#55WordChallenge : The Fence – Part 17

The old woman smiled. A far younger woman stepped out of her. “I’ll take you to Alice.”

“Who are you?”

“Cynthia. Your grandmother.”

I followed her along a walkway, beside a road. It started to rain as we walked. She pulled an umbrella from her waist and began to run. “Quickly, Flint! The horde comes!”

55 words
@LurchMunster


This is part 17 of the serial story I’m working on for Lisa McCourt Hollar‘s #55WordChallenge flash fiction challenge. Please, go read all the other entries in the challenge this week. It’s flat amazing what gifted writers can say in just 55 words.

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The Kraken

I watched the last fairy die. The US Army hunted her down, trapping her in her home. A pretty, green alcove filled with peonies, bluets, trillium and orchids. The humans set it on fire, leaving her a choice. Die in the fire, or flee. She fled. When she did, the Army opened fire on her. And the last fairy, the last guardian of the forest, died. Brought down by far too many bullets from human guns.

Mother Earth cried in anguish, “They murdered Orchid! They murdered the last fairy!”

I was silent and unmoving on the ocean floor. There was nothing to be done. Nothing to say. We had always known the day would come when the humans murdered Orchid.

“The last guardian of the forests, and the murdered her! Just like they murdered the last mermaid, the last dragon, the last unicorn, the last siren, the last centaur.”

“Indeed, milady. They did.” I knew what she would say, what she would do. The humans had built their economic machine, their society, and become dependent on it. They’d lost their way, becoming encased in their ways, their never-ending need to rule the world, to bend nature to their will. “They’d doomed themselves, and all life.”

Mother Earth cried, tears of rain fell from the sky over the home of the last fairy for weeks. The  blood of the fairy was washed away. I remembered Orchid. For over 1000 years, she’d been the last fairy, the last guardian of the forests. Despite everything the humans had done, Orchid had manage to maintain the fragile balance of nature in the forests through that time. She’d survived 1000 years, alone, after the humans murdered the rest of her kind. She’d worked so hard for those centuries, keeping the forests alive.

Until the humans found her. Until the humans murdered her. Like they’d murdered all the guardians. Like they murdered everything they touched. Without Orchid, the forests would die within two or three decades. No forests would be left, save for the human wildlife parks.

“You are the last, you know.”

“I know, milady. I know.” I was the last guardian. The only guardian the humans had not found, had not hunted down, had not murdered. So long as I lived, the seas would survive. Their balance as fragile as the balance of the forests Orchid had protected for so long. “Remember, milady. Remember your promise.”

I knew she did. She’d given her word to Orchid and me. She would not unleash the plagues until the last guardian was no more. She’d honored that promise for 1000 years. She’d honor it now.

But we both knew the day was coming when the humans and their technology, their machines, would find their way to the bottom of the sea. There, they would find me, the sea monster of their legends. The Kraken.

When they did, Mother Earth would unleash her plagues upon the humans and restore the balance of nature herself.

#SatSunTales 46 : Ultimate Decimation

I walk in the rain each year to remember what happened the day the world changed. The day the DuPont plant exploded in Indonesia and released a chemical solvent that reacted with water vapor into the atmosphere.

The solvent turned water vapor to hydrochloric acid, and more of itself. It only worked on water vapor. Like the clouds.

The world named that day “Ultimate Decimation Day”, the day one in every ten people died. 700,000,000 people. They were the lucky ones.

Billions suffered chemical burns. Rain got in their eyes, burning them. It got in their lungs, scarring them. And thanks to the water cycle, our chemical solvent was slowly replacing all the water on Earth. It was slowly killing the plants and animals.

Bacteria, with their short life cycles, might evolve immunity to the rain. Might. We wouldn’t. Ultimate Decimation Day was the day we all died.

150 Words
@LurchMunster


This is my entry into Rebecca Clare Smith‘s 46th #SatSunTales. Please, go read the other entries. It’s a tough challenge, and brings out some wonderful tales.

