Do Something With These Words... - Page 4


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  1. #31
    "Barry Cobalt, of Cobalt Industries," the man in the well-pressed suit said, flashing a plastic smile. "You must be Henrietta."

    "Call me Hank," I said, flatly. "How did you know?"

    Barry nudged my arm with his fist. "You look a lot like your father, a chip off the old block. How is the old mongrel?"

    "Dead," I said, arching an eyebrow and sipping some whiskey. "Two months now. Car accident."

    "Blasphemy!" He shouted, shaking his head a little too dramatically. "I thought nothing could take down The Beast."

    I shrugged. "Nothing except a little alcohol and Toyota Corolla." I held my empty glass out for Barry. "How about you buy me some whiskey in his memory, and we'll mourn together." I touched his hand. "You in, Bar?"


    NEXT WORDS:
    honk
    goat
    gator
    sapling
    iodine
    Hidden Content at SPANK the CARP Fiction and Poetry

  2. #32
    Time to bring this one back, I think.

    "Hey" Eustace said "tie that damn goat to that sapling over there. It's close enough to the river so that ole' gator will have no trouble getting up there to get him."

    Paul, who had been blowing his nose, gave a last, wheezing honk into the handkerchief, wadded it up and put it back into his pocket, then stood up to do as ordered.

    The goat, not willing to be tied up easily, bit Paul on the nose. After much cursing and a couple of kicks in the goat's general direction, Paul finally managed to get it tied to the small tree.

    As he joined Eustace in the boat he said, "You think this is gonna get infected?"

    "I dunno" came the reply. "We'll put some iodine on it once we get back to the cabin."


    Next set

    spaghetti
    meatballs
    muffin
    cake
    spaceship
    “Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were, but without it we go nowhere.” -Carl Sagan

    Real courage is found, not in the willingness to risk death, but in the willingness to stand, alone if necessary, against the ignorant and disapproving herd. --Jon Roland, 1976

    Have you checked out the Hidden Content

    Founder of the Pantsers United Group and member of the Fantasy Lords Group

    "Life is composed of lights and shadows, and we would be untruthful,
    insincere, and saccharine if we tried to pretend there were no shadows." - Walt Disney

  3. #33
    Oh, come on, people!

    No posts since March? Was it Dr Cholera that killed it? LOL

    I know we can get this little challenge going again.
    “Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were, but without it we go nowhere.” -Carl Sagan

    Real courage is found, not in the willingness to risk death, but in the willingness to stand, alone if necessary, against the ignorant and disapproving herd. --Jon Roland, 1976

    Have you checked out the Hidden Content

    Founder of the Pantsers United Group and member of the Fantasy Lords Group

    "Life is composed of lights and shadows, and we would be untruthful,
    insincere, and saccharine if we tried to pretend there were no shadows." - Walt Disney

  4. #34
    Member Red Sonja's Avatar
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    One hospital I used to work in had a doctor named "Hugh Ovary" AND he was a gynecologist AND he was a surgeon. So they would be paging "Dr. Hugh (Hew) Ovary."

    Anyway:

    spaghetti
    meatballs
    muffin
    cake
    spaceship


    (A scene, not an entire story)

    Spaghetti and meatballs, and a poppy-seed muffin with room enough only for one brave little candle, its flame trembling in the draft from the kitchen window, for a fifth-birthday dinner. Not the spaceship-shaped cake that had been at his school friend's party two weeks ago that he hadn't been able to stop talking about since. I felt guilty about the two (losing) lotto tickets and pint of (really cheap) vodka I'd wasted money on coming home tonight, but assuaged my conscience by reminding myself those few dollars would have only bought half a spaceship cake, anyway.

    At least I'd been able to get him the game he'd wanted, even though that meant we'd be eating baloney sandwiches and canned fruit cocktail for dinner for the next few days until I got paid again.

    Does Stew complain? Oh, never! He still loves his mom's spaghetti the best, and says so, but at least he talks about her less and less over time. His mom, the bitch. (To add insult to injury, she's only my half-sister.) Giving him spaghetti out of a can so she can buy crack for her and her so-called "boyfriend." But he loves it! And her "special" garlic toast. What's so special about it, you may ask? It's Italian dressing on bread toasted in a toaster. Because (high squeaky bitch-voice) "butter is BAD for you!" The bitch.

