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  1. Joined
    12 Nov '05
    12 Jan '14 10:49
    Hello all

    Below are this years 12 entrants for the prose competition - as usual please read through them and rank your best three - Your favourite gets 5 points, 2nd gets 3 points and 3rd gets 1 point. Authors cant vote for their own. Deadline for votes is Sunday 26th January
  2. Joined
    12 Nov '05
    12 Jan '14 10:51
    Entry 1 - The Mostest Bestest Gift

    Mary longingly looked out the window hoping that it would snow before Christmas day. The forecast had said that it would but they had been wrong before. What she really hoped for was that her dad would finally show up for it.
    It had been six years since he had told his family he was going out for a bit and he never returned. Every December her mum would take her and her little brother Randy to see the Santa at the local mall and each year she asked Santa to please bring her dad home. She never told her mum what she’d asked for because she knew that she’d say, “Mary, Santa can’t do that.”
    This year was no different from the last six Mary sat on Santa’s knee and when asked what she wanted for Christmas she responded as always, “I really want my dad to come back to our house.” Santa said, “Well Mary I’ll see what I can do.” Mary looked at him and said, “Really?” Santa had a twinkle in his eye as he winked and said, “I’m not promising but let’s see.”
    As always she didn’t tell her mum but there was something different in this Santa. She couldn’t put her finger on it but…
    When they got home mum told them to get into the PJs and come on back down for a before bed snack as was the custom. After the snack they headed to bed and as was also the custom Mary knelt by her bed and said the prayer (Now I lay me down to sleep…etc) but this time she added, “and if you can God, please help Santa find my dad so I can get my mostest bestest gift ever.”
    She did this every night and Christmas morning she raced down stairs hoping upon hope that she’d indeed get the gift she wanted.
    As she entered the living room there sitting in the Lazyboy was Santa sound asleep. She went over and tapped him on the shoulder. He jumped up and said,” Merry Christmas Mary”, and picked her up and kissed her on the cheek. Mary didn’t know what to do, she just stared at him. He laughed, took off his outfit and said, "I told you I’d do my best and here I am…it’s me Mary, dad".
  3. Joined
    12 Nov '05
    12 Jan '14 10:53

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  4. Joined
    12 Nov '05
    12 Jan '14 10:56
    Entry 2 - The Bigamist

    The word sounds like it’s a big deal. My lifestyle does not, perhaps because I eased into it like a frog being slowly heated up in a pot on the stove.

    “So your wife found out about us”, Jackie said, ruefully.
    “Yeah. She did.”
    “I’m really going to miss you. But good luck in patching things up.”
    “You’re not going to leave her for me, are you? I’d feel terrible. She wasn’t even here to fend for herself, and I just swooped in and took you.”
    “She wants me to keep you in my life. But I want to make it clear that I completely understand if you want to walk away.”
    “I can’t believe I’m even considering this, but I am.” There was a look of mild shock on her face; the kind you get when you learn unexpected things about yourself.

    She was deathly calm, and that scared me far more than the expected tumultuous angry reaction. “That last night was the best we have ever had – too good even for a couple that hasn’t seen one another for months,” she said.
    Was that what tipped her off? She thought I made an extra effort because of guilt?
    “She awakened something in you, didn’t she?”
    Always disturbing when someone else figures out in 5 minutes of cursory inspection, from afar, what you have been missing for weeks, right in front of you.
    “Why don’t you keep her around?”
    I was utterly floored. She could not be serious?! And … to my surprise, I felt anger welling up in me. What the hell?! Our roles were the reverse of what they should be.
    “So that’s it?! Just keep on (with) her? No problem. I’m not even worth getting jealous over.”
    Damn, I’m practically yelling at her.
    “Frankly, you weren’t before. Don’t get me wrong. I really liked you, but we were just very close friends with occasional benefits. But now, I have seen what we can be together. We both know I will not give up my career. I will actually be happier knowing what, even who, you are doing when I’m working. Better to have made peace with that in advance than wonder for months if the boyfriend has cheated, or is about to cheat, or is cheating with every slut in town.”

    She had found out. It didn’t matter how. She was too smart to be deceived, and Jackie had become so integrated in my thought process that it was difficult to remember how solo-me had even gone about things. Not for the wife. Something I had done, or not done, had alerted her that solo-me had left the building long ago.

    I had been keeping both of her legs elevated for the past 2 weeks now. The wife was finally coming home. I was finding out how hard it was to plan and scheme to hide a secret when you feel completely guilty and remorseful inside. The guilt-tripper argues with the schemer that you deserve to be caught.

    Of all her smiles, this was the best yet. It was unabashedly wide, with all the teeth showing. She was beaming. And her eyes – just kept looking into mine. I said “Good night, sweet Jackie”, not knowing how that adjective had snuck in, and leaned in to kiss her on the cheek, but she turned her head and kissed me softly on the lips. I wish I could say I broke it off, but I didn’t.

