Flame #writephoto

flame

Thanks to Sue Vincent of The Daily Echo for her Thursday #writephoto prompt.

Going Hungry

“Eat your dinner.” Mogreth’s father wagged a half-eaten leg bone at the meat sizzling on the flames.

“I’m not hungry.” Mogreth slumped on the log bench.

“Your mother’s testing a new marinade. The least you can do is try it.”

Mogreth watched his mother gnaw on a thigh bone. Last night, she cooked a rump roast that his father gobbled without taking a breath. Tomorrow, she would probably grill ribs slathered in fat. Maybe stir up a meaty stew with grisly leftovers and giblets. Mogreth wrinkled his nose at the thought. “Why can’t we steam some broccoli or cauliflower?”

“Vegetables are horrible for your health,” his mother said. “Have you ever considered the havoc they wreak on your digestion?”

“Disgusting,” his father muttered and tossed the bone over his shoulder into the growing pile.

“I could grow my own,” Mogreth pleaded. “I found the perfect spot for a garden.”

His parents sighed with weariness, exhausted by his perpetual nagging. But he couldn’t help it. He wasn’t like other teenagers with their bristly hair and yellow, stumpy teeth. His room was immaculate, clothes pressed, shoes polished to a spiffy nut-brown. He studied books on horticulture and nutrition, his thick fingers gliding over the glossy pictures. If he had his druthers, he’d spend his days digging in the soil, pockets bulging with seed packets and dreams brimming with the perfect zucchini.

He stared into the fire. No one understood his longing, his peers least of all. They preferred exploring caves, stomping on small animals, and clubbing villagers, a divergence in tastes that made him a prime target for teasing.

“You really should try this.” His father beckoned to his mother for another crispy morsel. “The sauce adds just the right amount of zing. Clears the sinuses. Nothing like food roasted over an open flame.”

Mogreth’s mother giggled at the compliment. “Don’t wait too long or your father’s going to suck the meat off that last bone.”

“Help yourself.” Mogreth waved a gloomy hand at the charred meat. He might be a troll, but the whole idea of munching on villagers disgusted him. He’d rather go hungry.

A bit of silliness since I’m in an editing fog.

Thanks for reading!

The Swan #writephoto

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The reaper perches on her bedpost, obsidian feathers secreted in the ebony of night. Below him, the woman lies supine, one leg extended, toes pointed. Her thin arms arch upward in a dream, supple as wings in spite of the brittleness of her bones. He understands her grace, the persistence of her soul’s dance.

Moderato e maestoso. Her lips part as Tchaikovsky swells in her head. The scène finale. The reaper cranes forward, immersed in the sublime pathos of the song. She dips her chin in gratitude, elegant white feathers and fingers cupping her heart. The reaper weeps and splays his black wings. Her dream ripples across the lake and she glides into the golden light, forever a swan.

**

Thanks to Sue Vincent of the Daily Echo for another mesmerizing #writephoto Thursday prompt.

Passage #Writephoto

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Gabby tapped a finger on the holo-tab, scrolling through the checklist. She mumbled to herself to combat the interminable silence, “Done. Done. Done. Done.” Her shift was winding down, but she could squeeze in one more scan without a problem. Her team had been troubleshooting the anomalies for six shifts without a clue. Not one fritzed wire or crossed link, no cute little rodents sizzling in the circuits, or hideous viruses spewing garbled data.

“All systems operable,” the maintenance system announced. “Do you wish to proceed to level thirteen, mod seventy-four?”

“Not if I can help it,” she muttered, heading for the lift-port.

“Repeat,” the disembodied voice instructed.

“Yes. Mod seven four.”

“Proceed to the lift-port.”

“Obviously.” She pinched her fingers together in the air, minimizing the program. Trying to have a normal conversation with Opie, the ship’s original Operations AI, was like cooking with nutri-sims, the epitome of unsatisfying.

She hummed through the silence in the lift and exited on the thirteenth level – gray walls, gray floor, gray ceiling, same as every other level. Tracking the numbers on the doors, she strolled the corridor, the shipboard sounds muted, peaceful, sedate, boring. She’d just turned twenty-five, a fifth of her lifespan ticked off. Done. Done. Done. The thought of another hundred years of checklists punctuated by the same telebooks, revolving holofilms, and regurgitated musi-tunes tempted her to hack the entertainment database for some merciful sabotage.

At the panel to mod seventy-four, she punched the code into the slanted access plate, but the door didn’t budge.

