Thousands Are Sailing

OK Friday Fictioneers. I know that by the mere fact that I’m “mashing” these two prompts together, I’m foregoing any publishing possibilities. But still I felt strongly enough that you should all know of Red’s “Flash In The Pan” series, as I see this as a worthwhile endeavor, deserving of your unbridled talent. That being said, here’s my response to both Flash In The Pan‘s “Regress” prompt, as well as this week’s Fictioneer photo:

Copyright – Jan Wayne Fields

Copyright – Jan Wayne Fields

Disdain.

He couldn’t quite explain it, but disdain was exactly what his mouth tasted at that very moment.

The dull roar of clamoring footsteps, in slow regress through the main hall, made him simply want to scream while listening inattentively to the thick accent standing before him. It muttered under muddy breath, “Von Stoffen.”

“Von-wha?”

“Von STOW-FENN.”

What in the hell sort of name was that? Stupid krauts. Every last one ‘em would be looking for a handout. He knew it.

Scribbling hurriedly on the form, he barked dismissively, “Well now you’re ‘Stover.’ NEXT!”

Disdain. Yep, he could taste it.

•••

Welcome to “Flash in the Pan”

Welcome to “Flash in the Pan”

PS: My thanks to you both, Red and Rochelle, as any excuse to use The Pogues for my song of the day, is a worthy excuse indeed ;)

691 Words Plus A Sentence.

I’m uncertain as to whether I am understanding, and as a result, responding accordingly to a recent Daily Post prompt. But in all honesty, they never pay me any attention over there anyway. So I suppose that it doesn’t matter if I’m spot-on, or off-target to the point of looking much like Mr. Magoo shooting a potato gun backwards into a wind tunnel.

Yeah, you’re trying to envision that now, aren’t ya?

I DO however, know that I’m well within stated regs in regards to Master Class 2013, and I’m also certain that the Professor pays attention to me over there. So much so, that it behooves me to regularly ensure that all my “i’s” are crossed and my “t’s” dotted, before publishing.

Having now done so, following is my response to both prompts. As always, please play along, and also as always, I hope you enjoy!

Copyright: Robert Hunt

Copyright: Robert Hunt

It was only a duck pond, at the back of the farm.

But it hadn’t always been that way, no. It had started its life as a crater; blown out of the earth from a shell that had hoped to slam itself noisily into the building that actually stood several hundred feet from where the missile eventually took root instead.

As these things go, the crater was quickly made useful as it filled with soldiers, huddled together in a cold, wet, quivering mass; all in the hopes that their proximity to each other, combined with their quasi-concealment, would somehow prevent them from taking similar shots – from much smaller, yet equally deadly shells – to their own bodies.

As the scout furtively raised his head over the brim to see if they were alone, the round that blasted arrogantly through his skull quickly provided both him and his comrades with dramatic evidence of the answer that they were hoping to not receive.

Leonard wanted to vomit as Scout’s blood and brain sprayed across the pit, covering the other soldiers faces and mouths. But he found that he’d no more substance to expel, and even less energy required to carry through with the exercise anyway. In fact, he’d done so so often, that Leonard could honestly not see where he should ever need to vomit another day in his entire life, once he got out of this unholy mess.

If he got out of this unholy mess.

“Martin…”

“Yes Lenny?”

“Do you… well, do you ever wish that it was over?”

“The war? Of course I do, you dolt!”

“No, no. Not the war, Marty. Everything.”

“Everything? You mean like, the world, the universe, time itself? What are you doing mate? Going all philosophical, at the very moment Jerry is trying to blow our fool heads off?”

“Well, we might not have any other time to do so, you see…”

“Blimey! We’re trying to get our arses out of here! Not start a debate with the High Lord Above and His Boy over the meaning of life. The ‘meaning of life…’ there is no meaning to it at all, if we can’t get out of here with it still in our pockets!”

Leonard knew that his chum was right of course, and as the clamor of explosions protested closely overhead, he realized once again how true it was, that the next serving of splashing brains could be his to provide, if he found himself unable to get his head out of the damned clouds.

But still. How he wished that it were all over. Over and done, and everyone assigned to their new and eternal dwelling places. Of course, there was still that certain fear that his would be the dwelling place less desired. But war had an odd way of making a man fear hell less than heaven, as it is common to fear the thing you don’t know, over the thing you do.

