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I don't have anything new and clever - Page 11 - Public Member Blogs - Posted: 30th Apr, 2016 - 12:09pm

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The Writer - Fifty-two Stories Project - Short Stories
Post Date: 23rd Apr, 2016 - 9:05am / Post ID: #

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I sold another story! How crazy is that? If only I had known how fun writing was, I wouldn't have wasted fifty years of my life not doing it. And if I can do it, anybody can. Now I'm wondering if I can make it a hat trick. And I just spent the last hour or so, re-editing the Halfchance story:

FROM DARKNESS TO LIGHT
By Ken Green
Halfchance awoke with a start. The boat was moving, and it shouldn't have been. She rolled to her knees and felt for the mooring rope. On this moonless night, open eyes told her no more than closed eyes would. But this boat was her home, and she knew every inch of it.
Her hands found the rope, and pulled it in. Somebody had cut it, sent her adrift. Kids, probably, overfed townie kids having a laugh. She fumed. Untying the rope would have been prank enough, cutting a good rope is a crime.
"Serves me right for being careless, staying in the harbor" she told the empty air, "Nobody wants a fatherless child laying around. What good comes from a child of sin? But where did I drift to?"
She looked to the sky, but the stars were churlish, and hid behind clouds. So she listened. The night birds were quiet, and chickadees hadn't started. An hour to dawn, give or take. She could smell pickle weed, so she was still close to land. But how close? She lay back down, rest her head on the planks, and listened with her inner ear.
An arm's length below her, Old Belial swam, dreaming his ancient dreams. She held a long breath as he passed under. As big as a schooner and strong as temptation, he could flip her small boat with a gesture. Then she'd be a nice snack for his cronies. She squinched her eyes closed, bit a knuckle, and damn near peed her kilt, but he was deep in his dream and took no notice of her. The boat rocked, and he was gone. She sat back up and shook her head. Best not stay too long in a gator's mind, lest she be seduced and forget she's a girl. Gators are tricky like that.
Widow's Cove, then. Belial's kingdom. Damn kids near to murdered me, just to have a laugh. Townies.
Grabbing her barge pole, she stood. No time to tarry. You're in the devil's dining room, girl. Best leave before breakfast is served.
Dreading to do it, she dipped her barge pole into the water. Ready to push off, but push off to where? She had no bearings. Which way was she pointed? She listened to the sky, and it offered no help. If stars had thoughts, they held them close. Stuck-up stars, screw the lot of them and their mothers, if stars have mothers. Who knows such things?
Her peepers were no help either. For sure, this night is darker than me dear mum's heart.
She heard a splash to starboard. Blind Geryon had found a sleeping duck, and crawled up on the bank to enjoy his meal, his bum foot making slapping sounds in the mud. Think, think, think. Widow's cove. Which bank is muddy? The north one. So I'm facing west. As good a bearing as any. Let's go, girl. You might get out of here alive.
She pushed off, and poled slowly, listening for minds. Abraxas lie ahead, and she had to steer around him. Ilbis surfaced to port, and hissed. She poled faster. She'd overstayed her welcome.
The front lifted as the boat slammed into Orcus. She heard him thrash, and felt his breath on her shin. Blindly, she swung the barge pole.
"No, gator! Bad gator!" she yelled to the darkness. The pole hit something, maybe his snooter, maybe his ass. He rammed the boat, and it neared to tilt over, But Halfchance shifted her weight and lifted the pole over her head. All or nothing now, strike true or go swimming. Do you want to be a gator's treat?
She spun the stick and brought it down hard. The shock went up her arms, and she staggered. She heard a hiss and splash. Orcus sulked off.
"That's right, you bastards!" she called out. "There's plenty more where that came from! Who's feeling brave now?"
In the distance, Belial roared.
"Maybe," Halfchance whispered, "But not this night."
