My prompts were:
Amy: The drought set up delusions of grandeur in male species.
Cameron: Clear the pool!
Erika: Why doesn’t anything rhyme with orange?
Jen: She hit him with a frying pan.
Manda: One, two, three Tarot cards stared up at her from the table.
Wendy: Hiccups won me the lottery.
I came up with a couple of double dactyls. Definition: “This form is composed of two quatrains, of which the last line of the first rhymes with the last line of the second. All the lines except the rhyming ones, which are truncated, are composed of two dactylic feet. The first line of the poem must be a double dactylic nonsense word, like “Higgledy piggledy” or “Pocketa-pocketa” (this last, of course, borrowed from “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.”) The second line must be a double dactylic name. And then, somewhere in the poem, though preferably in the second stanza, and ideally in the antepenultimate line, there must be at least one double dactylic line which is one word long.”
Here’s my first double dactyl. The “Clear the Pool” made me think of summertime, pools in every third back yard, a mom yelling, “Out of the pool, now!” to her waterlogged kids.
Wendy and Cameron
Lottery winners who
Put in a pool,
Finally said to their
“No friends” is the rule.
And since I enjoy working with tarot myself (in some corners I’m known as “Madame Liz”), naturally I was inspired to do something with the tarot prompt.
Manda reads tarot cards
Hoping to learn what
The Fates have in mind.
One, two, three, four cards she
Spreads on the table.
The Death card she finds.
Hope you enjoyed them! You can see what else I’m up to here:
My page on publisher’s website: http://tirgearrpublishing.com/authors/Delisi_Elizabeth/index.htm
My five music prompts:
1.) Heavy Metal/Hard Rock- The Sounds of Silence covered by Disturbed:
2.) Pop/Hip-Hop- Should’ve Been Us by Tori Kelly:
3.) Country/Singer-Song Writer- I Told You So By Keith Urban:
4.) Instrumental/Soundtrack- The Last of the Wilds by Nightwish:
5.) Wild Card- The Wheels on The Bus, children’s nursery rhyme:
It is an honor to be included with this group of writers for the BBB Gals current Blog.
When I received my prompts, I knew immediately that I would pick either The Sounds of Silence or The Last of the Wilds. The Sounds of Silence because it resonated with my background as a professional trainer who has delivered thousands of training programs addressing issues with communication; or The Last of the Wilds, because I listened to a lot of Celtic music while writing my book, Finding My Highlander. Still, I considered each song suggested and allowed the other tunes to resonate for the muse, just in case. But no, it had to be one of those first two that struck an immediate cord. I was a bit skeptical about The Sounds of Silence by Disturbed. I don’t listen to a lot of Heavy Metal/Hard Rock, but Disturbed’s rendition of this old favorite rocked my boat and vibrated my soul. However, unlike many of your previous bloggers, it wasn’t a story that emerged, but a poem. I am prefacing my poem with an op-ed piece about the unnamed character in every story, “Communication.”
This Communication-character (“C” capitalized here because of her person status,) is present in every romance novel and all other genres as well. (I’ll refer to the “C” in the female voice for simplicity.) She is not a real character with arms, legs, and body, but rather she is the shadowed-self in both the hero and heroine. None-the-less she becomes a living breathing entity expressed through dialogue (or lack thereof,) within and between the primary players of the story. Yet, Communication is often far more significant during silent interactions. She is the embodiment of tension, the struggle between two or more characters, or the personal struggle within each character. She thrives under the significance of a simple touch, a passionate kiss, or a wayward glance. Communication lives within our characters and on the page, not just through dialogue but also through the main characters’ thoughts, actions, every subtle nuance, and every sigh. It is during these potent silent moments that the hero or heroine finally grasps the purpose of their mythic journey. In silence, physical contact blooms, some elemental truth is accepted, and a wounded heart opens.
The Sounds of Silence made me imagine this “Communication” element, abiding silently within every hero or heroine, might step out of the shadows to recite these words to the beloved.
We hunger for words,
yet speak without thought
and tuck our secrets deep
behind folds of expression.
Our speech only mimics,
is delivered in clichéd refrains.
Hidden in defensive darkness
lurks a daunting truth we fear.
Words uttered from your lips
do not dispel my urgent yearning.
That smile, so easy on your face,
makes me question everything.
Look at me. Hear me. Touch me.
Forget the outside world, worries
piled high upon the table,
and knockings at the door.
Why should we care that we are ruined
ships crashing against pointless shoals
of wasted vocabulary. Please!
Let silence envelop us.
Curl into my empty arms, spark
a torrent of desire, surrender
with your kiss. Lie down with me
in a field of wild daisies
and green summer grass,
without words, to rise at last
in the silent flame of bliss.
© March, 2016
Aleigha Siron is a nom de plum. Her alter ego has published poetry in numerous anthologies and university publications. She’s been the featured poet at a number of art festivals and other venues. Her first fiction novel, Finding My Highlander, a time-travel romance is available on pre-sale with a release date of May 4, 2016, published by Tirgearr Publishing. Aleigha is working on two additional novels. A prequel to Finding My Highlander and another time-travel novel set in the Regency period.
You can find Aleigha’s book and poetry at:
WWW (Aleigha’s WebPage) http://aleighasiron.com/
Happy to be here! These are the prompts that the ladies gave me:
Amy:If only Lucky Charms were lucky
Cameron: It’s dark and we’re wearing sunglasses
Jen: Bouncy house to Oz
Wendy: Plunger Games
The prompt I chose was “If only Lucky Charms were lucky.” It occurred to me that this is something a child would wish for… or someone that felt things were beyond his control… someone that cannot control themselves. Let’s call it OCD for the purpose of this story. If you have a little something that speaks to you… then you understand completely. If not let me try to explain… I use the same fork for every meal. It’s not like we don’t have a drawer full of them but THIS fork has the look, the weight, the right feel, the right shape that makes food taste good… okay, really good. I can eat at restaurants with other forks mind you but there is always a little something missing. Its hell being held prisoner by a small piece of your brain, compelled to do it’s biding despite everything you try to do to the contrary. You tell yourself it’s a small thing and it doesn’t really matter. You can take it or leave it… that you control it, it doesn’t control you but you do it any way, time and time again. And if that weren’t enough my eggs have to be on the right side of the plate… eggs are ALWAYS on the right ! Yep ! That’s why I chose If only Lucky Charms were lucky !
