The Sword in the Ceiling

After a long, hard day of work, you return home—the only problem is, your front door is wide open, all your lights are on and there’s a sword stuck in the ceiling. The rest of your house looks normal, but you also notice several holes dug in your backyard. What’s going on?

Post your response (500 words or fewer) in the comments below.

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269 thoughts on “The Sword in the Ceiling

  1. RWriting

    I haven’t written anything creatively in a very long time, so here’s my first attempt at writing something every day.
    _____________________________________

    I warily step into the dark room. No, not dark, but dim: the sword is emitting an odd violet light and seems to be shuddering. Entranced, I approach the sword with my hand outstretched only to be whipped out of my reverie by the sight out the corner of my eye. Holes. Dug all over my backyard. It looks as if a mole had made my garden its home.

    I am conflicted. Holes, or sword? Which mystery should I explore first. Running away or finding help never crosses my mind. Holes, or sword? Being decidedly afraid of animals, and their possible homes in the ground, I choose to examine the sword. It is still thrumming away gently and emitting its violet light, but as I get closer its movement become more erratic and the light gets brighter.

    Just pull it out, I think to myself.

    Taking a deep breath (when did I get nervous?) I reach out, grab the hilt of the sword and tug. Instead of the sword leaping out and hitting me on the head as I expected, I am jerked upwards. My hand is glued to the sword as we both fly upwards, the world around me spinning in a multitude of colours. Suddenly, we stop and abruptly change directions and are now shooting towards the ground, sword leading the way.

    Two heartbeats later and we abruptly stop again, hovering a metre above the ground. The spell only lasts a second and we drop the final distance. The sword has sunk into the ground, and I land softly on my stomach next to it. I stand up and check my surroundings, only to realise that I am standing in my house, upside down, on my ceiling. The sword is in the exact position I tried to yank it out of, and is emitting an odd violet light.

  2. ThatsMatt

    This is way over 500 words, i got a bit carried away
    This is my first ever attempt at writing a story, i hope you enjoy 🙂

    It’s satisfying, I think to myself. That even during these dark, seemingly never-going-to-get-better times, there are youths who can muster up some joy in the simplest things despite the world we currently live in. Joy? An emotion I’ve nearly forgotten how to feel, however watching these kids in light-hearted jest over who won in their makeshift game forces me to crack a wry smile. Sat down, huddled together on the pavement, the youngest looking boy with dishevelled, bright ginger hair bursts out a high pitched cackle of a laugh, contagiously spreading to other members of their group. I’m jealous. Jealous of their ability to create an impenetrable wall, allowing them to be completely lost within their own little brightly woven world.
    Unfortunately, that isn’t the case with me, or for the great majority of people here. Not since the collapse, the turning point of humanity as we knew it. No one knew why, or how it even happened but the events that transpired are lodged deep into my memory. ‘Excuse me’, nothing, I repeat louder, ‘excuse me’ only this time managing to croak out the words due to breathing in the acrid stench of smoke surrounding the gang like a fog, causing my eyes to water. ‘Sorry sir, didn’t quite hear ya back there, do come on through, don’t mind us, we won’t bite’. He snarled, enunciating the word bite as he turned towards me. Facing away from the dim light above, casting most of his features in shadow. Except for the devilish grin he is sporting along with a sarcastic tone of voice that on a normal day would of earnt this joker to be at the mercy of my grip around his neck, begging not to be shown up in front of his motley of friends. Today, however I’m not in the mood to get into any trouble so I shrug it off, tip an imaginary hat to the lad, and reply ‘don’t mind if I do, boy’ matching his tone, and brush through them. Sniggers from the rest of the group ensue as I make my way down the narrow street, followed by an angry ‘shut up or I’ll make you’. Clearly I had dented his pride, not liking to be called boy. He is lucky that’s all I dented.
    In all honesty, I can’t blame the boy. People will do almost anything to get their kick around here. Something to help pass the time, add some surge of excitement into their meagre lives. If trying to pick a fight amongst strangers gets their fill, then so be it, I’ve seen much worse. My slightly elated mood from earlier has begun to slip away. Like footsteps in the snow, washed away by rain. I can pinpoint the reasoning behind my sullen mood which has over time become etched into my personality. That being the line of work I’m in, something I’m not particularly proud of. Its dark, gritty work that has seen me do terrible things, the kind of deeds you keep to yourself, that you keep hidden from your child. That is, if she were still alive, I try my best to not delve too deep into that part of my psych just in case the white hot, all consuming pain wells over me and pulls me into its grasp. My little Gracie would not be impressed seeing me this way. ‘Chin up daddy, don’t let those demons bring you down’ she would say to me whenever she saw through my facade of happiness. I wish I had her strength, she was a diamond in a sea of zircons. She loved her play sword fighting, whenever she had found herself some free time away from her tutelage she would scurry off, gather her group of close knit friends and pretend to be arch enemies, fighting to the death over some wooden toys masquerading as some important treasure, saving a prince or dear friend from being executed, that kind of thing. One evening she got a nasty accidental whack to the jaw by zack’s makeshift wooden sword. I heard the crack from where I was conversing with his parents a good 40 feet away. I ran to where she was laying on the floor, shot Zack a look which must have horrified him as he froze in place, turning ghostly pale, I tended to the priority at hand, retraining my urge to release my anger at the boy. Before I even managed to turn back to face my daughter she was already standing up, meeting my gaze, her emerald eyes radiating in contrast to her jet black hair as she wipes away the blood and triumphantly declares, without faltering, ‘ don’t worry dad, I’m fine’. That was when she was eight, a diamond, I tell you, a pure uncut diamond.
    Having started, the thoughts didn’t cease to assail my brain. Bringing up her favourite breakfast of toast slathered with peanut butter and slices of banana as she was supposedly too busy to come and dine with her parents, I glanced into her room. ‘Did you not hear me call up to you, for the third time, or is dinner with daddy not so important anymore’ I murmured with mock hurt. She didn’t listen, she was intensely focused on her task at hand. ‘What has got you so occupied then miss?’ she moved her head allowing me to peer at her work, a carving into the hilt of her sword. ‘It’s a wolf, it’s how I view you, heart of the pack”. My face must have gleamed with appreciation and love, because she stood up and gave me a tight hug, around as much of my waist as she could get her short arms around. I bent down and returned her embrace, whispered into her ear “You’ll always be my cub, darling. Without expecting it I tickle her most vulnerable spot which I know too well, causing her to scream of laugher, that beautiful sound.
    I fight the tears threatening to break out my eyes, blink away the thought, and carry on walking. Upon turning the corner, I halt. Anger and worry begins to rise up within me. My front door to my house is left wide open, with the lights left on. I frantically surge forward, willing my legs to carry me faster. Fearing that my ample supply of food has been stolen, or even worse, my secrets discovered. I run faster. As I reach my door I slow down, I come to my senses, the infiltrator could still be here. I can take pretty good care of myself despite my dwindling age. However I don’t know if he or she is carrying a weapon, or could be more than one, I have to be careful. I gingerly step inside, heart close to pounding out of my chest from the run to get here. I dare not make a sound as strain my ears to listen for any sounds that might betray the trespassers, there is only silence. I move into the front room and unsheathe my knife from my belt. Nothing seems amiss, tidy. Well when I say tidy I mean my kind of tidy, which isn’t really tidy at all, as it’s much easier to replicate and put back into place a neat and tidy room of possessions compared to an organized chaos. But since nothing at all has been changed in any way, then what is the meaning of this? I ponder as I stalk around the house, firstly to my daughter’s bedroom, which has been untouched for over a decade. I feel sorry for the person who would taint my little girl’s room having to face my rage, they wouldn’t care as much, as they would be dead.
    I meticulously search Grace’s room, her books in which inspired her fantasy play fights are all intact, laced with dust, but intact nonetheless, so are her drawings of us, she wasn’t exactly a prodigy in the artistic world, with our bodies oddly proportioned, giving us a much bigger head then would look normal on a human. She enjoyed it nonetheless. My pulse slows down, and I begin to breathe at a normal rate. Still baffled by this event, I walk over to the window, ‘what in the world?’ I manage as my gaze falls upon three huge holes dug out into my garden, each on of a different size and shape. If I wasn’t baffled enough before, I am now. This needs investigating. I make my way down the stairs in a hurry. Forgetting that there could still be a presence in the house, I throw all caution to the wind regardless. Slamming the door open leading to my garden another surprise awaits me. I stop dead in my tracks. Right in the middle of the study, a sword greets me, impaled into the ceiling with a sizeable amount of rubble from the ceiling gathered under it. The holes in the garden can wait for their inspection, sorry guys your appointment has been delayed. Please wait in line whilst I deal with yet another customer who wishes to make my day just that more interesting. I walk up to the glittering sword and run my finger smoothly along the edge. Very sharp, very fine quality, this is definitely no replica. Certainly the smithy who had conjured up this beauty was highly talented. I free the sword from the ceiling to further inspect its brilliance. I only need to have a quick glance to see that this is a 19th century sabre, with a hilt designed to guard the user’s hand. Whoever wielded this sword knows their stuff. I test a few thrusts with the weapon, practicing a few moves myself when something catches my eye. This something causes my heart to rock, like a battering ram to my chest, causing every fibre of my being to stand on edge. On the other side of the hilt displays intricate carving, much more elegant than the one in my memory, but just as unmistakeable. Of a wolf. I hear her quiet, eloquent voice behind me.
    ‘I made it, dad’

  3. DraconianWriting

    My mouth hung open. The holes in the front yard were not unusual, the boys had a fascination with paleontology after all, but the sword? That was weird. As I walked further into the house I realized that all of the lights were on. I went back to examine the sword. There was no blood throughout the house as far as I could see, but I was still wary. The sword was just there. Nothing else was changed about the house. Finally, I gathered the courage to grasp the hilt.

    “Those holes weren’t made by your boys.” I hurriedly let go of the blade. There was no one behind me or anywhere else to say anything. I grasped the hilt again.

    “If you don’t believe me, go look for-” as I let go once again the voice stopped mid-sentence. It was the sword. The sword was talking to me. I grasped it once again.

    “Please don’t stop listening to me while I’m talking, it’s very rude you know.”

    “How are you talking to me? And what do you mean those holes weren’t dug by my sons, my yard is like that every day when I get home!”

    “First off, I’m magic, duh. Secondly, where are your boys?” I stood thinking about what the sword had said, then I realized. My sons had been at their mother’s house halfway across the country for a week. There hadn’t been holes in my front yard for that same amount of time. I ran outside after pulling the sword from the ceiling. I felt safer with it in my hands. I looked inside the nearest hole. Nothing. I looked in several more. still nothing. Eventually, I found one hole that had dirt flying out of it. Inside there was a small scaly animal that looked similar to a ferret but had many features of a dog, only scaled. It dug frantically as if looking for something. Finally, it stopped and pulled out a tiny red gem. It then noticed me.

    “Don’t worry Vettan,” the sword said,” he’s the one who will help you.” the ferret-dog which was evidently named Vettan nodded, then scampered up my leg and onto my arm, where it curled up and became a snugly fitting glove, with the red gem sitting on the back of my hand.

    “Go ahead, touch the gem.” I did so and immense pain wracked my entire being. I fell unconscious. When I awoke I was in the form of a wolf. If the wolf had scales. Beside me was sitting a small imp-like creature.

    “Well, you’re finally awake. You may be wondering what happened to you, well you and Vettan merged into one form, but that is all I am going to tell you, after all, my friend I still need your help.” I tried to say something but all that came out was a sort of barking noise.

    “Now now, you will return to normal. but only when I say so, my little draco-hound”

  4. gabbie

    I sighed as I walked up to the door. Today was long and hard. Work was exhausting, Chuck E Cheese was a terrible job. The children there disgust me and the animatronics horrified my dreams. All I wanted to do was sleep. However, I had my undergrad homework to fulfill the next 4 hours instead.

    The stairs felt longer than usually and as I dug through my purse for my house key, I looked up the find the door ajar. I could see straight into my parent’s living room. No one should be home at this time, I thought. Both my mom and dad at work and all of my siblings were out. I walked into the house and called out, “Hello?” No one answered and I noticed that every single light was on. Even the lamp in the corner of the kitchen that was never used.

    This had to be the weirdest thing I had ever come home to, even weirder than the surprise party my ex-boyfriend threw for me with all of his friends. They all just needed a place to get wasted, and my parents always liked Derek; which, of course, he knew. Anyways, everything looked untouched in the house except the light switches.

    “Should I call the police?” I wondered.

    I began to dial, nine. I thought I heard a noise from up the stairs; I looked up as it came pummeling down. A sword. It landed a foot away from me and the ringing from when its metal blade hit the tile floor still echoed in the air a moment later. As did my scream. I ran to the backyard.

    It was chilly outside and dimly lit. I walked towards the gate, my car was on the other side and I was going to drive straight to the police station. As I walked, I felt an indent under my foot. I looked down there was a small hole under where my shoe had previously been. I turned around and squinted. I was vaguely able to see many holes dug up throughout the backyard, some were bigger than others.

    “What the heck,” I thought.

    I continued walking towards the gate but at a quicker pace now, I lift the lock and then pushed the gate forward.

    At the same time, the ground disappeared from beneath me. I fell into yet another hole. It was a deep one, too. I hurt my tailbone and began to cry. I attempted to stand up and wobbled; then fell on my hands and knees. I heard a scraping sound come from above and looked up. When I did this, I got dirt in my eyes. This wasn’t because I was in a hole in the ground, this was because that scraping sound was a shovel. Dirt was being thrown back into the hole. I was going to be buried. Alive.

  5. D_DUB

    “Familiars’ gettin’ closer, but they can’t find this house,” I thought as I walked in the door. “No,” I shouted and ran in the living room. I jumped to grab the sword. I tried to yank the stubborn thing down. I complained, “I have a boyfriend!”

    Koba glowed.

    I panted, “You’re being paranoid!”

    My grip slipped and I fell. I smacked the hardwood floor. I used the couch to pull myself up. My sneakers squeaked as I gracelessly stood. I stomped to the kitchen. I opened the cabinet under the sink and saw the mini blowtorch.

    “Now, I want crème brûlée,” I thought, “No. Get the sword OUT, then crème brûlée.” I looked back at Koba with a devilish grin. I grabbed the blowtorch, went to the pantry, and rummaged through boxes. The lights flickered.

    “Oh no you don’t,” I protested.

    I found my spare goggles and put them on. I climbed on top of the couch and steadied myself. I clicked the torch. It hissed as a blue flame appeared. I laughed victoriously and pointed the torch at Koba.

    “Now, unless you want to be a necklace. You’ll release.”

    Koba released out the ceiling. Pieces of plaster fell to the floor. Before I’d blinked, Koba pointed its sharp edge at me. It split into four blades. I raised my hands in surrender.

    “Only kiddin’,” I chuckled nervously, “we’re friends right?”

    Koba returned as one sword. I smelled smoke. I was burning the ceiling. I yelped. I lost my footing and fell. Ping-ponged between the couch and coffee table. The lit blowtorch rolled along the floor like a marble. It stopped near the curtain. I’d never seen fabric burn so quickly.

    “OH NO!”

    I scurried my achy body across the floor to turn off the blowtorch. I ran to the kitchen and grabbed the extinguisher hanging on the wall. I ripped off the pin and aimed. A white cloud smothered the fire. I sprayed the ceiling. I pulled off my goggles and let the extinguisher fall to the floor. White goop dripped from the ceiling. My beautiful curtains ruined. The living room smelled charred. I flopped on the couch. I was tired and out of breath. I looked up to see Koba back inside the ceiling. I whined in frustration.

    Lights dimmed and flickered. I shook my head and climbed the couch, “Don’t you dare. You release right now!” I grabbed the handle. I planted my feet on the ceiling. More cracks formed.

    I grunted and begged, “I like Jasper. Don’t leave this dimension. He won’t know I’m gone!” I closed my eyes and tugged. Blood rushed to my head. My braids dangled.

    I heard a southern voice, “Sara?”

    I opened my eyes. Jasper was standing in the foyer. Before I could explain, the front door slammed shut.

    “Jasper! Get out now,” I shouted.

    The house went black. Koba released and I made a large thud on the floor. Silence.

    I sighed, “Where did you take me this time?”

