2013- Challenge 3 – A rewritten fairy tale.

Snow White and the 7 dwarves who was a prophet.

Prelude

Philippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim, better known as Paracelsus was born in 1493 and lived until 1541. Paracelcus is today best known as a source frequently cited by homeopaths – which is quite ironic since Paracelsus was the exact opposite – he was in every sense that mattered the father of modern, scientific medicine. Paracelsus was known for demanding that medicine be based on observation of nature and experimental testing in a time when deeming such things to be of more value than ancient texts was considered extremely revolutionary. Indeed his chosen Latin name meant “Above Celsus” – Celsus having been one of the greatest of Roman doctor’s, often credited with inventing sutures . Calling yourself “above Celsus” in the 1500s was the ultimate arrogance – we would call it the essence of science – proving the great authority wrong.

Paracelsus, in other words, would have been rather disgusted by the people who cite his writing today – as they are doing the very same thing he spent his life fighting against. He is remembered among scientists and doctors for his phenomenal successes – among other things, he invented chemotherapy.

Not so widely known, and in fact widely (and deliberately) believed to be a myth is his discovery of the rather unique properties of a powder prepared from the root of a rare Alpine flower. Among the select few who know what those properties are, it is known as “Bombastium”.

* * * * * *

New York, Present Day

It was dark, a few small lines of sunlight penetrated rust holes in the high corrugated metal roof, stabbing through the darkness and painting small patches of yellow on the concrete floor. There were strange shapes around, old pieces of abandoned equipment painting monster shapes of black in the darkness, and in the middle of it all, on the cold hard floor – a girl. Her hands and ankles tied with cable-ties, her mouth gagged. A black eye testified that whoever had left her like this had been quite ready to get rough. She was barely conscious. A shifting shadow in the dark told her that her assailant was still moving around.

She heard him walking over to her, standing above her, and heard the sound of a pistol being cocked. She tensed up, sobbing through the gag, sure she was about to die. She heard the crack of the shot – and watched as the man’s brains sprayed out of his exploding head in a cloud of pinkish-gray splatter that rained down on her. He fell headlong over her – behind her gag she screamed and screamed.

Somebody yanked the body off of her. “Looks like I got here just in time” said a kindly voice, “come with me if you want to live”.

A pocket knife was clipped open, the cable-ties cut and the stranger helped her to her feet, and half carried her out. Helped her into a car and drove away with her. After everything, overwhelmed by the idea of still being alive… she fell into a deep and dreamless sleep.

When she woke she was lying on clean sheets under a white blanked. The same voice she’d heard earlier said: “You’re safe now, but there is much I need to tell you. If you’re feeling strong enough, much of what I must say will sound unbelievable Shaniqua, we can wait a while if you need more rest. I wish I could say as long as you want – but time is against us.”

Who are you ? Who was that man? What did he want with me ?” – a million questions were dancing around Shaniqua Smith’s brain – but those three manage to get to her vocal cords first.

That man was a hired assassin, paid to murder you – and make it look like a kidnapping gone wrong. Who I am… that’s a much longer story, but one I think I must tell you. My name is Sarah McCalister.”

That name, it sounds very familiar”

It would, I’m a best-selling author after all. I am also a crack shot – as you saw, and I am member of the secret order of the Bombastium Prophets. The latter two – are why you are still alive my dear.”

This some sort of secret society for people who write children’s books ?”

Not children’s books – fairy tales, there’s a difference, though it suits us that most people no longer know that. Let me start at the beginning. Just listen for now please.”

In 1536 a great doctor by the name of Paracelsus discovered that if you mixed a certain rare root with some other chemicals it produced a drug we now called Bombastium. Outside our halls it’s occasionally been closely replicated and deemed just another hallucinogen. But it’s a lot more than that. Today those few scientists who are among our membership and study it, use words like quantum superpositioning of the neural particles to try and explain it – Paracelsus of course hadn’t known words like that- he just knew what it did: it allowed you to see glimpses of the future. These glimpses were not the kind of made up stuff that we call fortune telling – they are exact, you can place the time and the people’s identities – because they are real. Of course, you often cannot fully understand them but that’s because they tend to be filled with technology not yet invented in the time of the viewer. Paracelsus realized this, and knew they had to be preserved so that people closer to the time of these prophesies could reinterpret them, understand them – and do something about them. In those days however, the Catholic church ruled all of Europe – fortune telling was a crime, and while it was widely practised it was absolutely impossible for somebody to do it, and record it, on the scale needed without being caught and likely executed for witch-craft.