    Jackie’s ankle was broken. I rushed to get some ice and bandages to wrap it. The swelling was not going down. I took her to the doctor and he gave her a shot to control it. She’d have to keep off the ankle for a few weeks – keep it elevated. Of course, she would have great difficulty managing it all by herself. It was a given that I’d help. It all happened so naturally. She became comfortable with my presence. I tried to maintain a cool detachment, but it was impossible after a few days. I picked up on her favorite foods, favorite movies, favorite conversational topics, everything. She’d notice that I took care to get the little things right … and her smiles grew warmer each time.

    It was hard during the half of the year when my wife was gone. The house was just so … silent. I could fill it with Television re-runs, but they weren’t real. They’d start and stop at the press of a button, responding to my whims. So … expected. I wanted nothing more than to have one of my decisions overridden. I was so lost in thought that I almost didn’t hear the scream of the neighbor, out jogging, as she stumbled and fell.
  5. Joined
    12 Nov '05
    12 Jan '14 10:59
    - Entry 3 - Quiet Days in the Mountains

    “It is a vast difference between holidays and vacation, don’t you think? “

    Joey groaned inwards, he has expressively booked the hotel as a retreat from absolutely everything: work, family and church. And now this black-clad stranger who resembled a monk in more than one way materialized at his table and tried to begin a conversation. But Joey was a well-bred person, so he kindly replied:

    “Indeed about 3 quarters of the alphabet and now I used up about 10% of my daily allowed words.”

    The stranger looked not as shocked as Joey would have liked, but was silent for a few more precious moments, though which Joey was able to enjoy the taste of his coffee (pure, no milk, no sugar, no fancy stuff). He even managed to bite of a chunk of his rye bread (pure, no butter, no chocolate, no fancy stuff).

    The bald man sipped from his cup, which was filled with some mixture of coffee and milk and Joey has seen him putting a spoon of honey into that, looked straight into his eyes and opened his mouth. It was no wonder Joey was a boss, he saw actions and reacted straight:

    “Listening is as bad as talking.”

    His vis-à-vis closed his mouth again and took another thoughtful sip from his beverage. Joey ate the last chunk of rye bread and bowed slightly after standing up.

    “Enjoy your stay”, he managed to say before exiting the breakfast room.

    Hours later Joey stood and took in the vista of giant mountains rising into a postcard blue sky.

    “Ah! The wonders of creation! Looking at this even an atheist should feel the presence of God”.

    Joey didn’t need to turn to realize who surprised him at that really lonely spot. Sure enough, when he turned he found the lank guy in the black garment. Looking at the heavy boots Joey couldn’t imagine how the stranger could have crept up on him like that.

    He had taken this time-out expressively to overcome the tedious “fight or flight” decisions he was confronted with in his daily live. Since he was a fighter he had consciously chosen a “flight” option to have a week in the mountains. Being consequent, he chose the flight option again and began the last ascend to the peak with gusto.

    The peak sported the rest of snow on a small pocket on the north side. Feeling playful, Joey took up enough to produce a snowball and threw it in a big arc the way he had come. He let out a big war cry and was content to have exerted himself just enough to feel great.

    His happiness lasted a few moments, before he heard another voice yodeling. Sure enough his nemesis came up and waved frantically, shouting “What a way to spend your precious words, adoring our creator!”

    The two bodies of the vacationists were found two days later at the bottom of a gorge. The coroner concluded that the two wanderers lost their footing on the snow patch just below the peak.
  6. Joined
    12 Nov '05
    12 Jan '14 11:01
    Entry 4 - The Blue Whale

    Two headlights reached out into the darkness, swinging one way then the other in their search for the Blue Whale.

    ‘We’re going to run out of petrol.’

    ‘We won’t. There’s enough to last until morning.’

    ‘We’re not driving all night again, Scott.’

    ‘With a bit of luck, we won’t have to.’

    The rays of light continued to break the night’s silence, revealing various paths. With difficulty, Scott had struggled to follow the route mapped out for him but, with the bit of luck he alluded to, he fancied they weren’t too far away now. Presently, they came to a large oak tree by the side of a narrow road.

    ‘What have you stopped here for?’

    ‘According to the guide we’re here!’

    ‘There’s nothing here.’

    ‘We don’t know where to look’ said Scott. ‘Over there! I can see someone.’

    ‘Ask him if he knows where the Blue Whale is.’

    The man was resting his weather beaten frame against a gate that wasn’t immediately noticeable due to the positioning of the oak tree.

    ‘I don’t know’ was the man’s answer to Scott’s question.

    ‘According to our guide it’s around here somewhere.’

    Scott offered the guide but the man didn’t know, so didn’t look.

    ‘Where does the gate lead to?’

