Friday, March 29, 2013

Celebrate the Small Things-Week 11

It's time once again to Celebrate the Small Things with VikLit!

First of all, the long week of illness that plagued my family has come to an end, and we're all feeling much better!  That alone is worth a shout of WOOHOO!

Also, the weather here in Iowa seems to be improving.  It's supposed to be in the 50's today, so provided everything works out, I intend to take my kids to the park.  I think they'd love to do that again.  Playing on playground equipment that's buried in snow doesn't always work the best, but a lot of that snow has melted away.  Hopefully none of it gets replaced by future storms.

I'm looking forward to Easter this weekend.  I love watching my kids go through their Easter baskets, I love dying eggs, and I love eating chocolate bunnies! Granted, when I eat chocolate bunnies, I have to outright ignore the nutrition information on the box to avoid the guilt, but that's okay.

What would you like to celebrate?

Memoirs From the End of the World: Entry #29

After taking a week off to battle illness, I'm back with another installment of my flash fiction serial.  For those who've missed previous entries, you can find the whole story on this PAGE.

Memoirs From the End of the World
Entry #29

The muted light that passed through RC’s eyelids was unexpected, to say the least.  The sensation of steely hands clamped around her throat came back to her like a punch to the stomach.  Horrified by the memory, she opened her eyes, hoping against hope that the image greeting her would be better than the last.

First of all, she was no longer in the same room.  Light streamed in through a couple of windows, making the world appear much brighter than before.

Frantic, she remembered her last view of Alyx lying unconscious on the floor.  Though her vision was somewhat blurred for some reason she couldn’t quite understand, she could see well enough to decide he wasn’t in the room with her now.  Tim, on the other hand, was sitting crumpled up in the corner.

“It looks like she’s waking up.”  A woman in a gray jumpsuit leaned over RC, her bright green eyes intense as they scrutinized her.  This woman’s breath smelled like mint as it cascaded over her face.  Though the smell itself wasn’t at all unpleasant, the sensation sent chills down her spine.

“I told you I didn’t hurt her that bad.”  Gas Can’s voice sounded abrasively self-assured as usual.

The woman’s eyes flicked down toward RC’s legs before she nodded.  “Sure.  She might disagree with you on that, but I guess it won’t make any difference for our purposes.”

RC’s stomach knotted.  What had he done to her while she was out cold?  Where was this woman looking, and what did she see?  Yet there wasn’t really a question in her mind about what happened.  Not really.  After hearing about Isabel’s experiences and what she went through, she had no doubts about what Gas Can and the others were capable of doing.

“That was Leo’s handiwork,” Gas Can replied.  “He’s still upset about what Isabel did to his brother.  Since she helped Isabel get away, it’s the closest thing to revenge he could get.”

When RC concentrated, she started to feel more than the residual pain in her neck.  Her thighs ached, and she felt what had to be a deep gash that left her skin caked with dried blood.  That discovery triggered a wave of nausea that forced her to look away from them both.  The last thing she wanted was for them to analyze her like an animal in a zoo.

“Well, I’ll leave that one for you.”  The woman nodded at Tim.  “I don’t care what you do with him.  His self-inflicted vasectomy makes him useless to us, and I don’t think you’re going to get him to talk at this point.  I’ll take her.”

Where’s Alyx? RC thought frantically.  If they’re discarding Tim, what would they do to Alyx?  After all, they already declared him useless every time the patrols ignored him.

“You’re going to live a much more comfortable life where you’re going, sweetheart,” the woman said softly, though she didn’t look RC in the eye when she said it.  “I don’t understand why people like you run for so long.  The breeding facility isn’t nearly as bad as you might imagine it to be.”

RC didn’t bother to refute these assertions or to explain her position.  That would be futile.  Only one thing mattered enough to make her speak up.  “Where’s Alyx?”

The woman furrowed her eyebrow.  “Which one was that?”

“That’s the one who spit on me,” a new voice added.  RC caught sight of a tuft of blond hair.

“Yeah, he didn’t like Leo all that much,” Gas Can replied.  “It probably didn’t help that you made him watch everything you did to her.”

