Riches is Riches

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The pirates spread through the lush undergrowth, sweating and swatting at flies, casting suspicious looks at their brothers in brigandry.  The map had led them here.  To this place.  X marks the spot, and no map was so convoluted, nor led through such terrors as they’d faced, without leading to the kind of treasure a man could retire on.

Maybe even the kind of treasure a ship full of men could retire on.  Though just in case, each was determined to get there first, and shove a semi-retired-and-owning-a-pub sized piece down his trousers before the others caught up.

A man could make good money with a pub, as long as only a few strangers a year disappeared in the night, leaving their horse and bags and that fine cloak they were wearing behind (how odd! but fair’s fair and he didn’t pay his fare).

And so they slogged, swatting and sweating and keeping their fellows in sight in case they tried anything funny.

Dim Jimmy found it, blast him.  Too daft to sweep up at the bar, let alone roll a toff out back of one.  Certainly too loud for any one man to silence him before the rest heard.  If anyone else aboard-ship had looked so damned pleased to find a secret cave entrance, it’d be sure and certain rubies’d shake loose when he got shaken down.  Nothing did though, so the pirates dropped him and waited for the Captain.

The whole crew was cutthroat, but the captain was the most cutthroat of them all.  The wicked grin sliced into his neck by a would-be usurper had scared off most other usurpers.  His use of the other man’s skull as a soup-bowl scared off the rest, so far.  The heavy man’s rolls had rolls, but he moved like a cat, appearing in the midst of the anxiously waiting crew members without even a rustling of tropical leaves.

He stepped over a dazed Jimmy and through into the dank corridor leading down into the cave without a word, not slightly worried at having a horde of backstabbing murderers at his back.

Down the dank tunnel, stumbling and sliding on the uneven steps, they lit their torches and added black smoke to the dank smells emanating from the cave below.

The dim and flickering light of their torches gleamed on the kind of treasure a whole crew of men could retire on.  With or without the bar.  Mounds of gems, piles of gold bullion, gem encrusted armor, jewelery, antique vases, priceless statues… the cave was so vast that the far corners couldn’t be seen.  It was as though the entire island had been

The entire crew – cutthroat, vicious murderers all – whooped and ran out into the field of treasure.  When Jimmy caught up – having slipped down the last several steps and hit his head again – he found the Captain staring thoughtfully at a small brass plaque, and his crewmates giggling and frolicking in the treasure like school children.

“Do you read, Jimmy?” the Captain asked.

“No sir.  Can spell m’name, though… fishhook… twig-wi’-floaty… bubbies…bubbies… twig-wi’-two-arms.”

“Hmm.  Well, what this plaque says is this:

The twisted trophy is yours for the taking,

if the jinxed treasure is worth your changing.

Take a man’s share and leave a man’s life behind.”

Jimmy stared at the plaque for a long moment.  “It says to take the treasure,” he offered.

The Captain sighed.  “Jimmy, what would you do with a sackfull of this treasure?”

“I would buy a Captain hat and as much beef stew as I could eat.”

“And if you were a woman?”

Jimmy hesitated.  “I… would… buy a Captain hat and as much beef stew as I could eat… and I would have bubbies.”  His thought process appeared almost painful.  “I like bubbies.”

The Captain nodded pensively.  “I suppose rich is rich, ain’t it?  Off with ye, grab yerself enough swag to buy a lifetime’s worth of beef stew.  I’ve my own to collect.”

***

Several months later…

Two gentlemen recently arrived from England stood at the punch-bowl eyeing the crowd.  A rather boisterous crowd of ladies stood around a small table  A rather rotund woman with a scar across her throat and a rather spectacularly feathered tricorn hat was leading them in a rousting and highly inappropriate song about barmaids.  The combined glitter of jewelery from the ladies was enough to make one squint, and one of them appeared to have a golden, jewel-encrusted hook in place of a hand.  Empty punch cups littered the ground around them, and two were arm-wrestling.

“These wealthy caribbean ladies are… terrifying,” one said, taking a swig of punch and choking.  “And this punch is… well, I think it’s actually just rum with some bits of fruit in it.”

