Category Archives: Mythology

NSFW: #FFPhotoPrompt

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100-year-old-yew-tree

NSFW:

Nuku-mai-tore, Spirit Facing Woodland

“One legend says they had large chests and waists, but little heads; another text gives “no head, chest and waist only.” A third says that their arms and legs were so short that they seemed to have no limbs at all, but waved their hands close to their bodies.”

~Encyclopedia Mythica

Whira and Turo laughed their heads off (literally) when they heard the grandfather tell his tiny entourage all about the tree faeries, the Nuku-mai-tore.  They had been leaping from branch to branch of the ancient yew tree they lived on, peering down at the humans who were unaware they were being watched. Turo picked up Whira’s head, and Whira Turo’s, and they juggled them back and forth until they grew tired of the game.

Turo had a wicked grin on his face when he reattached his head. “We should go down and teach the old man how wrong he is.”

“Nah,” Whira said, putting his head on backward.

“Stop that!” Turo laughed, which was Whira’s mission.

Turning his head around, Whira faced his friend. “All we will do is scare them-I know, I know, that is what you want to happen. But, really Turo, would they really believe we were Nuku-mai-tore? We look enough like those humans.”

“Except for being green.”

“There is that.”

“And pretty much au natural. Leaves and bark do not clothe the sidhe.”

“True. Sigh. You really want to do this, don’t you?”

Turo’s wicked grin grew three times its size, nearly splitting his head in half. That was all it took. They both skittered down the yewhome, a race to get to the ground first.

One of the little ones surrounding the old man turned, catching their movements peripherally. A piercing scream followed.

“Girl?” asked Whira, confused by the little thing’s long hair.

“”Hmm. No. Boy.”

The grandfather was scooping up the three children into his arms and against his body. Looking at them, the faeries weren’t sure if he was trying to protect them or use them as a shield.

“Shield,” Whira muttered.

“Maybe. Let’s find out.”

They walked a few steps towards the grouping. All the children screamed, and the old man stepped in front of them, the little ones cowering behind him, shushing them to silence.

“No shield.”

“Nope. Chutzpah.”

The grandfather stuttered out: “Wha..wha..who…”

The two faeries laughed again, this time keeping their heads.

“Hi. I’m Turo. This is Whira.” Whira did a little curtsey; Turo punched him in the arm, gently. Their chuckling sent the children plunging into the old man, almost knocking him over. Whira laughed loudly. Turo shushed him.

The grandfather stood up as straight as he could. This time he was able to make a full sentence. Barely.

“Who…what are you?”

“Well, that’s kinda rude. We are…The Nuku-mai-tore!”

“Taa Daa!” piped up Whira.

The grandfather was sputtering again. “But…but..but…”

Whira turned around. “Yes, see? We have butts,” turning around again, “and heads, and chests, and arms, legs, fingers, toes…and a couple of dangling bits. Not so much the twiddle you told the tykes.”

Turo, who was slightly ignoring the discourse, began dancing. Feet shifting back and forth became a two-step which then morphed into a jig, of sorts, and then into a full-on whirling dervish type movement. The little ones were fascinated and started to move away from grandfather. Soon, Turo had the beginnings of a Conga line going.

“TURO! Enough, really, like, just leave them alone.”

“Hey, they’re having fun!”

“The old guy looks like he’s going to keel over. Look.”

The grandfather’s face, old man frail, had lost all its color. His hands were shaking, and his straightened body began to sag. The faeries and the children rushed over and helped bring him to a sitting position. Whira went off, back in a flash with some water from their stream. They all sat down around the grandfather, who gathered himself into a semblance of order while he drank.

Finishing, he looked at the two. “Thank you,” he said. Both Turo and Whira nodded to him. “What…what do you want from us?”

Whira and Turo looked at each other. Whira spoke up before Turo could botch things up.

“We just wanted to set you straight on us, the Nuku-mai-tore. You were telling these little ones things that just weren’t true.”

“They were funny.”

“Yes, funny, but not true. See? Some differences between us, but nothing as strange as what you were telling.”

Putting down the large cupped leaf he was drinking out of, grandfather asked: “Would you then share with us the truth? We are all ears,” he said, turning to his charges. “Aren’t we?”

