Roulette

ball casino chance gamble

The croupier dropped the ivory ball and spun the wheel.  “12,” he announced.  The croupier organized the winnings and handed out the chips.

Sally placed her bet off the grid. “Spin me a wild ride, croupier.”

The croupier gave her a strange look, then dropped the ball and spun the wheel.

It kept spinning.  And spinning.

The casino fell silent as Sally took the croupier’s hand. “Looks like I won,” she whispered as she grabbed him by the wrist.  She licked his neck and nibbled on his ear. “Now give me my prize.”

***

This was written for Sammi Cox’s Weekend Writing Prompt #107spin. Believe it or not, I had to do research to find out how roulette worked for this story, further showing how sheltered I’ve been in my life.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
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Ice, Ice Everywhere, But Nary a Place to Skate

Space

Fourchad took the first step on planet Khione, entirely blanketed with ice, ripe for exploitation. They’d melt the ice and create water for the colony.

Brevard scraped a sample of the ice into her scanner. “Something’s not right.”

“What is it?”

“Water has unique physical properties – the weight of your body should add enough pressure to turn the ice into water and cause you to slip.”

Fourchad’s heart skipped a beat. “If it’s not ice, what is it?”

“Scanner says carbon dioxide. Dry ice.”

Wind chilled their hearts and the dead planet. They didn’t have the fuel to leave.

***

This was written for the May 23rd Carrot Ranch Promptno ice.

This was based on a chemical engineering practice test I once took.  Suffice to say this is about water’s physical properties and the weird slope of the solid/liquid line on the PT diagram. Carbon dioxide, dry ice, won’t melt due to pressure, so you won’t slip on it.

 

Consumption Chic

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The princess awoke amidst heraldry and cushions. Her red lips and flush cheeks were perfection straight out of bed. She put no hensbane in her eyes, as they were already bright.

She coughed into a handkerchief as she stood and found blood left behind. Such is the price of beauty!

(50 Words)

***

As part of my series where I showcase different prompts across WordPress, this was written for 50 Word Thursday.  In addition to the photo, Kristian and Teresa gave this quote:

“Her lips were red and perfectly shaped, her cheeks blushed prettily when she spoke.”
– Neil Gaiman, Stardust.

If you’re looking for a flexible prompt, look no further than 50 word Thursday!  You can do anything as long as you write in increments of 50 words.

My response was inspired by the fashion trend in the Victorian era to look like you had consumption (or tuberculosis).  People would do things like dilate their pupils to look pretty, or give themselves that healthy flush that was indicative of certain stages of the infection.  Consumption chic was so popular, in fact, that it actually delayed diagnosis of tuberculosis in many women who followed the trend.  CRAZY.

Bhopal

refinery

The December morning air smelled cool, fresh,
Coals of industry a faint background scent.
Bhopal contained an old pesticide plant
That employed locals and brought in money.

Poisonous intermediate
The methyl isocyanate
Built pressure in the old vessels,
But the aging pipes and valves failed.

They thought the meter
Failed and went on home
To leave the pressure
Building on and on.

But then
It popped
Poison
Leakage

Breath
Pain
Death
Vain

Agony of 3,787 deaths
Many more injuries, some severe

No litigation could repay this woe
But it failed to bring justice anyway.
Innocents were killed, but money was made,
Fulfilling the prophecy of profit.

***

This was written for the Terrible Poetry Contest #21, an engineering fail.

When I was in school for Chemical Engineering, the professors repeatedly pointed out Bhopal as the biggest engineering fail we should never aspire to. I think the poem got darker than it should have, and I actually feel like maybe I shouldn’t have written a poem about it, but… I hope I wasn’t funny so much as solemn and contemplative about the subject.

 

Elizabethan

queen-62969_640

Sweet sugar of lead
Stain my face alabaster
Strike fear in their hearts

***

This was written for the Ronovan Writes #254 challenge: heart and sweet (bolded).  The other inspiration for this was Elizabeth I, famous for being respected abroad during her relatively peaceful reign.

Also inspirational is one of my (weirdly?) favorite YouTube channels – English Heritage.  They put out a video of Elizabeth I’s makeup that, for some reason, I watched.  HER MAKEUP WAS MADE OF LEAD WTF.  And so, with lead sugar being a thing, I wrote this haiku.