    “Uuuuh, Sara…”

  6. wiedienacht

    Pickling eggs was not what you imagined you’d be doing with your 32 year old self when you were twelve years old and swapping wishes and dares with your best friend. Nevertheless it is a living, and you desperately need the paycheck if you’re going to continue to be able to afford car payments and further dates with Becky White.
    You roll into your drive, windows cranked down, with the scent of vinegar pouring forth. Before every date with Becky she insists you shower at least three times and cover yourself with the latest designer cologne, part of the reason dates are so expensive. Also, she has never come over. Not once. She claims her nostrils wouldn’t be able to stand it. A perfect reason to leave the front door open, when you come down to it. The only problem being thieves, you think, as you casually walk through the open door and throw your jacket onto the stand.
    Pausing, you think of another, larger problem. Or at least you would, had you not noticed the bastard sword hanging from the ceiling. Trickles of plaster fall to the carpet, adding to the already sizable amount of powder.
    “Huh…” is about all you can muster.
    Wary, you case the rest of the house, but everything seems to be as you left it. Curious. Making your way into the kitchen, you notice the back door is also wide open, letting in a refreshing summer breeze. Hands clenched firmly about the handle of a frying pan retrieved from the stove, you traverse the threshold and enter your meager but well-kept backyard.
    Dropping the pan you let out a strangled cry that sounds kind of like, “Aaargfttgrrr!!”
    Your beautiful lawn has been destroyed! The carefully manicured grass is covered with variously sized dirt mounds, presumably extracted from the lawn itself from the roughly equal amount of holes. Who is responsible for this atrocity? The bastard sword in the hallway ceiling, although peculiar and untidy, would have been forgivable. This, however, called for swift and furious retribution.
    Forgetting the frying pan, you stalk back into the house, hell bent on your chosen path. Not breaking a stride you yank the sword from the ceiling as you pass, earning a dusting of plaster on your hair and shoulders.
    The inside of your car is hot and smells of pickled eggs. You place the sword on the passenger’s seat and start the engine. Fingers drumming the steering wheel, you stop and think. Just where are you headed, exactly? There’s no way of telling who has perpetrated this crime against your lawn, you’re an ordinary bloke not some smarmy detective with an unfashionable hat and pipe. To the police station then? You raise your eyebrows at the reflection in the rearview mirror. Hardly. You want revenge, not forty minutes of questioning and empty promises over terrible luke-warm coffee. Small town cops are lucky if they catch aids.
    So not the station, then. Where to?
    After a moment more, you head to your mother’s house. If anyone can identify a bastard sword, it would be her. Don’t ask me why, as she’s a hair-dresser with an impressive stamp collection.
    “Hmmm… Excellent quality. A skilled smithy.” Your mother smiles in appreciation over the sword as you sip milk from a puppy adorned mug.
    “Well?” You push, impatient for some information you can use.
    “Patience, Earnest, patience. Let you mother work, dear. And have another cookie. Your father has diabetes.”
    Sighing, you take another cookie and wonder why your mother made them, if not to torment your father.
    “You found this in the ceiling?” She runs her finger along the blade, eyeing an insignia etched near the handle.
    “Mmmhm.” You mumble around the cookie.
    “And there were holes in the backyard, you say?”
    Giving up verbal communication, you simply nod.
    Your mother sighs and straightens her back. “I’d hoped it wouldn’t come to this. Not again…” She stares wistfully out the living room window while you attempt to process the intimation she’s made.
    Failing, you ask her what she’s on about.
    “Victor…” She whispers. “He’s back.” Suddenly, and with a speed and willfulness few of her size could manage, she forces the sword back into your hands and ushers you out the door.
    “Don’t come back until you’ve dealt with him!”
    Stunned, you watch as she slams the door in your face. A crumb escapes your lip and falls to the step. No amount of banging or yelling results in your mother’s return, so you take the sword back to the car and climb in.
    Defeated, you make your way back home. Twilight descends on the town, and the few post lights along Main Street are struggling on. Pulling into the drive, you notice the front door is open. You struggle to recall if you’d left it open earlier, or if you’d locked up before beginning your admittedly unsuccessful crusade.
    Clumsily holding the sword aloft in front of you, you enter your home. A sizzling can be heard from the back of the house, and the wonderful aroma of frying bacon is battling the ever-present stringent odor of vinegar. Despite your worry, your mouth begins to water.
    A tall man with silver hair falling down in waves across his shoulders is tossing some seasoning into a pan filled with scrambled eggs. You notice it’s the one you dropped in the backyard.
    Turning to peer at you over his shoulder, he smiles and asks, “Want some dinner? Er, breakfast? …Some breakfast for dinner?”
    You shrug. This must be Victor. Anger is struggling to flare somewhere in the back of your mind, but most of your brain power is consumed with the smell of food. Your shoulder throbs from the weight of the sword, so you lean it against the wall.
    The man whom you presume is Victor distributes eggs, bacon, and carefully sliced melon equally onto two plates.
    “I didn’t know I had melon,” You say cheerfully as you take a seat.
    The man smiles and says simply, “You didn’t.”
    Belly full, you lean back and study the stranger. He doesn’t seem so bad, upon close inspection. He’s about your mother’s age, although about a third her size. Crinkles surround his eyes and mouth when he talks or smiles at you. Dirt gathers in his collar. His clothes are as dark and worn as his skin. There’s something long and made of leather hanging from his waist. With a start, you realize it’s an empty sheath. Victor (?) hasn’t so much as looked at the sword, however.
    Gathering your courage, you clear your throat, intent on asking him once and for all about the business in your yard. You cringe even to think of it. “Thanks for dinner. Er, breakfast.”
    He nods, picking bacon from his teeth.
    Pleasantries out of the way, you can focus on what’s important. “So, brilliant summer we’re having, then, isn’t it?”
    With a smile, he nods, clearly agreeing, but his mind is not wholly vested in the conversation.
    Darn it, just ask him already! “Are you from around here, Mister…”
    “Victor. Just call me Victor. Don’t have a last name. Lost it a long time ago… Dreadful plight of mine, constantly losing things…” You notice his eyes finally travel to the bastard sword propped against the wall. They caress the glimmering metal like you might stroke a lover after a long and bitter fight has come to an end.
    Chair scraping, you stand and position yourself between the sword and Victor. Grunting, you point toward the backyard. Victor doesn’t seem to grasp your intent.
    “Holes.” You manage.
    “Ah, yes… Er, sorry about that.” Victor shakes his head sadly. “Thought I might have lost something in your backyard, long ago… Turns out I was mistaken.” He stands, places his dish in the sink, and turns to face you. “Well, son… I best be heading out.” He waves to the sword, “Feel free to keep her, and may she serve you as well as she served me. Just don’t take her out in the rain. Oh, and she gets car sick on long rides.”
    With that, Victor leaves through the backdoor. A few moments go by and he comes back in, looking bashful and just a bit more dirty. “Er, not as young as I used to be. Fence is a bit too high…” This time, he exits out the front door, leaving you with far more questions than holes in your backyard.

    1. cosi van tutte

      Hi, wiedienacht!

      Oh my gosh! This story was so much fun to read! Excellent build up. And, just so you know, I loved this part:
      “Grunting, you point toward the backyard. Victor doesn’t seem to grasp your intent.
      “Holes.” You manage.”

      I’m wondering, though, is it okay if I imagined Victor looking like Sephiroth from Final Fantasy? (It was the long silver hair…) 😀

      1. wiedienacht

        Hi Cosi!

        Of course, you can imagine him however you like! 🙂 I wasn’t heading in that direction, but I could definitely see that connection. (He’s a little less evil than Sephiroth, I must say, though..)

        So glad you enjoyed the story! It was fun to write.

    2. D_DUB

      Hi wiedienacht,

      I rarely get to read second person stories. I really enjoyed it. Your description of the pickled eggs made me do the stank face. LOL! I could smell the funk. Nicely done.

  7. Jay91

    Bloodline Responsibilities-Part 1
    500 words

    What was the point of his lips on mine? I would have to read up on this human hunger when I got back to the hideout. I would also have to research how to properly react. Father had told me to blend in and I’m pretty sure he would not approve of me punching high school boys across gym floors.

    For once I wouldn’t mind the long run through the coastal rain. When Ryan was thrown out of the game and then punished to clean the gym after everyone left, I thought it would be a good time to study the puzzling human.

    Father had been wrong about me being ready to live on Earth. When Ryan’s hand lingered on my cheek in that unknown gesture, my mind whirled in search of a reason. I was scrambling for answers to questions I didn’t know could exist when he pressed his soft lips to mine. Why had I never seen or heard of this action before? If I was more prepared, maybe my wings would have never shifted out on their own accord.

    Thunder clapped in the distance and I looked into the waiting woods. Stretching onto all fours I rolled my aching shoulders. Fur jumped across my breaking and bending limbs. The shift was over in seconds, but left me with a constant tightness where my wings would normally rise above my shoulder blades. Father wanted me to practice partial shifting and since the ocean fog is always rolling in making it infuriating to completely dry five foot wings, I’m forced to comply.

    It felt good to dodge fallen trees and scramble over growing streams. Flying through the forest on racing paws or beating wings felt familiar. Something I had done all my life both in training with my parents and for fun with Thomas, my brother. Thomas was the rightful guardian by age and would have never had to log such shameful events about human boys and high school gyms, but Thomas also only received the wolf shift, so he wouldn’t know the hardship of keeping wings hidden.
    I was about to spring into the clearing outside my cabin, when the lights stopped me in my tracks. I never left the lights on.

    I inhaled deeply, but couldn’t catch any odd scents through the pouring rain. A deer had been through the bushes recently. Maybe I could go for a hunt. I shook the nonsense from my head and stalked around the house. My heart stopped when I saw the holes. How did they know I buried it? I had failed my family and the bloodline. Movement behind one of the windows caught my eye. Maybe it wasn’t too late. At least I could give them a good fight.

    Looking through the window I saw two dead searchers and the sword stuck in the ceiling. I hadn’t failed.

    “Hey, are you coming inside” Thomas asked.
    A low growl flooded my chest and I envisioned setting my logbook on fire.

    1. jhowe

      What a great start to this fantastical story, or at least I assume it’s the start as it is Part 1. You’ve set it up nicely by revealing some of her talents and a little of her family. There seems to be a major rift between her and Thomas and some major intrigue about the logbook. Good job.

  8. Jay91

    508 Word Count
    BLOODLINE RESPONSIBILITIES-Part 1
    Science Fiction

    What was the point of his lips on mine? I would have to read up on this human hunger when I got back to the hideout. I would also have to research how to properly react. Father had told me to blend in and I’m pretty sure he would not approve of me punching high school boys across gym floors.

    For once I wouldn’t mind the long run through the coastal rain. When Ryan was thrown out of the basketball game and then punished to clean the gym after everyone left, I thought it would be a good time to study the puzzling human.

    Father had been wrong about me being ready to live on Earth. When Ryan’s hand lingered on my cheek in that unknown gesture, my mind whirled in search of a reason. I was scrambling for answers to questions I didn’t know could exist when he pressed his soft lips to mine. Why had I never seen or heard of this action before? If I was more prepared, maybe my wings would have never shifted out on their own accord.

    Thunder clapped in the distance and I looked into the waiting woods. Stretching onto all fours I rolled my aching shoulders. Fur jumped across my breaking and bending limbs. The shift was over in seconds, but left me with a constant tightness where my wings would normally rise above my shoulder blades. Father wanted me to practice partial shifting and since the ocean fog is always rolling in making it infuriating to completely dry five foot wings, I’m forced to comply.

    It felt good to dodge fallen trees and scramble over growing streams. Flying through the forest on racing paws or beating wings felt familiar. Something I had done all my life both in training with my parents and for fun with Thomas, my brother. Thomas was the rightful guardian by age and would have never had to log such shameful events about human boys and high school gyms, but Thomas also only received the wolf shift, so he wouldn’t know the hardship of keeping wings hidden.

    I was about to spring into the clearing outside my cabin, when the lights stopped me in my tracks. I never left the lights on. I inhaled deeply, but couldn’t catch any odd scents through the pouring rain. A deer had been through the bushes recently. Maybe I could go for a hunt. I shook the nonsense from my head and stalked around the house. My heart stopped when I saw the holes. How did they know I buried it? I had failed my family and the bloodline. Movement behind one of the windows caught my eye. Maybe it wasn’t too late. At least I could give them a good fight.

    Looking through the window I saw two dead searchers and the sword stuck in the ceiling. I hadn’t failed.
    “Hey, are you coming inside?”
    A low growl hummed in my chest, as I followed Thomas inside. What a wonderful entry this was going to be in the logbook.

  9. msmrmyr

    Uncle Charles Left A Note

    A sheet of paper swooshed out the open door into the front yard followed by three or four others. Tom Sheets picked up the errant mail from the doorway and entered his house. An afternoon wind tore through the heavy wooden door and knocked it against the wall. The open door worried him. He swore he locked it this morning before he left. Never mind. The scattered mail bothered him less than the Civil War sword stuck in his ceiling. Tom shuddered to think someone waited for him to come home.

    Pinned to the top of the ceiling by the sword, he found a torn sheet of paper with “Tom” clearly written out in big block letters. He pulled on the pommel and tugged. The sword fell forward pivoting around his grip and rang out on the floor in front of Tom. He pulled the front of the sword toward him and plucked the note off the point.

    “It’s gone. The package is gone,” was scrawled in pen on the note. And it was signed haphazardly, Uncle Charles. Leave it to Charles to leave a dramatic note.

    It had been a long day and everything felt off. From Dianna Peacock and her feud with Sandy Holworth to the looming catastrophe of Sam Wright, what else could go wrong? It was part of the job of being a Hollywood publicist. But what he found at home made the day seem tame.

    Tom shut the door and slowly walked into the kitchen. Nothing seemed to be missing. He called out for Charles and heard nothing in reply. He walked into the den and searched his desk. Everything seemed to be in its place.

    “What the fuck?” Tom shouted. He ran to the window and saw three large mounds of dirt next to as many holes in his back yard. The yard Sebastian designed. The yard with the manicured blue tufty grass, fountains, and stepping stones. The yard that cost nearly $10,000 and five months to complete.

    Tom face palmed his forehead. He shuck his head and wondered what the hell was going on.

    Tom slumped down in a chair and read the note again. He looked up at the ceiling and saw the hole where the sword stuck above. Bits of tile lay on the floor. He sullenly looked back out the window. The piles of dirt made the whole yard look worse than when Sebastian first started working on it. He rose up and slowly walked to the French door.

    Each hole was roughly two feet deep and empty. A shovel lay on the ground smashing down on the blue fescue grass. Tom picked it up and leaned on the handle.

    “What was Charles looking for?”

    He leaned the shovel next to a porch post and went back inside. He read the note again and wondered why Charles was digging in his backyard and what could possibly be missing.

    He dialed the contact for Uncle Charles on his phone. After five rings it went to voicemail. He considered shouting. Instead, he calmly told Charles to call him as soon as possible. Tom felt no point in shouting yet; he’d save that for when he finally had a chance to talk with Charles.

    He then scanned through his texts. Six more messages from Dianna increasingly panicked about her social media reputation. That was not going to get better. If she refrained from reading that social shit. Oh, it would never be that easy. He texted her the usual, “It will get better, I promise,” text and told her to stay off the computer. That was going to have to hold her. Tom needed to find Uncle Charles.

    1. jhowe

      This was well written and right on the money as far as the prompt goes. You reveal a lot about Charles without him even being there. “What was Charles looking for?” That is the question we all want to know but will have to rely an speculation. Nicely done.

  10. Ken

    It’s both a blessing and a curse when your daughter inherits your intelligence. A part of me knew she would search for the Jumanji board but never thought she’d be able to find it. The last day of the month was brutal and, although exhausted, a surge of energy ran through as I made it home. Three monkeys were sitting on the porch smoking cigarettes with the front door open. My anxiety kicked in when I noticed a sword stuck to the ceiling with my daughter still holding on to it.

    “Kyren!” I screamed, running towards the door. “Hold on, I’m coming!”

    The head monkey, the one wearing my watch, had his arms out preventing me from getting past him and his posse’. Thinking quickly, I ran to the car and grabbed the rest of the joint I was smoking. I lit it and handed it to him in exchange for access inside my own house.

    “Dadddddyyyyy!” she wailed, knowing she couldn’t hold on any longer.

    I wasn’t going to make it and the monkeys knew it. They were laughing hysterically, watching me struggle to save my daughter. “Dadddddyyyyy, I’m going to fa-” She cried, right before free falling onto the hardwood floors.

    “Kyren!”

    Just as she was about to hit the hardwood floors, the babysitter came swinging from the upstairs balcony and swooped her up and onto the other side of room.Relief didn’t last long as the lion that was chasing the babysitter had jumped from the second floor and was now chasing me. The monkeys were in tears now and could hardly breathe from laughter.

    “Kyren!” I yelled, barely able to get the words out.. “Where is the board?”

    “Dad, look!” She said, pointing towards the monkeys. The head monkey was holding the board, eyes red and glossy, but less threatening- looking than before. He smiled and opened the board, giving my daughter a chance to throw the dice and end the game.

    “Thrrrrooooow ttheee diiiiiccee Ky!” I sang, nearly out of breath, steady zig-zagging from the lion.

    She grabbed the same rope the babysitter swung from and jumped off the balcony. For a moment, I was both terrified and amazed at the sight of my daughter. She was scuffed with dirt, a few bruises on her leg and her hair was in a mangled afro. Her eyebrows were lowered in determination as she tried to land close enough to the board to throw the dice. The lion was just as amazed as I was; he stopped chasing, I stopped running, and we were both watching my warrior-child soar through the air. Just as she was about to land, she somehow managed to, simultaneously, throw the dice on the board and kick the junkie monkey out the front door. The lion faded like mist, the monkeys disappeared, and the sword fell from the ceiling.

    I looked around the house, gave a quick assessment of the damage and then turned to my daughter. She anticipated the words I had for her and before I could begin she warned me, “Dad, I know you’re mad right now. But I just saved your life.”

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Hello Ken, I thought your story was a total gas. I could vividly see the action going on. I’ve never played the board myself and one thing I do know, I’m not going to. But I wouldn’t have missed this for anything.

    2. Observer Tim

      I never read the book, but fondly recall the Robin Williams movie. This brought it all back in harrowing, hilarious detail. In addition to Kerry’s “gas”, I would also say it was a hoot! 🙂

  11. JosephFazzone

    (A little long. My apologies.)

    The door was left ajar, something was awry. Caution is my friend, but not enough good sense to listen to it, I entered my rat heap. I guess I’m lucky that I’m too broke to afford anything worth stealing for it was all there, every crappy piece of furniture; the duck taped couch/bed, the moth ridden throw rug, and the cardboard box which served as my coffee table. In exhaustion I slumped into the couch and coughed as the dust flew into the air. It had been on the street for who knows how long. I should have maybe aired it out some before I brought it in. Amidst the rubble of discard pizza boxes, and ramen cups I noticed some of the ceiling was on the floor. As I looked up, I noticed the sword.

    Now I’m not one to brag, but I’ve played me a D&D game or two. I’ve done some renaissance fairs, and I knew it was a sword right from the get go, maybe even a claymore. Those are the two handed swords that require great strength to wield. Of course, my curiosity goes into overdrive. Who would leave such an object? How much can I get if I try and pawn it? Am I in danger? Just the normal slew of questions.

