Category Archives: Short Stories

Unintended Consequences

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UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES

7c293f567878d204f3613fb0926af1b4--illuminated-letters-illuminated-manuscriptnce upon a time there was a household in turmoil. One sister, one brother, and a widow who had lost the will to keep her children proper. Her husband left her with the debt of the home and the banes of her life.

illustrated Every day the siblings fought, cursed, threw fragile items at each other, stole what they could and sold those items. They wound up at the village pub drinking until oblivion took them both.

illustrated But one day the widow unexpectedly left, never to return. By the end of the first week they tore through the makings of their home. What they couldn’t sell, they bartered. They ate, drank, and took care of their baser needs.

illustrated Because of that they soon ran out of money. The sister and brother had to vacate, unable to pay the house debt. With little more than a bag of clothing each, they set off in opposite directions. The sister vowed to never to see her brother again. He felt the same.

illustrated Because of that as they traveled, taking whatever work they could find. Without the sense to save what they could, the sister and brother would find themselves penniless soon after receiving pay. What wasn’t spent on food and alcohol went to gambling. Outside of the comfort and safety of the village they grew up left them adrift. Often robbed, both suffered beatings, and sometimes worse.

illiustrated Until finally, many months later, each sibling took root in a haven. Broken to their cores by this time, they each had the chance to rebuild their lives. Both found themselves welcomed and absorbed into the communities they now called home.

illustrated E coloredver since then each found acceptance, and love, in their ways. They kept their vows: they never saw each other ever again. As to the widow, she moved in with her sister and her family in a completely different direction from her children’s wanderings. She never heard from, or saw, them again. She lived out her life in bliss.

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Author’s Notes:

  1. The above was from #FlashFiction Prompt from my friends over at Fiction Can Be Fun. This time, the prompt was just this: A case of the law of unintended consequences. Rules are simple:
  • Word count: 500 – 1,500 (ish)
    Deadline: 2pm GMT on Friday 11th October 2019
  • Post your story on your site and link to it here in the comments below, or drop us a line via the contact us page and we’ll post it for you.

The proprietors of Fiction Can Be Fun, Debs and David, are working on a shared novel that I can’t wait to read (yes, I still would love to be a Beta reader for the two of you). I met them during the AtoZ Blog Challenge in April of 2018, and I’m glad we have remained in contact. Visit their page. Lots of great stories, challenges, and essays to sink your teeth into.

2) The words in italics after the illuminated letters is from an Improv technique I’ve used for years in warmups and in my workshops and school residencies. I recently found out that the style is credited to Kenn Adams, author, educator, teaching artist, and performer. He is the Artistic Director of Synergy Theater based in Islip, New York (but they do travel across the country).

The pattern for Improv, and what I used above, is:

  • Once upon a time
  • Every Day
  • But one day
  • Because of that
  • Because of that
  • Until finally
  • Ever since then

If running this in a warm-up or as a rehearsal exercise, the amount of Because of that would increase due to how many were in attendance.

And…sorry, Debs & David, the word count is only 321.

Grassy Fields

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Grassy Field

There are sixteen words for love. Showing love is limitless. How either is perceived, the depth that it touches or bounces away, can change, depending.
 
Depending on the moment, the time of the day, or the year. Depending on the weather that has moved on or that envelops you in the now. Depending if it was heartfelt or only going through the motions. Depending if it was a complete and utter lie. It all depends.
 
She sits on fallen red and burnt orange leaves, leaning against the trunk of the tree, staring out across the open dale. Before her the grass bends to the right. The same breeze sends tendrils of her long brown hair in the same direction. Strands wrap themselves across her cheeks and nose. It is a soft reminder that she needs a trim, letting things go.
 
The hunter green fisherman’s sweater is large on her. It falls below her waist and over her hands. She is happy she chose this to wear today; cocooning herself inside, the tight cable knit blocking out most of the chill. She pulls the collar up and over her nose, the smell of last night’s first fireplace usage buried deep in the skein.
 
Another gust and her hair is flung over, and into, her eyes. Both hands pop out of her sleeve cover to secure the hair, forming a loose braid. She knows it won’t hold.
 