“Extraordinarily rich, though…” the other replied, eyeing the ladies in question with caution and surreptitiously draining his punch into a potted plant.  “The upper-crust here is… well it’s certainly not like in England, is it?”

“Beef stew for everyone!” a rather impressively endowed lass bellowed out in glee.  She, too, wore a tricorn, though this one was covered in fake fruit and birds, as though she’d attempted to turn it into a lady’s hat.  The others raised their glasses and joined in bellowing for beef stew.

“No, it is very different.  They seem rather uninterested in match-making, at least,” the first gentleman replied, sounding relieved.  He then jerked up with a yelp and grasped his bottom in a most un-gentlemanly manner.

“Wouldn’ be too sure of that, luv,” a lady with a gold front tooth grinned up at the surprised gentleman whose bottom she had just pinched.  “At least a few of us are enjoying the full extent of our changed fortunes.”  She waggled her eyebrows.  “Care for a dance?”

***

For more stories in response to this prompt, click the image at the top of the page!

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Red Dress Club – A New Road

You can see the prompt from Write on Edge and submit your own by clicking the image below.

I’d also like to mention – I mean no disrespect by using the word Gypsy.  But not using it would kind of take away any level of authenticity from my MC.  After all… what farm boy ‘way back when’ would have known that ‘they prefer Romani’?
  Sam stumbled down the rutted road, shaking in the cold night wind off the plains.

Icy fingers clutched tight at the thin cloth of his coat.  Teeth chattering, he looked longingly back down the road, his entire world out of sight.

The girls would be snug in bed, he knew, their dolls tucked under their arms.  Who’d take care of them now?

He scrubbed at the tears coursing down his cheek and steeled himself.

No going back.  Pa’d always done right by the girls, at least.  They’d be fine.

Sam blew on his hands and broke into a clumsy jog, pain stabbing him with each jarring step.

The moon was nearly set when he saw the fire.  Exhausted and aching, he didn’t try to hide.  They could be murderers as long as they let him die by the fire.

He passed a tree strung up with charms, and even in the thin moonlight, the wagon was brightly coloured and intricately patterned.  Gypsies.

Thieves and murderers, the lot of them, his memory growled in his father’s voice, fetch my gun, boy, don’t dawdle.

Sam shook his head.  Pa’s opinion of good and bad wasn’t very trustworthy.

A branch snapped under his foot and the murmur of conversation around the fire died. One man called out cheerfully,”Ye’re late, lad – what took ye?”

The others around the fire laughed as though the man had made a joke.  Sam sidled forward and smiled cautiously.

“I-you-um…” he stared, wide-eyed, at the motley group and swallowed. “Wha’?”

“She told us to keep dinner.”  a hulking man leaned forward, a wicked scar cutting his face in two, gold teeth gleaming with fire.

A boy about his own age grinned less ominously and added, “Yeah, Shuv’ni shoulda said t’make ye breakfast!”  He nudged the girl beside him, who snorted sourly.

“What do you expect, me reading in a moving wagon?”

Sam blinked at that – Readin’s fer the rich, Pa said.  But what did reading have to do with predicting his arrival?  Magic, his imagination hissed.  He shuddered.

“Come closer, boy, warm ye’self,” an ancient woman with bright birdlike eyes commanded from her rocking chair.

Sam  stepped forward, blushing at the Gypsies’ gasps of dismay.  A woman made a low pained noise, like a kicked dog.  He had a good idea of what he looked like.  Pa never bothered avoiding the face.

The old woman pursed her lips disapprovingly, “Shuv’ni didn’t warn o’ that neither.”

The girl darted forward, grabbing him by the face.  She prodded him everywhere it hurt, making him yelp.

“I need to read the bones,” she muttered, turning away.  Before she disappeared into the wagon she added, “By the by, your ribs’r cracked.  Gran’ll do for ye”

Gran rolled her eyes and said, “Come sit by me, boy.”

“Why… why are you all being so nice?”

The gold-toothed man laughed, tugging a woman out of the shadows.  “We do right by family, don’t we, luv?”

Sam gaped as a ghost from his memories stepped into the firelight.  Wordlessly, the woman hugged him tight.

“Ma?”

