Tag Archives: fiction

Indifference To A Walk In The Park

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The writer wished he  was a painter. In his mind, he painted, as he strolled through the park that surrounded the lake. “An artist that crafted something permeable,” he thought.  “People would enjoy the aesthetics of my creation. Or not. Who cares?” He knew his words held power, but they came fleeting, more often then not. He wanted a blank canvas on an easel, paints, brush…all the accoutrements. What he had was his hands in his pockets as he walked around the shallow body of water.

He thought in tones of realism, but wished he was  a writer who tended to the abstract, maybe even pointillist, impressionist or surrealistic styling. He wished to dig at the what emits through the nature of things, taking away the shell and leaving the essence.  He wanted words that would fly, forgoing concrete for emotive deconstruction. The writer who wanted to be a painter wanted intrigue, disgust, passion…not the indifference of being one of so, so many.

His thoughts led him along the path, noticing moments: the couples on the benches that were shaded, not in direct sun; the gangs of geese, on land or in the water, their droppings littering almost any step he could make; the twin girls learning how to bike ride, both in pink helmets and pants, one free wheeling, the other still attached to dad, who yells out “Be strong!” to her as he’s ready to let go; the bicyclists who pass him by; the joggers who run, stop, start, all around him, in various work out clothes, both loose and tight; the woman with the  lame leg trying to keep up with her younger walking partner; the broken pathway, cracked earth, the cloudless blue sky that’s letting the sun light to beat down on the surroundings, on him, sweating. He wants to paint these moments, these scenes.

It happens in a lost thought. Coming up the path, straight towards him, wide open eyes staring at him, a smile plastered across the dirt streaked face. A collision course, chicken played out in daylight. A foot splashes into one of the many puddles that dot the walkway, sending a light spray towards the writer, towards geese sitting to the side, silent. The writer stares back, keeping to his path, and a reflective smile creases his face. His hands, which are at his side, reach up towards his belt, elbows bent, ready.

The mother shouts “Liam!” and  takes the three year old’s hand, moving him out of the writer’s way, just as the writer side stepped the child. She and the father apologize for their child, but the writer waves it off, laughing, and says “It was just a showdown. Liam would have won, ” and he continues walking. Looking back, Liam is riding high in his mother’s arms, looking over her shoulder at the retreating writer. His little hand waves. The writer waves back, then continues on.

From there on, the writer observes the dragons that come to roost on the banks of the lake, the mates and their dragonettes in clusters, resting. The Swan King settles down in the middle of the water, standing on one foot, and calls out to all his turquoise and brown brethren, who swim in a circle around the king, genuflecting into the water, and coming up with catch for their supper. A high speed chase flashes down the path, two wheeled and two legged, a race on a moebius strip of gravel and dirt. The writer notices things out of the corner of his eye, but he pays them no heed, for when he looks directly at them, they are altered forever.

He sits on a throne of blue painted planks held up by ornate grey cement, etched with decrees of love and foul curses. Breathing in the moments, it all plays out for him in hundreds of different ways. He is an artist, and he is a painter, and he sings and conducts and composes and his mind dances to all the tunes he can imagine, and all the colors are at his disposal.

Levitating off the throne, he wings his way home.

One Lovely Blog Award…Yes, It Is Too

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It was the 2012 Memorial Day Weekend, and I get a pleasant surprise: I have been honored TWICE with the One Lovely Blog Award, as passed on to me by Allan Douglas of Simple Life Prattle and The Write Stuff (and fellow Triberr buddy).

How could he bestow this upon me twice? One is for here,Tale Spinning, the other is for my Non-Fiction blog, BornStoryteller.

The “rules” are simple:

  1. Thank the person who awarded the award (Thank you Allan) and link back to their blogs: Click HERE and HERE
  2. Tell SEVEN things about yourself that no one knows (but two blogs… 14.. but…14? TMI)
  3. Pass on the award to (15) blogs you follow and like/admire/wish they were yours.
    1. I’ll do as many as I can.

So…

Seven Things :

  1. I’ve lived on the East Coast of the USA all my life, but have visited more than half of the states now.
  2. I read SciFi, Fantasy, Thrillers, Mysteries, and then the occasional other book. Existentialism, anyone?
  3. I wish the lyrics to John Lennon’s song Imagine were achievable.
  4. People find me unfocused in my field of interest (the arts); I find myself versatile.
  5. I believe in ghosts, but not vampires and werewolves. Especially not shimmery vampires.
  6. I like both cats and dogs; I do NOT like fish, as pets or otherwise.
  7. I have never gone to a demolition derby or a monster truck thingy; I’d like to, at least once.

In no particular order, blogs I pass this along to, and you should give them a look/leave a comment (tell ’em I said Hi):

Woman Wielding Words

The Eagle’s Aerial Perspective

Ghost Cities

My Rivendell

ZenCherry

The View Outside

David Powers King

Cherie Reich-Author

No Wasted Ink

Sweepy Jean Explores the (Webby) World

Daily (W)Rite

Raising Amelie

Sonia Rumzi

A French Yummy Mummy in London

Rock the Kasbah

Zenith: Arising (#AtoZChallenge)

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The A to Z Challenge : 26 Stories during the month of April

Welcome to… The Apartment Building: Swan Rise

(For Links to ALL the previous stories, CLICK HERE

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Goodbye…

The wrecking ball wrecked, the explosives exploded, and all the debris was carted away. Stone, bricks, glass, wood, metal piping, aluminum, copper, brass, steel, plastics, rubber hoses, cables and…among the detritus there were also bits and pieces of lives mixed in: slivers of dolls and toys; charred papers that once were whole books,  someone’s thesis or love letters, wills, documents, pictures; cloth that, in some pieces, you could see patterns that illuminated a sun dress or once expensive curtains; some bones, those of the pets that were never found. So much life mired in destruction.