So Paracelsus created a secret society – made up of a select group of people who would study the prophesies and then study them, passing them along over the years until they could be made sense off. But how to hide them all – so that they could never be found by anybody outside the society ?

Paracelsus and the other founders came up with a brilliant idea – they would hide the prophesies in plain sight. They created an intricate code where mythical beings represented various things – which could gradually expand as needed -and hid the prophesies in stories that featured these beings, the code is much more elaborate than that and each prophesy included the date, time, place and at least some names hidden in the plot, but some of it is simpler. The world came to know their fantastic stories as “fairy tales” and they became quite a hit, many non-members would write in similar styles – and this suited our purposes because only we could tell the prophesies from the mere stories – we had the list of people who have been, or are, members. Some of the early members included two brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm from Germany and a in the 1800′s a Dane called Hans Christian Anderson. Today they include me – though I cannot tell you the names of any other living members, but a recent one included J.R.R. Tolkien.

To give you an example, the code for a captain of industry is “dragon”. Those CEO types hoard money, dragons sleep on a hoard of treasure. CEO’s cause pollution – dragons filled the air with smoke. CEO’s have the power to fire people… so do dragons. In this manner we could sneak our prophesies through the centuries, and never would anybody know their true meaning.

What I am telling you now, is what we call a level 3 initiation. There are 4 levels of knowledge of our organisation. Level 1 is where almost the entire human race falls – knowing nothing of who we are or that there is anything more to these tales than mere flights of fancy. Level 2 is for those who are recruited to becoming possible members, a level 2 is given a very limited set of knowledge about us, and then monitored over several years – if they show the right commitment and dedication to keeping the secret, they may become members and reach level 4 – where you know all about us, and we keep no more secrets from you. Level 3 is for people like you. Special people.

Why am I so special” Shaniqua interjected, there was a lot of disbelief in her eyes but she was trying to be polite to this woman who had, after all, recently saved her life.

Some prophesies have more than one possible outcome, and usually only one that is good – somebody important who has to live through it because the future with them is much better than without them. Something bad will happen to them – and we must help them. The code for people like that is “princess”. Whenever a princess appears in one of our fairy tales – it means somebody we must help survive the events encoded in the story. Most of the time – we work behind the scenes, very few of the real people who became our princesses ever know we exist. But in a rare few cases – somebody is so important to the future and the danger they face so incredibly grave that we must directly intervene, reveal who we are, and help them. The code for the society itself is “dwarf” – dwarves in our stories are actions we must take when the prophecy comes to pass – and there is a code which says that we can only succeed if we allow the princes to know who we are. The code for that… is the number 7.

Wait… 7 dwarves ? You mean like Snow White ?”

Yes, you Shaniqua – are snow white. I am the seven dwarves. The one chosen to protect you now that the prophecy is happening.

But I’m black ! “

It’s a code Shaniqua, there are half a dozen other hidden clues in the first paragraph alone – you weren’t hard to identify.

I also don’t have a stepmother”.

Another code, stepmother merely means somebody with great power – and very evil intentions. Somebody wants you dead Shaniqua. As the prophecy predicted they started by sending a hired gun to ‘rip out your heart for them to eat’, and as the prophecy told me to – the seven dwarves were there to save you and hide you.

So they are going to keep coming then ? Poison me ?”

I’ve told you all I can of the codes, more would betray my oath – but yes – they will know you were rescued, they will keep looking for you until we defeat them. My job is to make sure that doesn’t happen. To make sure you live through this. I know what’s coming – most of it anyway, I just wish I knew the identity of the stepmother here. Somebody who thought it would look believable to make it seem you died in a botched kidnapping – who felt that would allay suspicion from them is all I could determine so far. Unfortunately when the brothers first had this prophecy they could not see enough to determine the identity of whoever wants you dead. Do you have any idea Shaniqua ?

