Kreative Kue 330

Kreative Kue 329 asked for submissions based on this photograph:

John W Howell is a multiple nominated and award-winning author who blogs at Fiction Favorites. Details of John’s books can be found on his Amazon author page

The Wonder by John W. Howell © 2021

“Should we bother him?”

“I’m not sure. Looks like his mind is a million miles away.”

“That’s what I thought. If we try to get his attention he might have a heart attack.”

“We will have to interrupt his reverie sooner or later.”

“Why? We can just go somewhere else.”

“I don’t think that’s a great idea. I don’t know where else to go.”

“We could keep driving until we see someone dressed like him.”

“That could be a hundred miles. We need to be home by lunchtime.”

“Why’s that?”

“The guy from the Audubon society is going to meet us there remember?”

“Oh yeah. You are making a big donation.”

“Well, birds are our friends.”

“What about this one?”

“I think it belongs to that guy.”

“How do you know?”

“He’s got hawk protection for his hands. Look at the symbol on his jacket. It screams hawk.”

“I must say he even looks like a hawk. Okay let’s go tell him his bird is with us.”

“Don’t tell him about the pupachino at Starbucks. Not sure he would like the fact we got one for his bird.”

“I think it would be wise not to mention the blueberry scone either.”

“I think you’re right.”

“What should we say when he asks how we came to have his hawk?”

“I’d go with the bird was hitchhiking and we picked it up.”

“He’s not going to believe that.”

“Maybe the truth then?”

” When you called to it and it flew in the house sounds like a fairy tale.”

“That’s why I like the hitchhike story. Any way it doesn’t matter we will get the hawk back to its rightful owner.”

“We hope.”

“Look at the hawk. It’s shaking it’s head.”

“I think he wants to stay with us.”

“He’s nodding.”

“One question.”

“Yeah?”

“Where did this bird learn English?”

“Let’s ask him when we get home.”

“I wonder if he’s potty trained.”

“He’s nodding yes.”

“Does Polly want a cracker?”

“He’s not a parrot.”

“I still think he wants a cracker.”

“And ruin his lunch? No way.”


This thoughtful and atmospheric tale from Richard Dalgleish by email.

The photograph was old and creased. its colours faded. It was found in a metal biscuit tin, silvered and speckled with spots of rust from age as if it had morphed into the skin of a metal lizard. When the tin was opened, the ancient memories of the sweet delights within dissipated and were lost forever.

The researcher was called Isla. She was wearing soft cotton gloves, a protective mask and a white lab coat with blue paper shoes. She peered closely at the faint image. Who was this person who survived only in this photograph? Where was it taken? What was his story? She allowed her mind to drift, imagining his pains and triumphs, his journey through life, the other people who surrounded him and who were now lost forever.

Old photographs such as this turned up very rarely. The dark digital age when the image was made was mostly a closed book. The people who lived then had left little trace of themselves other than their architecture often built in flat dull concrete. Their time must have been filled with so much colour but was now grey and void. Their art and their images, their writings and their thoughts were only ever found in glimpses. The computer storage and data centres in which these people placed so much trust were all dark and crumbling and the data corrupt and lost in obscurity. Corruption and loss. As Isla watched, the image began to fade before her eyes, its exposure to living oxygen too much for it after so many years held secure in its tin box.

She snapped from her thoughts and grabbed a can of spray and covered the image in a white foam before closing the box and waiting. Hoping she had worked quickly enough to fix the image. Waiting for minutes which seemed like hours. Repeating the process of whoever had printed that photograph so long ago. Thinking of the passage of time. A whole life encapsulated in a single faint image. Isla’s timer rang loudly in the lab and startled her. Isla slowly opened the box. Tears came to her eyes when she saw what was inside.


This short tale from Raymond Walker. Raymond is a prolific author whose main web site is at http://raytwalker.com/. Details of Raymond’s books can be found on his Amazon author page

Hawks by Raymond Walker © 2021

Pale; the hawk’s shadow on the ground on winter’s eve. Little sunlight was shed upon the ruins of the cottage that had once adorned this crag, the sky leaden, dark, filled with the promise of rain, of snow. The terrain to reach the crag; difficult. Scary. Scree, marsh, huge boulders left as the ice receded were in my way but I had to get there.