    Suddenly a small adorable little girl with bobbing blonde pigtails, pointed ears, and an impish smile came running into the living room. She was wearing a tan leather vest, green leggings, and matching green boots. Her face was painted with single red lines that went from her eyes to her jaw. She struck a fierce some and cute figure approximately three and half feet tall. I had never been more scared in all my life. I fell back into the couch and coughed some more.

    She stopped in front of me and giggled with all the delight her tiny frame could muster. “Seriously?” She asked disapprovingly of me with an eyebrow raised. “This is your home?”

    “I clean toilets,” I snapped defensively. “What do you think I can afford?”

    She put her hands on her waist. “Well, I think your luck is about to change.”

    “How old are you?” So many things didn’t add up.

    “494,” she answered glibly. “But that’s not important right now. We have an opportunity…”

    “Greg,” I told her.

    “Greg,” she repeated seemingly tasting the name, and spitting it out. “Manolis has taken hold of Yoarmand. The Berelix and the Volu are engaged in a bloody civil war, and the Orb of Gular’mon is in the hands of the Heqwe.”

    I blinked in confusion. What else could I do?

    She muttered softly in response to my wide eyes and mouth agape. A soft yellow glow emanated from her and covered me from head to toe. I felt my mind being torn asunder. Everything I thought I knew went out the door, the crappy job, the crappy life, and even the crappy dog that ran away a few months ago. I remembered everything. The memories were far more bitter and ugly than the squalor I was currently residing in.

    Gruffly I growled, “I’m retired, Spinner.”

    Spinner brightened at the recognition. “We have little time, Korbin. Grab the sword, and let us return. There’s much to do.”

    I looked up at the worn grey claymore, reached up, and gently tightened my grip on the handle. The worn leather bracings felt so familiar, so comfortable in my hand. I was shaking hands with an old friend. I pulled the sword from the ceiling.

    “How did it get stuck up there?”

    Spinner shrugged. “Look at me. I can barely hold it; much less control it during a jump.”

    I nodded it. Memories continually flooded my senses. I knew now what I needed to do. “I thought to come here to forget everything, and I did. I thought I could escape the torments of our land and live peacefully in this one.”

    She looked at me for a moment. “And how did you fare?”

    “I’m a janitor with delusions of grandeur,” I answered. “It’s probably best that I return home.”

    “It’s not only best,” she said. “It’s destiny.”

    I shrugged doubtfully. “Time to go then,” I said as II swung my sword in a wide arc, and, forgetting its weight, I lost my balance and toppled to the ground.

    “Auspicious start,” she grumbled.

    “I’m out of shape,” I managed to gasp.

    I got up, and swung the sword again. “To the mountains of Jhei!”

    Stars and moons, even the galaxy itself opened up in the ceiling. I felt every fiber of my being pulled towards the swirling vortex that began to form above our heads. Leaving one hell for an even greater hell definitely felt like a step down, but my homeland was under jeopardy. Who was I to deny my calling?

    1. Kerry Charlton

      I loved this Joseph, with the back story in place, you need to continue with it. Curiously, I used an ancient broad sword in my story also. Great minds you know. I loved the little girl’s definition and her morphing into the messenger.

      1. JosephFazzone

        Thanks Tim! It’s been difficult to find the time to write, and it’s left me in one of those gut check moments where I needed to decide if this is what I really want to to do with my life. I feel out of sorts with my writing, disconnected. So I appreciate the comments. Just got to keep pushing. =)

    2. ReathaThomasOakley

      Joseph, good to see you back here. Fun story with such telling details, like the duct taped couch/bed. That says so much about your MC.

      1. JosephFazzone

        Thanks Reatha! Seriously trying to be here more. The writing and reading that I was able to accomplish here has helped me tremendously. I really just got to stay focused. I’m also raising 3 children(6yrs, 3yrs, and 1yr) and work full time so it’s very difficult.

  12. rapidbutterfly

    I stood at the foot of the door, I wasn’t even going to go in, I mean who would. I’ve seen horror movies before, the curious one that walks through the house asking if anyone is there is always the first to die, after the popular, mean girl anyway. I pulled out my phone about to call the cops when i saw it, the sword, point up in the ceiling. How does that even happen? A dozen scenario’s ran through my head but I had nothing.
    It pulled me in and before I knew it i was standing under the sword trying to figure out what was going on.
    “What the hell?”
    The high pitched voice snapped me out of the zombie like trance the sword had put me in. I had forgotten my sister Kira was there. She followed me into the house eyes wide, mouth hung open.
    “Why?”she asked, staring up in disbelief.
    “Why what ? She looked at me frowning.
    “Why would you do that?” she said pointing up.
    “Ya, cause its so like me to stick a sword in my ceiling when I’m feeling blue, seriously I am not that weird.”
    “Sure you are, why else would I ask?”
    We stood there, like two fools admiring the new art work in my living room when Kira snapped around to look at me, sending strands of pink and purple hair flying over her shoulder, the look of pure horror on her face.
    “Your door is open and and we’re alone in a house with a mysterious, sharp object in a very odd place, why are we standing here like this is normal?”
    My heart started to pound, fear surpassing my curiosity, I couldn’t remember why I had walked in in the first place. Kira was already half way to the door before I could get myself moving. She turned
    “Kara, lets go.”
    She sounded like she was trying to whisper and scream at the same time. She didn’t wait for me to move, she ran back to me, grabbing my arm she dragged me behind her. We didn’t get far, the lights went, the door slammed shut and the darkness filled with eerie laughter. I dug my phone out of my pocket trying to use it as a flashlight. From the corner of my eye I could see the hooded figure standing next to me.
    He moved fast, reaching out he knocked the phone from my hand sending it across the room. Instinct took over. I threw a punch at the air hoping to connect with something. Instead I grazed the top of a head, without thinking I grabbed for hair, yanking down I kneed him in the face over and over again with everything I had. I could hear a stream of curses coming from Kira, the only sign that my sister was OK, in a way.
    I screamed her name, I wanted to tell her to fight, to get to the door but I couldn’t get the words out.
    “Don’t let them talk, that’s how they use their wonder twin powers.”
    It was such a strange thing to say, so out of place, that’s when it hit me. I gave one last knee to the face before I let go.
    “Turn my lights back on! Now!”
    The lights flickered back on, a bloodied ranger with fake elf ears lay curled up at my feet. I kicked him angrier then ever.
    “What’s wrong with you, it’s just a game.” the elf said picking up the fake bow and quiver he had dropped.
    “Wait, What’s going on?”
    Kira straddled the tallest dwarf ever, arm cocked, ready to take another swing. The blue wizard strolled out of the kitchen.
    “What a surprise the big scary wizard hide in the kitchen playing with the fuse box.”
    “I was not playing with anything, that was a level four spell I casted on this evil lair”. He actually had the nerve to sound peevish. Kira hadn’t mover yet and no matter how much the dwarf struggled he couldn’t get her tiny frame to budge.
    “Its called Larping” I tried to explain but the dwarf butt in, he obviously wasn’t the smart one.
    “Ya we’re on a campaign, defeat the evil twin serpents that rule the dark deviant woods.”
    “Kira swung, connecting with his temple, his eyes fluttered shut and that officer is when you walked in. You know if they were really trying to kill us we would have been dead by the time you showed up.”
    “Uh-huh. OK just one last thing I need to know, how did they get the sword up there?”

  13. Christopher Allen

    The Inheritance

    “Hey Sam, let me call you back. Jesse’s outside barking and running around the front yard, something’s weird over here.” I turned the car off,“ Okay, bye.”

    I slow my steps as I realize the front door is wide open, the biting cold air from within rushed against my burning skin, inviting me closer, offering the mercy I desire from the thick Texas humidity. As I stand in the doorway of my childhood home, every molecule in my body paralyzed, I prayed; “Please let me be dreaming.”

    Two years ago, my father, our father, I am a sibling of five, three boys and two girls; our father developed Alzheimer’s and required around the clock care, none of which any of the five of us could provide first hand. I moved him into a nice facility with a great online reputation, then I moved into his house, our house, the family home where three boys, two girls, a mother, a father and an occasional pet all spent our formative years.

    Blood soaked the ceiling of the den, right beneath Brenda’s old room and dripped thick coagulated globs on the hilt of the 15th century German broadsword I won in an Ebay auction, which was now well driven into the hardwood floors below.

    The setting sun pierced the red drapes, painting the opposite wall, while stamping a long, ominous shadow behind the broadsword.

    As if pulled by some hyper gravitational force I can’t overcome, I walk inside, the force guides me upstairs to Brenda’s room. Why am I here? I don’t want to see this.

    I stammer step, with clutched fists, fighting the force; I enter Brenda’s room and she’s lying in a crumpled mess, a red swamp surrounds her and she’s clutching something to her chest. I pry at her fingers, her grip still so tight. It’s a picture of our mother and father, smeared in Brenda’s blood.

    I began to lose my faculties; the room drifts as if looking backward through binoculars, the ringing in my head crescendos to an unbearable decibel. Did she just move? Brenda?!

    A crack from outside diverts my horror, that’s a sound I’ve never heard, but instantly recognize. I stumble to a window facing the backyard. Below me I see a man tucking a pistol in his belt then flip the body of a woman lying on the ground over, now he’s feverishly rifling through the dead woman’s pants pockets.

    Wait! This can’t be really happening! I, we, just buried father three days ago; and today I’m watching as my older brother Sean is fiendishly ravaging the corpse of our youngest sister. How could it be that this loving, nurturing family, with fabrics woven so tight, seemingly incorruptible; is now tattered and moth eaten, triumphed over by some timeless evil, unwilling to relinquish victory.

    Outside again, the heat and humidity beat any life I have left out of me. Body sized holes are dug sporadically in the backyard, minus the tombstones; it looks like a grave robbing.

    Sean has vanished, he left Melanie lying in the dirt, her face is smeared with blood mud, but she’s still breathing.

    “Melanie! Melanie, what the hell is going on?”

    Her eyes focus as she recognizes me, “Father’s will.”

    “What about it?”

    “The buried treasure.”

    “Melanie!” I couldn’t make sense of the scene as I looked around, ‘There’s nothing buried here! Father never buried any treasure!”

    “He spoke of the buried treasure. You know that, he always had since we were kids.”

    A memory flashed in my mind of a time Father spoke to us all about the Buried Treasure, I just assumed they all understood, we never talked about it. My head fell to my chest.

    Tears streamed down my neck line, “You idiots” I whimpered, “You didn’t know Father at all”

    I grabbed Melanie’s hand and thumped my chest, “This! Thi-This is the buried treasure, you fool.”

    1. Observer Tim

      This is a horrifying and gruesome tale of what greed can do to a family, even more because it is only an exaggeration of what sometimes happens in real life. Nicely done, Christopher. 🙂

      I especially like what you did with the imagery in the first part of the story – it really helped ramp up the visceral nature of the tale.

  14. agnesjack

    I struggled with this, but didn’t want to miss a week, so here it is.
    _________________

    Penelope was dead tired. Literally. She had been haunting her old house for more than three decades and it was exhausting. The present occupiers, the Miltonburys, were the oddest family she had ever tried to frighten. They just didn’t respond to any of the tried and true tricks of the poltergeist trade.

    Creaky doors? Bumps in the night? Gusts of ice cold wind blown into their faces as they walked down the hall? Ha! Even the photo bombs, which she had become so adept at, were shrugged off. In the last one — oh, she was proud of this — she was able to materialize with her head in her hands and blood dripping from her eyes just above the heads of the teenage daughter and ten year old son right at the moment the iPhone clicked. A full materialization took a great deal of concentration, which made it hard to sustain for more than a few seconds, but this time her image was perfectly clear, yet the children didn’t seem to notice.

    “Your hair is sticking up funny,” the daughter had said with a laugh.

    “Yeah, well your forehead looks gigantic with that light bouncing off it,” the son had responded with a giggle.

    Maybe it’s time to move on, Penelope thought. The whole business of haunting had become tiresome. Besides, she’d grown to like this family. They were refreshingly different.

    The mother made paper dolls, which she sold on the internet. These were not the usual flat paper dolls with clothes that had tabs that folded over the shoulders, but intricate, beautiful, three-dimensional dolls with full heads of hair and a variety of outfits, all made from multicolored paper. The father, on the other hand, was a musician of sorts, whose songs could only be heard by dogs. He invented an instrument called a flugalbugle, which he would play in the backyard accompanied by the howling and barking of the neighborhood dogs. The result was surprisingly harmonious and the CDs he made sold like hotcakes at the local consignment shop.

    “Well,” Penelope sighed, “if it’s time to go, I guess I should go,” and she floated through the ceiling and up into the night sky.

    The next evening, while still searching for another place to haunt, Penelope heard a boy’s scream coming from the direction of her old house. Then she heard a girl cry out, “Mom! Dad! Help!”

    Oh dear, Penelope thought. Is that my family? and she flew back to the house. The front door was wide open, and the living room ceiling had a sword embedded in it up to the hilt. No one seemed to be there. She heard howling in the backyard and rushed to see the neighborhood dogs running and jumping around four holes that had been dug there.

    “Oh, no!” she cried, just as all four family members jumped out of the holes and said “BOO!” scaring the bejeebers out of her.

    The family had a good laugh, and Penelope couldn’t help but join them.

    “We like having you here,” the boy said. “So, don’t go away again, okay?”

    1. Kerry Charlton

      My kind of ghost. A fun little story. Even ghosts need love and you show that here. Loved the description of the photo shoot in detail. The family certainly has a great sense of humor and so do you.

    2. Observer Tim

      I am SO GLAD you posted this, Nancy! It is ABSOLUTELY WONDERFUL. I was raised on the televised adventures of Charles Addams’ characters, and as an adult hunted down so many of his slightly macabre and extremely bizarre one-panel cartoons. This manages to catch the flair and style of those in such a beautiful, picturesque, and insanely heartwarming way. If I had a ghost like Penelope I’d want her to stay as well.

      With no slight to the many other wonderful stories on the site this week, yours is my absolute favourite. 🙂 🙂

  15. igonzales81

    The strangest part about walking through the open front door was that I knew the goblin sitting on my brand-new couch with his muddy shoes propped up on the matching ottoman.

    “Godfrey,” I greeted him, once again getting that feeling I sometimes get upon coming home.

    “Yo,” he said, sparing me a glance as he opened a fresh Guinness, his gaze going back to the TV.

    “What are you doing here?” I took another look around. “And why are all the lights on?”

    “Oh, I’m, uh, working,” he gestured with the bottle toward a muddy shovel that stood beside the back door, which was also open, revealing a profusion of freshly dug holes in my back yard. “As for the lights, I thought it was a good idea. You know, just in case I missed something.”

    “Right,” I said, rubbing my forehead against the headache I could already feel coming on. “Where is she?”

    “Kitchen,” Godfrey spoke around the mouth of his beer.

    When I walked around the corner, I just had to stop for a bit, count to ten. My kitchen was unrecognizable as a place for the preparation of food. All the furniture and appliances had been pushed to one corner in a jumbled, haphazard stack the looked as though it might come down at any second. The open space of floor this left bare had been marked with a meticulously constructed drawing, some sort of many-pointed star inside a circle, circumscribed with a ring of words written in a language few knew existed.

    What really caught my eye was the massive sword hilt protruding from the ceiling. By the size of what I could see, the weapon had to be over eight feet long, which meant that most of it was probably in my bedroom right now. I could only hope it had missed my waterbed.

    And there stood the architect of this chaos. My dear sister was staring at her handiwork, chewing on a fingernail, a scatter of empty nail polish jars around her feet.

    I blew out a sigh. “What happened this time?”

    “One mistake,” she said distractedly, eyes still on the diagram. “Just one tiny mistake, and what should have been a cockatrice came out as a giant skeleton knight.” She looked at me and shrugged. “Fortunately, I was ready for a little mishap like that.” One hand fluttered a wave at the wall beside me, where I could see the outline of a massive form ash-charred against my kitchen wall.

    So that’s what Godfrey had been burying in the backyard. “And why were you trying to summon a cockatrice?”

    “Dinner. Quite delicious, really.” She frowned. “If you can kill it before it turns you to stone.”

    “And you had to do this in my kitchen…why?”

    “I was going to surprise you,” she had the grace to look embarrassed.

    “Well,” I said. “I’d say I’m quite surprised, as always. Now, let’s see about returning my kitchen to some semblance of normalcy, okay?”

  16. danbill

    “Claudia!” I called out again. The eerie silence that followed, combined with the disorder made me sick to the stomach.

    I opened the door to the garden. There were no spades or tools to be seen. Whoever had done this had been prepared and calm.

    I reached into my jacket pocket for my phone. “Wait,” said the part of my brain that had followed the movies – when I had time to watch them before getting into investment banking – “better check the house is secure first, give yourself the all clear.”

    I’d already strolled through the ground floor rooms, but what about the cupboards in the kitchen? Eew, I thought, as my heart began to race, and the hairs on the back of my neck rose out of caution. I didn’t have to picture someone leaping out of a cupboard to pounce on me to know that was a risk I wouldn’t want to take.
    My hands were thinking faster than my head, and they led me straight under the sword to the cupboard under the stairs. I could grab the broom, thud each cupboard as a warning and open them from a safe distance.

    Now where the hell does she keep it? I asked myself as I burrowed deeper and deeper into the forgotten depths of her shoe collection.

    That’s when I heard the toilet flushing. I grabbed a stiletto and leapt to my feet. The toilet! I hadn’t even checked in there.

    The door swung open, and out stepped a spotty teenager with a black hoodie. “Sorry,” he mumbled, and strolled right out of the open front door while peering into his phone.

    I opened my mouth and waited, as a flurry of thoughts competed to trickle out of my stunned mouth.

    “Eh?” I shouted, just as the door slammed shut.

    Then I hear the crying upstairs. I pounded up the stairs, taking on a burst of adrenaline in the expectation of seeing my wife gagged. Instead she was lying head down in her dress on the bed.

    “Claudia! Baby, baby, what the?”

    She looked up into my eyes and wept some more.