    ‘I don’t know.’

    ‘Is it locked?’

    ‘There’s a key at the inn’ said the man, pointing in the direction from which Scott had arrived.

    The man knew nothing more.


    ‘There’s a gate but it’s locked.’

    ‘Shall I climb over the gate Papa and look see?’

    ‘Stay where you are Sebastien, and hold on to your sister’s hand. Where are we going now?’

    ‘To get the key.’

    ‘Why are we going back?’

    ‘To go to the inn.’

    There were many stories about the Blue Whale. Both Scott’s father and grandfather had described the place as somewhere unlike any on earth. After much deliberation and hard work, (and many years had passed by), Scott decided, for the sake of his own family to visit before it was too late.

    They’d travelled a long way and yet the Blue Whale continued to evade them. And now, another deviation had presented itself.

    Candles bowed, welcoming Scott into the cold, stone shadows of the inn.

    ‘Nobody’s here.’

    ‘Somebody is’ said Scott. ‘Somebody lit the candles.’

    But nobody appeared. Scott called, and rapped his knuckles against the bar. But nobody appeared.

    ‘Can we play a game Papa?’

    ‘Ssh! We’re not staying.’

    ‘He’s hungry Scott. We all are.’

    The inn’s offerings were simple but sufficient, and a meal was quickly arranged.

    ‘See if there’s any water.’

    Candles lighted the way to the kitchen. Scott returned to the bar with a full jug to find an elderly gentleman waiting, dressed in a hat and coat.

    ‘Have you brought any word?’ the man asked.

    Slowly, Scott shook his head.

    ‘Forgive me’ said the man, removing his hat. ‘I hope you don’t mind. It’s just that I saw you enter.’

    ‘You come often?’

    ‘Once a week, without fail. I came a long time ago, you know, but

    I’m still here as you can see.’

    ‘Does anybody live here?’

    ‘There’s always somebody here’ smiled the man.

    ‘Ask him about the key Scott.’

    ‘We’re looking for a key.’

    ‘The key to the Blue Whale?’

    ‘Yes. We’re staying there.’

    ‘That’s good news’ said the man, shaking Scott’s hand. ‘Welcome!’

    ‘You’re staying there as well?’

    ‘Not yet, I’m afraid, not quite yet, but soon, I hope. Please, could I trouble you for a drink?’

    ‘It’s no trouble. Would you like something to eat?’

    ‘Dear me, no. You’ve already done more than enough. Besides, I should be on my way.’

    The man replaced his hat and walked slowly towards the door, patting Sebastien and his sister fondly as he passed. Before leaving, he stopped and turned.

    ‘I wonder why I’m deserving of so much attention?’

    ‘It’s not just you sir’ answered Scott.

    The man nodded, and then departed.

    ‘Where are we going now?’

    ‘I don’t know’ said Scott, watching the lights twisting and spinning against the ceiling. ‘Let’s rest awhile. We can take another look at the guide before we decide to do anything.’
  7. Joined
    12 Nov '05
    12 Jan '14 11:03
    Entry 5 - Lazarus II

    I was born in Bethany and I died there as well. I expect to die again but it will not be in Bethany. My name is Lazarus.

    I was and am a wine merchant who had the misfortune to fall ill and die. My last memories were of a room, my room, spinning uncontrollably and my sisters Martha and Mary weeping and fretting as I clung to the bedstead, feverish, and without hope - then nothing.

    My story is not one of remembrance. There was none. There was no dark or light, no heaven or hell, no gods no demons, no peace or quiet or noise or disturbance. There was no hope or faith. There were no walls or weather or sky. There was no time. No anyone. There was simply nothing - not even me. With nothing to remember my story is not about that time but then it was all about that time.

    It was strange and awful feeling, when four days later (though it could have been an eternity) I found myself half naked, crawling toward a light beyond, what I later realized, was my tomb. My recollections of that are both vague and vivid. I was confused and everything was wrong. I greedily gasped for air. A crowd of people stood agape and obviously disturbed. I was led into my house and placed in my bed. The smell that still remains embedded in my nostrils was the stench of death.

    For months I remained indoors. My former friends never came around and the people who had once been neighbors shunned my sisters who had always been kind to them. They told me of how ill I was and how they summoned Jesus to save me. Jesus was the “messiah” – one of many but the one my sisters had chosen to follow. I myself am a merchant and haven’t the time for such nonsense but my sisters thought of him as a good man.

    It was he who brought me forth from my grave.

    That has been many years ago now. My sisters have long since died and I, on my second chance, survived them. The man who revived me was shortly thereafter crucified and he supposedly was risen from his grave. I don’t know.

    I left Bethany after Martha died. I went to Jerusalem where I was less likely to be known and less likely to be avoided. After a while I was able to work my way back into the merchant trade.

