Today I am two books behind in my reading challenge of 60 books in 2019. I do count audio books as I like to listen to books while doing dishes and quilting and to help me get to sleep. Maybe half of my books are audio (need to check that out). I have 7 on currently reading list, but ones like Astrophysics for People in a Hurry is a slow read for me. I can get through a cozy mystery in a day or two. Will update reading section relating to the “Challenge” this year.
So here I am taking college classes with all these energetic twenty year olds. No problem, they are all great. But there is a problem called “technology” and a social world I don’t seem to fit into called “social media.” I started a blog when I decided to write; got busy and gave it up. Now with several completed books and writing frequently I am attempting to enter this technical social world — and taking blogging 149, and wondering if I should have started with a blogging 101. Notwithstanding, you my dear readers will soon see the wonderful results of this class.
Lodi and his wife did not live in the building where he had met and entertained Mr. Brown. That building was a condominium those of his kind used when they had business or work in the city.
He was part of a large community of Trolls living in the Tillamook forest area. Their homes were secluded in the forests, but generally on or near one of the many creeks in the coastal mountains. Humans generally bypassed the forests in the bullet trains that got them from Portland to the coastal cities in about half an hour. The Naval bases and large population supporting them were primarily in Astoria, Newport, and Coos Bay. Much of the ocean view area was dedicated to vacation homes and hotels. However, most people preferred the warmer climates along the southern costal areas for vacations.
Lodi and his wife Cona were anxious to get home the next day after the torrential rains of the last few days. Lodi had installed a web cam near his home to monitor the creek levels, but the storm must have damaged it as he got no response that morning.
“Packed love?” he asked Cona.
She came out of the bedroom of their condo with her bag over her shoulder. “Ready, when is the train?”
“We have time for breakfast, or we can eat on the train if you like.”
“Train is fine, can we go to Starbucks on the way?”
He nodded, picked up his bag and opened the door for his wife. He turned and locked the door. “You just like racking up the points more than drinking the coffee is what I think.”
She ignored him. Ever since she got her new phone she loved using it to track her coffee purchases, and get her freebies.
They took the elevator to the basement and followed the underground passage toward the train terminal. They were stopped by a warning message overhead, the tunnel they planned on using to the train terminal was blocked due to mud slide. They would either have to go upside or take a detour.
The underground tunnels that served non-humans were not as extensive as streets and sidewalks above, but they could move freely without being stared at by humans. The tunnels generally had plenty of coffee shops, fast food and other amenities as did top side. They popped into a Starbucks. Most were run by elves, as trolls didn’t like commerce or at least not as much as did Elves or Dwarfs.
Cona used her phone to pay for their coffees. They sat down and Lodi did a quick Google search for train times and alternative routes. The underground taxis were not as frequent as above. They were all electric and due to the combined foot, bike and electric vehicle traffic, were slow.
“I think we need to wait for the next train, or go up for a cab.” Lodi muttered. “Even if we got a taxi down here now, we probably wouldn’t make the train.”
“How long?” Cona asked.
“About an hour.”
“Great, then we can do some shopping.”
Lodi agreed. There was little shopping, except on-line, from home. They finished their coffee and headed in the direction toward the train station. Finding a taxi was much more difficult than they anticipated as the closed tunnel resulted in more than themselves in need of alternative routes. They headed for a cafe and breakfast instead.
Lodi called a neighbor to check on the web cam and the creek. He found it had been knocked out by a branch, which fell from the heavy winds. The winds in the hills had gotten up to 50-80 mph and there had been damage from downed trees. The creek was not at flood stage, and would not get there as the rains had let up.
With that news, Cona decided she needed to get her hair done and Lodi headed for his favorite cheese shop. Although most cheeses were brought in from Tillamook; he found he had better selections here in Portland because the shops were larger.
Cona had her hair dyed blue; something Lodi could never understand. Why did she need to change the color every other month. She had been into the cool shades this last year with shades of blues and greens.
They didn’t get the train until nearly afternoon, but arrived near their home in forty-five minutes. Although their home was only two miles from the station, both Lodi and Cona preferred using their ATV, which was nearly the size of a Jeep, since they had their shopping packages to get home.
