Category Archives: Science Fiction

The Tod Chronicles: Book 4

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@Richard_Kadrey Prompt

The Tod Chronicles Book 4

I. The Dangling Participle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If only he had a Spork ®.

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

Who am I?

I’m Jim. Welcome to my world.

Stupid Tod.

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

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

Mars Blows

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

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Author’s Note:

The above pulp cover prompt was “altered” by Author Richard Kadrey. He has been posting, on Twitter, reworked/photoshopped covers of old pulp(ish) novels, changing them to show off his brand of humor. I just thought it’d be fun to write a few story posts from Mr. Kadrey’s. So, yes, this is my writing, not Mr. Kadrey’s.

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

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

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

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Orangutan Space

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Orangutan Space

The DTGA Pongo maneuvered through space in their combat-proven zig-zag swinging style, trying to outrun the R.O.c.K.’s that were heading their way. If even one hit the ship they were finished. Alpha Leader 1 scrunched on the command deck, giving orders to all stations in quick, short Long Calls His pack blew up three, but the fourth one was still hanging on their tail. It was getting too close for comfort.

He looked around, proud of the assemblage of Bornean and Sumatran tribes. They worked well together even though he had been warned the mixing would not work. He was glad that his superiors in DTGA were wrong. He wanted to bring his space boat home and rub their faces in the mud. Taunt him? “They don’t know the meaning of taunt,” he kept to himself.

Beta Follower 1 and 2 were at the weapons relay, trying to get a fix on the last Rapacious Omni Combative Killer. They were both chittering away, trying out by the book plans at first and finally got down to what works: Pantsing the Controls. They were good at it, and AL1 gave them space to prove it. He just needed them to make something work, and fast.

“Bring Lens Hood Rear, increase to Pi magnification. Put it on the big screen,” he barked out, still focussed on his two weapons masters and the screen above their shaggy heads.

The Opticals brightened the images he was looking for. Yes, the Panthera ORBShips were hanging back; they were recharging their weapons. “Speed level TT. NOW! Optics: set focus to normal.”

The thrust sent the crews hair up and back as the Pongo leaped to obey.

“We got it,” came, in unison, from BF 1& 2. BF1 corrected a Pathfinder while BF 2 fired their own version of the enemies R.O.c.K.’s. Their Howl Boom was flung at the R.O.c.K. in climb mode, then did a dead drop onto the incoming death behind them.

They all watched the HB blast the R.O.c.K. into pebble size pieces. Gamma Pilot 1 avoided the rubble, knowing it could still do damage to the Pongo. All the tension dropped when Ze, GP1,  announced their safety. Much chest bumps and playful taps ensued. Al1 was tempted to order Ze to flip the ship and face the two Panthera class OrbShips and giving the go to BF1 & BF2 to power up their weapons. His mission was not that; it was just bad juju that they encountered the enemy.

“AL1,” the Gamma Pilot asked. “Original destination, or…” knowing what they all wanted: take out the two Pantera ships.

“No ‘or’, Ze. Back to base. Original directive. Get us back, but all eyes on hiding spots. They caught us this time. I don’t want a second.”

“Understood,” the Gamma Pilot responded. Ze set the controls and they zipped towards base.

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

The AL1 was back in his nest, having turned over command to AL2. His mate, Fear of Fire, was cuddling him after a rigorous session. Their uniforms were on the floor and they rested seven HandSpans above the mess.

He was on the point of falling asleep until he heard her say his name.

“Person of the Forest…” She was swirling her fingers through his massive chest hair.

“Hmmm?”

“We have to make a decision before we get to base.”

“FoF, we’ve talked about this before. I can not go back to Taiga with you. My position is too important, the mission is too important.” He turned over to look at her. “I would like you to stay, be a full member on this boat.”

She removed her hand from his chest.”I have no place among the crew. A Fracture Explorer would be useless on Pongo. I study the soil of the planets we go to.  I’ve had to broaden my knowledge into liquids of the world, and what effects the winds have on all of this” She raised her hand between them, stopping him from interrupting. “Yes, I know, I can do my job of worlds you visit or get abducted to, rescue as many alien races you can when their sun is its death throes. But in between? There is nothing for me to do past analyzing my samples and recording them. There is so much time you are in space, flying here and there, fighting the Pantera fleet or just wandering aimlessly.”

