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Perception IS Reality


I’ve been reading the “also” or “too” vs. “only” debate about the “campaign slogan”
of this movement for several weeks now, across multiple sources online, and I haven’t
weighed in, because I know that when I first heard of their tagline, my initial, knee-jerk,
emotional gut reaction was to think...

“Now, hey, wait a minute . . .

Black people aren’t the only minority marginalized in this country . . .

•  Women are still struggling to fight against proposed legislation
    that would set back rights for half the general population
    to a time before our grandparent’s generation, making us
    little more than indentured servants to our male counterparts,
    effectively reducing us to glorified baby-making factories,
    better seen than heard.

•  Native Americans in every corner of the nation are having
    the sacred ancestral tribal lands that support their culture
    and sustain their people stripped from them with the stroke
    of a pen, as if the ink on the treaties that “gave” it to them
    had dried up and disappeared, like dust in the wind
    with the passage of time.

•  Homosexuals who simply want to have the same freedoms
    the rest of the nation takes for granted are still having to fight
    for basic HUMAN rights, even after the passage of laws
    that have already granted it to them.

•  Latin Americans are disregarded as subhuman.

•  Jews are generally distrusted.

•  Asian culture is ransacked, twisted, and appropriated, as is
    anything else that white America finds shiny and somehow valuable,
    and nearly every person of non-anglo descent, with non-euro-
    heritage is expected to assimilate, homogenize, speak OUR language,
    blend in, melt away, and disappear into the collective US.

•  Most other cultures are barely given a grunt of recognition,
    and every religion — or even, a carefully chosen lack of religion —
    that doesn’t align with the majority is dismissed as irrelevant,
    while efforts of multiple controlling powers blatantly seeking
    to turn our government into a THEOCRACY, in order to thereby
    *legally* allow for mass discrimination of ALL non-conforming
    ideologies, are hurtling U.S. citizenry at an alarming speed
    toward our very own American

•  The middle class is disappearing as the working class continues
    to plummet towards or even over the poverty line, while our
    legislators — predominantly very old, mostly white, mostly male,
    mostly millionaires, who *cannot possibly* have ANY understanding
    of the common man — grow fat on the spoils of lying in bed with,
    and licking the boots of corporations whose leaders have put such
    a distance between themselves and the labor force that established
    their wealth, that they steadily drive us all to the brink of a
    modern day
French Revolution.

Surely the issues of all these downtrodden should be considered just as much of a priority?

Don’t ALL lives matter?”

... ... ...

Those WERE my first thoughts.

But then I thought of the position that the BLM movement was taking, the justification of
their indignation, and the righteousness of their cause, and I dismissed my first response
as the rumblings of insecurity bred from white-passable privilege (which isn’t quite the same
as white privilege, but close enough in nearly every respect that makes a difference).
I considered that maybe, if even I, with my circular thinking, logical minded, generally objective
perspective, having to skip a beat, take a breath and check myself before reaching a more
supportive conclusion, could nearly find my own impressions lumped in with that of the
ignorant masses, then maybe the phrase *COULD* benefit from a minor clarification in wording...?

You see, I knew that the saying didn’t mean *ONLY* BLACK Lives Matter, but, maybe it needed help
to make certain that what it did mean came across effectively...?


Black Lives Matter, TOO. ( ??? )

or maybe,

Black Lives ALSO Matter.   ( ??? )

You know?  Like, let’s go ahead and get the air cleared up front, in case, God forbid,
someone not in support of this movement should mistakenly assume that people
who want to be free to LIVE as the rest of us do are somehow asking for more
than they deserve, or attempting to encroach on anything someone else already has.

... ... ...

Oh, I’m sorry, did that come across as ridiculous?

Maybe even a little bit racist???

Yeah, it did to me, too.  Even in my own mind, I couldn’t defend that thought,
so I got to thinking about it even further, and the conclusion I came to,
I can neither think, nor speak, nor even write about without a lump in the back
of my throat, and tears swelling up in my eyes.

... ... ...

Once I got my head screwed on straight, I realized, there is absolutely NO value in anyone
who is NOT black sitting around on any social media site with anyone else who is NOT black
having any length of discussion about whether this saying can or can’t be misinterpreted,
or should or shouldn’t be modified for the sake of clarity.


Black people KNOW what they mean.

And, more importantly...


The question should NOT be about whether or not this saying needs ANY further clarification.


There IS NO **implied** ALSO. There IS NO silent TOO.

The word “ONLY” is only in your imagination.

Black people are standing together collectively, screaming at the top of their lungs like Whos
on a speck of sand in a thistle, to tell the world that BLACK LIVES MATTER.  Not because
they matter more than anyone else’s.  Not even because they matter “just as much” as yours do.
But simply BECAUSE they matter.  And you and I, from a place of privilege, can debate til the cows
come home what else *must* be subliminally included in that statement, or what other, additional
message must by either meant by it or derived from it; the fact remains that telling the world that
our lives matter is NOT a necessity.  It is a **foregone conclusion.**

I have never had to INFORM *anyone* in my existence that MY LIFE matters, because everything
about my 40-some years in this terrestrial plane has demonstrated to me that it’s just assumed
that everyone knows.  And that’s because


You see, that’s why this issue can’t be compared with women’s rights.  Or gay freedoms.
Or religious privilege.  Or social injustice.  Or any cultural stigmatism.
Because they’re NOT the same.

People who’ve emigrated here from another way of life carried with them their shared history
and their family name, their traditions and ethics, their hopes and dreams of a new world, and their
intentions for what would be passed down from generation to generation after generation in this land
of safety, asylum, freedom, opportunity, or whatever other promise brought them to our borders.
But the same can’t be said of blacks.  What is their shared culture heritage?  Slavery?  Oppression?
Marginalization?  Systematic, institutionalized injustice?

You can say all you want to that black people have fought for and won their civil rights.  Sure, we have
an African American in the White House.  And we could probably even call him a Kenyan American,
if he wanted us to, because we know where his lineage originates.  But his wife, Michelle, she’s from...
what, Chicago?  If you take most any person in this country who is black and trace their family tree,
where is it going to lead?  We throw a continent in front of the name “American” for people we identify
as black, because the whole of that vast, expansive land mass across the ocean is the closest most of us
can get to knowing who they are or where they’ve come from, as if labeling an entire group of people
“African American,” will somehow provide unity and conformity, like it’s some sort of nationality or ethnicity,
that would give them back the shared cultural heritage that whites stole from them.  But the truth is,
all “blacks” really truly know they have in common is that they are darker than some of the rest of us.
As if thats all that really matters.

We who like to think of ourselves as caring, as compassionate, as understanding, as objective, and liberal...
we know that nothing about any human’s way of life should be boiled down to no more than a byproduct
of a person’s skin tone.  But, we also know that, sometimes, it does.  More than anyone else in this country,
it is blacks” who have grown up never being allowed to forget that ugly truth, because of all the lifelong
ramifications that comes along with having that skin tone, despite *every* effort of every civil rights leader.
We stand beside those who would labor against this unfortunate reality, and we offer our voices to the outcry,
and our efforts to the work that is still needed.  But we can’t know this need the way that they do, because
we haven’t lived the reality that they have lived, the reality that they still face, every day.

That reality is, black people aren’t fighting for rights.  Or freedom.  Or privilege.  Or justice.  Or equality.
These very basic HUMAN needs might ALL be desired, and even necessary.  But they’re not #1 on the agenda
right now, because there is an even MORE *pressing* objective.  Black people are fighting to LIVE.  Black people
are fighting just to SURVIVEBlack people are fighting FOR THEIR LIVES, because they’re NOT being allowed
just to LIVE as you and I do.  Black people are fighting to be able to walk out their door and NOT worry,
as you and I do not worry, that in the course of going about their every day lives, they might be KILLED.

•  Black people cannot be certain, as you and I are every day,
    that they can walk down any street in this land of the FREE,
    and not be shot in the chest at point blank range, a mere
    few yards from their own door to safety, for the heinous
    crime of
looking suspicious, because of choice in wardrobe.

•  Black people cannot be assured, as you and I would be,
    that in the course of trying to intervene in a fight,
    they might not be accused of such a minor crime as
    would barely warrant so much as a ticket for a white man,
    presumed guilty, and
CHOKED to death.

•  Black people cannot go to work, as you and I would,
    confident in the knowledge that they will not be
SHOT IN THE BACK at their place of business because
    someone mistakenly had the idea that something
    about their job was not entirely above board.

•  Black people cannot drive an automobile, as you and I would,
    in their own familiar neighborhoods, to their family homes,
    knowing that they will arrive safely at their destination
    without being mistaken for someone else, secretly followed,
    stalked by a plainclothes officer in an unmarked vehicle,
    and shot
multiple times through the back of their own car.

•  Black people cannot, as you and I might, simply walk to the
    grocery store with their family and a handful of friends,
    without being
attacked without warning by a rogue battalion
    of non-uniformed police with military grade assault weapons.

•  Black people cannot peaceably live wherever they can afford to,
    as you and I do, if
where they can afford to live is public housing,
    without concern that their residential facility will be meticulously
    patrolled floor by floor, in search of crime in progress, a zealous
    pursuit assured to turn up perpetrators guilty of being black
    in the
unlit stairwell of their own tenement building, naturally
    provoking the instinctive reaction to shoot to kill.

•  Black people cannot hang out at the mall, as you and I might,
    or even
relax in their own homes, as you and I do,
    nor even
sleep in their own beds at night, as you and I will,
    satisfied that they can
answer their own front door, or even just
go about their normal household routine, without fear of being
searched, maced, smothered, tazed, bombed, or shot, over a
    case of mistaken identity, bad information, because someone
    got the numbers on a house wrong, because some eager beaver is
    showing off for the reality TV film crew, or because someone
    happens to match a certain description.

Black people understand better than anyone that despite how far we’ve come, ACTIONS still
speak louder than words.  Black people see clearly, more than you and I may take notice of,
that the actions of the world around us all has done nothing but confirm this fight is not over yet

And so, black people are resorting, in anger, in fear, and in desperation, to telling the world that:


...because the realities that black people must face every day suggests to them that


... ... ...

In just under 7 weeks, I will stand before my God, my family, my friends and loved ones, and I will promise
my life to the man I love.  And when we raise our children, they will be Native American and Irish, as well as
Moroccan, East Indian, and French.  But it doesn’t matter how many colors go into making up their skin tone,
because to the rest of the world, all they will be is BLACK.

So I will have to train my son when he learns to drive, to never go above the speed limit, and to always keep
his license valid, proof of insurance in the car, his tabs up to date, his headlamps and taillights functional,
his muffler in good working condition, and wear his seat belt, in the hopes that he doesn’t go around with
any avoidable reasons to get pulled over.  I will make sure he drives a car that isn’t too flashy, but not too
rusted out, either.  And whether he is an athlete, a band geek, a mathematician, an artist, a musician,
or a science nerd, I will teach him to dress in a manner that could never cause him to be mistaken for a
common criminal.  I will train him for the inevitable day when he is pulled over for any reason or for no
reason at all, to hold out his empty hands, palms up, to show they are devoid of
wallets, cell phones,
pocket knives, pill bottles, or broom handles, and to be cooperative, and polite.

I will train my daughter to speak her mind, and to protect herself, but I will make sure that she presents herself
in attire, in demeanor, in word and in deed respectably, and that she knows how to make her insights known
without showing belligerence, rebellion, or sass.  (This will be especially hard for ME to teach her, because
she will be MY daughter, and Ive never been very good at that, myself.
)  I will teach her to show the proper

deference, say Yes Ma’am, no Sir, etc., in situations when she is vulnerable to persons in authority with the power
to abuse her, and to smile so hard her teeth hurt, if that’s what it takes, even if she has to choke back tears.

I will do this for my family, not because I want them to get a good grade in class, or to be allowed onto the
football team or the cheerleading squad or the band trip or the school play.  Not because I want them to get
a leg up with their boss, or climb another rung on the corporate ladder.  And not even because I want them
to be decent, respectable citizens, though if that’s an added bonus, I’ll take it.  But I will train my children
to do what needs to be done to keep them safe in this world, because every time they walk out my front door,
regardless of anything else I might desire for their future, what I will want most of all, is for them to COME HOME.
I hope that everything I have been through in my life up until that point will have prepared me to be up
to the challenge of raising black children.  And I pray, every day, that all members of my household will grow up
in a world which will have at some point learned,


The Queen Is Dead


Some in this world seek to be kingmakers, but not I.  Being the power behind the throne of a mere mortal empire was an objective far too limited for me, though not because my head was ever turned toward any loftier aspiration.  No, not for my own ambition, but because it was my destiny to be the creator of a god among men, to give rise to the ruler that would unite the kingdoms as one dominion under all the heavens, so did I do all that I have done in her name.

