Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Story A day in May - Day 11

I initially was thinking it said 1000 words. After the first part I checked the word count, 101. I had an idea for the rest where the lyrics to the song would tell the story. Then I realized it said 100 words. So I took out a word, and I was done. I think it still tells a story.

100 Words and a Million Miles

By J. Smith Kirkland

Alice stepped onto the stage. It was only six inches above the rest of the room, but a million miles from the defeated little girl she used to be. She knew half, or more, of the people in the room were paying no attention to her at all as she fumbled with the mic stand. They did noticed the big pop when she plugged the cable from the amp into her guitar. After apologizing for that, she introduced herself.

“Hi, my name is Alice. And this song is called Riptide.”

She struck a minor chord and began. Everyone listened.



The Prompt

Write a story in exactly 100 words


Monday, May 10, 2021

Story A Day in May - Day 10

 

Day10 -Dear Me

By J. Smith Kirkland



Dear 14 year old me,

I have been asked to write you this letter to address your fears, concerns, questions, and insecurities. As I look back at the photos of you, and think about those days, I slowly began to realize it was with great self esteem and disregard for the opinions of others that you travelled through the world. This attitude is clearly reflected by the clothes you wore in photos from those days. “Is that what people wore then?” someone younger than myself asked me. “No. Just me,” I replied.

Perhaps it is being raised by matriarchs of the strong southern woman kind that gives you such balance in your life. They certainly encourage you to pursue whatever dream you decide to chase. Their only expectations of you are to be kind, and to bring them their flowers while they are alive, not after they are gone. To know you are loved must surely be a part of why you don't require approval from everyone in order to be happy. And you do seem quite happy.

We both know you figured out that you were a little different by age six. That's when you learned people had so many rules, and some of them expected the rest of us to play by theirs. You saw no need to change yourself, their rules were their problem, not yours. Maybe that why now, at the age when peer acceptance is so important to many of your friends, you seem rather oblivious to disapproval. You think you are not bullied or made fun of, but maybe you wouldn't know if you were, because you really don't care. You and your friend are carrying balloons and playing kazoos on a walk-a-thon. The guys that popped them were probably saying mean things, but the way your friend jumped when they popped was funny, and you probably would have got tired of the balloon by the end. So your fun day was not damaged in the least. I can tell you assuredly, looking back, your kazoos were probably way more annoying to those guys than them popping the balloons was to the two of you.

I am supposed to be reassuring you things will get better and stuff like that, but you really are enjoying your life. I hate to tell you that in the future there will be some self doubt. Nothing brought on by external forces. Mainly your own frustration with not meeting up to your own rules. Yes, you will have your own rules. Be kind. That's the main one. And you will beat yourself up sometimes when you fail at that one. But I still think it is a good rule.

Now those clothes. I am not going to lie. You will never not think that big suede fringed watch band is not cool. Well, cause it is. So is the derby. And you know that show with the crazy doctor in the time machine? That's only going to get cooler. I wish you could have some of the t-shirts I have now.

Oh yeah, you know how a lot of your friends are talking about what they are going to do with their lives? I know your ideas change constantly. Don't worry about it. Oh wait. You don't. I still don't. You are going to do a lot of amazing things you have never even thought of yet, and a few you have. Remember that girl that told you “you will never do that when you grow up.” She's an idiot. I know, your exact words. And I did it.

OK. I am supposed to be reassuring you how everything is better when you are older. There are some bad things, I will be honest. But you know what gets me through them? Remembering you, and all those people that taught you that you can do anything you set you mind to. And that you are loved. So instead of me reassuring you. I want to thank you for reminding me that I was you. I am still you, just older and fatter. Sorry about the fat part. You might want to watch out for that in your late thirties. But other than that, enjoy the ride.



The Prompt

Write a letter to your 14-year-old self. Address that young person’s fears, concerns, questions, and insecurities. Offer reassurance based on what you now know as an adult.


Saturday, May 8, 2021

Story A Day In May - Day 8

 

Dungeons and Demons

By J. Smith Kirkland

 

“Let's see. Where did we leave off?”

Tchort checks his tally sheet.

“You had captured two of my nun, and four monks, and I had 5 of your nuns and one monk. Making you six nuns nine monks, to my nine nuns a four monks.”