“I don’t wander…”

“Yes, you do.

There was an uncomfortable silence that lasted a second too long.

“I like wandering, ok? It’s in my nature. Pongo is my home, this crew has become my family.” He paused. “I would like for us to be family.”

She sighed. He sighed. It was going to be a long cycle off.

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

Time passed slowly on their way back. FoF moved back into her nest, for now, and Person had other things to contend with. A restlessness that had been a small thing, that he thought he had shut down, started to become a mess. As AL1, he had to control the situation and shut it down. Fast.

He was waiting for the three Arbitrators to arrive at the Discussion Module. He kept sighing & grimacing while he sat there. This was what the superiors at the DTG were antsy about. He had gotten his way by a squeaky inch. The mixture of the three groupings of their people was a global challenge that he wanted to win. Finally getting permission, he assembled the best at their jobs, no matter what they were: the Fringed, male and female, and the Unfringed. Ze fell into that group and was lusted over by the some of the Fringed groups, and taunted…hell…hated by the rest.

Each grouping held 1/3 of the crew population. The Zir third originally stuck together, fearful of the bias that had gone on for so long on Taiga. Shunned, the closed minded resorting to violence whenever they thought they were safe, Zir became their own crusade. He remembered the many slogans that incited some riots: “Armed Unhinged, You Can’t Toss Us Aside” was the most incendiary. Things got hot for a bit, then cooled down as real discourse began. It ended with Zir truly becoming part of the whole. A ban on the violence took a little bit more to creep into the empty-headed. The repercussions harsh.

Things changed. At least on the outside.

The three arrived together, late, but together. That was a hopeful sign, he thought. He put the part of him that was Person of the Forest and resumed his role as the AL1 for the meeting. Nodded at the AL1, and the Fringed representatives Long Called for him. The Unfringed represntative  did not say anything: the two Fringe waited. The tension rose in the room, but The Unfringed Zir finally let a lackluster “Hoot.”AL1 sighed. This was going to be a long meeting.

Until the Klaxon went ballistic.

“Fire in the Cargo Hold. Fire. This is not a drill. The Cargo Hold is losing pressure. Repeat: Fire. Cargo Hold. Pressure Loss.” The ships’ AI was at her loudest, not trusting the crew to respond with the urgency. AL1 heard her like this at the worse of times.

“Acknowledged, GALDI+!3. Normal level, please. Contact all non-responders to leave their level. AL1 out.”

Bolting out of his platform, AL1 got on the emergency wave. “Damage Control. Every one of you! To the hold. NOW!”

As he raced through Pongo, one thought hit him: did Ze miss part of the Orb that we exploded? Too much time had passed, but, if he thought it, he could bet his last piece of fruit that other Fringed thought so as well.

The mess could turn uglier. Might. Would. He wished he could have gotten the meeting started at least. He hoped there would be time after this became controlled.

He hooted if anyone was in his way in the corridors. Fixing the problem in the hold was the paramount priority. He’ll see what can be accomplished after that, hoping things did not escalate.

If it did, and Ze or another Unfringed had a paw in this, his superiors at the DTG-the Don’t Tough Ground-would roast him alive.

Letting out a huge sigh, AL1 raced as fast as he could to get to the hold.

If this wasn’t an accident,” he thought, “then who set it?”

To Be Continued?

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Author’s Note:

1) The To Be Continued? is really up to the readers. I mainly get comments and likes on the drabbles from another prompt challenge, Friday Fictioneers. My other posts, close to nothing. If it’s critical feedback, I’m open for it. Can’t improve (if it needs it) if no one brings it up. It also helps make writing worthwhile. So, do you want to see the next chapter of Orangutan Space, please let me know. Thanks.

2) So, a pondering on Tweeter led me to the above story. Even though it was a ponder, I saw it as a prompt challenge. In David’s words:

Thought for the day: the world could do with more genre fiction. Imagine: orangutan detective noir; orangutan steampunk; orangutan space opera. The world would, I suggest, be a happier place,

hdr_anm_orangutan-870x400

(This wasn’t the inital photo prompt. I just liked it.)