The signs have been foretold since before there was time, and I, my Goddess’ humble servant, Kerian Gillivray, feeble Eidoli of the Penumbral, lowly Keeper of Secrets and Twister of Fates, worthless though I may be, for reasons I cannot hope to fathom, I alone was chosen to bring to fruition her divine plan, to stir into action her hallowed intent.  The whole of my existence has been a mission unto her service.  It is the sole purpose behind every seemingly happenstance, insignificant incidence which brought about the trivial circumstance that led to the instigation of my very life, and it is because of this and nothing more — this consecrated calling, this divine duty — this is the reason I yet draw breath upon this plane.

I was bred for this.  I was born into it.

So how could I have failed her so miserably?

I had thought I would be lost without Vaghdystra, Mother of Darkness, Mistress of Voracity, but I now see it as a test of my commitment that I should be tasked to continue on the path she set forth, to carry out her mission to which she appointed me, though to do so in these dark days without her ever present guidance as I once discerned it.  It’s no great surprise that she pulled away from me, though I will say naught against any action she may take against me for my abysmal failure, my principal regret in life.  It is just for her to have done so, and it should be expected, because of her most deserved disgust with me, for allowing the offspring of her chosen to be felled, and for destroying one of her elite.

I only pray that she may grant me an opportunity to make some small form of reparations — even as pathetic as any attempt may be — however she sees fit.

This is not how it was supposed to happen.  She wasn’t even supposed to be there — no one was!  Why had she taken up guard of the nest?  It is not their way.  Wyvergen do not sit upon their eggs, as if they were birds of the air, or titans of the deep.  There was no call for her to be there.  The enchantment cast upon the royal guard served no purpose if I was to encounter her royal majesty herself.

I did not know, you see, that the Queen Mother — she who was placed upon this worldly throne of power by the Goddess herself — Aryaeth Querangyn, the Golden Glory of the Veridian Isles — who  had once before lost the fruit of her love’s passion to a vengeful infidel — that she had vowed never again, that she would not be moved from her perch of protection.  I did not know, you must understand, that I would find her sleeping there, curled upon those gold and silver eggs, or that her noble talons would be wrapped so tightly around that most reverent of prizes, the Mazarine itself.  I could not have known, believe you me, that she had charmed the lair with an anti-deception incantation that would be impervious to cloaking or illusion, rendering invisibility magic useless, or surely I would have come more prepared.

And the Goddess, in her great wisdom and mystery, had not chosen to show this to me.

I cannot fault Vaghdystra for this I must not, for only she can comprehend her ways. But I can be certain, surely, that my deity, my sovereign, my liege, could not have meant for the mother of her chosen to die, and for mine to be the hand that wielded that final blow, where so many others had failed against the fierce Queen’s great might, for to believe otherwise would simply be unthinkable.  My fate was established before I came into being, and had been handed down to me since before I could speak that I would be ordained to become a companion to the Champion of the Goddess, the future of Endërrim Dunia.  I could never have foreseen that to do so, I would have to first be responsible for her own mother’s death.

I would be punished for my transgression — oh yes, and most severely, never fear that I have escaped justice — though perhaps not nearly as harshly as I deserved... perhaps the worst is still to come.  Know you this, though, that when in the good graces of my Goddess, I was once a supreme master of sorcery, brandishing nearly immeasurable powers of necromancy and kabalism, yet not by my own virtue, no, but through the invocation of Vaghdystra’s glory.  But I forfeit that power, on that gruesome night.  I sacrificed it to the work of my Goddess, to do the terrible deed that had to be done.

When I snuck into Castle Praenago, to steal the child of prophecy, the spawn of the Goddess’ chosen, as Vaghdystra bade me, and found the favored royal there, because of the Queen’s enchantment, I could not conceal myself, nor could I hope to stand against one of the most powerful fighters the realm has seen in generations.  And yet, more importantly, neither could I not disobey the will of my Goddess.  I could not leave without that which I’d come for, and so I had to do that which cannot be undone.

She would not suffer her offspring to be taken from her while she yet drew breath, the Queen, and so, only one of us could leave that room alive.  And we know, you and I, which of us came out...  I am the only one left who can tell this tale now, and I speak of it with humility and in disgrace.

The fact that she had left such a horde of Eidoli in her wake had suggested to her people that in her final battle, Queen Aryaeth had been imbued with the essence of the Goddess Vaghdystra herself.  The Queen’s death had become legendary among the citizens of her kingdom, for the sheer number of bodies it had taken to overtake her.  And perhaps, it was a fitting tribute to one so deserving that it should be so.  The legend only serves to honor a fallen hero’s memory, while exalting the magnificence of the Goddess, as the idea that she would intercede for a beloved subject adds to her power over the masses.

But they could not know how wrong they were.  They can never know what a cosmic blunder this was — what a great wrong to the Goddess, and the natural order of the universe — or how it should never have been thus.  Would that it could be so, that I might feel the full force of their justified wrath, perhaps to put an end to my own suffering, but if I must continue to serve the will of the Divine, then I must bear this shame alone.

The population of Praenago, in their desperation for an explanation — any way to make sense of their kingdom’s great tragedy — had grasped at straws to interpret what they’d found, scribbling in the dust, scratching at the dark of what little they knew to form some semblance of reason out of this horrific loss.

The royal palace guard could only have surmised how it had gone down based on what was left when they had come upon her.  The basis of their assessment, though, was only the aftermath, the remaining evidence, of what had actually occurred.  Their queen slain, surrounded by a swarm of dead Eidoli, their numbers so great as to be almost unimaginable — they could not have guessed that but for the queen herself, the dead they had found there had been already dead.

I tell you this truthfully, so that you may grasp the magnitude of what transpired — I didn’t take a mob of cultists with me from the Penumbral when I set about to carry out my commanded errand.  I went alone, expecting to abscond alone, undetected, with my prize, leaving everything else as I found it there, undisturbed, never the worse for the expropriation to my Goddess.

But she was there — Querangyn, as her people say — resplendent and ruthless, and when she found me, she drew upon me, as one would expect a mother, a warrior, and a Queen to do.  I couldn’t very well simply ask her to hand over the most sacred of her unhatched, the crown jewel of all Wyvergendry, nor did she much care to hear anything I might have had to say.

I required an immediate distraction, and one that only a conjurer could bring about, if I was to fulfill my purpose.  I reached out through the veil between planes, summoning into the Penumbral, and retrieved a soulless form from the Ilunpaen to command it, wordlessly directing it to set upon her.  But it wasn’t enough.  She dispatched it with such a swiftness, it might as well have been made of smoke and mirrors.  So I brought forth again from the netherworld a small host of the undead, charmed to follow my bidding, for the sole purpose of distracting this uncommonly forceful fighter long enough for me to abduct the paragon of her brood from within her clutches.  How could I have known how fruitless an effort it would be?

She was savage and skilled so far beyond the half of what had been told that one could not even see from where she stood how any could have ever imagined her to be any less, so little did this godlike figure resemble the stories that preceded her, that paled in comparison to the conqueror that she was.  She put them down by the dozens, and I struggled to keep a barrier of lifeless bodies in motion between us, I almost couldn’t pull them fast enough.  Wave after wave of exanimate poured through the veil, and just as quickly as they did, the offal of her rampage flew about, scraps and fragments of corpses piling up as she tore through my undead forces with the rage of a rabid animal.  I was certain that she would do no less to me, but I began to fear that I would empty out the whole of the Ilunpaen before battle fatigue had even begun to slow her, and then I would be left with nothing between us to prevent her from doing so.

There was blood in her eyes, the stench of death in the air, and a kind of wanton madness about her; enough that I prepared myself to meet my maker.  Yet, as surely as I was convinced that I was about to die, still, I could not help but to be in awe of her strength, her dexterity, her pulchritude; and there was a bliss to it — an almost peaceful acceptance — so tantalizing I very nearly gave in to it, to have gone to my Goddess having been struck down by the force of her chosen, for here was the embodiment of my Goddess at work!  This exquisite, deadly creature represented the transcendence of Vaghdystra’s plan, the perfection of her artistry in action.  It is truly little wonder that this marvelous specimen was chosen to be the bearer of the Champion, the deliverer of the Dark Majesty’s own progeny.

And I killed her.

Is it any wonder that I now scorn every breath that passes through my lungs?

Even admiring this masterpiece of life as I did, though, I knew I could not abandon that divine plan.  I could not allow my reverence to distract me from the task at hand.  When it became clear to me that the collective body of every entity that had ever died in all of Dunia would not be enough to stay this hell-bent mortal, I knew I had to resort to deeper, stronger, crueler, more pernicious alchemy.

I will not speak of the witchcraft I used, out of shame over its mortifying nature, an evil so debauched and devastating that it should be wielded only against the most heinous of foes, and never those who would be naught but collateral damage.  I will not tell you how I sapped this regal regent of her energy, how I drained her of her very lifeforce, and watched as she battled through its effects, even as she weakened.  I cannot tell you this, for I could not bear for none but me to suffer the burden of full knowledge, the true depth of this horrific woe.  I had hoped I would not have to see her meet her end.  I held on to my faith in the Goddess, that she would not let her chosen fall, that the Queen would but collapse under the pressure, and I could escape with my quarry, as was my mandate.

If she had relaxed at all, if she had ever slowed even but a little, the diabolism would have only temporarily taken her consciousness, lulling her into a catatonic coma, from which she would have awakened in but a matter of hours.  But, Aryaeth was born a fighter, and she could be nothing but.  She would not stop until every enemy had been slain, or until the blood seeped from her veins.  But it was not blood loss that took her from this plane.  It was sortilege, at my behest, so I could take from her that which belonged to her, which was borne from her, and forged by the Goddess we both serve.

In the end, with great sorrow, I pried it from her lifeless claws.

But not without great cost.

The constant stream of augury had weakened my thaumaturgic reserve.  I could barely hold my hands up.  And yet, that was not the end of it, nor the last need there would be for powerful dark magic that night.  Oh, how I desperately long to say that was the worst of it, as surely that was the most terrible sin I’ve ever committed, but there was yet more collateral damage from this unending nightmare in that accursed place.

In the course of the continuous assault, a number of the royal ovules had been broken by the fracas.  But four, miniscule compared to their cyaneous denmate, remained intact.  And that, perhaps, may have been the most damning blow of all.  I had left them without a mother, their father out terrorizing across the countryside, to return Goddess knows when, if at all, and I could not even be certain he would have known about this cluster of his seed.  And I certainly didn’t have the resources back at the temple to raise more than the Wyverken I’d been planning for throughout these many long decades of preparation, pending the signs leading up to the fulfillment of this cherished ancient prophecy.

I took with me a few of the Eidoli Anedad of the Ilunpaen still standing under my control.  Those few that had not fallen by the hand of the stricken would drop back into their naturally dead state once I had retreated from the morbid scene.  I ensorcelled the Anedad to carry the eggs into the nearest surrounding villages — four of them, each in different directions — the undead not resting until they had come to the door stoop of a Wyvergen home — and only that which displayed by its banner its service therein to the Goddess — upon which to leave their precious package.  Once their mission was complete, their purpose served, they would simply return to unanimated corpses.  Thus, four true offspring of Ferrant and Aryaeth, unbeknownst to anyone, would be taken in to be brought up by other Wyvergen houses while I disappear with Nadira, of the Bazylaethne line, to cultivate her development in the ways of Vaghdystra, hoping to take this secret to my grave, the weight of it so heavy upon me.

But I did not escape unscathed.

I have sworn to give my all in the service of my Goddess Vaghdystra, but in bringing about the death of her chosen, I have done so, for by this action I was cursed, my powers smothered, drowned in the blood now on my hands, drained by my abhorrent act, and depleted by the correction of its consequences .  I know that in time, Goddess permitting, I will regenerate my power, and recuperate my losses.  Perhaps it is fitting, then, too, that my power shall only grow as I train her Champion to grow in equal power, as she commanded.

The truth of the matter is, I know the prophecy will be fulfilled whether I am a part of it or not.  A worthless creature such as I could not even be counted significant enough to derail the will of Vaghdystra.  If it doesn’t happen in this manner, it will be done in another.  The Goddess will find a way.  So I would not presume that she would keep me alive simply because she needs me.  Vaghdystra needs no man or beast.

But it is her punishment that I should be forced to live with the pain and shame of this regret, that I should continue in her service, faithfully, dutifully, despite this great sorrow.  I must persevere, through the pain of misery, through the sting of bile in my gut, through the hatred that I feel against my continued presence on this worldly plane.  Because I know, too, that she will not let me die.  I have wounded her so deeply, it is my retribution to be denied a worthy death.

And I must accept my fate.

My sole purpose now is to fulfill Vaghdystra’s wishes, and perhaps to one day prove to her that I might once again be considered worthy of an honorary death... a hero’s death.  My greatest wish is that at some point I will have met her challenge, and she will allow me to die, perhaps painfully, perhaps by her very own hand, or the hand of fate as guided by her, for my sins against her.

