Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Day of the Last Beer

Finish That Thought #34 (Judge's Comments)
Prompt: The gust stole my breath as it pressed the damp shirt against my chest.
Special Challenge:  Your narrator must be unreliable.

This is a winning tale, folks!  Thank you so much for all your comments, encouragements, and criticisms of my writing.  I can't believe I actually snagged the Grand Champ!

The gust stole his breath as it pressed the damp shirt against his chest. Like, literally stole his breath, man. When it gets down to -20C, that gust is a full blown blizzard out here in the wastelands of Alberta. Maybe I should back things up a bit, so you can understand how awesome this guy was.

It was freshman year at college in Middle-of-Nowhere, Alberta. We were bored out of our minds. It snowed for two weeks straight, cancelling classes left, right and center. My roommate and I, we lived those two weeks on four cases of Molson beer and Kraft. We couldn’t get to the store with all the roads snowed in. So this one day, on the day of the last beer, I got this bright idea.

“Hey, Cal!”
“You ever been polar dipping?”
“Naw, man.”
“I’ll bet you the last beer you don’t have the guts.”

He looked out the window, contemplating the blazing sun and the swirling winds, then shook hands. So we saddled up with some towels, our winter gear, the last beer, and trudged out to the lake about a kilometer away from the school. It was just our luck it wasn’t totally frozen over. We pitched up camp by the shore as Cal stripped down to his trunks and t-shirt. The beer was placed on a pedestal of towels.

You should have seen that guy, he was blue! But he slapped himself with his arms and crept out on the ice to the open waters anyway. He stood there, just staring at the dark water, and I thought he was turning chicken. Then that son of a gun turned around, saluted, and jumped in backwards!

That’s when amazing things started happening. He bumped into a seal. And he was just a-wrestling with that lump of grey, hooting and hollering the whole time for help. What was I to do? I didn’t have much but the beer, and we were both so wasted that wasn’t going to help anything.

I grabbed the beer by the neck and started inching my way out. Then a moose came up! It stared at me, I stared at it, then finally it turned its head toward the splashing. I took the opportunity and lunged at the beast. I managed to hold onto the beer as I clambered up its back. It snorted and pawed and tried to throw me off, but I held on as it carried me over to the water. Cal grabbed the beer out of my hands, smacked the seal, and crawled up behind me on the moose. Now, the moose didn’t like that at all, seeing as Cal was so cold. Cal tore off his shirt and started whipping the moose toward the dorm! All the while he was drinking the last of the beer from the broken bottle.

What? That’s not right? Was that your roommate? No? Aw heck, I don’t even remember anymore. I’m going to get myself another beer.

Courtesy of buri-osiol @

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Knock-Knock-Knockin' On Heaven's Door

Finish That Thought #33 (Judge's Comments)
Prompt: I ran for the door, but someone had taken the keys.
Special Challenge: Include a countdown and/or a ticking clock

Courtesy of sloopjohnb @
She ran for the door, but someone had taken the keys. They weren’t hiding in their spot under the welcome mat. Trying the door handle, she was troubled to find it locked. She pounded on the grungy, yellow, metal door. A window slid open as two dark eyes peered through.

“Whaddya want?” a gruff voice slurred.
“I-I want to come in,” she faltered.

The eyes looked her over and shifted from the window, presumably to spit from the sound he made.

“No can do, little missy.”

She took a step back, alarmed. “Why not?”

The eyes moved again, this time backing away from the door. The woman could just glimpse a long counter in the back of the dimly lit room. A man stood behind the counter polishing a glass. Her view was obstructed when a golden pocket watch grasped by a pudgy fist shot through the window.

“Ya see this, lady?”came the muffled voice. She bent closer to see that the hands were ticking so slowly, she almost supposed them still. It looked oddly familiar, though she could swear she hadn’t seen it before.

“Yer deceased. Dead. Kabutch.” The hand retreated and the eyes reappeared.

“But I know your boss! He said I could come here!” she panicked.

“Ya do, do ya? Hold on a sec.” The slider clanged back into place. The woman sighed, holding herself to keep from trembling, and hoped she would be remembered. The eyes soon came back with bad news.

“He say he don’t know you, lady,” the gruff voice said. “Go down the hall. There’s a door at the other end. They’ll take ya.”

“I-I don’t understand!” she cried, tears starting in her eyes. “I came to his house every week! I even called him sometimes, and once, he even said he’d like to dine with me!”

“Did ya ever dine with him?”
“No. I was always too busy.”