    He's a good Stew, though, and very perceptive. He knows it upsets me when he makes references to his mom's cooking, her perfume, her laugh, her taking him to movies, to the park – and anything else about her, really. I can't help it and he always senses it, especially since we've been at such close quarters for almost a year now.

    How dismal and tragic that I'm the best thing this kid has going right now, that I'm the only thing standing between him and foster care, and that just barely. Tragic, but I can't wallow in that with Stew around, at least. At least there's that. I'm a happy drunk, these days. A determinedly happy drunk.

    "Uncle Dre? Aren't we gonna sing?"

    Here I sit, staring out the damned window, fists clenched, while wax drips on my nephew's birthday "cake."

    Just like always, that boy's smile is like water on a hot day. The image of his mother and the stench of her endless drama dissolves like a reflection in a pond and my smile swims up to greet his from the murky depths of my troubled soul. Baloney sandwiches and being happy will be the pattern of all my days.

    "Sorry, little man. Just tired after work. Ready to sing now?"

    We both start singing "Happy Birthday To You" just as the people one floor up begin their every-other-night drunken shouting match. Stew giggles, sings louder, and so do I and we finally end with a histrionic, opera-volume: "TOOOOO-OOOOOO… YOOOUUUUU!!!!" collapsing in a storm of childish laughter, realizing after a moment that our noise has startled the upstairs drunks into silence, which makes us laugh even more.

    NEXT FIVE WORDS:

    Typewriter
    Obstreperous
    Fan (can be any use of verb or form of noun)
    Placate
    Diapers

  5. #35
    Finally.

    A typewriter.

    She's finally gotten her hands on a legitimate typewriter, the kind that clicks and has that little roller for the paper and needs her to go chii-ink to start a new line. The kind with the font that she always emulates.

    "Daddy, thank you thank you thank you!" she squealed, hovering her hands over the machine, not daring to touch in case it was all a dream and the typewriter wasn't there.

    Her father chuckled, ruffling her hair.

    "Bring it up to your room and we'll set it up, Jane Eyre," he said.

    ***

    A week later, she was frustrated.

    She didn't know it would be so hard to write with a typewriter - she was too used to typing on a computer with it's automatic capitalizing of the 'I', the automatic capitalizing of the letter after a full-stop, the automatic spelling corrections.

    She had already wasted so many papers, what'll happen to the poor trees?!

    The ceiling fan whopped unhelpfully, and just as she glared at the typewriter now sitting on her table, the baby in the other room began to cry.

    "Nanny!" she called, annoyed.

    When the elderly woman didn't reply, she stuck her head out of her room. "Nanny! The baby!"

    And then she remembered the nanny was out shopping for tonight's groceries.

    She whacked her head against the doorframe.

    Just her luck.

    With that, she strode to the nursery, where the baby was nearly howling.

    When she approached him, the acidic stench of urine hit her.

    "Argh," she said, waving a hand in front of her nose. The baby had wet his diapers.

    A few minutes later, the baby was clean again, and she rocked the crib, trying to placate the red-eyed baby with a teddy bear.

    Nonetheless, she apparently didn't do a good job, because it began to howl, again.

    "Obstreperous devil," she muttered, giving up, and when her brain informed her politely that in no world would she be able to spell 'obstreperous' without breaking her train of thought while using a typewriter, and she threw down the teddy bear in anger.

    "Damn it all," she stalked back to her room, intending to console herself with some music while waiting for the nanny to return and deal with her baby brother.
    -changing keys are tension-

  6. #36
    Oh and here's the next few words:

    River
    Hands
    Flying
    Life
    Bulb
    -changing keys are tension-

  7. #37
    Member Red Sonja's Avatar
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    That's hilarious!

    PS, mine shows how much I know about kids: Who buys a five-year-old a GAME...? Nevertheless, I'm not changing the kid's age.
    Last edited by Red Sonja; November 30th, 2015 at 06:15 AM.

  8. #38
    Member Red Sonja's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shi View Post
    Oh and here's the next few words:

    River
    Hands
    Flying
    Life
    Bulb
    Haha, you wouldn't believe how difficult it was to figure out how to use the word "bulb" in this story fragment. It's pretty long; sorry about that!

    ----------------

    At first there was a headache, then an everything-ache. Then came awareness of being wet and muddy. There was a drizzle falling on me; I was lying in an unpaved, deeply rutted, road that was presently, and most fortunately, vacant of traffic.

