Tag Archive | Story-A-Day Challenge

Story-A-Day Challenge Post 7: The Historian

I’ve recorded a lot of thoughts and opinions over the years. It’s an occupational hazard when you are in my line of work.

The hardest thing I’ve ever done is try to write this letter.

Words have always come easily. Of course, I was busy recording life as it happened. It’s not so hard to write down what you see and hear.  Just the facts. Most of the time anyway. Okay, yes, I did embellish on occasion. Just for fun. Just to make it more interesting for the reader.  I’m sure James Thurber was recording a historical event in “The Night the Bed Fell on Father” and that every word was true in the best sense.  There’s been such a flap lately over storytellers and whether they should be held to the same standards as reporters. Why should they? Storytellers serve a different purpose than reporters.  Historians are more like storytellers than reporters. And as Machiavelli says, “History is written by the victors.” Doesn’t bode well for Truth, does it? I don’t want storytellers to give me the Truth. I want a tale that’s on the edge of belief. I want to be transported. I want my imagination stretched. I want my boundaries tested. I want to see what might be instead of only what is.

This letter has to contain the Truth. It has to convey the information without making it more than it is. If I make too much of it, she’ll panic, and I don’t want that. If I say too little she will also panic. So I’m struggling to find exactly the words that will make it okay for her.  So she won’t be alarmed. She will know it’s all right and that we will go on. She’s busy you know. She has the kids and her husband and her job. For all I know she’s not even home now. Her job requires a lot of travel. She may not even get the mail for a week. And she lives so far away. We’ve kept in touch. She calls. She emails. I write letters. I hope she shares them with her kids. I think it’s a lot easier to hand a piece of paper to someone. Although the newer technology allows sharing with lots of people all at once. It’s not the same. If you hand someone a piece of paper they may feel more obliged to read it. I mean really read it.  Not just skim over it like part of the din of ever-present media. It’s easy to skip over a post – blog, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest. If someone pauses and presses the “Like” button you’ve made an impact. If they stop and comment you’ve really made a dent. If there is nothing, it’s a whisper drowned in the roar of the ocean.

A letter makes people stop. It holds their attention. It doesn’t have to compete in the same way as other media. That’s why I have to be careful to make sure this letter is just like all the other missives I’ve sent to her. I suppose I could just post it and hope it gets lost in the cacophonous sea of updates, but then one of her friends will be sure to see it. And they’ll tell her. And we’ll be back where we started. No, I have to put it in a letter, in the same manner I usually do. At least this way she’ll have the letter that tells her all about the cancer and the treatment. And even though I’ll be gone, she’ll be okay. And she’ll know I love her.

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With thanks to The Speculative Fiction Muse http://www.katfeete.net/writing/specfic.php

Story-A-Day Challenge is courtesy of Forward Motion for Writers http://www.fmwriters.com/

And to my writing partners, Mary C Sutton and D Anthony Brown danthonybrown.me for the support and the laughs.

Story-A-Day Challenge Post 6: Eddie The Prophet

Eddie took another toke and exhaled slowly. The smoke rose and cleared and Eddie put the  roach away. As he lay back into the easy chair, he felt the familiar haze start to swirl and spin as he once again slipped into the space-time continuum. (Or “STC” as he lovingly called it – when you’re as familiar with something as Eddie was with the space-time continuum you often have a shorthand way to reference the familiar.)

As it ebbed and flowed he felt the pulse of the underlying vibration that he usually followed and eased into it. There are lots of vibrations, lots of levels, lots of frequencies, and in his early days, Eddie had experimented with many of them.  The disruption to his corporeal self as a result was hard to endure and gradually he learned which route felt the most comfortable and cause the least after effects.

The sound and color became stronger and then enveloped him and moments later deposited him gently on a staircase.  The stairs were stone and highly polished and led to a landing a short way above him.  Eddie climbed the short distance and found a table laid with an elaborate meal. There was a single chair near the wall facing out.  Eddie looked all around and off the edge of the landing over the railing and saw no one. There was no one in what appeared to be the town square below. No one on the staircase. No one visible in any of the windows or doorways.

The munchies were coming on strong and Eddie’s mouth started watering as he surveyed the table. There were many things he did not recognize, but the fruits and vegetables were similar enough to what he was used to eating that he felt safe in nibbling bites here and there as he circumnavigated the large table.  Finally, he reached the chair with his hunger mostly sated and he felt the fatigue that often beset him after his journeys. He sank into the chair and realized that it was much softer and much more comfortable than anything he’d felt in a long time. As his head nodded he was vaguely aware of another presence watching him.

When Eddie awoke from his nap he was not surprised to find himself surrounded by a coterie of beings.  They were similar to humans from most time periods, except that these people seemed to glow with a soft light that came from inside them.  “Kind of like seeing auras,” he noted they had different colors and intensities. The one nearest him seemed to have a soft purple glow and also seemed to be gazing him expectantly.