Swan Rise Apartments was no more; really, it hadn’t been for months. The property was condemned: the damage from the explosion and fires were too great. Part of the foundation was in shambles. Inferior piping was found to run through the remaining section of the building, and some of the landings were precarious in any hope of their holding up. The majority of the building inhabitants were not allowed to retrieve their belongings. They all settled, out of court.

Swan Rise fell in November of 2005.

That winter was fierce, and building anything was held off for months as ice storms and heavy snows blanketed the area. There was also litigation for wrongful deaths, finger pointing, bribes not paid, fines not paid, union disputes, haggling over bids, and planning…lots of planning. The real estate was too valuable to leave an empty lot.

Construction began in the early fall of 2006.

The wild life that floated up and down Swan River ignored all the doings. They lived too far away to be inconvenienced beyond the initial blasts. They’d fly over for the morsels that were tossed from workers meals, carelessly done so in the already made squalor. The birds let their presence be known in a number of different ways, many times being cursed out by a construction worker who was “hit.”

For close to two years the area morphed from gravel, dirt, weeds, and the past into a new edifice of metal, concrete and glass. Swan River Road was bustling with traffic, the sprouting of other buildings and businesses growing substantially from 1960. New construction always brought gawkers around, rubberneckers ogled the cranes bringing girders to be placed, and the welding and gluing and mortaring and tarring  brought things to a standstill all too often, much to the chagrin of the other inhabited area.

2008, and a new renamed building was erected, zoned for two extra floors, standing seven stories tall. Taking far longer than anticipated, the building management was chomping at the bit for all the lost revenue. They made it a condo, and had nice down-payments in the bank for all of the apartments by the time the construction was complete. There was a waiting list, and would continue to be one in the years ahead.

The tenants of Mallards Crossing Condominium moved into their new residences.

Hello…

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Author’s Note:

April 2012 comes to a close and this year’s AtoZ Challenge with it. 26 posts about Swan Rise Apartments and its residents. 24 stories; two poems (one free form; one sonnet).

If you were wondering, I wrote 18,032 words during the month; if you add in The Whistler is Dead, it is 18,493 words in length. Not too shabby.

Please note that these stories will be left up only through May 2012.

I will then take them offline as of June 1st, as I plan to put this whole thing through an editors pen and a second “draft.”Quite a lot of the early ones need some fleshing out, especially the two poem posts, so I hope  to bring it over 25,000 words; more, if I get really ambitious.

From there, it will be query letter time.  If an agent or publisher only sees this as tainted goods (already published) then I WILL go the self publishing route, but there will be a lot that was never intended for the AtoZ that I had in mind and little to no time to write. The reaction on the comments and in emails has been so positive that I’d be silly to let this just lie here solely on a blog.

Thank you to all of my readers. You’ve been my “beta” testers, my writing cohort, as I’ve explored this story as you have: day by day. I made many discoveries along the way, and very few of the original titles I “planned” out remained. I never knew there was a murder in the building until I wrote it into one of the stories, a throw-away line that had a life unto itself. Mrs. Beatty was only a small dot to me when I wrote the first story: she became a loved character to many of you (and me as well). So many others in the building took on more weight (Amy came out of nowhere, and I’m glad she did), and a few will get some expansions when I work on this over the summer months.

A big Thank You goes to Lisa Vooght for being my sounding board, playing editor and  finding some of my outright mistakes, and for all of her support. She is an amazing writer in her own right and you should check out her creative fiction blog, Flash Fiction.

I also want to thank Arlee Bird (founder of the blog fest: click on the logo heading this blog post to go to their site) and his co-hosts for running this and giving over 1500 bloggers a chance to spread their wings (and go a little crazy in the process).

I hope you’ve enjoyed this series of interwoven tales. This was both tiring and exciting for me as a writer.

Comments are always welcome, no matter when you read the stories.

Did you have a favorite of the 26? I’d like to know which one(s) were for you and why.

That’s always a big help and a blessing for a writer: feedback.

Thanks all!!!

Stuart

One Man’s Ceiling… (#AtoZChallenge)

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Welcome to the A to Z Challenge : 26 Stories during the month of April

Welcome to… The Apartment Building: Swan Rise

(For Links to the previous stories, CLICK HERE)

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Amy’s dad was not thinking about the neighbors. His wife said  he just wasn’t thinking when he bought Amy her first drum kit. They lived in an apartment building (“For gosh sakes!” she cried out when she saw the set up) and had neighbors to both sides and one on top and one underneath. Even with the carpeting and his “feeble” attempt at soundproofing, the complaints lodged sent Amy and her drums to the basement, where she practiced until the new super took away those rights in her teens.

This had been the buzz around Swan Rise, off and on, over the years. It settled down to one major thing, that most agreed on:

Noise. The residents of Swan Rise Apartments were not partial to extra noise.

Oh, it was fine during some holidays, and was accepted during big sporting events (don’t try to have a quiet evening at home during the Super Bowl!). New Years Eve-kinda, sorta-but even that was tame in comparison other big blow outs. The illegal fireworks that boomed around on July 4th sent most of the building dogs skittering and whimpering under beds, into bathtubs, or frantically into the laps of their owners, trying to hide in human comfort.

