Meet the Muse

“Pah! You’ve never had such adventure. How do you expect to write about space warriors or musketmen if you’ve never been one?” He leans over a bit and lights a pipe, but as he puffs the smoke has no scent. He’s not exactly real. He’s a figment, a muse.

Or so he’s led me to believe. Otherwise this smoke crap’s going to make me sick one day.

I type with nimble fingers despite his prodding. “If you’re such a stone-cold killer, why don’t you tell me how to write this? Get through this battle scene so I can go on with the politics I’m better at?”

“I will! I am your muse, after all. I’m also better at politics than you, so you can rely on me to help with that.” He clears his throat, straightens his bow tie, and puffs on his pipe. “Now, let me point you to some first-person accounts of a similar battle to the one you’re writing. It’ll tell you about how you trap them on a peninsula, burn their houses, and shoot the enemy as they swim across a river. It’s genius strategy, I tell you, genius.”

“Sounds like a massacre, not a battle.”

He points his pipe at me. “A massacre that worked, by the eternal. Did what it was supposed to.” It isn’t long before he returns the pipe to his mouth, puffing once more.

I put down my pen with a clack. “Do you just want me to chat with you instead of getting this done?”

“By no means! I just think you should wait until I get in a passion and write a first draft. Then you can flog my drivel and reminiscing into shape, and then we’ll publish.”

“Yeah. Rely on me to get published.” I snort. “Good plan.”

“It sounds like we are in total agreement then! You shall wait, and I will get out my pen to write something you can fix up. You won’t let me down, will you?”

I sigh. “I’m just going to do this myself. Even if your writing is realistic, there’s no literary quality at all.”

He puffs. “What happy circumstance! It seems we’re in agreement. I’ll get that rough draft done soon, after I finish this pipe. Perhaps after get some more reading done, maybe after Christmas, things like that.”

I type…

This was written as a response to D. Wallace Peach’s Meet the Muse. I’ve never thought much about my muse before, but I guess it’s probably a stodgy old man in a long-tailed tuxedo with a pipe. Then again, I’ve been told I’m really an old man anyway. Image is provided by D. Wallace Peach as well.

God’s Program

God saved their computer program then recompiled it with some new updates. The opening sequence, light and dark, went as planned. Then came oceans, land, plants, and animals. The computer at last compiled the while loop they’d been working on for quite some time. Mankind popped up, but once again the program’s asinine “people simulations” betrayed God.

They’d spent so long on this program and it never worked. Maybe they would patch it later.

This was written for Sammi Cox’s Weekend Writing Prompt #178, “Asinine“. At first I just thought of computer programming, but then I wrapped it together with a religious context and it worked out this way.

The Aberrant Storage Site

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“No,” Major Jennings ordered, “Don’t go near that.”

I stopped, not being one to question, but I ached to know why. The box was covered in vines, surrounded by trees, as if it hadn’t been touched in a long time. If I were going to work at this Aberrant Storage Site (or ASS, as military personnel were inevitably going to dub it), shouldn’t I know what was going on?

I swallowed a bit of fear. “Who’s in charge of this, then?”

“No one,” Jennings answered. “There are reports from 1962 that say some men captured a thing – creature, artifact, it’s not clear – and started doing it’s bidding. Soldiers disappeared, guns were found in strange places, and inscrutable symbols were carved into the sides of the barracks.”

“So?” I asked.

“Eventually, the group of men in charge of the object started bleeding themselves and collecting it in a barrack bathtub. The Base Commander at the time was appalled and put them in prison, but they kept bleeding then used the blood to write strange words all over their cell walls. Orders meant nothing to them, food or friends didn’t either. He ended up having them executed out by the hangar, then burned the corpses off site. They sealed whatever it was in this lead-lined box, and standing orders have been to shoot anyone who gets too close.”

I hadn’t expected something like this. “So, how close do you think the brainwashed soldiers came to fulfilling the thing’s goal?”

Jennings shrugged. “Unclear. It’s even possible they succeeded.” He pulled something out of his pocket. “Werther’s Original?”

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This was written for Crimson’s Creative Challenge #73. I saw this picture and just couldn’t resist.

 

Embrace Engineering

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“Then using the continuity equation, we…”

The ceiling closed in to a circular point around the visitor’s mysterious symbols. We did not understand but jotted them in notebooks and promised to use them on pipes…

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This Lovecraftian flash was inspired by Sammi Cox’s Weekend Writing Prompt #150, continuity. The continuity equation is used in fluid dynamics to describe continuous flow and conserve mass/energy. Since Lovecraft was traumatized with geometry, I thought I’d use that equation to cause even MORE trauma.

The Roofing Rabbit

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Velour wiped her brow and sat back, hammer in paw. The roof of the cabin had been difficult so far, as they only had honey locust thorns as nails and bark for shingles.

“How goes it?” Velour’s mate, Timber, asked. His ears drooped from exhaustion, as he’d built the catted chimney.

She smiled. “We’ll have this finished by winter.” She pointed to a clay bottle sitting on a stump. “Take a break and have some ginger beer.”

“Only if you come down from the roof and drink with me.”

Velour clambered down, and the pioneer rabbits rested a minute.

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This was written for the March 19th Carrot Ranch prompt, Rabbit on the Roof. My mom just started reading Redwall again, and I couldn’t think of anything that didn’t involve anthropomorphic rabbits. These pioneer rabbits are building a cabin much like the one recently built on one of my favorite YouTube channels, Townsends.

Nevermore

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Suddenly there came a tapping at my chamber door. I shivered, knowing it’s Lenore knocking in the hall, wanting inside my door. She’s come in form of raven and ghost before, but her footsteps patting are heavy, plodding on the hallway floor.

