Saturday, 27 August 2016

Fire Starter

Chuck gave this great link to a wonderful and weird site of odd idioms gone nuts. Well, we got to pick one out of many, many great ones. I picked out 'Great Minds Can Start A Great Fire'. And boy! Did I start a great fire!!! 


With her hands out hovering over the kindling, Steph opened her mind, “This has to work!” she shivered as the night’s cold air chilled through her clothes, “Come on!”
Her hands shook as a glow emitted from them – but it wasn’t enough to make the fire ignite; and she swore as the tiniest puff of smoke filtered between the twigs and vanished with the next breeze, “Oh, fuck it!” she pulled out a box of matches from her pocket and struck the side of the box, grumbling, “I used to be able to do this fuckin’ shit.”
“Hey Steph… how’s tricks?” Owen sat next to her as she blew on the small flame and added to it until she had a nice fire going.
Pocketing the matches, she sniffed, “I still can’t get the damned thing going without matches… I used to do this with my hands and my mind.”
“I know.” He reached out to sooth her shoulder with his hand, but thought better of it. She could still give out a fairly solid jolt to anyone standing nearby without touching them if she was pissed off enough – but lighting a fire? – that was something completely different, “Wish I could help you with that… but like the Professor said, it’ll happen you least expect it.”
She looked over her shoulder at him, “He also said to keep practicing, but no matter what happens, no matter how much I do, I find that I just can’t get in and light a basic camp fire.” Holding out her right hand, she made a gesture at the flames as though she was grabbing a handful of it, and some of it separated from the blaze itself and moved – crackling – into the palm of her hand, “This? This I can do without thinking.”
Owen’s eyes widened, “Woah! That’s too cool! Freaky as shit, but too cool!” he hesitated, “Wait…” he shuffled around to her side, holding his hands around the flames and – before her eyes – turned the flames, as they were licking the air, into a solid sculpture of ice, “How’s that for fun!” taking it from her possession, he held it in his hands; knowing she’d never touch it.
“Good show, Owen.” The Professor’s voice said behind him, “Great signs of control and Stephanie, you’ve worked well with Owen for once. But don’t worry about your inability to start a fire with your mind – it’ll come. You’re not the first student in my care to stumble; nor will you be the last.” He smiled, “Now, it’s time to come in, it’s almost curfew.”

Weeks passed by and all the students studied hard, worked on their special skills and Steph still found lighting a fire difficult. She wished she could figure out why it was so hard for her; and yet so easy for everyone else.

Even Owen was adapting to his abilities and she barely saw him anymore.

She walked into her room one afternoon and found she had a new room-mate looking through her things. Slamming the door closed, she watched with glee as the new person turned, starting at the noise, “Hi. So nice to know that I can trust another strange weirdo to go through my things.”
“I’m sorry, I thought to figure out who you were before you came back… I find it easier.” The young girl said; she couldn’t have been ten years old.
“Put my things down.” She fumed.
The girl dropped a book she was holding as though it burned her, it was smoking as it hit the floor. With tears filling her eyes, the pushed past Steph, “I’m sorry… I won’t do it again.”
Steph barely heard her as she knelt down and picked up the cooling book, opened it and found all the pages had turned to ashes, “I did it… I started a fire… but not quite.”

A week later, Steph went back out into her private place where she liked to be alone in the woods and tried to light another fire. She took the new roommate with her, “Okay, I found that when you handled my things, I became very angry with you… but I think it’s because we both think alike. I also like to go through people’s things to find out more about them… but I didn’t realise this until I looked at the book and found that it wasn’t my book.”
“Who’s book was it?” her companion asked.
She looked down at the girl, “Owen’s. He didn’t even know I took it until I told him yesterday. He was so mad at me that it burst into flames; and he normally freezes things.”
“Was it a personal book?”
“Yes, it was his journal, he thought he’d lost it.” Steph laughed, “I only took it because he’d come to me to see if I’d seen it.”
The little girl smiled, “Funny.”
“It is…”
“Stephanie?” the Professor’s voice said behind her, “Who are you talking to?”
She turned, “My new roommate…”
“You don’t have a roommate.” He walked up to her, “You were placed alone because your mind can join with another – you did that with Owen, but he had to leave.”
She smiled, “You connect other minds.”
“Many other minds…” she looked at him, “But you never connect with mine.”
“Why is that Professor?” she walked to him as he took a step backwards, “Why not connect with me – so we can connect with other great minds like ours – and we can…”
“No, please, don’t…”
“…start a great fire.”
She took his hand and … 

...the fire started in the surrounding forest...

