Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge: 2017/03/12

Vahit stood in the court, nestled between the buildings. As a child he’d tried to meet everyone. “Hello, I am Vahit. I live there. We are neighbors. I am pleased to meet you.” He had failed, of course. There were so many neighbors. And so many changes from week to week.

He’d learned, this is what life was like in the city. People stacked together in buildings, like sardines in an can. The same sardines you saw in the market, in the cans, that no one cared about. Tiny little dead fish. No one cared if they’d had families. No one cared if they’d had dreams. They were just dead fish, to be eaten by people like himself. People with no money, who lived in sardine cans, and dreamed of one day owning a car, a home, and a yard.

It was a lie, he knew that. He’d lived in the same sardine can for twenty-three years. He’d played the game, go to school, get an education, learn to read, to write. Learn math, and science, and a trade. Learn how to make a living. How to get paid. Learn skills, so you could one day find a woman, marry her, take care of her, and raise a family of your own.

It was how his mother had taught him to live. How her mother had taught her before Vahit even existed.

It was a lie.

Vahit knew he’d never leave his sardine can. He’d live there his whole life. He’d die there one day. And no one would mourn his passing. Another tiny, dead fish, in an ocean of tiny, dead fish. They would notice when the odor became strong enough. Then, dispose of his rotting body, and clean his part of the sardine can up. And find another sardine to put in his place.

It was the way of life. Meaningless. Pointless. An endless game of screaming into the void, “I am someone! I matter! Look at me!” One voice of millions, screaming the same thing, endlessly. And if one of those voices fell silent, what did it matter? Did anyone notice? Did anyone care?

Vahit had placed flowers outside the door of Sevda’s part of the sardine can every day for a week after Sevda died. No one noticed. No one spoke to him of Sevda. She with the soft, golden hair Vahit used to touch. She of the smooth skin that calmed him so much.

Sevda had gone, and except for Vahit, no one noticed. And on the seventh day after Vahit had found her dead body, cold as ice, on the mat she’d always slept on in the corner of her room, new sardines had filled in that space. They’d taken the flowers he’d left by the door, and thrown them out.

As if Sevda was no one. As if she’d never been.

No one greeted the new sardines. No one spoke to them. A man, a woman, and a little boy. They were just more sardines, living in a can. Waiting to die.

Vahit looked up at where the sky had once been. There was nothing there to see. Only light. Only the life of the city.

The sky was gone.

Vahit wondered as he stared at the white sky what it was like to be alive. He wondered too, if anyone, anywhere, any longer knew.


Miranda Kate has started a weekly short fiction challenge. You can read about it here. I’ve decided to write when I can. Please, go read her short tale this week, and any others that show up.

Mark.

L is for…

If love is the way,
I find myself wondering
Why do we have wars?

If life is priceless,
Why do we let people die
While we keep our cash?

If love is the way,
Why are there homeless people
Dieing on our streets?

Is there liberty
When we bully and abuse
Those who aren’t like us?

If love is the way,
Why do we jail people who
Steal food when starving?


I know, I know. It’s April 16th. I was out of town on the 14th and 15th, so I’m trying to catch up. With that in mind, here’s all I came up with for the letter L for the 2015 A to Z Challenge. This is the 12th of 26 pieces I’m writing in April. Next up is M.

#MWBB Week 2.42 – Ishq Love and the Veil

It would be sunrise in twenty minutes. It was time to set up my tent and prepare for another day of survival in a virtual oven. I dropped my backpack, pulled out my tiny tent, an a-frame tent, with lightweight aluminum poles, not fiberglass. The aluminum worked better for me. Made the tent easier to set up.

After my tent was ready, I grabbed my camera from the pack, then tossed the pack in the tent, sleeping bag and all. Soon, I’d have to hide inside for what would feel like endless hours. I adjusted the rain fly to block as much sand as possible. I knew it would be as much as twenty degrees cooler in the tent than outside.

