MicroFiction #11

MicroFictionDREAMTIME (99 words)

Muddy footprints march past the kitchen counter towards the vestibule. Taking a deep breath, Laurel tiptoes to the doorway and peeks. The man in the corridor smiles at her. She screams.

She wakes up soaked in sweat. The roots of the gnarled oak under which she shelters feels hard under her thighs. In the moonlight, the clearing around the oak is desolate.

The dream again.

She curls up tightly, trying to calm the shudders racking her body. It feels so real. Each night the dream becomes more detailed, but tonight, for the first time, she has seen his face.

November is coming and NaNo Calls…

NaNoWriMo 2013I must have a death wish. I’ve foolishly persuaded myself to try NaNoWriMo again next month, having not learned my lesson after crashing and burning last year. But, the allure of having a working story draft in 30 days is too irresistible to pass up.

So I’ll be taking a hiatus from the blog for a month while I drive myself crazy with frustration and worry through the month of November. Wish me luck, or better still, join yourself. Having done it three times now, I can say that it is a cathartic experience, no matter how the result turns out 🙂

MicroFiction #10

Afterwards...AFTERWARDS (100 words)

Hunter blew smoke rings and glanced at Jude lying beside him. She looked beautiful, the firelight glinting off her sweat darkened skin, breasts rising and falling in time with her ragged breathing. She watched him, legs in a tangle, eyes dark and smoky; a picture of satiated abandonment. Reaching over, he put the cigarette between her lips. Nuzzling her shoulder gently, he stroked his fingers down her flank, watching her skin indent and spring back. She squirmed and laughed softly, putting her hand over his.
“That tickles,” she said, leaning over to kiss him.
She tasted like tobacco and sex.

Rusalka

RusalkaRUSALKA

And mark, the dark and lonely tarn
A limpid eye on some craggy heath
Where forlorn willows do drunkenly list
To sip at waters veiled in mist
A shroud for she who dwells beneath

In the deep of night, the witching hour
She walks upon the unlit bank
To dance upon the grasses bare
Until the morning bright doth dare
To force her to her bower rank

All night she twirls, scarce touching the ground
And sings a melody hauntingly fair
To snare the unwary man who strays
Unwitting, unknowing of her ways
Into the gossamer skein of her lair

Then she leads them, dancing still
Into the tarn, under waters dark
Where they see at last her dread true grace
Those fiery green eyes in a wan pale face
Translucent and beautifully stark

Rusalka is the name she whispers
In the ear of those unfortunate swain
Who follow the nymph with golden hair
Whose comb conjures the water where
She dwells eternal. Rusalka.