I knew where she was, my wife, her car left in the high car park on the “Rest and be thankful”. A mountain midway between Arrochar and Inveraray in the West highlands of Scotland. She had called me before her mobile ran out of charge. The snow was falling, the car dead. I had meant to replace the battery for months but I was lazy and had let her undertake the long trip in an inadequate car.

I could see her car, in darkness, abandoned. She had left as the heat dissipated. Married so long my wife knew survival skills. Late nights and too much wine listening to me rattle on about how to survive in the depths of winter in Scotland. She was disinterested, a night away for her was in a classy hotel but listening to me drone on so often, I knew what she would do.

A dead car, the chance of hypothermia had she waited. She would follow my half heard advice. There was a small cabin just below the Northern Ridge. Look for the hawks, I told her, the thermals allow them to soar.

That is where she had to be. The road was closed soon after I passed, the snow gates down but I had walked these hills for years. I knew the rules and what to do. I called mountain rescue and informed them of my position and task and that I felt there was no imminent risk to life. I set up a small tent in the snow near the edge of the Black Lake (loch dubh) and gathered dry firewood. I did not know what condition she would be in when I found her.

The little cabin, little more than a bothy, provided you with shelter and warmth for a few days whilst hoping for rescue. It was not a five star hotel but it would do.

The marsh was a morass of stinking bogs filled with toads and salamanders, leeches and newts but I had come prepared and so with only a modicum of difficulty reached the base of the mountain.

The terrain was difficult, the bog the worst of it. The scree on the mountainside was treacherous but navigable as long as you were careful. I followed the circling hawks, having forgotten much of my gear in haste. Snow was rarely a problem in these mountains but could become difficult on rare occasions. This was one of these times. What should have been a twenty minute to half hour trek up a mountainside became an odyssey.

Wading waist deep through drifting snow. Hell on Earth. Legs, thighs and back aching I found the cabin, better still I saw fog coming in from the west, the sea, It would warm things up. Cloud cover can be marvellous and I knew that she would be freezing. Having spent one night in the bothy before I knew that it meant survival. Not comfort.

I chapped upon the door, decorum, and it was answered by a naked girl. My wife. She was pale and shivering. “I knew you would find me. I knew that you would come for me. You think that I do not listen to your little tales but I do pay attention. I knew to head for this cabin, I knew that you would find me here. I knew to doff the wet clothes, no matter how cold it seemed. I knew it all because of you” I was busy smiling as her lips touched mine.

She stood on her tiptoes, completely naked, and kissed me on the lips. You were not even here but you saved me.

See. I was listening when you thought I was bored of your stories.

I would not have lived without them.

I shall not tell you of that night but we used the circling hawks as an anchor to set our course in the morning. The sea was close as it is everywhere in Scotland. And so followed the closest stream downhill. It is difficult to tell where you are when everything is white and the snow is deep. Eventually, dry and able we made the car. The Hawks saved her.


My effort was:

Authenticity

Stand there and wait, they said. Wait for what? Noone would say. Just wait. I imagined they’d let me know at some stage but no. According to the head man – producer or director or whatever – they want an authentic reaction when whatever it is I’m supposed to be waiting for eventually happens.

So, I suppose I’ll just have to stand here in front of you nice people and try to entertain you until then. What would you like me to do for you? I can’t sing – not in a way you’d like to hear, anyway, and my dancing … I’m sure most of you will have seen the video from last year’s staff and volunteers’ party that went viral. And no, I won’t give you a quick rendition of that. Why not? Because there’s no music. HA. What’s that? No, Sir, I don’t want you to put your ghetto blaster on full strength. Who still uses those things anyway? No, Madam, I’d rather you didn’t sing something for me to dance to. Mostly because I’ve heard your singing before and I don’t think it’s something I’d like to inflict on these poor people who paid to come here to be entertained, not tortured. You’d like me to tell you a story? Okay. Somebody throw out a subject and I’ll see what I can do.

One at a time, please. What’s that? The photographer and the nude model? I think we could all make up stories about that, but there are children present… yes, Madam, and ladies of a sensitive nature. Give me another. I think the actress and the bishop would fall into the same category, Miss, and I’d be careful if I were you, your father doesn’t seem to be too impressed by your suggestion. Haunted car park? That sounds interesting. Give me a minute, will you?

Right.