3) It also fit another prompt from Fiction Can Be Fun, the shared website that David and Debs write alongside each other.

Here are the rules from Fiction Can Be Fun, if you want to take their prompt challenge:

Write about a colony on another planet or in space. Bonus points for building in the theme of the classical elements (earth, wind, fire, water) and/or for approaching it from the perspective of an alien species. The photo above is also a prompt piece to use or not use.

500-1,000 words
Deadline: 2pm on Friday 10th August 2018

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.

 

Prologue: The Tod

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Prologue

The Tod

Mars was a sterile,  fairly abusive, planet. Everything was covered in this orange moss, spongy in some places, hard as rivets in the majority. Mars was the last place anyone on the crew wanted to be but the pay was decent. Not enough to buy a Micro Space, but enough to eat and get zoned out. Tod and the gang wanted more. They just needed to find something exrtaordinary that might bring in a hefty bonus that the company keeps dangling in from of them.

It had not been easy from the countdown. It just got worse from there.

The transport had a hell of a time finding enough flat to land on. Took awhile, since the majority of Mars was a land of craggy crags. It wasn’t easy.

They had broken three Scrambler units while collectings samples.  The fourth Scrambler made it the farthest before it, too, went to join Scrambler Heaven. Tod, Dave, and Hal had to push and pull to get it back to the ship.

Tod had found something unique. Well, he thought it was unique: a perfect round globe, white. No seams. It was lighter than he expected.  Dave and Hal argued if it was or wasn’t. Tod out-stubborned the two of them and made a deal for sharing rights, if it did turn out he was right. They all grumbled as the pushed and pulled the Scrambler.

Internal suit systems were supposed to regulate a lot of things to keep them safe and comfortable. His cooling unit broke down right after they got over the first hump of a hill. Sweat was pouring off of Tod, even more so than almost getting eaten by the man-eating space ducks.

Jim, his ex-captain, saved his life but made that life a living hell.  The mission on Anates was semi-successful, but no matter what Tod did-not even saving Jim’s life from the Duck Princess-was good enough. He was expelled from Rogue Fleet with no pension. He had to find a job, and fast.

Damn Jim, that passive-aggressive noodlehead. Tod was glad to be done with him.

He did miss Debbee though.

Which brought him here, a Basura Hauler. He’d spit if he wasn’t in a contained space. Tod commed the others if they needed a break. Both enthusiastically agreed-a first.

They secured the Scrambler the best they could and settled in. They sat together, leaning against their sampler. No one talked, trying to conserve air. They’d already used a lot, but they two more hours, give or take. Plan was to get as close to the pick-up, pin the Scramble down, and get out of the suits to refill the air tanks. Tod also needed his coolant system checked out.

Tod had been nodding off a few times, waking up with a jerk each time. The jerk, though, was not voluntary. He commed the others: neither answered. Getting up, Tod saw the depressions in the moss that Hal and Dave made. Just no Hal and Dave.

He looked around, called them again. A great big NADA. He went to the Scrambler, checking to see if they went inside for some reason.

When Tod opened the back of the Scrambler there was no sign of Dave or Hal. Just the unique, to him, white globe.

They had put in a crate. There was no crate now. The thing was floating in the middle of the space, turning colors in a slow rotation. Black, orange, green, and then…red. It began to pulse with the globe emitting light. Red light. Tod started to back up, thoughts of getting away, running as best as he could in the suit.

The crags under him shifted in a jerky motion (“Ah that’s what I…”) when his inner thought was cut off. A hole opened up under him so fast he had no time to do anything to save himself.

As he continued falling, he looked up and saw the hole seal up instantly.

“MARS BLOWS!!!” Tod yelled as he continued his descent.

***********************************************
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/photoshopped covers of old pulp(ish) novels, changing them to show off his brand of humor. I just thought it’d be fun to write a few 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 whimsey, worth reading. He’s not just another pretty face.

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

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

 

Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed this.

Chapter 7: “He’s not dead, Jim.”

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@Richard_Kadrey Prompt

Chapter 7:

“He’s not dead, Jim.”

“He’s not dead, Jim,” Debbee, the ship’s AI, relayed.

“Damn it!” Jim faced the monitor, the screen turning from green to a blood red. He hung his head and sighed.  “Ok. I misspoke. I meant to say Damn glad that Tod’s still with us. Yes indeedy.”