    Since my revival I’ve kept to myself and now no one remembers me. Jesus, who had a small following, is remembered more among the gentiles than here. He is worshiped as a man-god. So be it. I don’t care.

    Lately I hear of the structures prepared to house us after death. Horrible tortures await us in pits of fire if we have lived life badly and in another part of the afterlife palaces of gold for those deemed good. My experience – the only example I’ve heard of – was quite different and less disturbing. Our afterlife is not premised on our current life. Holy man and tyrant all meet the same fate - nonexistence. Not punishment or reward. For some reason people have a hard time grasping this but it was my truth if I was truly resurrected. Those who were present then said that I was. I found it odd that no one ever bothered to ask me about my life after death. Perhaps they presumed I was among the tormenting demons. I wasn’t a very religious Jew and I was no follower of Jesus.

    Unless there’s a whole new afterlife, then I think I am the only one with any experience in this matter but their interest (there is none) or disinterest means nothing to me. What does make a difference is the fear of death so palpable in people that they create ways of living on after we are dead. Death was not bad and is not bad. To have nothing happen after death is much more preferable to me than having to live beyond life.

    Like every other animal we simply stop living. Being like them we don’t get judged on our lives at all. Knowing this I haven’t led a dissolute life as those who have no beliefs are supposed to do. I am a person who lives among others in a normal manner. I believe in no god and I believe in no demons. How could I? I’ve been there. I am now simply a wine merchant content to live out what is left of my life. I will accept death when my time comes. I know what awaits me . My name is Lazarus.
  8. Joined
    12 Nov '05
    12 Jan '14 11:05
    Entry 6 - Little Bird

    I have studied you for some time. I noticed you from your first arrival here and have watched you ever since. You are a pretty thing and appear to be walking through a crowd. Did your female colleague take that shot? Your long hair has a centre parting like that of a teenage girl. It falls carelessly around your shoulders. You have a heavy shoulder bag that pulls the neckline of your lemon sleeveless dress to one side. I get a glimpse of clavicle. You are slim and have good sized breasts. You may even be bra-less? Your dress clings to your thighs as you walk towards your captor which indicates that you are wearing some sort of hosiery. I know that many men will have watched you on your walk that day. Could that be the route to your workplace? You say very few things about yourself in your profile which intrigues me all the more. You have a young daughter and live in Prague. Does she have your hair colour and where is her father? Perhaps he never supported you and did you ever really plan to have his child? You look intelligent to me. It shows in your expression and the way that you hold yourself. I should know. I have met a lot of women and I can tell the difference between one with class and one that is cheap.

    Today we made a connection. I was lucky enough to catch a game with you. I now have you in my inbox. I have not yet spoken to you but I will when the time is right.
    For now I am happy to have you to myself where I can look at you with ease. I now know every detail in your picture. I have also been studying locations within Prague via the internet and feel that I may even recognise the bridge that you are walking along. When we begin to talk I will impress you with my knowledge of your city. I think that we will get along very well because I know how to talk to a woman and and I like children. This will be one of many games and I have plenty of time.
  9. Joined
    12 Nov '05
    12 Jan '14 11:06
    Entry 7 - St Moritz

    The walk back to his room was abrupt, but Colin, much to his own surprise, had enjoyed it. Everyone was much friendlier than he expected. Numerous people, all of whom were unknown to him, had offered a greeting of one description or another as he strolled by. Coming immediately after a very pleasant dinner indeed, Colin’s spirits, in spite of himself, were relatively buoyant.

    The familiar sound of boots kicking against the frame of the door informed Colin that he could expect company.

    ‘Alright Col!’ said Steve, jumping straight onto the top bunk of their shared quarters.

    Colin smiled.

    ‘It isn’t as noisy as I feared’ he commented.

    ‘Mornings are the noisiest time’ said Steve, ‘when everyone’s raring to go.’

    A cry echoed across the falling night air, temporarily halting the shuffling footsteps, the accompanying murmurings and the jingling of keys.

    ‘Another accident’ explained Steve.

    ‘Are there a lot of accidents?’ asked Colin.

    ‘Bound to be’ said Steve, bluntly.

    Moving to the window, Colin looked far into the distance where he could just about differentiate the blurred lines of the mountain tops from the dusk that slowly immersed them.

    ‘It isn’t much of a view’ he said, shivering.

    ‘You’re not scared are you?’

    ‘No. I’m just cold that’s all.’

    ‘It’ll be a lot colder tomorrow in St Moritz.’

    ‘St Moritz?’

    ‘Beautiful place, St Moritz. Don’t tell me you’ve never been Col?’

    ‘This is my first time’ said Colin, returning to his own bed. ‘I’ve been to Geneva though, if that helps.’

    ‘I’ve been to St Moritz loads of times’ continued Steve. ‘I can smell the clean, pure air already. There’s nothing like it. With a

    bit of luck we’ll get there before lunch. That’s the best time, when the suns glistening brightly across the ski slopes.’

