What’s in a name?

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I watched that film last night – the one you said I should.”

“What did you think of it.”

“A bit far-fetched, I thought.”

“Of course it is. It’s science fiction horror. What did you expect?”

“I was ready to suspend my disbelief for a while, but please … The transportation I can follow; seen loads of it on Star Trek. I can even go along with the melding. Remember the time Tuvok and Neelix merged in the beam and became Tuvix? But that was how they came out, completely melded. This gradual morphing from a man to an overgrown killer-fly thing? Sorry, I just don’t buy it.”

“Lots of people did. It did well at the box office and the critics loved it.”

“Most things Jeff does go down well. Anyway, shall I tell you what else has been bothering me lately?”

“Go on then.”

“Why do they call us ‘fly’?”

“It’s what we do, isn’t it? We fly.”

“Yes, but we walk up walls and windows and hang upside-down on ceilings, too, but that’s not what they call us. And anyway, birds, beetles, bees, wasps, hornets, mosquitoes, bats and loads of other things fly, too. But they aren’t called flies.”

“Ladybirds aren’t birds, either.”

“I know, they’re beetles. Do you know, there are more than five thousand species of ladybird worldwide, and only forty-six of them in Britain?”

“Earth to Mork, Earth to Mork — come back to base. You’re going off on a tangent again!”

“I know, but the whole subject fascinates me. What I don’t get, though, is what the status of ladybirds has to do with anything?”

“Just saying that a thing’s name can be a bit random. Naming it after what it does is one way…”

“Okay, then. We’ll call humans ‘walks’ instead. And dogs? We’ll call them ‘barks’. And bears, we’ll call…”

“I can imagine. But you’re being silly now.”

“Am I?”

“Yes, you are. Anyway, whilst you’re contemplating why other animals can’t hang on the ceiling – it’s because they don’t have sticky feet, by the way—”

“Some of them have sticky fingers, though.”

“Yeah. They’re called shoplifters. Meanwhile, much as I’d love to stay here and discuss the finer points of structural and mechanical differences between members of the insecta and chordata phyla with you, I have … oh dear, what’s the insect equivalent of other fish to fry?”

“Other sugars to vomit on and consume?”

“Yes, but no. That’s nasty. Oh yes, that’s it! My brother-in-law’s friend’s father’s grandmother’s sister’s pet ant died and it’s my turn to console her.”

“Who?”

“My brother-in-law’s friend’s father’s grandmother’s sister. Must fly.”

“Yeah. I see what you did there. Very good.”


This original fiction was written in response to Kreative Kue 378 published on this site earlier this week.

 

Kreative Kue 378

Kreative Kue 377 asked for submissions based on this photograph:

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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

Where? by John W. Howell © 2022

“What do those signs say?”

“We have reached The Magic kingdom.”

“The what?”

“The magic Kingdom. You know Disney.”

“Who the heck wants to be here?”

“Aww, come on. Every kid on the planet.”

“How did we get into this situation?”

“What is the matter with you. We went for a car ride, and here we are.”

“I had no intention of going this far.”

“That’s just like you. Start a trip and then complain when we reach the destination.”

“I started the trip all right but never figured on ending it here.”

“So now, why don’t you just relax and enjoy yourself.”

“I could do that back home. Didn’t need to go on a fool’s journey.”

“Alright, we need to make a deal.”

“Like what?”

“You shut up about the trip, and I’ll let you have a drink and a rest.”

“I need to rest a week.”

“I know that. All us mosquitoes need to rest a week after a drink.”

“Can I bite the blond one?”

“Sure. You take your pick.”

“You’re a good brother, you know that?”

“Thanks, sis. You’ll feel better after your rest.”


My effort was:

Outing

“Are we nearly there yet?”

“WHAT!?”

“I said, are we nearly there yet?”

“Where do you think we’re going?”

“The sign says Epcot. I’ve always wanted to go to Epcot. I heard they’ve got some really cool stuff there.”

“I can’t believe I’m having this conversation… Okay, go on: what do you know, or think you know about Epcot? “

“According to what I read—”

“You READ? You can read?”

“Of course. I am eight years old, you know.”

“Yes, but—”

“Anyway, I read that there’s acrobats and mimes and clowns and places for food and drink and… and… and… and there’s parts for all sorts of countries: France, Germany, Mexico, Brazil, India—”

“Yeah. I get the picture—”

“And even England.”

“Why even England?”

“Well, you don’t like them, do you?”

“Who?”

“The English. Toffee-nosed, self-important, entitled, upper-class snobs, you called them when you were talking on the phone last week.”