This is a pastel and ink drawing by my sister, Doodle. You can see more of her work by clicking the image (it’ll take you to her DeviantArt page). She also blogs over at DrawninandQuartered. I do love having an in-house artist for my stories!

Property Lines

This week, we’re picking up with Agata.  You can probably read this one alone, but I’d suggest reading Crush, the previous one in this series of stories, just to be clear on how things got to this point.  If you want to read the entire series, click on the Fiction Tab above, and you’ll find all the links to the story under Which Witch.  As always, let me know what you think – and how you think it ought to be improved!

I’m using the prompt from Trifecta, and from Write on Edge for this.

Trifecta’s word was

MOUTH

1a : the natural opening through which food passes into the body of an animal and which in vertebrates is typically bounded externally by the lips and internally by the pharynx and encloses the tongue, gums, and teeth   b : grimace <made a mouth>   c : an individual requiring food <had too many mouths to feed> 2a : voice, speech <finally gave mouth to her feelings>   b : mouthpiece 3: something that resembles a mouth especially in affording entrance or exit: as
This week on Write at the Merge, the picture of a crumbling castle was what I took as inspiration.
I highly recommend checking out both sites, to submit your own prompt response or to read some of the great responses other people have submitted.

Agata rolled painfully to her feet, scattering debris.  Dust swirled through the maelstrom of berserker barbarians.  Agata caught glimpses of the ogre, green-gray skin covering boulder-like muscles, eerie catseye gleaming yellow in the dimness.

The battle wasn’t going well.  She sighed, narrowed her eyes, and, with intense focus, shook out an imaginary blanket.

As the barbarians painfully clambered to their feet, dazed and confused at their sudden fall, Agata strode purposefully towards the now-frozen ogre.

“Gragh, is it?”  The creature stared down at her, dumbfounded.  “Yes, you.  Gragh?”

Its voice rumbled thunderously.  “Ya, me is Gragh.  Who you?”

“Agata.  What do you want here?”

“Gragh-”

“It wants to eat us!  Kill it!”

Agata whirled and glared them into silence.

“GRAGH CRUSH!”  The ogre snarled at the barbarians, fighting the invisible bonds.

“But why?

Gragh’s brow creased in thought.  “Gragh want…”

Agata found herself nodding encouragement to the hulking creature.

“Gragh want No Bother GRAGH!”

“You came here.

“Dey is come first to Gragh sleep place and try hurt Gragh!”

At Agata’s accusing glare, the barbarians broke into a cacophony of denials and explanations like children caught with their hands in the mouth of the cookie jar.

“It took the castle on the mount!”  A blonde-haired hulk in a skunk-fur loincloth stepped forward.

“Did he kill the owner?”

“It’s, um, been abandoned for centuries, actually.  Terrible location, no water, no trees…”

“So what does it matter where he lives?”

“It eats people.  And sheep.

Agata turned her scowl on Gragh, who shook his head in denial.  “Gragh no eat animal-things.” He curled his lip in disgust.  “Gragh vegetable-arian.  And rocks.  Rocks crunchy yum.  Fuzzy Baaas no yum.”

“Here’s the deal – you leave people alone, and” she turned to scowl at the barbarians, “people stay away from your castle.  Shake on it,” she barked, commandingly.

Agata watched and spelled every hand-shake before approaching the ogre with a proposition.

In short order they were headed off, a witch and her ogre-guide through the mountains.

Airborne

storch-badge

I’m linking up to the Master Class again this week.  The prompt gives you the first line of a book, with which you’re meant to write your own story.  This week it was Kelle Groom’s book I Wore the Ocean in the Shape of a Girl.

Check out the other responses at Sinistral Scribblings, or submit your own.  Click through the image to get more information on the photograph’s artist, and see some of his other work.

Fog

Morphine makes me weightless, airborne.

So did the impact, if there was an impact, if I recall correctly.  My dreams and memories are intertwined in a macabre circus of the unreal and unbelievable.

They tell me I’m showing signs of improvement.  They’re vague about what I’m improving on, long pauses in their cautious answers, like my ears are stuffed with cotton.  I’d be terrified, but I’m so high above it, above me, a thick fog cutting off any kind of strong emotion.