All the children hastily agreed. The one who screamed first went to sit in grandfather’s lap.

Whira and Turo took turns telling stories, both true and crafted fantastical. When the human grouping left, with smiles and thanks, the two faeries went back up their yewhome for a well-earned nap.

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Author’s Note:

The above is another photo prompt, this time from Fiction Can Be Fun. I’ve joined Deb, David, and their blog readers before. I loved this picture the second I set eyes on it, but I was not sure, at first, what to do with it.

It was Deb’s statement that sent me on this path: “this is a family show, so we reserve the right not to post anything that strays into NSFW or offends against ‘common decency’.”

Of course, I took that as a challenge this time around.

If you want to join in, and please do, here’s the info you need:

Use the photo (on top) as your prompt.

Word Count: anything up to 1,000
Deadline: 2pm GMT on Friday 6th July 2018

Fiction Can Be Fun


A reminder to new readers/writers, please post on your own site and add a link in the comments section below.  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.  

Two caveats if you want to go down this route: if you want to retain the copyright, then you will need to state this, and this is a family show, so we reserve the right not to post anything that strays into NSFW or offends against ‘common decency’.

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Waiting On My Man: #FridayFictioneers

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the-met-roger-b

PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot

Waiting On My Man

Milling, milling, milling around. That’s all they do, day after day after day.

They pass me by while doing all those annoying things they do: ignore the screaming kids; scratch their butts; play grab ass; heads bowed, not in genuflection, but consumed by their new iGods; and kiss.

Damn, I miss kissing.

Hephaestus, you bástardos! I’ve been standing around for, oh, over 2,000 of these mortal years, waiting for your sorry ass to show up. ‘I’ll be right back, baby,’ you said. ‘Just wait right here, babe’,” you said. You said a lot of things and I. AM. STILL. WAITING!

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Author’s Note:

It’s #Friday Fictioneers prompt time (and why do I want to sing that to the Howdy Doody theme song?), 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.

Waiting On My Man may not have an exact beginning, middle, and end, but…eh. I had to go look up who the statue whose back is to us in the pic. Lots of things to learn about Athena Parthenos, which led me to the question: if a statue got an itch, who would scratch it? That took me to the above drabble.

Hope you got a chuckle.

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.

Xanthippe’s Rage: 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. Thank you.

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Xanthippe’s Rage

The Abysmal Dollhouse

The soldier had been tireless in his tracking. He had moved beyond the area where the girl (Mary) had been attacked. Weeks had passed since the incident and he knew more. One of the EMT’s had been in country, same tour, different times, but they bonded on the way to the hospital, bumping into each other while the soldier looked over Mary. The EMT had connections with some of the street cops. Sightings got passed down the line; the soldier followed them up, often going further when the police stopped.

One lead took him to an abandoned campsite. Stacks of wood had been piled up by a fire pit made of stones. The ash remains were old, dry and cold, and much of the wood was green, hacked up in a haphazard way. He knew he was in the right place, or a right place, because the immediate area had a heavy smell of burnt wood. It was thick, leaving a sour taste to the air around the pit. The soldier had set up a nest, bivouaced, but a day turned days; frustration set in deep after a week. No one returned. Not kids. Not hunters. Not the attacker. The soldier left, went back to the hospital, hoping some new info would be available.

There was. He moved on it ASAP!

*** *** ***

The Shopkeeper went around the shoppe, dusting, sweeping, moving one dollhouse here, one there. An older dollhouse would leave, a new one taking its place. People were drawn in. Only a very few left. It was all as usual.

The droning from the Muirhouse grew irritating the longer it went on. Nothing had come of it, and the energy of the house was draining away. The Shopkeeper had continued to steer potentials away from it, having placed the dollhouse in the display window, far enough from the pulling in; hoping that its calls of “Child, come!” would travel easier, grab its prey, and bring the monster to them.

It was all as usual, except the Unfolding Doll was spending less time in its shadowed corner and more time visiting the expanse of dollhouses. The Shopkeeper tried to stop this escalation, but the best she could do was lower its frequency, if not the manic drive. The Shopkeeper thought only one thing had changed in her favor: the Unfolding Doll had ceased trying to attack her. She knew it was only for the time being, but she was relieved by the respite.

