The Final Bullet

“I summon you, the beasts of war!”

One soldier suddenly screamed into the darkening lazuline skies nearly obscured by smoke and flame surrounding them as they huddled in a found trench.

The tokens that had moved around maps in the plotting and paper rehearsal of their campaign in the sterility of the general’s compound, had not lived up to its gritty reality.  If 100 things could have gone wrong, it seemed that 90 of them had. Watson again pushed away the mental reminder that this mission would be his final bullets for a while; he would be on leave in a few days. Having been back-turned twice, this mission was one for the Fail column. Those thoughts did him no good now when the few of them left were simply trying to survive long enough to report this failure of a mission.

“Janssen! What the bloody hell are you doing? Shut it!” Another soldier, Corporal Murray, hissed.

With his rifle raised overhead to the sky in defiant punctuation, Lieutenant Janssen continued his rant.

“Come! Cast your shadows upon my flesh. You think me afraid? Come then! Come find a gallant feast of fear in which to dine and learn that Janssen is a poor man’s buffet indeed for I am not ear-marked to be such food stuffs!”

Captain Watson’s head spun from Janssen’s outcry, to Lieutenant Rupali,  a meter on his opposite side in a clear do you hear this? expression before they ducked from a spray of stone and debris from another blast close to where they were. Blasts that were getting closer and closer as the enemy closed in.

Captain Watson wished he were surprised. He had always felt there was something off with Janssen but had kept it to himself. The man was a decent soldier, if high strung. When Janssen, what they at the time had thought was jokingly, fancied himself a modern-day Shakespearean tragedy in the making and started to sprinkle Elizabethan speech into his words, Watson knew he was no longer the only one who had begun to worry as signs of that off-ness increased. It explained Janssen’s language as the mission and his mind started unraveling. 

They have been on the run for three days straight as they wove their way out of the gauntlet of enemy territory. At times there was no choice but to quickly fish through the belongings of the slain, picking up ammunition and whatever supplies from the fallen who no longer needed them. Leave no man behind, an abandoned concept in their desperation for survival. Watson felt the weight from the collected dog tags of those he could get to that he carried in his med pack.

He knew they were so close to being saved. Their last radio communique before it was shot out had them no more than a couple of kilometers from the rescue approaching on the other side.  The last thing they needed was attention drawn to themselves. It was clear Lieutenant Janssen had not got that message as another grenade blast went off far too close to them. Watson knew the next one would strike true. They had to abandon their position.

“Come you spilled seed! A worthiness for only the lead of my bullets to eat!”

There was no ambiguity about it, Janssen had gone mad; the screaming man rising to his feet now put them all at risk.

“Jesus Christ! He’s going to get us killed!” Rupali swung his rifle around, his intention clear.

It was Rupali’s outcry that made Janssen turn and lock eyes with his fellow lieutenant. Watson and Rupali knew then that any chance at communion with Janssen was gone a moment before he turned and started screaming at a run when he was brought down.

“No!” Watson yelled as he scrambled out of the trench, the doctor already swinging his med pack around for use.

Some part of him registered the increased firepower as his people began to engage the enemy to give him a chance. He ignored it as he made his way to Janssen.   

He dropped to his knees, his mind already in medic mode as he began to triage. It took a moment before it registered that he was too far from his patient. It was another moment before the agonizing pain that caused him to drop his med pack from the bullet that tore through him made itself known.

But Watson knew it was bad. Very bad.

He did not notice that their rescue had finally arrived; his thoughts as he slipped into unconsciousness: Please, God, let me live. Don’t let this be the final bullet.


The Sunday Whirl  | Wordle 509
Language, Eat, Fish, Flame, Feast, Saved, Risk, Unraveling, Spray, Shadow, Stone, Off

Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie | Wordle #249
Gallant, Ear-Marked, Sterility, Fail, Stone, Plotting, Rehearsal, Punctuation, Ambiguity, 100, Back-Turned, Communion

Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie |First Line Friday: July 16, 2021
“I summon you, the beasts of war!”

A Cuppa Can’t Fix Everything

A perfectly brewed cup of tea can’t fix everything.

Words oft said by his French grandmother flittered through his mind.

Though it is surprising what a good cuppa in good china can help get you through.

Though normally a coffee drinker, sometimes grand-mere’s advice had its merits.  The aroma of the brew wafted from the bone porcelain cup he delicately held. The translucent teacup was over a century old. It had once been part of a set of twelve. Now only five complete sets, by some miracle the teapot itself and the single cup sans saucer he used now remained.

It was soothing.

But not soothing enough.

Nearly eight years: seven years, nine months and sixteen days to be exact.  

He looked at the packet of papers before him once again.