Chemos didn't know why he trusted Tchort to keep the score, but he didn't want to do it himself. Still he is not sure about the nun count.

“How did you get so many of my nuns?”

“Remember? I forfeited one of my hot monks. He took three down at one time just by taking off his shirt in the garden.”

“Oh yeah. But I have him now. I can probably put Brother Bob to better use than that.”

“Well, it's my move. And Sister Matalin is just about to get a bad thought. I'm going to try to get her to steal the bread from your monastery and bring it to mine.”

Tchort roles 2 six sided die.

“Eleven! Success!”

They both watch as Sister Matalin pulls a duffel bag from under her bed. Then she sneaks into the pantry and starts to stuff it with days worth of bread.

“Alright,” Chemos retorts, “I will block with Brother Bob. He just had the oddest urge to go straight to the pantry.” With a role of the dice, “Ten! Success! And oh look, he can't find his shirt.”

"Not fair!"

Shirtless Brother Bob walks into the pantry. Sister Matalin turns with a startle to think she was discovered, then almost swoons when she sees Brother Bob standing there.”

Before the the action could continue, Mantus walks into the room.

“Tchort! Chemos! Are you playing with Abaddon's toys again? Put them back like you found them right this minute. How many time do I have to tell you not to take his playthings. Go play with your Moabites and those Serbics that your Grandfather gave you last Christmas.

The two reluctantly chanted and waved their hands, and All the nuns and monks were back where they were at the start of the game. No memory of the event of the last two days.

 

THE PROMPT

In a mysterious valley, two rival abbeys of nuns and monks serving the same strange god play a secret game unbeknownst to their superiors. When the stakes for the game become souls, how can the game be ended — and the debts to the demon of chance be paid?

 

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Story A Day in May - Day 5 prompt on Day 6

 

With This Ring

By J. Smith Kirkland


He knew it would be the last time he was trusted with anything. How could he lose the ring. He was sure he had put it in the inside coat pocket. That seemed safe. He didn't think it could have fallen out when he hung his jacket on the back of the chair, but that is the only time it could have fallen out. He looked everywhere around the chair, but no ring. He had lost the ring. The bride's grandmother's ring. He was the worst best man ever. Well, Rodney was the the worst best man ever. Losing the ring doesn't compare with making out with the bride before the ceremony like Rodney did at his cousin's wedding, but that wasn't make this any better.

The wedding was only minutes away. He was trying to look around the chairs again, but people were there now. Earlier it had only been the parents making a fuss at the decorations, the sister talking with the musicians, and her husband nodding off up front. The young niece and nephew were running around yelling, knocking over flowers, and . Now people were sitting in the chairs. More kids had arrived. He was trying to look while not to show panic on his face. He was trying to think of what he was going to say to the groom. Does he tell the groom. Or the bride. He did not want to tell the bride.

He walks to the front and sits by the sister and brother in law. He is about to confess to them when the sister says, “where did you get that?” He looks and sees the niece has put the ring on her necklace.

She was keeping it safe for me. Weren't you sweetheart?”

Before she could answer he held out his hand for her to give it to him, “Your Auntie Kate will be so grateful to you.” Then he looked at her mother, “You have such good children.” He was as sincere as possible, but she knew it was a lie.

As soon as he felt the ring touch his palm, he clenched his fist around it so hard that his knuckles turned white. And he did not loses that grip until the preacher dude said, “Do you have a token...”


THE PROMPT

A character has lost an object that is of great value to someone they love.


Story A Day In MAY - Day 4

 

Paper Cut

By J. Smith Kirkland

 

Paper cuts are the worst. Ramona doesn't even understand how it could happened. She had been chopping vegetables that morning. No cuts. Shaved her legs. No Cuts. She even managed to wrangle the neighbor's weird cat to remove the tissue box it had somehow gotten stuck on it's head. Not a single scratch. She picked up a new envelope from her desk. Deep cut that would not stop bleeding.

Oh, that envelope. She was going to mail the form to have the gas and water cut off at the old house. She had really hoped it would have sold by now, but she can't keep paying those bills. Hopefully she will be free of it soon. But for now, just get the form mailed.