*** ***

They chased, they chased, and still she bawled
"Child, come! Child, come!"; Oh, he'd heed that call. 
Wiffling through briar and cement
His Vorpal blade would cause lament!

It's close, so close, that hated voice
He had to come; he had no choice. 
He'd send the blade through and through
Make him come; Oh, how they'd rue...

***

“HE’S COME! HE’S COME!”

The cry from the Muirhouse, so piercing it shook the Shopkeeper, just as she had hung up her duster. The door to the shoppe smashed open, the doorbell flew off, tinkling off-key as it skittered across the floor.

His smell hit her first, foul and acrid before he bounded over and backhanded her with his left hand. The Shopkeeper fell back, hitting her counter, causing the glass to grow spider web cracks. He stood glaring at her, eyes wide open, his mouth open revealing rotted and blackened teeth, what ones were still in place.

“You! You called me!” He advanced, knocking over two dollhouses that crashed to the floor. “You…no. Not you.” He stopped, having grabbed the Shopkeeper by her arm, preventing her any space to grab her broom.

“No, I know that hated voice. Where. Is. She?”

In his free hand, he reached into his left side coat pocket and drew out a short sword. The Shopkeeper took in its polish, knew, without doubt, its sharpness. The tip so pointed, looming closer.

“WHERE IS SHE?” he shouted, raising the sword high.

The Soldier hurtled through the broken doorway, tackling the attacker and away from the Shopkeeper. The smell was intense this close, but he needed to get the sword away from this madman. He had been so damn close to catching him out on the street, but the bastard had noticed him in a store window. The soldier gave chase for three blocks before finally…

The hilt of the sword battered into the Soldier’s skull, stunning him. The murderer kicked the soldier off of him and gained his feet. With space, so did the Soldier. As did the Shopkeeper.

She, aching and bloodied, went for her broom. She reached out with her right hand to grip the handle, but it slid out of her grasp, slick with the blood running down her arm. She went for it again and succeeded. Turning to face the fray…turning to face…if the handle hadn’t slipped…

The sharp pointed tip of the blade, the honed edges, the gleaming strong metal, pierced the soldier, deep. The soldier choked as he fell to his knees. Mouth opened in a shout that did not come, eyes popping wide, the soldier tried to grasp the blade with his right hand, losing the mirror fingers of his left.

The Shopkeeper screamed “NO!” as she leveled up her broom, the murderer turning his attention back to her.

As the soldier fell to the floor, as his blood dripped off the Vorpal blade, as the Shopkeeper made her stand…

The Unfolding Doll, knife in hand, burst out of its shadowed corner.

To be continued…

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The AtoZ Blog Challenge

During the month of April 2018, the challenge requires that we write 26 posts, starting with the letter A on April 1st (yes, it’s not an April Fool’s Day joke) and ending with Z on Monday, April 30th. A week or so later, there will be a reflection post that will wrap up this experience, for me as well as my readers.

*I’ve decided to reblog past Abysmal Dollhouse stories on Sundays since we’re not required to write those days. The reblog will not correspond to any specific letter. Just thought you might enjoy some of the previous entries that I’m fond of.

Author’s note: ASAP in civilian life means “As soon as possible”. In military lingo, it means “IMMEDIATELY.” Just thought I’d let ya know before someone thinks the soldier wouldn’t move with haste in this case.

Unfettered Essence: 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. Thank you.

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Unfettered Essence

The Abysmal Dollhouse

The Shopkeeper withdrew to her back room, sans light, sat in her padded chair, and stared into the darkness. What she had done should not have been realized. She had inserted herself into an action that was not her function, her purpose. She was Guardian, Guide, Teacher, Rescuer…Mother. The balance of chaos and order that she maintained, the weighing of those who were drawn to the shoppe, to them she was Judge. But, Executioner? That was not her role to take on.

Until just now, when she lost herself.

With an abyss dwelling sigh, she levered herself out of her chair. Lightly stepping, she stopped at the threshold to the shoppe. Her eyes went to where the Muirhouse and its new companion were displayed; they were there, a low placed mournful weeping coming from the house. The shack, to its side, vibrated in sudden violent bursts, subsided, and then start again.

