Friday, April 18, 2014

Quiet Time


Lucius was kneeling in prayer as Timoni swung upside down with her knees over a ceiling beam above him.

"What'cha doing?"

Lucius ignored her.

"You're boring lately."

Lucius knew that tone, his sister wasn't being mean, just making an observation.  He felt boring, hours of mediation followed hours of prayer.  The path of a paladin wasn't as exciting as it seemed in the books he'd read.  He'd yet to learn how to smite anyone, which he thought was probably a good thing as he felt Timoni's fingers start tracing his facial features.

"Do you get extra credit if you ignore me while you mediate?"

Even with his eyes closed, Lucius could see his sister's mischievous grin, which made him smile.  Meditation would have to wait.  With one fluid movement, Lucius grabbed Timoni's arms, rose to his feet, and spun behind his sister leaving her trapped with her arms crossed across her torso.

"I'm faster than you, big brother, if you don't let me go.."

Timoni was interrupted by uncontrollable laughter as Lucius began tickling her sides.

"I told you I have to pray and meditate.  Are you going to be quiet and leave me alone?"  Lucius stopped tickling Timoni to allow her to answer.

"Hell no, I'm gonna make you pay for.."

Lucius resumed the tickling causing Timoni's knees to come free of the beam when she kicked her legs.  As she fell, her heel caught Lucius square on the chin, sending him to the floor unconscious. 

Rising to her feet, Timoni shook her head, reached for the beam she'd been hanging from and flipped herself legs back up, catching the beam under her knees.  "And, I thought you were boring before." 

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

The first two installments of this story are Magics and Origins.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Possessed

Harold studied the figure before him, bound to the chair, duct tape over his mouth, his head hanging tilted slightly to the left.  Did his eyes twitch?  They did.  The drugs were wearing off.  It was almost time.

"Wake up," Harold's soft tone camouflaged his excitement.  "Hey, wake up.  Can you hear me?"

The man in the chair opened his eyes to find Harold staring at him from a chair across a table.  The man's eyes widened and he began to struggle against the restraints.

"Relax, you're going to hurt yourself.  I assure you, you're very secure.  You aren't going anywhere."

The man continued to fight against the bindings, doing his best to kick his legs, his hands reaching for anything they could find.  Mostly, he was just jerking his head violently.  Harold found mild amusement watching the man struggle.

"As much as I am enjoying this," Harold raised his hand above the table, "I need to you stop."  Harold brought his hand down hard.  The man stopped and stared into Harold's eyes.  Harold slowly slid his hand off the table.  The man brought his gaze down to the center of the table to see the six shot revolver that now resided there.

"Good, I have your attention."

The man resumed his futile attempts to break out of his bindings  He was sweating profusely and the veins in his neck were bulging as he strained against them.

"If you don't stop," Harold reached out and picked up the gun, "I'm going to have to punish you."

The man stopped moving.

"There, now that I really do have you attention, do you know who I am?"

The man just looked at Harold.

Harold reached into his shirt pocket and pulled out a single bullet.  "You can ignore me if you like but it won't make this any more pleasant for you.'  Harold released the gun's chamber, slid the bullet in, spun the cylinder, and with a flick of his wrist locked the cylinder back in it's place.

"I like doing that.  Makes me feel like I'm in a cop movie.  Do you like cop movies?"

The man continued staring.

"I've asked you several questions that you haven't answered.  You're being very rude.  I believe people can change, either through will or environment.  I believe you can change," Harold pointed the gun at the man, "do you believe you can change?"

The man nodded his head.

"Good.  I'm a peaceful man, I would feel very bad if I had to use the environment to change you," Harold said as he turned and looked to his right.

The man followed Harold's gaze to a rusted sickle resting against the barn wall.  For the first time, the man began looking at his surroundings.

"The farmhouse burned down a decade ago.  The owners died in the fire.  Their son inherited the property but he lives down south and can't be bothered with it.  Only this old barn remains.  No animals.  No crops.  Just this barn, you, and me."

The man went back to looking at Harold.

"Do you recognize me?"

The man slowly nodded his head.

"Honesty?  That surprises me.  You know me so I assume you know why you're here."

The man's eyes grew very wide.  He began shaking his head frantically.