    I sat up. There was rain that seemed to be clearing though night was coming on, with a heavy, cold, humid murk setting in; trees all around, deciduous trees decked in varying shades of green (good, at least they didn't drop me into a place where it was winter); a wide muddy road that stretched off into a darkling forest and the light fading fast. There seemed to be no one about.

    I didn't wonder if they'd taken my weapons, my food, my navigational devices, my survival kit, but I felt for them anyway in my pack which hung lightly, limply, emptily, soggily from my sore shoulders. Nope. I had been beaten, they had taken my things, so for now I was stuck here, where "here" was. I was without so much as a butter knife to defend myself. My personal magic was at such an ebb I decided then and there to reserve it in the event I needed to heal a broken bone or lacerated liver.

    The ruts on the road indicated human activity, or at least human-like. I got up. I was hurting quite a bit but it seemed they had taken pains not to fuck me up too badly. Cowards. Even here at what had to be an absolute nadir of my power, they still feared to kill or even cripple me. It made me want to laugh (though I didn't due to my very sore sides).

    With shaky hands I continued to grope my backpack as I limped to the trees to hide. It didn't appear as though I had any fellow-travelers on this road, but who could really tell?

    In the couple of minutes since I'd opened my eyes, it had become so dark I could barely see enough to get in among the trees by the road.

    There, in the reinforced lining of my backpack, was something. Daring to hope, my fingers traced the shape of the rood. It was still there! Strange that they hadn't thought to check linings, I reflected, and so thinking searched the secret recesses of my cloak for my spare Universal Currency Key. And found it. Wow! Of course, I would need some real local currency to use with the key or it wouldn't work, and from the looks of things I was either in a desolate area or the people here were very poor. Well, where there's the potential for money there's hope, right? And the rood, if it could be made to function in this continuum, might be the answer to my problems.

    Taking the rood out in the deep gloom under the trees, I could see right away that it was unbroken, but depleted of energy. The bulb-shaped gem at its center gave off a dull, trembly, reddish glow that I could barely discern even with magic Sight. Hah. Well, didn't that just figure? But I still had it and I still had my Universal Currency Key. I had my backpack. I had my hat, boots, and relatively intact, though soiled, clothing.

    If the rood had any power in it at all, it only had enough to do one or two things right now. Shivering, I pondered various courses of action while the dark came on. No one passed along the road, and there was hardly any sound except for the leaves dripping.

    Shouldering my empty, bedraggled-looking backpack (which totally matched the rest of me, from what I could see in the dark), I walked out into the middle of the road. Now the darkness was nearly complete. At least the drizzle had stopped. The sky above darkened from gunmetal to charcoal.

    Still I wondered why they had left me the rood. Hadn't its outline shown up in any of their scanners? A Universal Currency Key can be made of anything, which is why the one in my cloak had not been found, but the rood is mostly metal, and has a definite shape. Hm. Maybe they had just considered it just another toy, like (as I continued to feel the folds of my cloak, and my pockets) my penny flute. I pulled the flute out and, in spite of all my pain and mounting anger, suddenly I felt hope and I smiled. Then I laughed aloud. It hurt (even wincing at pain hurt).

    The miraculously-unbroken flute was flimsy, but I doubted the scanners had missed it. My adversaries apparently just didn't take it and the rood seriously. Maybe they considered it sort of a joke? That was always possible.

    I was relatively certain this wasn't a test. They had learned not to test me long ago. It was something else. One of their backhanded, "you made your bed now lie in it" assassination attempts, perhaps?

    My most educated guess at the moment was that this continuum was an oubliette: Bad Magician goes in; Bad Magician doesn't come out. They perhaps had some other magicians who had pissed them off stashed here, then. There might also be some hope in that direction, if I could survive long enough to find these theoretical others.

    I held the rood up and addressed it with the necessary words; it gave a wan, barely-perceptible flicker in reply. So far, so good.

    "I ask it questions and seek truthful, short, replies. Flash once for yes and twice for no. Is there understanding?" One flicker like a weary eye, ready for sleep, opening and closing. "Is there a settlement of humans within a distance of five miles from this place?" One flicker. I nearly groaned with relief. The prospect of wet, dark miles of trudging with bruises and pain was not an enticing one, to say the least, but it was only five miles at most. I could crawl that far if necessary.

    "Are these urbanized human beings?" After a pause, one flicker, then, slowly, another. The rood was becoming moribund now that the sun was below the horizon.