The constant vacuumers, their OCD levels of cleanliness taking over almost daily, were a scourge to anyone who was housebound in any way. If you were sick and stayed home from work or school, you just had to hope that the apartment above you had been hoovered clean already. The vibrations didn’t resound for long in one spot, unless you lived under apartment 4H; it was a surprise that the vacuum cleaner did not bore it’s way down to 3H.

Teens played their music loud, and was tolerated only to the degree of the attitude of the teen. The surlier, dirtier looking, and less helpful ones had little to no leeway. A more straight laced teen didn’t get a complete pass, but there were gentler ways to “offer” noise guidance. Amy had been a well liked young lady, so her drumming was accepted, overall, until she took up with “that boy.”

Swan River Parkway lay with only a four lane road separating the speeding cars and Swan Rise Apartments. Everyone who moved in said they only had trouble sleeping the first few nights. They soon became inured to the almost constant whooshing by; it was only the squeal of tires and the “THUMPTHUMPTHUMP” of an accident that broke into their consciousness.  If you looked up to the windows that faced the parkway, you’d see many faces gawking, a highrise rubbernecking.

Quiet is how most wanted to live. The hum of everyday life folded in upon itself as the residents went about their days.

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Velocity

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Jim made a right turn at a red light, at a corner with two signs saying “No Turn On Red.” His tires left tread as he barreled through the intersection. No cops, just a couple of honkers annoying him.  The Beamer behind him was blistering the air with a staccato of horn blasts. Jim just gave him the finger and sped up, passing through the next light before it turned.

Previously, he had outraced four Yellow “Go Faster!” lights, blew through five Stop signs, crossed over the double yellow lines (to get around the “old farts”) three times, and came close to hitting two cars, and one woman with a stroller crossing in the crosswalk (who had the right of way, but Jim didn’t see it that way at all: he ignored anything that even hinted at “right of way” rules, as his was the only right of way he believed in).

His H3 Alpha had two and a half tons of pure motion in his hands and under his feet; a weapon of the streets, and he aimed to drive as if Hell was on his tail.

He was partly right.

After more almost mishaps, Jim made it home from his beer run. Braking hard, he careened into his spot, barely missing the cars parked parallel to his. He slammed the driver’s door shut. With six pack in hand, he sauntered across the parking lot to the apartment building. Banging open the door, he was confronted with the angry glares of the daily laundering ladies, sorting their whites and colors and silently condemning him for his loud music, his caps on backwards, his wife beater Tees, and his baggy drooping pants.

Jim sneered a Hello to them, walked down the hallway, and danced onto the elevator, which luckily for all was waiting to take him up to the seventh floor.

Unlocking his door, Jim stopped in his tracks. Envelopes were strewn all over the foyer floor. Cursing, Jim kicked the door closed, went to the kitchen and put a six pack in the fridge. He cracked one open, and while swigging it down he went back to get the “under the door garbage.”

Expecting menus or advertisements, he opened one and found a traffic ticket: $150.00 fine for going through “No Turn On Red” signs. There were pictures on the page, clear and damning, of his car, his license plate, him behind the wheel. Shouting out expletives that were heard by the neighbors, Jim picked up the rest and headed to the kitchenette table.

Thirteen more envelopes later, Jim had a stack of traffic tickets in front of him. All had high fines, all had shots of him supporting the fines. He stared at the pile, growling as he set tightly gripping the bottle of cheap lager. He looked them over one more time, then tore each one in half. Crumpling them up one by one, he tossed them into the trash. Out of character for Jim, he took this garbage pail, only half full, not overflowing,  out to the trash chute at the end of the hall. He stomped back to his studio apartment, slammed the door, locked it, and went off to polish off the five remaining bottles in the fridge.

The next morning Jim found fourteen more traffic tickets on the floor by his front door. All the fines were doubled, in large red letters. Again, Jim tore them all up. On his way out, he met the super and complained about someone getting into the building, leaving things under his door. The super waved him on while he continued to mop, having something to gossip about later with his cronies in the building.

Jim’s traffic transgressions were doubled this day, anger seeping out of every pore. When he got home from work, he was greeted by forty-two envelopes, all splayed out on the floor. He tore into them as he threw off his faux leather jacket, opening the refrigerator for the first of cold brews (having replaced the empty six pack with a fresh one in the morning).  Plopping down in his La-Z-Boy, Jim opened, read, and then tore up all the violation warnings. He threw them into the waste basket next to his chair, most of the pieces winding up on the floor. They stayed there.

Waking up from an hour and twenty minute nap, Jim though he had heard a noise by his front door. Getting up to check, he saw more white rectangles littering his floor. Jim ran over, unlocking the door and yanking it open. No one was near his apartment. He ran to the elevator, which was stopped on the floor above, then checked the stairway. Mrs. Elway, widow, garbage bag in hand, saw Jim in his frantic ways, had been going to the chute to dispose her daily waste. She quickly waddled back inside her apartment, locking it, to wait out Jim.

Once back inside, he ripped open the flaps. All the fines were doubled again. The bright red “Warning: Do Not Disregard or Tear Up These Notices” was stamped on every single one of the sheets, top, bottom and the back. Jim wanted to shred them all. They sat in a pile on the table, in place of where he’d eat.

The next morning, another round appeared. Jim called in sick (his boss not believing him and started the process of replacing Jim once they hung up) and waited until 9:00am to call the traffic division. He demanded to talk to whoever was harassing him in such a way. The phone receptionist, taking only so much bad language, disconnected him. And again, first apologizing for being disconnected. Jim called a few more times, finally realizing he was going to get no where.