Debbee’s voice rebounded from all around. She only opened all channels when she was so pissed off that it spiraled down to her core programming. “Uh huh. Sure. I can tell how deeply moved you are.”

Jim always mumbled when his emotional state maxed out. This time it was anger mixed with a dash of guilt and a smidgen of petulance. So, he cursed.

“Jim, Jim, Jim. How many times have you been told-and not just by me-that your mumbling is a major irritant?”

He was in no mood for a lecture, especially from Debbee. Before his mouth worked without his brain Jim turned and activated the gurney. Debbee did the initial assessment. Now it was time to get him to the Med so it can do its magic. He followed the floating gurney; not that he needed to, but it was a good distraction.

Jim heard a scratching sound down by his right hand. “Huh.” He was clutching the remains of the Rogue Fleet Spork, supposedly the finest weapon in all the forty-two planets. “Yeah, right,” he mumbled.

“JIM!”

He kept moving on, finally reaching the med door. It swooshed silently open. Tod’s gurney went directly into the Medicus unit. Jim watched as the diagnostics protocol turned Tod purple for a few minutes while it reduced his clothing to recyclable mush.  Then the part Jim hated everytime he was hurt: Tod was tubed, injected, catheterized, IV’d, and skull-capped.

The whole procedure sent shudders racing through Jim. He had better things to do than to watch Tod, stupid freaking Tod, get hooked up. As he was leaving, he finally realized he was still holding the defunct Spork. Jim walked over to the recycling unit and tossed it in.

“Are you sure you want to do that, Jim?” Debbee chimed in.

