.

The bakery box she had brought in was off to the side of the counter. She looked over the sweets laid out but didn’t take any. “Willpower. Must not.” Repeating her mantra a few times, Ms. Letts picked up the empty bakery box, disposal bags, and then the teapot. Stepping over the drying blood, she went into the sitting room.

Sitting at her assigned seat, she picked up the strainer, laying it on top of the teacup.  Lifting the teapot and tilting it, the tea flowed, the strainer capturing the leaves of Earl Grey. The smell was enticing, and her first sip was bliss. It was strong, hot, and delicious as it was. No need for sugar nor cream. When the last drop in the china cup was exhausted,  into the bag it went, along with the place card. She laughed again, this time a little bit shriller. The false name was delicately inscribed.

One last look around the sad, little room and she was up. Stowing the plastic bag into her Babington, Ms. Letts placed it on her shoulder after fastening the clasp. Picking up the empty bakery box, she headed to the front door, carefully retracing the worn pathway that Mrs. Teasdale had set. She stopped just before grasping the doorknob and sighed.

Turning, she hurried back to the kitchen and swung the door open. Mad for crumpets, like the others in their club, she took the four on the tiered display and placed them in the bakery box, closing the lid.

Once done, she focused on Mrs. Teasdale one last time. The pool of blood that spread under the body was starting to congeal. It had spread to an almost perfect circle, the exsanguinated reposed figure cutting the ratio into fragments.

Finally, she turned her attention to the flaccid face. The facial muscles were giving up the ghost sure but steady. Mrs. Teasdale’s weak chin and pouting lips were folding into the double jowls of her neck. Her broad nose was wider, the damage caused by her face slamming into the oven door. Her jumpy brown eyes were open, staring at nothing. “I thought so,” she muttered, noticing the hairpiece Mrs. Teasdale wore was in disarray, showing off the thinned out scalp that glittered from the overhead lights.

“Thank you for inviting me to tea. It was lovely.”

The lump of dead flesh didn’t answer back.

Ms. Letts left the house after she made sure no one was out for a walk. Unlocking her car with a “Beep!” she quickly entered it, locking the doors and starting up the engine. Pushing the button under the console, the back and side windows tinted a shade darker. Placing her shoulder bag in the passenger seat, she removed the empty plastic bag. She backed up, turned left once on the road, and headed to the secluded spot that framed the park.

Once settled she opened the bag. She stripped off her gloves and tossed them in. The wig was next, setting her long red hair free. This was followed by the contacts, the brown irises replaced with her natural green. Kicking off her heels, she replaced them with the Constellation trainers that were in her Babington. The difference in comfort was astounding.

Digging deep into her shoulder bag she located her burner cell phone and turned it on. While it was warming up and finding satellite coverage, Wendy aka Ms. Letts, opened her bag for one more item: the package of moist towelettes. She wiped her face and neck, the ivory makeup a bit stubborn but the towelettes worked. Taking another one, she gave her legs another go. It was a good thing as there was a light shade of blood that transferred off her skin and onto the towelette.

By the time she added the used wipes to the disposable bag, the burner had cycled through all of its gymnastics. She placed a call. It went straight to the club’s voice mail.

“Ladies, Wen here. My afternoon tea was perfect. I hope all of yours were just as splendid. I’m looking forward to tonight’s round of sharing. Ta for now.”

She turned the phone off, took out the battery, and tossed it into the disposal bag, sealing it tight.

Starting the car and revving it a few times, Wendy laughed as she put it in gear and hit the road home.

As she sped along, she opened up the bakery box that she had placed on the passenger seat. Reaching in, she took out a crumpet. No jam. No clotted cream. Just a bite and she was in heaven.

It had been a splendid tea.

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Author’s Note:

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

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

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

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

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

A Night Without: #FridayFictioneers

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ted-strutzs-town

PHOTO PROMPT © Ted Strutz

A Night Without

The lights drew them on.

From bars to clubs to private parties, the three had been on the go since sundown. The long night brought pleasure, debauchery, and fear. The three thrived through all of it.

Pre-dawn left the streets barren in front of them, wasteland behind them.

It had been a good night. They just wanted to make it last as long as they could. It was in their nature, and it was a shared revelry.

Still craving more, they searched for new pleasures. The lights attracted them. Then the laughter and music.

Their night would end, well sated.

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Author’s Notes: (Edited)

Hi. I was going for subtle, and I probably went way too far. Only a few picked up on the key words: “the long night brought pleasure, debauchary, and FEAR.”; the streets behind them were a “wasteland.”; their night would end with them being “sated.”

To me, I tried to say “Danger” without saying “Vampires.” Lesson learned: too subtle doesn’t work.

As to the title A Night Without, I went for the symbolism of Night. From Sparknotes:

God’s first act is to create light and dispel this darkness. Darkness and night therefore symbolize a world without God’s presence. In Night, Wiesel exploits this allusion. Night always occurs when suffering is worst, and its presence reflects Eliezer’s belief that he lives in a world without God.

So, A Night Without is a night without God. Probably should have just put the word in. Again, live and learn.

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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.

Warble On The Sill: #FridayFictioneeers

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PHOTO PROMPT © Jean L. Hays

Warble On The Sill

Coo, Coo.

The Warble thrust its beaky neck

Against the frosted mesh

All its fellows gathered up

Left alone on the window side.

It pecked, it poked, to no avail

There was just no way in

Unless that hideous screeching sound

Came pouncing out again.

 

Coo, Coo.

The crumbs of flights delayed

Forever in a tight sealed jar

Mired in a frothing mix

Consumed on special days.

Wondering wonder, why the last to stay?

Squawks and cries of their demise

Perched upon a sharpened edge

No gleam, dead dull eyes.

 

The sound, the sound,

It’s come, at last

Coo, Co…

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Author’s Note:

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

The rules are simple:

    1. Use the photo on Addicted to Purple as your prompt.
    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.

Not sure where this all came from. Bird, mesh, jars, food. Yup. This is what you get. 🙂

Boots in Distress: #Friday Fictioneers

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dadsshoesPHOTO PROMPT submitted by Courtney Wright. © Photographer prefers to remain anonymous.

Clark was sitting just outside of Fishawi. He was on his second cup of strong Arabic coffee. Tonight there was tension in the souk. It bled into him.

Shouting stopped him mid-sip. Suddenly, Clark experienced the bombers.

Clark was thrown forward. Ears ringing, he still heard the screaming.

Dazed, Clark slightly lifted himself up. Blood was flowing, stinging his eyes. He wiped at it.

Blood cleared eyes saw a sad looking pair of old boots right by his head.

“Oh, Sh…” he began, before the blast took him, and the martyr.

Her boots were found upright among the remains.

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Author’s Notes:

I guess I’m doing prompt challenges for the time being. The above was a prompt from Addicted to Purple by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields that she calls Friday Fictioneers . The rules for this prompt are simple:

    1. Use the photo on Addicted to Purple as your prompt.
    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.

 

I had noticed some stories on blogs that I follow were using the same photo. Just reading a bit let me onto this project. I really need to do more blog hopping. I’m so bad at that.

Let’s see where a new prompt will lead me.

A Dominie Dismissed (#FF Prompt)

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

Until he had been dismissed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not going all that far.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No one dismisses a Dominie.

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

zephyr

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.