“Were you listening in to my phone call?”

“Hard not to when you’re in full flow with no volume control.”

“Even so…”

“So, anyway, there’s a whole load of cool stuff and I can’t wait to get in and see some of it for myself.”

“You do know you won’t be allowed in, don’t you? Not in the actual place.”

“Won’t I?”

“No, you won’t. You’ll have to wait outside whilst I go in and have myself a grand time!”

“That doesn’t seem very fair.”

“Fair or not, them’s the rules.”

“And which rule in particular do you believe will prevent me from entering the attraction?”

“The one that says NO DOGS ALLOWED.” 


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Using this photo as inspiration, write a short story, flash fiction, scene, poem; anything, really; even just a caption for the photograph. Either put your offering (or a link to it) in a comment or email it to me at keithchanning@gmail.com before Sunday evening UK time. 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 time.

Sunday Serialisation – Back Paige. Chapter three, part two.

Andrea’s office was bare. Not a cake, pastry, pie, flan, bun or confectionery item of any kind to be seen. No tea, no coffee and no what people like to call ‘proper drinks’ either.

“C-pill: where’s Commander Pratt?” Andrea asked the AI.

Commander Pratt is in your conference room,” the ship replied.

“Open up,” Andrea said.

You want me to open the door between your office and your conference room?

“No. I want you to play ‘We Will Rock You’ on the bagpipes!” she replied sarcastically.

The room was immediately filled with what sounded like the massed pipes and drums of the Edinburgh Military Tattoo belting out the Queen hit at maximum eardrum-busting volume. Shimshuu Tanimoto couldn’t possibly hear it, but he felt his smart watch vibrate. He raised his wrist and looked at the message displayed on the face of his watch. «Loud environment. Sound levels are at 103 dB. Around 10 minutes at this level can cause temporary hearing loss
Shinshuu tapped his boss on the shoulder. When Ishmael looked at him, he held his watch up and raised his eyebrows. Ishmael whispered into Andrea’s ear. She didn’t hear him. He grabbed Shinshuu’s wrist and thrust it in front of her face.

“C-pill: stop that,” she said.

The computer couldn’t hear her.

She walked to her desk, brought up the control panel on her monitor and manually stopped the broadcast.

“Spoilsport,” Meredith said, “it was just coming to the best part. I… it was about to reach a climax.”

No-one picked up on her slip because none present heard her for the ringing in their ears.

The door between Andrea’s office and her conference room opened slightly and Patsy’s head poked through. “Do you have to play that awful music so loud?” she asked, “People are trying to sleep in here.”

No-one heard her for the ringing in their ears.

A minute or so later, hearing started to return to the gathered dignitaries, and they passed through from the office to the conference room.

The large conference table was covered with an array of cakes, pastries, pies, flans, buns and confectionery of all kinds, such has rarely been seen outside the largest and most lavish gatherings among the planet’s filthy rich. Earth, that is, not Earth-2. So far, we have no hard information on the lavishness or otherwise of the festivities, if any, that took place on the latter planet. Or didn’t, as the case may be. Or not.

In the centre of the table was what could only be described as the pièce de résistance. [in fact there were many ways it could have been described; many epithets that could be applied to it; many appellations – not to be confused with the North American mountain range – that would be both apt and appropriate, but for the sake of brevity, conciseness and succinctness, and to avoid repetition, saying the same thing in different ways or even different things in the same way and… you know where this is going, don’t you? Where was I? Oh, yes!] In the centre of the table were three large and exquisitely decorated cakes: one was a scaled-down but uncannily accurate replica of C-pill, one of the Sir Prijs and the third of a ship that no-one recognised. This last was sleeker than either of the others and had a more business-like, or at least meaner aspect. Looking like something that would do credit to one of the more evil Star Trek empires it carried, seated on its upper surface between the missile bays and laser banks, six smaller craft that were as sleek as the infamous Nubian Royal Starship used by Queen Amidala of the Naboo [yeah, I know that was all fictional, but so is this, so what’re you gonna do?].

“Brilliant!” Andrea enthused, “But what’s the third ship?”

“That’s a surprise,” Meredith replied.

[I know, I know, but you expect me to say it so I must. Here goes…] “No, Admiral,” Ishmael said, “Sir Prijs is the second one.”

“Not Sir Prijs, Commodore, surprise – something that is not expected, anticipated or planned for.”

“Got ya!” Ishmael pointed a finger at Meredith. [Didn’t his mum ever tell him it’s rude to point?]

“So what’s the gift you said you brought for me?” Andrea asked her boss.