“That’s why ya can’t come in, lady,” the voice explained. “He don’t know ya because you never invited him in. Now it’s too late. Capiche?”

“Then how did I get in before?” she demanded to know, her eyes wet with anger now instead of fear.

“Yer mammy brought you in when you was little, right? And the second time was when ya had no friends in school. But ya never came back after that. You lived yer own life, lady. You may have met the boss, but ya didn’t live like it. Ya never let ‘em in. Now he won’t let you in.”

All during this speech, the woman began screaming for the man to let her in, slamming her body into the metal frame in a vain attempt to budge it.

The man on the other side simply closed the latch and walked away, leaving the woman to her wailing and clawing at the door.

“Another goat, Peter?” the bartender asked as he settled himself on a stool. He nodded sadly.

“Poor kid. She just didn’t get it until it was too late.”

Thursday, February 13, 2014

A Civil Valentine

Finish That Thought #32 (Judge's Comments)
Prompt: The cat meowed, and stretched, and that was when I first heard [the scream].
Special Challenge: Set your story before the year 1900CE

Whether you like Valentine's Day or not, I hope you take the time to reflect and be thankful for those in your life who have shown you love!  Happy Valentine's Day.
Image Courtesy
The cat meowed, and stretched, and that was when I first heard it. Or rather, when I noticed it, since one does not actually hear silence. Slipping my feet out from under the covers, I hurriedly shoved them into my slippers and threw a coarse blanket over my shoulders.

“Stay here,” I whispered to Luna, knowing full well that the fluffy grey mass would wallow wherever she chose to. Thankfully, she was more interested in the warmth of my bed covers than getting under foot. I fumbled in the darkness for a match and lit the candle on my nightstand with a shaking hand, the silence eerie after the constant thunder of gunfire.

Padding down the hall to the stairs, I met one of my servants on the landing. She too held a candle, her dark face blending into the shadows.

“I wuz jus comin' to get you, Miz Caroline,” Mabel said. “There’s someone at the door.”

I nodded for Mabel to open it and held the candle aloft to make out who was there. An officer in a grey uniform stood on the front step.

“I’m sorry to trouble you this late, ma’am,” the young lieutenant said in a soft drawl. He doffed his cap and stood fiddling with it, no doubt somewhat awkward about seeing a lady in only a nightshift. My mind, however, was whirling in despair at what his message might be.

“Is- is he…” my raspy voice couldn’t bear to ask the question.

“No, no!” the young man quickly exclaimed. “Your brother is well. In fact, he sent us here.”


The soldier stepped back and gestured to the yard. There was a small company of men, most of them on rudely crafted crutches or moaning on stretchers. I stepped forward hesitantly until I was standing next to the lad and surveyed the poor souls.

“They’ll die before they make it to a hospital,” he said softly, his baritone voice vibrating through the thin fabric of my nightgown.

I looked up at him, his dark eyes pleading in the flickering light of my candle. I took a deep breath and nodded, “We can make room.”

Immediately, I marched back into the house and ordered Mabel to wake up the other servants. Beds must be made out of the living room furniture, bedding out of my fresh linens. Unfortunately, the town house had very little room, but I was determined to make the best of it.

After over-seeing the transformation, I retired to my bedroom to change into something more suitable and sent Mabel to fetch my craft box.

“Wut you plannin’ on doin’ with this, Miz Caroline?” she asked curiously. I took the wooden box from her and set it on my dresser, opening it to reveal streams of ribbons, coloured paper, and pressed flowers. I handed her a pair of scissors.

“It’s Valentine’s Day!” I replied as the first light of dawn crept in. “We’re going to cheer those men up with some cards.”

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Sacred Cavern: Part Two

Finish That Thought #31 (Judge's Comments)
Prompt: Fingers trembling, [s]he slowly unrolled the ancient document.
Special Challenge: Include a sentence in a foreign (not English) language

My friend MurMade and I wrote about our characters Jamison and Courtney from a Role-Play we're doing together about a cranky researcher and his ever-helpful assistant who are bent on uncovering an ancient secret civilization, the Rinald.  This is my take on Jamison's findings in the sacred cavern.  Her take on Courtney's is here.

Fingers trembling, he slowly unrolled the ancient document. Its edges had worn thin with time, the inked characters almost fading before his eyes as the lantern light exposed their hidden message for the first time in centuries. Black dots crowded his vision and his temples throbbed. ‘Breathe,’ he had to remind himself. Slowly the throbbing ebbed away and he continued unfurling the cracked papyrus.