It was day six of ten. I’d planned my trip for a year. A year of physical torture, walking miles in the heat of summer, learning to find water where I could, learning to set up water capture netting. Learning to eat what I could find. How to live off the desert. I’d even had to spend three days and nights in Death Valley solo to earn the right for my trip.

I walked along the netting. I’d set it up at the first sign of fog. You can taste the water in the air. I threw the netting up, and prayed I’d catch enough water to fill a glass or two. Enough to get through the next day.

I’d reversed the entire schedule. Walk at night, hide in the tent during the day. During the night I needed less water. At night it was cold as hell, but in a jacket, hauling 50 pounds of gear, I burned enough energy the cold didn’t bother me so much. And it certainly beat walking beneath a sun that could fry an egg in minutes on sand that could melt car tires.

Yeah. I know. “Why would anyone want to cross the desert?” You ask, ‘cause you ain’t me. You don’t know what I go through, working five days a week, in a job that’s trying to kill my soul. You don’t know what it’s like when you can’t say what you feel, what you think, because what you feel and think are wrong, and you’ll get told again, “You can’t be that way.” Or, “That’s wrong! You’re wrong!”

Daily life kills me. One bit at a time. One thread at a time, my rope frays away. Until I have no choice and have to escape. I have to escape everything. Phones. Radios. TV. News papers. The internet. The civilized world we’ve made. I have to escape it all.

This year, I escaped to the desert. Where no one could reach me. No one could tell me what to feel. What to think. How to live. In the desert, I was alone. All the voices that haunted me every day were gone. All the rights and wrongs were gone. All the good and evil, gone. All that mattered was survival. All that mattered was my next breath, my next heartbeat, my next swallow of water, my next meal. All the lies, the myths, the artificial things made by mortal men, fell away. The veil of civilization was cast aside.

And I was free.

And I was alive.

Once I knew the net was right, and was collecting what water it could from the ground fog, I turned Eastward, and waited. Soon, the sun would rise. And the colors of the world would come to life once more. The black sky, and black sand would light up with color. Golds, reds, oranges, pinks, yellows. High, thin, wispy, pink and orange cirrus clouds painted against a pale pink sky.

It was stunning. Just like life, without that veil we hide it behind.

628 Words
@LurchMunster


This is my entry for Year 2, Week 42 (Week 2.42) of Jeff Tsuruoka‘s Mid-Week Blues-Buster flash fiction challenge. This week the prompt is the song, “Ishq Love and the Veil” by Niyaz. Please, go read the other stories in the challenge.

#FlashFriday – Vol 2 – 36 : The Emissary

Jacob watched the lightning light up the sky as the thunder rocked the canyon walls. He knew the river raged along the canyon floor and once more stripped his wife’s flower garden from the ground.

The Embassy cut into the rock of the canyon wall. The only access was by air, to the small helipad a hundred feet above him. It was one of the concessions the Dragons had made with people, to save the human race, and all life on the planet.

Briefly, the thunders voice became more of a roar. He knew the Dragon emissary was near. His eyes spotted the black dragon as it drifted effortlessly through the dangerous air currents the storm caused. The Dragon effortlessly landed on the balcony. “Greetings, Jacob.”

“Greetings.”

“I am afraid, my friend, your spouse will have to replant her garden.”

“Indeed,” Jacob smiled, “Let’s walk.” It was time for the weekly meeting between Dragon and man to begin.

158 Words
@LurchMunster


I wrote this for Volume 2  Week 36 (Vol 2 – 36) of FlashFriday! Please, go read all the creatively shared stories in this week’s challenge.


#Horror Bites 3 : The Mirror Spoke

I watched the adjacent train tracks moving past the window, then watched her translucent reflection the glass.

I knew the other track wasn’t moving, rather, the train we were on was moving. But since we were stationary on the train, our movement created the illusion of the world moving past train’s windows.