Looking back on it now, I have no idea how it all began, the madness I mean. Of course there had been little clues that pointed to bigger things were on the way but I didn’t connect those dots.
My life had been as ordinary as any… more so by comparison I would have guessed. If you looked up average in the dictionary you would find my picture. At twenty seven, I never stepped outside the line of expectation, never late for work, never late paying the bills, everything was planned out, every I dotted; every T crossed, a place for everything and everything in its place. Life was neat and orderly, just as it was meant to be.
That is until, one day I was home sick with the flu.
I had spent the night wracked with fever, my throat ravaged with multiple trips to the bathroom to empty an already empty stomach.
Exhausted from a restless night, I stumbled to the kitchen for a glass of water and a few aspirin. To my surprise, my black dress shirt lay in the middle of the kitchen floor.
A small thing mind you. It was just a shirt in a loose, rumpled pile… lying on the floor but it unnerved me. I stood there for a moment, staring at it.
“How the hell?” I said aloud, pushing it with my foot, fearful I was hallucinating.
I looked about half expecting God only knew what.
The house was empty. It was always empty.
After my girlfriend moved out more than five years ago, I had lived alone. I had no explanation as to how it could possibly be on the floor in the first place but there it was.
“I must have dropped it when I took the clothes out of the dryer, that’s all,” I lied to myself.
It was a lie I wanted to believe. I had taken the clothes out of the dryer two days earlier but I had no other explanation.
I tried to put it out of my mind.
A couple of weeks had gone by and I had all but forgotten about it. I would have been happy to live in that thought but when I came home late Wednesday night I found the refrigerator door open. Spilt milk, held in place by a ring of mustard had created a puddle at its base and to my shock, laying on the floor in front of it… my black shirt… sitting dead center of it, a half-eaten bowl of Lucky Charms and a large wooden spoon.
Someone had been inside my house!
My heart jumped to my throat, the hair on the back of my neck stood straight up. I grabbed a knife and crept from room to room but to no avail.
I was alone.
I was angry at the thought of it, violated for lack of a better description.
I didn’t know what upset me more… that someone had been in my house or that they had used my shirt as a place mat. What prayed on my mind for days afterward was the fact that I didn’t even own a wooden spoon.
After the police left that night, I had gone through every item I owned. My head swam with panic, fearful half of everything I own had been stolen as I frantically took inventory.
To my astonishment nothing had been touched. To me it felt as though the world was no longer civilized… for the police it was just matter of fact and for them, a small matter at that.
The company I worked for immediately changed my pass codes for the office and brought in the top of the line alarm company for my house.
For the next month the instant I turned the key in the door I rushed to the refrigerator only to discover all was as I had left it that morning.
I had taken my black shirt to the cleaners to be cleaned… twice. Both times I left it on the hanger, safely incased in the store wrapper. Invariably, I checked on it right after the fridge, eyeing it suspiciously for any tell-tell remnants of an intruder.
As hard as I tried, I couldn’t get over the spoon. I had come to terms with the idea someone had broken into my house, opened my fridge and ate my food. What I had trouble with was the idea that they thought about it far enough in advance that they brought their own eating utensils. They had to know that they would have something to eat as they burglarized my house. It was that or they ate at all the houses they stole from. Neither thought offered any comfort.
At first, I was tempted to throw the spoon away, be done with it. As often as I had placed it in the trash I found myself retrieving it every time. I carried it around the house as if looking for just the right place to put it. More often than not it wound up sticking out of my back pocket.
As the weeks went by I carried the damn thing everywhere, many times without realizing it. It found its way to work with me, in the car, under my pillow, in the microwave and in all the little nooks and crannies it could fit. It had reached the point it would be in my pocket before my car keys.
I tried to break its hold on me, but could not. Somehow, having it in my possession kept my house and refrigerator, safe from a second break-in… or at least, in the beginning, so I hoped… if only Lucky Charms were lucky.
Married forty-three years to a woman he calls Dearheart, Tegon Maus lives a contented life in a small town of 8,200 in Southern California. By day, Tegon is a successful home remodeling contractor, but his passion is storytelling.
Tegon’s progatonists are frequently wedged between a rock and a hard place, but manage to work things out through the story. Like most when pushed into a corner, it only brings out the best in his characters and become the unstoppable force of a reluctant hero. Tegon’s signature style is creating characters who are driven and believable, and who strive to find happiness.
Tegon is the author of The Chronicles Of Tucker Littlefield series.
To purchase all things Tegon Maus please check out his Tirgearr page
Thanks for inviting me to post. My prose prompts were….
Amy: Sunflowers on Steroids
Cameron: The clothing line’s success was built on their attention to the details- and the total transparency of their employees.
Erika: The Great Train Caper
Jen: Describe some food and make me hungry, a scene will do. Bonus points if you also write about eating food.
Manda: From the depths of his coma, he heard…
Wendy: Larry Porter and the Philanthropist’s Cone
I chose the first one, Amy’s sunflowers on steroids….
I chose this prompt because I love the sunflowers that are grown around here in Northern Spain and my wife and I decorated the chapel with them for our wedding, and the phrase straight away made me envision a cautionary tale about GMOs, with farmers competing and going too far, so the plant ends up taking over. I like to write stories like this – an extravagant supposition based in science and made as believable as possible. I have never worried about the healthfulness of GMOs, but as an ecologist, I don’t see the need for them and believe they do have negative effects on the environment – at most they merely speed up evolution like overuse of antibiotics.
The difficult part was deciding how to write the story ; I wasn’t sure what the context would be, but then I thought it would be a story recounted by a survivor, rather than a story happening in real time.
Hope you like it.
Sunflowers on Steroids.
I always said them scientists would mess everything up, playing round with creation like they was God.