She thought the Unfolding Doll would still be fixed in place by the dollhouse. It was not there. Instead, moving just her eyes, she espied the doll in its shadowed corner, more an outline than a full figure. The Shopkeeper knew without actually seeing the Unfolding Doll that its black button eyes were on her. Her composure had reset before she left the back room. She swore to herself that she would not let that happen again.

She tidied up her dress and apron and walked into the shoppe proper. Choosing a direction, she went from dollhouse to dollhouse, stopping to inspect them, to feel its wants, needs, pleasures, pains, and in some cases, its madness. She walked around without her tools: both the duster and the broom left in their places by the front counter. If the Shopkeeper had not been so distracted. If.

Each dollhouse she touched. Each one grabbed a tiny bit of her emotional essence, sated and satisfied with the tidbit. The Shopkeeper gave it freely, not drained or diminished, but removed. She gave, they took, they remained silent.

Stopping near her counter, she went to her knees, touching Mike’s house, the Singleton household, and the Derasar. The pleasure of these was returned to her with her giving. Opening a sliding panel at the bottom of this display case, she brought out a replica she had vowed never to display again. She set it down on her front counter.

The Shaded Radiance Emporium, gaudy in decor, twinkled its fairy lights from the fading sunlight that hit it just so. The fake Persian rug was accented by the fake Chintz draperies. The chairs and tables were spool-turned furnitures, meant to give a Victoriana elegance, but falling far short. The roundtable in the center of the room was covered in brushed purple velvet that hung 2/3 of the way down, covering the middle pedestal.  Long strands of colored beads blanketed the two doorways on either end, and the two windows were overtaken with blackout curtains.

A bemused chuckle left the Shopkeeper as she sat down in one of the chairs. She looked at the beaded doorway facing her and waited. Soon enough, the clattering of the beads announced an entrance, much like the door chimes that tinkled in the shoppe. A crystal ball was carried in, but not placed on the table, but off to the side.

“That’s not for you. That’s to come. You, for you, cards.” The older woman, covered in unmatched layers of different colors and patterns, settled her many skirted self into the chair opposite the Shopkeeper.

A croup-like cough came from the older woman, drawing out a large deck of cards from a hidden pocket. “You swore you would never return here. You swore, but I knew. I knew you would have to come to see me. You will still have to see me again, one more time.”

The Shopkeeper sat silent, staring at the woman, then looking at the cards. She did not wish to show that that last statement bothered her more than her being in the Emporium at present.

“You still won’t talk to me. That is fine. The cards will tell us what we need to know. What you need to know.”

She shuffled the cards, placed them face down, and the Shopkeeper cut the deck. The older woman repeated this two more times. On the Shopkeeper’s third cut, the Mystic took the cards and began to lay out a pattern.

Without turning her head, the Shopkeeper knew that the Unfolding Doll was still watching her from across the shoppe.

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

The AtoZ Blog Challenge

During the month of April 2018, the challenge requires that we write 26 posts, starting with the letter A on April 1st (yes, it’s not an April Fool’s Day joke) and ending with Z on Monday, April 30th. A week or so later, there will be a reflection post that will wrap up this experience, for me as well as my readers.

*I’ve decided to reblog past Abysmal Dollhouse stories on Sundays since we’re not required to write those days. The reblog will not correspond to any specific letter. Just thought you might enjoy some of the previous entries that I’m fond of.

This Is Not My…: 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. Thank you.

camino+de+amor+perdido#6

This Is Not My…

The Abysmal Dollhouse

4:00 p.m.; The scond day
Vorpal Knife; Time to slay.
Following the jogger, unawares,
He caught her midstep by her hair.

A yelp, a shock, but she did fall
No other sound was made, none at all.
The Vorpal Blade went snicker-snak
As she lay on ground, on her back.

Looking up, grabbing his hand
Fading fast, muscles not in command
He brushed it away, with such ease
Nothing would delay, not her pleading “please!”

Three jabs fell, precise, deep
Life force ebbed, the blood seeped.
Oblivion attained, Vorpal Blade sheathed
One more to come, one more to cleeve.