Everything changes, depending on how you look at it, how you choose to understand it.

She kept watching the world go past, as I kept watching her reflection in the glass. But as time passed, her reflection started watching me. Then, it began to speak.

“Why?”

I know I didn’t speak, but I heard my answer anyway, “Why what?”

“Why doesn’t it end?”

“What doesn’t end?”

“This dream.”

“Dream?”

She began to cry. I saw the tears fall from her eyes. “This nightmare.” She brushed tears from her eyes, “This life.”

Through her tears she whispered, “I killed them. To spare them. To save them. From life.”

I couldn’t look away from the darkness, the longing, and the pain in her reflections eyes, as it looked at me. The reflection reached from the glass, her fingertips brushed my cheek. “But there is no one to spare me. To save me. From life.” I felt her desperate longing to be free, and knew I would help her any way I could.

Those translucent hands moved my hands to the woman’s neck. Those pleading eyes. Those tears. “Will you save me from life?”

I had to do what she had asked. And my hands squeezed tightly around her throat, and stayed there, until she no longer breathed. Her reflection smiled as it faded away. “Thank you,” her eyes came alive, “for saving me.”

“Your welcome,” I whispered as I removed my hands from her neck. “Now, you are free.”

299 Words
@LurchMunster


I wrote this for the third round of Laura James‘s new flash fiction challenge, #HorrorBites. Please go read all the other #HorrorBites stories. They are well written, and just might scare you.

#FTT 11 : Breathe

I waited, trembling, for them to call my name. After what I’d done, I knew they would. I felt the sweat on the backs of my knees as I stared at my hands, watching them vibrate like tuning forks. “Breathe.” I forced myself to inhale deeply. “Just breathe.” I exhaled. “Fear is just a feeling. Nothing more.”

Thoughts raced through my mind as it created one scenario after another, one punishment after another. They could put me outside the shield where I’d eventually be crushed by the weight of the ocean as my body armor gradually failed. I could be sent on a suicide mission in Challenger Deep, fight the Kraken. No one ever returned from that. There was always the coliseum where I’d fight, as a gladiator, until I lost a fight, and died, as a gladiator. Gladiators were undefeated and alive, or defeated and dead. There was nothing else.

“Breathe,” I told myself. “You have no way of knowing that which has not happened yet. All you have is fear of the unknown.” I inhaled deeply, and slowly exhaled. I knew my thoughts were only expressions of my fear. “Fear is just a feeling. Nothing more.”

But there are times fear is a very powerful feeling.

As I waited, I reviewed the events of the past few hours that had led me to this point. How I’d found Bakula, tied to her bed, her hands and feet bound to the bed posts. Naked. A gash in her chest where her heart had been. Her blood soaked the sheets. Sacrificed by one of the religions. It happened all the time. To men, and women.

Bakula had been my mate. To find her with her heart cut out, and gone was too much. I pulled on my armor, pulled my swords from the wall, and did what only a fool would do. I hunted down those that sacrificed my love. Tradition be damned. Religion be damned. Rules be damned. Laws be damned.

They’d taken my love, my life, from me. I took theirs from them.

Bakula was a member of the sect of the Kraken. It was the season of prayer for protection from the monster of the deep. The season always started with the sacrifice of a member. No one volunteered. The Priest of the Kraken controlled the sacrifice. He chose the victim. He’d chosen Bakula.

I’d left a trail of blood behind me as I carved a path through his house guards, to his sanctuary. I’d extracted my vengeance, taking his heart for hers.

Justice was mine. Vengeance was mine.

But the past was past, and I could not undo it. Even if I could, I would not. I would answer when called. I would face what the future held for me. Knowing on the other side of my future, I would be reunited with my love. My Bakula. She who waited for me beyond the veil of life.

491 Words
@LurchMunster


I wrote this for Week 11 of Alissa Leonard‘s Finish That Thought. Please, go read all the creatively shared stories in this week’s challenge.