    Steve paused, momentarily, while he changed his position. Colin watched the bunk above, noting that the bed revealed nothing about its occupant as it wriggled and squirmed.

    ‘Everything glistens in St Moritz’ said Steve, resuming his tale, ‘from the fish gliding beneath the frozen lakes to the icicles hanging from the branches of the tallest trees. And there’s the champagne, bubbles glistening and popping in crystal flutes. There’s plenty of women too, wearing diamond necklaces around their smooth, pale necks, laughing and smiling in the glow of a roaring fire, their coloured eyes glistening with every flame that flickers.’

    ‘Is it too late to go tonight?’ asked Colin.

    ‘We’d better wait until morning’ said Steve, with a cheerful sigh, ‘just in case anyone else wants to go. They’ll only complain if we leave them behind.’

    A door slammed shut in the distance, followed steadily by its echo.

    ‘Mind you don’t catch cold tonight Col. You don’t want to be sneezing and triggering any avalanches. I want to find St Moritz exactly the same way as I found it last time, and keep it that way.’

    Steve proceeded to detail the circumstances of his last trip alone, for the mere mention of an avalanche had triggered Colin’s memory, submerging his thoughts with the image of Luke Proctor, overwhelming his soul with the images of grief he’d witnessed on the faces of Luke’s girlfriend, Luke’s parents, Luke’s family and friends. Every picture tells a tale, and every single image of grief etched on the faces of Luke’s loved ones was as individual as a snowflake, and would forever be imprinted on Colin’s mind.

    When Steve’s excursion finally came to an end, Colin spoke.

    ‘I killed someone.’

    For seven months Colin had uttered those same words, thousands and thousands of times, to himself, but this was the first time he’d spoken them aloud.

    ‘I’d had a good day at work just for once’ said Colin, drily, ‘and I didn’t want it to end. I didn’t want to go home, alone, again. So, I went to a bar and had a drink. I had a good night too, and ended up staying much longer than I’d planned. I never even saw the lad, driving home. I just heard him, hitting my car.’

    The thud of more doors slamming grew louder.

    ‘I killed him, and destroyed the lives of those who knew him, and...’

    With restraint, Colin managed to prevent himself from admitting that he’d destroyed his own life as well.

    ‘And you?’ he asked instead, looking again at the motionless bunk above him.

    ‘I’m here for the same reason as you, mate’ said Steve, casually. ‘I’m on holiday.’
  10. Joined
    12 Nov '05
    12 Jan '14 11:10
    Entry 8 - John the Smithy

    John swung his hammer down onto the rapidly cooling iron, lifting the nearly formed plough shear up for inspection, he gave it a cursory nod of approval before dunking his handy work into the water trough and placing it back into the fire burying the still blunt tip deep in the embers, simultaneously working the bellows with His right foot.

    After another hour of sweat and appraisal the plough shear was ready to be placed alongside it's counterparts by the door. 'Duncan the farmer' would be both relieved and slightly chagrined that John had completed his new shears before the agreed deadline. There was innevitably a background noise of not always friendly competition between key figures in the rural village, but they were strangely blind to their dependence on each other.

    Before locking the Smithy john scored through the 13th of 14 notches he had carved into the door and headed in the direction of the 'Fox and Hounds' for a well deserved meal and a much needed drink at the end of His days labours.

    On entering the Inn John caught the gaze of Sandra who was busying Herself behind the Bar whilst 'Steve the Inn Keeper' continued his conspirital looking conversation with 'Duncan the Farmer'. John made his way to Sandra whilst maintaining eye contact with her and returning the flirtatious smile which He enjoyed without reading too much into, it was after all, part of her character rather than an insight into her feelings. He ordered a hearty meal of steak and potatoes with a pint of ale which he carried to the nearest vacant table. Before John could begin to quench His thirst Duncan in a louder voice than necessary enquired as to progress of his new plough shears.

    "Their finished and ready to go" said John

    "Good" said Duncan, "I trust they are sharp and straight?"

    (John paused for effect, and the attention of the room before replying)

    "Sharp enough for you to need a strong pair of gloves and a clear head when you fit them in the morning, and a lot straighter than the furrows that you blunted the last set on"

    This quip earned John a guffaw from Sandra, a grimace from Steve, and a grunt, accompanied by a very dark look, from Duncan. John ate his meal and drank the proceeding ales with particular relish, it had been a perfect day for the smithy. He spent the rest of evening with a variety of village characters who had ventured into the hostelry, some of whom he had gotten to know quite well over the last six years, all were bound by a deep fondness for the place.