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

Broom in hand, the Shopkeeper worked her way through the shoppe. She had a determination to her, but she fought it. The strength of the Unfolding Doll’s monomania was poisoning the energy that ran through the dollhouses and their “guests.” Their chants for more ebbed and flow, whether someone entered the shoppe or not.  The Wall of Death wailed, new skulls replacing ones that crumbled, their stories gone to dust.

The Shopkeeper was on edge. This had happened before, but never to this degree. “Drastic measures” ran through the Shopkeeper’s mind. Measures she had never attempted, but she talked herself into hoping this would prove a possible solution. She wouldn’t know until she tried.

With a commanding “HUSH!” and a twist of her broom, silence returned. The houses ceased; in fear or anticipation, the Shopkeeper did not care. It was done. Now, the real task fell on her shoulders.

She gingerly walked over to the Muirhouse. She had stirred others away from this house, in a sense starving it of its malevolent ethos. The hope was that its spirit would be a draw, bringing the one who had helped damn her to this shoppe. The one who took away the one dear thing in her life, leaving a terror in his wake. The strongest connection was within the Muirhouse, and whatever means possible…

The Shopkeeper reined herself in. She closed her eyes, taking deep breaths in, slowly letting them out. She rolled her neck, trying to ease the tautness. Opening her eyes, fixed on the dollhouse, she realized that acting in a Machiavellian way was not her nature. She was feeding off of the deep well of the Unfolding Doll, and that just would not do.

Bringing her broom horizontally, heart high, the Shopkeeper gripped the handle, spreading her fingers over as much width as possible. Her left foot went straight towards the Muirhouse; her right was turned towards the right, second position. She adjusted her balance. It would do no good to teeter during her casting.

Concentrating, focusing, controlling her breaths, she began. Words did not form through her lips, but the pattern became a swirling concordance that wove through her. Mixed in were the command words: “Tell Hime To Come!” It would variegate itself, taking on a new configuration every third repetition. By the end of the third set, the Shopkeeper had salt laden sweat sting her eyes.

Closing her eyes, she stopped, gave her inner voice freedom of appreciation, and finally lowered her broom. Her knees buckled and she would have fallen flat to the floor if not for her firm hold on the broom.

And the hands of the Unfolding Doll, bracing the back of the Shopkeeper’s upper arms. Slowly, she slid down to a sitting position, the Muirhouse displayed just behind her head. The Unfolding Doll walked backward, but only a few feet instead of its usual retreat into the shadowed corner. Its button eyes were not on the Shopkeeper but on the Muirhouse.

Without looking, she knew she had failed. The power of this dollhouse was strong; the Unfolding Doll rarely ventured near it, let alone enter. The Shopkeeper somehow knew it wasn’t fear that caused the avoidance. It was so much deeper than fear.

She swiveled around on the floor and slid open the cabinet door underneath the dollhouse presentation surface. Staring into the darkened space she made out the minature that she had never wanted to display. Her inner fight on going this far was as exhausting as what she had attempted with the Muirhouse only moments ago. Glancing over her shoulder, she saw that the Unfolding Doll had crouched, staring into that darkness. The Shopkeeper noticed that its knife was back in its hand.

Reaching in, letting out a deep sigh, the Shopkeeper brought out the dilapidated Wood Shed. Chains were affixed to one wall. It was moldy, in need of a thorough demolition, tossed in a roaring fire, its ashes scattered by the wind. She knew all this, yet she still took it out of its crypt and, standing, placed it alongside the Muirhouse.

A shriek pierced the entire shoppe, one that did not stop until a chant began, coming from Muirhouse. The sound moved from room to room, loudest by the windows, echoing down the hallways. The shriek stopped by the back door, by the kitchen. From the window grew a chant: “burn it, burn it, take an ax, burn it, burn it.”

Gathering her broom in her hands, and her resolve set, the Shopkeeper drowned out the incessant wail from the dollhouse.

“You will be quiet, and you will listen!” she said, voice clipped and harsh. “You will call out to him. You will draw him here. Call him with your harshness. Call him with your cruelty. Call him with your anger, despair, rejection, jealousy, hatred. Call to him; bring him here. You will call to him to come here…or the Wood House will have a new tenant. Muirhouse looks like it would burn nicely in a fireplace.”

The house was silent, but a shaking of the windows, the creaking of boards, spoke volumes.