“Well, gee, let me think. It’s broken beyond repair, half fused melted, and the Spork barely did its job when it wasn’t in that condition. So, yes, I want to recycle it. Now.” He waited a moment. Nothing happened. He sighed and finally said “Please.”

~~~~~~~~~~

Jim unlocked his cabin and the single door swooshed silently open, and then closed once he entered. He hung his cape, then his uniform, in the SteamSteward, pressed the Dry Clean cycle, and let it do its thing.

Sitting on his bed, he took the unfinished bulb of the Vulpes 24 and slurped it down. The warmth dribbled down his throat. Jim licked his lips, finding the last bit of liquid satisfaction. He tossed the bulb, turned off the lights, and settled in.

It took a long time for Jim to fall asleep. His mind was racing around with all that had happened on Anates: the high, gusting winds that made his cape flock around; the sudden attack from the man-eating Space Ducks; Tod, stupid Tod, not having his Spork and getting clipped by a few of the Ducks; having to protect Tod, stupid Tod, from further attacks as he bled on the ground; the fight for survival; and then noticing the blonde vixen on that horse-like thing.

Jim thought he noticed her directing the ducks. He wasn’t sure since trying to stay alive and protect stupid Tod. After taking down five of the ducks and noticing there were no more trying to eat him, Jim turned to look for the blond. She was gone. He hadn’t heard her arrive and hadn’t heard her leave. He was missing something. He knew it, but couldn’t find it in the mess going on in his head.

These thoughts swirled around Jim’s mind until finally, they spiraled him down into a deep sleep. His REM cycle was active and only increasing. The cover sheet was kicked off, wadded into the corner of the bed. His pillow was next, flung to the floor. Jim’s pulse and breathing grew frantic.

Debbee, who monitored Jim and Tod, sounded a blaring noise to wake him up. She repeated it, adding new sounds, upping the level, until it was all a discordant cacophony of sound.

Jim was still asleep.

“Tod is awake, Jim. TOD IS AWAKE.”

Jim bolted awake and sat up. “Stupid Tod,” he mumbled. Debbee let this one pass.

He was drenched in night sweat and his head was ringing. Debbee’s com screen was a bright yellow and spread across the room.

“I knew something was off. I knew it!”

“Jim, what was off?”

“The blond. She had wings. She had wings. She looked like us, but she had wings.”

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

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/photoshopped covers of old pulp(ish) novels, changing them to show off his brand of humor. I just thought it’d be fun to write a few 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 whimsey, worth reading. He’s not just another pretty face.

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

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

The Once and Future Gigolo: Chapit Youn

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@Richard_Kadrey Prompt

The Once and Future Gigolo

Chapit  Youn

Click. Taptaptaptap taptaptap. Taptaptaptap taptaptapp µëæΩ∩.

Ding

“Hey, hi. How…”

Qo’ reH jIHvaD contact jatlhqa’ pagh pIHoH jIH!

DingDing

“OK. Be that way.”

Click. Taptaptaptap taptaptap. Taptaptaptap taptaptapp øǧBH99.

Ding

“Hey, hi. It’s…”

Great! Now I am a Master of Alien Language!Wow, I'm writing in Alien Language !Graduate School in Alien Language here I come !Wow, I'm writing in Alien Language !Wow, I'm writing in Alien Language !Alien Language will be great for my resume !Yes ! Now I can get a job because I know Alien Language ! Great! Now I am a Master of Alien Language!Wow, I'm writing in Alien Language !I'm doing my homework in Alien Language !Great! Now I am a Master of Alien Language!Wow, I'm writing in Alien Language !I'm doing my homework in Alien Language !I currently hold a Degree in Alien LanguageGreat! Now I am a Master of Alien Language!Graduate School in Alien Language here I come !I currently hold a Degree in Alien LanguageAlien Language will be great for my resume !I currently hold a Degree in Alien LanguageGraduate School in Alien Language here I come !

Graduate School in Alien Language here I come !Graduate School in Alien Language here I come !Great! Now I am a Master of Alien Language!Graduate School in Alien Language here I come !Great! Now I am a Master of Alien Language!Alien Language will be great for my resume !Graduate School in Alien Language here I come !Alien Language will be great for my resume !I currently hold a Degree in Alien LanguageWow, I'm writing in Alien Language !Yes ! Now I can get a job because I know Alien Language ! Great! Now I am a Master of Alien Language!Alien Language will be great for my resume !Yes ! Now I can get a job because I know Alien Language ! Alien Language will be great for my resume !Yes ! Now I can get a job because I know Alien Language ! Graduate School in Alien Language here I come !Graduate School in Alien Language here I come !Yes ! Now I can get a job because I know Alien Language !

Wow, I'm writing in Alien Language !I'm doing my homework in Alien Language !Graduate School in Alien Language here I come !I'm doing my homework in Alien Language !Wow, I'm writing in Alien Language !I currently hold a Degree in Alien LanguageYes ! Now I can get a job because I know Alien Language ! Graduate School in Alien Language here I come !

DingDing

“Damn.”

Click. Taptaptaptap taptaptap. Taptaptaptap taptaptapp 8675309.

“Hey…”

37194421_10160600408095076_7018920346367557632_n

DingDing

“Huh? Damn Damn Damn!”

Click. Taptaptaptap taptaptap. Taptaptaptap taptaptapp MÓOÞNŒG±O.

Ding

“Hey, hi. It’s me. How…”

 

“Do not EVER contact me again, or I will kill you.”

“But…but, Dale…I…”