…then it spread.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Rock'n'Roll Is The Devil's Music

Last week, Chuck had us making up sentences which were 15 words long. This week, we had to pick 3 of those sentences - our own choices - and make a flash fiction of 2,000 of any theme. I picked out:
'I said, drop the ukulele and put your hands on your head.' - Eric Goelbelbecker
'The smoke he exhaled curled to the ceiling and took the form of a naked woman.' - Susan K. Swords
'He limped up the stairs and leaned on her doorbell.' - Donald

Thank you all for your wonderful sentences... they were great! 


“I said, drop the ukulele and put your hands on your head.”  Lights flashed around against the darkened alley as he cornered the strange little offender at the end of it. Ray Boltano had been looking for a man who fitted this description for three weeks now; and yes, he had a ukulele, “On your knees now!”
“Please don’t hurt me, I’ll do anything you want.” His voice begged, “Just don’t lose my instrument; it’s all I have in the world.”
Ray pulled on a leather glove and picked the tiny guitar up by the neck, placed it into a clear evidence bag and zipped it up. He didn’t want to touch the damned thing because it was too damned clean… he’d never seen a guitar without marks of use on it; but this one had not a single one, “Come on, boys, head back to the precinct and check out this guy’s story."

The captain sighed as he turned the tiny guitar in the bag over in his hands, “Are you sure you have the right guy, Ray?”
“Jeez Louise, I hope so.” He sighed, “We’ve pulled in every person who owns one of these stupid things and none of them are as strangely-dressed as this one.
They looked through the two-way mirror at the man who was dressed in a dark green velvet suit. He was hand-cuffed to the table, and was quietly looking around the room, making sure he was alone. Then, he looked at the cuffs, pointed at them with his right index finger and they unlocked!
“Holy shit, we have the right guy!” Ray raced from the adjoining room, grabbing the engraved cuffs from his pocket as he did. He burst in to the room, jumped on the table and – quicker than the man could react – recuffed him to the table again. He removed the other normal handcuffs and put them in the bin, then kept his distance.
“Do you really think another set of cuffs will keep me?” his strong Irish accent mocked Ray as he pointed to the new set and found they stayed closed around his wrists, “What the Hell! What are…” he took a closer look at them and found they were engraved with symbols to keep him right where he was wanted, “You bastard! I have no magic with these on!”
Ray smiled, “I know. And now, I can interview you properly.” He opened the door a little, was handed the ukulele in the bag and showed it to him has he pulled the chair from across the table closer to the door and sat down on it, “And I’d rather sit over here so you don’t do some weird-ass mojo on me. Now, how long have you been alive?”
“Leprechauns live a long time.” He snorted.
“I know… I need to know your age, so I know your magic status.” He opened a folder with a thick collection of information inside and leaned it on his knee, “Age please … and a name would be good.”
“Aaww, shite. Okay, me name’s Shamus. I’m three hundred and fifty years old and have been using my ukulele for magicks for one hundred and fifty of those years.” He sighed, “I can’t believe I got caught.”
“It’s the twenty-first century, of course you got caught.” He muttered, “So, what do you do with your magicks?”
He pulled out an e-cigarette from his inside jacket and pulled on it, “You don’t mind if I vapor do you?”
“No, it’s not illegal in police stations yet; and it’s less messy.”
Shamus pulled on the device and the scent of lavender filled the room, as did the vapor. The smoke he exhaled curled up the ceiling and took the form of a naked woman – this was something Ray had to do a double-take at because he’d never seen somebody do this before, and it only stayed a moment or two before it dissipated, “I make women think they’re men are cheating on them in such a way, they end up killing them.” he chuckled, “I end up disappearing just as they come to their senses and you guys show up… and who would believe some woman yappin’ about a Leprechaun?”
It was then Ray realised who he had in custody. So many women had gone to prison because they had violently murdered their husbands, boyfriends and fianc├ęs – and they had all mentioned a man in a green suit who was there the whole time, telling them their nearest and dearest was being unfaithful, “I see. So, how does the ukulele come into play?”
“I have it playing over the phone when we start talking… but they barely hear it; so they don’t really notice it’s a spell I’m casting.” He said.
Ray glanced at the tiny instrument he had leaned up against the wall next to him in the bag, “So, if I was to play it, I could cast a spell?”
“No… yes… kind of.” He shrugged, “You have to have the gift of the gab.”
Dumping the file folder on the floor to his right, Ray picked up the evidence bag and looked at it. He didn’t know if Shamus was talking him into touching this thing by being negative about it – or he seriously was being honest about how it all worked, “Why doesn’t it show any age or use marks?”
“It’s magical… I cast spells with it.” He answered, “Just like these cuffs are magical and I can’t get out of them.”
“If I was to break or burn this ukulele, what would happen to you?”
“It’s not me you should be concerned about, Detective, it’s your own safety.” Shamus said.
“Well, seeing you’re handling the bag without gloves, you’ve already touched the instrument – even though it’s in a bag – and seeing it’s not destroyed you already, it shows it wants to connect with you.” The man in green said, “This means it’s finished with me and wants to work with you… if you’d notice what colour your suit is now, you’d understand.”
Ray looked down at his suit and found his dark grey, off-the-rack suit he’d worn that morning, had turned into the same green suit as Shamus’, “Oh my God!” Glaring up at the man, he growled, “What have you done to me!”
“Nothing, honest, I would never do something to you, because you are only doing your job, Detective. It’s the tiny instrument you have in your hands… and trust me, once it’s made its mind up, you cannot escape it.”
“But your suit is the same … it hasn’t changed… so it means I’m working for you.” Ray said.