The Unfolding Doll had sidled up alongside the Shopkeeper. Their attention was solely on the house. They stood there, staring, for three minutes. Finally, the force of the Muirhouse tumbled, and a tinny voice could just be heard.

The house called: “Child. Come.” Like a beacon on the Lighthouse, the beseeching continued at regular intervals.

The Shopkeeper made her way to her counter, deposited her broom, and trudged into the back, not turning on the light.

The Unfolding Doll stood sentinel over the Muirhouse and its Wood House.

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

The AtoZ Blog Challenge

During the month of April 2018, the challenge requires that we write 26 posts, starting with the letter A on April 1st (yes, it’s not an April Fool’s Day joke) and ending with Z on Monday, April 30th. A week or so later, there will be a reflection post that will wrap up this experience, for me as well as my readers.

*I’ve decided to reblog past Abysmal Dollhouse stories on Sundays since we’re not required to write those days. The reblog will not correspond to any specific letter. Just thought you might enjoy some of the previous entries that I’m fond of.

Real Neat Blog Award: Peachy Keeno

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So, second time in two weeks, I have a blogging award. Never heard of this one before, but it was created by Dear Kitty: Some Blog in 2014.

I was nominated by someone new (to me) who I discovered, again, through the 2018 AtoZ Blog Challenge. The blogger behind A Creative PTSD Gal is busy busy busy. She writes from the heart, and it has been a pleasure to discover her. Two blogs, a whole big family, life…and she does it. Not everyone can. Since she writes a bit more personal items, I don’t think it’s in my wheelhouse to go deeper into her reasons. Check out the above link and I think you’ll be pleased you did. Thank you for the nomination. I hope I can remain neato keeno.

Here come the rules:

The Rules:

  1. Display the award logo: DONE
  2. Thank the blogger who nominated you and post a link to their blog: DONE
  3. Answer the questions of the one who nominated you: See Below
  4. Nominate 5-10 bloggers: See Below Below
  5. Ask them 7 questions: See Below Below Below

PTSD Gal’s Questions for MOI:

  1. What is the most difficult part of your artistic practice? I try not to write during the day because of interruptions (phone calls, mail, meals, life). I usually like starting about 11:00 pm EST.
  2. What has been the most difficult thing to date that you have written about? My one man play based on my father. He was a survivor of Auschwitz.
  3. Do you limit yourself to edits? Not sure how to answer this one. I hate editing, but I know it has to be done. I’ve gotten better as I’ve aged, like a fine cheese.
  4. Snack or no snack when writing? Beverages always; snacks only when my taste buds cry.
  5. What or who encourages you to keep posting to your blog? Right now, I push myself. It keeps me from negative things.
  6. What did you want to grow up to be when you were little? A scientist &/or a comic book writer.
  7. Do you have a writing buddy? (Dog, cat, fish, snake etc…) Nope. I’ve got dust. Does dust count?

Bloggers I nominate are:

Seven Real Neat Questions:

  1. What car would you own if money is no question?
  2. What author would you like to sit down with and pick their brains?
  3. What is your favorite story about Winter?
  4. If you had to “Kill Your Baby” (talk to Stephan King) in a book/story you’ve written, who are you most sorry you had to do in? If you haven’t, who should get the axe?
  5. What book have you read more than once?
  6. One of these is real: Magic (Paranormal) or UFO’s. Which one, and why?
  7. What is YOUR favoriteist blog posting from your blog(s)? Please copy and paste your link here

Quoth The Riven: 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. Thank you.

headstones

Quoth The Riven

 The Abysmal Dollhouse

Victor was weak, weary, the dreary night neverending. He leaned against tombstone, almost falling over, carved name and dates faded away. Resting over this forgotten soul Victor thought he might stop for a moment, maybe sit down, maybe close his eyes, maybe refresh himself. He was halfway down, already starting to nod off.

The noise came from a short distance behind him, snapping his head up from his chin. That damned tapping, again. Metal on stone. Tap, tap, tapping, until it became a pounding in his skull. Gritting his teeth, eyes ablaze, he screamed out that devil’s name: “Victoria!” Only that, and nothing more.