#MidWeekBluesBuster – Week 06 : A Rainy Night In Soho

I didn’t live in Soho, and never would. But, it was a rainy night, and I couldn’t help but hear the rain striking the windows to my apartment. It wasn’t a downpour, just a good, steady, soaking rain.

I turned out all the lights, then pulled the curtains aside, so I could look out, over the street. I pushed the ear buds for my music player into my ears, and turned on my music. Wouldn’t you know it. The first song it randomly picked, “A Rainy Night in Soho”. I’m not a fan of that song, and for a moment I considered pushing the next button. Instead, I let the song keep playing.

I looked out the window, watching the rain fall and the black clouds shift around in the sky while that song played. I saw a couple hop out of a cab, him first, opening his umbrella, and helping her out. He paid the fare, and the two of them walked, hand-in-hand, into the building across the street. I don’t know why, but that made me smile. Maybe I was imagining they’d had dinner together, at some expensive restaurant, then returned home for a night that started with betting naked, and went from there. Maybe I was imagining I was him, and when we got to the apartment, I turned on the music, and took her in my arms, and we slow danced, just enjoying the feel of holding each other.

Whatever the reason, I knew it was something I shouldn’t have done, because it made me remember. Her. I sometimes wondered why we have memories. Why we just can’t forget, or erase them, like we can erase files on a computer. “I don’t like that song any more, I’m deleting it.” Or “That book makes me cry, I’m deleting it from my library.” But that’s not how our memories work, is it?

And by the end of that damn song, I remembered how she’d told me, one day, “We will always be friends.”

I’d asked her, “Really?”

She’d smiled, and hugged me. “Yes. Always.”

The next day, she was gone. I woke up, and she’d left during the night. I’d called her number, but got no answer. I’d gone all the places I knew she went, and never found her. She left. And never said, “Good-bye.”

That was two years ago. And that night, watching the rain, watching that couple from the cab, listening to that stupid song, I stood there, looking out my window, and remembered her, and her last words to me. “Yes. Always.”

Sometimes, I wish I could erase my memories of her.

451 Words
@LurchMunster


At the request of Ruth Long, I decided to try my hand at Jeff Tsuruoka‘s Mid-Week Blues-Buster flash fiction challenge. Please, go read the other entries in the challenge.

#VisDare 10 : Whimsy

The rain broke, leaving the sky filled with white clouds. Alice pulled me to my feet, “I want to show you something.” She lead me to a fountain across the courtyard. Snails were climbing all over it. She extended her hand to the snails. Several touched her fingers with their antenna, and I heard her in my head, “I missed you too.”

One snail moved to the edge of the fountain wall. It looked right at me. Alice smiled, “It’s OK. They don’t bite.” So, I imitated her, extending my hand out to the snails. The snail at the edge of the fountain extended his antenna, grazing my fingertip with them, and I heard a new voice in my head, “You’re new here.”

I jerked my hand away, surprised. The snails shook, rattling their shells, and Alice laughed. I heard her voice again, “His name is Taran.”

150 Words
@LurchMunster


This piece is the seventh in a continuing story I’m working through for Angela Goff’s Visual Dare. Please read the other entries in this week’s Visual Dare challenge.

#VisDare 9 : Alone?

The train left the tunnel, running above ground. It stopped at a train station. Alice extended her hand, and smiled, “Please?” I could not resist the light in her eyes, so I took her hand. She led me from the train.

“Welcome to Phoenix,” she gently squeezed my hand.

She laughed when she saw my questioning look. “Phoenix?”

“It’s a story you’ll learn, in time.”

We exited the station into a large courtyard. A tall stone monument stood alone, near the train station. Drops of water fell from the sky. I let go of Alice’s hand, and sat on the base of the monument.

Alice sat down beside me. “You’ve never seen rain, have you?”

“Rain?” I looked up, letting the small drops of water strike my face. “I think I like rain.”