Maybe I shouldn’t have come here today,” she says to the field. ‘Maybe this wasn’t the best idea I’ve had.” She waits, still against the tree trunk. “No answer, huh?”
 
A short burst of chilled air hits her in the side of the face, sending her head back, bumping into the bark behind her. She laughs, touching the spot that she is sure will produce a small bump. She tilts her head back, her eyes moving away from the green to the blue.
 
The sparsely clouded sky has shifted in density and speed. White masses move past, some forming into larger floating islands. Off in the near distance a few of these are growing dark. The wind is picking up.
 
The tree sheds more leaves. As they drift down and around, she notices a bright red one tumbling down towards her. She watches its approach. It sways and circles, finally placing itself on the upper part of her face, covering her eyes.
 
Picking up the stem, she runs the opposite index finger over the edge of the leaf. A piece flecks off. Brittle. She twirls the stem, the red shape going in and out of focus. Her movements, at first, are soft and slow, an imitation of the leaf’s descent. She increases the force, now sharp and jagged. Finally, encircling the leaf in her hand, she closed it into a fist. Crushed, tiny red flakes get brushed off her hand as she stands.
 
She walks away from the tree to stand at the edge of the grassy field. She reminds herself why she came here, why she came on this particular day.
 
There are sixteen words for love. She thought she had said them all.
 
She thought she had shown love in a myriad of ways.
 
She thought it all depended on how it was received.
 
She walks back to her car, burrowed deep into the cable knit fisherman’s sweater.

They Ran

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Photograph by Shari Marshall ©

THEY RAN

Propped up by the blasted wall, seven faced their executioners.

Each of the seven different from the other, facing seven of one kind, their weapons raised.

“This is war,” echoed in seven languages, “and you ran. No excuses. No pleas. No last words, signs, or prayers. Nothing. You ran. Others of your kind died. It would have been the same if you aimed at them yourselves and fired.”

A nod. Of the runners: three fell; one cut in half; one shattered; another fused into the wall; one vaporized.

Seven colored fluids pooled; the only mix allowed beyond the Rim worlds.

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Author’s Note: The picture above, by Shari Marshall, was a prompt posted on her page, Writing is Communication. The prompt was to use her photo, created your tale on your own blog, then post a link to your story in her comments section.  We each see what we see in the photo. This was my take.

I also did this as a Drabble (100 words exact). Beyond posting a link, and using the photo prompt, you can go anywhere with the photo.

Give it a shot.

Pun intended.

KingCon: Haverstraw Library’s annual comic convention! Saturday, August 3

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I have been honored to be a panelist at a

Modern Speculative Writing Program!!!

Speculative Fiction is a genre of fiction that encompasses works in which the setting is other than the real world, involving supernatural, futuristic, or other imagined elements. It includes Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, Magic Realism, and so much more. Speculative fiction writing takes the imagination as far as it can go, and then some.

Located in beautiful Rockland County (less than an hour northwest of NYC), the Haverstraw King’s Daughter’s Public Library is holding their annual comic convention, KingCon. Yes, the pun fits.

Taylor Voght, author and MFA at Manhattanville College, will be our moderator as we delve into what makes Speculative Writing so attractive, contemplate the nature of sequential narration, and share what inspires us to write as we do.  Sitting beside me will be noted authors and editors Michelle Levy and Gerrit Overeem.

This is Haverstraw’s SDCC and NYCC, just without the mile-long lines!!

I hope you can make it. If so, stop by after the panel and say ‘Hi!’

SATURDAY, AUGUST 3, 2019: KingCon!!

Haverstraw King’s Daughters Public Library
10 W. Ramapo Road
Garnerville, NY 10923

Modern Speculative Writing

1 pm – 1:30 pm, Community Room
For all ages. Speculative fiction requires using your imagination to create entirely new worlds, and it has never been more popular! In this panel, learn from science fiction and fantasy authors Taylor Vogt, Stuart Nager, Michelle Levy, and Gerrit Overeem on how to write your own speculative fiction novel. All attendees will leave with the tools to write their own story!

KingCon2019EventsFlyer

Three Ships, Aye

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THREE SHIPS, AYE

“Again!”

“Oh, Scotty. Really?”

“Please, Grandpa?”