I’m a 17 year old black girl from the Bronx, I live in a housing project full of crackheads. I got good grades but I won’t be able to go to college unless I manage to get a scholarship. People die in my ‘hood all the time, there isn’t usually much conspiracy around it.”

I know, you’re special though – something very important about your future, and somebody right now who really wants you dead and who will inadvertently derail that future unless we stop them. You don’t speak like a black girl from the Bronx though, no ebonics ?

My mom was an activist during the civil rights movement, she wanted me to be able to speak like Booker T. Washington and Martin Luther King Junior – she made sure I did, I can speak ebonics and I do on the street, but I can talk like you too.”

Good girl. Get some more rest Shaniqua. We should have a few more hours before things get hairy again. You should get some of your strength back.

You know this whole fairy tale thing is fucking crazy right ? I’m grateful to you for saving me and all… but what the fuck ? You take drugs and make up stories and think they the future ? Whatever else I may be – I aint no Snow White.”

Sweetie, that’s exactly what every princess we’ve ever rescued has said, at least the ones who knew about us. You don’t have to believe me, I told you as much truth as I could because the prophecy told me that if I didn’t I would not be able to save you, that is very rare – most princesses never know we exist. You need to know this, I don’t know why – the prophecy doesn’t say why you have to live, only that you have to live and that the member who saves you have to tell you who we are and why we save you. I am guessing, you’re destined to be a future member, but that’s just an educated guess.

Right now, I don’t care if you believe me or if you think I’m insane or a junkie… I just need to keep you alive until the danger has passed. I’m going to do that or die trying. That much at least, you can rely on.

Well, you have saved my life once… I guess… well I guess you deserve to be trusted – for a while at least.”

* * * * * *

 

Esse you better start talking, I can do dis all day” said Hector Ramirez angrily, and swung again – the heavy sandbag smashed against Errol Darling’s face making a sickening crack as a tortured cheekbone finally cracked under the onslaught.

I told you -I don’t know. I am just a hotel valet, paid to park cars.”

You parked that mercedes, and it hasn’t been seen since. We want that car back, and you better give us something Esse or I will smash your skull with this thing… bit by bit. It aint a fun way to die you little nigger bitch.”

Errol’s head sagged.

Okay, I parked a mercedes last night, I remember it because it was bright red – not many mercs are that colour, I just parked it and went back to the lobby for the next customer, handed the key to the front desk girl, Shaniqua, she works there after school.”

You lying Esse” shouted Hector and the back made contact again, leaving a visible dent as the cheekbone cracked further. “We know the front desk girl and you were working together – we know you stole the car, we know you were after the stuff. We already got the girl, one of you is going to tell us what you did with the car – the other one is going to die.”

Errol wept, his plans were falling apart, so he did what scumbags always do when the wind turns – he threw an innocent person under the bus to try and save his own hide.

Yes, fine, we worked together. We put the key under the wrong number – and had it picked up by the people who paid us. They’d told us which car and where.”

Who was it ? Who paid you ?”

Saliviera.”

That bastard Colombian son of a bitch.” said Ramirez, “we buy the stuff from him, he steals it back – we pay him and he sells it again. Fucking bitch – and you nigger – you small fry, you and that girl, you just thought easy score – helping him steal the car with the stuff he just sold me. You both dead. That’s what happens when you mess with me.”

Ramirez pulled a gun out, put it against the sobbing Error’s head – and pulled the trigger. Then he pulled out a cellphone and dialled a number.

It was that bitch Saliviera – he stole his own stuff back. We gonna get some revenge. But the puta couldn’t have picked it up himself – he was upstairs in the room with me taking my money. He’d have sent a driver. We find that driver – we get the stuff back first, then we make Saliviera pay for double-crossing us. Find the fucker who killed Da Silva, find the girl, find out who the driver was – she is the only one who saw him – make her talk – hard and fast… and get my fucking stuff back ! “ he shouted.