Harold aimed the gun at the man and pulled the trigger.

Click.

Harold lowered the gun.  The man started crying and straining against the restraints again.

"I believe in second chances, not third or fourth chances.  Do not lie to me, do you understand?"

The man did his best to calm himself, still sobbing, the man nodded his head.

"It takes a special kind of liar to lie without using words.  I know you know why you're here.  Let's try one more time.  Do you know why you're here?"

The man slowly nodded.

Harold raised the gun and pulled the trigger.

 Click.


The man jerked in the chair as his sobs became louder.

Harold lowered the gun, "Do you like movies?"

The man, struggling against his bindings, was sobbing uncontrollably.

"You're being quite rude again," Harold's relaxed tone sent a silencing chill down the man's spine.  The man lowered his head and sat motionless.

"I have three rules, do not lie, do not be rude, and look at me when I'm speaking to you.  Look at me."

With his head still down, the man raised his eyes to meet Harold's.

"I'll accept that.  Now, do you like movies?"

The man shook his head.

Harold aimed the gun and pulled the trigger.

Click.

The man only flinched.

"Everyone likes movies.  Do not lie to me."

The desperation in the man's eyes was gone, replaced by something else.

"I used to look at you like that," Harold said as he lowered the gun.  "I hated you for a long time.  I wanted to kill you.  Do you want to kill me?"

Without hesitation, the man nodded.

"When I was little, I had a dog, a mutt.  I named him Spot even though he didn't have a spot on him.  I'd seen some movie and there was a dog named Spot so that's what I named my dog.

"Spot was a stupid dog, couldn't teach him anything.  He wouldn't sit or shake or anything fun dogs do.  He just kinda laid around looking up at me like you're doing."

Harold raised the gun and pulled the trigger.

Click.

The man didn't even flinch.

Harold lowered the gun, "I hated that dog."

Harold stood, stretched his back, and sat back down, "Where are my manners, it's a bit cold in here and," Harold smirked at the man, "you're wet and shivering, would you like a blanket?"

The man clenched his jaw as best he could behind the tape and shook his head.

"Suit yourself.  Did you know urine can take the pain out of a jellyfish sting?  My little brother got stung by a jellyfish once.  We didn't pee on him.  Mom took him to the hospital while we continued to swim in the jellyfish infested waters.  Mom wasn't always the brightest.

"Do you think your mom will miss you?"

The man nodded.

Harold raised the gun and pulled the trigger.

Click.

The man flinched.

"To be honest, I wasn't counting.  I didn't figure we'd get to the sixth chamber.  I'm glad we did, I don't think this game would be as much fun if we hadn't.  Are you having fun?"

The man shook his head.

"That's what you asked her, isn't it?  Are you having fun?  That's what she told me.  Did she lie?"

The man shook his head.

"While you were sleeping, I wasn't sure I could pull the trigger.  I wanted to, just wasn't sure I could.  When you woke up, all doubt was removed.  They say the eyes are a window to our souls.  You know what I see when I look into your soul? I see what you did to her.

Harold pointed the gun at the man.

"Look into my eyes, what do you see?"

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Origins

"Tell me more about Lord Gregory," Timoni was sitting on the highest branch of the oak tree staring down at her brother.

"I can't hear you from up there," Lucius was laying in the grass on the bottom of the hill, his eyes closed to the sunlight.

"Fine, I'll come down," Timoni leaned forward letting herself fall.  As she reached the lowest branch, she grabbed it, swinging her body forward.  Releasing the branch, she flipped in midair and landed at Lucius' feet.

"Show off."

"You didn't even see me." Timoni laid down next to Lucius, "Now, tell me more about Lord Gregory.  What happened to him?"

"I don't know."

"How can you not know, you know everything about him.  Did King Finighan reward him?"

"There was no King Finighan.  I'm trying to relax, stop bugging me."

Timoni sat up on her elbows and looking at her brother.  "If there was no King Finighan, why is it called Finighan's Third War?"

Lucius turned his head toward his sister, "You're not going to leave me alone, are you?"

Timoni closed her big eyes, wrinkled her tiny nose, and shrugged her slender shoulders, smiling widely.