Sighing, Grandpa begins…

The night brought a storm, unlike any other. The sailors of the three ships, every one of them, prayed to whatever they prayed to as they were tossed back and forth. Too many were tossed overboard by the heaving waves, men and women becoming one with the sea waters. The three captains could not spare the time to worry about any one person: they had hundreds to try to save, but it was the three ships that were their lives and it was the ships they cared for most of all.

They knew it was their fault, for setting onto the unsettled waters that night. Warned, the three ignored the then possible danger for the chances presented to them. A win is what they needed, badly, and so caution was forgotten for what could be. They paid for their single-mindedness, more than any of them thought was due.

“Grandpa?”

“Yes, Scotty?”

“Why?”

“You ask that question every single time, and the answer is always the same, kiddo. Greed, and ego, make people do some very stupid things.”

“My teacher says ‘stupid’ isn’t a good word to say.”

“That, in itself, is… sigh… never mind. People do stupid things. Ok?”

“Yup.”

“Now, the ships…”

The waves rocked up and dove down, pockets of watery walls that closed in on the three ships. Two were hit head-on, while the other crushed inwards. The screech of the metals mixed with the roar of the storm, drowning out the wails of the sailors. That it didn’t go under, then, was a miracle that no one noticed. The other ships were being battered senseless at the same time. The ocean rose and took control.

When dawn came, it was hidden by the still raging storm. There was no breaking in the skies, but only upon the roiling waters. Any left alive noticed nothing more than the buffeting, the pain, the need for it all to be over. One captain was already gone, not surviving the crushing, and one other had lost any cognizant capability. Others tied that captain to a chair on the bridge and left. That captain’s eyes glazed with dark waters.

“The third captain, Grandpa!”

“Why don’t YOU tell me? You know the story.”

“…”

“Scotty?”

“I. I like the way you tell it.”

…..

“Grandpa?”

“I love you, Scotty.”

“I love you, too.”

The third captain pushed on. There was no other way except to give up and accept what the sea and the storm demanded. This captain was seen in every part of the ship, urging, threatening, working alongside the crew. They threw themselves into a new fervor of working to save themselves and the captains’ ship. There was nothing to be done beyond their drenched space to keep going.

Finally, nature settled. From pure rage to utter stillness, the three ships were still afloat. Weak shouts went up across the bows. The sea moved the ships together, grouped in a battered trio of wounds. The sun blazed down, no clouds obscuring the burning heat.

From still day to night, the seas propelled the ships. Most on board were unable to process what was happening: none of the equipment worked, most of the crew injured, in one way or another. During the night, more died.

Come the morning, those left found themselves beached. The waters had receded, the sea water unseen, leaving all three ships sunk in sodden sand. The survivors went ship to ship, rescuing those they could, leaving those that were beyond help.

The lone captain stood, ankle deep in the wet shore, with the remaining sailors spread out. They looked at the tilted ships, renewed their prayers, and left. The captain was the last to look away but joined the others from behind as they made their ways to a life different than what they had hoped for.

“The end.”

“Grandpa…”

“Yeah, Scotty?”

“So?”

“You know, kiddo. You know. I’m getting tired. You should be, too. Time to turn off the light and get to sleep.”

“Grandpa. Please.”

——

“Please.”

“Fine.”

They followed without a thought. They went without care. Their goal was senseless, and their deaths even more so. The destruction they found were caused by being heedless of the signs, of ignoring anything but their wants. Not needs, their wants. And if they learned anything from any of this hubris-and I’ve already explained hubris to you, twice, tonight, so forget it-it did not show in any of their actions.

So, they were doomed. Doomed to do what they did, to do it again. Maybe in a different way, but still, in the end, they did it again. And again.

“Stupid.”

“Yes, stupid. Get some sleep, Scotty. Love you.”

“Love you too, Grandpa.

Grandpa?”

“Yes?”

“Don’t do anything stupid. Ok?”

“I’ll try not to.”

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Author’s Note:

The above comes from a photo prompt posted on Fiction Can Be Fun.

I have mentioned my association with Debs and David (who co-write their blog) before, having met them during the 2018 AtoZ Blog Challenge. You’d do yourself a big favor if you followed them and have the pleasure of enjoying their writing. Their WIP is going through its final stages and I, for one, can’t wait to get my hands on it.