    Shit. "Are these rural and village human beings?" One flicker. I waited for another but the rood remained quiet. Okay. I reflected for a moment on the best way to ask the next question, since it might be the last one. "Are these human beings civilized enough that they will not attack a stranger upon first sighting?" One flicker. Again I waited. The rood was still. Okay, so I wasn't totally screwed then. Mostly screwed, not totally screwed.

    If I was lucky, the rood would be able to answer one or two more questions. I thought carefully. Facing the tree I had sheltered under, I said, "Is the nearest settlement of human beings on my right?" After what seemed a dreadfully long pause, the rood gave two weak, shuddery pulses. It had a bit more power left, perhaps, but I decided not to ask any more questions in case I needed to do something like make a light.

    With a sigh, feeling every bruise, carefully I tucked the rood into the inner pocket of my leather vest, placed the tin flute back into the lining of my cloak, said a prayer for safe travel, settled my hat on my head, turned to my left, and started down the muddy, rutted road. Five or fewer miles. No problem!

    A desultory, drawn-out mutter from the sky announced the arrival of more rain. At least it would wash some the mud from my clothing.

    ***

    Sunrise saw me crouched hiding in bushes at the edge of a village. The sun came up and BOOM there was the heat. Mist rose in heavy billowing columns like smoke from the soaked ground. It started to get hot almost immediately. Animals penned in corrals at the village's perimeter began milling around and making noise. Fires were lit; I smelled smoke, then cooking, and my stomach complained.

    From my estimation about two hundred souls inhabited this village that sprawled for about a mile on each side of the intersection of two unpaved but heavily-traveled roads. There were some poor-looking huts at the fringes, more prosperous-appearing one- and two-story mud-and-frame houses clustering nearer the center of town, and several apparent taverns, inns, stores, and other places of business right around the intersection. A couple of these were three stories tall and included bricks in their construction: An encouraging sign.

    My arrival had been about an hour or so before sunrise and everything had been dead quiet then. There was no village lookout, another encouraging sign. Some canines had come bounding out to challenge me as I roamed around the village, but at least my personal magic was not so depleted that I couldn't silence their barking and send them off on other business.

    Past the town apparently was a rather fast-running river, judging by the sound, though I stayed out of that part due to it being where most of the herd animals were kept. The land slanted down and got rockier toward the river.

    Once the sun started to come up people showed themselves. I could see everything pretty well from where I was. This was good. I had to see how they were dressed, whether I (in my dark-brown leather breeches, boots, and vest with linen shirt, dark-brown cloak, and black hat) looked vastly different than the average denizen of this continuum, or whether I could pass with a little adjusting.

    The first people I saw were a couple of men, looked like a dad and his grown son. They left one of the huts near where I was hiding and headed in to the center of town. Roomy linen smocks over hide breeches that stopped mid-shin and heavy boots. Muted, home-dyed colors. One wore a shapeless hat that covered the top part of his head and left his ears bare. Pretty standard.

    Shortly after, I saw a couple of other guys pulling a canoe toward the river. These were wearing overcoats of some dark woven material but otherwise were a match for the first two. Awesome.

    The men here had dark hair and olive skin, and wore short beards. Their clothing was close enough to what I was wearing that I felt I would not seem alien; in fact, from what I could see, I might be able to pass for someone of breeding and education among them – someone of breeding and education who'd only a few hours earlier had waked up in the middle of a muddy road with the shit beat out of him and all his gear gone.

    I got the rood out and used its shiny back as a mirror to perfect my disguise as I hid there in the overgrowth at the outskirts of the village. The gem was still dull and nearly lifeless, but soon (was my optimistic thought) I would be able to find a nice safe place where I could start charging it. And maybe a place where I could get my hands on some local currency so I could use my currency key.

    I didn't need the rood's power to disguise myself, though to reserve as much of my personal magic as possible for emergencies I changed only my face and hands. I would have to trust Fortune that no one good a good look at the rest of me, at least until I found an ally.

    It took only a few minutes.

    There! Looking out at me from the silver surface of the rood I saw a thin-faced but raffishly handsome, sallow, long-nosed, dark-haired man about thirty or so years of age. No beard but a suggestion of five o'clock shadow. No way to disguise the big bruise next to my mouth, which gave me a disreputable look, without makeup and more magic than I could bring to muster at the moment. Oh well.