Harried, he hurried off, jumping o’er a downed sign. If Victor had time, or care, he would still have been able to make out what the sign read: “Westminister Baptist Churchyard.” Even if he had stopped to read it, it would have meant nothing to him, especially being chased. That infernal tap, tap, tapping. The sound propelled him to his feet. He ran.

Pools of light were scattered throughout the yard, lampposts here and there, lit lanterns once in a while. The moonlight leaked through breaks in the clouds then vanished behind the murky sky. The lanterns cast a twisted light, an off yellow hue, giving the grassy ground a look of velvet, the green giving way to a purple haze. Victor’s heart beat faster, more than his exertions demanded. Peering back, the true darkness ate away at what light he left behind him.

Victor cursed as he ran. “Victoria. Victoria. Victoria!” spat out, counterpoints to the tap, tap, tapping. Crashing through the brush, skipping over broken stone, he ran pell-mell, occasionally tripping, falling, scurrying to his feet to try to escape what was coming after him. This last bout of tripping brought him to his knees, panting.

Looking up, gasping for air, was a backlit shadow of a figure. The lamplight was behind it.

“Victoria?” he asked.

The figure stepped into the light, appearing for the first time this go around. Instantly, Victor froze. Instantly, he realized the mistake he’d been making, forgetting it was not Victoria, it was this…thing. Instantly, he saw the gleaming knife.

“No more!” Yelling, he bolted upright, wheeled around, and bolted.

The Unfolding Doll gave chase. The dense air cut by its pursuit. The scent of Victor’s sweat wafted behind him, leaving a trail something sour. The Unfolding Doll did not breathe in, did not smell what her prey produced. What sent it forward, what drove it, was his unbridled fear. It was pouring out of him.

“No more!” he yelled into the darkness in front of him as he raced on. “No more!” His energy, fed more by his fear than anything, began to waver. He drooped. He dropped, eventually, landing on his knees again, hands on the ground.

“Let me be! Let me be. You’ve sliced me apart, dug your blade into me so many times. No more. Please. No more.” Tears brimmed and fell.

The Unfolding Doll came forward. First a jab, then a slice, continuously flitting about him. It stabbed and punctured, skewered and speared, struck and carved. All the while, Victor’s voice pleading “No more, no more, no more”, trailing off into dead silence.

A few aisles over, at the Waverly Hills Sanitorium, a woman screamed out “VICTOR!” In her padded room, on her padded floor, smacking her head into the padded wall, Victoria repeated his name until she fell unconscious.

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

The AtoZ Blog Challenge

During the month of April 2018, the challenge requires that we write 26 posts, starting with the letter A on April 1st (yes, it’s not an April Fool’s Day joke) and ending with Z on Monday, April 30th. A week or so later, there will be a reflection post that will wrap up this experience, for me as well as my readers.

*I’ve decided to reblog past Abysmal Dollhouse stories on Sundays since we’re not required to write those days. The reblog will not correspond to any specific letter. Just thought you might enjoy some of the previous entries that I’m fond of.

Edgar Allen Poe‘s grave resides in Baltimore. The place is supposedly haunted.

Liebster Award Sunday: not lobster; 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. Thank you.
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“Share, Discover, and Enjoy!” That is the underlying mission of Shari Marshall’s blog, Writing is Communication. We discovered our mutual blogs through the 2018 AtoZ Blog Challenge. It has been a pleasure discovering her work: focusing on a fantasy world continuing story through a drabble (100-word complete flash fiction). It’s not easy to par down all you want to say in just 100 words, make the post complete, AND have it tell an engaging ongoing narrative…well, Shari accomplishes it, and does so very, very well. I’ve linked the title to her blog: go check it out. Now. Shoo. Do it. I’ll stick around for the nonce.

As to the Leibster Award: AtoZ and other blog challenges are two-fold. (1) The most obvious is that they are challenges for the blogger to meet the requirements in whatever they are tasked to do; not always the easiest thing to accomplish, but the reward is in making a go of it and hoping you can see it through to the end. (2) The most important element (to me, anyways) is to discover new blogs and their creators. I’ve come across some amazing sites, followed & continue to follow most, became online friends with a lot of them, and one more intense crossing of paths.