If you want to join in on the writing prompt (and I strongly encourage it), here are the “rules”:

Any style, any genre, just nothing NSFW – otherwise the world is your oyster.
Tell us your tale …

Word count: 500 – 1,000 words
Deadline: 2pm GMT on Friday 12th July 2019

Post your story on your site and link to it here in the comments below, or drop us a line via the contact us page and we’ll post it for you.

So, join in. Write. You’ll be glad you did.

PS: if anyone cares, I wrote this while listening to The Essential Leonard Cohen. Who do you listen to while you write?

Forgotten Way (Part One)

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Forgotten Way

Part One

A dark, dirt road that led upwards, vanishing into untamed bramble, caught my eye as a Ford F-150 screeched to a stop. My chest tightened in a quick, sharp snap, the thought of being T-boned by that monster coming too close to reality. I remembered to breathe, not realizing I had stopped, as my foot pressed the accelerator down. A sign darted by as I sped along, naming the road.

Forgotten Way.

As I drove down Route 9, I found my concentration waver: I wasn’t sure at the moment if it was the near miss of the truck or the near miss of that road. My hands grew clammy, and a buildup of saliva sent me into a small coughing fit as I choked upon swallowing it.

A mile passed in less than a minute. It was a good thing there were no police on the road at the time.

Once I reached my destination, other things took my attention: Kelly, the woman I came to meet, beat me to the picnic grounds. She was waiting by her car. Her purple summer dress clung to her, which drew my eyes at first. The tilt of her head and her half smile brought me closer. “Men,” she said, her smile broadening until it disappeared with the kiss that she laid on me. We stood like that until a woman walking by harrumphed us. Our foreheads met as our lips parted. Eyes closed, I began to smile, but lost it as a stray thought hit me.

Forgotten Way.

She could feel me tense, asking me what just happened. I laughed it off, blaming it on the “harumpher” and her puritanical ways. That got a small smack on my upper arm, another kiss, this one a peck, and we broke apart to get the food she had brought and the blanket and wine I had in my car. Hand in hand, we left the parking lot and traveled into the park for the night’s entertainment.

The music was wonderful, the company more so. We had decided earlier that we’d end our evening here instead of going to one of our places for the night. She was leaving extra early on a business trip the next morning and made the time and effort to at least spend this time with me, for us. I agreed, reluctantly, saying I also had tons to do the next day and also had an early start.

I didn’t, and I’m pretty sure she knew I was fabricating it all. She let it lie, and I appreciated it. Nothing was going on, and nothing had been going on for way too long until she had entered my life. The last thing I wanted to do was to blow it this early in what I hoped would be a relationship.

Stowing away the blanket and picnic ware, we leaned against her car in a Goodnight kiss. She was beginning to waver in her decision to go home alone: I was long past wavering, having mentally abandoned that choice after our first kiss that evening. But, again, I didn’t want to blow things. You know when you can tell there is something really special about the other? She was it, for me, and while I pressed a little bit, I rode evening out as planned.

Her biting my lip with our last kiss did not help in that decision.

She took off first. I idled a little, thinking, adjusting myself, and turned on the car stereo system. Static filled the cabin, and I had to tune around to find something I wanted to hear. At that point, the night’s music was enough in my head, so I turned off the system, put the car in reverse, and almost hit the walking “harumpher” who was passing right behind me.

She screeched, and a stream of well laid curses and obscenities spewed forth. My heart did a quick skip: for that moment, I was back with the almost T-bone, back at Forgotten Way. Then reality hit me as she smacked her hand on the trunk of my car and shambled off. I left the grounds without any further incident and made my way back along Route 9.

A twenty-four-hour gas station/mini-mart was my first destination. I needed the facilities, and a snack would be welcome. The kid at the counter was a familiar face. I’d stopped here a couple of times in the past month, ever since Kelly and I had met cute. He said, “howdy,” I said, “hi,” and he scanned my snack and soda.

Outside, a semi whooshed by, tooting its air horn, and it brought me back to earlier in the evening. I asked the kid about Forgotten Way. It wasn’t that far down the road from the station. He looked at me, bagged my loot, scratched at a pimple on his nose, and shrugged.