Book Review: Ancillary Sword

After completing Ancillary Justice, I decided to go on to complete the trilogy this month.  The amazing first book in the trilogy demands completion of the series, and I’m excited to finally get around to it.

The Book

51ccvZCGFHL._SY346_Ancillary Sword
Author: Ann Leckie
2014
Amazon Link

While deliciously written, Ancillary Sword doesn’t quite live up to the fantastic, near-perfection of Ancillary Justice.  I found some parts of the book to conflict with earlier information, and main character Breq has enough social, physical, and mental power to make all potential conflicts insignificant.  With such a massive Civil War ready to break out, Ancillary Sword felt incredibly slow and devoid of action.

Non-Spoiler Review

This book was ok throughout most of it.  It felt a little slow – especially in comparison to the fantastic Ancillary Justice – but there was a lot of good world building.  It talked a lot about the importance of tea, about the importance of dishes, antiques, colors, paint, and mourning rituals.

Which left me asking myself, “What?”  I wondered, for a good portion of the book, why I should concern myself with such niceties and social constructs when (spoiler for Ancillary Justice aheadthe first book ended with the outbreak of a massive civil war.  Ancillary Sword had very little to do with the new Civil War, and very little progressed with what I anticipated to be the overall plot.  While the stuff about tea and dishes was soothing to read about, it didn’t satisfy my itch to see what happens next.  I don’t feel like I gained anything by having read this book.  It felt like it could have been the episode of a TV show.

While I thought Breq, the main character, was a little bit of a Mary Sue in the first book, it was painfully obvious in this one.  Whereas her superhuman speed, strength, intellect, memory, and defensive capabilities were present in the first book, they didn’t matter very much.  She was facing odds so steep that it didn’t matter how strong she was and how much she knew.  In this book, there weren’t many problems that she couldn’t instantly solve.  I didn’t like that.

SPOILERS REVIEW

The book begins well enough, but it quickly became apparent that it was going to move slowly.  It took a long time reviewing what had happened in the first book, and it lamented the fate of semi-ancillaried Tisarwat for longer than I expected.  Tisarwat’s fate didn’t quite mesh with what I thought I’d learned from the first book, where a body becoming an ancillary seemed very final.

As well, there were plot holes concerning Breq’s powers.  Early in the book, she goes to the firing range and is better than anything human could possibly be.  In the climax, she misses her target because he ‘ducked at the last second,’ and this ended up destroying part of a space station.  The mistake, after a book filled with Breq’s perfection, felt so desperately out of place.

I wasn’t a big fan of the plot of this one.  It felt like a rehash of one of the (albeit good) parts of Ancillary Justice combined with a lot more social information, some of which was entirely unnecessary and almost all of which was pretty boring for me.  There were extended scenes about wanting sex for the sake of feeling better, and that would probably be interesting to some people, but I felt it didn’t add much to the story.

Next week:

To finish off the series, I’m going to read Ancillary Mercy and determine how all this ends!  There were some hints at the end of Ancillary Sword that this is going to be a crashing finish to what Justice started.  See you next week!

Bubble Bubble – #writephoto

dancers

Don’t summon weird girls

Or have fortune told.

They’ll tell you bent tales

From their wooden souls.

Wicker women they,

Casting spells of old,

Summon dreadful haunts

And kings’ lives remold.

Critique not his pride –

Fault the coven fold

For her unclean hands

And his grim parole.

***

Because of the way my week’s scheduling works, I have never done one of the famous #writephoto prompts. This week, I thought the picture prompt was too interesting to ignore, so I decided to shove Count Vlad out of the way.  Thanks to Sue Vincent for these lovely pictures!

Moreover, this poem is about Macbeth, my 100%, no doubt favorite Shakespeare play.

He Strikes Again

art back view backlit boy

The killer left troublesome, coded messages. With mentions of Greek gods and philosophies, the Zodiac Notes point to the twisted mind of the murderer.

Agent Septimus rolled up his scroll. Something told him this wasn’t the first time these events occurred, and wouldn’t be the last…

***

This was written for the Sammi Scribbles Weekend Writing Prompt #106, zodiac. I’ve written about the Zodiac killer once before, in this medieval poem – check it out!

Photo by Victor on Pexels.com

The Last Forest

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I plodded into the forest with a tape measure. The age of a tree couldn’t be divined without coring, but I don’t have that equipment. Size will have to suffice.