That afternoon, the form, with a spot of blood on it, reached the sorting machine at the post office. The new high tech sorting machine, with the latest chemical detection devices and software. Unfortunately, the company that made the software decided they didn't need to spend so much money on software testers, and got rid of all of them except the owner's nephew. The results of this decision culminated in the blood on the envelope triggered an alarm stopping the mail sorter. It was a glitch in the software, AB positive blood was identified as ricin. There had never been AB negative blood detected by the machine before, and while blood was used while testing the devices software, apparently not AB positive blood.

The machine sounds an ear piercing alarm and stops dramatically fast, throwing another letter out of the sorter and into a small gap between the machine and the wall. The letter would never be found. The letter that was created using pasted together letters and emojis cut from printouts of twitter postings. It was a warning to the CIA that there would be consequences unless a man named Jojo Jordon was released from prison. He was convicted of breaking into a lottery vending machine and stealing scratch off tickets, but leaving the more than one thousand dollars in actual cash the machine contained.

The next day, Ramona is going to visit her friend downtown. She doesn't know what type of work her friend does, but there are lots of rules about signing in and getting a photo made for the visitor pass. Whenever she has asked her friend what they do there, he always says, “Well, then i'd have to kill you.” And laughs.

While she was signing in, the bandage came off. The cut was bleeding again. She got blood on the visitor log and the badge. She apologized profusely. Then she went down the hall to the glass doors that would open when she ran her badge through the reader. She had done this several times before. But today, it was not working. After three tries, the guard is alerted. He leaves his desk to investigate. He looks at the badge, wipes the blood off, and it works. He tells her where to find the first aid kit once she is inside.

While he was away from his post, the angry man walks in, and being able to avoid the sign in procedure, goes quickly to the elevator. His intended destination is a classified area. To avoid using his badge to enter, he shuffles papers near the door and waits for someone else to enter. As they are entering, he drops his badge. Bends down to get it. As the door shuts behind the other person, he quickly slips his badge in to stop the lock from catching. Looks around, waits a few seconds, then opens the door and enters.

After getting a new bandage, Ramona and her friend leave the building for lunch. They are sitting at a sidewalk cafe enjoying the sunny day and teriyaki chicken. At one point, she picked up her fork, and it pressed into the cut just the wrong way. She dropped the fork and pulled her arm back, accidentally elbowing the server behind her, who in turned spilled a glass of water on the woman at the next table who was looking in a compact mirror as she reapplied her lipstick. The mirror tilted up towards the sun and reflected into the eye of a sniper who was on the roof. The sniper was there to protect an alien ambassador from the zoxtroon nebula. The sniper twitched when the sun hit his eye, and he accidentally pulled the trigger, killing the ambassador and starting an all out interstellar situation that resulted in a war with multiple planets.

That's how a small cut on her finger led to the end of the world.


THE PROMPT

Write a 1000 word flash fiction story that ends with the line: “That’s how a small cut in her finger led to the end of the world.”


Story A Day - Day 6

 I was feeling a little under the weather for a could of days, so day 4 and 5 stories are not complete yet. I will catch up and add them later.

 

Interview with a Vampire

By J. Smith Kirkland

I was not yet a vampire the first time I sat down to interview Herbert. I had not yet gained notoriety for my reporting, and he had not yet gained notoriety for his inventions. It was good to catch up with him. After the general 'how have you been' and 'so good to see you' conversation, I started the interview asking where he was when he came up with his idea, and what inspired him.

"I was living in New Orleans --."

"Cajun accent,” I whispered to myself.

"I have an accent?" Herbert started to laugh.

"Sorry, I noticed it earlier. You have picked up a slight sharpness to the consonants. I tend to mimmic the people I am around a lot also. "

"It's all right," Herbert assured me. But let me continue."

"Please," I said.

New Orleans. Not as many vampires there as you might think. Mostly werewolves and other skinwalkers. I was hanging out in the Quarter, listening to some cat playing jazz guitar, when I started talking to a guy that had moved there from Tennessee. He was complaining that the daylight just seemed to get harsher and harsher the older he got. He said sunglasses didn't seem to block out whatever it was that bothered him. Not even the UV blockers or those computer glasses for staring at computer screens. So I started to wonder, what wave length in sunlight is it that bothers skinwalkers.”

So the whole idea came from wondering how to make sunglasses for a discontent werewolf?”