Que sera, sera, whatever will be… I hum for a time until the lyrics turn into gibberish, if they hadn’t always been.  She knows them better, has a better voice for it.  The steady beep of monitors threw off my timing anyways.

Morphine dulls, but I still can’t help but wonder what they’re monitoring.  After the first time I tried to take the bandages off my face, they strapped me in bed, wrist restraints and all.

The sunlight creeps slowly across my cotton-shrouded body and I wish, with a longing that pierces the fog, that I could feel that warmth on my face.  I feel so cold.

“What happened, really?”

The whisper-soft tread stops.  I can picture Lilac Perfume’s surprised expression, frozen in going about her business, convinced mere moments before that I was unaware of her presence.

“I-I’ll go fetch the doctor” she stammers, voice tight and anxious.

The haze around my memory lifts enough for a vague sense that I ought to apologize to her.  Perhaps it wasn’t just the attempt to take off my bandages that led to my being bound to my bed.  Was I screaming?  Am I screaming now?  Morphine.  I’m so glad none of these memories are real.

Moments and an eternity later, the steady clacking of Doctor Old Spice’s shoes, the sound of paper as he pores over my charts.  Though for all I knew, he could be paging through Angela’s Ashes.  Always meant to read that one.

The name strikes a chord.  “Angela?”  My voice is disused, a rusty chain pulled through gravel.  The scream of metal being crushed on impact.

“What was that?”

“Nothing.  Just something about… nothing.  It’s crazy.”

“You’re remembering?”

“Only crazy things.  Impossible things.  It’s the drugs, I guess.”

“You’ve been off all drugs for eight days.”

The words trickle through the fog around my brain, followed more slowly by their meaning.

“What does that mean?”  my voice is getting stronger as it warms up, smoother.  Familiar.

I am met with silence and struggle to sift through the terrifying circus of oddities that swims through the pea-soup in my mind.

“No morphine?” My voice cracks, but why?

“No morphine.”

“Why is my face bandaged?”

“You were in a car accident, John.  Do you remember?”

The impact left me weightless, airborne.

Angela.  I hate the light piercing the thick fog, it burns my eyes and cuts me to the quick.

“Is she…” I hate my own hesitation.  That mustn’t be real.  “Was anyone else hurt?”

The silence is unbearable.  The dread, like a tsunami, looming overhead.

I turn away from the light.

“I think I’d like some more painkillers… please.  The morphine helps me sleep.”

Foundations

This little story was inspired by Write on Edge’s Write at the Merge, and the Trifecta Writing Challenge.

Write at the Merge gave us a picture of a brickwork heart and a quote from Groucho Marx:

When you’re in jail a good friend will be trying to bail you out.  A best friend will be in the cell next to you saying, “Damn, that was fun”

Trifecta gave us the third meaning of the following word:

BITCH (noun)

1: the female of the dog or some other carnivorous mammals
2 a : a lewd or immoral woman
b : a malicious, spiteful, or overbearing woman —sometimes used as a generalized term of abuse
3: something that is extremely difficult, objectionable, or unpleasant

I guess I should warn you now, if you haven’t guessed already… this post may contain mature language.

I hope you enjoy the piece – let me know your opinions on it, concrit always welcome.

The new patio looked fantastic.  Lori called it an ode to HGTV.  She said Mike Holmes couldn’t find something to complain about – it’d last for a hundred years at least.

Jenn hoped so – no good would come of digging it up too soon.  Her gaze was drawn to the centerpiece of the brick patio.  Heart-shaped and decorated in a mosaic of broken crockery, it was a work of art.

Lori always saw the possibility of beauty buried within old and broken things.  There’d been an abundance of broken things to work with when they’d started this project.  She’d been the only one to see something better buried in Jenn herself.  She rubbed the crook in her nose where it’d been broken.

Sensing the maudlin turn of Jenn’s thoughts, Lori stopped dragging patio furniture out and joined her friend in admiring the heartstone.  She punched Jenn affectionately in the shoulder.  “Life’s a bitch, but we’re bitchier, eh?”

Jenn tried to smile, feeling her lower lip start to tremble.  “Do you really think it’s over?”