As he slammed down the phone, the message got repeated among several street soldiers of the Ramirez cocaine ring, one of the largest distributors of crack cocaine in New York, the search was on, and it was only a matter of time before they found somebody who had seen the car Shaniqua had left in and tracked her down, none of them knew that the school girl who had worked the front desk had never known that Errol gave her the wrong tag for the Mercedes and that the man she handed the keys to – had not been the one who had brought the car to the hotel that night to conclude payment on a major drug deal.

* * * * * *

Shaniqua woke up again some time later, Sarah was shaking her awake. “Time’s up – I got a call just now. People asking about me – trying to track my car. Our enemies are on the move.”

So what do we do now ? Run ?”

Oh no – in fact, I had my friend get a sudden flash of memory – and tell the askers my address. We should have company very soon.”

Why would you do that ?”

I can’t hide you forever, the prophecy was clear on that. We’re going to have to fight. Snow White has to get visited by the evil stepmother… and the dwarves have to keep her alive. I’ve called in some friends, they are here already – we’re armed, and we’re locking this place down. When the bad guys show up – we’re taking them down, now we just need to keep you safe. You have to swear to me you will stay in this room. Don’t come out, no matter what. We’ll keep them from getting her.”

Twenty minutes later a number of cars parked in front of Sarah McCalisters suburban home in Westchester, just outside of New York City. A dozen Latino men, members of the Ramirez gang ran around the house then busted through the doors. As they did so, hails of gunfire greeted them in every room they entered. The people defending the house had taken cover positions, and were firing on surprised gang members in the open – it was a short and brutal fight, the police would later call it vigilant action by the neighbourhood watch in defending a famous author during a home invasion. It was complete and utter bullshit – but nobody was sad to see the Ramirez gang lose half it’s soldiers. One person had stayed in his car however, the gang leader is never in the firefight. Ramirez was waiting for his men.

Sarah MccCalister had not been in the firefight either. She was in the upstairs bedroom, and she was looking at Ramirez through scope of an expensive sniper rifle. When she pulled the trigger and his head exploded under the soft-point bullet, she knew that Shaniqua was safe now – the people who wanted her dead, were all dead themselves.

It was all over in a matter of minutes. With a smile of satisfaction she walked back to the room where Shaniqua was hiding, opened the door and went in. Shaniqua was lying on the floor, a pool of blood under her head. She checked and found a pulse, and breathing so she called one of her friends and they grabbed Shaniqua and loaded her in a car and rushed her to the hospital while the sound of sirens told them the police had been called by some neighbour hearing a lot of gunshots.

* * * * * *

Sarah McCalister sat in the waiting room, drinking horrible coffee out of a plastic cup. She’d spent hours in the police station as they dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s and then walked out uncharged. Her home had been invaded and she’d defended herself, along with the local neighbourhood watch. It was all perfectly legal and where there were some gray areas that story was one no jury would convict on.

Sometimes it was hard to do the right thing under the radar, but it helped when the bad guys were people the police were only too happy to see dead.

The doctor walked in, he was an Indian man in his early fourties. “You’re Miss McCalister ? You brought the girl in ?”

Yes, how is she ?”

I need to talk to her family.”

I’ve contacted them, they are on their way.”

Thank you, you saved her life – if she’d been here any later she would have bled to death.”

She’s alive ? Thank God.”

There’s bad news, the bullet that hit her missed her brain – but it ruptured her meninges, the protective sheet around the brain. She bled a lot from there, and her brain suffered some damage because with all that bleeding it couldn’t get enough oxygen. She’s in a coma.”

Will she recover ? “

It’s impossible to say – this kind of injury, some people recover, some never do, some do only after several years. But I think the odds are in her favour, for now at least, I have hope that she’ll wake up – eventually.”

Thank you Doctor.”

They exchanged a last few pleasantries, and then the doctor left, knowing he would soon have to repeat the speech to Shaniqua’s family. Sarah McCalister walked to her car in silence, sat behind the wheel and finally spoke to herself.

Fucking hell. I had really hoped I could avoid that part of the prophecy. A fucking stray bullet. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Sometimes I hate knowing the future.”

She shook her head a few times, then looked back toward the hospital. “Sleep it off kid, prophecy says Snow White wakes up eventually. You’re the most important princess of them all. Without you – there is no future at all. Sleep it off.”