“What did you find?” the ever-present secretary inquired from behind his shoulder. Jamison threw a glare at her before returning his attention to peeling open the document. Thankfully, Courtney could take a hint. She stepped back a pace and turned her attention to a rack of scrolls along the chamber wall, the lantern light just barely illuminating the leathery rolls.

His whole life’s work had been dedicated to this moment. The seminars, the books, the dusty articles on forgotten library shelves, interview upon interview with archeologists, researching countless fairy tales of legends that held more truth than anyone could have guessed--- all of it had been to prove that this ancient technological civilization existed. This ancient paper found wedged into the Book of Knowledge would solve it all.

Brows furrowed, Jamison bent doubled-over the gilded stand that the ancient novel rested upon, his 6’7” height much of a nuisance in this tiny cavern. The language of the scroll was all but dead in this day and age, but not impossible to decipher for the Rinald expert. Tracing the characters in a caress with his long fingertip, he struggled to translate the first sentence.

“Οκτώ κιλά ψάρια και δύο μπούσελ πατατών,” he read slowly. He blinked.

“Need a translation for that?” Courtney quipped from her side of the room. Jamison glanced at her, then down at the papyrus, then back at her again in bafflement. He regained his composure into its natural sulk.

Immediately, her curiosity peaked and she hurried over. “Well, what does it say?” she asked breathlessly.

“It’s the answer,” he said sarcastically after a dramatic pause.
“The answer to what?”
“THE answer. To life, the universe, everything!”

Courtney’s cheeks glowed with excitement. “Really? Is it really? Well tell me, what does it say?!?!”

Jamison thrust the paper in her face, his features contorting into a deep scowl. “Eight pounds of fish and two bushels of potatoes. Some low-life Rinald scribe was using a receipt as a bookmark.”

The Sacred Cavern: Part One

For Finish That Thought #31, my friend MurMade and I wrote about our characters Jamison and Courtney from a Role-Play we're doing together about a cranky researcher and his ever-helpful assistant who are bent on uncovering an ancient secret civilization, the Rinald.  This is her take on Courtney's findings in the sacred cavern.  My take on Jamison's is here.

Fingers trembling, she slowly unrolled the ancient document. Dad would be furious if he knew she was getting her hands on these artifacts without him. But after withholding information about the excavation and hiding the discovery of the chamber entrance from them in the first place, he deserved to be undermined a little in return. Dad would never have found these chambers without Jamison’s directions; he had every right to be down here before the archeologists. And of course, as Jamison’s assistant, she was all too happy to tag along, look at statues, fondle artifacts, and read scrolls.

Holding this one in the halo of light the lantern cast on the pedestal she examined the delicate ink marks. Twenty-six positions marked out in a circle, almost like the face of a clock, with a mermaid in the center. Courtney grinned, she immediately recognized her as the goddess, Feorna. Unfurling the scroll completely revealed a series of figures portraying each step of an elaborate dance. The realization of why this diagram was familiar caused a gleeful flutter in her stomach. It was the dance for the winter solstice. “It was a dance involving 26 people, two for each month in the Rinald calendar. They stood in a circle around the statue of Feorna. The person who symbolized when the rains came the current year would stand facing the west, the person for the previous year stood facing east, the year before that stood facing north, and the year prior to that stood south. It was an intricate dance, very beautiful, and when it finished, the person who stood facing west foretold when the rains would come the next year.” That was how a Rinald expert had explained it to the inquisitive, wide-eyed girl begging to be told about the legends of old.

Her eyes roved over the tiny black letters, familiar in shape, but still indecipherable to her, craving to know more. She looked over her shoulder at her lanky partner, who was gawking at the lines chiseled into a pillar.
“Jamison,” she called for his attention, bringing both lantern and parchment to interrupt his work, “this scroll about Paradython’s rain dance, can you see if it mentions how the ritual itself was introduced?” Tearing his focus away to glance at the document she held out, Jamison raised an eyebrow, casting a bemused glance at Court.

“Where did you see this?”
“It was the first scroll on …” she began, gesturing to a rack of scrolls near the wall.
“No, Miss Smarty-pants, how does a doll like you know what this is?” Jamison interrupted. Courtney pulled her shoulders back, lifting her chin proudly.
“I have my sources. Now does this have any answers I will care about?”
“Nah, put it back for your Father to find. All those documents will end up on my desk anyway. We have bigger things to uncover,” he said, snatching the lantern from her to shed more light on his own work.