The environmental beatniks said it too, course, but they said all kind of whatnot, like the weather was changin’, that we didn’t listen much to them guys. Joel McCallum, though, he reads the scientific papers, and he said they reckoned the canola plants’d be the ones that did it, them being so common and close to weeds anyway. He said the genetically modified canola would mix with the field mustard plants and lead to a superweed that nothing could get rid of. The idea of sunflowers takin’ over like they was on steroids, well, we none of us predicted that.
What we never saw comin’, either, was losing our land to the federal government after trying so hard to keep independent from them assholes in DC.
We bought the land fair and square, set up our town ten years beforehand. We were self-sufficient by then, hundred per cent, and all set for the apocalypse should it decide to turn up. We didn’t think it would turn out this way.
It was the federal government’s fault, though, too. Always knew that would be true. They were the ones invited that crazy sonbitch to plant those damn sunflower plants out our way. Gave him permission to use federal land we used to graze cattle off not twenty miles from town. Well, we didn’t think no sunflowers’d stand the shallow soil there. No depth at all, after the dustbowl years took it clean away. Even the grass dried up when it didn’t rain in late spring. We didn’t think the plants would stand up in the wind, first time we went out there and they told us what it was they were growin’.
Joel tried to explain what they’d done to the sunflowers – struck in some genes from a creeper, a vine of some sort that was supposed to only change the roots from the deep tap roots sunflowers supposed to grow, into wide spreading roots that would keep the plants upright and get them enough water from what rains came there. They’d spread the seeds out farther than normal to compensate. Well, Joel didn’t know what way they’d messed up – whether they’d put in the wrong piece of string or if the gene did more jobs than just make roots of one sort or the other, but mess up they did. The plants grew up stringy and creeping. They stretched along the ground, covering the empty patches between plants till it was just a sea of green, with all trace of the rows they’d been planted in gone. The flowers were small, but each plant had four or five instead of one. We was amazed the first year. The scientists just took notes. They harvested some, but with the way the plants were all higgledy-piggledy, they missed half the seed heads.
Of course, we didn’t like to let such food go to waste. We was self-sufficient, but it’s a sin to waste such bounty as the Lord places before you. We planted some in our own plots – and we planned to keep planting it, till we realised it didn’t need no planting. The wind came through one night, the way it does, and the seeds flew everywhere on it. Next year, it was everywhere. It invaded the wheat fields, covered the town. It was kinda pretty at first. We used the oil for our trucks, couple of years. But we soon saw it was gettin’ serious when it covered the floor of the forests, started cloggin’ the creek, and broke half the corn plants before they got to cobbin’. It wrapped around everything – I mean everything – like vines, like morning glory, or that Japanese knotweed they’re always going on about, on steroids more than sunflowers on steroids, and they blocked out the light from every other plant, till there were was nothing else we could grow.
Well, we thought we could at least use the energy the oil gave to cut and burn it out, but we eventually had to ask the government for help. It was their problem, when all said and done.
They came, in helicopters, since the roads were practically overgrown by then. One fella told Joel they was comin’ anyhow, whether we asked them or not. Their scientists told them to shut down the whole operation – and more. They was goin’ to move us – would’ve paid us to up and move sticks someplace else. But what we asked for help, they just took us out, told us to gather up our valuables and make sure it was all clean of vegetative material, they called it.
We did as was asked – we weren’t no fools, wishing this upon everyone. Besides, we weren’t ready for the apocalypse of this description, of any description without our land, our shelters, our supplies.
When they took us up in the helicopters, we saw them start the firebombing straight away. That shit smelt like the end of the world. No wonder them Vietnamese hated us, using that shit on them. I asked the pilot how much they was going to burn. Five thousand square miles, he told me. Hell of a lot of Napalm man. Of course, we had some Napalm ourselves, just in case. When I saw the town explode, I thought, well, there’s an end to it. We might not survive the next apocalypse, but at least we helped the world avoid this one.
That’s what I thought. That’s what we all thought, true as the Lord is lookin’ down on me.
Thing about sunflowers, though, even these crazy ass ones, was the seeds were real tasty. The kids in town used to go round all day, biting on them and spitting out the shells. Well, how can you put the blame on the shoulders of a little kid, not eight year old, instead of the scientist that made them seeds? Little Mia La Tere meant to eat them, of course, and all would’ve been well. But when she saw the explosion from all that stuff we’d in storage, well, she jumped so high she near enough fell out of the chopper herself. Only natural the bag slipped out her hand and the seeds scattered…
David O’Brien is a writer, ecologist and teacher from Dublin, Ireland, now living in Pamplona Spain. He has a degree in environmental biology and doctorate in zoology, specialising in deer biology and is still involved in deer management in his spare time.
As an avid wildlife enthusiast and ecologist, much of David’s non-academic writing, especially poetry, is inspired by wildlife and science. While some of his stories and novels are contemporary, others seek to describe the science behind the supernatural or the paranormal.
A long-time member of The World Wildlife Fund, David has pledged to donate 10% of his royalties on all his hitherto published books to that charity to aid with protecting endangered species and habitats.
David’s author page on Tirgearr Publishing- Check out his books!
So, my friends, my fans of the Beer and Bacon Babes site- guess what?!?! New stories coming!
And not just ANY new stories! Stories from my fellow author at my press, Tigearr Publishing! We’re looking at Romance, Fantasy, Paranormal, Thriller, we run the fun range on awesome genres!
These are all published, super-TALENTED authors. I know that this blog has an audience of devoted, truly engaged readers so I am excited to offer such fabulous writers. I think everyone is really in for a treat!
You’re welcome- gear up- the next four weeks? Super fun!!
