The Storm

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On a dour and dismal morning
From the cockpit of our plane,
The clouds looked dark and heavy,
The sky was filled with rain.
We circled once, surveyed the land,
Then flew around again.

“We need to find somewhere to land,”
I said, and shed some height,
“It may be a bit bumpy,
So make sure your seat-belt’s tight.”
My mate, Jim, started panicking;
I somehow thought he might.

“I know you’ll do your best for me,”
Jim blubbered through his tears,
“We’ve been through worse than this,”
I said and tried to quell his fears,
“We’ve known each other how long, now?”
He mumbled, “Many years.”

“That’s right,” I said. I touched his hand,
And gave a gentle squeeze,
“We’ve dealt with far worse weather
And we’ve handled it with ease.”
He smiled and whispered timidly,
“Just do it once more, please.”

Just then a bolt of lightning
Exploded ‘cross the skies,
It’s not what I expected
And it took me by surprise.
For a moment I was blinded
As the light flashed through my eyes.

And then a clap of thunder came
As loud as it could be,
We even felt it rolling
Like a wave upon the sea.
It shook the plane so much, I fear
I had a little wee.

I thought I heard a mouse squeak
But ’twas only my friend Jim.
“Will we be able to put down?”
The question came from him.
I didn’t have the heart to say
Our chances were quite slim.

And so I took myself in hand,
And, likely tempting fate,
I simply said, “No problem,
We’ve had worse than this lot, mate.”
I hope I sounded confident
Though I didn’t feel so great.

We passed over the woodland
And, keeping our eyes peeled,
Looked far into the distance
And out there, well concealed,
We saw what looked like heaven:
A tarmac landing field.

As I called up the tower
And lined up our approach,
Jim looked at me through squinting eyes
And said, with some reproach,
“Next time I’ll fly commercial
And I might even go coach!”

This was written in response to Kreative Kue 358 published on this site.

 

Kreative Kue 358

Kreative Kue 357 asked for submissions based on this photograph:

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

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

I’ll Wait by John W. Howell © 2022

Look at all those idiot cows running for the hay. “Here Bossie,” they call and you would think these bovines never had a meal before. That old hefer with the bell is the worst. She goes clanging down the hill and the entire herd takes off like some one shot a starter’s pistol. Not me brother. There is no amount of that dry geen stuff that’s going to turn me into a galloping fool.

I have a certain degree of dignity to maintain. After all, I’m the youngest, and If I may be so bold, the smartest of the spring calves. That’s another thing. Those calves. You would think their mothers would teach them a thing of two. Oh no it’s like they are destined to be wild animals. Just the other day two of them jumped the fence and were found on the road. On the road mind you. The place with all those smelly metal cow flatteners flying by at break neck speeds. They were lucky the farmer got them back onto the farm.

Did anyone punish them. Oh hell no. Their mama’s cried buckets when they were reunited. If that had been me I would have been grounded for a month. Just shows how the neighborhood is going to the dogs so to speak. Ah, that reminds me. If that border collie snaps at me one more time, I’m going to give him a hoof he won’t soon forget. Damn thing thinks he owns the place. Always bossing everyone around.

Hmmm. I think I hear the old farmer yelling. Oh yes there he is down the hill cupping his hands and trying to be heard. It looks like he is yelling at me. Okay I’ll take a couple of steps to see what the commotion is about. That’s better now I hear him calling me home. Sure I’ll come home when you offer a little more than dried salad. What’s that? Did I hear him say grain? There it is again and this time I distinctly hear the word grain.

Okay then I have to cut this short. You see I do talk big when it comes to alfalfa but grain is a whole other story. If you will excuse me I need to get going. I guess I better signal that I’m on my way. See you all later.

“MOOOOOOOOO.”


My effort was:

Once upon a time…

A long, long time ago, November of 1959 to be exact, when this scribe was a mere ten-year-old boy not yet graduated from shorts to long trousers – a progression that wouldn’t occur until his thirteenth birthday – a young Cockney rock and roll star cum actor by the name of Tommy Steele released a record. The record’s A-side was Little White Bull, a song that young Tommy had sung in the film Tommy the Toreador, a musical comedy in which he had starred alongside big names of the day such as Sid James, Bernard Cribbins, Eric Sykes and Kenneth Williams. The record eventually reached number six in the UK and number three in the Irish top ten. Tommy donated his royalties from the single’s sales to the “Variety Club of Great Britain fund for a cancer research unit for children”. Nothing to do with this story, but nice to pass on anyway.

The premise of the song was that the little white bull was seen as an outcast and a coward simply for being white. Only black bulls ever entered the bullring, only black bulls ever fought. The poor hero of the ditty was excluded from the competitions by reason of his colour (although why he would want to subject himself to the degrading and cruel practices of bullfighting is beyond me). Finally, after a lot of practising and exercising, the determined little white bull made his way into town and into the bullring where the crowd laughed at him and ridiculed him. He pressed on, however, and was finally declared by the toreador to be a brave and a great little bull, the best in Spain.

