Kreative Kue 183

Kreative Kue 182asked for submissions based on this photograph:

My thanks to John W Howell, author of the John Cannon trilogy of My GRL, His Revenge, Our Justice and Circumstances of Childhood, co-author of The Contract, and who blogs at Fiction Favorites, who sent:

Camouflage by John W. Howell © 2018

“Sush, someones coming.”

“I don’t hear anyone.”

“I have this super sense of hearing. Trust me. Stop chewing that gum.”

“How did you know I had gum in my mouth. I barely chewed it.”

“I could hear your molars coming together. If I can hear them so can they.”

“Okay, then. I’ll spit it out.”

“No don’t. The sound of you spitting can carry for miles.”

“For you maybe. How many people do you think have your hearing sensitivity.”

“You want to take a chance there is one?”

“You make a good point. I’ll not chew.”

“Thank you very much. Can you hold your breath?”

“Oh, for heaven’s sake. Now you are going too far.”

“Sush. Your blabbing is going to get us killed.”

“You really think those folks are going to kill us?”

“Do you know what they do to others like us?”

“No, I can’t say I do.”

“I have heard sometimes they cut off your skin while you are alive.”

“My God. That is horrible.”

“Also they put you in hot water after cutting you in half.”

“In half. That’s barbaric.”

“One guy told me, and he swears it’s true that he witnessed a group being drawn and quartered.”

“Okay, I’ll stop breathing. How close are they?”

“I can hear their young ones screaming as they run ahead.”

“Why do they do that?”

“I don’t know I think they use their young to draw fire in case of an ambush.”

“So how close?”

“A few hundred feet. They are also carrying baskets.”

“Baskets what the hell for?”

“Prisoners. Those they don’t kill and eat immediately they take as prisoners to torture and kill later.”

“I think I’m going to cry.”

“They could miss us if we keep quiet. Who knows, they may be more into those poor apples in the next forest. If so we will be spared.”

“Where are they now?”

“I think they are going for the apples.”

“Thank God. We pears live another day.”

“Yeah, they are hitting the apples. I can hear them screaming. We dodged the bullet today. Long live the pears.”

“Long live the pears.”

“Sush. Whisper. The hairless apes could still find us.”

 


My effort was:

Jingly bells

“You know, Jimmy, I can’t look at that tree without thinking of my favourite TV programme from when we were young.”

“When we were young? How long ago was that then, Eth?”

“Ooh, I don’t know. A very long time ago. Back in the days when we were bringing up the children.”

“Don’t I always tell you, Eth? You shouldn’t have eaten them.”

“Yes, you do, Jimmy. And I always laugh, don’t I?”

“That’s what I love about you, Eth. Always have. You know my jokes aren’t funny, but you laugh at them anyway.”

“That’s because I love you, you daft old fool, and I know it makes you happy. That’s why I do it.”

“Anyway, what’s this television programme?”

“You know – the one with whatsisname… Calloway in it.”

“Cab Calloway? Him as did Minnie the Moocha? That’d be the Blues Brothers, I’ll be bound, except that was a film, not a telly programme.”

“No, not him. Ooh. I know. Butch Cassidy.”

“That’ wasn’t a programme, either, Eth. That was a film, too. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Coupla bloody eejits riding around on bikes singing about raindrops. Bit soft, if you ask me.”

“No, not that, either. There was a bunch of them. A whole family.”

“I know. Brady Bunch. Goodnight, Elllie-May, goodnight Bo.”

“You silly old bugger, Jimmy. That’s a bit of The Waltons, a bit of The Beverley Hillbillies and a bit of Dukes of Hazzard.”

“Well, you know what I mean.”

“Shall I tell you the saddest thing, my love?”

“What’s that?”

“The saddest thing is that I think I do know what you mean. Ooh, I remembered. He was a singer – pretty boy, as I recall.”

“But you can’t remember what he was called.”

“That’s just it. I do. David Cassidy. That was his name. Yes, David Cassidy. Hee-hee, I remembered. Now who’s a daft old duffer, eh?”

“I remember him, too. Didn’t he marry that Kylie – the young motor mechanic?”

“No, that was Jason Donovan on Neighbours – that Aussie show.”

“Still going on, that one.”

“Are they still in it?”

“Who?”

“Jason and Kylie, of course.”

“Not for years. I accidentally saw it once and didn’t recognise anybody.”

“When did you see it?”

“Most days.”

“So you’re watching it regular, like?”

“I call it my guilty pleasure.”

“Is it any better than it was?”

“Hard to say.”

“Why?”

“I don’t follow the story. I only watch it for—”

“You don’t have to tell me, James Birthwaite. I know you too well. You only watch it for the pretty girls. That’s your guilty pleasure, isn’t it?”