    “It’s ok, it’s ok. He’s gone now, well they, I guess, it wasn’t just one guy, was it? But he seems to be the last of them.”

    She shook her head.

    “Did they say – ?”

    “F****ing Pokémon?”

    “What??”

    “This sodding waste of time they’ve got all the geeks playing. Pokemon. On your phone.”

    “Yeah but how did they – ?”

    “Turns out our garden is some kind of Pokemon stud farm, guarded by a dragon, hence the nutter who was swinging his sword around in the hallway till it got stuck.”

    “Oh baby, that’s just – “

    “Yeah and f*** you Josh Walson.”

    I flinched, as I guess anyone would at hearing their wife address them by their full name.

    “Baby, I came as soon as I could.”

    “Oh yeah, taking clients out till an ungodly hour when you can’t even protect your own house from Pokemon hunters. I want you to move out, I want you to fade away in some godforsaken hotel like the losers do in the movies, and I want you to weep, weep and weep some more.”

  17. Beebles

    sorry not very original, but i set myself a particular goal with this one.
    ——————————–
    Erin Delquattro stared at the rapier stuck into the fake ceiling beam. In his mind he could still hear it vibrating.

    ‘Neat trick, Compadre.’

    ‘You think, Bob?’ Erin replied doubtfully.

    ‘Sure. We used to practice for hours to pull off a stunt like that and you did it first time. They should pay you extra.’

    Erin ran his hand along the coarse wood of the reproduction oak banqueting table that ran for what seemed like a mile through the set of the fake stone hall. He had been standing on it, mid duel, when he jammed the sword into the beam. In front of everyone he had failed to free the rapier. It ended the day’s shooting.

    ‘I barely managed to get up onto the table in one take, even using a chair.’

    ‘Just a little out of shape, Compadre. A few days in your villa by the sea and you’ll be right as rain. Tell you what, how about a bit of a bender, like the old days?’

    Erin shuddered at the term. The old days.

    ‘That was then, Bob. Look what it did to you, and you were only thirty.’

    ‘Hey, thirty five. Do you mind? Come on, a few drinks, a few girls. Party by the pool?’

    Erin slumped into a chair, the very one he had conceded to use to get onto the table. Maybe a bit of the high life would do him good? Get his juices flowing again. He clenched his left hand and winced. The frills of his Jacobin costume hung limply down his sleeve. He had to hand it to the costume department; the levels of detail had improved with every film. How many was it now, fifty, sixty?

    ‘More like eighty.’

    ‘Thanks Bob, I really needed reminding of that right now.’

    ‘Mr Delquattro?’

    The voice made him jump. A woman he vaguely recognised, about his age, was walking out of the darkness of the studio warehouse and into the lights.

    ‘Mr Delquattro, are you alright? I saw the lights on. The crew have gone home for the night. I thought I heard you talking to someone.’

    Erin raised himself up in the chair, his back ached.

    ‘No, no, I was just going over a few lines.’

    ‘Ready for the scene with the wolf pit tomorrow?’ she said with anticipation.

    Erin cringed. ‘Something like that.’ He had seen the pits they had dug out the back. He was supposed to swing across them. He felt an arm on his shoulder.

    ‘Are you sure you are alright, Mr Delquattro? I know it’s been a rough day.’ She pulled up a chair.

    He appreciated the soothing tone of her voice. ‘You saw …’ he nodded to the sword.

    ‘Oh yes,’ she said with the same enthusiasm. ‘I’ve worked on three of your films now. You are a legend. My husband took me to see ‘The Two Musketeers’ on our first date. We’ve followed you ever since. Such a shame about Robert Lancaster… I worked as a dancer for a number of years, always trying to get onto one of your films, but…’ – she shrugged and rubbed her leg – ‘time catches up with us.’

    Then she smiled, eyes like spotlights, ‘Best thing that ever happened to me, age.’

    Erin looked into her dark face, baffled. ‘Why on earth do you say that?’

    ‘Well I finally got to work on your films. The worst part was giving up the dream, realising the time had come to change. But now look at me. Now if you will excuse me,’ she said rising, ‘I promised to meet my husband for dinner, unless … perhaps you would like to join us?’

    Erin clenched his hand again, then looked at the sword once more. ‘Yes, yes, thank you, I would.’

    ‘I’ll see you at the gate.’ Her rapid, pencil skirt steps, echoed in the space, heading toward the distant exit light.

    ‘So hey, Compadre, has she got a friend you can set me up with?’

    Erin ignored the voice until he reached the door.

    ‘Well, Compadre?’

    Erin killed the lights.

    ‘Goodbye, Bob, God rest.’

    1. Kerry Charlton

      When we’re children, we have imaginary play mates that fill a special need
      As Erin said at the end. “God bless Bob.” So he replaced his former buddy in life with an imaginary version of Bob
      What ever it takes to make it through lived.passed. through sorrow, itself, suchbeblesses also. Thank you Beebles for your poignant story.

    2. ReathaThomasOakley

      Beebles, I really liked this. I learned so much about Erin with just these few sentences, an aging, lonely man hiding behind the role he plays.

    3. Observer Tim

      Very nice story about those who survive, Beebles. I love the subtle themes you put in here and showed Erin’s age without actually telling us until it was simply a confirmation of what we already understood. I had an image of Douglas Fairbanks and Zorro. 🙂

      Just looking at the comments, Kerry got the right word – poignant.

  18. Nathaniel_Bryant

    Twelve hours of digging graves. The backhoe is broken, so it was shovels today.

    Like it once was, when men weren’t scared to sweat.

    Like it will be again.

    I drive home in the dark. My house lights are on and the front door is open.

    I kill the engine. Walk up the stairs.

    Listen. The hum of the fridge. A dog barking. Wind through the leaves.

    Breathe the night air deep.

    Do you still got it? What if you don’t?

    Let it out slowly.

    Yeah, well. Nothing lasts forever.

    Move inside, fast. Bathroom, clear. Down the hall with fists ready. Eyes quick. Doors and corners, doors and corners.

    Kitchen, clear. Living room… clear. What the hell? No time, keep moving. Bedroom clear. Throw open the closet. Clear.

    Shut off the lights. Go back to the kitchen, open the fridge, grab a beer. I sit on the couch and take a long drink before considering the sword stuck in my ceiling. It is pinning a piece of paper to the popcorn texturing. It’s probably a note. More likely a demand. Some bullshit. The blade has an inscription, but it doesn’t matter.

    I know who it is and I know what they want.

    There are only so many people who are that goddamn theatric.

    I stand up with beer in hand and mosey to the backyard. Someone’s ruined the garden.

    Of course they think it’s in the backyard. He’s a gravedigger. Well, at least he is for now. Spend all day making holes, it’s only logical he put it in a hole.

    I shake my head. Other people’s kids.

    Back inside to the bedroom closet and access the crawlspace. I get the satchel and the book and the nine millimeter semiautomatic. Putting the book in the satchel with the other things makes it bulge against my side. I look over the pistol and check the chamber. Safety first, children.

    It only takes a moment to get the sword down. Who knows, it may come in useful.

    I take a final look around the small house. It was fun while it lasted.

    I step outside. Headlights.

    I duck back inside. Maybe it’s just someone headed home late. Anybody but them.

    Most familes don’t own nondescript panel vans. It moves slowly. The door slides open and four guys in tactical gear slither out towards my house.

    Breathe the night air deep.

    Do you still got it? What if you don’t?

    Let it out slowly. Double-check the gun.

    Yeah, well. Nothing lasts forever.

    1. jhowe

      This is unusual and intriguing. I so want to know what it is that he’s hiding, but then again, I don’t need to. I liked how he grabbed a beer in the middle of it all, not knowing what was next. But his philosophy of nothing lasting forever warrants it and adds to hi mystique.

  19. Pete

    I pull in the driveway. Walter’s Buick is exactly where it was this morning, no surprise as I have his key. But the door’s wide open. Windows too, even as it’s ninety degrees out.

    Deep breaths. It’s fine, I tell myself.

    “Walter?”

    I find his cane stuck in the ceiling. A dusting of plaster at my feet. A large man in his prime, I’m as impressed as I am pissed—it’s certainly a new twist. I head for the kitchen. “Walter?”

    It’s hot. The pictures on the fridge are curled at the edges. In the cabinet I find Walter’s pills and take a peek. A bunch of blue pellets, I can’t tell if he’s still on pill strike. Then again, a cane in the ceiling answers that question. I clutch them in my hand and wonder how much harm there is in this experience.

    Out the back door to the patio, where normal couples might sit and have a glass of wine, discuss the day or otherwise watch birds. My husband is out in the grass, on his knees in the thick grass, digging.
    Back inside I get changed. I’m beat from work and my back hurts. I make a point not to look at myself in the mirror while I change into an old tee, shorts. Gardening clothes. There’s no point in thinking about an alternate path. This is the one I’ve chosen.

    On the way down I look at the cane and find reason to laugh. Maybe because it’s so ridiculous. Walter’s paintings surround me, remind me of what his brain and hands are capable of producing.
    I join him in the backyard, watching his hands, stained with red clay in their feverish scooping. I offer him water and he gulps it down. He’s sunburned and sweaty.

    He smacks his lips and smiles. Looks around at the dirt and roots and clumps of grass.
    “Lisa. Look. I know it’s here. Seven steps from the oak, right? My Mickey Mantle rookie card is in there. I never wanted to put that in there.”

    That Oak is four hundred miles and sixty years away. And Aunt Lisa has been dead for twenty. So I nod. What else is there? Give him the pills. Yeah, I should. I should watch him lay empty and hollow on the couch? I should hand him over to CrestHaven?. Over his shoulder I see our neighbor’s watching but pretending not too. I give them a wave.

    “Really? Hand me that shovel.”

    He’s sweating and drooling, his eyes set on the task and just as I think that he has no idea I’m there, he looks to me and smiles. I smile back and fix my gloves.

    Screw it, let’s dig.

    I can’t do much, but it’s therapeutic for both of us, digging in the dusk. That’s what I tell myself. That my husband is dead and taking care of Walter is all that I have.

    1. Pete

      Let me have another go at this, I have a three year old and can’t really edit but the husband thing needs to be fixed, so…

      I pull in the driveway. Walter’s Buick is exactly where it was this morning, no surprise as I have his key. But the door’s wide open. Windows too, even as it’s ninety degrees out.

      Deep breaths. It’s fine, I tell myself.

      “Walter?”

      I find his cane stuck in the ceiling. A dusting of plaster at my feet. A large man in his prime, I’m as impressed as I am pissed he’s still got it—certainly a new twist. I head for the kitchen. “Walter?”

      The pictures on the fridge are curled at the edges. In the cabinet I find Walter’s pills and take a peek. A bunch of blue pellets, I can’t tell if he’s still on pill strike. Then again, a cane in the ceiling answers that question. I clutch them in my hand and wonder how much harm there is in this experience.

      Out the back door to the patio, where Jack and I used to unwind, have a glass of wine, discuss the day or otherwise watch the birds. Now my father-in-law is out in the yard, on his knees in the thick grass, digging.

      Back inside I get changed. I’m beat from work and make a point not to look at myself in the mirror while I change into an old tee, shorts. Gardening clothes. Let’s go have some fun.

      On the way down I look at the cane and find reason to laugh. Maybe because it’s so ridiculous. Walter’s paintings surround me, remind me of what his brain and hands are capable of producing.
      I join him in the backyard, watching his hands, stained with red clay in their feverish scooping. I offer him water and he gulps it down. He’s sunburned and sweaty.

      He smacks his lips and smiles. Looks around at the dirt and roots and clumps of grass.

      “Lisa. Look. I know it’s here. Seven steps from the oak, right? My Mickey Mantle rookie card is in there. I never wanted to put that in there.”

      That Oak is four hundred miles and sixty years away. And Aunt Lisa has been dead for twenty. So I nod. What else is there? Give him the pills. Yeah, I should. I should watch him lay empty and hollow on the couch? I should hand him over to CrestHaven Care. Over his shoulder I see our neighbor’s watching but pretending not too. I give them a wave.

      “Really? Hand me that shovel.”

      He’s sweating and drooling, his eyes set on the task and just as I think that he has no idea I’m there, he looks to me and smiles. I smile back and fix my gloves.

      Screw it, let’s dig.

      I can’t do much, but it’s therapeutic for both of us, digging in the dusk. Digging through time, that’s what I tell myself. That my husband is dead and taking care of his father is all that I have.

        1. Kerry Charlton

          This is a beautiful piece of work , expression of unfailing love for her husband’s memory. I believe it is a powerhouse of drama and and a peak into the suffering she ‘s gone through since her husband died.

      1. cosi van tutte

        Hi, Pete!

        I’m glad you changed that last line. It made the story stronger and helped explain why she didn’t want to hand him over to a nursing home.

        Also, just so you know, I love this part: “…his eyes set on the task and just as I think that he has no idea I’m there, he looks to me and smiles. I smile back and fix my gloves.

        Screw it, let’s dig.”

      2. ReathaThomasOakley

        This was a very moving, and strong, depiction of a situation many are living. In some ways I prefer the first version. The words, this is the one (path) I’ve chosen, were ones I’m sure many people have spoken.

      3. Observer Tim

        That tiny change was what made everything make sense. This is a wonderful and powerful story of someone dealing with the pains and “issues” of dealing with what we callously dismiss as ‘senility’. Sometimes it is better to join the world than to try and change it. 🙂

  20. igonzales81

    The strangest part about walking through the open front door was that I knew the goblin sitting on my brand-new couch with his muddy shoes propped up on the matching ottoman.

    “Godfrey,” I greeted him, once again getting that feeling I sometimes get upon coming home.

    “Yo,” he said, sparing me a glance as he opened a fresh Guinness, his gaze going back to the TV.

    “What are you doing here?” I took another look around. “And why are all the lights on?”

    “Oh, I’m, uh, working,” he gestured with the bottle toward a muddy shovel that stood beside the back door, which was also open, revealing a profusion of freshly dug holes in my back yard. “As for the lights, I thought it was a good idea. You know, just in case I missed something.”

    “Right,” I said, rubbing my forehead against the headache I could already feel coming on. “Where is she?”

    “Kitchen,” Godfrey spoke around the mouth of his beer.

    When I walked around the corner, I just had to stop for a bit, count to ten. My kitchen was unrecognizable as a place for the preparation of food. All the furniture and appliances had been pushed to one corner in a jumbled, haphazard stack the looked as though it might come down at any second. The open space of floor this left bare had been marked with a meticulously constructed drawing, some sort of many-pointed star inside a circle, circumscribed with a ring of words written in a language few knew existed.

    What really caught my eye was the massive sword hilt protruding from the ceiling. By the size of what I could see, the weapon had to be over eight feet long, which meant that most of it was probably in my bedroom right now. I could only hope it had missed my waterbed.

    And there stood the architect of this chaos. My dear sister was staring at her handiwork, chewing on a fingernail, a scatter of empty nail polish jars around her feet.

    I blew out a sigh. “What happened this time?”

    “One mistake,” she said distractedly, eyes still on the diagram. “Just one tiny mistake, and what should have been a cockatrice came out as a giant skeleton knight.” She looked at me and shrugged. “Fortunately, I was ready for a little mishap like that.” One hand fluttered a wave at the wall beside me, where I could see the outline of a massive form ash-charred against my kitchen wall.

    So that’s what Godfrey had been burying in the backyard. “And why were you trying to summon a cockatrice?”

    “Dinner. Quite delicious, really.” She frowned. “If you can kill it before it turns you to stone.”

    “And you had to do this in my kitchen…why?”

    “I was going to surprise you,” she had the grace to look embarrassed.

    “Well,” I said. “I’d say I’m quite surprised, as always. Now, let’s see about returning my kitchen to some semblance of normalcy, okay?”

  21. UnclePizza

    Here’s part four. (Part one is in response to Surprise on the Doorstep and parts two and three are below).

    SUMMER

    The boy had done well despite his disadvantages. True, when the woman left him in the coyote den he had been much larger than the pups, but they quickly matured while he remained helpless. Within a few months the pups were fully weaned and learning to hunt on their own. The boy, on the other hand, could not even roll himself over.

    But the pack knew to care for the tiny human, and another bitch took to nursing him when his first mam ran dry after her own pups were weaned. They even sensed that his odd lack of fur would leave him cold, and they nestled against him to keep him warm at night. When winter approached, the old woman left some hides in the arroyo near their den, and the woman’s hold over the carnivores was such that they knew not to eat the soft leather. Instead, and somewhat against their hungry nature, they drug the hides into their den and pulled them over the boy when they left him behind on their cold night hunts.

    And so the boy lived through his first year, at the end of which he was crawling nearly as well as the coyotes, although he was much slower. In fact, he was too slow and helpless to stray far from the den, and was always left behind when the pack hunted. Still, he was full of playful energy, and would wrestle with the younger coyotes until they all lay panting on the rocky hillside.

    Sometime during his third year the boy began to walk on only two legs. At first this made the coyotes nervous because they had long ago learned than only danger traveled on its hind legs. Soon, though, they got used to the boy’s strange ways. Nearing his fourth year, the boy began to join the pack on forays further from the den, although he was often scolded for his clumsiness in startling prey.

    In time, the boy learned to be stealthy. And, although he was not as fast, as strong, or as vicious as the rest of his pack, he was by far much smarter. He also had skills that the others did not have – he could use his free front limbs in strange but useful ways. One of his cleverest feats was to use his stealth and ability to throw stones as a way to drive prey into places where his brethren lay in wait. It was a strategy that worked well, and in time the some of the pack even began to salivate at the sight of the boy collecting stones. By the spring of his sixth year the boy had indeed become a valuable member of his pack.

    As the summer wore on, the boy began to sense…something. It was as if there was a voice that he couldn’t hear calling from inside his ears. He would sometimes turn his head to see what creature was calling, but there was never any sign. He began to sense that others in his pack heard it too, and sometimes the pack leader, the old male with the top of his left ear missing, would wander off alone for a day.