All the appropriate boxes were checked, statements filled out and signed, copies made and the original certificate and cheque made payable to ‘HM Courts and Tribunals Service’ attached.  

Such a cold black and white ending to something that began so red hot nearly a decade ago.

Form D8: Application for a divorce, dissolution or to apply for a (judicial) separation order

Form D80A: Statement in support of an application for divorce or (judicial) separation on the ground of adultery

Then wait for response.

Then Form D84: Apply to court for a decree nisi, conditional order or (judicial) separation decree or order

Then wait some more.

And then finally, FINALLY Form D36: Ask the court to make a decree nisi absolute, or a conditional order final

It was going to be at least another three months before all was said and done.

He just wanted it DONE!

The inherited tea set became the lesser by one unmatched teacup as it went airborne and crashed into the wall.

He cursed as he realized what he did and cleaned it up. Another thing the marriage had ruined.

The tea had been soothing, but not anymore.

He gathered what he needed, grabbed the packet and headed to the nearest divorce center.

He heeded another piece of advice and called a friend to meet at a pub later:

And when good tea in good china no longer helps, it usually means you need something stronger. Because sometimes a  perfectly brewed cup of tea can’t fix everything.


Mindlovemiserty's Menagerie logo

First Line Friday: May 21, 2021

Dylan gives the opening line and challenges you to create whatever comes afterward. Length, genre, and structure are completely up to you. Feel free to modify the line as you see fit, adding punctuation, quotes, or other bits if so desired. No need to tie it to the picture, unless you want to.

Or for more of a challenge, change nothing.

The line for this week is: A perfectly brewed cup of tea can’t fix everything.

The Beginning of The End

She sat among her own.

Around her were other historians of the old, the ancient, in spoken word alone. Some old, some young, all in awe of the hoarfrost woman, the eldest of the griots.

Eyes of stone that easily flashed in compliments or condemnations, were a study in consternation as she gazed among those gathered. Especially the young who dared challenge their way.

“Only mouths are we who sings the distant heart which safely exists in the center of all things!”

Bent and cane dependent, she moved boldly nonetheless to the youngest among them and held out a gnarled, aged hand.  He had tried to hide the offending item he carried, but as always, she knew.  

He handed her the scroll. Their history on vellum.

He saw it as the beginning.

She knew it for what it was: the beginning…

…of their end.


dVerse Poets Pub graphic

dVerse Poets Pub | Prosery: Here’s the thing about existing

At dVerse Sanaa tends bar and welcomes us to another round of Prosery where we are asked to write a very short piece of prose that tells a story, with a beginning, a middle and an end, in any genre of our choice.

Since it is a kind of Flash Fiction, there is a limit of 144 words. It must include a complete line from a poem in the story, within the word limit.

Punctuation can be changed, but it is not allowed to subract or insert words in between parts of the original quotation.

This week’s quote:

“Only mouths are we. Who sings the distant heart which safely exists in the center of all things?” – from Rainer Maria Rilke, “Heartbeat.”

Microwave

Shawn stood at the stove, fry pan in hand as warmed-up yet another of James’ impromptu dinners. The man had a gift for taking leftovers and whatever else he could find and conjure up deliciousness. It was the only way to get a decent meal in Shawn sometimes. He let work keep him up all manners of hours and a proper meal oft fell by the wayside in the process. James made sure he ate.

After three other roommates had come and gone in a two year span. James signed on. They gave each other a million reason to walk away from being roommates. Yet in a short few weeks of living together there had been a marked difference in the daily routine of the place. Holly claimed it was like the apartment had a cold draft that someone finally sealed and the place was warm again. Shawn knew the draft was him and the warmth was James. He was always the mar, the blemish, the thing wrong in the equation. Until James that is, who arrived with his own issues. His temper being the worst.

Normally Shawn would use the microwave, but he had conducted a food experiment that had not gone quite as expected. James understandably had refused to clean it this time as he had all the other times, but the man was a hard-wired germaphobe. Shawn would often just wait it out knowing James would cave in and do it. Still, every now and then the man would raise a brow and get a stubborn streak. And it would be like sand in his shoe  he couldn’t seem to shake out until it was resolved. This was three days later – that was a record. Shawn knew he really was going to have to do something about it. He couldn’t stand it if James employed the silent treatment again.

Over a year ago, the first and last time Shawn made a huge mess and didn’t clean, James absolutely did not speak to him. Being petty, after a week, Shawn had moved the sofa to block the front door, delaying him when he knew James was running late. Shawn sat at the desk on his, earphones on, acting engrossed on his laptop. He looked up just in time to see James eyes turned stormy as he glared at Shawn. He still said nothing as he lifted the couch, flipped it over where it landed on the side table smashing it and went on his way leaving the door wide open. Holly, their landlady heard the crash and came running upstairs, passing a furious James along the way. She walked up to him and smacked on the back of his head so hard he saw stars ordering him to fix it. He knew she did not mean the table. Shawn was not in the least surprised when the cost of the table was charged to his share of the rent. By then he had cleaned the apartment, apologized. He almost cried in relief when James very efficiently and justifiably proceeded to curse him out.

