Kreative Kue 334

Kreative Kue 333 asked for submissions based on this photograph:

scan0097a

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

Warning by John W. Howell © 2021

“What’s up?”

“I need you to get into the tower and report what you see.”

“Report what I see? Is there anything special out there?”

“You must be kidding me.”

“Why?”

“Does the red sky look normal to you?”

“Red sky at night, sailors delight.”

“We are not on the sea, you idiot. Something is going on, and I need to report it up the chain if it’s significant.”

“Well, okay then. No use getting your tutu twisted. I’m going.”

“Call me on the radio when you get there.”

“Roger Dodger. You old codger.”

“None of your tricks either.”

*

“Hey, captain, come in.”

“I read you. corporal. You there?”

“You said to call when I got in the tower.”

“Yes, yes. What do you see?”

“Well, there is a big old desert out there.”

“I know that. What about the red.”

“It is actually more of an orangeish red.”

“WHO CARES ABOUT THE COLOR. WHAT IS CAUSING IT?”

“Sheesh. Let me scan the area. Uh-huh. Yup. That’s it.

“Okay, enough. What is it?”

“It is a dust cloud.”

“Okay, what is causing it?”

“As far as I can tell, I think it is a stampede.”

“A stampede? Cows?”

“No.”

“Horses then?”

“You won’t believe this.”

“Try me.”

“Gophers.”

“Gophers?”

“Headed this way.”

“What the hell?”

“I told you not to use that Gopher Gas.”

“How else would we get rid of them?”

“Negotiation maybe. There must be a million of them.”

“What are we going to do?”

“We? I’m the one who said we should be kinder. I think they are going to want to talk to you. You should know, some of my best friends are Gophers.”

“Well, that’s just swell.”

“The dust makes a beautiful sunset. Maybe you should come up here.”

“And be with a Gopher lover. No thanks.”

“Suit yourself. Those little feet are going to add up.”

“What do you mean?”

“When they run over you.”

“You are really strange. You know that?”

“Coming from someone who hates Gophers.”

“I don’t hate Gophers; I just see no need to live with them.”

“I don’t think you’ll have to worry about that. Over and out.”


My effort was:

The Visit

The sun was setting behind the mosque and over the desert that surrounds the ancient oasis city of Wahatayn. Abdul Qadir bin Abdullah Al-Faheem, the muezzin, was shortly to mount the steps of the minaret to proclaim the salat al-maghrib from the top of the tower using only his voice and a simple, conical horn to amplify and direct it. Although the mosque had a powerful PA system, Abdul Qadir was a traditionalist. He refused to make use of modern technology to call the faithful to prayer, preferring to exercise his strong lungs. Five times each day, every day, he climbed the minaret and did his duty. He had held the post for more than twenty years without ever taking a break, apart from two short periods of illness, when he was physically incapable of making the climb. On those days, a pre-recorded call was played. It was his voice, but everyone who knew Abdul Qadir could tell the difference.

Something had happened to Abdul Qadir this day; something that had upset and disturbed him almost to the point of questioning his calling, even his faith. And yet it was something he couldn’t mention to anyone because no-one would believe him. Not one of those he called to prayer would accept what Abdul Qadir had heard this day. As his imaginary friend, though, he tells me everything.

This is the gist of what he told me.

Minutes after he had announced the salat al-‘asr, the sky above him changed. He was the only man who saw it. All the other men were at prayer in the mosque. It is likely that some of the women and children noticed the change, although at that time in the afternoon, most are indoors either shielding from the harsh sun or preparing food. In any case, they all knew that unless they could give some tangible evidence, which they couldn’t, the men would never believe them.

A cloud appeared in the sky above him. Not unusual – at this time of year clouds tend to appear sporadically over the course of a week or so, before the tail end of the Indian monsoon front whips by giving a couple of overcast days, sometimes with violent rain and even hailstorms. So he wasn’t fazed by the fact of the cloud’s appearance. Truth be told, it probably didn’t register with him, so unremarkable is it at this season.

He did notice the tight beam of intense light that emanated from the cloud, though. A hundred metres or so in front of him, it outshone the afternoon sun by several orders of magnitude. That was when he spotted the cloud. It was unusually low in the sky; lower than any he’d seen in his more than six decades of life; and it was an unusual shape. Its outline was reminiscent of a badly-drawn and incomplete heart shape – a broken heart, if you like. Perhaps its shape was designed to convey a message.

When the light stopped, Abdul Qadir looked in amazement. It was like being in a partial solar eclipse. Somehow, for a few moments, the raging afternoon desert sun seemed somewhat dim.

Out of the beam, or where the beam had been, stepped a man. It had to be a man, right? Nothing else could have been there. Anyway, it looked like a man although, perhaps, taller, more solid and muscular, like the Olympians of old. Abdul Qadir struggled to find a word to describe the man’s appearance. The only word that came to him was perfect.