And because I know that the Goddess will not reward me for my transgressions with the glory of a warrior’s death in battle, for that reason, I can be fearless when I fight for her Champion, when I defend her temple, when I face insurmountable odds.  My Goddess has pulled her voice from me, and I do not blame her for this.  But I know that to give up on this mission simply for finding myself without her direct influence as a guide would mean certain failure and defeat at my very reason for being, and that is simply not an option.  To give up now, would be sacrilege and blasphemy.  The possibility of abandonment is simply not even thinkable.

In the grand scheme of all things under the heavens, come what may, I will escort Vaghdystra’s Master Plan unto its end.  I will safeguard this holy cerulean bundle, as we journey back together to her new home at her waiting palace in the Penumbral.

She is my charge, my mission, an occasional thorn in my side, and the quintessence of my life’s purpose.  She is the future of all the world, where all be united as the family of the Goddess.

And, lowly as I may be, I her humble servant, will become all things to her until she needs me no longer.

                Keeper, Master, Trainer,

                Guardian, Protector, Confidant,

               Entertainer, Puppet, Companion,

               Worshipper, Follower, Slave.

Long live Nadira, Champion of the Goddess.  Long may she reign.

It has been a fortnight since, and she is among us, coming into this cold and cruel world harshly, as do all offspring without a mother to bring them forth.  She is resting now, bundled in my pack, under the stars, as I stoke the fire to keep her warm.  We would travel in the Penumbral, away from prying eyes, curious questions, and search parties, but the time for her to adjust to its dark nature is not yet upon us.  For now, she needs the light of the sun and the moon to nurture her. 

I watch her as she flutters and whimpers in her sleep.  I wonder what she dreams of.  She is growing so fast, already taking my hand and standing.  She trusts me, implicitly, I suppose only because she does not know I have taken her from the only family she had known.

But, I am bringing her to a greater family, with a deeper, stronger bond.  She is the spawn of the Goddess, and she will be raised in the house of the Goddess.  We are yet a dozen moons away from her new home, but Vaghdystra has blessed our holy pilgrimage, and has been keeping us safe.

She is so large for her age.  Wyvergen should stand a kovat tall at seven sun cycles, but after only three, her crown was already tickling my chin when she hugged me.  Soon, she will be running, and before long, her stride will be so much lengthened than mine that she will be faster than I can catch her.

There is so much to teach her, so much she must learn, and yet so much I must shield her from.  I am certain that the Goddess was right to put her trust in me, as she chose me for this, and I will not second guess her.  I only pray that I will not fail her again.

Slumber now, little hatchling, for soon you will be grown,

and when you have come into your own...

...the world will be yours

LJ Idol | Season 9 • Week 27 - Topic: OPEN
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Then No One Shall


In Days of Darkness, when the Mother of Majesty
  bears upon the Realm of all who live
  the Coming of Endless Night,
  From the Bosom of Blood, A Champion of her Progeny –
   a Sapphire borne from Silver and Gold –
  Will raise the Kingdom of Dragons
   within the Cradle of Man
   to reign eternal upon the land

...A prophecy, known among the children of Vaghdystra, bred from dragons and men, since the time of the Basiblis Wars, all but forgotten for over 2,000 years, to all but the most devoted of believers, and those dedicated to the ancient wisdom of the Wyvergen ancestors. 

It has became legend, told at bedtime to children — as stories of heroism and promise to the faithful of the Queen of Darkness, as tales of warning to her enemies.  It would impact the lives in this chronicle more profoundly than any of them could have imagined or foretold.

In those days, rule of Wyvragen kingdoms passed naturally from each reigning sovereign to his or her heir, but maintaining the monarchy was not always a given for the line, nor even a simple task.  Leadership was determined not by blood, but by whomever had the greater power and will.  For this reason, Wyvergen kingdoms were often in turmoil, regularly undergoing many rapid and often violently brutal changes from one crowned head to another.  And yet, there remained many among their peoples who believed that the Bazylaethne tribe was the only true clan with a proper claim to rule any Wyvergen kingdom by birthright, as theirs is the only legacy whose lineage can be traced directly to the Time of Origin, when Vaghdystra herself created Dragons from Men.  But, it was mostly a moot point, since a true kingdom of Wyvergen had not been seen in centuries, due to their dwindling numbers and diminished social status in the known world as a result of the Basiblis Wars.

This is the story of their rise to power. . . 


Ferrant the Silverskin, of the clan Bazylaethne, was born to modest means in a small, provincial hamlet within the barely chartered colonies of the Eastern regions.  He quickly became known to his family and the greater community as Ferrant Aldrik (which means ruler), for his natural inclination to take charge, dominating by power and might first the siblings of his clutch, then the other children of the countryside, and even a few fearful full grown citizens.  Despite his imperious disposition, as he grew, Ferrant was well received by most, well-liked by many, and respected by all of the locals of his and nearby neighboring villages.

Yet still he wanted more.

His kind, the Wyvergen, had been nearly decimated by the Basiblis Wars, their numbers scattered few and far between throughout the known world.  Ferrant took his companions from among those varied creatures who settled the outer territories along with his family, but knew that his people were destined for better than scavenging among ruins, and longed for a day when they would once again know power, and rule with great might.  Ferrant sought greatness for himself and his clan, a kingdom of Wyvergen, the men of Dragons, the chosen of his Goddess, Vaghdystra, Creator of Dragonkind, Architect of the Dragon peoples.


Ferrant’s dream of power was as good as any, and young growing males should have something to strive towards, so he prayed to his diety, Vaghdystra, the Mother of Dragons, the Queen of Dark Majesty, to give him a life filled with conquest, a stronghold for his people, and a kingdom to call his own.  Vaghdystra, intent on the advancement of her chosen Wyvergen, received his request with intrigue, and responded by showing him great favor.

When he reached adulthood, Ferrant set out on a journey for adventure, and found just that.  Guided by the hand of fate granted him by the Goddess, Ferrant came upon a settlement of Wyvergen, where he found a kindred spirit in the beautiful and tempestuous Aryeath, also of the Bazylaethne tribe.  The two fell for each other like it was preordained; there was no grave they wouldn’t plunder, no temple they wouldn’t burn, and no rival they wouldn’t kill for one another.  They were instantly enchanted, and after a smattering of facile triumphs, easily overthrowing kings and empires together, they made a pact with one another and a covenant to their Goddess, and became mated for life.

Their travels through the Eastern regions became legendary.  Ferrant, with his gray exterior, his chrome armor, his shining blade, glistening with the glint of sun and the sting of fresh blood, became known as “The Silver Sword.”  Aryaeth, more copportoned of scale, had a style for destruction that was almost a graceful kind of dance... she was soon dubbed “The Golden Glory.”  Their horde, a loyal pack of dedicated Wyvergen and faithful mercenaries, wanted for nothing as they ripped across the Veridian Isles and over the Ankali Range, hopping from cay to peninsula to continent, their trail of arrogation indomitable on either land or sea.  Together, they ravaged everything of value, power, or pleasure when the tore through.  Dripping in victory and in spoils, they shared a great admiration, love and respect for their leaders, whom they called “Silver and Gold,” because everything the deadly duo touched turned to treasure.

Ferrant claimed every newly conquered citadel for Wyvergen in the name of Vaghdystra, setting up a Pantheon therein to honor her, and establishing a fortress with a Wyvergen Commander-in-Charge at every new post, leaving behind enough affluence for everyone stationed to rule with the power of an iron fist, and to live out their days like kings.  And yet, even thinning their starting ranks as they pressed forward, their numbers never dwindled.  They were sought out by every pirate, rogue, and ranger with a spirit of adventure and a love of battle, spreading carnage and amassing wealth in their wake wherever they went, as the allegiance and devotion to their traveling band of conquistadors only grew.

They were invincible. 


After a particularly fruitful sweep of a dazzling palace, the most magnificent they’d yet seen, Aryaeth relayed to Ferrant that she was heavy laden, and it was time to nest.  Her followers rejoiced.  Having been like a fighting mother to so many of them, their battle-tested regent / proven heroin became known among her people as Aryaeth Querangyn.  Ferrant determined to settle his newly growing family into the dominion they’d just defeated, renamed it Raltakun Praenago, with himself as King and Aryaeth as his beloved Warrior Queen, and took a band of brethren to subjugate the masses at the outer perimeter of his new domain in order to fortify their new stronghold.

Before they returned, however, an enemy dissenter, a Basiblis remnant of the previous regime, snuck in through secret passageways in the castle not yet fully known to their new inhabitants, and destroyed the unhatched clutch of The Silver and Gold King and Queen while the royal party slumbered.  Ferrant returned in time to catch the culprit, but not before every last Wyvergen egg had been demolished.

The vengeance that Ferrant exacted in his rage upon that guilty party who’d robbed him of his heirs is one that will be whispered of for generations to come.  The infidel was flayed alive, his finger and toenails ripped off, his eyelids removed, his bloody body skewered by spikes driven through his thighs and biceps and hung up to dry in the relentless, blazing, unforgiveable sun.  His screams of agony could be heard for miles.  For weeks while he hung there, he begged any passersby to kill him.  But all feared the wrath of their new ferocious and fiery tempered king, and none would dare act against him, nor would any have wanted to give succor to the beast who had so gravely wronged their beloved leaders.

Ferrant turned the bastille upside down and inside out to fully comprehend every subtle nuance of its structure down to each brick and stone, and the tiniest last nail hole of every nook and cranny within the castle walls, so that none could ever again pass through at any point without full knowledge of the palace guard.  Still, Aryaeth could not be consoled over her loss.  She fell into a deep, brooding silence, hardly bothering to emerge from her bedchamber; she would suffer none but Ferrant near her, and even then, she barely let him talk or touch her.  She could not forgive herself for not being at the royal nesting lair to defend her eggs.   She would gladly have ripped to shreds with her bare teeth even the smallest fly that would walk across their delicate shells, had she only been there to shield them, but instead, they had been left alone while she slept, with no bosom to tend them, no blade to guard them.  There was no absolution for a mother who did not fight for her young, she said.

Ferrant was beside himself to know how to please her, and for the second time threw himself upon the altar of Vaghdystra and prayed for guidance.  Vaghdystra’s response was to demonstrate to him how to give his bride love and security, showing him a vision of himself raiding the surrounding and far off lands to fill his kingdom’s storehouses with treasure to strengthen his refuge against future foes, enough to outlast the longest siege against the heartiest enemies.  He saw his triumphant hoard winning caches of fortune unmeasured, so expansive as to be incomprehensible beyond his already accumulated masses.

She also showed him a passionate vision of conceiving the next clutch with his love, but, unbeknownst to Ferrant, that was no vision, but Vaghdystra had entranced him, and she herself had come to him in the embodiment of his mate.  And so, the Goddess of Dark Majesty, Mother of Dragons took into her own flesh and blood the Bazylaethne seed of the powerful conquering hero of her people, Ferrant Aldrik, The Silver Sword, and with it and her own divine ovum, she conjured a single enchanted spawn within her loins.

She then rousted Ferrant from his erotic haze, directing him in a wisp of inspiration to carry out her dream induced instructions, bewitching him with an aphrodisiac pheromone so potent and robust his bride would be powerless to resist, so, not believing that he had yet done so but in a fantasy, he made love to his mate, who became once again impregnated with the strongest line yet known to Wyvergen kind, as well as the charmed semi-deified spore that Vaghdystra herself, present in spirit, passed into the surrogate Bazylaethne womb of Aryaeth Querangyn, The Golden Glory.

Upon the following morrow, Ferrant, still enthralled with a divine sense of purpose, kissed his bride and crept away to the spoils of adventure, as his vision had ordained, intent on bringing home a paragon of riches for his Goddess and his Queen, as his holy mission dictated.  Within a few weeks, word arrived to his fighting troops on the front lines that the kingdom once again rejoiced with his family over the clutch his reigning consort had borne, a fine collection of silver and gold specimen, and, most notably, one solitary cerulean egg, larger than that of the greatest giant ever known, darker than a royal jewel, deeper than the ocean blue, shining more brightly than a dying star.

Ferrant was addled.  Could it be?  Had the ancient prophecy been borne at last upon his time?  Was he in fact to be the sire of the Chromatic Cobalt, the Wyvergen Deliverer?  Had the love of his life brought forth the Herald of his Goddess’ Majesty?  He could hardly contain himself.  He left his army where they stood and raced back to his home.  If he’d have had wings, he’d have flown.  The weeks of his journey back felt both like the blink of an eye and all the fleeting sands of an entire lifetime.  But nothing could have prepared him for what he found upon his return.


Ferrant arrived at Castle Praenago to find his people in great distress.   Once again, the royal nesting lair had been destroyed, but this time, the crown jewel, the fulfillment of the prophecy, had been stolen.  And, worse.  Far worse.  His one true love, his companion, his partner, his consort, his Queen, had been slain.  They’d found her in a pool of Eidoli blood, surrounded by a mob of slaughtered bodies.