Bryan Knower 2013

Short short story post-

And The Day PassesAND THE DAY PASSES

The noonday sun scorched his bare head and perspiration trickled across Leon’s scalp, crawling inexorably towards his hairline. He scrubbed his sleeve across his forehead, catching beads of sweat just before they tumbled off his brow and fell into the bottom of his boat. The breeze was out of the northwest and the canvas shelter he had rigged to the cabin provided no shade. He looked at the meager catch in the bottom of his boat, trying to push down the feeling of despair creeping up over him. It was the third day with no major catch now, and he urgently needed something substantial to keep Martha going for the rest of the week
He tried not to think of Martha, lying sick in the little seaside cottage they called home. Even if he got back by early evening, it was an hour’s drive in the old Ford pickup to Puerto Vallejo, where he could sell his catch. The fancy restaurants there paid good money for the big table fish, but those fish were getting harder to find, especially for a lone operator like himself. The developers mushrooming along the once pristine beaches had polluted the bay, driving the big fish out into deeper waters. The ones he caught nowadays were scrawny and undersized. Not worth much on the market, and he was struggling.
In spite of the hardship, Leon liked the life. Lonely, but that suited him. He had come here with Martha twenty years ago to get away from city life and never regretted one moment of it until six months ago, until Martha’s illness. It was scary how she deteriorated before his eyes.
They went to the city to see the doctors, many of them. None of them could provide much comfort. Cancer, they said, and ordered all sorts of tests, keeping Martha confined to a small room, sedated and comatose. She hated the whole process, when she was aware of it, and soon she refused to continue. He agreed.
Six months, the doctors said. Maybe longer if they were allowed to treat her. But for what? A few more months of misery and pain?
So they loaded up on narcotics and drove back to Caravinho, Martha squeezing his hand all the way and the first month had been good again. The narcotics helped and Martha was pain free and full of laughter, like she had always been. But in the past few weeks, the pain came back, and with it the cramps. Leon hated it when he had to leave her in the mornings, motoring out gently past the moorings to head out past the bay looking for those elusive fish. One or two good days might let him stay home the rest of the week but the catch lining the bottom were nearly worthless. Not worth driving into Puerto Vallejo to sell. The restaurants were only interested in prize catch. This stuff was only good for the neighborhood diners, who did not pay. Also, he was not the only fisherman in the area feeling the pinch.
A sudden unreasoning rage swept through him and he kicked savagely at the glittering pile at his feet. Even the contact was insubstantial. They were too slippery to provide much of a target. A beep from his navigation unit caught his attention. He had reached the end of his daily circuit. Time to pull up the nets and see what he had caught. He throttled back and cut the power, turning the small boat into the swells so she would not swamp. Then he walked over to the winch, activating the mechanism that would raise the net, gather it and swing it aboard. The motor whined ground and brought up the gray skeins of nylon from the deep, the bottom bulging slightly with the fruit of his current efforts. Nothing looked substantial there, just more of the same he had brought up all morning.
Swinging the net into the boat, he lowered it to the floor, opening the beams of the winch so he could look into the net. Something bulky and brown, bigger that the rest of the struggling silvery mass caught his attention and he leaned over, hooking it out. It was an old battered suitcase, waterlogged and rotten, nearly falling apart in his hands. Intrigued, he placed it on the floor and pried the lid open. It came up easily, the locks tearing away from the rotted leather panels holding them. Inside was a small package wrapped in plastic, about the size of a paperback book and sealed with tape. It appeared watertight in spite of the state of its enclosure. Curious, he cut the sealing tape and stripped away the wrapping, revealing a small intricately carved box inlaid with many kinds of wood and shell.
Very pretty, he thought, as he stuck the tip of his knife under the lid and levered the box open.
Taken aback by what he saw, he nearly dropped the box. Putting it down carefully on the deck of the boat, he stared again. The contents glittered back at him, catching the refracted rays of the sun and throwing them back into his eyes; all the colors of the rainbow flashing in a prismatic kaleidoscope that dazzled him and made him blink. They were a small handful of beautiful scintillating stones, crystals that flared in the light and tumbled around gently in their bed of crumbling black velvet. All were cut and polished, radiant and glittering; a king’s ransom in the palm of his hand, delivered to him in his need. He looked at the gems for a long time, trying to discern their story, but they glimmered on inscrutably, bright and hard in the sunlight, their secrets trapped like the rays of light imprisoned in their faceted bodies.
He did not wait to roll up the nets as he normally did. Stuffing the gems into his pocket, he swung the boat around, gunning the motor as he sped back to the shore. He felt filled to the bursting with excitement, anticipating breaking this wonderful news to Martha. They could afford all those experimental treatments now; the one the specialist doctors offered; the ones costing so much money. In fifteen minutes, he was back at the little jetty in front of their house, scarcely aware of navigating the shoals at the head of the bay. Leaping out onto the wooden dock, he ran towards the front door, calling out Martha’s name.
It was only a few hundred yards to the door, but long before he reached it, Leon felt something amiss. He felt it in his bones, in the oppressive stillness that seemed to surround the little cottage. The door was open, as it always was, and he pushed through, blinking as his eyes adjusted from the bright sunlight outside to the dimness of the interior. Martha lay in her usual spot, stretched out on the cot under the window where she could watch the seagulls swoop down as they scavenged for food. She always turned to greet him, no matter how weak she was but now she did not move. Leon hurried to her side, his heart growing heavier as he approached.
Martha looked asleep, her face turned towards the sunlight. All the lines had disappeared from her features, as if the care and pain of the past weeks had suddenly left her body. As indeed, they had. She was not breathing. He took her hand in his, fumbling for her pulse, feeling her skin still warm under his touch. There was not even a flutter, although Leon stood there for long minutes, concentrating. Martha had left him. Gone while he was out on the water. Alone at her passing.
Leon broke down then, weeping and wailing in his grief. Then he lashed out with his fists and feet at everything in the cottage, venting his grief in anger. He raged for hours, pacing around the little room, screaming at everything and nothing, until the westering sun began to redden the interior of the room, giving Martha’s pale cheeks a last lingering blush. He paused then, drained and spent, and walked out of the cottage, back towards the beach and the water, which a short time ago had held out so much promise.
He stood at the water’s edge a long time, staring at the water as the sun sank in a flaming ball below the horizon and the afterglow painted infinite reflecting pathways on the darkening billows. The waves rolled endlessly towards him, breaking on the submerged rock mounts inside the mouth of the bay and marching with diminishing intensity to dissipate in froth at his feet. He could feel his former life slipping away with the eddies of the breakers, the shell of his world falling aside like a peeled plum, leaving him raw and bleeding, exposed to the universe. He groped in his pocket and brought out the handful of gems that had seemed the panacea to all his ills a few hours ago. In the fading twilight, the stones had lost much of their luster. They lay dull and quiescent in his palm, their inner fire extinguished.
He should go back inside, prepare for tomorrow, but he lingered. If he stayed where he was, stayed still, time might stand still too. Tomorrow could wait; a small delay in the inevitable of the darkening present.