From the two-way mirror, the Captain watched Ray as he began yelling at the empty chair in the room, “What’s wrong with Ray?”
The precinct psychiatrist watched on, “Who is he talking to?”
“We better get in there.”
They opened the door to find one of their finest, about to destroy a ukulele. But then, he stopped himself in mid-swing and looked at it, looked at the chair, “You’re asking me to take over your job?”
Shamus glanced at the two intruders, and back at him, “And be careful of these two – they can’t understand what a goldmine you’re onto; because if they find out how precious that little guitar is, they’ll want it too.”
Ray held the guitar close to his chest, “You can’t have it!”
“We don’t want it… and who are you talking to in here?”
“Shamus… he’s right there.” He pointed to the chair, “Can’t you see him?”
The Captain and the shrink looked at each other and back at him, “We let Shamus go over two hours ago. I don’t know who you’re talking to Ray, but your shift finished five hours ago, you should be at home sleeping.” The Captain said, “Take the little guitar home if you want to, it doesn’t bother us in the least. Shamus said he didn’t want it anymore anyway… he wanted to buy a new one.”
“It’s magical.” Ray said as he was led from the room and outside to a squad car where he was driven home.
There you go, Detective Boltano, “Now, sir, get some sleep, you’ll feel better tomorrow morning.”
“Yeah, better.” He walked up to the apartment building, let himself in and started up the stairs towards the third floor (the lifts still weren’t working).
“So, you’re out!” Shamus showed up at the end of the second corridor, “Wonderful! Your training starts now… play the song that’s been going around in your head since you left the station – don’t tell me you haven’t heard one; it's there.”
As he pulled the ukulele from the evidence bag, the music he’d heard whispering from it became louder. His fingers twitched and he started strumming the strings of the instrument as he walked along the corridor. One of the doors began to glow a bright yellow/gold colour in time with the music as he approached it, and with half-closed lids, he watched it as heard a fight behind it escalate. Ringing the doorbell, Ray heard it stop suddenly and the door open, “I heard noise, are you okay Ma’am?”
His voice sounded so even and ordinary compared to how he thought it would.
“She’s fine… bugger off!” the man shoved him, but Ray didn’t move. Instead, he pulled his piece and shot the man.
The woman screamed as her husband dropped to the floor, dead, “You murdered my husband, you monster!”
He smiled as he turned and walked away, “Just doing my job, Ma’am.”
Ray played the little guitar and worked over a few people in his building – by-passing his own place. Then he arrived to the tenth floor, where he was splattered in blood and limping because his football injury was giving him hell. The last one was a prostitute – a woman of the night – and it was wrong to have her in the building, “Just simply wrong.” He muttered as he limped up the stairs and leaned on her doorbell.
“Freeze! Put down the ukulele and put your hands on your head!”
“I’m just doing my job.” He turned and looked to find his old partner, Bill Richardson standing there.
“Ray, don’t make me do this, man. I said, drop the ukulele and put your hands on your head.”
“Come on, you’re not…”
"Last warning, Ray. I don't want to, but I will."
"We're partners, for God's sake." Ray begged.
"Correction: we were partners until you started killing people."
Ray took a few steps towards Bill, pulling his piece. Bill took no chances.