“He was the one with the messed up keg,” Leo added.  “A souvenir I was more than happy to provide.”

The woman nodded in recognition.  “Oh, him.  Our medic already took him out of here.  He won’t be going to the same place as you, but the Constable requested him for something.  I have no idea what they want with him, though.”

“He’s lucky,” Leo added bitterly.  “If they’d left him to us, I would have killed him and forced her to watch.”

Gas Can laughed.  “You do like to have an audience, don’t you?”

“Can’t let good art go to waste,” Leo replied.

“You can always finish him for her entertainment.”  Gas Can pointed to Tim.  “It won’t be the same since they weren’t traveling together, but I bet you anything that it will still have an impact on her.”

The woman rolled her eyes.  “Is this posturing really necessary?”

“Maybe we think it is,” Leo said defensively.  “Now be a doll and sit her up for us.”

The woman sighed but did as they demanded.  RC’s head swam as her body struggled to compensate for the sudden motion.  Though she knew it was a bad idea, she quickly glanced down to see the damage firsthand.  Her pants were gone, though they’d at least let her keep her underwear.  Bruises were popping up all over her skin.

RC forced her eyes away from the injuries, biting her lower lip to keep the rage at bay.  Exploding at them, justifiable though it might be, would in no way help her position.

Tim stirred when Leo grabbed him by the collar.  “What do you want from me now?” he demanded angrily. 

“Your life.”

A look of undeniable relief came over Tim moments before the knife tore through his carotid artery.  The blood came fast, but RC didn’t focus on that.  She instead kept her eyes focused on his.  Even as despair threatened to consume her, she focused on his relief, which remained firmly in place until the end.

As the woman yanked RC to her feet, she wondered if she should envy Tim.  Would a swift death be better than what awaited her, or was there still hope to be found somewhere?

Only time would tell.

Go to Entry #30

Thursday, March 28, 2013

FSF: The Inner Flame

It's time for Five Sentence Fiction!  This week's prompt is FLAME.

For those who are not up to date on this sci-fi adventure, you can find the whole story from the beginning on this PAGE.

Chapter 25: The Inner Flame

Landing on Plenitia 5 was supposed to solve so many problems, yet this dangerous woman who had no real qualms about the murders she’d committed to remain free of her ex-husband, made an odd request before Ylana and Nara could escape the gravitational pull of this backwater world: “Please, stay with me until I’m done with the procedure.”

Image courtesy of digitalart
Myrandia’s voice sounded so sincere, even vulnerable, and even with her newly fashioned talons for fingernails, she almost looked fragile.  Though Ylana didn’t understand why, she felt an upwelling of sadness for her.

As they walked through the empty streets to the medical clinic where Myrandia would find the solutions to her immediate problems, she said, “Ylana, I think you’re fascinated with me, because you see a flame within me that you wish you had inside you.  Your people have endured so much, and you want to fight against that, yet unlike me, you can’t let go of the inhibitions that would allow you to get what you want for your world.”

Go to Lingering Words

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


This week I started out with the word ENDEAVOR.  This is the poem that resulted from that inspiration.


To endeavor is to dream
the dreams that seem too big,
to push back the boundaries
behind which we live.
To endeavor is to explore
the limits of who we are,
to embrace new possibilities
and seek out mysteries afar.
To endeavor is to hope
that we can behave better,
that we can act wisely
and our time, we won’t fetter.
To endeavor is to believe
that reaching for the gold,
while not always practical,
paves way for rewards untold.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

FSF: Dressed to Conquer

This week's Five Sentence Fiction prompt was CONQUER.

For those who need to catch up on previous installments, you can find the entire story on this PAGE.

Chapter 24: Dressed to Conquer

Myrandia sat at the galley table, carefully shaving her fingernails into sharp points that she intended to later dip into a tub of bright red nail polish.  The whole image seemed so ridiculous that Ylana wanted to laugh, and she didn’t doubt that this woman was merely doing this to play off the fears that she sensed from them both.
Image courtesy of boulemonademoon

“We’ll be dropping you off in two days,” Nara announced flatly as she stood at the counter, pouring herself a steaming hot cup of Trinco tea.