“Never heard of it,” he finally answered.

There was nothing to push with the teen. I thanked him and left the mart. Getting in my car, I felt that tightness in my chest again. Taking a swig of my soda, and then popping open the bag of chips and munching a few, did nothing to alleviate the pressure inside of me. Turning the car over, I sat.

There were two ways to get out of the area, the quickest being the road I was already on. I debated for a few moments, feeling silly in the end over my indecision. Part of me wanted to call Kelly, or head over and “surprise” her, but I didn’t.

Checking behind me very carefully-I wasn’t sure The Harumpher wouldn’t have been waiting for me-I backed out of the spot, came to the exit of the lot, and turned right onto Route 9. Towards home. Towards Forgotten Way.

I should have gone the other way home.

 

To be continued

 

 

Withering Heights

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WITHERING HEIGHTS

The dawn broke in a ribbon of grays and burnt reds as Cathy stood upon the cliff, her gaze fixed on the distance, obscured by the haze of the morning refractive light. She pulled her off-white shawl tight over her shoulders, then cinched her leather tooled belt to the gasping point in an attempt to ward off the chill of the lingering night air. A shiver ran through her chest, startling her eyes to a downward glance, her teeth ground tight to prevent their chattering. A sob tried to escape, but, firmly lodged, it choked her to silence.

“It’s me. Cathy,” she whispered, near inaudible.

Far below, the sea foamed, crashing up and against the abstract of rocks jutting out of the waters. Cathy found herself taking a step back, then another. Wind whipped up with force, hitting her so that her hair became unbound, freed as if from a practiced hand. Her auburn strands danced out, up, and around, swaddling her freckled face, her eyesight obscured.

Wind and hair subsided as fast as it had thrashed up. She let her tresses lay where they fell, clenching her shawl even tighter in her too white fingers. Cathy allowed free passage of the wetness flowing down, past her nose, cheeks, and chin. Her right hand wanted to wipe them away, but it remained where it was in the folds of the once warm fabric.  She knew she was not now alone on the crags.

He was behind her. She felt he always was.

“Cathy.”

Her name drifted over the mist that surrounded her, syllables riding between the dew drops in the moving air.

“Cathy.”

Her fleshed crawled with hundreds of raised bumps, ones never derived from any goose that shat upon God’s green pastures.

“Cathy,” and her heart skipped a beat, and then another. Her eyes closed against her will, lips parting, a web of saliva breaking as the distance grew. “Cathy,” and the voice implored her, begged, rose to a controlling pitch.

“Cathy. Call me. Say my name.”

She mouthed his name without a sound.

“Please,” seeped at her back, closer than it had ever been before. “Call my name.”

Cathy tried, but, in shaking, breathless, she did as he asked.

“Cthulhu.”

“Again,” he cajoled.

“Cthulhu!”; wrung out with tears.

“Now, Cathy, Now!”

Her voice cracked, merged with the violence of the waves from below and the returned force of the winds:

“Cthulhu!

Cthulhu!

Cthulhu!”;

And she fell onto the damp moss that had lied about her feet. It cradled her body, her clothing absorbing the moisture, her shawl laden with a mixture of this water from the morn and her streaming teary emissions.

Cathy locked her arms around herself, deep within the folds of her wear. Her knees drew themselves inwards, her chin burrowed into her chest, and the reddish hue of her hair hid her face, creating a darknet around her white, white skin.

A tentacled appendage glided gently under her still form, followed by another as the first gained a secure hold. Then another, and still another, until Cthulhu’s embrace cocooned Cathy. Lifting her into the air, Cthulhu’s face burrowed into her hair. He drew his arms around her, then.

Cathy smelled the salty brine of him. Licking her lips, her tongue swirled the sea waters from below that mixed with the tang of other dimensions, repellant and inviting.
She drew them in, letting this fill her throat in a trickle of infusion.

“It is time, Cathy,” Cthulhu purred. It was what she had come here, on this cliff, on this jagged height, to hear. She gave herself over, open to the void Cthulhu offered, his expanse, his otherness.

“Come,” he said.

“Yes,” she answered. “Yes.”