An hour of poling took her to Stinkweed Bayou. The sky brightened as the sun teased the horizon.
"About time you showed up, you lazy bastard," she said with a smile, "Where were you when I needed you?" The sun had no answer, but she wasn't expecting one. She dropped her basket overboard and took a quick look around her. Nobody else fished in Stinkweed, but a girl can't be too careful. If anybody saw her trick, they'd hang her for sure.
Nobody around. She knelt on the planks and sang her calling song.
"Bright, bright sun, and fat, fat flies,
And who can count the devil's lies?
Quick of tail, and quick of fin,
Here's my basket, jump on in."
Drum fish jumped into the basket, and soon it was full. Thank you, Lord, for making fish so bloody stupid. She leaned over, got a good grip, and lifted the heavy basket. It was a struggle, getting the basket in. The boat tried to capsize. And then where would I be? Would Belial come find me, and make me his queen? She shuddered at the thought. No, Belial is lazy and rarely leaves his cove. Most likely, I'd just drown and get ate by the fishies. A fair enough fate, seeing as how I've eaten so many of them.
The water settled. She glanced at her reflection, then leaned forward to peer into her eyes. The brown and the blue. Caine had his mark, and she had hers.
"Everybody knows what Caine did, but how did I offend thee?" she asked the sky, "How can I repent if I don't know my sin?" True to form, the sky had no answers. Might as well ask Belial.
It don't nearly seem fair. Most folks get born with just one sin, why must I carry two? And this hair. Red as the fire I'll burn in forever. It looks like a rat's nest. I should be charging rent.
"What are you looking at?" her reflection asked her.
"That's a question I ain't puzzled out yet." She said.
"I see a girl, plain as day."
"Aye, plain of face, and thin and poor. A prize no man would seek. Do you think a blind man might love us?" she asked.
"Only if he was deaf as well, so as not to hear your braying voice."
"Deaf and blind. He's quite the catch. How will he find us, then?"
"He'll follow his nose. You stink to high heaven, you know."
They both threw their heads back and laughed at that.
"So, no lovers for us, then?"
"Just the ones on the ends of your wrists."
Her eyes grew wide. "Nasty thing! Shame on you!"
Water Chance just laughed.
"Still, it must be nice to be loved." She said.
"Mayhaps it is. We'll never know."
"Oh, don't be so gloomy. Don't be in your moods."
Water Chance shrugged. "We're a woman now. We change with the moon."
"Are we truly women? How old are we now?"
Water chance pondered. "Three handfuls, I make it, give or take a few summers."
She tried counting them, but kept running out of hands. She wound up standing on one foot.
"Fifteen?" she asked, "Are you sure about that?"
Her reflection sighed. "Tonight, when you say your prayers, thank the good lord for making you pretty."
"I shall, as soon as he gets around to it."
"Well, he sent us the curse, mayhaps a blessing will follow."
Chance frowned. "I wish not to speak of the mysteries. This game was more fun before you got hairy and weird."
"I didn't ask to. Time is the tide that sweeps us along. It asks not where we wish to stray."
"The tide. The tide!" she gasped, "I must soon away."
"Well, go if you must. But before you do!"
"Yes, my love?" she asked.
"Put a damn top on, you wee godless heathen. The sun is up, and Jesus might be looking."
"Oh!" her hands shot to her chest to cover her meager assets. She used her foot to open the gunny box, and bent down to dig through it. She found her chemise, and, with a quick glance towards heaven, slipped it on.
"Better now?" she asked her reflection.
"You wear a whore's castoff. Have you no pride?"
"I am a whore's castoff. Why should I be proud? Besides, it's silk. I'll never have finer."
"It's too big for you."
"Darla's a big girl. It's pretty. And it smells good." She pulled the cloth up to her nose. It still smelled like Darla's perfume. Well, the clean parts did!
"Well, you'd best get going then."
Halfchance plunged her barge pole into the water and dispelled her reflection.
She poled her way toward Hadley. Stinkweed gave way to bulrush, and bulrush gave way to cordgrass as the water grew more salty. The marsh met the harbor, and Hadley lie before her.

