Friday, July 30, 2010

UNSUNG HERO

This week's story is based on a tweetale I wrote sometime ago and always wanted to expand. Thanks to 3WW and #fridayflash, I found the inspiration.

UNSUNG HERO

Troy watched the seagulls wheel above the ocean, dive for clams, then guard their catches from comrades. With tourist season a memory, the gulls had to work for their meals.

A runt gull burst from the surf with a large shell bulging from its bill. In his peripherals Troy noticed a gray-winged giant intent on the smaller bird's catch. The runt soared above the cottage line, hovered as if measuring the distance. The larger bird took flight. Troy shouted to divert gray-wing's attention, but the bird disregarded him and aimed for the roofline. It swooped in just as the clam crashed on the rooftop and stole the sweet meat. The runt screeched its frustration, but gray-wing ignored the tantrum and flew away. Troy understood gull law; every bird for himself.

Troy dropped his cooler in the sand, set up his beach chair, then placed his easel before the ocean, eager to draw uninterrupted. No sunburned brats asking mister whatchya doin' or couples begging please! a souvenir, we'll pay; Troy could stare at the horizon, replicate the trawler and lazy clouds and create artwork motels paid modestly for. Not quite the life he envisioned when teachers asked what do you want to be when you grow up? but, eh, it paid. Almost enough. As long as his buddy let him crash at the beach house, Troy could afford art supplies and child support. Child support for a daughter his ex rarely let visit. Bastard lawyer. Stole his woman, his daughter and somehow, most of Troy's income.

The trawler winked off the horizon. Troy sketched enough to paint the scene later, away from the breeze and sand. He settled in his beach chair, retrieved a coke and a snack and surveyed the encroaching tide for inspiration.

Sunlight glinted off distant whitecaps, rainbow hues danced above the water. Troy opened a bag of chips. The gulls heard the crinkle. Within moments, a flock descended. Several positioned themselves to dart for fallen chips. Gray-wing flapped and squawked, bullied the competition out of range. Troy broadened his hatred of lawyers to include bullying gulls. He took off a shoe and threw it at gray-wing. The flock dispersed. Troy sketched the stragglers, tried to capture their robot-like pecks as they waded in the rising surf. A huge wave sent the remaining birds airborne.

A child-sized creature with seaweed hair and glass eyes emerged from the receding wave. With nubby appendages, the creature dragged itself beyond the tide line, settled itself onto the sand. Troy flipped a page, sketched as fast as he could.

He filled the page with a blob-like form, no legs, but a growing extension. The nubby appendages ended in two projections, the rudimentary beginnings of a thumb and hand. The neck fused into the body. If it weren't for the face, Troy would have assumed the creature was a deformed seal.

Nothing outward indicated male or female, but Troy thought female. Maybe it was the seaweed tangles, clumped like his daughter's after a day playing. Maybe it was the way the eyes sparkled clear blue, like his daughter's, smiling eyes that made him feel loved. Troy rubbed his face, waited for his vision to clear, wished damn gray-wing hadn't reminded him of bullies.

Troy sketched in details as he watched her gaze settle on him. The creature opened her mouth, closed it, opened it again. Troy ventured a smile. She dragged herself closer to his spot. Troy noticed pink skin peeking underneath flaking scales. Troy drew her aquiline nose, dainty upon her amorphous face. She wrinkled her nose, moved closer and barked.

Troy retrieved the bag of chips. She opened her mouth, kept her gaze on him. "Are you hungry, little one?" She barked again, seemed to nod. Without thinking, Troy threw her a chip. The gulls descended.

"Get away you bastards!" Troy rushed in, kicked at the birds. The creature's bark sounded like a cry—less seal-like, more human. "Leave her alone!" Troy's action dispersed all but gray-wing. The giant bird opened its bill, clamped on an appendage. Before Troy could grab her, the bird flew with the creature in its mouth.

Troy chased gray-wing as the bird struggled to stay aloft. "Greedy bastard! Drop her!" Troy kicked off his remaining shoe, lobbed it at the bird. He missed. Gray-wing rose a few feet. Runt-gull dive bombed at the bigger bird, pecked at the creature dangling in the beak. Gray-wing faltered. The child-creature wailed.

He had to throw something else. Gray-wing refused to let go as the other birds tried to steal the prize. Troy strained to hear child-cries inside the gull screeches, prayed she could survive the abuse. The attacks prevented the giant bird from gaining altitude. Troy ran back to his cooler for the soda cans. Two full ones left; he hoped that was enough.

Troy ran towards the diminishing mob, thankful the child's weight kept the melee low. The fight drifted near the shore rather than the roofline. Troy prayed they'd remain near the water.

He ignored the cramp in his side, closed the distance, and lobbed the first can. Feathers and bird poop and soda fizz rained on his head. Troy wiped his face, focused on gray wing and hurled the second can.

Runt-bird dove at the same moment. The can hit the runt-gull, hurling its body into gray-wing, knocking both birds over the ocean. Three bodies plummeted into the water. Troy raced into the surf before another greedy gull dove for the child-creature.

Sunrays dazzled upon a sleek body as it dove into the water. Troy glimpsed flowing hair, long arms, a naked bosom and a sleek tail. Water exploded as the woman-fish broke the surface, hugging the child-like creature. The creature flapped a nubby appendage at Troy before the pair disappeared into the ocean.

Troy went back to his easel, flipped the page. He drew his daughter with seaweed hair and glass eyes. No one would ever believe he saved a mer-child.