“That’ll be just fine,” Myrandia said softly as she deliberately moved the nail file back and forth, dusting the table with white residue.

Though Ylana knew she shouldn’t stir up trouble when this shared journey was so near to being over, she found herself blurting out, “If you don’t mind me asking, are you embellishing your appearance like that because you want everyone to think you’re ready to conquer them, when you’re actually terrified that your life has spun so far out of your control you don’t know who you are anymore?”

Go to The Inner Flame

Express Yourself: Childhood Books

The Express Yourself Weekly Meme is made possible by Jackie @ Bouquet of Books and Dani @ Entertaining Interests.  Each week comes with a question to prompt self-expression. This week's question deals with one of my favorite things in the world.  Books.

What books did you enjoy as a child?

When I was in elementary, the Goosebumps books by R.L. Stine were immensely popular, and I read most of them.  It wasn't at all uncommon for me to get through a book in a single sitting.

Photo from Flickr/ brittanysoup.
From there though, I dove straight into the realm of adult books.  I loved Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton.  I read it because I loved the movie, and though I didn't yet understand all the science in it as a ten year old kid, it excited me.

Science fiction books always held a certain appeal for me, so those made for some of my favorite stories.  I like stories that defy the ordinary, everyday things in my life.  That always has been, and always will be, the case.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Celebrate the Small Things: Week 10

It's time to Celebrate the Small Things with VikLit!

I can't lie about the fact that it's been a hard week.  This cold and flu season won't let up.  Having two kids makes it seem that much longer.  My husband caught a bad stomach flu earlier this week, and we all ended up with it.  I'm most worried about my 3 year old, who hasn't been keeping down anything, even fluids.  We're taking him to the doctor a little later today.

Since everything has been so stressful, I won't be doing all my normal postings. I usually post flash fiction on Fridays, but I haven't had a chance to write anything.  I also won't be doing a Weekend Philosopher post this weekend since I need to focus on taking care of my family right now.

Still, even with such a rough week, there are some things to celebrate.  There always are, after all!

I am mostly through with being sick.  I still can't eat like normal yet, but I'm getting there!

I haven't been able to drink coffee since Tuesday.  While that isn't the greatest of things, it also proves that I can survive without it.  This is something I never would have imagined to be true!

I have a couple new books to read.  While I may not have the time right now, I look forward to reading them in the near future!

Even with all the puking going on in my house this week, I managed to keep up with laundry.  That's a feat in and of itself.

What do you have to celebrate?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Big Reveal

Sorry I'm a little late in posting this.  I've been sick the last couple of days.  It's difficult for me to keep up with anything right now.

I'm doing the A-Z Challenge on both of my blogs.  For this blog, I'm going to be posting a story.  Each chapter will correspond with the day's letter of the alphabet.  I'm trying for sci-fi humor on this one.  Not sure how well it will turn out, but I felt like being ambitious!  I can never hope to be as good at this genre as Douglas Adams, of course.  He set the bar rather high.

On my other blog, I'll be posting interesting videos that relate to science.  Most of them will relate to astronomy, while others will deal with other areas of science.  Astronomy is one of my favorite subjects, so that probably has a lot to do with why I'm focusing heavily on that.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


Today I used a combination of things to inspire a poem.  Awhile back I had an image of an abandoned railroad track that I jotted down in my notebook.  I also drew upon the word MADNESS, which came to me via a random word generator.

Here's the result.  I hope you enjoy it.


An abandoned railroad track,
rusted and overgrown with time,
Image courtesy of Sura Nualpradid
fades into the mists of some
unknown madness.

Chilled winds swirl and consume
the delicate flesh of humanity.
Warmth ebbs away, leaving only
shivering bone.

This path, once lush and vibrant
echoes with the memories of
long lost dreams that have since
crumbled to dust.

Stories once passed down through
generations with reverence were
replaced with broken phrases of
no consequence.

For who had time to share tales
of wonder and adventure when the
daily need to fulfill demands of
vanity ran high?

The storytellers once lingered,
eager to share, but no one came,
and thus came the final end as
curiosity lay down to die.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Express Yourself: Looking for Luck

It's time once again for the Express Yourself Weekly Meme with Jackie @ Bouquet of Books and Dani @ Entertaining Interests.