    It would be hard to keep the disguise going without the power of the rood and also a hot day was in the offing, so I would not be able to keep my cloak on as I had planned. Sleeves would have to stay rolled down, of course. With luck, I wouldn't have to stay in disguise all that long.

    Here goes Nothing.

    In my reconnaissance I had noted the main well was near the center of the village and there was another, smaller well on the road by which I had first entered: A rather picturesque little spot (or so it would have been if it hadn't been pitch black night and I had not been so worn out and in so much pain). The foot traveler ascends a steep bit of side lane into a tree-lined glade at the hill's crest featuring a sudden, most welcome view of the village below, with the little stone well beside the road like in a painting in a kids' book. There was a giant tree, heavy with some sort of apple-like fruit, planted by the well. The fruit (obviously non-poisonous, as I found only two lying on the ground after much searching) was very good. The few bites I had eaten upon my arrival to the town were not upsetting my stomach now, a couple of hours later.

    I had guessed that the people who lived in the huts, the poorer people, would get their morning water from the well at the entrance to the village, so I sneaked back to this spot as the morning light and heat grew and stationed myself there. There were benches to sit on under the gigantic trees that grew by the road. I could see back the way I had come and down into the town for a distance from here and the forest close in case I needed to seclude myself.

    I removed my cloak and spread it on some bushes near the well to dry; it certainly was soaked, no question about that, although no longer muddy, thanks to the miles of rain I had walked through to get here. I hung my poor empty backpack upside down on a branch. I set my hat at a rakish angle, took my flute out, and started to play.

    I was careful to begin with a slow, melancholy, thoughtful hornpipe expressive of (or so I hoped) the angst of a handsome and worldly, yet perhaps too-kind, too-trusting gentleman, treated rudely, robbed, left for dead at the side of lonely road.

    My skin prickled with the danger of this, to be sure. Another beating might put me down for good and I was aware of that. (Maybe that was the joke? That I would believe myself safe upon reaching a human settlement, then unwittingly do something so against local custom with the rood or the flute that I got killed for it? Hm.) I kept back from the well so as not to appear menacing and the bruised side of my face turned. I looked back the way I had come while playing as though pensively considering my future options.

    The sun was well above the trees, and I had been tootling off and on for a good long while, before I saw any women. The women from the nicer houses used the well in the village center, the poorer women came to the well where I was hanging out and I had figured this would be the case.

    Even with the obvious class division, the poorer people here were not emaciated, skulking, or dirty. That was also encouraging.

    The first few women who visited the well were matrons and housekeepers. All wore long, duster-type dresses over knee-length smocks with heavy leggings and boots, again in home-dyed colors of linen, yellow-brown, dark brown. There were no head coverings but there was very little ornamentation. Some of them had kids with them. Everyone gave me a wide berth and pretended to ignore me. The kids stared at me. No one, however, seemed alarmed or inclined to be hostile. What a relief. Their speech was recognizably English and I could understand them with some small trouble. Good, good. For my part, I pretended to be too distracted by my own problems to pay attention to them. I kept my back turned, my posture beaten and wimpish. Which wasn't difficult.

    The women got their water and some of them stood around talking for awhile, then left. No one seemed to pay much attention to me, but naturally in such a small place the appearance of a flute-playing (handsome, nice, friendly) stranger was going to cause commentary. Probably a lot of it. A gossip incubation period was required.

    I kept playing. As the sun climbed higher and the day got warmer, I picked up the pace of my playing a bit, to some more sprightly-sounding jigs and reels. (Too bad I hadn't been left with a guitar instead of the penny flute! Tootling this much was making my already-sore jaw ache like hell.)

    I was turned away from the village, leaning against a tree, staring down the road I'd entered by, and riffing exhaustedly through "Take Five," when I heard the bright voices of young women behind me. Ah, thank Fortune. I glanced over my shoulder, careful to keep the bruised side hidden, at the individuals climbing the hill to the well. There were four young women, wearing what were clearly their best outfits, only one with a child (a little boy), and an older woman wearing a more decorated version of the overdress-and-smock getup, her long hair plaited in an ornate style over one shoulder. Her mouth was a stern line and she was looking right at me.

    The other, younger, gals were pretending to ignore me as they gabbled animatedly. It was cute. The little boy, of course, stared straight at me with his finger in his mouth. He was about three, small and dark, with black hair. His mom was a knockout, a short curvy girl with glossy black hair to her waist and large round eyes as green as emeralds. She was the poorest of the group, with a best dress that had been mended over and over, but by far the comeliest.