New story tomorrow, I'll make it as good as I can, see you then.

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Post Date: 24th Apr, 2016 - 3:57pm / Post ID: #

KenGreen Blog
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Blog KenGreen

I actually forgot to post this morning. I remembered while I was grocery shopping, and promptly forgot again. I must be getting old.
Here's this ' story:

Olivia went to the keg and ladled herself a pint of small. Staring into nothing, she raised the tankard to her lips and took a sip. Hmm. Beer for breakfast. My mother would be scandalized. Of course, she won't be born for another thousand years or so. Not my worst batch, a bit chewier than the last one. I'm getting better at this.
She peered into the porridge-like drink. That's funny, I used to think beer was something one could see through. Oh well, I guess it's better than cholera.
"Liv!" Darla came running down the stairs, "Something is happening in the street!"
Together they walked to the door and unbarred it, cracked it open, and took a look. The Romans were in the town square, stomping around and shouting in Latin.
"Can you make out what they're saying?" Darla asked.
"They're organizing a work detail."
The Romans were press ganging the men of the village, arming them with picks and shovels and other implements of destruction.
"Oh crap," Olivia said, "They're going to build something." Damned Romans were always building something, or tearing something down so they could build something else.
Darla took Olivia's tankard and sipped it. "Why don't you filter this?"
"Fiber is good for you," Olivia replied, "And our guests like their beer al dente. Oh, crap, Antonius is coming this way." She glanced at Darla, who was still in her dressing gown. "Put some clothes on, woman."
Darla sighed and headed for the stairs.
Olivia opened the door fully.
"Legate," she greeted him, "What a pleasant surprise to see you so early in the day. What can I offer you?"
"The services of your kitchen, Innkeeper. We're taking a work detail up Hogshead hill, and they'll need to be fed. You'll be baking bread today."
"Always an honor to serve the glorious empire," Olivia chimed.
"Guard your tongue, girl. My people inverted sarcasm."
"No they didn't, the Greeks did."
"What do you mean… "
"Sound the the word out." Olivia said, "'Sar-cas-um'" Does that even sound like a Latin word? No. Because it's Greek."
"How is it that a barbarian tavern wench is so learned? Never mind that, just bake my damned bread." He turned toward the door and was almost run over by a burly soldier carrying a huge sack of flour.
"Coming through, where do you want this, Celt?" the soldier asked.
Olivia pointed toward the kitchen. Darla came down the stairs in her town dress.
"You might as well go change," Olivia said, "We're not going to market. Market came to us."
"Huh?"
"Today we are a bakery. On government contract."
"Huh?"
Olivia filled in the details, Darla put on her work clothes, and they both set to the task. They had finished the first batch when a Roman woman wandered into the dining room. She was a tiny thing, maybe sixteen years old, wearing a very fine toga and some damn nice jewelry.
"Welcome to the Bull. How may I serve you, Citizen?" Olivia asked.
"Oh, I... I don't need anything. I just… I normally stay at the camp, but it gets so boring and I thought I would visit the village, and see how the simple folk live."
"The simple folk," Darla said.
"That would be us," Olivia surmised.
"Oh, where are my manners? I am Jocasta, wife of Legate Antonius."
Huh. The legate is married. Isn't that interesting?
"Well, I am Olivia, proprietor of the Bull, and this is my partner, Darla."
"Dar-la", the woman said, "That's the name my husband says in his sleep."
Oh. This just got good.
"Are you sure I can't get you something to drink?" How does one address a legate's wife? "M'Lady?"
"Oh, alright," Jocasta said, "I'll have what you're having."
"Oh, no, M'Lady, small beer is a peasant's drink, hardly fit for the refined tastes of a daughter of Rome. I think I have something more to your liking." Olivia went to the bar, rummaged around, and found a small crock. Darla leaned over the bar too see what she was up to.
"Squire," she whispered, "That is the Christmas mead!"
"Only the best for the wife of Antonius," Olivia whispered back.
"Well, give it to her in small cups. You know how strong it is."
"Oh, let the poor girl have some fun. You heard her, she said she was bored."
"This is mischief. I'll never forgive you if you get us crucified."
"Is everything alright back there?" Jocasta asked.
"Everything is fine, M'Lady." Olivia found a reasonable clean tankard, spit into it, and ladled up some mead. She stood and handed the tankard to Jocasta, who took a sip.
"Oh! That's very refreshing. I've never had mead before. It's delightful."
"Yes, and we have plenty. So drink up, M'Lady."
She took another sip, and looked around.
"Why on earth are you making so much bread?" she asked.
"It's for the work crews, M'Lady. We need to make much more, so… "
"I could help!" Jocasta, offered, and took a bigger sip.
"Are you sure you want to do that, M'Lady?" Olivia asked.
"Why not?" Jocasta sipped some more, "It'll be fun!"
"Yes, fun," Darla said, giving Olivia dagger eyes.
"But, first, I'll be needing more of this." Jocasta handed the tankard back to Olivia.
An hour later, Three more batches were made, Jocasta was covered in flour, and laughing her head off.
"I can't remember a day that I've enjoyed as much as this one," she said, "The other wives at the camp are so boring. They're mean, too. I think they talk about me behind my back. But I feel like I can say anything to you two girls."
"Oh, you can, M'Lady," Olivia encouraged her.
"I love you two. We should do this all the time," Jocasta said, then leaned forward and kissed Darla.
An hour after that, four more batches were made and were cooling on the big banquet table in the dining room. Jocasta was crying.
"I love my husband," she whined, "And I want to please him, but sometimes he takes so long in bed. I just want him to finish so I can go to sleep."
"Oh, there's a remedy for that." Darla leaned over and whispered into Jocasta's ear.
"You mean, I just stick my finger up his… "
"Yes. As far as it will go."
"But won't that hurt him?"
"He's a soldier, he can take it. Besides, think of all the times he's angered you."
"You're right. He deserves it."
An hour after that, Olivia were stacking the last of the loaves on the big banquet table and Jocasta was passed out, stark naked, on a table in the corner. Two burly soldiers came in to fetch the bread and load it on their wagon.
"Isn't that the legate's wife?" the younger of the two soldiers asked.
"No, soldier, it is not," the older of the two soldiers answered, "In fact, there is no woman over there at all. I do not see anything unusual, and neither do you."
"But, she's right there… "
"No, soldier, she is not. I only have three years left in my term of service. Therefore, there is no woman over there at all. I do not see anything unusual, and neither do you."
Olivia went to the keg and ladled herself a pint of small. Staring into nothing, she raised the tankard to her lips and took a sip. Hmm. Beer for breakfast. My mother would be scandalized. Of course, she won.

Post Date: 25th Apr, 2016 - 8:16am / Post ID: #

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This was a bit of fun. I joined a new Facebook group, and on of the members posted a writing challenge: She provided the first two sentences, and I did the rest. So I guess this is actually a collaboration.

EXERCISE 04.23.16
By Ken Green

It was a still night. Lull, cold and full of gloom. There was breeze that smelled of fresh dew, the kind you only smell after a rainstorm. Halfchance shivered and pulled her shawl tighter. In the distance, she heard voices, speaking in Latin.

"Bloody Romans," she muttered, "What are they up to?"

Curiosity piqued, she climbed down from her nest. Her bare feet squished in the rotting leaves of the forest floor, still wet from the rain. She hurried to catch up with the procession.

Where are you going, you snail eaters? Why would you leave your camp at night? She counted a half dozen torches, but there were at least twice that many men, crashing through the woods, making less noise than drunk oxen might. A dozen men, led by… a lady?

A fancy lady, too, in a fine white toga and shiny jewelry. I wouldn't mind having some of that. I could use it to bait a pixie trap. Hexweaver would pay plenty for pixie dust.

The fancy lady stopped in her tracks, turned to look Halfchance's way.