Really flattered to be asked to feature here again! Thanks, Erika. My prompts were:
1.) Heavy Metal/Hard Rock- Subdivisions by Rush
2.) Pop/Hip-Hop- Roar by Katy Perry
3.) Country/Singer-Songwriter- The Dance by Garth Brooks
4.) Instrumental/Soundtrack- Somewhere Over The Rainbow by Judy Garland (Sometimes we forget just how flipping good she really was) from The Wizard of Oz
5.) Wild Card- Theme Song from Cheers- Where Everybody Knows Your Name
I chose ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’. It’s a beautiful song and Judy’s voice is amazing, but funnily enough The Wizard Of Oz was never a favourite of mine – too cutesy. (I prefer the darker tone of Wicked.) It got me thinking: what if going over the rainbow wasn’t so nice? I wanted to portray the rainbow as something sinister. I’ve channelled a bit of Oz, Harry Potter, and Terry Pratchett in this fantasy piece. I actually had the characters already (from a story I wrote on Twitter to cheer up a friend who likes dragons). I gave them a rainbow to deal with, and the story sort of wrote itself. Its tone is quite light, but I’ve hinted that what’s on the other side of the rainbow isn’t…
‘So,’ Arith grumbled as his tail swished out the last embers of the fire, ‘Can we go up the castle, or not?’
Ellie hid a smile behind her sleeve. ‘Yes. I promised, didn’t I? A witch doesn’t break her promises.’
Arith snorted, promptly starting another small blaze. ‘Oops!’ he said, and stamped on that to put it out.
‘I’m not sure a majestic dragon should be saying “Oops”, remarked Ellie. ‘Have you been playing with my little sister again?’
‘No,’ muttered Arith. He flexed his claws, to show what a majestic dragon he really was.
‘Come on, idiot,’ Ellie said affectionately. ‘We’re done with spell casting for today. Let’s go and make some mischief.’
The young witch climbed onto Arith’s back, her bare toes gripping the rough armour plating, fingers clasped round the spines on his neck. With another snort, this time of joy, the dragon took off. Their camp at the water’s edge shrunk to the size of a match head as Arith caught an updraft. Ellie looked down, her eyes squinting against the red-gold sparkle of the dragon’s scales.
The river became a silver snake winding below them, leading the way to the castle. The rainy morning had given way to a bright afternoon, and Ellie unclipped her ponytail, letting her fair hair dry in the breeze.
‘Did you cast your invisibility spell?’ Arith shouted above the whoosh of his wing beats.
‘Of course,’ Ellie replied primly. Dragons were invisible to those who didn’t have magic, but witches lived in the everyday world as well. They could be seen unless they spelled it otherwise. It wouldn’t do to be spotted whizzing through the air on the back of – nothing. In fact, it wouldn’t do to be spotted whizzing through the air full stop.
The dragons who guarded the castle – unseen by the general public, of course – were a stuck-up lot, proud of their duty and forever letting everyone know how important they were. Arith (and secretly, Ellie as well) liked to take them down a peg; challenging them to duels, reminding them that they weren’t free to roam where they wished, and generally making a nuisance of themselves.
Today, however, as they approached, all was not as it should be. At first, it appeared to be an ordinary rainbow, arching above the turrets and keep. Then, Ellie noticed that it was dropping in height, enveloping the highest towers – which shimmered, then vanished.
‘What the heck…’ began Arith, as he too saw this strange occurrence, just as Ellie shouted ‘Faster, Arith! The castle’ll be gone in a minute!’
Arith often described his witch as bossy, but this time he heard the genuine urgency in her tone, and beat his wings as fast as he could. ‘What do you mean, gone?’ he yelled.
‘That’s a doorway to another world!’ Ellie was muttering incantations between her explanations. ‘A parasite world, come to steal from ours. We have to stop it!’
‘Oh great.’ muttered Arith. ‘What about the castle warlocks? Can’t they do anything?’
‘If they haven’t already, they’re probably trapped.’ Ellie was now rolling a ball of magical energy between her palms. ‘Besides, you were the one who called them a bunch of doddering old fools.’
Arith grinned, but then frowned. Much as the castle spellcasters and their snobbish dragons annoyed him, he didn’t like the thought of anything bad happening to them.
‘Get as close as you can, but don’t touch it!’ Ellie jumped to a crouch on Arith’s back.
The dragon realised she was about to throw her spell. ‘Don’t you fall off, either,’ he warned, banking smoothly.
The rainbow had now engulfed most of the castle. It had dropped so low, Arith realised, that he could get higher than it. He glided up until he was safely above the last arc of colour, then looked down.
There was no sign of the castle. A black-edged hole in the swirling colours revealed a confused impression of fields of wild flowers and – cabbages? There was a forest, and a strange red and yellow road.
Ellie yelled ‘Watch out!’ and hurled her spell.
The ball exploded with a bewildering roar of noise. Ellie dropped flat on Arith’s back, and he didn’t need to be told twice. He rolled away from the disintegrating colours and shot off as fast as possible. Looking back, he was just in time to see the rainbow twinkle out of existence and the castle take its place, seeming none the worse for wear for its ordeal.
‘Did we do it?’ he asked, as Ellie struggled to a sitting position. He circled so they were facing the right direction.
‘Yes, thank the Goddess.’ Ellie patted his neck. ‘Great flying, gorgeous.’
Arith snorted a small flame, but Ellie knew he was pleased.
‘I suppose we better go and see if everyone’s all right,’ he said, ‘Now that we’ve saved the day.’
They landed on the roof of the Great Hall, out of the way of the tourists milling below. The general public seemed unaware that anything momentous had happened, although a few were muttering about how dark it had got for a while.
‘I wonder what they’d have done if they stepped out of the castle into a different world?’ Arith mused. ‘It looked – weird…’
Ellie shuddered. ‘Don’t even ask. I know the non-magicals are annoying, but no-one deserves to live there.’
Arith resolved to ask Ellie more about parasite worlds. It sounded like she knew the one he had seen. His little witch was a mystery to him much of the time.
An elderly warlock was hurrying towards them, followed by others, streaming like ants from the door to the roof. Robes flapped around the skinnier ones, while the fatter gentlemen puffed and panted at the rear, not accustomed to so many stairs.
‘Ellie!’ The old man exclaimed. ‘Was that you? By the time we realised what was happening, we were stuck in the dungeons!’ No longer needed to house prisoners, the dungeons were the warlocks’ usual abode.
Arith growled. ‘Where were the dragons? They’re supposed to guard the castle. Where are they now?’
‘Look!’ Ellie pointed to the nearest tower. A stone dragon sat atop it, snarling, a front paw raised with claws unsheathed.
‘Over there!’ another warlock exclaimed. ‘And there!’ All four of the castle dragons sat atop a tower, ready to defend their abode, and each one had been turned to stone.