“Don’t you “but Dale” me, Jackson. Flash and I have…had…have an open relationship, but you took it way too far, like you always do.”

“But…but…”

“Yeah, first emptying his credit account and then telling Flash about our weekend at Ganymede’s Pleasure Dome-and in such detail-dumb move. Really dumb.”

“Dale, please…”

“NO! Enough. I don’t care how drunk you were, or hopped up, or whatever. I’ve had enough of ‘Supernova’ Jackson. And…I’m not the only one. You can’t diddle around the dome and not hear what’s going down. Everyone knows. Grok that?”

“Oh.”

“Yes. ‘Oh.’ Done. I’m done!”

DingDingAPOZZ↓¥MÜ

The last image he had of Dale signing off was her hand slamming down on her own panel. Jackson’s screen blanked out, followed immediately by a harsh electrical rip that flashed across the screen, frying the control panel.

“Damn,” he said, his chin hitting his chest as his eyelids closed, gritted shut.

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

Jackson was on his back, sometimes a favorite position but not this time. He had spent the last cycle replacing his control panel and was on the finishing touches. One touch almost finished him.

“哎他妈的!!!”

Self-soothing his index finger in his mouth, Jackson pulled himself out from under the console. He levered himself into his chair and pressed the mauve button.

Nothing happened.

Pressing it again had the same effect. And again. Banging the panel with both fists and kicking it from his sitting position yielding the same results. Deflated, he laid his head down, feeling the coolness of the Ti-Strength plas pressing against his forehead.

The control panel clicked on.

“OK D.R. Let’s take this home.”

“Of course, Supernova. Sit back and relax, and leave the interplanetary thrust to me.”

“Thanks, D.R.”

Jackson settled back, letting the chair’s field envelop him while his ship cycled through it’s various G’s to take him where’s he’s gone before in one piece. It gave him time to think of what has been going on lately. Dale’s dust off hurt the most. They’d been off and on for a long time, suiting both their needs as needs arose. The others…yeah, the others. He shrugged.

But Dale…

He subvocalized to D.R. to pump him with Traz to get him into a REM sleep. Best way to let the light years slip by. His mind fought the drug at first, racing through the faces of so many of his…of his..of…og hoz…

Supernova Jackson doesn’t snore.

At least, no one has ever accused him of that. Other things, but not snoring.

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

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/photoshopped covers of old pulp(ish) novels, changing them to show off his brand of humor. I just thought it’d be fun to write a few things from Mr. Kadrey’s posting: so, yes, this is my writing, not Mr. Kadrey’s.

BTW: The first three answers Jackson got to his commcalls are actual SciFi languages. There’s no prize, except for the privilege of being right;  I’d love to see if anyone can get all three. Go for it.

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

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

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

You’re Not Around…

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cemetery silhouette | Lisa Stahl

You’re Not Around…

(A companion piece to Somewhere That’s Green)

At the gravesite: Audrey, the Pastor, and the cemetery gravediggers.

Pastor:     …The links of life are broken,
but the links of love and longing cannot break.
Their souls are bound up with ours forever…

(The Pastor continues his cemetery prayer in the background. Audrey stands apart. The gravediggers behind them; one is smoking).

Audrey: (Dressed in black; stares first at the grave, and then lets the song move her):

I don’t believe you’re gone.
We shared much more than a moment, a lifetime, cut short.
This wasn’t what we planned to do,
So much of my hopes, they fell on you.
But you supported me, not told,
How to be myself, be bold.
But I stand here alone, in despair, Because suddenly, Seymour, you’re not there.

From city slums to open skies, our white picket fence…(sobs)…and then you died.
I begged you to leave the plants alone
But my words fell on ears of stone.
Did I support you? Yes, in every way.
Did I love you? To my dying day.
But now, with my love in the ground
Suddenly, Seymour, you’re not around.

I found my strength and self-respect
But right now I feel only wrecked.
When you held me in your arms…and said I love you,
I felt it deep inside; I loved you too.

And now, you are not here.
At least you no longer have to fear
Being eaten by that horrible thing
Feel it biting, teeth chomp down, the sting.

You’re safe, my love, under this earthly mound
But, suddenly, Seymour…

You’re not around.

(Bring up the Pastor’s volume as the last chords fade away)

Pastor:      Help Audrey
to realize that the distance between them, now,
is not so great and that one day,
she will be reunited with Seymour, in paradise.

(Fade out to Audrey and Seymour’s kitchen)

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

I’ve loved Little Shop of Horrors ever since I saw the movie, and then the musical on stage. Different vibes, especially the original ending of the movie. Look it up. Not the most postive of finale’s,and the test audiences told them so.

At the time, the title was worming its way around my head, until I realized why: it was originally a SciFi movie made by Roger Corman in 1960. It was one of those movies I watched as a kid, most likely on Chiller Theater, or maybe by way of Zacherly. Either way, I’ve enjoyed the versions, one and all.

The above: I was playing around with readers from the previous post that I’d love a sequal to the movie. What started out as a 100 word prompt piece led me here, the idea fermenting on my way home from a coffee shop (where you can now use their bathrooms. Hey, no free publicity: If I name the place, I want to get product placement $$$$$).