Who?

Who?

WHO?

Who has heard the song the rainbow sings
When it spans the azure sky?
The wind has.

Who has seen cotton clouds shaped like beings
Both fantastic and bizarre?
The sun has.

Who has watched the monarchs on gossamer wings
Flit from milkweed twig to branch?
The summer has.

Who has been to the water’s edge when the tide brings
Both treasure and flotsam to the light?
The sand has.

Who has marked the splendor of the courts of kings
Puffed up with pomp and bloated with intrigue?
The rumor has.

Who has heard the tune the church bell rings
When it clangs the faithful to their ease?
The old oak has.

Who has felt the bite when the scorpion stings
Swift and deadly under sun warmed rocks?
The desert has.

Who knows why the lizard on the wall clings
Like a cellophane ornament on a windowpane?
The poet has.

Who has heard the tune the soaring lark sings
Offering a divine melody to the sublime?
The morning has.

Who has seen the beginning and end of all things
The alpha and the omega, future and past?
Who has?

Bryan Knower 2013

Facets

River BendFACETS

Walk with me just a little while
Said Sorrow to her friend
Nay, replied Melancholy, I’d rather go
To the riverbank where the willows grow
Though I may come with you in the end.

Then may I come with you instead
To the river where the pools are deep
For there, perhaps I’ll catch a thought
That the waters dark have lured and caught
Though I promise her secrets I’ll keep.

Come then friend, Melancholy said
And spend some time with me
I’ll show you delights unbeknown
Hidden, but for your eyes alone
For I know you want to see.

And off they went, both hand in hand
Sorrow and Melancholy
To the water’s edge in search dreams
To the deep pools with silent schemes
The desperate fruits of folly.

And when they had both drunk their fill
Of the dark passions hidden there
Melancholy discovered in Sorrow
A kindred bond pierced to the marrow
Of loneliness laid bare.

For in the final scheme of things
Those two are just the same
Not peas in a pod, but closer still
Both determined to bend to their will
All those who dare play their game.

And to the riverbank they both go still
For each is the others shade
And no lack of material do they there find
For the river hoards emotions of the secret kind
Of which these two are surely made.

Bryan Knower 2013

MicroFiction #08

MicroFictionCHOICE (99 words)

Tchusin watched, horrified, as first one then another Xurthu battle cruiser winked into existence around Thiele, the blue sun of his home world Taleen. He raised his first appendage and scratched his eye-ridge anxiously. He knew his duty. The enemy hadn’t detected him yet because of his cloaking device, but using his tight-beam to jump to Taleen orbit would dispel the shield and leave him defenseless.
He could do nothing.
Wait for the Xurthu to leave.
But when they were gone, Taleen would be gone too.
Game over.
Exhaling noisily, he extended his third appendage to the tight-beam node.

Preparing for NaNoWriMo

Just nine moNaNoWriMo 2011re days to November frenzy, and I noticed an interesting article on the Writer’s Digest website that may provide some help and motivation to those who are sitting of the fence of this year’s NaNoWriMo (like I am). It’s a short take on outlining, and I know that  many of you out there like to fly by the seat of your pants. Kudos to you. But speaking from experience, outlining, even in its most basic form, saved my life the last two years at NaNo and was hugely instrumental in enabling me to finish.

Its much better to have some idea about what you are going to write each day than simply sit down to a blank page or blank screen and wonder where your muse will take you that day. My advice, in addition to what Brian Klems provides in the article, is to make just 30 outline points or scenes, and write to those points each day.

It helped me to write the opening and closing scenes on day one and day two and then fill in the gaps as I went along. As you can see. I’m not advocating a rigid linear experience. Once you having your scenes, write them anyway, anyhow and anytime you want. Just do one a day for 30 days, making sure you put in about 1650 words per outline point and viola! Some will go longer and some will be shorter and others will feel as if they need to be broken down further. Resist the urge to do any further outlining. Just put in a chapter break (###) on your page and continue.

Good luck.

http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/how-to-prepare-for-nanowrimo-to-outline-or-not-to-outline?et_mid=586197&rid=2959907

Reached my NaNoWriMo goal for 2011

  Did it. Reached my goal with time to spare. Actually, I passed the 50K mark last Wednesday, but then the Thanksgiving holidays happened, and I didn’t write another word until today, Monday. But who cares. Makes me feel good, and that’s what matters. Now all I need to do is keep plugging away every week. Even 1K words a week will get me another 50K by next year’s Nano, and more importantly, I might actually get this damn thing finished.