‘We can undo it!’ The warlocks huddled together, discussing the best way to change the dragons back. Ellie looked on, amused.
Arith head-butted her. To her surprise, he looked as though he was about to cry.
‘Is that what would have happened to me if I touched the rainbow?’ he asked.
‘Maybe. Or maybe it was some magic sent ahead to neutralise the castle’s first line of defence.’ Ellie scowled. ‘I hate parasite worlds.’
‘They’ll be able to change them back, right?’
‘Oh yes. They may be a bunch of crazy old men, but they can unpetrify someone like that.’ Ellie snapped her fingers. ‘Why, Arith,’ she teased, ‘Don’t tell me you’d miss those stuck-up, snobbish…’
‘All right, all right!’ Arith glared at her, after sneakily wiping a paw over his eyes. ‘I’d have no-one to – annoy, that’s all.’
‘Come on,’ said Ellie. ‘I think we’d better come back another day.’ Sparks were beginning to fly from the warlocks’ fingertips. A few of them landed dangerously close to Arith’s tail.
‘When they set the castle on fire, we’ll come back and rescue them again,’ Arith agreed. ‘I always thought it would be one of those idiot reptiles who would do that.’ He crouched a little to make it easier for Ellie to climb onto his back once more.
‘Ellie!’ The warlock who had been first on the scene was hurrying towards them. His face, indeed his whole bald head, was rather pink. Arith paused.
‘Um…I just realised we didn’t say thank you. For dealing with the parasite world. So, thank you.’ The old man gave a beaming smile which Arith recognised at once.
Ellie beamed back.
‘You’re welcome, Grandpa.’
- Heavy Metal/Hard Rock- Mother by Danzig
- Pop/Hip-Hop- Uptown Funk by Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars
- Country/Singer Song Writer- What Part Of No by Lorrie Morgan
- Instrumental/Soundtrack- The Hanging Tree by Jennifer Lawrence from The MockingJay Part I
- Wild Card-Danny Boy- Irish Traditional
What I Chose and Why:
Something unexpected happened when I listened to my prompts. I got into a really dark and twisted mood.
This Danzig hit came out during my high school years. I was an angry young man at the time and I listened to a lot of hard rock. Hearing that music again brought me right back into that dark, angsty mindset. I usually try to avoid wallowing in dark or creepy ideas, but this time I simply had to go with it.
Thanks to the BBBGals for inviting me to submit another piece to their blog and their patience with my schedule. This piece is very different from my previous submission, but with Danzig for inspiration, how could it possibly be the same?
“Girls, wake up! I took the tree down. I need you to sweep up the needles.”
Great-Aunt Cora whisked in and out of their room before Samantha knew what happened. Sam rolled her head in the direction of the alarm clock, but her heavy eyelids refused to open.
Sheets rustled in the neighboring bed as her sister, Julie, sat up. “Aunt Cora took the tree down already? It’s only day after Christmas.”
Sam’s eyes rolled behind closed lids. She decided to go back to sleep and covered her head with her blanket.
From underneath the covers, she could hear Julie wiggling. She was reaching, moving stuff on the nightstand between them. Sam’s alarm clock fell to the floor and Julie dived after it.
“Six in the morning!” Julie said. “No wonder its so dark outside.”
At least she didn’t break it, Sam thought. “Aunt Cora’s going home tomorrow, Julie. Just one more day of her antics.” Then Julie will have her room back, I’ll have my room to myself, and my stuff will be safe again.
“Want to help her pack?” Julie suggested.
Sam would do it in a heartbeat, if it would make life normal again. But the problems started before Great-Aunt Cora came for the holidays. If anything, Cora’s eccentricities masked whatever was really going on with Mom.
Aunt Cora flitted back into the room. “Come on kids. I’ve got a big day planned for us and I need you to get moving. Please do it quietly. We’ll surprise your mom when she wakes up.” Then Aunt Cora was gone again.
“I want to be like that when I’m old,” Julie said.
“Who wants to be old?” Sam smirked. She reached for her headphones but her cell phone was missing.
“At least she asks nicely,” Julie said. “She’s not mean and bossy like Grandma is.”
“Was,” Sam corrected
“I’m glad Aunt Cora didn’t get Grandma’s meanness.”
Sam flipped the covers down off her head. “Aunt Cora’s like fifteen years older than Grandma was. If anything, Grandma should have learned to be nice from her.”
“Fifteen years! For you, that’d be like mom having a baby now,” Julie said. She got up and started her morning routine.
Sam squirmed in her bed. The way their Mom churned through boyfriends, she lived under constant fear of yet another half-sibling. Julie shouldn’t joke about such things. She’s old enough to know better.
Running her fingers through her choppy, tri-colored hair, Sam wondered how much longer she could keep it. Sam was too young for tattoos yet, but she had the hair, the clothes, and multiple piercings. It was her armor. With all the guys mom brought home, Sam wanted to look as off-limits as possible.
Grandma hated Sam’s new hairstyle — no surprise, Grandma hated everything. Now that Grandma was gone, the matter should have been settled.
But that’s not what happened at all. Mom totally freaked out at Grandma’s death and is now trying to be just like her. Change everything. Control everything. Mom is becoming the new Grandma.
Grandma 2.0, Sam thought. Grandma with a vengeance!
That’s where Sam’s trouble really began, and it was becoming a nightmare.
“You coming?” Julie was dressed in a hoodie and pajama pants.
Sam sighed, “Hold on. I’ll come down with you.”
The two sisters shuffled down the stairs to see what their great-aunt had planned.
Trying to talk to Aunt Cora was like trying to talk to a tennis ball during a match, your head was constantly moving to keep up with her.
“Good! You’re up. There’s the broom and dustpan.”
Sam looked at the trail of pine needles across the living room and out the door.
“Usually we keep the tree up at least through New Year’s,” Julie whined.
“No yoga class today?” Sam asked.
Cora paused for a brief moment, then brushed a thought away, “No time.”
Sam picked up a half-empty bottle of vodka. “Did you drink all this in the few days you’ve been here?”