Leonard’s reflective fog dissipated abruptly as Marty roughly jostled his shoulder while shouting, “Oi! Time to go laddy!”

Taking a fools gamble on a sudden lull in the general chaos, the band of men rose haphazardly from the shell-blown trench, only to be met by an unexpected and fresh swarm of projectiles, buzzing through them in a newly formed river of red, like a metallic wind hell-bent on creating of itself a tornado. Leonard wasn’t the first to fall, but by the time the round that would pierce him did, he’d seen enough of his comrades crumble as to make him aware that this very day he could well be seeing the High Lord Above’s Boy in person. As he lay in the bottom of the crater, his blood pumping ever efficiently through the two new gaping holes torn through his neck, he murkily realized that he had received his wish after all. If nothing else, it really was all over now. Just the Reckoning left, he reckoned, and then he could call it a day forever more. As the blood continued to burble out, he inexplicably smelt the pungent odor of pond water permeating his dying nostrils, while swearing to himself that he could hear the faint murmur of approaching ducks…

•••

From Master Class: “Tara of Thin Spiral Notebook… was asked (some time ago, honestly) to choose the assignment for the next class. I gave her no specific instructions, and she chose…” from Neil Gaiman’s “The Ocean At The End Of The Lane.”

Briefly…

Oh daddy, you soooo can NOT dance.

‘Ey mate. Nice dancin’ out there.

Yes I can, sweetheart.

Hey, thanks.

Umm, no. No you cannot.

‘Ad the girls really goin’!

But check out my…

Yeah, right…

Don’t you even!

No, really! Kept it lively, fun.

You do know, it was I who taught you how to dance.

You can only attack life in joy, or as a chore, right? I chose the former.

Well maybe, but that was a long time ago!

Well it was great.

And…?

I had fun, thanks.

And you’re too old now!

Neva’ too old not too, right?

•••

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Two separate conversations, intertwined. The first between my daughter and me, the second between Australian pop star Cody Simpson and the self same me again.

While the first chat could happen on almost any given occasion, its counterpart resulted from my recent need of part time employment to supplement my income (or as I like to call it, “Career, Pt. 2”). This brought me in contact with Mr. Simpson, as the soul barrier between him and 500 screaming ‘tweens – armed only with safety scissors and a smile. My control of these jibbering masses, through dancing about and joking with them, was noticed and remarked upon by Cody and his handlers, and it was their comments in general that formed the (mostly) fictional chat I had with him above.

Fortunately for some (and sadly for others I suppose), Deb did not choose any Cody tunes for the 100 Word Song prompt this week (click the link! Play along!), so we’ll be listening to One Republic’s “Counting Stars” instead.

Peace. Rest in it, Mr. Elmore Leonard.

Briefly…

I know Leeroy, I know – you hate me now, and maybe you’ve even forgotten who in the hell I am, as it’s been so long since I played along. Look, things have been a little weird lately, OK?

And speaking of weird, when someone as delightful and awesome as Jen picks something as delightfully weird as The Flaming Lips for the prompt, how can I NOT throw in my dime this time?

So, here’s my head-full-of-fluff-and-other-things take on this week’s 100 Word Song...

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Like Godzilla triumphant, with each blow either he became weaker, or she became stronger.

None too sure which was truer, it was a fact that his barbed-wire lips had dulled to the point where the words that escaped them now simply tugged on her soul, versus ripping it to pained shreds.

Odd how it occurred… the realization that the one who wrote the script, set the scene and assigned the marks, could no longer control all the actors upon the stage.

Like Yoshimi victorious, she rose to the challenge, and in the final scene, found that she’d held the day.

•••

This is dedicated to my dear sister Renee. Another Yoshimi, who likewise is poised to in short order, arise victorious.

100 Words Plus A Sentence… & Some Bubblemen To Boot

I love Professor SAM. In part because we talk about things outside of class like tattoo designs. I love her, and not just in an effort to snag a 4.0 for the semester. I love Professor SAM, and would invite you all to play along with her thought-provoking Master Class prompt. Think writing 100 words or so about a picture is challenging? Try making someone else’s words your own, without a hiccup in your story, and see if you’re not hooked almost immediately!