    Old half-ear was getting slower, too, and the boy knew that he would soon wander off and never return. All of the older coyotes eventually did, and although the boy did not know why, he knew the signs. And half-ear was now showing them all.

    One night, as half-ear slowly got up and headed toward the den, he stopped and turned away, walking slowly off into the desert instead. The boy, now resolved to learn the mystery of where his kin went when they took their last walk, silently followed the old coyote. Half-ear moved slowly, stopping often to rest, but the boy kept him in sight throughout the night. Though the child should have been tired, he felt alert, sensing again that something was calling him.

    At dawn the old coyote rounded a group of large red boulders that had fallen from the mesa above, and made his way down a low hill. They boy continued to silently follow half-ear, getting down onto his belly as he neared the edge of the hill, stopping behind a large rock. He slowly peered around the rock and watched as half ear approached a very large pile of stones. The stones were larger than he could have lifted, and there were more than he had ever seen stacked in one place. They rose in long straight stacks, and formed a large pile that was covered on top with high piles of dried yucca smeared with clay. There was a large opening in the center of the pile of stones, and the boy could see that the pile was empty inside, like a den.

    Half ear lay down about ten lengths from the pile of stones, facing the large opening. Soon a creature that walked on only two legs as he did came out of the stone-pile den. He had never seen such a creature before, although there was something familiar about it. It was taller than he was, and its skin was darker and full of wrinkles and scars. The creature knelt in front of half ear, and put its hand on the old coyote’s head. Soon, the boy saw half-ear stop breathing and lay still.

    The boy also lay still, well hidden from view, holding his own breath and confused by the scene below. So he was startled when the creature looked directly at him and beckoned with its arm. It was then that he knew where the call was coming from, and what it meant. It had been coming from the creature below, and he knew now that he could not resist its call.

    ——————
    (More to come – we’re about halfway there now…)

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Place me with jhowe. I can not wait for the next part. The manner inwhick you sopin this tale is incredible and beautiful and powerful.

    1. Observer Tim

      This is definitely a grand retelling of a great myth; I can feel the history building in this to something greater, Uncle. Great job setting the tension and pacing. The whole thing comes across like a Jungle Book for North/Central America.

  22. Kerry Charlton

    A NEW BEGINNING

    PART FIVE, CONCLUSION

    THE GHOST OF ROSS CASTLE

    SEBENA

    At dusk, the next day, Brian and Maureen’s Range Rover approached Ross Castle in the failing light. A sheaf of Irish Darts encased in a leather holder about three feet long, lay on the seat beside Maureen.

    “They look like small javelins, Brian said, “ how come there’s only three?”

    “Easy to answer, they are deadly at ranges up to sixty feet. If you can’t hit what your aiming at with three darts, you’re a dead Irishman.”

    “Oh.” That’s all Brian could manage. He began to wonder where his brain was, to volunteer so quickly, As the castle appeared in their windshield, thoughts of death vanished from Brian’ determined quest.

    Sabena was waiting for them in the great hall on the fifth floor. She had drawn a small circle for the three to stand in. Letters of unknown description made their way among the interior drawing.

    “Stand with me and grasp your arms tightly, for the wind and darkness will be fierce. Do not let go for any reason.”

    Sabena closed her eyes and started to speak in ancient Irish, not even Maureen could recognize. Cold winds, darkness and a sense of falling surrounded the three for less than a minute.

    “We’re here,” Sabena said. Brian looked around and didn’t notice anything out of place, but looking out the stone encased window, all he could see was a wilderness and a small bridge spanning a full moat. On the other side , a dirt road wandered away from Ross Castle.

    Brian mounted the largest horse, Sabena and Maureen rode two mares. Each were carrying weapons, Brian, the Black Baron’s sword, the girls, Irish Darts..

    “We must hurry,” Sabena said, “we have only until dawn and we need to take the back way so we can surprise him. The wooded countryside slowed the horses down but in an hour or so, O’Reilly’s house showed through the trees.

    The chieftain’s house was located on a rise, with a sheer drop on three sides. The front sided was guarded by a pair of his army.

    “We must take them without any noise,” Sabena said..

    “How about I just walk up to them and start to chat,” Maureen said. “You can slip behind them and throttle them.”

    “I don’t think that’s going to work, what about your quiver of darts?”

    “I’ll just say, I’m looking for game.”

    “Go Maureen, but be careful,” Sabena said.

    She was frightened as she approached them but with her beauty she engaged them and asked where there was some small game. Out of the corner of her eye, she watched as Brian and Sabena circled around them silently and captured them without a sound. Tied and gagged they were led to the woods and knocked unconscious. Sabena approached the front door to the two story stone house with slits for windows and rapped on the knocker..

    The chieftain himself looked through a slit and recognized her and opened his door as he was not afraid for he held his sword in his right hand.

    “What do you want girl? Haven’t you done enough to bring me sorrow?”

    “You killed my Father, I want revenge for his death.”

    “You’re just a woman, I could kill you where you stand.”

    “I will bring honor to you Sabena.” Brian stepped from the clearing and raised his sword. He measured his opponent with a keen eye. ’At least six feet tall with the girth of a bear and shoulders the size of oxen., ‘I’ll need every bit of my martial art training,‘ Brian thought.

    O’Reilly pushed Sabena to the ground, raised his sword and rushed Brian. He ran with an amazing speed for his size, but Brian easily side-stepped and swung his sword toward the chieftain’s head for a kill. He missed but drew blood across the chieftain’s back. Before Brian could rally, the chieftain had grabbed him in a bone crushing hold. He felt himself losing consciousness as he watched Maureen circle both with a dart in her fist.

    As he was about to black out he heard her, “Duck.”

    The chieftain heard the sound of the dart coming toward him , knew it well but not fast enough to respond. The dart entered the back of the chieftain’s neck, passed through his windpipe and pierced Brian’s left shoulder. They both fell together, the dead chieftain with Brian on top.

    The dart was halfway through Brian’s shoulder, Sabena cut the shaft loose from the chieftain’s neck. But the barbs would have killed Brian if pulled out. Brain felt an enormous pain then blacked out. When he awoke, the dart was gone from his shoulder and a crude bandage covered his wound.

    Maureen was by his side bathed in tears,

    “I‘m sorry love, Sabena and I had to push the dart through your shoulder and out the back or you would have bled to death.”

    He looked at her with an amazing love for her.

    “We have to leave,” Sabena said. “Can you mount a horse Brian if we tie you to the saddle?”

    The ride back was swifter. Sabena knew the chieftain’s men would follow but hopefully they would find an empty circle. The rush of wind came, both Sabena and Maureen held Brian from falling through time. Again in one minute they were transported back to the 21st century to Ross Castle.

    Brian and Sabena carried Brian to the Range Rover. As Maureen started the engine to take Brian to the small emergency hospital in Ross, Sabena said goodbye to her and kissed Brian passionately.

    “I’m being called by the gatekeeper. Tell your champion, that I will always remember both of you. When you have time, I left something for you, my necklace. It’s in a box behind some books in the great hall. Now go and God speed.

    Two days later, Maureen left the emergency hospital with Brian. He was in high spirits as they drove to Ross Castle. She had told Brian about the necklace and as they searched the bookcases that lined the wall they found the box and opened it. Inside was an emerald necklace, the center stone, as least fifteen carets and the side stones of four carets, wired around the rest of the necklace.

    As they drove home slowly,

    “Well Brian, do have enough for your novel?”

    “Maybe a novel and a sequel.. I’m going to need a hunk of money.”

    “Why is that?”

    “I’ll need to buy you a wedding dress to match your necklace.
    ..

    1. jhowe

      Very exciting KC. I liked the concept of a ghost being able to arrange time travel. That must have been one mean dart to pierce two men. Well done and very enjoyable.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thanks John. Irish Darts are very slender, about three feet long with a sharp, barbed point. Back in their time, they were probably the most feared weapon the Irish used. Speaking of excitement, my heart was pounding when I wrote this morning, because I had no idea where I was headed until I typed it. j

          1. Kerry Charlton

            You’re right Uncle, they are the fun ones. Thanks for the read, I’m glsd you enjoyed it. Happy writing!

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you, igonzales, I didn’t mean for the last part to be so long, but I couldn’t slow the writer down, whoever he was. I was just typing.

    2. Observer Tim

      This is exciting and fantastic and wonderful, and I love a happy ending. I could see this being made into a movie in the age back when they made love story movies with real tension and happy endings. 🙂

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you Tim. I am going to work on this a little more and try to have it published. It’s the most enjoyable experience when I become the typist to my subconscious and let him write the story for me. I’m thinking of aiming for a younger reader. Can you let me know if you think that is an appropiate audience.

        1. Observer Tim

          I could easily see this being slightly rewritten for a middle school audience (12-17), with slightly different emphases for boys or girls, and an aside or two on the Irish history and folklore of it (e.g. the description of Irish darts where introduced, some stuff about castles, and the like). For a YA audience (18-24) the story would likely have to be more convoluted. 🙂

    3. ReathaThomasOakley

      Finally able to stay connected, in route to WY, to finish this. I like how you resolved the issue of the two women seemingly vying for Brian. Another great, and highly readable, saga, combining past with present.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you Reatha, I had a lot of pleasure writing it. You say you’re on the way to Wyoming, I have a daughter who lives in Riverton. She loves it up there. The pictures she sends me are awesome.

        1. ReathaThomasOakley

          Kerry, we are snow birds, summers in Wyoming, north eastern high plains area, winters in Florida, my home state. I have the best of both worlds.

    4. Beebles

      Followed this with all the eagerness your other stories instill and was not disappointed. I never mentioned, by the way, that Mary Cobb made it to kindle – my kindle. Saved them up and read them together. Makes me think of The Time of Their Lives – fave A&C movie.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you Amaria, I appreciate your wading your way through this. I hadn’t meant for this to be so long, but the typewriter didn’t know when to stop. Happy writing.

  23. jhowe

    The criminals called themselves Slavo and Hienes. On a dark night of bloodthirsty debauchery, the victim’s collarbone splintered and jabbed into the finger of Slavo.

    “Ding-dang, ouch, patooty.”

    “You can’t say that,” said Hienes. “What do you think this is, Rolling Stone Magazine?”

    “But, we’re criminals. It’s how we roll.”

    “Didn’t you see Home Alone? Those criminals never spoke like that, and they made seventeen sequels to the movie. Each one better than the last, I might add.”

    “But Hienes, what about Tony Soprano?”

    “That was HBO. They can say those things on there.”

    “I say, that we’re two guys, out dismembering Walmart Greeters, and if we wanna say peach fuzz, moose peg, rump munch, we should be able to.”

    “My ears are bleeding, for crying out loud, Slavo. Do you want to get published or not?”

    “I suppose so.”

    “Ok, I’m going up the stairs to poke a sword in the ceiling and I’ll swing a paint can at you. This will be a test.”

    Bonk!

    “Rats, ping pong, willie!”

    “That’s it! I can’t take any more. I’m calling the censor.”

    “But Hienes, my *$#!ing head hurts like %^*&.”

    “That’s better. Now quit your complaining and remove that woman’s spleen.”

    1. Kerry Charlton

      John, I hope Brian reads this although I don’t think four letter words have anything to do with a non-post. I loved this sentence……”I say, that we’re two guys, out dismembering Walmart Greeters, and we want to say peach fuzz, moose peg, rump munch we should be able to.” I don’t use the word hilarious very often, so when you see it from me, you know it’s special.

    2. Observer Tim

      What a lovely statement on censorship, John. I feel like I’m watching a network-edited version of Inglorious Baddies. This had me chuckling at every substitution, but it’s good to see they got their bleeps back…

  24. TheAwkwardLlama

    I sat in my car with the engine running, and kept refreshing Facebook as if I could expect anything new. The frustration of seeing the same content over and over was causing a distant hum in my brain, but still, I’d rather deal with that than try to summon the motivation to gather my things and go inside.
    Finally, my phone died. I really needed to get a car charger; but if I did, I might never go inside again. Rather than listen to my own mind I shut the engine off and found my laptop and the groceries.
    I shambled up the three stories to my apartment when I saw the gaping block of light in my doorframe. A knife of adrenaline pierced my guts as I tried to set everything down stealthily. I made sure my phone was on silent and texted my roommate, Jerry: “Don’t come home. Will explain.”
    Let it be crackheads, let it be murderers, only don’t let it be- I shut off the flow of thought and walked silently as a cat through the doorway. I pressed my body against the wall, and took stock of my living room. All seemed undisturbed, except for the lights, which had definitely not been on when I left this morning. I crept into the kitchen. Here something was disturbed; there was a fall of plaster on my normally pristine floor, and looking up, I saw a sword sprouting from the ceiling.
    “Elonthvir,” I whispered. Over the counter I saw movement. In the rocking chair in the TV/dining room, I saw a familiar, and perhaps, not unwelcome figure, nodding back and forth. Kael. He whom I had once called, “brother”.
    “Come,” Kael said, with a perfunctory gesture. I walked into the TV/dining room and sat across from him.
    “So,” I said. “Looks like I’m not getting my deposit back.”
    My guest screwed up his face. “Why would you want to? This place reeks of mortal and it is ugly besides. If you had to live in the mortal world, why not live in one of the less ugly places they’ve built?”
    “Sorry, but I kinda got cut out of my inheritance, as you might well recall. And here in this world, I’m just an ordinary guy. Terribly sorry my apartment, which is $1100 a month I’ll have you know, doesn’t satisfy you.”
    Kael waved his hand. “Your mortal finances are very boring. You are probably wondering why I am gracing you with my presence.”
    He stood up and walked out onto the modest balcony. I followed. Something didn’t seem right about the pool. “Kael! You didn’t! The apartment complex just installed that pool!”
    Kael smirked. “I admit that blasting those holes in that bathtub amused me, but I had another reason. I killed a daemonling in there.”
    My face turned pale. “You found a daemonling here?”
    “Not just a daemonling. I tracked Skyrek here.”
    Bile rose in my throat. “Let me go find my sword,” I muttered.

    1. jhowe

      This is the beginning of something unusual and thrilling. I liked the character of Kael. He’s smug, but in a good way. Nicely done. I found one little thing: after the MC’s phone died in the car, he texted his roommate at his front doorway.

  25. Kerry Charlton

    THE SWORD IN THE CEILNG
    [PART THREE IS BELOW]

    A NEW BEGINNING
    PART FOUR

    THE GHOST OF ROSS CASTLE

    SABENA

    When Maureen warned Brian about the sword, the room temperature dropped suddenly and a damp chill permeated the castle. An unearthly moaning sound and a flickering light appeared on the wall opposite the sword.

    “Sabena’s here, Brian be careful.”

    “Why are you here?” emitted from the wall and an aberration appeared in an eerie glow, “Am I supposed to believe that you’re the last heir to Ross Castle?”

    Brian walked to the wall and confronted her. Her image focused and she stepped from the wall. Brian held his ground,

    “Maureen and I are here to try and help you, don’t be so pushy.”

    “Ah, so you’re not afraid, are you?“

    “Not a bit.”

    “Well then grab the sword and pull it out.”

    “Brian stop,” Maureen said. “There is a legend about this sword. No one has seen it since the seventeenth century and it‘s the sword of the Black Baron. It is supposed to .represent evil.”.

    “You mean this sword?” Brian said. He reached up and grabbed the hilt and the sword started to release itself from the ceiling. As it slid from the stone, he realized the weight and grasped it with both hands. Nearly four feet in length, the sword still had the stain of blood from it’s last battle.

    “My Father’s sword,” the ghostly image said, “’tis his own blood, when he died
    defending himself against the O’Reilly chieftain. Then O‘Reilly put a curse on me

    He said, “Were it not for you, my son would still be alive“

    “Sabena“, Maureen said, “we are here to help you, not to punish you for something you never did.”

    “Your lover is strong,” Sabena said to Maureen, “and brave and also kin to the lost heir, but it‘s impossible to release me.”

    “Are you certain about that?“ Brian asked.

    “There‘s only one way and I wouldn’t ask it of you.”

    “Tell us,” Maureen said. “We’re not afraid to try.”

    The ghost appeared in full form and startled both Maureen and Brian with her comeliness. She hugged both but her arms slipped through Brian and Maureen’s body.

    She shook her head sideways and real tears flowed. “I can‘t ask you. It may be impossible.”

    “Please tell us,” Maureen pleaded.

    “I know the only way would be to avenge my Father’s death and kill the chieftain.”

    Looks of frustration covered Brian’s face,

    “Travel 400 years back in time and slay someone who died centuries ago? Can you take us back?”

    “Perhaps,” Sabena said. “you do realize that if we manage to go back in time and the chieftain realizes who you are and who you represent, he will kill you instantly. We must have a plan on how to surprise him.

    “Sounds awful complicated,” Maureen said.

    “Oh, but it is and we have to be sure the sword of my Father, travels with us.”

    “If the chieftain’s not alone, I won’t be able to fight all of them,” Brian stated.

    “I’ll go with you,” Maureen said. “I know how to fight a battle.”

    “Seventeenth century weapons, remember,” Sabena said.

    “I know, my Father taught me how to throw Irish Darts.”

    “Maureen,” Brian said, “it’s far too dangerous.”

    “’Where ever thou goest, I go.’ Don’t argue with me.”

    “And I’ll be armed with darts also,” Sabena stated. “Since I’m stuck between heaven and hell, I have certain privileges. I shall contact the gate keeper about time travel. Meet here tomorrow as the sun dips to the lake.”

    [Conclusion to follow]

    .
    .