Their home would have been nearly unnoticed by a human. There was no path and not indication of habitat. Trolls build extensive underground homes. They prefer living near water, so they required extensive drainage systems to prevent flooding. Most homes had a fireplace in every room, as they prefer dry and warm environments. The Northwest was not the best environment for Trolls, but they needed to be where the work was. Lodi and Cona had lived ten years near Mexico City. Large cities had greater need for their services. But they decided to retire near a much smaller city. Lodi kept up as a consultant for the Union and served most of the state of Oregon and Washington in negotiations for the Trolls.
Cona called out from the kitchen. “Want dinner now, or later?”
“You should ask?” he replied, “I’m starving.”
Cona was a good cook and within half an hour an impressive meal was on the dinning room table. All meals, at least those eaten at home, were formal. Both Lodi and Cona dressed for dinner, and the table always had at least two wines, dinner, and after dinner.
Now at home they could talk more freely than when out and about. “So tell me more about Mr. Brown. He seems like a nice human.”
“He is. He is one of the few that think. One of the few humans I have been able to talk to.”
“That is your fault, or all of ours. If they knew we could understand their language, they would probably talk to us.”
“We have centuries of history that say differently my dear.”
“Never mind. You seemed troubled by that meeting, what was it?”
“As we thought, there are a lot of questions being asked with the increased risk of invasion. There are some who think or who doubt the loyalty of non-humans. They are afraid of what they don’t know.”
“These steaks are just right my dear.” He replied with a large grin. Then continued. “And the mayor is concerned how we would react to some radicals that might mean harm to us.”
“Did you tell them we would not react, that we would leave?”
“I think that was the message. I think Brown knows more, so I told him how it is. I told him non-humans have been serving and protecting humans here in this country for over three hundred years, and that we are not going to stop now.”
He paused as he took a sip of the red wine. “But of course they don’t know we protect them. Most of them don’t know.”
“They know what is in their history books, what is in the sociology studies of human and non-human interaction. Most of them do anyway. I think the fears are that we have some kind of ‘magic.’ That is the issue, magic. How do we fight that as an enemy, especially when we in this country don’t have any.”
Another scene from “If They Were Real – what things might look like if non-human peoples lived among us.
Samantha patted on the pillow next to hers. “Sit here Mama, I’m ready for my book.” As her mother climbed up on the bed beside her, she handed her an old worn blue book with dog-eared corners.
She turned the book to the cover that read “Fairy Tales,” and asked, “where did you find this book dear?”
“Upstairs in the book shelf in the spare room. It has such lovely pictures, please read me a story Mama.”
Her mother opened the book and flipped through a few pages. “I remember this from when I was a very young child,” she mused out loud, “I didn’t know I still had it.”
“What is the book Mama, what are the stories?”
“They are fairy tales, made up stories. A tale is a story, we don’t use that word much now, instead we say story.”
“Are fairies these people with strange clothes and wings?”
Her mother stopped on a page with a drawing of a woman with wings wearing a flowing almost transparent gown and holding a stick with small stars that floated out over a large pumpkin. “Yes, it seems they generally were pictured as having wings.” She flipped to another page that depicted small almost transparent human like creatures with wings, but these appeared to be quite small as they were riding on the backs of robins.
Samantha peered closely at the picture and stopped her mother from turning the page. “How big are fairies?”
Her mother flipped through the book again looking at pictures. “This is a story about good and bad fairies, about a princess named Sleeping Beauty. She turned another page. This fairy was a good fairy called a fairy godmother; the picture shows her about the same size as Cinderella, who she helped go to a ball.” She continued, “Fairies are not real, so they are no size. Those who made up the tales, the stories, make them any size they wanted for the story.”
Samantha was a very bright five-year-old and was not content with that answer. “But what size are they? Amanda said she saw some in her garden, and they were very small, only three inches.”
“Well Amanda has quite an imagination. When she writes her tale of fairies, they will be three inches. It is getting late, do you want me to read?”
Samantha snuggled down into her covers and nodded. “Please read the Cinderella tale Mama.”
Her mother began, but had not gotten to the appearance of the fairy godmother when she noticed Samantha had already dropped off to sleep. She quietly slipped off the bed, kissed her forehead, turned off the lamp and left the room.
“John, look at this old book,” she said to her husband as she sat by him on the sofa.
He looked up from his magazine and at the book, “yep it looks old, so where did you get it?”
“Samantha found it upstairs, it is one I had when I was a very young girl. I didn’t know I still had it. I think I kept it because my grandmother gave it to me. It is a book of fairy tales.”