That said, here’s this week’s Master Class 2013 and Friday Fictioneers mash-up.

And no, I’ve no earthly idea how it was that these two prompts seemed like such a natural fit to me…

Copyright - Jennifer Pendergast

Copyright – Jennifer Pendergast

Such big, beautiful eyes!

Such a full body!

Such sweet sin awaiting, should she take notice of me.

Mmmm, the way those wings shimmer…

I make my way over.

Cautiously, as not to frighten, “Ummm, hello…?”

A question or a statement? Don’t be a fool – make your play, man!

HELLO!!!

Too much. Still, she smiles while looking over.

I sense the stirrings, faint but unmistakable, of an afternoon delight.

Slowly she swivels closer.

Closer still.

Close enough to realize that I’m not “like” her. No, not enough.

Watching her hurriedly fly off, my pride’s stung as I wonder – when will this ridiculous belief that bee can’t hive with wasp ever be squashed?

•••

This week’s sentence prompt came from page 55 of the 5th book in on my shelf (it’s a church pew actually), 5th line down: Jean Shepherd’s “A Christmas Story.” And while not exactly in keeping with the motif of the remainder of the post, I’m ending today with the song below, partially because I couldn’t find “Waspy” by The Bolshoi, and partially because – quite honestly – when will I ever even come this close to having a tie-in for it again?

Forever?

The one thing they never told me, see, was that living forever is NOT the same thing as being forever young.

Yeah, that vampire-esque fairy tale of eternal youth and adventure, well it’s all crap. You may *live* forever, but that doesn’t stop you from aging. No. And you’ll be there for the final curtain, all well and good. But you’ll be a bag of bones by then, unable to even applaud, as He makes every last actor on the stage take their bows.

Shoulda read the fine print on that one, I suppose. Stupid-ass demons snowed me, man.

So yeah, now I’m stuck here. In the shadows. Forever. Oh, I know everything, and I could change the world with all the knowledge I’ve got. Stuff that multiple lifetimes of experience have taught me. But instead, I’m a monster. A freak. A side-show gem. I sound like a crazed old man fresh outta meds, and look even worse. Like hell. I think there was a reason Jesus checked out at 33 – it’s cuz people just don’t trust the elderly, not even a lick.

And that’s what I’m gonna be. Forever.

I know that at some point my body will break. Just like all the rest. Hell, I saw my love die in the same way – I saw my Love die! Do you get that? Do you understand the pain of watching her disintegrate before me? Soon, my body will, well, it’s also gonna crumble under its own weight; just like hers did. But I’ll be present and accounted for, for every last snap, yes sir. And I’ll be breathing afterwards still.

Stupid-ass demons snowed me. I shoulda read the fine print.

So I’m writing this down, see? Just for you. Just in case. Should ever a pretty little thing come along and ask you if you want eternal life, you just look her straight in her devilish fairy tale eyes, and you tell that bitch, “Hell no! Who wants to live forever?”

You tell her that, see? You tell her, and then you just keep on walking. You keep right on walking, and you die happy. For me.OK?

•••

This special “Sunday edition”post is brought to you by the good folks over at Daily Prompt, and by my occasional desire to just “check out.”

Return To Innocence

It was late Spring when the sky first turned gray. An ominous, oppressive gray, with just a smattering of pockets of light. As the months trudged on, every last one of them was slowly blotted out, and by the true beginning of summer, Michael could see only charcoal blackness, sooty and billowesque, whenever he dared to look upward.

The storm never broke, though for months now it had threatened to. The sheets of rain, filled out in triplicate, that Michael so longed to receive in the hopes of conducting the storm through to its end, thus returning the blue sky to his possession, never came. And though the bleak grayness was miles above his head, it pressed down upon his shoulders as if it were a living thing. Softly, Michael closed his eyes, imagining the gate once more.

It was a gate he’d never actually seen before, but one he knew existed. His love had told him about it, a gate of heavy metal, intricately woven and painted with a thick coat of black, the kind of paint that was always shiny, though seldom showed finger prints. It was the gate that entered you into the park, the park that hosted all the loves of the world, and all the lovers too. A place that existed only in the mind and, to those who knew how, the soul as well. Michael wished that his own soul would eventually possess such knowledge, but until then, his imagination was put to task, and performed the bulk of the work in creating this secret place within.