The number of the fallen astounded even the heartiest of weathered warriors.  Never had any known in the history of war the stand of any one combatant against such insurmountable odds.  Not in the bloodiest battles recorded among Wyvergen, nor man, nor any known entity had any living creature withstood for so long, taking out so many, in the face of such a relentless onslaught.

And even so, her battered, beaten, bruised and bloodied form showed that she’d not been felled by blade nor tooth or claw, but by an unyielding barrage of magic, the sheer power and force of which could hardly be fathomed, that she could even see or breathe, much less wield a weapon and continue her path of destruction to protect her eggs.

It was suspected by her people that in that moment, the Queen’s bombarded body could only have been powered with the strength of the very Goddess herself.   The tale of her last stand to this day among all peoples of the known world who’ve heard it has become the universal symbol of a mother’s undying ferocity in love and devotion to protect and defend her young.


Ferrant, believing that no outside force could have broken into the castle, thought the massacre to be the result of an inside job, and set about to execute the whole of his palace guard.  His frenzied paroxysm of violent fury could so scarcely be subsumed, those near him nearly believed he would explode from within.  But, a wily servant, newly having worked his way into the employ of the royal castle from the most recent overthrow of this alcazar, one Basiblis Dronall Volrethien, spoke up against such madness.

Dronall pointed out to Ferrant that the invaders were Eidoli, of the Penumbral, and that their passage into this realm could only be achieved by magic.  He referenced the murder of Ferrant’s beloved as one of magical forces, not of brute strength.  Ferrant realized of course it couldn’t have been any of those he trusted.  Dronall further proffered that only the enemies of Vaghdystra could have executed such a heinous crime against the most elite among the chosen of the Dark Queen.  He implied that no matter its physical defenses, the castle could not be secure from enemies of this sort, and proposed that only magic could fight against magic.  He humbly offered his meager services to the king, simple trifling parlor tricks, he professed, a few mere potions and spells, he would gladly surrender his eternal submission to project the majesty of the Kingdom of the Silver Sword.

Shaken by grief and distemper, in a daze of shock, Ferrant, scarcely aware of his surroundings, agreed to Dronall’s assistance, and left the scene, mumbling incoherently.  It was the last time his people would see their leader in his right mind.


What Ferrant did not know, was that Dronall was no low level magus, but a Master Warlock — of the Demonshade, and that he did not serve Vaghdystra, but Darwyrdios, the Lord of Destruction, Progenitor of Demons.  His magic was powerful, malicious, and deadly.  He knew of the prophecy of the Dark Queen’s progeny, as well as what the ramifications would be to his race of people, and to his own house, and he had recognized the signs that pointed to its fulfillment in Ferrant’s family, his history, and his destiny.

Dronall was an outcast from a dynasty who had enslaved a moiety of Blethine, and through decades of practiced wizardry while still in his family’s good graces, he had acquired the skills of the cognalescants.  Dronall had learned to focus the sound of his voice so that he could both mark and manipulate his target when he spoke, as well as attack his will at such a subconscious level that he wouldn’t even feel the intrusion on his senses, as Dronall’s magic latched on to his very lifeforce, and slowly drained it of its essence.

It was in this manner that Dronall managed to obtain Ferrant’s agreement and cooperation; it was in this manner that the caitiff rose to power second to the King himself, as Chief Advisor to His Majesty; it was in this manner that Dronall Volrethien enslaved the mental facilities of the Silver Sword, and it was in this manner that the black sheep of the house of DeSouzza controlled Ferrant Aldrik of the Bazylaethne line, the kingdom of Raltakun Praenago, and the growing Empire of Wyvergen.


Under Dronall’s manipulation, Ferrant retreated deep into the castle, failing to go forth and conquer new lands, refusing to tend to the duties of his kingdom, neglecting the needs of his people.  Dronall become his mouthpiece, and spoke on his behalf, saying the heavyhearted ruler could not bear to know that when his love had been murdered, she died suffering alone in his castle while he was away from her side, and so he could not bring himself to ever leave the presence of the spirit she imprinted on the castle walls with her blood in the most glorious combat ever witnessed this side of the heavens.

Nevermore seeing him, but hearing only rumors that at night he roamed the empty halls she last tread, his people came to know him as Barkarne Ferrant Aldrik, and prayed to Vaghdystra that on some sunny day his lonely soul might know peace, and that he might restore his people to their former dignity and grandeur, for under Dronall’s usurped authority, they had come to know naught but misfortune and misery.

Dronall informed the citizenry of Praenago that their leader had ordered every available resource go towards an exhaustive manhunt, an unwavering quest to all corners of the known world for the safe return of his missing kidnapped offspring, Nadira, the Sapphire Wyvergen, and he imposed and brutally enforced a hefty, stifling tax throughout the land to secure infinite funding for his intractable crusade.  It was believable to the King's subjects that he would spare no expense, leave no stone unturned, to return the stolen treasure that had cost the queen mother her life, but, in reality, it was Dronall himself who squandered the treasury to his own ends, pandering, pressuring, and politicking, making back door deals with other territories, even those the Wyvergen would know as enemies, and driving the peasantry and nobility alike into abject poverty.  Though, none knew the truth or the extent of his underhanded dealings.

With the freeflowing fountain of Praenago’s prosperity dried up, the mercenary hoard who’d loyally served the king in battle and in conquest made to flee the realm, but were met with opposition from Dronall’s military guard, made up of enchanted gollum and undead soldiers.  Those fiercest and most hardened fighters managed to escape with their lives.  Those who were not put to the sword were sold into slavery to the enemies of the kingdom, or whichever peoples offered the highest bidding, including some which had met defeat at the hand of the king’s forces.  Eventually, even the best of the most dedicated Wyvergen houses retreated from the oppression of the Basiblis tyrant.

For a while, it seemed Vaghdystra no longer smiled upon the silverskin ruler of her dragonmen.  But, that is not the end of this story, and this would not be the fate of the Bazylaethne line.  For somewhere out there, a seed sown had yet to be nurtured, cultivated and grown... upon its development, that little sprout would change the face of history for all creatures under the sun...

...but that is a story for another day.

LJ Idol | Season 9 • Week 26 - Topic: CRABS IN A BARREL
This post has been brought to you by an association with the online writing community forum, LJ Idol.
If you have enjoyed this entry, please feel free to speak your piece, share the love, and pass it on...
                                                                                                               ...and thanks for stopping by.



Barkarne Ferrant Aldrik  (Status Unknown)
Bar-CAR-Nay • FAIR-ahnt • ALL-Drick:
"Lonely Gray Ruler" 
Wyvergen King  (Bazylaethne lineage – Known as "The Silver Sword")
Sire of Nadira / Mate of Aryaeth / Ruler of Praenago

Aryaeth Querangyn (DECEASED)
ARE-Yəth • CARE-engin:
"Fierce Noble Mother of Dark Power"
Wyvergen Queen  (Bazylaethne lineage – Known as "The Golden Glory")
Mother of Nadira / Mate of Ferrant / Ruler of Praenago

Khacyei Ibarhan (Status Unknown)
KHA-(like Khan)-Chay (like chain) • EE-bah-Ron:
"Brave, Observant/alert/vigorous Devoted Noble Spirit Warrior"
Wyvergen Ranger
Hero of/Mentor to Nadira

NADIRA Bazylaethne
Nə-DEER-ah • BAH-zill-LAYth-knee:
"One who is rare and hard to find Royal Fire"
Wyvergen Ranger
Vaghdystra's worldly kingdom heir apparent

Dronall Volrethien
Drone-ALL • VAHL-rəh-Thane:
"Stranger/Counselor Stolen rule of the people"
Basiblis Master Warlock, Demonshade
Advisor to/Destroyer of King Ferrant / Usurper of the Throne of Praenago

Kerian Gillivray
CARRY-ən • GIL-(as in fish)-live-Ray:
"Dark Servant of Judgment"
Eidoli (of the Penumbral) Invoker/Sorceror
Religious Wizard of Vaghdystra / Servant of/Spiritual Guide to Nadira

Raltakun Praenago
RAHL-tə-Koon • Pray-NAH-Go:
"Realm of Dragonmen"
Location – Wyvergen Stronghold
Place of Nadira's birth / Kingdom of Nadira's parents/Khacyei

Agent Orange: A Dog-Eat-Dog Tale


There was suddenly light shining down upon the group once more, and Milo knew that meant the cycle was about to start all over again. It didn’t always go the same way, but it always ended up the same... in destruction, devastation, and finally, darkness. There would be havoc, terror, carnage, and then... nothing.

But first, at least he’d be able to slip back into familiar territory for a while before it was all over. He just hoped he’d be able to block out the nightmares this time.


Milo hunched down low, peering through his binoculars out over the ridge for any sign of movement.

1. Milo - Recon


Lloyd, next to him, on his belly with his rifle at the ready, held his breath, his eagle eyes trained to spot the slightest change in color down on the rocky terrain. Lloyd was always at the ready. Milo suspected his trigger finger itched every moment of every day, and supposed he probably had to lotion it up at night... he grimaced at that mental image. The only sound between them was the occasional smacking of Lloyd’s gum. Milo tried not to let it get to him. He had a job to do, he knew how to do it, and he was good at it. Same thing went for everyone on the team — he knew he could count on them to get his back, even if none of them might have been his first choice for dinner companions. None of that mattered out here, though.

2. Lloyd - Sniper


Moving just passed their left, the Captain stood over them both as he came up behind their position, with his duo of gunmen flanking him on either side. Lloyd never gave any mind to Captain Willoughby’s maneuvers in action, mostly because Lloyd never gave any mind to much of anything he wasn’t about to kill, but it bothered Milo that the man never took cover. He was a proven battle commander, but he always took first position, leading the men out in front, beckoning them to follow up, urging them to keep a close tail on his 6. Nothing wrong with bravery, but foolhardiness, now that was another matter entirely. Milo was sure this rowdy crew would tear each other apart without their figurehead, and the Captain tended to keep a stance that was liable to make that a realistic possibility at any moment, and probably sooner, at that, rather than later.

3. Willoughby - Captain


At least he’d been able to convince him to travel with the Bobbsey twins, Frank and Hank. Or was it Freddy and Teddy? Milo was fairly certain the Captain never remembered their names, if that was even what he called them, at all... the monikers he used might just as easily have merely been designations Willoughby had assigned to whosever job it was to be his watch dogs for the day.

4. Captain and Gunmen


Milo couldn’t keep track of just how many Frank-Hank / Freddie-Teddy duos they’d already gone through... not that he’d need to... there were always dozens more just like them where they’d come from, lining up to be next on the list. Seems everybody is somebody’s bitch.

5. Gunmen


Except maybe Curtis.

You might think a man who’d been issued a gun would be content to use it, but shooting the enemy from afar was entirely too impersonal for Curtis, and he never pulled the trigger on his bayonet unless absolutely necessary. He preferred to be able to look into a man’s eyes and see the fear of death in them as the life drained away from him, to feel the hot blood running down his arm as he drew the knife out from the enemy’s gut. One could say Curtis had what would propably be considered by many to be an unhealthy obsession with the love of a good blade, but these were the kinds of times in which men looked the other way on such things. More than one man on the team owed his life to that particular fetish, so no one complained about Curtis. To him, the gun was just a really long handle for his knife. He used it like an exercise tool, doing bayonet calisthenics, gun-knife Tai-Chi, etc., and was always sharpening and polishing it, carrying it delicately, careful to keep it from being damaged by water.

My weapon is an extension of me, he’d say.

As long as he knew how to use it when the time came, nobody really minded what else he did with it.



Hot on the Captain’s heels, Roger scooted up to the edge of the ridge with the portable com unit, ready to receive Milo’s word of the enemy on the field below. He would need those calculations to relay the target coordinates to air support, and to keep the operation together. Roger was the soldier with the signal, the buzz in every man’s ear. This was the place, they were sure of it. They just needed visual confirmation of the enemy’s presence for the strike to go ahead. Roger was a patient man. The Captain relied on him.  His team depended on him. When everything hinged on the entire unit moving in synch, it was more important to get it right than to jump the gun.



Their infantry forces waited in the thick of the forest while Milo continued to watch the enemy base, thinly concealed in a small expanse of desert. Through Milo, they were all waiting for a sign — any sign — that the enemy was there.

Arthur approached from the rear at a brisk trot, his surveyor in hand. It was always a good sign when Arthur was in a hurry.  He spent so much of his time in a concentrated focus, he liked to take advantage of every opportunity not in his MOS to let loose and move his muscles whenever he could. Still dripping with the sweat of a man who’s just tiptoed through hostile territory behind a minesweeper, he took a moment to catch his breath, and made his report. He had marked clear the path they would take to the combat zone. As long the strike team followed his marks, they should be good to go.