His drive to the traffic court was sedate, for Jim. Only three infractions, but they grew after Jim spent two and half hours of hurling insults and almost getting arrested for his behavior. His drive home made the local evening news, as people were recounting the dangerous driver who tore through the city streets “like it was his own personal Daytona 500” (said one onlooker who said he barely got out of the way in time).

More envelopes. More doubled fines. More “Do Not…” warnings. Opening up the calculator app on his phone, Jim tallied a staggering amount of fines. His savings and checking account combined wouldn’t even make a dent in what this added up to be.

Jim put his head in his hands, closed his eyes, and tried to calm his racing heart. He heard a sliding sound, got up, and by his door was one envelope. He picked it up: white like the others, but it had stamped on the outside “Last Warning, Jim.” Looking through the peephole, the empty hallway loomed before him. One of the overhead lights went out while he was peeping.

Going to his once comfy chair, Jim plopped down, examining what he held before carefully opening it. The paper was slick and shiny,  coated so that there was a slight glare off the page, reflecting the now fading sunset. A definitive sum headed the ticket, with a list of all of his driving misdoings. Jim read them all, carefully, the bile in his stomach churning with each and every misdeed. This carried on onto the back of the “rap” sheet, ending in a list of terms. Two:

  1. Pay the full amount by 3:33 am (or)
  2. Surrender yourself for full punitive justice

Jim had to look up the word “punitive.” Looking up at the clock on the wall, he had just about ten hours to find the money, or…

Grabbing what he could, Jim tore through the building, out to the lot, and into his SUV. He hit the road, running, and made it to the highway. He drove for hours, going south, then south east, then north for a bit, taking one connective road after another. No plan, no destination, just driving.

3:10 am, and Jim found a Denny’s (it was always open).  Ordering a Grand Slamwich(r) and a cup of coffee, Jim settled back in his booth seat, staring at the clock on the wall. He was on his second cup of coffee and only two bites into his cold sandwich when 3:33 am came. He clutched the mug, not noticing it wasn’t burning his hands.

3:34 am.

3:40 am.

3:45 am, and nothing happened. Sighing, wiping the sweat off of his hands on the booth seat, Jim paid the check and went out to the parking lot.

Leaning against his ride was the biggest cop Jim had ever seen. All in blue, helmet on with faceplate down, his badge radiated golden light, pinned to a massive chest. Raising his right arm, the officer beckoned Jim to come over with one crooked finger. Seeing this, Jim turned and tried to bolt.

He couldn’t. Against his will, Jim turned and walked towards the figure swathed in dark blue. He was within a foot when Jim was spun around and hard, cold metal was clamped around his wrists. He was manhandled into the back of an official looking van, but it had no insignia that Jim could see. Before he could say a word, the van took off, tossing Jim headlong into a bench seat.

Finally getting his bearings, Jim was shoulder pushed into an open spot. He looked around: the van, larger looking on the inside, held a lot of others, both sexes, all ages…well, all above driving age (except for that one girl who looked like she was twelve). Jim tried to shout, to ask what was happening, but nothing came out. Some weakly smiled at him, the rest ignored him. He tried a few more times, but the only sound he heard was the whine of the wind as the van picked up speed as it sped off to it’s final destination.

In the morning at Denny’s, the day shift manager found Jim’s H3 in the parking lot, keys on the hood. “Not mine,” was the answer he got from all inside. The manager waited out his shift and then called for the SUV to be towed away. Two months later, the gas guzzler was police auctioned off. The funds helped, as there was a recent drop in speeding tickets.

 

Beginnings: The Abysmal Dollhouse

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The priest drove the blade deep into Amunet’s chest. The suddenness of the attack shocked her as much as the pain that followed it. This action was repeated by five other priests with all the house slaves in the Mastaba, the final resting place of her master. She saw the others die. This priest’s blade was not true, not penetrating her heart on the first strike. But still, it caused her impending death. The time she had left, though, was enough.

Amunet locked eyes with the priest, old and sand scarred. The pain she felt was mixed with hatred.  Amunet howled a curse as he pulled the knife out of her chest. The priest was  holding the blade’s handle, a tinge of fear on his face, then anger for not having struck a death blow.  Before he could react, Amunet grabbed the hilt, reversed it, and slashed the priest’s throat. In a gurgle, then a gush  he fell to the ground, dying at her feet.

Behind his corpse was a mantle, and the relics that were to be entombed alongside the dead. Amunet stumbled towards it, her life memories, short and brutal, unfolded as she bled out. She held onto the ceremonial knife.

First step: a different life, a different name. A Greek girl, blonde and often praised for her beautiful skin; kidnapped along the coastal shore of her village. Bound and bagged, dropped in a hold with other young girls.

Next step: stripped, passed around from pirate to pirate throughout the voyage. Beaten, starved, raped. Other captives died along the way. They were tossed over the side. She helped toss some over the side.

Fumble step: Only the beatings ended as they announced land in a few days. No scars, no marks on her beautiful skin. Fed more, and passed around even more.

Stopped, panting, holding onto the wound, blood seeping out between her fingers: Naked, auctioned off like cattle; poked, prodded, fondled, pried open. Bought by her “master”, not knowing the language, then. He took her that night, and nights after. Gave her her name. Amunet, the hidden one. Beatings, never at his hands, until she came into line. She was a novelty, with her skin, her coloring, and her master enjoyed sharing his treasure with others.