Cora plucked the bottle out of Sam’s hand. “Don’t be silly! This is an old bottle I found in your house.” She placed it on the dining room table instead of the cabinet.
Julie swept the needles into a little pile.
Sam knelt down with the dustpan and whispered to her sister. “I bet Aunt Cora died years ago. We just don’t know it yet because she’s so well pickled.”
Julie laughed. “She sure is a nimble little prune.”
“And my hearing is good too,” Aunt Cora stage-whispered from the other room.
Julie blushed, but Sam just shrugged it off.
Sam noticed bags packed by the door and nudged Julie. “You packed already, Aunt Cora?”
Cora shushed them as she walked back to talk. “Yes, you should pack too. One bag each. Make sure to bring something of great sentimental value… in case you get homesick.” Then she went off doing things again. The house was already immaculate. No one would guess there was a big Christmas day feast last night.
“Mom didn’t say we were going anywhere,” Julie said.
“It’s a surprise,” Aunt Cora answered. “How would you like to spend New Year’s with me down in Florida?”
“Is it near Disney World?” Julie asked.
Aunt Cora shook her head. “Not really. But we could go there too.”
“Mom’s not coming?” Sam asked.
“No,” said Aunt Cora. “My surprise is to take you two so your mother has some time alone. Vera’s death is hard on all of us. I lost a sister, you lost a grandmother, but your mother lost her mother. That’s hardest of all.”
Sam nodded. “She’s really not been herself since Grandma died.”
“How so?” Aunt Cora asked. “I’ve been living in Florida for so long, I’m afraid I don’t know any of you as much as I’d like.”
“She’s been aggressive,” Sam answered. “And bitter. She dumped her boyfriend. Usually she latches on until they dump her. She used to be so… mousey.”
“She snores like Grandma now,” Julie added. “She never snored before, then all the sudden, poof! She’s like a lawnmower.”
Aunt Cora had a pained expression on her face, but turned away to hide it. “Go pack girls. Do it quietly and don’t wake your mom.”
“We’re not leaving without saying goodbye. Are we?” Julie asked.
A voice called from the top of the stairs, “You two darlings aren’t going anywhere.”
Julie, and Sam turned to watch their mother, Katherine, descend the staircase. Her flowing sleeping gown and robes added to her imperious glare.
“The only one leaving is Cora,” Katherine said. “Nice of you to visit, but you wore out your welcome. Why don’t you come again in another twenty years.”
“I’m eighty years old!” Aunt Cora said. “Not sure I have another twenty years in me.”
Katherine guided her daughters away from their great aunt and said over her shoulder, “No, I suppose you don’t.”
Cora dashed around to confront Katherine. “I know what you are. I couldn’t stop you before, but I will now.”
A surprised laugh escaped Katherine’s mouth, but she quickly recomposed herself and looked down at her daughters, one on her right and one on her left. “I think Cora is showing signs of dementia, girls. It happens to people her age.” She looked straight at Cora and added with a raised eyebrow, “Maybe it’s time to think about putting you in a home?”
Aunt Cora reached into her back pocket and said, “I’m sorry you girls have to see this.” She pulled out an amulet and thrust it forward into Katherine’s face. “Vade spiritus mali! Vade daemonium! Exi de cognatione mea et non revertetur huc amplius.”
Sam looked at her Mother, then her sister. “Is that supposed to mean something?”
“It’s Latin,” Katherine answered with a curled lip. “I think she’s trying to perform an exorcism.”
“It didn’t work at all?” Deflated, Aunt Cora looked at the amulet and tried to figure out what went wrong.
“Aunt Cora,” Julie said. “Why don’t we sit down and I’ll make you a cup of tea?”
Cora nodded and tucked her amulet away in her back pocket. “Well, there’s always Plan B.” She withdrew a derringer and shot Katherine twice in the chest at point blank range.
Katherine stumbled backwards and collapsed in the middle of the oriental rug in the living room.
The girls screamed.
“Get away!” Cora yelled. She waved her gun, kicked, and shoved the girls to separate them from their Mother. Cora wouldn’t let them within ten feet of her.
Sam ran to the phone to call the police. “Phone’s dead!”
“I cut the line,” said Aunt Cora. “Call them later, if you want. Watch this.”
Katherine desperately tried to keep the blood contained in her chest, but it gushed out everywhere. Her face was morbidly white. She reached out to Julie, who was kneeling at the edge of the carpet. “Baby! My Baby.”
“Mommy,” Julie sobbed.
“Don’t touch her!” Cora yelled to Julie as she ran around the carpet to keep them separated. “She’s not your mother. Not anymore.”
Sam grabbed a frying pan to hit her psychotic aunt with.
With the amulet in her hand again, Aunt Cora shoved it under the oriental carpet. “Liga antiquis malum. Protege parvulorum innocentum.”
This time something did happen. Katherine lit up in a green glow that matched the massive jewel in the amulet. The glow encircled her.
Sam froze. She was looking at her mother, but a cloud of green light rose from the floor and illuminated a ghostly image of her grandmother; like a hologram projected around her mother tracking every movement she made.
Aunt Cora looked up and saw how close she had come to being hit with the frying pan. She lowered Sam’s arm from its striking position and eased the handle out of Sam’s grasp. “She’s not your mother anymore. Hasn’t been since your grandmother died. You know that. It switched hosts. Your mother died then.”
Another pulse of light, and the image of another woman lay there on the carpet.
“She’s not even my mother,” Cora added. “Or my grandmother.”
“Samantha,” Katherine said in a voice that sounded like a chorus of many. “Come to Mommy, there’s no time.”
Samantha didn’t move.
Katherine tried to crawl across the carpet to them, but couldn’t move outside the light.
“I drew a pentagram under the carpet,” Aunt Cora said. “She… it… is trapped inside.”
Another flash of light, another ghostly form superimposed itself over their mother’s body.
“No. No!” Katherine screamed. “I’m don’t want to die! Julie? Don’t you want to save your mommy? Come here! Take my hand. Take Mommy’s hand.”
Another flash of light, another face. The pace was accelerating.
“How many?” Cora demanded. “How many generations have you preyed upon?”