Do you have a lucky charm or a lucky ritual?

I'm not a superstitious person, so I don't think holding on to specific trinkets will bring me luck.  However, I do know I achieve more when I follow a certain routine that helps set me up for success.  At night after my kids are settled down in bed and I've finished the housework, I sit down with a cup of coffee.  I'll usually listen to Star Talk Radio or music while I get in whatever writing I can for the evening.  It's my nightly ritual, and it serves me well.

Also, I used to have a lucky pencil.  I called it that because it was my favorite shade of blue, and it felt super comfortable in my hand.  The words seemed to flow when I used that pencil, if only because it had such an awesome grip. Unfortunately, it disappeared into the recesses if my house.  Perhaps one day I will see it again, but until then, I'll have to make do with the pencils I have on hand.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Top Ten Movie Countdown Blogfest

When the Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh hosts a blogfest, I have to join in! This one is quick and easy.  The Top Ten Movie Countdown Blogfest is self explanatory.  Just list your ten movie favorites!

My movie favorites will change on occasion.  You never know when a new movie will come along and blow you away.

10.) Gattaca

9.) Aliens

8.) Terminator 2: Judgment Day

7.) The Man From Earth

6.) Cloud Atlas

5.) The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

4.)  Deep Impact

3.)  The Shawshank Redemption

2.) Contact

1.) Harry Potter (the entire series)

Don't say this is a cheat, because it's a continuous story line.  So, yeah.  I'm using all eight movies as my #1 spot.  I think it works.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Off Schedule

I have the feeling it's going to be an odd sort of week.  My husband, who usually works nights, will be working day shirt starting this week.  The change is for training purposes, and I'm not sure how long it will last.  Either way, we all know how a shift in schedule can throw you off.  When you get used to a routine, it's never easy to change it.

Either way, no matter what else might feel off this week, I need my muse to be in top form.  I have to keep working on my A-Z Challenge posts.  I'm making good progress, but I have plenty more to do.

What are your plans for the week?  Are you doing the A-Z Challenge?  If you are, are you posting ahead of time or writing as you go?  How do you adapt to changes in your routine?

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Weekend Philosopher: Linguistic Power

I was watching Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Parts 1 & 2) the other night.  One quote from the film, which I've already seen multiple times, stuck with me and inspired me to talk about language today.

Background Image courtesy of sattva
Words do carry a lot of power.  When we're small children, the ridicule of our peers can sting far more than a scraped knee, no matter how many times adults try to assure us that words don't hurt.  Those who recite the old adage "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me" have also undoubtedly been wounded by words from time to time.  It's only natural that this should be the case.  As much as we try to shrug off the hurtful things that people say about us, they can at times pierce through our armor and wound us.

The right words can also help us aspire to greater things.  A rousing speech can band people together to fight for a common goal.

What grants language this creative and destructive power?

The answer is that we do.  As human beings, we created language as a way to communicate with the world.  We are isolated inside our own heads when we don't have effective means of communication.  Facial expressions and other physical gestures undoubtedly convey a lot on the emotional end of the spectrum, and this is quite valuable.  However, there is a limit to how much we can share through those means alone.

"The limits of my language are the limits of my world."
 -Ludwig Wittgenstein

Our language creates the bridge we build with others.  When we share a common language with someone, we can use our words to paint vivid images in the mind of another.  We can work together to build understandings of complex issues.  We build our culture together.

"One does not inhabit a country; one inhabits a language.  That is our country, our fatherland-and no other." 
-Emile M. Cioran

Words don't have a meaning independent of human interactions.  Languages are built in the same way we use them to build our cultural identities.  Words have meaning because people agree on their meanings.  Each time we speak a word to someone who shares our language, we confirm and hold true to that conferred meaning.  When we converse with one another, we must agree on the meanings of each word we say, otherwise we wouldn't make sense. 

Of course, the world is full of examples of misunderstandings, and those misunderstandings can be nasty at times.  They often occur when the meaning of a conversation is different for each of the participants.  People take offense, and often retaliate.  Sometimes when we converse with others, the offense is intended.  After all, we've all been a party in a situation where someone else intended to cut us with their words.