I think he was just an alley cat, but i'm not judging. But yeah, that's when I started thinking about it.”

How did you get from sunglasses to the day walker contacts?”

Well, first I got with a physicist friend of mine. I'm a chemist you know.”

Alchemist?”

My degree is in Chemistry. But okay.”

Sorry.”

Anyway. Together we identified the wavelength. We called it the nightwalker wavelength. Then I had to learn about making lenses. And once I identified which chemical compound could be added to the glass to reflect the wave, we had our first product.”

Daywalker glasses.”

Right. But marketing quickly found that the target demographic. . ."

Me.”

You and the skinwalkers. The target demographic was most opposed to the idea of wearing glasses. The skinwalkers for practical reason; they kept losing them during a shift. The vampires for more aesthetic reasons.”

We do like to look good.”

Exactly. So after some time we found a way to get the compound into contacts without degradding the material the contacts are made of, and the rest is history.”


THE PROMPT

Write an interview with a character who invented something that changed the world…years after the change took place.


Monday, May 3, 2021

STORY A DAY IN MAY - DAY 3

 THE WALK

By J. Smith Kirkland

Part 1

His alarm went off. Time to walk. He made sure he had his keys, and his wallet, and his mask. Put on his shoes and stepped outside. Before starting, he set the app on his phone to record the path and the distance. He liked to try to take a path that created a line on the app's map that never intersected itself. Sorta like the light cycles in the Tron arcade game.

There were not a lot of other people on the roads and sidewalks where he walked. More than last year, but not so many that he couldn't easily avoid them if he saw someone approaching up ahead. So many of them still had not been vaccinated. Some out of fear, some out pure denial that there was anything to be vaccinated from. But he remained hopeful that soon his world would return to normal.

Part 2

My alarm just went off. Time to walk. Do the check list: keys, wallet, mask. I really need new shoes soon, but these will last a little longer. I have a new app on my ring communicator to record my distance and calories burned. “Maxwell, start workout.” And I am off.

There are not a lot of other people on the roads and sidewalks where I walk. A lot less than there were ten years ago. I am always hoping to pass someone who doesn't cross to the other side of the street before we meet. Almost everyone left has been vaccinated. The others all died out years ago. But people still avoid each other, some out of fear, some out of habit, some out of pure denial that there is no longer anything to be vaccinated from. But I remained hopeful that the world will return to normal soon.

THE PROMPT

This prompt comes from thinking about point of view and you could use it to write the whole story in two parts.

For the first part create a character who does something that you did during that week: e.g. go to the grocery store and you buy oranges. now. Now write about it in the third-person perspective and fictionalize it.

In the second part move your story 10 years into the future. Change perspective to make it a first person perspective. And it turns out that that non-momentous moment from your life (e.g. going to the super supermarket and buying oranges) ended up being extremely important to this character.

Don’t forget to include how the world has changed from 10 years ago to now and how the character’s world has changed, how they think of the world, and how they move through the world differently.

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Story A Day In May - Day 2

 

Journal of Aber Crombie

By J. Smith Kirkland

Day 58

I still have not come to grasps with the giant sun in the red sky. Herbert says the sky is red because the sun is a red dwarf. And the sun is huge because the habitable zone around a red dwarf is much closer to the sun than what I am used to. And that's because the sun is cooler. That's what Herbert tells me anyway. And that's the reason it is so much colder here than I am used to. There are a lot of things here I am not used to.

We went to the greenhouse this morning. Like every morning. The automation control for the microbe system gets off schedule sometimes, and we have to adjust it manually sometime. I'm glad Herbert is smart and knows all this stuff. But as long as the system works at all the plants seem to do fine. But I think Herbert just like to walk around in there. The green plants are a nice contrast to the dry cracked ground outside. And as much as I would hate to admit it to Herbert, it is nice to have some sort of routine. I used to think it would be great to have no responsibilities, nothing that had to be be done. But after having nothing that has to be done all day for 58 days, I need some sort of routine or I think I might go mad.

After breakfast in the green house, we pick a direction on the compass, one we have not used before, and start walking in that direction. We are looking for new things. A type of rock we have not seen before, a soil anomaly, signs of a creature. We have seen no signs of creatures at all. Not even with the microbe detector. Of course, the literature all says there is no life on this planet other than what the transport company has brought to the weigh station, but Herbert says people that believe everything a company tells them will never discover anything new. And honestly, the people at the company were the ones that told us we would only be here for two days before the next ship arrived. So, we go looking for new things.