Dare I open it? No – I can hear her moaning, pleading for entry, but as I sit profusely sweating, I fear the integrity of my door.

Now her arms are heavily banging, splint’ring down my chamber door. “BRAINS!” she cries, consumption eating at her zombie form. I scream, but no use waiting – she’s in, and I’m nevermore.

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The prompt for the March 12th Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge was tapping, and like a good, “well-read*” American, I instantly thought of Poe’s “The Raven”.

*I’m really not well-read, not at all well-read considering that I’m trying to be a writer, so this is in quotes because I’m being sarcastic.

The Truth About Santa’s Elves

Santa Elf

Peppermint Jolly finished soldering the knockoff iPad’s connections. He put the iron down so as to rest his bleeding and blistered hands, then placed his creation into the “finished” basket. He took a moment to breathe, to let his hands shake while the popped blisters seeped liquid.

But the overseer – a burly elf who’d earned the nickname Bad Figgy – caught Peppermint Jolly on this unapproved break. He strode over, broadening his shoulders and filling out his lederhosen. “What you doing, boy? Did Santa say you could stop?”

Peppermint Jolly shut his eyes tightly, expecting a punch or a slap. “Sir, my hands are bleeding, sir. I don’t want to ruin the product by dripping in them-”

“These products aren’t real iPads. They’re going to China, where everything is ripped off and broken anyway. We only buy the real ones for the kids who’ll know better. Now get back to work or I’ll put you on chemical weapons duty next year.” Bad Figgy boxed Peppermint Jolly’s ears, causing him to wince, then went off to whip up on the next electronics worker who slacked off.

Peppermint Jolly picked up the soldering iron despite the agonizing boils and wounds. He didn’t want to go on chemical weapons duty ever again – his lungs still hadn’t recovered from last time, and the sales of black market goods only made money that went toward the purchase of gifts like the real iPads or DRM intact materials.

But it was Christmas Eve. Praise God – the next day was Christmas, the one day of the year that the elves could rest. The one day of the year none of the females would be forced into reproducing, the one day of the year the forced labor would stop, the one day the overseers wouldn’t beat a slave for eating too much or slacking off.

But Peppermint Jolly knew the cycle would just start up again. While the next Christmas season was still a ways off, he’d be put on drone duty, soldering and building the electronic pieces used in military drones to sell to terrorists. He was also smart, so Santa could choose anytime now to force him into a living arrangement with a fertile female. He could whip them both if results didn’t happen.

And there was no escape. The magic barrier was impenetrable, and none of the humans besides Master Kringle could see inside.

Could he handle another year? Could Peppermint Jolly make it through more of this madness?

“Fuck you, Santa,” he said. He turned the iron to his neck and pierced the jugular as quick as he could.

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This Christmas, think of the people and elves who make the presents you purchase. There are real kids in the Congo who are forced to dig cobalt for batteries, real people in Bangladesh and India who work harrowing hours in hazardous conditions for your soft goods. Many of us can’t afford gifts otherwise, but if you have the option, consider looking into what you purchase and try to incorporate the least slave labor you can.

Also, boycott Santa. Don’t let that asshole come down your chimney. Don’t pay that slave-owning piece of shit with milk and cookies. We’re better than this.

Image by SilviaP_Design from Pixabay

The Repairman

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The microphone still sat, open and in pieces, on my workbench. I dreaded having to stay awake all night to get this antique fixed, but the owner needed it repaired by tomorrow.

That was easier said than done. The diaphragm on the capacitor was shot, but I didn’t have a replacement part handy.

“Oh!” I mumbled. “What I wouldn’t give to have that part!”

A man in a pinstripe suit and thin mustache appeared at my side. He held a new diaphragm with his fingertips. “Your soul sound a fair price?” he asked.

“Sure.”

“Then let’s make a deal…”

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This was written for the December 19th Flash Fiction Challenge at the Carrot Ranch. With a prompt like “open mic night,” I decided to attempt going way, way out there and made a literal opened microphone at night. This was partway inspired by the BBC series The Repair Shop (which my mom forced on me recently) and also by Hazbin Hotel‘s Radio Demon character.

Image by Thanks for your Like • donations welcome from Pixabay

The Secret Life of your Hammer

black claw hammer on brown wooden plank

Usually the hammer lived happily in a drawer next to the tape measure and a molten pack of gum, but sometimes the humans would attack. Someone would be abducted, sometimes for days, and abused mercilessly at their hands.

Today storm clouds whirled above, and the humans had innocent sheets of plywood to serve as storm windows. They withdrew a nail from a sack on their belts.

“Ow! Ow!” screeched the hammer.

But the human didn’t care. He beat the hammer senseless, imprisoned the poor nails in the plywood and siding, then left them precariously outside as the hurricane blew…

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This was written for the November 14th Carrot Ranch prompt, storm windows. I think this one has more the feel of a “yarn,” but I enjoyed it and hope you did to!

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

A High Price

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“I’ll give you power,” the devil crooned, “For bartering your soul.”

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This was written for Sammi Cox’s Weekend Writing Prompt #124barter. With only 11 required words, I had to do it.

Hello, everyone – as any regulars may be able to tell, I’ve slowed down a LOT on the blog recently. I’m in the home stretch on my dissertation, though, with only about a month and some change to go! Hopefully after that I can get back on the bandwagon.

Until then, I’ve got all my book review posts planned through to the new year, and those should be reliable.

I got the picture off a royalty-free image site a couple years ago and don’t remember which one.