Lori shifted a pair of rattan chairs a bit closer to the grass and pulled a cooler between them.  She cracked open a beer and passed it to Jenn.  “Honey, it’s been six months. That nice detective told you he’d personally keep you posted on the case.  Sounds to me like they’ve shelved it, anyways.”

“You don’t think anyone will come looking?”

“Earl wasn’t exactly a picnic, Jenn.  Nobody really wants to find him.  You ought to put your mind to nicer things.  Like Detective Jim.”

Jenn blushed, eliciting a whoop of delight from her friend.

“I knew you were sweet on him.  Spill!”

A grin crept across Jenn’s features, youthful and bubbly.  “He invited me to dinner – we’re going to that fancy French place on Highbury next Friday.”

“Well I’ll be damned – something good finally came out of your first marriage.”

Six feet under the patio, worms agreed that Earl was a delightful picnic.

Roc

Write On Edge: Red-Writing-Hood
This week’s prompt for Write on Edge’s Red Writing Hood was:

to write a fiction orcreative non-fiction piece set entirely in an airport. Take us on an adventurein 450 words or less

It really didn’t work with the firefly piece (she only just left the airport!), so I figured I’d go back and catch up with Agata (you can find the storyline in Which Witch under my Fiction tab above).  If you don’t want the whole story, the overview to make this story more understandable is quite simple:  Agata is a witch.

a picture I found on public domain, click the pic to go to its source

Agata coasted gently down into the woodland alongside the field.  Her hair was wildly tangled from the wind, and her boots sank ankle-deep in the swampy ground under the trees.  With a sigh of disgust, she hoisted her broom and pack over one shoulder and trudged out to the unusual building sitting in a long and narrow, hard-packed clearing.

It stood at least three storeys tall, a half-tube constructed of bits of scrap sheet metal and canvas.  One end was sealed, but the end she could see into was one enormous door that had been slid aside to allow her a clear view of something even more bizarre.

A mechanical monstrosity stood in the middle of the building, balanced on two wheels and an end-piece, looking awkward and extremely unstable.  Like… almost… a duck.  Agata wondered what purpose it could possibly serve.

From somewhere within the construct, a steady clanking rang out, interspersed with some very creative cussing.

“Hello?” her voice echoed in the large space.  “Is anyone there?”

The clanging fell silent, followed by a clatter and a crash.

A large man emerged from within the beast, scowling and brushing his grimy hands off on his equally grimy coveralls.  He dabbed at his forehead with an oil-smeared cloth, leaving a black streak above his eye.  Wild tufts of hair sticking out haphazardly on his head.

Agata realised the man had spoken while she was taking in the bizarre scene.

“Pardon?”

The scowl became fiercer, but also more ridiculous with the single surprised black eyebrow he’d given himself.  “What’d’ye want, girl?  If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times, I’m not mad, I don’t need a nurse, or to be taken to the mental hospital, and no, you can’t buy my land, it’s mine, and I need it.  I’m a busy man.”

“I’ve never seen you before in my life, I’m not a nurse, and what on earth would I do with a narrow, hard-packed strip of land?  As for your sanity – ”  She hesitated, glaring at the machine.  It was too intriguing.  “I’m withholding judgement until I find out more about that.”

He was transformed, a broad and delighted grin on his face.  “Curious, are ye?  Excellent.  Can’t stand folk without curiosity!  Hang on, it’s almost ready to take out for a spin!  Just you stay put!”

And with that, he dove back under the machine, clanking enthusiastically.

Agata crouched to peer beneath.  “Um… I mostly just wanted to know what it was?”

“Eh?”  Rattle, thud, clang.

“What does it do?”

He scrambled up, grinning.  With a proud hand across its beak-region, he replied, “Why, It’s a flying machine!  I call it the Roc.”

Kick Me


The thing about writing is that it really does take practice – even more so when it’s the kind of writing with word limits.  I’m feeling a bit like the tinman, my write brain sitting dormant and rusty for a few months, creaking painfully as I try to get back into the swing of things.