The waves crashed against, and consumed, the empty precipice.
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Author’s Note:

A prompt was given at one of the writing groups I attend. In the space of 45 minutes:

“Write a story where you place a fictional character in the WRONG story.”

So, Withering Heights. Who is in the wrong story, or, is this the right story for the wrong reasons?

Obviously, well, to me, anyway, I drew on several literary reference points, as well as one literary musical place, for inspiration.  Care to break them down in the comments section?

Hope you enjoyed. BTW: this is my very first attempt at Gothic Romance/Horror. Yes? No? Maybe so? Let me know.

 

The Fault of Underlings: Prompting Shakespeare

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THE FAULT OF UNDERLINGS

Prompting Shakespere #1

The wall, the big, honking wall, blocked their way. This troupe of merry wanderers, The Misfit Players, Inc., was mightily perplexed. Their GPS systems failed them, one and all, as they came to a stop, looking agape at the deterrent before them.

“Odds Bodkins,” Nick Bottom, vexed, said as he removed himself from the VW Microbus that he shared with Peter Quince and Robin Starveling.  Quince had to remind Bottom to turn the engine off and headlights.  With a low whistle and a moan, Peter left the van.  Robin followed on his heels. Reaching Bottom, all three stared at the wall in front of them.

“Tom Snout! Get your earth-vexing, fool-born, rank tush over here.” Bottom looked back, grimacing as he noticed the three still sitting in that gleeking, weather-beaten Caravan that only gets 19 MPG. “Now, Tom!”

Tom turned to look at Snug, who sat beside him and then at Francis Flute in the back. Huffing a jarring huff, Tom nodded to them as he creaked the door open and stepped out. The others left the vehicle, careful not to slam any of the doors. Flute and Snug fell in behind Tom.

“Uh, look, um, Bottom. This maggot-pie of a wall was not here the last time we, um, passed this way.”

Nick Bottom glared icy death at him. Tom could only shrug his shoulders, the second time higher and fell with dead weight precision, drawing out a sigh that came from his toes. He scratched his head and chin, looking beyond Bottom and Quince and up at the wall.

The other Misfits followed his gaze up, then swiveling their noggins in all directions. None saw an end to this ungainly wall; the height of it was bewildering. Most felt their reasoning mind begin to fritz out. Diverting their eyes to anywhere else but the wall was in order.

They were all dumb-founded and verklempt. This once merry band of performers, one and all, turned their attention to Peter Quince.

His face was redder than any one of them had ever seen before; or when they were honest with themselves, since their last performance of “Thisbe loves Pyramis.” And, truth be told, the one before that. And, so on.

As Quince’s gaze fell upon Tom, he felt it was a good idea to retreat as best he could. He took two steps back. “No yelling. Good,” he thought and resumed his retreat. With a snap of his fingers and a motion to the other, Robin and Snug, who were behind him, halted his running away progress. The three others came closer, creating a circle around Tom. He gulped three times three as his body went cold and sticky.

Muttering, but loud enough for his fellow misfits to hear, spoke: “Something wicked this way comes.” Hands shaking, Tom needed a way to hide the motions. His left hand went into his tunic’s pocket, but his right hand…o, his right…raised itself to Tom’s mouth. Without realizing, Tom Snout bit his thumb at the same time he locked eyes with red-faced Quince.

“You dare bite your thumb at me, Tom Snout?”

“No, um, no, no, Peter. Uh, it is not you I bite my thumb, at or for.”

Snug growled. “Then who do you bite that thumb at?”

Francis complimented Snug on a most fierce growl, and added: “Or for, Tom?”

“Look, brave and stalwart friends, um, I just booked the gig, got the info…”

“And forgot to get the deposit for said gig!” Quince growled even more fiercely.

Robin whispered to Francis: “If anyone in our audience heard a growl of that magnitude, they would grow afeared and most likely faint.”

Francis just nodded,

“Yeah, uh, sorry about that, Peter Quince. Um, well, we were rehearsing most diligently. Then Nick started going on and on as usual…” Tom was interrupted by the sound of Bottom’s fist hitting his other unclenched hand. The withering glare did not, for once, deter him from finishing: “Um, as usual, braying like an ass.”