Then she put the car in gear, and drove thoughtfully into the New York dawn after the busiest night of her life, and one of the most important nights in the history of the Society of the Bombastium Prophets.

2013 – Challenge 2 – The day the world went mad

This was Tenochtitlan*, the largest city in the empire. The heart and soul of it. A large pyramid filled the skyline, and around it the markets bustled with life. She’d been waiting her entire life to see it, growing up in one of the farming towns that scattered the rest of the empire.

At noon there would be a meeting around the pyramid, and the annual sacrifice to appease the gods and beg for a fruitful harvest. She’d come, because the honor of dying for the survival of her people had falle on her second son. She’d come to honor him, bid him goodbye, wish him strength in his heroic sacrifice. She’d come, because she was an Aztec mother, and it was what you did.

Her husband was back on the farm, tending the crops – somebody had to – and watching the younger children while she was away. Aztec women didn’t often travel, when they did, it was usually for the same reason as herself. It was a momentous day for her and she marveled at the sights before her.

As noon drew nearer, the people began to file into the area around the pyramid, as the mother of the sacrifice she would gain a place of honor at the front from where she could watch over her child in his final days. It was her village’s turn to send forth a sacrifice, and her son had drawn the lot, and stoically he had accepted it – recognized that it was for the good of all Aztecs, for the empire, and for his family.

As the son reached it’s zenith her son was brought forth, the chains were there – as always in case the sacrifice got second thoughts – but her son walked with the pride of a warrior and without fear of death. She smiled at him. Before he could reach the altar however – a trumpet call interrupted the proceedings and a man was rushed up the steps of the pyramid where he entered into conversation with the priest. Only the most important messengers would be allowed to interrupt this service she knew, so she pricked her ears and from her position at the front, she heard the words.

“Strangers had landed on the beach to the East, they had strange boats with large cloths on them that rode by the wind like wings. There were many of them, and they were armed.”

The high priest nodded: “We will send an emissary to meet with them.”

On the beach, far away, the man known as Hernando Cortez looked at the land before him: “All this will be ours. For glory. For gold. For Spain.”

Postscript:

The arrival of Cortez in 1519 was not an event whose effects would have been immediately obvious to the average Aztec citizen – but it was the event that would alter their world forever. Under Cortez’s brutal heel (and with alliance from their smaller enemies) the Aztec empire would be brutally slaughtered before being finally conquered with the capture of Tenochtitlan in 1521. Most of the concepts of how families dealt with the Aztec sacrifices are my own imagination – the common view that they were violent kidnappings is certainly also possible but to my mind there is no proof either way, and this seems like an approach more likely to produce an empire that was stable for many centuries as the Aztecs were. So is the date of the sacrifice coinciding approximately with the landing of Cortez. These are fiction, however what is definite fact is that 1519 was the last year the Aztecs had an annual sacrifice. As Cortez’s cruel armies marched across their lands – the Aztecs responded with the only thing they knew – begging their gods for release and sacrificing to appease them. Archeological evidence shows a steady one-sacrifice per annum for hundreds of years until 1519, then in 1519 several hundred people were sacrificed, in 1520 it was over a thousand – and it remained that high until the final destruction of their empire the next year. It is quite likely that the large numbers sacrificed in these desperate times may no longer have been limited to volunteers – perhaps the cruel kidnappings only started because of Cortez.

That said the nearly 4000 people sacrificed between 1519 and 1521 was less than 1 percent of what Cortez’s armies slew in their conquest, and even that number was barely 10 percent of the Aztecs who died from smallpox which the Spanish brought to their shores.

 

*Capital of the Aztec empire, located near the modern day Mexico City.

2013 – First Challenge: The picture on the mantel

It wasn’t so much the picture on the mantle that drew me in in the first place, but the actual mantle itself. The slick silkiness of the feel of the wood; the rich shadings of brown of the wood itself. It just called out to be touched, and willing I ran my hand along its surface.

That is when I found the picture, after running over it while caressing the top of the mantle. It had no frame, and was face down. I thin slip of paper, old and yellowing so that from a distance it actually seemed to blend in to the mantle’s top. It was so old, thin and light that I nearly swept it in to the air with my caress and had to make a frantic grab for it.