    1. Observer Tim

      Yay, time-traveling ghost story. You got me, Kerry! Ufortunately, part Five is going to have to wait for tomorrow morning because I’m totally wasted right now. But I’ve definitely got a reason to wake up now. 🙂

  26. bfarlow

    The sword hung above me, point embedded in the ceiling, cracked plaster radiating out away from it. I was reminded of Damocles although I was not surrounded by luxury. The sparsely furnished apartment was dimly lit by a single incandescent light bulb hanging from its socket only inches from the weapon; the proximity casting a rather large shadow on the only door to the room. Only a thread worn sofa bed and dust covered dresser, opposite a small, bare, four-paned window, accompanied me. Absentmindedly, I wiped the dirt from the holes that I had been digging, off on my trousers. The three peach trees I was trying to plant in the backyard would have to wait.

    Lightning flashed again, briefly casting a deep shadow of the sword and me on the wall behind the sofa. I don’t know why, but I took that moment to reach up and grab the hilt and pull. A few flakes of broken plaster fell from the ceiling. The sword didn’t move. I reached up with my other hand and grabbed the hilt with both. I pulled harder.

    A shower of broken plaster rained down upon me as the weapon slid free of the wood above. The weight of the blade tipped it forward and I only stopped its momentum inches from the tip hitting the floor. I brought the blade up before my eyes and looked at my reflection in the polished metal. The low roll of distant thunder sounded.

    “The Champion is chosen,” a deep voice boomed, filling the room. I looked around for the source, but I was alone. Perplexed I looked back to the sword for answers, but then the word’s insinuation came to me.

    “Wait, what,” I asked looking around the room, again. There was no response.

    The solitary door crashed inward, hinges breaking free from the wooden frame and flying across the room, one barely missing my arm. Lightning flashed silhouetting a small figure standing in the wreckage of the frame. It took a step into the room. The dim light of the bulb above me showed what looked to be a short man with red shaggy hair that merged with his thick beard and mustache. Hanging from a belt was a large half-moon bladed axe the likes of which I had never seen.

    My arms, feeling weak now, fell to my side. The sword clattered to the floor beside me as my hand went limp. My knees started to buckle, but I was somehow able to keep standing. Then the thing spoke in a deep rumbling voice; how, I have no idea as I could not see a mouth through the thicket of red hair.

    “Pick up yer sword! Are ye daft?”

    My mind raced trying to make a rational connection to the visual and auditory stimulation my senses were reporting to it. I sputtered trying to form words in the cognitive void.

    “What?” I was finally able to get out, staring dumbfounded at the creature.

    “I said, ‘pick up yer sword.’ We have to go, warrior. There be dragons to slay.” It replied.

    Distant thunder rumbled as my primal mind, without input from me, decided on a course of action. My knees gave out. The room started to go black. I could faintly here myself speak, as if from a distance, as I fell to the floor, my consciousness fading.

    “But, I’m an accountant.”

    1. Observer Tim

      And then he wakes up tied over the saddle of a skinny and decrepit mule in the godforsaken wasteland around the dragon’s lair. That’s the problem with fainting in front of homicidal lunatics who’ve drafted you for an insane quest. They won’t take “I’m an accountant” for an answer. Nice job straddling the line between high fantasy and low comedy, bfarlow. 🙂

  27. UnclePizza

    This is a continuation of my post from Surprise on the Doorstep – the old woman sin eater and the lizard scene that Kerry enjoyed so much 😉 If we we title that one NIGHT, then this is:

    MORNING

    The old woman slept for only the first hour after returning to bed. The remaining hours were spent in the not-sleep that came with consuming the blood of the lizard, and with it the sins of another. She had long ago learned not to open her eyes until she was certain that the sweat-visions had stopped, and that what she saw and felt was really of the earthen world. Seeing nothing now but darkness behind her closed eyes, she knew that it was time to finish her work. Rising from her bed of soft hides, the woman was surprised to find that it was mid-morning – recovering did not typically take so long.

    Despite her bladder being more full than it had ever been, the woman held her urge in check while she used a deer scapula to gather the ashes from her stove. She placed the cool ashes into a deeply charred clay pot, setting the melted gold hinges next to the coins on the rough wooden shelf. Next, she used a wooden pestle to grind the ashes, making sure that the lizard’s bones and scales were completely crushed.

    The woman slowly scanned her shelves as she worked, waiting quietly for the ashes to tell her what they wanted. Soon she was adding some dried cactus flowers, some rattlesnake scat, and the crystalized contents of a jackrabbit’s gall bladder to the pot.

    Once the mixture was ground to a fine dust, she carrier the pot to the yard behind her dwelling and set it on the hard, bare ground. Finally, with a long sigh, she emptied her painfully full bladder into the pot.

    Relieved now, she efficiently worked the liquid sins into the ash with her fingers. As she did so, she noticed a few small animals and birds watching from the brush at the edge of her yard. The animals watched as the woman slowly walked back into her dwelling, where once inside, she took the short sword from its place in the rafters that held the thatch ceiling in place. The mystics had given it to her when they banished her to the wilds so that she might protect herself. After all, they needed her as much as they shunned her. While she never found the need to actually use the sword as a weapon, it was her only metal tool and she found it useful at times.

    There were more animals at the edge of the yard when the woman returned, and even more approached as she used the sword to dig a hole in the hard earth. As she dug, she scooped handfuls of earth into the pot and stirred the clay-rich soil into the warm, ashy gruel. There were many similar holes in the yard, some large and some small, and more animals came into the stony yard as the woman worked, each finding a hole to sit in. Yes dears, thought the woman, return to your birthing places while you watch your new brother take form.

    The woman kept adding earth to the pot, kneading the mixture until it was firm enough to mold. Since she had started with so much liquid, this was the biggest lump she had molded yet. She worked the now-stiff clay with firm, practiced hands, and used small, sharp bones to etch the features onto her creation, taking great care since this would be the first time that she had made a creature such as this one. She had made many mice, snakes, birds, rabbits, and even a few coyote over the years, but this was the first time that she had so much clay to work with. This time she would make a human.

    1. UnclePizza

      AFTERNOON

      Once she finished molding the clay infant, the woman undressed and stood over it while facing south. She tilted her face to the sky, eyes closed and arms outstretched, holding a sharp flint dagger in her hand as the hot desert sun warmed her scarred body. She spoke a few words in a language that not even she understood, and with a swift flick of the dagger she cut a short gash into her right breast. As the blood flowed, she knelt over the clay infant, leaning over its face as she let the crimson drops run off of her nipple and onto its pursed lips.

      At first the blood simply pooled on the clay lips, but soon it started soaking into the small human form. As the last drops of living fluid fell from the woman’s breast, she thought that she could see the clay form begin to move. Yes, there now, the slight rise and fall of the chest. The creatures watching from their holes in the yard lifted their heads in surprise as an alien sound suddenly pierced the still air of the remote wilderness: the squall of a newborn human infant.

      The animals all scattered at the sound except for one coyote, who was held fast in the woman’s gaze. He was a male, but she knew that he had recently sired pups. Without words, the woman commanded the coyote that the infant was to be taken to his mate. The large carnivore approached slowly and was about to take the infant by the nape of the neck when the woman stopped him. You will harm this infant if you carry him, she told the coyote. I will carry him to your den. You lead.

      The coyote paused, unsure of whether his mate would allow the woman to approach her den, for she was not of the woman’s making as he was. But the woman’s gaze was not to be refused, so the coyote led her to the den. To his surprise, his mate was docile around the woman, and let her approach with the crying infant. She remained docile even as the woman reached into the den and placed the human infant amongst the coyote cubs. The crying stopped as the infant found a teat and began to suckle along with his new brothers and sisters.

      The woman gazed at the coyotes until she was certain that they understood that the infant was to be protected, not harmed. Once she was confident that her newest creature was safe, she began walking slowly toward her home. It was time for her to eat and rest, for it had been a long day and she was tired.

      1. jhowe

        This story is full of richness that is so interesting and so mesmerizing. I like how the woman works, so methodically and slowly. I missed part one in the other prompt, but I didn’t need it because you wrote this so well. I will, however, go back and catch it. Great job so far.

      2. Observer Tim

        This reads like a combination Greek slash North American Aboriginal myth. You painted in a lot of vivid (and visceral) imagery and gave a wonderful sense of both antiquity and a connection to the natural world. Now I’m going to have to go look up the first part… 🙂

      3. ReathaThomasOakley

        UP, I seem to have neglected leaving a comment on these wonderful stories. We are still traveling, so my time is hit and miss. You have created a memorable character with your sin eater and I look forward to more about the boy.

    2. Kerry Charlton

      Hello Uncle,
      Oh boy! This is just getting better. Still, it’s a happy accident that I read this before I ate again. I need to lose a littlw weight anyway. Your description of the scene as she’s stirring the pot is downfight eerie and prodeced a painting of her in my mind as she kneeds the gruel. Did you have any kind of human in mind, perhaps Ted Cruz? [Sorry, I couldn’t help the last line! The devil made me do it!]

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Okay, the above comment was for ‘Morning’
        Now this one is for afternoon. An epic continuation you’ve weitten. Now I know it’s definately Ted Cruz!

          1. Kerry Charlton

            I’m looking forward to a continuation, don’t disappoint. Is that enough pressure? Or do you want more?

  28. oneand5

    My brain is numb as I get out of the car; twelve hours on an assembly line will do that to you. All I can think of is getting into a warm bath and soaking my aching legs. I shuffle to the front door. It is wide open. “Susan,” I hiss. With as much as I pay her to walk the dog, you’d think she would be able to follow simple directions: shut the door and turn off the lights.
    “Cinnamon,” I call and wait for the little ball of fur to come flying at me. But there is only silence. “If I have to pay another pound fee…,” I mutter. Then I see it. Hanging over the dining room table, right where a light would be in a nicer home, is a sword. The metal glows red and sinister in the fading daylight. I reach over and tug it down. My fingers close over the worn leather, finding the grooves they have worn into it over years of practice. For a minute I allow myself to enjoy the way it feels. I am like an amputee who dreams his legs are back. I slash the sword, falling easily into familiar stances. My senses sharpen and I see a gopher dart across the backyard. I hear his family chattering to him. Then the nightmares start. The screaming and crying. The bloody and dying. I throw the sword and it clatters on the floor. I can’t go back.
    I run upstairs and start throwing armfuls of clothes into a suitcase. My mind is no longer numb; instead, it is racing through thoughts so fast I can’t process them fully. I only know I have to run and I have to run now. Poor Cinnamon will have to fend for herself. I spare a passing thought to hope someone nice finds her; she was my one comfort while I hid.
    I grab the suitcase and run down the stairs, right into Olaf. I go sprawling; he doesn’t move.
    “I see you haf got our message and are ready to come back wif us,” he says picking up my suitcase in one hand and helping me up with the other. “Now there is jus’ one more fing,” he threatens.
    “I don’t know what you are talking about,” I try to say bravely, but it is hard when only my toes are touching the ground. It comes out so pathetically that even Olaf knows I am lying. He gives me a shake.
    “Tell me where she is,” Olaf rumbles.
    “Okay, Okay,” I whimper, a plan forming.
    Olaf sets me down and brushes off my shirt like we are old friends. “You stink,” he observes.
    “You try working all day,” I mutter as I step back. Olaf moves to stand between me and the only exit. There is only one thing to do.
    “You will never find her,” I say as I pick up my sword and fall on it.

    1. Observer Tim

      Now that’s a downer. You did a great job painting the inner pain of the MC and his sense of fear and hopelessness. The only thing that kind of dragged on me was falling on the sword; it might read stronger if the MC committed “suicide by opponent”, i.e. fought so badly that Olaf couldn’t help but kill him. In any case, this is a bleak story but an enjoyable read. 🙂

  29. Witt.Stanton

    “Rinchen,” I called, my voice wavering as I caught sight of a katana sword lodged in the stone ceiling. Dripping from its blade, blood soaked the leather hilt and pattered silently against the floor. “Where are you? Are you hurt?”

    I crept through the hall, clinging to the shadows. Relief flooded through me when I saw Rinchen. He stood alone in the untamed grass surrounding the back of the monastery. As I ran out, my brother turned to face me. The wind from the valley tugged at his sun-bleached robes, revealing a bloody gash dripping down his chest.

    I caught him before he tumbled to the ground. He gripped my arm and pulled me close. “They were looking for you,” Rinchen said through clenched teeth, “but I told them nothing.” His face was pale, tears running down his hollow cheeks and rolling into the dirt.

    “Why did they want me? Tell me, why did they hurt you?” The sun beat down onto my robed back and into the dry ground. Sweat dripped down my forehead, mingling with the blood and tears. As I cradled him in my arms, I felt his final breath leave his chest.

    I buried three of my brothers that day. Palden lay inside the monastery, a streak of blood trailing on the wall above him. I crouched on the gravelly floor next to his body, closing his brown eyes and carrying him to rest beside our mentor.

    I found our youngest brother on his cot, the twin katana stuck deep inside his back. At the sight, I broke down and wept. I removed the sword as gently as I could. His small body was the heaviest to carry.

    Under the glare of the sun, I buried the bodies of my brothers in the barren field behind the monastery. I offered up a final prayer for them, the words tasting dry in my mouth.

    I let my gaze wander across the valley and up the towering mountains for the last time. My eyes shadowed with pain, I left the three unmarked graves with my hands clenched around the katanas and the word revenge on my lips.

    1. UnclePizza

      Your closing line reminded me of the phrase “revenge is a dish best served cold”. I can even imagine your MC thinking that very thought.

      BTW, I concur with the other comments re: “His small body was the heaviest to carry.” That’s a classic line alright.

    2. Observer Tim

      This could very easily be the start of a samurai-turned-ronin revenge epic. The whole piece drips with poetic imagery like a shogunate-era woodcut. I’ll also chime in about the small body. All in all it’s an excellent bit o’work. 🙂

  30. dustymayjane

    An attempt at Medieval. FYI – I know nothing of the legends, but a good exercise anyway.
    __________________________________________________________________________________
    The gallant Sir Lancelot and his powerful steed trotted across the lowered drawbridge. The animal and its rider’s full armor brought an immense weight upon the thick, heavy wood and a raucous sound of metal on metal and powerful hoof beats ricocheted against the stone walls of the castle. The knight and his large black stallion returned victorious from their day’s quest, followed by a boisterous army of armor clad soldiers. Each horse anxious to shed its armor and be left to enjoy a fresh bed of straw. Each man ready to celebrate with a hearty feast, kegs of wine and plenty of warm and willing women.

    They hollered for their wenches only to be denied the customary greetings. It became apparent that the women of the castle have vanished. Sir Lancelot tried mightily to calm his soldiers, indicating that something was amiss and their women were likely in grave danger.

    Entering the castle, they saw the candles in the chandeliers were still lit and the expected buffet of pig roasts, turkeys and every available fruit in the kingdom laid out. Pitchers and goblets of wine were arranged, ready to be enjoyed.

    “What happened here?” Sir Lancelot shouted, his arrogance expecting someone to appear and inform him thusly.

    The only response to be heard was that of a loud thwack as a sword was thrown across the room and stuck in a large beam overhead. They gaped at the sword and the horseman that galloped away in haste. The weary army waited for Sir Lancelot’s orders.

    Lancelot pulled the sword from the beam. “This is the sword of Gawain.”

    “Percival, Galahad! Follow me. We’ll search the grounds. They can’t have gotten far.”

    When the threesome arrived on the south side of the castle several deep holes were visible.

    Percival was the first to react to the scene. “They’ve stolen our gold!”

    “And our women!” Added Galahad.

    Sir Lancelot rose his own sword high and shouted to his army. “Gather your weapons men. We shall avenge our women and return our gold to the land!”

    By nightfall the army of Sir Lancelot came upon the army of Gawain. A battle ensued and much blood was shed, leaving Gawain’s traitorous army for dead.

    The triumphant army of Sir Lancelot and the women they rescued returned to the castle and buried their gold once again. The feast was enjoyed and they each drank their fill of wine. The women showed their appreciation and all lived to quest another day.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Very fine, Dusty. I appeeciated the detaileed description of Lancelot and his brave knights coming home. Gawain was never a good sort. We knew Sir Galahad would be furious about the women been kidnapped, more so than the gold. Good job here.

    2. Observer Tim

      I quite enjoyed this, DustyMayJane, though I must admit the names kind of threw me a bit (because I do know some of the mythology). That said, once I convinced myself that the characters were not those of Arthurian legend but namesakes, you told an engaging and very enjoyable story. 🙂

  31. jhowe

    Sequoia Pole Dancer walked among her people with downcast eyes. If the tribal women were not scorning her, the bravest of the braves snickered to themselves and stole furtive glances whenever their wives were out of view. The chief was aware of Sequoia’s troubles and often had to intervene on her behalf. On that Particular day, Sequoia approached the chief and requested council.

    “You will do nothing, Bravebone,” the chief’s wife said.

    “But Swift Creek, there is a tomahawk protruding from the ceiling of her teepee.”

    A derisive snort followed. “Then have the mystic one tend to the matter. He is more than capable of dispelling of this farce.”

    “Farce? Are you saying my motives are less than honorable?”

    Swift Creek said nothing, but her eyes bore deeply into the chief and cut like a raw shard of flint.

    The mystic one stared at the tomahawk and nodded. He had yet to encounter such a thing.

    “Do you think it is a sign?” said Sequoia Pole Dancer.

    “It is said: if it smells of foulness, do not step in it.”

    “What?” the fair one said.

    “Do not question my wisdom.”

    “But what shall I do?”

    “I will consult with the chief and a decision will be made.”

    The chief and the mystic one shared a stalk of burning milk weed. With glassy eyes, the chief said, “Can you make it fall on my wife?”

    “I can try.”

    Swift Creek left the teepee with a tomahawk in her hand. The chief and the mystic one looked at each other.

    “You were correct,” she said. “There was a tomahawk protruding from the ceiling. And then it fell and almost hit me. Sequoia Pole Dancer caught it and saved my life.”

    “That is… well, that is wonderful.” The chief looked bewildered. The mystic one looked at the sky.

    “Yes, it is wonderful,” Swift Creek said. “And I must say, the woman accepts gratitude very eagerly.” The chief stood with open mouth as his wife walked away, humming.