A shot rang out and Ray dropped the ukulele as he fell to the floor dead.
Bill knelt to the pick up the little guitar to find, a man in a green suit by his side, “It’s nice little instrument. Such a pity he thought it was magical.”
“Uh… yes.”
“Bill, just bag it and label it.” The Captain ordered as he tried to keep back the residents, “Jeez, we didn’t know it was Ray doing all this.” He turned and walked away, leaving Bill with the instrument in his hands.
Shamus showed up by his side again, “Now, we have work to do.”

Saturday, 6 August 2016

The Ring

Chuck has us mashing up a list of 20 prompts. We have to pick 2 from it and write a story in 2,000 words. I picked out 'Time Travel' and 'Parallel Universe'... 


“Where did you come from?” his voice was clean, educated and right in front of me in the darkness of the lane, “I repeat, dear heart, where did you come from? One moment, you were not there and the next, you were.”
I looked down at the plain gold ring on my finger, inset with a garnet quickly, “Um, I passed out, and just awoke.”
He stepped up closer and, after hearing a match lighting, I saw his face, “Oh I am so sorry, I didn’t know. Are you all right?” he offered me his other hand – gloved against the cold – to help me up.
“Yes, I think so.” I muttered taking his hand as he blew out the match.
“Step gingerly, dear heart, the cobbles aren’t even here.” His arm moved around my shoulder, my waist, making me feel safe and assured I wasn’t going to fall over, “You are wearing strange attire.”  
Looking around, I barely recognised the city I was in, that was until I saw the large copper hand and flame, “I’m in New York.” I muttered as his warm cloak was wrapped around me, “I’m okay, really.”
“I do not doubt you’re warm. However, it’s your clothing which will attract unwanted attention to your… um… your.” He gestured to my body and I looked down, “Do you understand?”
Pulling the long dark cloak around me, I nodded, “Yes, fully.”
“Now, please allow me to take you back to my house.” He offered his arm, which I laid my hand on it and we walked to his carriage across the road.
“How did you see me from all the way over here?” I asked.
“I didn’t. My dog jumped from the carriage and raced to you. He smelled you. He’s a hunting dog, but he’s also a protector.” He smiled.
At the carriage door, I hesitated. I was going home with a man who I didn’t know the name of in a strange city I had never been to, in a time I knew wasn’t mine, “Wait. I do not know your name, and I’m going home with you? A little bit too trusting of me, isn’t it?”
“Forgive me, please. In my haste, I forgot myself. My name is Franklin Joseph Ellison, from the Ellison’s of Maine. We are in the newspapers and railways here in New York City; having expanded from Maine to the south… but I doubt you’d be interested seeing we’re only a small company thus far.” He paused, “Your name, dear heart… I cannot keep calling you that.”
“Oh… Megan May Thompson. I’m sorry I don’t know my family history as much as you do.” I blushed, “I’m not from America.”
“Obviously, from your accent, you must be English.”
“No. I’m Australian.”
He hesitated, “Australian. I see. You must have had some money to travel here.”
“Some, but not enough to return home.” I said, “This doesn’t change anything, does it?”
“No, Miss Thompson, of course not.” His driver opened the door and Franklin climbed in, offered out his hand and I climbed in after him.