That was 1959.

I wonder whether, four years before Martin Luther King’s famous ‘I have a dream’ speech, this song represented an attempt to address the evil of racism – starting, as it does, with the premise that the hero was the wrong colour to take part in the contest and that there was nothing he could do to change his colour, and ending on the positive message that his colour was an irrelevance, that his spirit and determination made him the equal of any bull born with the ‘correct’ exterior appearance.

If that is the case, then Little White Bull, which with its B-side Singing Time was described in contemporary music review outlets as “a jingly novelty ballad with Tommy using his Cockney accent for the title phrasing” (Disc Magazine, 14/11/59) and as “easy-to-listen-to numbers, especially Little White Bull, which has a Children’s Hour flavour about it” (Melody Maker. 7 November 1959), may still have something to say to us more than sixty years later.


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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 it (or a link to it) in a comment or email it to me at keithchanning@gmail.com before 6pm on 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 time.

Sunday serialisation – Andrea 15.1

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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.

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

Those seated around the conference table aboard the cruiser Sir Prijs were surprised when four more officers appeared in front of them. Two of these new arrivals slowly unscrewed their eyes then looked around the room in shock. The officers already present in the room stood smartly to attention and saluted towards the newly arrived foursome.

“As you were,” Andrea said as she and Ishmael took the two top seats at the table. All but one of the officers from the Sir Prijs sat back down. Tarquin ran across to Anusha and demonstrated on her his entry for the current year’s bear-hugging competition. He then took her hand and guided her to the seat beside his before re-seating himself.

“So why is Nusha here?” Tarquin asked, “Not that I’m complaining, far from it, in fact. If anything, I’m—”

“Bit of a treat for you,” Andrea interrupted, “I thought you deserved a reward for a job well done.”

Tarquin looked at the object of his love, his eyes moist with emotion, then turned towards Andrea and mouthed a silent thank-you.

“Okay, we’re here now, and we’re tired,” Andrea said, possibly a little more tetchily than was normal for her, but considerably less so than she was feeling at the time, “It’s oh-three-hundred, ship’s time. Can we get this done, so we can get back to our beds, please?”

“Sorry, Admiral. We had no idea what time it was aboard your ship,” Algernon replied with a grin that suggested otherwise.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah; and you didn’t think to ask, did you?”

Algernon reddened and muttered an apology.

“Just get on with it, will you?” Andrea snapped, “And maybe synchronise your time to C-pill when we’re done.” Algernon shuffled in his seat. “And before you say anything, Pippington; don’t!”

J’Lana Lustra started to explain in detail what they had found, and had managed somehow to produce early analyses of some of the foliage, which she presented on-screen, as she did the photographs of some of the animals, whilst cleverly omitting the scene where the elephant emerged from the forest and scared the living daylights out of them. Tarquin, backed up by Karolina Olsson and adored by Anusha Nambeesan, explained the relationship between the coordinates they’d visited and the equivalent coordinates on Earth.

Andrea and Ishmael sat back and pondered what they had seen. Ishmael spoke first. “If I understand correctly,” he said ponderously (having just pondered), “what you are suggesting is that if you were to land at those exact coordinates on planet Earth, you’d see the same thing you saw here. Is that a fair assumption?”

“If I may, Commodore,” Joop Wijnans said, “I believe that had we landed at these exact coordinates on planet Earth about five thousand years ago, we’d have seen the same thing we saw here.”

“So you’re suggesting that this is Earth five thousand years ago?”

“No, Sir. I’m suggesting that this is Earth a couple of millennia after she has recovered from the ravages of human hegemony.”

“I may be a bit slow here, Lieutenant, but MTS moves us through space, not through time. Am I right?”

Before anyone could answer, a voice appeared in every ear. They all heard the same message, but the voice was different for each of them. The message was simple. “Wait small. I’ll be there in a second or two.”

They all looked around in bewilderment. With only a few exceptions, none had any idea where the voice had come from. Those who did: Andrea, Ishmael and Tarquin, simply smiled.

“Sorry about the delay,” Kitara Navilli said, “you weren’t quite where I expected you to be.”

This was met with a series of dropped jaws and open mouths but only one faint, and that from the one person you’d never expect to be so fragile: head of security Shannon Crawford who had, until that point, remained standing. Anusha ran to Shannon and gently revived her.

Andrea stood. “Allow me to introduce Kitara Navilli. Along with its sibling, Willi, it is responsible for training our people in the use of the MTS technology that its people developed and offered to us. Is that a fair summary, Kitara?”

“Thank you, Andrea. Yes, very fair. What I am here to tell you is that our Mass Transportation System – I take it everyone here is familiar with the technology?” The sea of faces, mostly almost as blank as Kitara’s, suggested that assumption was at best unsafe, at worst flawed. “Very well, I’ll explain—”

“Briefly, please,” Andrea said, “some of us were dragged out of bed in the middle of the night to be here.”