    When he awoke in the morning his dull thud of a headache was joined by a sense of melancholy and apprehension, John knew the headache was the price he paid for the celebratory ales that Sandra had served along with her flirty smile. He thought about the future and contemplated a career change, maybe next year he would try a new challenge, 'John the Farmer' had a nice ring to it and he was sure that he could make a better job of it than Duncan, he would certainly give it some thought.

    When Duncan had grudgingly thanked him for his efforts and left, John wondered if Duncan would be the farmer next year, or do something more suited to his skill set, village idiot perhaps, he then set about the task of packing his bags, he always worried about this place when he went away, what if some catastrophe occurred and it was'nt here for him to come back to? He had visions of some idiot burning the place down or damaging the equipment, John pushed these dark thoughts to back of his mind, it was time to go whether he liked it or not.

    After one long glance around the comforting gloom he scored through the 14th notch and made his way outside to the cobbled street and clambered onto the horse driven cart that would make it's way through the village and out to the bus stop on the main road. Once the bus had stolen him away from his rural idyll he sank back in his seat and contemplated next years holiday, he laughed at his own musings about becoming 'Farmer John', he was 'John the Smithy' and would be as long as he had the strength to wield his hammer, well, at least for two weeks every summer, the rest of the year he would have to content himself with being 'John the sales manager'.
  11. Joined
    12 Nov '05
    12 Jan '14 11:11
    Entry 9 - The Invasion

    "Approaching target system, Captain. Target planet on-screen."
    "Good work, Lieutenant. Drop us out of lightspeed 500,000 km behind the planet's moon."
    It's about time, the captain thought to himself. At least these fools won't make the same mistake they made at the last target planet, coming out of lightspeed too close to the planet, alerting their supposedly rudimentary planetary defenses. When they detected a probe launched from the planet, it streaked past them at hyperspeed towards the planet's sun. Damned lucky we went to lightspeed and left the system before the sun went supernova, destroying the system. That little adventure sent us several parsecs away in the blink of an eye, nearly wrecking the ship in the process.
    "Helm, quarter-speed sublight. Take up a circumpolar orbit about the moon, perpendicular to the moon's orbit, maintaining facing. Don't let us transit the moon as seen from the planet."
    "Aye, sir."
    "Prepare invasion landing craft, standard load-outs. Call my team to the conference room immediately."

    "Target is the third planet from the class G dwarf star. The dominant native lifeform is humanoid, numbering approximately 10 billion. Their technology level is rudimentary. They call their planet 'Earth'." The science officer yawned. How many times had he given nearly this same overview?
    "They named their planet after dirt?" The captain tried to supress a smile, then gave it up.
    "Earth, sir."
    "Earth, Dirt, same thing. Anything special about this 'dirt'? Any radiation to speak of, any dangerous emissions?"
    "Besides an advanced state of greenhouse warming, chemical pollutants in the air and water, hardly any nutrients left in the soil and a significant plume of radiation existing mainly on one side of the planet, the planet seems completely normal for a rudimentary technology planet. Chances are they wouldn't even have another hundred years sustainability, especially given the high population."
    "Radiation plume? Do they have atomics, do you think? Remember what happened at the last 'rudimentary technology' planet?"
    "This planet's technology seems even more rudimentary than that one was. The radiation doesn't seem consistant with atomic weapons. There's a smaller plume nearly on the other side of the planet, probably older. My guess is a couple of atomic plants had a meltdown."
    "If they have atomic plants, chances are they have atomic weapons." Reaching for the intercom, the captain barked, "Invasion Control, take along the anti-atomics gear. Captain out."
    "So I guess we'll be doing those poor bastards a favor then, if they've only got a hundred years anyways."

    On the way back to the bridge, the Archive Officer caught up to him. "A moment of your time, sir?"
    "What is it? I have an invasion to oversee."
    "Sir, you know the Confederation has been looking for our species' home planet for millenia, right?"
    "Those are stories we learned as children. I don't think there is anything more to it than that, just bedtime stories."
    "The Archive Secretary thinks there may be some validity to those stories. It's possible the planet really exists."
    "So what's it to me? I don't have time for children's stories right now, Commander."
    "In the archives, we have mission logs from the first attempts of our ancestors at space flight. We have audio as well as a few artifacts that have been held sacred to us all these years. Take a look at this."
    He handed the captain a small metal plate. It seemed ancient. It looked like it was once attached to something. On it were words.

    JULY 1969, A.D.

    "So what, Commander? Plenty of these backwater planets are named 'Earth' by the locals."
    "Take a look at the map of the planet!"
    Just then the turbolift reached the bridge. From the open doorway, they could see the planet below filling the viewscreen.

    The captain's jaw dropped. What he saw on the viewscreen left no doubt that the planet on the plate was the planet below them.
    "How is this possible? We were told this planet only has minimal spaceflight capability. How could they have traversed the distance between our worlds?" the captain asked the commander.
    "I don't know. Perhaps that supernova blast last month did more to us than we realized. Maybe it sent us back in time."