Grandma once told me that the forests hold memories and grudges. She taught me how to ask forgiveness from the apple tree in the backyard, to seek the oldest tree for the absolution from a grove.

I decorated what limbs I could with prayer tags. “Please, don’t leave. Please grow again.”

It didn’t work, but maybe that wasn’t the oldest. A lot of trees had a five inch diameter.

***

This was written for the May 16th Carrot Ranch flash fiction challenge. Inspired by Japanese kodama and buddhist prayer tags, I wrote a story about what I imagine to be a girl in rural China who lives near the last existing forest. Yaaay, global warming…

The Bone Forge

steampunk-1809590_960_720

Hot.  Flames singed at his flesh.

Pain. His arm ached when he tried to cover his eyes, and his side throbbed with constant, stinging pain.

Alfred whimpered and remained lying down.  “Oh God,” he asked, “My God, why did you forget me?”

“Forget who?” asked a voice.

The light in the room changed as an old woman with wild, grey curls sticking from her messy bun pulled a curtain open.  She placed a hand on Alfred’s head, taking the chance to examine him.  She grabbed a pen light and tested his pupils’ dilation.  “Hmph.  That bootup was supposed to be a test.”

Alfred’s rapid heartbeat and breathing slowed.  “Where am I?” he asked.  “I take it I’m not in Hell?”

“Depends on how much and what kind of Hell you believe in.”  She flipped a switch, and the gears behind Alfred slowed.  The hot fire dimmed.  “This is The Bone Forge.”

Alfred swallowed.  “No.”  He lifted his painful arm, mechanical gears whirring.  His right side, down to the lung and diaphragm, had been replaced with computerized versions.  His body stung where his nerves and blood intersected with the machine’s circuitry and pipes.  “This can’t be happening – I said no resuscitation, no experiments!”

“Oh, get over that.  I haven’t paid attention to paperwork in months.” The old lady tsked, then unhooked a few electrical cords from Alfred’s body.

“I fought for our freedom,” Alfred said.  “I was supposed to die for it, too, not become a… a mechanical zombie!”

She kicked the brakes on the gurney and moved the IV bag such that it hung at his head.  “I can still cut the power to your brain, if you want.  You’re not able to survive on your own, not for long.”

“Will they let you do it?”

“‘They’ don’t have any say in it.”  She pushed the gurney through a door into a cool, dark hallway.  Some of the lights flickered, some remained dark.  “General Applequist surrendered his army three days ago, and our glorious Revolution’s about to be downgraded to just another civil war.  The only people who would care if I pull the plug on you are our enemies, and them only because they’re jealous of my tech.”  She shrugged.  “I don’t care.  I expect they’ll find me guilty of war crimes at my trial, and I’ll let them take my life.  Better than them taking my secrets.”

Alfred winced as she pushed his gurney over a threshhold.  The room he entered had barred windows, and the morning light shined through a light dust that swirled in the room.  He could still smell the smoke from the bombings, from when the front had raged just at the edge of Diamond City.

His lip quivered.  Pain echoed through his cheek, so he lifted his left hand – still human, not machine – and felt the smooth mechanics.  “Can I look at my face?”

The old woman sighed, but she turned the gurney to face the cracked mirror on the wall.

Alfred turned his head away from the mirror.  “God didn’t forget me.  He purposefully turned away.”

“Believe about God what you want, but don’t forget this.”  The old lady put a hand to the bed, just next to Alfred’s mechanical arm.  “Your country never gave up on you.  Not when you were a fresh recruit, not when you fired your gun, not when half your body’d been blown apart on the field, and certainly not now.  Now, do you want this new life your blessed, dying country gave you, or should I leave you on the gurney’s battery power for a few hours and let you make your final prayers?”

He swallowed some saliva.  “Plug me in.  I… I want my mom.”

She grabbed the man’s cords and transferred the power to the wall outlet.  “We’ll try to reach her, sweetie.  Let me get you a book to read in the meantime.”

***

This was written for D. Wallace Peach’s monthly Speculative Fiction Prompt.  It’s looking to be a *hot* prompt, so join in before the deadline!

If you enjoyed my sci-fi tale of cyborgism, consider reading my novella, If I Only Had No Heart.  It’s a horror tale about a robot cult that encourages cyborgism, and it has a lot of feelings and themes in common with this flash fiction.

Pixabay image by Brigitte Werner