I had a tune in my head while I was writing this out. I’m not a musician, but creating song melodies is something I’m used to doing. Just need a musician to transcribe what is inside of me. Also: I was NOT using the music of “Suddenly, Seymour” from the movie. I just wanted the words to connect to the film. Honor, tribute, as you wish.

Hope you liked this.

Somewhere That’s Green: #FridayFictioneers

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PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Somewhere That’s Green

…when suddenly and without warning, there was this……total eclipse of the sun.

Audrey’s life had been reborn: Seymour was suddenly everything to her. They married, left the city, and never looked back.

Until Seymour died in a horrible event.

Opening the Mushnik Garden Center, Seymour sold exotics only, cultivating them with love. Until the sinkhole swallowed everything, including him. They found him in a crush of exotic plants.

She took a clipping, set it in a cut glass bowl, and buried Seymour.

Returning from the funeral, sitting at the table, starting to doze, something startled her.

“Feed Me,” it said.

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

The opening line, and title of this piece, is credited to composer Alan Menken and writer Howard Ashman. 

The above is a prompt challange 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.

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.

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…

From the case files of Inspector Khazarian Rovas

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Darkness suited ex-Inspector Khazarian Rovas. He liked the quiet it normally brought, a certain breeze that drifted through most nights except for the height of the summer months. Then he was usually drenched, having trouble breathing during the ofttimes stiffing still air. Early spring, now, and the insufferable weather was still to come. Tonight, he could enjoy sitting by his open window, lights off, breathing the coolness in, and allowing his out breath fog up the lowest corner of the window pane. Waiting.

But for the wishes of his wife, Berrak, Rovas would still be on the job. He never thought he would retire, that one way or the other the job would be where he would part this life. Berrak thought differently, and although she never demanded, he saw the clarity of her spoken thoughts. He loved her, she him, and it was that love that carried him to hand in his resignation. Forty-four years, the ups and downs of any job, acknowledgments and failures, all reduced to farewell handshakes, some drinks, rehashing of spectacular cases-solved or unsolved-and the drive home, with the few personal items from his desk in the boot.

It was the rehashing of cases that brought Rovas to his study, to his window, at 4:10 in the morning. Eight days had passed, but those memories of cases that were not, to him, satisfactorily closed, haunted his waking hours. He thought of the cases, twenty six in all, that still niggled at the back of his mind. He owed Berrak time that she was excluded from during his career, and he vowed to himself he would do his best to give her what she needed from him.

But those cases…those cases…

Outside his window Khazarian Rovas noticed a silhouette of a man briskly walking, back to Rovas, down the street, hands in his pockets, head cast down, fading down the street horizon. Ruminating, Rovas had not noticed the man until now. He had no idea where he came from, just observing this figure in darkness fading smaller and further away, until only a haze of an outline was visible. In a blink, the walking man was gone.

Rovas got up from his chair, turning it around to face his desk. Turning on the table lamb, he stared down at the pile of folders on the right side of his desk. Twenty six folders.

Sitting, he took the top file, placed it in front of him, opened it, and began to review this troublesome case file.

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Hi everyone. I’m sure you’ve noticed I have been away for quite awhile on any regular basis. Things happened in my life that took me out of the mood. I’m trying to see what I can do to mend that break within me.

I just rejoined the Blogging from A to Z challenge. Lots of positive things changed for me with the first one I was part of in 2011. Sadly, that did not last the lifetime I had hoped it would be. In either case, I am back.

“The case files of Khazarian Rovas” is my theme for this year. Twenty six case files for the good inspector to delve into, trying to make sense &/or solve from this list of cold cases. My plan is to use a variety of genres within this overarching theme to allow me to play and, of course, challenge myself. Some cases might bleed into another case. Most will be stand alone. We’ll see, won’t we?

As to the Blogging from A to Z challenge, I’ll let the words of Arlee Bird (founder of said challenge) tell you what this is all about:

The brainchild of Arlee Bird, at Tossing it Out, the A to Z Challenge is posting every day in April except Sundays (we get those off for good behavior.) And since there are 26 days, that matches the 26 letters of the alphabet. On April 1, blog about something that begins with the letter “A.” April 2 is “B,” April 4 is “C,” and so on. You can use a theme for the month or go random – just as long as it matches the letter of the alphabet for the day.

The A to Z Challenge is a great way to get into the blogging habit and make new friends.

 So, join me (and the over 1600 other blogs involved) starting on April 1, 2016. Comments and such are always welcome. I hope you enjoy what I’ve got planned.