John closed the magazine with his finger inside to mark his place. “Fairy tales?”
“Yes, but as a boy you probably read stories of dragons and giants instead.”
He shook his head negatively.
Clara went on, “then I suppose your parents were more careful in selecting your reading material than mine were.”
“So what did you tell her?”
“Oh the usual, that they were make believe stories by people with a lot of imagination.”
“Was that wise? She will grow up and find out the truth regardless.” He said and re-opened his magazine.
Clara was not finished. “Another thing, she said Amanda, you know Amanda her little friend who lives across the street three houses down. She said Amanda told her that she had seen three inch fairies in her garden.”
John laid his magazine on the coffee table. “She said what!” he replied as he stood. “In our neighborhood?”
“Oh John, you don’t think.” She looked confused. “No, Samantha and Amanda were probably looking at the book and Amanda wanted to impress her with the wild story.”
John walked around the room, “I’m not so sure Clara. Maybe we should report.”
“Nonsense, report and get a little girl into trouble; have the FBI combing our neighborhood. We’re good citizens, but report, when it is probably only the imagination of a five-year-old who saw pictures in a book.” She flipped through the pages until she came to the picture with the tiny creatures on the backs of robins. She handed the book to John. “See, she saw these and made it up.”
John took the book and sat down. “Maybe you are right. But you had better destroy this book. I don’t know why you would have kept something like this for Samantha to find. Now what will you do if she starts repeating the stories?”
“Don’t worry, it isn’t as though the stories were not fairly well known from older people. If she were alive, her grandma might have told some of these stories to her. But I will take the book away from her.”
John and Clara lived in a large farming community in the mid-west. They were very conservative. Both had done their military duty. Clara had done office work for her two years duty and John had worked in a shipping plant, sending goods to the many military bases throughout the country. When his time was up they married and moved to a small town near his family farm. And sure, like all others in the region he hired Trolls at harvest time. He generally hired a crew of about twenty for a couple of months. They came as a package with a crew manager, a Troll who spoke English. He was required by the government to provide clean decent housing for the crew. He did that. They lived in town so Samantha never visited fields, at least not at harvest time. Trolls were harmless, but did look frightening due to their size and somewhat unkempt and shoddy clothing. Samantha had seen Elves on vacation since they provided room service at most resorts and hotels, and knew there were other non-humans that did some work for humans.
Early the next morning, as usual he headed out to the farm. His dad still lived out on the old homestead, and had re-married a couple of years ago. His dad was already up and milking cows when John drove up.
“Morning Dad how goes it?”
“Morning yourself, John. Cathy has coffee on, I’ll be in a few minutes. We need to go over the books today, get ready for the tax man.”
John headed for the house. His dad had married Cathy a couple years after his mom died. He liked Cathy, but it was still strange to see her in the kitchen where he had grown up. “Morning Cathy.”
“Morning John,” she poured him coffee and set a plate of freshly baked cinnamon roles in front of him. Okay so his mom hadn’t liked to cook. Cathy was good for his dad. They talked the weather and prices of corn and sorghum.
Cathy looked up as his dad walked in the door. “Ralph, the boots off.”
“You always say that honey, but I wore these boots in the kitchen for fifty years, and I’m gonna keep on.”
Cathy grinned. She knew she had lost that battle two weeks after they were married and it had become some kind of little joke between them, one John never understood.
Ralph washed his hands and poured himself coffee and refilled John’s cup. He reached for a cinnamon roll as he sat across from John. “The good life,” he said as he bit into a warm roll. “So how’s my little granddaughter?” he asked.
“She’s fine dad.” John had been thinking of what happened the night before and decided to bring it up. “Dad you know we have kept Samantha sheltered from from non-humans. She has seen Elf workers on vacations and a few in town and hasn’t asked much. But she is getting older and now has some playmates that concern us.”
Ralph gave him a blank look and continued with the cinnamon roll.
“What I mean is she is so young. We don’t know when to let her know there are two kinds of people, human and non-human.”
“And?” was Ralph’s only response.
“And I guess she will find out when she starts school. You know how I feel about non-humans. They are what is wrong with this country; why at least one fourth of the working adults work for the military, why we have mandatory draft.”
Ralph and his son had disagreed most of their life about the issue of non-humans. He didn’t know why John felt so strongly against them.