Katherine’s head snapped to Cora. “Who are you to challenge me? My descendants number in the millions you barren harpy. So what if I keep a single bloodline for myself? So what?”
“Which one will you choose then? Sam or Julie?” Cora asked.
“They’re mine to take,” Katherine snapped.
Aunt Cora put her derringer away. “What do you think girls? One of you willing to sacrifice yourself so this thing can go on? It can’t stay in your mother’s body anymore. It’s got holes in it.”
The ghostly images were flashing by faster. Some wore fancy few Victorian gowns.
“They’re all women,” Sam said to Katherine. “You’ve been taking women for generations?”
Losing the strength to keep her head up, Katherine fell back onto the carpet, soaking her hair in a pool of blood. “My own fountain of youth,” she gasped.
“But,” Julie interrupted, “all these women are old.”
Katherine rolled her head to her daughter and stared out glassy-eyed. Ghostly images of past lives continued to flash across Katherine’s face.
Shivering, Julie crept forward and whispered, “Mommy, I don’t want you to die.”
“Julie! Stay back,” Sam cautioned.
Face slick with tears, Julie acted on pure instinct.
Sam lunged to stop her, even though that meant crossing into the pentagram.
Aunt Cora knocked Sam aside and landed on top of Katherine herself.
Reflexively Katherine grabbed Cora’s hands and mouthed some words, but no sound came forth.
There was one final, brilliant flash of light that blinded everyone.
Then it was over.
Katherine lay dead on a blood-soaked oriental rug. Great-Aunt Cora lay across her niece, filthy and gasping for air.
Sam ran around to embrace her sister who was in hysterics.
They both watched Aunt Cora slowly stand up and try to wipe the blood off her hands.
Sam eyed her guardedly. “You still you?” she asked.
Aunt Cora shook her head. “No.” She looked around distractedly, “I mean ‘Yes,’ I’m still me and not that… thing.” She nudged Katherine’s corpse with the tip of her shoe. “But I got a glimpse of who she was, what she did.”
Aunt Cora shuddered. “She could only follow her bloodline down. Not across, not up. That’s why she…” Aunt Cora started to tear up. “That’s why she took my baby sister instead of me. She always picks the daughter with the most daughters. All this time I’ve kept away. I was never in any danger. You were.”
Aunt Cora grabbed a bunch of tissues for her eyes, but saw how pointless it was with all the gore on her hands. “I’m sorry I couldn’t make it in time for Katherine. I came as soon as I heard Vera was ill, but I was too late.”
No one knew what to say. They stood there for a long time watching Katherine’s corpse bleed out.
“So…” Sam said to break the eerie silence. “What do we do now?”
Aunt Cora pulled out her cell phone and dialed. “Hello Mr. Drake? Yes, it’s Cora Wexler… Yes… I’m calling to tell you I’ve decided on option C, so you can tear up the others… Yes ‘C’ as in Charlie… Yes I’m sure. And that’s backdated to our last meeting? Perfect. Thank you.”
“Who was that?” Sam asked.
For the first time ever, Aunt Cora sat down. She opened the bottle of vodka and took a hearty drink. “Mr. Drake is my lawyer. I’ve set up a trust for you both. It’s not much, but it will help until you can get Vera’s and Katherine’s assets through probate. Maybe some college.”
“You’re not dying anytime soon, are you?” Sam asked.
Aunt Cora snorted derisively. “I’m 80 years old and just murdered my own niece. I don’t have much of a future.”
Sam couldn’t think of anything to say.
Julie just stood there, staring a her mother’s lifeless body.
“You both have your futures now. No one will take it away from you. You’re free!” Aunt Cora took a big drink of Vodka and slowly reloaded her gun.
“What are you doing now?” Sam asked.
“I’m done.” Aunt Cora replied. “Take your sister to the neighbors’ house and call 911. Make sure you stay there until the police arrive.”
“Come with us?” Sam asked.
“Can’t,” Aunt Cora answered. She traced her finger over the contours of the tiny gun. “You girls are innocent. I need to make sure there’s no question about that. Now go.”
Sam guided her traumatized little sister out of the house. Closing the door, Sam glanced one last time at her great-aunt.
Cora hoisted the bottle of vodka in a toast. “Merry Christmas!”
“May it be an evening star shines down on you. May it be when darkness falls, your heart will be true”—Enya
“We are dead stars looking back up at the sky….The stars will burn out someday, and the Universe will be dark…There will be myths about the days when the stars rained down.” –Michelle Thaller, astronomer (http://www.theatlantic.com/video/index/370784/we-are-dead-stars/)
1.) Hard Rock/Heavy Metal- Make it Real by The Scorpions
2.) Pop/Hip-Hop- Until I See You Again by Wiz Khalifa & Charlie Puth
3.) Country/Singer-Songwriter- You’ll be Mine by The Pierces
4.) Instrumental/Soundtrack- May It Be by Enya from The Lord of The Rings
5.) Wild Card- Valley Girl by Moon Zappa
What I Chose and Why
I chose Enya’s song, May It Be, as the focus for the writing prompt because I immediately had a story pop into my head with the first line. And then, a little while later, I saw this video on Facebook that my friend Phylise Banner had posted from The Atlantic.
If I do anything else with this story, I will get a native Irish speaker to correct my Google Translate version (apologies in advance for any errors in the Irish).
This was fun, and I’m loving reading everyone else’s stories. I don’t write much fiction. Hope you like the story so far…Thanks, Erika!
And now to the story….
As the streak of white light faded from the twilight sky, Stel’s body began to glow from the inside. Particles of light drifted from his skin into the atmosphere, speeding up as they wafted higher. Spiraling faster and faster, the particles lifted from the shape of him, until there was only one tiny spark remaining where Stel’s body had lain.
Quickly, Mornie caught the last spark in a small glass vial, sealing it with a silver cap in the shape of the evening star and attached to a thin chain around her neck. Tucking the vial into her shirt, Mornie paused for a moment, placing her hand gently on the spot where Stel had lain only moments before.
“Téigh i síocháin, mo chara,” she said as she rose to her feet and pulled up the hood of her cloak, her breath frosting in the night air. “I will find you again–if not this lifetime, then the next.”