“Of course.” It went on to explain the basics of MTS in as much detail as it felt was needed to allow its audience to have a basic understanding of what the technology did, which caused a bit of a buzz amongst those who had no idea how it worked.

“Now,” Kitara continued, “one thing to be borne in mind is there is no such thing as space…” [Gasps of amazement, incredulity or both]. “…and there is no such thing as time. There is, within each dimension, a space-time continuum as we understand it. Normally, when emerging from the gap, we return to the dimension that we entered from. Each dimension represents or contains its own reality or timeline. We think that you may have emerged in a dimension other than the one from which you entered. That suggests that whilst travelling through what you believed to be more than two thousand light-years of space, you may inadvertently have crossed dimensions. Admiral: with your permission, we’d like to send a small team of specialist engineers down here and have them travel back with you to your mothership. We have instruments capable of tracing the exact route taken, but they work symbiotically with our race and are useless without us.”

“Well, yes, of course. How many of you will there be? I only ask because we have a limited number of pods here.”

“Three will be enough.”

The Sir Prijs team went into a brief huddle, after which Tarquin, as senior officer aboard (visitors excepted), stood and addressed the room. “Actually, chaps and chapesses and… erm… others, there’s not much we can do here now. We have all the samples we need, and C-pill has better facilities to do all the analysis and other clever stuff than we have here. What I’m suggesting,” he said, looking around the room and receiving almost unanimous smiles and nods, “is that I can’t see any reason Sir Prijs shouldn’t return to C-pill right now.”

“And are you all agreed on that?” Andrea asked. Most of those around the table nodded and muttered expressions of agreement. Anusha jumped up, shouted yes please, threw her arms around Tarquin and planted a massive kiss on his right upper cheek. “Fine,” Andrea continued, “we’ll be ready to jump back as soon as your people are here.”

“Is that what you’re calling it?” Kitara asked, “Jumping?”

“Bit of a tradition in some circles,” Andrea explained, blushing a little, then, looking towards Algernon Pippington, “Set things in motion, Captain.”

Algernon looked confused. “Did you mean Captain Stuart-Lane, Ma’am?” he asked.

“No, I meant you.”

“But you called me Captain, Ma’am… oh, of course. Captain with a small c, because regardless of my rank, I am captain of this ship.”

“No, Captain, because I’m reinstating your former rank. Congratulations, you’ve earned it.”

Now it was Algernon Pippington’s turn to beam with pride.

The party left the conference room. The scientists returned to their stations, the rest entered the bridge.

Tarquin piped the Rear Admiral aboard and called out, “Admiral on the bridge.” All bridge personnel stood smartly to attention and saluted. Captain Pippington and Sub-Lieutenant Olsson took their places, the rest occupied such spare seating as was available.

“Your people aboard yet?” Andrea asked Kitara.

“We are,” came three replies.

“Very well. Captain?”

Over the ship-wide comm, Algernon announced, “Sir Prijs will go MTS in five minutes for return to C-pill. Time for an anti-emetic if you need one.”

Five minutes later, the displays shimmered and showed a new star-field and the very welcome sight of their ‘home’ ship in front of them.

Algernon opened the external comm and said, “C-pill – this is Sir Prijs. Permission to dock.”

“Recognised,” the computerised voice replied, “Opening hold. Enter when ready.”

The hold door opened like the mouth of a feeding whale shark, ready to take them aboard.

“Take us in, Helm.”

“Aye, Captain.”

The Sir Prijs glided smoothly through the open door and came to a gentle stop inside the belly of the larger vessel. As the human occupants disembarked and moved off to their positions within the mothership, the Jinthate contingent went into a close huddle, peering into their instruments and, it has to be assumed, discussing what they saw.

The last to leave was, of course, Captain Pippington. Before leaving his ship, he addressed the Jinthae. “Do you have everything you need?” he asked, followed by, “Please let me know if there is anything that I or my crew can do to assist you. I assume you got a decent set of readings.”

As the only one not directly involved in the investigation, Kitara spoke for its colleagues. “We have excellent readings, thank you, but it will take us some time to fully understand what has been happening. My colleagues are in discussion with some of the top MTS experts on our planet as we speak. I have no doubt they will come to a full understanding before too long.”

“Do you have any idea how long?”

“By your reckoning of time, I hope hours rather than days, but you should be aware that these are complex issues we are looking at.”

“Thank you, er, what should I call you?”

“You can call me Kitara – that’s my name.”

“Thank you, Kitara. I’ll pass this on to the Admiral. And don’t forget, if there’s anything you need—”

“Our main wish is to be left undisturbed to do our work. If we require anything, we’ll know where to find you. Otherwise, please respect our need to carry out this highly classified work in seclusion. Thank you for your hospitality and your help.”


Andrea is available as eBook or paperback on Amazon UK and Amazon US, or search your preferred Amazon store for B09PKCP25K