The plan was to take the jeep down from the ridge to where the tank waited to move in for a rapid assault. Well, as rapid as a tank will move, anyway. They would need speed, though. The desert topography wouldn’t provide any camouflage for the unit as they moved from the shadow of the wooded terrain out onto the hot sand in their jungle fatigues. The enemy, decked out in their pebble browns and grays, blended in naturally with the arid environment, but their team would be spotted and called out as soon as they hit dirt, so the plan had to be tight, and it had to go off without a hitch.

Roger checked in with Milo, then did a cursory rundown of the men’s positions. There was a place for every man, and every man was in his place. He began checking off an electronic roll call.

There was Russell.
Russell made everyone nervous.  He was the grenadier, and insisted on always carrying his weapon live. You never know when you might need one, he’d say.  Only problem was, Russell was a hot head.  You never knew when HE might go off.



They were quite the pair, he and his launcher, Norman.  They’d been known to play catch with active weaponry.  They’d never intentionally put anyone on the squad in jeopardy, but it seemed to Milo that much like the explosive he carried, Russell himself was a ticking time bomb, and every day that didn’t end with him blowing the entire troop to bits was just one day closer to the inevitable meltdown when he would.

About Norman, though, he simply had no way of knowing. Milo just couldn’t get a read on him.  The man never spoke to anyone but Russell. But at least both of them were solidly planted in position, so best not to go stirring up any trouble now.



There was Bazooka Joe, on one knee, anxiously awaiting the command.



Ambrose, the flamethrower, his pack strapped on, was on his mark, ready to move ahead.



Jasper and Lewis, the machine gunners, were chomping at the bit, Jasper more than Lewis. Jasper was the shoot-first, ask-questions-later type, but Lewis kept a clear head, with a slow and steady pace. Together, they made a good team. Lewis was confirming the configurations on the tripod,

16. Lewis - Machine Gunner, Tripod


while Jasper was jogging in place next to him, a belt of ammo wrapped three layers thick around his waist, eager to run, and working himself up into an adrenaline powered mental psych-out.



Lewis also had a strong bond with Clarence, the Marksman / Sharpshooter. They both knew how to keep their wits about them when the time came. Clarence, on one knee, easily picked off any forces that Lewis missed with his indiscriminate spray. It was clear to see from their posture they had already wordlessly linked between them in that silent groove they so naturally fell into together when they needed to be of one mind for occasions such as the oncoming advance. Jasper knew well enough to make sure to keep his movements out of their path of destruction.

Plastic Army


That was the last of them.  It seemed the whole first strike team was all on their marks, set, and ready to go.  They just needed to get the call to hit the ground running and pave the way in for the larger infantry force waiting in the woods.

And then, like a shooting star, Milo spotted it. A flash of metal reflecting sun.

They were down there. It was go time.

Milo relayed the coordinates to Roger to call for the air strike, and the overhead boys swooped in like a bird of prey, laying down a blanket of covering fire the ground crew followed in behind.

With Lloyd at his perch, Milo watched from his bird’s eye view as the enemy foot soldiers were picked off one by one by his companions, and from over his shoulder, he could hear the Captain’s order to Charge.

As the infantry moved up the line, Milo took note of his comrades.  All he could hear around him were the sounds of battle.  The popping of gunshots — rat-a-tat-tat! — and explosions — kapow! — mingled with the screams of the fallen — Aiiiieee! Aiergh!  Gah!

Mexican Standoff


But then, all of a sudden, there came from above a high pitched whistle.  A looming dark shadow fell over the battle field, and the ground beneath them began to shake.

Incoming!  He heard Lloyd yell from beside him.

Fire in the hole!  Someone else called out.

Retreat, retreat!  He could hear the Captain’s voice on the com in his ear.

As the sky blackened, and the earth quaked, Milo looked on in horror as he realized this wasn’t just some massive airborne missile... both sides were about to take heavy casualties from this strike.  That shadow, so huge, so looming... what in the blue hell was that?  What new form of WMD could block out the sun, and upset the ground beneath them?

Friend and foe alike went flying in every direction.  Buildings crumbled, trees were felled, the jeep was overturned.  The chopper dropped out of the sky like a boat anchor, and the tank flipped belly up like a pond turtle.  And the thing hadn’t even landed yet!  Who in the universe had that kind of firepower?

It was bedlam.  It was pandemonium.  Just like his nightmares, it was almost indescribable.

Was this even really happening?

And then he saw it.

From his vantage point, Milo could see the whole thing laid out before him like a bad dream.  The cycle had come around again, just like he knew it would.  He never knew how to stop it.  There was nothing he could do for anyone now.  It always ended the same.  In that moment, he had to accept his fate.

There was a loud ringing in his ears, like metal on metal, and Milo looked up toward the end that was rapidly descending upon him.  He had to shield his eyes from the blinding light... it was so gigantic, he couldn’t even take it all in at once, and he was nearly dazed by its ginger color...

...was this that agent orange he’d heard about?

Milo held his breath and waited for the darkness to overtake him once more, just as it always did.

Agent Orange



Milo was accustomed to the darkness.  He never knew how long it would last, but he always remembered to expect it, though sometimes only at the beginning of another cycle, and then again just before the end was upon them all another time.

He’d have visions of the nightmares — of previous cycles — in the darkness, and he was sure this last one would now be added to them.  But as time passed in the darkness, like an arctic cold slowly freezing his mind, he would begin to forget, to become numb.

As soon as they found themselves blinking in the light, he knew they were in the middle of another cycle.  But Milo seemed to be the only one able to see through these episodes, to know that they were repeating.  Or maybe, he was just the only one who cared.

Everyone else had always seemed to be able to convincingly brainwash themselves into believe this was their life, and this was all there was to it.  They looked at him with enough alarm when he tried to get them to remember, themselves, the light, the darkness — anything from before this cycle — that he knew not to bring it up in a cycle.  Even Milo himself couldn’t always maintain his awareness throughout the entire cycle, though, and by the time the darkness had overtaken them again, when he could conceptualize it again, by then it was too late, and even if there were others within their group who understood, he never had time to compare notes with them... they were all just... gone.

He didn’t know what kind of a man he must have been in another life, to be have been caught up in this eternity loop of battle and death, but he knew he wanted out.  Is that what they mean when they say War is Hell?  Perhaps after all, what they really mean, is that Hell is War.

But now he was in darkness.

This time, though, it was different somehow.  The darkness, normally a quiet void of light, thought, and in time, even memory, was... active.  There were noises, there were other... things? in the same space, and there was motion.  He could hear that same ringing in his ears, like metal on metal.  No, not ringing now... jingling.  And there was rumbling all around him.  No, not rumbling... gurgling.

He felt certain that he was moving... traveling, somehow, he didn’t know where.  It was hot, and cramped... he could feel pressure.  In the darkness, he was normally surrounded by emptiness, and felt nothing.  But, now, though it was dark, his senses were still aware of his surroundings.  He couldn’t see — it was too dark — but he could hear, and feel.

It happened that Milo had no sense of smell, he didn’t know how, though he imagined he’d lost it as a side-effect of some childhood disease he couldn’t remember anymore.  At least, that seemed to him a more interesting way to account for his impairment than just being born without it, but he had no idea, really.  Milo supposed, now, though, given the ...consistency... of this new dark — no, let’s call it a dark space, it was too alive to be called the darkness that he knew — that it was probably a pretty good thing his nose didn’t work quite like noses are supposed to.

Without the sun — or a digital readout — to inform him, Milo had no concept of the passage of time, but he knew that he’d been in the dark space for longer than he’d ever been able to hang on to his visions — of the cycles, the nightmares, the transition between light and darkness — when he suddenly felt an abrupt stop, a violent shaking, and a keen awareness that something was happening.

There was a great pressure all around him, like the entire environment within the dark space was being pushed upon him, and it was all being squeezed together.  Then, as quick as it had begun, he was moving.  There was a shift, like the whole of his surroundings from inside the dark space was separating, first slowly, and then at a rapid, even whooshing pace, not unlike the experience of being tripped and falling into a foxhole, and then, he, it, perhaps the dark space itself, landed with a splat against a solid surface, and Milo felt ground beneath him.

More importantly, though, there was light. It was dark, at first, and he was covered in... something, but it was something that was permeated by the light.  Something, as he soon realized, pulling himself out of it, he was very glad he couldn’t smell.

As he began to loosen himself from the remnants of the dark space, he looked up, and he could see the sky.  He was in light again.  But it hadn’t just come upon him... he had gone to it.

Could this be the end of the cycle?  Was he finally truly free?  Milo lifted his face to the heavens.  Freedom... at last.  He surveyed the world around him.  Freedom never felt — or smelled — so good!



Milo worked to remove himself from the substance surrounding him, and after a moment or two, as he moved, stirring in the muck as it settled, a helmet toppled from another head, and rolled onto his lap.  It was Lloyd’s.  Milo sorted through the dark matter to trace back where the helmet had come from, and found Lloyd himself.  He was passed out, but he was alive.  Turned out, Milo might not be the only one to have been seeking a way to break free from the cycle.

Slinging the unconscious man’s dead weight over his back, Milo waded through the sludge with his newly acquired baggage, and started off on whatever adventure was in store for the two of them, not knowing what would happen next, but excited to be putting the darkness behind him, and maybe, even, just a little glad he didn’t have to experience this newfound life of freedom all alone.

He Ain*t Heavy


Looks like he’d get to find out how well he’d tolerate Lloyd as a dinner companion, after all.

LJ Idol | Season 9 • Week 25 - Topic: OVERWATCH
This post has been brought to you by an association with the online writing community forum, LJ Idol.
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Capstan of the Shift


Captain Torren Scott wandered the engineering catwalk more heavy hearted than he generally did most evenings.  With so much on his mind, his nightly routine became much less the meditative stroll that was his normal habit before turning in, and more of a restless, pacing kind of patrol.  During the day, when he wanted to be seen, and to interact with passengers and crew, he walked the promenade, offering greetings and addressing issues as they came to him along his path.

But this ritual after-curfew trek, this was about communion with the vessel that carried them all.  He usually treasured this quiet time alone with his ship, his footfalls keeping a rhythm with the humming of her engines, his hands stroking along the bulkhead of the maintenance shaft, where he could feel the steady vibration of her core.  It was these moments when he felt most in tune with her.  They normally had such a natural harmony together.  But lately, just today, in fact — she had been acting up, and he didn’t know why.

She was a good bird, the Cupertino.  But she was in the second stage of her third 10-year repopulation mission, and there had been rumors afloat from the California Commission that she would not see a 4th.  The work they’d done within these chambers was important — revolutionary, even — and the stories she’d tell if her hulls could talk... well, they would be no less than legendary.  Oh, they had seen some things together, this ship and her Captain.  She certainly deserved better than to be put out to pasture, or worse, docked at some station as a museum to showcase the history of the first waves of migration.

          “Tourists!,” grunted Torren, the sound of his unexpected voice echoing around him in the empty vestibule.  It seemed the ship, reverberating his sudden outburst back to him, shared his sentiment.

But after the day he’d had, he could certainly see the logic in bringing her in to the sustention bay for a diagnostic overview as soon as they touched back down at home on Terra Prime.

It had started with his morning tea.  Or at least, that was when he’d first become aware of the problem.  The Captain was always up before the galley would be serving, and he never wanted to make a nuisance of himself to the hard working folks there, tirelessly laboring to put on a hearty spread for so many.  So, as he normally would on any other day, he’d stopped by a materials printer for his regular chai latte on his way to the bridge.

          “Black Tea, Spiced Chai, Breve, Hot,” he’d stated clearly to the audio interface, giving the command to the printer in the sequence that it would most efficiently process the materials and procedures to complete his usual order.

The printer made a whirring, clicking sound, and he thought he faintly smelled smoke, but it produced nothing.  Captain Scott repeated the command sequence, but again, nothing.  Not to be denied his daily dose of caffeine by an insubordinate appliance, the Captain opened the manual input panel, and entered his order by hand.  This time, he was certain he smelled smoke, and there was a loud pop as the printer shook, and spit out something he could neither recognize nor comprehend.

It seemed to be some sort of baked loaf, but it had spots of something red melted into it, and there were metal spikes protruding from it.  Torren poked at the loaf, carefully.  The outer shell opened at his touch, steam wafting up from it, carrying a foul stench like ammonia.  Inside, a heavy metal chain was attached to the spikes that had been jutting through from this bizarre concoction.

          “Cupertino,” Torren said aloud, addressing the ship’s computer.  “What has the materials printer just given me?”

                    “Processing,” the ship’s computer responded, running his query.  “The materials printer has produced your order, as requested, Captain,” the Cupertino mainframe answered after a moment.

Captain Scott blinked.  That was not the answer he’d been expecting.  Not that there was any precedent for this.  Clearly, he needed to take another tack.

          “Cupertino,” the Captain tried again.  “What did I just order from the materials printer?”

                    “Bleach the spiked chain bread redhot,” the Cupertino responded automatically.