“Stop trying to confuse me by changing the subject. What were we talking about before you got me all worked up?”

“Ermm. Let me think…”

“I got it! You were saying that tree reminds you of a TV show.”

“Oh yes.”

“Which one? Have you remembered?”

“Yes, I have. It’s The Partridge Family.”

“How on Earth can that remind you of The Partridge Family?”

“Duh. Pear tree? Partridge?”


On to this week’s challenge: Using this photo as inspiration, write a short story, flash fiction, scene, poem; anything, really; even just a caption for the photograph. Either put it (or a link to it) in a comment or email it to me at keithchanning@gmail.com before 6pm next Sunday (if you aren’t sure what the time is where I live, this link will tell you). If you post it on your own blog or site, a link to this page would be appreciated, but please do also mention it in a comment here.

Go on. You know you want to. Let your creativity and imagination soar. I shall display the entries, with links to your own blog or web site, next Monday.

Sunday serialisation – A Bump in the Knight, 6.3

In Knight & Deigh, confirmed bachelor and businessman Hannice Knight suffered a back injury that left him without the use of his legs. Sophie Deigh, physiotherapist and recent widow, devoted herself to supporting him.

On his father’s death, Hannice inherited a global business and great wealth. Then, together with Sophie, he embarked on a series of activities designed to give him some of the excitement and the freedoms that he felt he had missed out on, by being tied to his father’s business for two decades.

As Hannice’s body recovered, he became ever closer to Sophie, and found himself drifting into a relationship with her that neither had anticipated or intended, and for which neither was fully prepared.

This book follows Hannice’s new adventures as he tries to juggle business, hedonism, marriage and ultimately parenthood.

But all doesn’t go quite as he had planned…

Beginning on 14 January 2018, I am publishing Knight & Deigh here as a serial; one part each Sunday.

A Bump in the Knight. Chapter six, part three

I hadn’t taken anything with me to Amsterdam that could have interrupted our break. However, as soon as we got back, I found an email from Henk, telling me that the query was legitimate and that a registered letter was waiting for me in London. I emailed back and asked him to have it couriered to me the following day.

I opened the letter as soon as it arrived. It looked official; it had all the correct logos and stamps, as far as I could tell. The letter itself was less than helpful. It said that the formalities for the formation of the company, Knight Trading (India) Pvt Ltd, were ‘deficient in key respects relating to the certification of certain of the directors’ and that they needed a meeting with all directors present to regularise the registration. The letter gave a telephone number to be called in the event of any query. I didn’t call that number. I looked online for the telephone number of the specific regional office that had sent the letter, only to find that the office didn’t exist. Oh, there was an office in the same city with a similar name a similar address and a similar telephone number; similar, but not the same. I checked the time zones and found that we were at a reasonable time for me to phone the government office. At 11 am in the UK, it was 4.30pm in Cochin. Before calling them, I looked around various online forums that deal with the kind of business in India that we are into. There seemed to be a consensus that the person to speak to was a Mr Mistry in the Directorate of Industries and Commerce. I called the number given on the government website and asked to speak to the person responsible for registration of foreign-owned companies. I was put through to a Mr S R Mistry.

“Am I speaking to the person responsible for registration of foreign-owned companies?”

“Yes, I am the in-charge of that section. How may I help you, please?”

“Good afternoon, Sir. My name is Hannice Knight. I am the registered Chairman of Knight Trading (India) Pvt Ltd, recently registered in Kochi.”

“Yes, I recall the case. I completed all the formalities myself.”

“Mr Mistry. I have received a letter from someone claiming to be from the ‘Directorate of Commerce and Industry’. The letter says that he wants all the directors of my company to attend a meeting to discuss irregularities in the registration, claiming that the documentation is ‘deficient in key respects relating to the certification of certain of the directors’. It says the fee for this meeting is one lakh rupees, which must be paid before the meeting can take place.”

“Mr Knight; would you be able to scan the letter and email it to me, please?”

“Certainly, I’ll get onto it right away.”

“Thank you. I believe this is a scam. You are not the first company that has asked me about such a letter, but if I can get hold of one, I can have it fully investigated. I fear many people would have paid the fee asked and got nothing for it. Your company is properly registered, and it is authorised to trade in accordance with the Articles of Association deposited with us.”

“Thank you, Mr Mistry.”

“No, thank you, Mr Knight. I think we can finally catch these fraudsters.”

I immediately called Henk and relayed to him what had passed between Mr Mistry and me. He reacted with a mix of relief and disbelief.

“That’s a good result, Hannice,” he said, “but can you be sure that the person you were speaking to was legitimate?”

“I see what you’re thinking. It’s possible that the government website was hacked, is that it?”