    I kept playing. The girls laughed, chattered, and then one of them started clapping along with the song. I whirled in pretended surprise, stopped playing, then removed my hat and performed my deepest, most practiced, bow.

    Of course the women all stopped talking when I did that and a couple of them showed mild alarm. I gave them my best smarmy smile. Otherwise I moved not a muscle.

    "Good ladies! My name is Balemas Boma," I said after no one had spoken for ten seconds. "I was traveling on my way to yonder city and was set upon by robbers, as you can see. They took my food and my weapon, beat me, and left me nothing but the clothes on my back and my poor old flute!" I gave the flute a little flourish and was immensely satisfied to note how all their eyes followed it; well, except for the eyes of the older, well-dressed woman. She continued to stare right at me. "Mercifully enough, the sweet water from your well has restored me to a great degree and I thought to repay my debt, since I have no money, by providing entertainment for passersby."

    I paused to give someone else a chance to speak. There was silence. Finally the older woman stepped forward, looking at me sharply.

    "Balemas Boma," she said in a clipped, brisk tone. "You do not know our ways and you risk a great offense with your music and unseemly public bowing and capering."

    Cringing slightly, I made no reply. (Why couldn't my adversaries have left me a pair of sunglasses? I could scarcely see in this ferocious glare.)

    "Nevertheless," she went on, "our community may have a use for you." Stepping back, she gestured toward the black-haired, green-eyed girl who suddenly ducked her head and got all still and quiet. The little boy, sensing his mom's discomfiture, hid behind her skirt.

    "This is –" and here the woman pronounced a name that was like ten syllables long. The first two syllables sounded like "Lilit," so: Lilith, Lilit. Fine, that would do. "Lilit has no man and there is much wood to bring in. Lilit's man went away down the river and never returned, leaving her in shame with a brat." The woman's mouth turned down sourly. I observed that Lilit's face was now beet-red as she stared at the ground. "If you enter the village, when they find you have no money, they will beat you and perhaps kill you to take your clothes, and throw your naked body in the river. But you will stay at Lilit's house and help her bring in wood until you have recovered and perhaps longer, if that is your wish." There was another brief pause. "Is this acceptable to you?"

    Of course I couldn't grin right in her face. That is, oh, that is so never a good idea. Snatching my hat from my head, I made another, even more obsequious, bow. "Balemas Boma accepts your generous hospitality. He shall follow your wise advice to the letter, Madame, have no fear!" Still bowing, I peered ingratiatingly up into the woman's unsmiling face. "May I… please, Madame, may I play one more song for your delightful charges? The sight of their smiles and the sound of their happy voices is just the elixir I need after a harrowing night spent in the wild!"

    The woman, I could tell, didn't want anymore tunes now or ever, but the girls, including Lilit, became excited and wouldn't go until I had played another song: This time "Sharkey's Jig," and it made them clap and sway. Fortune bless them! The little boy stared and stared, sucking his thumb with fierce, scowling determination as though memorizing the scene.

    After the last notes of Sharkey's Jig had died away, the older woman uttered one or two harsh, scolding words and three of the girls floated down to the village with many a backward glance. I smiled and waved. The woman snapped at me: "Keep away from all the village men until you are healed." Turning to Lilit: "Take him to your hut." Giving me a final withering glance, she folded her hands together at her waist and followed the other three young women back to the center of the village, leaving me standing there with Lilit and the little boy.

    The beautiful girl once again became shy and stood staring at the ground. Moving with deliberation (because by this point I was basically in so much pain I could barely move at all), I took my now-dry and much more presentable cloak off the bushes and put it over my arm, shouldered my backpack.

    "Which house is yours?" I asked the girl. Mutely, she turned and pointed to a tiny, humble dwelling right at the eaves of the forest. Finally; the end of this part of this fucked-up journey was in sight. Even if I was to lie on the bare rocky ground, I would be able to lie down in relative safety. Maybe sleep. Just in time, too! One of my knees was starting to swell and ache something fierce.

    Extending my arm to Lilit, I said, "Please don't walk too quickly, my dear. I am VERY bruised up." The little boy trailed behind us as we descended the road to the village and went to Lilit's hut.