This week on Trifecta, the word is:

FIREWORKS (noun)

1: a device for producing a striking display by the combustion of explosive or flammable compositions

2: plural a display of fireworks

3: plural
a : display of temper or intense conflict

b : a spectacular display <the fireworks of autumn leaves>

This is a continuation of the story Which Witch, the rest of which you can find in my Fiction tab.

The photos below are of a piece of paper art by Su Blackwell.  She does book sculptures, as well as installations such as this, and it is hard to believe it’s just made of cut paper.  It’s magical, like the words leapt off the page to show you the story within.

“You don’t WHAT?!

Agata stared, flabbergasted, at the old man seated across the broad mahogany desk, his liver-spotted hands steepled, his wrinkled face calm and solemn.

He raised an eyebrow slightly at her tone of voice, and repeated in a crisp accent, “We do not accept young ladies in this program, madam.”

“You don’t accept witches into your school of witchcraft?” she heard the shrillness of her own voice and winced internally.

“We do not accept ladies into our school of the Arcane Arts.  It is simply too esoteric and complex a field of matter for a woman to benefit from.  We would be glad to consider your admission into our poetry and languages department, however.”

The papers stacked neatly on the desk fluttered.

“Too complex?” she snarled, leaning over the desk as the inkwell rattled.  “You don’t teach magic to women because we’re what? Incapable of performing spells?”

“Not incapable, Madam, simply too flighty and emotional.”  He carefully caught a pen as it rolled across the glossy desk and set it in a stand.  “Not to mention, prone to hysterics.”

Agata threw her hands up in disgust and stormed out, slamming the door behind her.

The old man waited for her steps to fade and rang a bell.  “Bradley,” he said to the nervous young man who answered, “Have someone sent up to tidy my office.  I’ll have a cognac and my pipe in the library today.”

Bradley stared, wide-eyed at the winter-scene in the office.  A thick layer of perfectly formed tiny paper snowflakes coated the entire room, including the head and shoulders of the Headmaster of Arcane Arts.

“W-what happened?” he stammered.

“The young lady was somewhat put-out.”

“Your pens are stuck in the ceiling plaster, Headmaster.”

“Yes, quite a display of fireworks.  For a member of the weaker sex.”  The Headmaster brushed the paper from the shoulders of his dark suit.  “My pipe, Bradley.”

The old man walked out, cane in hand, KICK ME sewn neatly into his suit-back.

Cheap


This week’s word on Trifecta was

cheap adj \ˈchēp\

1 a : purchasable below the going price or the real value

b : charging or obtainable at a low price <a good cheaphotel> <cheap tickets>

c : depreciated in value (as by currency inflation) <cheapdollars>
2 : gained or done with little effort <a cheap victory> <talk ischeap>
3 a : of inferior quality or worth : tawdry, sleazy <cheapworkmanship>

b : contemptible because of lack of any fine, lofty, or redeeming qualities <feeling cheap>

I’m picking right back up after A Mask in the Necessary storyline.  To read the rest in order, click on the Fiction link at the top of the page.  I really want to go back to magical things happening, but that story didn’t seem quite done enough.  Plus, as one commenter (my sister, for those keeping track) mentioned, the ‘bad guy’ doesn’t just appear that way… how did they get to be the bad guy?  Not to mention, is he really bad?

A few questions – does this seem at all realistic for a high school scene?  Characters/events/etc?  I’ll be honest – I drifted, oblivious, through highschool with very few interactions with the ‘mean girls’, and, unfortunately, in those few interactions, it wasn’t me they went after, because they go after the one least able to defend herself.  Like hyenas.  Moving on.  What kind of vibe are you getting from new-character-Katie?

Link up or read some of the other responses over at Trifecta.

The picture below is titled “Defeated Dragon”, hopefully it works with the story as well as it did for me.  Check out more of Daniel Dociu’s work by clicking on the image.

It wasn’t worth it.

She told them I was just a spiteful wannabe, lying to hurt her.  Her coterie of hangers-on flocked to comfort her – so hard to be so beautiful, so popular.  Lesser beings use their cheap, nasty words to hurt you.  So hard to be Jennifer.

I cringed at the whispers and glares.  I slunk, eyes glued to my cafeteria tray, towards the already seated Joanna. 