Yet, when the offense is one-sided, it can create just as great a rift as any intentional barb.

Background Image courtesy of Stuart Miles
Anything can be taken wrong.  Anything can be seen as a personal attack.  In the realm of politics and religion, people hold their beliefs particularly dearly. These belief systems are fortified by words that hold meaning people may treasure.  

Of course, this post has gone on too long already.  This sounds like a good stopping point.  I'll pick up where I left off next week!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Celebrate the Small Things-Week 9

A quick note.  For those who came to see my entry for the Got Green Blogfest, you can find it HERE.

Now it's time to Celebrate the Small Things with VikLit.

This has been a stressful week.  I mentioned last week that we had a problem with our bank account.  Someone got our information and used it to steal money.  Last I wrote, we were well on our way to sorting it out, but unfortunately, it took a little longer than we hoped to tie up all the loose ends.  We spent a majority of the week with a negative account balance because of it.  We had only the cash we happened to have on us when things started to go wrong.  Finally, when we were down to our last $6, everything fell into place and it was all fixed.

Now that we have money again, I just went book shopping on Amazon to celebrate. Yay!

Also, we found out my son Jude has a nasty ear infection, but we got medicine for it. As of now, he's feeling much better!

So things are looking up for us, and that's certainly worth celebrating!  What do you have to celebrate?

Got Green Blogfest 2.0

Today is the Got Green Blogfest, hosted by the one and only Mark Koopmans.

 Here’s the simple concept behind the Got Green? Blog O’hop:
I'd LOVE to hear your Irish stories, real or imagined...

For example,

·         What does St. Paddy’s Day mean to you?
·         What are your family traditions on Paddy’s Day?
·         What Irish food do you cook, if anything?
·         What are your favorite memories, or future plans to visit the Emerald Isle?
(Flash fiction is more than welcome for these or anything else you might want to share... I mean, seriously, we're only here for a pint of the dark stuff and a laugh.) 

I wanted to have a little fun with this.  I remember watching Whose Line is it Anyway? on a regular basis.  One of my favorite segments was Irish Drinking Songs.

Below is a clip for those of you who aren't familiar with the segment.  I apologize for the poor video quality, but this one is hilarious!

Now, here's my drinking song.  I did my best to salute the Irish culture and still make it fun.

Irish Drinking Song

Let it be said that I’m a simple man.
A modest cottage is where my life began.
Now I work the land, a farmer to the end.
This emerald isle is my lifelong friend!

As an Irishman, I love the color green.
The rolling, grassy hills are a beauty to be seen.
I keep a shamrock on my shirt for luck,
shout “Erin Go Bragh” while working in the muck!

After a long day in the fields, I go to the pub
to have a pint o’ Guinness and some grub.
Sing with my friends long into the night.
Our drinking songs are boastful and impolite!

After a night of drinking, I go home alone.
Sometimes it’s sad to sleep on my own.
I dream of finding myself and Irish lass
with flowing locks of red and a dose of sass!

This Irish life is surely the one for me.
A simple life is the only way I feel free.
A warning to any who calls this life a farce.
My mates and I will swiftly kick your arse!

In honor of St. Paddy, people proclaim for a day
that they too are Irish and love our Irish way.
I say that’s grand, but there’s too much beer
to celebrate my heritage naught but once a year!

Memoirs From the End of the World: Entry #28

It's Friday again, and time for another foray into a dark world.  For those who need to catch up on previous installments, you can find the entire story on this PAGE.

Memoirs From the End of the World
Entry #28

Confusion came first.  What in the world happened? RC wondered.  Why do I feel like I’ve been flattened by a train?

Pain.  An intense ache had taken root in every part of RC’s body, though some parts were worse than others.  She lay unmoving for several long moments, keeping her eyes closed.  The drowsiness kept her immersed in a fog as she tried to remember what happened.  All she knew for certain was that she didn’t feel right.

Nothing felt right.

Then she heard a voice.  She couldn’t distinguish the words at first, but the sound sent her heart racing.  Gas Can.  He was close, and that knowledge alone sent her heart racing.