*************
*************

The 3WW words were abused, cramped and hatred. Including those words, I took this story in a different direction from the original nano-fic piece I posted on Twitter on 1/23/10:

The wave receded, revealing a child with seaweed hair and glass eyes. It barked. Scared, I threw it a Frito. Thank god for hungry seagulls.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

WHITE HORSES FLOW

This week, I rediscovered one of my favorite albums, Jeff Buckley's "Grace". This album is so good, that if I had to play the game of "If you could only listen to one album for the rest of your life, which one would it be?" I would choose this one. Those who know me would assume a Goo Goo Dolls album, but for overall emotional and resonating content, "Grace" wins. He died before the world discovered him, but I'm sure this one rates on many critics top 100 lists. Jeff performing this song is included below (if I figured out embedding properly).

The song "Mojo Pin" combined with this week's 3WW inspired this #fridayflash. A different style for me, and I'm amazed that for once, I didn't push the limits of a "flash" word count.

WHITE HORSES FLOW


Tabitha grabbed the slimy worm, didn't flinch at all as she pierced its body with the hook. She looked at her daddy, basked in his approval.

~~

Scott paddled the boat to the still pool, pulled the oars into the keel. He laid the bait box between them, smiled at his daughter's beaming face.

~~

Tabitha felt the vibration from the pole. She set the hook, just like daddy taught her, then reeled the white horse into the boat.

~~

Scott jumped when the hoof kicked his chest. He worried the thin line of oozing blood would frighten Tabitha.

~~

Tabitha cried at the sight of her dad's blood. The red oozed bright in the gray twilight.

~~

Scott touched his daughter's face, promised daddy would stay near. He closed his eyes, a victim to the pain.

~~

Tabitha screamed herself awake, tucked tighter into herself. She willed herself back to sleep, back into the boat, back to before the white horse kicked.

~~

Scott watched his daughter sleep, apologized for leaving. The light beckoned, he couldn't ignore its call.

~~

Tabitha grabbed the slimy hose, didn't flinch at all as she pierced her arm with the needle. She looked at her boyfriend, basked in his approval.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

FABULOUS FLASH AWARD

John Wiswell bestowed upon me the Fabulous Flash Award, a Jon Strother creation. I am honored and touched to receive the recognition from John (@wiswell).  The whole point of the award is to introduce new readers to the works of deserving writers. 



Before I pass this on to four others, I want to also reciprocate this one to John (though I won't make him repost or repass to four more people).  He is someone I consider a friend, though I've never met him in person and I'm not sure if that will ever happen (though I hope we do meet).  He is talented, passionate, humorous, prolific, generous and one of the best writers I know.  He knows how to use minimal words for maximum impact, and layers his stories with so much.  I often laugh out loud at his writings, and then surprise myself when days later, a nuance of his story hits me.  He never makes me feel stupid but always makes me think. 

So, now that I have received the award, I must bestow it upon other deserving writers.  The hard part is only choosing 4.  The caveat is that this will be passed on again, so more of my favorites will get recognized, and possibly, you will discover their impressive stories too.

Timothy P. Remp writes in many genres, but his passions are science fiction and fantasy. He doesn't post as often as I would like him too (yes, I'm nagging him) but when he does, he'll blow your socks off (excuse the cliche).  On occasion, he can be found lurking by the pseudonym @Tim_Remp_writer (shh! don't tell him I gave you his real name). We met in a writers' group, became friends, even wrote a story together (and it's published!) and I would not be the writer I am today without his encouragement, insights and friendship.  Visit The Event Horizon and bring an extra toothbrush.  You should probably get your EVA suit back from the drycleaners first.

Cathy Olliffe portrays the most realistic characters with humor and compassion. Visiting life on the muskoka river is like dropping in on your favorite neighbor, sitting at her kitchen table and talking for the next hour.  Sometimes she serves coffee or tea; other times she giggles, says it's noon somewhere, and gets a bottle of red and two wine glasses and enthralls you with her stories.  She always makes you feel right at home. If you are a twitter enthusiast, follow @mattiasville

Linda Simoni-Wastila  She writes everything from six sentence stories to poetry to novels.  I met Linda (and John W) through Harbinger*33.  I am indebted to that project (hope H*33 fulfills its dream!) for introducing me to writers that I now feel I can call friends.  I just read at leftbrainwrite that she finished her first draft of PURE.  Often, through #fridayflash (follow @drwasy) she gives us glimpses into her fascinating characters and situations.  When it's published, I will be at the bookstore, waiting for them to unlock the doors so I may purchase one of the first copies.  Her writing often gives me chills (not the horror kind, the insightful kind). 

The fourth person is the hardest.  So many I want to recognize.  Some (phew!) already received this honor from either John or Jon; others I know will receive it through the inevitable chain this will create.  Therefore, I'm giving the fourth spot to someone I hardly know, but I love her words.

Diandra Linneman There is this woman who lives in Germany (I think she does--her blog and twitter page say that) whom I found through #fridayflash and I follow on twitter.  I've only exchanged a few words with her, but I read most of her posts, (follow @LaCaffetnatta). She makes me laugh!  Irreverant, a bit cantankerous, impatient with her co-workers and BF, her posts are hilarious.  She's resourceful, intelligent, wry, adventerous and totally real.  I'm glad she writes, otherwise I fear for the life of her boyfriend!  No, she's not mean, she is compassionate and her stories are sharp and witty, include a touch of dark humor and often involve killing a deserving individual. 

Friday, July 16, 2010

FALSE ALARM

FALSE ALARM

This story appeared here June 2010, but has found a new horror home at Trembles. I'm so excited! Editor Gregory Thompson compared "False Alarm" to Stephen King (what a compliment!) and is including this story in the premier issue, January 2011.