Tom broke the eye contact and turned to Quince.

“And you, Petey, were nowhere to be found.” Tom Snout stopped biting his thumb, lowering his arm from his face only to cross it across his chest, joined by his other arm. “And I did haggle us a handsome fee for this appointment.”

“An outstanding and just fee, Peter Quince,” added Francis Flute. The daggers that flew out of Quince’s eyes sent Flute to take refuge behind Snug, a sharp squeak sounding out.

Before any other word, growl, or threatening look was tossed out, this ruffled merry band of gentlemen was startled by what fell before them.  A growing luminescence broke through a chink in the wall that none had noticed before.

“What light through yonder chink breaks?” Bottom pondered obtusely. The sniggering behind him stopped as he twirled to face them.

Peter patted Bottom on his shoulder.

“Nick, I say this for truth, as we all know we are facing East.”

Robing Starveling chimed in., “And the man in the moon is fading away, away towards the West.”

Snug cried out. “Look!”

The opulence of the growing light spread before them. The moods that had fallen on them all we lightened as if a veil of cobwebs were lifted and dispersed to the cloudless sky. No one heard the muffled guffaws from the copse of trees off to their side.

Tom threw his arms out wide and grinned, turning to his fellow thespians.

“See? We can still make the performance with time to spare if we hasten.” Turning to look back at the pathway that was now evident thanks to the morning sun. “This night’s troubles have been much to do about nothing.”

Everyone cheered — even Bottom.

“To your vehicles, my stout and sturdy fellows. Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more; before this lane close to the wall is strewn with rush hour traffic.”

Tom Snout took the driver’s seat of his Caravan, Snug taking the passenger seat, Flute resting across the back in comfort.

As Tom started the engine and began following the VW, Francis began to sing. Snug and Tom joined in wholeheartedly in this roundel of a Fairy song.

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Author’s Notes:

If you are even a passing fan of Shakespearean fare, the above is a mashup, of sorts. I “stole,” and played with, the following plays:

    1. A Midsummer Night’s Dream
    2. Hamlet
    3. The Scottish Play
    4. Henry V
    5. Romeo and Juliet
    6. Much Ado About Nothing

If you click on the links, they will take you to the full script. The Complete Works of William Shakesapeare is a wonderful source to find all of his plays. Free of charge. If you want just the cliff notes, every play has a Wiki page. 

The above characters are from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. They are the comic relief, the “mechanicals,” who perform the play-within-the-play of Pyramus and Thisbe. These men are laborers (tinker, weaver, carpenter, etc.) who are looking for their big break: to perform at the Royal Wedding and receive money and a name for themselves.

Most of The Fault of Underlings is grounded in AMND. Some dialogue I tweaked from the plays listed above. As to some of the words used, you can thank Master William himself. If you’re not familiar with them you can use Google.  It’s good to learn something new every day.

The Big Honking Wall has NOTHING to do with Game of Thrones.  In AMND, Tom Snout plays the Wall with a Crannied Hole or Chink in it so Thisbe and Pyramus can speak to each other, and maybe steal a kiss. This all happens in Act 5 during the play within the play. The following are Tom’s lines as the wall:

Snout. In this same interlude it doth befall
That I, one Snout by name, present a wall;
And such a wall, as I would have you think,
That had in it a crannied hole or chink,
Through which the lovers, Pyramus and Thisby,
Did whisper often very secretly.
This loam, this rough-cast and this stone doth show
That I am that same wall; the truth is so:
And this the cranny is, right and sinister,
Through which the fearful lovers are to whisper.

You’ll notice there is a discrepency with Thisby’s name. In searching, it’s Thisbe. In the above monologue, it’s Thisby. I just went the former route.

This came about from a prompt at a weekly writer’s group I attend. Our mission was to use secondary characters as the leads, going wherever our writer’s minds would take us. We share what we wrote with the others in the group.