I took her hand, and we sat in the rain.

147 Words
@LurchMunster


This piece is the sixth in a continuing story I’m working through for Angela Goff’s Visual Dare. Please read the other entries in this week’s Visual Dare challenge. I like all of them.

#MondayMixer : Living In An Outdoor Oubliette

Living in that outdoor oubliette for twelve months was not always fun. It had good moments, like when the sun shined through the grate above my head. I got the hear the wind, the rustling of the tree leaves, the howling of dogs, the meowing of cats, even the songs of several shrikes. When the three vocalized in unison it did get rather discordant, although quite humorous to listen to.

It was not all fun, however. I’d been ankle-deep in water at one point. And in that cave, water took forever to evaporate. Nor shall I forget the day I was looking up at the sun when a big dollop of bird pooh fell from the sky. It was days before it rained enough I could wash my face.

I will never forget that winter, living in my outdoor oubliette and the experience of frost upon its stone.

150 words.
@LurchMunster


I wrote this little ditty for Jeffery Hollar‘s weekly Monday Mixer flash fiction challenge. Please, go read all the other entries in this week’s challenge. They are all well crafted.

Stories : Cowboys and Indians

The  old man had another story to share with us so we gathered in a circle around the campfire while he took his place on the best of the logs. The children all sat on the ground while we sat on family logs. The stories around the fire were an honored tradition, started by our elders centuries ago, passed down from one generation to the next. It was how we learned from our elders, how we gained the benefits of their knowledge, and their experiences. We all eagerly waited for the old man to start.

Many years ago, there was a man, his name was Timothy, and he was very proud of his family. They meant the world to him. He worked hard each day to provide everything he could for them. He kept his family well fed. He kept them clean. He provided for them, a house, a yard, clothing, even books, and a bed. His family always had candles to light up their home at night.

Timothy was a good man, all his family knew, and all his village too.

One day, three strangers came to town, riding on their horses, armed with guns, and knives. They took what they wanted, did what they wanted. They got to Timothy’s home, broke down the door of his home, and they shot him. Thinking he was dead, they raped his wife and his daughter. Timothy saw it all, heard it all. He heard their screams of pain, heard their cries for help, heard the tearing of their clothes. He heard the single gunshot fired, and saw the lifeless body of his son as it struck the floor.

All he could do was watch, lying on the floor, his own blood pooling around him. He tried to move, to speak, to scream, to do anything at all. He found he could not. He’d been shot, and he knew he would die.

It was on that floor Timothy made an oath to the gods. He swore, if he lived, if they spared his life, he’d learn to protect his family, his daughter, and he beloved  wife.

When the three strangers had their fill of his daughter and his wife, they left Timothy’s house, moving elsewhere in the village. He heard the sounds of their guns, the screams they caused, the wails of anguish, and of tears, at another soul lost. He could only close his eyes, and beg the gods above to grant him time, to grant him life, to learn to protect his family, his daughter, and his wife.

With the coming of the dawn, those first rays of light, others in the village found him, his daughter, and his wife. They took him straight away to the medicine man, praying as they carried him along for the gods to spare his life.

It took time, more than a few weeks, even more than months, before Timothy grew well enough to walk. The medicine man used his magic, his potions and his spells, and his prays to the gods above, to save Timothy’s life. All the villagers helped him bury his dead son, repair the damage to his home, and take care of his daughter, and his wife.

But Timothy had changed, he was not the same as he’d once been. After that violent night, he bought several guns of his own, keeping them around his house, so they would be there if he ever need them to help him protect his home. To protect his family, his daughter and his wife.

He learned to use them all. The rifle first, then the shotgun. Last of all he learned to use the pistol he’d purchased. He even learned to carry it with him, every day of his life.

In time, his daughter found a man to call her own, and she became his wife. Timothy built a house for them, right across the village square. And every Sunday, his daughter and his son-in-law visited, spending time with him, and his wife.