#MWBB 29 : Stay

It broke my heart
To answer you today,
When you asked me,
Please,
Stay.

You asked me to stay with you.
To hold your hand.
To walk with you
Out on the sand
Down by the water’s edge.

“Stay with me,
Please”
You asked.
“Wrap your arms around me
As we watch the sunrise.
And then kiss me again.
And again.”

“Stay with me,
Please”
You asked.
“Hold me when the sun sets.
And then all through the night.”

But I could not stay.

“Stay with me,
Please”
You begged.
You pleaded.
“We can walk through the roses,
Hand in hand.
And spend hours on end
Watching the butterflies
Again.”

My heart ached
As you spoke those words.
If only I could
Spend time with you.
Sitting on the sand at sunrise.
As the sun
Brings the colors of the world
Back to life once more.

If only I could
Kiss your lips
As the ocean waves
Played their songs of life
Once more.

“Stay with me,
Please”
You whispered,
As your fears
brought tears
To your eyes so blue.

You should know.
I love you.
I really do.

But I cannot stay with you.

Both our hearts know
This is true.
Although someday
I may find a way
To return.

Right now
I cannot stay.
For I would be in the way.
I would halt the flow of time.
So you could never change.
And never grow.
And never learn to walk
On your own.

For I know the truth.
I know why you asked.
You pleaded.
You begged.

I know
You are afraid
To be alone.
You are afraid
Of you.

If I stayed
You would use me
As a crutch.
You would put me
In your heart.
Where you need to be.

You would look into the mirror
When you wake up
Every day.
And see me looking back
At you.

You would do everything
I wanted to.
And love every minute of it.
Because you wouldn’t
Have to live
With you.

You would never learn
To see your own eyes
In the mirror.
Stare into their
Clear,
Strong
Blue.

You would never take the time
To stand out on the sand,
Down by the water’s edge.
And listen to the songs
The ocean sings to you.
Watch the world prepare
For its healing rest
As the sun fell from the sky.
Feel the world
Come back to life
As the sun restores
All the color
Painted over by the night.

You would hold my hand
So you would never get the chance
To feel the breeze
Flow between your fingers,
And across your palms.
And your fingertips
Would never feel the texture
Of the sand
On which you stand.

And you would never see
The beauty of the roses
Of the butterflies.
Because you would see me.
Keeping you company.
So you wouldn’t be alone.

If I were to stay
You would never get the chance
To meet yourself.
To be alone.
And learn to see you
As I do.

If I were to stay
You would never learn
Why I love you so.

That is why
I cannot stay.

That is why
I have to go.

533 Words
@LurchMunster


This is my entry for week 98 of Jeff Tsuruoka‘s Mid-Week Blues-Buster flash fiction challenge. Please, go read the other entries in the challenge.

#ThursThreads Week 82 : That Wasn’t Really The Worst Part

“You’re still finding your way, aren’t you?”

I laughed. That question was all Shelly.

“Tom, I’m serious.”

I made a point of looking into her soft, green eyes, so she’d understand I was paying attention to her. “Yes.”

“A normal person would have gone back to work by now.”

I shook my head. “I’m not normal. You know that.”

“But you had a good job. You were successful. You were part of society.”

I knew she felt I’d come apart. Collapsed. Fallen to pieces. What happened to me made her sad. I knew she didn’t understand the life journey I was on. I knew she never would.

All I could do was smile.

She pulled her hair back over her shoulders. She did that when she tried to think through something.

“I can’t return to the world that nearly killed me.”

“Then find another job. Don’t let your skills go to waste.” Her eyes had that look people give each other when they know what they’re talking about. I know those looks exist. But I don’t know what they mean. “It’s like you’ve given up.”

I wanted to tell her I hadn’t given up. I’d awakened. Come alive. Stepped beyond the walls of the life she lived in. Walls she couldn’t even see. And that wasn’t really the worst of it. The worst was she believed I no longer cared.