“That’s exactly it. These are perilous times. How can one ever know whom to believe?”

“If this call was part of a scam, it was a very elaborate one. The woman who answered the phone used exactly the words on the website, and I deliberately didn’t ask for the department I wanted. Instead, I asked to be put through to the person responsible for registration of foreign-owned companies. She put me through to the man referenced on a number of forums as the man to deal with. I think it’s legit.”

“I’ll let Danny know; he can pass it on to Subramanium and Chandrasekheran. I’m sure they’ll be relieved to hear it. I’m sorry, Boss; the investigation you did I should have done before bothering you.”

“No problem, Henk. I’m glad it turned out okay, and especially that I didn’t make a pointless journey to India.”

When, later, I told Sophie and her parents about it, she felt the same way I did, but Eddie surprised me by saying, “Knew as much. Can’t trust Johnny foreigner, you know. Pull the wool over your eyes every time. Stick to your own kind, I say.”

Martha and Sophie shot him a look, then Sophie looked at me as if to say, “Don’t.”

I did.

“Eddie,” I said, “we have offices in ten countries on six continents, and I have to say that we have faced issues of honesty in all of them. However, by far the greatest risk to us, by organised criminals, is here, in the United Kingdom and in the United States; our own kind, as you call them. This incident in India pales into insignificance in relation to the vast number of similar scams we see every month in this country. Do I need to list them? Fake invoices for entry in a pan-European business directory, or a Europe-wide fax directory. Invoices for renewal of internet domain names which, if paid, would hand control of our internet presence to crooks. You want more?”

“No,” he said, his head hung in shame, “I get the picture.”

“I hope so, Eddie. I don’t want to get into an argument with you; I like you, you’re a good man, but that comment was sailing perilously close to racism, and I won’t stand for that in my house.”

“Anyone want a cup of tea?” Martha said, trying to lighten the mood. We all nodded assent. Martha got up and started walking toward the kitchen. She turned back and said, “Eddie; come and help me.”

“What help do you need to—”

“Come. And. Help. Me,” she said emphatically. Eddie got up and followed.

“I wish you hadn’t done that,” Sophie said.

“I wish I hadn’t had to,” I replied, “but I can’t let a comment like that go. I had in mind to take your parents with us to Tanzania and, yes, to India, too. But I can’t do that if there’s a risk that your father might upset the applecart by making inappropriate remarks in the hearing of people whose goodwill we need to cultivate. Apart from which—”

“I know, Hannice. I know, it’s just that—”

“He’s your father. I get that, and I respect him in so many ways. But, what’s been said has been said; I think he’s probably getting his whatsits chewed off by your mother right now. I’m not planning to take it any further, I won’t even ask for an apology. I’ve said my piece, and I think we all know where we stand. Okay?”

“Okay.”

Eddie and Martha came back with a tray of tea and biscuits. Martha looked hard and a little angry; Eddie had the look of a defeated man. I certainly didn’t plan on kicking him while he was down.

“Hannice, I owe you an apology,” he started.

“Water under the bridge, old chap,” I said, “water under the bridge.”

“See?” Martha said, “I told you he’d be a gentleman about it. Now, if you have such thoughts again, for goodness’ sake just keep them to yourself.”

“Yes dear.”

“Or better yet, don’t have such thoughts.”

“Yes dear.”

We drank our tea in silence. Once we’d finished, I turned to Eddie and said, “Would you like to see how I scan this letter and email it? You’ll be able to do the same with the kit you have at home. Unless you’ve done it already, of course, in which case there’s no need to see how I do it.”

“I know it can be done,” he said, “but I’ve never done it. Not yet, anyway. Do you scan it to Word?”

“You can,” I replied, “but I prefer to scan into a pdf document. Not everyone has the latest Word on their machine, but everyone can read pdf files.”

“Good point. Lead on, McDuff.”

And that’s how the situation was handled and defused.

Hybrids part 92

a tale in weekly parts

(formerly Albert and Jarvis)

In episodes 1-88, Albert and Jarvis told the story of a bitek construct that had been in the lives of the Grahamson family for three generations. Appearing in the form of a shepherd's hut (Jarvis) and its elderly occupant (Albert), an earlier experiment had resulted in the birth of Aloysius, a non-manifesting human/bitek hybrid. Alice and Alex, the two children that Aloysius had fathered with his wife, Magdalen, displayed strong bitek capabilities from an early age, though Alice was significantly more precocious than her younger brother. Albert and Jarvis nurtured and enhanced these capabilities through many adventures until the point where, to prevent a global catastrophe, the two needed to act together. The action needed more power than the two possessed. To produce stonger hybrids, Alex's seed was used to produce a young in a distantly related hybrid female in another dimension, while Alice was impregnated using her own bitek components. Albert and Jarvis absented themselves from the lives of the Grahamsons to allow Alice's pregnancy to progress in a safe, normal environment.
You can see the full story so far at this link.