“Duh!” Meredith said, sweeping her arm about her to encompass the aforesaid vast array of cakes, pastries, pies, flans, buns and confectionery of all kinds, such has rarely been seen outside of the largest and most lavish gatherings among the planet’s filthy rich, and so on. As well, of course, as what we have chosen to call the pièce de résistance, the three-part centrepiece.

“Yeah, but I thought you were bringing something for me. Not something everybody and his partner can dig into.”

“The centrepiece is just for you, Petal. Well, not them, exactly, but the tri-metal replicas that we had made as ornaments for your office.”

“Why would I want a model of my own ship in my office?”

“Have you never watched any Star Trek? The captain always has a model of his ship on display in his office.”

“Yeah, but why?”

“I don’t bloody know! They just do. Right?”

“Okay. I suppose.”

“And what do you say to me for these gifts?”

“Thank you,” Andrea mumbled.

“I didn’t hear you.”

“Thank you,” she repeated more clearly.

“Thank you what?”

“Thank you, Ma’am.”

“That’s better. Now. As soon as this shindig is over, we can go to your quarters, and you can thank me properly.”

“But I thought we weren’t having any of that stuff in this book!”

“Looks like somebody’s in a funny mood.”

“Me?”

“No. You-know-who,” she said, looking upwards.

“Oh, God.”

“Close. Or so he seems to think, anyway. Remember how he suddenly decided that Jason was gay when he clearly wasn’t?”

“Clearly,” Andrea said most emphatically.

“Yes, well. Least said about that, soonest mended, eh? By the way, how’s your relationship with Al-Kawazi?”

“Ishmael? Great. He’s an excellent captain and the finest engineer in the Regiment.”

“I didn’t mean like that, Andrea. How’s your [air quotes] re-lation-ship with him.”

“If you mean are we sleeping together, the answer is no. There is no sexual or romantic element to our most excellent working relationship.”

“Boring!”

“Why are you so interested, anyway? Is Joan not cutting it for you any more? Are you tiring of Patsy, or…? I know what’s happening. Joan and Patsy are becoming an item and shutting you out. That’s it, isn’t it?”

“Let’s talk about this jump you’re doing,” Meredith said, hastily changing the subject, “What time will it happen?”

Andrea smiled a knowing smile. She had clearly hit a raw nerve. That’s one to file away for later, she thought. “Anti-emetics will be dispensed during the afternoon, and we’ll aim to transit at eighteen hours.”

“And when will we arrive in the new system?”

“Eighteen hours. The same time we leave this one. I’m sure you know that already, so what are you driving at?”

“I have a meeting at eighteen thirty, so I’ll need to leave as soon as we arrive,” she said tersely.

“I’ll get a couple of pods ready for you.”

“Can’t we use the pads, the same as when we came up?”

“The pads are only certified for use in-system.”

“Surely they’ll work the same as the pods do?”

“They may, but that hasn’t been tested, and until it is certified as safe by our Jinthate friends and partners, I’m not going to authorise their use.”

“I do outrank you, Andrea. I can order it.”

“If you do, Ma’am, I’ll have first dibs on your job.”

“What do you mean?”

“There is a good chance you won’t emerge alive. If that happens, I want your job.”

“Okay, you win. We’ll use the blasted pods. It’s under protest, though.”

“Duly noted. C-pill: shipwide announcement please ‘anti-emetics will be available from fourteen hours. Please ensure you have one for each person. We aim to transit at eighteen hours. Those in categories one to six, and fifteen and above, please proceed to acceleration couches by seventeen thirty. Message ends.’ For immediate transmission.” She turned to Meredith and said, a grin on her face, “I hope the anti-emetics can overcome excessive consumption of Henri DuBois’ cakes.”

Unknown to the two admirals, Patsy Pratt had been close by and had heard every word of their conversation. “Don’t talk to me about that arrogant worm,” she said, “the cretin told me I could never be as good a pastry-chef as him because, in his words, he is French and I am only English. As far as I’m concerned, he can rot in hell!”

“You don’t mean that, Patsy,” Meredith said, resting her arm around her ADC’s shoulders.

“We’ll see,” Patsy replied, then walked off to start clearing the table and boxing up the small amount of produce remaining in preparation for the jump.

Andrea looked at Meredith and said, “I’ve never seen Patsy that angry before.”

“Oh, I have, Petal. I have. And you don’t want to be too close when she’s like that. Now, let’s slip away to your quarters and prepare for this afternoon’s big jump.”

“Did I just hear a euphemism?”

“Sounded more like a Sousaphone to me. Come on, Rear Admiral, let’s split.”