We only walk for 8 kilometer before we turn to go back. The days are short here, and you don't want to be outside when the red sun sets. I complain about the cold a lot. I grew up near an equator. I like it warm. Herbert promises the next stop will be warmer. It has a yellow sun. He says it has beaches like my home too. And people. He suspects I won't complain if we get stuck there for a month or two. I have never been to earth, but he makes it sound nice. Though I am starting to wonder if we will ever get there. Herbert still talks as if the ship is still on the way, but I am starting to think there may not be anymore ships.



THE PROMPT

Write a story or a scene in a setting you have never used before. It can be somewhere you have been or somewhere you have always wanted to go. It can be real or imagined.

The goal is to try something new.

Saturday, May 1, 2021

Story a Day in May - Day 1

 

TELESGOPI

by J. Smith Kirkland

Standing there on the bridge at daybreak, watching the water carry golden leaves out of view, past where the river turned, Dai can almost forget that everything is about to change. No matter what he does, no matter what choice he makes, everything will be different from this point on.

A week ago, he was content. His world was safe, comfortable. He floated through his life like a leaf carried by the current. His trade was the same as his father, and he has made a good living at an early age. He lived in a house much like the one where he was raised. He was engaged to Anwen, who he has known all his life. Their parents were neighbors, and encouraged a romance. She is bright and sweet. His life was well laid out, flowing like a river with no rapids, calmly, quickly. A week ago.

A week ago, a stranger came down the road into Dai's town. People often passed through. The town was a halfway mark between two large trading towns. Many people in Dai's town profited from the traffic, providing food, drink, repairs, lodging. Few travelers would stop in Dai's shop. Like his father, and his grandfather, Dai made furniture. Almost every house in the town had more than one piece made by his family. But furniture is not something those passing through needed for their journey. But a week ago, a stranger came down the road and walked into Dai's shop.

It is not that Dai did not believe in fate, or signs, or destinies. They are just things Dai never thought about. But he looked up from his work, into the eyes of the stranger, and something felt different. Something felt familiar. Something felt . . . not content.

Helo, I am Caru.”

Dai stared for too long, forgetting to speak. Caru smiled, and Dai swallowed and found his voice.

Welcome. I am Dai. How can I help you?”

I am looking for a craftsman to make something for me.”

We make well crafted furniture here. Is there something specific you need?”

A Telesgopi.”

Dai was not sure if the stranger's words were from another language, or something he had never heard of. There were many new fads and styles in the big towns that he might be unaware of.

I am not familiar with that item.”

Caru smiled.

You should not be. It is my own invention. It is made of glass and wood. I have made the glass part, but i need someone to make the wood part to enclose it.

Caru pulled three glass discs from from a pouch, and displayed them to Dai. The largest was about the size of Caru's palm. The other two decreased incrementally in size. Laying them on a table, Caru then pulled a drawing from the pouch.

This is what I need you to make.”

Dai studied the drawing. There were two wooden cylinders that housed the glass discs. Two discs at each end of the smaller, and one at the end of the larger. The smaller cylinder slid in and out of the larger, changing the distance between the largest disc and the others.

What does it do?”

It lets you see into the distance.”

Dai thought it should not be difficult to make the cylinders. He would have to think about how to keep the glass in place, but that was something that would be enjoyable to figure out.

I think I can make that.”

I have no doubt.”

Dai looked into Caru's eyes. Kindness. Wisdom. And something else. Something unfamiliar.

Caru found lodging with a local widow, and over the next few days, would come to Dai's shop to discuss the design, select the wood, and tell Dai about far away places, and mountains, and oceans. Dai began to realize that that unfamiliar gleam in Caru's eye was adventure.

With the cylinders constructed, and the glass held firmly in place, the two took the Telesgopi to the bridge. Caru looked through it in different directions, sliding the cyliners to elongate or and shorten it.

This is perfect, Dai! Look. Try it.”