Halfchance froze in place. You couldn't have heard me. I'm as quiet as fog.

#

"What is it, M'Lady?" Caius asked, his voice hushed.

"We are not alone," Jocasta said.

The guards drew their swords and formed a circle around her, peering into the darkness, but saw nothing but trees. The torches had spoiled their night vision, and Romans can't smell anything over the garlic on their own breathes. Halfchance stilled her breathing and slowed her heart.

"Are you sure? I see nothing. Did you hear something?"

"Over the clanking of your armor? No, I heard nothing. I thought I felt the presence of… a girl. A child."

"Surely you're mistaken. Even a Pict wouldn't allow his children to wander the forest in the dead of night. Even savages don't have cat's eyes. They would be as blind as we are."

"You're right. And time is fleeting. We must press on."

The march resumed.

#

Halfchance waited while the Romans barked their filthy language at each other, understanding maybe one word in ten. She had near to peed her kilt when they drew their swords, but all they did was stand around and talk.

If they make much more noise, they'll bring a horde of mefs, and that'll be the end of them. Probably be the end of me, too. Mefs don't like anybody that isn't one of them.

Then the Romans were walking again. Good sense and curiosity battled in Halfchance's mind, and curiosity won. She followed. The forest grew more dense, and the swordsmen were using their short swords to hack through the brush.

Bugger this, it won't end well. That much noise will bring the mefs for sure. Best go home. Halfchance turned to walk away. In the torchlight, she saw a carved stone. A boundary marker. No. No, no, no. How could I be so stupid?

Frantic, about to break into a run, she heard the chittering sounds the mefs used as speech. They were coming from all sides, and they were many. Can't run, nobody runs faster than an arrow. She reached into her belt pouch for a charm but only found a sprig of Black Hanna root. Behind her, she heard screams as the first arrows found homes in Roman flesh.

She grimaced and chewed the bitter root, gagging at the taste of death. Her lips grew numb, and trickles of the thin, black liquor ran down her chin. Her vision blurred. She chanted:

"I close my eyes,

And count to ten

I die so I

Can live again."

Her heart stopped beating. Her knees gave out. She collapsed onto the forest floor.

#

Aeolius was the first to die. An arrow found his throat and he dropped his torch onto the wet leaves. Eyes wide with disbelief, he tried to pluck the arrow out, but was peppered by a dozen more. Marcus suffered a similar fate, and fell next.

Jocasta screamed. She turned to run, but was pushed to the ground. Something big and filthy ran past her, impossibly fast. She heard the meaty sounds of clubs hitting flesh and crushing bones. She heard the screams of men and something that sounded like laughter. Then a sudden pain, and she heard nothing.

#

Dawn. Halfchance got her hands under her, pushed herself up, tried to stand, and failed. Life hadn't fully returned to her legs yet. She braced herself against a nearby tree, and tried again. This time she succeeded, but at a cost. A wave of nausea swept over her, and she threw up the last of the Hanna root. She reached down for some oak leaves, chewed them, and spit them out, stained black from the foulness of death.

Again she shivered. Despite the warm morning light, she was as cold as the grave. She took an experimental step to see if she could walk. She staggered but did not fall. Feeling was returning to her extremities. The root's effects were fading.

She looked around her. The clearing was littered with Romans and bits of Romans. She found a torso and bent to take its purse. The purse wasn't very heavy, but Halfchance had simple needs.

#

Jocasta stared in horror. Her personal guard, twelve of the bravest men she had ever known, lay butchered on the forest floor. No, not butchered. Butchery is something done by men. Her guards had been torn apart by… what? A creature? A score of creatures? A force of nature? She did not know. Whatever had done this had left. In the morning light, nothing moved.

Until something did. A filthy little barbarian child wandered into the clearing, descended upon Antonius, and stole his purse.

"No," Jocasta said, "Get away from him, you little Pict whore."

She stood, and her head throbbed with pain. Unsteady, she staggered toward the little beast, and drew her ceremonial dagger.

Slaying the little red-haired harlot would be poor vengeance, but often a maiden must accept the gifts the gods send her way. Woozy, Jocasta closed in on her prey.

Glancing up, the Pict snarled a warning in her barbaric tongue.

"Filth, you dare speak in the presence of a priestess of Venus?" Jocasta scolded, "I will gut you like a trout, you foul… "

The flame-haired trollop slapped the dagger out of Jocasta's hand, reversed her grip, and punched Jocasta with the pommel, right in the Mons Veneris. Jocasta doubled over in agony. With her free hand, the beastly child grabbed Jocasta's hair and gave it a twist.

"Ow! Unhand me, you filthy little slut! I am a ... "

Re-reversing her grip, the child slapped Jocasta on the cheekbone with the flat of the blade. The blow stung, but Jocasta's pride was the true victim.

The girl spat out a stream of her incomprehensible language, then said, "Pax Romana."

"Roman peace? What are you trying to say?" Jocasta sputtered.

The girl frowned. Then, "Close mouth hole, Roman girl-dog procuress. Me boss, act with correctly."

"You can't even speak properly, you disgusting little… "

The girl yanked on Jocasta's hair again and touched the priestess's lips with the tip of the dagger.

"Pax Romana. Me boss. You girl-dog."

Jocasta sighed. "Fine. Pax Romana. You are the boss. I will obey."