I turned it over. I drank in its faded colours; the squiggly shapes; the curly, broken, childish script. I listened to its soft whispers of love and happiness and family and joy and comfort and security…of a bygone era from some unknown life; and it soothed my fractured bitter soul in a most unexpected way.

I looked up as the sales agent came in. Before they could utter a word, I simply grinned like a fool as I confidently stated: “I will take it.”

2013 – First Challenge: The picture on the mantle

Author’s note: I recommend listening to Slipknot’s Wait and bleed while reading this.

Present day

She walked through the ashes, a part of her wondering why after all this time, this was where she came first. The house had been abandoned all this time, and nobody had bought the property. In small towns, scandals tend to stick – nobody wanted to live here now. Then again, when she had lived here, before the crumbling walls were soot-blackened, the roof missing and the windows turned into puddles of molten glass, she hadn’t wanted to live here either. She wondered if it had ever been a happy home, perhaps to some previous owners who had lived here before her. She rather doubted it. In her 24 years, she hadn’t actually seen a happy home yet, and the people she’d met in the past several had all hated the ones they came from.

8 Years ago

She was sitting in the courtroom, her large dark eyes cast downward, striking the picture of shock, sadness and innocence. Hardly reconcilable with the picture the prosecution had painted of a crazed young girl who had reacted to her situation with misplaced violence and deadly intentions. The judge had opted for the prosecution’s approach, considered the mitigating circumstances, and nevertheless sent her to jail for 10 years. He’d reduced the murder charges to manslaughter, and allowed her to serve the arson charges concurrently. In a way, he was lenient.

Present day

She made her way through the doorway to what had been her bedroom for sixteen years. Nothing much remained now. The little wooden bed with it’s pink covers had gone up in the flames. The small cupboard had followed suit. She ought to feel better about that. The things that had happened in that little bed were not happy memories. Somehow though, it’s destruction and with it the destruction of the causes of her unhappiness, had failed to heal any of the wounds. The bed was burned, the people cremated, but the memories unscathed. Fire cannot clean the inside of your mind.

4 years ago

“So you’re still a virgin then eh ?” Sally had said, “How did you manage that in this place, a cute girl like you, half the chicks around must have been wanting to pounce on you by now.”, she’d laughed, in this place you learned to laugh at the horror, lest it consume you. “A few tried, the last one got a broken nose and a shattered solar plexus.” she replied. “Well done that” her new cell-mate said after a few minutes, “but I gotta admit, I sort of see why it happens. No boys at all here, just each other… a pretty shitty place to finish puberty to my mind. So you just not interested then ?”. She was thoughtful for a moment, “I didn’t say that, but if there’s pouncing to be done, I’ll choose who and where. I never had that out there, I will be damned if I won’t have it in here.”  she responded haughtily. “I understand… well… er… if you ever felt like maybe choosing me, I would probably say yes…”. “I already did” she replied, and, for the first time in many years, she smiled.

Present day

She walked through to the remains of the kitchen. There was nothing left of it now but a few copper tubes were the wiring for the giant stove and the old washing machine had come through. Nothing left at all. Except, somehow, the lingering image of her mother long ago. Her mother standing in this kitchen, while the horrors happened, drowning the noises in bottles of cheap, white wine. She’d spent all these years in that place, meant to teach her why what she ended up doing wouldn’t solve anything. She had to admit, it hadn’t, on the other hand, that place for all it’s horrors, was better than this one had ever been.

1 week ago

She was sitting on her bunk holding the letter when Sally came in, sat behind her, and wrapped her arms around her. “What’s that you got there Sweety ?” she whispered close to her ear. She’d got up, pushed Sally off and handed her the letter wordlessly. Sally had read silently, and then got to the crux of it and read the final sentence aloud: “It is thus the decision of this committee that parole be granted on the date of September 6th”. For a moment Sally had sat in silence, then she’d ran forward and hugged her and said:” That’s great babes, you’re getting out ! I’m so happy for you. Soon, when it’s my turn – I’ll come find you !”. She shook her head: “No you won’t, I won’t wait. I can’t. I’m sorry. You’re the only thing I’ll miss about this place.”

