Category Archives: Writer

Shirem Far Mrim: #FridayFictioneers

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PHOTO PROMPT © Dale Rogerson

SHIREM FAR MRIM

The Carpetbag of Extraordinarious rested on the wall, alone but not abandoned. Waiting. A new owner was needed; time for the mantle to be passed on. The carpetbag always remained the same, but a new umbrella would call the next Mary.

Preloved umbrellas were splayed among the rafters, in honor of those who had deftly used them. The levels were as endless as the Marys’. Each was distinctive, wondrous in their magical glows.

The Parrot-Headed one gave a squawk. All the other handles turned.

A double layered, inverted umbrella brought the new Poppins.

She adjusted her hat. “Spit spot. Ready!”

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

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

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

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Where Have You Been?: #FridayFictioneers

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PHOTO PROMPT © Gah Learner

****Please read, or reread, Philomel, With Melody first. I’ll wait.****

Where Have You Been?

“Finally! Where have you been?”

“Out.”

“Doing what?”

“Stuff.”

“Hmph. ‘Stuff.’ And who were you doing ‘stuff’ with?”

“The guys. Ya’ know. The usual.”

“So, doing that lazy shoemaker’s works for hisself again? He’s using you, Gabrine!”

“Ain’t what you fink, luv. Itsa job; no little, no less.”

“More’n like you lads just want to hang out in the mushroom fields instead of making your own names, like Goodfellow did.”

~~ ~~ ~~

“Oh, I’m sorry. Shouldn’t have brought ‘im up.”

“Sun’s almost arise. Bed, aye?”

“Well, I’ve awaiting long enough, eh?”

“Luv you, too.”

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

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

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

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

Storms Will Come

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Storms Will Come

The storms, the storms

Alive, they come

Floating or falling

They collect, always downward.

 

On the trees, on the grass,

Oer the fields, the streams,

The mountain tops,

The Canopies and roofs,

On grizzled heads and ones of youth,

The storms, the storms,

They come.

 

Things quiet down, you see

There is a softness of sound.

Or a roaring crack and sear

That goes the other way around.

Both are needed; both are dear

Both can bring life; both can bring fear.

 

The storms, the storms,

They come, they come

Bringing that sense of calm

Of the white drifting flakes.

Or feeding the energy of life,

As the panorama is slaked.

 

The come,

The storms.

They come.

 

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Thanks to a new online writer friend.

 

 

 

 

Who Is The Fairest?: #FridayFictioneers

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PHOTO PROMPT © Nathan Sowers grandson of our own Dawn M. Miller

Who Is The Fairest?

Magic Mirror had it rough ever since the Wicked Queen was defeeted. Wearing red-hot metal shoes is one thing; being forced to dance in them? A whole other mishegoss.   Queeny was toast.

The Mirror was in a funk: nobody asked it anything.  On top of that, the Mirror became a magical vagabond. Wherever it was stored, or hung, the locations were beneath it.

“A shack! Alas, alas!”

Its finale placement. It deliberately cracked itself up. Fare thee well.

Who was Fairest wasn’t fair, at all.

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

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

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

Kelly’s Viking Funeral: #FridayFictioneers

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PHOTO PROMPT © Carla Bicomong

Kelly’s Viking Funeral

Mewing 'oer the landscape,
Upon a boat of flames,
Felines of the land lamented
Mighty Kelly has passed on.

For sixteen years she hunted
For sixteen years she spied
Mouse, Hare, Bird, and more
She pounced: they died!

From kitten age, to mighty youth,
To grizzled veteran, she,
Her prey, came to fear,
When Kelly’s stalking was near.

Her claws, a mighty weapon,
Her tail, it thrashed and smote,
With glistening sharp teeth snapped
Her yowls of victory did resound!

Here's to mighty Kelly!
She will be forever missed,
Especially by one fair lass
Whose Kelly's nose, she had kissed.

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

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

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

frosting harvesting

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frosting harvesting

It was the last feather on the horse’s back. The final straw. The icing on the cake. The “One More Thing” that collapsed her, broke her heart, blew out her soul. The fact that everyone-everyone!-turned their back on her. Even Dale and the twins. Dismissing her and all she stood for.

Forever and a day, all due an unwatched process.

No matter what she was doing first aide on Adele while her twin, Gale, stood off to the side. No matter that Dale ignored the accident, turning around and going into the garage. No matter the blood that was slithering down their daughter’s face from the head gash from tumbling off of her bike, or, she suspected, from Gale pushing her off the bike. The blood blotted out Adele’s eyes, filled her mouth, ran onto her clothes.

No matter for any of it. She took her eyes off of her entry, and no one would forgive her this lapse. Burnt cake. Burnt frosting. The timing of the accident left no time for redos. She had no time to remake any of it. She was already late.

Then she was judged, and harshly. Her neighbors and friends, co-workers, friends, and finally family, judged her end result and issued it Insufficient. As they turned away from her, the Adjudicator yelled the word. Insufficient. Her entry.

Herself.

As was the law, she stood where she was. The late afternoon turned into night, and, finally, the dawn summoned the new day. She was free to leave, but to where? Without seeing it done, she knew Dale had burnt all of her things and changed the locks on all the doors. Her parents and sister as well. It was what was done. Any gift that she had made, kept by family and friends, would be heaped in a pile in the middle of town. By the end of this new day, it would all be broken to dust, the rest turned to ashes.