The memories began to return, and that certainly did nothing for her calm.  Alyx.  What happened to him?  Where is he?  Is he here?  That question prompted her to open her eyes, though she peered through the tiniest crack between her eyelids.  She didn’t want to draw any unwanted attention.

The room was dark.  The warm air proved that they were indeed in an area friendly to Gas Can and his cohorts, but the stone wall that dominated her vision told her little else.  She lay on her side less than a foot away from it, and she could smell its earthiness.

“You really are more trouble than you’re worth, aren’t you?” Gas Can demanded.

“If that’s what you think, fine by me.”

Tim!  So they captured him too.  Did Ollie and Jill get away, or were they squirreled away somewhere?

“You realize what I’ll have to do to you if you don’t cooperate?” Gas Can replied, his voice rising with his rage.

“You can’t use my sister against me now, so why should I cooperate?”  Tim spat.  “Get it over with.  I’ve been waiting to die for weeks now.”

Okay.  So Jill got away, which meant Ollie did too.  She couldn’t have possibly been strong enough to escape on her own.  Though this did little to help her personally, she took some comfort in knowing that someone would be all right.

A chilling laugh made RC shiver.  “Very well.” 

She heard a set of footsteps rapidly approaching, and she didn’t have time to react before rough hands were hauling her to her feet.  Instinctively, she tried to resist, but she quickly learned that her wrists were firmly bound together, as were her ankles.  Any efforts were only a waste of precious energy at this point.

“Oh look, she’s even awake,” Gas Can announced gleefully.  “Now we can use her cries of pain as incentive.  I know she isn’t your sister, but surely as a human being you’ll still feel something in witnessing her suffering.”

Though these words unsettled RC, she took the opportunity to note her surroundings.  Tim was once again chained up in the same way he was when she first saw him.  This time, however, he looked much more alert.  His eyes pierced Gas Can like lasers.  His body was beaten, even broken, but his spirit sure wasn’t.  If anything, the knowledge that his sister was out of this monster’s hands had strengthened his resolve.

A situation Gas Can clearly wanted to remedy.  He moved his hands from RC’s shoulders to her throat.  “I could squeeze the life out of her, you know?  It wouldn’t be hard at all.”

Tim laughed.  It wasn’t a joyful sound, but a sound of mockery.  Derision.  RC had no doubt that Tim despised Gas Can in a rare way that only comes from intense suffering.  Even as a human being, seeing her suffer, someone he’d barely met, might not even begin to rival his deeply rooted need to defy this person he despised so thoroughly.  “I watched you torture my sister, and I still didn’t crack,” Tim announced coldly.  “What makes you think I’ll give in now?  Do you have any idea how many people I’ve seen die?”

Under normal circumstances (which she admittedly hadn’t found herself in for quite some time), she would have been furious about his casual dismissal of her.  However, in that moment, she could hardly blame him.  The rules had changed drastically since their alien overlords landed.  People had to be cautious about their allegiances.

“Are you sure about that?”  Gas Can still sounded smug as he tightened his grip around her throat.

RC’s heart beat so hard it felt like it was trying to break through her ribs.  She tried to draw a breath, only to find the effort futile.  The pain of strangulation shot through her body like a spider web, tendrils of pain exploding here and there.  She wanted to scream, to kick, to punch anything, but her bindings held firm.

So this was it.  This was how death would find her.  In a stone room, tied up so she couldn’t lift a finger to fend it off.

Then, as she cast her eyes about the room as that was the only part of her body capable of movement, they landed on a welcome sight.  Alyx lay against the opposite wall, bound up in similar fashion, only he was on his back.  His face was swollen and bruised, courtesy of Gas Can’s hospitality, and his eyes were closed.  Yet she saw that his chest moved with each breath, reassuring her that he was all right.  At least for the moment.

I wish I could talk to you one more time, Alyx, she thought.  I hope you don’t feel guilty for whatever happens to me.  This isn’t your fault.

Her thoughts became less coherent.  Her vision went fuzzy.  She struggled to breathe as her body made one last desperate attempt to stay alive.  All in vain.

Darkness descended on her like a curtain closing on the final act of a deranged play.