Somehow they made the worse seem better in each other. Now at nearly two years together it was so much improved. James made him do better. No James made him want to do better. Shawn knew James learned to better manage his temper from dealing with him. They balanced each other.

Shawn sighed looking back at the microwave with guilt.  He turned off the stove and got the cleaning supplies.

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Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie | Music Challenge #24: “Million Reasons” by Lady Gaga

The Sunday Whirl – Wordle #342
Mar, Draft, Stormy, Sand, Charge, Silence, Fry, Star, Wired, Manner, Gift, Guilt

 

Anamoly

He and his brother stepped up on the lower bar and leaned on the top, looking down on the scene. His piercing glacier eyes with a dark auburn brow arched watched the new haul being brought in.  While his enigmatic sibling had less of a care, other than that the beasts did not disturb his dealings, he was always intrigued by them. Especially the arrivals from a few days before. No, that was not accurate, he was intrigued especially in him.

The pens were always a cacophony of sound, but not from that one, he hardly vocalized. The other beasts were either snarling in the fury of their capture, or whining piteously as they licked their wounds from lessons in the folly of touching the wired netting. Dark haired, dark eyed and small in stature, he still thought to hold a certain menace. A thought proven accurate when the small beast had magically produced a hidden blade to slice the face of the huge blond beast that made the mistake of trying to dominate. The fight was efficient and over quick. It was going to have a permanent scar, which devalued the property, but ensured that he, and the huge blond he seemed to have made a partnership with since then, were left alone. It set him apart.

He saw how the others behaved around him. How they seemed to defer to him, gave him the choicest parts of their food, which he barely consumed other than an odd penchant for apples. If he was not the alpha of the pack, he was definitely not afraid to be the lone wolf. His mind seemed more focused, compared to most of the other beasts, his attention …sharp? Can such beasts have a sharp mind? He inwardly laughed at the folly of such a thought as he and his brother returned to the main building.

The beast was an anomaly. He did not like anomalies, they bred trouble.

Still…

His brother sat in the chair by the hearth, as always. Feet up on the trunk, his younger sibling sat with all arms crossed. He brought the hands of the uppers together before his face, as that multi-faceted verdigris gaze swept over him. One amused brow rose a moment later. He saw. He knew. He did not bother to acknowledge the protests as he got up and went to the intercom.

“Tranquilize the small dark one and bring him secured to my brother’s office. If the huge blond beast tries to protect him, he’s already damaged goods, put him down. And oh, you saw what happened to the last one who didn’t search properly – don’t make my brother repeat that censure. So, if you could be so kind as to check the small beast thoroughly this time?  We already see how resourceful this one is for a human.”

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The Sunday Whirl |Wordle 341
Haul, Mind, Snarling, Sharp, Arms, Hearth, Apart, Small, Saw, Scar, Bar, Trunk

Use at least ten of the words in a story or poem.

For the Chaos of It

“What do you think you’re doing, young man?” Clotho sighed in annoyance as Chaos blocked the doorway. He was waiting his turn to draw on the Turbulence.

The Turbulence, a shifting, moving, swirling, oscillation that was ever twilight on a horizon that was neither day nor night, earth nor sky nor fire nor water. All of the holders gleaned some aspect of the raw energy that is the Turbulence for their respective offices. It taunted and consoled, evoked terror as well as assurance where one felt a sense of WAS and IS and WILL BE simultaneously for it was timeless as well. In a lesson learned the hard way – when Chaos first entered the Turbulence as Chaos he thought he had only been gone for a few minutes. Chronos, the only Office holder who can sense their normal earthly time there, had to come for him, for he had been gone  several hours. Long enough that each of the Gods felt the pull on their Lifeforce. For ill or good, it is a balance and non can survive without the others, for while immortal as they hold an Office, their lives still move through the Tapestry as one. When one of their lives has not moved they all feel the stagnation on their own lives after a time. Another few hours and all human lives would have felt the pull. It is said if the Tapestry is ever finished so would all existence as is known. None of the Gods were willing to test that theory.

Clotho stood holding a large distaff of bright glowing filaments. The raw energy that she will spin into the silken threads that feed into the Tapestry. She dealt with lives from on high, the giving, living and taking of them when it is time. It would supply her needs for some time.

