Mist

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“It’s fog.”

“What do you mean, it is fog? I can see it is fog.”

“You said mist. It isn’t mist, it’s fog. In common parlance, mist implies visibility of more than a kilometre. Less than that it’s fog. And this is fog.”

“I am not stupid, you know!”

“I didn’t say you were. I simply implied that you were mistaken. Get it? Mist taken, hahaha.”

“When I said mist, I was not defining or describing the weather, I was commenting on it.”

“What – missed? How is that a comment on the weather. That just means you didn’t make your target, or you haven’t seen someone for a while.”

“Not missed, mist. Em eye ess tee. Mist.”

“Okay, and I’m saying fog. Eff oh gee. Fog.”

“I think I see where you are going wrong, James.”

“Me? Going wrong? You do know I’m a genius, don’t you? IQ north of 140. I don’t do going wrong.”

“You assumed I was speaking English, my friend.”

“You mean—”

“When you were in my country, you spoke to me in my language, but when you hurt your toe you swore in English, didn’t you?”

“And so when you said mist, you were speaking…”

“Yes. I was speaking in German.”


This was written in response to Kreative Kue 268 published on this site.

Caught on camera

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Spring in the suburbs. The evenings were drawing out nicely. The cold winter days when the sky was overcast and the early sunset often meant that house lights needed to be on by about three in the afternoon were now a memory. The date was 13th May and it was twenty minutes to ten in the evening. Kenny and Kelly Kelley (Yeah, she nearly rejected Ken’s proposal because of that) had settled in front of the television and were binge-watching The West Wing for what must have been at least the seventh time. C J Cregg was in the throes of blasting out The Jackal (as only she can) when the smart speaker on the coffee table announced, at a level successfully designed to drown out any other sound, Motion is detected at the front door.

“This time of night?” Kelly asked, “Who can be at the door now?”

“There’s been no ring or knock, so it’s probably nothing,” Ken opined, “let me check.” Ken called up the app on his tablet and looked at the live output from the camera. “Nothing there,” he said, “might have been a car going past or something.”

“Go and look.”

“There’s nothing.”

“Please look,” she said pleadingly, “for me?”

Ken paused the DVD, got out of his seat and ambled to the front door. As soon as he opened it, he gasped. “Quick,” he said to his wife, his voice laced with urgency, “come and look. You have to see this.”

“What is it?” she asked, almost but not quite breathlessly (one hopes she could manage a five-pace sprint without becoming out of breath), “I can’t see anything.”

“Funny, that. Neither can I.”

“So why make me come out to look, if there’s nothing there?”

“Precisely,” Ken said with a note of finality. Just as he was closing the door, there came from an east-south-easterly direction, a report that was sufficient to shake the windows behind them.

“What was that?” Kelly asked.

“Dunno. Sonic boom?”

“Can’t be.”

“Why not?”

“Have you seen any hedgehogs around here?”

“What on earth are you on about, Kel?”

“Okay, serious face on. As far as I know, there aren’t any supersonic capable commercial aircraft operating, and we’ve never had military aircraft active here before. But look…” She pointed to a trail crossing the sky, “That can’t be right – can it?”

“Satellite?”

“Not making that noise.”

“Do you know that’s what made the noise?”

“No, but I can’t see anything else – wow!”

“What?”

“Fetch the binoculars. It’s all over Twitter.”

“You taking the pee again?”

“No, look.” He showed her the screen of his tablet. “The hashtags #sonicboom and, inexplicably, #alieninvasion are trending big time.”

“Do you think it might be aliens?”

“Given that the nearest exoplanet in the so-called Goldilocks zone of a suitable star, with a surface temperature that would support life as we know it is more than twenty light-years away, you’d have to accept faster than light travel to assume something could come here from there – and so far, there’s no support for that or for the use of wormholes. So no. Not aliens.”

“Are there no planets closer?”

“There are some closer, but if the aliens are adapted for life at plus or minus hundreds of degrees, they’d never survive here.”

“God, you’re boring. Let’s get back to C J Cregg.”

“Suits me.”


This was written in response to Kreative Kue 267 published on this site.

Quarantine

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Literally meaning ‘40 days’, quarantine comes from Italian quarantine, from quaranta ‘40’. In the early 16th century this was the number of days during which a widow had the right to remain in her deceased husband’s house. A more familiar meaning refers to a period of isolation imposed on a person or animal to test that they are not carrying a contagious disease. This was first used in English in the mid 17th century, though the practice dates back to the 14th century, when the ports of Venice and Ragusa (now Dubrovnik) required ships from plague-stricken countries to lie at anchor for 40 days before they were allowed to enter the ports. [source: OED]

“What are the chances the local police will fall for this, Hal?”

“Don’t call me that, people might be able to hear. Call me Henri, like we agreed.”

“Who can hear us? There’s nobody around.”

“Say you don’t know…”

“I don’t — damn, I fell for it again. Wipe that grin off your face Hal Fields. This is no time for tomfoolery!”

“Listen, Jax, we agreed, didn’t we? I am Henri Deschamps and you are my wife Jacqueline. We’ll never pass as French as Hal and Jax Fields, will we? And try to work on the fake accent. Not only the words you use but the way you say them marks you out as a Californian gal.”

“And your Louisiana drawl isn’t a giveaway?”

“But my Louisiana upbringing exposed me to beaucoup de francais!”

“Okay, Henri, I’ll try. But remind me why we need to do this.”

“If they know we’ve just flown in from the good old US of A, we’ll have to go into lockdown for fourteen days, and that’s all we’re here for. We’d see nothing of the country and that’d be a whole lot of money wasted.”

“And time.”

“We haven’t got any.”

“Any what?”

“Thyme. We brought cilantro and oregano but not thyme.”

“I have some. Here.”

“Oh thanks, Jacqueline. It’s right what they say, isn’t it?”

“Enlighten me.”

“There’s no thyme like the present. Ouch! What was that for?”

“”What do you think?”

“Fair point. When do we have to give these dogs back?”

“I rented them for two days. Long enough to fool people, you reckoned. Why do we need them?”

“Because people coming from France would come by ferry or train and bring their dogs with them. Folk coming from stateside generally wouldn’t. Reinforces our story.”

“And are you sure that people arriving from France don’t have to quarantine?”

“I reckon so, why?”

“Because the news I just heard said it applies to all arrivals except from Ireland and someplace called the Channel Islands.”

“So maybe we should change our clothes and try to speak with an Irish brogue or lilt, if you prefer.”

“And I suppose that means we’ll have to change our names – again.”

“Okay, you can be Jackie – that probably works in Irish. What’ll you call me?”

“Eejit!”


This was written in response to Kreative Kue 266 published on this site.