Lucius couldn't help the laugh he let slip.  "Finighan was the bard who wrote Third War.  It was a song about the war, it wasn't his war.  The song was so popular that a scribe wrote a book about it, The True History of Finighan's Third War."

Timoni looked puzzled, "the book is about the song, not about the war?"

"No."

"No?"

"The song was about the war, so the book is about the song about the war."

"That's dumb."

"Do you want to hear this or not?"

Timoni laid back down, "I'm listening."

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

This is a continuation of the short short story Magics

What's in a Name

Today, we are happy to welcome a special guest here at The Ranting Monkey.  Our guest has been kind enough to let me interview him for my N post in the A-Z challenge.

TRM:  First, let me take this opportunity to welcome you to The Ranting Monkey.

Guest: Thank you.  I'd say it's nice to be here but I'm not sure where here even is.

TRM: This is my blog.  I write about my life, share stories, make random observations and post them for whoever comes along to read.

Guest:  Well, that explains it.

TRM: Explains what?

Guest:  Why I have no name.

TRM: You have a name.

Guest:  Then why do you keep labeling my part of the conversation "guest"?  Or did your lack of imagination actually leave me named Guest?

TRM: Your name is not Guest.

Guest:  Then what is it?

TRM: Umm....

Guest:  I think I like Guest better.

TRM: I wasn't naming you Umm.... I was thinking.

Guest:  You say "Umm...." when you're thinking?  Doesn't that startle people?

TRM: We're getting a bit off track.

Guest:  I want a name.

TRM:  You have a name, I just don't know what it is yet.  We can come back to that.  I have some questions I think readers would like your answers to.

Guest:  I'm your brain child and you are more concerned about readers than you are about naming me?  You're a bad brain dad.  Can I call you Brain Pop? 

TRM:  It's not that I don't care about you.  It's that stopping to name you will take up all the time we have for the interview. 

Guest:  I'm not going any further until I have a name, Brain Pop.

TRM:  Don't call me Brain Pop, it sounds like a popsicle for zombies.

Guest:  Your secretary promised me a name if I agreed to the interview.

TRM:  I don't have a secretary.

Guest:  Sure you do.  Janice, sweet girl, nice rack.

TRM:  I don't even know a Janice.

Guest:  What, you're the only one who can make up people?  At least I had the decency to name her.

TRM:  Fine!  I'll give you a damn name.

Joe:  Really?  Joe?  Reached way down deep into the creative recesses of your mind for that one, didn't ya, Brain Pop?

TRM:  Do you want a name or not?

Joe:  Yeah but I want it to grab people's attention.  I want a strong name, like Mephistopheles only less evil.

TRM:  I'm beginning to not like you.

Mephistophunny:  Cute.  Now fix it.

TRM:  Sorry, that's all the time we have for today.  Join us next time as we delve further into my psyche and expose my inadequacies.

Mephistophunny:  I want to go live with Brain Mom.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Magics

Magic was abundant in this land of wizards,warlocks, and witches.  You couldn't toss a wand without hitting a mage or sorceress.  Some had a natural talent, some spent decades studying the arts.  Clerics, paladins, and druids channeled the power of their gods, necromancers combed the darkest corners of the world looking for spells to bring forth nightmarish creatures of bone and rotting flesh.

Not everyone practiced the magical arts.  There were huntsmen and farmers and fisherman, too.  Blacksmiths and bankers, bakers and barmaids, all with their own story to tell.  But for Lucius Frey, the only stories worth reading were magical tales, The True History of Finighan's Third War was his favorite.  As a child, Lucius would recreate the final battle of the paladin Lord Gregory of Maldonia's march against the undead armies of Demetri the Tormentor, a tiny carpenter's hammer served as his ice bound war mace.

Lucius always made Timoni play the part of Demetri. Timoni didn't mind, she was happy to act the part, if only to please her older brother.  With the battle over, Lucius would climb Whispering Mount to face Demetri.  Dutiful to her brother's tellings of the tale, Timoni would open with a fireball, a red marble she had once found while digging in the yard.  Lucius raised his magical shield, a dented steel serving tray his mother gave him, sending the fireball back to its caster.  While Demetri was stunned from the fireball, Lord Gregory raised his mace and struck Demetri with all his might, turning him into a statue of solid ice.