In contrast, Chaos lofted a small orb of his own roiling mass of dark energy. In the center was an avatar of earth, dark spots where his influence reigned. Some appeared as mere pinpricks, others as craters as though dirty, rotted. Where the energy she pulled was bright and shining, his looked of dark and ominous. He dealt with lives from below, throwing the proverbial wrench in the gears of lives. The necessary chaos that appears in all lives from time to time in order to appreciate the calm.

Chaos proved to be unusually well suited to his Office.  He and Fate spent their time in constant moves and counter-moves of the mortal lives in balance between them. For the most part the good maintains the upper hand as she often has the other officers to help her. Still, there are times he gets the upper hand, and lives up to the title of Chaos with relish. That there is still fighting in Afghanistan was as much Chaos’ influence of insurgent powers-that-be as it was War’s.

Chaos knew Clotho tried to time her visits to avoid meeting up with him, but on occasion, he can get their paths to cross. He leaned at the opening of the Access, the only way in or out of the Turbulence. His dark eyes were alight with madness, but they missed little.

She’s in a nostalgic mood for her dancer days. Haven’t seen her wear that pretty little number in a while.

“And where do you think you’re going, old lady?” An amused smirk was his answer as his dark eyes raked over her.  It tickled him to no end when he met up with Fate as Clotho. Though she looked a good ten years his junior physically, she was much older mentally and thus continually addressed him in her older identities.

“Seriously Clotho, you act like I’m the enemy. Every good old fashioned fairy-tale needs a villain, yes? I’m just doing my job.” His voice slid into its natural lilt, along with a little sing-song as he took one step across the opening.

“Need you enjoy it so much?” she huffed.

While Lachesis and Atropos were immune to his charms, pay him little mind; Clotho could sometimes fall prey. It was risky, but he wanted it one be one of those times. Why? Well because he’s Chaos, why not?

He stepped back just enough so that they both straddled the opening. One foot in their reality, the other in the Turbulence.  No one knew why, but other than Chronos, the only Officer whose power works within its confines, no two office holders can be in the Turbulence simultaneously. Stripped of the powers of their office they are mortal for the time they are within the Turbulence. However, no office holder can use their power through the door, bridging the threshold between the two states as they were brought pain to both, but neither were willing to concede to the other.

Perfect. Stay right there.

“Did you not enjoy your job, then? Don’t you sometimes miss feeling that thrill of an audience captivated by your raw charm?” He leaned in a little, ran a hand over along the side in the Turbulence hovering just over the diaphanous material of her dress at her shoulder and down her bare arm, not quite touching her body, but he knew she felt the heat, by the quick change of her breath. They each accepted the demands of their office graciously, but there were certain things they all missed from their mortal lives. “You danced so well. Should I not take pride in what I do? Especially when we all know I my job so well.”

“Too well sometimes. That’s why it often falls into mine to fix it.” Clotho eyes flashed, he knew what that meant.

Chaos rolled his head, the cavitation of his neck sounded loud in the otherwise quiet space. He knew she did not like the sound and smirked when Lachesis flinched as she morphed into place, holding the distaff as Clotho had. She brushed past him and placed both feet solidly in their time. The relief from the sharp pain of straddling the entryway evident as Lachesis  took a deep solidifying breath. Her eyes narrowed. “What are you up to, Chaos?”

What a stupid question. Boring!

“What am I up to? EVERYTHING!” His face all innocence until he screamed the last word. Then the innocent expression face transformed into a primeval malevolence. His voice echoed in the arch of the Access. Lachesis eyes flashed.

Dammit, not her!

“Do NOT test me young man!” Atropos morphed into place with brandished shears and a slate thread in her hand at the ready even as she still held the distaff, the threat clear.

Chaos hissed in fury as he felt the pull of his own thread in her hand as he was still half in their reality. He fully back-stepped into the Turbulence where she could not touch him. Having made her point, she gave a nod of her head then walked away. He watched her retreating back and smiled darkly at what he saw.

Go ahead, old gal – mission accomplished, I got what I wanted.

She will not notice it until it’s too late to do anything about it.

He just had to wait now.

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The Sunday Whirl | Wordle 325
clear, taunting, body, test, fury, war, mission, lesson, dirt, slide, pay, disbelief

 

Tapestry

Chronos, War and Death stood with Fate looking on that beautiful scroll of life known as The Tapestry.

Clotho, cheeky and young, her hair pulled into a loose braid to keep it out of the way as she works, sits crossed legged  at one end of the loom feeding it threads from her skein. The threads comprised of silky glowing filaments, are a storm of commotion controlled in her lithe fingers until the moment they touch the Tapestry where they flash a color and become Someone. A new baby born into the world full of despair and hope, ease and struggle and always the potential to hate and love.