Young married people being as they are, it wasn’t long at all before Timothy became a grandfather, and his wife a proud grandma. They love their twin grandsons with all their hearts, and took care of them all the time as they watched them growing up.

Those two boys loved their Ma and Pa with all their hearts. They did everything their parents asked of them. They helped with the chores around the house, and out in the fields they helped their Daddy with his work. By the time they were just six years old, both of them could ride a horse, and both could man a plow, and till a field. They went out in the fields almost ever day, working with their Pa.

Timothy was proud of his grandsons. They were going to grow up to be good men. Everything he’d someday hoped his own son could have been.

It was one day not long after when tragedy entered once again into the lives of Timothy, his family, his wife, daughter, son, and grandsons. Tragedy has a way of doing that, of just walking in like rain, on a sunny day. For just like rain, it happens, for no reason, just like rain, tragedy falls where it may.

And on that day, his two grandsons were over at his home, being seven-year old boys, playing seven-year old games. Cowboys and Indians, as it was. When Timothy’s wife asked him, please, to run to the village store and get a bag of flower, two eggs, and two cups of sugar, so she could bake a cake for the two young boys. And off Timothy went, through the village, to the store.

But Timothy made one mistake that day. He forgot the pistol he’d worn almost every day, since that day so long ago, when three strangers came to town and shot his son, and raped his daughter, and his wife. As he got to the front door of the village store, he realized what he’d done, and straight away, he turned back toward his house.

When a single gunshot rang out, shattering the peace and quiet of the village, bringing everyone outside.

Timothy raced to his house, as fast as he could run, for he knew, he knew, where that gunshot had come from. He slammed open his front door, only to see his wife, kneeling on the ground, cradling the head of one of her grandsons, looking up to heaving as she wailed, and streams of tears fell from her eyes.

Timothy’s other grandson was still alive. A smoking pistol resting at his feet. He’d been the Cowboy in the game, his brother the Indian. And like any Cowboy would have done, he saw that gun, and he picked it up, and drew a bead on the Indian.

He didn’t know a single thing about real guns. He didn’t know at all that never point a gun at anyone, that you never pull the trigger if you do. And that’s just what he’d done. And on that day, Timothy lost a grandson.

I’d like to tell you it’s because Timothy had the gun in the first place. But I can’t do that at all, because we all know by now Timothy bought his guns to keep his family safe. A lesson he’d learned on the day those three strangers came to town, and destroyed his family’s life.

I’d like to tell you it’s because of boys being boys, and playing violent games, the way boys have always done. But I can’t, and I won’t. I played that same Cowboys and Indians game when I was just a boy myself, so very long ago.

The simple truth is, a gun’s a gun. And like any tool made by human hands, they have no purpose on their own. But humans made them for self-defense, and in the hands of a brave, good man, they give him a powerful tool to help defend his family, his daughter, and his wife. But in careless hands, uneducated hands, mean, hateful, or angry hands, guns can become a powerful tool of another kind. A tool that makes it much easier for such careless, ruthless hands, to take the life of another living being.

That’s the real reason I have tonight for sharing this story with you.

And with those words, the old man bowed his head, and pushed his hands against the log as he slowly gained his feet. He bowed his head to all of us, and smiled a sad, broken smile, before he shuffled off, on his way to his lonely home, and we all said good night.

The In Between

How do I resurrect the dead?
How do I bring something
Back to life?
How do I recover something
That’s just gone?

I used to know at least a little bit
Of who I was.
But who I was
Is gone.
Destroyed.

I know who I was
Was anything but perfect.
A person made
Of shattered glass.
Some pieces gone.
Some edges sharp.
Coated in the blood of those
That tried to befriend me.

But I knew.
I knew.
Who I was.
What I did.
How to be.
Every day.

Now.
I don’t know anything.
Anything at all.
I don’t know who I am.
I don’t know what I want.
I don’t know what I feel.
Or even what I dream.

