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.

A Green Confession

I was jealous of Heather because she was tall. She was a preacher’s daughter, a good girl.

When her parents started homeschooling her, I wasn’t jealous anymore.

This tiny story was written for the Sammi Cox Weekend Writing Prompt, Heather. I knew a girl named Heather in elementary school, and I guess this counts as an IRL story because it did mostly happen (though this condensed form conveys none of the nuances regarding what homeschool in America is often about and why it can change the game in a bad way).

Photo by CARLOS Pu00c9REZ ADSUAR ANTu00d3N on Pexels.com

Good News on the Radio

David wrote nervously at his desk. He scribbled numbers and added them to prepare other people’s taxes. The radio played in the background, droning out music and ads from a tinny speaker while David waited.

When the news came on he fiddled with a key on his ring. Bay of Pigs, Gulf of Tonkin, U2 spy planes: one day they’d go too far, and the red trigger would be pushed.

David was prepared. Years of food, fluorescent lighting to grow plants underground, a generator, barrels and barrels of diesel. Just give the word, radio, and he’d leave accounting forever.

This post was inspired by the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge for September 10th: radio. I’m fascinated with preppers even though I’m not a very good one myself, and I love Cold War stories. So here you have it – a dastardly combo!

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

First Flight – #CarrotRanch

It was our land which had the wind, the sand, the beach. It was here they assembled the pieces, here they first revved the engine, here they first left land. Here mankind first leapt to the heavens during 26 seconds that shrank the earth. Only five witnesses saw the first moments of mankind’s destiny, a destiny riding upon muslin, and aluminum engine.

Arise, children of Earth! Fly upon wings of intelligence and daring, upon the backs of bloody lessons learned! From a colony lost to the sky found, the Carolina coast is there.

Oh, and Ohio can suck it.

This was written for the obvious trap of a prompt from the Carrot Ranch, first flight. I’m from North Carolina, so how could I resist? My damn license plates say “First in Flight”, and the flight was conducted here. Screw you, Dayton, it was here we flew first. Not only that, but Sherman was from Ohio. Ohio is North Carolina’s natural enemy. End of rant.

Cadillacs and Crocodiles

car vehicle classic american

The little lady showed up at the pump riding a hot-red Cadillac convertible with ostrich leather seats. She put out the cigarette in her ash tray and told me with pouty, vermilion lips, “Fill ‘er up.” She got out and, with her crocodile-skin purse, went into the store.

While she perused the candy shelf and soda fountain, I pumped in the liquid at 10 cents a gallon lamented my paltry pay. Rich people, getting richer off the backs of us poor. I’d like to kick people like her down a couple pegs.

And she’d left her keys in the ignition.

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This was written for the May 28th Carrot Ranch prompt, opposites. I chose Cadillacs and Crocodiles which, beyond starting with C, can come together as representatives of luxury (though alligator would have been better).

Thought I’d join in a prompt right now – don’t know how many I’ll get off in the near future, but this was good enough for now!

The Wood Miser

He had cut down the tree with a chainsaw, dragged it down the hill, and loaded it into the pile with all the rest. It was an oak of high grade – not quite a cherry, but good enough to slice into long boards and sell at a greater profit than the log alone.

The horses were already hitched in, so my son urged them to walk and turn the wheel. The bandsaw jiggled, and we loaded the log onto the carriage. A mighty heave of both man and horse shoved the log one step closer to a finished product.

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This was written for the Carrot Ranch prompt, long board. I’m descended from a bunch of loggers, and my grandfather had used a horse-driven sawmill long past the time when it was typically profitable in the US. But he sold high-quality wood, and he bred good draft horses (Percherons).

A Wood-Mizer, however, is a modern, portable sawmill for small-business loggers. My dad wanted a Wood-Mizer for so long, and I can’t even tell you how many hours of footage of watching people saw logs I have been forced to withstand. Yes, apparently you could at one time buy multi-hour-tapes of people sawing logs.

Rock Concert

artists audience band blue

We screamed at the stage, the speakers so loud we couldn’t hear ourselves. Through the smoky, cocaine-riddled haze, I spotted the Wilson sisters wailing on their guitars.

“Crazy on you-”

I sang in return, mind spinning, body sweating, blood pulsing, lips grinning. I wasn’t sure where all of my pants had gone, and my wallet was probably surfing through the opposite end of the crowd by now. But it had no money in it anyway, and I lived in such a small town the police didn’t need to see my ID when I got pulled.

“Crazy, crazy on you…”

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Do you like Heart? I like Heart.

Do you like concerts?

I’VE NEVER BEEN TO ONE. I had bought tickets to go to my first ever concert in August, but I like old music and, thus, listen to old artists who can’t be coming across the pond so willy-nilly in these dangerous times. So yes, I’m getting pretty bummed out that my chances of seeing Rod Stewart live before he dies are plummeting. So I’m taking out my anger by writing about concerts in the 70’s, whether or not the depiction is accurate.

Written for the Carrot Ranch prompt for April 16th, Crazy.

Photo by Jacob Morch on Pexels.com

Pees-ta

one cheese pizza

“What is this?” asked Papaw. He squinted his glaucoma-weakened eyes, inspecting the food.

“Pizza,” Mama responded. “It’s just bread, cheese, and sauce.”

Mamaw harrumphed then told someone invisible, “This woman’s crazy. I’ll die – it’s poison. Look at how fat she is; I won’t eat her food.”

“Pees-ta,” Papaw said. “Sounds foreign. I was in the war, and I don’t like foreign food-”

“Just eat it,” Daddy commanded. “You’ll get used to it.”

Papaw took a bite, grimaced, and pushed away his plate. “This is for damn Garlic Eaters. I’m not eating this foreign trash.”

Mamaw just cackled. “Poison!”

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I wrote this for the April 2nd Flash Fiction Challenge at the Carrot Ranch: Pizza.

This was based on a real-life event that happened in the late 90’s. My parents were silly and agreed to take my grandparents to Kentucky for a family reunion with my great-great-grand uncle’s branch of the family (they moved to Kentucky from North Carolina in the early 1900’s). At one stop along the way, my parents pulled us all over to a Pizza Hut, and my mom was surprised to find out my dad’s parents had never eaten Italian food before. I might have been, but I was still pretty young.

But think of it this way: IT WAS LIKE 1998 AND THESE TWO RED-BLOODED AMERICANS HAD NEVER TASTED PIZZA.

I still remember that event. “Pees-ta,” they called it. “Pees-ta,” they’d complain again, later in their lives when faced with the villainy of spaghetti with meatballs.

My Mamaw died this past December, but Papaw is still kickin’ around out there, driving despite being 97, nearly blind from glaucoma, and severely disliking Pizza.

Photo by kei photo on Pexels.com

The Aberrant Storage Site

green-shed-in-trees

“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.