Two half steps closer: Watching him clutching his arm, then his chest. He tumbled off his chair in front of her and the other slaves. Only one slave moved to his side. Not her. Never her. She smiled.

Collapsing on the mantle: Amunet clutched the doll, the one to protect her “master” in his next life. It’s hair was of sun-baked clay strung on flax thread. The doll’s  body was of wood in the shape of a woman, symbols of fertility etched into it. She held the doll to her chest; she cursed the men who stole her, she cursed all those who used her, she sent out waves of anger and primal hatred. Her blood soaked into the wood carving, the flax thread, stained the sun-baked clay. Her battered life unfolded into the doll.

On her knees, grasping the doll, her head bent over it, laying her curse, she took the knife that she held and stabbed the doll.  Another priest came behind her and rammed his blade into her back. This priest’s blow was true. Amunet fell forward onto the doll.

Her spirit of rage became the doll. A knife became her weapon. She took others through the ages: just, unjust…it did not matter to The Unfolding Doll. For centuries, her revenge glistened on her knife’s edge over and over again.

She grew careless, once, and was trapped by a mage whose son she had taken. Too strong to be destroyed, he did what he could. Caught in his daughter’s room, he fought her and won, binding her spirit in the child’s dollhouse. The mage sold it to a very special shop. He knew he could not stop her completely, but limit the murderous spirit? That he could do.

Be careful when entering The Abysmal Dollhouse. There lies the hidden one, the Unfolding Doll.

The Movie House: A Tale of the Abysmal Dollhouse

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Tales from The Abysmal Dollhouse:

The Unfolding Doll

The Shopkeeper

The Movie House (the third reel)

The marquee of The Movie House changed often, rarely repeating. The Abysmal Dollhouse shopkeeper glanced often, amused at some of the titles that flashed, dreading days when double features were shows. She kept a  stone in front of the theater to prevent it from opening when she was near. The movies played endlessly, and she only had so much patience with bad, horrible movies.

The teenage girl entered, the bell on the door announcing her arrival. This was her fourth time in The Abysmal Dollhouse in as many days. Wandering around the dollhouses, none called to her, so the shopkeeper left her alone. Today, the youth made it past The Halloween House, The Bottom House, The Borley Rectory, and the many others. She stopped at The Wall of Heads House, but moved on. The shopkeeper was glad. That was not for one like the teen.

Bending over in front of The Movie House, the girl pushed back her long brunette hair and pushed her glasses up her nose. She read out loud “The Unbearable Lightness of Being? I hated that one.” The wall of the theater tried to open, but it was blocked. The girl noticed the movement and started to reach for the rock.

“Wait,” the shopkeeper moved over to her side, moving the girl’s hand away. “I wouldn’t, Beth.”

Looking at the shopkeeper, really noticing her for the first time, the teenager, all awkward angles and full of growth spurts, went from curious to attitude. “How did you know my name? Why shouldn’t I? It’s just a stupid  dollhouse.”

The clamor from the other dollhouses took even the shopkeeper by surprise. “MINE!” rang out around the store.

Distracted, she did not notice Beth grab the colored stone and pick it up. It was Beth’s gasp that captured her attention. The front of the house opened up, showing first an ornate lobby of gilded gold furnishings and red velvet draperies. This was swept away to show the inside of the theater. It was too late for Beth, and the shopkeeper sidled over, returning to her place behind the counter. She placed her hand on her hourglass and stared out the front window.

Beth was unaware that the marquee had changed before the wall opened. The Haunting (1999) shared top billing with Spice World (1997).  Her eyes were drawn to the screen as image after image played. The tiny figures in the seats were writhing, mouths open, but any sound they made was obscured by the sound from the screen. Beth found herself in one of the chairs, unable to move, unable to do anything but watch the very bad movie. The Unfolding Doll, dressed as an usher, moved spasmodically up the aisle with a bag of burnt popcorn in its hand.  Beth tried to scream.

The Movie House wall slid shut. The shopkeeper walked over and replaced the stone, noticing three new titles on the Marquee: Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes, Spiderman 3 and Batman and Robin.

She shuddered.

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Alex J. Cavanaugh runs a blog that just hit over 900 followers, so he must be doing something right, or write. Well beloved, Alex ran this one day blogfest, and it’s been fun looking at some of the lists of movies people rate as their worst.

For me, I just included movies I’ve really disliked, that stand out as movies I wish I had walked out on, but didn’t or couldn’t. Spice World: well, how could I walk out on my pre-teen daughter? Posh was good looking, so that was a plus. Lena Olin was the only thing that saved Unbearable Lightness…my date thought I liked the movie. I thought she did. We had a good laugh when we shared how much we hated that movie.

I am a movie fan, and there are many more on my list of “ugh” movies. My using my The Abysmal Dollhouse series as a way of putting them out there really just felt right for me. I could go on about movies I’ve thought were horrible. Take a look at the blogs joining in on Alex’s blogfest. You’ll find plenty.

Announcing: The Rule of Three Blog Challenge!!! (*Amended Posting Days)

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REN3<a href=”http://wp.me/P1mecg-bV”><img src=”http://i1190.photobucket.com/albums/z451/Jc_Martin/RuleofThreeshield.jpg&#8221; alt=”REN3″ width=”200″ height=”200″ /></a>

Grab this code for the badge created by the wonderful Portia Burton, Concept by the equally wonderful Lisa Vooght

The Rule of Three Fiction Writing Blog Challenge

Once upon a time, four  Writers Who Blog (WWB) got together to create a shared world, the Town of Renaissance, where they invite writers to come and take up residence and explore it’s environ and citizens. During the month of October 2011, one a week, a story will emerge, linking three characters into one final cumulative story.  It’s up to you, the writer, to choose the way they interact, or not, and how the final story in the fourth week ends is the journey’s end.  Damyanti Biswas, Lisa Vooght, and JC Martin and I are the WWB, and we welcome you to Renaissance. Enjoy your stay. Oh…one last thing…

Everyone Has A Secret!!