“You know I can’t agree with you. Our family was in the the great war of 1890, we fought those creatures. We know what we are defending, our very lives. We humans have taken advantage, and still do, of the non-humans. We have relied on the labor of Dwarfs and Trolls to build our rail system and highways. Elves fill our factories doing menial tasks that we don’t want to do.”
Cathy shook her head, “not again you two.”
John looked at both of them. “Okay, I know the stories, I studied history in school. I know we rely on Dwarfs, Trolls, and Elves. But they are more human than the other creatures. They are simply different sized than humans and some are stronger and some more dexterous and can move faster than we can. But they don’t have powers, don’t have magic.”
“What is this all about John?”
“Samantha said her playmate, who is her age, saw fairies.”
“They aren’t allowed in the country. Do you think she did?” Cathy asked.
“Clara thinks she made it up. The girls found a old fairy tale book of Clara’s that had pictures of fairies. She thinks the friend just said that.”
“Are you going to report the incident?”
“I don’t know. Clara said not to.”
Ralph poured them each another cup of coffee. “Three inches, could have been butterflies.”
Cathy added “Don’t know much about fairies, but that they are said to have magic powers; that is frightening. What can we do to combat magic?”
“Something is going on,” John added. “Robert’s boy is in the Navy, and they added a year to his service. Not mandatory, but asking it of those about to get out.”
Ralph sighed. “I know. Last night’s news is that the government is very seriously considering talk of three-year draft instead of two, beefing up the military. The President seems to be against it, but the Defence department has strong support in the Senate.”
They heard a car coming down the dirt road toward the farm. “The accountant is here already and we don’t have the tax stuff ready.”
Mr. Brown pulled the collar of his coat up in an attempt to stop the rain from blowing in between his coat and hat and trickling down his neck. His other hand was clutching his hat to keep it from blowing off, but that led to water running into his coat sleeve and down his arm. He hated being in this part of town, and on a dark stormy night like this he hated it even more. He had a mind to turn around and go home. But he didn’t.
He stepped into a puddle and cursed the rain again, now he was certain there was not a dry part of his body left. He trudged another two blocks before he reached the old stone building where the meeting was being held tonight. He was told to knock on the basement door near the back of the building. It took another five minutes stumbling in near total darkness before he found a stairwell and descended.
The door opened before he knocked. The interior hallway was as dark inside as the night outside. A gravely sour sounding voice said, “You are late Mr. Brown, follow me.” They walked a short way down the hall, then down a long flight of stairs, made several turns then into a dimly lit room. Mr. Brown was now chilled from the cold rain, his wet clothes, and the cold room. The voice asked, “Your coat, sir?”
Mr. Brown shuffled out of his wet coat and hat and handed them toward the short individual he saw outlined in the shadows. The voice continued, “Come with me Mr. Brown,” and opened another door. This other room was large, with a fire in the large fireplace at one end. There was a long table in the center of the room, some distance from the fire, with nearly twenty persons already seated. The lighting in the room was from several small electric lights hanging from a very high ceiling. The poor lighting allowed him see bodies at the table, but not recognize faces. The voice pointed to a chair and Mr. Brown sat.
He recognized the voice of the next person who spoke, it was the president of the United Troll Workers Union. “Thank you for coming Mr. Brown, especially on such an unpleasant night.”
Mr. Brown nodded in recognition and was about to add a comment about the weather, but the union president continued. “Has the City agreed to our terms?”
“Yes, they have to most of them. There are several points they would like you to reconsider, section 125.A.3 and 388. They would also like you to consider adding two conditions to section 885 of the agreement.”
“Then explain,” said the president.
Mr. Brown was now weary and started shaking from the cold. He hoped he could negotiate the terms and be out of there quickly. “The city will agree to section 125.A.3 with stipulation you give them 24-hour notice. For section 388, they would agree with stipulations that the provision would be on a trial basis, and if successful would accept the union’s terms. But if issues arise, would stipulate for arbitration within two months.”
The president addressed the others at the table. “Do you wish to discuss or take a preliminary vote.” A vote was taken and the city’s terms were agreed upon.
The next two conditions took nearly an hour before terms were agreed upon. Mr. Brown had the city’s authority to negotiate the terms. He knew before they started he would give in to their demands, but needed to make them work for it, even if it was at his discomfort.