I stumbled.  I looked around in surprise, having barely prevented myself from face-planting in my food.  A football jock met my stare blandly, pulling his foot casually back under the table.

I slammed my tray down and slumped over in my seat.  “We should have gone there for lunch.”

Tears prickled behind my eyes.

She smiled sympathetically and waved a carrot stick at me.  “It’s tough, but she only wins if you run and hide.”

“Woops!”

I gasped as the mess of creamed corn and mashed potato dripped down the back of my neck and soaked into my shirt.  The girl behind me, I recognised as one of Jennifer’s posse who had avoided eye-contact with her during the fight.  Her empty tray hung limp in her fingers, and, though she had a pleased smirk plastered over her face, I couldn’t help but notice the unhappiness in her eyes.

“You-“ my voice broke.  I give up.  She backed up in alarm when I stood up.

Joanna swung around the table and stood toe to toe with the girl.  “Did this get you back into her Royal Highness’s good graces, Katie?” she snarled.  She thrust her chin forward like a fist, causing the girl to stumble back a step.  She lowered her voice.  “If your brother could see you now.”

Katie jerked back as though she’d been slapped, her face crumpling. 

I pinched the bridge of my nose, willing the tears back.  “Joanna, stop.”

“Why?”

“She’s winning anyways.  Don’t sink to her level.”

“Fine.”

I left, blurry eyed.

I didn’t see Katie leave in the same state.

Siren Song

Write On Edge: Red-Writing-Hood

Red Writing Hood is the Friday prompt from Write On Edge, and here’s the prompt:

For Friday, let your character be inspired by music. It doesn’t have to be a specific song or genre, it doesn’t even have to exist anywhere outside your mind. Show us in 400 words or less how your character reacts to a piece of music. It can advance a story line or provide a character sketch–or both!

My post doesn’t quite advance a story line or sketch a character – it’s more of a snapshot of a world a story could exist in, I’d say.  This particular world reminds me a bit of something Sheri S. Tepper might set her story in.  If you haven’t read anything of hers, I recommend it.  I guarantee it’s better written than my prompt-response, and she draws you into the surreal worlds of her imagination amazingly.

Check out the other posts HERE, or submit your own.

**

The man struggled against his bonds, eyes wide and bloodshot.  He had been fighting desperately to escape since before dawn.

The captain watched him from the high deck, her deeply tanned face expressionless, her eyes shadowed.  She turned to her second and commented, “It’s good that you caught him when you did, Miss. Guthrie.”

“Seems like there are more each year trying to ‘take back the sea’, though I never expected one to try on your ship, Ma’am.”

The captain snorted.  “Ships are no place for men.”

Guthrie nodded agreement, the beads on her fine braids rattling faintly against each other.

“Maybe at one point,” the captain added musingly, bracing herself against the helm.  “Old ship logs indicate that, once, men were the seafarers.  In fact, most of the logs seemed to indicate that women on board would curse the voyage.”

Guthrie grinned, “I’d rather a cursed voyage than one that never made it to its destination, any day.  How’d’you suppose they did it?”

The man they had known as Miranda until a few short hours before thrashed and let loose a hoarse wail, tears coursing down his face.

“My guess is they’ve just gotten sillier over the generations, less able to cope.  I’m just glad we don’t hear those frequencies.”

“I read that the sirens might not have always been around,” Guthrie suggested, “That men used to be able to sail as easily as you or I.  Then again, the author was a man.”

The captain barked a laugh.  “Not exactly a scholarly work, then.”

Guthrie joined her in laughing, but her eyes were troubled as she watched the captive man.

“Might he be less affected if we moved him to the brig, Ma’am?”

“More likely, he’d be mad by the time we make port.  The water amplifies the Sirens’ song, or so it seems.”

The man let out an agonized screetch, his entire body pushing at his bonds, pushing towards water.

“What do you suppose it sounds like?” Guthrie asked wistfully.

“Not for us to know, gods willing.” She straightened herself up and passed the helm off to her second.

Guthrie took the wheel and turned her gaze out to the deep blue of the horizon, listening to the creak of timbers, the slap of waves against the hull, the fluttering snap of the sails.  That was the only music she needed.