Wondering if he was so tired and desperate for his wake-up juice that he’d managed to bungle the entry entirely, Torren opened up the panel again, this time carefully watching the display as he input the characters from the keyboard.

B – l – a – c - k, he started to input, and watched as the display converted his letters before he’d finished them.  There, in front of him, the output clearly read, “Bleach.”  He watched this pattern repeat as he continued the rest of the command sequence.

T – e – a  became “the.”

S – p – i – c – e – d  became “spiked.”

C – h – a – i  was converted to “chain.”

B – r – e – v – e  changed into “bread.”

H – o – t  switched to “redhot.”

Torren decided to forgo the production of that same ridiculous compound again, but, not being in a mode to have any interest in futzing around with manual override, he cleared out the entry, and made a mental note to speak with maintenance about this printer, hoping this annoying glitch did not represent a global system malfunction throughout the entire ship.  He would still really like to have some tea this morning, but he determined to suck it up, for now.  Worst case scenario, he could always go to the galley once the staff had breakfast ready, but he’d prefer to avoid that, if possible.  There, he’d have to deal with colonists, and that was a lot to ask of an old spacefaring dog who hadn’t yet had his morning caffeine.

Captain Scott turned on his heel to head towards the bridge, but then thought better of it.

          “Screw it,” he muttered.

What was the benefit of being Captain of the ship if he couldn’t take advantage of some of the perks now and then?  So what if the commissary wasn’t open yet?   The galley crew would be there, preparing first seating.  Surely they could handle whipping up a hot spiced chai breve for their Captain.  It’s not like he was underfoot all the time.  He made an about-face, and headed toward the galley.

The galley crew was bustling about a bit more than usual when Torren reached the mess.  He was nearly bowled over twice by cooks and stewards running around like the world was ending before someone took notice of him.  The Captain asked,

           “What in my blue heaven is going on?”

It seemed the printers in the galley were on the fritz as well.  They were experiencing the same weird input glitch the Captain had already seen demonstrated by his request for tea.  The galley crew had spent a fair portion of the morning trying to get them to work, only to find that the manual override failsafes were not being accepted by the impaired instruments.

Fortunately, for anyone aboard who might be hungry at any point in the next few hours, this was not a major setback.  Most of the meals prepared on the ship were made with meats and starches carried on board and stowed in the provisions holds, and vegetables and spices grown in the hydroponics bays.  So, if the material printers weren’t functioning properly, it’s not like the ship’s entire complement couldn’t be fed.  But, there would have to be adjustments made.

Processed foods, such as breads, condiments, sauces, dressings, refined sugars, etc., were prepped using the printers, to minimize space required to store the ingredients used to make them, or the energy needed for the preservation of multitudes of containers carrying those items.  The Chief Cook was beside himself trying to reschedule the planned meals for the next week without any processed additives.  It would not be impossible, but it was going to take some skillful coordination.

Captain Scott, after collecting his tea — fresh brewed from the galley’s on-hand dry goods stock — encouraged the Chief Cook that he had every confidence the ship’s master gourmand was equal to the task.  He also reassured the man that he was pretty certain no one in the mess would miss the synthetic swill that passed for ship’s wine in these next few coming days.

Besides, it wouldn’t be too much longer, now.  They were less than two weeks out from their destination, and would be reaching the planet none too soon, either.  The voyage across the galaxy had begun to wear on those not so accustomed to long space travel.

His morning brew procured, the Captain finally started toward the bridge.  The day had gotten off to a rocky start, but, all things considered, there had been only a few minor inconveniences all around.  He was sure his service team would be on top of this glitch right away... would probably have it cleared up before lunch.

As it turned out, though, this day wasn’t going to get any better... in fact, before too long, it would get much, much worse.  Throughout mid-morning, reports continued to come in to Captain Scott from all over the ship about weird, random occurrences of computer system failures impacting day-to-day ship operations in the most unusual ways.

In the infirmary, patients were being misread by the automated diagnostic system as other patients with similar-sounding names, and treated with improper medications and techniques.  It was all the CMO could do to keep the ailing from the brink of cardiac failure, and this even in cases where they might have only come in for minor treatment!  Thankfully, no one was drastically debilitated or irreparably harmed during the mixup, but in the end, the staff had to switch off all automated medical tools, and revert to practicing old-fashioned mortar-and-pestle style medicine.

It felt a bit like the dark ages, and was certainly less efficient, but — knock-on-wood — there hadn’t been any major ship-wide emergency situations for quite some time, and hopefully — fingers crossed — there wouldn’t be again any time soon.  The more arcane process would at least get the job done, albeit a bit more slowly, but that shouldn’t represent more than a minor period of discomfort for some, so long as the beds didn’t fill up and there wasn’t a pressing need for an already overworked medical crew to manage too many patients.  It would simply have to be an exercise in patience for everyone involved.

In the cargo holds, where a wide array of plants and livestock were kept to be distributed amongst the various settlement zones across the planet’s multiple colonies — each stored in ecological sections, segmented according to the conditions most resembling the prime hospitable environments for the flora and fauna contained within — the climate controls were acting up like crazy, shifting between system types within a matter of hours, adjusting the systems of all storage areas toward a base level equal to the rest of the ship.  It seems the Cupertino was reinterpreting the programmed climates codes with words that had nothing to do with environmental conditions (Tropical became “Trophy,” Desert became “Deserve,” Mountain became “Mouthwash,” Tundra became “Tuned,” etc.), and as a result, the ship had no relevant data to interpret about the requested climate conditions, and therefore reset the programming for all stored ecosystems to the conditions it most naturally recognized.

The colonies’ environmental teams had to take all the climate control programming offline, and reset each temperature manually, by numerical input.  It’s a good thing most members of that crew had been involved in the Terraforming project phase of the mission, so they knew the conditions of the planet’s various climates well enough to simulate them without help from the mainframe.  It was no small task, either, staying one step ahead of a natural disaster.  They were able to narrowly miss losing any livestock, but it was going to be touch-and-go once they got to the surface to determine if the vegetation — after enduring such harsh extremes — would take root, once transplanted.  Only time would tell, at that point.

There were many other instances of similar issues... so many that the Captain could almost hardly keep track of them all.  By that time he had learned of the third case of computer system shenanigans, Captain Scott had realized this problem was more than a mainframe hiccup, or a simple appliance glitch.  Something was attacking the ship from the inside out.  As soon as he’d recognized the matter was no small potatoes — fairly early on in the morning — he’d alerted engineering right away, but by then, there was no need.

The Chief of Engineering had already become aware of the issue even before the Captain, and had been preparing a report for Torren when he was contacted from the bridge.  The engineering crew was already working all over the ship, crawling in and out of maintenance tubes, systematically running diagnostics on biocell by cell, trying to isolate the source.  They’d had to perform the tests manually, since any tool with a digital readout could not be trusted, and that meant a great deal of manpower, and a fair chunk of time.

While the Cupertino had busied herself all day with changing the syntax of programmed commands into other words that looked similar but did not mean anything remotely close, then following the adjusted programming — often to peculiar effect — whereever possible, or simply shutting down or resetting whereever impossible, so far, the outcomes of these system changes had been relatively minimal.  It was only by the skin of their teeth — and the quick thinking of most of her crew, who’d had to get the drop on that situation fast enough to avert any impending catastrophe all day long — that the Cupertino was even still running.

But how long before there would be a cataclysmic defect that was irreversible and devastating to the ship, and all 1,492 souls on board?  It was going to be a long night, and they had all best ready themselves for whatever was coming next. What was coming next, as it turned out, was the most terrible of the dreadful events the day, by far, and it was discovered just past the dinner hour.

The Captain was on the quarterdeck with an after dinner old-fashioned — seriously contemplating turning in early to get some rest, figuring he was about to need it, very soon — when the Chief’s latest report came in.  Apparently, when the engineering team had reached the holds for volatile, combustible materials, they could smell the greatest mishap to happen yet, while they were yet several decks away.

Eliminated matter flushed from the head throughout the entire ship passed through a filtration system, before being released on a regular cycle — once every six hours — to be converted into fertilizer for the mulch used in growing the ship’s vegetables for her crew, and the colonist passengers.  It seems that when the Cupertino had converted the programming for management of the ship’s waste disposal, she’d changed the directive for the dumping destination from “Hydroponics Bay, Compost Receptacle,” to “Hydrogen Bank Composition Reception.”  It was a sigh of relief — as much as anyone could breathe in that area, that is — that there weren’t any direct pipelines into any of the chemical tanks, and so the unpleasantness had only been dumped on the floor of the holding anteroom that stored the tanks.

While this was certainly among the least desirable circumstance for anyone onboard to have to endure, much less the brave, hardy crew members working directly in that space, at least the drastic nature of this particular calamity did allow an enterprising member of the Engineering team to finally piece together an important link of the overall puzzle, and recognize a running theme connecting all of the blunders they’d experienced throughout the day to one another.  It was as obvious as a pile of crap in the middle of the floor.

Each of the flukes had some connection to biological materials.  No systems pertaining only to technological operations had misfired.  Armed with this useful bit of data, and a better idea of what they were — and were not — looking for, the team was able to pinpoint their search efforts, and shortly thereafter, they zeroed in on the culprit.

Whether it was the result of an accident or sabotage would have to be determined later, but it was certain that a small colony of the nanobots used in the Terraforming stage of the mission had been left onboard after that stage was complete, and had been released into the wild on the ship.  Discharged from the constraints of their normal parameters, they had sought out a way to follow their directives, and had found the nanobot technology infused into the ship’s biomechanical engineering cells — the ones that normally kept the ship in a constant state of self-diagnosis and repair — and each group of bots had “infected” the other with its own programming directives, until neither could functionally accomplish what they were designed to do.

The Chief had determined that since both sets of nanobots were made by the same company, using the same technology, that they could effectively all be reprogrammed with the same directives, and reinitiated to perform as intended.  Unfortunately, the only way to accomplish this, was to effectively restore the original programming of the main set of bots that were designed for the ship, and the only way to also impact the smaller group, was to “reboot” the entire system.  Once they had done so, in theory, the intruder nanobots would power up as if they were the same as those which originated on the ship.

It was a potentially dangerous solution, but it was the best shot they had.  The Chief was going to need the Captain’s go ahead to power down all non-critical systems, leaving only life support on.  Once the biocell systems were off, the nanobots would go dormant, and await to be reactivated.  Once enough cycles had passed (which is not as long as one might expect for a nanobot), they would power themselves down entirely, as well, only firing back up when the biomech cells were back online, whereupon they could be reprogrammed.  He said it would take the better part of the night to bring everything back up, but promised they should be wholly functional again by morning.

Torren contemplated the prospect of falling out of the sky, or just drifting in space eternally, a magnificent sarcophagus for more than a thousand perfectly preserved bodies.  But considering the alternative, it seemed he had the choice to either risk a potentially hazardous hail-Mary play that might result in all their deaths, or to do nothing, which, more likely than not, most assuredly would.  Captain Scott kissed the pendant of St. Brandon the Navigator, patron saint and protector of seafarers, and gave the Chief Engineer his approval to do what needed to be done.  Then he made his evening rounds, and turned in for the night.

Captain Scott woke from slumber feeling more fuzzy-headed than usual, with a powerful thirst, and a taste in his mouth like stale cotton.  Not one to normally be disoriented, it took him a moment to clear out the mental cobwebs.  He struggled for a beat to regain his bearings, and remember where he was, and what was going on, but as soon as he did, he quickly dressed and hurried to the first materials printer on his way to the bridge.

          “Black Tea, Spiced Chai, Breve, Hot,” he said to the machine, slowly, trying to contain his eager anticipation.  He nearly kicked his heels in excitement when the appliance produced the beverage he had become so accustomed to.  Engineering had done it!  They had set the ship right.  She was going to be okay.

      “Oh, Good Girl, Cupertino,” he said aloud, half under his breath, not really intending to address the ship’s mainframe directly.  The sound of his own voice surprised him a bit, more dry and hoarse than he’d expect, and his tongue felt like a dirty sock in his mouth.  He sipped on the tea, trying to clear his head.  He was not expecting the ship to respond.

                    “Good morning, Captain,” the Cupertino came back.  “All systems are functioning within normal parameters.  You have reached your destination.  Shall I wake the others?”

Torren scowled.  Wake the others?  His head was pounding.  What did she mean by that?  He’d only had the one drink last night, where was this hangover coming from?  And they’re at the planet site already?  How did they manage to make up the remaining 10 days’ journey overnight?

          “Cupertino,” he began, this time addressing the ship purposefully, attempting to sort out the confusion.  “How did we make it to Terra 4 overnight?”

                    “Your destination of Terra 14 has been reached within the timeframe allotted from your starting point,” the Cupertino told him.

Terra 14???