The man approached Abdul Qadir and knelt before him, placing their two heads on a level. He rested a hand on the muezzin’s shoulder and said, softly, “You’re doing it all wrong. You’ve always done it all wrong. People of all flavours of belief. You’re all doing it wrong. This,” he said, pointing to the minaret, “is not what we want. What we want, what we have always wanted is an attitude of compassion, mercy, tolerance, understanding, forgiveness, generosity, forbearance. Not slavish obedience to rules.”

Abdul Qadir looked at the man blankly, his mind awash with questions, none of which he could articulate. The man rose to his full height. “You think you have answers… You don’t even understand the questions.” He looked sad. He walked back to where the light had deposited him, and as the light reappeared and he started his ascent, he said, in a sad whisper, “You’re doing it all wrong.”

Then he was gone. So was the light. But the cloud is still there, extremely high in the sky now. If you look carefully, you can see it, still in the shape of a broken heart.

Abdul Qadir raised his head to the sky and gazed on the cloud; an action replicated by thousands the world over, standing by mosques, churches, cathedrals, synagogues, temples, all types of places of worship including monoliths, standing stones and sacred woodlands. His voice joined theirs as they looked upwards and asked a single question with a single voice: Why me?


SONY DSC
SONY DSC

 

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.

The Visit

scan0097a

The sun was setting behind the mosque and over the desert that surrounds the ancient oasis city of Wahatayn. Abdul Qadir bin Abdullah Al-Faheem, the muezzin, was shortly to mount the steps of the minaret to proclaim the salat al-maghrib from the top of the tower using only his voice and a simple, conical horn to amplify and direct it. Although the mosque had a powerful PA system, Abdul Qadir was a traditionalist. He refused to make use of modern technology to call the faithful to prayer, preferring to exercise his strong lungs. Five times each day, every day, he climbed the minaret and did his duty. He had held the post for more than twenty years without ever taking a break, apart from two short periods of illness, when he was physically incapable of making the climb. On those days, a pre-recorded call was played. It was his voice, but everyone who knew Abdul Qadir could tell the difference.

Something had happened to Abdul Qadir this day; something that had upset and disturbed him almost to the point of questioning his calling, even his faith. And yet it was something he couldn’t mention to anyone because no-one would believe him. Not one of those he called to prayer would accept what Abdul Qadir had heard this day. As his imaginary friend, though, he tells me everything.

This is the gist of what he told me.

Minutes after he had announced the salat al-‘asr, the sky above him changed. He was the only man who saw it. All the other men were at prayer in the mosque. It is likely that some of the women and children noticed the change, although at that time in the afternoon, most are indoors either shielding from the harsh sun or preparing food. In any case, they all knew that unless they could give some tangible evidence, which they couldn’t, the men would never believe them.

A cloud appeared in the sky above him. Not unusual – at this time of year clouds tend to appear sporadically over the course of a week or so, before the tail end of the Indian monsoon front whips by giving a couple of overcast days, sometimes with violent rain and even hailstorms. So he wasn’t fazed by the fact of the cloud’s appearance. Truth be told, it probably didn’t register with him, so unremarkable is it at this season.

He did notice the tight beam of intense light that emanated from the cloud, though. A hundred metres or so in front of him, it outshone the afternoon sun by several orders of magnitude. That was when he spotted the cloud. It was unusually low in the sky; lower than any he’d seen in his more than six decades of life; and it was an unusual shape. Its outline was reminiscent of a badly-drawn and incomplete heart shape – a broken heart, if you like. Perhaps its shape was designed to convey a message.

When the light stopped, Abdul Qadir looked in amazement. It was like being in a partial solar eclipse. Somehow, for a few moments, the raging afternoon desert sun seemed somewhat dim.

Out of the beam, or where the beam had been, stepped a man. It had to be a man, right? Nothing else could have been there. Anyway, it looked like a man although, perhaps, taller, more solid and muscular, like the Olympians of old. Abdul Qadir struggled to find a word to describe the man’s appearance. The only word that came to him was perfect.

The man approached Abdul Qadir and knelt before him, placing their two heads on a level. He rested a hand on the muezzin’s shoulder and said, softly, “You’re doing it all wrong. You’ve always done it all wrong. People of all flavours of belief. You’re all doing it wrong. This,” he said, pointing to the minaret, “is not what we want. What we want, what we have always wanted is an attitude of compassion, mercy, tolerance, understanding, forgiveness, generosity, forbearance. Not slavish obedience to rules.”

Abdul Qadir looked at the man blankly, his mind awash with questions, none of which he could articulate. The man rose to his full height. “You think you have answers… You don’t even understand the questions.” He looked sad. He walked back to where the light had deposited him, and as the light reappeared and he started his ascent, he said, in a sad whisper, “You’re doing it all wrong.”

Then he was gone. So was the light. But the cloud is still there, extremely high in the sky now. If you look carefully, you can see it, still in the shape of a broken heart.