The meeting adjourned and the union president, Lodi Grugdenit, asked Mr. Brown if he would like to join him for a drink.
Mr. Brown did. His job paid well as the city’s negotiator with the Trolls who worked for the city. Not many humans tolerated being around Trolls, but he had grown used to them. They were careless in their appearance, never wore shoes, and their hair was wild and unkempt. Most humans couldn’t recognize a male from female Troll, not that many humans ever saw Trolls. They generally worked at night and were seen only in passing under city lights as they drove the street sweepers and garbage trucks, and patrolled as security guards for businesses and many residential areas.
Lodi took Mr. Brown into another smaller room, which was warm with a roaring fire in the fireplace and very well lit. Trolls love their creature comforts, such as warm fires, thick carpeting and soft furniture. Lodi handed a steaming mug of warm wine to Mr. Brown, who stood by the fire feeling the heat seep through his wet clothes. He took it but stayed in front of the fire.
“Looks like you got all you asked for Lodi, but you knew you would.”
The Troll grunted something under his breath, “Ya, but look what we do. No crime at night in the city, no one wants to bump into us on the streets. Cities without Troll workers have all sorts of crime. We do the jobs humans don’t like, pick up garbage, clean the streets.”
Mr. Brown didn’t reply, he sipped the hot spicy wine, and began to feel its warmth spread through his body, all the way down to his cold feet. He finally had the courage to ask Lodi the question that had been on his mind the last few weeks.
“Lodi, are you,” he paused and finished off the mug of wine, “are your boys part of what’s rumored, of what’s going on?”
Lodi looked at him innocently, as innocently as a Troll can look. “Going on, what do you mean?”
“I’m sure you have heard the rumors, it seems like everyone knows, but no one is admitting it. Seems like things aren’t real unless some guy reports it on the news. Okay, the rumors that the non-humans might be making demands for equal representation in government. Demands for equal rights with humans.”
“Equal rights with Humans?” Lodi snorted. “We aren’t stupid, why would we want to degrade ourselves to that? Come on Brown, we have known one another, what ten years, surely you can come up with something better than that?”
“The word is uprising.” Mr. Brown admitted.
“Power, that is what Humans are afraid of isn’t it?” Lodi whispered, “Power.”
Lodi refiled Mr. Brown’s mug then sat in one of the large green chairs next to the fire.
Mr. Brown remained standing and stared into the fire as he swallowed more of the warm sweet spicy wine. He thought about what Lodi had said, he had openly said it. Humans had never even considered those different from them, those so much smaller than themselves as a threat. Sure they had limited immigration to those they thought could serve them, kept out those they feared. But none of the non-humans stood, none of the tallest Trolls or Elves stood higher than four feet at the most. And Humans outnumbered them at least ten to one. So why would there be this fear?
Lodi waited quietly. He liked Mr. Brown, they had always been honest with one another. Oh sure they played the negotiation games as expected, but Brown was fair and respectful. That was it, he was respectful of the Trolls, didn’t ignore them like most Humans did.
“Uprising is a strong word Brown. My boys wouldn’t have anything to do with something like that. But we hear stuff, and humans never tell us the true stuff outright. You know we got our sources Brown, reliable sources.” He got up and poked at the fire, walked to a button near the door and pushed it; then returned to his chair with a simple question. “Hungry?”
Mr. Brown smiled to himself, Troll food was good. He wasn’t offered it often, but he never turned down an offer. He sat in the other chair now that he was nearly dried out.
“So tell me about this uprising.” Lodi said
“The mayor is concerned with rumors he hears from time to time. Mostly they are from radicals from the us versus them idiots who generally only make a lot of noise. With the rumors of extended draft from two to three years, some other folks are getting nervous. Some of the radicals are suggesting that non-humans will side with our enemies when and if our country gets invaded.”
“I’m not following you Brown; how would my boys have anything to do with that?”
“Organized resistance. Talk about putting all non-humans in security camps where they can be watched has resulted in talk about non-humans in arms resisting such an action.”
“Oh hell,” Mr. Brown shrugged his shoulders. “It’s the unknown that leads to stupid and sometimes violent stuff.”
The door opened and a large Troll, Brown suspected as being Lodi’s wife, rolled in a table ladened with covered dishes. She pushed it between the two chairs and pulled a bottle of wine from her pocket, grunted something in Troll, and left. Lodi did not introduce her.