Present day

She finally walked into what had been her parents bedroom. Fire can be strange, sometimes there are cold spots, apparently there had been one here. Against one wall, the mantle as still mostly intact barring a few blackened spots. A thick layer of dust covered it, and under it, remarkably after all these years lay something.  A trinket that nobody had bothered to take, or notice. Lying flat now, but it had once stood upright. She picked the picture frame up and looked at it. It showed a happy family. A smiling man with his arm around a beautiful woman holding a gorgeously cute little girl with curly hair and big dark eyes by the hand. It was, in short, the greatest lie she’d ever seen, and she’d had to look at it every day for 16 years. Her face scowled up in anger. The fire had destroyed it all, and yet this lie had survived, untouched for 8 long years. The anger boiled in her and then with all the strength she had she flung it against a crumbling wall where the frame cracked, the glass shattered and the faded picture floated gently down on the air.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2013 – First Challenge: The picture on the mantel

I stand alone in the empty room, taking in the sight. I am only vaguely aware of the deep red walls,

 

the white pillars and mantel. The overwhelming emptiness of the room consumes all, and I simply

 

stand there, taking in the barren beauty of this old house. A faint dust print remains above the

 

mantel. A painting hung there. A part of me wants to reach out, wipe it off, clean it, see the dark red

 

for all it is, uncorrupted, but I don’t reach out. I follow the dusty outline of where the painting was,

 

wondering what hung there. I somehow don’t remember.

 

I force my gaze away, looking through the barren unadorned windows to the sun-scorched earth

 

outside. I make a slow turn, taking in the room, trying to absorb as much of it into myself. It’s not

 

enough. I reach down and take off my sneakers and socks, stretching out my toes in the soft carpet

 

underfoot. I feel my lips tug into an irresistible whimsical grin. Tucking my socks into my shoes I

 

hook each into a finger and drift towards the door. I should have left it there. Smiled and gone on

 

shouldn’t I? However I end up here. At the mantel.

 

I pick up the overturned picture frame and somehow detached, I am vaguely aware my fingers are

 

shaking. My fingers, not my hands. I can feel each individual quiver. Freezing, I lay it back, face down

 

on the mantelpiece.

Weaponeyes

 The challenge was: write a poem where every line is taken from a song. This is my effort:

1 1
This is evolution: the monkey, the man then the gun Marilyn Manson – Fiction in Space
Maybe we could play another game ? Disturbed – The game
So tell me all about your problems I was killing before killing was cool MCR – Kill all your friends
The gun in my hand will tell you the same The Offspring – Bad Habit
2
Like a young girl in her prime Manowar – Hail and Kill
I’m bleeding me Metallica – Bleeding me
Don’t die before I do Rammstein – Stirbt Nicht vor Mir
I just got to break free Queen – Break Free

 

 

Assignment: An erotic radio script

I decided to do something a little different and went with a cheeky alternative radio ad :) Hope it manages to tweak a smile/snigger or two since the creative juices were not flowing particularly well for this :P

*      *     *      *      *

[sound or running water]

Sandy: God, I can’t wait to get this bath and soak.

Malcolm: Long day babe? [sound of champagne cork popping, and after a pause footsteps on tiled floor]

Sandy: Very. Boss was so snippy today. Everyone was walking on eggshells today. [water stops]

Malcolm: Well sipping on this should definitely help relax you!

Sandy: Cheers babe! [soft smooching sound followed by clinking of glasses]

Malcolm: Enjoy love. [sound of footsteps followed by closing of door]

[cabinet door opens, sounds of rummaging, cabinet door closes. Happy sigh as Sandy slides into bath]

Sandy: Champagne in a hot bubble bath! Only thing missing is chocolate and an orgasm! [sound of electric toothbrush switching on] And thankfully I can fix one of those! [sounds of small breathy sighs and moans]

Third voice cheekily stating: A good toothbrush doesn’t only have to be great friends with your mouth!