    1. jhowe

      This was my second attempt at posting. The first one didn’t make it. I didn’t really expect this one to make it either, but here it is. I’m convinced there is a profanity filter or something that is causing people to have trouble posting. My first story contained the ‘s’ word and another word that wasn’t terrible, but it may have set off the filter. There may or may not be a filter, but if there is, we should be told so we write appropriately.

    2. Kerry Charlton

      John, I almost split my britches on this one. First of all the name, Sequoia Pole Dancer, then “It is said, if it smells of foulness, do not step in it.” You’re up to your usual tricks. I think you used Sequoia Pole Dancer in another story. Then ” The mystic one looked at the sky.” So many good lines

    3. Observer Tim

      The political correctness fairy will come after you for this one, JHowe. I absolutely loved the way you painted the setting and told the story with good humour and without apology. The names really did it for me. I also loved the way that the story, while told with a light heart and tongue planted in cheek, still carried a lovely message. 🙂

  32. Kerry Charlton

    THE SWORD IN THE CEILING

    A NEW BEGINNING
    PART THREE

    THE GHOST OF ROSS CASTLE,
    SABENA

    Brian and Maureen’s little carriage with the Irish Cobb horse pulled up to the barn at Stone House. No one had touched the reins the last twenty minutes but the tiny horse knew his way home. Maureen stabled her with fresh hay and water and left the barn,

    “I‘m all yours now,” she said as Brian swept her in his arms and up the stairs to his room. A magic aura circled the two as they entwined their souls in happiness. As dawn arrived through the float glass window, Brian slipped down stairs for coffee for his love. Steaming hot with just the right amount of cream and sugar, he presented it to her.

    “No one has ever brought me coffee at dawn,” she said as she snuggled closer.

    “Are you ready to here the tragic tale of Sabena, the ghost of Ross Castle?”

    “Yes, unless you‘d rather…………….”

    “I’d love to but I’m not sure my heart would hold out.”

    “Okay, let‘s here the story.”

    “Sabena was the beautiful daughter of an English Lord nicknamed ’The Black Baron’, as cruel a man as walked the earth. He kept a tight rein on his daughter but she managed to sneak out and visit the village. There she met Orwin, the son of the chieftain of the O’Reilly clan.”

    “Did they fall in love?’

    “Yes, who’s telling this tale?“

    “Go on love, I’m fascinated.”

    “Well, they knew love was impossible and one night they took a small boat to the lake to escape. A severe storm capsized the boat and Orwin drowned. Sabena’s Father had been told of the escape and his men were able to save his daughter’s life.

    “How sad for her, no wonder she weeps.”

    “Legend says she walks the corridors every night looking for her lost love.’

    “Maureen, take me back tonight. Since I look like her ancestor, maybe we can help her.”

    “Are you serious? Sabena has scared people half to death with her chasing through the castle’s corridors, moaning and crying her heart out.”

    “But for 250 years?”

    She paused a moment and placed a tender kiss on him,

    “You know, you have a caring heart and I will take you there. But remember, Sabena’s not an ordinary ghost.”

    “Oh, the two of us can handle her.” .

    “I’m not so sure Brian.”

    This time they took Maureen’s Range Rover and approached Ross Castle at the last,dying rays of light. She had managed a set of keys from the mayor stating that Brian needed to investigate the castle.

    As their car drew closer, an ominous spell fell over the two of them. Overnight the front end of the castle that faced land, had been dug out to the depth of twelve feet deep and thirty feet across, typical ancient measurements of a castle moat.

    “I told you.” Maureen said, “she’s up to her tricks again.”

    “I’m not afraid of any ghost. Come on, we can walk the rocks by the shore line and enter the castle that way.”

    After gingerly scaling the shoreline boulders, they walked around the front and unlocked the servant’s door and entered. The light was dim at this entrance, the ceiling low and as Brian’s eyes became accustomed to the failing light, he looked up in awe. Protruding from the stone and mortar ceiling, a sixteenth century, two handed battle sword lay embedded halfway to the hilt into the stone.

    ‘Don’t touch it Brian, I sense evil here.”

    [To be continued]

    .

  33. Bushkill

    The Sword in the Ceiling (with a nod to C. Palahniuk’s and a character from Fight Club)

    There were men, mostly, in clean white coats. They were taking me away. I told them about Tyler Durden.

    Didn’t matter.

    And it clearly didn’t help.

    “I’m a respected member of the community!” I was loud. Possibly screaming.

    “Yes you are, sir. Close personal friend of Merlin himself, I’m sure.”

    His accomplices snickered at that.

    “What? Merlin … No. You misunderstand.” How did it get so confused? And why mention the cat? “I was digging in the garden, moving rocks out of the way and such, so that my flowers could grow and …”

    “Moving a few rocks? Sir, you took the top of your neighbor’s chimney, portions of the stonework from the town’s fountain, and have removed several feet of the sidewalk in front of your house. Mind you, that’s the best mock-up of Stonehenge I’ve ever seen, but you can’t be doing those things.”

    He was pointing to my shed as he spoke, one hand on my shoulder, gently guiding me around the holes in the yard as we moved toward the windowless van in which they’d arrived.

    “Wait. The doors open on the shed. I didn’t put all my tools away. I think I left the rake in the living room.”

    “The rake? In the living room you say?” He was now pointing to an object wrapped in a plastic bag. It was tagged and the bag was labeled, only it didn’t look like a rake. The way the light hit it, it might have been a hoe. He was continuing, “We took the ‘rake’ out of your ceiling. Any notion on how it got there?”

    “No. Not really. That’s not where I usually put it.” The air was thick with the day’s humidity and I was sweating a ton. That was strange too, the fall colors of the trees indicated a cooler season. And everyone else had coats on.

    Shiny white ones.

    “There had been another person with me.” I stated. “Arthur? Yes, Arthur, and he and I quarreled. I thought he was going to hit me with the rake. He was quite upset.” There had been someone else and they had tried to take the rake away. It had been vexing.

    “Hey Carl, Thanks for givin’ us a call. You were absolutely right. Next time, though, call first. No need to go putting yourself in harm’s way like that.”

    The man nodded, but it was Arthur, not Carl, and he was stuffing envelopes back into his satchel. He was going to leave in his truck in just a moment.

    “Arthur?”

    “His name is Carl. He’s been bringing your mail for a decade at least. And let me tell you, we are going to talk to him about the types of things you’ve been getting. Now, duck low. Let me help you with that.”

    They were kind enough, getting me into their van. They put the coat they gave me on backwards so I wasn’t able to help them much. Maybe that’s why I was sweating.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Gad what a nightmare of insanity. The loony’s over the top here. What’s so chilling about this? It isn’t funny, well maby a liitle bit but this stuff actually happens, more than we know. It’s so real it bites, you hit the experience on the nose, Bushkill

      1. Bushkill

        The situation isn’t funny, no. Dementia is real and it robs of us of ourselves. In large part without us even knowing. Far more terrifying when we do. I tried to lighten it with the Durden reference, and the white coats a la Monty Python. The talking head for the medical staff is vaguely reminiscent of the desk cop in Big Hero 6. Also tried to keep it fractured and disjointed. I’ve seen a few mentally ill patients and worked with students that have trouble. I’ve noticed that their thought patterns are often not very continuous.

        Thanks for your comment.

    2. jhowe

      Very clever. The Stonehenge creator was believable and likeable. I liked how the authorities were gentle with him and didn’t say anything to upset him.

    3. ReathaThomasOakley

      Very creative take on the prompt. Your MC’s world is very real to him, probably better than any reality. Liked the cat reference.

    4. Observer Tim

      This is a lovely two-level story, Bushkill. There is always a great tragedy in the expression of mental illness, but out of that tragedy comes high comedy of the darkest sort. You managed to capture both of them admirably. I wish I’d written this. 🙂

  34. thejim

    I walked into my house, the door wide open, and a damn sword was stuck the ceiling; I could see the back yard, it had a crap-load of holes in it, again. This was the last time I am going to let my roommate bring his crazy gofer friends over. The last party they had the gofers brought over some woodchuck prostitutes, they chewed off the legs to the table, who know what they did with them. This GSCA group gets way out of hand. That is Gofers Society for Creative Anachronism. Sure they’re fun and all, but when they have had too much to drink the place goes to hell. I am sick of it!

    I grab the sword from the ceiling and marched down the hall, I whipped open his door, and my roommate was covered in gofers, they all looked up at me like I was crazy. I took the sword and started chopping at the gofers, they charged me. I swatted them across the room. One grabbed my pant leg and took a bite. The sword came to life, gofer guts flew all around the room. I began to hack at anything that came close. After I had finished, I stepped back, fur and blood were everywhere. I dropped the sword and left the room.

    I am happy to say that I have put all that weirdness behind me and I no longer live with Kevin. I now have a fantastic relationship with a lama, and outside of the spitting, it is a glorious adventure.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Whow, you way past left field in this story. First of all, the woodchuck pros chewing table legs. and then the gofer orgy with your roommate. Sucjh insanity. A relationship with a lama and the spit. You’re in jhowe’s neighborhood with this.

    2. Observer Tim

      I don’t know if it was totally intentional, theJim, but the spellings helped make it for me. My mind got caught in a quantum state between gofer (the job) and gopher (the animal), and then again between lama (the priest) and llama (the animal). It made the whole surreal tale somehow doubly so. Very nice! 🙂

  35. thejim

    I walked into my house, the door wide open, and a damn sword was stuck the ceiling; I could see the back yard, it had a crap-load of holes in it, again. This was the last time I am going to let my roommate bring his crazy gofer friends over. The last party they had the gofers brought over some woodchuck prostitutes, they chewed off the legs to the table, who know what they did with them. This GSCA group gets way out of hand. That is Gofers Society for Creative Anachronism. Sure they’re fun and all, but when they have had too much to drink the place goes to shit. I am sick of it!

    I grab the sword from the ceiling and marched down the hall, I whipped open his door, and my roommate was covered in gofers, they all looked up at me like I was crazy. I took the sword and started chopping at the gofers, they charged me. I swatted them across the room. One grabbed my pant leg and took a bite. The sword came to life, gofer guts flew all around the room. I began to hack at anything that came close. After I had finished, I stepped back, fur and blood were everywhere. I dropped the sword and left the room.

    I am happy to say that I have put all that weirdness behind me and I no longer live with Kevin. I now have a fantastic relationship with a lama, and outside of the spitting, it is a glorious adventure.

  36. Pete

    Part I

    I’m a hard working guy. Two jobs, six kids, a truck that needs tires and a roof that leaks with all this sideways rain we’ve been having.

    I’ll tell you a story, an if you don’t believe me, fine. That’s your right. I got enough on my plate than to worry with you and your beliefs. Actually, I got nothing on my plate, as my wife’s not inclined to cooking dinner.

    Where was I? Oh, right, I punch out at the recycling center. This on a day that’s hotter than a wool sock in August, so I’m dragging, knowing I gotta go drive a cab around in less than four hours.

    When I said I had six kids I meant kids, as in run off at the mouth and tear up any and everything, but I also got two babies at home too—the main reason Rhonda looks at me like you would look at mold on cheese. But walking up, the door’s wide open like union strike on the thru-way toll so I rush in, and find Rhonda on the couch, a twin on each tit and a chainsaw snore buzzing from her nose.

    All the lights are on, and I go to ask her just what in the Sam Walton was going on when I find General Jubal Early’s sword—that I’d just traded my ’68 Camero for—stuck in the ceiling. Plaster all over the place, I climb up on the coffee table—an old fruit crate that I used to keep records in until the boys discovered rap music and started “scratching” on the floor model. (You can’t have anything at all with eight kids, really, not even a clothes hanger in my closet—they used that to break into my truck so that they could take my fishing pole).

    Anyways, I yank at the sword but it won’t budge. By now I’m spitting plaster and spitting mad. Leads me to think it was Buck who got it up there in the first place, being that he’s the size of a Prius.
    They’d smeared up the ivory handle with something sticky. I’ve about had it with the whole herd.

    “Bo! Bryar! Buck! Delmont! Dale! Boy!”

    I didn’t name the youngest “Boy” on account of laziness but rather the dog down the street by the same handle. See, I can’t yell “Duke” because then that half-rabid flea hound liable to come scooting up here and make even more a mess of things. Boy works just fine anyhow.
    I ask Rhonda where the boys are but she’s too busy trying to will with her eyes that heavy sword out of the ceiling and onto my head.

    “Easy now Darla, Jen Bob.” I set the twins back on Rhonda’s saggy boobs and head out back through the kitchen to dole out a whipping on them boys. What I find stops me at the doorway.

    Duke-the-boy-not-the-dog. Matter of fact all of them out there, digging like demons in the backyard. Cannonball craters, it looks like Antietam out there, and when they start hopping up and down, all sorts of excited. Saying they found an old burial ground.

    I take a look in one of them holes. And it sure as hell does look like a coffin. The boys all huddle behind me, because they’re a whole lot better at making a mess then they are fixing one. I take the shovel, slimy and stick as the General’s sword, about to dig out the lid so that we can have a peek when a shriek comes from in the house.

    1. Pete

      Part II

      We rush in, the seven of us, and I can already hear Duke-the-dog making his way up the street. At the door we come crashing to a stop at the door like a train wreck, and I drop the shovel.

      General Jubal—in the rot—standing in my living room. He’s short, and stark naked, eyeballs like goo, hanging out of his sockets as he goes on, grumbling about mounting an attack. He rips off a glove and works on his eyes, stuffs them back in and turns to me and the boys, asks if we’re coming.
      “Coming where?” I manage.

      More gibberish. He’s up on the crate now, fighting with the sword like a drunken fool. I inform him that the relic was no longer his sword but mine, as I’d found it on Craigslist and made a square trade. He spits and I roll up my sleeves. Tell him that if he’s got issue with that he get his pasty ass back on that mule out front.

      General Early doesn’t take too kindly to my words. But with those jiggling eyeballs he can only manage to walk circles and General or no General I’m about to send him packing. Rhonda covers the baby’s eyes. I give him one more chance, tell the general to leave. He’s indecent.

      He steps down from the crate, tells me I’m of no use to the cause.

      And that’s when Boy slides past me and up on that crate. He jumps a few times to get the handle of the sword. Wobbly General Early looking on the best he can as my boy, Duke, gets ahold of his sword and rips it out of the ceiling.

      Well, no sooner than that sword comes out than the General is gone, as in vanished. You may not believe it but we all saw it happen. Later we come to find out that we’re sitting on an old Confederate cemetery and then word gets around and folks come from all over to see the General, who’s a bit gun shy when it comes to the public.

      No matter, I start charging at the door. That sword is like a switch. Calling a whole host of Rebels from the grave whenever we take it out. I make enough money from it to stop driving the cabs around. Dress them boys up nice and tell call them tour guides. But you think Rhonda’s happy. She says it gives her the creeps. That woman I swear, can’t win for nothing.

      1. jhowe

        This was entertaining as all get out. I knew a southern guy that used to say that a lot. The story-telling method worked well for this. It was full of great little tidbits. Good job.

        1. Kerry Charlton

          Sounds like Alabama accent to me. Quite an amusing tale, I loved the whole story, especially the description of the general. Do you think the redneck channel would be interested in making a ‘for TV movie’?

      2. Observer Tim

        I really love the tone and style of this, Pete; you managed to exactly capture the kind of stories one of my uncles used to tell, especially while his kids were screaming “Get to the point, Dad!” It went way long, but it had to so the atmosphere remained perfect. Nice job! 🙂

  37. ReathaThomasOakley

    Writers Block

    (This is what I was trying to post for last prompt. Thinking one word might have stopped it.)

    “Iceland? Why Iceland?” I asked calmly in my best teacher voice as I resisted the urge to hurl the phone through the window. For my sins, I thought for the thousandth time, for my sins.

    “I’ve been reading about Iceland,” Oh, Lord, Marva’d been reading again, “lots of weird fairy tales and stuff, and they wear fur, beautiful fur, besides, we haven’t done Iceland.”

    “We, Marva? We?” I gripped the phone more tightly. “Dear, please remember who actually writes and who fronts. And, about fur, remember what happened the last time you wore fur.”

    “But, in Ireland, fur’s okay.”

    As she droned on about fables and fur, I thought back to when Marva entered my life, when I thought I’d found the perfect way to make my dream of becoming a best selling author come true.

    There I was, recently retired English teacher, supplementing my pension with You Too Can Write, an Adult Education offering. The previous six-week sessions had been fairly predictable, realtors wanting to spice up their listings, folks even older than I who thought their boring lives were worthy of publication, stay-at-home moms starting parenting blogs, so I assumed this session would hold no surprises. I hadn’t expected Marva, good looking, well dressed, divorced, stupid.

    For several years, after surreptitiously ordering Fifty Shades of Grey, I’d been writing my own soft p##n, books based on obscure myths, but didn’t know what to do with them. What publisher would consider something from a widowed mother and grandmother who looked just like who she was. Then I’d had an idea, I would find someone, an attractive, younger woman to be my public face.

    Marva shared a lot in student introductions, including “I’m taking this class because my Facebook friends say I write the cutest stories.” Later, when she said, “Why are cliches so bad, I mean, everybody uses them,” I knew I had who I needed.

    Now, three best sellers later, I’d foolishly mentioned writers block, and Marva’d remembered. Apparently she missed launch parties, People magazine reviews and book signings, when I stood at her side, the faithful assistant.

    I did give her credit for never breaking character in public, for maintaining a shy, almost embarrassed facade, for claiming a wild fantasy life that she was too conservative to act on, for being rather like me if we were honest. But, in private, Marva could make me nuts. I had to do something.

    “Marva,” I finally interrupted, “Google Iceland again, winters and
    volcanoes, yes, volcanoes.” I hoped her silence meant she was thinking.