Captain Scott bolted to the nearest control alcove with a direct mainframe interface and delivered his security access code to the audio input.  He checked the star date.  He hadn’t gone to bed last night.  They were three months out of date!  He ordered up a ship’s log.  The display showed the power down and reboot, just as he’d discussed with the Chief, a full 91 days ago.  And all the mission parameters had come back online just as they were supposed to have, except, the ship’s destination had been entered in wrong.  They had come to the destination programmed in, all right, but they were 10 light years off course!

Upon further examination of the records, the situation they were in began to come into focus, until the full scope of their predicament became gravely clear.  The Cupertino, upon receiving her directed coordinates, and recognizing the amount of fuel required to make it to the 14th planet of the repopulation movement, and the amount of resources required to keep the ship’s complement healthy throughout that length of journey, had responded by adjusting the ship’s environmental controls to send all carbon-based lifeforms into a limited hypersleep, for the brief span of time — considering — that it would take to make a faster-than-light jump and travel at warp speeds to reach the programmed destination (a mere 3 months, as opposed to 10 years).

Because the new destination had been scheduled after curfew, but for a small skeleton crew of system operations controllers, nearly everyone else on board would have already been in bed, so they simply went to sleep that hapless night three months ago, and have been sleeping ever since.  Torren winced at the thought of those poor skeleton crew members slumped in their chairs, or having simply fallen where they stood, on floors or over operations panels — he ached to think of the muscle damage they might have experienced after three months in an awkward position.

The Cupertino, following an already mapped flight path, easily operated on autopilot for the duration it had taken her to reach her destination.  Now, the ship had arrived at Terra 14, without enough energy left for another hyperjump back to their home territory, or enough fuel to travel the return distance by standard propulsion.  And, to make matters worse, Terra 14 had not yet been terraformed in preparation for colonists.  Of course, because it was a scheduled planet of the migration movement, at least it was an M-Class environment, hospitable to support Terra Prime lifeforms.

Well, he supposed... it’s a good thing they’ve got terraforming nanobots on board, and a complement of passengers ready to make a new life on another planet — though, perhaps not the one they’d signed up for.  He just hoped the crew was ready for a long vacation... they were going to be here a while.  And, from his perspective, maybe retirement wasn’t looking so bad, after all.  He patted the ships bulkhead.  Hey, at least it was better than having to open up her doors for tourists.  He shuddered.

Captain Torren Scott straightened his epaulets, and made a resigned command decision.  He might as well get to it... no point in waiting anymore... they had nothing but time now.

          “Cupertino,” the Captain sighed.  “Wake the crew.”

LJ Idol | Season 9 • Week 24 - Topic: THE CUPERTINO EFFECT
This post has been brought to you by an association with the online writing community forum, LJ Idol.
If you have enjoyed this entry, please feel free to speak your piece, share the love, and pass it on...
                                                                                                            ...and thanks for stopping by.

Do Not Taunt Happy Fun Ball!

The Rescue                                      (Hear the Character-spoken VOICE Post HERE )

Hi there!  Hi!

Heya!  Hey there!

Ho!  Hello!

How are you?  Hiya!

My name is Chloe.

You smell nice.

Did you bring me a ball?

Chloe Intro

I’ve been around for about 1½ years so far, which means by now I’ve already grown about as big as I’m going to get, probably.  But emotionally, I’m still just a little puppy at heart.

I’ve had a bit of a rough road in my short life up until my foster folks took me in, so I’m ready to settle down with a loving family who will take good care of me from now on.

You brought me a ball, right?

Of course, I bet I could stand to fill out another few pounds around the middle.

I’m sure treats would take care of that . . .  Yep, plenty of treats should do the trick.

I like treats.  I’m even willing to work for them.

I’ll Sit, I’ll Shake, give you a High Paw . . .  I bet you could even teach me a few more.

I like to learn new tricks . . .  it’s easy for me, and, I’m good at it.

(Especially if there’s a BALL involved!)

Say, is that a ball you’ve got there in your pocket?

Mind if I check your pockets, real quick?

MY Ball!

Oh, sorry, pardon my cold nose.

I really love the game of Fetch, too, because I love to run, and I love to get the ball . . .

I can’t always guarantee I’ll give it back, though!  (It’s MY Ball!)

I’ve been around other dogs at my foster family’s house . . .  they’re all right, I guess, as long as theyre nice.  They’re good for chasing after and being chased by.

Do you have a big back yard where I can run, like, a lot?  I like to run.  A lot.

Especially if you have a ball!

You DO have a ball, right?

Cats are okay, too, I suppose.  They’re kinda boring, though.  They don’t do much.  I try to chase them, but they just hide.  Sometimes they smack me, too.  That’s totally not cool!  Cats aren’t that much fun.

Not like my ball!  My ball is TONS of fun!


I guess I really don’t care whether or not I play with the other animals . . .  I can take it or leave it, I suppose.  I dont mind other animals, but they dont make much difference to me one way or another.  Id be happy to join you in a home with other pets.

I’d be just as delighted, though, if you happen to be the pet-monogamous type — that’d for sure be all right by me, too . . .  all the more attention, just for me!  I can take it, I promise!

Just give me a ball, and life is good.

Just give me the ball, and no one gets hurt!

My ball keeps me busy for hours.  Well, maybe not hours.  Wait, how long is an hour, anyway?  Sometimes, it doesnt entertain me anymore.  Sometime I wonder if my ball still likes me when it stops playing nice with me.  Cause, after a while, it starts to bounce less, and doesn’t roll as well . . .  it’s hard to play with it when it’s all chewed up and misshapen like that, and has all this slobbery wet stuff all over it . . .  where did that come from?


Say, do you happen to have another ball?  This one seems to be kinda broken . . .  it’s sorta shaped funny, now . . .  I dont remember it being this flat, before, or having this many holes in it.  And, wait, just how many pieces of a ball are there supposed to be, again, anyway?

I’m usually not much for chewing anything I’m not supposed to, but . . .

Oh, give me a ball, and, well, I just can’t resist . . .  they’re so —

Happy Fun Ball

Hey, a BALL!

Oh, thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou!!!

What can I say?  I’m only canine!

Good With

I won’t get the chance to be a mom myself, but I have a natural mama-ness for the littler two-legged critters . . .  theyre really nice to me, and fun.  They tug on my ears, and tail, and give me lots of hugs . . .  I follow them around to keep an eye on them to make sure they’re okay.  I like to cuddle up with them and sleep on their feet to keep them safe at night.

Everyone in my house should be safe.  I make sure to say so to anyone who goes by.  I tell them pretty loudly, just in case they don’t listen well, so they get that message right away.  Sometimes you two-leggers need to be told a few times.  But thats okay, I dont mind repeating myself.


Other than that, though, I’m usually pretty low-key and really mellow for a Boxer.

Lots of commotion can happen around me, and most of the time, I just keep to myself, chewing my rawhide bone, and ignoring all of it.  It usually doesnt have anything to do with me, doesnt change anything about my world any, and I’ve found it usually goes away on its own more often than not.

I know Im the low dog in the pack.  Im okay with that.  I like it there.  No worries, no hassles.  Just me and my ball, room to run, plenty of water, and lots of attention.  Thats all I need, really.

And, also, I’m really good at curling up close to make you warm.  I’m a regular Boxer blanket, sort of a biological boiler.  But, sometimes it takes me a while to settle in . . .   I figure if I stand over you, you’ll have more opportunities to pet me.

So, I’m just gonna stand on you now, okay?  Then you’ll have to pet me.

Go ahead.  Pet me.  I’ll wait.

     Still waiting.

          You’re not petting me.

Oh, what, I’m supposed to lay down?

Oh, okay, fine, be that way.

Guess I’ll just lay down here.  On your feet.


Occasionally, too, I hang out in my box.  I’ve got a pretty good idea when that is . . .  you’ve got your keys in your hand, putting your coat on, I get it.  But, if I happen to be playing with my ball, I might not notice, so, then you can just tell me, and I’ll go nicely.  Let me just grab my ball, quick, though, first.

I’ll just stay here and hang out with my ball to keep me company.  As long as I have my ball, I’m fine.

If I can’t get to my ball, I has a sad.

Stuck Ball

Also, I should tell you some of the rules.

It’s important that you understand a few basic principles.

Here’s how this stuff works.  I will sometimes bring you a ball.  Now, remember, this is MY Ball.  They’re ALL mine.  Even if they’re not mine, they’re still mine.  If it’s shaped like a ball, rolls like a ball, then it’s MINE.  So, if I should see fit to bring YOU a ball, then YOU’RE supposed to use it to play with ME . . .  that’s YOUR job.  I’ll give it to you, then sit down and wait.  You should toss it up for me to catch it.

If you don’t, I will paw at you until you do.  I will keep pawing at you until you do.  Im very patient that way.  I dont have anything else to do, and you dont seem that busy.  Playing with a ball always makes me happy.  Here, Ill share.  You can play with the ball with me, then youll be as happy as me.  We can be happy together.  You, me, and my ball.  As long as you understand, its MY ball.  Then you can play, too.

Okay, theres the ball.

Right there.

There, in your lap.  Right there, by my nose.

See that?  This, here, where my paw is, this ball.  Yes, that one.

No, dont pet my head right now.  Throw the ball!

This one.  This.  No, not on the floor!

There, I'll put it back in your lap for you.  Right there.

Right there.  There.

Im very patient.  I can do this all day.

Did I mention that?  It’s okay, Im not that busy.

I can keep pawing you.  Then youll see the ball.

That one.  Right there.

Sometimes, I will bring you a bigger item, something longer.  Now, this time, you’ll take that, and hold it.  I’ll hang onto the other end, and you pull.  Now, I’ll pull, and shake, but don’t let go.  That’s how it works.  This will be good for a while until I get bored, and then —

Hey, did someone say Ball?

I like attention.

Rub my belly, stroke my ears, bat at my cheeks, pull on my jowels . . .  it’s all good.

I know I look bigger than I really am . . .  I know I’m not that large, really.  I’m sure I can easily fit in your lap.

You’ll come to realize this too, I promise.  Just be still, youll be fine.

Don’t struggle so much, you make a lumpy pillow that way.

You can just pat me on the back, and tolerate my snoring like a lumberjack.  Youre okay.

And, oh, yeah, sorry about that puddle of water on the floor by my drinking dish.

Hey, YOU try lapping out of a bowl this little with a wet sponge this big always lolling over your gums.  My tongue will fit into my head ONE of these days, eventually, I think.  I’m sure I’ll grow into it it, soon . . .  Besides, there are so many uses for it . . .  but best of all, all the better to lick you with!

 . . . And lick, and lick,

               and lick, and lick, and lick,

                          and lick, and lick, and . . .


Oversized Tongue

Thank you!

(Bleah! — HUMAN germs!  Yuck!  How do I know where those fingers have been???)

So, anyway, as long as you understand how to give me what I need . . .

(Wait, where’s my Ball???!!)

. . . then I’m sure everything will work out just fine.

I rumble like a furnace when I’m sleepy, grunt like a pig when I’m content

(What, you wanted me to purr?  What do you take me for??  Who do you think I am???)

. . . and I know how to use these big watery brown eyes of mine.  You should just admit defeat right now.  You have no power greater than the puppy dog eyes.

Basically, I’m just a fuzzy, fun-loving, casual creampuff.  You know you cant resist me!

And, I promise I can be your best friend . . .

Happy Puppy

So Whadya say?

Needs -n- Notes

Take me HOME, Please???

LJ Idol | Season 9 • Week 23 - Topic: THE FICTION OF THE FIX
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The Rescue - Character Rendition

1906K 11:34
(no transcription available)

Submitted for your convenience

LJ Idol | Season 9 • Week 22 - Topic: SWEEP THE LEG
This week is a contestant only vote.

This is not a poll.