    "Attention all hands, attention. This is the captain speaking. Cancel the invasion. I repeat, cancel the invasion, stand down and await further instructions."
  12. Joined
    12 Nov '05
    12 Jan '14 11:13
    Entry 10 - Momma's Baby Boy

    It was Gwen on the phone. She said that Momma was dead. It had been a long time since I had talked to Gwen and a longer time since I had seen or spoken to Momma. I live in North Florida and travel to Michigan, where Momma had lived with William, was a hard and expensive trek for me. Momma had lived with William near Lansing whereas Gwen lives in Allen Park near Detroit and Walter in Novi because he works in Ann Arbor. Timmy is in Jackson State jail and has been for five years and will be for ten more. This is my family.

    Gwen hadn’t seen or spoken to Momma in ten years and Walter hadn’t seen or spoke to Momma in about fifteen years. Timmy lived with Momma and William when he was arrested for the third time for smoking marijuana. I hadn’t seen or spoken to anyone in over twenty years. I am the oldest. We’re not a real close family.

    It came as kind of a surprise when Gwen told me that Momma had been dead for three years. She had driven over to Lansing to take care of some business for the used car lot she worked for and thought that maybe she’d pick up some text books she had stored in Momma’s house after she graduated from the community college in Dearborn. She wanted to see if she could sell them and pick up a few bucks for her and Gil’s vacation trip to Cleveland. She saw William when she arrived and he was headed out to go over to the unemployment office where they were going to give him a drug test required by state law for anyone on unemployment. No one in Michigan wanted to pay for the drug addicts that didn’t want to work. William received $133 a week from unemployment. He was a clerk at an auto parts store that folded in the most recent economic down turn and his 26 weeks of eligibility were almost up. William told Gwen that Momma was at the Senior Center with Mrs. Crowley who took her to play Bingo every week.

    While searching for her books in the basement Gwen saw the meat locker Daddy had built in the early 50’s and was surprised to hear the cooling motor running. Gwen was always a nosy person even as a little girl and when she opened the door there was Momma wrapped in freezer paper. It wasn’t as if William had killed her or anything. The coroner said it was most likely natural causes. William was still collecting and cashing in her Social Security checks.

    William was always a good boy and Momma loved him and he stayed with her to take care of her in her old age. No one begrudged him for putting Momma in the freezer that way and Momma probably didn’t care either. The only one that really cared was the government for a couple of understandable reasons – the major one being that William was collecting the $1,148.36 monthly Social Security checks that would have stopped coming if William had reported her death to the proper authorities. That seemed to override the other laws on proper disposal of bodies after death. William was to be indicted on the Social Security fraud.

    When Gwen called, William had been in the county jail for a month. Gwen hadn’t called me when she had found the body but had waited to see how things would pan out for William. She had talked to Walter and had driven down to Jackson to tell Timmy what had happened and I was the last to get the word.

    Gwen told me that everyone –she, Walter and Timmy - all seemed to agree that they would not blame William and would try to support him, though none of them had a lot of money. I didn’t either. If nothing else none of us would hold what he did against him. These were hard times and everyone had to get by on whatever they could. William had been good to Momma and Momma wasn’t a religious person who thought she would be going anywhere but into a hole in the ground when she died.

    After I hung up the phone I sat down on the sofa and lit up a cigarette. I thought of Momma. She was a good mother. I thought of William who was a good companion to her and her baby boy. Though we all have gotten on in years we all still considered William the baby - Momma’s baby boy. I wished Gwen hadn’t been so nosy but Gwen has always been nosy. I lit up another cigarette. The sun was setting and the dust and smoke danced together in the rays of light streaming through the Venetian blinds.
  13. Joined
    12 Nov '05
    12 Jan '14 11:16
    Entry 11 - What do you give the Man who has nothing?