“I will.”

“When?”

“When I find what I’m looking for.”

240 Words
@LurchMunster


I wrote this for Siobhan Muir‘s #ThursThreads, Week 82. Please go read all the entries in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are good reading.

Remember The Magic

I wrote these words last night, after I got home. I wrote them for a friend. The math told me I needed to share these words with her. And being who I am, I did. She wrote back, a brief little note, and said I should share these words with everyone.

Well, this afternoon, I just got home. And the math told me second friend could use a note from me. So, I’m sharing what I wrote last night. I’ve modified it as little as possible to keep names out of it. Otherwise, this is what I shared with a wounded friend last night.

Just because that’s what’s friends do in the world that ought to be.

Mark.


IMG_2796Oh, dear.

My friend. You make me wish I could give you a big hug, and take you on a long outing at the Botanical Garden. I’d do it. In a heartbeat.

I am not “physically” disabled. I have a 100% functional body. I can walk most people into the ground. Even at my age. I can hold a camera still long enough to take pictures at 35X optical zoom without a tripod. I can mow my own lawn. I can stand on my feet all day at Geek Squad.

I am, however, “disabled.” There are parts of life I simply don’t understand. I’ve told my doc, it’s like I’m deaf. It’s like I can’t hear that part of life that is “social”. I’ve explained to people, “It’s not that I do anything special. It’s not that I’m caring. Or tender. Or any of that stuff. It’s that I don’t have the social constraints most people have. So, for me, it’s all “math”. It’s all observation, and appropriate response. If I’m hurting, don’t I want attention, and help? Or at least someone to say, “I know.” So if someone I see is hurting, what’s the appropriate thing for me to do?”

And somehow, this gets people to call me, “caring, kind, and tender-hearted.”

I’ve told my Doc, “Isn’t this how things are supposed to be?”

So, when I see you write about how you are still getting used to your disabilities, and the reality that you can’t do certain things, my heart tells me I should take time, and say, “Hi!” and make sure you’re OK.

I have never, in this life, been understood. I’m married to a wonderful lady. I’ll never change that. I love her too much. But there are many “features” of me she does not understand. In her words, “I’ve grown used to them.”

One thing I’ve learned in the past 3 years. One truth that’s been hammered into me over, and over, and over.

People are blind to life. They are. Every morning, driving to work, they don’t see the flowers growing by the side of the road. They don’t see the clouds in the sky, or the way the sun reflects off of them. They don’t see the rays of sunlight shining through the clouds. They don’t see the birds flying just above the trees. They don’t see that occasional deer in the field.

They are blind. They don’t see the gifts we are all given, every day. Every day.

They never stop, walking across the parking lot at work, to feel the breeze flowing through their fingers. To feel the sun on their faces. To hear the birds singing, or the leaves of the trees rustling as the breeze passes through them.

They are blind.

They never walk through the flowers of the Botanical Garden. Without time constraints. Taking however long it takes. They don’t stop, and watch the butterflies. They never watch the bees moving from one flower to the next, pollinating the trees. They never watch the ducks, or geese, as they lazily swim around on the lakes.

They are blind.

Did you know, if you really try, if you sit quietly, close your eyes, and just listen, and you keep listening long enough, you can hear yourself breathe. I do that all the time. Did you know, if you practice, and you learn to listen to the things your body tells you, you can feel your own pulse. Your own heartbeat.

I know these things. I see them every day. I know the magic that is life. The magic of watching a 5-year-old cat sleep on your lap. Of watching the clouds as they slowly move, and change, in the sky. Of watching the neighbors dog chase a butterfly, not wanting to catch it, or kill it. Just wanting to chase it, and play with it. Of watching a wild rabbit carefully pick the best weeds growing in the yard, and eat them. Of watching a baby bunny grow through summer, becoming a rabbit able to survive on its own. Of watching a momma duck lead her tiny little ducklings to a lake.