Over the next week, I learned so much about Franklin and his family. Even though he knew my story was a farce, he lied for me to his friends and even to his mother – who seemed to eat up whatever he told them. We attended dances and he permitted me to go shopping.

I loved this life!

However, I knew I had to return to my life in 2016. I was missing my computer, my television… everything I was so used to two centuries into the future. I looked my hands over at the ink all over them, rubbing at it as I had tried to use the ink well and pen that day.

“I’m not going to survive here.” I whispered as snow coated the roofs and footpaths surrounding our building, “I have to go home.”
“Megan?” Franklin’s voice whispered at the door of my room, “Are you all right, dear heart?” I loved it when he called me that. It was becoming so that I developing feelings for this wonderful man. In the semi-darkness, tears came to me quickly as I fidgeted with the ring on my finger, the ring I knew that if I took it off, I’d vanish from his life – just as I had vanished from 2016 a week ago. He hurried in, placing down his lamp on the nearby table and sat with me in his long, mahogany-coloured dressing gown, his hair messed up from sleeping, his features aware I needed to talk to somebody, “What is wrong?”
“Franklin, I don’t belong here. You know this… I know this.” I looked down at the ring, “It is the ring I wear which brought me here. I am homesick; and I’m in a time where there is no technology at all. There is no radio… no television… no computers…” I looked at him as I spoke and he gave me blank expression; an expression of not knowing any of those polyglot words, which were old, yet new, “I need to go home, back to my time.”
“I have an idea.” He smiled, his thumb moving away the tears from my left cheek, “In Philadelphia, there is a World’s Fair coming next week. I bought tickets to it and was going to surprise you with them.”
“World’s Fair? I’d love to go… see all those inventors.” I smiled, “It’ll be just the thing for me.”
“Right.” He kissed my hands, both my closed eyes then my wet cheeks, “We shall go in two days. It will take time to travel to New Jersey.” He rose and walked to the lamp.
“I have no papers for the border.” I said.
“Worry not of that.” He smiled, “I shall tell them you are my wife.”

The following week was so difficult. I couldn’t sleep, could barely eat and still felt as though I was in some kind of dream – that I had found a wonderful man in my life. Why was it that I had to jump time – centuries – to meet the man of my dreams, only to have to leave him? I often sat in the library with a book in my hands thinking about how I was going to tell him about this. He knew how unhappy I was, however I think he felt dreadful that I didn’t exactly know my way back home. After all, Franklin had given me everything I had ever wanted in my life. He bought me lovely dresses, shoes, hats and books (Oh! Did he buy books of all kinds!). he loved it that I was so educated and we could talk for hours on a subject without my mind wondering onto what he called ‘womanly things’ too much.

He also knew I needed to meet like-minded people.

We arrived in Philadelphia, staying in a gorgeous hotel and attended the World’s Fair. There were so many things on display with just as many inventors standing by them. The very first typewriter was there – as was its successor – which nobody knew how to use. I sat down at it and typed up a few lines to everyone’s amazement. It clacked so loudly and the audience cringed right up until the sound of the bell; at which point I looked up to find the inventor staring at me. Franklin was simply beaming – he knew that I knew things nobody else did. He knew I wasn’t from his time; as I had never lied to him about anything of my life from the very time he had found me in that lane.
“How did you know how to do that, Miss?” the man asked as Franklin assisted me from the very uncomfortable chair, “I have been trying to teach my daughter to use this thing and she hates it.”
I blushed, “I guess it’s just instinct. I felt the keys and knew what I wanted to type.”
Franklin smiled, “Can you make one? I shall buy it.”
The man grinned, “Yes! An original or a Qwerty?”
At this question, Franklin looked to me for the answer, “A Qwerty please… they are so much easier to use.”
Our time at the World’s Fair was wonderful! I felt as though I had a connection with every inventor there as we walked around perusing the place and enjoying each invention – which was the first time for Franklin, but was the birth of my technology in the future for me. It was wonderful to see this all on display at such a time when it was all still very new to the public – and Franklin bought as much of the new inventions for me as possible. There was the typewriter (which he wanted to learn to write on), the fountain pen, the wonderful and new vacuum cleaner, three large boxes of Hershey’s Chocolate Bars (which we nearly made ourselves sick on) and a movie projector (and yet we didn’t have anything to show on it).