    The still quiet of Christmas morning just before the kids get up. But there would be no children looking for Santa here.
    The closest thing to a kid at the Pinewood Nursing Home this Christmas morning was a pretty blonde nurse named Bonnie, a temp, fresh out of nursing school. She wasn’t thinking about Santa either.
    “Buzzzz” said the tiny light next to number 114.
    “114?” said Bonnie incredulously. ”What on earth could that old man want now?” All her co-nurses laughed. “That’s the fifth time he’s called me this morning.”
    “That’s Mr. K “one of the others said. “He’s over ninety years old but thinks he’s only twenty five. He flirts with all the nurses. Especially the pretty ones. He must like you”
    “He has a mild case of dementia” another nurse said. ”His wife has been gone for over 20 years. He may actually think he’s dating again.”
    Exactly sixty seconds had passed so the light buzzed again, this time accompanied by the loud clang of a metal bedpan across the floor, the sound reverberating throughout the whole building like a giant Christmas bell.
    “Oh my goodness!” Bonnie looked. “I better see what he wants”
    Room 114 was the home of Vernon “Mr. K” Koslowski, the lothario of Pinewood Nursing Home.
    “What’s wrong now, Mr. Koslowski?”
    “I dropped my bedpan.”
    “I can see that.”
    “Just be thankful it was empty.” Mr. K laughed.
    Bonnie was annoyed.”Mr. Koslowski, I’m very busy this morning. You called me before you dropped the bedpan. What exactly do you want?”
    “Could you do me a favor?” Mr. K suddenly turned charmingly sweet and honest. “Would you let your hair down for me? You have such beautiful hair.”
    Bonnie kept her long blonde tresses in a bun while she was working. “That’s against regulations, Mr. Koslowski. And I’m not sure it would be appropriate.”
    “Then would you go to dinner with me?”
    “Mr. Koslowski, you are 92 years old and I am only 22.”
    Mr. K didn’t flinch. ”Sweetheart, I’m ten times the man of any boy your age.”
    Bonnie’s mouth hung open but before she could think of a response the quiet was broken
    by the grand entrance of Mr. K’s son Ben, followed by his wife Kate.
    “Merry Christmas Dad!” Ben boomed as he held out a box of his Dad’s favorite candy.
    “Christmas?” Mr. K quizzed. “Really?”
    “It’s Christmas morning. Dad”
    “Oh yeah. Thank you. Thank you.” Mr. K thought for a moment. ”Did the kids like what I got them?”
    “They sure did. They all said thank you and they love you and would see you soon.”
    Mr. K thought again. ”Did I get anything?”
    “I found a rock in your sock.” Ben told the old joke and his dad laughed again. “Of course you got something. I put a brand new set of tires on the mustang. And the kids waxed it up for you. It looks really good. We’ll go for a ride once you get outta here."
    Ben heard a whimper. Kate was about to cry. “Can I talk to you for second, Ben?” she asked. They stepped out into the hall.
    “What’s wrong?” Ben asked.
    “It’s your Dad. He just looks so frail. And I know he is old and has dementia, but how can you lie to him like that? You know the nursing home sold his car to help pay for long-term care. The kids are all grown. And you know he’s never getting out of this place.”
    “Of course I know.” Ben drew a deep breath. “Kate, my Dad has lost his wife, his home, his car and all his money. He’s lost his youth, his health, his dignity, and now his mind. He was a proud man. He has nothing left.” Ben fought back his own tears for a moment. “I know you’ve heard people say ‘What do you give the man who has everything?’ Well, what do you give the man who has nothing? The answer is the same. You give him love. You give him happiness. Even if it means sometimes not telling him the truth.”
    Ben went back in for a few more moments with his Dad.

    His father’s wrinkled face had a contented smile as he kissed his forehead goodbye.
    As Ben walked out he leaned back in. “Oh Dad. There is one other thing. You know that pretty blonde nursed down here?” Mr. K’s eyes got real wide. “I think she’s sweet on you"
  14. Joined
    12 Nov '05
    12 Jan '14 11:19
    Entry 12 - Falling

    He had been awake for a while, had awoken with the usual oppressive heaviness that had engulfed him since he had lost her. His heart ached but he never, ever really wanted the pain to leave him. His wounds and bruises were all that he had left of her.

    Each night his dreams were filled with torment as he desperately searched for her in a maze of hospital corridors. He had not been there in time to hold her hand as she quietly slipped away in her sleep. It had happened in the early hours of that winter morning, eighteen months before. There had been a hold-up on the dual carriageway. A lorry had jack-knifed on the slip road. It had caused a forty minute hold up on a usually clear strip of roadway.

    He ran the palm of his hand across the mattress surface seeking out the small familiar impression that had been created where her body had lay beside him during the past twelve years of their relationship. He had adored her body. There had been nothing more that he had desired in the whole world than to curl into her warmth each night in the dark intimacy of their bedroom. He knew every contour of her, every rise, fall and hollow. The curves above and below her waistline, the slight bumps along her middle back, the shape of her face. He had loved to run his hands through her soft dark hair and would tenderly touch the place where it descended into a fine down at the nape of her neck. She had loved him kissing her there. Once again he tried to remember the sensation of his lips upon her skin, brushing them across the back of his course hand. He tried to recall her smell and grieved that this too had long faded; him having inhaled every last trace of her essence from the items of her clothing that he had slept with in turn.

    He shifted heavily in the bed to face the bare wall of the darker side of the bedroom. He reached down to retrieve a heavy based glass that had somehow fallen onto the floor during the night. He replaced it on the bedside table next to a whiskey bottle. He then poured its remains into the glass and emptied the contents down his throat. He slumped his head back into the grimy lace edged pillow to gratefully return to his sedated sleep.
  15. Joined
    12 Nov '05
    12 Jan '14 11:19

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