“Oh wow! Like nobody was here, man, and I was kinda hungry cause I traveled a long way to get here…” he broke off as he realized that they did not seem to be angered that he had eaten from the table. Their expression seemed welcoming and even joyful. The beings around him seemed to glow more brightly.

So he started again, “Food is like happiness, man. No one can be happy on an empty stomach.”

And the crowd below cheered.

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With thanks to The Speculative Fiction Muse http://www.katfeete.net/writing/specfic.php

Story-A-Day Challenge is courtesy of Forward Motion for Writers http://www.fmwriters.com/

And to my writing partners, Mary C Sutton and D Anthony Brown danthonybrown.me for the support and the laughs.

Story-A-Day Challenge Post 5: The Ring

She killed the engines allowing drift and gravity to pull the ship into the outer ring of the space station. She pulled together her equipment and costuming and entered the air dock.

Looking out the viewer she was struck again by the darkness of space, which is only broken by points of light. The space station was also dark with only enough light to keep visitors and staff from running into walls or each other. She followed the curve of the outer wall around to the main passageway to the inner ring. Entered the main terminal through the bioscanner ring, which validated her identity and her permission to be on the station.

This space station was referred to as Brachynexus Terminus V. Not terribly creative, but functional in that it referred to the station number and gave a rough orientation in the galaxy from Helios 1 and its third planet, ignominiously named “Earth.”

Sometimes she worked with the local replicators and holographic projectors, although in this case she was not familiar with their systems and since they seemed to be conserving power, she felt more secure carrying her gear. At least then she knew what she had to work with and she could generate enough energy from her pocket pack to manage her performances for the evening.

As she reached the hub, she found the requisite directioning personnel to tell her where to go and she proceeded down yet another dark corridor to the distraction center. These centers were designed to provide station personnel with entertainment and other means to distract themselves from being stuck in a space station millions of miles from the nearest inhabited planet. Since there is no such thing as being “off duty” when you are this far from the nearest colony, there were always station staff entering and leaving based on the current need for their services.

The first biped she encountered was female.

“Do you come here often?”

“No, it’s my first time on this station.”

“What would attract you to this bleak outpost?”

“Work.”

“They must pay you well. Do you offer androgenic tension relief?”

“No and no.

“Then what do you do?”

“You’ll see soon enough. Although a quick search of the universal tracker would give you the basics. Now could you please point me to the central emination point.”

“It’s right over there.

“Thanks.”

She set up her equipment and quickly changed her costume. Then she tapped into the ship’s communication center so that everyone would be able to hear her voice and anyone who was near a monitor would be able to see her, too.

“Hello everyone! My name is Desdemona and I will be your storyteller for this period.”

All around her glowed a ring of light that attracted them like moths. They walked, ran, stumbled and fell under her spell. She brought them to a different place and made them forget their dark circles.

Then she got in her ship and went to the next station. Spreading the light…

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With thanks to The Speculative Fiction Muse http://www.katfeete.net/writing/specfic.php

Story-A-Day Challenge is courtesy of Forward Motion for Writers http://www.fmwriters.com/

And to my writing partners, Mary C Sutton and D Anthony Brown danthonybrown.me for the support and the laughs.

Story-a-Day Challenge Post 2: The Rope

He took the rope.

He took the rope she handed him.

He took the rope she handed him and jumped.

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And while this thought strand doesn’t really qualify… Story-A-Day Challenge is courtesy of Forward Motion for Writers http://www.fmwriters.com/

Thanks to D Anthony Brown http://danthonybrown.me/ and Mary C Sutton for the challenge and the company while I wrote.

Story-A-Day Challenge Post 3: It Hit Me

It went something like this:

“Look out!”

“What?”

“Duck!”

“Huh?”

“Never mind….”

“Splat!”

Because then it hit me. The most disgusting, slimiest, yuckiest spitball ever created. It was the size of a baseball and nearly as hard, except the spit caused it to slide downward quickly… drenching my shirt. I looked at it and then vomited.

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Story-A-Day Challenge is courtesy of Forward Motion for Writers http://www.fmwriters.com/

Thanks to D Anthony Brown http://danthonybrown.me/ and Mary C Sutton for the challenge and the company while I wrote.

Story-A-Day Challenge Post 4: Winning

I was going out to the garden to grill a steak and knocked over my easel.  “Shit!” How am I supposed to deal with that mess?! I’m too hungry, even though the steak is not for me.  It’s for Max.  I know, I know, I spoil him.  It’s easy to do when he looks at me with those soft brown eyes.