#

Halfchance smiled. She tucked the fancy dagger into her belt, then tore the earring from her captive's lobe. Then she took the ribbon from the fancy lady's hair, made a loop, and bound her hands. Only then did she release her grip on the Roman's hair.

"We walk now," she said.

Jocasta was crying. Blood dripped from her ruined earlobe.

Halfchance tugged on the tether.

"Well, that's what you get for talking so mean to me, and for a pulling a knife. You're not so fancy now, are you?"

Eventually, Jocasta stopped complaining, and they walked in silence.
#

After an eternity of walking, the wretched child halted in another clearing.

"Why are we stopping here?" Jocasta asked, "What are… "

The child shushed her, suddenly fearful.

From ahead came voices, calling out in proper Latin. A patrol!

The girl tugged on the tether, drew the dagger, and pressed it to Jocasta's ribs.

"Call… call out. Pax Romana. Make nice talk."

"Soldiers!" Jocasta cried out, "I'm over here!"

Soldiers came running up the path, saw Jocasta and her captor, drew their swords.

"Priestess, has this vermin harmed you?" asked the leader.

"It is nothing." She looked down to her tiny captor, "Well? What now, Boss?"

The girl tremble at the sight of the swordsmen. "Denarii," she said, softly.

"You heard the girl. Give her your purses."

"Romans do not pay tribute to… "

"Call it ransom then. No, call it tuition. She has taught me humility. The temple will reimburse you."

The leader gathered his men's purses, tied the strings together, and tossed them to the girl. She caught the bundle, released the tether, and ran for her life.

One of the soldiers drew a dagger and prepared to throw it.

"No," Jocasta ordered, "Let her go. Take me home."

End.

Post Date: 26th Apr, 2016 - 8:44am / Post ID: #

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Page 11 Blog KenGreen

When humanity becomes extinct, who will take our place?

ARCHEOLOGY
By Ken Green

"We found another one," Cupcake said.

"Show me," Professor Mittens commanded.

Cupcake turned and led the way to the dig, tail twitching behind her.

She'll be in heat soon, Mittens reflected, And we'll lose a day of excavation while half the crew takes turns mounting her.
Hopefully, there won't be any fights. I should order all the males to trim their claws. Can't have anybody losing an eye.


They arrived at the dig. Cupcake leapt into the pit, landed on all fours, and stood upright. Seeing her below him, he had to fight the urge to do a "Death from above" attack.

For all our pretensions of civility, we really are the slaves of our genes. He leapt down and stood beside her.

"Well?" he asked, "Where's the find?"

"Huh?" Cupcake huhed. A beetle had emerged from the exposed dirt wall of the pit, and she stared at it with the fascination that all predators have for moving objects. "Oh, yeah. This way, Professor. We found them in a shower stall."

Mittens shuddered. Of all the human artifacts they had uncovered, that was the one that gave him the creeps. Humans would actually enter a chamber where water would spray on them! For the longest time, the prevailing theory was that the stalls were torture devices, but none of the dig sites showed evidence of coercion. In no case were the remains bound by restraining devices. The stalls didn't have locks. Many of them didn't even have proper doors, just a curtain.

The inevitable conclusion was that they entered the chambers voluntarily. Mittens shuddered.

"Judging from the positions of their bodies, it looks like they were having S-E-X," Cupcake said, in hushed tones.

"Let's not jump to conclusions," Mittens cautioned her.
Still, it was not unlikely. From reconstructions of their literature, it appeared that humans had had no fixed breeding season. They just seemed to do it whenever they wanted to. No wonder their civilization failed, and they went extinct. It's amazing they ever got anything done.

"The weird thing is, they were doing it face-to-face," Cupcake said, "How weird is that?"

Mittens shuddered. To think such perverts once ruled the
Earth. Amazing.

"Where are the remains?" Mittens asked, wishing to change the subject.

"Oh, we've already removed them. Sooty and Oreo are sorting them out in the work tent."

Cupcake stepped into the narrow stall.

"How would that even work?" she asked, "Doing it face to face to face? What would you even call that? 'Monkey style'? Do you think they called it that?"

She braced her paws on the shower walls and tilted her pelvis provocatively.

"Miss Cupcake, I think you are exceeding the bounds of scientific inquiry, and even those of civility"

"I'm just trying to figure out the mechanics of it. How would you even get it in me? I mean, how would one… Can you even image looking in somebody's face while mating? That would be so… weird."

"Miss Cupcake, this discussion is… "

"Professor," she said, breathlessly, "I wish to propose an experiment."

"No," he said, "Absolutely not. This discussion is over. In fact, I am tempted to remove you from this project entirely."

"But you won't, Professor," she said, "Because in two days,
I'll be in heat, and you'll be on top of me, biting the back of my neck, and you're already thinking about how much you're going to like it."

"I... " he bit back his reply. Damn the little minx, she's right. Forty-eight hours from now, I will be nothing more than a mindless beast, with no thought other than want to put a litter of kittens in her. Despite our aspirations, we are nothing more than slaves to our biology, and victims of evolution.

"That is quite enough. In the future, I will thank you to keep your speculations on such matters to yourself. We are here in the pursuit of science after all." I need to get out of here. I need to… chase something. Work off this energy.