I know the magic of seeing Camellia trees in full bloom in January, in the snow. When people tell me, “It’s cold. And there’s nothing out there to see.”

I know the magic of stretching out on my sofa, with the window curtains pulled aside, and the sun shining through them, on to me. Of taking a nap in that sunshine.

The magic is there. Every day. All I have to do is stop. And look. I don’t have to look for it. All I have to do is look around. It’s there. Everywhere.

People are blind. They can’t see that. They don’t know the magic’s there. They think I’m crazy. Or strange. Or broken in some way.

I’m not.

If I were there, I’d give you a great big hug. Then, even if I had to sit you in a wheelchair, and carry a 2 liter bottle of water with me, I’d take you on a long walk through the roses, the butterflies, and the flower gardens at the botanical garden. I’d stop any time you wanted. I’d let you look all you wanted. I’d let you feel the sun. The breeze.

I’d just appreciate the gift you are, my friend.

We are all different. We are all unique.

Smile, you. That’s the greatest gift of all. The gift of a smile.

#MWBB 20 : Home

I left her. I got up that Monday morning, and got ready for work, like I had for years. I left the house precisely at 0715 hours, like I had on Mondays for years. But I didn’t drive to work. I drove. I left town, and I kept driving, heading west. I drove all day long, stopping only for food and restroom breaks.

I left her. I left my job. I left my home. I left my life. I had to.

As I drove, I remembered my parents, growing up in their home. I’d never known they were in love. They always screamed at each other. Night after endless night. I used to lie awake at night, listening to the front door slam as Dad left. Listening to Mother cry. Listening to the silence when she finally fell asleep on the sofa, Listening to the front door open as Dad got home, just before dawn. Listening to him stagger through the house to the bathroom, where he threw up again, from drinking himself sick.

As I drove, I remembered the night Mom stayed awake until he got home. He was drunk, of course. She screamed at him. He screamed back at her. They fought. I remember seeing the bruises on both of them at breakfast that morning.

As I drove, I remembered my brother’s wedding, how he and Tabitha had been so happy. I remembered how proud he was of his baby girl. How he got sick at work one day, heaving his guts into the toilet. How they sent him home that day, and he walked into his own home, where Tabitha was naked, sitting on a naked man he’d never seen, her legs straddling him, as she softly moaned.

As I drove, I remembered the niece I had once. How my brother covered her head with a pillow, suffocating her, then went to the garage of his home, locked the door, got in his car, and turned it on. How they found him the next day, cold as ice, with the car still running.

As I drove, I remembered the woman I loved so passionately. How she always wanted more. More of everything. How I had to stay in that job I hated, to keep buying her the things she wanted. How she never slept with me any more, or even slept in the same room as me any more. How she always went out at night, “with the girls”. How I wondered if who she was sleeping with.

As I drove, I remembered how she’d once been beautiful. How her smile faded away with time, being replaced by empty eyes, and lines of age on her face. How he figure changed from a beautiful hourglass to a pear. We used to hold hands, years ago. I wondered when that stopped. She used to kiss me good morning, and fix me breakfast. That too faded, until she never stirred when I woke to go to work, and breakfast became a can of soda, and a bowl of cold cereal with milk.

As i drove, I remembered how I’d once been in love with her. How that love had grown cold and died. Like the love my Mom and Dad once had. I knew that’s why people started homes. They were in love. And thought they always would be.

I left her on a Monday morning, while she was still asleep, and I was heading to work.

Because I remembered homes become cold, and lifeless, and slowly kill the people living in them. And I knew the only thing I could do for her, and for me, was leave. And in so doing, free us both from the trap our home had become.

624 Words
@LurchMunster


My entry, in all its unedited glory, for week 20 of Jeff Tsuruoka‘s Mid-Week Blues-Buster flash fiction challenge. Please, go read the other entries in the challenge.