Nominating blogs you admire is tied into the blogging community. It shows appreciation for what you’ve produced beyond hitting a like button, or stars ratings; even beyond leaving a gushing comment or three. While there are many “rules” for the Leibster Award, here are the

RULES OF THE LIEBSTER AWARD 2018
The rules are:

1. Acknowledge the blogger who nominated you and display the award logo.
2. Answer 11 questions that the blogger sets for you.
3. Nominate blogs that you think are deserving of the award.
4. Create 11 questions for your nominees to answer.
5. Let your nominees know about their nomination!

Hey Shari: I acknowledge you. Phew. That one was easy peasy.

I shall now endeavor to answer her eleven questions, sorta like a magical quest:

  1. Do you think that a writer has to be defined by one genre?

Absolutely not. I do my darndest not to. I believe a writer should move beyond what becomes their comfort zone.  Write what moves you that day. I’ve attempted a lot of genres and styles. Some more successful than others. My blog is an open…blog. The list of the last 50 or so is to the right. Scroll down. Discover. I have favorites that went nowhere.

2. What is your favourite writing topic?

Paranormal stuff. Horror, lately, it seems.

3. Do you have a book that you recommend to other readers on a regular occasion? What and why?

Knots, by RD Laing. It blew my mind wide open at 17. I suggest that if you tackle it, you must read it in one sitting, late at night. If you do, I think you’ll also get a good insight of the mess that is my thinking process.

4. Book version or movie version?

Depends on the book and the movie. Each is its own animal. Caveat: If the movie is trying to be a “faithful adaptation” of the book, then you better damn well be faithful. Loose adaptations, where the director is adding her/his voice (which is the majority) I’ll try and take it as a separate entity. Please note: I wrote “try.” Just be good. Don’t suck.

5. If I gave you the word “vellichor” as a writing jump off point where might you jump?

The Last Used Bookstore In The Known Worlds

6. What would be your dream setting to write in?

THE comfy chair, headrest perfectly aligned (with massage system embedded and  attuned to every ache). THE perfectly brewed Black Cherry Iced Tea. THE best snack at hand: sweet or savory, as needed. THE well-trained puppy and kitten, needing attention; being perfect momentary distractions. Last, but definitely not least, THE love of my life, for fuller distraction and attention, cuddles, kisses, massages (who need the comfy chair, then?), and other things only she can provide.

7. What is your favourite season?

Fall. Cool, breezy weather. Ahhhhhhhhhhhh

8. Who is your favourite villain? Why?

Catwoman. Meow. Does one really need to ask?

9. Who is your favourite hero? Why?

I’m Batman, Damnit.

10. What does writing mean to you?

Release. Distraction. Creativity. Justification. Acknowledgement. Appreciation. Love.

11. How would you respond to either of these quotes from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, “If you don’t know where you are going any road can take you there” or “No wise fish would go anywhere without a porpoise.”

I’ll take “The Road Less Traveled” for $2000, Alex.

Phew. All done. Wait? That was only #2 on the Liebster rules????? OY…I’m dying!!! Ok, here are my TOP OF THE POPS:

Fiction Can Be Fun   Yes, both of you!!!

A Creatvie PTSD Gal

A Bit To Read

Iain Kelly

Swerve Strikes Again

WordDreams

I’m exhausted. But wait…there’s more.

OK. Here are MY elven…um…I mean eleven questions that the six nominees (well, 7) NEED to answer. There will be a quiz. BONUS POINTS: answer any of the questions with WHY you answered that way. Up to you. No pressure. ::::Unfolding Doll sharpening its knife::::

  1. If you could write in any writers voice besides your own, whose would it be?
  2. What literary genre holds NO interest for you?
  3. What song with a strong narrative still touches you?
  4. What fictional character do you wish you were?
  5. Savory or Sweet?
  6. What are “The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of?”
  7. You stumble upon a magic rock. Picking it up, you discover something underneath. What is it?
  8. Have you had an inexplicable experience? What was it?
  9. What fiction book would you recommend to me?
  10. What movie or TV show do you love but hate to admit it?
  11. What does writing mean to you? (yes, I’m stealing it from Shari. Deal).

Have fun kiddos.

I’m done. Lunch and nap.

Tomorrow: N is for…