The date is the twenty-eighth of November. Three hundred yards away, the church clock strikes eleven. The sky is covered in clouds and there’s a power cut, so it’s pitch black everywhere. Our hero; let’s call him George… no: John. Why not George? I don’t think it’s heroic sounding enough. Yes, I do think John is. Yes, I’ve heard about Saint George – he’s the guy who allegedly slew a mythical monster. All right, if you insist, we’ll call him David.

So, Davey-boy walks through the car park. Look, it’s a story about a haunted car park, isn’t it? So where would you expect him to be? THAT’S WHAT YOU ASKED FOR!

Thank you.

So, Davey-boy walks through the car park. As he reaches the corner where his car is parked. Why else would he be in a car park at eleven o’clock — yes, I suppose he could be a miscreant bent on stealing a car or robbing stuff from one, but let’s just assume he’s going to his car, okay?

Okay. Thank you.

So, he reaches the corner where his car is parked, raises his eyes from the ground — he was looking at the ground because it’s pitch dark, and he doesn’t want to trip over anything or step in something disgusting. Yes, like doggy-do. No, not like an IED. We’re not in a war zone. Honestly. I thought you people wanted a story, not a…

OH MY GOD! WHAT THE DEVIL IS THAT?


DSCF0168a

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 next Monday.

Sunday serialisation – Andrea 4.1

Andrea cover300

Andrea – in search of space, picks up where Making Merry left off.

Fresh from her work on Project Prodigialis, Rear Admiral Andrea Smithson takes command of the Terra II project.

The largest in-system luxury cruise liner had been refitted and recommissioned in the Royal Space Regiment fleet as HMDSV Colin Pillinger. Its mission? To identify, locate and survey a habitable but uninhabited planet which can be populated over time to take pressure off Earth and its resources.

For the cast of characters at the start of the project, click here

For a brief list of acronyms and initialisms used, click here

 

Andrea – in search of space. Chapter four, part one.

Eleven and a half months after their first discussions, Kala Kodash and a team of technicians from Grintsk arrived to certify and commission the MTS pads that the engineering department had built on-site. At the same time, another team descended on Packway to install the pads that had been constructed there. The Packway set had been built by a firm of contractors connected with the cousin of a friend of the public works minister. They followed the blueprints but had no idea what they were building, so the Jinthae had not been given the opportunity to gauge the progress as they had with the ship-board set. Unfortunately, substantial remedial work was needed before they could be certified and commissioned. This delayed their coming into service by around three weeks, but eventually, the day came.

Meredith had taken a personal interest in this development, and so it came as no surprise when the first person to step off the pads and onto the Colin Pillinger was … that’s right, it was Nigel Swann bearing a letter from Admiral Winstanley officially inaugurating the service. Andrea sent Swann back with a thank-you note after he’d had a short period to recover from the initial transfer.

Things were moving on apace. All that remained was for the ship and her cruiser to be fitted with the CAG drive enhancement so they could make the journey out to high orbit. However, on Kala Kodash’s next visit, it conveyed some very important news.

“Our technicians have been testing a new development, Andrea,” it said, “They have been able to modify the spatial delimiter parameters of a basic MTS engine such that it can extend its perimeter sufficiently to take in your entire ship.”

“That’s impressive, Kala,” Andrea said, “but what about the weight?”

“Mass is irrelevant. Once converted to energy, the mass no longer appears to exist. We can send the entire body of the ship to the nearest stable Lagrangian point and bounce it to where you want it to come out.”

“Isn’t there a risk to the integrity of the individuals on board?”

“Don’t ask me to explain the technicalities, Andrea, but I’m assured there isn’t.”

“So that means we can move straight to our main mission?”

“Not yet. We haven’t proven this particular piece of technology beyond in-system transits, but it will put you to high orbit. It is a prototype and we shall need to take it back with us after use to evaluate its performance. If we fit it to your Sir Prijs as well, will you need the CAG?”

“Maybe not, but I’d like to have it as backup. I also have a feeling it will become useful later on.”

Kala’s team fitted the technology to Shuttle 1, and oversaw a few tests to prove it. Once they and Andrea’s people were satisfied with that, it was fitted to Sir Prijs and tested successfully. Finally it was fitted to C-pill and the craft was ready to cut ties with Earth.

Andrea called Admiral Winstanley.

“What news, Andrea?”