He walked to the edge of the pit, took a good long look at the rim, and leapt out.

Post Date: 27th Apr, 2016 - 8:38am / Post ID: #

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Today's offering is a re-write of the "Exercise 04.23.16" story. I went back to it to address the two biggest weaknesses in my stories: setting, and fight scenes. I also gave it a proper title. Here it is:

PAX ROMANA
By Ken Green
The rain had stopped, and the moon peered from behind the clouds. Brigga woke to the sound of voices, speaking in Latin.
"Bloody Romans," she muttered, "What are they up to?"
Curiosity piqued, she crawled from her lean-to and stood. Her bare feet squished in the rotting leaves of the forest floor, still wet from the rain. She snuck up on the procession.
Where are you going, you snail eaters? Why would you leave your camp at night? What are you doing in my woods? She counted a half dozen torches, but there were at least twice that many men, crashing through the underbrush, making less noise than drunk oxen might. A dozen men, led by.a lady?
A fancy lady, too, in a fine toga and shiny jewelry that glinted in the torchlight. I wouldn't mind having some of that. I could use it to bait a pixie trap. Hexweaver would pay plenty for pixie dust. Must remember to dry the pixie thoroughly before pounding it to powder. Nobody wants to buy pixie mush.
The fancy lady stopped in her tracks, turned to look Brigga's way.
Brigga froze in place. You couldn't have heard me. I'm as quiet as fog.
#
"What is it, Revered Priestess?" Caius asked, his voice hushed.
"We are not alone," Jocasta said.
The guards drew their swords and formed a circle around her, peering into the darkness, but saw nothing but trees. The torches had spoiled their night vision, and Romans can't smell anything over the garlic on their own breathes. Brigga stilled her breathing and slowed her heart, just like Hexweaver had taught her.
"Are you sure? I see nothing. Did you hear something?"
"Over the clanking of your armor? No, I heard nothing. I thought I felt the presence of.a girl. A child, on the verge of womanhood."
"Surely you're mistaken. Even a Celt wouldn't allow his children to wander the forest in the dead of night. Savages don't have cat's eyes. They would be as blind as we are."
"You're right. And time is fleeting. We must press on."
The march resumed.
#
Brigga waited while the Romans barked their hated language at each other, understanding maybe one word in ten. She had near to peed her kilt when they drew their swords, but all they did was stand around and talk.
If they make much more noise, they'll bring a horde of mefs, and that'll be the end of them. Probably be the end of me, too. Mefs don't like anybody that isn't one of them.
Then the Romans were walking again. Good sense and curiosity battled in Brigga's mind, and curiosity won. She followed. The forest grew more dense, and the swordsmen were using their short swords to hack through the brush.
Bugger this, it won't end well. That much noise will bring the mefs for sure. Best go home. Brigga turned to walk away. In the torchlight, she saw a carved stone. A boundary marker. No. No, no, no. How could I be so stupid?
Frantic, about to break into a run, she heard the chittering sounds the mefs used as speech. They were coming from all sides, and they were many. Can't run, nobody runs faster than an arrow. She reached into her belt pouch for a charm but only found a sprig of Black Hanna root.
Death all around me, death in my hand. But poison is better than what the mefs will give me. Even if the spell doesn't work.
Behind her, she heard screams as the first arrows found homes in Roman flesh.
She grimaced and chewed the bitter root, gagging at the taste. Her lips grew numb, and trickles of the thin, black liquor ran down her chin. Her stomach clenched, and her throat tried to close, but she forced herself to swallow. Her fingers and toes grew numb, and the numbness spread.