This is when the more mature Lachesis with her nimble, near sensual fingers flash her needles and hooks takes over. All the important people Someone will ever meet, know, love or hate are due to the gentle, or sometimes quite the rude shove of her fingers and tools pushing and guiding every thread into and through the ever flowing stream that is the Tapestry into its design.

At the other end of the loom sits the matron among them, Atropos. Quick to tell you “I’m not your judge.” she often comes off as somewhat feeble to many upon first meeting her. As you get to know her, you realize just how tough and ruthless she is as she lifts the threads Lachesis is done with and the ever present, ever deadly, ever gleaming shears of her bailiwick sigh mercilessly as Someone’s part of the design ends.

It always amused Death how the human myths stories have the Fates as three different women. It took him a month to realize that the three women were in fact the same female at different ages. The power of her bailiwick enabling her to display them separately to work independently as they were now. Only War figured it out faster, taking a couple of weeks.

Whenever he stood before the Tapestry it never failed to impress Death that one of those threads is His own. It took him ages to discern which one was his and those of his compatriots. It is one thing to know the mystery such as an abstract myth, it is a daunting thing to actually see your life is literally in the hands of Fate. Death felt a sudden charge thrum through him, his dark curls lifting as if his body were suddenly receiving a boost of li…

Clotho?!

He just caught the sudden glow of his thread and immediately raised a brow at Clotho. Her warm eyes glitter with mirth as she snatches her hands away in time from the whack of Lachesis’ needles. Atropos merely shook her head.

“Dammit Clotho! I told you warn me when you do that to one of us!” Chronos cringed running his hand over his face and head. The unruly silver spikes standing on end glinted in the light. He pulled the minute timer out of his pocket with the other hand expanding the hour glass to its full size. He swung it towards Death, and gave it a gentle tap. He nodded before shrinking it down again and putting it away.

“Sorry!” Clotho winced, clearly not sorry at all.

“Is.. is that allowed?” Death asked shocked.

“To extend a life, including our natural ones? She has that ability, yes.” Lachesis nods, a slight smirk lifts the corner of her lips.

“Is it allowed to be used as recklessly as she did just then? No.” Atropos glared at the girl, but was equally, if secretly pleased as she loved the dear boy after all. Only one among them loved him more. Fate senses before she sees the mist and corrects herself to make that two among them.

Gaea appears in a celadon mist and lays a light touch on Chronos’ forehead. “I felt the shift as it was one of Us and thought you would appreciate it.”

He nods his thanks as his pain eased to nothing.

“She rarely uses it because it can wreak havoc in the Design to extend our lives, not to mention it throws off Chronos and I who have to adjust Time and Nature to account for it. Though you sometimes give her, and us, no choice on the rare occasions you choose not to take a life in your list.” Gaea cups Death’s face and lays a hand on War’s arm. War’s face remains stoic, but she can feel his flush of pleasure and comfort at her touch.

“So, any headway on this?” Her luminous eyes light upon the Tapestry.

The scroll of The Tapestry covers an expanse of loom several yards wide visually.  Visually. With a touch of Fate any section of the Tapestry can become enlarged enough to fill part or all of the room as it is now.

Usually the whole of it a moving thing, flashing in swirls and whorls of colors. Suns, moon and stars flow in and out marking the passing of days.  For the moment the almost whole of it was stilled except for one small section and that is a most frightening thing. As with any tapestry minor blips and snags happened from time to time in a design, it was expected.

What they were looking at was not minor.

There was a major snarl in the very fringes of the design, something that should never happen. They were only seeing the outer edge of the dark shimmering mass, but experience told Fate this was going to be bad. Essentially, a new world war to end all wars was in the making, but not one of War’s direct doing. Set to happen within by the end of the next century, it was a very long time in human years, not so much in their godly milieu. This was why the group now stood there conferring over it trying to figure out how if formed and how to untangle it. No one, including Atropos, wanted to simply excise the mass. The repercussions of such were nearly as dire to the Tapestry as the threat itself, but they would if they had to save the Tapestry, humanity, as a whole.

“Serbia again, Brother Mine?” The pale lanky brunette peer at the scene in front of him. His mercurial eyes taking in the moving parts.

“Yes and no, Brother Mine.” War pointed at a section with his sword in one hand, while picking some microscopic thing that dared mar his impeccable armor with the other. “This new skirmish in Serbia is the end result. You’d know that if you followed these three threads that twisted here.”

“No, you’d know if you followed these two threads here and here.” Sherlock used his skull headed walking stick to point out a different set tangles.

“Boys, do not start!” Gaea clucked her tongue gently, but definitively, a tiny flare of lightening cracked in her eyes.

“Yes, Mummy.” Both men chorused. War at least looked contrite, Death simply smirked.