Brown continued, “The mayor wants to know what would your boys do if a gang of humans came at them, perhaps armed?”
“Let us not mix business with pleasure, and pleasure awaits us. Come my friend, join me with a little repast.”
They both got up and went to the table. It was elegantly spread with a white cloth and covered with various silver containers, some covered and some open. There were platters of exotic cheeses, fresh breads still warm from the oven, a tureen of some type of fish soup with a tantalizing aroma, pastries stuffed with meats and fruit. Brown returned to his chair with a heaped plate of the delicacies. He wanted to try a small amount of everything, but there was too much for that attempt.
They discussed the cheeses and other dishes, Lodi explaining some of the ingredients.
“Where do you shop to even find some of these things?” Brown asked, “Some I’ve heard of, but don’t find them in even the best markets.”
“Troll markets, my boy, Troll markets, where else would I shop.”
Brown hadn’t thought much about where non-humans shop. Of course he knew they seldom mingled with humans and that they had their own sections of the city where they lived. Some humans, brave ones would venture into those neighborhoods to shop; they generally resold on-line for a profit, so were not always welcome.
“You know you could become wealthy selling some of these cheeses to humans.”
“I am wealthy, so why should I sell my cousin’s cheeses to humans. Then what would we eat?” He laughed heartily at his own remark.
The wonderful food, the fire, the wine, Brown almost forgot why he had come. Lodi spoke of it first.
“You ask what would my boys do. They would disappear before anyone could come at them.”
“What if they came to your part of town, where Trolls live?”
“Brown, we have lived here together hundreds of years. Non-humans have served the needs of humans all this time. We will not turn on humans. It is not our nature, no matter what the nature of humans might be. And Brown, we will protect you and your family, no matter what. We know where you live and keep a guard on you, don’t worry about what might happen. Tell the mayor we will not fight humans. He can depend on that. We will continue to serve and protect you as we always have.”
Brown felt his attention slipping as he pondered Lodi’s words and stared at the fire. He felt drowsy and wondered if his mind was finally putting many pieces together to make sense, or the opposite; was the world as he had imagined it been just that, imagination and not reality. He started up as he felt Lodi touch his shoulder.
“The storm is grown worse, call your home and say you are spending the night because of the storm.”
Brown pulled out his cell and called his wife, she agreed that it was a good idea as she heard power was out in many parts of the city already.
Lodi led Brown from the room into an elevator and ushered him into a room that looked very like any elegant hotel room. “Sleep well my friend,” and he left him.
Brown found human type pajamas in the bathroom, changed and crawled into the bed. His last thoughts were, “We have always served humans and protected them.” He wondered why most humans felt like they were somehow taking advantage of non-humans, treating them like slaves. The pay for work from non-humans was almost what would be considered slave wages. The negotiations he did between the City and the Troll Union was about hundreds of little things, not pay. He drifted off to sleep wondering exactly who was running the city anyway.
Another prompt writing exercise – using the words: wheelchair, Labrador, throne, jungle, prescription, railroad, trunk, gulley, wasp, photosynthesize
If it had not been for the research of Doctor Gindeah the human race would have become extinct a thousand years ago. Because of him humans can photosynthesize from the earth’s resources, just as plants did in our ancient world before they became extinct.
There is clear evidence of abundance of plants. Some grew in what were called jungles or forests; there were tall plants on stems called trunks (these were called trees). These living beings, the plants and trees, were green like us humans. It remains a mystery why we survived and they did not as they also had the ability to photosynthesize.
Then there is evidence for other living things they called animals. For some reason the only animals that did not become extinct was the dog called a Labrador. Animals differed from humans in that they generally were fur covered, just as our wonderful Labradors, but perhaps not as intelligent. Our Labradors graciously pull our wheelchairs wherever we wish to go. They do balk at going into a gulley or walking on railroad tracks.
As long as we are talking about what we know of the ancient world we must mention the wonderful wasp. We found records indicating the wasp was not revered back then, but greatly misunderstood. Today of course, we each maintain and care for our own hives of wasps just as they care and provide for us in the loving symbiotic relationships we all have with them.
Below is what I wrote for my Prompt Writing group. We take prompts and words from a Book titled Write The Story. We all are challenged to include all, or most of the words that come with the prompt; but we enjoy the challenge.