Slinging her bow and pack onto her back, she whistled for Pathfinder and turned her attention to the steep trail that wended its way into the dark velvet of the forest below. Behind her, a shadow separated itself from the bushes next to the trail and silently stalked Mornie.
Without turning to look, Mornie said, “Come along, Laddie. ‘Tis a long walk home and we need to be there before the dawn.” Yellow eyes gleamed back at her from the shadow, slowly blinking in catlike acknowledgement before turning their attention to the trail ahead.
Just inside the entrance to the forest, Mornie paused and looked back up the mountain they’d just come down. Briefly touching the trees on either side of the trail, she sang 3 times softly, “Cosain dúinn agus cheilt orainn as a lorg súile.” The trees creaked in the rising wind and the trail disappeared behind her, as briars grew across the path. “Go raibh maith agat, bandia.”
The trail ahead flattened out and straightened as she walked, only to disappear behind her. It was third watch when she reached her lair, a small cave hidden behind a hawthorn thicket. As she reached the edge of the thicket, Mornie’s moonstone ring began to glow, and the thicket parted just enough for her and Pathfinder to squeeze through. The cave walls began to glow softly and a fire started in the hearth.
Tossing her pack and bow into a corner, she sat on the bench by the entrance, wearily shrugged off her cloak, and pulled off her scuffed and travel-worn black leather boots, massaging her feet for a minute before sighing heavily and glancing at Pathfinder who was curled up half-asleep on the thick rug in front of the fire.
“Don’t get too comfortable yet. There’s work yet to be done.” Pathfinder just looked at her and yawned, pointedly stretching his long legs and enormous paws and relaxing deeper into the rug.
Sighing again, she stood and went to back of the cave where a pitcher stood on a high shelf next to a small spring that bubbled into a pool surrounded by carefully placed stones. After filling the pitcher from the spring, she placed it next to a small, oval-shaped, black granite table in the center of the room.
Then, she went to the battered cupboard next to the hearth. After unlatching the door, she rummaged around until she found her brazier, a small cauldron, a fist-sized piece of crusty metal, a clean rag, and a mortar and pestle. Opening a drawer, she muttered to herself as she selected several packets of herbs and added them to her growing stack. Satisfied that she had everything, she carried the accoutrements to table and set them down on the floor next to it.
Carved into the top of the table was large rune, a five-fold set of overlapping circles, one circle in each of the cardinal directions with a middle circle overlaying them in the middle. Around the edges of the table were a series of double and triple spirals alternating with a triangular symbol composed of three linked oval shapes. Carefully, Mornie polished the table top until it gleamed in the soft light and she could almost see her reflection. She placed the brazier and the small cauldron in the exact center of the rune. A small fire started in the brazier. Smiling, she turned back to her supplies.
Into the cauldron, she placed the metallic rock and poured water over it, half-filling the cauldron. She added a feather, a small piece of parchment with faded writing, a rowan branch, and a small clump of dark soil that she had taken from Stel’s final resting place. As the potion brewed, she prepared the other materials.
After placing the mortar and pestle onto the table, but outside the large rune, she poured a small amount of parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme into the mortar, she gently ground the herbs into a powder with the pestle until the fragrance of the mixture infused the air. Chanting, “An Domhan, Aeir, Dóiteáin, Uisce, ar ais, ar ais, ar ais, ar ais”, she sprinkled the herbs evenly along the lines of the rune, following an ancient pattern of balance and renewal. As she chanted, the rune began to glow.
“Pathfinder, it is time.” Pathfinder stretched and slowly paced the room clockwise three times, ending at the cave entrance. He sat looking out of the cave, still and alert.
When he was in position, Mornie took the vial out of her shirt, unstoppered it, and shook the small, particle of light into the cauldron. The particle of light gravitated to the hunk of metallic rock. When they touched a water spout formed in the cauldron, hissing as it rose above the cauldron, steam coalescing into Stel’s craggy face. Frowning, Stel said, “What happened? Why are you all blurry? Why can’t I move—Oh…”
“I’m sorry, Stel, but there was no other way. We both took the oath and you know that balance must be maintained at all costs. When Aurelia stole Corvus from us, you had to go back. We don’t have much time.”
“I understand. I’m just disoriented from the transmutation. What must I do?”
Quickly, Mornie outlined the plan, finishing just as Pathfinder growled a warning. As swiftly as she dared, Mornie shut down the link, doused the fire, and recaptured the particle of light in the vial. Wiping the herbs off the table into the cooling cauldron, she hid her supplies at the back of the cave, and just as dawn broke, whisked a table cloth over the runes. Pathfinder quickly walked widdershins three times around the room, ending on the rug by the fire.
Just as Mornie warded the cave, shutting down the glow and banking the fire, she heard a shout from somewhere outside the cave. Quickly, she chanted her hiding song, “Níl aon rud a fheiceáil anseo, ach carraig agus sceach gheal.”
Mornie and Pathfinder waited tensely in the safe dark of the cave as the dawn light crept nearer and so did the voices. It seemed like hours that the Seekers searched for her, but eventually, they moved off and the light receded.
Heaving a sigh of relief, Mornie stripped out of her filthy travel clothes, washed, and collapsed gratefully into her bed. As soon as she was asleep, Pathfinder crawled into the bed next to her, one giant paw resting protectively across her torso.
As exhausted as she was, Mornie slept fitfully, her dreams filled with images of Stel’s agony before his transmutation, whispers of the Seekers reaching her as they sought her out, trying to breach her defenses and get into her mind. They would kill her if they found her, blaming her as they did for the death of their King. In her dream, she shouted that he wasn’t dead, just changed and one day, he would return, but it was futile to argue with them. They couldn’t see that Light and Dark must remain in balance for the world to survive. For every loss of Dark, there must be an equal loss of Light, or the universe would die and all the stars would rain down from the heavens. Why couldn’t they see?
By day, I’m a consultant in technical communication and localization. By night, I write poetry, play with my dogs, have adventures with my awesome husband Dave, and often play board games with my grown stepkids and their SOs.
Business website: www.comgenesis.com