On the way home, we passed the lane where he found me and I stopped the carriage, turned to him, “I want to show you some of my world – just for a minute.”
“If you feel it’s wrong, will you come back with me?” Franklin asked.
“Yes.” I smiled.
We stood in the lane with the carriage nearby. His arms were around me as I took the ring off and we were transported back to 2016 – back to my house – where I had put the ring on in the first place. Nothing had changed.
“Oh my god, what is that smell!” he pulled handkerchief from his pocket.
“My world.” I said, “Look outside.”
He walked to the window and saw how bad this world had become. Turning back to me, he shook his head, “How can you stay here? Why would you want to?”
“I was born in 1973 and I am past 40 years of age. Why would you wish to be with somebody who can no longer give you children?” I asked.
He walked to me, took my hands and kissed my forehead, “I do not care if you cannot give me children. All I care of is if you are in my life. Megan, please stay with me, this time please be my legal wife.”
“Oh, yes.” I smiled.
He took the ring from my hands and placed it on the third finger of my left hand as he held me close; and we found ourselves in the lane again. The carriage was waiting for us with the driver smoking his pipe, “Sir, you have been gone for hours. Thought you were not coming back.”
“I had to view Megan’s world.” He said, “We have made a decision.”
When we arrived back to the house, I sat down immediately and wrote a letter with my new fountain pen. I posted it off to Australia the next day.

‘25th, May, 1895
Dear Gabriel,

I am writing this to you because you will be the only one who will understand and believe me. Do you remember that strange ring our late Uncle left me with a note that it was a time-traveling ring? It has a garnet set in gold – it doesn’t look like much.

I put it on a few weeks ago and ended up in 1895.

I met somebody here and spent a few weeks here enjoying his company. We attended the World’s Fair in Philadelphia and he bought me so many grand things to use! I saw the first typewriter ever! So very cool! I wish I could speak to you again… we would have so much to talk of.

Let Mum and Dad know I’m doing well – very well – as Franklin is from a good family and said he will care for me. We are marrying in three weeks from this date (look it up on Google and you’ll find me).

Love to you all.


25th, May, 2016 – There was a knock at the door of Megan’s brother, who lived at Brighton in Brisbane, Australia. He answered it and there was a lawyer standing there with a box, a key and a typewriter in its container. The lawyer introduced himself with identification and asked to come in. After sitting down at the table with the family, he pulled a letter out of his briefcase.
“Megan penned another letter to you, Gabe.” He said, “This one was longer and is more detailed.”
“What’s the rest of this stuff?” he asked.
“Well, Megan passed away just after the Great Depression. She and Franklin had no children to speak of and so in her Will, she said she’d like to leave her most prized belongings to her brother and his family.” He pushed the box across the table, “There’s about five unpublished books in there. The key is to a storage place in New York City where her book collection is kept. And this typewriter was the first commissioned typewriter from the inventor of the very thing. Franklin ordered it at the World’s Fair for her to use for her books – along with other things on the day they went.”
“My god, she really did go back there.” He said.
“And she wanted to give her ring to you and your wife as well.” He said, “She claims in her Will it doesn’t make one travel through time anymore; but be careful – it just might.” He placed a metal ring box on the table, “If I was you, I wouldn’t even try it.”
Gabe picked up the box, looked at it, then opened it to find it gone! Looking up at his wife, he whispered, "Where's Riley?" 
Riley stood in her bedroom gazing down at her Aunt Megan's ring, glanced up at her dresser mirror and smiled, "Aunt Megan, here I come!"