"Hey, that hurt.  Lord Gregory didn't hit Demetri in the head."

"Well, he should have, shouldn't he!  He was the most evil wizard of all time, where else would you hit him?"

"How about in the chest like you told me he did?  I'm not wearing a helm, dung face."

"I'll show you a dung face," Lucius said, laughing as he raising his mighty hammer above his head.  Timoni rolled out of the way, giggling as she stood and started to run.      


                                         ------------------------------------------
Origins continues this tale.

I had already written my M post when I read Josie's prompt for Two Shoe's Tuesday.  I could have just used the other one but Magic as a prompt conjured this little tale. Check out the other entries at the link.

In the Moment

I remember the first time a book pulled me into the story, the first time I was there watching what was happening rather than just reading an account of it. 


When I was 10 or so, one of my older brother's friends had a garage sale. My brother and I went over and were having a look around when I spotted a big box full of Mad and Cracked magazines.  His mom was making him sell them, the whole lot could be had for 2 bucks.  I ran home and asked mom if I could get them, excited to see her son excited to read, she said yes.  I read the entire box repeatedly.

That's how I learned to love reading which is probably more appropriate to my character than anyone realized at the time.  I hated what the teachers wanted me to read.  There was not a single book I was ever required to read that I would have chosen myself but I had found a love of reading.  From Mad and Cracked, I moved on to Agatha Christie and the complete works of Lewis Grizzard. 

Years later, at the local library, I was on a mission.  I wanted to find a good detective series to read, a good old fashioned hard boiled dick.  It took several trips for me to find the nameless detective series.  I was amused by him not having a name but from the jacket, it was exactly what I was looking for.  I grabbed the oldest of the group and took it home.  Read it cover to cover in one sitting and headed back to the library the next day to get a few more. 

Like a lot of series, the first book was good but not great.  The characters were still developing and the plot wasn't real deep.  As the books went on, the characters came to life.  The cases became intricate and engaging. 

I don't remember which book in the series it was.   I don't remember the case or the particulars that led to the final battle between our nameless hero and the villain of the story.  All I remember is the final battle.  As I read the words, my heart started racing, I caught myself holding my breath, I was cheering for the nameless hero out loud.

In that moment, I was in that moment. 

When I finished the book, I flipped back and read the scene again.  Heart racing, holding my breath, I read that same passage over and over. 

I've read a lot of books.  Some are good, great even, but very few have matched that intensity.  The memory of that feeling keeps me reading, looking for the next book that can draw me in like it did.  It's quite an addictive feeling and I have Mad and Cracked magazine to thank for it.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Looking

I'm very excited.  I'm not sure I want to say about what.  I've been told that sharing plans is a sure fire way to be sure they never see fruition.  I can see the sense in that, telling someone about your dreams can be discouraging.  All too often such sharing is met with either derision or worse yet, no real response at all.  In the former you can at least get the "I'll show them" attitude.  When your dreams are met with nothing, there isn't a whole lot of motivation.

That's not where my hesitation comes from.  For me, it's me that's the problem.  I have been excited about so many things that these days, when I do get excited I start remembering all the things I've started and never finished.  I'm the boy who cried "I have an idea!"

This time feels different.  I've known I want to do something for the past few years, I just wasn't sure what that something was.  I'm good at a number of things and I've tried many of them with great initial enthusiasm. On average, it takes me about a week to get bored.  It's not that I couldn't do any of those things, it's that my heart wasn't in them.  I was looking for an escape instead of looking for a destination.

That's a powerful thought to hit you in the shower, one that can leave you standing with shampoo in your eyes a bit too long.

Wanting to escape isn't a bad thing.  If you're unhappy, you should look for ways to break out of it.  But if you have no destination, what are you accomplishing.  You could find yourself in a similar circumstance or one that makes you long for the good old days of only being unhappy.  Focusing only on the escape can also lead to discouragement when you keep trying to escape and failing miserably.  

As I was writing this, another thought struck me.  This time I'm not looking for an escape or even a destination.  I'm looking for the journey.  The experience.  A vacation from my usual routine.  My heart is in it.  Completely. I'm excited.  It may not be what I've been looking for but it's what I need right now.  And right now, that's enough for me.