Caru handed Dai the Telesgopi. Dai pointed it down the river. He slid the cylinders until what he saw was in focus. It was as if he had moved all the way to the river's turn. Slack jawed, he looked at Caru. Caru pointed down the bridge back towards town. Dai turned that way and put the Telesgopi to his eye, and focused the device. He could read the sign on baker's house. He lowered the device to see that without it from the bridge he could barely tell there was a sign on the house. This was the most amazing device he had ever seen.

Now,” said Caru, “there is one more thing that needs to be done to make it really work.”

Back at the shop, Caru pulled another drawing from the pouch.

This is what i need you to carve into the wood. The ancient rheolau that will let it look even farther into the distance.”

The drawing showed an inticate design of shapes and symbols carved on both cylinders. Dai prided himself on his carving skills. Many of his customers requested elaborate floral and nature designs on their furniture, and they were always pleased with his work. These shapes should be much easier. He assured Caru it would be done before sunset the next day.

An hour before sunset, Caru came into the shop. Dai was smiling, pleased with his work and ready to show it to Caru. Caru studied the carvings, took out the design and compared them to it, then looked at Dai and smiled back. Caru carefully aligned the carvings on the two cylinders then looked through it towards the door, then back at Dai.

Lets' go to the bridge. I want you to see what a wonderous thing we have created.”

Standing on the bridge, Caru make sure the cylinders were aligned correctly and handed Dai the Telesgopi.

Look back at the town.”

Dai lifted the device to his eye carefully, not wanting to change the cyliders' alignment. He was in awe of what he saw. It was not the baker's house. It was Anwen in a bridal gown. Then Dai himself there at her side. Then Anwen holding their child. Then Dai and his son building furniture. Everyone was content, and safe. His life laid out before him, and everything as is should be, as it was always expected to be. He lowered the Telesgopi and looked at Caru, thinking this must be wizardry.

It let's you see into the distance. Were you pleased with what you saw?”

Yes. That is my future?”

It's one future. The future is always a choice. Look toward the other end of the bridge.”

Dai was not sure if that was a good idea. He was no longer certain if this device they had constructed was a good device or a bad one. Hesitantly he looked down the bridge away from town, and raised the Telesgopi to his eye. He saw a large city with people everywhere. Then he saw Caru and himself sitting at a table outside a cafe, laughing. Then they were climbing on top of a boulder, an gazing together from a mountain top over a green valley. He saw the expression on his own face. Joy. He could feel it. The scene changed to an ocean beach. Dai lowered the device. He did not look at Caru.

What does it mean?”

It means tomorrow I will be crossing this bridge to leave your town. You can go with me toward that future, or stay with the future in town.”

Dai handed Caru the Telesgopi.

I will be leaving just after dawn”, Caru said, almost whispering.

Caru turn and went back to the town, leaving Dai alone on the bridge to try and absorb what he had just seen and the implications of what he had just helped to create.

It is daybreak, and Dai is still tanding there on the bridge. He knows that no matter what he does, no matter what choice he makes, everything will be different from this point on. He knows his life that was mapped out since he was born will be comfortable, safe, content. He knows there are other who could only dream of such a life. But now. Now he has seen into a distance that is filled with adventure, with laughter, with feelings he is not sure he knew existed just a week ago. If he stays, he will always be thinking of what could have been. If he goes? Adventure? Something more than contentment? But at what risk?

He looks back to town. I solitary figure is approaching. Caru. A week ago, there was only one future. But at this moment, both futures are at the same end of the bridge. And very soon, he will have to choose from which end of the bridge he leaves.


THE PROMPT

~ The Bridge ~

There is a point, in the distance, that your character very badly wants to reach. What is it?

What is the point from which they’ve started out, what are they willing to do to get to that point in the distance? What will they sacrifice?

The bridge is the point between those two places. The bridge is where what they must do to get there, what they’re willing to sacrifice, and the consequences of those decisions coexist.

Write their story, on the bridge.







Did this once before. Going to try it again. 

storyaday.org/

Last time i made it up until the last week, and sorta got distracted at the end there.

I found it was great to get back in the habit of writing everyday, and it created fodder for new stories and characters. So, one more time with feeling. 

Watch for my stories here on my blog, earluminator.blogspot.com/

or on my website earluminator.com/

Journal Of Aber Crombie

 The Journal Of Aber Crombie is a short story being released in episodes as it it written by J Smith Kirkland.  it is available on Vella an...