“We’d like to invite you to come aboard to witness our transfer to high orbit, Admiral. You can use the pads to come up here, if you wish then, once we’re in high orbit, use the pads to get back to Packway again.”

“Hang on. You’re telling me you’re ready to move a quarter of a billion kilometres into space?”

“Yes, Admiral.”

“Now?”

“Yes, Admiral.”

“And you expect me to agree to be broken down into my base molecules and squirted up to your ship to see this?”

“Indeed, Admiral. It’s perfectly safe.”

“And then you want me to fly with you to somewhere between Mars and the Asteroid Belt, then go through the whole procedure to come back again?”

“Why not?”

“And you want to do this when?”

“We’re ready now, Admiral. We can go at any time with about an hour’s notice.”

“I’m too busy. I’ll send Swann.”

“With respect, Admiral, I think something of this nature deserves more than a sub-lieutenant to witness it.”

“Okay, Andrea. I’m far too busy at present. I’ll send Joan and Patsy. They’ll be with you tomorrow at ten hundred.”

The line dropped.

So did Andrea’s jaw.

So did Jason’s. He was in the room with Andrea and Kala Kodash.

Kala’s jaw didn’t drop. Being deficient one in the mouth division, Jinthae don’t have a jaw to drop. It did, however, send out some very interesting concepts and constructs for Andrea’s and Jason’s primary auditory cortices to unravel and make sense of.

Andrea received it as lack of moral fibre. Jason’s mind was more direct and rendered the expression as coward preceded by a reference to human procreation. He laughed. Andrea didn’t.

“I suppose that’s that then,” Jason said.

“She is the admiral. If she says she’s too busy and doesn’t suggest an alternative time, I suppose we’ll have no choice but to accept it.”

Limericks from prompts 11

canstockphoto12290151300.jpg
© Can Stock Photo& damedeeso. Used with permission

Limerick, a popular form of short, humorous verse that is often nonsensical and frequently ribald. It consists of five lines, rhyming aabba, and the dominant metre is anapestic, with two metrical feet in the third and fourth lines and three feet in the others. Encyclopaedia Britannica

Starting this week, a series of limericks produced in response to various prompts. I have combined the two strands to make room for a new series starting next Wednesday. 

These will appear on Saturday mornings wherever possible.

Many examples of acrostic poems can be found scattered around the web (where the first letter of each line spells out a word when read from top to bottom), but I have found very few examples of acrostic Limericks.

Where any prompt contains five letters (or ten, fifteen or… let’s not get ahead of ourselves, eh?), I shall attempt an acrostic limerick based on that word.

Let me know what you think.

GOODBYE

for Kristian (https://talesfromthemindofkristian.wordpress.com/2021/09/12/goodbye/)

Goodbye – that was all that she said
As away from my shelter she fled.
She never looked back
As she slipped through the crack
And left me alone with my dread.

QUIRKY

for Kristian (https://talesfromthemindofkristian.wordpress.com/2021/09/13/quirky/)

At risk of you thinking me quirky
There’s something not right with beef jerky.
Before it is eaten
It’s probably beaten
Then left in the sun to get murky.

OSCILLATION

for Kristian (https://talesfromthemindofkristian.wordpress.com/2021/09/14/oscillation/)

The length and the breadth of the nation,
I’m feeling the strangest vibration.
It’s like a seesaw
Only maybe more raw.
I know what it is: oscillation!

DIGITALLY

for Kristian (https://talesfromthemindofkristian.wordpress.com/2021/09/15/digitally/)

Digitally, though, I might
Be more of a bit than a byte.
I try to be kind
But frequently find
My data are simply not right.

FESTIVAL

for Kristian (https://talesfromthemindofkristian.wordpress.com/2021/09/16/festival/)

The answer from my best mate, Baz
To my life needing more razzmatazz?
“Do something aestival;
Let’s hold a jazz festival,
And see how much traction that has.”

STATUESQUE

for fun

Some tell me that I am grotesque
As I sit here all day at my desk.
While others affirm 
That I’m just a bookworm
With a form that is near statuesque.

BORING

for fun

My kids find it thoroughly boring
When I say we should go out exploring.
They had their revenge,
On a trip to Stonehenge
When we found it was closed for restoring.

NOT FUNNY!

for fun

When I start composing a song,
Some things I think are simply wrong.
Like: I’m not sure Ovid
Could ever catch COVID
Because he’s been dead for so long.