Chronos hid his own smirk behind with the sudden need to cough, “Anytime now. I don’t have forever.” His gravelly voice chided the group as he pulled out the Hour Glass again to its full size again.

“But why those threads, those lives?” Clotho asked looking closer at the strands “They each started off normally and then twist.”

“Why any of them?” Gaea asks shrugs “It’s just not natural.”

“Really?” War cocks a brow at the pun.

“Hush you!” Gaea waved her finger at him threateningly, even as she smiled fondly.

“You did not cause this skirmish, War, but you may have to go down there and end it. Regrettably, there’s naught to be done for the lives lost if you do – else it is going to be massive. I’d really like to avoid going down that road again. It took Death and I weeks to sort out the snarl of WWII. That was horrific enough and this looks to be much worse.” Chronos shrank the Hour Glass again.

“Oh, how I detest legwork.” War groaned. He sees Death leaning over Clotho brows knit in concentration.

“What do you see, Sherlock?”

“I don’t know it’s too nebulous yet. All of the threads you and I pointed out seem to flow back into our natural timelines.”  Death spread his long pale fingers wide over moving section,

“Your natural timeline?” Chronos squinted.

“No, all of ours. Yours, mine, Death’s War’s, even Gaea’s…” Atropos joined in “Something in our natural lives, we’re all in this. All of us…”

“STOP!” Lachesis’ voice thundered. The very walls and the Tapestry shook with the power of it. Wordlessly she held out her hands to her other selves as they coalesced into one.

“What is it?” Death felt the pull on his Lifeforce. He could tell by the reactions of others around him, she had done the same to them.

“There’s a gap.” Her voice shook as she expanded and contracted several places on the Tapestry in rapid succession.

“Martha you’re scaring me.” Gaea reached out to the middle-aged woman before her.

She turned to face them, a look of horror marked her face, as her three voices spoke as one.

We’re missing a thread.”

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Haven’t done this in a long while. Nice to be back for a visit.

The Sunday Whirl – Wordle 320

struggle, power, fringe, mystery, list, star, swirl, road, storm, sigh, lift, charge

sundaywordle320

Of Life and Death

It was a bloody mess. There were no other words for it.

An oil tanker had jack-knifed on the bridge late last night, early this morning. Though the spill was minimal compared to its capacity, there was a spill. The bridge was temporarily closed and oh how the morning commuters loved that while a clean-up crew did its best. Still, they are only human and they were not in control of the weather, when they gave the all clear and opened the bridge again.

Several cloudbursts opened up over the city within a forty-five-minute period earlier that afternoon and a drunk driver spun out of control on slick patch of oil and rain. It caused a vicious domino effect that resulted in too many vehicles playing a deadly game of bumper cars before it was over. Emergency services from various neighborhoods were on the scene, sirens closed in from the distance with the promise of more arriving.

Ignoring the police blockade He drove directly onto the bridge and parked. He stepped out of the gleaming pale vehicle and stretched to His full height, His posture very erect as He walked away as the vehicle door slowly swung down and closed. His fair complexion and long limbs belied the strength of the nicely toned body beneath the black suit, shirt and shoes He wore. Though simply calling it a black suit was slovenly; it did not do it justice at all.  It was not simply black. A friend had once joked with Him that it was darker than midnight in hell and dubbed it hereafter. There was a certain something about it, the subtle sheen, the way it fit His form, yet it moved with His casual stride in an elegance that radiated bespoke. His dress shirt was open from the top two buttons that exposed a hint of collar-bone and chest and the expanse of His long neck. He wore an equally black fedora on his dark curls, tilted roguishly over piercing mercurial eyes, a patrician nose and full cupid bow lips. His leather shoes were near soundless, as soundless as the ever-present gleaming black walking stick with silver ferrule and skull head handle he carried.

No one noticed Him, as with a single determination, He stepped out into the middle of the tableau before Him and glanced around. His luminous eyes took in everything.

There was screaming and crying all around.

Two cars had flipped over. Three cars were on fire, a fourth was dangerously close to its own conflagration. A delivery car for Gladiola Florist crashed, flipped on its roof and landed on the roof of another vehicle that had slammed into a guard rail. The angle and weight of the car had it teetering dangerously on the sheer edge of the rail. Terror completely immured the young female driver unable to stop its slow, yet inevitable slide into the murky waters of the river below. He heard babies, children and adults crying and screaming alike. There was at least one body thrown from its vehicle in a tattered, mangled twist of bone, muscle, blood and clothing before Him. There several other vehicles in various states of damage. Those that could move on their own, slowly did, as their respective drivers settled and thanked their lucky stars.

He looked at the dust, gas, oil, carnage around Him and smiled; seventeen vehicles, thirty-nine lives.