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She was there already of course, puffy pink cotton candy in hand, offering it to him as if she were a child. For in this place, that is exactly what you are. Love cannot be trusted to the adult mind, for it is muddied by selfishness, desire, and ego. Only the child can properly appreciate the finer art of simply loving the person without question or motivation, because of who they are, versus what they can provide you, or what they have done, or what they have failed to do just yet.

Michael smiled to the real world, as his imaginary fingertips brushed against and gently pulled upon the offered treat. Never greedy, he took more than his share this time and, as was his normal habit, tightly rolled it up into a hard sugary rock, before placing it on his tongue. He smiled again, as he felt the sweetness melting in his mouth and slowly dribbling down his throat. She laughed in such a way as to almost make him open his eyes, thus destroying the illusion. At the last moment he caught himself however, instead looking at her with his mind’s eye before asking, “What? Why do you laugh, lover?” Giggling again, she replied, “Why not? To see you eat cotton candy is like watching a man with one arm build a bridge. Have you ever just enjoyed something, without first having to man-handle and control it into an almost totally different existence? Have you ever let be, just be?” Michael frowned slighty, as his immediate reaction was one of hurt. Hurt over the idea that he was already going well out of his way to meet her here in the park he had so diligently created mentally, only to find her “critiquing” something else altogether, instead of complimenting him for his efforts. But while all this played out in his head, in a melee of hurt and bruised ego, his mental voice to her said only, “why do you ask? Was I not enjoying the candy correctly?”

“Lover, you were,” she shook her head enthusiastically, “but only after you had made it into your own image. Only after you had hardened it, squashed the life out of it, made it ‘other’ than what it was intended to be. Darling, the candy was supposed to be light and fluffy, yet you felt for some reason that that was not good enough. Do you realize that by doing so continually throughout your life, you may still experience happiness, but miss out on Joy altogether? Why even here Michael, in this park, what do you see?” “I see banks and banks of greenery and ferns,” Michael retorted, “beautiful and lush and dew-kissed, all surrounded by big, bold and resolute sunflowers.” He said it cautiously, wondering if he had come to the correct conclusion.

Sensing this, her response was measured. “Hmmm, Michael, I really wish you would learn to come here by way of your soul, instead of through your imagination. You did not come up with an incorrect conclusion, lover, but you did create a place that is a mere shadow of the realness that surrounds us. Dear, all that you saw is here, but this is the park that hosts all the loves of the world, and all the lovers too. As such, it is awash with every type and sort of plant, draped with every color of flower. It is carpeted with not only grass, but earthen path and waterway too. Michael, much like Love is, this place has everything, and all of it is free.”

Crestfallen over not being able to see, and after trying so hard, Michael began to slowly open his real eyes, only to stop as he felt her hand tap gently upon his shoulder. The touch was light yet comforting, and it was only in his feeling it that he remembered how he hadn’t felt the pressure of the gray since he had entered here.  She whispered softly, “Michael, I know you are leaving me now. I said something wrong maybe, or your ego is still too bruised to be here with me wholly. Regardless of why, I am sorry. Sorry for you, and for us. Dear, please try to be here in your soul. Please try to find this place through Joy, instead of happiness or want. I’ll be waiting for you here when you do. Until then, here is a kiss…”

A kiss that was never realized, as it was then that Michael’s boss, spying that he had another “goddammed lazy-lack sleeper” on his hands, thwacked Michael soundly back to reality, via the tried and true rolled up newspaper continually found in his hand. “Now git back ta work, ya turd!” was all the encouragement Michael received from him, as his boss stomped back to his office for a well-deserved nap himself.  Listening to him clump noisily off, thwacking others occasionally along the way, Michael slowly rubbed the back of his head where the paper still stung, wondering to himself just which of the two places it was, in which “reality” really existed.

•••

Bloggers note: Posted in response to The Daily Post’s Daily Prompt on Kindness, and resulting wholly from a dear friend offering me a bite of cotton candy, I wonder if I should flesh this out more, or leave it as a stand-alone piece. As always, your thoughts and critiques are requested… and no newspaper thwacks will result from sharing your honest opinion. Promise!