All The Guidelines You Could Want, Prizes (yes, PRIZES) and Linky List Below

(There is a lot to take in but, trust me, it will be worth it)


A. What is the Rule of Three?

The “rule of three” is a principle in writing that suggests that things that come in threes are inherently funnier, more satisfying, or more effective than other numbers of things. The reader/audience of this form of text is also more likely to consume information if it is written in groups of threes. A series of three is often used to create a progression in which the tension is created, then built up, built up even more, and finally released. –Wikipedia

B. How does the Rule of Three work in this blogfest?

The Rule of Three is a month-long fiction blogfest, where we’ve created a ‘world’, the town of Renaissance, and challenged you to create a story within it. The story will feature 3 characters of your creation, who will be showcased on your blog on 3 different Wednesdays, following the Rule of Three. The 4th Wednesday, we’ll have the culminating scene.

C. What is the Shared World of Rule of Three? Welcome to Renaissance

Renaissance is an outpost town in the middle of nowhere, but many routes pass through or beside it. The desert is encroaching on one side (to the West), a once-lush forest lies to the East and South. A large river runs through the forest, but it is not close to the town. Mountains are to the North, far, far away, and when you look towards them you don’t know if they are an illusion or real. Closer by are the smaller hill chains that fed the mining, creating caverns and passages underground.
The town has had a number of identities throughout its history: A trading post; a mining town; a ghost town until it was rediscovered; a thriving community; the scene of a number of great battles; the scene of one great tragedy (that led to its Ghost Town standing); a town of great joys and celebrations, and so much more.
At this point in time, there is a general population of 333. A mixture of a community. It boasts families that have lived there for generations upon generations, but they are in the minority, and are not in positions of power. There are traders who have come back here, at the end of their many travails, to settle in. The new families and power-players have taken this as a last refuge for themselves, hoping to rebuild lives torn apart on the way here.
Everyone has a secret. Welcome to Renaissance. Enjoy your stay.

D. Writing Guidelines for the Rule of Three Blogfest:

  1. Your overall story can be in any genre, time period, or style you choose.
  1. You must have three characters (Rule of Three), but the relation between them is up to you.
  1. Every Wednesday or Thursday (48 Hour Window), post a narrative fiction: story, poem, song lyric, play, monologue, soliloquy– any style you choose to work in.
  1. Each Friday you will be given a broad writing prompt that will escalate the inner happenings of your story.
  1. Choose one of your characters to showcase that given week as the main protagonist for that posting. Of course, you can weave in your other characters as you see fit, but the main action/conflict or point of view should be the showcased character of the week.
  1. In the fourth week, give us your tour de force, a culmination of the story that will make us weep, weak at the knees, jump for joy, whatever…and know a writer’s job was done well.
  1. Each post should be between 500-600 words. Please try to keep to the limit. Thank you.
    1. Narrative Poetry should be at least 20 lines.

E. We have Prizes!!!!!!

We as hosts would read all the posts and put up a shortlist of possible winners, and then hold a poll for votes on the shortlist to decide the winners and honorable mentions.

The prizes are:

1st prize: $ 50USD Amazon voucher

2nd prize: $ 10 USD and Guest posts or Interviews on the host blogs:
3rd prize: A bundle of the following e-books:
1.Michael Hicks,     “In Her Name: Empire”    http://tinyurl.com/3kqocew
2. Marcus Clearspring, “Walkabout Gnomes”  http://tinyurl.com/3wkgxry
3. Alex J Cavanaugh, “Cassa Star”   http://tinyurl.com/3t358vk
4. S.L. Pierce, “The Hate”, “The Devil’s Game”, “Secrets”  http://tinyurl.com/42ef9l2
5. Faith Mortimer, “Echoes Of Life and Love”     http://tinyurl.com/3aptnva
6. Talli Roland, “Watching Willow Watts”   http://tinyurl.com/3ru9bb8
Honorable mentions will receive 1 e-book from among these 3
1. Damyanti Biswas, “A To Z Stories Of Life and Death”  http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/81146
2. J.C. Martin and Michelle Davidson Argyle, “Stories For Sendai”,       http://tinyurl.com/3asdnrr
3. Stuart Nager, “Dawn Of Indie Romance”,      http://tinyurl.com/3pkeexn

(For full information on all authors and books, click on the Featured Authors tab at top of blog.)