Episode 92

For the first ten years of his life, Zachary Grahamson had lived as near to a normal, human life as could be achieved. He had been schooled in the sciences to a degree that no human student before him had ever been, and his knowledge and understanding of what is loosely termed ‘humanities’, which included the arts, in all their forms, as well as the social sciences, was of the highest order. And yet he always knew that there was more. From time to time, he had seen his mother, his uncle and his great-grandfather doing what his grandfather disparagingly referred to as ‘shimmering’. He knew that this had to do with a form of travel that was not available to ordinary people. The information his mother, his uncle and his great-grandfather had given him about this thing they called bitek was helpful, but still he knew there to be more; knowledge as yet closed off to him.

Around the dining table for their weekly family conference, the Grahamsons were waiting for Albert to tell them what comes next.

“We all know what’s going on,” Al said, he having unilaterally nominated himself family spokesperson, “now, out with it. The boy’s ten now and your fancy education plan has come to an end. What I want to know is this. What now?”

“Now,” Madge replied, “you shut up. Alice. What’s on your mind?”

“Nothing I haven’t already shared with Albert and Alex,” she said. Turning to Albert, she said, “We’re ready, Albert.” This was purely for her parents’ benefit. She, Alex and Albert (and Jarvis, of course) had talked about little else for days.

“Ready for what?” Al asked.

“Ready to start the boy’s enhancements,” Albert said.

“Enhancements? What enhancements? What are you talking about? How does the boy need to be enhanced?”

“Dad,” Alex said, “do you really need to ask that? Okay, you and Mum didn’t know about Alice’s upgrades, but you know all about mine – Albert and I have told you about them in detail – and you’ve had some of your own, too. So have the dogs.”

“Oh, those enhancements,” Al said. “Must you? So soon? He’s just a boy.”

“Yes, he is,” Alice said, “but he’s a boy like no other, and he’s a boy with a job like no other. He needs to have his upgrades now, so he can grow into them and be ready when he needs to fulfil his destiny.”

“I can’t be doing with all this. Enhancements? Upgrades? Destiny? Are we all talking about the same ten-year-old boy?”

“Do I get a say in this?” Zak asked.

“No,” Al replied.

“Of course you do,” Alice said, shooting a harsh look at her father, “Granddad’s just being petulent. This is all about you. Of course, you get a say. Is there anything you— You’re there, aren’t you?”

Zak smiled. “Albert connected me to you and Alex, and to himself, earlier this afternoon. It’s been hard work shielding myself from you so you wouldn’t know, but yeah – I’m there, Mum.”

“What’s going on?” Madge asked, “Is Zak being taught to lie?”

“No more than you did when you hid his birthday present yesterday and told him you hadn’t bought him anything, Mum,” Alice said.

“Shall I go and get it?” Madge said excitedly.

“Please do, Grandma,” Zak pleaded, as Madge ran off, giggling like a schoolgirl.

“Do you know what it is, Albert?” Alice asked in a tight-beamed message that only Albert could detect.

“I do.”

“What?”

“You’ll see.”

Madge came back in with a box, about 35cm on each side, with a number of holes in each face. She handed it to Zak and admonished him to be careful with it. Sensing the seriousness of his grandmother’s tone, the boy placed the box on the table and carefully pulled back the tape, finally opening the top, slowly.

“Oh, Grandma,” he said, excitedly, “it’s a puppy!” He carefully picked the young dog up and gently held it against him. As if recognising him, the puppy immediately bathed Zak’s face with its tongue.

“He’s a German Shepherd, one of the most faithful and intelligent breeds—”

“And he’s mine!”

“And,” Albert said, “he’ll be enhanced while you sleep tonight.”

“And he’s mine! What’s he called?”

“That’s for you to decide,” Alice said, “Do you know why it’s for you to decide?”

“Because he’s mine! Can I call him Isaac, Mum? Can I?”

“He’s your pet, Darling, you can call him whatever you want; But why Isaac? Is there a reason?”

“Well, Isaac Newton, obviously; Isaac Asimov, the father of robotics; and a number of religions have a prominent figure named Isaac.”

“And that,” Albert intoned with what could only be called satisfaction, “is why we say that Zak is no normal ten-year-old.”

“But is he ready for all the changes he’ll face?” Al asked.

“I was only ten when I started on this journey,” Alex said.

“Aye, Lad, you were,” Albert said, “In fact, I suppose now is as good a time as any.”

Al, Madge and Isaac saw only that Albert, Alex, Alice and Zak shimmered. But what did that mean?