The walk out of town took her northeast. No town that surrounded her once home would take her in. The news spread too fast. She drank spring water, ate fruit, and raw fish when she could find it. She hid when wagons and solitary riders passed. Sleeping outdoors fitfully, whether it rained or grew cold. Nothing was safe. Not until the journey took her far away.

Time passed, and her clothing got ragged, as did she. Dead inside, she did not heed her weakening from lack of sleep, lack of adequate food, and the constant travel. She gave up. Falling to her knees, and then prone, her eyes closed with her wish for death.

She found out later that the family was traveling, having visited kin up north. The three girls needed to relieve themselves desperately. Their parents argued how close they were to home, how dark it was getting, how tired they all were. It was their younger brother that sealed the deal, his pants and shoes soaked, leaving him crying. The wagon stopped and the girls jumped out, heading to the tree line.

Waking in their house, snuggled beneath a heavy quilt, cleaned and changed into nightwear, she first thought that this was a hallucination. The oldest girl, Mara, cried out “She’s awake!” That sent all the children rushing to the bed she was lying in, followed by Roman and Anne, their parents. All was explained, even though all the questions of the children.

“You were almost dead,” Sarah piped up amidst the telling. The youngest girl, Tara, and their brother, Zara (shortened, she later found out, from Zacharia) just stood and stared at her.

She feigned not knowing her name at first, but the children persisted. She could not tell them that she was Insufficient. They would toss her out. It was lying, but she created a truncated version of that horrible branding.

“Eena. My name is Eena.”

Once Eena was strong enough, she repaid their generosity, at first helping in the cooking, finally taking it over when she proved how adept she was in the kitchen. Everyone enjoyed what she brought to their table, even the picky little ones. It took a short while before she baked again, but she had been healing inside bit by bit. The adults would know something was off if she continued to refuse to bake.

Her first try was met with a smattering of lips and peals of “more, more” from all the children. Their parents joined in that chorus on the third evening’s treat. They praised the frosting, the moistness of the cake. The cupcakes. The frosted tarts. Everything she brought to the table was met with praise and full mouths.

Word got around, and by the end of Eena’s first season in her new town, she had requests, then orders, from all the households. Others seemed to visit the town for errands that never happened, but resulted in their leaving with baked goods of all types.

Eena had been paying for all her baking needs by the end of her second month, with enough left to repay her family for all that she used.

The first season led to the next season, and by the time the third season rolled around, Eena had moved out and into town, opening up her own bakery and living in the back room. She experimented with icing and cake flavors, types of cookies and other baked goods. One and all, she frosted, iced, and created happy tummies.

A year turned to the next, finally admitting she needed help to produce all the orders. She took on Mara, being of age to apprentice, and the two of them baked and created and laughed throughout the day. By the time Mara was proficient she had met a love, that became her spouse.

Moving on left room for Sarah, then eventually Tara. Zara went by Zach now, and he helped with any hefty lifting or fixing when needed. Tara stayed on the longest, making new confections one after the other. Eena had expanded the space with Zach’s help, adding two more living spaces in the back: a bedroom for Tara and a visiting room for them all. The bakery doubled in size and in output.

Zach finally married but still found the time to help around the bakery. The girls came to help, usually two at a time, leaving their children with Grandma Anne and whichever’s sister’s turn it was to mind the little ones. Roman helped with what he could, playing with his grandkids until they tired him out.

Everyone had retreated for the day, and Eena was finishing up one last cake order. She was making an orange frosting, sugared and mixed with orange zest, when the door opened. She humphed a bit, more for herself not making sure the door was locked.

“I’m sold out of everything, and just about done for the…” She couldn’t continue. She dropped the bowel of frosting, the mixing spoon flying up and ladeling the sticky mess onto her face and shirt.

“Adele?”

The girl’s-young woman’s-eyes filled with tears. She nodded her head vigorously, her cheeks turning a burning red. Eena was coming around the counter just as Adele flung herself into an embrace that Eena had never experienced.

“I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry,” Adele repeated over and over.

“Shhh, shhh, you’re here now. That’s enough.”

They both cried, laughed, and tried to unstick themselves from the frosting that was hardening them together.

Eena wanted them to never again unstick from each other.

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,

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(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.

 

The Crumpet Slaughter Squad: Chapter One

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@Richard_Kadrey Prompt

Chapter One: Mrs. Teasdale’s Tea

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The lump of dead flesh didn’t answer back.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It had been a splendid tea.

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Author’s Note:

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

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

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

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

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

The Condo: #FridayFictioneers

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sandra-crook-stacks

PHOTO PROMPT © Sandra Crook

The Condo

“Seven floors and a rooftop garden. That’s what the classified said: seven and a garden.”

“Well, if you look at it a certain way…”

“I am looking at it in a certain way. It’s pure bloomin’ ugly.”

“Sigh.”

“Although, it does have a river view if you get a spot that faces the river.”

“There is that. You know, you’ve said you’d love a fixer-upper. Get yourself all into it, making it perfect for the two of us, and…”

“And? Not your mother ‘and’ I hope.”

She placed her hands on her belly.

“Oh!”

“Yes. ‘Oh!”

“Right. Well, in for a pound…”

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

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

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