I only know
That I can’t raise
The dead.
That what I was
Is gone.
Never to return.

And I haven’t figured out
What to put in place
Of what used to be.
Oh,
I have some ideas.
Sometimes I think they’re more
Like pipe dreams,
Than ideas.

I keep reminding myself
That no one knows
How long it takes a heart and soul
To heal.

We can guess how long
It takes a broken bone
To mend.
How long it takes
For torn, abraded, lacerated skin
To grow again.

These are physical things.
With rules,
And ways
We can predict.

But how long does it take
For a broken heart
Or a wounded soul
To build the will
To try again?

I keep telling myself
I’m in transition.
Moving from what was
To what will be.

Searching for a life
To replace
The one I lost.

I keep trying to believe
It’s all OK.
That this is how
Things are supposed to be
As I walk away
From the world I knew.
Into a new world.
I have never seen.

Into the unknown.
Into the new.

How long does it take
To stop the flow of blood
From a broken heart,
And make it whole again?

How long does it take
To heal the broken bones
Of a wounded soul,
So it can walk once more?

I don’t know.
Do you?

I only know
This is where I am.
In this in between.
This big unknown.

Using everything I’ve ever learned,
Everything I know,
To find my way to life
Again.

I’m going to take a walk now.
Even if it rains.
Because it’s part
Of who I am.
Of what I do.
Because it helps me
Feel alive
Again.

Have You Ever Seen The Rain

I remember that day. Just another beautiful day, with me walking through the roses. I still do that, you know. Walk through that rose garden. Always did love roses. Never could grow ‘em though. Always managed to murder ‘em, for lack of a better way of describing it.

That day was different. On that day, I began to realize, began to understand, how hurt I was. How wounded. You gotta understand. If you’re wounded bad enough. Hurt bad enough. You do things you wouldn’t normally do. Like turn on your friends. Turn on the people that want you to get better.

Yeah. I was hurt that bad. And I’d hurt her ‘cause of it. I’d never meant to hurt her. No. Really. It was a stupid thing to do. And I’ll never forget it. Ever.

See. I’d been banned from the workplace. Couldn’t go to work. Had to sit at home, and wait to find out what would happen next. And I kept seeing these pictures in my head. Where she was talking with them. You know. Them. The people you don’t trust. In this case, one of the program managers. Didn’t help any that during the previous week, they re-arranged the office. Put me in the desk furthest from anyone. So they could watch me.

Paranoid. I know. But, you know. I was that hurt. Been in that job too long. Didn’t leave when I shoulda. Stayed there, ‘cause I thought people depended on me. Thought they needed me. Thought I was helping them keep their jobs. Yeah. I was fuckin’ screwed up. To the point where I thought everything that happened was done to try to get rid of me. Hell, I still think that. Probably always will.

But that morning, I’d written a note to her. And asked her point blank if she was one of them. If she agreed that I should have been banned from the workplace.

Talk about an idiot. Yep. That was me. Died in the wool idiot. Standing there in the roses that day. Catching my first glimpse of how injured I’d become. And how responsible I was for that. How badly I’d hurt myself. I’d told my doc already, “It’s nobody’s fault.” Which was a frakkin’ lie. It was my fault. It was always my fault. Everything that ever went wrong had always been my fault.

She’d written back. “How can you say that to me?”

Yep. Time to take a big damn sword and cut my heart out. That’s what it was. And there I was. Walking in the roses. Wishing I could do just that. Knowing I deserved it. Me. Looking at the roses on a beautiful day. Clear sky. Sun. Warm. And me standing there. Cryin’. Like frakin’ rain was fallin’ from my eyes.

Sometimes, God. I’m such an idiot.

I never meant to hurt her…

 

This piece was written for the 13th Friday Night Write, over on Sweet Banana Ink. There are always great little pieces of fiction there. Wonderful tales that have been shared. Please, go read them.