Oh, it was a bloody mess, indeed!

With a small amused shake of His head He tapped the walking stick to the pavement.

And.

Time.

Stopped.

A quick tip of His tongue ran across his inner bottom lip. A rich baritone chuckle escaped from deep in His throat as a familiar excitement thrummed through Him.

Let’s dance.”

He grabbed the mangled body before Him first. Male, thirty-two, head chef at a restaurant, had not worn a seat belt, was thrown through the windshield and then struck by a SUV that crushed his torso, yet left him conscious. He had been a decent, if reckless, man in this life; there was no need to let him suffer that much pain.

The young female driver is the first to notice Him. Nineteen years of age, university student, late for class after making a delivery, the car was a present from her father, she had her hair recently cut at the salon. She smiled as her panic abated when He curved his hand from where He stands, yet caressed her face and eased her fear. He snatched claim of her before the car free-felled into the water.

A six-month old infant, shaken badly in the car seat from the impact, and his twenty-six-year-old mother, ribs broken that punctured her lungs in two places were next. The howls of the now childless twenty-eight-year-old widower, sat with them, his face frozen in the pain that will be his life for a long while.

An elderly couple was next. She, eighty-three, heart failure. He seventy-six, aneurysm.

Why you saucy little minx! Married a man seven years your junior. Oh, that had to be quite the tongue-wagging back in the day. I bet you were something!

They have shared fifty-seven years of married life together. In a blink of His eyes neither will know a day apart from the other.

A forty-one-year-old female was going into Insulin shock. He shook His head.

No, not this time. Next time you’re mine.

Even as He thought the words, He could see paramedics, currently frozen in time, were on their way.

He moved about the scene, laying claim to those whose time had come, noting those He sensed were close to His calling. He was moving on to another calling when a scene off to the side got His attention.

A man on the ground, tall, twenty-seven, athletic body – runner, his face frozen in a contorted scream. That was not what caught His attention. It was the man kneeling by his side. Mid-thirties, average height, solid form, blond hair streaked with silver, former military, doctor, his bloodied hands pressed on the athletic man’s abdomen.  An abdomen that was splayed to the world. There was a grim, but absolute determination on the doctor’s face.

He walked away to another scene that caught His eye. A woman, twenty-eight, average built, a nurse in the midst of falling away from the open door driver side of a car. The result of a shove from a meaty hand of the muscular built, forty-nine-year-old male driver, his grey eyes radiated hate that seemed to block out that pain he had to be feeling with the jagged shrapnel that protruded through the windshield into his chest.

Eyes narrowed He unfreezes just that scene.

The nurse hit the ground hard, then got up, and being professional attempted to get the man to see reason, but was cut off from speaking.

“Shut up you stupid bitch. I don’t want you touching me!” It was not as vicious as it could have been when only one lung functioned properly as he went into a diatribe of racist insults until the pain grasped him full on and he starts screaming.

Walk away, go help someone worthy of your kindness.

The nurse walked away to help a woman trapped in her car. Thirty-one, heavy-set, barista by day, student by night, mother of twins. The driver side door pushed in, in a way that was painful enough to render her unconscious.

No, not her; she is mine.

He took her. The nurse saw the moment she went from unconscious to gone, shook her head sadly and went to help someone else.

He looks at the man in the car, the screaming has become whimpering. The whimpering stops as He is noticed. And like the woman who spotted Him earlier, he knows it’s his time. Where she greeted Him in understanding, this one is terrified.

A life lived wrong, will do that to some.

The man belongs to Him, but He does not like ugly. And unlike the first man, He will not take this one yet, He will let him suffer in pain for a while more.

He returns to the scene with the doctor and unfreezes it.

“I promise you, it looks worse than it is.” The doctor keeps pressure on the wound, lashing material tightly around the man’s abdomen, essentially keeping his guts inside his body. “You are not dying today! You’re not!”

The doctor lifts his head looking around and for the briefest moment He is rooted to the spot with the impression of being seen as the doctor’s fathomless blue eyes appeared to look right at Him as he attempts to get the attention of paramedics. Unlike the good doctor, the athlete does see Him and starts babbling. It’s the fear and begging and galimatias of many when they see Him and know. By now He has heard it all in the final moments. He half shrugs, very much as the doctor is doing his job; He’s merely performing His. He sweeps His walking stick over the scene.

The athlete goes into cardiac arrest, becoming non-responsive.

“NO!” The doctor yells, his battlefield training kicking into high gear, applying countermeasures. “I’ve got you. Do you hear me? You’re not dying. I would fight Death himself if I have to. You are not dying on me!”

A sly twinkle appeared in His eyes at the impudence of the statement. Why is He so beguiled by this man, this doctor?