F. How to Sign up:
  1. Sign up at the Linky list below by the 3rd of October. Please do so only if you intend to write a story, and participate in the writers’ community, not because you want to promote a soap, a website, or a random electronic gadget. We promise to remove all spam and advertisements.
  1. Leave us a comment after you sign in. For instance, talk about which genre you want to write in, whether your Rule of Three story would feature characters from your current WIP or you would introduce us to new ones…anything at all about your plans for the blogfest
  1. Visit this blog or those of the other hosts tomorrow, or any time during the next week to find the first Rule of Three prompt.
  1. Please let us know if you’ve signed up but find yourself unable to write for the blogfest for some reason, so we can remove your link as a courtesy to everyone using the Linky list to visit the participants. Most visitors find it annoying to reach an irrelevant post by clicking a name on the Linky list.
  1. Schedule for prompts and posting: save these dates on your calendar!
  • Rule of Three 1st prompt 1st September
  • Rule of Three Part 1 (post) 5th/6th October
  • Rule of Three 2nd prompt 7th October
  • Rule of Three Part 2 (post) 12th/13th October
  • Rule of Three 3rd prompt 14th October
  • Rule of Three Part 3 (post) 19th.  /20th October
  • Rule of Three 4th prompt 21st October
  • Rule of Three Part 4 (final post) 26th/27th October
  1. Poll for shortlists will be up on 2nd November, and winners will be declared on the 11th of November.
  2. All the hosts would take part, but they will not win any prizes.
F. How to become part of The Rule of Three Blogfest Success:
    1. Place the Rule of Three badge on your sidebar.
  1. Post and/or tweet about the challenge in the weeks leading up to the Rule of Three. Spread the word on twitter with the Hashtag #REN3 .
  2. Throughout the blogfest, visit as many other entries as you can and give the entrants some comment love and suggestions.
We now declare the Rule of Three Blogfest open! Please visit us tomorrow for the first prompt, so you can plot the beginning of your Renaissance story following the Rule of Three!

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The Kitsune-Mochi and Red Helen

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Drinking in the nectar of the kabosu, Red Helen sat and savored the sour orange taste. Chiyoko had chosen the best fruits of the flowering plant, intending to add their citrus flavor to the sashimi once the raw fish had been sliced. She had pricked her finger on one of the sharp thorns, giving tribute to Keikyoku, the Bara Oni. This assured her that the kabosu she picked were the ripest.

Fox was eager to feast on the masu, the Kingfish, that his Kitsune-Mochi had bartered for.  Fox smiled at the memory of that very morning.

Hungry, as always, Fox had persuaded Chiyoko for something other than salmon. Coming to the small fishing village, his Kitsune-Mochi found a fisherman unloading a catch of fresh Sea Trout. Having no money to purchase it, she did as Kamehameha the fisherman had begged, divining that his first two sons were not really his. Fox had laughed and laughed at this, reveling in the sharpness of the fisherman’s intake of breath, and the tears that formed in his eyes. Chiyoko chided him for this behavior as they left the beach.

“He was sad. He loved his wife and children so much, Fox. To find out he was betrayed..aie.”

“Obviously,” Fox said, swishing his tail,”he could not have been so surprised, otherwise why ask at all? Those boys looked nothing like him. His tears were untrue and smelled of self deceit.”

“It is easy to deny what your heart does not want to believe.” Chiyoko stopped walking. “Did you summon Red Helen as I asked?”

Fox smiled and started to groom himself. “Red Helen will meet us at the kabosu plant we passed on the way into the village.”

Red Helen had been true. The Kitsune-Mochi noticed Red Helen forming from the hundred-hundreds of Oni butterflies that surrounded the plant as they approached. Becoming the nude beauty of the Chou Chou Oni.  Chiyoko bowed deeply, the flapping of all those wings creating a current of wind and soft sound. The wind was refreshing. The sound…not so much. It tore into Chiyoko’s mind, sending slivers of thought drifting away faster than she could recapture their moments. Calling on the powers imbued through Fox, Chiyoko righted herself.

“Stop that now!” she commanded of Red Helen. “I am in no mood for your testing me. We have played this out before. Enough.” The sound abated to silence, with only one last cacophonous bleat as the Oni stood fully formed. Fox inwardly was pleased for that last show of defiance. His Kistune-Mochi needed some humbling.

Chide me, will you?” he thought, and planned.

“Tell me what you want, O powerful Kitsune-Mochi,” the words from Red Helen flew about. “I have other places to be.”

Chiyoko sighed but continued the meal preparation.  “There is a woman in that village-there,” she pointed, “who has been unfaithful, a deceiver and hurtful to the man who loved her. I have seen into his heart, and besides being a simple soul, there is no reason to have been so betrayed. I did not tell him that although she bore two to other men, her legs have parted for many, many more. I answered only of what he asked.”

“This woman’s name?” asked Red Helen.

“Rin, wife of Kamehameha the fisherman.”

The Chou Chou Oni broke apart into a hundred-hundred Swallowtails, it’s white patched wings tinged in red. The sound of flapping died down quickly, leaving Chiyoko to finish the sashimi and serve Fox and herself. They ate in silence, until the many voiced screams came to their ears.

Chiyoko dropped her meal and ran towards the village. Fox did not follow until he finished eating (and devouring his Witch’s portion as well, feeling a truly great meal of Masu should not go to waste). He crested the ridge that slightly hid the village as it wandered down to the sea and sat back on his haunch, taking in the sights before him.

The ground of the small fishing community was littered with the shredded bodies of men and women. 128 in all lay dead, or dying, as Red Helen, en masse, sliced through them, taking in their souls as they died. The red tinged wings became a deeper red.

“No! NO! NONONO!” screamed Chiyoko. The Red Helen laughed a hundred-hundred laughs in response.

The backdrop of crying and anguish surrounded the Kitsune-Mochi as Red Helen formed again, taking a stance too close for Chiyoko’s comfort. Glaring into the witch’s eyes, Red Helen smiled a blood smile.

“Rin was not the only who deceived and hurt in their lust, known or unknown, in this ‘lovely’ little squat. I just saved YOU the trouble of calling upon me again. Thank you for all the delicious souls,” Red Helen bowed her head.