They laughed. I hope you do as well.

the writing on the wall: #FridayFictioneers

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on-route-66-jean-l-hays

PHOTO PROMPT © Jean L. Hays

the writing on the wall

the way i hear it the dam coming apart was what took out most people around drowned or washed away but travelers passing by or those we questioned before shooting them said it was the earth quaking and moving that did the dirty leaving me confused what to believe any more water swamping the outlier citys huricanes killer tornadoes plagues of insects rodents and more running for their lives while snatching away our lives when they had the chance it makes me sicker then I already am i have the wall behind me and a roof over my head amen

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Author’s Note: Howdy. Been a month plus. I was involved with the AtoZ Blogging Challenge which took up all of my time. 36,061 words written between 26 posts, every day of April except Sundays. Phew. If you want to check it out, it is a serialized story called A Car In The Woods.

Start from the beginning, otherwise it won’t make much sense after the fourth post. Reflection post follows.

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

The rules are simple if you’d like to join in:

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

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Head, Fingers, Knees, And…/#Flashfiction

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fingerprinting

Image courtesy of joshsdh on Flickr

HEAD, FINGERS, KNEES, AND…

Victoria cut the power to the chemical bath. She switched off anything that had to do with the process but did not continue helping the product. The ones that did were all state of the art medical machinery.  Body temperature, blood pressure, pulse, and breathing rate were holding strong and steady. Electroencephalography readouts were good, better than what she had expected. She’d already had her “It’s Alive! It’s Alive!” moment.

It just wasn’t an it, though. If anyone had been able to listen into Vic’s below ground lab, they would have heard “She’s Alive! She’s Alive!” instead, most likely not really understanding the true significance of those words. “Oh, a baby has been born,” would most likely have passed through most minds. They’d be partially right, but nowhere near the exact truth.

Zora had fallen back asleep after a very brief awakening. Her vocal cords weren’t ready for any major usage yet. Once her eyes, one blue, one brown, focused on Victoria, a strangled “Hi!” came out. She tried to smile. Instead her eyes closed and she purr snored almost immediately.

If Zora had stayed awake, she would have seen tears come to Vic’s eyes, felt the back of her love’s hand softly stroke across her stitched cheek, and heard “I’ve missed you,” repeated over and over.

Victoria spent the next four hours rechecking all the vitals, monitoring for any abnormalities, changing out IV drip bags when depleted. Her back and feet ached, and the tension pressure between her eyes and above her temples made her want whiskey in the worst way. She couldn’t, and she wouldn’t. Vic had promised.

The day the bandages came off, Zora’s heart rate was elevated; Victoria’s stomach was twisted in a knot. Zora, once unraveled, stared at her new body in the mirrored wall that Vic had put up just for her. The stitching was everywhere. They ran from top to bottom at the seams of the body. In a few places, the processed collagen had already dissolved,  leaving a whisper of scarring. Some of the more invasive sections would take longer, having needed synthetic materials woven into the collagen.

A wig would cover Zora’s scalp sutures, giving it time to heal and for natural hair to grow. Her wrists would be bangled, neck scarved, with socks, long skirts, and loose blouses taking care of the rest. Victoria handed over Zora’s favorite sunglasses, from before. She put them on, still naked before her reflection, her lips forming a closed, thin line. Zora took them off and handed them back.

“My breasts hurt,” murmured to her reflection.

Victoria pressed herself lightly into Zora’s back, wrapping her arms around her waist, planting a soft kiss on her neck.

“It’ll take a little time, love. Time you now have.”

Zora’s arms crossed over Vic’s, her new fingers interlacing awkwardly. Victoria shifted hers for comfort, closing her eyes as she took in the new smell and feeling of the new body she was holding.

She missed seeing Zora’s frown, the scrunching that reached from the shudder in her lips to her puckered brow.

I didn’t feel her kiss. I don’t feel her hands,” tumbled through her old mind, new head.

Zora’s new heart seized for a moment.

It passed when she remembered to breathe.

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The above story came from a prompt on Fiction Can Be Fun. Fiction Can Be Fun is a writing project run by David @breakerofthings and Debs @debsdespatches.

The prompt & “rules”:

Imagine one morning you woke up and your fingerprints weren’t your own anymore. Why not? What happens next?

Post your story on your site and link to it on Fiction Can Be Fun in the comments , or drop us a line via the contact us page and we’ll post it for you.

Word count: no more than 1,000 words
Deadline is 2pm GMT, on 10th May 2019

Anyone can join in. Give it a go.