    “But, dear, you have given me a great idea. Let’s consider Ireland,” I said, remembering a lovely bed and breakfast on the Love After Sixty website, a B&B with a hunky seventyish owner who just might be able to move my writers block.

    “Marva, you start packing. I’ll make reservations and write some press releases. Think of the headlines, Best selling author headed to Ireland, new, even more provocative book expected.”

      1. chandra_wd_writer

        Glad it worked, Reatha. My bad, I almost meant to ask you to check for any of these words in your comment last week. But I was told in my previous posts that these words don’t matter. One of my stories did not post as it had s*xy in it. When I changed it, then it got posted. But I wasn’t sure if that did the trick.

        So there is definitely some wrong word filtering happening on a writing forum 🙁 Good to know for all of us. Thanks for posting.

        1. ReathaThomasOakley

          I suspect the filter has been changed. I’ve seen words more graphic than s#xy and p##n that made it through, perhaps someone complained.

    1. Observer Tim

      I’m glad you got this to post, Reatha; it’s saucy, irreverent, and above all delightful! Let’s hope the MC gets her writer’s block moved several feet. 🙂

      It is interesting to know that there is a form of profanity filter on the site, as well. I’ve never run afoul of it before, so it might be new.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I guess Geezers don’t write profanity but I have written love scenes that would scorch the web site and they always posted. Now, on to you. This is a fun piece of writing you’ve done. So I think I’ll go find some thirty year old guy that looks like a hunk and give him a name. Well, that isn’t going to work! How about a face lift, no, then I’d be shaving behing my ears. So I’ll keep reading you to try to discover some magical way to “break out”. How about a collaboration? Do you want to try one? I’m really serious. Last year, Reaper and I wrote two essays together. It was a lot of fun to do it. Think about it.

        1. ReathaThomasOakley

          Thanks, Kerry. I didn’t realize the word was profanity. Live and learn. “Shaving behind the ears” is very funny.

          I’d like to try a collaboration. However, this Saturday we hit the road for Wyoming after a longer than usual Florida stay, my new part had to be installed, so I will have limited wifi access during the day. So, you explain, and I’ll do my best.

      2. jhowe

        If there is a profanity filter, they should tell us so we write appropriately. I tried to post a story that contained the ‘s’ word that did not make it through. If I’d known, I would have changed it.

  38. cosi van tutte

    There’s a sword in my ceiling
    And potholes on the ground.
    There’s a fly in my Darjeeling
    And distress all around

    For Homeboy Chappy has come home.

    My best clothes are turned inside out.
    And my nylons have the runs.
    My favorite cat sits up high and pouts.
    And I’m all out of Tums.

    For Homeboy Chappy has come home.

    He didn’t come in the morning.
    Or the late afternoon.
    He didn’t come quietly.
    He came in howling at the moon.

    He says that he will not leave again.
    No, he says, he will no longer stray.
    For Homeboy Chappy has come home.
    And he intends to stay.

    And I wish he’d just go away.

    1. Observer Tim

      But the Chap came back, the very next day…

      I can almost feel the music this plays to, including the places where syllables get tortured to make them fit the tune. This is utterly lovely, Cosi! 🙂

        1. Kerry Charlton

          It doesn’t really matter, Cosi who he is, he reminds me of my uncle Earl. a poor wasted soul who never caught the spirit of live. How could he from the bottom of a bottle of Old Crow.

  39. ReathaThomasOakley

    Sword of Damocles
    1916
    (450 words)
    (End of early part of Girl saga)

    Horace struggled to remember the number of steps leading up to his front porch, he was fairly certain he’d mounted at least two, but had no idea how many more he needed to conquer.

    “What the hell,” he muttered as he leaned forward and grasped the edge of the next step to steady himself. “Paint,” he said as he held his now sticky hand to his nose, then rubbed it against his trouser leg.

    “Horace,” the voice came from above his head. “Didn’t I tell you to use the back way today and tomorrow, that the front of the house was being painted? If you didn’t spend every night off drinking in some saloon, you might remember, I you came home at a decent hour.”

    “Sue Ann,” he said as he realized it was his wife standing in the doorway. His wife, the woman he’d once wanted so badly nothing else mattered, now looming above him, so large she seemed to fill the space with her being, every electric lamp in the house burning behind her. “House all dark jest now, how’d it get so light?”

    “You fool,” Sue Ann hissed. “I have been sitting, waiting for you, sitting in the dark of our home, alone, while you…”

    “Ah, Sue…” Horace started.

    “I turned on the lights. Couldn’t help but hear that thing you call an automobile…”

    “It’s a Mercer, Sue Ann, fastest thing over to Daytona or Ormond…”

    “It’s not to drive around town, showing off, shaming me and your children.” She suddenly realized what he was doing. “Stop right there! Get yourself back down, do not tramp on more of my fresh paint. Get to the back where you belong!”

    As Horace tried to turn on the narrow step, he stumbled, tried to find something to hold on to, but fell to the ground. For a few stunned moments he savored his prone position and the fact that Sue Ann was silent. Then he realized his left leg was twisted under him, and there was a sharp pain like a knife and a feeling of wetness in the center of his chest. He tried to laugh as he remembered the bottle he’d planned to sneak into the house, the bottle that had broken when he fell.

    In his final moments Horace thought of all the things he’d once envied others for having, things he’d wanted and gotten, this house, Sue Ann, fast cars. Then his mind was filled with what he’d lost, Sarah, his daughter.

    He never heard Sue Ann run down the steps, unmindful of the paint, and give a great sob as she said his name, “Horace.”

    1. cosi van tutte

      Hi, Reatha!

      Yay! You finally got it to post.

      Poor Horace. I just can’t help feeling bad for him. 🙁 But, on the questionable bright side, at least he can’t be hassled by Sue Ann’s father anymore. Still… 🙁

    2. Observer Tim

      Poor Horace; he didn’t even get to die in peace. Nothing like getting grief from his wife while he’s undergoing heart failure (whether from blood loss or a separate condition). In many ways this is a fitting end to his life, considering how much of his misery was a result of his own lack of resolve. 🙂

      1. ReathaThomasOakley

        Thanks, Tim. This was a bit rushed, wasn’t certain it would post. I should have spent more time on Horace’s fall over the ten years since he abandoned his daughter, but when I saw the prompt I immediately thought of the sword of Damocles and what would have happened if the throne hadn’t been rejected. Horace stayed seated in 1906.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Very sudden quick, powerful. Poor Horace all of us say. Well, he’s gone now, probably, unless you bring him back to cause more pain and to be in more pain. A beautiful description of a lost person who never should have existed in the first place, a character who never received a clue how life should hsve been for him. A perfect Greek tragedy.

      1. ReathaThomasOakley

        Just stopped for the night, need to check for new prompt, hope Horace’s obit will fit. Then next appearance planned for 1970, end of story. Thanks for continuing interest.

  40. ThePelton

    The most I usually had to do at work guarding the quarry on the graveyard shift was to chase the idiots out who drove cross country motorcycles and small four wheelers away, so I just expected another morning of crawling into bed and sleeping as long as possible before the neighbors began screaming at the quarterback on their television as if Johnny Carpenter could hear them through the wires a thousand miles away. The pommel of the broadsword jammed in the ceiling was just about eye level, and the blood red garnet pommel-stone was difficult to miss. I hadn’t slept in seventeen hours, so I said, “Yeah sure right whatever,” ducked under it, and walked to my air mattress. Then I heard a tap on the bedroom window.
    Cliff, the apartment manager was standing at the window when I opened the blinds. “What have you been doing, Don?” He asked, and gestured to several holes in the lawn, the largest of which could hold a Volkswagen Beetle.

  41. thejim

    I walked into my house, the door wide open, and a damn sword was stuck the ceiling; I could see the back yard, it had a crap-load of holes in it, again. This was the last time I am going to let my roommate bring his crazy gofer friends over. The last party they had the gofers brought over some woodchuck prostitutes, they chewed off the legs to the table, who know what they did with them. This GSCA group gets way out of hand. That is Gofers Society for Creative Anachronism. Sure they’re fun and all, but when they have had too much to drink the place goes to shit. I am sick of it!

    I grab the sword from the ceiling and marched down the hall, I whipped open his door, and my roommate was covered in gofers, they all looked up at me like I was crazy. I took the sword and started chopping at the gofers, they charged me. I swatted them across the room. One grabbed my pant leg and took a bite. The sword came to life, gofer guts flew all around the room. I began to hack at anything that came close. After I had finished, I stepped back, fur and blood were everywhere. I dropped the sword and left the room.

    I am happy to say that I have put all that weirdness behind me and I no longer live with Kevin. I now have a fantastic relationship with a lama, and outside of the spitting, it is a glorious adventure.

    1. jhowe

      My shift at the campus bookstore weighs on my mind as I walk to my apartment. A hundred and fifteen dollars for an Anthropology 101 text book is difficult to justify, especially to some sluff trying for an easy semester; as if I’d pulled the price from my slightly fat ass.

      Inside, I start the coffee maker and soon the two bedroom unit fills with the delicious aroma of Folgers Extra Bold. My roommate stumbles into the kitchen, grizzled, bedheaded, wearing boxers and a dirty undershirt. His eyes, mere slits, scan the littered countertop for a cup – dirty or clean – finds one, pours, spills on the floor and uses his sock as a mop.

      “What’s with the sword, bitch?” he says, slurping his first sip.

      I follow his eyes upward and raise my eyebrows. “I don’t know,” I say. I stand on a chair and try to pull it from the ceiling. It won’t budge.

      “I think I missed calculus,” he says.

      “Seeing how it’s after three, I’d say yes, it’s likely you did.”

      “Shit, third time this week.”

      “Who do you think did this?” I say, pointing at the sword.

      “Probably the Alpha Deltas. They sent me a box of dog shit last year.” He scratches his armpit. “Some kind of new comer ritual or something.”

      “Why would they do this?”

      “You’d be surprised what these assholes are capable of. It’s like asking why a suicide bomber would blow himself up. It’s in their genes man.”

      “You think so?” I say.

      “Hell yes. Didn’t you watch Revenge of the Nerds?”

      “What do we do with it?”

      “We cut it out,” he says. “Get me a saw.”

      Our neighbor is into minor woodworking, creating furniture from egg crates. He works for beer. I let myself in with the spare key and borrow a hand saw. Together, my roommate and I extricate the sword from the plaster ceiling. The dust is barely noticeable.

      “Now what?” I say.

      “What else; we send it to the Sigma Kappas.”

      “The cheerleaders? Won’t they be pissed?”

      “Naw, they’ll probably send it back to the Alpha Deltas, thinking it was from them. Poetic justice at its finest.”

      As it turns out, U of M is a weapons-free campus. I sit at the curb with my duffle bag, waiting for my father to come.

      “Tough break dude,” my roommate says. “Thanks for not ratting me out.”

      I say nothing.

      “What time is it, man?”

      I show him my watch.

      “Oh shit.” He runs off, late once again.

    2. ReathaThomasOakley

      I couldn’t get my story to post last week, thought it was the copying and pasting, just typed the whole thing directly in the box, still nothing. I did contact Brian, he answered, but still no solution.

  42. Ananfal

    There were dwarves – honest-to-the-Goddess dwarves – and they were looking for a sword. In the house of a pacifist. MY house.

    I took a deep breath. “Tell me again, please, why you think I am the one who took this sword of yours? And remember – I am a PACIFIST.”

    One of the dwarves grunted out a snort of laughter, and I think another one grinned. Stone faces, these dwarves. The lead dwarf, apparently the one they had elected to speak to me (using a complicated system that looked like a dwarven version of rock-paper-scissors), held his rugged forehead in his knobbly hand and looked so perplexed, I almost felt bad for him.

    “How can you be pacifist? What happens if one of your enemies comes to your house, pees on your stoop, beats your dog, and writes his name on your wall, what would you do then?”

    Such a… specific example. Almost like it had happened before.

    “I would clean my porch, heal my dog, repaint my wall, and set up an electric fence.” This threw him for a loop, until one of the other dwarves grunted something to him (probably explaining what an electric fence is). Just as the lead dwarf opened his mouth to say something else to me, one of the dwarves grunted in excitement (I think) and pointed up.

    There was a sword. In my ceiling. My CEILING.

    “I didn’t put that there! I have no idea how that got there!” I shrieked, causing the dwarves to cringe and put their hands over their ears. They probably had very good hearing due to living underground (or so I suppose). Cautiously taking their hands away to ascertain that I was no longer screaming like a banshee (they liked to sing, but they weren’t very good at it – don’t tell them though), one of the dwarves then tried to pull the sword out of my ceiling. It promptly set him on fire, rang like a bell, and fell down at my feet.

    I made the Sign against Evil. The sword sang again, as though in approval of my actions (or something like that, anyway). I stared down at it, and the sword, if it were possible, smiled back at me. It practically radiated smugness.

    I sighed in resignation and lifted up the sword, half-heartedly glaring at it. “I’m still a pacifist.” I warned the chunk of metal, ignoring the dwarves that were staring at me in shock and awe (at least, I like to think that’s what that was – it probably wasn’t). The sword sang, and I could have sworn it spoke to me.

    Not for long, it told me. Not for long.

      1. Ananfal

        Thanks! I didn’t intend for it to be the beginning of a longer work, but I can see myself continuing it at some point. I’m glad you enjoyed it. 🙂

    1. Observer Tim

      I’m with Cosi on this one; your story could very easily be the beginning of a longer narrative. I had a good laugh at the ‘electric fence’ comment. You’ve got a strong narrative voice here and the ending is a lovely foreshadow of more to come. 🙂

  43. Observer Tim

    LOST AND FOUND

    Russell sat on the sofa, feet up on the coffee table and a large bag of chips in his lap. He was staring at one of those inane ‘reality’ shows while various bits of detritus littered the living room around him.

    “Russell, I thought you were going to clean up!”

    “You said that, Sis, not me.”

    “Look Russell, I just pulled a double at the coffee shop, I don’t need this. I mean, look at this place! There are junk and empty food containers everywhere, the dust bunnies are having litters, and… and… Russell, why is there a sword sticking out of the ceiling?”

    He looked up. “It’s not sticking out, it’s sticking in.”

    “That doesn’t change the fact that there’s a broadsword stuck in the ceiling!”

    “It’s not a broadsword, it’s a cutlass. See the curve in the blade?”

    “Russell, focus! Why is it there?”

    “The crippled guy was waving it around and it got stuck, so he said bugger it and left it there.”

    “What crippled guy? And don’t call him crippled, he’s mobility challenged.”

    “Whatever. Anyway, him and these other guys came in with shovels and picks and were shouting about treasure. They searched the house and dug up the back yard, and eventually left with a big trunk that looked heavy.”

    “And a home invasion robbery by sword-wielding maniacs didn’t merit calling me at work? Or the police?”

    “I was going to, but I was waiting for a commercial.”

    “How long ago was this?”

    “A couple of hours.”

    I hate being the responsible one. I checked the back yard and there were several holes, including one half-full of water where they’d hit the main. The upstairs had been totally ransacked and Mom’s jewelry box was missing, but something was sitting in its place.

    “Russell!”

    I called him twice with no answer before picking up the object and taking it downstairs.

    “Russell, turn that damned TV off!”

    “No! It’s just getting to the good part.”

    I snatched the remote off the arm of the sofa and hit the power switch.

    “Russell, why was THIS,” I held up the polished human skull, “sitting on Mom’s dresser?”

    “I dunno. Maybe one of them dropped it.”

    Jack Bastord stared down every member of the pirate raiding party. Even with only the one eye he was exceptionally talented at staring people down; he’d once stared down a statue so thoroughly that its head fell off. He brandished his hook hand threateningly at the men.

    “He was with us at when we was diggin’, Cap’n!”

    “I knows he was, Mad Steven! Gutbuster Gavin, wan’t it your duty to look after ‘im?”

    “No Cap’n. It was Tortuga Zeke’s job!”

    “Tortuga Zeke! Get yer sorry arr’s out and don’t come back without Smilin’ Pete!”

    Jack glowered; when he’d said a good first mate was hard to find, he hadn’t meant it this way.

    1. Beebles

      Now, y’see I missed the advent of smiling Pete, but it strikes me this prompt was made for him. I too enjoyed Russell and the names. Is it me or are these prompts getting very specific?

      1. Observer Tim

        You are correct, Beebles. If you look at the earliest prompts they’re usually very general, with the occasional specific idea thrown in. Now that situation seems to have reversed. I like the practice with the specific prompts, but since I’m still in novel mode the mental gear-shifting can cause the engine to seize.

    2. cosi van tutte

      Hi, OT!

      This story made me laugh out loud. Especially the whole exchange about what kind of sword was sticking into the ceiling. Also, this whole line: ““The crippled guy was waving it around and it got stuck, so he said bugger it and left it there.” 😆

      1. Observer Tim

        Thanks, Cosi; I’ve had that kind of conversation (from both sides).

        I was originally going to try this “George and Gracie” style, but Russell and his (unnamed) sister fit better personality-wise.

        A sequel on the same prompt is percolating in my mind at the moment. After all, that sword is still sticking out of (sorry, into) the ceiling…

    3. ReathaThomasOakley

      This is all just great. The sister/brother dialog is perfect, reminded me of ones back in the day. I’m not as familiar with Smilin’ Pete and company as others seem to be, but I do recall at least one story. Looking forward to the sequel.

    4. UnclePizza

      OK, now THAT was funny! (Although, not having been exposed to Jack and Smilin’ Pete before, I found the exchange at the end to be a bit of a distraction. Still, it didn’t take away from the hilarity of the main body. Maybe I just need to familiarize myself with the scurvy crew.)

      1. Kerry Charlton

        All of a sudden, I saw Moe, Curly and Larry running through your story, trying to steal the show. But they couldn’t do it. No one could have stolen it. By the way, this is my favorite style of all the writings you do. Somewhere in there, Erma Bomback was trying to take charge of decorating the sets. Great Line on the sword also. .Claxssic Tim at it’s best.

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