Floating over to stand even closer to Chiyoko, the Chou Chou Oni lowered her voice. “We are done, you and I. Call upon me again, and there will be one soul I will be more than happy to feast on.” With that, an explosion of wings passed around, and Red Helen was gone.

Fox sauntered up to find Chiyoko sitting on the ground. He had passed the fisherman standing amidst what was left of his unfaithful wife and unfaithful friends. Kamehameha was there in body only, hands outstretched in pleading form. Fox chuckled as he saw the empty minded husk. For once, he kept information like this to himself. His Kitsune-Mochi did serve up a truly fine meal, and he was pleased in many ways.

Head bowed, Chiyoko knew Fox approached. “She went too far. She went…too far. Fox,” she said, glaring at him, “we must take action.”

“Against Red Helen? You are madder than normal, witch. I am just one to her hundreds. Forget it. Done is done, and, in truth, you got what you asked for. It just was a larger wish of retribution then you envisioned.”

Chiyoko stood and let the sand on her clothing stay. She stared down at Fox.

“I will not forget this. Done is not done. You say you are one, she is hundreds. You, Fox, are wrong. WE are two, and we are only beginning our journey. Allies await us. Red Helen will regret what she did in my name.” Chiyoko turned away from Fox and went to find the fisherman. She took him by his hand and guided him to his home, where his children, and the ones he brought up as his, waited.

Fox stayed where he was. “You truck with Oni, you get what you deserve, witch!” he thought. He stayed where he was until night fell, and then went off to find his Kitsune-Mochi. After all, it was dinner time.

Part One: The Kitsune-Mochi and Tora Baku

Part Two: He Does Not Dream

Part Three: Kitsune-Mochi and The Bara Oni

Part Four: She Unfolds


Cream Puffs and Harleys

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Cara straddled the tricked out Fat Boy Harley, adjusted the helmet over her curly brunette locks, and put her arms around Thomas. The engine charged the air with it’s power as he brought it to life. Thomas leaned back into her as they took off, and Cara gave one last look at their Thursday night hang out. It had been hours of drinking, eating, dancing, showing off. There were a lot of people milling around: bikers, families, singles and daters. Cara was happy. Everything was cool tonight.

It had been a good night. She hadn’t seen Thom in a few months. They’d both been so busy and their timing just never seemed to be right. Going out on a weekday night, and late too, wasn’t ideal in her mind, but (1) it was his birthday and (2) she needed to just get out and have some fun.

Cara nestled closer to Thom as he took the streets of Manhattan, dodging pot holes and cars who seemed not to care if they were in an accident or not. She thought back on the evening, him being early, picking her up, telling her she looked beautiful, a nice soft kiss…no slobbering. Nice.

Before they even got on their way he made her laugh, going off on one of his wild tangent stories. Seems there was a woman who, from the back, looked like her. That wild curly brunette hair, great build (his words), but she was looking in the wrong direction and digging a hole to China in her shoulder bag. He was amused that it took a long time for that woman to finally find what she had been excavating for: the keys to the apartment building.

“She was up, down, stomping around,” he said. “She bent over and was behind the car…”

“…and she had a nice ass?” Cara asked, smiling.

“Didn’t notice. She was behind the car. Maybe she was laying a trap, booby hatching the car, and then would jump over it like a curly headed Ninja.” He smiled, and his eyes lit up with his mischief making.

Thom gave her a big hug, thanked her for going out with him, and they set off.

Now, on the way back to her place, she went over the evening. “I’ve knew this guy as a childhood friend, then nothing for decades, then out of the blue, he finds me. Three times he finds me, we drift apart, he finds me again.” Cara closes her eyes at this, and is enjoying all the sensations of the evening, the ride home, the wind whipping by her, the closeness of her body to his, and she smiles.

They had talked about relationships, kids, parents, dysfunctioning dysfunctional periods of their lives, telling stories, laughing and questions and advice. Part of the evening felt like analysis, deciphering what made them both tick in certain ways…and it was good in that their was a deep level of trust in the sharing. He told a few stories, shared some ideas, and she critiqued and brought things up that made him stop and think. He just said “thank you.” He asked her about her philosophy of spirituality, and there was a concurrence in this as well. The evening had been an ongoing dialogue that just never got boring, it was intriguing and warm, and just plain fun in so many ways.

A thousand things went through her mind. It had been a truly great evening, and there were things she wanted that she wasn’t sure how to say without the evening going for another few hours.

All this mixed inside of her as she enjoyed sailing down the less crowded streets of upper Manhattan. She was tired, and starting to really fade, and the thought of having to get up again in four hours made her wince, but that was OK. This…was OK. It had been a really good night.

In front of her place, they pulled over so the crazy drivers passed them by. Thom and Cara hugged, and they kissed good night, both of them smiling.

“I owe you that dessert for your Birthday, don’t forget it. Can’t believe four and a half hours went by that fast.”

Thom got all serious for a second, just before she turned away. He stopped her by just touching her chin with a finger. “Hey, I know. Cara…I really want to see you again, and soon.” Cara stopped, a flood of thoughts running through her. “Yes, we will,” and she leaned in for a final hug and walked to her building.

A wolf whistle brought her attention back as she got to the door. “Hey, ever been on a date where one hour felt like a week in hell?” he called out to her.

Yes, Carol thought. “Yes.”

“This wasn’t like that at all.” He winked, they played a few seconds of “you hang up first”, and Cara entered the building as Thom drove off home.