“Greetings, Gabriela.” The pleasant voice of the modernized communications system chimed, breaking the ship’s silence.

“Hi, Darling.” The annoying name made her wince every time she said it.

“I’ve detected an anomaly. Do you still wish to enter?”

Gabby hesitated. She raised her hand and spread her fingers, opening Opie. “Safety analysis.”

“Perfectly safe,” Darling replied.

Opie ran through his data protocols. “Recommend initiating Safety Code SC-Six.”

“He’s a worrywart.” Darling sighed. “Of course, I understand if you’re anxious about missing the shift’s nutri-sim offering. Turkey and stuffing.”

“Open it.” The panel glided into the wall, and Gabby peeked in. At first glance, the mod’s interior appeared normal – a quietly blinking octagonal room, ten feet across, each gray wall dominated by a thin plasteel door that shielded the circuitry.

“Straight ahead,” Darling said.

“Don’t sound so giddy.” Gabby entered the mod and tapped the code from the plasteel door into Opie’s scanner.

The holo-tab blinked. “Anomaly detected.”

“How irritatingly repetitive.” Darling huffed. “Is he always like this?”

“Usually.”

“Well, are you going to open it?”

Gabby aimed her loc-key and hit the switch. The hidden pins clicked and the door released. She tugged it open and inhaled.

Beyond the gray portal the anomaly stretched forward in a rough passage constructed of actual stones and washed in gold and blue from the peculiar lights. At the end of the corridor, a cerulean brightness drew her eyes, a color seen only in images of a lost Terran sky. Yet neither sight could compete with the beauty of the sound. Beyond the elegant arches, voices and music soared, a sacred chant that welled in her chest, rose to her throat and caught in her lashes.

“Safety Code SC-Two Initiated,” Opie announced.

“Well, there you go,” Darling tsked. “He’s called security. You’re going to have to decide.”

“Decide?” Gabby stared down the length of the anomaly, the sapphire light and harmonies beckoning.

“To stay or go,” Darling whispered in her ear. “How much time do you have?”

“Seventy-three seconds,” Opie replied.

“Oh, for heaven’s sake, Opie,” Darling chided him. “One hundred years, Gabriela. You have a hundred years.”

Gabby stepped into the golden passage and closed the door behind her.

***

Many thanks to Sue Vincent of the Daily Echo for her #writephoto prompts that spark the imagination. She posts them on Thursdays. Join the fun!

Sunday Blog Share: 12 things your grandparents said…

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12 things your grandparents said…

By Sue Vincent

When you are very young, forty seems ancient and grandparents are, of course, so old they are practically another species. Like dinosaurs…almost- but-not-quite extinct and very much at home in museums. Their homes bear the traces of a ‘bygone era’…you know, a whole twenty years ago… and it is impossible to imagine yourself walking in their shoes. Not that you would be seen dead in them…

I clearly remember my own feeling of awe when my mother reached the venerable age of thirty. I was already pretty much grown up… in my own eyes at least… and could barely conceive of a time when I would be that old. These days, of course, thirty is a spring chicken and…

(Continued: 12 things your grandparents said…)

Violet Sky #writephoto

Sue Vincent #writephoto

Sue Vincent #writephoto

Violet Sky

We gathered at the border of the road, called out of our misery by one of the children. The dawn bled, a bruised and bloody wound. How fitting for the sixth extinction.

Yet, it was a dawning.

I had thought, long before the die-off, that we might poison the planet and arise one morning in disbelief that we couldn’t survive on an obliterated world. Or perhaps disease would usher mankind to the pyres, our super-viruses ravaging our weak and chemical-laden bodies. Of course, mutual annihilation was a possibility, the promise of our youth and sum of our talent and treasure dedicated to war. The end always made for entertaining speculation.

Who would have believed the culprit was time, all spiraling down with the slow ticking of the clock, the December of the human race.

I peered at the upturned faces of our isolated band as the heavens thrust spears of light through the clouds’ closing gash. My companions’ bodies appeared to glow in the rare sunlight, their radiant souls shining through, reclaiming lost beauty. In their smiles, I witnessed the dawning of hope and hadn’t the heart to tell them we were ghosts.

**

Thanks to Sue Vincent of The Daily Echo for another enticing photo prompt. She tosses these out to us on Thursdays and reblogs our submissions. It’s great fun. Head over and give it a try!

The Crypt #Writephoto

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Sue Vincent of The Daily Echo once again provided a lovely photoprompt to fire our creativity. Thank you, Sue.