The irony of this literal fight between life and Death is not lost on Him as He watches the doctor, fascinated by his tenacity to keep his patient alive at all costs.

He remembers the other lives in the balance and collects them, including the racist, so he can return to the doctor, now working with paramedics who finally arrived by his side. The athlete is His to take, but for some reason He does not want to disappoint this doctor who has fought so hard.

He sweeps His walking stick over the athlete again whose heart immediately settles. His wounds are still what they are, he will have a harsh recovery, but no, he will not die from them.

He taps His walking stick to the ground once more and all time reasserts itself.

He’ll have to balance this with another life, but this life is His gift to the doctor. The immense relief in the doctor’s face evident, his smile genuine and warm as his patient comes around.

Oh, I will have to come visit with you again Doctor.

But works calls and He must heed. He walks to the pale car that opens to accept Him and drives away to the next site.

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MindLoveMisery’s Menagerie: Wordle-161
Insulin, Posture, Shake, Suffer, Cloudburst, Immure, Hereafter, Slovenly, Radiate, Gladiola, Restaurant, Galimatias
Use at least ten of the twelve words in a story or poem.

The Sunday Whirl: 305
Drunk, Snatch, Sheer, Single, Tattered, Lash, Rooted, Dust, Curve, Sly, Spun, Blink
Use at least ten of the twelve words in a story or poem.

Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie: Tale Weaver # 126 – Death
Write a story about death – from Death’s point of view.

MLMM – Saturday Mix: Dear Diary

Painting of a man, with an open umbrella, walking along a riverside promenade on a rainy day. A bridge and skyscrapers in background.

Artwork: Glenn Hunt

Is this what they mean by “I feel like a school girl”? I had no idea being with you could be this freeing, this decadent! The feel of your warm skin against mine. How your eyes glassed over as I plunged deeply into you – how messily you came apart! The feel of your disassembled body in my hands. Washing all the blood from the sheets was hard, but worth it. Angela Matthews, my angel! I thank you for the gift of your life yesterday, each time I walk along the pier, I will honor your watery grave wih all my heart.

This was dated April 22nd. Autopsy confirmed the timing is correct. He likely would have gotten away with all of them had our team not found his journal.”

The detective visibly shuddered with revulsion as he folded the copy of the journal entry, then looked to the gathered press for questions.

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We’re asked to write a page from a diary using the above photo as inspiration.

Mindlovemiserty's Menagerie logo

Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie: Saturday Mix – April 22, 2017: Dear Diary

A Long Season

Feeling every second of the long season, it had been an especially rough time for her these past months. She can, and has done little else but, imagine how his penchant to skin a razor with his trade likely had him meander a little too long. She knows it was not greed that delayed him, compared to the mediocre craftsmanship of what was immediately available, he knew what their wares were worth and would not accept a sou less than. She did not begrudge him for an instant for it, but winter had assailed the mountain early. Its velvety white touch unusually brutal and endless, it was unsafe to travel the passage.

She thought she would go mad stewing in helpless isolation with the same cask of chores to occupy her days. Checking the store of supplies, because how on earth did those darn insects keep getting into the flour was beyond her ken, as if there were aught she could do had she run out. Checking the flue near religiously because only one lesson of waking, and nearly choking, in a dark smoke fill room was enough. He usually did that – checked the flue among other things. God how she missed him! His bawdy laugh, his soft whispers, his strong hands.  Her one solace had been her sewing. As his lutalica was what made him a master craftsman in his trade, she was with hers. A massive quilt in shades of blue, with white stars and one small red comet, with coordinating pillow covers, now adorned the bed she wearily crawled into.

She did not need a calendar to know winter was nearly over.  The winds were not so brisk. When she ventured out, the sweet scent of something green in the air adds to the warm sunshine finally reaching the foothills. With heavy lids she pressed her cheek to a star festooned pillow at last, even as she looked out of the window to the cold dark night and smiled with hope. The passage would be open and he would be home soon.

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Seeing Stars, Charcoal – Karin Gustafson

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Sunday Wordle #292
Sweet, Touch, Months, Adds, Sunshine, Stew, Cask, Red, Velvety, Smoke, Foothills, Long

MLMM Wordle #148
Cheek, Heavy, Insect, Skin a Razor(Drive a hard bargain), Instant, Greed, Helpless, Meander, Assail, Mediocre, Passage, Lutalica{Lutalica: The Part of Your Identity That Doesn’t Fit Into Categories)

Use at least 10 of the words to create a story or poem. The words can appear in an alternate form, in any order that you like.

ManicDDaily – Seeing Stars, charcoal
This story was going to be something different, and from a male perspective until I saw Karin’s lovely art, then everything changed.