She chanted:
"Close my eyes,
And count to ten
I die so I
Can live again."
Her heart stopped beating. Her knees gave out. She collapsed onto the forest floor.
#
Aeolius was the first to die. An arrow found his throat and he dropped his torch onto the wet leaves. Eyes wide with disbelief, he tried to pluck the arrow out, but was peppered by a dozen more. Marcus suffered a similar fate, and fell next.
Jocasta screamed. She turned to run, but was pushed to the ground. Something big and hairy ran past her, impossibly fast. She heard the meaty sounds of clubs hitting flesh and crushing bones. She heard the screams of men and something that sounded like laughter. Then she felt a kick to the head, and she heard nothing.
#
Dawn. Brigga got her hands under her, pushed herself up, tried to stand, and failed. Life hadn't fully returned to her legs yet. She braced herself against a nearby tree, and tried again. This time she succeeded, but at a cost. A wave of nausea swept over her, and she threw up the last of the Hanna root juice. She reached down for some oak leaves, chewed them, and spit them out, stained black from the foulness of death.
She shivered. Despite the warm morning light, she felt as cold as the grave. She took an experimental step to see if she could walk. She staggered but did not fall. Feeling was returning to her extremities. The root's effects were fading.
She looked around her. The clearing was littered with Romans and parts of Romans. She found a torso and bent to take its purse. The purse wasn't heavy, but Brigga had simple needs.
#
Jocasta stared in horror. My personal guard, twelve of the bravest men I have ever known, butchered on the forest floor. No, not butchered. Butchery is something done by men. These men have been torn apart by. What? A creature? A score of creatures? A force of nature? She did not know. Whatever had done this had left. In the morning light, nothing moved.
Until something did. A filthy little barbarian woman-child wandered into the clearing, descended upon Antonius, and stole his purse.
"No," Jocasta said, "Get away from him, you little Celt whore."
She stood, and her head throbbed with pain. Unsteady, she staggered to toward the little beast, and drew her ceremonial dagger.
Slaying this red-haired harlot will be poor vengeance, but often a maiden must accept the gifts the gods send her way. Woozy, Jocasta closed in on her prey.
Glancing up, the Celt snarled a warning in her barbaric tongue.
"Filth, you dare speak in the presence of a priestess of Venus?" Jocasta scolded, "I will gut you like a trout, you foul."
The flame-haired trollop slapped the dagger out of Jocasta's hand and staggered, then regained her balance.
Jocasta, still dizzy, renewed her attack.
"Very well, I'll throttle the life out of you!"
With both hands, she reached for the girl's throat.
Brigga ducked under the reaching hands and punched Jocasta right in the Sacred Gate of Eternal Mystery. Jocasta doubled over in agony. With her free hand, the beastly child grabbed Jocasta's hair and gave it a twist.
"Ow! Unhand me, you filthy little slut! I am a ."
The child took a half-step toward the dagger, dragging Jocasta by the head, then fell to her knees, pulling the priestess down with her.
After much rolling, cursing, slapping and biting, Jocasta found herself lying face up on the wet leaves. The Celt squatted on her chest with the dagger in her dirty little hand. She slapped Jocasta on the cheekbone with the flat of the blade. The blow stung, but Jocasta's pride was the true victim.
The girl spat out a stream of her incomprehensible language, then said, "Pax Romana."
"Roman peace? What are you trying to say?" Jocasta sputtered.
The girl frowned. Then, "Close mouth, Roman she-dog concubine. Me am master, act with correctly."
"You can't even speak properly, you disgusting little."
The girl yanked on Jocasta's hair again and touched the priestess's lips with the tip of the dagger.
"Pax Romana. Me am master. You halt she-dog being. Make sweet words, stay pretty."
Jocasta sighed. "Fine. Pax Romana. You are the. Mistress. I will obey."
#
Brigga smiled. Isn't that just like a Roman? You brought a knife to a fistfight, and you lost anyway. You're nothing without a legion at your back. She tucked the fancy dagger into her belt, then tore the earring from her captive's lobe. Then she took the ribbon from the fancy lady's hair, made a loop, and bound her hands. Only then did she release her grip on the Roman's hair.
"We walk now," she said, stood, and allowed the priestess to rise.
Jocasta was crying. Blood dripped from her ruined earlobe.
Brigga tugged on the tether.
"Well, that's what you get for trying to stab me. You're not so fancy now, are you?"
Eventually, Jocasta stopped complaining, and they walked in silence. The girl found a path, and they followed it.
#
After an eternity of walking, the wretched Celt halted in another clearing.
"Why are we stopping here?" Jocasta asked, "What are."
The child shushed her, suddenly fearful.
From ahead came voices, calling out in proper Latin. A patrol!
The girl tugged on the tether, drew the dagger, and pressed it to Jocasta's ribs.
"Call.call out. Pax Romana. Make nice talk."
"Soldiers!" Jocasta cried out, "I'm over here!"
Soldiers came running up the path, saw Jocasta and her captor, drew their swords.
"Priestess, has this vermin harmed you?" asked the leader.
"It is nothing." She looked down to her tiny captor, "Well? What now, Mistress?"
The girl trembled at the sight of the swordsmen. "Denarii, give," she said, softly, "Give now."
"You heard the girl. Give her your purses."
"Romans do not pay tribute to."
"Call it ransom then. No, call it tuition. She has taught me humility. The temple will reimburse you."
The leader gathered his men's purses, tied the strings together, and tossed them to the girl. She caught the bundle, released the tether, and ran for her life.
One of the soldiers drew a dagger and prepared to throw it.
"No," Jocasta ordered, "Let her go. Take me home."

End

Post Date: 28th Apr, 2016 - 8:37am / Post ID: #

KenGreen Blog
A Friend

KenGreen Blog

An now, we're back in the kitchen again. For some reason, I keep writing these domestic scenes. It's Thursday, and I have no idea what next week's story is going to be. But here it today's thingie:

COQ AU VIN
By Ken Green
Darla walked into the kitchen, took a deep breath, and said, "Something smells wonderful. Did I walk into the wrong tavern?"
Olivia stopped stirring and turned from the fireplace.
"Get over here, woman, and taste this." She lifted the spoon to offer a sample.
Darla stepped closer, tasted the broth.
"By my troth, Squire, that is good. What do you call it?"
Olivia wrapped her free arm around Darla's waist.
"That, my lover, is coq au vin."
Darla pulled away from the embrace and spat on the floor. "Betrayal! You feed me French food, the swill of our oppressors? How could you?"
Olivia looked down at the oak floor.
"Darla, I just swept that floor. Yesterday. Give or take a month or so." In truth, it was starting to resemble a Jackson Pollack painting.
"Well, we can't serve that to our guests." Darla said, licking the spoon. "They would riot."
"Our guests?" Olivia scoffed, "Our guests would eat a pig's ass if I boiled it."
"Mmm. Boiled Pig's Ass." Darla said, stirring the pot, "Now that sounds like proper British cuisine."
"Be careful, I'm pretty sure 'cuisine' is a word we got from the French."
"Damn them! Damn their poetic language, and their food that tastes good!" She sampled the broth again, "Damn those Norman pig-dogs. This treasonous stew is delicious."
The front door creaked. Olivia glanced toward the dining room.
"Ix-nay on the Orman-Nay In Game:-dogs-pay."
"When did you learn Latin?" Darla asked, ladling up a bowl on the treasonous stew.
Ignoring her, Olivia went to the dining room and stepped behind the bar.
"Bon Jour," she said, "Welcome to the Bull. May I offer you some wine?"
Before her stood some Norman bigshot and two obvious cronies. She stood on tiptoes to glance at their boots. They were wearing spurs.
Great. He's probably a knight, and they're his-what? Knight-ettes? How do I address him? Better play it safe, aim high. Overshooting is better than insulting him would be.
"I would speak to zee own-air of these establishment," he zaid.
"That would be me, your grace. How about that wine?" She reached under the bar, felt for a bottle.
"English wine? No. I would rather drink warm piss."
Pity. I've already emptied the chamber pot.
"Well then, I have a lovely stout ale I just made."
"Do you have anything without twigs in it?"
"Oh, I have something I think you'll like. It's my special brew. I strain it through a silk filter."
She ladled up a tankard for his grace, and one for herself.
He took a sip.
"I detect a musky undertone," he said.
"That's the terroir. You might also taste a subtle hint of the sea." Or of seafood, perhaps. I am an evil, evil woman.
"Yes," he said, "I noticed that also. Is that coq au vin I smell?"
"It's simmering in the kitchen. Would you like a bowl?"
"French food from an English kitchen? I shudder to think of it."
"That's funny, I've always heard that knights were brave. Is that a myth? Or is it only English knights that have courage?"
"Fine. Bring me your cooking. I could use a laugh."
"I'll be right back." She went back to the kitchen and ladled up a bowl.
"Is that for the frog?" Darla asked.
"Why, yes it is."
Darla spit into the bowl.
"Well, that wasn't very mature, was it?" Olivia asked, and grabbed a loaf off the shelf.
As Olivia was leaving the kitchen, Darla asked, "Squire, have you seen my good panties? The fancy silk pair?"
"I can't say I have, Sweetie."
"Why are you grinning?"
"I'm just in a good mood."
She returned to the bar and set the bowl and the bread in front of him. He tucked a napkin into the collar of his doublet and produced a fork. With a skeptical expression, he set to the task. Soon, his expression changed to amazement.
"Mon Dieu. This is.good."
Olivia smiled and took a sip of her drink. Huh. It does taste like Darla. Just the faintest hint, but it's there.

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Post Date: 29th Apr, 2016 - 8:37am / Post ID: #

KenGreen Blog
A Friend

KenGreen Blog - Page 11

Today's offering came from another writing prompt from a Facebook page. It was fantasy illustration of a pretty, pretty mans in high-tech but oh-so-fashionable body armor and a pretty, pretty woman with antlers making goo-goo eyes at each other.

"Wow," Lieutenant Barnes marveled, "He froze to death. He literally froze to death."
"Yes," Dawnbreeze said, "It puzzles me that you find that amusing."
"Oh, I don't," he snickered, "It's a terrible tragedy. It's just that we use the expression 'froze to death' to say that somebody died of hypothermia. I've never actually seen somebody that was literally frozen."
Corporal Stevens had been found by locals, who had alerted the sentries at the navy base. That's why Barnes had had to drag himself out of a warm bed to this God forsaken valley. To make matters worse, it was snowing. Barnes had grown up in an orbital city. He had never seen snow before being posted to this frontier planet, and he still didn't trust it.
"Well, now you have." Dawnbreeze found the human's manner unsettling. Certainly, they seemed unconcerned by the deaths of her people, but this man had been one of their own.
"I mean, just look at him," Barnes seemed fascinated by the corpse.
"I have been looking at him. I've spent the morning praying that his soul has a safe journey."
"Journey to where? Oh, that's right, you people are religious. We humans outgrew that."
"That's very progressive of you. I was wondering how to respectfully move the body."
"Oh, we can just get some privates to throw him in a truck. If they dropped him, do you think he would break?"
"I don't know." Dawnbreeze said, "I fear the question exceeds my curiosity. I see no reason to find out."
"You're not even a little curious?"

Yeah, I didn't get a lot done yesterday. I've been on overtime all week and I'm exhausted. Maybe today will be better.

Post Date: 30th Apr, 2016 - 12:09pm / Post ID: #

KenGreen Blog
A Friend

KenGreen Blog Public Member Blogs - Page 11

I don't have anything new and clever to show you today, I'm just going to write about writing. This might wind up being a confession.

If you have been been following my stories, you may have noticed that I'm strong on dialog, and very weak on description. Some of my scenes seem to take place in a featureless white void in which people just stand around and talk.

So that is an issue I need to address. But how? How do I create a sense of place? How do I put you in a scene?

I've read some place that to immerse the reader, one needs to engage all the senses, which I rarely do. So I'm going to try to focus on that this coming week.

Maybe it'll be awesome. Who knows? Stick around, and we'll find out together.



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