Assignment: An erotic radio script

[Sound of a key turning in a lock, door swinging open]

Danny: [calling out from far-off] “Sally, where are you ? Come help me with this stuff.” [loud noises of groceries clattering down], “Damnit… where are you”

[Moaning noises nearby, mixed with the sounds of a washing machine]

Danny: [in the room now] “Sally… what the fuck ?”

Sally: [Stops moaning] “Erm ah, I’ll er… talk to you in a minute okay” [gasps and then gives a few more heartfelt moans until she finishes her orgasm"

Danny: "You just... masturbated by ... riding the washing machine ?

Sally: "It's got a great spin cycle okay"

Danny: "Don't I satisfy you ? Do you need this ?"

Sally: "Excuse me mister, but I don't ask you that when you're watching lesbian mudwrestling with a bottle of MY handlotion".

Danny: "Fair point... I think"

Sally: "Anyway... fun as that is, it only makes me want you more." [sound of a zipper sliding down]

Danny: “Oh now this is looking more interesting”

Sally: “Shut up and fuck my face [sloppy blowjob noises follow]”

Danny: “Damn girl, you sure know how to do this”

Sally: [purring voice] “Damn that was yummy…”

Danny: “You are stopping already ?”

Sally: “That was just the foreplay baby… now I want to ride your face – and then…”

Danny: “My aren’t we demanding today ?” [laughs]

Sally: “Boy… if you’re tongue is talking, it aint licking… so I don’t want to hear any more words” [licking sounds gradually muffled out by ever louder orgasms]

[Sound of the door opening in the distance]

Pete: [typical annoyed toddler voice] “Aww mom ! Eeewww. It’s school holidays… can’t you two at least fuck in the bedroom like normal parents ?”

Flash Fiction: The Alley

The alley was littered with junk. Empty beer bottles, used condoms and old platic bags.
The leftovers of the human condition shaking in the breeze.
The girl’s body against the wall. A pale glow in the moonlight. Naked. Bloodstained.
Dead. Smiling.

“Looks like she died happy sarge.” said the deputy.
“Probably drugs” replied the sargeant, “better get forensics down here to check for
semen. So young… What a fucking waste. ”
“3 now sarge. Serial killer ?”
“The papers think so… They may be right. I hope we find some sign of sex or rape.”
“why sarge ?”
“because we never have before… Because it would mean its somebody new, not a serial
killer.”

As the hours wore on more cops came. Chalk lines were drawn. The body removed.
Yellow tape put up… The dawn painted the scene red and robbed it off its ominous
mystery. Only gruesomeness remained. Nobody ever shined a blacklight on the far wall
meters away.
The message written there remained unread.

“call the spirit. Give yourself to him. It is better to die in a moment of bliss than life a
lifetime of misery.

THE END.

Assignment 12: Why am I happy to be here and now.

If my thirty-two years on this planet have taught me anything it’s that happiness is a rare and precious thing that comes in small quantities and only ever comes from the inside out. You cannot inflict happiness on somebody, nor can you give it to them.

You can give somebody something to be happy about – but only they can actually choose to be happy about it. So I suppose I am happy with where I am in my life right now – because I choose to be. I choose to live a life that makes me happy. I choose to surround myself with people who inspire and excite and accept me. I choose to mingle with people who I can find joy in.

I choose to love somebody whose grace and wonder and beauty astounds me every second we’re together. Who fits me. Who connects with me. Who shares my deepest secrets, and my proudest achievements.

I choose happiness. Every moment, I choose to see that which, in this moment, I can be happy about. That is why I am happy with my life. That is why I am happy to be here, where I am, right now – because I choose to be.

There is much in life we cannot choose. We cannot choose our race, our sexual orientation, our personality. We cannot choose where we are born and how wealthy our parents are. We cannot choose to be privileged or denied. Contrary to what conservatives love to tell us -many of us cannot even choose to change their circumstances because that requires means which not everybody has.

But we can choose to be happy. That does not mean you forgo self-improvement. It does not mean stagnating. It doesn’t mean blind optimism or annoying bubble-blowing platitudes. It simply means, at each moment, finding that which you can be happy about – even if sometimes that is simply “what you hope this moment may lead to tomorrow”.