Subject: Getting Away With Murder (page 89) Words to include: Snow Queen, cypress, wine, tunnel, horseback, childhood, temperature, endanger, imperial
Carlotta selected a bottle of wine and carefully injected the poison through the cork with a long slender needle. She sometimes endangered an innocent with her methods; but she always got away with murder. That was not a word she would use; she was an assassin. The act was assassination of political enemies, not murder. She was known by both friend and foe as the Snow Queen; the woman with ice for a heart.
The ambassador was meeting his mistress in Hawaii. He finally accepted the word mistress once he realized he lavished jewelry on her, bought her a car, and was paying for her flat. Those things were more than calling their relationship an affair. Sometimes he felt like he was taking advantage of a girl so very beautiful and so very young, hardly out of her childhood. Other times he felt an evil presence that might not be from his troubled conscious, but from the young Carlotta herself.
They walked along the beach and watched riders on horseback splash through the gentle waves. The temperature had been climbing all day and their approach to their hotel through a tunnel of cypress in the formal gardens felt refreshing. They returned to the hotel dinning room for dinner where Carlotta suggested a favorite wine, if the hotel carried it. They did, and the waiter poured the ambassador a glass from the Imperial Winery, a blood red Merlot called The Snow Queen.
Nedra looked up at the pale sky which now had a tint of yellow. “Oh drat, not another storm!”
She wasn’t talking to anyone in particular, and if asked would deny that she was talking to herself. The conversation continued. “Another interruption and I wanted to get back to the city by early next week.”
She looked at the readings on her drill and hit the switch. It whirred into action pulling up a long thin core of earth. She packed it into a sample bag, tagged it and loaded it into her rover. The process took nearly a half hour. By the time she looked up at the sky again, the horizon looked a dirty mustard yellow and the canopy overhead was now a darker version of the mustard. She dug through the back of the rover and pulled out a heavy jump suit and jacket, which she donned quickly. She strapped an oxygen tank to her back and finished the ensemble with the connecting facemask.
Nedra continued to mumble as she packed the last of her equipment and turned on the GPS for a reading to the nearest shelter. A small one was about 20 minutes away; but the larger more accommodating shelter was about an hour away. She looked out the window at the clouds again and guessed the storm was at least two hours distant. She doubled checked her fuel level and sat a few minutes contemplating the simple decision; an hour and she would be among people again and have nearly all the luxuries of home; or twenty minutes and she would be done. On nearly any other day Nedra would have chosen the large and comfortable shelter, but she had been out seven days straight and was exhausted. She looked at the sky again, she had been caught out in one of these gas storms several times and decided she couldn’t stomach one as tired as she was. She turned the rover north toward the small shelter noted on the GPS.
She drove through the two air locks and then the decontamination room. The readings were low and the door to the shelter opened within a few minutes. Nedra immediately picked up the checklist and began the routine to be followed by the first arrival at a shelter. She turned on the cameras and checked the screens, all were operational. She checked the generator, and then the backup generator; readings were good. By the time she was half way down the list, she skipped to the food list and checked those supplies, helping herself to a power bar as she worked. This small shelter would hold six to ten people comfortably, more if necessary. The area was remote and she doubted there would be many who would opt for this one over the more easterly No. 609 since it had a permanent staff, real food, and real beds.
The checks had taken less than a half hour and she could now relax. She looked at the screens and was surprised how quickly the sky had turned. The storm was here already. She heard a buss on the com unit and tried to tune out the static. She began a radar sweep of the area searching for a vehicle; and spotted one north. If it was a rover, it would arrive at the shelter in ten to fifteen minutes at normal speed. Finally a voice came through.
“Having difficulty, instruments not clear; anyone out there?”
Nedra checked the lights that provided a visual of the shelter and turned up the homing signal.
A static message came over, “got ya, how far away?”
“I have you on radar; you ought to be in visual in a few minutes. Do you need me to come for you?”
“Negative, just got worried; rover’s acting up and I needed to know my options.”
Nedra watched as the blip approached the shelter. She was relieved she wouldn’t have to do a rescue; they were always so much paper work. She opened the outer hatch, then returned to the com when she saw the blinking light indicating an incoming message. It was the usual request to report occupants to begin the process of accounting for all personnel in the field. She typed in her name and number then flicked the com to the decontamination room.
“Hey I need to report in, who are you?”
The response came back muffled, “Kell Stephens, Lt. Kell Stephens.”