This is merely a list of currently competing contestants, and their submitted entries for the week,
to facilitate ease and practicality of use for reading where there is no formal poll.

adoptedwriter Ode To Walter
agirlnamedluna Sweep The Leg
alexpgp No Place To Go But Up
alycewilson Deus Ex Machina
beeker121 Sweep The Leg
beldarzfixon Fnord
belgatherial Sweep The Leg
bleodswean Sweep The Leg
cheshire23 The Horrifying Makeshift Ramp
copyright1983 Words, Words, Words
dmousey Broken Love and Ending Dreams
eeyore_grrl self-defense
ellakite Bait and Switch
emo_snal Sweeping Up
eska818 Sweep The Leg
eternal_ot Veiled
favoritebean If you are ruthless in a cat's eyes, she will get even with you
flipflop_diva In a small village on the outskirts of a land far away
fodschwazzle The Trickery Tool
furzicle Otter-Frogger to Crawling through the Drink
gratefuladdict Nothing Humane About It
halfshellvenus Behind The Walls
hosticle_fifer Correcting a Noticeable Lack of Explosions
i_17bingo Fellowship of the Ringu
icaruslived Sweep The Leg
jem0000000 Sweep The Leg
jexia's BYE Week - Votes for this contestant will not count
kajel Learning to Deal With It
karmasoup In The House of the Rising Sun
kathrynrose Sweep The Leg
kehlen_crow School adventures
kickthehobbit Sweep The Leg
lapis_lazuli615 More Kara, No Keelie  (Still in Hiding)
lrig_rorrim Raid
mallorys_camera Sweep The Leg
mamas_minion You Know That Crane Stance Makes You Look Like An Idiot, Right?
mezzominty Laundry Day
mstrobel Sweep The Leg
oxymoron67 A Tale From the Classroom
penpusher The Proper Technique for Falling from Six Foot Stilts
rayaso The Broomba
reckless_blues Sweep The Leg
roina_arwen Personal Touch
ryl How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless child
shadowwolf13 Feed
shimmerdream Sweep The Leg
sobota This is Our Decision  (To Live Fast and Die Young)
sorchawench He and She
suesniffsglue Magic
swirlsofblue What a wicked thing to do
talonkarrde88 Crossing a programmer is a bad idea
tatdatcm And Her Name Shall Be
the_lettersea Nothing Left To Burn
theun4givables Sweep The Leg
tonithegreat Now witness the power of this fully operational battle station
tsuki_no_bara No Mercy From the Pirate Queen
veronica_rich Legging the Sweep
walkertxkitty In fact it was a little bit fright'ning
waltzmatildah It Started As A Feeling
watching_ships Sweep The Leg
whipchick Grammar Dojo
xlovebecomesher Sweep The Leg
xo_kizzy_xo Hawk And Coyote: A Fable
yachiru Space Pirates!
zhent The Weakest Link

Additionally, for those who might have an interest, there is also available a spreadsheet with this same data,
in alphabetical order, and a column to tally a vote.

Because most screens are oriented landscape, the list is divided into three columns, or "tribes," if you will, plus the redemption tribe (so as to give those writers the special attention they deserve, in order to hopefully keep them in the game a little longer).

PM me with an email address or FB link for a copy, if you'd like one.

This post has been brought to you by an association with the online writing community forum, LJ Idol.

The Devil’s In the Details

Sucker Punch                                                  (Hear the Character-spoken VOICE Post HERE)

It’s not like Ias actually usin’ it.  At least, not that I’d noticed, ya feel me?  I mean, what do ya ever really do with a soul, anyway?

Now, don’t get me wrong, I ain’t sayin’ I hated muh life.  Lookin’ back on it, act-shly, I guess I had it purdy good.  Married muh high school sweetheart, as folks ’round these here parts do.  Renee’s a helluva woman, I’ll swear by that . . . she genuinely loved me — was good to me.  Gave me 2.5 kids ’fore the end.  Devin an Lucius was a handful, sure I’d guess they’d be somethin’ wrong with them if they wasn’t.  But they was mine, an them’s good boys, I still say . . . don’t ever let nobody tell ya no different.

The 7 – 3 grind ain’t the most glamerus a’ lifes, but I’as never really one fer the 9 – 5 type.  My pappyas a workin’ man, an’ his afore him . . . we’s all been brung up grunts, an’ ain’t nothin’ wrong w’that.  A hard day’s labor’s what makes a man respect-able, muh daddy tol’ me, an’ lets him know the meanin’ athangs, the value’v honest livin.’  The fact’ry let me be home for muh boys when they needed me, an that’s important, ya know . . . having a daddy you can count on, an’ all that.  Course, drivin’ a loader sho ’nuff ain’t nobody’s idea uva dream job, but it was steady work I never had to bring home wimme, an the union made dang sure it kep the lights on an’ the roof from cavin’ in, kep the boys in shoes that fit an the town doc in his place . . . an padded the family’s spare tires all around — packin’ on a few here’n there every year.

An we weren’t set up in no castle in the clouds, lemme tell ya.  But what we had was ours.  There was milk from the cow, eggs from the coop, an greens’n beans from the land.

Yep, mine was a purdy good life, all right.

I guess I shoulda jes left well enough alone, I see that now.  But, you know, there was sump’n in me . . . sump’n bigger, sump’n special . . . sump’n jes dyin’ to get out, an ain’t no way it was ever gonna see the lighta day with a noose a “normal-like” stranglin’ the everlovin’ love-a-life outta me, an’ on a everyday kinda turntable, too, sos I never had any kinda reprieve from the unrest of uhvit.

I s’pose, lookin’ back on it, I prolly knew him as soon as I seen him.

I’ve had some time to think things over from here amidst all this heat
an jes’ what the heck IS that smell, anyway? an’ I can see where’s I went wrong.  I shoulda jes left him there, where I found him.  I shoulda paid him no nevermind, an went on muh merry way, back tthe humdrum life uhva downhome, Southern country boy jes’ a hardworking,’ blue collar nobody.  But he knew all the right buttons to push, ya know?  Really got under muh skin, askin’ what he could do to make muh life complete.  Guess that’s why he’s so good at what he does.  An that Charlie Daniels feller had gone an given me the impression that maybe I’d even get a gold fiddle outta the deal, so, I figured, eh . . . what the hell.

What the hell is right, I reckon.

What could be done to better my sitchy-ay-shun, he wanted to know.  What could be done, indeed.  Well, I let him know, I did.  I tol’ him I’d been dreamin’ muh whole life a one day writin’ the world’s best ever Country music song.  And, I wanted tbe rich an’ famous, too.  He tol’ me that weren’t no tall order, it were a pisa cake, then he snapped his fingers, an said, “Done, and DONE.”

Now, I can’t say as I knew what I were expectin,’ rightly, but I know’d I didn’t think he was gonna tell me to jes’ go on home an wait.  I don’t know what I’as supposed tuv been waitin’ fer, but it were an awful frustration, all that waitin.’  In time, it began to take a tol’ on me.  I hung out at the bar after work more offn then not, started havin’ fitful nights a tossin’ an’ turnin.’  Had a hard time gettin’ up in the A.M., an started to come in late fer work on more than a few occasions.  Purdy soon, I lost muh job.  Then muh kids started actin’ out in school, cuz’ they wasn’t afraid I’as gonna whup ’em no more, cuz I jes’ stayed in bed sleepin’ all the time.  Muh wife tol’ me she’d had it, said this weren’t no way to raise up a family, an she took off to her mother’s place, an took muh boyz wither.  Wit no one else to look after him, muh hound got tired a’ waitin’ too long in the morning fer his breakfast, so then the dog done up an’ run off too.

I was so down in the dumps over everthang about muh state-uv-affairs, I went out one night with a 6-pack in me, an’ went an’ wrapped muh pickup ’round a telephone pole.  I thought I’as a gonner
then, fer shore, but that’s when he showed up again.

By that time, I’as in no mood fer his shenanigans, an’ I had nuff mind ta tell him so.  But he jes’ laughed, an asked what I thought he’d been doin’ in muh life this whole time.  I had no way to know what to say.  He tol’ me evry artist has got to suffer fer his work, an how’d I expect to write great Country music when I’d always had it so dang good?  He tol’ me all he’d done was plant the idea in muh head that I needed sump’n mor’n what I had, an purdy soon, I didn’t know what I had anymore, an’ I threw it all away.  He said that was all on me.  But then, he said, now, I had everthang I needed to write the world’s best Country music song, so what was I still doin’ hangin’ round there fer, when I should be gettin’ to it.  He tol’ me to go on home an’ do what I had in me, an’ he’d take care a the rest.

That night, shore ’nuff, I went home an crawled into a bottle, then turned it upside over an’ poured alla muh heartache outtuv it.  ’For long, whooda thunk it, but I’d gone an’ written the world’s greatest Country music song.  And then I promply passed out, an drooled on muhself the rest a’the night.

After that, I got muhself cleaned up, got some confidence in me, an’ went back in to get muh old job, an tol them they ought to take me back.  Good small town folks, they said they’d give me another chance, an brought me back on as a maintenance man.  It weren’t as much dough, but I’as in no place to argue.

I started workin’ again that afternoon, determined to take that song tthe local Country music makinman in town as soon as muh shift ended, hopin’ I could get me a reference to sumbody with some pull in Nashville, or maybe even Branson.  I jes’ knew I was gettin’ muh life back on track.  Soon, there’d be wealth, an stardom, an ’fore long, I could see usin both to get muh family all together again.  Things were finally startin’ to look up.  The world’s greatest country music song down, step one, now, fame an fortune, here I come.

I could hardly wait fer the whistle to blow.

But, as fate would have it, I ended up “gettin’ mine,” even before quittin’ time was upon me.  Yep, jes’ like I wanted, I’as famous, all right.  Got muhself landed in a book of records . . . for the craziness that was my one-in-a-gazillion misfortune uhva accidental, haphazardous departure from this plane.

As I understand it, some random rusted out bolt in a one-ton fact’ry robot arm had become loosened by a unnoticed steady drip a oil directly on it.  The loose joint knocked the dang thing jes 3 degrees off its platform, which is not so much that you’da seen it withe naked eye
lessen you’da happened to’ve been lookin’ right at it jes’ then but jes enough to set it to goin’ caddywhompus from its intended course.  The misdirection compounded upon itself as the motion picked up steam,’til over time, the dang thing had swung a full 8 inches off track.  It was that last half a centimeter what done me in.  The arm got hung up on a fire extinguisher mounted tthe support beam — readily available there in casea fire, a’course but in jes’ that moment, that particklar safety device became stuck getting’ itself smushed, in fact ’tween the arm tryin’ tdo what it wanted tdo, an’ that support beam, what weren’t goin’ nowhere.  Now, you try tellin’ a one-ton factory robot arm that it can’t keep doin’ what it was built tdo, an yer gonna be on the losin’ end’a that argument.  It jes kep’ on hitting that flame snuffer, buildin’ up extra pressure on that pressurized container, ’til the poor doohickey jes’ went off like a bottle rocket.

So, if that were the whole story, I’d jes leave it there, an be happy to say that I’as beaned in the head by a flyin’ fire extinguisher, an maybe be okay with a somewhat noteworthy demise, but that ain’t what act-shly happened.  No, my ending was a little less distinguished.  You see, as that bottle rocket went flyin’ overhead, dousin’ everything in its path with flame retardant foam
muhself an the floor around me included I jes happened tbe in the process a’ changin’ a light bulb in the break room.  The missile finally crashed into the wall a the break room, right against the light switch.  That alone wouldn’ta been so bad, ’ceptn the mess on the floor had caused muh footin’ to slip, an I’d accidentally stepped backwards, landing with one hand in the break room sink, where there’as a leak comin’ from the faucet, while muh other was jes screwin’ in the bulb, when the light went on.  Then, with a loud pop! an’ the smell a sizzled fangers, it was lights out for me.

I guess I’m only the second person in history what got himself killt whilst tryin’ to change a light bulb.  I s’pose there’s a bad joke in there somewheres.

(At least I weren’t standin’ wimuh feet in the tub like the first guy.)

An’ after that, would’nchya know it, I ended up rich after all.  The factory paid out a huge settlement tmuh family to keep thems from suin’, an’ to cover up that whole mess best they could.  Course, ya can’t really keep somethin’ that crazy a secret for long, ’speshly in a small Georgia town.  These days, you can find my name listed on the interwebz somewheres, along with a long list a other crazy ways to die.

I guess I should jes be grateful muh wife is gonna be able to bring up muh boyz — an that new baby on the way I ain’t ever gonna meet now — without havin’ to worry fer nuthin.’  It’s enough to fix the truck... hell, it’s enough to buy a new one, pay off the house, an send all three a the kids to college, sos maybe they can have a better life than I did.

An’ I even hope that ol’ dog finds his way back home fer them, one a these days.

I know ya can’t really expect to hold Ol’ Scratch accountable for givin a false impression, seein’ as how that’s purdy much the business he’s in, an, he certainly can’t say I didn’t get eh’zackly what I wanted, if’n maybe not eh’zackly in the spirit a’ what I was thankin’ uhv.  But we did in fact have a few choice words bout the manner in which the first part came about, seein’ as how he were the one himself what pointed out he didn’t act-shly have to do nuthin,’ coz I jes’ did it all muhself.  So, I challenged the deal, an said I do believe he didn’t live up to his part.  He grudgingly had to gimme that.

Oh, Ima still be here fer a bit... he don’t much like the notion a sumbody gettin’ the better a him, least off sumbody as lowlife as me, but, he’s gonna have to let me go here in another century or two.  Ida hoped itd be a bit less, but, apparently, he's got a powerful aversion to paperwork, so, seems Ima jes have to sit tight fer a spell.  Until then, guess I’ll jes have to hold muh breath an make the best uhvit.

I jes hope, whenever I get around to comin back, that they still have Country Music.

LJ Idol | Season 9 • Week 22 - Topic: SWEEP THE LEG
This post has been brought to you by an association with the online writing community forum, LJ Idol.
If you have enjoyed this entry, please feel free to speak your piece, share the love, and pass it on...
                                                                                                               ...and thanks for stopping by.