Abdul Qadir raised his head to the sky and gazed on the cloud; an action replicated by thousands the world over, standing by mosques, churches, cathedrals, synagogues, temples, all types of places of worship including monoliths, standing stones and sacred woodlands. His voice joined theirs as they looked upwards and asked a single question with a single voice: Why me?


This was written in response to Kreative Kue 333 published on this site.

 

Kreative Kue 333

Kreative Kue 332 asked for submissions based on this photograph:

P1010242a

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

What’s the Buzz? by John W. Howell © 2021

“I’m telling you there was this huge kid just loping along the street.”

“Kid? I thought someone said it was a marshmallow.”

“No. It was a kid who was made out of marshmallows, I think.”

“Did it have the words Stay Puff on his sailor hat?”

“Yes, how did you know?”

“I saw the movie.”

“Movie? What are you talking about?”

“Ghostbusters. There was the Stay Puff marshmallow kid in the movie.”

“What’s it doing here?”

“You can ask that cop approaching, but I would say he’s part of the protest.”

“I guess that makes some sense.”

“Yes, after all, we are protesting the use of iconic symbols in advertising.”

“Huh? I thought we were protesting higher taxes.”

“That’s a good cause too. No, this is definitely to end the abuse of symbols that we know and love.”

“Like what symbols?”

“Smokey the bear, for one. The poor overweight guy in those Michelin commercials for another.”

“I’m speechless.”

“You didn’t know how far it went, did you.? Think Gerber, baby. How does that kid live down the representation he was given.”

“You’ll have to excuse me. I gotta go.”

“Oh, sure. Run out when the going gets tough. You ask the Roadrunner how she feels being tied to a cable company for so many years.”

“Uh. I think I hear my wife calling me.”

“Yeah, run home to mommy. Don’t even think of that poor bear container having to sit in pantries all across the US holding that honey. Does anyone ask if she would like some? Noooo.”

“What a cute baby. What’s her name?”

“Oh, thank you. Her name is Minnie.”

“After Minnie Mouse?”

“You have a problem with that?”

“Lovely name. Good talk. See ya.”


My effort was:

It’ll never get better if you picket

“Sorry, Madam. You can’t cross yet. Not here, anyway.”

“Why ever not?”

“Because a demonstration is going on and it will be coming past you at any minute. It wouldn’t be safe.”

“A demonstration? What are they demonstrating?”

“They’re not demonstrating anything; they’re demonstrating against something.”

“Now you’re making no sense at all. I used to be a demonstrator in one of the department stores. Remember them?”

“Not sure I do.”

“They were big shops, over multiple floors, that sold just about everything you could want: clothing, furnishings, costume jewellery, perfumes and cosmetics, everything – even food, some of them.”

“I see. A bit like Amazon.”

“A lot like Amazon, only with real people doing real shopping: touching, smelling, tasting, and talking to each other. It was the likes of Amazon that killed them off.”

“So, they were dinosaurs that couldn’t keep up with the times.”

“No; they were dinosaurs that had no answer to a massive meteorite!”

“I’m sorry, Madam, but I’m not sure I understand what you’re driving at.”

“Sixty-five million years ago; you won’t remember this, of course; a giant meteorite suddenly hit the Earth and destroyed the environment that the dinosaurs needed to survive – so they died.”

“And you’re saying that Amazon destroyed the environment that these department stores needed to survive?”

“I am.”

“What has that to do with demonstrating?”

“When I was younger, I worked in department stores, demonstrating various products – mostly electricals. The point of demonstrating them was so folk could see how they work and want to buy one. What are these people demonstrating? You say they’re demonstrating against something but don’t tell me what.”

“They are demonstrating against longer working hours and more taxes.”

“And I am supposed to infer that from them walking along and chanting goodness only knows what?”

“It’s on the banners, Madam.”

“I can’t read them; not with my eyes.”

“With respect, I don’t think you are their target audience.”

“Not their target audience? What’s that supposed to mean?”

“It means they aren’t doing it for your benefit.”

“Then for whose benefit are they demonstrating? What are they trying to sell, and to whom?”

“They’re sending a message to the government.”

“I don’t buy that. The government isn’t here. It’s in the capital, more than three hundred kilometres away. Perhaps someone should tell them that. The government won’t see their little banners or hear their chanting.”

“I think they know that already.”

“So, it makes no more sense to be doing this here than when I raise my fist and tell the government what they can do with their tax bill.”

“But I’ll bet it makes you feel better when you’ve done that.”

“Is that what this is all about? To make them feel better?”

“Well, not exactly, but—”

“And to make themselves feel better about whatever it is they don’t like; they inconvenience an entire city? That is insane.”

“But that’s the whole point, you see. If they annoy everyone in the city, their message will get through to the government.”

“Poppycock! There was a thing my old mother used to say to me when I had a scab. It’ll never get better if you pick it, she’d say. And she was right.”

“Your point, Madam?”

“Now that I’m old, I’ll say the same thing to these people here: it’ll never get better if you picket. Now stop them and let me cross the road. I have an appointment to get to!”


scan0097a

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.