Category Archives: Taking Risks

Djinn Can Only: #FridayFictioneers

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PHOTO PROMPT © Nick Allen

Djinn Can Only

“You said my wish is your command!”

“No, I did not.”

“Did!”

“I did not. Obviously, you misheard.”

“DIDN’T!”

“I said: ‘YOUR wish is MY command.’ Very clear. Wording, you know.”

~ ~~ ~ ~

“Yes?”

“Then grant my…um…the wish.”

“Sorry. I can not.”

“What? You just said…”

“I can not grant unlimited wishes with your one wish. Beyond the scope of Wish Granting Regulations. One wish for one thing.”

“Really?”

“Really.”

“Umm…”

“Think well and true.”

“One wish?”

“One.”

~~~ ~~~ ~~

“I wish…my life was sweetly pleasurable! HAH!”

“As you wish.”

Djinn savored the pastry cream and shell.

*************************************************************
Author’s Note:

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

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

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

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Chess Eyes; A Story in Tanka: #FridayFictioneers

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PHOTO PROMPT © Jeff Arnold

CHESS EYES

Her eyes glisten, flames
A power move adjusts up
Ready. No surprise.
First obstacle falls; pawn dusted.
Satisfaction is attained.

Wily in her style
Overlooked in many ways.
Strength, a stoic mien,
A hidden intelligence,
Engaged on her battlefield.

A once trusted love
Deviates from his opening move
Boundaries broken,
Binds and checks, to no avail
An adjournment; none favored.

Sacrifices made
Counter-attacks defended
She has advantage
Moving freely, tactics sound,
Nothing halts her; open ground.

Move! Senses challenged. Move!
Blitzes. Binds. Checks. Felled opponents sway.
At last: objective.
“J’adoube,” says she, smile placed,
Reine takes Roi. Sweep the board.

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

The Tanka poem is very similar to haiku but Tanka poems have more syllables and it uses simile, metaphor and personification. There are five lines in a Tanka poem. Tanka poems are written about nature, seasons, love, sadness and other strong emotions.

The sylabble scheme is:   5-7-5-7-7

Author’s Note:

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

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

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

The Secret Acquiescence: #FridayFictioneers

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PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot

The Secret Acquiescence

“Unfriendlies.”

“Copy that. Commence action.”

“Affirmative.”

The dome exploded, shards of glass rained. Zeta Team rappelled down.

Shots fired; shots returned. Unfriendlies down. No Zeta casualties.

Scanning the area, Zeta One signaled to advance. They reached their second objective:  a large steel door.

Detcord placed, explosives went off, door breached. Zeta Team cleaned out all resistance along the hallway.

Final objective: door to the prisoner.  Extra Detcord did the job.

Zeta One approached the objective. He had a white beard and hair, hat in hands. He looked at Zeta One expectantly.

“The country needs you, Uncle Sam,” Zeta One said.

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

Author’s Note:

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

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

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

Coffee Roulette: #FridayFictioneers

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PHOTO PROMPT © Yvette PriorC

Coffee Roulette

Steph and Tyler were left. The others were lying dead at the base of the table. Two coffee cups overturned. One drawer opened. Two left alive; two choices to make.

“It’ll be fun,” Sean promised. “Reward’s will be high!” A lark.

It wasn’t.

Sean chose coffee: drank, convulsed, died. Bob the same. Rose chose a drawer. Wrong choices.

“Coffee, or drawer?” The host asked, gun in hand.

Steph thought it was a simple pattern: coffee, coffee, drawer, drawer.

Tyler thought so as well and grabbed the coffee.

Wrong choice.

“Coffee, or drawer?”

$500,000,000. Beaucoup bucks.

Steph reached for the drawer.

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

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

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

The 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) 

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

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.

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

Rock Liebster, Mon Amour

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So, once again the fickle finger of fate favors flash fiction here on Tale Spinning. I want to thank Dear Kitty. Some Blog for thinking what I do here is special enough to be granted this nomination. This is the second time (see Tale Spinning April 15, 2018) I have been nominated for the Liebster in the past few months. I had received this nomination a couple of other times over the years, and it doesn’t get old. Harder to come up with questions and people to nominate, but…c’est la prix.

The rules of the Liebster Award, as per Dear Kitty and the person who nominated her are:

1. Acknowledge the blog which nominated you.
2. Answer the 11 questions your nominator asked.
3. Nominate 11 other bloggers.
4. Ask them 11 questions.
5. Let them know you have nominated them.

Slightly different than the rules I received for my April 15th posting, but carry on I shall.
#1: thanks again, Dear Kitty.
#2 Her Questions; My answers:

1. What was your first job? Working in a Chinese Restaurant, filling up the Smorgasbord Table, doing To Go orders. Yes, many customers asked me if I was Chinese.

2. What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten? Don’t become an Elf.

3. Favourite season and why? Vindaloo, cause I like it spicy. Oh, season, not seasoning.  L’automne.

4. Favourite TV show? Right now, iZombie. Way too many others. I’m a TV junkie.

5. When did you first travel alone and where did you go? Shortly after my divorce; San Fransisco.

6. Why did you start a blog? Bordom, and the need for a challenge.

7. What did you want to be when you were a kid? Not lonely, and at the same time being left alone. Complicated even as a kid.

8. Would you rather travel into the future or the past? Neither. Alternate Universe.

9. Do you have any siblings? Nope. I’m an only, for good or bad (see #7)

10. Can you cook well? Yes. Medium and Medium Rare too. Not a big fan of Rare, or Raw.

11.  What is the next thing you plan to learn? Whatever comes my way that I know little or next to little about.

As to #3, nominating 11 other bloggers: nah. Last time I did, only two out of seven followed through. If you, dear reader, want to take this on, please be my guest. Yeah, it’s cheating/lazy, but I have been writing my tuchas off the past few weeks and I be bushed.

Being even lazier, I’m reposting the questions (#4) I came up with on my previous Liebster post. I thought they were pretty good; hopefully, we’ll get more than two answers this time around:

Please be aware that “…and Why?” is invisibly attached at the end of the majority of the questions.  Lazy, remember?

  • If you could write in any writers voice besides your own, whose would it be?
  • What literary genre holds NO interest for you?
  • What song with a strong narrative still touches you?
  • What fictional character do you wish you were?
  • Savory or Sweet?
  • What does “The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of” mean to you?”
  • You stumble upon a magic rock. Picking it up, you discover something underneath. What is it?
  • Have you had an inexplicable experience? What was it?
  • What fiction book would you recommend to me?
  • What movie or TV show do you love but hate to admit it?
  • What does writing mean to you?

If you pick up this challenge from me, please just let me know, alongside the accolades you wish to bestow upon me. Money is good too. BTW: this takes care of #5.

I’d love to read your answers. OH, and please don’t cop out with the “I would never” or “I’m fine with” answers. Instead of saying “No” to the question(s), try a big resounding “Yes” and stretch that creative muscle!

P.S. Please copy, paste, and follow the rules on your own blog. Doesn’t really work if you answer the questions in my comment section. Kind of defeats the purpose. Deal?

PPS: I really want either a Katz’s Pastrami sandwich right now, or a real Chocolate Egg Cream. They don’t go together; it’s one or the other. Or bed. Bed sounds good too.

Ta.

A Dominie Dismissed (#FF Prompt)

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

Until he had been dismissed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not going all that far.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No one dismisses a Dominie.

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

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

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

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

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

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A-to-Z Reflection [2018]

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

This was my fifth AtoZ Blog Challenge:

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

Yes, I am that unorganized.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A couple of more things: please bear with me.

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

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

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

Thank you, everyone.