I have some veggies I’m going to grill, too. Asparagus, red peppers, onions, mushrooms, corn on the cob and a couple of veggie brats. And I have peaches, pineapple and watermelon to grill for dessert.  I just have to make sure I cook his steak on one side of the grill and the veggies on the other.  I can’t stand the taste of  meat tainting my food.  As I said, Max is special to me. He has me doing things I’d never do for anyone else.  He’s stayed with me through all of it. Every class, every contest, every show, every disappointment. So I owe him a lot.  And steak is his favorite.

We’re grilling because it’s so nice outside and we love to be in the garden. Hence the reason my easel is out here. It’s my latest effort to emulate Monet.  Although my little garden here in the city is pretty small compared to the vast estate Monet had at his doorstep. Still, I’ve planted as many flowers as I can and tried to blend them so they don’t overshadow one another. Although that red rose doesn’t look very happy…. never mind I’ll have to take care of it another day.

Distractions are easy. I have to do one thing at a time. As you can tell I can’t walk and carry a plate of food without knocking something else down. Now where was I?  Oh yes! Grilling.  The charcoal is ready. The grill is clean.  I lay everything out on the grill.  The veggies are mostly on kabob skewers. The asparagus is in a grilling basket. And the steak is small — half  a pound will be two meals for Max. I’m leaving the fruit until after the veggies are done so there’s room on the grill.

OK, now to pick up my easel and all the spilled paint.  Luckily I prefer watercolors so the paint will wash off the flagstones with the rain I feel in the air. As I look at the canvas I realize it’s now textured. It was still wet enough that it picked up small bits of gravel and dirt and a couple feathers. And it looks… good.  It looks just fine.  The bits it picked up have added texture – not the usual for a watercolor and that’s okay. I set everything back up and head back to the grill in time to keep the food from burning.  Max doesn’t really care if I burn his steak, but I try not to add that many carcinogens to his diet.  (Yes, I did marinate the steak to reduce the creation of those compounds.  What kind of person do you think I am?)

As I pull the veggies and the steak off the grill I feel the first drops of rain.  I grab the plate of food and my easel and head inside.  Max grins and wags his tail.

I’ve got a good feeling about this painting.  I’m going to enter it in a contest tomorrow.  I think it’s going to be a winner.

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Story-A-Day Challenge is courtesy of Forward Motion for Writers http://www.fmwriters.com/

Thanks to D Anthony Brown http://danthonybrown.me/ and Mary C Sutton for the challenge and the company while I wrote.

Story-A-Day Challenge Post 1 – An Un-Fairy Tale

What makes a fairytale? And in contrast what makes an “unfairytale”? or is it “unfairy tale”? (is there a difference?) or perhaps “unfair-y tale”?

Never was there a time… A man never lived… or Never lived a man…

There was a fairy who wasn’t fair – not fair of face and not fair in his dealings. He struggled to face himself in the mirror every day because he was homely and because he knew he was not kind to himself or anyone else. He was selfish and it showed in his ugly countenance. Now if this were a true fairytale, he would be redeemed by the end of this story. He would learn his lesson and perhaps with the improvement in his outlook his appearance would change, too. Since this is an unfairytale, we do not find any such redemption.  He continues in his wicked ways unchecked throughout his life and dies miserable and alone. We could go through all the nasty things he does to others, the ways he tries to make them as unhappy as he is, and yet he never succeeds, so why bother describing his actions. The others go on with their lives, slightly disappointed in the moment they encounter him and still manage to maintain their equanimity. He never understands why he is the way he is. He never knows that his treatment of others, although rude and hurtful, is never enough to truly ruin their lives in the way that his is ruined. And he never comprehends that his life could have been different.

He lives a very long time because the powers that created him wanted him to change.  They wanted him to understand that his life could have meant something other than as a trial to those around him.  They wanted him to have redemption. And somehow he stubbornly persists until the very end. Even in death he is not repentant and not worried about where he will go after he dies. Of course, there is no hell, so he passes to the next world. And because that very passage brings with it the awareness of why one has lived and died, he is finally shamed by his behavior. He has no chance to make amends for the wrongs he has caused others. And no opportunity to atone for the sin of selfishness. He realizes he has only harmed himself and his progress. And so he chooses to spend the interval in solitude to contemplate how he could have changed and how he can correct himself and his path so that when he is given the next opportunity he can use it to its fullest. He won’t waste another chance and he will prove to them that he is deserving of that chance. His next life begins in abject poverty in the gutter of a large Asian city. And he is happy to be there.

So perhaps, since he is finally redeemed it has become a true fairytale. Maybe there is no such thing as an unfairytale after all. The End.

With thanks for the inspiration to D Anthony Brown http://danthonybrown.me/

and for the Story-A-Day challenge at Forward Motion for Writers http://www.fmwriters.com/