Nedra grinned as she typed the information onto the com.
A quick response asked for a confirmation.
Nedra checked her spelling and typed it in again. She glanced at the decom room; the readings were high, but clearing. She frowned; it must be bad out there already. She had made the right decision; otherwise she would have been caught in another gas storm.
The audio came on and asked to speak to Lt. Stephens.
Nedra replied, “he is in decom.; will not be clear for about ten more minutes.”
The computer requested Nedra’s passwords and id; she complied. Then she was told to turn the interior cameras on and transmit to headquarters. Lt. Stephens was out of his area and further, a Lt. Stephens had reported in to shelter no. 543; where he should be. Nedra cleared the screen and quickly asked for instructions.
An instant later, the door to the decom room opened and out walked the handsome Kell Stephens she knew so well.
“Kell, is it really you!”
“Nedra, now this is a pleasant coincidence.”
In a moment he was holding her in a tight embrace.
Nedra pushed him away and started to speak.
Kell, grabbed her again and tried to kiss her resisting mouth.
She quietly mouthed the words “camera is on.”
Kell looked puzzled and quickly pushed her into the restroom where there would be no cameras, although the sound would be on.
“He whispered, “what’s up?”
Nedra whispered back about the check in, and that a Lt. Kell Stephens had checked in to station 543; and they were on a red alert. Even as bad as the storm was, someone would be here in an hour or less.
“What is happening Kell, who might that be, since you are here?”
“Can’t tell you here, no time Nedra, but it looks like I’ve gotten too close to happenings in high places. I am going to have to leave, quickly. With our little scene out there you may not be safe. You will need to come with me.”
“Out there in a gas storm, on purpose?”
“Do you trust me?”
They went back into the main communications room and Kell sat at the main console. He began typing in codes and within a few minutes the entire system went dark.
“What did you do to it?”
I had a virus I have been saving for a rainy day; it won’t hold them out for long. We will take a rescue pod. Grab some food and extra oxygen tanks. Suit up, and we will get out of here as fast as we can.
Carla and Al had been in their apartment nearly two months now. She felt the honeymoon would be forever with the love she had for Al. He left early for work that morning, she still had an hour before she had to leave. She dressed and headed to the kitchen, then stopped and stared at the door; a blue door next to the refrigerator. She took a second look. There had never been a door there before.
She walked around the kitchen in a daze. The refrigerator should have been in the corner, next to a wall. Her heartbeat quickened. Had there been a door behind the refrigerator, and had Al moved it? No, they complained how small the kitchen was. A kitchen couldn’t grow. She didn’t know if she should be more frightened or curious. Carla was curious. She opened the blue door and walked into a room she had never seen.
Al was hungry; also concerned since Carla hadn’t answered her cell phone all day. He guessed it wasn’t charged or she left it at home, something Carla was known to do. He called her name as soon as he opened the front door. Since her car was still in front she must have come home early. He got no answer.
He quickly searched their small apartment. No Carla. Then he noticed the blue door in the kitchen. “What the heck?” He muttered to himself. He walked around touching the sink, the range, and the refrigerator. he sat a the table in the middle of their little kitten staring at the blue door trying to think of something logical. He could not. Al stood, walked to the door, opened it and entered. “Carla dearest, where have you been?”
I am restarting my writing blog. The purpose is primarily to keep me on track for my writing goals and put notes into a place I can come back to from time to time. My writing at this time consists of our weekly Prompt Writing, which is great fun as six of us get together and write from five to ten minutes on prompts we find from various sources. The delight of this group is the creativity of each from the same prompt. I will post one of my efforts weekly. These are all handwritten, which I think takes a little more time than if they were typed.
My other more serious, still great fun, is working on my second novel. My first, a detective love story titled The Heart Case was great fun doing and self published as an ebook. Let me you would like a copy of this little novel as it can only be obtain from this blog.
This second novel does not yet have an official title. Now I am referring to it as Lisa’s Story. My goal is to sent it to a publisher so that I can get a rejection letter. With a rejection letter I will feel like I am a real author. My time goal is to finish the first draft by the end of May. I now only have a little over 57,000 words. I have been working (really dabbling ) on Lisa’s Story for nearly a year now. I made significant revisions of the protagonist and the plot since I started.
My next posting will be a draft of my proposal, which hopefully will make you wish to run out and buy my book (as soon as it is published).