    Most of the village residents were now up and about their daily business. I could hear the voices of men in the distance but I didn't see any, or much of anyone at all, except for the small figures of people and animals moving around in the center of town, which was quite far away.

    Lilit's hut was situated a distance from the village center so – now that I knew the village men could be dangerous – that was a good feature. I intuited that in spite of Lilit's obvious beauty, she was somewhat of a pariah and didn't have a lot of visitors. More good.

    Neat stacks of wood cut to specific size showed Lilit's occupation. Now that they were home, the child obviously felt freer and darted here and there among the stacks, showing off for the stranger.

    The inside of the hut was about as big as most people's bathrooms in the continuum and city where I usually make my home, but there was a little mud and stone hearth with a fire smoldering, a table with the remains of a meager breakfast set out on it, two low stools, one window, and (oh thank all the gods) a bed: A mattress of what looked like burlap stuffed with fibrous reeds raised off the floor on a little pallet. There was a blanket. Everything was rude but clean. The dirt floor was covered with mats woven of rushes and screens made of the same rushes kept bugs from coming in the window and door. I felt like crying with relief but I didn't.

    The ceiling was so low I had to bend my neck and that was painful. "Please," I said, "may I lie on the bed? I am tired and full of hurts."

    "Shall I fetch the doctor?"

    "No… no. Don't do that. Here, let me do something…" I took the rood out of my inside vest pocket. Lilit's green eyes bugged out at the sight of the silver rood with its gems.

    The rood was still exceedingly low on energy. I would not be able to charge it properly until I had recovered a bit, but it still had a couple of tricks in it. I moved over to the window, where a shaft of light entered to lie on the floor. I held the rood in the sunlight and it started to respond. Lilit and her little boy looked on with great wonder, wordlessly. (So, I thought: They have seen magic. They know this is a magic thing. Good.)

    First I laid a spell of protection around the hut. Then, moving over to the low table, I held the rood over the remains of Lilit's breakfast (a small amount of what looked like porridge with milk and bread crusts) and spoke some words. At first nothing happened (and I got a little nervous because it seemed as though nothing WOULD happen) but finally one of the bowls of porridge started to jiggle a little, then there were some sort of wet noises and suddenly the bowl was full to the brim with large chunks of fruit swimming in cream. Lilit gasped; I saw she and the child were holding each others' hands tightly. A rich smell filled the tiny enclosure and Lilit's stomach growled audibly.

    Sitting on one of the stools, I motioned toward the bowl. "Go ahead. It's real food."

    Slowly, cautiously, first the beautiful black-haired girl and then the little boy fished pieces of fruit, dripping with cream, out of the bowl, and put them in their mouths. Pretty soon I had to use the rood again so I could have some, and then again so that Lilit and Orinye (the first three syllables of the boy's long-assed name) could have some more. Then I had to tell them to stop because eating so much fruit might make them sick.

    "You're a wizard," Lilit said simply after we had all eaten. Orinye dozed on her lap, sucking his thumb, though he continued to watch me covertly.

    "I need to sleep," I said. It was now about midday and very hot. All kinds of insects buzzed and flapped and hopped and chittered outside the screened door and window of Lilit's hut.

    The girl motioned toward the bed. Now her face was crimson and her eyes shone with tears. Of course she thought I was going to turn out to be typical.

    It was time to drop the disguise, anyway. The strain of maintaining it was giving me a blinding headache.

    I removed my hat and cloak and placed them on the table. "Bring me a towel," I grunted as I sat to remove my boots. Without speaking, the girl complied. I took a rough square of cloth from her and rubbed my face. When the towel came away, there were bloody smears with tatters of skin and clumps of hair on it. The fresh air felt good on my (real) skin. Lilit made an astonished exclamation and the little boy laughed. (Smart kid; he'd probably known all along.)

    "You are a woman!"

    Observing her keenly, I perceived that mixed in with her shock and amazement was a large measure of disappointment. How I hate doing things like this sometimes! Was there any choice, though?

    Setting the towel down, I put my hand on the girl's arm. "Don't be afraid. You're not afraid, are you?"

    After a pause, she shook her head. "No."

    "Do you ever see magicians here? Have you ever seen anyone else like me?"

    "Yes… once."

    My feeling that I had been placed into an oubliette grew stronger, as did my anger at my adversaries. Afraid to out-and-out kill me, they dump me here where I would either die or be lost forever. I get it. I get it. Well, if that's the case they made a HUGE FUCKING MISTAKE because they left me with the rood AND a Universal Currency Key BIG FUCKING MISTAKE GUYS, BIG MISTAKE.