The Crypt

The passage stretched longer than the old priest promised. A final door scraped open into a rectangular crypt, fluted arches interwoven in the dimness. Cobwebs luffed like gossamer sails as the air stirred. Eight slender columns splayed their stone fingers, supporting the vaulted ceiling, its paint flaking from the solemn faces of watchful gods.

In three rows lay the stone sarcophagi of dead kings, their likenesses carved into the dusty lids along with narrow slots for their spirits to breathe. The princess gazed straight ahead, whispering a prayer as she walked between the ancestral corpses, skeletal reminders of her royal lineage and her father’s impending doom.

The Big Story #writephoto

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Another of Sue Vincent’s irresistible photo prompts from the Daily Echo. Thanks, Sue!

The Big Story

Rebecca inhaled and checked her teeth in the rearview mirror. Old Grumpy Pants was retiring from the Valley Voice, and that meant someone else’s butt would inherit his coveted chair. She needed one big story, a fabulous story, and she’d be renovating her sunny house on the beach and saying sayonara to her second job.

That story awaited her behind those looming stone walls and an iron-bound door large enough to accommodate a troll. The renowned fantasy author and recluse, Montague Ferry, hadn’t given a single interview since…ever, and she was determined to set the literary world on fire.

His books were sensations, translated into 45 languages and soaring to number one the instant they hit the e-street. She’d never liked fantasy, but she’d read one of Ferry’s novels and ended up gobbling all twelve down in one gluttonous binge. They were tastier than chocolate, and like every other person on the planet, she was addicted!

Ferry’s tales were intensely realistic. His worlds rose from the pages as if they were places he’d visited—with histories and languages, cultures and architectures, religions and politics. The characters were lovable, detestable, conflicted, and redeemable, portrayed with brilliant emotional authenticity as if he’d sat in a corner with his laptop and witnessed their actual lives unfolding. Epic trials escalated with each book, and the cast of characters expanded, unique faces flung unwittingly into the story and forced to uncover their strengths and talents, meet the challenges, or die trying.

Rebecca grabbed her recorder, exited her car, brushed her skirt, and marched up to the door. She reached for the knocker and something about it prickled the hair on her arms. Her hand stopped, suspended in mid-air, inches from touching the iron ring. The odd sensation wasn’t fright, but it wasn’t comforting either. Closer to an adrenaline rush before something momentous or life-changing. She puffed her cheeks and blew out a breath. “It’s only an interview. Relax.”

She knocked. The door opened. A diminutive Montague Ferry looked up at her through a pair of round granny glasses. His nose was shaped like a potato, and his hair looked as though he’d been recently electrocuted. “Here for the next big story?” he asked.

“Uh, yes.” She blinked. “I’m Rebecca from the Valley Voice.”

He wrinkled his brow. “You realize the commitment you’re making. This could take a while, and it doesn’t always end well.”

“I’m willing to give it a go,” she said with a smile, the encounter strange but far smoother than she’d anticipated. Ferry’s reception wasn’t jubilant, but he hadn’t slammed the old door in her face. She tried to peer around him into the home and couldn’t see a thing in the dim light. “I’ve been planning this for days, Mr. Ferry, and I promise not to waste your time.”

“You don’t look like the fantasy type.” He tapped a knobby finger on his chin.

I’ve read all your books. Emeris, the dragon tamer, is my favorite character.”

“Emeris, huh?” He sized her up. “Your timing isn’t bad, but you’ll have some competition for that one. He’s popular.”

“Pardon?” She laughed, the man so quirky. “Well, why don’t we go in and get started.”

“You’re certain?”

“Absolutely.”

Montague pursed his lips, nodded, and stepped aside. Rebecca grinned and walked through the ancient door that closed behind her.

The cavern’s torchlit walls domed over her, and the air reeked of smoke. The dragon swung its head, nostrils flaring, serpentine scales rippling over long sinuous muscle. She froze as its tail slithered across the stone floor at her feet in a shimmering stream of gold. Horns spiraled from a reptilian head and spikes laced the ridged back between its taloned wings. The beast inhaled, chest swelling, jaws gaping. She screamed.

A chain whipped around the dragon’s neck, wrenching its head aside as a gout of flames meant for her spewed against the blackened wall. “This way!” Emeris shouted.

In utter panic, Rebecca spun for the ancient door and hit nothing but stone; the door vanished.

Montague Ferry sat against the wall typing furiously on his laptop. “You’ll get the hang of it,” he assured her. “This will my biggest story yet. Now, run over to Emeris before you’re broiled alive.”