    I realized I was clenching my jaw and that hurt, so I stopped. "Lilit," I said slowly, "go about your regular business as though nothing unusual is happening. There is a spell of protection around your hut so you will not be disturbed as long as I am here, but be vigilant around your associates anyway. Inform me at once if any of them seems not to be behaving normally. Don't worry, I will do nothing whatsoever to call attention to myself and my disguise is always ready to hand." (Especially now that the rood was holding a bit of power.)

    "I need to rest and heal. Tell me: Do you, or does anyone in your village, have money?"

    At first she just stared at me with those kelpie eyes, but then she rose and went over to the hearth, where she dug around for a moment and emerged with a little clay pot. She lifted the lid and I saw stamped coins inside. It wasn't much but it would do. It would do nicely.

    "This is very good," I said. "Go put it away now." Having doffed my boots, I limped the couple of steps from the table to the bed and gingerly, with some groaning, lowered myself to the mattress. Oh! Indeed. Pulling the blanket over my face, I fell asleep instantly.

    Some time later I woke, confused, thirsty, needing to piss. Sitting up quickly, I saw it was night. A chill, damp breeze blew through the hut. At first I thought Lilit and her son had run off, but then heard the soft sound of breathing and saw a dark, human-sized lump next to the hearth; it was Lilit, curled on the floor wrapped in a shawl, asleep, with her little son sleeping next to her.

    While I was outside peeing, I took the rood out and checked it in the moonlight. Now the gem in its center held a steady glow appreciable to regular sight.

    The rood had been so low on power when my adversaries had captured me, maybe they had thought it just another of my dumb conceits, like the penny flute. No one had ever seen me use the rood, now that I thought about it; I had only just found it and not told a single soul about the find.

    That actually might be what was going on, now that I considered everything.

    "Let her keep the silly cross!" I could imagine them sneering. "Maybe some brigand will covet it and kill her." That would be a problem solved for them, wouldn't it? And of course no Bad Magician blood on their scaly hands.

    Standing, I noticed I felt stronger but man oh man, was I ever beat up. Putting the rood away, I looked up and caught a glimpse of moon behind thick, high-flying clouds. So there's a moon here. This continuum is not that different, then. That means the rood will work much as it does in its continuum of origin. That means I can create a portal and get out. Especially if I can find another magician who has been imprisoned here by them: I can get out, I can escape. And then…?

    And then didn't those assholes make a huge mistake here? I'm going to heal and I'm going to find the other magicians they've put here and league with them whether they are good or bad, and I'll bet they'll league with me. They're going to be so damned sorry, SO damned sorry.

    I saw that Orinye was stirring when I limped back into the hut. Prodding Lilit with my toe, I woke her and indicated with gestures that she and Orinye should get in the bed, which she sleepily and with a grateful little moan did. I stretched out next to them, covering us with the blanket, and then my cloak over all. Shortly the three of us were cozy and warm, and we slept.

    ###

    So the next five words are:

    Poke
    Tease (any form of the word, noun or verb)
    Famous
    Whiskers
    Chimney

    Last edited by Red Sonja; December 16th, 2015 at 07:17 PM. Reason: typo! :(

  9. #39
    The rambunctious little tuxedo patterned figure was usurping their bush and they were NOT HAPPY. While Jasmine gave the little twirp a stare that, had it been a laser, would have halved the furry alien's body. Meanwhile, Iris' mouth let out a gargle that could only be interpreted as the growl of death, until the cat, finally taking note of the furious animals on the other side of the glass, made a beeline for the next property.

    Huh.. thought I was the current poster - Here are the last poster's words:

    So the next five words are:

    Poke
    Tease (any form of the word, noun or verb)
    Famous
    Whiskers
    Chimney

  10. #40
    Santa came down the chimney, dragging a bag of presents into the crazy cat lady's home.

    "Woooooo! Look, Saav," Pook said, her whiskers twitching.

    Saav kept snoring. Pook gave her a poke, and Saav woke up. "Huh?"

    "It's Sandy Paws!" exclaimed Pook. "You know, that famous guy with the reindeer who runs around the planet giving us presents!"

    Saav sighed. "Don't tease me. He only visits good cats. You're so bad, Mom's on medication," she replied, and went back to sleep.

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